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selves of their own accord. Its essence is not evidently so commodious, that a man may not without a miracle refuse it: I find it a very hard thing to undergo misfortunes; but to be content with a competent measure of fortune, and to avoid greatness, I think a very easy matter,
Tis, methinks, a virtue to which I, who am none of the wisest, could, without any great endeavour, arrive. What, then, is to be expected from them that would yet put into consideration the glory attending this refusal, wherein there may lurk worse ambition than even in the desire itself and fruition of greatness ? Forasmuch as ambition never comports itself better according to itself than when it proceeds hy obscure and unfrequented ways, I incite my courage to patience, but I rein it as much as I can towards desire. I have as much to wish for as another, and allow my wishes as much liberty and indiscretion : but yet it never befell me to wish for either empire or royalty, for the eminency of those high and commanding fortunes. I do not aim that way; I love myself too well. When I think to grow greater, 'tis but very moderately, and by a compelled and timorous advancement, such as is proper for me; in resolution, in prudence, in health, in beauty, and even in riches too. But this supreme reputation, and this mighty authority, oppress my imagination; and, quite contrary to some others, I should, peradventure, rather choose to be the second or third in Perigourd, than the first at Paris—at least, without lying, the third, than the first at Paris. I would neither dispute, a miserable unknown, with a nobleman's porter, nor make crowds open in adoration as I pass. I am trained up to a moderate condition, as well by my choice as fortune; and have made it appear, in the whole conduct of my life and enterprises, that I have rather avoided, than otherwise, the climbing above the degree of fortune wherein God has placed me by my birth : all natural constitution is equally just and easy. My soul is so sneaking and mean, that I measure not good fortune by the height, but by the facility. But, if my heart be not great enough, 'tis open enough to make amends at any one's request freely to lay open its weakness. Should any one put me upon comparing the life of L. Thorius Balbus, a brave man, handsome, learned, healthful, understanding, and abounding in all sorts of conveniences and pleasures, leading a quiet life, and all his own ; his mind well prepared against death, superstition, pains, and other incumbrances of human necessity; dying at last in battle with his sword in his hand, for the defence of his country, on the one part; and on the other part, the life of M. Regulus, so great and high as is known to every one, and his end admirable; the one without name and without dignity, the other exemplary and glorious to wonder: I should doubtless say as Cicero did, could I speak as well as he. But if I was to touch it in my own phrase I should then also say, that the first is as much according to my capacity and desire, which I conform to my capacity, as the second is far beyond it; that I could not approach the last but with veneration, the other I would willingly attain by custom. But let us return to our temporal greatness, from which we are digressed. I disrelish all dominion, whether active or passive. Otanes, one of the seven who had right to pretend to the kingdom of Persia, did as I should willingly have done; which was, that he gave up to his concurrents his right of being promoted to it, either by election or by lot, provided that he and his might live in the empire out of all authority and subjection, those of the ancient laws excepted, and might enjoy all liberty that was not prejudicial to them, as impatient of commanding as of being commanded. The most painful and difficult employment in the world, in my opinion, is worthily to discharge the office of a king. I excuse more of their mistakes than men commonly do, in consideration of the intolerable weight of their function, which does astonish me. 'Tis hard to keep measure in so immeasurable a power. Yet so it is, that it is, to those who are not the bestnatured men, a singular incitement to virtue to be seated in a place where you cannot do the least good that shall not be put upon record; and where the least benefit redounds to so many men; and where your talent of administration, like that of preachers, does principally address itself to the people, no very exact judge, easy to deceive, and easily content. There are few things wherein we can give a sincere judgment, by reason that there are few wherein we have not in some sort a particular interest. Superiority and inferiority, dominion and subjection, are bound to a natural envy and contest, and must necessarily perpetually intrench upon one another. I neither believe the one nor the other touching the rights of the adverse party; let reason, therefore, which is inflexible and without passion, determine. 'Tis not above a month ago that I read over two Scotch authors contending upon this subject; of which, he who stands for the people makes kings to be in a worse condition than a carter; and he who writes for monarchy places him some degrees
above God Almighty in power and sovereignty. Now the inconveniency of greatness, that I have made choice of to consider in this place, upon some occasion that has lately put it into my head, is this : there is not peradventure anything more pleasant in the commerce of men than the trials that we make against one another, out of emulation of honour and valour, whether in the exercises of the body or in those of the mind; wherein the sovereign greatness can have no true part. And in earnest I have often thought, that out of force of respect men have used princes disdainfully and injuriously in that particular. For the thing I was infinitely offended at in my childhood, that they who exercised with me forbore to do their best because they found me unworthy of their utmost endeavour, is what we see happen to them every day, every one finding himself unworthy to contend with them. If we discover that they have the least passion to have the better, there is no one who will not make it his business to give it them, and who will not rather betray his own glory than offend theirs ; and will therein employ so much force only as is necessary to advance their honour. What share have they then in the engagement wherein every one is on their side ? Methinks I see those paladins of ancient times presenting themselves to jousts, with enchanted arms and bodies; Brisson, running against Alexander, purposely missed his blow, and made a fault in his career; Alexander chid him for it, but he ought to have had him whipped. Upon this consideration, Carneades said, that the sons of princes learned nothing right, but to ride the great horse ; by reason that in all their exercises every one bends and yields to them: but a horse, that is neither a flatterer nor a courtier, throws the son of a king with no more remorse than he would do that of a porter. Homer was compelled to consent that Venus, so sweet and delicate as she was, should be wounded at the battle of Troy, thereby to ascribe courage and boldness to her; qualities that cannot possibly be in those who are exempt from danger. The gods are made to be angry, to fear, to run away, to be jealous, to grieve, and to be transported with passions, to honour them with the virtues that amongst us are built upon these imperfections. Who does not participate in the hazard and difficulty, can pretend no interest in the honour and pleasure that are the consequents of hazardous actions. 'Tis pity a man should be so potent that all things must give way to him. Fortune therein sets you too remote from society, and places you in too great a solitude. The easiness and mean facility of making all things bow under you, is an enemy to all sorts of pleasure. This is to slide, not to go; this is to sleep, and not to live. Conceive man accompanied with omnipotency, you throw him into an abyss : he must beg disturbance and opposition as an alms. His being and his good is indigent. Their good qualities are dead and lost; for they are not to be perceived, but by comparison, and we put them out of it: they have little knowledge of the true praise, having their ears deafed with so continual and uniform an approbation. Have they to do with the meanest of all their subjects? they have no means to take any advantage of him, if he say, 'tis because he is my king, he thinks he has said enough to express that he therefore suffered himself to be overcome. This quality stifles and consumes the other true and essential. qualities. They are involved in the royalty, and leave them nothing to recommend themselves withal, but actions that directly concern themselves, and that merely respect the function of their place. 'Tis so much to be a king, that he only is so by being so; the strange lustre that environs him conceals and shrouds him from us; our sight is there repelled and dissipated, being stopped and filled by this prevailing light. The senate awarded the prize of eloquence to Tiberius; he refused it, supposing that, though it had been just, he could derive no advantage from a judgment so partial, and that was so little free to judge. As we give them all advantages of honour, so do we soothe and authorize all their vices and defects, not only by approbation, but by imitation also. Every one of Alexander's followers carried their heads on one side, as he did; and the flatterers of Dionysius run against one another in his presence, stumbled at, and overturned whatever was under foot, to shew that they were as purblind as he. Natural imperfections have sometimes also served to recommend a man to favour. I have seen deafness affected : and, because the master hated his wife, Plutarch has seen his courtiers repudiate theirs, whom they loved : and, which is yet more, uncleanness and all manner of dissolution has been in fashion; as also disloyalty, blasphemies, cruelty, heresy, superstition, irreligion, effeminacy, and worse if worse there be. And by an example yet more dangerous than that of Mithridates' flatterers, who, by how much their master pretended to the honour of a good physician, came to him to have incision and cauteries made in their limbs; for these others suffered the soul, a more
delicate and noble part, to be cauterized. But to end where I begun : the Emperor Adrian, disputing with the Philosopher Favorinnus about the intepretation of some word : Favorinnus soon yielded him the victory; for which his friends rebuking him ; “ You talk simply,” said he, “ would you not have him wiser than I, who commands thirty legions ?” Augustus wrote verses against Asinius Pollio, and I, said Pollio, say nothing, for it is not prudence to write in contest with him who has power to proscribe : and he had reason ; for Dionysius, because he could not equal Philoxenus in poesy, and Plato in discourse, condemned one to the Quarries, and sent the other to be sold for a slave into the island of Ægina.
42.-THE LITERATURE OF THE AGE OF ELIZABETH.
HAZLITT. WILLIAM HAZLITT, one of the most voluminous writers of our times, was born in 1778; he died of cholera in 1830. His father was a Unitarian minister, and he was educated for his father's profession. But he had a determined predilection for the fine arts, and devoted himself for several years to the studies of a painter. There is little doubt that he would have attained considerable excellence in this walk, had his fastidiousness allowed him to have been satisfied with his growing mastery over the difficulties of art. He, however, became a writer, and for a quarter of a century he devoted himself to an unremitting course of literary exertion. His political feelings were strong and almost passionate. He became therefore an object of unceasing attack, and no man was pursued with more virulence by the party writers who supported the Government of the day. His reputation is now established as a vigorous thinker, and an eloquent critic, who in an age of imitation dared to be original.]
The age of Elizabeth was distinguished, beyond, perhaps, any other in our history, by a number of great men, famous in different ways, and whose names have come down to us with unblemished honours, statesmen, warriors, divines, scholars, poets, and philosophers : Raleigh, Drake, Coke, Hooker, and higher and more sounding still, and still more frequent in our mouths, Shakespear, Spenser, Sydney, Bacon, Jonson, Beaumont and Fletcher--men whom fame has eternised in her long and lasting scroll, and who, by their words and acts, were benefactors of their country, and ornaments of human nature. Their attain