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THE CITIZEN OF THE WORLD.
THE EDITOR'S PREFACE.
The schoolmen had formerly a very exact way of computing the abilities of their saints or authors. Escobar, for instance, was said to have learning as five, genius as four, and gravity as seven. Caramuel was greater than he. His learning was as eight, his genius as six, and his gravity as thirteen. Were I to estimate the merits of our Chinese Philosopher by the same scale, I would not hesitate to state his genius still higher ; but as to his learning and gravity, these, I think, might safely be marked as nine hundred and ninety-nine, within one degree of absolute frigidity:
Yet, upon his first appearance here, many were angry not to find him as ignorant as a Tripoline ambassador or an envoy from Mujac. They were surprised to find a man born so far from London, that school of prudence and wisdom, endued even with a moderate capacity. They expressed the same surprise at his knowledge that the Chinese do at ours. ' How comes it,” said they, that the Europeans, so remote from China, think with so much justice and precision? They have never read our books, they scarcely know even our letters, and yet they talk and reason just as we do.” The truth is, the Chinese and we are pretty much alike. Different degrees of refinement, and not of distance, mark the distinctions among mankind. Savages of the most opposite climates have all but one character of improvidence and rapacity; and tutored nations, however separate, make use of the very same methods to procure refined enjoyment.
The distinctions of polite nations are few; but such as are peculiar to the Chinese appear in every page of the following correspondence. The metaphors and allusions are all drawn from the East. Their formality our author carefully preserves. Many of their favourite tenets in morals are illustrated. The Chinese are always concise ; so is he. Simple; so is he. The Chinese are grave and sententious; so is he. But in one particular the resemblance is peculiarly striking: the Chinese are often dull ; and so is he. Nor has my assistance been wanting. We are told in an old romance of a certain knight-errant and his horse who contracted an intimate friendship. The horse most usually bore the knight; but, in cases of extraordinary dispatch, the knight returned the favour, and carried his horse. Thus, in the intimacy between my author and me, he has usually given me a lift of his eastern sublimity, and I have sometimes given him a return of my colloquial ease.
Yet it appears strange, in this season of panegyric, when scarcely an author passes unpreised either by his friends or himself, that such merit as our Philosopher's should be forgotten. While the epithets of ingenious, copious, elaborate, and refined are lavished among the mob, like medals at a coronation, the lucky prizes fall on every side, but not one on him. I could on this occasion make myself melancholy, by considering the capriciousness of public taste, or the mutability of fortune; but during this fit of morality, lest my reader should sleep, I'll take a nap myself, and when I awake tell him ту
dream. I imagined the Thames was frozen over, and I stood by its side. Several booths were erected upon the ice, and I was told by one of the spectators, that Fashion Fair was going to begin. He added, that every author who would carry his works there might probably find a very good reception. I was resolved, however, to observe the humours of the place in safety from the shore; sensible that ice was at best precarious, and having been always a little cowardly in my sleep.
Several of my acquaintance seemed much more hardy than I, and went over the ice with intrepidity. Some carried their works to the fair on sledges, some on carts, and those which were more voluminous were conveyed in waggons. Their temerity astonished me. I knew their cargoes were heavy, and expected every moment they would have gone to the bottom. They all entered the fair, however, in safety, and each soon after returned, to my great surprise, highly satisfied with his entertainment and the bargains he had brought away.
The success of such numbers at last began to operate upon me. If these, cried 1, meet with favour and safety, some luck may, perhaps, for once attend the unfortunate. I am resolved to make a new adventure. The furniture, frippery, and fireworks of China have long been fashionably bought up. i'll try the fair with a small cargo of Chinese morality. If the Chinese have contrib uted to vitiate our taste, I'll try how far they can help to improve our understanding. But, as others have driven into the market in waggons, I'll cautiously begin by venturing with a wheelbarrow. Thus resolved, I baled up my goods, and fairly ventured; when, upon just entering the fair, I fancied the ice, that had supported an hundred waggons before, cracked under me, and wheel-barrow and all went to the bottom.
Upon awaking from my reverie with the fright, I cannot help wishing that the pains taken in giving this correspondence an English dress had been employed in contriving new political systems, or new plots for farces. I might then have taken my station in the world, either as a poet or a philosopher, and made one in those little societies where men club to raise each other's reputation. But at present I belong to no particula: class. I resemble one of those animals that has been forced from its forest to gratify human curiosity. My earliest wish was to escape unheeded through life ; but I have been set up for half-pence, to fret and scamper at the end of my chain. Though none are injured by my rage, I am naturally too savage to court any friends by fawning, too obstinate to be taught new tricks, and too improvident to mind what may happen. I am appeased, though not contented. Too indolent for intrigue, and too timid to push for favour, I am-But what signifies what am I?
'Ελπίς και συ τύχη μέγα χαίρετε' τον λιμένο εύρον.
Ουδέν έμοί χ' υμίν παίζετε τους μετ' εμέ.
value yours, &c.
[1760-62.] LETTER I.
stranger to their manners and customs. I To Mr. -, Merchant in London. am told he is a philosopher; I am sure he
is an honest man: that to you will be his
Amsterdam. SIR, -Yours of the 13th instant, covering best recommendation, next to the contwo bills, one on Messrs R. and D., value sideration of his being the friend of, sir, £478 ios., and the other on Mr£285, duly came to hand, the former of
LETTER II. which met with honour, but the other has From Lien Chi Altangi to Merchant been trifled with, and I am afraid will be
London, returned protested.
FRIEND OF MY HEART,—May the wings The bearer of this is my friend, therefore of peace rest upon thy dwelling, and the let him be yours. He is a native of Honan shield of conscience preserve thee from vice in China, and one who did me signal and misery! For all thy favours accept my services, when he was a mandarine, and gratitude and esteem. the only tributes a I a factor, at Canton. By frequently con. poor philosophic wanderer can return. versing with the English there he has Sure, fortune is resolved to make me learned the language, though entirely a unhappy, when she gives others a power of testifying their friendship by actions, You men of Europe think nothing of a and leaves me only words to express the voyage by sea.
With us of China a man sincerity of mine.
who has been from sight of land is regarded I am perfectly sensible of the delicacy upon his return with admiration. I have with which you endeavour to lessen your known some provinces where there is not own merit and my obligations. By calling even a name for the ocean. What a strange your late instances of friendship only a people, therefore, am I got amongst, who return for former favours you would in- have founded an empire on this unstable duce me to impute to your justice what element, who build cities upon billows that I owe to your generosity.
rise higher than the mountains of Tipartala, The services I did you at Canton justice, and make the deep more formidable than humanity, and my office bade me perform; the wildest tempest ! those you have done me since my arrival Such accounts as these, I must confess, at Amsterdam no laws obliged you to, no were my first motives for seeing England. justice required. Even half your favours These induced me to undertake a journey would have been greater than my most of seven hundred painful days, in order to sanguine expectations.
examine its opulence, buildings, sciences, The sum of money, therefore, which you arts, and manufactures, on the spot. Judge, privately conveyed into my baggage, when then, my disappointment on entering LonI was leaving Holland, and which I was don, to see no signs of that opulence so ignorant of till my arrival in London, I much talked of abroad: wherever I turn must beg leave to return. You have been I am presented with a gloomy solemnity bred a merchant, and I a scholar; you con- in the houses, the streets, and the inhabi. sequently love money better than 1. You tants; none of that beautiful gilding which can find pleasure in superfluity; I am makes a principal ornament in Chinese perfectly content with what is sufficient. architecture. The streets of Nankin are Take therefore what is yours: it may give sonetimes strewed with gold leaf: very you some pleasure, even though you have different are those of London: in the midst no occasion to use it; my happiness it can- of their pavement a great lazy puddle not improve, for I have already all that I moves muddily along; heavy-laden mawant.
chines, with wheels of unwieldy thickness, My passage by sea from Rotterdam to crowd up every passage: so that a stranger, England was more painful to me than all instead of finding time for observation, is the journeys I ever made on land. I have often happy if he has time to escape from traversed the immeasurable wilds of Mogul being crushed to pieces. Tartary; felt all the rigours of Siberian The houses borrow very few ornaments skies: I have had my repose a hundred from architecture; their chief decoration times disturbed by invading savages, and seems to be a paltry piece of painting hung have seen, without shrinking, the desert out at their doors or windows, at once a sands rise like a troubled ocean all around proof of their indigence and vanity: their me. Against these calamities I was armed vanity, in each having one of those pictures with resolution ; but in my passage to Eng- exposed to public view; and their indi. land, though nothing occurred that gave the gence, in being unable to get them better mariners any uneasiness, to one who was painted. In this respect the fancy of their never at sea before all was a subject of painters is also deplorable. Could you beastonishment and terror. To find the land lieve it? I have seen five black lions and disappear-to see our ship mount the three blue boars in less than the circuit of waves, swift as an arrow from the Tartar half a mile; and yet you know that animals bow-to hear the wind howling through of these colours are nowhere to be found, the cordage — to feel a sickness which except in the wild imaginations of Europe. depresses even the spirits of the brave, From these circumstances in their build-these were unexpected distresses, and ings, and from the dismal looks of the consequently assaulted me, unprepared inhabitants, I am induced to conclude that to receive them,
the nation is actually poor; and that, likę the Persians, they make a splendid figure objects with each other, which were before everywhere but at home. The proverb examined without reflection. of Xixofou is, that a man's riches may be Behold me, then, in London, gazing at seen in his eyes : if we judge of the English the strangers, and they at me. It seems by this rule, there is not a poorer nation they find somewhat absurd in my figure; under the sun.
and had I never been from home, it is I have been here but two days, so will possible I might find an infinite fund of not be hasty in my decisions. Such letters ridicule in theirs : but by long travelling as I shall write to Fipsihi in Moscow I beg I am taught to laugh at folly alone, and to you'll endeavour to forward with all dili- find nothing truly ridiculous but villainy gence; I shall send them open, in order and vice. that you may take copies or translations, When I had just quitted my native as you are equally versed in the Dutch and country, and crossed the Chinese wall, I Chinese languages. Dear friend, think of fancied every deviation from the customs my absence with regret, as I sincerely and manners of China was a departing from regret yours; even while I write, I lament nature. I smiled at the blue lips and red our separation.-Farewell.
foreheads of the Tonguese; and could
hardly contain when I saw the Daures LETTER III.
dress their heads with horns: the Ostiacs From Lien Chi Altangi to the care of Fipsihi, muck beauties, tricked out in all the finery
powdered with red earth ; and the Cal. resident in Moscow, to be forwarded by the Russian caravan to Fum Hoam, First Presi- of sheepskin, appeared highly ridiculous. dent of the Ceremonial Academy at Pekin, in But I soon perceived that the ridicule lay China.
not in them, but in me; that I falsely conTHINK not, O thou guide of my youth! demned others for absurdity, because they that absence can impair my respect, or happened to differ from a standard oriinterposing trackless deserts blot your ginally founded in prejudice or partiality. reverend figure from my memory. The I find no pleasure, therefore, in taxing farther I travel I feel the pain of separation the English with departing from nature in with stronger force; those ties that bind their external appearance, which is all I me to my native country and you are still yet know of their character : it is possible unbroken. By every remove I only drag they only endeavour to improve her simple a greater length of chain.
plan, since every extravagance in dress Could I find ought worth transmitting proceeds from a desire of becoming more from so remote a region as this to which beautiful than nature made us ; and this I have wandered, I should gladly send it; is so harmless a vanity, that I not only but, instead of this, you must be content pardon, but approve it. A desire to be with a renewal of my former professions, more excellent than others is what actually and an imperfect account of a people with makes us so ; and as thousands find a livewhom I am as yet but superficially ac- lihood in society by such appetites, none quainted. The remarks of a man who has but the ignorant inveigh against them. been but three days in the country can only You are not insensible, most reverend be those obvious circumstances which force Fum Hoam, what numberless trades, even themselves upon the imagination. I con among the Chinese, subsist by the harm sider myself here as a newly created being less pride of each other. Your nose-borers, introduced into a new world. Every ob- feet-swathers, teeth-stainers, eyebrowject strikes with wonder and surprise. The pluckers, would all want bread, should imagination, still unsated, seems the only their neighbours want vanity. Thesc active principle of the mind. The most vanities, however, employ much fewer trilling occurrences give pleasure, till the hands in China than in England ; and a gloss of novelty is worn away. When I fine gentleman or a fine lady here, dressed have ceased to wonder, I may possibly up to the fashion, seems scarcely to have grow wise; I
may then call the reasoning a single limb that does not suffer some principle to my aid, and compare those distortions from art.