Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

life, attracted the enthusiastic love of two very young wives in succession ; first, of Julia, the daughter of Cæsar, and, after her death, of Cornelia, the widow of young Publius Crassus. His devoted attachment to them both was looked upon as almost a fault by the Romans; and this is the man whom Mr. Merivale calls cold-hearted, and too cold in temperament to have been unchaste !

But his total freedom from avarice, his 'sanctity,' and his great forbearance in the provinces, are not to be omitted. Space forces us to be satisfied with one splendid eulogium from Cicero:

• Who knows not what calamity our armies carry everywhere with them, by reason of the avarice of the commanders ? More cities of our enemies are not destroyed by the weapons of our troops, than states of our allies by their wintering. Do we wonder that Pompeius so excels all other men, when his legions, passing through Asia, left no trace of mischief on any peaceable person ? In their winter quarters, not only is no one compelled, but no one, who even wishes it, is allowed to incur expenses for his soldiers. The swiftness of his career is not due to new winds or miraculous oars ; but it is because no avarice can bait him, no intrigue can seduce him, no pleasure can divert him. While others carry off by violence the beautiful statutes and pictures of Greece, Pompeius refuses to set his eyes on them. Men therefore in those parts look on him as one sent down from heaven, and at length believe that there once did exist self-restraint in Roman generals. His fidelity to his engagements is accounted sacred by enemies of every nation ; and his humanity is such, that it is hard to say whether combatants more fear his valour, or the conquered more love his mildness.'Pro Lege Manilia, sec. 38, fc.

All this would have been a bitter satire if Mr. Merivale's account of Pompeius's character were not totally and diametrically false.

It is sickening to read Mr. Merivale's perpetual tale of Pompeius's jealousy, dissimulation, intrigue, craft, desire to embroi] affairs, unscrupulousness, yet irresolution in seizing power, with his gratuitous comparisons of him to Sulla. We allow and deplore that during the whole period of his union with Cæsar he acted foolishly and basely ; basely towards Cicero, foolishly towards others. But neither is this union rightly explained by Mr. Merivale. When Pompeius was returning from the Mithridatic war, the report of Catilina's formidable plot made him desire to be employed on the side of the state to suppress this new danger; and he sent Metellus Nepos to Rome, in order to promote this end. There was nothing reprehensible in this. Metellus, however, acted with extreme violence, and was thwarted only by equal violence on the part of Cato and another tribune. But Pompeius, on learning that Catilina was slain, and the war finished, behaved with such admirable moderation and fidelity, that (as Mr. Merivale admits), such men as Lucullus, Hortensius, Bibulus, and their whole party, only despised him for it; and hence his misfortunes. He could not get his acts confirmed, or his soldiers rewarded ; and until the former object was attained, ruin impended over him. Thus he was against his will forced into dishonourable alliances.

When Pompeius had broken loose from Cæsar, his conduct was not indeed such as Cato could applaud, but neither does it seem to deserve the censure bestowed upon it. He exerted himself vigorously to put down violence in Rome. He disarmed the gladiatorial bands, by which his life, as that of Cicero and of many others, had been often threatened. He held the public trials, and passed many useful laws. He is derided, indeed, as the 'breaker of his own laws,' because he tried to shelter his father-in-law Scipio and his friend Plancus; a weakness of which every man in Rome except Cato would have been equally guilty. As to the exception in his own favour, by which he was to be allowed to hold Spain for five years, we entirely justify it. Pompeius Magnus was an exceptive man. He, and only he, had laid down supreme power voluntarily, when the temptation to keep it would have been irresistible to meaner souls. The conduct of Cæsar showed that he was dangerous to the statePompeius was notoriously not dangerous. To this infinite chasm between the two men, Mr. Merivale is utterly blind, and repeats as truth the parrot-cry of Cæsar, that the whole question lay between Pompeius and him. Nay, but between the state and Cæsar. While Pompeius retained office, the state could always rally to one who had been proved, and might be trusted. If he had not exempted himself from his own law, the state would have had no chance against Cæsar's armies. And, in fact, the fault of Pompeius was the very opposite—that he was too slow to arm against this fatal danger.

It makes us indignant when Mr. Merivale so often contrasts Pompeius unfavourably to Sulla or to Cæsar, in his shrinking from large and decisive measures—in his want of comprehensiveness of views and vigour in execution. What else does, or can, this mean, than that Pompeius did not choose to overthrow the liberties of his country under pretence of reform ; and knew that no evil in detail was so great as the destruction of the institutions, out of which all the eminence of Rome had sprung? Because he would not become an unscrupulous and audacious usurper, he is taunted with not knowing the use of power, and not daring to execute his hidden designs. But he had no hidden

designs. He desired to serve his country, publicly and honourably, not to subvert it.

Pompeius the Great, on whom the last hopes of Roman freedom turned, perhaps could not have materially benefited the empire, if he had been victorious. We murmur not against Providence for his fall; nevertheless we honour and mourn over his virtues, as far beyond those of any other general of antiquity, celebrated so early in life, and so long eminently prosperous.

[ocr errors]

ART. VIII.— Three Essays : The Reunion and Recognition of Christian

in the Life to come The right Love of Creatures and of the CreatorChristian Conversation. By John Sheppard, Author of Thoughts

on Private Devotion,' &c. London: Jackson and Walford. We welcome this little volume with pleasure, as a return of the respected author to themes more congenial to his powers than those which have lately occupied his pen. His Christian Consolations, and · Thoughts on Private Devotion,' have long been highly and deservedly valued, by a large class of refined and sensitive minds. For ministering to such a class of minds, Mr. Sheppard's peculiar cast of thought and expression give him remarkable fitness. A rougher and more masculine energy would shock, a more theological and doctrinal presentation of truth would repel them; more philosophical and wider generalizations would leave them unaffected; but the appeals, pointed and direct, yet always winning and persuasive, the illustrations, always elegant, and often forcible, with which his writings abound, lay hold of and detain them. Our religious literature has no better example of the force of gentleness. We remember to have heard his productions described as those of a female Foster. There is, indeed, much similarity in the freshness and originality of his thoughts to those of his illustrious friend. The rough gnarled strength of the one is, however, in the other supplanted by an almost feminine

grace

and delicacy. The one grapples with and holds you as in the grasp of a giant; the other detains you as surely, but it is by the gentle hand and loving touch of woman. The one is the grip of Ajax, the other the embrace of Andromache ; and many, as Hector, struggle in the former but yield to the latter. It has been, therefore, with regret that we have seen the author's later efforts, we will not

say wasted, but at least unprofitably directed, to ephemeral productions and uncongenial themes; and it is with equal satisfaction that we welcome his return to subjects which he is so admirably and peculiarly fitted to discuss.

The first and longest of these essays is devoted to a consideration of the reunion and recognition of Christians in the life to come;' a subject of profound and universal interest, yet one which has received little attention in our literature. Except a volume by Mr. Muston, we know of nothing specially directed to an investigation of this question; and there can be no stronger proof of the interest felt in this inquiry, than the fact, that a book diluted to the utmost degree of feebleness, spun out to the farthest extent of attenuation, as is Mr. Muston's, should have gone through four or five editions. Nor is this interest unnatural, How eagerly is every scrap of information concerning the various districts of colonization caught up and devoured by those whose relatives and friends have emigrated, and especially if the inquirer be in the prospect of speedily following their example, and rejoining them in their new home. Minutiæ which would otherwise be disregarded as too trivial for a moment's thought, are anxiously inquired into and remembered. And should á suspicion be breathed that our former friends, in their present prosperity, have forgotten us, and will greet us on our arrival with no welcome, nor even recognise our once familiar faces, with what anxiety and solicitude should we inquire into the grounds for such a notion! How changed would our feelings be toward that land, which had the power thus to alter them, until the suspicion had been removed, and the aspersion cleared away! Who has not lost a friend? To whom is not that 'land that is very far off' an object of profoundest interest, seeing that the friends he once loved on earth now dwell there? Who does not hope to see that land' himself, and that on his tomb, as on Albert Durer's, 'emigravit' shall be inscribed ? To each one, then, every inquiry into its modes of life and enjoyment must be a pleasing-theme. How much more interesting when the suspicion is breathed that our former friends have forgotten uswill fail to recognise and welcome us! The decision of this question seems necessary to our full enjoyment of the consolations which even the assurance of immortality can impart. It is something to know that our departed friends still live, and are still happy. But this belief can do little to console, if we regard them as dead to us, and lost for ever. How cheerless comparatively would be the prospect of our own decease, and the hopes of our own immortality, if we expect to enter the heavenly country as utter strangers, and to spend eternity in loneliness and isolation! With what different feelings should

we anticipate our departure, if we had the conviction that our friends who have preceded us await our coming with earnest longings, stand ready to bid us welcome, and to lead us by the river of the water of life up to the throne of God! The reunion and recognition of the spirits of the just made perfect is then no abstract speculation—no mere theoretical disquisition, but one of deep, personal interest. We therefore deem this admirable essay a very valuable acquisition to our religious literature.

The essay is prefaced by a preliminary chapter, designed to prove that the belief of a future life is inseparably involved in all real theism. The argument is ingeniously conceived and conducted; and is, on the whole, satisfactory, though not perhaps conclusive. Our limits will only permit a brief statement of it. The lowest idea, it is urged, which any true theist can hold of the Deity is, that his attributes of wisdom, power, and goodness, if not absolutely infinite, do yet immensely surpass the same attributes in the creature. Now, every truly benevolent man would assuredly prolong, perpetuate, and perfect the holiness and happiness of his fellow-men, if it were in his power to do so. His heart's desire and prayer for them is, that they may become faultless and immortal. The effort of every Christian philanthropist is, to give realization to these wishes. There have been many men, the sole aim of whose lives, the highest ambition and aspiration of whose hearts, have been to realize these blessings in and for themselves and their fellowmen. Now, to suppose that the Creator will not grant accomplishment to these desires and endeavours, is to assume, either that no such idea of the creature's highest destiny has presented itself to the Creator's mind; or that, having presented itself, he is not willing to give it objective reality; or, that being willing, he is not able to do so. The first supposition is, of course, at once rejected, as equally impious and absurd. We are then left to the old Epicurean dilemma in reference to moral evil— Aut vult sed non potest, aut potest sed non vult.' That he cannot, is a supposition scarcely less absurd than the one already rejected --since it is admitted that he created the human mind, and preservation involves far less of difficulty than does creation. He who breathed into man the breath of life, can, if it please him, prolong that life beyond the brief limits of three score years and ten. The only remaining supposition is, that he will not. But, surely no true theist would admit that the benevolence of the Divine Benefactor is less than that of the human philan. thropist. This would be to elevate Peter and Paul, and the long train of Christian labourers and martyrs, above Him 'who is God over all, blessed for ever more.' It is to assert that what they have lived and died to accomplish, He who is alone able is

« FöregåendeFortsätt »