Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

foregoing lines, puts me in mind of a de-grogram gown, the spouse of your parish scription in Homer's Odyssey, which none vicar, who has by this time, I am sure, of the critics have taken notice of. It is well furnished you with receipts for making where Sisyphus is represented lifting his salves and possets, distilling cordial waters, stone up the hill, which is no sooner carried making syrups, and applying poultices. to the top of it, but it immediately tumbles • Blest solitude! I wish thee joy, my dear, to the bottom. This double motion of the of thy loved retirement, which indeed you stone is admirably described in the num- would persuade me is very agreeable, and bers of these verses; as in the four first it different enough from what I have here is heaved up by several spondees, inter- described: but, child, I am afraid thy brains mixed with proper breathing places, and are a little disordered with romances and at last trundles down in a continued line of novels. After six months marriage to hear dactyls:

thee talk of love, and paint the country Και μην Σισυφον, εισιιδον, κρατερ' αλγε' εχοντα,

scenes so softly, is a little extravagant; one Λα αν βασταζοντα πελώριον αμφοτερήσιν.

would think you lived the lives of sylvan 'Ητοι ο μεν σχη ριπτομενος χερσιν τε τοσίν τι, deities, or roved among the walks of ParaΛα αν ανυ αθεσαι ποτι λοφον, αλλ' οτε μελλοι 'Ακρον υπερβαλν, τοτ' αποστρεψασχε Κραταις,

dise, like the first happy, pair. But pray Αυτός επειτα πεδoνδι κυλινδετο λάας αναιδης. . thee leave these whimsies, and come to

Odyss. 1. 11.

town in order to live and talk like other I turn'd my eye, and as I turn'd survey'd

mortals. However, as I am extremely inA mournful vision, the Sisyphian shade: With many a weary step, and many a groan,

terested in your reputation, I would wilUp the high hill he heaves a huge round stone: lingly give you a little good advice at your The huge round stone, resulting with a bound, Thunders impetuous down, and smokes along the married woman. It is a little insolent in

first appearance under the character of a ground.

Pope. It would be endless to quote verses out me, perhaps, to advise a matron; but I am of Virgil which have this particular kind so afraid you will make so silly a figure

as of beauty in the numbers: but I may take a fond wife, that I cannot help warning you an occasion in a future paper to show not to appear in any public places with several of them which have escaped the St. James's Park together; if you presume

your husband, and never to saunter about observation of others. I cannot conclude this paper without

to enter the ring at Hyde Park together, taking notice that we have three poems in the least notice of one another at the play,

you are ruined for ever; nor must you take our tongue, which are of the same nature; house or opera, unless you would be laughed kind; the *Essay on Translated Verse, the at for a very loving couple, most happily Essay on the Art of Poetry, and the Essay paired in the yoke of wedlock. I would

recommend the example of an acquaintupon Criticism,

ance of ours to your imitation; she is the most negligent and fashionable wife in the

world; she is hardly ever seen in the same No. 254.] Friday, December 21, 1711. place with her husband, and if they hap

Σεμνος ερως αρετής, ο δε κυπριδος αχος οφιλλει. pen to meet, you would think them perfect Virtuous love is honourable, but lust increaseth sorrow him in his absence; and takes care he shall

strangers; she was never heard to name When I consider the false impressions never be the subject of any discourse that which are received by the generality of the she has a share in. I hope you will proworld, I am troubled at none more than pose this lady as a pattern, though I am a certain levity of thought, which many very much afraid you will be so silly to young women of quality have entertained, think Portia, &c., Sabine and Roman wives, to the hazard of their characters, and the much brighter examples. I wish it may certain misfortune of their lives. The first never come into your head to imitate those of the following letters may best represent antiquated creatures, so far as to come into the faults I would now point at, and the public in the habit as well as air of a Roanswer to it, the temper of mind in a con- man matron. You make already the entrary character.

tertainment at Mrs. Modish's tea-table; 'MY DEAR HARRIOT,-If thou art she, she says she always thought you a discreet but oh how fallen, how changed, what an person, and qualified to manage a family apostate! how lost to all that is gay and with admirable prudence; she dies to see agreeable! To be married I find is to be what demure and serious airs wedlock has buried alive; I cannot conceive it more dis- given you, but she says, she shall never mal to be shut up in a vault to converse forgive your choice of so gallant a man as with the shades of my ancestors, than to Bellamour, to transform him into a mere be carried down to an old manor house in sober husband: it was unpardonable. You the country, and confined to the conversa- see, my dear, we all envy your happiness, tion of a sober husband, and an awkward and no person more than your humble serchambermaid. For variety, I suppose you vant,

LYDIA.' may entertain yourself with madam in her

• Be not in pain, good madam, for my * By the Earl of Roscommon.

appearance in town; I shall frequent no

C.

T.

IMITATED.

public places or make any visit where the I am sorry I cannot answer this impacharacter of a moderate wife is ridiculous. tient gentleman but by another question. As for your wild raillery on matrimony, it is DEAR CORRESPONDENT.-Would you all hypocrisy; you, and all the handsome marry to please other people, or yourself? young women of your acquaintance, show yourselves to no other purpose than to gain a conquest over some man of worth, in order to bestow your charms and fortune on No. 255.] Saturday, December 22, 1711. him. There is no indecency in the confession, the design is modest and honourable,

Laudis amore tumes ? sunt certa piacula, quæ te and all your affectation cannot disguise it.

Ter pure lecto poterunt recreare libello.

Hor. Ep. 1. Lib. 1. ver. 36. .I am married, and have no other concern but to please the man I love; he is the Know there are rhymes, which (fresh and fresh apply'd) end of every care I have; if I dress, it is for Will cure the arrant'st puppy of his pride. --- Pope, him; if I read a poem, or a play, it is to The soul, considered abstractedly from qualify myself for a conversation agreeable its passions, is of a remiss and sedentary to his taste: he is almost the end of my de- nature, slow in its resolves, and languishvotions; half my prayers are for his happi- ing in its executions. The use therefore ness—I love to talk of him, and never hear of the passions is to stir it up, and to put it him named but with pleasure and emotion. upon action, to awaken the understanding, I am your friend, and wish your happiness, to enforce the will, and to make the whole but am sorry to see, by the air of your man more vigorous and attentive in the letter, that there are a set of women who prosecution of his designs. As this is the are got into the common-place raillery of end of the passions in general, so it is partievery thing that is sober, decent, and pro- cularly of ambition, which pushes the soul per; matrimony and the clergy are the to such actions as are apt to procure honour topics of people of little wit, and no under- and reputation to the actor. But if we standing. I own to you I have learned of carry our reflections higher, we may disthe vicar's wife all you tax me with. She cover farther ends of Providence in imis a discreet, ingenious, pleasant, pious planting this passion in mankind. woman; I wish she had the handling of It was necessary for the world, that arts you and Mrs. Modish; you would find, if should be invented and improved, books you were too free with her, she would soon written and transmitted to posterity, namake you as charming as ever you were; tions conquered and civilized. Now since she would make you blush as much as if the proper and genuine motives to these, you never had been fine ladies. The vicar, and the like great actions, would only inmadam, is so kind as to visit my hus- Puence virtuous minds: there would be but band, and his agreeable conversation has small improvements in the world, were brought him to enjoy many sober, happy there not some common principle of action hours, when even I am shut out, and my working equally with all men. And such dear master is entertained only with his a principle is ambition, or a desire of fame, own thoughts. These things, dear madam, by which great endowments are not sufferwill be lasting satisfactions, when the fine ed to lie idle and useless to the public, and ladies, and the coxcombs, by whom they many vicious men are over-reached as it form themselves, are irreparably ridicu- were, and engaged, contrary to their natural lous, ridiculous in old age. “I am, madam, inclinations, in a glorious and laudable your most humble servant,

course of action. For we may farther ob MARY HOME.' serve, that men of the greatest abilities are

most fired with ambition; and that on the *DEAR MR. SPECTATOR,—You have no contrary, mean and narrow minds are the goodness in the world, and are not in earn- least actuated by it: whether it be that a est in any thing you say that is serious, man's sense of his own incapacities makes if you do not send me a plain answer him despair of coming at fame, or that he to this. I happened some days past to be has not enough range of thought to look out at the play, where during the time of per- for any good which does not more immeformance, I could not keep my eyes off diately relate to his interest or convenience; from a beautiful young creature who sat or that Providence, in the very frame of his just before me, and who I have been since soul, would not subject him to such a pas informed, has no fortune. It would utterly sion as would be eless to the world, and ruin my reputation for discretion to marry a torment to himself. such a one, and by what I can learn she has Were not this desire of fame very strong; a character of great modesty, so that there the difficulty of obtaining it, and the danis nothing to be thought on any other way. ger of losing it when obtained, would be My mind has ever since been so wholly sufficient to deter a man from so vain a bent on her, that I am much in danger of pursuit. doing something very extravagant without How few are there who are furnished your speedy advice to, sir, your most hum- with abilities sufficient to recommend their ble servant.'

actions to the admiration of the world, and

[merged small][ocr errors]

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 look-
ment, it generally leaves us defective ined on as a meanness and imperfection in the
another, and seems careful rather of pre- greatest character. A solid and substan-
serving 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 multitude, 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 lessed 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.

C. But further, this desire of fame naturally betrays the ambitious man into such indécencies 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 deserts should be concealed from the no

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

Fame is an ill you may with ease obtain,

A sad oppression to be borne with pain. tage from the reports which others make 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 entrance 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. 42

another get ground upon them, and over

[ocr errors]

Hesiod.

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 catalogae 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 acquiređ 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 sman 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 flags 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;

men.

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 satis vel ad naturam, vel ad gloriam vix- even by their praises. isse.' Many indeed have given over their pursuits after fame, but that has proceeded No. 257.] Tuesday, December 25, 1711. either from the disappointments they have met in it, or from their experience of the

Oux' sufs A195 little pleasure which attends it, or from the

Οφθαλμος» γυς δ' εστι και παρων πον». 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 lays 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 is 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 fattery, 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

C.

Incert. Er Stob.

« ПредишнаНапред »