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Seen every court, heard every king declare
We now proceeded in our journey towards the celebrated city of Shim-Sham; near to which stood the palace of the great King; and nothing particular occurred between these two places, but that we passed over a country called the Land of Secrets, where dwell a people with long lopping ears and little gimlet eyes. We had not time to make any inquiry into the customs and character of the na. tives ; but my guide promised, in compensation for this loss, to procure for me one of their ears for dissection, which I thought might be of great ad vantage to me, as it was my design to complete that moral anatomy of the human frame, of which the Spectator has given such excellent specimens in his account of the structure of a beau's head, and a coquette's heart.
While I was turning over these projects in my mind, we arrived at the city of Shim-Sham, wherein was kept the King's treasure, as well as the wardrobes of all the royal family. In this place every thing was mockery and imitation, and the shops were filled up with such articles as are vended by the pedlar Jews in our country. Every thing was hollow and unsubstantial, and the jewels of the King's crown were of a correspondent value. Here I observed a very consequential gentleman walking along as upright as a dart, with his hands spread out as if he had just washed them, and was waiting for a towel: he had three large leathern curls on each side, and a pair of very superb paper ruffles. After walking a few paces, I saw him step into a fine painted balloon-carriage, which my guide informed me was to conduct him to court. I could not hear this without signifying a very strong desire to follow him thither; which my guide no sooner understood, than he directed our aërial carriage towards the palace of his Inane Majesty.
We were soon conveyed to a structure of a very stately appearance, but which I afterwards understood could never be made to last above a year: here wealighted before a flight of steps, which conducted us to a saloon of prodigious extent, where all the courtiers were assembled. The strut and stare of this place did very much embarass me at first, and methought I wished myself in my great chair with my figured roquelaure. There was instantly such a press of courtiers about me, that my little frame could with difficulty support it; and I had some serious apprehensions of being smothered with the thronging assiduities of this polished crowd. Every one seemed to have known, or seen, or heard of me, so much that I began to feel humbled in the thought that my name was so much respected in the most nugatory portion of this realm of Nothing.
I was relieved, however, from this inquietude, by hearing the same sort of bastard compliments bandied about from one to the other among these hollow professors; Cæsar and Alexander were laid at the feet of those whose courage was to be commended; and, in the hey-day of their inverted comparisons, decayed dowagers and waning spinsters waxed young again by the defamation of the rose, the lily, and the coral. I was not much surprised to find that the edict of revocation, which was mentioned in my first paper on this subject, had hurried back vast numbers of our court gentry, and I seemed to have some recollection of almost every third face I met. His Inane Majesty was at the further end of the room, in a very singular dress. He had a hat of cork on his head, with a plumage of goose's feathers, which together presented an appearance not unlike a huge shuttlecock. His mantle was of whity-brown paper, ornamented with rows of beads; and his hair was tied up in a great blue bladder. As for his person,
it was swelled out to an unaccountable size; and a very fat unthinking face seemed to procure him the respect of all present. A kind of muddy liquor floated in his eyes, which his brows overhung like weeping willows. He carried the largest jewel that belonged to him at the end of his nose; and the courtiers best versed in flattery, were sure to begin with admiring its lustre and magnitude. His Majesty had an only son, who trod exactly in his steps, and promised to uphold the dignity of the sceptre: he had profited much under the most accomplished master in astrology, magic, magnetism, augury, necromancy, leger-de-main, conundrummaking, and punning; being the studies in the highest estimation in this kingdom, and deemed absolutely essential to the accomplishments of a young prince.
A mixture of gay and melancholy sentiments took place in my mind on contemplating this scene: on the one hand, the thought of seeing, at my return into my own dear country, the effects of this wide edict of revocation, in depriving our court of all those gaudy nothings that used to flutter about it like butterflies round a Mayflower, sḥaded with a sort of pensiveness the pleasure which I felt, on the other hand, in reflecting that now there would be room for conscious worth and high promise to press forward and recommend themselves to the notice of our own monarch.
Just as my kind conductor was taken me by the hand to present me to his Inane Majesty, the whole scene vanished from before me, and I seemed to be carried
in sort of sailing cloud to a consi. derable height in the air. The dread of falling so troubled my fancy, that the agitation awoke me; but for full ten minutes I imagined myself in my conductor's balloon, instead of the great chair by the fire-side. I had nearly forgotten to inform my reader, that, the instant before this visionary fabric dissolved, I could not help thinking that in the face of my inane friend who had shown me so much civility, there lurked a strong likeness of my old school-fellow the Projector: the lines of this resemblance were, however, very much obscured by the vast margin which the frothy and puffing elements of this country are sure to produce in every face.
No. 21. SATURDAY, MAY 19.
Ut flos in septis, secretus nascitur hortis,
Sweet is that flower which in retirement grows,
The other day, as I was pursuing an agreeable train of thought, in a view to the entertainment of the public, a letter from one of my town correspondents gave me so rude a check, that I was obliged to take three turns in the filbert-walk, to recover my composure.
The letter brought me advice of a very sore evil, in the commerce of society, which increases with a growth so rank and rapid, that all the spirit I can assume, and all the influence I can exert, must be condensed, in a manner, towards this one point for the present. The rage for gaming is the danger about which this alarum has been rung by my correspondent: and, if the facts and instances which