« AnteriorContinuar »
laughter. But though these men may be for a time heard with applause and admiration, they feldom delight us long, We enjoy them a little, and then retire to casiness and good humour, as the eye gazes awhile on eminences glittering with the sun, but foon turns aching away to verdure and to fowers.
GALETY is to good humour as animal perfumes to vegetable fragrance ; the one overpowers weak spirits, and the other recreates and revives them. Gaiety feldom fails to give some pain ; the hearers either ftrain their faculties to accompany its towerings, or are left behind in envy and despair. Good humour boasts no faculties which every one does not believe in his power, and pleases principally by nog offending
It is well known, that the most certain way to give any man pleasure, is to persuade him that you receive pleasure from him, to encourage him to freedom and confidence, and to avoid any such appearance of superiority as may overbear and depress him. We fee many that by this art only, spend their days in the midst of caresses, invitations, and civilities ; and without any extraordinary qualities or attainments, are the universal favourites of both sexes, and certainly find a friend in every place. The darlings of the world will, indeed, be generally found such as excite neither jealousy nor fear; and are not considered as candidates for
eminent degree of reputation, but content themselves with common accomplishments, and endeavour rather to solicit kindness than to raise esteem. Therefore in assemblies and places of resort it feldom fails to happen, that though at the entrance of fome particular person every face brightens with gladness, and every hand is extended in falutation, yet if you pursue him beyond the firft exchange of civilities, you will find him
of very small importance, and only welcome to the company, as one by whom all conceive themselves admired, and with whom any one is at liberty to amuse himself when he can find no other auditor or companion; as one with whom all are at ease, who will hear a jest without criticism, and a nara rative without contradiction ; who laughs with every wit, and yields to every disputer,
THERE are many whose vanity always inclines them to associate with those from whom they have no reason to fear mortification ; and there are times in which the wife and the knowing are willing to receive praise without the labour of deserving it, in which the most elevated mind is willing to descend, and the most active to be at rest. All therefore are at some hour or another fond of companions who they can
entertain upon easy terms, and who will relieve them from folitude, without condemning them to vigilance and caution. We are most inclined to love when we have nothing to fear; and he that encourages us to please ourselves, will not be long without preference in our affection to those whose lçarning holds us at the distance of pupils, or whose wit calls all attention from us, and leave us without importance and without regard.
Ir is remarked by prince Henry, when he fees Falstaff lying on the ground, “ that he could have better spared a betier man." He was well acquainted with the vices and follies of him whom he lamented, but while his conviction compelled him to justice to superior qualities, his tenderness ftill broke out at the remembrance of Falstaff, of the chearful companion, the loud buffoon, with whom he had passed his time in all the luxury of idleness, who had gladdened him with unenvied merriment, and whom he could at once enjoy and despise,
You may perhaps think this account of those who are diftinguished for their good humour, not very consistent with the praises which I have bestowed upon it. But surely nothing can more evidently shed the value of this quality, than that it recommends those who are deftitute of all other excellencies, and procures regard to the trifling, friendship to the worthless, and affection to the dull.
Good humour is indeed generally degraded by the characters in which it is found ; for being considered as a cheap and vulgar quality, we find it often neglected by those that having excellencies of higher reputation and brighter fplendor, perhaps imagine that they have some right to gratify themselves at the expence of others, and are to demand compliance, rather than to practise it. It is by fome unfortunate mistake that almost all those who have
claim to esteem or love, press their pretensions with too little confideration of others. This mistake my own interest as well as my zeal for general happiness makes me defirous to rectify ; for I have a friend, who because he knows his own fidelity and usefulness, is never willing to sink into a companion. I have a wife whose bcauty first fubdued me, and whose wit confirmed her conquest ; but whose beauty now serves no other purpose than to entitle her to tyranny, and whose wit is only used to justify perverseness.
Surely nothing can be more unreasonable than to lose the will to please, when we are conscious of the
power, or Thew more cruelty than to chuse any kind of influence before that of kindness. He that regards the welfare of others, should make his virtue approachable, that it may be loved and copied : and he that considers the wants which every man feels, or will feel, of external assistance, must rather with to be surrounded by those that love him, than by those that
admire his excellencies, or solicit his favours; for admiration ceases with novelty, and interest gains its end and retires. A man whose great qualities want the ornament of fuperficial attractions,' is like a naked mountain with mines of gold, which will be frequented only till the treasure is exhausted,
OTHING has so much exposed men of learning to
contempt and ridicule, as their ignorance of things which are known to all but themselves. Those who have been taught to consider the institutions of the schools, as giving the last perfection to human abilities, are surprised to see men wiinkled with study, yet wanting to be instructed in the minute circumstances of propriety, or the necessary forms of daily transaction ; and quickly shake off their reverence for modes of education, which they find to produce no ability above the rest of mankind.
Books, says Bacon, can never teach the use of books. The student must learn by commerce with mankind to reduce his fpeculations to practice, and accommodate his knowledge to the purposes of life.
It is too common for those who have been bred to schon lastic professions, and passed much of their time in academies, where nothing but learning confers honours, to disregard every other qualification, and to imagine that they shall find mankind ready to pay homage to their knowledge, and to crowd about them for instruction. They therefore step out from their cells into the open world, with all the confidence
of authorityand dignity ofimportance; they look round about them at once with ignorance and scorn on a race of beings to whom they are equally unknown and equally contemptible, but whose manners they must imitate, and with whofe opinions they must comply, if they desire to pass their time happily
To lessen that disdain with which scholars are inclined to look on the common businefs of the world, and the unwil. lingness with which they condescend to learn what is not to be found in any fyftem of philosophy, it may be necefiary to confider, that though admiration is excited by abftrufe researches and remote discoveries, yet pleasure is not given nor affection conciliated, but by fofter accomplishments, and qualities more easily communicable to those about us. He that can only converse upon questions, about which only a small part of mankind has knowledge fufficient to make them curious, must lose his days in unsocial silence, and live in the crowd of life without a companion. He that can only be useful in great occasions, may die without exerting his abilities, and stand a hepless spectator of a thousand vexations which fret away happiness, and which nothing is required to remove but a little dexterity of conduct and readiness of expedients.
No degree of knowledge attainable by man is able to set him above the want of hourly assiflance, or to extinguish the defire of fond endearments, and tender officiousness ; and therefore no one should think it unnecessary to learn those arts by which friendship may be gained. Kindness is preferved by a constant reciprocation of benefits or interchange of pleasures ; but such benefits only can be bestowed as others are capable of receiving, and such pleasures only imparted, as others are qualified to enjoy.