The Spectator, Volume 2. eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,123 pages of information about The Spectator, Volume 2..
in the polite Arts of Life.  Their Lives have passed away in an odious Rusticity, in spite of great Advantages of Person, Genius and Fortune.  There is a vicious Terror of being blamed in some well-inclin’d People, and a wicked Pleasure in suppressing them in others; both which I recommend to your Spectatorial Wisdom to animadvert upon; and if you can be successful in it, I need not say how much you will deserve of the Town; but new Toasts will owe to you their Beauty, and new Wits their Fame.  I am, SIR, Your most Obedient Humble Servant, Mary.”


* * * * *

No. 349.  Thursday, April 10, 1712.  Addison.

  Quos ille timorum
  Maximus haud urget lethi metus:  inde ruendi
  In ferrum mens prona viris, animaeque capaces


I am very much pleased with a Consolatory Letter of Phalaris, to one who had lost a Son that was a young Man of great Merit.  The Thought with which he comforts the afflicted Father, is, to the best of my Memory, as follows; That he should consider Death had set a kind of Seal upon his Sons Character, and placed him out of the Reach of Vice and Infamy:  That while he liv’d he was still within the Possibility of falling away from Virtue, and losing the Fame of which he was possessed.  Death only closes a Man’s Reputation, and determines it as good or bad.

This, among other Motives, may be one Reason why we are naturally averse to the launching out into a Man’s Praise till his Head is laid in the Dust.  Whilst he is capable of changing, we may be forced to retract our Opinions.  He may forfeit the Esteem we have conceived of him, and some time or other appear to us under a different Light from what he does at present.  In short, as the Life of any Man cannot be call’d happy or unhappy, so neither can it be pronounced vicious or virtuous, before the Conclusion of it.

It was upon this consideration that Epaminondas, being asked whether Chabrias, Iphicrates, or he himself, deserved most to be esteemed?  You must first see us die, said he, before that Question can be answered. [1]

As there is not a more melancholy Consideration to a good Man than his being obnoxious to such a Change, so there is nothing more glorious than to keep up an Uniformity in his Actions, and preserve the Beauty of his Character to the last.

The End of a Man’s Life is often compared to the winding up of a well-written Play, where the principal Persons still act in Character, whatever the Fate is which they undergo.  There is scarce a great Person in the Grecian or Roman History, whose Death has not been remarked upon by some Writer or other, and censured or applauded according to the Genius or Principles of the Person who has descanted on it.  Monsieur de St. Evremont is very particular in setting forth the Constancy and Courage of Petronius Arbiter

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The Spectator, Volume 2. from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.