The Spectator, Volume 2. eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,123 pages of information about The Spectator, Volume 2..


[Footnote 1:  that belong to our]

[Footnote 2:  [Opinion,]]

[Footnote 3:  [and]]

[Footnote 4:  Met.  I. 6, v. 556.]

* * * * *

No. 248.  Friday, December 14, 1711.  Steele.

  Hoc maxime Officii est, ut quisque maxime opis indigeat, ita ei
  potissimum opitulari.


There are none who deserve Superiority over others in the Esteem of Mankind, who do not make it their Endeavour to be beneficial to Society; and who upon all Occasions which their Circumstances of Life can administer, do not take a certain unfeigned Pleasure in conferring Benefits of one kind or other.  Those whose great Talents and high Birth have placed them in conspicuous Stations of Life, are indispensably obliged to exert some noble Inclinations for the Service of the World, or else such Advantages become Misfortunes, and Shade and Privacy are a more eligible Portion.  Where Opportunities and Inclinations are given to the same Person, we sometimes see sublime Instances of Virtue, which so dazzle our Imaginations, that we look with Scorn on all which in lower Scenes of Life we may our selves be able to practise.  But this is a vicious Way of Thinking; and it bears some Spice of romantick Madness, for a Man to imagine that he must grow ambitious, or seek Adventures, to be able to do great Actions.  It is in every Man’s Power in the World who is above meer Poverty, not only to do Things worthy but heroick.  The great Foundation of civil Virtue is Self-Denial; and there is no one above the Necessities of Life, but has Opportunities of exercising that noble Quality, and doing as much as his Circumstances will bear for the Ease and Convenience of other Men; and he who does more than ordinarily Men practise upon such Occasions as occur in his Life, deserves the Value of his Friends as if he had done Enterprizes which are usually attended with the highest Glory.  Men of publick Spirit differ rather in their Circumstances than their Virtue; and the Man who does all he can in a low Station, is more [a[1]] Hero than he who omits any worthy Action he is able to accomplish in a great one.  It is not many Years ago since Lapirius, in Wrong of his elder Brother, came to a great Estate by Gift of his Father, by reason of the dissolute Behaviour of the First-born.  Shame and Contrition reformed the Life of the disinherited Youth, and he became as remarkable for his good Qualities as formerly for his Errors. Lapirius, who observed his Brothers Amendment, sent him on a New-Years Day in the Morning the following Letter: 

  Honoured Brother,

I enclose to you the Deeds whereby my Father gave me this House and Land:  Had he lived till now, he would not have bestowed it in that Manner; he took it from the Man you were, and I restore it to the Man you are.  I am,

  Your affectionate Brother, and humble Servant,

  P. T.

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