Page images
[ocr errors]





ce to

gh Por a face on the wall or the wainscot, can, by two or three touches with that be a lead-pencil, make it look visible, and agreeing with what he He ma fancied.

Men of great parts are often unfortunate in the management of Sciously public business, because they are apt to go out of the common road ds, the by the quickness of their imagination. This I once said to my lord or his Bolingbroke, and desired he would observe, that the clerks in his

office used a sort of ivory knife with a blunt edge to divide a sheet s from


paper, which never failed to cut it even, only requiring a steady th hand : whereas if they should make use of a sharp pen-knife, the lready sharpness would make it go often out of the crease and disfigure the , who, paper.

“He who does not provide for his own house,” St. Paul says, "is

worse than an infidel.” And I think, he who provides only for bis people

own house, is just equal with an infidel.

Jealousy, like fire, may shrivel up horns, but it makes them stink.

A footman's hat should fly off to everybody: and therefore Mercury, who was Jupiter's footman, had wings fastened to his сар.

When a man pretends love, but courts for money, he is like a telt, juggler, who conjures away your shilling, and conveys something ither very indecent under the hat. fears

All panegyrics are mingled with an infusion of poppy.

I have known men happy enough at ridicule, who upon grave subjects were perfectly stupid; of which Dr. Echard of Cambridge,

who writ “ The Contempt of the Clergy” was a great instance. her One top of Parnassus was sacred to Bacchus, the other to Apollo. fis: Matrimony has many children; Repentance, Discord, Poverty,

Jealousy, Sickness, Spleen, Loathing, &c.

Vision is the art of seeing things invisible.

The two maxims of any great man at court are, always to keep his countenance, and never to keep his word.

I asked a poor man how he did ? He said he was like a washball, always in decay.

Hippocrates, Aph. 32, sect. 6, observes, that stuttering people are always subject to a looseness. I wish physicians had power to remove the profusion of words in many people to the inferior parts.

A man dreamed he was a cuckold ; a friend told him it was a bad sign, because when a dream is true, Virgil says it passes through the horned gate.

Love is a flame, and therefore we say beauty is attractive; because physicians observe that fire is a great drawer.

us to




[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

I look upon

Civis, the most honorable name among the Romans; a citizen a word of contempt among us.

A lady who had gallantries and several children, told her husband he was like the austere man, who reaped where he did not sow.

We read that an ass's head was sold for eighty pieces of silver; they have lately been sold ten thousand times dearer, and yet they were never more plentiful.

I must complain the cards are ill shuffled till I have a good hand.

When I am reading a book, whether wise or silly, it seems to me to be alive and talking to me. Whoever live at a different end of the town from

me, as persons out of the world, and only myself and the scene about me to be in it. When I was young, I thought all the world, as well as myself,

I was wholly taken up in discoursing upon the last new play.

My lord Cromarty, after four-score, went to his country-house in Scotland, with a resolution to stay six years there and live thriftily, in order to save up money, that he might spend in London.

It is said of the horses in the vision, that “their power was in their mouths and in their tails.” What is said of horses in the vision, in reality may be said of women.

Elephants are always drawn smaller than life, but a flea always larger.

When old folks tell us of many passages in their youth between them and their company, we are apt to think how much happier those times were than the present.

Why does the elder sister dance barefoot, when the younger is married before her? Is it not that she may appear shorter and consequently be thought younger than the bride ?

No man will take counsel, but every man will take money: therefore money

is better than counsel. I never yet knew a wag (as the term is,) who was not a dunce.

A person reading to me a dull poem of his own making, I prevailed on him to scratch out six lines together; in turning over the leaf, the ink being wet, it marked as many lines on the other side; whereof the poet complaining, I bid him be easy, "for it would be better if those were out too."

At Windsor I was observing to my lord Bolingbroke, “ that the tower where the maids of honor lodged (who at that time were very handsome) was much frequented with crows." My lord said, "it was because they smelled carrion.”




Good manners is the art of making those people easy with whom

we converse.

Whoever makes the fewest persons uneasy is the best bred in the company.

As the best law is founded upon reason, so are the best manners. And as some lawyers have introduced unreasonable things into common law, so likewise many teachers have introduced absurd things into common good manners.

One principal point of this art is, to suit our behavior to the three several degrees of men; our superiors, our equals, and those below us.

For instance, to press either of the two former to eat or drink is a breach of manners; but a tradesman or a farmer must be thus treated, or else it will be difficult to persuade them that they are welcome.

Pride, ill-nature, and want of sense, are the three great sources of ill-manners: without some one of these defects, no man will behave himself ill for want of experience, or of what, in the language of fools, is called knowing the world.

I defy any one to assign an incident wherein reason will not direct us what to say or do in company, if we are not misled by pride or ill-nature.

Therefore I insist that good sense is the principal foundation of good manners; but because the former is a gift which very few among mankind are possessed of, therefore all the civilized nations of the world have agreed upon fixing some rules upon common behavior best suited to their general customs or fancies, as a kind of artificial good sense, to supply the defects of reason. Without which the gentlemanly part of dunces would be perpetually at cuffs, as they seldom fail when they happen to be drunk, or engaged in squabbles about women or play. And, God be thanked, there hardly happens a duel in a year, which may not be imputed to one of these three motives. Upon which account, I should be exceed

1“ The result of much good sense, some good nature, and a little self-denial for the sake of others, and with a view to obtain the same indulgence from them."LORD CHESTERFIELD.


ingly sorry to find the legislature make any new laws against the practice of duelling; because the methods are easy and many for a wise man to avoid a quarrel with honor, or engage in it with inno

And I can discover no political evil in suffering bullies, sharpers, and rakes, to rid the world of each other by a method of their own, where the law has not been able to find an expedient.

As the common forms of good manners were intended for regulating the conduct of those who have weak understandings; so they have been corrupted by the persons for whose use they were contrived. For these people have fallen into a needless and endless way of multiplying ceremonies, which have been extremely troublesome to those who practise them, and insupportable to everybody else : insomuch that wise men are often more uneasy at the overcivility of these refiners than they could possibly be in the conversation of peasants or mechanics.

The impertinencies of this ceremonial behavior are nowhere better seen than at those tables where the ladies preside, who value themselves upon account of their good-breeding; where a man must reckon upon passing an hour without doing any one thing he has a mind to; unless he will be so hardy as to break through all the settled decorum of the family. She determines what he loves best, and how much he shall eat; and if the master of the house happens to be of the same disposition, he proceeds in the same tyrannical manner to prescribe in the drinking part: at the same time you are under the necessity of answering a thousand apologies for your entertainment. And although a good deal of this humor is pretty well worn off among many people of the best fashion, yet too much of it still remains, especially in the country; where an honest gentleman assured me, that having been kept four days against his will at a friend's house, with all the circumstances of hiding his boots, locking up

the stable, and other contrivances of the like nature, he could not remember, from the moment he came into the house to the moment he left it, any one thing wherein his inclination was not directly contradicted; as if the whole family had entered into a combination to torment him.

But, beside all this, it would be endless to recount the many foolish and ridiculous accidents I have observed among these unfortunate proselytes to ceremony. I have seen a duchess fairly knocked down, by the precipitancy of an officious coxcomb running to save her the trouble of opening a door. I remember, upon a birth-day at court, a great lady was rendered utterly disconsolate by a dish of

[ocr errors]


sauce let fall by a page directly upon her head-dress and brocade, while she gave a sudden turn to her elbow upon some point of ceremony with the person who sat next to her. Monsieur Buys, the Dutch envoy, whose politics and manners were much of a size, brought a son with him, about thirteen years old, to a great table at court. The boy and his father, whatever they put on their plates, they first offered round in order, to every person in company; so that we could not get a minute's quiet during the whole dinner. At last their two plates happened to encounter, and with so much violence, that, being china, they broke in twenty pieces, and stained half the company with wet sweet-meats and cream.

There is a pedantry in manners, as in all arts and sciences; and sometimes in trades. Pedantry is properly the over-rating of any kind of knowledge we pretend to. And if that kind of knowledge be a trifle in itself, the pedantry is the greater. For which reason I look upon fiddlers, dancing-masters, heralds, masters of the ceremony, &c., to be greater pedants than Lipsius, or the elder Scaliger. With this kind of pedants, the court, while I knew it, was always plentifully stocked; I mean from the gentleman usher (at least) inclusive, downward to the gentleman porter: who are, generally speaking, the most insignificant race of people that this island can afford, and with the smallest tincture of good manners; which is the only trade they profess. For, being wholly illiterate, and conversing chiefly with each other, they reduce the whole system of breeding within the forms and circles of their several offices : and, as they are below the notice of ministers, they live and die in court under all revolutions, with great obsequiousness to those who are in any degree of credit or favor, and with rudeness and insolence to everybody else. Whence I have long concluded, that good manners are not a plant of the court growth : for if they were, those people, who have understandings directly of a level for such acquirements, who have served such long apprenticeships to nothing else, would certainly have picked them up. For, as to the great officers, who attend the prince's person or councils, or preside in his family, they are a transient body, who have no better a title to good manners than their neighbors, nor will probably have recourse to gentlemen ushers for instruction. So that I know little to be learned at court upon this head, except in the material circumstance of dress; wherein the authority of the maids of honor must indeed be allowed to be almost equal to that of a favorite actress.

I remember a passage my lord Bolingbroke told me; that going


« PreviousContinue »