Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

grateful simplicity of diet, which by all appearance, was that which preserved him so long beyond all men's expectations: this he observed so strictly, that in the course of above thirty years he neither ate nor drank to gratify the varieties of appetite but merely to support nature. He had a feebleness in his sight; his eyes were so well used by him, that it will easily be imagined he was very tender of them and very apprehensive of such distempers as might affect them. He did also imagine, that if sickness should oblige him to lie long in bed, it might raise the pains of the stone in him to a degree that was above his weak strength to bear; so that he feared that his last moments might be too hard for him; and this was the root of all the caution and apprehension that he was observed to live in. But as to life itself, he had the just indifference to it and the weariness of it that became so true a Christian.

189. INTELLECT OF ADAM IN PARADISE. All those arts, rarities, and inventions, which vulgar minds gaze at, the ingenious pursue, and all admire, are but the reliques of an intellect defaced with sin and time. We admire it now, only as antiquaries do a piece of old coin, for the stamp it once bore, and not for those vanishing lineaments and disappearing draughts that remain upon it at present. And certainly that must needs have been very glorious, the decays of which are so admirable. He that is comely, when old and decrepit surely was very beautiful when he was young. An Aristotle was but the rubbish of an Adam, and Athens but the rudiments of Paradise.

R. SOUTH

was one so re

190. CICERO, HIS WANT OF FORTITUDE. It grieves me to make an exception to this rule ; but Tully wa markably, that the example can neither be concealed nor passed over. This great man, who had been the saviour of his country, who had feared, in the support of that cause, neither the insults of a desperate party nor the daggers of assassins, when he came to suffer for the same cause, sunk under the weight. He dishonoured that banishment which indulgent providence meant to be the means of rendering his glory complete. Uncertain where he should go or what he should do, fearful as a woman and froward as a child, he lamented the loss of his rank, of his riches and of his splendid popularity. His eloquence served only to paint his ignominy in stronger colours. He wept over the ruins of his fine house which Clodius had demolished : and his separation from Terentia, whom he repudiated not long afterwards, was perhaps an affliction to him at this time. Every thing becomes intolerable to the man who is once subdued by grief. He regrets what he took no pleasure in enjoying, and overloaded already, he shrinks at the weight of a feather.

LORD BOLINGBROKE

a

191. DEATH OF LORENZO DE MEDICI. Having, therefore, performed the offices of the church with peculiar fervour, and adjusted with sincerity and decorum his spiritual concerns, Lorenzo requested a private interview with his son Piero, with whom he held a long and interesting conversation on the state of the republic, the situation of his family, and the conduct which it would be expedient for Piero to pursue. “I doubt not,” said he, “that you will hereafter possess the same weight and authority in the state which I have hitherto enjoyed; but as the republic, although it form but one body, has many heads, you must not expect that it will be possible for you on all occasions so to conduct yourself as to obtain the approbation of every individual. Remember, therefore, in every situation to pursue that course of conduct which strict integrity prescribes, and to consult the interests of the whole community, rather than the gratification of a part." These admonitions, if attended to, might have preserved Piero from the ruin which the neglect of them soon brought down. The dutiful and patient attendance of Piero on his father during his sickness was, however, a pledge to Lorenzo that his last instructions would not be forgotten, and, by confirming the favourable sentiments which he appears to have entertained of the talents and the disposition of his son, served at least to alleviate the anxiety which he must have felt on resigning, thus prematurely, the direction of such a vast and rapid machine into young and inexperienced hands.

W. ROSCOE

192. EXTRAVAGANCE. This loose state of the soul hurries the extravagant from one pursuit to another; and the reason that his expenses are greater than another's is, that his wants are also more numerous. But what makes so many go on in this way to their lives' end is, that they certainly do not know how contemptible they are in the eyes of the rest of mankind, or rather, that indeed they are not so contemptible as they deserve. Tully says, it is the greatest of wickedness to lessen your paternal estate. And if a man would thoroughly consider how much worse than banishment it must be to his child, to ride by the estate which should have been his, had it not been for his father's injustice to him, he would be smitten with the reflection more deeply than can be understood by any but one who is a father. Sure there can be nothing more afflicting, than to think it had been happier for his son to have been born of any other man living than himself.

SIR R. STEELE

193. WANT OF EARNESTNESS ABOUT LIFE. “We are always resolving to live, and yet never set about life in good earnest. Archimedes was not singular in his fate; but a great part of mankind die unexpectedly, while they are poring upon the figures they have described in the sand. O wretched mortals! who having condemned themselves, as it were, to the mines, seem to make it their chief study to prevent their ever regaining their liberty. Hence, new employments are assumed in the place of old ones; and, as the Roman philosopher truly expresses it, 'one hope succeeds another, one instance of ambition makes way for another; and we never desire an end of our misery, but only that it may change its outward form. When we cease to be candidates and to fatigue ourselves in soliciting interest, we begin to give our votes and interest to those who solicit us in their turn. When we are wearied of the trouble of prosecuting crimes at the bar, we commence judges ourselves; and he who is grown old in the management of other men's affairs for money, is at last employed in improving his own wealth. At the age of fifty, says one, I will retire and take my ease; or the sixtieth year of my life shall entirely disengage me from public offices and business. Fool! art thou not ashamed to reserve to thyself the last remains and dregs of life? Who will stand surety that thou shalt live so long? And what immense folly is it, so far to forget mortality, as to think of beginning to live at that period of years, to which a few only attain!

194. DISSEMINATION OF FALSEHOOD. Others there are that amuse themselves with the dissemination of falsehood, at greater hazard of detection and disgrace; men marked out by some lucky planet for universal confidence and friendship, who have been consulted in every difficulty, intrusted with every secret, and summoned to every transaction: it is the supreme felicity of these men, to stun all companies with noisy information; to still doubt, and overbear opposition, with certain knowledge of authentic intelligence. A liar of this kind, with a strong memory or brisk imagination, is often the oracle of an obscure club, and till time discovers his impostures, dictates to his hearers with uncontrouled authority; for if a public question be started, he was present at the debate; if a new performance of literature draws the attention of the public, he has patronized the author, and seen his work in manuscript; and who that lives at a distance from the scene of action, will dare to contradict a man, who reports from his own eyes and ears, and to whom all persons and affairs are thus intimately known?

S. JOHNSON

195. CHARACTER OF WILLIAM VILLIERS, LORD VISCOUNT GRANDISON. He was a young man of so virtuous a habit of mind, that no temptation or provocation could corrupt him ; so great a lover of justice and integrity, that no example, necessity, or even the barbarity of this war, could make him swerve from the most precise rules of it; and of that rare piety and devotion, that the court or camp could not shew a more faultless person, or to whose example young men might more reasonably conform themselves. His personal valour, and courage of all kinds, (for he had sometimes indulged so much to the corrupt opinion of honour, as to venture himself in duels,) was very eminent, insomuch as he was accused of being too prodigal of his person; his affection and zeal, and obedience to the king, was such as became a branch of that family. And he was wont to say, 'that if he had not understanding to know the uprightness of the cause nor loyalty enough to inform him of the duty of a subject, that the very obligations of gratitude to the king, on the behalf of his house, were such, as his life was but a due sacrifice:' and therefore, he no sooner saw the war unavoidable, than he engaged all his brethren as wellas himself in the service ; and there. were then three more of them in command in the army when he was so unfortunately cut off.

CLARENDON

196. CÆSAR'S PASSAGE OF THE RUBICON. About ten miles from Ariminum, and twice that distance from Ravenna, the frontier of Italy and Gaul was traced by the stream of the Rubicon. This little river is formed by the union of three mountain-torrents, and is nearly dry in the summer, like most of the water-courses on the eastern side of the Apennines. In the month of November the wintry flood might present a barrier more worthy of the important position which it once occupied : but the northern frontier of Italy had long been secure from invasion, and the channel was spanned by a bridge of no great dimensions. Cæsar seems to have made his last arrangements in secret, and concealed his design till the moment he had fixed for its accomplishment. On the morning of the fifteenth he sent forward some cohorts to the river, while he remained himself at Ravenna, and shewed himself at a public spectacle throughout the day. He invited company to his table, and entertained them with his usual ease and affability. It was not till sunset that he made an excuse for a brief absence, and then, mounting a car yoked with mules, hired from a mill in the vicinity, hastened with only a few attendants to overtake his soldiers at the appointed spot. In his anxiety to avoid the risk of being encountered and his movements divulged, he left the high road and soon lost his way in the bye-paths of the country. One after another the torches of his party became extinguished, and he was left in total darkness. It was only by taking a peasant for a guide and alighting from his vehicle that he at last reached his destination.

C. MERIVALE

197. DISCIPLINE IN A REGIMENT BEST PROMOTED BY THE SPIRIT OF ITS OFFICERS. I have always considered that there is no greater incentive to the performance of duty in every situation, and that nothing upholds discipline and good order in a regiment to a greater degree, than the sentiments and spirit of the officers belonging to it. No man dares to neglect his duty, or to conduct himself in a manner unbecoming an officer and a gentleman, if he knows that his brother officers will notice his misconduct with their disapprobation, or that it will be attended by the loss of their esteem: and I am.convinced that I should carry into execution the intentions of the Commander-in-Chief in a very inadequate manner, if I did not guard myself against the notion, that the existence of such sentiments and such a spirit is disapproved of at head-quarters or by me.

« AnteriorContinuar »