Page images
PDF
EPUB

did a thousand good offices to Anthony's wife and friends when that party seemed ruined. Lastly, even in that bloody war between Anthony and Augustus, Atticus still kept his place in both their friendships ; insomuch, that the first, says Cornelius Nepos, whenever he was absent from Rome in any part of the empire, writ punctually to him what he was doing, what he read, and whither he intended to go; and the latter gave him constantly an exact account of all his affairs.

A likeness of inclinations in every particular is so far from being requisite to form a benevolence in two minds towards each other, as it is generally imagined, that I believe we shall find some of the firmest friend. ships to have been contracted between persons of different humours; the mind being often pleased with those perfections which are new to it, and which it does not find among its own accomplishments. Besides that a man in some measure supplies his own defects, and fancies himself at second hand possessed of those good qualities and endowments, which are in the possession of him, who, in the eye of the world, is looked on as his other self.

The most difficult province in friendship is the let. ting a mau see bis faults and errors, which should, if possible, be so contrived, that he may perceive our advice is given him, not so much to please ourselves, as for his own advantage. The reproaches therefore of a friend should always be strictly just, and not too frequent.

The violent desire of pleasing in the person reprov. ed, may otherwise change into a despair of doing it, while he finds himself censured for faults be is not conscious of. A mind that is softened and bumanized by friendship, cannot bear frequent reproaches ; either it must quite sink under the oppression, or abate consi. derably of the value and esteem it bad for him who bestows them.

The proper business of friendship is to inspire life and courage; and a soul thus supported, outdoes itself; whereas, if it be unexpectedly deprived of these succours, droops and languishes.

We are in some measure more inexcusable if we violate our duties to a friend, than to a relation; since the foriner arise from a voluntary choice, the latter from a necessity to which we could not give our own consent.

As it has been said on one side, that a man ought not to break with a faulty friend, that he may not ex. pose the weakness of his choice; it will doubtless hold much stronger with respect to a worthy one, that he may never be upbraided for having lost so valuable a treasure which was once in his possession.

DECENCY.

Qualis equos Threissa fatigat
Herpalice-

VIRG.
With such array Herpalice bestrode
ller Thracian courser.

DRYDEN.

IT would be a nobler improvement, or rather a reco

very of what we call good breeding, if nothing were to pass amongst us for agreeable which was the least transgression against that rule of life called Decorum, or a regard to decency. This would command the respect of mankind, because it carries in it deference to their good opinion; as humility lodged in a worthy mind is always attended with a certain homage, which no haughty soul, with all the art imaginable, will ever be able to purchase. Tully says,

Virtue and decency are so nearly related, that it is difficult to separate them from each other, but in our imaginatiov: as the beanty of the body always accompanies the health of it, su certainly is decency concomitant to virtue; as,

beauty of body, with an agreeable carriage, pleases the eye, and that pleasure consists in that we observe, all the parts with a certain elegance are proportioned to each other, so does decency of behaviour, which appears in our lives, obtain the approbation of all. This flows from the reverence we bear towards every good man, and to the world in general; for to be negligent of what any one thinks of you, not only shows you arrogant but abandoned.” In all these considera. tions we are to distinguish how one virtue differs from another. As it is the part of jnstice never to do vio. lence, it is of modesty never to commit offence. In this last particular lies the whole force of what is called Decency; to this purpose that excellent moralist above-mentioned talks of Decency; but this quality is more easily comprehended by an ordinary capacity, than expressed with all his eloquence. This decency of behaviour is generally transgressed among all or. ders of men; nay, the very women, though themselves created it as it were for ornament, are often very much mistaken in this ornamental part of life. It would, methinks, be a short rule for behaviour, if every young lady in her dress, words, and actions, were only to recomnend herself as a sister, daughter, or wife, and make herself the more esteerned in one of those characters. The care of themselves, with regard to the families in wbich womeu are born, is the best motive for their being courted to coine into the alliance of other houses. Nothing cau promote this end more than a strict preservation of Decency. I should be glad if a certain equestrian order of ladies, some of whom one meets in an evening at every outlet of the town, would take this subject into their serious consideration.

Going lately to take the air in one of the most beantiful evenings this season has produced; as I was admiring the serenity of the sky, the lively colours of the fields, and the variety of the landscape every way around me, my eyes were suddenly called off from these inanimate objects by a little party of borsemen I saw passing the road. The greater part of them escaped my particular observation, by reason that my whole attention was fixed on a very fair youth who rode in the midst of them, and seemed to have been dressed by some description in a romance. His fea. tures, complexion, and habit, had a remarkable effeminacy, and a certain languishing vanity appeared in his air. His hair, well curled and powdered, bung to a considerable length on bis shoulders, and was wantonly tied, as if by the hands of his mistress, in a scar. let riband, which played like a streamer behind him; he had a coat and waistcoat of blue camlet, trimmed and embroidered with silver; a cravat of the finest lace; and wore in a smart cock, a little beaver hat edged with silver, and made more sprightly by a feather. His horse too, which was a pacer, was adorned after the same airy manner, and seemed to share in the vanity of the rider. As I was pitying the luxury of this young person, who appeared to me to have been educated only as an object of sight, I perceived on my nearer approach, and as I turned my eyes downward, a part of the equipage I had not observed before, which was a petticoat of the same with the coat and waistcoat. After this discovery, I looked again on the face of the fair Amazon who had thus de ceived nie, and thought those features which had before offended me by their softness, were vow strengthened into as improper a boldness; and though her eyes, nose, and mouth, seemed to be formed with perfect symmetry, I am pot certain whether sbe, 'who in appearance was a very handsome youth, may not be in reality a very indifferent woman.

There is an objection which naturally presents itself against these occasional perplexities and mixtures of dress, which is, that they seem to break in upon that propriety and distinction of appearance in which the beauty of different characters is preserved; and if they should be more frequent than they are at present, would look like turning our public assemblies into a general masquerade. The model of this Amazonian hunting.babit for ladies was, as I take it, first imported from France, and well enough expresses the gaiety of a people who are taught to do any thing, so it be with an assurance; but I cannot help ibinking it sits awk. wardly yet ou our English modesty. The petticoat is a kind of encumbrance upon it, and if the Amazons should think fit to go on in this plunder of our sex's ornaments, they ought to add to their spoils, and complete their triumph over as, by wearing the breeches.

If it be natural to contract insensibly the manners of those we imitate, the ladies who are pleased with assuming our dresses will do us more honour than we deserve, but they will do it at their own expense. Why should the lovely Camilla deceive us in more shapes than her own, and affect to be represented in her picture with a gun and a spaniel ; while her elder brother, the heir of a worthy fanıily, is drawn in silks like his sister? The dress and air of a man are not well to be divided; and those who would not be content with the latter, ought never to think of assuming the former. There is so large a portion of natural agreeableness among the fair sex of our island, that they seem betrayed into these romantic habits without having the same occasion for them with their inventors : all that needs to be desired of them is, that they would be themselves, that is, what Nature designed them. And to see their mistake when they depart from this, let them look upon a man who affects the softness and effeminacy of a woman, to learn how their sex must appear to us, when approaching to the resemblance of a man,

T.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »