Conviviality

Conviviality is a virtue, the cultivation of which is essential to the well-being of everybody. 

We may have our doubts as to what constitutes this virtue; we may question the time when its exercise is most opportune; but we cannot doubt—the experience of every age and nation forbids us to doubt—that without Conviviality this world of ours would be a sorry place to live in.

What is Conviviality ? It were pedantic, perhaps, to lay down a hard and fast definition of it, but there can be no objection to our stating what it is not—at least in our estimation.

Conviviality is not merely the simple pleasure we derive from some feast or banquet, or other kind of social entertainment.

It is not the momentary interchange of friendliness which chance association brings with it.

Still Jess is it the prepared intercourse of men with one another for the mere purposes of sensual enjoyment.

Conviviality means more, or other than this. It implies, to begin with, a kinship of spirit among the convives.

They must be men animated by the same kind of feeling. They must have a common purpose in view, and that purpose must be what our Gallic friends describe as spirituel.

This purpose must be a good one; the feelings that animate them must stand the fire of hostile criticism, for Conviviality hath nought in common with what is evil or evil minded.

Conviviality and austerity are the antipodes of each other. The former is simple and straightforward, assuming every-thing to be what it seems till it is tried to be otherwise.

The latter regards everything and everybody with a stern, if not an evil regard, till they have been tried and found not wanting.

A convivial is a good man in the fullest sense of the word. He is religious, for no men can appreciate what is good without possessing the sense of thank-fulness, and thankfulness is of the essence of religion.

He has in him, so to speak, the milk of human kindness.

To live in concert with others implies a sense of friendliness for them. Solitude, which in some form or other pertains to selfishness, is impossible.

He lives not with himself or for himself; but with others and for others.

He is ever on the outlook to do good. The sense of pleasure he feels excites in him the desire to promote pleasure for others.

Conviviality, in fact, implies not only social, but moral and religions excellence. But to pass to the Conviviality which is most familiar tous, and the comprehension of which is possibly less trying.

The Convivial man, in common parlance, is a right jovial good fellow. He has been so always and everywhere.

This is no slight praise. To dub a man jovial and good implies that he possesses some qualities that are admirable, though the exact nature of these qualities may be some-what loosely defined.

But the sense we usually apply to this description involves no obscurity of meaning whatever.

We should never think of so describing an ill-natured or unkindly man, one who could not find enjoyment for himself, and was incapable, therefore, of promoting it for others.

The right jovial fellow enjoys life, and makes a point of doing so.

Better still, he is careful that others shall be in the same boat, or, at all events, follow in the same track.

He loves enjoyment, not only for its sake, for his own sake, and for the sake of his companions; but likewise as a moans to an end, so that he may help others to enjoy themselves.

Hence, not unwisely perhaps, the banquet or other similar entertainment is most commonly the chosen opportunity for cultivating this virtue.

Some will insist, of course, that this virtue, or rather this particular development of it, savours very strongly of selfishness—the attainment of one’s own plea-sure first, and then the promotion of that of other people.

We have already, to a certain extent, anticipated this objection.

Mere sensual enjoyment by no means constitutes, in our opinion, Conviviality.

It may be an element in it, but it is very far from being the whole. Experience has taught us that good invariably results from the free intercourse of men with each other.

They become, in the first instance, more sociable, then more friendly amongst themselves, and so gradually towards others.

The more frequent then these opportunities for cultivating these friendly relations, the better it is for all classes of men, for Conviviality is the declared enemy of prejudice, whether it be one’s own opinion or that of a class.

Hence, again, the banquet has been fitly chosen, to inaugurate all meetings for charitable purposes.

It is not the mere pleasures of the table which help forward the work of charity, but the free and friendly intercourse to which the banquet gives rise.

The liberal-minded man is confirmed in his liberality, the doubts of the hesitating are removed.

All the world over this virtue, whether in its narrowest or most extended meaning, and charity go hand-in-hand together.

Each helps the other forward. The Convivial man is charitable, the charitable man Convivial.

No wonder then, in Masonry, as in all things else, the two are inseparable.

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