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equal justice, pretend to have a share ; and, as it is usual with sharers, will never think they have enough, while any pretender is left unprovided. I shall not except the quakers; because, when the passage is once let open for sects to partake in publick emoluments, it is very probable the lawfulness of taking oaths, and wearing carnal weapons, may be revealed to the brotherhood : which thought, I confess, was first put into head by one of the shrewdest quakers in this kingdom *.
* The quaker hinted at by Dr. Swift was Mr. George Rooke, a linen-draper, a man who had a very good taste for wit, had read abundance of history, and was, perhaps, one of the most learned quakers in the world. He was author of an humourous pastoral in the quaker style. In a letter to Mr. Pope, Aug. 30, 1716, Dr. Swift says, “ There is a young ingenious quaker in - this town who writes verses to his mistress, not very correct, “ but in a strain purely what a poetical quaker should do, com“ mending her look and habit, &c. It gave me a hint, that a “ set of quaker pastorals might succeed, if our friend Gay would
fancy it; and I think it a fruitful subject : pray hear what " he says.” This hint produced from Mr. Gay, “The Espousal, “ a sober eclogue, between two of the people called quakers," in which their peculiarity is well delineated.
GOOD MANNERS AND GOOD BREEDING*.
GOOD Manners is the art of making those people easy with whom we converse.
Whoever makes the fewest persons uneasy is the best bred in the company.
As the best law is founded upon reason, so are the best manners.
And as some lawyers have introduced unreasonable things into common law, so likewise many teachers have introduced absurd things into common good manners.
One principal point of this art is, to suit our behaviour to the three several degrees of men ; our superiours, our equals, and those below us.
For instance, to press either of the two former to eat or drink, is a breach of manners; but a tradesman or a farmer must be thus treated, or else it will be difficult to persuade them that they are welcome.
* Which lord Chesterfield thus defines, respect
of much good sense, some good nature, and a little self-denial for the
sake of others, and with a view to obtain the same indulgence 66 from them.” See Letter clxviii, the whole of which is professedly on this subject.
Pride, ill nature, and want of sense, are the three great sources of ill manners; without some one of these defects, no man will behave himself ill for want of experience, or of what, in the language of fools, is called knowing the world.
I defy any one to assign an incident wherein reason will not direct us what to say or do in company, if we are not misled by pride or ill nature.
Therefore I insist that good sense is the principal foundation of good manners ; but, because the former is a gift which very few among mankind are possessed of, therefore all the civilized nations of the world have agreed upon fixing some rules upon common behaviour, best suited to their general customs or fancies, as a kind of artificial good sense, to supply the defects of reason. Without which the gentlemanly part of dunces would be perpetually at cuffs, as they seldom fail when they happen to be drunk, or engaged in squabbles about women or play. And, God be thanked, there hardly happens a duel in a year, which may not be imputed to one of these three motives. Upon which account, I should be exceedingly sorry to find the legislature make any new laws against the practice of duelling; because the methods are easy, and many, for a wise man to avoid a quarrel with honour, or engage in it with innocence. And I can discover no political evil in suffering bullies, sharpers, and rakes, to rid the world of each other by a method of their own, where the law has not been able to find an expedient.
As the common forms of good manners were intended for regulating the conduct of those who have weak understandings; so they have been corrupted by the persons for whose use they were contrived. For these people have fallen into a needless and endless way of multiplying ceremonies, which have been extremely troublesome to those who practise them, and insupportable to every body else: insomuch that wise men are often more uneasy at the overcivility of these refiners, than they could possibly be in the conversation of peasants or mechanicks.
The impertinencies of this ceremonial behaviour are no where better seen than at those tables where the ladies preside, who value themselves upon account of their good breeding; where a man must reckon upon passing an hour without doing any one thing he has a mind to; unless he will be so hardy as to break through all the settled decorum of the family. She determines what he loves best, and how much he shall eat; and if the master of the house happens to be of the same disposition, he proceeds, in the same tyrannical manner, to prescribe in the drinking part: at the same time you are under the necessity of answering a a thousand apologies for your entertainment. And although a good deal of this humour is pretty well worn off among many people of the best fashion, yet too much of it still remains, especially in the country; where an honest gentleman assured me, that having been kept four days against his will at a friend's house, with all the circumstances of hiding his boots, locking up the stable, and other contrivances of the like nature, he could not remember, from the moment he came into the house to the moment he left it, any one thing, wherein his inclination was not directly contradicted; as if the whole family had entered inio a combination to torment him.
But, beside all this, it would be endless to recount the many foolish and ridiculous accidents I have ob
served among these unfortunate proselytes to ceremony. I have seen a duchess fairly knocked down, by the precipitancy of an officious coxcomb running to save her the trouble of opening a door. I remember upon a birthday at court, a great lady was rendered utterly disconsolate by a dish of sauce let fall by a page directly upon her headdress and brocade, while she gave a sudden turn to her elbow upon some point of ceremony with the person who sat next to her. Monsieur Buys, the Dutch envoy, whose politicks and manners were much of a size, brought a son with him, about thirteen years old, to a great table at court. The boy and his father, whatever they put on their plates, they first offered round in order, to every person in company; so that we could not get a minute's quiet during the whole dinner. At last their two plates happened to encounter, and with so much violence, that, being china, they broke in twenty pieces; and stained half the company with wet sweetmeats and
There is a pedantry in manners, as in all arts and sciences; and sometimes in trades. Pedantry is properly the overrating of any kind of knowledge we pretend to.
And if that kind of knowledge be a trifle in itself, che pedantry is the greater. For which reason I look upon fiddlers, dancing-masters, heralds, masters of the ceremony, &c. to be greater pedants than Lipsius, or the elder Scaliger. With this kind of pedants, the court, while I knew it, was always plentifully stocked; I mean from the gentleman usher (at least) inclusive, downward to the gentleman porter: who are, generally speaking, the most insignificant race of people that this island can afford, and with the smallest tincture of good manners; which is the only