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POLITENESS is nothing more than an elegant and concealed species of flattery, tending to put the person to whom it is addressed in good-humour and respect with himself; but if there is a parade and display affected in the exertion of it, if a man seems to say: Look how condescending and gracious I am! whilst he has only the common offices of civility to perform, such politeness seems founded in mistake, and calculated to recommend the wrong person; and this mistake I have observed frequently to occur in French manners.
DEFERENCE is the most complicate, the most indirect, and the most elegant of all compliments.
COMPLAISANCE, though in itself it be scarce reckoned in the number of moral virtues, is that which gives a lustre to every talent a man can be possessed of. It was Plato's advice to an unpolished writer, that he should sacrifice to the Graces. In the same manner I would advise every man of learning, who would not appear in the world a mere scholar, or philosopher, to make himself master of the social virtue which I have here mentioned. Complaisance renders a superior amiable, an equal agreeable, and an inferior acceptable. It smooths distinction, sweetens conversation, and makes every one in the company pleased with himself. It produces good nature and mutual benevolence, encourages the timorous, soothes the turbulent, humanises the fierce, and distinguishes a society of civilised persons from a confusion of savages.
CEREMONIES are different in every country; but true politeness is everywhere the same. Ceremonies which take up so much of our attention, are only artificial helps which ignorance assumes in order to imitate politeness, which is the result of good sense and good nature. A person possessed of those qualities, though he had never seen a court, is truly agreeable ; and if without them, would continue a clown, though he had been all his life a gentleman usher.
Citizen of the World,
THE follies of others are ever most ridiculous to those who are themselves most foolish.
O HARD condition ! twin-born with greatness,
Never sees horrid night, the child of hell;
Henry V., Act IV., Scene 1.
COMPLIMENTS. WHEN two people compliment each other with the choice of any thing, each of them generally gets that which he likes least.
SHEPHERD, I take thy word,
So, so; there! Aches contract and starve your supple joints ! That there should be small love 'mongst these sweet knaves, And all this court'sy ! The strain of man's bred out Into baboon and monkey.
Timon of Athens. CEREMONY resembles that base coin which circulates through a co try by the royal mandate; it serves every purpose of real money at home; but it is entirely useless if carried abroad : a
The many still must labour for the one!
The Corsair, Canto I.
person who should attempt to circulate his native trash in another country would be thought either ridiculous or culpable. He is truly well-bred who knows when to value and when to despise these national peculiarities which are regarded by some with so much observance. A traveller of taste at once perceives that the wise are polite all the world over; but that fools are only polite at home.
SUCCESS, the mark no mortal wit,
Hudibras, Part I., Canto 1.
BUTLER. Miscellaneous Thoughts,
CENSURE. CENSURE is the tax a man pays to the public for being eminent.
SWIFT CENSORIOUSNESS. IF a proneness to find faults is a very ill and mean thing, we are to remember that a proneness to believe them is next to it.*
* To speak no slander, no por listen to it.
MODERATION. MODERATION is the silken string running through the pearlchain of all virtues.
Not speaking much, pleased rather with the joy of her own thought.
WORDSWORTH. The Excursion.
For solitude sometimes is best society,
Paradise Lost, Book IX.
TRUE CONTENTMENT. And let me tell you, that every misery I miss is a new blessing
RELIGION converts despair, which destroys, into resignation, which submits.
FORTITUDE. NONE can aspire to act greatly, but those who are of force greatly to suffer. They who make their arrangements in the first run of misadventure, and in a temper of mind the common fruit of disappointment and dismay, put a seal on their calamities. To their power they take a security against any favours which they might hope from the usual inconstancy of fortune.
BURKE. TRUE Fortitude I take to be the quiet possession of a man's self, and an undisturbed doing his duty, whatever evil besets or danger lies in his way.
LOCKE. On Education.
MASSINGER, THE constantly cheerful man, who survives his blighted hopes and disappointments, who takes them just for what they are, lessons, and perhaps blessings in disguise, is the true hero.