« AnteriorContinuar »
e zhaving enjoyed even the reputation of that for which they lost their
a lives, for nobody believed that they had a share in the deed. For er bort neither did those who put them to death, punish them for what they did, stri: but for what they wished to do. On the next day Brutus came down estle and addressed the people, who listened without expressing disapprobaza tion or approbation of what had been done, but they indicated by their con deep silence that they pitied Cæsar and respected Brutus. The Senate, s with a view of making an amnesty and conciliating all parties, decreed ein that Cæsar should be honoured as a god, and that not the smallest
Is thing should be disturbed which he had settled while he was in power; e mere and they distributed among the partisans of Brutus provinces and suit
w able honours, so that all people supposed that affairs were quieted and a tai had been settled in the best way.
But when the will of Cæsar was opened, and it was discovered that se af is he had given to every Roman a handsome present, and they saw the Pupe body, as it was carried through the Forum, disfigured with wounds, the
multitude no longer kept within the bounds of propriety and order, but sest heaping about the corpse benches, lattices and tables, taken from the
Forum, they set fire to it on the spot and burnt it; then taking the Chip flaming pieces of wood they ran to the houses of the conspirators to
fire them, and others ran about the city in all directions seeking for the men to seize and tear them in pieces. But none of the conspirators came in their way, and they were all well protected. One Cinna, however, a friend of Cæsar, happened, as it is said, to have had a strange dream the night before ; for he dreamed that he was invited by Cæsar to sup with him, and when he excused himself, he was dragged along by Cæsar by the hand, against his will and making resistance the while. Now when he heard that the body of Cæsar was burning in the Forum, he got up and went there out of respect, though he was somewhat alarmed at his dream and had a fever on him. One of the multitude who saw Cinna told his name to another who was inquiring of him, and he again told it to a third, and immediately it spread through the crowd, that this man was one of those who had killed Cæsar; and indeed there was one of the conspirators who was named Cinna: and taking this man to be him the people forthwith rushed upon him and tore him in pieces on the spot. It was principally through alarm at this that the partisans of Brutus and Cassius after a few days left the city.
50.-The Strange Contrarieties Discoverable in Human Nature,
PASCAL. [BLAISE PASCAL was characterized by Bayle as one of the sublimest spirits in the world.” He was born in 1623 ; he died in 1662. His genius led him to the strictest inquiries of human reason; his piety. compelled him to the most complete submission of his reasoning faculty to the truths of revelation. Up to his twenty-fifth year he devoted himself to the pursuits of science; thenceforward, to the time of his early death, his mind was dedicated to religious contemplation. His * Pensées' furnish a monument of the elevation and purity of his devotional feeling; his · Lettres Provençales,' in which he assailed the morality of the Jesuits, with a power of logic and of wit which have never been surpassed, show how completely his religion could be separated from the enthusiasm of his temperament, and the ascetic practices of his life. It has been said of him that he knew exactly how to distinguish between the rights of faith and of reason. The passage which we select from his ‘Pensées' is thus noticed by Dr. Arnold : • The necessity' of faith, arising from the absurdity of scepticism on the one hand, and of dogmatism on the other, is shown with great power and eloquence in the first article of the second part of Pascal's · Pensées,' a book of which there is an English translation by no means difficult to meet with.”
Nothing can be more astonishing in the nature of man than the contrarieties which we there observe, with regard to all things. He is made for the knowledge of truth : this is what he most ardently desires, and most eagerly pursues; yet when he endeavours to lay hold on it, he is so dazzled and confounded as never to be secure of actual possession. Hence the two sects of the Pyrrhonians and the dogmatists took their rise ; of which the one would utterly deprive men of all truth, the other would infallibly insure their inquiries after it : but each with reasons so improbable, as only to increase our coufusion and perplexity, while we are guided by no other lights than those which we find in our own bosom.
The principal arguments of the Pyrrhonians, or sceptics, are as follow:- If we accept faith and revelation, we can have no other certainty to the truth of principles, than that we naturally feel and perceive them within ourselves. But now this inward perception is no convictive evidence of their truth; because, since without faith we have no assurance whether we were made by a good God, or by some evil
demon, nay, whether we have not existed from eternity, or been the offspring of chance. It may be doubted whether these principles within us are true or false, or uncertain in correspondence to our original. Indeed, it is by faith alone that we can distinguish whether we are asleep or awake ;-because in our sleep we as strongly fancy ourselves to be waking as when we really are so : we imagine that we see space, figure, and motion : we perceive the time pass away, we measure it as it runs. In fine, we act, to all intents, as in our most wakeful hours. Since then, by our own confession, one-half of our life is spent in sleep, during which, whatever we may suppose, we have really no idea of truth, all that then passes within us being mere illusion, who can tell but that the other moiety of our life, in which we fancy ourselves to be awake, is no more than a second sleep, little differing from the former ; and that we only rouse ourselves from our sleep by day when we enter into that at night; as it is usual with us to dream that we dream, by heaping one fantastic image upon another.
I waive the whole declamations of the sceptics, against the impressions of custom, education, manners, and climates, and the like prejudices; which they observe to govern the greatest part of mankind, who are wont to reason on no other than these false foundations.
The main forte of the dogmatists is this, that would we but speak honestly and sincerely, there is no man who can doubt of natural principles. We are capable of truth, say they, not only by reasoning, but by perception, and by a bright and lively act of immediate intelligence. It is by this latter way that we arrive at the knowledge of first principles which the forces of reason would attack in vain, having nothing to do with them. The sceptics who labour to bring all things to their own standard, are under a continual disappointment. We may be very well assured of our being awake, though very unable to demonstrate it by
This inability shows indeed the feebleness of our rational powers, but not the general incertitude of our knowledge. We apprehend with no less confidence, that there are such things in the world as space, time, motion, number, and matter, than the most regular and demonstrative conclusions. Nay, it is upon this certainty of perception and consciousness, that reason ought to fix itself, and to found the whole method of its process. I perceive that there are three dimensions in space,-viz. length, breadth, and thickness,—and that number is infinite : hence my reason demonstrates, that there are no two square numbers assignable, one of which shall exactly double the other. We