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Title: Hieroglyphic Tales
Author: Walpole, Horace, 1717-1797
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Hieroglyphic Tales" ***

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[Transcriber's Note: Archaic spellings in the original text have been
retained in this version.]


_Schah Baham ne comprenoit jamais bien que les choses absurdes & hors de
toute vraisemblance._

Le Sopha, p. 5.



As the invaluable present I am making to the world may not please all
tastes, from the gravity of the matter, the solidity of the reasoning,
and the deep learning contained in the ensuing sheets, it is necessary
to make some apology for producing this work in so trifling an age, when
nothing will go down but temporary politics, personal satire, and idle
romances. The true reason then for my surmounting all these objections
was singly this: I was apprehensive lest the work should be lost to
posterity; and though it may be condemned at present, I can have no
doubt but it will be treated with due reverence some hundred ages hence,
when wisdom and learning shall have gained their proper ascendant over
mankind, and when men shall only read for instruction and improvement of
their minds. As I shall print an hundred thousand copies, some, it may
be hoped, will escape the havoc that is made of moral works, and then
this jewel will shine forth in its genuine lustre. I was in the greater
hurry to consign this work to the press, as I foresee that the art of
printing will ere long be totally lost, like other useful discoveries
well known to the ancients. Such were the art of dissolving rocks with
hot vinegar, of teaching elephants to dance on the slack rope, of making
malleable glass, of writing epic poems that any body would read after
they had been published a month, and the stupendous invention of new
religions, a secret of which illiterate Mahomet was the last person

Notwithstanding this my zeal for good letters, and the ardour of my
universal citizenship, (for I declare I design this present for all
nations) there are some small difficulties in the way, that prevent my
conferring this my great benefaction on the world compleatly and all at
once. I am obliged to produce it in small portions, and therefore beg
the prayers of all good and wise men that my life may be prolonged to
me, till I shall be able to publish the whole work, no man else being
capable of executing the charge so well as myself, for reasons that my
modesty will not permit me to specify. In the mean time, as it is the
duty of an editor to acquaint the world with what relates to himself as
well as his author, I think it right to mention the causes that compel
me to publish this work in numbers. The common reason of such proceeding
is to make a book dearer for the ease of the purchasers, it being
supposed that most people had rather give twenty shillings by sixpence a
fortnight, than pay ten shillings once for all. Public spirited as this
proceeding is, I must confess my reasons are more and merely personal.
As my circumstances are very moderate, and barely sufficient to maintain
decently a gentleman of my abilities and learning, I cannot afford to
print at once an hundred thousand copies of two volumes in folio, for
that will be the whole mass of Hieroglyphic Tales when the work is
perfected. In the next place, being very asthmatic, and requiring a free
communication of air, I lodge in the uppermost story of a house in an
alley not far from St. Mary Axe; and as a great deal of good company
lodges in the same mansion, it was by a considerable favour that I could
obtain a single chamber to myself; which chamber is by no means large
enough to contain the whole impression, for I design to vend the copies
myself, and, according to the practice of other great men, shall sign
the first sheet my self with my own hand.

Desirous as I am of acquainting the world with many more circumstances
relative to myself, some private considerations prevent my indulging
their curiosity any farther at present; but I shall take care to leave
so minute an account of myself to some public library, that the future
commentators and editors of this work shall not be deprived of all
necessary lights. In the mean time I beg the reader to accept the
temporary compensation of an account of the author whose work I am

The Hieroglyphic Tales were undoubtedly written a little before the
creation of the world, and have ever since been preserved, by oral
tradition, in the mountains of Crampcraggiri, an uninhabited island,
not yet discovered. Of these few facts we could have the most authentic
attestations of several clergymen, who remember to have heard them
repeated by old men long before they, the said clergymen, were born.
We do not trouble the reader with these attestations, as we are sure
every body will believe them as much as if they had seen them. It is more
difficult to ascertain the true author. We might ascribe them with great
probability to Kemanrlegorpikos, son of Quat; but besides that we are
not certain that any such person ever existed, it is not clear that he
ever wrote any thing but a book of cookery, and that in heroic verse.
Others give them to Quat's nurse, and a few to Hermes Trismegistus,
though there is a passage in the latter's treatise on the harpsichord
which directly contradicts the account of the first volcano in the
114th. of the Hieroglyphic Tales. As Trismegistus's work is lost, it
is impossible to decide now whether the discordance mentioned is so
positive as has been asserted by many learned men, who only guess at the
opinion of Hermes from other passages in his writings, and who indeed
are not sure whether he was speaking of volcanoes or cheesecakes, for
he drew so ill, that his hieroglyphics may often be taken for the most
opposite things in nature; and as there is no subject which he has not
treated, it is not precisely known what he was discussing in any one
of them.

This is the nearest we can come to any certainty with regard to the
author. But whether he wrote the Tales six thousand years ago, as we
believe, or whether they were written for him within these ten years,
they are incontestably the most ancient work in the world; and though
there is little imagination, and still less invention in them; yet there
are so many passages in them exactly resembling Homer, that any man
living would conclude they were imitated from that great poet, if it was
not certain that Homer borrowed from them, which I shall prove two ways:
first, by giving Homer's parallel passages at the bottom of the page;
and secondly, by translating Homer himself into prose, which shall make
him so unlike himself, that nobody will think he could be an original
writer: and when he is become totally lifeless and insipid, it will be
impossible but these Tales should be preferred to the Iliad; especially
as I design to put them into a kind of style that shall be neither verse
nor prose; a diction lately much used in tragedies and heroic poems, the
former of which are really heroic poems from want of probability, as an
antico-moderno epic poem is in fact a meer tragedy, having little or no
change of scene, no incidents but a ghost and a storm, and no events but
the deaths of the principal actors.

I will not detain the reader longer from the perusal of this invaluable
work; but I must beseech the public to be expeditious in taking off the
whole impression, as fast as I can get it printed; because I must inform
them that I have a more precious work in contemplation; namely, a new
Roman history, in which I mean to ridicule, detect and expose, all
ancient virtue, and patriotism, and shew from original papers which
I am going to write, and which I shall afterwards bury in the ruins of
Carthage and then dig up, that it appears by the letters of Hanno the
Punic embassador at Rome, that Scipio was in the pay of Hannibal, and
that the dilatoriness of Fabius proceeded from his being a pensioner
of the Same general. I own this discovery will pierce my heart; but as
morality is best taught by shewing how little effect it had on the best
of men, I will sacrifice the most virtuous names for the instruction of
the present wicked generation; and I cannot doubt but when once they
have learnt to detest the favourite heroes of antiquity, they will
become good subjects of the most pious king that ever lived since David,
who expelled the established royal family, and then sung psalms to the
memory of Jonathan, to whose prejudice he had succeeded to the throne.


_A new Arabian Night's Entertainment._

At the foot of the great mountain Hirgonqúu was anciently situated the
kingdom of Larbidel. Geographers, who are not apt to make such just
comparisons, said, it resembled a football just going to be kicked away;
and so it happened; for the mountain kicked the kingdom into the ocean,
and it has never been heard of since.

One day a young princess had climbed up to the top of the mountain to
gather goat's eggs, the whites of which are excellent for taking off
freckles.--Goat's eggs!--Yes--naturalists hold that all Beings are
conceived in an egg. The goats of Hirgonqúu might be oviparous, and lay
their eggs to be hatched by the sun. This is my supposition; no matter
whether I believe it myself or not. I will write against and abuse any
man that opposes my hypothesis. It would be fine indeed if learned men
were obliged to believe what they assert.

The other side of the mountain was inhabited by a nation of whom the
Larbidellians knew no more than the French nobility do of Great Britain,
which they think is an island that some how or other may be approached
by land. The princess had strayed into the confines of Cucurucu, when
she suddenly found herself seized by the guards of the prince that
reigned in that country. They told her in few words that she must be
conveyed to the capital and married to the giant their lord and emperor.
The giant, it seems, was fond of having a new wife every night, who was
to tell him a story that would last till morning, and then have her head
cut off--such odd ways have some folks of passing their wedding-nights!
The princess modestly asked, why their master loved such long stories?
The captain of the guard replied, his majesty did not sleep well--Well!
said she, and if he does not!--not but I believe I can tell as long
stories as any princess in Asia. Nay, I can repeat Leonidas by heart,
and your emperor must be wakeful indeed if he can hold out against that.

By this time they were arrived at the palace. To the great surprise of
the princess, the emperor, so far from being a giant, was but five feet
one inch in height; but being two inches taller than any of his
predecessors, the flattery of his courtiers had bestowed the name of
_giant_ on him; and he affected to look down upon any man above his own
stature. The princess was immediately undressed and put to bed, his
majesty being impatient to hear a new story.

Light of my eyes, said the emperor, what is your name? I call myself the
princess Gronovia, replied she; but my real appellation is the frow
Gronow. And what is the use of a name, said his majesty, but to be
called by it? And why do you pretend to be a princess, if you are not?
My turn is romantic, answered she, and I have ever had an ambition of
being the heroine of a novel. Now there are but two conditions that
entitle one to that rank; one must be a shepherdess or a princess. Well,
content yourself, said the giant, you will die an empress, without
being either the one or the other! But what sublime reason had you for
lengthening your name so unaccountably? It is a custom in my family,
said she: all my ancestors were learned men, who wrote about the Romans.
It sounded more classic, and gave a higher opinion of their literature,
to put a Latin termination to their names. All this is Japonese to me,
said the emperor; but your ancestors seem to have been a parcel of
mountebanks. Does one understand any thing the better for corrupting
one's name? Oh, said the princess, but it shewed taste too. There was
a time when in Italy the learned carried this still farther; and a man
with a large forehead, who was born on the fifth of January, called
himself Quintus Januarius Fronto. More and more absurd, said the
emperor. You seem to have a great deal of impertinent knowledge about a
great many impertinent people; but proceed in your story: whence came
you? Mynheer, said she, I was born in Holland--The deuce you was, said
the emperor, and where is that? It was no where, replied the princess,
spritelily, till my countrymen gained it from the sea--Indeed, moppet!
said his majesty; and pray who were your countrymen, before you had any
country? Your majesty asks a vey shrewd question, said she, which I
cannot resolve on a sudden; but I will step home to my library, and
consult five or six thousand volumes of modern history, an hundred or
two dictionaries, and an abridgment of geography in forty volumes in
folio, and be back in an instant. Not so fast, my life, said the
emperor, you must not rise till you go to execution; it is now one in
the morning, and you have not begun your story.

My great grandfather, continued the princess, was a Dutch merchant, who
passed many years in Japan--On what account? said the emperor. He went
thither to abjure his religion, said she, that he might get money enough
to return and defend it against Philip 2d. You are a pleasant family,
said the emperor; but though I love fables, I hate genealogies. I know
in all families, by their own account, there never was any thing but
good and great men from father to son; a sort of fiction that does not
at all amuse me. In my dominions there is no nobility but flattery.
Whoever flatters me best is created a great lord, and the titles I
confer are synonimous to their merits. There is Kiss-my-breech-Can, my
favourite; Adulation-Can, lord treasurer; Prerogative-Can, head of the
law; and Blasphemy-Can, high-priest. Whoever speaks truth, corrupts his
blood, and is ipso facto degraded. In Europe you allow a man to be noble
because one of his ancestors was a flatterer. But every thing
degenerates, the farther it is removed from its source. I will not hear
a word of any of your race before your father: what was he?

It was in the height of the contests about the bull unigenitus--I tell
you, interrupted the emperor, I will not be plagued with any more of
those people with Latin names: they were a parcel of coxcombs, and seem
to have infected you with their folly. I am sorry, replied Gronovia,
that your sublime highness is so little acquainted with the state of
Europe, as to take a papal ordinance for a person. Unigenitus is Latin
for the Jesuits--And who the devil are the Jesuits? said the giant.
You explain one nonsensical term by another, and wonder I am never the
wiser. Sir, said the princess, if you will permit me to give you a short
account of the troubles that have agitated Europe for these last two
hundred years, on the doctrines of grace, free-will, predestination,
reprobation, justification, &c. you will be more entertained, and will
believe less, than if I told your majesty a long story of fairies and
goblins. You are an eternal prater, said the emperor, and very
self-sufficient; but talk your fill, and upon what subject you like till
tomorrow morning; but I swear by the soul of the holy Jirigi, who rode
to heaven on the tail of a magpie, as soon as the clock strikes eight,
you are a dead woman. Well, who was the Jesuit Unigenitus?

The novel doctrines that had sprung up in Germany, said Gronovia, made
it necessary for the church to look about her. The disciples of
Loyola--Of whom? said the emperor, yawning--Ignatius Loyola, the founder
of the Jesuits, replied Gronovia, was--A writer of Roman history, I
suppose, interrupted the emperor: what the devil were the Romans to you,
that you trouble your head so much about them? The empire of Rome, and
the church of Rome, are two distinct things, said the princess; and yet,
as one may say, the one depends upon the other, as the new testament
does on the old. One destroyed the other, and yet pretends a right to
its inheritance. The temporalities of the church--What's o'clock, said
the emperor to the chief eunuch? it cannot sure be far from eight--this
woman has gossipped at least seven hours. Do you hear, my
tomorrow-night's wife shall be dumb--cut her tongue out before you bring
her to our bed. Madam, said the eunuch, his sublime highness, whose
erudition passes the lands of the sea, is too well acquainted with all
human sciences to require information. It is therefore that his exalted
wisdom prefers accounts of what never happened, to any relation either
in history or divinity--You lie, said the emperor; when I exclude truth,
I certainly do not mean to forbid divinity--How many divinities have
you in Europe, woman? The council of Trent, replied Gronovia, has
decided--the emperor began to snore--I mean, continued Gronovia, that
notwithstanding all father Paul has asserted, cardinal Palavicini
affirms that in the three first sessions of that council--the emperor
was now fast asleep, which the princess and the chief eunuch perceiving,
clapped several pillows upon his face, and held them there till he
expired. As soon as they were convinced he was dead, the princess,
putting on every mark of despair and concern, issued to the divan,
where she was immediately proclaimed empress. The emperor, it was given
out, had died of an hermorrhoidal cholic, but to shew her regard for his
memory, her imperial majesty declared she would strictly adhere to the
maxims by which he had governed. Accordingly she espoused a new husband
every night, but dispensed with their telling her stories, and was
graciously pleased also, upon their good behaviour, to remit the
subsequent execution. She sent presents to all the learned men in Asia;
and they in return did not fail to cry her up as a pattern of clemency,
wisdom, and virtue: and though the panegyrics of the learned are
generally as clumsy as they are fulsome, they ventured to allure her
that their writings would be as durable as brass, and that the memory of
her glorious reign would reach to the latest posterity.


_The King and his three Daughters_.

There was formerly a king, who had three daughters--that is, he would
have had three, if he had had one more, but some how or other the eldest
never was born. She was extremely handsome, had a great deal of wit, and
spoke French in perfection, as all the authors of that age affirm, and
yet none of them pretend that she ever existed. It is very certain that
the two other princesses were far from beauties; the second had a strong
Yorkshire dialect, and the youngest had bad teeth and but one leg, which
occasioned her dancing very ill.

As it was not probable that his majesty would have any more children,
being eighty-seven years, two months, and thirteen days old when his
queen died, the states of the kingdom were very anxious to have the
princesses married. But there was one great obstacle to this settlement,
though so important to the peace of the kingdom. The king insisted that
his eldest daughter should be married first, and as there was no such
person, it was very difficult to fix upon a proper husband for her. The
courtiers all approved his majesty's resolution; but as under the best
princes there will always be a number of discontented, the nation was
torn into different factions, the grumblers or patriots insisting that
the second princess was the eldest, and ought to be declared heiress
apparent to the crown. Many pamphlets were written pro and con, but
the ministerial party pretended that the chancellor's argument was
unanswerable, who affirmed, that the second princess could not be the
eldest, as no princess-royal ever had a Yorkshire accent. A few persons
who were attached to the youngest princess, took advantage of this plea
for whispering that _her_ royal highness's pretensions to the crown were
the best of all; for as there was no eldest princess, and as the second
must be the first, if there was no first, and as she could not be the
second if she was the first, and as the chancellor had proved that she
could not be the first, it followed plainly by every idea of law that
she could be nobody at all; and then the consequence followed of course,
that the youngest must be the eldest, if she had no elder sister.

It is inconceivable what animosities and mischiefs arose from these
different titles; and each faction endeavoured to strengthen itself
by foreign alliances. The court party having no real object for their
attachment, were the most attached of all, and made up by warmth for
the want of foundation in their principles. The clergy in general were
devoted to this, which was styled _the first party_. The physicians
embraced the second; and the lawyers declared for the third, or the
faction of the youngest princess, because it seemed best calculated to
admit of doubts and endless litigation.

While the nation was in this distracted situation, there arrived the
prince of Quifferiquimini, who would have been the most accomplished
hero of the age, if he had not been dead, and had spoken any language
but the Egyptian, and had not had three legs. Notwithstanding these
blemishes, the eyes of the whole nation were immediately turned upon
him, and each party wished to see him married to the princess whose
cause they espoused.

The old king received him with the most distinguished honours; the
senate made the most fulsome addresses to him; the princesses were so
taken with him, that they grew more bitter enemies than ever; and the
court ladies and petit-maitres invented a thousand new fashions upon his
account--every thing was to be à la Quifferiquimini. Both men and women
of fashion left off rouge to look the more cadaverous; their cloaths
were embroidered with hieroglyphics, and all the ugly characters they
could gather from Egyptian antiquities, with which they were forced to
be contented, it being impossible to learn a language that is lost; and
all tables, chairs, stools, cabinets and couches, were made with only
three legs; the last, howver, soon went out of fashion, as being very

The prince, who, ever since his death, had had but a weakly
constitution, was a little fatigued with this excess of attentions,
and would often wish himself at home in his coffin. But his greatest
difficulty of all was to get rid of the youngest princess, who kept
hopping after him wherever he went, and was so full of admiration
of his three legs, and so modest about having but one herself, and so
inquisitive to know how his three legs were set on, that being the best
natured man in the world, it went to his heart whenever in a fit of
peevishness he happened to drop an impatient word, which never failed to
throw her into an agony of tears, and then she looked so ugly that it
was impossible for him to be tolerably civil to her. He was not much
more inclined to the second princess--In truth, it was the eldest who
made the conquest of his affections: and so violently did his passion
encrease one Tuesday morning, that breaking through all prudential
considerations (for there were many reasons which ought to have
determined his choice in favour of either of the other sisters) he
hurried to the old king, acquainted him with his love, and demanded the
eldest princess in marriage. Nothing could equal the joy of the good old
monarch, who wished for nothing but to live to see the consummation of
this match. Throwing his arms about the prince-skeleton's neck and
watering his hollow cheeks with warm tears, he granted his request, and
added, that he would immediately resign his crown to him and his
favourite daughter.

I am forced for want of room to pass over many circumstances that would
add greatly to the beauty of this history, and am sorry I must dash the
reader's impatience by acquainting him, that notwithstanding the
eagerness of the old king and youthful ardour of the prince, the
nuptials were obliged to be postponed; the archbishop declaring that it
was essentially necessary to have a dispensation from the pope, the
parties being related within the forbidden degrees; a woman that never
was, and a man that had been, being deemed first cousins in the eye of
the canon law.

Hence arose a new difficulty. The religion of the Quifferiquiminians was
totally opposite to that of the papists. The former believed in nothing
but grace; and they had a high-priest of their own, who pretended that
he was master of the whole fee-simple of grace, and by that possession
could cause every thing to have been that never had been, and could
prevent every thing that had been from ever having been. "We have
nothing to do, said the prince to the king, but to send a solemn embassy
to the high-priest of grace, with a present of a hundred thousand
million of ingots, and he will cause your charming no-daughter to have
been, and will prevent my having died, and then there will be no
occasion for a dispensation from your old fool at Rome."--How! thou
impious, atheistical bag of drybones, cried the old king; dost thou
profane our holy religion? Thou shalt have no daughter of mine, thou
three-legged skeleton--Go and be buried and be damned, as thou must be;
for as thou art dead, thou art past repentance: I would sooner give my
child to a baboon, who has one leg more than thou hast, than bestow her
on such a reprobate corpse--You had better give your one-legged infanta
to the baboon, said the prince, they are fitter for one another--As much
a corpse as I am, I am preferable to nobody; and who the devil would
have married your no-daughter, but a dead body! For my religion, I lived
and died in it, and it is not in my power to change it now if I
would--but for your part--a great shout interrupted this dialogue, and
the captain of the guard rushing into the royal closet, acquainted his
majesty, that the second princess, in revenge of the prince's neglect,
had given her hand to a drysalter, who was a common-council-man, and
that the city, in consideration of the match, had proclaimed them king
and queen, allowing his majesty to retain the title for his life, which
they had fixed for the term of six months; and ordering, in respect of
his royal birth, that the prince should immediately lie in state and
have a pompous funeral.

This revolution was so sudden and so universal, that all parties
approved, or were forced to seem to approve it. The old king died the
next day, as the courtiers said, for joy; the prince of Quifferiquimini
was buried in spite of his appeal to the law of nations; and the
youngest princess went distracted, and was shut up in a madhouse,
calling out day and night for a husband with three legs.


_The Dice-Box. A Fairy Tale._

_Translated from the French Translation of the Countess DAUNOIS, for the
Entertainment of Miss CAROLINE CAMPBELL._ [_Eldest daughter of lord
William Campbell; she lived with her aunt the countess of Ailesbury._]

There was a merchant of Damascus named Aboulcasem, who had an only
daughter called Pissimissi, which signifies _the waters of Jordan_;
because a fairy foretold at her birth that she would be one of Solomon's
concubines. Azaziel, the angel of death, having transported Aboulcasem
to the regions of bliss, he had no fortune to bequeath to his beloved
child but the shell of a pistachia-nut drawn by an elephant and a
ladybird. Pissimissi, who was but nine years old, and who had been been
kept in great confinement, was impatient to see the world; and no sooner
was the breath out of her father's body, than she got into the car, and
whipping her elephant and ladybird, drove out of the yard as fast as
possible, without knowing whither she was going. Her coursers never
stopped till they came to the foot of a brazen tower, that had neither
doors nor windows, in which lived an old enchantress, who had locked
herself up there with seventeen thousand husbands. It had but one single
vent for air, which was a small chimney grated over, through which it
was scarce possible to put one's hand. Pissimissi, who was very
impatient, ordered her coursers to fly with her up to the top of the
chimney, which, as they were the most docile creatures in the world,
they immediately did; but unluckily the fore paw of the elephant
lighting on the top of the chimney, broke down the grate by its weight,
but at the same time stopped up the passage so entirely, that all the
enchantress's husbands were stifled for want of air. As it was a
collection she had made with great care and cost, it is easy to imagine
her vexation and rage. She raised a storm of thunder and lightning that
lasted eight hundred and four years; and having conjured up an army of
two thousand devils, she ordered them to flay the elephant alive, and
dress it for her supper with anchovy sauce. Nothing could have saved the
poor beast, if, struggling to get loose from the chimney, he had not
happily broken wind, which it seems is a great preservative against
devils. They all flew a thousand ways, and in their hurry carried away
half the brazen tower, by which means the elephant, the car, the
ladybird, and Pissimissi got loose; but in their fall tumbled through
the roof of an apothecary's shop, and broke all his bottles of physic.
The elephant, who was very dry with his fatigue, and who had not much
taste, immediately sucked up all the medicines with his proboscis, which
occasioned such a variety of effects in his bowels, that it was well
he had such a strong constitution, or he must have died of it. His
evacuations were so plentiful, that he not only drowned the tower of
Babel, near which the apothecary's shop stood, but the current ran
fourscore leagues till it came to the sea, and there poisoned so many
whales and leviathans, that a pestilence ensued, and lasted three years,
nine months and sixteen days. As the elephant was extremely weakened by
what had happened, it was impossible for him to draw the car for
eighteen months, which was a cruel delay to Pissimissi's impatience,
who during all that time could not travel above a hundred miles a day,
for as she carried the sick animal in her lap, the poor ladybird could
not make longer stages with no assistance. Besides, Pissimissi bought
every thing she saw wherever she came; and all was crouded into the car
and stuffed into the seat. She had purchased ninety-two dolls, seventeen
baby-houses, six cart-loads of sugar-plumbs, a thousand ells of
gingerbread, eight dancing dogs, a bear and a monkey, four toy-shops
with all their contents, and seven dozen of bibs and aprons of the
newest fashion. They were jogging on with all this cargo over mount
Caucasus, when an immense humming-bird, who had been struck with the
beauty of the ladybird's wings, that I had forgot to say were of ruby
spotted with black pearls, sousing down at once upon her prey, swallowed
ladybird, Pissimissi, the elephant, and all their commodities. It
happened that the humming-bird belonged to Solomon; he let it out of its
cage every morning after breakfast, and it constantly came home by the
time the council broke up. Nothing could equal the surprise of his
majesty and the courtiers, when the dear little creature arrived with
the elephant's proboscis hanging out of its divine little bill.
However, after the first astonishment was over, his majesty, who to be
sure was wisdom itself, and who understood natural philosophy that it
was a charm to hear him discourse of those matters, and who was actually
making a collection of dried beasts and birds in twelve thousand volumes
of the best fool's-cap paper, immediately perceived what had happened,
and taking out of the side-pocket of his breeches a diamond
toothpick-case of his own turning, with the toothpick made of the only
unicorn's horn he ever saw, he stuck it into the elephant's snout, and
began to draw it out: but all his philosophy was confounded, when jammed
between the elephant's legs he perceived the head of a beautiful girl,
and between her legs a baby-house, which with the wings extended thirty
feet, out of the windows of which rained a torrent of sugar-plumbs, that
had been placed there to make room. Then followed the bear, who had been
pressed to the bales of gingerbread and was covered all over with it,
and looked but uncouthly; and the monkey with a doll in every paw, and
his pouches so crammed with sugar-plumbs that they hung on each side of
him, and trailed on the ground behind like the duchess of ----'s
beautiful breasts. Solomon, however, gave small attention to this
procession, being caught with the charms of the lovely Pissimissi: he
immediately began the song of songs extempore; and what he had seen--I
mean, all that came out of the humming-bird's throat had made such a
jumble in his ideas, that there was nothing so unlike to which he did
not compare all Pissimissi's beauties. As he sung his canticles too
to no tune, and god knows had but a bad voice, they were far from
comforting Pissimissi: the elephant had torn her best bib and apron, and
she cried and roared, and kept such a squalling, that though Solomon
carried her in his arms, and showed her all the fine things in the
temple, there was no pacifying her. The queen of Sheba, who was playing
at backgammon with the high-priest, and who came every October to
converse with Solomon, though she did not understand a word of Hebrew,
hearing the noise, came running out of her dressing-room; and seeing the
king with a squalling child in his arms, asked him peevishly, if it
became his reputed wisdom to expose himself with his bastards to all the
court? Solomon, instead of replying, kept singing, "We have a little
sister, and she has no breasts;" which so provoked the Sheban princess,
that happening to have one of the dice-boxes in her hand, she without
any ceremony threw it at his head. The enchantress, whom I mentioned
before, and who, though invisible, had followed Pissimissi, and drawn
her into her train of misfortunes, turned the dice-box aside, and
directed it to Pissimissi's nose, which being something flat, like
madame de ----'s, it stuck there, and being of ivory, Solomon ever after
compared his beloved's nose to the tower that leads to Damascus. The
queen, though ashamed of her behaviour, was not in her heart sorry for
the accident; but when she found that it only encreased the monarch's
passion, her contempt redoubled; and calling him a thousand old fools to
herself, she ordered her post-chaise and drove away in a fury, without
leaving sixpence for the servants; and nobody knows what became of her
or her kingdom, which has never been heard of since.


_The Peach in Brandy. A Milesian Tale._

Fitz Scanlan Mac Giolla l'ha druig,[1] king of Kilkenny, the thousand
and fifty-seventh descendant in a direct line from Milesius king of
Spain, had an only daughter called Great A, and by corruption Grata; who
being arrived at years of discretion, and perfectly initiated by her
royal parents in the arts of government, the fond monarch determined to
resign his crown to her: having accordingly assembled the senate, he
declared his resolution to them, and having delivered his sceptre into
the princess's hand, he obliged her to ascend the throne; and to set the
example, was the first to kiss her hand, and vow eternal obedience to
her. The senators were ready to stifle the new queen with panegyrics and
addresses; the people, though they adored the old king, were transported
with having a new sovereign, and the university, according to custom
immemorial, presented her majesty, three months after every body had
forgotten the event, with testimonials of the excessive sorrow and
excessive joy they felt on losing one monarch and getting another.

Her majesty was now in the fifth year of her age, and a prodigy of sense
and goodness. In her first speech to the senate, which she lisped with
inimitable grace, she assured them that her [2] heart was entirely
Irish, and that she did not intend any longer to go in leading-strings,
as a proof of which she immediately declared her nurse prime-minister.
The senate applauded this sage choice with even greater encomiums
than the last, and voted a free gift to the queen of a million of
sugar-plumbs, and to the favourite of twenty thousand bottles of
usquebaugh. Her majesty then jumping from her throne, declared it was
her royal pleasure to play at blindman's-buff, but such a hub-bub arose
from the senators pushing, and pressing, and squeezing, and punching one
another, to endeavour to be the first blinded, that in the scuffle her
majesty was thrown down and got a bump on her forehead as big as a
pigeon's egg, which set her a squalling, that you might have heard her
to Tipperary. The old king flew into a rage, and snatching up the mace
knocked out the chancellor's brains, who at that time happened not to
have any; and the queen-mother, who sat in a tribune above to see the
ceremony, fell into a fit and [3] miscarried of twins, who were killed
by her majesty's fright; but the earl of Bullaboo, great butler of the
crown, happening to stand next to the queen, catched up one of the dead
children, and perceiving it was a boy, ran down to the [4] king and
wished him joy of the birth of a son and heir. The king, who had now
recovered his sweet temper, called him a fool and blunderer, upon which
Mr. Phelim O'Torture, a zealous courtier, started up with great presence
of mind and accused the earl of Bullaboo of high treason, for having
asserted that his late majesty had had any other heir than their present
most lawful and most religious sovereign queen Grata. An impeachment
was voted by a large majority, though not without warm opposition,
particularly from a celebrated Kilkennian orator, whose name is
unfortunately not come down to us, it being erased out of the journals
afterwards, as the Irish author whom I copy says, when he became first
lord of the treasury, as he was during the whole reign of queen Grata's
successor. The argument of this Mr. Killmorackill, says my author, whose
name is lost, was, that her majesty the queen-mother having conceived a
son before the king's resignation, that son was indubitably heir to the
crown, and consequently the resignation void, it not signifying an iota
whether the child was born alive or dead: it was alive, said he, when
it was conceived--here he was called to order by Dr. O'Flaharty, the
queen-mother's man-midwife and member for the borough of Corbelly, who
entered into a learned dissertation on embrios; but he was interrupted
by the young queen's crying for her supper, the previous question for
which was carried without a negative; and then the house being resumed,
the debate was cut short by the impatience of the majority to go and
drink her majesty's health. This seeming violence gave occasion to a
very long protest, drawn up by sir Archee Mac Sarcasm, in which he
contrived to state the claim of the departed foetus so artfully, that
it produced a civil war, and gave rise to those bloody ravages and
massacres which so long laid waste the ancient kingdom of Kilkenny, and
which were at last terminated by a lucky accident, well known, says my
author, to every body, but which he thinks it his duty to relate for the
sake of those who never may have heard it. These are his words:

     It happened that the archbishop of Tuum (anciently called Meum by
     the Roman catholic clergy) the great wit of those times, was in the
     queen-mother's closet, who had the young queen in her lap. [5] His
     grace was suddenly seized with a violent fit of the cholic, which
     made him make such wry faces, that the queen-mother thought he was
     going to die, and ran out of the room to send for a physician, for
     she was a pattern of goodness, and void of pride. While she was
     stepped into the servant's hall to call somebody, according to the
     simplicity of those times, the archbishop's pains encreased, when
     perceiving something on the mantle-piece, which he took for a peach
     in brandy, he gulped it all down at once without saying grace, God
     forgive him, and found great comfort from it. He had not done
     licking his lips before the queen-mother returned, when queen Grata
     cried out, "Mama, mama, the gentleman has eat my little brother!"
     This fortunate event put an end to the contest, the male line
     entirely failing in the person of the devoured prince. The
     archbishop, however, who became pope by the name of Innocent the
     3d. having afterwards a son by his sister, named the child
     Fitzpatrick, as having some of the royal blood in its veins; and
     from him are descended all the younger branches of the Fitzpatricks
     of our time. Now the rest of the acts of Grata and all that she
     did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the
     kings of Kilkenny?


_This tale was written for Anne Liddel countess of Offory, wife of John
Fitzpatrick earl of Offory. They had a daughter Anne, the subject of
this story._

[Footnote 1: _Vide Lodge's Peerage of Ireland, in the family of

[Footnote 2: _Queen Anne in her first speech to the parliament said, her
heart was entirely English._]

[Footnote 3: _Lady Offory had miscarried just then of two sons._]

[Footnote 4: _The housekeeper, as soon as lord Offory came home, wished
him joy of a son and heir, though both the children were born dead._]

[Footnote 5: _Some commentators have ignorantly supposed that the Irish
author is guilty of a great anachronism in this passage; for having said
that the contested succession occasioned long wars, he yet speaks of
queen Grata at the conclusion of them, as still sitting in her mother's
lap as a child. Now I can confute them from their own state of the
question_. Like a child _does not import that she actually was a child:
she only sat_ like a child; _and so she might though thirty years old.
Civilians have declared at what period of his life a king may be of age
before he is: but neither Grotius nor Puffendorffe, nor any of the
tribe, have determined how long a king or queen may remain infants after
they are past their infancy._]


Mi Li. _A Chinese Fairy Tale_.

Mi Li, prince of China, was brought up by his godmother the fairy Hih,
who was famous for telling fortunes with a tea-cup. From that unerring
oracle she assured him, that he would be the most unhappy man alive
unless he married a princess whose name was the same with her father's
dominions. As in all probability there could not be above one person in
the world to whom that accident had happened, the prince thought there
would be nothing so easy as to learn who his destined bride was. He had
been too well educated to put the question to his godmother, for he knew
when she uttered an oracle, that it was with intention to perplex, not
to inform; which has made people so fond of consulting all those who do
not give an explicit answer, such as prophets, lawyers, and any body you
meet on the road, who, if you ask the way, reply by desiring to know
whence you came. Mi Li was no sooner returned to his palace than he sent
for his governor, who was deaf and dumb, qualities for which the fairy
had selected him, that he might not instil any bad principles into his
pupil; however, in recompence, he could talk upon his fingers like an
angel. Mi Li asked him directly who the princess was whose name was the
same with her father's kingdom? This was a little exaggeration in the
prince, but nobody ever repeats any thing just as they heard it:
besides, it was excusable in the heir of a great monarchy, who of all
things had not been taught to speak truth, and perhaps had never heard
what it was. Still it was not the mistake of _kingdom_ for _dominions_
that puzzled the governor. It never helped him to understand any thing
the better for its being rightly stated. However, as he had great
presence of mind, which consisted in never giving a direct answer, and
in looking as if he could, he replied, it was a question of too great
importance to be resolved on a sudden. How came you to know that? Said
the prince--This youthful impetuosity told the governor that there was
something more in the question than he had apprehended; and though he
could be very solemn about nothing, he was ten times more so when there
was something he did not comprehend. Yet that unknown something
occasioning a conflict between his cunning and his ignorance, and the
latter being the greater, always betrayed itself, for nothing looks so
silly as a fool acting wisdom. The prince repeated his question; the
governor demanded why he asked--the prince had not patience to spell the
question over again on his fingers, but bawled it as loud as he could to
no purpose. The courtiers ran in, and catching up the prince's words,
and repeating them imperfectly, it soon flew all over Pekin, and thence
into the provinces, and thence into Tartary, and thence to Muscovy, and
so on, that the prince wanted to know who the princess was, whose name
was the same as her father's. As the Chinese have not the blessing (for
aught I know) of having family surnames as we have, and as what would be
their christian-names, if they were so happy as to be christians, are
quite different for men and women, the Chinese, who think that must be a
rule all over the world because it is theirs, decided that there could
not exist upon the square face of the earth a woman whose name was the
same as her father's. They repeated this so often, and with so much
deference and so much obstinacy, that the prince, totally forgetting the
original oracle, believed that he wanted to know who the woman was who
had the same name as her father. However, remembring there was something
in the question that he had taken for royal, he always said _the king
her father_. The prime minister consulted the red book or court-calendar,
which was _his_ oracle, and could find no such princess. All the
ministers at foreign courts were instructed to inform themselves if
there was any such lady; but as it took up a great deal of time to put
these instructions into cypher, the prince's impatience could not wait
for the couriers setting out, but he determined to go himself in search
of the princess. The old king, who, _as is usual_, had left the whole
management of affairs to his son the moment he was fourteen, was charmed
with the prince's resolution of seeing the world, which he thought could
be done in a few days, the facility of which makes so many monarchs
never stir out of their own palaces till it is too late; and his majesty
declared, that he should approve of his son's choice, be the lady who
she would, provided she answered to the divine designation of having the
same name as her father.

The prince rode post to Canton, intending to embark there on board an
English man of war. With what infinite transport did he hear the evening
before he was to embark, that a sailor knew the identic lady in
question. The prince scalded his mouth with the tea he was drinking,
broke the old china cup it was in, and which the queen his mother had
given him at his departure from Pekin, and which had been given to her
great great great great grandmother queen Fi by Confucius himself, and
ran down to the vessel and asked for the man who knew his bride. It was
honest Tom O'Bull, an Irish sailor, who by his interpreter Mr. James
Hall, the supercargo, informed his highness that Mr. Bob Oliver of Sligo
had a daughter christened of both his names, the fair miss Bob Oliver.[1]
The prince by the plenitude of his power declared Tom a mandarin of the
first class, and at Tom's desire promised to speak to his brother the
king of Great Ireland, France and Britain, to have him made a peer in
his own country, Tom saying he should be ashamed to appear there without
being a lord as well as all his acquaintance.

The prince's passion, which was greatly inflamed by Tom's description of
her highness Bob's charms, would not let him stay for a proper set of
ladies from Pekin to carry to wait on his bride, so he took a dozen of
the wives of the first merchants in Canton, and two dozen virgins as
maids of honour, who however were disqualified for their employments
before his highness got to St. Helena. Tom himself married one of them,
but was so great a favourite with the prince, that she still was
appointed maid of honour, and with Tom's consent was afterwards married
to an English duke.

Nothing can paint the agonies of our royal lover, when on his landing at
Dublin he was informed that princess Bob had quitted Ireland, and was
married to nobody knew whom. It was well for Tom that he was on Irish
ground. He would have been chopped as small as rice, for it is death in
China to mislead the heir of the crown through ignorance. To do it
knowingly is no crime, any more than in other countries.

As a prince of China cannot marry a woman that has been married before,
it was necessary for Mi Li to search the world for another lady equally
qualified with miss Bob, whom he forgot the moment he was told he must
marry somebody else, and fell equally in love with somebody else, though
be knew not with whom. In this suspence he dreamt, "_that he would find
his destined spouse, whose father had lost the dominions which never had
been his dominions, in a place where there was a bridge over no water, a
tomb where nobody ever was buried nor ever would be buried, ruins that
were more than they had ever been, a subterraneous passage in which
there were dogs with eyes of rubies and emeralds, and a more beautiful
menagerie of Chinese pheasants than any in his father's extensive
gardens_." This oracle seemed so impossible to be accomplished, that he
believed it more than he had done the first, which shewed his great
piety. He determined to begin his second search, and being told by the
lord lieutenant that there was in England a Mr. Banks,[2] who was going
all over the world in search of he did not know what, his highness
thought he could not have a better conductor, and sailed for England.
There he learnt that the sage Banks was at Oxford, hunting in the
Bodleian library for a MS. voyage of a man who had been in the moon,
which Mr. Banks thought must have been in the western ocean, where the
moon sets, and which planet if he could discover once more, he would
take possession of in his majesty's name, upon condition that it should
never be taxed, and so be lost again to this country like the rest of
his majesty's dominions in that part of the world.

Mi Li took a hired post-chaise for Oxford, but as it was a little rotten
it broke on the new road down to Henley. A beggar advised him to walk
into general Conway's, who was the most courteous person alive, and
would certainly lend him his own chaise. The prince travelled incog. He
took the beggar's advice, but going up to the house was told the family
were in the grounds, but he should be conducted to them. He was led
through a venerable wood of beeches, to a menagerie[3] commanding a more
glorious prospect than any in his father's dominions, and full of
Chinese pheasants. The prince cried out in extasy, Oh! potent Hih! my
dream begins to be accomplished. The gardiner, who knew no Chinese but
the names of a few plants, was struck with the similitude of the sounds,
but discreetly said not a word. Not finding his lady there, as he
expected, he turned back, and plunging suddenly into the thickest gloom
of the wood, he descended into a cavern totally dark, the intrepid
prince following him boldly. After advancing a great way into this
subterraneous vault, at last they perceived light, when on a sudden they
were pursued by several small spaniels, and turning to look at them, the
prince perceived their eyes[4] shone like emeralds and rubies. Instead
of being amazed, as Fo-Hi, the founder of his race, would have been, the
prince renewed his exclamations, and cried, I advance! I advance! I
shall find my bride! great Hih! thou art infallible! Emerging into
light, the imperturbed[5] gardiner conducted his highness to a heap of
artificial[6] ruins, beneath which they found a spacious gallery or
arcade, where his highness was asked if he would not repose himself; but
instead of answering he capered like one frantic, crying out, I advance!
I advance! great Hih! I advance!--The gardiner was amazed, and doubted
whether he was not conducting a madman to his master and lady, and
hesitated whether he should proceed--but as he understood nothing the
prince said, and perceiving he must be a foreigner, he concluded he was
a Frenchman by his dancing. As the stranger too was so nimble and not at
all tired with his walk, the sage gardiner proceeded down a sloping
valley, between two mountains cloathed to their summits with cedars,
firs, and pines, which he took care to tell the prince were all of his
honour the general's own planting: but though the prince had learnt more
English in three days in Ireland, than all the French in the world ever
learnt in three years, he took no notice of the information, to the
great offence of the gardiner, but kept running on, and increased his
gambols and exclamations when he perceived the vale was terminated by a
stupendous bridge, that seemed composed of the rocks which the giants
threw at Jupiter's head, and had not a drop of water beneath[7]
it--Where is my bride, my bride? cried Mi Li--I must be near her. The
prince's shouts and cries drew a matron from a cottage that stood on a
precipice near the bridge, and hung over the river--My lady is down at
Ford-house, cried the good[8] woman, who was a little deaf, concluding
they had called to her to know. The gardiner knew it was in vain to
explain his distress to her, and thought that if the poor gentleman was
really mad, his master the general would be the properest person to know
how to manage him. Accordingly turning to the left, he led the prince
along the banks of the river, which glittered through the opening
fallows, while on the other hand a wilderness of shrubs climbed up the
pendent cliffs of chalk, and contrasted with the verdant meads and
fields of corn beyond the stream. The prince, insensible to such
enchanting scenes, galloped wildly along, keeping the poor gardiner on a
round trot, till they were stopped by a lonely[9] tomb, surrounded by
cypress, yews, and willows, that seemed the monument of some adventurous
youth who had been lost in tempting the current, and might have suited
the gallant and daring Leander. Here Mi Li first had presence of mind to
recollect the little English he knew, and eagerly asked the gardiner
whose tomb he beheld before him. It is nobody's--before he could
proceed, the prince interrupted him, And will it never be any
body's?--Oh! thought the gardiner, now there is no longer any doubt of
his phrenzy--and perceiving his master and the family approaching
towards them, he endeavoured to get the start, but the prince, much
younger, and borne too on the wings of love, set out full speed the
moment he saw the company, and particularly a young damsel with them.
Running almost breathless up to lady Ailesbury, and seizing miss
Campbell's hand--he cried, _Who she? who she_? Lady Ailesbury screamed,
the young maiden squalled, the general, cool but offended, rushed
between them, and if a prince could be collared, would have collared
him--Mi Li kept fast hold with one arm, but pointing to his prize with
the other, and with the most eager and supplicating looks intreating for
an answer, continued to exclaim, _Who she? who she_? The general
perceiving by his accent and manner that he was a foreigner, and rather
tempted to laugh than be angry, replied with civil scorn, Why _she_ is
miss Caroline Campbell, daughter of lord William Campbell, his majesty's
late governor of Carolina--Oh, Hih! I now recollect thy words! cried Mi
Li--And so she became princess of China.


[Footnote 1: _There really was such a person._.]

[Footnote 2: _The gentleman who discovered Otaheite, in company with Dr.

[Footnote 3: _Lady Ailesbury's._]

[Footnote 4: _At Park-place there is such a passage cut through a
chalk-hill: when dogs are in the middle, the light from the mouth makes
their eyes appear in the manner here described._]

[Footnote 5: _Copeland, the gardiner, a very grave person._]

[Footnote 6: _Consequently they seem to have been larger._]

[Footnote 7: _The rustic bridge at Park-place was built by general
Conway, to carry the road from Henley, and to leave the communication
free between his grounds on each side of the road. Vide last page of
4th. vol. of Anecdotes of Painting._]

[Footnote 8: _The old woman who kept the cottage built by general Conway
to command a glorious prospect. Ford-house is a farm house at the
termination of the grounds._]

[Footnote 9: _A fictitious tomb in a beautiful spot by the river, built
for a point of view: it has a small pyramid on it._]


_A true Love Story_.

In the height of the animosities between the factions of the Guelfs and
Ghibellines, a party of Venetians had made an inroad into the
territories of the Viscontis, sovereigns of Milan, and had carried off
the young Orondates, then at nurse. His family were at that time under a
cloud, though they could boast of being descended from Canis Scaliger,
lord of Verona. The captors sold the beautiful Orondates to a rich widow
of the noble family of Grimaldi, who having no children, brought him up
with as much tenderness as if he had been her son. Her fondness
increased with the growth of his stature and charms, and the violence of
his passions were augmented by the signora Grimaldi's indulgence. Is it
necessary to say that love reigned predominantly in the soul of
Orondates? Or that in a city like Venice a form like that of Orondates
met with little resistance?

The Cyprian queen, not content with the numerous oblations of Orondates
on her altars, was not satisfied while his heart remained unengaged.
Across the canal, overagainst the palace of Grimaldi, stood a convent of
Carmelite nuns, the abbess of which had a young African slave of the
most exquisite beauty, called Azora, a year younger than Orondates. Jet
and japan were tawny and without lustre, when compared to the hue of
Azora. Afric never produced a female so perfect as Azora; as Europe
could boast but of one Orondates.

The signora Grimaldi, though no bigot, was pretty regular at her
devotions, but as lansquenet was more to her taste than praying, she
hurried over her masses as fast as she could, to allot more of her
precious time to cards. This made her prefer the church of the
Carmelites, separated only by a small bridge, though the abbess was of a
contrary faction. However, as both ladies were of equal quality, and had
had no altercations that could countenance incivility, reciprocal
curtsies always passed between them, the coldness of which each
pretended to lay on their attention to their devotions, though the
signora Grimaldi attended but little to the priest, and the abbess was
chiefly employed in watching and criticising the inattention of the

Not so Orondates and Azora. Both constantly accompanied their mistresses
to mass, and the first moment they saw each other was decisive in both
breasts. Venice ceased to have more than one fair in the eyes of
Orondates, and Azora had not remarked till then that there could be more
beautiful beings in the world than some of the Carmelite nuns.

The seclusion of the abbess, and the aversion between the two ladies,
which was very cordial on the side of the holy one, cut off all hopes
from the lovers. Azora grew grave and pensive and melancholy; Orondates
surly and intractable. Even his attachment to his kind patroness
relaxed. He attended her reluctantly but at the hours of prayer. Often
did she find him on the steps of the church ere the doors were opened.
The signora Grimaldi was not apt to make observations. She was content
with indulging her own passions, seldom restrained those of others; and
though good offices rarely presented themselves to her imagination, she
was ready to exert them when applied to, and always talked charitably of
the unhappy at her cards, if it was not a very unlucky deal.

Still it is probable that she never would have discovered the passion of
Orondates, had not her woman, who was jealous of his favour, given her a
hint; at the same time remarking, under affectation of good will, how
well the circumstances of the lovers were suited, and that as her
ladyship was in years, and would certainly not think of providing for a
creature she had bought in the public market, it would be charitable to
marry the fond couple, and settle them on her farm in the country.

Fortunately madame Grimaldi always was open to good impressions, and
rarely to bad. Without perceiving the malice of her woman, she was
struck with the idea of a marriage. She loved the cause, and always
promoted it when it was honestly in her power. She seldom made
difficulties, and never apprehended them. Without even examining
Orondates on the state of his inclinations, without recollecting that
madame Capello and she were of different parties, without taking any
precautions to guard against a refusal, she instantly wrote to the
abbess to propose a marriage between Orondates and Azora.

The latter was in madame Capello's chamber when the note arrived. All
the fury that authority loves to console itself with for being under
restraint, all the asperity of a bigot, all the acrimony of party, and
all the fictitious rage that prudery adopts when the sensual enjoyments
of others are concerned, burst out on the helpless Azora, who was unable
to divine how she was concerned in the fatal letter. She was made to
endure all the calumnies that the abbess would have been glad to have
hurled at the head of madame Grimaldi, if her own character and the rank
of that offender would have allowed it. Impotent menaces of revenge were
repeated with emphasis, and as nobody in the convent dared to contradict
her, she gratified her anger and love of prating with endless
tautologies. In fine, Azora was strictly locked up and bread and water
were ordered as sovereign cures for love. Twenty replies to madame
Grimaldi were written and torn, as not sufficiently expressive of a
resentment that was rather vociferous than eloquent, and her confessor
was at last forced to write one, in which he prevailed to have some holy
cant inserted, though forced to compound for a heap of irony that
related to the antiquity of her family, and for many unintelligible
allusions to vulgar stories which the Ghibelline party had treasured up
against the Guelfs. The most lucid part of the epistle pronounced a
sentence of eternal chastity on Azora, not without some sarcastic
expressions against the promiscuous amours of Orondates, which ought in
common decorum to have banished him long ago from the mansion of a
widowed matron.

Just as this fulminatory mandate had been transcribed and signed by the
lady abbess in full chapter, and had been consigned to the confessor to
deliver, the portress of the convent came running out of breath, and
announced to the venerable assembly, that Azora, terrified by the
abbess's blows and threats, had fallen in labour and miscarried of four
puppies: for be it known to all posterity, that Orondates was an Italian
greyhound, and Azora a black spaniel.


The foregoing Tales are given for no more than they are worth: they are
mere whimsical trifles, written chiefly for private entertainment, and
for private amusement half a dozen copies only are printed. They deserve
at most to be considered as an attempt to vary the stale and beaten
class of stories and novels, which, though works of invention, are
almost always devoid of imagination. It would scarcely be credited, were
it not evident from the Bibliotheque des Romans, which contains the
fictitious adventures that have been written in all ages and all
countries, that there should have been so little fancy, so little
variety, and so little novelty, in writings in which the imagination is
fettered by no rules, and by no obligation of speaking truth. There is
infinitely more invention in history, which has no merit if devoid of
truth, than in romances and novelty which pretend to none.


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