Page images


Formam quidem ipfam, Marce fili, et tanquam faciem

honesti vides : quæ si oculis cerneretur, mirabiles amores ( ut ait Plato) excitaret sapientiæ.

TULL. Ofic. You see, my fon Marcus, the very shape and coun

tenance, as it were, of virtue; which if it could be made the object of fight, would (as Plato fays)

excite in us a wonderful love of wisdom. I Do not remember to have read any discourse

written expressly upon the beauty and loveliness of virtue, without considering it as a duty, and as the means of making us happy both now and hereafter. I design therefore this fpeculation as an effay upon that subject, in which I shall consider vir tue no farther than as it is in itself of an amiable nature, after having premised, that I understand by the word virtue such a general notion as is affixed to it by the writers of morality, and which by devout men generally goes under the name of Religion, and by men of the world under the name of Honour.

Hypocrisy itself does great honour, or rather jurtice, to religion, and tacitly acknowledges it to be an ornament to human nature. The hypocrite would not be at so much pains to put on the appearance of virtue, if he did not know it was the most proper and effectual means to gain the love and esteem of mankind.

We learn from Hieracles, it was a common saying among the heathens, that the wife man haies nobody, but only loves the virtuous.

Tully has a very beautiful gradation of thoughts to shew how amiable virtue is. We love a virtuous man, says he, who lives in the remoteft parts of


the earth, though we are altogether out of the reach of his virtue, and can receive from it no manner of benefit ; nay one who died several ages ago, raises a secret fondness and benevolence for himn in our minds, when we read his story : Nay what is ftill more, one who has been the enemy of our country, provided his wars were regulated by justice and humanity, as in the instance of Pyrrhus, whom Tully mentions on this occafion in opposition to Hannibal. Such is the natural beauty and loveliness of virtue.

Stoicism, which was the pedantry of virtue, afcribes all good qualifications of what kind foever, to the virtuous man. Accordingly. Cato, in the characterTully has left of him, carried matters so far, that he would not allow any one but a virtuous man to be handsome. This indeed looks more like a philosophical rant than the real opinion of a wise man; yet this was what Gato very seriously maintained. In short, the Stoicks thought they could not sufficiently represent the excellence of virtue, if they did not comprehend in the notion of it all possible perfections; and therefore did not only fuppofe, that it was transcendently beautiful in itself, but that it made the very body amiable, and banished every kind of deformity from the person in whom it refided.

It is a common observation, that the most abanqloned to all sense of goodness, are apt to wish those who are related to them of a different character ; and it is very observable, that none are more struck, with the charms of virtue in the Fair Sex, than those who by their very admiration of it are carried to a defire of ruining it.

A virtuous mind in a fair body is indeed a fine picture in a good light, and therefore it is no wonder that it makes the beautiful sex all over charms.

As virtue in general is of an amiable and lovely nature, there are fome particular kinds of it which


are more so than others, and thefe are such as difpose us to do good to mankind. Temperance and abstinence, faith and devotion, are in themselves perhaps as laudable as any other virtues; but those which make a man popular and beloved, are justice, charity, and munificence, and, in short, all the good qualities that render us beneficial to each o. ther. For which reason even an extravagant man, who has nothing else to recommend him but a false generosity, is often more beloved and esteemed than a person of a much more finished character, who is defective in this particular.

The two great ornaments of virtue, which shew her in the most advantageous views, and make her altogether lovely, are cheerfulness and good-nature. These generally go together, as a man cannot be agreeable to others who is not easy within himself. They are both very requisite in a virtuous mind, to keep out melancholy from the many serious thoughts it is engaged in, and to hinder its natural hatred of vice from fouring into severity and cenforiousness.

If virtue is of this amiable nature, what can we think of those who can look upon it with an eye

of hatred and ill-will, or can fuffer their aversion for a partý to blot out all the merit of the person who is engaged in it. A man must be excesīvely stupid as well as uncharitable, who believes that there is no virtue but on his own side, and that there are not men as honest as himself who may differ from him in political principles. Men may oppose one another in some particulars, but ought not to carry their hatred to those qualities which are of fo amiable a nature in themselves, and have nothing to do with the points in. dispute. Men of virtue, though of different interests, ought to consider themselves as more nearly united with one another, than with the vicious part of mankind, who embark with trema in the Taine civil concerns. We should bear


the same love towards a man of honour who is a living antagonist, which Tully tells us in the forementioned paffage every one naturally does to an enemy that is dead. In short, we should esteem virtue though in a foe, and abhor vice though in a friend.

I speak this with an eye to those cruel treatments which men of all sides are apt to give the characters of those who do not agree with them. How many persons of undoubted probity and exemplary virtue on either side, are blackened and defamed? How many men of honour exposed to publick obloquy and reproach ? Those therefore who are either the instruments or abertors in such infernal dealings, ought to be looked upon as persons who make use of religion to promote their cause, not of their cause to promote religion.


**** NO 244. MONDAY, DECEMBER 10.

Judex et callidus audis.

Hor. Sat. vii. lib. ii. ver. 101, A judge of painting you, and man of skill.


Covent-Garden, Decem.7 · I CANNOT, without a double injustice, forbear

expressing to you the fatisfaction which a whole © clan of virtuosos have received from those hints

which you have lately given the town on the car

tons of the inimitable Raphael. It should be me5 thinks the business of a SPECTATOR to improve • the pleasures of fight, and there cannot be a inore • immediate way to it than recommending the study 6 and observation of excellent drawings and pic

When I first went to those of Raphael 6 which you

havc celebrated, I must confess I was VoL, III. Ес


[ocr errors]


.but barely pleased; the next time I liked them • better, but at last, as I grew better acquainted ' with them, I fell deeply in love with them, like • wife fpeeches they funk deep into my heart; for

you know, Mr. SPECTATOR, that a man of wit

may extremely affect one for the present, but if ' he has not discretion, his merit foon vanishes a

way, while a wise man that has not a great stock • of wit, shall nevertheless give you a far greater * and more lasting fatisfaction: Just so it is in a

picture that is smartly touched, but not well stu• died; one may call it a witty picture, though the

painter in the mean time may be in danger of being called a fool. On the other hand, a picture that is thoroughly understood in the whole, and well performed in the particulars, that is be

gun on the foundation of geometry, carried on • by the rules of perspective, architecture, and a

natomy, and perfected by a good harmony, a just and natural colouring, and fuch passions and

expressions of the mind as are almoft peculiar to Raphael; this is what you may justly stile a wife · picture, and which feldom fails to strike us dumb, • until we can assemble all our faculties to make • but a tolerable judgment upon it. Other pictures

are made for the eyes only, as rattles are made ( for childrens ears; and certainly that picture that • only pleases the eye, without representing some • well-chosen part of nature or other, does but 5 shew what fine colours are to be sold at the co

lour-fhop, and mocks the works of the Creator. “ If the beít imitator of nature is not to be esteem

ed the best painter, but he that makes the great• eft thow and glare of colours ; it will necessarily

follow, that he who can array himself in the most gaudy draperies is best drest, and he that

can speak loudest the best orator.. Every man e when he looks on a picture should examine it ac

cording to that share of reason he is master of,


« PreviousContinue »