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"Mean time, noise kills not. Be it dapple's bray,
"And rush those other sounds, that seem by tongues
While thus she spake, I fainter heard the peals,
Beware of desp'rate steps. The darkest day (Live till to morrow) will have pass'd away.
THE MODERN RAKE'S PROGRESS.
THE Young Tobias was his father's joy;
He train'd him, as he thought, to deeds of praise,
"And why," said he, "should my fond father prate "Of virtue and religion? They afford "No joys, and would abridge the scanty few "Of nature. Nature be my deity,
"Her let me worship, as herself enjoins,
Then to town
To drown his freshness in a pipe of port.
Ices and soups, and dice, the bet at whist,
And no one knows what charming things are doing,
So Toby fares, nor heeds
Till terms are wasted, and the proud degree,
I KNOW no two words, that have been more abused by the different and wrong interpretations which are put upon them than these two, Modesty and Assurance. To say, such a one is a modest man, sometimes indeed passes for a good character; but at present is very often used to signify a sheepish awkward fellow, who has neither good-breeding, politeness, nor any knowledge of the world.
Again, a man of assurance, though at first it only denoted a person of a free and open carriage, is now very usually applied to a profligate wretch, who can break through all the rules of decency and morality without a blush.
I shall endeavour, therefore, in this essay, to restore these words to the true meaning, to prevent the idea of modesty from being confounded with that of sheepishness, and to hinder impudence from passing for assurance.
If I was put to define modesty, I would call it, 'The reflection of an ingenuous mind, either when a man has committed an action for which he censures himself, or fancies that he is exposed to the censure of others.
For this reason a man truly modest is as much so when he is alone as in company, and as subject to a blush in his closet, as when the eyes of multitudes are upon him.
I do not remember to have met with any instance of modesty with which I am so well pleased, as that celebrated one of the young prince, whose father, being a tributary king to the Romans, had severa! complaints laid against him before the senate, as a tyrant and oppressor of his subjects. The prince went to Rome to defend his father, but coming into the senate, and hearing a multitude of crimes proved upon him, was so oppressed when it came to his turn to speak, that he was unable to utter a word. The story tells us, that the fathers were more moved at this instance of modesty and ingenuousness, than they could have been by the most pathetic oration; and, in short, pardoned the guilty father for this early promise of virtue in the son.
I take assurance to be, The faculty of possessing a man's self, or of saying and doing indifferent things without any uneasiness or emotion in the mind. That which generally gives a man assurance is a moderate knowledge of the world, but above all, a mind fixed and determined in itself to do nothing against the rules of honour and decency. An open and assured behaviour is the natural consequence of such a resolution. A man thus armed, if his words or actions are at any time misinterpreted, retires within himself, and from a consciousness of his own integrity assumes force enough, to despise the little censures of ignorance or malice.
Every one ought to cherish and encourage in himself the modesty and assurance I have here mentioned.
A man without assurance is liable to be made uneasy by the folly or ill nature of every one he converses with. A man without modesty is lost to all sense of honour and virtue.
It is more than probable, that the prince above-mentioned possessed both these qualifications in a very eminent degree. Without assurance he would never have undertaken to speak before the most august assembly in the world; without modesty he would have pleaded the cause he had taken upon him, though it had appeared ever so scandalous.
From what has been said, it is plain, that modesty and assurance are both amiable, and may very well meet in the same person. When they are thus mixed and blended together, they compose what we endeavour to express when