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at all, or but faintly? This is exactly the humour of the fine gentleman in Mandeville, who, while he dazzles his guests with the display of some costly toy, affects himself to “ see nothing considerable in it.”
CHAT SUCH A ONE SHOWS HIS BREEDING.—THAT IT IS EASY
TO PERCEIVE HE IS NO GENTLEMAN.
A speech from the poorer sort of people, which always indicates that the party vituperated is a gentleman. The very fact which they deny, is that which galls and exasperates them to use this language. The forbearance with which it is usually received, is a proof what interpretation the bystander sets upon it. Of a kin to this, and still less politic, are the phrases with which, in their street rhetoric, they ply one another more grossly :—He is a poor creature.—He has not a rag to cover--, &c.; though this last, we confess is more frequently applied by females to females. They do not perceive that the satire glances upon themselves. A poor man, of all things in the world, should not upbraid an antagonist with poverty. Are there no other topics—as, to tell him his father was hanged — his sister, &c.-,, without exposing a secret, which should be kept snug between them ; and doing an affront to the order to which they have the honour equally to belong? All this while they do not see how the wealthier man stands by and laughs in his sleeve at both.
THAT THE POOR COPY THE VICES OF THE RICH. A smooth text to the latter ; and, preached from the pulpit, is sure of a docile audience from the pews lined
with satin. It is twice sitting upon velvet to a foolish squire to be told, that he mand not perverse nature, as the homilies would make us imagine, is the true cause of all the irregularities in his parish. This is striking at the root of free-will indeed, and denying the originality of sin in any sense. But men are not such implicit sheep as this comes to. If the abstinence from evil on the part of the upper classes is to derive itself from no higher principle, than the apprehension of setting ill patterns to the lower, we beg leave to discharge them from all squeamishness on that score: they may even take their fill of pleasures, where they can find them. The Genius of Poverty, hampered and straitened as it is, is not so barren of invention but it can trade upon the staple of its own vice, without drawing upon their capital. The poor are not quite such servile imitators as they take them for. Some of them are very clever artists in their way. Here and there we find an original. Who taught the poor to steal, to pilfer? They did not go to the great for schoolmasters in these faculties surely. It is well if in some vices they allow us to be—no copyists. In no other sense is it true that the poor copy them, than as servants may be said to take after their masters and mistresses, when they succeed to their reversionary cold meats. If the master, from indisposition or some other cause, neglect his food, the servant dines notwithstanding.
"O, but (some will say) the force of example is great.” We knew a lady who was so scrupulous on this head, that she would 'put up with the calls of the most impertinent visitor, rather than let her servant say she was not at home, for fear of teaching her maid to tell an untruth ; and this in the very face of the fact, which she knew well enough, that the wench was one
“She would put up with the calls of the most impertinent visitor." of the greatest liars upon the earth without teaching ; so much so, that her mistress possibly never heard two words of consecutive truth from her in her life. But nature must go for nothing : example must be everything. This liar in grain, who never opened her mouth without a lie, must be guarded against a remote inference, which she (pretty casuist!) might possibly draw from a form of words—literally false, but essentially deceiving no one—that under some circumstances a fib might not be so exceedingly sinful—a fiction, too, not at all in her own way, or one that she could be suspected of adopting, for few servant-wenches care to be denied to visitors.
This word example reminds us of another fine word
which is in use upon these occasions—encouragement. “ People in our sphere must not be thought to give encouragement to such proceedings.” To such a frantic height is this principle capable of being carried, that we have known individuals who have thought it within the scope of their influence to sanction despair, and give eclat to-suicide. A domestic in the family of a county member lately deceased, from love, or some unknown cause, cut his throat; but not successfully. The poor fellow was otherwise much loved and respected ; and great interest was used in his behalf, upon his recovery, that he might be permitted to retain his place ; his word being first pledged, not without some substantial sponsors to promise for him, that the like should never happen again. His master was inclinable to keep him, but his mistress thought otherwise ; and John in the end was dismissed, her ladyship declaring that she “could not think of encouraging any such doings in the county.”
THAT ENOUGH IS AS GOOD AS A FEAST.
Not a man, woman, or child in ten miles round Guildhall, who really believes this saying. The inventor of it did not believe it himself. It was made in revenge by somebody, who was disappointed of a regale. It is a vile cold-scrag-of-mutton, sophism ; a lie palmed upon the palate, which knows better things. If nothing else could be said for a feast, this is sufficient, that from the superflux there is usually something left for the next day. Morally interpreted, it belongs to a class of proverbs, which have a tendency to make us
sheep's backe morality" which matches can
undervalue money. Of this cast are those notable observations, that money is not health ; riches cannot purchase everything; the metaphor which makes gold to be mere muck, with the morality which traces fine clothing to the sheep's back, and denounces pearl as the unhandsome excretion of an oyster. Hence, too, the phrase which imputes dirt to acres—a sophistry so barefaced, that even the literal sense of it is true only in a wet season. This, and abundance of similar sage saws assuming to inculcate content, we verily believe to have been the invention of some cunning borrower, who had designs upon the purse of his wealthier neighbour, which he could only hope to carry by force of these verbal jugglings. Translate any one of these sayings out of the artful metonyme which envelopes it, and the trick is apparent. Goodly legs and shoulders of mutton, exhilarating cordials, books, pictures, the opportunities of seeing foreign countries, independence, heart's ease, a man's own time to himself, are not muck-however we may be pleased to scandalise with that appellation the faithful metal that provides them for us.
OF TWO DISPUTANTS, THE WARMEST IS GENERALLY IN THE
Our experience would lead us to quite an opposite conclusion. Temper, indeed, is no test of truth; but warmth and earnestness are a proof at least of a man's own conviction of the rectitude of that which he maintains. Coolness is as often the result of an unprincipled indifference to truth or falsehood, as of a sober confidence in a man's own side in a dispute. Nothing is more insulting sometimes