If you go among the Women, and behold Gloriana trip into a Room with that theatrical Ostentation of her Charms, Mirtilla with that soft Regularity in her Motion, Chloe with such an indifferent Familiarity, Corinna with such a fond Approach, and Roxana with such a Demand of Respect in the great Gravity of her Entrance; you find all the Sex, who understand themselves and act naturally, wait only for their Absence, to tell you that all these Ladies would impose themselves upon you; and each of them carry in their Behaviour a Consciousness of so much more than they should pretend to, that they lose what would otherwise be given them.
I remember the last time I saw Macbeth, I was wonderfully taken with the Skill of the Poet, in making the Murderer form Fears to himself from the Moderation of the Prince whose Life he was going to take away. He says of the King, He bore his Faculties so meekly; and justly inferred from thence, That all divine and human Power would join to avenge his Death, who had made such an abstinent Use of Dominion. All that is in a Man’s Power to do to advance his own Pomp and Glory, and forbears, is so much laid up against the Day of Distress; and Pity will always be his Portion in Adversity, who acted with Gentleness in Prosperity.
The great Officer who foregoes the Advantages he might take to himself, and renounces all prudential Regards to his own Person in Danger, has so far the Merit of a Volunteer; and all his Honours and Glories are unenvied, for sharing the common Fate with the same Frankness as they do who have no such endearing Circumstances to part with. But if there were no such Considerations as the good Effect which Self-denial has upon the Sense of other Men towards us, it is of all Qualities the most desirable for the agreeable Disposition in which it places our own Minds. I cannot tell what better to say of it, than that it is the very Contrary of Ambition; and that Modesty allays all those Passions and Inquietudes to which that Vice exposes us. He that is moderate in his Wishes from Reason and Choice, and not resigned from Sourness, Distaste, or Disappointment, doubles all the Pleasures of his Life. The Air, the Season, a [Sun-shiny ] Day, or a fair Prospect, are Instances of Happiness, and that which he enjoys in common with all the World, (by his Exemption from the Enchantments by which all the World are bewitched) are to him uncommon Benefits and new Acquisitions. Health is not eaten up with Care, nor Pleasure interrupted by Envy. It is not to him of any Consequence what this Man is famed for, or for what the other is preferred. He knows there is in such a Place an uninterrupted Walk; he can meet in such a Company an agreeable Conversation: He has no Emulation, he is no Man’s Rival, but every Man’s Well-wisher; can look at a prosperous Man, with a Pleasure in reflecting that he hopes he is as happy as himself; and has his Mind and his Fortune (as far as Prudence will allow) open to the Unhappy and to the Stranger.