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certain depth; and he that upon level ground ftagnates in filence, or creeps in narrative, might, at the height of half a mile, ferment into merriment, fparkle with repartee, and froth with declamation.
Addifon obferves, that we may find the heat of Virgil's climate, in fome lines of his Georgick: fo, when I read a compofition, I immediately determine the height of the author's habitation. As an elaborate performance is commonly faid to smell of the lamp, my commendation of a noble thought, a fprightly fally, or a bold figure, is to pronounce it fresh from the garret; an expreffion which would break from me upon the perufal of most of your papers, did I not believe, that you fometimes quit the garret, and afcend into the cock-loft.
NUMB. 118. SATURDAY, May 4, 1751.
Urgentur, ignotique longá
In endless night they fleep, unwept, unknown.
CICERO has, with his ufual elegance and magnificence of language, attempted, in his relation of the dream of Scipio, to depreciate those honours for which he himself appears to have panted with restless folicitude, by fhewing within what narrow limits all that fame and celebrity which man can hope for from men is circumfcribed.
"You fee," fays Africanus, pointing at the earth, from the celeftial regions, "that the globe affigned "to the refidence and habitation of human beings "is of fmall dimenfions: how then can you ob"tain from the praife of men, any glory worthy of С، a wifh? Of this little world the inhabited parts "are neither numerous nor wide; even the spots "where men are to be found are broken by inter"vening deferts, and the nations are so separated "as that nothing can be tranfmitted from one to "another. With the people of the fouth, by whom "the oppofite part of the earth is poffeffed, you have
no intercourse; and by how fmall a tract do 66 you communicate with the countries of the "north? The territory which you inhabit is no more “than a scanty island, inclosed by a small body of 66 water,
"water, to which you give the name of the great fea " and the Atlantick ocean. And even in this known "and frequented continent, what hope can you en"tertain, that your renown will pass the stream of "Ganges, or the cliffs of Caucafus? or by whom will "your name be uttered in the extremities of the "north or fouth, towards the rifing or the fetting "fun? So narrow is the space to which your fame "can be propagated, and even there how long will "it remain?"
He then proceeds to affign natural causes why fame is not only narrow in its extent, but fhort in its duration; he obferves the difference between the computation of time in earth and heaven, and declares that, according to the celeftial chronology, no human honours can last a single year.
Such are the objections by which Tully has made a fhew of discouraging the pursuit of fame; objections which fufficiently discover his tenderness and regard for his darling phantom. Homer, when the plan of his poem made the death of Patroclus neceffary, refolved, at least, that he should die with honour; and therefore brought down against him the patron god of Troy, and left to Hector only the mean task of giving the last blow to an enemy whom a divine hand had disabled from refiftance. Thus Tully ennobles fame, which he profeffes to degrade, by oppofing it to celestial happiness; he confines not its extent but by the boundaries of nature, nor contracts its duration but by representing it small in the estimation of fuperior beings. He still admits it the highest and nobleft of terrestrial objects, and alleges little more against it, than that it is neither without end, nor without limits. What
What might be the effect of these observations con veyed in Ciceronian eloquence to Roman understandings, cannot be determined; but few of those who fhall in the prefent age read my humble verfion will find themselves much depreffed in their hopes, or re tarded in their defigns; for I am not inclined to believe, that they who among us pass their lives in the cultivation of knowledge, or acquifition of power, have very anxioufly inquired what opinions prevail on the further banks of the Ganges, or invigorated any effort by the defire of fpreading their renown among the clans of Caucafus. The hopes and fears of modern minds are content to range in a narrower compass; a fingle nation, and a few years, have generally fufficient amplitude to fill our imaginations.
A little confideration will indeed teach us, that fame has other limits than mountains and oceans; and that he who places happiness in the frequent repetition of his name, may spend his life in propagating it, without any danger of weeping for new worlds, or neceffity of paffing the Atlantick sea.
The numbers to whom any real and perceptible good or evil can be derived by the greatest power, or most active diligence, are inconfiderable; and where neither benefit nor mischief operate, the only motive to the mention or remembrance of others is curiosity; a paffion, which, though in fome degree univerfally affociated to reafon, is easily confined, overborne, or diverted from any particular object.
Among the lower claffes of mankind, there will be found very little defire of any other knowledge, than what may contribute immediately to the relief of fome preffing uneafinefs, or the attainment of fome
some near advantage. The Turks are faid to hear with wonder a propofal to walk out, only that they may walk back; and inquire why any man fhould labour for nothing? fo thofe whofe condition has always restrained them to the contemplation of their own neceffities, and who have been accustomed to look forward only to a small distance, will fcarcely underftand, why nights and days fhould be spent in ftudies, which end in new ftudies, and which, according to Malherbe's obfervation, do not tend to leffen the price of bread; nor will the trader or manufacturer eafily be perfuaded, that much pleasure can arise from the mere knowledge of actions, performed in remote regions, or in diftant times; or that any thing can deferve their inquiry, of which κλέος οἷον ἀκέομεν, ¿de Toue, we can only hear the report, but which cannot influence our lives by any confequences.
The truth is, that very few have leisure from indifpenfable bufinefs, to employ their thoughts upon narrative or characters; and among those to whom fortune has given the liberty of living more by their own choice, many create to themfelves engagements, by the indulgence of fome petty ambition, the admiffion of fome infatiable defire, or the toleration of some predominant paffion. The man whofe whole wifh is to accumulate money, has no other care than to collect intereft, to estimate fecurities, and to engage for mortgages: the lover difdains to turn his ear to any other name than that of Corinna; and the courtier thinks the hour loft, which is not spent in promoting his intereft, and facilitating his advancement. The adventures of valour, and the discoveries of science, will find a cold reception, when they