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that local good breeding of the place which he is at. A conformity and flexibility of manners is necessary in the course of the world ; that is, with regard to all things which are not wrong in themselves. The versatile ingenium is the most useful of all. It can turn itself instantly from one object to another, assuming the proper manner for each. It can be serious with the grave, cheerful with the gay, and trifling with the frivolous. Endeavor, by all means, to acquire this talent, for it is a very great one. [Same date.]
SELF-LOVE.-Do not let your vanity and selflove make you suppose that people become your friends at first sight, or even upon a short acquaintance. Real friendship is a slow grower, and never thrives unless ingrafted upon a stock of known and reciprocal merit. There is another kind of nominal friendship, among young people, which is warm for the time, but, by good luck, of short duration. This friendship is hastily produced, by their being accidentally thrown together, and pursuing the same course of riot and debauchery. A fine friendship, truly ! and well cemented by drunkenness and lewdness. It should rather be called a conspiracy against morals and good manners, and be punished as such by the civil magistrate.
The next thing to the choice of your friends is the choice of your company. Endeavor, as much as you can, to keep company with people above you. There you rise as much as you sink with people below you; for, as I mentioned before, you are whatever the company you keep is. Do not mistake, when I say company above you, and think that I mean with regard to their birth ; that is the least consideration ; but I mean with regard to their merit, and the light in which the world considers them. [Oct. 9, 1747.]
GOOD COMPANY.-There are two sorts of good company; one, which is called the beau monde, and consists of those people who have the lead in courts, and in the gay part of life; the other consists of those who are distinguished by some peculiar merit, or who excel in some particular and valuable art or science. For my own part, I used to think myself in company as much above me, when I was with Mr. Addison and Mr. Pope, as if I had been with all the princes in Europe. What I mean by low company, which should by all means be avoided, is the company of those, who, absolutely insignificant and contemptible in themselves, think they are honored by being in your company, and who flatter every vice and every
folly you have, in order to engage you to converse with them. The pride of being the first of the company is but too common; but it is very silly, and very prejudicial. Nothing in the world lets down a character more than that wrong turn.
You may possibly ask me, whether a man has it always in his power to get into the best company? and how? I say, yes, he has, by deserving it; provided he is but in circumstances which enable him to appear upon the footing of a gentleman. Merit and good breeding will make their way everywhere. Knowledge will introduce him, and good breeding will endear him to the best companies ; for, as I have often told you, politeness and good breeding are absolutely necessary to adorn any, or all other good qualities or talents. Without them, no knowledge, no perfection whatsoever, is seen in its best light. The scholar, without good breeding, is a pedant; the philosopher, a cynic; the soldier, a brute ; and every man disagreeable. [Same date.]
LOCAL PROPRIETY.-Remember that there is a local propriety to be observed in all companies; and that what is extremely proper in one company may be, and often is, highly improper in another. [Same date.]
The jokes, the bons mots, the little adventures, which may do very well in one company, will seem flat and tedious, when related in another. The particular characters, the habits, the cant of one company may give merit to a word, or a gesture, which would have none at all if divested of those accidental circumstances. Here people very commonly err; and, fond of something that has entertained them in one company, and in certain circumstances, repeat it with emphasis in another, where it is either insipid, or, it may be, offensive, by being illtimed, or misplaced.
Women have, in general, but one object, which is their beauty ; upon which, scarce any flattery is too gross for them to follow. Nature has hardly formed a woman ugly enough, to be insensible to flattery upon her person ; if her face is so shocking, that she must, in some degree, be conscious of it, her figure and her air, she trusts, make ample amends for it. If her figure is deformed, her face, she thinks, counterbalances it. If they are both bad, she comforts herself that she has graces; a certain manner; a je ne sçais quoi, still more engaging than beauty. This truth is evident, from the studied and elaborate dress of the ugliest women in the world. An undoubted, uncontested, conscious beauty is, of all women, the least sensible of flattery upon that head; she knows it is her due, and is therefore obliged to nobody for giving it her. She must be flattered upon her understanding; which, though she may possibly not doubt of herself, yet she suspects that men may distrust. [Oct. 16, 1747.]
There are a great many people, who think themselves employed all day, and who, if they were to cast up their accounts at night, would find that they had done just nothing. They have read two or three hours, mechanically, without attending to what they read, and, consequently, without either retaining it, or reasoning upon it. From thence they saunter into company, without taking any part in it, and without observing the characters of the persons, or the subjects of the conversation ; but are either thinking of some trifle, foreign to the present purpose, or, often, not thinking at all ; which silly and idle suspension of thought they would dignify with the name of absence and distraction. They go afterwards, it may be, to the play, where they gape at the company and the lights; but without minding the very thing they went to, the play. [Oct. 30, 1747.]
ACTION ! ACTION !-Remember the hoc age; do what you are about, be that what it will; it