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Whoever live at a different end of the town from me, I look upon as perso is out of the world, and only myself and the scene about me to be in it
When I was young, I thought all the world, as well as myself, was wholly taken up in discoursing upon the last new play.
My lord Cromarty, after fourscore, went to his country house in Scotland, with a resolution to stay six years there and live thriftily, in order to save up money, that he might spend in London.
It is said of the horses in the vision, that “ their power was in their mouths and in their tails.* What is said of horses in the vision, in reality may be said of women.
Elephants are always drawn smaller than life, but a flea always larger.
When old foľks tell us of many passages in their youth between them and their company, we are apt to think how much happier those times wero than the present.
Why does the elder sister dance barefoot, when the younger is married before her? is it not that she may appear shorter, and consequently be thought younger than the bride ?
No man will take counsel, but every man will take money: therefore money is better than counsel
I never yet knew a wag (as the term is), who was not a dunce.
A person reading to me a dull poem of his own making, I prevailed on him to scratch out six lines together; in turning over the leaf, the ink being wet, it marked as many lines on the other side; whereof the poet complaining, I bid him be easy,
“ for it would be better if those were out too.
At Windsor I was observing to my lord Bolingbroke, “ that the tower where the maids of honour lodged (who at that time were very handsome) was much frequented with crows.” My lord said, "it was because they smelt carrion."
ON GOOD MANNERS AND GOOD BREEDING. *
Good manners is the art of making those people easy
with whom we converse. Whoever makes the fewest persons uneasy
is the best bred in the company.
As the best law is founded upon reason, so are the best manners. And as some lawyers have introduced unreasonable things into common law, so likewise many teachers have introduced absurd things into common good manners.
One principal point of this art is, to suit our behaviour to the three several degrees of men; our superiors, our equals, and those below us.
For instance, to press either of the two former to eat or drink is a breach of manners;
but a tradesman or a farmer must be thus treated, or else it will be difficult to persuade them that they are welcome.
Pride, ill nature, and want of sense, are the three great sources of ill manners; without some one of these defects, no man will behave himself ill for want of experience, or of what, in the language of fools, is called knowing the world.
* Which lord Chesterfield thus defines, the result of much good sense, some good nature, and a little self-denial for the sake of others, and with a view to obtain the same indulgence from them."
I defy any one to assign an incident wherein reason will not direct us what to say or do in company, if we are not misled by pride or illnature.
Therefore I insist that good sense is the principal foundation of good manners; but, because the former is a gift which very few among mankind are possessed of, therefore all the civilized nations of the world have agreed upon fixing some rules upon common behaviour, best suited to their general customs or fancies, as a kind of artificial good sense, to supply the defects of reason. Without which the gentlemanly part of dunces would be perpetually at cuffs, as they seldom fail when they happen to be drunk, or engaged in squabbles about women or play. And, God be thanked, there hardly happens a duel in a year, which may not be imputed to one of these three motives. Upon which account, I should be exceedingly sorry to find the legislature make any new laws against the practice of duelling; because the methods are easy, and many, for a wise man to avoid a quarrel with honour, or engage in it with innocence. And I can discover no political evil in suffering bullies, sharpers, and rakes, to rid the world of each other by a method of their own, where the law has not been able to find an expedient.
As the common forms of good manners were intended for regulating the conduct of those who have weak understandings; so they have been corrupted by the persons for whose use they were contrived. For these people have fallen into a needless and endless way of multiplying ceremonies, which have been extremely troublesome to those who practise them, and insupportable to every body else : insomuch that wise men are often more uneasy at the over-civility of these refiners, than they could possibly be in the conversation of peasants or mechanics.
The impertinencies of this ceremonial behaviour, are no where better seen than at those tables where the ladies preside, who value themselves upon account of their good breeding; where a man must reckon upon passing an hour without doing any one thing he has a mind to; unless he will be so hardy as to break through all the settled decorum of the family. * She determines what he loves best, and how much he shall eat; and if the master of the house happens to be of the same disposition, he proceeds in the same tyrannical manner, to prescribe in the drinking part: at the same time you are under the necessity of answering a thousand apologies for your entertainment. And although a good deal of this humour is pretty well worn off among many people of the best fashion, yet too much of it still remains, especially in the country; where an honest gentleman assured me, that having been kept four days against his will at a friend's house, with all the circumstances of hiding his boots, locking up the stable, and other contrivances of the like nature, he could not remember, from the moment he came into the house to the moment he left it, any one thing, wherein his inclination was not directly contradicted; as if the whole family had entered into a combination to torment him.
But, beside all this, it would be endless to recount the many foolish and ridiculous accidents I have observed among these unfortunate prose
* In the Tatler, No. xx. p. 266 of this volume, these maxims are illustrated with some ludicrous examples.