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SPANIARDS AND PORTUGUESE.
We are apt to mistake the characters of the Spaniards ; there is in the very excess and abundance of their wit, joy, and good humour, a certain steady evenness of manners, equally distant from pedantry, levity, and affectation; more mirth of the heart than all the noise, grimace, and badinage of their neighbours; a kind of grave, dry, sententious humour, with a serene and placid firmness of countenance.
But from too much of the religious, and then of the military spirit, they have rapidly declined into enthusiasm and cruelty, and as the human character never stops, have still continued to sink into indifference, pride, indolence, and barren devotion; they cannot be excited to any great effort, but by superstitious terrors, love, revenge, and a fandango, the favourite dance of all ranks, in which, from a state of death-like stupidity, they will, at the first touch of an instrument, join with enthusiasm, animation, grace, and delight.
It seems to have been the system of Spain and Portu. gal, to protect themselves by distance and desolation ; to leave whole districts uncultivated, and roads impassable ; as military science declined, timidity succeeded to disci. pline, and men prepared for war, by casing themselves in armour to be smothered, or by shutting themselves up in castles to be starved; THEY FORGOT THAT NATIONAL STRENGTH CONSISTS IN AN ACTIVE, MOVING, DISPOSABLE FORCE, AND THAT THE SAFEST STATE OF DEFENCE is, BEING ALWAYS READY TO ATTACK.
The Portuguese pride has usefully changed its object, from the black cloak, spectacles, an affectation of wisdom and sanctity, and having nothing to do; they are grown fond of fine cloaths, are become diligent, enterprising, and active.
Lisbon is a mixture of luxury and misery, nastiness and magnificence; the buildings erected since the earthquake of 1755, are barbarously gigantic : the Marquis de Pombal, their chief projector, had the misfortune of being elevated out of the reach of controul, no man presumed to understand, even his own trade, so well as the prime minister.
SHORT RULES FOR CONVERSATION.
• BY LORD CHANCELLOR BACON. 1. To deceive men's expectations generally argues & settled mind, and unexpected constancy; as in matter of fear, anger, sudden joy, grief, and all things that may affect or alter the mind, on public or sudden accidents.
Il. It is necessary to use a stedfast countenance, not wavering with action, as in moving the head or hand too much ; which shews a fantastical, light, and fickle operation of the mind: it is sufficient, with leisure, to use a modest action of either.
III. In all kinds of speech, it is proper to speak leia surely, and rather drawingly, than hastily ; because hasty speech confounds the memory, and often drives a man to a non-plus, or an unseemly stammering: whereas slow speech confirms the memory, and begets an opi. pion of wisdom in the hearers.
IV. To desire in discourse to hold all arguments is ridiculous, and a want of true judgment; for no man can be exquisite in all things.
V. To have common places of discourse, and to want variety, is odious to the hearers, and shews a shallowness of thought: it is therefore good to vary, and suit speeches to the present occasion : as also to hold a moderation in all discourse, especially of religion, the state, great persons, important business, poverty, or any thing deserving pity.
VI. A long continued discourse, without a good speech of interlocution, shews slowness : and a good reply, without a good set off speech, shews shallowness and weakness.
VII. To use inany circumstances, before you come to the matter, is wearisome; and to use none at all, is blunt.
VIII. Bashfulness is a great hindrance to a man, both in uttering his sentiments, and understanding what is. proposed to him; it is therefore good to press forwards, with discretion, both in discourse and company of the better sort.
INSTANCE OF AN HONEST JEW. This was on an occasion, in which so many Christians as well as Hebrews, deviate frorn truth without scruple : I refer to certain abominable scenes of perjury and fraud
displayed in the business of justifying bail, as it is called, at the beginning of every term.
“ Are you worth eighteen hundred pounds after all your debts are paid,” was the question proposed. “ Eighteen hundred pounds,” replied the Jew, “is a great deal of money, and to speak the truth, I am not worth half so much, nor will I undertake to justify for it; but as the attorney has given me a twenty pound bank note, what am I to do with it?
The venerable chief justice Lord Mansfield, pleased and surprized at the circunstance, said, “ YOU ARE AN HONEST JEW, I advise you to keep the money."
The old man folding up the bank note deliberately, placed it in his pocket book and retired.
This Israelite would have been considered by most pera sons, as inore strictly honest, had he refused to take the money at all; unless he acted on the principle of spoiling the Egyptians, and punishing the rascal who had corrupted him.
The little regard which Jews have been supposed to pay to oaths, hath been attributed by some to the folTowing passage in the Talmud : “ He who wishes that any vow, promise or oath he may make, should be in. valid, and of no effect, let him rise early on the last day of the year, and pronounce the following words, turning his face towards Jerusalein : “ Whatever vows, promises, or oaths I enter into, during the ensuing year, may they be of no effect.”
THOUGHTS ON DEATH. MILTON has very judiciously represented the father of mankind as seized with horror and astonishment at the sight of death, represented to him on the mount of Vision, For surely nothing can so much disturb the passions, or perplex the intellects of man, as a disruption of his union with visible nature, a separation from every thing that has hitherto engaged or delighted him ; a change not only of the place, but the manner of his being ; an entrance into a state, not simply unknown, but which perhaps he has not faculties to know, and immediate and perceptible communication with the Supreme Being, and, what is above all distressful and alarming, the final sentence and inalterable allotments
Yet we, whom the shortness of life has made acquainte ed with mortality, can, without emotion, see generations of men pass away, are at leisure to establish modes of sorrow, to adjust the ceremonial of death, look upon funeral pomp as a ceremonial in which we have no concern, and turn away from it to trifles and amusements without dejection of look, or inquietude of heart.
It is indeed apparent from the constitution of the world, that there must be a time for other thoughts ; and a perpetual meditation upon the last hour, however it may become the solitude of a monastery, is inconsistent with many duties of common life. But surely the remembrance of death ought to predominate in our minds as an habitual and settled principle, always operating, though not always perceived'; and our attention should seldom wander so far froin our own condition, as not to be recalled and fixed by the sight of an event, which will soon, we know not how soon, happen likewise to ourselves, and of which, though we cannot appoint the time, may secure the consequence.
Yet, though every instance of death may justly awaken our fears, and quicken our vigilance, it seldom happens that we are much alarmed, unless some close connection is broken, sonne scheme frustrated, or some hope defeal, ed. There are therefore many, who seem to live without any reflection on the end of life, because they are wholly involved within themselves, and look on others as unworthy of their notice, without any expectation of receiving, or intention of bestowing good. - It is indeed impossible, without some mortification of that desire, which every man feels of being remembered and lamented, to behold how little concern is caused by the eternal (departure even of those who have passed their lives with public honours, and been distinguished by superior qualities, or extraordinary performances. It is not possible to be regarded by tenderness, except by a few. That merit which gives reputation and renown, diffuses its influence to a wide compass, but acts weakly in every single breast; it is placed at a distance from common spectators, and shines like one of the remote stars of which the light reaches us, but not the heat. The wit, the hero, the philosopher, whom either their tempers, or their fortunes have hindered from intimate relations, or tender intercourses, die often without any other effect than that of adding a new topic to the conversation
of the day, and impress none with any fresh convice tion of the fragility of our nature, because none had any particular interest in their lives, or were united to them by a reciprocation of benefits and endearments.
Thus we find it often happens, that those who in their lives have excited applause, and attracted admiration, are laid at last in the dust without the common honour of a stone ; because by those excellencies, with which many have been delighted, none have been obliged; and though they had many to celebrate them, they had none to love them.
Custom so far regulates the sentiments at least of common minds, that I believe men may be generally observed to grow less tender as they advance in age; and he who, when life was new, melted at the loss of every companion, can look, in time, without concern, upon the grave into which his last friend was thrown, and into which he himself is ready to fall; not because he is more willing to die than forinerly, but because he is more familiar with the death of others, and therefore not alarmed so far as to consider how much nearer he approaches to his end. But this is to submit tamely to the tyranny of accident, and to suffer our reason to lie useless. Every funeral may be justly considered as a summons to prepare for that state into which it is a proof that we must some time enter, and a summons more hard and piercing, as the event of which it warns us is at less distance. To neglect at any time making preparation for death, is to sleep on our post at a siege; but to ornit it in old age, is to sleep on an attack.
It has always seemed to me, one of the most striking passages in the visions of Quevedo, where he stigmatises those as fools who complain that they failed of happiness by sudden death. “How, says he, can death be sudden to a being, who always knew that he must die, and that the time of death was uncertain ?"
Since there are not wanting admonitions of our mortality to preserve it active in our minds, nothing can more properly revew the impression than the examples which every day supplies, and as the great incentive to virtue is the reflection that we must die, it may be useful to accustom ourselves, whenever we see a funeral, to consider how soon we may be added to the number of those whose probation is past, and whose happiness or misery shall endure for ever,