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Exchange, has given me occasion to observe a certain enormity, which I shall here submit to your animadversion. In three or four of these taverns,, I have, at different times, taken notice of a precise set of people, with grave countenances, short wigs, black clothes, or dark camlet trimmed with black, and mourning gloves and hat-bands, who meet on certain days at each tavern successively, and keep a sort of moving club. Having often met with their faces, and observed a certain slinking way in their dropping in one after another, I had the curiosity to inquire into their characters, being the rather moved to it by their agreeing in the singularity of their dress; and I find, upon due examination, they are a knot of parish clerks, who have taken a fancy to one another, and perhaps settle the bills of mortality over their half-pints. I have so great a value and veneration for any who have but even an assenting amen in the service of religion, that I am afraid lest these persons should incur some scandal by this practice; and would therefore have them, without raillery, advised to send the Florence and pullets home to their own houses, and not pretend to live as well as the overseers of the poor.
I am, SIR,
Your most humble servant,
'I was last Wednesday night at a tavern in the city, among a set of men who call themselves "the lawyers' club." You must know, Sir, this club consists only of attorneys; and at this meeting every one proposes the cause he has then in hand to the board, upon which each member gives his judgment according to the experience he has met
with. If it happens that any one puts a case of which they have had no precedent, it is noted down by their clerk Will Goosequill (who registers all their proceedings), that one of them may go the next day with it to a counsel. This indeed is commendable, and ought to be the principal end of their meeting; but had you been there, to have heard them relate their methods of managing a cause, their manner of drawing out their bills, and, in short, their arguments upon the several ways of abusing their clients, with the applause that is given to him who has done it most artfully, you would before now have given your remarks on them. They are so conscious that their discourses ought to be kept a secret, that they are very cautious of admitting any person who is not of their profession. When any one who are not of the law are let in, the person who introduces him says he is a very honest gentleman, and he is taken in, as their cant is, to pay costs. I am admitted, upon the recommendation of one of their principals, as a very honest good-natured fellow, that will never be in a plot, and only desires to drink his bottle and smoke his pipe. You have formerly remarked upon several sorts of clubs; and as the tendency of this is only to increase fraud and deceit, I hope you will please to take notice of it.
'I am, with respect,
• Your humble servant,
No 373. THURSDAY, MAY 8, 1712.
Fallit enim vitium specie virtutis et umbrâ.
Juv. Sat. xiv. 10.
Vice oft is hid in Virtue's fair d'sguise,
MR. LOCKE, in his treatise of Human Understanding, has spent two chapters upon the abuse of words. The first and most palpable abuse of words, he says, is when they are used without clear and distinct ideas; the second, when we are so unconstant and unsteady in the application of them, that we sometimes use them to signify one idea, sometimes another. He adds, that the result of our contemplations and reasonings, while we have no precise ideas fixed to our words, must needs be very confused and absurd. To avoid this inconvenience, more especially in moral discourses, where the same word should be constantly used in the same sense, he earnestly recommends the use of definitions. A definition,' says he, is the only way whereby the precise meaning of moral words can be known.' He therefore accuses those of great négligence who discourse of moral things with the least obscurity in the terms they make use of; since, upon the fore-mentioned ground, he does not scruple to say that he thinks' morality is capable of demonstration as well as the mathematics.'
I know no two words that have been more abused by the different and wrong interpretations which are put upon them, than those two, modesty and assurance. To say such a one is a modest
man, sometimes indeed passes for a good character; but at present is very often used to signify a sheepish, awkward fellow, who has neither good breeding, politeness, nor any knowledge of the world.
Again, a man of assurance, though at first it only denoted a person of a free and open carriage, is now 'very usually applied to a profligate wretch, who can break through all the rules of decency and morality without a blush.
I shall endeavour therefore in this essay to restore these words to their true meaning, to prevent the idea of modesty from being confounded with that of sheepishness, and to hinder impudence from passing for assurance.
If I was put to define modesty, I would call it 'the reflection of an ingenious mind, either when a man has committed an action for which he censures himself, or fancies that he is exposed to the censure of others.'
For this reason a man truly modest is as much so when he is alone as in company, and as subject to a blush in his closet as when the eyes of multitudes are upon him.
I do not remember to have met with any instance of modesty with which I am so well pleased as that celebrated one of the young prince, whose father being a tributary king to the Romans, had several complaints laid against him before the senate, as a tyrant and oppressor of his subjects. The prince went to Rome to defend his father; but coming into the senate, and hearing a multitude of crimes proved upon him, was so oppressed when it came to his turn to speak, that he was unable to utter a word. The story tells us, that the fathers were more moved at this instance of
* Ingenious seems to be here used for ingenuous.
modesty and ingenuity than they could have been by the most pathetic oration, and, in short, pardoned the guilty father for this early promise of virtue in the son.
I take 'assurance to be the faculty of possessing a man's self, or of saying and doing indifferent things without any uneasiness or emotion in the mind.' That which generally gives a man assurance is a moderate knowledge of the world, but, above all, a mind fixed and determined in itself to do nothing against the rules of honour and decency. An open and assured behaviour is the natural consequence of such a resolution. A man thus armed, if his words or actions are at any time misrepresented, retires within himself, and, from a consciousness of his own integrity, assumes force enough to despise the little censures of ignorance and malice.
Every one ought to cherish and encourage in himself the modesty and assurance I have here mentioned.
A man without assurance is liable to be made uneasy by the folly or ill-nature of every one he converses with. A man without modesty is lost to all sense of honour and virtue.
It is more than probable that the prince above mentioned possessed both these qualifications in a very eminent degree. Without assurance, he would never have undertaken to speak before the most august assembly in the world: without modesty, he would have pleaded the cause he had taken upon him, though it had appeared ever so scandalous.
From what has been said, it is plain that modesty and assurance are both amiable, and may very well meet in the same person. When they are thus
*Ingenuity seems here to be used in the sense of inge