Imágenes de páginas

patron's displeasure, or to starve by remaining at home. He may now venture to appear in company with just such clothes as other men generally wear, and talk even to princes with all the conscious superiority of wisdom. Though he cannot always boast of fortune here, yet he can bravely exert the dignity of independence.




CONFIDENCE, as opposed to modesty and distinguished from decent assurance, proceeds from self-opinion, occasioned by ignorance or flattery. When a man over-rates himself, by his own folly or the knavery of others, he takes care on all occasions to do justice to his own merit. This extravagance makes him over-forward in business, assuming in conversation, sudden and peremptory in his answers, and afraid of nothing so much as to seem within the possibility of a

[blocks in formation]

mistake. It is true that sometimes people who - have the wit to know they are good for little, set up notwithstanding for men of sufficiency, and try if they can serve a turn upon the weakRess of the company. But this trick seldom succèeds long together; for whoever wants a good opinion of himself, and is not sincere in his vanity, will be apt to want spirit and presence of mind: a diffidence of himself will betray his meanness, especially when he meets with those who are his superiors in quality or sense.

A man must first deceive himself, before he can expect to deceive others: for he that is not conceited in his conscience, is never likely to make a coxcomb worth a groat. But when the mind is thoroughly tinctured, the face will hold the same colour, and the man will be proof against all oppositions of sense and difficulty.

A man of confidence presses forward upon every appearance of advantage, and thinks nothing above his management or his merit. He is not easily discouraged by the greatness of an attempt, by the quality of rivals, or by the frequency of miscarriage. He is ready to rally after a defeat; and grows more troublesome upon a denial. Thus when his force is too feeble, he prevails by dint of impudence; thus people are stormed out of

their reason and inclination, plagued into a com pliance, and forced to yield in their own defence

These men of forehead are magnificent in their promises, and infallible in their prescriptions, and seldom talk of less than certainty and demonstration. This talent makes them often succeed against modest men of much greater sufficiency, when the competition is governed by a popular choice. For though there is reason, in many cases, to decide controversies by the vote; yet it is no less true, on the other hand, that the majority of mankind is seldom the wisest. The multitude are more smitten with appearances than things. The noise, and glitter, and parade of a pretender, calls up their attention, and irresistibly flashes upon their weakness. It surprises their imaginanation, and subdues their judgment; so that a bold undertaker gains greatly upon the people, especially at his first outset. Nay, wise men are sometimes overborne or imposed on in this way, when they are taken at a disadvantage.

Indeed, this faculty is of great use to gain a prize, or carry on an imposture, and therefore, quacks, astrologers, pettifoggers, and republican plotters, cannot well live without it. It enables them to flourish, rail, and romance, to admiration. It makes impertinencies shine; impossibilities seem credible, and turns rat's-bane into

elixir vitæ. And when matters are brought to a crisis, and the croud drawn out, in expectation of something extraordinary, then if the mountain will not come to Mahomet, he will for once condescend to go to the mountain. And thus by entertaining the company with a jest, the prophet is disengaged, and the miracle adjourned to a more convenient season.

However, these men meet with their mortifications; when they happen to fall among people of judgment, they are looked through immediately; and then the discovery spreads apace; for confidence is apt to expose itself by over-grasping business, talking without thinking, and failing in the decencies of conversation. Now, when a bold man is out of countenance, he makes a very ridiculous figure. He is incapable of blushing for want of practice, and acts modesty with so ill a grace, that he is more ridiculous in the habit of virtue than in that of vice.

To describe him a little further. One of this character is like a foreign curiosity, most admired at first sight. He has gloss, but without either firmness or substance, and therefore like cloth ill made, he looks better in the shop than in the suit. In a word, he is the jest of wise men, and the idol of fools, and commonly his patent runs for his life time.




GOD in the fabric of the universe, first contemplated himself, and reflected on his own excellencies; from which he drew and constituted those first forms which are called ideas; so that every species which was afterwards expressed, was produced from that first idea, forming that wonderful contexture of all-created beings. But the celestial bodies above the moon being incorruptible and not subject to change, remained for ever fair and in perpetual order. On the contrary, all things which are sublunary are subject to change, to deformity, and to decay. And though nature always intends a consummate beauty in her productions; yet through the inequality of the matter, the forms are altered; and in particular human beauty suffers alteration for the worse, as we see to our mortification, in our deformities and disproportions. For which

« AnteriorContinuar »