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186 DEFINITION OF A FINE GENTLEMAN. makes his character the pleasanter is, that he is a professed deluder of women; and because the empty coxcomb bas no regard to any thing that is of itself sacred and inviolable, I have heard an unnarried lady of fortune say, It is pity so fine a gentleman as Vocifer is so great an atheist. The crowds of such inconsiderable creatures, that infest all places of assembling, every reader will have in his eye from his own obser. vation; but would it not be worth considering what sort of figure a man who formed himself upon those principles among us, which are agreeable to the diotates of honour and religion, would make in the familiar and ordinary occurrences of life?
I hardly have observed any one fill his several duties of life better than Ignotus. All the under parts of his behaviour, and such as are exposed to common observation, have their rise in him from great and noble motives. A firm and unshaken expectation of another life makes him become this; humanity avd good. nature, fortified by the sense of virtue, has the same effect upon him, as the neglect of all goodness has upon many others. Being firmly established in all matters of importance, that certain inattention which makes men's actions look easy, appears in bim with greater beauty: by a thorough contempt of little excellencies, he is perfectly master of them. This temper of mind leaves him under no necessity of studying his air, and he has this peculiar distinction, that his negligence is anaffected.
He that can work himself into a pleasure in consi. dering this being as an uncertain one, and think to reap an advantage by its discontinuance, is in a fair way of doing all things with a graceful unconcern, and a gentleman-like ease. Such a one does not behold his life as a short, transient, perplexing state, piade up of trifling pleasares and great anxieties : but sees it in quite another light ; his griefs are momentary, and his joys immortal. Reflection upon death is not a gloomy and sad thought of resigning every thing that be delights ix,
but it is a short night followed by an endless day. What I would here contend for is, that the more virtuous the man is, the nearer he will natnrally be to the character of genteel and agreeable. A man whose for. tune is plentiful, shows an ease in his countenance, and confideuce in his behaviour, which he that is under wants and difficulties cannot assume. It is thus with the state of the mind; he that governs his thoughts with the everlasting rules of reason and sense, mnst have something so inexpressibly graceful in his words and actions, that every circumstance must become him. The change of persons or things around him do not at all alter his situation, but he looks disinterested in the occurrences with which of ers are distracted, because the greatest purpose of his life is to maiutain an indifference both to it and all its enjoyments. In a word, to be a Fine Gentleman, is to be a generous and a brave man. What can make a man so much in constant good humour, and shine, as we call it, thap to be supported by what can never fail him, and to believe that whatever happens to him was the best thing that could possibly befal him, or else he on whom it depends, would not have permitted it to have befallen him at all!
THE ENGLISH TONGUE.
Est brevitate opus, ut currat sententia
HOR. Express your sentiments with brevity.
I HAVE somewhere read of an eminent person, who
nsed in his private offices of devotion to give thanks to Heaven that he was born a Frenchman: for my own part, I look upon it as a peculiar blessing that I was born an Evglishman. Among many other reasons, I think myself very happy in my country, as the language of it is wonderfully adapted to a man who is sparing of his words, and an enemy to loquacity.
As I have frequently reflected on my good fortune in this particular, I shall communicate to the public my speculations upon the English tongue, not doubting but they will be acceptable to all my curious readers.
The English delight in silence more than any other European nation, if the remarks which are made on us by foreigners are true. Our discourse is not kept up in conversation, but falls into more pauses and intervals than in our neighbouring countries; as it is observed, that the matter of our writings is thrown mach closer together, and lies in a narrower compass than is usual in the works of foreign authors: for, to favour our natural taciturnity, when we are obliged to utter our thoughts, we do it in the shortest way we are able, and give as quick a birth to our conceptions as possible.
This humour shows itself in several remarks that we may make upon the English language. As first of all by its abounding in monosyllables, which gives us an opportunity of delivering onr thoughts in few sounds. This indeed takes off from the elegance of our tongue, but at the same time expresses our ideas in the readiest inanner, and consequently answers the first design of speech better than the multitude of syllables, which make the words of other languages more tunable and sonorous. The sounds of our English words are commonly like those of string music, short and transient, which rise and perish pou a single touch; those of other languages are like the notes of wind instruments, sweet and swelling, and lengthened out into variety of modulation.
In the next place we inay observe, that where the words are not monosyllables, we often make them so, as much as lies in our power, by our rapidity of pronunciation; as it generally happens in most of our long
words which are derived from the Latin, where we contract the length of the syllables that gives them a grave and solemn air in their own language, to make them more proper for dispatch, and more conformable to the genius of our tongue. This we may find in a multitude of words, as liberty, conspiracy, theatre, orator, &c.
The same natural aversion to loquacity has of late years made a very considerable alteration in our language, by closing in one syllable the termination of our preterperfect tense, as in the words drown'd, walk'd, arriv'd, for drowned, walked, arrived, which has
very much disfigured the tongne, and turned a tenth part of our smootbest words into so many clusters of consonants. This is the more remarkable, be. cause the want of vowels in our language has been the general complaint of our politest authors, who nevertheless are the men that have made these retreuchments, and, consequently, very much increased our
This reflection on the words that end iu ed, I have heard in conversation from one of the greatest genius's this age
has produced. I think we may add to the foregoing observation, the change which has happened in our language, by the abbreviation of several words that are terminated in eth, by substituting an s in the rooin of the last syllable, as in drowns, walks, arrives, and innumerable other words, which in the pronunciation of our forefathers were drowneth, walketh, ar. riveth. This has wonderfully multiplied a letter which was before too frequent in the English tongne, and added to that hissing in our language which is taken so much notice of by foreigners; but at the same time humours our tacituruity, and eases us of many super
· I might here observe, that the same single letter on many occasions does the office of a whole word, and represents the his or her of our forefathers. There is no doubt but the ear of a foreigner, which is the best
judge in this case, would very much disapprove of such innovations, which indeed we do ourselves in some measure by retaining the old terinivation in writ. ing, and in all the solemn offices of our religion.
As in the instances I have given we have epitomized many of onr particular words to the detriment of our tongne, so on other occasions we have drawn two words into one, which has likewise very much untuned our language, and clogged it with consonants, as mayn't, can't, shan't, won't, and the like, for may not, can not, shall vot, will not, &c.
It is perbaps this humour of speaking no more than we needs must, which has so miserably curtailed some of our words, that in familiar writings and conversa. tions they often lose all but their first syllables, as in mob. rep. pos. incog. and the like; and as all ridiculous words make their first entry into a language by familiar phrases, I dare not answer for these that they will not in time be looked upon as a part of our tongue. We see some of our poets have been so in. discreet as to imitate Hudibras's doggrel expressions in their serious compositions, by throwing out the signs of our substantives, which are essential to the English language. Nay, this humour of shortening our lan. guage had once run so far, that some of our celebrated authors, among whom we may reckon Sir Roger L'Estrange in particular, began to prune their words of all superfluons letters, as they termed them, in order to adjust the spelling to the pronunciation; which would have confounded all our etymologies, and have quite destroyed our tongue.
We may here likewise observe that our proper names, when familiarized in English, generally dwindle to monosyllables, whereas in other modern languages they receive a softer turu on this occasion, by the ad. dition of a new syllable. Nick in Italian is Nicolini, Jack in French Janot; and so of the rest.
There is another particnlar in our language which is a great instance of onr frugality of words, and that