Open main menu

Page:Samuel Johnson (1911).djvu/85

This page needs to be proofread.


to boast; but the hour will come when he should exert them, and then, whatever he en- joyed in praise, he must suffer in reproach.

Applause and admiration are by no means to be counted among the necessaries of life, and therefore any indirect arts to obtain them have very little claim to pardon or compas- sion. There is scarcely any man without some valuable or improveable qualities, by which he might always secure himself from con- tempt. And perhaps exemption from ignominy is the most eligible reputation, as freedom from pain is, among some philosophers, the definition of happiness.

If we therefore compare the value of the praise obtained by fictitious excellence, even while the cheat is yet undiscovered, with that kindness which every man may suit by his virtue, and that esteem to which most men may rise by common understanding steadily and honestly applied, we shall find that when from the adscititious happiness all the deduc- tions are made by fear and casualty, there will remain nothing equiponderant to the se- curity of truth. The state of the possessor of humble virtues, to the affecter of great ex- cellences, is that of a small cottage of stone, to the palace raised with ice by the Empress of Russia; it was for a time splendid and

�� �