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doing it, while he finds himself censured for faults he is not conscious of. A mind that is softened and humanized by friendship cannot bear frequent reproaches; either it must quite sink under the oppression, or abate considerably of the value and esteem it had for him who bestows them.
The proper business of friendship is to inspire life and courage ; and a soul thus supported outdoes itself; whereas, if it be unexpectedly deprived of these succours, it droops and languishes.
We are in some measure more inexcusable if we violate our duties to a friend than to a relation; since the former arise from a voluntary choice, the latter from a necessity to which we could not give our own consent.
As it has been said on one side, that a man ought not to break with a faulty friend, that he may not expose the weakness of his choice; it will doubtless hold much stronger with respect to a worthy one, that he may never be upbraided for having lost so valuable a treasure which was once in his possession.
No 386. FRIDAY, MAY 23, 1712.
Cum tristibus severè, cum remissis jucundi, cum senibus graria
ter, cum juventute comiter vivere.
The piece of Latin on the head of this paper is part of a character extremely vicious, but I have set down no more than may fall in with the rules of justice and honour. Cicero spoke it of Catiline, who, he said, lived with the sad severely, with the cheerful agreeably, with the old gravely, with the young pleasantly ;' he added, with the wicked boldly, with the wanton lasciviously.' The two last instances of his complaisance I forbear to consider, having it in my thoughts at present only to speak of obsequious behaviour as it sits upon a companion in pleasure, not a man of design and intrigue. To vary with every humour in this manner cannot be agreeable, except it comes from a man's own temper and natural complexion ; to do it out of an ambition to excel that way, is the most fruitless and unbecoming prostitution imaginable. To put on an artful part to obtain no other end but an unjust praise from the undiscerning, is of all endeavours the most despicable. A man must be sincerely pleased to become pleasure, or not to interrupt that of others; for this reason it is a most calamitous circumstance, that many people who want to be alone, or should be so, will come into conversation. It is certain that all men, who are the least given to reflexion, are seized with an inclination that way, when, perhaps, they had rather be inclined to company ; but indeed they had better go home and be tired with themselves, than force themselves upon others to recover their good-humour. In all this, the case of communicating to a friend a sad thought or difficulty, in order to relieve a heavy heart, stands excepted ; but what is here meant is, that a man should always go with inclination to the turn of the company he is going into, or not pretend to be of the party. It is certainly a very happy temper to be able to live with all kinds of dispositions, because it argues a niind that lies open to receive what is pleasa ing to others, and not obstinately bent on any particularity of his own.
This is it which makes me pleased with the character of my good acquaintance Acasto. You meet him at the tables and conversations of the wise, the impertinent, the grave, the frolic, and the witty ; and yet his own character has nothing in it that can make him particularly agreeable to any one sect of men; but Acasto has natural good sense, good-nature, and discretion, so that every man enjoys himself in his company ; and though Acasto contributes nothing to the entertainment, he never was at a place where he was not welcome a second time. Without these subordinate good qualities of Acasto, a man of wit and learning would be painful to the generality of mankind, instead of being pleasing. Witty men are apt to imagine they are agreeable as such, and by that means grow the worst companions imaginable ; they deride the absent or rally the present in a wrong manner, not knowing that if you pinch or tickle a man till he is uneasy in his seat, or ungracefully distinguished from the rest of the company, you equally hurt him.
I was going to say, the true art of being agreeable in company (but there can be no such thing as art in it) is to appear well pleased with those you are engaged with, and rather to seem well entertained, than to bring entertainment to others. A man thus disposed is not indeed what we ordinarily call a good companion, but essentially is such, and in all the parts of his conversation has something friendly in his behaviour, which conciliates men's minds more than the highest sallies of wit or starts of humour can possibly do. The feebleness of age in a man of this turn has something which should be treated with respect even in a man no otherwise ve. nerable. The forwardness of youth, when it proceeds from alacrity and not insolenee, has also
allowances. The companion who is formed for such by nature, gives to every character of life its due regards, and is ready to account for their imperfections, and receive their accomplishments as if they were his own.
It must appear
receive law from, and not give it, to your company, to make you agreeable.
I remember Tully, speaking, I think, of Antony, says, that In eo facetice erant, quæ nullá arte tradi possunt : 'He had a witty mirth, which could be acquired by no art.' This quality must be of the kind of which I am now speaking ; for all sorts of behariour which depend upon observation and knowledge of life are to be acquired; but that which no one can describe, and is apparently the act of nature, must be every where prevalent, because every thing it meets is a fit occasion to exert it; for he who follows nature can never be improper or unreasonable.
How unaccountable then must their behaviour be, who, without any manner of consideration of what the company they have now entered are upon, give themselves the air of a messenger, and make as distinct relations of the occurrences they last met with, as if they had been dispatched from those they talk to, to be punctually exact in a report of those circumstances ! It is unpardonable to those who are met to enjoy one another that a fresh man shall pop in, and give us only the last part of his own life, and put a stop to ours during the history. If such a man comes from 'Change, whether you will or not, you must hear how the stocks go ; and, though you are never so intently employed on a graver subject, a young fellow of the other end of the town will take his place and tell you, Mrs. Such-a-one is charmingly handsome, because he just now saw her. But I think I need not dwell on this subject, since I have acknowledged there can be no rules made for excelling this way; and precepts of this kind fare like rules for writing poetry, which, it is said, may
have prevented ill poets, but never make good ones.
N° 387. SATURDAY, MAY 24, 1712.
Quid purè tranquillet
HOR. 1, Ep. xviii. 10.
In my last Saturday's paper I spoke of cheerfulness as it is a moral habit of the mind, and accordingly mentioned such moral motives as are apt to cherish and keep alive this happy temper in the soul of man: I shall now consider cheerfulness in its natural state, and reflect on those motives to it which are indifferent either as to virtue or vice.
Cheerfulness is, in the first place, the best promoter of health. Repinings, and secret murmurs of heart, give imperceptible strokes to those delicate fibres of which the vital parts are composed, and wear out the machine insensibly ; not to mention those violent ferments which they stir up in the blood, and those irregular disturbed motions which they raise in the animal spirits. I scarce remember, in my own observation, to have met with many old men, or with such, who (to use our English phrase) wear well, that had not at least a certain indolence in their humour, if not a more than ordinary gaiety . and cheerfulness of heart. The truth of it is, health and cheerfulness mutually beget each other ; with