« AnteriorContinuar »
have called themselves men of honour, that would have been a difgrace to a gibbet. In a word, the man who fa crifices any duty of a reasonable creature to a prevailing mode or fafhion, who looks upon any thing as honourable that is difpleafing to his Maker, or destructive to fociety, who thinks himself obliged by this principle to the practice of fome virtues and not of others, is by no means to be reckoned among true men of honour.
TIMOGENES was a lively inftance of one actuated by falfe honour. Timogenes would fmile at a man's jeft who ridiculed his Maker, and at the fame time, run a man through the body that spoke ill of his friend. Timogenes would have. fcorned to have betrayed a fecret, that was intrusted with him, though the fate of his country depended upon the difcovery of it. Timogenes took away the life of a young fellow in a duel, for having fpoke ill of Belinda, a lady whom he himself had feduced in her youth, and betrayed into want and ignominy. To close his character, Timogenes, after having ruined several poor tradefmen's families who had trufted him, fold his eftate to fatisfy his creditors; but like a man of honour, difpofed of all the money he could make of it, in the paying of his play-debts, or to speak in his own language, his debts of honour.
IN the third place, we are to confider thofe perfons, who treat this principle as chimerical, and turn it into ridicule. Men who are profeffedly of no honour, are of a more profligate and abandoned nature than even those who are actuated by falfe notions of it, as there is more hope of a heretic than of an atheift. These fons of infamy confider honor with old Syphax, in the play before-mentioned, as a fine imaginary notion that leads aftray young unexperienced men, and draws them into real mifchiefs, while they are engaged
in the pursuits of a fhadow. These are generally perfons who, in Shakespeare's phrafe," are worn and hackneyed in the ways of men;" whofe imaginations are grown callous, and have loft all thofe delicate fentiments which are natural to minds that are innocent and undepraved. Such old battered miscreants ridicule every thing as romantic that comes in competition with their prefent intereft, and treat those perfons as vifionaries, who dare ftand up in a corrupt age, for what has not its immediate reward joined to it. The talents, intereft, or experience of fuch men, make them very often useful in all parties, and at all times. But whatever wealth and dignities they may arrive at, they ought to confider, that every one ftands as a blot in the annals of his country, who arrives at the temple of honour by any other way than through that of virtue.
OOD humour may be defined a habit of being pleased; a conftant and perennial softness of manner, eafinefs of approach, and fuavity of difpofition; like that which every man perceives in himself, when the first transports of new felicity have subsided, and his thoughts are only kept in motion by a flow fucceffion of foft impulfes. Good humour is a state between gaiety and unconcern; the act or emanation of a mind at leifure to regard the gratification of another.
It is imagined by many, that whenever they aspire to please, they are required to be merry, and to fhew the gladmefs of their fouls by flights and pleasantry, and bursts of laughter.
laughter. But though thefe men may be for a time heard with applause and admiration, they feldom delight us long. We enjoy them a little, and then retire to easiness and good humour, as the eye gazes awhile on eminences glittering with the fun, but foon turns aching away to verdure and to Яowers.
GAIETY is to good humour as animal perfumes to vegetable fragrance; the one overpowers weak spirits, and the other recreates and revives them. Gaiety feldom fails to give some pain; the hearers either strain their faculties to accompany its towerings, or are left behind in envy and despair. Good humour boasts no faculties which every one does not believe in his power, and pleases principally by not offending.
It is well known, that the most certain way to give any man pleasure, is to perfuade him that you receive pleasure from him, to encourage him to freedom and confidence, and to avoid any fuch appearance of fuperiority as may overbear and deprefs him. We fee many that by this art only, spend their days in the midft of careffes, invitations, and civilities; and without any extraordinary qualities or attainments, are the univerfal favourites of both fexes, and certainly find a friend in every place. The darlings of the world will, indeed, be generally found fuch as excite neither jealousy nor fear; and are not confidered as candidates for any eminent degree of reputation, but content themselves with common accomplishments, and endeavour rather to folicit kindness than to raise esteem. Therefore in affemblies and places of refort it seldom fails to happen, that though at the entrance of fome particular perfon every face brightens with gladness, and every hand is extended in falutation, yet if you pursue him beyond the firft exchange of civilities, you will find him
of very small importance, and only welcome to the company, as one by whom all conceive themselves admired, and with whom any one is at liberty to amufe himself when he can find no other auditor or companion; as one with whom all are at ease, who will hear a jeft without criticism, and a narrative without contradiction; who laughs with every wit, and yields to every difputer.
THERE are many whofe vanity always inclines them to affociate with those from whom they have no reason to fear mortification; and there are times in which the wife and the knowing are willing to receive praife without the labour of deferving it, in which the most elevated mind is willing to defcend, and the most active to be at reft. All therefore are at fome hour or another fond of companions whom they can entertain upon eafy terms, and who will relieve them from folitude, without condemning them to vigilance and caution. We are moft inclined to love when we have nothing to fear; and he that encourages us to please ourselves, will not be long, without preference in our affection to those
whofe learning holds us at the distance of pupils, or whofe wit calls all attention from us, and leaves us without importance and without regard.
Ir is remarked by prince Henry, when he sees Falstaff lying on the ground, "that he could have better spared a better man." He was well acquainted with the vices and follies of him whom he lamented, but while his conviction compelled him to do juftice to fuperior qualities, his tendernefs ftill broke out at the remembrance of Falstaff, of the chearful companion, the loud buffoon, with whom he had paffed his time in all the luxury of idlenefs, who had gladdened him with unenvied merriment, and whom he could at once enjoy and defpife.
You may perhaps think this account of thofe who diftinguished for their good humour, not very confiftent with the praises which I have bestowed upon it. But furely nothing can more evidently fhew the value of this quality, than that it recommends thofe who are deftitute of all other excellencies, and procures regard to the trifling, friendship to the worthlefs, and affection to the dull.
· · po
Good humour is indeed generally degraded by the characters in which it is found for being confidered as a cheap and vulgar quality, we find it often neglected by those that having excellencies of higher reputation and brighter fplendor, perhaps imagine that they have some right to gratify themselves at the expence of others, and are to demand compliance, rather than to practise it. It is by fome unfortunate mistake that almost all those who have any claim to esteem or love, prefs their pretenfions with too little confideration of others. This mistake my own interest as well as my zeal for general happiness makes me defirous to rec tify; for I have a friend, who because he knows his own fidelity and usefulness, is never willing to fink into a companion. I have a wife whofe beauty firft fubdued me, and whofe wit confirmed her conqueft; but whofe beauty now ferves no other purpofe than to entitle her to tyranny, and whofe wit is only used to juftify perverfenefs.
* Col 03
SURELY nothing can be more unreasonable than to lofe wond the will to please, when we are confcious of the power, or fhew more cruelty than to chufe any kind of influence before that of kindness. He that regards the welfare of others, fhould make his virtue approachable, that it may be loved and copied, and he that confiders the wants which every man feels, or will feel of external affistance, muft rather with to be furrounded by thofe that love him, than by thofe that KSAAN MELOW 1979 588 CUAL case fiods MOR