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How deeply the habit of friendship had imbued the Roman mind by the time of Cicero is well illustrated both by his writings and his life. His essay on friendship has no parallel in our literature; nor are the sentiments in it merely fine sayings, they are the transcript of his own experience. Statesmen, like kings, are often without a friend; but there is nothing in the lives of modern politicians like the firm and lasting friendship of Cicero and Atticus. Well has a modern writer remarked in his Life of Cicero: “In the whole history of literature I know of no case where friend has communicated with friend for a long series of years, nay for a whole life-time, on terms of such absolute confidence as these two distinguished men. It is delightful to contemplate the pure and disinterested course of such a friendship—a calm haven of happiness in the midst of a stormy sea of anxiety and strife.”

J. C. Shairy


The friendship of Maecenas was the greatest boon that could have been conferred on Horace, while the dignity which Horace maintained in his relations with Maecenas was the more remarkable, because dignity was not a virtue of his age and because Maecenas does not appear to have been one of those happy natures with whom it is easy to live and difficult to quarrel. It is a rare and interesting sight to observe ability and real power despising the insignia of office; it is as pleasant and almost as rare to meet an honest, manly, cultured spirit in which genial friendliness, sound common-sense and refined self-respect are equally fused and mingled. Still seldomer do we witness a warm and manly friendship between two representatives of rare types—a friendship equally creditable to both, that grew up naturally and was only interrupted by death, which, strangely fulfilling a half playful prophecy of the poet, claimed the two victims within one year.



To die of old age is a death rare, extraordinary and singular, and therefore so much less natural than any other way; 'tis the last and extremest sort of dying: and the more remote, the less to be hoped for. It is indeed the bourn beyond which we are not to pass

and which the law of nature has set as a limit not to be exceeded; but it is withal a privilege she is rarely seen to give us to last till then. 'Tis a lease she only signs by particular favor and it may be to one only in the space of two or three ages and then with a pass to boot, to carry him through all the difficulties she has strewed in the way of this long career. And therefore my opinion is that when once forty years, we should consider it as an age to which very few arrive.





Of all the great human actions I have ever heard or read of, I have observed, both in former ages and our own, more were performed before the age of thirty than

, after; and this ofttimes in the very lives of the same

May I not confidently instance in those of Hannibal and his great concurrent Scipio? The better half of their lives they lived upon the glory they had acquired in their youth. 'Tis possible that with those who make the best use of their time, knowledge and experience may increase with their years; but vivacity, promptitude, steadiness, and other pieces of us of much greater importance and much more essentially our own, languish and decay. For the frailty of life considered and to how many ordinary and natural rocks it is exposed, one ought not to give up so large a portion of it to childhood, idleness and apprenticeship.


We may hardly attach any serious importance to the assertion put by Cicero in his De Senectute into the mouth of Cato, that the old enjoy the respect and reverence paid to them. Perhaps they used to enjoy it in his time. But do the more shrewd and cultivated of our own day take any like enjoyment in the no doubt sincere regard which is paid to their experience ? Men are much more sensible of their shortcomings than they used to be and much less easily satisfied with their achievements; we may suspect that even Cato himself must have been sensible of rather mixed feelings when men "gave place and rose up” before him to do. him honor. Very likely he felt that they were quite right in doing him honor, that he had in some respects raised the ideal of his day; but unless he was a poorer creature than we have any reason to believe he must have felt that he had fallen far short of what he would willingly have been.

Spectator, No. 3,187

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