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can be no solid happiness in the success of it. If we value popular praise, it is in the power of the meanest of the people to disturb us by calumny; if the fame of being happy, we cannot look into a village, but we see crowds in actual possession of what we seek only the appearance. To this may be added, that there is I know not what malignity in the minds of ordinary men, to oppose you in what they see you fond of; and it is a certain exception against a man's receiving applause, that he visibly courts it. However, this is not only the passion of great and undertaking spirits ; but you see it in the lives of such as, one would believe, were far enough removed from the ways of ambition. The rural esquires of this nation even eat and drink out of vanity. A vainglorious foxhunter shall entertain half a county, for the ostentation of his beef and beer, without the least affection for any of the crowd about him. He feeds them, because he thinks it a superiority over them that he does so; and they devour him, because they know he treats them out of insolence. This indeed is ambition in grotesque; but may figure to us the condition of politer men, whose only pursuit is glory. When the superior acts out of a principle of vanity, the dependant will be sure to allow it him ; because he knows it destructive of the very applause which is courted by the man who favours him, and consequently makes him nearer himself.
But as every man living has more or less of this incentive, which makes men impatient of an inactive condition, and urges men to attempt what may tend to their reputation, it is absolutely necessary they should form to themselves an ambition, which is in
every man's power to gratify. This ambition would be independent, and would consist only in acting what, to a man's own mind, appears most great and laudable. It is a pursuit in the power of every man, and is only a regular prosecution of what he himself approves. It is what can be interrupted by no outward accidents ; for no man can be robbed of his good intention. One of our society of the Trumpet therefore started last night a notion, which I thought had reason in it. 'It is, methinks,' said he, “an unreasonable thing, that heroic virtue should, as it seems to be at present, be confined to a certain order of men, and be attainable by none but those whom fortune has elevated to the most conspicuous stations. I would have everything to be esteemed as heroic, which is great and uncommon in the circumstances of the man who performs it.' Thus there would be no virtue in human life, which every one of the species would not have a pretence to arrive at, and an ardency to exert. Since fortune is not in our power, let us be as little as possible in hers. Why should it be necessary that a man should be rich, to be generous ? If we measured by the quality and not the quantity of things, the particulars which accompany an action is what should denominate it mean or great. The highest station of human life is to be attained by each man that pretends to it : for every man can be as valiant, as generous, as wise, and as merciful, as the faculties and opportunities which he has from heaven and fortune will permit. He that can say to himself, “I do as much good, and am as virtuous as my most earnest endeavours will allow me,' whatever is his station in the world, is to see himself possessed of the highest honour. If ambition is not thus turned,
it is no other than a continual succession of anxiety and vexation. But when it has this cast, it invigorates the mind; and the consciousness of its own worth is a reward, which is not in the power of envy, reproach, or detraction, to take from it. Thus the seat of solid honour is in a man's own bosom ; and no one can want support who is in possession of an honest conscience, but he who would suffer the reproaches of it for other greatness.
[Tatler, No. 202.
Dn Judicious flattery
An old acquaintance, who met me this morning, seemed overjoyed to see me, and told me I looked as well as he had known me do these forty years : ‘but,' continued he, 'not quite the man you were, when we visited together at Lady Brightly's. Oh! Isaac, those days are over. Do you think there are any such fine creatures now living, as we then conversed with?' He went on with a thousand incoherent circumstances, which, in his imagination, must needs please me ; but they had quite the contrary effect. The flattery with which he began, in telling me how well I wore, was not disagreeable ; but his indiscreet mention of a set of acquaintance we had outlived, recalled ten thousand things to my memory, which made me reflect upon my present condition with regret. Had he indeed been so kind as, after a long absence, to felicitate me upon an indolent and easy old age ; and mentioned how much he and I had to thank for, who at our time of day could walk firmly, eat heartily, and converse cheerfully, he had kept up my pleasure in myself. But of all mankind, there are none so shocking as these injudicious civil people. They ordinarily begin upon something that they know must be a satisfaction ; but then, for fear of the imputation of flattery, they
follow it with the last thing in the world of which you would be reminded. It is this that perplexes civil persons. The reason that there is such a general outcry among us against flatterers is, that there are so very few good ones. It is the nicest art in this life, and is a part of eloquence which does not want the preparation that is necessary to all other parts of it, that your audience should be your well-wishers ; for praise from an enemy is the most pleasing of all commendations.
It is generally to be observed, that the person most agreeable to a man for a constancy is he that has no shining qualities, but is a certain degree above great imperfections ; whom he can live with as his inferior, and who will either overlook, or not observe his little defects. Such an easy companion as this either now and then throws out a little flattery, or lets a man silently flatter himself in his superiority to him. If you take notice, there is hardly a rich man in the world, who has not such a led friend of small consideration, who is a darling for his insignificancy. It is a great ease to have one in our own shape a species below
us, and who, without being listed in our service, is by nature of our retinue. These dependants are of excellent use on a rainy day, or when a man has not a mind to dress ; or to exclude solitude, when one has neither a mind to that or to company. There are of this good-natured order, who are so kind as to divide themselves, and do these good offices to many. Five or six of them visit a whole quarter of the town, and exclude the spleen, without fees, from the families they frequent. If they do not prescribe physic, they can be company when you take it. Very great benefactors