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feceris; mori velle non tantum fortis aut miser sed etiam fastidiosus potest. 'A man would die, though he were neither valiant nor miserable, only upon a weariness to do the same thing so oft over and over.' It is no less worthy to observe, how little alteration in good spirits the approaches of death make; for they appear to be the same men till the last instant. Augustus Cæsar died in a compliment: Livia, conjugii nostri memor vive et vale. Tiberius in dissimulation, as Tacitus saith of him, Jam Tiberium vires et corpus, non dissimulatio, deserebant: Vespasian in a jest, sitting upon the stool, Ut puto Deus fio: Galba with a sentence Feri, si ex re sit populi Romani, holding forth his neck: Septimius Severus in despatch, Adeste, si quid mihi restat agendum, and the like. Certainly the Stoics bestowed too much cost upon death, and by their great preparations made it appear more fearful. Better saith he, qui finem vitæ extremum inter munera ponat naturæ.
39. CICERO'S PHILOSOPHICAL SKILL. But Tully's own testimony is produced against him, wherein he willingly yields the glory of philosophy to many others above himself. His words are, Philosophandi scientiam concedens multis, quod est oratoris proprium, apte distincte ornateque dicere, quoniam in eo studio ætatem consumpsi, si id mihi assumo, videor id meo jure quodammodo vindicare. So he in the beginning of his Offices. If the meaning of your critics be, only to shew that his skill in oratory was greater than in philosophy, that, I believe, is perfectly agreeable with his design in these words nor shall I much dispute it with them. But what then? Will they therefore infer that his performances, even in philosophy, are despicable? Your antagonist himself is too ingenuous and modest, and too skilful too, to say anything that may seem very disparaging to his very philosophical writings. His consciousness how little reason he had to do so makes him so various and inconstant in his censures. Nor could he think so if he were of Cicero's mind in this passage, and had not harder thoughts of him, than Cicero had of himself. Not to take advantage of Cicero's modesty in his own case, his whole design seems to be no more than to acknowledge his skill in philosophy inferior to what he pretended to in that which he professed, and which he had made the principal study of his whole life.
But it should then have been considered what degree it was he challenged in his own profession. That will easily be understood by what he grants in this particular of philosophy, which he would not grant, and implies he would not, in his own profession of oratory. He says he would yield many a skill in philosophy beyond his. He therefore implies that in oratory he would not do so, at least not to many.
40. RISE OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE. The greatness of Rome was founded on the rare and almost incredible alliance of virtue and of fortune. The long period of her infancy was employed in a laborious struggle against the tribes of Italy, the neighbours and enemies of the rising city. In the strength and ardour of youth, she sustained the storms of war; carried her victorious arms beyond the seas and the mountains; and brought home triumphant laurels from every country of the globe. At length, verging towards old age and sometimes conquering by the terror only of her name she sought the blessings of ease and tranquillity. The Venerable City which had trampled on the necks of the fiercest nations, and established a system of laws the perpetual guardians of justice and freedom, was content, like a wise and wealthy parent, to devolve on the Cæsars her favourite sons the care of governing her ample patrimony. A secure and profound peace, such as had been once enjoyed in the reign of Numa, succeeded to the tumults of a republic; while Rome was still adored as the queen of the earth; and the subject nations still reverenced the name of the people and the majesty of the senate.
41. EXAMPLES OF ROMAN REGARD FOR JUSTICE. The ancient Romans were very jealous of their liberty; but how exact soever they might be in ordinary cases, yet when any of their citizens seemed to have a design of making himself King, they either created a dictator to suppress or destroy him, or else the people proceeded against him in a summary way. By the Portian law, no citizen could be put to death for any crime whatsoever; yet such regard did the Romans pay to justice even above law, that, when the Campanian legion had perfidiously broke in upon Rhegium and pillaged it, they put them all to death for it. In the famous case of Catiline's conspiracy, as the evidence was clear and the
danger extreme, the accomplices in it were executed notwithstanding the Portian law: and this was done by the order of the Senate, without either hearing them make their own defence or admitting them to claim the right, which the Valerian law gave them, of an appeal to the people. Yet that whole proceeding was chiefly directed by the two greatest asserters of public liberty that ever lived, Cato and Cicero; and Cæsar, who opposed it on pretence of its being against the Portian law, was for that reason suspected of being in the conspiracy: it appeared afterwards, how little regard he had either to law or liberty, though upon this occasion he made use of the one to protect those who were in a plot against the other.
42. HUMAN NATURE-THE MOST USEFUL STUDY. I have always been a very great lover of your speculations, as well in regard to the subject as to your manner of treating it. Human nature I always thought the most useful object of human reason; and to make the consideration of it pleasant and entertaining I always thought the best employment of human wit: other parts of philosophy may perhaps make us wiser, but this not only answers that end, but makes us better too. Hence it was that the oracle pronounced Socrates the wisest of all men living, because he judiciously made choice of human nature for the object of his thoughts; an inquiry into which as much exceeds all other learning, as it is of more consequence to adjust the true nature and measures of right and wrong, than to settle the distances of the planets, and compute the times of their circumvolutions.
43. OF IDLENESS. No man is so much open to conviction as the idler: but there is none on whom it operates so little. The drunkard, for a time, laughs over his winethe ambitious man triumphs in the miscarriage of his rival; but the captives of indolence have neither superiority nor merriment. 'Tis not only in the slumber of sloth, but in the dissipation of ill-directed industry, that the shortness of life is generally forgotten. As some men lose their hours in laziness, because they suppose that there is time for the reparation of neglect, others busy themselves in providing that no length of life may want employment; and it often
happens, that sluggishness and activity are equally surprised by the last summons, and perish not more differently from each other, than the fowl that received the shot in her flight from her that is killed upon the bush. Idleness can never secure tranquillity; the call of reason and of conscience will pierce the closest pavilion of the sluggard, and though it may not have force to drive him from his down, will be loud enough to hinder him from sleep. Those moments, which he cannot resolve to make useful by devoting them to the great business of his being, will still be usurped by powers that will not leave them to his disposal: remorse and vexation will seize upon them and forbid him to enjoy what he is so desirous to appropriate.
44. DECLINE OF ROMAN POWER. We have hitherto seen this great people by slow degrees rising into power, and at length reigning without a rival. We have hitherto seen all the virtues, which give strength and conquest, progressively entering into the state, and forming a mighty empire. From this time forward we are to survey a different picture—a powerful state, giving admission to all the vices that tend to divide enslave and at last totally destroy society. This seems to be the great period of Roman power; their conquests afterwards might be more numerous and their dominions more extensive; but their extension was rather an increase of glory than of strength. For a long time, even after the admission of their vices, the benefits of their former virtues continued to operate; but their future triumphs rather spread their power than increased it; they rather gave it surface than solidity. They now began daily to degenerate from their ancient modesty plainness and severity of life. The triumphs and the spoils of Asia brought in a taste for splendid expense, and these produced avarice and inverted ambition; so that from henceforward the history seems that of another people.
45. OF FORTUNE. It cannot be denied but outward accidents conduce much to fortune: favour, opportunity, death of others, occasion fitting virtue: but chiefly the mould of a man's fortune is in his own hands. Faber quisque fortunæ suæ, saith the poet: and the most frequent of external causes is, that the folly of one man is the fortune of another; for no man prospers so suddenly as by others'
errors; serpens nisi serpentem comederit non fit draco. Overt and apparent virtues bring forth praise: but there be secret and hidden virtues that bring forth fortune; certain deliveries of a man's self, which have no name. The Spanish name disemboltura, partly expresseth them, when there be not stonds and restiveness in a man's nature, but that the wheels of his mind keep way with the wheels of his fortune; for so Livy (after he had described Cato Major in these words, in illo viro tantum robur corporis et animi fuit, ut quocumque loco natus esset, fortunam sibi facturus videretur) falleth upon that he had, versatile ingenium. Therefore, if a man look sharply and attentively, he shall see fortune; for though she be blind, yet she is not invisible.
46. LOVE OF GLORY ONE OF THE STRONGEST INCENTIVES TO EXCELLENCE. 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 lifetime some part of the honour which he foresaw would be paid to his memory. This was the ambition of a great mind.
47. REIGN OF AUGUSTUS. The government having now taken a permanent form, it is not to be supposed that history can teem with such striking events, as during that period in which the constitution was struggling for freedom. But a dearth of historical occurrences is generally the happiness of the people. In fact, Rome never enjoyed an interval of so