The citizen of the world: or, letters from a Chinese philosopher, residing in London, to his friends in the east. ... [pt.1]
Goldsmith, Oliver, 1730?-1774.
Page  26

LETTER VI.

Fum Hoam, first president of the ceremonial academy at Pekin, to Lien Chi Altangi, the discontented wan∣derer; by the way of Moscow.

WHETHER sporting on the flowery banks of the river Irtis, or scaling the steepy moun∣tains of Douchenour: Whether traversing the black deserts of Kobi, or giving lessons of politeness to the savage inhabitants of Europe. In whatever country, whatever climate, and whatever circumstances, all hail! May Tien, the universal soul, take you under his protection, and inspire you with a superior portion of himself.

How long, my friend, shall an enthusiasm for know∣ledge continue to obstruct your happiness, and tear you from all the connexions that make life pleasing? How long will you continue to rove from climate to climate, circled by thousands, and yet without a friend, feeling all the inconveniencies of a croud, and all the anxiety of being alone.

I know you will reply, that the refined pleasure of growing every day wiser, is a sufficient recompence for every inconvenience. I know you will talk of the vul∣gar satisfaction of soliciting happiness from sensual en∣joyment only; and probably enlarge upon the exquisite raptures of sentimental bliss. Yet, believe me, friend, you are deceived; all our pleasures, though seemingly never so remote from sense, derive their origin from some one of the senses. The most exquisite demonstra∣tion in mathematics, or the most pleasing disquisition in metaphysics, if it does not ultimately tend to increase Page  27 some sensual satisfaction, is delightful only to fools, or to men who have by long habit contracted a false idea of pleasure; and he who separates sensual and senti∣mental enjoyments, seeking happiness from mind alone, is in fact as wretched as the naked inhabitant of the fo∣rest, who places all happiness in the first, regardless of the latter. There are two extremes in this respect; the savage who swallows down the draught of pleasure without staying to reflect on his happiness, and the sage who passeth the cup while he reflects on the conveni∣encies of drinking.

It is with an heart full of sorrow, my dear Altangi, that I must inform you that what the world calls hap∣piness must now be yours no longer. Our great em∣peror's displeasure at your leaving China, contrary to the rules of our government, and the immemorial cus∣tom of the empire, has produced the most terrible ef∣fects. Your wife, daughter, and the rest of your fa∣mily have been seized by his order, and appropriated to his use; all except your son are now the peculiar pro∣perty of him who possesses all; him I have hidden from the officers employed for-this purpose; and even at the hazard of my life I have concealed him. The youth seems obstinately bent on finding you out, wherever you are; he is determined to face every danger that opposes his pursuit. Though yet but fifteen, all his father's virtues and obstinacy sparkle in his eyes, and mark him as one destined to no mediocrity of fortune.

You see, my dearest friend, what imprudence has brought thee to; from opulence, a tender family, sur∣rounding friends, and your master's esteem, it has re∣duced thee to want, persecution; and still worse, to our mighty monarch's displeasure. Want of prudence Page  28 is too frequently the want of virtue; nor is there on earth a more powerful advocate for vice than poverty. As I shall endeavour to guard thee from the one, so guard thyself from the other; and still think of me with affection and esteem.

Farewell.