« ПретходнаНастави »
to every month in the year. This month things like a gentleman. But, sir, you the people are to be eaten up by the French must die ; I have determined it within my in fiat-bottomed boats ; the next, by the own breast that you must die. Blood, sir! soldiers designed to beat the French back. blood is my trade! so I could wish you Now the people are going to jump down would, this day six weeks, take leave of the gulf of luxury; and now nothing but your friends, wife, and family, for I cannot a herring subscription can fish them up possibly allow you longer time. again. Time passes on; the report proves vince you more certainly of the power of false; new circumstances produce new my art, by which you may know I speak changes; but the people never change, - truth, take this letter; when you have read they are persevering in folly.
it, tear off the seal, fold it up, and give it In other countries those boding politi- to your favourite Dutch mastiff that sits by cians would be left to fret over their own the fire ; he will swallow it, sir, like a schemes alone, and grow splenetic without buttered toast : in three hours four minutes hopes of infecting others; but England after he has eaten it he will attempt to seems to be the very region where spleen bite off his own tongue, and, half an hour delights to dwell : a man not only can after, burst asunder in twenty pieces. give an unbounded scope to the disorder Blood, blood, blood ! So no more at in himself, but may, if he pleases, pro- present from, sir, your most obedient, pagate it over the whole kingdom, with a most devoted humble servant to command, certainty of success. He has only to cry till death.” out that the government, the government You may easily imagine the consternais all wrong ; that their schemes are leadtion into which this letter threw the ing to ruin ; that Britons are no more; whole good-natured family. The poor every good member of the commonwealth man to whom it was addressed was the thinks it his duty, in such a case, to deplore more surprised, as not knowing how he the universal decadence with sympathetic could merit such inveterate malice. All sorrow, and, by fancying the constitution the friends of the family were convened ; in a decay, absolutely to impair its vigour. it was universally agreed that it was a
This people would laugh at my sim- most terrible affair, and that the governplicity, should I advise them to be less ment should be solicited to offer a reward sanguine in harbouring gloomy predictions, and a pardon : a fellow of this kind and examine coolly before they attempted would go on poisoning family after to complain. I have just heard a story family ; and it was impossible to say which, though transacted in a private where the destruction would end. In family, serves very well to describe the pursuance of these determinations, the behaviour of the whole nation, in cases of government was applied to ; strict search threatened calamity. As there are public, was made after the incendiary, but all in so there are private incendiaries here. vain. At last, therefore, they recollected One of the last, either for the amusement that the experiment was not yet tried upon of his friends, or to divert a fit of the the dog ; the Dutch mastiff was brought spleen, lately sent a threatening letter to up and placed in the midst of the friends a worthy family in my neighbourhood, to and relations, the seal was torn off, the this effect:
packet folded up with care, and soon “SIR,-Knowing you to be very rich, they found, to the great surprise of all, and finding myself to be very poor, I think that the dog would not eat the letter. proper to inforın you, that I have learned Adieu. The secret of poisoning man, woman, and child, without danger of detection. Don't
LETTER CVIII. be uneasy, sir; you may take your choice
To the same. of being poisoned in a fortnight, or poi- I HAVE frequently been amazed at the soned in a month, or poisoned in six weeks; ignorance of almost all the European you shall have full time to settle all your travellers who have penetrated any conaffairs. Though I am poor, I love to do siderable way eastward into Asia. They
have been influenced either by motives ledge and useful improvement would he of commerce or piety; and their accounts not bring back in exchange ! are such as might reasonably be expected There is, probably, no country so from men of very narrow or very pre. barbarous, that would not disclose all judiced education,—the dictates of super- it knew, if it received from the traveller stition, or the result of ignorance. Is it equivalent information ; and I am apt to not surprising, that in such a variety of think, that a person who was ready to adventurers not one single philosopher give more knowledge than he received should be found ? for, as to the travels of would be welcome wherever he came. Gemelli, the learned are long agreed that All his care in travelling should only be the whole is but an imposture.
to suit his intellectual banquet to the There is scarcely any country, how rude people with whom he conversed; he or uncultivated soever, where the in- should not attempt to teach the unlettered habitants are not possessed of some pecu- Tartar astronomy, nor yet instruct the liar secrets, either in nature or art, which polite Chinese in the ruder arts of submight be transplanted with success. In sistence. He should endeavour to improve Siberian Tartary, for instance, the natives the barbarian in the secrets of living comextract a strong spirit from milk, which fortably; and the inhabitant of a more iş a secret probably unknown to the refined country in the speculative pleachemists of Europe. In the most savage sures of science. How much more nobly parts of India they are possessed of the would a philosopher thus employed spend secret of dyeing vegetable substances his time, than by sitting at home, earnestly scarlet, and of refining lead into a metal intent upon adding one star more to his which, for hardness and colour, is little catalogue, or one monster more to his inferior to silver : not one of which collection; or still, if possible, more secrets but would, in Europe, make a triflingly sedulous in the incatenation of man's fortune. The power of the Asia- fleas, or the sculpture of a cherry-stone ! tics in producing winds, or bringing down I never consider this subject without rain, the Europeans are apt to treat as being surprised, that none of those socifabulous, because they have no instances eties so laudably established in England of the like nature among themselves ; but for the promotion of arts and learning they would have treated the secrets of have ever thought of sending one of their gunpowder and the mariner's compass in members into the most eastern parts of the same manner, had they been told the Asia, to make what discoveries he was Chinese used such arts before the inven- able. To be convinced of the utility of tion was common with themselves at such an undertaking, let them but read home.
the relations of their own travellers. It Of all the English philosophers I most will be there found, that they are as often reverence Bacon, that great and hardy deceived themselves, as they attempt to genius. He it is who allows of secrets deceive others. The merchant tells us, yet unknown ; who, undaunted by the perhaps, the price of different commodi. seeming difficulties that oppose, prompts ties, the methods of baling them up, and human curiosity to examine every part of the properest manner for an European to nature, and even exhorts man to try preserve his health in the country. The whether he cannot subject the tempest, missionary, on the other hand, informs us, the thunder, and even earthquakes, to with what pleasure the country to which human control! Oh, did a man of his he was sent embraced Christianity, and daring spirit, of his genius, penetration, the numbers he converted; what methods and learning, travel to those countries he took to keep Lent in a region where which have been visited only by the there was no fish, or the shifts he made superstitious and the mercenary, what to celebrate the rites of his religion in might not mankind expect! How would places where there was neither bread he enlighten the regions to which he nor wine! Such accounts, with the usual travelled ! and what a variety of know- appendage of marriages and funerals, inscriptions, rivers, and mountains, make up utility from particular occurrences; neither the whole of an European traveller's diary: swollen with pride, nor hardened by prebut as to all the secrets of which the in- judice; neither wedded to one particular habitants are possessed, those are univer- system, nor instructed only in one partisally attributed to magic; and when the cular science ; neither wholly a botanist, traveller can give no other account of the nor quite an antiquarian; his mind should wonders he sees performed, very con
be tinctured with miscellaneous knowtentedly ascribes them to the power of ledge, and his manner humanized by an the devil.
intercourse with men. He should be in It was a usual observation of Boyle, the some measure an enthusiast in the design; English chemist, “That if every artist fond of travelling, from a rapid imagination would but discover what new observations and an innate love of change ; furnished occurred to him in the exercise of his with a body capable of sustaining every trade, philosophy would thence gain in- fatigue, and a heart not easily terrified at numerable improvements.” It may be danger. -Adieu. observed, with still greater justice, that if
LETTER CIX. the useful knowledge of every country,
To the same. howsoever barbarous, was gleaned by a judicious observer, the advantages would ONE of the principal tasks I had proposed be inestimable. Are there not even in to myself on my arrival here was, to Europe many useful inventions known or become acquainted with the names and practised but in one place? The instru- characters of those now living who, as ment, as an example, for cutting down scholars or wits, had acquired the greatest corn in Germany is much more handy and share of reputation. In order to succeed expeditious, in my opinion, than the sickle in this design, I fancied the surest method used in England. The cheap and expe- would be to begin my inquiry among the ditious manner of making vinegar, with ignorant, judging that his fame would be out previous fermentation, is known only greatest, which was loud enough to be in a part of France. If such discoveries, heard by the vulgar. Thus predisposed, therefore, remain still to be known at I began to search, but only went in quest home, what funds of knowledge might of disappointment and perplexity. I found not be collected in countries yet unex- every district had a peculiar famous man plored, or only passed through by ignorant of its own. Here the story-telling shoe. travellers in hasty caravans ?
maker had engrossed the admiration on The caution with which foreigners are one side of the street, while the bellman, received in Asia may be alleged as an who excelleth at a catch, was in quiet objection to such a design. But how possession of the other. At one end of a readily have several European merchants lane the sexton was regarded as the greatest found admission into regions the most man alive ; but I had not travelled half suspecting, under the character of San- its length, till I found an enthusiastic japins, or northern pilgrims. To such teacher had divided his reputation. My not even China itself denies access. landlady, percetving my design, was kind
To send out a traveller properly quali- enough to offer me her advice in this fied for these purposes might be an object affair. It was true, she observed, that of national concern ; it would in some she was no judge, but she knew what measure repair the breaches made by am- pleased herself
, and if I would rest upon bition ; and might show that there were her judgment, I should set down Tom still some who boasted a greater name Collins as the most ingenious man in the than that of patriots, who professed them. world ; for Tom was able to take off all selves lovers of men. The only difficulty mankind, and imitate besides a sow and would remain in choosing a proper per- pigs to perfection. son for so arduous an enterprise. He I now perceived, that taking my standard should be a man of philosophical turn; of reputation among the vulgar would one apt to deduce consequences of general swell my catalogue of great names above
the size of a court calendar ; I therefore among the number was now changed discontinued this method of pursuit, and into congratulation. I could not avoid resolved to prosecute my inquiry in that reflecting on the fine observation of Taci. usual residence of fame, a bookseller's tus on a similar occasion. “In this shop. In consequence of this I entreated cavalcade of Aattery,” cries the historian, the bookseller to let me know who were “neither the pictures of Brutus, Cassius, they who now made the greatest figure, nor Cato, were to be seen; eo clariores quia either in morals, wit, or learning. With- imagines eorum non deferebantur;”, their out giving me a direct answer, he pulled absence being the strongest proof of their a pamphlet from the shelf, The Young merit. Attorney's Guide. “There, sir,” cries he, “It is in vain,” cried I, "to seek for “there is a touch for you ; fifteen hundred true greatness among these monuments of of these moved off in a day: I take the ! the unburied dead : let me go among the author of this pamphlet, either for title, tombs of those who are confessedly famous, preface, plan, body, or index, to be the and see if any have been lately deposited completest hand in England.' I found it there who deserve the attention of posterity, was vain to prosecute my inquiry, where and whose names may be transmitted to my informer appeared so incompetent a my distant friend, as an honour to the judge of merit ; so, paying for the Young present age.”. Determined in my pursuit, I Attorney's Guide, which good manners paid a second visit to Westminster Abbey. obliged me to buy, I walked off.
There I found several new monuments, My pursuit after famous men now erected to the memory of several great brought me into a print-shop. “Here,' men ; the names of the great men I absothought I, “the painter only reflects the lutely forget, but I well remember that public voice. As every man who deserved Roubiliac was the statuary who carved it had formerly his statue placed up in the them. I could not help smiling at two Roman forum, so here, probably, the pic- modern epitaphs in particular, one of which tures of none but such as merit a place in praised the deceased for being ortus ex our affections are held up for public sale." antiquâ stirpe: the other commended the But guess my surprise, when came to dead because hanc ædem suis sumptibus examine this repository of noted faces; reædificavit. The greatest merit of one all distinctions were levelled here, as in the consisted in his being descended from an grave, and I could not but regard it as illustrious house; the chief distinction of the catacomb of real merit: the brick- the other, that he had propped up an old dust man took up as much room as the house that was falling. Alas! alas !” truncheoned hero, and the judge was cried I, “such monuments as these confer elbowed by the thief-taker; quacks, pimps, honour, not upon the great men, but uson and buffoons increased the group, and little Roubiliac." noted stallions only made room for more Hitherto disappointed in my inquiry noted strumpets. Í had read the works of after the great of the present age, I was some of the moderns previous to my coming resolved to mix in company, and try what to England with delight and approbation; I could learn among critics in coffeebut I found their faces had no place here: houses ; and here it was that I heard my the walls were covered with the names favourite names talked of even with inof authors I had never known, or had verted fame. A gentleman of exalted endeavoured to forget,-with the little merit as a writer was branded in general self-advertising things of a day, who had terms as a bad man; another of exquisite forced themselves into fashion, but not into delicacy as a poet was reproached for fame. I could read at the bottom of some wanting good nature; a third was accused pictures the names of **, and***, and** of free-thinking; and a fourth of having all equally candidates for the vulgar shout, once been a player. “Strange,” cried I; and foremost to propagate their unblushing “how unjust are mankind in the distribufaces upon brass. My uneasiness, there- tion of fame! the ignorant, among whom fore, at not finding my few favourite names I sought at first, were willing to grant, but incapable of distinguishing, the virtues would fill up the necessary ceremonies of of those who deserved it; among those I a court better than those of Europe; would now converse with, they know the proper be contented with receiving large salaries objects of admiration, but mix envy with for doing little; whereas some of this coun. applause."
try are at present discontented, though they Disappointed 60 often, I was now re- receive large salaries for doing nothing. solved to examine those characters in per- I lately, therefore, had thoughts of pubson, of whom the world talked so freely. lishing a proposal here, for the admission By conversing with men of real merit, of some new Eastern offices and titles into I began to find out those characters which their Court Register. As I consider myself really deserved, though they strove to avoid, in the light of a cosmopolite, I find as applause. I found the vulgar admiration much satisfaction in scheming for the entirely misplaced, and malevolence with countries in which I happen to reside, as out its sting. The truly great, possessed for that in which I was born. of numerous small faults and shining The finest apartments in the palace of virtues, preserve a sublime in morals as Pegu are frequently infested with rats. in writing. They who have attained an These the religion of the country strictly excellence in either commit numberless forbids the people to kill. In such cirtransgressions, observable to the meanest cumstances, therefore, they are obliged to understanding. The ignorant critic and have recourse to some great man of the dull remarker can readily spy blemishes court, who is willing to free the royal in eloquence or morals, whose sentiments apartment even at the hazard of his sal. are not sufficiently elevated to observe a vation. After a weak monarch's reign, beauty. But such are judges neither of the quantity of court vermin in every part books nor of life; they can diminish no of the palace is surprising ; but a prudent solid reputation by their censure, nor be king, and a vigilant officer, soon drive stow a lasting character by their applause. them from their sanctuaries behind the In short, I found by my search, that such mats and tapestry, and effectually free only can confer real fame upon others, the court. Such an officer in England who have merit themselves to deserve it. would, in my opinion, be serviceable -Adieu.
at this juncture; for if, as I am told,
the palace be old, much vermin must LETTER CX.
undoubtedly have taken refuge behind
the wainscot and hangings. A minister There are numberless employments in 'should therefore be invested with the title the courts of the Eastern monarchs utterly and dignities of court vermin-killer; he unpractised and unknown in Europe. should have full power either to banish, They have no such officers, for instance, take, poison, or destroy them, with enas the emperor's ear-tickler or tooth- chantments, traps, ferrets, or ratsbane. picker; they have never introduced at He might be permitted to brandish his the courts the mandarine appointed to besom without remorse, and brush down bear the royal tobacco-box, or the grave every part of the furniture, without sparing director of the imperial exercitations in a single cobweb, however sacred by long the seraglio. Yet I am surprised that the prescription. I communicated this proEnglish have imitated us in none of these posal some days ago in a company of the particulars, as they are generally pleased first distinction, and enjoying the most with everything that comes from China, honourable offices of the state. Among and excessively fond of creating new and the number were the inspector of Great useless employments. They have filled Britain, Mr. Henriquez the director of their houses with our furniture, their pub- the ministry, Ben. Victor the treasurer, lic gardens with our fireworks, and their John Lockman the secretary, and the convery ponds with our fish. Our courtiers, ductor of the Imperial Magazine. They my friend, are the fish and the furniture all acquiesced in the utility of my proposal, they should have imported; our courtiers but were apprehensive it might meet with
To the same.