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mention the Roman affairs, and reduce them to common-places, ought not to boast himself as a great benefactor to the studious world.
After a preface of boast, and a letter of flattery, in which he seems to imitate the address of Horace in his vile potabis modicis Sabinum--he opens his book with telling us, that the' “ Roman republic, “ after the horrible proscription, was no more at “ bleeding Rome. The regal power of her consuls, “ the authority of her senate, and the majesty of “her people, were now trampled under foot; these
[for those] divine laws and hallowed customs, " that had been the essence of her constitution
were set at nought, and her best friends were lying exposed in their blood.”
These were surely very dismal times to those who suffered; but I know not why any one but a schoolboy in his declamation should whine over the commonwealth of Rome, which grew great only by the misery of the rest of mankind. The Romans, like others, as soon as they grew rich grew corrupt, and, in their corruption, sold the lives and free. doms of themselves, and of one another.
“ About this time Brutus had his patience put “ to the highest trial: he had been married to Clodia; “ but whether the family did not please him, or “ whether he was dissatisfied with the lady's be“ haviour during his absence, he soon entertained “ thoughts of a separation. This raised a good deal
of talk, and the women of the Clodian family inveighed bitterly against Brutusbut he married “ Portia, who was worthy of such a father as M. « Cato, and such a husband as M. Brutus. She had
a soul capable of an exalted passion, and found a
proper object to raise and give it a sanction; she “ did not only love but adored her husband; his “ worth, his truth, his every shining and heroic
quality, made her gaze on him like a god, while “ the endearing returns of esteem and tenderness " she met with, brought her joy, her pride, her
every wish to centre in her beloved Brutus.”
When the reader has been awakened by this rapturous preparation, he hears the whole story of Portia in the same luxuriant style, till she breathed out her last, a little before the bloody proscription, and “ Brutus complained heavily of his friends at “ Rome, as not having paid due attention to his
Lady in the declining state of her health.”
He is a great lover of modern terms. His senators and their wives are Gentlemen and Ladies. In this review of Brutus's army, who was under the command of gallant men, not braver officers than true patriots, he tells us, "that Sextus the Questor '" was Paymaster, Secretary at War, and Com“ missary General, and that the sacred discipline of t the Romans required the closest connection, like " that of father and son, to subsist between the “ General of an army and his Questor. Cicero was “ General of the Cavalry, and the next general
officer was Flavius, Master of the Artillery, the “ elder Lentulus was Admiral, and the younger “ rode in the Band of Volunteers; under these the “ tribunes, with many others too tedious to name." Lentulus, however, was but a subordinate officer; for we are informed afterwards, that the Romans had made Sextus Pompeius Lord High Admiral in all the seas of their dominions.
Among other affectations of this writer is a furious and unnecessary zeal for liberty, or rather for one form of government as preferable to another. This indeed might be suffered, because political institution is a subject in which men have always differed, and if they continue to obey their lawful governours, and attempt not to make innovations for the sake of their favourite schemes, they may differ forever without any just reproach from one another. But who can bear the hardy champion who ventures nothing? who in full security undertakes the de. fence of the assassination of Cosar, and declares his resolution to speak plain? Yet let not just sentiments be overlooked: he has justly observed, that the greater part of mankind will be naturally prejudiced against Brutus, for all feel the benefits of private friendship; but few can discern the adyantages of a well-constituted government *.
We know not whether some apology may not be necessary for the distance between the first account of this book and its continuation. The truth is, that this work not being forced upon our attention by much publick applause or censure, was some times neglected, and sometimes forgotten; nor would it, perhaps, have been now resumed, but that we might avoid to disappoint our readers by an abrupt desertion of any subject.
It is not our design to criticise the facts of this history, but the style; not the veracity, but the address of the writer; for, an account of the an
* The first part of this Review closed here. What follows did not appear until seven months after. To which delay the writer alludes with provoking severity.
cient Romans, as it cannot nearly interest any present reader, and must be drawn from writings that have been long known, can owe its value only to the language in which it is delivered, and the reflections with which it is accompanied. Dr. Blackwell, however, seems to have heated his imagination so as to be much affected with every event, and to believe that he can affect others. Enthusiasm is indeed sufficiently contagious; but I never found any of his readers much enamoured of the glorious Pompey, the patriot approv'd, or much incensed against the lawless Cæsar, whom this author probably stabs every day and night in his sleeping or waking dreams.
He is come too late into the world with his fury for freedom, with his Brutus and Cassius. We have all on this side of the Tweed long since settled our opinions: his zeal for Roman liberty and declama- . tions against the violators of the republican constitution, only stand now in the reader's way, who wishes to proceed in the narrative without the interruption of epithets and exclamations. It is not easy to forbear laughter at a man so bold in fighting shadows, so busy in a dispute two thousand years past, and so zealous for the honour of
people who while they were poor robbed mankind, and as soon as they became rich, robbed one another. Of these robberies our author seems to have no very quick sense, except when they are committed by Cæsar's party, for every act is sanctified by the name of a patriot.
If this author's skill in ancient literature were less generally acknowledged, one might sometimes suspeçt that he had too frequently consulted the French
writers. He tells us that Archelaus the Rhodian made a speech to Cassius, and in so saying dropt some tears, and that Cassius after the reduction of Rhodes was covered with glory.- Deiotarus was a keen and happy spirit — The ingrate Castor kept his court.
His great delight is to shew his universal acquaintance with terms of art, with words that every other polite writer has avoidedand despised. When Pompey conquered the pirates, he destroyed fifteen hundred ships of the line.—The Xanthian parapets were tore down.--Brutus, suspecting that his troops were plundering, commanded the trumpetsto sound to their colours.-Most people understood the act of attainder passed by the senate.—The Numidian troopers were unlikely in their appearance. The Numidians beat up one quarter after another. Salvidienus resolved to pass his men over in boats of leather, and he gave orders for equipping a sufficient number of that sort of small craft.-Pompey had light agile frigates, and fought in a strait where the current and caverns occasion swirls and a roll. -A sharp out-look was kept by the admiral.-It is a run of about fifty Roman miles.-Brutus broke Lipella in the sight of the army.-Mark Antony garbled the senate. He was a brave man, well qualified for a commodore.
In his choice of phrases he frequently uses words with great solemnity, which every other mouth and pen has appropriated to jocularity and levity! The Rhodiansgave up the contest, and in poor plight fled back to Rhodes.—Boys and girls were easily kidnapped.-Deiotarus was a mighty believer of augury.—Deiotarus destroyed his ungracious pro