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who conduct the great and complicated machine • of government.
• I wish' added he, it may be only the contracted view of things natural to a retired old man, • which leads me to fear that, in this country, the • period of such reformations is nearly past ; when I • observe that almost all men regulate their conduct,
and form the minds of the rising generation, by • this maxim,
Quærenda pecunia primum est,
. I cannot but apprehend, from the prevalence of so
mean and so corrupt a principle, the same national corruption which the Roman poet ascribes to it.
• In the lower ranks, the desire of gain, as it is • the source of industry, may be held equally con• ducive to private happiness and public prosperity; .but those who, by birth or education, are destined
for nobler pursuits, should be actuated by more generous passions. If from luxury, and the love of vain expence, they shall also give way to this desire of wealth ; if it shall extinguish the sentiments of public virtue, and the passion for true glory, natural to that order of the state; the spring of private and of national honour must have lost its force, and there will remain nothing to withstand
the general corruption of manners, and the public • disorder and debility which are its inseparable at. • tendants. If our country has not already reached • this point of degeneracy, she seems, at least, as far
as a spectator of her manners can judge, to be too fast approaching it.'
Somewhat in this manner did Mr. Umphraville express himself. Living retired in the country conversing with few, and ignorant of the opinions
of the many ; attached to ideas of family, and not very fond of the mercantile interest ; disposed to give praise to former times, and not to think highly of the present ; in his apprehension of facts, he is often mistaken, and the conclusions he draws from those facts are often erroneous. In the present instance, the view which I have presented of his opi. nions, may throw further light upon his character ; it gives a striking picture both of the candour of his mind, and of the generosity of his sentiments. His opinions though erroneous, may be useful; they may remind those who, though endued, like Colonel Plum, with good dispositions,
are in danger of being seduced by circumstances and situation, that our own interest or ambition is never to be pursued but in consistency with the sacred obligations of justice, humanity and benevolence; and they may afford a very pleasing source of reflection to others, who, in trying situations, have maintained their virtue and their chan racter untainted.
N° 29. TUESDAY, MAY 4, 1779.
Conciliat animos comitas affabilitas que sermonis.
Cic. Di Orr. POLITENESS, or the external shew of humanity has been strongly recommended by some, and has been treated with excessive ridicule by others. It has sometimes been represented, very improperly, as constituting the sum of merit : and thus affectation and grimace have been substituted in place of virtue. There are, on the other hand, persons who cover their own rudeness, and justify gross rusticity, by calling their conduct honest Lluntness, and by de, faming complacent manners, as fawning or hypocritical. Shakspeare, in his King Lear, sketches this character with his usual ability :
This is some fellow
To extol polished external manners as constituting the whole duty of man, or to declaim against them as utterly inconsistent with truth, and the respect .we owe to ourselves, are extremes equally to be avoided. Let no one believe that the shew of hu. manity is equal to the reality; nor let any one, from the desire of pleasing, depart from the line of truth, or stoop to mean condescension. But to presume favourably of all men ; to consider them as worthy of our regard, till we have evidence of the contrary ; to be inclined to render them services; and to entertain confidence in their inclinations to follow a similar conduct; constitute a temper, which every man, for his own peace, and for the peace of society, ought to improve and exhibit. Now, this is the temper essential to polished manners; and the external shew of civilities is a banner held forth, announcing to all men, that we hold them in due respect, and are disposed to oblige them. Besides, it will often cccur, that we may have the strongest conviction of worth in another person ; that we may be disposed, from gratitude or esteem, to render him suitable services : and yet may have no opportunity of testifying, by those actions which are their genuine expressions, either that conviction, or that
disposition. Hence external courtesies and civilities are substituted, with great propriety, as signs and representatives of those actions which we are desirous, and have not the power of performing. They are to be held as pledges of our esteem and affection.
• But the man of courtly manners often puts on a placid and smiling semblance, while his heart • rankles with malignant passions.'-When this is done with an intention to deceive or ensnare mankind, the conduct is perfidious, and ought to be branded with infamy. In that case, the law of courtesy is • more honoured in the breach, than in
the observance.' But there may be another situation, when the shew of courtesy assumed, while the heart is still at ease, moved by disagreeable unkindly feel. ings, would be unjustly censured. From a feeble constitution of body, bad health, or some untoward accident or disappointment, you lose your wonted serenity. Influenced by your present humour, even to those who have no concern in the accident that hath befallen you, and who would really be inclined to relieve you from your uneasiness, you become reserved and splenetic. You know the impropriety of such a demeanour, and endeavour to beget in your bosom a very different disposition. Your passions, however, are stubborn ; images of wrong and of disappointment have taken strong hold of your faney; and your present disagreeable and painful state of mind cannot easily be removed. Meanwhile however, you disguise the appearance ; you are careful to let no fretful expression be uttered, nor any malignant thought lour in your aspect ; you perform external acts of civility, and assume the tones and the language of the most perfect compo
You thus war with your own spirit ; and, by force of commanding the external symptoms, you will gain a complete victory. You will actually establish in your mind that good humour and humanity, which, a little before, were only yours in appearance. Now, in this discipline there is nothing criminal. In this discipline there is a great deal of merit. It will not only correct and alter our present humours, but may influence our habits and dispositions.
A contrary practice may be attended, if not with dangerous, at least with disagreeable consequences.
-Sir Gregory Blunt was the eldest son of a respectable family. His fortune and his ancestry entitled him, as he and his friends apprehended, to appear in any shape that he pleased. He owed, and would owe, no man a shilling ; but other men might be indebted to him. He received from nature, and still possesses, good abilities and humane dispositions. He is a man, too, of inflexible honour. “Yet Sir Gregory has an unbending cast of mind, that cannot easily be fashioned into soft compliance and condescension. He never, even at an early period, had any pretensions to winning ways, or agreeable assiduities; nor had he any talent for acquiring personal graces and accomplishments. In every thing that confers the easy and engaging air of a gentleman, he was excelled by his companions. Sir Gregory had sense enough to perceive his own incapacity, vanity enough to be hurt with the preferences shewn to young men less able or honest, but more complaisant than himself; and pride enough to cast away all pretensions to that smoothness of demeanour in which he could never excel. Thus he assumed a bluntness and roughness of manners, better suited to the natural cast of his temper. He would be plain; he hated all your smiling and fawning attentions ; he would speak what he thought; he would praise no man, even though he thought him deserving; because