« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
idea, intimately present to the mind, must have a most powerful effect in refining the moral taste. Composed of the richest elements, it embraces, in the character of a beneficient Parent, and Almighty Ruler, whatever is venerable in wisdom, whatever is awful in authority, whatever is touching in goodness.
Human excellence is blendid with many imperfections, and seen under many limitations. It is beheld only in detatched and separate portions, nor ever appears in any one character, whole and entire. So that, when, in imitation of the stoics, we wish to form out of these fragnients, the notion of a perfectly wise and good man, we know it is a mere fiction of the mind, without any real being in whom it is embodied and realized. In the belief of a Deity, these conceptions are reduced to a reality : the scattered rays of an ideal excellence are concentrated, and become real attributes of that Being, with whom we stand in the nearest relation, who sits supreme at the head of the universe, is armed with infinite power, and pervades all nature with his presence.
The efficacy of these sentiments in producing and augmenting a virtuous taste, will indeed be proportioned to the vividness with which they are formed, and the frequency with which they recur; yet some benefit will not fail to result from them, even in their lowest degree.
The idea of the Supreme Being has this peculiar property; that as it admits of no substitute, so, from the first moment it is impressed, it is capable of con
tinual growth and enlargement. God himself is immutable: but our conception of his character is continually receiving fresh accessions ; is continually growing more extended and refulgent, by having transferred upon it new perceptions, of beauty, and goodness; by attracting to itself, as a centre, whatever bears the impress of dignity, order, or happiness. It borrows splendour, from all that is fair, subordinates to itself all that is great, and sits enthroned, on the riches of the universe.
ANTONY'S ORATION OVER CÆSAR'S
Friends, Romans, countrymen! Lend me your ears;
I come to bury Cæsar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do, lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones:
So let it be with Cæsar! Noble Brutus
Hath told you, Cæsar was ambitious.
If it were so, it was a grievous fault;
And grievously hath Cæsar answer'd it.
Here, under leave of Brutus, and the rest,
For Brutus is an honourable man,
So are they all, all honourable men,
Come I to speak at Cæsar's funeral.
He was my friend, faithful and just to me:
But Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
He hath brought many captives home to Rome,
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill:
Did this in Cæsar seem ambitious ?
When that the poor have cried, Cæsar hath wept;
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff.
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
You all did see, that, on the Lupercal,
I thrice presented him a kingly crown;
Which he did thrice refuse. Was this ambition?
Yet Brutus says, he was ambitious;
And sure, he is an honourable man?
I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love him once; not without cause :
What cause withholds you then, to mourn for him ?
O judgment! Thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason ! Bear with me :
My heart is in the coffin there with Cæsar ;
And I must pause till it come back to me.
But yesterday, the word of Cæsar might
Have stood against the world! now lies he there,
And none so poor to do him reverence.
O masters! If I were disposed to stir
Your hearts and minds to mutiny and rage,
I should do Brutus wrong, and Cassius wrong;
Who, you all know, are honourable men.
I will not do them wrong. I rather choose
To wrong the dead, to wrong myself and you,
Than I will wrong such honourable men.
But here's a parchment with the seal of Cæsar;
I found it in his closet; 'Tis his will :
Let but the commons hear this testament,
Which, pardon me, I do not mean to read,
And they would go and kiss dead Cæsar's wounds,
And dip their napkins in his sacred blood;
Yea beg a hair of him for memory,
And dying, mention it within their wills,
Bequeathing it as a rich legacy,
Unto their issue.
If you have tears, prepare to shed them now.
You all do know this mantle : I remember
The first time ever Cæsar put it on;
'Twas on a summer's evening in his tent;
That day he overcame the Nervii :
Look! in this place ran Cassius' dagger through!
See what a rent the envious Casca made.
Through this the well beloved Brutus stabbed,
And as he pluck'd his cursed steel away,
Mark how the blood of Cæsar followed it!
This was the most unkindest cut of all !
For when the noble Cæsar saw him stab,
In gratitude more strong than traitor's arms,
Quite vanquish'd him : then burst his mighty heart;
And in his mantle, muffling up his face,
Even at the base of Pompey's statute,
Which all the while ran blood, great Cæsar fell.
O what a fall was there, my countrymen!
Then I, and yon, and all of us, fell down,
Whilst bloody treason flourish'd over us.
0! now you weep; and I perceive, you feel,
The dint of pity; these are gracious drops.
Kind souls; what weep you, when you but behold
Our Cæsar's vesture wounded ? Look you here!
Here is himself, marr'd as you see, by traitors.
Good friends, sweet friends, let me not stir you up
To such a sudden flood of mutiny.
They that have done this deed, are honourable :
What private griefs they have, alas ! I know not,
That made them do it; they are wise, and honoura-
ble, And will, no doubt, with reason answer you. I come not, friends, to steal away your hearts ; I am no orator, as Brutus is; But as you know me all, a plain blunt man, That love my friend, and that they know full well That gave me public leave to speak of him. For I have neither wit, nor words, nor worth, Action, nor utterance nor power of speech, To stir men's blood. I only speak right on: I tell you that which you yourselves do know; Show your sweet Cæsar's wounds, poor, poor, dumb