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swer itself: that at present I should only assure him, that on my side, nothing more than general allusions were intended, and on that of my fellowcitizens, “Qui capit ille facit: Let the galld jade wince.'
I had scarce pronounced these words when I became sensible of my carelessness by the significant looks of the company. The conversation immediately turned on stockings; when, as I was got out of my element, I sat for some time totally silent; and upon a proper opportunity took my leave, and retired to reflect on the scene I had quitted. On my coming home I found Narcissus's letters, and divesting myself of all the petulance of a disappointed candidate, sat down immediately to advertise him of this opportunity. Convinced, notwithstanding the plausible arguments of those who, under the immediate impulse of any favourite passion, cannot brook the idea of total listlessness, that an Apathist is as much a real, as a GRIFFIN is an imaginary being.
NOTES to CORRESPONDENTS. Availing myself of the permission of OCTAVIUS, I shall adapt his letter to the limits of my work, and shall take the same liberty with that of MUSIDORUS. My visionary friend, who signs himself An ETONIAN, has expressed himself in such a strain of encomium, as I could not insert without incurring the imputation of vanity.
N° 4. MONDAY, NOVEMBER 27, 1786.
I demens et sævas curre per Alpes,
To please the boys and be a theme at school.-DRYDEN. As the subject of the following discourse is the examination of a passion more peculiary prevalent in the minds of youth; and as I conceive it would be but an indifferent compliment to the talents of the younger part of my readers, to consider it necessary to apologize to them for the more serious nature of it; I shall, without detaining them any farther by unnecessary introduction, proceed to my subject, the Love of Fame. And this I consider not only as that exalted principle, which has in all ages produced patriots and heroes, but when in a depraved state, contributing more perhaps to the promotion of immorality, than our most violent passions and most craving appetites. For the observer will discover, that whenever this primum mobile of the mind is diverted from the pursuit of more laudable ambition, to the desire of false honour, and criminal adulation, its tendency is only diverted while its power remains unimpaired. This principle, capable of carrying us to the highest pitch of human ambition, or, on the other hand sinking us to the lowest ebb of depravity, is implanted in our natures; it is inherent in, and inseparable from, humanity; the reins are thrown into our hands, and the rest remains with ourselves. · It should seem then, that a reasonable being, conscious that he is possessed of such an internal principle, aware of the consequences immediately attend
ing on a proper or improper use of it, and having the direction of it in his own power, could hardly err in the application: but unfortunately it happens, that the distribution of praise lies equally in the hands of all; and from hence it is, that the commonalty derive a power, for which they are far from being qualified by greater nicety of judgment or accuracy of observation. And these, too frequently judging more from outward appearance than an investigation of intrinsic merit, it will happen, that by far the greater share of glory attends upon what are called great actions; which, by their superior splendour, attract and dazzle the eyes of the multitude more than a sober train of benevolence, which passes over the mind with the smooth uniformity of a polished surface, not marked by any eminent feature, or distinguished by any leading characteristic. Hence, a wide barrier is fixed between actions glorious to the individual, and such as are useful to the community; and the effects produced by it are not so much to be wondered at as lamented. The life of a man beneficial to society, is most commonly passed in a continued series of benevolent actions, frequently in a circle extremely contracted; but this is not a life of glory, and though a useful uniformity may demand our praise, it lays no claim to our admiration. So unvaried indeed is the tenor of a life really useful. and not unusually charged with so little incident, that the muse, whose office it is to shed a perfunctory tear over the ashes of the deceased, has frequently been obliged, by the barrenness of the subject, to have recourse to topics of praise entirely fictitious; or relinquish a theme rendered so uninteresting by its uniformity. And if we except that of Pope on Mrs. Corbet, and the original of Crashaw, from which Pope seems to have transfused no inconsiderable part of his own performance, there does not perhaps remain in our language, an elegant epitaph on any person undistinguished by military, civil, or literary exertions. I would wish however to except the following lines, which, in a parish in Yorkshire, cover the bones of an honest yeoman; whose merit seems to have been understood by the author, though he might have been prevented from recurring to feigned topics by the want of art evident in the construction of the lines, I shall subject them to the perusal of my reader; they are as follow:
John Bell Brokenbow
How much more glorious is this simple testimony to the undistinguished merits of a private man, than if it had announced the bones of a general, who, by the singular favour of fortune, had, with the loss of only twenty thousand individuals of the same country with himself, slaughtered two hundred thousand, guilty of being divided from it by a narrow sea, or a chain of mountains! The merit of the former character is evidently superior; yet our admiration had undoubtedly sided with the latter.
Not that this meritorious inaction is always undistinguished by observation and applause; the character of Atticus, is not perhaps less remarkable for its literary excellence, than the inactive acquiescence which he betrayed at a period when any degree of eminence must have been attended with consequences more or less repugnant to the interests of his country. How different is this patriotic conquest, over a desire of glory not to be obtained in a manner consistent with his country's welfare, from
the obstinacy of another character equally eminent about the same time, who would have
Blush'd if Cato's house had stnod,
It should seem doubtful whether the poet meant this sentiment for the effect of a natural impulse on the occasion which introduces it, or the result of an affectation eminent in the original character; and which could not have escaped the author, though so much its admirer : certain I am, that it could not proceed from the feelings of nature, even admitting the possibility of any connexion subsisting between an individual and his country, which did not in a stronger manner tie him to his family. I shall not at present arraign the policy which dictated a law to the Athenians, inflicting disgrace and ignominy on any one who in a public dissension might remain inactive; however, the observer may discover in this edict, the source of those disturbances which continually divided the state, and ended but in its ruin.
But to return to my subject, and perhaps it may not be entirely foreign from it, to observe, that admitting the desire of glory to have so great an influence as I contend it is possessed of; the higher ranks in life may be cleared of an imputation under which they have long laboured. I allude to an opinion extremely prevalent, that all national depravity and corruption, before it descends to the lower classes, originates among their superiors. The regard paid by the lower ranks to the example and authority of their superiors, has been cited, and with some degree of plausibility, to support this opinion; but is not this influence effectually and entirely counterbalanced, by the distribution of censure and applause which resides entirely in the hands of the commonalty? or can any one doubt the influence which the common people have with their superiors,