Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

tor. But, says Horace, we do not live thus at Mæ-
cenas's. Never was house more removed from such
mean sentiments than his, nor a purer and more no-
ble manner of living any where practised. The merit
and credit of one never gives offence to another.
Every one has his place, and is content with it.

Non isto vivimus illic,
Quo tu rere, modo. Domus hâc nec purior ulla est,
Nec magis his aliena malis. Nil mi officit unquam,
Ditior hic, aut est quia doctior. Est locus uni
Cuique suus [01].

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

III. TO SACRIFICE HIS OWN REPUTATION FOR

THE GOOD OF THE PUBLIC.

[ocr errors][merged small]

[o] There are some occasions, in which an honest man isobliged to sacrifice his reputation to preserve his virtue; to give up his glory for a time, that he may not part with his conscience, and march with a firm resolution where duty calls him amidst reproach and infamy, by courageously despising the contemptthrown upon him. Nothing is a greater sign of a steady adherence to virtue, than a sacrifice so generous, and at the same time so repugnant to human nature.

[p] Plutarch observes that Pericles, at a time when all the citizens were crying out against him, and blaming his conduct, like an able pilot, who in a storm regards only the rules of his art for saving the ship, and overlooks the cries, lamentations and prayers of all around him; that Pericles, I say, after having taken all possible precaution for the security of the state, pursued his own scheme, without troubling himself about the murmurs, complainings, threats, injurious bal

toler

ander : 1172

COIN

violat

[n] Horat. Sat. 6. lib. i. tiam perderet. Senec. Ep. 81.

[0] Æquissimo animo ad ho- Æquo animo audienda sunt im. nestum consilium per mediam infa- peritorum convicia, & ad honesta miam tendam. Nemo hi videtur vadenti contemnendus est iste conpluris æstimare virtutem, nemo illi temptus. Id. Ep. 76. magis esse devotus, quàm qui boni ] In Vit, Perici. viri famam perdidit, ne conscien

lads,

fjall

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

lads, railleries, insults, and accusations thrown out against hiin.

[9] It was a good piece of advice the wise Fabius gave to the consul Paulus Æmilius, as he was setting out for the army. He exhorted him to despise the railleries and unjust reproaches of his colleague, to be above any reports that might be raised to his prejudice, and disregard all the pains that might be taken to disgrace or dishonour hinn.

Fabius himself acted in the same manner in the war against Hannibal, and saved the commonwealth. Notwithstanding the great insult he received from Minucius, he rescued him from the hands of lannibal, [r] setting aside his resentment, and consulting only his zeal for the public good.

These examples are well known, but are scarce followed by any body in these days. Men are not attached to the state by any real ties; they often serve the public out of a view to their private interest. Upon the least disgust they quit the service; and this disgust is often founded upon a false notion of honour, which takes offence at a very just preference. There are few who talk and think like the Lacedæmonian, that seeing himself left out of the new-erected council, said, he was overjoyed to find there were three hundred better men in the city than hinself.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

IV. WHEREIN SOLID GLORY AND REAL GREAT

NESS CONSIST.

[ocr errors]

Whatever is external to a man, whatever may be common to good or bad, does not make him truly estimable. We must judge of men by the heart. Fron thence proceed great designs, great actions, great virtues. Solid Glory, which cannot be initated by pride, nor equalled by pomp, resides in personal qualifica

ETS C alas

ap upu

[9] Liv. lib. 22. n. 74.

publicam, dolorem ultionemque sel'1 Habuit in consilio fortunam posuit. Senec.lib. 1. de Ira, cap. 11.

tions

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

tions and noble sentiments. To be good, liberal, beneticent, and generous; to value riches only for the sake of distributing them, places of honour for the service of our country, power and credit to be in a condition to suppress vice, and reward virtue; to be really good without seeking to appear so; to bear poverty nohly, to suffer injuries and affronts with patience, to stifle resentment, and to do every good office to an enemy when we have it in our power to be revenged of him; to prefer the public good to every thing, to sacrifice our wealth, repose, life, and fame, if necessary to it; these make a man truly great and estimable.

Take away probity from the most shining actions, the most valuable qualities, and what are they but objects of contempt? Are the drunkenness of Alexander, the murder of his best friends, his insatiable thirst of praise and flattery, and his vanity in desiring to pass for the son of Jupiter, [s] though he did not believe it himself; are these consistent with the character of a great prince. When we see Marius, and after him Sylla, shedding torrents of Roman blood for the establishment of their own power, what regard can we pay their victories and triumphs?

On the other hand, when we hear the emperor Titus utter that celebrated expression [t] Ny friends, I have lost a day, because he had done good to nobody; [u] and another, upon being pressed to sign awarrantforexecution, saying I wish I could not write; or the emperor Theodosius, after having set the prisoners at liberty on an Easter-day, I'ould to God I could also open the graves, and give life to the dead. When we see a young Scipio courageously surmounting a passion, which subdues almost all mankind; and upon another occasion giving lectures of continence and wisdom to a young prince, who had swerved from

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

[s] Omnes, inquit Alexander, [t] Amici, diem perdidi. Suet
jurant me Jovis esse filium; sed in Vit. Tit. n. 8.
vulnus hoc hominem me esse cla- [u] Vellem nescire literas. Se

nec. I. 2. de Clem.
VOL. 11.
т

his

mat.

Senec. Ep. 99.

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

his duty; when we sec a tribune of the people, a declared enemy of this Scipio's, loudly to take upon hinz his defence against the unjust accusers, who had conspired his destruction ; [.2) and lastly, when we read in history any actions of liberality, generosity, disinterestedness, clemency, or forgetfulness of injuries, is it in our power to deny them our esteem and admiration, and do we not still find ourselves affected after so many ages with the bare recital of them?

Our history supplies us with abundance of beautiful expressions and actions of our kings, and many other great men, which shew us plainly wherein true Grandeur and solid Glory consist.

If sincerity and truth were banished the rest of the earth, [y] said John I. king of France, when solicited to break a treaty, they ought to be found in the heart and mouth of kings.

It belongs not, [3] says Lewis XII. to a courtier, who pressed him to punish a person that offended him before he came to the throne, it belongs not to the king of France to revenge the injuries done to the duke of Orleans.

[a] Francis I. after the battle of Pavia, wrote a letter to the regent his mother in these few words, Mladam, all is lost but our honour. This was to think and write like a king indeed, who in comparison of his honour makes light of every thing beside.

[b] And when shameful conditions were demanded of him for his liberty, he ordered the emperor's agent to let his master know, that he was resolved rather to spend all his days in prison, than dismember his dominions; and to add, that though he should be so base as to do it, he was sure his subjects would never consent to it.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

[x] Quis est tam dissimilis ho- cognoscimus ? Cic. 1..5. de fin. n.
mini, qui non moveatur & offensi- 62.
one turpitudinis, & comprobatione [y] Mezerai.
honestatis!. . . . An obliviscamur

[2] Ibid.
quantopere in audiendo legendoque [a] P. Daniel.
moveamur, cùm piè, cùin amicè, [6] Ibid.
eùm magno animo aliquid factum

1

عم

"G PI

Lag

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

.

[c] Instead of bearing ill-will to Francis de Montelon, who was the only lawyer of his time that ventured to plead in favour of Charles de Bourbon against Francis I. and Louisa of Savoy his mother, he valued him the more for it, made him attorney-general, then president au Mortier, and at last keeper of the seals.

[d] As Henry IV. was reproached with the little power he had in Rochelle, I do, says he, in that town whatever I please, by doing only what I qught.

Our magistrates, upon several occasions, have given proof of what [e] Tully says in his offices, that there is a domestic and private courage of no less value than military valour. [f] Achilles de Harlai, premier president, being threatened by the seditious with an immediate capital punishment, (these are the authors terms) I have neither head nor life, says he, which I prefer to the love of God, the service of my king, and the good of my country. On the day of the barricade, he gave no other answer to the injurious threatnings of the authors of the league, than these commendable words; My soul is God's, my heart the king's, and my body in the hands of violent men to do with it what they please. [s]When Bussy le Clerc had the boldness to enter the grand-chamber, and read the list of those he said he had orders to arrest, and named the premier president and ten or twelve more, all the rest of the company rose up, and generousy followed them to the Bastile.

It is well known that the premier president Molé, in a popular insurrection, without any dread of losing his life, went and showed himself to the populace, and put a stop to the mutiny by his single presence.

It is of him that cardinal de Retz writes thus in his memoirs, « If it were not a kind of blasphemy to say " there is one in our age more intrepid than the great "Gustavus, and M. le Prince, I would say it was the " premier president Molé.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

[c) Ste Marthe liv. 5. de ses non inferiores militaribus. Offic, Eloges.

1. I. n. 18. [4] Hist. d'Aubigné.

If] Histoire des Prem. Pres. [c] Sunt domesticæ fortitudines, [&] Mezerai. T2

This

« ZurückWeiter »