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FROM LIEN CHI ALTANGI TO FUM HOAM, FIRST
PRESIDENT OF THE CEREMONIAL ACADEMY AT
IN every society, some men are born to teach, and others to receive instruction; some to work, and others to enjoy in idleness the fruits of their industry; some to govern and others to obey. Every people, how free soever, must be contented to give up part of their liberty and judgment to those who govern, in exchange for their hopes of security; and the motives which first influenced their choice in the election of their governors, fhould ever be weighed against the succeeding apparent inconsistencies of their conduct. All cannot be rulers, and men are generally best governed by a few. In making way through the intricacies of business, the smallest obstacles are apt to retard the execution of what is to be planed by a multiplicity of counsels; the judgment of one alone being always fittest for winding through the labyrinths of intrigue, and the obstructions of disappointment. A serpent, which, as the fable observes, is furnished with one head and many tails, is much more capable of subsistence and expedition, than another which is furnished with but one tail and many heads.
Obvious as these truths are, the people of this country seem insensible of their force. Not satisfied with the ad. vantages of internal peace and opulence, they still mur. mur at their governors, and interfere in the execution
of their designs; as if they wanted to be something more than happy. But as the Europeans instruct by argument, and the Asiatics mostly by narration, were I to address them, I should convey my sentiments in the following story.
Takupi had long been prime minister of Tipartala, a fertile country that stretches along the western confines of China. During his administration, whatever advantages could be derived from arts, learning, and commerce, were seen to bless the people; nor were the necessary precautions of providing for the security of the state for. gotten. It often happens, however, that when men are possessed of all they want, they then begin to find tor. ment from imaginary afflictions, and lessen their present enjoyment, by foreboding that those enjoyments are to have an end. The people now, therefore endeavoured to find out grievances; and after some search, actually began to think themselves aggrieved. A petition against the enormities of Takupi was carried to the throne in due form; and the queen who governed the country, willing to satisfy her subjects, appointed a day, in which his accusers should be heard, and the minister should stand upon his defence.
The day being arrived, and the minister brought before the tribunal, a carrier, who supplied the city with fish, appeared among the number of his accusers. He exclaimed, that it was the custom, time immemorial, for car. riers to bring their fifh upon a horse in a hamper; which being placed on one side, and balanced by a stone on the other, was thus conveyed with ease and safety; but that the prisoner, moved either by a spirit of innovation, or perhaps bribed by the hamper-makers, had obliged all
carriers to use the stone no longer, but balance one ham. per with another; an order entirely repugnant to the cus. toms of all antiquity, and those of the kingdom of Ti. partala in particular.
The carrier finished, and the whole court shook their heads at the innovating minister, when a second witness appeared. He was inspector of the city buildings, and accused the disgraced favorite of having given orders for the demolition of an ancient ruin, which obstructed the passage through one of the principal streets. He observed, that such buildings were noble monuments of barbarous antiquity; contributed finely to shew how little their ancestors understood of architecture, and for that reason such monuments should be held sacred, and suffered gradually to decay.
The last witness now appeared. This was a widow who laudably attempted to burn herself upon her hus. band's funeral pile. But the innovating minister had prevented the execution of her design, and was insensible to her tears, protestations, and entreaties,
The queen could have pardoned the two former of. fences, but this last was considered as so gross an injury to the sex, and so directly contrary to all the customs of antiquity, that it called for immediate justice. “What, (cried the queen,) not suffer a woman to burn herself when she thinks proper. The sex are to be very prettily tutored, no doubt, if they must be restrained from entertaining their female friends now and then with a fried wife, or roasted acquaintance. I sentence the cri. minal to be banished my presence for ever, for his in. jurious treatment of the sex.”
Takupi had been hitherto silent, and spoke only to fhew the sincerity of his resignation. “Great Queen, cried he, I acknowledge my crime; and since I am to be banished, I beg it may be to some ruined town or desolate village in the country I have governed. I shall find some pleasure in improving the soil, and bringing back a spirit of industry among the inhabitants.” His request appearing reasonable, it was immediately complied with, and a courtier had orders to fix upon a place of banishment answering the minister's description. After some months search, however, the enquiry proved fruitless; neither a desolate village, nor a ruined town was found in the whole kingdom. “ Alas !" said Takupi to the queen, “how can that country be ill-governed, which has neither a desolate village, nor a ruined town in it?" The queen perceived the justice of his expoftulation, and the minister was received into for. mer favour.
FROM THE SAME.
I HE ladies here are by no means such ardent game. sters as the women of Asia. In this respect I must do the English justice ; for I love to praise where applause is justly merited. Nothing more common in China than to see two women of fashion continue gaming till one has won all the other's clothes, and stripped her quite naked; the winner thus marching off in a double suit of finery, and the loser shrinking behind in the primitive simplicity of nature.
No doubt, you remember when Shang our maiden aunt played with a sharper. First her money went; then her trinkets were produced; her clothes followed, piece by piece, soon after ; when she had thus played herself quite naked, being a woman of spirit and willing to pursue her own, she staked her teeth; fortune was against her even here, and her teeth followed her clothes ; at last she played for her left eye, and, oh! hard fate, this too she loft ; however, she had the consolation of biting the sharper, for he never perceived that it was made of glass till it became his own.
How happy, my friend, are the English ladies, who never rise to such an inordinance of passion! Though the sex here are naturally fond of games of chance, and are taught to manage games of skill from their infancy, yet they never pursue ill fortune with such amazing intre. pidity. Indeed I may entirely acquit them of ever playing-I mean of playing for their eyes or their teeth.
It is true, they often stake their fortune, the r beauty, health, and reputations at a gaming table. It even some.. times happens, that they play their husbands into a jail ; yet still they preserve a decorum unknown to our wives and daughters in China. I have been present at a rout in this country, where a woman of fashion, after losing her money, has sat writhing in all the agonies of bad luck; and yet, after all, never once attempted to strip a single petticoat, or cover the board, at her last stake, with her head clothes.
However, though I praise their moderation at play, I must not conceal their assiduity. In China our women, except upon some great days, are never permitted to finger a dice-box; but here every day seems to be a felti.