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tives of commerce or piety, and their accounts are such as migh reasonably be expected from men of a very narrow or very prejudiced education—the dictates of superstition, or the result of ignorance. Is it not surprising, that, of such a variety of adverturers, not one single philosopher should be found among the number? For, as to the travels of Ge. melli, the learned are long agreed that the whole is but an imposture.
There is scarce any country, how rude or uncul. tivated soever,
where the inhabitants are not pos. sessed of some peculiar secrets, either in nature or art, which might be transplanted with success; thus, for instance, in Siberian Tartary, the natives extract a strong spirit from milk, which is a secret probably unknown to the chemists in Europe. In the most savage parts of India they are possessed of the secret of dying vegetable substances scarlet, and likewise that of refining lead into a metal, which, for bardness and colour, is little inferior to silver; not one of which secrets but would, in Europe, make a man's fortune. The power of the Asiatics in producing winds, or bringing down rain, the Europeans are apt to treat as fabulous, because they have no instances of the like nature among themselves; but they would have treated the secrets of gunpowder, and the mariner's compass, in the same manner, had they been told the Chinese used such arts before the invention was common with themselves at home.
of all the English philosophers, I most reverence Bacon, that great and hardy genius: he it is, who, undaunted by the seeming difficulties that oppose, prompts human curiosity to examine every part of nature; and even exhorts man to try whether he cannot subject the tempest, the thunder, and even earthquakes, to human contronl. Oh! had a man of his daring spirit, of his genius, penetration, and learning, travelled to those countries which have been visited only by the superstitious aud mercenary, what might not mankind expect! How would he enlighten the regions to which he travelled! and what a variety of knowledge and useful improvement would he not bring back in exchange!
There is probably no country so barbarous, that would not disclose all it knew, if it received equivalent information; and I am apt to think, that a person who was ready to give more knowledge than he received, would be welcome wherever he came. All his care in travelling should only be, to suit his intellectual banquet to the people with whom he conversed ; he should not attempt to teach the unlettered Tartar astronomy, nor yet instruct the po. lite Chinese in the arts of subsistence : he should endeavour to improve the barbarian in the secrets of living comfortably; and the inhabitant of a more refined country, in the speculative pleasures of science. How much more nobly would a philosopher, thus employed, spend his time, than by sit. ting at home, earnestly intent upon adding one star more to his catalogue, or one monster more to his collection; or still, if possible, more triflingly sedalous, in the incatenation of fleas, or the sculpture of cherry-stones.
I never consider this subject without being surprised that none of those societies so laudably established in England for the promotion of arts and learning, have ever thought of sending one of their members into the most eastern parts of Asia, to make what discoveries he was able. To be con. vinced of the utility of such an undertaking, let them but read the relations of their own travellers.
It will there be found, that they are as often deceived themselves as they attempt to deceive others. The merchants tell us, perhaps, the price of different commodities, the methods of bailing them up, and the properest manner for a European to preserve his health in the country. The missionary, on the other hand, informs us with what pleasure the country to which he was sent embraced Christianity, and the numbers he converted; what methods he took to keep Lent in a region where there was no fish, or the shifts he made to celebrate the rites of his religion, in places where there was nei. ther bread nor wine: such accounts, with the usual appendage of marriages and funerals, inscriptions, rivers, and mountains, make up the whole of a European traveller's diary: but as to all the secrets of which the inhabitants are possessed, those are uni. versally attributed to magic; and wben the traveller can give no other account of the wonders he sees performed, he very contentedly ascribes them to the devil.
It was a usual observation of Boyle, the English chemist, that, if every artist would but discover what new observations occurred to him in the exer. cise of his trade, philosophy would thence gain innumerable improvements. It may be observed, with still greater jastice, that, if the useful knowledge of every country, howsoever barbarous was glean. ed by a judicious observer, the advantages would be inestimable. Are there not, even in Europe, many useful inventions known or practised but in one place? Their insti ument, as an example, for cutting down córn in Germany, is much more handy and expeditious, in my opinion, than the sickle úsed in England. The cheap and expeditious manner of making vinegar, without previous fermentation, is known only in a part of France. If such discoveries therefore remain still to be known at home what funds of knowledge might not be collected in countries, yet unexplored, or only passed through by ignorant travellers in hasty caravans ?
The caution with which foreigners are received in Asia, may be alleged as an objection to such a design. But how readily have several European merchants fonnd admission into regions the most suspicions, under the character of sanjapins, or northern pilgrims? To such, not even China itself denies access.
To send uut a traveller properly qualified for these purposes, might be an object of national coneern: it would, in some measure, repair the breaches made by ambition; and might show that there were still some who boasted a greater name than that of patriots, who professed themselves lovers of men.
The only difficulty would remain in choosing a proper person for so ardnons an enterprise. He should be a man of a philosophical turn; one apt to deduce consequences of general utility from particular occurrence; neither swoin with pride, nor hardened by prejudice ; neither wedded to one particular system, nor instructed only in one particular science; neither wholly a botanist, nor quite an antiquarian: his mind should be tinctured with miscellaneous knowledge, and his manners human. ised by an intercourse with men. He should be, in some measure, an enthusiast to the design; fond of travelling, from a rapid imagination, and an innate love of change ; furnished with a body capable of sustaining every fatigue, and a heart not easily terrified at danger.
A REVERIE AT THE BOAR'S-HEAD
TAVERN, IN EASTCHEAP. THE improvements we make in mental acquire.
ments only render us each day more sensible of the defects of our constitution : with this in view, therefore, let us often recar to the amusements of youth; endeavour to forget age and wisdom, and, as far as innocence goes, be as much a boy as the best of them.
Let idle declaimers mourn over the degeneracy of the age; but, in my opinion, every age is the same. This I am sure of, that man, in every sea. son, is a poor, fretful being, with no other means to escape the calamities of the times, but by endea vouring to forget them; for, if he attempts to resist, he is certainly undone. If I feel poverty and pain, I am not so hardy as to quarrel with the execu. tioner, even while under correction : I find myself no way disposed to make fine speeches, while I am making wry faces. In a word, let me drink when the fit is on, to make me insensible; and drink when it is over, for joy that I feel pain no longer.
The character of old Falstaff, even with all his faults, gives me more consolation than the most studied efforts of wisdom:1 here behold an agree. able old fellow, forgetting age, and showing me the way to be young at sixty-five. Sure I am well able to be as merry, though not so comical, as he. Is it not in my power to have, though not so much wit, at least as much vivacity?--Age, care, wisdom, reflection, begone!-I give you to the winds. Let's have t other bottle: here 's to the memory of Shakespeare, Falstaff, and all the merry men of Eastcheap