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other; and he who wants it, though he may be preserved from contempt by incontestable superiority either of virtue or of parts, will yet be regarded with malevolence, and avoided as enemy with whom it is dangerous to combat.
In some instances, indeed, the enmity of others cannot be avoided without the participation of guilt; but then it is the enmity of those with whom neither virtue nor wisdom can desire to associate: and good breeding may generally be practised upon more easy and more honourable terms, than acquiescence in the detraction of malice or the adulation of servility, the obscenity of a letcher or the blasphemy of an infidel. Disagreeable truths may be suppressed ; and when they can be suppressed without guilt, they cannot innocently be uttered; the boast of vanity may be suffered without severe reprehension, and the prattle of absurdity may be heard without expressions of contempt.
It happens, indeed, somewhat unfortunately, that the practice of good breeding, however necessary, is obstructed by the possession of more valuable talents; and that great integrity, delicacy, sensibility, and spirit, exalted genius, and extensive learning, frequently render men ill-bred.
Petrarch relates, that his admirable friend and contemporary, Dante Aligheri, one of the most exalted and original geniuses that ever appeared, being banished his country, and having retired to the court of a prince which was then the sanctuary of the unfortunate, was held at first in great esteem; but became daily less acceptable to his patron, by the severity of his manners and the freedom of his speech. There were at the same court, many players and buffoons, gamesters and debauchees, one of whom, distinguished by his impudence, ribaldry, and obscenity, was greatly caressed by the rest; which the prince suspecting
Dante not to be pleased with, ordered the man to be brought before him, and having highly extolled him, turned to Dante, and said, I wonder that this person, who is by some deemed a fool, and by others a madman, should yet be so generally pleasing, and so generally beloved; when you, who are celebrated for wisdom, are yet heard without pleasure, and commended without friendship.' • You would cease to wonder,' replied Dante, if you considered, that a conformity of character is the source of friendship. This sarcasm, which had all the force of truth, and all the keenness of wit, was intolerable ; and Dante was immediately dismissed and banished.
But by this answer, though the indignation which produced it was founded on virtue, Dante probably gratified his own vanity, as much as he mortified that of others; it was the petulant reproach of resentment and pride, which is always retorted with rage; and not the still voice of Reason, which is heard with complacency and reverence: if Dante intended reformation, his answer was not wise; if he did not intend reformation, his answer was not good.
Great delicacy, sensibility, and penetration, do not less obstruct the practice of good breeding than integrity. Persons thus qualified, not only discover proportionably more faults and failings in the characters which they examine, but are inore disgusted with the faults and failings which they discover: the common topics of conversation are too trivial to engage their attention; the various turns of fortune that have lately happened at a game at Whist, the history of a ball at Tunbridge or Bath, a description of Lady Fanny's jewels and Lady Kitty’s vapours, the journals of a horse-race or a cock-match, and disquisitions on the game-act, or the scarcity of partridges, are subjects upon which men of delicate taste do not always choose to declaim, and on which they cannot patiently hear the declamation of others. But they should remember, that their impatience is the impotence of reason and the prevalence of vanity; that if they sit silent and reserved, wrapped up in the contemplation of their own dignity, they will, in their turn, be despised and hated by those whom they hate and despise; and with better reason, for perverted power ought to be more odious than debility. To hear with patience, and to answer with civility, seems to comprehend all the good-breeding of conversation; and in proportion as this is easy, silence and inattention are without excuse.
He, who does not practise good-breeding, will not find himself considered as the object of good-breeding by others. There is, however, a species of rusticity, which it is not less absurd than injurious to treat with contempt: this species of ill-breeding is become almost proverbially the characteristic of a scholar; nor should it be expected, that he who is deeply attentive to an abstruse science, or who employs any of the three great faculties of the soul, the memory, the imagination, or the judgment, in the close pursuit of their several objects, should have studied punctilios of form and ceremony, and be equally able to shine at a rout and in the schools. That the bow of a chronologer, and the compliment of an astronomer, should be improper or uncouth, cannot be thought strange to those, who duly consider the narrowness of our faculties, and the impossibility of attaining universal excellence.
Equally excusable, for the same reasons, are that absence of mind, and that forgetfulness of place and person, to which scholars are so frequently subject. When Louis XIV. was one day lamenting the death of an old comedian, whom he highly ex- . tolled, Yes,' replied Boileau, in the presence of Madam Maintenon, he performed tolerably well
in the despicable pieces of Scarron, which are now deservedly forgotten even in the provinces.'
As every condition of life, and every turn of mind, has some peculiar temptation and propensity to evil, let not the man of uprightness and honesty be morose and surly in his practice of virtue; let not him, whose delicacy and penetration discern with disgust those imperfections in others from which he himself is not free, indulge perpetual peevishness and discontent; nor let learning and knowledge be pleaded as an excuse for not condescending to the common offices and duties of civil life: for as no man should be wellbred, at the
expence of his Virtue; no man should practice virtue, so as to deter others from Imitation.
N° 88. SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 8, 1753.
DRYDEN Newton, whose power of investigating nature few will deny to have been superior to their own, con-'. fesses, that he cannot account for gravity, the first principle of his system, as a property communicable to matter ; or conceive the phænomena supposed to be the effects of such a principle, to be otherwise. produced, than by the immediate and perpetual influence of the Almighty: and, perhaps, those who most attentively consider the phænomena of the moral and natural world, will be most inclined to admit the agency of invisible beings.
In dreams, the mind appears to be wholly passive; for dreams are so far from being the effect of a voluntary effort, that we neither know of what we shall dream, nor whether we shall dream at all.
The human mind does not, indeed, appear to have any power equal to such an effect; for the ideas conceived in dreams, without the intervention of sensible objects, are much more perfect and strong than can be formed at other times by the utmost effort of the most lively imagination: and it can scarce be supposed, that the mind is more vigorous when we sleep, than when we are awake; especially if it be true, as I have before remarked, that in sleep the power of memory is wholly suspended, and the understanding is employed only about such objects as present themselves, without comparing the past with the present;' except we judge of the soul by a maxim which some deep philosophers have held concerning horses, that when the tail is cut 'off, the rest of the members become more strong.
In lunacy, as in dreams, ideas are conceived which material objects do not excite; and which the force of imagination, exerted by a voluntary effort, cannot form ; but the mind of the lunatic, besides being impressed with the images of things that do not fall under the cognizance of his senses, is prevented from receiving corresponding images from those that do. When the visionary monarch looks round upon his clothes which he has decorated with the spoils of his bed, his mind does not conceive the ideas of rags and straw, but of velvet, embroidery, and gold : and when he gazes at the bounds of his cell, the image impressed upon his mind is not that of a naked wall which encloses an area of ten feet square; but of wainscot, and painting, and tapestry, the bounds of a spacious apartment adorned with magnificent furniture, and crowded with splendid dependents.