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ON SINCERITY. Truth and Sincerity have all the advantages of appearance, and many more. If the show of any thing be good for any thing, I am sure the reality is better; for why does any man dissemble, or seem to be that which he is not, but because he thinks it good to have the qualities he pretends to? For to counterfeit and to dissemble is to put on the appearance of some real excellency. Now the best way for a man to seem to be any thing is really to be what he would seem to be. Besides, it is often as troublesome to support the pretence of a good quality, as to have it; and if a man have it not, it is most likely he will be discovered to want it, and then all his labour to seem to have it is lost. There is something unnatural in painting, which a skilful eye will easily discern from native beauty and complexion.
It is hard to personate and act a part long; for where truth is not at the bottom, nature will always be endeavouring to return, and will betray herself at one time or other. Therefore if any man think it convenient to seem good, let him be so indeed, and then his goodness will appear to every one's satisfaction; for truth is convincing, and carries it's own light and evidence along with it, and will not only commend us to every man's conscience, but, which is much more, to God, who searcheth our hearts. So that upon all accounts sincerity is true wisdom. Particularly as to the affairs of this world, integrity hath many advantages over all the artificial modes of dissimulation and deceit. It is much the plainer and easier, much the safer and more secure way of dealing in the world; it has less of trouble and difficulty, of entanglement and perplexity, of danger and hazard in it; it is the shortest and nearest way to our end, carrying us thither in a straight line, and will hold out and last longest. The arts of deceit and cunning continually grow weaker, and less effectual and serviceable to those that practise them; whereas integrity gains strength by use, and the more and longer any man practiseth it, the greater service it does him, by confirming his reputation, and encouraging those with
whom he bath to do, to repose the greatest confidence in him, which is an unspeakable advantage in business and the affairs of life.
A dissembler must always be upon his guard, and watch himself carefully, that he do not contradict his own pretensions ; for he acts an unnatural part, and therefore must put a continual force and restraint upon himself. Whereas he that acts sincerely hath the easiest task in the world; because he follows nature, and so is put to no trouble and care about his words and actions; he needs not invent any pretences beforehand, or make excuses afterward, for any thing he has said or done.
But insincerity is very troublesome to manage; a hypocrite hath so many things to attend to, as make his life a very perplexed and intricate thing. A liar hath need of a good memory, lest he contradict at one time what he said at another : but truth is always consistent with itself, and needs nothing to help it out; it is always near at hand, and sits upon our lips; whereas a lie is troublesome, and needs a great many more to make it good.
Add to all this, that sincerity is the most compendious wisdom, and an excellent instrument for the speedy dispatch of business. It creates confidence in those we have to deal with, saves the labour of many inquiries, and brings things to an issue in few words. It is like travelling in a plain beaten road, which commonly brings a man sooner to his journey's end than by-ways, in which men often lose them selves. In a word, whatever convenience may be thought to be in falsehood and dissimulation, it is soon over; but the inconvenience of it is perpetual, because it brings a man under an everlasting jealousy and suspicion, so that he is not believed when he speaks truth, nor trusted when perhaps he means honestly. When a man hath once forfeited the reputation of his integrity, nothing will then serve his turn, neither truth nor falsehood.
Indeed, if a man were only to deal in the world for a day, and should never have occasion to converse more with marikind, never more need their good opinion or good word, it were then no great matter (as far as respects the affairs of this world) if he spent his reputation all at once, and ventured it at one throw. But if he be to continue in the world, and would have the advantage of reputation while
he is in it, let him make use of truth and sincerity in all his words and actions, for nothing but this will hold out to the end. All other arts may fail, but truth and integrity will carry a man through, and bear him out to the last.
Every principle that is a motive to good actions ought to be encouraged, since men are of so different a make, that the same principle does not work equally upon all minds. What some men are prompted to by conscience, duty, or religion, which are only different names for the same thing, others are prompted to by honour.
The sense of honour is of so fine and delicate a nature, that it is only to be met with in minds which are naturally noble, or in such as have been cultivated by great examples, or a refined education. This essay therefore is chiefly designed for those, who, by means of any of these advantages, are, or ought to be, actuated by this glorious principle.
But as nothing is more pernicious than a principle of action, when it is misunderstood, I shall consider honour with respect to three sorts of men. First of all, with regard to those who have a right notion of it. Secondly, with regard to those who have a mistaken notion of it. And, thirdly, with regard to those who treat it as chimerical and turn it into ridicule.
In the first place, true honour, though it be a different principle from religion, is that which produces the same effects. The lines of action, though drawn from different parts, terminate in the same point. Religion embraces virtue, as it is enjoined by the laws of God; honour, as it is graceful and ornamental to human nature. The religious man fears, the man of honour scorns, to do an ill action. The latter considers vice as something that is beneath him, the other; as something that is offensive to the Divine Being. The one, as what is unbecoming; the other, as what is forbidden. Thus Seneca speaks in the natural and genuine language of a man of honour, when he declares, that were there no God to see or punish vice, he would not commit it, because it is of so mean, so base, and so vile a nature.
I shall conclude this head with the description of honour in the speech of young Juba :
Honour's a sacred tie, the law of kings,
In the second place, we are to consider those who have mistaken notions of honour. And these are such as establish any thing to themselves for a point of honour, which is contrary either to the laws of God or of their country'; who think it inore honourable to revenge, than to forgive an injury; who make no scruple of telling a lie, but would put any man to death that accuses them of it; who are more careful to guard their reputation by their courage, than by their virtue. True fortitude is indeed so becoming in human nature, that be who wants it scarce deserves the name of a man: but we find several who so much abuse this notion, that they place the whole idea of honour in a kind of brutal courage ; by which means we have liad many among us who have called themselves men of honour, that would have been a disgrace to a gibbet. In a word, the man who sacrifices any duty of a reasonable creature to a prevailing mode or fashion, who looks upon any thing as honourable that is displeasing to his Maker, or destructive to society, who thinks himself obliged by this principle to the practice of some virtues and not of others, it is by no means to be reckoned among true men of honour.
Timogenes was a lively instance of one actuated by false honour. Timogenes would smile at a man's jest who ridiculed his Maker, and at the same time run a man through the body that spoke ill of his friend. Timogenes would have scorned to have betrayed a secret that was entrusted with him, though the fate of his country depended upon the discovery of it. Timogenes took away the life of a young fellow in a duel, for having spoke ill of Belinda, a lady whom he himself had seduced in her youth, and betrayed into
want and ignominy. To close his character, Timogenes, after having ruined several poor tradesmen's families who had-trusted him, sold his estate to satisfy his creditors; but, like a man of honour, disposed of all the money he could make of it, in the paying off his play debts, or, to speak in his own language, bis debts of honour.
In the third place, we are to consider those persons who treat this principle as chimerical, and turn it into ridicule. Men who are professedly of no honour are of a more profligate and abandoned nature than even those who are actuated by false notions of it, as there is more hope of a heretic than of an atheist. Those sons of infamy consider honour with old Syphax, in the play before mentioned, as a fine imaginary notion that leads astray young inexperienced men, and draws them into real inischiefs, while they are engaged in the pursuit of a shadow. These are generally persons who, in Shakspeare's phrase, “ are worn and hackneyed in the ways of men;" whose imaginations are grown callous, and have lost all those delicate sentiments, which are natural to minds that are innocent and undepraved. Such old battered miscreants ridicule every thing as romantic, that comes in competition with their present interest, and treat those persons as visionaries, who dare stand
up in a corrupt age for what has not it's immediate reward joined to it. The talents, interest, or experience of such men, make them very often useful in all parties, and at all times. But whatever wealth and dignities they may arrive at, they ought to con
that every one stands as a blot in the annals of his country, who arrives at the temple of honour by any other way than through that of virtue.
ON GOOD HUMOUR.
Good Humour may be defined a habit of being pleased; a constant and perpetual softness of manners, easiness of approach, and suavity of disposition; like that which every man perceives in himself, when the first transports of new.