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corruption and degeneracy of the age wherein we live, the great and general want of sincerity in conversation is none of the least. The world is grown so full of dissimulation and compliment that men's words are hardly any signification of their thoughts; and if any man measure his words by his heart, and speak as he thinks, and do not express more kindness to every man than men usually have for any man, he can hardly escape the censure of want of breeding. The old English plainness and sincerity, that generous integrity of nature and honesty of disposition which always argues true greatness of mind, and is usually accompanied with undaunted courage and resolution, is in a great measure lost amongst us. There hath been a long endeavour to transform us into foreign manners and fashions, and to bring us to a servile imitation of none of the best of our neighbours in some of the worst of their qualities. The dialect of conversation is nowa-days so swelled with vanity and compliment, and so surfeited, as I may say, of expressions of kindness and respect, that if a man that lived an age or two ago should return into the world again, he would really want a dictionary to help him to understand his own language, and to know the true intrinsic value of the phrase in fashion, and would hardly at first believe at what a low rate the highest strains and expressions of kindness imaginable do commonly pass in current pay




and when he should come to understand it, it would be a great while before he could bring himself with a good countenance and a good conscience to converse with men upon equal terms, and in their own way.

And in truth it is hard to say whether it should more provoke our contempt or our pity to hear what solemn expressions of respect and kindness will pass between men, almost upon no occasion; how great honour and esteem they will declare for one whom perhaps they never saw before, and how entirely they are all on the sudden devoted to his service and interest, for no reason ; how infinitely and eternally obliged to him, for no benefit; and how extremely they will be concerned for him, yea, and afflicted too, for no cause. I know it is said, in justification of this hollow kind of conversation, that there is no harm, no real deceit, in compliment, but the matter is well enough, so long as we understand one another; et verba valent ut nummi, ' words are like money;' and when the current value of them is generally understood, no man is cheated by them. This is something, if such words were anything, but, being brought into the account, they are mere cyphers. However, it is still a just matter of complaint that sincerity and plainness are out of fashion, and that our language is running into a lie ; that men have almost quite perverted the use of speech,


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and made words to signify nothing; that the greatest part of the conversation of mankind is little else but driving a trade of dissimulation; insomuch that it would make a man heartily sick and weary of the world to see the little sincerity that is in use and practice among men.”

When the vice is placed in this contemptible light, he argues unanswerably against it in words and thoughts so natural that any man who reads them would imagine he himself could have been author of them.

"If the show of anything be good for anything, I am sure sincerity is better; for why does any man dissemble, or seem to be that which he is not, but because he thinks it good to have such a quality as he pretends to ? For to counterfeit and dissemble is to put on the appearance of some real excellency. Now, the best way in the world to seem to be anything is really to be what he would seem to be. Besides that, it is many times as troublesome to make good the pretence of a good quality as to have it; and if a man have it not, it is ten to one but he is discovered to want it; and then all his pains and labour to seem to have it are lost.”

In another part of the same discourse he goes on to show that all artifice must naturally tend to the disappointment of him that practises it.


Whatsoever convenience may be thought to be in falsehood and dissimulation, it is soon over ; but the inconvenience of it is perpetual, because it brings a man under an everlasting jealousy and suspicion, so that he is not believed when he speaks truth, nor trusted when perhaps he means honestly. When a man hath once forfeited the reputation of his integrity he is set fast, and nothing will then serve his turn, neither truth nor falsehood.”


-Id arbitror
Adprimè in vitâ esse utile, NE QUID NIMIS.

TER., Andr., Act 1, Scene 1, 33.

I take it to be a principal rule of life, not to be too much addicted to any one thing. Too much of anything is good for nothing.

Eng. Prov.

My friend Will Honeycomb values himself very

much upon what he calls the knowledge of mankind, which has cost him many disasters in his youth; for Will reckons every misfortune that he has met with among the women, and every rencounter among the men, as


parts of his education ; and fancies he should never have been the man he is had not he broke windows, knocked down constables, disturbed honest people with his midnight serenades, and beat up a lewd woman's quarters, when he was a young fellow. The engaging in adventures of this nature Will calls the studying of mankind; and terms this knowledge of the town the knowledge of the world. Will ingenuously confesses that for half his life his head ached every morning with reading of men overnight; and at present comforts himself under certain pains which he endures from time to time, that without them he could not have been acquainted with the gallantries of the age. This Will looks upon as the learning of a gentleman, and regards all other kinds of science as the accomplishments of one whom he calls a scholar, a bookish man, or a philosopher.

For these reasons Will shines in mixed company, where he has the discretion not to go out of his depth, and has often a certain way of making his real ignorance appear a seeming one. Our club, however, has frequently caught him tripping, at which times they never spare him. For as Will often insults us with the knowledge of the town, we sometimes take our revenge upon him by our knowledge of books.

He was last week producing two or three letters which he writ in his youth to a coquette lady. The raillery of them was natural, and well enough for a

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