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THE BOASTFUL SCHOLAR.
tion, and in a coach too, roused the slumbering professor from a kind of dog-sleep, in a snug corner of the vehicle. Shaking his ears and rubbing his eyes, “ I think, young gentleman,” said he, “ you favoured us just now with a quotation from Sophocles; I do not happen to recollect it there." "
Oh, sir," replied our tyro, “ the quotation is word for word as I have repeated it, and in Sophocles too; but I suspect, sir, that it is some time since you were at college.” The professor, applying his hand to his greatcoat, and taking out a small pocket edition of Sophocles, quietly asked him if he would be kind enough to show him the passage in question in that little book. After rummaging the leaves for some time, he replied, “ Upon second thoughts, I now recollect that the passage is in Euripides.” “ Then, perhaps, sir," said the professor, putting his hand again into his pocket, and handing him a similar edition of Euripides, you will be so good as to find it for me in that little book.” The young Oxonian returned again to his task, but with no better success.
The tittering of the ladies informed hir that he had got into a hobble. At last, “ Bless me, sir," said he, “how dull I am! I recollect now, yes, yes,
I perfectly remember that the passage is in Æschylus." The inexorable professor returned again to his inexhaustible pocket, and was in the act of handing him an Æschylus, when our astonished student vociferated, “Stop the coach! -holloa, coachman, let me out I say, instantly let me out! there's a fellow here has got the whole Bodleian library in his pocket!"
Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. Better it is to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.—Proverbs xvi. 18, 19.
Christ says-Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart; and
ye shall find rest unto your souls.—Matt. xi. 29. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.--Matt. xviii. 4. COURTESY.
As men are of different dispositions and tempers, they would assuredly fall out with each other, if each were to say to another whatever arose in his thoughts. In order to avoid giving offence, it is necessary to put a restraint upon our thoughts in company, and only say what we think will probably not be displeasing to any.
In associating, men have also found it necessary to observe certain set forms of speech and conduct, of a respectful and affectionate kind, towards each other. One, in writing a letter to another, subscribes himself as his "obedient servant," though the individual whom he is addressing may be quite a stranger. If the writer be acquainted with the person addressed, he calls him dear sir," though he may in reality care little about him. There is in this a certain insincerity; but it is necessary, in order to avoid an appearance of rudeness or bluntness, which could not fail to hurt the feelings of the receiver of the letter.
Ladies and gentlemen, in conversing, address each other in respectful terms; a gentleman always hands a chair to a lady before he seats himself; each person waits till another has done speaking, before he begins to speak; all are deferential and kind to each other. No doubt many are little disposed to make this show of politeness; but it is proper, nevertheless, that it should be made, because any thing else would be offensive. It is better to put a slight constraint upon our inclinations, than, by bluntness, to give pain to our fellow-creatures. Politeness, in fact, has its true source in benevolence. If we love our fellow-creatures, as we ought to do, we cannot fail to be courteous to them, and to avoid giving them, by word or look, unnecessary offence.
It is also of importance to observe, that the real state of our feelings is liable to be very much affected by the very appearances of surrounding and connected things. live much amidst broils and jars, our feelings become harsh and irritable. If we live where only the soft words of courtesy are used, we become soft and courteous. In polite society we gradually gain the power of restraining all violent
If we THE PERSIAN PEASANT.
feelings, and at length become in reality the creatures which at first we only seemed.
Like other virtues, courtesy has its extremes. An overpolite or fawning manner is as disagreeable as rudeness. True politeness is an honest and manly complaisance, as far from cringing and obsequiousness on the one hand, as from insolence and indifference on the other.
THE PERSIAN PEASANT.
No one is so high but he may feel the courtesy of the most humble, and no one is so humble but he may win applause by courtesy. This is because it is not the value of a favour, or of an act of courtesy, that we chiefly esteem: we more esteem the feeling from which it springs, and the manner in which it is conferred. For the same reason, the greatest men, in giving the greatest possible favours, have sometimes won less love, than the humblest have gained by very little favours, or things which were no favour at all. It was said of Charles I. that he granted favours in so unpleasing a manner, that they procured him less affection than some other kings gained by courteously declining to gratify their courtiers. A peasant, meeting Artaxerxes, king of Persia, in one of his journeys, having nothing to present to his sovereign, ran to an adjacent stream, and, filling his hands with water, offered it to the king to drink. The monarch smiled at the oddness of the present, but thanked the giver, in whom, he said, it showed at least a courteous disposition. Such a peasant might be to appearance a clown, but his mind must have been, by nature, that of a gentleman.
THE ENGLISHMAN AT TURIN.
About the middle of the eighteenth century, when Englishmen travelling abroad, from their rareness, were objects of greater attention than now, one, in the course of the tour of Europe, arrived at Turin. Sauntering out to see the place, he happened to meet a regiment of infantry returning from parade. While he gazed at the passing troops, a young officer, evidently desirous to make a display before the stranger, in crossing one of the water-courses by which the city is intersected, missed his footing, and in trying to save himself, lost his hat. The populace laughed, and looked at the Englishman, expecting him to laugh too. On the contrary, he not only retained his composure, but, promptly advancing to where the hat had rolled, and taking it up, presented it with an air of unaffected kindness to its confused owner.
The officer received it with a blush of surprise and gratitude, and hurried to rejoin his company. There was a murmur of applause, and the stranger passed on. Though the transaction of a moment, and without a word spoken, it touched every heart—it was an act of that genuine politeness which springs from kind and gentle feelings. On the regiment being dismissed, the captain, who was a young man of rank, related the circumstance in glowing terms to his colonel. The colonel immediately mentioned it to the general in command; and when the Englishman returned to his hotel, he found an aide-de-camp waiting to request his company to dinner at head-quarters. In the evening he was carried to court-at that time the most brilliant in Europe and was received with particular attention. During his subsequent stay in Turin, he was invited to the houses of all persons of importance, and at his departure he received letters of introduction to the different states of Italy. Thus a private gentleman, of moderate means, by a graceful act of kindness, was enabled to travel through a foreign country, then of the highest interest for its society, with more real distinction and advantage than can be derived from the mere circumstances of birth and fortune, even the most splendid.
LOUIS THE FOURTEENTH.
Louis the Fourteenth, king of France, though in many respects not to be admired as a sovereign, displayed on many occasions the genuine politeness which springs from benevolence. In a gay party, at his palace of Versailles, an opportunity offered for his producing what he thought a droll story, but which, in telling, proved rather insipid. One of the company soon after left the room, and the king then said, “ I am sure you must have all observed how very
LOUIS THE FOURTEENTH.
uninteresting my anecdote was.” The persons present agreed that it was not exactly what they had been taught to expect. “ I did not recollect," said the king, “ till I had commenced my narrative, that the turn of it reflected very severely on the immediate ancestor of the Prince of Armagnac, who has just quitted us; and on this, as on every other occasion, I think it far better to spoil a good story than to distress a worthy man."
This prince never indulged himself, nor would he permit any of his family to indulge themselves, in raillery against private individuals.
“ Such sallies,” he said, “ from persons of our rank, are thunderbolts and poisoned arrows." When his son's wife on one occasion spoke of a man, loud enough to be heard by him, as the ugliest creature she ever saw, the king instantly said, with a severe look and an elevated voice, “ I esteem him the handsomest man in my dominions; he is one of my best officers and bravest defenders, and I insist on your immediately apologising to him for the rudeness you have been guilty of."
Complaisance renders a superior amiable, an equal agreeable, and an inferior acceptable. It smooths distinction, sweetens conversation, and makes every one in the company pleased with himself. It produces good nature, and mutual benevolence, encourages the timorous, soothes the turbulent, humanises the fierce,
and distinguishes a society of civilised persons from a confusion of savages.—ADDISON.
A man has no more right to say an uncivil thing than to act one; no more right to say a rude thing to another, than to knock him down.-JOHNSON.
Since trifles make the sum of human things,
But all may shun the guilt of giving pain.