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cap would not meet with half the respect of an em- the moon, at which Fum Hoam himself presided peror with a glittering crown. Politics resemble in person. Adieu. religion ; attempting to divest either of ceremony is the most certain method of bringing either into contempt. The weak must have their inducements to admiration as well as the wise; and it is the bu
LETTER CVI. siness of a sensible government to impress all ranks
From the Same. with a sense of subordination, whether this be effected by a diamond buckle, or a virtuous edict, a
It was formerly the custom here, when men of sumptuary law, or a glass necklace.
distinction died, for their surviving acquaintance to This interval of reflection only gave my com- throw each a slight present into the grave. Several panion spirits to begin his description afresh; and, things of little value were made use of for that puras a greater inducement to raise my curiosity, he pose ; perfumes, relics, spices, bitter herbs, camoinformed me of the vast sums that were given by mile, wormwood, and verses. This custom, howthe spectators for places. “That the ceremony ever, is almost discontinued, and nothing but verses must be fine,” cries he, “is very evident from the alone are now lavished on such occasions; an obfine price that is paid for seeing it. Several ladies lation which they suppose may be interred with have assured me, they would willingly part with the dead, without any injury to the living. one eye rather than be prevented from looking on Upon the death of the great, therefore, the poets with the other. Come, come,” continues he, “I and undertakers are sure of employment. While have a friend, who, for my sake, will supply us one provides the long cloak, black staff, and mournwith places at the most reasonable rates; I'll take ing coach, the other produces the pastoral or elegy, care you shall not be imposed upon; and he will the monody or apotheosis. The nobility need be inform you of the use, finery, rapture, splendour, under no apprehensions, but die as fast as they and enchantment of the whole ceremony, better think proper, the poet and undertaker are ready to than I."
supply them; these can find metaphorical tears and Pollies often repeated lose their absurdity, and family escutcheons at half an hour's warning; and assume the appearance of reason. His arguments when the one has soberly laid the body in the grave, were so often and so strongly enforced, that I had the other is ready to fix it figuratively among the actually some thoughts of becoming a spectator. stars. We accordingly went together to bespeak a place; There are several ways of being poetically surbut guess my surprise, when the man demanded rowful on such occasions. The bard is now some a purse of gold for a single seat! I could hardly pensive youth of science, who sits deploring among believe him serious upon making the demand.- the tombs; again, he is Thyrsis complaining in a " Prithee, friend,” cried I, "after I have paid twen- circle of harmless sheep. Now Britannia sits upon ty pounds for sitting here an hour or two, can I her own shore, and gives a loose to maternal tenbring a part of the coronation back?—"No, sir.”- derness; at another time, Parnassus, even the " How long can I live upon it, after I have come mountain Parnassus, gives way to sorrow, and is away?”—"Not long, sir."-"Can a coronation bathed in tears of distress. clothe, feed, or fatten me?”—“Sir," replied the But the most usual manner is thus: Damon man, " you seem to be under a mistake; all that meets Menalcas, who has got a most gloomy counyou can bring away is the pleasure of having it to tenance. The shepherd asks his friend, whence say, that you saw the coronation.”—“Blast me!" that look of distress? to which the other replies, cries Tibbs, "if that be all, there is no need of pay- that Pollio is no more. "If that be the case then," ing for that, since I am resolved to have that plea- cries Damon, “ let us retire to yonder bower at some sure, whether I am there or no!"
distance off, where the cypress and the jessamine I am conscious, my friend, that this is but a very add fragrance to the breeze; and let us weep alterconfused description of the intended ceremony. nately for Pollio, the friend of shepherds, and the You
may object, that I neither settle rank, pre- patron of every muse.”—"Ah,” returns his fellow cedency,
nor place; that I seem ignorant whether shepherd, “what think you rather of that grotto Gules walks before or behind Garter; that I have by the fountain side! the murmuring stream will neither mentioned the dimensions of a lord's cap, help to assist our complaints, and a nightingale on not measured the length of a lady's tail. I know a neighbouring tree will join her voice to the conyour delight is in minute description ; and this I cert!" When the place is thus settled, they begin: am unhappily disqualified from furnishing; yet, the brook stands still to hear their lamentations ; upon the whole, I fancy it will be no way compa- the cows forget to graze; and the very tigers start rable to the magnificence of our late emperor from the forest with sympathetic concern. By the Whangti's procession, when he was married to tombs of our ancestors ! my dear Fum, I am quite
unaffected in all this distress: the whole is liquid From a knowledge of this disposition, there are selaudanum to my spirits; and a tiger of common veral here, who make it their business to frame new sensibility has twenty times more tenderness than 1. reports at every convenient interval, all tending to
But though I could never weep with the com- denounce ruin both on their contemporaries and plaining shepherd, yet I am sometimes induced to their posterity. This denunciation is eagerly caught pity the poet, whose trade is thus to make demi- up by the public: away they fling to propagate the gods and heroes for a dinner. There is not in na- distress; sell out at one place, buy in at another, ture a more dismal figure than a man who sits grumble at their governors, shout in mobs, and down to premeditated flattery: every stanza he when they have thus for some time behaved like writes tacitly reproaches the meanness of his oc- fools, sit down coolly to argue and talk wisdom, to cupation, till at last his stupidity becomes more puzzle each other with syllogism, and prepare for stupid, and his dulness more diminutive. the next report that prevails, which is always at
I am amazed, therefore, that none have yet found tended with the same success. out the secret of flattering the worthless, and yet Thus are they ever rising above one report, only of preserving a safe conscience. I have often to sink into another. They resemble a dog in a wished for some method, by which a man might do well, pawing to get free. When he has raised his himself and his deceased patron justice, without upper parts above water, and every spectator imabeing under the hateful reproach of self-conviction. gines him disengaged, his lower parts drag him After long lucubration, I have hit upon such an down again, and sink him to the nose; he makes expedient: and send you the specimen of a poem new efforts to emerge, and every effort increasing upon the decease of a great man, in which the flat- his weakness, only tends to sink him the deeper. tery is perfectly fine, and yet the poet perfectly in- There are some here who, I am told, make a nocent.
tolerable subsistence by the credulity of their coun
trymen. As they find the people fond of blood, ON THE DEATH OF THE RIGHT HONOURABLE ****,
wounds, and death, they contrive political ruins Ye muses, pour the pitying tear
suited to every month in the year. This month For Pollio snatch'd away:
the people are to be eaten up by the French in fiatO, had he lived another year,
bottomed boats; the next, by the soldiers designed He had not died to-day.
to beat the French back. Now the people are go
ing to jump down the gulf of luxury; and now noO, were he born to bless mankind
thing but a herring subscription can fish them up In virtuous times of yore,
again. Time passes on; the report proves false; Heroes themselves had fallen behind, new circumstances produce new changes ; but the Whene'er he went before.
people never change, they are persevering in folly.
In other countries, those boding politicians would How sad the groves and plains appear,
be left to fret over their own schemes alone, and And sympathetic sheep:
grow splenetic without hopes of infecting others: Even pitying hills would drop a tear,
but England seems to be the very region where If hills could learn to weep.
spleen delights to dwell; a man not only can give His bounty in exalted strain
an unbounded scope to the disorder in himself, but Each bard may well display
may, if he pleases, propagate it over the whole kingSince none implored relief in vain,
dom, with a certainty of success. He has only to That went relieved away.
cry out that the government, the government is all
wrong; that their schemes are leading to ruin; that And hark! I hear the tuneful throng Britons are no more ;-every good member of the His obsequies forbid :
commonwealth thinks it his duty, in such a case, He still shall live, shall live as long- to deplore the universal decadence with sympaAs ever dead man did.
thetic sorrow, and, by fancying the constitution in a decay, absolutely to impair its vigour.
This people would laugh at my simplicity,
should I advise them to be less sanguine in harLETTER CVII.
bouring gloomy predictions, and examine coolly before they attempted to complain. I have just
heard a story, which, though transacted in a priIt is the most usual method in every report, first vate family, serves very well to describe the behato examine its probability, and then act as the con- viour of the whole nation, in cases of threatened juncture may require. The English, however, calamity. As there are public, so there are private exert a different spirit in such circumstances; they incendiaries here. One of the last, either for the first act, and, when too late, begin to examine. amusement of his friends, or to divert a fit of the
From the Same.
spleen, lately sent a threatening letter to a worthy |tives of commerce or piety; and their accounts are family in my neighbourhood, to this effect:- such as might reasonably be expected from men of
"SIR,-Knowing you to be very rich, and find- very narrow or very prejudiced education, the dicing myself to be very poor, I think proper to inform tates of superstition or the result of ignorance. Is you, that I have learned the secret of poisoning it not surprising, that in such a variety of advenman, woman, and child, without danger of detec- turers, not one single philosopher should be found? tion. Don't be uneasy, sir, you may take your for as to the travels of Gemelli, the learned are choice of being poisoned in a fortnight, or poisoned long agreed that the whole is but an imposture. in a month, or poisoned in six weeks: you shall There is scarcely any country, how rude or unhave full time to settle all your affairs. Though I cultivated soever, where the inhabitants are not am poor, I love to do things like a gentleman. possessed of some peculiar secrets either in nature But, sir, you must die; I have determined it within or art, which might be transplanted with success. my own breast that you must die. Blood, sir, |In Siberian Tartary, for instance, the natives exblood is my trade; so I could wish you would this tract a strong spirit from milk, which is a secret day six weeks take leave of your friends, wife, and probably unknown to the chemists of Europe. In family, for I can not possibly allow you longer time. the most savage parts of India, they are possessed To convince you more certainly of the power of of the secret of dyeing vegetable substances scarlet; my art, by which you may know I speak truth, and of refining lead into a metal, which, for hardtake this letter; when you have read it, tear off the ness and colour, is little inferior to silver : not one seal, fold it up, and give it to your favourite Dutch of which secrets but would, in Europe, make a mastiff that sits by the fire; he will swallow it, sir, man's fortune. The power of the Asiatics in prolike a buttered toast : in three hours four minutes ducing winds, or bringing down rain, the Europeafter he has eaten it, he will attempt to bite off his ans are apt to treat as fabulous, because they have own tongue, and half an hour after burst asunder no instances of the like nature among themselves; in twenty pieces. Blood, blood, blood! So no but they would have treated the secrets of gunmore at present from, sir, your most obedient, powder, and the mariner's compass, in the same most devoted humble servant to command, till manner, had they been told the Chinese used such death."
arts before the invention was common with themYou may easily imagine the consternation into selves at home. which this letter threw the whole good-natured Of all the English philosophers, I most reverence family. The poor man to whom it was addressed Bacon, that great and hardy genius! he it is who was the more surprised, as not knowing how he allows of secrets yet unknown; who, undaunted by could merit such inveterate malice. All the friends the seeming difficulties that oppose, prompts human of the family were convened; it was universally curiosity to examine every part of nature, and even agreed that it was a most terrible affair, and that exhorts man to try, whether he can not subject the the government should be solicited to offer a re- tempest
, the thunder, and even earthquakes, to ward and a pardon : a fellow of this kind would go human control! O, did a man of his daring spirit, on poisoning family after family; and it was im- of his genius, penetration, and learning, travel to possible to say where the destruction would end. those conntries which have been visited only by In pursuance of these determinations, the govern- the superstitious and the mercenary, what might ment was applied to; strict search was made after not mankind expect! How would he enlighten the incendiary, but all in vain. At last, therefore, the regions to which he travelled! and what a they recollected that the experiment was not yet variety of knowledge and useful improvement tried upon the dog; the Dutch mastiff was brought would he not bring back in exchange! up, and placed in the midst of the friends and re- There is, probably, no country so barbarous, lations, the seal was torn off, the packet folded up that would not disclose all it knew, if it received with care, and soon they found, to the great sur- from the traveller equivalent information; and I prise of all that the dog would not eat the letter. am apt to think, that a person who was ready to Adieu.
give more knowledge than he received, would be
welcome wherever he came. All his care in travelling should only be to suit his intellectual banquet
to the people with whom he conversed; he should LETTER CVIII.
not attempt to teach the unlettered Tartar astronoFrom the Same.
my, nor yet instruct the polite Chinese in the ruder
arts of subsistence. He should endeavour to imI gave frequently been amazed at the ignorance prove the barbarian in the secrets of living comof almost all the European travellers who have fortably; and the inhabitant of a more refined penetrated any considerable way eastward into country in the speculative pleasures of science. Asia. They have been influenced either by mo-|How much more nobly would a philosopher thus
employed spend his time, than by sitting at home, | merchants found admission into regions the most earnestly intent upon adding one star more to his suspecting, under the character of Sanjapins, or catalogue, or one monster more to his collection; northern pilgrims. To such, not even China itor still, if possible, more triflingly sedulous in the self denies access. incatenation of fleas, or the sculpture of a cherry- To send out a traveller, properly qualified for stone!
these purposes, might be an object of national con. I never consider this subject without being sur- cern; it would in some measure repair the breaches prised, that none of those societies, so laudably es- made by ambition; and might show that there tablished in England for the promotion of arts and were still some who boasted a greater name than learning, have ever thought of sending one of their that of patriots, who professed themselves lovers members into the most eastern parts of Asia, to of men. The only difficulty would remain, in make what discoveries he was able. To be con- choosing a proper person for so arduous an entervinced of the utility of such an undertaking, let prise. He should be a man of a philosophical them but read the relations of their own travellers. turn; one apt to deduce consequences of general It will be there found, that they are as often de utility from particular occurrences: neither swdceived themselves, as they attempt to deceive len with pride, nor hardened by prejudice; neither others. The merchant tells us, perhaps, the price wedded to one particular system, nor instructed of different commodities, the methods of baling only in one particular science ; neither wholly a them up, and the properest manner for a European botanist, nor quite an antiquarian ; his mind should to preserve his health in the country. The mis- be tinctured with miscellaneous knowledge, and sionary, on the other hand, informs us, with what his manners humanized by an intercourse with pleasure the country to which he was sent em- men. He should be in some measure an enthobraced Christianity, and the numbers he convert- siast in the design ; fond of travelling, from a raed; what methods he took to keep Lent in a region pid imagination and an innate love of change ; where there was no fish, or the shifts he made to furnished with a body capable of sustaining every celebrate the rites of his religion, in places where fatigue, and a heart not easily terrified at danger. there was neither bread nor wine! Such accounts, Adieu. with the usual appendage of marriages and funerals, inscriptions, rivers, and mountains, make up the whole of a European traveller's diary: but as to
LETTER CIX, all the secrets of which the inhabitants are possessed, those are universally attributed to magic; and when the traveller can give no other account One of the principal tasks I had proposed to of the wonders he sees performed, very contentedly myself, on my arrival here, was to become acquaintascribes them to the power of the devil.
ed with the names and characters of those now It was a usual observation of Boyle, the English living, who, as scholars or wits, had acquired the chemist, that if every artist would but discover greatest share of reputation. In order to succeed what new observations occurred to him in the ex- in this design, I fancied the surest method would ercise of his trade, philosophy would thence gain be to begin my inquiry among the ignorant, judg. innumerable improvements. It may be observed, ing that his fame would be greatest, which was with still greater justice, that if the useful know- loud enough to be heard by the vulgar. Thus preledge of every country, howsoever barbarous, was disposed, I began the search, but only went in gleaned by a judicious observer, the advantages quest of disappointment and perplexity. I found would be inestimable. Are there not even in every district had a peculiar famous man of its Europe many useful inventions known or practised own. Here the story-telling shoemaker had enbut in one place? The instrument, as an example, grossed the admiration on one side of the street, for cutting down corn in Germany, is much more while the bellman, who excelleth at a catch, was handy and expeditious, in my opinion, than the in quiet possession of the other. At one end of sickle used in England. The cheap and expedi- a lane the sexton was regarded as the greatest man tious manner of making vinegar, without previous alive; but I had not travelled half its length, till I fermentation, is known only in a part of France. found an enthusiastic teacher had divided his repuIf such discoveries, therefore, remain still to be tation. My landlady, perceiving my design, was known at home, what funds of knowledge might kind enough to offer me her advice in this affair. not be collected in countries yet unexplored, or It was true, she observed, that she was no judge, only passed through by ignorant travellers in hasty but she knew what pleased herself, and, if I would caravans?
rest upon her judgment, I should set down Tom The caution with which foreigners are received Collins as the most ingenious man in the world ; in Asia may be alleged as an objection to such a for Tom was able to take off all mankind, and design. But how readily have several European imitate besides a sow and pigs to perfection.
From the Same.
I now perceived, that taking my standard of re-confessedly famous, and see if any have been lately putation among the vulgar, would swell my cata- deposited there, who deserve the attention of poslogue of great names above the size of a court terity, and whose names may be transmitted to my calendar; I therefore discontinued this method of distant friend, as an honour to the present age.” pursuit, and resolved to prosecute my inquiry in Determined in my pursuit, I paid a second visit to that usual residence of fame, a bookseller's shop. Westminster Abbey. There I found several new In consequence of this, I entreated the bookseller monuments erected to the memory of several great to let me know who were they who now made the men; the names of the great men I absolutely forgreatest figure, either in morals, wit, or learning. get, but I well remember that Roubillac was the Without giving me a direct answer, he pulled a statuary who carved them. I could not help smilpamphlet from the shelf, The Young Attorney's ing at two modern epitaphs in particular, one of Guide: “ There, sir,” cries he, "there is a touch which praised the deceased for being ortus ex anfor you; fifteen hundred of these moved off in a tiquâ stirpe ; the other commended the dead beday: I take the author of this pamphlet, either for cause hanc ædem suis sumptibus reædificarit. title, preface, plan, body, or index, to be the com- The greatest merit of one consisted in his being pletest hand in England." I found it was vain to descended from an illustrious house; the chief prosecute my inquiry, where my informer appear- distinction of the other, that he had propped up an ed so incompetent a judge of merit ; so paying for old house that was falling. “ Alas! alas !" cried the Young Attorney's Guide, which good man- I, “such monuments as these confer honour, not ners obliged me buy, I walked off.
upon the great men, but upon little Roubillac." My pursuit after famous men now brought me Hitherto disappointed in my inquiry after the into a print-shop. “Here," thought I, “the paint-great of the present age, I was resolved to mix in er only reflects the public voice. As every man company, and try what I could learn among critics who deserved it had formerly his statue placed up in coffee-houses; and here it was that I heard my in the Roman forum, so here, probably, the pictures favourite names talked of even with inverted fame. of none but such as merit a place in our affections A gentleman of exalted merit as a writer was are beld up for public sale.” But guess my sur-branded in general terms as a bad man; another, prise, when I came to examine this repository of of exquisite delicacy as a poet, was reproached for noted faces; all distinctions were levelled here, as wanting good-nature; a third was accused of freein the grave, and I could not but regard it as the thinking; and a fourth of having once been a catacomb of real merit! The brick-dust man took player. “Strange," cried I, "how unjust are up as much room as the truncheoned hero, and the mankind in the distribution of fame! the ignorant, judge was elbowed by the thief-taker; quacks, among whom I sought at first, were willing to pimps, and buffoons increased the group, and noted grant, but incapable of distinguishing the virtues stallions only made rom for more noted whores. of those who deserved it ; among those I now conI had read the works of some of the moderns, pre- verse with, they know the proper objects of admivious to my coming to England, with delight and ration, but mix envy with applause." approbation, but I found their faces had no place Disappointed so often, I was now resolved to exhere; the walls were covered with the names of amine those characters in person, of whom the authors I had never known, or had endeavoured to world talked so freely. By conversing with men forget ; with the little self-advertising things of a of real merit, I began to find out those characters day, who had forced themselves into fashion, but which really deserved, though they strove to avoid, not into fame. I could read at the bottom of some applause. I found the vulgar admiration entirely pictures the names of **, and ***, and ****, all misplaced, and malevolence without its sting. The equally candidates for the vulgar shout, and fore- truly great, possessed of numerous small faults and most to propagate their unblushing faces upon shining virtues, preserve a sublime in morals as in brass. My uneasiness, therefore, at not finding my writing. They who have attained an excellence few favourite names among the number, was now in either, commit numberless transgressions, obchanged into congratulation. I could not avoid re- servable to the meanest understanding. The igflecting on the fine observation of Tacitus on a norant critic and dull remarker can readily spy similar occasion. "In this cavalcade of flattery," blemishes in eloquence or morals, whose senticries the historian, “neither the pictures of Brutus, ments are not sufficiently elevated to observe a Cassius, nor Cato, were to be seen ; eo clariores beauty. But such are judges neither of books qui imagines eorum non deferebantur, their ab- nor of life; they can diminish no solid reputation sence being the strongest proof of their merit." by their censure, nor bestow a lasting character by
“ It is in vain," cried I, “to seek for true great- their applause. In short, I found, by my search, ness among these monuments of the unburied that such only can confer real fame upon others dead ; let me go among the tombs of those who are who have merit themselves to deserve it. Adieu.