« PreviousContinue »
of fashion and of the times, am perhaps a little infected with the fault of the age ? In the memory of our fathers, Manius Manilius (not to mention continually the Curii and the Luscinii) at length became poor; for he had only a little house at Carani and a farm near Labicum. Now are we, because we have greater possessions, richer men ? I wish we were. But the amount of wealth is not defined by the valuation of the census, but by habit and mode of life ; not to be greedy is wealth ; not to be extravagant is revenue. Above all things, to be content with what we possess is the greatest and most secure of riches. If therefore they who are the most skillful valuers of property highly estimate fields and certain sites, because such estates are the least liable to injury, how much more valuable is virtue, which never can be wrested, never can be filched from us, which can not be lost by fire or by shipwreck, and which is not alienated by the convulsions of tempest or of time, with which those who are endowed alone are rich, for they alone possess rcsources which are profitable and eternal; and they are the only men who, being contented with what they possess, think it sufficient, which is the criterion of riches: they hanker after nothing, they are in need of nothing, they feel the want of nothing, and they require nothing. As to the unsatiable and avaricious part of mankind, as they have possessions liable to uncertainty, and at the mercy of chance, they who are forever thirsting after more, and of whom there never was a man for whom what he had sufficed; they are so far from being wealthy and rich, that they are to be regarded as necessitous and beggared.
VISION OF SCIPIO.
WHEN I had arrived in Africa as military tribune of the fourth legion, as you know, under the consul, Lucius Manlius, nothing was more delightful to me than having an interview with Massinissa, a prince who, for good reasons, was inost friendly to our family. When I arrived, the old man shed tears as he embraced me. Soon after he raised his eyes up to heaven and said, I thank thee, most glorious sun, and ye the other inhabitants of heaven, that before I depart from this life, I see in my kingdom and under this roof, Publius Cornelius Scipio, by whose very name I am refreshed, for never does the memory of that greatest, that most invincible of men, vanish from my mind. After this I informed myself from him about his kingdom, and he from me about our government; and that day was consumed in much conversation on both sides.
Afterward, having been entertained with royal magnificence, we prolonged our conversation to a late hour of the night; while the old man talked of nothing but of Africanus, and remembered not only all his actions, but all his sayings. Then, when we departed to bed, owing to my journey and my sitting up to a late hour, a sleep sounder than ordinary came over me. In this (I suppose from the subject on which we had been talking, for it commonly happens that our thoughts and conversations beget something analogous in our sleep, just as Ennius writes about Homer, of whom assuredly, he was accustomed most frequently to think and talk when awake), Africanus presented himself to me in that form which was more known from his statue than from his own person.
No sooner did I know him than I shuddered. “Draw near (said he), with confidence, lay aside your dread, and commit what I say to your memory. You see that city, which by me was forced to submit to the people of Rome, but is now renewing its former wars, and can not remain at peace (he spoke these words pointing to Carthage from an , eminence that was full of stars, bright and glorious), which you are now come, before you are a complete soldier,' to attack. Within two years you shall be consul, and shall overthrow it; and you shall acquire for yourself that surname that you now wear, as bequeathed by me. After you have
I "I believe that dreams are uniformly the resuscitation or re-embodiment of thoughts which have formerly, in some shape or other, occupied the mind. They are old ideas revived, either in an entire state, or hetorogeneously mingled together. I doubt if it be possible for a person to have in a dream any idea whose elements did not in some form strike him at a previous period. If these break loose from their connecting chain, and become jumbled together incoherently, as is often the case, they give rise to absurd combinations; but the elements still subsist, and only manifest themselves in a new and unconnected shape. Dreams generally arise without any assignable cause, but sometimes we can very readily discover their origin. Whatever has much interested us during the day is apt to resolve itself into a dream, and this will generally be pleasurable or the reverse, according to the nature of the exciting cause. If, for instance, our reading or conversation be of horrible subjects, such as specters, murders, or conflagrations, they will appear before us magnified and heightened in our dreams. Or if we have been previously sailing upon a rough sea, we are apt to suppose ourselves undergoing the perils of shipwreck. Pleasurable sensations during the day are also apt to assume a still more pleasurable aspect in dreams. In like manner, if we have a longing for anything, we are apt to suppose that we possess it. Even objects altogether unattainable are placed within our reach : we achieve impossibilities, and triumph with ease over the invinciblo laws of nature." -Macnish's Philosophy of Sleep, chap. 3.
2 Soldier. The original is nunc venis pæne Miles, because Scipio was then only a young man and one of the military tribunes, which post was looked upon as only a kind of cadetship which they went through beforo they could be generals.
3 “Dreams have been looked upon by some as the occasional means of giving us an insight into futurity. This opinion is so singularly unphilosophical that I would not have noticed it, were it not advocated even by persons of good sense and education. In ancient times it was 80 common as to obtain universal belief; and the greatest men placed as
destroyed Carthage, performed a triumph, and been censor ; after, in the capacity of legate, you have visited Egypt, Syria, Asia, and Greece, you shall, in your absence, be chosen a second time consul; then you shall finish a most dreadful war, and utterly destroy Numantia. But when you shall be borne into the capitol in your triumphal chariot, you shall find the government thrown into confusion by the machinations of my grandson ;' and here, my Africanus, you must display to your country the luster of your spirit, genius, and wisdom.
"But at this period I perceive that the path of your destiny is a doubtful one; for when your life has passed through seven times eight oblique journeys and returns of the sun ; implicit faith in it as in any fact of which their own senses afforded them cognizance. That it is wholly erroneous, however, can not be doubted; and any person who examines the nature of the human mind and the manner in which it operates in dreams, must be convinced that under no circumstances, except those of a miracle, in which the ordinary laws of nature are triumphed over, can such an event ever take place. The sacred writings testify that miracles were common in former times, but I believe no man of sane mind will contend that they ever occur in the present state of the world. In judging of things as now constituted, we must discard supernatural influence altogether, and estimate events according to the general laws which the great Ruler of nature has appointed foi the guidance of the universe. If in the present day it were possible to conceive a suspension of these laws, it must, as in former ages, be in reference to some great event and to serve some mighty purpose connected with the general interests of the human race; but if faith is to be placed in modern miracles, we must suppose that God suspended the above laws for the most trivial and useless of purposes. At the same time there can be no doubt that many circumstances occurring in our dreams have been actually verified; but this must be regarded as altogether the effect of chance; and for one dream which turns out to bo true, at least a thousand are false. In fact, it is only when they are of the former description, that we take any notice of them, the latter are looked upon as mere idle vagaries, and speedily forgotten."- Macnish's Philosophy of Sleep, chap. 4.
Speaking of uninspired prophecy, Lord Bacon says: “ There are numbers of the like kind; especially if you include dreams and predictions of astrology, but I have set down these few only of certain credit for example. My judgment is, that they ought all to be despised, and ought to serve but for winter talk by the fireside."
1 "Grandson. Meaning Tiberius Gracchus or his brother; their mother was daughter to the elder Africanus. I can not help being of opinion that Virgil took from this vision his first hint of the discourse which he introduces in the sixth book of the Æneid, between Æneas and his father.”—Guthrie.
2 “Seven times eight times. The critics and commentators have been and when these two numbers (each of which is regarded as a complete one-one on one account and the other on another) shall, in their natural circuit, have brought you to the crisis of your fate, then will the whole state turn itself toward thee and thy glory; the senate, all virtuous men, our allies, and the Latins, shall look up to you. Upon your single person the preservation of your country will depend; and, in short, it is your part, as dictator, to settle the government, if you can but escape the impious hands of your kinsmen.” 1—Here, when Lælius uttered an exclamation, and the rest groaned with great excitement, Scipio said, with a gentle smile, “I beg that you will not waken me out of my dream, give a little time and listen to the sequel.
“But that you may be more earnest in the defense of your country, know from me, that a certain place in heaven is assigned to all who have preserved, or assisted, or improved their country, where they are to enjoy an endless duration of happiness. For there is nothing which takes very profuse of their learning in explaining this passage. But since the doctrine of numbers, and the motions of the heavenly bodies have been so well understood, it is a learning of a very useless nature. The sum of what they tell us is, that the numbers seven and eight are completo numbers, and when multiplied into one another produce fifty-six, which is one of the climacterics of human life. The reasons they give for all this are so many and so fanciful, that though they are strengthened with the greatest names of antiquity, it can be of very little use for a modern reader to know them.”—Guthrie.
I “There scarce can be a doubt that this passage was in Virgil's eye, when he makes Anchises break out in that beautiful exclamation in the sixth book of the Æneid concerning Marcellus.
'Heu miserande puer si qua fata aspora rumpas,
Tu Marcellus eris.' "-Guthrie. 2 It seems to have strongly entered into the expectations of those eminent sages of antiquity who embraced the doctrine of the soul's immortality, that the felicity of the next life will partly arise, not only from a renewal of those virtuous connections which have been formed in the present, but from conversing at large with that whole glorious assembly whom the poet hath so justly brought together, in his description of the mansions of the blessed: The
“Manus ob patriam pugnando vulnera passi,
Quique sacerdotes casti, dum vita manebat,
Virg. Æn. vi. 664.