« ПредишнаНапред »
good offers, and are never likely to receive any for the future.
The only advice, therefore, I could give the fair sex, as things stand at present, is to get husbands as fast as they can. There is certainly nothing in the whole creation, not even Babylon in ruins, more truly deplorable than a lady in the virgin bloom of sixtythree, nor a battered unmarried beau, who squibs about from place to place, showing his pigtail wig and his ears. The one appears to my imagination in the form of a double night-cap, or a roll of pomatum ; the other in the shape of an electuary, or a box of pills.
I would once more therefore advise the ladies to get husbands. I would desire them not to discard an old lover without very sufficient reasons, nor treat the new with ill-nature till they know him false ; let not prudes allege the falseness of the sex; coquets the pleasures of long courtship, or parents the necessary preliminaries of penny for penny. I have reasons that would silence even a casuist in this particular. In the first place, therefore, I divide the subject into fifteen heads, and then sic argumentor-but not to give you and myself the spleen, be contented at present with an Indian tale.
In a winding of the river Amidar, just before it falls into the Caspian sea, there lies an island unfrequented by the inhabitants of the Continent. In this seclusion, blest with all that wild uncultivated Nature could bestow, lived a princess and her two daughters. She had been wrecked upon the coast while her children as yet were infants, who of consequence, though grown up, were entirely unacquainted with man. Yet unexperienced as the young ladies were in the opposite sex, both early discovered symptoms, the one of prudery, the other of being a coquet. The eldest was ever learning maxims of wisdom and discretion from her mamma, while the youngest employed all her hours in gazing at her own face in a neighbouring fountain. shall swell his works with a description of the plumage on the wing of a butterfly ; a third shall see a little world on a peach leaf, and publish a book to describe what his readers might see more clearly in two minutes, only by being furnished with eyes and a microscope.
Their usual amusement in this solitude was fishing: their mother had taught them all the secrets of the art; she showed them which were the most likely places to throw out the line, what baits were most proper for the various seasons, and the best manner to draw up the finny prey, when they had hooked it. In this manner they spent their time, easy and innocent, till one day, the Princess being indisposed, desired them to go and catch her a sturgeon or a shark for supper, which she fancied might sit easy on her stomach. The daughters obeyed, and clapping on a gold fish, the usual bait on those occasions, went and sat upon one of the rocks, letting the gilded hook glide down with the stream.
On the opposite shore, further down, at the mouth of the river, lived a diver for pearls; a youth, who by long habit in his trade, was almost grown amphibious; so that he could remain whole hours at the bottom of the water, without ever fetching breath. He happened to be at that very instant diving when the ladies were fishing with the gilded hook. Seeing therefore the bait, which to him had the appearance of real gold, he was resolved to seize the prize, but both his hands being already filled with pearl oysters, he found himself obliged to snap at it with his mouth : the consequence is easily imagined; the hook, before unperceived, was instantly fastened in his jaw, nor could he, with all his efforts, or his floundering get free.
“ Sister," cries the youngest Princess, “ I have
certainly caught a monstrous fish; I never perceiv" ed any thing struggle so at the end of my line be« fore; come, and help me to draw it in.” They both now therefore assisted in fishing up the diver on
berty, bent his breast against the broad wave and disappeared in an instant.
Just at this juncture the mother came down to the beach, to know the cause of her daughters' delay; they told her every circumstance, describing the monster they had caught. The old lady was one of the most discreet women in the world ; she was called the black-eyed Princess, from two black eyes she had received in her youth, being a little addicted to boxing in her liquor. “ Alas, my children,” cries she, “ what have you done ? the fish you caught was a " man-fish; one of the most tame domestic animals “ in the world. We could have let him run and play 6 about the garden, and he would have been twenty 6 times more entertaining than our squirrel or mon“ key.” “ If that be all,” says the young coquet,
we will fish for him again. If that be all, I'll hold " three tooth-picks to one pound of snuff, I catch him " whenever I please.” Accordingly they threw in their line once more, but with all their gilding and paddling, and assiduity, they could never after catch the diver. In this state of solitude and disappointment they continued for many years, still fishing, but without success; till at last the genius of the place, in pity to their distresses, changed the prude into a shrimp, and the coquet into an oyster. Adieu
I have frequently compared the understandings of such men to their own glasses. Their field of vision is too contracted to take in the whole of any but minute objects; they view all Nature bit by bit ; now the proboscis, now the attennæ, now the pinnæ ofa flea. Now the polypus comes to breakfast upon a worm ; now it is kept up to see how long it will live without eating ; now it is turned inside outward; and now it sickens and dies. Thus they proceed, laborious in trifles, constant in experiment, without one single abstraction, by which alone knowledge may be properly said to increase ; till at last their ideas, ever employed upon minute things, contract to the size of the diminutive object, and a single mite shall fill the whole mind's capacity.
Yet believe me, my friend, ridiculous as these men are to the world, they are set up as objects of esteem for each other. They have particular places appointed for their meetings ; in which one shows his cockle shell, and is praised by all the society; another produces his powder, makes some experiments that result in nothing, and comes off with admiration and applause ; a third comes out with the important discovery
some new process in the skeleton of a mole, and is set down as the accurate and sensible ; while one still more fortunate than the rest, by pickling, potting, and preserving monsters, rises into unbounded reputation
The labours of such men, instead of being calculated to amuse the public, are laid out only in diverting