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tranfmitted to pofterity, nations conquered and civilized now fince the proper and genuine motives to these and the like great actions, would only influence virtuous minds; there would be but fmall improvements in the world, were there not fome common principle of action working equally with all men. And fuch a principle is ambition or a defire of fame, by which great endowments are not fuffered to lie idle and ufelefs to the public, and many vicious men, over-reached, as it were, and engaged contrary to their natural inclinations in a glorious and laudable course of action. For we may farther observe, that men of the greatest abilities are most fired with ambition: and that on the contrary, mean and narrow minds are the leaft actuated by it: whether it be that a man's fenfe of his own incapacities makes him defpair of coming at fame, or that he has not enough range of thought to look out for any good which does not more immediately relate to his intereft or convenience, or that Providence, in the very frame of his foul, would not fubject him to fuch a paflion as would be ufelefs to the world, and a torment to himself.
Were not this defire of fame very strong, the difficulty of obtaining it, and the danger of Jofing it when obtained, would be fufficient to deter a man from fo vain a purfuit.
How few are there who are furnished with abilities fufficient to recommend their actions to the admiration of the world, and to distinguish themselves from the rest of mankind? Providence for the most part fets us upon a level, and obferves a kind of proportion in its difpenfation towards us. If it renders us perfect in one accomplishment, it generally leaves us defective in another, and feems careful rather of preferving every perfon from being mean and deficient in his qualifications, than of making any fingle one eminent or extraordinary.
And among those who are the most richly endowed by nature, and accomplished by their own industry, how few are there whofe virtues are not obfcured by the ignorance, prejudice or envy of their beholders? Some men cannot difcern between a noble and a mean action: others are apt to attribute them to fome false end or intention; or others purposely mifreprefent, or put a wrong interpretation on them.
But the more to enforce this confideration, we may obferve that thofe are generally moft unfuccefsful in their purfuit after fame, who are moft defirous of obtaining it. It is Salluft's remark upon Cato, that the lefs he coveted glory the more he acquired it.
Men take an ill-natured pleasure in croffing our inclinations, and disappointing us in what our hearts are moft fet apon. When therefore they have difcovered the paffionate defire of fame in the ambitious man, as no temper of mind is more apt to fhew itself, they become sparing and
referved in their commendations, they envy him the fatisfaction of an applaufe, and look on their praifes rather as a kindnefs done to his perfon,
than as a tribute paid to his merit. Others who are free from this natural perverfeness of temper grow wary in their praises of one, who fets too great a value on them, left they fhould raife him too high in his own imagination, and by confequence remove him to a greater diftance from themselves.
But farther, this defire of fame naturally be. trays the ambitious man into fuch indecencles, as are a leffening to his reputation. He is ftill afraid left any of his actions fhould be thrown away in private, left his deferts fhould be concealed from the notice of the world, or receive any disadvantage from the reports which others make of them. This often fets him on empty boasts and oftentations of himself, and betrays him into vain fantastical recitals of his own performances: his difcourfe generally leans one way, and, whatever is the fubject of it, tends obliquely either to the detracting from others, or to the extolling of himself. Vanity is the natural weaknefs of an ambitious man, which expofes him to the fecret fcorn and derifion of thofe he converfes with, and ruins the character he is so industrious to advance by it. For though his actions are never fo glorious, they lofe their luftre when they are drawn at large, and fet to fhow by his own hand; and as the world is more apt to find fault than to commend, the boaft will probably be cenfured when the great action that occafioned it is forgotten.
Befides, this very defire of fame is looked on as a meannefs and imperfection in the greatest character. A folid and fubftantial greatnefs of foul looks down with a generous neglect on the cenfures and applaufes of the multitude, and places a man beyond the little noife and ftrife of tongues. Accordingly we find in ourselves a fecret awe and veneration for the character of one who moves about us in a regular and illufurious course of virtue, without any regard to our good or ill opinions of him, to our reproaches or commendations. As on the contrary it is ufual for us, when we would take off from the fame and reputation of an action, to afcribe it to vain-glory, and a defire of fame in the actor. Nor is this common judgment and opinion of mankind illfounded for certainly it denotes no great bravery of mind to be worked up to any noble action by fo felfish a motive, and to do that out of a defire of fame, which we could not be prompted to by a difinterested love to mankind, or by a generous paffion for the glory of him that made us.
Thus is fame a thing difficult to be obtained by all, but particularly by those who thirst after it, fince most men have fo much either of ill-nature, or of warinefs, as not to gratify or footh the vanity of the ambitious man; and fince this very thirst after fame naturally betrays him into fuch indecencies as are a leffening to his reputation, and is itself looked upon as a weakness in the greatest characters.
In the next place, fame is eafily loft, and as difficult to be preferved as it was at first to be acquired. But this I fhall make the fubject of a following paper.
mankind. All thofe who made their entrance into the world with the fame advantages, and were once looked on as his equals, are apt to think the fame of his merits a reflexion on their own indeforts; and will therefore take care to reproach him with the fcandal of fome paft action, or derogate from the worth of the present, that they may ftill keep him on the fame level with themfelves. The like kind of confideration often ftirs up the envy of fuch as were once his fuperiors, who think it a detraction from their merit to fee another get ground upon them and overtake them in the purfits of glory; and will therefore endeavour to fink his reputation, that they may the better preferve their own. Thofe who were once his equals envy and defame him, because they now fee him their fuperior; and those who were once his fupeperiors, because they looked upon him as their equal.
But farther, a man whofe extraordinary reputation thus lifts him up to the notice and obfervation of mankind, draws a multitude of eyes upon him that will narrowly infpect every part of him, confider him nicely in all views, and not be a little pleafed when they have taken him in the worst and most difadvantageous light. There are many who find a pleasure in contradicting the common reports of fame, and in spreading abroad the weakneffes of an exalted character. They publish their ill-natured difcoveries with a fecret pride, and applaud themfelves for the fingularity of their judgment which has fearched deeper than others, detected what the reft of the world have overlooked, and found a flaw in what the generality of mankind admired. Others there are, who proclaim the errors and infirmities of a great man with an inward fatisfaction and complacency, if they difcover none of the like errors and infirmities in themselves; for while they are expofing another's weakneffes, they are tacitly aiming at their own commendations, who are not fubject to the like infirmities, and are apt to be tranfported with a fecret kind of vanity to fee themselves fuperior in fome refpects to one of a fublime and celebrated reputation. Nay, it very often happens, that none are more industrious in publishing the blemishes of an extraordinary reputation, than fuch as lie open to the fame cenfures in their own characters, as either hoping to excufe their own defects by the authority of fo high an example, or raifing an imaginary applaufe to themfelves for resembling a perfon of an exalted reputation, though in the blameable parts of his character. If all these feret fprings of detraction fail, yet very often a vain oftentation of wit fets a man on attacking an eftablished name, and facrificing it to the mirth and laughter of thofe about him. A fatire or a libel en one of the common ftamp, never meets with that reception and approbation among its readers as what is aimed at a perfon whofe merit places him upon an eminence, and gives him more confpicuous figure among men. Whether it be that we think it fhews greater art to expofe and turn to ridicule a man whofe character fees fo improper a fubject for it, or that we are pleafed by Tome implicit kind of revenge to fee him taken down and humbled in his reputation, and in fome measure reduced to our own rank, who had fo far raifed himself above us in the reports and opinions
actions of a great man, who is not, always, the best prepared for fo narrow an inspection. we may generally obferve, that our admiration of a famous man leffens upon our nearer acquaintance with him: and that we feldom hear the defcription of a celebrated perfon, without a catalogue of fome notorious weakneffes and infirmities. The reafon may be, becaufe any little flip is more confpicuous and obfervable in his conduct than in another's, as it is not of a piece with the rest of his character, or because it is impoffible for a man at the fame time to be attentive to the more important part of his life, and to keep a watchful eye over all the inconfiderable circumftances of his behaviour and converfation; or because, as we have before obferved, the fame temper of mind which inclines us to a defire of fame, naturally betrays us into fuch flips and unwearineffes as are not incident to men of a contrary difpofition.
After all it must be confeffed, that a noble and triumphant merit often breaks through and diffipates thefe little fpots and fullies in its reputation; but if by a mistaken purfuit after fame, or through human infirmity, any falfe ftep be made in the more momentous concerns of life, the whole fcheme of ambitious defigns is broken and difappointed. The fmaller ftains and blemishes may die away and disappear amidst the brightness that furrounds them; but a blot of a deeper nature cafts a fhade on all the other beauties, and darkens the whole character. How difficult therefore is it to preferve a great name, when he that has acquired it is fo obnoxious to fuch little weakneffes and infirmities that are no fmall diminution to it when discovered, especially when they are fɔ induftriously proclaimed, and aggravated by fuch as were once his fuperiors or equals; by fuch as would fet to fhew their judgment or their wit, and by fuch as are guilty or innocent of the fame flips or mifconducts in their own behaviour'
But were there none of thefe difpofitions in others to cenfure a famous man, nor any such mifcarriages in himfelf, yet would he meet with no small trouble in keeping up his reputation in all its height and fplendor. There must be always a noble train of actions to preferve his fame in life and motion. For when it is once at a stand, it naturally flags and languishes. Admiration is a very fhort-lived paffion, that immediately decays upon growing familiar with its object, unless it be ftill fed with fresh difcoveries, and kept alive by a new perpetual fucceffion of miracles rifing up to its view. And even the greatest actions of a celebrated perfon labour under this difadvantage, that however furprising and extraordinary thefe may be, they are no more than what are expected from him; but on the contrary, if they fall any thing below the opinion that is conceived of him, tho' they might raife the reputation of another, they are a diminution to his.
One would think there fhould be fomething wonderfully pleafing in the poffeffion of fame, that, notwithstanding all thefe mortifying confiderations, can engage a man in fo defperate a purfuit; and yet if we confider the little happiness that attends a great character, and the multitude of difquietudes to which the defire of it fubje& an ambitious mind, one would be ftill the more furprised to fee fo many reftlefs candidates for glory.
Thus we fee how many dark and intricate motives there are to detraction and defamation, and how many malicious fpies are fearching into the
Ambition raifes a fecret tumult in the foul, it inflames the mind, and puts it into a violent hurry of thought; it is fill reaching after an empty
empty imaginary good, that has not in it the
No 257. TUESDAY,
-Οὐχ ̓ εὕδει Διὸς
there, who have got as much fame as they defired, Οφθαλμὸς ἐ[γὺς δ ̓ ἔτι καὶ παρὼν πόνῳ.
Incert. ex. Stob.
and whose thirst after it has not been as eager in
which gives me a greater idea of him, than a fay-of fo great extent as that of fame, I have
treated it in a particular order and method. I have
How the purfuit after fame may hinder us in the attainment of this great end, I fhall leave the reader to collect from the three following confiderations.
Nor is fame only unfatisfying in itfelf, but the defire of it lays us open to many accidental troubles which thofe are free from who have not fuch a tender regard for it. How often is the ambitious man caft down and difappointed, if he receives no praife where he expected it? Náy how often is he mortified with the very praises he receives, if they do not rife fo high as he thinks they ought, which they feldom do unless increased by flattery, fince few men have fo good an opinion of us as we have of ourselves? But if the ambitious man can be fo much grieved even with praise itself, how will he be able to bear up under fcandal and defamation? For the fame temper of mind which makes him defire fame, makes him hate reproach. If he can be tranfported with the extraordinary praises of men, he will be as much dejected by their cenfures. How little therefore is the happiness of an ambitious man, who gives every one a dominion over it, who thus fubjects himself to the good or ill fpeeches of others, and puts it in the power of every malicious tongue to throw him into a fit of melancholy, and destroy his natural rest and repofe of mind? especially when we confider that the world is more apt to cenfure than applaud, and himself fuller of imperfections than virtues.
We may farther obferve, that such a man will be more grieved for the lofs of fame, than he could have been pleased with the enjoyment of it. For though the presence of this imaginary good cannot make us happy, the abfence of it may make us miferable; because in the enjoyment of an object we only find that share of pleasure which it is capable of giving us, but in the lofs of it we do not proportion our grief to the real value it bears, but to the value our fancies and imaginations fet upon it.
So inconfiderable is the fatisfaction that fame brings along with it, and fo great the difquietudes to which it makes us liable. The defire of it ftirs up very uneafy motions in the mind, and is rather inflamed than satisfied by the prefence of the thing
defired. The enjoyment of it brings but very little pleafure, though the lofs or want of it be very fenfible and afflicting; and even this little happinefs is fo very precarious, that it wholly depends on the will of others. We are not only tortured by the reproaches which are offered us, but are difappointed by the filence of men when it is unexpected; and humbled even by their praises.
No flumber feals the eye of Providence,
First, Because the ftrong defire of fame breeds feveral vicious habits in the mind.
Secondly, Because many of thofe actions, which are apt to procure fame, are not in their nature conducive to this our ultimate happiness.
Thirdly, Becaufe if we fhould allow the fame actions to be the proper inftruments, both of acquiring fame, and of procuring this happiness, they would nevertheless fail in the attainment of this laft end, if they proceeded from a defire of the first.
These three propofitions are felf-evident to thofe who are verfed in fpeculations of morality, For which reafon I fhall not enlarge upon them, but proceed to a point of the fame nature, which may open to us a more uncommog field of fpcculation.
From what has been already obferved, I think we may make a natural conclufion, that it is the greatest folly to feek the praife or approbation of any being, befides the Supreme, and that for thefe two reafons; becaufe no other being can make a right judgment of us, and efteem us according to our merits; and becaufe we can procure no confiderable benefit or advantage from the esteem and approbation of any other being.
In the first place, no other being can make a right judgment of us, and esteem us according to our merits. Created beings fee nothing but our outfide, and can therefore only frame a judgment of us from our exterior actions and behaviour; but
from thofe weak stirrings and tendencies of the will which have not yet formed themselves into regular purposes and defigns, to the last intire finifhing and confummation of a good habit. He beholds the firft imperfect rudiments of a virtue in the foul, and keeps a watchful eye over it in all its progrefs, until it has received every grace it is capable of, and appears in its full beauty and perfection. Thus we fee that none but the fupreme Being can efteem us according to our proper merits, fince all others must judge of us from our outward actions; which can never give them a juft estimate of us, fince there are many perfections of a man which are not capable of appearing in actions; many which, allowing no natural incapacity of fhewing themselves, want an opportunity of doing it; or, fhould they all meet with an opportunity of appearing by actions, yet thofe actions may be mifinterpreted, and applied to wrong principles or though they plainly difcovered the principles from whence they proceeded, they could never fhew the degree, ftrength, and perfection of those principles.
And as the fupreme Being is the only proper judge of our perfections, fo is he the only fit rewarder of them. This is a confideration that comes home to our intereft, as the other adapts itself to our ambition. And what could the most aspiring, or the most felfish man defire more, were he to form the notion of a being to whom he would recommend himself, than fuch a knowledge as can difcover the leaft appearance of perfection in him, and fuch a goodness as will proportion a reward to it.
how unfit thefe are to give us a right notion of each other's perfections, may appear from feveral confiderations. There are many virtues, which in their own nature are incapable of any outward reprefentation: many filent perfections in the foul of a good man, which are great ornaments to human nature, but not able to difcover themfelves to the knowledge of others; they are tranfacted in private, without noife or fhow, and are only vifible to the great fearcher of hearts. What actions can exprefs the intire purity of thought which refines and fanctifies a virtuous man? That fecret reit and contentednefs of mind, which gives him a perfect enjoyment of his prefent condition? that inward pleasure and complacency which he feels in doing good? that delight and fatisfaction which he takes in the profperity and happiness of another? thefe and the like virtues are the hidden beauties of a foul, the fecret graces which cannot be difcovered by a mortal eye, but make the foul lovely and precious in his fight, from whom no fecrets are concealed. Again, there are many virtues which want an opportunity of exerting and fhewing themfelves in actions. Every virtue requires time and place, a proper object and a fit conjuncture of circumitances, for the due exercife of it. A ftate of poverty obfcures all the virtues of liberality and munificence. The patience and fortitude of a martyr or confeffor lie concealed in the flourishing times of Chriftianity. Some virtues are only feen in affliction, and fome in profperity; fome in a private, and others in a public capacity. But the great Sovereign of the world beholds every perfection in its obfcurity, and not only fees what we do, but what we would do. He views our behaviour in every concurrence of affairs, and fees us engaged in all the poffibilities of action. He difcovers the martyr and confeffor without the trial of flames ard tortures, and will hereafter intitle many to the reward of actions, which they had never the opportunity of performing. Another reason why men cannot form a right judgment of us is, because the fame actions may be aimed at different ends, and arife from quite contrary principles. Actions are of fo mixt a nature and fo full of circumstances, that as men pry into them more or lefs, or obferve fome parts more than others, they take different hints, and put contrary interpretations on them; fo that the fame actions may represent a man as hypocritical and defigning N° 258. WEDNESDAY, DECEM. 26. to one, which make him appear a faint or hero to another. He therefore who looks upon the foul through its outward actions, often fees it through a deceitful medium, which is to difcolour and
pervert the object; fo that on this account alfo, P
He is the only proper judge of our perfections, who does not guess at the fincerity of our intentions from the goodness of our actions, but weighs the goodness of our actions by the fincerity of our intentions.
But further; it is impoffible for outward actions to represent the perfections of the foul, becaufe they can never fhew the ftrength of thofe principles from whence they proceed. They are not adequate expreffions of our virtues, and can only fhew us what habits are in the foul, without difcovering the degree and pertection of fuch habits. They are at beft but weak refemblances of our intentions, faint and imperfect copies that may acquaint us with the general defign, but,can never exprefs the beauty and life of the original. But the great Judge of all the earth knows every different ftate and degree of human improvement,
Let the ambitious man therefore turn all his defire of fame this way; and that he, may propofe to himself a fame worthy of his ambition, let him confider that if he employs his abilities to the best advantage, the time will come when the fupreme Governor of the world, the great Judge of mankind, who fees every degree of perfection in others, and pofleffes all poflible perfection in himself, shall proclaim his worth before men and angels, and pronounce to him in the prefence of the whole creation that best and most fignificant of applaufes, "Well done, thou good and falthful fervant, enter thou into thy Mafter's joy." с
Divide & impera.
Divide and rule.
LEASURE and recreation of one kind or other are abfolutely neceffary to relieve our minds and bodies from too conftant attention and labour: where therefore public diversions are tolerated, it behoves perfons of diftinction, with their power and example, to prefide over them in fuch a manner as to check any thing that tends to the corruption of manners, or which is too mean or trivial for the entermainment of reafonable creatures. As to the diverfions of this kind in this town, we owe them to the arts of poetry and mufic; my own private opinion, with relation to fuch recreations, I have heretofore given with all the franknefs imaginable; what concerns thofe arts at prefent the reader fhall have from my correfpondents. The first of the letters with which I acquit myself for this day, is written by one who proposes to improve our entertainments of dramatic poetry, and the other comes from three perfons, who, as foon as named,
named, will be thought capable of advancing the lives; and in contempt of the practice of per-
• Mr. Spectator.
AM confiderably obliged to you for your
no tradesman a farthing at the end of the week Sir, all I propofe is the public good; for no one can imagine I fhall ever get a private fhilling by it: therefore I hope you will recommend this matter in one of your this week's papers, and defire when my house opens you 'will accept the liberty of it for the trouble you have received from,
P. S. I have affurances that the trunk-maker will declare for us.
• Mr. Spectator,
E whofe names are fubfcribed, think you the propereft perfon to fignify 'what we have to offer the town in behalf of ourfelves, and the art which we profefs, mufic. 'We conceive hopes of your favour from the fpeculations on the mistakes which the town run into with regard to their pleasure of this 'kind; and believing your method of judging is, that you confider mufic only valuable, as it is agreeable to, and heightens the purpose of poetry, we consent that that is not only the true way of relishing, that pleasure, but alfo that without it a compofure of mufic is the fame thing as a poem, where all the rules of 'poetical numbers are obferved, though the words have no fenfe or meaning; to fay it 'fhorter, mere mufical founds are in our art no other than nonfenfe verfes are in poetry. Mu'fic therefore is to aggravate what is intended by poetry; it must always have fome paffion or fentiment to exprefs, or elfe violins, voices, or any other organs of found, afford an enter tainment very little above the rattles of chil'dren. It was from this opinion of the matter, that when Mr. Clayton had finished his ftudies in Italy, and brought over the opera of Arfinöe, that Mr. Haym and Mr. Dieupart, who had the honour to be well known and received among the nobility and gentry, were zealously inclined to affift, by their folicitations, in in'troducing fo elegant an entertainment as the Italian mufic grafted upon English poetry. For this end Mr. Dieupart and Mr. Haym, according to their feveral opportunities, promoted the 'introduction of Arfinöe, and did it to the best 'advantage fo great a novelty would allow. It is not proper to trouble you with particulars of the juft complaints we all of us have to make; but fo it is, that without regard to our obliging 'pains, we are all equally fet afide in the prefent
Every man that goes to a play is not obliged
Sir, Your humble fervant,
opera. Our application therefore to you is only to infert this letter in your papers, that the town may know we have all three joined together to make entertainments of mufic for the 'future at Mr. Clayton's houfe in York-buildings. What we promife ourselves, is, to make a fubfcription of two guineas, for eight times; and that the entertainment, with the names of the authors of the poetry, may be printed, to be fold in the house, with an account of the feveral authors of the vocal as well as the inftru'mental music for each night; the money to be 'paid at the receipt of the tickets, at Mr. Charles Lillie's. It will, we hope, Sir, be easily allowed, that we are capable undertaking to exhibit by our joint force and different qualifications