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by Epictetus, that we ought not to consider, who is prince, or who is mendicant, but who acts the prince or beggar best. To those, whose unbounded desires have never been curbed by prudence or virtue, how vain will appear the philosophic spirit of Adrian, who calculated those years, which he passed at the Villa Adriana, as only belonging to life; or that of Corcutus, son of Bajazet the Second. Upon the death of Mahomet, Corcutus was, by the unanimous consent of the army and nobility, elected, after various struggles, in preference to his father. Upon Bajazet’s arrival at Constantinople, however, he resigned the imperial purple, and retired, with a yearly pension, to the government of the delightful provinces of Lycia, Caria, and Ionia, where he lived, free and content, in the quiet studies of philosophy. “ I esteem it,” says he, in an oration to his father, “ unbecoming the resolution of a calm and settled mind, to pant for those worldly possessions; when, in the sweet meditations of heavenly things, my ravished mind is feasted with objects, of far more worth and majesty, than all the kingdoms and monarchies in the world.”
ODE TO CLAUDE SPENCER, ESQ.
1. No! I'll not listen to the lore, That has so oft beguiled before ! 'Tis mine to sit on river's side, And mark the flowing of its tide; To wander up high mountains grey, At early morn ;-at close of day To loiter near the mossy cell, • Where Contemplation loves to dwell;">
Or where has knelt some snow-hair’d sage,
The tower, the convent, or the hermitage.
It has beguiled so oft before!
Rules sovereign lord, unknowing and unknown.
I know the world too well, to wish to try it more!
XVIII. And now, my Lelius, perhaps you will pardon a few remarks upon the comparative pretensions of those men, who have the power of acquiring for themselves a splendid immortality ;-statesmen, heroes, and literati! Of these, the two first are dependent on the last for their eternity; the last are dependent only on themselves. For who would have heard of Grecian, or of Roman heroes and statesmen, had such men as Herodotus and Thucydides never existed; or if there had not been a Livy, a Polybius, a Sallust, or a Tacitus ? Illustrious deeds lose half their value, unless they are recorded by men, who can give them life and remembrance. When we meditate on the memories of Charles of Spain and Frederic of Prussia ; or on the names of Suwarrow and Napoleon, with what disgust do we trace their routes by the stains of purple, which discolour the fields! And with what horror do we recognize their effigies, by hearts cased with mail ; eyes prominent with military lust ; and ears, fingers, and bosoms, dropping with blood! The outcast, who beheaded Mary of Scotland, was not so vile, so worthless, and detestable: even Chartres were a Wilberforce, and Ravilliac a deity.
Statesmen! essenced warriors !—Men, who, gliding through an avenue of courtiers, palsy the energies of a
1 Vixere fortes ante Agamemnona
Hor. B. iv, od. 9. 1. 25.
whole peuple; and with all the cowardice of security, devote provinces to destruction with a stroke of the pen; and depopulate whole nations without drawing a sword! I speak not of such men as Solon, Sully, Bernstorff, Colbert, or Chatham; men, who, having a beauty and a grandeur in all their sentiments, were the pride of their respective nations, and the glory of the whole earth ! But of * * of * * and of * * .
When we speak, or think, of such men as these, (for the weakness of human nature permits us not to guard our thoughts against sometimes thinking of such men, any more than our eyes are privileged against disgusting objects in the streets), our thoughts wear the character of disgraceful uniformity. The same moral disgust affects us, whether we speak of Catharine of Russia, or Catharine de Medicis ;-of John of England, Alva of Spain, or Philip of France. Associating Cesar with Borgia, * * * with Sejanus, and *** with Alvarez de Luna', who would not prefer the silence of the most obscure hamlet of the Hebrides, to the ignominious immortality of such creatures as these? Men and women, towards whom history will operate as a perpetual gallow-tree! Men and women, who made all others “ beautiful to look upon."
O mighty Cæsar! dost thou lie so low?
XIX. Warfare of defence, my Lelius, alone is justifiable. The rest is infamy: and the man who urges it, proclaims
· Vide Mariana de Rebus Hispaniæ.--Lib. xix.
it, or assists in it, be he prince, minister, or counsellor, is entitled to the united hisses of an injured world.
But who are those, niched in the eternal amphitheatre, who live from age to age, and who, to the utmost limits of time, will charm and instruct, not only a nation, but a world? Who are those, of whom enlightened men are speaking every hour? Who are they, who walk with us, accompany us in long journies, advise us in secrecy, and reprove us without a frown? Who are they, who dry the tears of the widow, and cheer the bosoms of the wretched ? Whose birth-places do we visit with sympathy and delight? Over whose tombs do we bend with all that fascinating awe, with which a Tasso would pause among the ruins of a venerable temple? Who teach us to derive happiness from ourselves; and thrill us with all those delicate emotions, of which our nature is susceptible ? And to whom,-hear it ye military vulgar !-to whom do kings and warriors, and statesmen, look for consolation, when they are foiled, defeated, and disgraced ? To whom, but to men of learning, talents, and genius:-men, who possess the power of imparting all the colours of the rainbow to the dull mosaic of a spider's web :-men, who glide through life unobserved and unknown; whose merits are only acknowledged in death ; and whose coruscations are allowed only to emanate from the grave.Men, whose memories live, not on pillars, on monuments, or on obelisks; but in the bosom of every amiable and enlightened man! Whose images are multiplied, in proportion to the extension of the human race; and whose honourable names are echded with' rapture, even through the universe!