It was with some Mortification that I suffered the Raillery of a Fine Lady of my Acquaintance, for calling, in one of my Papers, Dorimant a Clown. She was so unmerciful as to take Advantage of my invincible Taciturnity, and on that occasion, with great Freedom to consider the Air, the Height, the Face, the Gesture of him who could pretend to judge so arrogantly of Gallantry. She is full of Motion, Janty and lively in her Impertinence, and one of those that commonly pass, among the Ignorant, for Persons who have a great deal of Humour. She had the Play of Sir Fopling in her Hand, and after she had said it was happy for her there was not so charming a Creature as Dorimant now living, she began with a Theatrical Air and Tone of Voice to Read, by way of Triumph over me, some of his Speeches. 'Tis she, that lovely Hair, that easy Shape, those wanton Eyes, and all those melting Charms about her Mouth, which Medley spoke of; I'll follow the Lottery, and put in for a Prize with my Friend Bellair.
_In Love the Victors from the Vanquish'd fly;
They fly that wound, and they pursue that dye,
Then turning over the Leaves, she reads alternately, and speaks,
_And you and_ Loveit _to her Cost shall find
I fathom all the Depths of Womankind_.
Oh the Fine Gentleman! But here, continues she, is the Passage I admire most, where he begins to Teize Loveit, and mimick Sir Fopling:
Oh the pretty Satyr, in his resolving to be a Coxcomb to please, since Noise and Nonsense have such powerful Charms!
_I, that I may Successful prove,
Transform my self to what you love_.
Then how like a Man of the Town, so Wild and Gay is that
_The Wife will find a Diff'rence in our Fate,
You wed a Woman, I a good Estate_.
It would have been a very wild Endeavour for a Man of my Temper to offer any Opposition to so nimble a Speaker as my Fair Enemy is; but her Discourse gave me very many Reflections, when I had left her Company. Among others, I could not but consider, with some Attention, the false Impressions the generality (the Fair Sex more especially) have of what should be intended, when they say a Fine Gentleman; and could not help revolving that Subject in my Thoughts, and settling, as it were, an Idea of that Character in my own Imagination.
No Man ought to have the Esteem of the rest of the World, for any Actions which are disagreeable to those Maxims which prevail, as the Standards of Behaviour, in the Country wherein he lives. What is opposite to the eternal Rules of Reason and good Sense, must be excluded from any Place in the Carriage of a Well-bred Man. I did not, I confess, explain myself enough on this Subject, when I called Dorimant a Clown, and made it an Instance of it, that he called the Orange Wench, Double Tripe: I should have shewed, that Humanity obliges a Gentleman to give no Part of Humankind Reproach, for what they, whom they Reproach, may possibly have in Common with the most Virtuous and Worthy amongst us. When a Gentleman speaks Coarsly, he has dressed himself Clean to no purpose: The Cloathing of our Minds certainly ought to be regarded before that of our Bodies. To betray in a Man's Talk a corrupted Imagination, is a much greater Offence against the Conversation of Gentlemen, than any Negligence of Dress imaginable. But this Sense of the Matter is so far from being received among People even of Condition, that Vocifer passes for a fine Gentleman. He is Loud, Haughty, Gentle, Soft, Lewd, and Obsequious by turns, just as a little Understanding and great Impudence prompt him at the present Moment. He passes among the silly Part of our Women for a Man of Wit, because he is generally in Doubt. He contradicts with a Shrug, and confutes with a certain Sufficiency, in professing such and such a Thing is above his Capacity. What makes his Character the pleasanter is, that he is a professed Deluder of Women; and because the empty Coxcomb has no Regard to any thing that is of it self Sacred and Inviolable, I have heard an unmarried Lady of Fortune say, It is pity so fine a Gentleman as Vocifer is so great an Atheist. The Crowds of such inconsiderable Creatures that infest all Places of Assembling, every Reader will have in his Eye from his own Observation; but would it not be worth considering what sort of Figure a Man who formed himself upon those Principles among us, which are agreeable to the Dictates of Honour and Religion, would make in the familiar and ordinary Occurrences of Life?
I hardly have observed any one fill his several Duties of Life better than Ignotus. All the under Parts of his Behaviour and such as are exposed to common Observation, have their Rise in him from great and noble Motives. A firm and unshaken Expectation of another Life, makes him become this; Humanity and Good-nature, fortified by the Sense of Virtue, has the same Effect upon him, as the Neglect of all Goodness has upon many others. Being firmly established in all Matters of Importance, that certain Inattention which makes Men's Actions look easie appears in him with greater Beauty: By a thorough Contempt of little Excellencies, he is perfectly Master of them. This Temper of Mind leaves him under no Necessity of Studying his Air, and he has this peculiar Distinction, that his Negligence is unaffected.
He that can work himself into a Pleasure in considering this Being as an uncertain one, and think to reap an Advantage by its Discontinuance, is in a fair way of doing all things with a graceful Unconcern, and Gentleman-like Ease. Such a one does not behold his Life as a short, transient, perplexing State, made up of trifling Pleasures, and great Anxieties; but sees it in quite another Light; his Griefs are Momentary, and his Joys Immortal. Reflection upon Death is not a gloomy and sad Thought of Resigning every Thing that he Delights in, but it is a short Night followed by an endless Day. What I would here contend for is, that the more Virtuous the Man is, the nearer he will naturally be to the Character of Genteel and Agreeable. A Man whose Fortune is Plentiful, shews an Ease in his Countenance, and Confidence in his Behaviour, which he that is under Wants and Difficulties cannot assume. It is thus with the State of the Mind; he that governs his Thoughts with the everlasting Rules of Reason and Sense, must have something so inexpressibly Graceful in his Words and Actions, that every Circumstance must become him. The Change of Persons or Things around him do not at all alter his Situation, but he looks disinterested in the Occurrences with which others are distracted, because the greatest Purpose of his Life is to maintain an Indifference both to it and all its Enjoyments. In a word, to be a Fine Gentleman, is to be a Generous and a Brave Man. What can make a Man so much in constant Good-humour and Shine, as we call it, than to be supported by what can never fail him, and to believe that whatever happens to him was the best thing that could possibly befal him, or else he on whom it depends would not have permitted it to have befallen him at all?
R.Translation of motto: