Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

ing, not the most amiable that is to be met with in human society : it is in most points opposite to that of a soldier, as is the way of life from which it is derived.

Hume.

CHARACTER OF EPAMINONDAS. EPAMINONDAS was born and educated in that honest poverty which those less corrupted ages accounted the glorious mark of integrity and virtue. The instructions of a Pythagorean philosopher, to whom he was entrusted in his earliest years, formed him to all the temperance and severity peculiar to that sect, and were received with a docility and pleasure which bespoke an ingenuous mind. Music, dancing, and all those arts which were accounted honourable distinctions at Thebes, he received from the greatest masters. In the athletic exercises he became conspicuous, but soon learned to apply particularly to those which might prepare him for the labours and occasions of a military life. His modesty and gravity rendered him ready to hear and receive instruction; and his genius enabled him to learn and improve. A love of truth, a love of virtue, tenderness, and húmanity, and an exalted patriotism, he had learned, and soon displayed. To those glorious qualities he added penetration and sagacity, a happiness in improving every incident, a consummate skill in war, an unconquerable patience of toil and distress, a boldness in enterprise, vigour, and magnanimity. Thus did he become great and terrible in war; nor was lie less distinguished by the gentler virtues of peace and retirement. He had a soul capable of the most exalted and disinterested friendship : the warmth of his benevolence supplied the deficiencies of his fortune ; his credit and good offices frequently were enıployed to gain that relief for the necessities of others, which his own circumstances could not grant them; within the narrow sphere of these were his desires regularly confined; no temptations could corrupt him; no prospects of advantage could shake his integrity; to the public he appeared unalterably and solely devoted; nor could neglect or injuries abate his zeal for Thebes. All these illustrious qualities he adorned with that eloquence which was then in such repute, and appeared in council equally eminent, equally useful to his country as in action. By him Thebes first rose to sovereign power, and with him she lost her greatness.

Leland.

CHARACTER OF EPICURUS. I BELIEVE you will find, that Aristotle is still to be preferred to Epicurus. The former made some useful experiments and discoveries, and was engaged in a real pursuit of knowledge, although his manner is much perplexed. The latter was full of vanity and ambition. He was an impostor, and only aimed at deceiving. He seemed not to believe the principles which he has asserted. He committed the government of all things to chance. His natural philosophy is absurd. His moral phie. losophy wants its proper basis, the fear of God.

rance.

Monsieur Bayle, one of his warmest advocates, is of the last opinion, where he says, On ne sauroit pas dire assez de bien de l'honnêteté de ces meurs, ni assez de mal de ses opinion sur la religion. His general maxim, That happiness consisted in pleasure, was too much unguarded, and must lay a foundation of a most destructive practice : although, from his temper and constitution, he made his life sufficiently pleasurable to himself and agreeable to the rules of true philosophy. His fortune exempted him from care and solicitude; his valetudinarian habit of body from intempe

He passed the greatest part of his time in his garden, where he enjoyed all the elegant amusements of life. There he studied. There he taught his philosophy. This particularly happy situation greatly contributed to that tranquillity of mind and indolence of body, which he made his chief ends. He had not, however, resolution sufficient to meet the gradual approaches of death, and wanted that constancy wbieh sir William Temple ascribes to him: for in his last moments, when he found that his condition was desperate, he took such large draughts of wine, that he was absolutely intoxicated and deprived of his senses ; so that he died more like a bacchanal than a philosopher.

Lord Orrery.

CONTINENCE OF SCIPIO AFRICANUS.

The soldiers, after the taking of New Carthage, brought before Scipio a young lady of such distinguished beauty, that she attracted the eyes of all

can

wherever she went. Scipio, by inquiring concerning her countıy and parents, among other things learned, that she was betrothed to Allucius, prince of the Celtiberians. He immediately ordered her parents and bridegroom to be sent for, In the mean time he was informed, that the young prince was so excessively enamoured of his bride, that he could not survive the loss of her. For this reason, as soon as he appeared, and before he spoke to her parents, he took great care to talk with him.“ As you and I are both young,' said he, we

converse together with greater freedom. When your bride, who had fallen into the hands of my soldiers, was brought before me, I was informed that you loved ber passionately; and, in truth, her perfect beauty left me no room to doubt of it. If I were at liberty to indulge a youthful passion, I mean honourable and lawful wedlock, and were not solely engrossed by the affairs of my republic, I might have hoped to have been pardoned my excessive love for so charming a mistress. But as I am situated, and have it in my power, with pleasure I promote your happiness. Your future spouse has niet with a civil and modest treatment from me, as if sie had been amongst her own parents, who are soon to be yours too. I have kept her pure, in order to have it in my power to make you a present worthy of you and of me. The only return I ask of you for this favour is, that you will be a friend to the Roman people; and that if you believe me to be a man of worth, as the states of Spain formerly experienced my father and uncle to be, you may know there are many of Rome who resemble us

and that there is not a people in the universe, whom you ought less to desire to be an enemy, or more a friend, to you or yours. The youth, covered with blushes, and full of joy, embraced Scipio's hands, praying the immortal gods to reward him, as he himself was not capable to do it in the degree he himself desired, or he deserved. Then the parents and relations of the virgin were called. They had brought a great sum of money to ransom her. But seeing her restored without it, they began to beg Scipio to accept that sum as a present; protesting they would acknowledge it as a favour, as much as they did the restoring the virgin without injury offered to her. Scipio, unable to resist their importunate solicitations, told them, he accepted it; and ordering it to be laid at his feet, thus ad. dressed Allucius : "To the portion you are to reeeive from your father-in-law, I add this, and beg you will accept it as a nuptial present.' So he desired him to take up the gold, and keep it for himself. Transported 'with joy at the presents and honours conferred on him, he returned home, and expatiated to his countrymen on the merits of Scipio. " There is come amongst us,' said he,

a young hero, like the gods, who conquers all things as well by generosity and beneficence, as by arms.' For this reason, having raised troops among his own subjects, he returned a few days after to Scipio with a body of one thousand four hundred horse,

From Livy. i

« AnteriorContinuar »