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terday to pay me a visit ; and after drinking tea, wo such delinquents? Psha, man, replied he, siniling, both resolver to take a walk together, in order to en- if every delinquent among us were to be treated in joy the freshness of the country, which now begins your manner, one-half of the kingdom would flog to resume its verdure. Before we got out of the the other. suburbs, however, we were stopped in one of the I must confess, my dear Fum, that if I were an streets by a crowd of people, gathered in a circle English husband, of all things I would take care round a man and his wife, who seemed too loud not to be jealous, nor busily pry into those secrets and too angry to be understood. The people were my wife was pleased to keep from me. Should I highly pleased with the dispute, which, upon in- detect her infidelity, what is the consequence? If quiry, we found to be between Dr. Cacafogo, an I calmly pocket the abuse, I am laughed at by her apothecary, and his wife. The doctor, it seems, and her gallant; if I talk my griefs aloud, like a coming unexpectedly into his wife's apartment, tragedy hero, I am laughed at by the whole world. found a gentleman there, in circumstances not in The course then I would take would be, whenever the least equivocal.
I went out, to tell my wife where I was going, lest The doctor, who was a person of nice honour, I should unexpectedly meet her abroad in comparesolving to revenge the flagrant insult, imme- ny with some dear deceiver. Whenever I returndiately tew to the chimney-piece, and taking down ed, I would use a peculiar rap at the door, and give a rusty blunderbuss, drew the trigger upon the de- four loud hems as I walked deliberately up the filer of his bed: the delinquent would certainly have staircase. I would never inquisitively peep under been shot through the head, but that the piece had her bed, or look under the curtains. And, eren not been charged for many years. The gallant though I knew the captain was there, I would made a shift to escape through the window, but calmly take a dish of my wife's cool tea, and talk the lady still remained ; and as she well knew her of the army with reverence. husband's temper, undertook to manage the quar- Of all nations, the Russians seem to me to berel without a second. He was furious, and she have most wisely in such circunstances. The loud; their noise had gathered all the mob, who wise promises her husband never to let him see her charitably assembled on the occasion, not to pre-transgressions of this nature; and he as punctually vent, but to enjoy the quarrel.
r romises, whenever she is so detected, without the Alas! said I to my companion, what will become least anger, to beat her without mercy; so they of this unhappy creature thus caught in adultery ? both know what each has to expect; the lady Believe me, I pity her froin my heart; her hus- transgresses, is beaten, taken again into favour, band, I suppose, will show her no mercy. Will and all goes on as before. they burn her as in India, or behead her as in Per- When a Russian young lady, therefore, is to be sia? Will they load her with stripes as in Tur- married, her father, with a cudgel in his hand, asks key, or keep her in perpetual imprisonment as the bridegroom, whether he chooses this virgin for with us in China ? Prithee, what is the wife's his bride? to which the other replies in the affirmpunishment in England for such offences? When ative. Upon this, the father, turning the lady a lady is thus caught tripping, replied my com- three times round, and giving her three strokes panion, they never punish her, but the husband. with his cudgel on the back, My dear, cries he, You surely jest, interrupted 1; I am a foreigner, these are the last blows you are ever to receite and you would abuse my ignorance ! I am really from your tender father : I resign my authority, serious, returned he; Dr. Cacafogo has caught his and my cudgel, to your husband; he knows betwife in the act; but as he had no witnesses, his ter than me the use of either. The bridegroom small testimony goes for nothing: the consequence, knows decorum too well to accept of the cudgel therefore, of his discovery will be, that she will be abruptly; he assures the father that the lady will packed off to live among her relations, and the never want it, and that he would not for the world, doctor must be obliged to allow her a separate nake any use of it; but the father, who knows maintenance. Amazing ! cried I; is it not enough what the lady may want better than he, insists that she is permitted to live separate from the ob- upon his acceptance; upon this there follows a ject she detests, but must he give her money to scene of Russian politeness, while one refuses, and keep her in spirits too? That he must, said my the other offers the cudgel. The whole, however, guide, and be called a cuckold by all his neigh-ends with the bridegroom's taking it; upon which bours into the bargain. The men will laugh the lady drops a courtesy in token of obedience, hím, the ladies will pity him: and all that his and the ceremony proceeds as usual. warmest friends can say in his favour will be, that There is something excessively fair and open in the poor good soul has nerer had any harm in this method of courtship: by this, both sides are him. I want patience, interrupted 1; what! are prepared for all the matrimonial adventures that there no private chastisements for the wife; no are to follow. Marriage has been compared to a schools of penitence to show her folly; no rods for game of skill for life. it is generous thus in both
From the same.
parties to declare they are sharpers in the begin- son, or horse-flesh, when they can get it; but in ning. In England, I am told, both sides use every cases of necessity, lying in wait to devour each art to conceal their defects from each other before other. While they have new books to cut up, they marriage, and the rest of their lives may be regard- make a hearty meal; but if this resource should ed as duing penance for their former dissimulation. unhappily fail, then it is that critics eat up critics, Farewell.
and compilers rob from compilations.
Confucius observes, that it is the duty of tho
learned to unite society more closely, and to perLETTER XX.
suade men to become citizens of the world; but the authors I refer to, are not only for disuniting
society but kingdoms also : if the English are at The Republic of Letters, is a very common ex- war with France, the dunces of France think it pression among the Europeans; and yet, when ap- their duty to be at war with those of England. plied to the learned of Europe, is the most absurd. Thus Freron, one of their first-rate scribblers, that can be imagined, since nothing is more unlike thinks proper to characterize all the English wria republic than the society which goes by that nameters in the gross : "Their whole merit (says he)
From this expression, one would be apt to imagine consists in exaggeration, and often in extravagance: that the learned were united into a single body, correct their pieces as you please, there still rejoining their interests, and concurring in the same mains a leaven which corrupts the whole. They design. From this, one might be apt to compare sometimes discover genius, but not the smallest them to our literary societies in China, where each share of taste : England is not a soil for the plants acknowledges a just subordination, and all contri- of genius to thrive in." This is open enough, with bute to build the temple of science, without al- not the least adulation in the picture : but hear tempting, from ignorance or envy, to obstruct each what a Frenchman of acknowledged abilities says other.
pon the same subject : “I am at a loss to deterBut very different is the state of learning here : mine in what we excel the English, or where they every member of this fancied republic is desirous excel us: when I compare the merits of both in of governing, and none willing to obey ; each looks any one species of literary composition, so many upon his fellow as a rival, not an assistar' ? the reputable and pleasing writers present themselves same pursuit. They calumniate, they injure, they from either country, that my judgment rests in susdespise, they ridicule each other; if one man writes pense: I am pleased with the disquisition, without a book that pleases, others shall write books to show finding the object of my inquiry.” But lest you that he might have given still greater pleasure, or should think the French alone are faulty in this should not have pleased. If one happens to hit respect, hear how an English journalist delivers his upon something new, there are numbers ready to sentiments of them: “We are amazed (says he) assure the public that all this was no novelty to to find so many works translated from the French, them or the learned; that Cardanus, or Brunus, while we have such numbers neglected of our own. or some other author too dull to be generally read, In our opinion, notwithstanding their fame through. had anticipated the discovery. Thus, instead of out the rest of Europe, the French are the most uniting like the members of a commonwealth, they contemptible reasoners (we had almost said wriare divided into almost as many factions as there ters) that can be imagined. However, nevertheare men : and their jarring constitution, instead of loss, excepting,” etc. Another English writer, being styled a republic of letters, should be entitled Shaftesbury if I remember, on the contrary, says an anarchy of literature.
that the French authors are pleas' ng and judicious, It is truc, there are some of superior abilities more clear, more methodical and entertaining, than who reverence and esteem each other; but their those of his own country. mutual admiration is not sufficient to shield off the From these opposite pictures, you perceive, that contempt of the crowd. The wise are but few, and the good authors of either country praise, and the they praise with a feeble voice; the vulgar are bad revile each other ; and yet, perhaps, you will many, and roar in reproaches. The truly great be surprised that indifferent writers should thus be seldom unite in societies; have few meetings, no the most apt to censure, as they have the most to cabals; the dunces hunt in full cry, till they have apprehend from recrimination : you may, perhaps, run down a reputation, and then snarl and fight imagine, that such as are possessed of fame themwith each other about dividing the spoil. Here selves, should be most ready to declare their opi. you may see the compilers and the book-answerers nions, since what they say might pass for decision of every month, when they have cut up some re- But the truth happens to be, that the great are sua spectable name, most frequently reproaching each licitous only of raising their own reputatiors, while other with stupidity and dulness; resembling the the opposite class, alas! are solicitous of bringing wolves of the Russian forest, who prey upon veni-levery reputation down to a level with their own.
But let us acquit them of malice and envy. A The rich in general were placed in the lowest critic is often guided by the same motives that di- seats, and the poor rose above them in degrees prorect his author. The author endeavours to per- portioned to their poverty. The order of precesuade us, that he has written a good book ; the dence seemed here inverted; those who were uncritic is equally solicitous to show that he could dermost all the day, now enjoyed a temporary emiwrite a better, had he thought proper. A critic is nence, and became masters of the ceremonies. It a being possessed of all the vanity, but not the ge- was they who called for the music, indulging every nius of a scholar; incapable, from his native weak- noisy freedom, and testifying all the insolence of ness, of lifting himself from the ground, he applies beggary in exaltation. to contiguous merit for support; makes the spor- They who held the middle region seemed not so tive sallies of another's imagination his serious riotous as those above them, nor yet so tame as those employment; pretends to take our feelings under below : to judge by their looks, many of them his care; teaches where to condemn, where to lay seemed strangers there as well as myself: they the emphasis of praise ; and may with as much were chiefly employed, during this period of ex. justice be called a man of taste, as the Chinese pectation, in eating oranges, reading the story of who measures his wisdom by the length of his the play, or making assignations. nails.
Those who sat in the lowest rows, which are If, then, a book, spirited or humorous, happens called the pit, seemed to consider themselves as to appear in the republic of letters, several critics judges of the merit of the poet and the performers ; are in waiting to bid the public not to laugh at a they were assembled partly to be anused, and single line of it; for themselves had read it, and partly to show their taste; appearing to labour unthey know what is most proper to excite laughter. der that restraint which an affectation of superior Other critics contradict the fulminations of this discernment generally produces. My companion, tribunal, call them all spiders, and assure the pub- however, informed me, that not one in a hundred lic that they ought to laugh without restraint. of them knew even the first principles of criticism; Another set are in the mean time quietly employed that they assumed the right of being censors bein writing notes to the book, intended to show the cause there was none to contradict their pretenparticular passages to be laughed at: when these sions; and that every man who now called himself are out, others still there are who write notes upon a connoisseur, became such to all intents and purnotes : thus a single new book employs not only poses. the paper-makers, the printers, the pressmen, the
Those who sat in the boxes appeared in the book-binders, the hawkers, but twenty critics, and most unhappy situation of all. The rest of the as many compilers. In short, the body of the audience came merely for their own amusement ; learned may be compared to a Persian army, where these, rather to furnish out a part of the entertainthere are many pioneers, several sutlers, number-ments themselves. I could not avoid considering less servants, women and children in abundance, them as acting parts in dumb show-not a courteand but few soldiers. Adieu.
sy or nod that was not the result of art; not a look nor a smile that was not designed for murder. Gentlemen and ladies ogled each other through
spectacles; for my companion observed, that blindLETTER XXI.
ness was of late become fashionable ; all affected indifference and ease, while their hearts at the same
time burned for conquest. Upon the whole, the The English are as fond of seeing plays acted lights
, the music, the ladies in their gayest dresses, as the Chinese; but there is a vast difference the men with cheerfulness and expectation in their in the manner of conducting them. We play our looks, all conspired to make a most agreeable pic pieces in the open air, the English theirs under ture, and to fill a heart that sympathizes at human cover; we act by daylight, they by the blaze of torch-happiness with inexpressible serenity. es. One of our plays continues cight or ten days The expected time for the play to begin at last successively ; an English piece seldom takes up arrived; the curtain was drawn, and the actors above four hours in the representation.
came on. A woman, who personated a queen, My companion in black, with whom I am now came in courtseying to the audience, who clapped beginning to contract an intimacy, introduced me their hands upon her appearance. Clapping of a few nights ago to the play-house, where we hands, is, it seems, the manner of applauding in placed ourselves conveniently at the foot of the England; the manner is absurd, but every country, stage. As the curtain was not drawn before my you know, has its peculiar absurdities. I was arrival, I had an opportunity of observing the be- equally surprised, however, at the submission of the haviour of the spectators, and indulging those re-actress, who should have considered herself as a flections which novelty generally inspires. queen, as at the little discernment of the audience
To the Same.
who gave her such marks of applause before she ja villain said I, he must be a very stupid one to tell attempted to deserve them. Preliminaries between his secrets without being asked ; such soliloquies of her and the audience being thus adjusted, the dia-llate are never admitted in China. logue was supported between her and a most hope- The noise of clapping interrupted me once more: ful youth, who acted the part of her confidant. a child of six years old was learning to dance on They both appeared in extreme distress, for it the stage, which gave the ladies and mandarines seems the queen had lost a child some fifteen years infinite satisfaction. I am sorry, said I, to see the before, and still keeps its dear resemblance next pretty creature so early learning so bad a trade; her heart, while her kind companion bore a part in dancing being, I presume, as contemptible here as her sorrows.
in China. Quite the reverse, interrupted my com. Her lamentations grew loud; comfort is offered, panion; dancing is a very reputable and genteel but she detests the very sound : she bids them employment here; men have a greater chance for preach comfort to the winds. Upon this her hus- encouragement from the merit of their heels than band comes in, who, seeing the queen so much their heads. One who jumps up and flourishes his affected, can himself hardly refrain from tears, or toes three times before he comes to the ground, may avoid partaking in the soft distress. After thus have three hundred a-year; he who flourishes them grieving through three scenes, the curtain dropped four times, gets four hundred; but he who arrives for the first act,
at five is inestimable, and may demand what salary Truly, said I to my companion, these kings and he thinks proper. The female dancers, too, are queens are very much disturbed at no very great mis- valued for this sort of jumping and crossing; and fortune : certain I am, were people of humbler sta- it is a cant word among them, that she deserves tions to act in this manner, they would be thought most who shows highest. But the fourth act is divested of common sense. I had scarcely finished begun; let us be attentive. this observation, when the curtain rose, and the In the fourth act the queen finds her long-lost king came on in a violent passion. His wife had, child, now grown up into a youth of smart parts it seems, refused his proffered tenderness, had and great qualifications; wherefore, she wisely spurned his royal embrace; and he seemed resolv- considers that the crown will fit his head better ed not to survive her fierce disdain. After he had than that of her husband, whom she knows to be thus fretted, and the queen had fretted through the a driveller. The king discovers her design, and second act, the curtain was let down once more. here comes on the deep distress; he loves the
Now, says my companion, you perceive the king queen, and he loves the kingdom; he resolves, to be a man of spirit; he feels at every pore: one therefore, in order to possess both, that her son must of your phlegmatic sons of clay would have given die. The queen exclaims at his barbarity, is frantic the queen her own way, and let her come to her- with rage, and at length, overcome with sorrow, self by degrees; but the king is for immediate ten- falls into a fit; upon which the curtain drops, and derness, or instant death: death and tenderness the act is concluded. are leading passions of every modern buskined Observe the art of the poet, cries my companion. hero; this moment they embrace, and the next When the queen can say no more, she falls into a stab, mixing daggers and kisses in every period, fit. While thus her eyes are shut, while she is
I was going to second his remarks, when my at- supported in the arms of her abigail, what horrors tention was engrossed by a new object; a man do we not fancy! We feel it in every nerve; take came in balancing a straw upon his nose, and the au- my word for it, that fits are the true aposiopesis of dience were clapping their hands in all the raptures modern tragedy. of applause. To what purpose, cried I, does this The fifth act began, and a busy piece it was. unmeaning figure make his appearance ; is he a Scenes shifting, trumpets sounding, mobs halloopart of the plot? Unmeaning do you call him ? re- ing, carpets spreading, guards bustling from one plied my friend in black; this is one of the most door to another; gods, demons, daggers, racks, and important characters of the whole play; nothing ratsbane. But whether the king was killed, or the pleases the people more than sceing a straw bal- queen was drowned, or the son was poisoned, I anced : there is a great deal of meaning in the have absolutely forgotten. straw; there is something suited to every appre- When the play was over, I could not avoid obhension in the sight; and a fellow possessed of serving, that the persons of the drama appeared in talents like these is sure of making his fortune. as much distress in the first act as the last : How
The third act now began with an actor who is it possible, said I, to sympathize with them came to inform us that he was the villain of the play, through five long acts! Pity is but a short-lived and intended to show strange things before all was passion; I hate to hear an actor mouthing trifles; over. He was joined by another, who seemed as neither startings, strainings, nor attitudes affect much disposed for mischief as he : their intrigues me, unless there be cause : aster I have been onre continued through this whole division. If that be or twice deceived by those unmeaning alarms my
heart sleeps in peace, probably unaffected by the plundered it, and made those who escaped their first principal distress. There should be one great fury slaves. By those he was led into the extenpassion aimed at by the actor as well as the poet ; sive and desolate regions that border on the shores all the rest should be subordinate, and only contri- of the Aral lake. bute to make that the greater: if the actor, there- Here he lived by hunting; and was obliged to fore, exclaims upon every occasion in the tones of supply every day a certain proportion of the spoil, despair, he attempts to move us too soon ; he anti- to regale his savage masters. His learning, his cipates the blow, he ceases to affect, though he virtues, and even his beauty, were qualifications gains our applause.
that no way served to recommend him; they knew I scarcely perceived that the audience were al- no merit, but that of providing large quantities of most all departed; wherefore, mixing with the milk and raw flesh; and were sensible of no happi. crowd, my companion and I got into the street; ness but that of rioting on the undressed meal. where, essaying a hundred obstacles from coach- Some merchants from Mesched, however, coming wheels and palanquin poles, like birds in their to trade with the Tartars for slaves, he was sold flight through the branches of a forest, after vari- among the number, and led into the kingdom of ous turnings we both at length got home in safety. Persia, where he is now detained. He is there Adieu,
obliged to watch the looks of a voluptuous and cruel master, a man fond of pleasure, yet incapable of refinement, whom many years' service in war has
taught pride, but not bravery. LETTER XXII.
That treasure which I still keep within my To the same.
bosom, my child, my all that was left to me, is now
a slave. * Good Heavens, why was this? Why The letter which came by the way of Smyrna, have I been introduced into this mortal apartment, and which you sent me unopened, was from my to be a spectator of my own misfortunes, and the son. As I have permitted you to take copies of all misfortunes of my fellow-creatures? Wherever ) those I sent to China, you might have made no turn, what a labyrinth of doubt, error, and disap ceremony in opening those directed to me. Either pointment appears! Why was I brought into be in joy or sorrow, my friend should participate in ing; for what purposes made; from whence havel my feelings. It would give pleasure to see a good come; whither strayed; or to what regions am I man pleased at my success ; it would give almost hastening? Reason can not resolve. It lends a equal pleasure to see him sympathise at my disap ray to show the horrors of my prison, but not a pointment.
light to guide me to escape them. Ye boasted Every account I receive from the East seems to revelations of the earth, how little do you aid the come loaded with some new affliction. My wife inquiry! and daughter were taken from me, and yet I sus- How am I surprised at the inconsistency of the tained the loss with intrepidity; my son is made a magi! their two principles of good and evil afsright slave among the barbarians, which was the only me. The Indian who bathes his visage in urine, blow that could have reached my heart : yes, I will and calls it piety, strikes me with astonishment. indulge the transports of nature for a little, in order The Christian who believes in three Gods is highto show I can overcome them in the end. True ly absurd. The Jews, who pretend that deity is magnanimity consists not in never falling, but pleased with the effusion of blood, are not less disin rising every time we fall.
pleasing. I am equally surprised, that rational beWhen our mighty emperor had published his ings can come from the extremities the earth, in displeasure at my departure, and seized upon all order to kiss a stone, or scatter pebbles. How conthat was mine, my son was privately secreted from trary to reason are those! and yet all pretend to his resentment. Under the protection and guard- teach me to be happy. ianship of Fum Hoam, the best and the wisest of Surely all men are blind and ignorant of truth. all the inhabitants of China, he was for some time Mankind wanders, unknowing his way, from instructed in the learning of the missionaries, and morning till evening. Where shall we turn after the wisdom of the East. But hearing of my ad- happiness; or is it wisest to desist from the pursuit! ventures, and incited by filial piety, he was resolved Like reptiles in a corner of some stupendous palace, to follow my fortunes, and share my distress. we peep from our holes, look about us, wonder at
He passed the confines of China in disguise, all we see, but are ignorant of the great architect's nired hiinself as a camel-driver to a caravan that design. O for a revelation of himself, for a plan of was crossing the deserts of Thibet, and was within his universal system! O for the reasons of our one day's journey of the river Laur, which divides that country from India, when a body of wander
• This whole apostrophe seems most literally translated ing Tartars falling unexpectedly upon the caravan, from ambulaaohamed, the Arabian poel