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ladies learn to speak French, or to sing Italian operas. When they had advanced thus far, it would be time to form their taste something more exactly. One that had any true relish of fine writing, might; with great pleasure both to himself and them, run over together with them the best Roman historians, poets, and orators, and point out their more remarkable beauties; give them a short scheme of chronology, a little view of geography, medals, astronomy, or what else might best feed the busy inquisitive humour so natural to that age. Such of them as had the least spark of genius, when it was once awakened by the shining thoughts and great sentiments of those admired writers; could not, I believe, be easily withheld from attempting that more difficult sister language, whose exalted beauties they would have heard so often celebrated as the pride and wonder of the whole learned world. In the mean while, it would be requisite to exercise their style in writing any little pieces that ask more of fancy than of judgment: and that frequently in their native language, which every one methinks should be most concerned to cultivate, especially letters, in which a gentleman must have so frequent occasions to distinguish himself. A set of genteel good-natured youths fahen into such a manner of life, would form almost a little academy, and doubtless prove no such contemptible companions, as might not often tempt a wiser man to mingle himself in their diversions, and draw them into such serious sports as might prove nothing less instructing than the gravest lessons. I doubt not but it might be made some of their favourite plays, 'to contend which of them should recite a beautiful part of a poem or oration most gracefully, or sometimes to join in acting a scene of Terence, Sophocles, or our own Shakspeare. The cause of Milo might again be pleaded before more favourable judges, Cæsar a second time be taught to tremble, and another race of Athenians be afresh enraged at the ambition of another Philip. Amidst these noble amusements, we could hope io see the early dawnings of their imagination daily brighten into sense, their innocence improve into virtue, and their unexperienced good-nature directed to a generous love of their country.
I am, &c.
N°231. SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 24, 1711.
O pudor! O pietas!
MART. viii. 78.
LOOKING over the letters which I have lately received from my correspondents, I met with the following one, which is written with such a spirit of politeness, that I could not but be very much, pleased with it myself, and question not but it will be as acceptable to the reader.
You, who are no stranger to public assemblies, cannot but have observed the awe they often strike on such as are obliged to exert any talent before them. This is a sort of elegant distress, to which ingenuous minds are the most liable, and may therefore deserve some remarks in your paper. Many a brave fellow, who has put his enemy to flight in the field, has been in the utmost disorder upon making a speech before a body of his friends at home. · VOL. IX.
One would think there was some kind of fascination in the eyes of a large circle of people, when darting all together upon one person. I have seen a new actor in a tragedy so bound up by it as to be scarce able to speak or move, and have expected he would have died above three acts before the dagger or cup of poison were brought in. It would not be amiss, if such an one were at first to be introduced as a ghost, or a statue, until he recovered his spirits, and grew fit for some living part.
As this sudden desertion of one's self shews a diffidence, which is not displeasing, it implies at the same time the greatest respect to an audience that can be. It is a sort of mute eloquence, which pleads for their favour much better than words could do ; and we find their generosity naturally moved to support those who are in so much perplexity to entertain them. I was extremely pleased with a late instance of this kind at the opera of Almahide, in the encouragement given to a young singer *, whose more than ordinary concern on her first appearance, recommended her no less than her agreeable voice, and just performance. Mere bashfulness without merit is awkward ; and merit without modesty insolent. But modest merit has a double claim to acceptance, and generally meets with as many patrons as beholders.
I am, &c.'
It is impossible that a person should exert him. self to advantage in an assembly, whether it be his part either to sing or speak, who lies under too great oppressions of modesty. I remember, upon talking with a friend of mine concerning the force
* Mrs. Barbier. See a curious account of this lady, in Sir Juhn Hawkins's History of Music, vol. v. p. 156.
of pronunciation, our discourse led us into the enu. meration of the several organs of speech which an orator ought to have in perfection, as the tongue, the teeth, the lips, the nose, the palate, and the wind-pipe. · Upon which,' says my friend, you have omitted the most material organ of them all, and that is the forehead.'
But notwithstanding an excess of modesty obstructs the tongue, and renders it unfit for its offices, a due proportion of it is thought so requisite to an orator, that rhetoricians have recommended it to their disciples as a particular in their art. Cicero tells us that he never liked an orator who did not appear in some little confusion at the beginning of his speech, and confesses that he himself never entered upon an oration without trembling and concern. It is indeed a kind of deference which is due to a great assembly, and seldom fails to raise a benevolence in the audience towards the person who speaks. My correspondent has taken notice that the bravest men often appear timorous on these occasions, as indeed we may observe, that there is generally no creature more impudent than a çoward :
pe Linguâ melior, sed frigida bello
VIRG. Æn. xi. 338.
Bold at the council-board;
A bold tongue and a feeble arm are the qualifica. tions of Drances in Virgil; as Homer, to express a man both timorous and saucy, makes use of a kind of point, which is very rarely to be met with in his
writings; namely, that he had the eyes of a dog, but the heart of a deer *.
A just and reasonable modesty does not only recommend eloquence, but sets off every great talent which a man can be possessed of. It heightens all the virtues which it accompanies; like the shades in paintings, it raises and rounds every figure, and makes the colours more beautiful, though not so glaring as they would be without it.
Modesty is not only an ornament, but also a guard to virtue. It is a kind of quick and delicate feeling in the soul, which makes her shrink, and withdraw herself from every thing that has danger in it. It is such an exquisite sensibility, as warns her to shun the first appearance of every thing which is hurtful.
I cannot at present recollect either the place or time of what I am going to mention ; but I have read somewhere in the history of ancient Greece, that the women of the country were seized with an unaccountable melancholy, which disposed several of them to make away with themselves. The senate, after having tried many expedients to prevent this self-murder, which was so frequent among them, published an edict, that if any woman whatever should lay violent hands upon herself, her corpse should be exposed naked in the street, and dragged about the city in the most public manner. This edict immediately put a stop to the practice which was before so common. We may see in this instance the strength of female modesty, which was able to overcome the violence even of madness and despair, The fear of shame in the fair sex, was in those days more prevalent than that of death.
If modesty has so great an influence over qur ac
* [liad, i. 225,