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For they that stand upon their honor most,
I will not be behind him." Lapet has no sooner arrived at this determination, than he is joined by Shamont, “a supersitious lover of reputation,” at sight of whom he exclaims, “ Now a fine punch or two! I look for’t duly.”. But instead of receiving what he looks for, he is consulted by Shamont, who has“ taken a blow” what course he should pursue. “ Pooh sir," replies Lapet, “ that's nothing; I have taken forty.” # What” rejoins Shamont," and I charged thee thou shouldst not ?" Aye" answers Lapet, "you might charge your pleasure ; but they would give them me, whether I would or no. Then follows a dialogue of admirable humor.
Shamont desires Lapet to resolve him, (for he cannot ask a man more beaten to experience,") what “manner of blow is held the most disgraceful or distasteful?” Lapet. You put me to't Sir, but to tell you truth,
They're all as one with me, little exception!
I hold so reverently of the bastinado, Sir,
I'd put it in his band.
But being accustom'd to't, it is the better carried.
Tugs on the hair, your bob o'the lips, a whelp on't,
For't leaves no wind i' th' body,
'Tis certainly unsightly, so my table says,
But helps against the head ache, wond'rous strangely.
And makes your pent powers flush to wholesome sneezes.
In a wrung nose before. Lapet. Oh, plenitude, Sir,
Now we come lower, to our modern kick,
Wbich has been mightily in use of late,
And can there be a worse disgrace retorted ?
Or such a trifle.
All this is nothing to the wrong I bear;
Nor dare I let thee know it, 'tis so abject.
For I shall have it, at one time or another.
But I've the first on 'em, I thank 'em for't." Depend upon it, he has a good argument who succeeds in convincing himself, however he may fail to convince others, that the highest courage is the courage to be a coward. It requires no argument, (as the world goes,) to establish the contrary position. Falstaff's catechism of honor, is an invaluable piece of logic; and considerable benefit may be derived from the judicious reflexions, upon this subject, of a French writer (de Cyrano Bergerac,) whose works are less known than they deserve to be, considering the original humor with which they abound. In one of his imaginary epistles, ( Contre un Poltron,) he says to his fictitious correspondent, “ I know you are too discreet ever to recommend a duel; therefore I request your advice upon a matter respecting which my own mind is made up : for, as you know, nothing but blood can wash clean, honor that has once been soiled. Yesterday, I was called a fool; nay, they went so far as to give me a slap on the face, in my presence. It is true, the occurrence took place in a company of highly honorable persons; but certain silly ones, immediately said, I must either perish or have satisfaction. Now my dear friend, you, I am sure, would never counsel me to an act of cruelty: tell me, therefore, was I not sufficiently injured by the tongue and hand of this poltroon, without irritating his sword? For though I am vexed at being called a fool, I should be much more chagrined at the reproach of being dead. Once in my grave, they might traduce my valor with impunity. Will it not be much better, therefore, to keep out of it, that I may be ready at any time to punish them, if they should have the temerity to do so! A man does nothing be applauded, who risks his life before he is thirty, because he does not know what it is he risks; but let him risk it after that age, and I maintain that he is a lunatic. For my part, I love the day light, and think the sun beautiful; and I should not like to be underground, where it is impossible to see either. The meanest insect, alive, is better, to my thinking, than the great Alexander himself, dead. I am delighted, as much as any man, with the praises bestowed upon my wit; and the only praise, for which I have no relish, is that which would speak of me as of ' happy memory.' Besides, I have another reason, for not choosing to play tricks with my life; I have written my own epitaph; and the point of it is capital, provided I live to be a hundred, while it would be wholly destroyed, if I died before. Lastly, I abhor above all things, sickness; and there is nothing so injurious to health, as death.”
If a reasons were as plenty as blackberries," I do not think any man could be honestly required to give more, or better, than the above, for meekly submitting to
Johnson defines a coward to be “ a wretch whose predominant passion is fear.” But what is the proper definition of fear, I would fain know? Is not fear that “passion of our nature whereby we are excited to provide for our security upon the approach of evil?" And, pray, what good Christian is not bound to eschew evil? Be assured, there are more men in the world who fear to be afraid, than who are afraid of fear.
“ That all men would be cowards if they dare,
HOW TO PLEASE EVERY BODY.
By A CONTENTED BACHELOR,
I have always retained a very lively recollection of the impression made upon my mind when at school, by that excellent fable of the Old Man and his Ass, who tried to please every body but found, the more he tried, that he pleased nobody; not even himself. I remember, too, how I used to pity the poor
old fellow, now reviled for riding upon his ass, now jeered for walking by his ass, and now laughed at, as a fool, for carrying his ass. And I can distinctly recal the little burst of choleric sympathy with which I wished I had been present (for I have ever felt a sort of respectful kindness towards old people,) that I might have stood up in his defence, and persuaded him to ride upon his ass in spite of the wayfayers; or have helped him to carry
beast really stood in need of such indulgence.
But long after I had ceased to consider the old man's case in this compassionate manner, I remembered the “moral” of the fabulist, and applied it, with most edifying success, to my own concerns. Sometimes, indeed, I have pushed the doctrine of consulting nobody's opinion but my own, to extremes ; particularly on one occasion, when lodging in a crazy old house, which was wont to groan and crack most prophetically if there happened to be a little more wind than ordinary.
“ You had better not live there,” said one friend. “ It will tumble about your ears some night or other,” said a second. “ How can you be so obstinate,"? cried a third.
The more they talked, the more I was resolved neither to walk hy my ass, nor carry my ass, but to ride my ass; till at length there came a devil of a thunder storm one night, and then, sure enough, the whole building did “ tumble about my ears."
I went to bed that night in the garret. The next morning I was dug out of the cellar. Thither I had descended, bed and all, though with no other serious mischief, thank God! than being almost suffocated with dust, and quite up to my chin in brick and plaster. Three of the principal rafters, which could not endure to be thus rudely separated, after having stood together so many years, now stuck to each other, in this hour of common peril, more firmly than ever ; and to the fidelity of their mutual attachment I was indebted for a defence, which was undoubtedly the means of saving
On another momentous occasion, however, which occurred shortly after the above, my tenacious adherence to the principle of pleasing myself, was attended with the happiest consequences. I allude to my providential escape from a wife. I had very early subscribed to the doctrine of Sir Thomas Brown, in his Religio Medici, who says, “ the whole world was made for man, but the twelfth part of man for woman; man is the whole
world, and the breath of God; woman, the rib and crooked part of man." Like him, I was resolved never“ to marry once" ; and “ commended their resolutions who never married twice.” Moreover, I was particularly impressed with the truth of what follows these opinions, for which, however, I must beg leave to refer the curious reader to p. 154 (ed. 1645) of the work itself, because it is not the custom of these days to write and speak so plainly of certain matters, as our unsophisticated ancestors were pleased to do.
It is remarked by one of the ancients, (either Thucydides or Plato,) that “ promises, like pie-crusts, are made to be broken ”; and resolutions, which are nothing more than promises made to ourselves, possess this piecrust quality in a remarkable degree. I am the more anxious to establish this fact, because, until the occurrence of which I am about to speak, I never allowed myself to doubt, even, that I should adhere to my own resolution, and die a bachelor. But it is inost true, as another ancient has said, “ man's security is the devil's opportunity;" or, as I have seen it written, somewhere else, “ Hell is paved with good intentions.”
Some years ago, when I was at Bath, Mrs. Woakes make up to me with such unremitting vigor, that I seemed as if I could not help myself, but must fall into her hands; as birds are said to drop, in spite of themselves, into the expanded jaws of the rattlesnake, fascinated by the glare of its terrific eyes. Not that I was fascinated by Mrs. Woakes; for, though she was tolerably young, (that is, not quite three and twenty,) and really beautiful, and infinitely spritely, and as graceful as the graces themselves, and had money of her own to boot, still there was one ugly circumstance—she was a widow ;-and—but it is not necessary I should say what my opinions are upon the subject of marrying widows
I repeat, however, I was not fuscinated by Mrs. Woakes. I was only uncommonly puzzled to know what to do with her. She had made what is called a dead set at me; and while I was thinking of nothing else but how I should get away from her, the world, (in other words, my own friends and acquaintance, which are all that any man means when he talks of the world,) was thinking of nothing else but the inevitable certainty of my approaching union with the “ charming widow Woakes.” When, however, I began to observe that matters were really coming to extremities, and that it was impossible I could hold out another week, I took advantage of darkness, set all my sails, and escaped during the night. In plain English, without saying a word to any body, I packed up my trunks, ordered a postehaise to be at the door an hour after my usual time of going to bed, and set off for an autumnal tour to the Lakes. I learned afterwards, that Mrs. Woakes was married the next week, to Sir Boobykin Gosling, Bart. a descendant of the ancient family of the Goosecaps, who have flourished in this country from time immemorial, their pedigree extending beyond the Conquest, and their genealogical tree testifying that the renowned men of Gotham grew upon one of its branches. I also learned, that before the honey moon was in its wane, Sir Boobykin confessed his bride became dearer and dearer to him every day.
Since this memorable escape, I have resided in the quiet, rural village of Beaksbourne, a bachelor and a book-worm; confirmed, as may well be supposed, in my philosophy of self-happiness; resolved to please myself, at all events, leaving others to be pleased with me, according to their humor; and to do as I liked, without troubling myself whether the rest of the world liked what I did; for, a man shall as easily dress his body in garments that fit every one, as clothe his actions in a garb that seems meet to every one : and yet, it shall be very certain, perhaps, that both his body and his actions might be much better attired than they are ; though not so certain, that he therefore would do wisely in altering either. I admit the truth of the poet's doctrine :
No bandit fierce, no tyrant mad with pride,
All pleasures lessen, and all glories sink. But he who would reap the full harvest of social sympathy, must be his own husbandman; plough the soil, sow the seed, and water the growth himself; and then look for his reward in the fair market price of the commodity he has to sell. My faith is now so immoveably riveted in me, that if it were my humor to-morrow morning, to sip molten lead for breakfast, instead of Mocha coffee, with red hot buttered pantiles for muffins, I would do it and take the consequences, rather than take the consequences of asking my friends, or even my doctor, whether they would be good for me. Let every man try to please himself, and the chances are ninety-nine to a hundred in his favor, that he will please every body; but let him once try to please every body, and he has not even the solitary hundredth chance in favor of pleasing himself. Which, then, is the wiser course?
Beneath an unadorned yet lordly hall
Hark! a sound