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to be permitted to speak for himself: upon which Cicero, who was never at a loss, instead of pronouncing the ordinary form of the oath, exalting the tone of his voice, swore out aloud, so as all the people might hear him, that he had saved the republic and the city from ruin; which the multitude below confirmed with a universal shout, and with one voice cried out, that what he had sworn was true. Thus the intended affront was turned, by his presence of mind, to his greater honor, and he was conducted from the forum to his house, with all possible demonstrations of respect by the
CHARACTER OF POMPEY.
Pompey had early acquired the surname of the Great, by that sort of merit which, from the constitution of the republic, necessarily made him great; a fame and success in war, superior to what Rome had ever known in the most celebrated of her generals. He had triumphed at three several times over the three different parts of the known world, Europe, Asia, Africa ; and by his victories had almost doubled the extent, as well as the revenues, of the Roman dominion; for, as he declared to the people on his return from the Mithridatic war, “he had found the lesser Asia the boundary, but left it the middle of their empire." He was about six years older than Cæsar; and while Cæsar, immersed in pleasures, oppressed with debts, and suspected by all honest men, was hardly able to show his head; Pompey was flourishing in the height of power and glory, and by the consent of all parties placed at the head of the republic. T'his was the post that his ambition seemed to aim at, to be the first man in Rome; the Leader, not the Tyrant of his country: for he more than once had it in his power to have made himself the master of it without any risk; if his virtue, or his phlegm at least, had not restrained him: but he lived in a perpetual expectation of receive ing, from the gift of the people, what he did not care to seize by force; and, by fomenting the disorders of the city, hoped to drive them to the necessity of creating him Dictator. It is an observation of all the historians, that while Cæsar made no difference of power, whether it was conferred or usurped: whether over those who loved, or those who feared him: Pompey seemed to value none but what was offered ; nor to have any desire to govern, but with the good will of the governed. What leisure he found from his wars, he employed in the study of polite letters, and especially of eloquence, in which he would have acquired great fame, if his genius had not drawn him to the more dazzling glory of arms: yet he pleaded several causes with applause, in the defence of his friends and clients; and some of them in conjunction with Cicero.
His language was copious and elevated ; his sentiments just; his voice sweet; his action noble, and full of dignity. But his talents were better formed for arms, than the gown: for though, in both, he observed the same discipline, a perpetual modesty, temperance, and gravity of outward behaviour; yet, in the license of camps, the example was more rare and striking. His person was extremely graceful, and imprinting respect : yet with an air of reserve and haughtiness, which became the general better than the citizen. His parts were plausible, rather than great; specious, rather than penetrating; and his view of politics but narrow; for his chief instrument of governing was dissimulation; yet he had not always the art to conceal his real sentiments. As he was a better soldier than a statesman, so what he gained in the camp he usually lost in the city; and though adored when abroad, was often affronted and mortified at home; till the imprudent opposition of the senate drove him to that alliance with Crassus and Cæsar, which proved fatal both to himself and the republic. He took in these two, not as the partners, but the ministers rather of his power; that, by giving them some share with him, he might make his own authority uncontrollable: he had no reason to ap prehend that they could ever prove his rivals; since neither of them had any credit or character of that kind which alone could raise them above the laws; a superior fame and experience in war, with the militia of the empire at their devotion : all this was purely his own; till, by cherishing Cæsar, and throwing into his hands the only thing which he wanted, arms and military command, he made him at last too strong for himself, and never began to fear him till it was too late : Cicero warmly dissuaded both his union and his breach with Cæsar; and after the rupture, as warmly still, the thought of giving him battle: if any of these counsels had been followed, Pompey had preserved his life and honor, and the republic its liberty. But he was urged to his fate by a natural superstition, and attention to those vain auguries with which he was flattered by all the haruspices : he had seen the same temper in Marius and Sylla, and observed the happy effects of it: but they assumed it only out of policy, he out of principle. They used it to animate their soldiers, when they had found a probable opportunity of fighting; but he, against all prudence and probability, was encouraged by it to fight to his own ruin. He saw all his mistakes at last, when it was out of his power to correct them; and in his wretched flight from Pharsalia was forced to confess, that he had trusted too much to his hopes; and that Cicero had judged better, and seen farther into things than he. The resolution of seeking refuge in Egypt, finished the sad catastrophe of this great man : the father of the reigning punce had been highly obliged to him for his protection at Rome, and reslo
ration to his kingdom : and the son had sent a considerable fleet to his assistance in the present war: but, in this ruin of his fortunes, what gratitude was there to be expected from a court, governed by eunuchs and mercenary Greeks ? all whose politics turned, not on the honor of the king, but the establishment of their own power; which was likely to be eclipsed by the admission of Pompey. How happy had it been for him to have died in that sickness, when all Italy was putting up vows and prayers for his safety! or, if he had fallen by chance of war on the plains of Pharsalia, in the defence of his country's liberty, he had died still glorious, though unfortunate ; but, as if he had been reserved for an example of the instability of human greatness, he, who a few days before commanded kings and consuls, and all the noblest of Rome, was sentenced to die by a council of slaves ; murdered by a base deserter; cast out naked and headless on the Egyptian strand; and when the whole earth, as Velleius says, had scarce been sufficient for his victories, could not find a spot upon it at
last for a grave.
HENRY ST. JOHN, VISCOUNT BOLINGBROKE. 1678–1751. HENRY ST. JORN, son of Sir Henry St. John, of Battersea, Surrey county, was born October 1, 1678. He was educated at Eton and Oxford, and after spend ing many years of dissipation on the continent, he was, on his return, elected to parliament in 1701, when the Tories were in power. He was elevated to the peerage in 1712, by the title of Viscount Bolingbroke; but soon after the death of Queen Anne, fearing the course which might be taken against him by the new administration, he fled to France. On the 9th of August of the same year, (1718,) he was impeached by Walpole at the bar of the House of Lords of high-treason, and other high crimes and misdemeanors; and as he failed to surrender himself to take his trial, a bill of attainder was passed against him by parliament, on the 10th of September. In the mean time he showed what were his principles, and where his heart was, by entering the service of the Pretender, as secretary. In 1723 he obtained a full pardon, and returned to England: his property was restored to him, but he was ex. cluded from the House of Lords. He then engaged in active opposition to the Whig ministry of Sir Robert Walpole, and published a great number of political tracts.
In 1735 he suddenly withdrew to France, for reasons which have never been explained, and resided there seven years, during which time he published his “ Letters on the Study of History," and a “ Letter on the the Use of Retirement," both of which contain many valuable reflections. On the death of his father, 1742, he returned to take possession of the family estate at Battersea, and in 1749 published his “ Letters on the Spirit of Patriotism," and the « Idea of a Patriot King.” Most of his early friends, both literary and political, of whom were Pope, Swift, Gay, and Atterbury, were now gone, and he himself expired on the 15th of December, 1751. He bequeathed all bis manuscripts, “as a legacy for traducing the memory of his own old
friend Alexander Pope," to David Mallet, a Scotchman, who, in 1754, published a complete edition of his lordship's works, in five volumes. Among them were found a series of Essays against revealed religion, which led to the caustic but just remark of Dr. Johnson, that “having loaded a blunderbuss, and pointed it against Christianity, he had not the courage to discharge it himself, but left half-a-crown to a hungry Scotchman to pull the trigger after his death."
In Lord Bolingbroke's character as a man there is, but little to respect, much to condemn. His philosophical writings are now but little read, and for their matter contain little that is worth reading. As a rhetorician, however, he deserves some consideration in this work of ours, designed to mark the progress of English style, and to bring under our notice the best writers. His style was a happy medium between that of the scholar and that of tne man of society—or rather it was a happy combination of the best qualities of both, -heightening the ease, freedom, fluency, and liveliness of elegant conversation, with many of the deeper and richer tones of the eloquence of formal orations and books. The example he thus set has probably produced a very considerable effect in moulding the style of popular writing since his time."9
ABSURDITIES OF USELESS LEARNING. Some histories are to be read, some are to be studied, and some may be neglected entirely, not only without detriment, but with advantage. Some are the proper objects of one man's curiosity, some of another's, and some of all men's; but all history is not an object of curiosity for any man. He who improperly, wantonly, and absurdly makes it so, indulges a sort of canine appetite; the curiosity of one, like the hunger of the other, devours ravenously, and without distinction, whatever falls in its way, but neither of them digests. They heap crudity upon crudity, and nourish and improve nothing but their distemper. Some such characters I have known, though it is not the most common extreme into which men are apt to fall. One of them I knew in this country. He joined to a more than athletic strength of body, a prodigious memory, and to both a prodigious industry. He had
1 There is not room here to go into the details of the controversy that arose from the base act of Mallet in maligning Pope, and the still baser feelings of Bolingbroke in first assenting to it, and afterwards rewarding it. Bolingbroke's pretended ground of offence was, that Pope, Into whose hands he had placed his political tract, "The Patriot King," for publication, and distribution among his own (Bolingbroke's) friends, had published more than he ought. But he knew that Pope did it purely from his admiration of the tract, and a desire to have it more generally known. The real cause, therefore, of Bolingbroke's most ungrateful treatment of his old friend was, doubtless, that Pope had bequeathed his property in his printed works to Warburton, rather than to himself. For a more par ticular account of this, see Roscoe's Pope, vol. 1. p. 557.
2 " When Tully attempted poetry, he became as ridiculous as Bolingsroke when he attemplel philosophy and divinity; we look in vain for that genius which produced the Dissertation on Parties, in the tedious philosophical works, of which it is no exaggerated satire to say, that the reasoning 6-8 them is sophistical and inconclusive, the style diffuse and verbose, and the learning seemingly con tained in them not drawn from the originals, but picked up and purloined from French critics and translations." ---Warlon's Pope, 1. 119.
3 See also some remarks on his style in the 19th Lecture of Dr. Blair, and in Drake's Essays, vol I. p. 234.
read almost constantly twelve or fourteen hours a day for five-andtwenty or thirty years, and had heaped together as much learning as could be crowded into a head. In the course of my acquaintance with him, I consulted him once or twice, not oftener; for I found this mass of learning of as little use to me as to the
The man was communicative enough; but nothing was distinct in his mind. How could it be otherwise ? he had never spared time to think ; all was employed in reading. His reason had not the merit of common mechanism. When you press a watch, or pull a clock, they answer your question with precision; for they repeat exactly the hour of the day, and tell you neither more nor less than you desire to know. But when you asked this man a question, he overwhelmed you by pouring forth all that the several terms or words of your question recalled to his memory ; and if he omitted any thing, it was that very thing to which the sense of the whole question should have led him or confined him. To ask him a question was to wind up a spring in his memory, that rattled on with vast rapidity and confused noise, till the force of it was spent; and you went away with all the noise in your ears, stunned and uninformed.
He who reads with discernment and choice, will acquire less learning, but more knowledge; and as this knowledge is collected with design, and cultivated with art and method, it will be at all times of immediate and ready use to himself and others.
Thus useful arms in magazines we place,
But to be found, when need requires, with ease. You remember the verses, my lord, in our friend's Essay on Criticism, which was the work of his childhood almost ; but is such a monument of good sense and poetry, as no other, that I know, has raised in his riper years.
He who reads without this discernment and choice, and resolves to read all, will not have time, no, nor capacity either, to do any thing else. He will not be able to think, without which it is impertinent to read; nor to act, without which it is impertinent to think. He will assemble materials with much pains, and purchase them at much expense, and have neither leisure nor skill to frame them into proper scantlings, or to prepare them for use. To what purpose should he husband his time, or learn architecture ? he has no design to build. But then to what purpose all these quarries of stone, all these mountains of sand and lime, all theje forests of oak and deal ?