Imágenes de páginas

to distinguish themselves from the rest of , and as the world is more apt to find fault mankind? Providence for the most part sets than to commend, the boast will probably us upon a level, and observes a kind of be censured, when the great action that proportion in its dispensation towards us. occasioned it is forgotten. If it renders us perfect in one accomplish Besides, this very desire of fame is lookment, it generally leaves us defective in ed on as a meanness and imperfection in the another, and seems careful rather of pre- greatest character. A solid and substanserving every person from being mean and tial greatness of soul looks down, with a deficient in his qualifications, than of making generous neglect, on the censures and any single one eminent or extraordinary. applauses of the multitudo, and places a

Among those who are the most richly man beyond the little noise and strife of endowed by nature, and accomplished by tongues. Accordingly we find in ourselves their own industry, how few are there a secret awe and veneration for the characwhose virtues are not obscured by the igno- ter of one who moves above us, in a regular rance, prejudice, or envy of their behold- and illustrious course of virtue, without any ers! Some men cannot discern between a regard to our good or ill opinions of him, noble and a mean action. Others are apt to to our reproaches or commendations. As attribute them to some false end or inten- on the contrary it is usual for us, when we tion; and others purposely misrepresent, or would take off from the fame and reputaput a wrong interpretation on them. But tion of an action, to ascribe it to vain-glory, the more to enforce this consideration, we and a desire of fame in the actor. Nor may observe that those are generally most is this common judgment and opinion of unsuccessful in their pursuit after fame, mankind ill-founded: for certainly it dewho are most desirous of obtaining it It is notes no great bravery of mind, to be workSallust's remark upon Cato, that the less ed up to any noble action by so selfish a he coveted glory, the more he acquired it. * motive, and to do that out of a desire of

Men take an ill-natured pleasure in cross- fame, which we could not be prompted to ing our inclinations, and disappointing us in by a disinterested love to mankind, or by a what our hearts are most set upon. When generous passion for the glory of him who therefore, they have discovered the pas- made us. sionate desire of fame in the ambitious man, Thus is fame a thing difficult to be ob(as no temper of mind is more apt to show tained by all, but particularly by those who itself) they become sparing and reserved in thirst after it, since most men have so their commendations, they envy him the much either of ill-nature, or of wariness, satisfaction of an applause, and look on as not to gratify or soothe the vanity of the their praises rather as a kindness done to ambitious man; and since this very thirst his person, than as a tribute paid to his after fame naturally betrays him into such merít. Others who are free from this natu- indecencies as are a lessening to his repural perverseness of temper, grow weary in tation, and is itself looked upon as a weaktheir praises of one who sets too great a ness in the greatest characters. value on them, lest they should raise him In the next place, fame is easily lost, and too high in his own imagination, and by as difficult to be preserved as it was at first consequence remove him to a greater dis- to be acquired. But this I shall make the tance from themselves.

subject of a following paper. But further, this desire of fame naturally betrays the ambitious man into such indecencies as are a lessening to his reputation. No. 256.] Monday, December 24, 1711. He is still afraid lest any of his actions should be thrown away in private, lest his Φημη γαρ τε κακη πελεται κουφη μεν αειραι deserts should be concealed from the no

Ρεια μαλ', αργαλε η δε φέρειν. tice of the world, or receive any disadvan

Fame is an ill you may with ease obtain, tage from the reports which others make

A sad oppression to be borne with pain. of them. This often sets him on empty THERE are many passions and tempers boasts and ostentations of himself, and be- of mind which naturally dispose us to detrays him into vain fantastical recitals of press and vilify the merit of one rising in his own performances. His discourse gene- the esteem of mankind. All those who rally leans one way, and whatever is the made their entra ce into the world with subject of it, tends obliquely either to the the same advantages, and were once looked detracting from others, or to the extolling on as his equals, are apt to think the fame of himself. Vanity is the natural weakness of his merits a reflection on their own deof an ambitious man, which exposes him to serts; and will therefore take care to rethe secret scorn and derision of those he proach him with the scandal of some past converses with, and ruins the character he action, or derogate from the worth of the is so industrious to advance by it. For present, that they may still keep him on though his actions are never só glorious, the same level with themselves. The like they lose their lustre when they are drawn kind of consideration often stirs up the envy at large, and set to show by his own hand; of such as were once his superiors, who

think it a detraction from their merit to see * Sal. Bel. Catil. c. 49.

another get ground upon them, and over



take them in the pursuits of glory; and will cate motives there are to detraction and therefore endeavour to sink his reputation, defamation, and how many malicious spies that they may the better preserve their own. are searching into the actions of a great Those who were once his equals envy and man, who is not, always, the best prepared defame him, because they now see him for so narrow an inspection. For we may their superior; and those who were once generally observe that our admiration of a his superiors, because they look upon him famous man lessens upon our nearer acas their equal.

quaintance with him: and that we seldom But farther, a man whose extraordinary hear the description of a celebrated person, reputation thus lifts him up to the notice without a catalogue of some notorious weakand observation of mankind, draws a mul- nesses and infirmities. The reason may titude of eyes upon him, that will narrowly be, because any little slip is more conspiinspect every part of him, consider him cuous and observable in his conduct than in nicely in all views, and not be a little pleased, another's, as it is not of a piece with the when they have taken him in the worst rest of his character: or because it is imand most disadvantageous, light. There possible for a man at the same time to be are many who find a pleasure in contradict- attentive to the more important part of his ing the common reports of fame, and in life, and to keep a watchful eye over all the spreading abroad the weaknesses of an ex- inconsiderable circumstances of his behaalted character. They publish their ill- viour and conversation; or because, as we natured discoveries with a secret pride, have before observed, the same temper of and applaud themselves for the singularity mind which inclines us to a desire of fame, of their judgment, which has searched naturally betrays us into such slips and undeeper than others, detected what the rest wariness, as are not incident to men of a of the world have overlooked, and found a contrary disposition. flaw in what the generality of mankind After all it must be confessed, that a admires. Others there are who proclaim noble and triumphant merit often breaks the errors and infirmities of a great man through and dissipates these little spots with an inward satisfaction and compla- and sullies in its reputation; but if by a miscency, if they discover none of the like er- taken pursuit after fame, or through human rors and infirmities in themselves; for while infirmity, any false step be made in the they are exposing another's weakness, they more momentous concerns of life, the whole are tacitly aiming at their own commenda- scheme of ambitious designs is broken and tions, who are not subject to the like in- disappointed. The smaller stains and blefirmities, and are apt to be transported with mishes may die away and disappear, a sccret kind of vanity, to see themselves amidst the brightness that surrounds them; superior in some respects to one of a sub- but a blot of a deeper nature casts a shade lime and celebrated reputation. Nay, it on all the other beauties, and darkens the very often happens, that none are more in- whole character. How difficult therefore dustrious in publishing the blemishes of an is it to preserve a great name, when he extraordinary reputation, than such as lie that has acquired it is so obnoxious to such open to the same censures in their own little weaknesses and infirmities as are no characters, as either hoping to excuse their small diminution to it when discovered; own defects by the authority of so high an especially when they are so industriously example, or to raise an imaginary applause proclaimed, and aggravated by such as to themselves, for resembling a person of were once his superiors, or equals; by such an exalted reputation, though in the blame- as would set to show their judgment, or able parts of his character. If all these their wit, and by such as are guilty, or insecret springs of detraction fail, yet very nocent, of the same slips or misconducts in often a vain ostentation of wit sets a man on their own behaviour! attacking an established name, and sacri But were there none of these dispositions ficing it to the mirth and laughter of those in others to censure a famous man, nor any about him. A satire or a libel on one of such miscarriages in himself, yet would he the common stamp never meets with that meet with no small trouble in keeping up reception and approbation among its rea- his reputation, in all its height and splenders, as what is aimed at a person whose dour. There must be always a noble train merit places him upon an eminence, and of actions to preserve his fame in life and gives him a more conspicuous figure among motion. For when it is once at a stand, it

Whether it be, that we think it naturally fags and languishes. Admiration shows greater art to expose and turn to is a very short-lived passion, that immeridicule a man whose character seems so diately decays upon growing familiar with improper a subject for it, or that we are its object, unless it be still fed with fresh pleased by some implicit kind of revenge, discoveries, and kept alive by a new perto see him taken down and humbled in his petual succession of miracles rising up to reputation, and in some measure reduced its view. And even the greatest actions of to our own rank, who had so far raised a celebrated person labour under this dishimself above us, in the reports and opinions advantage, that however surprising and of mankind.

extraordinary, they may be, they are no 'Thus we see how many dark and intri- more than what are expected from him;



but on the contrary, if they fall any thing, how will he be able to bear up under scanbelow the opinion that is conceived of him, dal and defamation for the same temper though they might raise the reputation of of mind which makes him desire fame, another, they are a diminution to his. makes him hate reproach. If he can be

One would think there should be some- transported with the extraordinary praises thing wonderfully pleasing in the possession of men, he will be as much dejected by of fame, that, notwithstanding all these mor- their censures. How little therefore is the tifying considerations, can engage a man in happiness of an ambitious man, who gives so desperate a pursuit; and yet, if we con- every one a dominion over it, who thus sider the little happiness that attends a subjects himself to the good or ill speeches great character, and the multitude of dis- of others, and puts it in the power of every quietudes to which the desire of it sub- malicious tongue to throw him into a fit of jects an ambitious mind, one would be still melancholy, and destroy his natural rest the more surprised to see so many restless and repose of mind; especially when we candidates for glory.

consider that the world is more apt to cenAmbition raises a secret tumult in the sure than applaud, and himself fuller of soul, it inflames the mind, and puts it into imperfections than virtues. a violent hurry of thought. It is still reach We may further observe, that such a ing after an empty imaginary good, that man will be more grieved for the loss of has not in it the power to abate or satisfy fame, than he could have been pleased it. Most other things we long for can allay with the enjoyment of it. For though the the cravings of their proper sense, and for presence of this imaginary good cannot a while set the appetite at rest; but fame make us happy, the absence of it may is a good so wholly foreign to our natures, make us miserable; because in the enjoythat we have no faculty in the soul adapted ment of an object we only find that share to it, nor any organ in the body to relish it: of pleasure which it is capable of giving us, an object of desire, placed out of the possi- but in the loss of it we do not proportion bility of fruition. It may indeed fill the our grief to the real value it bears, but to mind for a while with a giddy kind of plea- the value our fancies and imaginations set sure, but it is such a pleasure as makes upon it. a man restless and uneasy under it; and So inconsiderable is the satisfaction that which does not so much satisfy the present fame brings along with it, and so great the thirst, as it excites fresh desires, and sets disquietudes to which it makes us liable. the soul on new enterprises. For how few The desire of it stirs up very uneasy moambitious men are there, who have got as tions in the mind, and is rather inflamed much fame as they desired, and whose than satisfied by the presence of the thing thirst after it has not been as eager in the desired. The enjoyment of it brings but very height of their reputation, as it was very little pleasure, though the loss or before they became known and eminent want of it be very sensible and afflicting; among men! There is not any circumstance and even this little happiness is so very in Cæsar's character which gives me a precarious, that it wholly depends upon greater idea of him, than a saying which the will of others. We are not only torCicero tells us he frequently made use of tured by the reproaches which are offered in private conversation, • That he was satis- us, but are disappointed by the silence of fied with his share of life and fame.' Se men when it is unexpected; and humbled sutis vel ad naturam, vel ad gloriam vir- even by their praises.

C. isse.' Many indeed have given over their pursuits after fame, but that has proceeded No. 257.] Tuesday, D mber 25, 1711, either from the disappointments they have met in it, or from their experience of the

Ουχ ενδει Διος

Οφθαλμος: γυς δ' εστι και παρων πονο. . little pleasure which attends it, or from the better informations or natural coldness of No slumber seals the eye of Providence, old age; but seldom from a full satisfac Present to every action we commence. tion and acquiescence in their present en That I might not lose myself upon a joyments of it.

subject of so great extent as that of fame, I Nor is fame only unsatisfying in itself, have treated it in a particular order and but the desire of it says us open to many ac- method. I have first of all considered the cidental troubles which those are free from, reasons why Providence may have implantwho have not such a tender regard for it. ed in our minds such a principle of action. How often is the ambitious man cast down I have in the next place shown from many and disappointed, if he receives no praise considerations, first, that fame a thing where he expected it? Nay, how often is difficult to be obtained, and easily lost; sehe mortified with the very praises he re-condly, that it brings the ambitious man ceives, if they do not rise so high as he very little happiness, but subjects him to thinks they ought; which they seldom do, much uneasiness and dissatisfaction. I shall unless increased by flattery, since few men in the last place show, that it hinders us have so good an opinion of us as we have from obtaining an end which we have of ourselves? But if the ambitious man can abilities to acquire, and which is accombe so much grieved even with praise itself, I panied with fulness of satisfaction. I need

Incert. et Stob.

not tell my reader, that I mean by this sight, from whom no secrets are concealed. end, that happiness which is reserved for Again, there are many virtues which want us in another world, which every one has an opportunity of exerting and showing abilities to procure, and which will bring themselves in actions. Every virtue realong with it ‘fulness of joy and pleasures quires time and place, a proper object and for evermore.'

a fit conjuncture of circumstances, for the How the pursuit after fame may hinder due exercise of it. A state of poverty obus in the attainment of this great end, I shall scures all the virtues of liberality and muleave the reader to collect from the three nificence. The patience and fortitude of a following considerations:

martyr or confessor lie concealed in the First Because the strong desire of fame flourishing times of Christianity. Some breeds several vicious habits in the mind. virtues are only seen in affliction, and some

Secondly, Because many of those actions, in prosperity; some in a private, and others which are apt to procure fame, are not in in a public capacity. But the great Sotheir nature conducive to this our ultimate vereign of the world beholds every perfechappiness.

tion in its obscurity, and not only sees what Thirdly, Because if we should allow the we do, but what we would do.' He views same actions to be the proper instruments, our behaviour in every concurrence of afboth of acquiring fame, and of procuring fairs, and sees us engaged in all the possithis happiness, they would nevertheless fail bilities of action. He discovers the martyr in the attainment of this last end, if they and confessor without the trial of flames proceeded from a desire of the first. and tortures, and will hereafter entitle

These three propositions are self-evident many to the reward of actions, which they to those who are versed in speculations of had never the opportunity of performing. morality. For which reason I shall not Another reason why men cannot form a enlarge upon them, but proceed to a point right judgment of us is, because the same of the same nature, which may open to us actions may be aimed at different ends, and a more uncommon field of speculation. arise from quite contrary principles. Ac

From what has been already observed, I tions are of so mixed a nature, and so full think we may make a natural conclusion, of circumstances, that as men pry into that it is the greatest folly to seek the them more or less, or observe some parts praise or approbation of any being, besides more than others, they take different hints, the Supreme, and that for these two rea- and put contrary interpretations on them; sons, because no other being can make a so that the same actions may represent a right judgment of us, and esteem us accord-man as hypocritical and designing to one, ing to our merits; and because we can pro- which make him appear a saint or hero cure no considerable benefit or advantage to another. He therefore who looks upon from the esteem and approbation of any the soul through its outward actions, often other being

sees it through a deceitful medium, which In the first place, no other being can is apt to discolour and pervert the object: make a right judgment of us, and esteem so that on this account also, he is the only us according to our merits. Created beings proper judge of our perfections, who does see nothing but our outside, and can there- not guess at the sincerity of our intenfore only frame a judgment of us from our tions, from the goodness of our actions, but exterior actions and behaviour; but how weighs the goodness of our actions by the unfit these are to give us a right notion of sincerity of our intentions. each other's perfections, may appear from But further, it is impossible for outward several considerations. There are many actions to represent the perfections of the virtues which in their own nature are soul, because they can never show the incapable of any outward representation; strength of those principles from whence many silent perfections in the soul of a good they proceed. They are not adequate exman, which are great ornaments to human pressions of our virtues, and can only show nature, but not able to discover themselves us what habits are in the soul, without disto the knowledge of others; they are trans- covering the degree and perfection of such acted in private without noise or show, and habits. They are at best but weak resemare only visible to the great Searcher of blances of our intentions, faint and imperhearts.' What actions can express the fect copies, that may acquaint us with the entire purity of thought which refines and general design, but can never express the sanctifies a virtuous man? That secret rest, beauty and life of the original. But the and contentedness of mind, which gives great Judge of all the earth knows every him a perfect enjoyment of his present con- different state and degree of human imdition? That inward pleasure and compla- provement, from those weak stirrings and cency which he feels in doing good? That tendencies of the will which have not yet delight and satisfaction, which he takes in formed themselves into regular purposes the prosperity and happiness of another? and designs, to the last entire finishing and These and the like virtues are the hidden consummation of a good habit. He beholds beauties of a soul, the secret graces which the first imperfect rudiments of a virtue in cannot be discovered by a mortal eye, but the soul, and keeps a watchful eye over it make the soul lovely and precious in his l in all its progress, until it has received

every grace it is capable of, and appears in at present the reader shall have from my its full beauty and perfection. Thus we see correspondents. The first of the letters that none but the Supreme Being can esteem with which I acquit myself for this day, is us according to our proper merits, since all written by one who proposes to improve others must judge of us from our outward our entertainments of dramatic poetry, and actions; which can never give them a just the other comes from three persons, who, estimate of us, since there are many per- as soon as named, will be thought capable fections of a man which are not capable of of advancing the present state of music. appearing in actions; many which, allowing no natural incapacity of showing them

MR. SPECTATOR,--I am considerably selves, want an opportunity of doing it; or obliged to you for your speedy publication should they all meet with an opportunity of my last in yours of the 18th instant, and of appearing by actions, yet those actions am in no small hopes of being settled in the may be misinterpreted, and applied to post of Comptroller of the Cries. Of all the wrong principles: or though they plainly objections I have hearkened after in public discovered the principles from whence they coffee-houses, there is but one that seems to proceeded, they could never show the de- carry any weight with it, viz. That such a gree, strength, and perfection of those post would come too near the nature of a principles.

monopoly. Now, sir, because I would have And as the Supreme Being is the only all sorts of people made easy, and being proper judge of our perfections, so is he the willing to have more strings than one to my only fit rewarder of them. This is a con- bow: in case that of comptroller should fail sideration that comes home to our interest, me, I have since formed another project, as the other adapts itself to our ambition which being grounded on the dividing of a And what could'the most aspiring, or the present monopoly, I hope will give the most selfish man desire more, were he to public an equivalent to their full content, form the notion of a Being to whom he You know, sir, it is allowed, that the busiwould recommend himself, than such a ness of the stage is, as the Latin has it, knowledge as can discover the least ap- jucunda et idonea dicere vitæ. Now there pearance of perfection in him, and such a being but one dramatic theatre licensed for goodness as will proportion a reward to it? the delight and profit of this extensive me

Let the ambitious man therefore turn all tropolis, I do humbly propose, for the conhis desire of fame this way; and that he venience of such of its inhabitants as are too may propose to himself a fame worthy of distant from Covent-garden, that another his ambition, let him consider, that if he theatre of ease may be erected in some employs his abilities to the best advantage, spacious part of the city; and that the directhe time will come when the Supreme Go- tion thereof may be made a franchise in fee vernor of the world, the great Judge of to me and my heirs for ever. And that the mankind, who sees every degree of perfec- town may have no jealousy of my ever comtion in others, and possesses all possible ing into a union with the set of actors now perfection in himself, shall proclaim his in being, I do further propose to constitute worth before men and angels, and pro

my deputy my near kinsman and adnounce to him in the presence of the whole venturer, Kit Crotchet, * whose long excreation that best and most significant of perience and improvements in those affairs applauses, 'Well done, thou good and faith- need no recommendation. It was obvious to ful servant, enter thou into thy master's every spectator, what a quite different foot joy.'

C. the stage was upon during his government;

and had he not been bolted out of his trap

doors, his garrison might have held out for No. 258.] Wednesday, December 26, 1711. ever; he having by long pains and persever

ance arrived at the art of making his army Divide et impera.

fight without pay or provisions. I must Divide and rule.

confess it is with a melancholy amazement, PLEASURE and recreation of one kind or I see so wonderful a genius laid aside, and other are absolutely necessary to relieve the late slaves of the stage now become its cur minds and bodies from too constant at- masters, dunces that will be sure to suptention and labour: where therefore public press all theatrical entertainments and acdiversions are tolerated, it behoves persons tivities that they are not able themselves to of distinction, with their power and exam- shine in! ple, to preside over them in such a manner • Every man that goes to a play is not as to check any thing that tends to the cor- obliged to have either wit or understanding; ruption of manners, or which is too mean and I insist upon it, that all who go there or trivial for the entertainment of reason- should see something which may improve able creatures. As to the diversions of this them in a way of which they are capable. kind in this town, we owe them to the arts In short, sir, I would have something done, of poetry and music. My own private opi- as well as said, on the stage. A man may nion, with relation to such recreations, I have an active body, though he has not a have heretofore given with all the frankness imaginable; what concerns those arts

* Christopher Rich.


« AnteriorContinuar »