Слике страница
PDF
ePub

benevolence prevailed over national ani- gained three signal victories over the mosity; their prisoners were indeed ene- Tartars, who had invaded his dominions, mies, but they were enemies in distress ; returned to Nankin, in order to enjoy they ceased to be hateful when they no the glory of his conquest. After he had longer continued to be formidable : forrested for some days, the people, who getting, therefore, their national hatred, are naturally fond of processions, imthe men who were brave enough to con patiently expected the triumphant entry quer, were generous enough to forgive ; which emperors upon such occasions and they whom all the world seemed to were accustomed to make : their murhave disclaimed, at last found pity and murs came to the emperor's ear; he redress from those they attempted to sub- loved his people, and was willing to do due. A subscription was opened, ample all in his power to satisfy their just desires. charities collected, proper necessaries pro- He therefore assured them, that he incured, and the poor gay sons of a merry tended, upon the next feast of the Lannation were once more taught to resume terns, to exhibit one of the most glorious their former gaiety.

triumphs that had ever been seen in When I cast my eye over the list of China. those who contributed on this occasion, The people were in raptures at his I find the names almost entirely English; condescension ; and, on the appointed scarce one foreigner appears among the day, assembled at the gates of the palace number. It was for Englishmen alone to with the most eager expectations. Here be capable of such exalted virtue. I own they waited for some time, without seeing I cannot look over this catalogue of any of those preparations which usually good men and philosophers, without precede a pageant. The lantern, with thinking better of myself, because it ten thousand tapers, was not yet brought makes me entertain a more favourable forth ; the fireworks, which usually opinion of mankind. I am particularly covered the city walls, were not yet struck with one who writes these words lighted : the people once more began to upon the paper that enclosed his bene- | murmur at this delay, when, in the midst faction : "The mite of an Englishman, of their impatience, the palace-gates flew a citizen of the world, to Frenchmen, open, and the emperor himself appeared, prisoners of war, and naked.” I only not in splendour or magnificence, but in wish that he may find as much pleasure an ordinary habit, followed by the blind, from his virtues as I have done in the maimed, and the strangers of the reflecting upon them; that alone will city, all in new clothes, and each carrying amply reward him. Such a one, my in his hand money enough to supply his friend, is an honour to human nature ; he necessities for the year. The people were makes no private distinctions of party; at first amazed, but soon perceived the all that are stamped with the divine wisdom of their king, who taught them, image of their Creator are friends to that to make one man happy, was more him

: he is a native of the world ; and truly great than having ten thousand the Emperor of China may be proud that captives groaning at the wheels of his he has such a countryman.

chariot. - Adieu. To rejoice at the destruction of our enemies is a foible grafted upon human nature, and we must be permitted to

LETTER XXIV indulge it: the true way of atoning for such an ill-founded pleasure, is thus to WHATEVER may be the merits of the turn our triumph into an act of bene- English in other sciences, they seem pevolence, and to testify our own joy by culiarly excellent in the art of healing. endeavouring to banish anxiety from There is scarcely a disorder incident to others.

humanity, against which they are not Hamti, the best and wisest emperor possessed with a most infallible antidote. that ever filled the throne, after having The professors of other arts confess the

To the same.

no

inevitable intricacy of things; talk with expect from the patient's son, now doubt, and decide with hesitation : but longer an heir, and his wife, now no doubting is entirely unknown in medicine; longer a widow ! the advertising professors here delight in Think not, my friend, that there is any cases of difficulty. Be the disorder never thing chimerical in such an attempt; they so desperate or radical, you will find already perform cures equally strange. numbers in every street, who, by levelling What can be more truly astonishing, a pill at the part affected, promise a cer- than to see old age restored to youth, tain cure, without loss of time, know- and vigour to the most feeble constituledge of a bedfellow, or hindrance of tions? Yet this is performed here every business.

day : a simple electuary effects these When I consider the assiduity of this wonders, even without the bungling cereprofession, their benevolence amazes me. monies of having the patient boiled up They not only in general give their medi- in a kettle, or ground down in a mill. cines for half value, but use the most per- Few physicians here go through the suasive remonstrances to induce the sick ordinary courses of education, but receive to come and be cured. Sure, there must be all their knowledge of medicine by imsomething strangely obstinate in an English mediate inspiration from Heaven. Some patient who refuses so much health upon are thus inspired even in the womb; and, such easy terms. Does he take a pride what is very remarkable, understand their in being bloated with a dropsy ? does he profession as well at three years old, as find pleasure in the alternations of an at threescore. Others have spent a great intermittent fever? or feel as much satis. part of their lives unconscious of any faction in nursing up his gout, as he found latent excellence, till a bankruptcy, or pleasure in acquiring it? He must, other- residence in gaol, have called their miracuwise he would not reject such repeated lous powers into exertion. And others assurances of instant relief. What can be still there are indebted to their superlative more convincing than the manner in ignorance alone for success; the more which the sick are invited to be well ? ignorant the practitioner, the less capable The doctor first begs the most earnest is he thought of deceiving. The people attention of the public to what he is here judge as they do in the East, where going to propose : he solemnly affirms it is thought absolutely requisite that a the pill was never found to want success; man should be an idiot, before he pretend he produces a list of those who have been to be either a conjurer or a doctor. rescued from the grave by taking it: yet, When a physician by inspiration is sent notwithstanding all this, there are many | for, he never perplexes the patient by here who now and then think proper to previous examination; he asks very few be sick. Only sick, did I say? there are questions, and those only for form sake. some who even think proper to die ! He knows every disorder by intuition ; Yes, by the head of Confucius ! they he adminsters the pill or drop for every die; though they might have purchased distemper; nor is more inquisitive than the health-restoring specific for half-a- the farrier while he drenches an horse. If crown at every corner.

the patient lives, then has he one more I am amazed, my dear Fum Hoam, to add to the surviving list; if he dies, that these doctors, who know what an then it may be justly said of the patient's obstinate set of people they have to deal disorder, that, as it was not cured, the with, have never thought of attempting disorder was incurable. to revive the dead. When the living are found to reject their prescriptions, they ought in conscience to apply to the dead,

LETTER Xxy. from whom they can expect no such mor

To the same. tifying repulses: they would find in the I was some days ago in company with a dead the most complying patients imagin- politician, who very pathetically deable ; and what gratitude might they not claimed upon the miserable situation of

even

66

his country: he assured me, that the war, became more eminent by this means whole political machine was moving in in his respective profession. The inhaa wrong track, and that scarce bitants were, therefore, now distinguished abilities like his own could ever set it into artisans and soldiers; and while right again. " What have we,” said he, those improved the luxuries of life, these

to do with the wars on the Continent ? watched for the security of the people. We are a commercial nation ; we have A country possessed of freedom has only to cultivate commerce, like our always two sorts of enemies to fear,neighbours the Dutch ; it is our business foreign foes, who attack its existence to increase trade by settling new colonies; from without, and internal miscreants, riches are the strength of a nation ; and who betray its liberties within. The for the rest, our ships, our ships alone, inhabitants of Lao were to guard against will protect us.

I found it vain to both. A country of artisans were most oppose my feeble arguments to those of likely to preserve internal liberty ; and a a man who thought himself wise enough nation of soldiers were fittest to repel a to direct even the ministry. I fancied, foreign invasion. Hence naturally arose however, that I saw with more certainty, a division of opinion between the artisans because I reasoned without prejudice: I and soldiers of the kingdom. The therefore begged leave, instead of argu- artisans, ever complaining that freedom ment, to relate a short history. He gave was threatened by an armed internal me a smile at once of condescension and force, were for disbanding the soldiers, contempt; and I proceeded as follows to and insisted that their walls, their walls describe THE RISE AND DECLENSION alone, were sufficient to repel the most OF THE KINGDOM OF LAO."

formidable invasion : the warriors, on Northward of China, and in one of the contrary, represented the power of the doublings of the Great Wall, the the neighbouring kings, the combinations fruitful province of Lao enjoyed its formed against their state, and the weakliberty, and a peculiar government of its ness of the wall, which every earthquake

As the inhabitants were on all might overturn. While this altercation sides surrounded by the wall, they feared continued, the kingdom might be justly no sudden invasion from the Tartars; and said to enjoy its greatest share of vigour : being each possessed of property, they every order in the state, by being watchful were zealous in its defence.

over each other, contributed to diffuse The natural consequence of security happiness equally, and balanced the state. and affluence in any country is a love of The arts of peace flourished, nor were pleasure ; when the wants of nature are those of war neglected : the neighsupplied, we seek after the conveniences; bouring powers, who had nothing to when possessed of these, we desire the apprehend from the ambition of men luxuries of life; and when every luxury whom they only saw solicitous, not for is provided, it is then ambition takes up riches, but freedom, were contented to the man, and leaves him still something traffic with them : they sent their goods to wish for. The inhabitants of the to be manufactured in Lao, and paid a country, from primitive simplicity, soon large price for them upon their return. began to aim at elegance, and from By these means, this people at length elegance proceeded to refinement. It became moderately rich, and their opuwas now found absolutely requisite, for lence naturally invited the invader: a the good of the state, that the people Tartar prince led an immense army should be divided. Formerly, the same against them, and they as bravely stood hand that was employed in tilling the up in their own defence ; they were still ground, or in dressing up the manufac- inspired with a love of their country; tures, was also, in time of need, a soldier; they fought the barbarous enemy with but the custom was now changed; for it fortitude, and gained a complete victory. was perceived, that a man bred up from From this moment, which they rechildhood to the arts of either peace or garded as the completion of their glory,

own.

up

historians date their downfall

. They had which it was in the beginning obliged to risen in strength by a love of their country, others, it learns to dress itself. Such and fell by indulging ambition. The was the case with the colonies of Lao : country possessed by the invading Tartars they, in less than a century, became a seemed to them a prize that would not powerful and a polite people, and the only render them more formidable for more polite they grew, the less advanthe future, but which would increase tageous was the commerce which still their opulence for the present ; it was subsisted between them and others. By unanimously resolved, therefore, both by this means the mother country, being soldiers and artisans, that those desolate abridged in its commerce, grew poorer, regions should be peopled by colonies but not less luxurious. Their former from Lao. When a trading nation wealth had introduced luxury; and begins to act the conqueror, it is then wherever luxury once fixes, no art can perfectly undone. It subsists in some

either lessen or remove it. Their commeasure by the support of its neighbours: merce with their neighbours was totally while they continue to regard it without destroyed, and that with their colonies envy or apprehension, trade may flourish; was every day naturally and necessarily but when once it presumes to assert as its declining ; they still, however, preserved right what is only enjoyed as a favour, the insolence of wealth, without a power each country reclaims that part of com- to support it, and persevered in being merce which it has power to take back, luxurious, while contemptible from poand turns it into some other channel verty. In short, the state resembled one more honourable, though perha less of those bodies bloated with disease, convenient.

whose bulk is only a symptom of its Every neighbour now began to regard wretchedness. with jealous eyes this ambitious common- Their former opulence only rendered wealth, and forbade their subjects any them more impotent, as those individuals future intercourse with them. The in- who are reduced from riches to poverty habitants of Lao, however, still pursued are of all men the most unfortunate and the same ambitious maxims : it was from helpless. They had imagined, because their colonies alone they expected riches; their colonies tended to make them rich and riches, said they, are strength, and upon the first acquisition, they would strength is security. Numberless were still continue to do so; they now found, the migrations of the desperate and however, that on themselves alone they enterprising of this country to people should have depended for support ; that the desolate dominions lately possessed colonies ever afforded but temporary affluby the Tartar. Between these colonies ence; and when cultivated and polite, and the mother country a very advan- are no longer useful. From such a contageous traffic was at first carried on : currence of circumstances they soon bethe republic sent their colonies large came contemptible. The Emperor Honti quantities of the manufactures of the invaded them with a powerful army. country, and they in return provided the Historians do not say whether their republic with an equivalent in ivory and colonies were too remote to lend assistance, ginseng. By this means the inhabitants or else were desirous of shaking off their became immensely rich, and this pro- dependence; but certain it is, they duced an equal degree of voluptuousness; scarce made any resistance : their walls for men who have much money will were now found but a weak defence, and always find some fantastical modes of en- they at length were obliged to acknowjoyment. How shall I mark the steps ledge subjection to the empire of China. by which they declined ? Every colony Happy, very happy might they have in process of time spreads over the been, had they known when to bound whole country where it first was planted. their riches and their glory; had they As it grows more populous, it becomes known that extending empire is often more polite ; and those manufactures for diminishing power; that countries are ever strongest which are internally powerful : on; they want no more, I desire no more that colonies, by draining away the brave myself ; yet still they seem discontented. and enterprising, leave the country in the I am surprised at the inactivity of our hands of the timid and avaricious; that magistrates, in not taking up such vagwalls give little protection, unless manned rants, who are only a weiglit upon the with resolution; that too much commerce industrious; I am surprised that the people may injure a nation as well as too little ; are found to relieve them, when they and that there is a wide difference between must be at the same time sensible that it a conquering and a flourishing empire. — in some measure encourages idleness, Adieu.

extravagance, and imposture. Were I to

advise any man for whom I had the least LETTER XXVI.

regard, I would caution him by all ineans

not to be imposed upon by their false preTo the same.

tences : let me assure you, sir, they are THOUGH fond of many acquaintances, I impostors, every one of them, and rather desire an intimacy only with a few. The merit a prison than relief.” Man in Black, whom I have often men- He was proceeding in this strain, eartioned, is one whose friendship I could nestly to dissuade me from an imprudence wish to acquire, because he possesses my of which I am seldom guilty, when an old esteem. His manners, it is true, are tinc man, who still had about him the remtured with some strange inconsistencies ; nants of tattered finery, implored our and he may be justly termed a humorist compassion. He assured us that he was in a nation of humorists. Though he is no common eggar, but forced into the generous even to profusion, he affects to shameful profession to support a dying be thought a prodigy of parsimony and wife and five hungry children. Being prudence; though his conversation be prepossessed against such falsehoods, his replete with the most sordid and selfish story had not the least influence upon me; maxims, his heart is dilated with the most but it was quite otherwise with the Man unbounded love. I have known him in Black: I could see it visibly operate prosess himself a man-hater, while his upon his countenance, and effectually cheek was glowing with compassion; and, interrupt his harangue. I could easily while his looks were softened into pity, I perceive, that his heart burned to relieve have heard him use the language of the the five starving children, but he seemed most unbounded ill-nature. Some affect ashamed to discover his weakness to me. humanity and tenderness, others boast of While he thus hesitated between comhaving such dispositions from nature; passion and pride, I pretended to look but he is the only man I ever knew who another way, and he seized this opportuseemed ashamed of his natural benevo- nity of giving the poor petitioner a piece lence. He takes as much pains to hide of silver, bidding him at the same time, his feelings, as any hypocrite would to in order that I should hear, go work conceal his indifference; but on every for his bread, and not tease passengers unguarded moment the mask drops off, with such impertinent falsehoods for the and reveals him to the most superficial future. observer.

As he had fancied himself quite unperIn one of our late excursions into the ceived, he continued, as we proceeded, to country, happening to discourse upon the rail against beggars with as much animoprovision that was made for the poor in sity as before: he threw in some episodes England, he seemed amazed how any of on his own amazing prudence and ecohis countrymen could be so foolishly weak nomy, with his profound skill in discoveras to relieve occasional objects of charity, ing impostors; he explained the manner when the laws had made such ample pro- in which he would deal with beggars were vision for their support. “In every parish he a magistrate, hinted at enlarging some house,” says he," the poor are supplied of the prisons for their reception, and told with food, clothes, fire, and a bed to lie two stories of ladies that were robbed by

« ПретходнаНастави »