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in his face gave me as much pleasure as a pairLETTER XXXIX.
royal of naturals in my own hand. He waited on
mamma and me the next morning to know how èrom Lien Chi Altangi to "*, Merchant in Amsterdam.
we got home: you must know the insidious devil CEREMONIES are different in every country; but makes love to us both. Rap went the footman at true politeness is every where the same. Ceremo- the door; bounce went my heart: I thought he nies, which take up so much of our attention, are would have rattled the house down. Chariot drove only artificial helps which ignorance assumes, in up to the window, with his footmen in the prettiest order to imitate politeness, which is the result of liveries; he has infinite taste, that is flat. Mamma good sense and good nature. A person possessed had spent all the morning at her head; but for my of those qualities, though he had never seen a court, part I was in an undress to receive him; quite easy, is truly agreeable; and if without them would con- mind that; no way disturbed at his approach: tinue a clown, though he had been all his life a mamma pretended to be as dégagée as l; and yet gentleman usher.
I saw her blush in spite of her. Positively he is a How would a Chinese, bred up in the formalities most killing devil! We did nothing but laugh all of an Eastern Court, be regarded, should he carry the time he staid with us; I never heard so many all his goud manners beyond the Great Wall ? very good things before : at first he mistook mamma How would an Englishman, skilled in all the de- for my sister; at which she laughed: then he miscorurns of Western good-breeding, appear at an took my natural complexion for paint; at which I Eastern entertainment-would he not be reckoned laughed: and then he showed us a picture in the more fantastically savage than even his unbred lid of his snuff-box, at which we all laughed. He footman?
plays piquet so very ill, and is so very fond of cards, Ceremony resembles that base coin which circu- and loses with such a grace, that positively he has lates through a country by the royal mandate; it won me: I have got a cool hundred; but have lost serves every purpose of real money at home, but is my heart. I need not tell you that he is only a entirely useless if carried abroad : a person who colonel of the train-bands. I am, dear Charlotte, should attempt to circulate his native trash in ano- yours for ever,
BELINDA. ther country, would be thought either ridiculous or culpable. He is truly well-bred, who knows when The Chinese lady addresses her confidant, a poor to value and when to despise those national pecu- relation of the family, upon the same occasion; in liarities, which are regarded by some with so much which she seems to understand decorums even betobservance: a traveller of taste at once perceives ter than the Western beauty. You, who have rethat the wise are polite all the world over, but that sided so long in China, will readily acknowledge fools are polite only at home.
the picture to be taken from nature; and, by being I have now before me two very fashionable let- acquainted with the Chinese customs, will better ters upon the same subject, both written by ladies apprehend the lady's meaning. of distinction; one of whom leads the fashion in England, and the other sets the ceremonies of
FROM YAQUA TO YAYA. China: they are both regarded in their respective Papa insists upon one, two, three, four hundred countries, by all the beau monde, as standards of taels from the colonel my lover, before he parts taste, and models of true politeness, and both give with a lock of my hair. Ho, how I wish the dear us a true idea of what they imagine elegant in their ture may be able to produce the money, and admirers: which of them understands true polite- pay papa my fortune. The colonel is reckoned ness, or whether either, you shall be at liberty to the politest man in all Shensi. The first visit he determine. The English lady writes thus to her paid at our house, mercy, what stooping, and cringfemale confidant:
ing, and stopping, and fidgeting, and going back,
and creeping forward, there was between him and As I live, my dear Charlotte, I believe the colo-papa; one would have thought he had got the sevennel will carry it at last; he is a most irresistible fel- teen books of ceremonies all by heart. When he low, that is flat. So well dressed, so neat, so was come into the hall he flourished his hands three sprightly, and plays about one so agreeably, that I times in a very graceful manner. Papa, who would vow, he has as much spirits as the Marquis of not be outdone flourished his four times; upon this Monkeyman's Italian greyhound. I first saw him the colonel began again, and both thus continued at Ranelagh; he shines there: he is nothing with- Pourishing for some minutes in the politest manner out Ranelagh, and Ranelagh nothing without him. imaginable. I was posted in the usual place beThe next day he sent a card and compliments, de- hind the screen, where I saw the whole ceremony siring to wait on mamma and me to the music sub-through a slit. Of this the colonel was sensible, scription. He looked all the time with such irre- for papa informed him. I would have given the sistible impudence, that positively he had something world to have shown him my little shoes, but had
no opportunity. It was the first time I had ever whom we bought that and our ribands cheated us the happiness of seeing any man but. papa, and 1 as if she had no conscience, and so to quiet mine I vow, my dear Yaya, I thought my three souls cheated her. All this is fair, you know. I remain, would actually have fled from my lips. Ho, but my dear Yaya, your ever faithful he looked most charmingly; he is reckoned the
YAUA. best shaped man in the whole province, for he is very fat, and very short; but even those natural advantages are improved by his dress, which is
LETTER XL. fashionable past description. His head was close
From the Same. shaven, all but the crown, and the hair of that was braided into a most beautiful tail, that reached You have always testified the highest esteem down to his heels, and was terminated by a bunch for the English poets, and thought, them not infeof yellow roses. Upon his first entering the room, rior to the Greeks, Romans, or even the Chinese, I could easily perceive he had been highly perfum- in the art. But it is now thought even by the ed with assafatida. But then his looks, his looks, English themselves, that the race of their poets is my dear Yaya, were irresistible. He kept his extinct ; every day produces some pathetic exclaeyes steadfastly fixed on the wall during the whole mation upon the decadence of taste and genius. ceremony, and I sincerely believe no accident could Pegasus, say they, has slipped the bridle from have discomposed his gravity, or drawn his eyes his mouth, and our modern bards attempt to direct away. After a polite silence of two hours, he his flight by catching him by the tail. gallantly begged to have the singing women in- Yet, my friend, it is only among the ignorant troduced, purely for my amusement. After one that such discourses prevail; men of true discernof them had for some time entertained us with her ment can see several poets still among the English voice, the colonel and she retired for some minutes to some of whom equal if not surpass their predecesgether. I thought they would never have come back: sors. The ignorant term that alone poetry which I must own he is a most agreeable creature. Upon is couched in a certain number of syllables in every his return, they again renewed the concert, and line, where a vapid thought is drawn out into a he continued to gaze upon the wall as usual, when number of verses of equal length, and perhaps in less than half an hour more, ho! but he retired pointed with rhymes at the end. But glowing out of the room with another. He is indeed a sentiment, striking imagery, concise expression, most agreeable creature.
natural description, and modulated periods, are full When he came to take his leave, the whole sufficient entirely to fill up my idea of this art, and ceremony began afresh; papa would see him to make
every passion. the door, but the colonel swore he would rather see If my idea of poetry therefore be just, the Engthe earth turned upside down than permit him to lish åre not at present so destitute of poetical merit stir a single step, and papa was at last obliged to as they seem to imagine. I can see several ports comply. As soon as he was got to the door, papa in disguise among them; men furnished with that went out to see him on horseback; here they con- strength of soul, sublimity of sentiment, and grantinued half an hour bowing and cringing, before deur of expression, which constitute the character. one would mount or the other go in, but the colo- Many of the writers of their modern odes, sonnets, nel was at last victorious. He had scarce gone a tragedies, or rebuses, it is true, deserve not the hundred paces from the house, when papa, run- name, though they have done nothing but clink ning out, halloo'd after him, A good journey ; up-rhymes and measure syllables for years together : on which the colonel returned, and would see their Johnsons and Smollets are truly poets; though papa into his house before ever he would depart. for aught I know they never made a single verse He was no sooner got home than he sent me a in their whole lives. very fine present of duck eggs painted of twenty In every incipient language, the poet and the different colours. His generosity I own has won prose writer are very distinct in their qualificame. I have ever since been trying over the eight tions; the poet ever proceeds first ; treading un. letters of good fortune, and have great hopes. All beaten paths, enriching his native funds, and emI have to apprehend is, that after he has married ployed in new adventures. The other follows with me, and that I am carried to his house close shut more cautious steps, and though slow in his moup in my chair, when he comes to have the first tions, treasures up every useful or pleasing discosight of my face, he may shut me up a second time very. But when once all the extent and the force and send me back to papa. However, I shall ap- of the language is known, the poet then seems to pear as fine as possible: mamma and I have been to rest from his labour, and is at length overtaken by buy the clothes for my wedding. I am to have a his assiduous pursuer. Both characters are then new fong whang in my hair, the beak of which blended into one ; the historian and orator catch will reach down to my nose; the milliner from all the poet's fire, and leave him no real mark of
distinction, except the iteration of numbers regu- soleum of the kings and heroes of this nation: I larly returning. Thus, in the decline of ancient have since been introduced to a temple not so anEuropean learning, Seneca, though he wrote in cient, but far superiour in beauty and magnificence. prose, is as much a poet as Lucan, and Longinus, In this, which is the most considerable of the emthough but a critic, more sublime than Apollonius. pire, there are so pompous inscriptions, no flattery
From this then it appears, that poetry is not paid the dead, but all is elegant and awfully simple. discontinued, but altered among the English at pre. There are, however, a few rags hung round the sent; the outward form seems different from what walls, which have, at a vast expense, been taken it was, but poetry still continues internally the from the enemy in the present war. The silk of the same: the only question remains, whether the which they are composed, when new, might be metrie feet used by the good writers of the last age valued at half a string of copper money in China ; or the prosaic numbers employed by the good yet this wise people fitted out a fleet and an army writers of this, be preferable ? And here the prac- in order to seize them, though now grown old, and tice of the last age appears to me superior: they scarcely capable of being patched up into a handsubmitted to the restraint of numbers and similar kerchief. By this conquest, the English are said sounds : and this restraint, instead of diminishing, to have gained, and the French to have lost, much augmented the force of their sentiment and style. honour. Is the honour of European nations placed Fancy restrained may be compared to a fountain, only in tattered silk ? which plays highest by diminishing the aperture. In this temple I was permitted to remain during Of the truth of this maxim in every language, the whole service; and were you not already acevery fine writer is perfectly sensible from his own quainted with the religion of the English, you €Iperience, and yet to explain the reason would might, from my description, be inclined to believe be perhaps as difficult as to make a frigid genius them as grossly idolatrous as the disciples of Lao. profit by the discovery.
The idol which they seem to address, strides like a There is still another reason in favour of the colossus over the door of the inner temple, which practice of the last age, to be drawn from the va-here, as with the Jews, is esteemed the most sacred riety of modulation. The musical period in prose part of the building. Its oracles are delivered in a is confined to a very few changes: the numbers in hundred various tones, which seem to inspire the verse are capable of infinite variation. I speak not worshippers with enthusiasm and awe: an old now from the practice of modern verse-writers, few woman, who appeared to be the priestess, was emof whom have any idea of musical variety, but run|ployed in various attitudes as she felt the inspiraon in the same monotonous flow through the whole tion. When it began to speak, all the people repoem; but rather from the example of their former mained fixed in silent attention, nodding assent, poets, who were tolerable masters of this variety, looking approbation, appearing highly edified by and also from a capacity in the language of still those sounds which to a stranger might seem inaradmitting various unanticipated music.
ticulate and un
unmeaning. Several rules have been drawn up for varying When the idol had done speaking, and the the poetic measure, and critics have elaborately priestess had locked up its lungs with a key, obtalked of accents and syllables ; but good sense and serving almost all the company leaving the temple, a fine car, which rules can never teach, are what I concluded the service was over, and taking my alone can in such a case determine. The raptur- hat, was going to walk away with the crowd, when ous flowings of joy, or the interruptions of in- I was stopped by the man in black, who assured dignation, require accents placed entirely different, me that the ceremony had scarcely yet begun! and a structure consonant to the emotions they What, cried I, do I not see almost the whole would express. Changing passions, and numbers body of the worshippers leaving the church? changing with those passions, make the whole Would you persuade me that such numbers who secret of Western as well as. Eastern poetry. In profess religion and morality, would, in this shamea word, the great faults of the modern professed less manner, quit the temple before the service was English poets are, that they seem to want numbers concluded? You surely mistake: not even the which should vary with the passion, and are more Kalmucks would be guilty of such an indecency, employed in describing to the imagination than though all the object of their worship was but a striking at the heart.
joint-stool. My friend seemed to blush for his countrymen, assuring me that those whom I saw
running away, were only a parcel of musical block. LETTER XLI.
heads, whose passion was merely for sounds, and From the Same.
whose heads were as empty as a fiddle-case: those
who remain behind, says he, are the true religious; Some time since I sent thee, O holy disciple of they make use of music to warm their hearts, and Confucius, an account of the grand abbey or mau- to lift them to a proper pitch of rapture : examine
their behaviour, and you will confess there are some happiness! What yet untasted banquet, what luxamong us who practise true devotion.
ury yet unknown, has rewarded thy painful adI now looked round me as directed, but saw ventures? Name a pleasure which thy native counnothing of that fervent devotion which he had try could not amply procure; frame a wish that promised: one of the worshippers appeared to be might not have been satisfied in China! Why then ogling the company through a glass; another was such toil, and such danger, in pursuit of raptures fervent, not in addresses to Heaven, but to his mis- within your reach at home? tress; a third whispered, a fourth took snuff, and The Europeans, you will say, excel us in scithe priest himself, in a drowsy tone, read over the ences and in arts; those sciences which bound the duties of the day.
aspiring wish, and those arts which tend to gratify Bless my eyes, cried I, as I happened to look to even unrestrained desire. They may perhaps outwards the door, what do I see! one of the worship- do us in the arts of building ships, casting cannons, pers fallen fast asleep, and actually sunk down on or measuring mountains; but are they superior in his cushion! Is he now enjoying the benefit of a the greatest of all arts, the art of governing kingtrance, or does he receive the influence of somedoms and ourselves? mysterious vision? Alas! Alas! replied my com- When I compare the history of China with that panion, no such thing; he has only had the mis- of Europe, how do I exult in being a native of that fortune of eating too hearty a dinner, and finds kingdom which derives its original from the sun. it impossible to keep his eyes open. Turning to Upon opening the Chinese history, I there behold another part of the temple, I perceived a young an ancient extended empire, established by laws lady just in the same circumstances and attitude: which nature and reason seem to have dictated. Strange! cried I, can she too have over-eaten her- The duty of children to their parents, a duty which self? O fie! replied my friend, you now grow nature implants in every breast, forms the strength censorious. She growo drowsy from eating too of that government, which has subsisted for time much! that would be a profanation! She only immemorial. Filial obedience is the first and greatsleeps now from haring sat up all night at a brag est requisite of a state; by this we become good party. Turn me where I will then, says I, I can subjects to our emperors, capable of behaving with perceive no single symptom of devotion among the just subordination to our superiors, and grateful worshippers, except from that old woman in the dependants on Heaven: by this we become fonder corner, who sits groaning behind the long sticks of marriage, in order to be capable of exacting of a mourning fan; she indeed seems greatly edi-obedience from others in our turn: by this we befied with what she hears. Ay, replied my friend, come good magistrates; for early submission is the I knew we should find some to catch you ; I know truest lesson to those who would learn to rule. By her; that is the deaf lady who lires in the clois- this the whole state may be said to resemble one ters.
family, of which the emperor is the protector, In short, the remissness of behaviour in almost all father, and friend. the worshippers, and some even of the guardians, In this happy region, sequestered from the rest struck me with surprise. I had been taught to be- of mankind, I see a succession of princes who in lieve that none were ever promoted to offices in the general considered themselves as the fathers of their temple, but men remarkable for their superior people; a race of philosophers who bravely comsanctity, learning, and rectitude; that there was bated idolatry, prejudice, and tyranny, at the exno such thing heard of, as persons being introduced pense of their private happiness and immediate into the church merely to oblige a senator, or pro- reputation. Whenever a usurper or a tyrant in. vide for the younger branch of a noble family: I truded into the administration, how have all the expected, as their minds were continually set upon good and great been united against him! Can Euheavenly things, to see their eyes directed there ropean history produce an instance like that of the also; and hoped, from their behaviour, to perceive twelve mandarines, who all resolved to apprize the their inclinations corresponding with their duty. vicious emperor Tisiang of the irregularity of his But I am since informed, that some are appointed conduct? He who first undertook the dangerous to preside oyer temples they never visit; and, task was cut in two by the emperor's order; the while they receive all the money, are contented second was ordered to be tormented, and then put with letting others do all the good. Adieu. to a cruel death: the third undertook the task with
intrepidity, and was instantly stabbed by the ty
rant's hand: in this manner they all suffered exLETTER XLII.
cept one. But not to be turned from his purpose, From Fum Hoam, to Lien Chi Altangi, the discontented the brave survivor, entering the palace with the Wanderer, by the way of Moscow.
instruments of torture in his hand, Here, cried he, Must I ever continue to condemn thy persever-| addressing himself to the throne, here, 0 Tisiang, ance, and blame that curiosity which destroys thylare the marks your faithful subjects receire for
their loyalty ; I am wearied with serring a tyrant, (prey to those whom they had conquered. We see and nou come for my reward. The emperor, those barbarians, when become Christians, engaged struck with his intrepidity, instantly forgave the in a continual war with the followers of Mahomet; boldness of his conduct, and reformed his own. or, more dreadful still, destroying each other. We What European annals can thus boast of a tyrant see councils in the earlier ages authorizing every thus reclaimed to lenity?
iniquity; crusades spreading desolation in the When five brethren had set upon the great em- country left, as well as that to be conquered; experor Ginsong alone, with his sabre he slew four communications freeing subjects from natural alleof them; he was stuggling with the fifth, when his giance, and persuading to sedition; blood flowing guards coming up were going to cut the conspi- in the fields and on scaffolds; tortures used as arator into a thousand pieces. No, no, cried the guments to convince the recusant; to heighten the emperor with a calm and placid countenance, of all horror of the piece, behold it shaded with wars, rehis brothers he is the only one remaining, at least bellions, treasons, plots, politics, and poison. let one of the family be suffered to lire; that his And what advantage has any country of Europe aged parents may hare somebody left to feed and obtained from such calamities? Scarcely any. Their comfort them!
dissensions for more than a thousand years have When Haitong, the last emperor of the house served to make each other unhappy, but have enrichof Ming, saw himself besieged in his own city by ed none. All the great nations still nearly preserve the usurper, he was resolved to issue from his pa-their ancient limits; none have been able to subdue lace with six hundred of his guards, and give the the other, and so terminate the dispute. France, enemy battle; but they forsook him. Being thus in spite of the conquests of Edward the Third and without hopes, and choosing death rather than to Henry the Fifth, notwithstanding the efforts of fall alive into the hands of a rebel, he retired to his Charles the Fifth and Philip the Second, still regarden, conducting his little daughter, an only mains within its ancient limits. Spain, Germany, child, in his hand; there, in a private arbour, un- Great Britain, Poland, the States of the North, sheathing his sword, he stabbed the young inno- are nearly still the same. What effect then has cent to the heart, and then dispatched himself, leav- the blood of so many thousands, the destruction of ing the following words written with his blood on so many cities, produced? Nothing either great or the border of his vest: Forsaken by my subjects, considerable. The Christian princes have lost inabandoned by my friends, use my body as you deed much from the enemies of Christendom, but will, but spare, O spare my people !
they have gained nothing from each other. Their An empire which has thus continued invariably princes, because they preferred ambition to justice, the same for such a long succession of ages; which, deserve the character of enemies to mankind; and though at last conquered by the Tartars, still pre- their priests, by neglecting morality for opinion, serves its ancient laws and learning, and may more have mistaken the interests of society. properly be said to annex the dominions of Tartary On whatever side we regard the history of Euto its empire, than to admit a foreign conquerer; an rope, we shall perceive it to be a tissue of crimes, empire as large as Europe, governed by one law, ac- follies, and misfortunes, of politics without design, knowledging subjection to one prince, and experi- and wars without consequence: in this long list of encing but one revolution of any continuance in the human infirmity, a great character, or a shining space of four thousand years; this is something so virtue, may sometimes happen to arise, as we often peculiarly great, that I am naturally led to despise all meet a cottage or a cultivated spot in the most other nations on the comparison. Here we see no hideous wilderness. But for an Alfred, an Alphonreligious persecutions, no enmity between nian- so, a Frederick, or an Alexander III., we meet a kind, for difference in opinion. The disciples of thousand princes who have disgraced humanity. Lao Kium, the idolatrous sectaries of Fohi, and the philosophical children of Confucius, only strive to show by their actions the truth of their doctrines. Now turn from this happy, peaceful scene, to
LETTER XLIII. Europe, the theatre of intrigue, avarice, and ambi
From Lien Chi Altangi, to Fum Foam, First President of the tion. How many revolutions does it not experience
Ceremonial Academy at Pekin, in China. in the compass even of one age! and to what do these revolutions tend but the destruction of thou- We have just received accounts here, that Volsands? Every great event is replete with some new taire, the poet and philosopher of Europe, is dead ! calamity. The seasons of serenity are passed over He is now beyond the reach of the thousand enein silence, their histories seem to speak only of the mies, who, while living, degraded his writings, and
branded his character. Scarcely a page of his latThere we see the Romans extending their pow- ter productions, that does not betray the agonies of er over barbarous nations, and in turn becoming ala heart bleeding under the scourge of unmerited