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our paffions in the pursuit, points out the object of inveftigation, and reason then comments where sense has led the way. An increase in the number of our enjoyments, therefore, neceffarily produces an increase of scientific research; but in countries where almost every enjoyment is wanting, reafon there seems deftitute of its great inspirer, and speculation is the business of fools, when it becomes its own reward.
The barbarous Siberian is too wife, therefore, to exhauft his time in queft of knowledge, which neither curiofity prompts, nor pleasure impels him to pursue. When told of the exact admeasurement of a degree upon the equator at Quito, he feels no pleasure in the account; when informed that such a discovery tends to promote navigation and commerce, he finds himself no way interested in either. A discovery which some have purfued at the hazard of their lives, affects him with neither astonishment nor pleasure. He is fatisfied with thoroughly understanding the few objects which contribute to his own felicity. He knows the propereft places where to lay the snare for the fable, and discerns the value of furs with more than European fagacity. More extended knowledge would only serve to render him unhappy, it might lend a ray to fhew him the misery of his situation, but could not guide him in his efforts to avoid it. Ignorance is the happiness of the poor.
The misery of a being endowed with fentiments above its capacity of fruition is most admirably described in one of the fables of Locman, the Indian moralift. "An elephant that had been peculiarly serviceable in fighting the battles of Wiftnow, was ordered by the god to wish for whatever he thought proper, and the defire should be VOL. II. Ꮐ
attended with immediate gratification. The elephant thanked his benefactor on bended knees, and defired to be endowed with the reafon and the faculties of a man. Wiftnow was forry to hear the foolish requeft, and endeavoured to diffuade him from his misplaced ambition; but finding it to no purpose, gave him at last such a portion of wisdom, as could correct even the Zendavefta of Zoroafter. The reasoning elephant went away rejoicing in his new acquifition, and though his body still retained its ancient form, he found his appetites and paffions entirely altered. He firft confidered that it would not only be more comfortable, but also more becoming, to wear clothes; but unhappily he had no method of making them himself, nor had he the use of speech to demand them from others, and this was the first time he felt real anxiety. He foon perceived how much more elegantly men were fed than he, therefore he began to loath his ufual food, and longed for thofe delicacies which adorn the tables. of princes; but here again he found it impoffible to be fatisfied; for though he could eafily obtain flesh, yet he found it impoffible to drefs it in any degree of perfection. In short, every pleasure that contributed to the felicity of mankind, ferved only to render him more miserable, as he found himself utterly deprived of the power of enjoyment. In this manner he led a repining, difcontented life, detefting himself, and difpleafed with his ill-judged ambition, till at laft his benefactor, Wiftnow, taking compaffion on his forlorn fituation, restored him to the ignorance and the happiness which he was originally formed to enjoy."
No, my friend, to attempt to introduce the sciences into a nation of wandering barbarians, is only to render
DE them more miserable than even nature defigned they should be. A life of fimplicity is best fitted to a state of folitude.
The great law-giver of Ruffia attempted to improve the defolate inhabitants of Siberia, by fending among them fome of the politeft men of Europe. The confequence has fhewn, that the country was as yet unfit to receive them; they languifhed for a time, with a fort of exotic malady, every day degenerated from themselves, and, at laft, inftead of rendering the country more polite, they conformed to the foil, and put on barbarity.
No, my friend, in order to make the fciences useful in any country, it must first become populous; the inhabitant must go through the different ftages of hunter, shepherd, and husbandman: then when property be comes valuable, and confequenly gives cause for injustice; then when laws are appointed to repress injury, and fecure poffeffion, when men, by the fanction of those laws, become poffeffed of fuperfluity, when luxury is thus introduced and demands its continual fupply, then it is that the sciences become neceffary and useful; the ftate then cannot subsist without them; they must then be introduced, at once to teach men to draw the greatest poffible quantity of pleasure from circumfcribed poffeffion; and to restrain them within the bounds of moderate enjoyment.
The sciences are not the cause of luxury, but its consequence, and this destroyer thus brings with it an antidote, which refifts the virulence of its own poison. By afferting that luxury introduces the sciences, we affert a truth; but if, with those who reject the utility of learn
ing, we affert that the fciences also introduce luxury, we shall be at once falfe, abfurd, and rediculous. Adieu.
FROM LIEN CHI ALTANGI, TO HINGPO BY THE
OU are now arrived at an age, my fon, when pleafure diffuades from application; but rob not, by present gratification, all the fucceeding period of life of its happinefs. Sacrifice a little pleasure at firft to the expectance of greater. The ftudy of a very few years will make the reft of life completely easy.
But instead of continuing the subject myself, take the following inftructions, borrowed from a modern philofopher of China.* "He who has begun his fortune by ftudy, will certainly confirm it by perfeverance. The love of books damps the paffion for pleasure, and when this paffion is once extinguished, life is then cheaply fupported; thus a man, being poffeffed of more than he wants, can never be subject to great disappointments, and avoids all those meannesses which indigence fometimes unavoidably produces.
"There is unspeakable pleasure attending the life of a voluntary student. The first time I read an excellent, book, it is to me juft as if I had gained a new friend.
* A tranflation of this paffage may also be seen in Du Halde, vol. II. fol. p. 47 and 58. This extract will at least serve to shew that fondness for humour, which appears in the writings of the Chinese.
When I read over a book I have perused before, it refembles the meeting with an old one. We ought to lay hold of every incident in life for improvement, the trifling as well as the important. It is not one diamond alone which gives luftre to another, a common coarse ftone is alfo employed for that purpose. Thus I ought to draw advantage from the infults and contempt I meet with from a worthlefs fellow. His brutality ought to induce me to felf examination, and correct every blemish that may have given rife to his calumny.
"Yet with all the pleasures and profits which are generally produced by learning, parents often find it difficult to induce their children to study. They often feem dragged to what wears the appearance of application. Thus, being dilatory in the beginning, all future hopes of eminence are entirely cut off. If they find themselves obliged to write two lines more polite than ordinary, their pencil then seems as heavy as a millstone, and they spend ten days in turning two or three periods with propriety.
"These perfons are moft at a lofs when a banquet is almost over; the plate and the dice go round, that the number of little verses, which each is obliged to repeat, may be determined by chance. The booby, when it comes to his turn, appears quite ftupid and infenfible. The company divert themselves with his confufion; and fneers, winks, and whispers are circulated at his expence. As for him, he opens a pair of large heavy eyes, ftares at all about him, and even offers to join in the laugh without ever confidering himself as the burden of all their good humour.