« ПретходнаНастави »
To the same.
taffety! I cannot contain-ha! ha! ha! | barbarian as to the native of a crowded this is certainly a remnant of European commonwealth ; or when the other en. barbarity: the female Tartar, dressed in deavours to banish them as prejudicial to sheep skins, is in far more convenient all society, even from populous states as drapery. Their own writers have some- well as from the inhabitants of the wildertimes inveighed against the absurdity of ness, they are both wrong; since that knowthis fashion ; but perhaps it has never been ledge which makes the happiness of a ridiculed so well as upon the Italian refined European, would be a torment to theatre, where Pasquariello being engaged the precarious tenant of an Asiatic wild. to attend on the Countess of Fernambroco, Let me, to prove this, transport the having one of his hands employed in imagination for a moment to the midst of carrying her muff, and the other her a forest in Siberia. There we behold the lapdog, he bears her train majestically inhabitant, poor indeed, but equally fond along, by sticking it in the waistband of of happiness with the most refined philohis breeches.-Adieu.
sopher of China. The earth lies uncul
tivated and uninhabited for miles around LETTER LXXXII.
him : his little family and he the sole and undisputed possessors.
In such circum
stances nature and reason will induce him A DISPUTE has for some time divided the to prefer a hunter's life to that of cultiphilosophers of Europe: it is debated vating the earth. He will certainly adhere whether arts and sciences are more service to that manner of living which is carried able or prejudicial to mankind? They on at the smallest expense of labour, and who maintain the cause of literature en that food which is most agreeable to the deavour to prove their usefulness from the appetite ; he will prefer indolent, though impossibility of a large number of men precarious, luxury to a laborious, though subsisting in a small tract of country with permanent, competence; and a knowledge out them; from the pleasure which attends of his own happiness will determine him to the acquisition; and from the influence persevere in native barbarity. of knowledge in promoting practical In like manner, his happiness will inmorality.
cline him to bind himself by no law : laws They who maintain the opposite opinion are made in order to secure present prodisplay the happiness and innocence of perty ; but he is possessed of no property those uncultivated nations who live with which he is afraid to lose, and desires no out learning; urge the numerous vices more than will be sufficient to sustain him; which are to be found only in polished to enter into compacts with others, would society ; enlarge upon the oppression, the be undergoing a voluntary obligation with. cruelty, and the blood which must neces- out the expectance of any reward. He sarily be shed, in order to cement civil and his countrymen are tenants, not rivals, society; and insist upon the happy equality in the same inexhaustible forest; the inof conditions in a barbarous state, pre- creased possessions of one by no means ferable to the unnatural subordination of a diminish the expectations arising from more refined constitution.
equal assiduity in another ; there is no This dispute, which has already given need of laws, therefore, to repress ambiso much employment to speculative indo- tion, where there can be no mischief atlence, has been managed with muchardour, tending its most boundless gratification. and (not to suppress our sentiments) with Our solitary Siberian will, in like manbut little sagacity. They who insist that ner, find the sciences not only entirely use. the sciences are useful in refined society less in directing his practice, but disgusting are certainly right, and they who maintain even in speculation. In every contem that barbarous nations are more happy plation our curiosity must be first excited without them are right also : but when by the appearances of things, before our one side, for this reason, attempts to prove reason undergoes the fatigue of investi. them as universally useful to the solitary gating the causes. Some of those appear. ances are produced by experiment, others sentiments above its capacity of fruition by minute inquiry ; some arise from a is most admirably described in one of the knowledge of foreign climates, and others fables of Lokman, the Indian moralist. from an intimate study of our own. But “An elephant that had been peculiarly there are few objects, in comparison, which serviceable in fighting the battles of Wistpresent themselves to the inhabitant of a now was ordered by the god to wish for barbarous country; the game he hunts, whatever he thought proper, and the desire or the transient cottage he builds, make should be attended with immediate grati. up the chief objects of his concern ; his fication. The elephant thanked his benecuriosity, therefore, must be proportion- factor on bended knees, and desired to be ably less; and if that is diminished, the endowed with the reason and the faculties reasoning faculty will be diminished in of a man. Wistnow was sorry to hear the proportion.
foolish request, and endeavoured to disBesides, sensual enjoyment adds wings suade him from his misplaced ambition ; to curiosity. We consider few objects with but finding it to no purpose, gave him at ardent attention, but those which have last such a portion of wisdom, as could some connexion with our wishes, our correct even the Zendavesta of Zoroaster. pleasures, or our necessities. A desire of The reasoning elephant went away reenjoyment first interests our passions in joicing in his new acquisition; and though the pursuit, points out the object of inves- his body still retained its ancient form, he tigation, and reason, then comments where found his appetites and passions entirely sense has led the way. An increase in altered. He first considered, that it would the number of our enjoyments, therefore, not only be more comfortable, but also necessarily produces an increase of scientific more becoming, to wear clothes; but unresearch : but in countries where almost happily he had no method of making them every enjoyment is wanting, reason there himself, nor had he the use of speech to seems destitute of its great inspirer, and demand them from others; and this was speculation is the business of fools when the first time he felt real anxiety. He it becomes its own reward.
soon perceived how much more elegantly The barbarous Siberian is too wise, men were fed than he; therefore he began therefore, to exhaust his time in quest to loathe his usual food, and longed for of knowledge, which neither curiosity those delicacies which adorn the tables of prompts nor pleasure impels him to pursue. princes : but here again he found it imWhen told of the exact admeasurement of possible to be satisfied, for though he could a degree upon the equator at Quito, he easily obtain flesh, yet he found it imposfeels no pleasure in the account; when sible to dress it in any degree of perfection. informed that such a discovery tends to In short, every pleasure that contributed promote navigation and commerce, he to the felicity of mankind served only to finds himself no way interested in either. render him more miserable, as he found A discovery which some have pursued himself utterly deprived of the power of at the hazard of their lives, affects him enjoyment. In this manner he led a rewith neither astonishment nor pleasure. pining, discontented life, detesting himself, He is satisfied with thoroughly understand and displeased with his ill-judged ambi. ing the few objects which contribute to his tion; till at last his benefactor, Wistnow, own felicity; he knows the properest places taking compassion on his forlorn situation, where to lay the snare for the sable, and restored him to the ignorance and the hapdiscerns the value of furs with more than piness which he was originally formed to European sagacity. More extended know- enjoy." ledge would only serve to render him No, my friend, to attempt to introduce unhappy; it might lend a ray to show the sciences into a nation of wandering him the misery of his situation, but could barbarians, is only to render them more not guide him in his efforts to avoid it. miserable than ever nature designed they Ignorance is the happiness of the poor. should be. A life of simplicity is best
The misery of being endowed with fitted to a state of solitude.
The great lawgiver of Russia attempted myself, take the following instructions, to improve the desolate inhabitants of borrowed from a modern philosopher of Siberia, by sending among them some of China. “He who has begun his fortune the politest men of Europe. The conse. by study, will certainly confirm it by perquence has shown, that the country was as
The love of books damps the yet unfit to receive them ; they languished passion for pleasure; and when this passion for a time, with a sort of exotic malady; is once extinguished, life is then cheaply every day degenerated from themselves, supported : thus a man being possessed of and at last, instead of rendering the country more than he wants, can never be subject more polite, they conformed to the soil, to great disappointments, and avoids all and put on barbarity.
those meannesses which indigence someNo, my friend, in order to make the times unavoidably produces. sciences useful in any country, it must first * There is unspeakable pleasure attend. become populous; the inhabitant must go ing the life of a voluntary student. The through the different stages of hunter, first time I read an excellent book, it is to shepherd, and husbandman ; then, when me just as if I had gained a new friend : property becomes valuable, and conse. when I read over a book I have perused quently gives cause for injustice--then, before, it resembles the meeting with an when laws are appointed to repress injury, old one. We ought to lay hold of every and secure possession-when men, by the incident in life for improvement, the trifling sanction of those laws, become possessed of as well as the important. It is not one superfluity--when luxury is thus intro- diamond alone which gives lustre to duced, and demands its continual supply, another; a common coarse stone is also
- then it is that the sciences become employed for that purpose. Thus I ought necessary and useful; the state then cannot to draw advantage from the insults and subsist without them; they must then be contempt I meet with from a worthless introduced, at once to teach men to draw fellow. His brutality ought to induce the greatest possible quantity of pleasure me to self-examination, and correct every from circumscribed possession, and to re- blemish that may have given rise to his strain them within the bounds of moderate calumny. enjoyment.
“Yet with all the pleasures and profits The sciences are not the cause of luxury, which are generally produced by learning, but its consequence; and this destroyer parents often find it difficult to induce thus brings with it an antidote which resists their children to study. They often seem the virulence of its own poison. By assert. dragged to what wears the appearance of ing that luxury introduces the sciences, we application. Thus, being dilatory in the assert a truth; but if, with those who beginning, all future hopes of eminence reject the utility of learning, we assert are entirely cut off. If they find themselves that the sciences also introduce luxury, obliged to write two lines more polite we shall be at once false, absurd, and than ordinary, their pencil then seems as ridiculous. -Adieu.
heavy as a mill-stone, and they spend ten
years in turning two or three periods with LETTER LXXXIII.
propriety. From Lien Chi Altangi to Hingpo, by the way These persons are most at a loss when of Moscow.
a banquet is almost over ; the plate and You are now arrived at an age, my son, the dice go round, that the number of little when pleasure dissuades from application; verses, which each is obliged to repeat, but rob not, by present gratification, all may be determined by chance. The booby, the succeeding period of life of its happi- when it comes to his turn, appears quite Sacrifice a little pleasure at first to stupid and insensible.
The company the expectance of greater. The study of divert themselves with his confusion; and a few years will make the rest of life sneers, winks, and whispers are circulated completely easy.
As for him, he opens a But instead of continuing the subject pair of large heavy eyes, stares at all about
at his expense.
him, and even offers to join in the laugh, inculcate virtue by so leaky a vehicle the without ever considering himself as the author must be a philosopher of the first burden of all their good humour.
rank. But in our age we can find but few But it is of no importance to read first-rate philosophers. much, except you be regular in your read- “Avoid such performances where vice ing. If it be interrupted for any consider- assumes the face of virtue: seek wisdom able time, it can never be attended with and knowledge, without ever thinking you proper improvement. There are some have found them. A man is wise, while who study for one day with intense appli- he continues in the pursuit of wisdom; cation, and repose themselves for ten days but when he once fancies that he has found after. But wisdom is a coquette, and must the object of his inquiry, he then becomes be courted with unabating assiduity. a fool. Learn to pursue virtue from the
“It was a saying of the ancients, that man that is blind, who never makes a step a man never opens a book without reaping without first examining the ground with some advantage by it. I say with them, his staff. that every book can serve to make us more “The world is like a vast sea; mankind expert, except romances, and these are no like a vessel sailing on its tempestuous better than instruments of debauchery. bosom. Our prudence is its sails, the They are dangerous fictions, where love sciences serve us for oars, good or bad is the ruling passion.
fortune are the favourable or contrary The most indecent strokes there pass winds, and judgment is the rudder; withfor turns of wit ; intrigue and criminal out this last the vessel is tossed by every liberties for gallantry and politeness. As- billow, and will find shipwreck in every signations, and even villainy, are put in breeze. In a word, obscurity and indisuch strong lights, as may inspire even gence are the parents of vigilance and grown men with the strongest passion ; economy; vigilance and economy of riches how much more, therefore, ought the and honour; riches and honour of pride youth of either sex to dread them, whose and luxury; pride and luxury of impurity reason is so weak, and whose hearts are and idleness; and impurity and idleness so susceptible of passion ?
again produce indigence and obscurity. "To slip in by a back-door, or leap a Such are the revolutions of life.”—Adieu. wall, are accomplishments that, when handsomely set off, enchant a young heart. It is true, the plot is commonly wound up
LETTER LXXXIV. by a marriage, concluded with the consent From Lien Chi Altangi to Fum Hoam, First of parents, and adjusted by every ceremony
President of the Ceremonial Academy at
Pekin in China. prescribed by law. But as in the body of the work there are many passages that I FANCY the character of a poet is in every offend good morals, overthrow laudable country the same : fond of enjoying the customs, violate the laws, and destroy the present, careless of the future; his conduties most essential to society, virtue is versation that of a man of sense, his actions thereby exposed to the most dangerous those of a fool ; of fortitude able to stand attacks.
unmoved at the bursting of an earthquake, But, say some, the authors of these yet of sensibility to be affected by the romances have nothing in view, but to breaking of a teacup. Such is his charepresent vice punished, and virtue re- racter, which, considered in every light, warded. Granted. But will the greater is the very opposite of that which leads to number of readers take notice of these riches. punishments and rewards? Are not their The poets of the West are as remark. minds carried to something else? Can it able for their indigence as their genius, be imagined that the art with which the and yet, among the numerous hospitals author inspires the love of virtue can over designed to relieve the poor, I have heard come that crowd of thoughts which sway of but one erected for the benefit of dethem to licentiousness ? To be able to cayed authors. This was founded by Pope Urban VIII., and called The RETREAT ing his debts, he goes on thus : “But, as OF THE INCURABLES ; intimating, that it there still may remain some creditors was equally impossible to reclaim the unpaid, even after all that I have shall be patients who sued for reception from disposed of, in such a case it is my last poverty or from poetry. To be sincere, will, that my body should be sold to the were I to send you an account of the lives surgeons to the best advantage, and that of the Western poets, either ancient or the purchase should go to the discharging modern, I fancy you would think me those debts which I owe to society ; so employed in collecting materials for a that if I could not, while living, at least history of human wretchedness.
when dead I may be useful.” Homer is the first poet and beggar of Cassandre was one of the greatest genote among the ancients: he was blind, niuses of his time, yet all his merit could and sung his ballads about the streets; not procure him a bare subsistence. but it is observed, that his mouth was Being by degrees driven into an hatred more frequently filled with verses than of all mankind, from the little pity he with bread. Plautus, the comic poet, was found amongst them, he even ventured better off, -he had two trades; he was a at last ungratefully to impute his calamipoet for his diversion, and helped to turn a ties to Providence. In his last agonies, mill in order to gain a livelihood. Terence when the priest entreated him to rely was a slave; and Boethius died in a gaol. on the justice of Heaven, and ask mercy
Among the Italians, Paulo Borghese, from him that made him, —“If God, almost as good a poet as Tasso, knew replies he, “has shown me no justice fourteen different trades, and yet died be here, what reason have I to expect any cause he could get employment in none. from him hereafter ?" But being anTasso himself, who had the most amiable swered, that a suspension of justice was character of all poets, has often heen no argument that should induce us to obliged to borrow a crown from some doubt of its reality,—“Let me entreat friend, in order to pay for a month's sub- you,” continued his confessor," by all sistence: he has left us a pretty sonnet, that is dear, to be reconciled to God, addressed to his cat, in which he begs the your father, your maker, and friend.” light of her eyes to write by, being too “No,” replied the exasperated wretch, poor to afford himself a candle. But "you know the manner in which he left Bentivoglio, poor Bentivoglio! chiefly me to live; and," pointing to the straw demands our pity. His comedies will on which he was stretched, "you see the last with the Italian language: he dissi- manner in which he leaves me to die!” pated a noble fortune in acts of charity But the sufferings of the poet in other and benevolence; but, falling into misery countries is nothing when compared to his in his old age, was refused to be admitted distresses here; the names of Spenser and into an hospital which he himself had Otway, Butler and Dryden, are every day erected.
mentioned as a national reproach : some In Spain, it is said, the great Cervantes of them lived in a state of precarious indidied of hunger; and it is certain that the gence, and others literally died of hunger. famous Camoens ended his days in an At present the few poets of England hospital.
no longer depend on the great for subIf we turn to France, we shall there find sistence; they have now no other patrons even stronger instances of the ingratitude but the public, and the public, collectively of the public. Vaugelas, one of the poli- considered, is a good and a generous test writers and one of the honestest men
It is, indeed, too frequently mis. of his time, was surnamed the Owl, from taken as to the merits of every candidate his being obliged to keep within all day, for favour; but to make amends, it is and venture out only by night, through never mistaken long. A performance, fear of his creditors. His last will is indeed, may be forced for a time into very remarkable. After having bequeathed reputation, but, destitute of real merit, it all his worldly substance to the discharg- soon sinks; time, the touchstone of what