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a good one, increased the temptation ; so I gave or- vacity in every eye, not excepting even the childders for that too.
ren; the people, it seems, have got it into their As I was waiting to have my bargains measured heads, that they have more wit than others, and so and cut, which, I know not how, they executed but stare in order to look smart. slowly, during the interval the mercer entertained I know not how it happens, but there appears a me with the modern manner of some of the nobility sickly delicacy in the faces of their finest women. receiving company in their morning-gowns; “Per- This may have introduced the use of paint, and haps, sir,” adds he, "you have a mind to see what paint produces wrinkles; so that a fine lady shall kind of silk is universally worn." Without wait- look like a hag at twenty-three. But as, in some ing for my reply, he spreads a piece before me, measure, they never appear young, so it may be which might be reckoned beautiful even in China. equally asserted, that they actually think them"If the nobility," continues he, “were to know I selves never old; a gentle miss shall prepare for sold this to any under a Right Honourable, 1 new conquests at sixty, shall hobble a rigadoon should certainly lose their custom; you see, my when she can scarcely walk out without a crutch; lord, it is at once rich, tasty, and quite the thing.” she shall affect the girl, play her fan and her eyes, —“I am no lord,” interrupted I.—"I beg pardon,” and talk of sentiments, bleeding hearts, and excried he; "but be pleased to remember, when you piring for love, when actually dying with age. intend buying a morning-gown, that you had an Like a departing philosopher, she attempts to offer from me of something worth money. Con- make her last moments the most brilliant of her science, sir, conscience, is my way of dealing; you life. may buy a morning-gown now, or you may stay Their civility to strangers is what they are chieftill they become dearer and less fashionable; but it ly proud of; and to confess sincerely, their beggars is not my business to advise.” In short, most are the very politest beggars I ever knew: in other reverend Fum, he persuaded me to buy a morning- places, a traveller is addressed with a piteous whine, gown also, and would probably have persuaded me or a sturdy solemnity, but a French beggar shall to have bought half the goods in his shop, if I had ask your charity with a very genteel bow, and stayed long enough, or was furnished with suf- thank you for it with a smile and shrug.
Another instance of this people's breeding I must Upon returning home, I could not help reflect- not forget. An Englishman would not speak his ing, with some astonishment, how this very man, native language in a company of foreigners, where with such a confined education and capacity, was he was sure that none understood him; a travelling yet capable of turning me as he thought proper, Hottentot himself would be silent if acquainted and moulding me to his inclinations! I knew he only with the language of his country: but a was only answering his own purposes, even while Frenchman shall talk to you whether you underhe attempted to appear solicitous about mine; yet, stand his language or not; never troubling his head by a voluntary infatuation, a sort of passion, com- whether you have learned French, still he keeps pounded of vanity and good-nature, I walked into up the conversation, fixes his eye full in your face, the snare with my eyes open, and put myself to and asks a thousand questions, which he answers future pain in order to give him immediate pleasure. himself
, for want of a more satisfactory reply. The wisdom of the ignorant somewhat resembles But their civility to foreigners is not half so great the instinct of animals; it is diffused in but a very as their admiration of themselves. Every thing narrow sphere, but within that circle it acts with that belongs to them and their nation is great, vigour, uniformity, and success. Adieu. magnificent beyond expression, quite romantic!
every garden is a paradise, every hovel a palace,
and every woman an angel. They shut their eyes
close, throw their mouths wide open, and cry out LETTER LXXVIII.
in a rapture, "Sacré! what beauty !-0 Ciel! From the Same.
what taste !--mort de ma vie! what grandeur !
was ever any people like ourselves? we are the naFrom my former accounts, you may be apt to tion of men, and all the rest no better than twofancy the English the most ridiculous people under legged barbarians.” the sun. They are indeed ridiculous; yet every I fancy the French would make the best cooks other nation in Europe is equally so; each laughs in the world if they had but meat: as it is, they at each, and the Asiatic at all.
can dress you out five different dishes from a nettleI may, upon another occasion, point out what is pot, seven from a dock-leaf, and twice as many from most strikingly absurd in other countries; I shall a frog's haunches; these eat prettily enough when at present contine myself only to France. The one is a little used to them, are easy of digestion, first national peculiarity a traveller meets upon en- and seldom overload the stomach with crudities. tering that kingdom, is an odd sort of staring vi-They seldom dine under seven hot dishes: it is
true, indeed, with all this magnificence, they sel- finest manner; one courtesies to the ground, the dom spread a cloth before the guests; but in that I other salutes the audience with a smile; one comes can not be angry with them, since those who have on with modesty which asks, the other with boldgot no linen on their backs may very well be ex- ness which extorts, applause; one wears powder, cused for wanting it upon their tables.
the other has none; one has the longest waist, but Even religion itself loses its solemnity among the other appears most easy: all, all is important them. Upon their roads, at about every tive miles and serious; the town as yet perseveres its neudistance, you see an image of the Virgin Mary, trality; a cause of such moment demands the most dressed up in grim head-clothes, painted cheeks, mature deliberation ; they continue to exhibit, and and an old red petticoat; before her a lamp is often it is very possible this contest may continue to kept burning, at which, with the saint's permission, please to the end of the season. I have frequently lighted my pipe. Instead of the But the generals of either army have, as I am Virgin, you are sometimes presented with a cruci- told, several reinforcements to lend occasional asfix, at other times with a wooden Saviour, fitted sistance. If they proluce a pair of diamond buckles out in complete garniture, with sponge, spear, at one house, we have a pair of eyebrows that nails, pincers, hammer, bees' wax, and vinegar-can match them at the other. If we outdo them in bottle. Some of those images, I have been told, our attitude, they can overcome us by a shrug; if came down from heaven; if so, in heaven they have we can bring more children on the stage, they can but bungling workmen.
bring more guards in red clothes, who strut and In passing through the towns, you frequently shoulder their swords to the astonishment of every see the men sitting at the doors knitting stockings, spectator. while the care of cultivating the ground and pruning. They tell me here, that people frequent the the vines falls to the women. This is, perhaps, theatre in order to be instructed as well as amused. the reason why the fair sex are granted some pe. I smile to hear the assertion. If I ever go to one culiar privileges in this country; particularly, when of their playhouses, what with trumpets, hallooing they can get horses, of riding without a side- behind the stage, and bawling upon it, I am quite saddle.
dizzy before the performance is over. If I enter the But I begin to think you may find this descrip-house with any sentiments in my head, I am sure tion pert and dull enough; perhaps it is so, yet, in to have none going away, the whole mind being general, it is the manner in which the French filled with a dead march, a funeral procession, a usually describe foreigners; and it is but just to cat-call, a jig, or a tempest. force a part of that ridicule back upon them which There is, perhaps, nothing more easy than to they attempt to lavish on others. Adieu. write properly for the English theatre; I am amazed
that none are apprenticed to the trade. The author, when well acquainted with the value of
thunder and lightning; when versed in all the mysLETTER LXXIX.
tery of scene-shifting and trap-doors; when skilled in the proper periods to introduce a wire-walker or
a waterfall; when instructed in every actor's peThe two theatres, which serve to amuse the culiar talent, and capable of adapting his speeches citizens here, are again opened for the winter. to the supposed excellence; when thus instructed, The mimetic troops, different from those of the he knows all that can give a modern audience state, begin their campaign when all the others pleasure. One player shines in an exclamation, quit the field; and, at a time when the Europeans another in a groan, a third in a horror, a fourth in cease to destroy each other in reality, they are en- a start, a fifth in a smile, a sixth faints, and a tertained with mock battles upon the stage. seventh fidgets round the stage with peculiar vi
The dancing master once more shakes hisquiver- vacity; that piece, therefore, will succeed best, ing feet; the carpenter prepares his paradise of where each has a proper opportunity of shining; pasteboard; the hero resolves to cover his forehead the actor's business is not so much to adapt himwith brass, and the heroine begins to scour up her self to the poet, as the poet's to adapt himself to the copper tail, preparative to future operations; in actor. short, all are in motion, from the theatrical letter- The great secret, therefore, of tragedy-writing, carrier in yellow clothes, to Alexander the Great at present, is a perfect acquaintance with theatrithat stands on a stool.
cal ahs and ohs; a certain number of these, interBoth houses have already commenced hostilities. spersed with gods ! tortures! racks! and damnaWar, open war, and no quarter received or given! tion! shall distort every actor almost into convul. Two singing women, like heralds, have begun the sions, and draw tears from every spectator; a proper contest; the whole town is divided on this solemn use of these will infallibly fill the whole house with occasion; one has the finest pipe, the other the applause. But, aboye all, a whining scene must
From the Same.
must strike most forcibly. I would advise, from severe laws, and those too executed with severity my present knowledge of the audience, the two fa- (as in Japan), is under the most terrible species of vourite players of the town to introduce a scene of tyranny; a royal tyrant is generally dreadful to the this sort in every play. Towards the middle of the great, but numerous penal laws grind every rank last act, I would have them enter with wild looks of people, and chiefly those least able to resist opand outspread arms: there is no necessity for pression, the poor. speaking, they are only to groan at each other, they It is very possible thus for a people to become must vary the tones of exclamation and despair slaves to laws of their own enacting, as the Athethrough the whole theatrical gamut, wring their nians were to those of Draco. “It might first figures into every shape of distress, and when their happen,” says the historian, " that men with pecalamities have drawn a proper quantity of tears culiar talents for villany attempted to evade the from the sympathetic spectators, they may go off ordinances already established: their practices, in dumb solemnity at different doors, clasping their therefore, soon brought on a new law levelled hands, or slapping their pocket holes; this, which against them; but the same degree of cunning may be called a tragic pantomime, will answer which had taught the knave to evade the former every purpose of moving the passions as well as statutes, taught him to evade the latter also; he words could have done, and it must save those ex- flew to new shifts, while Justice pursued with new penses which go to reward an author. ordinances; still, however, he kept his proper
disAl modern plays that would keep the audience tance, and whenever one crime was judged penal alive, must be conceived in this manner; and, in- by the state, he left committing it, in order to pracdeed, many a modern play is made up on no other tise some unforbidden species of villany. Thus plan. This is the merit that lists up the heart, like the criminal against whom the threatenings were opium, into a rapture of insensibility, and can dis- denounced always escaped free, while the simple miss the mind from all the fatigue of thinking: this rogue alone felt the rigour of justice. In the mean is the eloquence that shines in many a long-forgot- time, penal laws became numerous; almost every ten scene, which has been reckoned excessively person in the state, unknowingly, at different times fine upon acting; this is the lightning that flashes offended, and was every moment subject to a mano less in the hyperbolical tyrant "who breakfasts licious prosecution.” In fact, penal laws, instead on the wind,” than in little Norval, “as harm- of preventing crimes, are generally enacted after less as the babe unborn." Adieu.
the commission; instead of repressing the growth of ingenious villany, only multiply deceit,
putting it upon new shifts and expedients of pracLETTER LXXX.
tising with impunity.
Such laws, therefore, resemble the guards which
are sometimes imposed upon tributary princes, apI nave always regarded the spirit of mercy parently indeed to secure them from danger, but which appears in the Chinese laws with admira- in reality to confirm their captivity. tion. An order for the execution of a criminal is Penal laws, it must be allowed, secure property carried from court by slow journeys of six miles in a state, but they also diminish personal security a-day, but a pardon is sent down with the most in the same proportion: there is no positive law, rapid dispatch. If five sons of the same father be how equitable soever, that may not be sometimes guilty of the same offence, one of them is forgiven, capable of injustice. When a law, enacted to in order to continue the family, and comfort his make theft punishable with death, happens to be aged parents in their decline.
equitably executed, it can at best only guard our Similar to this, there is a spiritof mercy breathes possessions; but when, by favour or ignorance, through the laws of England, which some errone. Justice pronounces a wrong verdict, it then attacks ously endeavour to suppress; the laws, however, our lives, since, in such a case, the whole commuseem unwilling to punish the offender, or to fur- nity suffers with the innocent victim : if, therefore, nish the officers of justice with every means of act- in order to secure the effects of one man, I should ing with severity. Those who arrest debtors are make a law which may take away the life of anodenied the use of arms; the nightly watch is per- ther
, in such a case, to attain a smaller good, I am mitted to repress the disorders of the drunken guilty of a greater evil; to secure society in the citizens only with clubs ; Justice in such a case possession of a bauble, I render a real and valuable seems to hide her terrors, and permits some offend- possession precarious. And indeed the experiers to escape, rather than load any with a punish-ence of every age may serve to vindicate the asserment disproportioned to the crime.
tion; no law could be more just than that called Thus it is the glory of an Englishman, that he lesæ majestatis, when Rome was governed by emis not only governed by laws, but that these are perors. It was but reasonable, that every conspialso tempered by mercy; a country restrained by racy against the administration should be detected
From the Same.
and punished ; yet what terrible slughters succeeded in consequence of its enactment: proscriptions,
LETTER LXXXI. stranglings, poisonings, in almost every family of distinction; yet all done in a legal way, every
From the Same. criminal had his trial, and lost his life by a majority of witnesses.
I have as yet given you but a short and imper. And such will ever be the case, where punish- fect description of the ladies of England. Woman, ments are numerous, and where a weak, vicious, my friend, is a subject not easily understood, even but, above all, where a mercenary magistrate is con- in China ; what therefore can be expected from my cerned in their execution: such a man desires to knowledge of the sex, in a country where they are see penal laws increased, since he too frequently universally allowed to be riddles, and I but a stran has it in his power to turn them into instruments ger ?" of extortion; in such hands, the more laws, the To confess a truth, I was afraid to begin the wider means, not of satisfying justice, but of sati- description, lest the sex should undergo some new ating avarice.
revolution before it was finished; and my picture A mercenary magistrate, who is rewarded in should thus become old before it could well be said proportion, not to his integrity, but to the number to have ever been new. To-day they are lifted he convicts, must be a person of the most unblem- upon stilts, to-morrow they lower their heels, and ished character, or he will lean on the side of cruel. raise their heads ; their clothes at one time are ty: and when once the work of injustice is begun, bloated out with whalebone ; at present they have it is impossible to tell how far it will proceed. It laid their hoops aside, and are become as slim as is said of the hyæna, that, naturally, it is no way mermaids. All, all is in a state of continual fiueravenous, but when once it has tasted human flesh, tuation, from the mandarine's wife, who rattles it becomes the most voracious animal of the forest, through the streets in her chariot, to the humble and continues to persecute mankind ever after. A seamstress, who clatters over the pavement in ironcorrupt magistrate may be considered as a human shod pattens. hyæna; he begins, perhaps, by a private snap, he What chiefly distinguishes the sex at present is goes on to a morsel among friends, he proceeds the train. As a lady's quality or fashion was to a meal in public, from a meal he advances to a once determined here by the circumference of her surfeit, and at last sucks blood like a vampyre. hoop, both are now measured by the length of her
Not into such hands should the administration tail. Women of moderate fortunes are contented of justice be intrusted, but to those who know how with tails moderately long; but ladies of true taste to reward as well as to punish. It was a fine say- and distinction set no bounds to their ambition in ing of Nangfu the emperor, who, being told that this particular. I am told, the lady mayoress, on his enemies had raised an insurrection in one of days of ceremony, carries one longer than a bellthe distant provinces, —"Come, then, my friends," wether of Bantam, whose tail, you know, is trunsaid he, "follow me, and I promise you that we dled along in a wheelbarrow. shall quickly destroy them.” He marched forward, Sun of China, what contradictions do we find in and the rebels submitted upon his approach. All this strange world! not only the people of differnow thought that he would take the most signal ent countries think in opposition to each other, but revenge, but were surprised to see the captives the inhabitants of a single island are often found treated with mildness and humanity. “How !" inconsistent with themselves. Would you believe cries his first minister, “is this the manner in it ? this very people, my Fum, who are so fond of which you fulfil your promise? your royal word seeing their women with long tails, at the same was given that your enemies should be destroyed, time dock their horses to the very rump! and behold you have pardoned all, and even ca- But you may easily guess that I am no ways ressed some !"_“I promised," replied the empe- displeased with a fashion which tends to increase a ror, with a generous air, “to destroy my enemies ; demand for the commodities of the East, and is so I have fulfilled my word, for see they are enemies very beneficial to the country in which I was born. no longer,—I have made friends of them.” Nothing can be better calculated to increase the
This, could it always succeed, were the true price of silk than the present manner of dressing. method of destroying the enemies of a state ; well A lady's train is not bought but at some expense, it were, if rewards and mercy alone could regulate and after it has swept the public walks for a very the commonwealth : but since punishments are few evenings, is fit to be worn no longer; more sometimes necessary, let them at least be rendered silk must be bought in order to repair the breach, terrible, by being executed but seldom; and let and some ladies of peculiar economy are thus found Justice lift her sword rather to terrify than revenge. to patch up their tails eight or ten times in a seaAdieu.
son. This unnecessary consumption may intro
From the Same.
duce poverty here, but then we shall be the richer for it in China.
LETTER LXXXII. The man in black, who is a professed enemy to this manner of ornamenting the tail, assures me, there are numberless inconveniences attending it,
A DISPUTE has for some time divided the phiand that a lady, dressed up to the fashion, is as much losophers of Europe; it is debated whether arts a cripple as any in Nankin. But his chief indigna- and sciences are more serviceable or prejudicial to tion is leveled at those who dress in this manner, mankind? They who maintain the cause of litewithout a proper fortune to support it. He assures
rature, endeavour to prove their usefulness, from me, that he has known some who have a tail though the impossibility of a large number of men subsistthey wanted a petticoat ; and others, who, without ing in a small tract of country without them; from any other pretensions, fancied they became ladies, the pleasure which attends the acquisition: and merely from the addition of three superfluous from the influence of knowledge in promoting yards of ragged silk:—"I know a thrifty good practical morality. woman," continues he, “who, thinking herself
They who maintain the opposite opinion, display obliged to carry a train like her betters, never walks the happiness and innocence of those uncultivated from home without the uneasy apprehensions of nations who live without learning; urge the nuwearing it out too soon: every excursion she makes, merous vices which are to be found only in polishgives her new anxiety; and her train is every bited society; enlarge upon the oppression, the cruelty, as importunate, and wounds her peace as much, and the blood which must necessarily be shed, in as the bladder we sometimes see tied to the tail of a order to cement civil society; and insist upon the
happy equality of conditions in a barbarous state, Nay, he ventures to affirm, that a train may preferable to the unnatural subordination of a more often bring a lady into the most critical circum- refined constitution. stances : "for should a rude fellow," says he,
This dispute, which has already given so much Koffer to come up to ravish a kiss, and the lady at- employment to speculative indolence, has been tempt to avoid it, in retiring she must necessarily managed with much ardour, and (not to suppress tread upon her train, and thus fall fairly upon her our sentiments) with but little sagacity. They who back; by which means everyone knows-her insist that the sciences are useful in refined society clothes may be spoiled."
are certainly right, and they who maintain that The ladies here make no scruple to laugh at the barbarous nations are more happy without them smallness of a Chinese slipper, but I fancy our are right also ; but when one side, for this reason, wives at China would have a more real cause of attempts to prove them as universally useful to the laughter, could they but see the immoderate length solitary barbarian as to the native of a crowded of a European train. Head of Confucius! to commonwealth ; or when the other endeavours to view a human being crippling herself with a great banish them as prejudicial to all society, even from unwieldy tail for our diversion! Backward she populous states, as well as from the inhabitants of can not go, forward she must move but slowly; and the wilderness, they are both wrong; since that if ever she attempts to turn round, it must be in a knowledge which makes the happiness of a refined circle not smaller than that described by the wheel European would be a torment to the precarious ing crocodile, when it would face an assailant. tenant of an Asiatic wild. And yet to think that all this confers importance Let me, to prove this, transport the imagination and majesty ! to think that a lady acquires addi- for a moment to the midst of a forest in Siberia. tional respect from fifteen yards of trailing taffeta ! There we behold the inhabitant, poor indeed, but I can not contain ; ha! ha! ha! this is certainly a equally fond of happiness with the most refined rernnant of European barbarity; the female Tar- philosopher of China. The earth lies uncultivated tar, dressed in sheep-skins, is in far more conve- land uninhabited for miles around him; his little nient drapery. Their own writers have sometimes family and he the sole and undisputed possessors. inveighed against the absurdity of this fashion, but In such circumstances, nature and reason will inperhaps it has never been ridiculed so well as upon duce him to prefer a hunter's life to that of cultithe Italian theatre, where Pasquariello being en-vating the earth. He will certainly adhere to that gaged to attend on the Countess of Fernambroco, manner of living which is carried on at the smallhaving one of his hands employed in carrying her est expense of labour, and that food which is most muff
, and the other her lapdog, he bears her train agreeable to the appetite; he will prefer indolent, majestically along, by sticking it in the waistband though precarious luxury, to a laborious, though of his breeches. Adieu.
permanent competence; and a knowledge of his