The Spectator, Volume 2. eBook

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illustrious Course of Virtue, without any regard to our good or ill Opinions of him, to our Reproaches or Commendations.  As on the contrary it is usual for us, when we would take off from the Fame and Reputation of an Action, to ascribe it to Vain-Glory, and a Desire of Fame in the Actor.  Nor is this common Judgment and Opinion of Mankind ill-founded:  for certainly it denotes no great Bravery of Mind to be worked up to any noble Action by so selfish a Motive, and to do that out of a Desire of Fame, which we could not be prompted to by a disinterested Love to Mankind, or by a generous Passion for the Glory of him that made us.

Thus is Fame a thing difficult to be obtained by all, but particularly by those who thirst after it, since most Men have so much either of Ill-nature, or of Wariness, as not to gratify [or [11]] sooth the Vanity of the Ambitious Man, and since this very Thirst after Fame naturally betrays him into such Indecencies as are a lessening to his Reputation, and is it self looked upon as a Weakness in the greatest Characters.

In the next Place, Fame is easily lost, and as difficult to be preserved as it was at first to be acquired.  But this I shall make the Subject of a following Paper


[Footnote 1:  [all great]]

[Footnote 2:  [the Sense of their own]]

[Footnote 3:  [them]]

[Footnote 4:  [they have]]

[Footnote 5:  [their]]

[Footnote 6:  [their Souls]]

[Footnote 7:  [them]]

[Footnote 8:  [themselves]]

[Footnote 9:  Sallust.  Bell.  Catil. c. 49.]

[Footnote 10:  [and an]]

[Footnote 11:  [and]]

* * * * *

No. 256.  Monday, December 24, 1711.  Addison.

  [Greek:  Phaelae gar te kakae peletai kouphae men aeirai Reia mal,
  argalen de pherein.]


There are many Passions and Tempers of Mind which naturally dispose us to depress and vilify the Merit of one rising in the Esteem of Mankind.  All those who made their Entrance into the World with the same Advantages, and were once looked on as his Equals, are apt to think the Fame of his Merits a Reflection on their own Indeserts; and will therefore take care to reproach him with the Scandal of some past Action, or derogate from the Worth of the present, that they may still keep him on the same Level with themselves.  The like Kind of Consideration often stirs up the Envy of such as were once his Superiors, who think it a Detraction from their Merit to see another get ground upon them and overtake them in the Pursuits of Glory; and will therefore endeavour to sink his Reputation, that they may the better preserve their own.  Those who were once his Equals envy and defame him, because they now see him their Superior; and those who were once his Superiors, because they look upon him as their Equal.

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