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derifion on this fubject, is deftructive to the general interests of society, inasmuch as it tends to repress and damp endeavours to pleafe. How is it poffible that men who devote the greater portion of their time to the folitary and abstracted pursuits of literature, can possess that prompitude of thought, that vivacity of expreffion, those easy manners, and that varying humour, which prevail so agreeably in mixed fociety, and which can only be acquired by a conftant intercourfe with the world? It was not only cruel, but unjust, of the Swedish courtiers to divert themfelves with the confufion and embarraffments into which MIEBOM and NAUDE, two celebrated writers on the Music and Dances of the ancients, were thrown, when the celebrated CHRISTINA defired the one to fing and the other to dance in public for the entertainment of the court. Still lefs excufable were thofe imps of fashion in France, who expofed the celebrated mathematician NICOLE to the derifion of a large company for the mifapplication of a word. A fashionable female at Paris having heard that NICOLE, who had then lately written a profound and highly approved treatise on the doctrine of curves, was greatly celebrated in all the circles of science, and affecting to be thought the patronnefs and intimate of all perfons of diftinguished merit, fent him fuch an invitation to one of her parties, that
he could not refuse to accept of. The abstracted geometrician, who had never before been present at an affembly of the kind, received the civilities of his fair hoftefs, and her illuftrious friends, with all the aukwardness and confufion which such a scene muft naturally create. After paffing an uncomfortable evening in answering the obfervations of those who addreffed him, in which he experienced much greater difficulties than he would have found in folving the most intricate problem, he prepared to take his leave, and pouring out a profufion of declarations to the lady of the house, of the grateful sense he entertained of the high honour fhe had conferred on him by her generous invitation, distinguishing attention, polite regard, and extraordinary civility, rofe to the climax of his compliments, by affuring her that the lovely little eyes of his fair entertainer had made an impreffion which could never be erased from his breast, and immediately departed. But a kind friend, who was accompanying him home, whispered in his ear, as they were paffing to the stairs, that he had paid the lady a very ill compliment, by telling her that her eyes were little, for that little eyes were univerfally understood by the whole fex to be a great defect. NICOLE, mortified to an extreme by the mistake he had thus innocently made, and resolving to apologize to the lady,
whom he conceived he had offended, returned abruptly to the company, and entreated her, with great humility, to pardon the error into which his confufion had betrayed him, of imputing any thing like littleness to so high, so elegant, so distinguished a character, declaring that he had never beheld fuch fine large eyes, fuch fine large lips, fuch fine large hands, or fo fine and large a perfon altogether, in the whole courfe of his life.
The profeffional pursuits of students confine them, during the early periods of life, to retirement and feclufion, and prevent them, in general, from attempting to mix in the society of the world, until age or profeffional habits have rendered them unfit for this fcene. Difcouraged by the neglect they experience, and by the ridicule to which they are expofed, on their firft introduction into active life, from perfevering in their attempts to shake off the uncouth manner they have acquired, they immediately shrink from the displeasing prospect into their original obfcurity, in despair of ever attaining the talents neceffary to render them agreeable to the elegant and gay. There are, indeed, fome men, who, on attempting to change the calm and rational enjoyments of a retired and studious life, for the more lively and loquacious pleasures of public fociety, perceive the manners and maxims of the
world fo repugnant to their principles, and fo difagreeable to their taste and inclinations, that they instantly abandon society, and, renouncing all future attempts to enter into its vortex, calmly and contentedly return to their beloved retreat, under an idea that it is wrong for persons of such different dispositions to intermix or invade the provinces of each other. There are also many ftudious characters who avoid fociety under an idea, that they have transferred their whole minds into their own compofitions; that they have exhausted all that they poffeffed of either inftruction or entertainment; and that they would, like empty bottles, or squeezed oranges, be thrown afide with difregard, and, perhaps, with contempt, as perfons no longer capable of contributing to companionable pleasures. But there are others, of founder fenfe, and better judgment, who gladly relinquish the noisy assemblies of public life, and joyfully retire to the sweet and tranquil scenes of rural Solitude, because they seldom meet, among the candidates for public approbation, a fingle individual capable of enjoying a juft thought, or making a rational reflection; but, on the contrary, have to encounter a host of vain and frivolous pretenders to wit and learning, who herd together like the anarchs of infurrection, to oppose, with noife and violence, the progress of truth and the exertions of reason.
Sentiments like thefe too frequently banish from the circles of fociety characters of useful knowledge and of diftinguished genius, and from whofe endowments mankind might receive both inftruction and delight. The lofs in fuch a case to the individual is, perhaps, trifling; his comforts may poffibly be encreased by his feclufion; but the interests of truth and good sense are thereby confiderably injured: for the mind of man, however powerful and informed it may be in itself, cannot employ its energies and acquifitions with the fame advantage and effect, as when it is whetted by a collifion with other minds, and polished by the manners of the world. An acquaintance with the living characters and manners of the world, teaches the mind to direct its powers to their proper and most useful points; exhibits the means, and furnishes the inftruments, by which the best exertions of virtue can attain her ends; gives morals their brightest colour, taste its highest refinement, and truth its faireft objects. The wifeft and beft philofophers have acknowledged the obligations they were under to fociety for the knowledge they acquired in its extenfive though dangerous school, and have ftrongly recommended the study of mankind, by viewing all the various claffes with a difcriminating eye, as the best means of becoming acquainted with the beauties of Virtue and the deformities of Vice,