No. 467. Tuesday, August 26, 1712. John Hughes?

Quodcunque meæ poterunt Audere Camænæ Seu Tibi par poterunt, seu, quod spes abnuit ultra; Sive minus; certeque canent minus; omne vovemus Hoc tibi; ne tanto careat mihi nomine Charta.'
Tibull. ad Messalam.

The Love of Praise is a Passion deeply fixed in the Mind of every extraordinary Person, and those who are most affected with it, seem most to partake of that Particle of the Divinity which distinguishes Mankind from the Inferior Creation. The Supreme Being it self is most pleased with Praise and Thanksgiving; the other Part of our Duty is but an Acknowledgment of our Faults, whilst this is the immediate Adoration of his Perfections. 'Twas an excellent Observation, That we then only despise Commendation when we cease to deserve it: and we have still extant two Orations of Tully and Pliny, spoken to the greatest and best Princes of all the Roman Emperors, [1] who, no doubt, heard with the greatest Satisfaction, what even the most disinterested Persons, and at so large a Distance of Time, cannot read without Admiration. Cæsar thought his Life consisted in the Breath of Praise, when he professed he had lived long enough for himself when he had for his Glory; others have sacrificed themselves for a Name which was not to begin till they were dead, giving away themselves to purchase a Sound which was not to commence till they were out of hearing: But by Merit and superior Excellencies not only to gain, but, whilst living, to enjoy a great and universal Reputation, is the last Degree of Happiness which we can hope for here. Bad Characters are dispersed abroad with Profusion, I hope for example Sake, and (as Punishments are designed by the Civil Power) more for the deterring the Innocent, than the chastising the Guilty. The Good are less frequent, whether it be that there are indeed fewer Originals of this Kind to copy after, or that, thro' the Malignity of our Nature, we rather delight in the Ridicule than the Virtues we find in others. However, it is but just, as well as pleasing, even for Variety, sometimes to give the World a Representation of the bright Side of humane Nature, as well as the dark and gloomy: The Desire of Imitation may, perhaps, be a greater Incentive to the Practice of what is good, than the Aversion we may conceive at what is blameable; the one immediately directs you what you should do, whilst the other only shews you what you should avoid: And I cannot at present do this with more Satisfaction, than by endeavouring to do some Justice to the Character of Manilius. [2]

It would far exceed my present Design, to give a particular Description of Manilius thro' all the Parts of his excellent Life: I shall now only draw him in his Retirement, and pass over in Silence the various Arts, the courtly Manners, and the undesigning Honesty by which he attained the Honours he has enjoyed, and which now give a Dignity and Veneration to the Ease he does enjoy. Tis here that he looks back with Pleasure on the Waves and Billows thro' which he has steered to so fair an Haven; he is now intent upon the Practice of every Virtue, which a great Knowledge and Use of Mankind has discovered to be the most useful to them. Thus in his private domestick Employments he is no less glorious than in his publick; for 'tis in Reality a more difficult Task to be conspicuous in a sedentary inactive Life, than in one that is spent in Hurry and Business; Persons engaged in the latter, like Bodies violently agitated, from the Swiftness of their Motion have a Brightness added to them, which often vanishes when they are at Rest; but if it then still remain, it must be the Seeds of intrinsick Worth that thus shine out without any foreign Aid or Assistance.

His Liberality in another might almost bear the Name of Profusion; he seems to think it laudable even in the Excess, like that River which most enriches when it overflows: But Manilius has too perfect a Taste of the Pleasure of doing good, ever to let it be out of his Power; and for that Reason he will have a just Oeconomy, and a splendid Frugality at home, the Fountain from whence those Streams should flow which he disperses abroad. He looks with Disdain on those who propose their Death as the Time when they are to begin their Munificence; he will both see and enjoy (which he then does in the highest Degree) what he bestows himself; he will be the living Executor of his own Bounty, whilst they who have the Happiness to be within his Care and Patronage at once, pray for the Continuation of his Life, and their own good Fortune. No one is out of the reach of his Obligations; he knows how, by proper and becoming Methods, to raise himself to a Level with those of the highest Rank; and his good Nature is a sufficient Warrant against the Want of those who are so unhappy as to be in the very lowest. One may say of him, as Pindar bids his Muse say of Theron: [3]

'Swear, that Theron sure has sworn, No one near him should be Poor. Swear, that none e'er had such a graceful Art, Fortune's Free-Gifts as freely to impart, With an unenvious Hand, and an unbounded Heart.'

Never did Atticus succeed better in gaining the universal Love and Esteem of all Men; nor steer with more Success betwixt the Extreams of two contending Parties. 'Tis his peculiar Happiness, that while he espouses neither with an intemperate Zeal, he is not only admired, but, what is a more rare and unusual Felicity, he is beloved and caressed by both and I never yet saw any Person of whatsoever Age or Sex, but was immediately struck with the Merit of Manilius. There are many who are acceptable to some particular Persons, whilst the rest of Mankind look upon them with Coldness and Indifference but he is the first whose entire good Fortune it is ever to please and to be pleased, where-ever he comes to be admired, and where-ever he is absent to be lamented. His Merit fares like the Pictures of Raphael, which are either seen with Admiration by all, or at least no one dare own he has no Taste for a Composition which has received so universal an Applause. Envy and Malice find it against their Interest to indulge Slander and Obloquy. 'Tis as hard for an Enemy to detract from as for a Friend to add to his Praise. An Attempt upon his Reputation is a sure lessening of one's own; and there is but one Way to injure him, which is to refuse him his just Commendations, and be obstinately silent.

It is below him to catch the Sight with any Care of Dress; his outward Garb is but the Emblem of his Mind, it is genteel, plain, and unaffected; he knows that Gold and Embroidery can add nothing to the Opinion which all have of his Merit, and that he gives a Lustre to the plainest Dress, whilst 'tis impossible the richest should communicate any to him. He is still the principal Figure in the Room: He first engages your Eye, as if there were some Point of Light which shone stronger upon him than on any other Person.

He puts me in mind of a Story of the famous Bussy d'Amboise, [4] who at an Assembly at Court, where every one appeared with the utmost Magnificence, relying upon his own superior Behaviour, instead of adorning himself like the rest, put on that Day a plain Suit of Cloaths, and dressed all his Servants in the most costly gay Habits he could procure: The Event was, that the Eyes of the whole Court were fixed upon him, all the rest looked like his Attendants, whilst he alone had the Air of a Person of Quality and Distinction.

Like Aristippus, whatever Shape or Condition he appears in, it still sits free and easie upon him; but in some Part of his Character, 'tis true, he differs from him; for as he is altogether equal to the Largeness of his present Circumstances, the Rectitude of his Judgment has so far corrected the Inclinations of his Ambition, that he will not trouble himself with either the Desires or Pursuits of any thing beyond his present Enjoyments.

A thousand obliging Things flow from him upon every Occasion, and they are always so just and natural, that it is impossible to think he was at the least Pains to look for them. One would think it were the Dæmon of good Thoughts that discovered to him those Treasures, which he must have blinded others from seeing, they lay so directly in their Way. Nothing can equal the Pleasure is taken in hearing him speak, but the Satisfaction one receives in the Civility and Attention he pays to the Discourse of others. His Looks are a silent Commendation of what is good and praise-worthy, and a secret Reproof to what is licentious and extravagant. He knows how to appear free and open without Danger of Intrusion, and to be cautious without seeming reserved. The Gravity of his Conversation is always enlivened with his Wit and Humour, and the Gaiety of it is tempered with something that is instructive, as well as barely agreeable. Thus with him you are sure not to be merry at the Expence of your Reason, nor serious with the Loss of your good Humour; but, by a happy mixture in his Temper, they either go together, or perpetually succeed each other. In fine, his whole Behaviour is equally distant from Constraint and Negligence, and he commands your Respect, whilst he gains your Heart.

There is in his whole Carriage such an engaging Softness, that one cannot persuade one's self he is ever actuated by those rougher Passions, which, where-ever they find Place, seldom fail of shewing themselves in the outward Demeanour of the Persons they belong to: But his Constitution is a just Temperature between Indolence on one hand and Violence on the other. He is mild and gentle, where-ever his Affairs will give him Leave to follow his own Inclinations; but yet never failing to exert himself with Vigour and Resolution in the Service of his Prince, his Country, or his Friend.


[Footnote 1: Julius Cæsar and Trajan. Cicero most flattered Cæsar in the speech pro Marcello, but the memorable speech of his before Cæsar was that for Ligarius, who had borne arms against the new master of Rome in the African campaign. Cæsar had said,

'Why might we not as well once more hear a speech from Cicero? There is no doubt that Ligarius is a bad man and an enemy.'

Yet the effect of the speech was that Cæsar was stirred with emotion, changed colour, and at reference to the battle of Pharsalia,

'he was,' says Plutarch, 'so affected that his body trembled, and some of the papers he held dropped from his hands, and thus he was overpowered, and acquitted Ligarius.'

Of Pliny the younger there remains a fulsome Panegyric upon Trajan.]

[Footnote 2: Lord Cowper?]

[Footnote 3: Second Olympic Ode.]

[Footnote 4: Bussy d'Amboise had become famous in England through a tragedy by George Chapman, often presented in the time of James I., and revived after the Restoration. In 1691 Chapman's play was produced with some changes by Thomas D'Urfey. The man himself killed a relation in the massacre of St. Bartholomew, to get a title, and was trapped and killed by the Comte de Montsoreau, whose wife he went to seduce.]

Translation of motto:
TIBULL. ad Messalam, 1 Eleg. iv. 24.
'Whate'er my Muse adventurous dares indite,
Whether the niceness of thy piercing sight
Applaud my lays, or censure what I write,
To thee I sing, and hope to borrow fame,
By adding to my page Messala's name.'