« AnteriorContinuar »
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 bosorn 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 ; The company now made room for a woman of look upon the mirror now, and acknowledge its learning, who approached with a slow pace and justice, and this woman's pre-eminence! The lasolemn countenance, which, for her own sake, 1 dies, obeying the summons, came up in a group, could wish had been cleaner. Sir," cried the lady, and looking on, acknowledged there was some fourishing her hand, which held a pinch of snuff, truth in the picture, as the person now represent"I shall be enraptured by having presented to my ed had been deaf, dumb, and a fool from her view a mind with which I have so long studied to cradle! be acquainted; but, in order to give the sex a pro- This much of my dream I distinctly remember; per example, I must insist, that all the company the rest was filled with chimeras, enchanted casmay be permitted to look over my shoulder." I tles, and flying dragons, as usual. As you, my boxed assent, and presenting the glass, showed the dear Fum Hoam, are particularly versed in the inlady a mind by no means so fair as she had expect- terpretation of those midnight warnings, what ed to see. Il-nature, ill-placed pride, and spleen, pleasure should I find in your explanation! But were too legible to be mistaken. Nothing could be that our distance prevents: I make no doubt, howmore amusing than the mirth of her female com- ever, but that, from my description, you will very panions who had looked over. They had hated much venerate the good qualities of the English her from the beginning, and now the apartment ladies in general, since dreams, you know, go al. echoed with a universal laugh. Nothing but a ways by contraries. Adieu. 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,
LETTER XLVII. and that he was too well acquainted with her own mind to believe any false representations from
From Lien Chi Aliangi, to Hingpo, a Slave in Persia." another. Thus saying, she retired with a sullen Your last letters betray a mind seemingly fond satisfaction, resolved not to mend her faults, but to of wisdom, yet tempested up by a thousand various write a criticism on the mental reflector.
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 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 wo- *This letter appears to be little more than a rhapsody of sen. man," said I, “that there are some virtues upon 'timents from Confucius. Vide use latin translation
The truest manner of lessening our agonies, is to shrink from their pressure; is to confess that we
LETTER XLVIII. feel them. The fortitude of European sages is but a dream;
From Lien Chi Altangi, to "***", Merchant in Amsterdam for where lies the merit in being insensible to the HAPPENING some days ago to call at a painter's, 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 ; If we dissemble our feelings, we only artificially and, after the usual compliments, I stood by while endeavour to persuade others that we enjoy privi- he continued to paint on. As every thing done leges 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 disa. world that have endeavoured to inculcate that for- greeable sensations, to see a youth, who, by his stetitude is but an imaginary virtue; I mean the fol- lion 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 ut the same time fancying himself under misfortunes; they alone teach humility. improving in taste, and filling his tank with proNight, says our Chinese philosopher, not more per decorum. surely follows the day, than groans and tears grow As seeing an error, and attempting to redress it, out of pain; when misfortunes therefore oppress, are only one and the same with me, I took occawhen tyrants threaten, it is our interest, it is our sion, upon his lordship's desiring my opinion of a duty to fly even to dissipation for support, to seek Chinese scroll
, intended for the frame of a picture, redress from friendship, or seek redress from the to assure him, that a mandarine of China thought best of friends who loved us into being.
a minute acquaintance with such mechanical trides Philosophers, my son, have long declaimed below his dignity. against the passions, as being the source of all our This reply raised the indignation of some, and miseries: they are the source of all our misfortunes, the contempt of others : I could hear the names of I own; but they are the source of our pleasures Vandal, Goth, taste, polite arts, delicacy, and fire, too; and every endeavour of our lives, and all the repeated in tones of ridicule or resentment. But institutions of philosophy, should tend to this, not considering that it was in vain to argue against to dissemble an absence of passion, but to repel people who had so much to say without contradictthose which lead to vice, by those which direct to ing them, I begged leave to repeat a fairy tale. virtue.
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. dom. Adieu.
His mind was not less perfect than his body: be
knew all things, without having ever read: phi-| little animals in the most beautiful cages enriched losophers, poets, and historians, submitted their with diamonds, rubies, emeralds, pearls, and other Forks 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 ame, 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,
As he was very powerful, and yet unmarried, all was what he had long endeavoured to possess; the neighbouring kings earnestly sought his alli- wherefore, leaping from bed with the utmost imance. 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 retinúe 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 Prin- It is impossible to describe the agony of the cesses, of exquisite sentiment and beauty, each Prince upon this occasion; he sought round and alone sufficient to make seven hundred ordinary round every part of the room, even the bed where men happy.
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
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 cently 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 be 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 stein air, for which his family was remarkable, ho 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 matrikiss the attendants took this as a proper signal to mony, till he had found the white mouse with the
green eyes. Perhaps I ought to have mentioned in the beI
Prithee, Colonel Leech, cried his lordship, ingining, that, among several other qualifications, terrupting me, how do you like that nose ? don'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, be therefore kept a great variety of these pretty Major Vampyre, that eyebrow stippled very pret
tily ?—but pray, what are the green eyes to the the whole story three times over; for she was hard purpose, except to amuse children? I would give of hearing. "Well,” says the old fairy, for such a thousand guineas to lay on the colouring of this she was, “I promise to put you in possession of cheek more smoothly. But I ask pardon ; pray, the white mouse with green eyes, and that immesir, proceed.
diately too, upon one condition.” “One condition," cried the prince in a rapture, "name a thou
sand; I shall undergo them all with pleasure." LETTER XLIX.
“Nay,” interrupted the old fairy, “I ask but one,
and that not very mortifying neither; it is only From the Same.
that you instantly consent to marry me." Kings, continued I, at that time were different It is impossible to express the Prince's confusion from what they are now; they then never engaged at this demand; he loved the mouse, but he detesttheir word for any thing which they did not rigor- /ed the bride; he hesitated; he desired time to think ously intend to perform. This was the case of upon the proposal : he would have been glad to Bonbennin, who continued all night to lament his consult his friends on such an occasion. Nay, misfortunes to the Princess, who echoed groan for nay," cried the odious fairy, "if you demur, I regroan. When morning came, he published an tract my promise ; I do not desire to force my faedict, offering half his kingdom, and his Princess, vours on any man. Here, you my attendants," to the person who should catch and bring him the cried she, stamping with her foot, "let my mawhite mouse with the green eyes.
chine be driven up; Barbacela, Queen of Emmets, The edict was scarcely published, when all the is not used to contemptuous treatment.” She had traps in the kingdom were baited with cheese; no sooner spoken, than her fiery chariot appeared numberless mice were taken and destroyed; but in the air, drawn by two snails; and she was just still the much-wished-for mouse was not among going to step in; when the Prince reflected, that the number. The privy-council was assembled now or never was the time to be possessed of the more than once to give their advice; but all their white mouse; and quite forgetting his lawful Prindeliberations came to nothing; even though there cess Nanhoa, falling on his knees, he implored were two complete vermin-killers, and three pro- forgiveness for having rashly rejected so much fessed rat-catchers of the number. Frequent ad- beauty. This well-timed compliment instantly apdresses, as is usual on extraordinary occasions, peased the angry fairy. She affected a hideous were sent from all parts of the empire; but though leer of approbation, and taking the young Prince these promised well, though in them he received an by the hand, conducted him to a neighbouring assurance, that his faithful subjects would assist in church, where they were married together in a his search with their lives and fortunes, yet, with moment. As soon as the ceremony was performall their loyalty, they failed when the time came ed, the prince, who was to the last degree desirous that the mouse was to be caught.
of seeing his favourite mouse, reminded the bride The Prince, therefore, was resolved to go him- of her promise. " To confess a truth, my Prince," self in search, determined never to lie two nights cried she, “I myself am that very white mouse in one place, till he had found what he sought for. you saw on your wedding-night in the royal apartThus, quitting his palace without attendants, he ment. I now, therefore, give you the choice, wheset out upon his journey, and travelled through ther you would have me a mouse by day, and a many a desert, and crossed many a river, over high woman by night, or a mouse by night, and a wohills, and down along vales, still restless, still in- man by day." Though the Prince was an excelquiring wherever he came; but no white mouse lent casuist, he was quite at a loss how to deterwas to be found.
mine, but at last thought it most prudent to have As one day, fatigued with his journey, he was recourse to a blue cat that had followed him from shading himself from the heat of the mid-day sun, his own dominions, and frequently amused him under the arching branches of a banana tree, medi- with its conversation, and assisted him with its adtating on the object of his pursuit, he perceived an vice; in fact, this cat was no other than the faithold woman, hideously deformed, approaching him; ful Princess Nanhoa herself
, who had shared with by her stoop, and the wrinkles of her visage, she him all his hardships in this disguise. seemed at least five hundred years old; and the By her instructions he was determined in his spotted toad was not more freckled than was her choice, and returning to the old fairy, prudently skin. "Ah! Prince Bonbennin-bonbobbin-bon- observed, that as she must have been sensible he bobbinet,” cried the creature, " what has led you had married her only for the sake of what she had, so many thousand miles from your own kingdom ? and not for her personal qualifications, he thought what is it you look for, and what induces you to it would for several reasons be most convenient, if travel into the kingdom of the Emmets? The she continued a woman by day and appeared a Prince, who was excessively complaisant, told her mouse by night.
The old fairy was a good deal mortified at her elsewhere; for, in this particular, several states in husband's want of gallantry, though she was re- Europe excel them; nor does it arise from a greater luctantly obliged to comply: the day was therefore exemption from taxes, for few countries pay more; spent in the most polite amusements, the gentleman it does not proceed from their being restrained by talked smut, the ladies laughed, and were angry. fewer laws, for no people are burdened with so At last, the happy night drew near, the blue cat many; nor does it particularly consist in the sestill stuck by the side of its master, and even fol- curity of their property, for property is pretty well lowed him to the bridal apartment. Barbacela en- secured in every polite state in Europe. tered the chamber, wearing a train fifteen yards How then are the English more free (for more long, supported by porcupines, and all over beset free they certainly are) than the people of any with jewels, which served to render her more de- other country, or under any other form of govern. testable. She was just stepping into bed to the ment whatever? Their freedom consists in their Prince, forgetting her promise, when he insisted enjoying all the advantages of democracy, with upon seeing her in the shape of a mouse. She this superior prerogative borrowed from monarchy, had promised, and no fairy can break her word; that the secerity of their laus may be related wherefore, assuming the figure of the most beau- without endangering the constitution. tiful mouse in the world, she skipped and played In a monarchical state, in which the constitution about with an infinity of amusement. The Prince, is strongest, the laws may be relaxed without danin an agony of rapture, was desirous of seeing his ger; for though the people should be unanimous in pretty play-fellow move a slow dance about the the breach of any one in particular, yet still there floor to his own singing; he began to sing, and the is an effective power superior to the people, capable mouse immediately to perform with the most per- of enforcing obedience, whenever it may be proper fect knowledge of time, and the finest grace and to inculcate the law either towards the support or greatest gravity imaginable; it only began, for Nan- welfare of the community. hoa, who had long waited for the opportunity in But in all those governments where laws derive the shape of a cat, flew upon it instantly without their sanction from the people alone, transgressions remorse, and eating it up in the hundredth part of can not be overlooked without bringing the constia moment, broke the charm, and then resumed her tution into danger. They who transgress the law natural figure.
in such a case, are those who prescribe it, by which The Prince now found that he had all along been meanis it loses not only its influence but its sancunder the power of enchantment, that his passion tion. In every republic the laws must be strong, for the white mouse was entirely fictitious, and not because the constitution is feeble; they must resemthe genuine complexion of his soul; he now saw ble an Asiatic husband, who is justly jealous, bethat his earnestness after mice was an illiberal cause he knows himself impotent. Thus in Holamusement, and much more becoming a rat-catcher land, Switzerland, and Genoa, new laws are not than a Prince. Al his meannesses now stared frequently enacted, but the old ones are observed him in the face; he begged the discreet Princess's with unremitting severity. In such republics, therepardon a hundred times. The Princess very rea- fore, the people are slaves to laws of their own dily forgave him; and both returning to their pa- making, little less than in unmixed monarchies, lace in Bonbobbin, lived very happily together, and where they are slaves to the will of one, subject to reigned many years with all that wisdom, which, frailties like themselves. by the story, th
appear to have been possessed In England, from a variety of happy accidents, of; perfectly convinced, by their former adventures, their constitution is just strong enough, or, if you that they who place their affections on trifics at will
, monarchical enough to permit a relaxation of first for amusement, will find those trifles at last the severity of laws, and yet those laws still to rebecome their most serious concern. Adieu. main sufficiently strong to govern the people. This
is the most perfect state of civil liberty of which we can form any idea: here we see a greater number
of laws than in any other country, while the people LETTER L.
at the same time obey only such as are immedi
ately conducive to the interests of society; several From Lien Chi Altangi, Fum Hoam, First President of the Ceremonial Academy at Pekin, in China.
are unnoticed; many unknown; some kept to be
revived and enforced upon proper occasions, others Ask an Englishman what nation in the world left to grow obsolete, even without the necessity enjoys most freedom, and he immediately answers, of abrogation. his own. Ask him in what that freedom princi- There is scarcely an Englishman who does not pally consists, and he is instantly silent. This almost every day of his life offend with impunity happy pre-eminence does not arise from the peo- against some express law, and for which, in a cerple's enjoying a larger share in legislation than tain conjuncture of circumstances, he would not