Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

thie haughty favourite of king Solomon the wise, who appears actually more submissive than the wife of his bosom. We are all tradesmen of a nicer relish in this respcct, and such conduct must disgust every spectator who loves to have the illusion of Nature strong upon him.

Yet, while I recommend to our actresses a skilful attention to gesture, I would not have them ftudy it in the looking-glass. This, without some precaution, will render their action formal ; by too great an intimacy with this they become stiff and affected. People seldom improve, when they have no other model but themselves to copy after. I remember to have known a notable performer of the other sex, who made great use of this flattering monitot, and

yet was one of the stiffest figures I ever saw. I am told his appartment was hung round with lookingglass, that he might see his person twenty times reflected upon entering the room ; and I will make bold to say, he saw twenty very ugly fellows whenever he did fo.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

Τ Η Ε Β Ε Ε,

N° 111.

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 20, 1759.

ON THE USE OF LANGUAGE.

i

The manner in which most writers begin their treatises on the Use of Language nguage is generally thus

: Language has been granted to man, in order to

discover his wants and necessities, so as to have “ them relieved by fociety. Whatever we defire, “ whatever we wish, it is but to cloath those de“ fires or wishes in words, in order to fruition; s the principal use of language, therefore, say they, s is to express our wants, so as to receive a speedy 56 redress.

Such an account as this may serve to satisfy grammarians and rhetoricians well enough, but men who know the world maintain very contrary maxims they hold, and I think with some shew of reason, that he who best knows how to conceal his necessity and desires, is the most likely person to find redress and that the true use of speech is not so much to express our wants as to conceal them.

When we reflect on the manner in which mankind generally confer their favours, we shall find that they who seem to want them least, are the very persons who most liberally Ihare them. There is something so attractive in riches, that the large, heap generally collects from the smaller ; and the poor find as much pleasure in increasing the enormous mass, as the miser, who owns it, sees happi4

ness

ness in its increase Nor is there in this any thing repugnant to the laws of true morality. Seneca himself allows, that in conferring benefits, the present should always be suited to the dignity of the receiver. Thus the rich receive large presents, and are thanked for accepting them. Men of middling stations are obliged to be content with presents something less; while the beggar, who may be truly said to want indeed, is well paid if a farthing rewards his warmest solicitations.

Every man who has feen the world, and has had his ups and downs in life, as the expression.is, must have frequently experienced the truth of this doctrine, and must know that to have much, or to feem to have it, is the only way to have more. Ovid finely compares a man of broken fortune to a falling column; the lower it finks, the greater weight it is obliged to sustain. Thus, when a man has no occafion to borrow, he finds numbers willing to lend him. Should he ask his friend to lend him an hundred pounds, it is possible from the largeness of his demand, he may find credit for twenty ; but should he humbly only lue for a trifle, it is two to one whether he might be trusted for two pence. A certain young fellow at George's, whenever he had occasion to ask his friend for a guinea, used to prelude his request as if he wanted two hundred, and talked so familiarly of large sums, that none could ever think he wanted a small one. The same gentleman, whenever he wanted credit for a new suit from his taylor, always made a proposal in laced cloaths; for he found hy experience, that if he appeared shabby on these occasions, Mr. Lynch had taken an oath against trusting ; or what was every bit as bad, his foreman was out of the way, and would not be at home these two days.

There can be no inducement to reveal our wants, except to find pity, and by this means relief ; but

before

N

[ocr errors]

before a poor man opens his mind in such circamstances, he should first consider whether he is contented to lose the esteem of the person he solicits, and whether he is willing to give up friendship only to excite compassion. Pity and friendship are passions incompatible with each other, and it is impossible that both can reside in any breast for the smallest space, without impairing each other. Friendship is made up of esteem and pleasure ; pity is composed of forrow and contempt; the mind may for some time fluctuate between them, but it never can entertain both together.

Yet let it not be thought that I would exclude pity from the human mind. There is scarcely any who are not in some degree poffeffed of this pleasing softness; but it is at best but a short-lived passion, and seldom affords distress more than tranfitory assiftance : with some it scarcely lasts from the first impulse till the hand can be put into the pocket ; with others it may continue for twice that space, and on some extraordinary fenfibility I have seen it operate for half an hour. But, however, last as it will, it generally produces but beggarly effects, and where from this motive we give an halfpenny, from others we give always pounds. In great distress we fometimes, it is true, feel the influence of tenderness strongly; when the same distress solicits a second time, we then feel with diminished sensibility, but like the repetition of an echo, every new impulse becomes weaker, till at last our sensations lofe every mixture of sorrow, and degenerate into downright contempt.

Jack Spindle and I were old acquaintance; but he's gone. Jack was bred in a compting-house, and his father dying just as he was out of his time, left him an handsome fortune, and many friends to advise with. The restraint in which he had been

brought

ferent way

brought up had thrown a gloom upon his temper, which some regarded as an habitual prudence, and from such confiderations he had every day repeated offers of friendship. Those who had money, were ready to offer him their assistance that way ; and they who had daughters, frequently, in the warmth of affection, advised him to marry. Jack, however, was in good circumstances ; he wanted neither money, friends, nor a' wife, and therefore modestly declined their proposals.

Some errors in the management of his affairs, and several losses in trade, foon brought Jack to a dif

thinking; and he at last thought it his best way to let his friends know that their offers were at length acceptable. His first address was therefore to a scrivener, who had formerly made him frequent offers of money and friendship, at a time when, perhaps, he knew those offers would have been refused,

Jack, therefore, thought he might use his old friend without any ceremony, and as a inan.confident of not being refused, requested the use of an hundred guineas for a few days, as he just then had an occasion for money. “And pray, Mr. Spin“ dle, replied the scrivener, do you want all this “ money?” “Want it, Sir, “ says the other,” if ** I did not want it, I should not have asked it." I “ am forry for that,” says the friend; “ for those 66 who want money when they come to borrow, will " want money when they should come to pay. To

say the truth, Mr. Spindle, money is money now“ a-days. I believe it is all funk in the bottom of “the sea, for my part; and he that has got a little, 66 is a fool if he does not keep what he has

Not quite disconcerted by this refusal, our adventurer was resolved to apply to another, whom he knew to be the very best friend he had in the world. The gentleman whom he now addressed, received

his

got.”

N 3

« AnteriorContinuar »