Page images

XXV. Expectation prepareth applause with the weak, and prejudice

with the stronger judgment. The fashion of commending our friends' abilities before they come to trial, sometimes takes good effect with the common sort, who, building their belief on authority, strive to follow the conceit of their betters; but usually amongst men of independent judgments, this bespeaking of opinion, breeds a purpose of stricter examination; and if the report be answered, procures only a bare acknowledgment; whereas if nothing be proclaimed or promised, they are perhaps content to signify their own skill in testifying another's desert: otherwise great wits, jealous of their credit, are ready to suppress worth in others, to the advancing of their own, and (if more ingenuous) no farther just, than to forbear detraction ; at the best rather disposed to give praise upon their own accord, than to make payment upon demand or challenge.

Sir H. Wotton.

XXVI. The active man riseth not so well by his strength, as the

expert by his stirrop. THEY that climb towards preferment or greatness by their own virtue, get up with much ado and very slowly; whereas such as are raised by other means, usually ascend lightly and appear more happy in their sudden advancements, sometimes by the only strength of those who stand above, exercising their power in their dependants commonly by subordinate helps and assistance, which young men happily obtain from the commendations of friends, old men often compass by the credit of their wealth, who have a great advantage in that they

are best able to purchase, and likely soonest to leave the room.

Sir H. Wotton.

XXVII. Felicity shews the ground where industry builds a fortune.

ARCHIMEDES the great engineer (who in defending Syracuse against Marcellus, shewed wonderful experiments of his extraordinary skill,) was bold to say, That he would remove the world out of his place, if he had elsewhere to set his foot. And truly I believe so far, that otherwise he could not do it: I am sure, so much is evident in the architecture of fortunes; in the raising of which the best art or endeavour is able to do nothing, if it have not where to lay the first stone; for it is possible with the like skill to raise a frame when we have matter; but not to create something out of nothing: the first being the ordinary effect of industry, this only of divine power. Indeed, many from very mean beginnings have aspired to very eminent place, and we usually ascribe it to their own worth, which no doubt in some is great; yet as in religion we are bound to believe, so in truth the best of them will confess, that the first advantage was reached out merely by a divine hand, which also no doubt, did always assist their after endeavours. Some have the felicity to be born heirs to good estates, others to be made so beyond their hopes. Marriage (besides the good which oftentimes it confers directly) collaterally sometimes helps to offices, sometimes to benefices, sometimes to dignities. Many rise by relation and dependance, it being a happy step to some, to have fallen on a fortunate master, to some on a foolish, to some (few) on a good. There are divers other

means, of which, as of these, I am not so fit to speak, but truly considered, they are all out of our own power, which he that presumeth most, cannot promise himself; and he that expects least, sometimes attains.

Sir H. Wotton.


Marie Antoinette. It is now sixteen or seventeen years since I saw the queen of France, then the dauphiness, at Versailles; and surely never lighted on this orb, which she hardly seemed to touch, a more delightful vision, I saw her just above the horizon, decorating and cheering the elevated sphere she just began to move in,-glittering like the morningstar, full of life, and splendour, and joy. Oh! what a revolution! and what an heart must I have, to contemplate without emotion that elevation and that fall ! Little did I dream when she added titles of veneration to these of enthusiastic, distant, respectful love, that she should ever be obliged to carry the sharp antidote against disgrace concealed in that bosom; little did I dream that I should have lived to see such disasters fallen

upon her in a nation of gallant men, in a nation of men of honour and of cavaliers. I thought ten thousand swords must have leaped from their scabbards to avenge even a look that threatened her with insult. But the age of chivalry is gone. That of sophisters, economists, and calculators, has succeeded; and the glory of Europe is extinguished for ever. Never, never more, shall we behold that generous loyalty to rank and sex, that proud submission, that dignified obedience, that subordination of the heart, which kept alive, even in servitude itself, the spirit of an exalted freedom. The unbought grace of life, the cheap defence of nations, the nurse of manly sentiment and heroic enterprise is gone! It is gone, that sensibility of principle, that chastity of honour, which felt a stain like a wound, which inspired courage whilst it mitigated ferocity, which ennobled whatever it touched, and under which vice itself lost half its evil, by losing all its grossness.

Burke, XXIX. On the promontory of Misenus is yet standing the mansion of Cornelia, mother of the Gracchi; and, whether from reverence of her virtues and exalted name, or that the Gods preserve it as a monument of womanhood, its exterior is yet unchanged. Here she resided many years, and never would be induced to revisit Rome after the murder of her younger son. She cultivated a variety of flowers, and naturalised several plants, and brought together trees from vale and mountain, trees unproductive of fruit, but affording her in their superintendence and management, a tranquil and expectant pleasure. We read that the Babylonians and Persians were

. formerly much addicted to similar places of recreation. I have no knowledge in these matters; and the first time I went thither I asked many questions of the gardener's boy, a child about nine years old. He thought me still more ignorant than I was, and said among other such remarks, “I do not know what they call this plant at Rome, or whether they have it there; but it is among the commonest here, beautiful as it is, and we call it cytisus." “ Thank you, child !” said I, smiling; and pointing towards two cypresses, "pray, what do you call those high and gloomy trees, at the extremity of the avenue, just above the precipice?” “ Others, like them,”

replied he, "are called cypresses; but these, I know not why, have always been called Tiberius and Caius.”

XXX Fiesco's exhortations to the Conspirators.. WHILE their minds were in this state of suspense and agitation, Fiesco appeared. With a look full of alacrity and confidence, he addressed himself to the persons of chief distinction, telling them, that they were not now called to partake of the pleasure of an entertainment, but to join in a deed of valour, which would lead them to liberty and immortal renown. He set before their eyes the exorbitant as well as intolerable authority of the elder Doria, which the ambition of Giannetino, and the partiality of the Emperor to a family more devoted to him than to their country, was about to enlarge and to render perpetual. This unrighteous domination, continued he, you have it now in your power to subvert, and to establish the freedom of your country on a firm basis. The tyrants must be cut off. I have taken the most effectual measures for this purpose. My associates are numerous. I can depend on allies and protectors if necessary. Happily the tyrants are as secure as I have been provident. Their insolent contempt of their countrymen has banished the suspicion and timidity which usually render the guilty quick-sighted to discern, as well as sagacious to guard against the vengeance which they deserve. They will now feel the blow, before they suspect any hostile hand to be nigh. Let us then sally forth, that we may deliver our country by one generous effort, almost unaccompanied with danger, and certain of success.


« PreviousContinue »