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Towly inspect every Part of him, con fider 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 an exalted Character. They publish their ill-natur’d 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 in what the Generality of Mankind admires. Others 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 themfelves, 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 fuch as lie open to the fame Censures in their own Characters, as either hoping to excuse their own Defects by the Authority of so high an Example, or raising an imaginary Applause to themselves for resembling a Person of an exalted Reputation, though in the blameable Parts of his Character. If all thefe fecret Springs of Detraction fail, yet very often a vain Oftentation of Wit sets a Man on attacking an eltablished Name, and facrificing 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 shews 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.
THUS we see how many dark and intricate Motives there are to Detraction and Defamation, and how many malicious Spies are searching into the Actions of a great Man, who is not always the best prepared for so narrow an Inspection. For we may generally observe, that our Admiration of a famous Man lessens upon our nearer Acquaintance with him; and that we seldom hear the Defcription of a celebrated Person, without a Catalogue of some notorious Weaknesses and Infirmities. The Reason may 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 because 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 Circumitances of his Behaviour and Conversation ; or because, as we have before observed, the fame 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 confess’d, that a noble and triumphant Merit often breaks through and dislipates 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 Ble. mishes may die away and disappear amidst the Brightness that surrounds 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 obnoxious to such little Weaknesses and Infirmities as are no small Diminution to it when discovered, especially when they are so industriously proclaimed, and aggravated by such as were once his Superiors or Equals ; by such as would set to show their Judgment or their Wit, and by such as are guilty or innocent of the same Slips or Misconducts in their own Behaviour.
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 VOL. IV.
keeping up his Reputation in all its Height and Splendor. 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-liv'd 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, if they fall any Thing below the Opinion that is conceived of him, tho' 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 thele mortifying Considerations, can engage a Man in fo desperate a Pursuit; and yet if we conlider 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 furprised to see so many restless Candidates for Glory.
AMBITION raises a secret Tumult in the Soul, it inflames 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 Reft : 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 Dea fire placed out of the Possibility of Fruition. It may indeed fill the Mind for a while with a giddy kind of Ileafure, but it is such a Pleasure as makes a Man restless and uneasy under it; and which does not so much fatisfy the present Thirst, as it excites fresh Desires, and sets the Soul on new Enterprizes. For how few ambitious Men are there, who have got as much Fame as they desired, and whose Thirt after it has not been as eager in the very Height of their Reputation, as it was before they became known and eminent among Men? There is not any Cir
cumstance in Cæsar's Character which gives me a greater Idea of him, than a saying which Cicero tells us he frequently made use of in private Conversation, that he was satisfied with his Share of Life and Fame, Se fatis velad Naturam, vel ad Gloriam vixise. Many indeed have given over their Pursuits after Fame, but that has proceeded either from the Disappointments they have met in it, or from their Experience of the little Pleasure which attends it, or from the better Informations or natural Coldness of Old Age ; but feldom from a full Satisfaction and Acquiescence in their present Enjoyments of it.
NOR is Fame only unsatisfying in it self, but the Defire of it lays us open to many accidental Troubles which those are free from who have no such a tender Regard for it. How often is the Ambitious Man cast down and disappointed, if he receives no Praise where he expected it? Nay how often is he mortified with the very Praises he receives, if they do not rise so high as he thinks they ought, which they seldom do unless increased by Flattery, fince few Men have so good an Opinion of us as we have of our felves ? But if the ambitious Man can be so much grieved even with Praise it self, 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 dejec. ted by their Censures. How little therefore is the Happiness of an ambitious Man, who 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 Reft and Repose of Mind ? Especially when we consider that the World is more aptto censure than applaud, and himself fuller of Imperfections than Virtues.
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 tho' the Presence of this imaginary Good cannot make us happy, the Absence of it may make us miserable: 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 which it makes us liable. The Desire of it stirs up very uneasy Motions in the Mind, and is rather inflamed than satisfied by the Presence of the Thing desired. The Enjoyment of it brings but very little Pleasure, tho’the Loss or Want of it be very sensible and afflicting ; and even this little Happiness is so very precarious, that it wholly depends on the Will of others. We are not only tortured by the Rea proaches which are offered us, but are disappointed by the Silence of Men when it is unexpected ; and humbled even by their Praises.
SCHONKONG No 257. Tuesday, December 25.
'Oug sider Aids Ophanuós e gu's dise xj Tapos abva.
Incert. ex Stob.
MTHAT I might not lose my self upon a Subject of I so great Extent as that of Fame, I have treated it
in a particular Order and Method. I have first of all considered the Reasons why Providence may have implanted in our Mind such a Principle of Action. I have in the next Place shewn from many Considerations, first, that Fame is a Thing difficult to be obtained, and easily loft ; Secondly, that it brings the ambitious Man very little Happiness, but subjects himn to much Uneasiness and Dissatisfaction. I shall in the last Place shew, that it hinders us from obtaining an End which we have Abi. lities to acquire, and which is accompanied with Fulness of Satisfaction. I need not tell my Reader, that I mean by this End that Happiness which is reserved for us in another World, which every one has Abilities to pro