THE YOUNG GENTLEMAN AND LADY's
A COLLECTION OF SELECT PIECES
FROM OUR BEST MODERN WRITERS;
Eradicate vulgar Prejudices and Rusticity of Manners; Improve the Understanding; Rectify the Will; Purify the Passions; Direct the Minds of Youth to the Pursuit of proper Objects; and to facilitate their Reading, Writing, and Speaking the English language, with Elegance and Propriety.
Particularly adapted for the use of our eminent Schools and Academies, as well as private persons, who have not an opportunity of perusing the Works of those celebrated Authors, from whence this collection is made.
DIVIDED INTO SMALL PORTIONS, FOR THE EASE OF READING IN CLASSES.
THE LATEST EDITION.
BY J. HAMILTON MOORE,
THE PRACTICAL NAVIGATOR AND SEAMAN'S NEW DAILY ASSISTANT.
As the design of Learning is to render persons agreeable companions to themselves, and useful members of society; to support solitude with pleasure, and to pass through promiscuous temptations with prudence; 'tis presumed, this compilation will not be unacceptable; being composed of pieces selected from the most celebrated moral writers in the English language, equally calculated to promote the principles of religion, and to render youth vigilant in discharging, the social and relative duties in the several stations of life; by instilling into their minds such maxims of virtue and good-breeding, as tend to eradicate local prejudices and rusticity of manners; and at the same time, habituate them to an elegant manner of expressing themselves either in Writing or Speaking.
And as the first impression made on the minds of youth is the most lasting, great care should be taken to furnish them with such seeds of reason and philosophy as may rectify and sweeten every part of their future lives; by marking out a proper behaviour both with respect to themselves and others, and exhibiting every virtue to their view which claims their attention, and every vice which they ought to avoid. Instead of this, we generally see youth suffered to read romances, which impress on their minds such notions of Fairies, Goblins, &c. that exist only in the imagination, and, being strongly imbibed, take much time to eradicate, and very often baffle all the powers of philosophy. If books abounding with moral instructions, conveyed in a proper manner, were given in their stead, the frequent reading of them would implant in their mind such ideas and sentiments, as would enable them to guard against those prejudices so frequently met with amongst the ignorant.
Nor is it possible that any person can speak or write with elegance and propriety, who has not been taught to read well, and in such books where the sentiments are just and the language pure.
An insipid flatness and languor is almost the universal fault in reading; often uttering their words so faint and feeble, that they appear neither to feel nor understand what they read, nor have any desire it should be understood or felt by others. In order to acquire a forcible manner of pronouncing words, let the pupils inure themselves, while reading, to draw in as much air as their lungs can contain with ease, and to expel it with vehemence in uttering those sounds which require an emphatical pronunciation, and read aloud with all the exertion they can command; let all the consonant sounds be expressed with a full impulse of the breath, and a forcible action of the organs employed in forming them; and all the vowel sounds have a full and bold utterance.
These reasons, and to inspire youth with noble sentiments, just expression, to ease the teacher, and to render a book cheap, and convenient for schools, as well as private persons, who have neither time nor opportunity to peruse the works of those celebrated authors from whence this Collection is made, was the cause of the following compilation.
And as the speeches in both houses of parliament, pleading at the bar, instructions in the pulpit, and commercial correspondance, are delivered and carried on in the English language; the cloathing our thoughts with proper expressions, and conveying our ideas, either in writing or speaking, agreeably, cannot fail of making an impression upon the hearer or reader. For a man's knowledge is of little use to the world, when he is not able to convey it properly to others; which is the case of many who are endowed with excellent parts, but are either afraid or ashamed of writing, or speaking in public, being conscious of their own deficiency of expressing themselves in proper terms.
In order to remedy these defects, and to ease the teacher, I would advise, that several young gentlemen read in a class, each a sentence in this book, (it being divided into small portions for that purpose,) as often as convenient: and let him who reads best, be advanced to the head, or have some pecuniary reward; and every inferior one according to his merit; this will create emulation among them, and facilitate their improvement much more than threats or corrections, which stupifies and intimidates them, and often ends in contempt of their teachers, and learning in general. This will draw forth those latent abilities, which otherwise might lie dormant forever.
It may not be improper for the teacher, or some good reader, to read a sentence or two first, that the learners may gain the proper emphasis, and read without that monotony so painful to a good ear: for they will improve more by imitating a good reader, than any rules that can be laid down to them. When they come to read gracefully, let them stand up in the school and read aloud, in order to take off that bashfulness generally attending those who are called upon either to read or speak in public.
The next thing I would recommend, is the English Grammar (the best I know of is the Buchanan's syntax) the knowledge of which is absolutely necessary, as it is the solid foundation upon which all other science rests. After they have run over the rules of syntax, the teacher may dictate to them one or more sentences in false English, which they may correct by their grammar rules, and also find out the various significations of each word in the dictionary; by which means they will soon acquire a copious vocabulary, and become acquainted not with words only, but with things themselves. Let them get those sentences by heart to speak extempore; which will in some measure, be delivering their own compositions, and may be repeated as often as convenient. This will soon give the young gentlemen an idea of the force, elegance, and beauty of the English language.
The next thing I would gladly recommend, is that of letter-writing, a branch of education, which seems to me of the utmost utility, and in which most of our youth are deficient at their leaving school; being suffered to form their own style by chance: or imitate the first wretched model that falls in their way, before they know what is faulty, or can relish the beauties of a just simplicity.
For their improvement in this particular, the teacher may cause every young gentleman to have a slate or paper before him, on Saturdays, and then dictate a letter to them, either of his own composition, or taken out of some book, and turn it into false English, to exercise them in the grammar rules if he thinks proper, which they shall all write down, and then correct and transcribe it fairly in their books.
After the young gentlemen have been accustomed to this some time, a supposed correspondence may be fixt between every two of them, and write to one another under the inspection of the teacher who may correct and shew their faults when he sees occasion; by such a method he will soon find them improve in epistolary writing. The same may be observed with regard to young ladies, who are very often deficient, not only in orthography, but every other part of grammar.
If something similar to this method be pursued, it will soon reflect honor on the teacher, give the highest satisfaction to judicious parents, and entail upon the scholar a pleasing and lasting advantage.
Pursuit of Knowledge recommended to Youth, Directions how to spend our Time, Mispent Time how punished, Modesty, Affectation, The same continued, Good humour and Nature, Friendship, Detraction and Falshood, The Importance of Punctuality, Exercise and Temperance the best Preservative of Health, The Duty of Secrecy, Of Cheerfulness, On the Advantages of a Cheerful Temper, Discretion, Pride, Drunkenness, Gaming, Whisperers and Giglers complained of, Beauty produced by Sentiments, Honour, Human Nature, The Advantages of representing Human Nature in its proper Dignity, Custom a second Nature, On Cleanliness, The Advantages of a good Education, The Disadvantages of a bad Education, Learning a necessary Accomplishment in a Woman of Quality or Fortune, On the Absurdity of Omens, A good Conscience, &c. On Contentment, Human Miseries chiefly imaginary, A Life of Virtue preferable to a Life of Pleasure, Virtue rewarded, The History of Amanda, The Story of Abdallah and Balsora, Rashness and Cowardice, Fortitude founded upon the Fear of God, The Folly of youthful Extravagance, The Misery of depending upon the Great, What it is to see the World, The Story of Melissa, On the Omniscience and Omnipresence of the Deity, together with the Immensity of his Works, Motives to Piety and Virtue, drawn from the Omniscience and Omnipresence of the Deity, Reflections on the third Heaven, The present Life to be considered only as it may conduce to the Happiness of a future one, On the Immortality of the Soul, On the Animal World, and the Scale of Beings, Providence proved from Animal instinct, Good-Breeding, Further Remarks, taken from Lord Chesterfield's Letters to his Son, Genteel Carriage, Cleanliness of Person, Dress, Elegance of Expression, Small Talk, Observation, Absence of Mind, Knowledge of the World, Choice of Company, Laughter, Sundry little Accomplishments, Dignity of Manners, Rules for Conversation, Further Remarks, taken from Lord Chesterfield's Letters to his Son, Entrance upon the World, Advice to a young Man, The Vision of Mirza, exhibiting a Picture of Human Life, Riches not productive of Happiness: The Story of Ortogrul of Basra, Of the Scriptures, as the Rule of Life, Of Genesis, Of Exodus, Of Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, Of Joshua, Of Judges, Samuel, and Kings, Of Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah; and Esther, Of Job, Of the Psalms, Of the Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Solomon's Song, the Prophecies, and Apocrypha, Of the New Testament, Of the Example set by our Savior, and his Character, A comparative View of the Blessed and Cursed at the last Day, and the Inference to be drawn from it, Character of St. Paul, Of the Epistles, The Epistle of St. James, Epistles of St. Peter, and the first of St. John, Of the Revelations, True Devotion productive of the truest Pleasure, A Morning Prayer for a young Student at School, or for the common Use of a School, An Evening Prayer,
Of Columbus, and the Discovery of America, Speech of Romulus after founding Rome, Speech of Quinctius Capitolinus, Caius Marius to the Romans, Demosthenes to the Athenians, The perfect Speaker, On the Duties of School-Boys, from the pious and judicious Rollin, Columbia.—A Poem, The Choice of a Rural Life.—A Poem, Hymns and Prayers, Character of Man, Winter, Douglas's Account of himself, ———how he learned the Art of War, Baucis and Philemon, On Happiness, Speech of Adam to Eve, Soliloquy and Prayer of Edward the Black Prince, before the battle of Poictiers, Invocation to Paradise Lost, Morning Hymn, ibid. The Hermit, by Dr. Beatie, Compassion, Advantages of Peace, The Progress of Life, Speeches in the Roman Senate, Cato's Soliloquy on the Immortality of the Soul, Hamlet's Meditation on Death,
Select Passages from Dramatic Writers.
Joy,——Distressed Mother, Grief,——Distressed Mother, Pity,——Venice Preserved, Fear,——Lear, Awe and Fear,——Mourning Bride, Horror,——Scanderberg, Anger,——Lear, Revenge,——Merchant of Venice, Admiration,——Merchant of Venice, Haughtiness,——Tamerlane, Contempt,——Fair Penitent, Resignation,——Jane Shore, Impatience,—Volpone Remorse and Despair,—Busiris, Distraction,—Jane Shore, Gratitude,—Fair Penitent, Intreaty,—Jane Shore, Commanding,—Rinaldo and Armida, Courage,—Alfred, Boasting,—Every Man in his Humour, Perplexity,—Tancred and Sigismunda Suspicion,—Julius Caesar, Wit and Humour,—2d Henry 4, 1st Henry 4, Ridicule,—Julius Caesar, Perturbation—Lear,
ELEMENTS OF GESTURE.
Section I, Section II. Section III.
On Reading and Speaking,
* * * * *
ENGLISH TEACHERS ASSISTANT,
Pursuit of Knowledge recommended to Youth.
1. I am very much concerned when I see young gentlemen of fortune and quality so wholly set upon pleasure and diversions, that they neglect all those improvements in wisdom and knowledge which may make them easy to themselves and useful to the world. The greatest part of our British youth lose their figure, and grow out of fashion, by that time they are five and twenty.
2. As soon as the natural gaiety and amiableness of the young man wears off, they have nothing left to recommend them, but lie by the rest of their lives, among the lumber and refuse of the species.
It sometimes happens, indeed, that for want of applying themselves in due time to the pursuits of knowledge, they take up a book in their declining years, and grow very hopeful scholars by that time they are threescore. I must therefore earnestly press my readers who are in the flower of their youth, to labour at these accomplishments which may set off their persons when their bloom is gone, and to lay in timely provisions for manhood and old age. In short, I would advise the youth of fifteen to be dressing up every day the man of fifty; or to consider how to make himself venerable at threescore.
3. Young men, who are naturally ambitious, would do well to observe how the greatest men of antiquity wade it their ambition to excel all their cotemporaries in knowledge. Julius Caesar and Alexander, the most celebrated instances of human greatness, took a particular care to distinguish themselves by their skill in the arts and sciences. We have still extant, several remains of the former, which justify the character given of him by the learned men of his own age.
4. As for the latter, it is a known saying of his, that he was more obliged to Aristotle, who had instructed him, than to Philip, who had given him life and empire. There is a letter of his recorded by Plutarch and Aulus Gellius, which he wrote to Aristotle, upon hearing that he had published those lectures he had given him in private. This letter was written in the following words, at a time when he was in the height of his Persian conquests.
5. "ALEXANDER to ARISTOTLE, Greeting.
"You have not done well to publish your books of select knowledge; for what is there now in which I can surpass others, if those things which I have been instructed in are communicated to every body? For my own part I declare to you, I would rather excel others in knowledge than power. Farewell."
6. We see by this letter, that the love of conquest was but the second ambition in Alexander's soul. Knowledge is indeed that, which, next to virtue, truly and essentially raises one man above another. It finishes one half of the human soul. It makes being pleasant to us, fills the mind with entertaining views, and administers to it a perpetual series of gratifications.
It gives ease to solitude, and gracefulness to retirement. It fills a public station with suitable abilities, and adds a lustre to those who are in possession of them.
7. Learning, by which I mean all useful knowledge, whether speculative or practical, is in popular and mixed governments the natural source of wealth and honor. If we look into most of the reigns from the conquest, we shall find, that the favorites of each reign have been those who have raised themselves. The greatest men are generally the growth of that particular age in which they flourish.
8. A superior capacity for business and a more extensive knowledge, are the steps by which a new man often mounts to favor, and outshines the rest of his cotemporaries. But when men are actually born to titles, it is almost impossible that they should fail of receiving an additional greatness, if they take care to accomplish themselves for it.
9. The story of Solomon's choice, does not only instruct us in that point of history, but furnishes out a very fine moral to us, namely, that he who applies his heart to wisdom, does at the same time take the most proper method for gaining long life, riches and reputation, which are very often not only the rewards, but the effects of wisdom.
10. As it is very suitable to my present subject, I shall first of all quote this passage in the words of sacred writ, and afterwards mention an allegory, in which this whole passage is represented by a famous FRENCH Poet; not questioning but it will be very pleasing to such of my readers as have a taste for fine writing.
11. In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, "Ask what I shall give thee." And Solomon said, "Thou hast shewed unto thy servant David, my father, great mercy, according as he walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with thee, and thou hast kept from him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. And now, O Lord, my God, thou hast made thy servant King instead of David my father; and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in."
12. "Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?" And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing. And God said unto him, "Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life, neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies, but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment; behold, I have done according to thy words, so I have given thee a wise and understanding heart, so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee."
13. "And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches and honor, so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days. And if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days." And Solomon awoke and behold it was a dream.
14. The French poet has shadowed this story in an allegory, of which he seems to have taken the hint from the fable of the three goddesses appearing to Paris, or rather from the vision of Hercules, recorded by Xenophon, where Pleasure and Virtue are represented as real persons making their court to the hero with all their several charms and allurements.
15. Health, Wealth, Victory and Honor are introduced successively in their proper emblems and characters, each of them spreading her temptations, and recommending herself to the young monarch's choice. Wisdom enters last, and so captivates him with her appearance, that he gives himself up to her. Upon which she informs him, that those who appeared before her were nothing but her equipage, and that since he had placed his heart upon Wisdom, Health, Wealth, Victory and Honor should always wait an her as her handmaids.
Directions how to spend our Time.
1. We all of us complain of the shortness of time, saith Seneca, and yet have much more than we know what to do with. Our lives, says he, are spent either in doing nothing at all, or in doing nothing to the purpose, or in doing nothing that we ought to do; we are always complaining our days are few, and acting as though there would be no end of them. That noble philosopher has described our inconsistency with ourselves in this particular, by all those various turns of expression and thought which are peculiar to his writings.
2. I often consider mankind as wholly inconsistent with itself in a point that bears some affinity to the former. Though we seem grieved at the shortness of life in general, we are wishing every period of it at an end. The minor longs to be at age, then to be a man of business, then to make up an estate, then to arrive at honors, then to retire. Thus, although the whole of life is allowed by every one to be short, the several divisions of it appear to be long and tedious.
3. We are for lengthening our span in general, but would fain contract the parts of which it is composed. The usurer would be very well satisfied to have all the time annihilated that lies between the present moment and next quarter day. The politician would be contented to loose three years of his life, could he place things in the posture which he fancies they will stand in after such a revolution of time.
4. The lover would be glad to strike out of his existence all the moments that are to pass away before the happy meeting. Thus, as far as our time runs, we should be very glad in most parts of our lives, that it ran much faster than it does. Several hours of the day hang upon our hands, nay, we wish away whole years; and travel through time as through a country filled with many wild and empty wastes which we would fain hurry over, that we may arrive at those several little settlements or imaginary points of rest, which are dispersed up and down in it.
5. If we may divide the life of most men into twenty parts, we shall find, that at least nineteen of them are mere gaps and chasms, which are neither filled with pleasure nor business. I do not however include in this calculation the life of those men who are in a perpetual hurry of affairs, but of those only who are not always engaged in scenes of action: and I hope I shall not do an unacceptable piece of service to those persons, if I point out to them certain methods for the filling up their empty spaces of life. The methods I shall propose to them are as follow:
6. The first is the exercise of virtue, in the most general acceptation of the word. That particular scheme which comprehends the social virtues, may give employment to the most industrious temper, and find a man in business more than the most active station of life. To advise the ignorant, relieve the needy, comfort the afflicted, are duties that fall in our way almost every day of our lives.
7. A man has frequent opportunities of mitigating the fierceness of a party; of doing justice to the character of a deserving man; of softening the envious, quieting the angry, and rectifying the prejudiced; which, are all of them employments suited to a reasonable nature, and bring great satisfaction to the person who can busy himself in them with discretion.
8. There is another kind of virtue that may find employment for those retired hours in which we are altogether left to ourselves, and destitute of company and conversation: I mean that intercourse and communication which every reasonable creature ought to maintain with the great Author of his being.
9. The man who lives under an habitual sense of the divine presence, keeps up a perpetual cheerfulness of temper, and enjoys every moment the satisfaction of thinking himself in company with the dearest and best of friends. The time never lies heavy upon him; it is impossible for him to be alone.
10. His thoughts and passions are the most busied at such hours when those of other men are the most inactive; he no sooner steps out of the world, but his heart burns with devotion, swells with hope, and triumphs in the consciousness of that presence which every where surrounds him; or, on the contrary, pours out its fears, its sorrows, its apprehensions, to the great supporter of its existence.
11. I have here only considered the necessity of a man's being virtuous that he may have something to do; but if we consider further, that the exercise of virtue is not only an amusement for the time it lasts, but that its influence extends to those parts of our existence which lie beyond the grave, and that our whole eternity is to take its colour from those hours which we here employ in virtue or in vice, the argument redoubles upon us, for putting in practice this method of passing away our time.
12. When a man has but a little stock to improve, and has opportunities of turning it all to a good account, what shall we think of him if he suffers nineteen parts of it to lie dead, and perhaps employs even the twentieth to his ruin or disadvantage? But because the mind cannot be always in its fervour nor strained up to a pitch of virtue, it is necessary to find out proper employments for it in its relaxations.
13. The next method therefore that I would propose to fill up our time, should be useful and innocent diversion. I must confess I think it is below reasonable creatures to be altogether conversant in such diversions as are merely innocent, and having nothing else to recommend them but that there is no hurt in them.
14. Whether any kind of gaming has even thus much to say for itself, I shall not determine; but I think it is very wonderful to see persons of the best sense, passing away a dozen hours together in shuffling and dividing a pack of cards, with no other conversation but what is made up of a few game phrases, and no other ideas but those of black or red spots ranged together in different figures. Would not a man laugh to hear any one of his species complaining that life is short.
15. The stage might be made a perpetual source of the most noble and useful entertainments, were it under proper regulations.
But the mind never unbends itself so agreeably as in the conversation of a well-chosen friend. There is indeed no blessing of life that is any way comparable to the enjoyment of a discreet and virtuous friend. It eases and unloads the mind, clears and improves the understanding, engenders thoughts and knowledge, animates virtue and good resolution, sooths and allays the passions, and finds employment for most of the vacant hours of life.
16. Next to such an intimacy with a particular person, one would endeavour after a more general conversation with such as are able to entertain and improve those with whom they converse, which are qualifications that seldom go asunder.
There are many other useful amusements of life, which one would endeavour to multiply, that one might on all occasions have recourse to something rather than suffer the mind to lie idle, or ran adrift with any passion that chances to rise in it.
17. A man that has a taste in music, painting, or architecture, is like one that has another sense when compared with such as have no relish for those arts. The florist, the planter, the gardener, the husbandman, when they are only as accomplishments to the man of fortune; are great reliefs to a country life, and many ways useful to those who are possessed of them.
SPECTATOR, No. 93.
18. I was yesterday busy in comparing together the industry of man with that of other creatures; in which I could not but observe, that notwithstanding we are obliged by duty to keep ourselves in constant employ, after the same manner as inferior animals are prompted to it by instinct, we fell very short of them in this particular.
19. We are the more inexcusable, because there is a greater variety of business to which we may apply ourselves. Reason opens to us a large field of affairs, which other creatures are not capable of. Beasts of prey, and I believe all other kinds, in their natural state of being, divide their time between action and rest. They are always at work or asleep. In short, their awaking hours are wholly taken up in seeking after their food, or in consuming it.
20. The human species only, to the great reproach of our natures, are filled with complaints—That the day hangs heavy on them, that they do not know what to do with themselves, that they are at a loss how to pass away their time, with many of the like shameful murmurs, which we often find in the mouth of those who are styled reasonable beings.
21. How monstrous are such expressions among creatures who have the labours of the mind as well as those of the body to furnish them with proper employments; who, besides the business of their proper callings and professions, can apply themselves to the duties of religion, to meditation, to the reading of useful books, to discourse; in a word, who may exercise themselves in the unbounded pursuits of knowledge and virtue, and every hour of their lives make themselves wiser or better than they were before.
22. After having been taken up for some time in this course of thought, I diverted myself with a book, according to my usual custom, in order to unbend my mind before I went to sleep. The book I made use of on this occasion was Lucian where I amused my thoughts for about an hour among the dialogues of the dead, which in all probability produced the following dream:
23. I was conveyed, methought, into the entrance of the infernal regions, where I saw Rhadamanthus, one of the judges of the dead, seated in his tribunal. On his left hand stood the keeper of Erebus, on his right the keeper of Elysium. I was told he sat upon women that day, there being several of the sex lately arrived, who had not yet their mansions assigned them.
24. I was surprised to hear him ask every one of them the same question, namely, What they had been doing? Upon this question being proposed to the whole assembly they stared upon one another, as not knowing what to answer. He then interrogated each of them separately. Madam, says he to the first of them, you have been upon the earth about fifty years: What have you been doing there all this while? Doing, says she, really I do not know what I have been doing: I desire I may have time given me to recollect.
25. After about half an hour's pause, she told him that she had been playing at crimp: upon which Rhadamanthus beckoned to the keeper on his left hand, to take her into custody. And you, Madam, says the judge, that look with such a soft and languishing air; I think you set out for this place in your nine and twentieth year; what have you been doing all this while? I had a great deal of business on my hands, says she, being taken up the first twelve years of my life, in dressing a jointed baby, and all the remaining part of it in reading plays and romances.
26. Very well, says he, you have employed your time to good purpose. Away with her. The next was a plain country woman: Well, mistress, says Rhadamanthus, and what have you been doing? An't please your worship, says she, I did not live quite forty years; and in that time brought my husband seven daughters, made him nine thousand cheeses, and left my eldest girl with him to look after his house in my absence, and who, I may venture to say, is us pretty a housewife as any in the country.
27. Rhadamanthus smiled at the simplicity of the good woman, and ordered the keeper of Elysium, to take her into his care. And you, fair lady, says he, what have you been doing these five and thirty years? I have been doing no hurt, I assure you sir, said she. That is well, says he, but what good have you been doing? The lady was in great confusion at this question, and not knowing what to answer, the two keepers leaped out to seize her at the same time; the one took her by the hand to convey her to Elysium; the other caught hold of her to carry her away to Erebus.
28. But Rhadamanthus observing an ingenuous modesty in her countenance and behaviour, bid them both let her loose, and set her aside for a re-examination when he was more at leisure. An old woman, of a proud and sour look, presented herself next at the bar, and being asked what she had been doing? Truly, says she, I lived three score and ten years in a very wicked world, and was so angry at the behaviour of a parcel of young flirts, that I past most of my last years in condemning the follies of the times.
29. I was every day blaming the silly conduct of people about me, in order to deter those I conversed with from falling into the like errors and miscarriages. Very well, says Rhadamanthus, but did you keep the same watchful eye over your own actions? Why truly, says she, I was so taken up with publishing the faults of others, that I had no time to consider my own.
30. Madam, says Rhadamanthus, be pleased to file off to the left, and make room for the venerable matron that stands behind you. Old gentlewoman, says he, I think you are fourscore? You have heard the question, what have you been doing so long in the world? Ah! sir, says she, I have been doing what I should not have done, but I had made a firm resolution to have changed my life, if I had not been snatched off by an untimely end.
31. Madam, says he, you will please to follow your leader, and spying another of the same age, interrogated her in the same form. To which the matron replied, I have been the wife of a husband who was as dear to me in his old age as in his youth. I have been a mother, and very happy in my children, whom I endeavoured to bring up in every thing that is good.
32. My eldest son is blest by the poor, and beloved by every one that knows him. I lived within my own family, and left it much more wealthy than I found it. Rhadamanthus, who knew the value of the old lady smiled upon her in such a manner, that the keeper of Elysium, who knew his office, reached out his hand to her. He no sooner touched her but her wrinkles vanished, her eyes sparkled, her cheeks glowed with blushes, and she appeared in full bloom and beauty.
33. A young woman observing that this officer, who conducted the happy to Elysium, was so great a beautifier, longed to be in his hands, so that, pressing through the croud, she was the next that appeared at the bar, and being asked what she had been doing the five and twenty years that she had passed in the world, I have endeavoured, says she, ever since I came to the years of discretion, to make myself lovely, and gain admirers.
34. In order to do it I past my time in bottling up Maydew, inventing white-washes, mixing colours, cutting out patches, consulting my glass, suiting my complexion, tearing off my tucker, sinking my stays—Rhadamanthus, without hearing her out, gave the sign to take her off. Upon the approach of the keeper of Erebus her colour faded, her face was puckered up with wrinkles, and her whole person lost in deformity.
35. I was then surprised with a distant sound of a whole troop of females that came forward laughing, singing, and dancing. I was very desirous to know the reception they would meet with, and withal was very apprehensive that Rhadamanthus would spoil their mirth; but at their nearer approach the noise grew so very great that it awakened me.
36. Employment of time is a subject that, from its importance, deserves your best attention. Most young gentlemen have a great deal of time before them, and one hour well employed, in the early part of life, is more valuable and will be of greater use to you, than perhaps four and twenty, some years to come.
37. What ever time you can steal from company and from the study of the world (I say company, for a knowledge of life is best learned in various companies) employ it in serious reading. Take up some valuable book, and continue the reading of that book till you have got through it; never burden your mind with more than one thing at a time: and in reading this book do not run it over superficially, but read every passage twice over, at least do not pass on to a second till you thoroughly understand the first, nor quit the book till you are master of the subject; for unless you do this, you may read it through, and not remember the contents of it for a week.
38. The books I would particularly recommend, are Cardinal Retz's maxims, Rochefoucault's moral reflections, Bruyere's characters, Fontenelle's plurality of worlds, Sir Josiah Child on trade, Bollinbroke's works; for style, his remarks on the history of England, under the name of Sir John Oldcastle; Puffendorff's Jus Gentium, and Grotius de Jure Belli et Pacis: the last two are well translated by Barbeyrac. For occasional half hours or less, read the best works of invention, wit and humor; but never waste your minutes on trifling authors, either ancient or modern.
39. Any business you may have to transact, should be done the first opportunity, and finished, if possible, without interruption; for by deferring it we may probably finish it too late, or execute it indifferently. Now, business of any kind should never be done by halves, but every part of it should be well attended to: for he that does business ill, had better not do it at all. And in any point which discretion bids you pursue, and which has a manifest utility to recommend it, let not difficulties deter you; rather let them animate your industry. If one method fails, try a second and a third. Be active, persevere, and you will certainly conquer.
40. Never indulge a lazy disposition, there are few things but are attended with some difficulties, and if you are frightened at those difficulties, you will not complete any thing. Indolent minds prefer ignorance to trouble; they look upon most things as impossible, because perhaps they are difficult. Even an hour's attention is too laborious for them, and they would rather content themselves with the first view of things than take the trouble to look any farther into them. Thus, when they come to talk upon subjects to those who have studied them, they betray an unpardonable ignorance, and lay themselves open to answers that confuse them. Be careful then, that you do not get the appellation of indolent, and, if possible, avoid the character of frivolous.
41. For the frivolous mind is busied always upon nothing. It mistakes trifling objects for important ones, and spends that time upon little matters, that should only be bestowed upon great ones. Knick-knacks, butterflies, shells, and such like, engross the attention of the frivolous man, and fill up all his time. He studies the dress and not the characters of men, and his subjects of conversation are no other than the weather, his own domestic affairs, his servants, his method of managing his family, the little anecdotes of the neighborhood, and the fiddle-faddle stories of the day; void of information, void of improvement. These he relates with emphasis, as interesting matters; in short, he is a male gossip. I appeal to your own feelings now, whether such things do not lessen a man in the opinion, of his acquaintance, and instead of attracting esteem, create disgust.
Modesty is the citidel of beauty and virtue. The first of all virtues is innocence; the second is modesty.
1. Modesty is both in its source, and in its consequence, a very great happiness to the fair possessor of it; it arises from a fear of dishonor, and a good conscience, and is followed immediately, upon its first appearance, with the reward of honor and esteem, paid by all those who discover it in any body living.
2. It is indeed a virtue in a woman (that might otherwise be very disagreeable to one) so exquisitely delicate, that it excites in any beholder, of a generous and manly disposition, almost all the passions that he would be apt to conceive for the mistress of his heart, in variety of circumstances.
3. A woman that is modest creates in us an awe in her company, a wish for her welfare, a joy in her being actually happy, a sore and painful sorrow if distress should come upon her, a ready and willing heart to give her consolation, and a compassionate temper towards her, in every little accident of life she undergoes; and to sum up all in one word, it causes such a kind of angelical love, even to a stranger, as good natured brothers and sisters usually bear towards one another.
4. It adds wonderfully to the make of a face, and I have seen a pretty well turned forehead, fine set eyes, and what your poets call, a row of pearl set in coral, shewn by a pretty expansion of two velvet lips that covered them (that would have tempted any sober man living of my own age, to have been a little loose in his thoughts, and to have enjoyed a painful pleasure amidst his impotency) lose all their virtue, all their force and efficacy, by having an ugly cast of boldness very discernibly spread out at large over all those alluring features.
5. At the same time modesty will fill up the wrinkles of old age with glory; make sixty blush itself into sixteen; and help a green sick girl to defeat the satyr of a false waggish lover, who might compare her colour, when she looked like a ghost, to the blowing of the rose-bud, by blushing herself into a bloom of beauty; and might make what he meant a reflection, a real compliment, at any hour of the day, in spite of his teeth. It has a prevailing power with me, whenever I find it in the sex.
6. I who have the common fault of old men, to be very sour and humoursome, when I drink my water-gruel in a morning, fell into a more than ordinary pet with a maid whom I call my nurse, from a constant tenderness, that I have observed her to exercise towards me beyond all my other servants; I perceived her flush and glow in the face, in a manner which I could plainly discern proceeded not from anger or resentment of my correction, but from a good natured regret, upon a fear that she had offended her grave old master.
7. I was so heartily pleased, that I eased her of the honest trouble she underwent inwardly far my sake; and giving her half a crown, I told her it was a forfeit due to her because I was out of humour with her without any reason at all. And as she is so gentle-hearted, I have diligently avoided giving her one harsh word ever since: and I find my own reward in it: for not being so testy as I used, has made me much haler and stronger than I was before.
8. The pretty, and witty, and virtuous Simplicia, was, the other day, visiting with an old aunt of her's, that I verily believe has read the Atalantis; she took a story out there, and dressed up an old honest neighbour in the second hand clothes of scandal. The young creature hid her face with her fan at every burst and peal of laughter, and blushed for her guilty parent; by which she atoned, methought, for every scandal that ran round the beautiful circle.
9. As I was going home to bed that evening, I could not help thinking of her all the way I went. I represented her to myself as shedding holy blood every time she blushed, and as being a martyr in the cause of virtue. And afterwards, when I was putting on my night-cap, I could not drive the thought out of my head, but that I was young enough to be married to her; and that it would be an addition to the reputation I have in the study of wisdom, to marry to so much youth and modesty, even in my old age.
10. I know there have not been wanting many wicked objections against this virtue; one is grown insufferably common. The fellow blushes, he is guilty. I should say rather, He blushes, therefore he is innocent. I believe the same man, that first had that wicked imagination of a blush being the sign of guilt, represented good nature to be folly; and that he himself, was the most inhuman and impudent wretch alive.
11. The author of Cato, who is known to be one of the most modest, and most ingenious persons of the age we now live in, has given this virtue a delicate name in the tragedy of Cato, where the character of Marcia is first opened to us. I would have all ladies who have a mind to be thought well-bred, to think seriously on this virtue, which he so beautifully calls the sanctity of manners.
12. Modesty is a polite accomplishment, and generally an attendant upon merit. It is engaging to the highest degree, and wins the hearts of all our acquaintance. On the contrary, none are more disgustful in company than the impudent and presuming.
The man who is, on all occasions, commending and speaking well of himself, we naturally dislike. On the other hand, he who studies to conceal his own deserts, who does justice to the merit of others, who talks but little of himself, and that with modesty, makes a favourable impression on the persons he is conversing with, captivates their minds, and gains their esteem.
13. Modesty, however, widely differs from an aukward bashfulness; which is as much to be condemned as the other is to be applauded. To appear simple is as ill-bred as to be impudent. A young man ought to be able to come into a room and address the company without the least embarrassment. To be out of countenance when spoken to, and not to have an answer ready, is ridiculous to the last degree.
14. An aukward country fellow, when he comes into company better than himself, is exceedingly disconcerted. He knows not what to do with his hands or his hat, but either puts one of them in his pocket, and dangles the other by his side: or perhaps twirls his hat on his fingers, or perhaps fumbles with the button. If spoken to he is in a much worse situation; he answers with the utmost difficulty, and nearly stammers; whereas a gentleman who is acquainted with life, enters a room with gracefulness and a modest assurance; addresses even persons he does not know, in an easy and natural manner, and without the least embarrassment.
15. This is the characteristic of good-breeding, a very necessary knowledge in our intercourse with men; for one of inferior parts, with the behaviour of a gentleman, is frequently better received than a man of sense, with the address and manners of a clown. Ignorance and vice are the only things we need be ashamed of; steer clear of these, and you may go into any company you will; not that I would have a young man throw off all dread of appearing abroad; as a fear of offending, or being disesteemed, will make him preserve a proper decorum.
16. Some persons, from experiencing the bad effects of false modesty, have run into the other extreme, and acquired the character of impudent. This is as great a fault as the other. A well-bred man keeps himself within the two, and steers the middle way. He is easy and firm in every company; is modest, but not bashful; steady, but not impudent. He copies the manners of the better people, and conforms to their customs with ease and attention.
17. Till we can present ourselves in all companies with coolness and unconcern, we can never present ourselves well; nor will man ever be supposed to have kept good company, or ever be acceptable in such company, if he cannot appear there easy and unembarrassed. A modest assurance in every part of life, is the most advantageous qualification we can possibly acquire.
18. Instead of becoming insolent, a man of sense, under a consciousness of merit, is more modest. He behaves himself indeed with firmness, but without the least presumption. The man who is ignorant of his own merit is no less a fool than he who is constantly displaying it. A man of understanding avails himself of his abilities but never boasts of them; whereas the timid and bashful can never push himself in life, be his merit as great as it will; he will be always kept behind by the forward and the bustling.
19. A man of abilities, and acquainted with life, will stand as firm in defence of his own rights, and pursue his plans as steadily and unmoved as the most impudent man alive; but then he does it with a seeming modesty. Thus, manner is every thing; what is impudence in one is proper assurance only in another: for firmness is commendable, but an overbearing conduct is disgustful.
20. Forwardness being the very reverse of modesty, follow rather than lead the company; that is, join in discourse upon their subjects rather than start one of your own; if you have parts, you will have opportunities enough of shewing them on every topic of conversation; and if you have none, it is better to expose yourself upon a subject of other people's, than on one of your own.
21. But be particularly careful not to speak of yourself if you can help it. An impudent fellow lugs in himself abruptly upon all occasions, and is ever the here of his own story. Others will colour their arrogance with, "It may seem strange indeed, that I should talk in this manner of myself; it is what I by no means like, and should never do, if I had not been cruelly and unjustly accused; but when my character is attacked, it is a justice I owe to myself to defend it." This veil is too thin not to be seen through on the first inspection.
22. Others again, with more art, will modestly boast of all the principal virtues, by calling these virtues weaknesses, and saying, they are so unfortunate as to fall into those weaknesses. "I cannot see persons suffer," says one of his cast, "without relieving them; though my circumstances are very unable to afford it—I cannot avoid speaking truth; though it is often very imprudent;" and so on.
23. This angling for praise is so prevailing a principle, that it frequently stoops to the lowest object. Men will often boast of doing that, which, if true, would be rather a disgrace to them than otherwise. One man affirms that he rode twenty miles within the hour: 'tis probably a lie; but suppose he did, what then? He had a good horse under him, and is a good jockey. Another swears he has often at a sitting, drank five or six bottles to his own share. Out of respect to him, I will believe him a liar; for I would not wish to think him a beast.
24. These and many more are the follies of idle people, which, while they think they procure them esteem, in reality make them despised.
To avoid this contempt, therefore, never speak of yourself at all, unless necessity obliges you; and even then, take care to do it in such a manner, that it may not be construed into fishing for applause. Whatever perfections you may have, be assured, people will find them out; but whether they do or not, nobody will take them upon your own word. The less you say of yourself, the more the world will give you credit for; and the more you say, the less they will believe you.
1. A late conversation which I fell into, gave me an opportunity of observing a great deal of beauty in a very handsome woman, and as much wit in an ingenious man, turned into deformity in the one, and absurdity in the other, by the mere force of affectation. The fair one had something in her person upon which her thoughts were fixed, that she attempted to shew to advantage in every look, word and gesture.
2. The gentleman was as diligent to do justice to his fine parts, as the lady to her beauteous form: you might see his imagination on the stretch to find out something uncommon, and what they call bright, to entertain her: while she writhed herself into as many different postures to engage him. When she laughed, her lips were to sever at a greater distance than ordinary to shew her teeth.
3. Her fan was to point to somewhat at a distance, that in the reach she may discover the roundness of her arm; then she is utterly mistaken in what she saw, falls back, smiles at her own folly, and is so wholly discomposed, that her tucker is to be adjusted, her bosom exposed, and the whole woman put into new airs and graces.
4. While she was doing all this, the gallant had time to think of something very pleasant to say next to her, or make some unkind observation on some other lady to feed her vanity. These unhappy effects of affectation naturally led me to look into that strange state of mind, which so generally discolours the behaviour of most people we meet with.
5. The learned Dr. Burnet, in his Theory of the Earth, takes occasion to observe, that every thought is attended with consciousness and representativeness; the mind has nothing presented to it, but what is immediately followed by a reflection of conscience, which tells you whether that which was so presented is graceful or unbecoming.
6. This act of the mind discovers itself in the gesture, by a proper behaviour in those whose consciousness goes no farther than to direct them in the just progress of their present thought or action; but betrays an interruption in every second thought, when the consciousness is employed in too fondly approving a man's own conceptions; which sort of consciousness is what we call affectation.
7. As the love of praise is implanted in our bosoms as a strong incentive to worthy actions; it is a very difficult task to get above a desire of it for things that should be wholly indifferent. Women, whose hearts are fixed upon the pleasure they have in the consciousness that they are the objects of love and admiration, are ever changing the air of their countenances, and altering the attitude of their bodies, to strike the hearts of their beholders with a new sense of their beauty.
8. The dressing part of our sex, whose minds are the same with the sillier part of the other, are exactly in the like uneasy condition to be regarded for a well tied cravat, an hat cocked with an unusual briskness, a very well chosen coat, or other instances of merit, which they are impatient to see unobserved.
9. But this apparent affectation, arising from an ill governed consciousness, is not so much to be wondered at in such loose and trivial minds as these. But when you see it reign in characters of worth and distinction, it is what you cannot but lament, nor without some indignation. It creeps into the heart of the wise man, as well as that of the coxcomb.
10. When you see a man of sense look about for applause, and discover an itching inclination to be commended; lay traps for a little incense, even from those whose opinion he values in nothing but his own favour; who is safe against this weakness? or who knows whether he is guilty of it or not? The best way to get clear of such a light fondness for applause is, to take all possible care to throw off the love of it upon occasions that are not in themselves laudable; but, as it appears, we hope for no praise from them.
11. Of this nature are all graces in men's persons, dress, and bodily deportment; which will naturally be winning and attractive if we think not of them, but lose their force in proportion to our endeavour to make them such.
When our consciousness turns upon the main design of life, and our thoughts are employed upon the chief purpose either in business or pleasure, we should never betray an affectation, for we cannot be guilty of it, but when we give the passion for praise an unbridled liberty, our pleasure in little perfections robs us of what is due to us for great virtues and worthy qualities.
12. How many excellent speeches and honest actions are lost, for want of being indifferent where we ought! Men are oppressed with regard to their way of speaking and acting, instead of having their thoughts bent upon what they should do or say; and by that means bury a capacity for great things, by their fear of failing in indifferent things. This, perhaps, cannot be called affectation; but it has some tincture of it, at least so far, as that their fear of erring in a thing of no consequence argues they would be too much pleased in performing it.
13. It is only from a thorough disregard to himself in such particulars, that a man can act with a laudable sufficiency; his heart is fixed upon one point in view; and he commits no errors, because he thinks nothing an error but what deviates from that intention.
The wild havock affectation makes in that part of the world which should be most polite, is visible wherever we turn our eyes; it pushes men not only into impertinences in conversation, but also in their premeditated speeches.
14. At the bar it torments the bench, whose business it is to cut off all superfluities in what is spoken before it by the practitioner; as well as several little pieces of injustice which arise from the law itself. I have seen it make a man run from the purpose before a judge, who at the bar himself, so close and logical a pleader, that with all the pomp of eloquence in his power, he never spoke a word too much.
15. It might be borne even here, but it often ascends the pulpit itself; and the declaimer, in that sacred place, is frequently so impertinently witty, speaks of the last day itself with so many quaint phrases, that there is no man who understands raillery, but must resolve to sin no more; nay, you may behold him sometimes in prayer, for a proper delivery of the great truths he is to utter, humble himself with a very well turned phrase, and mention his unworthiness in a way so very becoming, that the air of the pretty gentleman is preserved, under the lowliness of the preacher.
16. I shall end this with a short letter I wrote the other day to a very witty man, over-run with the fault I am now speaking of.
I spent some time with you the other day, and must take the liberty of a friend to tell you of the insufferable affectation you are guilty of in all you say and do.
17. When I gave you a hint of it, you asked me whether a man is to be cold to what his friends think of him? No, but praise is not to be the entertainment of every moment: he that hopes for it must be able to suspend the possession of it till proper periods of life, or death itself. If you would not rather be commended than be praiseworthy, contemn little merits; and allow no man to be so free with you, as to praise you to your face.
18. Your vanity by this means will want its food. At the same time your passion for esteem will be more fully gratified; men will praise you in their actions: where you now receive one compliment you will then receive twenty civilities. Till then you will never have of either, further than,
Your humble servant.'
SPECTATOR, Vol. 1. No. 38.
19. Nature does nothing in vain; the Creator of the Universe has appointed every thing to a certain use and purpose, and determined it to a settled course and sphere of action, from which, if it in the least deviates, it becomes unfit to answer those ends for which it was designed.
20. In like manner it is in the disposition of society: the civil oeconomy is formed in a chain as well as the natural; and in either case the breach but of one link puts the whole in some disorder. It is, I think, pretty plain, that most of the absurdity and ridicule we meet with in the world, is generally owing to the impertinent affectation of excelling in characters men are not fit for, and for which nature never designed them.
21. Every man has one or more qualities which may make him useful both to himself and others: Nature never fails of pointing them out, and while the infant continues under her guardianship, she brings him on in his way, and then offers herself for a guide in what remains of the journey; if he proceeds in that course, he can hardly miscarry: Nature makes good her engagements; for as she never promises what she is not able to perform, so she never fails of performing what she promises.
22. But the misfortune is, men despise what they may be masters of, and affect what they are not fit for; they reckon themselves already possessed of what their genius inclines them to, and so bend all their ambition to excel in what is out of their reach; thus they destroy the use of their natural talents, in the same manner as covetous men do their quiet and repose; they can enjoy no satisfaction in what they have, because of the absurd inclination they are possessed with for what they have not.
23. Cleanthes had good sense, a great memory, and a constitution capable of the closest application: in a word, there was no profession in which Cleanthes might not have made a very good figure; but this won't satisfy him; he takes up an unaccountable fondness for the character of a line gentleman; all his thoughts are bent upon this, instead of attending a dissection, frequenting the courts of justice, or studying the Fathers.
24. Cleanthes reads plays, dances, dresses, and spends his time in drawing rooms, instead of being a good lawyer, divine, or physician; Cleanthes is a down-right coxcomb, and will remain to all that knew him a contemptible example of talents misapplied. It is to this affectation the world owes its whole race of coxcombs; Nature in her whole drama never drew such a part; she has sometimes made a fool, but a coxcomb is always of a man's own making, by applying his talents otherwise than nature designed, who ever bears an high resentment for being put out of her course, and never fails of taking revenge on those that do so.
25. Opposing her tendency in the application of a man's parts, has the same success as declining from her course in the production of vegetables; by the assistance of art and an hot bed, we may possibly extort an unwilling plant, or an untimely sallad; but how weak, how tasteless, and insipid! Just as insipid as the poetry of Valerio.
26. Valerio had an universal character, was genteel, had learning, thought justly, spoke correctly; 'twas believed there was nothing in which Valerio did not excel; and 'twas so far true, that there was but one: Valerio had no genius for poetry, yet was resolved to be a poet; he writes verses, and takes great pains to convince the town, that Valerio is not that extraordinary person he was taken for.
27. If men would be content to graft upon nature, and assist her operations, what mighty effects might we expect? Tully would not stand so much alone in oratory, Virgil in poetry, or Caesar in war. To build upon nature, is laying the foundation upon a rock; every thing disposes itself into order as it were of course, and the whole work is half done as soon as undertaken. Cicero's genius inclined him to oratory, Virgil's to follow the train of the muses; they piously obeyed the admonition, and were rewarded.
28. Had Virgil attended the bar, his modest and ingenuous virtue would surely have made but a very indifferent figure: and Tully's declamatory inclination would have been as useless in poetry. Nature, if left to herself, leads us on in the best course, but will do nothing by compulsion and constraint; and if we are not satisfied to go her way, we are always the greatest sufferers by it.
29. Wherever nature designs a production, she always disposes seeds proper for it, which are as absolutely necessary to the formation of any moral or intellectual existence, as they are to the being and growth of plants; and I know not by what fate and folly it is, that men are taught not to reckon him equally absurd that will write verses in spite of nature, with that gardener that should undertake to raise a jonquil or tulip, without the help of their respective seeds.
30. As there is no good or bad quality that does not affect both sexes, so it is not to be imagined but the fair sex must have suffered by an affectation of this nature, at least as much as the other: the ill effect of it is in none so conspicuous as in the two opposite characters of Caelia and Iras. Caelia has all the charms of person, together with an abundant sweetness of nature, but wants wit, and has a very ill voice: Iras is ugly and ungenteel, but has wit and good sense.
31. If Caelia would be silent, her beholders would adore her; if Iras would talk, her hearers would admire her; but Caelia's tongue runs incessantly, while Iras gives herself silent airs and soft languors; so that 'tis difficult to persuade one's self that Caelia has beauty, and Iras wit: each neglects her own excellence, and is ambitious of the other's character: Iras would be thought to have as much beauty as Caelia, and Caelia as much wit as Iras.
32. The great misfortune of this affectation is, that men not only lose a good quality, but also contract a bad one: they not only are unfit for what they were designed, but they assign themselves to what they are not fit for; and instead of making a very good, figure one way, make a very ridiculous one in another.
33. If Semanthe would have been satisfied with her natural complexion, she might still have been celebrated by the name of the olive beauty; but Semanthe has taken up an affectation to white and red, and is now distinguished by the character of the lady that paints so well.
34. In a word, could the world be reformed to the obedience of that famed dictate, follow nature, which the oracle of Delphos pronounced to Cicero when he consulted what course of studies he should pursue, we should see almost every man as eminent in his proper sphere as Tully was in his, and should in a very short time find impertinence and affectation banished from among the women, and coxcombs and false characters from among the men.
35. For my part I could never consider this preposterous repugnancy to nature any otherwise, than not only as the greatest folly, but also one of the most heinous crimes, since it is a direct opposition to the disposition of providence, and (as Tully expresses it) like the sin of the giants, an actual rebellion against heaven.
SPECTATOR, Vol. VI. No. 404.
Good Humour and Nature.
1. A man advanced in years that thinks fit to look back upon his former life, and calls that only life which was passed with satisfaction and enjoyment, excluding all parts which were not pleasant to him, will find himself very young, if not in his infancy. Sickness, ill-humour, and idleness, will have robbed him of a great share of that space we ordinarily call our life.
2. It is therefore the duty of every man that would be true to himself, to obtain, if possible, a disposition to be pleased, and place himself in a constant aptitude for the satisfaction of his being. Instead of this, you hardly see a man who is not uneasy in proportion to his advancement in the arts of life.
3. An affected delicacy is the common improvement we meet with in these who pretend to be refined above others: they do not aim at true pleasure themselves, but turn their thoughts upon observing the false pleasures of other men. Such people are valetudinarians in society, and they should no more come into company than a sick man should come into the air.
4. If a man is too weak to bear what is a refreshment to men in health, he must still keep his chamber. When any one in Sir Roger's company complains he is out of order, he immediately calls for some posset drink for him; for which reason that sort of people, who are ever bewailing their constitutions in other places, are the cheerfulest imaginable when he is present.
5. It is a wonderful thing that so many, and they not reckoned absurd, shall entertain those with whom they converse, by giving them the history of their pains and aches; and imagine such narrations their quota of the conversation. This is, of all others, the-meanest help to discourse, and a man must not think at all, or think himself very insignificant, when he finds an account of his head ache answered by another asking, what news in the last mail?
6. Mutual good humour is a dress we ought to appear in wherever we meet, and we should make no mention of what concerns ourselves, without it be of matters wherein our friends ought to rejoice: but indeed there are crowds of people who put themselves in no method of pleasing themselves or others; such are those whom we usually call indolent persons.
7. Indolence is, methinks, an intermediate state between pleasure and pain, and very much unbecoming any part of our life after we are out of the nurse's arms. Such an aversion to labour creates a constant weariness, and one would think should make existence itself a burden.
8. The indolent man descends from the dignity of his nature, and makes that being which was rational, merely vegetative; his life consists only in the mere increase and decay of a body, which, with relation to the rest of the world, might as well have been uninformed, as the habitation of a reasonable mind.
9. Of this kind is the life of that extraordinary couple, Harry Tersett and his lady. Harry was, in the days of his celibacy, one of those pert creatures who have much vivacity and little understanding; Mrs. Rebecca Quickly, whom he married, had all that the fire of youth and a lively manner could do towards making an agreeable woman.
10. These two people of seeming merit fell into each other's arms; and passion being sated, and no reason or good sense in either to succeed it, their life is now at a stand; their meals are insipid, and time tedious; their fortune has placed them above care, and their loss of taste reduced them below diversion.
11. When we talk of these as instances of inexistence, we do not mean, that in order to live it is necessary we should always be in jovial crews, or crowned with chaplets of roses, as the merry fellows among the ancients are described; but it is intended by considering these contraries to pleasure, indolence and too much delicacy, to shew that it is prudent to preserve a disposition in ourselves, to receive a certain delight in all we hear and see.
12. This portable quality of good-humour seasons all the parts and occurrences we meet with; in such a manner, that there are no moments lost; but they all pass with so much satisfaction, that the heaviest of loads (when it is a load) that of time, is never felt by us.
13. Varilas has this quality to the highest perfection, and communicates it wherever he appears: the sad, the merry, the severe, the melancholy, shew a new cheerfulness when he comes amongst them. At the same time no one can repeat any thing that Varilas has ever said that deserves repetition; but the man has that innate goodness of temper, that he is welcome to every body, because every man thinks he is so to him.
14. He does not seem to contribute any thing to the mirth of the company; and yet upon reflection you find it all happened by his being there. I thought it was whimsically said of a gentleman, That if Varilas had wit, it would be the best wit in the world. It is certain when a well corrected lively imagination and good-breeding are added to a sweet disposition, they qualify it to be one of the greatest blessings, as well as pleasures of life.
15. Men would come into company with ten times the pleasure they do, if they were sure of bearing nothing which should shock them, as well as expected what would please them. When we know every person that is spoken of is represented by one who has no ill-will, and every thing that is mentioned described by one that is apt to set it in the best light, the entertainment must be delicate, because the cook has nothing bought to his hand, but what is the most excellent in its kind.
16. Beautiful pictures are the entertainments of pure minds, and deformities of the corrupted. It is a degree towards the life of angels, when we enjoy conversation wherein there is nothing present but in its excellence; and a degree towards that of demons, wherein nothing is shewn but in its degeneracy.
SPECTATOR, Vol. II. No. 100.
1. One would think that the larger the company is in which we are engaged, the greater variety of thoughts and subjects would be started in discourse; but instead of this, we find that conversation is never so much straitened and confined as in numerous assemblies.
2. When a multitude meet together upon any subject of discourse, their debates are taken up chiefly with forms; and general positions; nay, if we come into a more contracted assembly of men and women, the talk generally runs upon the weather, fashions, news, and the like public topics.
3. In proportion as conversation gets into clubs and knots of friends, it descends into particulars, and grows more free and communicative; but the most open, instructive, and unreserved discourse, is that which passes between two persons who are familiar and intimate friends.
4. On these occasions, a man gives a loose to every passion, and every thought that is uppermost discovers his most retired opinions of persons and things, tries the beauty and strength of his sentiments, and exposes his whole soul to the examination of his friend.
5. Tully was the first who observed, that friendship improves happiness and abates misery, by the doubling of our joy and dividing of our grief; a thought in which he hath been followed by all the essayers upon friendship, that have written since his time. Sir Francis Bacon has finally described other advantages, or, as he calls them, fruits of friendship; and indeed there is no subject of morality which has been better handled and more exhausted than this.
6. Among the several fine things which have been spoken of, I shall beg leave to quote some out of a very ancient author, whose book would be regarded by our modern wits as one of the most shining tracts of morality that is extant, if it appeared under the name of a Confucius or of any celebrated Grecian philosopher; I mean the little Apocryphal Treatise, entitled the Wisdom of the Son of Sirach.
7. How finely has he described the art of making friends, by an obliging and affable behaviour! And laid down that precept which a late excellent author has delivered as his own, "That we should have many well-wishers, but few friends." Sweet language will multiply friends; and a fair-speaking tongue will increase kind greetings. Be in peace with many, nevertheless have but one counsellor of a thousand.
8. With what prudence does he caution us in the choice of our friends! And with what strokes of nature (I could almost say of humour) has he described the behaviour of a treacherous and self-interested friend—"If thou wouldest get a friend, prove him first, and be not hasty to credit him: for some man is a friend for his own occasion, and will not abide in the day of thy trouble."
9. "And there is a friend, who being turned to enmity and strife, will discover thy reproach." Again, "Some friend is a companion at the table, and will not continue in the day of thy affliction: but in thy prosperity he will be as thyself, and will be bold over thy servants. If thou be brought low, he will be against thee, and hide himself from thy face."
10. What can be more strong and pointed than the following verse? "Separate thyself from thine enemies, and take heed of thy friends." In the next words he particularizes one of those fruits of friendship which is described at length by the two famous authors above mentioned, and falls into a general eulogium of friendship, which is very just as well as very sublime.
11. "A faithful friend is a strong defence; and he that hath found such a one, hath found a treasure. Nothing doth countervail a faithful friend, and his excellence is invaluable. A faithful friend is the medicine of life; and they that fear the Lord, shall find him. Whoso feareth the Lord, shall direct his friendship aright; for as he is, so shall his neighbour (that is, his friend) be also."
12. I do not remember to have met with any saying that has pleased me more than that of a friend's being the medicine of life, to express the efficacy of friendship in healing the pains and anguish which naturally cleave to our existence in this world; and am wonderfully pleased with the turn in the last sentence, That a virtuous man shall, as a blessing, meet with a friend who is as virtuous as himself.
13. There is another saying in the same author, which would have been very much admired in an heathen writer: "Forsake not an old friend, for the new is not comparable to him: a new friend is as new wine; when it is old thou shalt drink it with pleasure."
14. With what strength of allusion, and force of thought, has he described the breaches and violations of friendship! "Whoso casteth a stone at the birds, frayeth them away; and he that upbraideth his friend, breaketh friendship. Though thou drawest a sword at a friend, yet despair not, for there may be a returning to favor; if thou hast opened thy mouth against thy friend, fear not, for there may be a reconciliation; except for upbraiding, or pride, or disclosing of secrets, or a treacherous wound; for, for these things, every friend will depart."
15. We may observe in this and several other precepts in this author, those little familiar instances and illustrations which are so much admired in the moral writings of Horace and Epictetus. There are very beautiful instances of this nature in the following pages, which are likewise written upon the same subject:
16. "Whoso discovereth secrets, loseth his credit, and shall never find a friend to his mind. Love thy friend, and be faithful unto him; but if thou betrayest his secret, follow no more after him; for as a man hath destroyed his enemy, so hast thou lost the love of thy friend; as one that letteth a bird go out of his hand, so hast thou let thy friend go, and shall not get him again: follow after him no more, for he is too far off; he is as a roe escaped out of the snare. As for a wound, it may be bound up, and after reviling, there may be reconciliation; but he that betrayeth secrets, is without hope."
17. Among the several qualifications of a good friend, this wise man has very justly singled out constancy and faithfulness as the principal; to these, others have added virtue, knowledge, discretion, equality in age and fortune, and, as Cicero calls it, morum comitas, a pleasantness of temper.
18. If I were to give my opinion upon such an exhausted subject, I should join to these other qualifications a certain aequibility or evenness of behaviour. A man often contracts a friendship with one whom perhaps he does not find out till after a year's conversation: when, on a sudden, some latent ill-humour breaks out upon him, which he never discovered or suspected at his first entering into an intimacy with him.
19. There are several persons who, in some certain periods of their lives, are inexpressibly agreeable, and in others as odious and detestable. Martial has given us a very pretty picture of one of these species in the following epigram:
Difficilis facilas, jocundus, acerbus, es idem, Nec tecum possum vivere; nec sine te. Epig. 47. 1. 12.
In all thy humours, whether grave or mellow, Thou'rt such a touchy, testy, pleasant fellow; Hast so much wit and mirth, and spleen about thee, There is no living with thee nor without thee.
20. It is very unlucky for a man to be entangled in a friendship with one, who by these changes and vicissitudes of humour is sometimes amiable, and sometimes odious: and as most men are at some times in an admirable frame and disposition of mind, it should be one of the greatest tasks of wisdom to keep ourselves well when we are so, and never to go out of that which is the agreeable part of our character.
SPECTATOR, Vol. 1. No. 68.
21. "Friendship is a strong and habitual inclination in two persons to promote the good and happiness of one another." Though the pleasures and advantages of friendship have been largely celebrated by the best moral writers, and are considered by all as great ingredients of human happiness, we very rarely meet with the practice of this virtue an the world.
22. Every man is ready to give a long catalogue of those virtues and good qualities he expects to find in the person of a friend, but very few of us are careful to cultivate them in ourselves.
Love and esteem are the first principles of friendship, which always is imperfect where either of these two is wanting.
23. As on the one hand, we are soon ashamed of loving a man whom we cannot esteem; so on the other, though we are truly sensible of a man's abilities, we can never raise ourselves to the warmths of friendship, without an affectionate good will towards his person.
24. Friendship immediately banishes envy under all its disguises. A man who can once doubt whether he should rejoice in his friend's being happier than himself, may depend upon it, that he is an utter stranger to this virtue.
25. There is something in friendship so very great and noble, that in those fictitious stories which are invented to the honor of any particular person, the authors have thought it as necessary to make their hero a friend as a lover. Achilles has his Patroclus, and AEneas his Achates.
26. In the first of these instances we may observe, for the reputation of the subject I am treating of, that Greece was almost ruined by the hero's love, but was preserved by his friendship.
27. The character of Achates suggests to us an observation we may often make on the intimacies of great men, who frequently choose their companions rather for the qualities of the heart, than those of the head: and prefer fidelity, in an easy, inoffensive, complying temper, to those endowments which make a much greater figure among mankind.
28. I do not remember that Achates, who is represented as the first favourite, either gives his advice, or strikes a blow through the whole AEneid.
A friendship, which makes the least noise, is very often most useful; for which reason I should prefer a prudent friend to a zealous one.
29. Atticus, one of the best men of ancient Rome, was a very remarkable instance of what I am here speaking.—This extraordinary person, amidst the civil wars of his country, when he saw the designs of all parties equally tended to the subvention of liberty, by constantly preserving the esteem and affection of both the competitors, found means to serve his friends on either side: and while he sent money to young Marius, whose father was declared an enemy of the commonwealth, he was himself one of Sylla's chief favourites, and always near that general.
30. During the war between Caesar and Pompey, he still maintained the same conduct. After the death of Caesar, he sent money to Brutus, in his troubles, and did a thousand good offices to Anthony's wife and friends, when the party seemed ruined. Lastly, even in that bloody war between Anthony and Augustus, Atticus still kept his place in both their friendships; insomuch, that the first, says Cornelius Nepos, whenever he was absent from Rome, in any part of the empire, writ punctually to him what he was doing, what he read, and whither he intended to go; and the latter gave him constantly an exact account of all his affairs.
31. A likeness of inclinations in every particular is so far from being requisite to form a benevolence in two minds towards each other, as it is generally imagined, that I believe we shall find some of the firmest friendships to have been contracted between persons of different humours; the mind being often pleased with those perfections which are new to it, and which it does not find among its own accomplishments.
32. Besides that a man in some measure supplies his own defects, and fancies himself at second-hand possessed of those good qualities and endowments, which are in the possession of him who in the eye of the world is looked on as his other self.
33. The most difficult province in friendship is the letting a man see his faults and errors, which should, if possible, be so contrived, that he may perceive our advice is given him not so much to please ourselves, as for his own advantage. The reproaches, therefore, of a friend, should always be strictly just, and not too frequent.
34. The violent desire of pleasing in the person reproved may otherwise change into a despair of doing it, while he finds himself censured for faults he is not conscious of. A mind that is softened and humanized by friendship, cannot bear frequent reproaches: either it must quite sink under the oppression, or abate considerably of the value and esteem it had for him who bestows them.
35. The proper business of friendship is to inspire life and courage; and a soul, thus supported, out-does itself; whereas if it be unexpectedly deprived of those succours, it droops and languishes.
36. We are in some measure more inexcusable if we violate our duties to a friend, than to a relation; since the former arise from a voluntary choice, the latter from a necessity, to which we could not give our own consent.
37. As it has been said on one side, that a man ought not to break with a faulty friend, that he may not expose the weakness of his choice; it will doubtless hold much stronger with respect to a worthy one, that he may never be upbraided for having lost so valuable a treasure which was once in his possession.
Detraction and Falsehood
1. I have not seen you lately at any of the places where I visit, so that I am afraid you are wholly unacquainted with what passes among my part of the world, who are, though I say it, without controversy, the most accomplished and best bred in the town.
2. Give me leave to tell you, that I am extremely discomposed when I hear scandal, and am an utter enemy to all manner of detraction, and think it the greatest meanness that people of distinction can be guilty of; however, it is hardly possible to come into company, where you do not find them pulling one another to pieces, and that from no other provocation but that of hearing any one commended.
3. Merit, both as to wit and beauty, is become no other than the possession of a few trifling people's favor, which you cannot possibly arrive at, if you have really any thing in you that is deserving.
4. What they would bring to pass is, to make all good and evil consist in report, and with whisper, calumnies, and impertinence, to have the conduct of those reports.
5. By this means innocents are blasted upon their first appearance in town: and there is nothing more required to make a young woman the object of envy and hatred, than to deserve love and admiration.
6. This abominable endeavour to suppressor lessen every thing that is praise-worthy, is as frequent among the men as women. If I can remember what passed at a visit last night, it will serve as an instance that the sexes are equally inclined to defamation, with equal malice, with equal impotence.
7. Jack Triplett came into my Lady Airy's about eight of the clock. You know the manner we sit at a visit, and I need not describe the circle; but Mr. Triplett came in, introduced by two tapers supported by a spruce servant, whose hair is under a cap till my lady's candles are all lighted up, and the hour of ceremony begins.
8. I say Jack Triplett came in, and singing (for he is really good company) 'Every feature, charming creature,'—he went on. It is a most unreasonable thing that people cannot go peaceably to see their friends, but these murderers are let loose.
9. Such a shape! such an air! what a glance was that as her chariot passed by mine!—My lady herself interrupted him: Pray, who is this fine thing?—I warrant, says another, 'tis the creature I was telling your ladyship of just now.
10. You were telling of? says Jack; I wish I had been so happy as to have come in and heard you, for I have not words to say what she is: but if an agreeable height, a modest air, a virgin shame, and impatience of being beheld, amidst a blaze of ten thousand charms—The whole room flew out—Oh, Mr. Triplett! When Mrs. Lofty, a known prude, said she believed she knew whom the gentleman meant; but she was, indeed, as he civilly represented her, impatient of being beheld. Then turning to the lady next her—The most unbred creature you ever saw.
11. Another pursued the discourse:—As unbred, madam, as you may think her, she is extremely belied if she is the novice she appears; she was last week at a ball till two in the morning: Mr. Triplett knows whether he was the happy man that took care of her home; but—This was followed by some particular exception that each woman in the room made to some peculiar grace or advantage; so that Mr. Triplett was beaten from one limb and feature to another, till he was forced to resign the whole woman.
12. In the end, I took notice Triplett recorded all this malice in his heart; and saw in his countenance, and a certain waggish shrug, that he designed to repeat the conversation: I therefore let the discourse die, and soon after took an occasion to commend a certain gentleman of my acquaintance for a person of singular modesty, courage, integrity, and withal, as a man of an entertaining conversation, to which advantages he had a shape and manner peculiarly graceful.