« ZurückWeiter »
ties of court-vermin-killer; he should have full power either to banish, take, poison or destroy them, with enchantments, traps, ferrets, or ratsbane. He might be permitted to brandish his besom without remorse, and brush down every part of the furniture, without sparing a single' cobweb, however sacred by long preScription. I communicated this proposal some days ago in a company of the first distinction, and enjoying the most honourable offices of the state. Among the number were the inspector of Great-Britain, Mr. Henriques, the director of the ministry, Ben. Victor the treasurer, John Lockman the secretary, and the conductor of the Imperial Magazine. They all acquiesced in the utility of my proposal, but were apprehensive it might meet with some obstructions from court upholsterers and chamber-maids, who would object to it from the demolitions of the furniture, and the dangerous use of ferrets and ratsbane. My next proposal is rather more general than the former, and might probably meet with less opposition. Though no people in the world flatter each other more than the English, I know none who understand the art less, and flatter with such little refinement. Their panegyric, like a Tartar feast, is indeed served up with profusion, but their cookery is insupportable. A client here shall dress up a fricassee for his patron, that shall offend an ordinary nose before it enters the room. A town shall send up their address to a great minister which shall prove at once a satire on the mis inister and * "...i. day sits or stands, or sleeps, there are poets to put it into yerse, and priests to preach it in the pulpit. In order therefore to free both those who praise, and those who are praised from a duty probably disagreeable to both, I would constitute professed flatterers here as in seve
ral courts of India. These are appointed in the courts. of their princes, to instruct the people where to exclaim with admiration, and where to lay an emphasis of praise. But an officer of this kind is always in waiting, when the emperor converses in a familiar manner among his Rajas and other nobility. At ever ry sentence, when the monarch pauses, and smiles at what he has been saying, the Karamatman, as this officer is called, is to take it for granted, that his majesty has said a good thing. Upon which he cries out Karamat! Karamat! a miracle, a miracle 1 and throws up his hands and his eyes in extacy. This is echoed by the courtiers around, while the emperor sits all this time in sullen satisfaction, enjoying the triumph of his joke, or studying a new repartee. I would have such an officer placed at every great man's table in England. By frequent practice he might soon become a perfect master of the art, and in time would turn out pleasing to his patron, no way troublesome to himself, and might prevent the nauseous attempts of many more ignorant pretenders. The clergy here, I am convinced, would relish this proposal. It would provide places for several of them. And indeed by some of their late productions, many appeared to have qualified themselves as candidates for this office already. But my last proposal I take to be of the utmost im: rtance. Our neighbour the empress of Russia has, ou may remember, instituted an order of female orighthood. The empress of Germany has also in stituted another; the Chinese have had such an order time immemorial. I am amazed the English have never come into such an institution. When I conside: what kind of men are made knights here, it appears strange that they have never conferred this honour upon women. They make cheesemongers and pastry-cooks knights; then why not their wives? They have called up tallow-chandlers to maintain the hardy profession of chivalry and arms; then why not their wives? Haberdashers are sworn, as I suppose all knights must be sworm, never to fly in time of mellay or battle, to maintain and ushhold the noble estate of chivalry, with horse, harnishe, and other knightlye habilaments. Haberdashers, I say, are sworn to all this, then why not their wives? Certain I am their wives understand fighting, and feats of mellay, and battle, better than they, and as for knightly horse and harnishe, it is probable both know nothing more than the harness of a one horse chaise. No, no, my friend, instead of conferring any order upon the husbands, I would knight their wives. However, the state should not be troubled with a new institution upon this occasion. Some ancient exploded order might be revived, which would furnish both a motto and a name, the ladies might be permitted to choose for themselves. There are for instance the obsolete orders of the Dragon in Germany, of the Rue in Scotland, and the Porcuffline in France, all well sounding names, and very applicable to my intended female institution. Adieu.
Religious sects in England are far more numerous than in China. Every man who has interest. enough to hire a conventicle here, may set up for himself and sell of a new religion. The sellers of the newest pattern at present give extreme good bargains; and let their disciples have a great deal of confidence for very little money. Their shops are much frequented, and their customers every day increasing, for people are naturally fond of going to Paradise at as small expense as possible. Yet you must not conceive this modern sect as disfering in opinion from those of the established religion: difference of opinion indeed formerly divided their sectaries, and sometimes drew their armies to the field. White gowns and black mantles, flapped hats and cross pocket holes, were once the obvious causes of quarrel; men then had some reason for fighting, they knew what they fought about; but at present they are arrived at such refinement in religionmaking, that they have actually formed a new sect without a new opinion ; they quarrel for opinions they both equally defend ; they hate each other, and that is all the difference between them. But though their principles are the same, their practice is somewhat different. Those of the established religion laugh when they are pleased, and their groans are seldom extorted but by pain or dangerThe new sect, on the contrary, weep for their amusement, and use little music except a chorus of sighs and groans, or tunes that are made to imitate groaning. Laughter is their aversion; lovers court each o the Lamentations; the bridegroom approaches the nuptial couch in sorrowful solemnity, and the bride looks more dismal than an undertaker's shop. Dancing round the room is with them running in a direct line to the devil; and as for gaming, though but injest, they would sooner play with a rattle-snake's tail, than finger a dice-box. By this time you perceive that I am describing a sect ofenthusiasts, and youhave already compared them with
the Faquirs, Bramins, and Talapoins of the East. Among these you know, are generations that have been never known to smile, and voluntary affliction makes up all the merit they can boast of Enthusiasms in every country produce the same effects; stick the Faquir with pins, or confine the Bramin to a vermine hospital, spread the Talapoin on the ground, or load the sectary’s brow with contrition; those worshippers who discard the light of reason, are ever gloomy; their fears increase in proportion to their ignorance, as men are continually under apprehensions who walk in darkness. Yet there is still a stronger reason for the enthusiast's being an enemy to laughter, namely, his being himself so proper an object of ridicule. It is remarkable that the propagators of false doctrines, have ever been averse to mirth, and always begin by recommending gravity, when they intended to disseminate imposture. Folli, the idol of China, is represented as having never laughed; Zoroaster, the leader of the Bramins, is said to have laughed but twice, upon his coming into the world, and upon his leaving it; and Mahomet himself, though a lover of pleasure, was a professed opposer of gayety. Upon a certain occasion, telling his followers, that they would all appear naked at the resurrection, his favourite wise represented such an assembly as immodest and unbecoming. Foolish woman, cried the grave prophet, though the whole as: sembly be naked, on that day they shall have forgotten to laugh. Men like him opposed ridicules because they knew it to be a most formidable antagonist, and preached up gravity, to conceal their own want of importance. Ridicule has ever been the most powerful enemy of enthusiasm, and properly the only antagonist that can be opposed to it with success. Persecution only