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But let us acquit them of malice and envy. A The rich in general were placed in the lowest critic is often guided by the same motives that di- seats, and the poor rose above them in degrees prorect his author. The author endeavours to per portioned to their poverty. The order of precesuade us, that he has written a good book; the dence seemed here inverted; those who were uncritic is equally solicitous to show that he could dermost all the day, now enjoyed a temporary emiwrite a better, had he thought proper. A critic is mence, and became masters of the ceremonies. It a being possessed of all the vanity, but not the ge- was they who called for the music, indulging every nius of a scholar; incapable, from his native weak- noisy freedom, and testifying all the insolence of ness, of lifting himself from the ground, he applies beggary in exaltation. to contiguous merit for support; makes the spor- They who held the middle region seemed not so tive sallies of another's imagination his serious riolous as those above them, nor yet so tame as those employment; pretends tơ take our feelings under below : to judge by their looks, many of them his care; teaches where to condemn, where to lay seemed strangers there as well as myself : they the emphasis of praise ; and may with as much were chiefly employed, during this period of erjustice be called a man of taste, as the Chinese pectation, in eating oranges, reading the story of who measures his wisdom by the length of his the play, or making assignations. nails.
Those who sat in the lowest rows, which are If, then, a book, spirited or humorous, happens called the pit, seemed to consider themselves as to appear in the republic of letters, several critics judges of the merit of the poet and the performers; are in waiting to bid the public not to laugh at a they were assembled partly to be amused, and single line of it; for themselves had read it, and partly to show their taste; appearing to labour unthey know what is most proper to excite laughter. der that restraint which an affectation of superior Other critics contradict the fulminations of this discernment generally produces. My companion, tribunal, call them all spiders, and assure the pub- however
, informed me, that not one in a hundred fic that they ought to laugh without restraint. of them knew even the first principles of criticism; Another set are in the mean time quietly employed that they assumed the right of being censors bein writing notes to the book, intended to show the cause there was none to contradict their preten. particular passages to be laughed at: when these sions; and that every man who now called himself are out, others still there are who write notes upon a connoisseur, became such to all intents and pur. notes : thus a single new book employs not only poses. the paper-makers, the printers, the pressmen, the Those who sat in the boxes appeared in the book-binders, the hawkers, but twenty critics, and most unhappy situation of all. The rest of the as many compilers. In short, the body of the audience came merely for their own amusement ; learned may be compared to a Persian army, where these, rather to furnish out a part of the entertainthere are many pioneers, several sutlers, number- ments themselves. I could not avoid considering less servants, women and children in abundance, them as acting parts in dumb show-not a courteand but few soldiers. Adieu.
sy or nod that was not the result of art; not a look nor a smile that was not designed for murder. Gentlemen and ladies ogled each other through
spectacles; for my companion observed, that blindLETTER XXI.
ness was of late become fashionable; all affected indifference and ease,
while their hearts at the same
time burned for conquest. Upon the whole, the The English are as fond of seeing plays acted lights, the music, the ladies in their gayest dresses, as the Chinese ; ' but there is a vast difference the men with cheerfulness and expectation in their in the manner of conducting them. We play our looks, all conspired to make a most agreeable picpieces in the open air, the English theirs under ture, and to fill a heart that sympathizes at human cover; we act by daylight, they by the blaze of torch-happiness with inexpressible serenity. es. One of our plays continues eight or ten days The expected time for the play to begin at last successively ; an English piece seldom takes up arrived; the curtain was drawn, and the actors above four hours in the representation.
came on. A woman, who personated a queen, My companion in black, with whom I am now came in courtseying to the audience, who clapped beginning to contract an intimacy, introduced me their hands upon her appearance. Clapping of a few nights ago to the play-house, where we hands, is, it seems, the manner of applauding in placed ourselves conveniently at the foot of the England ; the manner is absurd, but every country, stage. As the curtain was not drawn before my you know, has its peculiar absurdities. I was arrival, I had an opportunity of observing the be- equally surprised, however, at the submission of the haviour of the spectators, and indulging those re-actress, who should have considered herself as a flections which novelty generally inspires. I queen, as at the little discernment of the audience
To the Same.
who gave her such marks of applause before she sa villain said I, he must be a very stupid one to tell attempted to deserve them. Preliminaries between his secrets without being asked; such soliloquies of her and the audience being thus adjusted, the dia- late are never admitted in China. logue was supported between her and a most hope- The noise of clapping interrupted me once more: ful youth, who acted the part of her confidant. a child of six years old was learning to dance on They both appeared in extreme distress, for it the stage, which gave the ladies and mandarines seems the queen had lost a child some fifteen years infinite satisfaction. I am sorry, said I, to see the before, and still keeps its dear resemblance next pretty creature so early learning so bad a trade; her heart, while her kind companion bore a part in dancing being, I presume, as contemptible here as her sorrows.
in China. Quite the reverse, interrupted my comHer lamentations grew loud; comfort is offered, panion; dancing is a very reputable and genteel but she detests the very sound : she bids them employment here; men have a greater chance for preach comfort to the winds. Upon this her hus- encouragement from the merit of their heels than band comes in, who, seeing the queen so much their heads. One who jumps up and fourishes his affected, can himself hardly refrain from tears, or toes three times before he comes to the ground, may avoid partaking in the soft distress. After thus have three hundred a-year ; he who flourishes them grieving through three scenes, the curtain dropped four times, gets four hundred; but he who arrives for the first act:
at five is inestimable, and may demand what salary Truly, said I to mỹ companion, these kings and he thinks proper. The female dancers, too, are queens are very much disturbed at no very great mis- valued for this sort of jumping and crossing; and fortune : certain I am, were people of humbler sta- it is a cant word among them, that she deserves tions to act in this manner, they would be thought most who shows highest. But the fourth act is divested of common sense. I had scarcely finished begun; let us be attentive. this observation, when the curtain rose, and the In the fourth act the queen finds her long-lost king came on in a violent passion. His wife had, child, now grown up into a youth of smart parts it seems, refused his proffered tenderness, had and great qualifications; wherefore, she wisely spurned his royal embrace; and he seemed resolv- considers that the crown will fit his head better ed not to survive her fierce disdain. After he had than that of her husband, whom she knows to be thus fretted, and the queen had fretted through the a driveller. The king discovers her design, and second act, the curtain was let down once more. here comes on the deep distress; he loves the
Now, says my companion, you perceive the king queen, and he loves the kingdom; he resolves, to be a man of spirit; he feels at every pore : one therefore, in order to possess both, that her son must of your phlegmatic sons of clay would have given die. The queen exclaims at his barbarity, is frantic the queen her own way, and let her come to her with rage, and at length, overcome with sorrow, self by degrees; but the king is for immediate ten- falls into a fit; upon which the curtain drops, and derness, or instant death: death and tenderness the act is concluded. are leading passions of every modern buskined Observe the art of the poet, cries my companion. hero; this moment they embrace, and the next When the queen can say no more, she falls into a stab, mixing daggers and kisses in every period. fit. While thus her eyes are shut, while she is
I was going to second his remarks, when my at- supported in the arms of her abigail, what horrors tention was engrossed by a new object; a man do we not fancy! We feel it in every nerve; take came in balancing a straw upon his nose, and the au- my word for it, that fits are the true aposiopesis of dience were clapping their hands in all the raptures modern tragedy. of applause. To what purpose, cried I, does this The fifth act began, and a busy piece it was. unmeaning figure make his appearance ; is he a Scenes shifting, trumpets sounding, mobs halloopart of the plot? Unmeaning do you call him ? re-ling, carpets spreading, guards bustling from one plied my friend in black; this is one of the most door to another; gods, demons, daggers, racks, and important characters of the whole play; nothing ratsbane. But whether the king was killed, or the pleases the people more than seeing a straw bal- queen was drowned, or the son was poisoned, I anced : there is a great deal of meaning in the have absolutely forgotten. straw; there is something suited to every appre- When the play was over, I could not avoid obbension in the sight; and a fellow possessed of serving, that the persons of the drama appeared in talents like these is sure of making his fortune.. as much distress in the first act as the last : How
The third act now began with an actor who is it possible, said I, to sympathize with them came toinform us that he was the villain of the play, through five long acts! Pity is but a short-lived and intended to show strange things before all was passion; I hate to hear an actor mouthing trifles ; over. He was joined by another, who seemed as neither startings, strainings, nor attitudes affect much disposed for mischief as he : their intrigues me, unless there be cause : after I have been once continued through this whole division. If that be or twice deceived by those unmeaning alarms, my
To the same.
heart sleeps in peace, probably unaffected by the plundered it, and made those who escaped their first principal distress. There should be one great fury slaves. By those he was led into the extenpassion aimed at by the actor as well as the poet ; sive and desolate regions that border on the shores all the rest should be subordinate, and only contri- of the Aral lake. bute to make that the greater: if the actor, there- Here he lived by hunting; and was obliged to fore, exclaims upon every occasion in the tones of supply every day a certain proportion of the spel, despair, he attempts to move us too soon; he anti- to regale his savage masters. His learning, his cipates the blow, he ceases to affect, though he virtues, and even his beauty, were qualifications gains our applause.
that no way served to recommend him; they knew I scarcely perceived that the audience were al- no merit, but that of providing large quantities of most all departed; wherefore, mixing with the milk and raw flesh; and were sensible of no happicrowd, my companion and I got into the street; ness but that of rioting on the undressed meal. where, essaying a hundred obstacles from coach- Some merchants from Mesched, however, coming wheels and palanquin poles, like birds in their to trade with the Tartars for slaves, he was sold flight through the branches of a forest, after vari- among the number, and led into the kingdom of ous turnings we both at length got home in safety. Persia, where he is now detained. He is there Adieu.
obliged to watch the looks of a voluptuous and cruel master, a man fond of pleasure, yet incapable of refinement, whom many years' service in war has
taught pride, but not bravery. LETTER XXII.
That treasure which I still keep within my bosom, my child, my all that was left to me, is now
a slave.* Good Heavens, why was this? Why The letter which came by the way of Smyrna, have I been introduced into this mortal apartment, and which you sent me unopened, was from my to be a spectator of my own misfortunes, and the son. As I have permitted you to take copies of all misfortunes of my fellow-creatures? Wherever I those I sent to China, you might have made no turn, what a labyrinth of doubt, error, and disap ceremony in opening those directed to me. Either pointment appears! Why was I brought into bein joy or sorrow, my friend should participate in ing; for what purposes made; from whence have! my feelings. It would give pleasure to see a good come; whither strayed; or to what regions am I man pleased at my success ; it would give almost hastening? Reason can not resolve. It lends a equal pleasure to see him sympathise at my disap-ray to show the horrors of my prison, but not a pointment.
light to guide me to escape them. Ye boasted Every account I receive from the East seems to revelations of the earth, how little do you aid the come loaded with some new affliction. My wife inquiry! and daughter were taken from me, and yet I sus- How am I surprised at the inconsistency of the tained the loss with intrepidity; my son is made a magi! their two principles of good and evil affright slave among the barbarians, which was the only me. The Indian who bathes his visage in urine, blow that could have reached my heart : yes, I will and calls it piety, strikes me with astonishment. indulge the transports of nature for a little, in order The Christian who believes in three Gods is bighto show I can overcome them in the end. True ly absurd. The Jews, who pretend that deity is magnanimity consists not in Never falling, but pleased with the effusion of blood, are not less disin RISING every time we fall.
pleasing. I am equally surprised, that rational beWhen our mighty emperor had published his ings can come from the extremities of the earth, in displeasure at my departure, and seized upon all order to kiss a stone, or scatter pebbles. How conthat was mine, my son was privately secreted from trary to reason are those ! and yet all pretend to his resentment. Under the protection and guard-teach me to be happy. ianship of Fum Hoam, the best and the wisest of
Surely all men are blind and ignorant of truth. all the inhabitants of China, he was for some time Mankind wanders, unknowing his way, from instructed in the learning of the missionaries, and morning till evening. Where shall we turn after the wisdom of the East. But hearing of my ad- happiness; or is it wisest to desist from the pursuit! ventures, and incited by filial piety, he was resolved Like reptiles in a corner of some stupendous palace, to follow my fortunes, and share my distress.
we peep from our holes, look about us, wonder at He passed the confines of China in disguise, all we see, but are ignorant of the great architect's hired himself as a camel-driver to a caravan that design. O for a revelation of himself, for a plan of was crossing the deserts of Thibet, and was within his universal system! O for the reasons of our one day's journey of the river Laur, which divides that country from India, when a body of wander
This whole apostrophe seems most literally translaled ing Tartars falling unexpectedly upon the caravan, from Ambulaaohamed, the Arabian poei.
creation; or why were we created to be thus un- France, the individuals of each country plunder happy! If we are to experience no other felicity each other at sea without redress, and consequentbut what this life affords, then are we miserable in-ly feel that animosity against each other which deed; if we are born only to look about us, repine passengers do at a robber. They have for some and die, then has Heaven been guilty of injustice. time carried on an expensive war; and several capIf this life terminates my existence, I despise the tives have been taken on both sides: those made blessings of Providence, and the wisdom of the prisoners by the French have been used with cruelgiver: if this life be my all, let the following epitaph ty, and guarded with unnecessary caution; those be written on the tomb of Altangi: By my father's taken by the English, being much more numerous, crimes I received this; by my own crimes I bequeath were confined in the ordinary manner; and not it to posterity.
being released by their country men, began to feel all those inconveniences which arise from want of covering and long confinement.
Their countrymen were informed of their deLETTER XXIII.
plorable situation ; but they, more intent on annoy
ing their enemies than relieving their friends, reTo the Same.
fused the least assistance. The English now saw Yet, while I sometimes lament the case of hu-thousands of their fellow-creatures starving in manity, and the depravity of human nature, there every prison, forsaken by those whose duty it was now and then appear gleams of greatness that serve to protect them, labouring with disease, and withto relieve the eye oppressed with the hideous pros-out clothes to keep off the severity of the season. pects, and resemble those cultivated spots that are National benevolence prevailed over national anisometimes found in the midst of an Asiatic wilder- mosity; their prisoners were indeed enemies, but ness. I see many superior excellencies among the they were enemies in distress; they ceased to be English, which it is not in the power of all their hateful, when they no longer continued to be formifollies to hide: I see virtues, which in other coun- dable : forgetting, therefore, their national hatred, tries are known only to a few, practised here by the men who were brave enough to conquer, were every rank of people.
generous enough to forgive; and they whom all I know not whether it proceeds from their su- the world seemed to have disclaimed, at last found perior opulence that the English are more chari- pity and redress from those they attempted to subtable than the rest of mankind; whether by being due. A subscription was opened, ample charities possessed of all the conveniences of life themselves, collected, proper necessaries procured, and the poor they have more leisure to perceive the uneasy situ- gay sons of a merry nation were once more taught ation of the distressed; whatever be the motive, to resume their former gaiety. they are not only the most charitable of any other When I cast my eye over the list of those who nation, but most judicious in distinguishing the contributed on this occasion, I find the names alproperest objects of compassion.
most entirely English; scarcely one foreigner apIn other countries, the giver is generally influ- pears among the number. It was for Englishmen enced by the immediate impulse of pity; his gener- alone to be capable of such exalted virtue. I own, osity is exerted as much to relieve his own uneasy I can not look over this catalogue of good men and sensations as to comfort the object in distress. In philosophers
, without thinking better of myself, beEngland, benefactions are of a more general na- cause it makes me entertain a more favourable ture. Some men of fortune and universal benevo- opinion of mankind. I am particularly struck lence
proposo the proper objects; the wants and with one who writes these words upon the paper the inerits of the petitioners are canvassed by the that enclosed his benefaction: The mite of an people; neither passion nor pity find a place in the Englishman, a citizen of the world, to Frenchcool discussion; and charity is then only exerted men, prisoners of war, and naked. I only wish when it has received the approbation of reason. that he may find as much pleasure from his virtues
A late instance of this finely directed benevo- as I have done in reflecting upon them; that alone lence forces itself so strongly on my imagination, will amply reward him. Such a one, my friend, that it in a manner reconciles me to pleasure, and is an honour to human nature; he makes no prionce more makes me the universal friend of man. vate distinctions of party; all that are stamped
The English and French have not only politi- with the divine image of their Creator are friends cal
reasons to induce them to mutual hatred, but to him; he is a native of the world; and the emoften the more prevailing motive of private interest peror of China may be proud that he has such a to widen the breach. A war between other coun- countryman. tries is carried on collectively; army fights against To rejoice at the destruction of our enemies, is army, and a man's own private rescnument is lost a foible grafted upon human nature, and we must in that of the community: but in England and be permitted to indulge it ; the true way of atoning
for such an ill-founded pleasure, is thus to turn time, knowledge of a bedfellow, or hinderance of our triumph into an act of benevolence, and to business. testify our own joy by endeavouring to banish When I consider the assiduity of this profession, anxiety from others.
their benevolence amazes me. They not only in Hamti, the best and wisest emperor that ever general give their medicine for half value, but use filled the throne, after having gained three signal the most persuasive remonstrances to induce the victories over the Tartars, who had invaded his sick to come and be cured. Sure, there must be dominions, returned to Nankin in order to enjoy something strangely obstinate in an English pathe glory of his conquest. After he had rested for tient, who refuses so much health upon such easy some days, the people, who are naturally fond of terms: does he take a pride in being bloated with processions, impatiently expected the triumphant a dropsy? does he find pleasure in the alternations entry, which emperors upon such occasions were of an intermittent fever? or feel as much satisfacaccustomed to make: their murmurs came to the tion in nursing up his gout as he found pleasure emperor's car; he loved his people, and was will- in acquiring it? He must, otherwise he would ing to do all in his power to satisfy their just de- never reject such repeated assurances of instant sires. He therefore assured them, that he intend-relief. What can be more convincing than the ed, upon the next feast of the Lanterns, to exhibit manner in which the sick are invited to be well? one of the most glorious triumphs that had ever The doctor first begs the most earnest attention of been seen in China.
the public to what he is going to propose; he soThe people were in raptures at his condescen- lemnly affirms the pill was never found to want sion; and, on the appointed day, assembled at the success; he produces a list of those who have been gates of the palace with the most eager expecta- rescued from the grave by taking it: yet, notwithtions. Here they waited for some time, without standing all this, there are many here who now sceing any of those preparations which usually and then think proper to be sick. Only sick, die precede a pageant. The lantern, with ten thou- 1 say ? there are some who even think proper to sand tapers, was not yet brought forth; the fire- die! Yes, by the head of Confucius! they die; works, which usually covered the city walls, were though they might have purchased the healthnot yet lighted; the people once more began to restoring specific for half-a-crown at every corner. murmur at this delay, when, in the midst of their I am amazed, my dear Fum Hoam, that these impatience, the palace-gates flew open, and the doctors, who know what an obstinate set of people emperor himself appeared, not in splendour or they have to deal with, have never thought of atmagnificence, but in an ordinary habit, followed by tempting to revive the dead. When the living the blind, the maimed, and the strangers of the are found to reject their prescriptions, they ought city, all in new clothes, and each carrying in his in conscience to apply to the dead, from whom hand money enough to supply his necessities for they can expect no such mortifying repulses; they the year. The people were at first amazed, but would find in the dead the most complying patients soon perceived the wisdom of their king, who imaginable: and what gratitude might they not taught them, that to make one happy man was expect from the patient's son, now no longer an more truly great than having ten thousand captives heir, and his wife, now no longer a widow ! groaning at the wheels of his chariot. Adieu. Think not, my friend, that there is any thing
chimerical in such an attempt; they already perform cures equally strange. What can be more
truly astonishing, than to see old age restored to LETTER XXIV.
youth, and vigour to the most feeble constitutions ? Yet this is performed here every day: a simple
electuary effects these wonders, even without the Whatever may be the merits of the English in bungling ceremonies of having the patient boiled other sciences, they seem peculiarly excellent in up in a kettle, or ground down in a mill. the art of healing. There is scarcely a disorder Few physicians here go through the ordinary incident to humanity, against which they are not courses of education, but receive all their know. possessed with a most infallible antidote. The ledge of medicine by immediate inspiration from professors of other arts confess the inevitable in- Heaven. Some are thus inspired even in the tricacy of things; talk with doubt, and decide with womb; and what is very remarkable, understand hesitation ; but doubting is entirely unknown in their profession as well at three years old as at medicine; the advertising professors here delight threescore. Others have spent a great part of in cases of difficulty: be the disorder never so their lives unconscious of any latent excellence, desperate or radical, you will find numbers in till a bankruptcy, or a residence in gaol
, have every street, who, by levelling a pill at the part called their miraculous powers into exertion. And affected, promise a certain rurf, without loss of others still there are indebted to their superlativa
To the Same.