Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

not only avowed, but freely indulged; and sometimes, as he himself confesses, to a degree even of vanity. This often gave

his enemies a plausible handle of ridiculing his pride and arrogance; while the forwardness that he showed to celebrate his own merits in all his public speeches, seemed to justify their censures: and since this is generally considered as the grand foible of his life, and has been handed down implicitly from age to age, without ever being fairly examined or rightly understood, it will be proper to lay open the source from which the passion itself flowed, and explain the nature of that glory, of which he professes himself so fond.

True glory then, according to his own definition of it, is a wide and illustrious fame of many and great benefits conferred upon our friends, our country, or the whole race of mankind: it is not, he says, the emply blast of popular favour, or the applause of a giddy multitude which all wise men had ever despised, and none more than himself; but the consenting praise of all honest men, and the incorrupt testimony of those who can judge of excellent merit, which resounds always to virtue, as the echo to the voice; and since it is a general companion of good actions, ought not to be rejected by good men. That those who aspired to his glory, were not to expect ease or pleasure or tranquillity of life for their pains; but must give up their own peace to secure the peace of others; must expose themselves to storms and dangers for the public good; sustain many battles with the audacious and the wicked, and some even with the powerful: in short, must behave themselves so, as to give their citizens cause to rejoice that they had ever been born. This is the notion that he inculcates everywhere of true glory: which is surely one of the noblest principles that can inspire a human breast; implanted by God in our nature, tu dignify and exalt it; and always found the strongest in the best and most ele. vated minds: and to which

ve owe every

hing great and laudable, that history has to offer to us, through all the ages of the heathen world. There is not an instance, says Cicero, of a man's exerting himself ever with praise, and virtue in the dangers of his country, who was not drawn to it by the hopes of glory, and a regard to posterity. Give me a boy, says Quintilian, whom praise excites, whom glory warms; for such a scholar was sure to answer all his hopes, and do

credit to his discipline. Whether posterity will have any respect for me, says Pliny, I know not; but am sure that I bave deserved some from it: I will not say by my wit, for that would be arrogant; but by the zeal, by the pains, by the reverence, which I have always paid to it.

It will not seem strange, to observe the wisest of the ancient pushing this principle to so great a length, and considering glory as the amplest reward of a well-spent life, when we reflect, that the greatest part of them had no notion of any other reward or futurity; and even those who believed a state of happiness to the goud, yet entertained it with so much diffidence, that they indulged it rather as a wish, than a well – grounded hope'; and were glad therefore to lay hold on that which seemed to be within their reach, a futurity of their own creating; an immortality of fame and glory from the applause of posterity. This, by a pleasing fiction, they looked upon as a propagation of life, and an eternity of existence; and had no sinall comfort in imagining, that though the sense of it should not reach to themselves, it would extend at least to others; and that they should be doing good still when dead, by leaving the example of their virtues to the imitation of mankind. Thus Cicero, as he often declares, never looked upon that to be his life, which was confined to this narrow circle on earth, but considered his acts, as seeds sown in the immense field of the universe, tu raise up the fruit of glory and immortality to him through a succession of infinite ages: nor has be been frustrated of bis hope, or disappointed of his end; but as long as the name of Rome subsists, or as long as learning, virtue and liberty preserve any credit in the world, he will be great and glorious in the memory of all posterity.

As to the other part of the charge, or the proof of his vanily, drawn from his boasting so frequently of himself in his speeches both to the senate and the people, though it may appear to a common reader to be abundantly confirmed by his writings; yet if we attend to the circumstances of the times, and the part which he acted in them, we shall find it Dot only excusable, but in some degree even necessary. Thc fate of Rome was now brought to a crisis; and the contending parties were making their last efforts, either to oppress or preserve it: Cicero was the head of those who stood up for its liberty; which entirely depended on the influence

of his counsels: he had many years therefore been the com mon mark of the rage and malice of all who

were

aiming at illegal powers, or a tyranny in the state; and while these were generally supported by the military power of the empire, he had no other arms or means of defeating them, but his authority with the senate and people, grounded on the experience of his services, and the persuasion of his integrity so, that, to obviate the perpetual calumnies of the factious, he' was obliged to inculcate the merit and good effects of his counsels; in order to confirm people in their union and adherence to them, against the intrigues of those; who were employing all arts' to subvert them. The frequent commemoration of his acts, says Quintilian, was not made so much for glory, as for defence; to repel cálumny, and vindicate his measures when they were attacked: and this is what Cicero himself declares in all his speeches; „that no man ever heard him speak of himself but when he was forced to it: that „when he was urged with fictitious crimes, it was his custom to answer them with his real services; and if ever he said „any thing glorious of himself, it was not through a fondness „of praise, but to repel an accusation: that no man who had been conversant in great affairs, and treated with particular envy, could refute the contumely of an enemy, without touching upon his own praises; and after all his „, labours for the common safety, if a just indignation had

drawn from him at any time what might seem to be vain„glorious, it might reasonably be forgiven to him: that when „ others were silent about him, if he could not then forbear „to speak of himself, that indeed would be shameful; but when he was injured, accused, exposed to popular odium, „he must certainly be allowed to assert his liberty, if they

would not suffer him to retain his dignity.” This then was the true state of the case, and it is evident from the facts of his history: he had an ardent love of glory, and an eager thirst of praise: was pleased, when living, to hear his acts applauded; yet more still with imagining, that they would ever be celebrated when he was dead: a passion, which for the reasons already hinted, had always the greatest force on the greatest souls: but it must needs raise our contempt and indignation, to see every conceited pedant, and trifling declaimer, who know little of Cicero's real character, and less still of their owa, presuming to call him the vainest of mortals.

But there is no point of light, in which we can view him with more advantage or satisfaction to ourselves, than in the contemplation of his learning, and the surprising extent of his knowledge.' This shines so conspicuous in all the monuments which remain of him, that it even lessens the dignity of his general character; while the idea of the scholar absorbs that of the senator; and by considering him as the greatest writer, we are apt to forget, that he was the greatest magistrate also of Rome. We tearn ,our latin from him at school; our style and sentiments at the college: here the generality take their leave of him, and seldom think of him more, but as of an orator, a moralist, or philosopher of antiquity. But it is with characters as with pictures; we cannot judge well of a single part, without surveying the whole; since the perfection of each depends on its proportion and relation to the rest; while, in viewing them all together, they mutually reflect an additional grace upon each other. His learning, considered separately, will appear admirable; yet' much more so, when it is found in the possession of the first statesman of a mighty empire: his abilities

a statesman are glorious ; yet surprise us still more, when they are observed in the ablest scholar and philosopher of his age; but an union of both these characters exhibits that sublime specimen of perfection, to which the best parts with the best culture can exalt human nature. No man,

whose life had been wholly spent in study, ever left more numerous or more valuable fruits of his learning, in every branch of science, and the politer arts; in oratory, poetry, philosophy, law, history, criticism, politics, ethics; in each of which he equalled the greatest masters of his time; in some of them excelled all men of all times. His remaining works,

as voluminous as they appear, are but a small part of what he really published; and though many of these are come down to us maimed by time, and the barbarity of the intermediate ages, yet they are justly esteemed the most precious remains of all antiquity; and like the Sibylline books, if more of them had perished, would have been equal still to any price.

His industry was incredible, beyond the example, or even the conception of our days: this was the secret by which he performed such wonders, and reconciled perpetual study with perpetual affairs. He suffered no part of his leisure to be

L

as

idley of the least faterval of t to be lostz' bat what other people gave to the public shows, to pleasures, to feasts, nay even to sleep; and the ordinary refreshments of nature, he generally gave to his books, and the enlargement of his knowledge. On days of business, when he had any thing particular to compose, he had no other time for meditating, but when he was taking a few turns in his walks, where he used to dictate his thoughts to his scribes, who attended him. We find many of his letters dated before day-light; some from the senatej others from his meals, and the crowd of his morning leveä lente estilo

FI E L DIN G. HENRY FIELDING, Esq.) Sohn eines verdienstvollen, um ter Marlborough bis zum Grade eines Generallieutenants gestiegenen Officiers; wurde 2709 zu Sharpham - Park bei Glastonbury in Somersetshire geboren. Im Eaton College erzogen, begab er sich, um die Rechte zu studiren, nach Leyden. Allein; er sah sich bald genöthigt, nach seinem Vaterlande zurückzukehren, weil die Anzahl seiner Geschwister zu gross war, als dass sein sonst wohlhabender Vater ansehnliche Summen auf seine Bildung verwenden konnte. Er ging nun nach London, um in den læns of Court seine juristischen Studien fortzusetzen, legte aber durch diesen Schritt den Grund ka dem Ungemach, womit er sein Leben hindurch

*) Esq. Abkürzung statt Esquire. Es ist schwer zu sagen, Theisst es in Kütiner's Beiträgen, Stem Stück S. 32.) wer alle diejenigen sind, denen dieser Titel eigenilich d. h. nach den Gesetsen zukommt. Die Söhne der Baroners, die barristers (advokaten oder plaidirende Rechtsgelehrte) sind Esquires, und so manche andere in verschiedenen öffentlichen Aemtern haben diesen Titel von Rechtswegen; aber man giebt ihn auch vielen aras Höflichkeit, denen er eigentlich nicht gehört. Ein Gelehrler, ein Künsiler erwartet auf Briefen das Esq. hinter scinc Namen; das bekommt er denn auch gewöhnlich. Der Besite liegender Gründe giebt ihn nicht, ob man gleich diejenigen, die liegende Gründe haben, durchaus und vorzugsweise so

Die Englischen Boverie nennen ihren Gutsherra vegna xugweise Esquire.

rennt,

« PreviousContinue »