Слике страница

sort of magic lanthorn, by which folks can see themselves on the inside: I protest, as my Lord Beetle says, I am sure it will be vastly pretty, for I have never seen any thing like it before. But how,-Are we to strip off our clothes, and be turned inside out? if so, as Lord Beetle says, I absolutely declare off; for I would not strip for the world before a man's face, and so I tells his Lordship almost every night of my life." I informed the lady that I would dispense with the ceremony of stripping, and immediately presented my glass to

her view.

As when a first-rate beauty, after having with difficulty escaped the small-pox, revisits her favourite mirror-that mirror which had repeated the flattery of every lover, and even added force to the compliment-expecting to see what had so often given her pleasure, she no longer beholds the cherry lip, the polished forehead, and speaking blush, but a hateful phiz, quilted into a thousand seams by the hand of deformity; grief, resentment, and rage fill her bosom by turns-she blames the fates and the stars, but, most of all, the unhappy glass feels her resentment: so it was with the lady in question; she had never seen her own mind before, and was now shocked at its deformity. One single look was sufficient to satisfy her curiosity: I held up the glass to her face, and she shut her eyes; no entreaties could prevail upon her to gaze once more. She was even going to snatch it from my hands, and break it in a thousand pieces. I found it was time, therefore, to dismiss her as incorrigible, and show away to the next that offered.

This was an unmarried lady, who continued in a state of virginity till thirty-six, and then admitted a lover when she despaired of a husband. No woman was louder at a revel than she, perfectly freehearted, and almost, in every respect, a man; she understood ridicule to perfection, and was known even to sally out in order to beat the watch. "Here, you, my dear, with the outlandish face," said she, addressing me, “let me take a single peep. Not that I care three damns what figure I may cut in the glass of such an oldfashioned creature: if I am allowed the beauties of the face by people of fashion,

I know the world will be complaisant enough to toss me the beauties of the mind into the bargain." I held my glass before her as she desired, and, must confess, was shocked with the reflection. The lady, however, gazed for some time with the utmost complacency; and, at last, turning to me with the most satisfied smile, said she never could think she had been half so handsome.

Upon her dismission, a lady of distinction was reluctantly hauled along to the glass by her husband. In bringing her forward, as he came first to the glass himself, his mind appeared tinctured with immoderate jealousy, and I was going to reproach him for using her with such severity; but when the lady came to present herself, I immediately retracted: for, alas! it was seen that he had but too much reason for his suspicions.

The next was a lady who usually teased all her acquaintance in desiring to be told of her faults, and then never mended any. Upon approaching the glass, I could readily perceive vanity, affectation, and some other ill-looking blots on her mind; wherefore, by my advice, she immediately set about mending. But I could easily find she was not earnest in the work; for as she repaired them on one side, they generally broke out on another. Thus, after three or four attempts, she began to make the ordinary use of the glass in setting her hair.

The company now made room for a woman of learning, who approached with a slow pace and a solemn countenance, which, for her own sake, I could wish had been cleaner. "Sir," cried the lady, flourishing her hand, which held a pinch of snuff, "I shall be enraptured by having presented to my view a mind with which I have so long studied to be acquainted; but, in order to give the sex a proper example, I must insist that all the company may be permitted to look over my shoulder.' I bowed assent, and, presenting the glass, showed the lady a mind by no means so fair as she had expected to see. Ill-nature, ill-placed pride, and spleen were too legible to be mistaken. Nothing could be more amusing than the mirth of her female companions who had looked over.



They had hated her from the beginning, and now the apartment echoed with a universal laugh. Nothing but a fortitude like hers could have withstood their raillery she stood it, however; and when the burst was exhausted, with great tranquillity she assured the company, that the whole was a deceptio visus, and that she was too well acquainted with her own mind, to believe any false representations from another. Thus saying, she retired with a sullen satisfaction, resolved not to mend her faults, but to write a criticism on the mental reflector.

I must own, by this time I began myself to suspect the fidelity of my mirror; for as the ladies appeared at least to have the merit of rising early, since they were up at five, I was amazed to find nothing of this good quality pictured upon their minds in the reflection: I was resolved, therefore, to communicate my suspicions to a lady whose intellectual countenance appeared more fair than any of the rest, not having above seventy-nine spots in all, besides slips and foibles. "I own, young woman," said I, "that there are some virtues upon that mind of yours; but there is still one which I do not see represented, -I mean that of rising betimes in the morning; I fancy the glass false in that particular." The young lady smiled at my simplicity; and, with a blush, confessed, that she and the whole company had been up all night gaming.

By this time all the ladies, except one, had seen themselves successively, and disliked the show or scolded the showman I was resolved, however, that she who seemed to neglect herself, and was neglected by the rest, should take a view; and, going up to a corner of the room where she still continued sitting, I presented my glass full in her face. Here it was that I exulted in my success; no blot, no stain appeared on any part of the faithful mirror. As when the large unwritten page presents its snowy spotless bosom to the writer's hand, so appeared the glass to my view.

Here, O ye daughters of English ancestors!" cried I, "turn hither, and behold an object worthy imitation! Look upon the mirror now, and acknowledge its justice, and this woman's pre-eminence!" The

ladies, obeying the summons, came up in a group, and looking on, acknowledged there was some truth in the picture, as the person now represented had been deaf, dumb, and a fool from her cradle !

This much of my dream I distinctly remember; the rest was filled with chimeras, enchanted castles, and flying dragons, as usual. As you, my dear Fum Hoam, are particularly versed in the interpretation of those midnight warnings, what pleasure should I find in your explanation! But that, our distance prevents: I make no doubt, however, but that, from my description, you will very much venerate the good qualities of the English ladies in general, since dreams, you know, go always by contraries.—Adieu.


From Lien Chi Altangi to Hingpo, a Slave in Persia.

YOUR last letters betray a mind seemingly fond of wisdom, yet tempested up by a thousand various passions. You would fondly persuade me, that my former lessons still influence your conduct, and yet your mind seems not less enslaved than your body. Knowledge, wisdom, erudition, arts, and elegance, what are they but the mère trappings of the mind, if they do not serve to increase the happiness of the possessor? A mind rightly instituted in the school of philosophy acquires at once the stability of the oak and the flexibility of the osier. The truest manner of lessening our agonies is to shrink from their pressure, is to confess that we feel them.

The fortitude of European sages is but a dream; for where lies the merit in being insensible to the strokes of fortune, or in dissembling our sensibility? If we are insensible, that arises only from a happy constitution; that is a blessing previously granted by Heaven, and which no art can procure, no institutions improve.

If we dissemble our feelings, we only artificially endeavour to persuade others that we enjoy privileges which we actually do not possess. Thus, while we endeavour to appear happy, we feel at once all the pangs of eternal misery and all the self-reproaching consciousness of endeavouring to deceive,

I know but of two sects of philosophers in the world that have endeavoured to inculcate that fortitude is but an imaginary virtue,—I mean the followers of Confucius, and those who profess the doctrines of Christ. All other sects teach pride under misfortunes; they alone teach humility. Night, says our Chinese philosopher, not more surely follows the day, than groans and tears grow out of pain; when misfortunes therefore oppress, when tyrants threaten, it is our interest, it is our duty, to fly even to dissipation for support, to seek redress from friendship, or from that best of friends who loved us into being.

Philosophers, my son, have long declaimed against the passions, as being the source of all our miseries: they are the source of all our misfortunes, I own; but they are the source of our pleasures too; and every endeavour of our lives, and all the institutions of philosophy, should tend to this, not to dissemble an absence of passion, but to repel those which lead to vice, by those which direct to virtue.


As seeing an error and attempting to redress it are only one and the same with me, I took occasion, upon his lordship's desiring my opinion of a Chinese scroll, intended for the frame of a picture, to assure him, that a mandarin of China thought a minute acquaintance with such mechanical trifles below his dignity.

I have used such means as my little fortune would admit to procure your freedom. I have lately written to the governor of Argun to pay your ransom, though at the expense of all the wealth I brought with me from China. If we become poor, we shall at least have the pleasure of bearing poverty together; for what is fatigue or famine, when weighed against friendship and freedom?-Adieu.

The soul may be compared to a field of battle, where two armies are ready every moment to encounter: not a single vice but has a more powerful opponent, and This reply raised the indignation of not one virtue but may be overborne by a some, and the contempt of others: I combination of vices. Reason guides the could hear the names of Vandal, Goth, bands of either host; nor can it subdue one taste, polite arts, delicacy, and fire, repassion but by the assistance of another.peated in tones of ridicule or resentment. Thus as a bark on every side beset with But considering that it was in vain to storms, enjoys a state of rest, so does the argue against people who had so much to mind, when influenced by a just equipoise say, without contradicting them, I begged of the passions, enjoy tranquillity. leave to repeat a fairy tale. This request redoubled their laughter; but, not easily abashed at the raillery of boys, I persisted, observing, that it would set the absurdity of placing our affections upon trifles in the strongest point of view; and adding, that it was hoped the moral would compensate for its stupidity. "For Heaven's sake," cried the great man, washing his brush in water, "let us have no morality at present; if we must have a story, let it be without any moral." I pretende not to hear; and, while he handled the brush, proceeded as follows:


From Lien Chi Altangi to—, Merchant in Amsterdam.

some pictures (I had no design to buy), it surprised me to see a young prince in the working room, dressed in a painter's apron, and assiduously learning the trade. We instantly remembered to have seen each other; and, after the usual compliments, I stood by while he continued to paint on. As everything done by the rich is praised; as princes here, as well as in China, are never without followers; three or four persons, who had the appearance of gentlemen, were placed behind to comfort and applaud him at every stroke. Need I tell, that it struck me with very disagreeable sensations, to see a youth, who by his station in life had it in his power to be useful to thousands, thus letting his mind run to waste upon canvas, and at the same time fancying himself improving in taste, and filling his rank with proper decorum?

HAPPENING Some days ago to call at a painter's to amuse myself in examining

"In the kingdom of Bonbobbin, which, by the Chinese annals, appears to have flourished twenty thousand years ago,

there reigned a prince endowed with every accomplishment which generally distinguishes the sons of kings. His beauty was brighter than the sun. The sun, to which he was nearly related, would sometimes stop his course, in order to look down and admire him.

"His mind was not less perfect than his body he knew all things, without having ever read: philosophers, poets, and historians submitted their works to his decision; and so penetrating was he, that he could tell you the merit of a book by looking on the cover. He made epic poems, tragedies, and pastorals with surprising facility; song, epigram, or rebus, was all one to him, though it was observed he could never finish an acrostic. In short, the fairy who presided at his birth had endowed him with almost every perfection, or, what was just the same, his subjects were ready to acknowledge he possessed them all; and, for his own part, he knew nothing to the contrary. A prince so accomplished received a name suitable to his merit; and he was called Bonbennin bonbobbin-bonbobbinet,which signifies, Enlightener of the Sun.

"As he was very powerful, and yet unmarried, all the neighbouring kings earnestly sought his alliance. Each sent his daughter, dressed out in the most magnificent manner, and with the most sumptuous retinue imaginable, in order to allure the prince; so that at one time there were seen at his court not less than seven hundred foreign princesses, of exquisite sentiment and beauty, each alone sufficient to make seven hundred ordinary men happy.


Distracted in such a variety, the generous Bonbennin, had he not been obliged by the laws of the empire to make choice of one, would very willingly have married them all, for none understood gallantry better. He spent numberless hours of solicitude in endeavouring to determine whom he should choose one lady was possessed of every perfection, but he disliked her eyebrows; another was brighter than the morning star, but he disapproved her fong-whang; a third did not lay white enough on her cheek; and a fourth did not sufficiently blacken her nails. At

last, after numberless disappointments on the one side and the other, he made choice of the incomparable Nanhoa, Queen of the Scarlet Dragons.

"The preparations for the royal nup. tials, or the envy of the disappointed ladies, need no description; both the one and the other were as great as they could be: the beautiful princess was conducted amidst admiring multitudes to the royal couch, where, after being divested of every encumbering ornament, she was placed, in expectance of the youthful bridegroom, who did not keep her long in expectation. He came more cheerful than the morning, and printing on her lips a burning kiss, the attendants took this as a proper signal to withdraw.


Perhaps I ought to have mentioned in the beginning that, among several other qualifications, the prince was fond of collecting and breeding mice, which being a harmless pastime, none of his counsellors thought proper to dissuade him from: he therefore kept a great variety of these pretty little animals, in the most beautiful cages, enriched with diamonds, rubies, emeralds, pearls, and other precious stones: thus he innocently spent four hours each day in contemplating their innocent little pastimes.

"But to proceed: the prince and princess were now in bed; one with all the love and expectation, the other with all the modesty and fear, which is natural to suppose; both willing, yet afraid to begin; when the prince, happening to look towards the outside of the bed, perceived one of the most beautiful animals in the world, a white mouse with green eyes, playing about the floor, and performing a hundred pretty tricks. He was already master of blue mice, red mice, and even white mice with yellow eyes; but a white mouse with green eyes was what he had long endeavoured to possess: wherefore, leaping from bed with the utmost impatience and agility, the youthful prince attempted to seize the little charmer; but it was fled in a moment; for, alas! the mouse was sent by a discontented princess, and was itself a fairy.

"It is impossible to describe the agony of the prince upon this occasion; he

sought round and round every part of the room; even the bed where the princess lay was not exempt from the inquiry: he turned the princess on one side and the other, stripped her quite naked, but no mouse was to be found; the princess herself was kind enough to assist, but still to no purpose.

"Alas!' cried the young prince in agony, how unhappy am I to be thus disappointed! never, sure, was so beautiful an animal seen: I would give half my kingdom, and my princess, to him that would find it.' The princess, though not much pleased with the latter part of his offer, endeavoured to comfort him as well as she could she let him know that he had an hundred mice already, which ought to be at least sufficient to satisfy any philosopher like him. Though none of them had green eyes, yet he should learn to thank Heaven that they had eyes. She told him (for she was a profound moralist) that incurable evils must be borne, and that useless lamentations were vain, and that man was born to misfortunes; she even entreated him to return to bed, and she would endeavour to lull him on her bosom to repose: but still the prince continued inconsolable; and regarding her with a stern air, for which his family was remarkable, he vowed never to sleep in the royal palace, or indulge himself in the innocent pleasures of matrimony, till he had found the white mouse with the g e green eyes. "Prythee, Colonel Leech,' cried his Lordship, interrupting me, "how do you like that nose? don't you think there is something of the manner of Rembrandt in it ?-A prince in all this agony for a white mouse, oh, ridiculous!-Don't you think, Major Vampyre, that eyebrow stippled very prettily?--But pray, what are the green eyes to the purpose, except to amuse children?—I would give a thousand guineas to lay on the colouring of his cheek more smoothly. But I ask pardon; pray, sir, proceed."


anything which they did not rigorously intend to perform. This was the case of Bonbennin, who continued all night to lament his misfortunes to the princess, who echoed groan for groan. When morning came, he published an edict, offering half his kingdom, and his princess, to the person who should catch and bring him the white mouse with the green eyes.



To the same. "KINGS," continued I, at that time were different from what they are now; they then never engaged their word for

"The edict was scarcely published, when all the traps in the kingdom were baited with cheese; numberless mice were taken and destroyed; but still the muchwished-for mouse was not among the number. The privy council was assembled more than once to give their advice; but all their deliberations came to nothing, even though there were two complete vermin-killers and three professed rat-catchers of the number. Frequent addresses, as is usual on extraordinary occasions, were sent from all parts of the empire; but though these promised well, though in them he received an assurance that his faithful subjects would assist in his search with their lives and fortunes, yet, with all their loyalty, they failed when the time came that the mouse was to be caught.

"The prince, therefore, was resolved to go himself in search, determined never to lie two nights in one place, till he had found what he sought for. Thus, quitting his palace without attendants, he set out upon his journey, and travelled through many a desert, and crossed many a river, over high hills, and down long vales, still restless, still inquiring wherever he came; but no white mouse was to be found.

"As one day, fatigued with his journey, he was shading himself from the heat of the mid-day sun, under the arching branches of a banana-tree, meditating on the object of his pursuit, he perceived an old woman, hideously deformed, approaching him; by her stoop, and the wrinkles of her visage, she seemed at least five hundred years old; and the spotted toad was not more freckled than was her skin. 'Ah! Prince Bonbenninbonbobbin-bonbobbinet,' cried the creature, 'what has led you so many thousand miles from your own kingdom? what is it

« ПретходнаНастави »