Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

and perused the subject through all the labyrinths of antiquity; though the early dews and the tainted gale be passed away, though no foot-steps' remain to direct the doubtful chase, yet still they run forward, open upon the uncertain scent, and though in fact they follow nothing, are earnest in the pursuit. In this chase, however, they all take different ways. One, for example, confidently assures us, that China was peopled by a colony from Egypt. Sefoftris, he observes, led his army as far as the Ganges; therefore, if he went so far, he might still have gone as far as China, which is but about a thousand miles from thence; therefore he did go to China; therefore China was not peopled before he went there; therefore it was peopled by him. Besides, the Egyptians have pyramids; the Chinese have in like manner their porcelian tower; the Egyptians used to light up candles upon every rejoicing, the Chinese have lanthorns upon the same occasion; the Egyptians had their great river, so have the Chinese; but what serves to put the matter past a doubt is, that the ancient kings of China and those of Egypt were called by the same names. The emperor Ki is certainly the same with king Atges; for, if we only change K into A, and I into toes, we shall have the name Atoes; and with equal ease Menes may be proved to be the same with the emperor Yu; therefore the Chinese are a colony from Egypt.

But another of the learned is entirely different from the laft; and he will have the Chinese to be a colony planted by Noah just after the deluge. First, from the vast fic militude there is between the name of Fohi, the founder of Chinese monarchy, and that of Noah, the preserver of the human race: Noah, Fohi, very like each other truly; they

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

have each but four letters, and only two of the four
happen to differ. But to strengthen the argument, Fohi,
as the Chinese chronicle asserts, had no father. Noah,
it is true, had a father as the European bible tells us;
but then, as this father was probably drowned in the
flood, it is just the same as if he had no father at all; there-
fore Noah and Fohi are the same. Just after the flood
the earth was covered with mud ; if it was covered with
mud, it must have been incrusted mud; if it was incrusted
it was clothed with verdure; this was a fine unembar.
rassed road for Noah to fly from his wicked children; he
therefore did fly from them, and took a journey of two
thousand miles for his own amusement; therefore Noah
and Fohi are the same.

Another feet of. literati, for they all pass among the vulgar for very great scholars, assert that the Chinese came neither from the colony of Sefoftris, nor from Noah, but are descended from Magog, Melhec, and Tubal, and therefore neither Sesostris, nor Noah, nor Fohi are the same.

It is thus, my friend, that indolence assumes the airs of wisdom, and while it tosses the cup and ball with infantine folly, desires the world to look on, and calls the stupid pastime philosophy and learning. Adieu.

LETTER XC.

FROM THE SAME.

W H EN the men of this country are once turned of thirty, they regularly retire every year at proper intervals

to lie in of the spleen. The vulgar, unfurnished with the luxurious comforts of the soft cushion, down bed, and easy chair, are obliged, when the fit is on them, to nurse it up by drinking, idleness, and ill humour. In such dispositions, unhappy is the foreigner who happens to cross them; his long chin, tarnished coat, or pinched hat, are sure to receive no quarter. If they meet no foreigner, however, to fight with, they are, in such cases, generally content with beating each other.

The rich, as they have more sensibility, are operated upon with greater violence by this disorder. Different from the poor, instead of becoming more insolent, they grow totally unfit for opposition. A general here, who would have faced a culverin when well, if the fit be on him, shall hardly find courage to snuff a candle. An ad. miral, who could have opposed a broadside without shrinking, shall fit whole days in his chamber, mobbed up in double night-caps, shuddering at the intrusive breeze, and distinguishable from his wife only by his black beard and heavy eye-brows.

In the country this disorder mostly attacks the fair sex, in town it is most unfavourable to the men. A lady, who has pined whole years amidst cooing doves, and complaining nightingales in rural retirement, shall resume all her vivacity in one night at a city gaming table; her husband, who roared, hunted, and got drunk at home, shall grow splenetic in town, in proportion to his wife's good humour. Upon their arrival in London, they change their disorders. In consequence of her parties and excursions, he puts on the furred cap and scarlet stomacher, and perfectly resembles an Indian husband, who, when

VOL. 11.

his wife is safely delivered, permits her to transact business abroad, while he undergoes all the formality of keeping his bed, and receiving all the condolence in her place.

But those who reside constantly in town owe this diforder mostly to the influence of the weather. It is im. poflible to describe what a variety of transmutations an east wind shall produce; it has been known to change a lady of fashion into a parlour couch; an alderman into a plate of custards, and a dispenser of justice into a rat-trap. Even philosophers themselves are not exempt from its influence; it has often converted a poet into a coral and bells, and a patriot senator into a dumb waiter.

Some days ago I went to visit the man in black, and entered his house with that cheerfulness which the cer. tainty of a favourable reception always inspires. Upon opening the door of his apartment, I found him with the most rueful face imaginable, in a morning gown and flan. nel night-cap, earnestly employed in learning to blow the German flute. Struck with the absurdity of a man in the decline of life, thus blowing away all his constitution and spirits, even without the consolation of being musical, I ventured to ask what could induce him to attempt learning so difficult an instrument so late in life. To this he made no reply, but groaning, and still holding the flute to his lip, continued to gaze at me for some moments very angrily, and then proceeded to practise his gammut as before. After having produced a variety of the most hidious tones in nature ; at last turning to me, he demanded whether I did not think he made a surprising progress in two days? You see, continues he, I have got the Ambusheer already, and as for fingering, my master tells

me, I shall have that in a few lessons more. I was so much astonished with this instance of inverted ambition, that I knew not what to reply, but soon discerned the cause of all his absurdities; my friend, was under a metamorphosis by the power of spleen, and flute blowing was unluckily become his adventitious passion.

In order therefore to banish his anxiety imperceptibly, by seeming to indulge it, I began to descant on those gloomy topics, by which philosophers often get rid of their own spleen, by communicating it; the wretched ness of a man in this life, the happiness of some wrought out of the miseries of others, the necessity that wretches should expire under punishment, that rogues might enjoy affluence in tranquillity ; I led him on from the inhu. manity of the rich to the ingratitude of the beggar; from the insincerity of refinement to the fierceness of rusticity; and at last had the good fortune to restore him to his usual serenity of temper, by permitting him to expatiate upon all the modes of human misery.

For Some nights ago, says my friend, fitting alone by my fire, I happened to look into an account of the de. tection of a set of men called the thief-takers. I read over the many hidious cruelties of those haters of man-kind, of their pretended friendship to wretches they - meant to betray, of their sending men out to rob, and then hanging them. I could not avoid sometimes interrupting the narrative, by crying out, " Yet these are men!" As I went on, I was informed that they had lived by this practice several years, and had been enriched by blood, “ and yet,” cried I, “ I have been sent into this world, and am desired to call these men my brothers!" I read that the very man who led the condemned

« ПредишнаНапред »