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For a somewhat more detailed account of this author, the reader is referred to Cumming's edition of the Resolves, published last year, 1806.
It may seem strange, that a man should have such an earnest desire of a noble fame and memory, after his death: when, at the same time, he knows that the tongues of the living avail nothing to the good or hurt of those who lie in their graves; and that the account must pass upon his actions, and not upon the reports of others. There is hardly any thing which we possess that we reckon of equal value with fame; our wealth, our comfort, nay, sometimes even our lives, are held cheap when they come in competition with it. When Philip asked Democritus, if he did not fear to lose his head, he answered, "No; for if he did lose it, the Athenians would give him one that would be immortal." He would be statued in the treasury of eternal fame. Ovid's comfort, in his banishment, was his fame
Nil non mortale tenemus,
Pectoris exceptis ingeniique bonis.
En ego cum patriâ caream, vobisque, domoque;
Ingenio tamen ipse meo comitorque fruorque:
All that we hold will die,
But our brave thoughts and ingenuity.
That which is more than Cæsar can destroy.
OVID'S TRIST. iii. 7.
Plutarch tells us of a poor Indian, that would rather endure death than shoot before Alexander, having been out of practice; lest by shooting ill he should mar the fame he had acquired. Desire of glory is the last thing that even wise men lay aside. For this you may take Tacitus.-Etiam sapientibus, cupido gloriæ novissima exuitur. It was Tamerlane's practice to read often the heroic deeds of his own ancestors; not as any boast to himself, but as glorious examples propounded to inflame his virtues. The noble acts of our predecessors, are as flaming beacons, which fame and time have set on hills, to call us to a defence of virtue, whensoever vice invades
the commonwealth of man. Who can endure to skulk away his life in an idle corner, when he has the means of usefulness within him, and finds how fame has blown about deserving names? In weak and base minds, worth begets envy; but in those which are magnanimous, emulation. Roman virtue made Roman virtues lasting. A brave man never dies; but, like the phoenix, others rise out of his preserved ashes. How many valiant soldiers does a generous leader make! Brutus bred many constant patriots. Fame, I confess, I find more eagerly pursued by the heathen race, than by the christian. The immortality (as they thought) of their name, was to them as the immortality of the soul to us; which often made them sacrifice their lives to that which they esteemed above their lives, their fame, Christians know a thing beyond it, and that knowledge causes them to give but a secondary respect to fame; there being no reason why we should neglect that whereon all our future happiness depends, for that which is nothing but a name of empty air. Virtue were a kind of misery, if fame only were all the garland that crowned her. Glory alone were a reward incompetent for the toils of industrious man. This follows him but on earth; but in heaven is laid up a more noble, more essential recompence. Yet, as it is a fruit which springs from good actions, I cannot help thinking, that he who loves that, loves
also that which causes it, worthiness. I will honour fame for the deserving deeds which produced it. In myself I will respect the actions that inay merit it; and, though for my own benefit, I will not much seek it; yet I shall be glad if it may follow me, to incite others, that they may go beyond me. I will, if I can, tread the path which leads to it; if I find it, I shall think it a blessing; if not, my endeavour will be enough for discharging myself within, though I miss it. God is not bound to reward me any way; if he accepts me, I may count it a mercy. I like him who does things which deserve fame, without either search or caring for it. For a mean man to thirst for a mighty fame, is an absurd ambition. Can we think a mouse can cast a shadow like an elephant? Can the sparrow look for a train like the eagle? A great fame is for princes; and such as, for their parts, are the glories of humanity: a good fame niay crown the private man. Let the world speak well of me, and I will never care, though it does not speak much. Check thyself, vain man, that pursuest fleeting shadows.-Love substances, and rest thyself content with what Boetius tells thee.
Quicumque solam, mente præcipiti, petit,
Latè patentes atheris cernat plagas,
Arctumque terrarum situm.
Brevem replere non valentis ambitum,
Pudebit aucti nominis.
He that thirsts for glorious prize,
And the earth's contracted ball.
He'll be asham'd then, that the name he wan,
Of being over-valued.
Let me have but so much wisdom as that I may orderly manage myself and my means; and I shall never care to be pointed at, with a that is he. I wish not to be esteemed wiser than usual; they that are so do better in concealing it, than in telling the world of it. I hold it a greater injury to be over-valued, than under; for when brought to the touch, the one shall rise with praise, while the other shall decline with shame. The former has more present honour, but less safety the latter is humbly secure, and what is wanting in renown is made up in a better blessing, quiet. There is no detraction worse than to overpraise a man; for if his worth prove short of what report doth speak him, his own actions are ever giv, ing the lie to his honour.