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• for their favour much better than words could do ; and we find their generosity naturally moved to
support those who are in so much perplexity to en• tertain them. I was extremely pleased with a late • instance of this kind at the opera of Almahide, in the encouragement given to a young singer, whose more than ordinary concern on her first appearance, • recommended her no less than her agreeable voice,
and just performance. Mere bashfulness without • merit is awkward ; and merit without modesty, in
l solent : but modest merit has a double claim to ac'ceptance, and generally meets with as many pa(trons as beholders.
· I am, &c.'
It is impossible that a person should exert himself to advantage in an assembly, whether it be his part either to sing or speak, who lies under too great oppressions of modesty. I remember, upon talking with a friend of mine, concerning the force of pronunciation, our discourse led us into the enumeration of the several organs of speech which an orator ought to have in perfection, as the tongue, the teeth, the lips, the nose, the palate, and the wind-pipe. Upon which, says my friend, you have omitted the most material organ of them all, and that is the forehead.
But notwithstanding an excess of modesty obstructs the tongue, and renders it unfit for its offices, a due proportion of it is thought so requisite to an orator, that rhetoricians have recommended it to their disciples as a particular in their art. Cicero tells us that he never liked an orator, who did not appear in some little confusion at the beginning of his speech, and confesses that he himself never entered upon an oration without trembling and concern.
It is indeed a kind of deference which is due to a great assembly, and seldom fails to raise a benevolence in the audience towards the person who speaks. My correspond
dent has taken notice that the bravest men often appear timorous on these occasions, as indeed we may observe, that there is generally no creature more impudent than a coward.
.Linguâ melior, sed frigida bello
Bold at the council-board;
A bold tongue and a feeble arm are the qualifications of Drances in Virgil ; as Homer, to express a man both timorous and saucy, makes use of a kind of point, which is very rarely to be met with in his writings; namely, that he had the eyes of a dog, but the heart of a deer.
A just and reasonable modesty does not only recommend eloquence, but sets off every great talent which a man can be possessed of. It heightens all the virtues which it accompanies ; like the shades in paintings, it raises and rounds every figure, and makes the colours more beautiful, though not so glaring as it would be without it.
Modesty is not only an ornament but also a guard to virtue. It is a kind of quick and delicate feeling in the soul, which makes her shrink and withdraw herself from every thing that has danger in it. It is such an exquisite sensibility, as warns her to shun the first appearance of every thing which is hurtful.
I cannot at present recollect either the place or time of what I am going to mention ; but I have read some where in the history of ancient Greece, that the women of the country were seized with an unaccountable melancholy, which disposed several of them to make away with themselves. The senate, after having tried many expedients to prevent this selfmurder, which was so frequent among them, pub:
lished an edict, that if any woman whatever should lay violent hands upon herself, her corpse should be exposed naked in the street, and dragged about the city in the most public manner. This edict immediately put a stop to the practice which was before so common. We may see in this instance the strength of female modesty, which was able to overcome the violence even of madness and despair. The fear of shame in the fair sex, was in those days more prevalent than that of death.
If modesty has so great an influence over our actions, and is in many cases, so impregnable a fence to virtue ; what can more undermine morality than that politeness which reigns among the unthinking part of mankind, and treats as unfashionable the most ingenuous part of our behaviour; which recommends impudence as good breeding, and keeps a man always in countenance, not because he is innocent, but because he is shameless ?
Seneca thought modesty so great a check to vice, that he prescribes to us the practice of it in secret, and advises us to raise it in ourselves upon imaginary occasions, when such as are real do not offer themselves; for this is the meaning of his precept, that when we are by ourselves, and in our greatest solitudes, we should fancy that Cato stands before us and sees every thing we do. In short, if you banish mo. desty out of the world, she carries away with her half the virtue that is in it.
After these reflections on modesty, as it is a virtue, I must observe that there is a vicious modesty, which justly deserves to be ridiculed, and which those persons very often discover, who value themselves most upon a well-bred confidence. This happens when a man is ashamed to act up to his reason, and would not, upon any consideration, be surprised in the practice of those duties, for the performance of which he was sent into the world. Many an impudent libertine
would blush to be caught in a serious discourse, and would scarce be able to shew his head, after having disclosed a religious thought. Decency of behaviour, all outward show of virtue, and abhorrence of vice, are carefully avoided by this set of shame-faced people, as what would disparage their gaiety of temper, and infallibly bring them to dishonour. This is such a poorness of spirit, such a despicable cowardice, such a degenerate abject state of mind, as one would think human nature incapable of, did we not meet with frequent instances of it in ordinary conversation.
There is another kind of vicious modesty which makes a man ashamed of his person, his birth, his profession, his poverty, or the like misfortunes, which it was not in his choice to prevent, and is not in his power to rectify. If a man appears ridiculous by any of the aforementioned circumstances, he becomes much more so by being out of countenance for them. They should rather give him occasion to exert a noble spirit, and to palliate those imperfections which are not in his power, by those perfections which are ; or, to use a very witty allusion of an eminent author, he should imitate Cæsar, who, because his head was bald, covered that defect with laurels.
No. CCXXXII. MONDAY, NOVEMBER 26.
Nihil largiundo gloriam adeptus est. SALLUST.
MY wise and good friend, Sir Andrew Freeport, divides himself almost equally between the town and the country : his time in town is given up to the public, and the management of his private fortune : and after every three or four days spent in this manner, he retires for as many to his seat within a few miles
a of the town, to the enjoyment of himself, his family, and his friend. Thus business and pleasure, or rather, in Sir Andrew, labour and rest, recommend each other. They take their turns with so quick a vicissitude, that neither becomes a habit, or takes possession of the whole inan; nor is it possible he should be surfeited with either. I often see him at our club in good humour, and yet sometimes too with an air of care in his looks : but in his country retreat he is always unbent, and such a companion as I could desire : and therefore I seldom fail to make one with him when he is pleased to invite me.
The other day, as soon as we were got into his chariot, two or three beggars on each side hung upon the doors, and solicited our charity with the usual rhetoric of a sick wife or husband at home, three or four helpless little children, all starving with cold and hunger. We were forced to part with some money to get rid of their importunity; and then we proceeded on our journey with the blessings and acclamations of these people.
“ Well then," says Sir Andrew, 6 we go off with the prayers and good wishes of the beggars, and “ perhaps too our healths will be drank at the next
alehouse : so all we shall be able to value ourselves “ upon, is, that we have promoted the trade of the “ victualler, and the excises of the government. But - how few ounces of wool do we see upon the backs 66. of these poor creatures ? And when they shall next “ fall in our way, they will hardly be better dressed ; “ they must always live in rags to look like objects of
compassion. If their families too are such as they
are represented, it is certain they cannot be better “ clothed, and must be a great deal worse fed: one “ would think potatoes would be all their bread, and “ their drink the pure element; and then what goodly