Who shall estimate the cost of a priceless reputation - that impress which gives this human
dross its currency - without which we stand despised, debased, depreciated? Who shall
repair it injured? Who can redeem it lost? Oh, well and truly does the great philosopher of
poetry esteem the world's wealth as "trash" in the comparison. Without it, gold has no
value; birth, no distinction; station, no dignity; beauty, no charm; age, no reverence; without
it every treasure impoverishes, every grace deforms, every dignity degrades, and all the arts,
the decorations, and accomplishments of life stand, like the beacon-blaze upon a rock,
warning the world that its approach is dangerous; that its contact is death.
The wretch without it is under eternal quarantine; no friend to greet; no home to harbor
him. The voyage of his life becomes a joyless peril; and in the midst of all ambition can
achieve, or avarice amass, or rapacity plunder, he tosses on the surge, a buoyant pestilence.
But let me not degrade into selfishness of individual safety or individual exposure this
individual principle; it testifies a higher, a more ennobling origin.
It is this which, consecrating the humble circle of the hearth, will at times extend itself to the
circumference of the horizon; which nerves the arm of the patriot to save his country; which
lights the lamp of the philosopher to amend man; which, if it does not inspire, will yet
invigorate the martyr to merit immortality; which, when one world's agony is passed, and
the glory of another is dawning, will prompt the prophet, even in his chariot of fire, and in
his vision of Heaven, to bequeath to mankind the mantle of his memory!
Oh, divine! oh, the delightful legacy of a spotless reputation! Rich is the inheritance it leaves;
pious the example it testifies; pure, precious, and imperishable, the hope which it inspires!
Can there be conceived a more atrocious injury than to filch from its possessor this
inestimable benefit - to rob society of its charm, and solitude of its solace; not only to out-law
life, but to attaint death, converting the very grave, the refuge of the sufferer, into the gate of
infamy and of shame!
We can conceive few crimes beyond it. He who plunders one's property takes from him that
which can be repaired by time; but what period can repair a ruined reputation? He who
maims one's person, affects that which medicine my remedy; but what herb has sovereignty
over the wounds of slander? He who ridicules one's poverty, or reproaches one's profession,
upbraids him with that which industry may retrieve, and integrity may purify; but what
riches shall redeem the bankrupt fame? What power shall blanch the sullied snow of
character? There can be no injury more deadly. There can be no crime more cruel. It is
without remedy. It is without antidote. It is without evasion.
The reptile, calumny, is ever on the watch. From the fascinations of its eye no activity can
escape; from the venom of its fang no sanity can recover. It has no enjoyment but crime; it
has no prey but virtue; it has no interval from the restlessness of its malice, save when,
bloated with its victims, it grovels to disgorge them at the withered shrine where envy
idolizes her own infirmities.
Value of Reputation
The Royal Path of Life - Aims and Aids to Success and Happiness - 1882 by T.L. Haines & L.W. Yaggy