Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

WAY OF MOSCOW.

strangers, lately introduced like me, a!l regard

ing her form in ecstasy. LETTER LXXV.

« Ah, wbat eyes ! what lips ! how clear her

complexion ! how perfect her shape !” At these FROM HINGPO TO LIEN CHI ALTANGI, By the exclamations, Beauty, with downcast eyes, would

endeavour to counterfeit modesty, but soon again

looking round as if to confirm every spectator I still remain at Terki, where I bave re- / in his favourable sentiments : sometimes she ceived that money which was remitted here in would attempt to allure us by smiles; and at order to release me from captivity. My fair intervals would bridle back, in order to incompanion still improves in my esteem; the spire us with respect as well as tenderness. more I know ber mind, ber beauty becomes This ceremony lasted for some time, and bad more poignant: she appears charming, even so much employed our eyes, that we had forgot among the daughters of Circassia.

all this while that the goddess was silent. We Yet were I to examine her beauty with the soon, however, began to perceive the defect. art of a statuary, I should find numbers here “ What,” said we, among each other, " are we that far surpass her; nature has not granted to have nothing but languishing airs, soft looks, her all the boasted Circassian regularity of and inclinations of the head ? will the goddess only feature, and yet she greatly exceeds the fairest deign to satisfy our eyes ?" Upon this one of of the country, in the art of seizing the affec- the company stepped up to present her with tions. “Whence,” have I often said to myself, some fruits he had gathered by the way. She “this resistless magic that attends even mod received the present most sweetly smiling, and erate charms ? though I regard the beauties of with one of the whitest hands in the world, but the country with admiration, every interview still not a word escaped her lips. weakens the impression, but the form of Zelis I now found that my companions grew weary grows upon my imagination; I never behold of their homage ; they went off one by one, and her without an increase of tenderness and res- resolving not to be left behind, offered to go in pect. Whence this injustice of the mind, in my turn, when, just at the door of the temple, preferring imperfect beauty to that which na- I'was called back by a female whose name ture seems to have finished with care? whence was Pride, and who seemed displeased at the the infatuation that he whom a comet could behaviour of the company

“Where are you not amaze, should be astonished at a meteor ?" bastening ?” said she to me, with an angry air ; When reason was thus fatigued to find an "the goddess of Beauty is here.”—“I have been answer, my imagination pursued the subject, to visit her, madam,” replied I, “and find her and this was the result.

more beautiful even than report had made I fancied myself placed between two land- her.”—“And why then will you leave her?” scapes, this called the Region of Beauty, and added the female. “I have seen her long that the Valley of the Graces; the one adorned enough,” returned I, “I have got all her feawith all that luxuriant nature could bestow; tures by heart. Her eyes are still the same. the fruits of various climates adorned the trees, Her nose is a very fine one, but it is still just the grove resounded with music, the gale such a nose now as it was half an hour ago : breathed perfume, every charm that could arise could she throw a little more mind into her from symmetry and exact distribution were face, perhaps I should be for wishing to have here conspicuous, the whole offering a prospect more of her company:"-"What signifies," reof pleasure without end. The Valley of the plied my female,“ whether she has a mind or Graces, on the other hand, seemed by no means not; has she any occasion for a mind, so formso inviting ; the streams and the groves appeared ed as she is by nature ? If she had a common just as they usually do in frequented countries : face, indeed, there might be some reason for no magnificent parterres, no concert in the grove, thinking to improve it, but when features are the rivulet was edged with weeds, and the rook already perfect, every alteration would but imjoined its voice to that of the nightingale. All pair them. A fine face is already at the point was simplicity and nature.

of perfection, and a fine lady should endeavour The most striking objects ever first allure to keep it so: the impression it would receive the traveller. I entered the Region of beauty from thought, would but disturb its whole with increased curiosity, and promised myself economy." endless satisfaction, in being introduced to the To this speech I gave no reply, but made the presiding goddess. I perceived several strangers best of my way to the Valley of the Graces. who entered with the same design; and what Here I found all those who before bad been my surprised me not a little, was to see several companions in the region of Beauty, now upon others hastening to leave this abode of seeming the same errand. felicity.

As we entered the valley, the prospect insenAfter some fatigue, I had at last the honour sibly seemed to improve ; we found every thing of being introduced to the goddess, who repre- so natural, so domestic, and pleasing, that our sented Beauty in person. She was seated on minds, which before were congealed in admiraa throne, at the foot of which stood several tion, now relaxed into gaiety and good-humour.

We had designed to pay our respects to the “ My very good friend,” said I to the mercer, presiding goddess, but she was no where to be you must not pretend to instruct me in silks ; found. One of our companions asserted, that I know these in particular to be no better than ber temple lay to the right, another, to the left; your mere flimsy Bungees.”—" That may be.” a third insisted that it was straight before us; cried the mercer, who I afterwards found had and a fourth, that we had left it bebind. In never contradicted a man in his life; “ I can. short, we found every thing familiar and charm not pretend to say but they may; but I can ing, but could not determine where to seek for assure you, my lady Trail has had a sack from the Grace in person.

this piece this very morning." _" But friend," In this agreeable incertitude we passed se- said I, though my lady has chosen a sack veral hours, and though very desirous of finding from it, I see no necessity that I should wear the goddess, by no means impatient of the de- it for a nightcap.”—“ That may be,” returned lay. Every part of the valley presented some be again, “yet what becomes a pretty lady, minute beauty, which, without offering itself, will at any time look well on a handsome at once stole upon the soul, and captivated us gentleman.” This short compliment was with the charms of our retreat. Still, however, thrown in so very seasonably upon my ugly we continued to search, and might still have face, that even though I disliked the silk, I continued, had we not been interrupted by a desired him to cut me off the pattern of a voice, which, though we could not see from nightcap. whence it came, addressed us in this manner : While this business was consigned to his

If you would find the goddess of Grace, seek journeymen, the master himself took down her not under one form, for she assumes a some pieces of silk still finer than any I had thousand. Ever changing under the eye of yet seen, and spreading them before me, inspection, her variety, rather than her figure, “ There,” cries he, “there's beauty ; My Lord is pleasing. In contemplating her beauty, the Snakeskin has bespoke the fellow to this for eye glides over every perfection with giddy de- the birth-night this very morning ; it would look light, and capable of fixing no where, is charm- charmingly in waistcoats.”—“But I don't want ed with the whole. * She is now Contempla- a waistcoat,” replied I.-“ Not want a waisttion with solemn look, again Compassion with coat !” returned the mercer, “then I would adhumid eye; she now sparkles with joy, soon vise you to buy one; when waistcoats are every feature speaks distress; her looks at wanted, you may depend upon it they will come times invite our approach, at others repress dear. Always buy before you want, and you our presumption: the goddess cannot be pro- are sure to be well used, as they say in Cheapperly called beautiful under any one of these side.” There was so much justice in his adforms, but by combining them all, she becomes vice, that I could not refuse taking it; besides, irresistibly pleasing." 'Adieu.

the silk, which was a really good one, increased the temptation ; so I gave orders for that too.

As I was waiting to have my bargains meaLETTER LXXVI.

sured and cut, which, I know not how, they

executed but slowly, during the interval the FROM LIEN CHI ALTANGI, TO FUM HOAM, FIRST mercer entertained me with the modern mallPRESIDENT OF THE CEREMONIAL ACADEMY ner of some of the nobility receiving company

in their morning-gowns; “ Perbaps, Sir," adds

he, “you have a mind to see what kind of silk The shops of London are as well furnished is universally worn.” Without waiting for my as those of Pekin. Those of London have a reply, he spreads a piece before me, which picture hung at their door; informing the pas- might be reckoned beautiful even in China. sengers what they have to sell, as those at Pe. “ If the nobility," continues he, “ were to know kin bave a board to assure the buyer that they I sold this to any under a Right Honourable, have no intention to cheat him.

I should certainly lose their custom ; you see, I was this morning to buy silk for a night my Lord, it is at once rich, tasty, and quite cap ; immediately upon entering the mercer's the thing."-"I am no Lord,” interrupted I. shop, the master and his two men, with wigs I beg pardon," cried he; “but be pleased plastered with powder, appeared to ask my to remember, when you intend buying a morncommands. They were certainly the civilesting-gown, that you had an offer from me of people alive; if I but looked, they flew to the something worth money. Conscience, Sir, place where I cast my eye; every motion of conscience is my way of dealing ; you may mine sent them running round the whole shop buy a morning-gown now, or you may stay till for my satisfaction. I informed them that I they become dearer and less fashionable; but wanted what was good, and they showed me it is not my business to advise.” In short, most not less than forty pieces, and each was better Reverend Fum, he persuaded me to buy a than the former, the prettiest pattern in nature, morning-gown also, and would probably bave and the fitted in the world for nightcaps. persuaded me to have bought half the goods in

bis shop, if I had stayed long enough, or was

furnished with sufficient money. * Vultus nimium lubricus aspici-Hor.

AT PEKIN IN CHINA.

FROM THE SAME.

1

Upon returning home, I could not help re- speak his native language in a company of flecting with some astonishment, how this very foreigners, where he was sure that none unman, with such a confined education and capa- derstood him; a travelling Hottentot bimself city, was yet capable of turning me as he would be silent if acquainted only with the thought proper, and moulding me to his in- language of his country; but a Frenchman clinations! I knew he was only answering his shall talk to you whether you understand his own purposes, even while he attempted to ap- language or not : never troubling his head whe. pear solicitous about mine ; yet, by a voluntary ther you have learned French, still be keeps infatuation, a sort of passion, compounded of up the conversation, fixes his eye full in your vanity and good-nature, I walked into the snare face, and asks a thousand questions, which he with my eyes open, and put myself to future answers himself, for want of a more satisfactory pain in order to give him immediate pleasure. reply. The wisdom of the ignorant somewhat re But their civility to foreigners is not half sembles the instinct of animals ; it is diffused so great as their admiration of themselves. in but a very narrow sphere, but within that circle Every thing that belongs to them and their it acts with vigour, uniformity, and success. nation is great, magnificent beyond expression, Adieu.

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 in a rapture, LETTER LXVII.

Sacre! what beauty! Ó Ciel! wbat taste -mort de ma vie! what grandeur, was ever any people like ourselves ? we are the nation of

men, and all the rest no better than two-legged From my former accounts, you may be apt barbarians.” to faucy the English the most ridiculous peo I fancy the French would make the best pie under the sun. They are indeed ridiculous; cooks in the world if they had but meat; as it yet every other nation in Europe is equally is, they can dress you out five different dishes So; each laughs at each, and the Asiatic at all. from a nettle-top, seven from a dock-leaf, and

Í may, upon another occasion, point out twice as many from a frog's haunches; these what is most strikingly absurd in other coun eat prettily enough when one is a little used to tries; I shall at present confine myself only them, are easy of digestion, and seldom overto France. The first national peculiarity a load the stomach with crudities. They seldom traveller meets upon entering that kingdom, dine under seven hot dishes : it is true, indeed, is an odd sort of staring vivacity in every eye, with all this magnificence, they seldom spread not excepting even the children ; the people it a cloth before the guests; but in that I cannot seems bave got it into their heads, that they be angry with them, since those who have got have more wit than others, and so stare, in or no linen on their backs, may very well be ex. der to look smart.

cused for wanting it upon their tables. I know not bow it happens, but there ap

Even religion itself loses its solemnity among pears a sickly delicacy in the faces of their them. Upon their roads, at about every five finest women. This may have introduced the miles' distance, you see an image of the Virgin, use of paint, and paint produces wrinkles ; so Mary, dressed up in grim bead-clothes, painted that a fine lady shall look like a hag at twenty- cheeks, and an old red petticoat ; before her a three. But as, in some measure, they never lamp is often kept burning, at which with the appear young, so it may be equally asserted, saint's permission, I have frequently lighted that they actually think themselves never old; my pipe. Instead of the Virgin, you are a gentle miss shall prepare for new conquests sometimes presented with a crucifix, at other at sixty, shall hobble a rigadoon when she can times with a wooden Saviour, fitted out in comscarcely walk out without a crutch; she shall plete garniture, with sponge, spear, nails, pinaffect the girl, play her fan and her eyes, and cers, hammer, bees-wax, and vinegar-bottle. talk of sentiments, bleeding hearts, and expir- Some of those images, I have been told, came ing for love, when actually dying with age. down from heaven; if so, in heaven they have Like a departing philosopher, she attempts to but bungling workmen. make her last moments the most brilliant of In passing through their towns, you freher life.

quently see the men sitting at the doors knitTheir civility to strangers is what they are ting stockings, while the care of cultivating the chiefly proud of; and to confess sincerely, ground and pruning the vines falls to the wotheir beggars are the very politest beggars I men. This is, perhaps, the reason why the ever knew : in other places, a traveller is ad. fair sex are granted some peculiar privileges in dressed with a piteous whine, or a sturdy this country; particularly, when they can get solemnity, but a French beggar shall ask your horses, of riding without a side-saddle. charity with a very genteel bow, and thank. But I begin to think you may find this deyou for it with a smile and shrug.

scription pert and dull enough ; perhaps it is Another instance of this people's breeding so, yet, in general, it is the manner in which I must not forget. An Englishman would not the French usually describe foreigners; and it

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

FROM THE SAME.

is but just to force a part of that ridicule back , with a dead march, a funeral procession, a catupon them, wbich they attempt to lavish on call, a jig, or a tempest. others. Adieu.

There is, perhaps, nothing more easy than to write properly for the English theatre ; I am amazed that none are apprenticed to the trade.

The author, when well acquainted with the LETTER LXXVIII.

value of thunder and lightning, when versed in all the mystery of scene-shifting and trap-. doors; when skilled in the proper periods to

introduce a wire-walker or a waterfall; when The two theatres which serve to amuse the instructed in every actor's peculiar talent, and citizens here, are again opened for the winter. capable of adapting his speeches to the supThe mimetic troops, different from those of posed excellence; when thus instructed, he the state, begin their campaign when all the knows all that can give a modern audience others quit the field; and, at a time when the pleasure. One player shines in an exclamaEuropeans cease to destroy each other in tion, another in a groan, a third in a horror, a reality, they are entertained with mock battles fourth in a start, a fifth in a smile, a sixth upon the stage.

faints, and a seventh fidgets round the stage The dancing-master once more shakes his with peculiar vivacity; that piece, therefore, quivering feet; the carpenter prepares his para will succeed best, where each has a proper dise of pasteboard ; the hero resolves to cover opportunity of shining; the actor's business is his forehead with brass, and the heroine begins not so much to adapt himself to the poet, as to scour up ber copper tail, preparative to fu- the poet's to adapt himself to the actor. ture operations ; in short, all are in motion, The great secret, therefore, of tragedy-writfrom the theatrical letter-carrier in yellow ing, at present, is a perfect acquaintance with clothes, to Alexander the Great that stands on theatrical ahs and oħs ; a certain number of a stool.

these, interspersed with gods ! tortures ! racks ! Both houses have already commenced hosti- and damnation! sball distort every actor almost lities. War, open war, and no quarter received into convulsions, and draw tears from every or given! Two singing women, like heralds, spectator; a proper use of these will infallibly fill have begun the contest; the whole town is di- the whole house with applause. But, above vided on this solemn occasion; one has the all, a whining scene must strike more forcibly. finest pipe, the other the finest manner; one I would advise, from my present knowledge of courtesies to the ground, the other salutes the the audience, the two favourite players of the audience with a smile; one comes on with town to introduce a scene of this sort in modesty which asks, the other with boldness every play. Towards the middle of the last which extorts applause ; one wears powder, act, I would have them enter with wild looks the other has none; one has the longest waist, and outspread arms : there is no necessity for but the other appears most easy : all, all is im- speaking, they are only to groan at each other ; portant and serious; the town as yet perse- they must vary the tones of exclamation and veres in its neutrality; a cause of such mo- despair through the whole theatrical gamut, ment demands the most mature deliberation; wring their figures into every shape of distress, they continue to exhibit, and it is very possible and when their calamities have drawn a proper this contest may continue to please to the end quantity of tears from the sympathetic spectaof the season.

tors, they may go off in dumb solemnity at But the generals of either army have, as I different doors, clasping their hands, or slapam told, several reinforcements to lend occa- ping their pocket-holes; this, which may be sional assistance. If they produce a pair of called a tragic pantomime, will answer every diamond buckles at one house, we have a pair purpose of moving the passions as well as words of eyebrows that can match them at the other. could have done, and it must save those exIf we outdo them in our attitude, they can penses which go to reward an author. overcome us by a shrug ; if we can bring more All modern plays that would keep the auchildren on the stage, they can bring more dience alive, must be conceived in this manguards in red clothes, who strut and shoulder

ner; and, indeed, many a modern play is made their swords to the astonishment of every up on no other plan. This is the merit that spectator.

lifts up the heart, like opium, into a rapture of They tell me here, that people frequent the insensibility, and can dismiss the mind from theatre in order to be instructed, as well as all the fatigue of thinking; this is the eloaniused. I smile to hear the assertion. If I

quence that sbines in many a long-forgotten ever go to one of their playhouses, what with scene, which has been reckoned excessively trumpets, ballooing behind the stage, and bawl- fine upon acting; this the lightning that ing upon it, I am quite dizzy before the per- flashes no less in the hyperbolical tyrant formance is over. If I enter the house with

“ who breakfasts on the wind,” than in little any sentiments in my head, I am sure to have Norval, -as harmless as the babe unborn." none going away, the whole mind being filled | Adieu.

s

FROM THE SAME.

ing it upon new shifts and expedients of prac.

tising with impunity. LETTER LXXIX.

Such laws, therefore, resemble the guards which are sometimes imposed upon tributary princes, apparently indeed to secure them from

danger, but in reality to confirm their captivity, I HAVE always regarded the spirit of mercy Penal laws, it must be allowed, secure prowhich appears in the Chinese laws with ad- perty in a state, but they also diminish personmiration. An order for the execution of a al security in the same proportion : there is criminal is carried from court by slow journeys no positive law, how equitable soever, that of six miles a day, but a pardon is sent down may not be sometimes capable of injustice. with the most rapid despatch. If five sons of When a law, enacted to make theft punishable the same father be guilty of the same offence, with death, happens to be equitably executed, one of them is forgiven in order to continue it can at best only guard our possessions ; but the family, and comfort his aged parents in when, by favour or ignorance, justice protheir decline.

nounces a wrong verdict, it then attacks our Similar to this, there is a spirit of mercy lives, since, in such a case, the whole community breathes through the laws of England, which suffers with the innocent victim : if, therefore, some erroneously endeavour to suppress; the in order to secure the effects of one man, I laws, however, seem unwilling to punish the should make a law which may take away the offender, or to furnish the officers of justice life of another, in such a case, to attain a smalwith every means of acting with severity. ler good, I am guilty of a greater evil; to secure Those who arrest debtors are denied the use of society in the possession of a bawble, I renarms; the nightly watch is permitted to repress der real and valuable possession precarious. the disorders of the drunken citizens only with And indeed the experience of every age may clubs : Justice in such a case seems to hide serve to vindicate the assertion: no law could her terrors, and permits some offenders to es- be more just than that called lese majestatis, cape, rather than load any with a punishment when Rome was governed by emperors. It disproportioned to the crime.

was but reasonable, that every conspiracy Thus it is the glory of an Englishman, that against the administration should be detected he is not only governed by laws, but that these and punished; yet what terrible slaughters sucare also tempered by mercy; a country restrain- ceeded in consequence of its evactment, proed by severe laws, and those too executed with scriptions, stranglings, poisonings, in almost severity (as in Japan), is under the most every family of distinction ; yet all done in a terrible species of tyranny; a royal tyrant is legal way, every criminal bad his trial, and lost generally dreadful to the great, but numerous his life by a majority of witnesses. penal laws grind every rank of people, and And such will ever be the case, where pun. chietly those least able to resist oppression, ishments are numerous, and where a weak, vi

cious, but above all, where a mercenary magisIt is very possible thus for a people to be trate is concerned in their execution : such a come slaves to laws of their own enacting, as man desires to see penal laws increased, since the Athenians were to those of Draco. " It he too frequently has it in his power to turn might first happen,” says the historian, “that them into instruments of extortion ; in such men with peculiar talents for villany attempted bands the more laws, the wider means, not of to evade the ordinances already established; satisfying justice, but of satiating avarice. their practices, therefore, soon brought on a A mercenary magistrate, who is rewarded new law levelled against them; but the same in proportion not to his integrity, but to the degree of cunning which had taught the knave number he convicts, must be a person of the to evade the former statutes, taught him to most unblemished character, or he will lean on evade the latter also ; he flew to new shifts, the side of cruelty; and when once the work while Justice pursued with new ordinances; of injustice is begun, it is impossible to tell still, however, he kept his proper distance, and how far it will proceed. It is said of the hyæwhenever one crime was judged penal by the na, that naturally it is no way ravenous, but state, he left committing it, in order to prac- when once it bas tasted human flesh, it betise some unforbidden species of villany. Thus comes the most voracious animal of the forest, the criminal against whom the threatenings and continues to persecute mankind ever after. were denounced always escaped free, wbile the A corrupt magistrate may be considered as a simple rogue alone felt the rigour of justice. human hyæna; he begins, perhaps, by a priIn the mean time, penal laws became numer vate snap, he goes on to a morsel among friends, ous; almost every person in the state, un he proceeds to a meal in public, from a meal knowingly, at different times offended, and was he advances to a urfeit, and at last sucks every moment subject to a malicious prosecu- blood like a vampyre. tion. In fact, penal laws instead of preventing Not in such hands should the administration crimes, are generally enacted after the com- of justice be intrusted, but to those who know mission ; instead of repressing the growth of how to reward as well as to punish. It was a ingenious villany, only multiply deceit, by put- fine saying of Nangfu the emperor, who being

the poor.

« AnteriorContinuar »