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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 fit 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, farther 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 hands being already filled with pearl oysters, 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 perceived any thing ftruggle so at the end of my line before; come and help me to draw it in.” They both now, therefore, assisted in fishing up the diver on shore; but nothing could equal their surprise upon seeing him. “ Bless my eyes, cries the prude, what have we got here; this is a very odd fish to be sure; I never saw any thing in my life look
so queer ; what eyes, what terrible claws, what a mon.... strous snout : I have read of this monster somewhere before, it certainly must be a tanglang that eats women; let us throw it back into the sea where we found it.”
The diver in the mean time stood upon the beach, at the end of the line, with the hook in his mouth, using every art that he thought could best excite pity, and particularly looking extremely tender, which is usual in such circumstances. The coquet, therefore, in some measure influenced by the innocence of his looks, ventured to contradict her companion. “ Upon my word, fister, says she, I see nothing in the animal so very terrible as you are pleased to apprehend; I think it may serve well enough for a change. Always sharks, and sturgeons, and lobsters, and craw-fish, make me quite sick. I fancy a slice of this nicely grilled, and dressed up with shrimpsauce, would be very pretty eating. I fancy mamma would like a bit with pickles above all things in the world: and if it should not fit easy on her stomach, it will be time enough to discontinue it when found disagreeable, you know.” Horrid, cries the prude, would the girl be poisoned. I tell you it is a tanglang ; I have read of it in twenty places; it is every where described as the most pernicious animal that ever infested the ocean. I am certain it is the most insidious ravenous creature in the world ; and is certain destruction if taken internally." The youngest sister was now therefore obliged to submit: both assisted in drawing the hook with some violence from the diver's jaw; and he finding himself at liberty, 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 filh you caught was a man-fish; one of the most tame domestic animals in the world. We could have let him run and play about the garden, and he would have been twenty times more entertaining than our squirrel or monkey.” “ If that be all, says the young coquet, we will fish for him again. If that be all, I will 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, ftill fishing, but without success; till, at last, the genius of the place, in pity to their distress, changed the prude into a shrimp, and the coquet into an oyster. Adieu.
FROM THE SAME.
I AM amused, my dear Fum, with the labours of some of the learned here. One shall write you a whole folio on the dissection of a caterpillar. Another 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.
I have frequently compared the understandings of such men to their own glasses. Their field of vision are too contracted to take in the whole of any but minute objects; they view all nature bit by bit; now the probos. cis, now the antennæ, now the pinnæ of—a 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 fickens and dies. Thus they proceed, laborious in trifles, constant in experiment, without one fingle abstraction, by which alone knowledge may be properly said to increase, till, at last their ideas, ever employed upon minute things, contract the size of the diminutive object, and a single mite shall fill their whole mind's pacity.
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 shews his cockle shell, and is praised by all the society ; another produces his powder, makes fome experiments that result in nothing, and comes off with admiration and applause , a third comes out with the important discovery of 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 for diverting each other. The world becomes very little the better or the wiser; for knowing what is the peculiar food of an in. sect, that is itself the food of another, which, in its turn, is eaten by a third ; but there are men who have studied themselves into an habit of investigating and admiring such minutiæ. To these such subjects are pleasing, as there are some who contentedly spend whole days in endeavouring to solve enigmas, or disentangle the puzzling sticks of children.
But of all the learned, those who pretend to investigate remote antiquity, have least to plead in their own defence, when they carry this passion to a faulty excess. They are generally found to supply by conjecture the want of record, and then by perseverance are wrought up into a confidence of the truth of opinions, which even to themselves at first appeared founded only in imagination.
The Europeans have heard much of the kingdom of China: its politeness, arts, commerce, laws, and morals, are, however, but very imperfectly known among them. They have, even now, in their Indian warehouses, numberless utensils, plants, minerals, and machines, of the use of which they are entirely ignorant; nor can any among them even make a probable guess for what they might have been designed. Yet though this people be so ignorant of the present real state of China, the philosophers I am describing have entered into long, learned, labori. ous disputes, about what China was two thousand years ago. China and European happiness are but little connected even at this day; but European happiness and China' two thousand years ago had certainly no connexion at all. However, the learned have written on