« ZurückWeiter »
Hour, as would serve a Courtier for a Week. There is infinitely more to do about Place and Precedency in a Meeting of Justices' Wives, than in an Assembly of Dutchesses.
This Rural Politeness is very troublesome to a Man of my Temper, who generally take the Chair that is next me, and walk first or last, in the Front or in the Rear, as Chance directs. I have known my Friend Sir Roger's Dinner almost cold, before the Company could adjust the Ceremonial, and be prevailed to sit down; and have heartily pitied my old Friend, when I have seen him forced to pick and cull his Guests, as they sat at the several Parts of his Table, that he might drink their Healths according to their respective Ranks and Qualities. Honest Will Wimble, who I should have thought had been altogether uninfected with Ceremony, gives me abundance of Trouble in this Particular. Though he has been fishing all the Morning, he will not help himself at Dinner 'till I am served. When we are going out of the Hall, he runs behind me; and last Night, as we were walking in the Fields, stopped short at a Stile 'till I came up to it, and upon my making Signs to him to get over, told me, with a serious Smile, that sure I believed they had no Manners in the Country.
There has happened another Revolution in the Point of Good-breeding, which relates to the Conversation among Men of Mode, and which I cannot but look upon as very extraordinary. It was certainly one of the first Distinctions of a well-bred Man, to express every thing that had the most remote Appearance of being obscene, in modest Terms and distant Phrases ; whilst the Clown, who had no such Delicacy of Conception and Expression, clothed his Ideas in those plain homely Terms that are the most obvious and natural. This kind of Good-manners was perhaps carried to an Excess, so as to make Conversation too stiff, formal and precise : for which Reason (as Hypocrisy in one Age is generally succeeded by Atheism in another) Conversation is in a great measure relapsed into the first Extreme; so that at present several of our Men of the Town, and particularly those who have been polished in France, make use of the most coarse uncivilized Words in our Language, and utter themselves often in such a manner as a Clown would blush to hear.
This infamous Piece of Good-breeding, which reigns among the Coxcombs of the Town, has not yet made its way into the Country ; and as it is impossible for such an irrational way of Conversation to last long among a People that make any Profession of Religion, or Show of Modesty, if the Country Gentlemen get
into it they will certainly be left in the lurch. Their Good-breeding will come too late to them, and they will be thought a Parcel of lewd Clowns, while they fancy themselves talking together like Men of Wit and Pleasure.
As the two Points of Good-breeding which I have hitherto insisted upon, regard Behaviour and Conversation, there is a third which turns upon Dress. In this too the Country are very much behind-hand. The Rural Beaus are not yet got out of the fashion that took place at the time of the Revolution, but ride about the Country in red Coats and laced Hats, while the Women in many Parts are still trying to outvie one another in the Height of their Head-dresses.
THE COVERLEY Ducks.
Equidem credo, quia sit Divinitus illis
Y Friend Sir ROGER is
merry upon my passing so much of my time among his Poultry. He has caught me twice or thrice looking after a Bird's Nest, and several times sitting an Hour or two together near an Hen and Chickens. He tells me he believes I am personally acquainted with every Fowl about his House ; calls such a Cock
Favourite, and frequently complains that his Ducks and Geese have more of my Company than himself.
I must confess I am infinitely delighted with those Speculations of Nature which are to be made in a Country-Life; and as my Reading has very much lain among Books of Natural History, I cannot forbear recollecting upon this Occasion the several Remarks which I have met with in Authors, and comparing them with what falls under my own Observation :
The Arguments for Providence drawn from the natural History of Animals being in my Opinion demonstrative.
It is astonishing to consider the different Degrees of Care that descend from the Parent to the Young, so far as is absolutely necessary for the leaving a Posterity. Some Creatures cast their Eggs as Chance directs them, and think of them no farther, as Insects and several kinds of Fish ; others of a nicer Frame, find out proper Beds to deposit them in, and there leave them; as the Serpent, the Crocodile and the Ostrich : Others hatch their Eggs and tend the Birth, 'till it is able to shift for itself.
What can we call the Principle which directs every different kind of Bird to observe a particular Plan in the Structure of its Nest, and direct all the same Species to work after the same Model? It cannot be Imitation ; for though you hatch a Crow under a Hen, and never let it see any of the Works of its own Kind, the Nest it makes shall be the same to the laying of a Stick, with all the other Nests of the same Species. It cannot be Reason ; for were Animals indued with it to as great a Degree as Man, their Buildings would be as different as ours, according to the different Conveniences that they would propose to themselves.
Is it not remarkable, that the same Temper of