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all made of the same materials; and have all the same passions, yet from a difference in their proportion and combination, we vary in our dispositions ; what is agreeable to one is disagreeable to another, and what one shall approve, another shall condemn. Reason is given us to controul these passions, but seldom does it. Application, therefore, to the reason of any man, will frequently prove ineffectual, unless we endeavour at the same time to gain his heart.
3. Every man has his particular times when he may be applied to with success, the mollia tempora fandi : but these times are not all the day long; they must be found out, watched and taken advantage of. You could not hope for success in applying to a man about one business, when he was taken up with another, or when his mind was effected with excess of grief, anger, or the like.
4. You cannot judge of other men's minds better than by sudying your own; for though some men have one foible, and another has another, yet men, in general, are very much alike. Whatever pleases or offends you, will in similar circumstances, please or offend others; if you find yourself hurt when another makes you feel his superiority, you will certainly, upon the common rule of right do as you would be done by, take care not to let another feel your superiority, if you have it, especially if you wish to gain his interest or esteem.
5. If disagreeable insinuations, open contradictions, or oblique sneers vex and anger you, would you use them where you wished to please? Certainly not. Observe then, with care the operations of your own mind, and you may in a great measure read all mankind.
I will allow that one bred up in a cloister or college, may reason well on the structure of the hunian mind; he may investigate the nature of man, and give a tolerable account of his head, his heart, his passions, and his sentiments : but at the same time he may know nothing of him; he has not lived with him, and of course can know but little how those sentiments or those passions, will work : he must be ignorant of the various prejudices, propensities and antipathies, that always bias him, and frequentBy determine him.
6. His knowledge is acquired only from theory, which differs widely from practice; and if he forms his judgment from that alone, he must be often deceived; whereas, a man of the world, one who collects his knowledge from his own experience and observation, is seldom wrong; he is well acquainted with the operations of the human mind, pries into the heart of man, reads his words before they are uttered, sees his actions before they are performed, knows what will please, and what will displease, and foresees the event of most things.
7. Labour then to acquire his intuitive knowledge; attend carefully to the address, the arts and manners of those acquainted with life, and endeavour to imitate them. Observe the means they take to gain the favour, and conciliate the affections of those they associate with ; pursue those means, and you will soon gain the esteem of all who know you.
8. Now from knowledge of mankind we shall learn the advantage of two things, the command of our temper and our countenance; a trifling, disagreeable incident shall perhaps anger one unacquainted with life, or confound him with shame, shall make him rave like a madman, or look like a fool: but a man of the world will never understand what he cannot or ought not to resent. If he should chance to make a slip himself, he will stifle his confusion, and turn it off with a jest; recovering it with cool
9. Many people have sense enough to keep their own secrets; but from being unused to a variety of company, have unfortunately such a tell-tale countenance, as involuntarily declares what they would wish to conceal. This is a great unhappiness, and should as soon as possible be got the better of.
That coolness of mind and evenness of countenance, which prevents a discovery of our sentiments by our words, our actions, or our looks, is too necessary to pass unnoticed.
10. A man who cannot hear displeasing things, without visible marks of anger or uneasinesss; or pleasing ones, without a sudden burst of joy, a cheerful eye, or an expanded face, is at the mercy of every knave: for either they will designedly please or provoke you themselves, to catch your unguarded looks, or they will seize the opportunity thus to read your very heart, when
any other shall do it-You may possibly tell me, that this coolness must be natural, for if not, you can never acquire it.
11. I will admit the force of constitution, but people are very apt to blame that for many things they might readily avoid. Care, with a little reflection, will soon give you
of your temper and your countenance. If you find yourself subject to sudden starts of passion, determine with yourself not to utter a single word till your reason has recovered itself; and resolve to keep your countenance as unmoved as possible.
12. If fools should at any time attempt to be witty upon you, the best
is to know their witticisms are levelled at you, but to conceal any uneasiness it may give you; but should they be so plain that you cannot be thought ignorant of their meaning, I would recommend, rather than quarrel with the company, joining even in the laugh against yourself: allow the jest to be a good one, and take it in seeming good humour. Never attempt Jo retaliate the same way, as that would imply you were hurt.
13. Wrangling and quarrelling are characteristics of a weak mind : leave that to the women, be you always above it. Enter into no sharp contest, and pride yourself in shewing, if possible, more civility to your antagonist than to any other in the
compar ny; this will infallibly bring over all the laughers to your side and the person you are contending with will be very likely to confess you have behaved very handsomely throughout the whole affair.
14. Experience will teach us that though all men consist principally of the same materials, as I before took notice, yet from a difference in their proportion, no two men are uniformly the same : we differ from one another, and we often differ from our selves, that is, we sometimes do things utterly inconsistent with the general tenor of our characters. The wisest man will occasionally do a weak thing: the most honest man, a wrong thing: the proudest man, a mean thing; and the worst of men will sometimes do a good thing.
15. On this account, our study of mankind should not be general; we should take a frequent view of individuals, and though we may upon the whole form a judgment of ihe man from his prevailing passion or his general character, yet it will be prudent not to determine, till we have waited to see the operation of his subordinate appetites and humours.
16. For example; a man's general character may be that of strictly honest: I will not dispute it, because I would not be thought envious or malevolent, but I would not rely upon this genöral character, so as to entrust him with
fortune or my life. Should this honest man, as is not uncommon, be my rival in power, interest, or love, he may possibly do things that in other circumstances he would abhor; and power, interest, and love, let me tell you, will often put honesty to the severest trial, and frequently overpower it. I would then ransack this honest man to the bottom, if I wished to trust him, and as I found him, would place my confidence accordingly.
17. One of the great compositions in our nature is vanity, to which all men, more or less give way. Women have an intolerable share of it. No flattery, no adulation is too gross for them; those who flatter ihem most please them best, and they are most in love with him who pretends to be most in love with them: and the least slight or contempt of them is never forgotten. It is in some measure the same with men ; they will sooner pardon an injury than an insult, and are more hurt by contempt than by ill-usage. Though all men do not boast of superior talents, though they pretend not to the abilities of a Pope, a Newton, or a Bolingbroke, every one pretends to have common sense, and to discharge his office in life with common decency; to arraign therefore, in any shape, his abilities or integrity, in the department he holds, is an insult he will not readily forgive.
18. As I would not have you trust too implicitly to a man because the world gives him a good character : so I must particufarly caution you against those who speak well of themselves. In general, suspect those who boast of or affect to have any one virtue, above all others, for they are commonly impostors. There are exceptions however to this rule, for we hear of prudes that have been chaste, bullies that have been brave, and saints that have been religious. Confide only where your own observation shall direct you; observe not only what is said, but how it is said, and if you have penetration, you may find out the truth better by your eyes than your ears, in short, never take a character upon common report, but inquire into it yourself; for common report, though it is right in general, may be wrong in particulars.
19. Beware of those who on a slight acquaintance, make a tender of their friendship, and seem to place a confidence in you : it is ten to one but they deceive and betray you; however, do not rudely reject them upon such a supposition; you may be civil to them, though you do not entrust them. Silly men are apt to solicit your friendship and unbosom themselves upon the first acquaintance; such friends cannot be worth hearing, their friendship being as slander as their understanding; and if they proffer their friendship with a design to make a property of you, they are dangerous acquaintance indeed.
20. Not but the little friendships of the weak may be of some use to you, if you do not return the compliment; and it may not be amiss to seem to accept those of designing men, keeping them, as it were, in play, that they may not be openly your enemies; for their enmity is the next dangerous thing to their friendship We may certainly hold their vices in abhorrence, without being marked out as their personal enemy. The general rule is to have a real reserve with almost every one, and a seeming reserve with almost no one: for it is very disgusting to seem reserved, and very dangerous not to be so. Few observe the true medium. Many are ridiculously mysterious upon trifles, and many indiscreetly communicative of all they know.
21. There is a kind of short-lived friendship that takes place among young men, from a connection in their pleasures only; a friendship too often attended with bad consequences. This companion of your pleasures, young and unexperienced, will probably, in the heat of convivial mirth, vow a perpetual friendship, and unfold himself to you without the least reserve; but new associations, change of fortune, or change of place,' may soon break this ill-timed connection, and an improper use may be made of it.
22. Be one, if you will, in young companies, and bear your part like others in the social festivity of youth ; nay, trust them with your innocent frolics, but keep your serious matters to yourself; and if you must at any time make them known, let it be some tried friend of great experience; and that nothing may tempt him to become your rival, let that friend be in a different walk of life from yourself.
Were I to hear a man making strong protestations, and swearing to the truth of a thing, that is in itself probable, and very likely to be, I should doubt his veracity; for when he takes such pains to make me believe it, it cannot be with a good design.
23. There is a certain easiness or false modesty in most young people, that either makes them unwilling, or ashamed to refuse any thing that is asked of them. There is also an unguarded openness about them that makes them the ready prey of the artful and designing. They are easily led away by the feigned friendships of a knave or a fool, and too rashly place a confidence in them, that terminates in their loss, and frequently in their ruin. Beware, therefore, as I said before, of these proffered friendships; repay them with compliments, but not with. confidence. Never let your vanity make you suppose
people become your friends upon a slight acquaintance; for good of fices must be shewn on both sides to create a friendship: it will not thrive, unless its love be mútual; and it requires time to ripen it.
24. There is still among young people another kind of friendship merely nominal, warm indeed for the time, but fortunately of no long continuance. This friendship takes its rise from their pursuing the same course of riot and debauchery; their purses are open to each other, they tell one another all they know, they embark in the same quarrels, and stand by each other on all occasions. I should rather call this a confederacy against good morals and good manners, and think it deserves the severest lash of the law; but they have the impudence to call' it friendship. llowever, it is often as suddenly dissolved as it is hastily contracted; some accident disperses them, and they presently forget each other, except it is to betray and laugh at their own egregious folly.
In short the sum of the whole is, to make a wide difference between companions and friends; for a very agreeable companion has often proved a very dangerous friend.
Choice of Company.