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wish that possession accompanied with Garcia's disposition?
I flatter myself, that by this time most of my readers have acquired a tolerable idea of politeness, and a just notion of its use in our passage through life. I must, however, caution them of one thing, that under pretence of politeness they fall neither into a contempt, nor carelessness of science.
With dress, for once, the rule of life we'll place;
From giddy fops, points out th' accomplish'd beau.
Of all the follies into which men are apt to fall, to the disturbance of others, and lessening of themselves, there is none more intolerable than continual egotism, and a perpetual inclination to self-panegyric. The mention of this weakness is sufficient to expose it, since I think no man was ever possessed of so warm an affection for his own person, as deliberately to assert, that it and its concerns, are proper topics to entertain company. Yet there are many, who through 'want of attention fall into this vein; as soon as the conversation begins to acquire life, they lay hold of every opportunity of introducing themselves, of describing themselves, and if people are so dull as not to take the hint, of commending them. selves. Nay, what is more surprising than all this, they are amazed at the coldness of their auditors, forgetting that there is scarce a man in the room
who has not a better opinion of himself than of any body else.
Disquisitions of this sort into human nature belong properly unto sages in polite philosophy: for the first principle of true politeness, is not to offend against such dispositions of the mind as are almost inseparable from our species. To find out, and methodise these, requires no small labour and application. The fruits of my researches on this subject I freely communicate to the public, but must at the same time, exhort my readers to spare now and then a few minutes, to such reflections, which will at least be attended with this good consequence, that it will open a scene which has novelty, that powerful charm, to recommend it. But I must beware of growing serious again, for I am afraid my gravity may have disobliged some of the beau monde already.
It cannot be expected from me, that I should particularly criticise all those foibles through which men are offensive to others in their behaviour; perhaps too, a detail of this kind however exact, might be thought tedious; it may be construed into a breach of those rules, for a strict observance of which I contend. In order therefore to diversify a subject which can no other way be treated agreeably, permit me to throw together a set of characters I once had
the opportunity of seeing, which will afford a just picture of those Marplots in conversation, and which my readers if they please may call the Assembly of Impertinents.
There was a coffee house in that end of the town where I lodged some time ago, at which several gentlemen used to meet in an evening, who from a happy correspondence in their humours and capacities entertained one another agreeably from the close of the afternoon, till bed time. About six months this society subsisted with great regularity though without any restraint. Every gentleman who frequented the house, and had conversed with the erectors of this occasional club, was invited to pass the evening, when he thought fit, in a room up one pair of stairs set apart for that purpose.
The report of this meeting drew, one night when I had the honour of being there, three gentlemen of distinction who were so well known to most of the members, that admittance could not be refused them. One of them, major Ramble, turned of threescore, and who had had an excellent education, seized the discourse about an hour before supper, and gave us a very copious account of the remarks which he had made in three years travels through Italy.
He began with a geographical description of the dominious of his Sardinian majesty as duke of Savoy; and after a digression on the fortifications of Turin, in speaking of which he shewed himself a perfect engineer; he proceeded to the secret history of the intrigues of that court, from the proposal of the match with Portugal to the abdication of king Victor Amadeus. After this he ran over the general history of Milan, Parma, and Modena, dwelt half an hour on the adventures of the last duke of Mantua; gave us a hasty sketch of the court of Rome, transferred himself from thence to the kingdom of Naples, repeated the insurrection of Massaniello, and a quarter before ten, finished his observations with the recital of what happened at the reduction of that kingdom to the obedience of the present emperor. * What contributed to make this conduct the more absurd, was that every gentleman in the room had been in Italy, as well as he; and one of them, a merchant, was the very person at whose house the major resided when at Naples. Possibly he might imagine the knowledge they had in those things might give them a greater relish for his animadversions, or to speak more candidly, the desire of displaying his own parts, buried every other circumstance in eblivion.