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be travelled, however bad the roads or the accom- of thy grandmother's maiden sister. The coffin molation. If, in the beginning, it is found dan- was exposed in the principal hall, in public view. gerous, narrow, and difficult, it must either grow Before it were placed the figures of eunuchs, better in the end, or we shall, by custom, learn to horses, tortoises, and other animals, in attitudes of bear its inequality.
grief and respect. The more distant relations of But, ihough I see you incapable of penetrating the old lady, and I among the number, came to pay into grand principles, attend at least to a simile, our compliments of condolence, and to salute the adapted to every apprehension. I am mounted deceased, after the manner of our country. We upon a wretched ass, I see another man before me had scarcely presented our wax-candles and perupon a sprightly horse, at which I find some un- fumes, and given the howl of departure, when, easiness. I look behind me, and see numbers on crawling on his belly from under a curtain, out foot, stooping under heavy burdens: let me learn came the reverend Fum Hoam himself, in all the to pity their estate, and thank Heaven for my dismal solemnity of distress. Your looks were set
for sorrow; your clothing consisted of a hempen Shingfu, when under misfortunes, would, in the bag tied round the neck with a string. For two beginning, weep like a child ; but he soon recover- long months did this mourning continue. By ed his former tranquillity. After indulging grief night, you lay stretched on a single mat, and sat on for a few days, he would become, as usual, the the stool of discontent by day. Pious man! who Dost merry old man in all the province of Shansi. could thus set an example of sorrow and decorum About the time that his wife died, his possessions to our country. Pious country! where, if we do were all consumed by fire, and his only son sold not grieve at the departure of our friends for their into captivity; Shingfu grieved for one day, and sakes, at least we are taught to regret them for our the next went to dance at a mandarine's door for own. his dinner. The company were surprised to see All is very different here; amazement all! What the old man so merry, when suffering such great sort of a people am I got amongst? Fum, thou son losses; and the mandarine himself coming out, of Fo, what sort of people am I got amongst? No asked him, how he, who had grieved so much, and crawling round the collin; no dressing up in given way to the calamity the day before, could hempen bags; no lying on mats, or sitting on stools! now be so cheerful? “You ask me one question,” Gentlemen here shall put on first mourning with cries the old man, "let me answer, by asking as sprightly an air as if preparing for a birth-night; another: Which is the most durable, a hard thing, and widows shall actually dress for another husband or a soft thing; that which resists, or that which in their weeds for the former. The best jest of all makes no resistance?”—“A hard thing, to be is, that our merry mourners clap bits of muslin on sure," replied the mandarine. "There you are their sleeves, and these are called weepers. Weepwrong," returned Shingfu, “I am now fourscore ing muslin! alas, alas ! very sorrowful truly! These years old; and, if you look in my mouth, you will weepers, then, it seems, are to bear the whole find that I have lost all my teeth, but not a bit of burden of the distress. my tongue." Adieu.
But I have had the strongest instance of this contrast, this tragi-comical behaviour in distress, upon a recent occasion. Their king, whose de
parture, though sudden, was not unexpected, died LETTER XCVI.
after a reign of many years. His age, and uncerFrom Lien Chi Altangi, to Fum IIoam, First President of the diminish the sorrow of his subjects; and their ex
tain state of health, served, in some measure, to Ceremonial Academy at Pekin, in China.
pectations from his successor secmed to balance The manner of grieving for our departed friends their minds between uneasiness and satisfaction. in China is very diflerent from that of Europe. But how ought they to have behaved on such an The mourning colour of Europe is black; that of occasion ? Surely, they ought rather to have enChina white. When a parent or relation dies deavoured to testify there gratitude to their dehere
, for they seldom mourn for friends, it is only ceased friend, than to proclaim their hopes of the clapping on a suit of sables, grimacing it for a few future! Surely, even the successor must suppose days
, and all, soon forgotten, goes on as before ; their love to wear the face of adulation, which so not a single creature missing the deceased, ex- quickly changed the object! However, the very cepit , perhaps, a favourite housekeeper, or a favour- same day on which the old king died, they made
rejoicings for the new. On the contrary, with us in China it is a very For my part, I have no conception of this new serious affair. The piety with which I have seen manner of mourning and rejoicing in a breath; of you behave, on one of these occasions, should never being merry and sad ; of mixing a funeral procesbe forgotten. I remember it was upon the death |sion with a jig and a bonfire. At least, it would
have been just, that they who fattered the king whether I can buy it or no! Fum, thou son of while living, for virtues which he had not, should Fo, what sort of a people am I got amongg? where lament him dead, for those he really had. being out of black is a certain symptom of poverty;
In this universal cause for national distress, as I where those who have miserable faces cannot have had no interest myself, so it is but natural to sup- mourning, and those who have mourning will not pose I felt no real affliction. "In all the losses of wear a miserable face! Adieu. our friends," says an European philosopher, "we first consider how much our own welfare is affected by their departure, and moderate our real grief just in the same proportion.” Now, as I had neither
LETTER XCVII. received, nor expected to receive, favours from
From the Same. kings or their flatterers; as I had no acquaintance in particular with their late monarch; as I knew It is usual for the booksellers here, when a book that the place of a king is soon supplied ; and, as has given universal pleasure upon one subject, to the Chinese proverb has it, that though the world bring out several more upon the same plan; whieh may sometimes want cobblers to mend their shoes, are sure to have purchasers and readers, from that there is no danger of its wanting emperors to rule desire which all men have to view a pleasing obtheir kingdoms: from such considerations, I could ject on every side. The first performance series bear the loss of a king with the most philosophic rather to awaken than satisfy attention; and, when resignation. However, I thought it my duty at that is once moved, the slightest effort serves to least to appear sorrowful; to put on a melancholy continue its progression : the merit of the first difaspect, or to set my face by that of the people. fuses a light sufficient to illuminate the succeeding
The first company I came amongst after the efforts, and no other subject can be relished, till news became general, was a set of jolly companions, that is exhausted. A stupid work coming thus who were drinking prosperity to the ensuing reign. immediately in the train of an applauded performI entered the room with looks of despair, and even ance, weans the mind from the object of its pleasure; expected applause for the superlative misery of my and resembles the sponge thrust into the mouth of countenance. Instead of that, I was universally a discharged culverin, in order to adapt it for a condemned by the company for a grimacing son of new explosion. a whore, and desired to take away my penitential This manner, however, of drawing off a subject, phiz to some other quarter. I now corrected my or a peculiar mode of writing to the dregs, effectuformer mistake, and, with the most sprightly air ally precludes a revival of that subject or manner imaginable, entered a company, where they were for some time for the future; the sated reader turns talking over the ceremonies of the approaching from it with a kind of literary nausea; and though funeral. Here I sat for some time with an air of the titles of books are the part of them most read, pert vivacity; when one of the chief moumers, im- yet he has scarcely perseverance enough to wade mediately observing my good-humour, desired me, through the title-page. if I pleased, to go and grin somewhere else; they Of this number, I own myself one: I am not wanted no disaffected scoundrels there. Leaving grown callous to several subjects, and different this company, therefore, I was resolved to assume kinds of composition. Whether such originally a look perfectly neutral; and have ever since been pleased I will not take upon me to determine; but studying the fashionable air; something between at present I spurn a new book, merely upon seeing jest and earnest; a complete virginity of face, its name in an advertisement; nor have the smalluncontaminated with the smallest symptom of est curiosity to look beyond the first leaf, even meaning.
though, in the second, the author promises his own But though grief be a very slight affair here, the face neatly engraved on copper. mourning, my friend, is a very important concern. I am become a perfect epicure in reading; plain When an emperor dies in China, the whole ex- beef or solid mutton will never do. I am for a Chipense of the solemnities is defrayed from the royal nese dish of bear's claws and birds' nests. I am coffers. When the great die here, mandarines are for sauce strong with assafoetida, or fuming with ready enough to order mourning; but I do not see garlic. For this reason there are a hundred very they are so ready to pay for it. If they send me wise, learned, virtuous, well-intended productions, down from court the gray undress frock, or the that have no charms for me. Thus, for the soul of black coat without pocket holes, I am willing me, I could never find courage nor grace enough to enough to comply with their commands, and wear wade above two pages deep into “Thoughts upon both; but, by the head of Confucius! to be obliged God and Nature;” or Thoughts upon Provito wear black, and buy it into the bargain, is more dence;” or “ Thoughts upon Free Grace ;" or inthan my tranquillity of temper can bear. What, deed into thoughts upon any thing at all. I can order me to wear mourning, before they know no longer meditate with meditations for every day
From the Same.
in the year. Essays upon divers subjects can not would be a fault not to be pleased with good things. allure me, though never so interesting; and as for There I learn several great truths : as, that it is imfuneral sermons, or even thanksgiving sermons, 1 possible to see into the ways of futurity; that
pucan neither weep with the one, nor rejoice with the nishment always attends the villain; that love is other.
the fond soother of the human breast ; that we But it is chiefly in gentle poetry, where I seldom should not resist Heaven's will,—for in resisting look farther than the title. The truth is, I take up Heaven's will Heaven's will is resisted; with sebooks to be told something new; but here, as it is veral other sentiments equally new, delicate, and row managed, the reader is told nothing. He opens striking. Every new tragedy, therefore, I shall go the book, and there finds very good words truly, to see; for reflections of this nature make a toleraand much exactness of rhyme, but no information. ble harmony, when mixed up with a proper quanA parcel of gaudy images pass on before his imagi- tity of drum, trumpet, thunder, lightning, or the nation like the figures in a dream; but curiosity, scene-shifter's whistle. Adieu. induction, reason, and the whole train of affections, are fast asleep. The jucunda et idonea vitæ ; those sallies which mend the heart, while they amuse the fancy, are quite forgotten: so that a
LETTER XCVIII. reader, who would take up some modern applauded performances of this kind, must, in order to be pleased, first leave his good sense behind him, take for I AD some intentions lately of going to visit his recompense and guide bloated and compound Bedlam, the place where those who go mad are epithet, and dwell on paintings, just indeed, because confined. I went to wait upon the man in black laboured with minute exactness.
to be my conductor, but I found him preparing to If we examine, however, our internal sensations, go to Westminster-hall, where the English hold we shall find ourselves but little pleased with such their courts of justice. It gave me some surprise laboured vanities; we shall find that our applause to find my friend engaged in a law-suit, but inore rather proceeds from a kind of contagion caught up so when he informed me that it had been dependfrom others, and which we contribute to diffuse, than ing for several years. “How is it possible," cried from what we privately feel. There are some sub- I, "for a man who knows the world to go to law? jects of which almost all the world perceive the fu- I am well acquainted with the courts of justice in tility; yet all contribute in imposing them upon each hina, they resemble rat-traps every one of them, other, as worthy of praise. But chiefly this imposition nothing more easy than to get in, but to get out obtains in literature, where men publicly contemn again is attended with some difficulty, and more what they relish with rapture in private, and ap- cunning than rats are generally found to possess!” prove abroad what has given disgust at home. The “Faith,” replied my friend, “I should not have truth is, we deliver those criticisms in public which gone to law, but that I was assured of success beare supposed to be best calculated not to do justice fore I began; things were presented to me in so to the author, but to impress others with an opin- alluring a light, that I thought by barely declaring ion of our superior discernment.
myself a candidate for the prize, I had nothing more But let works of this kind, which have already to do than to enjoy the fruits of the victory. Thus come off with such applause, enjoy it all. It is have I been upon the eve of an imaginary triumph not my wish to diminish, as I was never considera- every term these ten years; have travelled forward ble enough to add to their fame. But, for the fu- with victory ever in my view, but ever out of reach; ture, I fear there are many poems of which I shall however, at present, I fancy we have hampered find spirits to read but the title. In the first place, our antagonist in such a manner, that, without all odes upon winter, or summer, or autumn; in some unforeseen demur, we shall this very day lay short
, all odes, epodes, and monodies whatsoever, him fairly on his back.” shall hereafter be deemed too polite, classical, ob- "If things be so situated," said I, "I don't care scure, and refined to be read, and entirely above hu- if I attend you to the courts, and partake in the man comprehension. Pastorals are pretty enough— pleasure of your success. But prithee," continued for those that like them; but to me, Thyrsis is one I, as we set forward, “what reasons have you to of the most insipid fellows I ever conversed with; think an affair at last concluded, which has given and as for Corydon, I do not choose his company. you so many former disappointments?"—"My Elegies and epistles are very fine to those to whom lawyer tells me,” returned he, " that I have Salkeld they are addressed; and as for epic poems, I am and Ventris strong in my favour, and that there generally able to discover the whole plan in reading are no less than fifteen cases in point.”_"I underthe two first pages.
stand,” said I, "those are two of your judges who Tragedies, however, as they are now made, are have already declared their opinions.”—“Pardon good instructive moral sermons enough; and it me," replied my friend, "Salkeld and Ventris are
lawyers, who some hundred years ago gave their that pays them all for watching; it puts me in mind opinions on cases similar to mine; these opinions of a Chinese fable, which is entitled Fire Animals which make for me my lawyer is to cite; and those at a Meal. opinions which look another way are cited by the “A grasshopper, filled with dew, was merrily lawyer employed by my antagonist: as I observed, singing under a shade; a whangam, that eats I have Salheld and Ventris for me, he has Coke grasshoppers, had marked it for its prey, and was and Hale for him ; and he that has most opinions just stretching forth to devour it; a serpent that is most likely to carry his cause.”—“But where is had for a long time fed only on whangams, was the necessity,” cried I, “of prolonging a suit by coiled up to fasten on the whangam ; a yellow bind citing the opinions and reports of others, since the was just upon the wing to dart upon the serpent; same good sense which determined lawyers in for- a hawk had just stooped from above to seize the mer ages may serve to guide your judges at this yellow bird; all were intent on their prey, and unday? They at that time gave their opinions only mindful of their danger; so the whangham ate the from the light of reason; your judges have the grasshopper, the serpent ate the whangam, the yelsame light at present to direct them; let me even low bird the serpent, and the hawk the yellow add, a greater, as in former ages there were many bird; when, sousing from on high, a vulture gobprejudices from which the present is happily free. bled up the hawk, grasshopper, whangam, and all, If arguing froin authorities be exploded from every in a moment." other branch of learning, why should it be par- I had scarcely finished my fable, when the law. ticularly adhered to in this? I plainly foresee how yer came to inform my friend, that his cause was such a method of investigation must embarrass put off till another term, that money was wanting every suit, and even perplex the student; ceremo- to retain, and that all the world was of opinion, nics will be multiplied, formalities must increase, that the very next hearing would bring him off and more time will thus be spent in learning victorious. “If so, then,” cries my friend, "I bethe arts of litigation than in the discovery of lieve it will be my wisest way to continue the cause right."
for another term; and, in the mean tinie, my friend "I sec," crics my friend, "that you are for a here and I will go and see Bedlam.” Adicu. speedy administration of justice; but all the world will grant, that the more time that is taken up in considering any subject, the better it will be un
LETTER XCIX. derstood. Besides, it is the boast of an Englishman, that his property is secure, and all the world
From the Same will grant that a deliberate administration of justice is the best way to secure his property. Why have I LATELY received a visit from the little beau, we so many lawyers, but to secure our property? who, I found, had assumed a new flow of spirits why so many formalities, but to secure our proper- with a new suit of clothes. Our discourse hapty? Not less than one hundred thousand families pened to turn upon the different treatment of the live in opulence, elegance, and ease, merely by se- fair sex here and in Asia, with the influence of curing our property."
beauty in refining our manners, and improving our "To embarrass justice," returned I, "by a mul- conversation. tiplicity of laws, or to hazard it by a confidence in I soon perceived he was strongly prejudiced in our judges, are, I grant, the opposite rocks on favour of the Asiatic method of treating the ses, which legislative wisdom has ever split: in one and that it was impossible to persuade him but case, the client resembles that emperor, who is said that a man was happier who had four wives at his to have been suffocated with the bed-clothes which command, than he who had only one. “It is true," were only designed to keep him warm; in the cries he, “your men of fashion in the East are other, to that town which let the enemy take pos- slaves, and under some terrors of having their session of its walls, in order to show the world how throats squeezed by a bow-string; but what then? little they depended upon aught but courage for they can find ample consolation in a seraglio: they safety.—But, bless me! what numbers do I see make, indeed, an indifferent figure in conversation here—all in black !how is it possible that half abroad, but then they have a seraglio to console this multitude can find employment ?”—"Nothing them at home. I am told they have no balls, so easily conceived,” returned my companion; drums, nor operas, but then they have got a se"they live by watching each other. For instance, raglio; they may be deprived of wine and French the catchpole watches the man in debt, the attorney cookery, but they have a seraglio: a seragliowatches the catchpole, the counsellor watches the seraglio, my dear creature, wipes off every inconattorney, the solicitor the counsellor, and all find venience in the world! sufficient employment."-"I conceive you,” inter- “ Besides, I am told your Asiatic beauties are rupted I, "they watch each other, but it is the client 'the most convenient women alive, for they have no
souls ; positively there is nothing in nature I should der creature's reply? Only that she detested my like so much as ladies without souls; soul, here, is pig-tail wig, high-heeled shoes, and sallow comthe utter ruin of half the sex. A girl of eighteen plexion! That is all. Nothing more!— Yes, by the shall have soul enough to spend a hundred pounds Heavens, though she was more ugly than an un. in the turning of a trump. Her mother shall have painted actress, I found her more insolent than a soul enough to ride a sweepstake match at a horse- thorough-bred woman of quality!" race; her maiden aunt shall have soul enough to He was proceeding in this wild manner, when purchase the furniture of a whole toy-shop; and his invective was interrupted by the man in black, others shall have soul enough to behave as if they who entered the apartment, introducing his niece, had no souls at all."
a young lady of exquisite beauty. Her very ap“ With respect to the soul," interrupted I, “the pearance was sufficient to silence the severest satiAsiatics are much kinder to the fair sex than you rist of the sex: easy without pride, and free withimagine: instead of one soul, Fohi, the idol of out impudence, she seemed capable of supplying China, gives every woman three; the Brahmins every sense with pleasure; her looks, her convergive them fifteen; and even Mahomet himself sation, were natural and unconstrained; she had nowhere excludes the sex from Paradise. Abulfeda neither been taught to languish nor ogle, to laugh reports, that an old woman one day importuning him without a jest, or sigh without sorrow. I found to know what she ought to do in order to gain that she had just returned from abroad, and had Paradise ?—“My good lady," answered the pro- been conversant in the manners of the world. phet, "old women never get there.”—“What ! Curiosity prompted me to ask several questions, never get to Paradise !" returned the matron in a but she declined them all. I own I never found fury. “ Never," says he, "for they always grow myself so strongly prejudiced in favour of appayoung by the way."
rent merit before; and could willingly have pro“ No, sir,” continued I, “the men of Asia be- longed our conversation, but the company after have with more deference to the sex than you seem some time withdrew. Just, however, before the to imagine. As you of Europe say grace upon little beau took his leave, he called me aside, and sitting down to dinner, so it is the custom in China requested I would change him a twenty pound bill; to say grace when a man goes to bed to his wife." which, as I was incapable of doing, he was con-"And may I die,” returned my companion, tented with borrowing half-a-crown. Adieu. " but it is a very pretty ceremony! for, seriously, sir, I see no reason why a man should not be as grateful in one situation as in the other. Upon honour, I always find myself much more disposed
LETTER C. to gratitude on the couch of a fine woman, than
From Lien Chi Altangi to Hingpo, by the way of Moscow. upon sitting down to a sirloin of beef."
" Another ceremony," said I, resuming the con- Few virtues have been more praised by moralversation, "in favour of the sex, amongst us, is ists than generosity; every practical treatise of the bride's being allowed, after marriage, her three ethics tends to increase our sensibility of the disdaya of freedom. During this interval, a thousand tresses of others, and to relax the grasp of fruextravagancies are practised by either sex. The gality. Philosophers that are poor, praise it belady is placed upon the nuptial bed, and number-cause they are gainers by its effects; and the less monkey-tricks are played round to divert her. opulent Seneca himself has written a treatise on One gentleman smells her perfumed handkerchief, benefits, though he was known to give nothing another attempts to untie her garters, a third pulls away. off her shoe to play hunt the slipper, another pre- But among many who have enforced the duty tends to be an ideot, and endeavours to raise a of giving, I am surprised there are none to incul
a laugh by grimacing; in the mean time, the glass cate the ignominy of receiving; to show that by goes briskly about, till ladies, gentlemen, wife, hus- every favour we accept, we in some measure forband, and all, are mixed together in one inunda- feit our native freedom; and that a state of contion of arrack punch."
tinual dependance on the generosity of others, is a "Strike me dumb, deaf, and blind," cried my life of gradual debasement. companion, “but that's very pretty! there's some Were men taught to despise the receiving oblisense in your Chinese ladies' condescensions ! but, gations with the same force of reasoning and deamong us, you shall scarce find one of the whole clamation that they are instructed to confer them, ser that shall hold her good humour for three days we might then see every person in society filling together. No later than yesterday, I happened to up the requisite duties of his station with cheerful say some civil things to a citizen's wife of my ac- industry, neither relaxed by hope, nor sullen from quaintance, not because I loved her, but because I disappointment. had charity; and what do you think was the ten- Every favour a man receives in some measure