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ous predictions; and, fourthly, forry, becaufe if it appears to-night, it muft neceffarily come within the sphere of the earth's attraction; and Heaven help the unhappy country on which it happens to fall!
Our whole fociety have been out all eager in fearch of the comet, We have feen not less than sixteen comets in different parts of the heavens. However, we are unanimously resolved to fix upon one only to be the comet expected. That near Virgo wants nothing but a tail to fit it out compleatly for terrestrial admiration.
The moon is, I find, at her old pranks. Her appulfes, librations, and other irregularities, indeed amaze me. My daughter, too, is this morning gone off with a grenadier. No way furprifing. I was never able to give her a relish for wifdom. She ever promifed to be a mere expletive in the creation.” But the moon, the moon gives me real uneafinefs; I fondly fancied I had fixed her. I had thought her conftant, and conftant only to me; but every night difcovers her infidelity, and proves me a defolate and abandoned iover. Adieu.
TO THE SAME.
Tis furprifing what an influence even
though these titles be of our own mak ing. Like children, we drefs up the puppets in finery, and then ftand in aftonishment at the plaftic wonder. I have been told of a rat-catcher here, who strolled for a long time about the villages near town, without finding any employment'; at laft, however, be thought proper to take the title of his Majefty's Rat-catcher in Ordinary, and this fucceeded beyond his expectations; when it was known that he caught rats at court, all were ready to give him countenance and employment.
But of all the people, they who make books feem moft perfectly fenfible of the advantage of titular dignity. All feem convinced, that a book written by vulgar hands can neither inftruct nor improve; none but Kings, Chams, and Mandarines, can write with any probability of fuccefs. If the titles inform me right, not only Kings and Courtiers, but Emperors themselves, in this country, periodically fupply the prefs.
A man here who fhould write, and honeftly confefs that he wrote for bread, might as well fend his manuscript to fire the baker's oven; not one creature will read him; all must be court-bred poets, or pretend at leaft to be courtbred, who can expect to pleafe. Should the caitiff fairly avow a defign of emptying our pockets and filling his own, every reader would instantly forfake
him; even thofe who write for bread
him; perfectly fenfible that his attempts only ferved to take the bread out of their mouths.
And yet this filly prepoffeffion the mors amazes me, when I consider, that almost all the excellent productions in wit that have appeared here, were purely the offspring of neceffity; their Drydens, Batiers, Otways, and Farquhars, were all writers for bread. Believe me, my friend, hunger has a most amazing faculty of fharpening the genius; and he who with a full belly can think like a hero, after a courfe of fafting, fhall rife to the fublimity of a demi-god.
But what will most amaze, is, that this very fet of men, who are now fo much depreciated by fools, are, however, the very beft writers they have among them at prefent. For my own part, were I to buy an hat, I would not have it from a stocking-maker, but an hatter; were I to buy fhoes, I should not go to the taylor's for that purpose. It is juft fo with regard to wit: did I, for my life, defire to be well ferved, I would apply only to thofe who made it their trade, and lived by it. You smile at the oddity of my opinion; but be affured, my friend, that wit is in fome meafure mechanical: and that a man, long habituated to catch at even it's refemblance, will at last be happy enough to poffefs the fubftance. By a long habit of writing, he acquires a juttress
of thinking, and a mastery of manner, which holiday-writers, even with ten umes his genius, may vainly attempt to equal. How then are they deceived, who expect from title, dignity, and exterior circumflance, an excellence which is in fome meafure acquired by habit, and fharpened by neceflity! You have feen, like me, many literary reputations promoted by the influence of fashion,
which have fearce furvived the poffel-. for; you have feen the poor hardly earn the little reputation they acquired, and their merit only acknowledged when they were incapable of enjoying the pleasures of popularity: fuch, however, is the reputation, worth poffeffing; that which is hardly earned is hardly loft. Adieu.
FROM HINGPO, IN MOSCOW, TO LIEN CHI ALTANGI, IN LONDON.
Upon leaving Terki, we took the nearest road to the dominions of Ruffa. We paffed the Ural mountains covered with eternal fnow; and traversed the forests of Ufa, where the prowling bear and fhrieking hyena keep an undisputed poffeffion. We next embarked upon the rapid river Bulija, and made the heft of our way to the banks of the Wolga, where it waters the fruitful vallies of Cafan.
There were two veffels in company, properly equipped and armed, in order to oppofe the Wolga pirates, who we were informed infelted this river. Of all mankind thefe pirates are the moft terrible. They are compofed of the criminals and out. lawed pealants of Ruffia, who fly to the forefts that he along the banks of the Wolga for protection. Here they join in parties, lead a favage life, and have no other fubfiftence but plunder. Beng deprived of houfes, friends, or a "fixed habitation, they become more terble even than the tiger, and as infenible to all the feelings of humanity. They neither give quarter to thofe they conquer, nor receive it when overpowered themfelves. The feverity of the laws against them serve to encrease their barbarity, and feem to make them a neutral fpecies of beings between the wildnefs of the lion and the fubtlety of the
man. When taken alive, their punishment is hideous. A floating gibbet is erected, which is let run down with the stream; here, upon an iron hook ftuck under their ribs, and upon which the whole weight of their body depends, they are left to expire in the moft terrible agonies; fome being thus found to linger feveral days fucceffively.
We were but three days voyage from the confluence of this river into the Wolga, when we perceived at a distance behind us an armed barque coming up, with the affiftance of fails and oars, in order to attack us. The dreadful fignal of death was hung upon the matt, and our captain with his glafs could eafily difcern them to be pirates. It is impoffible to exprefs our confternation on this occafion; the whole crew inftantly came together to confult the properest means of fafety. It was therefore foon determined to fend off our women and valuable commodities in one of our veffels, and that the men should say in the other, and boldly oppose the enemy. This refolution was foon put into execution, and I now reluctantly parted from the beautiful Zelis for the first time fince our retreat from Perfia. - The veffel in which she was disappeared to my longing eyes, in proportion as that of the pirates approached us. They foon came up; but, upon examining our ftrength, and perhaps fenfible of the manner in which we had fent off our molt valuable effects, they feerned more eager to purfue the veffel we had` fent away than attack us. In this manner they continued to harrafs us for three days; till endeavouring to país us without fighting. But, on the fourth day, finding it entirely impoffible, and des
fpairing to feize the expected booty, they defited from their endeavours, and left us to pursue our voyage without interruption.
Our joy on this occafion was great; but foon a difappointment more terrible, because unexpected, fucceeded. The barque, in which our women and treasure were fent off, was wrecked upon the banks of the Wolga, for want of a proper number of hands to manage her, and the whole crew carried by the peasants up the country. Of this, however, we were not fenfible till our arrival at Mofcow; where, expecting to meet our separated barque, we were in
formed of it's misfortune, and our lofs. Need I paint the fituation of my mind on this occafion! Need I defcribe all I feel, when I defpair of beholding the beautiful Zelis more! Fancy had dreffed the future prospect of my life in the gayeft colouring; but one unexpected ftroke of fortune has robbed it of every charm. Her dear idea mixes with every fcene of pleafure; and without her prefence to enliven it, the whole becomes tedious, infipid, infupportable. I will confefs, now that the is loft, I will confefs, I loved her; nor is it in the power of time, or of reafon, to erafe her image from my heart. Adieu.
FROM LIEN CHI ALTANGI, TO HINGPO, AT MOSCOW
YOUR misfortunes are mine. But as every period of life is marked with it's own, you must learn to endure them. Difappointed love makes the mifery of youth; disappointed ambition, that of manhood; and fuccefslets avarice, that of age. These three attack us through life; and it is our duty to ftand upon our guard. To love, we ought to oppofe diffipation, and endeavour to change the object of the affections; to ambition, the happiness of indolence and obfcurity; and to avarice, the fear of foon dying. Thefe are the fhields with which we fhould arm ourfelves; and thus make every fcene of life, if not pleafing, at leaft fupport
Men complain of not finding a place of repose. They are in the wrong; they have it for feeking. What they fhould indeed complain of is, that the heart is an enemy to that very repole they feek. To themfelves alone fhould they impute their difcontent. They feek within the fhort span of life to fatisfy a thousand defires; each of which alone is infatiable. One month paffes and another comes on; the year ends, and then begins; but man is ftill unchanging in folly, ftill blindly continuing in prejudice. To the wife man, every climate and every foil is pleafing; to him a par
terre of flowers is the famous valley of gold; to him, a little brook, the foun
tain of the young peach-trees +;' to fuch a man, the melody of birds is more ravishing than the harmony of a fuil concert; and the tincture of the cloud preferable to the touch of the finest pencil.
The life of man is a journey: a journey that must be travelled, however bad the roads or the accommodation. If, in the beginning, it is found dangerous, narrow, and difficult, it muft either grow better in the end, or we fhall by cuftom learn to bear it's inequality."
But though I fee you incapable of penetrating into grand principles, attend, at least, to a fimile adapted to every apprehenfion, I am mounted upon a wretched als. I fee another man before me upon a sprightly horfe, at which I find fome uneatinefs. I look behind me and fee numbers on foot ftooping under heavy burdens; let me learn to pity their estate, and thank Heaven for my own.
Shingfu, when under misfortunes, would, in the beginning, weep like a child; but he foon recovered his former tranquillity. After indulging grief for a few days, he would become, as ufual, the most merry old man in all the province of Shanfi. About the time that
This letter is a rhapsody from the Maxims of the philofopher M. Vide Lett. curicufe et edifiant. Vide etiam du Halde, Vol. ii, p. 98. This paffage the editor does not understand.
his wife died, his poffeffions were all confumed by fire, and his only fon fold into captivity; Shingfu grieved for one day, and the next went to dance at a mandarine's door for his dinner. The company were furprised to fee the old man fo merry when fuffering fuch great Joffes; and the mandarine himself coming out, afked him, how he, who had grieved fo much, and given way to the calamity the day before, could now be fo chearful? You afk me one queftion,'
FROM LIEN CHI ALTANGI, TO FUM HOAM, FIRST PRESIDENT OF THE CEREMONIAL ACADEMY AT PEKIN, IN CHINA.
HE manner of grieving for our departed friends in China is very different from that of Europe. The mourning colour of Europe is black; that of China white. When a parent or relation dies here, for they feldom mourn for friends, it is only clapping on a fuit of sables, grimacing it for a few days, and all, foon forgotten, goes on as before; not a fingle creature mifling the deceased, except perhaps a favourite houfe-keeper, or a favourite cat.
ample of forrow and decorum to our country, Pious country, where, if we do not grieve at the departure of our friends for their fakes, at least we are taught to regret them for our own.
All is very different here; amazement all. What fort of a people am I among! Fum, thou fon of Fo, what fort of a people am Ig got among! No crawling round the coffin, no dreffing up in hempen bags; no lying on mats, or fitting on fools. Gentlemen here fhall put on first mourning with as fprightly an air as if preparing for a birth-night; and widows fhall actually dress for another husband in their weeds for the former. The best jeft of all is, that our merry mourners clap bits of muflin on their fleeves, and these are called weepers. Weeping muflin! alas, alas, very forrowful truly! Thele weepers then, it feems, are to bear the whole burthen of the diftrefs,
... On the contrary, with us in China it is a very ferious affair. The piety with which I have feen you behave on one of thefe occafions fhould never be forgot ten. I remember it was upon the death of thy grandmother's maiden filter. The coffin was expofed in the principal hall in public view. Before it were placed the figures of eunuchs, horfes, tortoifes, and other animals, in attitudes of grief and refpect. The more diftant relations of the old lady, and I among the num- But I have had the strongest inftance ber, came to pay our compliments of of this contraft, this trag-comical be condolance, and to falute the deceafed haviour in diftrefs upon a recent occa after the manner of our country. We fion. Their king, whofe departure, had fcarce prefented our wax-candles though fudden, was not unexpected, and perfumes, and given the howl of died after a reign of many years. His departure, when, crawling on his belly age, and uncertain ftate of health, ferved from under a curtain, out came the rein fome measure to diminish the forrow verend Fum Hoam himself, in all the of his fubjects; and their expectations difmal folemnity of diftrefs. Your looks from his fucceffor feemed to balance were fet for forrow; your cloathing con- their minds between uneafinefs and fafifted in an hempen bag, tied round the tisfaction. But how ought they to have occafion?
neck with a string. For two long months behaved on fuch an endeavoured
did this mourning continue. By night you lay ftretched on a fingle mat, and fate on the tool of difcontent by day.
they ought rather to
to teftify their gratitude to their de ceafed friend, than to proclaim their
Pious man, who could thus fet an ex-bopes of the future. Sure even the fuc
celfor must fuppofe their love to wear the face of adulation, which fo quickly changed the object. However, the very fame day on which the old king died, they made rejoicing for the new.
For my part, I have no conception of this new manner of mourning and rejoicing in a breath; of being merry and fad; of mixing a funeral proceffion with a jig and a bonfire. At leaft, it would have been just, that they who flattered the king while living for virtues which he had not, should lament him dead for those he really had.
In this univerfal caufe for national diftrefs, as I had no intereft myself, fo it is but natural to fuppofe I felt no real affliction. In all the loffes of our friends, fays an European philofopher, we first confider how much our own welfare is affected by their departure, and moderate our real grief juft in the fame proportion. Now, as I had neither received nor expected to receive favours from kings or their flatterers; as I had no acquaintance in particular with their late monarch; as I knew that the place of a king is foon fupplied; and, as the Chinese proverb has it, That though the world may fometimes want coblers to mend their fhoes, there is no danger of it's want ing emperors to rule their kingdoms: from fuch confiderations, I could bear the lofs of a king with the most philofophic refignation. However, I thought it my duty at leaft to appear forrowful; to put on a melancholy alpect, or to fet face by that of the people. The first company I came amongst after the news became general, was a fet of jolly companions, who were drinking profperity to the enfuing reign. I entered the room with looks of defpair, and even expected applaufe for the fuperlative milery of my countenance. In tead of that, I was univerfally con
demned by the company for a grimacing fon of a whore, and defired to take away my penitential phiz to fome other quarter. I now corrected my former miftake; and, with the moft fprightly air imaginable, entered a company, where they were talking over the ceremonies of the approaching funeral. Here I fat for fome time with an air of pert viva city; when one of the chief mourners immediately obferving my good hu mour, defired me, if I pleafed, to go and grin fonewhere elfe; they wanted no difaffected fcoundrels there. Leaving this company, therefore, I was refolved to affume a look perfectly neutral; and have ever fince been studying the fafhionable air: fomething between jeft and earneft; a compleat virginity of face, uncontaminated with the fmallest fymptom of meaning.
But though grief be a very flight affair here, the mourning, my friend, is a very important concern. When an emperor dies in China, the whole expence of the folemnities is defrayed from the royal coffers. When the great die here, mandarines are ready enough to order mourning; but I do not fee that they are fo ready to pay for it. If they fend me down from court the grey umdress frock, or the black coat without pocket holes, I am willing enough to comply with their commands, and wear both; but, by the head of Confucius! to be obliged to wear black, and buy it into the bargain, is more than my tranquillity of teniper can bear. What, order me to wear mourning before they know whether I can buy it or no! Fum, thou fon of Fo, what fort of a people am I got amongit; where being out of black is a certain fymptom of poverty; where thofe who have miferable faces cannot have mourning, and those who have mourning will not wear a miserable face!
FROM THE SAME.
Tis ufual for the bookfellers here, when a book has given univerfal pleafure upon one fnbject, to bring out feveral more upon the faine plan; which are fure to have purchasers and readers from that defire which all men have to
view a pleafing object on every fide. The first performance ferves rather to awaken than fatisfy attention; and when that is once moved, the flighteft effart ferves to continue it's progrellion; the merit of the furft diffufes a light fulfi