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notice of such a dull rogue as you are ?” Mr. William goes on : “He is the most stupid of all my mother's children-he knows nothing of his book; when he should mind that, he is hiding or hoarding his taws and marbles, or laying up farthings. His way of thinking is, four and twenty farthings make fixpence, and two sixpences a shilling, two shillings and fixpence half a crown, and two half crowns five shillings. So within these two months the close hunks has scraped up twenty shillings, and we'll make him spend it all before he comes home.” Jack immediately claps his hands into both pockets and turns as pale as afhes. There is nothing touches a parent (and such I am to Jack) fo nearly as a provident conduct. This lad has in him the true temper for a good husband, a kind father, and an honest executor. All the great people you fee make confiderable figures on the 'Change, in court, and sometimes in fenates, are such as in reality have no greater faculty than what may be called human instinct, which is a natural tendency to their own preservation and that of their friends, without being capable of Itriking out of the road for adventures. There's Sir William Scrip was of this sort of capacity from his childhood; he has bought the country round him, and makes a bargain better than Sir Harry Wildfire, with all his wit and humour. Harry never wants money but he comes to Scrip, laughs at him half an hour, and then gives bond for t’other thousand. The close men are incapable of placing merit anywhere but in their pence, and therefore gain it; while others, who have larger capacities, are diverted from the pursuit by enjoyments which can be supported only by that cash which they despise, and therefore are in the end slaves to their inferiors both in fortune and understanding. I once heard a man of excellent sense observe that more affairs in the world failed by being in the hands of men of too large capacities for their business than by being in the conduct of such as wanted abilities to execute them. Jack, therefore, being of a plodding make, shall be a citizen; and I design him to be the refuge of the family in their distress, as well as their jest in prosperity. His brother Will, shall go to Oxford with all speed, where, if he does not arrive at being a man of sense, he will soon be informed
wherein he is a coxcomb. There is in that place such a true spirit of raillery and humour, that if they can't make you a wise man, they will certainly let you know you are a fool, which is all my cousin wants to cease to be so. Thus having taken these two out of the way, I have leisure to look at my third lad. I observe in the young rogue a natural subtlety of mind, which discovers itself rather in forbearing to declare his thoughts on any occasion than in any visible way of exerting himself in discourse; for which reason I will place him where, if he commits no faults, he may go farther than those in other stations, though they excel in virtues. The boy is well fashioned, and will easily fall into a graceful manner, wherefore I have a design to make him a page to a great lady of my acquaintance, by which means he will be well skilled in the common modes of life, and make a greater progress in the world by that knowledge than with the greatest qualities without it.
A good mieri in a court will carry a man greater lengths than a good understanding in any other place. We see a world of pains taken, and the best years of life spent in collecting a set of thoughts in a college for the conduct of life, and after all the man so qualified shall hesitate in his speech to a good suit of clothes, and want common sense before an agreeable woman. Hence it is that wisdom, valour, justice, and learning can't keep a man in countenance that is possessed with these excellencies, if he wants that inferior art of life and behaviour called good breeding. A man endowed with great perfections without this, is like one who has his pockets full of gold but always wants change for his ordinary occasions.
Will, Courtly is a living instance of this truth, and has had the same education which I am giving my nephew. He never spoke a thing but what was said before, and yet can converse with the wittiest men without being ridiculous. Among the learned he does not appeår ignorant; nor with the wise, indifcreet. Living in conversation from his infancy, makes him no where at a loss; and a long familiarity with the persons of men, is in a manner of the same service to him as if he knew their arts.
As ceremony is the invention of wise men to keep fools at a distance, so good breeding is an expedient to make fools and wise men equals.
AVING yesterday morning received a paper of
Latin verses, written with very much elegance in honour of these my papers, and being informed at the same time that they were composed by a
youth under age, I read them with much delight, as an instance of his improvement. There is not a greater pleasure to old age than seeing young people entertain themselves in such a manner, as that we can partake of their enjoyments. On such occasions, we flatter ourselves that we are not quite laid aside in the world, but that we are either used with gratitude for what we were, or honoured for what we are. A well-inclined young man, and whose good breeding is founded upon the principles of nature and virtue, must needs take delight in being agreeable to his elders, as we are truly delighted when we are not the jest of them. When I say this, I must confess I cannot but think it a very lamentable thing that there should be a necessity for making that a rule of life, which should be, methinks, a mere instinct of nature. If reflection upon a man in poverty, whom we once knew in riches, is an argument of commiseration with generous minds, sure old age, which is a decay from that vigour which the young possess, and must certainly (if not prevented against their will) arrive at, should be more forcibly the object of that reverence which honest spirits are inclined to from a sense of being themselves liable to what they observe has already overtaken others.
My three nephews, whom in June last was twelvemonth, I disposed of according to their several capacities and inclinations ; the first to the university, the second to a merchant, and the third to a woman of quality as her page, by my invitation dined with me to-day. It is my custom often, when I have a mind to give myself a more than ordinary cheerfulness, to invite a certain young gentlewoman of our neighbourhood to make one of the company. She did me that favour this day. The presence of a beautiful woman of honour, to minds which are not trivially disposed, displays an alacrity which is not to be communicated by any other object. It was not unpleasant to me to look into her thoughts of the company she was in. She smiled at the party of pleasure I had thought of for her, which was composed of an old man and three boys. My scholar, my citizen, and myself, were very soon neglected; and the young courtier, by the bow he made to her at her entrance, engaged her observation without a rival. I observed the Oxonian not a little discomposed at this preference, while the trader kept his eye upon his uncle. My nephew Will. had a thousand secret resolutions to break in upon the discourse of his younger brother, who gave my fair companion a full account of the fashion, and what was reckoned most becoming to this complexion, and what sort of habit appeared best upon the other shape. He proceeded to acquaint her who of quality was well or fick within the bills of mortality, and named very familiarly all his lady's acquaintance, not forgetting her very words when he spoke of their characters. Besides all this, he had a road of flattery; and upon her inquiring what sort of woman Lady Lovely was in her person, “Really, madam,” says the jackanapes, “ she is exactly of your height and shape; but as you are fair, she is a brown woman." There was no enduring that this fop should outshine us all at this unmerciful rate, therefore I thought fit to talk to my young scholar concerning his studies; and because I would throw his learning into present service, I desired him to repeat to me the translation he had made of some tender verses in Theocritus. He did so, with an air of elegance peculiar to the college to which I sent him. I made some exceptions to the turn of the phrases, which he defended with much modesty, as believing in that place the matter was rather to consult the softness of a swain's passion, than the strength of his expressions. It soon appeared that Will. had outstripped his brother in the opinion of our young lady. A little poetry to one who is bred a scholar, has the same effect that a good carriage of his perfon has on one who is to live in courts. The favour of women is fo natural a passion, that I envied both the boys their fuccess in the approbation of my guest; and I thought the only person invulnerable was my young trader. During the whole meal, I could observe in the children a mutual contempt and scorn of each other, arising from their different way of life and education, and took that occasion to advertise them of fuch growing distastes, which might mislead them in their future life, and disappoint their friends, as well as themselves, of the advantages which might be expected from the diversity of their professions and interests.
The prejudices which are growing up between these brothers from the different ways of education, are what create the most fatal misunderstandings in life. But all distinctions of disparagement merely from our circumstances, are such as will not bear the examination of reason. The courtier, the trader, and the scholar, should all have an equal pretension to the denomination of a gentleman. That tradesman who deals with me in a commodity which I do not understand, with uprightness, has much more right to that character, than the courtier that gives me false hopes, or the scholar who laughs at my ignorance.
The appellation of gentleman is never to be affixed to a man's circumstances, but to his behaviour in them. For this reason I shall ever, as far as I am able, give my nephews such imprefsions as shall make them value themselves rather as they are useful to others, than as they are conscious of merit in themselves. There are no qualities from which we ought to pretend to the esteem of others, but such as render us serviceable to them. For free men have no superiors but benefactors ....