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triumph over the iEqui, or his immediate abdication of the dictatorship (when he could be of no farther public service), and stealing away from the acclamations of his fellow-citizens, to manure his little farm, and cheer his lovely Racilia, to whom in his absence he had committed the care of it? Whether he might not appear as great, when seated on an humble turf he decided a difference among his neighbour-peasants, and restored peace to a poor family, as when seated on the high tribunal of Rome, and vested with uncontroulable authority, he gave law and peace to half the world.
These renowned worthies (Aratus would observe) when they conquered nations, saved their country, and triumphed over its enemies, did that which was great indeed! Nevertheless many others have equalled them in this. But when they conquered themselves; when they saved their bitterest enemies; when they triumphed over poverty, and would not stoop to gather gold, diadems and kingdoms, for their own private emolument;—they did that in which they have had but few equals.
By contrasts like these, and questions frequently asked, I have known Aratus labour to form and improve our notions of true greatness. By laying before us those bright examples of public virtue, who managed the treasures and filled the most eminent posts of their country with unsullied integrity; who conquered the most opulent kingdoms without adding a single drachm to their private fortune; and, whenever their country's service did not require their immediate presence, descended voluntarily from the command of mankind to manure a few private acres, and trace the divine wisdom in the works of nature; —I say by laying such bright examples as these before us, he led us naturally to this conclusion
That nothing can be honourable but integrity and the approbation of good men; nothing shameful but vice and communion with the bad; nothing necessary but our duty; nothing great and comfortable but the conscientious discharge of it; and that true glory does not consist in breathing the fiery spirit of war, and thirsting eagerly after dominion; but in delighting to see the world happy and unalarmed, in fervently striving to promote this happiness, in cultivating the arts of peace, encouraging agriculture and manufactures, educating children aright as the rising hopes of the state, and serving God in tranquillity of mind and purity of heart. History shews that none but those who acted thus, have either been happy in their life, or esteemed after their death.
I shall only mention one advantage more proposed from this philosophical review of the history of mankind; namely, that to behold the dreadful effects of tyranny and religious imposture in other countries, and the numberless scenes of great and real distress to be met with in their history, not only teaches the youth to set a just value on the British constitution, and that glorious plan of civil and religious liberty which it secures to us, but also tends more to humanize the breast and to purge and regulate the affections, than all the imaginary distress of the best conducted drama.
In this concluding lecture, Aratus, ever fervent, seemed animated with more than ordinary warmth. After a thorough survey of that servitude and wretchedness under which the far greater part of the human species groans—"Turn w:e, my dear friends (he would say),turn we from these unhappy regions, that present nothing to the view but scenes of the most complicated misery, and whose history is little else but the history of human violence and human wickedness, however disguised by names and sanctified by custom! Let us cast our eyes homewards, on more joyous prospects ;—a land of liberty; life and property secure; a people busy to improve their unprecarious fortune; cities teeming with wealth; commerce extended as far as winds blow and waters roll; every gale and tide wafting riches into port, and bearing forth the fruits of industry in fair exchange; arts and letters flourishing; religion pure and uncorrupted; the lowest sons of labour glad; the very earth delighting to reward their toils, and the sun shedding on it his choicest beams—while above all, a king who is the common father of his people (and as such reigning in their hearts) is seen watching over this happy constitution even with a patriot's zeal; and using every generous effort to rescue the wretched of other climes from slavery, and to place them also in the lap of Freedom to enjoy the same unspeakable happiness! 0 nomen dulce libertatis! 0 jus eximium nostree civitatis! Oh! how delightful the name of liberty! How transcendent the prerogatives of the community to which we belong! Happy you, my dear friends! and thrice happy, who are now going to be enrolled active members of that very society, in which, above all those you have read of in the volumes of story, you would have chosen to live and to die, if the choice had been now left to you! Oh then I let nothing ever deter you from acting a part worthy of the knowledge you have received, and worthy of the inestimable privileges you are now called to enjoy! If there be any thing on earth that deserves your attention, and is suited to the native greatness of the human mind, it must be—"To assert the cause of religion and truth; to support the fundamental rights and liberties of mankind; and to strive for a constitution like this—a government by known laws, not by the arbitrary decisions of frailimpassioned Men!"
Thus have I given you a brief sketch of the method of teaching the sciences and inculcating natural religion and virtue in this seminary. There is only one thing wanting to complete the whole; namely, the study of revealed religion. And forthis purpose the Sunday evenings are set apart through the year, when a lecture is read in all the higher classes on the fundamental principles of our common Christianity; this being all that my countrymen can mix with their public plan of education, as well on account of the various religiouspersuasions subsisting among them, as the various professions for which the youth are designed. As for those who are intended for the sacred office of the ministry, private opportunities are given them for studying their own particular systems of theology under such of the masters as are of their own persuasion. For though the Principal is a clergyman of the established religion, which was thought Vol. i. 5 F
but a reasonable compliment to the constitution of the country, it was nevertheless found expedient to leave the other offices open to men of any other protestant denomination. And it is a truly edifying sight to behold, in this instance, to what an amiable height the divine virtues of charity and forbearance may be carried, upon the Christian principles, by men blest with an enlarged and liberal turn of mind!
And now, my friend, continued Evander, by this time I hope you are fully satisfied, that the study of Religion, both natural and revealed, enters sufficiently into the plan of this seminary. For surely, when such care, as is above mentioned, is taken through the week, to embrace every opportunity of laying a foundation of natural religion and goodness, the great truths of Christianity cannot fail of a favourable reception on the Sundays, whether they come from the masters in the evening classes, or from the pulpit in the time of divine service.
Easy and delightful must the task of the clergy be, when, by the regulations of society, the whole instructors of youth go thus hand in hand with them in advancing the interests of virtue and piety! Happy, continued Evander, (his face brightening with a laudable fondness for his country) happy are the people that are in such a case! What can we figure to ourselves more noble than the whole wisdom of a community, thus using every human effort to train up and secure to the state a succession of good citizens to the latest generations? What can we conceive more lovely than the youth of a country thus collected into one great school of virtue, and striving, in the