If men would consider not so much wherein they differ, as wherein they agree, there would be far less of uncharitableness and angry feeling.
If you wish success in life, make perseverance your bosom friend, experience your wise counselor, caution your elder brother, and hope your guardian genius.
Self discipline is that which, next to virtue, truly and essentially raises one man above another.
From social intercourse are derived some of the highest enjoyments of life; where there is a free interchange of sentiments the mind acquires new ideas, and by frequent exercise of its powers, the understanding gains fresh vigor.
I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work; I want to achieve immortality through not dying.
A man must be both stupid and uncharitable who believes there is no virtue or truth but on his own side.
The great art in writing advertisements is the finding out a proper method to catch the reader’s eye; without which a good thing may pass over unobserved, or be lost among commissions of bankrupt.
There is not any present moment that is unconnected with some future one. The life of every man is a continued chain of incidents, each link of which hangs upon the former. The transition from cause to effect, from event to event, is often carried on by secret steps, which our foresight cannot divine, and our sagacity is unable to trace. Evil may at some future period bring forth good; and good may bring forth evil, both equally unexpected.
That he delights in the misery of others no man will confess, and yet what other motive can make a father cruel?
What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity. These are but trifles, to be sure; but, scattered along life’s pathway, the good they do is inconceivable.
Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love and something to hope for.
[Or: The grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.]
To be perfectly just is an attribute of the divine nature; to be so to the utmost of our abilities, is the glory of man.
When men are easy in their circumstances, they are naturally enemies to innovations.
Our real blessings often appear to us in the shape of pains, losses and disappointments; but let us have patience and we soon shall see them in their proper figures.
One should take good care not to grow too wise for so great a pleasure of life as laughter.
A man should always consider how much more unhappy he might be than he is.
Cheerfulness keeps up a kind of daylight in the mind, filling it with a steady and perpetual serenity.
Courage that grows from constitution often forsakes a man when he has occasion for it courage which arises from a sense of duty acts in a uniform manner.
It is ridiculous for any man to criticize the works of another if he has not distinguished himself by his own performances.
The religious man fears, the man of honor scorns to do an ill action. The former considers vice as something that is beneath him, the other as something that is offensive to the Divine Being. The one as what is unbecoming, the other as what forbidden. Thus Seneca speaks in the natural and genuine language of a man of honor, when he declares that were there no God to see or punish vice, he would not commit it, because it is of so mean, so base, and so vile a nature.
Tradition is an important help to history, but its statements should be carefully scrutinized before we rely on them.
A little nonsense now and then
Is relished by the wisest men. (Sir Roger on the Bench)
Great souls by instinct to each other turn,
Demand alliance, and in friendship burn:
A sudden friendship, while with stretch’d-out rays
They meet each other, mingling blaze with blaze,
Polish’d in courts, and harden’d in the field,
Renown’d for conquest, and in council skill’d,
Their courage dwells not in a troubled flood
Of mounting spirits, and fermenting blood;
Lodg’d in the soul, with virtue over-rul’d,
Inflam’d by reason, and by reason cool’d,
In hours of peace content to be unknown,
And only in the field of battle shown:
To souls like these, in mutual fiendship join’d,
Heaven dares intrust the cause of human-kind. (The Campaign)
‘Tis the divinity that stirs within us;
‘Tis heaven itself, that points out an hereafter,
And intimates eternity to man.
Eternity? thou pleasing, dreadful, thought!
Through what variety of untried being,
Through what new scenes and changes must we pass?
The wide, th’ unbounded prospect, lies before me;
But shadows, clouds, and darkness rest upon it.
Here will I hold. If there’s a power above us,
(And that there is all nature cries aloud
Through all her works,) he must delight in virtue;
And that which he delights in, must be happy. (Cato)
Why wilt thou add to all the griefs I suffer
Imaginary ills, and fancied tortures? (Cato)
A day, an hour, of virtuous liberty
Is worth a whole eternity in bondage. (Cato)
But silence never shows itself to so great an advantage, as when it is made the reply to calumny and defamation, provided that we give no just occasion for them. (Tatler 133)
Knowledge is, indeed, that which, next to virtue, truly and essentially raises one man above another. (Guardian 111)
[La Rochefoucauld is] the great philosopher for administering consolation to the idle, the curious, and the worthless of mankind.
A good conscience is to the soul what health is to the body; it preserves a constant ease and serenity within us, and move than countervails all the calamities and afflictions which can possibly befal us [from without]. I know nothing so hard for a generous mind to get over as calumny and reproach, and cannot find any method of quieting the soul under them, besides this single one, of our being conscious to ourselves that we do not deserve them. …
I cannot forbear being secretly pleased with the commendations I receive, though, I am sensible, it is a madman who bestows them on me. In the same manner, though we are often sure that the censures which are passed upon us, are uttered by those who know nothing of us, and have neither means nor abilities to form a right judgment of us, we cannot forbear being grieved at what they say.
In order to heal this infirmity, which is so natural to the best and wisest of men, I have taken a particular pleasure in observing the conduct of the old philosophers, how they bore themselves up against the malice and detraction of their enemies.
The way to silence calumny, says Bias, is to be always exercised in such things as are praise-worthy. Socrates, after having received sentence, told his friends that he had always accustomed himself to regard truth and not censure, and that he was not troubled at his condemnation, because he knew himself free from guilt. It was in the same spirit that he heard the accusations of his two great adversaries, who had uttered against him the most virulent reproaches.
Anytus and Melitus, says he, may procure sentence against me, but they cannot hurt me. This divine philosopher was so well fortified in his own innocence, that he neglected all the impotence of evil tongues which were engaged in his destruction. This was properly the support of a good conscience, that contradicted the reports which had been raised against him, and cleared him to himself. …
I would rather advise my reader, if he has not in this case the secret consolation, that he deserves no such reproaches as are cast upon him, to follow the advice of Epictetus: If any one speaks ill of thee, consider whether he has truth on his side; and if so, reform thyself that his censures may not affect thee. (Guardian 135)
Thus although the whole of Life is allowed by every one to be short, the several Divisions of it appear long and tedious. We are for lengthening our Span in general, but would fain contract the Parts of which it is composed. The Usurer would be very well satisfied to have all the Time annihilated that lies between the present Moment and next Quarter-day.
The Politician would be contented to lose three Years in his Life, could he place things in the Posture which he fancies they will stand in after such a Revolution of Time. The Lover would be glad to strike out of his Existence all the Moments that are to pass away before the happy Meeting. Thus, as fast as our Time runs, we should be very glad in most Parts of our Lives that it ran much faster than it does. Several Hours of the Day hang upon our Hands, nay we wish away whole Years: and travel through Time as through a Country filled with many wild and empty Wastes, which we would fain hurry over, that we may arrive at those several little Settlements or imaginary Points of Rest which are dispersed up and down in it.
If we divide the Life of most Men into twenty Parts, we shall find that at least nineteen of them are meer Gaps and Chasms, which are neither filled with Pleasure nor Business. I do not however include in this Calculation the Life of those Men who are in a perpetual Hurry of Affairs, but of those only who are not always engaged in Scenes of Action; and I hope I shall not do an unacceptable Piece of Service to these Persons, if I point out to them certain Methods for the filling up their empty Spaces of Life. The Methods I shall propose to them are as follow.
The first is the Exercise of Virtue…
The Man who lives under an habitual Sense of the Divine Presence keeps up a perpetual Chearfulness of Temper, and enjoys every Moment the Satisfaction of thinking himself in Company with his dearest and best of Friends. The Time never lies heavy upon him: It is impossible for him to be alone. His Thoughts and Passions are the most busied at such Hours when those of other Men are the most unactive: He no sooner steps out of the World but his Heart burns with Devotion, swells with Hope, and triumphs in the Consciousness of that Presence which every where surrounds him; or, on the contrary, pours out its Fears, its Sorrows, its Apprehensions, to the great Supporter of its Existence. …
When a Man has but a little Stock to improve, and has opportunities of turning it all to good Account, what shall we think of him if he suffers nineteen Parts of it to lie dead, and perhaps employs even the twentieth to his Ruin or Disadvantage? But because the Mind cannot be always in its Fervours, nor strained up to a Pitch of Virtue, it is necessary to find out proper Employments for it in its Relaxations.
The next Method therefore that I would propose to fill up our Time, should be useful and innocent Diversions. I must confess I think it is below reasonable Creatures to be altogether conversant in such Diversions as are meerly innocent, and have nothing else to recommend them, but that there is no Hurt in them. Whether any kind of Gaming has even thus much to say for it self, I shall not determine; but I think it is very wonderful to see Persons of the best Sense passing away a dozen Hours together in shuffling and dividing a Pack of Cards, with no other Conversation but what is made up of a few Game Phrases, and no other Ideas but those of black or red Spots ranged together in different Figures. Would not a man laugh to hear any one of this Species complaining that Life is short.
The Stage might be made a perpetual Source of the most noble and useful Entertainments, were it under proper Regulations.
But the Mind never unbends itself so agreeably as in the Conversation of a well chosen Friend. There is indeed no Blessing of Life that is any way comparable to the Enjoyment of a discreet and virtuous Friend. It eases and unloads the Mind, clears and improves the Understanding, engenders Thoughts and Knowledge, animates Virtue and good Resolution, sooths and allays the Passions, and finds Employment for most of the vacant Hours of Life. …
A Man that has a Taste of Musick, Painting, or Architecture, is like one that has another Sense when compared with such as have no Relish of those Arts. The Florist, the Planter, the Gardiner, the Husbandman, when they are only as Accomplishments to the Man of Fortune, are great Reliefs to a Country Life, and many ways useful to those who are possessed of them.
But of all the Diversions of Life, there is none so proper to fill up its empty Spaces as the reading of useful and entertaining Authors. But this I shall only touch upon, because it in some Measure interferes with the third Method, which I shall propose in another Paper, for the Employment of our dead unactive Hours, and which I shall only mention in general to be the Pursuit of Knowledge. (Spectator 93)
If Men of Eminence are exposed to Censure on one hand, they are as much liable to Flattery on the other. If they receive Reproaches which are not due to them, they likewise receive Praises which they do not deserve. In a word, the Man in a high Post is never regarded with an indifferent Eye, but always considered as a Friend or an Enemy. For this Reason Persons in great Stations have seldom their true Characters drawn till several Years after their Deaths. (Spectator 101)
Bodily Labour is of two Kinds, either that which a Man submits to for his Livelihood, or that which he undergoes for his Pleasure. The latter of them generally changes the Name of Labour for that of Exercise, but differs only from ordinary Labour as it rises from another Motive.
A Country Life abounds in both these kinds of Labour, and for that Reason gives a Man a greater Stock of Health, and consequently a more perfect Enjoyment of himself, than any other Way of Life. I consider the Body as a System of Tubes and Glands, or to use a more Rustick Phrase, a Bundle of Pipes and Strainers, fitted to one another after so wonderful a Manner as to make a proper Engine for the Soul to work with. This Description does not only comprehend the Bowels, Bones, Tendons, Veins, Nerves and Arteries, but every Muscle, and every Ligature, which is a Composition of Fibres, that are so many imperceptible Tubes or Pipes interwoven on all sides with invisible Glands or Strainers.
This general Idea of a Human Body, without considering it in its Niceties of Anatomy, lets us see how absolutely necessary Labour is for the right Preservation of it. There must be frequent Motions and Agitations, to mix, digest, and separate the Juices contained in it, as well as to clear and cleanse that Infinitude of Pipes and Strainers of which it is composed, and to give their solid Parts a more firm and lasting Tone. Labour or Exercise ferments the Humours, casts them into their proper Channels, throws off Redundancies, and helps Nature in those secret Distributions, without which the Body cannot subsist in its Vigour, nor the Soul act with Chearfulness.
I might here mention the Effects which this has upon all the Faculties of the Mind, by keeping the Understanding clear, the Imagination untroubled, and refining those Spirits that are necessary for the proper Exertion of our intellectual Faculties, during the present Laws of Union between Soul and Body. It is to a Neglect in this Particular that we must ascribe the Spleen, which is so frequent in Men of studious and sedentary Tempers, as well as the Vapours to which those of the other Sex are so often subject.
Had not Exercise been absolutely necessary for our Wellbeing, Nature would not have made the Body so proper for it, by giving such an Activity to the Limbs, and such a Pliancy to every part as necessarily produce those Compressions, Extentions, Contortions, Dilatations, and all other kinds of [Motions] that are necessary for the Preservation of such a System of Tubes and Glands as has been before mentioned. And that we might not want Inducements to engage us in such an Exercise of the Body as is proper for its Welfare, it is so ordered that nothing valuable can be procured without it. Not to mention Riches and Honour, even Food and Raiment are not to be come at without the Toil of the Hands and Sweat of the Brows. Providence furnishes Materials, but expects that we should work them up our selves. The Earth must be laboured before it gives its Encrease, and when it is forced into its several Products, how many Hands must they pass through before they are fit for Use? Manufactures, Trade, and Agriculture, naturally employ more than nineteen Parts of the Species in twenty; and as for those who are not obliged to Labour, by the Condition in which they are born, they are more miserable than the rest of Mankind, unless they indulge themselves in that voluntary Labour which goes by the Name of Exercise. …
There is no kind of Exercise which I would so recommend to my Readers of both Sexes as this of Riding, as there is none which so much conduces to Health, and is every way accommodated to the Body, according to the Idea which I have given of it. Doctor Sydenham is very lavish in its Praises; and if the English Reader will see the Mechanical Effects of it describ’d at length, he may find them in a Book published not many Years since, under the Title of Medicina Gymnastica.  For my own part, when I am in Town, for want of these Opportunities, I exercise myself an hour every Morning upon a dumb Bell that is placed in a Corner of my Room, and pleases me the more because it does every thing I require of it in the most profound Silence. My Landlady and her Daughters are so well acquainted with my Hours of Exercise, that they never come into my Room to disturb me whilst I am ringing.
When I was some Years younger than I am at present, I used to employ myself in a more laborious Diversion, which I learned from a Latin Treatise of Exercises that is written with great Erudition: It is there called the [foreign term], or the fighting with a Man’s own Shadow, and consists in the brandishing of two short Sticks grasped in each Hand, and loaden with Plugs of Lead at either End. This opens the Chest, exercises the Limbs, and gives a Man all the Pleasure of Boxing, without the Blows. I could wish that several Learned Men would lay out that Time which they employ in Controversies and Disputes about nothing, in this Method of fighting with their own Shadows. It might conduce very much to evaporate the Spleen, which makes them uneasy to the Publick as well as to themselves.
To conclude, As I am a Compound of Soul and Body, I consider myself as obliged to a double Scheme of Duties; and I think I have not fulfilled the Business of the Day when I do not thus employ the one in Labour and Exercise, as well as the other in Study and Contemplation. (Spectator 115)
A man’s first Care should be to avoid the Reproaches of his own Heart; his next, to escape the Censures of the World: If the last interferes with the former, it ought to be entirely neglected; but otherwise, there cannot be a greater Satisfaction to an honest Mind, than to see those Approbations which it gives it self seconded by the Applauses of the Publick: A Man is more sure of his Conduct, when the Verdict which he passes upon his own Behaviour is thus warranted and confirmed by the Opinion of all that know him. (Spectator 122)
Nothing that is not real Crime makes a Man appear so contemptible and little in the Eyes of the World as Inconstancy, especially when it regards Religion or Party. In either of these Cases, tho’ a Man perhaps does but his Duty in changing his Side, he not only makes himself hated by those he left, but is seldom heartily esteemed by those he comes over to.
In these great Articles of Life, therefore, a Man’s Conviction ought to be very strong, and if possible so well timed that worldly Advantages may seem to have no Share in it, or Mankind will be ill natured enough to think he does not change Sides out of Principle, but either out of Levity of Temper or Prospects of Interest. Converts and Renegadoes of all Kinds should take particular care to let the World see they act upon honourable Motives; or whatever Approbations they may receive from themselves, and Applauses from those they converse with, they may be very well assured that they are the Scorn of all good Men, and the publick Marks of Infamy and Derision.
Irresolution on the Schemes of Life [which] offer themselves to our Choice, and Inconstancy in pursuing them, are the greatest and most universal Causes of all our Disquiet and Unhappiness. When [Ambition/Honour] pulls one Way, Interest another, Inclination a third, and perhaps Reason contrary to all, a Man is likely to pass his Time but ill who has so many different Parties to please. When the Mind hovers among such a Variety of Allurements, one had better settle on a Way of Life that is not the very best we might have chosen, than grow old without determining our Choice, and go out of the World as the greatest Part of Mankind do, before we have resolved how to live in it. There is but one Method of setting our selves at Rest in this Particular, and that is by adhering stedfastly to one great End as the chief and ultimate Aim of all our Pursuits. If we are firmly resolved to live up to the Dictates of Reason, without any Regard to Wealth, Reputation, or the like Considerations, any more than as they fall in with our principal Design, we may go through Life with Steadiness and Pleasure; but if we act by several broken Views, arid will not only be virtuous, but wealthy, popular, and every thing that has a Value set upon it by the World, we shall live and die in Misery and Repentance.
One would take more than ordinary Care to guard ones self against this particular Imperfection, because it is that which our Nature very strongly inclines us to; for if we examine our selves throughly, we shall find that we are the most changeable Beings in the Universe. In respect of our Understanding, we often embrace and reject the very same Opinions; whereas Beings above and beneath us have probably no Opinions at all, or at least no Wavering and Uncertainties in those they have. Our Superiors are guided by Intuition, and our Inferiors by Instinct. In respect of our Wills, we fall into Crimes and recover out of them, are amiable or odious in the Eyes of our great Judge, and pass our whole Life in offending and asking Pardon. On the contrary, the Beings underneath us are not capable of sinning, nor those above us of repenting. The one is out of the Possibilities of Duty, and the other fixed in an eternal Course of Sin, or an eternal Course of Virtue.
There is scarce a State of Life, or Stage in it which does not produce Changes and Revolutions in the Mind of Man. Our Schemes of Thought in Infancy are lost in those of Youth; these too take a different Turn in Manhood, till old Age often leads us back into our former Infancy. A new Title or an unexpected Success throws us out of ourselves, and in a manner destroys our Identity. > A cloudy Day, or a little Sunshine, have as great an Influence on many Constitutions, as the most real Blessings or Misfortunes. A Dream varies our Being, and changes our Condition while it lasts; and every Passion, not to mention Health and Sickness, and the greater Alterations in Body and Mind, makes us appear almost different Creatures. If a Man is so distinguished among other Beings by this Infirmity, what can we think of such as make themselves remarkable for it even among their own Species? It is a very trifling Character to be one of the most variable Beings of the most variable Kind, especially if we consider that He who is the great Standard of Perfection has in him no Shadow of Change, but is the same Yesterday, To-day, and forever.
As this Mutability of Temper and Inconsistency with ourselves is the greatest Weakness of human Nature, so it makes the Person who is remarkable for it in a very particular Manner more ridiculous than any other Infirmity whatsoever, as it sets him in a greater Variety of foolish Lights, and distinguishes him from himself by an Opposition of party-coloured Characters. … (Spectator 162)
Books are the Legacies that a great Genius leaves to Mankind, which are delivered down from Generation to Generation, as Presents to the Posterity of those who are yet unborn. (Spectator 166)
> The Circumstance which gives Authors an Advantage above all these great Masters [of other arts], is this, that they can multiply their Originals; or rather can make Copies of their Works, to what Number they please, which shall be as valuable as the Originals themselves. This gives a great Author something like a Prospect of Eternity, but at the same time deprives him of those other Advantages which Artists meet with. The Artist finds greater Returns in Profit, as the Author in Fame. What an Inestimable Price would a Virgil or a Homer, a Cicero or an Aristotle bear, were their Works like a Statue, a Building, or a Picture, to be confined only in one Place and made the Property of a single Person?
> If Writings are thus durable, and may pass from Age to Age throughout the whole Course of Time, how careful should an Author be of committing any thing to Print that may corrupt Posterity, and poison the Minds of Men with Vice and Error? Writers of great Talents, who employ their Parts in propagating Immorality, and seasoning vicious Sentiments with Wit and Humour, are to be looked upon as the Pests of Society, and the Enemies of Mankind: They leave Books behind them (as it is said of those who die in Distempers which breed an Ill-will towards their own Species) to scatter Infection and destroy their Posterity. They act the Counterparts of a Confucius or a Socrates; and seem to have been sent into the World to deprave human Nature, and sink it into the Condition of Brutality. (Spectator 166)
> There can be no greater Injury to humane Society than that good Talents among Men should be held honour able to those who are endowed with them without any Regard how they are applied. The Gifts of Nature and Accomplishments of Art are valuable, but as they are exerted in the Interest of Virtue, or governed by the Rules of Honour. We ought to abstract our Minds from the Observation of any Excellence in those we converse with, till we have taken some Notice, or received some good Information of the Disposition of their Minds; otherwise the Beauty of their Persons, or the Charms of their Wit, may make us fond of those whom our Reason and Judgment will tell us we ought to abhor.
When we suffer our selves to be thus carried away by meer Beauty, or meer Wit, Omniamante, with all her Vice, will bear away as much of our Good-will as the most innocent Virgin or discreetest Matron; and there cannot be a more abject Slavery in this World, than to doat upon what we think we ought to to contemn: Yet this must be our Condition in all the Parts of Life, if we suffer our selves to approve any Thing but what tends to the Promotion of what is good and honourable. If we would take true Pains with our selves to consider all Things by the Light of Reason and Justice, tho’ a Man were in the Height of Youth and amorous Inclinations, he would look upon a Coquet with the same Contempt or Indifference as he would upon a Coxcomb: The wanton Carriage in a Woman, would disappoint her of the Admiration which she aims at; and the vain Dress or Discourse of a Man would destroy the Comeliness of his Shape, or Goodness of his Understanding. I say the Goodness of his Understanding, for it is no less common to see Men of Sense commence Coxcombs, than beautiful Women become Immodest. When this happens ill either, the Favour we are naturally inclined to give to the good Qualities they have from Nature, should abate ill Proportion. But however just it is to measure the Value of Men by the Application of their Talents, and not by the Eminence of those Qualities abstracted from their Use; I say, however just such a Way of judging is, in all Ages as well as this, the Contrary has prevailed upon the Generality of Mankind. How many lewd Devices have been preserved from one Age to another, which had perished as soon as they were made, if Painters and Sculptors had been esteemed as much for the Purpose as the Execution of their Designs? Modest and well-governed Imaginations have by this Means lost the Representations of Ten Thousand charming Portraitures, filled with Images of innate Truth, generous Zeal, couragious Faith, and tender Humanity; instead of which, Satyrs, Furies, and Monsters are recommended by those Arts to a shameful Eternity.
The unjust Application of laudable Talents, is tolerated, in the general Opinion of Men, not only in such Cases as are here mentioned, but also in Matters which concern ordinary Life. If a Lawyer were to be esteemed only as he uses his Parts in contending for Justice, and were immediately despicable when he appeared in a Cause which he could not but know was an unjust one, how honourable would his Character be? And how honourable is it in such among us, who follow the Profession no otherwise than as labouring to protect the Injured, to subdue the Oppressor, to imprison the careless Debtor, and do right to the painful Artificer? But many of this excellent Character are overlooked by the greater Number; who affect covering a weak Place in a Client’s Title, diverting the Course of an Enquiry, or finding a skilful Refuge to palliate a Falsehood: Yet it is still called Eloquence in the latter, though thus unjustly employed; but Resolution in an Assassin is according to Reason quite as laudable, as Knowledge and Wisdom exercised in the Defence of an ill Cause.
Were the Intention stedfastly considered, as the Measure of Approbation, all Falsehood would soon be out of Countenance; and an Address in imposing upon Mankind, would be as contemptible in one State of Life as another. A Couple of Courtiers making Professions of Esteem, would make the same Figure under Breach of Promise, as two Knights of the Post convicted of Perjury. But Conversation is fallen so low in point of Morality, that as they say in a Bargain, Let the Buyer look to it; so in Friendship, he is the Man in Danger who is most apt to believe: He is the more likely to suffer in the Commerce, who begins with the Obligation of being the more ready to enter into it.
>>>> But those Men only are truly great, who place their Ambition rather in acquiring to themselves the Conscience of worthy Enterprizes, than in the Prospect of Glory which attends them. These exalted Spirits would rather be secretly the Authors of Events which are serviceable to Mankind, than, without being such, to have the publick Fame of it. Where therefore: an eminent Merit is robbed by Artifice or Detraction, it does but encrease by such Endeavours of its Enemies: The impotent Pains which are taken to sully it, or diffuse it among a Crowd to the Injury of a single Person, will naturally produce the contrary Effect; the Fire will blaze out, and burn up all that attempt to smother what they cannot extinguish.
>>>> There is but one thing necessary to keep the Possession of true Glory, which is, to hear the Opposers of it with Patience, and preserve the Virtue by which it was acquired. When a Man is thoroughly perswaded that he ought neither to admire, wish for, or pursue anything but what is exactly his Duty, it is not in the Power of Seasons, Persons, or Accidents to diminish his Value: He only is a great Man who can neglect the Applause of the Multitude, and enjoy himself independent of its Favour. This is indeed an arduous Task; but it should comfort a glorious Spirit that it is the highest Step to which human Nature can arrive. Triumph, Applause, Acclamation, are dear to the Mind of Man; but it is still a more exquisite Delight to say to your self, you have done well, than to hear the whole human Race pronounce you glorious, except you your self can join with them in your own Reflections. A Mind thus equal and uniform may be deserted by little fashionable Admirers and Followers, but will ever be had in Reverence by Souls like it self. The Branches of the Oak endure all the Seasons of the Year, though its Leaves fall off in Autumn; and these too will be restored with the returning Spring. (Spectator 172)
When I reflect upon the various Fate of those Multitudes of Ancient Writers who flourished in Greece and Italy, I consider Time as an Immense Ocean, in which many noble Authors are entirely swallowed up, many very much shattered and damaged, Some quite disjointed and broken into pieces, while some have wholly escaped the Common Wreck; but the Number of the last is very small. (Spectator 223)
There are many more shining Qualities in the Mind of Man, but there is none so useful as Discretion; it is this indeed which gives a Value to all the rest, which sets them at work in their proper Times and Places, and turns them to the Advantage of the Person who is possessed of them. Without it Learning is Pedantry, and Wit Impertinence; Virtue itself looks like Weakness; the best Parts only qualify a Man to be more sprightly in Errors, and active to his own Prejudice.(Spectator 225)
But notwithstanding an Excess of Modesty obstructs the Tongue, and renders it unfit for its Offices, a due Proportion of it is thought so requisite to an Orator, that Rhetoricians have recommended it to their Disciples as a Particular in their Art. Cicero tells us that he never liked an Orator who did not appear in some little Confusion at the Beginning of his Speech, and confesses that he himself never entered upon an Oration without Trembling and Concern. It is indeed a kind of Deference which is due to a great Assembly, and seldom fails to raise a Benevolence in the Audience towards the Person who speaks, My Correspondent has taken notice that the bravest Men often appear timorous on these Occasions, as indeed we may observe, that there is generally no Creature more impudent than a Coward.—“Linguâ melior, sed frigida bello Dextera”—A bold Tongue and a feeble Arm are the Qualifications of Drances in Virgil, as Homer, to express a Man both timorous and sawcy, makes use of a kind of Point, which is very rarely to be met with in his Writings; namely, that he had the Eyes of a Dog, but the Heart of a Deer.
A just and reasonable Modesty does not only recommend Eloquence, but sets off every great Talent which a Man can be possessed of. It heightens all the Virtues which it accompanies like the Shades in Paintings, it raises and rounds every Figure, and makes the Colours more beautiful, though not so glaring as they would be without it.
Modesty is not only an Ornament, but also a Guard to Virtue. It is a kind of quick and delicate Feeling in the Soul, which makes her shrink and withdraw her self from every thing that has Danger in it. It is such an exquisite Sensibility, as warns her to shun the first Appearance of every thing which is hurtful. …
If Modesty has so great an Influence over our Actions and is in many Cases so impregnable a Fence to Virtue; what can more undermine Morality than that Politeness which reigns among the unthinking Part of Mankind, and treats as unfashionable the most ingenuous Part of our Behaviour; which recommends Impudence as good Breeding, and keeps a Man always in Countenance, not because he is Innocent, but because he is Shameless?
Seneca thought Modesty so great a Check to Vice, that he prescribes to us the Practice of it in Secret, and advises us to raise it in ourselves upon imaginary Occasions, when such as are real do not offer themselves; for this is the Meaning of his Precept, that when we are by ourselves, and in our greatest Solitudes, we should fancy that Cato stands before us, and sees everything we do. In short, if you banish Modesty out of the World, she carries away with her half the Virtue that is in it.
After these Reflections on Modesty, as it is a Virtue; I must observe, that there is a vicious Modesty, which justly deserves to be ridiculed, and which those Persons very often discover, who value themselves most upon a well-bred Confidence. This happens when a Man is ashamed to act up to his Reason, and would not upon any Consideration be surprized in the Practice of those Duties, for the Performance of which he was sent into the World. Many an impudent Libertine would blush to be caught in a serious Discourse, and would scarce be able to show his Head, after having disclosed a religious Thought. Decency of Behaviour, all outward Show of Virtue, and Abhorrence of Vice, are carefully avoided by this Set of Shame-faced People, as what would disparage their Gayety of Temper, and infallibly bring them to Dishonour. This is such a Poorness of Spirit, such a despicable Cowardice, such a degenerate abject State of Mind, as one would think Human Nature incapable of, did we not meet with frequent Instances of it in ordinary Conversation.
There is another Kind of vicious Modesty which makes a Man ashamed of his Person, his Birth, his Profession, his Poverty, or the like Misfortunes, which it was not in his Choice to prevent, and is not in his Power to rectify. If a Man appears ridiculous by any of the afore-mentioned Circumstances, he becomes much more so by being out of Countenance for them. They should rather give him Occasion to exert a noble Spirit, and to palliate thoseImperfections which are not in his Power, by those Perfections which are; or to use a very witty Allusion of an eminent Author, he should imitate Cćsar, who, because his Head was bald, cover’d that Defect with Laurels. (Spectator 231)
The Talent of turning Men into Ridicule, and exposing to Laughter those one converses with, is the Qualification of little ungenerous Tempers. A young Man with this Cast of Mind cuts himself off from all manner of Improvement. Every one has his Flaws and Weaknesses; nay, the greatest Blemishes are often found in the most shining Characters; but what an absurd Thing is it to pass over all the valuable Parts of a Man, and fix our Attention on his Infirmities to observe his Imperfections more than his Virtues; and to make use of him for the Sport of others, rather than for our own Improvement?
We therefore very often find, that Persons the most accomplished in Ridicule are those who are very shrewd at hitting a Blot, without exerting any thing masterly in themselves. As there are many eminent Criticks who never writ a good Line, there are many admirable Buffoons that animadvert upon every single Defect in another, without ever discovering the least Beauty of their own. By this Means, these unlucky little Wits often gain Reputation in the Esteem of Vulgar Minds, and raise themselves above Persons of much more laudable Characters.
If the Talent of Ridicule were employed to laugh Men out of Vice and Folly, it might be of some Use to the World; but instead of this, we find that it is generally made use of to laugh Men out of Virtue and good Sense, by attacking every thing that is Solemn and Serious, Decent and Praiseworthy in Human Life. (Spectator 249)
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 Prosecutions of his Designs. As this is the End of the Passions in general, so it is particularly of Ambition, which pushes 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.
It was necessary for the World, that Arts should be invented and improved, Books written and transmitted to Posterity, Nations conquered and civilized: Now since the proper and genuine Motives to these and the like great Actions, would only influence virtuous Minds; there would be but small Improvements in the World, were there not some common Principle of Action working equally with all Men. And such a Principle is Ambition or a Desire of Fame, by which great/all-great Endowments are not suffered to lie idle and useless to the Publick, and many vicious Men over-reached, 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 Abilities 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-his-own/the-sense-of-their-own Incapacities makes him/them despair of coming at Fame, or that he-has/they-have not enough range of Thought to look out for any Good which does not more immediately relate to his/their Interest or Convenience, or that Providence, in the very Frame of his-Soul/their-Souls would not subject him/them to such a Passion as would be useless to the World, and a Torment to himself/themselves.
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 Dispensation 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.
And 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 by the Ignorance, Prejudice or Envy of their Beholders? 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 purposely misrepresent or put a wrong Interpretation 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 Salust’s Remark upon Cato, that the less he coveted Glory, the more he acquired it.
Men take an ill-natur’d 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 it self) 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 a lessening to his Reputation. He is still afraid lest any of his Actions should be thrown away in private, lest his Deserts should be concealed from the Notice of the World, or receive any Disadvantage from the Reports which others make of them. This often sets him on empty Boasts and Ostentations of himself, and betrays him into vain fantastick Recitals of his own Performances: His Discourse generally 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 tho’ his Actions are never so glorious, they lose their Lustre when they are drawn at large, and set to show by his own 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.
Besides this very Desire of Fame is looked on as a Meanness and/and-an Imperfection in the greatest Character. 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 our selves 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 disinterested Love to Mankind, or by a generous Passion for the Glory of him that made us.
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/and sooth the Vanity of the Ambitious Man, and since this very Thirst after Fame naturally betrays him into such In-decencies as are a lessening to his Reputation, and is it self 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. (Spectator 255)
There are many Passions and Tempers of Mind which naturally dispose us to depress and vilify the Merit of one rising in the Esteem of Mankind. All those who made their Entrance into the World with the same Advantages, and were once looked on as his Equals, are apt to think the Fame of his Merits a Reflection on their own Indeserts; and will therefore take care to reproach him with the Scandal of some past Action, or derogate from the Worth of the present, 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 Reputation 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 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 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 raising an imaginary Applause to themselves for resembling a Person of an exalted Reputation, 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 Satyr 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 Description 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 apiece 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/Parts 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 confess’d, 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 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 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-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/Name 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 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.
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 awhile 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 so much satisfy the present Thirst, as it excites fresh Desires, and sets the Soul on new Enterprises. For how few ambitious Men are there, who have got as much Fame as they desired, and whose Thirst 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 Circumstance in Cćsar’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 Lift and Fame, Se satis vel ad Naturam, vel ad Gloriam vixtisse. 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 seldom from a full Satisfaction and Acquiescence in their present Enjoyments of it.
Nor is Fame only unsatisfying in it self, but the Desire 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, since few Men have so good an Opinion of us as we have of our selves? 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 dejected by their Censures. How little therefore is the Happiness of an ambitious Man, who gives everyone 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.
We may further observe, that such a Man will be more grieved for the Loss of Fame, than be 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 Reproaches which are offered us, but are disappointed by the Silence of Men when it is unexpected; and humbled even by their Praises. (Spectator 256)
I have always preferred Chearfulness to Mirth. The latter, I consider as an Act, the former as an Habit of the Mind. Mirth is short and transient. Chearfulness fixed and permanent. Those are often raised into the greatest Transports of Mirth, who are subject to the greatest Depressions of Melancholy: On the contrary, Chearfulness, tho’ it does
not give the Mind such an exquisite Gladness, prevents us from falling into any Depths of Sorrow. Mirth is like a Flash of Lightning, that breaks thro a Gloom of Clouds, and glitters for a Moment; Chearfulness keeps up a kind of Day-light in the Mind, and fills it with a steady and perpetual Serenity.
Men of austere Principles look upon Mirth as too wanton and dissolute for a State of Probation, and as filled with a certain Triumph and Insolence of Heart, that is inconsistent with a Life which is every Moment obnoxious to the greatest Dangers. Writers of this Complexion have observed, that the sacred Person who was the great Pattern of
Perfection was never seen to Laugh.
Chearfulness of Mind is not liable to any of these Exceptions; it is of a serious and composed Nature, it does not throw the Mind into a Condition improper for the present State of Humanity, and is very conspicuous in the Characters of those who are looked upon as the greatest Philosophers among the Heathens, as well as among those who have been deservedly esteemed as Saints and Holy Men among Christians.
If we consider Chearfulness in three Lights, with regard to our selves, to those we converse with, and to the great Author of our Being, it will not a little recommend it self on each of these Accounts. The Man who is possessed of this excellent Frame of Mind, is not only easy in his Thoughts, but a perfect Master of all the Powers and Faculties of his Soul: His Imagination is always clear, and his Judgment undisturbed: His Temper is even and unruffled, whether in Action or in Solitude. He comes with a Relish to all those Goods which Nature has provided for him, tastes all the Pleasures of the Creation which are poured about him, and does not feel the full Weight of those accidental Evils which may befall him.
If we consider him in relation to the Persons whom he converses with, it naturally produces Love and Good-will towards him. A chearful Mind is not only disposed to be affable and obliging, but raises the same good Humour in those who come within its Influence. A Man finds himself pleased, he does not know why, with the Chearfulness of his Companion: It is like a sudden Sun-shine that awakens a secret Delight in the Mind, without her attending to it. The Heart rejoices of its own accord, and naturally flows out into Friendship and Benevolence towards the Person who has so kindly an Effect upon it.
When I consider this chearful State of Mind in its third Relation, I cannot but look upon it as a constant habitual Gratitude to the great Author of Nature. An inward Chearfulness is an implicit Praise and Thanksgiving to Providence under all its Dispensations. It is a kind of Acquiescence in the State wherein we are placed, and a secret Approbation of the Divine Will in his Conduct towards Man.
There are but two things which, in my Opinion, can reasonably deprive us of this Chearfulness of Heart. The first of these is the Sense of Guilt. A Man who lives in a State of Vice and Impenitence, can have no Title to that Evenness and Tranquillity of Mind which is the Health of the Soul, and the natural Effect of Virtue and Innocence. Chearfulness in an ill Man deserves a harder Name than Language can furnish us with, and is many degrees beyond what we commonly call Folly or Madness.
Atheism, by which I mean a Disbelief of a Supreme Being, and consequently of a future State, under whatsoever Titles it shelters it self, may likewise very reasonably deprive a Man of this Chearfulness of Temper. There is something so particularly gloomy and offensive to human Nature in the Prospect of Non-Existence, that I cannot but wonder, with many excellent Writers, how it is possible for a Man to out-live the Expectation of it. For my own Part, I think the Being of a God is so little to be doubted, that it is almost the only Truth we are sure of, and such a Truth as we meet with in every Object, in every Occurrence, and in every Thought. If we look into the Characters of this Tribe of Infidels, we generally find they are made up of Pride, Spleen, and Cavil: It is indeed no wonder, that Men, who are uneasy to themselves, should be so to the rest of the World; and how is it possible for a Man to be otherwise than uneasy in himself, who is in danger every Moment of losing his entire Existence, and dropping into Nothing?
The vicious Man and Atheist have therefore no Pretence to Chearfulness, and would act very unreasonably, should they endeavour after it. It is impossible for any one to live in Good-Humour, and enjoy his present Existence, who is apprehensive either of Torment or of Annihilation; of being miserable, or of not being at all. …
A Man, who uses his best endeavours to live according to the Dictates of Virtue and right Reason, has two perpetual Sources of Chearfulness; in the Consideration of his own Nature, and of that Being on whom he has a Dependance. If he looks into himself, he cannot but rejoice in that Existence, which is so lately bestowed upon him, and which, after Millions of Ages, will be still new, and still in its Beginning. How many Self-Congratulations naturally arise in the Mind, when it reflects on this its Entrance into Eternity, when it takes a View of those improveable Faculties, which in a few Years, and even at its first setting out, have made so considerable a Progress, and which will be still receiving an Increase of Perfection, and consequently an Increase of Happiness? The Consciousness of such a Being spreads a perpetual Diffusion of Joy through the Soul of a virtuous Man, and makes him look upon himself every Moment as more happy than he knows how to conceive.
The second Source of Chearfulness to a good Mind, is its Consideration of that Being on whom we have our Dependance, and in whom, though we behold him as yet but in the first faint Discoveries of his Perfections, we see every thing that we can imagine as great, glorious, or amiable. We find our selves every where upheld by his Goodness, and surrounded with an Immensity of Love and Mercy. In short, we depend upon a Being, whose Power qualifies him to make us happy by an Infinity of Means, whose Goodness and Truth engage him to make those happy who desire it of him, and whose Unchangeableness will secure us in this Happiness to all Eternity. (Spectator 381)
Chearfulness is, in the first place, the best Promoter of Health. …
The truth of it is, Health and Chearfulness mutually beget each other; with this difference, that we seldom meet with a great degree of Health which is not attended with a certain Chearfulness, but very often see Chearfulness where there is no great degree of Health.
Chearfulness bears the same friendly regard to the Mind as to the Body: It banishes all anxious Care and Discontent, sooths and composes the Passions, and keeps the Soul in a Perpetual Calm. (Spectator 387)
There is nothing which we receive with so much Reluctance as Advice. We look upon the Man who gives it us as offering an Affront to our Understanding, and treating us like Children or Ideots. We consider the Instruction as an implicit Censure, and the Zeal which any one shews for our Good on such an Occasion as a Piece of Presumption or Impertinence. The Truth of it is, the Person who pretends to advise, does, in that particular, exercise a Superiority over us, and can have no other Reason for it, but that in comparing us with himself, he thinks us defective either in our Conduct or our Understanding. For these Reasons, there is nothing so difficult as the Art of making Advice agreeable; and indeed all the Writers, both Ancient and Modern, have distinguished themselves among one another, according to the Perfection at which they have arrived in this Art. How many Devices have been made use of, to render this bitter Potion palatable? Some convey their Instructions to us in the best chosen Words, others in the most harmonious Numbers, some in Points of Wit, and others in short Proverbs.
In the next place, if we look into human Nature, we shall find that the Mind is never so much pleased, as when she exerts her self in any Action that gives her an Idea of her own Perfections and Abilities. This natural Pride and Ambition of the Soul is very much gratified in the reading of a Fable: for in Writings of this kind, the Reader comes in for half of the Performance; every thing appears to him like a Discovery of his own; he is busied all the while in applying Characters and Circumstances, and is in this respect both a Reader and a Composer. It is no wonder therefore that on such Occasions, when the Mind is thus pleased with it self, and amused with its own Discoveries, that it is highly delighted with the Writing which is the occasion of it. For this reason the Absalom and Achitophel was one of the most popular Poems that ever appeared in English. The poetry is indeed very fine, but had it been much finer, it would not have so much pleased, without a plan which gave the Reader an Opportunity of exerting his own Talents.
This oblique manner of giving Advice is so inoffensive, that if we look into ancient Histories, we find the wise Men of old very often chose to give Counsel to their Kings in Fables. (Spectator 512)
I design this Paper as a Speculation upon that vain and foolish Hope, which is misemployed on Temporal Objects, and produces many Sorrows and Calamities in human Life.
It is a Precept several times inculcated by Horace, that we should not entertain an Hope of any thing in Life which lies at a great Distance from us. The Shortness and Uncertainty of our Time here, makes such a kind of Hope unreasonable and absurd. The Grave lies unseen between us and the Object which we reach after: Where one Man lives to enjoy the Good he has in view, ten thousand are cut off in the Pursuit of it.
It happens likewise unluckily, that one Hope no sooner dies in us but another rises up in its stead. We are apt to fancy that we shall be happy and satisfied if we possess ourselves of such and such particular Enjoyments; but either by reason of their Emptiness, or the natural Inquietude of the Mind, we have no sooner gained one Point but we extend our Hopes to another. We still find new inviting Scenes and Landskips lying behind those which at a Distance terminated our View.
The natural Consequences of such Reflections are these; that we should take Care not to let our Hopes run out into too great a Length; that we should sufficiently weigh the Objects of our Hope, whether they be such as we may reasonably expect from them what we propose in their Fruition, and whether they are such as we are pretty sure of attaining, in case our Life extend itself so far. If we hope for things which are at too great a Distance from, us, it is possible that we may be intercepted by Death in our Progress towards them. If we hope for things of which we have not thoroughly considered the value, our Disappointment will be greater than our Pleasure in the Fruition of them. If we hope for what we are not likely to possess, we act and think in vain, and make Life a greater Dream and Shadow than it really is.
Many of the Miseries and Misfortunes of Life proceed from our Want of Consideration, in one or all of these Particulars. They are the Rocks on which the sanguine Tribe of Lovers daily split, and on which the Bankrupt, the Politician, the Alchymist and Projector are cast away in every Age. Men of warm Imaginations and towring Thoughts are apt to overlook the Goods of Fortune [which are] near them, for something that glitters in the Sight at a distance; to neglect solid and substantial Happiness, for what is showy and superficial; and to contemn that Good which lies within their reach, for that which they are not capable of attaining. Hope calculates its Schemes for a long and durable Life; presses forward to imaginary Points of Bliss; and grasps at Impossibilities; and consequently very often ensnares Men into Beggary, Ruin and Dishonour.
What I have here said, may serve as a Moral to an _Arabian_ Fable, which
I find translated into _French_ by Monsieur _Galland_. 
The Fable has in it such a wild, but natural Simplicity, that I question not but my Reader will be as much pleased with it as I have been, and that he will consider himself, if he reflects on the several Amusements of Hope which have sometimes passed in his Mind, as a near Relation to the _Persian_ Glass-Man.
_Alnaschar_, says the Fable, was a very idle Fellow, that never would set his Hand to any Business during his Father's Life. When his Father died, he left him to the value of an hundred Drachmas in _Persian_ Mony. _Alnaschar_, in order to make the best of it, laid it out in Glasses, Bottles, and the finest Earthen Ware. These he piled up in a large open Basket, and having made choice of a very little Shop, placed the Basket at his Feet, and leaned his Back upon the Wall, in Expectation of Customers. As he sat in this Posture with his Eyes upon the Basket, he fell into a most amusing Train of Thought, and was over-heard by one of his Neighbours, as he talked to himself in the following manner: _This Basket_, says he, _cost me at the Wholesale Merchant’s an Hundred Drachmas, which is all I have in the World. I shall quickly make two hundred of it, by selling it in Retail. These two hundred_ _Drachmas will in a very little while rise to four
Hundred, which of course will amount in time to four Thousand. Four Thousand Drachmas cannot fail of making Eight Thousand. As soon as by this means I am Master of Ten Thousand, I will lay aside my Trade of a Glass-Man, and turn Jeweller. I shall then deal in Diamonds, Pearls, and all sorts of rich Stones. When I have got together as much Wealth as I can well desire, I will make a Purchase of the finest House I can find, with Lands, Slaves, Eunuchs and Horses. I shall then begin to enjoy my self, and make a noise in the World. I will not, however, stop there, but still continue my Traffick, till I have got together an Hundred Thousand Drachmas. When I have thus made my self Master of an hundred thousand Drachmas, I shall naturally set my self on the foot of a Prince, and will demand the Grand _Visier's_ Daughter in Marriage, after having represented to that Minister the Information which I have received of the Beauty, Wit, Discretion, and other high Qualities which his Daughter possesses. I will let him know at the same time, that it is my Intention to make him a Present of a thousand Pieces of Gold on our Marriage-Night. As soon as I have married the Grand _Visier's_ Daughter, I'll buy her ten black Eunuchs, the youngest and best that can be got for Mony. I must afterwards make my Father-in-Law a Visit with a great Train and Equipage. And when I am placed at his Right-hand, which he will do of course, if it be only to Honour his Daughter, I will give him the thousand Pieces of Gold which I promised him, and afterwards, to his great Surprize, will present him another Purse of the same Value, with some short Speech; as,_ Sir, you see I am a Man of my Word: I always give more than I promise.
_When I have brought the Princess to my House, I shall take particular care to breed in her a due Respect for me, before I give the Reins to Love and Dalliance. To this end I shall confine her to her own Apartment, make her a short Visit, and talk but little to her. Her Women will represent to me, that she is inconsolable by reason of my Unkindness, and beg me with Tears to caress her, and let her sit down by me; but I shall still remain inexorable, and will turn my Back upon her all the first Night. Her Mother will then come and bring her Daughter to me, as I am seated upon my Sofa. The Daughter, with Tears in her Eyes, will fling herself at my Feet, and beg of me to receive her into my Favour: Then will I, to imprint in her a thorough Veneration for my Person, draw up my Legs and spurn her from me with my Foot, in such a manner that she shall fall down several Paces from
Alnaschar_ was entirely swallowed up in this Chimerical Vision, and could not forbear acting with his Foot what he had in his Thoughts: So that unluckily striking his Basket of brittle Ware, which was the Foundation of all his Grandeur, he kicked his Glasses to a great distance from him into the Street, and broke them into ten thousand
Pieces. (Spectator 535)
No Vices are so incurable as those which Men are apt to glory in. One would wonder how Drunkenness should have the good Luck to be of this Number. …
…A drunken Man is a greater Monster than any that is to be found among all the Creatures which God has made; as indeed there is no Character which appears more despicable and deformed, in the Eyes of all reasonable Persons, than that of a Drunkard. … This Vice has very fatal Efects on the Mind, the Body, and Fortune of the Person who is devoted to it. (Spectator 569)
This Virtue [Content] does indeed produce, in some measure, all those Effects which the Alchymist usually ascribes to what he calls the Philosopher’s Stone; and if it does not bring Riches, it does the same thing, by banishing the Desire of them. If it cannot remove the Disquietudes arising out of a Man’s Mind, Body, or Fortune, it makes him easie under
them. It has indeed a kindly Influence on the Soul of Man, in respect of every Being to whom he stands related. It extinguishes all Murmur, Repining, and Ingratitude towards that Being who has allotted him his Part to act in this World. It destroys all inordinate Ambition, and every Tendency to Corruption, with regard to the Community wherein he is placed. It gives Sweetness to his Conversation, and a perpetual Serenity
to all his Thoughts.
Among the many Methods which might be made use of for the acquiring of
this Virtue, I shall only mention the two following. First of all, A Man
should always consider how much he has more than he wants; and Secondly,
How much more unhappy he might be than he really is.
… The Truth is, this ridiculous Chace after imaginary Pleasures cannot be sufficiently exposed, as it is the great Source of those Evils which generally undo a
I shall therefore recommend to the Consideration of those who are always aiming after superfluous and imaginary Enjoyments, and will not be at the Trouble of
contracting their Desires, an excellent Saying of Bion the Philosopher; namely, That no Man has so much Care, as he who endeavours after the most Happiness. …
Upon the whole, a contented Mind is the greatest Blessing a Man can enjoy in this World; and if in the present Life his Happiness arises from the subduing of his Desires, it will arise in the next from the Gratification of them. (Spectator 574)
Were all the Vexations of Life put together, we should find that a great Part of them proceed from those Calumnies and Reproaches which we spread abroad concerning one another.
There is scarce a Man living who is not, in some Degree, guilty of this Offence; tho’, at the same time, however we treat one another, it must be confessed, that we all consent in speaking ill of the Persons who are notorious for this Practice. It generally takes its Rise either from an Ill-will to Mankind, a private Inclination to make our selves esteemed, an Ostentation of Wit, a Vanity of being thought in the Secrets of the World, or from a Desire of gratifying any of these Dispositions of Mind in those Persons with whom we converse.
The Publisher of Scandal is more or less odious to Mankind, and criminal in himself, as he is influenced by any one or more of the foregoing Motives. But whatever may be the Occasion of spreading these false Reports, he ought to consider, that the Effect of them is equally prejudicial and pernicious to the Person at whom they are aimed. The Injury is the same, tho’ the Principle from whence it proceeds may be different.
As every one looks upon himself with too much Indulgence, when he passes a Judgment on his own Thoughts or Actions, and as very few would be thought guilty of this abominable Proceeding, which is so universally practised, and, at the same time, so universally blamed, I shall lay down three Rules by which I would have a Man examine and search into his own Heart, before he stands acquitted to himself of that evil Disposition of Mind which I am here mentioning.
First of all, Let him consider whether he does not take Delight in hearing the Faults of others.
Secondly , Whether he is not too apt to believe such little blackning Accounts, and more inclined to be credulous on the uncharitable than on the good-natured Side.
Thirdly , Whether he is not ready to spread and propagate such Reports as tend to the Disreputation of another.
These are the several Steps by which this Vice proceeds, and grows up into Slander and Defamation.
In the first Place, A Man who takes delight in hearing the Faults of others, shows sufficiently that he has a true Relish of Scandal, and consequently the Seeds of this Vice within him. If his mind is gratified with hearing the Reproaches [which] are cast on others, he will find the same Pleasure in relating them, and be the more apt to do it, as he will naturally imagine every one he converses with is delighted in the same manner with himself. A Man should endeavour therefore to wear out of his Mind this criminal Curiosity, which is perpetually heightened and inflamed by listening to such Stories as tend to the Disreputation of others.
In the second Place, a Man should consult his own Heart, whether he be not apt to believe such little blackening Accounts, and more enclined to be credulous on the uncharitable, than on the good-natured Side.
Such a Credulity is very vicious in it self, and generally arises from a Man’s Consciousness of his own secret Corruptions. It is a pretty Saying of Thales, Falshood is just as far distant from Truth, as the Ears are from the Eyes.
By which he would intimate, that a wise Man should not easily give Credit to the Reports of Actions which he has not seen. …
In the third Place, a Man should examine his Heart, whether he does not find in it a secret Inclination to propagate such Reports, as tend to the Disreputation of another.
When the Disease of the Mind, which I have hitherto been speaking of, arises to this Degree of Malignity it discovers its self in its worst Symptoms, and is in danger of becoming incurable. I need not therefore insist upon the Guilt in this last Particular, which every one cannot but disapprove, who is not void of Humanity, or even common Discretion. I shall only add, that whatever Pleasure any Man may take in spreading Whispers of this Nature, he will find an infinitely greater Satisfaction in conquering the Temptation he is under, by letting the Secret die within his own Breast. (Spectator 594)
The honors of this world, what are they but puff, and emptiness, and peril of falling? (Author?)
? The utmost extent of man’s knowledge, is to know that he knows nothing.
Education is a companion which no misfortune can depress, no crime can destroy, no enemy can alienate, no despotism can enslave. At home, a friend, abroad, an introduction, in solitude a solace and in society an ornament. It chastens vice, it guides virtue, it gives at once grace and government to genius. Without it, what is man? A splendid slave, a reasoning savage. (Author?)
? The way to heaven lies open indifferently to all. (Spectator not Addison)
Nature does nothing without purpose or uselessly. (Author?)