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him so badly, as your majesty has treated Augustus: for while I have robbed this man only of a dinner, you have robbed Augustus of a whole kingdom !”
Charles the Twelfth, Frederic of Prussia, Napoleon, and indeed all other warriors, seem to act upon the principle, lately allowed, of wager of battle a. . It were the most difficult of all difficult conquests to charm such monsters into men! And what do they get by their tyranny, their rapine, and their extravagance? Read the letter of Phalaris, one of the worst tyrants that Sicily, the nurse of tyrants, ever groaned under. “ After no small pains to obtain a knowledge of mankind, I am of opinion, that the Lybian deserts, or the wild dens of Numidia, are infinitely preferable to a habitation among men. And I account it more safe to sleep among lions, and to crawl with the reptiles of the earth, than to live with them b."
What a noble and dignified employment it would be to live in the exercise of a power, and a will, to administer to the comforts of an honourable people! To drop manna in their fields ; to awaken a sense of charity and felicity, by uniting profound policy to genius; and thereby shedding the sunshine of glory over a useful life. Happy,--pre-eminently happy, -shall we account ourselves, when there shall arise among the nations a prince, formed in the schools of Plato and Fenelon ; who shall say to his family, his friends; his
A Trial by wager of battle was common among the ancient Germans *, the Burgundi t, and the Swedes I. William of Normandy introduced it into England : it was practised in the reign of Elizabeth S, and the law allowing its efficacy is still unrepealed. Our legislators, therefore, still countenance the plea of its first adoption ;-viz. that Heaven will at all times protect the righteous, and give victory to him to whom victory is due; and that, too, in direct opposition to the Christian acknowledgment, that the race is not always to the swift, nor the victory to the strong.
b Phal. Epist. xxxiv.
* Paterculus, Hist. lib. ii. c. 118.
+ Selden. I Stiernb. de Jure Sueno. i. c. 7.. $ 1631–1638. Comment. b. iii. ch. 22.-Dante allows its efficacy.- De Monarchia, p. 51. .
subjects, and the world, “ Hitherto ye have felt little of the comforts of life! Your years have been full of trouble ; your youth was wasted in suffering; your manhood in contentions ; but your age shall be spent in repose. The worst passions of the human heart have been too long in conspiracy against the nobler ones : you shall now have not only respite, but tranquillity. Feed your flocks and prune your vines : the corn you sow, no one but yourselves shall reap: give yourselves up, therefore, to the milder and far more manly occupations of life ; since I am a king, that idolize true glory; and, therefore, love peace better than war.”
In the relative estimate of ability mere warriors are mere emmets. In an army of twenty thousand, not less than two thousand would make good generals, if they had the opportunity. But, as to pre-eminent statesmen!. There is not one born in five centuries. “ The world is undone,” says Sir Wm. Temple, “ by looking at things at a distance.” The virtues of statesmen are courage, disinterestedness, humanity, justice, magnanimity, and a love of their country. Warriors! Let them die, and let them be forgotten. Holding up the head of Medusa, as it were, before the gaze of prostrate nations, they are unknown in the great volume of wisdom.' Nature recognizes them, as she does the serpent and the alligator. They are discords in this world of harmony; and, converting a land of honey into a land of tears, they are deformities in this universe of beauty. We will shed no tear in honour of their memories ; nor will we plant one rose, jessamine, or ivy, over their monuments. · History, as it is usually written, is, after all that can be said in its favour, a most disgusting tale for human patience ! A mere recital of the origin of wars; their calamities; their progress; their boyish beginnings, and boyish terminations. When a Persian minister was advising his monarch not to wage war for the sake of a province, which would never be of any service to him, the king replied, “ It certainly is of no
use ; but it is an ornament !” And when Nadir Shah, who was of low origin, claimed for his son a princess of the house of Delhi, he was required to give his pedigree for seven generations. Nadir said to his ambassador, “ Tell them that my son is the son of Nadir Shah ; the son of the Sword ; the grandson of the sword; the great-grandson of the sword; and thus continue, till you have claimed a descent not only of seven generations, but seventy.” As to modern wars ! They are as vulgar and as pitiful in their origin as all the rest.
Lord Kaimes—for the most part so wise and so intelligent,—has a reflection curiously wild and mischievous. “ Perpetual war is bad,” says his lordship; “because it converts men into beasts of prey. Perpetual peace is worse, because it converts them into beasts of burden.” What a monstrous position is this ! A position to which his lordship seems to have been seduced merely for the sake of forming a sonorous climax. No! Bad as it is to be a beast of burden, it is better, far better, to be a beast of burden, than a beast of prey. At least, such a beast of prey as man is, when he becomes such. But perpetual peace has no such crime to answer for. In Europe, perpetual peace has never yet been tried : where it has, as among the Loo-choos, the result has been not less fortunate to the inhabitants, than it is beautiful to the imaginations of those who never have enjoyed it. But the time seems to be approaching, though in a complicated line, in which admiration for warlike enterprise will melt into vapour, like the bubble, which excited it. The world may yet constitute one great vineyard : hence warriors may meditate with awe and repentance, when they reflect that Alya, after murdering many thousands, received his only sustenance, at the close of life, from the breast of a woman !
HEROES AND LITERATI.
In the estimate of the happiness, which attends others, we are too apt to judge of its effects by the standard of our own feelings ; and to consider that man happy or miserable, who dissents, or complies, with our tastes, our manners, and our opinions. Admirably was it observed by Epictetus, that we ought not to consider, who is prince, or who is mendicant, but who acts the prince or beggar best. To those, whose unbounded desires have never been curbed by prudence or virtue, how vain will appear the philosophic spirit of Adrian, who calculated those years, which he passed at the Villa Adriana, as only belonging to life ; or that of Corcutus, son of Bajazet the Second. Upon the death of Mahomet, Corcutus was, by the unanimous consent of the army and nobility, elected, after various struggles, in preference to his father. Upon Bajazet's arrival at Constantinople, however, he resigned the imperial purple, and retired, with a yearly pension, to the government of the delightful provinces of Lycia, Caria, and Ionia, where he lived, free and content, in the quiet studies of philosophy. “ I esteem it,” said he, in an oration to his father, “ unbecoming the resolution of a calm and settled mind, to pant for those worldly possessions ; when, in the sweet meditations of heavenly things, my ravished mind is feasted with objects of far more worth and majesty, than all the kingdoms and monarchies in the world.”
And now, my Lelius, perhaps you will pardon á few remarks upon the comparative pretensions of those men, who have the power of acquiring for themselves a splendid immortality ;-statesmen, heroes, and literati ! Of these, the two first are dependent on the last for their eternity; the last are dependent only on themselves. For who would have heard of Grecian, or of Roman heroes and statesmen, had such men as Herodotus and Thucydides never existed; or if there had
not been a Polybius, a Sallust, a Livy, or a Tacitus ? Illustrious deeds lose half their value, unless they are recorded by men, who can give them life and remembrance. When we meditate on the memories of Charles of Spain and Frederic of Prussia ; or on the names of Suwarrow and Napoleon, with what disgust do we trace their routes by the stains of purple, whịch discolour the fields ! And with what horror do we recognize their effigies, by hearts cased with mail ; eyes prominent with military lust ; and ears, fingers, and bosoms, dropping with blood! The outcast, who beheaded Mary of Scotland, was not so vile, so worthless, and detestable.
Statesmen-essenced warriors!—Men, who, gliding through an avenue of courtiers, frequently palsy the energies of a whole people; and with all the cowardice of security, devote provinces to destruction with a stroke of the pen; and depopulate whole nations without drawing a sword! I speak not of such men as Solon, Sully, Bernstorff, Colbert, or Chatham ; men, who, having a beauty and a grandeur in all their sentiments, were the pride of their respective nations, and the glory of the whole earth !— But of * * of * * and of * *
When we speak, or think, of such men as these, (for the weakness of human nature permits us not to guard our thoughts against sometimes thinking of such men, any more than our eyes are privileged against disgusting objects in the streets), our thoughts wear the character of disgraceful uniformity. The same moral disgust affects us, whether we speak of Catharine of Russia, or Catharine de Medicis ;of John of England, Alva of Spain, or Philip of France. Associating Cæsar with Borgia, * * * with Sejanus, and *** with Alvarez de Luna, who would not prefer the silence of the most obscure hamlet of the Hebrides, to the ignominious immortality of such creatures as these? Men and women, towards whom history will operate as a perpetual