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SINGULARITY OF MANNERS...
BY THE LATE REVEREND MR. GRAVES.
· "THERE are few people of such mortified pretensions, as patiently to acquiesce under the total neglect of mankind: nay, so ambitious are most men of distinction, that they choose to be taken notice of, even for their absurdities, rather than to be entirely overlooked and lost in obscurity; and, if they despair of exciting the attention of the world, by any brilliant or useful accomplishment, they will endeavour to gain it by some ridiculous peculiarity in their dress, their equipage, or accoutrements.
Many persons may remember a little foreigner, (Des Caseaux, I think, was his name,) who appeared daily in the Mall, dressed in black, with a hat of an enormous diameter, and a long roll of paper in his hand. His picturesque appearance tempted some artists to make an etching of him, which was exhibited in every shop. I mention this gentleman, because his professed intention was, he said, “tu attract the notice of the king, as he had done that of his subjects."
But we see daily instances of the same kind. One man sports a paradoxical walking-stiek; another. rises to fame by the shortness of his coat, or the length of his trowsers, or the multiplicity of capes on his shoulders, and the like efforts of genius and invention. I remem. ber a young divine some years ago, not otherwise emident either for learning or ingenuity, who wore his own short hair, when every one else wore long wigs, 6 in imi. tation," as he said, " of Gregory Naziauzen.”
It would be cruel to deprive these gentlemen of their slender gratification in these harmless particulars; but when we assure any thing peculiar in our appearance, in order to disguise our real character; when we affect an uncommon sanctity and solemnity of countenance to jmpose upon the world; we then become more than ridiculous, and are highly immoral...
A Tartuffe indeed, or a pretender to extraordinary devotion, is not a prevailing character in this age; too many are in the contrary extreme; and, like Colonel
Chartres, are guilty of every human vice except hypocrisy, Even our young divines, though doubtless much given to fasting and prayer in private, yet " appear not to men to fast ;' but anoint their hair, and exhibit their rosy faces ; and, by their dress, are not to be distinguished from profane sportsinen or country 'squires. I do not exempt the orators of the tabernacle from this description; who, instead of the priunitive locks of John Wesley, seem now to make female converts by their well-dressed hair and dapper appearance, · Yet, in every profession, there are still pretenders; who, by grimace or affected solemnity, endeavour to gain the confidence of the vulgar; and to exalt themselves above their equals in skill, and assume more importance than is their due. . However, if we must distinguish ourselves from the rest of mankind, let it be by our intrinsic virtue, our temperance, and sobriety, and a conscientious regard to every relative duty ; but, as we ought“ to think with the wise, and talk with the vulgar," let us also act differontly froin a great part of the world in matters of importance, but conform to them in trifles. This is what Seneca so forcibly inculcates in his fifth Epistle to his friend Lucilius.
" I both approve of your conduct, and sincerely re. joice that you resolutely exert yourself; and, laying aside every other pursuit, make it your whole study to improve yourself in iisdom and virtue, And I not only exhort but earnestly entreat you to persevere in this course,
“ Give me leave, however, to caution you not to imi. tate those pretended philosophers, who are more solici, tous to attract the notice of the world than make a pro, gress in wisdom; nor to affect any thing singular in your dress, or in your manner of life, Avoid that preposterous ambition of gaining applause by your uncouth appearance, your hair uncombed, and your beard neglected; nor be always declaiming against the use of plate, of soft beds, or any thing of that kind. The very name of a philosopher is sufficiently invidious, though ma, paged with the greatest modesty and discretion.
56. Suppose we have entered upon our Stoical plan, and begun to sequester ourselves from the conver, sation and customs of the vulgar; let every thing within be dissimilar; but let our outward appearance be conforınable to the rest of the world. Let not our apparel be splendid or shewy, nor yet mean or sordid. Let nog our plate be embossed with gold ; but let us not ima. gine that the mere want of such expensive plate is a sufficient proof of our frugality. Let us endeavour to live a better life, not merely a life contrary to that of the vulgar; otherwise, instead of conciliating the favour of those whom we wish to reform, we shall excite their aversion, and drive thein from our company; we shall also deter thein froin imitating us in any thing, when they are afraid that they are to imitate us in every thing.
“The first advantages which philosophy promises are, a just sense of the common rights of mankind, humanity, and a sociable disposition; from which advantages singularity and dissimilar manners will entirely seclude us. Let us beware lest those peculiarities, by which we hope to excite the admiration, should expose us to the ridicule and a version of mankind.
“ Our object is to live according to nature; but to torture our bodies, to abhor cleanliness in our persons, when attended with no trouble, or to affect a cynical filthiness in our food; this sure is living contrary to nature. As it is a mark of luxury to hunt after delicacies, to reject the common unexpensive comforts of life is a degree of madness. Our Stoic philosophy requires us to be frugal, not to mortify ourselves; but there is such a thing as an elegant frugality. This moderation is what I would recommend."
AN AFRICAN'S OPINION OF DUELLING.
(FROM THE FRENCH.) In the most brilliant period of the reign of Louis XIV. two African youths, the sons of a prince, being brought to the court of France, the King was so struck with the native dignity of their manners, that he appointed a Jesuit to instruct them in letters, and in the principles of Christianity ; when properly qualified, his Majesty gave to each a commission in the guards. The eldest, who was remarkable for his docility and candour, made a considerable progress in learning, as well as in the doctrine of the Christian religion, which he admired for the purity of its moral precepts, and the good will that it recom· mended to all mankind. A brutal officer, upon some trifling dispute, struck him. The youth saw that it was the result of passion, and did not resent it. A brother ofñcer, who witnessed the insult, took an opportunity of talking to him on his behaviour, which he did not hesitate to tell him, as a frieud, was too tame, especially for à soldier. « Is there,” said the young negro, “ one religion for soldiers, and another for gownsmen and merchants. The good father, to whom I am indebted for my instructions, has, above all things, earnestly recommended the forgiveness and forgetfulness of injuries, assuring me that it was the very characteristic of a Christian to love even his enemy, and by no means to retaliate un offence of any kind.” : « The lessons which the good father gave you," said the friend, “ may fit you for a monastery, but they will not qualify you either for the court or the army : in a word,” continued he, “ if you do not call the Colonel to an account, you will be branded with the infamous vanie of a coward, and avoided by every man of honour; and, what is more, your commission will be forfeited."-"I would fain," answered the young man, “act consistently in every thing; but since you press me with that regard to my honour which you have always shewn, I will endeavour to wipe off so foul a stain, though I must confess I gloried in it before." In consequence of which he immediately sent a challenge by his friend to the aggressor, to meet him early the next morning. They met and longht; the brave African disarmed his antagonist; the next day he threw up his commission, and requested the royal permission to return to his father. At parting, he embraced his brother and his friend, with tears in his eyes, saying, he did not imagine the Christians were such unaccountable persons, and that he could not apprehend their faith was of any use to them, if it did not influence their conduct. 5 In uny country," said he, “ we think it no dishonour to act up to the principles of our religion.”
THE BIBLE. HENRY KNYGHTON, a canon of Leicester, complained heavily of Wickliff, his neighbour and contemporary *, “ for having translated out of Latin into English the
* Wickliff was rector of Lutterworth, ia Leicestershire, and died in 1384.
a gospel, which Christ had entrusted with the clergy “ and doctors of the church, that they might minister it " to the laity and weaker sort, according to the exigency of « times and their several occasions : so that by this “ means the gospel jewel, or evangelical pearl, was made “ vulgar, was thrown about and trodden under foot of ““ swine *." The Mohammedans have been very careful to preserve their Koran froin the profanation here complained of : “ it is,” says Mr. Sale, the translator, “ in to the greatest reverence among them. They dare not so “ much as touch it, without being first washed or legally “ purified : which, lest they should do inadvertently, " they write these words on the cover, Let none touch “ it but who are clean. They read it with a supersti« tious reverence, never holding it below their girdles : “ they adorn it with gold and precious stones, &c. t." Henry Knyghton would have approved and commended all this, as just, deceut, and in order: but what would Henry Knyghton have said, if he had seen the Bible thumbed and dirtied in our schools, thrown by the boys at one another's heads, and consigned perhaps at length to the most humiliating offices ?
It should seem from Lord Bacon, that this familiarity with the Bible might lead by degrees to an actual privation of all religion, yea, even a sense of God's existence: for, reckoning up the sorts of atheists, he lays little stress upon the contemplative, sophistical, philosophical atheists, as they are called. “ Ainong these,” says he, “ atheism is rather in the lip than in the heart: these ** will ever be talking of their opinion, as if they were " wavering about it, and would gladly be strengthened “ by the consent of others. These seem to be more " than they are: but the great atheists indeed are hypo“ crites, who are ever handling holy things, without the “ least sense or feeling of their being so : so that these " must veeds be cauterized in the end 1.” Now, according to these ideas, may not the constant official handling of holy things make men atheists, by making
* Lewis's Hist. of Translations of the Bible, p. 20. 1729. 8vo,
+ Sale's Preliminary Discourse to the Koran, 4to.-The Jews had the same veneration for their law; not daring to touch it with uuwashen hands, nor then neither without a cover. Vide Milliam
de Mohammedismo ante Mohammed. p. 366. * I Essays, xvi.