Imágenes de páginas

solution, and good Fortune, wherein (tho' we had not had the Authority of Hannibal to assure us) he was the chief of Men; the uncommon Beauty and State of his Person, even to a Miracle, his majestic Port, and awful Deportments in a Face so Young, so Ruddy, and so Radiant:

Qtfalis ubi Oceani persusus Lucifer undd, Quem Venus ante aiios ajlrorum diligit igne$? . . Extulit os sacrum ado, tenebrasque resolvit ".

i. e.

So does the Day-star from the Ocean rife,
Above all Lights, grateful to Venus Eyes;
"When he from Heaven darts his sacred Light,
And dissipates the sullen Shades of Night.

Whoever, moreover, considers the Excellency of his Know* ledge and Capacity, tjie Duration apd Grandeur of his Gloy ry, pure, clear, without Spot or Envy; and that, even long after his Death, it was a religious Belief, that his very Medals brought good Fortune tq all that carried them about them •, and that more Jtings and Princes have writ his Acts, than other Historians have written the Acts of anyother King or Prince whatever; and that, to this very Pay, the Mahometans, who despise all other Histories, admit of, and hpnpur his alone, by a special Privilege: Whoever, I fay, will seriouily cqnsider all these Particu-r Jars, will confess, that I had reason to prefer him before Cæsar himseif, who aloqe cpuld make me doubtful in my Choice: And it cannot be denied, but that there was more pf his own Conduct in his Exploits, and more of Fortune in those of Alexander. They were, in many Things, equal, and, peradventure, Cæsar had the Advantage in some parr ticular Qualities. They were two Fires, or two Torrents,, to ravage the World by several Ways:

Et velut immiffi diversis partibus ignes
Arentem in Jylvam, et virgulta sonantia lauro:
Aut ubi dedursu rapido de montibus altis
Dant sonitum spumofi amnes, et in œauora current,

Quisque suum papula t us it er p.

• Æneid. lib. viii. v. 589, &c. t Ibjd. lih. xii. v, 521, &$,

[ocr errors]

And like to Fires in sev'ral Parts apply'd
To a dry Grove of crackling Laurel's Side;
Or like the Cataracts of foaming Rills,
To tumble headlong from the lofty Hills,
To hasten to the Ocean; even so
They bear all down before them where they go.

But tho' Cæsar's Ambition was, in itself, more moderate,
it was so mischievous, having the Ruin of his Country,
and the universal Devastation of the World for its abo-
, minable Object; that, all Things collected together, and
put into the Balance, I cannot but incline to Alexander'*

The third Great Man, and, In my Opinion, the most Excellent of all, is Epaminondas: Of Glory he EpaminondaS| has not near so much as the other two (which the Third, and also is but a Part of the Substance of the the **>ft £*Thing :) Of Valour and Resolution, not of cdle*u' that Sort which is pushed on by Ambition, but of that which Wisdom and Reason can plant in a regular Sou), he had all that could be imagined: Of this Virtue of his he has, in my Thoughts, given as ample Proof, as Alex an* der himself, or Cæsar: For, although his military Exploits were neither so frequent, nor so renowned, they were.yet, if duly considered in all their Circumstances, as important, as vigorous, and carried with them as manifest a Testimony of Boldness, and military Capacity, as those of any whatever.

The Greeks have done him the Honour, without Contradiction, to pronounce him the greatest Man of their Nation; and to be the first Man of theGTML? Greece is easily to be the first of the World. - * As to his Knowledge and Capacity, we have this ancient Judgment of him, That never any Man _, knew so much, and spake so little as he *: For jjj *MW" he was of the Pythagorean Sect: But,when he did speak, never any Man spake better; being an excellent and most persuasive Orator.

B^t, as to his Manners and Conscience, he has vastly

surpassed M Manner: furpaslcd all Men that ever undertook the Management of Affairs; for in this one Thing, which ought chiefly to be considered, which alone truly denotes us for what we are, and which alone I counter-balance with all the rest put together, he comes not short of any Philosopher whatever, not even of Socrates himself. Innocency, in this Man, is a Quality, peculiar, sovereign, constant, uniform, and incorruptible; compared to which, it appears, in Alexander^ subaltern, uncertain, variable, effeminate, and accidental.

4 Plutarch of Socrates's Familiar Spirit, C. 23.

Antiquity has judged, that, in thoroughly fisting all Hit con/um- the other great Captains, there is found, in mate and uni- every one, some peculiar Quality that illusform rirtut. trates him. In this Man only there is a full and equal Virtue and Sufficiency throughout, that leaves nothing to be wished for in him, in all Offices of Human Life, whether in private or public Employments, either of Peace or War, in order for living and dying with Grandeur and Glory. I do not know any Form or Fortune of a Man that I so much honour and love. .. *Tis true, that I look upon his obstinate Poverty, as it is set out by his best Friends, a little too fc/wT* scrupulous and nice. And this is the only Action, tho' high in itself, and well worthy of Admiration, that I find so unpleasant as not to desire to imitate myself, to the Degree it was in him. . Scipio Æmilianus, would any attribute to him as brave SdpioÆmi- anc* magnificent an End, and as profound jianus the and universal a Knowledge of the Sciences, pnly one te be js the only Person fit to be put into the other compared with Scale of the Balance: Oh! what a Mortification has Time given us, to deprive us of the Sight of two of the most noble Lives, which, by the common Consent of all the World, one the greatest of the .Greeks, and the other of the Romans^ were in all Plutarch! What a Subject! What a Workman! - For a Man that was no Saint, but, as we fay, a gal-. The Figure lant Man, of civil and ordinary Manners, <whuh Alci- ajid of a moderate Eminence, the richest Life blades m*. that I know, and full of the most valuable and desirable Qualities, .all Things considered, is, in my Opinion, that of Alcibiades. .

But, as to Epaminondas, I will here, for the Example of an excessive Goodness, add some of hts Qpi- Humanity, &c. nions. He declared, l, That the greatest Sa- of Epaminon

* tisfaction he ever had in his whole Life, das"

« was, the Pleasure he gave his Father and Mother by 'his Victory at Leuctra ' -,' wherein his Complaisance is great, preferring their Pleasure before his own, so just, and so full of so glorious an Action: He did not think it lawful to kill any Man for no Crime, even tho' it were to restore the Liberty of his Country ': Which made him {b cool in the Enterprise of his Companion Pelopidas for the Relief of Thebes. He was also of Opinion, * That

* Men in Battle ought to avoid attacking a Friend that f was on the contrary Side, and to spare him '.' And his Humanity, even towards his Enemies themselves, having rendered him sulpected to the Bœotians \ for that, after he had miraculously forced the Lacedæmonians to open to him the Pass, which they had undertaken to defend at the Entrance of the Moreciy near Corinth, he contented himself with having charged thro' them, without pursuing them to the utmost: For this he had his Commission of General taken from him, which was very honourable for such an Account, and for the Shame it was to them, upon Necessity, afterwards to restore him to his Command, and to own how much depended their Safety and Honour upon him: Victory, like a Shadow, attending him wherever he went; and, indeed, the Prosperity of his Country, as being from him derived, died with him \

r Plutarch in the Life of Coriolanus, c. 2. And in his Treatise, to prove, that there can be no merry Life, according to Epicurus.

'Plutarch of Socrates'i, Dæmon, C. 4.

* Idem, ibid. c. 17. . B Corn. Nepn in thJe Life of Lpinwnondas.

[ocr errors]


Of the Resemblance of Children to their Fathers.

IN compounding this Farrago of so many different Pieces, I never set Pen to Paper, but when I have too much idle Time, and never any where but at home; so that it is the Work of several Pauses and Intervals, as Occasions keep me sometimes many Months abroad. As to the rest, 1 never correct my first by any second Conceptions; I peradventure may alter a Word or so, but "tis only to vary the Phrase, and not to cancel my Meaning: I have a mind to represent the Progress of my Humours, that every Piece, as it comes from the Brain, may be seen: I could wish I had begun sooner, and taken Notice of the Course of my Mutations. A Servant of mine, that I imployed to transcribe for me, thought he had got a Prize by stealing several Pieces from me, which best: pleased his Fancy •, but it is my Comfort, that he will be no greater a Gainer, than I shall be a Loser by the Theft.

I am grown older, by seven or eight Years, fince I beMontaiene'/ 8an * neither has it been without some new Patience in the Acquisition: I have, in that Time, been acDisease ivbkb quainted with the Cholic, and a long Course drdJL* °^ ^ears hardly wears off without some such Inconvenience. I could have been glad, that, of other Infirmities Age has to present long-lived Men, it had chosen some one that would have been more welcome to me, for it could not possibly have laid upon me a Disease, for which, even from my Infancy, I have had a greater Horror; and it is, in Truth, of all the Acci^ dents of Old-age, the very Distemper of which I have ever been most afraid. I have often thought with myself, that I went on too far, and that, in so long a Voyage, I should infallibly, at last, meet with some scurvy Shock; I perceived, and oft enough declared, that it was Time to knock off, and that Life was to be cut to the Quick, according to the Surgeons Rule in the Amputation of a

3 Limb -,

« AnteriorContinuar »