much prosperity as during the continuance of the reign of Augustus. From the moment he wanted a rival, he gave up his cruelty; and being entirely without an opposer, he seemed totally divested of suspicion. His first care was to assure himself of the friends of Antony; to which end he publicly reported that he had burnt all Antony's letters and papers without reading, convinced that while any thought themselves suspected, they would be fearful of even offering him their friendship. His next stroke of policy was to establish order, or rather permanent servitude; for, when once the sovereignty is usurped in a free state, every transaction on which an unlimited authority can be founded is called a regulation; however, as the greatest number of those who raise their fortunes assume new titles to authorise their power, Augustus resolved to conceal his new power under usual names and ordinary dignities. He caused himself to be styled Emperor, to preserve authority over the army; he made himself to be created Tribune, to manage the people; and Prince of the senate to govern there. Thus uniting in his own person so many different powers, he charged himself also with the cares belonging to each separate department; and while he did the greatest good to others, fully gratified his ambition in the discharge of his duty. In this manner the people's interests and his ambition seemed to co-operate, and while he governed all, he let them imagine that they were governing themselves.

48. HORACE. Horace instructs us how to combat our vices, to regulate our passions, to follow nature, to give bounds to our desires, to distinguish betwixt truth and falsehood and betwixt our conceptions of things and things themselves to come back from our prejudicate opinions, to understand exactly the principles and motives of all our actions and to avoid the ridicule into which all men necessarily fall who are intoxicated with those notions which they have received from their masters, and which they obstinately retain without examining whether or not they be founded on right reason. In a word, he labours to render us happy in relation to ourselves; agreeable and faithful to our friends; and discreet, serviceable and well-bred in relation to those with whom we are obliged to live and to converse.


49. OF QUALITIES IMMEDIATELY AGREEABLE TO OTHERS. A desire of fame, reputation or a character with others, is so far from being blameable, that it seems inseparable from virtue, genius, capacity and a generous or noble disposition. An attention even to trivial matters, in order to please, is also expected and demanded by society; and no one is surprised, if he find a man in company, to observe a greater elegance of dress and more pleasant flow of conversation, than when he passes his time at home and with his own family. Wherein, then, consists Vanity, which is so justly regarded as a fault or imperfection? It seems to consist chiefly in such an intemperate display of our advantages, honours and accomplishments; in such an importunate and open demand of praise and admiration, as is offensive to others and encroaches too far on their secret vanity and ambition. It is beside a sure symptom of the want of true dignity and elevation of mind, which is so great an ornament in any character. For why that impatient desire of applause; as if you were not justly entitled to it, and might not reasonably expect that it would for ever attend you? Why so anxious to inform us of the great company which you have kept; the obliging things which were said to you; the honours, the distinctions which you met with; as if these were not things of course, and what we could readily of ourselves have imagined, without being told of them?

Decency, or a proper regard to age, sex, character, and station, in the world, may be ranked among the qualities which are immediately agreeable to others, and which by that means acquire praise and approbation. An effeminate behaviour in a man, a rough manner in a woman; these are ugly, because unsuitable to each character and different from the qualities which we expect in the sexes. It is as if a tragedy abounded in comic beauties, or a comedy in tragic. The disproportions hurt the eye, and convey a disagreeable sentiment to the spectators, the source of blame and disapprobation. This is that indecorum which is explained so much at large by Cicero in his Offices.


50. NEW CARTHAGE. New Carthage is situate near the middle of the coast of Spain, upon a gulph that looks towards the south-west, and which contains in length about twenty stadia, and about ten stadia in breadth at the first entrance. The whole of this gulph is a perfect harbour. For an island 3


lying at the mouth of it, and which leaves on either side a very narrow passage, receives all the waves of the sea; so that the gulph remains entirely calm; except only that its waters are sometimes agitated by the south-west winds blowing through those passages. All the other winds are intercepted by the land, which incloses it on every side. In the inmost part of the gulph stands a mountain in form of a peninsula, upon which the city is built. It is surrounded by the sea, upon the east and south; and on the west by a lake, which is extended also so far towards the north, that the rest of the space, which lies between the lake and the sea, and which joins the city to the continent, contains only two stadia in breadth. The middle part of the city is flat; and has a level approach to it from the sea, on the side towards the south. The other parts are surrounded by hills, two of which are very high and rough; and the other three, though much less lofty, are full of cavities and difficult of approach.

[ocr errors]


51. JUVENAL AND HORACE. Juvenal is of a more vigorous and masculine wit: he gives me as much pleasure as I can bear he fully satisfies my expectation: he treats his subject home: his spleen is raised and he raises mine: I have the pleasure of concernment in all he says: he drives his reader along with him: and when he is at the end of his way, I willingly stop with him. If he went another stage, it would be too far; it would make a journey of a progress and turn the delight into fatigue. When he gives over, 'tis a sign the subject is exhausted, and the wit of man can carry it no farther. If a fault can be justly found in him, 'tis that he is sometimes too luxuriant, too redundant; says more than he needs, like my friend the Plain Dealer, but never more than pleases. Add to this, that his thoughts are as just as those of Horace and much more elevated. His expressions are sonorous and more noble; his verse more numerous, and his words are suitable to his thoughts, sublime and lofty. All these contribute to the pleasure of the reader; and the greater the soul of him who reads, his transports are the greater. Horace is always on the amble, Juvenal on the gallop; but his way is perpetually on carpet-ground. He goes with more impetuosity than Horace, but as securely; and the swiftness adds more lively agitation to the spirits.


52. OF TRUTH. There are, indeed, in the present corruption of mankind many incitements to forsake truth; so many immediate evils are to be avoided and so many present gratifications obtained, by craft and delusion, that very few of those who are much entangled in life have spirit and constancy sufficient to support them in the steady practice of open veracity. In order that all men may be taught to speak truth, it is necessary that all likewise should learn to hear it ; for no species of falsehood is more frequent than flattery, to which the coward is betrayed by fear, the dependent by interest, and the friend by tenderness: Those who are neither servile nor timorous, are yet desirous to bestow pleasure; and while unjust demands of praise continue to be made, there will always be some whom hope fear or kindness will dispose to pay them. The guilt of falsehood is very widely extended, and many, whom their conscience can scarcely charge with stooping to a lie, have vitiated the morals of others by their vanity and patronized the vice which they believe themselves to abhor. Truth is, indeed, not often welcome for its own sake; it is generally unpleasing because contrary to our wishes and opposite to our practice; and as our attention naturally follows our interest, we hear unwillingly what we are afraid to know, and soon forget what we have no inclination to impress upon our memories. For this reason many arts of instruction have been invented, by which the reluctance against truth may be overcome; and, as physic is given to children in confections, precepts have been hidden under a thousand appearances, that mankind may be bribed by pleasure to escape destruction.

53. THE CONSIDERATION OF INFINITY BEYOND MAN'S POWERS. The very narrow capacity of man can proceed but a little way in the investigation of knowledge the most obvious and familiar; far less in deep and abstruse matters; but excepting as to one particular object, is wholly at a loss when it presumptuously attempts the consideration of infinity. To this it is so totally inadequate, that on the comparison it appears humble and modest when it endeavours to fathom the ocean and measure the heavens with an inch of line.

54. WILLIAM THIRD EARL OF PEMBROKE, HIS CHARACTER. William Earl of Pembroke was next, a man of another mould and making, and of another fame and reputation with all men, being the most universally beloved and esteemed of any man of that age; and, having a great office in the court, he made the court itself better esteemed and more reverenced in the country. And as he had a great number of friends of the best men, so no man had ever the confidence to avow himself to be his enemy.—He was a man very well bred, and of excellent parts, and a graceful speaker upon any subject, having a good proportion of learning, and a ready wit to apply it, and enlarge upon it; of a pleasant and facetious humour; and a disposition affable, generous and magnificent. He was master of a great fortune from his ancestors, and had a great addition by his wife; but all served not his expence, which was only limited by his great mind and occasions to use it nobly. He was exceedingly beloved in the court, because he never desired to get that for himself which others laboured for, but was still ready to promote the pretences of worthy men. And he was equally celebrated in the country, for having received no obligations from the court, which might corrupt or sway his affections and judgment. He was a great lover of his country, and of the religion and justice, which he believed could only support it; and his friendships were only with men of those principles. And as his conversation was most with men of the most pregnant parts and understanding, so towards any such, who needed support or encouragement, though unknown, if fairly recommended to him, he was very liberal. Sure never man was planted in a court, that was fitter for that soil, or brought better qualities with him to purify that air.


55. OF VANITY. Vanity is gratified as much by a false as by a true reputation, and to the vain man, a false has this advantage above a true reputation for an excellent virtue, that it is gained far more easily, at a less expense of time and of exertion. Thus the love of reputation at once introduces a connexion with fraud and falsehood, a carelessness and a desertion of truth. And where these have come, nothing bad has not come. So that it is not without reason that the great philosopher and statesman of the last generation said that "when full grown, vanity is the worst of all

« VorigeDoorgaan »