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when without taking notice of what I said, Ironside,' says he, ‘ you fill my cousins' heads with your fine notions, as you call them; can you teach them to make a pudding? I must confess he put me out of countenance with his rustic raillery, so that I made some excuse, and left the room.
This fellow's behaviour made me reflect on the usefulness of complaisance, to make all conversation agreeable. This, though in itself it be scarce reckoned in the number of moral virtues, is that which gives a lustre to every talent a man can be possest of. It was Plato's advice to an unpolished writer, that he should sacrifice to the Graces. In the same manner I would advise every man of learning, who would not appear in the world a mere scholar or philosopher, to make himself master of the social virtue which I have here mentioned.
Complaisance renders a superior amiable, an equal agreeable, and an inferior acceptable. It smooths distinction, sweetens conversation, and makes every one in the company pleased with himself. It produces good nature and mutual benevolence, encourages the timorous, sooths the turbulent, humanises the fierce, and distinguishes a society of civilized persons from a confusion of savages. In a word, complaisance is a virtue that blends all orders of men together in a friendly intercourse of words and actions, and is suited to that equality in human nature which every one ought to consider, so far as is consistent with the order and economy of the world.
If we could look into the secret anguish and affliction of every man's heart, we should often find that more of it arises from little imaginary distresses, such as checks, frowns, contradictions, ex
pressions of contempt, and (what Shakspeare reckons among other evils under the sun)
The proud man's contumely,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,'
than from the more real pains and calamities of life. The only method to remove these imaginary distresses as much as possible out of human life, would be the universal practice of such an ingenuous complaisance, as I have been here describing, which, as it is a virtue, may be defined to be, a constant endeavour to please those whom we converse with, so far as we may do it innocently.' I shall here add, that I know nothing so effectual to raise a man's fortune as complaisance; which recommends more to the favour of the great, than wit, knowledge, or any other talent whatsoever. I find this consideration very prettily illustrated by a little wild Arabian tale, which I shall here abridge, for the sake of my reader, after having again warned him, that I do not recommend to him such an impertinent or vicious complaisance as is not consistent with honour and integrity.
Schacabac, being reduced to great poverty, and having eat nothing for two days together, made a visit to a noble Barmecide in Persia, who was very hospitable, but withal a great humourist. The Barmecide was sitting at his table that seemed ready covered for an entertainment. Upon hearing Schacabac's complaint, he desired him to sit down and fall on. He then gave him an empty plate, and asked him how he liked his rice-soup. Schacabac, who was a man of wit, and resolved to comply with the Barmecide in all his humours, told him it was admirable, and at the same time,
in imitation of the other, lifted up the empty spoon to his mouth with great pleasure. The Barmecide then asked him if he ever saw whiter bread? Schacabac, who saw neither bread nor meat, " if I did not like it, you may be sure," says he, "I should not eat so heartily of it." "You oblige me mightily," replied the Barmecide, "pray let me help you to this leg of a goose." Schacabac reached out his plate, and received nothing on it with great cheerfulness. As he was eating very heartily on this imaginary goose, and crying up the sauce to the skies, the Barmecide desired him to keep a corner of his stomach for a roasted lamb fed with pistacho nuts, and after having called for it, as though it had really been served up, "here is a dish," says he, "that you will see at nobody's table but my own." Schacabac was wonderfully delighted with the taste of it, "which is like nothing," says he, "I ever eat before." Several other nice dishes were served up in idea, which both of them commended, and feasted on after the same manner. This was followed by an invisible dessert, no part of which delighted Schacabac so much as a certain lozenge, which the Barmecide told him was a sweet-meat of his own invention. Schacabac at length being courteously reproached by the Barmecide, that he had no stomach, and that he eat nothing, and at the same time being tired with moving his jaws up and down to no purpose, desired to be excused, for that really he was so full he could not eat a bit more. "Come
then," says the Barmecide," the cloth shall be removed, and you shall taste of my wines, which I may say, without vanity, are the best in Persia." He then filled both their glasses out of an empty decanter. Schacabac would have excused himself
from drinking so much at once, because he said he was a little quarrelsome in his liquor; however being prest to it, he pretended to take it off, having before-hand praised the colour, and afterwards the flavour. Being plied with two or three other imaginary bumpers of different wines, equally delicious, and a little vexed with his fantastic treat, he pretended to grow flustered, and gave the Barmecide a good box on the ear, but immediately recovering himself, Sir," says he, "I beg ten thousand pardons, but I told you before, that it was my misfortune to be quarrelsome in my drink." The Barmecide could not but smile at the humour of his guest, and, instead of being angry at him, "I find,” says he, "thou art a complaisant fellow, and deservest to be entertained in my house. Since thou canst accommodate thyself to my humour, we will now eat together in good earnest." Upon which calling for his supper, the rice soup, the goose, the pistacho lamb, the several other nice dishes, with the dessert, the lozenges, and all the variety of Persian wines were served up successively, one after another; and Schacabac was feasted in reality with those very things which he had before been entertained with in imagination.'
N° 163. THURSDAY, SEPT. 17, 1713.
miserum est alienâ vivere quadrâ.
JUV. Sat. v. ver. 2.
How wretched he, by cruel fortune crost,
WHEN I am disposed to give myself a day's rest, I order the lion to be opened, and search into that magazine of intelligence for such letters as are to my purpose. The first I looked into comes to me from one who is chaplain to a great family. He treats himself in the beginning of it, after such a manner, as I am persuaded that no man of sense would treat him. Even the lawyer and the physician to a man of quality, expect to be used like gentlemen, and much more may any one of so superior a profession. I am by no means for encouraging that dispute, whether the chaplain or the master of the house be the better man, and the more to be respected. The two learned authors, Doctor Hickes, and Mr. Collier, to whom I might add several others, are to be excused, if they have carried the point a little too high in favour of the chaplain, since in so corrupt an age as that we live in, the popular opinion runs so far into the other extreme. The only controversy, between the patron and the chaplain, ought to be which should promote the good designs and interests of each