Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

gards upon mankind, which others contract and settle upon themselves. These deserve every honour from that community of which they are more peculiarly the children: to such I would give my heart, since to them I am indebted for its humanity!

Adieu.

LETTER LXXV.

From Hingpo to Lien Chi Altangi, by the way of

Moscow. I still remain at Terki, where I have received that money which was remitted here in order to release me from captivity. My fair companion still improves in my esteem ; the more I know her mind, her beauty becomes more poignant ; she appears charming, even among the daughters of Circassia.

Yet were I to examine her beauty with the art of a statuary, I should find numbers here that far surpass her; Nature has not granted her all the boasted Circassian regularity of feature, and yet she greatly ex. ceeds the fairest of the country, in the art of seizing the affections. Whence, have I often said to myself, this resistless magic that attends even moderate charms? though I regard the beauties of the country. with admiration, every interview weakens the impression, but the form of Zelis grows upon my imagination; I never behold her without an increase of tenderness and respect. Whence this injustice of the mind in preferring imperfect beauty to that which Nature seems to have finished with care? whence the infatuation, that he whom a comet could not amaze, should be astonished at a meteor ? when reason was thus fatigued to find an answer, my imagination pursued the subject, and this was the result.

[graphic]

I fancied myself placed between two landscapes, this called the region of Beauty, and that the valley of the Graces; the one adorned with all that luxuriant Nature could bestow; the fruits of various climates adorned the trees, the grove resounded with music, the gale breathed perfume, every charm that could arise from symmetry and exact distribu ion were here conspicuous, the whole offering a prospect of pleasure without end. The valley of the Graces on the other hand seemed by no means so inviting ; the streams and the groves appeared just as they usually do in frequented countries: no magnificent parterres, no concert in the grove, the rivulet was edged with weeds, and the rook joined its voice to that of the nightingale. All was simplicity and nature.

The most striking objects ever first allure the traveller. I entered the region of Beauty with increased curiosity, and promised myself endless satisfaction in being introduced to the presiding goddess. I perceived several strangers, who entered with the same design, and what surprised me not a little, was to see several others hastening to leave this abode of seeming felicity

After some fatigue, I had at last the honour of being introduced to the goddess, who represented Beauty in person. She was seated on a throne, at the foot of which stood several strangers lately introduced like me; all regarding her form in extasy. Oh what eyes ! what lifs ! how clear her complexion ! how perfect her shape! at these exclamations Beauty with downcast eyes, would endeavour to counterfeit modesty, but soon again looking round as if to confirm every spectator in his favourable sentiments ; sometimes she would attempt to allure us by smiles; and at intervals would bridle back, in order to inspire us with respect as well as tenderness.

[graphic]

This ceremony lasted for some time, and had so much employed our eyes, that we had forgot all this while that the goddess was silent. We soon, however, began to perceive the defect: what, said we, among each other, are we to have nothing but languishing airs, soft looks, and inclinations of the head, will the goddess only deign to satisfy our eyes ? Upon this one of the company stepped up to present her with some fruits he had gathered by the way. She received the present most sweetly smiling, and with one of the whitest hands in the world, but still not a word escaped her lips.

I row found that my-companions grew weary of their homage ; they went off one by one, and resolving not to be left behind, I offered to go in my turn; when just at the door of the temple I was called back by a female, whose name was Pride, and who seemed displeased at the behaviour of the company.

Where are you hastening ? said she to me with an angry air, the goddess of Beauty is here. I have been to visit her, Madam, replied I, and find her more beautiful even than report had made her.

And why then will you leave her ? added the female. I have seen her long enough, returned I; I have got all her features by heart. Her eyes are still the same. Her nose is a very fine one, but it is still just such a nose now as it was half an hour ago: could she throw a little more mind into her face, perhaps I should be for wishing to have more of

What signifies, replied my female, whether she has a mind or not, has she any occasion for mind, so formed as she is by Nature ? If she had a conmon face, indeed, there might be some reason for thinking to improve it ; but when features are already per

[graphic]

fect. every alteration would but impair them.

A fine face is already at the point of perfection, and a fine lady should endeavour to keep it so; the impression it would receive from thought, would but disturb its whole economy.

To this speech I gave no reply, but made the best of my way to the valley of the Graces. Here I found all those who before had been my companions in the region of beauty, now upon the same errand.

As we entered the valley, the prospect insensibly seemed to improve ; we found every thing so natural, so domestic, and pleasing, that our minds, which before were congealed in admiration, now relaxed into gayety and good-humour. We had designed to pay our respects to the presiding goddess, but she was no where to be found. One of our companions asserted that her temple lay to the right ; another, to the left ; a third, insisted that it was straight before us; and a fourth, that we had left it behind. In short, we found every thing familiar and charming, but could not determine where to seek for the Grace in person.

In this agreeable incertitude we passed several hours, and though very desirous of finding the goddess, by no means impatient of the delay Every part of the valley presented some minute beauty, which without offering itself at once, stole within the soul, and captivated us with the charms of our retreat. Stiil, however, we continued to search, and might still have continued, had we not been interrupted by a voice which, though we could not see from whence it came, addressed us in this manner :

“ If you would find the goddess of Grace, seek her 46 not under one form, for she assumes a thousand. “ Ever changing under the eye of inspection, her va« riety, rather than her figure, is pleasing. In con« templating her beauty, the eye glides over every

[graphic]

* perfection with giddy delight, and, capable of fixing
« no where, is charmed with the whole * She is
“ now Contemplation with solemn look, again Com-
“ passion with humid eye; she now sparkles with
“ joy, soon every feature speaks distress: her looks
" at times invite our approach, at others repress our

presumption; the goddess cannot be properly “ called beautiful under any one of these forms, but " by combining them all, she becomes irresistibly « pleasing."

Adieu.

LETTER LXXVI.

From Lien Chi Altangi, to Fum Hoam, first President

of the Ceremonial Academy at Pekin, in China. The shops of London are as well furnished as those of Pekin. Those of London have a picture hung at their door, informing the passengers what they have to sell, as those at Pekin have a board to assure the buyer, that they have no intention to cheat him.

I was this morning to buy silk for a night-cap; immediately upon entering the mercer's shop, the master and his two men with wigs plastered with powder, appeared to ask my commands. They were certainly the civilest people alive, if I but looked, they flew to the place where I cast my eye; every motion of mine sent them running round the whole shop for faction. I informed them that I wanted what was good, and they showed me not less than forty pieces, and each was better than the former; the prettiest pattern in nature, and the fittest in the world for

[graphic]
« ZurückWeiter »