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each other. The world becomes very little the better or the wiser, for knowing what is the peculiar food of an insect, 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 ænigmas, 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 warehouse 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, laborious 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 have certainly no connexion at all. However, the learned have written on and pursued the subject through all the labyrinths of antiquity, though the early dews and the tainted gale be passed away, though no footsteps remain to direct the doubtful chace, yet still they run forward, open upon the uncertain scent, and though in fact they follow nothing, are earnest in the pursuit. In this chace however they all take different ways. One, for example, confidently assures us, that China was peopled by a colony from Egypt. Sesostris, 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 porcelaine tower; the Egytians 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 Atoes ; 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 last ; and he will have the Chinese to be a colony planted by Noah, just after the deluge. First, from the vast similitude there is between the name of Fohi, the founder of the Chinese monarchy, and that of Noah, the preserver of the human race; Noah, Fohi, very like each other truly; they 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; therefore, 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 incrustated mud ; if it was incrustated, it was clothed with verdure ; this was a fme, unembarrassed 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 sect of literati, for they all pass among the vulgar for very great scholars, assert, that the Chinese came neither from the colony of Sesostris, nor from Noah, but are descended from Magog, Meshec 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.
coat, or pinched hat are sure to receive no quarter, If they meet po 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. Dilferent from the poor, instead of becoming more insolent, they grow totally unfit for opposition. ral here, who would have faced a culverin when well, if the fit be on him, shall hardly find courage to snuff a candle. An admiral, who could have opposed a broadside without shrinking, shall sit 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 eyebrows.
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 gambling-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 exchange 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 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 disorder mostly to the influence of the weather. It is impossible to describe what a variety of transmutations an East wind will 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 certainty 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 flannel 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 lips, continued to gaze at me for some moments very angrily, and then proceeded to practise his gamut as before. After having produced a variety of the most hideous tones in nature ; at last turning to me, he demanded, whether I did not think he had 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 les
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