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ments to the idle, who have scarcely left behind them a coin or a stone, which has not been examined and explained a thousand times, and whose dress, and food, and houshold stuff, it has been the pride of learning to understand.
A man need not fear to incur the imputation of vicious diffidence or affected humility, who should have forborn to promile many novelties, when he perceived such multitudes of writers pofseffed of the same materials, and intent upon the same purpose. Mr. Blackwell knows well the opinion of Horace, concerning those that open their undertakings with magnificent promises ; and he knows likewise the dictates of common fense and common honesty, names of greater authority than that of Horace, who direct that no man should promise what he cannot perform.
I do not mean to declare that this volume has nothing new, or that the labours of those who have gone before our author, have made his performance an useless addition to the burden of literature. New works may be conftructed with old materials, the disposition of the parts may shew contrivance, the ornaments interspersed may discover elegance.
It is not always ithout good effect that men of proper qualifications write in succession on the same subject, even wlien the latter add nothing to the infor. mation given by the former; for the same ideas may be delivered more intelligibly or more delightfully by one than by another, or with attractions that may lure minds of a different form. No writer pleases all, and every writer may please fome.
But after all, to inserit is not to acquire; to decorate is not to make; and the man who had no
thing to do but to read the ancient authors, who mention thc Roman affairs, and reduce them to common-places, ought not to boast himself as a great benefactor to t' ftudious world.
After a preface of boast, and a letter of flattery, in which he seems to imitate the address of Horace in his vile potabis modicis Sabinum-he opens his book with telling us, that the “ Roman republic, .“ after the horrible proscription, was no more at " bleeding Rome. The regal power of her consuls, “ the authority of her senate, and the majesty of “ her people, were now trampled under foot; these
[for those] divine laws and hallowed customs, that “ had been the essence of her conftitution--were set « at nought, and her best friends were lying exposed “ in their blood.”
These were surely very dismal times to those who suffered ; but I know not why any one but a schoolboy in his declamation should whine over the commonwealth of Rome, which grew great only by the misery of the rest of mankind. The Romans, like others, as soon as they grew rich grew corrupt, and, in their corruption, fold the lives and freedoms of themselves, and of one another.
“ About this time Brutus had his patience put “ to the highest trial : he had been married to Clodia; “ but whether the family did not please bim, or 56 whether he was diffatisfied with the lady's be“ haviour during his absence, he foon entertained “ thoughts of a separation. This raised a good deal “ of talk, and the women of the Clodian family in“ veighed bitterly against Brutus—but he married “ Portia, who was worthy of such a father as M. VOL. II.
“ Cato, and such a husband as M. Brutus. She had “ a soul capable of an exalted passion, and found a “ proper object to raise and give it a sanction; she
did not only love but adored her husband; his “ worth, his truth, his every shining and heroic “ quality, made her gaze on him like a god, while “ the endearing returns of esteem and tenderness the « met with, brought her joy, her pride, her every “ wish to centre in her beloved Brutus."
When the reader has been awakened by this rap. turous preparation, he hears the whole story of Portia in the same luxuriant style, till she breathed out her last, a little before the bloody proscription, and “ Brutus “ complained heavily of his friends at Rome, as not “ having paid due attention to his Lady in the declin« ing state of her health."
He is a great lover of modern terms. His fenators and their wives are Gentlemen and Ladies. In this review of Brutus's army, who was under the command of gallant men, not braver officers, than trile patriots, he tells us, “ that Sextus the Queftor was “ Paymaster, Secretary at War, and Commissary General, « and that the sacred discipline of the Romans required “ the closest connection, like that of father and son, to “ fubfist between the General of an army and his Quef“ tor. Cicero was General of the Gavalry, and the next “ general officer was Flavius, Master of the Artillery, “ the elder Lentulus was Admiral, and the younger rode “ in the Band of Volunteers; under these the tribunes, “ with many others too tedious to name." Lentulus, however, was but a subordinate officer; for we are informed afterwards, that the Romans had made Sextus Pompeius Lord High Admiral in all the feas of their dominions.
Among other affectations of this writer is a furious and unnecessary zeal for liberty, or rather for one form of government as preferable to another. This indeed might be suffered, because political inftitution is a subject in which men have always differed, and if they continue to obey their lawful governors, and attempt not to make innovations for the sake of their favourite schemes, they may differ for ever without any just reproach from one another. But who can bear the hardy champion who ventures nothing? who in full security undertakes the defence of the assassination of Cæsar, and declares his resolution to speak plain? Yet let not just sentiments be overlooked: he has justly observed, that the greater part of mankind will be naturally prejudiced against Brutus, for all feel the benefits of private friendship; but few can discern the advantages of a well-constituted government.
We know not whether some apology may not be necessary for the distance between the first account of this book and its continuation. The truth is, that this work not being forced upon our attention by much publick applause or censure, was sometimes neg. lected, and sometimes forgotten ; nor would it, perhaps, have been now resumed, but that we might avoid to disappoint our readers by an abrupt desertion of any subject.
It is not our design to criticise the facts of this history, but the style; not the veracity, but the ad. dress of the writer; for, an account of the ancient Romans, as it cannot nearly interest any present reader, and must be drawn from writings that have been long known, can owe its value only to the language in
which it is delivered, and the reflections with which it is accompanied. Dr. Blackwell, however, seems to have heated his imagination so as to be much affected with every event, and to believe that he can affect others. Enthusiasm is indeed sufficiently contagious; but I never found any of his readers inuch enamoured of the glorious Pompey, the patriot approv'd, or much incensed against the lawless Cæfar, whom this author probably stabs every day and night in his sleeping or waking dreams.
He is come too late into the world with his fury for freedom, with his Brutus and Cassius. We have all on this side of the Tweed long since settled our opinions : his zeal for Roman liberty and declamations against the violators of the republican constitution, only stand now in the reader's way, who wishes to proceed in the narrative without the interruption of epithets and exclamations. It is not easy to forbear laughter at a man so bold in fighting shadows, so busy in a dispute two thousand years past, and so zealous for the honour of a people who while they were poor robbed mankind, and as foon as they became rich, robbed one another. Of thesc robberies our author seems to have no very quick sense, except when they are committed by Cefar's party, for every act is santified by the name of a patriot.
If this author's skill in ancient literature were less generally acknowledged, one might sometimes sufpect that he had too frequently consulted the French writers. He tells us that Archelaus the Rhotian made a speech to Cossius, and in so saying dropt some tears, and that Callius after the reduction of Rhodes . 9