The Spectator, Volume 2. eBook

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From what has been said, it is plain, that Modesty and Assurance are both amiable, and may very well meet in the same Person.  When they are thus mixed and blended together, they compose what we endeavour to express when we say a modest Assurance; by which we understand the just Mean between Bashfulness and Impudence.

I shall conclude with observing, that as the same Man may be both Modest and Assured, so it is also possible for the same Person to be both Impudent and Bashful.

We have frequent Instances of this odd kind of Mixture in People of depraved Minds and mean Education; who tho’ they are not able to meet a Man’s Eyes, or pronounce a Sentence without Confusion, can Voluntarily commit the greatest Villanies, or most indecent Actions.

Such a Person seems to have made a Resolution to do Ill even in spite of himself, and in defiance of all those Checks and Restraints his Temper and Complection seem to have laid in his way.

Upon the whole, I would endeavour to establish this Maxim, That the Practice of Virtue is the most proper Method to give a Man a becoming Assurance in his Words and Actions.  Guilt always seeks to shelter it self in one of the Extreams, and is sometimes attended with both.


[Footnote 1: 

[—­Strabonem Appellat paetumm pater; et pullum, male parvus Si cui filius est; ut abortivus fuit olim Sisyphus:  hunc varum, distortis cruribus; illum Balbutit scaurum, pravis fullum male talis.


[Footnote 2:  Book III., Chapters 10, 11.  Words are the subject of this book; ch. 10 is on the Abuse of Words; ch. 11 of the Remedies of the foregoing imperfections and abuses.]

* * * * *

No. 374.  Friday, May 9, 1712.  Steele.

  ‘Nil actum reputans si quid superesset agendum.’


There is a Fault, which, tho’ common, wants a Name.  It is the very contrary to Procrastination:  As we lose the present Hour by delaying from Day to Day to execute what we ought to do immediately; so most of us take Occasion to sit still and throw away the Time in our Possession, by Retrospect on what is past, imagining we have already acquitted our selves, and established our Characters in the sight of Mankind.  But when we thus put a Value upon our selves for what we have already done, any further than to explain our selves in order to assist our future Conduct, that will give us an over-weening opinion of our Merit to the prejudice of our present Industry.  The great Rule, methinks, should be to manage the Instant in which we stand, with Fortitude, Equanimity, and Moderation, according to Men’s respective Circumstances.  If our past Actions reproach us, they cannot be attoned for by our own severe Reflections so effectually as by a contrary Behaviour.  If they are praiseworthy,

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