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to one of moderate views, who keeps clear of opposite extremes, but their moral-judgment also—such as it is—condemns him. If, for instance, he has been raised to some high office without solicitation, and unconditionally, and afterwards refuses to vote through thick and thin with the Party of the Ministry that appointed him, against his own judgment, and without any regard for justice and the public good, he is likely to be denounced as an ungrateful traitor. And if he advocates some enlargement of popular rights, and also some wholesome restrictions, he will be reproached with 'inconsistency;' just as the Satyr, in the Fable, rebukes the inconsistency of the traveller, whose breath warmed his fingers, and cooled his porridge.
The effects of party-spirit in lowering the moral standard are gradual, and usually rather slow. But it often happens, on the occasion of some violent party-contest, that an apparently sudden change will take place in men's characters; and we are surprised by an unexpected outbreak of unscrupulous baseness, cruel injustice, and extravagant folly. In such cases, however, there can be little doubt that the evil dispositions thus displayed were lurking in the breasts of the individuals before, unknown by themselves and by those around them; and are merely called into activity by the occasion; even as a storm of wind raises the dust which it did not create. According to the proverb,1
'The pond that when stirred doea muddy appear, Had mud at the bottom when still and clear.'
1 See Proverbs and Precept*.
ESSAY LII. OF CEREMONIES AND
HE that is only real had need have exceeding great parts of virtue, as the stone had need to be rich that is set without foil; but if a man mark it well, it is in praise and commendation of men as it is in gettings and gains; for the proverb is true,'That light gains make heavy purses,' for light gains come thick, whereas great come but now and then; so it is true, that small matters win great commendation, because they are continually in use and in note, whereas the occasion of any great virtue cometh but on festivals. Therefore it doth much add to a man's reputation, and is (as Queen Isabella said) like perpetual letters commendatory, to have good forms. To attain them, it almost sufficeth not to despise them; for so shall a man observe them in others, and let him trust himself with the rest; for if he labour too much to express them, he shall lose their grace, which is to be natural and unaffected, Some men's behaviour is like a verse, wherein every syllable is measured. How can a man comprehend great matters, that breaketh his mind too much to small observations ?2 Not to use ceremonies at all, is to teach others not to use them again, and so diminish respect to himself; especially they are not to be omitted to strangers and formal natures; but the dwelling upon them, and exalting them above the moon, is not only tedious, but both diminish the faith and credit of him that speaks; and, certainly, there is a kind of conveying of effectual and imprinting3 passages amongst compliments, which is of singular use, if a man can hit upon it. Amongst a man's peers a man shall be sure of familiarity, and therefore it is good a little to keep state; amongst a man's inferiors one shall be sure of reverence, and therefore it is good a little to be familiar. He that is too much in any thing, so that he giveth another occasion of satiety, maketh himself cheap. To apply one's self to others is good, so it be with demonstration that a man doth it upon1 regard and not upon facility. It is a good precept generally in seconding another, yet to add somewhat of one's own; as if you will grant his opinion, let it be with some distinction; if you will follow his motion, let it be with condition; if you allow his counsel, let it be with alleging farther reason. Men had need beware how they be too perfect in compliments; for be they never so sufficient2 otherwise, their enviers will be sure to give them that attribute, to the disadvantage of their greater virtues. It is loss also in business to be too full of respects, or to be too curious3 in observing times and opportunities. Solomon saith, 'He that considereth the wind shall not sow, and he that looketh to the clouds shall not reap.'4 A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds. Men's behaviour should be like their apparel, not too strait or point device,5 but free for exercise or
'Ceremonies and respects. Conventional forms of politeness, and rides of etiquette. 'The sauce to meat js ceremony; Meeting were bare without it.'—Sliakespere. 'What art thou, thou idlo ceremony 1
Art thou aught else but place, degree and form?'—Shakespere. 'The Duke's carriage to the gentlemen was of fair respects'—Wotton. * Observations. Observances. 'Ho freed the christian Church from the external observation.'—White. 3 Imprinting. Impressive.
ANTITHETA ON CEEEMONIES AND RESPECTS.
'Si et in verbis vulgo parcmus, 'Quid deformius, quam scenam in
quidni in habita, et gestu? vitam transfcrre?
'If we accommodate ourselves to the 'What can be more disgusting than
vulgar in our speech, why not also in to transfer the stage into common life f our deportment 1'
'Magis placent cerussataj buccse, et
'Virtus et prudentia sine punctis, calamistrata comu, quam cerussati et
velut peregrinso Ungues sunt; nam vulgo calamistrati mores,
non intelliguntur. 'Rouged cheeks and curled hair cm
'Virtue aud wisdom without forms of less offensive than rouged and curled
politeness are strange languages, for manners.' they are not ordinarily understood.'
•Puncti translatio sunt virtutis in linguam vernaculam.
'Forms are the trandation of virtue ,
into the vulgar tongue.'
1 Upon. i» consequence of. See page 493.
5 Sufficient. Able. 'Who is sufficient for these things?'—1 Cor. ii. 16.
3 Curious. Exact; precise. 'Both these senses embrace their objects with a more curious discrimination.'—Holder. * Eccles. zi. 4.
s Point device. Extremely exact (with the nicety and precision of a stitch [French point] devised or made with the needle). 'Everything about you should demonstrate a careless desolation; but you are rather poinl de vise in your accoutrements, as loving yourself, than the lover of another.'—Shakespere.
'He that is only real had need have exceeding great parts of virtue.'
To attach as much importance (which a good many do) or more, to refined and graceful manners, than to more substantial qualities;—to prefer, as it were, a Pumpkin to a Pine-apple, because it has a smoother coat—does, certainly, show a frivolous turn, and a lack of wisdom. But there is no wisdom in needlessly incurring the ill will or contempt of that numerous class, the frivolous and unwise.
'Not to use ceremonies at all, is to teach others not to use them
Good manners are a part of good morals; and when form is too much neglected, true politeness suffers diminution: then we are obliged to bring some back; or we find the want of them. The same holds good in a higher department. Mankind are not formed to live without ceremony and form: the 'inward spiritual grace' is very apt to be lost without the 'external visible sign.' Many are continually setting up for the expulsion of ceremonies from this or that; and often with advantage, when they have so multiplied as to grow burdensome; but, if ever they have carried this too far, they have been forced to bring back some ceremonies.
Upon the whole, we may conclude that ceremony and form of every kind derive their necessity from our imperfection. If we were perfectly spiritual, we might worship God without any form at all, without even uttering words; as we are not, it is a folly to say, 'One may be just as pious on one day as another; in one place, or posture, as another,' &c.; I answer, angels may; Man cannot. Again, if we were all perfectly benevolent, good-tempered, attentive to the gratifying of others, &c., we might dispense with all the forms of goodbreeding; as it is, we cannot; we are not enough of heroes to fight without discipline. Selfishness will be sure to assail us if we once let the barriers be broken down. At the same time it is evident from what has been said, that the higher our nature is carried, the Jess form we need.
But though we may deservedly congratulate society on being able to dispense with this or that ceremony, do not let us be in a hurry to do so, till we are sure we can do without it. It is taking away crutches, to cure the gout. The opposite extreme of substituting the external form for the thing signified, is not more dangerous or more common than the neglect of that form. It is all very well to say, 'There is no use in bidding goodmorrow or good-night, to those who know I wish it; of sending one's love, in a letter, to those who do not doubt it,' &c. All this sounds very well in theory, but it will not do for practice. Scarce any friendship, or any politeness, is so strong as to be able to subsist without any external supports of this kind; and it is even better to have too much form than too little.
It is worth observing, in reference to conventional forms, that the ' vernacular tongue,' in which the forms of civility are expressed, differs in different times and places. For instance, in Spain it is a common form of civility to ask a man to dinner, and for the other to reply, 'Sure you would not think of such a thing.' To accept a first or second invitation would be as great a blunder as if, among us, any one who signed himself 'your obedient servant' should be taken literally, and desired to perform some menial office. If a Spanish gentleman really means to ask you to dinner, he repeats the invitation a third time; and tlien he is to be understood literally.
Serious errors may, of course, arise in opposite ways, by not understanding aright what is and is not to be taken as a mere complimentary form.