« ForrigeFortsett »
ing jealousy and suspicion, so that he is not believed when he speaks truth, nor trusted when perhaps he means honestly. When a mali hath once forfeited the reputation of his integrity, nothing will then serve his turn, neither truth nor falsehood.
Indeed, if a man were only to deal in the world for a day, and should never have occasion to converse more with mankind, never more need their good opinion or good word, it were then no great matter (as far as res. pects the affairs of this world) if he spent his reputation all at once, and ventured it at one throw. But if he be to continue in the world, and would have the advantage of reputation whilst he is in it, let him make use of truth and sincerity in all his words and actions, for nothing but this will hold out to the end. All other arts may fail, but truth and integrity will carry a man through,and bear him out to the last,
EVERY principle that is a motive to good actions ought to be encouraged, since men are of 80 different a make that the same principle does not work equally upon all minds. What some men are prompted to by conscience, duty, or religion, which are only different names for the same thing, others are prompted to by honour.
The sense of honour is of so fine and delicate a nature, that it is only to be met with in minds which are naturally noble, or in such as have been cultivated by great examples, or a refined education, This essay therefore is chiefly designed for those who by means of any of these advantages are, or ought to be actuated by this glorious principle.
But as nothing is more pernicious than a principle of action, when it is misunderstood, I shall consider honor with respect to three sorts of men. First of all, with regard to those who have a right notion of it. Secondly with regard to those who have a mistaken notion of it. And thirdly, with regard to those who treat it as chimerical, and turn it into ridicule.
In the first place true honour, though it be a different principle from religion, is that which produces the same effects. The lines of action, though drawn from different parts, terminate in the same point. Religion embraces virtue as it is enjoined by the laws of God; honour as it is graceful and ornamental to human nature. The religious man fears, the man of honour scorns to do an ill action. The latter considers vice as something beneath him, the other as something offensive to the Divine Being. The one as what is unbecoming, the other as what is forbidden. Thus Seneca speaks in the natural and genuine language of a man of honour, when he declares, that were there no God to see or punish vice, he would not commit it, because it is of so mean, so base, and so vile a nature.
I shall conclude this head with the description of honour in the parting of young Juba.
Honour's a sacred tie, the law of kings,
In the second place, we are to consider those who have mistaken notions of honour. And these are such as establish any thing to themselves for a point of honour which is contrary either to the laws of God or of their country ; who think it more honourable to revenge than to forgive an injury ; who make no scruple of telling a lie, but would put any man to death that accuses them of it ; who are more careful to guard their reputation by their courage than by their virtue. True fortitude is indeed so becoming in human nature, that he who wants it scarce deserves the name of a man ; but we find several who so much abuse this notion, that they place the whole idea of honour in a kind of brutal courage ; by which means we have had many among us who have called themselves men of honour, that would have been a disgrace to a gibbet. In a word, the man who sacrifices any duty of a reasonable creature to a prevailing mode or fashion, who looks upon any thing as honorable that is displeasing to his Maker, or destructive to society, who thinks himself obliged by this principle to the practice of some virtues and not of others, is by no means to be reckoned among true men of honour.
Timogenes was a lively instance of one actuated by false honour, Timogenes would smile at a man's jest who ridiculed his Maker, and at the same time run a man through the body that spoke ill of his friend. Timogenes would have scorned to have betrayed a secret, that was entrusted with him, though the fate of his country depended upon the discovery of it. Timogenes took away the life of a young fellow in a duel, for having spoken ill of Belinda, a lady whom himself had seduced in her youth, and betrayed into want and ignominy. To close his character, Timogenes, after having ruined several poor tradesmen's families who had trusted him, sold his estate to satisfy his creditors ; but, like a man of honour, disposed of all the money he could make of it, in the paying of his play-debts, or, to speak in his own language, his debts of honour.
In the third place, we are to consider those persons, who treat this principle as chimerical, and turn it into ridicule. Men who are professedly of no honour, are of a more profligate and abandoned natúre than even those who are actuated by false notions of it, as there is more hope of a heretic than of an atheist. These sons of infamy consider honour with old Syphax, in the play before mentioned, as a fine imaginary notion that leads astray young unexperienced men, and draws them into real mischiefs, while they are engaged in the pursuits of a shadow. These are generally persons who, in Shakspeare's phrase," are worn and hackney'd in the ways of men ;" whose imaginations are grown callous, and have lost all those delicate sentiments which are natural to minds that are innocent and undepraved. Such old battered miscreants ridicule every thing as romantic that comes in competition with their present interest, and treat those persons as visionaries, who dare stand up in a corrupt age, for what has not its immediate reward joined to it. The talents, interest, or experience of such men, make them very often useful in all parties, and at all times. But whatever wealth and dignities they may arrive at, they ought to consider that every one stands as a blot in the annals of his country, who arrives at the temple of honour by any other way than through that of virtue.
ON GOOD HUMOUR.
GOOD humour may be defined a habit of being pleased; a constant and perennial softness of manner, easiness of approach, and suavity of disposition ; like that which
every man perceives in himself, when the first transports of new felicity have subsided, and his thoughts are only kept in motion by a slow succession of soft impulses. Good humour is a state between gaiety and unconcern; the act of emanation of a mind at leisure to regard the gratification of another.
It is imagined by many, that whenever they aspire to please, they are required to be merry, and to shew the gladness of their souls by flights and plea santry, and bursts of laughter. But though these men may be for a time heard with applause and admiration, they seldom delight us long. We enjoy them a little, and then retire to easiness and good humour, as the eye gazes awhile on eminences glittering with the sun but soon turns aching away to verdure and to flowers.
Gaiety is to good humour as animal perfumes to vegetable fragrance; the one overpowers weak spirits, and the other recreates and revives them. Gaiety seldom fails to give some pain; the hearers either strain their faculties to accompany its towerings, or are left bebind in envy and despair. Good humour boasts no faculties which every one does not believe in his power, and pleases principally by not offending.
It is well known, that the most certain way to give any man pleasure, is to persuade him that you receive pleasure from him, to encourage him to freedom and confidence, and to avoid any such appearance of supe. riority as may overbear and depress him.
We see ma. ny that by this art only, spend their days in the midst of caresses, invitations, and civilities; and without any extraordinary qualities or attainments, are the universal favourites of both sexes, and certainly find a friend in every place. The darlings of the world will, indeed, be generally found such as excite neither jealousy nor fear ; and are not considered as candidates for any eminent degree of reputation, but content themselves with common accomplishments, and endeavour rather to solicit kind