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It is with a heart full of sorrow, my and, as I read, grow humble, and patient, dear Altangi, that I must inform you, that and wise.
We should feel sorrow, says what the world calls happiness must now he, but not sink under its oppression. The be yours no longer. Our great emperor's heart of a wise man should resemble a displeasure at your leaving China, contrary mirror, which reflects every object without to the rules of our government and the im- being sullied by any. The wheel of fortune memorial custom of the empire, has pro- turns incessantly round; and who can say duced the most terrible effects. Your wife, within himself, I shall to-day be upperdaughter, and the rest of your family, have most? We should hold the immutable been seized by his order, and appropriated mean that lies between insensibility and to his use; all, except your son, are now anguish; our attempts should not be to the peculiar property of him who possesses extinguish nature, but to repress it; not to all : him I have hidden from the officers stand unmoved at distress, but endeavour employed for this purpose; and even at to turn every disaster to our own advantage. the hazard of my life I have concealed him. Our greatest glory is, not in never falling, The youth seems obstinately bent on find. but in rising every time we fall. ing you out, wherever you are; he is deter- I fancy myself at present, Othou reverend mined to face every danger that opposes disciple of Tao, more than a match for all his pursuit. Though yet but fifteen, all that can happen. The chief business of his father's virtues and obstinacy sparkle my life has been to procure wisdom, and in his eyes, and mark him as one destined the chief object of that wisdom was to be to no mediocrity of fortune.
happy. My attendance on your lectures, You see, my dearest friend, what im- my conferences with the missionaries of prudence has brought thee to: from opu. Europe, and all my subsequent adventures lence, a tender family, surrounding friends, upon quitting China, were calculated to and your master's esteem, it has reduced increase the sphere of my happiness, not thee to want, persecution, and, still worse, my curiosity. Let European travellers to our mighty monarch's displeasure. cross seas and deserts merely to measure Want of prudence is too frequently the the height of a mountain, to describe the want of virtue; nor is there on earth a more cataract of a river, or tell the commodities powerful advocate for vice than poverty. which every country may produce: mer. As I shall endeavour to guard thee from chants or geographers, perhaps, may find the one, so guard thyself from the other; profit by such discoveries ; but what ad. and still think of me with affection and vantage can accrue to a philosopher from esteem.-Farewell.
such accounts, who is desirous of under. LETTER VII.
standing the human heart, who seeks
to know the men of every country, who From Lien Chi Altangi to Fum Hoam, First desires to discover those differences which President of the Ceremonial Academy in China.
result from climate, religion, education, [The Editor thinks proper to acquaint the reader,
that the greatest part of the following Letter prejudice, and partiality. seems to him to be little more than a rhapsody
I should think my time very ill bestowed, of sentences borrowed from Confucius, the were the only fruits of my adventures to Chinese philosopher.]
consist in being able to tell, that a tradesA WIFE, a daughter, carried into captivity man of London lives in a house three times to expiate my offence-a son, scarce yet as high as that of our great Emperor; that arrived at maturity, resolving to encounter the ladies wear longer clothes than the every danger in the pious pursuit of one men; that the priests are dressed in colours who has undone him,—these indeed are which we are taught to detest; and that circumstances of distress : though my tears their soldiers wear scarlet, which is with were more precious than the gem of Gol. us the symbol of peace and innocence. conda, yet would they fall upon such an How many travellers are there who con. occasion.
fine their relations to such minute and But I submit to the stroke of Heaven : useless particulars ! For one who enters I hold the volume of Confucius in my hand, into the genius of those nations with whom he has conversed, —who discloses their deviations which they make from us, morals, their opinions, the ideas which from whom all other nations derive their they entertain of religious worship, the in- politeness, as well as their original. trigues of their ministers, and their skill In spite of taste, in spite of prejudice, in sciences,—there are twenty who only I now begin to think their women tolermention some idle particulars, which can able. I can now look on a languishing be of no real use to a true philosopher. blue eye without disgust, and pardon a set All their remarks tend neither to make of teeth, even though whiter than ivory. themselves nor others more happy; they I now begin to fancy there is no universal no way contribute to control their passions, standard for beauty. The truth is, the to bear adversity, to inspire true virtue, or manners of the ladies in this city are so raise a detestation of vice.
very open, and so vastly engaging, that I Men may be very learned, and yet very am inclined to pass over the more glaring miserable; it is easy to be a deep geome- defects of their persons, since compensated trician, or a sublime astronomer, but very by the more solid yet latent beauties of difficult to be a good man. I esteem, the mind. What though they want black therefore, the traveller who instructs the teeth, or are deprived of the allurements heart, but despise him who only indulges of feet no bigger than their thumbs, yet the imagination. A man who leaves home still they have souls, my friend ; such to mend himself and others, is a philoso-souls--so free, so pressing, so hospitable, pher; but he who goes from country to and so engaging! I have received more country, guided by the blind impulse of invitations in the streets of London from curiosity, is only a vagabond. From Zer- the sex in one night, than I have met with dusht down to him of Tyana, I honour at Pekin in twelve revolutions of the moon. all those great names who endeavoured to Every evening, as I return home from unite the world by their travels : such men my usual solitary excursions, I am met by grew wiser as well as better the farther several of these well-disposed daughters they departed from home, and seemed of hospitality, at different times, and in like rivers, whose streams are not only in- different streets, richly dressed, and with creased, but refined, as they travel from minds not less noble than their appearance. their source.
You know that nature has indulged me For my own part, my greatest glory is, with a person by no means agreeable; yet that travelling has not more steeled my are they too generous to object to my constitution against all the vicissitudes of homely appearance; they feel no repugclimate, and all the depressions of fatigue, nance at my broad face and flat nose; they than it has my mind against the accidents perceive me to be a stranger, and that alone of fortune, or the accesses of despair. — is a sufficient recommendation. They even Farewell.
seem to think it their duty to do the LETTER VIII.
honcurs of the country by every act of complaisance in their power.
me under the arm, and in a manner forces How insupportable, Othou possessor me along; another catches me round the of heavenly wisdom, would be this sepa- neck, and desires to partake in this office ration, this immeasurable distance from of hospitality; while a third, kinder still, my friend, were I not able thus to delineate invites me to refresh my spirits with wine. my heart upon paper, and to send thee Wine is, in England, reserved only for the daily a map of my mind !
rich; yet here even wine is given away to I'am every day better reconciled to the the stranger. people among whom I reside, and begin A few nights ago, one of these generous to fancy, that in time I shall find them more creatures, dressed all in white, and flauntopulent, more charitable, and more hos- ing like a meteor by my side, forcibly atpitable, than I at first imagined. I begin tended me home to my own apartment. to learn somewhat of their manners and She seemed charmed with the elegance of customs, and to see reasons for several the furniture, and the convenience of my
To the same.
situation; and well indeed she might, for Chinese, whose religion allows him two I have hired an apartment for not less than wives, takes not half the liberties of the two shillings of their money every week. English in this particular. Their laws may But her civility did not rest here; for, at be compared to the books of the Sybils,parting, being desirous to know the hour, they are held in great veneration, but seland perceiving my watch out of order, she dom read, or seldomer understood; even kindly took it to be repaired by a relation those who pretend to be their guardians, of her own, which, you may imagine, will dispute about the meaning of many of save some expense; and she assures me them, and confess their ignorance of others. that it will cost her nothing. I shall have The law, therefore, which commands them it back in a few days, when mended, and to have but one wife, is strictly observed am preparing a proper speech, expressive only by those for whom one is more than of my gratitude on the occasion :“Celestial sufficient, or by such as have not money excellence !" I intend to say, “happy I am to buy two. As for the rest, they violate in having found out, after many painful it publicly, and some glory in its violation. adventures, a land of innocence, and a They seem to think, like the Persians, that people of humanity : I may rove into other they give evident marks of manhood by climes, and converse with nations yet un increasing their seraglio. A mandarine, known; but where shall I meet a soul of therefore, here generally keeps four wives, such purity as that which resides in thy a gentleman three, and a stage-player two. breast ! Sure thou hast been nurtured by As for the magistrates, the country justices the bill of the Shin Shin, or sucked the and squires, they are employed first in debreasts of the provident Gin Hiung. The bauching young virgins, and then punishmelody of thy voice could rob the Chong ing the transgression. Fou of her whelps, or inveigle the Boh From such a picture you will be apt to that lives in the midst of the waters. Thy conclude, that he who employs four ladies servant shall ever retain a sense of thy for his amusement has four times as much favours; and one day boast of thy virtue, constitution to spare as he who is consincerity, and truth, among the daughters tented with one; that a mandarine is much of China.”—Adieu.
cleverer than a gentleman, and a gentleman
than a player; and yet it is quite the reLETTER IX.
verse: a mandarine is frequently supported
on spindle shanks, appears emaciated by I HAVE been deceived ! She whom I luxury, and is obliged to have recourse to fancied a daughter of paradise, has proved variety, merely from the weakness, not the to be one of the infamous disciples of Han! vigour, of his constitution, the number of I have lost a trifle; I have gained the con- his wives being the most equivocal sympsolation of having discovered a deceiver. tom of his virility. I once more, therefore, relax into my for- Besides the country squire, there is also mer indifference with regard to the English another set of men whose whole employ. ladies; they once more begin to appear ment consists in corrupting beauty: these disagreeable in my eyes. Thus is my whole the silly part of the fair sex call amiable; time passed in forming conclusions which the more sensible part of them, however, the next minute's experience may probably give them the title of abominable. You destroy; the present moment becomes a will probably demand, what are the talents comment on the past, and I improve rather of a man thus caressed by the majority of in humility than wisdom.
the opposite sex? what talents or what Their laws and religion forbid the Eng. beauty is he possessed of, superior to the lish to keep more than one woman; I rest of his fellows? To answer you directly, therefore concluded, that prostitutes were he has neither talents nor beauty; but then banished from society. I was deceived; he is possessed of impudence and assiduity: every man here keeps as many wives as he With assiduity and impudence, men of all can maintain: the laws are cemented with ages, and all figures, may commence adblood, praised and disregarded. The very | mirers. I have even been told of some
To the same.
who made professions of expiring for love, and spread extensive desolation--counwhen all the world could perceive they tries where the brown Tartar wanders for were going to die of old age: and, what a precarious subsistence, with an heart that is more surprising still, such battered never felt pity, himself more hideous than beaux are generally most infamously suc- the wilderness he makes. cessful.
You will easily conceive the fatigue of A fellow of this kind employs three crossing vast tracts of land, either desohours every morning in dressing his head, late, or still more dangerous by its inhaby which is understood only his hair. bitants, the retreat of men who seem
He is a professed admirer, not of any driven from society, in order to make war particular lady, but of the whole sex. upon all the human race; nominally pro
He is to suppose every lady has caught fessing a subjection to Muscovy or China, cold every night, which gives him an but without any resemblance to the counopportunity of calling to see how she does tries on which they depend. the next morning.
After I had crossed the Great Wall, He is, upon all occasions, to show him the first objects that presented themselves self in very great pain for the ladies : if a were the remains of desolated cities, and lady drops even a pin, he is to fly in order all the magnificence of venerable ruin. to present it.
There were to be seen temples of beautiful He never speaks to a lady without ad- structure, statues wrought by the hand of vancing his mouth to her ear, by which he a master, and around, a country of luxufrequently addresses more senses than one. riant plenty; but not one single inhabitant
Upon proper occasions, he looks exces- to reap the bounties of nature. These were sively tender. This is performed by laying prospects that might humble the pride of his hand upon his heart, shutting his eyes, kings, and repress human vanity. I asked and showing his teeth.
my guide the cause of such desolation. He is excessively fond of dancing a These countries, says he, were once the minuet with the ladies, by which is only dominions of a Tartar prince; and these meant walking round the floor eight or ten ruins, the seat of arts, elegance, and ease. times with his hat on, affecting great This prince waged an unsuccessful war gravity, and sometimes looking tenderly with one of the emperors of China; he was on his partner.
conquered, his cities plundered, and all He never affronts any man himself, and his subjects carried into captivity. Such never resents an affront from another.
are the effects of the ambition of kings! He has an infinite variety of talk Ten dervises, says the Indian proverb, shall upon all occasions, and laughs when he sleep in peace upon a single carpet, while has nothing more to say.
two kings shall quarrel, though they have Such is the killing creature who pros- kingdoms to divide them. Sure, my friend, trates himself to the sex till he has undone the cruelty and the pride of man have made them; all whose submissions are the effects more deserts than Nature ever made: she of design, and who, to please the ladies, is kind, but man is ungrateful! almost becomes himself a lady.
Proceeding in my journey through this
pensive scene of desolated beauty, in a few LETTER X.
days I arrived among the Daures, a nation To the same.
still dependent on China. Xaizigar is their I HAVE hitherto given you no account principal city, which, compared with those of my journey from China to Europe ---of of Europe, scarcely deserves the name. my travels through countries where nature The governors, and other officers, who sports in primeval rudeness, where she are sent yearly from Pekin, abuse their pours forth her wonders in solitude-coun- authority, and often take the wives and tries from whence the rigorous climate, daughters of the inhabitants to themselves. the sweeping inundation, the drifted desert, The Daures, accustomed to base submisthe howling forest, and mountains of im- sion, feel no resentment at these injuries, measurable height, banish the husbandman or stifle what they feel. Custom and
necessity teach even barbarians the same meats; which, when they perceive he art of dissimulation that ambition and in- does not consume, they fill up the grave, trigue inspire in the breasts of the polite. and desist from desiring him to eat for Upon beholding such unlicensed stretches the future. How, how can mankind be of power, alas ! thought I, how little does guilty of such strange absurdity? to our wise and good emperor know of these entreat a dead body, already putrid, to intolerable exactions! These provinces are partake of the banquet! Where, I again too distant for complaint, and too insig- repeat it, is human reason ? not only nificant to expect redress. The more dis- some men, but whole nations, seem tant the government, the honester should divested of its illumination.
Here we be the governor to whom it is intrusted ; observe whole country adoring a for hope of impunity is a strong induce. divinity through fear, and attempting to ment to violation.
feed the dead. These are their most The religion of the Daures is more serious and most religious occupations. absurd than even that of the sectaries of Are these men rational, or are not the Fohi. How would you be surprised, o apes of Borneo more wise? sage disciple and follower of Confucius ! Certain I am, O thou instructor of my you who believe one eternal intelligent youth! that without philosophers—withcause of all, should you be present at the out some few virtuous men, who seem to barbarous ceremonies of this infatuated be of a different nature from the rest of people! How would you deplore the mankind—without such as these, the worblindness and folly of mankind ! His ship of a wicked divinity would surely be boasted reason seems only to light him established over every part of the earth. astray, and brutal instinct more regularly Fear guides more to their duty than grapoints out the path to happiness. Could titude : for one man who is virtuous from you think it? they adore a wicked divinity; the love of virtue, from the obligation they fear him and they worship him; they which he thinks he lies under to the Giver imagine him a malicious Being, ready to of all, there are ten thousand who are injure and ready to be appeased. The good only from the apprehensions of pun. men and women assemble at midnight in ishment. Could these last be persuaded, a hut, which serves for a temple. A priest as the Epicureans were, that heaven had stretches himself on the ground, and all no thunders in store for the villain, they the people pour forth the most horrid cries, would no longer continue to acknowledge while drums and timbrels swell the infernal subordination, or thank that Being who concert. After this dissonance, miscalled gave them existence. --Adieu. music, has continued about two hours, the priest rises from the ground, assumes an
LETTER XI. air of inspiration, grows big with the in
To the same. spiring demon, and pretends to a skill in futurity.
From such a picture of nature in primeval In every country, my friend, the bonzes, simplicity, tell me, my much respected the brahmins, and the priests deceive the friend, are you in love with fatigue and people: all reformations begin from the solitude ? Do you sigh for the severe laity; the priests point us out the way to frugality of the wandering Tartar, or reheaven with their fingers, but stand still gret being born amidst the luxury and themselves, nor seem to travel towards the dissimulation of the polite? Rather tell country in view.
me, has not every kind of life vices pecuThe customs of this people correspond liarly its own? Is it not a uth, that to their religion ; they keep their dead refined countries have more vices, but for three days on the same bed where the those not so terrible; barbarous nations person died; after which they bury him few, and they of the most hideous comin a grave moderately deep, but with the plexion ? Perfidy and fraud are the vices head still uncovered. Here for several of civilized nations, credulity and violence days they present him different sorts of those of the inhabitants of the desert.