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a great school, and having all the boys below him, his arrogance is insupportable. If I begin to show a little of my Latin, he immediately interrupts : ‘Uncle, under favour, that which you say, is not understood in that manner. 'Brother,' says my boy Jack, “you do not show your manners much in contradicting my Uncle Isaac !' 'You queer cur,' says Mr. William, 'do you think my uncle takes any 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 sixpence, and two sixpences a shilling; two shillings and sixpence half a crown, and two halfcrowns five shillings. So within these two months the close hunks has scraped up twenty shillings, and we will make him spend it all before he comes home.' Jack immediately claps his hands into both pockets, and turns as pale as ashes. There is nothing touches a parent (and such I am to Jack) so 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 see make considerable figures on the exchange, in court, and sometimes in senates, 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 striking out the road for adventurers. There is 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
MR. BICKERSTAFF HAS A DAY WITH HIS NEPHEWS 67
all his wit and humour. Sir Harry never wants money but he comes to Scrip, laughs at him half an hour, and then gives bond for the 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 cannot 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 mien 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 qualified shall hesitate in a speech to a good suit of clothes, and want common sense before an agreeable
Hence it is, that wisdom, valour, justice, and learning, cannot 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 appear ignorant ; nor with the wise, indiscreet. Living in conversation from his infancy, makes him nowhere 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.
[Tatler, No. 30.
Mr. Bickerstaff gives a Dinner to his
HAVING 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 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