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to acquaint her, who of quality was well or sick within the bills of mortality, and named very familiarly all his lady's acquaintance, not forgetting her very words when he spoke of their characters. Besides all this, he had a road of flattery; and upon her inquiring what sort of woman Lady Lovely was in her person, 'Really, madam,' says the Jackanapes, ‘she is exactly of your height and shape ; but, as you are fair, she is a brown woman.' There was no enduring that this fop should outshine us all at this unmerciful rate ; therefore I thought fit to talk to my young scholar concerning his studies; and, because I would throw his learning into present service, I desired him to repeat to me the translation he had made of some tender verses in Theocritus. He did so, with an air of elegance peculiar to the college to which I sent him. I made some exceptions to the turn of the phrases ; which he defended with much modesty, as believing in that place the matter was rather to consult the softness of a swain's passion, than the strength of his expressions. It soon appeared that Will had outstripped his brother in the opinion of our young lady. A little poetry to one who is bred a scholar, has the same effect that a good carriage of his person has on one who is to live in courts. The favour of women is so natural a passion, that I envied both the boys their success in the approbation of my guest; and I thought the only person invulnerable was my young trader. During the whole meal, I could observe in the children a mutual contempt and scorn of each other, arising from their different way of life and education, and took that occasion to advertise them of such growing distastes ; which might mislead them in their future
life, and disappoint their friends, as well as themselves, of the advantages which might be expected from the diversity of their professions and interests.
The prejudices which are growing up between these brothers from the different ways of education, are what create the most fatal misunderstandings in life. But all distinctions of disparagement, merely from our circumstances, are such as will not bear the examination of reason. The courtier, the trader, and the scholar, should all have an equal pretension to the denomination of a gentleman. That tradesman, who deals with me in a commodity which I do not understand, with uprightness, has much more right to that character, than the courtier that gives me false hopes, or the scholar who laughs at my ignorance.
The appellation of gentleman is never to be affixed to a man's circumstances, but to his behaviour in them. For this reason I shall ever, as far as I am able, give my nephews such impressions as shall make them value themselves rather as they are useful to others, than as they are conscious of merit in themselves. There are no qualities for which we ought to pretend to the esteem of others, but such as render us serviceable to them : for 'free men have no superiors but benefactors.'
[Tatler, No. 207.
Parents and Children
AMONG those inclinations which are common to all men, there is none more unaccountable than that unequal love by which parents distinguish their children from each other. Sometimes vanity and self-love appear to have a share towards this effect; and in other instances I have been apt to attribute it to mere instinct : but, however that is, we frequently see the child, that has been beholden to neither of these impulses in his parents, in spite of being neglected, snubbed, and thwarted at home, acquire a behaviour which makes him as agreeable to all the rest of the world, as that of every one else of their family is to each other. I fell into this way of thinking from an intimacy which I have with a very good house in our neighbourhood, where there are three daughters of a very different character and genius. The eldest has a great deal of wit and cunning ; the second has good sense, but no artifice; the third has much vivacity, but little understanding. The first is a fine, but scornful woman; the second is not charming, but very winning ; the third is no way commendable, but very desirable. The father of these young creatures was ever a great pretender to wit, the mother a woman of as much coquetry. This turn in the parents has biassed their affections towards their children. The
old man supposes the eldest of his own genius ; and the mother looks upon the youngest as herself renewed. By this means, all the lovers who approach the house are discarded by the father for not observing Mrs. Mary's wit and beauty ; and by the mother, for being blind to the mien and air of Mrs. Biddy. Come never so many pretenders, they are not suspected to have the least thought of Mrs. Betty, the middle daughter. Betty, therefore, is mortified into a woman of a great deal of merit, and knows she must depend on that for her advancement. The middlemost is thus the favourite of all her acquaintance, as well as mine ; while the other two carry a certain insolence about them in all conversations, and expect the partiality which they meet with at home to attend them whereever they appear. So little do parents understand that they are, of all people, the least judges of their children's merit, that what they reckon such is seldom anything else but a repetition of their own faults and infirmities.
There is, methinks, some excuse for being particular, when one of the offspring has any defect in nature. In this case, the child, if we may so speak, is so much longer the child of its parents, and calls for the continuance of their care and indulgence from the slowness of its capacity, or the weakness of its body. But there is no enduring to see men enamoured only at the sight of their own impertinencies repeated, and to observe, as we may sometimes, that they have a secret dislike of their children for a degeneracy
from their very crimes. Commend me to Lady Goodly ; she is equal to all her own children, but prefers them to those of all the world beside. My lady is a perfect
hen in the care of her brood ; she fights and squabbles with all that appear where they come, but is wholly unbiassed in dispensing her favours among them. It is no small pains she is at to defame all the young women in her neighbourhood, by visits, whispers, intimations, and hearsays; all which she ends with thanking heaven, 'that no one living is so blessed with such obedient and well-inclined children as herself. Perhaps,' she says, 'Betty cannot dance like Mrs. Frontinet, and it is no great matter whether she does or not; but she comes into a room with a good grace; though she says it that should not, she looks like a gentlewoman. Then, if Mrs. Rebecca is not so talkative as the mighty wit Mrs. Clapper, yet she is discreet, she knows better what she says when she does speak. If her wit be slow, her tongue never runs before it.' This kind parent lifts up her eyes and hands in congratulation of her own good fortune, and is maliciously thankful that none of her girls are like any of her neighbours ; but this preference of her own to all others is grounded upon an impulse of nature ; while those, who like one before another of their own, are so unpardonably unjust, that it could hardly be equalled in the children, though they preferred all the rest of the world to such parents. It is no unpleasant entertainment to see a ball at a dancing-school, and observe the joy of relations when the young ones, for whom they are concerned, are in motion. You need not be told whom the dancers belong to. At their first appearance, the passions of their parents are in their faces, and there is always a nod of approbation stolen at a good step or a graceful turn.
I remember, among all my acquaintance, but one