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is that which consists in birth, title, or riches; and is the most foreign to our natures, and what we can the least call our own, of any of the three kinds of quality. In relation to the body, quality arises from health, strength, or beauty; which are nearer to us, and more a part of ourselves, than the former. Quality, as it regards the mind, has its rise from knowledge or virtue ; and is that which is more essential to us, and more intimately united with us, than either of the other two.
The quality of fortune, though a man has less reason to value 10 himself upon it than on that of the body or mind, is however the
kind of quality which makes the most shining figure in the eye of the world.
As virtue is the most reasonable and genuine source of honour, we generally find in titles an intimation of some particular merit that should recommend men to the high stations which they pos
Holiness is ascribed to the pope, majesty to kings; serenity or mildness of temper to princes; excellence or perfection to ambassadors ; grace to archbishops; honour to peers; worship or
venerable behaviour to magistrates; and reverence, which is of 20 the same import as the former, to the inferior clergy.
In the founders of great families, such attributes of honour are generally correspondent with the virtues of the person to whom they are applied; but in the descendants they are too often the marks rather of grandeur than of merit. The stamp and denomination still continues, but the intrinsic value is frequently lost.
The death-bed shews the emptiness of titles in a true light. A poor dispirited sinner lies trembling under the apprehensions of the state he is entering on; and is asked by a grave attendant
how his Holiness does ? Another hears himself addressed under 30 the title of highness or excellency, who lies under such mean
circumstances of mortality as are the disgrace of human nature. Titles at such a time look rather like insults and mockery than respect.
The truth of it is, honours are in this world under no regulation; true quality is neglected, virtue is oppressed, and vice triumphant. The last day will rectify this disorder, and assign to every one a station suitable to the dignity of his character; ranks will be then adjusted, and precedency set right.
Methinks we should have an ambition, if not to advance our40 selves in another world, at least to preserve our post in it, and
177 outshine our inferiors in virtue here, that they may not be put above us in a state which is to settle the distinction for eternity.
Men in scripture are called strangers and sojourners upon earth, 1 and life a pilgrimage. Several Heathen, as well as Christian authors, under the same kind of metaphor, have represented the world as an inn, which was only designed to furnish us with accommodations in this our passage. It is therefore very absurd to think of setting up our rest before we come to our journey's end, and not
rather to take care of the reception we shall there meet, than to 10 fix our thoughts on the little conveniencies and advantages which we enjoy one above another in the way to it.
Epictetus n makes use of another kind of allusion, which is very beautiful, and wonderfully proper to incline us to be satisfied with the post in which Providence has placed us. We are here, says he, as in a theatre, where every one has a part allotted to him. The great duty which lies upon a man is to act his part in perfection. We may
indeed say, that our part does not suit us, and that we could act another better. But this, says the philosopher, is not our business.
All that we are concerned in is to excel in the 20 part which is given us. If it be an improper one, the fault is not
in us, but in him who has cast our several parts, and is the great disposer of the drama.
The part that was acted by this philosopher himself was but a very indifferent one; for he lived and died a slave. His motive to contentment in this particular receives a very great enforcement from the above-mentioned consideration, if we remember that our parts in the other world will be new cast, and that mankind will be there ranged in different stations of superiority and
pre-eminence, in proportion as they have here excelled one another 30 in virtue, and performed, in their several posts of life, the duties which belonged to them.
There are many beautiful passages in the little apocryphal book, entitled, The Wisdom of Solomon, to set forth the vanity of honour, and the like temporal blessings, which are in so great repute among men, and to comfort those who have not the possession of them. It represents, in very warm and noble terms, this advancement of a good man in the other world, and the great surprise which it will produce among those who are his superiors in this . shall the righteous man stand in great boldness before the face of i Peter ii. 11.
2 Wisd. v.
such as have afflicted him, and made no account of his labours. When they see it, they shall be troubled with terrible fear, and shall be amazed at the strangeness of his salvation, so far beyond all that they looked for. And they, repenting and groaning for anguish of spirit, shall say within themselves, This was he whom we had sometime in derision, and a proverb of reproach. We fools accounted his life madness, and his end to be without honour. How is he numbered among the children of God, and his lot is among the saints !'
If the reader will see the description of a life that is passed away in vanity,
among the shadows of pomp and greatness, he may see it very finely drawn in the same place. In the mean time, since it is necessary, in the present constitution of things, that order and distinction should be kept in the world, we should be happy if those who enjoy the upper stations in it would endeavour to surpass others in virtue as much as in rank, and by their humanity and condescension make their superiority easy and acceptable to those who are beneath them; and if, on the contrary,
those who are in the meaner posts of life would consider how they 20 may better their condition hereafter, and by a just deference and
submission to their superiors, make them happy in those blessings with which Providence has thought fit to distinguish them.-C.
No. 231. On Modesty ; letter to the Spectator ; it is often a guard to
virtue ; two kinds of vicious modesty.
O pudor ! O pietas !—MART.
Looking over the letters which I have lately received from my correspondents, I met with the following one n, which is written with such a spirit of politeness, that I could not but be very much pleased with it myself
, and question not but it will be as acceptable to the reader.
‘You, who are no stranger to public assemblies, cannot but have 30 observed the awe they often strike on such as are obliged to exert
any talent before them. This is a sort of elegant distress, to which ingenuous minds are the most liable, and may therefore deserve some remarks in your paper. Many a brave fellow, who has put
his enemy to fight in the field, has been in the utmost disorder upon making a speech before a body of his friends at home: one would think there was some kind of fascination in the eyes of a large circle of people, when darting altogether upon one person. I have seen a new actor in a tragedy so bound up by it, as to be scarce able to speak or move, and have expected he would have died above three acts before the dagger or cup of poison were brought in. It would not be amiss, if such an one were at first
introduced as a ghost, or a statue, till he recovered his spirits, 10 and grew fit for some living part.
* As this sudden desertion of one's self shews a diffidence which is not displeasing, it implies at the same time the greatest respect to an audience that can be. It is a sort of mute eloquence, which pleads for their favour much better than words could do; and we find their generosity naturally moved to support those who are in so much perplexity to entertain them. I was extremely pleased with a late instance of this kind at the opera of Almahide n, in the encouragement given to a young singer, whose more than or
dinary concern on her first appearance recommended her no less 20 than her agreeable voice and just performance. Mere bashfulness
without merit is awkward; and merit without modesty, insolent. But modest merit has a double claim to acceptance, and generally meets with as many patrons as beholders. 'I am, &c.'
It is impossible that a person should exert himself to advantage in an assembly, whether it be his part either to sing or speak, who lies under too great oppressions of modesty. I remember, upon talking with a friend of mine concerning the force of pronunciation, our discourse led us into the enumeration of the
several organs of speech which an orator ought to have in perfec30 tion, as the tongue, the teeth, the lips, the nose, the palate, and
the windpipe. Upon which, says my friend, “You have omitted the most material organ of them all, and that is the forehead.'
But notwithstanding an excess of modesty obstructs the tongue, and renders it unfit for its offices, a due proportion of it is thought
requisite to an orator, that rhetoricians have recommended it to their disciples as a particular in their art. Cicero tells us, that he never liked an orator who did not appear in some little confusion at the beginning of his speech, and confesses that he himself never entered upon an oration without trembling and
It is indeed a kind of deference which is due to a great
and seldom fails to raise a benevolence in the audience towards the person who speaks.
My correspondent has taken notice that the bravest men often appear timorous on these oc
as indeed we may observe that there is generally no creature more impudent than a coward.
Lingua melior, sed frigida bello
VIRG. Æn. xi. 338.
Bold at the council board;
DRYDEN. A bold tongue and a feeble arm are the qualifications of Drances in Virgil ; as Homer, to express a man both timorous and saucy, makes use of a kind of point which is very rarely to be met with in his writings; namely, that he had the eyes of a dog, and the
heart of a deer n.
A just and reasonable modesty does not only recommend eloquence, but sets off every great talent which a man can be 20 possessed of. It heightens all the virtues which it accompanies,
like the shades in paintings; it raises and rounds every figure, and makes the colours more beautiful, though not so glaring as they would be without it.
Modesty is not only an ornament, but also a guard to virtue. It is a kind of quick and delicate feeling in the soul, which makes her shrink and withdraw herself from every thing that has danger in it.
It is such an exquisite sensibility, as warns her to shun the first appearance of every thing which is hurtful.
I cannot at present recollect either the place or time of what I 30 am going to mention; but I have read somewhere in the history
of ancient Greece, that the women of the country were seized with an unaccountable melancholy, which disposed several of them to make away with themselves. The senate, after having tried many expedients to prevent this self murder which was so among them, published an edict, That if any woman whatever should lay violent hands upon herself, her corpse should be exposed naked in the street, and dragged about the city in the most public manner. This edict immediately put a stop to the practice which
was before so common. We may see in this instance the strength 40 of female modesty, which was able to overcome the violence even