Mandeville's analysis of acting for reputation -- does it, can it, make sense, and if so how?  Here's the fascinating passage we began looking at:


The Soldiers, that were forc’d to fight,

If they surviv’d, got Honour by’t; [p. 22, l. 1]


[From Mandeville’s notes:] The Man of Manners picks not the best but rather takes the worst out of the Dish, and gets of every thing, unless it be forc’d upon him, always the most indifferent Share. By this Civility the Best remains for others, which being a Compliment to all that are present, every Body is pleas’d with it: The more they love themselves, the more they are forc’d to approve of his Behaviour, and Gratitude stepping in, they are oblig’d almost whether they will or not, to think favourably of him. After this manner it is that the well-bred Man insinuates himself in the esteem of all the Companies he comes in, and if he gets nothing else by it, the Pleasure he receives in reflecting on the Applause which he knows is secretly given him, is to a Proud Man more than an Equivalent for his former Self-denial, and over-pays to Self-love with Interest, the loss it sustain’d in his Complaisance to others.

If there are Seven or Eight Apples or Peaches among Six People of Ceremony, that are pretty near equal, he who is prevail’d upon to choose first, will take that, which, if there be any considerable difference, a Child would know to be the worst: this he does to insinuate, that he [72]looks upon those he is with to be of Superior Merit, and that there is not one whom he wishes not better to than he does to himself. ’Tis Custom and a general Practice that makes this Modish Deceit familiar to us, without being shock’d at the [79] Absurdity of it; for if People had been used to speak from the Sincerity of their Hearts, and act according to the natural Sentiments they felt within, ’till they were Three or Four and Twenty, it would be impossible for them to assist at this Comedy of Manners, without either loud Laughter or Indignation; and yet it is certain, that sucha Behaviour makes us more tolerable to one another than we could be otherwise.

It is very Advantageous to the Knowledge of our selves, to be able well to distinguish between good Qualities and Virtues. The Bond of Society exacts from every Member a certain Regard for others, which the Highest is not exempt from in the presence of the Meanest even in an Empire: but when we are by our selves, and so far remov’d from Company as to be beyond the Reach of their Senses, the Words Modesty and Impudence lose their meaning; a Person may be Wicked, but he cannot be Immodest while he is alone, and no Thought can be Impudent that never was communicated to another. A Man of Exalted Pride may so hide it, that no Body shall be able to discover that he has any; and yet receive greater Satisfaction [73]from that Passion than another, who indulges himself in the Declaration of it before all the World. Good Manners have nothing to do with Virtue or Religion; instead of extinguishing, they rather inflame the Passions. The Man of Sense and Education never exults more in his Pride than when he hides it with the greatest Dexterity;1 and in feasting on the Applause, which he is sure all good Judges will pay to his Behaviour, he enjoys a Pleasure altogether unknown to the Short-sighted, surly Alderman, that shews his Haughtiness glaringly in his Face, pulls off his Hat to no Body, and hardly deigns to speak to an Inferior.