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A First Year in Canterbury Settlement With Other Early Essays


page 244


But, my son, think not that it is necessary for thee to be excellent if thou wouldst be powerful. Observe how the lighter substance in nature riseth by its own levity and overtoppeth that which is the more grave. Even so, my son, mayest thou be light and worthless, and yet make a goodly show above those who are of a more intrinsic value than thyself. But as much circumspection will be necessary for thee to attain this glorious end, and as by reason of thy youth thou art liable to miss many of the most able and effective means of becoming possessed of it, hear the words of an old man and treasure them in thy heart. The required qualities, my son, are easily procured; many are naturally gifted with them. In order, however, that thou mayest keep them in set form in thy mind commit to memory the following list of requisites: Love of self, love of show, love of sound, reserve, openness, distrust.

The love of self, which shall chiefly manifest itself in the obtaining the best of all things for thyself to the exclusion of another, be he who he may; and as meal-times are the fittest occasion for the exercise of this necessary quality, I will even illustrate my meaning that thou mayest the more plainly comprehend me. Suppose that many are congregated to a breakfast and there is a dish of kidneys on the table, but not so many but what the greater number must go without them, cry out with a loud voice, immedi- page 245 ately that thou hast perceived them: “Kidneys! Oh, ah! I say, G., old fellow, give us some kidneys.” Then will the master of the house be pleased that he hath provided something to thy liking, and as others from false shame will fear to do the like thou wilt both obtain that thy soul desireth, and be looked upon by thy fellows as a bold fellow and one who knoweth how to make his way in the world, and G. will say immediately: “Waiter, take this to Mr. Potguts,” and he taketh them, and so on, my son, with all other meats that are on the table, see thou refrain not from one of them, for a large appetite well becometh a power, or if not a large one then a dainty one. But if thine appetite be small and dainty see thou express contempt for a large eater as one inferior to thyself. Or again, my son, if thou art not at a banquet but enterest any room where there are many met together, see thou take the arm-chair or the best seat or couch, or what other place of comfort is in the room; and if there be another power in the room as well as thyself see thou fight with him for it, and if thou canst by any craft get rid of him an he be more thickly set than thyself, see that thou do this openly and with a noise, that all men may behold and admire thee, for they will fear thee and yield and not venture to reprove thee openly; and so long as they dare not, all will be well. Nevertheless I would have thee keep within certain bounds, lest men turn upon thee if thy rule is too oppressive to be borne. And under this head I would class also the care and tending of the sick; for in the first place the sick have many delicacies which those who are sound have not, so that if thou lay the matter well, thou mayest obtain page 246 the lion’s share of these things also. But more particularly the minds of men being weak and easily overpowered when they are in sickness, thou shalt obtain much hold over them, and when they are well (whether thou didst really comfort them or not) they will fear to say aught against thee, lest men shall accuse them of ingratitude. But above all see thou do this openly and in the sight of men, who thinking in consequence that thy heart is very soft and amiable notwithstanding a few outward defects, will not fail to commend thee and submit to thee the more readily, and so on all counts thou art the gainer, and it will serve thee as an excuse with the authorities for the neglect or breach of duty. But all this is the work of an exceedingly refined and clever power and not absolutely necessary, but I have named it as a means of making thy yoke really the lighter but nevertheless the more firmly settled upon the neck of thy fellows. So much then for the love of self.

As for the love of show this is to display itself in thy dress, in the trimming or in the growth of thy whiskers, in thy walk and carriage, in the company thou keepest, seeing that thou go with none but powers or men of wealth or men of title, and caring not so much for men of parts, since these commonly deal less in the exterior and are not fit associates, for thou canst have nothing in common with them. When thou goest to thy dinner let a time elapse, so that thine entry may cause a noise and a disturbance, and when after much bustling thou hast taken thy seat, say not: “Waiter, will you order me green peas and a glass of college,” but say: “Waiter (and then a pause), peas,” and then suffer him to depart, and when he page 247 hath gone some little way recall him with a loud voice, which shall reach even unto the ears of the fellows, say, “and, waiter, college”; and when they are brought unto thee complain bitterly of the same. When thou goest to chapel talk much during the service, or pray much; do not the thing by halves; thou must either be the very religious power, which kind though the less remarked yet on the whole hath the greater advantage, or the thoughtless power, but above all see thou combine not the two, at least not in the same company, but let thy religion be the same to the same men. Always, if thou be a careless power, come in late to chapel and hurriedly; sit with the other powers and converse with them on the behaviour of others or any other light and agreeable topic. And, as I said above, under this love of show thou must include the choice of thine acquaintance, and as it is not possible for thee to order it so as not to have knowledge of certain men whom it will not be convenient for thee to know at all times and in all places, see thou cultivate those two excellent defects of both sight and hearing which will enable thee to pass one thou wouldst not meet, without seeing him or hearing his salutation. If thou hast a cousin or schoolfellow who is somewhat rustic or uncouth in his manner but nevertheless hath an excellent heart, know him in private in thine individual capacity, but when thou art abroad or in the company of other powers shun him as if he were a venomous thing and deadly. Again, if thou sittest at table with a man at the house of a friend and laughest and talkest with him and playest pleasant, if he be not perfect in respect of externals see thou pass him the next day page 248 without a smile, even though he may have prepared his countenance for a thousand grins; but if in the house of the same friend or another thou shouldst happen to stumble upon him, deal with him as though thy previous conversation had broken off but five minutes previously; but should he be proud and have all nothing to say unto thee, forthwith calumniate him to thine acquaintance as a sorry-spirited fellow and mean.

And with regard to smoking, though that, too, is advantageous, it is not necessary so much for the power as for the fast man, for the power is a more calculating and thoughtful being than this one; but if thou smokest, see that others know it; smoke cigars if thou canst afford them; if not, say thou wonderest at such as do, for to thy liking a pipe is better. And with regard to all men except thine own favoured and pre-eminent clique, designate them as “cheerful,” “lively,” or use some other ironical term with regard to them. So much then for the love of show.

And of the love of sound I would have thee observe that it is but a portion of the love of show, but so necessary for him who would be admired without being at the same time excellent and worthy of admiration as to deserve a separate heading to itself. At meal- times talk loudly, laugh loudly, condemn loudly; if thou sneezest sneeze loudly; if thou call the waiter do so with a noise and, if thou canst, while he is speaking to another and receiving orders from him; it will be a convenient test of thine advance to see whether he will at once quit the other in the midst of his speech with him and come to thee, or will wait until the other hath done; if thou handle it well he will come to thee at once. When others are in page 249 their rooms, as thou passeth underneath their windows, sing loudly and all men will know that a power goeth by and will hush accordingly; if thou hast a good voice it will profit thee much, if a bad one, care not so long as it be a loud one; but above all be it remembered that it is to be loud at all times and not low when with powers greater than thyself, for this damneth much—even powers being susceptible of awe, when they shall behold one resolutely bent to out-top them, and thinking it advisable to lend such an one a helping hand lest he overthrow them—but if thy voice be not a loud one, thou hadst better give up at once the hope of rising to a height by thine own skill, but must cling to and flatter those who have, and if thou dost this well thou wilt succeed.

And of personal strength and prowess in bodily accomplishment, though of great help in the origin, yet are they not necessary; but the more thou lackest physical and mental powers the more must thou cling to the powerful and rise with them; the more careful must thou be of thy dress, and the more money will it cost thee, for thou must fill well the bladders that keep thee on the surface, else wilt thou sink.

And of reserve, let no man know anything about thee. If thy father is a greengrocer, as I dare say is the case with some of the most mighty powers in the land, what matter so long as another knoweth it not? See that thou quell all inquisitive attempts to discover anything about thine habits, thy country, thy parentage, and, in a word, let no one know anything of thee beyond the exterior; for if thou dost let them within thy soul, they will find but little, but if it be barred and locked, men will think that by page 250 reason of thy strong keeping of the same, it must contain much; and they will admire thee upon credit.

And of openness, be reserved in the particular, open in the general; talk of debts, of women, of money, but say not what debts, what women, or what money; be most open when thou doest a shabby thing, which thou knowest will not escape detection. If thy coat is bad, laugh and boast concerning it, call attention to it and say thou hast had it for ten years, which will be a lie, but men will nevertheless think thee frank, but run not the risk of wearing a bad coat, save only in vacation time or in the country. But when thou doest a shabby thing which will not reach the general light, breathe not a word of it, but bury it deeply in some corner of thine own knowledge only; if it come out, glory in it; if not, let it sleep, for it is an unprofitable thing to turn over bad ground.

And of distrust, distrust all men, most of all thine own friends; they will know thee best, and thou them; thy real worth cannot escape them, think not then that thou wilt get service out of them in thy need, think not that they will deny themselves that thou mayest be saved from want, that they will in after life put out a finger to save thee, when thou canst be of no more use to them, the clique having been broken up by time. Nay, but be in thyself sufficient; distrust, and lean not so much as an ounce-weight upon another.

These things keep and thou shalt do well; keep them all and thou wilt be perfect; the more thou keep, the more nearly wilt thou arrive at the end I proposed to thee at the commencement, and even if thou doest but one of these things thoroughly, trust me thou wilt still have much power over thy fellows.