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that remark in holy writ, that "though a wise man seek to find out the works of God from the beginning to the end, yet shall he not be able to do it."
'I cannot help mentioning here one character more of a different kind indeed from these, yet such an one as may serve to show the wonderful force of nature and of application, and is the most singular instance of an universal genius I have ever met with. The person I mean is Leonardo da Vinci, an Italian painter, descended from a noble family in Tuscany, about the beginning of the sixteenth century. In his profession of historypainting he was so great a master, that some have affirmed he excelled all who went before him. It is certain that he raised the envy of Michael Angelo, who was his contemporary, and that from the study of his works, Raphael himself learned his best manner of designing. He was a master too in sculpture and architecture, and skilful in anatomy, mathematics, and mechanics. The aqueduct from the river Adda to Milan is mentioned as a work of his contrivance. He had learned several languages, and was acquainted with the studies of history, philosophy, poetry, and music. Though it is not necessary to my present purpose, I cannot but take notice, that all who have writ of him mention likewise his perfection of body. The instances of his strength are almost incredible. He is described to have been of a well-formed person, and a master of all genteel exercises. And lastly, we are told that his moral qualities were agreeable to his natural and intellectual endowments, and that he was of an honest and generous mind, adorned with great
* He was born in 1445, and died in 1520.
sweetness of manners. I might break off the account of him here, but I imagine it will be an entertainment to the curiosity of my readers, to find so remarkable a character distinguished by as remarkable a circumstance at his death. The fame of his works having gained him an universal es+ teem, he was invited to the court of France, where, after some time, he fell sick; and Francis the First coming to see him, he raised himself in his bed to acknowledge the honour which was done him by that visit. The king embraced him, and Leonardo, fainting in the same moment, expired in the arms of that great monarch.
It is impossible to attend to such instances as these without being raised into a contemplation on the wonderful nature of an human mind, which is capable of such progressions in knowledge, and can contain such a variety of ideas without perplexity or confusion, How reasonable is it from hence to infer its divine original! And whilst we find unthinking matter endued with a natural power to last for ever, unless annihilated by Omnipotence, how absurd would it be to imagine that a being so much superior to it should not have the same privilege!
"At the same time it is very surprising, when we remove our thoughts from such instances as I have mentioned, to consider those we so frequently meet with in the accounts of barbarous nations among the Indians; where we find numbers of people who scarce show the first glimmerings of reason, and seem to have few ideas above those of sense and appetite. These, methinks, appear like large wilds, or vast uncultivated tracts of human nature; and, when we compare them with men of the most exalted characters in arts and
learning, we find it difficult to believe that they are creatures of the same species.
'Some are of opinion that the souls of men are all naturally equal, and that the great disparity, we so often observe, arises from the different organization or structure of the bodies to which they are ted. But, whatever constitutes this first disparity, the next great difference which we find between men in their several acquirements is owing to accidental differences in their education, fortunes, or course of life. The soul is a kind of rough diamond, which requires art, labour and time to polish it. For want of which many a good natural genius is lost, or lies unfashioned, like a jewel in the mine.
'One of the strongest incitements to excel in such arts and accomplishments as are in the highest esteem among men, is the natural passion which the mind of man has for glory; which, though it may be faulty in the excess of it, ought by no means to be discouraged. Perhaps some moralists are too severe in beating down this principle, which seems to be a spring implanted by nature to give motion to all the latent powers of the soul, and is always observed to exert itself with the greatest force in the most generous dispositions. The men whose characters have shone the brightest among the ancient Romans, appear to have been strongly animated by this passion. Cicero, whose learning and services to his country are so well known, was inflamed by it to an extravagant degree, and warmly presses Lucceius, who was composing a history of those times, to be very particular and zealous in relating the story of his consulship; and to execute it speedily, that he might have the pleasure of enjoying in his life-time some part of the honour
which he foresaw would be paid to his memory. This was the ambition of a great mind; but he is faulty in the degree of it, and cannot refrain from soliciting the historian upon this occasion to neglect the strict laws of history, and, in praising him, even to exceed the bounds of truth. The younger Pliny appears to have had the same passion for fame, but accompanied with greater chasteness and modesty. Pis ingenious manner of owning it to a friend, who had prompted him to undertake some great work, is exquisitely beautiful, and raises him to a certain grandeur above the imputation of vanity. "I must confess," says he," that nothing employs my thoughts more than the desire I have of perpetuating my name; which is in my opinion a design worthy of a man, at least of such an one, who, being conscious of no guilt, is not afraid to be remembered by posterity."
"I think I ought not to conclude without interesting all my readers in the subject of this discourse: I shall therefore lay it down as a maxim, that though all are not capable of shining in learning or the politer arts, yet every one is capable of excelling in something. The soul has in this respect a certain vegetative power which cannot lie wholly idle. If it is not laid out and cultivated into a regular and beautiful garden, it will of itself shoot up in weeds or flowers of a wilder growth."
No. 555. SATURDAY, DEC. 6, 1712.
Respue quod non es
Lay the fictitious character aside.
ALL the members of the imaginary society, which were described in my first papers, having disap
PERS. Sat. iv. 51.
peared one after another, it is high time for the Spectator himself to go off the stage. But now I am to take my leave, I am under much greater anxiety than I have known for the work of any day since I undertook this province. It is much more difficult to converse with the world in a real than a personated character. That might pass for humour in the Spectator, which would look like arrogance in a writer who sets his name to his work. The fictitious person might condemn those who disapproved him, and extol his own performances without giving offence. He might assume a mock authority, without being looked upon as vain and conceited. The praises or censures of himself fall only upon the creature of his imagination; and, if any one finds fault with him, the author may reply with the philosopher of old, thou dost but beat the case of Anaxarches.' When I speak in my own private sentiments, I cannot but address myself to my readers in a more submissive manner, and with a just gratitude for the kind reception which they have given to these daily papers, which have been published for almost the space of two years last past.
I hope the apology I have made, as to the license allowable to a feigned character, may excuse any thing which has been said in these discourses of the Spectator and his works; but the imputation of the grossest vanity would still dwell upon me, if I did not give some account by what means I was enabled to keep up the spirit of so long and approved a performance. All the papers marked with a C, an L, an I, or an O, that is to say, all the papers which I have distinguished by any letter in the name of the muse Clio, were given me by the gentleman of whose as