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XXI. Therefore, as the object of those who are ambitious for power, and of those who court retirement, and whom I have just now described, is the same, the former imagine that they can attain it if they are possessed of great resources, and the latter, if they can be contented with their own, and with little. In this matter the sentiments of neither are to be absolutely rejected. But a life of retirement is moro casy, more safe, less tiresome, and less troublesome than any other; while the life of those who apply themselves to the affairs of government, and to the management of a state, is more beneficial to mankind, and more conducive to glory and renown.
Allowances, therefore, are to be made for those who having no management in public matters, with an excellent genius, give themselves up to learning; and to those who being hindered by feebleness of health, or for some very weighty reason, retire from affairs of government, and leave to others the power and the honor of the administration ; but when men, who have no such excuses, say that they despise that power and those offices which most admire, such men aro so far from deserving praise that they incur censure. It is difficult to condemn their judgment in despising and undervaluing popularity; but then they seem to dread the toils and troubles of affronts and repulses as involving ignoininy and infamy. For some there are who, in opposite matters, are very inconsistent with themselves; they spurn most rigidly at pleasure, but they droop in pain; they despise glory, but sink under unpopularity; and that, too, with no little inconsistency.
But the men who inherit from nature appliances for government ought, laying aside all excuses, to undertake the discharge of all public offices and the management of state affairs ; for neither can a state be governed, nor can magnanimity display itself, by any other means. I am not, however, sure whether those who undertake the management of public affairs ought not to be equally distinguished by magnanimity as philosophers, if not more so, and impresssd with a contempt of common affairs and to possess that tranquillity, that calm of mind, I have so much recommended; I mean, if they wish to live without anxiety, with dignity and consistency.
This may be the more easily practiced by philosophers, because in their lives there is less exposed for fortune to strike at; because their necessities are more contracted; and because, if any thing adverse should happen, they can not fall so heavily. It is not, therefore, without reason, that in the mind of those who undertake the management of public affairs, more violent passions are excited, and mightier matters are to be attempted, than by those who are retired; they, therefore, ought to possess greater elevation of spirit, and freedom from disquiets. But, whoever enters upon public life ought to take care that the question, how far the measure is virtuous, be not his sole consideration, but also how far he may have the means of carrying it into execution. In this he is chiefly to take care that through indolence ho do not meanly despond, nor through eagerness too much presume. Thus, in all affairs, before you undertake them, a diligent preparation should be entered into
XXII. But, since most persons are of opinion that the achievements of war are moro glorious than civil affairs, this judgment needs to be restricted; for many, as generally is the case with high minds and enterprising spirits, especially if they are adapted to military life and are fond of warlike achievements, have often sought opportunities of war from their fondness for glory; but if we are willing to judge truly, many are the civil employments of greater importance, and of more renown, than the military.
For though Themistocles is justly praised his name is now more illustrious than that of Solon, and his glorious victory at Salamis is mentioned preferably to the policy of Solon, by which he first confirmed the power of the Areopagus -the one should not be considered more illustrious than the other; for the one availed his country only for once—the other is lastingly advantageous; because by it the laws of the Athenians, and the institutions of their ancestors, are preserved. Now, Themistocles could not have stated any respect in which he benefited the Areopagus, but the former might with truth declare that Themistocles had been advantaged by him; for the war was carried on by the counsels of that senate which was constituted by Solon.
We may make 'the same observation with regard to Pausanias and Lysander among the Lacedæmonians; for all the addition of empire which their conquests are supposed to have brought to their country is not to be compared to the laws and economy of Lycurgus; for indeed, owing to these very causes they had armies more subordinate and courageous. In my eyes, Marcus Scaurus (who flourished when I was but a boy) was not inferior to Caius Marius; nor, after I came to have a concern in the government, Quintus Catulus to Cneius Pompey. An army abroad is but of small service unless there be a wise administration at home. Nor did that good man and great general, Africanus, perform a more important service to his country when he razed Numantia, than did that private citizen, P. Nasica, when at the same period he killed Tiberius Gracchus. An action which it is true was not merely of a civil nature ; for it approaches to a military character, as being the result of force and courage ; but it was an action performed without an army, and from political considerations.
That state described by the following line is best for a country, for which I understand that I am abused by the wicked and malicious :
Arms to the gown, and laurels yield to lore.!
For, not to mention other persons, when I was at the helm of government did not harins yield to the gown ?" For never did our country know a time of more threatening danger or more profound tranquillity; so quickly, through my counsel and my diligence, did the arms of our most profligate fellow citizens drop of themselves out of their hands. What so great exploit as this was ever performed in war, or what triumph can be compared with it ?
The inheritance of my glory and the imitation of my actions are to descend to you, my son Marcus, therefore it is allowable for me to boast in writing to you. It is, however, certain that Pompey, who was possessed of much military glory, paid this tribute to me, in the hearing of many, that in vain would he have returned to his third triumph, had not my public services preserved the placo in which he was to celebrate it. The examples of civil
? Orig. Cedant arma togæ, concedat laurea lingua. The author is * here speaking of his conduct in suppressing Catiline's conspiracy
courage are therefore no less meritorious than those of military; and they require a greater share of zeal and labor than the latter.
XXIII. Now all that excellence which springs from a lofty and noble nature is altogether produced by the mental and not by the corporeal powers. Meanwhile, the body ought to be kept in such action and order, as that it may be always ready to obey the dictates of reason and wisdom, in carrying them into execution, and in persevering under liardships. But with regard to that honestum we are treating of, it consists wholly in the thoughtful application of the mind; by which the civilians who preside over public affairs are equally serviceable to their country as they who wage wars. For it often happens that by such counsels wars are either not entered into, or they are brought to a termination; sometimes they are even undertaken, as the third Punic war was by the advice of Marcus Cato, whose authority was powerful, even after he was dead.
Wisdom in determining is therefore preferable to courage in fighting; but in this we are to take care that we
I "As a previous observation, it is beyond all doubt that very much depends on the constitution of the body. It would be for physiologists to explain, if it were explicable, the manner in which corporeal organization affects the mind. I only assume it as a fact, that there is in the material construction of some persons, much more than of others, somo quality which augments, if it do not create, both the stability of their resolution and the energy of their active tendencies. There is something that, like the ligatures which one class of the Olympic combatants bound on their hands and wrists, braces round, if I may so describe it, and compresses the powers of the mind, giving them a steady forcible spring and reaction, which they would presently lose if they could be transferred into a constitution of soft, yielding, treacherous debility. The action of strong character seems to demand something firm in its material basis, as massive engines require, for their weight and for their working, to be fixed on a solid foundation. Accordingly, I believe it would be found that a majority of the persons most remarkable for decisive character have possessed great constitutional physical firmness. I do not mean an exemption from disease and pain, nor any certain measure of mechanical strength, but a tone of vigor, the opposite to lassitude, and adapted to great exertion and endurance. This is clearly evinced in rospect to many of them, by the prodigious labors and deprivations which they have borne in prosecuting their designs. The physical nature has seemed a proud ally of the moral one, and, with a hardness that would never shrink, has sustained the energy that could never remit.”-Foster's Essays “On Decision of Character," Letter 2.
are not swayed by an aversion to fighting rather than by a consideration of expediency. Now in engaging in war we ought to make it appear that we have no other view but peace. But the character of a brave and resolute man is not to be ruffled with adversity, and not to be in such confusion as to quit his post, as we say, but to preserve a presence of mind, and the exercise of reason, without departing from his purpose. And while this is the characteristic of a lofty spirit, so this also is that of a powerful intellect, namely, to anticipate futurity in thought, and to conclude beforehand what may happen on either side, and, upon that, what measures to pursue, and never be surprised so as to say, “I had not thought of that.” Such are the operations of a genius, capacious and elevated ; of such a one as relies on its own prudence and counsel ;' but to rush
See Paley's broad statement, that expediency is the fundamental test of all morality.-Book 2, chap. 6.
? The rarity of self-reliance, notwithstanding the commonness of the weakness that stimulates it, is thus strikingly shown by the great essayist above quoted: “The first prominent mental characteristic of the person whom I describe, is a complete confidence in his own judgment. It will, perhaps, be said that this is not so uncommon a qualification. I, however, think it is uncommon. It is, indeed, obvious enough that almost all men have a flattering estimate of their own understanding, and that as long as this understanding has no harder task than to form opinions which are not to be tried in action, they have a most self-complacent assurance of being right. This assurance extends to the judgments which they pass on the proceedings of others. But let them be brought into the necessity of adopting actual measures in an untried situation, where, unassisted by any previous example or practice, they are reduced to dopend on the bare resources of judgment alone, and you will see in many cases this confidence of opinion vanish away. The mind seems all at once placed in a misty racuity, where it reaches round on all sides, but can find nothing to take hold of. Or if not lost in vacuity, it is overwhelmed in confusion; and feels as if its faculties were annihilated in the attempt to think of schemes and calculations among the possibilities, chances, and hazards which overspread a wide untrodden field; and this conscious imbecility becomes severe distress, when it is believed that consequences, of serious or unknown good or evil, are depending on the decisions which are to be formed amid so much uncertainty. The thought painfully recurs at each step and turn, I may by chance be right, but it is fully as probable I am wrong. It is like the case of a rustic walking in London, who, having no certain direction through the vast confusion of streets to the place where he wishes to be, advances, and hesitates, and turns, and inquires, and becomes, at each corner, still more inextricably perplexed. A man in this situation feels he shall be very unfortun.