« ZurückWeiter »
they then begin to find torment from imaginary afflictions, and lessen their present enjoyments, by foreboding that those enjoyments are to have an end. The people now therefore endeavoured to find out grievances; and after some search, actually began to think themselves aggrieved. A petition against the enormities of Takupi was carried to the throne in due form; and the Queen who governed the country, willing to satisfy her subjects, appointed a day, in which his accusers should be heard, and the minister should stand upon his defence. The day being arrived, and the minister brought before the tribunal, a carrier, who supplied the city with fish, appeared among the number of his accusers. He exclaimed, that it was the custom, time immemorial, for carriers to bring their fish upon an horse in a hamper; which being placed on one side, and balanced by a stone on the other, was thus conveyed with ease and safety; but that the prisoner, moved either by a spirit of innovation, or perhaps bribed by the hamper-makers, had obliged all carriers to use the stone no longer, but balance one hamper with another; an order entirely repugnant to the customs of all antiquity, and those of the kingdom of Tipartala in particular. The carrier finished : and the whole court shook their heads at the innovating minister: when a second witness appeared. He was inspector of the city buildings, and accused the disgraced favourite of having given orders for the demolition of an ancient ruin, which obstructed the passage through one of the principal streets. He observed that such buildings were noble monuments of barbarous antiquity; contributed finely to show how little their ancestors understood of architecture; and for that reason such monuments should be held sacred, and suffered gradually to decay. The last witness now appeared. This was a widow, who had laudably attempted to burn herself upon her husband's funeral pile. But the innovating minister had prevented the execution of her design, and was insensible to her tears, protestations, and intreaties. The Queen could have pardoned the two former offences; but this last was considered as so gross an injury to the sex, and so directly contrary to all the customs of antiquity, that it called for immediate justice. “What,” cried the Queen, “ not suffer a wo“ man to burn herself when she thinks proper ? The “ sex are to be very prettily tutored, no doubt, if they “ must be restrained from entertaining their female “friends now and then with a fried wife, or roasted “ acquaintance. I sentence the criminal to be ban“ished my presence for ever for his injurious treat“ ment of the sex.” Takupi had been hitherto silent, and spoke only to show the sincerity of his resignation. “ Great “Queen,” cried he, “I acknowledge my crime; “ and since I am to be banished, I beg it may be to “ some ruined town, or desolate village in the coun“ try I have governed. I shall find some pleasure “ in improving the soil, and bringing back a spirit of “industry among the inhabitants.” His request appearing reasonable, it was immediately complied with; and a courtier had orders to fix upon a place of ban’. ishment, answering the minister's description. After some months search, however, the inquiry proved fruitless; neither a desolate village, nor a ruined town was found in the kingdom. Alas! said Takupi then to the Queen, How can that country be ill-governed thich has neither a desolate village, nor a ruined too
in it 2 The Queen perceived the justice of his expostulation, and the minister was received into more than former favours.
-oLETTER CI. FROM THF. S.A.M.E.
THE ladies here are by no means such ardent gamesters as the women of Asia. In this respect I must do the English justice ; for I love to praise where applause is justly merited. Nothing more common in China, than to see two women of fashion continue gaming till one has won all the other's clothes, and stripped her quite naked; the winner thus marching offin a double suit of finery, and the loser shrinking behind in the primitive simplicity of Nature. No doubt, you remember when Shang, our maiden aunt, played with a sharper. First her money went ; then her trinkets were produced ; her clothes followed piece by piece soon after; when she had thus played herself quite naked, being a woman of spirit, and willing to pursue her own, she staked her teeth : Fortune was against her even here, and her teeth followed her clothes; at last she played for her left eye, and, oh, hard fate, this too she lost : however, she had the consolation of biting the sharper; for he never perceived that it was made of glass till it became his Own. How happy, my friend, are the English ladies, who never rise to such an inordinance of passion! Though the sex here are generally fond of games of chance,
Vol. IV. I,
and are taught to manage games of skill from their infancy, yet they never pursue ill-fortune with such amazing intrepidity. Indeed I may entirely acquit them of ever playing—I mean of playing for their eyes or their teeth. It is true, they often stake their fortune, their beauty; health, and reputations at a gaming-table. It even sometimes happens, that they play their husbands into a gaol; yet still they preserve a decorum unknown to our wives and daughters of China. I have been present at a route in this country, where a wo. man of fashion, after losing her money, has sat writhing in all the agonies of bad luck; and yet, after all, never once attempted to strip a single petticoat, or cover the board, as her last stake, with her headclothes. However, though I praise their moderation at play, I must not eonceal their assiduity. In China our women, except upon some great days, are never permitted to finger a dice-box ; but here every day seems to be a festival; and night itself, which gives others rest, only serves to increase the female gamester’s industry. I have been told of an old lady in the country, who being given over by the physicians, played with the curate of her parish to pass the time away : having won all his money, she next proposed playing for her funeral charges; the proposal was accepted; but unfortunately the lady expired just as she had taken in her game. There are some passions, which, though differently pursued, are attended with equal consequences in eve
-ry country: here they game with more perseverance,
there with greater fury; here they strip their families, there they strip themselves naked. A lady in China, who indulges a passion for gaming, often beComes a drunkard; and by flourishing a dice-box in one hand, she generally comes to brandish a dram cup in the other. Far be it from me to say there are any who drink drams in England; but it is natural to suppose, that when a lady has lost every thing else but her honour, she will be apt to toss that into the bargain; and, grown insensible to nicer feelings, behave like the Spaniard, who, when all his money was gone, endeavoured to borrow more, by offering to Pawn his whisker. Adieu.
I HAVE just received a letter from my son, in which he informs me of the fruitlessness of his ende&ours to recover the lady with whom he fled from Persia. He strives to cover under the appearance of fortitude a heart torn with anxiety and disappointment. I have offered little consolation; since that but too frequently feeds the sorrow which it pretends to deplore, and strengthens the impression, which nothing but the external rubs of time and accident can thoroughly efface. He informs me of his intentions of quitting Moscow the first opportunity, and travelling by land to Amsterdam. I must therefore, upon his arrival, intreat the continuance of your friendship; and beg of you to provide him with proper directions for finding me in London. You can scarcely be sensible of the joy I expect upon seeing him once more :