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remarkable a character distinguished by as remarkable a circumstance at his death. The fame of his works having gained him an universal esteem, he was invited to the court of France, where, after some time, he fell sick; and Francis the First coming to see him, he raised himself in his bed to acknowledge the honour which was done him by that visit. The king embraced him, and Leonardo, fainting in the same moment, expired in the arms of that great monarch.
It is impossible to attend to such instances as these without being raised into a contemplation on the wonderful nature of an human mind, which is capable of such progressions in knowledge, and can contain such a variety of ideas without perplexity or confusion. How reasonable is it from hence to infer its divine original! And whilst we find unthinking matter endued with a natural power to last for ever, unless annihilated by Omnipotence, how absurd would it be to imagne that a being so much superior to it should not have the same privelege!
At the same time it is very surprising, when we remove our thoughts from such instances as I have mentioned, to consider those we so frequently meet with in the accounts of barbarous nations among the Indians; where we find numbers of people who scarce show the first glimmerings of reason, and seem to have few ideas above those of sense and appetite. These, methinks, appear like large wilds, or vast uncultivated tracts of human nature; and, when we compare them with men of the most exalted characters in arts and learning, we find it difficult to believe that they are creatures of the same species.
'Some are of opinion that the souls of men are all naturally equal, and that the great disparity, we so often observe, arises from the different organi
zation or structure of the bodies to which they are united. But, whatever constitutes this first disparity, the next great difference which we find between men in their several acquirements is owing to accidental differences in their education, fortunes, or course of life. The soul is a kind of rough diamond, which requires art, labour, and time to polish it. For want of which many a good natural genius is lost, or lies unfashioned, like a jewel in the mine.
'One of the strongest incitements to excel in such arts and accomplishments as are in the highest esteem among men, is the natural passion which the mind of man has for glory; which, though it may be faulty in the excess of it, ought by no means to be discouraged. Perhaps some moralists are too severe in beating down this principle, which seems to be a spring implanted by nature to give motion to all the latent powers of the soul, and is always observed to exert itself with the greatest force in the most generous dispositions. The men whose characters have shone the brightest among the ancient Romans, appear to have been strongly animated by this passion. Cicero, whose learning and services to his country are so well known, was inflamed by it to an extravagant degree, and warmly presses Lucceius, who was composing a history of those times, to be very particular and zealous in relating the story of his consulship; and to execute it speedily, that he might have the pleasure of enjoying in his life time some part of the honour which he foresaw would be paid to his memory. This was the ambition of a great mind; but he is faulty in the degree of it, and canuot refrain from soliciting the historian upon this occasion to neglect the strict laws of history, and, in praising him, even to exceed the bounds of truth. The younger Pliny appears to have had the same
passion for fame, but accompanied with greater chasteness and modesty. His ingenious manner of owning it to a friend, who had prompted him to undertake some great work, is exquisitely beautiful, and raises him to a certain grandeur above the imputation of vanity.. "I must confess," says he, "that nothing employs my thoughts more than the desire I have of perpetuating my name; which in my opinion is a design worthy of a man, at least of such an one, who, being conscious of no guilt, is not afraid to be remembered by posterity."
'I think I ought not to conclude without interesting all my readers in the subject of this discourse: I shall therefore lay it down as a maxim, that though all are not capable of shining in learning or the politer arts, yet every one is capable of excelling in something. The soul has in this respect a certain vegetative power which cannot lie wholly idle. If it is not laid out and cultivated into a regular and beautiful garden, it will of itself shoot up in weeds or flowers of a wilder growth.
N° 555. SATURDAY, DEC. 6, 1712.
Respue quod non es
Lay the fictitious character aside.
PERS. Sat. iv. 51.
ALL the members of the imaginary society, which were described in my first papers, having disappeared one after another, it is high time for the Spectator himself to go off the stage. But now I am to take my leave, I am under much greater anxiety
than I have known for the work of any day since I undertook this province. It is much more difficult to converse with the world in a real than a personated character. That might pass for humour in the Spectator, which would look like arrogance in a writer who sets his name to his work. The fictitious person might condemn those who disapproved him, and extol his own performances without giving offence. He might assume a mock authority, without being looked upon as vain and conceited. The praises or censures of himself fall only upon the creature of his imagination; and, if any one finds fault with him, the author may reply with the philosopher of old, thou dost but beat the case of Anaxarchus.' When I speak in my own private sentiments, I cannot but address myself to my readers in a more submissive manner, and with a just gratitude for the kind reception which they have given to these daily papers which have been published for almost the space of two years last past.
I hope the apology I have made, as to the license allowable to a feigned character, may excuse any thing which has been said in these discourses of the Spectator and his works; but the imputation of the grossest vanity would still dwell upon me, if I did not give some account by what means I was enabled to keep up the spirit of so long and approved a performance. All the papers marked with a C, an L, an I, or an O, that is to say, all the papers which 1 have distinguished by any letter in the name of the muse Clio, were given me by the gentleman of whose assistance I formerly boasted in the preface and concluding leaf of my Tatlers*. I am indeed much more proud of his long continued friendship, than I should be of the fame of being thought the
author of any writings which he himself is capable of producing. I remember, when I finished The Tender Husband, I told him there was nothing I so ardently wished, as that we might some time or other publish a work, written by us both, which should bear the name of The Monument, in memory of our friendship. I heartily wish what I have done here was as honorary to that sacred name, as learning, wit, and humanity, render those pieces which I have taught the reader how to distinguish for his. When the play above mentioned was last acted, there were so many applauded strokes in it which I had from the same hand, that I thought very meanly of myself that I have never publicly acknowledged them. After I have put other friends upon importuning him to publish dramatic as well as other writings he has by him, I shall end what I think I am obliged to say on this head, by giving my reader this hint for the better judging of my productions-that the best comment upon them would be an account when the patron to The Tender Husband was in England or abroad.
The reader will also find some papers which are marked with the letter X. for which he is obliged to the ingenious gentleman who diverted the town with the epilogue to The Distressed Mother. I might have owned these several papers with the free consent of these gentlemen, who did not write them with a design of being known for the authors. But, as a candid and sincere behaviour ought to be preferred to all other considerations, I would not let my heart reproach me with a consciousness of having acquired a praise which is not my right.
The other assistances which I have had, have been conveyed by letter, sometimes by whole papers, and other times by short hints from unknown hands. I have not been able to trace favours of this kind with