Imágenes de páginas

this, he is never guilty of the folly enjoyment of humanity, was first of " leaving to feed on this fair known and established on earth mountain, and battening on this when Brutus expelled the Tarquins. moor.”

Even in finest and most ad- The splendid period of Grecian hismired poems, this selection is neces tory was contemporary with Roman sary. He knows little of the charms liberty. From the expulsion of the of the Mantuan, who reads his glo Tarquins, till the imperial establishrious epic as a parson reads his ser ment of Augustus, was a period less mon.

Lord Byron says, that Mil-than five hundred years. Taking our ton is “ heavy It is a greater re station at this threshold of imperial proach to his Lordship to have found despotism, can we contemplate the him so than to have written Don fate of man without melancholy Juan. The most frantic of his Lord- and commiseration? Brilliant, inship’s flights of poetry would not deed, is the vista of five hundred prevent any of his volumes from be- years under our eye, but that forms ing very heavy food, if literally but an insulated gleam of light in masticated, by the most feverish the “illimitable ocean, dark, wasteamateur of his genius. To eat Pa- ful, wild,” of misrule and misery. radise Lost might be greater proof Turning our view forward into füof insanity, but not of want of turity from the same station, “how taste for its beauties, than to read comprising myriad shapes of woe” is it regularly through; and without the baleful prospect ! The ideotic reading it through, it can never be and insolent hand of tyranny arrests felt heavy. But if this selection is the progress of knowledge and phinecessary in the choicest poetry, losophy, of freedom and happiness, which is itself a selection of images and chains men to the chariot-wheels and incidents, it is infinitely more of the darkest superstition and the necessary in history, which records basest servitude. For fifteen hundred the whole series of events, that in- years afterwards no symptom of refluence or explain the fate of na- viving reason appeared. We date not tions. In the writings of Tacitus, our revolution till two hundred

years there is indeed little that deserves more; and France slept quietly for not deep and repeated attention, but a century more beneath the nightthere are many passages which not mare of despotism and superstition. only ought to be selected, but which O miserum hominum conditionem ! cannot be fully seen, or justly ap Tacitus thus describes the arts and preciated without selection. His practices of Augustus : “ Having annals begin with the closing events succeeded in gaining the confidence of Augustus's reign, and the sum of the army by donations, in sedumary of the Roman history which cing the affections of the populace by the first sentence contains, is strik- liberal distributions of corn, and in ingly characteristic of this mighty alluring the acquiescence of all claswriter.

ses by the charms of repose, he be“ Kings at first governed Rome; gan insensibly to assume absolute Brutus introduced liberty and a con power, and to engross the whole ausular government; dictatorships were thority of the senate, the magistrates, occasionally resorted to; decemviral and the -laws. None resisted this power prevailed for two years ; mili- artful revolution ; the republicans of tary tribunes ruled for a short time; spirit and ability had perished in the the power of Cinna and of Sylla field of battle, or in the proscription ; lasted not long; the authority of the men of illustrious birth, who Pompey and Crassus soon sunk un survived, found themselves advanced der Cæsar's; the arms of Lepidus and enriched in proportion as they and of Antony soon yielded to the were submissive; and all who profortune of Augustus; Augustus ob- fited by the change enjoyed the pretained the government of the state sent blessings of ease and tranquillity, under the title of Prince."

and suffered not their pleasing dream That negative blessing, that im- to be interrupted by the memory of munity from oppression and vio- their old tumultuous freedom. The lence-civil liberty—which, to the names of the various offices of mashame of our nature, is the rarest gistracy remained unchanged. This

was sufficient to satisfy the existing extolled, by others bitterly congeneration, for the younger men had demned. His admirers alledged, that been born since the defeat of Antony; affection for his adopted and slain almost all the old, during the civil father, and the critical situation of wars; and not one of a thousand had the republic, where the law could seen republican Rome. Thus had the no longer exercise its control, had policy of Augustus changed the po- driven him into civil wars, which litical character of the state. No could neither be begun nor sustaintrace remained of the free and manlyed by fair means; -many cruelties spirit of ancient times; the equality he had conceded to Antony, many to of the republic entirely disappeared; Lepidus, as the terms on which he and all acquiesced with unreserved could obtain vengeance on the ausubmission in the sovereign power of thors of his father's death ; -when the emperor."

Lepidus had grown feeble through The death of Augustus was sup sloth and age, and Antony had sunk posed to have been hurried by Livia, under the dominion of lawless pashis tenderly and constantly-beloved sions, no remedy had remained' for wife, for the purpose of ensuring her his distracted country, but the abson's succession to the imperial solute power of one man ;-yet he power. The dramatic Annalist thus had governed the state, not as a proceeds: “ The funeral was pro king nor as a dictator, but under the tected by a military guard. This name of Prince. The empire he circumstance excited much derision had bounded by the Atlantic Ocean, in the minds of those who had them the Rhine, the Danube, and the selves seen, or who had learnt from Euphrates. The legions, the protheir fathers, the proceedings of that vinces, and the fleets, he had disday on which the death of Cesar tributed and connected in the man(pronounced by some the foulest, ner most beneficial to the general and hailed by others as the most interests of the republic. He had glorious deed) afforded signal proof, established an equal administration that servitude had not yet ceased to of justice among the citizens; enbe galling, but that liberty was in- forced moderation throughout the auspiciously resumed. Now, the fu- provinces ; and magnificently adornneral of an old emperor, who had ed the city itself. The few acts of lived long in possession of absolute violence committed under his autho power, and who had provided heirsrity had been necessary to ensure for the empire, must, forsooth, be the tranquillity of the whole empire. protected by an armed guard, lest his Others imputed his conduct to far funeral rites should be disturbed. different motives. Affection for his Much discourse ensued on the fore father and the exigencies of the retunes and merits of Augustus. The public he hai assumed for a premultitude dwelt with wonder on tence ; from lust of sovereignty alone many unimportant circumstances had he excited the veterans by bribes, that on the same day of the year he raised an army when a private youth, had received imperial sovereignty corrupted the legions of the consul, and breathed his last; that he had and feigned an attachment to Pomdied at Nola, in the same house, and pey's party. When by a decree of in the same chamber, as his father the senate he had seized the power Octavius. Mention was made, with and authority of Pretor, and when admiration too, of the number of Hircius and Pansa had been slain, times he had been consul, by which (either by the enemy or by Cesar's he had equalled Valerius, Corvinus, machinations, poison having been and Marius, together; of his tribu- infused into Pansa's wound, and his nitian power, prolonged through se own soldiers having been instigated ven-and-thirty years; of the title of to murder Hircius,) he assumed the Emperor given him by a victorious command of the forces of both.

He arıny one-and-twenty times; and of had extorted the consulship from a other titles of honour, often repeated, reluctant senate, and turned against or newly invented.

the republic the arms which he had “Among the reflecting, the charac- received to resist Antony. The proter of his life was, by some, highly scription of citizens and the distri

bution of their lands, even his agents hand, and probably with the same themselves had not ventured to jus- temper, he signed the proscription of tify. Cassius, and the Brutuses, he Cicero, and the pardon of Cinna. had indeed sacrificed to paternal His virtues, and even his vices, were vengeance; yet it would have been artificial ; and according to the varigreat and honourable to have ne ous dictates of his interest, he was at glected private revenge for the public first the enemy, and at last the father good. But Pompey he had decoyed of the Roman world. When he under the semblance of peace, and framed the artful system of the imLepidus under the mask of friend- perial authority, his moderation was ship. Antony he had bound to him- inspired by his fears. He wished to self by the leagues of Tarentum and deceive the people by an image of Brundusium, and by the marriage of civil liberty, and the army by an image his sister, and had then punished with of civil government.” He died at the death, as the reward of the fraudulent age of 76. For twelve years he shared affinity. Thenceforward there had the sovereign power with Lepidus been peace indeed, but not a blood- and Antony; for four-and-forty years less peace. The public had sustain- he reigned without a rival, and withed great loss by the defeat of Lollius out control. He doated on Livia, and his army, and by the slaughter of and Livia contrived his death for the Varus and his three legions. Many sake of her son. The Romans styled distinguished individuals had lost him the father of his country, and he their lives in Rome on charges, real or gave the Romans in return the exfictitious, of conspiring against his life. ecrable Tiberius, contrasted with Nor had he abstained from carrying whom he might be thought great and grief and desolation into private fa- amiable. Thus were the Romans, milies. Tiberius Nero he had for the most civilised and powerful nacibly deprived of his wife, and had tion of antiquity, completely enthralconsulted the priests, in scorn, led and converted into a personal inwhether she could be married in due heritance, by a crafty and cold-bloodform while big with child to her ed adventurer. If to be merely fed former husband. Other deeds of and perpetuated be the highest desprivate outrage and atrocity had tiny of mankind, Augustus may pass marked the heartless caution of his for a benefactor and a patriot; if the character. Fatally for the state had generous feeling of independence, the Livia been a mother; more fatally high aspirations of conscious talent, for the family of the Cæsars had she and the proud assertion of free action, become a step-mother. Beneath his belong indeed to man, the first emsway no honours had been left sacred peror of Rome was the most execrable to the gods, for he had desired to be of our species. himself worshipped as a god. Even This man, who, in the pages of Tiberius he had chosen for his suc. honest history, appears thus dark and cessor, not from good will to him or repulsive, is the same person whom concern for the state, but because he Virgil and Horace have celebrated in had thoroughly known his arrogant immortal verse as the saviour and the and unrelenting temper, and soughtguardian of the best interests of manfor posthumous renown, by compa- kind, and as possessing the virtues, rison with an infamous successor.' and deserving the honours of the

It appears obvious, that the pene- Deity himself. Did those unaffected, trating and uncompromising histo- inspired, unrivalled poets, sacrilegirian would represent the latter cha- ously sell their extacies for the paracter as the true picture of Augustus. tronage and the bribes of power ? Gibbon, who understood the spirit The wishes of every lover of poetry and design of Tacitus better than are so strongly opposed to an affirmaany modern writer, thus characterises tive answer, that the question would the same

“subtle tyrant:"_" A be answered in the negative almost cool head, an unfeeling heart, and a without evidence. The gentle and cowardly disposition, prompted him, sensitive soul of Virgil probably beat the age of nineteen, to assume thé lieved the reign of Augustus to be mask of hypocrisy, which lie never wise and salutary. Horace fought afterwards laid aside. With the same under the banners of Brutus and



Cassius, and may therefore be sup cestors. Suberat tamen vigor animi, posed to have been a renegade poet; ingentibus negotiis par; acrior, quò but the supposition would involve an somnum et inertiam magis ostentabat. injustice. Horace had favoured li. His was indeed a vigour of mind berty, not in visions, speculations, or equal to the conduct of affairs of the morbid poetry, but in personal ha- weightiest moment: when he seemed zards, and the hard conflicts of arms; to slumber in indolence and sloth, and he afterwards lauded Augustus, then was the energy of his mind most not as the head of a party, and the re- intensely strained. While Mecenas presentative of principles hostile to was the favourite, Crispus stood next, freedom, but as the Emperor of Rome, and he soon became the chief reposiwithout a rival, and without an op- tory of imperial confidence. Having ponent. The timid and the heart- been privy to the murder of Posthuless are bitter in censuring the mo mus Agrippa, the only surviving tives, and vindictive in assailing the grandson of Augustus, he enjoyed in objects of friends whom they have his old age the friendship of Tiberius abandoned. Horace is not charge- rather in appearance than in reality. able with the pusillanimity and per The same had been the fortune of jury of such political tergiversation: Macenas: Fato potentiæ rarò sempiEt cunctâ terrarum subactâ,

ternæ : aut satias capit, aut illos, cum Præter atrocem animum Catonis.

omnia tribuerunt, aut hos, cum jam This is his sublime eulogy of him is the fate of power derived from the

nihil reliquum est quod cupiant. Such who preferred death to the friendship favour of princes. It is seldom lastof Cæsar.

Approved by his judgment, and ing, for either the prince ceases to beloved by his heart, must have been feel complacency in his favourite, af

ter he has exhausted his bounty, the recollection of Brutus, the un

or the favourite becomes indifferent sullied but unfortunate champion of when nought remains for his ambipublic liberty and true glory, when

tion.” he sung upon his lyre :

This is surely a degrading view of Tecum Philippos et celerem fugam a manly intellect. If on such terms Sensi, relictâ non bene parmulâ,

only greatness, and dignity, and life Quum fracta virtus et minaces

can be enjoyed, were it not_nobler Turpe solum tetigere mento.

and wiser to want them? There is But after all, poets are never good a wide difference between submission politicians; and we would with Plato to a state of things which we cannot exclude, not their persons or their mend, and activity in promoting the songs from the protection of the re views and obtaining the rewards of public, but their minds from its dis- tyranny. Wise and good men may cussions, and their judgments from properly abstain from following the its guardianship

example of Brutus, and even from Many men, however, of profoun- giving unnecessary and unavailing der skill in public affairs, and great Offence to a tyrant ; but they ought intrepidity in political conduct, lent never to lend their aid in perpetratheir authority and co-operation to tion of murder, rapine, or cruelty. the insidious and pernicious policy of If life depend upon the alternative, Augustus. Of these, one of the most it is even the part of prudence to die remarkable was Crispus Sallustius, as Hampden, rather than to live as grandson of a sister of the celebrated Cardinal Wolsey. historian's, into whose family and

(To be continued.) name he had been adopted. Mæcenas, he declined the higher offices of the state, yet in personal authority he stood higher than many

MR EDITOR, who had been graced with triumphal The attention of the "reading dignities and consular rank. In the public” has lately been much directprofusion of his habits, and the splen- ed to the Literature of Germany, and dour of personal pomp, he approach- the erroneous notions formerly entered nearer to luxurious extravagance, tained regarding it are rapidly rathan to the chaste dignity of our an- nishing, as the means are put in our

i Like



power of appreciating its merits. It consider my translation of it worthy is true that those writings which have of a place in your columns, you are hitherto been cor.sidered as affording at liberty to use it as you think fit. a fair specimen of German composi I am your obedient servant, tion, were neither in style nor taste

T. G. at all suited to an English palate ; and because it, by some mischance or other, happened, that Kotzebue's crude productions were those which obtained the widest circulation in

Dixner was over-my mother had this country, so his mawkish senti- taken up her knitting apparatus, and mentality was generally considered I was picking my teeth and amusing as the predominant characteristic myself with building castles in the of German works of imagination. air, when my attention was roused The celebrity which Göethe had ac- by the unusual number of the good quired in his own country, had in- lady's hems, which seemed to be a deed reached us; but such of his prelude to some extraordinary comworks as found their way hither, munication. At length, out it came. rather strengthened the prevailing “My dear Tom," said she, "yesternotion than otherwise ; and his day was your birth-day; you are Werther, which had created so extra now twenty-three, and it is high ordinary a sensation at home, appear time you should be looking about for ed absolutely ridiculous in an Eng- a good match: a man must marry lish dress. Schiller was only known some time or other, but he should to us by an indifferent translation, take care he does so ere it be too late, the Robbers,” which was judged for that is as bad as too soon.". of and criticised without reference "Why, mother," answered I, laugheither to the situation of the author, ing, “ I am not much disinclin(then a young student), or to the ed to change my situation,' as the. circumstances under which it was phrase goes, but I have never yet. composed ; while the later effusions been fortunate enough to meet with of this delightful writer remained for the girl who could induce me to be us “a shut book."

come a benedict.” But the darkness which has hither While I was speaking, my mama to obscured this part of the literary had opened her china snuff-box, and hemisphere is now gradually dissi- with a knowing look, held a pinch pating; the language of Germany is betwixt her finger and her thumb more cultivated among us, and the “What would you think now,” said. labours of many have been exerted she, after a pause, and eyeing me. to make us better acquainted with its through her spectacles, “what would treasures. Your own Magazine de- you think of little Doris, the Upper serves praise for its share in these Forrester's daughter ? laudable efforts; and the several I shook my head—” She is well translations which have in the course enough to pass away a hour or so of the few preceding months appear with occasionally, for she is a gooded in it, will help to prove, that in humoured, lively thing; but she is light and elegant composition, as well like the lilies of the valley, which as in profound research, the Germans toil not, neither do they spin. are fully entitled to a distinguished “Son, she has ten thousand dollars place.

in the bank, and they can set the Aloys Schreiber, an author whose looms agoing. You know our estate is name has perhaps never been heard burthened with debt; and, as you now of in England, is yet justly celebra- think of keeping house for yourself, ted in his own country, for the ease of and wont make use of your friends his style, and purity of his diction. influence to procure a place under He conducts at present one of those government for you Tuschenbücher, of which mention is good mother," interrupted I,“ once made in a previous Number of your for all, that is out of the question; one. Magazine. The following tale, from who has any pretensions to the charac- : his pen, appeared in the Urania ter of an honest man, cuts but a sorry for the present year; and should you figure now-a-days as a man in office.

- My

« AnteriorContinuar »