« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
sions and carriage, but because it is a tacit accusation and reproach of some incivility, taken notice of in those whom we are angry with. Such a suspicion, or intimation, cannot be born by any one without uneasiness. Besides, one angry body discomposes the whole company, and the harmony ceases upon any such jarring
The happiness, that all men so steadily pursue, consisting in pleasure, it is easy to see why the civil are more acceptable than the useful. The ability, sincerity, and good intention, of a man of weight and worth, or, a real friend, seldom atones for the uneasiness, that is produced by his graveand solid representations. Power and riches, nay virtue itself, are valued only as conducing to our happiness; and therefore he recommends himself ill to another, as aiming at his happiness, who, in the services he does him, makes him uneasy in the manner of doing them. He that knows how to make those he converses with easy, without debasing himself to low and servile flattery, has found the true art of living in the world, and being both welcome and valued every-where. Civility therefore is what, in the first place, should with great care be made habitual to children and young people.
$ 144. There is another fault in good manners, and that is, excess of ceremony,
Breeding and an obstinate persisting to force upon another what is not his due, and what he cannot take without folly or shame. This seems rather a design to expose, than oblige; or, at least, looks like a contest for mastery; and, at best, is but troublesome, and so can be no part of good breeding, which has no other use or end, but to make people easy and satisfied in their conversation with us. This is a fault few young people are apt to fall into; but yet, if they are ever guilty of it, or are suspected to incline that way, they should be told of it, and warned of this mistaken civility. The thing they should endeavour and aim at in conversation, should be to show respect, esteem, and good-will, by paying to every one that common ceremony and regard, which is in civility due to them. To do this, without a sus
picion of flattery, dissimulation, or méanness, is a great skill, which good sense, reason, and good company, can only teach; but is of so much use in 'civil life, that it is well worth the studying. i .
$ 145. Though the managing ourselves well in this part of our behaviour has the name of good-breeding, as if peculiarly the effect of education; yet, as I have said, young children should not be much perplexed about it; I mean, about putting off their hats, and making legs modishly. Teach them humility, and to be good-natured, if you can, and this sort of maoners will not be wanting: civility being, in truth, nothing but a care not to show any slighting or contempt, of any one in conversation. What are the most allowed and esteemed ways of expressing this, we have above observed. It is as peculiar and different, in several countries of the world, as their languages; and therefore, if it be rightly considered, rules and discourses, made to children about it, are as useless and impertinent, as it would be, now and then, to give a rule or two of the Spanish tongue, to one that converses only with Englishmen. Be as busy as you please with discourses of civility to your son ; such as is his company, such will be his manners. A ploughman of your neighbourhood, that has never been out of his parish, read what lectures you please to him, will be as soon in his language, as his courage, a courtier; that is, in neither will be more polite, than those he uses to converse with: and therefore of this no other care can be taken, till he be of an age to have a tutor put to him, who must not fail to be a well-bred man. And, in good earnest, if I were to speak my mind freely, so children do nothing out of obstinacy, pride, and illnature, it is no great matter how they put off their hats, or make legs. · If you can teach them to love and respect other people, they will, as their age requires it, find ways to express it acceptably to every one, according to the fashions they have been used to: and, as to their motions, and carriage of their bodies, a dancing. master, as has been said, when it is fit, will teach them what is most becoming. In the mean time, when they áre young, people expect not that children should be over-mindful of these ceremonies; carelessness is allowed to that age, and becomes them as well as com. pliments do grown people: or, at least, if some very nice people will think it a fault, I am sure it is a fault that should be over-looked, and left to time, a tutor, and conversation, to cure: and therefore I think it not worth your while to have your son (as I often see child. ren are) molested or chid about it; but where there is pride, or ill-nature, appearing in his carriage, there he must be persuaded, or shamed, out of it. • Though children, when little, should not be much perplexed with rules and ceremonious parts of breeding; yet there is a sort of unmannerliness very apt to grow up with young people, if not early restrained ; and that is a forwardness to interrupt others that are speaking, and to stop them with some contradiction. Whether the custom of disputing, and the reputation of parts and learning usually hate
lly Interruption. given to it, as if it were the only standard and evidence of knowledge, make young men so forward to watch occasions to correct others in their discourse, and not to slip any opportunity of showing their talents; so it is, that I have found scholars most blamed in this point. There cannot be a greater rudeness, than to interrupt another in the current of his discourse; for, if there be not impertinent folly in answering a man before we know what he will say, yet it is a plain declaration, that we are weary to hear him talk any longer; and have a disesteem of what he says; which we, judging not fit to entertain the company, desire them to give audience to us, who have something to produce worth their attention. This shows a very great disrespect, and cannot but be offensive; and yet, this is what almost all interruption constantly carries with it. . To which, if there be added, as is usual, a correcting of any mistake, or a contradiction of what has been said, it is a mark of yet greater pride and selfconceitedness, when we thus intrude ourselves for teachers, and take upon us, either to 'set another right in his story, or show the mistakes of his judgment,
I do not say this, that I think there should be no difference of opinions in conversation, nor opposition in men's discourses: this would be to take away the greatest advantage of society, and the improvements that are to be made by ingenious company, where the light is to be got from the opposite arguings of men of parts, showing the different sides of things, and their various aspects and probabilities, would be quite lost, if every one were obliged to assent to, and say after the first speaker. It is not the owning one's dissent from another that I speak against, but the manner of doing it. Young men should be taught not to be forward to interpose their opinions, unless asked, or when others have done, and are silent; and then only by way of inquiry, not instruction. The positive asserting, and the magisterial air, should be avoided; and when ą, general pause of the whole company affords an opportunity, they may modestly put in their question as learners.
This becoming decency will not cloud their parts, nor weaken the strength of their reason; but bespeak the more favourable attention, and give what they say the greater advantage. An ill argument, or ordinary observation, thus introduced, with some civil preface of deference and respect to the opinions of others, will procure them more credit and esteem, than the sharpest wit, or profoundest science, with a rough, insolent, or noisy management; which always shocks the hearers, and leaves an ill opinion of the man, though he get the better of it in the argument.
This therefore should be carefully watched in young people, stopped in the beginning, and the contrary habit introduced in all their conversation; and the rather, because forwardness to talk, frequent interruptions in arguing, and loud wrangling, are too often observable amongst grown people, even of rank amongst us. The Indians, whom we call barbarous, observe much more decency and civility in their discourses and conversation, giving one another a fair silent hearing, till they have quite done; and then answering them calmly, and without noise or passion. And if it be not so in this civilized part of the world, we must impute it to a neglect in education, which has not yet reformed this ancient piece of barbarity amongst us. Was it not, think you, an entertaining spectacle, to see two ladies of quality accidentally seated on the opposite sides of a room, set round with company, fall into a dispute, and grow so eager in it, that in the heat of their controversy, edging by degrees their chairs forwards, they were in a little time got up close to one another in the middle of the room ; where they for a good while managed the dispute as fiercely as two game-cocks in the pit, without mind- Dispute. ing or taking any notice of the circle, which could not all the while forbear smiling? This I was told by a person of quality, who was present at the combat, and did not omit to reflect upon the indecencies, that warmth in dispute often runs people into; which, since custom makes too frequent, education should take the more care of. There is nobody but condemns this in others, though they overlook it in themselves : and many, who are sensible of it in themselves, and resolve against it, cannot yet get rid of an ill custom, which neglect in their education has suffered to settle into an habit.
$ 146. What has been above said concerning company, would, perhaps, if it company. were well reflected on, give us a larger prospect, and let us see how much farther its influence reaches. It is not the modes of civility alone, that are imprinted by conversation; the tincture of company sinks deeper than the outside; and possibly, if a true estimate were made of the morality and religions of the world, we should find, that the far greater part of mankind received even those opinions and ceremonies they would die for, rather from the fashions of their countries, and the constant practice of those about them, than from any conviction of their reasons. I mention this only to let you see of what moment I think company is to your son in all the parts of his life, and therefore how much that one part is to be weighed and provided for,