« AnteriorContinuar »
he could not put them off, when he cut off his hair, for want of shoes,) before morning they came to a poor cottage.... The owner whereof had nothing for him to eat, but promised him good buttermilk the next morning; and so he was once more left alone, his companion, how weary soever, departing from him before day, the poor man of the house knowing no more, than that he was a friend of the captain's and one of those who had escaped froin Worcester.
PLEASURE OF STUDY.
Were there no advantage to be reaped from these studies, beyond the gratification of an innocent curiosity, yet ought not even this to be despised ; as being one accession to those few safe and harınless pleasures, which are bestowed on the human race. The sweetest. and most inoffensive path of life leads through the avenues of science and learning ; and whoever can either remove any obstructions in this way, or open up any new prospect, ought so far to be esteemed a benefactor to mankind. And though these researches may appear painful and fatiguing, it is with some minds as with some bodies, which being endowed with vigorous and florid health, require severe exercise, and reap a pleasure from what to the generality of mankind may seem burdensome and laborious. Obscurity indeed is painful to the mind as well as to the eye; but to bring light from · obscurity, by whatever labour, must needs be delightful and rejoicing
16. HASTY COMPOSITIONS. The greatest part of those who congratulate themselves upon their intellectual dignity, and usurp the privileges of genius, are men whom only themselves would ever have marked out as enriched by uncommon liberalities of nature, or entitled to veneration and immortality on easy terms.
To him, whose eagerness of praise hurries his productions soon into the light, many imperfections are unavoidable, even when the mind furnishes the materials as well as regulates their disposition, and nothing depends upon search or information. Delay opens new veins of thought, the subject dismissed for a time appears with a new train of dependent images, the accidents of reading or of conversation supply new ornaments or allusions, or mere intermission of the fatigue of thinking enables the mind to collect new force and make new excursions. But all those benefits come too late for him, who, when he was weary with labour, snatched at the recompense, and gave his work to his friends and his enemies as soon as impatience and pride persuaded him to conclude it.
Hasty compositions, however they please at first by flowery luxuriance and spread in the sunshine of temporary favour, can seldom endure the change of seasons, but perish at the first blast of criticism or frost of neglect. When Apelles was reproached with the paucity of his productions, and the incessant attention with which he retouched the pieces, he condescended to make no other answer than that he painted for perpetuity.
17. TEMPLE AND SACRED GROVE OF DAPHNE. At the distance of five miles from Antioch, the Macedonian kings of Syria had consecrated to Apollo one of the most elegant places of devotion in the Pagan world. A magnificent temple rose in honour of the god of light; and his colossal figure almost filled the capacious sanctuary, which was enriched with gold and gems, and adorned by the skill of the Grecian artists. The deity was represented in a bending attitude, with a golden cup in his hand, pouring out a libation on the earth; as if he supplicated the venerable mother to give to his arms the cold and beauteous Daphne: for the spot was ennobled by fiction; and the fancy of the Syrian poets had transported the amorous tale from the banks of the Peneus to those of the Orontes. The ancient rites of Greece were imitated by the royal colony of Antioch. A stream of prophecy, which rivalled the truth and reputation of the Delphic oracle, flowed from the Castalian fountain of Daphne. In the adjacent fields a stadium was built by a special privilege, which had been purchased from Elis ; the Olympic games were celebrated at the expence of the city; and a revenue of thirty thousand pounds sterling was annually applied to the public pleasures. The perpetual resort of pilgrims and spectators insensibly formed, in the neighbourhood of the temple, the stately and populous village of Daphne, which emulated the splendour, without acquiring the title, of a provincial city. The temple and the village were deeply bosomed in a thick grove of laurels and cypresses, which reached as
far as a circumference of ten miles, and formed in the most sultry summers a cool and impenetrable shade. A thousand streams of the purest water, issuing from every hill, preserved the verdure of the earth, and the temperature of the air ; the senses were gratified with harmonious sounds and aromatic odours ; and the peaceful grove was consecrated to health and joy, to luxury and love ... The soldier and the philosopher wisely avoided the temptation of this sensual paradise; where pleasure, assuming the character of religion, imperceptibly dissolved the firmness of manly virtue.
18. AVARICE OFTEN OPERATES WITH LUXURY. When a government flourishes in conquests and is secure from foreign attacks, it naturally falls into all the pleasures of luxury: and as these pleasures are very expensive, they put those who are addicted to them upon raising fresh supplies of money by all the methods of rapaciousness and corruption: so that avarice and luxury very often become one complicated principle of action, in those whose hearts are wholly set upon ease, magnificence, and pleasure. The most elegant and correct of all the Latin historians observes, that in his time, when the most formidable states in the world were subdued by the Romans, the Republic sunk into those two vices of a quite different nature, luxury and avarice; and accordingly describes Catiline as one who coveted the wealth of other men, at the same time that he squandered away his own. This observation on the Commonwealth, when it was in its height of power and riches, holds good of all governments that are settled in a state of ease and prosperity. At such times men naturally endeavour to outshine one another in pomp and splendour, and having no fears to alarm them from abroad, indulge themselves in the enjoyment of all the pleasures they can get into their possession : which naturally produces avarice, and an immoderate pursuit after wealth and riches.
19. RESPECT PAID TO THE FIRST INVENTORS OF ARTS AND CIVIL GOVERNMENT. Among the simpler ages or generations of men, in several countries, those who were the first inventors of arts generally received and applauded as most.
necessary or useful to human life, were honoured alive, and after death worshipped as Gods. And so were those, who had been the first authors of any good and well instituted civil government in any country, by which the native inhabitants were reduced from savage and brutish lives to the safety and convenience of societies, the enjoyment of property, the observance of orders, and the obedience of laws; which were followed by security, plenty, civility, riches, industry, and all kinds of arts. The evident advantages and common benefits of these sorts of institutions, made people generally inclined at home to obey such governors, the neighbour nations to esteem them, and thereby willingly enter into their protection, or easily yield to the force of their arms and prowess.
SIR W. TEMPLE
INVASION OF ITALY BY CHARLES VIIT. When the French entered Italy, they met with nothing able to resist them. The Italian powers having remained, during a long period, undisturbed by the invasion of any foreign enemy, had formed a system with respect to their affairs, both in peace
and war, peculiar to themselves. In order to adjust the interests and balance the power of the different States into which Italy was divided, they were engaged in perpetual and endless negociations with each other, which they conducted with all the subtlety of a refining and deceitful policy. Their contests in the field, when they had recourse to arms, were decided in mock battles, by innocent and bloodless victories. Upon the first appearance of the danger which now impended, they had recourse to the arts which they had studied, and employed their utmost skill in intrigue in order to avert it. But this proving ineffectual, their bands of effeminate mercenaries, the only military force that remained in the country, being fit only for the parade of service, were terrified at the aspect of real war, and shrunk at its approach. The impetuosity of the French valour appeared to them irresistible. Florence, Pisa, and Rome, opened their gates as the French army advanced. The prospect of this dreadful invasion struck one king of Naples with such panic terror, that he died (if we may believe historians) of the fright. Another abdicated his throne from the same pusillanimous spirit. A third fled out of his dominions, as soon as the enemy appeared on the Neapolitan frontiers. Charles, after marching thither from the bottom of the Alps, with as much rapidity, and almost as little opposition, as if he had been on a progress through his own dominions, took quiet possession of the throne of Naples, and intimidated or gave law to every power in Italy,
FOUNDATION OF CONSTANTINOPLE. The master of the Roman world, who aspired to erect an eternal monument of the glories of his reign, could employ in the prosecution of that great work the wealth, the labour, and all that yet remained of the genius of obedient millions. Some estimate may be formed of the expence bestowed with Imperial liberality on the foundation of Constantinople, by the allowance of about two millions five hundred thousand pounds for the construction of the walls, the porticoes, and the aqueducts. The forests that overshadowed the shores of the Euxine, and the celebrated quarries of white marble in the little island of Proconnesus, supplied an inexhaustible stock of materials, ready to be conveyed, by the convenience of a short watercarriage, to the harbour of Byzantium. A multitude of labourers and artificers urged the conclusion of the work with incessant toil: but the impatience of Constantine soon discovered, that, in the decline of the arts, the skill as well as numbers of his architects bore a very unequal proportion to the greatness of his designs.... The buildings of the new city were executed by such artificers as the reign of Constantine could afford; but they were decorated by the hands of the most celebrated masters of the age of Pericles and Alexander. To revive the genius of Phidias and Lysippus, surpassed indeed the power of a Roman emperor; but the immortal productions which they had bequeathed to posterity were exposed without defence to the rapacious vanity of a despot. By his commands the cities of Greece and Asia were despoiled of their most valuable ornaments. The trophies of memorable wars, the objects of religious veneration, the most finished statues of the gods and heroes, of the sages and poets, of ancient times, contributed to the splendid triumph of Constantinople; and gave occasion to the remark of the historian Cedrenus, who observes, with some enthusiasm, that nothing seemed wanting except the souls of the illustrious men whom those admirable monuments were intended to represent.