« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
known to possess any share of treasure. His great abilities would necessarily have made him one of the first citizens of Rome; but, disdaining the condition of a subject, he could never rest till he made himself a monarch. In acting this last part, his usual prudence seemed to fail him; as if the height to which he was mounted had turned his head, and made him giddy: for, by a vain ostentation of his power, he destroyed the stability of it; and as men shorten life by living too fast, so, by an intemperance of reigning, he brought his reign to a violent end.
V.CHARACTER OF CATO.
If we consider the character of Cato without prejudice, he was certainly a great and worthy man; a friend to truth, virtue, liberty: yet, falsely measuring all duty by the absurd rigour of the Stoical rule, he was generally disappointed of the end which he sought by it, the happiness both of his private and public life. In his private conduct he was severe, morose, inexorable ; banishing all the softer affections, as natural enemies to justice, and as suggesting false motives of acting, from favour, clemency, and compassion : in public affairs he was the same; bad but one rule of policy, to adhere to what was right, without regard to time or circumstances, or even to a force that could control him ; for, instead of managing the power of the great, so as to mitigate the ill, or extract any good from it, he was urging it always to acts of violence by a perpetual defiance; so that, with the best intentions in the world, he often did great harm to the republic. This was his general behaviour ; yet, from some particular facts, it appears that his strength of mind was not always impregnable, but had its weak places of pride, ambition, and party zeal; which, when managed and flattered to a certain point, would betray him sometimes into measures contrary to his ordinary rule of right and truth. The last act of his life was agreeable to his nature and philosophy: when he could no longer be what he had been, or when the ills of life overbalanced the good, which, by the principles of his sect, was a just cause for dying, he put an end to his life with a spirit and resolution which would make one imagine, that he was glad to have found an occasion of dying in his proper character. On the whole, his life was rather admirable than amiable; fit to be praised rather than imitated.
VI.-A COMPARISON OF CÆSAR WITH CATO.
As to their extraction, years, and eloquence, they were pretty nigh equal. Both of them had the same greatness of mind, both the same degree of glory, but in different ways. Cæsar was celebrated for his great bounty and generosity; Cato for his unsullied integrity: the former became renowned by his humanity and compassion; an austere severity heightened the dignity of the latter. Cæsar acquired glory by a liberal, compassionate, and forgiving temper; as did Cato, by never bestowing any thing. In the one, the miserable found a sanctuary; in the other, the guilty met with certain destruction. Cæsar was admired for an easy, yielding temper; Cato for his immovable firmness; Cæsar, in a word, had formed himself for a laborious active life; was intent upon promoting the interest of his friends, to the neglect of his own; and refused to grant nothing that was worth accepting: what he desired for himself was, to have sovereign command, to be at the head of armies, and engaged - in new wars, in order to display his military talents. As for Cato, his only study was moderation, regular conduct, and, above all, rigorous severity: he did not vie with the rich in riches, nor in faction with the factious; but taking a nobler aim, he contended in bravery with the brave, in modesty with the modest, in integrity with the upright; and was more desirous to be virtuous, than appear so: so that the less he courted fame, the more it followed him.
VII.-CHARACTER OF HANNIBAL.
HANNIBAL being sent to Spain, on his arrival there attracted the eyes of the whole army. The veterans believed Hamilcar was revived and restored to them : they saw the same vigorous countenance, the same piercing eye, the same complexion and features. But in a short time his behaviour occasioned this resemblance of his father to contribute the least towards his gaining their favour. And, in truth, never was there a genius more happily formed for two things most manifestly contrary to each other—to obey and to command. This made it difficult to determine, whether the general or soldiers loved him most. Where any enterprise required vigour and valour in the performance, Asdrubal always chose him to command at the executing of it; nor were the troops ever more confident of success, or more intrepid, than when he was at their head. None ever showed greater bravery in undertaking hazardous attempts, or more presence of mind and conduct in the execution of them. No hardship could fatigue his body, or daunt his courage: he could equally bear cold and huat. The necessary refection of nature, not the pleasure of his palate, he solely regarded in his meals. He made no distinction of day and night in his watching, or taking rest; and appropriated no time to sleep, but what remained after he had completed his duty: he never sought for a soft or a retired place of repose; but was often seen lying on the bare ground, wrapped in a soldier's cloak, amongst the sentinels and guards. He did not distinguish himself from his companions by the magnificence of his dress, but by the quality of his horse and arms.
At the same time, he was by far the best foot and horse soldier in the army ; ever the foremost in a charge, and the last who left the field after the battle was begun. These shining qualities were, however, balanced by great vices-inhuman cruelty, more than Carthagenian treachery, no respect for truth or honour, no fear of the gods, no regard for the sanctity of oaths, no sense of religion. With a disposition thus chequered with virtues and vices, he served three years under Asdrubal, without neglecting to pry into, or perform, any thing that could contribute to make him hereafter a complete general.
VIII.--THE OCCUPATIONS OF ALEXANDER SEVERUS.
The simple journal of his ordinary occupations exhibits a pleasing picture of an accomplished emperor, and, with some allowance for the difference of manners, might well deserve the imitation of modern princes. Alexander rose early; the first moments of the day were consecrated to private devotion, and his domestic chapel was filled with the images of those heroes who, by improving or reforming human life, had deserved the grateful reverence of posterity. But, as he deemed the service of mankind the most acceptable worship of the gods, the greatest part of his morning hours was employed in his council, where he discussed public affairs, and determined private causes, with a patience and discretion above his years. The dryness of business was relieved by the charms of literature; and a portion of time was always set apart for his favourite studies of poetry, history, and philosophy. The works of Virgil and Horace, the republics of Plato and Cicero, formed his taste, enlarged Juis understanding, and gave him the noblest ideas of men and government. The exercises of the body succeeded to those of the mind; and Alexander, who was tall, active, and robust, surpassed most of his equals in the gymnastic arts. Refreshed by the use of the bath, and a slight dinner, he resumed, with new vigour, the business of the day; and, till the hour of supper, the principal ineal of the Romans, he was attended by his secretaries, with whom he read and answered the multitude of letters, memorials, and petitions, that must have been addressed to the master of the greatest part of the world. His table was served with the most frugal simplicity; and, whenever he was at liberty to consult his own inclination, the company consisted of a few select friends, men of learning and virtue, amongst whom Ulpian was constantly invited. Their conversation was familiar and instructive; and the pauses were occ
occasionally enlivened by the recital of some pleasing composition, which supplied the place of the dancers, comedians, and even gladiators, so frequently summoned to the tables of the rich and luxurious Romans. The dress of Alexander was plain and modest, his demeanour courteous and affable: at the proper hours his palace was opened to all his subjects, but the voice of a crier was heard, as in the Eleusinian mysteries, pronouncing the same salutary adinonition: “Let none enter these holy walls, unless he is conscious of a pure and innocent mind.”
IX.-CHARACTER OF THE ANTOXINES.
TITUS ANTONINUS Prus has been justly denominated a second Numa. The same love of religion, justice, and peace, was the distinguishing characteristic of both princes. But the situation of the latter opened a much larger field for the exercise of these virtues. Numa could only prevent a few neighbouring villages from plundering each other's harvests. Antoninus diffused order and tranquillity over the greatest part of the earth. His reign is marked by the rare advantage of furnishing very few materials for history, which is, indeed, little more than the register of the crimes, follies, and misfortunes of mankind. In private life he was an amiable, as well as a good man. The native simplicity of his virtue was a stranger to vanity or affectation. He enjoyed, with moderation, the conveniences of his fortune, and the innocent pleasures of society; and the benevolence of his soul displayed itself in a cheerful serenity of temper.
The virtue of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus was of a more severe and laborious kind. It was the well-earned harvest