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of famine or toil, and every change of season serv- ing him in such circumstances. Thus agitated by ed but to aggravate his unsheltered distress. No- contending passions, he flew from his tribunal, and thing but death or flight was left him, and almost falling on the neck of his dear benefactor, burst certain death was the consequence of his attempt- into an agony of distress. The attention of the ing to fly. After some years of bondage, however, multitude was soon, however, divided by another an opportunity of escaping offered; he embraced it object. The robber who had been really guilty, with ardour, and travelling by night, and lodging was apprehended selling his plunder, and struck in caverns by day, to shorten a long story, he at with a panic, confessed his crime. He was brought last arrived in Rome. The day of Alcander's ar- bound to the same tribunal, and acquitted every rival, Septimius sat in the forum administering other person of any partnership in his guilt. Need justice; and hither our wanderer came, expecting the sequel be related? Alcander was acquitted, to be instantly known, and publicly acknowledged. shared the friendship and the honours of his friend Here he stood the whole day among the crowd, Septimius, lived afterwards in happiness and ease, watching the eyes of the judge, and expecting to and left it to be engraved on his tomb, “ That no be taken notice of; but so much was he altered by circumstances are so desperate which Providence a long succession of hardships, that he passed en
may not relieve.” tirely without notice ; and in the evening, when he was going up to the prætor's chair, he was brutally repulsed by the attending lictors. The at. tention of the poor is generally driven from one A LETTER FROM A TRAVELLER. ungrateful object to another. Night coming on, he now found himself under a necessity of seeking
Cracow, August 2, 1758. a place to lie in, and yet knew not where to apply. All emaciated and in rags as he was, none
MY DEAR WILL, of the citizens would harbour so much wretched- You see by the date of my letter that I am arness, and sleeping in the streets might be attend- rived in Poland. When will my wanderings be ed with interruption or danger: in short, he was at an end ? When will my restless disposition obliged to take up his lodging in one of the tombs give me leave to enjoy the present hour ? When without the city, the usual retreat of guilt, poverty, at Lyons, I thought all happiness lay beyond the or despair.
Alps : when in Italy, I found myself still in want In this mansion of horror, laying his head upon of something, and expected to leave solicitude bean inverted urn, he forgot his miseries for a while hind me by going into Romelia; and now you in sleep; and virtue found, on this flinty couch, find me turning back, still expecting ease every more ease than down can supply to the guilty. where but where I am. It is now seven years
It was midnight when two robbers came to make since I saw the face of a single creature who carthis cave their retreat, but happening to disagree ed a farthing whether I was dead or alive. Seabout the division of their plunder, one of them cluded from all the comforts of confidence, friendstabbed the other to the heart, and left him welter- ship, or society, I feel the solitude of a hermit, but ing in blood at the entrance. In these circum- not his ease. stances he was found next morning, and this natu- The prince of *** has taken me in his train, so rally induced a further inquiry. The alarm was that I am in no danger of starving for this bout. spread, the cave was examined, Alcander was The prince's governor is a rude ignorant pedant, found sleeping, and immediately apprehended and and his tutor a battered rake ; thus, between two accused of robbery and murder. The circum- such characters, you may imagine he is finely instances against him were strong, and the wretched- structed. I made some attempts to display all the ness of his appearance confirmed suspicion. Mis- little knowledge I had acquired by reading or obfortune and he were now so long acquainted, that servation ; but I find myself regarded as an igno-, he at last became regardless of life. He detested a rant intruder. The truth is, I shall never be able world where he had found only ingratitude, false- to acquire a power of expressing myself with ease hood, and cruelty, and was determined to make no in any language but my own; and, out of my own defence. Thus, lowering with resolution, he was country, the highest character I can ever acquire, dragged, bound with cords, before the tribunal of is that of being a philosophic vagabond. Septimius. The proofs were positive against him, When I consider myself in the country which and he offered nothing in his own vindication; the was once so formidable in war, and spread terror judge, therefore, was proceeding to doom him to a and desolation over the whole Roman empire, I most cruel and ignominious death, when, as if illu- can hardly account for the present wretchedness mined by a ray from Heaven, he discovered, and pusillanimity of its inhabitants : a prey to through all his misery, the features, though dim every invader ; their cities plundered without an with sorrow, of his long-lost, loved Alcander. It is enemy; their magistrates seeking redress by comimpossible to describe his joy and his pain on this plaints, and not by vigour. Every thing conspires strange occasion; happy in once more seeing the to raise my compassion for their miseries, were person he most loved on earth, distressed at find- not my thoughts too busily engaged by my own.
The whole kingdom is in a strange disorder : when our equipage, which consists of the prince and thirteen attendants, had arrived at some towns, there were no conveniences to be found, and we were obliged to have girls to conduct us to the next. I have seen a woman travel thus on horseback before us for thirty miles, and think herself highly paid, and make twenty reverences, upon receiving, with ecstacy, about twopence for her trouble. In general, we were better served by the women than the men on those occasions, The men seemed directed by a low sordid interest alone : they seemed mere machines, and all their thoughts were employed in the care of their horses. If we gently desired them to make more speed, they took not the least notice ; kind language was what they had by no means been used to. It was proper to speak to them in the tones of anger, and semetimes it was even necessary to use blows, to excite them to their duty. How different these from the common people of England, whom a blow might induce to return the affront seven fold! These poor people, however, from being brought up to vile usage, lose all the respect which they should have for themselves. They have contracted a habit of regarding constraint as the great rule of their duty. When they were treated with mildness, they no longer continued to perceive a superiority. They fancied themselves our equals, and a continuance of our humanity might probably have rendered them insolent; but the imperious tone, menaces and blows, at once changed their sensations and their
their ears and shoulders taught their souls to shrink back into servitude, from which they had for some moments fancied themselves disengaged.
The enthusiasm of liberty an Englishman feels is never so strong, as when presented by such prospects as these. I must own, in all my indigence, it is one of my comforts (perhaps, indeed, it is my only boast,) that I am of that happy country; though I scorn to starve there ; though I do not choose to lead a life of wretched dependence, or be an object for my former acquaintance to point at. While you enjoy all the ease and elegance of prudence and virtue, your old friend wanders over the world, without a single anchor to hold by, or a friend except you to confide in.*
The romantic system of Descartes was adapted to the taste of the superficial and the indolent; the foreign universities had embraced it with ardour, and such are seldom convinced of their errors till all others give up such false opinions as untenable. The philosophy of Newton, and the metaphysics of Locke, appeared ; but, like all new truths, they were at once received with opposition and contempt. The English, it is true, studied, understood, and consequently admired them ; it was very different on the continent. Fontenelle, who seemed to preside over the republic of letters, unwilling to acknowledge that all his life had been spent in erroneous philosophy, joined in the universal disapprobation, and the English philosophers seemed entirely unknown.
Maupertuis, however, made them his study ; he thought he might oppose the physics of his country, and yet still be a good citizen ; he defended our countrymen, wrote in their favour, and at last, as he had truth on his side, carried his cause. Almost all the learning of the English, till very lately, was conveyed in the language of France. The writings of Maupertuis spread the reputation of his master, Newton, and, by a happy fortune, have united his fame with that of our human prodigy.
The first of his performances, openly, in vindication of the Newtonian system, is his treatise, entitled, Sur la figure des Astres, if I remember right ; a work at once expressive of a deep geometrical knowledge, and the most happy manner of delivering abstruse science with ease. This met with violent opposition from a people, though fond of novelty in every thing else, yet, however, in matters of science, attached to ancient opinions with bigotry. As the old and obstinate fell away, the youth of France embraced the new opinions, and now seem more eager to defend Newton than even his countrymen.
The oddity of character which great men are sometimes remarkable for, Maupertuis was not entirely free from. If we can believe Voltaire, he once attempted to castrate himself; but whether this be true or no, it is certain he was extremely whimsical. Though born to a large fortune, when employed in mathematical inquiries, be disregarded his person to such a degree, and loved retirement so much, that he has been more than once put on the list of modest beggars by the curates of Paris, when he retired to some private quarter of the town, in order to enjoy his meditations without interruption. The character given of him by one of Voltaire's antagonists, if he can be dcpended upon, is much to his honour. says this writer to Mr. Voltaire, “ were entertaine ed by the King of Prussia as a buffoon, but Maupertuis as a philosopher.” It is certain, that the preference which this royal scholar gave to Maupertuis was the cause of Voltaire's disagreement with him. Voltaire could not bear to see a man whose talents he had no great opinion of preferred
MR. Maupertuis lately deceased, was the first to whom the English philosophers owed their being particularly admired by the rest of Europe.
* The sequel of this correspondence to be continued occasionally. I shall alter nothing either in the style or substance of these letters, and the reader may depend on their being genuine.
before him as president of the royal academy. His Micromégas was designed to ridicule Maupertuis ; and probably it has brought more disgrace on the author than the subject. Whatever absurdities men of letters have indulged, and how fantastical soever the modes of science have been, their anger is still more subject to ridicule.
Saturday, October 13, 1759.
FOREIGNERS observe, that there are no ladies in the world more beautiful, or more ill-dressed, than those of England. Our countrywomen have been compared to those pictures, where the face is the work of a Raphael, but the draperies thrown out by some empty pretender, destitute of taste, and entirely unacquainted with design.
If I were a poet, I might observe, on this occasion, that so much beauty, set off with all the advantages of dress, would be too powerful an antagonist for the opposite sex, and therefore, it was wisely ordered that our ladies should want taste, lest their admirers should entirely want reason.
But to confess a truth, I do not find they have a greater aversion to fine clothes than the women of any other country whatsoever. I cannot fancy that a shop-keeper's wife in Cheapside has a greater tenderness for the fortune of her husband than a citizen's wife in Paris ; or that miss in a boarding school is more an economist in dress than mademoiselle in a nunnery.
Although Paris may be accounted the soil in which almost every fashion takes its rise, its influence is never so general as with us. They study there the happy method of uniting grace and fashion, and never excuse a woman for being awkwardly dressed, by saying her clothes are made in the mode. A French woman is a perfect architect in dress ; she never, with Gothic ignorance, mixes the orders ; she never tricks out a squabby Doric shape with Corinthian finery ; or, to speak without metaphor, she conforms to general fashion only when it happens to be repugnant to private beauty.
Our ladies, on the contrary, seem to have no other standard for grace but the run of the town. If fashion gives the word, every distinction of beauty, complexion, or stature, ceases. Sweeping trains, Prussian bonnets, and trollopees, as like each other as if cut from the same piece, level all to one standard. The Mall, the gardens, and the playhouses, are filled with ladies in uniform, and their whole appearance shows as little variety or taste, as if their clothes were bespoke by the colonel of a marching regiment, or fancied by the same artist who dresses the three battalions of guards.
But not only ladies of every shape and complexion, but of every age too, are possessed of this unaccountable passion of dressing in the
A lady of no quality can be distinguished from a lady of some quality, only by the redness of her hands; and a woman of sixty, masked, might easily pass for her grandaughter. I remember, a few days ago, to have walked behind a damsel, tossed out in all the gaiety of fifteen; her dress was loose, unstudied, and seemed the result of conscious beauty. I called up all my poetry on this occasion, and fancied twenty Cupids prepared for execution in every folding of her white negligee. I had prepared my imagination for an angel's face; but what was my mortification to find that the imaginary goddess was no other than my cousin Hannah, four years older than myself, and I shall be sixty-two the twelfth of next November.
After the transports of our first salute were over, I could not avoid running my eye over her whole appearance. Her gown was of cambric, cut short before, in order to discover a high-heeled shoe, which was buckled almost at the toe. Her cap, if cap it might be called that cap was none, consisted of a few bits of cambric, and flowers of painted paper stuck on one side of her head. Her bosom, that had felt no hand, but the hand of time, these twenty years, rose suing, but in vain, to be pressed. I could, indeed, have wished her more than a handkerchief of Paris net to shade her beauties ; for, as Tasso says of the rose bud, Quanto si mostra men tanto è più bella, I should think her's most pleasing when least discovered.
As my cousin had not put on all this finery for nothing, she was at that time sallying out to the Park, when I had overtaken her. Perceiving, however, that I had on my best wig, she offered, if I would ’squire her there, to send home the footman. Though I trembled for our reception in public, yet I could not with any civility refuse; so, to he as gallant as possible, I took her hand in my arm, and thus we marched on together.
When we made our entry at the Park, two antiquated figures, so polite and so tender as we seemed to be, soon attracted the eyes of the company.
As we made our way among crowds who were out to show their finery as well as we, wherever we came, I perceived we brought goodhumour in our train. The polite could not forbear smiling, and the vulgar burst out into a horse-laugh at our grotesque figures. Cousin Hannah, who was perfectly conscious of the rectitude of her own appearance, attributed all this mirth to the oddity of mine ; while I as cordially placed the whole to her account. Thus, from being two of the best natured creatures alive, before we got half-way up the mall, we both began to grow peevish, and, like two mice on a string, endeavoured to revenge the impertinence of others upon ourselves. “I am amazed, cousin Jeffery,” says miss, “ that I can never get you to dress like
a Christian. I knew we should have the eyes of the Park upon us, with your great wig so frizzed, and yet so beggarly, and your monstrous muff. I hate those odious muffs.” I could have patiently borne a criticism on all the rest of my equipage; but as I had always a peculiar veneration for my muff, I could not forbear being piqued a little; and, throwing my eyes with a spiteful air on her bosom, “ I could heartily wish, madam,” replied I, “ that for your sake my muff was cut into a tippet.”
As my cousin, by this time, was grown heartily ashamed of her gentleman-usher, and as I was never very fond of any kind of exhibition myself, it was mutually agreed to retire for a while to one of the seats, and from that retreat remark on others as freely as they had remarked on us.
When seated, we continued silent for some time, employed in very different speculations. I regarded the whole company, now passing in review before me, as drawn out merely for my amusement. For my entertainment the beauty had all that morning been improving her charms, the beau had put on lace, and the young doctor a big wig, merely to please me. But quite different were the sentiments of cousin Hannah; she regarded every well-dressed woman as a victorious rival, hated every face that seemed dressed in good-humour, or wore the appearance of greater happiness than her own. I perceived her uneasiness, and attempted to lessen it, by observing, that there was no company in the Park to-day. To this she readily assented, “and yet,” says she, “it is full enough of scrubs of one kind or another.” My smiling at this observation gave her spirits to pursue the bent of her inclination, and now she began to exhibit her skill in secret history, as she found me disposed to listen. serve,” says she to me, “that old woman in tawdry silk, and dressed out even beyond the fashion. That is Miss Biddy Evergreen, Miss Biddy, it seems, has money, and as she conceives that money was never so scarce as it is now, she seems re. solved to keep what she has to herself. She is ugly enough you see; yet I assure you she has refused several offers to my own knowledge, within this twelvemonth. Let me see, three gentlemen from Ireland, who study the law, two waiting captains, a doctor, and a Scotch preacher, who had like to have carried her off. All her time is passed between sickness and finery. Thus she spends the whole week in a close chamber, with no other company but her monkey, her apothecary, and cat; and comes dressed out to the Park every Sunday, to show her airs, to get new lovers, to catch a new cold, and to make new work for the doctor. "There
goes Mrs. Roundabout, I mean the fat lady in the lutestring trollopee. Between you and I, she is but a cutler's wife. See how she's dressed, as fine as hands and pins can make her, while her two marriageable daughters, like bun
ters, in stuff gowns, are now taking sixpennyworth of tea at the White-Conduit-House. Odi. ous puss ! how she waddles along, with her train two yards behind her! She puts me in mind of my Lord Bantam's Indian sheep, which are obliged to have their monstrous tails trundled along in a go-cart. For all her airs, it goes to her husband's heart to see four yards of good lutestring wearing against the ground, like one of his knives on a grindstone. To speak my mind, cousin Jeffery, I never liked tails; for suppose a young fellow should be rude, and the lady should offer to step back in a fright, instead of retiring, she treads upon her train, and fall fairly on her back; and then you know, cousin,—her clothes may be spoiled.
“Ah! Miss Mazzard! I knew we should not miss her in the Park; she in the monstrous Prussian bonnet. Miss, though so very fine, was bred a milliner, and might have had some custom if she had minded her business ; but the girl was fond of finery, and instead of dressing her customers, laid out all her goods in adorning herself. Every new gown she put on impaired her credit: she still, however, went on improving her appearance, and lessening her little fortune, and is now, you see, become a belle and a bankrupt.”
My cousin was proceeding in her remarks, which were interrupted by the approach of the very lady she had been so freely describing. Miss had perceived her at a distance, and approached to salute her. I found, by the warmth of the two ladies' protestations, that they had been long intimate esteemed friends and acquaintance. Both were so pleased at this happy rencounter, that they were resolved not to part for the day. So we all crossed the Park together, and I saw them into a hackney-coach at the gate of St. James's. I could not, however, help observing, “That they are generally most ridiculous themselves, who are apt to see most ridicule in others.”
SOME PARTICULARS RELATIVE TO CHARLES XII.
NOT COMMONLY KNOWN.
I CANNOT resist your solicitations, though it is possible I shall be unable to satisfy your curiosity. The polite of every country seem to have but one character. A gentleman of Sweden differs but little, except in trifles, from one of another country. It is among the vulgar we are to find those distinctions which characterise a people, and from them it is that I take my picture of the Swedes.
Though the Swedes, in general, appear to languish under oppression, which often renders others wicked, or of malignant dispositions, it has not, however, the same influence upon them, as they
are faithful, civil, and incapable of atrocious crimes. Would you believe that, in Sweden, highway robberies are not so much as heard of? for my part, I have not in the whole country seen a gibbet or a gallows. They pay an infinite respect to their ecclesiastics, whom they suppose to be the privy counsellors of Providence, who, on their part, turn this credulity to their own advantage, and manage their parishioners as they please. In general, however, they seldom abuse their sovereign authority. Hearkened to as oracles, regarded as the dispensers of eternal rewards and punishments, they readily influence their hearers into justice, and make them practical philosophers without the pains of study.
As to their persons, they are perfectly well made, and the men particularly have a very engaging air. The greatest part of the boys which I saw in the country had very white hair. They were as beautiful as Cupids, and there was something open and entirely happy in their little chubby faces. The girls, on the contrary, have neither such fair, nor such even complexions, and their features are much less delicate, which is a circumstance different from that of almost every other country. Besides this, it is observed, that the women are generally aflicted with the itch, for which Scania is particularly remarkable. I had an instance of this in one of the inns on the road. The hostess was one of the most beautful women I have ever seen ; she had so fine a complexion, that I could not avoid admiring it. But what was my surprise, when she opened her bosom in order to suckle her child, to perceive that seat of delight all covered with this disagreeable distemper. The careless manner in which she exposed to our eyes so disgusting an object, sufficiently testifies that they regard it as no extraordinary malady, and seem to take no pains to conceal it. Such are the remarks, which probably you may think trifling enough, I have made in my journey to Stockholm, which, to take it all together, is a large, beautiful, and even a populous city.
The arsenal appears to me one of its greatest curiosities; it is a handsome, spacious building, but however, scantily supplied with the implements
To recompense this defect, they have almost filled it with trophies, and other marks of their former military glory. I saw there several chambers filled with Danish, Saxon, Polish, and Russian standards. There was at least enough to suffice half a dozen armies ; but new standards are more easily made than new armies can be enlisted.
I saw, besides, some very rich furniture, and some of the crown jewels of great value; but what principally engaged my attention, and touched me with passing melancholy, were the bloody, yet precious spoils of the two greatest heroes the North ever produced. What I mean are the clothes in which the great Gustavus Adolphus, and the intrepid Charles XII., died, by a fate not unusual to
kings. The first, if I remember, is a sort of buff waistcoat, made antique fashion, very plain, and without the least ornaments; the second, which was even more remarkable, consisted only of a coarse blue cloth coat, a large hat of less value, a shirt of coarse linen, large boots, and buff gloves made to cover a great part of the arm. His saddle, his pistols, and his sword, have nothing in them remarkable; the meanest soldier was in this respect no way inferior to his gallant monarch. I shall use this opportunity to give you some particulars of the life of a man already so well known, which I had from persons who knew him when a child, and who now, by a fate not unusual to courtiers, spend a life of poverty and retirement, and talk over in raptures all the actions of their old victorious king, companion, and master.
Courage and inflexible constancy formed the basis of this monarch's character. In his tenderest years he gave instances of both. When he was yet scarcely seven years old, being at dinner with the queen his mother, intending to give a bit of bread to a great dog he was fond of, this hungry animal snapped too greedily at the morsel, and bit his hand in a terrible manner. The wound bled copiously, but our young hero, without offering to cry, or taking the least notice of his misfortune, endeavoured to conceal what had happened, lest his dog should be brought into trouble, and wrapped his bloody hand in the napkin. The queen, perceiving that he did not eat, asked him the reason. He contented himself with replying, that he thanked her, he was not hungry. They thought he was taken ill, and so repeated their solicitations; but all was in vain, though the poor child was already grown pale with the loss of blood. An officer who attended at table at last perceived it; for Charles would sooner have died than betrayed his dog, who he knew intended no injury.
At another time, when in the small-pox, and his case appeared dangerous, he grew one day very uneasy in his bed, and a gentleman who watched him, desirous of covering him up close, received from the patient a violent box on his ear. Some hours after, observing the prince more calm, he entreated to know how he had incurred his displeasure, or what he had done to have merited a blow. A blow, replied Charles, I don't remember any thing of it ; I remember, indeed, that I thought myself in the battle of Arbela, fighting for Darius, where I gave Alexander a blow which brought him to the ground.
What great effects might not these two qualities of courage and constancy have produced, had they at first received a just direction. Charles, with proper instructions, thus naturally disposed, would have been the delight and the glory of his age. Happy those princes who are educated by men who are at once virtuous and wise, and have been for some time in the school of affliction; who weigh happiness against glory, and teach their royal pupils the real value of fame; who are ever