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If I was put to define Modefty, I would call it, The reflection of an ingenuous mind, either when a man has committed an action for which he cenfures himself, or fancies that he is expofed to the cenfure of others.
For this reafon a man truly modeft is as much fo when he is alone as in company, and as subject to a blash in his closet, as when the eyes of multitudes are upon him.
I Do not remember to have met with any inftance of modefty with which I am fo well pleafed, as that celebrated one of the young Prince, whofe father, being a tributary king to the Romans, had feveral complaints laid against him before the fenate, as a tyrant and oppreffor of his subjects. The Prince went to Rome to defend his father, but coming into the fenate, and hearing a multitude of crimes proved upon him, was so oppreffed when it came to his turn to fpeak, that he was unable to utter a word. The ftory tells us, that the fathers were more moved at this inftance of modefty and ingenuity, than they could have been by the most pathetic oration; and, in short, pardoned the guilty father for this early promise of virtue in the fon.
ITAKE Affurance to be, The faculty of poffeffing a man's felf, or of faying and doing indifferent things without any ⚫uneafinefs or emotion in the mind. That which generally gives a man afsurance, is a moderate knowledge of the world, but above all, a mind fixed and determined in itself to do nothing against the rules of honour and decency. An open and affured behaviour is the natural confequence of fuch a refolution. A man thus armed, if his words or actions are at any time mifinterpreted, retires within himfelf, and from a consciousness of his own integrity, affumes force enough to despise the little cenfures of ignorance or malice.
EVERY one ought to cherish and encourage in himself the modefty and affurance I have here mentioned. roma A MAN without affurance is liable to be made uneasy by the folly or ill-nature of every one he converses with. A man without modesty is loft to all sense of honour and virtue.
Ir is more than probable, that the Prince above-mentioned poffeffed both these qualifications in a very eminent de-gree. Without affurance he would never have undertaken to speak before the most auguft affembly in the world; without modefty he would have pleaded the cause he had taken upon him, though it had appeared ever fo fcandalous.
FROM what has been faid, it is plain, that modefty and affurance are both amiable, and may very well meet in the fame perfon. When they are thus mixed and blended together, they compofe what we endeavour to exprefs when we fay a modeft affurance; by which we understand the just mean between bashfulness and impudence. 2 cant your
I fhall conclude with obferving, that as the fame man may be both modeft and affured, fo it is alfo poffible for the fame perfon to be both impudent and bashful. l det
We have frequent inftances of this odd kind of mixture in people of depraved minds and mean education; who though they are not able to meet a man's eyes, or pronounce a fentence without confufion, can voluntarily commit the greatest villainies, or most indecent actions. vole
SUCH a perfon feems to have made a refolution to do ill even in spite of himself, and in defiance of all thofe checks and restraints his temper and complexion feem to have laid in his way. msmi vas te UPON the whole, I would endeavour to eftablish this maxim, That the practice of virtue is the most proper method to give a man a becoming affurance in his words and actions.
actions. Guilt always feeks to fhelter itself in one of the extremes, and is fometimes attended with both.
HAVE always preferred Cheerfulness to Mirth. The latter I confider as an act, the former as a habit of the mind. Mirth is short and tranfient, cheerfulness fixed and permanent. Those are often raised into the greatest tranfports of mirth, who are fubject to the greatest depreffions of melancholy on the contrary, cheerfulness, though it does not give the mind fuch an exquifite gladness, prevents us from falling into any depths of forrow. Mirth is like a flash of lightning, that breaks through a gloom of clouds, and glitters for a moment; cheerfulness keeps up a kind of day-light in the mind, and fills it with a steady and perpetual ferenity.
MEN of auftere principles look mirth as too wanupon ton and diffolute for a state of probation, and as filled with a certain triumph and insolence of heart that is inconfiftent with a life which is every moment obnoxious to the greatest dangers. Writers of this complexion have obferved, that the facred Perfon who was the great pattern of perfection, was never feen to laugh.
CHEERFULNESS of mind is not liable to any of these exceptions; it is of a ferious and compofed nature; it does not throw the mind into a condition improper for the prefent ftate of humanity, and is very confpicuous in the characters of those who are looked upon as the greatest philofophers among the Heathens, as well as among thofe who have been defervedly
defervedly esteemed as faints and holy men among Chrif tians.
If we confider cheerfulness in three lights, with regard to ourselves, to those we converfe with, and to the great Author of our being, it will not a little recommend itself on each of these accounts. The man who is poffeffed of this excellent frame of mind, is not only eafy in his thoughts, but a perfect mafter of all the powers and faculties of his foul: his imagination is always clear, and his judgment undisturbed his temper is even and unruffled, whether in action or in folitude. He comes with a relish to all thofe goods which nature has provided for him, taftes all the pleasures of the creation which are poured upon him, and does not feel the full weight of those accidental evils which may befal him.
If we confider him in relation to the perfons whom he converses with, it naturally produces love and good-will towards him. A cheerful mind is not only disposed to be affable and obliging, but raises the fame good-humour in thofe who come within its influence. A man finds himself pleased, he does not know why, with the cheerfulness of his companion it is like a fudden funshine that awakens a facred delight in the mind, without her attending to it. The heart rejoices of its own accord, and naturally flows out into friendship and benevolence towards the person who has fo kindly an effect upon it.
WHEN I confider this cheerful state of mind in its third relation, I cannot but look upon it as a constant habitual gratitude to the Author of nature. An inward cheerfulness is an implicit praise and thanksgiving to Providence under all its difpenfations. It is a kind of acquiefcence in the state wherein
wherein we are placed, and a fecret approbation of the Divine will in his conduct towards man.
A MAN, who uses his best endeavours to live according to the dictates of virtue and right reason, has two perpetual fources of cheerfulness, in the confideration of his own nature, and of that Being on whom he has a dependence. If he looks into himself, he cannot but rejoice in that existence, which is fo lately beftowed upon him, and which, after millions of ages, will be still new, and still in its beginning. How many felf-congratulations naturally rife in the mind, when it reflects on this its entrance into eternity; when it takes a view of those improveable faculties, which in a few years, and even at its first setting out, have made fo confiderable a progress, and which will be ftill receiving an increase of perfection, and confequently an increase of happinefs? The consciousness of fuch a being spreads a perpetual diffufion of joy through the foul of a virtuous man, and makes him look upon himself every moment as moré happy than he knows how to conceive.
THE fecond fource of cheerfulness to a good mind, is its confideration of that Being on whom we have our dependence, and in whom, though we behold him as yet but in the firft faint difcoveries of his perfections, we see every thing that we can imagine as great, glorious, or amiable. We find ourselves every where upheld by his goodness, and furrounded with an immenfity of love and mercy. In short, we depend upon a Being, whose power qualifies him to make us happy by an infinity of means, whose goodness and truth engage him to make those happy who defire it of him, and whofe unchangeablenefs will fecure us in this happiness to all eternity.
SUCH Confiderations, which every one should perpetually G 3 cherish