Abbildungen der Seite

FRIDAY, October 5, 1711.

He is a very unhappy man who sets his heart upon being admired by the multitude, or affects a general and undistinguishing applause among men. What pious men call the testimony of a good conscience, should be the measure of our ambition in this kind; that is to say, a man of spirit should contemn the praise of the ignorant, and like being applauded for nothing but what he knows in his own heart he deserves. Besides which, the character of the person who commends you is to be considered, before you set a value upon his esteem. The praise of an ignorant man is only good-will, and you should receive his kindness as he is a good neighbour in society, and not as a good judge of your actions in point of fame and reputation. The satirist said very well of popular praise and acclamations, “Give the tinkers and cobblers their presents again, and learn to live of yourself.' It is an argument of a loose and ungoverned mind to be affected with the promiscuous approbation of the generality of mankind; and a man of virtue should be too delicate for so coarse an appetite of fame. Men of honour should endeavour only to please the worthy, and the man of merit should desire to be tried only by his peers. I thought it a noble sentiment which I heard yesterday uttered in conversation ; “I know,' said a gentleman, “a way to be greater than any man. If he has worth in him, I can rejoice in his superiority to me : and that satisfaction is a greater act of the soul in me, than

any in him which can possibly appear to me.'

This thought could not proceed but from a candid and generous spirit ; and the approbation of such minds is what nay be esteemed true praise : for with the common race of men there is nothing commendable but what they themselves may hope to be partakers of and arrive at; but the motive truly glorious is, when the mind is set rather to do things laudable, than to purchase reputation. Where there is that sincerity as the foundation of a good name, the kind opinion of virtuous men will be an unsought, but a necessary consequence. The Lacedæmonians, though a plain people, and no pretenders to politeness, had a certain delicacy in their sense of glory, and sacrificed to the Muses when they entered upon any great enterprise. They would have the commemoration of their actions be transmitted by the purest and most untainted memorialists. The din which attends victories and public triumphs is by far less eligible, than the recital of the actions of great men by honest and wise historians. It is a frivolous pleasure to be the admiration of gaping crowds; but to have the approbation of a good man in the cool reflections of his closet, is a gratification worthy an heroic spirit. The applause of the crowd makes the head giddy, but the attestation of a reasonable man makes the heart glad.

What makes the love of popular or general praise still more ridiculous is, that it is usually given for circunstances which are foreign to the persons admired. Thus they are the ordinary attendants on power and riches, which

may be taken out of one man's hand, and put into another's. The application only, and not the possession, makes those outward things honourable. The vulgar and men of sense agree in admiring men for having what they themselves would rather be possessed of; the wise man applauds him whom he thinks most virtuous; the rest of the world, him who is most wealthy.

MONDAY, October 15, 1711.


• THERE is a particular fault which I have observed in most of the moralists in all ages, and that is, that they are always professing themselves, and teaching others, to be happy. This state is not to be arrived at in this life; therefore I would recommend to you to talk in an humbler strain than your predecessors have done, and, instead of presuming to be happy, instruct us only to be easy. The thoughts of him who would be discreet, and aim at practicable things, should turn upon allaying our pain rather than promoting our joy. Great inquietude is to be avoided, but great felicity is not to be attained. The great lesson is equanimity, a regularity of spirit which is a little above cheerfulness and below mirth. Cheerfulness is always to be supported if a man is out of pain, but mirth to a prudent man should always be accidental. It should naturally arise out of the occasion, and the occasion seldom be laid for it; for those tempers

who want mirth to be pleased, are like the constitutions which


flag without the use of brandy. Therefore, I say, your precept be, ‘Be easy. That mind is dissolute and ungoverned which must be hurried out of itseif by loud laughter or sensual pleasure, or else be wholly unactive.

• There are a couple of old fellows of my acquaintance who meet every day and smoke a pipe, and by their mutual love to each other, though they have been men of business and bustle in the world, enjoy a greater tranquillity than either could have worked himself into by any chapter of Seneca. Indolence of body and mind, when we aim at no more, is very frequently enjoyed ; but the very inquiry after happiness has something restless in it, which a man who lives in a series of temperate meals, friendly conversations, and easy slumbers, gives himself no trouble about. While men of refinement are talking of tranquillity, he possesses it.

"What I would by these broken expressions recommend to you, Mr. Spectator, is, that you would speak of the way of life which plain men may pursue to fill up the spaces of time with satisfaction. It is a lamentable circumstance, that wisdom, or, as you call it, philosophy, should furnish ideas only for the learned; and that a man must be a philosopher to know how to pass away his time agreeably. It would therefore be worth your pains to place in a handsome light the relations and affinities among men, which render their conversation with each other so grateful, that the highest talents give but an impotent pleasure in comparison with them. find descriptions and discourses which will render the fireside of an honest artificer as entertaining as your own

You may club is to you.

Good-nature has an endless source of pleasures in it; and the representation of domestic life, filled with its natural gratifications, instead of the necessary vexations which are generally insisted upon in the writings of the witty, will be a very good office to society.

• The vicissitudes of labor and rest in the lower part of mankind make their being pass away with that sort of relish which we express by the word comfort ; and should be treated of by you, who are a spectator, as well as such subjects which appear indeed more speculative, but are less instructive. In a word, Sir, I would have you

turn your thoughts to the advantage of such as want you most; and show, that simplicity, innocence, industry, and temperance, are arts which lead to tranquillity, as much as learning, wisdom, knowledge, and contemplation. I am, 'Sir, your most humble servant,

T. B.'

SATURDAY, October 20, 1711.

It is of the last importance to season the passions of a child with devotion, which seldom dies in a mind that has received an early tincture of it. Though it may seem extinguished for a while by the cares of the world, the heats of youth, or the allurements of vice, it generally breaks out and discovers itself again as soon as discretion, consideration, age, or misfortunes have brought the man to himself. The fire may be covered and overlaid, but cannot be entirely quenched and smothered.

« ZurückWeiter »