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acquired their reputation by their parts, their learning, their good breeding, and other accomplishments, and are only blemished and lowered, in the opinions of all reasonable people, and of their own in time, by these genteel and fashionable vices.



BATH, Oct. 19, 0. s. 1748. DEAR Boy, -Having in my last pointed out what sort of company you should keep, I will now give you some rules for your conduct in it, -rules which my own experience and observation enable me to lay down and communicate to you with some degree of confidence. I have often given you hints of this kind before, but then it has been by snatches; I will now be more regular and methodical. I shall say nothing with regard to your bodily carriage and address, but leave them to the care of your dancing master and to your own attention to the best models; remember, however, that they are of consequence.

Talk often, but never long; in that case, if you do not please, at least you are sure not to tire your hearers. Pay your own reckoning, but do not treat the whole company,— this being one of the very few cases in which people do not care to be treated, every one being fully convinced that he has where

withal to pay

Tell stories very seldom, and absolutely never but where they are very apt and very short. Omit every circumstance that is not material, and beware of digressions. To have frequent recourse to narrative betrays great want of imagination.

Never hold anybody by the button or the hand in order to be heard out; for if people are not willing to hear you, you had much better hold your tongue than them.

Most long talkers single out some one unfortunate man in company (commonly him whom they observe to be the most silent, or their next neighbor) to whisper, or at least in a half voice to convey a continuity of words to. This is excessively ill bred, and in some degree a fraud, - conversation stock being a joint and common property. But on the other hand, if one of these unmerciful talkers lays hold of you, hear him with patience, and at least seeming attention, if he is worth obliging,- for nothing will oblige him more than a patient hearing, as nothing would hurt him more than either to leave him in the midst of his discourse, or to discover your impatience under

your affliction.

Take, rather than give, the tone of the company you are in. If you have parts, you will show them more or less upon every subject; and if you have not, you had better talk sillily upon a subject of other people's than of your own choosing.

Avoid as much as you can, in mixed companies, argumentative, polemical conversations, - which though they should not, yet certainly do, indispose for a time the contending parties toward each other; and if the controversy grows warm and noisy, endeavor to put an end to it by some genteel levity or joke. I quieted such a conversation hubbub once by representing to them that though I was persuaded none there present would repeat out of company what passed in it, yet I could not answer for the discretion of the passengers in the street, who must necessarily hear all that was said.

Above all things, and upon all occasions, avoid speaking of yourself, if it be possible. Such is the natural pride and vanity of our hearts that it perpetually breaks out, even in people of the best parts, in all the various modes and figures of the egotism.

Some abruptly speak advantageously of themselves, without either pretense or provocation. They are impudent. Others proceed more artfully as they imagine, and forge accusations against themselves, complain of calumnies which they never heard, in order to justify themselves by exhibiting a catalogue of their many virtues. “They acknowledge it may indeed seem odd that they should talk in that manner of themselves; it is what they do not like, and what they never would have done,

tortures should ever have forced it from them, if they had not been thus unjustly and monstrously accused! But in these cases justice is surely due to one's self as well as to others, and when our character is attacked, we may say in our own justification what otherwise we never would have said.” This thin veil of modesty drawn before vanity is much too transparent to conceal it even from very moderate discernment.

Others go more modestly and more slyly still (as they think) to work, but in my mind, still more ridiculously. They confess themselves (not without some degree of shame and confusion) into all the cardinal virtues by first degrading them into weaknesses, and then owning their misfortune in

being made up of those weaknesses. “They cannot see people suffer without sympathizing with and endeavoring to help them. They cannot see people want without relieving them, though truly their own circumstances cannot very well afford it. They cannot help speaking truth, though they know all the imprudence of it. In short they know that with all these weaknesses, they are not fit to live in the world, much less to thrive in it; but they are now too old to change, and must rub on as well as they can.” This sounds too ridiculous and outré, almost, for the stage; and yet, take my word for it, you will frequently meet with it upon the common stage of the world. And here I will observe, by the by, that you will often meet with characters in Nature so extravagant, that a discreet poet would not venture to set them upon the stage in their true and high coloring.

This principle of vanity and pride is so strong in human nature that it descends even to the lowest objects; and one often sees people angling for praise, where, admitting all they say to be true (which, by the way, it seldom is), no just praise is to be caught. One man affirms that he has rode post an hundred miles in six hours: probably it is a lie; but supposing it to be true, what then? Why, he is a very good postboy, that is all. Another asserts, and probably not without oaths, that he has drunk six or eight bottles of wine at a sitting; out of charity, I will believe him a liar, for if I do not I must think him a beast.

Such, and a thousand more, are the follies and extravagances which vanity draws people into, and which always defeat their own purpose; and as Waller says, upon another subject, —

Make the wretch the most despised

Where most he wishes to be prized. The only sure way of avoiding these evils is never to speak of yourself at all. But when, historically, you are obliged to mention yourself, take care not to drop one single word that can directly or indirectly be construed as fishing for applause. Be your character what it will, it will be known; and nobody will take it upon your own word. Never imagine that anything you can say yourself will varnish your defects or add luster to your perfections; but on the contrary it may, and nine times in ten will, make the former more glaring and the latter obscure. If you are silent upon your own subject, neither

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envy, indignation, nor ridicule will obstruct or allay the applause which you may really deserve; but if you publish your own panegyric upon any occasion, or in any shape whatsoever, and however artfully dressed or disguised, they will all conspire against you, and you will be disappointed of the very end you aim at.

Take care never to seem dark and mysterious, - which is not only a very unamiable character but a very suspicious one too. If you seem mysterious with others, they will be really so with you, and you will know nothing. The height of abilities is to have volto sciolto and pensieri stretti ; that is, a frank, open, and ingenuous exterior with a prudent interior; to be upon your own guard, and yet by a seeming natual openness to put people off theirs. Depend upon it, nine in ten of every company you are in will avail themselves of every indiscreet and unguarded expression of yours, if they can turn it to their own advantage. A prudent reserve is, therefore, as necessary as a seeming openness is prudent. Always look people in the face when you speak to them; the not doing it is thought to imply conscious guilt. Besides that, you lose the advantage of observing by their countenances what impression your discourse makes upon them.

them. In order to know people's real sentiments, I trust much more to my eyes than to my ears; for they can say whatever they have a mind I should hear, but they can seldom help looking what they have no intention that I should know.

Neither retail nor receive scandal willingly; defamation of others may for the present gratify the malignity of the pride of our hearts, cool reflection will draw very disadvantageous conclusions from such a disposition; and in the case of scandal, as in that of robbery, the receiver is always thought as bad as the thief.

Mimicry, which is the common and favorite amusement of little, low minds, is in the utmost contempt with great ones. It is the lowest and most illiberal of all buffoonery. Pray, neither practice it yourself nor applaud it in others. Besides that, the person mimicked is insulted, and as I have often observed to you before, an insult is never forgiven.

I need not, I believe, advise you to adapt your conversation to the people you are conversing with, — for I suppose you would not, without this caution, have talked upon the same subject, and in the same manner, to a minister of state, a bishop, a philosopher, a captain, and a woman. A man of the world must, like the chameleon, be able to take every different hue, which is by no means a criminal or abject, but a necessary complaisance; for it relates only to manners and not to morals.

One word only as to swearing, and that, I hope and believe, is more than is necessary. You may sometimes hear some people in good company interlard their discourse with oaths, by way of embellishment, as they think; but you must observe too, that those who do so are never those who contribute in any degree to give that company the denomination of good company. They are always subalterns, or people of low education; for that practice, besides that it has no one temptation to plead, is as silly and as illiberal as it is wicked.

Loud laughter is the mirth of the mob, who are only pleased with silly things; for true wit or good sense never excited a laugh since the creation of the world. A man of parts and

A fashion is therefore only seen to smile, but never heard to laugh.

But to conclude this long letter: all the above-mentioned rules, however carefully you may observe them, will lose half their effect if unaccompanied by the Graces. Whatever you say, if you say it with a supercilious, cynical face, or an embarrassed countenance, or a silly, disconcerted grin, will be ill received. If, into the bargain, you mutter it, or utter it indistinctly and ungracefully, it will be still worse received. If your air and address are vulgar, awkward, and gauche, you may be esteemed indeed, if you have great intrinsic merit, but you will never please; and without pleasing, you will rise but heavily. Venus among the ancients was synonymous with the Graces, who were always supposed to accompany her; and Horace tells us that even youth, and Mercury, the God of arts and eloquence, would not do without her,

Parum comis sine te Juventas Mercuriusque. They are not inexorable ladies, and may be had, if properly and diligently pursued. Adieu.

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