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Rambler 189 [The mischiefs of falsehood…]
by [?]

Few men survey themselves with so much severity, as not to admit prejudices in their own favour, which an artful flatterer may gradually strengthen, till wishes for a particular qualification are improved to hopes of attainment, and hopes of attainment to belief of possession. Such flatterers every one will find, who has power to reward their assiduities. Wherever there is wealth there will be dependance and expectation, and wherever there is dependance, there will be an emulation of servility.

Many of the follies which provoke general censure, are the effects of such vanity as, however it might have wantoned in the imagination, would scarcely have dared the publick eye, had it not been animated and emboldened by flattery. Whatever difficulty there may be in the knowledge of ourselves, scarcely any one fails to suspect his own imperfections, till he is elevated by others to confidence. We are almost all naturally modest and timorous; but fear and shame are uneasy sensations, and whosoever helps to remove them is received with kindness.

Turpicula was the heiress of a large estate, and having lost her mother in her infancy, was committed to a governess, whom misfortunes had reduced to suppleness and humility. The fondness of Turpicula’s father would not suffer him to trust her at a publick school, but he hired domestick teachers, and bestowed on her all the accomplishments that wealth could purchase. But how many things are necessary to happiness which money cannot obtain! Thus secluded from all with whom she might converse on terms of equality, she heard none of those intimations of her defects, which envy, petulance, or anger, produce among children, where they are not afraid of telling what they think.

Turpicula saw nothing but obsequiousness, and heard nothing but commendations. None are so little acquainted with the heart, as not to know that woman’s first wish is to be handsome, and that consequently the readiest method of obtaining her kindness is to praise her beauty. Turpicula had a distorted shape and a dark complexion; yet, when the impudence of adulation had ventured to tell her of the commanding dignity of her motion, and the soft enchantment of her smile, she was easily convinced, that she was the delight or torment of every eye, and that all who gazed upon her felt the fire of envy or love. She therefore neglected the culture of an understanding which might have supplied the defects of her form, and applied all her care to the decoration of her person; for she considered that more could judge of beauty than of wit, and was, like the rest of human beings, in haste to be admired. The desire of conquest naturally led her to the lists in which beauty signalizes her power. She glittered at court, fluttered in the park, and talked aloud in the front box; but after a thousand experiments of her charms, was at last convinced that she had been flattered, and that her glass was honester than her maid.

[Footnote k: Mrs. Piozzi, in her Anecdotes, informs us, that the man who sung, and, by corresponding motions of his arm, chalked out a giant on the wall, was one Richardson, an attorney: the ingenious imitator of a cat, was one Busby, a proctor in the Commons: and the father of Dr. Salter, of the Charter-House, a friend of Johnson’s, and a member of the Ivy-Lane Club, was the person who yelped like a hound, and perplexed the distracted waiters.–Mr. Chalmers, in his preface to the Rambler, observes, that the above-quoted lively writer was the only authority for these assignments. She is certainly far too hasty and negligent to be relied on, when unsupported by other testimony.–See Preface.]