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But inftead of pursuing the thought, permit me to foften the severity of advice, by an European story, which will fully illuftrate my meaning.
"A fidler and his wife, who had rubbed through life, as moft couples ufually do, fometimes good friends, at others not quite fo well, one day happened to have a difpute, which was conducted with becoming spirit on both fides. The wife was fure she was right, and the husband was refolved to have his own way. What was to be done in fuch a cafe? The quarrel grew worse by explanations, and at last the fury of both rofe to fuch a pitch that they made a vow never to fleep together in the fame bed for the future. This was the most rafh vow that could be imagined; for they ftill were friends at bottom, and befides they had but one bed in the house; however, refolved they were to go through with it, and at night the fiddle-cafe was laid in bed between them, in order to make a feparation. In this manner they continued for three weeks; every night the fiddle-cafe being placed as a barrier to divide them.
By this time, however, each heartily repented of their vow, their refentment was at an end, and their love began to return; they wished the fiddle-cafe away, but both had too much spirit to begin. One night, however, as they were both lying awake with the detefted fiddle-cafe between them, the husband happened to fneeze, to which the wife, as is ufual in fuch cafes, bid God bless him;
Ay, but, (returns the hufband,) woman, do you fay that from your heart?" "Indeed, I do, my poor Nicho
las, (cried his wife) I fay it with all my heart."-" If so
then, (said the husband) we had as good remove the fiddle-cafe."
FROM THE SAME.
my fon, while they teach us to respect the interests of others, often make us unmindful of our own; while they instruct the youthful reader to grasp at focial happiness, he grows miferable in detail, and, attentive to univerfal harmony, often forgets that he himself has a part to sustain in the concert. I dislike, therefore, the philofopher who describes the inconveniencies of life in fuch pleafing colours, that the pupil grows enamoured of diftress, longs to try the charms of poverty, meets it without dread, nor fears its inconveniencies, till he severely feels them.
A youth, who has thus spent his life among books, new to the world, and unacquainted with man, but by philofophic information, may be confidered as a being, whofe mind is filled with the vulgar errors of the wife; utterly unqualified for a journey through life, yet confident of his own skill in the direction, he fets out with confidence, blunders on with vanity, and finds himself at laft undone.
He firft has learned from books, and then lays it down as a maxim, that all mankind are virtuous or vicious in excefs and he has been long taught to deteft vice and love virtue: warm, therefore, in attachments, and stedfaft in enmity, he treats every creature as a friend or foe; expects from those he loves unerring integrity, and con figns his enemies to the reproach of wanting every virtue. On this principle he proceeds; and here begin his difVOL. II. с
appointments; upon a clofer infpection of human nature he perceives, that he should have moderated his friendfhip, and foftened his feverity; for he often finds the excellencies of one part of mankind clouded with vice, and the faults of the other brightened with virtue; he finds no character fo fanctified that has not its failings, none so infamous but has fomewhat to attract our esteem; he beholds impiety in lawn and fidelity in fetters.
He now, therefore, but too late, perceives that his regard should have been more cool, and his hatred lefs violent; that the truly wife feldom court romantic friendships with the good, and avoid, if poffible, the refentment even of the wicked: every moment gives him fresh inftances, that the bonds of friendship are broken if drawn too clofely, and that thofe whom he has treated with disrespect, more than retaliate the injury: at length, therefore, he is obliged to confefs, that he has declared war upon the vicious half of mankind, without being able to form an alliance among the virtuous to efpoufe his quarrel.
Our book-taught philofopher, however, is now too far advanced to recede; and though poverty be the juft confequence of the many enemies his conduct has created, yet he is refolved to meet it without fhrinking: philofophers have described poverty in most charming colours; and even his vanity is touched in thinking, that he fhould fhew the world, in himself, one more example of patience, fortitude, and refignation. "Come, then, O poverty! for what is there in thee dreadful to the WISE; temperance, health, and frugality, walk in thy train; cheerfulness and liberty are ever thy companions. Shall any be ashamed of thee, of whom Cincinatus was
not afhamed? The running brook, the herbs of the field can amply fatisfy nature; man wants but little, nor that little long; come, then, O poverty! while kings ftand by and gaze with admiration at the philofopher's refignation."
The goddess appears; for Poverty ever comes at the call: but, alas! he finds her by no means the charming figure books and his warm imagination had painted. As when an eastern bride, whom her friends and relations had long defcribed as a model of perfection, pays her first visit, the longing bridegroom lifts the veil to fee a face he had never feen before; but inftead of a countenance, blazing with beauty like the fun, he beholds deformity fhooting icicles to his heart; fuch appears Poverty to her new entertainer: all the fabric of enthusiasm is at once demolished, and a thousand miferies rife upon its ruin, while Contempt, with pointing finger, is foremoft in the hideous proceffion.
The poor man now finds that he can get no kings to look at him while he is eating; he finds, that in proportion as he grows poor, the world turns back upon him, and gives him leave to act the philosopher in all the majefty of folitude: it might be agreeable enough to play the philofopher, while we are conscious that mankind are spectators; but what fignifies wearing the mask of fturdy contentment, and mounting the flage of reftraint, when not one creature will affift at the exhibition; thus is he forfaken of men, while his fortitude wants the fatisfaction even of self-applause; for either he does not feel his prefent calamities, and that is natural infenfibility, or he disguises his feelings, and that is diffimulation.
Spleen now begins to take up the man; not diftinguishing in his resentment, he regards all mankind with deteftation, and, commencing man-hater, feeks folitude to be at liberty to rail.
It has been faid, that he who retires to folitude is either a beast or an angel; the cenfure is too fevere, and the praife unmeritted: the difcontented being who retires from fociety, is generally fome good-natured man, who has begun his life without experience, and knew not how to gain it in his intercourfe with mankind. Adieu.
FROM LIEN CHI ALTANGI, TO FUM HOAM, FIRST PRESIDENT OF THE CEREMONIAL ACADEMY AT PEKIN, IN CHINA.
I Formerly acquainted thee, moft grave Fum, with the
excellence of the English in the art of healing. The Chinefe boast their skill in pulfes, the Siamese their botanical knowledge, but the English advertising physicians alone, of being the great reftorers of health, the difpenfers of youth, and the insurers of longevity. I can never enough admire the fagacity of this country, for the encouragement given to the profeffors of this art; with what indulgence does the fofter up thofe of her own growth, and kindly cherish thofe that come from abroad. Like a fkilful gardener, fhe invites them from every foreign climate to herself. Here, every great exotic ftrikes root as foon.