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conversant with trifling subjects. Pride and vanity have been supposed to differ so essentially, as hardly ever to be found in the same person.
“ Too proud to be vain," is no uncommon espression; by which is meant, too proud to be over anxious for the admiration of others : but this seems to be founded on mistake. Pride is a bigh opinion of one's self, and an affected contempt of others: for, that it is not a real contempt is evident from this, that the lowest object of it is important enough to torture the proud man's heart, only by refusing him the homage and adoration he requires. Thus Haman could relish none of the advantages on which he valued himself, wbilst that Mordecai, whom he pretended to despise, sat still in the king's gate, and would not bow to him as he passed. But, as the proud man's contempt of others is only assumed with a view to awe them into reverence by bis pretended superiority, so it does not preclude an extreme inward anxiety about their opinions, and a slavish dependance on them for all his gratifications. Pride, though a distinct passion, is seldom unaccompanied by vanity, which is an extravagant desire of admiration. Indeed an insolent person is never seen, in whom a discerning eye might not discover a very Jarge share of vanity, and of envy, its usual companion. One may nevertheless see many vain persons who are not proud : ihough they desire to be admired, they do not always admire themselves; but as timid minds are apt to despair of those things they earnestly wish for, so you will often see the woman who is most ansious to be thought handsome, most inclined to be dissatisfied with her looks, and to think all the assistance of art too little to attain the end desired. To this cause, we may generally attribute affectation; which seems to imply a mean opinion of one's own real form, or character, whilst we strive agaiost nature to alter ourselves by ridiculous contortions of body, or by feigned sentiments and unnatural manners. There is no art so mean, which ihis mean passion will not descend to for its gratification—no creature so insignificant, whose incense it will not gladly receive. Far from despising others, the vain inan will court them with the most assiduous adulation; in hopes, by feeding their vanity, to induce them to supply the craving wants of his own. He will put on the guise of benevolence, tenderness, and friendship, where he feels not the least degree of kindness, in order to prevail on good nature and gratitude, to like and to cominend him: but if, in any particular case, he fancies that airs of
insolence and contempt may succeed better, he makes no scruple to assume them: though so awkwardly, that he still appears to depend on the breath of the person he would be thought to despise. Weak and timid natures seldom venture to try this last method; and, when they do, it is without the assurance necessary to carry it on with success : but a bold and confident mind will oftener endeavour to command and extort admiratiou than to court it. As wo-men are more fearful than men, perhaps this may be one reason why they are more vain than proud; whilst the other sex are oftener proud than vain. It is, perhaps, from some opinion of a certain greatness of mind accompanying the one vice rather than the other, that many will readily confess their pride, nay, and even be proud of their pride, whilst every creature is ashamed of being convicted of vanity. You see, however, that the end of both is the same, though pursued by different means; or, if it differ, it is in the inportance of the subject. Whilst men are proud of power, of wealth, dignity, learning, and abilities, young women are 100 often ambitious of nothing more than to be , admired for their persons, their dress, or the most trivial
accomplishments. The homage of men is their grand object; but they only desire them to be in love with their persons, careless how despicable their minds appear, even 10 these their pretended adorers. Women have been known so vain as to boast of the most disgraceful addresses; being contented to be thought meanly of, in points the most interesting 10 their honour, for ihe sake of having it known, that their persons were attractive enough to make men transgress the bounds of respect due to their character, which was not a vicious one, if you except this intemperate vanity. But this passion too often leads to the most ruinous actions, always corrupts the heart, and, when indulged, renders il perhaps as displeasing in the sight of the Almighiy, as those faults which find least mercy from the world: yet alas ! it is a passion so prevailing, in our sex, that it requires all the efforts of reason, and all the assistance of grace, totally to subdue it. Religion is indeed the only effectual remedy for this evil. If our hearts are not dedicated to God, they will in some way or otlser be dedicated to the world, boih in youth and age. If our actions are not constantly referred to him, if his approbation and favour be not our principal object, we shall certainly take up with the applause of men, and make that the ruling motive of our conduct. How melancholy is it to see
this phantom so eagerly followed through life! whilst all that is truly valuable to us is looked upon with indifference; or, at best, made subordinate to this darling pursuit!
Equally vain and absurd is every scheme of life that is not subservient to, and does not terminate in, that great end of our being—the attainment of real excellence, and of the favour of God. Whenever this becomes sincerely our object, then will pride and vanity, envy, ambition, covetousness, and every evil passion, lose their power over ns; and we shall, in the language of Scripture," walk humbly with our God.” We shall then cease to repine under our natural or accidental disadvantages, and feel dissatisfied only with our moral defects; we shall love and respect all our fellow-creatures; as the children of the same parent, and particularly those who seek to do his will : ‘all our delight will be « in the saints that are in the earth, and in such as excel in virtue.” We shall wish to cultivate good will, and to promote innocent enjoyment, wherever we are; we shall strive to please, not from vanity, but from benevolence. Instead of contemplating our own fancied perfections, or even real superiority, with self-complacence, religion will teach us to'“ look into ourselves, and fear:"—the best of us, God knows, have enough to fear, if we honestly search into all the dark recesses of the heart, and bring out every thought and intention fairly to the light, to be tried by the precepts of our pure and holy religion.
It is with the rules of the gospel we must compare ourselves, and not with the world around us; for we know “ that the many are wicked;" and that we must not be "! conformed to the world."
How necessary it is, frequently thus to enter into our selves, and search out our spirit, will appear, if we consider how much the human heart is prone to insincerity, and how often, from being first led by vanity into attempts to impose upon others, we come at last to iinpose on ourselves.
There is nothing more common than to see people fall into the most ridiculous mistakes, with regard to their own characters; but such mistakes can by no means be allowed to be unavoidable, and therefore innocent: they arise from voluntary insincerity, and are continued for want of that strict honesty towards ourselves and others, which the Scripture calls “singleness of heart;" and which in modern
language is termed simplicity-the most enchanting of all qualities, esteemed and beloved in proportion to its rareness.
He, who “ requires truth in the inward parts,” will not excuse our self-deception ; for he has commanded us to examine ourselves diligently, and has given us such rules as can never mislead us, if we desire the truth, and are willing to see our faults, in order to correct them. But this is the point in which we are defective; we are desirous to gain our own approbation, as well as that of others, at a cheaper rate than that of being really what we ought to be; and we take pains to persuade ourselves that we are that which we indolently admire and approve.
There is nothing in which this self-deception is more notorious than in what regards sentiment and feeling. Let a vain young woman be told that tenderness and softness is the peculiar charm of the sex-that even their weakness is lovely, and their fears becoming, and you will presently observe her grow so tender as to be ready to weep for a Ay; so fearful that she starts at a feather; and so weak hearted, that the smallest accident quite overpowers her. Her fondness and affection becomes fulsome and ridiculous; her compassion grows contemptible weakness; and her apprehensiveness the most abject cowardice: for, when she quits the direction of nature, she knows not where to stop, and continually exposes herself by the most absurd extremes.
Nothing so effectually defeats its own ends as this kind of affectation ; for though warm affections and tender feelings are beyond measure amiable and charming, when perfectly natural, and kept under the due controul of reason and principle, yet nothing is so truly disgusting as the affectation of them, or even the unbridled indulgence of such as are real.
Remember, that our feelings were not given us for our ornament, but to spur us on to right actions. Compassion, for instance, was not impressed upon the human heart only to adorn the fair face with tears, and to give an agreeable languor to the eyes; it was designed to exert our ut. inost endeavours to relieve the sufferer. Yet, how often is selfish weakness, which Aies from the sight of distress, dig. nified with the name of tenderness! “ My friend is, I hear, in the deepest affliction and misery--I have not seen her—for indeed I cannot bear such scenes—they afs fect me too much-those who have less sensibilily are fitter for this world—but for my part, I own, I am not able to
support such things—I shall not attempt to visit her till I hear she has recovered her spirits.” This has been said with an air of complacence; and the poor selsh creature has persuaded herself that she had fiver feelings than those generous friends, who are sitting patiently in the house of mourning-watching, in silence, the proper moment to pour in the balm of comfort-who suppressed their own sensations, and only attended to those of the afficied person-and whose tears flowed in secret, whilst their eyes and voice were taught to enliven the sickening heart with the appearance of cheerfulness.
That sort of tenderness, which makes us useless, may indeed be pitied and excused, if owing to natural imbecility; but, if it pretends to loveliness and excellence, it becomes truly contemptible.
The same degree of active courage is not to be expected in woman as in man; and, not belonging to her nature, it is not agreeable in her: but passive courage--patience, and fortitude under sufferings-presence of mind, and calm resignation in danger-are surely desirable in every rational creature; especially in one professing to believe in an overruling Providence, in which we may at all times quietly confide, and which we may safely trust with every event that does not depend upon our own will. Whenever you find yourself deficient in these virtues, let it be a subject of shame and humiliation—not of vanity and self-complacence: do not fancy yourself the more amiable for ihat which really makes you despicable—but content yourself with the faults and weaknesses that belong to you, without putting on more by way of ornament. With regard to tenderness, remember that compassion is best shewn by an ardour to relieve and affection by assiduity to promote the good and happiness of the persons you love: that tears are unamiable, instead of being ornamental, when voluntarily indulged; and can never be attractive but when they flow irresistibly, and avoid observation as much as possible : the same may be said of every other mark of passion. It attracts our sympathy, if involuntary, and not designed for our notice—it offends, if we see that it is purposely indulged and obtruded on our observation.
Another point, on which the heart is apt to deceive itself, is generosity: we cannot bear to suspeci ourselves of base and ungenerous feelings, therefore we let them work without attending to them, or we endeavour to find out some beller motive for those actions, wbich really flow from