« ZurückWeiter »
Turnip indeed kept the way, but it was perceived that Dung had better bottom. The road re-echoed with the shouts of the spectators ; Dung against Turnip; Turnip against Dung, was now the universal cry; neck and neck; one rode lighter, but the other had more judgment. I could not but particularly observe the ardour with which the fair sex espoused the cause of the different riders on this occasion ; one was charmed with the unwashed beauties of Dung; another was captivated with the patibulary aspect of Turnip ; while in the mean time unfortunate gloomy Dust, who came whipping behind, was cheered by the encouragements of some, and pity of all.
The contention now continued for some time, without a possibility of determining to whom victory designed the prize. The winning post appeared in view, and he who drove the turnip cart assured himself of success; and successful he might have been, had his horse been as ambitious as he ; but upon approaching a turn from the road, which led homewards, the horse fairly stood still, and refused to move a foot further. The dung cart had scarcely time to enjoy this temporary triumph, when it was pitched headlong into a ditch by the way-side, and the rider left to wallow in congenial mud. Dust in the mean time soon came up, and not being far from the post, came in amidst the shouts and acclamations of all the spectators, and greatly caressed by all the quality of Brentford. Fortune was kind only to one, who ought to have been favourable to all ; each had peculiar merit, each laboured hard to earn the prize, and each richly deserved the cart he drove.
I do not know whether this description may not have anticipated that which I intended giving of Newmarket. I am told there is little else to be seen even there. There may be some minute differences in the dress of the spectators, but none at all in their understandings; the quality of Brentford are as remarkable for politeness and delicacy, as the breeders of Newmarket. The quality of Brentford drive their own carts, and the honourable fraternity of Newmarket ride their own horses. In short, the matches in one place are as rational as those in the other; and it is more than probable, that turnips, dust, and dung, are all that can be found to furnish out description in either.
Forgive me, my friend, but a person like me, bred up in a philosophic seclusion, is apt to regard, perhaps with too much asperity, those occurrences which sink man below his station in nature, and diminish the intrinsic value of humanity.
From Fum Hoam to Lien Chi Altangi. You tell me the people of Europe are wise; but where lies their wisdom? You say they are valiant too ; yet I have some reasons to doubt of their valour. They are engaged in war among each other, yet apply to the Russians, their neighbours and ours, for assistance. Cultivating such an alliance argues at once imprudence and timidity. All subsidies paid for such an aid is strengthening the Russians, already too powerful, and weakening the employers, already exhausted by intestine commotions.
I cannot avoid beholding the Russian empire as the natural enemy of the more Western parts of Europe as an enemy already possessed of great strength, and, from the nature of the government, every day threatening to become more powerful. This extensive em
pire, which, both in Europe and Asia, occupies almost a third of the old world, was, about two centuries
ago, divided into separate kingdoms and dukedoms, and from such a division consequently feeble.
Since the times, however, of Johan Basilides, it has increased in strength and extent; and those untrodden forests, those innumerable savage animals which formerly covered the face of the country, are now removed and colonies of mankind planted in their room. A king. dom thus enjoying peace internally, possessed of an unbounded extent of dominion, and learning the military art at the expense of others abroad, must every day grow more powerful; and it is probable we shall hear Russia, in future times, as formerly, called the Officina Gentium.
It was long the wish of Peter their great monarch, to have a fort in some of the Western parts of Europe; many of his schemes and treaties were directed to this end, but happily for Europe he failed in them all. A fort in the power of this people would be like the possession of a flood-gate ; and whenever ambition, interest, or necessity prompted, they might then be able to deluge the whole Western world with a barbarous inundation.
Believe me, my friend, I cannot sufficiently contemn the politicians of Europe, who thus make this powerful people arbitrators in their quarrel. The Russians are now at that period between refinement and barbarity, which seems most adapted to military achievement, and if once they happen to get footing in the Western parts of Europe, it is not the feeble efforts of the sons of effeminacy, and dissention, that can serve to remove them. The fertile valley and soft climate will ever be sufficient inducements to draw whole myriads from their native descrts, the trackless wild, or snowy mountain.
History, experience, reason, nature, expand the book of wisdom before the eyes of mankind, but they will not read. We have seen with terror a winged phalanx of famished locusts each singly contemptible, but from multitude become hideous, cover, like clouds, the face of day, and threaten the world with ruin. We have scen them settling on the fertile plains of India and Egypt, destroying in an instant the labours and the hopes of nations ; sparing neither the fruit of the earth nor the verdure of the fields, and changing into a frightful desert landscapes of once luxuriant beauty. We have seen myriads of ants issuing together from the Southern desert, like a torrent whose source was inexhaustible, succeeding each other without end, and renewing their destroyed forces with unwearied perseverance, bringing desolation wherever they came, banishing men and animals, and, when destitute of all subsistence, in heaps infecting the wilderness which they had made ! Like these have been the migrations of men. When as yet savage, and almost resembling their brute partners in the forest, subject like them only to the instincts of Nature, and directed by hunger alone in the choice of an abode, how have we seen whole armies starting wild at once from their forests and their dens; Goths, Huns, Vandals, Saracens, Turks, Tartars, myriads of men, animals in human form, without country, without name, without laws, outpowering by numbers all opposition, ravaging cities, overturning empires, and, after having destroyed whole nations, and spread extensive desolation, how have we seen them sink oppressed by some new enemy, more barbarous and even more unknown than they !
LETTER LXXXVII. .
From Lien Chi Altangi to Fum Hoam, first President
of the Ceremonial Academy at Pekin, in China.
As the instruction of the fair sex in this country is entirely committed to the care of foreigners; as their language-masters, music-masters, hair-frizzers, and governesses, are all from abroad, I had some intentions of opening a female academy myself, and made no doubt, as I was quite a foreigner, of meeting a favourable reception.
In this I intended to instruct the ladies in all the conjugal mysteries ; wives should be taught the art of managing husbands, and maids the skill of properly choosing them; I would teach a wife how far she might venture to be sick without giving disgust; she should be acquainted with the great benefits of the cholic in the stomach, and all the thorough-bred insolence of fashion; maids should learn the secret of nicely distinguishing every competitor; they should be able to know the difference between a pedant and scholar, a citizen and a prig, a squire and his horse, a beau and his monkey; but chiefly they should be taught the art of managing their smiles, from the contemptuous simper to the long laborious laugh.
But I have discontinued the project; for what would signify teaching ladies the manner of governing or choosing husbands, when marriage is at present so much out of fashion, that a lady is very well off, who can get any husband at all. Celibacy now prevails in every rank of life, the streets are crouded with old bachelors, and the houses with ladies who have refused