In Reply to an Invitation by Thomas Burke

Don’t think of me as one of no courtesy
O elegant and refined foreign one,
If I do not accept your high-minded invitation
To drink rice-spirit with you
At the little place called The Blue Lantern, near Pennyfields.
Please don’t regard me as lacking in gracious behaviour,
Or as insufferably ignorant of the teachings of the Book of Rites

But I am sojourning here in a strange land,
And am not fully informed of the usages of your dignified people.

As the wise Mencius observed in one of his inspired hours,
Doubtless thinking forward to situation of this person:
Child who has once suffered unpleasant sensation of burning,
Ever afterward reluctant to approach stove.
Wherefore, as this person once accepted an invitation,
In words as affable and polished as yours, Mister,
To drink rice-spirit at The Blue Lantern,
And was there subjected to a custom of this country
Of an entirely disturbing and unpleasing nature,
Known as Ceremony of Confidence,
He has, since that day, viewed The Blue Lantern
With a feeling of most decided repugnance.

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