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minds in their schemes, they are not less to be valued for their endeavours to give them a right direction, and moderate their too great ardour. The study of history will teach the legislator by what means states have become powerful ; and in the private citizen, they will inculcate the love of liberty and order. The writings of sages point out a private path of virtue ; and show that the best empire is self-government, and that subduing our paflions is the noblest of conquests.
The true spirit of heroism acts by a generous impulse, and wants neither the experience of history, nor the doctrioes of philosophers to direct it. But do not arts and sciences render men effeminate, luxurious and inactive? and can you deny that wit and learning are often made subser. vient to very bad purposes?
I will own that there are some natures fo happily formed they scarcely want the affistance of a master, and the rules of art, to give them force or grace in every thing they do. But these favoured geniuses are few. As learn. ing flourishes only where ease, plenty, and mild government subfilt; in so rich a foil, and under so soft a climate, the weeds of luxury will spring up among the flowers of art : but the spontaneous weeds would grow more rank, if they were allowed the undisturbed poffeffion of the field. Letters keep a frugal, temperate nation from growing ferocious, a rich one from becoming entirely sensual and de. bauched. Every gift of Heaven is fometimes abused ; but good sense and fine talents, by a natural law, gravitate towards virtue. Accidents may drive them out of their proper direction; but such accidents are an alarming omen, and of dire portent to the times. For if virtue cannot keep to her allegiance those men, who in their hearts confess her divine right, and know the value of her laws, on whose fidelity and obedience can the depend ? May such geniuses never descend to Hatter vice, encourage folly, or propagate irreligion ; but exert all their powers in the service of vir. tue, and celebrate the noble choice of those, who, like Her. cules, preferred her to pleasure !
SECTION III. Marcus AURELIUS PhilosoPHUS AND Servius TULLIUS.
An absolute and a limited monarchy compared.
Yes, Marcus, though I own you to have been the first of mankind in virtue and goodness ; though while you gove erned, philosophy fat on the throne, and diffused the be. vign influences of her administration over the whole Roman empire, yet as a king, I might, perhaps, pretend to a merit even superior to yours.
That philosophy you ascribe to me has taught me to feel my own defects, and to venerate the virtues of other
Tell me, therefore, in what consisted the superiority of your merit, as a king.
It consisted in this, that I gave my people freedom. I diminilhed, i limited the kingly power, when it was placed in
my hands. I need not tell you, that the plan of governe ment instituted by me was adopted by the Romans, when they had driven out Tarquin, the destroyer of their liberty ; and gave its form to that republic, composed of a due mixture of the regal, aristocratical and democratical powers, the (trength and wisdom of which fubdued the world. Thus all the glory of that great people, who for many ages excelled the rest of mankind, in the arts of policy, belongs originally to me.
MARCUS AURELIUS. There is much truth in what you say. But would not the Romans have done better, if, after the expulsion of Tarquin, they had velted the regal power in a limited monarch, instead of placing it in two annual elective magistrates, with the title of consuls ? This was a great deviation from your plan of government, and I think an unwise one. For a divided royalty is a folecism, and absurdity in politics. Nor was the regal power, committed to the administration of consuls, continued in their hands long enough, to enable them to finish any act of great moment. From hence arose a necessity of prolonging their commands beyond the legal term ; of shortening the interval prescribed by the laws between the elections to those officers; and of granting extraordinary commissions and powers, by all which the repub. lic was in the end destroyed.
The revolution which ensued upon the death of Lucretia was made with so much anger, that it is no wonder the Romans, abolished in their fury the name of king, and de. fired to weaken a power, the exercise of which had been so grievous ; though the doing of this was attended with all the inconveniences you have justly observed. But if acted too violently in reforming abuses, philofophy might have wisely corrected that error. Marcus Aurelius might have new-modelled the constitution of Rome. He might have made it a limited monarchy, leaving to the emperors all the power that was necessary to govern a wide ex. tended empire, and to the senate and people all the liberty that could be corsistent with order and obedience to government; a liberty purged of faction, and guarded against anarchy.
I should have been happy indeed, if it had been in my power to do such good to my country,
But Heaven will not force its blellings on men, who by their vices are become incapable of receiving them. Liberty, like power, is only good for those who poflets it, when it is under the constant direction of virtue. No laws can have force enough to hinder it from degenerating into faction and an. archy, where the morals of a nation are depraved ; and continued habits of vice will eradicate the very love out of the hearts of a people. A Marcus Brutus, in my time, could not have drawn to his standard a single legion of Romans. But further, it is certain that the fpirit of liberty is abfolutely incompatible with the spirit of conquelt. To keep great conquered nations in subjection and obedience, great standing armies are necessary. The gen.' erals of those armies will not long remain lubjects : and whoever acquires dominion by the sword, mult rule by the fword. It he does not destroy liberty, liberty will destroy him.
Do you then justify Auguftus for the change he made in the Roman government ?
I do not ; for Augustus had no lawful authority to make that change. His power was usurpation and breach of trust, But the government which he seized with a vie olent hand, came to me by a lawful and established rule of fucceflion.
Can any length of establishment make despotism law. ful? Is not liberty an inherent, inalienable right of mankind ?
They have an inherent right to be governed by laws, not by arbitrary will. But forms of government may, and must be occasionally changed, with the consent of the people. When I reigned over them, the Romans were governed by laws.
Yes, because your moderation, and the precepts of that philosophy in which your youth had been tutored, inclined you to make the laws the rule of your government, and the bounds of your power. But if you had desired to govern otherwise, had they power to restrain you?
They had not: the imperial authority in my time had no limitations.
Rome therefore was in reality as much enslaved under you as under your son ; and you left him the power of lyranniling over it by hereditary right.
I did ;-- and the conclusion of that tyranny was his murder.
SERVIUS TULLIUS. Unhappy father! unhappy king! what a detestable thing is absolute monarchy, when even the virtues of Marcus Aurelius could not hinder it from being destructive to his family, and pernicious to his country, ar.y longer than the period of his own life ! But how happy is that kingdom, in which a limited monarch prelides over a state
so justly poised,* that it guards itself from such evils, and has no need to take refuge in arbitrary power against the dangers of anarchy: which is almost as bad a resource, as it would be for a ship to run itself on a rock, in order to escape from the agitation of a tempest.
LORD LYTTLETON, SECTION IV.
THERON AND ASPAS10.
On the excellence of the Holy Scriptures.
I FEAR my friend suspects me to be somewhat wavering, or defective, in veneration for the Scriptures.
No, Theron, I have a better opinion of your taste and discernment, than to harbour any such suspicion.
The Scriptures are certainly an inexhausible fund of materials, for the most delightful and ennobling discourse and meditation. When we consider the Author of those sacred books, that they came originally from Heaven, were dictated by Divine Wisdom, have the same consummate excellence as the works of creation ; it is really surprising that we are not often searching, by ftudy, by meditation, or converse, into one or other of those important volumes.
ASPASIO. I admire, I must confess, the very language and compo. sition of the Bible. Would you see history in all her fimplicity, and all her force ; most beautifully eafy, yet irresistibly striking? See her, or rather feel her energy, touching the nicest movements of the soul, and triumphing over our passions, in the inimitable narrative of Joseph's life. The representation of Efau's bitter distress; the conversation pieces of Jonathan and his gallant friend ;
[* The young American reader will here be naturally remind. ed of the superior excellence of the Federal Constitution ; which conibines the advantages of the three great forms of government without their inconveniences; it preserves a happy balance 2. mongst them, and contains within itself the power of recurring to first principles, and of rectifying all disorders. ]