Imagens da página

plausible, rather than great ; specious , rather than penetrating; and his views of politics but narrow; for his chief instrument of governing was dissimulation ; yet he had not always the art to conceal his real sentiments. As he was a better soldier than a statesman, so what he gained in the camp he usually lost in the city ; and though adored when abroad , was often affronted and mortified at home; 'till the imprudent opposition of the senate .drove him to that alliance with Crassus and Cæsar, which proved fatal both to himself and the republic. He took in these two , not as the partners , but the ministers rather of his power; that by giving them some share with him, he might make his own authority uncontroulable. He had no reason to apprehend that they could ever prove his rivals; since neither of them had


credit or character of that kind, which alone could raise them above the laws; a superior fame and experience in war, with the militia of the empire at their devotion : all this was purely his own ; 'till by cherishing Cæsar , and throwing into his hands, the only thing which he wanted, arms, and military command : he made him at last too strong for himself, and never began to fear him, 'till it was too late. Cicero warmly dissuaded both his union, and his breach with Cæsar; and after the rupture , as warmly still, the thought of giving him battle; if any of these counsels had been followed , Pompey had preserved his life and honour, and the republic its liberty. But he was urged to his fate by a natural superstition, and attention to those vain auguries ; with which he was flattered by all the Haruspices: he had seen the same temper in Marius and Sylla , and observed the happy effects of it: hut they assumed it only out of policy, he out of principle. They used it to animate their soldiers , when they had found a probable opportunity of fighting; but he , against all prudence and probability, was encouraged by it to fight to his own ruin. He saw all his mistakes, at last, when it was out of his power to correct them; and in his wretched slighi from Pharsalia , was forced to confess, that he had trusted too much to his hopes; and that Cicero had judged better and seen farther into things than he.

The resolution of seeking refuge in Egypt, finished the sad catastrophe of this great man. The father of the reigning prince had


[ocr errors]

been highly obliged to him for his protection at Rome, and restoration to his kingdom and the son had sent a considerable fleet to his assistance in the present war : but in this ruin of his fortunes what gratitude was there to be expected from a court governed by eunuchs and mercenary Greeks ? all whose politics turned not on the honour of the king ; but the establishment of their own power, which was likely to be ecclipsed by the admission of Pompey. How happy had it been for him to have died in that sickness, when all Italy was putting up vows and prayers for his safety! Or if he had fallen by the chance of war on the plains of Pharsalia , in the defense of his country's liberty, he had died still glorious , though unfortunate : but, as if he had been reserved for an example of the instability of human greatness , he, who a few days before commanded kings and consuls , and all the noblest of Rome , was sentenced to die by a council of slaves

; murdered by a base deserter: cast out naked and headless on the Egyptian strand; and when the whole earth, as Velleius


had scarce been sufficient for his victories, could not find a spot upon it at last for a grave.


His body was burnt on the shore by one of his freed-men with the planks of an old fishing boat; and his ashes being conveyed to Rome, were deposited privately by his wise Cornelia , in a vault of his Alban Villa. The Egyptians , however, raised a monument to him on the place ; and adorned it with figures of brass , which being defaced afterwards by time, and buried almost in sand and rubbish , was sought out, and restored by the emperor Hadrian.



CÆSAR was endowed with every great and noble quality, that could exalt human nature, and give a man the ascendant in society : formed to excel in peace , as well as war ; provident in counsel ; fearless in action ; and executing what he had resolved with an amazing celerity : generous beyond

to his friends ; placable to his enemies; and for parts, learning, eloquence, , scarce inferior to any man. His orations were admired for two qualities, which are


seldom found together, strength and elegance. Cicero ranks him among the greatest orators that Rome ever bred : and Quintilian says, that he spoke with the same force with which he fought; and if he had devoted himself to the bar, would have been the only man capable of rivaling Cicero. Nor was he a master only of the politer arts ; but conversant also with the most abstruse and critical parts of learning; and among other works , which he published, addressed two books to Cicero , on the analogy of language, or the art of speaking and writing correctly. He was a most liberal patron of wit and learning , wheresoever they were found ; and out of his love of those talents , would readily pardon those , who had employed them against himself ; rightly judging, that by making such men his friends , he should draw praises from the same fountain , from which he had been aspersed. His capital passions were ambition, and love of pleasure ; which he indulged in their turn to the greatest excess; yet the first was always predominant; to whichi he could easily sacrifice all the charms of the second, and draw pleasure even from toils and dangers, when they ministered to

« AnteriorContinuar »