with. If it happens that any one puts a case of which they have had no precedent, it is noted down by their clerk Will Goosequill (who registers all their proceedings), that one of them may go the next day with it to a counsel. This indeed is commendable, and ought to be the principal end of their meeting; but had you been there, to have heard them relate their methods of managing a cause, their manner of drawing out their bills, and, in short, their arguments upon the several ways of abusing their clients, with the applause that is given to him who has done it most artfully, you would before now have given your remarks on them. They are so conscious that their discourses ought to be kept a secret, that they are very cau. tious of admitting any person who is not of their profession. When any who are not of the law are let in, the pers

who introduces him says he is a very honest gentleman, and he is taken in, as their cant is, to pay costs.

I am admitted, upon the recommendation of one of their principals, as a very honest good-natured fellow, that will never be in a plot, and only desires to drink his bottle and smoke his pipe. You have formerly remarked upon several sorts of clubs; and as the tendency of this is only to increase fraud and deceit, I hope you will please to take notice of it.

with respect,

Your humble servant, T.

I am,

H. R.

N° 373. THURSDAY, MAY 8, 1712.

Fallit enim vitium specie virtutis et umbra.

JUV. Sat. xix. 10.
Vice oft is hid in Virtue's fair disguise,

And in her borrow'd form escapes inquiring eyes.
Ar. Locke, in his treatise of Human Understand.
ing, has spent two chapters upon the abuse of
words. The first and most palpable abuse of
words, he says, is when they are used without
clear and distinct ideas; the second, when we are
so unconstant and unsteady in the application of
them, that we sometimes use them to signify one
idea, sometimes another. He adds, that the result
of our contemplations and rcasonings, while we
have no precise ideas fixed to our words, must
needs be very confused and absurd. To avoid this
inconvenience, more especially in moral discourses,
where the same word should be constantly used in
the same sense, he earnestly recommends the use
of definitions. A definition,' says he,

6 is the only way whereby the precise meaning of moral words can be known. He therefore accuses those of great negligence who discourse of moral things with the least obscurity in the terms they make use of; since, upon the fore-mentioned ground, he does not scruple to say that he thinks morality is capable of demonstration as well as the mathematics.'

I know no two words that have been more abused by the different and wrong interpretations which are put upon them, than those two, modesty and assurance.' To say such a one is a modest


[ocr errors]

man, sometimes indeed passes for a good character; but at present is very often used to signify a sheepish, awkward fellow, who has neither good breed. ing, politeness, nor any knowledge of the world.

Again, a man of assurance, though at first it only denoted a person of a free and open carriage, is now very usually applied to a profligate wretch, who can break through all the rules of decency and morality without a blush.

I shall endeavour therefore in this essay to restore these words to their true meaning, to prevent the idea of modesty from being confounded with that of sheepishness, and to hinder impudence from -passing for assurance.

If I was put to define modesty, I would call it the reflection of an ingenious * mind, either when a man has committed an action for which he cen. sures himself, or fancies that he is exposed to the sensure of others.'

For this reason a man truly modest is as much so when he is alone as in company, and as subject to a blush in his closet as when the eyes of multitudes are upon him.

I do not remember to have met with any instance of modesty with which I am so well pleased as that celebrated one of the young prince whose father being a tributary king to the Romans, had several complaints laid against him before the se. - late, as a tyrant and oppressor of his subjects. The prince went to Rome to defend his father; but coming into the senate, and hearing a multitude of crimes proved upon him, was so oppressed

when it came to his turn to speak, that he was unable to utter a word. Th: story tells us, that the fathers were more moved at this instance of


Ingenious seems to be here used for ingenuous.

modesty and ingenuity * than they could have been by the most pathetic oration, and, in short, pardoned the guilty father for this early promise of virtue in

the son.

I take assurance to be the faculty of possessing a man's self, or of saying and doing indifferent things without any uneasiness or emotion in the

hind.' That which generally gives a man assurance is a moderate knowledge of the world, but above all, a mind fixed and determined in itself to do nothing against the rules of honour and decency. An open and assured behaviour is the natural con. sequence of such a resolution. A man thus armed, if his words or actions are at any time misrepre. sented, retires within himself, and, from a consciousfless of his own integrity, assumes force enough to despise the little censures of ignorance and malice.

Every one ought to cherish and encourage in himself the modesty and assurance I have here men. tioned.

A man withont assurance is liable to be made uneasy by the foily or ill-nature of every one he con. verses with. A man without modesty is lost to all sense of honour and virtue.

1, is more than probable that the prince above mentioned possessed both these qualifications in a very eminent degree. Without assurance, he would never have undertaken to speak before the most august assembly in the world: without modesty, he would have pleaded the cause he had taken upon him, though it had appeared ever so scandalous.

From what has been said, it is plain that mo. desty and assurance are both amiable, and may very well meet in the same person. When they are thus

* Ingenuity seems here to be used in the sense of ingenu.



mixed and blended together, they compose what we endeavour to express when we say a modest assurance;' by which we understand the just mean between bashfulness and impudence.

I shall conclude with observing, that as the same man may be both modest and assured, so it is also possible for the same to be both impudent and bashful.

We have frequent instances of this odd kind of mixture in people of depraved minds and mean education, who, though they are not able to meet a man's eyes, or pronounce a sentence without confusion, can voluntarily commit the greatest villanies or most.indecent actions.

Such a person seems to have made a resolution to do ill even in spite of himself, and in defiance of all those checks and restraints his temper and coma plexion seem to

ave laid in his way. Upon the whole, I would endeavour to establish this maxim, that the practice of virtue is the most proper method to give a man a becoming assurance in his words and actions. Guilt always seeks to shelter itself in one of the extremes, and is some. times attended with both,


« ForrigeFortsett »