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The world recedes; it disappears !
With sounds seraphic ring:
O Death! where is thy Sting?
JONATHAN Swift. 1667-1745. (Manual, pp. 272-381.)
174. COUNTRY HOSPITALITY. Those inferior duties of life, which the French call les petites morales, or the smaller morals, are with us distinguished by the name of good manners or breeding. This I look upon, in the general notion of it, to be a sort of artificial good sense, adapted to the meanest capacities, and introduced to make mankind easy in their commerce with each other. Low and little understandings, without some rules of this kind, would be perpetually wandering into a thousand indecencies and irregularities in behavior; and in their ordinary conversation, fall into the same boisterous familiarities that one observes among them where intemperance has quite taken away the use of their reason. In other instances it is odd to consider, that for want of common discretion, the very end of good breeding is wholly perverted; and civility, intended to make us easy, is employed in laying chains and fetters upon us, in debarring us of our wishes, and in crossing our most reasonable desires and inclinations.
This abuse reigns chiefly in the country, as I found to my vexation when I was last there, in a visit I made to a neighbor about two miles from my cousin. As soon as I entered the parlor, they put me into the great chair that stood close by a huge fire, and kept me there by force until I was almost stifled. Then a boy came in a great hurry to pull off my boots, which I in vain opposed, urging that I must return soon after dinner. In the mean time, the good lady whispered her eldest daughter, and slipped a key into her hand; the girl returned instantly with a beer glass half full of aqua mirabilis and syrup of gillyflowers. I took as much as I had a mind for, but madam vowed I should drink it off; for she was sure it would do me good after coming out of the cold air; and I was forced to obey, which absolutely took away my stomach. When dinner came in, I had a mind to sit at a distance from the fire; but they told me it was as much as my life was worth, and sat me with my back just against it. Although my appetite was quite gone, I was resolved to force down as much as I could, and desired the leg of a pullet. “Indeed, Mr. Bickerstaff,” says the lady, "you must eat a wing, to oblige me; and so put a couple upon my plate. I was persecuted at this rate during the whole meal: as often as I called for small beer, the master tipped the wink, and the servant brought me a brimmer of October.
Some time after dinner, I ordered my cousin's man, who came with me, to get ready the horses; but it was resolved I should not stir that night; and when I seemed pretty much bent upon going, they ordered the stable door to be locked, and the children hid my cloak and boots. The next question was, What would I have for supper? I said, I never eat anything at night; but was at last, in my own defence, obliged to name the first thing that came into my head. After three hours, spent chiefly in apologies for my entertainment, insinuating to me, “That this was the worst time of the year for provisions; that they were at a great distance from any market; that they were afraid I should be starved; and that they knew they kept me to my loss;” the lady went, and left me to her husband; for they took special care I should never be alone. As soon as her back was turned, the little misses ran backward and forward every moment, and constantly as they came in, or went out, made a courtesy directly at me, which, in good manners, I was forced to return with a bow, and “ your humble servant, pretty miss.” Exactly at eight, the mother came up, and discovered, by the redness of her face, that supper was not far off. It was twice as large as the dinner, and my persecution doubled in proportion. I desired at my usual hour to go to my repose, and was conducted to my chamber by the gentleman, his lady, and the whole train of children. They importuned me to drink something before I went to bed; and, upon my refusing, at last left a bottle of stingo, as they call it, for fear I should wake and be thirsty in the night.
I was forced in the morning to rise and dress myself in the dark, because they would not suffer my kinsman's servant to disturb me at the hour I desired to be called. I was now resolved to break through all measures to get away; and, after sitting down to a monstrous breakfast of cold beef, mutton, neat's tongues, venison pasty, and stale beer, took leave of the family. But the gentleman would needs see me part of the way, and carry me a short cut through his own ground, which he told me would save half a mile's riding. This last piece of civility had like to have cost me dear, being once or twice in danger of my neck by, leaping over his ditches, and at last forced to alight in the dirt, when my horse, having slipped his bridle, ran away, and took us up more than an hour to recover him again.
FROM " GULLIVER'S TRAVELS."
1975. THE ACADEMY OF LEGADO. In the school of political projectors I was but ill entertained; the professors appearing, in my judgment, wholly out of their senses, which is a scene that never fails to make me melancholy. These unhappy people were proposing schemes for persuading monarchs to choose favorites upon the scores of their wisdom, capacity, and virtue; of teaching ministers to consult the public good; of rewarding merit,
great abilities, and eminent services; of instructing princes to know their true interest, by placing it on the same foundation with that of their people; of choosing for employments persons qualified to exercise them; with many other wild, impossible chimeras, that never entered before into the heart of man to conceive; and confirmed in me the old observation, That there is nothing so extravagant and irrational, which some philosophers have not maintained for truth.”
I heard a very warm debate between two professors, about the most commodious and effectual ways and means of raising money without grieving the subject. The first affirmed, “ The justest method would be, to lay a certain tax upon vices and folly; and the sum fixed upon every man to be rated, after the fairest manner, by a jury of his neighbors.” The second was of an opinion directly contrary: “To tax those qualities of body and mind for which men chiefly value themselves, the rate to be more or less according to the degrees of excelling, the decision whereof should be left entirely to their own breast.” The highest tax was upon men who are the greatest favorites of the other sex. Wit, valor, and politeness were likewise proposed to be largely taxed, and collected in the same manner, by every person's giving his own word for the quantum of what he possessed. But, as to honor, justice, wisdom, and learning, they should not be taxed at all, because they are qualifications of so singular a kind, that no man will either allow them in his neighbor, or value them in himself.
The women were proposed to be taxed according to their beauty and skill in dressing, wherein they had the same privilege with the men, to be determined by their own judgment. But constancy, chastity, good sense, and good nature, were not rated, because they would not bear the charge of collecting.
He gave it for his opinion that whoever could make two ears of corn or two blades of grass grow where only one grew before, would deserve better of his mankind, and do more essential service to his country, than this whole race of politicians put together. — Ibid.
1976. THOUGHTS ON VARIOUS SUBJECTS. When a true genius appeareth in the world, you may know him by this infallible sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.
It is in disputes as in armies, where the weaker side setteth up false lights, and maketh a great noise, that the enemy may believe them to be more numerous and strong than they really are.
I have known some men possessed of good qualities, which were very serviceable to others, but useless to themselves; like a sundial on the front of a house, to inform the neighbors and passengers, but Dot the owner within.
The power of fortune is confessed only by the miserable, for the happy impute all their success to prudence and merit.
Ambition often puts men upon doing the meanest offices : so, climbing is performed in the same posture with creeping.
Censure is the tax a man payeth to the public for being eminent.
Complaint is the largest tribute heaven receives, and the sincerest part of our devotion.
To be vain is rather a mark of humility than pride. Vain men delight in telling what honors have been done them, what great company they have kept, and the like; by which they plainly confess that these honors were more than their due, and such as their friends would not believe if they had not been told: whereas a man truly proud thinks the greatest honors below his merit, and consequently scorns to boast. I therefore deliver it as a maxim, that whoever desires the character of a proud man, ought to conceal his vanity.
Matthew PRIOR. 1664-1721.
1664-1721. (Mandal, p. 282.)
17. THE CHAMELEON.
As the Chameleon who is known
Thus, merely as his fortune chances,
If haply he the sect pursues,
He takes up their mysterious face;
Or if it be his fate to meet
But if, at first, he minds his hits,
JOHN GAY. 1688–1732. (Manual, p. 283.)
1978. THE HARE AND MANY FRIENDS.
A Hare who, in a civil way,
As forth she went at early dawn,