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throw out the line, what baits were most proper for the various feasons, and the best manner to draw up the finny prey, when they had hooked it. In this manner they spent their time, eafy and innocent, till one day the princefs being indifpofed, defired them to go and catch her a furgeon or a fhark for fupper, which fhe fancied might fit easy on her ftomach. The daughters obeyed, and clapping on a gold fish, the ufual bait, on those occafions, went and fat upon one of the rocks, letting the gilded hook glide down with the stream.
On the oppofite fhore, farther down, at the mouth of the river, lived a diver for pearls, a youth, who, by long habit in his trade, was almoft grown amphibious; so that he could remain whole hours at the bottom of the water, without ever fetching breath. He happened to be at that very instant diving, when the ladies were fishing with the gilded hook. Seeing therefore the bait, which to him had the appearance of real gold, he was refolved to feize the prize, but both hands being already filled with pearl oyfters, found himself obliged to fnap at it with his mouth: the confequence is easily imagined; the hook before unperceived, was inftantly faftened in his jaw; nor could he, with all his efforts, or his floundering, get free.
Sifter, cries the youngest princess, I have certainly caught a monstrous fish; I never perceived any thing ftruggle fo at the end of my line before; come and help me to draw it in." They both now, therefore, affifted in fishing up the diver on fhore; but nothing could equal their surprise upon seeing him. "Blefs my eyes, cries the prude, what have we got here; this is a very odd fish to be fure; I never faw any thing in my life look
fo queer; what eyes, what terrible claws, what a mon
ftrous fnout: I have read of this monster somewhere before, it certainly must be a tanglang that eats women; let us throw it back into the sea where we found it."
The diver in the mean time ftood upon the beach, at the end of the line, with the hook in his mouth, using every art that he thought could beft excite pity, and particularly looking extremely tender, which is ufual in fuch circumftances. The coquet, therefore, in some measure influenced by the innocence of his looks, ventured to contradict her companion." Upon my word, fifter, fays fhe, I fee nothing in the animal fo very terrible as you are pleased to apprehend; I think it may ferve well enough for a change. Always fharks, and sturgeons, and lobsters, and craw-fifh, make me quite fick. I fancy a flice of this nicely grilled, and dreffed up with fhrimpfauce, would be very pretty eating. I fancy mamma. would like a bit with pickles above all things in the world: and if it should not fit easy on her stomach, it will be time enough to discontinue it when found disagreeable, you know." Horrid, cries the prude, would the girl be poifoned. I tell you it is a tanglang; I have read of it in twenty places; it is every where defcribed as the moft pernicious animal that ever infefted the ocean. I am certain it is the most infidious ravenous creature in the world; and is certain deftruction if taken internally." The youngest fifter was now therefore obliged to fubmit: both affifted in drawing the hook with fome violence from the diver's jaw; and he finding himself at liberty, bent his breast against the broad wave, and disappeared in an inftant.
Juft at this juncture, the mother came down to the beach, to know the cause of her daughters delay; they told her every circumftance, defcribing the monfter they had caught. The old lady was one of the most discreet women in the world; fhe was called the black-eyed princefs, from two black eyes she had received in her youth, being a little addicted to boxing in her liquor." Alas! my children, cries fhe, what have you done? The fish you caught was a man-fish; one of the moft tame domeftic animals in the world. We could have let him run and play about the garden, and he would have been twenty times more entertaining than our squirrel or monkey." "If that be all, fays the young coquet, we will fish for him again. If that be all, I will hold three tooth-picks to one pound of fnuff, I catch him whenever I please." Accordingly they threw in their line once more, but, with all their gilding, and paddling, and affiduity, they could never after catch the diver. In this ftate of folitude and disappointment they continued for many years, ftill fishing, but without fuccefs; till, at laft, the genius of the place, in pity to their distress, changed the prude into a shrimp, and the coquet into an oyfter. Adieu.
FROM THE SAME.
I AM amufed, my dear Fum, with the labours of fome
of the learned here. One fhall write you a whole folio on the diffection of a caterpillar. Another fhall fwell his works with a description of the plumage on the wing
of a butterfly; a third shall see a little world on a peach leaf, and publish a book to defcribe what his readers might fee more clearly in two minutes, only by being furnished with eyes and a microscope.
I have frequently compared the understandings of such men to their own glaffes. Their field of vifion are too contracted to take in the whole of any but minute objects; they view all nature bit by bit; now the probofcis, now the antennæ, now the pinnæ of a flea. Now the polypus comes to breakfast upon a worm; now it is kept up to see how long it will live without eating; now it is turned inside outward; and now it fickens and dies. Thus they proceed, laborious in trifles, constant in experiment, without one fingle abstraction, by which alone knowledge may be properly faid to increase, till, at last their ideas, ever employed upon minute things, contract the size of the diminutive object, and a single mite shall fill their whole mind's pacity.
Yet believe me, my friend, ridiculous as these men are to the world, they are set up as objects of esteem for each other. They have particular places appointed for their meetings, in which one fhews his cockle fhell, and is praised by all the society; another produces his powder, makes fome experiments that refult in nothing, and comes off with admiration and applause, a third comes out with the important discovery of fome new process in the skeleton of a mole, and is fet down as the accurate and fenfible; while one, ftill more fortunate than the reft, by pickling, potting, and preserving monsters, rifes into unbounded reputation.
The labours of fuch men, instead of being calculated to amuse the public, are laid out only for diverting each
other. The world becomes very little the better or the wifer; for knowing what is the peculiar food of an infect, that is itself the food of another, which, in its turn, is eaten by a third; but there are men who have studied themselves into an habit of investigating and admiring fuch minutiæ. To thefe fuch fubjects are pleafing, as there are some who contentedly spend whole days in endeavouring to folve enigmas, or difentangle the puzzling fticks of children.
But of all the learned, those who pretend to investigate remote antiquity, have leaft to plead in their own defence, when they carry this paffion to a faulty excess. They are generally found to fupply by conjecture the want of record, and then by perfeverance are wrought up into a confidence of the truth of opinions, which even to themselves at firft appeared founded only in imagination.
The Europeans have heard much of the kingdom of China: its politeness, arts, commerce, laws, and morals, are, however, but very imperfectly known among them. They have, even now, in their Indian warehouses, numberlefs utenfils, plants, minerals, and machines, of the use of which they are entirely ignorant; nor can any among them even make a probable guess for what they might have been defigned. Yet though this people be fo ignorant of the present real state of China, the philosophers I am defcribing have entered into long, learned, laborious difputes, about what China was two thousand years ago. China and European happiness are but little connected even at this day; but European happiness and China two thousand years ago had certainly no connexion at all. However, the learned have written on