Page images
PDF
EPUB

1

destroying. Fidelity to opinions and to friends seems to him mere dulness and wrongheadedness. Politics he regards, not as a science of which the object is the happiness of mankind, but as an exciting game of mixed chance and skill, at which a dexterous and lucky player may win an estate, a coronet, perhaps a crown, and at which one rash move may lead to the loss of fortune and of life. Ambition, which, in good times and in good minds, is half a virtue, now, disjointed from every elevated and philanthropic sentiment, becomes a selfish cupidity scarcely less ignoble than avarice.

Macaulay.

XXXIX.

Cicero. But it was in the endurance of calamity, rather than the defiance of danger that the courage of Cicero was deficient. The Orator, whose genius lay in the arts of peace and persuasion, exhibited on more than one occasion a martial spirit worthy of other habits and a ruder training

In the contest with Catilina he displayed all the moral confidence of a veteran general: in the struggle with Antonius he threw himself without reserve into a position where there was no alternative but to conquer or to perish. In the earlier conflict he had still his fame to acquire, his proud ascendancy to establish; and the love of praise and glory inspired him with the audacity which makes and justifies its own success. But in the latter, he courted danger for the sake of retaining the fame he so dearly prized. He had once saved his country, and he could not endure that it should be said he had ever deserted it. He loved his country; but it

was for his own honour, which he could preserve, rather than for his country's freedom, which he despaired of, that he returned to his post, when escape was still possible. He might have remained silent, but he opened the floodgates of his eloquence. When indeed he had once launched himself on the torrent, he lost all selfcommand; he could neither retrace nor moderate his career; he saw the rocks before him, but he dashed himself headlong against them.

C. Merivale.

XL.

Charles the fifth, his resignation of his Dominions.

CHARLES then rose from his seat; and leaning on the shoulder of the prince of Orange, because he was unable to stand without support, he addressed himself to the audience, and from a paper which he held in his hand, in order to assist his memory, he recounted, with dignity, but without ostentation, all the great things which he had undertaken and performed since the commencement of his administration. He observed, that from the seventeenth year of his age he had dedicated all his thoughts and attention to public objects, reserving no portion of his time for the indulgence of his ease, and very little for the enjoyment of private pleasure; that, either in a pacific or hostile manner, he had visited Germany nine times, Spain six times, France four times, Italy seven times, the Low Countries ten times, England twice, Africa as often, and had made eleven voyages by sea; that, while his health permitted him to discharge his duty, and the vigour of his constitution was equal, in any degree, to the arduous office of governing such extensive dominions, he had never shunned labour, nor repined under fatigue; that now, when his health was broken, and his vigour exhausted by the rage of an incurable distemper, his growing infirmities admonished him to retire: nor was he so fond of reigning, as to retain the sceptre in an impotent hand, which was no longer able to protect his subjects, or to secure to them the happiness which he wished they should enjoy; that instead of a sovereign, worn out with diseases, and scarcely half alive, he gave them one in the prime of life, accustomed already to govern, and who added to the vigour of youth all the attention and sagacity of maturer years; that if, during the course of a long administration, he had committed any material error in government, or if, under the pressure of so many and great affairs, and amidst the attention which he had been obliged to give to them, he had either neglected or injured any of his subjects, he now implored their forgiveness; that, for his part, he should ever retain a grateful sense of their fidelity and attachment, and would carry the remembrance of it along with him to the place of his retreat, as his sweetest consolation, as well as the best reward for all his services, and in his last prayers to Almighty God would pour forth his most earnest petitions for their welfare.

Robertson.

PASSAGES FOR TRANSLATION

Into Greek Prose.

« PreviousContinue »