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aftronomy, who have made it the ftudy of their lives, with men who know half the knowable characters of words who wear scientifical caps and flippers, and who have gone through every literary degree with applause?" They accepted the challenge confident of fuccefs. The eclipse began; the Chinese produced a most splendid apparatus, and were fifteen minutes wrong; the miffioner, with a fingle inftrument, was exact to a fecond. This was convincing, but the court aftronomers were not to be convinced; instead of acknowledging their error, they affured the emperor, that their calculations were certainly exact, but that the ftranger, without nails, had actually bewitched the moon. "Well then," cries the good emperor, fmiling at their ignorance, you fhall ftill continue to be fervants of the moon, but I constitute this man her controller."
China is thus replete with men, whofe only pretenfions to knowledge arife from external circumftances; and, in Europe, every country abounds with them in proportion to its ignorance. Spain and Flanders, who are behind the rest of Europe in learning, at least three centuries, have twenty literary titles and marks of diftinction unknown in France or England; they have their Clariffimi and Preclariffimi, their Accuratiffimi and Minutiffimi; a round cap entitles one ftudent to argue, and a fquare cap permits another to teach; while a cap with a taffel almoft fanctifies the head it happens to cover. But where true knowledge is cultivated, these formalities begin to difappear; the ermined cowl, the folemn beard, and fweeping train are laid afide; philofophers dress, and talk, and think like other men; and lamb-skin dreffers, VOL. II. M
and cap-makers and tail-carriers, now deplore a literary
For my own part, my friend, I have seen enough of prefuming ignorance, never to venerate wisdom but where it actually appears. I have received literary titles and diftinctions myself; and, by the quantity of my own wifdom, know how very little wifdom they can confer. Adieu.
FROM THE SAME.
THE time for the young king's coronation approaches;
the great and the little world look forward with impatience. A knight from the country, who has brought up his family to fee and be seen on this occafion, has taken all the lower part of the house where I lodge. His wife is laying in a large quantity of filks, which the mercer tells her are to be fashionable next feafon; and mifs, her daughter, has actually had her ears bored previous to the ceremony. In all this buftle of preparation I am confidered as mere lumber, and have been shoved up two ftories higher, to make room for others my landlady feems perfectly convinced are my betters; but whom, before me fhe is contented with only calling very good company.
The little beau, who has now forced himself into my intimacy, was yesterday giving me a moft minute detail of the intended proceffion. All men are eloquent upon their favorite topics; and this feemed peculiarly
adapted to the size and turn of his understanding. His
Some men have a manner of defcribing which only wraps the subject in more than former obscurity; thus I was unable, with all my companion's volubility, to form a diftinct idea of the intended proceffion. I was certain, that the inauguration of a king fhould be conducted with folemnity and religious awe; and I could not
be perfuaded that there was much folemnity in this defcription. If this be true, cried I to myself, the people of Europe furely have a strange manner of mixing folemn and fantastic images together; pictures at once replete with burlefque and the fublime. At a time when the king enters into the most folemn compact with his people, nothing furely fhould be admitted to diminish from the real majefty of the ceremony. A ludicrous image brought in at fuch a time throws an air of ridicule upon the whole. It fome way resembles a picture I have feen, defigned by Albert Durer, where, amidst all the folemnity of that aweful fcene, a deity judging, and a trembling world awaiting the decree, he has introduced a merry mortal trundling his fcolding wife to hell in a wheel-barrow.
My companion, who miftook my filence during this interval of reflection, for the rapture of aftonishment, proceeded to describe those frivolous parts of the fhew that mostly ftruck his imagination; and to assure me, that if I ftayed in this country fome months longer, I fhould fee fine things. "For my own part, continued he, I know already of fifteen fuits of clothes that would fland on one end with gold lace, all defigned to be first fhewn there; and as for diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and pearls, we shall fee them as thick as brafs nails in a fedan chair. And then we are all to walk fo majestically thus; this foot always behind the foot before. The ladies are to fling nofegays; the court poets to scatter verfes; the fpectators are to be all in full drefs; Mrs. Tibbs, in a new facque, ruffles, and frenched hair: look where you will, one thing finer than another; Mrs. Tibbs courtefies to the dutchefs; her grace returns the compli
ment with a bow. Largefs, cries the herald. Make room, cries the gentleman ufher. Knock him down, cries the guard. Ah! continued he, amazed at his own description, what an astonishing scene of grandeur can art produce from the smallest circumstance, when it thus actually turns to wonder, one man putting on another man's hat."
I now found his mind was entirely fet upon the fopperies of this pageant, and quite regardless of the real meaning of fuch coftly preparations. "Pageants," fays Bacon, "are pretty things; but we should rather study to make them elegant than expenfive." Proceffions, cavalcades, and all that fund of gay frippery, furnished out by taylors, barbers, and tire-women, mechanically influence the mind into veneration: an emperor in his night-cap would not meet with half the respect of an emperor with a crown. Politics resemble religion; attempting to diveft 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 wife; and it is the bufinefs of a fenfible government, to imprefs all ranks with a fence of fubordination, whether this be affected by a diamond buckle, or a virtuous edict, a fumptuary law, or a glafs necklace.
This interval of reflection only gave my companion fpirits to begin his description afresh; and as a greater inducement to raise my curiosity, he informed me of the vaft fums that were given by the spectators for places. "That the ceremony must be fine, (cries he,) is very evident from the fine price that is paid for seeing it. Several ladies have affured me, they could willingly part with one eye, rather than be prevented from looking on with the other. Come, come, continues he, I have a