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No. 40. SATURDAY, June 12, 1779.
TO THE AUTHOR OF THE MIRROR.
you the second division of my lecture on SiMULATION, as it respects the internal part of the science of politeness.
“Among barbarous nations, it has been observed, the emotions of the mind are not more violently felt than strongly expressed. Grief, anger, and jealousy, not only tear the heart, but disfigure the countenance; while love, joy, and mirth, have their opposite effects on the soul, and are visible, by opposite appearances, in the aspect. Now, as a very refined people are in a state exactly the reverse of a very rude one, it follows that, instead of allowing the passions thus to lord it over their minds and faces, it behoves them to mitigate and restrain those violent emotions, both in feeling and appearance; the latter, at least, is within the power of art and education, and to regulate it is the duty of a well-bred person. On this truly philosophical principle is founded that ease, indifference, or nonchalance, which is the great mark of a modern inan of fashion.
“ That instance of politeness which I mentioned (somewhat out of place indeed) in the first part of this discourse, the conduct of a fine lady at a tragedy, is to be carried into situations of real sorrow as much as possible. Indeed, though it may seem a bold assertion, I believe the art of putting on indifference, about the real object, is not a whit more difficult than that of assuming it about the theatrical. I have known several ladies and gentlemen who had acquired the first in perfection, without being able to execute the latter, at least to execute it in that masterly manner which marks the performances of an adept. One night, last winter, I heard Bob Bustle talking from a front-box, to an acquaintance in the pit, about the death of their late friend Jack Riot.—- Riot is dead, Tom; kick'd this morning, egad !'-Riot dead! poor Jack ! what did he die of?'— One of your damnation apoplectics killed him in the chucking off a bumper; you could scarce have heard him wheazle!'_Damn'd bad
. that! Jack was an honest fellow ! -What becomes of his grey poney ?'—*The poney is mine.'-Yours !'-—'Why, yes; I sta
. ked my white and liver-coloured bitch Phillis against the grey poney, Jack's life to mine for the season.'At that instant, a lady entering the box, (it was about the middle of the fourth act,) obliged Bob to shift his place; he sat out of ear-shot of his friend in the pit, biting his nails, and looking towards the stage, in a sort of nothing-to-do-ish way, just as the last parting scene between Jaffier and Belvidera was going on there. I observed (I confess, with regret, for he is one of my
favourite pupils) the progress of its victory over Bob's politeness. He first grew attentive, then hummed a tune, then grew attentive again, then took out his toothpick case, then looked at the players in spite of him, then grew serious, then agitated,---till, at last, he was fairly beat out of his ground, and obliged to take shelter behind lady Cockatoo's head, to prevent the disgrace of being absolutely seen weeping.
But, to return from this digression.The Simulation of indifference in affliction is equally a female as a male accomplishment. On the death of a very, very near relation, a husband, for instance, custom has established a practice, which polite
people have not yet been able to overcome; a lady must stay at home, and play cards for a week or two. But the decease of any one more distant, she is to talk of as a matter of
little ment, except when it happens on the eve of an assembly, a ball, or a ridotto ; at such seasons she is allowed to regret it as a very unfortunate accident. This rule of deportment extends to distresses poignant indeed; as, in perfect good-breeding, the fall of a set of Dresden, the spilling of a plate of soup on a new brocade, or even a bad run of cards, is to be borne with as equal a countenance as may be.
“ Anger, the second passion above enumerated, is to be covered with the same cloak of ease and good manners; injury, if of a deep kind, with professions of esteem and friendship. Thus, though it would be improper to squeeze a gentleman's hand, and call him my dear Sir, or my best friend, when we mean to hit him VOL. IV.