« PreviousContinue »
that those tails entailed on them and their posteri- The pretext of the war is about some lands á ty for erer. It is certain that the author had some thousand leagues off': a country cold, desolate, and ground for this description. Many of the English hideous; a country belonging to a people who were wear tails to their wigs to this very day, as a mark, in possession for time immemorial. The savages I suppose, of the antiquity of their families, and of Canada claim a property in the country in dis. perhaps as a symbol of those tails with which they pute; they have all the pretensions which long poswere formerly distinguished by nature.
session can confer. Here they had reigned for You see, my friend, there is nothing so ridicu- ages without rivals in dominion, and knew no enebus that has not at some time been said by some mies but the prowling bear or insidious tiger ; their philosopher. The writers of books in Europe seem native forests produced all the necessaries of life, to think themselves authorized to say what they and they found ample luxury in the enjoyment. In please; and an ingenious philosopher among them* this manner they might have continued to live to has openly asserted, that he would undertake to eternity, had not the English been informed that persuade the whole republic of readers to believe, those countries produced furs in great abundance. that the sun was neither the cause of light nor heat, From that moment the country became an object if he could only get six philosophers on his side. of desire: it was found that furs were things very Farewell
much wanted in England; the ladies edged some
of their clothes with furs, and muffs were worn both by gentlemen and ladies. In short, furs were found
indispensably necessary for the happiness of the LETTER XVII.
state ; and the king was consequently petitioned to From the same.
grant, not only the country of Canada, but all the
savages belonging to it, to the subjects of England, Were an Asiatic politician to read the treaties in order to have the people supplied with proper of peace and friendship that have been annually quantities of this necessary commodity. making for more than a hundred years among the So very reasonable a request was immediately inhabitants of Europe, he would probably be sur-complied with, and large colonies were sent abroad prised how it should ever happen that Christian to procure furs, and take possession. The French, princes could quarrel among each other. Their who were equally in want of furs (for they were compacts for peace are drawn up with the utmost as fond of muffs and tippets as the English), made precision, and ratified with the greatest solemnity; the very same request to their monarch, and met to these each party promises a sincere and in- with the same gracious reception from their king, violable obedience, and all wears the appearance of who generously granted what was not his to give. open friendship and unreserved reconciliation.
Wherever the French landed they called the counYet
, notwithstanding those treaties, the people try their own; and the English took possession of Europe are almost continually at war. There wherever they came, upon the same equitable preis nothing more easy than to break a treaty ratified tensions. The harmless savages made no opposiin all the usual forms, and yet neither party be the tion; and, could the intruders have agreed together, aggressor. One side, for instance, breaks a trifling they might peaceably have shared this desolate article by mistake; the opposite party, upon this, country between them ; but they quarrelled about makes a small but premeditated reprisal; this brings the boundaries of their settlements, about grounds on a return of greater from the other; both sides and rivers to which neither side could show any complain of injuries and infractions; war is de- other right than that of power, and which neither clared; they beat ; are beaten; some two or three could occupy but by usurpation. Such is the conhundred thousand men are killed; they grow tired; test, that no honest man can heartily wish success leave off just where they began; and so sit coolly to either party. down to make new treaties.
The war has continued for some time with vaThe English and French seem to place them- rious success. At first the French seemed victoselves foremost among the champion states of rious; but the English have of late dispossessed Europe. Though parted by a narrow sea, yet are them of the whole country in dispute. Think not, they entirely of opposite characters; and from their however, that success on one side is the harbinger yicinity are taught to fear and admire each other. of peace; on the contrary, both parties must be They are at present engaged in a very destructive heartily tired, to effect even a temporary reconciliaWar
, have already spilled much blood, are excessive- tion. It should seem the business of the victorious ly irritated, and all upon account of one side's de- party to offer terms of peace; but there are many sining to wear greater quantities of furs than the in England who, encouraged by success, are for
still protracting the war.
The best English politicians, however, are sen. sible, that to keep their present conquosts would be
rather a burden than an advantage to them ; rather There seems very little difference between a a diminution of their strength than an increase of Dutch bridegroom and a Dutch husband. Both power. It is in the politic as in the human consti- are equally possessed of the same cool unexpecting tution : if the limbs grow too large for the body, serenity; they can see neither Elysium nor Paratheir size, instead of improving, will diminish the dise behind the curtain ; and Yiffrou is not more vigour of the whole. The colonies should always a goddess on the wedding-night, than after twenty bear an exact proportion to the mother country: years matrimonial acquaintance. On the other hand when they grow populous, they grow powerful, many of the English marry in order to have one and by becoming powerful, they become inde- happy month in their lives; they seem incapable pendent also ; thus subordination is destroyed, and of looking beyond that period; they unite in hopes a country swallowed up in the extent of its own of finding rapture, and disappointed in that, disdominions. The Turkish empire would be more dain ever to accept of happiness. From hence we formidable, were it less extensive; were it not for see open håtred ensue ; or what is worse, concealed those countries which it can neither command, nor disgust under the appearance of fulsome endeargive entirely away; which it is obliged to protect, ment. Much formality, great civility, and studied but from which it has no power to exact obedience. compliments are exhibited in public; cross looks,
Yet, obvious as these truths are, there are many sulky silence, or open recrimination, fill up their Englishmen who are for transplanting new colo- hours of private entertainment. nies into this late acquisition, for peopling the de- Hence I am taught, whenever I see a netserts of America with the refuse of their country- married couple more than ordinarily fond before men, and (as they express it) with the waste of an faces, to consider them as attempting to impose exuberant nation. But who are those unhappy upon the company or themselves; either hating creatures who are to be thus drained away? Not each other heartily, or consuming that stock of love the sickly, for they are unwelcome guests abroad as in the beginning of their course, which should well as at home; nor the idle, for they would serve them through their whole journey. Neither starve as well behind the Apalachian mountains side should expect those instances of kindness as in the streets of London. This refuse is com- which are inconsistent with true freedom or happosed of the laborious and enterprising, of such piness to bestow. Love, when founded in the men as can be serviceable to their country at home, heart, will show itself in a thousand unpremediof men who ought to be regarded as the sinews of tated sallies of fondness; but every cool deliberate the people, and cherished with every degree of po- exhibition of the passion, only argues, little underlitical indulgence. And what are the commodi-standing, or great insincerity. ties which this colony, when established, are to Choang was the fondest husband, and Hansi, produce in return ? why, raw silk, hemp, and to the most endearing wife in all the kingdom of Ko bacco. England, therefore, must make an ex- rea: they were a pattern of conjugal bliss; the in change of her best and bravest subjects for raw habitants of the country around saw, and envied silk, hemp, and tobacco; her hardy veterans and their felicity; wherever Choang came, Hansi was honest tradesmen must be trucked for a box of sure to follow; and in all the pleasures of Hansi, snuff and a silk petticoat. Strange absurdity ! Choang was admitted a partner. They walked Sure the politics of the Daures are not more strange hand in hand wherever they appeared, showing who sell their religion, their wives, and their liber- every mark of mutual satisfaction, embracing, ty, for a glass bead, or a paltry penknife. Fare- kissing, their mouths were forever joined, and, to well.
speak in the language of anatomy, it was with them one perpetual anastomosis.
Their love was so great, that it was thought noLETTER XVII.
thing could interrupt their mutual peace; when
an accident happened, which, in some measure, Tas English love their wives with much pas- diminished the husband's assurance of his wife's sion, the Hollanders with much prudence; the fidelity; for love so refined as his was subject to a English, when they give their hands, frequently thousand little disquietudes. give their hearts; the Dutch give the hand but Happening to go one day alone among the tombs keep the heart wisely in their own possession. that lay at some distance from his house, he there The English love with violence, and expect vio- perceived a lady dressed in the deepest mourning lent love in return; the Dutch are satisfied with (being clothed all over in white), fanning the wet the slightest acknowledgment, for they give little clay that was raised over one of the graves with a away. The English expend many of the matri- large fan which she held in her hand. Choang, monial comforts in the first year ; the Dutch fru- who had early been taught wisdom in the school gally husband out their pleasures, and are always of Lao, was unable to assign a cause for her preconstant because they are always indifferent. sent employment : and coming up civilly demanded
From the Same.
the reason. Alas! replied the lady, her eyes'| law for his interment. In the meantime, Hansi hatbed in tears, how is it possible to survive the and the young disciple were arrayed in the most loss of my husband, who lies buried in this grave! inagnificent habits ; the bride wore in her nose a he was the best of men, the tenderest of husbands; jewel of immense price, and her lover was dressed with his dying breath he bid me never marry again in all the finery of his former master, together with till the earth over his grave should be dry; and here a pair of artificial whiskers that reached down to Fou see me steadily resolving to obey his will, and his toes. The hour of their nuptials was arrived; endeavouring to dry it with my fan. I have em- the whole family sympathized with their approachpłoged two whole days in fulfilling his commands, ing happiness; the apartments were brightened up and am determined not to marry till they are punc- with lights that diffused the most exquisite pertually obeyed, even though his grave should take fume, and a lustre more bright than noon-day. up four days in drying.
The lady expected her youthful lover in an inner Choang, who was struck with the widow's beau- apartment with impatience; when his servant, apty, could not, however, avoid smiling at her baste proaching with terror in his countenance, informed to be married; but concealing the cause of his her, that his master was fallen into a fit which mirth, civilly invited her home, adding, that he had would certainly be mortal, unless the heart of a man a wife who might be capable of giving her some lately dead could be obtained, and applied to his consolation. As soon as he and his guest were re- breast. She scarcely waited to hear the end of his turned, he imparted to Hansi in private what he story, when tucking up her clothes, she ran with a had seen, and could not avoid expressing his unea. mattock in her hand to the coffin where Choang siness, that such might be his own case if his dear- lay, resolving to apply the heart of her dead hus. est wife should one day happen to survive him. band as a cure for the living. She therefore struck
It is impossible to describe Hansi's resentment at the lid with the utmost violence. In a few blows so unkind a suspicion. As her passion for him the coffin flew open, when the body, which to all was not only great, but extremely delicate, she em- appearance had been dead, began to move. Terployed tears, anger, frowns, and exclamations, to rified at the sight, Hansi dropped the mattock, and chide his suspicions; the widow herself was in- Choang walked out, astonished at his own situaVeighed against ; and Hansi declared, she was re- tion, his wife's unusual magnificence, and her more salted never to sleep under the same roof with a amazing surprise. He went among the apartwretch, who, like her, could be guilty of such bare- ments
, unable to conceive the cause of so much faced inconstancy. The night was cold and stormy; splendour. He was not long in suspense before however, the stranger was obliged to seek another his domestics informed him of every transaction kdging, for Choang was not disposed to resist, and since he first became insensible. He could scarcely Hansi would have her way.
believe what they told him, and went in pursuit The widow had scarcely been gone an hour, of Hansi herself, in order to receive more certain when an old disciple of Choang's whom he had not information, or to reproach her infidelity. But she seen for many years, came to pay him a visit. He prevented his reproaches : he found her weltering was received with the utmost ceremony, placed in in blood; for she had stabbed herself to the heart, the most honourable seat at supper
, and the wine being unable to survive her shame and disappointbegan to circulate with great freedom. Choang ment. and Hansi exhibited open marks of mutual tender- Choang, being a philosopher, was too wise to ness, and unfeigned reconciliation : nothing could make any loud lamentations : he thought it best to equal their apparent happiness ; so fond a husband, bear his loss with serenity; so, mending up the old so obedient a wife, few could behold without re- coffin where he had lain himself, he placed his gretting their own infelicity: when, lo! their hap faithless spouse in his room; and, unwilling that piness was at once disturbed by a most fatal acci- so many nuptial preparations should be expended dent
. Choang fell lifeless in an apoplectic fit upon in vain, he the same night married the widow the floor. Every method was used, but in vain, for with the large fan.
recovery. Hansi was at first inconsolable for As they both were apprised of the foibles of each his death : after some hours
, however, she found other beforehand, they knew how to excuse them spirits to read his last will. The ensuing day, she after marriage. They lived together for many began to moralize and talk wisdom; the next day, years in great tranquillity, and not expecting rapshe was able to comfort the young disciple
, and, ture, made a shift to find contentment. Farewell. on the third, to shorten a long story, they both agreed to be married.
LETTER XIX. There was now no longer mourning in the apartments ; the body of Choang was now thrust into an old coffin, and placed in one of the meanest rooms, The gentleman dressed in black, who was my there to lie unattended until the time prescribed by companion through Westminster Abbey, came yes
To the Same.
terday to pay me a visit ; and after drinking tea, we such delinquents? Psha, man, replied be, smiling, both resolved 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 flew 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, even 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 be. rel without a second. He was furious, and she have most wisely in such circumstances. The loud; their noise had gathered all the mob, who wife promises her husband never to let him see ber charitably assembled on the occasion, not to pre- transgressions of this nature ; and he as punctually vent, but to enjoy the quarrel.
promises, 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 from my heart ; her hus- transgresses, is beaten, taken again into lavour, 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 l; 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 belwife 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 make 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 hy all his neigh-ends with the bridegroom's taking it; upon which bours into the bargain. The men will laugh at the lady drops a courtesy in token of obedience, him, 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 I; 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
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 doing 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 the
learned to unite society more closely, and to perLETTER XX.
suade men to become citizens of the world; but From the same.
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 name. ters 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 at- 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.
npon 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 assistant in 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 throughhad 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 inen : and their jarring constitution, instead of less, 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 pleasing and judicious, It is true, 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 innagine, that such as are possessed of fame themwith each other about dividing the spoil. Here selves
, should be most ready to declare their opiyou 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 sospectable name, most frequently reproaching each licitous only of raising their own reputatior.s, 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- every reputation down to a level with their own.