Caesar had all the great vices, and Cato all the great virtues, that men could have. But Caesar had the 'leniores virtutes' which Cato wanted, and which made him beloved, even by his enemies, and gained him the hearts of mankind, in spite of their reason: while Cato was not even beloved by his friends, notwithstanding the esteem and respect which they could not refuse to his virtues; ,and I am apt to think, that if Caesar had wanted, and Cato possessed, those 'leniores virtutes', the former would not have attempted (at least with success), and the latter could have protected, the liberties of Rome. Mr. Addison, in his "Cato," says of Caesar (and I believe with truth),
"Curse on his virtues, they've undone his country."
By which he means those lesser, but engaging virtues of gentleness, affability, complaisance, and good humor. The knowledge of a scholar, the courage of a hero, and the virtue of a Stoic, will be admired; but if the knowledge be accompanied with arrogance, the courage with ferocity, and the virtue with inflexible severity, the man will never be loved. The heroism of Charles XII. of Sweden (if his brutal courage deserves that name) was universally admired, but the man nowhere beloved. Whereas Henry IV. of France, who had full as much courage, and was much longer engaged in wars, was generally beloved upon account of his lesser and social virtues. We are all so formed, that our understandings are generally the DUPES of our hearts, that is, of our passions; and the surest way to the former is through the latter, which must be engaged by the 'leniores virtutes' alone, and the manner of exerting them. The insolent civility of a proud man is (for example) if possible, more shocking than his rudeness could be; because he shows you by his manner that he thinks it mere condescension in him; and that his goodness alone bestows upon you what you have no pretense to claim. He intimates his protection, instead of his friendship, by a gracious nod, instead of a usual bow; and rather signifies his consent that you may, than his invitation that you should sit, walk, eat, or drink with him.
The costive liberality of a purse-proud man insults the distresses it sometimes relieves; he takes care to make you feel your own misfortunes, and the difference between your situation and his; both which he insinuates to be justly merited: yours, by your folly; his, by his wisdom. The arrogant pedant does not communicate, but promulgates his knowledge. He does not give it you, but he inflicts it upon you; and is (if possible) more desirous to show you your own ignorance than his own learning. Such manners as these, not only in the particular instances which I have mentioned, but likewise in all others, shock and revolt that little pride and vanity which every man has in his heart; and obliterate in us the obligation for the favor conferred, by reminding us of the motive which produced, and the manner which accompanied it.
These faults point out their opposite perfections, and your own good sense will naturally suggest them to you.
But besides these lesser virtues, there are what may be called the lesser talents, or accomplishments, which are of great use to adorn and recommend all the greater; and the more so, as all people are judges of the one, and but few are of the other. Everybody feels the impression, which an engaging address, an agreeable manner of speaking, and an easy politeness, makes upon them; and they prepare the way for the favorable reception of their betters. Adieu.
LONDON, December 26, O. S. 1749.
MY DEAR FRIEND: The new year is the season in which custom seems more particularly to authorize civil and harmless lies, under the name of compliments. People reciprocally profess wishes which they seldom form; and concern, which they seldom feel. This is not the case between you and me, where truth leaves no room for compliments.
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