Imagens das páginas

with debts, and suspected by all honest men, was hardly able to show his head, Pompey was flourishing in the height of power and glory; and, by the consent of all parties, placed at the head of the republic. This was the post that his ambition seemed to aim at, to be the first man in Rome; the leader, not the tyrant of his country; for he more than once had it in his power to have made himself the master of it without any risk, if his virtue, or his phlegm at least, had not restrained him: but he lived in a perpetual expectation of receiving from the gift of the people, what he did not care to seize by force; and, by fomenting the disorders of the city, hoped to drive them to the necessity of creating him dictator. It is an observation of all the historians, that while Cæsar made no difference of power, whether it was conferred or usurped, whether over those who loved, or those who feared him; Pompey seemed to value none but what was offered; nor to have any desire to govern, but with the good-will of the governed. What leisure he found from his wars, he employed in the study of polite letters, and especially of eloquence, in which he would have acquired great fame, if his genius had not drawn him to the more dazzling glory of arms; yet he pleaded several causes with applause, in the defence of his friends and clients; and some of them in conjunction with Cicero. His language was copious and elevated; his sentiments just; his voice sweet; his action noble, and full of dignity. But his

talents were better formed for arms than the gown; for, though in both he observed the same discipline, a perpetual modesty, temperance, and

gravity of outward behaviour; yet in the licence of camps the example was more rare and striking. His person was extremely graceful, and imprinting respect; yet with an air of reserved haughtiness, which became the general better than the citizen. His parts were 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 uncontrollable: he had no reason to apprehend that they could ever prove his rivals; since neither of them had any credit or character of that kind, which alone could raise them above the laws; a superior fame and expe rience 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 but 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 his mistakes at last, when it was out of his power to correct them; and in his wretched flight from Pharsalia, was forced to confess, that he had trusted too much to his hopes; and that Cicero had judged better, and seen further 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 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 eclipsed 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 defence 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 says, 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 wife Cornelia, in a vault by 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 Adrian. Middleton.


If we consider the character of Cato without prejudice, he was certainly a great and worthy man; a friend to truth, virtue, liberty; yet, falsely measuring all duty by the absurd rigour of the stoical rule, he was generally disappointed of the end which he sought by it, the happiness both of his private and public life. In his private conduct he was severe, morose, inexorable; banishing all the softer affections, as natural enemies to justice, and as suggesting false motives of acting, from favour, elemency, and compassion: in public affairs he

was the same; had but one rule of policy, to adhere to what was right, without regard to time or circumstances, or even to a force that could control him; for, instead of managing the power of the great, so as to mitigate the ill, or extract any good from it, he was urging it always to acts of violence by a perpetual defiance; so that, with the best intentions in the world, he often did great harm to the republic. This was his general behaviour; yet from some particular facts, it appears that his strength of mind was not always impregnable, but had its weak places of pride, ambition, and party zeal: which, when managed and flattered to a certain point, would betray him sometimes into measures contrary to his ordinary rule of right and truth. The last act of his life was agreeable to his nature and philosophy: when he could no longer be what he had been; or when the ills of life overbalanced the good; which, by the principles of his sect, was a just cause for dying; he put an end to his life with a spirit and resolution which would make one imagine, that he was glad to have found an occasion of dying in his proper character. On the whole, his life was rather admirable than amiable; fit to be praised, rather than imitated. Middleton.


CASAR 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 council :

[blocks in formation]
« AnteriorContinuar »