Prose: Adam Smith - Of Ambition Misdirected - Links

Posted by ricardo marcenaro | Posted in | Posted on 17:20






OF AMBITION MISDIRECTED
  From the Theory of Moral Sentiments.




To attain to this envied situation, the candidates for fortune too frequently abandon the paths of virtue; for unhappily, the road which leads to the one, and that which leads to the other, lie sometimes in very opposite directions. But the ambitious man flatters himself that, in the splendid situation to which he advances, he will have so many means of commanding the respect and admiration of mankind, and will be enabled to act with such superior propriety and grace, that the luster of his future conduct will entirely cover or efface the foulness of the steps by which he arrived at that elevation. In many governments the candidates for the highest stations are above the law, and if they can attain the object of their ambition, they have no fear of being called to account for the means by which they acquired it. They often endeavor, therefore, not only by fraud and falsehood, the ordinary and vulgar arts of intrigue and cabal, but sometimes by the perpetration of the most enormous crimes, by murder and assassination, by rebellion and civil war, to supplant and destroy those who oppose or stand in the way of their greatness. They more frequently miscarry than succeed, and commonly gain nothing but the disgraceful punishment which is due to their crimes.

But tho they should be so lucky as to attain that wished-for greatness, they are always most miserably disappointed in the happiness which they expect to enjoy in it. It is not ease or pleasure, but always honor, of one kind or another, tho frequently an honor very ill understood, that the ambitious man really pursues. But the honor of his exalted station appears, both in his own eyes and in those of other people, polluted and defiled by the baseness of the means through which he rose to it. Tho by the profusion of every liberal expense; tho by excessive indulgence in every profligate pleasure—the wretched but usual resource of ruined characters; tho by the hurry of public business, or by the prouder and more dazzling tumult of war, he may endeavor to efface, both from his own memory and from that of other people, the remembrance of what he has done, that remembrance never fails to pursue him. He invokes in vain the dark and dismal powers of forgetfulness and oblivion. He remembers himself what he has done, and that remembrance tells him that other people must likewise remember it. Amidst all the gaudy pomp of the most ostentatious greatness, amidst the venal and vile adulation of the great and of the learned, amidst the more innocent tho more foolish acclamations of the common people, amidst all the pride of conquest and the triumph of successful war, he is still secretly pursued by the avenging furies of shame and remorse; and while glory seems to surround him on all sides, he himself, in his own imagination, sees black and foul infamy fast pursuing him, and every moment ready to overtake him from behind.

Even the great Cæsar, tho he had the magnanimity to dismiss his guards, could not dismiss his suspicions. The remembrance of Pharsalia still haunted and pursued him. When, at the request of the senate, he had the generosity to pardon Marcellus, he told that assembly that he was not unaware of the designs which were carrying on against his life; but that, as he had lived long enough both for nature and for glory, he was contented to die, and therefore despised all conspiracies. He had, perhaps, lived long enough for nature; but the man who felt himself the object of such deadly resentment, from those whose favor he wished to gain, and whom he still wished to consider as his friends, had certainly lived too long for real glory, or for all the happiness which he could ever hope to enjoy in the love and esteem of his equals.










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  1. Adam Smith - Wikipedia, la enciclopedia libre

    es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam_Smith
    Adam Smith (5 de junio de 1723 – 17 de julio de 1790) fue un economista y filósofo escocés, uno de los mayores exponentes de la economía clásica.
  2. Adam Smith - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam_Smith - Traducir esta página
    Adam Smith (baptised 16 June 1723 – 17 July 1790 [OS: 5 June 1723 – 17 July 1790]) was a Scottish social philosopher and a pioneer of political economy.






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