Page images

pregnable integrity. His heart was not yet debauched, his courage was not yet undermined by the enjoyment of power : he no sooner became a Nave to the love of importance, than there seemed to be a lamentable revolution in his character. As his honours increafed, his intrepidity diminished, and consequence and cowardice kept pace with each other. They who were envious of his credit and authority, and they who desired him for a partizan, perceived where he was vulnerable, where he was practicable, and conveyed, through such channels as the turbulent times afforded, the bait of preferment, and the poison of intimidation. A popular tumult was infallible: a cohort of the legionaries under arms could damp and discomfit the noblest efforts of his eloquence. He trembled for his palaces and villas ; he dreaded the loss of his levees, of that crowded' train of admirers and dependants who, on various occasions, had been indebted to his abilities. A soul which feeds upon applause foon fickens in retirement: it finds no consolation in that solitary dignity which great minds feel in the consciousness of rectitude. As he advanced in life, he repeatedly sacrificed his true honour and security for connections of the worst kind, with statesmen of the worst character, and was at once the dupe of their cunning and his own. It was then that his friend Brutus treated him with that haughtiness of which he complains in fome epistles to Atticus, as being particularly offensive to a person of his age and elevation, from a man so much ‘his junior. The young Stoic raw into the meanness of his ambition, and boldly and scornfully rebuked him. Could he have united to his own amiable urbanity some portion of the proud inflexibility of Cato, who disdained public honours when incompatible with public happiness, the unyielding spirit of that illustrious patriot would have corrected the temporizing principles of the orator, and left a splen, did pattern of political perfection in the life of this accomplished Romao.

• It is generally supposed, that his unhappy end was owing to that eloquence by which he had been exalted. But the true cause was, that he and Antony could not, considering their respective views, exilt together in the same community. It was a personal contest for power. The talents, indeed, of Tully, enabled him to make a very memorable attack on his opponent : yet many perished in the proscription by the triumvirs, who had never had the crime of elo. quence to answer for. Certain it is, however, that as long as he confined himself to the path of real patriotism, he had little to fear from the effects of his asperity : while it was devoted to the purpose of defending the unfortunate, and of “lashing the hard back of arrogane iniquity,” the God who had given it protected him in its ex. ercise.

' In his literary character he stood unrivalled. The fplendour and magnitude of his intelle&tual powers put him far above the reach of competition. Aftranger to jealousy (envy is out of the question, for it implies inferiority), he gloried in displaying the excellencies of others. In his arms unfriended merit of all kinds took shelter : the palace of Cicero was the refuge of the learned from every quarter of the empire.

Ff 2

« His

• His invectives against Verres are entitled to public favour for their eloquence and their honesty. One would think that this part of his oratorical works were as worthy of a place in our scholastic course of learning, as the florid flattery of his orations for Marcellus and Ligarius, of the wicked, or, at least, unwise one, for the Manilian law, and the ingenious infincerity of that in behalf of Milo ..

• It is not easy to transfuse into an English version the true energy and grandeur of the Roman orator. The grace and harmony of his arrangement are impaired, the sterling value of his di&tion is but counterfeited. To present his meaning is the utmost we can effect ; to give his melody were impossible. If departed sages may be thought to converse in some celestial region of felicity, and to be moved with sensations of pleasure or pain from our treatment of the monuments of their genius here on earth, the illustrious Antient, whose orations are before us, might thus, with some appearance of justice, complain : They are enervating the vigour of the Roman style, by the onanimated construction of a northern language: to the tame progress of British profe is the spirited movement of my periods moderated. That republican vehemence with which I have agitated the Roman people even to phrenzy, must now be accommodated to the infipid neatness of modern eloquence, to the cold and guarded fashions of monarchical refinement. The disappointed student may well exclaim, Where is the foul of Tully which I fought for?"

• The oratory of the antients owed much of its magnificence to a custom which we are indebted to for the rapture we experience, in perusing the immortal volumes which contain it. They condescended to study and to compose. Habits of debate and daily exercise may confer that fluency of genteel expreffions, that pleasing flow of words and pretty language, which, accompanied by a readiness at reply, and a familiarity with the local cant of the House of Commons, constitute, in our days, a Great Speaker. This, perhaps, may prove more useful to the several parties which our orators support; it may be better adapted to the desultory hoftilities of a House of Parliament, but will never enable our senators (we are talking of eloquence), without other aids, to reach the sublime excellence and glory of that talent. Few men who desire to improve in public speaking resort to the parliamentary register for aflítance. It was the wife and generous with of the statesmen of Greece and Rome to secure the double prize of present victory and future fame: they harangued at once for the moment, and for posterity t.


That the killing of Clodius (a measure indeed which no good man could lament) was preconcerted between Milo and Cicero, not many days before the fact happened, is proved by an epiftle of the latter to Atticus.'

• + Hume, in his Effay on Eloquence, hath handled this point in fo mafterly a manner, that the translator forbears to make further remarks, and refers the Itudious reader to that excellent performance."

& The

• The violent and abusive terms which occur in these compositions may perhaps offend the delicacy of fome. The antients, in waging war with corruption or cruelty, had no idea that the enemy was entitled to good manners. They seldom employed their asperity by halves. Their orators in the forum, like their heroes in the field, considered themselves as ftruggling in the service of the commonwealth, and were prepared and contented to perish in the cause. Confident that, hould the strife prove fatal to themselves, they were to leave to future ages at once a memorial of their own greatness, and of the villainy of their adversary, they pursued him with the most ardent severity, and (to use the words of a celebrated modern) “ would have tried the last exertion of their abilities to preserve the perishable infamy of his name, and make it immortal."

• Although Cicero poffeffes the impetuofity of Demofthenes, he hath neither his grand fimplicity nor sublime enthusiasm. He is frequently too subtle, too artificial in his manner of reasoning: but when he hath teized us for a while with this imperfection, he suddenly bursts forth with a splendour and majesty which make us ample compensation. In a free ftate which hath provincial territories, his orations against Verres are well worth the study of the statesman and, the senator. The political observations with which they abound should be attentively considered by a patriot Englishman. The liberty of Rome was purchased with the pillage of Asia.

• If a Roman prætor, whose province lay within fight of Italy, and whose crimes, while recent, were within reach of Roman justice, could, for three years, act the tyrant uncontrollably, how numerous must be the temptations to an European officer for opprefling the human fpecies beneath the Equinoctial ?

Delinquents may escape by a deficiency of evidence, occafioned by the remoteness of the place which should supply it. Luckily for the Sicilian province, it was so near to Italy, that Cicero could easily collect documents and witnesses: the sufferers themselves repaired to Rome, and were confronted with the criminal. Instances have been known (in ages lefs antient), when offenders of the first magnitude have returned in peace from the kingdoms they had afflicted, and rioted in the fruits of unpunished rapacity. They sate in fenates; the princes of Europe adorned them with their favour; their degenerate countrymen looked on with unconcern, and, dazzled by their opulence, forgot their barbarities.

• Justice and probity are the main pillars of an empire: remove them, and, be its pride, infatuation, and insolence what they may, the speedy ruin of that empire is inevitable.'

“* The translator hath made some retrenchments in the second and fourth orations, where the matter was such as would have proved more irksome than entertaining to the reader. As aids in illaltrating the following work, the annotations in the valuable edition of Cicero, publihed for the use of the University of Padua, and the famous commentaries of Afconius Pedianus, which, it is to be regretted, go no further than the middle of the third oration, have been occasionally resorted to.'


Ff 3

To the learned, Mr. White's labours will not appear very important. His notes are few; some of them are superficial; and many passages in the text are passed over without remark or illustration, though certainly requiring both. On comparing his work with the Latin, he will be found sometimes to degrade, and sometimes to miltake the original. Thus, p. 264, 'I affirm that a hroughout Sicily, so rich, lo ancient a province, in so many cities, so many affluent families, Verres did not leave a single vale of filver, or of Corinthian, or Delian metal; that there was not a single precious stone or pearl, nothing wrought in gold or ivory; not a statue of brass, marble, or ivory; not a single piece of painting or of tapestry, which he did not explore, inspect, and (if it pleased him) pluuder from the poffeffors. Beside the verbosity of this sentence, the thrie last words, which are supera fluous, serve only to lessen the energy of the whole. How much better is the original;quin conquisierit, inspexerit; quod placitum fit, abftulerit.Again, p. 266, “Placed before these deities were tables, which any one might have known had been set apart for facred uses in the oratory. This is not the meaning of Cicero, “ Ante hosce Deos erant arulæ, quæ cuivis sacrarii religionem. fignificare poffent.. The little altars attested the sanctity of the chapel. P. 267, 'That divine Cupid had no occafion for the habitation of a whore; he could easily have been content with that ancient oratory built and confecrated by a family which adored him : he knew that he had been handed down from father to son, and worshipped by the Heji from generation to generation.' His translation is obscure and innacurate; and the sting or-point of the original is entirely loft : “ Ad hereditatem facrorum, non quærebat meretricis heredem."

Mr. White indulges himself too often in the use of colloquial or vulgar expressions. The phrase senseless being,' in particular, occurs much too frequently; yet, on the whole, this tranflation bas merit, being generally faithful without languor ; and in many paffages, especially of the fifth and fixth orations, both elegant and animated. As a proof of this aflertion, we fall insert that noble peroration, which is inferior to nothing in Roman eloquence.

And now, Almighty Jupiter, thine aid I implore against the ruffian who wrested out of royal hands an offering worthy of thy glorious temple, worthy of the Capicol, and of that fortress of the world, an offering worthy of regal munificence, which at the beheit of kings

was fashioned for thine honour, which was vowed and consecrated by · kings to thy divinity ; that impious wretch, who from thine altar at

Syracuse tore away the hallowed and beauteous image of thy god. head: chee, Juno, queen of Heaven, whose most holy and ancient fanes at Samos and at Malta he stripped of every ornament, with

equal profanation : thee too, Minerva, whose renowned and sancti. fied abode as Athens he pillaged of yaft treasures of devoted gold,


and whose Syracufan temple now exhibits little else than naked roofs and plundered walls : thee 100, Latona, thee Apollo, thee Diana, I implore, whose temple, nay, whose ancient and divine domicil at Delos he despoiled, when invading at dead of night that awful habita. tion : thee also, Apollo, whose ftatue at Chios fell a prey to his sapacity; and on thee, O Diana, again and again I call, whose holy fane at Perga was violated by the miscreant, whose celestial effigies he seized at Segesta, an image which had twice been dedicated in that city, first by its pious citizens, and a second time by Scipio Africanus on his victory: and thee, Mercury, erected by Scipio in the gymnasium at Tyndarus, as a guardian god to the young men of that community, but lately sent by Verres to the palæstra of some villa : thee, Hercules, whom this facrilegious robber at midnight attempted, with an armed band of flaves, to ravish from the citizens of Agrigentum: thee, most holy Mother of the Gods, in whose august and awful temple at Enguini the profligate left nothing but the name of Scipio, and the vestiges of violated worship: you, Pollux and Castor, who from that fane which adorns the Roman forum are perpetual witnesses of our political proceedings, of the most important counsels of our Senate, of the legislation of the people, of the distribution of equity in all our tribunals, aid me against him who converted your ballowed manfion into a scene of extortion and unparalleled iniquity : and you, celestials, who, at the celebration of the annual games, 'are drawn in folemn state through ways designed for that illustrious ceremony, in the superintendance of which sacred works this rapacious criminal consulted his cupidity, and wronged religion of the fplendour which is due to it: thee Ceres, thee Proserpine, whose holy sites contain the grandest and most secret mysteries of human worship, to whom we owe the sustenance and regulation of life, by whom the first example of laws and manners, of mildness and civilization were set forth and diffeminated among the fons of men ; whose religious solemnities, received from the Greeks and cherished in this country, are held by the Roman people in such exalted estimation, that, far from seeming to be adopied from other nations, they appear amongst us as if in their original and native residence; you, who have suffered from the hands of Verres such pollution and violation, when he dared to carry off, from the oratory at Catina, an image of Ceres, which the laws interdi&ted any, but the female sex, not only to touch, but even to look upon, with that other from the shrine and temple at Enna, which in its workmanship was fo divinely fair, that beholders thought it to be either Ceres herself, or her effigies formed by some hand in Heaven, and conveyed to earth for human adoration ; you, most holy goddesses, again and again I implore and appeal to, who inhabit the lakes and groves of Enna, who preside over all Sicily, which hath appointed me its advocate, by whom tillage was invented, and the blessings of it spread through every region of the globe, and whose divinity is worshipped in every clime and nation : and I supplicate and beseech all other heavenly powers with whose temples and rites the miscreant, by unutterable outrage and audacity, hath waged an incessant and sacrilegious war, that if in this impeachment my cares and counsels have beta uniformly directed to the salvation of our allies, to the dignity of the Roman people, to my own integrity Ff4


« PreviousContinue »