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out spirit, and without the power of exerting it ; with the additional reflection of having himself been the cause of his distresses.
Nor, is it only in the affirmative use of the term that I have to complain of its perversion; the same injustice takes place when it is applied in the negative. Calling an intemperate and ruined prodigal a MAN OF SPIRIT,' may proceed sometimes from pity; but when you hear a man of moderation and virtue, especially if he happen also to be opulent, blamed as “ wanting spirit,' the accusation is generally the child of detraction and malignity. I do not apply my observation to the avaricious and niggardly, to men whose purses are shut against their friends, and whose doors are barred against every body; such men certainly want spirit, and are, for the most part, defective in every virtue ; but I am afraid that it often happens
person, benevolent to his friends, hospitable to the deserving, kind to his servants, and indulgent to his children, is blamed as " wanting spirit,' for no reason but because he is proof against the absurdities of fashion and vanity, because he guards against the tricks of the designing, despises the opinions and disapprobation of the foolish, and persists in that train of moderate æconomy, which he knows is best suited to his fortune and rational views.
Instead of wanting spirit,' such a character is the true idea of a man of spirit.' In
every part of his manners and conduct, he passes through life with an uniform steadiness and dignity. His moderation secures his independence, and his attention supplies the means of hospitality and benevolence. While the prodigal is running his feverous and distempered course, the man of moderation and virtue proceeds in a train of quiet contentment and respectable industry; and, at the end of their race,
when the prodigal, with a shattered constitution, without fortune, and without friends, is in absolute want, or, at best, become the mean flatterer of some insolent minion of wealth or power; the man of moderation and virtue, feeling his independence without pride, is happy in himself, useful to his family and friends, and beneficent to mankind, contributing perhaps, from charity, not respect, his assistance to that very decayed prodigal who had frequently characterised him as a man of no spirit.
But it was not my purpose to delineate at length the character of a real man of spirit.'—I proposed only to explode a very absurd and mischievous abuse of an epithet that too generally prevails. I shall therefore conclude, with assuring those who are ambitious of being 'men of spirit,' by putting on the life and manners of an intemperate prodigal, that, though they may attain the character, and even preserve it after their tunes are spent, and their constitutions broken ; yet they will be men • of spirit' only nominally, and in the mouths of the world ; in reality, and in their hearts, they will be the meanest as well as the most unhappy of mankind, lingering out a useless and contemptible life, on which intemperance has entailed disease, and extravagance and profusion inflicted poverty and dependence.
I am, &c.
My Correspondent has confined his observations to one half of the world, and remarked the abuse of the term spirit, when applied to the men only. Might he not have extended his remarks a little farther,
and traced the application of the phrase to the conduct and behaviour of the other sex? Perhaps, indeed, the character is not so universally in repute, as to come within the line of Moderatus's complaint ; but the thing is more in vogue than it seems to have been at any period of which my predecessors, who are a sort of chroniclers of manners and fashions, have preserved the history,
In London, to which place we are always to look for the • Glass of Fashion,' the ladies, not satisfied with shewing their spirit in the bold look, the masculine air, and the manly garb, have made inroads into a province from which they were formerly considered as absolutely excluded ; I mean that of pub. lic oratory. Half a dozen societies have started up this winter, in which female speakers exercise their powers
of elocution before numerous audiences, and canvass all manner of subjects with the freedom and spirit of the boldest male orators. We, in Edinburgh, have not yet attempted to rival the polite people of the metropolis in this respect: some of our ladies, however, do all they can to put us on a footing with them. There is seldom a crowded play, or a full concert, at which some of our public speakers do not exert themselves with a most laudable spirit to drown the declamation of the stage, or the music of the orchestra,
Nor is the ambition of those spirited ladies satis. fied with speaking in public, and carrying off the attention of the audience from the voice of the actor, or the tones of the musician. The public eye, as well as ear, is to be commanded ; and, in the side-box of the theatre, or the front-bench of the concert room, there is often such a collection of beauty, animated with so much spirit of exhibition, that it is impossible the male part of the company should look at the scene, or think of the music. One
of my predecessors has mentioned the art which the ladies of his day used in the unfurling of their fans, so as to display certain little Cupids and Ven which lurked in in their folds. Had he seen some of our ladies in the attitudes which modern spirit has taught them to assume—such unfurlings and unfoldings-his Venuses and Cupids were mere ice and snow to them.
It is but justice to those ladies to remark, that this part of their behaviour seems calculated merely to shew their accomplishment in fashionable freedom of manner, without any motive of an interested or selfish kind. They are contented with the reputation of ease and spirit, without procuring much in. dulgence from the one or licence from the other. I have sometimes, however, been inclined to think, that there was a degree of unfairness in this, and to doubt, if a lady was entitled thus to hang out false colours, and to be in reality innocent and harmless, while she was quite a different sort of creature in appearance. I could not help allowing some justice in the complaint of a girl, whom I overheard some weeks ago, in the passage
from the upper boxes, thus addressing her companion: Did you observe • that pert, giggling, naked thing in the stage• box? There's not a man in the house she cares a
farthing for; and yet she has the assurance to look • like one of us.'
No 103. TUESDAY, MAY 2, 1780.
To the Author of the Mirror.
From my earliest infancy I have been remarkable for good-humour, and a gentle, complying, inoffensive disposition ; qualities which, I am told, I inherit of my father, the late Mr. Paul Softly, an eminent linen-draper. Though I myself soon recover any disappointment or contradiction I meet with; yet so tender is my regard to the feelings of others, that I am led somehow, constitutionally, and almost against my reason, to comply with their requests, humour them in their foibles, and acquiesce in their opinions. I cannot bear, Mr. Mirror, it hurts me more than you can imagine, to disappoint the hopes or withstand the solicitation of any human being whatever. There is a sturdy, idle, impudent, merry. looking dog of a sailor, with a wooden leg, stationed at the corner of the street where I live, who, I do believe, has established himself as a pensioner upon me for life, by the earnestness of his tones, and his constant prayers to Heaven for blessings on my good
Often and often have I been engaged in midnight riots, though fond of peace and good neighbourhood; and frequently, though I abhor wine, have I been betrayed into intoxication, from a want of power to resist the hospitable importunity of my landlord pressing me to fill a bumper.
From this I would not have you imagine that I am devoid of resolution, or a will of my own. On