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No. 484, No. 484.
Monday, September 15. Sept. 15, 1712 Neque cuiquam tam clarum statim ingenium est, ut possit
emergere , nisi illi materia, occasio, fautor enim com-
thro' any Profession, none seem to have so good a Title to the Protection of the Men of Eminence in it as the modest Man; not so much because his Modesty is a certain Indication of his Merit, as because 'tis a certain Obstacle to the producing of it. Now, as of all Professions this Virtue is thought to be more particularly unnecessary in that of the Law than in any other, I shall only apply my self to the Relief of such who follow this Profession with this Disadvantage. What aggravates the Matter is, that those Persons who, the better to prepare themselves for this study, have made some Progress in others, have, by addicting themselves to Letters, encreased their natural Modesty, and consequently heighten'd the Obstruction to this Sort of Preferment; so that every one of these may emphatically be said to be such a one as laboureth and taketh Pains, and is still the more behind. It may be a Matter worth discussing then, Why that which made a Youth so amiable to the Ancients, should make him appear 80 ridiculous to the Moderns ? and, Why in our Days there should be Neglect, and even Oppression of young Beginners, instead of that Protection which was the Pride of theirs? In the Profession spoken of, 'tis obvious to every one whose Attendance is requir'd at Westminster Hall, with what Difficulty a Youth of any Modesty has been permitted to make an Observation, that could in do wise detract from the Merit of his Elders, and is absolutely necessary for the advancing his own, I have often seen one of these not only molested in his Utterance of somer thing very pertinent, but even plunder'd of his Question, and by a strong Serjeant shoulder'd out of his Rank, which he has recovered with much Difficulty and Confusion. Now as great Part of the Business of this Profession might be dispatch'd by one that perhaps
-Abest virtute diserti
No. 484. Messalae, nec scit quantum Cascellius Aulus.-Hor. Monday,
Sept. 15, so I can't conceive the Injustice done to the Publick, if the 1712. Men of Reputation in this Calling would introduce such of the young ones into Business, whose Application to this Study will let them into the Secrets of it, as much as their Modesty will hinder them from the Practice: I say, it would be laying an everlasting Obligation upon a young Man, to be introduc'd at first only as a Mute 'till by this Countenance, and a Resolution to support the good Opinion conceiv'd of him in his Betters, his Complection shall be so well settled, that the Litigious of this Island may be secure
of his obstreperous Aid. If I might be indulged to speak in the Stile of a Lawyer I would say, That any one about thirty Years of Age, might make a common Motion to the Court with as much Elegance and Propriety as the most aged Advocates in the Hall,
I can't advance the Merit of Modesty by any, Argument of my own so powerfully, as by enquiring into the Sentiments the greatest among the Ancients of different Ages entertain'd upon this Virtue. If we go back to the Days of Solomon, we shall find Favour a necessary Con sequence to a shame-fac'd Man Pliny, the greatest Lawyer, and most elegant Writer of the Age he liv'd in, in several of his Epistles is very sollicitous in recommending to the Publick some young Men of his own Profession, and very often undertakes to become an Advocate, upon Condition that some one of these his Favourites might be joya'd with him, in order to produce the Merit of such, whose Modesty otherwise would have suppress'd it It may seem very marvelous to a sawcy Modern, that Multum sanguinis, multum verer cundiae, multum sollicitudinis in ore To have the Face first full of Blood, then the Countenance dash'd with Modesty, and then the whole Aspect as of one dying with Fear, when a Man begins to speak : should be esteem'd by Pliny the necessary Qualifications of a fine Speaker. Shakespear also has express'd himself in the same favourable Strain of Modesty when he says,
la the Modesty of fearful Duty
Of sawcy and audacious Eloqueace-
As the Case at present stands, the best Consolation that I can administer to those who cannot get into that Stroke of Business (as the Phrase is) which they deserve, is to reckon every particular Acquisition of Knowledge in this Study as a real Increase of their Fortune; and fully to believe, that one Day this imaginary Gain will certainly be made out by one more substantial. I wish you would talk to us a little on this Head; you would oblige,
Your most humble Servant.
The Author of this Letter is certainly a Man of good Sense ; but I am perhaps particular in my opinion on this Occasion, for I have observed, that, under the Notion of Modesty, Men have indulged themselves in a spiritless Sheepishness, and been for ever lost to themselves, their Families, their friends, and their Country. When a Man has taken care to pretend to nothing but what he may justly aim at, and can execute as well as any other, without Injustice to any other, it is ever Want of Breeding or Courage to be brow-beaten or elbow'd out of his honest Ambition. I have said often, Modesty must be an Act of the Will, and yet it always implies SelfDenial. For if a Man has an ardent Desire to do what is laudable for him to perform, and, from an unmanly Rashfulness, shrinks away, and lets his Merit languish in Silence, he ought not to be angry at the World that a
more unskilful Actor succeeds in his Part, because he has No. 484. not Confidence to come upon the Stage himself
. The Monday, Generosity my Correspondent mentions of Pliny cannot
1712. be enough applauded. To cherish the Dawn of Merit, and hasten its Maturity, was a Work worthy a noble Roman and a liberal Scholar. That Concern which is described in the Letter, is to all the World the greatest Charm imaginable ; but then the modest Man must proceed, and shew a latent Resolution in himself; for the Admiration of his Modesty arises from the Manifestation of his Merit I must confess, we live in an Age wherein a few empty Blusterers carry away the Praise of Speaking, while a Croud of Fellows over-stock'd with Knowledge are run down by them. I say over-stock'd, because they certainiy are so as to their Service of Mankind, if from their very Store they raise to themselves Ideas of Respect, and Greatness of the Occasion, and I know not what, to disable themselves from explaining their Thoughts. I must confess, when I have seen Charles Frankaír rise up with a commanding Mein and Torrent of handsome Words, talk a Mile off the Purpose, and drive down twenty bashful Boobies of ten Times his Sense, who at the same Time were envying his Impudence and despising his Understanding, it has been Matter of great Mirth to me; but it soon ended in a secret Lamentation, that the Fountains of every Thing Praise-worthy in these Realms, the Universities, should be so muddied with a false Sense of this Virtue, as to produce Men capable of being so abused. I will be bold to say, that it is a ridiculous Education which does not qualify a Man to make his best Appearance before the greatest Man and the finest Woman to whom he can address himself. Were this judiciously corrected in the Nurseries of Learning, pert Coxcombs would know their Distance : But we must bear with this false Modesty in our young Nobility and Gentry, 'till they cease at Oxford and Cambridge to grow dumb in the Study of Eloquence.
No. 485 No. 485.
Tuesday, September 16.
have done more Harm than those who have
when he sets his Heart upon it, that makes a strange Progress in Mischief. What may seem to the Reader the greatest Paradox in the Reflection of the Historian, is, I suppose, that Folly, which is generally thought incapable of contriving or executing any Design, should be so formidable to those whom it exerts it self to molest. But this will appear very plain, if we remember that Solomon says. It is as Sport to a Fool to do Mischief, and that he might the more emphatically express the calamitous Circumstances of him that falls under the Displeasure of this wanton Person, the same Author adds further, That a Stone is heavy, and the Sand weighty, but a Fool's Wrath is heavier than them both. It is impose sible to suppress my own Illustration upon this Matter, which is, That as the Man of Sagacity bestirs himself to distress his Enemy by Methods probable and reducible to Reason, so the same Reason will fortify his Enemy to elude these his regular Efforts, but your Fool projects, acts, and concludes with such notable Inconsistence, that no regular Course of Thought can evade or counterplot his prodigious Machinations. My Frontispiece, I believe, may be extended to imply, That several of our Misfortunes arise from Things, as well as Persons, that seem of very Little Consequence. Into what tragical Extravagances does Shakespear burry Othello upon the Loss of an Handker chief only? And what Barbarities does Desdemona suffer from a slight Inadvertency in regard to this fatal Trifle ? If the Schemes of all the enterprizing Spirits were to be