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fearless in action; and executing what he had resolved with an amazing celerity: generous beyond measure to his friends; placable to his enemies; and for parts, learning, eloquence, scarcely 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 Quinctilian 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 rivalling 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 turns to the greatest excess; yet the first was always predominant; to which he could easily sacrifice all the charms of the second, and draw pleasure even from toils and dangers, when they ministered to his glory. For he thought tyranny, as Cicero says, the greatest of goddesses; and had frequently in his mouth a verse of Euripides, which expressed the image of his soul, that if right and justice were ever to be violated, they were to
be violated for the sake of reigning. This was the chief end and purpose of his life; the scheme that he had formed from his early youth; so that, as Cato truly declared of him, he came with sobriety and meditation to the subversion of the republic. He used to say, that there were two things necessary, to acquire and to support power-soldiers and money; which yet depended mutually upon each other; with money therefore he provided soldiers, and with soldiers extorted money; and was, of all men, the most rapacious in plundering both friends and foes; sparing neither prince, nor státe, nor temple, nor even private persons, who were known to possess any share of treasure. His great abilities would necessarily have made him one of the first citizens of Rome; but, disdaining the condition of a subject, he could never rest, till be made himself a monarch. In acting this last part, bis usual prudence seemed to fail him: as if the height to which he was mounted had turned his head, and made him giddy: for, by a vain ostentation of his power, he destroyed the stability of it; and as men shorten life by living too fast, so by an intemperance of reigning, he brought his reign to a violent end. Middleton.
CHARACTER OF ALFRED KING OF ENGLAND.
THE merit of this prince, both in private and public life, may, with advantage, be set in opposition to that of any monarch or citizen, which the annals of any age or any nation can present to us. He seems, indeed, to be the complete model of that
perfect character, which, under the denomination of a sage or wise man, the philosophers have been fond of delineating, rather as a fiction of their imagination, than in hopes of ever seeing it reduced to practice; so happily were all his virtues tempered together; so justly were they blended; and so powerfully did each prevent the other from exceeding its proper bounds.
He knew how to conciliate the most enterprising spirit with the coolest moderation; the most obstinate perseverance, with the easiest flexibility; the most severe justice, with the greatest lenity; the greatest rigour in command, with the greatest affability of deportment; the highest capacity and inclination for science, with the most shining talents for actior.
Nature also, as if desirous that so bright a production of her skill should be set in the fairest light, had bestowed on him all bodily accomplishments! vigour of limbs, dignity of shape and air, and a pleasant, engaging, and open countenance. By living in that barbarous age, he was deprived of historians worthy to transmit his fame to posterity; and we wish to see him delineated in more lively colours, and with more particular strokes, that we might at least perceive some of those small specks and blemishes, from which, as a man, it was impossible he should be entirely exempted.
CHARACTER OF WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR.
THE character of this prince has seldom been set in its true light; some eminent writers having been dazzled so much by the more shining parts of it, that they have hardly seen his faults; while others, out of a strong detestation of tyranny, have been unwilling to allow him the praise he de
He may with justice be ranked among the greatest generals any age has produced. There was united in him activity, vigilance, intrepidity, caution, great force of judgment, and never-failing presence of mind. He was strict in his discipline, and kept his soldiers in perfect obedience; yet preserved their affection. Having been from his very childhood continually in war, and at the head of armies, he joined to all the capacity that genius could give, all the knowledge and skill that experience could teach, and was a perfect master of the military art, as it was practised in the times wherein he lived. His constitution enabled him to endure any hardships, and very few were equal to him in personal strength, which was an excellence of more importance than it is now, from the inanner of fighting then in use. It is said of him, that none except himself could bend his bow. His courage was heroic, and he possessed it not only in the field, but, which is more uncommon, in the cabinet, attempting great things with means that to other men appeared totally unequal to such undertakings, and steadily prosecuting what he had boldly resolved; being never disturbed or disheartened by difficulties in the course
of his enterprises; but having that noble vigour of mind, which, instead of bending to opposition, rises against it, and seems to have a power of controlling and commanding Fortune herself.
Nor was he less superior to pleasure than to fear no luxury softened him, no riot disordered, no sloth relaxed. It helped not a little to maintain the high respect his subjects had for him, that the majesty of his character was never let down by any incontinence or indecent excess. His temperance and his chastity were constant guards, that secured his mind from all weakness, supported its dignity, and kept it always, as it were, on the throne. Through his whole life he had no partner of his bed but his queen; a most extraordinary virtue in one who had lived, even from his earliest youth, amidst all the licence of camps, the allurements of a court, and the seductions of sovereign power! Had he kept his oaths to his people as well as he did his marriage vow, he would have been the best of kings; but he indulged other passions of a worse nature, and infinitely more detrimental to the public than those he restrained. A lust of power, which no regard to justice could limit, the most unrelenting cruelty, and the most insatiable avarice, possessed his soul. It is true, indeed, that among many acts of extreme inhumanity, some shining instances of great clemency may be produced, that were either effects of his policy, which taught him this method of acquiring friends, or of his magnanimity, which made him slight a weak and subdued enemy, such as was Edgar Atheling, in whom he found neither spirit nor talents able to contend with him for the