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prevailing vanity, by observing his favourite topic of conversation ; for every man talks most of what he has most a mind to be thought to excel in. Touch him but there, and you touch him to the quick. The late Sir Robert Walpole, (who was certainly an able man ) was little open to flattery upon
that head; for he was in no doubt himself about it; but his prevailing weakness was, to be thought to have a polite and happy turn to gallantry; of which he had undoubtedly less than any man living : it was his favourite and frequent subject of conversation ; which proved to those who had any penetration, that it was his prevailing weakness ; and they applied to it with success.
Women have , in general, but one object, which is their beauty ; upon which , scarce any flattery is too gross for them to swallow. Nature has hardly formed a woman ugly enough to be insensible to flattery upon her person ; if her face is so shocking , that she anust, in some degree, be conscious of it, her figure and air, she trusts, make ample amends for it. If her figure is deformed, her face, she thinks, counterbalances it. If they are both bad, she comforts herself that she
has graces; a certain manner; a je ne sais quoi , still more engaging than beauty. This truth is evident, from the studied and elaborate dress of the ugliest women in the world. An undoubted, uncontested, conscious beauty, is of all women, the least sensible of flattery upon that head; she knows it is her due, and is therefore obliged to nobody for giving it her. She must be slattered upon her understanding ; which , though she may possibly not doubt of herself, yet she suspects that men may distrust.
Do not mistake me, and think that I mean to recommend to you abject and criminal flattery ; no; flatter nobody's vices or crimes : on the contrary, abhor and discourage them. But there is no living in the world without a complaisant indulgence for people's weaknesses, and innocent , though ridiculous, vanities. If a man has a mind to be thought wiser, and a woman handsomer, than they really are,
their error is a comfortable one to themselves, and an innocent one with regard to other people ; and I would rather make them my friends by indulging them in it, than my enemies, by
endeavouring ( and that to no purpose ) to undeceive thein. There are little attentions
likewise, which are infinitely engaging, and which sensibly affect that degree of pride and selflove , which is inseparable from human nature; as they are unquestionable proofs of the regard and consideration which we have for the persons to whom we pay them. As for example : to observe the little habits, the likings , the antipathies , and the tastes of those whom we would gain ; and then take care to provide them with the one, and to secure them from the other, giving them, genteely , to understand, that you had observed they liked such a dish , or such a room ; for which reason you had prepared it: or on the contrary, that having observed they had an aversion to such a dish , a dislike to such a person , etc. you had taken care to avoid presenting them. Such attention to such trifles, flatters selflove much more than greater things, as it makes people think themselves almost the only objects of your thoughts and care.
These are some of the arcana necessary for your initiation in the great society of the world. I wish I had known them beller,
at your age; I have paid the price of threeand-fifty years for them, and shall not grudge it, if you reap the advantage. Adieu.
THE UTILITY OF HISTORY.
H E utility of History consists principally in the examples it gives us , of the virtues and vices of those who have gone before us : upon which we ought to make the proper observations. History animates and excites us to the love and the practice of virtue; by showing us the regard and veneration that was always paid to great and virtuous men, in the times in which they lived, and the praise and glory with which their names are perpetuated , and transmitted down to our times. The Roman History furnishes more examples of virtue and magnanimity, or greatness of mind, than any
other. It was a common thing to see their Consuls and Dictators ( who , you know, were their chief Magistrates) taken from the plough, to lead their armies against their enemies; and after victory, returning to their plough again , and passing the rest of their lives in modest retirement : a retirement more glorious, if possible , than the victories that preceded it! Many of their greatest men died so poor, that they vere buried at the expence of the public. Curius, who had no money of his own , refused a great sum that the Samnites offered him, saying, that he saw no glory in having money himself, but in commanding those that had. Cicero relates it thus : Curio ad focum sedenti magnum auri pondus Samnites cum attulissent , repudiati ab eo sunt. Non enim aurum habere praeclarum sibi videri, sed iis , qui haberent aurum , imperare. And Fabricius, who had often commanded the Roman armies, and as often triumphed over their enemies, was found by his fire-side, eating those roots and herbs which he had planted and cultivated himself in his own field. Seneca tells it thus : Fabricius ad focum conat illas ipsas radices , quas , in agro repurgando, triumphalis Senex vulsit. Scipio, after a victory he had obtained in Spain, found among the prisoners a young Princess of extreme beauty, who, he was informed, was soon to have been married to a man of quality of that country. He ordered her to