תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

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 conciousness, 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, not without some indignation. It creeps into the heart of the wise nian 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 nothbut his own favours; 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 department, which will naturally be winning, and attractive if we think not of them, but lose their force in proportion to our endeavours 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 perfection robs us of what is due to us for great virtue 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 different 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 froin 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 havoc affectation makes in that part of the world which should be most polite, is visible whenever we turn our nyes; 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 arises from the law itself. I have seen it make a man run from the purpose before a judge, who was when 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 wlio 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 own 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, overrun with the fault I am now speaking of.

DEAR SIR,
SPENT some time with you the other day, and must take

a

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 who hopes for it must be able to suspend the possession of it till proper pein riods of life, or death itself. If you would not rather be commended than be praise-worthy, 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, SIR, your humble servant.

SPECTATOR. Vol. I. No. 38. 19. ATURE does nothing in vain; the Creator of the unie

verse 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.

žo. In like manner it is in the dispositions of society: the civil economy is formed in a chain as well as the natural: and in either case the breach of but 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 encouragements; for as she never promises what she is notable 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 covetuous 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 has 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 unaccouniable fondness for the character of a fine 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 downright coxcomb, and will remain to all that know 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 man's 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 who 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 sal. Lad; but how weak, how tasteless, and insipid? Just as insipid as the poetry of Valerio.

26. Valerio had an universal character, was genteel, had learsing, thought justly, spoke correctly; it was believed there was nothing in which Valerio did not excel; and it was so far true, that there was but one; Valerio had no genius for poetry, yet he was resolved to be a poet; he writes verses, and takes great pains to convince the town, that Valerio is not that extraordinary pera son 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 Crezar 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 ingenious 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 so absolutely necessary to the formation of any moral or intellectual existance, 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 who will write verses in spite of nature, with that gardner who should undertake to raise a junquil or tulip, without the help of their respective seeds.

30. As there is no good or bad qualities that does not effect 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 Calia and Iras; Cælia 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 Cælia would be silent, her beholders would adore her; if Iras. would talk, her hearers would admire her; but Cælia's tongue runs incessantly, while Iras gives herself silent airs and soft languors: so that it is difficult to persuade one's self that Colia 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 Cælia, and Cælia 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 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 taken up an affectation to white and red, and is now distinguished by the character of the lady who paints so well.

34. In a word, could the world be reformed to the obedience of that same 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 spheres ás 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 Providenee, 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.
MAN advanced in years who thinks fit to look back

1.

A Nia ,

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, wiil have robbed him of a great share of that space we ordinarily call

our life.

2. It is therefore the duty of every man who would be true to. himself, to obtain, if possible, a disposition to be pleased, and place himself in a constant aptitude for the satisfactions 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 those 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 com pany than a sick man should come into the air.

4. If a man is too weak to bear what is 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, should entertain those with whom they converse, by giving them the history of their pains, and aches: and imag

« הקודםהמשך »