« VorigeDoorgaan »
tracted when he was the figure in wax-work: thus ties lay, of which I was yet insensible. Sir, cries his face underwent an involuntary ablution, and he, the merit does not consist in the piece, but in he found himself reduced to his primitive complex-the manner in which it was done. The painter ion and indigence. drew the whole with his foot, and held the pencil After some time, being freed from gaol, he was between his toes: I bought it at a very great price; now grown wiser, and instead of making himself a for peculiar merit should ever be rewarded. wonder, was resolved only to make wonders. He But these people are not more fond of wonders, learned the art of pasting up mummies; was never than liberal in rewarding those who show them. at a loss for an artificial lusus naturæ ; nay, it has From the wonderful dog of knowledge, at present been reported, that he has sold seven petrified lob- under the patronage of the nobility, down to the sters of his own manufacture to a noted collector of man with the box, who professes to show the best rarities; but this the learned Cracovius Putridus has imitation of Nature that was ever seen, they all undertaken to refute in a very elaborate dissertation. live in luxury. A singing-woman shall collect His last wonder was nothing more than a halter, subscriptions in her own coach and six; a fellow yet by this halter he gained more than by all his shall make a fortune by tossing a straw from his toe former exhibitions. The people, it seems, had got to his nose; one in particular has found that eating it in their heads, that a certain noble criminal was fire was the most ready way to live; and another to be hanged with a silken rope. Now there was who jingles several bells fixed to his cap, is the nothing they so much wished to see as this very only man that I know of, who has received emolurope; and he was resolved to gratify their curiosity:ment from the labours of his head. he therefore got one made, not only of silk, but to A young author, a man of good-nature and render it more striking, several threads of gold were learning, was complaining to me some nights ago intermixed. The people paid their money only to of this misplaced generosity of the times. Here, see silk, but were highly satisfied when they found says he, have I spent part of my youth in attemptit was mixed with gold into the bargain. It is ing to instruct and amuse my fellow-creatures, and scarcely necessary to mention, that the projector all my reward has been solitude, poverty, and resold his silken rope for almost what it had cost proach; while a fellow, possessed of even the smallhim, as soon as the criminal was known to be est share of fiddling merit, or who has perhaps hanged in hempen materials. learned to whistle double, is rewarded, applauded, and caressed! Pr'ythee, young man, says I to him, are you ignorant, that in so large a city as this, it
By their fondness of sights, one would be apt to imagine, that instead of desiring to see things as they should be, they are rather solicitous of seeing is better to be an amusing than a useful member of them as they ought not to be. A cat with four society? Can you leap up, and touch your feet legs is disregarded, though never so useful; but if four times before you come to the ground? No, it has but two, and is consequently incapable of sir. Can you pimp for a man of quality? No, catching mice, it is reckoned inestimable, and every sir. Can you stand upon two horses at full speed? man of taste is ready to raise the auction. A man, No, sir. Can you swallow a pen-knife? I can do though in his person faultless as an aerial genius, none of these tricks. Why then, cried I, there is might starve; but if stuck over with hideous warts no other prudent mean of subsistence left, but to like a porcupine, his fortune is made for ever, and apprise the town that you speedily intend to eat he may propagate the breed with impunity and up your own nose, by subscription.
I have frequently regretted that none of our A good woman in my neighbourhood, who was Eastern posture-masters, or showmen, have ever bred a habit-maker, though she handled her needle ventured to England. I should be pleased to see tolerably well, could scarcely get employment. But that money circulate in Asia, which is now sent to being obliged, by an accident, to have both her Italy and France, in order to bring their vagabonds hands cut off from the elbows, what would in hither. Several of our tricks would undoubtedly another country have been her ruin, made her for- give the English high satisfaction. Men of fashion tune here: she now was thought more fit for her would be greatly pleased with the postures as well trade than before; business flowed in apace, and all as the condescension of our dancing-girls; and the people paid for seeing the mantua-maker who ladies would equally admire the conductors of our wrought without hands. fire-works. What an agreeable surprise would it
A gentleman showing me his collection of pic-be to see a huge fellow with whiskers flash a tures, stopped at one with peculiar admiration: charged blunderbuss full in a lady's face, without there, cries he, is an inestimable piece. I gazed at singeing her hair, or melting her pomatum. Per the picture for some time, but could see none of haps, when the first surprise was over, she might those graces with which he seemed enraptured; then grow familiar with danger; and the ladies it appeared to me the most paltry piece of the whole might vie with each other in standing fire with in collection: I therefore demanded where those beau- trepidity.
But of all the wonders of the East, the most use- virginity in a pawnbroker's shop, now attempted ful, and I should fancy the most pleasing, would to make up the defects of breeding and sentiment be the looking-glass of Lao, which reflects the by the magnificence of her dress, and the expen mind as well as the body. It is said that the Em-siveness of her amusements. Mr. Showman, peror Chusi, used to make his concubines dress their cried she, approaching, I am told you has someheads and their hearts in one of these glasses eve-thing to show in that there sort of magic-lantern, ry morning while the lady was at her toilet, he by which folks can see themselves on the inside : would frequently look over her shoulder; and it I protest, as my Lord Beetle says, I am sure it will is recorded, that among the three hundred which be vastly pretty, for I have never seen any thing composed his seraglio, not one was found whose like it before. But how; are we to strip off our mind was not even more beautiful than her per- clothes and be turned inside out? if so, as Lord Beetle says, I absolutely declare off; for I would not strip for the world before a man's face, and so
I make no doubt but a glass in this country would have the very same effect. The English I tells his lordship almost every night of my life. ladies, concubines and all, would undoubtedly cut I informed the lady that I would dispense with the very pretty figures in so faithful a monitor. There ceremony of stripping, and immediately presented should we happen to peep over a lady's shoulder my glass to her view.
while dressing, we might be able to see neither As when a first-rate beauty, after having with gaming nor ill-nature; neither pride, debauchery, difficulty escaped the small-pox, revisits her fanor a love of gadding. We should find her, if vourite mirror-that mirror which had repeated any sensible defect appeared in the mind, more the flattery of every lover, and even added force careful in rectifying it, than plastering up the ir- to the compliment,-expecting to see what had reparable decays of the person; nay, I am even so often given her pleasure, she no longer beholds apt to fancy, that ladies would find more real plea- the cherry lip, the polished forehead, and speaking sure in this utensil in private, than in any other blush; but a hateful phiz, quilted into a thousand bauble imported from China, though ever so ex-seams by the hand of deformity; grief, resentment, pensive or amusing. and rage, fill her bosom by turns: she blames the fates and the stars, but most of all, the unhappy glass feels her resentment: so it was with the lady in question; she had never seen her own mind before, and was now shocked at its deformity. One single look was sufficient to satisfy her curiosity; I held up the glass to her face, and she shut her eyes; no entreaties could prevail upon her to gaze once more. She was even going to snatch it from my hands and break it in a thousand pieces. I found it was time, therefore, to dismiss her as incorrigible, and show away to the next that offered.
To the Same.
UPON finishing my last letter, I retired to rest, reflecting upon the wonders of the glass of Lao, wishing to be possessed of one here, and resolved in such a case to oblige every lady with a sight of it for nothing. What fortune denied me waking, fancy supplied in a dream: the glass, I know not how, was put into possession, and I could perceive several ladies approaching, some voluntarily, others a driven forward against their wills, by a set of discontented genii, whom by intuition I knew were
This was an unmarried lady, who continued in state of virginity till thirty-six, and then admitted a lover when she despaired of a husband. No woman was louder at a revel than she, perfectly free hearted, and almost in every respect a man: The apartment in which I was to show away she understood ridicule to perfection, and was once was filled with several gaming-tables, as if just for- known even to sally out in order to beat the watch. saken: the candles were burnt to the socket, and "Here, you my dear with the outlandish face the hour was five o'clock in the morning. Placed (said she, addressing me), let me take a single at one end of the room, which was of prodigious peep. Not that I care three damns what figure I length, I could more easily distinguish every female may cut in the glass of such an old-fashioned creafigure as she marched up from the door; but guess ture; if I am allowed the beauties of the face by my surprise, when I could scarcely perceive one people of fashion, I know the world will be comblooming or agreeable face among the number. plaisant enough to toss me the beauties of the This, however, I attributed to the early hour, and mind into the bargain." I held my glass before kindly considered that the face of a lady just risen from bed, ought always to find a compassionate advocate.
her as she desired, and must confess was shocked with the reflection. The lady, however, gazed for some time with the utmost complacency; and at last, turning to me, with the most satisfied smile said, she never could think she had been half so
The first person who came up in order to view for intellectual face was a commoner's wife, who, as I afterward found, being bred up during her handsome.
Upon her dismission, a lady of distinction was that mind of yours; but there is still one which I reluctantly hauled along to the glass by her hus- do not see represented, I mean that of rising beband. In bringing her forward, as he came first times in the morning: I fancy the glass false in to the glass himself, his mind appeared tinctured that particular." The young lady smiled at my with immoderate jealousy, and I was going to re-simplicity; and with a blush confessed, that she proach him for using her with such severity; but and the whole company had been up all night when the lady came to present herself, I immedi-gaming.
ately retracted; for, alas! it was seen that he had By this time all the ladies, except one, had seen but too much reason for his suspicions. themselves successively, and disliked the show or The next was a lady who usually teased all her scolded the showman; I was resolved, however, acquaintance in desiring to be told of her faults, that she who seemed to neglect herself, and was and then never mended any. Upon approaching neglected by the rest, should take a view; and the glass, I could readily perceive vanity, affecta-going up to a corner of the room where she still tion, and some other ill-looking blots on her mind; continued sitting, I presented my glass full in her wherefore, by my advice, she immediately set face. Here it was that I exulted in my success ; about mending. But I could easily find she was no blot, no stain, appeared on any part of the faithnot earnest in the work; for as she repaired them ful mirror. As when the large unwritten page on one side, they generally broke out on another. presents its snowy spotless bosom to the writer's Thus, after three or four attempts, she began to hand, so appeared the glass to my view. Here, O make the ordinary use of the glass in settling her ye daughters of English ancestors, cried I, turn hair. hither, and behold an object worthy imitation; look upon the mirror now, and acknowledge its justice, and this woman's pre-eminence! The ladies, obeying the summons, came up in a group, and looking on, acknowledged there was some truth in the picture, as the person now represented had been deaf, dumb, and a fool from her cradle!
The company now made room for a woman of learning, who approached with a slow pace and solemn countenance, which, for her own sake, I could wish had been cleaner. Sir," cried the lady, flourishing her hand, which held a pinch of snuff, "I shall be enraptured by having presented to my view a mind with which I have so long studied to be acquainted; but, in order to give the sex a proper example, I must insist, that all the company may be permitted to look over my shoulder." bowed assent, and presenting the glass, showed the lady a mind by no means so fair as she had expected to see. Ill-nature, ill-placed pride, and spleen, were too legible to be mistaken. Nothing could be more amusing than the mirth of her female companions who had looked over. They had hated her from the beginning, and now the apartment echoed with a universal laugh. Nothing but a fortitude like her's could have withstood their raillery: she stood it, however; and when the burst was exhausted, with great tranquillity she assured the company, that the whole was a deceptio visus, and that she was too well acquainted with her own mind to believe any false representations from another. Thus saying, she retired with a sullen satisfaction, resolved not to mend her faults, but to write a criticism on the mental reflector.
This much of my dream I distinctly remember; the rest was filled with chimeras, enchanted casItles, and flying dragons, as usual. As you, my dear Fum Hoam, are particularly versed in the interpretation of those midnight warnings, what pleasure should I find in your explanation! But that our distance prevents: I make no doubt, however, but that, from my description, you will very much venerate the good qualities of the English ladies in general, since dreams, you know, go always by contraries. Adieu.
From Lien Chi Altangi, to Hingpo, a Slave in Persia."
YOUR last letters betray, a mind seemingly fond of wisdom, yet tempested up by a thousand various passions. You would fondly persuade me, that
I must own, by this time, I began myself to sus-my former lessons still influence your conduct, and pect the fidelity of my mirror; for, as the ladies ap- yet your mind seems not less enslaved than your peared at least to have the merit of rising early, body. Knowledge, wisdom, erudition, arts, and since they were up at five, I was amazed to find elegance, what are they but the mere trappings of nothing of this good quality pictured upon their the mind, if they do not serve to increase the hapminds in the reflection; I was resolved, therefore, piness of the possessor? A mind rightly instituted to communicate my suspicions to a lady whose in- in the school of philosophy, acquires at once the tellectual countenance appeared more fair than any stability of the oak, and the flexibility of the osier. of the rest, not having above seventy-nine spots in all, besides slips and foibles. I own, young woman," said I, "that there are some virtues upon
*This letter appears to be little more than a rhapsody of sen timents from Confucius. Vide the latin translation.
The truest manner of lessening our agonies, is to shrink from their pressure; is to confess that we feel them.
From Lien Chi Altangi, to ******, Merchant in Amsterdam.
HAPPENING some days ago to call at a painter's,
The fortitude of European sages is but a dream; for where lies the merit in being insensible to the strokes of fortune, or in dissembling our sensibility? to amuse myself in examining some pictures (I If we are insensible, that arises only from a happy had no design to buy), it surprised me to see a constitution; that is a blessing previously granted young Prince in the working-room, dressed in a by Heaven, and which no art can procure, no in- painter's apron, and assiduously learning the trade. stitutions improve. We instantly remembered to have seen each other; and, after the usual compliments, I stood by while he continued to paint on. As every thing done
If we dissemble our feelings, we only artificially endeavour to persuade others that we enjoy privileges which we actually do not possess. Thus, by the rich is praised; as Princes here, as well as while we endeavour to appear happy, we feel at in China, are never without followers, three or four once all the pangs of internal misery, and all the persons, who had the appearance of gentlemen, self-reproaching consciousness of endeavouring to were placed behind to comfort and applaud him at deceive. every stroke.
I know but of two sects of philosophers in the Need I tell, that it struck me with very disaworld that have endeavoured to inculcate that for- greeable sensations, to see a youth, who, by his stątitude is but an imaginary virtue; I mean the fol- tion in life, had it in his power to be useful to lowers of Confucius, and those who profess the thousands, thus letting his mind run to waste upon doctrines of Christ. All other sects teach pride canvass, and at the same time fancying himself under misfortunes; they alone teach humility. improving in taste, and filling his rank with proNight, says our Chinese philosopher, not more per decorum. surely follows the day, than groans and tears grow out of pain; when misfortunes therefore oppress, when tyrants threaten, it is our interest, it is our duty to fly even to dissipation for support, to seek redress from friendship, or seek redress from the best of friends who loved us into being.
As seeing an error, and attempting to redress it, are only one and the same with me, I took occasion, upon his lordship's desiring my opinion of a Chinese scroll, intended for the frame of a picture, to assure him, that a mandarine of China thought a minute acquaintance with such mechanical trifles below his dignity.
Philosophers, my son, have long declaimed against the passions, as being the source of all our miseries: they are the source of all our misfortunes, I own; but they are the source of our pleasures too; and every endeavour of our lives, and all the institutions of philosophy, should tend to this, not to dissemble an absence of passion, but to repel those which lead to vice, by those which direct to virtue.
This reply raised the indignation of some, and the contempt of others: I could hear the names of Vandal, Goth, taste, polite arts, delicacy, and fire, repeated in tones of ridicule or resentment. But considering that it was in vain to argue against people who had so much to say without contradict ing them, I begged leave to repeat a fairy tale. This request redoubled their laughter; but, not The soul may be compared to a field of battle, easily abashed at the raillery of boys, I persisted, where two armies are ready every moment to en- observing, that it would set the absurdity of placing counter; not a single vice but has a more powerful our affections upon trifles in the strongest point of opponent, and not one virtue but may be overborne view; and adding, that it was hoped the moral by a combination of vices. Reason guides the would compensate for its stupidity. For Heaven's bands of either host; nor can it subdue one pas-sake, cried the great man, washing his brush in sion but by the assistance of another. Thus as a water, let us have no morality at present; if we bark, on every side beset with storms, enjoys a must have a story, let it be without any moral. I state of rest, so does the mind, when influenced by pretended not to hear; and, while he handled the a just equipoise of the passions, enjoy tranquillity. brush, proceeded as follows:
I have used such means as my little fortune In the kingdom of Bonbobbin, which, by the would admit to procure your freedom. I have Chinese annals, appears to have flourished twenty lately written to the governor of Argun to pay thousand years ago, there reigned a prince enyour ransom, though at the expense of all the dowed with every accomplishment which generally wealth I brought with me from China. If we be- distinguishes the sons of kings. His beauty was come poor, we shall at least have the pleasure of brighter than the sun. The sun, to which he was bearing poverty together; for what is fatigue or nearly related, would sometimes stop his course, in famine, when weighed against friendship and free-order to look down and admire him. lom. Adieu.
His mind was not less perfect than his body: he
knew all things, without having ever read: phi-|little animals in the most beautiful ages enriched losophers, poets, and historians, submitted their with diamonds, rubies, emeralds, pearls, and other works to his decision; and so penetrating was he, precious stones: thus he innocently spent four that he could tell the merit of a book, by looking hours each day, in contemplating their innocent on the cover. He made epic poems, tragedies, and little pastimes. pastorals, with surprising facility; song, epigram, But to proceed. The Prince and Princess were or rebus, was all one to him, though it was observ-now in bed; one with all the love and expectation, ed he could never finish an acrostic. In short, the the other with all the modesty and fear, which is fairy who had presided at his birth endowed him natural to suppose; both willing, yet afraid to bewith almost every perfection, or what was just the gin; when the Prince, happening to look towards same, his subjects were ready to acknowledge he the outside of the bed, perceived one of the most possessed them all; and, for his own part, he knew beautiful animals in the world, a white mouse with nothing to the contrary. A Prince so accomplish-green eyes, playing about the floor, and performing ed, received a name suitable to his merit; and a hundred pretty tricks. He was already master he was called Bonbennin-bonbobbin-bonbobbinet, of blue mice, red mice, and even white mice, with which signifies, Enlightener of the Sun. yellow eyes; but a white mouse with green eyes, was what he had long endeavoured to possess; wherefore, leaping from bed with the utmost im
As he was very powerful, and yet unmarried, all the neighbouring kings earnestly sought his alliance. Each sent his daughter, dressed out in the patience and agility, the youthful Prince attempted most magnificent manner, and with the most to seize the little charmer, but it was fled in a mosumptuous retinue imaginable, in order to allure ment; for, alas! the mouse was sent by a disconthe Prince; so that at one time there were seen at tented Princess, and was itself a fairy. his court not less than seven hundred foreign Princesses, of exquisite sentiment and beauty, each alone sufficient to make seven hundred ordinary men happy.
It is impossible to describe the agony of the Prince upon this occasion; he sought round and round every part of the room, even the bed where the Princess lay was not exempt from the inquiry: Distracted in such a variety, the generous Bon- he turned the Princess on one side and the other, bennin, had he not been obliged by the laws of the stripped her quite naked, but no mouse was to be empire to make choice of one, would very willingly found: the Princess herself was kind enough to
have married them all, for none understood gal-assist, but still to no purpose.
lantry better. He spent numberless hours of soli- Alas, cried the young Prince in an agony, how citude in endeavouring to determine whom he unhappy am I to be thus disappointed! never sure should choose; one lady was possessed of every was so beautiful an animal seen: I would give half perfection, but he disliked her eyebrows; another my kingdom, and my Princess, to him that would was brighter than the morning star, but he disap-find it. The Princess, though not much pleased proved her fong-whang; a third did not lay white with the latter part of his offer, endeavoured to enough on her cheek; and a fourth did not suffi- comfort him as well as she could: she let him know tiently blacken her nails. At last, after number- that he had a hundred mice already, which ought less disappointments on the one side and the other, to be at least sufficient to satisfy any philosopher he made choice of the incomparable Nanhoa, like him. Though none of them had green eyes, Queen of the scarlet dragons. yet he should learn to thank heaven that they had The preparations for the royal nuptials, or the eyes. She told him (for she was a profound moenvy of the disappointed ladies, needs no descrip- ralist), that incurable evils must be borne, and that tion; both the one and the other were as great as useless lamentations were vain, and that man was they could be: the beautiful Princess was con-born to misfortunes: she even entreated him to reducted amidst admiring multitudes to the royal turn to bed, and she would endeavour to lull him couch, where, after being divested of every encum-on her bosom to repose; but still the Prince conbering ornament, she was placed, in expectance tinued inconsolable; and regarding her with a of the youthful bridegroom, who did not keep her stern air, for which his family was remarkable, he long in expectation. He came more cheerful than vowed never to sleep in the royal palace, or inthe morning, and printing on her lips a burning dulge himself in the innocent pleasures of matri. kiss, the attendants took this as a proper signal to mony, till he had found the white mouse with tho withdraw. green eyes.
Perhaps I ought to have mentioned in the be- Prithee, Colonel Leech, cried his lordship, ingining, that, among several other qualifications, terrupting me, how do you like that nose? dug t the Prince was fond of collecting and breeding you think there is something of the manner of mice, which, being a harmless pastime, none of his Rembrandt in it ?-A prince in all this agony for counsellors thought proper to dissuade him from: a white mouse, O ridiculous!-Dont you think, he therefore kept a great variety of these pretty Major Vampyre, that eyebrow stippled very pret