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An honest ambition for that fame which ought to follow superior talents employed in the exercise of virtue, is one of the best and most useful passions that can take root in the mind of man; and in the language of the Roman poet, Terrarum dominos evehit ad Deos;'-' Heroes lifts to gods.' But when this laudable ambition happens to be joined with great delicacy of taste and sentiment, it is often the source of much misery and uneasiness. In the earlier periods of society, before mankind are corrupted by the excesses of luxury and refinement, the candidates for fame enter the lists upon equal terms, and with a reasonable degree of confidence, that the judgment of their fellow-citizens will give the preference where it is due. In such a contest, even the vanquished have no inconsiderable share of glory; and that virtue which they cultivate, forbids them to withhold their respect and applause from the superiority by which they are overcome.
this the first ages of the Grecian and Roman republics are proper examples, when merit was the only road to fame, because fame was the only reward of merit.
Though it were unjust to accuse the present age of being totally regardless of merit, yet this will not be denied, that there are many other avenues which lead to distinction, many other qualities by which competitors carry away a prize, that, in less corrupted times, could have been attained only by a steady perseverance in the paths of virtue.
When a man of acknowledged honour and abilities, not unconscious of his worth, and possessed of those delicate feelings I have mentioned, sees himself set aside, and obliged to give way to the worthless and contemptible, whose vices are sometimes the means of their promotion, he is too apt to yield to disgust or despair; that sensibility which, with better
fortune, and placed in a more favourable situation, would have afforded him the most elegant pleasures, made him the delight of his friends, and an honour to his country, is in danger of changing him into a morose and surly misanthrope, discontented with himself, the world, and all its enjoyments.
This weakness (and I think it a great one) of quarrelling with the world, would never have been carried the length I have lamented in some of my friends, had they allowed themselves to reflect on the folly of supposing, that the opinions of the rest of mankind are to be governed by the standard which they have been pleased to erect, had they considered what a state of languor and insipidity would be produced, if every individual should have marked out to him the rank he was to hold, and the line in which he was to move, without any danger of being jostled in his progress.
The Author of Nature has diversified the mind of man with different and contending passions, which are brought into action as change of circumstances direct, or as he is pleased to order in the wisdom of his providence. Our limited faculties, far from comprehending the universal scale of being, or taking in at one glance what is best and fittest for the purposes of creation, cannot even determine the best mode of governing the little spot that surrounds us.
I believe most men have, at times, wished to be creators, possessed of the power of moulding the world to their fancy; but they would act more wisely to mould their own prepossessions and prejudices to the standard of the world, which may be done, in every age and situation, without transgressing the bounds of the most rigid virtue. A distaste at mankind never fails to produce peevishness and discontent, the most unrelenting tyrants that ever swayed the human breast; that cloud which they cast upon
the soul shuts out every ray that should warm to manly exertion, and hides in the bosom of indolence and spleen, virtues formed to illumine the world.
I must, therefore, earnestly recommend to my readers to guard against the first approaches of misanthropy, by opposing reason to sentiment, and reflecting on the injury they do themselves and society, by tamely retreating from injustice. The passive virtues only are fit to be buried in a cloister; the firm and active mind disdains to recede, and rises upon opposition.
The cultivation of cheerfulness and good-humour will be found another sovereign antidote to this mental disorder. They are the harbingers of virtue, and produce that serenity which disposes the mind to friendship, love, gratitude, and every other social affection; they make us contented with ourselves, our friends, and our situation, and expand the heart to all the interests of humanity.-T.
N° 40. SATURDAY, JUNE 12, 1779.
'TO THE AUTHOR OF THE MIRROR. 'SIR,
'ACCORDING to my promise, I send you the second division of my lecture on SIMULATION, as it respects the internal part of the science of politeness.
Among barbarous nations, it has been observed, the emotions of the mind are not more violently felt than strongly expressed. Grief, anger, and jealousy, not only tear the heart, but disfigure the countenance; while love, joy, and mirth, have their oppo
site effects on the soul, and are visible, by opposite appearances, in the aspect. Now, as a very refined people are in a state exactly the reverse of a very rude one, it follows that, instead of allowing the passions thus to lord it over their minds and faces, it behoves them to mitigate and restrain those violent emotions, both in feeling and appearance; the latter, at least, is within the power of art and education, and to regulate it is the duty of a well-bred person. On this truly philosophical principle is founded that ease, indifference, or non-chalance, which is the great mark of a modern man of fashion.
"That instance of politeness which I mentioned (somewhat out of place, indeed) in the first part of this discourse, the conduct of a fine lady at a tragedy, is to be carried into situations of real sorrow as much as possible. Indeed, though it may seem a bold assertion, I believe the art of putting on indifference about the real object, is not a whit more difficult than that of assuming it about the theatrical. I have known several ladies and gentlemen who had acquired the first in perfection, without being able to execute the latter, at least to execute it in that masterly manner which marks the performances of an adept.-One night last winter, I heard Bob Bustle talking from a front-box, to an acquaintance in the pit, about the death of their late friend Jack Riot.. Riot is dead, Tom; kick'd this morning, egad!'' Riot dead! poor Jack! what did he die of? One of your damnation apoplectics killed him in the chucking of a bumper; you could scarce have heard him wheazle!'- Damn'd bad that! Jack was an honest fellow!-What becomes of his gray poney? The poney is mine.'-' Yours!'-' Why, yes; I staked my white and liver-coloured bitch Phillis against the gray poney, Jack's life to mine for the season. At that instant, a lady entering the box
(it was about the middle of the fourth act) obliged Bob to shift his place; he sat out of ear-shot of his friend in the pit, biting his nails, and looking towards the stage, in a sort of nothing-to-doish way, just as the last parting scene between Jaffier and Belvidera was going on there. I observed (I confess, with regret, for he is one of my favourite pupils) the progress of its victory over Bob's politeness. He first grew attentive, then hummed a tune, then grew attentive again, then took out his toothpick-case, then looked at the players in spite of him, then grew serious, then agitated,till, at last, he was fairly beat out of his ground, and obliged to take shelter behind Lady Cockatoo's head, to prevent the disgrace of being absolutely seen weeping.
"But to return from this digression.mulation of indifference in affliction is equally a female as a male accomplishment. On the death of a very, very near relation, a husband, for instance, custom has established a practice, which polite people have not yet been able to overcome; a lady must stay at home, and play cards for a week or two. But the decease of any one more distant, she is to talk of as a matter of very little moment, except when it happens on the eve of an assembly, a ball, or a ridotto; at such seasons she is allowed to regret it as a very unfortunate accident. This rule of deportment extends to distresses poignant indeed; as, in perfect good-breeding, the fall of a set of Dresden, the spilling of a plate of soup on a new brocade, or even a bad run of cards, is to be borne with as equal a countenance as may be.
"Anger, the second passion above enumerated, is to be covered with the same cloak of ease and good manners; injury, if of a deep kind, with professions of esteem and friendship. Thus, though it would