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What a Fund is here for Study! And what a Va* riety of easy Delights \ Or, if the Mind is hent upon Manual Exercise, the Knotting-Bag is readvat hand; and their skilful Fingers play their Part. Notwithstanding the Ridicule, which is thrown upon this Part of the Character, it appears to me, rather to merit our Applaufe, than to provoke our Laughter. With what Satisfaction have I beheld five or fix of these elegant Youths interspersed with an equal Number of Ladies, almost as delicate as themselves, and vying with them in their own Accomplishments! Rouz.ed by the. Ardor of Emulation, they work for Glory,, an.d assert the Prize of Feminine Merit*
With equal Skill their practised Fingers apply the Needle, and rejoin the Lace: With equal Facility they convey the gliding Shuttle through, the opening Thread, and form the various KnotsPretty Innocents! Kow virtuously, how usefully are their Hours employed! Not in the wrangling Squabbles of the Bar, or the unmannerly Contentions of the Senate; not in the robust Sports of the Field, ot in a toilsome Application to ungentleman-like Science; but in the pretty Fancies, of Dress, hi Criticisms upon Fashions, in the artful Disposition of China Jars, and other Foreign. Trinkets; in sowing, in knitting Garters, ini knotting of Fringe, and every gentle Exercise of Feminine Oeconomy.
If from their Studies we turn our Attention to their Converfation, we must be convinced, that In this Respect likewise they are so far from meI 4 riting xiting Contempt, that nothing in the World can be more resined, or more engaging.
It is an established Maxim in this School of Manners, never to oppose the Sentiments of the Company. Every Gentleman assents to every thing that is faid. Sometimes indeed, you may hear what appears, at first, like a Difference of judgment: But have a little Patience, and you will find it is only the genteel Interchange of Sentiments: For Sippius will go over to the Opinion of Fanniur, rather than be so rude to contradict him; and Fanniut will allow his Friend to be in the right, rather than be thought so ill-bred as not to give up such a Trifle as his own Judgment. Whereas your unrectified Spirits are eternally insisting upon the natural Right of maintaining their Opinions, and' the Liberty of speaking their Minds.
. The Liberty os speaking your Mind! A pretty Assertion truly! I know not what Arguments may be drawn in favour of it, from the musty Precepts of antiquated Sages, but I am certain, that Good-breeding absolutely difallows it: Neither indeed is it reconcileable with common Sense and Discretion; for he who difapproves my Sentiments, does, in effect, tell me / am a Fool. Consequently, let him talk ever so well, and reason (as you call it) ever so justly, he is sure to give Offence: Whilst the yielding Companion, the well-bred Assenter, never fails to conciliate Favour; for there is not a more engaging Compliment to the Understanding, than to facrifice your twn Vanity to That of another.
A Pretty Gentleman therefore scarce ever dissents. He will indeed sometime* fay, Obi pard'n me, mi Dear! I ke'n'f possibly be of that opinion f But then this is only a polite Artifice, that he may flatter your Judgment with a finer Address, when he afterwards suffers himself to be convinced by your superior Reasoning. To give him his Due, he has no Attachment to any one Opinion in the World, but that of preserving the Rules ofGood-breeding. In all other Cases, he has an Assent entirely at your Service; and you cannot change Sides oftener, than this most obsequious humble Servant will follow you. A Transgression ef Decorum is indeed so shocking to his Nature* that he cannot let it pass without Correction ;, but then it is always inflicted with a gentle Hand; The severest Animadversion never rises beyond this*, .
G / fie '. yefilihy, Creter-1
The Epithet filthy, as it appears upon Paper, may seem somewhat coarse and unclean : But were you to hear how he liquidates the Harshness of the Sound, and'conceab the Impurity of the Itieir By a sweetened Accent, you would grow enamoured'of his-Address, and admire the enchanting Beauties of refined Elbcution. Ob! fie! ye fit-by Creter! How easy, how gentle, how humane a Chastisement, for the highest Offence I
It has been observed (but I don't remember by what Author) that there are two Kinds of Converfation: The one, close and continued; the other, loose and unconnected. The First was practised amongst us whilst the Enemies of Ele-gance prevailed: But now she Littler bas deservedly gained the Ascendant; as it is persectly suited to the Turnand Cast of our pelite Assemblies of every Denomination [b]. The Gravity of dull Knowledge is at last happily exploded: Masculine Sense and Wit are rejected as obsolete aud unfashionable Talents; and better supplied by the nacre engaging Charms of the contrary Quantities^- Nothing is now heard, but sweat Chit-chat and tendei Pritfle-Prsttle, Shreds of Sentiments, jjnd Cutting; of Seatcnces,-^-alt soft afid charming, elegant and polite. . .
By this short Abstract of the prevathng Turn in polite Converfation, the Reader sees, that the Pretty Gentlenthn must nesesiarrly.be the best Company; because he will. neither osfend by the abominable Coarseness of manly Reason, nor the ungrateful Poignancy of keen Repartee: But though he is not fitch a Foul, or so ill-bred as to be down-right. Witty, he will now and then indulge himself in what he calls, The little Escapej es Fancy, which I will not injure so much as to. lank them under the Denomination of Wit. It the Company happens to.grow languid, FanntMShas an admirable Talent at reviving their Spirits by some pretty familiar. Remark-or ether; which,. obvious as it is, would never have entered into the Head cf an unrefined Mortal. On such an Occasion this little Wag will pat a Lady over the
f#f Drums, rtcttte Drum*,.' Dram-Mafars, Routs% Mtirrles, Riots, JTitaiislts, and Helter.43te!ters, the .several Appellations by which the moduli Assemblies arc. aptly characterized and onti»&uiilwd.
Shoulder, Shoulder, and teH her, with the most facetious Leer, / new, Mime,, yur't immoderately enter" taining..
And though this is all he fays, yes there is something in the Manner, in the Accent, and in. the—I don't hnoitu ivbat; that the Company instantly revive, and begin again to- exchange their Words. Nor let any Man imagine that this is a trifling Talent, which can raise Somfethmg. out of —Nothing, and restore a Society to Chearfulness and. Pleafantry; for good Manners require that Converfation mould be kept up at any Rate.
But when I told you that their Raillery vyasthe most inoffensive thing in Nature, and operated so finely, that it could scarce be felt; yes as there are no general Maxims but what have some Ex«eptiotis, I consess that Lepidulus now and thefc steps beyond the Rules of the Community, and like a little Wasp as he is, leaves his Sting in the Wound he inflicts. A certain Lady, who affect* a masculine Sense and Spirit of Jocularity, gave herself the Liberty to rally the modern Refinement, and in the Ardor of her Zeal was transported somewhat beyond the Limits of Decorum. Upon this, Lepidulus was so exasperated, that he could not, for the Soul of him, contain any longer, but steps towards her with a nettled Air, looks her full in the Face, and with a rebuking Countenance, mixed with Fear, gave vent to his Spleen, "I vew, Me'me! it—it—it's not— "without infinite Pains—that yu're able—to"make yureself less am'able.''