The Argosy of Pure Delight.

Society for Propagating Impudence

Lucubrations of Nehemiah Notional.

№. V.

I am singular in most of my opin­ions, and perhaps in none more so than in my firm belief that modesty highly adorns a woman, and does not in the least dero­gate from the char­acter of a gentle­man. Wishing however to remain impartial, I shall, as requested by ‘a friend,’ readily communicate the following


(which was never published)

Delivered before the Society for Propagating Impudence,

By Samuel Saucebox, Esq.

There was a time, strange as it may now seem, when a degree of diffi­dence enhanced merit; when modesty, so far from becoming an obstacle to advancement, recommended one to notice—a time when Impu­dence, which is now indis­pensable, was a stranger even in the fash­ionable world. One cannot look back to those days of dark­ness and ignorance without astonish­ment; nor reflect but with conscious pride and pleasure upon the rapid advances man has since made in improv­ement. The reflection to me affords proof almost de­monstra­tive, and I think must as firmly convince every thinking being, that the doctrine of human per­fecti­bility is true, and that we are rapidly advancing to per­fection. Our forefathers, modest souls! would sit quietly till men dis­covered their worth, and wait patiently till they rewarded it. So far from praising them­selves, they would actually blush when praised by others. They never intentionally injured the reputation, soiled the clothes, or wounded the feelings of any one; and I am told, though I can scarcely credit it, that they could not stare a modest woman out of coun­tenance, nor tell a lie, without trembling! The young treated the more advanced with respect, and generally in their inter­course with each other a due attention was paid to rank and station. Yea, farther, such was the pernicious influence of prejudice and early impres­sions on the mind, that the few, who nobly dared to sound the trumpet of self-commendation, were either totally dis­regarded or treated with the most marked contempt.

But Heaven be praised! the human mind is at length freed from the shackles of Modesty. The empire of Impudence is rapidly extending, and, we trust, will be as permanent as it is extensive. It must give pleasure to every enemy of decorum, it must gratify every lover of licen­tious­ness to hear, that among the votaries of Impudence, may be found the wise, the wealthy, the honourable, and the fair—that the standard of Modesty is deserted, except by a few super­annuated maiden ladies who yet pretend to adhere to her.

Though you, my brethren, early attached yourselves to the cause of Impudence, and have uniformly and warmly evinced the sincerity of that attach­ment both by words and deeds, it may not be improper on this occasion, briefly to state the privileges of impertinence, and the embarras­ments to which Modesty would subject us. As Modesty is a kind of distrust of our talents, and diffidence of our powers, it neces­sarily deprives one of that energy and presence of mind, which is so useful in many, if not most of the situations of life. We may be wise, but Modesty will prevent an adequate use of that wisdom. It is inconsistent with a proper improvement of talents, even if we possess them. On the contrary, Impudence frequently gives a fool all the profit as well as show of learning, and you may often see a man of sense vanquished by the mere imper­ti­nence and loquacity of a shallow-pated antagonist.

Again, in the most common occurrences of life, Modesty experiences morti­fi­cations and suffers impositions, which Impudence never dreams of. She must generally either stand till she is tired, or sit at the footstool of her successful rival. She is entirely excluded from fashionable society, since the Ladies dislike to be seen with her, and the Gentlemen always leave her with disgust. She dares not appear at places of amusement, and at church is confounded by the scrutinizing stare of the numerous sons of Impudence. When at home, she is neglected, when abroad, insulted. In short, to such a degree is she harrassed in this age of refine­ment, that she must either voluntarily leave polished society or shortly die with a broken heart.

To illustrate this idea still further, it may be well to mention a few of the many embarrasments and impositions to which a modest man is necessarily exposed.—He is undoubtedly a shocking bore in all companies; for if he be foolish (but by the way we seldom meet a modest fool) his modesty renders him ten times more ridiculous; and if he be wise, he either dares not show his sense or is so awkward in his attempts at wit, that all mistake him for a fool. At the theatre he is generally obliged to resign his proper place to some brazen-faced fellow, who has no right in the box. At a tavern he has to submit to the worst accom­moda­tions, and to pay a most extravagant bill. If he walk his friends laugh at him, and strangers shove him into the gutter. If he ride, he gets the worst horse the stable can afford, and is charged only double price. If he form a good plan, some impudent rogue reaps the advantage of it, while he is patiently waiting a proper opportunity for putting it into execution, &c. &c. The enumera­tion of such impositions would be endless; suffice it to say that, go where he will, do what he will, he finds Modesty the most expensive as well as the most uncom­fortable dress he can wear.

Can we then, my brethren, sufficiently congratulate ourselves on our emanci­pation from the dominion of Modesty? Can we reflect upon our freedom without feeling strong emotions of gratitude and admiration? Let that day be conse­crated to endless fame, which witnessed the complete and glorious triumph of Impudence. Let us early instil into the minds of our children those principles which have hitherto so firmly attached us to her cause, that we may reap the fruits of their imper­tinence in our old age. And after boldly bustling through this vale of tears, may we, when death shall rudely advance to end our career, by our insulting grin convince him that we are indeed the sons of Impudence.

Boston, April 14, 1807.

The Polyanthos, April, 1807.