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bell-weather of Bantam, whose tail,'you know, is trundled along in a wheel-barrow.
Son of China! what contradi&tions do we find in this strange world! not only the people of different countries think in opposition to each other, but the inhabitants of a single island are often found inconsistent with them. felves; would you believe it? this very people my Fum, who are so fond of seeing their women with long tails, at the same time dock their horses to the very rump!!!
But you may easily guess, that I am no way displeased with a fashion which tends to increase a demand for the commodities of the East, and is so very beneficial to the country in which I was born. Nothing can be better cal. culated to increase the price of filk, than the present manner of dressing. A lady's train is not bought but at some expence, and after it has swept the public walks for a very few evenings, is fit to be worn no longer : more filk must be bought in order to repair the breach ; and some ladies of peculiar economy, are thus found to patch up their tails eight or ten times in a season. This unneceffary consumption may introduce poverty here, but then we shall be richer for it in China.
The man in black, who is a professed enemy to this manner of ornamenting the tail, assures me, there are numberless inconveniencies attending it, and that a lady dressed up to the fashion, is as much a cripple as any in Nankin. But his chief indignation is levelled at those who dress in this manner, without a proper fortune to support it. He assures me, that he has known some who would have a tail, though they wanted a petticoat, and others, who, without any other pretensions, fancied they became ladies, merely from the addition of three super
fluous yards of ragged silk; I know a thrifty good woman, continues he, who thinking herself obliged to carry a train like her betters, never walks from home, without the uneasy apprehensions of wearing it out too soon; every excursion she makes gives her new anxiety, and her train is every bit as importunate, and wounds her peace as much as the bladder we sometimes see tied to the tail of a cat.
Nay, he ventures to affirm, that a train may often bring a lady into the most critical circumstances; for should a rude fellow, says he, offer to come up to ravish a kiss, and the lady attempt to avoid it, in retiring she must necessarily tread upon her train, and thus fall fairly upon her back, by which means every one knows-her clothes may be spoiled.
The ladies here make no scruple to laugh at the smallness of a Chinese slipper, but I fancy our wives at China would have a more real cause of laughter, could they but see the immoderate length of an European train. Head of Confucius ! to view a human being crippling herself with a great unwieldy tail for our diversion ; backward she cannot go, forward she must move but slowly, and if ever she attempts to turn round, it must be in a cricle not smaller than that described by the wheeling crocodile when it would face an assailant. And yet to think that all this confers importance and majesty! to think that a lady acquires additional respect from fifteen yards of trailing taffeta! I cannot contain ha! ha! ha! this is certainly a remnant of European barbarity. The female Tartar, dressed in sheep skins, is in far more convenient drapery. Their own writers have sometimes inveighed against the absurdity of this
fashion, but perhaps it has never been ridiculed fo well as upon the Italian theatre, where Pasquariello being engaged to attend on the Countess of Fernambroco, having one of his hands employed in carrying her muff, and the other her lap-dog, he bears her train majestically along, by sticking it in the waistband of his breeches. Adieu.
FROM THE SAME.
H1 Dispute has for some time divided the philofophers of Europe ; it is debated, whether arts and sciences are more serviceable or prejudicial to mankind. They who maintain the cause of literature, endeavour to prove their usefulness from the impossibility of a large number of men subsisting in a small tract of country without them, from the pleasure which attends the acquisition, and from the influence of knowledge in promoting practical morality.
They who obtain the opposite opinion, display the happiness and innocence of those uncultivated nations who live without learning; urge the numerous vices which are to be found only in polished society, enlarge upon the oppression, the cruelty, and the blood which muft necessarily be shed, in order to cement civil so. ciety, and insist upon the happy equality of conditions in a barbarous state, preferable to the unnatural subordi, nation of a more refined constitution.
This dispute, which has already given so much em. ployment to speculative indolence, has been managed with much ardour, and (not to suppress our sentiments) with but little fagacity. They who insist that the sci. ences are useful in refined society are certainly right, and they who maintain that barbarous nations are more happy without them are right also; but when one side for this reason, attempts to prove them as universally useful to the folitary barbarian, as to the native of a crouded common-wealth; or when the other endeavours to banish them as prejudicial to all society, even from populous states as well as from the inhabitants of the wilderness, they are both wrong ; since that knowledge which makes the happiness of a refined European, would be a torment to the precarious tenant of an Asiatic wild.
Let me, to prove this, transport the imagination for a moment to the midst of a forest in Siberia. There we be. hold the inhabitant, poor indeed, but equally fond of happiness, with the most refined philosopher of China. The earth lies unçultivated and uninhabited for miles around him; his little family and he, the sole and undisputed possessors. In such circumstances nature and reason will indyce him to prefer a hunter's life to that of cultivating the earth. He will certainly adhere to that manner of living which is carried on at the small expence of labour, and that food which is most agreeable to the appetite; he will prefer indolent though precarious luxury, to a labo. rious though permanent competence; and a knowledge of his own happiness will determine him to persevere in native barbarity.
In like manner, his happiness will incline him to bind himself to no law! Laws are made in order to secure present property but he is possessed of no property which he is afraid to lose, and desires no more than will be sufficient to sustain him; to enter into compacts with others, would be undergoing a voluntary obligation without the expectance of any reward. He and his countrymen are tenants, not rivals, in the same inexhaustible forest; the increased possessions of one, by no means diminishes the expectations arising from equal assiduity in another: there are no need of laws therefore to repress ambition, there can be no mischief attending its most boundless gra. tification.
Our folitary Siberian will, in like manner, find the sciences not only entirely useless in directing his practice, but disgusting even in speculation. In every contemplation, our curiosity must be first excited by the appearances of things, before our reason undergoes the fatigue of investigating the causes. Some of those appearances are produced by experiment, others by minuite inquiry ; fome arise from a knowledge of foreign climates, and others from an intimate study of our own. But there are few objects in comparison, which present themselves to the inhabitant of a barbarous country; the game he hunts, or the transient cottage he builds, make up the chief ob. jects of his concern; his curiosity therefore must be proportionably less; and if that is diminished, the reason. ing faculty will be diminished in proportion,
Besides, sensual enjoyment adds wings to curiosity. We consider few objects with ardent attention, but those which have some connexion with our wishes, our pleasures, or our necessities. A desire of enjoyment first interests