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to his assistance, will frequently change; will find himself distracted by opposing probabilities and contending proofs; every alteration of place will diversify the prospect, will give some latent argument new force, and contribute to maintain an anarchy in the mind. On the contrary, they who never examine with their own reason act with more simplicity. Ignorance is positive, instinct perseveres, and the human being moves in safety within the narrow circle of brutal uniformity. What is true with regard to individuals, is not less so when applied to states. A reasoning government like this is in continual fluctuation, while those kingdoms where men are taught not to controvert but obey, continue always the same. In Asia, for instance, where the monarch's authority is supported by force, and acknowledged through fear, a change of government is entirely unknown. All the inhabitants seem to wear the same mental complexion, and remain contented with hereditary oppression. The sovereign's pleasure is the ultimate rule of duty, every branch of the administration is a perfect epitome of the whole; and if one tyrant is deposed, another starts up in his room to govern as his predecessor. The English, on the contrary, instead of being led by power, endeavour to guide themselves by reason; instead of appealing to the pleasure of the prince, appeal to the original rights of mankind. What one rank of men assert is denied by others, as the reasons on opposite sides happen to come home with greater or less conviction. The people of Asia are directed by precedent, which never alters; the English by reason, which is ever-changing its appear ance.
The disadvantages of an Asiatic government acting in this manner by precedent arc evident; original errors are thus continued, without hopes of redress, and all marks of genius are levelled down to one standard, since no superiority of thinking can be allowed its exertion in mending obvious defects. But to recompense those defects, their governments undergo no new alterations, they have no new evils to fear, nor no fermentations in the constitution that continue : the struggle for power is soon over, and all becomes tranquil as before ; they are habituated to subordination, and men are taught to form no other desires, than those which they are allowed to satisfy.
The disadvantages of a government acting from the immediate influence of reason, like that of England, are not less than those of the former. It is extremely difficult to induce a number of free beings to co-operate for their mutual benefit; every possible advantage will necessarily be sought, and every attempt to procure it must be attended with a new fermentation; various reasons will lead different ways, and equity and advantage will often be out-balanced by a combination of clamour and prejudice. But though such a people may be thus in the wrong, they have been influenced by an happy delusion, their errors are seldom seen till they are felt; each man is himself the tyrant he has obeyed, and such a master he can easily forgive. The disadvantages he feels may in reality be equal to what is felt in the most despotic government; but man will bear every calamity with patience, when he knows himself to be the author of his own misfortunes. Adieu.
My long residence here begins to fatigue me; as every object ceases to be new, it no longer continues to be pleasing ; some minds are so fond of variety that pleasure itself, if permanent, would be insupportable, and we are thus obliged to solicit new happiness even by courting distress: I only therefore wait the arrival of my son to vary this trifling scene, and borrow new pleasure from danger and fatigue. A life, I own, thus spent in wandering from place to place, is at best but empty dissipation. But to pursue trifles is the lot of humanity; and whether we bustle in a pantomime, or strut at a coronation; whether we shout at a bonfire, or harangue in a senate house; whatever object we follow, it will at last surely conduct us to futility and disappointment. The wise bustle and laugh as they walk in the pageant, but fools bustle and are important; and this probably is all the difference between them. This may be an apology for the levity of my former correspondence ; I talked of trifles, and I knew that they were trifles; to make the things of this life ridiculous, it was only sufficient to call them by their launcs. In other respects, I have omitted several striking circumstances in the description of this country, * supposing them either already known to you, or as not being thoroughly known to myself: but there is one omission for which I expect no forgiveness, namely, by being totally silent upon their buildings, roads, rivers, and mountains. This is a branch of science on which all other travellers are se very prolix, that my deficiency will appear the more glaring. With what pleasure, for instance, do some read of a traveller in Egypt, measuring a fallen column with his cane, and finding it exactly five feet nine inches long ; of his creeping through the mouth of a catacomb, and coming out by a different hole from that he entered ; of his stealing the finger of an antique statue, in spite of the janizary that watched him ; or his adding a new conjecture to the hundred and fourteen conjectures already published, upon the names of Osiris and Isis. Methinks I hear some of my friends in China demanding a similar account of London and the adjacent villages; and if I remain here much longer, it is probable I may gratify their curiosity. I intend, when run dry on other topics, to take a serious survey of the city-wall; to describe that beautiful building the mansion-house; I will enumerate the magnificent squares, in which the nobility chiefly reside, and the royal palaces appointed for the reception of the English monarch; nor will I forget the beauties of Shoe-lane, in which I myself have resided since my arrival. You shall find me no way inferior to many of my brother travellers in the arts of description. At present, however, as a specimen of this way of writing, I send you a few hasty remarks, collected in a late journey I made to Kentish Town, and this in the onanner of modern voyagers. * Having heard much of Kentish Town, I conceived a strong desire to see that celebrated place.
I could have wished indeed to satisfy my curiosity without going thither; but that was impracticable, and therefore I resolved to go. Travellers have two methods of going to Kentish Town; they take coach which costs nine pence, or they may go a foot, which costs nothing; in my opinion, a coach is
by far the most eligible convenience, but I was re
solved to go on foot, having considered with myself, that going in that manner would be the cheapest way.
* As you set out from Dog-house bar, you enter upon a fine level road railed in on both sides, commanding on the right a fine prospect of groves, and fields, enamelled with flowers, which would wonderfully charm the sense of smelling, were it not for a dunghill on the left, which mixes its effluvia with their odours : this dunghill is of much greater antiquity than the road; and I must not omit a piece of injustice I was going to commit upon this occasion. My indignation was levelled against the makers of the dunghill for having brought it so
near the road; whereas it should have fallen upon the makers of the road for having brought that so
near the dunghill.
* After proceeding in this manner for some time, a building, resembling somewhat a triumphal arch; salutes the traveller's view. This structure however is peculiar to this country, and vulgarly called a turnpike gate : I could perceive a long inscription in large characters on the front, probably upon the occasion of some triumph, but being in haste
* I left it to be made out by some subsequent adven
turer who may happen to travel this way; so continuing my course to the west, I soon arrived at an unwalled town called Islingtoft