« PreviousContinue »
CH A P.
THE MODERN RAKE'S PROGRESS
HE young Tobias was his father's joy;
He train'd him, as he thought, to deeds of praise, He taught him virtue, and he taught him truth, And sent him early to a public school, Here as it seem'd (but he had none to blame) Virtue forsook him, and habitual vice Grew in her stead. He laugh'd at honesty, Became a sceptic, and could raise a doubt E'en of his father's truth. 'Twas idly done To tell him of another world, for wits Knew better; and the only good on earth Was pleasure; not to follow that was fin. « Sure he that made us, made us to enjoy ; • And why, said he, should my fond father prate • Of virtue and religion. They afford • No joys, and would abridge the fcanty few • Of nature. Nature be • Her let me worship, as herself enjoins, • At the full board of plenty.' Thoughtless box! So to a libertine he grew, a wit, A man of honour, boastful empty names That dignify the villain. Seldom feen, And when at home under a cautious malk Concealing the lewd soul, his father thought He grew in wisdom as he
Unusual progress in a summer's night.
Be wise, be frugal, for 'tis all I can.'
So joyful he to Alma Mater went
Quick, Mr. Vintner, twenty dozen more;
So, blaming with good cause the vast expence,
So Toby fares, nor heeds,
KNOW no two words that have been more abused by
the different and wrong interpretations which are put upon them, than these two, Modesty and Assurance. To say, such a one is a modest man, sometimes indeed passes for a good character ; but at present is very often used to fignify a sheepish awkward fellow, who has neither good breeding, politeness, nor any knowledge of the world.
AGAIN, A man of afsurance, though at first it only denoted a person of a free and open carriage, is now very usually applied to a profligate wretch, who can break through all the rules of decency and morality without a blush.
I shall endeavour therefore in this essay to restore these words to their true meaning, to prevent the idea of Modesty from being confounded with that of Sheepishness, and to hinder Impudence from pasling for Aflurance.
If I was put to define Modefty, I would call it, The reAlection of an ingenuous mind, either when a man has committed an action for which he censures himself, or fancies that he is exposed to the censure of others.
For this reason a man truly modest is as much fo when he is alone as in company, and as subject to a blush in his closet, as when the eyes of multitudes are upon him.
I do not remember to have met with any instance of modesty with which I am so well pleased, as that celebrated one of the young Prince, whose father, being a tributary king, to the Romans, had feveral complaints laid against him before the fenate, as a tyrant and oppressor of his subjects.. The Prince went to Rome to defend his father, but coming into the fenate, and hearing a multitude of crimes proved: upon him, was fo oppressed when it came to his turn to fpeak, that he was unable to utter a word. The story tells us, that the fathers were more moved at this instance of modesty and ingenuity, than they could have been by the most pathetic oration; and, in fort, pardoned the guilty father for this early promise of virtue in the son.
I TAKE Affurance to be, The faculty of poffesling a man's felf, or of faying and doing indifferent things without any uneasiness or emotion in the mind. That which generally gives a man assurance, is a moderate knowledge of the world, but above all, a mind fixed and determined in itself to do nothing against the rules of honour and decency. An open and assured behaviour is the natural consequence of such a resolution. A man thus armed, if his words or actions are at any time misinterpreted, retires within himself, and from a consciousness of his own integrity, affumes force enough to despise the little censures of ignorance or malice,