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NUMBER XXXVII.

Of Vulgarity.

THERE are but few words in our language that have a more grating sound in the ears of those who lay claim to good breeding, than the word Vulgarity, insomuch that many a one had rather be thought vicious than vulgar.–And what is vulgarity? This is rather a puzzling question : for the word is no where clearly defined, nor is it capable of being exactly marked out by a definition. Profaneness, filthiness of speech, and a clownish awkwardness of manners withal, are only the grosser parts of vulgarity, which extends itself to almost innumerable particulars of human conduct, and not unfrequently into the fashionable ranks of society. But though it is in a manner undefinable, it admits of being explained as it were by piecemeal ; and this may be the better done by contrasting it with a quality, which every body, of any decency of mind and character, professes to hold in respect. Vulgarity, then, is the direct opposite of Courteous.

But here, again, arises a question, What is courteousness? Your dictionary will tell you it implies something elegant-something beyond the reach of plain men and women of the common sort. But so it is not. When St. Paul, addressing himself to christians of all worldly grades and classes, even down to slaves or menial servants ; when addressing himself to the lowest as well as to the highest, he bade them be courteous, assuredly he did not mean that they must needs all be of elegant manners.

No: it is full likely that Paul himself did not excel greatly in that particulàr ; it was not, surely, the elegance of his manner that

made Felix tremble. Courteousness, must mean therefore, a something which is within the reach of all sorts of people ; and, in its primary and best sense, it may be understood to mean exactly such a behaviour as spontaneously springs from a heart warm with benevolence :-whilst, on the contrary, vulgarity, as respects people of some rank in life, is the growth of cold selfishness always, and often, of selfishness and narrowness of intellect combined. Vulgarity, in some shape or other, betrays itself as clearly at the very top, as at the very bottom of the scale of life.

Cardinal de Retz, remarks of Cardinal Richlieu, a most puissant prime minister of France, that he loved to rally others, but could not bear to be rallied him self.” So, also, it is said of the Great Frederick of Prussia, that his manner was to harrow up the feelings of his courtiers and attendants by breaking his cutting jokes upon them without measure or mercy; well knowing that they durst not offer any retort. These two instances clearly show that vulgarity may be found in the palace, as well as in the cottage. The like may be frequently seen among the little great ; many of whom take a delight in wounding the feelings of those below them, merely because they are below them: a scurvy fault, which sudden wealth, or sudden consequence of any kind, is peculiarly apt to draw after it. I say, a scurvy fault, because nothing scarcely betrays a more reprobate heart, than an unfeeling, brutal conduct toward inferiors ; as it usually springs from the odious compound of arrogance, vanity, and cowardice.

We have no more right, wantonly or causelessly, to wound the mind than to wound the body of a fellow being; and, in many instances, the former is the more cruel of the two.

Some persons, even in the blessed deed of giving alms to the needy, poison the gift by an ungracious manner of bestowment, accompanying it with a sour look, or peradventure with a bitter taunt. One of the wisest of the ancients noticed this species of vulgarity, and reproved it with the sound words following: 6 My son, blemish not thy good deeds, neither use uncomfortable words when thou givest any thing."

There are some again, both men and women, who value themselves highly upon a coarse bluntness, which they themselves call downright honesty and plainheartedness. 66 We can't flatter, not wem-we must speak truth-if they will take it-50-if not-we're plain.”+

But hark’e ! not fast. Pause a moment, and examine your own hearts, and perchance you may find that your manner partakes more of pride, or sourness, than of benevolence. If you wish to amend the faulty, assuredly this is not the way. Again, have you no faults at all of your own ? Hardly will you pretend to absolute immunity in that respect. Well, then, ask your own hearts if you are willing to receive the same measure which you mete out to others. If you can bear, in all cases, to be told roundly of your own faults, even the minutest of them, then, and not otherwise, you may seem fairly entitled to the privilege of giving it off so roundly to others. Then, and not otherwise, may you be at liberty to deal out your bitter pills, without any regard at all to gilding or sweetening them.

In short, (for many things must I leave unsaid) any body that knows the world, might easily show that the family of the Vulgars is branched out into a great many divisions and subdivisions ; one or other of which, embraces not a few, who would be very loth to own themselves members of that unhonoured household,

Shakspeare.

NUMBER XXXVIII.

Of the very great influence of Use or Custom, as ré. spects Children, upon their dispositions and characters in after-life.

* Just as the twig is bent the tree's inclin'd."

Pope.

It can hardly be imagined, how much we are under the power

of custom : it binds and fixes our inclination in almost any direction. That which we are accustomed to, almost whatever it be, acquires our attachment, and we are uneasy without it. If our customary food have been plain, simple, or never so coarse, it is sweet to our relish : on the other hand, if we have been accustomed altogether to dainties, we shall feel a kind of loathing for the ordinary provisions of the human kind. The Black Broth of the Spartans, (they being always used to it,) was, to them, delicious, though loathsome to every body else.

I once dined at at inn, in company with a lady who had “ fared sumptuously every day.” It was a plain dinner, and substantially good, but not such as she had been accustomed to ; and the very sight of it threw her into tragical distress. She was not hectical, nor

in any manner sickly. Her form was the index of nothing less then of habitudes of abstemiousness. But, alas ! her stomach turned against every thing. She barely tasted of this, of that, and of the other morsel, and laying down her knife and fork, her visage could scarcely have been more rueful had she been under the hands of the executioner.

Man is said to be 6 a bundle of habits." And what is habit ? Habit is the aptitude we acquire for what we

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are accustomed to ; whether it relates to the body, or the mind, or both. As by frequency of repetition we come to be more ready and expert in whatever we have to do; so, also, by frequency of repetition, the appetite, the taste, the inclination, acquire a settled direction that way. Nay, if the thing we are accustomed to gives us little or no pleasure, its absence gives us pain.

" I remember,” says the far-famed Burke, “ to have frequented a certain place every day, for a long time together; and I may truly say, that so far from finding pleasure in it, I was affected with a sort of weariness and disgust; I came, I went, I returned, without pleasure ; yet if by any means I passed by my usual time of going thither, I was remarkably uneasy, and was not quiet till I got into my old track."-And he proceeds to say, “ They who use snuff take it almost without being sensible that they take it, and the acute sense of smell is deadened so as to feel hardly any thing from so sharp a stimulus ; yet, deprive the snuff-taker of his box, and he is the most uneasy mortal in the world.”.

It might indeed be shown, in a great variety of in. stances, some of an indifferent, and others of a moral nature, that being accustomed to a thing, induces, for the most part, such a settled habit as is aptly denominated a second nature. But my object is to apply the general principle to the all important concern of education.

Training up a child in the way he should go, consists not altogether in pointing out the way, but also, and chiefly, in accustoming him to walk therein. As the tree grows up straight, or crooked, according to the direction given it when a plant, so, in a great measure, it is with animal nature. Of this truth we are deeply sensible, in its application to the inferior animals, and our practice accords with our way of thinking. In

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