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behind, as far as the eye could reach, grew more beautiful; the prospect widened seemed gay, luxuriant, and capable of as he went higher; even the air itself seemed affording endless pleasure. The motto to become more pure. Thus, pleased and itself contributed to invite him; for over happy from unexpected beauties, I at last the gate were written these words,- led him to an arbour, from whence he FACILIS DESCENSUS.
could view the garden and the whole By this time I fancy you begin to per country around, and where he might own, ceive that the gloomy gate was designed that the road to Virtue terminated in to represent the road to Virtue, the oppo- Happiness. site the more agreeable passage to Vice. Though from this description you may It is but natural to suppose, that the spec- | imagine that a vast tract of ground was tator was always tempted to enter by the necessary to exhibit such a pleasing variety gate which offered him so many allure- in, yet, be assured, I have seen several ments. I always in these cases left him gardens in England take up ten times the to his choice; but generally found that he space which mine did, without half the took to the left, which promised most beauty. A very small extent of ground is entertainment.
enough for an elegant taste ; the greater Immediately upon his entering the gate room is required if magnificence is in view. of Vice the trees and flowers were dis- There is no spot, though ever so little, posed in such a manner as to make the which a skilful designer might not thus most pleasing impression ; but, as he improve, so as to convey a delicate allewalked farther on, he insensibly found the gory, and impress the mind with truths the garden assume the air of a wilderness, - most useful and necessary.–Adieu. the landscapes began to darken—the paths grew more intricate—he appeared to go
LETTER XXXII. downwards—frightful rocks seemed to
To the same. hang over his head-gloomy caverns, unexpected precipices, awful ruins, heaps In a late excursion with my friend into of unburied bones, and terrifying sounds, the country, a gentleman with a blue caused by unseen waters, began to take riband tied round his shoulder, and in a place of what at first appeared so lovely : chariot drawn by six horses, passed swiftly it was in vain to attempt returning ; the by us, attended with a numerous train of labyrinth was too much perplexed for any captains, lackeys, and coaches filled with but myself to find the way back. In short, women. When we were recovered from when sufficiently impressed with the hor- the dust raised by this cavalcade, and could rors of what he saw, and the imprudence continue our discourse without danger of of his choice, I brought him by a hidden suffocation, I observed to my companion, door a shorter way back into the area from that all this state and equipage, which he whence at first he had strayed.
seemed to despise, would in China be The gloomy gate now presented itself regarded with the utmost reverence, bebefore the stranger; and though there cause such distinctions were always the seemed little in its appearance to tempt reward of merit; the greatness of a manhis curiosity, yet, encouraged by the motto, darine's retinue being a most certain mark he gradually proceeded. The darkness of of the superiority of his abilities or virtue. the entrance, the frightful figures that The gentleman who has now passed seemed to obstruct his way, the trees of us,” replied my companion, “has no claims a mournful green, conspired at first to from his own merit to distinction; he is disgust him : as he went forward, however, possessed neither of abilities nor virtue; it all began to open and wear a more pleasing is enough for him that one of his ancestors appearance ; beautiful cascades, beds of was possessed of these qualities two hun. flowers, trees loaded with fruit or blos- dred years before him. There was a time, soms, and unexpected brooks, improved indeed, when his family deserved their the scene ; he now found that he was title; but they are long since degenerated, ascending, and as he proceeded all nature hand his ancestors, for more than a century, have been more and more solicitous to country seat. Not one of all these that keep up the breed of their dogs and horses, could not lead a more comfortable life at than that of their children. This very home, in their little lodging of three shil. nobleman, simple as he seems, is descended lings a week, with their lukewarm dinner, from a race of statesmen and heroes; served up between two pewter plates from but unluckily, his great-grandfather mar- a cook's shop. Yet, poor devils! they rying a cook-maid, and she having a are willing to undergo the impertinence trifling passion for his lordship’s groom, and pride of their entertainer, merely to they somehow crossed the strain, and be thought to live among the great; they produced an heir, who took after his are willing to pass the summer in bondage, mother in his great love to good eating, though conscious they are taken down and his father in a violent affection for ' only to approve his lordship's taste upon horse-flesh. These passions have for some every occasion, to tag all his stupid obsergenerations passed on from father to son, vations with a 'very true,' to praise his and are now become the characteristics stable, and descant upon his claret and of the family, his present lordship being cookery.". equally remarkable for his kitchen and his “The pitiful humiliations of the gentle. stable."
men you are now describing,” said I, “put “But such a nobleman,” cried I, “de- me in mind of a custom among the Tartars serves our pity, thus placed in so high a of Koreki, not entirely dissimilar to this sphere of life, which only the more exposes we are now considering. The Russians, to contempt. A king may confer titles, who trade with them, carry thither a kind but it is personal merit alone that ensures of mushrooms, which they exchange for respect. I suppose,” added I, “that such furs of squirrels, ermines, sables, and foxes. men are despised by their equals, neglected These mushrooms the rich Tartars lay up by their inferiors, and condemned to live in large quantities for the winter; and among involuntary dependants in irksome when a nobleman makes a mushroom solitude."
feast, all the neighbours around are in“You are still under a mistake,” replied vited. The mushrooms are prepared by my companion, "for, though this noble- boiling, by which the water acquires an man is a stranger to generosity; though intoxicating quality, and is a sort of drink he takes twenty opportunities in a day of which the Tartars prize beyond all other. letting his guests know how much he When the nobility and ladies are assembled, despises them; though he is possessed and the ceremonies usual between people neither of taste, wit, nor wisdom; though of distinction over, the mushroom broth incapable of improving others by his con- goes freely round; they laugh, talk double versation, and never known to enrich any entendre, grow fuddled, and become exby his bounty; yet, for all this, his com- cellent company. The poorer sort, who pany is eagerly sought after : he is a lord, love mushroom broth to distraction as and that is as much as most people desire well as the rich, but cannot afford it at the in a companion. Quality and title have first hand, post themselves on these occasuch allurements, that hundreds are ready sions round the huts of the rich, and watch to give up all their own importance, to the opportunity of the ladies and gentle. cringe, to flatter, to look little, and to pall men as they come down to pass their every pleasure in constraint, merely to be liquor; and holding a wooden bowl, catch among the great, though without the least the delicious fluid, very little altered by hopes of improving their understanding, filtration, being still strongly tinctured or sharing their generosity : they might with the intoxicating quality. Of this they be happy among their equals, but those drink with the utmost satisfaction, and are despised for company where they are thus they get as drunk and as jovial as despised in turn. You saw what a crowd their betters.” of humble cousins, card-ruined beaux, and “Happy nobility!” cries my companion, captains on half-pay, were willing to make "who can fear no diminution of respect, up this great man's retinue down to his unless by being seized with strangury, and who when most drunk are most useful ! I yesterday received an invitation from Though we have not this custom among a lady of distinction, who, it seems, had us, I foresee, that if it were introduced we collected all her knowledge of Eastern might have many a toad-eater in England manners from fictions every day propaready to drink from the wooden bowl on gated here, under the titles of Eastern tales these occasions, and to praise the flavour and Oriental histories. She received me of his lordship’s liquor. As we have dif- very politely, but seemed to wonder that ferent classes of gentry, who knows but I neglected bringing opium and a tobacco we may see a lord holding the bowl to a box : when chairs were drawn for the rest minister, a knight holding it to his lordship, of the company, I was assigned my place and a simple squire drinking it double dis- on a cushion on the floor. It was in vain tilled from the loins of the knighthood ? that I protested the Chinese used chairs, For my part, I shall never for the future as in Europe ; she understood decorum hear a great man's flatterers haranguing in too well to entertain me with the ordinary his praise, that I shall not fancy i behold civilities. the wooden bowl; for I can see no reason I had scarcely been seated according why a man, who can live easily and happily to her directions, when the footman was at home, should bear the drudgery of de- ordered to pin a napkin under my chin : corum and the impertinence of his enter- this I protested against, as being no way tainer, unless intoxicated with a passion Chinese ; however, the whole company, for all that was quality; unless he thought who, it seems, were a club of connoisseurs, that whatever came from the great was gave it unanimously against me, and the delicious, and had the tincture of the napkin was pinned accordingly. mushroom in it.”-Adieu.
It was impossible to be angry with people who seemed to err only from an
excess of politeness, and I sat contented, LETTER XXXIII.
expecting their importunities were now at To the same.
an end ; but, as soon as ever dinner was I Am disgusted, O Fum Hoam ! even to served, the lady demanded whether I was sickness disgusted! Is it possible to bear for a plate of bear's claws, or a slice of the presumption of these İslanders, when birds' nests. As these were dishes with they pretend to instruct me in the cere- which I was utterly unacquainted, I was monies of China ? They lay it down as desirous of eating only what I knew, and a maxim, that every person who comes therefore begged to be helped from a piece from thence must express bimself in meta- of beef that lay on the side table : my phor, swear by Alla, rail against wine, request at once disconcerted the whole and behave, and talk, and write, like a company. A Chinese eat beef! that could Turk or Persian. They make no dis- never be : there was no local propriety in tinction between our elegant manners and Chinese beef, whatever there might be in the voluptuous barbarities of our Eastern Chinese pheasant. • Sir," said my enterneighbours. Wherever I come, I raise tainer, “I think I have some reason to either diffidence or astonishment: some fancy myself a judge of these matters ; in fancy me no Chinese, because I am formed short, the Chinese never eat beef; so that more like a man than a monster ; and "I must be permitted to recommend the others wonder to find one born five thou- pilaw. There was never better dressed sand miles from England endued with at Pekin ; the saffron and rice are well
Strange,” say they, boiled, and the spices in perfection.” “that a man who has received his educa- I had no sooner begun to eat what was tion at such a distance from London laid before me, than I found the whole should have common sense ; to be born company as much astonished as before; it out of England, and yet have common seems I made no use of my chop-sticks. sense ! Impossible! He must be some A grave gentleman, whom I take to be an Englishman in disguise ; his very visage author, harangued very learnedly (as the has nothing of the true exotic barbarity.” | company seemed to think) upon the use
which was made of them in China. He by the dews of the morning; his hair, entered into a long argument with himself which hung like the willow weeping over about their first introduction, without once the glossy stream, was so beautiful that appealing to me, who might be supposed it seemed to reflect its own brightness; best capable of silencing the inquiry. As and his feet were as the feet of a wild deer the gentleman therefore took my silence which fleeth to the tops of the mountains.' for a mark of his own superior sagacity, There, there is the true Eastern taste for he was resolved to pursue the triumph: you ; every advance made towards sense he talked of our cities, mountains, and is only a deviation from sound. Eastern animals as familiarly as if he had been tales should always be sonorous, lofty, born in Quamsi, but as erroneously as if musical, and unmeaning." a native of the moon. He attempted I could not avoid smiling, to hear a to prove that I had nothing of the true native of England attempt to instruct me Chinese cut in my visage; showed that in the true Eastern idiom; and after he my high cheekbones should have been looked round some time for applause, I higher, and my forehead broader. In presumed to ask him, whether he had ever short, he almost reasoned me out of my travelled into the East; to which he replied country, and effectually persuaded the rest in the negative. I demanded whether he of the company to be of his opinion. understood Chinese or Arabic; to which
I was going to expose his mistakes, also he answered as before. “Then how, when it was insisted, that I had nothing sir,” said I, can you pretend to determine of the true Eastern manner in my delivery. upon the Eastern style, who are entirely “This gentleman's conversation," says one unacquainted with the Eastern writings? of the ladies, who was a great reader, “is Take, sir, the word of one who is prolike our own, -mere chit-chat and com- fessedly a Chinese, and who is actually mon sense: there is nothing like sense acquainted with the Arabian writers, that in the true Eastern style, where nothing what is palmed upon you daily for an more is required but sublimity. Oh! imitation of Eastern writing no way refor a history of Aboulfaouris, the grand sembles their manner, either in sentiment voyager, of genii, magicians, rocks, bags of or diction. In the East similes are seldom bullets, giants, and enchanters, where all used, and metaphors almost wholly unis great, obscure, magnificent, and unin- known; but in China particularly, the very telligible.”—“I have written many a sheet reverse of what you allude to takes place: of Eastern tale myself,” interrupts the a cool phlegmatic method of writing preauthor," and I defy the severest critic to vails there. The writers of that country, say but that I have stuck close to the true ever more assiduous to instruct than to
I have compared a lady's chin please, address rather the judgment than to the snow upon the mountains of Bomek; the fancy. Unlike many authors of a soldier's sword to the clouds that obscure Europe, who have no consideration of the the face of heaven. If riches are men- reader's time, they generally leave more tioned, I compare them to the flocks that to be understood than they express. graze the verdant Tefflis; if poverty, to “Besides, sir, you must not expect from the mists that veil the brow of Mount an inhabitant of China the same ignorance, Baku. I have used thee and thou upon the same unlettered simplicity, that you all occasions; I have described fallen stars find in a Turk, Persian, or native of Peru. and splitting mountains, not forgetting the The Chinese are versed in the sciences as little houris, who make a pretty figure in well as you, and are masters of several arts every description. But you shall hear unknown to the people of Europe. Many how I generally begin—'Eben-benbolo, of them are instructed not only in their who was the son of Ban, was born on the own national learning, but are perfectly foggy summits of Benderabassi. His well acquainted with the languages and beard was whiter than the feathers which learning of the West. If my word in such veil the breast of the penguin; his eyes a case is not to be taken, consult
your own were like the eyes of doves when washed travellers on this head, who affirm, that
the scholars of Pekin and Siam sustain theological theses in Latin.
To the same of Masprend, which is but a league from Siam,' says one of your travellers, 'came The polite arts are in this country subject in a body to salute our ambassador. No to as many revolutions as its laws or thing gave me more sincere pleasure, than politics : not only the objects of fancy and to behold a number of priests, venerable dress, but even of delicacy and taste, are both from age and modesty, followed by directed by the capricious influence of a number of youths of all nations, Chinese, fashion. I am told there has been a time Japanese, Tonquinese, of Cochin China, when poetry was universally encouraged Pegu, and Siam, all willing to pay their by the great ; when men of the first rank respects in the most polite manner imagi- not only patronised the poet, but produced nable. A Cochin Chinese made an ex- the finest models for his imitation. It was cellent Latin oration upon this occasion; then the English sent forth those glowing he was succeeded, and even outdone, by rhapsodies, which we have so often read a student of Tonquin, who was as well over together with rapture; poems big skilled in the Western learning as any with all the sublimity of Mencius, and scholar of Paris.' Now, sir, if youths supported by reasoning as strong as that who never stirred from home are so per- of Zimpo. fectly skilled in your laws and learning, The nobility are fond of wisdom, but surely more must be expected from one they are also fond of having it without like me, who have travelled so many thou- study; to read poetry required thought; sand miles; who have conversed familiarly and the English nobility were not fond of for several years with the English factors thinking: they soon therefore placed their established at Canton and the missionaries affections upon music, because in this they sent us from every part of Europe. The might indulge a happy vacancy, and yet unaffected of every country nearly re- still have pretensions to delicacy and taste semble each other, and a page of our Con- as before. They soon brought their numefucius and of your Tillotson have scarce rous dependants into an approbation of any material difference. Paltry affectation, their pleasures ; who, in turn, led their strained allusions, and disgusting finery thousand imitators to feel or feign similiare easily attained by those who choose to tude of passion. Colonies of singers were 'wear them : and they are but too fre- now imported from abroad at a vast exquently the badges of ignorance or of pense ; and it was expected the English stupidity, whenever it would endeavour would soon be able to set examples to to please.”
Europe. All these expectations, however, I was proceeding in my discourse, when, were soon dissipated." In spite of the zeal looking round, I perceived the company which fired the great, the ignorant vulgar no way attentive to what I attempted, refused to be taught to sing; refused to with so much earnestness, to enforce. One undergo the ceremonies which were to lady was whispering her that sat next, an initiate them in the singing fraternity : other was studying the merits of a fan, a thus the colony from abroad dwindled by third began to yawn, and the author him. degrees; for they were of themselves self fell fast asleep. I thought it, there. unfortunately incapable of propagating fore, high time to make a retreat ; nor did the breed. the company seem to show any regret at Music having thus lost its splendour, my preparations for departure : even the painting is now become the sole object of lady who had invited me, with the most fashionable care. The title of connoisseur mortifying insensibility, saw me seize my in that art is at present the safest passport hat, and rise from my cushion ; nor was I in every fashionable society; a well-timed invited to repeat my visit, because it was shrug, an admiring attitude, and one or found that I aimed at appearing rather a two exotic tones of exclamation, are sufreasonable creature, than an outlandish ficient qualifications for men of low ciridiot. - Adieu.
cumstances to curry favour. Even some