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comes home in vapours, I am certain that she has heard either of my beauty or my wit, and expect nothing for the ensuing week but taunts and menaces, contradiction and reproaches.
Thus I live in a state of continual persecution, only because I was born ten years too soon, and cannot stop the course of nature or of time, but am unhappily a woman before my mother can wil. lingly cease to be a girl. I believe you would contribute to the happiness of many families, if, by any arguments or persuasions, you could make mothers ashamed of rivalling their children ; if you could shew them, that though they may refuse to grow wise, they must inevitably grow old ; and that the proper solaces of age are not musick and compliments, but wisdom and devotion ; that those who are so unwilling to quit the world will soon be driven from it; and that it is therefore their interest to retire while there yet remain a few hours for nobler employments.
I am, &c.
N° 56. SATURDAY, SEPT. 29, 1750.
Valeat res ludicra, si me
FRANCIS. NOTHING is more unpleasing than to find that offence has been received when none intended, and that pain has been given to those who were not guilty of any provocation. As the great end of society is mutual beneficence, a good man is always uneasy when he finds himself acting in opposition to the purposes of life ; because tho? his conscience may easily acquit him of malice prepense, of settled hatred or contrivances of mischief, yet he seldom can be certain, that he has not failed by negligence or indolence; that he has not been hindered from consulting the common interest by too much regard to his own ease, or too much indifference to the happiness of others.
Nor is it necessary, that, to feel this uneasiness, the mind should be extended to any great diffusion of generosity, or melted by uncommon warmth of benevolence; for that prudence which the world teaches, and a quick sensibilty of private interest, will direct us to shun needless enmities ; since there is no man whose kindness we may not some time want, or by whose malice we may not some time suffer. Vol. II.
I have therefore frequently looked with wonder, and now and then with pity, at the thoughtlessness with which some alienate from themselves the affection of all whom chance, business, or inclination, brings in their way. When we see a man pursuing some darling interest, without much regard to the opinion of the world, we justly consider him as corrupt and dangerous, but are not long in discovering his motives; we see him actuated by passions which are hard to be resisted, and deluded by appearances which have dazzled stronger eyes.
But the greater part of those who set mankind at defiance by hourly irritation, and who live but to infuse malignity and multiply enemies, have no hopes to foster, no designs to promote, nor any expectations of attaining power by insolence, or of climbing to greatness by trampling on others. They give up all the sweets of kindness, for the sake of peevishness, petulance, or gloom ; and alienate the world by neglect of the common forms of civility, and breach of the established laws of conversation.
Every one must, in the walks of life, have met with men of whom all speak with censure, though they are not chargeable with any crime, and whom none can be persuaded to love, though a reason can scarcely be assigned why they should be hated; and who, if their good qualities and actions sometimes force a commendation, have their panegyrick always concluded with confessions of disgust ;. he is a good man, but I cannot like him.' Surely such persons have sold the esteem of the world at too low a price, since they have lost one of the rewards of virtue, without gaining the profits of wickedness.
This ill æconomy of fame is sometimes the effect of stupidity. Men whose perceptions are languid and sluggish, who lament nothing but loss of money, and feel nothing but a blow, are often at a difficulty to guess why they are encompassed with enemies, though they neglect all those arts by which men are endeared to one another. They comfort themselves that they have lived irreproachably; that none can charge them with having endangered his life, or diminished his possessions ; and therefore conclude that they suffer by some invincible fatality, or impute the malice of their neighbours to ignorance or envy.
They wrap themselves up in their innocence, and enjoy the congratulations of their own hearts, without knowing or suspecting that they are every day deservedly incurring resentments, by withholding from those with whom they converse that regard, or appearance of regard, to which every one is entitled by the customs of the world.
There are many injuries which almost every man feels, though he does not complain, and which, upon those whom virtue, elegance, or vanity, have made delicate and tender, fix deep and lasting impressions ; as there are many arts of graciousness and conciliation, which are to be practised without expence, and by which those may be made our friends, who have never received from us any real benefit. Such arts, when they include neither guilt nor meanness, it is surely reasonable to learn ; for who would want that love which is so easily to be gained ? And such injuries are to be avoided ; for who would be hated without profit ?
Some, indeed, there are, for whom the excuse of ignorance or negligence cannot be alleged, because it is apparent that they are not only careless of pleasing, but studious to offend ; that they contrive to make all approaches to them difficult and vexatious, and imagine that they aggrandize themselves by wasting the time of others in useless attendance, by mortifying them with slights, and teazing them with affronts.
Men of this kind are generally to be found among those that have not mingled much in general conversation, but spent their lives amidst the obsequiousness of dependents and the flattery of parasites ; and by long consulting only their own inclination, have forgotten that others have a claim to the same deference.
Tyranny thus avowed, is indeed an exuberance of pride, by which all mankind is so much enraged, that it is never quietly endured, except in those who can reward the patience which they exact ; and insolence is generally surrounded only by such whose baseness inclines them to think nothing insupportable that produces gain, and who can laugh at scurrility and rudeness with a luxurious table and an open purse.
But though all wanton provocations and contemptuous insolence are to be diligently avoided, there is no less danger in timid compliance and tame resignation. It is common for soft and fearful tempers, to give themselves up implicity to the direction of the bold, the turbulent, and the overbearing; of those whom they do not be lieve wiser or better than themselves ; to recede from the best designs where opposition must be