« ПретходнаНастави »
own happiness will determine him to persevere in contribute to his own felicity; he knows the pronative barbarity.
perest places where to lay the snare for the sable, and discerns the value of furs with more than European sagacity. More extended knowledge would only serve to render him unhappy; it might lend a ray to show him the misery of his situation, but could not guide him in his efforts to avoid it. Ignorance is the happiness of the poor.
In like manner, his happiness will incline him to bind himself by no law: laws are made in order to secure present property; but he is possessed of no property which he is afraid to lose, and desires no more than will be sufficient to sustain him; to enter into compacts with others, would be undergoing a voluntary obligation without the expect The misery of a being endowed with sentiments ance of any reward. He and his countrymen are above its capacity of fruition, is most admirably tenants, not rivals, in the same inexhaustible for- described in one of the fables of Locman, the Inest; the increased possessions of one by no means dian moralist. "An elephant that had been pediminishes the expectations arising from equal as- culiarly serviceable in fighting the battles of Wistsiduity in another; there is no need of laws, there- now, was ordered by the god to wish for whatever fore, to repress ambition, where there can be no he thought proper, and the desire should be attendmischief attending its most boundless gratification. ed with immediate gratification. The elephant Our solitary Siberian will, in like manner, find thanked his benefactor on bended knees, and dethe sciences not only entirely useless in directing sired to be endowed with the reason and faculties his practice, but disgusting even in speculation. of a man. Wistnow was sorry to hear the foolish In every contemplation, our curiosity must be first request, and endeavoured to dissuade him from his excited by the appearances of things, before our misplaced ambition; but finding it to no purpose, reason undergoes the fatigue of investigating the gave him at last such a portion of wisdom as could Some of those appearances are produced correct even the Zendavesta of Zoroaster. The by experiment, others by minute inquiry; some reasoning elephant went away rejoicing in his new arise from a knowledge of foreign climates, and acquisition; and though his body still retained its others from an intimate study of our own. But ancient form, he found his appetites and passions there are few objects in comparison which present entirely altered. He first considered, that it would themselves to the inhabitant of a barbarous coun- not only be more comfortable, but also more betry: the game he hunts, or the transient cottage coming, to wear clothes; but, unhappily he had no he builds, make up the chief objects of his concern; his curiosity, therefore, must be proportionably less; and if that is diminished, the reasoning faculty will be diminished in proportion.
method of making them himself, nor had he the use of speech to demand them from others; and this was the first time he felt real anxiety. He soon perceived how much more elegantly men were Besides, sensual enjoyment adds wings to curi- fed than he, therefore he began to loathe his usual osity. We consider few objects with ardent atten- food, and longed for those delicacies which adorn tion, but those which have some connexion with the tables of princes; but here again he found it our wishes, our pleasures, or our necessities. A impossible to be satisfied, for though he could easily desire of enjoyment first interests our passions in obtain flesh, yet he found it impossible to dress it the pursuit, points out the object of investigation, in any degree of perfection. In short, every pleaand reason then comments where sense has led the sure that contributed to the felicity of mankind, way. An increase in the number of our enjoy- served only to render him more miserable, as he ments, therefore, necessarily produces an increase found himself utterly deprived of the power of enof scientific research: but in countries where joyment. In this manner he led a repining, disalmost every enjoyment is wanting, reason there contented life, detesting himself, and displeased seems destitute of its great inspirer, and specula- with his ill-judged ambition; till at last his benetion is the business of fools when it becomes its factor, Wistnow, taking compassion on his forlorn own reward. situation, restored him to the ignorance and the The barbarous Siberian is too wise, therefore, happiness which he was originally formed to ento exhaust his time in quest of knowledge, which joy."
neither curiosity prompts, nor pleasure impels himn No, my friend, to attempt to introduce the scien to pursue. When told of the exact admeasure- ces into a nation of wandering barbarians, is only ment of a degree upon the equator of Quito, he to render them more miserable than even nature feels no pleasure in the account; when informed designed they should be. A life of simplicity is that such a discovery tends to promote navigation best fitted to a state of solitude. and commerce, he finds himself no way interested The great lawgiver of Russia attempted to imin either. A discovery, which some have pursued prove the desolate inhabitants of Siberia, by sendat the hazard of their lives, affects him with neither ing among them some of the politest men of Euastonishment nor pleasure. He is satisfied with rope. The consequence has shown, that the counthoroughly understanding the few objects which try was as yet unfit to receive them; they languish
ed for a time, with a sort of exotic malady; every an excellent book, it is to me just as if I had gained day degenerated from themselves, and at last, in- a new friend. When I read over a book I have stead of rendering the country more polite, they perused before, it resembles the meeting with an conformed to the soil, and put on barbarity. old one. We ought to lay hold of every incident
No, my friend, in order to make the sciences in life for improvement, the trifling as well as the useful in any country, it must first become popu- important. It is not one diamond alone which gives lous; the inhabitant must go through the different lustre to another; a common coarse stone is also stages of hunter, shepherd, and husbandman; then, employed for that purpose. Thus I ought to draw when property becomes valuable, and consequent-advantage from the insults and contempt I meet ly gives cause for injustice; then, when laws are with from a worthless fellow. His brutality ought appointed to repress injury, and secure possession; to induce me to self-examination, and correct every when men, by the sanction of those laws, become blemish that may have given rise to his calumny. possessed of superfluity; when luxury is thus in- "Yet with all the pleasures and profits which troduced, and demands its continual supply; then are generally produced by learning, parents often it is that the sciences become necessary and useful; find it difficult to induce their children to study. the state then can not subsist without them; they They often seem dragged to what wears the apmust then be introduced, at once to teach men to pearance of application. Thus, being dilatory in draw the greatest possible quantity of pleasure the beginning, all future hopes of eminence are from circumscribed possession, and to restrain entirely cut off. If they find themselves obliged them within the bounds of moderate enjoyment.
to write two lines more polite than ordinary, their pencil then seems as heavy as a millstone, and they spend ten days in turning two or three periods with propriety.
The sciences are not the cause of luxury, but its consequence; and this destroyer thus brings with it an antidote which resists the virulence of its own poison. By asserting that luxury intro- "These persons are most at a loss when a banduces the sciences, we assert a truth; but if, with quet is almost over; the plate and the dice go round, those who reject the utility of learning, we assert that the sciences also introduce luxury, we shall be at once false, absurd, and ridiculous. Adieu.
From Lien Chi Altangi to Hingpo, by the way of Moscow.
that the number of little verses, which each is obliged to repeat, may be determined by chance. The booby, when it comes to his turn, appears quite stupid and insensible. The company divert themselves with his confusion; and sneers, winks and whispers, are circulated at his expense. As for him, he opens a pair of large heavy eyes, stares at all about him, and even offers to join in the laugh, without ever considering himself as the burden of all their good-humour.
You are now arrived at an age, my son, when pleasure dissuades from application; but rob not, "But it is of no importance to read much, except by present gratification, all the succeeding period you be regular in your reading. If it be interrupted of life of its happiness. Sacrifice a little pleasure for any considerable time, it can never be attended at first to the expectance of greater. The study with proper improvement. There are some who of a few years will make the rest of life completely study for one day with intense application, and repose themselves for ten days after. But wisdom is a coquette, and must be courted with unabating assiduity.
But instead of continuing the subject myself, take the following instructions, borrowed from a modern philosopher of China.* "He who has be- "It was a saying of the ancients, that a man gun his fortune by study, will certainly confirm it never opens a book without reaping some advantage by perseverance. The love of books damps the by it. I say with them, that every book can serve passion for pleasure; and when this passion is once to make us more expert, except romances, and extinguished, life is then cheaply supported: thus these are no better than instruments of debauchery. a man, being possessed of more than he wants, can They are dangerous fictions, where love is the never be subject to great disappointments, and ruling passion. avoids all those meannesses which indigence sometimes unavoidably produces.
"There is unspeakable pleasure attending the life of a voluntary student. The first time I read
"The most indecent strokes there pass for turns of wit; intrigue and criminal liberties for gallantry and politeness. Assignations, and even villany, are put in such strong lights, as may inspire even grown men with the strongest passion; how much dread them, whose reason is so weak, and whose more, therefore, ought the youth of either sex to hearts are so susceptible of passion.
"To slip in bv a back door, or leap a wall, are
accomplishments that, when handsomely set off, | a tea-cup;—such is his character, which, considerenchant a young heart. It is true, the plot is com- ed in every light, is the very opposite of that which monly wound up by a marriage concluded with leads to riches.
the consent of parents, and adjusted by every cere- The poets of the West are as remarkable for mony prescribed by law. But as in the body of their indigence as their genius, and yet, among the the work there are many passages that offend good numerous hospitals designed to relieve the poor, I morals, overthrow laudable customs, violate the have heard of but one erected for the benefit of delaws, and destroy the duties most essential to so- cayed authors. This was founded by Pope Urban ciety, virtue is thereby exposed to the most danger- VIII., and called the retreat of the incurables, inous attacks. timating, that it was equally impossible to reclaim "But, say some, the authors of these romances the patients, who sued for reception, from poverty have nothing in view, but to represent vice punish- or from poetry. To be sincere, were I to send you ed, and virtue rewarded. Granted. But will the an account of the lives of the western poets, either greater number of readers take notice of these ancient or modern, I fancy you would think me Are not their minds employed in collecting materials for a history of Can it be imagined human wretchedness.
punishments and rewards? carried to something else?
that the art with which the author inspires the Homer is the first poet and beggar of note among love of virtue, can overcome that crowd of thoughts the ancients; he was blind, and sung his ballads which sway them to licentiousness? To be able about the streets; but it is observed that his mouth to inculcate virtue by so leaky a vehicle, the author was more frequently filled with verses than with must be a philosopher of the first rank. But in bread. Plautus, the comic poet, was better off-he our age, we can find but few first-rate philoso- had two trades, he was a poet for his diversion, and phers. helped to turn a mill in order to gain a livelihood. "Avoid such performances where vice assumes Terence was a slave; and Boethius died in a gaol. the face of virtue: seek wisdom and knowledge, Among the Italians, Paulo Borghese, almost as without ever thinking you have found them. A good a poet as Tasso, knew fourteen different man is wise, while he continues in the pursuit of trades, and yet died because he could get employwisdom; but when he once fancies that he has ment in none. Tasso himself, who had the most found the object of his inquiry, he then becomes a amiable character of all poets, has often been obliged fool. Learn to pursue virtue from the man that is to borrow a crown from some friend, in order to blind, who never makes a step without first ex- pay for a month's subsistence; he has left us a amining the ground with his staff. pretty sonnet, addressed to his cat, in which he "The world is like a vast sea; mankind like a begs the light of her eyes to write by, being too poor vessel sailing on its tempestuous bosom. Our to afford himself a candle. But Bentivoglio, poor prudence is its sails, the sciences serve us for oars, Bentivoglio! chiefly demands our pity. His comegood or bad fortune are the favourable or contrary dies will last with the Italian language: he dissiwinds, and judgment is the rudder; without this pated a noble fortune in acts of charity and benevolast, the vessel is tossed by every billow, and will lence; but, falling into misery in his old age, was find shipwreck in every breeze. In a word, ob- refused to be admitted into an hospital which he scurity and indigence are the parents of vigilance himself had erected. and economy; vigilance and economy, of riches and honour; riches and honour, of pride and luxury; pride and luxury, of impurity and idleness; and impurity and idleness again produce indigence and obscurity. Such are the revolutions of life." Adieu.
In Spain, it is said, the great Cervantes died of hunger; and it is certain, that the famous Camoens ended his days in an hospital.
If we turn to France, we shall there find even stronger instances of the ingratitude of the public. Vaugelas, one of the politest writers, and one of the honestest men of his time, was surnamed the Owl, from his being obliged to keep within all day, and venture out only by night, through fear of his creditors. His last will is very remarkable. After having bequeathed all his worldly substance to the discharging his debts, he goes on thus: "But, as there still may remain some creditors unpaid, even I FANCY the character of a poet is in every coun- after all that I have shall be disposed of, in such a try the same: fond of enjoying the present, care-case it is my last will, that my body should be sold less of the future, his conversation that of a man of to the surgeons to the best advantage, and that the his actions those of a fool; of fortitude able purchase should go to the discharging those debts to stand unmoved at the bursting of an earthquake, which I owe to society; so that if I could not, while yet of sensibility to be affected by the breaking of living, at least when dead, I may be useful."
From Lien Chi Altangi, to Fum Hoam, First President of the Ceremonial Academy at Pekin, in China.
From the Same.
Cassander was one of the greatest geniuses of his time, yet all his merit could not procure him a bare subsistence. Being by degrees driven into a hatred of all mankind, from the little pity he found amongst them, he even ventured at last ungrate- I HAVE interested myself so long in all the confully to impute his calamities to Providence. In cerns of this people, that I am almost become an his last agonies, when the priest entreated him to Englishman; I now begin to read with pleasure of rely on the justice of Heaven, and ask mercy from their taking towns or gaining battles, and secretly him that made him-"If God," replies he, "has wish disappointment to all the enemies of Britain. shown me no justice here, what reason have I to ex-Yet still my regard to mankind fills me with conpect any from him hereafter?" But being answer-cern for their contentions. I could wish to see the ed, that a suspension of justice was no argument disturbances of Europe once more amicably adjustthat should induce us to doubt of its reality-" Leted: I am an enemy to nothing in this good world me entreat you," continued his confessor, "by all but war; I hate fighting between rival states: I hate that is dear, to be reconciled to God, your father, it between man and man; I hate fighting even beyour maker, and friend."-" No," replied the ex-tween women!
asperated wretch, "you know the manner in which I already informed you, that while Europe was he left me to live; and (pointing to the straw on at variance, we were also threatened from the stage which he was stretched) you see the manner in with an irreconcileable opposition, and that our which he leaves me to die!" singing women were resolved to sing at each other
But the sufferings of the poet in other countries to the end of the season. O my friend, those fears is nothing, when compared to his distresses here; were just! They are not only determined to sing at the names of Spenser and Otway, Butler and Dry-each other to the end of the season, but what is den, are every day mentioned as a national re-worse, to sing the same song; and what is still proach: some of them lived in a state of precarious more insupportable, to make us pay for hearing. indigence, and others literally died of hunger. If they be for war, for my part, I should advise At present, the few poets of England no longer them to have a public congress, and there fairly depend on the great for subsistence; they have now squall at each other. What signifies sounding the no other patrons but the public, and the public, col- trumpet of defiance at a distance, and calling in the lectively considered, is a good and a generous mas-town to fight their battles? I would have them come ter. It is, indeed, too frequently mistaken as to boldly into one of the most open and frequented the merits of every candidate for favour; but, to streets, face to face, and there try their skill in make amends, it is never mistaken long. A per-quavering.
formance indeed may be forced for a time into re- However this may be, resolved I am that they putation, but destitute of real merit, it soon sinks; shall not touch one single piece of silver more of time, the touchstone of what is truly valuable, will mine. Though I have ears for music, thanks be to soon discover the fraud, and an author should never Heaven, they are not altogether ass's ears. What! arrogate to himself any share of success, till his Polly and the Pickpocket to night, Polly and the works have been read at least ten years with satis-Pickpocket to-morrow night, and Polly and the Pickfaction. pocket again! I want patience. I'll hear no more. My soul is out of tune; all jarring discord and confu
in my pocket's bottom: the music you make is more harmonious to my spirit than catgut, rosin, or all the nightingales that ever chirruped in petticoats.
A man of letters at present, whose works are valuable, is perfectly sensible of their value. Every sion. Rest, rest, ye dear three clinking shillings polite member of the community, by buying what he writes, contributes to reward him. The ridicule, therefore, of living in a garret, might have been wit in the last age, but continues such no longer, because But what raises my indignation to the greatest no longer true. A writer of real merit now may degree is, that this piping does not only pester me easily be rich, if his heart be set only on fortune; on the stage, but is my punishment in private conand for those who have no merit, it is but fit that versation. What is it to me, whether the fine pipe such should remain in merited obscurity. He may of the one, or the great manner of the other, be now refuse an invitation to dinner, without fearing preferable? what care I if one has a better top, or to incur his patron's displeasure, or to starve by re- the other a nobler bottom? how am I concerned if maining at home. He may now venture to appear one sings from the stomach, or the other sings with in company with just such clothes as other men a snap? Yet paltry as these matters are, they make generally wear, and talk even to princes with all the a subject of debate wherever I go; and this musical conscious superiority of wisdom. Though he can dispute, especially among the fair sex, almost alnot boast of fortune here, yet he can bravely assert ways ends in a very unmusical altercation. the dignity of independence. Adieu. Sure the spirit of contention is mixed with the
very constitution of the people! divisions among of Chinese ceremonies to no purpose. I know the the inhabitants of other countries arise only from proper share of respect due to every rank in sotheir higher concerns, but subjects the most con- ciety. Stage-players, fire-eaters, singing women, temptible are made an affair of party here; the dancing dogs, wild beasts, and wire-walkers, as spirit is carried even into their amusements. The their efforts are exerted for our amusement, ought very ladies, whose duty should seem to allay the not entirely to be despised. The laws of every impetuosity of the opposite sex, become themselves party champions, engage in the thickest of the fight, scold at each other, and show their courage, even at the expense of their lovers and their beauty.
country should allow them to play their tricks at least with impunity. They should not be branded with the ignominious appellation of vagabonds; at least they deserve a rank in society equal to the mystery of barbers or undertakers, and, could my influence extend so far, they should be allowed to earn even forty or fifty pounds a-year, if eminent in their profession.
There are even a numerous set of poets who help to keep up the contention, and write for the stage. Mistake me not, I do not mean pieces to be acted upon it, but panegyrical verses on the performers, for that is the most universal method of I am sensible, however, that you will censure writing for the stage at present. It is the business me for profusion in this respect, bred up as you are of the stage-poet, therefore, to watch the appearance in the narrow prejudices of eastern frugality. You of every new player at his own house, and so come will undoubtedly assert, that such a stipend is too out next day with a flaunting copy of newspaper great for so useless an employment. Yet how verses. In these, nature and the actor may be set will your surprise increase, when told, that though to run races, the player always coming off victori- the law holds them as vagabonds, many of them ous; or nature may mistake him for herself; or old earn more than a thousand a-year! You are Shakspeare may put on his winding-sheet, and pay amazed. There is cause for amazement. A vagahim a visit; or the tuneful nine may strike up their bond with a thousand a-year is indeed a curiosity harps in his praise; or, should it happen to be an in nature; a wonder far surpassing the flying fish, actress, Venus, the beauteous queen of love, and petrified crab, or travelling lobster. However, from the naked Graces, are ever in waiting: the lady my great love to the profession, I would willingly must be herself a goddess bred and born; she must-have them divested of part of their contempt, and But you shall have a specimen of one of these part of their finery; the law should kindly take poems, which may convey a more precise idea.
To you, bright fair, the nine address their lays,
them under the wing of protection, fix them into a corporation, like that of the barbers, and abridge their ignominy and their pensions. As to their abilities in other respects, I would leave that entirely to the public, who are certainly in this case the properest judges,—whether they despise them
Yes, my Fum, I would abridge their pensions. A theatrical warrior, who conducts the battles of the stage, should be cooped up with the same caution as a bantam cock that is kept for fighting. When one of those animals is taken from its native dunghill, we retrench it both in the quantity of its food, and the number of its seraglio: players should in the same manner be fed, not fattened; they should be permitted to get their bread, but not eat the people's bread into the bargain; and, instead of being permitted to keep four mistresses, in conscience, they should be contented only with two.
And yet think not, my friend, that I have any particular animosity against the champions who are at the head of the present commotion; on the contrary, I could find pleasure in their music, if served up at proper intervals; if I heard it only on Were stage-players thus brought into bounds, proper occasions, and not about it wherever I go. perhaps we should find their admirers less sanguine, In fact, I could patronize them both; and, as an and consequently less ridiculous, in patronizing instance of my condescension in this particular, them. We should be no longer struck with the they may come and give me a song at my lodgings, absurdity of seeing the same people, whose valour on any evening when I am at leisure, provided makes such a figure abroad, apostrophizing in the they keep a becoming distance, and stand, while praise of a bouncing blockhead, and wrangling in they continue to entertain me, with decent humili- the defence of a copper-tailed actress at home. ty, at the door. I shall conclude my letter with the sensible ad
You perceive I have not read the seventeen books monition of Mé the philosopher. "You love har