Page images
PDF
EPUB

36. Titus after entering the ruins of the city, and admiring the impregnable strength of the towers, declared that he indeed was the leader of the army, but God was the author of the victory. He commanded his soldiers, wearied with slaughter, 'to cease from carnage, except where any still chanced to resist: that the leaders, concealed in the subterraneous passages, should be sought after: that the youths distinguished by their beauty and stature, should be reserved for his triumph: the more advanced in years be sent into Egypt to the mines. A vast number also were selected to perish in the theatres by the sword and wild beasts: all under seventeen were sold by auction. It is a current report among the Jews that in this siege ninety-seven thousand men were taken prisoners : that eleven hundred thousand fell.—Nothing remained of the city, except three towers left as a memorial of victory: at the same time part of the western wall was preserved, to which a garrison was assigned : and Terentius Rufus was appointed governor. Every thing else was overturned, and polluted by the plough.

[Sidney Sussex College, 1831.]

37. LET us compare the pains of the sensual, with those of the virtuous, and see which are heavier in the balance. It may seem strange, at the first view, that the men of pleasure should be advised to change their course, because they lead a painful life. Yet when we see them so active and vigilant in quest of delight; under so many disquiets, and the sport of such various passions ; let them answer, as they can, if the pains they undergo do not outweigh their enjoyments. The infidelities on the one part between the two sexes, and the caprices on the other, the debasement of reason, the

[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed]

correspondeth to the body, the other to the soul of man, have a concurrence or near sequence in time.

[Corpus Christi College, 1831.]

39. He belonged to those thin and pale men, as Cæsar names them, who sleep not in the night, and who think too much; before whom, the most fearless of all hearts has shaken. The quiet peacefulness of a face, always the same, hid a busy fiery soul, which stirred not even the veil behind which it worked, and was equally inaccessible to cunning or love; and a manifold, formidable, never tiring mind, sufficiently soft and yielding momentarily to melt into every form, but sufficiently proved to lose itself in none, and strong enough to bear every change of fortune. None was a greater master than he in seeing through mankind, and in winning on hearts ; not that he let his lips, after the manner of the court, confess a bondage to which the proud heart gave the lie; but because he was neither covetous nor extravagant in the marks of his favour and esteem, and by a prudent economy in those means through which one binds men, he multiplied his real store of them. Did his mind bear slowly? so were its fruits perfect; did his resolve ripen late ? so was it firmly and unshakeably fulfilled. The plan to which he once had paid homage as the first, no resistance would tire, no chances destroy; for they had all stood before his soul, before they really took place. As much as his mind was raised above terror and joy, so much was it subjected to fear; but his fear was there earlier than the danger, and in the tumult he was tranquil, because he had trembled when at rest.

[St John's College Scholarships, 1831.]

40. THE Athenians pretended to the first invention of agriculture and of laws; and always valued themselves extremely on the benefit thereby procured to the whole race of mankind.

They also boasted, and with reason, of their warlike enterprizes; particularly against those innumerable fleets and armies of Persians, which invaded Greece during the reigns of Darius and Xerxes. But though there be no comparison, in point of utility, between these peaceful and military honours; yet we find, that the orators, who have writ such elaborate panegyrics on that famous city, have chiefly triumphed in displaying the warlike achievements. Lysias, Thucydides, Plato, and Isocrates discover, all of them, the same partiality; which, though condemned by calm reason and reflection, appears so natural in the mind of man.

It is observable, that the great charm of poetry consists in lively pictures of the sublime passions, magnanimity, courage, disdain of fortune; or those of the tender affections, love and friendship; which warm the heart, and diffuse over it similar sentiments and emotions. And though all kinds of passion, even the most disagreeable, such as grief and anger, are observed, when excited by poetry, to convey a satisfaction, from a mechanism of nature, not easy to be explained: yet those more elevated or softer affections have a peculiar influence, and please from more than one cause or principle. Not to mention, that they alone interest us in the fortune of the persons represented, or communicate any esteem and affection for their character.

And can it possibly be doubted, that this talent itself of poets, to move the passions, this pathetic and sublime of sentiment, is a very considerable merit; and being enhanced by its extreme rarity, may exalt the person possessed of it, above every character of the age in which he lives? The prudence, address, steadiness, and benign government of Augustus, adorned with all the splendour of his noble birth and imperial crown, render him but an unequal competitor for fame with Virgil, who lays nothing into the opposite scale but the divine beauties of his poetical genius. [Davies Scholarship, 1832.]

41. But Tully's own testimony is produced against him, wherein he willingly yields the glory of philosophy to many others above himself. His words are, Philosophandi scientiam concedens multis, quod est oratoris proprium, apte, distincte, ornateque dicere, quoniam in eo studio ætatem consumpsi, si id mihi assumo, videor id meo jure quodammodo vindicare.' So he in the beginning of his Offices. If the meaning of your critics be, only to shew that his skill in oratory was greater than in philosophy, that, I believe, is perfectly agreeable with his design in these words, nor shall I much dispute it with them. But what then? Will they therefore infer that his performances, even in philosophy, are despicable? Your antagonist himself is too ingenuous and modest, and too skilful too, to say any thing that may seem very disparaging to his very philosophical writings. His consciousness how little reason he had to do so makes him so various and inconstant in his censures. Nor could he think so if he were of Cicero's mind in this passage, and had not harder thoughts of him, than Cicero had of himself. Not to take advantage of Cicero's modesty in his own case, his whole design seems to be no more than to acknowledge his skill in philosophy inferior to what he pretended to in that which he professed, and which he had made the principal study of his

« PreviousContinue »