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bell-weather of Bantam, whofe tail, you know, is trundled along in a wheel-barrow.
Son of China! what contradictions do we find in this ftrange world! not only the people of different countries think in oppofition to each other, but the inhabitants of a fingle island are often found inconfiftent with themfelves; would you believe it? this very people my Fum, who are so fond of feeing their women with long tails, at the fame time dock their horses to the very rump!!!
But you may easily guess, that I am no way displeased with a fashion which tends to increase a demand for the commodities of the East, and is fo very beneficial to the country in which I was born. Nothing can be better calculated to increase the price of filk, than the present manner of dreffing. A lady's train is not bought but at some expence, and after it has swept the public walks for a very few evenings, is fit to be worn no longer: more filk must be bought in order to repair the breach; and fome ladies of peculiar œconomy, are thus found to patch up their tails eight or ten times in a feason. This unneceffary confumption may introduce poverty here, but then we fhall be richer for it in China.
The man in black, who is a profeffed enemy to this manner of ornamenting the tail, affures me, there are numberless inconveniencies attending it, and that a lady dreffed up to the fashion, is as much a cripple as any in Nankin. But his chief indignation is levelled at those who drefs in this manner, without a proper fortune to fupport it. He affures me, that he has known fome who would have a tail, though they wanted a petticoat, and others, who, without any other pretenfions, fancied they became ladies, merely from the addition of three super
fluous yards of ragged filk; I know a thrifty good woman, continues he, who thinking herself obliged to carry a train like her betters, never walks from home, without the uneafy apprehensions of wearing it out too soon; every excursion she makes gives her new anxiety, and her train is every bit as importunate, and wounds her peace as much as the bladder we fometimes fee tied to the tail of a cat.
Nay, he ventures to affirm, that a train may often bring a lady into the most critical circumstances; for fhould a rude fellow, fays he, offer to come up to ravish a kiss, and the lady attempt to avoid it, in retiring she must necessarily tread upon her train, and thus fall fairly upon her back, by which means every one knows-her clothes may be spoiled.
The ladies here make no fcruple to laugh at the smallness of a Chinese flipper, but I fancy our wives at China would have a more real cause of laughter, could they but fee the immoderate length of an European train. Head of Confucius! to view a human being crippling herself with a great unwieldy tail for our diverfion; backward she cannot go, forward she must move but flowly, and if ever fhe attempts to turn round, it must be in a cricle not smaller than that described by the wheeling crocodile when it would face an affailant. And yet to think that all this confers importance and majesty! to think that a lady acquires additional respect from fifteen yards of trailing taffeta! I cannot contain— ha ha ha! this is certainly a remnant of European barbarity. The female Tartar, dreffed in fheep skins, is in far more convenient drapery. Their own writers have sometimes inveighed against the abfurdity of this
fashion, but perhaps it has never been ridiculed fo well as upon the Italian theatre, where Pafquariello being engaged to attend on the Countefs of Fernambroco, having one of his hands employed in carrying her muff, and the other her lap-dog, he bears her train majeftically along, by flicking it in the waistband of his breeches. Adieu.
FROM THE SAME.
A Difpute has for fome time divided the philofo
phers of Europe; it is debated, whether arts and sciences are more ferviceable or prejudicial to mankind. They who maintain the cause of literature, endeavour to prove their usefulness from the impoffibility of a large number of men fubfifting in a fmall tract of country without them, from the pleasure which attends the acquifition, and from the influence of knowledge in promoting practical morality.
They who obtain the oppofite opinion, display the happiness and innocence of thofe uncultivated nations who live without learning; urge the numerous vices which are to be found only in polished society, enlarge upon the oppreffion, the cruelty, and the blood which muft neceffarily be fhed, in order to cement civil fo ciety, and infift upon the happy equality of conditions in a barbarous state, preferable to the unnatural fubordi. nation of a more refined conftitution.
This difpute, which has already given fo much employment to fpeculative indolence, has been managed with much ardour, and (not to suppress our sentiments) with but little fagacity. They who infift that the sciences are useful in refined society are certainly right, and they who maintain that barbarous nations are more happy without them are right alfo; but when one fide for this reason, attempts to prove them as univerfally ufeful to the folitary barbarian, as to the native of a crouded common-wealth; or when the other endeavours to banish them as prejudicial to all fociety, even from populous ftates as well as from the inhabitants of the wilderness, they are both wrong; since that knowledge which makes the happiness of a refined European, would be a torment to the precarious tenant of an Afiatic wild.
Let me, to prove this, transport the imagination for a moment to the midst of a foreft in Siberia. There we behold the inhabitant, poor indeed, but equally fond of happiness, with the most refined philofopher of China. The earth lies uncultivated and uninhabited for miles around him; his little family and he, the fole and undifputed poffeffors. In fuch circumstances nature and reason will induce him to prefer a hunter's life to that of cultivating the earth. He will certainly adhere to that manner of living which is carried on at the small expence of labour, and that food which is most agreeable to the appetite; he will prefer indolent though precarious luxury, to a labo rious though permanent competence; and a knowledge of his own happiness will determine him to persevere in native barbarity.
In like manner, his happiness will incline him to bind himself to no law! Laws are made in order to fecure prefent property but he is poffeffed of no property which he is afraid to lose, and defires no more than will be fufficient to sustain him; to enter into compacts with others, would be undergoing a voluntary obligation without the expectance of any reward. He and his countrymen are tenants, not rivals, in the fame inexhauftible foreft; the increafed poffeffions of one, by no means diminishes the expectations arifing from equal affiduity in another : there are no need of laws therefore to repress ambition, there can be no mischief attending its moft boundless gratification.
Our folitary Siberian will, in like manner, find the fciences not only entirely useless in directing his practice, but disgusting even in fpeculation. In every contemplation, our curiofity must be first excited by the appearances of things, before our reason undergoes the fatigue of investigating the causes. Some of those appearances are produced by experiment, others by minuite inquiry; fome arife from a knowledge of foreign climates, and others from an intimate ftudy of our own. But there are few objects in comparison, which present themselves to the inhabitant of a barbarous country; the game he hunts, or the tranfient cottage he builds, make up the chief objects of his concern; his curiofity therefore must be proportionably lefs; and if that is diminished, the reafon. ing faculty will be diminished in proportion,
Besides, fenfual enjoyment adds wings to curiofity. We confider few objects with ardent attention, but those which have fome connexion with our wishes, our pleasures, or our neceffities. A defire of enjoyment first interests