페이지 이미지

than I will presume to lay down as a general rule; being aware that it must depend upon personal circumstances. Splendour he may be indulged in; but excess in that, as in every thing else, must be avoided, for the mischiefs cannot be numbered which it will entail upon him; excess in expense will subject him to obligations of a degrading sort; excess in courtesy will lay him open to the forward and assuming, raise mountains of expectation about him, and all of them undermined by disappointment, ready charged for explosion, when the hand of presumption shall set fire to the train; excess in pleasure will lower him in character, destroy health, respect, and that becoming dignity of mind, that conscious rectitude, which is to direct and support him, when he becomes the dispenser of justice to his subjects, the protector and defender of their religion, the model for their imitation, and the sovereign arbiter of life and death in the execution of every legal condemnation. To court popularity is both derogatory and dangerous, nor should he who is destined to rule over the whole, condescend to put himself in the league of a party. To be a protector of learning, and a patron of the arts, is worthy of a prince, but let him beware how he sinks himself into a pedant or a virtuoso. It is a mean talent which excels in trifles; the fine arts are more likely to flourish under a prince whose ignorance of them is qualified by general and impartial good-will towards their professors, than by one who is himself a dabbler; for such will always have their favourites, and favouritism never fails to irritate the minds of men of genius concerned in the same studies, and turns the spirit of emulation into the gall of acrimony.

Above all things let it be his inviolable maxim to distinguish strongly and pointedly in his attentions between men of virtuous morals and men of vicious.

There is nothing so glorious and, at the same time, nothing so easy; if his countenance is turned to men of principle and character, if he bestows his smile upon the worthy only, he need be at little pains to frown upon the profligate, all such vermin will crawl out of his path, and shrink away from his presence. Glittering talents will be no passport for dissolute morals, and ambition will then be retained in no other cause but that of virtue; men will not choose crooked passages and by-alleys to preferment, when the broad highway of honesty is laid open and straight before them. A prince, though he gives a good example in his own person, what does he profit the world, if he draws it back again by the bad example of those whom he employs and favours? Better might it be for a nation, to see a libertine on its throne, surrounded by virtuous counsellors, than to contemplate a virtuous sovereign, delegating his authority to unprincipled and licentious servants.

The king who declares his resolution of countenancing the virtuous only amongs this subjects, speaks the language of an honest man; if he makes good his declaration, he performs the functions of one, and earns the blessings of a righteous king; a life of glory in this world, and an immortality of happiness in the world to come.


- Non erat his locus.


THERE is a certain delicacy in some men's nature, which, though not absolutely to be termed a moral attribute, is nevertheless so grateful to society at large, and so recommendatory of those who possess it, that even the best and worthiest characters cannot be truly pleasing without it. I know not how to describe it better than by saying it consists in a happy discernment of "times and seasons."

Though this engaging talent cannot positively be called a virtue, yet it seems to be the result of many virtuous and refined endowments of the mind, which produces it; for when we see any man so tenderly considerate of our feelings, as to put aside his own for our accommodation and repose, and to consult opportunities with a respectful attention to our ease and leisure, it is natural to us to think favourably of such a disposition, and although much of his discernment may be the effect of a good judgment and proper knowledge of the world, yet there must be a great proportion of sensibility, candour, diffidence, and natural modesty, in the composition of a faculty so conciliating and so graceful. A man may have many good qualities, and yet, if he is unacquainted with the world, he will rarely be found to understand those apt and happy moments, of which I am now speaking; for it is a knowledge not to be gained without a nice and accurate observation of mankind, and even

when that observation has given it, men, who are wanting in the natural good qualities above described, may indeed avail themselves of such occasions to serve a purpose of their own; but, without a good heart, no man will apply his experience to general practice.

But as it is not upon theories that I wish to employ these papers, I shall now devote the remainder of my attention to such rules and observations as occur to me upon the subject of the times and


Men who, in the fashionable phrase, live out of the world, have a certain awkwardness about them which is forever putting them out of their place in society, whenever they are occasionally drawn into it. If it is their studies which have sequestered them from the world, they contract an air of pedantry, which can hardly be endured in any mixed company, without exposing the object of it to ridicule; for the very essence of this contracted habit consists in an utter ignorance of times and seasons. Most of that class of men who are occupied in the education of youth, and not a few of the young men themselves, who are educated by them, are of this description; we meet with many of Jack Lizard's cast in The Guardian, who will learnedly maintain there is no heat in fire. There is a disputatious precision in these people, which lets nothing pass in free conversation that is not mathematically true; they will confute a jest by syllogism, canvass a merry tale by cross-examination and dates, work every common calculation by X, the unknown quantity, and in the festive sallies of imagination, convict the witty speaker of false grammar, and nonsuit all the merriment of the table.

The man of form and ceremony, who has shaped

his manners to the model of what is commonly called The Old Court, is another grand defaulter against times and seasons; his entrances and exits are to be performed with a stated regularity; he measures his devoirs with an exactitude that bespeaks him a correct interpreter of The Red Book; pays his compliments with a minuteness that leaves no one of your family unnamed, inquires after the health of your child who is dead, and desires to be kindly remembered to your wife, from whom you are divorced. Nature formed him in straight lines, habit has stiffened him into an unrelenting rigidity, and no familiarity can bend him out of the upright. The uneducated squire of rustic manners forms a contrast to this character, but he is altogether as great an intruder upon times and seasons, and his total want of form operates to the annoyance of society as effectually as the other's excess. There cannot be in human nature a more terrible thing than vulgar familiarity; a low-bred fellow, who affects to put himself at his ease amongst his superiors and be pleasant company to them, is a nuisance to society; there is nothing so ill understood by the world, in general, as familiarity; if it was not for the terror which men have of the very troublesome consequences of condescension to their inferiors, there would not be a hundredth part of that pride and holding-back amongst the higher ranks, of which the low are so apt to complain. How few men do we meet with, who, when the heart is open and the channel free, know how to keep their course within the buoys and marks that true good-manners have set up for all men to steer by! Jokes out of season, unpleasant truths touched upon incautiously, plump questions, as they are called, put without any preface or refinement, manual caresses compounded of hugs and slaps and 3


« 이전계속 »