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tion; we may be less profligate than they Nor is the disposition to imitate conare, by being more cowardly: but what Í fined to our childhood ; when this is past, advance as certain is, That we cannot be and the man is to shew himself, he takes safe among them—that they will, in some his colours, if I may so speak, from degree, and may in a very great one, hurt those he is near-he copies their appear. our morals.
You may not, perhaps, be ance-he seldom is, what the use of his unwilling to ha:e a distinct view of the reason, or what his own inclinations, reasons, upon which I assert this.
would make him. I will enter upon them in my next. Are the opinions of the generality, in
I was going to write adieu, when it most points, any other, than what they came into my thoughts, that though you hear advanced by this or that person high may not be a stranger to the much cen- in their esteem, and whose judgment they sured doctrine of our countryman Pelagius will not allow themselves to question? You ---a stranger to his having denied original well know, that one could not lately go sin ; you may, perhaps, have never heard into conspany, but the first thing said was how he accounted for the depravity, so - You have, undoubtedly, read—What manifest in the whole of our race--He as- an excellent performance it is! The fine scribed it to imitation. Had he said, that imagination of its noble author discovers imitation makes some of us very bad, and itself in every line. As soon as this noble most of us worse than we otherwise should author seriously disowned it, all the admihave been ; I think he would not have ration of it was at an end. Its merit, with passed for an heretic. Dean Bolton. those who had most commended it, ap
peared to be wholly the name of its sup§ 121. LETTER II.
posed writer. Thus we find it throughSIR,
It is not what is written, or said, or I promised you, that you should have acted, that we examine; and approve or the reasons, why I think that there is condemn, as it is, in itself, good or bad : great danger of your being hurt by vicious Our concern is, who writes, who says, or acquaintance. 1'he first thing I have here does it ; and we, accordingly, regard, or to propose to your consideration is, what disregard it. I just nientioned at the close of
last- Look round the kingdom. There is, our aptness to imitate.
perhaps, scarce a village in it, where the For many years
of our life we are form. seriousness or dissoluteness of the Squire, if ing ourselves upon what we observe in not quite a driveller, is not more or less those about us. We do not only learn seen in the manners of the rest of its inhatheir phrase, but their manners. You per- bitants. And he, who is thus a pattern, ceive among whom we were educated, not takes his pattern-fashions himself by some more plainly by our idiom, than by our or other of a better estate, or higher rank, behaviour. The cottage offers with whose character he is pleased, or to brood, with all the rusticity and savage. whom he seeks to recommend himself. ness of its grown inhabitants. The civi- In what a short space is a whole nation lity and courtesy, which, in a well-ordered metamorphosed! Fancy yourself in the family, are constantly seen by its younger middle of the last century. What grave members, fail not to influence their de- faces do you every where behold! The portment; and will, whatever their natu- most dissolutely inclined suffers not a liral brutality may be, dispose them to check bertine expression to escape him. He its appearance, and express an averseness who least regards the practice of virtue, from what is rude and disgusting. Let
appearance. the descendant of the meanest be placed None claim, from their stations, a prifrom his infancy, where he perceives vilege for their vices. The greatest stranevery one mindful of decorum ; the marks gers to the influence of religion observe of his extraction are soon obliterated ; at its form. The soldier not only forbears Jeast, his carriage does not discover it : an oath, but reproves it; he may possibly and were the heir of his Grace to be con- make free with your goods, as having tinually in the kitchen or stables, you more grace than you, and therefore, a would soon only know the young lord by better title to them; but
po. his clothes and title : in other respects, thing to fear from his lewdness, or drunkyou would judge him the son of the groom.
The Royal Brothers at length land
So far we may
The monarchy is restored. How soon consent of parties. There is no being inthen is a grave aspect denominated a pu- timate with him, who will not be so with ritanical; decorum, preciseness ; serious- you; and, in order to contract or support ress, fanaticism! He, who cannot extin- an intimacy, you must give the pleasure, guish in himself all sense of religion, is which you would receive. This is a truth, industrious to conceal his having any-- that every man's experience must force appears worse than he is—would be him to acknowledge; we are sure to seek ticught to favour the crime, that he dares in vain a familiarity with any, who have not commit. The lewdest conversation no interest to serve by us, if we disregard is the politest. No representation pleases, their humour. in which decency is consulted. Every fa- In courts indeed, where the art of pleasvourite drama has its hero a libertine-in- ing is more studied than it is elsewhere, troduces the magistrate, only to expose you see people more dexterously accomhim as a knave, or a cuckold, and the modating themselves to the turn of those, priest, only to describe him a profligate for whose favour they wish; but, whereor hypocrite.
ever you go, you almost constantly perHow much greater the power of fashion ceive the same end pursued by the same is, than that of any laws, by whatsoever means, though there may not be the same penalties enforced, the experience of all ages adroitness in applying them. What a and nations concurs in teaching us. We proof have you in your own neighbourreadily imitate, where we cannot be con- hood, how effectual these means are ! strained to obey : and become by ex- Did you ever hear Charles ---tell a good ample, what our rule seeks in vain to story-make a shrewd observation-drop
an expression, which bordered either on be all truly styled players, wit or humour? Yet he is welcome to as we all personate-borrow our charac- all tables—he is much with those, who ters--represent some other-act a part- have wit, who have humour, who are, exhibit those who have been most under really, men of abilities. Whence is this, our notice, or whom we seek to please, or but from the approbation he shews of with whom we are pleased.
whatever passes? A story he cannot tell, As the Cameleon, who is known
but he has a laugh in readiness for every To have no colours of his own;
one he hears : by his admiration of wit, But borrows from his neighbour's hne he supplies the want of it; and they who His white or black, his green or blue;
have capacity, find no objection to the And struts as much in really light, Which credit gives him upon sight,
meanness of his, whilst he appears always As if the rainbow were in tail
to think as they do. Few have their looks Settled on him, and his heirs male :
and tempers so much at command as this So the young Squire, when first he comes
man ; and few, therefore, are so happy From country school to Will's or Tom's ;
in recommending themselves; but as in And equally, in truth, is fit To be a statesman, or a wit;
his way of doing it, there is, obviously, Without one notion of his own,
the greatest likelihood of success, we may He saunters wildly np and down;
be sure that it will be the way generally Till soune acquaintance, good or bad,
taken. Takes notice of a staring lad, Admits bija in among the gang:
Some, I grant, you meet with, who by They jest, reply, dispute, harangue.
their endeavours, on all occasions, to shew He acis and ialks as they befrieud him, a superior discernment, may seem to think, Smear'd with the colours which they lend him. that to gain the favour of any one, he must Thus, merely, as his fortune chances,
be brought to their sentiments, rather than His merit or his vice advanccs. PRIOR.
they adopt his ; but I fear these persons
will be found only giving too clear a proof, § 122. LETTER III.
either how absurdly self-conceit sometimes SIR,
operates, or how much knowledge there My last endeavoured to shew you, how
may be, where there is
little common apt we are to imitate. Let me now de-' sense. sire you to consider the disposition you Did I, in describing the creature called will be under to recommend yourself to Man, represent bin as having, in proporthose, whose company you desire, or tion to his bulk, more brains than any would not decline.
other animal we know of; I should not Conversation, like marriage, must have think this description false, though it could
be proved that some of the species had less sober, that they might be won to your scarce any brains at all.
regularity, as occasion you to fear, that Even where favour is not particularly you should be brought to join in their exsought, the very civility, in which he, who cesses? The good have been for so long would be regarded as a well-bred man, is a space losing ground among us, and the -never wanting, must render him unwilling bad gaining it ; and these are now become to avow the most just disapprobation of such a prodigious multitude ; that it is un. what his companions agree in acting, or deniable, how much more apt we are to commending. He is by no means to give form ourselves on the manners of those, disgust, and, therefore, when he hears the who disregard their duty, than on theirs, worst principles vindicated, and the best who are attentive to it. ridiculed; or when he sees what ought to You will here be pleased to remark, that be matter of the greatest shame, done I do not consider you as setting out with without any; he is to acquiesce, he is to any reforming views-- as conversing with shew no token, that what passes is at all the immoral, in order to dispose them to offensive to him.
reasonable pursuits ; but that I only apply Consider yourself then in either of these to you, as induced to associate with them situations-- desirous to engage the favour from the easiness of their temper, or the of the bad man, into whuse company you pleasantry of their humour, or your com. are admitted-or, only unwilling to be mon literary pursuits, or their skill in some thought by him deficient in good manners; of your favourite amusements, or on some and, I think, you will plainly see the dan- such-like account: and then, what I have ger you should apprehend from him—the observed may not appear a weak argument, likelihood there is, that you should at that they are much more likely to hurt length lose the abhorrence of his crimes, you, than you are to benefit them. which, when with him, you never ex- I will close my argument and my letter, press.
with a passage from a very good historian, Will you
ask me, why it is not as pro- which will shew you the sense of one of bable-that
vicious the ablest of the ancient legislators on my acquaintance, as that they should corrupt present subject. you? Or, why may I not as well supposc This writer, mentioning the laws which that they will avoid speaking and acting Charondas gave the Thurians, says—"He what will give you offence, as that you
“ enacted a law with reference to an evil, will be averse from giving them any– that “ on which former lawgivers had not anithey will consult your inclinations, as that “madverted, that of keeping bad comyou will theirs ?
pany. As he conceived that the morals To avoid the length, which will be “ of the good were sometimes quite ruined equally disagreeable to both of us, I will by their dissolute acquaintance-that only answer-- Do
any instance, “ vice was apt, like an infectious disease, which can induce you to think this pro- “ to spread itself, and to extend its contabable? Are not you apprised of many
in. “gion even to the best disposed of our stances, that greatly weaken the probabi- “ species. In order to prevent this mis. lity of it?
“ chief, he expressly enjoined, that none The vast disproportion, which there is “ should engage in any intimacy or fami- . between the numbers of the serious and the liarity with immoral
persons--he apdissolute, is so notorious, as to render it “ pointed that an accusation might be ex. unquestionable-that the influence of the “hibited for keeping bad company, and laid latter far exceeds the influence of the for- a heavy fine on such as were convicted mer--that a vicious man is much more “ of it." likely to corrupt a virtuous, than to be Remember Charondas, when you are disreformed by him.
posed to censure the caution suggested by An answer of the same kind I should
Dear Sir, bave judged satisfactory; if. with respect
Yours, &c. to what I had urged in my former letter,
Dean Bolton. you questioned me-why the readiness to imitate those, with whom we are much
Ø 123. LETTER IV. conversant, might not as justly encourage SIR, you to hope, when you associated with the Sir Francis Walsingham, in a letter to
Mr. Mr Anthony Bacon, then a very young of guilt, or none that restrains them from man, and on his travels, expresses himself complying with the temptations they meet chus—"The danger is great that we are with to guilt. 5 subject to, in lying in the company of You may, perhaps, think, that you s the worser sort. In natural bodies, evil could be in no danger from any compa. " airs are avoided, and infection shunned nion, to whose excesses you found not " of them, that have any regard to their in yourself the least propensity : but be* bealth. There is not so probable a rea. lieve me, my friend, this would by no * son for the corruptions, that may grow means warrant your safety. e to the mind of one from the mind of Though such a companion might not u another ; but the danger is far greater, induce you to offend in the very same way, " and the effects we see more frequent : that he doth : he would, probably, make “ for the number of evil-disposed in mind you the offender, that you otherwise never
is greater than the number of sick in would have been. If he did not bring u body...... Though the
the well-disposed you to conform to his practice, would he « will remain some good space without not be likely to insinuate his principles ? * corruption, yet time, I know not how, His disregard to his duty would tend to * worketh a wound into him...... Which render you indifferent to yours: and, a weakness of ours considered, and easi. while he lessened your general regard to "ness of nature, apt to be deceived, virtue, he might make you a very bad
looked into; they do best provide for man, though you should continue wholly “themselves, that separate themselves, as to avoid his particular crimes. « far as they can, from the bad, and draw The unconcernedness, with which he 6 as nigh to the good, as by any possibio gave his worst inclinations their scope, "lity they can attain to.”
could hardly be day after day observed, To what I have already said, in proof, without making you less solicitous to rethat we should thus separate ourselves, I strain your own wrong tendencies, and shall now add two further reasons for our strongly urging you to a compliance with doing it : 1. The wrong inclinations, the them. proneness to violate some or other part of 2. The danger there is in conversing our duty, which we all find in ourselves with the immoral will be yet more ap2. The power which custom hath, to parent; if you will, next, attend to the reconcile us to what we, at first, most power of custom in reconciling us to that dreaded.
which we at first most dreaded. Need I tell you, that our natural depra- Whence is it, that veteran troops face rity has not only been the theme of Chris. an enemy, with almost as little concern as tian writers ; but that the most eminent they perform their exercise ? The man of heathen authors, poets, historians, philo- the greatest courage among them felt, sophers, join in confessing it?
probably, in the first battle wherein he Where, alas! is the man, who has not was, a terror that required all his courage his wrong tendencies to lament? Whom to surmount. Nor was this terror, afterdo you know able to conceal them, to wards, overcome by him, but by degrees ; present a clear discovery of them in his every succeeding engagement abated it: practice ?
the oftener he fought, the less he feared ; According as we are liable to act amiss, by being habituated to danger, he learned, we, certainly, must be in more or less dan- at length, to despise it. ger from associating with those, who either An ordinary swell of the ocean alarnis will seek to draw us into guilt-or will the youth who has never before been upon countenance us in it-or will diminish our it; but he whose fears are now raised, abhorrence of it. Some danger from such when there is nothing that ought to ex. company there must be even to him, cite them, becomes soon without any, whose inclinations are least faulty ; since even when in a situation, that might they may be made worse they may pro- justly dismay him ; he is calm, when the duce bad actions, the repetition of which storm is most violent; and discovers no would form bad habits ; and nothing uneasy apprehensions, while the vessel, could be so likely to heighten any depra- in which he sails, is barely not sinking. sity of disposition, and carry it to the You cannot, I am persuaded, visit an most fatal lengths of misconduct, as a hospital-survey the variety of distress familiarity with those, who have no dread there-hear the complaints of the sick
see the sores of the wounded, without be. “ such persons as are themselves careful ing yourself in pain, and a sharer of their “ to make a proficiency therein." sufferings.
GROT. Ep. 426. The constant attendants on these poor
Dean Bolton. wretches have no such concern: with dis
§ 124. LETTER V. positions not less humane than yours, they do not feel the emotions that you would SIR, be under, at this scene of misery ; their When I ended my last, I contioued in frequent view of it has reconciled them to my chair, thinking of the objections which it-has been the cause, that their minds might be made to what I had written to are no otherwise affected by it, than yours you. The following then occurred to me. is by the objects ordinarily before you. That, when we are in possession of truth,
From how many other instances might from fair examination and full evidence, it be shewn, that the things, which, at their there can be very little danger of our being first appearance, strike us with the greatest induced to quit it, either by repeatedly terror, no sooner become familiar, than hearing the weak objections of any to it, they cease to discompose us ? Let, there- or by remarking them to act as wrongly as fore, our education have been the careful. they argue–That, as in mathematics, the lest and wisest ; let there have been used proposition which we had once demontherein all the means likeliest to fix in us strated, would always have our assent, an abhorrence of vice; we, yet, cannot be whomsoever we heard cavilling at it, or frequently among those, who allow them- ridiculing our judgment concerning it: 80 selves in it, and have as few scruples about in morals, when once a due consideration of the concealment of any crime they are dis- the essential and unchangeable differences posed to, as about its commission, without of things hath rendered us certain of what beholding it with abundantly less uneasi. is right and our duty : we can never be ness than its first view occasioned us. made less certain thereof, whatever errors,
When it is so beheld; when what is very in judgment or practice, we may daily obwrong no more shocks us—is no longer serve in our associates, or daily hear them highly offensive to us; the natural and ne- absurd enough to defend— That when we cessary progress is to a still farther abate- not only plainly perceive the practice of ment of our aversion from it: and what is virtue to be most becoming us—to be of force enough to conquer a strong dislike, what the nature and reason of things remay be reasonably concluded well able to quire of us : but actually feel, likewise, the effect some degree of approbation. How satisfaction which it affords, the solid plea. far this shall proceed, will, indeed, depend, sure which is its inseparable attendant ; in a good measure, upon our temper, upon there can be no more ground to suppose, our constitutional tendencies, upon our that our having continually before us the circumstances : but surely we are become follies and vices of any, would lead us to bad enough, when it is not the consideration depart from what we know to be fittest, of what is amiss in any practice, that with and have experienced to be best for us, holds us from it—when we only avoid it, than there can be to believe, that a man in because it is not agreeable to our humour; his wits would leave the food, which his or, because the law punishes it; or because judgment approved and his palate relishit interferes with some other criminal gra- ed, for another sort, which he saw, intification, which better pleases us. deed, pleasing to his companions, but
I began this with an extract from a which he was certain would poison them. letter of Walsingham: I will end it with How little weight there is in this kind
a letter of Grotius, when am- of arguing, I think every one might be
France, to his brother, con- convinced, who would attend to his own is son, whom he had recom- practice, who would consider the numeru that gentleman's care.
ous instances in which he cannot but having expressed his wishes, that condemn it-in which he cannot but ac. oung man might be formed a complete knowledge it contrary to what his present ocate, he concludes thus—« Above all welfare requires it should be. things, I intreat you to cultivate those Let us think the most justly of our duty, seeds of knowledge, sown by me in him, and
shun, with the greatest care, all who which are productive of piety; and to would countenance us in a departure from 4 recommend to him, for companions, it; we still shall find that departure too free