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"Some nights ago," says my friend, "sitting alone by my fire, I happened to look into an account of a detection of a set of men called the thief
scarlet stomacher, and perfectly resembles an In-restore him to his usual serenity of temper, by perdian husband, who, when his wife is safely de-mitting him to expatiate upon all the modes of hulivered, permits her to transact business abroad, man misery. while he undergoes all the formality of keeping his bed, and receiving all the condolence in her place. But those who reside constantly in town, owe takers. I read over the many hideous cruelties of this disorder mostly to the influence of the weather. those haters of mankind, of their pretended friendIt is impossible to describe what a variety of trans-ship to wretches they meant to betray, of their mutations an east wind shall produce; it has been sending men out to rob, and then hanging them. known to change a lady of fashion into a parlour I could not avoid sometimes interrupting the narracouch; an alderman into a plate of custards; and a tive, by crying out, 'Yet these are men! As I dispenser of justice into a rat-trap. Even philoso- went on, I was informed that they had lived by this phers themselves are not exempt from its influence; it has often converted a poet into a coral and bells and a patriot senator into a dumb waiter.
practice several years, and had been enriched by the price of blood; 'And yet,' cried I, 'I have been sent into this world, and am desired to call Some days ago I went to visit the man in black, who led the condemned wretch to the gallows, was these men my brothers! I read, that the very man and entered his house with that cheerfulness which he who falsely swore his life away; 'And yet,' the certainty of a favourable reception always in continued I, that perjurer had just such a nose, spires. Upon opening the door of his apartment, such lips, such hands, and such eyes as Newton.' I found him with the most rueful face imaginable, I at last came to the account of the wretch that in a morning gown and flannel night-cap, earnestwas searched after robbing one of the thief-takers ly employed in learning to blow the German flute. of half-a-crown. Those of the confederacy knew Struck with the absurdity of a man in the decline that he had got but that single half-crown in the of life thus blowing away all his constitution and world; after a long search, therefore, which they spirits, even without the consolation of being mu- knew would be fruitless, and taking from him the sical, I ventured to ask what could induce him to half-crown, which they knew was all he had, one attempt learning so difficult an instrument so late of the gang compassionately cried out, 'Alas! poor in life; to this he made no reply, but groaning, and still holding the flute to his lips, continued to gaze will do him service in Newgate, where we are creature, let him keep all the rest he has got, it at me for some moments very angrily, and then sending him.' This was an instance of such comproceeded to practise his gamut as before. After plicated guilt and hypocrisy, that I threw down the having produced a variety of the most hideous book in an agony of rage, and began to think with tones in nature, at last turning to me, he demand-malice of all the human kind. I sat silent for some ed, whether I did not think he had made a sur-minutes, and soon perceiving the ticking of my prising progress in two days? "You see, con- watch beginning to grow noisy and troublesome, tinues he, "I have got the ambusheer already; and I quickly placed it out of hearing, and strove to reas for fingering, my master tells me, I shall have sume my serenity. But the watchman soon gave that in a few lessons more. I was so much astonished with this instance of inverted ambition, that this, when my peace was assaulted by the wind me a second alarm. I had scarcely recovered from knew not what to reply, but soon discerned the at my window; and when that ceased to blow, cause of all his absurdities; my friend was under I listened for death-watches in the wainscot. I metamorphosis by the power of spleen, and flute now found my whole system discomposed. I strove blowing was unluckily become his adventitious to find a resource in philosophy and reason; but passion. what could I oppose, or where direct my blow,
In order, therefore, to banish his anxiety imper-when I could see no enemy to combat? I saw no ceptibly, by seeming to indulge it, I began to des- misery approaching, nor knew any I had to fear, cant on those gloomy topics by which philosophers yet still I was miserable. Morning came, I sought often get rid of their own spleen, by communicating for tranquillity in dissipation, sauntered from one it; the wretchedness of a man in this life; the hap-place of public resort to another, but found myself piness of some wrought out of the miseries of disagreeable to my acquaintance, and ridiculous to others; the necessities that wretches should expire others. I tried at different times dancing, fencing, under punishment, that rogues might enjoy afflu- and riding; I solved geometrical problems, shaped ence in tranquillity; I led him on from the inhu- tobacco-stoppers, wrote verses, and cut paper. At manity of the rich to the ingratitude of the beggar; last I placed my affections on music, and find, that from the insincerity of refinement to the fierceness carnest employment, if it can not cure, at least will of rusticity; and at last had the good fortune to palliate every anxiety," Adieu.
From the Same.
them by ill-nature among themselves, and subjection to new penalties; but such considerations never weigh with them.
But to recompense this strange absurdity, they It is no unpleasing contemplation, to consider are in the main generous, brave, and enterprising. the influence which soil and climate have upon the They feel the slightest injuries with a degree of disposition of the inhabitants, the animals, and ve- ungoverned impatience, but resist the greatest cagetables, of different countries. That among the lamities with surprising fortitude. Those miseries brute creation is much more visible than in man, under which any other people in the world would and that in vegetables more than either. In some sink, they have often showed they were capable of places, those plants which are entirely poisonous enduring; if accidentally cast upon some desolate at home, lose their deleterious quality by being coast, their perseverance is beyond what any other carried abroad; there are serpents in Macedonia so nation is capable of sustaining; if imprisoned for harmless as to be used as playthings for children; crimes, their efforts to escape are greater than and we are told that in some parts of Fez, there are among others. The peculiar, strength of their lions so very timorous as to be scared away, though prisons, when compared to those elsewhere, arcoming in herds, by the cries of women. gues their hardiness; even the strongest prisons I
I know of no country where the influence of cli- have ever seen in other countries would be very inmate and soil is more visible than in England; the sufficient to confine the untameable spirit of an Ensame hidden cause which gives courage to their glishman. In short, what man dares do in cirdogs and cocks, gives also fierceness to their men. cumstances of danger, an Englishman will. His But chiefly this ferocity appears among the vulgar. virtues seem to sleep in the calm, and are called out The polite of every country pretty nearly resem- only to combat the kindred storm.
ble each other. But, as in simpling, it is among But the greatest eulogy of this people is the the uncultivated productions of nature we are to generosity of their miscreants, the tenderness in examine the characteristic differences of climate general, of their robbers and highwaymen. Perand soil, so in an estimate of the genius of the haps no people can produce instances of the same people, we must look among the sons of unpolished kind, where the desperate mix pity with injustice; rusticity. The vulgar English, therefore, may be still showing that they understand a distinction in easily distinguished from all the rest of the world, crimes, and, even in acts of violence, having still by superior pride, impatience, and a peculiar hardi- some tincture of remaining virtue. In every other ness of soul. country, robbery and murder go almost always toPerhaps no qualities in the world are more sus-gether; here it seldom happens, except upon illceptible of a finer polish than these; artificial com- judged resistance or pursuit. The banditti of other plaisance and easy deference being superinduced countries are unmerciful to a supreme degree; the over these generally form a great character; some-highwayman and robber here are generous, at least, thing at once elegant and majestic; affable, yet in their intercourse among cach other. Taking, sincere. Such, in general, are the better sort; but therefore, my opinion of the English from the virthey who are left in primitive rudeness are the least disposed for society with others, or comfort internally, of any people under the sun.
tues and vices practised among the vulgar, they at once present to a stranger all their faults, and keep their virtues up only for the inquiring eye of a philosopher.
The poor indeed of every country, are but little prone to treat each other with tenderness; their Foreigners are generally shocked at their insoown miseries are too apt to engross all their pity; lence upon first coming among them; they find and perhaps too, they give but little commiseration, themselves ridiculed and insulted in every street; as they find but little from others. But in En- they meet with none of those trifling civilities, so gland the poor treat each other upon every occa- frequent elsewhere, which are instances of mutual sion with more than savage animosity, and as if good-will, without previous acquaintance; they they were in a state of open war by nature. In travel through the country, either too ignorant or China, if two porters should meet in a narrow too obstinate to cultivate a closer acquaintance; street, they would lay down their burdens, make a meet every moment something to excite their disthousand excuses to each other for the accidental gust, and return home to characterise this as the interruption, and beg pardon on their knees; if two region of spleen, insolence, and ill-nature. In short, men of the same occupation should meet here, they England would be the last place in the world I would first begin to scold, and at last to beat each would travel to by way of amusement, but the first other. One would think they had miseries enough for instruction. I would choose to have others for resulting from penury and labour, not to increase my acquaintance, but Englismen for my friends.
From the Same.
moment! Perhaps, while I write, this dreadful change has begun. Shield me from universal ruin! Yet, idiot man laughs, sings, and rejoices, in the very face of the sun, and seems no way touch
THE mind is ever ingenious in making its owned with his situation. distress. The wandering beggar who has none to Tuesday. Went to bed in great distress, awaked protect, to feed, or to shelter him, fancies complete and was comforted, by considering that this change happiness in labour and a full meal; take him from was to happen at some indefinite time; and thererags and want, feed, clothe, and employ him, his fore, like death, the thoughts of it might easily be wishes now rise one step above his station; he borne. But there is a revolution, a fixed detercould be happy were he possessed of raiment, food, mined revolution, which must certainly come to and ease. Suppose his wishes gratified even in pass; yet which, by good fortune, I shall never feel, these, his prospects widen as he ascends; he finds except in my posterity. The obliquity of the equa himself in affluence and tranquillity indeed, but in- tor with the ecliptic is now twenty minutes less dolence soon breeds anxiety, and he desires not only than when it was observed two thousand years ago to be freed from pain, but to be possessed of pleasure; by Piteas. If this be the case, in six thousand the pleasure is granted him, and this but opens his soul obliquity will be still less by a whole degree. This to ambition; and ambition will be sure to taint his being supposed, it is evident that our earth, as future happiness, either with jealousy, disappoint- Louville has clearly proved, has a motion, by which ment, or fatigue. the climates must necessarily change place, and, in
But of all the arts of distress found out by man the space of about one million of years, England for his own torment, perhaps that of philosophic shall actually travel to the Antarctic pole. I shudmisery is most truly ridiculous; a passion nowhere der at the change! How shall our unhappy grandcarried to so extravagant an excess as in the coun- children endure the hideous climate! A million of try where I now reside. It is not enough to engage years will soon be accomplished; they are but a all the compassion of a philosopher here, that his moment when compared to eternity; then shall our own globe is harrassed with wars, pestilence, or charming country, as I may say, in a moment of barbarity; he shall grieve for the inhabitants of the time, resemble the hideous wilderness of Nova moon, if the situation of her imaginary mountains Zembla! happens to alter; and dread the extinction of the Wednesday. To-night, by my calculation, the sun, if the spots on his surface happens to increase. long predicted comet is to make its first appearance. One should imagine, that philosophy was introduc- Heavens! what terrors are impending over our lited to make men happy; but here it serves to make tle dim speck of earth! Dreadful visitation! Are hundreds miserable. we to be scorched in its fires, or only smothered in My landlady, some days ago, brought the diary the vapour of its tail? That is the question! of a philosopher of this desponding sort, who had Thoughtless mortals, go build houses, plant orlodged in the apartment before me. It contains the chards, purchase estates, for to-morrow you die. history of a life, which seems to be one continued But what if the comet should not come? That tissue of sorrow, apprehension and distress. A sin- would be equally fatal. Comets are servants which gle week will serve as a specimen of the whole. periodically return to supply the sun with fuel. If Monday. In what a transient decaying situation our sun, therefore, should be disappointed of the are we placed; and what various reasons does phi- expected supply, and all his fuel be in the meantime losophy furnish to make mankind unhappy! A burnt out, he must expire like an exhausted taper. single grain of mustard shall continue to produce What a miserable situation must our earth be in its similitude through numberless successions; without his enlivening rays! Have we not seen yet, what has been granted to this little seed, has several neighbouring suns entirely disappear? Has been denied to our planetary system; the mustard not a fixed star, near the tail of the Ram, lately seed is still unaltered, but the system is growing been quite extinguished?
old, and must quickly fall to decay. How terrible Thursday. The comet has not yet appeared; I will it be, when the motions of all the planets have am sorry for it: first, sorry because my calculation at last become so irregular as to need repairing; is false; secondly, sorry lest the sun should want when the moon shall fall into frightful paroxysms fuel; thirdly, sorry lest the wits should laugh at our of alteration; when the earth, deviating from its an- erroneous predictions; and fourthly, sorry because, cient track, and with every other planet forgetting if it appears to-night, it must necessarily come its circular revolutions, shall become so eccentric, within the sphere of the earth's attraction; and that unconfined by the laws of system, it shall fly Heaven help the unhappy country on which it hapoff into boundless space, to knock against some dis-pens to fall!
tant world, or fall in upon the sun, either extin- Friday. Our whole society have been out, all guishing his light, or burned up by his flames in a eager in search of the comet. We have seen not
less than sixteen comets in different parts of the | Butlers, Otways, and Farquhars, were all writers heavens. However, we are unanimously resolved for bread. Believe me, my friend, hunger has a to fix upon one only to be the comet expected. most amazing faculty of sharpening the genius; That near Virgo wants nothing but a tail to fit it and he who, with a full belly, can think like a hero, out completely for terrestrial admiration. after a course of fasting, shall rise to the sublimity of a demi-god.
in the creation. But the moon, the moon gives me real uneasiness; I fondly fancied I had fixed her. I had thought her constant, and constant only to me; but every night discovers her infidelity, and proves me a desolate and abandoned lover. Adieu.
Saturday. The moon is, I find, at her old pranks. Her appulses, librations, and other irre- But what will most amaze is, that this very set gularities, indeed amaze me. My daughter, too, is of men, who are now so much depreciated by fools, this morning gone off with a grenadier. No way are, however, the very best writers they have surprising; I was never able to give her a relish for among them at present. For my own part, were wisdom. She ever promised to be a mere expletive I to buy a hat, I would not have it from a stockingmaker, but a hatter; were I to buy shoes, I should not go to the tailor's for that purpose. It is just so with regard to wit: did I, for my life, desire to be well served, I would apply only to those who made it their trade, and lived by it. You smile at the oddity of my opinion; but be assured, my friend, that wit is, in some measure, mechanical; and that a man, long habituated to catch at even its resemblance, will at last be happy enough to possess the substance. By a long habit of writing he acquires a justness of thinking, and a mastery of manner, which holiday writers, even with ten times his genius, may vainly attempt to equal.
From the Same.
Ir is surprising what an influence titles shall have upon the mind, even though these titles be of our own making. Like children, we dress up How then are they deceived who expect from the puppets in finery, and then stand in astonish- title, dignity, and exterior circumstance, an excelment at the plastic wonder. I have been told of a lence which is in some measure acquired by habit, rat-catcher here, who strolled for a long time about and sharpened by necessity? You have seen, the villages near town, without finding any em-like me, many literary reputations promoted by the ployment; at last, however, he thought proper to influence of fashion, which have scarcely survived take the title of his Majesty's rat-catcher in ordi- the possessor; you have seen the poor hardly earn nary, and this succeeded beyond his expectations: the little reputation they acquired, and their merit when it was known that he caught rats at court, only acknowledged when they were incapable of all were ready to give him countenance and em-enjoying the pleasures of popularity: such, howevployment. er, is the reputation worth possessing; that which But of all the people, they who make books seem is hardly earned is hardly lost. Adieu.
most perfectly sensible of the advantages of titular dignity. All seem convinced, that a book written by vulgar hands, can neither instruct nor improve; none but kings, chams, and mandarines, can write with any probability of success. If the titles inform me right, not only kings and courtiers, but emperors themselves, in this country, periodically supply the press.
From Hingpo, in Moscow, to Lien Chi Altangi, in London,
WHERE will my disappointments end? Must I still be doomed to accuse the severity of my forA man here who should write, and honestly con- tune, and show my constancy in distress, rather fess that he wrote for bread, might as well send his than moderation in prosperity? I had at least hopes manuscript to fire the baker's oven; not one crea-of conveying my charming companion safe from ture will read him: all must be court-bred poets, or the reach of every enemy, and of again restoring pretend at least to be court-bred, who can expect to her to her native soil. But those hopes are now please. Should the caitiff fairly avow a design of no more.
emptying our pockets and filling his own, every Upon leaving Terki, we took the nearest road reader would instantly forsake him; even those to the dominions of Russia. We passed the Ural who write for bread themselves would combine to mountains, covered with eternal snow, and traworry him, perfectly sensible that his attempts versed the forest of Ufa, where the prowling bear only served to take the bread out of their mouths. and shrieking hyena keep an undisputed possesAnd yet this silly prepossession the more amazes sion. We next embarked upon the rapid river me, when I consider, that almost all the excellent Bulija, and made the best of our way to the banks productions in wit that have appeared here, were of the Wolga, where it waters the fruitful valleys purely the offspring of necessity; their Drydens, of Casan.
There were two vessels in company properly | hands to manage her, and the whole crew carried equipped and armed, in order to oppose the Wolga by the peasants up the country. Of this, however, pirates, who, we were informed, infested this river. we were not sensible till our arrival at Moscow; Of all mankind these pirates are the most terrible. where, expecting to meet our separated bark, we They are composed of the criminals and outlawed were informed of its misfortune, and our loss. peasants of Russia, who fly to the forests that lie Need I paint the situation of my mind on this ocalong the banks of Wolga for protection. Here casion? Need I describe all I feel, when I despair they join in parties, lead a savage life, and have no of beholding the beautiful Zelis more? Fancy other subsistence but plunder. Being deprived of had dressed the future prospect of my life in the houses, friends, or a fixed habitation, they become gayest colouring; but one unexpected stroke of more terrible even than the tiger, and as insensible fortune has robbed it of every charm. Her dear idea to all the feelings of humanity. They neither give mixes with every scene of pleasure, and without quarter to those they conquer, nor receive it when her presence to enliven it, the whole becomes teoverpowered themselves. The severity of the laws dious, insipid, insupportable. I will confess-now against them serves to increase their barbarity, and that she is lost, I will confess I loved her: nor is it seems to make them a neutral species of being, be- in the power of time, or of reason, to erase her tween the wilderness of the lion, and the subtlety image from my heart. Adieu. of the man. When taken alive their punishment is hideous. A floating gibbet is erected, which is let run down with the stream: here, upon an iron hook stuck under their ribs, and upon which the whole weight of their body depends, they are left to expire in the most terrible agonies, some being thus found to linger several days successively.
From Lien Chi Altangi to Hingpo, at Moscow." YOUR misfortunes are mine; but, as every pe riod of life is marked with its own, you must learn to endure them. Disappointed love makes the misery of youth; disappointed ambition, that of manhood; and successless avarice, that of age, These three attack us through life; and it is our duty to stand upon our guard. To love, we ought to oppose dissipation, and endeavour to change the object of the affections; to ambition, the happiness
of soon dying. These are the shields with which we should arm ourselves; and thus make every scene of life, if not pleasing, at least supportable.
We were but three days' voyage from the confluence of this river into the Wolga, when we perceived at a distance behind us an armed bark coming up, with the assistance of sails and oars, in order to attack us. The dreadful signal of death was hung upon the mast, and our captain, with his glass, could easily discern them to be pirates. It is impossible to express our consternation on this occasion; the whole crew instantly came together of indolence and obscurity; and to avarice the fear to consult the properest means of safety. It was, therefore, soon determined to send off our women and valuable commodities in one of our vessels, and that the men should stay in the other, and Men complain of not finding a place of repose. boldly oppose the enemy. This resolution was They are in the wrong; they have it for seeking. soon put into execution, and I now reluctantly What they should indeed complain of is, that the parted from the beautiful Zelis for the first time heart is an enemy to that very repose they seek. since our retreat from Persia. The vessel in which To themselves alone should they impute their disshe was disappeared to my longing eyes, in pro- content. They seek within the short span of life portion as that of the pirates approached us. to satisfy a thousand desires: each of which alone They soon came up; but upon examining our is insatiable. One month passes, and another strength, and perhaps sensible of the manner in comes on; the year ends, and then begins; but which we had sent off our most valuable effects, they seemed more eager to pursue the vessel we had sent away than attack us. In this manner they continued to harrass us for three days, still endeavouring to pass us without fighting. But, on the fourth day, finding it entirely impossible, and despairing to seize the expected booty, they desisted from their endeavours, and left us to pursue our voyage without interruption.
man is still unchanging in folly, still blindly continuing in prejudice. To the wise man, every climate, and every soil is pleasing: to him a parterre of flowers is the famous valley of gold; to him a little brook, the fountain of the young peach trees; to such a man, the melody of birds is more ravishing than the harmony of a full concert; and the tincture of the cloud preferable to the touch of the finest pencil.
The life of man is a journey; a journey that must
Our joy on this occasion was great; but soon a disappointment more terrible, because unexpected, succeeded. The bark in which our women and This letter is a raphsody from the maxims of the philoso treasure were sent off was wrecked upon the banks pher Me. Vide Lett. curieuse et edifiante. Vide etiam Du of the Wolga, for want of a proper number of Halde, Vol. II. p. 98.