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stand not fully at the first, we may dwell on it till we find the secret force and excellence. That which cures the manners by alterative physic, as I said before, must proceed by insensible degrees; but that which purges the passions must do its business all at once, or wholly fail of its effect, at least in the present operation, and without repeated doses. We must beat the iron while it is hot; but we may polish it at leisure. Thus, my lord, you pay the fine of my forgetfulness ; and yet the merits of both causes are where they were, and undecided, till you declare whether it be more for the benefit of mankind to have their manners in general corrected, or their pride and hard-heartedness removed.
I must now come closer to my present business, and not think of making more invasive wars abroad, when, like Hannibal, I am called back to the defence of my own country. Virgil is attacked by many enemies : he has a whole confederacy against him; and I must endeavor to defend him as well as I am able. But their principal objections being against his moral, the duration or length of time taken up in the action of the poem, and what they have to urge against the manners of his hero; I shall omit the rest as mere cavils of grammarians ; at the worst, but casual slips of a great man's pen, or inconsiderable faults of an admirable poem, which the author had not leisure to review before his death. Macrobius has answered what the ancients could urge against him; and some things I have lately read in Tanneguy le Fevre, Valois, and another whom I name not, which are scarce worth answering. They begin with the moral of his poem, which I have elsewhere confessed, and still must own, not to be so noble as that of Homer. But let both be fairly stated ; and, without contradicting my first opinion, I can show that Virgil's was as useful to the Romans of his age, as Homer's was to the Grecians of his, in what time soever he may he supposed to have lived and fiorished. Homer's moral was to urge the necessity of union, and of a good understanding betwixt confederate states and princes engaged in a war with a mighty monarch ; as also of discipline in an army, and obedience in the several chiefs to the supreme commander of the joint forces. To inculcate this, he sets forth the ruinous effects of discord in the camp of those allies, occasioned by the quarrel betwixt the general and one of the next in office under him. Agamemnon gives the provocation, and Achilles resents the injury. Both parties are faulty in the quarrel ; and accordingly they are both punished : the aggressor is forced to sue for peace to his inferior on dishonorable conditions : the deserter refuses the satisfaction offered ; and his obstinacy costs him his best friend. This works the natural effect of choler, and turns his rage against him by whom he was last affronted, and most sensibly. The greater anger expels the less; but his character is still preserved. In the mean time the Grecian army receives loss on loss, and is half destroyed by a pestilence into the bargain.
Quidquid delirant reges, plectuntur Achivi. As the poet, in the first part of the example, had shown the bad effects of discord, so, after the reconcilement, he gives the good effects of unity : for Hector is slain, and then Troy must fall. By this, it is probable that Homer lived when the Median monarchy was grown formidable to the Grecians, and that the joint endeavors of his countrymen were little enough to preserve their common freedom from an encroaching enemy. Such was his moral, which all critics have allowed to be more noble than that of Virgil, though not adapted to the times in which the Roman poet lived. Had Virgil florished in the age of Ennius, and addressed to Scipio, he had probably taken the same moral, or some other not unlike it : for then the Romans were in as much danger from the Carthaginian commonwealth as the Grecians were from the Assyrian or Median monarchy. But we are to consider him as writing his poem in a time when the old form of government was subverted, and a new one just established by Octavius Cæsar; in effect by force of arms, but seemingly by the consent of the Roman people. The commonwealth bad received a deadly wound in the former civil wars betwixt Marius and Sylla. The commons, while the first prevailed, had almost shaken off the yoke of the nobility; and Marius and Cinna, like the captains of the mob, under the specious pretence of the public good, and of doing justice on the oppressors of their liberty, revenged themselves, without form of law, on their private enemies. Sylla, in his turn, proscribed the heads of the adverse party : he too had nothing but liberty and reformation in his mouth ; (for the
cause of religion is but a modern motive to rebellion, invented by the Christian priesthood, refining on the heathen!) Sylla, to be sure, meant no more good to the Roman people than Marius before, whatever he declared; but sacrificed the lives and took the estates of all his enemies, to gratify those who brought him into power. Such was the reformation of the government by both parties. The senate and the commons were the two bases on which it stood ; and the two champions of either faction, each destroyed the foundations of the other side : so the fabric, of consequence, must fall betwixt them; and tyranny must be built on their ruins. This comes of altering fundamental laws and constitutionslike him, who, being in good health, lodged himself in a physician's house, and was over-persuaded by his landlord to take physic (of which he died), for the benefit of his doctor. "Stavo ben' (was written on his monument) ‘ma, per star meglio, sto quì.'
After the death of those two usurpers the commonwealth seemed to recover, and held up its head for a little timé. But it was all the while in a deep consumption, which is a flattering disease. Pompey, Crassus, and Cæsar, had found the sweets of arbitrary power; and, each being a check to the other's growth, struck up a false friendship amongst themselves, and divided the government betwixt them, which none of them was able to assume alone. These were the public-spirited men of their age ; that is, patriots for their own interest. The commonwealth looked with a florid countenance in their management, spread in bulk, and all the while was wasting in the vitals. Not to trouble your lordship with the repetition of what you know-after the death of Crassus, Pompey found himself outwitted by Cæsar, broke with him, overpowered him in the senate, and caused many unjust decrees to pass against him. Cæsar, thus injured, and unable to resist the faction of the nobles which was now uppermost, (for he was a Marian,) had recourse to arms; and his cause was just against Pompey, but not against his coun. try, whose constitution ought to have been sacred to him, and never to have been violated on the account of any private wrong. But he prevailed ; and, heaven declaring for him, he became a providential monarch, under the title of perpetual dictator. He being murdered by his own son,
whom I neither dare commend, nor can justly blame (though Dante, in his Inferno, bas put him and Cassius, and Judas Iscariot betwixt them, into the great devil's mouth), the commonwealth popped up its head for the third time, under Brutus and Cassius, and then sunk for ever.
Thus the Roman people were grossly gulled twice or thrice over, and as often enslaved in one century, and under the same pretence of reformation. At last the two battles of Philippi gave the decisive stroke against liberty; and, not long after, the commonwealth was turned into a monarchy, by the conduct and good fortune of Augustus. It is true that the despotic power could not have fallen into better hands than those of the first and second Cæsar. Your lord. ship well knows what obligations Virgil had to the latter of them : he saw, beside, that the commonwealth was lost without resource ; the heads of it destroyed; the senate new moulded, grown degenerate, and either bought off, or thrusting their own necks into the yoke, out of fear of being forced. Yet I may safely affirm for our great author (as men of good sense are generally honest) that he was still of republican principles in his heart.
Secretosque pios, his dantem jura Catonem. I think I need use no other argument to justify my opinion than that of this one line, taken from the eighth book of the Æneid. If he had not well studied his patron's temper, it might have ruined him with another prince. But Augustus was not discontented, at least that we can find, that Cato was placed, by his own poet, in Elysium, and there giving laws to the holy souls who deserved to be separated from the vulgar sort of good spirits : for his conscience could not but whisper to the arbitrary monarch, that the kings of Rome were at first elective, and governed not without a senate ;that Romulus was no hereditary prince; and though, after bis death, he received divine honors for the good he did on earth, yet he was but a god of their own making ;-that the last Tarquin was expelled justly for overt acts of tyranny, and mal-administration ; for such are the conditions of an elective kingdom: and I meddle not with others, being, for my own opinion, of Montaigne's principles, that an honest man ought to be contented with that form of government, and with those fundamental constitutions of it, which he received from his ancestors, and under which himself was born; though at the same time he confessed freely, that if he could have chosen his place of birth, it should have been at Venice-which, for many reasons, I dislike, and am better pleased to have been born an Englishman.
But to return from my long rambling-I say that Virgil having maturely weighed the condition of the times in which he lived—that an intire liberty was not to be retrieved ; that the present settlement had the prospect of a long continuance in the same family, or those adopted into it; that he held his paternal estate from the bounty of the conqueror, by whom he was likewise enriched, esteemed, and cherished; that this conqueror, though of a bad kind, was the very best of it; that the arts of peace florished under him ; that all men might be happy, if they would be quiet ; that, now he was in possession of the whole, yet he shared a great part of his authority with the senate ; that he would be chosen into the ancient offices of the commonwealth, and ruled by the power which he derived from them, and prorogued his government from time to time, still, as it were, threatening to dismiss himself from public cares, which he exercised more for the common good than for any delight he took in greatness ;--these things, I say, being considered by the poet, he concluded it to be the interest of his country to be so governed; to infuse an awful respect into the people towards such a prince ; by that respect to confirm their obedience to him, and by that obedience to make them happy. This was the moral of his divine poem-honest in the poet; honorable to the emperor, whom he derives from a divine extraction; and reflecting part of that honor on the Roman people, whom he derives also from the Trojans; and not only profitable, but necessary, to the present age, and likely to be such to their posterity. That it was the received opinion that the Romans were descended from the Trojans, and Julius Cæsar from Iulus the son of Æneas, was enough for Virgil; though perhaps he thought not so himself, or that Æneas ever was in Italy ; which Bochartus manifestly proves. And Homer, where he says that Jupiter hated the house of Priam, and was resolved to transfer the kingdom to the family of Æneas, yet mentions nothing of his leading a colony into a foreign