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he scorned to appear a flatterer į and he would
promise no man good offices, not even though he meant to perform them, because he abhorred ostentation. Accordingly, in his address, he is often abrupt, with an approach to rudeness, which, if it does not offend, disconcerts : and he will not return a civility, because he is not in the humour. He thus indulges a propensity which he ought to have corrected ; and, slave to a surly vanity, he thinks he acts upon principle.
Now, this habit not only renders him disagreeable to persons of polished manners, but may be attended with consequences of a more serious nature. Sir Gregory does not perceive, that, while he thinks he is plain, he only affects to be plain ; that he often stifies a kindly feeling, for fear of seeming complacent; that he constrains the garb quite from his
nature ;' and that he disguises his appearance as much at least by excessive bluntness, as he would by shewing some complaisance. Thus he is hardly entitled, notwithstanding his pretensions, to the praise even of honest plainness. Besides, his character, in other respects, is so eminent, and his rank so distinguished, that, of course, he has many admirers : and thus all the young men of his neighbourhood are becoming as boisterous and as rough as himself. Even some of his female acquaintance are likely to suffer by the contagion of his example. Their desire of pleasing has taken an improper direction; they seem less studious of those delicate proprieties and observances so, essenti. : to female excellence; they also will
appear otherwise than what they are; and thus they will not only appear, but become a great deal
For, as the shew of humanity and good humour may, in some instances promote a gentle temper, and render us good-humoured; so the affectation and shew of honest plainness may lead us to be plai
without hocesty, and sincere without good intention Those who affect timidity, may, in time, become cowards; and those who affect roughness, may, in time, grow inhuman.
To the Author of the MIRROR.
Sir, I have long had a tendre for a young lady, who is very beautiful, but a little capricious. I think myself unfortunate enough not to be in her good graces; but some of my friends tell me I am a simpleton, and don't understand her. Pray be so kind as inform me, Mr. MIRROR, what sort of rudeness amounts to encouragement. When a lady calls a man impertinent, does she wish him to be somewhat more assuming? When she never looks his way, may he reckon himself a favourite? Or, if she tells every body, that Mr. Such-a-one is her aversion, is Mr. Sucha-one to take it for granted, that she is down-right fond of him?
MODESTU S6 V
N° 30. SATURDAY, MAY 8, 1779.
It has sometimes been matter of speculation, whether or not there be a sex in the soul: that there is one in manners, I never heard disputed; the same
applause which we involuntarily bestow upon honour, courage, and spirit in men, we as naturally confer upon chastity, modesty, and gentleness in women.
It was formerly one of those national boasts which are always allowable, and sometimes useful, that the Ladies of Scotland possessed a purity of conduct, and delicacy of manners, beyond those of most other countries. Free from the bad effects of overgrown fortunes, and of the dissipated society of an over, grown capital, their beauty was natural, and their minds were uncorrupted.
Though I am inclined to believe, that this is still the case in general; yet, from my own observation, and the complaints of several Correspondents, I am sorry to be obliged to conclude, that there begins to appear among us a very different style of manners, Perhaps our frequent communication with the metropolis of our sister kingdom, is one great cause of this. Formerly a London journey was attended with some difficulty and danger, and posting thither was an atchieyement as masculine as a fox-chace. Now the goodness of the roads and the convenience of the vehicles render it a matter of only a few days moderate exercise for a lady ; . Facilis descensus Averni;' our wives and daughters are carried thither to see thę world ; and we are not to wonder if some of them bring back only that knowledge of it, which the most ignorant can acquire, and the most forgetful retain. That knowledge is communicated to a certain circle, on their return; the imitation is as rapid as it is
easy; they emulate the English, who before have copied the French; the dress, the phrase, and the morale of Paris, is transplanted first to London, and thence to Edinburgh; and even the sequestered regions of the
country are sometimes visited in this northern progress of politeness.
And here I cannot help observing, that the imita
tion is often so clumsy, as to leave out all the
agreeable, and retain all the offensive. In the translation of the manners, as in the translation of the language, of our neighbours, we are apt to lose the finesses, the petits agrémens, which (I talk like a man of the world) give zest and value to the whole.
It will be said perhaps, that there is often a levity of behaviour without any criminality of conduct; that the lady who talks always loud, and sometimes free, goes much abroad, or keeps a crowd of company at home, rattles in a public place with a circle of young fellows, or flirts in a corner with a single one, does all this without the smallest bad intention, merely as she puts on a cap, and sticks it with feathers, because she has seen it done by others whose rank and fashion entitle them to her imitation. Now, granting that most of those ladies have all the purity of heart that is contended for, are there no disagreeable consequences, I would ask, from the appearance of evil, exclusive of its reality? Decorum is at least the ensign, if not the outguard, of virtue ; the it, if it does not weaken the garrison, will, at least, embolden the assailants; and a woman's virtue is of so delicate a nature, that to be impregnable is not enough, without the reputation of being so.
But, though female virtue, in the singular, means chastity, there are many other endowments, without which a woman's character is reproachable, though it is not infamous. The mild demeanor, the modest deportment, are valued not only as they denote internal purity and innocence, but as forming in them. selves the most amiable and engaging part of the female character. There was, of old, a stiff constrained manner, which the moderns finding unpleasant, agreed to explode, and, in the common rage of reformation, substituted the very opposite extreme in its stead, to banish preciseness, they called in le
vity, and ceremony gave way to something like rude
But fashion may alter the form, not the essence of things; and though we may lend our laugh, or even our applause, to the woman whose figure and conversation comes flying out upon us in this fashionable forwardness of manner; yet, I believe, there is scarce a votary of the mode who would wish his sister, his wife, or even his mistress (I use the word in its modest sense), to possess it.
I have hitherto pointed my observations chiefly at the appearance of our ladies to the world, which, besides its being more immediately the object of public censorship, a variety of strictures lately sent me by my Correspondents naturally led me to consider. Í am afraid, however, the same innovation begins to appear in our domestic as in our public life, and that the case of my friend Mr. Homespun is far from being singular. Some of those whose rank and station are such as to enforce example, and regulate opinion, think it an honourable distinction to be able to lead, from the sober track which the maxims of their mothers and grandmothers had marked out for them, such young ladies as chance, relationship, or neighbourhood, has placed within the reach of their influence. The state of diffidence and dependence, in which a young woman used to find herself happy under the protection of her parents or guardians, they teach their pupils to consider as incompatible with sense or spirit. With them obedience and subordination are terms of contempt; even the natural restraints of time are disregarded; childhood is immaturely forced into youth, and youth assumes the confidence and self-governmeat of age; domestic duties are held to be slavish, and domestic enjoyments insipid.
There is an appearance of brilliancy in the pleasumme of high life and fashion, which naturally daz