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quarter of an hour after the presents had been carried in triumph, the envoy and his train were brought forward. They were covered from head to foot with long black veils, which prevented their seeing, each led by a conductor, chosen from the meanest of the people. In this dishonourable manner having traversed the city of Jedo, they at length arrived at the palace gate, and, after waiting half an hour, were admitted into the guardroom. Here their eyes were uncovered; and, in about an hour, the gentleman usher introduced them into the hall of audience. The emperor was at length shown, sitting in a kind of alcove at the upper end of the room, and the Dutch envoy was conducted towards the throne.
As soon as he had approached within a certain distance, the gentleman usher cried out with a loud voice, Holanda Capitan; upon these words the envoy fell flat upon the ground, and crept upon his hands and feet towards the throne. Still approaching, he reared himself upon his knees, and then bowed his forehead to the ground. These ceremonies being over, he was directed to withdraw, still groveling on his belly, and going backward like a lobster.
If these ceremonies essayed in the first audience, appeared mortifying, those which are practised in the second are infinitely more so. In the second audience, the emperor, and the ladies of court, were placed behind lettices, in such a manner as to see without being seen. Here all the Europeans were directed to pass in review, and grovel and act the
the serpent as before. With this spectacle the whole court seemed highly delighted. The strangers were asked a thousand ridiculous ques questions; as their names and their ages: they were ordered to write, to stand upright, to sit, to stop, to compliment each other, to be drunk, to speak the Japanese language, to talk Dutch, to sing, to eat in short they were ordered to do all that couldTM satisfy the curiosity of women.
Imagine, a set of grave men thus transformed into buffoons, and acting a part every whit as honourable as that of those instructed which are shewn in the streets to the mob on a holiday. Yet the ceremony did not end here; for every great lord of the court was to be visited in the same manner; and their ladies, who took the whim from their husbands, were all equally fond of seeing the stranger perform, even the children seeming highly diverted with the dancing Dutchmen..
Citizen of the World, vol. ii. let. 118.
In the habit of being constantly seen here, I appear to belong to this palace; and I have often the honour of being as familiarly shoved about by our black courtiers, as any of the rest of the rabble who form the ring around his majesty. His levee is in the open air, only he is on horseback, and I think he generally chuses the dirtiest part of the field. There the poor obsequious crowd keep frequently kneeling and kissing the dirty ground, and bawling out his praises as he speaks. In that posture, with their posteriors cocked upwards, they
do not look like human beings, and make a most contemptible figure. Our black courtiers, who may be considered as the lords in waiting, attend with whips and rods, which they use very freely to arrange, or keep people in or out of their places, to assemble or drive us away, on the approach of his majesty, or of the princes, according to the royal orders, or caprice of the moment,
JARDINE, Letters from Barbary, &c. let. vi.
A DISPATCH came from court. It contained a warrant for conducting me and my retinue to Traldragdubb. A messenger was dispatched half a day's journey before us to give the king notice of my approach, and to desire that his majesty would please to appoint a day and hour, when it would be his gracious pleasure that I might have the honour to lick the dust before his footstool. This is the court style, and I found it to be more than matter of form. For, upon my admittance, two days after my arrival, I was commanded to crawl upon my belly, and lick the floor as I advanced; but, on account of my being a stranger, care was taken to have it made so clean, that the dust was not offensive. However this was a peculiar grace, not allowed to any but persons of the highest rank, when they desired an admittance. Nay, sometimes the floor is strewed with dust on purpose, when the person to be admitted happens to have powerful enemies at court. And I have seen a great lord with his mouth so crammed, that when he had crept to the proper distance from the
the throne, he was not able to speak a word. Neither is there any remedy; because it is capital for those, who receive an audience, to spit or wipe their mouths in his majesty's presence. There is indeed another custom which I cannot altogether approve: when the king hath a mind to put any of his nobles to death in a gentle, indulgent manner, he commands the floor to be strewed with a certain brown powder of a deadly composition, which, being licked up, infallibly kills him in twenty-four hours. But in justice to this prince's great clemency, and the care he hath of his subjects' lives (wherein it were much to be wished, that the monarchs of Europe would imitate him) it must be mentioned for his honour, that strict orders are given to have the infected parts of the floor well washed after such executions, which, if his domestics neglect, they are in danger of incur ring his displeasure. I myself heard him give dis rections, that one of his pages should be whipt, whose turn it was to give notice about washing. the floor after an execution, but maliciously had omitted it, by which neglect a young lord of great hopes coming to an audience was unfortunately, poisoned, although the king at that time had no design against his life. But this good prince was so gracious, as to forgive the poor page his whipping, upon promise, that he would do so no more without special orders. To return from this digression; when I had crept within four yards of the throne, I raised myself gently upon my knees, and then, striking my forehead seven times against the
the ground, I pronounced the following words, as they had been taught me the night before, Ickpling glofthrob squut serumm blihop mlashnalt zwin tnodbalkuffh slbiophad gurdlubh asht. This is the compliment established by the laws of the land for all persons admitted to the king's presence. It may be rendered into English thus: May your celestial majesty outlive the sun eleven moons and a half.
SWIFT. Gulliver's Travels, part iii. ch. ix.
THE emperor had a mind one day to entertain me with several of the country shows, wherein they exceed all nations I have known both for dexterity and magnificence. I was diverted with none so much as that of the rope dancers, performed upon a slender white thread, extended about two feet and twelve inches from the ground. Upon which I shall desire liberty, with the reader's pa tience, to enlarge a little.
This diversion is only practised by those persons, who are candidates for great employments, and high favour at court. They are trained in this art from their youth, and are not always of liberal birth or noble education. When a great office is vacant either by death or disgrace (which often happens) five or six of those candidates petition the emperor to entertain his majesty and the court with a dance on the rope, and whoever jumps the highest without falling, succeeds in the office. Very often the chief ministers themselves are commanded to show their skill, and to convince