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dy treated of. It sometimes means that tenderness and nicety of honour, that apprehension of blame, that dread of intrusion or injury towards others, that PUDOR, which is the proper guardian of every kind of virtue, and a fure preservative against vice and corruption. But its most usual meaning is when it is opposed to impudence and arrogance, and expresses a diffidence of our own judgment, and a due attention and regard for others. In young men chiefly, this quality is a sure sign of good senfe ; and is also the certain means of augmenting that endowment, by preserving their ears open to instruction, and making them still grasp after new attainments. But it has a farther charm to every spectator, by flattering every man's vanity, and presenting the appearance of a docile pupil, who receives, with proper attention and respect, every word they utter.
Men have, in general, a much greater propensity to over-value than to under-value themselves; notwithstanding the opinion of ARISTOTLE* This makes us more jealous of the excess on the former side, and causes us to regard, with a peculiar indulgence, all tendency to modesty and self-diffidence; as esteeming the danger less of falling into any vicious extreme of that nature. It is thus in countries where mens bodies are apt to exceed in corpulency, personal beauty is placed in a much greater degree of slenderness, than in countries where that is the most usual defect. Being so often ftruck with initances of one fpecies of deformity, men think they can never keep at too great a dittance from it, and wish always to have a leaning to the opposite side. In like manner, were the door opened to felf-praise, and were MONTAIGNE's maxim observed, that one should say as frankly, I have sense, I have learning, I have courage, beauty, or wit, as it is sure we often think fo; were this the case, I say, every one is sensible, that such a flood of impertinence would
break Ethic, ad Nicomachum.
break in upon us, as would render society wholly intolerable. For this reason, custom has established it as a rule, in common focieties, that men should not indulge themselves in self-praise, or even speak much of themselves; and it is only among intimate friends or people of very manly behaviour, that one is allowed to do himself justice. No body finds fault with MAURICE, Prince of ORANGE, for his reply to one who asked him, whom he esteemed the first general of the age? The Marquis of SPINOLA, said he, is the second. Though it is observable, that the self. praise implied is here better implied, than if it had been directly expressed without any cover or difguise.
He must be a very superficial thinker who imagines, that all instances of mutual deference are to be underftood in earnest, and that a man would be more estimable for being ignorant of his own merits and accomplishments. A small bias towards modesty, even in the internal sentiment, is favourably regarded, especially in young people; and a strong bias is required in the outward behaviour: But this excludes not a noble pride and spirit, which may openly display itself in its full extent, when one lies under calumny or oppression of any kind. The generous contumacy of SocRATEs, as Cicero calls it, has been highly celebrated in all ages; and when joined to the usual modesty of his behaviour, forms a shining character. IPHICRATES, the ATHENIAN, being accused of betraying the interests of his country, asked his accuser, Would you, says he, have, on a like occasion, been guilty of that crime? By no means, replied the other. And can you then imagine, cried the hero, that IphicRATES would be guilty *? In short, a generous spirit and selfvalue, well founded, decently disguised, and courageously supported under distress and calumny, is a great excellency, and seems to derive its merit from the noble elevation of its sentiment, or its immediate
agreeableness * Quinctil. lib. v. cap. 12.
agreeableness to its possessor. In ordinary characters, we approve of a bias towards modefty, which is a quality immediately agreeable to others: The vicious excess of the former virtue, namely, infolence or haughtiness, is immediately disagreeable to others : The excess of the latter is so to the poffeffor. Thus are the boundaries of these duties adjusted.
A defire of fame, reputation, or a character with others, is so far from being blameable, that it seems inseparable from virtue, genius, capacity, and a genetous or noble disposition. An attention even to trivial matters, in order to please, is also expected and de. manded by society; and no one is surprised, if he find a man in company, to observe a greater elegance of dress, and more pleasant flow of conversation, than when he passes his time at home, and with his own family. Wherein, then, consists VANITY, which is so justly regarded as a fault or imperfection? It seems to corfitt chiefly in such an intemperate display of our advantages, honours, and accomplishments; in such an importunate and open demand of praise and admiration, as is offensive to others, and encroaches too far on their secret vanity and ambition. It is befides a sure symptom of the want of true dignity and elevation of mind, which is so great an ornament in any character. For why that impatient desire of applause, as if you were not justly intitled to it, and might not reasonably expect that it would for ever attend you? Why so anxious to inform us of the great company which you have kept; the obliging things which were said to you; the honours, the diftinctions which you met with; as if these were not things of course, and what we could readily, of ourfelves, have imagined, without being told of them?
DECENCY, or a proper regard to age, sex, character, and station in the world, may be ranked among the qualities which are immediately agreeable to others, and which, ty that means, acquire praise and approbation. An effeminate behaviour in a man, a VOL. II. T
Tough manner in a woman; these are ugly because unsuitable to each character, and different from the qualities which we expect in the sexes. It is as if a tragedy abounded in comic beauties, or a comedy in tragic. The disproportions hurt the eye, and convey a disagreeable sentiment to the spectators, the source of blame and disapprobation. This is that indecorum which is explained so much at large by Cicero in his Offices.
Among the other virtues, we may also giveCLEANLINESS a place; since it naturally renders us agreeable to others, and is no inconfiderable source of love and affection. No one will deny, that a negligence in this particular is a fault; and as faults are nothing but smaller vices, and this fault can have no other origin than the uneasy situation which it excites in others; we may, in this instance, seemingly so trivial, clearly discover the origin of moral distinctions, about which the learned have involved themselves in such mazes of perplexity and error.
But besides all the agreeable qualities, the origin of whose beauty we can in some degree explain and account for, there still remains something mysterious and inexplicable, which conveys an immediate fatisfaction to the spectator; but how, or why, or for what reason, he connot pretend to determine. There is a MANNER, a grace, an ease, a genteelness, an I. know-not-what, which some men potless above others, which is very different from external beauty and comeliness, and which, however, catches our affection almost as suddenly and powerfully. And though this manner be chiefly talked of in the passion between the sexes, where the concealed magic is easily explained, yet surely much of it prevails in all our estimation of characters, and forms no inconfiderable part of personal merit. This class of accomplishments, therefore, must be trusted entirely to the blind but sure testimony of taste and sentiment; and must be considered as a part of ethics, left by nature to
baffle all the pride of philosophy, and make her fen“ fible of her narrow boundaries and slender acquifi. tions.
We approve of another, because of his wit, politeness, modesty, decency, or any agreeable quality which he pofsefles; although he be not of our acquaintance, nor has ever given us any entertainment by means of these accomplishments. The idea which we form of their effect on his acquaintance, has an agreeable influence on our imagination, and gives us the sentiment of approbation. This principle enters into all the judgments which we form concerning manners and characters.
T may justly appear surprising, that any man, in
so late an age, Thould find it requisite to prove by elaborate reasoning, that PERSONAL MERIT confifts altogether in the possession of mental qualities useful or agreeable to the person himself, or to others. It might be expected, that this principle would have occurred even to the first rude, unpractised enquirers concerning morals, and been received from its own evidence, without any argument or disputation. Whatever is valuable in any kind, so naturally claffes itself under the division of useful or agiscible, the utile or the dulce, that it is not easy to imagine, why Ta