Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

and perused the subject through all the labyrinths of antiquity; though the early dews and the tainted gale be paffed away, though no foot-steps remain to direct the doubtful chafe, yet ftill they run forward, open upon the uncertain scent, and though in fact they follow nothing, are earnest in the pursuit. In this chase, however, they all take different ways. One, for example, confidently affures us, that China was peopled by a colony from Egypt. Sefoftris, he obferves, led his army as far as the Ganges; therefore, if he went so far, he might still have gone as far as China, which is but about a thousand miles from thence; therefore he did go to China; therefore China was not peopled before he went there; therefore it was peopled by him. Besides, the Egyptians have pyramids; the Chinese have in like manner their porcelian tower; the Egyptians used to light up candles upon every rejoicing, the Chinese have lanthorns upon the fame occafion; the Egyptians had their great river, fo have the Chinese; but what ferves to put the matter past a doubt is, that the ancient kings of China and those of Egypt were called by the fame names. The emperor Ki is certainly the fame with king Atoes; for, if we only change K into A, and I into toes, we shall have the name Atoes; and with equal ease Menes may be proved to be the fame with the emperor Yu; therefore the Chinese are a colony from Egypt.

But another of the learned is entirely different from the laft; and he will have the Chinese to be a colony planted by Noah juft after the deluge. Firft, from the vast fimilitude there is between the name of Fohi, the founder of Chinese monarchy, and that of Noah, the preserver of the human race: Noah, Fohi, very like each other truly; they

have each but four letters, and only two of the four happen to differ. But to ftrengthen the argument, Fohi, as the Chinese chronicle afferts, had no father. Noah, it is true, had a father as the European bible tells us; but then, as this father was probably drowned in the flood, it is just the fame as if he had no father at all; therefore Noah and Fohi are the same. Juft after the flood the earth was covered with mud; if it was covered with mud, it must have been incrufted mud; if it was incrufted it was clothed with verdure; this was a fine unembarraffed road for Noah to fly from his wicked children; he therefore did fly from them, and took a journey of two thousand miles for his own amusement; therefore Noah and Fohi are the fame.

Another fect of literati, for they all pafs among the vulgar for very great scholars, affert that the Chinese came neither from the colony of Sefoftris, nor from Noah, but are defcended from Magog, Mefhec, and Tubal, and therefore neither Sefoftris, nor Noah, nor Fohi are the fame.

It is thus, my friend, that indolence affumes the airs of wisdom, and while it toffes the cup and ball with infantine folly, defires the world to look on, and calls the stupid pastime philosophy and learning. Adieu.

LETTER XC.

FROM THE SAME.

WHEN the men of this country are once turned of

thirty, they regularly retire every year at proper intervals

[merged small][ocr errors]

to lie in of the spleen. The vulgar, unfurnished with the luxurious comforts of the foft cufhion, down bed, and eafy chair, are obliged, when the fit is on them, to nurse it up by drinking, idleness, and ill humour. In fuch difpofitions, unhappy is the foreigner who happens to cross them; his long chin, tarnished coat, or pinched hat, are fure to receive no quarter. If they meet no foreigner, however, to fight with, they are, in such cases, generally content with beating each other.

The rich, as they have more fenfibility, are operated upon with greater violence by this diforder. Different from the poor, instead of becoming more infolent, they grow totally unfit for oppofition. A general here, who would have faced a culverin when well, if the fit be on him, shall hardly find courage to fnuff a candle. An admiral, who could have oppofed a broad fide without shrinking, fhall fit whole days in his chamber, mobbed up in double night-caps, fhuddering at the intrufive breeze, and distinguishable from his wife only by his black beard and heavy eye-brows.

In the country this disorder mostly attacks the fair sex, in town it is most unfavourable to the men. A lady, who has pined whole years amidst cooing doves, and complaining nightingales in rural retirement, shall resume all her vivacity in one night at a city gaming table; her hufband, who roared, hunted, and got drunk at home, shall grow fplenetic in town, in proportion to his wife's good humour. Upon their arrival in London, they change their diforders. In confequence of her parties and excurfions, he puts on the furred cap and scarlet ftomacher, and perfectly resembles an Indian husband, who, when VOL. II. I

his wife is fafely delivered, permits her to tranfact businefs abroad, while he undergoes all the formality of keeping his bed, and receiving all the condolence in her place.

But those who refide conftantly in town owe this diforder moftly to the influence of the weather. It is impoffible to defcribe what a variety of tranfmutations an eaft wind fhall produce; it has been known to change a lady of fashion into a parlour couch; an alderman into a plate of custards, and a dispenser of justice into a rat-trap. Even philofophers themselves are not exempt from its influence; it has often converted a poet into a coral and bells, and a patriot senator into a dumb waiter.

Some days ago I went to visit the man in black, and entered his houfe with that cheerfulness which the cer. tainty of a favourable reception always inspires. Upon opening the door of his apartment, I found him with the moft rueful face imaginable, in a morning gown and flan. nel night-cap, earnestly employed in learning to blow the German flute. Struck with the abfurdity of a man in the decline of life, thus blowing away all his constitution and fpirits, even without the confolation of being musical, I ventured to afk what could induce him to attempt learning fo difficult an inftrument so late in life. To this he made no reply, but groaning, and ftill holding the flute to his lip, continued to gaze at me for fome moments very angrily, and then proceeded to practise his gammut as before. After having produced a variety of the most hidious tones in nature; at last turning to me, he demanded whether I did not think he made a surprising progress in two days? You fee, continues he, I have got the Ambusheer already, and as for fingering, my master tells

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

me, I fhall have that in a few leffons more. I was fo much aftonished with this inftance of inverted ambition, that I knew not what to reply, but foon difcerned the cause of all his abfurdities; my friend, was under a metamorphofis by the power of spleen, and flute blowing was unluckily become his adventitious paffion.

In order therefore to banish his anxiety imperceptibly, by feeming to indulge it, I began to descant on those gloomy topics, by which philofophers often get rid of their own spleen, by communicating it; the wretchednefs of a man in this life, the happiness of fome wrought out of the miseries of others, the neceffity that wretches fhould expire under punishment, that rogues might enjoy ...affluence in tranquillity; I led him on from the inhu-manity of the rich to the ingratitude of the beggar; from the infincerity of refinement to the fierceness of rufticity; and at last had the good fortune to restore him to his usual ferenity of temper, by permitting him to expatiate upon all the modes of human mifery.

"Some nights ago, fays my friend, fitting alone by my fire, I happened to look into an account of the detection of a set of men called the thief-takers. I read over the many hidious cruelties of thofe haters of man-kind, of their pretended friendship to wretches they meant to betray, of their fending men out to rob, and then hanging them. I could not avoid fometimes interrupting the narrative, by crying out, "Yet these are men!" As I went on, I was informed that they had lived by this practice feveral years, and had been enriched by blood," and yet," cried I, "I have been fent into this world, and am defired to call these men my brothers!" I read that the very man who led the condemned

« VorigeDoorgaan »