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24. NOBODY admires more than I do the historical merit of Livy; the majestic flow of his narrative, in which events follow each other with rapidity, yet without hurry or confusion; and the continual beauty and energy of his style, which transports his readers from their closets to the scene of action. But here we have to do not with the orator, but with the witness. Considered in this view, Livy appears merely as a man of letters, covered with the dust of his library, little acquainted with the art of war, careless in point of geography, and who lived two centuries after Hannibal's expedition.
In the whole of his recital, we may perceive rather a romantic picture, calculated to please the fancy, than a faithful and judicious history, capable of satisfying the understanding. The God who appeared to the Carthaginian general, the mountains accessible to him alone, the vinegar with which he split the rocks, are fables which Livy relates without criticism, as without suspicion. We seem to read Homer describing the exploits of Achilles. In Polybius, on the other hand, we meet with nothing but unadorned simplicity and plain reason. A justness of thinking, rare in his age and country, united with a sterility of fancy still more rare, made him prefer the truth, which he thoroughly knew, to ornaments which he was perhaps more inclined to despise, because he felt himself incapable of attaining them.
[Queens' College Scholarships, 1830.]
25. It is another distinguishing property of Divine Praise, that it enlargeth the powers and capacities of our souls; turning them from little and low things, upon their greatest and noblest objects, the Divine Nature; and employing them in the discovery and admiration of those several perfections that adorn it. We see, what difference there is between man and man; such, as there is hardly greater between man and beast: and this proceeds chiefly from the different sphere of thought which they act in, and the different objects they converse with. The mind is essentially the same in the peasant and the prince; the forces of it naturally equal in the untaught man, and the philosopher; only the one of these is busied in mean affairs, and within narrower bounds, the other exercises himself in things of weight and moment; and this it is that puts the wide distance between them. Noble objects are to the mind, what the sun-beams are to a bud or flower; they open and unfold, as it were, the leaves of it; put it upon exerting and spreading itself every way; and call forth all those powers, that lie hid and locked up in it. The praise and admiration of God, therefore, brings this advantage along with it, that it sets our faculties upon their full stretch, and improves them to all the degrees of perfection, of which they are capable.
[Trinity College, 1830.]
26. The man, who is fitted out by nature and sent into the world with great abilities, is capable of doing great good or mischief in it. How great then is the duty of parents and instructors to infuse into the untainted youth early notices of justice and honour, that so the possible advantages of good parts may not take an evil turn, nor be perverted to base and unworthy purposes. It is the business of Religion and Philosophy not to extinguish our passions, but to regulate and direct them to good and well-chosen objects: when these have pointed out to us which course we may lawfully steer, it is no harm to spread all our sail : if the storms and tempests of adversity should rise upon us, and not suffer us to make the haven, where we would be; it will prove no small consolation to reflect, that we have neither mistaken our course, nor fallen into calamities of our own procuring.
(Trinity College Scholarships, 1830.]
27. When a man is thoroughly persuaded that he ought neither to admire, wish for, or pursue any thing but what is exactly his duty, it is not in the power of seasons, persons, or accidents, to diminish his value. He only is a great man who can neglect the applause of the multitude, and enjoy himself independent of its favour. This is indeed an arduous task: but it should comfort a glorious spirit that it is the highest step to which human nature can arrive. Triumph, applause, acclamation, are dear to the mind of man; but it is still a more exquisite delight to say to yourself, you have done well, than to hear the whole human race pronounce you glorious, except you yourself can join with them in your own reflections. A mind thus equal and uniform, may be deserted by little fashionable admirers and followers, but will ever be had in reverence by souls like itself. The branches of the oak endure all the seasons of the year, though its leaves fall off in autumn; and these too will be restored with the returning spring. [King's College, 1830.]
28. SELF-SATISFACTION, at least in some degree, is an advantage which equally attends the fool and the wise man : but it is the only one; nor is there any
other circumstance in the conduct of life, where they are upon an equal footing. Business, books, conversation; for all of these, a fool is totally incapacitated; and except condemned by his station to the coarsest drudgery, remains a useless burthen upon the earth. Accordingly, it is found, that men are extremely jealous of their character in this particular; and many instances are seen of profligacy and treachery, the most avowed and unreserved; none of bearing patiently the imputation of ignorance and stupidity. Dicæarchus the Macedonian general, who, as Polybius tells us, openly erected one altar to impiety, another to injustice, in order to bid defiance to mankind: even he, I am well assured, would have started at the epithet of fool, and have meditated revenge for so injurious an appellation. Except the affection of parents, the strongest and most indissoluble bond in nature, no connexion has strength sufficient to support the disgust arising from this character. Love itself, which can subsist under treachery, ingratitude, malice, and infidelity, is immediately extinguished by it, when perceived and acknowledged; nor are deformity and old age more fatal to the dominion of that passion. So dreadful are the ideas of an utter incapacity for any purpose or undertaking, and of continued error and misconduct in life!
When it is asked, whether a quick or a slow apprehension be most valuable ? Whether one, that, at first view, penetrates far into a subject, but can perform nothing upon study; or a contrary character, which must work out every thing by dint of application? Whether a clear head or a copious invention? Whether a profound genius or a sure judgment ? In short, what character, or peculiar turn of understanding is more excellent than another? It is evident that we can answer none of these questions, without considering which of those qualities capacitates a man best for the world, and carries him farthest in any undertaking.
If refined sense and exalted sense be not so useful as
common sense, their rarity, their novelty, and the nobleness of their objects, make some compensation, and render them the admiration of mankind : as gold, though less serviceable than iron, acquires, from its scarcity, a value which is much superior.
[Battie's Scholarship, 1831.]
29. Just as he was about to leave the harbour, where everything had succeeded to his wish, that he might join his victorious companions, he heard some extraordinary uproar on board the Admiral's galley : alarmed at the noise, and fearing that the slaves might break their chains and overpower his associates, he ran thither. But the plank which reached from the shore to the vessel happening to overturn, he fell into the sea, while he hurried forward too precipitately. Being loaded with heavy armour, he sunk to the bottom, and perished in the very moment when he must have taken full possession of everything that his ambitious heart could desire. Verrina was the first who discovered this fatal accident, and foreseeing at once all its consequences, concealed it with the utmost industry from every one but a few leaders of the conspiracy.
[Classical Tripos, 1831.)
30. THE matter of seditions is of two kinds, much poverty and much discontentment. It is certain, so many overthrown estates, so many votes for troubles. And if this poverty and broken estate in the better sort be joined with a want and necessity in the mean people, the danger is imminent and great. For the rebellions of the belly are the worst. As for discontentments, they are in the politic body like to humours in the natural,