Which contains some excellent Rules for Raillery.
Mr. Glanville, who had too much Politeness and Good nature to insist too long upon the Ridicule in the Character of his Acquaintance, changed the Discourse: And Arabella, who had observed, with some Concern, the ill-judged Raillery of the young Beau, took Occasion to decry that Species of Wit; and gave it as her Opinion, that it was very dangerous and unpleasing.
For, truly, said she, it is almost impossible to use it without being hated or feared; and whoever gets a Habit of it, is in Danger of wronging all the Laws of Friendship and Humanity.
Certainly, pursued she, looking at the Beau, it is extremely unjust to railly one's Friends, and particular Acquaintance: First, choose them well, and be as nice as you please in the Choice; but when you have chosen them, by no means play upon them: 'Tis cruel and malicious, to divert one's self at the Expence of one's Friend.
However, Madam, said Mr. Glanville, who was charmed to hear her talk so rationally, you may give People Leave to railly their Enemies.
Truly, resumed Arabella, I cannot allow that, any more than upon Friends; for Raillery is the poorest kind of Revenge that can be taken: Methinks, it is mean to railly Persons who have a small Share of Merit; since, haply, their Defects were born with them, and not of their own acquiring; and it is great Injustice to descant upon one slight Fault in Men of Parts, to the Prejudice of a thousand good Qualities.
For aught I see, Madam, said the Beau, you will not allow one to railly any body.
I am of Opinion, Sir, said Arabella, that there are very few proper Objects for Raillery; and still fewer, who can railly well: The Talent of Raillery ought to be born with a Person; no Art can infuse it; and those who endeavour to railly in spite of Nature, will be so far from diverting others, that they will become the Objects of Ridicule themselves.
Many other pleasing Qualities of Wit may be acquired by Pains and Study, but Raillery must be the Gift of Nature: It is not enough to have many lively and agreeable Thoughts; but there must be such an Expression, as must convey their full Force and Meaning; the Air the Aspect, the Tone of the Voice, and every Part in general, must contribute to its Perfection.
There ought also to be a great Distance between Raillery and Satire, so that one may never be mistaken for the other: Raillery ought indeed to surprise, and sensibly touch, those to whom it is directed; but I would not have the Wounds it makes, either deep or lasting: Let those who feel it, be hurt like Persons, who, gathering Roses, are pricked by the Thorns, and find a sweet Smell to make amends. I would have Raillery raise the Fancy, and quicken the Imagination, the Fire of its Wit should only enable us to trace its Original, and shine as the Stars do, but not burn. Yet, after all, I cannot greatly approve of Raillery, or cease to think it dangerous; and, to pursue my Comparison, said she, with an inchanting Smile, Persons who possess the true Talent of Raillery, are like Comets; they are seldom seen, and are at once admir'd and fear'd.
I protest, Lady Bella, said Sir Charles, who had listen'd to her with many Signs of Admiration, you speak like an Orator.
One would not imagine, interrupted Mr. Glanville, who saw Arabella in some Confusion at the coarse Praise her Uncle gave her, that my Cousin could speak so accurately of a Quality she never practises: And 'tis easy to judge by what she has said, that no body can railly finer than herself, if she pleases.
Mr. Selvin, tho' he bore her a Grudge for knowing more History than he did, yet assur'd her, that she had given the best Rules imaginable for raillying well. But the Beau, whom she had silenc'd by her Reproof, was extremely angry; and, supposing it would mortify her to see him pay Court to her Cousin, he redoubled his Assiduities to Miss Glanville, who has highly delighted at seeing Arabella less taken Notice of by this gay Gentleman, than herself.