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nions of the fair sex, I should believe the choice would have fallen on wisdom or virtue; or had women determined their own point of honour, it is probable that wit or good-nature would have carried it against chastity.
Nothing recommends a man more to the female sex than courage; whether it be that they are pleased to see one who is a terror to others fall like a slave at their feet, or that this quality supplies their own priucipal defect, in guarding them from insults, and avenging their quarrels; or that courage is a natural indication of a strong and sprightly constitution. On the other side, nothing makes woman more esteemed by the op. posite sex than chastity; whether it be that we always prize those most who are hardest to come at, or that .nothing besides chastity, with its collateral attendants, truth, fidelity, and constancy, gives the man a property in the person he loves, and consequently endears her to him above all things.
I am very much pleased with a passage in the inscription on a monument erected in Westminster Abbey to the late Duke and Duchess of Newcastle. "Her name was Margaret Lucas, youngest sister to the Lord Lucas of Colchester; a noble family, for all the brothers were valiant, and all the sisters virtuous."
In books of chivalry, where the point of honour is strained to madness, the whole story runs on chastity and courage. The damsel is mounted on a white palfrey, as an emblem of her innocence; and, to avoid scandal, must have a dwarf for her page. She is not to think of a man, until some misfortune has brought a knight errant to her relief. The knight falls in love, and did not gratitude restrain her from murdering her deliverer, would die at her feet by her disdain. How. ever, he must wait many years in the desert, before
*Fielding has happily and admirably illustrated this observation, in that chapter of his Tom Jones in which the hero breaks his arm in saving Sophia West
her virgin-heart can think of a surrender. The knight goes off, attacks every thing he meets that is bigger and stronger than himself, seeks all opportunities of being knocked on the head, and after seven years rambling, returns to his mistress, whose chastity has been attacked in the mean time by giants and tyrants, and undergone as many trials as her lover's valour.
In Spain, where there are still great remains of this romantic humour, it is a transporting favour for a lady to cast an accidental glance on her lover from a window, though it be two or three stories high; as it is usual for the lover to assert his passion for his mistress, in single combat with a mad bull.
The great violation of the point of honour from man to man, is giving the lie. One may tell another he whores, drinks, blasphemes, and it may pass unresented; but to say he lies, though but in jest, is an affront that nothing but blood can expiate. The reason perhaps may be, because no other vice implies a want of courage so much as the making of a lie; and therefore telling a man he lies, is touching him in the most sensible part of honour, and indirectly calling him a coward. I cannot omit under this head what Herodotus tells us of the ancient Persians, that from the age of five years to twenty they instruct their sons only in three things: to manage the horse, to make use of the bow, and to speak truth.
The placing the point of honour in this false kind of courage, has given occasion to the very refuse of mankind, who have neither virtue nor common sense, to set up for men of honour. An English peer, who has not been long dead, used to tell a pleasant story of a French gentleman that visited him early one morning at Paris, and after great professions of respect, let him know that he had it in his power to oblige him; which, in short, amounted to this, that he believed he could tell his lordship the person's name who jostled him as he came out from the opera; but before he would proceed, he begged his lordship, that he would
not deny him the honour of making him his second. The English lord, to avoid being drawn into a very foolish affair, told him, that he laid under engagements for his two next duels to a couple of particular friends. Upon which the gentleman immediately withdrew, hoping his lordship would not take it ill if he meddled no further in an affair from which he himself was to receive no advantage.
The beating down this false notion of honour, in so vain and lively people as those of France, is deserv. edly looked upon as one of the most glorious parts of their present king's reign. It is a pity but the punishment of these mischievous notions should have in it some particular circumstances of shame and infamy, that those who are slaves to them may see, that instead of advancing their reputation, they lead them to ignominy and dishonour.
Death is not sufficient to deter men who make it their glory to despise it; but if every one that fought a duel were to stand in the pillory, it would quickly lessen the number of these imaginary men of honour, and put an end to so absurd a practice.
When honour is a support to virtuous principles, and runs parallel with the laws of God and of our country, it cannot be too much cherished and encouraged; but when the dictates of honour are contrary to those of religion and equity, they are the greatest depravations of humau nature, and should be exploded, and driven out as the bane and plague of human society. I..
MEN GREAT IN THEIR DYING
Quos ille timorum Maximus haud urget lethi metus: inde ruendi In ferrum mens prona viris, animæque capaces Mortis
Thrice happy they beneath their northern skies,
AM very much pleased with a consolatory letter of Phalaris, to one who had lost a son that was a young man of great merit. The thought with which he comforts the afflicted father is, to the best of my memory, as follows: That he should consider death had set a kind of seal upon his son's character, and placed him out of the reach of vice and infamy: that while he lived he was still within the possibility of falling away from virtue, and losing the fame of which he was possessed. Death only closes a man's reputation, and determines it as good or bad.
This, among other motives, may be one reason why we are naturally averse to the launching out into a man's praise till his head is laid in the dust. Whilst he is capable of changing, we may be forced to retract our opinions. He may forfeit the esteem we have conceived of him, and some time or other appear to us under a different light from what he does at pregent. In short, as the life of any man cannot be called happy or unhappy, so neither can it be pronounced vicious or virtuous, before the conclusion of it.
It was upon this consideration that Epaminondas,
being asked whether Chabrias, Iphicrates, or be himself, deserved most to be esteemed? you must first see us die, said he, before that question can be answered.
As there is not a more melancholy consideration to a good man than his being obnoxious to such a change, so there is nothing more glorious than to keep up an uniformity in his actions, and preserve the beauty of his character to the last.
The end of a man's life is often compared to the winding up of a well-written play, where the princi. pal persons still act in character, whatever the fate is which they undergo. There is scarce a great person in the Grecian or Roman history, whose death has not been remarked upon by some writer or other, and censured or applauded according to the genius or prin ciples of the person who has descanted on it. Monsieur de St. Evremont is very particular in setting forth the constancy and courage of Petronius Arbiter during his last moments, and thinks he discovers in them a greater firmness of mind and resolution than in the death of Seneca, Cato, or Socrates. There is no question but this polite author's affectation of ap pearing singular in his remarks, and making discoveries which had escaped the observation of others, threw him into this course of reflection. It was Petronius's merit, that he died in the same gaiety of temper in which he lived; but as his life was altogether loose and dissolute, the indifference which he showed at the close of it is to be looked upon as a piece of natural carelessness and levity, rather than fortitude. The resolution of Socrates proceeded from very diffe. rent motives, the consciousness of a well-spent life, and the prospect of a happy eternity. If the ingenious author above-mentioned was so pleased with gaiety of humour in a dying man, he might have found a much nobler instance of it in our countryman Sir Thomas More.
This great and learned man was famous for enliven