« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
N° 81. SATURDAY, August 19, 1786. THE Love of Fame, « that last infirmity
- “ of noble minds,” though it may sometimes expose its votaries to a certain degree of blame or of ridicule, is in the main a useful paffion. In the present age, I have often thought, that, instead of being restrained, a love of fame and of glory ought to be encouraged, as an inçitement to virtue, and to virtuous actions. From various causes, which I mean not at prefent to investigate, this passion seems to have lost its usual force ; it has almost ceased to be a motive of action; and its place seems now to be fupplied by a sordid love of gain, by which men of every rank and of every station appear to be actuated. In the Camp, as upon Change, profit and lofs is the great object of attention. When a young soldier sets out on an expedition against the enemies of his country, he does not now talk so much of the honour and reputation he is to acquire, as of the profit he expects to reap from his conquests. Accordingly we have seen gallant officers metamorphosed into skilful merchants, who, though they had fpirit enough to expose themselves to “ the cannon's mouth,”
were very much disposed to seek something there more folid than " the bubble Reputa« tion.”
The Roman triumph, which to us wears fo barbarous an appearance, was intended to excite this love of glory; and if we may judge from eonsequences, it was a wife and useful inftitu- tion. In our own country, it rarely happens that distinguished military merit is allowed to pass unnoticed and unrewarded. There is something indeed fo dazzling in the glory of a hero, that, when not restrained by motives of jealousy or of envy, we are apt rather to heighten than to detract from it. If, therefore, it be true that our fleets and armies have of late made a less distinguishing figure than in former times, it certainly cannot be attributed to any want of public honour or public applause.
But there is a species of merit less brilliant, though not perhaps less useful or less praiseworthy, which often is disregarded by the world, and in general entitles its poffeffor to little attention while alive, and to little fame after his death. There is a sort of military spirit and honour which is sometimes opposed to the fame qualities in a civil sense ; and a young man, when he puts on his uniform, often thinks himself exempted from the obligation to certain dua ties which he allows to be commendable enough
in the sons of peace. A want of attention to his own interest, or the interest of thofe connected with him, a degree of dissipation and extravagance equally hurtful to both, are held as venial offences in a soldier, whose business is to march and to fight, but who is not bound to think or to feel. Yet true nobleness of mind is every where the same, and may be equally shown in the honourable dealings of private life, as in the most fplendid exertions of spirit or of valour. As the Historian of character and manners, (in which light a periodical author, to be of any. use at all, must be considered,) I am happy when I have an opportunity of recording any example of that more humble merit which other annalists have no room to celebrateIn this view, I was much pleased with an anecdote I was told t'other day, of General W , one of Queen Anne's Generals. It is not, however, as a soldier (although he pofseffed great profeffional merit) that I wish to introduce General W to my readers. · Mr. W- obtained an ensigncy in the army when rather more advanced in life than most of the captains of the present times, who make so fine a figure upon all occafions, in their green, red, and white feathers, and whose heads at every assembly rival those of our most. fashionablé ladies. From the time Mr. W joined "s his regiment, he was distinguished for an unwearied attention to the duties of his station, When he appeared in public, or upon duty, his dress and deportment were always decent and proper. Of his manner of life in private, even his brother-officers were for some time ignorant. He did not mess with them, and he partook of none of their expenfive pleasures and amusements. At length it was discovered, that he fared worse, and lived on less, than any private soldier in the regiment. The good sense and the known fpirit of Mr.
W p reserved him from the ridicule and contempt with which this: discovery might otherwise have been attended. His merit as an officer mean-while recommended Mr. W— to the notice of his superiors ; he was promoted from time to time; but no promotion ever made any alteration on his mode of life. After serving with distinguished reputation under King William, Mr.
W w ent to Flanders in the beginning of the Duke of Marlborough's campaigns, in the course of which he was promoted to the rank of General, and obtained the command of a regiment. Al though his income was now great, he still lived with the utmost parsimony; and even those who esteemed him the most were obliged to ale low that his love of money (which they confidered as a fort of disease) exceeded all bounds:
it of the with their cat recei
His enemies, however, were forced to acknowledge, that in all his transactions he was perfectly honourable, and that his love of money never led him to commit injustice. In one of the last years of the war, General
a nd his regiment went into winter-quarters at Ghent. About the middle of winter his officers were astonished at receiving an invitation to dine with their Colonel for the first time. Most of the principal officers in the garrison received with equal surprise a similar invitation. Upon the day appointed they went to the General's house, where they were received with a kindly cheerful welcome, proceeding from a mind at ease, and satisfied with itself, more engaging to the feelings of our guests than the most finished politeness. After an elegant dinner, wines of every kind were placed upon the table; and as the General knew that some of his guests did not dislike their glass, he pushed the bottle briskly about. The company were more and more astonished ; at length fome of them took the liberty to express what all of them felt. “I “ do not wonder at your surprise,” said General W , « and in justice to myself I must “ take this occasion to explain a conduct which 6 hitherto must have appeared extraordinary to " all of you. You must know, then, that I “ was bred a linen-draper in London. Early in