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tricks; and too improvident to mind what may happen. I am appeased, though not contented. Too indolent for intrigue, and too timid to push for favour, I am—but what signifies what
CITIZEN OF THE WORLD
FRIENDS IN THE EAST.
To Mr ****, Merchant in London.
Amsterdam. Yours of the 13th instant, covering two bills, one on Messrs R. and D. value 4781. 1os. and the other on Mr**** value 285l., duly came to hand, the former of which met with honour, but the other has been trifled with, and I am afraid will be returned protested.
The bearer of this is my friend, therefore let him be yours. He is a native of Honan in China, and one who did me signal services, when he was a mandarine, and I a factor, at Canton. By frequently conversing with the English there, he has learned the language, though he is entirely a stranger to their manners and customs. I am told he is a philosopher; I am sure he is an honest man: that to you will be his best recommendation, next to the consideration of his being the friend of, sir,
From Lien Chi Altangi, to ****, Merchant in Amsterdam.
FRIEND OF MY HEART,
May the wings of peace rest upon thy dwelling, and the shield of conscience preserve thee from vice and misery! For all thy favours accept my gratitude and esteem, the only tributes a poor philosophic wanderer can return. Sure, fortune is resolved to make me unhappy, when she gives others a power of testifying their friendship by actions, and leaves me only words to express the sincerity of mine.
I am perfectly sensible of the delicacy with which you endeavour to lessen your own merit and my obligations By calling your late instances of friendship only a return for former favours, you would induce me to impute to your justice what I owe to your generosity.
The services I did you at Canton, justice, humanity, and my office, bade me perform; those you have done me since my arrival at Amsterdam, no laws obliged you to, no justice required,—even half
your favours would have been greater than my most sanguine expectations.
The sum of money, therefore, which you privately conveyed into my baggage, when I was leaving Holland, and which I was ignorant of till my arrival in London, I must beg leave to return. You have been bred a merchant, and I a scholar; you consequently love money better than I. You can find pleasure in superfluity; I am perfectly content with what is sufficient. Take therefore what is yours,
it may give you some pleasure, even though you have no occasion to use it; my happiness it cannot improve, for have already all that I want.
My passage by sea from Rotterdam to England was more painful to me than all the journeys I ever made on land. I have traversed the immeasurable wilds of Mogul Tartary; felt all the rigours of Siberian skies : I have had my repose a hundred times disturbed by invading savages, and have seen, without shrinking, the desert sands rise like a troubled ocean all around me: against these calamities I was armed with resolution ; but in my passage to England, though nothing occurred that gave the mariners any uneasiness, to one who was never at sea before, all was a subject of astonishment and terror. To find the land disappear, to see our ship mount the waves, swift as an arrow from the Tartar bow, to hear the wind howling through the cordage, to feel a sickness which depresses even the spirits of the brave; these were unexpected distresses, and consequently assaulted me unprepared to receive them.
You men of Europe think nothing of a voyage by sea. With us of China, a man who has been from sight of land is regarded upon his return with admiration. I have known some provinces where there is not even a name for the Ocean. What a strange people, therefore, am I got amongst, who have founded an empire on this unstable element, who build cities upon billows that rise higher than the mountains of Tipertala, and make the deep more formidable than the wildest tempest!
Such accounts as these, I must confess, were my first motives for seeing England. These induced me to undertake a journey of seven hundred painful days, in order to examine its opulence, buildings, sciences, arts, and manufactures, on the spot. Judge then my disappointment on entering London, to see no signs of that opulence so much talked of abroad : wherever I turn, I am presented with a
gloomy solemnity in the houses, the streets, and the inhabitants; none of that beautiful gilding which makes a principal ornament in Chinese architecture. The streets of Nankin are sometimes strewed with gold-leaf; very different are those of London: in the midst of their pavements, a great lazy puddle moves muddily along; heavy laden machines, with wheels of unwieldy thickness, crowd up every passage; so that a stranger, instead of finding time for observation, is often happy if he has time to escape from being crushed to pieces.
The houses borrow very few ornaments from architecture; their chief decoration seems to be a paltry piece of painting hung out at their doors or windows, at once a proof of their indigence and vanity : their vanity, in each having one of those pictures exposed to public view; and their indigence, in being unable to get them better painted. In this respect, the fancy of their painters is also deplorable. Could you believe it? I have seen five black lions and three blue boars, in less than the circuit of half a mile; and yet you know that animals of these colours are no where to be found except in the wild imaginations of Europe.
From these circumstances in their buildings, and from the dismal looks of the inhabitants, I am induced to conclude that the nation is actually poor; and that, like the Persians, they make a splendid figure every where but at home. The proverb of Xixofou is, that a man's riches
may be seen in his eyes : if we judge of the English by this rule, there is not a poorer nation under the sun.
I have been here but two days, so will not be hasty in my decisions. Such letters as I shall write to Fipsihi in Moscow, I beg you'll endeavour to forward with all diligence; I shall send them open, in order that you may take