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past appears to me important only as it serves as a guide for the future.1
At the moment of sending these pages to the press, a pamphlet has fallen into my hands, in which I am treated with a respect, for which I ought to be very grateful, but which furnishes me with an opportunity I am happy to have, to explain my ideas fully. In that pamphlet, after an eulogium of which I do not flatter myself to be worthy, it is added that I know that the approaching session will require particular candor and courage, and that it is then I mean to finish my ordeal. My ordeal is finished as much as it can be, and I claim no merit for it; I have shown the degree, whatever it be, of candor and courage of which I am capable; my candor consists in giving my whole opinion, and nothing beyond it; I place my courage in neither permitting myself to be restrained or induced, and there would be as little chance of succeeding in the one as the other. I know my object, it is liberty; my means, the constitutional forms. I follow the path which appears to me to be straight forward, and I shall not outstep one inch the boundary which appears to me reasonable, no more than I shall stop one inch short of this boundary. I use no other language than my own, without inquiring whether it is considered weak or rude; no consideration would induce me to strengthen or weaken it, and insinuations like criticisms, and criticisms like praise, will be entirely futile against a resolution as courageous as any other,
OCTAVIUS CÆSAR, AND WILLIAM PITT,
RIENZI AND BUONAPARTE,
GEORGE WILSON MEADLEY,
AUTHOR OF "MEMOIRS OF WILLIAM PALEY, D. D." AND OF
RIENZI AND BUONAPARTE,
THE corresponding circumstances in the rise and progress of OCTAVIUS CESAR and WILLIAM PITT, occurred to the writer, and the leading points of parallel were sketched more than twenty years ago; and although their latter years were widely different, the contrast is no less worthy of regard.
The error of BUONAPARTE, in following the steps of RIENZI, rather than of WASHINGTON, was also noticed when NAPOLEON was in the zenith of his power; and the similarity of their fate was pointed out on his first deposition, when the writer was reminded that a second elevation and reverse was necessary, before the parallel would be deemed complete.
The most prominent features, in both cases, were then present to the writer's mind; but an equally curious coincidence was discovered in minor cases, when their story was minutely traced.
The successful close of a long series of civil wars, and the return of peace and prosperity, forwarded the designs of OCTAVIUS CESAR, and gave him an influence with the Roman people, which tended to the consolidation of his power. The termination of a disastrous war with the revolted colonies, and the blessings derived from improving trade and manufactures, strengthened the authority of WILLIAM PITT; and, increasing his reputation with the British public, led to the accomplishment of his designs.
An obsequious Senate invariably sanctioned the decrees of OCTAVIUS CESAR, sacrificing their own dignity and the freedom of their country, in compliance with his sovereign will.
A confiding Parliament usually ratified the most obnoxious measures of WILLIAM PITT, compromising their own independence, and the general welfare, in subservience to his arbitrary views.
OCTAVIUS CESAR-WILLIAM PITT.
OCTAVIUS CESAR, entering early into public life, was recommended no less by the celebrity of his uncle, JULIUS CESAR, than by his own insinuating manners and address.
WILLIAM PITT also, on his first appearance, at an early age, was as much indebted to the high reputation of his father, WILLIAM EARL OF CHATHAM, as to that commanding and persuasive eloquence peculiarly his own.
OCTAVIUS CESAR, at first, pretending great zeal for the republic, co-operated strenuously with Cicero against the designs of Antony, and drew the veteran Legions to concur in its defence.
WILLIAM PITT, espousing with no less apparent warmth, the cause of his country, joined with Horne Tooke, and other popular leaders, against the prevailing abuses in the representation of the people, and three times moved the House of Commons for their reform.
OCTAVIUS CESAR, coalescing afterwards with Antony, turned his arms against the friends of the Republic, and gave up Cicero to the vengeance of an enemy, by whom he was unjustly put to death.
WILLIAM PITT, with equal alacrity, accepting office with the supporters of the old system, opposed successive motions for a reform in the representation; and acquiesced in the prosecution of Horne Tooke and his adherents, on an unprecedented charge of High-Treason.
OCTAVIUS CESAR, on his accession to the sovereign power, preserved the ancient forms of the Constitution; and, under the popular title of Consul, with the authority of Tribune, laid the foundation of an efficient despotism in every department of the State.
WILLIAM PITT likewise effected repeated violations of the Constitution, under the sanction of the Legislature, and exercised the most despotic authority, as First Lord of the Treasury, and one of the Representatives of the people.
OCTAVIUS CESAR, disdaining that pomp and ceremony, which might offend his countrymen without enhancing his real power, preserved in his private life the style of other Senators, whilst he drew the sole administration of the Government, legislative, executive, and judicial, into his own hands.
WILLIAM PITT, despising for himself all rank and title, which, without extending his authority, might have impaired his influence, maintained the unassuming style of a commoner, whilst directing the councils of his Sovereign with unbounded sway.
OCTAVIUS CESAR, with a view to strengthen his authority, invested his nearest connexions with offices of honor and of trust, whilst he ingratiated himself with the soldiers and the people, by distributing his bounty with unsparing hand.
WILLIAM PITT also promoted his kinsmen to the most efficient and lucrative departments, as the bulwarks of his administration, and sought public favor by the profusion with which he scattered titles, rank, and emoluments, among various classes of society.
By such means OCTAVIUS CESAR soon eradicated that love of liberty so long cherished by his countrymen ; and, by the seducing influence of some prominent examples, prepared them progressively for the yoke.
By such means too WILLIAM PITT unnerved the manly character of the ancient gentry, and by the overweening expectations of private interest, narrowed the means of constitutional resistance.
The public corruption thus artfully introduced by OCTAVIUS CESAR, eventually destroyed the liberties of Rome, and led the way to those scenes of despotism and depravity which marked the period of her long decline.
The debasing system pertinaciously pursued by WILLIAM PITT, has increased the influence of the British Crown, and encouraged a total disregard of those just principles of Government, which have long been the basis of its solid fame.
The mischiefs resulting from the errors and misconduct of OCTAVIUS CESAR, have long been clearly developed in the degradation and ruin of his country, when every bold exertion was paralysed by the enervating consequences of unbounded sway.