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to his discipline. "Whether posterity ** will have any respect for me," says Pliny, - I know not, but I am sure that I "have deserved some from it; I will not "say by my wit, for that would be an o"gant; but by the zeal, by the pains, by *' the reverence which I have always paid «« to it."
It will not seem strange, to observe the wisest of the ancients pulhing this principle to so great a length, and considering glory as the amplest reward of a well-spent life, when we reflect, that the greatest part of them had no notion of any other reward or futurity; and even those who believed a state of happiness to the good, yet entertained it with so much diffidence., that they indulged it rather as a wish than a well-grounded hope, and were glad there, fore to lay hold on that which seemed to be within their reach; a futurity of their own creating; an immortality of same and
elory from the applause of posterity. This, y a pleasing fiction, they looked upon as a propagation of life, and an eternity of existence; and had no small comfort in imagining, that though the fense of it should not reach to themselves, it would extend at least to others; and that they should be doing good still when dead, by leaving the example of their virtues to the imitation of mankind. Thus Cicero, as he often declares, never looked upon that to be his life, which was confined to this narrow circle on earth, but considered his acts as feeds sown in the immense universe, to raise up the fruit of glory and immortality to him through a succession of infinite ages; nor has he been frustrated of his hope, or disappointed of his end; but as long as the name of Rome subsists, or as long as learning, virtue, and liberty preserve any credit in the world, he will be great and glorious in the memory of all posterity.
As to the other part of the charge, or the proof of his vanity, drawn from bis toasting ft frtquently of himself in his speeches both to the senate and the people, though it may appear to a common reader to be abundantly confirmed by his writings: yet if we attend to the circumstances of the times, and the part which he acted in them, we shall find it not only excusable, but in some degree even necessary. The fate of Rome was now brought to a crisis, and the contending parties were making their last efforts either to oppress or preserve it; Cicero
was the head of those who stood up for it» liberty, which entirely depended on the influences of his counsels; he had many years, therefore, been the common mark of the rage and malice of all who were aiming at illegal powers, or a tyranny in the state; and while these were generally supported by the military power os the empire, he had no other arms or mean* of defeating them but his authority with the senate and people, grounded on the experience of his services, and the persuasion of his integrity; so that to obviate the perpetual calumnies of the factious, he was obliged to inculcate the merit and good effects of his counsels, in order to confirm people in their union and adherence to them, against the intrigues of those who were employing all arts to subvert them. "The frequent commemora"tion of his acts," fays Quintilian, " was "not made so much for glory as for "defence; to repel calumny, and vindi"cate his measures when they were at"tacked:" and this is what Cicero himself declared in all his speeches, " That «' no man ever heard him speak of him"self but when he was forced to it: that «' when he was urged with fictitious crimes, it was his custom to answer them with "his real services: and if ever he said "any thing glorious of himself.it was not « through a fondness of praise, but to re"pel an accusation: that no man what "had been conversant in great affairs, «« and treated •with particular envy, could "refute the contumely of an enemy, with"out 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 vain-glorious, it might rea•* sonably 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 dig« nity."
This then was the true state of the cafe,' 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 t yet more Hill with imagining, that they would ever be celebrated when he was dead: apaffioa which, tor, the reasons al
ready hinted, had always the greatest force on the greatest souls: but it must needs raise our contempt and indignation, to fee every conceited pedant, and trifling decliimer, who knew little of Cicero's real character, and still less 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 or 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 osth: 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 htm at school; our stile and sentiments at the college; here the generality take their leave of him, and leldom 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 foand in the possession of the first statesman of a mighty empire. His abilities as a statesman aiv glorious; yet surprise us still more when they are observed in the ablest scholar and philosopher of his age: hot an union of bolh theie characters exhibits that sublime specimen of perfection, ta which the best parts, with the best culture, can exalt human nature.
No man, whose life had been wholly spent in study, ever lest more numerous, er more valuable fruits of his learning in every branch of science, and the politer art?; in oratory, poetry, pbihjopby, law, tijicry, criticism, politics, ethics J in each of Which he equalled the greatest masters of his time; in some of them excelled all men of all times. His remaining works, as voluminous as they appear, are but a small part of what iie really published ; and though many of these are come down to us maimed by tim?, and the barbarity of t'ic intermediate a^'?, ye: they are justly efle me! the nvst pre.io.is n mains of all SJitlauiiy, and, lL;i Iu Sybyllme bocks, if
more of them had perished, would have been equal still to any price.
His industry was incredible, beyond the example, or even conception of our days; this was the secret by which he performed such wonders, and reconciled perpetual study with perpetual affairs. He suffered no part of liL. leisure to be idle, or the least interval of it to be lost: but what other people gave to the public Jhe-ws, to pleasures* to feasts, nay even to sleep, and the ordinary refrejhmcntt of naturt, he generally gave to bis books, and the enlargement of his knowledge. On days of business, when he had any thing particular to compose, he had no other time for meditating but when he was taking a few turns in bis -walks, where he used to dictate his thoughts to bis fcribtt who attended him, We find many of hi* letters dated before day-light; and some from the senate; others from bis meals; and the crowd of bis morning Itvte.
No compositions afford more pleasure than the epistles of great men: they touch the heart of the reader by laying open that of the writer. The letters of eminent wits, eminent scholars, eminent statesmen, are all esteemed in their several kinds: but there never was a collection that excelled so much in every kind as Cicero's, for the purity of stile, the importance of the matter, or the dignity of the persons concerned in them. We have above a thousand still remaining, all written after he wasfortj years old ; which are a small part not only of what he wrote, but of what were actually published after his death by his servant Tiro. For we see many volumes of them quoted by the ancients, which are utterly lost; as the first hook of his Letters to Licinius Calvus; the first also to Q^Axius; a second book to his son; a second also ta Corn. Nepos; a tbtrd book to J. Cgssar; a third to Octavius; a. third also to Panfa; an eighth book to M. Brutus; and a ninth to A. Hirtius. Of all which, excepting a few to J. Cæsar and Brutus, we have nothing more left than fonr' scattered phrases and sentences, gathered fVjm the citations of the old critics and grammarians. What makes these letters still more estimable is, that he had never designed them for tlie public, nor kept any copies of them; tor the year before his d--jth, when Atticus was making some enquiry about them, he sent him.wcrd, that be lad <t.aJc no colleiiion; and tbat ^siro bad preserved only about seventy. Here then we may expect to sec the genuine man, without disguise
or er affectation; especially in his letters to Atticus, to whom he talked with the fame frankness as to himself; opened the rise and progress of each thought, and never entered into any affair without his parti, cular advice; so that these may be confide.red as the memoirs of bis times \ containing the moll authentic materials for the history of that age, and laying open the grounds and motives of all the great events that happened in it: and it is the want of attention to them that makes the generality of writers on those times so superficial, as well as erroneous; while they chuse to transcribe the dry and imperfect relations of the later Greek historians, rather than take the pains to extract the original account offacts from one who was a principal actor in them.
In his familiar letters he affected no particular elegance or choice of words, but took the firII that occurred from common use, and the language of cowvirsaticn. Whenever he was dispofea to joke, his wit was easy and natural; flowing always from the subject, and throwing oat ichat came uppermost; nor disdaining even a pun, when it served to make his friends laugh. In letters of compliment, some of which were addressed to the greatest men who ever lived, his inclination to please is expressed in a manner agreeable to nature and reason, with the utmost delicacy both ot sentiment and diction, yet without any of tno.'e pompons titles and lofty epithets, which modern custom has introduced into nor commetee with the great, and falsely stamped with the name of politeness; though they arc the real offspring of barbariim, and the effects of degeneracy both in taste and manners. In his political let ers, all his maxims are drawn from an intimate knowledge of men and things: h? always touches the point on which the atf.iir turns; foresees ths danger, and fortells the mischief, which never failed ti> follow uf>on the neglect of his counsels; of which there were so many instances that, as an eminent writer of his own time observed to him, his prudence feimcd to he a kind of divination, ivhich foretold tvtry thing that afterwards happened, ivith the veracity of a prophet. But none of his letters do him rnore credit than those of the recommendatory kind: the others (hew his wit and his parts, these his benevolence and his probity: he solicits the interest of his friends, with all the warmth and force of words of which he was mas
ter; and alledges generally some personal reason for his peculiar zeal in the causes and that his own honour was concerned in the success of it.
But his letters are not more valuable on any account, than for their being theonlv monuments of that sort, which remain to us from free Rome. They breathe the last words of expiring liberty; a great part of them having been written in the very crisis of its ruin, to rouse up all the virtue that was left in the honest and the brave, to the defence of their country. The advantage which they derive from this circumstance, will easily be observed by comparing them with the epistles of the bell and greatest, who flourished afterwards in Imperial Rome. Pliny's letters are justly admired by men of taste: they shew the scholar, the wit, the sine gentleman ; yet we cannot but observe a poverty and barrenness through the whole, that betrays the awe of a master. All his stories and reflections terminate in private life; there is nothing important in politics; no great affairs explained; no account of the motives of public counsels: he had borne all the fame offices with Cicero, whom in all points he affected to emulate; yet his honours were in effect nominal, conferred by a superior power, and administered by a superior will; and with the old titles of consul and proconsul, we want still the statesman ,the politician,and the magistrate. In his provincial command, where Cicero governed all things with supreme authority, and had kings attendant on his orders, Pliny durst not venture to repair a hath, or to punish a fugitive flaw, or incorporate a company of masons, till he had first consulted and obtained the leave of Trajan.
His historical works are all lost: the Commentaries of his Consulship in Greek} the History of his own Affairs, to his return from exile, in Latin verse ; and his Anecdotes j as well as the pieces that he published on Natural History, of which Pliny quotes one upon the Wonders of Nature, and another on Perfumes, He was meditating likewise a general Histor/ of Rome, to which he was frequently urged by his friends, as the only man capable of adding that glory also to his country, of excelling the Greeks in a species of writing, which of all others was at that time the least cultivated by the Romans. But he never found leisure to execute so great a task; yet he has
fitetched out a plan of it, which, short Is it is, seems to be the best that can be formed for the design of a perfect history.
"He declares it to be the first and "fundamental law of history, that it "should neither dare to say any thing that "»as false, or fear to say any thing that "was true, nor give any jnst sofpicios ei"ther of favour or disaffection; that in the "relation of things, the writer should ob"serve the order of time, and add also "the description of places: that in all "great and memorable transactions he "should first explain the councils, then "the acts, lastly the events; that in councils he should interpose his own judg"ment, or the merit of them; in the acts, "should relate not only what was done, "but how it was done; in the events "should shew, what share chance, or rash"ness, or prudence had in them; that in "regard to persons, he should describe "nofonly their particular actions, but the "lives and characters of all those who "bear an eminent part in the story; that "he should illustrate the whole in a clear, *' easy, natural stile, flowing with a per"petual smoothness and equability, free ■ from the affectation of points and sen"tences, or the roughness of judicial "pleadings."
We have no remains likewise of his poetry, except some fragments occasionally interspersed through his other writings; yet these, as I have before observed, are sufficient to convince us, that his poetical genius, if it had been cultivated with the fame care, would not have been inferior to his oratoria). The two arts are so nearly allied, that an excellence in the one seems to imply a capacity for the other, the fame qualities being essential to them both; a sprightly fancy, fertile invention, flowing and numerous diction. It was in Cicero s time, that the old rusticity of the Latin muse first began to be polished by the ornaments of dress, and the harmony of numbers; but the height of perfection to which it was carried aster his death by the succeeding generation, as it left no room for a mediocrity in poetry, so it quite of Cicero. For the
make his character ridiculous wherever it lay open to them ; hence flowed that perpetual raillery which subsists to tbts day, on his famous verses:
Odant arm> togae, concfdat laur» linguse,
And two bad lines picked out by the ma-
Tully, most eloquent by far
But poetry was the amusement only, and relief os his other studies; eloquence was his distinguished talent, his sovereign attribute: to this he devoted all the faculties of his soul, aud attained to a degree of perfection in it, that no mortal ever surpassed; so that, as a polite historian observes, Romt had but few orators before him, •whom it could praise; none 'whom it could ae/mire. Demosthenes was the pattern by which he eclipsed the fame of Cicero. 1-or me formed himself; whom he emulated with world always judges »f things by com- such success, as to merit what St. jserotm parison, and because he was not so great a calls that beautiful eloge: Demosthenes has poet as Virgil and Horace, he was decried snatched from thee the glory of being the first: as none at all; especially in the courts of thou from Demosthenes, that of being the only -1 —1—I, Was a '1' the stile
Antony and Augustus, where it was a compliment to the sovereign, and a fashion consequently among their flatterers, to
orator. The genius, the capacity, the stile and manner of them both were much the fame; their eloquence of that great, sublime.
lime, and comprehensive kind, which dignified every subject, and gave it all the force and beauty of which it was capable; it was that roundness ofspeaking, as the ancients call it, where there was nothing either redundant or deficient; nothing either to be added or retrenched: their perfections were in all points so transcendent, and yet so similar, that the critics are not agreed on which side to give the preference. Quintillian indeed, the most judicious of them, has given it on the whole to Cicero; but if, as others have thought, Cicero had not all the nerves, the energy, or, as he himself calls it, the thunder cf Demosthenes, he excelled him in the copiousness and elegance of his diction, the variety of his sentiments, and, above all, in the vivacity of bis n-jit, andsmartness of bis raillery s Demosthenes had nothing jocose or facetious in him; yet, by attempting sometimes to jest, shewed, that the thing itself did not displease, hut did not belong to him: for, as Longinus fays, 1-jbercvcr he affected to be pleasant, he made himself riditulous; and if hi happened to raise a laugh, it <voas chiefly upon himself. Whereas Cicero, from a perpetual fund of wit and ridicule, had the power always to please, when he found himself unable to convince, and could put his judges into good humour, when he had cause to be afraid of their severity; so that, by the opportunity of a •well-timedjoke, he is said to have preserved many of his clients from manifest ruin.
Yet in all this height and fame of his eloquence, there was another set of orators at the fame time in Rome, men of parts and learning, and of the first quality; who, while they acknowledged the superiority of his genius, yet censured his diction, as not truly attic or classical; some calling it loose and languid, others timid and exuberant. These men affected a minute and fastidious correctness, pointed sentences, sliort and concise periods, without a syllable to spare in them, as if the perfection of oratory confined in a frugality cf words, and in crowding our sentiments into the narrowest compass. The chief patrons of this taste were M. Bi utus, Licinius, Calvus, Asinius, Pollio, and Sallust, whom Seneca seems to treat as the author of the obscure, abrupt, and sententious stile. Cicero often ridicules these pretenders to attic elegance, as judging of eioqaei.ee not by the force cf the art, tut their ovjn weakness; and resolvijig to decry what they could not attain, ar.d to admire nothing but what they
could imitate; and though their way of speaking, he says, might please the ear cf a critic or a scholar, yet it was not of that sublime and sonorous kind, whose end was not only to instruct, but to move an audience; an eloquence, born for the multitude; whose merit was always shewn by its effects of exciting admiration, and extorting shouts of applause; and on which there never was any difference of judgment between the learned aud the populace.
This was the genuine eloquence that prevailed in Rome as long as Cicero lived: his were the only speeches that were relished or admired by thc.city; while those attic orators, as they called themselves, were generally despised, and frequently deserted by the audience, in the midst of their harangues. But after Cicero's death, and the ruin of the republic, ths Roman oratory funk of course with its liberty, and a false species universally prevailed; when instead os that elate, copious, and flowing eloquence, which launched out freely into every subject, there succeeded a guarded, dry, sententious kind, full of laboured turns and studied points; and proper only for the occasion on which it was cmploved, the making panegyrics and servile compliments to their tyrants. This change cf stile may be observed in all their writers, from Cicero's time to the younger Plinv; who carried it to its utmost perfection, in his celebrated panegyric on the emperor Trajan; which, as it is justly admired for the elegance of diction, the beauty of sentiments, and the delicacy of its compliments, so it is become in a manner the standard of sine speaking to modern times, where it is common to hear the pretenders to criticism, descanting on the tedious length and spiritless exuberance of the Ciceronian periods. But the superiority of Cicero's eloquence, as it was acknowledged by the politest age of free Rome, so it has received the most authentic confirmation that the nature of things can admit, from the concurrent fense os na-< tions; which neglecting the productions of his rivals and contemporaries, have preserved to us his inestimable remains, as a specimen cf the most perfect manner of speaking, to which the language of mortals can be exalted: so that, ai Q/intilian declared of him even *i. C-y. t...lv a»c, he h i- acqu<nd such tr.xc ■*.:.' frity, that Ciceio is not
much the nai.ie cf:: - - - "■ e