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While pleas'd amidst the general shouts of Troy,
He spoke, and fondly gazing on her charms,
Andromache! my soul's far better part,
Thus having faid, the glorious chief resumes
ON MODESTY. I know no two words that have been more abused by the different and wrong interpretations which are put upon 'them, than these two-Modefly and Assurance. To say such a one is a modest man, sometimes indeed passes for a good character; but at present is very often used to fignify a theepish, aukward fellow, who has neither good breeching, politeness, nor any knowledge of the world. i
Again, a man of assurance, though at first only denoting a perfon of free and open carriage, is now very usually applied to a profligate wretch, who can break through all the rules of decency and morality without a blush.
I shall endeavour, therefore, in this essay to restore these words to their true meaning, to prevent the idea of Modelty from being confounded with that of Sheepishness, and to hinder Impudence from passing for Afsurance.
If I was put to define Modesty, I would call it, The reflection of an ingenuous mind, either when a man has committed an action for which he censures himself, or fancies that he is exposed to the censure of others.
For this reason, a man truly modest is as much fo when he is alone as in
company, and as subject to a blush in his closet, as when the eyes of multitudes are upon him.
I do not remember to have met with any instance of modesty with which I am so well pleased, as that celebrata ed one of the young Prince, whose father, being a tributary king to the Romans, had several complaints laid against
him before the Senate, as a tyrant and oppressor of his subjects. The Prince went to Rome to defend his father, but coming into the Senate, and hearing a multitude of crimes proved upon bim, was so oppressed when it came to his turn to speak, that he was unable to utter a word. The story tells us, that the Fathers were more moved at this inAtance 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 his son.
I take Assurance to be, the faculty of possessing a man's self, or of faying and doing indifferent things without any uneasiness or emotion in the mind. That which generally gives a man assurance, 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 assured behaviour is the natural consequence. of such a resolution. A man thus armed, if his words or actions are at any time misinterpreted, retires within him-self, and from a consciousness of his own integrity, afsumes force enough to despise the little censures.of. ignorance or malice.
Every one ought to cherish and encourage in himself the modesty and assurance I have here mentioned;
A man without assurance is liable to be made uneasy by the folly or ill-nature of every one he converses with. A 'man without modesty is lost to all sense of honour and virtue.
It is more than probable, that the Prince above-mentioned poffeffed both these qualifications in a very eminent degree. Without assurance he would never have undertaken to speak before the most august assembly in the world; without modesty, he would have pleaded the cause he had taken upon him, though it had appeared "ever so scandalous.
From what has been said, it is plain that modesty and
assurance are both amiable, and may very well meet in the fame person. When they are thus mixed and blended together, they compose what we endeavour to express, when we say, a modest assurance; by which we undera stand the just mean between bashfulness and impudence.
I fhall conclude with observing, that as the same man may be both modest and assured ; so it is also possible for che fame person to be both impudent and bashful.
We have frequent instances 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 sentence without confusion, can voluntarily commit the greatest villanies, or most indecent actions.
Such a person seems to have made a resolution to do ill even in spite of himself, and in defiance of all those checks and restraints his temper and complexion seem to have laid
in his way:
Upon the whole, I would endeavour to establish this maxim. That the practice of virtue is the most proper method to give a man a becoming assurance in his words and actions. Guilt always seeks to shelter itself in one of the extreines, and is sometimes attended with both.
ON CHEERFULNESS. I have always preferred Cheerfulness to Mirth. The latter Iconsider as an act, the former as a habit of the mind, Mirth is short and transient, Cheersulness fixed and permanent. Those are often raised into the greatest trans. ports of mirth, who are subject to the greatest depressions of melancholy : on the contrary, cheerfulness, though it does not give the mind such an exquisite gladness, prevents
us from falling into any depths of sorrow. Mirth is like a flaih 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 serenity.
Men of austere principles look upon mirth as ioo wan. ton and dissolute for a state of probation, and as filled with a certain triumph and in folence of heart that is inconfiftent with a life which is every moment obnoxious to the greatest dangers. Writers of this complexion have observed, that the Sacred Person, who was the great pattern of perfection, was never seen to laugh.
Cheerfulness of mind is not liable to any of these exceptions; it is of a serious and composed nature: it does. not throw the mind into a condition improper for the present state of humanity, and is very conspicuous in the characlers of those who are looked upon as the greatest philosophers among the Heathens, as well as among those who have been delervedly esteemed as saints and holy men among Christians.
If we consider Cheerfulness in three lights, with regard to ourselves, to thoe 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 possessed of this excellent frame of mind, is not only easy in his thoughts, but a perfect master of all the powers and faculties of his soul; his imaginition is always clear, and his judgment undifturb'd; his temper is even and un· ruffied, whether in action or in folitude. He comes with a relish to all those goods which nature has provided for him, tastes 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 consider him in relation to the persons whom he converses with, it naturally produces love and good-will