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bove ambition; and popularity, except as an instrument of public service, weighed nothing in the balance by which he estimated good and evil.
It is happy for mankind, when those who engage admiration deserve esteem; for vice and folly derive a pernicious influence from an alliance with qualities that naturally command applause. In the character of Mr. Ames the circle of the virtues seemed to be complete, and each virtue in its proper place.
The objects of religion presented themselves with a strong interest to his mind. The relation of the world to its Author, and of this life to a retributory scene in another, could not be contemplated by him without the greatest solemnity. The religious sense was, in his view, essential in the constitution of man.. He placed a full reliance on the divine origin of christianity. If there was ever a time in his life, when the light of revelation shone dimly upon his understanding, he did not rashly close his mind against clearer vision, for he was more fearful of mistakes to the disadvantage of a system, which he saw to be excellent and benign, than of prepossessions in its favour. He felt it his duty and interest to inquire, and discovered on the side of faith a fulness of evidence little short of demonstration. At about thirty-five he made a public profession of his belief in the christian religion,. and was a regular attendant on its services. In regard to articles of belief, his conviction was confined to those leading principles, about which christians. have little diversity of opinion. Subtle questions of theology, from various causes often agitated, but never determined, he neither pretended nor desired to investigate, satisfied that they related to points uncertain or unimportant. He loved to view religion on. the practical side, as designed to operate by a few simple and grand truths on the affections, actions, and. habits of men. He cherished the sentiment and experience of religion, careful to ascertain the genuineness and value of impressions and feelings by their mo ral tendency..
He of all men was the last to countenance exclusive claims to purity of faith, founded on a zeal for peculiar dogmas, which multitudes of good men, approved friends of truth, utterly reject. He was no enemy to improvement, to fair inquiry, and christian freedom; but innovations in the modes of worship and instruction, without palpable necessity or advantage, he discouraged, as tending to break the salutary associations of the pious mind. His conversation and behaviour evinced the sincerity of his religious impressions. No levity upon these subjects ever escaped his lips; but his manner of recurring to them in conversation indicated reverence and feeling. The sublime, the affecting character of Christ he never mentioned without emotion.
He was gratefully sensible of the peculiar felicity of his domestic life. In his beloved home his sickness found all the alleviation, that a judicious and unwearied tenderness could minister; and his intervals of health a succession of every heartfelt satisfaction. The complacency of his looks, the sweetness of his tones, his mild and often playful manner of imparting instruction, evinced his extreme delight in the society of his family, who felt that they derived from him their chief happiness, and found in his conversation and example a constant excitement to noble and virtuous conduct. As a husband and father, he was all that is provident, kind, and exemplary. He was riveted in the regards of those who were in his service. He felt all the ties of kindred. The delicacy, the ardour, and constancy, with which he cherished his friends, his readiness to the offices of good neighbourhood, and his propensity to contrive and execute plans of public improvement, formed traits in his character, each of remarkable strength. He cultivated friendship by an active and punctual correspondence, which made the number of his letters very great, and which are not less excellent than nume
He had no envy, for he felt no personal rivalry. His ambition was of that purified sort, which is rather the desire of excellence than the reputation of it: he aimed more at desert, than at superiority. He loved to bestow praise on those who were competitors for the same kind of public consideration as himself, not fearing that he should sink by their elevation.
He was tenacious of his rights, but scrupulous in his respect to the rights of others. The obloquy of political opponents, was sometimes the price he paid for not deserving it. But it could hardly give him pain, for he had no vulnerable points in his character. He had a perfect command of his temper; his anger never proceeded to passion, nor his sense of injury to revenge. If there was occasional asperity in his language, it was easy to see there was no malignity in his disposition. He tasted the good of his existence with cheerful gratitude; and received its evil as became a christian.
In faint lines we have sketched the character of this man of worth. If the reader ask, why he is represented without blemishes, the answer is, that, though as a man he undoubtedly had faults, yet they were so few, so trivial, or so lost among his virtues, as not to be observed, or not to be remembered.
The Character of Brutus.
BRUTUS killed his benefactor and friend, Cesar, because Cesar had usurped the sovereign power.— Therefore Brutus was a patriot, whose character is to be admired, and whose example should be imitated, as long as republican liberty shall have a friend or an enemy in the world.
This short argument seems to have, hitherto, vindicated the fame of Brutus from reproach and even from scrutiny; yet, perhaps, no character has been more over-rated, and no example worse applied. He was, no doubt, an excellent scholar and a complete master, as well as faithful votary of philosophy; but, in action, the impetuous Cassius greatly excelled him. Cassius alone of all the conspirators acted with promptness and energy in providing for the war, which, he foresaw, the death of Cesar would kindle; Brutus spent his time in indolence and repining, the dupe of Anthony's arts, or of his own false estimate of Roman spirit and virtue. The people had lost a kind master, and they lamented him. Brutus summoned them to make efforts and sacrifices, and they viewed his cause with apathy, his crime with abhor
Before the decisive battle of Philippi, Brutus seems, after the death of Cassius, to have sunk under the weight of the sole command. He still had many able officers left, and among them Messala, one of the first men of that age, so fruitful of great men; but Brutus no longer maintained that ascendant over his army, which talents of the first order maintain every where, and most signally in the camp and field of battle. It is fairly, then, to be presumed, that his troops had discovered, that Brutus, whom they loved and esteemed, was destitute of those talents; for he was soon obliged by their clamours, much against his judgment, and against all prudence and good sense, to give battle. Thus ended the life of Brutus and the existence of the republic.
Whatever doubt there may be of the political and military capacity of Brutus, there is none concerning his virtue: his principles of action were the noblest that ancient philosophy had taught, and his actions. were conformed to his principles. Nevertheless, our admiration of the man ought not to blind our judgment of the deed, which, though it was the blem
ish of his virtue, has shed an unfading splendour on his name.
For, though the multitude to the end of time will be open to flattery, and will joyfully assist their flatterers to become their tyrants, yet they will never cease to hate tyrants and tyranny with equal sincerity and vehemence. Hence it is, that the memory of Brutus, who slew a tyrant, is consecrated as the champion and martyr of liberty, and will flourish and look in declamation, as long as the people are prone green to believe, that those are their best friends, who have proved themselves the greatest enemies of their enemies.
Ask any one man of morals, whether he approves of assasination; he will answer, no. Would you kill your friend and benefactor? No. The question is a horrible insult. Would you practise hypocrisy and smile in his face, while your conspiracy is ripening, to gain his confidence and to lull him into security, in order to take away his life? Every honest man, on the bare suggestion, feels his blood thicken and stagnate at his heart. Yet in this pictue we see Brutus. It would, perhaps, be scarcely just to hold him up to abhorrence; it is, certainly, monstrous and absurd to exhibit his conduct to admiration.
He did not strike the tyrant from hatred or ambition his motives are admitted to be good; but was not the action, nevertheless, bad?
To kill a tyrant, is as much murder, as to kill any other man. Besides, Brutus, to extenuate the crime, could have had no rational hope of putting an end to the tyranny: he had foreseen and provided nothing to realize it. The conspirators relied, foolishly enough, on the love of the multitude for liberty-they loved their safety, their ease, their sports, and their demagogue favourites a great deal better. They quietly looked on, as spectators, and left it to the legions of Anthony, and Octavius, and to those of Syria, Macedonia, and Greece, to decide, in the field of Philippi, whether there should be a republic