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tion to this, it will in a little time become easy and habitual to you.
30. Pay an attention also to your looks and your gesture when talking even on the most trifling subjects; things appear very different according as they are expressed, looked and delivered
Now, if it is necessary to attend so particularly to our manner of speaking, it is much more so, with respect to the matter, Fine turns of expression, a genteel and correct stile are ornaments as requisite to common sense as polite behaviour and an elegant address are to common good manners; they are great assistance in the point of pleasing. A gentleman, it is true, may be known in the meanest garb, but it admits not of a doubt, that he would be better received into good company genteelly and fashionably dressed, than were he to appear in dirt and tatters.
31. Be careful then of your stile upon all occasions; whether you write or speak, study for the best words and best expres. sions, even in common conversation and the most familiar letters. This will prevent your speaking in a hurry, than which nothing is more vulgar; though you may be a little embarrassed at first, time and use will render it easy. It is no such difficult thing to express vurselves well on subjects we are thoroughly ac+ quainted with, if we think before we speak; and no one should presume to do otherwise.
32. When you have said a thing, if you did not reflect before, be sure to do it afterwards : consider with yourself whether you could not have expressed yourself better; and if you are in doubt of the propriety or elegance of any word, search for it in some dictionary, or some good author, while you remember it; neva er be sparing of your trouble while you wish to improve, and my word for it, a very little time will make this matter habitual.
33. In order to speak grammatically, and to express yourself pleasingly, I would recommend it to you to translate often any language you are acquainted with, into English, and to correct such translation till the words, their order and the periods are agreeable to your own ear.
Vulgarism in language is another distinguishing mark of bad s company and education. Expression may be correct in them. selves and yet be vulgar, owing to their not being fashionable; for language and manners are both established for the usage
QI people of fashion.
34. The conversation of a low bred man is filled up with proverbs and hackneyed sayings; instead of observing that tastes are different, and that most men have one peculiar to themselves, he will give you—“What is one man's meat is another man's poison; or,
Every one to their liking, as the old woman says, when she kissed her cow." He has ever some favourite
word, which he lugs in upon all occasions, right or wrong ; such as, vastly angry, vastly kind; devilish ugly, devilish handsome : immensely great, immensely little.
35. Even his pronunciation carries the mark of vulgarity along tvith it; he calls the earth, yearth; finances, fiances ; he goes to words, and not towards such a place. He effects to use hard words, to give him the appearance of a man of learning, but free quently mistakes their meaning, and seldom, if ever, pronounces them properly.
All this must be avoided, if you would not be supposed to have kept company with foot-men and house-maids. Never have recourse to proverbial or vulgar sayings; use neither favourite mor hard words, but seek for the most elegant; be careful in the management of them, and depend on it your labour will not be lost; for nothing is more engaging than a fashionable and polite address.
Small-Talk. 36. IN all good company we meet with a certain manner, phraseology, and general conversation, that distinguishes the man of fashion. This can only be acquired by frequenting good company, and being particularly attentive to all that passes
there. 37. When invited to dine or sup at the house of any well bred man, observe how he does the honours of his table, and mark his manner of treating his company.
Attend to the compliments of congratulation or condolence that he pays; and take notice of his address to his superiors, his equals and his inferiors: nay, his very looks and tone of voice. is worth your attention, for we cannot please without an union with them all.
38. There is a certain distinguishing diction that marks the man of fashion, a certain language of conversation that every gentleman should be master of. Saying to a man just married, “I wish you joy,” or to one who has lost his wife, “ I am sorry for your loss," and both perhaps with an unmeaning countenance, may be civil, but it is nevertheless vulgar. A man of fashion will express the same thing more elegantly, and with a look of sincerity, that shall attract the esteem of the person he speaks to, He will advance to the one, with warmth and cheerfulness, and perhaps squeezing him by the hand, will say, " Believe me, my dear sir, I have scarce words to express the joy I feel, upon your happy alliance with such or such a family, &c.” To the other in affliction he will advance slowly, and with a peculiar composure of voice and countenance, begin his compliments of condolence with, “ I hope, sir, you will do me the justice to be persuaded, that I am not insensible of your unhappiness, that I
take part in your distress, and shall ever be affected where you
39. Your first address to, and indeed all your conversation with your superiors, should be open, .cheerful and respectful; with your equals, warm and animated; with your inferiors, heartily, free and unreserved.
40. There is a fashionable kind of small-talk, which however trifling it may be thought, has its use in mixed companies : of course you should endeavour to acquire it. By small-talk, I mean a good deal to say on unimportant matters : for example, foods, the flavour and growth of wines, and the chit-chat of the day. Such conversation will serve to keep off serious subjects, that might some times create disputes. This chit-chat is chiefly to be learned by frequenting the company of the ladies.
Observations. 1. S the art of pleasing is to be learnt only by frequenting such companies, by observation; for it is not sense and knowl. edge alone that will acquire esteem ; these certainly are the first and necessary foundations for pleasing, but they will by no means do, unless attended with manners and attention.
There have been people who have frequented the first companies all their life-time, and yet have never got rid of their natur-, al stiffness and awkwardness; but have continued as vulgar as if they were never out of a servant's hall; this has been owing to carelessness, and a want of attention to the manners and beha. viour of others.
2. There are a great many people likewise who busy themselves the whole day, and who in fact do nothing. They have possibly taken up a book for two or three hours, but from a certain inatteption that grows upon them the more it is indulged, know no more of the contents than if they had not looked into it; nay it is impossible for any one to retain what he reads, unless he reflects and reasons upon it as he goes on. When they have thus Jounged away an hour or two, they will saunter into company, without attending to any thing that passes there; but, if they think at all, are thinking of some trifling matter that ought not to occupy their attention ; thence perhaps they go to the play, where they stare at the company and the lights, without attending to the piece, the very thing they want to see.
3. In this manner they wear away their hours, that might otherwise be employed to their improvement and advantage. This silly suspension of thought they would have pass for absence of mind. -Ridiculous !Wherever you are, let me recommend it to you to pay attention to all that passes ; observe thre
characters of the persons you are with, and the subjects of their conversation; listen to every thing that is said, see every thing that is done, and (according to the vulgar saying) have your eyes and your ears about you.
4. A continual inattention to matters that occur, is the characteristic of a weak mind; the man who gives way to it, is little else than a rifler, a blank in society, which every sensible person overlooks : surely what is worth doing is worth doing well, and nothing can be done well if not properly attended to. When I hear a man say, on being asked about any thing that was said or done in bis
" that truly he did not mind it,” I am ready to knock the fool down. Why did he not mind it? What had he else to do? - A man of sense and fashion never makes use of this paltry plea: he never complains of a treacherous memory, but attends to and remembers every thing that is either said or done.
5. Whenever, then you go into good company, that is, the company of people of fashion, observe carefully their behaviour, their dress, and their manners; imitate it as far as in your power. Your attention, if possible, should be so ready as to observe every person in the room at once, their motions, their looks, and their turns of expression, and that without staring or seeming to be an observer. This kind of observation may be acquired by care and practice, and will be found of the utmost advantage to you in the course of life.
Absence of Mind. 1. AVING mentioned absence of mind, let me be more
particular concerning it. What the world calls an absent man is generally either a very affected one or a very weak one; but whether weak or affected, he is in company, a very disagreeable man. Lost in thought, or possibly in no thought at all, he is a stranger to every one present, and to every thing that passes ; he knows not his best friends, is deficient in every act of good manners, unobservant of the actions of the company, and insensible of his own.
2. His answers are quite the reverse of what they ought to be; talk to him of one thing, he replies, as of another. He forgets what he said last, leaves his hat in one room, his cane in another, and his sword in a third; nay, if it was not for his buckles he would even leave his shoes behind him. Neither his arms nor his legs seem to be a part of his body, and his head is never in a right position. He joins not in the general conversation, except it be by fits and starts, as if awaking from a dream: I attribute 'this either to weakness or affectation.
3. His shallow mind is possibly not able to attend to more
than one thing at a time, or he would be supposed wrapt up in the investigation of some very important matter.--Such men as Sir Isaac Newton, or Mr. Locke, might occasionally have some excuse for absence of mind; it might proceed from that intenseness of thought that was necessary at all times for the scientific subjects they were studying ; but for a young man, and a man of the world, who has no such plea to make, absence of mind is a rudeness to the company, and deserves the severest censures.
4. However insignificant a company may be; however trifling their conversation; while you are with them, do not shew them by any inattention that you think them trifling : that can never be the way to please; but rather fall in with their weaknesses than otherwise, for to mortify or shew the least contempt to those we are in company with, is the greatest rudeness we can be guilty of, and what few can forgive.
5. I never yet found a man inattentive to the person he feared, or the woman he loved; which convinces me that absence of mind is to be got the better of, if we think proper to make the trial; and believe me it is always worth the attempt.
Absence of mind is a tacit declaration, that those we are in company with are not worth attending to; and what can be a greater affront ?-Besides can an absent man improve by what is said or done in his presence ?-No; he may frequent the best companies for years together, and all to no purpose. In short, a man is neither fit for business nor conversation, unless he can attend to the object before him, be that object what it will.
Knowledge of the World. A
KNOWLEDGE of the world, by our own experience
and observation is so necessary that without it we shall act very absurdly, and frequently give offence when we do not mean it. All the learning and parts in the world will not secure us from it. Without an acquaintance with life, a man may say very good things, but time them so ill, and address then so improperly, that he had much better be silent. Full of himself and his own business, and inattentive to the circumstances and situations of those he converses with, he vents it without the least discretion, says things that he ought not to say, confuses
some, shorks others, and puts the whole company in pain, lest what he utters next should prove worse than the last. The best directions I can give you in this matter, is, rather to fall in with the conversation of others, than start a subject of your own : rather strive to put them more in conceit with themselves than to draw their attention to you.
2. Man is made up of such a variety of matter, that, to search him thoroughly, requires time and attention ; for, though we are