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TRIDAY, OCTOBER 5, 1711.
Lætus sum laudari à te laudato viro.
" It gives me pleasure to be praised by you, whom all men “ praise.”
PRAISE TO BE ESTIMATED ACCORDING TO THE WISDOM
AND MERIT OF THOSE WHO BESTOW IT.
He is 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 metoure 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 charace ter 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 coblers their presents again, and learn to live of yourself." *
It is an argument of a loose and ungoverne 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
Tollat sua munera cerdo
PERS. SAT. iv. SECT. 51.
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 may be esteemed true praise : for with the common rate 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 Lacedemonians, 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 crouds; 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 croud 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 circumstances 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 hands, and put into another's. The application only, and not the pos
session, makes those outward things honourable. The vulgar and men of sense agree in admiring men for hav, ing 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.
When a man is in this way of thinking, I do not know what can occur to one more monstrous, than to see persons of ingenuity address their services and performances to men no way addicted to liberal arts. In these cases, the praise on one hand, and the patronage on the other, are equally the objects of ridicule. Dedications to ignorant men are as absurd as any of the speeches of Bulfinch in the Droll. Such an address one is apt to translate into other words; and when the different parties are thoroughly considered, the panegyric generally implies no more than if the author should say to the patron; “ My very good Lord, you and I can never understand one another, therefore I humbly desire we may be intimate friends for the future.”
The rich may as well ask to borrow of the poor, as the man of virtue or merit hope for addition to his character from any but such as himself. He that commends another engages so much of his own reputation as he gives to, that person commended; and he that has nothing laudable in himself is not of ability to be such a surety. The wise Phocion was so sensible how dangerous it was to be touched with what the multitude approved, that upon a general acclamation made when he was making an oration, he turned to an intelligent friend who stood near him, and asked in a surprising manner, What slip have I made ?
I shall conclude this paper with a billet which has fallen into my hands, and was written to a lady from a gentleman whom she had highly commended. The author of it had formerly been her lover. When all possibility of commerce between them on the subject of love was cut off, she spoke so handsomely of him, as to give occasion to this letter.
MADAM, I Should be insensible to a stupidity, if I could forbear making you my acknowledgments for your late mention of me with so much applause. It is, I think, your fate to give me new sentiments : as you formerly inspired me with the true sense of love, so do you now with the true sense of glory. As desire had the least part in the passion I heretofore professed towards you, so has vanity no share in the glory to which
have now raised me.
Innocence, knowledge, beauty, virtue, sincerity, and discretion, are the constant ornaments of her who has said this to me. Fame is a babbler, but I have arrived at the highest glory in this world, the commendation of the most deserving person in it.
The following letter being written to my bookseller upon a subject of which I treated some time since, I shall publish it in this paper, together with the letter that was inclosed in it.
MR. BUCKLEY, • Mr. Spectator having of late descanted upon the cruelty of parents to their children, * I have been induced (at the request of several of Mr. SPECTATOR'S admirers to inclose this letter, which I assure you is the original from a father to his own son, notwithstanding the latter gave but little or no provocation. It would be wonderfully obliging to the world, if Mr. SpectATOR would give his opinion of it in some of his speculations, and particularly to (Mr. BUCKLEY)
Your humble servant.'
SIRRAH, • You are a saucy audacious rascal, and both fool and mad, and I care not a farthing whether you comply or no; that does not raze out my impressions of your insolence, going about railing at me, and the next day to
No. 181 and No. 182.