Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

familiar friends there needs but very little care in clothing them.

Urbanus is, I take it, a man one might live with whole years, and enjoy all the freedom and improvement imaginable, and yet be insensible of a contradiction to you in all the mistakes you can be guilty of. His great goodwill to his friends, has produced in him such a general deference in his discourse, that if he differs from you in his sense of anything, he introduces his own thoughts by some agreeable circumlocution ; or, ‘he has often observed such and such a circumstance that made him of another opinion. Again, where another would be apt to say, “This I am confident of, I may pretend to judge of this matter as well as anybody'; Urbanus says, “I am verily persuaded ; I believe one may conclude. In a word, there is no man more clear in his thoughts and expressions than he is, or speaks with greater diffidence. You shall hardly find one man of any consideration, but you shall observe one of less consequence form himself after him. This happens to Urbanus; but the man who steals from him almost every sentiment he utters in a whole week, disguises the theft by carrying it with a quite different air. Umbratilis knows Urbanus's doubtful way of speaking proceeds from good nature and good breeding, and not from uncertainty in his opinions. Umbratilis, therefore, has no more to do but repeat the thoughts of Urbanus in a positive manner, and appear to the undiscerning a wiser man than the person from whom he borrows : but those who know him, can see the servant in his master's habit; and the more he struts, the less do his clothes appear his own.

In conversation, the medium is neither to affect silence or eloquence; not to value our approbation, and to endeavour to excel us who are of your company, are equal injuries. The great enemies therefore to good company, and those who transgress most against the laws of equality, which is the life of it, are, the clown, the wit, and the pedant. A clown, when he has sense, is conscious of his want of education, and with an awkward bluntness, hopes to keep himself in countenance by overthrowing the use of all polite behaviour. He takes advantage of the restraint good breeding lays upon others not to offend him, to trespass against them, and is under the man's own shelter while he intrudes upon him. The fellows of this class are very frequent in the repetition of the words rough and manly. When these people happen to be by their fortunes of the rank of gentlemen, they defend their other absurdities by an impertinent courage; and, to help out the defect of their behaviour, add their being dangerous to their being disagreeable. This gentleman (though he displeases, professes to do so; and knowing that, dares still go on to do so) is not so painful a companion, as he who will please you against your will, and resolves to be a wit.

This man, upon all occasions, and whoever he falls in company with, talks in the same circle, and in the same round of chat which he has learned at one of the tables of this coffee-house. As poetry is in itself an elevation above ordinary and common sentiments; so there is no fop so very near a madman in indifferent company as a poetical one. He is not apprehensive that the generality of the world are intent upon the business of their own fortune and profession, and have

as little capacity as curiosity to enter into matters of ornament or speculation. I remember at a full table in the city, one of these ubiquitary wits was entertaining the company with a soliloquy, for so I call it when a man talks to those who do not understand him, concerning wit and humour. An honest gentleman who sat next to me, and was worth half a plum, stared at him, and observing there was some sense, as he thought, mixed with his impertinence, whispered me, ‘Take my word for it, this fellow is more knave than fool. This was all my good friend's applause of the wittiest man of talk that I was ever present at, which wanted nothing to make it excellent, but that there was no occasion for it.

The pedant is so obvious to ridicule, that it would be to be one to offer to explain him. He is a gentleman so well known, that there is none but those of his own class who do not laugh at and avoid him. Pedantry proceeds from much reading and little understanding. A pedant among men of learning and sense, is like an ignorant servant giving an account of a polite conversation. You may find he has brought with him more than could have entered into his head without being there, but still that he is not a bit wiser than if he had not been there at all.

[Tatler, No. 244.

Noble Independence

It is necessary to an easy and happy life, to possess our minds in such a manner as to be always well satisfied with our own reflections. The way to this state is to measure our actions by our own opinion, and not by that of the rest of the world. The sense of other men ought to prevail over us in things of less consideration, but not in concerns where truth and honour are engaged. When we look into the bottom of things, what at first appears a paradox is a plain truth ; and those professions, which, for want of being duly weighed, seem to proceed from a sort of romantic philosophy, and ignorance of the world, after a little reflection, are so reasonable, that it is direct madness to walk by any other rules. Thus to contradict our desires, and to conquer the impulses of our ambition, if they do not fall in with what we in our inward sentiments approve, is so much our interest, and so absolutely necessary to our real happiness, that to contemn all the wealth and power in the world, where they stand in competition with a man's honour, is rather good sense than greatness of mind. Did we consider that the mind of a man is the man

himself, we should think it the most unnatural sort of self-murder to sacrifice the sentiment of the soul to gratify the appetites of the body. Bless us! is it possible, that when the necessities of life are supplied, a man would flatter to be rich, or circumvent to be powerful! When we meet a poor wretch, urged with hunger and cold, asking an alms, we are apt to think this a state we could rather starve than submit to : but yet how much more despicable is his condition, who is above necessity, and yet shall resign his reason and his integrity to purchase superfluities ! Both these are abject and common beggars; but sure it is less despicable to beg a supply to a man's hunger than his vanity. But custom and general prepossessions have so far prevailed over an unthinking world, that those necessitous creatures, who cannot relish life without applause, attendance, and equipage, are so far from making a contemptible figure, that distressed virtue is less esteemed than successful vice. But if a man's appeal, in cases that regard his honour, were made to his own soul, there would be a basis and standing rule for our conduct, and we should always endeavour rather than appear

honourable. Mr. Collier in his Essay on Fortitude, has treated this subject with great wit and magnanimity. “What, says he, 'can be more honourable than to have courage enough to execute the commands of reason and conscience; to maintain the dignity of our nature, and the station assigned us ? to be proof against poverty, pain, and death itself? I mean so far as not to do anything that is scandalous or sinful to avoid them. To stand adversity under all shapes with decency and resolution ;-to do this, is to be great above title and fortune. This argues the

to be,

« AnteriorContinuar »