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cafm, and any thing but matter of fact. After confidering the principal qualities of Tacitus as a writer and an hiftorian, he goes on as follows: We cannot help thinking, fays he, that there is a falfe fublime and affectation in his description: a fcurrility and fatyrical vein, with too epigrammatical a conciseness in his wit; an acuteness, but too fpeculative, and a policy over-refined in his obfervations; a malignant and ill-natured turn in his characters; a philofophy too abstracted and elevated in his reasoners, and a vanity in his learning: in short, that he is in antiquity a pedant; in the philosophy of nature a sceptic; in morals loofe; in defcription gaudy and pompous; in politicks fubdolous, refined and knavish.'
That we may not abuse the patience of our readers, we fhall only acquaint them, that our author, in the second part of his work, compares Tacitus with Livy, and is equally judicious in the commendations he bestows on the latter, as he is in the cenfure which he paffes on the former.
ART. LIII. Memoirs illuftrating the manners of the prefent Age. By monfieur Du Clos, historiographer to the French king, and member of the royal academy at Paris. Tranflated from the French by a gentleman. 12mo. 2 vols, 6s. Whiston, &c.
N the firft volume of this work, our ingenious author gives us his thoughts on a variety of ufeful fubjects; fuch as, manners in general; education; virtue and honour; reputation; the real value of things; affectation, &c.Many of his reflections are extremely judicious, and fuch as fhew him to be well acquainted with human nature; the English reader indeed will not be able to enter thoroughly into them, without a tolerable acquaintance with French manners, which monfieur Du Clofs paints with no lefs juftice than freedom.
In the fecond volume, he gives us the history of the intrigues of a young nobleman of great vivacity, who is carried impetuoufly down the ftream of fashionable but falfe pleasure, and, after fome years spent in a dull circle of infipid gaiety and debauchery, is at laft, by the force of his own reflections on the monftrous folly of fuch a course, brought back to the paths of virtue and domeftic happinefs. In this fecond part, there is nothing to offend the
modeft reader, no low fcenes exhibited, as is but too frequently the cafe in such writings, to the great reproach of most of our modern authors in this way: the defign of the whole appears to be to turn vice into ridicule, and to get the laugh on the fide of virtue.
That our readers may in fome measure be able to judge of our author's manner, and likewife of the merit of the tranflation, we shall present them with the following fpecimen, taken from the chapter on education. If education, says he, was guided by reason, men would acquire a great many truths with more facility than they receive a small number of errors. Truths have, one with another, a relation, a connection and affinity, points of contact, which help knowledge and memory; whereas errors ftand generally by themselves, and are more efficacious than confequent; greater efforts are required to be undeceived, than to be preferved from them.
Ordinary education is far from being fyftematical; when some imperfect notions of things, which are but of very little use, are acquired, the chief inftruction that is afterwards recommended, is the means of making a forture. Politeness is the morality we are taught, which is more a neceffary means of acquiring a fortune than a leffon of humanity.
What does this politenefs confift in, which is fo much recommended, on which so much was writ, fo many precepts given, and fo few fixed ideas? Subjects, which were fo often treated, are looked upon to be exhaufted; and thofe, whofe importance is cried up, to be clear and evident. I do not flatter myself with the thoughts of treating this matter better than has been already done; but I will tell my mind in a few words. There are fome inexhaustible fubjects: befides, it is useful, that those whose knowledge concerns us nearly, fhould appear in different lights, and be feen by different eyes. Weak eyes, whofe weakness even makes them more attentive, perceive fometimes what has escaped a more extended and rapid fight.
• Politeness is the expreffion or imitation of focial virtues; it is the expreffion, if it be true, and the imitation, if it be falfe: focial virtues make us ufeful or agreeable to those we live with. A man who enjoys them all is certainly polite in the highest degree.
But how does it happen, that a man of an elevated genius, of a generous heart, and exact juftice, iswanting in politenefs, whilft it is found in another of shallow understanding,
derstanding, in one, who has always his own intereft at heart, or a man of fufpected probity? It is, because the first wants some focial qualities; fuch as, prudence, difcretion, referve, or indulgence for the faults and weakneffes of men. One of the first focial virtues is, to tolerate in others, what we fhould forbid ourselves. Whereas the fecond, without having any virtue, has the art to imitate them all. He knows how to fhew refpect to his fuperiors, goodness to his inferiors, efteem to his equals, and perfuades them all, that he thinks favourably of them; without having one of the fentiments he imitates.
Men know, that the politenefs they fhew each other, is but an imitation of efteem. They agree in general, that the obliging things they fay, are not the language of truth or of the heart; and on particular occafions, they themfelves are deceived and gulled in their turn. Self-love makes every one believe foolishly, that what is done through decorum, is a juftice paid them.
Tho' we are convinced that proteftations of efteem are falfe, yet we prefer them to fincerity; because this falfhood has an air of refpect in fome occafions, where candour and truth would be offenfive. A man knows that others think ill of him, and this mortifies him: to acknowledge it to himself, would infult him, deprive him of the refource he seeks in blinding himself, and prove to him, how little he is esteemed. Such as are moft united, and have reason to efteem each other, would become mortal enemies, if they fhewed plainly, and without difguife, what they think of each other. There is a certain veil of obfcurity, which preferves friendship, and which we are all afraid to lift up.
But where lies the medium, which feparates vile falfhood from offenfive fincerity? In mutual regard, that forms the bonds of society, and grows from the conviction of our own imperfections, and the need we have of indulgence. Men fhould neither be deceived, nor offended.
It appears, that, in the education of the people of the world, they are fuppofed incapable of virtue; and that they would have reafon to blush, had they fhewed themselves to be what they really are; as if a mask was a remedy for deformity.
The politeness which is in use, is but a filly jargon, full of exaggerated expreffions, as void of fenfe as fentiments.
• Politeness, however, fhews, it is faid, a man of birth the greatest men are the most polite. I own that this politeness is the firft mark of elevation, and a bulwark against familiarity. There is a great difference between politeness and sweetness of temper; and a greater between sweetness of temper and goodnefs. Great men, who keep us at a distance with politenefs without goodness, fhould also be paid in their turn, with refpect without attachment.
It is added, that politenefs proves an education well taken care of, and our having lived in chofen company: it requires fo nice a touch, and fo delicate a fentiment for whatever is fuitable or agreeable, that fuch as have not been initiated in it, in their youth, make but vain efforts to acquire it afterwards; and can never go through it gracefully and genteely. Firft, the difficulty of a thing is not a proof of its excellence. Secondly, it is to be wished, that men who purposely renounce their character, fhould gather no other fruit but that of becoming ridiculous this perhaps would bring them back to truth and plain dealing.
Befides, this exquifite politeness is not fo rare, as thofe who have no other merit would perfuade us. It produces now-a-days fo little effect, as its falfhood is fo well known, that it is fometimes difagreeable even to thofe whom it is addreffed to; infomuch, that fome people think it adviseable to act in a rude and clownish manner, the better to imitate openness and fincerity, and cover their defigns. Thus they are rude without being fincere, and falfe, without being polite..
It is by polifhing themselves, men have learned to reconcile their private with the common intereft; and by this conformity have experienced, that every man draws more from fociety than he could put into it.
The politenefs of great men ought to be humanity; that of inferiors, gratitude, if great men deferve it; that of equals, esteem and mutual good offices. Far from excufing rufticity, it were to be wished, that the politeness which flows from fweetnefs of manners, was always united with that, which rifes from the uprightness and integrity of the heart.
The most unhappy effect which usual politenefs produces, is, to teach us the art of making no account of the virtues we imitate. Let us, in our education, be inspired with humanity, bounty and benevolence, and we fhall, by this means, learn politenefs, or have no farther need of it.? ART.
ART. LIV. The hiftory of Jack Connor.
F the feveral books of entertainment published in the of the late winter, none gave us more fatif
faction in the perusal, than this work; which is unqueftionably the best of the kind that hath appeared fince the adventures of Pompey the little. The author hath taken uncommon and effectual care to conceal his name from the public; from which circumstance, and from certain flight crudities in the performance, we are inclined to think it the production of a young writer, whofe modefty, perhaps, or prudence, determined him to wait in fecret the judgment of his readers, and to avail himself of a cenfure or approbation which could not be thought the less impartial, or true, from their abfolute ignorance of the author. Gueffes, indeed, have been plentifully aim'd at him; but all that these have discovered or agreed in, is, that he appears to be a gentleman, and of a neighbouring kingdom, famous for having produced fome of the brighteft wits, and braveft foldiers in the modern world. Every unprejudiced reader must own, that the ftile, and fentiments of this writer, fpeak him to be above the common run of authors, and his refusal of any gratuity from his bookseller for the copy, intimates his being above the want of thofe pecuniary returns which the generality of our literati are obliged to accept, as equivalent for their abilities and their labours.
The principal scenes of Mr. Connor's adventures are laid in Ireland, where the hero receives his birth and education. The author takes frequent occafion to exprefs his fondness for this country, to digrefs in its praife, to throw out hints. for its advantage, and propofe fchemes for its improvement; he often makes fmart reprizals upon the English, for their national and vulgar prejudices against their brethren of Ireland. He does not, however, fpare the Irish themselves; who, in their turn, are made to contribute their fhare towards the entertainment of his readers: in a word, our author's merit, in the article of humour, is, we apprehend, chiefly to be found in those parts of his work where he sports. with fome peculiarities in the manners of the lower claffes among the natives of that country, and of England.
The ftory of Jack Conner may be justly confidered, upon the whole, as a truly moral tale, notwithstanding fome levities may be found in it, which may show the au