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APPLES OF GOLD - NO. 10
ON PRAISE AND VAING-LO RY.
The love of praise, howe'er conceal'd by art,
The morlest shun it, but to make it sure. PRAISE is the reflection of virtue ; but it is as the glass which gives the reflection. If it proceed from the ignorant and vulgar, it is commonly false and hollow, following the vain rather than the virtuous; for the vulgar understand nothing of many excellent virtues. They praise the lowest, they wonder at and admire the middle virtues; but they have neither any sense nor conception of the most exalted : they are best served with the empty shows and semblances of virtue-species virtutibus similes. Fame, indeed, is like a river, which bears afloat things light and swollen, but submerges those that are weighty and solid. If
, however, persons of consideration and judgment concur, then as the scripture says, “A good name is like precious ointment.” It fills all round about, and the sweetness of the savor remains, for such odors are more durable than those of flowers,
There are so many false points of praise, that it may justly be regard. ed as suspicious. Some praises come of flattery merely. An ordinary flatterer, bas certain common attributes, which may serve every man ; the canning flatterer will follow closely the arch flatterer, that is—a man's self; and wherein a man thinks best of himself, therein a cunning flatterer will uphold him most. But the impudent flatterer, will insist upon ascribing that to a man, wherein he is conscious to himself that he is most defective, spreta conscientia. Some praises proceed from good wishes and respect, and constitute the forms of civility due to great personages; laudando procipere ; when by telling them what they are, they represent what they should be Certainly moderate praise, use opportunely, not vulgar, but discreet, does good.
For who would ever care to do brave deed
None would choose goodness of his own free will.-SPENCER. Some men are praised maliciously to their hurt, in order to stir envy and jealousy towards them ; pessimum genus inimicorum laudantium -the worst enemies are those who falsely praise. Solomon says, “ He that praiseth his friend aloud, rising early, it shall be to him no better than a curse." Too much magnifying of man or matter, excites contradiction and irritates envy and scorn. Hence the proverb; Save me from my friends ; that is, from their indiscreet praises.
The worthiness of praise distains his worth,
To praise one's self cannot be decent, except in rare cases; but to praise a man's office or profession may consist with a good grace and a kind of magnanimity. St. Paul, when he boasts of himself, often interlaces, “I speak like a fool;" but speaking of his calling, he boldly says, " magnificalo apostolatum meum "- I will magnify mine office.
Praise not men to their faces, to the end that they may pay you in the same coin; nor allow others to be so free with you as to praise you to your face. By this abstinence your love of esteem will be more fully gratified; men will praise you in their actions, and where you might receive one compliment you will enjoy twenty civilities.
The love of just praise is an exalted passion and stirs the mind of every extraordinary person. Those who are most affected with it, seem most to partake of that particle of the divinity which distinguishes mankind from the inferior creation. The Supreme Being himself is most pleased with praise and thanksgiving, which is the immediate adoration of his perfections; whilst the other part of our duty is but an acknowledgment of our faults. It has been well remarked, that we then only despise commendation when we cease to deserve it. Just praise is that which is appropriate and true.
All praise is foreign but of true desert,
Than Cæsar with a Senate at his beels. But whilst the virtuous desire satisfaction from just praise alone, the vain-glorious are gratified with any commendation however indiscriminate; not hesitating, indeed, to be their own trumpeters. It was ingeniously conceived of Æsop : The fly sat upon the axle tree of the chariot wheel, and said, What a dust do I ra se!" So with some boastful persons—whatsoever moves forward independently or by some greater means, if they have ever so little band in it, they fancy that they carry it along. The vain-glorious must needs be factious, for all ostentation stands upon comparisons. They must needs be violent to make good their own vaunts. They cannot be secret, nor therefore efficient; but it is with them according to the French proverb, “Beaucoup de bruit, peu de fruit;" "Much bruit, little fruit.”
“Much bruit, little fruit." And yet there is use of this quality in civil affairs; as where, for instance, it is desirable to raise an opinion or fame of virtue or greatness, these men are good trumpeters. Again, as Livy notes in the case of Antiochus and the Ætolians, there are sometimes great effects of cross lies, when a man negotiating between two princes, to induce them to join in a war against a third, extols the forces of either of them above measure to the other. So sometimes he that deals between man and woan, raises his own credit with both, by pretending greater interest than he has in either. And in these and the like examples, it often falls out-contrary to the proverb -Ex nihilo nil fit, that something is produced of nothing: for lies are sufficient to breed opinion, and opinion begets substance. In military men, vain-glory is essential, for as iron sharpens iron, so by glory the courage of one sharpens that of another. In great enterprizes involving charge and adventure, a composition of glorious or boastful natures puts life into business, while sober and solid natures have more of the ballast than of the sail. In fame of learning the flight will be slow, without some feathers of ostentation. “Even those who write books on the Contempt of Glory, inscribe their names on the title page. Socrates, Aristotle and Galen, were men of ostentation. Undoubtedly vain-glory helps to perpetuate a man's memory. Nor bad the fame of Ci. cero, Seneca, or Pliny the younger, flourished with such vigor, if it had not been joined with some vanity in themselves—which is like varnish upon walls, causing them not only to shine but endure. When I speak of vain-glory, however, I mean not that property which Tacitus attribates to Mucianus :
discerat feceratque, arte quadam ostentator,"—the art of giving grace and dignity to whatsover he did or uttered. He touched nothing, that he did not adorn; for that proceeds not of vanity, but of natural magnanimity or discretion, and in some persons is not only comely, but gracious. Excuses, apologies, concessions, modesty itself, well governed, are but arts of ostentation; and among those arts there is none better than Pliny the younger men. tions; which is, to be liberal of praise and commendation to others in that wherein you have any excellence yourself. “In commending another,” says he wittily, "you do yourself right; for he is either superior to you in that you commend, or inferior. If inferior, and he is to be commended, then you much more. If superior, and he is not to be commended, then you much less." Ostentatious and vain-glorious men are the scorn of the wise, the admiration of fools, the idols of parasites, and the slaves of their own vaunts.
LIFE IS FADING.
Time is drawing nearer, nearer,
While our heads are turning gray:
Flowers are blooming to decay;
Over life's eventful spray,
O'er the fame-lit brow of clay,
Fame is dazzling to betray;
Death a seeker for his prey,
FRIDOLIN, a pious farmer, had a hired man who was very passionate, and was given to the rudest and most angry words. Fridolin often exhorted him that, from love to God, he should overcome his passion. But the man said: “It is not possible for me to do it ; I am too greatly provoked by man and beast."
One morning Fridolin said to him : " Mathias, behold here a beautifol new dollar ! I will give you this if you will remain patient throughout this day, and not suffer an angry word to escape your lips.” The man accepted the proposal with joy.
The other men on the farm now secretly agreed that they would cause him to lose the dollar. In all they said and did through the day, they only sought to provoke him to anger. But Mathias was so guarded that not a single angry word escaped him.
In the evening Fridolin gave him the dollar and said : “Shame on you that from love to a miserable piece of money you have refrained from
you are not willing to do it from love to God !" Thus reproved, Mathias changed his course of life, and became a meek and pleasani man.
If love to God but penetrate the heart,
XLVI.- THE MONEY PURSE.
Norbert, the little son of a collier, sat under a tree in the woods, sorrowing, weeping and praying. A wealthy lord, in a green dress with a star on his breast, hunting in the forest, at that moment passing by, said to him: “Little man, why do you weep?"
"Alas !” said Norbert, “my mother has been sick a long time, and my father sent me to town to pay the Doctor, and on the way I lost the purse with the money."
The wealthy lord spoke a moment privately with the hunter who was with him, then drew from bis pocket a small red silken purse,
which contained several new gold pieces, and said: "Perhaps this is your purse ?" "O no,” said Norbert, my purse was a very old one, and there was not so much money in it."
“Then it must be this one," said the hunter, holding forth a small old purse, "O yes,” said Norbert full of joy, " that is it.” The hunter gave it to him; and the kind lord said : “Because you are pious and honest, I will present you this purse of gold,” and he gave it to him.
Prayer in need is strongest,
And honesty wears longest. Stephen, another boy from the nearest village, heard of this affair. As soon, therefore, as the noble lord went again into the forest, Stephen went and sat under a pine-tree in the woods, and cried and wept: “O my purse! O my purse! I have lost my money purse !"
The lord came to him, showed him a full purse, and asked : “Is this the purse which you have lost ?" "Yes," exclaimed Stephen, and reached toward it with both hands.
But the hunter, who stood beside his lord, said with reproving voice: “ Shameless fellow ! do you thus undertake to belie my lord. I will pay. you for your wickedness with other coin.” He broke a whip from an elder busb, and punished him as the wicked cheat had deserved.
Dishonesty displeases God,
XLVII- THE SILVER WATCH.
Ernest, a poor student, once staid over night in a mill. He slept on a bench in the lower story. At midnight he wakened, and heard something clicking at the wall. He looked and saw by the light of the moon, that it was a silver watch.
There arose in him a strong desire to take the watch and escape by the window. True, his conscience said : “ Thou shalt not steal ;" but his desire for the beautiful silver watch became every moment stronger. At length he sprang up at once and went out through the window in order to escape from the growing temptation.
When he had walked several hundred paces, he began to be sorry that he had not taken the watch, and he was ready to go back for it; but his conscience warned him again; he listened to its voice and went on.
Now the moon set behind the hills, and it was very dark. Ernest lost himself in a swamp, but at length reached high ground again. There, being weary, he laid down and soon slept soundly. At break of day be was awakened by a fearful noise, and as he opened his eyes he was filled with alarm at a fearful sight before him.
He found himself lying right under a gallows, and above him hang & thief, and around him hovered a whole flock of noisy vultures. Then he felt as if a voice within him said : “Behold, thus in the end it would have been with you, had you yielded to the temptation to steal.” He kneeled down and prayed ;
O God, Thou leadest us in many ways,
"NOT LOST, BUT GONE BEFORE."
And wouldst thou call thy loved one back,
From his ight home of stainless bliss,
Of such a weary world as this?
And though ye meet on earth no more,
· Not lost, but only gone before."