Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

smile at the oddity of my opinion ; but be assured, my friend, that wit is in some measure mechanical ; and that a man long habituated to catch at even its resem. blance, will at last be happy enough to possess the substance: by a long habit of writing he acquires a juftness of thinking, and a mastery of manner, which 'holiday writers, even with ten times his genius, may vainly attempt to equal. · How then are they deceived, who expećt from title, dignity, and exterior circumstance, an excellence, which is in some measure, acquired by habit, and sharpened by necessity; you have seen, like me, many literary reputations promoted by the influence of fashion, which have scarce survived the possessor, you have seen the poor hardly earn the little reputation they acquired, and their merit only acknowledged, when they were incapable of enjoying the pleasures of popularity; such, however, is the reputation worth possessing, that which is hardly earned is hardly lost. Adieu.

LETTER XCIV.

FROM HINGPO, IN MOSCOW, TO LIEN CHI AL

TANGI, IN LONDON.

VV HERE will my disappointments end ? Must I · still be doomed to accuse the feverity of my fortune, and

fhew my constancy in distress rather than moderation in prosperity ? I had at least hopes of conveying my charming companion safe from the reach of every enemy, and

[ocr errors]

of again restoring her to her native soil. But those hopes are now no more,

Upon leaving Terki, we took the nearest road to the dominions of Russia. We passed the Ural mountains covered in eternal snow, and traversed the forests of Ufa, where the prowling bear and shrieking hyæna keep an undisputed possession. We next embarked upon the ra. pid river Bolija, and made the best of our way to the banks of the Wolga, where it waters the fruitful valleys of Casan.

There were two vessels in company, properly equipped and armed, in order to oppose the Wolga pirates, who, we were informed, infested this river. Of all mankind, these tyrants are the most terrible. They are com. posed of the criminals and outlawed peasants of Russia, who fly to the forefts that lie along the banks of the Wol. ga for protection. Here they join in parties, lead a savage life, and have no other subsistence but plunder. Being deprived of houses, friends, or a fixed habitation, they become more terrible even than the tyger, and as in. sensible to all the feelings of humanity. They neither give quarter to those they conquer, nor receive it when overpowered themselves. The severity of the laws against them, serve to increase their barbarity, and seem to make them a neutral species of beings, between the wildness of the lion, and the subtilty of the man. When taken alive, their punishment is hideous. A floating gibbet is erected, which is let run down with the stream; here, upon an iron hook stuck under their ribs, and upon which the whole weight of their body depends, they are left to expire in the most terrible agonies; some being thus found to linger several days successively.

. We were but three days voyage from the confluence of this river into the Wolga, when we perceived at a distance behind us an armed bark coming up with the aslı ftance of fails and oars, in order to attack us. The dreadful signal of death was hung upon the mast, and our captain with his glass could easily discern them to be pi. rates. It is impossible to express our consternation on this occasion; the whole crew instantly come together, to consult the properest means of safety. It was therefore foon determined to send off our women and valuable commodities in one of our vessels, and that the men should stay in the other, and boldly oppose the enemy. This resolution was soon put into execution, and I now reluctantly parted from the beautiful Zelis, for the first time since our retreat from Persia. The vessel in which she was disappeared to my longing eyes, in proportion as that of the pirates approached us. They foon came up; but upon examining our strength, and perhaps sensible of the manner in which we had sent off our most valuable effects, they seemed more eager to pursue the vessel we had sent away, than attack us. In this manner they continued to harass us for three days; ftill endeavouring to pass us without fighting. But, on the fourth day, find. ing it entirely impossible, and despairing to seize the expected booty, they desisted from their endeavours, and left us to pursue our voyage without interruption.

Our joy on this occasion was great; but soon a disappointment more terrible, because unexpected, succeeded. The bark in which our women and treasure were sent off, was wrecked upon the banks of the Wolga, for want of a proper number of hands to manage her, and the whole crew carried by the peasants up the country. Of this, however, we were not sensible till our arrival at Moscow; where, expecting to meet our separated bark, we were informed of its misfortune, and our loss. Need I paint the situation of my mind on this occasion ? Need I describe all I feel, when I despair of beholding the beautiful Zelis more! fancy had dressed the future profpect of my life in the gayest colouring, but one unex. pected stroke of fortune has robbed it of every charm. Her dear idea mixes with every scene of pleasure, and without her presence to enliven it, the whole becomes tedious, infipid, insupportable. I will confess, now that she is loft, I will confess, I loved her; nor is it in the power of time, or of reason, to erase her image from my heart. Adieu.

LETTER XCV.

FROM LÍEN CHI ALTANGI TO, HINGPO, AT MOS.

cow.*

[ocr errors]

Y OUR misfortunes are mine. But as every period of life is marked with its own, you must learn to en. dure them. Disappointed love, makes the misery of youth; disappointed ambition, that of manhood; and successless avarice, that of age. These three attack us through life; and it is our duty to stand upon our guard. To love, we ought to oppose dissipation, and endeavour to change the object of the affections; to ambition, the

[ocr errors][merged small]

# This letter is a rhapsody from the maxims of the philosopher Me. Vide

Lett. curieuses et edifiantes. Vide etiam Du Halde, vol. ii. p. 98.
Vol. II.

к

happiness of indolence and obscurity; and to avarice, the fear of foon dying. These are the shields with which we should arm ourselves, and thus make every scene of life, if not pleasing, at least supportable.

Men complain of not finding a place of repose. They are in the wrong; they have it for seeking. What they indeed should complain of, is, that the heart is an enemy to that very repose they seek. To themselves alone should they impute their discontent. They seek within the short span of life to satisfy a thousand desires, each of which alone is unsatiable. One month passes and another comes on: the year ends and then begins; but man is still unchanging in folly, still blindly conti. nuing in prejudice. To the wise man every climate and every soil is pleasing; to him a parterre of flowers is the famous valley of gold; to him a little brook, the fountain of young peach trees ;* to such a man, the melody of birds is more ravishing than the harmony of a full concert: and the tincture of the cloud preferable to the tincture of the finest pencil. ·

The life of a man is a journey, a journey that must be travelled, however bad the roads, or the accommodation. If, in the beginning, it is found dangerous, narrow, and difficult, it must either grow better in the end, or we shall by custom learn to bear its inequality.

But though I see you incapable of penetrating into grand principles, attend at least to a simile adapted to every apprehension. I am mounted upon a wretched ass. I see another man before me upon a sprightly horse, at which I find some uneasiness. I look behind

* This passage the editor does not understand.

« ПредишнаНапред »