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And yet one may sometimes meet with a man in clean and fashionable clothes, giving an absolute, unbounded swing to his own humour herein, and suffering it to jostle or overbear every thing that stands in its way, with a perfect indifference how people have reason to take it. This is a brutality every one sees and abhors. It is what no one can approve, or be easy with; and therefore it finds no place with those who have any tincture of goad-breeding; the end and design of which is, to supple our natural stiffness, and to soften men's tempers, that they may bend and accommodate themselves to those with whom they have to do.
Contempt is the second thing inconsistent with good-breeding, and is entirely averse to it. And if this want of respect be discovered, either in a man's looks, words, or gestures, come it from whom it will, it always brings uneasiness and pain along with it: for nobody can contentedly bear to be slighted.
A Third thing of the like nature, is Censor 1Ousness, or a disposition to find fault with others.— Men, whatever they are guilty of, would not chuse to have their blemishes displayed and set in open view. Failings always carry some degree of shame with them; and the discovery, or even imputation of any defect, is not borne by them without uneasiness.
Raillery must be confessed to be the most refined way of exposing the faults of others; and, because it is commonly done with some wit, in good language, and entertains the company, people are apt to be led into a mistake, that where it keeps within fair bounds, there is no incivility in it. The pleasantry of this sort of conversation introduces it ofren, therefore, among people of the better sort; and such talkers, it must be owned, are well heard, and generally applauded by the laughter of the standers-by: but it ought at the same time to be considered, that the entertainment of the company is at the cost of the person made the object of ridicule; who, therefore, cannot be without some uneasiness on the occasion, unless the subject on which he is rallied be matter of commendation; in which case, the pleasant images which make the raillery, carry with them praise as well as sporty and, the rallied person finding his account in it, may also take a part in the diversion.
But in regard to the right management of so nice a point, wherein the Jetsst slip may spoil all, is not every body's talent, it is better, that such as would be secure of not provoking others, should wholly abstain from raillery, which, by a small mistake, or wrong turn, may leave upon the mind of those who are stung by it, the lasting memory of having been sharply, though wittily, taunted, for something censurable in them.
Contradiction is also a sort of censorhusness, wherein ill-breeding much too often shews itself.— Complaisance does not require, that we should admit of all the reasonings, or silently approve of all the accounts of things, that may be vented in our hearing. The opposing the ill-grounded opinions, and the rectifying the mistakes of others, is what truth and charity sometimes require of us; nor does civility forbid it, so it be done with proper caution and due care of circumstances. But there are some men who seem so perfectly possest, as it were, with the spirit of contradiction and perverseness, that they steadily, and without regard either to right or wrong, oppose some one, and perhaps every of the company, in whatsoever is advanced. This is so evident and outrageous a degree of censuring, that none can avoid thinking himself injured by it.
All sort of opposition to what another man says," is so apt to be suspected of censoriousness, and is so seldom received without some sort of humiliation, that it ought to be made in the gentlest manner, and couched in the softest expressions that can be found, and such as, with the whole deportment, may express no forwardness to contradict. All possible marks of respect and good-will ought to accompany it; that, whilst we gain the argument, we may not lose the good inclinations of any that hear, and especially of those who happen to differ from us.
And here we ought not to pass by an ordinary but a very great fault, that frequently happens in almost every dispute; I mean that of interrupting others, •while they art speaking. This is a failing which the members of the best-regulated confraternities among us have endeavoured to guard against, in the bye-laws of their respective societies; and is what the R. W. person in the chair should principally regard, and see well put in execution. Yet, as it is an ill practice that prevails much in the world, and especially where less care is taken, it cannot be improper to offer a word or two against it here.
There cannot be a greater rudeness than to interrupt another in the current of his discourse: for if it be\iot impertinence and folly to answer a man before we know what he has to say, yet it is a plain declaration that we are weary of his discourse; that we disregard what he says, as judging it not fit to entertain the society with; and is in fact little less than a downright desiring that ourselves may have audience, who have something to produce better worth the attention of the company. As this is no'ordinary degree of disrespect, it cannot but give always very great offence.
The fourth thing, brethren, that is against civility, and therefore apt to overset the harmony of conversation, is Captiousness. And it is so, not only because it often produces misbecoming and provoking expressions and behaviour in a part of the company, but because it is a tacit accusation and a reproach for something ill taken, from those we are displeased with.— Such an intimation, or even suspicion, must always be uneasy to society; and as one angry person is sufficient to discompose a whole company, so, for the most part, all mutual happiness and satisfaction ceases therein, on any such jarring. This failing therefore should be guarded against with as much care, as either the boisterous rusticity and insinuated contempt, or the illnatured disposition to censure, already considered and disallowed of. For as peace, ease, and satisfaction are what constitute the pleasure, the happiness, and are the very soul of conversation; if these be interrupted, the design of society is undermined: and in that circumstance, how should brotherly love continue? Certain it is, that unless good ardtrt decency and temper be pre* served by the individuals of society, confusion will be introduced, and a dissolution will naturally very quickly follow.
What therefore remains is to remind the brethren, that Masons have ever been lovers of Order. It is the business of their particular profession to reduce all rude matters to truth. Their aphorisms recommend it. The number of their lights, and the declared end of their coming together, intimate the frame and disposition of mind wherewith they are to meet, and the manner of their behaviour when assembled.
Shall it then ever be said, that those, who by choice are distinguished from the gross of mankind, and who voluntarily have enrolled their names in this most ancient and honourable Society, are so far wanting to themselves, and the Order they profess, as to neglect its rules? Shall those, who are banded and cemented together by the strictest ties of amity, omit the practice of forbearance and brotherly love? Or shall the passions of those persons ever become ungovernable^ who assemble purposely to subdue them?
We are, let it be considered, the successors of those who reared a structure to the honour of AlMighty God, the Grand Architect of the world, which, for wisdom, strength, and beauty, hath never yet had any parallel. We are intimately related to those great and worthy spirits, who have ever made it their business and their aim to improve themselves, and to inform mankind. Let us then copy their example, that A a a