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observe, that, in a kind of blame, we say, a person is too good, when he exceeds his part in society, and carries his attention for others beyond the proper þounds. In like manner, we say a man is too highspirited, tog intrepid, too indifferent about fortune : Reproaches which really, at bottom, imply more esteem than many panegyrics. Being accustomed to rate the merit and demerit of characters chiefly by their useful or pernicious tendencies, we cannot forbear applying the epithet of blame, when we discover a sentiment which rises to a degree that is hurtful: But it may happen, at the same time, that its noble elevation, or its engaging tenderness, fo seizes the heart, as rather to increase our friendship and concern for the person *.
The amours and attachments of Harry the IVth of FRANCE, during the civil wars of the league, frequently hurt his interest and his cause; but all the young at least, and amorous, who can sympathize with the tender passions, will allow, that this very weakness (for they will readily call it such) chiefly endears that hero, and interests them in his fortunes.
The exceflive bravery and resolute inflexibility of CHARLES the XIIth ruined his own country, and infested all his neighbours; but have such splendor and greatness in their appearance, as strikes us with admiration : and they might, in some degree, be even approved of, if they betrayed not fometimes too evident symptoms of madness and disorder.
The ATHENIANS pretended to the first invention of agriculture and of laws; and always valued themselves extremely on the benefit thereby procured to the whole race of mankind. They also boasted, and with reason, of their warlike enterprizes; particu
larly * Cheerfulness could scarce admit of blame from its excess, were it not that diffolute mirth, without a proper cause or subject, is a fure symptom and characteristic of folly, and on that account disguitful.
larly against those innumerable fleets and armies of PERSIANS, which invaded GREECE during the reigns of Darius and XERXES. But though there be no comparison, in point of utility, between these peaceful and military honours; yet we find, that the orators, who have write such elaborate panegyrics on that famous city, have chiefly triumphed in displaying the wațlike atchievements. Lysias, THUCYDI, DES, Plato, and ISOCRATES, discover, all of them, the same partiality; which, though condemned by calm reason and reflection, appears so natural in the mind of man.
It is observable, that the great charm of poetry consists in lively pictures of the sublime passions, magnanimity, courage, disdain of fortune; or those of the tender affections, love and friendship; which warm the heart, and diffuse over it similar sentiments and emotions, And though all kinds of passion, even the most disagreeable, such as grief and anger, are observed, when excited by poetry to convey a satisfaction, from a mechanism of nature, not easy to be explained : Yet those more elevated or softer affections have a peculiar influence, and please from more than one cause or principle. Not to mention, that they alone intereft us in the fortune of the per, fons represented, or communicate any esteem and affection for their character.
And can it poslībly be doubted, that this talent itself of poets to move the passions, this PATHETIC and SUBLIME of sentiment, is a very considerable merit; and being enhanced by its extreme rarity, may exalt the person possessed of it above every character of the age in which he lives? The prudence, address, steadiness, and benign government of AuGUSTUS, adorned with all the splendor of his noble birth and imperial crown, render hiin but an unequal competitor for fame with Virgil, who lays nothing into the opposite scale but the divine beautics of his poetical genius.
The very sensibility to these beauties, or a DELICACY of taste, is itself a beauty in any character; as conveying the purest, the most durable, and moft innocent of all enjoyments.
These are some instances of the several species of merit, that are valued for the immediate pleasure which they communicate to the person possessed of them. No views of utility or of future beneficial consequences enter into this sentiment of approbation; yet is it of a kind similar to that other senti. ment, which arises from views of a public or private utility. The same social sympathy, we may observe, or fellow-feeling with human happiness or mifery, gives rise to both; and this analogy, in all the parts of the present theory, may justly be regard, ed as a confirmation of it.
OFQUALITIES IMMEDIATELY AGREEABLE TO OTHERS*
S the mutual shocks, in fociety, and the oppo
fitions of interest and self-love, have constrained mankind to establish the laws of justice, in order to preserve the advantages of mutual assistance and protection ; in like manner, the eternal contrarieties, in company, of mens pride and self-conceit, have introduced the rules of GOOD-MANNERS or PO
* It is the nature, and indeed the definition of virtue, that it is a quality of the mind agreeable to or approved of by every one, wha confeders or contemplates it. But some qualities produce pleasure, because they are useful to society, or useful or agreeable to the person himself; others produce it more immediately : which is the case with the class of virtues here considered.
LITENESS, in order to facilitate the intercourse of minds, and an undisturbed commerce and conversation. Among well-bred people, a mutual deference is affected; contempt of others disguised; authority concealed ; attention given to each in his turn; and an easy stream of conversation maintained, without vehemence, without interruption, without eagerness for victory, and without any airs of superiority. These attentions and regards are immediately agreeable to others, abstracted from any consideration of utility or beneficial tendencies : They conciliate affection, promote esteem, and extremely enhance the merit of the person, who regulates his behaviour by them.
Many of the forms of breeding are arbitrary and casual: but the thing expressed by them is still the same. A SPANIARD goes out of his own house before his guest, to signify that he leaves him master of all. In other countries, the landlord walks out last, as a common mark of deference and regard.
But in order to render a man perfect good company, he must have WIT and INGENUITY as well as good-manners. What wit is, it may not be easy to define; but it is easy surely to determine, that it is a quality immediately agreeable to others, and communicating, on its first appearance, a lively joy and satisfaction to every one who has any comprehension of it. The most profound metaphysics, indeed, might be employed, in explaining the various kinds and fpecies of wit; and many classes of it, which are now received on the fole testimony of taste and sentiment, might, perhaps, be resolved into more general principles. But this is sufficient for our present purpose, that it does affect taste and sentiment, and bestowing an immediate enjoyment, is a fure source of approbation and affection,
In countries, where men pass most of their time in conversation, and visits, and assemblies, these companionable qualities, so to speak, are of high estima
tion, and form a chief part' of personal merit. In countries, where men live a more domestic life, and either are employed in business, or amuse themselves in a narrower circle of acquaintance, the more solid qualities are chiefly regarded. Thus I have often observed, that among the FRENCH, the first queftions, with regard to a stranger, are, Is hé polite? Has he wit? In our own country, the chief praise bestowed, is always that of a good-natured, fenfible fellow.
In conversation, the lively spirit of dialogue is agreeable; even to those who desire not to have any share in the discourse. Hence the teller of long ftories, or the pompous declaimer, is very little approved of. But most men defire likewise their turn in the conversation; and regard, with a very evil eye, that loquacity which deprives them of a right they are naturally so jealous of.
There is a fort of harmless liars, frequently to be met with in company, who deal much in the marvellous. Their usual intention is to please and entertain; but as men are most delighted with what they conceive to be truth, these people mistake extremely the means of pleasing, and incur universal blame. Some indulgence, however, to lying or fic-' - tion, is given in humorous stories, because it is there really agreeable and entertaining; and truth is not of any importance.
Eloquence, genius of all kinds, even good sense and sound reasoning, when it rises to an eminent degree, and is employed upon subjects of any confiderable dignity and nice discernment; all these endowments seem immediately agreeable, and have a merit distinct from their usefulness. Rarity, likewise, which so much enhances the price of every thing, must set an additional value on these noble talents of the human mind.
Modesty may be understood in different senses, even abstracted from chastity, which has been alrea