Imágenes de páginas

the least to feed upon; indeed it is the only stomach, that can here complain of its entertainment: if the proud man thinks it will be sufficient to pay his fine of affability to his neighbours once in seven years upon a parliamentary canvass, he is cruelly mistaken; the common people in this country have such a share of intuition, understand their own strength so well, and scrutinize into the weakneffes of their superiors so acutely, that they are neither to be deceived nor intimidated; and on that account, (as the proud man's character is compounded of the impostor and the bully) they are the very worst people he can deal with. A man may strut in Spain, vapour in France, or kick and cuff the vulgar as he likes in Russia; he may sit erect in his palanquin in India without dropping his eyes upon the earth he moves over; but if he carries his head in the air here, and expects the croud to make way for him, he will soon run foul of somebody that will make him repent of his stateliness. Pride then, it seems, not only exposes a man to contempt, but puts him in danger; it is also a very expensive frolic, if he keeps it up as it should be kept, for what signifies his being proud, if there is not somebody always present to exercise his pride upon? He must therefore of necessity have a set of humble cousins and toad-eaters about him, and as such cattle cannot be had for nothing in this country, he must pay them according to the value of their services; common trash may be had at a common price, but clever fellows know their own consequence, and will stand out upon terms: If Nebuchadnezzar had not had

all people, nations and languages' at his command, he might have called till he was hoarse before any one would have come to worship his image in the plain of Dura;' let the proud man take notice withal that Nebuchadnezzar's image was made of gold, and

[blocks in formation]


if he expects to be worshipped by all people after this fashion, and casts himself in the same mould, he must also cast himself in the same metal. if I am right in my assertion, that sycophants bear a higher price in England than elsewhere (and, if scarcity makes things dear, I trust they do), let the proud man consider if it be worth his while to pay dear for bad company, when he may have goodfellowship at an easy rate: Here then is another instance of his bad policy, and sure it is a sorrowful thing to be poor and proud.

That I may thoroughly do my duty to an order of men, to whose service I dedicate this short essay, I must not omit to mention, that it behoves a proud man in all places and on all occasions to preserve an air of gloominess and melancholy, and never to suffer so vulgar an expression as mirth or laughter to disarrange the decorum of his features: other men will be apt to make merry with his humour, but he must never be made merry by their's: In this respect he is truly to be pitied, for if once he grows sociable he is undone. On the contrary, he must for ever remain in the very predicament of the proud man described in the fragment of Euripides's Ixion---Φιλοις ἄμικτός καὶ πάσηπόλει--Urbi atque amicis pariter insociabilis: He must have no friend, for that would be to admit an equal; he must take no advice, for that would be to acknowledge a superior: Such society as he can find in his own thoughts, and such wisdom as he was sent into the world with, such he must go on with: as wit is not absolutely annexed to pedigree in this country, and arts and sciences sometimes condescend to throw their beams upon the low-born and the humble, it is not possible for the proud man to descend amongst them for information and society; if truth does not hang within his reach, he will never dive into a well

to fetch it up: His errors, like some arguments, move in a circle; for his pride begets ignorance, and his ignorance begets pride; and thus in the end he has more reasons for being melancholy than Master Stephen had, not only because it is gentleman-like, but because he can't help it, and don't know how to be merry.

I might enumerate many more properties of this contemptible character, but these are enough, and a proud man is so dull a fellow at best, that I shall gladly take my leave of him; I confess also that I am not able to treat the subject in any other than a vague and desultory manner, for I know not how to define it myself, and at the same time am not reconciled to any other definition of pride, which I have met in Mr. Locke's essay or elsewhere. It is called a passion, and yet it has not the essentials of a passion; for I can bring to mind nothing under that description, which has not reference either to God, to our fellow-creatures, or to ourselves. The sensual passions for instance, of whatever sort, have their end in selfish gratification; the generous attributes, such as valour, friendship, public spirit, munificence, and contempt of danger, have respect to our fellow-creatures; they look for their account in an honourable fame, in the enjoyment of present praise, and in the anticipation of that which posterity shall bestow; whilst the less ostentatious and purer virtues of self-denial, resignation, humility, piety, forbearance, and many others, are addressed to God alone, they offer no gratification to self, they seek for no applause from man. But in which of these three general classes shall we discover the passion of pride? I have indeed sometimes seen it under the cloak of religion, but nothing can be more opposite to the practice of it: It is in vain to enquire for it amongst the generous and social attributes, for its place is no where to be found in so

ciety; and I am equally at a loss to think how that can be called a selfish gratification, which brings nothing home to a man's heart but mortification, contempt, abhorrence, secret discontent and public ridicule. It is composed of contraries, and founded in absurdity; for at the same time that it cannot subsist without the world's respect, it is so constituted as never to obtain it. Anger is proverbially termed a short madness, but pride methinks is a perpetual one; if I had been inclined to use a softer word, I would have called it folly; I do confess I have often seen it in that more venial character, and therefore not to decide upon the point too hastily, I shall leave the proud man to make his choice between folly and madness, and take out his commission from which party he sees fit.

Good heaven! how pleasant, how complacent to itself and others is an humble disposition! To a soul so tempered how delightfully life passes in brotherly love and simplicity of inanners! Every eye bestows the chearing look of approbation upon the humble man; every brow frowns contempt upon the proud. Let me therefore advise every gentleman, when he finds himself inclined to take up the character of pride, to consider well whether he can be quite proud enough for all purposes of life: whether his pride reaches to that pitch as to meet universal contempt with indifference; whether it will bear him out against mortification, when he finds himself excluded from society, and understands that he is ridiculed by every body in it; whether it is convenient to him always to walk with a stiff back and a stern countenance; and lastly, whether he is perfectly sure, that he has that strength and self-support in his own human nature, as may defy the power and set at nought the favour of God, whe resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble.

There is yet another little easy process, which I would recommend to him as a kind of probationary rehearsal before he performs in public: I am persuaded it will not be amiss if he first runs over a few of his airs and graces by himself in his own closet: Let him examine himself from head to foot in his glass, and if he finds himself no handsomer, no stronger, no taller than the rest of his fellowcreatures, he may venture without risque to conclude that he like them is a man, and nothing more: Having settled this point, and taken place in the human creation, he may next proceed to consider what that place ought to be; for this purpose he may consult his pedigree and his rent-roll, and if upon a careful perusal of these documents he shall find, (as most likely he will) that he is not decidedly the noblest and the richest man in the world, perhaps he will see no good cause, why he should strut over the face of it, as if it was his own: I would then have him go back to his glass, and set his features in order for the very proudest and most arrogant look he can put on; let him knit his brow, stretch his nostrils, and bite his lips with all the dignity he can summon; and after this, when he has reversed the experiment by softening them into a mild complacent look, with as much benignity as he can find in his heart to bestow upon them, let him ask himself honestly and fairly, which character best becomes him, and whether he does not look more like a man with some humanity than without it: I would in the next place have him call his understanding to a short audit, and upon casting up the sum total of his wit, learning, talents, and accomplishments, compute the balance between others and himself, and if it shall turn out that his stock of all these is not the prodigious thing it ought to be, and even greater than all other men's,

« AnteriorContinuar »