Obrázky stránek

scratching his head, and such like indecencies, in company that he respected. In such companies, therefore, the only point to be attended to is, to show that respect which everybody means to show, in an easy, unembarrassed, and graceful manner. This is what observation and experience must teach you.

In mixed companies, whoever is admitted to make part of them, is, for the time at least, supposed to be on a footing of equality with the rest; and consequently, as there is no one principal object of awe and respect, people are apt to take a greater latitude in their behaviour, and to be less upon their guard; and so they may, provided it be within certain bounds, which are upon no occasion to be transgressed. But upon these occasions, though no one is entitled to distinguished marks of respect, every one claims, and very justly, every mark of civility and good breeding. Ease is allowed, but carelessness and negligence are strictly forbidden. If a man accosts you, and talks to you ever so dully or frivolously, it is worse than rudeness, it is brutality, to show him by a manifest inattention to what he says, that you think him a fool, or a blockhead, and not worth hearing. It is much more so with regard to women, who, of whatever rank they are, are entitled, in consideration of their sex, not only to an attentive, but an officious good breeding from men. Their little wants, likings, dislikes, preferences, antipathies, fancies, must be officiously attended to, and, if possible, guessed at and anticipated, by a well-bred man. You must never usurp to yourself those conveniences and gratifications which are of common right, such as the best places, the best dishes, &c.: but on the contrary, always de

cline them yourself, and offer them to others, who in their turns will offer them to you; so that upon the whole you will in your turn enjoy your share of the common right. It would be endless for me to enumerate all the particular instances in which a well-bred man shows his good breeding in good company; and it would be injurious to you to suppose that your own good sense will not point them out to you; and then your own good nature will recommend, and your self-interest enforce the practice.

There is a third sort of good breeding, in which people are the most apt to fail, from a very mistaken notion that they cannot fail at all. I mean with regard to one's most familiar friends and acquaintances, or those who really are our inferiors; and there, undoubtedly, a greater degree of ease is not only allowed, but proper, and contributes much to the comforts of a private social life. But ease and freedom have their bounds, which must by no means be violated. A certain degree of negligence and carelessness becomes injurious and insulting, from the real or supposed inferiority of the persons; and that delightful liberty of conversation among a few friends is soon destroyed, as liberty often has been by being carried to licentiousness.

But example explains things best, and I will put a pretty strong case: Suppose you and me alone together I believe you will allow that I have as good a right to unlimited freedom in your company, as either you or I can possibly have in any other; and I am apt to believe, too, that you would indulge me in that freedom as far as anybody would. But notwithstanding this, do you imagine that I should think there was

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

no bounds to that freedom? I assure you I should not think so; and I take myself to be as much tied down by a certain degree of good manners to you, as by other degrees of them to other people. The most familiar and intimate habitudes, connexions, and friendships, require a degree of good breeding both to preserve and cement them. The best of us have our bad sides, and it is as imprudent, as it is ill-bred to exhibit them. I shall not use ceremony with you; it would be misplaced between us; but I shall certainly observe that degree of good breeding with you which is, in the first place, decent, and which, I am sure, is absolutely necessary to make us like one another's company long.



[WILLIAM PITT, Earl of CHATHAM, is known to the world as one of the greatest of statesmen and orators. It does not accord with the nature of this work to introduce many speeches. One of those of Lord Chatham, however, is too remarkable to be omitted. His style of oratory was said to be of the highest class, rapid, vehement, and overpowering; and his delivery was fully equal to his thoughts and his diction. The remarkable circumstances attending his death, as related by Mr. Belsham, and the brilliant character of him drawn by Grattan, are both quoted, as being valuable in themselves, and as throwing light upon the speech which was delivered in parliament when he was upwards of sixty years old, and under circumstances almost as impressive as those related by Mr. Belsham.]

The last public Appearance, and the Death of Lord Chatham, as described by Mr. Belsham.

The mind feels interested in the minutest circumstances relating to the last day of the public life of this renowned statesman and patriot. He was dressed in a rich suit of black velvet, with a full wig, and covered up to the knees in flannel. On his arrival in the house, he refreshed himself in the lord chancellor's room, where he stayed till prayers were over, and till he was informed that business was going to begin. He was then led into the house by his son and son-in-law, Mr. William Pitt and Lord Viscount Mahon, all the lords standing up out of respect, and making a lane for him to pass to the earl's bench, he bowing very gracefully to them as he proceeded. He looked pale and much emaciated, but his eye retained all its native fire; which, joined to his general deportment, and the attention of the house, formed a spectacle very striking and impressive.

When the Duke of Richmond had sat down, Lord Chatham rose, and began by lamenting "that his bodily infirmities had so long and at so important a crisis prevented his attendance on the duties of parliament. He declared that he had made an effort almost beyond the powers of his constitution to come down to the house on this day, perhaps the last time he should ever be able to enter its walls, to express the indignation he felt at the idea which he understood was gone forth of yielding up the sovereignty of America. My lords," continued he, "I rejoice that the grave has not closed upon me, that I am still alive

to lift up my voice against the dismemberment of this ancient and noble monarchy. Pressed down as I am by the load of infirmity, I am little able to assist my country in this most perilous conjuncture; but, my lords, while I have sense and memory, I never will consent to tarnish the lustre of this nation by an ignominious surrender of its rights and fairest possessions. Shall a people, so lately the terror of the world, now fall prostrate before the house of Bourbon? It is impossible! In God's name, if it is absolutely necessary to declare either for peace or war, and if peace cannot be preserved with honour, why is not war commenced without hesitation? I am not, I confess, well informed of the resources of this kingdom, but I trust it has still sufficient to maintain its just rights, though I know them not. Any state, my lords, is better than despair. Let us at least make one effort, and if we must fall, let us fall like men."

The Duke of Richmond, in reply, declared himself to be "totally ignorant of the means by which we were to resist with success the combination of America with the house of Bourbon. He urged the noble lord to point out any possible mode, if he were able to do it, of making the Americans renounce that indepen dence of which they were in possession. His Grace added, that if he could not, no man could; and that it was not in his power to change his opinion on the noble lord's authority, unsupported by any reasons but a recital of the calamities arising from a state of things not in the power of this country now to alter."

Lord Chatham, who had appeared greatly moved during the reply, made an eager effort to rise at the conclusion of it, as if labouring with some great idea,


« PředchozíPokračovat »