« PreviousContinue »
the regal power, all civil wars being appeased, and all his rivals and opposhes, which might put him to any fear, being removed out of the way by the stroke of death ; notwithstanding, he never thought of resigning the Republic; no, nor ever made any show or offer of resigning the same. Which showed plainly, that his ambition of being a king was settled in him, and remained with him unto his last breath. For he did not lay hold upon occasions as they happened, but moulded and formed the occasions as himself pleased.
His chief abilities consisted in martial knowledge; in which he so excelled, that he could not only lead an army, but mould an army to his own liking. For he was not more skilful in managing affairs, than in winning of hearts. Neither did he affect this by any ordinary discipline; as by inuring them to fulfil all his commands; or by striking a shame into them to disobey, or by carrying a severe hand over them: but by such a way as did wonderfully stir up an alacrity and cheerfulness in them; and did in a sort assure him of tire victory aforehand, and which did oblige the soldier to him, more than was fit for a free state. Now whereas he was versed in all kinds of martial knowledge, and joined civil arts with the arts of war; nothing came so suddenly, or so unlooked for upon him, but he had a remedy for it at hand; and nothing was so adverse, but that he could pick something for his turn and benefit out of it.
He stood sufficiently upon his state and greatness. For in great battles, he would sit at home in the head-quarter, and manage all things by messages; which wrought him a double benefit: First, that it secured his person more, and exposed him the less to danger: Secondly, that if at any time his army was worsted, he could put new spirit into them with his own presence, as by the addition of fresh forces, and turn the fortune of the day. In the conducting of his wars, he would not only follow precedents, but he was able to devise and pursue new stratagems, according as the accidents and occasions required.
He was constant, and singularly kind and indulgent in his friendships contracted. Notwithstanding, he made choice of such friends, as a man might easily see that he chose them to be instruments to his ends, and not obstructions to them. And whereas, by nature, and out of a firm resolution, he adhered to this principle,— not to be eminent amongst great and deserving men, but to be chief amongst inferiors and vassals; he chose only mean and active men, and such as to himself might be all in all. And hereupon grew that saying, "So let Caesar live, though 1 die ;" and other speeches of that kind. As for the nobility, and those that were his peers, he contracted friendship with such of them as might be useful to him; and admitted none to his cabinet council, but those that had their fortunes wholly depending upon him.
He was moderately furnished with good literature, and the arts; but in such sort as he applied his skill therein to civil policy. For he was well read in history; and was expert in rhetoric, and the art of speaking. And because he attributed much to his good stars, he would pretend more than an ordinary knowledge in astronomy. As for eloquence, and a prompt elocution, that was natural to him, and pure.
He was dissolute, and propense to voluptuousness and pleasures; which served well at first for a cover to his ambition: for no man would imagine, that a man so loosely given could harbour any ambitious and vast thoughts in his heart. Notwithstanding, he so governed his pleasures, that they were no hindrance, either to his profit, or to his business: and they did rather whet, than dull the vigour of his mind. He was temperate at his meals; free from niceness and curiosity in his lusts; pleasant and magnificent at public interludes.
Thus being accomplished, the same thing was the means of his downfall at last, which in his beginning was a step to his rise, I mean his affectation of popularity. For nothing mrre popular, than to forgive our enemies. Through which, either virtue or cunning, he lost his life.
a (Sibil Character of Augustus ttawar.
AUGUSTUS CjESAR (if ever any mortal man) was endued with a greatness of mind undisturbed with passions, clear and well ordered; which is evidenced by the high achievements which he performed in his early youth. For those persons which are of a turbulent nature or appetite, do commonly pass their youth in many errors; and about their middle, then and not before, they show forth their perfections: but those that are of a sedate and calm nature, may be ripe for great and glorious actions in their youth. And whereas the faculties of the mind, no less than the parts and members of the body, do consist and flourish in a good temper of health, and beauty, and strength; so he was, in the strength of the mind, inferior to his uncle Julius; but in the health and beauty of the mind, superior. For Julius being of an unquiet and uncomposed spirit; (as those who are troubled with the falling-sickness for the most part are), notwithstanding he carried on his own ends with much moderation and discretion, yet he did not order his ends well; propounding to himself vast and high designs, above the reach of a mortal man. But Augustus, as a man sober, and mindful of his mortality, seemed to propound no other ends to himself, than such as were orderly and well weighed, and governed by reason. For, first he was desirous indeed to have the rule and principality in his bands; then he sought to appear worthy of that power which he should acquire: next, to enjoy an high place, he accounted but a transitory thing: lastly, he endeavoured to do such actions as might continue his memory, and leave an impression of his good government to after ages. And therefore, in the beginning of his age, he affected power; in the middle of his age, honour and dignity; in the decline of his years, ease and pleasure; and in the end of his life, he was wholly bent to memory and posterity.
<©f a Ming.
1. A KING is a mortal god on earth, unto whom the living God hath lent his own name as a great honour; but withal told him, he should die like a man, lest he should be proud, and flatter himself that God hath with his name imparted unto him his nature also.
2. Of all kind of men, God is the least beholden unto them; for he doth most for them, and they do ordinarily least for him.