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friend, PALAMEDES, who is as great a ram
bler in his principles as in his person, and who has run over, by ftudy and travel, almoft every region of the intellectual and material world, surprised me lately with an account of a nation, with whom, he told me, he had passed a considerable part of his life, and whom he found, in the main, a people extremely civilized and intelligent.
There is a country, said he, in the world, called FOURli, no matter for its longitude or latitude, whose inhabitants have ways of thinking, in many things, particularly in morals, diametrically oppofite to ours. When I came among them, I found that I must submit to double pains ; first to learn the meaning of the terms in their language, and then to know the import of those terms, and the praise or blame attached to them. After a word had been explained to me, and the character which it expressed had been described, I concluded, that such an epithet muft necessarily be the greatest reproach in the world; and was extremely surprised to find one in a public company apply it to a person, with whom he lived in the strictest intimacy and friendship. “ You fancy,” said I, one day to an acquaintance, “ that CHANGUIS is your mortal enemy: I love to “ extinguish quarrels; and I must therefore tell
you, that I heard him talk of you in the most obli
ging manner.” But to my great astonishment, when I repeated CHANGUIS's words, though I had
both remembered and understood them perfectly, I found, that they were taken for the moit mortal affront, and that I had very innocently rendered the breach between these persons altogether irreparable.
As it was my fortune to come among this people on a very advantageous footing, I was immediately introduced to the best company; and being desired by Alcheic to live with him, I readily accepted of his invitation; as I found him universally esteemed for his personal merit, and indeed regarded by every one in FOURLI as a perfect character.
One evening he invited me, as an amusement, to bear him company in a serenade, which he intended to give to Gulki, with whom, he told me, he was extremely enamoured ; and I foon found that his taste was not singular: For we met many of his rivals, who had come on the same errand. I very naturally concluded, that this mistress of his must be one of the finest women in town; and I already felt a secret inclination to see her, and be acquainted with her. But as the moon began to rise, I was much surprised to find, that we were in the midit of the university where Gulki ftudied : And I was somewhat ashamed for having attended my friend on such an errand.
I was afterwards told, that AlchEic's choice of Gulki was very much approved of by all the good company in town; and that it was expected, while he gratified his own passion, he would perform to that young man the same good office which he had himself owed to ELCOUF. It seems ALCHEIC had been very handsome in his youth, had been courted by many lovers; but had bestowed his favours chiefly on the fage ElCOUF; to whom he was supposed to owe, in a great measure, the astonishing progress which he had made in philosophy and virtue. It gave me some surprise, that Alchic's wife
(who by-the-bye happened also to be his fifter) was no wife fcandalized at this species of infidelity.
Much about the same time I discovered (for it was not attempted to be kept a secret from me or any body) that AlcheIC was a murderer and a parricide, and had put to death an innocent person, the most nearly connected with him, and whom he was bound to protect and defend by all the ties of nature and humanity. When I asked, with all the caution and deference imaginable, what was his motive for this action? he replied coolly, that he was not then so much at ease in his circumstances as he is at prefent, and that he had acted, in that particular, by the advice of all his friends.
Having heard AlchEic's virtue so extremely celebrated, I pretended to join in the general voice of acclamation, and only asked, by way of curiosity, as a stranger, which of all his noble actions was most highly applauded ? and I foon found, that all sentiments were united in giving the preference to the assassination of USBEK. This USBEK had been to the last moment ALCHEIC's intimate friend, had laid many high obligations upon him, had even saved his life on a certain occasion, and had by his will, which was found after the murder, made him heií' to a considerable part of his fortune. ALCHEIC, it seems, conspired with about twenty or thirty more, most of them also Usbek's friends; and falling altogether on that unhappy man, when he was not aware, they had torn him with a hundred wounds, and given him that reward for all his past favours and obligations. USBEK, said the general voice of the people, had many great and good qualities; his very vices were shining, magnificent, and generous: But this action of ALCHEIC's fets him far above UsBEK in the eyes of all judges of merit; and is one of the nobleft that ever perhaps the sun shone upon. Another
of ALCHEIC's conduct, which I also found highly applauded, was his behaviour towards
CALISH, with whom he was joined in a project or undertaking of some importance. Calish, being a passionate man, gave ALCHEIC one day a found drubbing; which he took very patiently, waited the return of Calish's good-humour, kept still a fair corespondence with him ; and by that means brought the affair, in which they were joined, to a happy issue, and gained to himself immortal honour by his remarkable temper and moderation.
I have lately received a letter from a correspondent in Fourli; by which I learn, that, since my departure, ALCHEIC, falling into a bad state of health, has fairly hanged himself; and has died universally regretted and applauded in that country. So virtuous and noble a life, says each FOURLIAN, . could not be better crowned than by so noble an end; and ALCHEIC has proved by this, as well as by all his other actions, what was his constant principle during his life, and what he boafted of near his last moments, that a wise man is scarcely inferior to the great god Vitzli. This is the name of the supreme deity among the FourLIANS.
The notions of this people, continued PALAMEDES, are as extraordinary with regard to good manners and sociableness as with regard to morals. My friend ALCHEIC formed once a party for my entertainment, composed of all the prime wits and philosophers of FOURLI; and each of us brought his mess along with him to the place where we assembled. I observed one of them to be worse provided than the rest, and offered him a share of my mess, which happened to be a roasted pullet : And I could not but remark, that he and all the rest of the company smiled at my fimplicity. I was told, that AlCheic had once so much interest with his club as to prevail with them to eat in common, and that he had made use of an artifice for that purpose. He persuaded those, whom he observed to be worst provided, to offer their mess to the company; after which, the others, 3.
who had brought more delicate fair, were ashamed not to make the fame offer. This is regarded as so extraordinary an event, that it has since, as I learn, been recorded in the history of AlchEIC's life, com. posed by one of the greateit geniuses of Fourli.
Pray, said I, PALAMEDES, when you were at Fourli, did you also learn the art of turning your friends into ridicule, by telling them strange stories, and then laughing at them, if they believed you. I assure you, replied he, had I been disposed to learn such a leffon, there was no place in the world more proper. My friend, so often mentioned, did nothing, from morning to night, but sneer, and banter, and rally; and you could scarcely ever diftinguish whether he were in jest or earnest. But think, then, that my story is improbable ; and that I have used, or rather abused, the privilege of a traveller? To be sure, said I, you were but in jeft. Such barbarous and favage manners are not only incompatible with a civilized, intelligent people, such as you said these were, but are scarcely compatible with human nature. They exceed all we ever read of among the MINGRELIANS and TOPINAMBOUS.
Have a care, cried he, have a care ! You are not aware that you are speaking blasphemy, and are abusing your favourites the GREEKS, especially the ATHENIANS, whom I have couched all along under these bizarre names I employed. If you consider aright, there is not one stroke of the foregoing character which might not be found in the man of highest merit at ATHENS, without diminishing in the least from the brightness of his character. The amours of the GREEKS, their marriages *, and the exposing of their children, cannot but strike you immediately. The death of USBEK is an exact counter-part to that of CÆSAR.
parallel * The laws of Athens allowed a man to marry his sister by the father. Solon's law forbids pæderafty to saves, as being an act of too great dignity for such mean perfons.