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be lasting satisfactions, when the fine ladies,
"Your most humble Servant,
"DEAR MR. SPECTATOR,
"Your most humble Servant."
his own incapacities makes him despair 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 interest or convenience; or that Providence, in the very frame of his soul, would not subject him to such a passion as would be useless to the world, and a torment to himself.
Were not this desire of fame very strong, the difficulty of obtaining it, and the danger of losing it when obtained, would be sufficient to deter a man from so vain a pursuit.
How few are there who are furnished with abilities sufficient to recommend their actions to the admiration of the world, and to distinguish themselves from the rest of mankind! Providence for the most part sets us upon a level, and observes a kind of proportion in its dispensations towards us. If it renders us perfect in one accomplishment, it generally leaves us defective in another, and seems careful rather of preserving every person from being mean and deficient in his qualifications, than of making any single one eminent or extraordinary.
Among those who are the most richly endowed by nature, and accomplished by their own industry, how few are there whose virtues are not obscured
I am sorry I cannot answer this impatient gentle-by the ignorance, prejudice, or envy of their beman, but by another question.
holders! Some men cannot discern between a noble and a mean action. Others are apt to attribute them to some false end or intention; and others
"Would you marry to please other people, or purposely misrepresent, or put a wrong interpretayourself?"-T.
No. 255.] SATURDAY, DECEMBER 22, 1711.
Know there are rhymes, which (fresh and fresh apply'd)
THE Soul, considered abstractedly from its passions, is of a remiss and sedentary nature, slow in its resolves, and languishing in its executions. The use, therefore, of the passions is to stir it up, and to put it upon action, to awaken the understanding, to enforce the will, and to make the whole man more vigorous and attentive in the prosecution of his designs. As this is the end of the passions in general, so it is particularly of ambition, which pashes the soul to such actions as are apt to procure honour and reputation to the actor. But if we carry our reflections higher, we may discover further ends of Providence in implanting this passion in mankind.
tion on them. But the more to enforce this consideration, we may observe, that those are generally most unsuccessful in their pursuit after fame, who are most desirous of obtaining it. It is Sallust's remark upon Cato, that the less he coveted glory, the more he acquired it.*
Men take an ill-natured pleasure in crossing our inclinations, and disappointing us in what our hearts are most set upon. When therefore they have discovered the passionate desire of fame in the ambitious man (as no temper of mind is more apt to show itself), they become sparing and reserved in their commendations, they envy him the satisfaction of an applause, and look on their praises rather as a kindness done to his person, than as a tribute paid to his merit. Others who are free from this natural perverseness of temper, grow wary in their praises of one who sets too great a value on them, lest they should raise him too high in his own imagination, and by consequence remove him to a greater distance from themselves.
But, further, this desire of fame naturally betrays the ambitious man into such indecencies as are lessening to his reputation. He is still afraid lest It was necessary for the world, that arts should be any of his actions should be thrown away in private, invented and improved, books written and trans- lest his deserts should be concealed from the notice mitted to posterity, nations conquered and civilized, of the world, or receive any disadvantage from the Now, since the proper and genuine motives to reports which others make of them. This often these, and the like great actions, would only influ- sets them on empty boasts and ostentations of ence virtuous minds; there would be but small im- himself, and betrays him into vain fantastical reprovements in the world, were there not some com-citals of his own performances. His discourse gemon principle of action working equally with all men: and such a principle is ambition, or a desire of fame, by which great endowments are not suffered to lie idle and useless to the public, and many vicious men are overreached, as it were, and engaged contrary to their natural inclinations, in a glorious and laudable course of action. For we may further observe, that men of the greatest abiities are most fired with ambition; and that, on the contrary, mean and narrow minds are the least actuated by it: whether it be that a man's sense of SPECTATOR-Nos. 37 & 38.
nerally leans one way, and, whatever is the subject of it, tends obliquely either to the detracting from others, or to the extolling of himself. Vanity is the natural weakness of an ambitious man, which exposes him to the secret scorn and derision of those he converses with, and ruins the character he is so industrious to advance by it. For though his actions are never so glorious, they lose their lustre when they are drawn at large, and set to show by his own
Sal. Bel. Catil. c. 49.
hand; and as the world is more apt to find fault than to commend, the boast will probably be censured, when the great action that occasioned it is forgotten.
an exalted character. They publish their ill-natured discoveries with a secret pride, and applaud themselves for the singularity of their judgment, which has searched deeper than others, detected what the rest of the world have overlooked, and found a flaw
Besides, this very desire of fame is looked on as a meanness and imperfection in the greatest charac-in what the generality of mankind admire Others ter. A solid and substantial greatness of soul looks down with a generous neglect on the censures and applauses of the multitude, and places a man beyond the little noise and strife of tongues. Accordingly, we find in ourselves a secret awe and veneration for the character of one who moves above us in a regular and illustrious 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 usual for us, when we would take off from the fame and reputation of an action, to ascribe it to vain glory and a desire of fame in the actor. Nor is this common judgment and opinion of mankind ill founded: for certainly it denotes no great bravery of mind, to be worked up to any noble action by so selfish a motive, and to do that out of a desire of fame, which we could not be prompted to by a dis-selves, for resembling a person of an exalted repainterested love to mankind, or by a generous passion for the glory of him who made us.
there are who proclaim the errors and infirmities of a great man with an inward satisfaction and complacency, if they discover none of the like errors and infirmities in themselves; for while they are exposing another's weaknesses, they are tacitly aiming at their own commendations, who are not subject to the like infirmities, and are apt to be transported with a secret kind of vanity, to see themselves superior, in some respects, to one of a sublime and celebrated reputation. Nay, it very often happens, that none are more industrious in publishing the blemishes of an extraordinary reputation, than such as lie open to the same censures in their own characters, as either hoping to excuse their own defects by the authority of so high an example, or to raise an imaginary applause to them
Thus is fame a thing difficult to be obtained by all, but particularly by those who thirst after it, since most men have so much either of ill-nature, or of wariness, as not to gratify or soothe the vanity of the ambitious man; and since this very thirst after fame naturally betrays him into such indecencies as are a lessening to his reputation, and is itself looked upon as a weakness in the greatest characters.
In the next place, fame is easily lost, and as difficult to be preserved as it was at first to be acquired. But this I shall make the subject of a following paper.-C.
No. 256.] MONDAY, DECEMBER 24, 1711.
tation, though in the blameable parts of his character. If all these secret springs of detraction fail, yet very often a vain ostentation of wit sets a man on attacking an established name, and sacrificing it to the mirth and laughter of those about him. A satire or a libel on one of the common stamp, never meets with that reception and approbation among its readers, as what is aimed at a person whose merit places him upon an eminence, and gives him a more conspicuous figure among men. Whether it be, that we think it shows greater art to expose and turn to ridicule a man whose character seems so improper a subject for it, or that we are pleased, by some implicit kind of revenge, to see him taken down and humbled in his reputation, and in some measure reduced to our own rank, who had so far raised himself above us, in the reports and opinions of mankind.
A sad oppression, to be borne with pain.-HESIOD Thus we see how many dark and intricate motives THERE are many passions and tempers of mind there are to detraction and defamation, and how which naturally dispose us to depress and vilify the many malicious spies are searching into the actions merit of one rising in the esteem of mankind. All of a great man, who is not always the best prethose who made their entrance into the world with pared for so narrow an inspection. For we may the same advantages, and were once looked on as generally observe, that our admiration of a famous his equals, are apt to think the fame of his merits a man lessens upon our nearer acquaintance with reflection on their own indeserts; and will therefore him and that we seldom hear the description of a take care to reproach him with the scandal of some celebrated person, without a catalogue of some notopast action, or derogate from the worth of the pre-rious weaknesses and infirmities. The reason may sent, that they may still keep him on the same level with themselves. The like kind of consideration often stirs up the envy of such as were once his superiors, who think it a detraction from their merit to see another get ground upon them, and overtake them in the pursuits of glory; and will therefore endeavour to sink his reputation, that they may the better preserve their own. Those who were once his equals envy and defame him, because they now see him their superior; and those who were once his superiors, because they look upon him as their equal.
But further, a man whose extraordinary reputa. tion thus lifts him up to the notice and observation of mankind, draws a multitude of eyes upon him, that will narrowly inspect every part of him, consider him nicely in all views, and not be a little pleased when they have taken him in the worst and most disadvantageous light. There are many who find a pleasure in contradicting the common reports of fame, and in spreading abroad the weaknesses of
be, because any little slip is more conspicuous and observable in his conduct than in another's, as it is not of a piece with the rest of his character; or be cause it is impossible for a man at the same time to be attentive to the more important part of his life, and to keep a watchful eye over all the inconsiderable circumstances of his behaviour and conversation; or because, as we have before observed, the same temper of mind which inclines us to a desire of fame, naturally betrays us into such slips and unwarinesses, as are not incident to men of a contrary disposition.
After all, it must be confessed, that a noble and triumphant merit often breaks through and dissipates these little spots and sullies in its reputation; but if by a mistaken pursuit after fame, or through human infirmity, any false step be made in the more momentous concerns of life, the whole scheme of ambitious designs is broken and disappointed. The smaller stains and blemishes may die away, and disappear amidst the brightness that surrounde
faction and acquiescence in their present enjoy. ments of it.
them but a blot of a deeper nature casts a shade on all the other beauties, and darkens the whole character. How difficult, therefore, is it to preserve a great name, when he that has acquired it is so sire of it lays us open to many accidental troubles Nor is fame only unsatisfying in itself, but the deobnoxious to such little weaknesses and infirmities which those are free from, who have no such a tender as are no small diminution to it when discovered; regard for it. How often is the ambitious man cast. especially when they are so industriously pro-down and disappointed, if he receives no praise. claimed, and aggravated by such as were once his where he expected it? Nay, how often is he mortisuperiors or equals; by such as would set to show fied with the very praises he receives, if they do not their judgment, or their wit, and by such as are rise so high as he thinks they ought; which they guilty, or innocent of the same slips or misconducts seldom do unless increased by flattery, since few in their own behaviour... men have so good an opinion of us as we have of ourselves? But if the ambitious man can be so much grieved even with praise itself, how will he be able to bear up under scandal and defamation? for the same temper of mind which makes him desire fame makes him hate reproach. If he can be transported with the extraordinary praises of men, he will be as much dejected by their censures. therefore, is the happiness of an ambitious man, who How little, gives every one a dominion over it, who thus subjects himself to the good or ill speeches 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 repose of mind; especially when we consider that the world is more apt to censure than applaud, and himself fuller of imperfections than virtues.
But were there none of these dispositions in others to censure a famous man, nor any such miscarriages in himself, yet would he meet with no small trouble in keeping up his reputation, in all its height and splendour. There must be always a noble train of actions to preserve his fame in life and motion. For when it is once at a stand, it naturally flags and languishes., Admiration is a very short-lived passion, that immediately decays upon growing familiar with its object, unless it be still fed with fresh discoveries, and kept alive by a new perpetual succession of miracles rising up to its view. And even the greatest actions of a celebrated person labour under this disadvantage, that, however surprising and extraordinary they may be, they are no more than what are expected from him; but, on the contrary, they fall any thing below the opinion that is conceived of him, though they might raise the reputation of another, they are a diminution to his.
One would think there should be something wonderfully pleasing in the possession of fame, that, notwithstanding all these mortifying considerations, can engage a man in so desperate a pursuit; and yet if we consider the little happiness that attends a great character, and the multitude of disquietudes to which the desire of it subjects an ambitious mind, one would be still the more surprised to see so many restless candidates for glory.
We may further observe, that such a man will be more grieved for the loss of fame, than he could have been pleased with the enjoyment of it. For make us happy, the absence of it may make us mithough the presence of this imaginary good cannot serable: because in the enjoyment of an object we only find that share of pleasure which it is capable of giving us, but in the loss of it we do not proportion our grief to the real value it bears, but to the value our fancies and imaginations set upon it.
So inconsiderable is the satisfaction that fame
brings along with it, and so great the disquietudes to
No. 257.] SATURDAY, DECEMBER 25, 1711.
Ambition raises a secret tumult in the soul; it infames the mind, and puts it into a violent hurry of thought. It is still reaching after an empty, imaginary good, that has not in it the power to abate or satisfy it. Most other things we long for, can allay the cravings of their proper sense, and for a while set the appetite at rest; but fame is a good so wholly foreign to our natures, that we have no faculty in the soul adapted to it, nor any organ in the body to relish it; an object of desire, placed out of the possibility of fruition. It may indeed fill the mind for a while with a giddy kind of pleasure, but it is such a pleasure as makes a man restless and uneasy under it; and which does not much satisfy the present thirst, as it excites fresh desires, and sets the soul on new enterprises. For how few ambitious men are Present to every action we commence.--HOBMUS. there, who have got as much fame as they desired, and whose thirst after it has not been as eager in the so great extent as that of fame, I have treated it in a THAT I might not lose myself upon a subject of very height of their reputation, as it was before they particular order and method. I have first of all conbecame known and eminent among men ? not any circumstance in Cæsar's character which planted in our mind such a principle of action. I There is sidered the reasons why Providence may have imgives me a greater idea of him, than a saying which have in the next place shown from many consideCicero tells us he frequently made use of in private rations, first, that fame is a thing difficult to be obconversation, "That he was satisfied with his share tained, and easily to be lost; secondly, that it brings of life and fame." "Se satis vel ad naturam, vel the ambitious man very little happiness, but subjects ad gloriam virisse." Many indeed have given over him to much uneasiness and dissatisfaction. I shall their pursuits after fame, but that has proceeded in the last place show, that it hinders us from obeither from the disappointments they have met in it, taining an end which we have abilities to acquire, or from their experience of the little pleasure which and which is accompanied by fulness of satisfaction. attends it, or from the better informations or natural I need not tell my reader, that I mean by this end, coldness of old age; but seldom from a full satis-that happiness which is reserved for us in another
world, which every one has abilities to procure, and which will bring along with it fulness of joy, and pleasures for evermore."
How the pursuit after fame may hinder us in the attainment of this great end, I shall leave the reader to collect from the three following considerations: First, Because the strong desire of fame breeds several vicious habits in the mind.
Secondly, Because many of those actions, which are apt to procure fame, are not in their nature conducive to this our ultimate happiness.
Thirdly, Because if we should allow the same actions to be the proper instruments, both of acquiring fame, and of procuring this happiness, they would nevertheless fail in the attainment of this last end, if they proceeded from a desire of the first.
These three propositions are self-evident to those who are versed in speculations of morality. For which reason I shall not enlarge upon them, but proceed to a point of the same nature, which may open to us a more uncommon field of speculation.
From what has been already observed, I think we may make a natural conclusion, that it is the greatest folly to seek the praise or approbation of any being, except the Supreme, and that for these two reasons; because no other being can make a right judgment of us, and esteem us according to our merits; and because we can procure no considerable 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 see nothing but our outside, and can therefore only frame a judgment of us from our exterior actions and behaviour; but how unfit these are to give us a right notion of each other's perfections, may appear from several considerations. There are many virtues, which in their own nature are incapable of any outward representation; many silent perfections in the soul of a good man, which are great ornaments to human nature, but not able to discover themselves to the knowledge of others; they are transacted in private without noise or show, and are only visible to the great Searcher of hearts. What actions can express the entire purity of thought which refines and sanctifies a virtuous man? That secret rest and contentedness of mind, which gives him a perfect enjoyment of his present condition? That inward pleasure and complacency which he feels in doing good? That delight and satisfaction which he takes in the prosperity and happiness of another? These and the like virtues are the hidden beauties of a soul, the secret graces which cannot be discovered by a mortal eye, but make the soul lovely and precious in his sight from whom no secrets are concealed. Again, there are many virtues which want an opportunity of exerting and showing themselves in actions. Every virtue requires time and place, a proper object and a fit conjuncture of circumstances, for the due exercise of it. A state of poverty obscures all the virtues of liberality and munificence. The patience and fortitude of a martyr and confessor lie concealed in the flourishing times of Christianity. Some virtues are only seen in affliction, and some in prosperity; some in a private, and others in a public capacity.. But the great Sovereign of the world beholds every perfection in its obscurity, and not only sees what we do, but what we would do. He views our behaviour in every concurrence of affairs, and sees us engaged in all the possibilities of action. He discovers the martyr and confessor without the trial of
flames and tortures, and will hereafter entitle 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 same actions may be aimed at different ends, and arise from quite contrary principles. Actions are of so mixed a nature, and so full of circumstances, that as men pry into them more or less, or observe some parts more than others, they take different hints, and put contrary interpretations on them; so that the same actions may represent a man as hypocritical and designing to one, which make him appear a saint or hero to another. He, therefore, who looks upon the soul through its outward actions, often sees it through a deceitful medium, which is apt to discolour and pervert the object; so that, on this account also, he is the only proper judge of our perfections, who does not guess at the sincerity of our intentions from the goodness of our actions, but weighs the goodness of our actions by the sincerity of our intentions.
But further, it is impossible for outward actions to represent the perfections of the soul, because they can never show the strength of those principles from whence they proceed. They are not adequate expressions of our virtues, and can only show us what habits are in the soul, without discovering the degree and perfection of such habits. They are at best but weak resemblances of our intentions, faint and imperfect, that may acquaint us with the general design, but can never express the beauty and life of the original. But the great Judge of all the earth knows every different state and degree of human improvement, from those weak stirrings and tendencies of the will which have not yet formed themselves into regular purposes and designs, to the last entire finishing and consummation of a good habit. He beholds the first imperfect rudiments of a virtue in the soul, and keeps a watchful eye over it in all its progress, until it has received every grace it is capable of, and appears in its full beauty and perfection. Thus we see, that none but the Supreme Being can esteem us according to our proper merits, since all others must judge of us from our outward actions; which can never give them a just estimate of us, since there are many perfections of a man which are not capable of appearing in actions; many which, allowing no natural incapacity of showing themselves, want an opportunity of doing it; or should they all meet with an opportunity of appearing by actions, yet those actions may be misinterpreted, and applied to wrong principles: or, though they plainly discovered the principles from whence they proceeded, they could never show the degree, strength, and perfection of those principles.
And as the Supreme Being is the only proper judge of our perfections, so he is the only fit rewarder of them. This is a consideration that comes home to our interest, as the other adapts itself to our ambition. And what could the most aspiring, of the most selfish man desire more, were he to form the notion of a Being to whom he would recommend himself, than such a knowledge as can discover the least appearance of perfection in him, and such a goodness as will proportion a reward to it?
Let the ambitious man, therefore, turn all his desire of fame this way; and, that he may propose to himself a fame worthy of his ambition, let him consider, that if he employs his abilities to the best advantage, the time will come when the Supreme Governor of the world, the great Judge of mankind, who sees every degree of perfection in others, and
possesses all possible perfection in himself, shall proclaim his worth before men and angeis, and pronounce to him in the presence of the whole creation that best and most significant of applause, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant, enter thou into thy Master's joy.”—C.
amazement I see so wonderful a genius laid aside, and the late slaves of the stage now become its masters; dunces that will be sure to suppress all theatrical entertainments and activities that they are not able themselves to shine in!
"Every man that goes to a play is not obliged to have either wit or understanding; and I insist upon
No. 258.] WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 26, 1711. it, that all who go there should see something which
Divide et impera
Divide and rule.
PLEASURE and recreation of one kind or other are absolutely necessary to relieve our minds and bodies from too constant attention and labour: where therefore public diversions are tolerated, it behoves persons of distinction, with their power and example, to preside over them in such a manner as to check any thing that tends to the corruption of manners, or which is too mean or trivial for the entertainment of reasonable creatures. As to the diversions of this kind in this town, we owe them to the arts of poetry and music. My own private opinion, with relation to such recreations, I have heretofore given with all the frankness imaginable; what concerns those arts at present the reader shall have from my correspondents. 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 persons, who, as soon as named, will be thought capable of advancing the present state of music.
"I am considerably obliged to you for your speedy publication of my last in yours of the 18th instant, and am in no small hopes of being settled in the post of Comptroller of the Cries. Of all the objections I have hearkened after in public coffeehouses, there is but one that seems to carry any weight with it, viz. That such a post would come too near the nature of a monopoly. Now, Sir, because I would have all sorts of people made easy, and being willing to have more strings than one to my bow; in case that a comptroller should fail me, I have since formed another project, which being grounded on the dividing of a present monopoly, I hope will give the public an equivalent to their full content. You know, Sir, it is allowed, that the business of the stage is, as the Latin has it, jucunda et idonea dicere vita. Now, there being but one dramatic theatre licensed for the delight and profit of this extensive metropolis, I do humbly propose, for the convenience of such of its inhabitants as are too distant from Covent-garden, that another theatre of ease may be erected in some spacious part of the city; and that the direction thereof may be made a franchise in fee to me and my heirs for ever. And that the town may have no jealousy of my ever coming into a union with the set of actors now in being, I do further propose to constitute for my deputy my near kinsman and adventurer, Kit Crotchet, whose long experience and improvements in those affairs need no recommendation. It was obvious to every spectator, what a quite different foot the stage was upon during his government; and had he not been bolted out of his trapdoors, his garrison might have held out for ever; he having by long pains and perseverance arrived at the art of making his army fight without pay or provisions. I must confess it is with a melancholy
• Christopher Rich.
may improve them in a way of which they are capable. In short, Sir, I would have something done, as well as said, on the stage. A man may have an active body, though he has not a quick conception; for the imitation therefore of such as are, as I may so speak, corporeal wits, or nimble fellows, I would fain ask any of the present mismanagers, why should not rope-dancers, vaulters, tumblers, ladderwalkers, and posture-masters appear again on our stage? After such a representation, a five-bar gate would be leaped with a better grace next time any of the audience went a hunting. Sir, these things cry aloud for reformation, and fall properly under the province of Spectator-general; but how indeed should it be otherwise, while fellows (that for twenty years together were never paid but as their master was in the humour) now presume to pay others more than ever they had in their lives; and in contempt of the practice of persons of condition, have the insolence to owe no tradesman a farthing at the end of the week. Sir, all I propose is the public good; for no one can imagine I shall ever get a private shilling by it; therefore I hope you will recommend this matter in one of your this week's papers, and desire, when my house opens, you will accept the liberty of it for the trouble you have received from,
"We whose names are subscribed, think you the properest person to signify what we have to offer the town in behalf of ourselves and the art which we profess, music. We conceive hopes of your favour from the speculations 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 consider music only valuable, as it is agreeable to, and heightens the purpose of poetry, we consent that it is not only the true way of relishing that pleasure, but also that without it a composure of music is the same thing as a poem, where all the rules of poetical numbers are observed, though the words have no sense or meaning; to say it shorter, mere musical sounds are in our art no other than nonsense verses are in poetry. Music, therefore, is to aggravate what is intended by poetry; it must always have some passion or sentiment to express, or else violins, voices, or any other organs of sound, afford an entertainment very little above the rattles of children. It was from this opinion of the matter, that when Mr. Clayton had finished his studies in Italy, and brought over the opera of Arsinoe, 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 assist by their solicitations, in introducing so elegant an entertainment as the Italian music grafted upon English poetry. For this end, Mr. Dieupart and Mr. Haym, according to their several opportunities, promoted the intro