網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

In the first place, true honour, though it be a different principle from religion, is that which produces the same effects. The lines of action, though drawn from different parts, ierininate in the same point. Religion embraces virtue, as it is enjoined by the laws of God; honour as it is grac fil and ornamental to human nature. The religious min fears, the man of honour scorns to do an ill action. The latter considers vice. as something that is. beneath him, the other as something that is offensive to the Divine Bring. The one as what is unbecoming, the other as what is forbidden. Thus Seneca speaks in the natural and genuine language of a man if honour, when he declares, that were there no God to see or punish vice, he would not commit it, because it is of so mean, so base, and so vile a naiure.

I shall conclude this head with the description of kronour in the parting of young Juba.

Honour's a sacred tie, the law of kings,
The noble mind's distinguishing perfection,
That aids and strengthens virtue when it meets her,
And imitates her actions where she is not.
It ought not to be sported with..

CATо. In the second place, we are to consider those who have mistaken notions of honour. And these are such as establish any thing in themselves for a point of honour which is contrary either to the laws of God or of their country ; who think it more honourable to revenge than to forgive an injury; who make no scruple of telling a lie, but would put any man to death that accuses thein of it; who are more careful to guard their reputa ion by their courage ihan by their virtue. True fortitule is indeed so becoming in human nature, that he why wants it scarce deserves the name of a man ; but we find several who so much abuse this notion, that they place the whole idea of honour in a kind of brutal courage; by which means we hare had many among us who have called ihemselves men of honour, that would have been a disgrace to a gibbet. In a woril, the man who sacrifices any duty of a reasonable creature 10 a prevailing niode or fashion, who locks upon any thing as honourable that is displeasing to his Maker, or dest: uctive to society, who thinks him, elf oba

liged by this principle to the practice of some virtues and not of others, is by no means to be reckoned among true men of honour.

Timogenes was a lively instance of one actuated by false honour. Timogenes would smile at a mau's jest who ridiculed his Maker, and at the same time run a man througlo the body that spoke ill of lois friend. Timogenes would have scorned 10' have betrayed a secret, that was intrusted with him, though the fate of his country depended upon the discovery of it. Timogènes 10vk away the life of a young fellow in a duel, for having spoke ill of Belinda, a lady whom he himself had seduced in her youth, and betrayed into want and ignominy. To close his character, Timogenes, atier having ruined several pour tradesmen's families who hail trusted him, sold his estate to satisfy his creditors; but, like a man of honour, disposed of all ihe money he could make of it, in the paying of his play-debts, or to speak in his own language, his debts of honour.

In the third place, we are to consider those persons, who treat this principle as chimerical, and turn it into ridicule. Men who are professedly of no honour, are of a more profligate and abandoned nature than even those who are actuated by false notions of it, as there is more hope of a heretic ihan of an atheist. These sons of infamy consider honour with old Syphax, in the play before mentioned, as a fine imaginary notion that leads astray young inexperienced men, and draws them into real mischiefs, while they are engaged in the pursuits of a shadow. These are generally persons u ho, in Snakspeare's phrase,

are worn and backney'd in the ways of men;" whose imaginations are grown callous, and have lost all those delicate sentiments which are natural 10 minds that are innocent and undepraved.

Such old baltered miscreants ridicule every thing as romantic that comes in competition with their present interests, and treat those persons as visionaries, who dare stand up in a corrupt age, for what has not its immediate reu ard joined to, it. The talents, inte. rest, or experience of such men, niake them very often useful in all parties and at all limes. But whatever wealih and dignities they may arrive at, they ought to consider that every one stands as a blut in the annals of liis coun

try, who arrives at the temple of honour by any other way than through that of virtue.

GUARDIAN.

CHAPTER V.

ON GOOD HUMOUR.

Goon Humour may be defined a habit of being pleased ; a constant and perpetual softness of manner, easiness of approach, and suavity of disposition; like that which every man perceives in himself, when the first transports of new telicity have subsided, and his thoughts are only kept in motion by a slow succession of soft impulses, Good hunjour is a state between gaiety and unconcern ; the act or emanation of a niind at leisure to regard the gratification of another.

It is imagined by many, that whenever they aspire lo please, they are required to be merry, and to show the gladness of their souls by flights and pleasantry, and bursis of laughter. : But though ibese men may be for a time heard with applause and admiration, they seldom delight us long. We enjoy them a little, and then retire to easiness and good humour, as the eye gazes awhile on eminences glittering with the sun, but soon turns aching away to verdure and to flowers,

Gaiety is to good humoor az animal perfumes to vegetable fragrance; the one overpowers weak spirits, and the other recreates and revives them. Gaiety seldom fails to give some pain; the hearers either strain their faculties to accompany its towerings, or are left behind in envy and despair.

Good huniour boasts no faculties which every one does not believe in his power, and pleases principally by not offending.

It is well known, that the most certain way to give any nian pleasure, is to persuade him that you receive pleasure from him, to encourage him to freedom and confidence, .and to avoid any such appearance of superiority as may overbear and depress him. We see many that by ibis art

only, spend their days in the midst of caresses, invitations, and civilities; and without any extraordinary qualities or attainments, are the universal favourites of both sexes, and certainly find a friend in every place. The darlings of the world will, indeed, be generally found such as excite neither jealousy nor fear; and are not considered as candidates for any eminent degree of reputation, but content themselves with common accomplishments, and endeavour rather to solicit kindness than to raise esteem. Therefore in assemblies and places of resort it seldom fails to happen, that though at the entrance of some particular person every face brightens with gladness, and every hand is extended in salutation, yet if you pursue him beyond the first exchange of civilities, you will find him of very small importance, and only welcome to the company, as one by whom all conceive themselves admired, and with whon any one is at liberty to amuse himself when he can find no other auditor or companion; as one with whom all are at ease, who will hear a jest without criticism, and a narra. tive without contradiction ; who laughs with every wit, and yields to every disputer.

There are many whose vanity always incline them to associate with those from whom they have no reason to fear mortification ; and there are times in which the wise and the knowing are willing to receive praise without the labour of deserving is, in which the most elevated mind is willing to descend, and the most active to be at rest. All therefore are at some hour or another fond of companions whom they can entertain upon easy terms, and who will relieve then from solitude, wiihout condemning them to vigilance and caution. We are most inclined to love when we have nothing to fear; and he that encourages us to please ourselves, will not be long without preference in our affection to those whose learning holds us at the distance of pupils, or whose wit calls all attention from us, and leaves us without importance and without regard.

It is remarked by prince Henry, when he sees Falstaff lying on the ground, " that he could have better spared a

He was well acquainted with the vices and follies of himn whom he lamented; but while his conviction compelled him to do justice to superior qualities, his

better man.”

tenderness still broke out at the remembrance of Falstaff, of the cheerful coupanion, the loud buffoon, with whom he had passed bis time in all the luxury of idleness, who had gladdened him with unenvied merriment, and whom he could at onee enjoy and despise.

You may perhaps think this account of those who are di-tinguished for their good humour; not very consistent with the praises which I have bestowed upon it. But surely nothing can more evidently show the value of this quality, than that it recommends those who are destitute of all other excellencies, and procures regard to the trifling, friendship to the worihless, and affectinn to the dullo.

Good hudiour is indeed generally degraded by the cha. racters in which it is found; for being considerrd as a .eheap and vulgar quality, we find it often neglected by those that have excelleneies of higher reputation and brightersplendour, u ho perlaps imagine that they have some right to gratify themselves at the expense of orhers, and are to demand compliance rather than to practise it. It is by some unfortunale mistake that almost all those who have any claim to esteem or lore, press their pretensions with too little consideration of others. This mistake my. own interest as well as my zeal for general happiness makes me desirous to rectify; for I have a friend, who because he knows his own fidelity and usefulness; is never willing to sink into a companion. I have a wife whose beauty first subdued me, and whose wit confirmed her conquest; but whose beauty now serves no other purpose than 10 entitle her to tyranny, and whose wit is only used to jus. tify perverseness.

Surely nothing can be more unreasonable than to lose the will to please, when we are conscious of the power, or show more crueliy ihan to choose any kind of influence before that of kndness: He that regards the welfare of others, should make his virtue approachable, that it may be loved and copied; and he that considers the wants which every man feels, or will feel, of external assistance, niust rather wish to be surrounded by those that love him than by those that admire his excellencies, or solicit his favours; for admiration ceases with novelty, and interest gains its end and jetires. A man whose great qualities

« 上一頁繼續 »