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* Though now he shuns thy longing arms,
Madarn Dacier observes, there is something very pretty in that circumstance of this ode, wherein Venus is described as sending away her chariot upon her arrival at Sappho's lodgings, to denote that it was not a short, transient visit which she intended to make her. This ode was preserved by an eminent Greek critic, * who inserted it entire in his works, as a pattern of perfection in the structure of it.
Longinus has quoted another ode of this great poetess, which is likewise admirable in its kind, and has been translated by the same hand with the foregoing one. I shall oblige my reader with it in another paper. (229). In the meanwhile I can not but wonder, that these two finished pieces have never been attempted before by any of our own countrymen.
But the truth of it is, the compositions of the ancients, which have not in them any of those unnatural witticisms that are the delight of ordinary readers, are extremely difficult to render it into another tongue, so as the beauties of the original may not appear weak and faded in the translation. ADDISON.
* Dionysius of Halicarnassus, de Structura Orationis.
No. 224. FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 16.
-Fulgente trahit constrictos gloria curru Non minus ignotos generosis,
Hor. -Glory's shining chariot swiftly draws, With equal whirl, the noble and the base. CREECH.
If we look abroad upon the great multitude of mankind, and endeavour to trace out the principles of action in every individual, it will, I think, seem highly probable that ambition runs through the whole species, and that every man, in proportion to the vigour of his complexion, is more or less actuated by it. It is indeed no uncommon thing to meet with men who, by the natural bent of their inclinations, and without the discipline of philosophy, aspire not to the heights of power and grandeur; who never set their hearts upon a numerous train of clients and dependencies, nor other gay appendages of atness; who are contented with a competency, and will not molest their tranquillity to gain an abundance; but it is not therefore to be concluded that such a man is not ambitious; his desires may have cut out another channel, and determined him to other pursuits; the motive, however, may be still the same;
and in these cases likewise the man may be equally pushed on with the desire of distinction.
Though the pure consciousness of worthy actions abstracted from the views of popular applause, be to a generous mind an ample reward, yet the desire of distinction was doubtless implanted in our natures to an additional incentive to exert ourselves in virtuous excellence.
This passion, indeed, like all others, is frequently perverted to evil and ignoble purposes; so that we may account for many of the excellencies and follies of life upon the same innate principle, to wit, the desire of being remarkable; for this, as it has been differently cultivated by education, study, and converse, will bring forth suitable effects, as it falls in with an ingenuous disposition, or a corrupt mind: it does accord ingly express itself in acts of magnanimity or selfish cunning, as it meets with a good or a weak understanding. As it has been employed in embellishing the mind, or adorning the outside, it renders the man eminently praiseworthy or ridiculous. Ambition therefore is not to be confined only to one passion or pursuit: for as the same humours, in constitutions otherwise different, affect the body after different manners, so the same aspiring principle within us, sometimes breaks forth upon one object, sometimes upon another.
It can not be doubted, but that there is as great desire of glory, in a ring of wrestlers or cudgelplayers, as in any other more refined competition for superiority. No man that could avoid ic, would ever suffer his head to be broken but out of a principle of honour. This is the secret spring that pushes them forward; and the superiority
which they gain above the undistinguished many, does inore than repair those wounds they have received in the combat. It is Mr. Waller's opinion, that Julius Cæsar, had he not been master of the Roman empire, would in all probability have made an excellent wrestler.
Great Julius, on the mountains bred,
But the best wrestler on the green. That he subdued the world, was owing to the accidents of art and knowledge: had he not met with those advantages, the same sparks of emulation would have kindled within him, and prompted him to distinguish himself in some enterprise of a lower nature. Since therefore no man's lot is so unalterably fixed in this life, but that a thousand accidents may either forward or disappoint his advancement, it is, methinks, a pleasant and inoffensive speculation, to consider a great man as divested of all the adventitious circumstances of fortune, and to bring him down in one's imagination to that low station of life, the nature of which bears some distant resemblance to that high one he is at present possessed of. Thus one may view him exercising in miniature those talents of nature, which being drawn out by education to their full length, enable him for the uischarge of some important employment. On the other hand, one may raise uneducated merit to such a pitch of greatness as may seem equal to the possible extent of his improved capacity.
Thus nature furnishes a man with a general appetite of glory, eduration determines it to this or that particular object. The desire of distinction is not, I think, in any instance more observable than the variety of outsides and new appearances which the modish part of the world are obliged to provide, in order to make themselves remarkable; for any thing glaring and particular, either in behaviour or apparel, is known to have this good effect, that it catches the eye, and will not suffer you to pass over the person so adorned without due notice and observation. It has, likewise, upon this account, been frequently resented as a very great slight, to leave any gentleman out of a lampoon or satire, who has as much right to be there as his neighbour, because it supposes the person not eminent enough to be taken notice of.
To this passionate fondness for distinction are owing various frolicsome and irregular practices, as sallying out into nocturnal exploits, breaking of windows, singing of catches, beating the watch, getting drunk twice a day, killing a great number of horses; with many other enterprises of the like fiery nature: for certainly many a man is more rakish and extravagant than he would willingly be, were there not others to look on and give their approbation.
One very common, and, at the same time, the most absurd ambition that ever showed itself in human nature, is that which comes upon a man with experience and old age, the season when it might be expected he should be wisest; and therefore it can not receive any of those lessening circumstances which do, in some measure, excuse the disorderly ferments of youthful blood: I mean the passion for getting money, exclusive of the character of the provident father, the af