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the immortal gods never learnt any virtue, though they are endued with all that is good ; so there are some men who have so natural a propensity to what they should follow, that they learn it almost as soon as they hear it.' Plants and vegetables are cultivated into the production of finer fruits than they would yield without that care; and yet we cannot entertain hopes of producing a tender conscious spirit into acts of virtue, without the same methods as are used to cut timber, or give new shape to a piece of stone.
It is wholly to this dreadful practice, that we may attribute a certain hardiness and ferocity which some men, though liberally educated, carry about them in all their behaviour. To be bred like a gentleman, and punished like a malefactor, must, as we see it does, produce that illiberal sauciness which we see sometimes in men of letters.
The Spartan boy who suffered the fox (which he had stolen and hid under his coat) to eat into his bowels, I dare say had not half the wit or petulance which we learn at great schools among us; but the glorious sense of honour, or rather fear of shame, which he demonstrated in that action, was worth all the learning in the world without it.
It is, methinks, a very melancholy consideration, that a little negligence can spoil us, but great industry is necessary to improve us ; the most excellent natures are soon depreciated, but evil tempers are long before they are exalted into good habits. To help this by punishments, is the same thing as killing a man to cure him of a distemper ; when he comes to suffer punishment in that one circumstance, he is brought below the existence of a rational creature, and is in the state
of a brute that moves only by the admonition of stripes. But since this custom of educating by the lash is suffered by the gentry of Great Britain, I would prevail only that honest heavy lads may be dismissed from slavery sooner than they are at present, and not whipped on to their fourteenth or fifteenth
year, whether they expect any progress from them or not. Let the child's capacity be forthwith examined, and he sent to some mechanic way of life, without respect to his birth, if nature designed him for nothing higher : let him go before he has innocently suffered, and is debased into a dereliction of mind for being what it is no guilt to be, a plain man. I would not here be supposed to have said, that our learned men of either robe who have been whipped at school, are not still men of noble and liberal minds; but I am sure they would have been much more so than they are, had they never suffered that infamy.
[Spectator, No. 157.
I TAKE it to be the highest instance of a noble mind, to bear great qualities without discovering in a man's behaviour any consciousness that he is superior to the rest of the world. Or, to say it otherwise, it is the duty of a great person so to demean himself, as that whatever endowments he may have, he may appear to value himself upon no qualities but such as any man may arrive at.
He ought to think no man valuable but for his public spirit, justice, and integrity : and all other endowments to be esteemed only as they contribute to the exerting those virtues. Such a man, if he is wise or valiant, knows it is of no consideration to other men that he is so, but as he employs those high talents for their use and service. He who affects the applauses and addresses of a multitude, or assumes to himself a pre-eminence upon any other consideration, must soon turn admiration into contempt. It is certain that there can be no merit in any man who is not conscious of it ; but the sense that it is valuable only according to the application of it, makes that superiority amiable, which would otherwise be invidious. In this light it is considered as a thing in which every man bears a share. It annexes the ideas of dignity, power, and fame, in an agreeable and familiar manner, to him who is possessor of it; and
all men who are strangers to him are naturally incited to indulge a curiosity in beholding the person, behaviour, feature, and shape of him in whose character, perhaps, each man had formed something in common with himself.
Whether such, or any .other, are the causes, all men have a yearning curiosity to behold a man of heroic worth ; and I have had many letters from all parts of this kingdom, that request I would give them an exact account of the stature, the mien, the aspect of the prince who lately visited England, and has done such wonders for the liberty of Europe. It would puzzle the most curious to form to himself the sort of man my several correspondents expect to hear of by the action mentioned, when they desire a description of him. There is always something that concerns themselves, and growing out of their own circumstances, in all their inquiries. A friend of mine in Wales beseeches me to be very exact in my account of that wonderful man, who had marched an army and all its baggage over the Alps; and, if possible, to learn whether the peasant who showed him the way, and is drawn in the map, be yet living. A gentleman from the university, who is deeply intent on the study of humanity, desires me to be as particular, if I had opportunity, in observing the whole interview between his Highness and our late general. Thus do men's fancies work according to their several educations and circumstances ; but all pay a respect, mixed with admiration, to this illustrious character. I have waited for his arrival in Holland, before I would let my correspondents know that I have not been so uncurious a Spectator as not to have seen Prince Eugene,
It would be very difficult, as I said just now, to answer every expectation of those who have written to me on that head ; nor is possible for me to find words to let one know what an artful glance there is in his countenance who surprised Cremona ; how daring he appears who forced the trenches of Turin; but in general I can say that he who beholds him will easily expect from him anything that is to be imagined, or executed, by the wit or force of man. The prince is of that stature which makes a man most easily become all parts of exercise ; has height to be graceful on occasions of state and ceremony, and no less adapted for agility and despatch : his aspect is erect and composed ; his eye lively and thoughtful, yet rather vigilant than sparkling ; his action and address the most easy imaginable, and his behaviour in an assembly peculiarly graceful in a certain art of mixing insensibly with the rest, and becoming one of the company, instead of receiving the courtship of it. The shape of his person, and composure of his limbs, are remarkably exact and beautiful. There is in his looks something sublime, which does not seem to arise from his quality or character, but the innate disposition of his mind. It is apparent that he suffers the presence of much company, instead of taking delight in it; and he appeared in public, while with us, rather to return good-will, or satisfy curiosity, than to gratify any taste he himself had of being popular: As his thoughts are never tumultuous in danger, they are as little discomposed on occasions of pomp and magnificence. A great soul is affected, in either case, no further than in considering the properest methods to extricate itself from them. If this hero has the