« ZurückWeiter »
improper persons, who may have become members of it. From the observations which have been made, it will perhaps appear, that the rules laid down by rhetoricians for the acquirement and management of elocution are most important; and will, by labour and perseverance, form a moderately good orator, or one who, perhaps, may rise above mediocrity; but, unless there are surprising talents possessed by such a student, it will be impossible for him to arrive at the exquisite pitch of perfection necessary to constitute a great orator. Genius begins where art ends.
CAUSES OF THE DIVERSITY OF MANNERS.
The grave and gay-the proud, vain, and humble-
It may be stated as a philosophical axiom that no two persons are alike, and this dissimilarity exists throughout the entire range of the human character, and in all its parts and modifications. It prevails not only in the physical form and structure, and in the different degrees of intellectual ability and moral tendencies, but also in the minutest actions and the manner of performing them.
The character of each individual is indicated by the manner of executing his purposes, whether they be insignificant or important—the degree of pride or humility-of gaiety or seriousness, will be indicated as well in paying a compliment, as in making a speech, and the proportion of wit or sense that either may contain, is not an essential ingredient in the characteristic mode of expression. It has been said, indeed, by a celebrated writer, that the peculiar character of a man is displayed, even in the manner of putting on his hat, but this, perhaps, is pursuing the analysis of Manners farther than can be necessary, and into particulars where the distinctions cannot be very precise, or certain.
The human race, it would seem, are of one common origin; and, considered in the mass, they appear to possess similar passions, feelings, and affections. The intellect, also, of the majority, taken aggregately, presents, to ordinary observation, a general resemblance; but, in truth, nothing of the kind actually exists. We classify men into different orders, for the purpose of diminishing the feeling of confusion and perplexity under which we labor, and in the endeavour to obtain a more distinct view of their nature and character; but this is really a tacit acknowledgment of our incapacity to master the details or comprehend the particulars which make up that vast aggregation comprised in the term “HUMAN NATURE."
It is true that each individual possesses, in common with others, certain attributes and elements of a kindred description; but they are modified indefinitely,-each particular quality is possessed in different degrees, each mind receives different impressions, and acts on different combinations. So that the changes, as it were, which are rung upon the various compartments of this complicated instrument, are altogether infinite both in number and diversity.
It has been frequently observed, that one of the effects of refined society is to render those who move within its sphere similar in manners,—that they who are accustomed to courts have all the same polished demeanor,--and that men of fashion are generally alike. These general notions, however, are generally erroneous. There is just as much diversity in the palace as in the cottage, and in the baronial hall as in the tradesman's shop. Pride, vanity, and humility, are limited to no station, but pervade the whole of society; and, whether in brocade or tatters, are still the same in nature and effect. The diversity of their aspects are merely external, not innate: The influence of artificial life consists in varying the outward expression of the eharacter, but not its natural disposition. There is a sort of vague notion that pride belongs only to high station,--we think that a haughty villager is an anomaly in the world. But the innate principle is the same, though the mode of operation be different. The pride of those who are low-born cannot, indeed, display itself in the same form in which we observe it in the higher ranks. The former have few in station over whom to exalt themselves, and it is in the conduct to inferiors in rank that pride of manner is most obviously displayed, though, even amongst equals and towards superiors, the demeanor shews the character; for courtesies are often performed and concessions often made, which are merely artificial and conventional, unaccompanied by any actual feeling of respect or deference.
In the most exalted state of society we may perceive instances of humility, as well as of hauteur. It perhaps does not often happen, but it sometimes occurs, that persons in supreme power exercise their high office meekly. There are instances of humble and unassuming merit in all classes ; and with some, the more extensive the sway,
the more temperately is it exercised. It is true that the manner in which a proud but polished man conducts himself is very different from that of the vulgar. It is not quite so openly offensiveit is gilded in the surface, but the interior metal is the same. There is the same assumption of superiority, though in a more courteous style ; and, where that assumption is unfounded in merit, it is little less galling to the feelings of others (however glossed over,) than the undisguised pretensions of palpable arrogance.
From these general considerations, we turn to the more express and precise objects of the present paper : Gravity of manners chiefly arises from a deficiency of hope, or that buoyancy of spirit which paints the future in the smiling aspect of prosperity. It is mingled also with other elements of character. "Few persons are gay and vivacious when an object of the first importance is at stake, and its attainment is suspended in doubt. The conscientious man also, has more frequent occasion to be serious than lively, and the influence of habit will impress itself upon the countenance and indicate itself in the manner.
The union of the principle of rectitude, with a moderate or small degree of hope, produces the character of anxiety. The individual has a strong desire to perform his duty, and, possessing but little expectation of success, is naturally in a somewhat painful state of attention and suspence. In proportion to the frequency of such feelings, will be the measure of habitual seriousness. On the other hand, the gay and lively are but little afflicted with these anxious sentiments. Their manners always indicate hope, sometimes courage, and frequently firmness, yet with perhaps little concentration and fixedness of purpose. They pass lightly and easily from one subject to another and avoid whatever is intense or disagreeable. When the intellect is but moderate, these persons are more distinguished for personal vanity than for pride. They are vivacious about trifles—their exuberance of spirits is easily excited-they are
“ Pleas’d with a feather-tickled with a straw.”. A well imagined dress will elevate them to “the top of their bent;" and a verbal pun, or a practical joke, constitutes to them an elysium of intellect. The sentiment of respect, which is peculiarly marked in some individuals, has its effect in the general result. He who feels a high degree of reve- . rence for persons in authority, whether official or intellectual, will have frequent exercise for the sentiment, and a person
habitually respectful is more grave than vivacious. It is the tendency of this sentiment to give seriousness to the aspect. In the days of papal sway, men trembled and almost adored the earthly representative of St. Peter. It is said that a celebrated warrior, who held familiar intercourse with the crowned heads of Europe, and stood in proud equality with all the flowers of chivalry, was overwhelmed with awe in the presence of the chief of the Vatican, and his powers were bound in speechless jeopardy. Thus we perceive a man, free and bold on all occasions where his feelings of superstition were not called into action ; but, when they were excited, becoming tongue-tied without humility. Moral as well as physical courage will modify the range of this feeling of awe, , and sustain the individual from an exhibition of any abasement of manner; and a consciousness of merit, especially when well founded, will always secure the mind in some degree of self-possession, and impart to the manner an assured and manly air.
The proportion and peculiar features of the intellect are also essential ingredients in the estimate we are attempting to make. Those who are distinguished for reflection, rather than observation, and who are accustomed to abstruse speculations, are characterized by sedateness, rather than vivacity. The man of observation lives more in the external world, and, unless he take a morbid view of society, will probably be oftener excited to gaiety than the contemplative sage or the studious scholar. His animal spirits are retained in a better state by the exercise of an active and social life than when absorbed in the ruminations of the closet. He sees nature in her “gayer, happier, attitudes," and catches an inspiration-an alacrity and cheer of mind,” from the animated world around him. On the contrary, the depths of philosophy and the sublimities of mental creation, superinduce a sedate and elevated feeling: we do not expect LORD Bacon to be jocose, nor Milton to excite our risible faculties.
Thus we perceive that the tendency to gravity, or seriousness, is not of a simple, but a combined, nature. It is not a specific and original state of the mind, but the result of various modifications of thought and feeling. readily account for its assuming different aspects; and we perceive, also, that the satire which has been pronounced on gravity," as a mysterious carriage of the body, to hide the defects of the mind,” is totally unfounded, because seriousness arises out of a natural state of the human constitution, and can scarcely ever be assumed in opposition to the various feelings and mental conditions of which it is generally com
The manner in which the proud and vain deport themselves, when compared with the humble, never fails to strike the most inobservant persons. But there are various shades in the composition of these several characters which are not generally obvious, and the causes of the variety do not always present themselves on the surface. There are also some clear, though occasionally nice distinctions, to be pointed out, between the proud and the vain. The difficulty of discriminating between the exhibitions of pride and vanity, seem to consist in the object which engages the feelings or is present to the mind of the individual. Thus, pride is the sentiment which mankind possess when contemplating their own supposed perfections, without reference to the estimate which will be made of them by other persons. It is a sort of egotistic abstraction, and in its nature essentially selfish, for self is the idol of its contemplation. Vanity, on the contrary, has a more social nature, -it Jives on the incense offered by its fellow beings,-it constantly acts with a view to what others will think and say of it. Pride talks of itself, its possessions, its attainments, and all that it can identify with self. Vanity addresses others, and seeks a personal pleasure only through their medium. It is more sympathetic than pride, and consequently more amiable and agreeable. In external manners, the proud, when polished, are dignified; and the vain are graceful: the proud demand homage, and the vain court it.
The origin of humility of demeanor is to be traced to a want of courage and energy in the natural constitution, joined to a depreciating sense of our own merit, and a tendency to pay extraordinary deference to other persons. It may arise, in part, also, from a moderate endowment of intellect, associated with the sentiment of respect : a melancholy temperament, or one that is characterized by an excess of caution, bordering on timidity, will also materially tend to produce humbleness of deportment.
It is eminently important to those who are oppressed with humility of sentiment, that they sedulously watch and check its growth. It rarely bears a strict relation either to moral or mental deficiency, and is oftener the companion of excellence, though hidden, than of the contrary. Amidst this bustling world, and in this age of competition, “when Greek meets Greek,” it is peculiarly essential to brace up the spirit, and concentrate every power. Arrogance may succeed, when unopposed, but it shrinks into its natural dimensions, when met by resolution and firmness.
RESERVE generally proceeds from some natural cause, though there may be some instances of its artificial or habitual growth. FRANK NESS, on the other hand, is more frequently