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receive punishment. Gaming houses, preaching into an exuberance of power themselves, and the at prohibited places, assembled crowds, nocturnal public become actually dependent, while some of its amusements, public shows, and a hundred other individuals only governed. instances, are forbid and frequented. These pro- If then, my friend, there should in this country hibitions are useful; though it be prudent in their ever be on the throne a king, who, through goodmagistrates, and happy for the people, that they nature or age, should give up the smallest part of are not enforced, and none but the venal or merce- his prerogative to the people; if there should come nary attempt to enforce them.
a minister of merit and popularity—but I have The law in this case, like an indulgent parent, room for no more. Adieu. still keeps the rod, though the child is seldom corrected. Were those pardoned offences to rise into enormity, were they likely to obstruct the happiness of society, or endanger the state, it is then that jus
LETTER LI. tice would resume her terrors, and punish those
To the Same. faults she had so often overlooked with indulgence. It is to this ductility of the laws that an English- As I was yesterday scated at breakfast over a man owes the freedom he enjoys superior to others pensive dish of tea, my meditations were interruptin a more popular government: every step there-ed by my old friend and companion, who introduced fore the constitution takes towards a democratic a stranger, dressed pretty much like himself. The form, every diminution of the legal authority is, in gentleman made several apologies for his visit, besfact, a diminution of the subject's freedom; but ged of me to impute his intrusion to the sincerity every attempt to render the government more popu- of his respect, and the warmth of his curiosity. lar, not only impairs natural liberty, but even will As I am very suspicious of my company when at last dissolve the political constitution.
I find them very civil without any apparent reason, Every popular government seems calculated to I answered the stranger's caresses at first with relast only for a time; it grows rigid with age, new serve; which my friend perceiving, instantly let me laws are multiplying, and the old continue in force; into my visitant's trade and character, asking Mr. the subjects are oppressed, and burdened with a Fudge, whether he had lately published any thing multiplicity of legal injunctions; there are none new? I now conjectured that my guest was no from whom to expect redress, and nothing but a other than a bookseller, and his answer confirmel strong convulsion in the state can vindicate them my suspicions. into former liberty: thus, the people of Rome, a "Excuse me, sir," says he, “it is not the season; few great ones excepted, found more real freedom books have their time as well as cucumbers. I under their emperors, though tyrants, than they would no more bring out a new work in summer had experienced in the old age of the common than I would sell pork in the dog-days. Nothing wealth, in which their laws were become numerous in my way goes off in summer, except very light and painful, in which new laws were every day goods indeed. A review, a magazine, or a sessions enacting, and the old ones executed with rigour. paper, may amuse a summer reader; but allour stock They even refused to be reinstated in their former of value we reserve for a spring and winter trade." prerogatives, upon an offer made them to this pur- I must confess, sir, says I, a curiosity to know what pose; for they actually found emperors the only you call a valuable stuck, which can only bear a means of softening the rigours of their constitu- winter perusal. “Sir," replied the bookseller, " it tion.
is not my way to cry up my own goods; but, withThe constitution of England is at present pos- out exaggeration, I will venture to show with any sessed of the strength of its native oak, and the of the trade; my books at least have the peculiar flexibility of the bending tamarisk; but should the advantage of being always new; and it is my way people at any time, with a mistaken zeal, pant after to clear off my old to the trunk-makers every seaan imaginary freedom, and fancy that abridging son. I have ten new title-pages now about me, monarchy was increasing their privileges, they which only want books to be added to make them would be very much mistaken, since every jewel the finest things in nature. Others may pretend plucked from the crown of majesty would only be to direct the vulgar; but that is not my way; 1 almade use of as a bribe to corruption; it might en- was let the vulgar direct me; wherever popular rich the few who shared it among them, but would clamour arises, I always echo the million. For in fact impoverish the public.
instance, should the poople in general say, that As the Roman senators, by slow and impercepti- such a man is a rogue, I instantly give orders to set ble degrees, became masters of the people, yet still him down in print a villain; thus every man buys flattered them with a show of freedom, while them- the book, not to learn new sentiments, but to have selves only were free; so it is possible for a body the pleasure of seeing his own reflected.” Bul, sit, of men, while they stand up for privileges, to grow interrupted I, you speak as if you yourself wrde
the books you published ; may I be so bold as to ask “I once had an author who never left the least e sight of some of those intended publications which opening for the critics! close was the word, always are shortly to surprise the world? “As to that, very right, and very dull, ever on the safe side of an sur," replied the talkative bookseller, "I only draw argument; yet with all his qualifications incapable out the plans myself; and, though I am very cau- of coming into favour. I soon perceived that his tious of communicating them to any, yet, as in the bent was for criticism; and, as he was good for noend I have a favour to ask, you shall see a few of thing else, supplied him with pens and paper, and them. Here, sir, here they are; diamonds of the first planted him at the beginning of every month as a water, I assure you. Imprimis, a translation of censor on the works of others. In short, I found him several medical precepts for the use of such physi-a treasure; no merit could escape him : but what is cians as do not understand Latin. Item, the young most remarkable of all, he ever wrote best and bitclergyman's art of placing patches regularly, with terest when drunk.” But are there not some a dissertation on the different manners of smiling works, interrupted I, that from the very manner without distorting the face. Item, the whole art of their composition, must be exempt from critiof love made perfectly easy, by a broker of 'Change cism; particularly such as profess to disregard Alley. Item, the proper manner of cutting black- its laws? “There is no work whatsoever but what lead pencils, and making crayons; by the Right Hon. he can criticise,” replied the bookseller; "even the Earl of ***. Item, the muster-master-general, though you wrote in Chinese he would have a pluck or the review of reviews" Sir, cried I, inter- at you. Suppose you should take it into your head rupting him, my curiosity with regard to title-to publish a book, let it be a volume of Chinese letpages is satisfied; I should be glad to see some ters, for instance: write how you will, he shall longer manuscript, a history or an epic poem. show the world you could have written better. " Bless me," cries the man of industry, "now you Should you, with the most local exactness, stick to speak of an epic poem, you shall see an excellent the manners and customs of the country from farce. Here it is; dip into it where you will, it whence you come; should you confine yourself to will be found replete with true modern humour. the narrow limits of Eastern knowledge, and be Strokes, sir ; it is filled with strokes of wit and perfectly simple, and perfectly natural, he has then satire in every line." Do you call these dashes the strongest reason to exclaim. He may with a of the pen, strokes, replied I, for I must confess I sneer send you back to China for readers. He may can see no other? "And pray, sir," returned he, observe, that after the first or second letter, the "what do you call them? Do you see any thing iteration of the same simplicity is insupportably tegood now-a-days, that is not filled with strokes— dious; but the worst of all is, the public in such a and dashes?
—Sir, a well-placed dash makes half case will anticipate his censures, and leave you, the wit of our writers of modern humour. I bought with all your uninstructive simplicity, to be mauled a piece last season that had no other merit upon at discretion." earth than nine hundred and ninety-five breaks, Yes, cried I, but in order to avoid his indigseventy-two ha ha's, three good things, and a gar- nation, and what I should fear more, that of the ter. And yet it played off, and bounced, and public, I would, in such a case, write with all the cracked, and made more sport than a fire-work." | knowledge I was master of. As I am not possessed I fancy, then, sir, you were a considerable gainer? of much learning, at least I would not suppress "It must be owned the piece did pay; but upon what little I had; nor would I appear more stupid. the whole, I can not much boast of last winter's than nature has made me. Here then," cries success: I gained by two murders; but then I lost the bookseller, "we should have you entirely by an ill-timed charity sermon. I was a considera- in our power: unnatural, uneastern ; quite out of ble sufferer by my Direct Road at an Estate, but character; erroneously sensible would be the whole the Infernal Guide brought me up again. Ah, sir, cry; sir, we should then hunt you down like a rat." that was a piece touched off by the hand of a mas- Head of my father! said I, sure there are but two ter; filled with good things from one end to the ways; the door must either be shut, or il must be other. The author had nothing but the jest in open. I must be either natural or unnatural. view; no dull moral lurking beneath, nor ill-natur- "Be what you will
, we shall criticise you," returned satire to sour the reader's good-humour; he ed the bookseller, "and prove you a dunce in spite wisely considered, that moral and humour at the of your teeth. But, sir, it is time that I should same time were quite overdoing the business." To come to business. I have just now in the press a hiswhat
purpose was the book then published? “Sir, story of China ; and if you will but put your name to the book was published in order to be sold; and it as the author, I shall repay the obligation with no book sold better, except the criticisms upon it, gratitude.” What, sir, replied I, put my name to which came out soon after; of all kind of writings a work which I have not written! Never, while 1 that goes off best at present; and I generally fasten retain a proper respect for the public and myself. e criticism upon every selling book that is published. The bluntness of my reply quite abated the ardour
To the Same.
of the bookseller's conversation; and after about| My friend in black, indeed, did not behave with half an hour's disagreeable reserve, he with some the same deference, but contradicted the finest of ceremony, took his leave, and withdrew. Adieu. them all in the most peremptory tones of contempt.
But I had scarcely time to wonder at the impru
dence of his conduct, when I found occasion to be LETTER LII.
equally surprised at the absurdity of theirs; for, upon the entry of a middle-aged man, dressed in a cap, dirty shirt, and boots, the whole circle seemed
diminished of their former importance, and conIn all other countries, my dear Fum Hoam, the tended who should be first to pay their obeisance rich are distinguished by their dress. In Persia, to the stranger. They somewhat resembled a China, and most parts of Europe, those who are circle of Kalmues offering incense to a bear. possessed of much gold or silver, put some of it Eager to know the cause of so much seeming upon their clothes; but in England, those who contradiction, I whispered my friend out of the carry much upon their clothes are remarked for room, and found that the august company consisthaving but little in their pockets. A tawdry out- ed of no other than a dancing-master, two fiddlers, side is regarded as a badge of poverty; and those and a third-rate actor, all assembled in order to who can sit at home, and gloat over their thousands make a set at country-dances; and the middle-aged in silent satisfaction, are generally found to do it in gentleman whom I saw enter was a 'squire from plain clothes.
the country, and desirous of learning the new manThis diversity of thinking from the rest of the ner of footing, and smoothing up the rudiments of world which prevails here, I was at first at a loss his rural minuet. to account for; but am since informed, that it was I was no longer surprised at the authority which introduced by an intercourse between them and my friend assumed among them, nay, was even their neighbours the French; who, whenever they displeased (pardon my Eastern education) that he came in order to pay these islanders a visit, were had not kicked every creature of them down stairs. generally very well dressed, and very poor, daubed “What,” said I, “shall a set of such paltry fellows with lace, but all the gilding on the outside. By dress themselves up like sons of kings, and claim this means, laced clothes have been brought so even the transitory respect of half an hour! There much into contempt, that at present even their should be some law to restrain so manifest a breach mandarines are ashamed of finery.
of privilege; they should go from house to house, I must own myself a convert to English sim- as in China, with the instruments of their proplicity; I am no more for ostentation of wealth fession strung round their necks; by this means than of learning: the person who in company we might be able to distinguish and treat them in a should pretend to be wiser than others, I am apt style of becoming contempt.” Hold, my friend, to regard as illiterate and ill-bred; the person whose replied my companion, were your reformation to clothes are extremely fine, I am too apt to consider take place, as dancing-masters and fiddlers now as not being possessed of any superiority of fortune, mimic gentlemen in appearance, we should then but resembling those Indians who are found to find our fine gentlemen conforming to theirs. A wear all the gold they have in the world, in a bob beau might be introduced to a lady of fashion, with at the nose.
a fiddle-case hanging at his neck by a red riband; I was lately introduced into a company of the and instead of a cane, might carry a fiddle-stick. best dressed men I have seen since my arrival. Though to be as dull as a first-rate dancing-master, Upon entering the room, I was struck with awe at might be used with proverbial justice; yet, dull as the grandeur of the different dresses. That per- he is, many a fine gentleman sets him up as the sonage, thought I, in blue and gold, must be some proper standard of politeness ; copies not only the emperor's son; that in green and silver, a prince pert vivacity of his air, but the flat insipidity of his of the blood : he in embroidered scarlet, a prime conversation. In short, if you make a law against minister; all first-rate noblemen, I suppose, and dancing-masters imitating the fine gentleman, you well-looking noblemen too. I sat for some time should with as much reason enact, that no fine with that uneasiness which conscious inferiority gentleman shall imitate the dancing-master. produces in the ingenuous mind, all attention to After I had left my friend, I made towards home, their discourse. However, I found their conversa- reflecting as I went upon the difficulty of distintion more vulgar than I could have expected from guishing men by their appearance. Invited, howpersonages of such distinction : if these, thought I ever, by the freshness of the evening, I did not reto myself
, be princes, they, are the most stupid turn directly, but went to ruminate on what had princes I have ever conversed with: yet still I con- passed in a public garden belonging to the city. tinued to venerate their dress ; for dress has a kind Here, as I sat upon one of the benches, and felt of mechanical influence on the mind.
the pleasing sympathy which nature in blown in
spires, a disconsolate figure, who sat on the other imagination, even beyond the efforts of the Chinese end of the seat, seemed no way to enjoy the sereni- themselves. How were we enraptured with those ty of the season.
bold figures which sent every sentiment with force His dress was miserable beyond description : a to the heart. How have we spent whole days tothreadbare coat of the rudest materials; a shirt, gether, in learning those arts by which European though clean, yet extremely coarse; hair that writers got within the passions, and led the reader seemed to have been long unconscious of the comb; as if by enchantment. and all the rest of his equipage impressed with the But though we have learned most of the rhetorimarks of genuine poverty..
cal figures of the last age, yet there seems to be one As he continued to sigh, and testify every symp- or two of great use here, which have not yet traveltom of despair, I was naturally led, from a motive led to China. The figures I mean are called of humanity, to offer comfort and assistance. You Baudry and Pertness: none are more fashionable; know my heart; and that all who are miserable none so sure of admirers; they are of such a namay claim a place there. The pensive stranger ture, that the merest blockhead, by a proper use of at first declined my conversation ; but at last, per- them, shall have the reputation of a wit; they lie ceiving a peculiarity in my accent and manner of level to the meanest capacities, and address those thinking, he began to unfold himself by degrees. passions which all have, or would be ashamed to
I now found that he was not so very, miserable disown. as he at first appeared; upon my offering him a It has been observed, and I believe with some truth, small piece of money, he refused my favour, yet that it is very difficult for a dunce to obtain the rewithout appearing displeased at my intended gener-putation of a wit; yet, by the assistance of the osity. It is true, he sometimes interrupted the figure Baudry, this may be easily effected, and a conversation with a sigh, and talked pathetically of bawdy blockhead often passes for a fellow of smart neglected merit; yet still I could perceive a serenity parts and pretensions. Every object in nature in his countenance, that, upon a closer inspection, helps the jokes forward, without scarcely any effort bespoke inward content.
of the imagination. If a lady stands, something Upon a pause in the conversation, I was going very good may be said upon that; if she happens to take my leave, when he begged I would favour to fall, with the help of a little fashionable prurienhim with my company home to supper. I was cy, there are forty sly things ready on the occasurprised at such a demand from a person of his sion. But a prurient jest has always been found appearance, but willing to indulge curiosity, I ac- to give most pleasure to a few very old gentlemen, cepted his invitation; and, though I felt some re- who, being in some measure dead to other sensapugnance at being seen with one who appeared so tions, feel the force of the allusion with double very wretched, went along with seeming alacrity. violence on the organs of risibility. Still as he approached nearer home, his good hu
An author who writes in this manner is generalmour proportionably seemed to increase. At last ly sure therefore of having the very old and the he stopped, not at the gate of a hovel, but of a mag- impotent among his adınirers; for these he may nificent palace! When I cast my eyes upon all the properly be said to write, and from these he ought sumptuous elegance which every where presented to expect his reward; his works being often a very upon entering, and then when I looked at my seem- proper succedaneum to cantharides, or an asafætiing miserable conductor, I could scarcely think that da pill. His pen should be considered in the same all this finery belonged to him; yet in fact it did. light as the squirt of an apothecary, both being Numerous servants ran through the apartments directed to the same generous end. with silent assiduity; several ladies of beauty, and But though this manner of writing be perfectly magnificently dressed, came to welcome his return; adapted to the taste of gentlemen and ladies of a most elegant supper was provided : in short, 1 fashion here, yet still it deserves greater praise in found the person whom a little before I had sin being equally suited to the most vulgar apprehencerely pitied, to be in reality a most refined epicure, sions. The very ladies and gentlemen of Benin one who courted contempt abroad, in order to or Caffraria are in this respect tolerably polite, and feel with keener gust the pleasure of pre-eminence might relish a prurient joke of this kind with critiat home. Adieu.
cal propriety; probably too with higher gust, as they wear neither breeches nor petticoats to intercept the application.
It is certain I never could have thought the laLETTER LIII.
dies here, biassed as they are by education, capable From the Same
at once of bravely throwing off their prejudices,
and not only applauding books in which this figure How often have we admired the eloquence of makes the only merit, but even adopting it in their Europe! that strength of thinking, that delicacy of own conversation. Yet so it is: the pretty innocents now carry those books openly in their hands, |of ingenuity, no other mechanical help but downwhich formerly were hid under the cushion : they (right obscenity will suffice. By speaking of some now lisp their double meanings with so much grace, peculiar sensations, we are always sure of exciting and talk over the raptures they bestow with such laughter, for the jest does not lie in the writer, but little reserve, that I am sometimes reminded of a in the subject. custom among the entertainers in China, who think But Bawdry is often helped on by another figure, it a piece of necessary breeding to whet the appe- called Pertness; and few indeed are found to excel tites of their guests, by letting them smell dinner in one that are not possessed of the other. in the kitchen, before it is served up to table. As in common conversation, the best way to
The veneration we have for many things, en- make the audience laugh is by first laughing yoartirely proceeds from their being carefully concealed. self; so in writing, the properest manner is to show Were the idolatrous Tartar permitted to lift the an attempt at humour, which will pass upon most veil which keeps his idol from view, it might be a for humour in reality. To effect this, readers must certain method to cure his future superstition: with be treated with the most perfect familiarity: in one what a noble spirit of freedom, therefore, must that page the author is to make them a low bow, and writer be possessed, who bravely paints things as in the next to pull them by the nose; he must tak they are, who lifts the veil of modesty, who dis- in riddles, and then send them to bed in order to plays the most hidden recesses of the temple, and dream for the solution. He must speak of himself, shows the erring people that the object of their vows and his chapters, and his manner, and what he is either, perhaps, a mouse or a monkey! would be at, and his own importance, and his mo
However, though this figure be at present so ther's importance, with the most unpitying proliximuch in fashion; though the professors of it are so ty; and now and then testifying his contempt for much caressed by the great, those perfect judges all but himself, smiling without a jest, and without of literary excellence; yet it is confessed to be only wit professing vivacity. Adieu. a revival of what was once fashionable here before. There was a time, when by this very manner of writing, the gentle Tom Durfey, as I read in English authors, acquired his great reputation, and
LETTER LIV. became the favourite of a king.
From the Same. The works of this original genius, though they never travelled abroad to China, and scarcely have Though naturally pensive, yet I am fond of gay reached posterity at home, were once found upon company, and take every opportunity of thus disevery fashionable toilet, and made the subject of missing the mind from duty. From this motive, polite, I mean very polite conversation. “ Has your I am often found in the centre of a crowd; and grace seen Mr. Durfey's last new thing, the Oylet wherever pleasure is to be sold, am always a purHole? A most facetious piece !-Sure, my lord, chaser. In those places, without being remarked all the world must have seen it; Durfey is cer- by any, I join in whatever goes forward ; work my tainly the most comical creature alire. It is im- passions into a similitude of frivolous earnestness, possible to read his things and live. Was there shout as they shout, and condemn as they happen ever any thing so natural and pretty, as when the to disapprove. A mind thus sunk for a while be'Squire and Bridget meet in the cellar? And low its natural standard, is qualified for stronger then the difficulties they both find in broaching flights, as those first retire who would spring forthe beer-barrel are so arch and so ingenious: We ward with greater vigour. have certainly nothing of this kind in the lan- Attracted by the serenity of the evening, my guage.” In this manner they spoke then, and in friend and I lately went to gaze upon the company this manner they speak now; for though the suc- in one of the public walks near the city. Here we cessor of Durfey does not excel him in wit, the sauntered together for some time, either praising world must confess he outdoes him in obscenity. the beauty of such as were handsome, or the
There are several very dull fellows, who, by a dresses of such as had nothing else to recommend few mechanical helps, sometimes learn to become them. We had gone thus deliberately forward for extremely brilliant and pleasing, with a little dex- some time, when stopping on a sudden, my friend terity in the management of the eyebrows, fingers, caught me by the elbow, and led me out of the and nose. By imitating a cat; a sow and pigs; by public walk. I could perceive by the quickness of a loud laugh, and a slap on the shoulder, the most his pace, and by his frequently looking behind, that ignorant are furnished out for conversation. But he was attempting to avoid somebody who followed: the writer finds it impossible to throw his winks, we now turned to the right, then to the left; as we his shrugs, or his attitudes, upon paper; he may went forward he still went faster, but in vain; the borrow some assistance, indeed, by printing his face person whom he attempted to escape hunted us at the title-pago; but without wit, to pass for a man through every doubling, and gained upon us each