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HEEDLESS PROMISERS CENSURED.
Fædius hoc uliquid quundoque audebis.
JUV. In time to greater baseness you'll proceed.
THE first steps towards ill are very carefully to be
avoided, for men insensibly go on when they are once entered, and do not keep up a lively abhorrence of the least unworthiness. There is a certain frivolous falsehood that people indulge themselves in, which ought to be had in greater detestation than it commonly meets with: what I mean is a neglect of promises made on small and indifferent occasions, such as parties of pleasure, entertainments, and sometimes meetings out of curiosity in men of like faculties to be in each other's company. There are many causes to wbich one may assign this light infidelity. Jack Sippel never keeps the hour he has appointed to come to a friend's to dinner, but he is an insignificant fellow who does it out of vanity. He could never, he knows, make any figure in company, but by giving a little disturbance at his entry, and therefore takes care to drop in when he thinks you are just seated. He takes his place after having discomposed every body, and desires there may be vo cereinony; then does he begin to call himself the saddest fellow, in disappointing so many places as lie was invited to elsewhere. It is the fop's vanity to name houses of better cheer, and to acquaint you that he chose yours out of ten dinners, which he was obliged to be at that day. The last time I had the fortune to eat with him, he was imagining how very fat he should have been had he eaten all he had ever been invited to. But it is impertinent to dwell upon the manners of such a wretch as obliges all whom he disappoints, though his circumstances sonstrain them to be civil to him. But there are those
that every one would be glad to see, who fall into the same delestable habit. It is a merciless thing, that any one can be at ease, and suppose a set of people who have a kindness for him, at that moment waiting out of respect to him, and refusing to taste their foud or conversation with tbe utmost impatience. One of these promisers sometimes shall make his excuses for not coming at all, so late that half the company have only to lament, that they have neglected matters of moment to meet him whom they find a trifler. They immediately repent of the value they had for him; and snch treatment repeated, makes company never depend upon his promise any more; so that he often comes at the middle of a meal, where he is secretly slighted by the persons with whom he eats, and cursed by the servants, whose dinner is delayed by his prolonging their inaster's entertainment. It is wonderful, that men guilty this way could never have observed, that the wbiling time, the gathering together, and waiting a little before dinner, is the most awkwardly passed away of any part in the four-and-twenty hours. If they did think at all, they would reflect upon their guilt, in lengthening such a suspension of agreeable life. The constant offending this way has, in a degree, an effect upon the honesty of his mind who is guilty of it, as common swearing is a kind of habitual perjury: it makes the soul unattentive to what an oath is, even while it utters it at the lips. Phocion behold. ing a wordy orator while he was making a magnifi. cent speech to the people full of vain promises, “ Me. thinks,” said he, “ I am now fixing my eyes upon a cypress tree; it has all the pomp and beauty imagin. able in its branches, leaves, and height, but, alas! it bears no fruit.”
Though the expectation which is raised by imperti. nent promisers is thus barren, their confidence, even after failures, is so great, that they subsist by still promising on. Indeed I cannot let beedless promisers,
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. 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.”—“Yon were telling of !” says Jack; “ I wish I had been so happy as to have come in and heard yon, for I have not words to say what she is; but if an agreeable height, a modest air, a virgin shame, an impatience of being beheld, amidst a blaze of ten thousand cbarnis"--The whole room flew out, “Oh, Mr. Triplett!" When Miss 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 heheld. Then turning to the lady next to her, “ The most unbred creature you ever saw.” Another pursued the discourse: “ As unbred, madam, as yon may think ber, 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 kuows 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 fea. ture to another, till he was forced to resign the whole woman. 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 com. mend a certain gentleman of my acquaintance for a person of singular modesty, courage, integrity, and withal as a mau of an entertaining conversation, to which advantages he had a shape and manper peculiarly graceful. Mr. Triplett, who is a woman's nuan, seemed to hear me with patience enough commend the qualities of his mind: he never heard indeed but that he was a very honest man, and no foul; but for a fine gentleman, he must ask pardon. Upon po other foundation than this, Mr. Triplett took occasion to give the gentleman's pedigree, by what methods some part of the estate was acquired, how much it was beholden to a marriage for the present circumstances of it: after all, he could see nothing but a common man in his person, his breeding, or understanding.
Thus this impertinent humour of diminishing every one who is produced in conversation to their advantage, runs through the world; and I am, I confess, so fearful of the force of ill tongues, that I have begged of all those who are my well-wishers never to commend me, for it will but bring my frailties into examination, and I had rather be anobserved, than conspicuous for disputed perfections. I am confident a thousand young people, who would have been orna. ments to society, have, from fear of scandal, never dared to exert themselves in the polite arts of life. Their lives have passed away in an odious rusticity, in spite of great advantages of person, genius, and fortune. There is a vicions terror of being blamed in some well inclined people, and a wicked pleasure in suppressing them in others; both which are to be ani. madverted upon.
Non ut placidis coeant immitia, non ut
Nature, and the common laws of sense,
I ordinary authors would condescend to write as
they think, they would at least be allowed the praise of being intelligible, but they really take pains to be ridiculous; and by the studied ornaments of style, perfectly disguise the little sense they aim at. There is a grievance of that sort in the commonwealth of let. ters, which I have for some time resolved to redress, and accordingly I have set this day apart for justice. What I mean is the mixture of inconsistent metaphors, which is a fault but too often found in learned writers, but in all the unlearned without exception.
In order to set this matter in a clear light to every reader, I shall in the first place observe, that a metaphor is a simile in one word, which serves to convey the thoughts of the mind under resemblances and images which affect the senses. There is not any thing in the world, which may not be compared to several things, if considered in several distinct lights; or, in other words, the same thing may be expressed by dif. ferent metaphors. But the mischief is, that an unskil. ful autbur shall ruu their metaphors so absurdly into one another, that there shall be no simile, no agreeable picture, no apt resemblance, but confusion, obscurity, and noise. Thus I bave known a hero compared to a thunderbolt, a lion, and the sea; all and each of them proper metaphors for impetuosity, courage, or force. But by bad management it hath so happened, that the thunderbolt bath overflowed its banks; the lion halb