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• fore if you have nothing to say to the contrary, • I shall take Will. Alas, poor Tom!
* Your humble servant, T
• Biddy Loveless.'
NO 197. TUESDAY, OCTOBER 16.
Alter rixatur de lana fæpe caprina, et
HOR. Ep. XVIlI. 1. 1. ver. 15. One strives for trifles, and for toys contends : He is in carneft; what he says, defends : · That I should not be trusted, right or wrong, • Or be debarr'd the freedom of my tongue, • And not bawl what I please: To part with this 6. I think another life too mean a price.' The question is--Pray, 'what ?- Why, which cau
CREECH, EVERS 'VERY age a man passes through, and way of
life he engages in, has some particular vice or imperfection naturally cleaving to it, which it will require his nicest care to avoid. The several weakneffes, to which youth, old age, and manhood are exposed, have long since been set down by many both of the poets and philosophers; but I do not remember to have met with any author who has treated of those ill habits men are subject 10, not fo much by reason of their different ages and tempers,
as the particular professions or business in whick they were educated and brought up.
I am the inore surprised to find this subject fo little touched on, since what I am here speaking of is so apparent, as not to escape the most vulgar obfervation. The bufiness men are chiefly converfant in, does not only give a certain cast or turn to their minds, but is very often apparent in their outward bebaviour, and some of the most indifferent actions of their lives. It is this air diffusing itfelf over the whole man, which helps us to find out a person at his first appearance; fo that the most careless observer fancies he can scarce be miftaken in the carriage of a seaman or the gate of a tailor.
The liberal arts, though they may posibly have less effect on our external mien and behaviour, make so deep an impression on the mind, as is very apt to bend it wholly one way:
The mathematician will take little less than de monstration in the most common discourse, and the schoolman is as great a friend to definitions and fyllogifms. The phyfician and divine are often heard to dictate in private companies with the same authority which they exercise over their patients and disciples; while the lawyer is putting cases and raising matter for disputation out of every thing that occurs.
I may poffibly some time or other aniinadvert more at large on the particular fault each proferfion is most infected with ; but shall at present wholly apply myself to the cure of what I laft mentioned, namely that spirit of strife and contenion in the conversations of Gentlemen of the long robe.
This is the more ordinary, because these Gentlemen regarding argument as their own proper province, and very often making ready-money of it, think it unfafe to yield before company. They
are shewing in common talk how zealously they could defend a cause in court, and therefore frequently forget to keep that temper which is absolutely requisite to render conversation pleasant and in, Itructive.
Captain SeŅTRY pushes this matter fo far, that I have heard him say, He has known but few. Pleaders that were tolerable conpany.
The Captain, who is a man of good fenfe, but dry conversation, was last night giving me an account of a discourse, in whith he had lately been engaged with a young wrangler in the law. I was giving my opinion, says the Captain, without apprehending any debate that might arise from it, of à General's behaviour in a battle that was fought 1ome years before either the Templar or myself were born. The young Lawyer immediately took me up, and by reafoning above a quarter of an hour' upon a subject which I saw he understood nothing of, endeavoured to fhew me that my opinions were ill-grounded. Upon which, says the Captain, to avoid any farther contests, I. told him, That truly I had not considered those several arguments which he had brought against me, and that there might be a great deal in them. Ay, but, fays my antagonist, who would not let me escape fo, there are feveral things to be urged in favour of your opinion which you have omitted; and there. upon begun to shine on the other side of the queftion. Upon this, says the Captain, I came over to my first sentiments, and intirely acquiesced in his reasons for my so doing. Upon which the Templar again recovered his former posture, and confuted both himself and me a third time. In short, says my friend, I found he was resolved to keep me at sword's length, and never let me close with him, so that I had nothing left but to hold my tongue, and give my antagonist free leave to sinile at his.
vi&tory, who I found, like Hudibras, could still change hides, and still confiite.
For my own part, I have ever regarded our inns of court as 'nurseries of statesmen and lawgivers, which makes me often frequent that part of the town with great pleasure.
Upon my calling in lately at one of the most no. ted Temple coffee-houses, I found the whole room, which was full of young students, divided into feGeral parties, each of which was deeply engaged in fome controversy. The management of the late ministry was attacked and defended with great vigour; and several preliminaries to the peace were proposed by fome, and rejected by others; the de. nrolishing of Dunkirk was so eagerly insisted on,
and fo warmly controverted, as had like to have produced a challenge. In short, I observed that the defire of victory, whetted with the little prejudices of party and interest, generally carried the argu:ment to fuch a height, as made the difputants infensibly conceive an aversion towards each other, and part with the highest dissatisfaction on botlu fides,
The managing an argument handsomely being fo. nice a point, and what I have seen so very
few excel in, I shall here fet down a few rules on that head, which, among other things, I gave in write. ing to a young kinsman of mine, who had made fo great a proficiency in the law, that he began to plead in company upon every subject that was ftarted.
Having the intire manuscript by me, I may, per haps, from time to time, publish such parts of it as I shall think requisite for the instruction of the British youth. What regards my present purpose is as follows:
Avoid disputes as much as poflible. In order to appear easy and well-bred in conversation, you may affure yourself that it requires more wit, as well as
more good humour, to improve than to contradict the notions of another : But if you are at any time obliged to enter on an argument, give your reafons with the utmost coolness and modesty, two things which scarce ever fail of making an impreffion on the hearers. Befides, if you are neither dogmatical, nor shew, either by your actions or words, that you are full of yourfelf all will the more heartily rejoice at your victory. Nay, should you be pinchcd in your argument, you may
your retreat with a very good grace : You were never pofitive, and are now glad to be better informed. This has made fome approve the Socratical way of reasoning, where, while you scarce affirm any thing, you can hardly be caught in an absurdity, and though poffibly you are endeavouring to bring over another to your opinion, which is firmly fixed, you seem only to defire information from him.
In order to keep that temper which is fo difficult, and yet so neceffary to preserve, you may please to consider, that nothing can be more unjust or ridiculous, than to be angry with another because he is not of your opinion. The interests, education, and means by which men attain their knowledge, are so very different, that it is impolfible they should all think alike; and he has at least as much reafon to be angry with you, as you with him. Sometimes to keep yourself cool, it may be of service to ask yourself fairly, What might have been your opinion, had you all the biafes of education and interest your adversary may possibly have? But if you contend for the honour of victory alone, you may lay down this as an infallible maxim, That you cannot make a more false step, or give your antagonist a greater advantage over you, than by falling into a passion.
When an argument is over, how many weighty reasons does a man recollect, which his heat and violence inade him utterly forget?