Слике страница
PDF
ePub

| honourable offices of the state. Among the numLETTER CX.

ber were the inspector of Great Britain, Mr. HenFrom the same.

riques the director of the ministry, Ben. Victor

the treasurer, John Lockman the secretary, and There are numberless employments in the the conductor of the Imperial Magazine. They courts of the eastern monarchs utterly unpractised all acquiesced in the utility of my proposal, but and unknown in Europe. They have no such were apprehensive it might meet with some obofficers, for instance, as the emperor's ear tickler, struction from court upholsterers and chamberor tooth-picker; they have never introduced at the maids, who would object to it from the demolition courts the mandarine appointed to bear the royal of the furniture, and the dangerous use of ferrets tobacco-box, or the grave director of the imperial and ratsbane. exercitations in the seraglio. Yet I am surprised My next proposal is rather more general than that the English have imitated us in none of these the former, and might probably meet with less op particulars, as they are generally pleased with position. Though no people in the world flatter every thing that comes from China, and excessively each other more than the English, I know none fond of creating new and useless employments. who understand the art less, and flatter with such They have filled their houses with our furniture, little refinement. Their panegyric, like a Tartar their public gardens with our fireworks, and their feast

, is indeed served up with profusion, but their very ponds with our fish. Our courtiers, my friend, cookery is insupportable. A client here shall dress are the fish and the furniture they should have im- up a fricassee for his patron, that shall offend an ported; our courtiers would fill up the necessary ordinary nose before it enters the room. A town ceremonies of a court better than those of Europe; shall send up an address to a great minister, which would be contented with receiving large salaries shall prove at once a satire on the minister and for doing little; whereas some of this country are themselves. If the favourite of the day sits, or at present discontented, though they receive large stands, or sleeps, there are poets to put it into verse, salaries for doing nothing.

and priests to preach it in the pulpit. In order, I lately, therefore, had thoughts of publishing a therefore, to free both those who praise, and those proposal here, for the admission of some new east- who are praised, from a duty probably disagreeable ern offices and titles into their Court Register. to both, I would constitute professed flatterers here, As I consider myself in the light of a cosmopo- as in several courts of India. These are appointlite, I find as much satisfaction in scheming for the ed in the courts of their princes, to instruct the countries in which I happen to reside as for that people where to exclaim with admiration, and in which I was born.

where to lay an emphasis of praise. But an offiThe finest apartments in the palace of Pegu are cer of this kind is always in waiting when the emfrequently infested with rats. These the religion peror converses in a familiar manner among his of the country strictly forbids the people to kill. rajahs and other nobility. At every sentence, when In such circumstances, therefore, they are obliged the monarch pauses, and smiles at what he has to have recourse to some great man of the court, been saying, the Karamatman, as this officer is who is willing to free the royal apartments, even called, is to take it for granted that his majesty has at the hazard of his salvation. After a weak said a good thing. Upon which he cries outmonarch's reign, the quantity of court vermin in "Karamat! Karamat!-a miracle! a miracle." every corner of the palace is surprising ; but a and throws up his hands and his eyes in ecstasy. prudent king, and a vigilant officer, soon drive This is echoed by the courtiers around, while the them from their sanctuaries behind the mats and emperor sits all this time in sullen satisfaction, entapestry, and effectually free the court. Such an joying the triumph of his joke, or studying a new officer in England would, in my opinion, be ser- repartee. viceable at this juncture; for it, as I am told, the I would have such an officer placed at every palace be old, much vermin must undoubtedly have great man's table in England. By frequent praetaken refuge behind the wainscot and hangings. tice he might soon become a perfect master of the A minister should therefore be invested with the art, and in time would turn out pleasing to his title and dignities of court vermin-killer; he should patron, no way troublesome to himself, and might have full power either to banish, take, poison, or prevent the nauseous attempts of many more ig. destroy them, with enchantments, traps, ferrets, or norant pretenders. The clergy here, I am coni ratsbane. He might be permitted to brandish his vinced, would relish this proposal. It would probesom without remorse, and brush down every vide places for several of them. And indeed, by part of the furniture, without sparing a single cob- some of their late productions, many appear web, however sacred by long prescription. I com- have qualified themselves as candidates for this municated this proposal some days ago in a com- office already. pany of the first distinction, and enjoying the most But my last proposal I take to be of the utmost

to

importance. Our neighbour the empress of Russia, finement in religion-making, that they have actually has, you may remember, instituted an order of fe- formed a new sect without a new opinion; they male knighthood: the empress of Germany has quarrel for opinions they both equally defend; they also instituted another: the Chinese have had such hate each other, and that is all the difference bean order time immemorial. I am amazed the En-tween them. glish have never come into such an institution. But though their principles are the same, their When I consider what kind of men are made practice is somewhat different. Those of the esknights here, it appears strange that they have tablished religion laugh when they are pleased, and never conferred this honour upon women. They their groans are seldom extorted but by pain or make cheesemongers and pastry cooks knights; danger. The new sect on the contrary weep for then, why not their wives? They have called up their amusement, and use little music, except a tallow-chandlers to maintain the hardy profession chorus of sighs and groans, or tunes that are made of chivalry and arms: then, why not their wives ? to imitate groaning. Laughter is their aversion; Haberdashers are sworn, as I suppose all knights lovers court each other from the Lamentations; the must be sworn, never to fly in time of mellay or bridegroom approaches the nuptial couch in sorrowbattle, to maintain and uphold the noble estate of ful solemnity, and the bride looks more dismal than chivalry with horse, harnishe and other knightlye an undertaker's shop. Dancing round the room habiliments. Haberdashers, I say, are sworn to all is with them running in a direct line to the devil; this; then, why not their wives ? Certain I am, and as for gaming, though but in jest, they would their wives understand fighting and feats of mellay sooner play with a rattlesnake's tail than finger a and battle better than they; and as for knightlye dice-box. horse and harnishe, it is probable both know no- By this time you perceive, that I am describing a thing more than the harness of a one-horse chaise. sect of enthusiasts, and you have already compared No, no, my friend, instead of conferring any order them with the Faquirs, Brahmins, and Talapoins upon the husbands, I would knight their wives. of the East. Among these, you know, are generaHowever, the state should not be troubled with a tions that have never been known to smile, and new institution upon this occasion. Some ancient voluntary affliction makes up all the merit they exploded order might be revived, which would fur- can boast of. Enthusiasms in every country pronish both a motto and a name,—the ladies might duce the same effects; stick the Faquir with pins, be permitted to choose for themselves. There are, or confine the Brahmin to a vermin hospital, for instance, the obsolete orders of the Dragon in spread the Talapoin on the ground, or load the Germany, of the Rue in Scotland, and the Porcu- sectary's brow with contrition : those worshippers pine in France; all well-sounding names, and very who discard the light of reason are ever gloomy; applicable to my intended female institution. Adieu. their fears increase in proportion to their igno

rance, as men are continually under apprehensions

who walk in darkness. LETTER CXI.

Yet there is still a stronger reason for the enthusiast's being an enemy to laughter; namely, his be

ing himself so proper an object of ridicule. It is reReligious sects in England are far more nu-markable, that the propagators of false doctrines merous than in China. Every man, who has in- have ever been averse to mirth, and always begin terest enough to hire a conventicle here, may set by recommending gravity, when they intended to up for himself, and sell off a new religion. The disseminate imposture. Fohi, the idol of China, is sellers of the newest pattern give extreme good represented as having never laughed; Zoroaster, bargains; and let their disciples have a great deal the leader of the Brahmins, is said to have laughed of confidence for very little money.

but twice-upon his coming into this world, and Their shops are much frequented, and their cus- upon his leaving it; and Mahomet himself, though tomers every day increasing; for people are natu- a lover of pleasure, was a professed opposer of gaie. rally fond of going to Paradise at as small expense ty. Upon a certain occasion, telling his followers as possible.

that they would all appear naked at the resurrecYet, you must not conceive this modern sect as tion, his favourite wife represented such an asremdiffering in opinion from those of the established bly as immodest and unbecoming. "Foolish woreligion; difference of opinion indeed formerly di- man!" cried the grave prophet, "though the whole vided their sectaries, and sometimes drew their ar- assembly be naked, on that day they shall have formies to the field. White gowns and black man- gotten to laugh.” Men like him opposed ridicule, tles, flapped hats and cross pocket-holes, were once because they knew it to be a most formidable anthe obvious causes of quarrel; men then had some tagonist, and preached up gravity, to conceal their reason for fighting; they knew what they fought own want of importance. about; but at present, they are arrived at such re- Ridicule has ever been the most powerful enemy

From the Same.

of enthusiasm, and properly the only antagonist solved, and another appointed to be chosen. This that can be opposed to it with success. Persecu- solemnity falls infinitely short of our feast of the tion only serves to propagate new religions; they Lanterns, in magnificence and splendour; it is also acquire fresh vigour beneath the executioner and surpassed by others of the East in unanimity and the axe; and like some vivacious insects, multiply pure devotion; but no festival in the world can by dissection. It is also impossible to combat en compare with it for eating. Their eating, indeed, thusiasm by reason, for though it makes a show amazes me; had I five hundred heads, and were of resistance, it soon eludes the pressure, refers you each head furnished with brains, yet would they to distinctions not to be understood, and feelings all be insufficient to compute the number of cows, which it can not explain. A man who would en. pigs, geese, and turkeys, which upon this occasion deavour to fix an enthusiast by argument, might die for the good of their country! as well attempt to spread quicksilver with his To say the truth, eating seems to make a grand fingers. The only way to conquer a visionary is ingredient in all English parties of zeal, business, to despise him; the stake, the fagot, and the dis- or amusement. When a church is to be built, or puting doctor, in some measure ennoble the opinions an hospital endowed, the directors assemble, and they are brought to oppose: they are harmless instead of consulting upon it, they eat upon it, by against innovating pride; contempt alone is truly which means the business goes forward with sucdreadful. Hunters generally know the most vul- cess. When the poor are to be relieved, the offnerable part of the beasts they pursue, by the care cers appointed to dole out public charity assemble which every animal takes to defend the side which and eat upon it. Nor has it ever been known that is weakest : on what side the enthusiast is most they filled the bellies of the poor till they had prevulnerable may be known by the care which he viously satisfied their own. But in the election of takes in the beginning to work his disciples into magistrates, the people seem to exceed all bounds; gravity, and guard them against the power of ridi- the merits of a candidate are often measured by the cule.

number of his treats; his constitutents assemble, When Philip the Second was king of Spain, cat upon him, and lend their applause, not to his inthere was a contest in Salamanca between two or-tegrity or sense, but to the quantities of his beef ders of friars for superiority. The legend of one and brandy. side contained more extraordinary miracles, but the And yet I could forgive this people their plentilegend of the other was reckoned most authentic. ful meals on this occasion, as it is extremely natural They reviled each other, as is usual in disputes of for every man to eat a great deal when he gets it divinity, the people were divided into factions, and for nothing; but what amazes me is, that all this a civil war appeared unavoidable. In order to pre- good living no way contributes to improve their vent such an imminent calamity, the combatants good-humour. On the contrary, they seem to lose were prevailed upon to submit their legends to the their temper as they lose their appetites; every fiery trial, and that which came forth untouched by morsel they swallow, and every glass they pour the fire was to have the victory, and to be honour-down, serves to increase their animosity. Many ed with a double share of reverence. Whenever an honest man, before as harmless as a tame rabthe people flock to see a miracle, it is a hundred to bit, when loaded with a single election dinner, has one but that they see a miracle; incredible, there become more dangerous than a charged culverin. fore, were the numbers that were gathered round Upon one of these occasions, I have actually seen upon this occasion. The friars on each side ap- a bloody-minded man-milliner sally forth at the proached, and confidently threw their respective head of a mob, determined to face a desperate paslegends into the flames, when lo! to the utter dis- try-cook, who was general of the opposite party. appointinent of all the assembly, instead of a But you must not suppose they are without a miracle, both legends were consumed. Nothing pretext for thus beating each other. On the conbut thus turning both parties into contempt could trary, no man here is so uncivilized as to beat his have prevented the effusion of blood. The people neighbour without producing very sufficient reanow laughed at their former folly, and wondered sons. One candidate, for instance, treats with why they fell out. Adieu

gin, a spirit of their own manufacture ; another always drinks brandy, imported from abroad. Brandy is a wholesome liquor; gin a liquor wholly their

This then furnishes an obvious cause of LETTER CXII.

quar whether it be most reasonable to get drunk with gin, or get drunk with brandy? The mob

meet upon the debate ; fight themselves sober; and The English are at present employed in cele- then draw off to get drunk again, and charge for brating a feast which becomes general every seventh another encounter. So that the English may now year; the parliament of the nation being then dis- properly be said to be engaged in war; since, while

[ocr errors]

From the Same.

From the Same,

they are subduing their enemies abroad, they are could be prevailed upon to make no other answer breaking each other's heads at home.

but" tobacco and brandy." In short, an electionI lately made an excursion to a neighbouring hall seems to be a theatre, where every passion is town, in order to be a spectator of the ceremonies seen without disguise; a school, where fools may practised upon this occasion. I left London in readily become worse, and where philosophers may company with three fiddlers, nine dozen of hams, gather wisdom. Adieu. and a corporation poet, which were designed as reinforcements to the gin-drinking party. We entered the town with a very good face; the fiddlers, no way intimidated by the enemy, kept handling

LETTER CXIII. their arms up the principal street. By this prudent manæuvre they took peaceable possession of their head-quarters, amidst the shouts of multitudes, The disputes among the learned here are now who seemed perfectly rejoiced at hearing their mu- carried on in a much more compendious manner sic, but above all at seeing their bacon.

than formerly. There was a time when folio I must own, I could not avoid being pleased to was brought to oppose folio, and a champion was see all ranks of people on this occasion levelled in- often listed for life under the banners of a single to an equality, and the poor, in some measure, en- sorites. At present, the controversy is decided in joy the primitive privileges of nature. If there was a summary way; an epigram or an acrostic finish any distinction shown, the lowest of the people es the debate, and the combatant, like the incurseemed to receive it from the rich. I could per- sive Tartar, advances and retires with a single ceive a cobbler with a levee at his door, and a haber- blow. dasher giving audience from behind his counter. An important literary debate at present enBut my reflections were soon interrupted by a grosses the attention of the town. It is carried on mob, who demanded whether I was for the distil- with sharpness, and a proper share of this epigramlery or the brewery? As these were terms with matical fury. An author, it seems, has taken an which I was totally unacquainted, I chose at first aversion to the faces of several players, and has to be silent, however, I know not what might have written Verses to prove his dislike; the players fall been the consequence of my reserve, had not the upon the author, and assure the town he must be attention of the mob been called off to a skirmish dull, and their faces must be good, because he wants between a brandy-drinker's cow and a gin-drink- a dinner: a critic comes to the poet's assistance, er's mastiff, which turned out, greatly to the satis- asserting that the verses were perfectly original, faction of the mob, in favour of the mastiff. and so smart, that he could never have written

This spectacle, which afforded high entertain them without the assistance of friends ; the friends, ment, was at last ended by the appearance of one upon this, arraign the critic, and plainly prove the of the candidates, who came to harangue the mob: verses to be all the author's own. So at it they be made a very pathetic speech upon the late ex- are, all four together by the ears; the friends at cessive importation of foreign drams, and the down-the critic, the critic at the players, the players a fal of the distillery; I could see some of the audi- the author, and the author at the players again. ence shed tears.

He was accompanied in his pro- It is impossible to determine how this many-sided cession by Mrs. Deputy and Mrs. Mayoress. contest will end, or which party to adhere to. The

was not in the least in liquor; and town, without siding with any, views the coinbat as for Mrs. Mayoress, one of the spectators assured in suspense, like the fabled hero of antiquity, who me in my ear, that-she was a very fine woman beheld the earth-born brothers give and receive before she had the small-pox.

mutual wounds, and fall by indiscriminate destrucMixing with the crowd, I was now conducted tion. to the hall where the magistrates are chosen: but This is, in some measure, the state of the prewhat tongue can describe this scene of confusion ! sent dispute; but the combatants here differ in one the whole crowd seemed equally inspired with respect from the champions of the fable. Every anger, jealousy, politics, patriotism, and punch. I new wound only gives vigour for another blow; remarked one figure that was carried up by two though they appear to strike, they are in fact mumen upon this occasion. I at first began to pity tually swelling themselves into consideration, and his infirmities as natural, but soon found the fellow thus advertising each other into fame.“ To-day," so drunk that he could not stand; another made says one, “my name shall be in the Gazette, the bis appearance to give his vote, but though he next day my rival's; people will naturally inquire could stand, he actually lost the use of his tongue, about us ; thus we shall at least make a noise in the and remained silent ; a third who, though exces- streets, though we have got nothing to sell." I sively drunk, could both stand and speak, being have read of a dispute of a similar nature, which asked the candidate's name for whom he voted, was managed here about twenty years ago. Hilde.

Mrs. Deputy

case,

brand Jacob, as I think he was called, and Charles But, pitying his distress, let virtue* shine, Johnson, were poets, both at that time possessed And giving each your bounty,t let him dine ; of great reputation; for Johnson had written eleven For, thus retain'd, as learned counsel can, plays, acted with great success; and Jacob, though Each however bad, he'll new japan he had written but five, had five times thanked the And, by a quick transition, plainly show town for their unmerited applause. They soon 'Twas no defect of your's, but pocket lov, became mutually enamoured of each other's talents; That caused his putrid kennel to o'erflow." they wrote, they felt, they challenged the town for each other. Johnson assured the public, that no The last lines are certainly executed in a very poet alive had the easy simplicity of Jacob, and Ja- masterly manner. It is of that species of argucob exhibited Johnson as a masterpiece in the pa- mentation called the perplexing. It effectually thetic. Their mutual praise was not without ef- fings the antagonist into a mist; there is no anfect; the town saw their plays, were in raptures, swering it: the laugh is raised against him, while read, and, without censuring them, forgot them. he is endeavouring to find out the jest. At once So formidable a union, howeier, was soon opposed he shows, that the author has a kennel, and that by Tibbald. Tibbald asserted that the tragedies his kennel is putrid, and that his putrid kennel of the one had faults, and the comedies of the other overflows. But why does it overflow? It oversubstituted wit for vivacity: the combined champions flows, because the author happens to have low flew at him like tigers, arraigned the censurer's pockets! judgment, and impeached his sincerity. It was a

There was also another new attempt in this long time a dispute among the learned, which was way; a prosaic epigram which came out upon this in fact the greatest man, Jacob, Johnson, or Tib- occasion. This is so full of matter, that a critic bald ; they had all written for the stage with great might split it into fifteen epigrams, each properly success, their names were seen in almost every pa-fitted with its sting. You shall see it. per, and their works in every coffee-house. However, in the hottest of the dispute, a fourth com

To G. C. and R. L. batant made his appearance, and swept away the “Twas you, or I, or he, or all together, three combatants, tragedy, comedy, and all, into 'Twas one, both, three of them, they know not undistinguished ruin.

whether. From this time they seemed consigned into the This I believe, between us great or small, hands of criticism; scarcely a day passed in which You, I, he, wrote it not—'twas Churchill's all." they were not arraigned as detested writers. The critics, those enemies of Dryden and Pope, were There, there's a perplex! I could have wished, their enemies. So Jacob and Johnson, instead of to make it quite perfect, the author, as in the case mending by criticism, called it envy; and, because before, had added notes. Almost every word adDryden and Pope were censured, they compared mits a scolium, and a long one too. I, YOU, HE! themselves to Dryden and Pope.

Suppose a stranger should ask, "and who are But to return. The weapon chiefly used in the you?" Here are three obscure persons spoken of, present controversy is epigram; and certainly never that may in a short time be utterly forgotten. Their was a keener made use of. They have discovered names should have consequently been mentioned surprising sharpness on both sides. The first that in notes at the bottom. But when the reader comes came out upon this occasion was a new kind of com- to the words great and small, the maze is inextriposition in this way, and might more properly be cable. Here the stranger may dive for a mystery, called an epigrammatic thesis than an epigram. without ever reaching the bottom. Let him know, It consists, first, of an argument in prose; next then, that small is a word purely introduced to follows a motto from Roscommon; then comes the make good rhyme, and great was a very proper epigram; and, lastly, notes serving to explain the word to keep small company. epigram. But you shall have it with all its deco- Yet, by being thus a spectator of others' dangers, rations.

I must own I begin to tremble in this literary con

test for my own. I begin to fear that my challenge AN EPIGRAM,

to Doctor Rock was unadvised, and has procured

me more antagonists than I had at first expected. Addressed to the Gentlemen reflected on in the I have received private letters from several of the Rosciad, a Poem, by the Author.

literati here, that fill my soul with apprehension. Worried with debts, and past all hopes of bail,

I may safely aver, that I nerer gare any creature His pen he prostitutes, l'avoid a gaol.-Roscom.

in this good city offence, except only my rival "Let not the hungry Bavius' angry stroke

* Charity Awake resentment, or your rage provoke;

1 Seuled at one shilling, the price of the poen

« ПретходнаНастави »