Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

lous. As for your wild raillery on matrimony, it is all hypocrisy; you and all the handsome young women of your acquaintance shew yourselves to no other purpose, than to gain a conquest over some man of worth, in order to bestow your charms and fortune on him. There is no indecency in the confession, the design is modest, and honourable, and all your affectation cannot disguise it.

6. I ain married, and have no other concern but to please the man I love; he is the end of every care I have; if I dress, it is for him; if I read a poem, or a play, it is to qualify myself for a conversation agreeable to his taste: he is almost the end of my devotions ; half my prayers are for his happiness-I love to talk of him, and never hear him named but with pleasure and emotion. I am your friend, and wish you happiness; but am sorry to see by the air of your letter, that there are a set of women who are got into the common-place raillery of every thing that is sober, decent, and proper: matrimony and the clergy are the topics of people of little wit, and no understanding. I own to you, I have learned of the vicar's wife all you tax me with.. She is a discreet, ingenious, pleasant, pious woman; I wish she had the-handling of you, and Mrs. Modish; you would find, if you were too free with her, she would soon make you as charming as ever you were ; she would make you blush as much as if you never had been fine ladies. The vicar, madam, is so kind as to visit my husband, and his agreeable conversation has brought him to enjoy many sober happy hours when even I am shut out, and my dear master is entertained only with his own thoughts. These things, dear madam, will be lasting satisfactions, when the fine ladies, and the coxcombs, by whom they form VOL. IV.

с

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

DEAR MR. SPECTATOR, You have no goodness in the world, and are not in earnest in any thing you say that is serious, if you do not send me a plain answer to this. I happened some days past to be at the play, where, during the time of performance, I could not keep my eyes off fronr a beautiful young creature who sat just before me, and who I have been since informed has no fortune. It would utterly ruin my reputation for discretion to marry such a one, and by what I can learn she has a character of great modesty, so that there is nothing to be thought on any other way. My mind has ever since been so wholly bent on her, that I am much in danger of doing something very extravagant, without your speedy advice to,

SIR,
"Your most humble servant.'

I am sorry I cannot answer this impatient gentleman, but by another question.

DEAR CORRESPONDENT, • Would you marry to please other people, or yourself?'

T.

STEELE.

N° 255. SATURDAY, DECEMBER 22, 1711.

Laudis amore tumes? sunt certa piacula, quæ te
Ter purè lecto poterunt recreare bello.

HOR. Ep. 1, 1. 1. ver. 36.

IMITATED.

Know there are rhymes, which (fresh and fresh apply'd) Will cure the arrant'st puppy of his pride.

POPE.

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 prosecution 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 farther 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 endowments are not suffered to lie idle and usea less to the public, and many vicious inen are overreached as it were, and engaged contrary to their natural inclinations, in a glorious and laudable course of action. For we may farther 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 incapacities makes him despair of coming at fame, or that he has not enough range of thought to look out for any good which does not more immediately relate to his interest or convenience; or that Providence, in the very frame of his soul, would not subject him to such a passion as would be useless to the world, and a torment to himself.

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 dispensations 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 Sallust's remark upon Cato, that the less he coveted glory, the more he acquired it'.

Men take an ill-natured 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 shew itself) 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 fantastical recitals of his own perfor mances. His discourse generally leans one way, and

1 De Bel. Catil. c. 49.

« PredošláPokračovať »