« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
of praise, but to repel an accusation: that no man who had been conversant in great affairs, and treated with particular envy, could refute the contumely of an enemy, without touching upon
his own praises; and after all his labours for the common safety, if a just indignation had drawn from him at any time what might seem to be vainglorious, it might reasonably be forgiven to him : that when others were silent about him, if he could not then forbear to speak of himself, that, indeed would be shameful; but when he was injured, accused, exposed to popular odium, he must certainly be allowed to assert his liberty, if they would not suffer him to retain his dignity."
This, then, was the true state of the case, as it is evident from the facts of his history : he had an ardent love of glory, and an eager thirst of praise ; was pleased, when living, to hear his acts applauded; yet more still with imagining that they would ever be celebrated when he was dead. A passion which, for the reasons already hinted, had always the greatest force on the greatest souls; but it must needs raise our contempt and indignation to see every conceited pedant, and trifling declaimer, who know little of Cicero's real character, and less still of their own, presuming to call him the vainest of mortals. But there is no point of light in which we can view him with more advantage and satisfaction to ourselves than in the contemplation of his learning, and the surprising extent of his knowledge.
This shines so conspicuous in all the monuments which remain of him, that it even lessens the dignity of his general character; while the idea of the scholar absorbs that of the senator; and by considering him as the greatest writer, we are apt to forget that he was the greatest magistrate also of Rome. We learn our Latin from him at school ; our style and sentiments at the college ; here the generality take their leave of him, and seldom think of him more, but as of an orator, a moralist, or philosopher of antiquity. But it is
with characters as with pictures: we cannot judge well of a single part, without surveying the whole, since the perfection of each depends on its proportion and relation to the rest; while, in viewing them all together, they mutually reflect an additional grace upon each other. His learning, considered separately, will appear admirable; yet much more so, when it is found in the possession of the first statesman of a mighty Empire. His abilities as a statesman are glorious : yet surprise us still more, when they are observed in the ablest scholar and philosopher of his age; but a union of both these characters exhibits that sublime specimen of perfection to which the best parts with the best culture can exalt human nature.--MIDDLETON's Life of Cicero.
CHARACTER OF CHARLES I.
To consider him in the most favourable light, it may be affirmed that his dignity was free from pride, his humanity from weakness, his bravery from rashness, his temperance from austerity, his frugality from avarice : all these virtues maintained their proper bounds, and merited unreserved praise.
To speak the most harshly of him, we may affirm that many of his good qualities were attended with some latent frailty, which, though seemingly inconsiderable, was able, when seconded by the extreme malevolence of his fortune, to disappoint them of all their influence ; his beneficent disposition was clouded by a manner not very gracious ; his virtue was tinctured with superstition; his good sense was disfigured by a deference to persons of a capacity inferior to his own; and his moderate temper exempted him not from hasty and precipitate resolutions. He deserves the epithet of a good rather than a great man, and was more fitted to rule
in a regular government, than to give way to the encroachments of a popular assembly, or finally to subdue their pretensions. He wanted suppleness and dexterity sufficient for the first measure; he was not endowed with the vigour requisite for the second.
Had he been born an absolute prince his humanity and good sense had rendered his reign happy, and his memory precious; had limitations and prerogative been in his time quite fixed and certain, his integrity had made him regard as sacred the boundaries of the constitution : unhappily, his fate threw him into a period when the precedents of many former reigns savoured strongly of arbitrary power, and the genius of the people ran violently towards liberty; and if his political prudence was not sufficient to extricate him from so perilous a situation he may be excused : since even after the event, when it is commonly easy to correct all errors, one is at a loss to determine what conduct, in his circumstances, could have maintained the authority of the crown, and preserved the peace of the nation. Exposed without revenue, without arms, to the assault of furious, implacable, and bigoted factions, it was never permitted him, but with the most fatal consequences, to commit the smallest mistake: à condition too rigorous to be imposed on the greatest human capacity.
Some historians have rashly questioned the good faith of this prince; but for this reproach the most malignant scrutiny of his conduct, which in every circumstance is now thoroughly known, affords not any reasonable foundation; on the contrary, if we consider the extreme difficulties to which he was so frequently reduced, and compare the sincerity of his professions and declarations, we shall avow, that probity and honour ought to be numbered among his most shining qualities: in every treaty those concessions which he thought he could not in conscience maintain, he never could by any motive or persuasion be induced to make; and though some viola
tions of the petition of right may be imputed to him, these are more to be ascribed to the necessity of his situation and to the lofty ideas of royal prerogative, which, from former established precedents, he had imbibed, than to any failure in the integrity of his principles.--HUME. From 1711 to 1766.
Those who have long enjoyed dignity and power ought not to lose it without some equivalent. There was paid to the Highland chiefs by the public, in exchange for their privileges, perhaps a sum greater than most of them had ever possessed, which excited a thirst for riches, of which it showed them the
When the power of birth and station ceases, no hope remains but from the prevalence of money. Power and wealth supply the place of each other. Power confers the ability of gratifying our desire without the consent of others; wealth enables us to obtain the consent of others to our gratification. Power, simply considered, whatever it conferson one, must take from another. Wealth enables its owner to give to others by taking only from himself. Power pleases the violent, and proud wealth delights the placid and the timorous. Youth, therefore, flies at power, and age grovels after riches.
The chiefs, divested of their prerogatives, necessarily turned their thoughts to the improvement of their revenues, and expect more rent, as they have less homage. The tenant, who is far from perceiving that his condition is made better in the same proportion as that of his landlord is made worse, does not immediately see why his industry is to be taxed more than before. He refuses to pay the demand, and is.ejected; the ground is then let to a stranger, who perhaps brings a larger stock, but who, taking the land at its full price, treats with the laird upon equal terms, and considers him, not as a chief, but as a trafficker in land. Thus the estate, perhaps, is improved, but the clan is broken.
It seems to be the general opinion, that the rents have been raised with too much eagerness. Some regard must be paid to prejudice. Those who have hitherto paid but little, will not suddenly be persuaded to pay much, though they can afford it. As ground is gradually improved, and the value of money decreases, the rent may be raised without any diminution of the farmer's profits; yet it is necessary in these countries, where the ejection of a tenant is a greater evil than in more populous places, to consider, not merely what the land will produce, but with what ability the inhabitants can cultivate it. A certain stock can allow but a certain payment; for if the land be doubled, and the stock remains the same, the tenant becomes no richer. The proprietors of the Highlands might perhaps often increase their income by subdividing the farms, and allotting to every occupier only so many acres as he can profitably employ, but that they want people.
There seems now, whatever be the cause, to be through a great part of the Highlands a general discontent. That adherence which was lately professed by every man to the chief of his name, has now little prevalence ; and he that cannot live as he desires at home, listens to the tale of fortunate islands and happy regions, where every man may have land of his own, and eat the produce of his labour without a superior. Those who have obtained grants of American lands, have, as is well known, invited settlers from all quarters of the globe, and, among other places, where oppression might produce a wish for new habitations, their emissaries would not fail to try their persuasions in the isles of Scotland, where, at the time when the clans were newly disunited from their chiefs, and exasperated by unprecedented exactions, it is no wonder that they prevailed.--JOHNSON. From 1709 to 1784.