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the case still more strongly, a departed friend--a revered parent, perhaps, --whose image never occurs without awak. ing in your bosom sentiments of tender love and gratitude; how would you feel if you heard this honoured name bandied about with unfeeling familiarity and indecent levi. ty; or, at best, thrust into every pause of speech as a vul. gar expletive? Does not your affectionate heart recoil at the thought? And yet the hallowed name of your truest Benefactor, your heavenly Father, your best Friend, who gives you all you enjoy, those very friends in whom you so much delight, those very organs with which you disa honour him, is treated with an irreverence, a contempt, a wantonness, with which you cannot bear the very thought or mention of treating a human friend. His name is impiously, is unfeelingly, is ungratefully singled out as the object of decided irreverence, of systematic contempt, of thoughtless levity. It is used indiscriminately to express anger, joy, grief, surprise, impatience; and what is almost still more unpardonable than all, it is wantonly used as a mere unmeaning expletive, which, being excited by no emotion, can have nothing to recommend it, unless it be the pleasure of the sin.
Among the deep, but less obvious, mischiefs of conver. sation, misrepresentation must not be overlooked. Selflove is continually at work, to give to all we say a bias in our own favour. The counteraction of this fault should be set about in the earliest stages of education. If young persons have not been discouraged in the natural, but evil, propensity to relate every dispute they have had with others to their own advantage; if they have not been trained to the duty of doing justice even to those with whom they are at variance ; if they have not been led to aim at a com: plete impartiality in their little narratives, and instructed never to take advantage of the absence of the other party, in order to make the story lean to their own side more than the truth will admit; how shall we in advanced life look for correct habits, for unprejudiced representations, for fidelity, accuracy, and unbiassed justice?
Yet, how often in society, otherwise respectable, are we pained with narrations in which prejudice warps, and selflove blinds ! · How often do we see, that withholding part of a truth answers the worst ends of a falsehood! How often regret the unfair turn given to a business, by placing a sentiment in one point of view, which the speaker had used in another ! the letter of truth preserved, where its spirit is violated! a superstitious exactness scrupulously maintained in the under parts of a detail, in order to impress such an idea of integrity as shall gain credit, while the leading principle is designedly misstated ! nay, a new character given to a fact by a different look, tone, or em. phasis, which alters it as much as words could have done! the false impression of a sermon conveyed, when we do not like the preacher, or when through him we wish to make religion itself ridiculous! the avoiding of literal un. truths while the mischief is better effected by the unfair quotation of a passage divested of its context the bringing together detached portions of a subject, and making those parts ludicrous, when connected, which were perfect in their distinct position ! the insidious use made of a sentiment by representing it as the opinion of him who had only brought it forward in order to capose it the relat. ing opinions which had merely been put hypothetically, as the arowed principles of him we would discredit! that subtle falsehood which is so made to incorporate with a certain quantity of truth, that the most skilful moral chemist cannot analyze or separate them! for a good misrepresenter knows that a successful lie must have a certain infusion of truth, or it will not go down. All that indefina. -ble ambiguity and equivocation ; all that prudent deceit, which is rather implied than expressed ; those more delia cate artifices of the school of Loyola and of Chesterfield, which allow us when we dare not deny a truth, yet so to disguise and discolour it, that the truth we relate shall not resemble the truth we heard ! These, and all the thou. sand shades of simulation and dissimulation, will be carefully guarded against in the conversation of vigilant Christians.
Again, it is surprising to mark the common deviations from strict-veracity, which spring, not from enmity to truth, not from intentional deceit, not from malevolence or en. vy, or the least design to injure, but from mere levity, habitual inattention, and a current notion that it is not worth while to be correct in small things. But here the doctrine of habits comes in with great force, and in that view no error is small. The cure of this disease in its more inveteratestages being next to impossible, its preven
tion ought to be one of the earliest objects of education,*
The grievous fault of gross and obvious detraction which infects conversation, has been so heavily and sojustly condemned by divines and inoralists, that the subject is exhaust. ed. But there is an error of an opposite complexion, which we have before noticed, and against which the peculiar tem per of the times requires that young ladies of a better cast should be guarded. From the parrowness of their own sphere of observation, they are sometimes addicted to accuse of uncharitableness, that distinguishing judgment, which, resulting from a sound penetration and a zeal for truth, forbids persons of a very correct principle to be indiscriminately prodigal of commendation without inquiry, and without distinction. There is an affectation of can. dour, which is almost as mischievous as calumny itself; nay, if it be less injurious in its individual application, it is, perheps, more alarming in its general principle, as it lays waste the strong feices which separate good from evil. They know (though they sometimes calumniate) that cal. umny
is wrong; but they have not been told that flattery is wrong also; and youth, being apt to fancy that the di. rect contrary to wrong must necessarily be right, are apt to be driven into violent extremes. The dread of being only suspected of one fault, makes them actually guilty of the other; and to avoid the charge of harshness or of envy, they plunge into insincerity. In this they are actuated either by an unsound judgment or an unsound principle.
In this age of high-minded independence, when our youth are apt to set up for themselves, and every man is too much disposed to be his own legislator, without look. ing, as his standard, to the established law of the land; and to set up for his owo divine, without looking to the revealed will of God; by a candour equally vicious with our vanity, we are also complaisantly led to give the lati. tude we take; and it is become too frequent a phrase in the mouths of our tolerating young ladies, when speaking of their more erring and misled acquaintance, to offer for them this flimsy vindication, that what they do is right if it appear right to them :"-"if they see the thing in that light, and act up to it with sincerity, they cannot be mate. rially wrong." But the standard of truth, justice, and re
* See the Chapter on the use of Definitions:
Jigion, must neither be elevated nor depressed, in order to accommodate it to actual circumstances : it must never be lowered to palliate error, to justify folly, or to vindicate vice. Good-natured young people often speak favourably of unworthy, or extravagantly of common characters, from one of these motives ; either their own views of excellence are low, or they speak respectfully of the undeserving, to purchase for themselves the reputation of tenderness and generosity; or they lavish unsparing praise on almost all alike, in the usurious hope of buying back universal com. mendation in return; or in those captivating characters in which the simple and masculine language of truth is sacris ficed to the jargon of affected softness ; and in which smooth and pliant manners are substituted for intrinsic worth, the inexperienced are too apt to suppose virtues, and to forgive vices. But they should carefully guard against the error of making manner the criterion of merit, and of giving unlimited credit to strangers for possessing every perfection, only because they bring into company the engaging exterior of alluring gentleness. They should also remember that it is an easy, but not an honest way of obtaining the praise of candour, to get into the soft and popular habit of saying of all their acquaintance, when speak. ing of them, that they are so good! True Christian can. dour conceals faults, but it does not invent virtues. It tenderly forbears to expose the evil which may belong to a character, but it dares pot ascribe to it thegood which does not exist. To correct this propensity to false judg. ment and insincerity, it would be well to bear in mind, that while every good action, come from what source it may, and every good quality, be it found in whomsoever it will, deserves its fair proportion of distinct and willing commendation: yet no character is good, in the true sense of the word, which is not RELIGIOUS.
Io fine-to recapitulate what has been said, with some additional hints :-Study to promote both intellectual and moral improvement in conversation ; labour to bring into it a disposition to bear with others, and to be watchful over yourself; keep out of sight any prominent talent of your own, which, if indulged, might discourage or oppress the feeble minded. If you know any one present to possess any particular weakness or infirmity, never exercise your wit by maliciously inventing occasions which may
VOL. II. E 2
lead her to expose or betray it; but give as favourable a turn as you can to the follies which appear, and kindly? help her to keep the rest out of sight. Never gratify your own humour, by hazarding what you suspect may wound any one present in their persons, connexions, professionsin life, or religious opinions; and do not forget to examine whether the laugh your wit has raised be never bought at this expense. Give credit to those who, without your kindoess, will get none; do not talk at any one whom you dare not talk to, unless from motives in which the golden rule will bear you out. Seek neither to shine nor to triumph; and if you seek to please, take care that it be in order to convert the influence you may gain by pleasing to the good of others. Cultivate true politeness, for it grows out of true principle, and is consistent with the Gospel of Christ; but avoid those feigned attentions which are not stimulated by good-will, and those stated professions of fondness which are not dictated by esteem. Re. member, that the praise of being thought amiable by stran. gers, may be brought too dear, if it be brought at the ex. pense of truth and simplicity : remember, that Simplicity is the first charm in manner, as Truth is in mind ; and bould Truth make herself visible, she would appear invested in Simplicity.
Remember also, that true good nature is the soul, of which politeness is only the garb. It is not that artificial quality which is taken up by many when they go into so. oiety, in order to charm those whom it is not their partic. ular business to please ; and is laid down when they return home to those to whom to appear amiable is a realdu. ty. It is not that fascinating but deceitful softness, which, after having acted over a hundred scenes of the most lively sympathy and tender interest with every slight acquaint. ance ; after baving exhausted every phrase of feeling, for the trivial sicknesses or petty sorrows of multitudes who are scarcely known, leaves it doubtful whether a grain of real feeling or genuine sympathy be reserved for the dear. est connexions; and which dismisses a woman to her im. mediate friends with little affection, and to her own family with little attachment.
True good nature, that which alone deserves the name, is not a holiday ornament, but an every-day habit. It does not consist
in servile complaisance, or dishonest flat.