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The modest virgin, the prudent wife, or the she resided in quality of governess to his children; careful matron, are much more serviceable in life at once reconciling in her character unerring pruthan petticoated philosophers, blustering heroines, dence with surprising vivacity. or virago queens. She who makes her husband The old man, who regarded her as one of his and her children happy, who reclaims the one from own children, had her instructed in dancing and vice, and trains up the other to virtue, is a much music by the masters who attended the rest of his greater character than ladies described in romance, family; thus she continued to improve till he died, whose whole occupation is to murder mankind by which accident she was once more reduced to with shafts from their quiver or their eyes. pristine poverty. The country of Livonia was at
Women, it has been observed, are not naturally this time wasted by war, and lay in a most miserformed for great cares themselves, but to soften able state of desolation. Those calamities are ever ours. Their tenderness is the proper reward for most heavy upon the poor; wherefore Catharina, the dangers we undergo for their preservation; and though possessed of so many accomplishments, exthe case and cheerfulness of their conversation, our perienced all the miseries of hopeless indigence. desirable retreat from the fatigues of intense appli- Provisions becoming every day more scarce, and cation. They are confined within the narrow her private stock being entirely exhausted, she rehmits of domestic assiduity: and when they stray solved at last to travel to Marienburgh, a city of beyond them, they move beyond their sphere, and greater plenty. consequently without grace.
With her scanty wardrobe packed up in a walFame therefore has been very unjustly dispensed let, she set out on her journey on foot: she was to among the female sex. Those who least deserved walk through a region miserable by nature, but to be remembered meet our admiration and ap- rendered still more hideous by the Swedes and plause ; while many, who have been an honour to Russians, who, as each happened to become mashumanity, are passed over in silence. Perhaps no ters
, plundered it at discretion : but hunger had age has produced a stronger instance of misplaced taught her to despise the dangers and fatigues of fame than the present; the Semiramis and the the way. Thalestris of antiquity are talked of, while a modern One evening upon her journey, as she had entercharacter, infinitely greater than either, is un-ed a cottage by the way-side, to take up her lodging noticed and unknown.
for the night, she was insulted by two Swedish Catharina Alexowna, born near Derpat, a little soldiers, who insisted upon qualifying her, as they city in Livonia, was heir to no other inheritance termed it, to follow the camp. They might probably than the virtues and frugality of her parents. Her have carried their insults into violence, had not a father being dead, she lived with her aged mother subaltern officer, accidentally passing by, come in in their cottage covered with straw; and both, to her assistance; upon his appearing, the soldiers though very poor, were very contented. Here, re- immediately desisted; but her thankfulness was tired from the gaze of the world, by the labour of hardly greater than her surprise, when she instanther hands she supported her parent, who was now ly recollected in her deliverer, the son of the Luincapable of supporting herself
. While Catharina theran minister, her former instructor, benefactor, spun, the old woman would sit by and read some and friend. book of devotion ; thus, when the fatigues of the This was a happy interview for Catharina : the day were over, both would sit down contentedly little stock of money she had brought from home by their fire-side, and enjoy the frugal meal with was by this time quite exhausted; her clothes were vacant festivity.
gone, piece by piece, in order to satisfy those who Though her face and person were models of had entertained her in their houses : her generous perfection, yet her whole attention seemed bestow-countryman, therefore, parted with what he could ed upon her mind; her mother taught her to read, spare, to buy her clothes, furnished her with a and an old Lutheran minister instructed her in the horse, and gave her letters of recommendation to maxims and duties of religion. Nature had furnish- Mr. Gluck, a faithful friend of his father's, and ed her not only with a ready but a solid turn of superintendant at Marienburgh. Our beautiful thought
, not only with a strong but a right under- stranger had only to appear to be well received ; standing. Such truly female accomplishments she was immediately admitted into the superinprocured her several solicitations of marriage from tendant's family, as governess to his two daughters; the peasants of the country; but their offers were and though yet but severiteen, showed herself carefused ; for she loved her mother too tenderly to pable of instructing her sex, not only in virtue,
but politeness. Such was her good sense, and Catharina was fifteen when her mother died; beauty, that her master himself in a short time she now therefore left her cottage, and went to live offered her his hand, which to his great surprise with the Lutheran minister, by whom she had she thought proper to refuse. Actuated by a been instructed from her childhood. In his house principle of gratitude, she was resolved to marry
think of a separation.
her deliverer only, even though he had lost an arm, We now see Catharina, from the low mud-walland was otherwise disfigured by wounds in the ed cottage, empress of the greatest kingdom upon service.
earth. The poor solitary wanderer is now surIn order therefore to prevent further solicitations rounded by thousands, who find happiness in her from others, as soon as the officer came to town smile. She, who formerly wanted a meal, is now upon duty, she offered him her person, which he capable of diffusing plenty upon whole nations, accepted with transport, and their nuptials were To her fortune she owed a part of this pre-emisolemnized as usual. But all the lines of her for- nence, but to her virtues more. tune were to be striking: the very day on which She ever after retained those great qualities they were married, the Russians laid siege to which first placed her on a throne; and, while the Marienburgh. The unhappy soldier had now no extraordinary prince, her husband, laboured for time to enjoy the well-earned pleasures of matri- the reformation of his male subjects, she studied mony; he was called off, before consummation, to an in her turn the improvement of her own sex. She attack, from which he was never after seen to return. altered their dresses, introduced mixed assemblies,
In the mean time the siege went on with fury, instituted an order of female knighthood; and at aggravated on one side by obstinacy, on the other length, when she had greatly filled all the stations by revenge. This war between the two northern of empress, friend, wife, and mother, bravely died powers at that time was truly barbarous; the in- without regret, regretted by all. Adieu. nocent peasant, and the harmless virgin, often shared the fate of the soldier in arms. Marienburgh was taken by assault; and such was the fury
LETTER LXIII. of the assailants, that not only the garrison, but almost all the inhabitants, men, women, and child- From Lien Chi Altangi, to Fum Hoam, First President of the ren, were put to the sword: at length, when the Ceremonial Academy at Pekin, in China. carnage was pretty well over, Catharina was found In every letter I expect accounts of some new hid in an oven.
revolutions in China, some strange occurrence in She had been hitherto poor, but still was free; the state, or disaster among my private acquaintshe was now to conform to her hard fate, and learn ance. I open every packet with tremulous expecwhat it was to be a slave: in this situation, how-tation, and am agreeably disappointed when I find ever, she behaved with piety and humility; and my friends and my country continuing in felicity. though misfortunes had abated her vivacity, yet I wander, but they are at rest; they suffer few she was cheerful. The fame of her merit and re- changes but what pass in my own restless imaginasignation reached even Prince Menzikoff, the tion: it is only the rapidity of my own motion Russian general; he desired to see her, was struck gives an imaginary swiftness te objects which are with her beauty, bought her from the soldier her in some measure immoveable. master, and placed her under the direction of his Yet believe me, my friend, that even China itself own sister. Here she was treated with all the re- is imperceptibly degenerating from her ancient spect which her merit deserved, while her beauty greatness: her laws are now more venal, and her every day improved with her good fortune. merchants are more deceitful than formerly; the
She had not been long in this situation, when very arts and sciences have run to decay. Obserre Peter the Great paying the prince a visit, Cathari- the carvings on our ancient bridges, figures that na happened to come in with some dry fruits, add grace even to nature: there is not an artist now which she served round with peculiar modesty. in all the empire that can imitate their beauty. Our The mighty monarch saw, and was struck with manufactures in porcelain, too, are inferior to what her beauty. He returned the next day, called for we once were famous for; and even Europe now the beautiful slave, asked her several questions, begins to excel us. There was a time when China and found her understanding even more perfect was the receptacle for strangers; when all were than her person.
welcome who either came to improve the state, or He had been forced when young to marry from admire its greatness; now the empire is shut up motives of interest; he was now resolved to marry from every foreign improvement, and the very inpursuant to his own inclinations. He immediate- habitants discourage each other from prosecuting ly inquired the history of the fair Livonian, who their own internal advantages. was not yet eighteen. He traced her through the Whence this degeneracy in a state so little subvale of obscurity, through all the vicissitudes of her ject to external revolutions? how happens it that fortune, and found her truly great in them all. The China, which is now more powerful than ever, meanness of her birth was no obstruction to his which is less subject to foreign invasions, and even design: their nuptials were solemnized in private; assisted in some discoveries by her connexions with the Prince assuring his courtiers, that virtue alone Europe ; whence comes it, I say, that the empire is was the properest ladder to a throne.
thus declining so fast into barbarity?
From the Same.
This decay is surely from nature, and not the past; and such probably it will ever be. China, I result of voluntary degeneracy. In a period of have observed, has evidently begun to degenerate two or three thousand years she seems at proper from its former politeness; and were the learning intervals to produce great minds, with an effort of the Europeans at present candidly considered, resembling that which introduces the vicissitudes the decline would perhaps appear to have already of seasons. They rise up at once, continue for taken place. We should find among the natives an age, enlighten the world, fall like ripened of the West, the study of morality displaced for corn, and mankind again gradually relapse into mathematical disquisition, or metaphysical subtlepristine barbarity. We little ones look around, ties; we should find learning begin to separate from are amazed at the decline, seek after the causes the useful duties and concerns of life, while none of this invisible decay, attribute to want of en- ventured to aspire after that character, but they couragement what really proceeds from want of who know much more than is truly amusing or power, are astonished to find every art and every useful. We should find every great attempt supscience in the decline, not considering that autumn pressed by prudence, and the rapturous sublimity is over, and fatigued nature again begins to repose in writing cooled by a cautious fear of offence. We for some succeeding effort.
should find few of those daring spirits, who bravely Some periods have been remarkable for the pro- ventured to be wrong, and who are willing to hazard duction of men of extraordinary stature; others much for the sake of great acquisitions. Providence for producing some particular animals in great has indulged the world with a period of almost four abundance; some for excessive plenty; and others hundred years' refinement ; does it not now by deagain for seemingly causeless famine. Nature, grees sink us into our former ignorance, leaving us which shows herself so very different in her visible only the love of wisdom, while it deprives us of its productions, must surely differ also from herself in advantages? Adieu. the production of minds, and while she astonishes one age with the strength and stature of a Milo or a Maximin, may bless another with the wisdom of
LETTER LXIV. a Plato, or the goodness of an Antonine.
Let us not then attribute to accident the falling off of every nation, but to the natural revolution of things. Often in the darkest ages there has ap- The princes of Europe have found out a manpeared some one man of surprising abilities, who, ner of rewarding their subjects who have behaved with all his understanding, failed to bring his bar- well, by presenting them with about two yards of barous age into refinement: all mankind seemed blue riband, which is worn about the shoulder. to sleep, till nature gave the general call, and then They who are honoured with this mark of disthe whole world seemed at once roused at the tinction are called knights, and the king himself is voice; science triumphed in every country, and always the head of the order. This is a very fruthe brightness of a single genius seemed lost in a gal method of recompensing the most important galaxy of contiguous glory.
services: and it is very fortunate for kings that Thus the enlightened periods in every age have their subjects are satisfied with such trifling rebeen universal. At the time when China first be- wards. Should a nobleman happen to lose his gan to emerge from barbarity, the Western world leg in a battle, the king presents him with two was equally rising into refinement; when we had yards of riband, and he is paid for the loss of his our Yau, they had their Sesostris. In succeeding limb. Should an ambassador spend all his paterages, Confucius and Pythagoras seem born nearly nal fortune in supporting the honour of his countogether, and a train of philosophers then sprung try abroad, the king presents him with two yards up as well in Greece as in China. The period of of riband, which is to be considered as an equivarenewed barbarity began to have a universal spread lent to his estate. In short, while a European much about the same time, and continued for several king has a yard of blue or green riband left he centuries, till in the year of the Christian era 1400, need be under no apprehensions of wanting statesthe Emperor Yonglo arose to revive the learning men, generals, and soldiers. of the East; while about the same time, the Me- I can not sufficiently admire those kingdoms in dicean family laboured in Italy to raise infant genius which men with large patrimonial estates are wilfrom the cradle: thus we see politeness spreading ling thus to undergo real hardships for empty faover every part of the world in one age, and bar-vours. A person, already possessed of a compe" harity succeeding in another; at one period a blaze tent fortune, who undertakes to enter the career of of light diffusing itself over the whole world, and at ambition, feels many real inconveniences from his another all mankind wrapped up in the profoundest station, while it procures him no real happiness ignorance.
that he was not possessed of before. He could eat, Such has been the situation of things in times drink, and sleep, before he became a courtier, as
well, perhaps better, than when invested with his els." “No," replied the other; “but you have let authority. He could command flatterers in a pri- me look at them, and that is all the use you can vate station, as well as in his public capacity, and make of them yourself; so there is no difference indulge at home every favourite inclination, uncen- between us, except that you have the trouble of sured and unseen by the people.
watching them, and that is an employnient I don't What real good then does an addition to a for- much desire." Adieu. tune already sufficient procure? Not any. Could the great man, by having his fortune increased, increase also his appetites, then precedence might be attended with real amusement.
LETTER LXV. Was he, by having his one thousand made
From the Same, two, thus enabled to enjoy two wives, or eat two dinners; then, indeed, he might be excused for un- Thougu not very fond of seeing a pageant mydergoing some pain, in order to extend the sphere self, yet I am generally pleased with being in the of his enjoyments. But, on the contrary, he finds crowd which sees it: it is amusing to observe the his desire for pleasure often lessen, as he takes effect which such a spectacle has upon the variety pains to be able to improve it; and his capacity of of faces; the pleasure it excites in some, the envy enjoyment diminishes as his fortune happens to in others, and the wishes it raises in all. With increase.
this design, I lately went to see the entry of a Instead, therefore, of regarding the great with foreign ambassador, resolved to make one in the envy, I generally consider them with some share mob, to shout as they shouted, to fix with earnestof compassion. I look upon them as a set of good-ness upon the same frivolous objects, and particinatured, misguided people, who are indebted to us pate for a while in the pleasures and the wishes and not to themselves, for all the happiness they of the vulgar. enjoy. For our pleasure, and not their own, they Struggling here for some time, in order to be sweat under a cumbrous heap of finery; for our first to see the cavalcade as it passed, some one of pleasure the lackeyed train, the slow parading pa- the crowd unluckily happened to tread upon my geant, with all the gravity of grandeur, moves in shoe, and tore it in such a manner, that I was utreview : : a single coat, or a single footman, answers terly unqualified to march forward with the main all the purposes of the most indolent refinement as body, and obliged to fall back in the rear. Thus well; and those who have twenty may be said to rendered incapable of being a spectator of the show keep one for their own pleasure, and the other myself, I was at least willing to observe the specnineteen merely for ours. So true is the observa- tators, and limped behind like one of the invalids tion of Confucius, that we take greater pains to who follow the march of an army. persuade others that we are happy, than endea- In this plight, as I was considering the eagervouring to think so ourselves.
ness that appeared on every face; how some bustled But though this desire of being seen, of being to get foremost, and others contented themselves made the subject of discourse, and of supporting with taking a transient peep when they could: the dignities of an an exalted station, be trouble. how some praised the four black servants that were some enough to the ambitious; yet it is well for stuck behind one of the equipages, and some the society that there are men thus willing to exchange ribands that decorated the horses' necks in another, ease and safety for danger and a riband. We lose my attention was called off to an object more exnothing by their vanity, and it would be unkind to traordinary than any I had yet seen; a poor cobbler endeavour to deprive a child of its rattle. Ifa duke sat in his stall by the way side, and continued to or a duchess are willing to carry a long train for work while the crowd passed by, without testifying our entertainment, so much the worse for them- the smallest share of curiosity. I own his want of selves; if they choose to exhibit in public, with a attention excited nine: and as I stood in need of hundred lackeys and mamelukes in their equipage, his assistance, I thought it best to employ a philofor our entertainment, still so much the worse for sophic cobbler on this occasion. Perceiving my themselves: it is the spectators alone who give and business, therefore, he desired me to enter and sit receive the pleasure; they only are the sweating down, took my shoe in his lap, and began to mend figures that swell the pageant.
it with his usual indifference and taciturnity. A mandarine, who took much pride in appear- “How, my friend,” said I to him, “can you ing with a number of jewels on every part of his continue to work, while all those fine things are robe, was once accosted by an old sly Bonze, who, passing by your door ?" "Very fine they are, following him through several streets, and bowing master,” returned the cobbler, "for those that like often to the ground, thanked him for his jewels. them, to be sure; but what are all those fine things “What does the man mean ?" cried the manda- to me? You don't know what it is to be a cob rine : "Friend, I never gave thee any of my jew. bler, and so much the better for yourself. Your
bread is baked, you may go and see sights the " The first three years we used to quarrel about whole day, and eat a warm supper when you come this every day, and I always got the better; but home at night; but for me, if I should run hunt- she had a hard spirit, and still continued to hide as ing after all these fine folk, what should I get by usual: so that I was at last tired of quarrelling and my joumey but an appetite, and, God help me! getting the better, and she scraped and scraped at I have too much of that at home already, without pleasure, till I was almost starved to death. Her stirring out for it. Your people, who may eat four conduct drove me at last in despair to the ale-house ; meals a-day, and a supper at night, are but a bad here I used to sit with people who hated home like example to such a one as I. No, master, as God myself, drank while I had money left, and run in has called me into this world in order to mend old score when any body would trust me; till at last shoes, I have no business with fine folk, and they the landlady, coming one day with a long bill when no business with me.” I here interrupted him I was from home, and putting it into my wife's with a smile. "See this last, master," continues hands, the length of it effectually broke her heart. he, "and this hammer; this last and hammer are I searched the whole stall after she was dead for the two best friends I have in this world; nobody money, but she had hidden it so effectually, that else will be my friend, because I want a friend. with all my pains I could never find a farthing." The great folks you saw pass by just now have By this time my shoe was mended, and satisfyfive hundred friends, because they have no occasion ing the poor artist for his trouble, and rewarding for them: now, while I stick to my good friends him besides for his information, I took my leave, here, I am very contented; but when I ever so and returned home to lengthen out the amusement little run after sights and fine things, I begin to his conversation afforded, by communicating it to hate my work, I grow sad, and have no heart to my friend. Adicu. mend shoes any longer."
This discourse only served to raise my curiosity to know more of a man whom nature had thus
LETTER LXVI. formed into a philosopher. I therefore insensibly led him into a history of his adventures: “I have From Lien Chi Altangi to Hingpo, by the way of Moscow. lived," said he, "a wandering sort of a life now five-and-fifty years, here to-day, and gone to-mor- GENEROSITY properly applied will supply every row; for it was my misfortune, when I was young, other external advantage in life, but the love of to be fond of changing.” “You have been a tra- those we converse with: it will procure esteem, and veller, then, I presume,” interrupted I. “I can not a conduct resembling real affection; but actual boast much of travelling,” continued he, "for I love is the spontaneous production of the mind; no have never left the parish in which I was born but generosity can purchase, no rewards increase, nor three times in my life, that I can remember; but no liberality continue it: the very person who is then there is not a street in the whole neighbour- obliged, has it not in his power to force his linhood that I have not lived in, at some time or gering affections upon the object he should love, another. When I began to settle and to take and voluntarily mix passion with gratitude. to my business in one street, some unforeseen mis- Imparted fortune, and well-placed liberality, may fortune, or a desire of trying my luck elsewhere, procure the benefactor good-will, may load the perhas removed me, perhaps a whole mile away from son obliged with the sense of the duty he lies under my former customers, while some more lucky cob- to retaliate ; this is gratitude: and simple gratitude, bler would come into my place, and make a hand-untinctured with love, is all the return an ingenusome fortune among friends of my making there ous mind can bestow for former benefits. was one who actually died in a stall that I had left, But gratitude and love are almost opposite affecworth seven pounds seven shillings, all in hardtions; love is often an involuntary passion, placed gold, which he had quilted into the waistband of upon our companions without our consent, and his breeches."
frequently conferred without our previous esteem. I could not but smile at these migrations of a We love some men, we know not why; our tenman by the fire-side, and continued to ask if he had derness is naturally excited in all their concerns; ever been married. Ay, that I have, master," we excuse their faults with the same indulgence, replied he, "for sixteen long years; and a weary and approve their virtues with the same applause life I had of it, Heaven knows. My wife took it with which we consider our own. While we eninto her head, that the only way to thrive in this tertain the passion, it pleases us, cherish it with world was to save money, so, though our comings- delight, and give it up with reluctance; and love in was but about three shillings a-week, all that ever for love is all the reward we expect or desire. she could lay her hands upon she used to hide away Gratitude, on the contrary, is never conferred, from me, though we were obliged to starve the but where there have been previous endeavours to whole week after for it.
excite it; we consider it as a debt, and our spirits