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P R E F A C E.
HE schoolmen had formerly a very exact way of computing the
, said to have learning as five, genius as four, and gravity as seven. Caramuel was greater than he. His learning was as eight, his genius as fix, and his gravity as thirteen. Were I to estimate the merits of our Chinese Philosopher by the same scale, I would not hesitate to Aate his genius ftill higher; but as to his learning and gravity, these I think might safely be marked as nine hundred and ninety nine, within one degree of absolute frigidity,
Yet upon his first appearance here, many were angry not to find him as ignorant as a Tripoline ambassador, or an Envoy from Mujac. They were surprized to find a man born so far from London, that school of prudence and wisdom, endued even with a moderate capacity. They expressed the same surprize at his knowledge that the Chinese do at ours. • How comes it,' said they,' that the Euro
peans, so remote from China, think with so much justice and pre• cision? They have never read our books, they scarcely know even
our letters, and yet they talk and reason just as we do * The truth is, the Chinese and we are pretty much alike. . Different degrees of refinement, and not of distance, mark the diftin&tions among mankind. Savages of the most opposite climates, have all but one character of improvidence and rapacity; and tutored nations, however separate, make use of the very same methods to procure refined enjoyment.
The distinctions of polite nations are few; but such as are peculiar to the Chinese, appear in every page of the following correspondence. The metaphors and allusions are all drawn from the East. Their formality our author carefully preserves. Many of their favourite tenets in morals are illustrated. The Chinese are always concise, so is he. Simple, so is he. The Chinese are grave and sententious, so is he. But in one particular, the resemblance is peculiarly striking: the Chia nese are often dull; and so is he. Nor has my altistance been wanting. We are told-in an old romance of a certain knight-errant and his horse who contracted an intimate friendship. The horse most usually bore the knight; but, in cases of extraordinary dispatch, the knight returned the favour, and carried his horse. Thus in the intimacy between my author and me, he has usually given me a lift of his Eastern sublimity, and I have sometimes given him a return of my colloquial ease.
Yet it appears frange in this season of panegyric, when scarce an author passes unpraised either by his friends or himself, that such meit as our Philosopher's should be forgotten. While the epithets of ingenious, copious, elaborate, and refined, are lavished among the mob, like medals at a coronation, the lucky prizes fall on every side, but not one on him. I could on this occasion make myself mciancholy, by confidering the capriciousness of public taste, or the muta
Le Comte, Vol. I. p. 210.
bility of fortune; but during this fit of morality, left my reader fhould feep, I'll take a nap myself, and when I awake tell him my dream.
I imagined the Thames, was frozen over, and I stood by it's fide. Several booths were erected upon the ice, and I was told by one of the spectators, that FASHION Fair was going to begin. He added, that every author who would carry his works there, might probably find a very good reception. I was resolved however to observe the humours of the place in safety from the shore, senfible that ice was at best precarious, and having been always a little cowardly in my sleep.
Several of my acquaintance seemed much more hardy than I, and went over the ice with intrepidity. Some carried their works to the fair on fledges, some on carts, and those which were more volumi. nous, were conveyed in waggons. Their temerity astonished me. I knew their cargoes were heavy, and expected every moment they would have gone to the bottom. They all entered the fair, however, in fafety; and each foon after returned to my great surprize, highly satisfied with his entertainment, and the bargains he had brought away.
The success of such numbers at last began to operate upon me. If • these,' cried I, 'meet with favour and safety, some luck may, per• haps, for once attend the unfortunate. I am resolved to make a new • adventure. The furniture, frippery, and fire-works of China, have • long been fashionably bought up. I'll try the fair with a small
cargo of Chinese morality. If the Chinese have contributed to vi• tiate our taste, I'll try how far they can help to improve our under.
standing. But as others have driven into the market in waggons, • I'll cautiously begin by venturing with a wheel-barrow.' Thus resolved, I bared up my goods, and fairly ventured; when, upon just entering the fair, I fancied the ice that had supported an hundred waggons before, cracked under me, and wheel-barrow and all went to the bottom.
Upon awaking from my reverie, with the fright, I cannot help withing that the pains taken in giving this correspondence an English dress, had been employed in contriving new political fyftems, or new plots for farces. I might then have taken my station in the world, either as a poet or a philosopher, and made one in those little focieties where men club to raise each others reputation. But at present I belong to no particular class. I resemble one of those solitary animals, that has been forced from it's forest to gratify human cariofity. My earliest wish was to escape unheeded through life; but I have been set up for halfpence, to fret and scamper at the end of my chain. Though none are injured by my'rage, I am naturally too sa: vage to court any friends by fawning; too obstinate to be taught new tricks; and too improvident to mind what may happen: I am appeased, though not contented. Too incolent for intrigue, and too timid to puth for favour, I am-But what fignifies what I am.
Ελπίς και συ τύχη, μέγα χαίρετε» τον λιμέν' έυρον,
Ουδέν έμοί χ υμϊν παίζετε τις μετ' εμέ.
TO MR. ****, MERCHANT IN LONDON. SIR,
native of Honan in China, and one who TOURS of the , co
services when he was a
R. and D. value 4781, 1os. and the By frequently conversing with the Engother on Mr. ***, value 28sl. duly lith there, he has learned the language, came to hand; the former of which met though intirely a stranger to their with honour, but the other has been manners and customs. I am told he is trifled with, and I am afraid will be re- a philosopher, I am sure he is an honeft turned protested.
man; that to you will be his best recom-. The bearer of this is my friend, mendation, next to the confideration of therefore let him be yours. He is a his being the friend of, Sir, yours, &c.
FROM LIEN CHI ALTANGI, IN LONDON, TO
**, MERCHANT IN AM:
FRIEND OF MY HEART,
upon thy dwelling, and the only a return for former favours, you • shield of conscience preserve thee from would induce me to impute to your jus• vice and misery:' for all thy favours tice what I owe to your generosity. accept my gratitude and esteem, the only The services I did you at Canton, tributes a poor philofophie wanderer can justice, humanity, and my office, bade return; fure fortune is resolved to make me perform; those you have done me me unhappy, when she gives others a since my arrival at Amsterdam, no laws power of testifying their friendhip by obliged you to, no justice required, even actions, and leaves me only words to half your favours would have been express the fincerity of mine.
greater than my most fanguine expectaI am perfectly fenfible of the delicacy tions. with which you endeavour to lessen your The sum of money therefore which own merit and my obligations. ' By you privately conveyed into my bag.
gage, when I was leaving Holland, and pointment, on entering London, to fee which I was ignorant of till my arrival no signs of that opulence so much talkin London, I must beg leave to return.. ed of abroad; wherever I turn, I am You have been bred a merchant, and I presented with a gloomy solemnity in a fcholar; You confequently love money the houles, the streets and the inhabibetter than I. You can find pleasure tants; none of that beautiful gilding in superfluity, I am perfectly contents which makes a principal ornament in with what is sufficient; take therefore Chinese architecture. The streets of what is yours, it may give you some Nankin are sometimes strewed with gold pleasure, even though you have no oc- leaf; very
different are those of London: casion to use it; my happiness it cannot in the midit of their pavements, a great improve, for I have already all that I lazy puddle moves muddily along ;
heavy laden machines with wheels of My passage by sea from Rotterdam unweildy thickness crowd up every parto England, was more painful to ine sage ; so that a stranger, instead of find. than all the journies I ever made on ing time for observation, is often happy land. I have traversed the immeasura. if he has time to escape from being ble wilds of Mogul Tartary; felt all the crushed to pieces. rigours of Siberian skies; I have had The houses borrow very few ornamy repose an hundred times disturbed ments from architecture; their chief by invading favages, and have seen decoration seems to be a paltry piece of without Shrinking the desart sands rise painting, hung out at their doors or like a troubled ocean all around me; windows, at once a proof of their indi. against these calamities I was armed gence and vanity. Their vanity, in with resolution ; but in my pasiage to each having one of those pictures exposEngland, though nothing occurred that ed to public view; and their indigence, gave the mariners any uneasiness, to in being unable to get them better paintone who was never at sea before, all was ed. In this refpe&t, the fancy of their a subject of astonishment and terror. painters is also deplorable. Could you To find the land disappear, to see our
believe it? I have seen five black lions Thip mount the waves swift as an ar- and three blue boars in less than the row from the Tartar bow, to hear the circuit of half a mile; and yet you know wind howling through the cordage, to
that animals of these colours are no feel a fickness which depresses even the where to be found except in the wild fpiries of the brave; these were unex- imaginations of Europe. pected distrefies, and consequently af- From these circumstances in their faulted me unprepared to receive them. buildings, and from the dismal looks of
You men of Europe think nothing of the inhabitants, I am induced to cona voyage by sea. With us of China, a clude that the nation is actually poor ; man who has been from fight of land is and that, like the Persians, they make a regarded upon his return with admira: splendid figure every where but at home. tion. I have known fome provinces The proverb of Xixofou is, That a where there is not even a name for the man's riches may be seen in his eyes;
What a strange people there. if we judge of the English by this rule, fore am I got amongst, who have found there is not a poorer nation under the sur. ed an empire on this unftabie element, I have been here but two days, so who build cities upon billows that rise will not be hasty in my decisions; such higher than the mountains of Tipartala, letters as I shall write to Fipsihi'in Mofand make the deep more formidable than cow, I beg you will endeavour to forthe wildest teinpeit.
ward with all diligence; I shall send Such accounts as these, I must confess, them open, in order that you may take were my first motives for seeing Eng. copies or translations, as you are equally Jand. These induced me to undertake versed in the Dutch and Chinese lana journey of seven hundred painful days, guages. Dear friend, think of my ab. in order to examine it's opulence, huild- sence with regret, as I sincerely regret jngs, sciences, arts and manufactures, yours; even while I write, I lament our on the spot. Judge then my disap separation. Farewell.