Works. English — Pliny's epistles in ten books/ done into English by several hands
The Practice of setting the Life of an Author at the head of his Writings, is no less useful than it is prevailing; as it tends very much to improve and finish one of the noblest Branches of History, to give us an Idea of the Writer in a single Draught, and to adjust the Sense and Merit of his Pieces.
But this is a Debt we particularly owe to the Character of Pliny; as he abounds in every Grace and Talent that is requir'd to make up, or to adorn the Man, the Gentleman, the Roman, the Author, in every Scene, whether more publick, or disengag'd: And as in his Mind, his Conduct and Writings, he is a shining Model of Worth and Honour, of Understanding and Politeness.
Caius Plinius Cæcilius Secundus, or, the Younger, was born, according to Gruter, in the Year of Christ LXI. The Name of his Father was Cæcilius: Both he, and Pliny the Elder, were called Veronensis, as we are told by Johannes Mansionarius; his particular Rank and Quality are uncertain. Indeed, the Race that bore that Name was Noble, but originally Plebian; and a variety of distinct Families, with several Sir-Names, belong'd to it. [Page iii] The most conspicuous are those of the Metelli, and the Nigri, which we find are mark'd upon the ancient Denarii. That of our Author was doubtless of great Note and Antiquity: For he speaks himself of the Honour and Eminence of his Line, and of the successive Statues of his House, convey'd down to him, and preserv'd upon several Parts of his Estate. Indeed, his Uncle, C. Plinius Secundus, the Writer of the Natural History, (which he dedicated to Titus Vespasian) ad his adoptive Father, whose Names and Fortunes he therefore shar'd, does not seem to be above the Equestrian Order; and what Tacitus reports of his Office of Procurator in Spain, which belong'd to that Rank, is a Proof of it. But yet our Pliny rose to the Dignity of Senator, and wore the Latus Clavus in view of it. The Place of his Nativity was Como, in the Neighbourhood of a colony filled by Julius Cæsar: He stiles it his Delight; and calls the Larian-Lake, that is near it, and is term'd Lago di Como, his own; besides other Passages that confirm it in his Epistles.
We might, in the course of this Narrative, insert a train of Occurrences relating to himself and his Friends, according to the order of Time; but it will be more suitable to our Purpose, and to the Subject, to cut off the greatest part of them, and take in only the principal Events and Circumstances, that cleave immediately to his own History. [Page iv]
At the Age of Fourteen he wrote a Greek Tragedy, while he was subject to the Care of his Domestick Tutors, and not yet mature enough in Years, according to the Roman Method of Education at that Time, to enter the Schools of Rhetorick. That happen'd when he assum'd the Toga Virilis, in the Year following, and became an Auditor of Quintilian and Nicetes. He pursu'd his Studies at Rome; and Voconius Romanus, and Romanus Firmus were his most intimate Partners in the prosecution of them.
He ascribes likewise a great part of his Proficiency to others, as Corellius Rufus, Hispulla, and Arulenus Rusticus. And after, when his Friend Helvidius Priscus, and the Philosophers were expell'd the City by Vespasian, for their insolent Language against him; it was thought, that he followed the Fortunes of some of them, as Artemidorus and Euphrates in Syria.
It was a natural Effect of his growing Reputation; that, in his early Years he was chosen the Patron of Tifernum Tiberinum, a Town so called from its Situation near the River Tyber, (now Citta di Castello;) soon after which happen'd the death of his Uncle, by an uncommon Irruption of Mount Vesuvio, one of the greatest publick Disasters that befel the Reign of Titus. He was then at Misenum, discharging his Command at Sea, and led by his Curiosity in the Knowledge of Nature to make the nearest Enquiry into the Causes of it, was [Page v] suffocated by a drift of Smoak and Ashes. The Conflagration of the Mountain lasted several Days; it begun about Autumn, and was attended by frequent Earthquakes. All the Neighbourhood was alarm'd with the utmost Terror by it; but our Pliny, that accompany'd his Uncle, during this Incident at Sea, expres'd a peculiar firmness of Mind in it: He pursu'd his darling Studies with his usual Ease and Application, and gave no Marks of Fear, either in Voice or Appearance.
At the Age of Nineteen he began to plead in the Forum, after the Apotheosis of Titus. When the College of the Sodales Flaviales was form'd, in Honour of the deceas'd Emperor (like that mention'd by Suetonius, of the Augustales; or those, in several Inscriptions, of the Antoniniani, the Hadrianales, the Commodiani, &c. ) it was the first Dignity of Pliny, the being taken into the Number of them. This we are told by the Inscription of a Stone in the Comasco (his native Country) towards the close of it. For these Marble Monuments begin commonly with the highest and last Honours of great Men, and conclude with the smallest and first in order of Time. He is styl'd in the same a Decemvir, so that his bearing that Office likewise must be referr'd to this Period.
A Year after he was rais'd to be a Military Tribune of the third Gallic Legion, in the Reign of Domitian; for he was grac'd with no [Page vi] publick Honour till after the death of Titus: This we learn from the same Monument. At that time the Discipline and Manners of the Soldiery were very loose and remiss. He serv'd in Syria under Attilius Rufus, a Consular Man; and his Legion was encamp'd in Phoenicia, then a Part of Syria. Some of his intimate Companions in the Army were afterwards Men of Distinction, as Calestrius Tyro, Claudius Pollio, Nymphidius Lupus &c. He pursu'd on this Occasion a close Acquaintance with the Philosophers, Euphrates and Artemidorus.
It would be endless to dwell upon the several Variations of Chronology in many Parts of his Story: How long, for Instance, he serv'd in Spain, is uncertain. There was no Law to confine the Senatorian, or Equestrian Offices to a number of Years: He continu'd in the Post of Military Tribune no more than two or three Years at the farthest: He tells us indeed of a Tribuneship that lasted no longer than half a Year, Lib IV. Epist. IV. And this is apply'd by many learned Men to that of the People. But since it is desir'd there by Pliny of Sosius (probably Senecio) in favour of C. Calvisius, as if he had the Power of conferring it, it must be the Military Charge of that Name; given by the Commanding Officers, which cannot be said of the Tribuneship of the People. This Senecio had the Honour of a particular Friendship with Trajan. However, [Page vii] what he writes of his Familiarity with the two Philosophers above mentioned, is a Proof that he was in this Function above half a Year.
After this Expedition, he made a Return to Rome, but was sometime detained by adverse Winds in the Island of Icaria, and compos'd some Latin Elegies on the Place and Occasion. He attended the Court as a Spectator, before he enter'd the Senate: Soon after he marry'd, still under Domitian, and in his (as he calls it) melancholy Reign, had two Wives. He undertook, with some Apprehension, the Cause of Julius Pastor, against the Friends of the Emperor, though before he had maintain'd a Cause in Opposition to the Friends of Titus, undaunted. He was never in the Army, after that single Service we spoke of above, for it was not the Usage for Youths of a noble or Senatorian Rank, to go thro' the common Stages of War, the Cohort, the Wing, and the Office of Tribune.
After his Return, we find in the Inscriptions aforesaid, that he is styl'd Sevir Equit. Roman. (vid. Ezech. Spanheim) By Law, he was not qualified to be City Quæstor (which was the first Degree in the Senate, and an annual Employ) till the Age of Twenty Six. He was Candidate for that Post in the ensuing Year, and obtain'd it, by the Assistance and Votes of several Friends who were Men of Fortune and Character in the City. He was Quæstor of Domitian himself, and Calestrius [Page viii] Tyro was his Collegue; Domitian was then the thirteenth Year consul. A Year after, Tyro was Tribune of the People; and towards the Conclusion of it, Pliny was advanced to the same Employment. During his stay in it, he forbore to plead. He has left us a Description of it in his Epistles, and the Senate gave an Approbation to his Management of it, by several publick Memorials.
He was then appointed to be Advocate of the Province Bætica in Spain, together with Herennius Senecio, by the Senate; against Bebius Massa: In this Action Massa was condemned. At the desire of Rusticus, he likewise pleaded for Arionilla, and was raised to be Prætor of the City, when the Philosophers were again expelled by Domitian, whose Death was Prophesy'd by Apollonius Tyranus, at Ephesus about the same Time. While he was Prætor, he celebrated as usual, the Ludi Apollinares, and the Senate repeated their Applause of his Care and Skill in the Execution of his Trust, by publick Monuments.
Had the Life of Domitian been extended beyond the Ninety sixth Year of Christ, Pliny would have been brought to the Bar, in an Accusation by him; for a Bill drawn up against him was found in his Cabinet, which might have prov'd of dangerous Consequence. After the Prætorship he courted no Honours, 'til the Death of that Emperor, but was rather timorous of appearing in Publick, and lay concealed: [Page ix] About the same Juncture, Martial gave himself the Credit to make him a Theme to his Muse. But in the opening of the Reign of Nerva, the Successor of Domitian, who join'd together the most disagreeable Things, lately at variance, Liberty and Sovereignty, when every Man pursu'd and crush'd his Enemies, according to his own private Will and Power, he thought it the fairest Province to quell the Guilty, and revenge the Wretched. Accordingly he accused Publicius Certus, first in the Treasury, and design'd Consul, for laying Violent Hands in the Senate, upon Helvidius Priscus the Younger, who was kill'd by Domitian; and tho' Nerva did not refer the Cause of Certus to the Senate, yet Pliny carry'd his Affair. For the Consulate was given to his Colleague in the Treasury; and another was put to succeed him in that Branch of the Government. This Action he collected after and Publish'd under the Title of Libri de Helvidij Ultione.
This was soon follow'd by the Decease of his Wife, and his Friend, Corellius Rufus; as also by a Misfortune of Virginius Rufus, now the third Time Consul with Nerva; who,preparing to give publick Thanks to the Emperor in his Consulship, broke his Hip by an Accidental Fall, and dy'd on the ill setting of it. But during the Indisposition that was caus'd by it; in Fear to be chosen by the Senate, one of the Quinqueviri for reducing the publick [Page x] Charges, he excused himself by Pliny: Our Author petitioned Nerva to call Voconius Romanus into the Senate; but this was deferred to the Reign of Trajan, and to grant him the Liberty of removing the Statues of his Ancestors from the Tuscan Fields, to Tifernum, and adding his own to the Number. This Indulgence was allow'd him, and Pliny wrote to the Decurions to assign the Ground that was proper for that Purpose. It may suffice here, once for all, to remark, That the Epistles are very much transpos'd with regard to the Series of Time; none being, for Example, of higher Antiquity, than the first of the Second Book.
Pliny was seiz'd with a Distemper, a little before the Sickness and Death of Nerva; which disappointed a Design he had laid of retiring for some Time to his more remote Estate: Trajan succeeded that Prince; and Pliny paid his Compliment of Congratulation to him on that Subject. He likewise demanded, gain'd, and acknowledg'd to him the Jus trium liberorum, in Behalf of Voconius L. X. Ep. II. He had not yet entered into his third year Marriage; Trajan set him over the Treasury of Saturn, and offered him and Tertullus the consulship; Pliny complain'd of the Fatigue of that Office, that it broke his Studies, and diverted him from hearing the Philosophers. Then we find him styl'd in Inscriptions, Præfect of the Military Treasury, or Pay-Master General; and Place [Page xi] that was instituted by Augustus, but it is not mention'd by himself, nor does it then appear to be distinct from the other. Next, after a lavish Experience of the Favour of Trajan, he desired him to call Voconius Romanus into the Senate, since the former Obstacle to it was now clear'd by his Mother's legal Performance of some Articles, that could not be satisfied before, under Nerva. He recommends, likewise Priscus a commanding Officer, for Tribune; that so he might advance to the Dignity of Quæstor, and rise by that Step to a Place among the Fathers.
Another Request he put up to Trajan, was to confer the Freedom of the City upon Harpocrates, a Physitian, whom he consulted the Year following in a very severe Fit of Illness; as likewise for the Jus Quiritium to the Freed Men of Antonio Maximilla, a Lady of his Acquaintance. Both these were readily granted, Pliny receiv'd them with a grateful Acknowledgment, and at the same time, with a desire of fresh Favours to Harpocrates. This occasioned a new Correspondence between him and his Imperial Master. We are convinc'd by it, that he takes every possible Opportunity of recounting and praising the lowest of his Actions; and after a Complaint in one Epistle of the Obstruction he found in building his Tuscan Temple, he begs his Leave to erect his Statue in it. [Page xii]
Then, after his Journey into Tuscany, The Embassadors of Bætica desired him of the Senate, as Patron of that Province, in a Cause that was set on Foot against Cæcilius Classicus, the Pro-Consul; but on the Excuse of his Collegues, it was decreed in Favour of their Petition, if they could get the Consent of Pliny: This occasioned a Letter from Octavius Rufus, perswading him to be neutral, if he would not appear for Classicus; and his Answer Ep. VII. L. I.
On his Return from Tuscany, when the Province of Afric desired his Patronage against Marius Priscus, he gain'd the Authority of the Senate for it. They were the more easily disposed to it, because in his Præfecture of the Treasury, he relinquish'd the Bar, to pay a more leisurely Attendance to his Office: This Provincial Cause, with that of Bætica, he defended with Cornelius Tacitus, and the Emperor presided in the Hearing of them. In the latter he took a particular Care, and was crown'd with the Approbation of the Senate for it. On his Advance to the Consulate with Cornutus Tertullus, he performed the usual Function of a Panegyrick to the Prince, in the Name of the Common-wealth, and of the two Consuls: This was done in September, in the Year of Christ, 100, and of his Age 39. In the Senate, it was delivered more concisely, as the Place, Time, and Custom demanded; but publish'd in his Book more at [Page xiii] large, which he sent to be Corrected by Romanus, and recited three Days to his Friends before the Publication.
His Quæstor in the Consulship was Rosianus Geminus; the Time of it was attended by the Death of Silius Italicus, and soon after of Martial. When that Year was elaps'd, he made a Retreat to Tuscany, and from thence to his Native Country; he built his design'd Temple at his private Expence in Tifernum, and in an Epistle speaks of the Irreligion of delaying the Consecration of it. He purchased a Corinthian Statue to adorn it; it was Sacred to Jove: He was also made about this Time, a Curator of the Æmilian Way, and of the Tyber, and was distinguished with the Office of Augur.
During his Retirement at Como, upon an Information that the Youth of that City, were obliged to Study at Padua, in the Want of Masters residing there; he advised their Fathers to erect a publick School, and promis'd to furnish a third Part of the Stipend and Charge of the Foundation. After this, on another Visit to Rome, and a short stay at Tusculanum; He desired the Favour of Tacitus to overlook the Masters and his new Establishment; and assisted in Council with Trajan, on the Subject of a publick Game or Prize, that was play'd among the Viennois, on the last Will of a Person deceased; the Continuance of which was then disputed. [Page xiv]
He sustain'd the Cause of Julius Bassus, the Bithynian Pro-Consul, against Pomponius Rufus, and Herennius Pollio; the Advocates of the Bithynian Party, congratulated Trajan on the Success of his Dacian Expedition; and when Rufus Varenus (conjectur'd to be the same with Pomponius Rufus, above-mentioned) was set over Bithynia, in the Place of Servilius Calvus, and accused by his People; he was likewise defended by our Author, who himself was Pro-Consul of that Part of the Empire, after Anicius Maximus.
He was frequently employ'd in Council by Trajan; and when he succeeded Julius Frontinus in the Augurate, Arrianus congratulated him upon it, which occasion'd an Epistle to him. His Title in the Bithynian Government was that of Legatus Proprætor consulari Potestate; and there was this Difference between his Post, and that of Proconsul, strictly so call'd, that the latter was ever obliged to consult the Senate in dubious Affairs, as a Provincial Officer to them and to the People: But Pliny was confin'd to refer them to the Emperor; for Bythinia was his Province, exchang'd with the Senate for Pamphylia. He had also the command of Pontus and the Byzantii; and was succeeded by Cælius Clemens. Here he solemnly kept the Days of the Birth and Inauguration of Trajan, he put up votive Prayers for his Safety, in conjunction with the People, and submitted every step of his Measures to his [Page xv] Judgment. Several of his Epistles turn upon the Affairs of Bithynia, where a Persecution arose against the Christians, while he was Pro-Consul; about which Time, Trajan made a second Expedition against the Dacians. Then Pliny, on his Return to Italy, went to Alsia, to a Country-Seat belonging to Pompeia Celerina, his near Relation, and formerly in the Possession of Rufus Virginius: He found here with Grief and Anger, that he dy'd ten Years before, and lay buried without the least Epitaph or Inscription. The Year of the death of Pliny himself, is uncertain; the entire Chronology of his Life reaches to the 106th Year of Christ, and of his Age the 45th, as far as the Traces of it are evident; the rest is Conjecture. More might be offered on his Retirements, Poetical Works, and the just Order and Publication of his Epistle; but this would swell our Account beyond the proper Limits we intend, and would at last, turn more upon Imagination, than Reality.
Some Particular Notice is due to the Inscriptions that relate to him. One is extant on the Shell of the largest Temple at Como; another at Fegium in the Milanese, on an ancient Roman Building which is half destroy'd; another of the Citizens of Como to his Honour; another in the Church of St. Ambrose at Milan &c. Let the first at large suffice, as a Taste of them, tho' the shortest. [Page xvi]
These Inscriptions are silent on his Office of Curator of the Æmilian Way; nor does he mention the Honours that are recounted in those Inscriptions. It is Remarkable, That Cornutus shar'd with him in most of them; and that in one of these Monuments we find the mention of a Library which he founded at Como, for the Benefit of his School there.
Nor may it be improper to look a while into the Suffrage that is given unto him, by the greatest Hands, Ancient and Modern. Quintilius applauds his Elegance, Macrobius his florid Vein, Martial his eloquence, Sobriety, and studious Life; Sidonius Apollinaris extols his Judgment, Delicacy and Exactness: He professes to make him the Standard of his Writing, and tells us, That he acquir'd a brighter Name by his Oration in defence of Attia Variola, (on which Pliny himself sets an uncommon Value; and assures us, it was back'd by the Opinion of his Friends) than by his Panegyrick. Just so the same Sidonius prefers the Oration of Tully for Cluentius to all others, not for the acuteness and flower of Speaking, but the difficulty of Invention, in a Cause that was hard, and of a narrower Compass. On the other hand, Baudius gives the Prize to the Panegyrick; Cassiodorus speaks of [Page xvii] him as a renowned Orator and Historian. Erasmus celebrates the Propriety, Smartness, Nicety, Refinement, Grace and Familiarity of his Letters: The Art, Wit and Life, and at the same time the natural and unlabour'd Ease of his Style. By Vives we are inform'd, That few antient Epistles are left of Plato and Demosthenes; that many of Tully's are lost, tho' many indeed are preserv'd, famous for Language and Judgment in Affairs, publick and private; that Seneca's are fill'd with Philosophy; and those of Tully, on publick Matters, are the most excellent. but that the Letters of Pliny are better adapted to common Use; that he is sententious, learned, sharp, sprightly, and a very fit Pattern for a Correspondence between Scholars, where more of Ornament and Seasoning is required, than of Things.
It will not be amiss, at the Foot of this Narration, to take a short Review of some considerable Passages, if any Fact of Circumstance may have escap'd us, to give it an after-Place in the Conclusion, and mingle a few incidental Remarks with them.
We find, That while he was very young, Fate depriv'd him of his Father. This cast the Oversight of his Education upon his Uncle, who was so extreamly pleas'd with the dawn of his Merit, that he made him his adoptive Son and Heir. In Rhetorick he was bred up [Page xviii] under Quintilian, and conform'd very much to his Model, as appears by his running so often thro' the Decads of Livy; an Author always admir'd by Quintilian, and recommended in his Institutions.
Under Nicetes the Priest, he carried on his Philosophick Studies, and was sent to finish his Acquirements by Travel into Syria, then (like Egypt formerly) a principal Seat and Nursery of Learning. Euphrates of that Country (whose Character he draws to Advantage in his Epistles) directed his Studies; and it is not unlikely that he gave him the first Motive to fix in Rome.
At Eighteen he succeeds his Uncle in Name and Estate; who also left him a valuable Legacy of 160 Volumes of his Works, fill'd up on the very Margin and Covers, with his own hand Writing. Plinius Major was a laborious Man, and ever exhorting his Nephew to pursue the same Conduct, to that degree, that he gave him a Rebuke one Day, for walking. So that probably the first Platform of his future Industry and Application was laid in an habitual Care to oblige him. An Instance of it we meet at Micene, when his Uncle took his last Voyage to observe upon Vesuvius, and ask'd his Company; he reply'd, That his Books were his leading Pleasure. In Writing and Reading he was very assiduous, and even in Hunting, or on a Journey, would dictate on Horseback to his Amanuensis. [Page xix]
After his Resolution to build his Fortunes at Rome, his chief Employ was in Study and Retirement; his Reputation grew up daily: After some efforts in Poesy, he apply'd to the Civil Law, and was retain'd in most Causes of Moment. When Marius Priscus was accus'd of Bribery and Extortion, he was so vehement in the Action, that the Emperor commanded his attending Freed-Man to check his Eagerness, in fear of hurt to him; with humble Thanks for the Caution, he still proceeds, and the issue of the Cause, was the perpetual Banishment of the Criminal.
Trajan apprehending a Shock to the Empire from the Christian Religion, dispers'd an Order for the suppressing of it. Pliny was so Impartial as to state the Cause to him in a fair Light; and to inform him that all he found particular in it, was, That the Professors of it assembled before Day in devotion to Christ, bound themselves by a Sacrament not to commit a Crime, or to violate the Laws, and quietly departed. On this Account he check'd the Persecution, and allow'd them a fair Tryal; and yet this Emperor was ever jealous of the growth of Faction, a Sect, or Party; for when Pliny ask'd a Charter for a Corporation of Mechanicks at Nicomedia, he refused it, alledging the proneness of those Societies to Faction. But he indulg'd the utmost Favours to Pliny on the score of his Desert and Loyalty; gave the Freedom of Rome by Chrysippus, and other Aliens, [Page xx] at his Instance; as also the Privilege and Name of Gentlemen to the Children of Antonia &c. the Prætorship to Sura, and many Offices to Voconius.
He oblig'd his Friends with the utmost Generosity, and lov'd to cherish and mature a rising Merit, in a conspicuous young Man. He settled a handsom Salary on Caninius Rufus, and confer'd a Pension on Martial in the Country. Besides other Presents of Value, he gave a Military Employ to Metilius Crispus, and 50000 Sesterces as a Portion to the Daughter of Quintilian. All Persons of an eminent Character were favour'd by him; as Suetonius, Tacitus, Silius Italicus; with Pomponius Saturninus, Arrianus, and other Civilians, &c. It was his first Delight to let them into his nearest Friendship and Conversation.
As to his Fair Partners in the Conjugal State, History is very sparing about them. His second Wife was Calphurnia, of good Fortune and Extraction; she was Mistress of his Heart; we have two Epistles extant to her; but the World was not bless'd with any of his Offspring. His desire however of reaching Posterity in his Fame, was something gratify'd by the Pen of Martial and Tacitus. His Recess was frequent to his Laurentine and Tuscan Villas: After he resign'd his Command in Pontus, we meet no farther Hint of him; it is probable that he dy'd soon after Trajan, according to Eusebius, in the Year of Christ 119. For he that is related to [Page xxi] die in the twelfth Year of that Prince, was Pliny the Elder.
The Remarks which arise upon his Epistles are so obvious, that it is needless to be very formal about them: and it is partly anticipated in the Head of others that attest his Character. Indeed they set themselves to View in the strongest Light; so that a minute detail of them before, would only prevent and lessen the agreeable Surprize of the Reader. However, it will be expected that we should offer some Notice of them: Each of them is, in its kind, a compleat Work, single, uniform, and a Pattern to all future Writings of the same Nature. It carries an air of Undesign, and yet goes on in a Plan that is regular, however it appears to be unconcerted, and a Chain of Thought preserving the loose, easy Matter that fits so well on Epistolary Writings. All of them give a lively Insight into the learned, genteel, polite, busie and familiar Life: the Thoughts are proper and natural; they enter into the Passions proper to be rais'd on each Subject, whether Joy or Sorrow, Hope or Fear, Love or Aversion; and express them on all the Points of Friendship and Intelligence, with a Sense, a Concern, an Interest in the Point, a beautiful Sympathy, or gaiety of Heart; a variety of Impression that moves the Passions of the Reader, and perswades him, that every Part is inform'd with the Soul of the Writer. An uncommon Turn is lent to the most common Passages, and [Page xxii] many Sentiments less usual, very often arise. What is apt to touch or strike the Mind or the Fancy, on the Stage of the World, is finely represented; the Expression is clear, choice, careful, tho' seemingly negligent; polish'd, concise, various and musical; well judg'd and weigh'd, without the Appearance of it. In short, the whole is justly, tho' readily design'd, and masterly executed. If there be any Defect, it is now and then a little Obscurity, and perhaps a declension of Style, tho' scarce sensible, from the Standard of the Augustan Age. I might, on this Occasion, launch into the History and Critique of Epistle, and the Rules and Writers of it, ancient and modern. But that is too large a Field at present, and out of my Limits. It would be indeed superfluous, when Pliny himself is offer'd as the Rule and Master; if he be well study'd and imitated, it will be sufficient, in a good Measure; tho' others may have their turn. And it would be an ill Complement to his Ashes, if I should run here into the smallest Track of Thinking, that is not the most respectful to our great Original.
As to his Personal Character, his Works afford the best Idea of it. He possess'd the Height of good Understanding, Honour, Conduct, and Humanity. He felt the Joys and Pains, the Disquiet and Satisfaction of his Friends in every Occurrence; was a Patron to the deserving, a Support to the Feeble, a Relief to the Wretched, and a general Benefactor [Page xxiii] to Mankind; a firm Patriot, an indulgent Friend, a delicate Companion, a successful Pleader, a shining Statesman, an able Manager; a Lover of Study and Letters, of Probity and Virtue, Free-thinking, and publick Spirit. It was an Honour to him, that he was not so well relished by Domitian, but a Favourite of Trajan; who reviv'd the Roman Arms and Greatness, and bore her Eagles beyond the Extent of any that went before him.
He was extreamly correct in his Writings; review'd, pronounc'd them distinctly, and adjusted the sound of them again by the Voice of others: Imparted them at first to a few, and after, to all his select Acquaintance; and laid the Amendments a-fresh before the best Judges amongst them: Then rehears'd them in a full Assembly, read them to his Visitants, and put the finishing Hand to them. He could rise or fall, cast a Light or a Shade where he pleas'd; and could maintain or vary his Style without the Extreams, either of Flatness or Affectation, and by turns would follow either Tully or Demosthenes. He was ever thankful of a Reproof, and ready to retract an Error. He was remarkably sober and abstemious. Martial applauds him for that, and his studious Life, in some Lines addrest to him at his House on the Esquilian Mount. But his Books, like his Friends, were few and well chosen: He had often the complaisance to quit the one, in order to entertain [Page xxiv] the other; but was more shy and tender in the Choice, than in the Continuance of the latter. Was averse to Ceremony, true to his Word, even angry at the request of a Favour, because he took a delight in bestowing it freely and unask'd: had a great fortitude of Mind, tho' he was seldom put upon the exerting of it. Was far more severe on himself than others; easy to forgive, and of an unbyass'd Integrity; not Censorious, but more inclin'd to spare the bold, than the wary Writer; so that it was a frequent Observation with him, that a Slip below was more unpardonable than a Fall above; and that to have no Fault, might be the Greatest. He excus'd his Inclination to Poetry by the Example of eminent Romans; design'd an Historical Work, but did not perform it; there is a small Tract, Of Man famous for Civil and Military Government that is ascrib'd to him; and has also been father'd upon Cornelius Nepos, but is concluded by Vossius &c. to belong to Aurelius Victor. To enlarge farther on this Head, would be Repetition, or a lessening to the Flavour of his Epistles: His Behaviour in all the Relations, Affairs and Characters of Life, was Just and Graceful, and the Esteem and Love that was paid to him, was great and universal.
After this, a research into his Works, Manuscript and Printed, may be thought and Office too dry and mechanical; but some Account of them will not be incommodious. Oxford [Page xxv] affords three of the clearest and best MSS. of them, in the Opinion of good Judges; two in the Bodleian Library, one of which is of Vellum, the other of Paper, mark'd and inscrib'd very much by the Hand of Laurentius Valla, who was the most diligent upon this Author, of any other. Another of Paper, in the Library of Lincoln College. There is one in Corpus-Christi College in Oxford, mention'd by Vossius. The Westminster MS. was burnt in the Fire of London. There was another in the Hands of Rodolphus Agricola, given us in part by Sichardus, a Palatine MS. us'd by Gruter; some others preserv'd in Fragments by Modius; one of Paris, procur'd for Aldus by Aloisius Mocenicus, not to insist on others. But those of Aldus, Stephanus and Cataneus, are entitled also to a leading Value. The first Edition of Pliny was put out by Beroaldus at Bononia, Anno 1598. and there is one of Stephanus in the Bodleian Library, with the Panegyrick remark'd by the Hand of Joseph Scaliger. Farther it is not requisite to advance on this Topick.
But there is some Variation in them; the viiith and xth Book of the Epistles, with the Panegyrick, are wanting in the Oxford MSS. In those of the Time of Sidonius, only nine Books appeared; as also in those us'd by Beroaldus, and the first Editors. No more than eight [Page xxvi] Books were known to Mansionarius. The tenth was convey'd by Peter Leander from France to Italy, and first published by Hieronymus Avantius of Verona, Anno 1502. probably taken from the Parisian MS. of Aldus. His Conjecture is nut just, that this Book was written in the Time of our Author; for it is most likely that it was published by a Friend, or, according to Custom, by his Freed-Man, after his Decease; as Tyro digested and put out the Epistles of Tully; and Phlegon Trallianus discharg'd the like Office to Adrian. But that it was the genuine Work of Pliny, is proved by the Epistles relating to the Christians, known before Sidonius, and mention'd by Tertullian, Orosius and Sulpitius Severus. His last seen to be those from Pontus to Trajan.
The principal Lights that are serviceable in the Chronology, History, and Life of him, are fetch'd from that of Masson, prefix'd to the Oxford Edition, Dodwell, Ursinus, Augustinus, and Streinius de Gent. & Fam. Rom. Tacitus, Martia, Suetonius, Paterculus, Am. Marcellinus, Dio; from Onuphr. Panvinius's Com. in Fast. Jos. Scaliger's Animadv. ad Eus. Chron. Gruter, Tillemont's Hist. des Emp. [Page xxvii] Pagi's Crit. in Ann. Baron. Petavius ad Her. Epiph. Spanheim, de Præst. & usu Numism. Noris de Epochis Syromac. Fabretti de Col. Traj. The Medallists, as Vaillaintius, &c. besides all that are already mentioned, and a Train of others, whom it would be too tedious to enumerate.
He is rank'd by one, among the Polite Latin Authors, who wrote at the Time when Rome was in its Glory; is styl'd by him one of the greatest and most learned Men in the whole Roman Empire; the first Lawyer of the Age he liv'd in, as well as one of the finest Gentlemen.
The Passages in him, which he points out, as beautifully turn'd, are the Compliment he so often pays to his Emperor, upon the brightness and splendour of his Age: He observes, “That he speaks with a certain noble Vanity of it; and when he would animate him to any thing Great, or disswade him from any thing that was Improper, he insinuates, that it is befitting or unbecoming (the Claritas and Nitor Seculi) that period of Time, which was made Illustrious by his Reign”. He raises the highest Notion of Conjugal Tenderness [Page xxviii] from three of his Letters, is asham'd that he is oblig'd to have recourse to a Heathen Author on that Subject; and appeals to his Readers, if they would not think it a Mark of a narrow Education in a Man of Quality to write such passionate Letters to any Woman but a Mistress.
He takes Notice, That they were all three written to his Wife Calphurnia, on her Indisposition and Absence, and produces the Originals. Another is to his Wife's Aunt, Hispulla, which he calls one of the most agreeable Family-Pieces he ever met with: He believes the Reader will be of his Opinion, that Conjugal Love is drawn in it with the greatest Delicacy. He reflects in another Place, “That Pliny, in several of his Epistles, is very sollicitous in recommending to the Publick some young Men of his own Profession; and very often undertakes to become an Advocate, upon Condition, that some one of these his Favourites might be join'd with him, in order to produce the Merit of such, whose Modesty otherwise would have suppress'd it”. And farther, “That it may seem very marvellous to a sawcy Modern, that Multum sanguinis, multum verecundiæ, multum sollicit udinis in ore, To have the Face first full of Blood, then the Countenance dash'd with Modesty, and then the whole Aspect as of one dying with Fear, when a Man begins to speak, should be [Page xxix] esteem'd by Pliny the necessary Qualification of a fine Speaker”.
The other is the Sentiment of one, whose Judgment on this Head will not be question'd, however his way of thinking has been constru'd and represented in Affairs of a different Nature: He tells us, “That for what we call a happy Turn, delicacy of Expression, and speaking only to the Business in Hand, no Modern comes near to Pliny; no more than in the Variety of his Subjects, such as Intrigues of State, Points of Literature and History, Questions in Natural Philosophy, Rural Pleasures, the Concerns of his Friends, and some Trifles which he renders important.”
With Regard to the present Version, as it is done by a Variety of Hands, it may be thought not to keep up the Race and Genius of Pliny, so equally, as if perfected by any one Master of him: But this Objection does not always hold, especially in Miscellaneous Writings. We are, however, entitled to a more than ordinary Allowance; for, besides the common difficulties and Rules of a Translation, many are particular to this Author, arising from the Terms, Language, and Customs peculiarly reigning or observ'd in his Time, (which cannot be compleatly match'd in a different Tongue) or a little Darkness that now and then attends his Expression. [Page xxx]
Each Hand is to answer for the Part that belongs to him, and no single Person is concern'd in the Work of another, or in the Design, or Discharge of the whole. The Attempt itself is laudable, and the harder it may be alledg'd to be, it has a Right to the greater Countenance and Encouragement, in order to produce a Better. But it is easier far to censure, than to make a Translation of a Classic; and tho' the Gentlemen concerned in the Undertaking, have acquitted themselves so, as not to want the Mercy of a Reader; yet, as to the large Share that I have born in it, I own, it is my Duty to appeal from the Justice, to the Equity and Candour of the learned, ingenious, and polite World.
Especially, as I would follow the most sincere Dictates of my Heart, in aspiring to your Lordship's peculiar Approbation, I beg your Indulgence to this Attempt. In You, my Lord, the worthy Man, and the accomplish'd Nobleman are united: And as our Pliny was one of the greatest Patrons of his Age to the Roman Youth, that endeavour'd to merit the Public Esteem, I would humbly annex to his Life, the same Character in your Lordship; and in a particular manner, would take leave to rely on your Protection from the most prevailing Faction in this Island, the Dull and the Malicious. I am, My Lord, Your Lordship's most Dutiful and Obedient Humble Servant, J. Henley.
You have often advised me to collect and publish, such of my Letters, as were the least negligently Written. I have done it, but have placed them as they came next to Hand, without observing the order of Time in which they were written, not thinking [Page 2] my self obliged, in that Respect, to the strictness of an Historian. I only wish, You may not repent of your Advice, nor I of my Compliance; which may encourage me to enquire after such other of them, as yet lie scattered about, and not to suppress such as I may have occasion to write hereafter.
Since I find you have deferred your coming, I send you the piece, which I formerly promised you, and beg of you to Correct it with your usual Faithfulness. And the rather, because it is the first thing I have written in that Spirit: For I had it in my View to imitate the accurate Demosthenes, who has long been your Delight, and who lately is become mine. But when I speak of imitating him, I mean it only as to the Stile, for the Force and Energy of such a Man is not to be attained to, but by [Page 3] those whom Heaven has equally befriended. Nor was my Subject, which required little else besides earnestness and vehemence in Pleading, at all unfit for such an Emulation (Pardon that presumptuous Word) but rather Favourable to it, as it roused me from a long indulged Idleness, and stirred up all my latent fire; if I do not flatter my self in thinking, there was a Spark yet left in me. Neither have I entirely avoided, the gayer Colourings of my Master Cicero, nor scrupled, to enliven the Subject by a Digression, whenever it did not lead me too far out of the way. For I endeavoured to write closely but without stiffness. But do not imagine that I desire your indulgence upon this Account: On the contrary, to make you more intent upon your Corrections, I own to you that my Friends and I, have no Aversion to the Publishing this Piece, if by the Addition of your Vote, we can make our Folly the more Excusable. And, indeed, I look upon my self as obliged to Publish something, and my Laziness would fain persuade me, to let it be this, which is ready. I think my self obliged to do it, upon several Accounts, but especially, because my former Writings are still asked for, (tho' they have, long since, lost the Charm of Novelty) unless the Booksellers tell me so, only out of Flattery: But let them flatter, if they will, provided their Fallacies make me the fonder of my Studies.
How fares Comum, my Delight and yours? That country-Seat, so exceeding lovely? That Gallery, where it is always Spring? That most shady Grove of Plane-Trees? That Canal, so green, and clear as a Diamond? The Lake hard by, which seems designed for a Reservatory to supply it? Those firm, and yet easy Walks? That Bath, which never wants the Sun in his Round? Those large Dining-Rooms for Company, and those lesser Withdrawing-Rooms for a few Friends? How goes it with the Drinking-Rooms? How with those Bed-Chambers for Night, and those Anti-Chambers for Day? Do these possess and share you by Turns? Or, are you hindered (as you were wont) with frequent Excursions abroad, by an over-earnest Desire of increasing your Estate? If these possess you, then are you easy and happy; but if they do not, you are only One of many that admire them. Why do you not rather (for it is high Time) commit those [Page 5] low and sordid Cares to others, and apply your self to Books, in that quiet and plentiful Retreat? Let this be your Business and Leisure, your Labour and Recreation: Let Studies employ your Thoughts by Day, and be the Subject of your Dreams by Night. Invent, and finish something, that may be perpetually yours; for the rest of your Possessions will, after your Death, successively fall to the Share of many Owners; but if this once begins, it can never cease to be yours. I know how great a Soul, and how fine a Genius I exhort. Do you only endeavour to have as good an Opinion of your self, as others must need entertain of you, if once you are conscious of your own Worth. Farewel.
The short Letter, I wrote to you some Time ago, is enough to convince you, That I have now no farther Need of yours to acquaint me, what abundance of Delights [Page 6] are to be met with at your Country-Houses at Ocriculum, Corsulanum, Perusinum, and Narnium, and at your fine Bathing-House there; nor need I repeat any Thing on that Head. I can assure you, I do not so much enjoy what is my own, as what is yours. They differ only in this, That your People attend me with greater Care and Diligence, than my own do; which perhaps may be your Case, if ever you come to see me, which I beg you to do, not only that you in your turn may enjoy all the Pleasures we can procure you here, but also, that my People may be awakened by your Presence, who expecting my coming alone, are, I dare say, secure and negligent enough: For, with an easy Master, Custom naturally wears off the Awe which his Servants might at first have for him: But when Strangers come, they exert themselves and take more Pains, to gain the Favour of their Master, by their Regard to them, than by any thing else that relates to his Service.
Have you ever seen any one more timorous and abject than Marcus Regulus, since Domitian's Death? His Crimes were not less in his Time, than in Nero's, tho' more secret. He began to be afraid, that I was angry with him, nor was he in the wrong. He had encouraged the Prosecution against Arulenus Rusticus, and triumphed at his Death to that Degree, that he published a Piece full of Invectives against him, wherein he calls him the Ape of the Stoicks, and adds, that he was infamous by the Scar he was marked with on the Account of Vitellius. You are acquainted with the usual Eloquence of Regulus, he fell upon Herennius Senecio, so very immoderately, that Metius Carus said to him, What have You to do with my dead Men? Don't I let Crassus and Camerinus alone, whom you know Regulus had informed against in Nero's Time? [Page 8] Regulus believed I resented those Things, and therefore he did not invite me to the Rehearsal of his Piece. Besides, he remembred how sharply he had set upon me my self before the Centumvirate. I appeared there for Arionilla, the Wife of Timon, at the Request of Arulenus Rusticus. Regulus was on the other side. In one part of the Cause, we relied upon the Sentence, that had been given against Metius Modestus, an excellent Man, whom Domitian had Banished. Now to shew you Regulus: I question you, says he to me, what you think of Modestus? You see the Danger of answering, I think well of him, and the Baseness of saying the contrary. I can't help thinking that the Gods assisted me then, in a particular manner. I will tell you, said I, what I thought of him, if the Judges were now to determine about it: Whereupon he replies again, Nay, but what do you think of Modestus? To which I answered, Witnesses are used to be examined against Men accused, not against those already condemned. He attacked me the third Time, I only ask you then, what you think of the Loyalty of Modestus? You ask me, said I, what I think of it? And I think it a Crime to make any Question of that which is already judicially determined. This silenced him. I was praised and congratulated upon my Escape, as having neither injured my Character, by an Answer, which in me [Page 9] would have been base, however useful it might have been to my Cause; nor fallen into the Toils which he had prepared for me, by his ensnaring Questions. But to return to Regulus, now that his Conscience terrifies him, he first flies to Cæcilius Celer, and immediately after to Fabius Justus, and begs of them to use their Interests, to reconcile me to him; and not content with that, he applies to Spurinna, I humbly beg of you says Regulus to him, (for Fear makes him most abjectly humble) that you will not fail to go to Pliny to Morrow Morning, but pray let it be early enough, and prevail with him on any Terms, to forgive me; for I can no longer bear the Uneasiness I am under. I had watched all that Night, when in comes a Messenger from Spurinna to tall me he was coming to me. I sent him Word that I would wait on him; as we were going to each other, we met in Livia's Portico; he told me what Directions he had Received from Regulus, adding such intreaties of his own, as became one of the best of Men, to use for one of the worst. You expect, said I, my Answer, I must not deceive you, I wait the Arrival of Mauricus, who was not yet returned from Banishment: Therefore I can say nothing to it, one way or other, having resolved to do whatever he shall think fit, for he has a Right to command me intirely in this Affair. Some few Days after, Regulus himself meets me in the [Page 10] Pretors Court, where he had followed me about, sometime, 'till he had found me alone. He told me he was afraid, that something he had formerly said the the Court of the Centumvirate, might have given me some uneasiness, when in answering me and Satrius Rufus, he had said; Satrius and he who vies it with Cicero, and who is not satisfied with the Eloquence of our Age. I answered him, that I now perceived those Words were spoken with a Design to expose me, since he himself confessed it, but that otherwise, they would admit of a different Construction; for I do, said I, vie with Cicero, nor am I satisfied with the Eloquence of our Age, having always thought it great Folly, to propose to one's Imitation, any thing short of the best. But you, who remember this Cause so well, how came you to forget your asking me, in another Cause, my Opinion of the Loyalty of Metius Modestus. Hereupon he grew considerably paler, than he naturally is, and answered me in a great deal of Confusion, That he did not do it to hurt me, but Modestus, (you see the Cruelty of the Wretch, who could not dissemble his Intention to hurt a banished Man) and he added an extraordinary Reason for it, saying, That in one of Modestus's Letters which was read before Domitian, there was this Expression, Regulus, the most wicked of all Creatures; nor had Modestus said any thing by the Truth. Here [Page 11] we ended, for I avoided going farther, that I might keep my self at Liberty till Mauricus's Return. Besides, I considered that Regulus is a Man, not easy to be overthrown. For he is Rich, considerable in his Party, respected by many, Feared by more; which last Passion, is generally stronger than Love. Tho' when once the Shock comes, all these may fail, for the Favour of bad Men is as faithless as they themselves are. But, as I have said before, I wait for Mauricus, who is grave, prudent experienced, and able to provide for future Events by the just Observations he has made of past Ones. And I shall stir in the Affair or lie still, as he shall direct. I have given you this Account, because you have a Right from our mutual Friendship, to know, not only all my Actions, and Words, but also my very purposes.
I know you will Laugh, and so you well may. I, Pliny, the very Pliny whom you know so well, have been Hunting, and taken Three Boars, and fine ones too. What Pliny! You'll say, yes, Pliny. But, that I might not entirely part with my beloved Indolence, and Ease, I sat down by the Toils, having ready at Hand, not a Boar-Spear, or a Javelin, but a Pencil, and a Pocket-Book: There I Studied on a Subject I had in view, and Wrote down my Thoughts, that, if I my self were obliged to go Home empty Handed, I might, at least, bring back my Pocket Book full. Nor is this way of Study to be Condemned, it is surprizing how much the mind is excited, by the Agitation and Motion of the Body; besides, the Woods, and Solitude, and the very silence which that sort of Hunting obliges to, are great helps to Thinking. Therefore pray, whenever you Hunt again, be sure, that with the rest of your Provisions, you carry a Table-Book, and quote my Authority [Page 13] for it. And you will find that Minerva Haunts the Woods no less than Diana.
For with a like consenting nod, and denying shake of my Head, I can answer your Expectations. For tho' I can Handsomely enough, especially at your Request, Excuse my self to the Bætici, for not appearing on their Behalf against a particular Person: Yet it will in no wise be consistent, with my Truth, and Constancy, Vertues which you esteem, to appear against a Province, which I have formerly [Page 14] obliged, by so many laborious, and hazardous Services. I will therefore steer a middle Course, and of the two things, which you leave to my Election to oblige you in, I will chuse that, which may not only content your present Inclination, but your Judgment likewise. For I am not so much to consider, what so excellent a Person, as you are, may desire just for the present, as what you are likely always to approve of. I hope to be at Rome about the Ides of October, and then to give Gallus a Proof of both our Friendships. In the mean time I give you leave to assure him, of my good Inclination towards him, [...]
For why should not I use Homer's Verses continually, when writing to you? Since you will not let me have any of your own; tho' I long for them to that degree, that I think such a Fee would Corrupt me to appear, even against the Bætici. I had like to have omitted, what I ought by no means to forget, that I have received your most excellent Palm-Apples, which I think do not yield to your Figs or Mushrooms.
Your Letter wherein you desire me to send you something of my Writing, came to me very Seasonably, as I was just preparing to do so. You have therefore only Spurred a free Horse, and at once, prevented your self of all Excuse, from taking the Pains to Correct it, and me, from the shame of asking you that Favour.
For now, it would not become me, to be afraid to make use of the Liberty offered me, nor you, to be displeased at what you your self have desired. But you are not to expect any thing New, from so lazy a Fellow. What I now beg of you, is again to Review the Oration which I made to my Townsmen, when I gave them a Library. I remember indeed you have already made some Remarks, but they were general ones, but now I desire that [Page 16] you would not only consider it in the general, but be as particular as you can in your Corrections, and fine off every roughness. For I shall still be at Liberty to publish it, or suppress it: And your Corrections may, perhaps, determine my Choice, which is yet doubtful, about it: For the frequency of them, will either show that it is not fit, or will make it fit for the Publick. But the Reasons of my doubt, do not arise so much, from the Stile, and manner, as from the Subject I treat of; which seems a little vainglorious. For being obliged to discourse of the Munificence of my Ancestors, and of my own, this alone appears an offence against Modesty, let the Stile be ever so low and humble. This is a dangerous and slippery Path, even tho' Necessity be the Excuse for getting into it; for if, while a Man is speaking in Praise of others, he is not heard with Pleasure, how can he be heard with Patience, when discoursing of himself, or his Family? And if we are apt to detract even from a handsome Action, how much more shall we do so, when we see it attended with a vain glorious Publication? Those good Deeds alone, escape Detraction, which are hid in Silence and Obscurity. Upon which account, I have often considered, whether, in what I have Written, I ought only to consult my self, or others also. Besides, I reflect, that most things, which are necessary to accompany [Page 17] the doing of a good Action, lose their Advantage, and Grace, the moment that Action is over. And, not to go farther for an Instance of it, what could I do more properly, at the time I was making my Townsmen such a Present, than to enlarge a little upon the Advantages of that sort of Liberality? As first, That by such means they would be disposed to spend their Hours in virtuous Studies; the Charms of which they might in time ben enabled to perceive more thoroughly. And again, That I had taken such care in the disposal of my Bounty, as not to repent it afterwards. And here it naturally came in my way to discourse of the Contempt of Riches: And tho' all Men seem under a natural Constraint to keep them, on the contrary, my well-weigh'd love of Liberality had freed me from those Chains of Avarice, in which so many are bound: And that my Munificence deserved the greater Commendation, because it was not the effect of a sudden Fancy, but of a deliberate Resolution. You may consider likewise, That as I had not given them Shows or Gladiators, but had engaged in a yearly Expence for the Improvement of the young Gentlemen there; what I than said might be the more necessary: For indeed the Pleasures we receive by the Eyes and Ears, are so far from wanting an Oration to recommend them, that they have more need of one to restrain us from them: But on the contrary, not only Rewards, [Page 18] but many Arguments are necessary to perswade any one to undergo the fatigue and labour of a good Education: And if Physicians are forced to give all the good Words they can, to get their Patients to take an unpleasant, tho' wholsom, Prescription; how much more fitting was it, for a Lover of the Publick, to introduce a most beneficial, tho' not equally popular, Donation, by a Discourse in its favour? Especially since I had endeavoured that what was given to the Parents might be an Advantage to their Posterity; and that the Honours some few had obtained, might encourage others to do the like, by studying to deserve them. But, as at that time I endeavoured more to do my Townsmen a Service, than to raise my own Reputation, in explaining the Intention and Usefulness of my Present to them; so now, in my Design of publishing this Piece, I fear 'twill be thought I have consulted, not the Advantage of others, but my own Glory. Besides, I consider how much more noble it is, to place the Reward of a good Action in the Consciousness, than in the Reputation of it. For Praise ought to come of it self, not to be sought after: and if, by chance, it does not follow a good Action, that Action is not to be the less esteem'd for not having acquired popular Applause. But they, who set off their good Actions by their own Words, seem not so much to talk of them, because they have done them, as to [Page 19] have done them, that they might talk of them. And the same thing, that would have sounded well in the Mouth of another, loses all its Grace in the Mouth of its Author. For when Men cannot condemn the Action itself, they accuse the doer of it of Vanity. So that if you do any thing fit only to be concealed, you are blamed for the very Action; If you do a Praise-worthy thing, you are blamed for the not concealing it. And indeed as I made this Oration, not before the common People, but before the Magistrates, not in the open Street, but in the Town-House; I am afraid that it will be absurd in me, by publishing it at this time, to pursue that vulgar Praise and Acclamation which I industriously avoided when I spoke it: And that I, who was then so apprehensive of appearing ambitious of the Favour of the People, as to shut out of Doors even them for whose Good what I had done, was intended; I should now court, with an apparent Ostentation, those who can reap no other Benefit from my Liberality, but the good Example of it. I have given you the Reasons of my being so backward; and I beg your Advice, which will be of sufficient Authority to determine me without farther deliberation.
'Tis a wonderful thing how reasonably we act, or at least seem to act, in the City upon particular Days; but not so every Day, nor many Days together. For if you ask any one, What have you been doing to Day? And that he answers, I was to congratulate with a Friend for his Son's arriving to Man's Estate; I was present at a Contract or a Wedding; one called me to be a Witness to his Will, another to assist him in a Law-Suit; another to have my Advice in some other Matter. These things will just then seem necessary Offices; but, if considered as done every Day, they must appear, to be sure, losing of time, and you'll be convinced of it much more, when you retire into the Country. For then I call to mind how many Days I have spent in most trivial Affairs; which Reflection I especially have, when in my Laurentin Villa, I read any thing, or write, or even take Care of my Body, the Prop and Support of the Mind. There I hear nothing of which I would chuse to be ignorant, nor speak any [Page 21] thing I wish unsaid again. No body detracts from me at another Man's Table by malicious Discourses; and I find fault with no body but only with my self, when I can't write to my Mind. I am perplexed with no Fears, I am not disquieted with any Reports: I speak only with my self and with my Books. O upright and sincere Life! O sweet and honourable Leisure, preferable (I had almost said) to any Business whatsoever! O Sea! O Shore! You true and private Studying-Place! How many things you dictate to me? How many things you occasion me to invent? Do you therefore, as soon as ever you can, leave that Noise, those vain Prattles, with all the Pains you are at to so little purpose, and betake yourself to Study or Recreation: Since 'tis better (as our Friend Atilius has no less learnedly than facetiously said) for a Man to be Jolly, than to be Busie in doing nothing.
Whatever Figure this City of our may have formerly made in the Belles Lettres, she seems in this Age to exceed her self; for which I cou'd produce you abundance of shining Instances, but shall at present content my self with one, and I mean the learned Euphrates.
'Twas my good Fortune to be thoroughly and intimately acquainted with him in Syria, when I was but a young and raw Soldier at my Studies in those Parts; who, finding me resolv'd on sparing no Pains to court his Friendship, soon sav'd me that trouble by his unreserv'd Openness and compleat Practice of that Humanity, which he makes it his Business to teach.
And I now feelingly wish I had ever been able to accomplish those Hopes, which he was then pleas'd to conceive of me, in any Proportion to that Augmentation which he himself has since added to the stock of his own Merits: Or perhaps I may at this Day admire 'em the more, because I understand 'em somewhat [Page 23] better; tho' even still I am far from pretending that I sufficiently do so. For, as in Painting Sculpture or Statuary, the very parallel Case is it in Literature; none but a Master can adequately judge of him, that is so! And yet, if I ben't mightily mistaken, there are more than a few Talents so exalted and so bright in Euphrates, as cannot well miss catching and delighting the Eye, even of the Tender-sighted.
His Disputations are acute, weighty, and elegant; frequently not short of the stretch and loftiness of Plato himself. As to his manner of Speaking, 'tis fluent, with a perpetual Variety; charming and sweet to the last Degree, and equally effectual either for leading, or driving an Opponent.
What I shall next mention is, That his Stature is tall and his Face comely; with a long Head o' Hair, and a large white Beard; which tho' but accidental and generally insignificant Circumstances, yet in him are peculiarly venerable. There's nothing shocking in his Aspect; no Melancholy, yet a great Gravity. Shou'd you happen to meet him, you'd instantly reverence him, without being the least dash'd at the sight of him.
'Tis a Question; whether the strict Probity of his Life, or the affable East of his Behaviour be most remarkable? His Method being to rebuke the Vice, not the Man, and to mend Faults, rather than rub hard upon 'em. He [Page 24] cou'd scarce give you a piece of Advice, but you'd be apt to run after him, and hang upon him for more. There's such a Pleasure in being convinc'd by him, a Body wou'd almost beg him to go back and argue it over again.
In the next Place he's the Parent of three Children, one of 'em a Girl; and no Care is omitted in his own Education of the two Boys. His Wife's Father, Pompey Julian, besides the rest of his Character, is particularly distinguishable in this; That in no less a Station than the Lieutenancy of a Province, he cou'd pick out such a Son-in-Law; not as any eminent Person in suitable Titles or Dignities, but meritoriously so in the preferable Capacity of Knowledge.
And now, except it be to vex my self the more, why do I dwell on the Thoughts of a Man, whom I'm debar'd from enjoying? Ty'd, as I am, to a State-Office of no less Slavery than Grandeur: My Fate is to be attending at a Treasury-Board, signing Petitions, auditing Accompts, scribling whole Packets of Letters, and, between You and Me, no very wise ones neither.
Nor indeed can I sometimes, as Opportunity offers, forbear making this very Complaint to Euphrates himself. But he truly spurs me on and encourages me, insisting upon it; that the Dispatch of Publick Business, the Hearing of Causes, the Passing Decrees, the re-search and distribution of Justice, and lastly, [Page 25] the putting into Practice the Theory of the Schools, are not barely Parts, but the most glorious Branches of Human Understanding.
This however is the only Point, in which He and I shall be likely to differ; it being next to impossible to allow any of these Matters equivalent, with the hearing from Morning to Night, and improving by his own inimitable Lectures.
I therefore take the liberty of advising you, who are happy Master of your own Time; directly to submit your self to this Filing and Polishing, as soon as you come next to Town; and, if I was you, I should not be long a coming.
To conclude, I am none of those who too often are inclinable to Envy and Grudge in others, all Advantages unenjoy'd by themselves; but can on the contrary, be sensible of no little Pleasure from seeing any of my Friends overflow and abound, in what perhaps is my own Misfortune to want even a Competence of.
'Tis an Age since you sent me a Letter. I've nothing to write, say you: That Excuse shall pass, provided you'll give it me under your Hand; or else a Word in the old Strain, thus; If you're well, 'tis pure; I'm the same. That's enough, and a great deal too. You fancy me in Jest; I'm not so merrily dispos'd. Let me know whether you are dead or alive, as you tender my Quiet.
An excessive Loss is befallen me, if that Monosyllable can express the parting with so valuable a Person! In a Word, Corellius [Page 27] Rufus is no more, and by a Death too of his own seeking; a galling Circumstance to my aching Heart; for 'tis a lamentable sort of Dissolution, where neither Nature nor Fate appear to have any Hand in it.
When Friends are snatch'd from us by common Sickness, the very Necessity of the Case is in some Degree its own Alleviation; but in self-destroying Instances, the dismal and provoking Reflection is, they might have kept us in Company longer.
This however may be said for Correllius, that as to matter of Reasoning upon the desperate Point, he had perhaps on his side some Arguments which a Man of Sense might reckon Compulsive, even tho' surrounded with all other Inducements for living; such as a quiet Conscience, a vast Reputation, a powerful Interest, a Wife, a Daughter, some Sisters, a Nephew, besides a Sett of endear'd and sincere Acquaintance. But so it was, that a painful and stubborn Infirmity surmounted all these Considerations.
The first appearance of the Gout upon him, as I remember from his own Account, was about the Three and Thirtieth Year of his Age. 'Twas indeed Paternal to him; for Distempers it seems have their indefeasible Successions and Inheritances, as well as better or worse things. Whilst his Vigour lasted, he kept it tolerably under by Abstinence and Regularity; till increasing upon him with declension of Life, he [Page 28] was laterly reduc'd to strength of Mind as his dernier-Reffort.
In one of the most racking and cruel of his Fits, for 'twas now wander'd from the Extreams all over him; and I well recollect, 'twas in the late Reign of Domitian, I happen'd to make him a Visit in the Suburbs, where he then lay; the Servants by laudable Oeconomy withdrew unbid, upon the Entrance of me, or any particular Crony: His faithful Spouse, who had nothing of the gossipping Baggage about her, was likewise pleased to leave us to ourselves. Immediately he rolls his Eyes; Ah, Pliny! says he, wherefore do'st thou imagine I endure these Torments so long; purely and only in hopes of surviving that Villain but four and twenty Hours; and, had my Body been a Match for my Soul, 'twould have answer'd my Purpose.
Gracious Providence however in due Time favour'd his longing. Now, thinks he, am I save and secure of Dying, as I was Born, a free Roman! and from that very Moment never more regarded any other Motive for loitering longer in this trifling World.
His Malady now began to gallop a-pace, notwithstanding his abstemious Regimen; and, when nothing would do, 'twas high time for his Spirit to sink. Not an Atom of any kind of Nourishment had pass'd his Lips for the last four Days. [Page 29]
In this distracted Juncture the disconsolate Hispulla hurries away Geminius, a mutual Well-wisher between us, to apprize me of her Husband's violent Intention; who persisting inflexible by her own or her Daughter's Diswasions, I was the only Man upon Earth to divert him from it.
As I was hastening thither with the utmost speed, a second Message from the same Hand, by Julius Atticus meets me in sight of the House, with the desponding News of its now being out of my Power to do any good, his Obstinacy growing every Minute stronger and stronger.
Upon the Physician's proffering him some what, it seems, by way of Support, he cou'd n't forbear dropping these Words; I am tir'd, and have determin'd! Which Expression, I must confess, not only raises my Admiration, but aggravates my Want of him. I am incessantly thinking what a Patron, what a Creature am I for ever depriv'd of!
He was indeed Sixty Seven, a reasonably Duration for any body; I know it. He's reliev'd out of a troublesome Scene too, and all his Ails are cur'd at once; I know it. He's likewise sufficiently provided with Heirs, having left a round Family behind him and what was still dearer him his Country in a [Page 30] flourishing Condition; I know all that too; and yet I can't help being as much concern'd for him, as tho he'ad expired in the very bloom of Youth, and the strength of Hercules.
To tell you the whole truth, and I'll venture your thinking amiss of me; I'm not a little disturb'd upon a private Score of my own; for I have lost, O Calestrius! I have lost the Guide, the Rule, the Staff of my Life. In short, and as I said to honest Calvisius, upon the first bursting of my Passion, I wish I don't slip into a looser Course of living.
Oblige me therefore with what Consolation you can, but not a tittle I beseech you of the ancient Gentleman, or the Invalid; for those Topicks, you see, are already useless. If possible, let it be somewhat that's quite New; somewhat that's surprisingly Great. I tell you before hand, it must be no manner of thing that I have ever yet heard, or ever yet read; for whole Heaps of Notions, both from Men and Books, are at my own Finger's Ends, and ready enough to assist me; but alas! all of 'em put together signify not one Straw to my present Occasion.
It is a Pleasure to me, that Letters are so Flourishing, and that Men are so ready to display their Talents: Tho' the Audience fills very slowly: Most of those that meet, are rather inclin'd to take a publick Seat, while away the time with a Story; and often ask, whether the Rehearser be enter'd, whether he has deliver'd his Preface, or almost finish'd his Piece; then perhaps they come but very lazily; and soon retreat before the Conclusion; some steal off in a fly manner, and others march away with the utmost Frankness, and Plain-Dealing.
It was otherwise in Days of Yore; when, we are told, that Claudius Cæsar, walking in the Palace, inquir'd the Cause of a Clamour he suddenly heard; and when it was reply'd, That it was the Rehearsal of Nonianus, he pushed eagerly thro' the Crowd, and surpriz'd [Page 32] the Speaker. Now every idle Fellow, tho' inform'd, and sollicited long before, either stays away, or, if he be so good-natur'd as to come, has the Face to complain, he has fool'd away a Day, purely because he was kept from losing it by better Employment. However, they are the more to be extoll'd, whose fondness for good Learning is not to be damp'd by the Pride or Indolence of the Hearer.
For my particular, I was desirous to encourage every Body; indeed most of them were my Friends. For few are Lovers of Literature, that are not, I persuade my self, at the same Time, Friends of mine. For these Reasons I prolong'd my stay in Town beyond my first design: Now I have it in my Power to retire again into the Country; and Write something, which I would not Rehearse, left I should be imagin'd to come with a Claim of Debt upon others, on the Score of my Attendance. For it is much the same thing in this, as in other Cases, a Favour is lost, if it be demanded back again. [Page 33]
The particular Opinion you have of my Choice of a Husband, for your Brother's Daughter, is very obliging; you well know how much I lov'd and esteem'd that great Man; with what Advice he cherish'd my Youth, and by his own Commendation, gave me the Credit of being thought Praise-worthy: You cou'd have injoyn'd me, nothing of greater Consequence, or more agreeable, nor any thing I wou'd undertake with more honour, than to chuse a Man fit to continue the Family of Arulenus Rusticus, which indeed might prove a Work of Time, did not Minucius Acilianus, luckily present, who, as young Men do each other (for he is some Years younger) loves me intimately, yet treats me with a Respect due to Age: He is pleas'd to be form'd and instructed by me, as I us'd to be by you. His Country is Bresica, of that Part of our Italy that does yet retain, and keeps up much of the ancient Modesty, Frugality, and even Rusticity. His Father Minucius Macrinus, eminent in the Equestrian Order, for he aimed no higher, [Page 34] being chose by Vespasian into the Prætorian, with great Constancy preferr'd and honest Ease, to this our Ambition (shall I call it) or Honour. His Grandmother of the Mother's side is Serana Procula of Padua; you are acquainted with the Manners of the Place, yet Serana is to the Patavins an Example of strict Vertue. His Uncle P. Acilius is a Man of singular Discretion, Prudence and Honesty; in truth, you will meet with nothing in the whole Family less agreeable than in your own. Acilianus himself has a great deal of Vigour and Industry, accompany'd with the utmost Modesty. And having already discharged the Offices of Quæstor, Tribune and Prætor with abundance of Credit, yet he has referr'd it to you to make his Court for him. He has a comely Face, a sanguine Complection, his whole Person Gentleman-like, with a becoming Gravity in his Mien, Things, I think, not to be disregarded, but due to the Merit of a virtuous Woman. I am in a doubt, whether I need take notice of the large Estate of his Father; for when I consider you, for whom we propose a Son-in-Law, I think I need not, when I reflect on the common Custom, and even the Laws of the City, which principally have regard to the Fortunes of Men, that seems by no means to be omitted, and to one that thinks of Posterity; this, in the making of a Match, is not the least material Consideration. Perhaps you will think I have indulg'd too much the Love of [Page 35] my Friend in this Account, but I will stake all my Credit you shall find every thing exceed my Description; I love the young Man indeed most ardently, as he deserves; but it is the Duty of Friendship, to be moderate in the Commendation of a Friend.
We had all Preparations in Form, a Lettuce to each Plate, three Snails, a Cake, with Mead, and a Refreshment of Snow, for this shall be in your Reckoning; nay, this in the first Place, that is waste and perishes on the Table; Spanish Olives, Gourds, Shalots, and a Thousand other Delicacies of that kind. You might have regal'd your Ears with a Player, a Reader, a Professor of the String, or, according to my Generosity, with all of them. But you was detain'd with I don't know who, and with other Fare, Oysters, [Page 36] Haslet, Rarities of Fish, and Spanish Dances.
You shall be punished for this more than I will at present tell you. It was very uncivilly done of you; you injured your self, as well as me in it. Heavens! How we might have been Diverted, have laugh'd and amus'd our selves! It is true, you may Sup with more Elegance in many Places; but no where with more Gaiety, Mirth, and honest Freedom. In short, do but try; and if after one Proof, you do not make your Excuse to your other Companions, then I will agree to accept of it.
I was charm'd with Pompeius Saturninus, our Friend, I mean: And was commending his Wit, before I knew the Variety, the Turn, the Plenty of it: But now I am his compleat Admirer. I have heard him pleading with Acuteness and Fire, and with equal Politeness and Grace, either upon Premeditation, [Page 37] or without it. He abounds in proper Expressions, a weighty and a decent Frame of Discourse, and Words that are Sounding, and of the antient Standard. This is all wonderfully pleasing, when it is carried on with a certain Force and Rapidity; and no less pleasing, when it is more restrain'd. You will come into my Sentiment, when you peruse his Orations; which you will easily match with any of the Antients, that he aims at Copying. And yet the same Man will oblige you more in History, by the Brevity, the Light, the Sweetness, the Splendor, and also by the Sublimity of Speaking. For there is the same Force in other Popular Discourses, as in Orations; only it is more close, drawn in, and circumscribed.
Besides, he writes a Verse equal to that of my Friend Catullus, or Calvus. What Elegance, Taste, Piquancy, Love, does he throw into it! But then, when he labours upon it, he works out a Number that have something more of the soft, the light, or the harsh; after the manner again of my Catullus or Calvus. He read to me lately a few Letters, which he assured me were done by his Spouse, I thought it was Plautus or Terence in a Prose-Dress.
Whether they be of her Hand, as he avows, or of his, which he denies, it is certain, or of his, which he denies, it is certain, that he merits the same Approbation for the Make of them, or the Refining of her, [Page 38] whom he Married a young Maid, to that Ability. I have him with me all the Day; and tho' he is still the same, before, or after I write, or when I retain him, yet he is ever new to me in the Perusal. I would persuade you to do the like; for it ought to be no disadvantage to his Works, that he is a Living Author.
Shall our Admiration of him, now present, be the less, when if he had been an Antient, we should have been eager in search, not only of his Books, but the Pictures, or Statues of him? It is a Mark of a base and an evil Nature, not to admire a Man that is entitled to it, because we happen to view, to converse with, to hear, to be free with him; and not only to applaud, but cultivate a Friendship with him.
Men have not yet lost all regard to the Offices of Friendship, there are some that carry it, even beyond the Grave. Titinius Capito obtained leave of our Emperor [Page 39] to place a Statue of L. Syllanus in the Forum. It is a handsome thing, and Praise worthy; so to use the Friendship of the Prince, and to try the Strength of your Interest, by the Honours of others. It is very much Capito's way, to shew regard to Men of Worth, it is wonderful in what Veneration, with what Satisfaction he had (in his own House when he may) the Images of the Bruti, the Cassii, the Cato's, and celebrates with excellent Verses, the Actions of each Great Man. You will easily believe he abounds in those Virtues himself he so loves in others. L. Syllanus has due Honour done him, whose immortality Capito has not better provided for, than his own, for it is not more Honourable or Remarkable to have, than to set up a Statue in the Forum of the Roman People.
You write, that you apprehend some ill Fate in your Cause, on the alarm of a Dream: And desire me to get an adjournment of it for some Days. 'Tis difficult to [Page 40] excuse a hearing to Morrow; however, I will make a Trial:
Yet it is of consequence to reflect, whether the usual Event be agreeable, or reverse to it. When I think upon mine, what is dreadful to you, seems to portend a Successful Action. I had undertaken the Cause of Julius Pastor, when my Mother-in-Law appear'd to me, in my Sleep, imploring upon her Knees, that I would not be employ'd in it. I was a young Fellow; the Action was Quadripartite, laid before a Bench, consisting of four different Courts in one; my Antagonists were Men of the greatest Power in the Town, and of nearness to the Emperor. Any of which Articles might shake my Courage after so Melancholly a Dream; Yet I appeared in it; thinking of the Verse;
For my Duty to my Friend was as dear to me as my Country, and this is to my Soul the most darling Consideration; it ended luckily. And that very Action spread my Name abroad, and open'd the Doors of Fame. Look, if you can imitate this Pattern, and convert your Dream to advantage: Or if you think the Rule of the most wary sort of Men to be most secure, write me back your Scruples. I will find out [Page 41] some turn or other, and so manage your Affair, that you may your self pursue it, when you please. For in truth, your Case is different from mine; since the Judgment of the Centumvirate cannot be delay'd; your Process may be suspended, tho' with great difficulty. Farewel.
You are my Towns-Man, my School-Fellow, and Partner in the same House, from my earliest Age. Your Father was well known to our Family and my self, as far as the Diversity of our Age has allow'd. All these are powerful Reasons, why I ought to engage in your Honour, and to augment it.
Your Post of Decurion among us is a Proof that your Income is a Hundred Sesterces; now to enjoy you not only in that Dignity, but also as a Roman Knight, I make you an offer of Three Hundred more, to make up the legal income of that Order. I promise my self from the Constancy of our Friendship, that you will not be forgetful of [Page 42] this Present. I do not admonish you, (which I ought to do, if I was not assur'd you would do it by voluntary Choice) to make as moderate a Use of the Advantage I have given you, as possible: For, that Honour, is to be guarded with the utmost Nicety, in which the kindness of a Friend is at once to be supported.
I Have often enter'd into a Dispute with a certain Person of Skill and Learning, who is the most highly pleas'd with a concise manner of Pleading. I agree to this if the Subject allows it; otherwise it is a Prevarication to pass over what ought to be express'd; or lightly to glance upon what is to be inculcated, press'd home, and repeated. For some Matters gain a certain Force and Weight by a longer stay upon them: Like the stroke of a Sword upon the Body. Upon this he fights me with Authority, and shows, among the Greeks the Orations of Lysias; among our Countrymen, those of the Gracchi, and [Page 43] of Cato, most of which are Remarkable for shortness.
I oppose to Lysias, Demosthenes, Æschines, Hyperides, and many others; to the Gracchi, and Cato, I oppose Pollio, Cæsar, Celius, and especially Marcus Tullius, whose best Oration is esteemed to be the largest. And really, a good Piece is like other good things, the larger the better. You are sensible that Statues, Figures, Pictures, Forms of Men, and other Animals, even of Trees, if they be Handsome, are recommended by nothing more then their Size. It is the same in Orations, and even a Volume it self takes a certain Grandeur and Beauty from the Bulk of it.
These, and several other Arguments of mine to the same purpose, as he is very slippery, and hard to be seiz'd, he so eludes, as to insist, that these very Masters of Pleading I build upon, spake less than they publish'd, I am of another Opinion. Witness many Orations by several Hands, and that of Cicero for Murena, and for Varenus; in which the Title only has a short and naked Account of some Crimes in the Charge. By this it appears, that he omitted in the Publication a good deal that was deliver'd in the Pleading. In his Oration for Cluentius, he tells us, That he Pleaded the whole Cause by himself, according to the antient Institution, and enlarg'd that of Cornelius to four Days. Which is an Assurance, that what he utter'd [Page 44] more extensively in many Days, as Occasion requir'd, after that was retrench'd, and narrow'd into one Book; tho' pretty Bulky. But a good Pleading is one thing, and an Oration another.
Some, I know, are of this Sense; but I (indeed I may be mistaken) am persuaded, it is possible, a Pleading may be good, and not make a good Oration: But a good Oration must be a good Pleading. For the Oration is the true Model and original Plea of the other. And therefore in the best of them we find a Thousand different manners of Speaking, that are unstudied. And in those, which we only know to be Published, as in those against Verres, the following Words—An Artist who? Well admonished, they reported it was Polycletus—Therefore it follows, that a Pleading is most compleat, which bears the nearest Resemblance to the Oration, if it has a just Time. But if that be denied, it is no Fault in the Oration, but a very great one in the Judge. The Laws second my Opinion, which indulge the longest Space of Time to the Speaker, and do not prescribe a Brevity, but a Copiousness of Speaking, that is, Study and Care: Which is not answer'd by Brevity, except in the shortest Causes. I will add, that I am taught by Practice, an excellent Master; I have often bore the Function of Advocate, Judge, and Council. Men are [Page 45] differently mov'd, and the smallest things often draw on the greatest. The Judgments, and Tastes of Men are various; so that many in hearing the same Cause, go often into a different, and sometimes into the same Opinion, by divers Motions of the Mind. Besides, each favours his own Invention, and embraces that as the strongest, which he himself foresaw, when it is said by another.
Therefore all must have something offer'd, to receive, and acknowledge, for their own; Regulus told me once, when we were together in Court, that I thought the whole extent of Matters belonging to the Cause, was to be taken in; now I presently see the Stress of it, and there I fix (he does indeed fix on the Point he chuses, but often errs in the Choice of it) I reply'd, what he call'd the Stress, or the Neck of the Cause, might be some other Part, the Knee, the Leg, the Ankle of it, by way of Comparison: But I, who cannot discover that, attempt all, and turn every stone. And as in Agriculture, I do not only cultivate the Vineyards, but the Underwood, and the Fields; and there, not only the Bread-Corn, or the fine Wheat, but the Barley, Beans, and other kinds of Pulse. So in Pleading, I do as it were cast a variety of Seeds widely, that I may get in the entire Produce of the whole.
For the Tempers of the Judges are as unknown, uncertain, and Deceitful, as those of the Seasons and of Soils. Nor am I Ignorant that Pericles the great Orator, is thus applauded by Eupolis the Comic Poet.
But then this same Pericles would not have been Master of that Charm, and that Softness, by his Brevity, or Swiftness, or both, (for they are different, ) without the greatest Faculty of Speaking. For to delight, and to persuade, requires a Copiousness, and a compass of Speaking: But to leave a Sting in the Mind of the Hearer belongs to him, that does not only give a Poignancy, but the deepest Impression. Add, what another Comic Poet has said of the same Pericles.
For it is not a Copy'd and a maim'd Expression, but one that is Ample, Magnificent, Lofty, which carries that force of Thunder and Lightning, as to bear down and astonish the Audience at Will. But Moderation is the best; who denies it? And yet that Law is broken, as well by him that Speaks too little, as too much; by a too close, as well as too [Page 47] Diffusive a Style. So that you often hear it Remarked, such a thing was Immoderate, and Redundant; such a thing was Jejune, and Feeble. One is said to have exceeded his Matter, another not to have fill'd it. Both equally offend, but one by Infirmity, the other, by Force: Which certainly is a Mark, tho' not of a more Correct, yet of a greater Wit. Not that upon this Head, I approve the excessive Speaker in Homer, but he who is Represented to let fall,
Yet if I was to chuse, I should pitch upon that kind of Speech, that resembles the Winter Snow; that is, frequent, pressing, large, and in short, Divine and Heavenly. But you will object, a short Pleading is more grateful to many. It is so; but only to the Supine, whose affected Nicety and Indolence of Humour, it is Ridiculous to call a Judgment. For if you advise with them, you must not only Speak briefly, but not at all.
This is so far my Opinion, which I will alter, if you disagree with it. But I would desire you to explain upon the Reason. For [Page 48] tho' I ought to yield to your Authority, yet I think it is more just, in so great a Subject, to be subdu'd by Reason, than Authority. And therefore, if I be not mistaken, let me know it in a Letter, however short you will make it: For that will confirm my Judgment; if otherwise let me have an Epistolary return, as long as possible.
I Ascribe very much both to the Delicacy of your Mind, and your Eye, not that you abound so much in Wisdom (do not flatter your self) but because you possess as much of it, as I have; and that is not inconsiderable. Without Jesting, I do imagine they are handsome Servants, that I have purchas'd by your Advice: I have only one thing to desire, and that is, to find them useful; which, in the case of these Market-Slaves, is better judg'd by hearing, than viewing of them. [Page 49]
I Am kept thus long in the City, by the sad Apprehension of the Danger Titus Aristo is in, from a long and stubborn Illness; one for whom I have a particular Love and Esteem: There is not a Man of more Prudence, of more Virtue or greater Learning; so that not He only, but in him Learning, and all the Politer Arts seem to be in the utmost Danger. what a Master is he of the Roman, as well as Civil Law? What a Treasure is he of Knowledge, of Precedents, of Antiquity, there is not any thing you would know, of which he cannot inform you? Whenever I am in doubt, he is to mean Oracle; what Truth, what Authority is there in all he says? How Graceful in him is Demur? What is there he does not presently comprehend? Yet he commonly deliberates; all his Doubt arises from the Diversity of Reasons, which he, with a piercing Judgment looks into, weighs, and searches to the bottom. His Temperance in Diet, the Plainness of his Dress, whenever I make him a Visit, give me a true Representation of our ancient Frugality. All [Page 50] these Accomplishments are adorn'd with a greatness of Soul, that does nothing for Ostentation, but acts upon Principle, and takes no Satisfaction in publick Applause, but in a Consciensciousness of doing well. There is no Comparison betwixt him and those that affect the Philosophers: He does not indeed follow the Schools, the Portico, or in long Disputations trifle away his own, and the Time of others; but in the true Business of his Profession is useful to many at the Bar, to more by his Advice. And to the best of Philosophers, in Integrity, Vertue, Justice and Fortitude, is not at all inferiour. Were you present, you would admire to see with what Patience he bears this Illness; how he struggles with the Pain, how he endures the Thrift, how he lyes without Motion, loaded with Cloaths, that the incredible heat of his Fever may perspire. He lately sent for me, and a few select Friends, and desired we would consult the Physicians about the issue of his Distemper, that if it were incurable, they might put an end to his Pain by Death; that if it were only dangerous, and like to be long, he wou'd endure it with Patience, and wait the Event: That there was such Prevalence in the Entreaties of his Wife, the Tears of his Daughter, and the Desire of Us, his Friends, that he would not frustrate our Hopes (if they had any ground) by a voluntary Death. This is most exalted, and worthy the highest Commendation. [Page 51] For excited by Passion, it is common for Men to run into the Arms of Death. But to deliberate, and weigh the Causes of it, and so to fix a Resolution, as the Reasons of Life or Death prevail, is the act of a great Mind only. The Physicians have given us Hope, God grant them Success, and me a release from this Trouble; then shall I return to my Laurentium, and again enjoy a studious Recess; for while I am watching him, my Anxiety will not suffer me to Read or Write. Thus have I vented to you, my Fears, my Wishes, and even my Designs; do you in return let me know how you have been employ'd, what you are doing, and what you intend, in a long Letter. It will be no small Consolation in present Uneasiness to find you have no Complaint.
You enquire, whether it be proper for you to persue your Employ in the Law, during the time of you Tribuneship. It is of Consequence, what is your Idea, of it: Whether you think it an empty Shadow, [Page 52] and a Title without Authority, or a Power that is Sacred, and not to be control'd. When I was Tribune, I was perhaps mistaken in thinking my self, to be of any Moment; but I manag'd no Causes as if I had been so. First, because I conceiv'd, it was very unseemly for a Man to stand when all were sitting, to whom all were oblig'd in Honour, to give Place: And for him to be under a Command of silence by the Glass, who had a right to enjoyn it to the whole Assembly; or for one, that ought not to be Interrupted, to hear a Reproach, and be accounted void of Spirit if he took it un-noted, or insolent, if he reveng'd it. And I had another disorder in my Eye, if either my Client, or Adversary should chance to aid him, or rest in Silence, and make my self a Private Man, as if I had abjur'd my Office. Upon these Motives, I rather chuse to be a Tribune to all, than an Advocate to a few. But I repeat it, you are much concern'd, to have a just Impression of this Office; and what Character you ought to assume; which a Man of Sense should adapt in that manner, as to keep it up with Decency. [Page 53]
Tranquillus, an Acquaintance of mine, has a mind to buy a Farm, that a Friend of yours (as I am told) intends to part with. Pray take care to make as good a Bargain for him as you can, for so he will be pleas'd with the Purchase, a dear Bargain being ever disagreeable to the Owner, as it seems to reproach his Judgment. But in this Farm, if the Price please, there are many things that suit my Tranquillus's tast: the little Distance from the City, the Convenience of the Road, the Smallness of the House, the Quantity of Ground, that may rather amuse then employ; for to Men studiously inclin'd, as he is, so much Ground is abundantly sufficient, as will serve to relieve the Mind, and divert the Eye, that when they step out, they may in one Walk, and at one View, see the Condition of this Plantation. I have given you this Account, that you may know how much I shall oblige him, and you me, if he buys that little Farm thus accommodated, upon so easy Terms, as my leave no room for Repentance. [Page 54]
AFTER a long Intermission, the publick Funeral of Virginius Rufus exhibits to the Roman People a goodly and memorable Shew of the greatest, most eminent, and equally happy Citizen. He liv'd thirty Years after his glorious Actions; saw Poems in his own Praise, read the History of himself, and knew how he should be transmitted to Posterity: He had past [Page 55] the third Consulship, that he might attain the highest Post in private Life, since he would not accept the Throne. Those Cæsars, to whom his Virtues rendred him suspected and hated, he surviv'd and left safe and well the best and most Worthy, as if he had been preserv'd for this very Honour of a publick Funeral. He has pass'd his eighty third Year in great Tranquility and no less Esteem; he enjoy'd a constant Health, except only that his Hand shook, but without Pain. The manner of his Death was long and sharp; but even this was attended with Circumstances of Credit, for as he was preparing an Oration of Thanks to the Prince for the Consulate, and had taken a large Volume, which by its Weight, old as he was, and standing, fell out of his Hand, he stoop'd to take it up, but lost his Footing upon a slippery Pavement, and falling, broke his Hip, which being ill set, and at such an Age, did not unite. This funeral was an Honour to the Prince, to the Age, and even to the Courts of Rome. His Oration was made by the Consul Cornelius Tacitus, and he arriv'd to this last Point of Happiness, to have the most eloquent Orator speak his Praise. He dy'd full of Years, full of Honours, even such as he had refus'd; we cannot but wish for him, and desire him as the Pattern of the former Age, but I feel the Loss of him in a particular manner, who did not only pay him publick Honour, but on a Personal Account lov'd, as much as I admir'd him. [Page 56] We were of the same Country, the Towns we liv'd in near, our Lands and Estates joyn'd; besides, being left by my Father, Guardian to me, he expressed the Affection of a Parent: when I was a Candidate, he honour'd me with his Vote and Interest. Even after he had retir'd from Business, he return'd whenever my Honour wanted his Assistance. On that Day the Priests are to appoint whom they think most worthy of the Priesthood, he always named me. And in his last Illness, fearing he should be one of the Quinquevirate, appointed by order of the Senate, to reduce the publick Expences: Of the many old Friends he had then living, and those of the Consular Order; Me he chose at this Age to supply his Place, with this remarkable Expression of his own, Tho' I had a Son, I wou'd commit this Charge to Thee. Wherefore I can do no less than lament his death to you, if it be fit, to bewail or call that death, by which the Mortality of so great a Man is rather ended, than his Life, for he lives, and will live for ever; tho' he is gone from among Men, he will be immortal in their Memory and Writings; I did intend to write about some other Matters, but my Mind is wholly taken up with this Contemplation: I think of Virginius, I see Virginius, I hear, I speak to, I hold Virginius by now vain Ideas, tho' fresh, to whom it may be we have, and may have, many Citizens equal in Virtue, in Glory None. [Page 57]
I Am very angry, whether I ought to be so, I can't consider, but very angry I am; you know Love is sometimes jealous, impatient often, inclinable to Resentment always: I have great Reason, I know not how just, but my Resentment suggests it to me as just, as it is great. I take it very ill that it is so long since I receiv'd a Letter; you have but one way to appease me, that is, by the length, as well as number of your Letters; I shall admit no other Excuse: I was not at ROME, or was full of Business, sha'nt serve the turn; God forbid any Indisposition should prevent. I am got into the Country, where I Study and am Idle by turns, the constant Effect of Leisure. [Page 58]
Isæus gave us the Promise of a bright Reputation, but has far exceeded it: He has the utmost command, plenty, and luxuriancy of Speaking. He always delivers himself in the readiest, and yet in the most exact Manner. His Style does not only carry the Purity of the Greek, but the Refinement of the Attic. His Openings are terse, easy, engaging; sometimes weighty and rais'd. He demands a number of his Questions from his Audience; and permits the Choice of others, and often the Sides, to them. He rises, dresses, begins; suddenly all is at hand, and in a manner all alike. His Sense more remote, his Words familiar; but of what kind? chosen and labour'd. Even in his sallies of Oratory, a vast Compass of Reading and Writing shines forth. His Preface is just; his Narration clear; his Reasoning forcible; his Consequences strong; his Ornament high: he informs, delights, and affects at once, (a Thing almost incredible:) His Turns of Logic are frequent; his Syllogisms bounded and determinate; which it must be a great Mastery [Page 59] to execute also in a proper Style. His Memory is hardly to be conceiv'd. He traces to the height what he uttered off-hand, and does not slip a Word. He arriv'd at this Habit by Study and Exercise: For, whether by Night or Day, his Acting, Hearing, Speaking, have no other Tendency. He is past the sixtieth Year of Life, and is not yet beyond the School; which indeed is the truest Scene of Simplicity, Sincerity and Goodness. For we, who are employ'd in the Court, and in real Disputes at Law, are obliged, tho' unwilling, to contract a large Vein of what is Evil. But in the School, and in the Auditory of Learning, the Cause is feign'd, and the Matter itself is naked and innocent; and not less happy, especially to Men in declining Years. For what is more fortunate in old Age, than that which was the most delightful in Youth? On this Foot I judge Isæus, not only the most Eloquent, but the most Blest of Men; and if you be not desirous to know him, you have the Insensibility of Marble or Iron. Therefore come, if not upon other Accounts, or mine, yet to be one of his Audience. Did you never read of a Man that took a Journey from the Streights to view the celebrated Livy, and departed after the first sight of him? It would be ungenerous, illiterate, dull, and even almost infamous, not to value a piece of Knowledge so pleasing, fair, and humane above all others. You will urge, perhaps, that you are already furnished with [Page 60] Reading equal to him: True, but you have always an Opportunity of Reading, not always of Hearing. Besides, we are apt to be most affected by the living Voice, or as we say, Word of Mouth. For, tho' what you read may be more acute, yet it strikes deeper in the Mind, what is fix'd in it by the Delivery, Countenance, Habit and Gesture of the Speaker; unless we can imagine that of Æschines to be false; who, upon reading the Oration of Demosthenes to the Rhodians, and a general Admiration it created, is said to have added: What if you had heard the Words of the Fury in Person, thundering it out to you? And Æschines was, if we may believe Demosthenes, possess'd of a Voice extreamly commanding. Yet he confess'd that the same was pronounced more perfectly by the Author. All this is intended to make you an Auditor of Isæus; if it goes no farther than the bare Hearing of him.
HAD your Father been indebted to one, or a Number more, than to me, you might perhaps in reason doubt whether you could come at an Inheritance, which even a Man found very uneasy to disencumber. But since I, on the single Tye to Affinity, to be my self the single Creditor, have discharged the rest, that were more Troublesome and Watchful: and since, during his Life, I made you a Present of a Hundred-Thousand Sesterces for your Portion on Marriage, over and above the Sum promised by your Father, out of Mine (for it was payable out of my Right.) This affords you a convincing Proof of my Kindness: in Confidence of which, you are bound in Duty to make good the Credit and Honour of the deceased. That I may perswade you to it, not meerly by Words, but solid Arguments, I present you with a Release of his Due to me. You have no Foundation to apprehend that this Free Gift will be inconvenient to my self, for tho' my Fortunes are moderate, my Figure in Life expensive, my [Page 62] Income, from the Condition of my Estate, as uncertain, as it is Inconsiderable; yet, what is defective in my Revenue, is repair'd by Oeconomy, which indeed is the source of my Generosity to others. It is true, it ought to be so manag'd as not to be drain'd by an extravagant Profusion; but this Management should take Place in others: as to you, I shall give my self an easy Account, however it may pass its common Limits.
I Have imparted to you the Action you have often desired, and I as frequently promis'd; yet not entire; for hitherto, only a Part is finish'd. In the mean Time, I thought it proper to submit what appear'd most compleat to your Judgment. I implore you to bestow the Attention of the Writer himself upon it; for nothing has ever fallen into my Hands, that is entitled to a greater Share of my Concern. For in other Actions my Care and Fidelity, in This, my Piety will be exposed to the [Page 63] Sentiments of the Publick. This enlarg'd the Piece to a Book; in the Pleasure I took to honour and advance my Country, and not only endeavour the Safety, but the Glory of it. Yet do you retrench it, on Occasion. For as often as I regard the Taste and Dislike of a Reader, I reflect, That Brevity it self is a Recommendation to a Book. Yet while I desire this Severity of you, I am oblig'd to beg a different Favour, That in the greatest Part of it you be more indulgent. For some Allowance is to be given to a youthful Hearer, if the Subject does not refuse it. So far, that we may fairly pursue the Descriptions of Places, which will occur frequently in this Book, not only in an Historical, but partly in a Poetical Light. Yet if any shall imagine me sometimes too florid for the Rigor of this Kind of Writing; his Spleen, (with Submission) may be atton'd by the other Branches of it. Indeed I attempted to lay hold on various Readers by a diversity of Stile, and tho' I am in Fear, that each may not approve every Part, according to his particular Temper; yet I think I may be confident, that the whole may come with Advantage to all, by the meer Variety of it: As at an Entertainment, tho' all the Company does not regale upon every Dish, they usually pay a Compliment to the whole; and what is disagreeable to the Appetite, does not lessen the Flavour of that which is taking. I would here be constru'd, not as believing I have gain'd [Page 64] my Point, but only labour'd to attain it: and perhaps not in vain, if you will assist me in the Present, now and then in the Following. You will say perhaps that you cannot perform it with due Care, unless you know the whole Action; I acknowledge it; yet these will become immediately familiar to you; and some are of that Nature, that they may be corrected by you in Parts. As if you view the distinct Head or Limb of a Statue, you cannot judge of the Harmony and Proportion by it, yet you may decide whether that Part be elegantly perform'd. Hence the Beginnings of Books are carry'd about, on the Principle, that a Part, without the Rest, may be well finished. A certain Relish of talking with you has brought me farther than I design'd; but now I will conclude, that I may not transgress the Measure, in an Epistle, which I prescribe to an Oration.
IT would be too long, and of no Consequence to repeat, on what Occasion it befel me, tho' no great Acquaintance, to Sup with one that look'd upon himself as Master of a very handsome and nice Table, while I view'd him as one that was both sordid and lavish. For some choice things were set before himself and a few others; while the rest were put off with lower Fare. He parted his Wine in three Divisions, each in Vessels of the smallest Size; not to debar a Right of refusing it: One kind was allotted to himself, and us, another to his inferior Friends (for even his Friends are rank'd in Order, and take their Degrees) another for the Freedmen, that belong'd to all of us. He that lay next to me on the Couch, observ'd it, and asked me, how I liked the Method? I expressed a Distaste at it. Then replies he, What is your Practice? I set the same Things before all Persons; for I invite them to a Supper not to an Auction; and it is my Custom to put my Guests upon [Page 66] a Level, as at Bed and Board, so in every Particular. What, your Freedmen too? Certainly; for I look upon them at those Hours, as Companions, not as Servants. Then pursues he, This must be very costly to you: Not at all; How is that possible, for my Freedmen do not drink the same as I do, but I drink the same as they? And really, if you have the Skill of managing your Palate, it would not be dissatisfactory to share with many, what you appoint for your private Use. Therefore that is to be repress'd and reduc'd to Order, if you would spare a Charge, which sometimes you may adjust more properly by your own self-denial, than an Insult upon another. But you will allege, what is the Aim of all this? Why, that you, who are a young Fellow of a very promising Nature, may not be imposed upon by the immense Luxury of some Men, under a Show of good Husbandry. Not it suits my Affection towards you, when any Incident of this kind happens, to admonish you by some Pattern, what you ought to decline. Remember then, that nothing more is to be avoided, than this odd Conjunction of Luxury and Penury; which are very mean and odious, when they are distinct and separate, but far more, when they meet together. [Page 67]
YEsterday a triumphal Statue was decreed by the Senate to Vestricius Spurinna, at the Motion of the Emperor, not so as to many, that never stood in Battle, never beheld a Camp, never heard, in short, the Sound of a Trumpet, except in the publick Shows; but as to such, who have acquired that Honour by Toil, Blood, and Feats of Arms. For Spurinna had brought the King of the Bructeri into his Realm by force of War; and even subdu'd that rugged Nation, by the Sight and Terror of it, the most honourable kind of Victory. This was a Reward of his Valour, but it was likewise a Consolation to his Grief, That the Distinction of a Statue was given to his Son Cottius, whom he lost in his Absence. This is a Glory very rare in a young Man, but it was due to the Merit of his Father, whose Wound was so painful, that it required an uncommon Remedy. Besides, Cottius himself gave so fair a Dawn of Genius, that his Short and narrow Life, had a Claim to be prolong'd by this sort of Immortality, [Page 68] For he was possess'd of that Sanctity of Manners, that Staidness, that Authority, that he might challenge his Elders in Virtues, whom now he equals in Honour. It is indeed of that Tendency, as far as I can judge, as not only to be suitable to the Memory of the Deceased, and the Anguish of a Father, but to the Use of Example. For these Returns assign'd to the Young, if they be Men of Worth, will incite them to good Pursuits; and Persons of Eminence will be inflam'd to put their Sons in a hopeful Channel of Education, when they beat in view the Joys they will reap by their Living, and the glorious Supports they will find in the Loss of them. Upon these Motives, I rejoyce in the Statue of Cottius on a publick, nor less, on a private Account. My Love to that consummate Youth was equal to my present Impatience in the Want of him. This will be a Spring of Satisfaction to me, often to eye and gaze upon his Image, to make a Stand under it, and to walk beside it. For if the Figures of the Dead at home cultivate our Sorrow, how much more will those contribute to it, that do not only represent their Form and Visage to us in the most conspicuous Place, but their Honour and Renown. [Page 69]
Do you study? or go a Fishing? or ride a Hunting? or do all these together? Since our Larius gives you an Opportunity for 'em all: for this Lake affords a Plenty of Fish; the Woods that surround it, Game, and that most profound Retreat, Study. But whether you follow 'em all, or any one thing, I cannot say I envy you: Nevertheless 'tis a Torment to me that I cannot enjoy those things, for which I long, with as much ardour, as feavourish Persons do for Wine, or Baths, or Fountains. Shall I never be able to break, if I cannot dissolve, these intolerable Bonds? I think I never shall. For fresh Business throng on the back of the old, before these are quite finish'd; and the Weight of my Affairs is encreas'd upon me every Day, like an Addition of so many Cords and Chains.
I Am restless and anxious about the Petition of my Friend Sextus Euritius; I am affected with a deep Concern upon it; and a sollicitude, which I never endur'd for myself; I feel, as it were, for another Me; and otherwise indeed, my Credit, Esteem, and Character might suffer: I procur'd him the Senatorian Habit, and the Questorship of Cæsar. By my Suffrage he is come to a Right of Petitioning for the Office of Tribune; which if he does not carry in the Senate, I am afraid, that Cæsar will think i have impos'd upon him; so that I must labour the point, that all may entertain the same Opinion of him, as I have infus'd into the Emperor. If I wanted this Incentive to my Zeal, yet I should desire to assist a young Gentleman of the utmost Probity, good Sense, and Learning; One that is worthy of the highest Approbation, as well as his whole Family. For his Father was Euritius Clarus, a Man of ancient Virtue, Eloquent, well vers'd in the Practice of the Bar, which he supported with great Honesty, and equal Steadiness and [Page 71] Modesty. His Uncle was C. Septitius, than whom I never knew any thing more True, Plain-dealing, Candid, or Faithful. They are all equal Rivals in the Love of me: I have now an opportunity to requite them all in one; so that I lay hold on my Friends, am a supplicant to them, visit them round, go about their usual Stands in Public, and try by my Addresses, what degree of Power and Favour I am Master of with them. I must beg of you in your Turn, to undertake a Part of my Burden: I shall return it, whether you demand a Requital, or no. You are Belov'd, Courted, Frequented: Only show your Inclination, and others will sometime be found to Second your Wishes.
YOU a Man of Patience and Deliberation? Take my Word for't, your truer Character is Hard-heartedness and downright Cruelty; to go to smother and bury such Performances, as you are Author of, in so tedious and faulty a Privacy! How far will this envious and malicious Modesty of yours, against your self [Page 72] and us, proceed; this niggardly grudging of universal Applauses to your own Merit, and of exquisite Pleasure to all Mankind?
Nay! I can tall you; several of your Poems are already abroad, having broken Prison, unknown perhaps to their Goaler; and except you your self take special Care to recollect 'em into a profess'd Volume of your own; I likewise assure you, That they'll soon find childless Fumblers enough, ready to Father such beautiful Stragglers.
Set methinks, before your Eyes, the State of our Mortality! against the Desolation of which, you have no other Countermine in Nature, but this sole and single sort of Monument; all manner of other Things being like our selves, frail, finite, and transitory.
I expect, I own, your usual Answer; That you'll refer this Matter to your Executors! I therefore wish to those doughty Trustees, Fidelity enough, Learning enough, and Industry enough, for the Discharge of so accurate and laborious a Task; and that having so notable [Page 73] an Example before 'em! they mayn't fail of punctually performing what they'll then remember, even your self to have been so indifferent about, and so negligent of.
You would then taste the Satisfaction, which I have long and confidently presaged for you, of standing encompass'd by the best of Hearers, and of seeing your self justly complemented, not only with loud Admirations and resounding Applauses, but by an eager, profound, and attentive Silence; the latter of which Encouragements, in all like Cases of my own, I have ever preferred to the more noisy Acclamations.
Rob not therefore your elaborate Studies of so plentiful and promising a Harvest of Fame, by that endless and evasive Delay of yours! which, if once extended beyond Bounds, may be lyable to the Imputation of sloth and Indolence, if not of Pusillanimity.
YOU us'd to be wonderfully delighted, when any Thing pass'd in the Senate, which was more than ordinarily worthy of that august Assembly: From whence, tho' your Health perhaps has oblig'd you to retire, because of the Fatigue; yet you still are employing your Thoughts in a generous Concern for the publick Honour.
A Report therefore mayn't be unacceptable to you, of what has lately been enacted within those Walls; in a Point no less famous for the Quality of the Criminal, than beneficial by the strict Settlement of a Precedent, and ever memorable for its important Consequence.
Cornelius Tacitus and I, being by Appointment retain'd for the Appellants, thought is incumbent upon us to acquaint the Legislature, That the Cruelty and Barbarity of Priscus's [Page 75] Administration had exceeded the Nature of such Crimes, as are properly cognizable by inferior Courts of Judicature; the Charge being no less, than the receiving several Sums of Money for influencing the Condemnations, and warranting the Executions of divers innocent Persons.
One of the Counsel for the Defendant was Fronto Catius, who earnestly sollicited to fix the whole Accusation upon no other Foot, than the particular Statutes against Bribery; and, being exquisitely skill'd at moving the Passions, fill'd all the Sails, as 'twere, of his Pleading with a certain Air of Commiseration.
A warm Debate arose, and was carry'd on with no little Vehemence o' both Sides; some maintaining that the Senate was precluded from Enquiries of this Sort, by having repos'd 'em in the Hands, of the Law; others, that the free and absolute Jurisdiction was upon Occasion perpetually resident in themselves, and that the Punishment ought to be proportion'd to the Misdemeanour.
At last, Julius Ferox being Consul elect, and a Man of great Justice and Integrity, propos'd to remit Marius himself to the subordinate Judges; and rather to cite those before the House, who had been guilty of purchasing such horrid Iniquities of him.
This Motion however, did not by any Means prevail, but was drop'd single and unseconded after all the Bustle; for 'tis by Experience no unusual [Page 76] Remark, that the tender Inclination shall make vigorous Efforts at first, and yet vanish afterwards, by a gradual Submission, to the overswaying Dictates of Reason. And hence it is, that so many are apt to espouse, under a joint and confus'd Clamour, what few or none would care separately to Patronize in a silent Audience; for there's a strange Eclaircissement of Things in a Stillness, which lie lazy and undiscern'd, whilst a Man is in the buzz of a Crowd.
Vitellius Honoratus, and Flavius Martianus attended, according to Order; the former of 'em being impeach'd of having procur'd the Banishment of a Roman Knight, and the very Deaths of seven of his Friends, at the Price of Three Hundred Thousand Sesterces; the latter, of expending Seven Hundred Thousand of the same Coin, for inflicting still a greater variety of Penalties upon one single Person of the Equestrian Rank; which injur'd Gentleman was first Bastinado'd, then condemn'd to the Mines, and at last strangled in the Dungeon.
Martianus being brought before the House, in the Absence of Priscus; Tutius Cerealis, who had formerly been Consul, insisted upon Privilege, that the latter shou'd be appriz'd of it; either in Pity, or to render him more Odious [Page 77] perhaps, by showing his Face; or, as I rather imagine, in an equitable Consideration, that the joint Crime shou'd be together defended, or upon Conviction impartially punished. 'Twas adjourn'd however to their next Meeting, the very Appearance of which was surprisingly Venerable.
The Emperor himself, as Consul, presided. 'Twas likewise the Month of January, as in many other respects, particularly Remarkable for a full Senate. But, besides the Season of the Year; the very Weight of the Cause, the natural Rise of Expectation from Delay, the Rumour of the Thing, and the human Fondness for Rarity or Novelty, had now summon'd every individual Member.
You may easily guess what a Confusion we were in, to be oblig'd to speak upon such a Point, in such an Assembly, and before such a Cæsar! For my own Part, I had already pleaded there oftner than once; nor indeed was I ever heard with greater Indulgence in any other Place; and yet, upon this critical Emergence, every Thing appeared fresh, uncommon, and terrifying to me.
Besides the forementioned Difficulties, I must fairly confess to you another Scruple. Sometimes Priscus ran in my Head, as distinguish'd by Consular-Dignity: Then again I consider'd him as one of the seven Overseers of the Festival-Sacrifices; and the very next Moment as degraded and strip'd of both! Now, thought [Page 78] I, will it look hard in me, to exaggerate Matters against a Man, whom every body reckons as already Cast; the flagrance of whose Guilt, tho' all are sensible of, they may yet be apt inwardly to favour him, from a natural Pity for his presumptive Condemnation. However, I recollected my Reason and took Courage.
As soon as I open'd my Lips, the candour of the Audience was as great, as my Fright had been. I went on, I believe, very near five Hours; for, besides the ten large Water-Clocks at first granted me, I had the Allowance of four more. Such a Difference is there, between the Perplexity of Premeditation, and the volubility of actual Speaking!
Trajan indeed himself was pleas'd to show so much Kindness and Care, I presume not to say Concern, for me, as frequently to admonish my Freed-man, who stood behind me, that I ought to spare my Voice and save my Lungs, whenever his Imperial Majesty apprehended that I exerted my self beyond the slightness of my Constitution.
I was reply'd to by Claudius Marcellinus, who was Advocate for Martianus, and then the House adjourned to the Day following, since no further Proceeding could the begin, without the Sun-set coming upon it.
Cornelius Tacitus made a very eloquent, and (which is the Perfection of his manner of Pleading) a very weighty Reply. Fronto Catius again spoke excellently well for Marius; and as then the Occasion required, made a longer Stay on his Petition, than the Defence. His Plea took up that Evening, but did not end with it. So that the Proofs and Evidence were extended to the third Day. It was a Circumstance very great and distinguishing, and like the Ancients; for the Senate, after a Summons, and a Session of three Days, to break up in the Night. Cornutus Tertullus, design'd Consul, a Man of Note, and a zealous Advocate for the Truth, adjudged it, That the 700000 Sesterces, receiv'd by Marius, should be confiscated, and himself interdicted the City and Italy; that Martianus, besides that, should be interdicted Afric. He added, in the Conclusion of his Sentence, That I and Tacitus perform'd the Office of Advocate, that was enjoyn'd us, with Care and Courage; and that the Senate was of Opinion, That we had behav'd our selves in a manner becoming our Charge. This was agree'd to by the design'd Consuls, and by all the Consular-Men, as far as Pompeius Collega. He was for the Confiscation, [Page 80] and a five Year's Banishment of Martianus; and for leaving Marius under the Penalty of Bribery, which he now suffer'd: There was a Multitude of Votes on both sides; but perhaps more in the latter, either somewhat eas'd or soften'd. For even some of those that appear'd to give their Assent to Cornutus, follow'd him that gave Sentence after them. But when a Separation was made, they who stood by the Seats of the consuls, began to go among the Votes of Cornutus; and then they, who suffer'd themselves to be reckon'd of the Party of Collega, pass'd on the other side: Collega was left with a few, and complain'd very much afterward of his Leaders, especially of Regulus, who deserted him in a Sentence that he himself had propos'd.
But in other Cases, Regulus is of so changeable a Temper, as to be mov'd equally by the Extreams of Daring and Fear. This put an end to this extensive Action; yet there remain'd an Office to discharge that was not inconsiderable; Hostilius Firminus, the Delegate of Marius, who was taken into the Cause, and warmly pursu'd. For he was prov'd, by the Accounts of Martianus, and by his own Discourse on the Bench of the Decurions of Leptis, to have lent his Assistance to Priscus in a very dishonourable Service, and to have contracted, on the Account of Martianus, for 50000 Denarii; and to have received besides 10000 Sesterces, on an ill Title, in the [Page 81] Name of a Perfumer, which was agreeable enough to the Life of a Man, that was always delicate and nice in his Dress and Figure. Cornutus decreed, That his Affair should be referr'd to the next Senate, for then he was absent; whether by Chance, or Design, is uncertain. These are the principal Occurrences of the Town: Now let me have in return, the News of the Country: How you go on with your Nursery of Greens, your Vineyards, your Corn, your Cattle. In fine, If you do not make up an Epistle of equal Length, you have no Reason to expect any other, than a very short one, for the future.
I Cannot assure my self, Whether the Point I hinted in my last, remaining to be adjusted in the Cause of Marius, be done concisely enough; and yet it has been pretty much eras'd. Firminus was brought into the Senate, to answer a known Arraignment; and several Opinions of the design'd Consuls follow'd upon [Page 82] it. Cornutus Tertullus was for degrading him; Acutius Nerva for dropping him, in the Allotment of the Province. This, tho' the milder Sentence, prevail'd; but otherwise, this one would have imagin'd more harsh and uneasy. For what can be more unhappy, than for a Man, devested of Senatorian Honours, to be still confin'd to Fatigue and Trouble? What can be more heavy than to suffer a Disgrace so publick, and yet not to lie conceal'd, but set forth to View, on an Eminence, to be pointed at for an Example? Besides, what can be more shocking or disagreeable in the Eye of the World, than for one that is mark'd by the Senate, to sit amongst them, and seem equal to those, by whom he is branded? And tho' he is remov'd from the Proconsulate, for Misconduct in his Deputation, yet to give Judgment upon the Proconsuls? And for one that is condemn'd for indirect Practices, to condemn or acquit others? But the Majority esteem'd this to be a lighter Matter: For Votes are reckoned by Number, not Weight; and this is all that is feasible in a Publick Council, where nothing is more Unequal than the Equality it self, which all enjoy. For the Wisdom of them is disproportioned, but the Right the same. Now I have discharg'd my Promise, and sav'd the Credit of my former Letter; which I conclude, by the Interval of Time, you have now receiv'd. I put it into the Hands of an expeditious and careful Messenger, [Page 83] unless he met with any Interruption by the Way. It is your Business to return both these Epistles, in the most copious Manner, that the Subject will allow.
YOU readily embrace all Opportunities of serving me, and I am not so willingly oblig'd to any body as your self; for both these Reasons therefore, I am an earnest Petitioner to you for a Favour, I hope, I shall not be deny'd. You have long had the Command of a great Army, which must have given you the Power of doing much good, and advancing your Friends; now think of mine, they are not many, tho' the Number with you wou'd be no Objection: I have not Assurance to ask for above one or two, or rather but one; That shall be Voconius Romanus, whose Father was honourable in the Equestrian Degree; his Father-in-Law (another Father indeed to him) more so: He succeeded him in his Name and Virtue; his Mother was of one of the best Family of the Higher [Page 84] Spain, you know the Reputation of that Province. He was himself lately Priest of Jove: When we were Students together, we contracted a Friendship; he was my constant Companion in City or Country; we liv'd together with all imaginable Freedom, for there never was a better Friend, or more agreeable Company: There is something wonderfully taking both in his Person and Conversation: He is a Man of surprizing Genius, of a fine, pleasant and ready Wit, and has an extraordinary Talent for Pleading, and writes Letters in such a Style, you would think the very Muses spoke Latin. I love him passionately, nor in that will he be out-done. In our Youth indeed, I did him all the good Offices that Age would allow, and lately obtained of the best of Emperors, for him, the Benefit of the Law, that indulges those that have three Children, which tho' he give very sparingly, and with Caution, he granted to me, as of his own Choice: I know not how so well to preserve a Sense of the Services I have done him, as by an Addition, especially since he receives every fresh Favour so gratefully, as to merit my future Friendship.
You see what he is, how well approv'd and esteem'd by me, whom I recommend to your Favour and good Opinion. Pray think him worthy of your Friendship, for whatever your Generosity can bestow on him besides, will hold no Competition with that, of which [Page 85] you may think him in the most intimate manner deserving. I have given you a short Account of his Studies, his Manners, nay, a Sketch of his whole Life. I wou'd enlarge my Request, but that I know you do not love to be press'd; and I had been doing it throughout this Letter, for he asks, and asks most effectually, that gives his Reasons for so doing.
YOUR Conjecture is right: I am taken up with Causes of the Centumviri, which are an Exercise, rather than a Delight to me. For most of them are small and insignificant; you rarely meet with any that are Remarkable, either for the Eminence of the Persons, or the Importance of the Matter. Besides, there are few that afford a Pleasure in speaking them; the rest are extravagantly bold, and mostly obscure. Young Men come hither to Declaim, with so slender a Regard or Precaution, that my Friend Attilius express'd himself very justly, That Striplings open in Court with the Causes, [Page 86] as they begin with Homer in the Schools. For in both Places, what is the greatest, is set the first. But I have often been inform'd by Men of advanc'd Years (for it is beyond the reach of my Memory) that even young Noblemen of the highest Rank were not admitted here, unless recommended by some Consular Man; a Business of that Consequence was so tenderly manag'd. Now all is promiscuously free, without the least respect to Modesty or Decency; nor are they introduc'd, but they break in upon us. They are follow'd by Auditors, that have the Resemblance of Pleaders; Slaves are hir'd or ransom'd; they assemble in the middle of the Court, where the Dole is as openly dispens'd, as in a Dining-Room. They pass from Cause to Cause with the same Reward: From this they are pleasantly enough call'd sofokleij, Applauders; and in Latin Laudicoeni, Parasites: and yet the Infamy that is pointed out by the Expression in either Tongue, encreases daily. Yesterday two of my Name-Prompters, (of that Age which has just assum'd the manly Gown) were drawn in by three Denarii a-piece to commend the Speaker; this is your Price, to be esteem'd a great Orator. At this Rate, the Seats, however numerous, are fill'd; a large Circle of Audience is form'd, and endless Clamours are rais'd, when the Ruler of the Company has given the Signal. For the want of Understanding, and even of Hearing, makes a sign [Page 87] Necessary; most are incapable of Hearing, and yet are the loudest in their Praise. If you pass thro' the Court, and would know the Method of Speaking that is severally practis'd by each, you need not mount the Bench, or listen, but may easily divine it. Be assur'd that the worst Speaker is the most extoll'd. Largius Licinius was the first that introduc'd this Way of Hearing; so far only, as to get an Audience together. This I have been told by my Master Quintilian; I was (said he) a Follower of Domitius when he spoke gravely and slowly, according to his Turn of Action, before the Centumviri. He hear'd and immoderate and uncommon Noise from a neighbouring Place; was surpriz'd, and paus'd at it. When Silence was made, he repeats what he broke off; a second Cry arose, and then a Silence: He resum'd his Speech, and enquir'd at last who was Haranguing: It was answer'd, Licinius. Then, suspending the Cause, he said, Gentlemen of the Centumvirate, This Art of Speaking is lost. And indeed, what began to decline, when Aser imagin'd it was sinking, is now almost totally destroy'd, and overthrown. I blush to relate what is here deliver'd; how broken the Utterance; only Claps of Applause are wanting to attend on this Rhetorical Cant; or rather a few Cymbals alone, or Tabors, to accompany the Confort. Hooting (for the thing cannot be express'd by another Term) which is a manner of [Page 88] Praising, not very much becoming even a Theatre, is very lavishly perform'd. Yet I am still detain'd here by the Interest of my Friends, and the Consideration of my Age. For, I am afraid it should be thought I did not take Leave of these Meannesses, but only avoided the Drudgery of them. Yet I am less frequently there, than usual, which is the way to put a gradual End to the Employment.
HOW do you like your old Marsian Grounds? How do you relish your new Bargain? Do you approve your Acres, since they are become your own? This is not very common: For nothing is so grateful in the Enjoyment, as in the Desire. My Mother's Farm does not serve me well; yet as her's, it is agreeable: Or else I am grown Insensible by long Patience. Constant Complaints have this Effect in the End, That we are asham'd to Complain longer. [Page 89]
YOU admonish me, with your usual Concern, that the Codicil of Acilian appointing me in part his Heir, is to be looked upon as not validly written, since it is not confirm'd by his Will. I am no Stranger to this Point of Law, for many are acquainted with it, that are otherwise very Ignorant; but I have prescrib'd a particular Law to my self; and that is, To guard the Wills of the Deceased, tho' legally Defective, as if they were Compleat. However, it is plain that this Codicil was written by the Hand of Acilian. Therefore, tho' it is not ratified by his Testament, I will observe it, as if it had that Sanction; especially, since there is no Room for a Plea in Bar to it, or an Informer. For, if it was to be fear'd that the People should seize what I had given, I should be oblig'd, perhaps, to be more Deliberate and Wary: But since it is lawful for an Heir to make a Donation of what remains on computing his Inheritance, it is no Hindrance to my private Rule, since the publick Laws are not repugnant to it. [Page 90]
YOU admire that I am so entirely charm'd with my Laurentine-Seat, or if you like the Phrase better, my Laurens. But you will cease your Wonder, when you know the Beauty of the Villa, the Advantage of the Situation and the Compass of the Shore. The Distance of it is seventeen Miles from the City, so that, in the decline of the Day, when you have finish'd your Affairs, you may make a commodious Stay in it. There is more than a single Road to it; for the Laurentine and Ostian ways both carry you to it, but the former is to be left at the fourteenth Stone, the latter at the eleventh. In both, you go upon a sandy Track, that is something heavier and more tiresome to a Carriage, but quick and easy to a single Horse. The Landskip on either Hand is finely diversified; for sometimes the Way is narrow'd by meeting Woods, sometimes enlarg'd by open Pasture Grounds. The [Page 91] Flocks of Sheep, and Herds of Cattle are numerous; which, as soon as the Winter disappears upon the Hills, begin to look Plump and glossy, by the young Grass and warmth of the Spring. The Villa it self, is capacious enough for all proper Uses, and not too costly to support. In the Fore-part of it, is a Court, moderately large, and not sordidly little: Then a range of Cloisters, bending to an Oval; (like the Letter O) and inclosing a small, but pleasant Area. These are very good Retreat from the Weather; for they are defended with Glass-work, and more with Roofs, that jutt over them. Opposite to the middle of them is a chearful Gallery; then a Parlour handsome enough, running out to the Shore; and when the Sea is put in Motion by the South-West Wind, it is gently wash'd by the Waves, that are now almost spent and broken. On every Side are Openings, or Windows, equal in Size to them; and so, from the Wings and Front, it commands a Prospect, as it were, of three Seas: From the back part it looks to the Gallery; the Cloister, the Area, and again to the Cloister; and presently to the Court, the Woods, and the neighbouring Mountains. On the Left, something more retiring, is a large Bed-chamber; then another, as spacious, which lets in the Rising Sun thro' one Window, and the Setting at the other. This, and another beneath it, views the Sea, more remotely indeed, but with more Safety. [Page 92]
By the Facing of this Bed-chamber, and the Dining Room, is form'd an Angle, that receives the clearest Sun, and improves the Warmth of it. This is a Winter Convenience. This is likewise a Place of Exercise and Sport for my People. There all the Winds are hush'd; except those that bring on a cloudy Sky, and remove the Serene, before they take away the Use and Warmth of the Place. Adjoining to this Angle is an Apartments Circular, lie a Target; which follows the Course of the Sun, with all its Windows; a Case of Shelves is let into its Wall, in the Fashion of a small Library, that receives a Set of Books, not to be merely read over, but us'd constantly. Contiguous is part of a Dormitory, with an intermediate Passage; rais'd aloft and Wainscotted; proper to disperse on each Part the enclos'd Warmth, in a Degree that is kindly and wholsome. The remaining Part of this Wing is employ'd in the Uses of Servants and Freed-men; and yet the Offices are most of them so neatly kept, that they are fit for Entertainment. On the other Side is a very elegant Lodging; then a wide Chamber, and a tolerable Dining-Room, that reflects very brightly the Sun-shine, and the Gleam of the Sea. Behind this, a Bed-chamber, with an Anti-Room; by the Height, fit for Summer, by the Strength, as proper for Winter. For it is remote from every Breath of Wind. To this another is join'd, and a kind of Lobby; [Page 93] with one common Partition. Then a cool Cell for a Bath, broad and spacious, in whose opposite Walls, two Basins are hollowed, as jutting out; of a Circumference big enough to supply the Water, if you are inclin'd to swim in the Place that is near to them. Near is the Anointing-Stove and a Furnace for the Bagnio; then two Bathing Cells more neat than costly; a warm Pool is surprizingly close to them; in which you may swim, and enjoy the Prospect of the Sea; and not far off is a Bowling-Green, that meets the warmest Sun, towards the Fall of the Day. Then a Turret rises; beneath are two Parlours, and as many within; besides a Banquetting-House that looks forward to a great breadth of Sea, and length of Shore, as well as a Variety of the most delightful Country-houses, There is too another Tower; in this is another Bed-chamber, where you are oblig'd with the rising and setting Sun; and after, you find a large Store-house and a Barn. Near this is a Parlour, which amuses you only with the sound and breaking of a troubled Sea; and that very languid and wearing away. It views a Garden and a broad Walk; with which that Garden is surrounded. The Walk is surrounded with Box or Rosemary, where the Box is wanting. For the Box, where it is defended by the Buildings, is wonderfully Green; but it withers, if exposed to the open Sky and Wind, and the Damp of the [Page 94] Sea tho' distant. Near the Alley is a young shady Vineyard, soft and yielding even to the naked Feet. The Garden is covered with the Fig and the Mulberry in abundance; for the Soil is particularly kind to those Trees, and more ill-natur'd to the rest. This affords a Prospect in a farther dining-Room, not Inferior to the Look of the Sea. It is encompassed with two Summer-houses behind; the Porch of the Villa is beneath the Windows, and another Garden, that is something coarse and rustick. Hence a Piazza is extended, much in the Fashion of a publick Building; Windows are on both Sides to the Sea, numerous; to the Garden single; and a few more lofty. Some may be inoffensively open, when the Day is calm and serene; and all in that Quarter, where the Winds are compos'd, tho' in others they may be troublesome. Before the Piazza, is a covered Walk, perfum'd with Violets. The Piazza augments the Force of the full sun by Reflection; as it retains the Sun, it fences off the North Wind; and the Cool behind is equal to the Heat before. In the same Manner it checks the South West Wind; and so different Winds by different Sides are broken and bounded. This Agreeableness of it is the less in Winter, and greater in the Summer; for in the Forenoon it relieves the covered Walk; in the Afternoon the broad Alley; and the nearest Part of the Garden by its Shade; which, as the Day advances, or [Page 95] decays, is cast either way in a longer or a shorter Projection. But the Piazza it self, is then freest from the Sun, when he is most blazing and vertical to it. Besides, it admits and conveys the West Winds through the open Lights, and is never clogg'd with a dull or a stagnating air. In the Head of the covered Walk is another Portico; it is the main Summer-house of the Garden; my Delight, and indeed, my Mistress; I my self contriv'd it. In this, a Solar one way views the close Walk; by another, the Sea, by both, the Sun; as a Bed-chamber by folding-Doors, and the Portico by a Window. Where the Sea flows against the Center of the Wall, The Summer-house withdraws it self very elegantly; which is added or removed from my Bed-chamber, by Windows, and Curtains, drawn or opened. It holds a Bed and two Chairs; at the Foot is the Sea, behind are Country Houses, in the Front are the Woods; It divides and unites this Variety of Appearance by an equal Number of Casements. A chamber, proper for the Night and Repose, is adjoining to it; where you are not sensible of the prating of Servants, the murmur of the Sea, the motions of the Weather, or the flash of Lightenings, or even of the Day, except the Windows be open. The Cause of this profound Secrecy, is this: That an Alley separates the Wall of the Chamber and Garden, and so deadens all the Sound, by the [Page 96] intermediate Vacuity. A very small Stove is apply'd to the Chamber, which either emits or preserves the Heat that is put under it; by a narrow Vent, as the Occasion demands. Then a Fore-Room and Chamber is stretch'd out to the Sun, which directly takes it, in the Rising, and obliquely in the Afternoon. When I retire into this Summer-House, I imagine my self absent from my own Villa; and the greatest Diversion I taste of it, is in the Time of the Saturnalia; when the rest of the House is stunn'd by the License of the Season, and the Noise of the Festival. For I neither obstruct the Mirth of my People, nor do they interfere with my Studies. Now all this Convenience and Pleasure is destitute of Living-Water; but it abounds in Wells, or rather a kind of Springs; for the nature of the Shoar is really wonderful. You readily meet with Water, whatever you remove the Ground; and it is very clear, nor partaking in the least of a brackish Taste, from the nearness of the Sea. The neighbouring Wood-Land affords a plenty of Billets and Timber; other Accommodations you have from the Colony of Ostia. A moderate Man would be satisfied with a Village that is divided only by one Country-House from mine; but here are three Baths of Hire, which is a great Convenience, if either a sudden Return, or too short a Stay should disswade you from heating the Bath at Home. The Tops of Rural Seats here continued, and [Page 97] there intermitted, set off the Shoar with a very pleading Diversity. They give the Look of many Towns, whether you survey them by Sea or Land; and the Shoar is often sooth'd by a lasting Calm, but more frequently ruffled by an adverse Wave. The Sea indeed does not abound with Fishes of great Value; yet it affords very good Soles, and Sprawns. But my House furnishes me with several Conveniencies of the Inland Parts, and chiefly Milk. For the Cattle retreat hither from the open Grounds, when they desire the Water and the Shade. Do not you thin that I have just Reason to frequent, to inhabit, to love this Recess? If you do not wish for it, you are too much a Man of the Town; I hope your Inclination will turn that way, for nothing can add more to all these Qualifications of my Hermitage than your Company.
WHAT command could you lay upon me more delightful, than to enquire for a Master to your Brother's Children? My return [Page 98] to the School is your Favour: I almost resume that agreeable Stage of Life; I sit, according to Custom, among the young Scholars, and experience the Authority I have among them, on the Merit of my Studies, For lately, in a full Auditory, when many of our Patrician Rank were conversing aloud with one another in an open Manner; as soon as I enter'd, they were silent; which I would not relate, if it did not tend more to their Credit than my own; and if I was not fond to give you Hopes that your Kinsmen are likely to make a good Proficiency in Learning. As to what remains, as soon as I hear all that pretend to the Muses there, I will write to you my Sentiments about them: and will endeavour to perswade you, that you have already heard them your self, as far as an Epistle can represent it. For I owe this Concern on so great an Affair; I owe this Duty to your self, and to the Memory of your Brother. For what can be of more Importance to you, than to make the children (I would call them yours, if on this Occasion you did not love them better than your own) worthy of him their Father, and of you their Uncle? This is a Care I would have challenged, if you had not entrusted me with it. Nor am I ignorant that Offence must be risqu'd in the Choice of a Master; but I ought not only to hazard an Offence, but a Pique, in behalf of these young Gentlemen, with equal Satisfaction, as Parents are willing to bear it for their own Children. [Page 99]
YOU press me to recite a Pleading to a knot of Friends; I will comply with your Instance, tho' I am extreamly scrupulous about it. For I am not insensible that an Action rehearsed will lose all its Force, its Spirit, and almost its very Name. Since it is usually recommended and kindled up at once by the Bench of Judges, the Number of Advocates, the Expectation of the Event, the Fame of more than one Pleader, and the concern of the Audience, divided among the several Parties; besides the Gesture, Walk, and even the moderate running about of the Speaker, and the vigour of the Body, suited to all the Motions of the Mind. Whence it happens, that they who Plead in a sitting Posture, tho' in the main they have the same Advantage as if they stood, yet by the mere Circumstance of sitting, are weaken'd and depress'd. But in reciting, the principal Helps of Utterance, the Eyes and Hands are obstructed: so that it is the less surprising if the Attention of the Audience begins to flag; mov'd by no outward Allurements, [Page 100] and awaken'd by no stings of Passion. Add, that this Pleading is of a Controversial Nature, and it is natural to think that what is penn'd with Difficulty, is heard with the same. And indeed, who is so just an Auditor, as not to be more highly pleas'd by the Tuneful and the Inviting, than the Close and the Severe? The Difference is nauseous, yet it is commonly the Cafe, that the Hearers demand one thing, and the Judges another; since otherwise the Auditor ought to be mostly affected, as he would be in the Character of a Judge. Yet possibly, amidst all these Inconveniences, Novelty may add Grace to the Book among our Countrymen. For the Greeks have something not altogether unlike it, tho' of a different kind. It was their Practice to prove by Companion, when they would demonstrate a Law to be contrary to the former: so we, in objecting to the Law of Bribery, are obliged to compare it with itself and with others. Which, however grateful it may be to the Ears of the Unknowing, yet ought to be so much the more favoured by the Skillful. But if I rehearse, I will make use only of the most eminently Learned; but weight it with your self impartially, whether it is proper to be recited; and set all the Reasons that I know on either side in Ballance; give the Preference to the best Arguments; for you will be accountable; I shall be excus'd by my Complaisance to you. [Page 101]
LOOK me some Copper, and I'll pay you a Golden Story for it; nay, a String of them; for a fresh Tale reminds me of a Number before it; and it is no matter where I begin. Verania, Piso's Lady, (that Piso, I mean who was adopted by Galba) lay dangerously ill: Regulus paid her a Visit. First, mark the Impudence of the Fellow, to approach a sick Woman, when he was a profess'd Enemy to her Husband, and extreamly odious to her self. So far, good, had it been a bare Visit; but he drew his Seat very near the Bed, and enquired what Day and Hour she was born. As soon as he heard it, he set his Face in form, put on an earnest Look, mov'd his Lips, shak'd his Fingers, but counted upon them nothing at all, any further than putting the Wretch in suspense with a tedious Expectation: You are, says he, past your Climacteric, but you will recover; and to convince you better of it, I will consult a Diviner, whom I have often try'd. Without delay, he makes a Sacrifice, and affirms, That the Intestines agree with the Signification [Page 102] of the Stars. She more inclin'd by her Danger to be credulous, requir'd her Will, writes down a Legacy to Regulus; presently sickens to a fatal Degree, and exclaims, in a dying Condition, O villainous, perfidious Man, and more than perjur'd! Who swore to her falsly by the Health of his Son. This is the Practice of Regulus, as impious, as it is frequent, to imprecate the Anger of the Gods, whom he daily mocks, on the Life of the unhappy Child.
Valleius Blesus, that rich Consular-Man, was sick to an Extremity; he desir'd to alter his Will. Regulus, who promis'd himself an Advantage by that Change, as he had lately tamper'd with him, began to exhort the Physicians, and urge them by all possible Methods to prolong the Life of the Patient. When the Will was sign'd, he varies his Character, turns his Address, and speaks to the same Physicians, How long do you torture the Afflicted? Why do you envy him an easy Death, when you cannot protract his Life; Blesus expires; and as if he heard all that fell from him, did not leave a Farthing to Regulus.
Aurelia, a Woman of Fashion, on the point of signing her Will, laid her Hands on a very fine suit of Cloaths. When she came to sign, Regulus said to her, I would beg the Favour of you to leave these to me. Aurelia thought [Page 103] the Man was in Jest; he press'd her seriously: Immediately she commanded her Woman to open the Tables, and put him down the Dress she wore for a Legacy. He observ'd her Writing, and look'd whether she had written it. And truly, Aurelia is alive; yet ye oblig'd her to this, as if she was dying. And he takes an Inheritance, he receives a Legacy, as if he deserv'd it. But why do I stay in that City, where Impudence and Knavery have long since been more largely recompens'd than Modesty and Virtue? Look upon Regulus, who advanc'd his Fortune from Poverty to Riches by ill Methods; so far, that he told me himself, when he consulted the Soothsayer, how soon he should make up six Hundred Sesterces, that he found the Entrails doubled, which portended that he should raise it to a Thousand, and two Hundred. And he will have it, if, as he has begun, he proceeds to dispose of what he belongs to others according to his own Pleasure.
I Cannot reflect upon a more delightful Scene than I lately enjoy'd with Spurinna; so far, that I do not know a Man I should be more desirous to emulate in old Age, if I should happen to reach it. For nothing can be more formal than that kind of Life; and I own, I [Page 105] am equally pleas'd with the regular Lives of Men, especially those in advanc'd Years, as with the certain Course of the Stars: In Youth a little Confusion, and as it were a Disorder, is not unbecoming; but all that is smooth and orderly is most proper to the ages, in whom Industry would be too late, and Ambition Infamous. Spurinna constantly observes this Rule; and besides, he brings these small Matters (small, were they not daily repeated,) round in a kind of Circle, with great Exactness. In the Morning he keeps his Bed, till he dresses, two Hours after Sun-rise, takes a Walk of three Miles, and gives Exercise to his Mind, as well as Body. If his Friends be with him, the best Conversation is open'd; if not, a Book is read; even sometimes when they are Present, if they be not disinclin'd to it. Then he sits down, and again something is read, or Talk is begun, as either is most agreeable. Presently after he mounts his Chariot, and takes his Spouse along with him; a Lady of a singular good Character, or one of his Friends, as my self on the last Opportunity of that Nature. How beautiful and charming is that Retreat! What Antiquity, History, Characters, one hears in it! What Lessons do you receive? Tho' his Modesty gives that Temper to the Discourse, that he does not seem to dictate at all. After we have taken a Range of seven Miles, again he walks a Mile; then takes his Chair, or returns [Page 106] to his Chamber, and sets himself to writing. For he writes both in Greek and Latin, but is the greatest Master in the Lyric Way. The sweetness, ease and gaiety of his Productions, is wonderful; and the Character of the Writer adds a Grace to them. When he is told the Bath-Hour, which in winter is Nine, in Summer, Eight, he walks naked in the Sun-shine, if the Air be still. Then he diverts himself at Tennis for a good while with Vigour; for this is an Exercise that struggles with Age. After the Bathing is over, he takes his Coach, but delays the Meal for some time; and in the Interval, hears something read, that is more Amusing and Pleasant. In all this Course his Friends have the liberty either to pursue the same, or another Method, as they judge proper. Then Supper is set upon the Table, in a frugal, and yet an elegant Manner, all in Plate, that is ancient, and of the Standard. Some of the Equipage to his Table is Corinthian; he is pleas'd but not much smitten with it. His Supper is often distinguish'd by Recitals of the Comedians, to give his very Pleasures a seasoning of Study. His Supper takes up a Part of the Night, even in Summer. This is not tedious to any, the Treat is so genteely prolong'd. Hence he preserves his Sight and Hearing so entire, after Seventy Seven: His Body hale and sprightly, and a cautious Way of Living, in which [Page 107] he is only directed by his Age. I run forward to this Method in my Thought and Wishes, and should be very fond to enter upon it, as soon as Time begins to sound my Retreat: Till then, I am wearing amidst a thousand Fatigues, in which this same Spurinna is a Support, and a Pattern to me. For he also, as far as has consisted with his Honour, has serv'd a Variety of Offices; gone through several Posts in the Government; has had the Command of Provinces, and has earn'd his present Quiet with immense Labour. Therefore I prescribe the same Course and Bound to my self, and I now set my Hand to it, before you, That if you find I pass by this Limit, you may appeal to this Letter, and enjoyn me, in vertue of these Presents, to be easy, as soon as I may stand clear of the Charge of Supineness and Inaction. [Page 108]
WHAT I would gladly have done to serve any of your Friends, I think I may with Justice lay claim to for mine. Arianus Maturus is Chief of the Alcinates. When I call him so, I do not mean on account of his Estate, which is very sufficient, but his Chastity, his Justice, his Gravity and Prudence: I take his Opinion in Business, I use his Judgment in my Studies; for he is a Man of great Honour, Truth and Understanding. His Affection to me I cannot shew in a better Light, than by placing it with yours: He is without Ambition, and therefore has kept in the Equestrian, when he might have attain'd the highest Dignity. He is, however, entitl'd to all the Honour and Service I can do him. I shall have a particular Pleasure, if I can add to his Dignity when he least thinks of, and perhaps will not care to accept it; to find some Post for him [Page 109] that may be honourable, yet easy to execute. As soon as any such is vacant, I desire you will bestow it upon him; you will make me, you will make him your grateful Debtor: For tho' he does not solicite for an Employment, his Gratitude will accept it as the greatest Obligation.
SINCE I paid so great a Respect to your Father, (who was a Person of uncommon Value and Character) that I cannot avow, whether my Admiration or Love for his was superior; and since I carry on that Affection to you in his Memory and Honour, I can't help desiring, and endeavouring as far as I can, to make your Son resemble his Grandfather. I prefer indeed him by the Mother's Side, tho' he, by the Father's, was a Man well approv'd and reputed; and his Father himself, and Uncle, are distinguish'd by a particular Fame. His Growth will be [Page 110] equal to them, if he be train'd up in a liberal Education; and the Hand that is to form him, is of the first Importance to it. As yet, his tender Age has confin'd him to your Eye, and domestick Tutors, where there is little or no room to go astray. But now his Studies are to be carry'd beyond the Threshold: You must look about for a Latin Master of Rhetorick, whose School maintains a due Severity, a Sense of Shame, which is the main Thing, and a chaste Management. For our Youth is possess'd, among other gifts of Nature and Fortune, of a great personal Beauty; that requires, in this slippery State of Life, not only an Instructor, but a Guardian, and a Governor. I think I can warrant Julius Genitor to you. I love the Man, yet my Esteem for him, which is founded upon Judgment, is no prejudice to that Judgment. He is a Man of correct Life, and prudent; indeed, something too rugged and hard, for this Libertine Age. You may plentifully find his Mastery in Eloquence; for an open and plain Faculty of speaking is presently discerned. Humane Life has a variety of Depths and Caverns in it; in all which, take my Word for Genitor. Your Son will hear nothing from him, that will not be useful; and learn nothing, which it were better not to know. He will be admonish'd by him as frequently as by you and my self, what Images of his Ancestors he is to honour, what celebrated Names he must [Page 111] answer. And therefore, by the Favour of Heaven, commit him to a master, who will first give a Frame to his Manners, and then to his Eloquence; which is ill learn'd without them.
THO' the Friends I have met, and the Talk of the World seem to approve my Action, yet I reckon much upon your Sentiments about it. For as I desir'd your Advice in the Run of the Affair, I should be very glad of your Judgment in the Close of it. When I made an excursion into Tuscany, in order to see about a publick Building, at my own Expence; and had received my private Charges as Lord of the Treasury, The Deputies of the Province of Bætica, in forming their Complaint against the Proconsulate of Cæcilius Classicus, petitioned the Senate, that I might be their Advocate. My very worthy Friends, my Collegues, after a previous Speech upon the Exigences of that common Office, try'd to excuse and exempt me from it. A [Page 112] very honourable Decree pass'd the House, that I should be Advocate for the Provincial Party, if they could obtain my own Consent. Then the Deputies were introduc'd again, and as I was present, re-demanded me for their Advocate; imploring my Fidelity to them, which they experienc'd in the Cause against Bebius Massa, alledging a covenant of patronizing them. This was follow'd by an Assent of the Senate, much to my Credit; such an one as usually precedes a Decree. I reply'd, that I now forbore to think that my Pleas of Excuse were just. They were pleas'd both with the Modesty of my Answer and the Reason of it. I was reduc'd to take this Step, not only by the Consent of the Senate (tho' this was the leading Motive) but that of others; of less Account indeed, but innumerable. I remind my self, that our Predecessors had prosecuted the Wrongs of particular Friends, by voluntary Indictments; which gave it a more unhandsome Look, to neglect the Rights of the Publick. Besides, when I reflected what Dangers I underwent in a former Advocation for the same People of Bætica, I thought it needful to keep up the Merit of an old good Turn, by a new Kindness. For it is very much the Nature of Things, that you overthrow a past Favour, if you do not renew it: If you deny one Thing, those you have obliged, will remember only that Denial. I was the more induc'd to it, since Classicus was not [Page 113] living; and the Danger of a Senator was remov'd, which is commonly the most forbidding Circumstance in Causes of this Nature: So that I found my Defence was liable to as fair an Acceptance, as if her were alive and to no Ill-will. I short, I computed thus, That if I perform'd this Function now a third Time, my Excuse would be easier, if I happen'd after to light upon one whom I ought not to accuse. For since there is a Boundary sometime to all Duties, a Compliance is the best Preparation to have an Indulgence of future Liberty. You have not view'd the Motives of my Design; it remains that you give my your Opinion, on either Hand of the Question; in which I shall be equally delighted with the plain Freedom of your Dissent, as with the Authority of your Approbation.
YOU give me a great Pleasure, in reading, collecting and enquiring so carefully into the Works of my Uncle. I will discharge the Part of an Index; and will also inform [Page 114] you, in what Method, they were penn'd. For this is no disagreeable a Part of Knowledge to the Studious. He wrote one Treatise on the Art of slinging the Spear or Javelin, as practis'd in the Cavalry. This he compos'd with equal Care and Skill, when he commanded a Wing of the Army. Two of the Life of Pomponius Secundus (his Particular Friend) a Debt he paid his Memory. Twenty of the German Wars, being a compleat View of them. He enter'd upon them when he serv'd in Germany, from the impulse of a Dream. The Shape of Drufus Nero stood near him in a slumber; who, after a large Conquest, dy'd in that Country. He recommended his Memory to him, and entreated him to rescue it from Oblivion. Three of a Student, divided into six Volumes, for the Bulk of them, in which he Instructs and Perfects the Orator from his earliest Years. Eight of a Miscellaneous Kind, written in the last Years of Nero, when Slavery made every kind of Study, that is of a more free and exalted Nature, dangerous. Thirty One from the Conclusion of Ausidius Bassus's History. Thirty Seven of natural History; a Work diffusive, learned, and as various as Nature itself. Do you wonder that a Man of Business finish'd so many Volumes, the Particulars of which are often so Nice and Delicate? It will add to your Wonder, when you know, that he was employ'd in Pleading for a good Space of Time, [Page 115] and dy'd in his Fifty Sixth Year. It is well known that his middle Age was taken up by the most Considerable Offices, and by the intimacy of Princes. But his Wit was acute, his Study incredible, his Vigilance extraordinary. He began his Lucubrations from the Feast of Vulcan, not for an auspicious Beginning, but for the sake of Study: in Summer, presently after Mid-Night; in Winter, at Seven; or, when latest, at Eight, often at Six. He was indeed a very moderate Sleeper; and sometimes a Slumber came upon him, and left him again in the midst of his Studies. Before Day he went to the Emperor Vespasian, for he likewise us'd the Night in the same manner; then returning Home to his appointed Office, spent the remainder of his Time in Study, after eating a light and easy Meal, after the Custom of the Antients. If he had any leisure Time in Summer, he lay down in the open Sun: A Book was read, and he took his Notes and Minutes upon it; for he read nothing without making an Extract from it. He was accustom'd to say, no Book was so ill pen'd, but it might in some degree be serviceable. After this relaxation in the Warmth, he commonly bath'd in cold Water; then he took a slight Taste of something Eatable, and a short Repose. Immediately, as if the Day was renew'd, he studied till Supper-time: after that a Book was read, and in a cursory Way remark'd upon. I remember, that one of his Friends, when the [Page 116] Reader made a Mistake in the Pronuntiation, call'd him back, and oblig'd him to repeat it; my Uncle gave him a Reprimand; Did you understand it? Very well, he answer'd. Why then did you recall him? We have lost above ten Verses by your Interruption: So great was the Husbandry of his Time. In Summer he rose from Supper by Day-light; in Winter, within the first Hour of the Night; and all this ins the midst of his Labours, and the Din of the Town, as if some Law had confin'd him to it. Only when he retir'd to Bath, his Time was reliev'd from Study: When I speak of the Bath, I mean the most private Parts of it; for while he is chaf'd and dry'd, he ever us'd to hear or dictate something. In a Journey, as if he was free from other Cares, he found a Vacancy for this only. He took along with him by his side, an Amanuensis, with a Book, and Writing Tables, whose Hands in Winter were guarded with Gloves, that the inclemency of the Air it self might not invade the Time of Study; upon which Account, in Rome he was carry'd in a Sedan. I remember that I had a Rebuke of him for Walking; you might not, says he, fling away these Hours: for he imagin'd all the Time was lost, which was not bestow'd upon his Studies. By this constant Application he finish'd so many Volumes; and left me 160 Commentaries of select Subjects, written even on the Back, and done in very small Characters; so that by this Reckoning the [Page 117] Number is really doubled. He assur'd me that he could, during the Time of his Spanish Government, have sold these Commentaries to Lartius Licinius, for four Hundred Sesterces, and then they were something fewer. Do not you think, when you reflect on the Compass of his Reading and Writing, that he was neither employ'd in Offices, nor a particular Favourite of Great Men: and again, when you hear what Labour he bestow'd upon his Studies, that he neither wrote nor read enough. For what can you conceive that might not be obstructed by those Affairs, or perform'd by this close Attention: So that it creates a Smile to me, when some Men call me Studious; that, if compar'd with him, am the most Idle of all Mankind. But here I am not single, for I am partly taken up by publick Cares, and partly the private Offices of my Friends. Ney, who among those that devote their whole Life to Letters, if set in Comparison with him, would not blush, as if he was given up to Sleep and Laziness? I have stretched my Epistle beyond Bounds, tho' indeed I determin'd only to write what your requir'd; that is, what Books he left behind him. Yet I am confident, that this Account of him will be as grateful to you, as the Books themselves; for it may excite you not only to read them, but to work up something like them, by a Spur of Emulation. [Page 118]
I Have lately out the the Estate which fell to me, made a Purchase of a Corinthian Statue; it is indeed a small one, but elegant, and much to the Life, if I have any Taste, who perhaps in every thing, in this certainly have but very little; and yet even I taste the Beauties of this Statue.
It represents an old Man in a standing Posture; the Bones, Muscles, Nerves, Veins, nay, the very Wrincles speaks Life and Breath. The Hairs are thin and parting; the Forehead broad, the Face shrivel'd; the Neck slender; the Arms dangle, the Breasts flatten, and the Belly hollows and is retir'd.
I bought it indeed, not with any View of placing it at Home, (for as yet I am Master of no Corinthians) but of fixing it in some Famous Place of our Country; and, to chuse, in the Temple of Jupiter; for it seems a Present worthy of the Temple, worthy of the God.
You then, as you are ever at my Devoir, undertake to Order a Pedestal out of Hand, made out of what Marble you please, capable of holding my Name and Titles, if you judge them not to improper to be added.
I will send the Statue as soon as I can find any body who will not grudge taking that Trouble upon him; or, which better suits your Wish, bring it with me: For I determine, if the Duty of my Post gives me leave, to make an Excursion your Way. You are pleas'd, I see, with my Promise of coming; but you'll be angry at my adding, it is but for a Day or two: The truth is, The Reasons that forbid my long Stay, are the very same that prevent my immediate Coming. [Page 120]
I AM just now inform'd of the Death of Silius Italicus; in his Neapolitan Farm, occasioned by a Habit of Illness, arising from too long an Abstinence. He was afflicted with an incurable Tumour in the Foot; a lingring Evil, which he bore with Constancy, to his Decease. A Man, entirely happy to the last, except in the Loss of the youngest of his two Sons; but he left the eldest and better of them in a flourishing State, and past the Consulship. He impair'd his Reputation under Nero: He was believ'd to second his violent Impeachments very willingly; but he behav'd himself very wisely and agreeably in his Friendship with Vitellius: He acquir'd great Applause, as Proconsul of Asia, and wip'd off the Stain of his former ill-turn'd Application by a laudable Indolence. Among the principal Men of the City, he seem'd insensible of Power, and was therefore without Envy. He was much saluted and courted; and while he was very much confin'd to his Bed, his Character was fill'd with a Number, that did [Page 121] not address him on the Score of his Fortune. When at leisure from Writing, he past the Day in the most learned Conversation. He wrote Verse with more Labour than Fire; and sometimes try'd the Judgments of Men, by Rehearsing. Lately, inclin'd by his Years, he retir'd from the City, and made his Abode in Campania; and was not remov'd, even by the Arrival of the New-Emperor TRAJAN, in that Country. It was a distinguishing Praise of Cæsar, to allow that Liberty; and of him that had the Courage to make use of it. He was fond of new Things, to an Objection of being addicted to buy for the sake of Buying. He was possess'd of many Country Seats in the same Places; and when he took a Fancy to a new Purchase, he neglected an old one. He had a multitude of Books, of Statues, and of Images; which beyond a meer Possession, he also reverenc'd. First in Esteem, he held Virgil, whose Birth-day he celebrated with greater Solemnity than his own; mostly at Naples, where he frequented his Monument as a Temple. In this peaceful Course of Life, he reach'd beyond his Seventy fifth Year; with a Tenderness, rather than an Infirmity of Body. And as he was the last Consul of Nero, so he expir'd the last of his Consuls; and it is remarkable, that Nero dy'd, when he was Consul. When I reflect upon this, I am touch'd with a Compassion of humane Frailty. For what is so [Page 122] narrow, so short, as the longest Life of Man? Do not you fancy that Nero is but lately deceas'd, when at the same Time we do not find one of his Consuls surviving. Tho' why am I surpriz'd at this? It is not long, since it was said of Lucius Piso, (Son of that Piso who was so impiously kill'd in Africa, by Valerius Festus) that He now saw no Senator in the House, whose Opinion he had ask'd, when himself was Consul with NERO. To so streight a Bound is the very Life of so numerous an Assembly confin'd, that the Tears of that Prince, mention'd in Story, do not only seem excusable, but graceful: For Xerxes is reported to have wept, when he survey'd his immense Army, because the Fall of so many Thousands was so speedily threatened. However, we are the more oblig'd to prolong our Share of this vain and perishing Time, if not by Actions, (the Materials of which are in other Hands) yet certainly by Studies. And as far as we are deny'd a Length of Life, we should bequeath something to Posterity, that may testify we have liv'd sometime. I am sensible, you do not want an Incentive; yet my Affection for you prevails upon me to quicken you forward in your Race, as it is your Practice with me. Contention is good; when one Friend inflames another to the Love of Immortality by mutual Exhortations. [Page 123]
IT is very agreeable to that Respect you pay me in other Affairs, to request with so much Zeal, that the Office of Tribune, which I procur'd for you of Neratius Marcellus, a Person of great Eminence, should be transfer'd to your Kinsman, Cesennius Sylvanus. As it is very delightful to me, to see your self a Tribune, so it is not less pleasing, to view another advanc'd to that Post by your Application. For I do not in the least think it consistent to envy him the Regards of Duty (preferable to the greatest Honours) whom you are fond to distinguish. For I observe, since it is a Point of Excellency to merit or to confer a good Office rightly, that you will at once acquire the Praise of both, in allowing to others, what your self have deserv'd. Besides, I understand it will be a Credit to my self, when it is known by this Step of yours, that my Friends may not only be capable of bearing, but of giving the Tribuneship. For this Reason, I am obedient to your honest Desire. For the Name is not yet put in the Catalogue, [Page 124] and therefore we are at our liberty to plant Sylvanus in your stead; and I would have your Present as grateful to him, as mine is to you.
Whence was the Variety? Whence the Multiplicity of Pleadings? Cæcilius Classicus, a profligate Fellow, and barefac'dly wicked, discharg'd the Proconsulate of that country after a manner equally violent, as sordid, in the same Year as Marius Priscus bore that Office in Africa. But Priscus came from Bætica, Classicus from Africk. Hence the Word of the Bætici (as Sorrow often makes a Man witty) not much amiss, was carry'd about, I have given one bad Officer, and taken another. But Marius was accus'd publickly by the City only, tho' by many private Persons: [Page 125] A whole Province fell upon Classicus. He prevented the Charge, either by an accidental, or a voluntary Death; for it was infamous, but of a doubtful nature. For as it seem'd probable that he was willing to quit a Life he could not defend, so it was surprising that he avoided the Shame of Condemnation by dying, who was not asham'd to commit things worthy of it. Yet the Province persisted in the Accusation of the Deceas'd. This was settled by the Laws, yet intermitted, and after a long Interval reviv'd. They added, how many Accomplices and Servants of Classicus they at once accus'd, and by Name challeng'd an Enquiry into their Conduct. I was with the Bætici, and with me Luccius Albius, a Man copious and elegant in speaking, with whom I once cultivated a mutual Friendship, that increas'd on this Partnership of Office. Glory indeed has something incommunicable, especially in Studies; yet between us there was no Dispute, no Contention, since both of us labour'd for his Cause in an equal Yoke, not for himself. And the Weight and Service of it restrain'd us from pursuing so burthensome an Affair by single Actions. We fear'd our Time, Voice, or Strength, would fail us, if we bound up this variety of Charges and Parties at Law in one; then, lest the Attention of the Judges should not only be fatigu'd, but confounded by the Number of Names and Causes, or the Favour of particular [Page 126] Senators mingled and put together, tho' it might be aim'd only at this or that respective Party, yet it might be extended to all in general; and finally, left Men of the greatest Power, on a Sacrifice of the Meanest, might escape by the Punishment of others. For Favour and Address is then most prevailing, when it may be cover'd with a shew of Severity. Our Plea was assisted by the Instance of Sertorius, relating to the Horse-Tail, pulled by the strongest and feeblest Soldier in his Army; you know the rest of it. For we plainly saw that so numerous a Crowd of Litigants might be with Ease at least overcome, if we pluck'd them off singly. We first thought it proper to shew that Classicus was guilty; hence was a just Transition to his Accomplices and Agents; for they could not be convicted, unless he was demonstrated to be a Criminal. Of whom we immediately added two to Classicus, Bebius Probus and Fabius Hispanus, both Men of Consequence, the latter also distinguish'd for his Eloquence. Our Work in the Case of Classicus was short and expeditious; he had left a Writing under his own Hand of what he receiv'd in each Affair or Cause. He had likewise sent Letters to a certain Female Acquaintance in Town full of Vanity, attended with these Expressions; Brave Luck! I shall speedily wait upon you free and unfetter'd: I have now made up my Sum of 40000 Sesterces, on a Sale of [Page 127]] part belonging to the Bætici. We had more Employment in relation to Hispanus and Probus. Before I enter'd upon their Charge, I thought it necessary to labour the Point of proving their Crimes to be ministerial and subservient. Unless this were effected, it were in vain to insist on their being Instruments: For their Defence did not run upon the Negative, but a Petition of Allowance to a Case of Necessity, founded on their Provincial Relation, and their Confinement to obey all the Commands of the Proconsuls. Claudius Restitutus, my Respondent, a Man of long Practice and Assiduity, and ready on the most sudden Emergencies, is ever apt to say, That he is never so much involv'd, and perplex'd, as when he finds those Topicks cut off and wrested from his Defence, in which he plac'd his utmost Confidence. The Event of our Plea was this; The Senate was pleas'd to separate the Effects of Classicus, which he possess'd before his Trust in the Province, from the Remainder; and to assign the former to his Daughter, the latter to the injur'd People: and it was added, That the Money paid by him to his Creditors, should be recall'd. Hispanus and Probus were banish'd for the Space of five Years. So heavy a Charge did that at last appear, which at first was doubted, whether it were criminal, or no. A few Days after, we indicted Clavius Fuscus, the Son-in-Law of Classicus, and Stillonius Priscus, who [Page 128] was Tribune of a Cohort under Classicus, with a different Issue. Priscus was interdicted Italy for two Years; Fuscus was acquitted. In the third Action we thought it most Commodious to join a Number together, lest, if the Cognizance of it was prolong'd farther, the Justice and Severity of the Court should flatten by a tedious Delay, and a Glut of Business: Otherwise we had lesser Clients in Reserve, that were designedly kept off to this Crisis; excepting yet the Wife of Classicus, who was entangled in several Suspicions, but not sufficiently convicted by clear Evidence: For the Daughter of Classicus, who was concern'd in the Cause, was not so much as suspected; so that upon the Close of the Action, when I came to her Name (for there was not an equal Reason, in the Conclusion, to fear that the Force of the whole Charge should be impair'd by that Circumstance, as in the opening of it) I thought it the fairest Treatment not to press upon the Innocent; and I repeated the same with Freedom and a variety of Expression. For sometimes I ask'd the Deputies whether they gave me Information, which they presum'd might be disprov'd. Sometimes I submitted it to the Court, whether they were of opinion, that I ought, if I was Master of any Talent of Speaking, to aim it, like a Weapon, at the Throat of the Undeserving. And lastly, I shut up the entire Argument with this Determination. Some will urge, Do you [Page 129] then act the Part of a Judge? Truly, no: Yet I cannot forget that I am commission'd from the Judges to be an Advocate. This was the Bound of this complicated Question: Some were absolv'd; more condemn'd, and also banish'd for some time; others for ever. By the same Act of the Senate, our Industry, Fidelity and Constancy, was approv'd by a very full Testimony; a worthy Recompence of our Labour, and that alone could equal it. You may imagine what a Fatigue it was to us, to plead and contest a thing so often; to examine, relieve, confute so large a Train of Evidences. Then besides, how difficult and troublesome it is to deny a thing to the Friends of a Client asking a private question, and openly to oppose and Antagonist? I will relate to you one Instance of those I have mention'd. When one of the Judges themselves loudly contradicted me in Favour of a Party in Court that was extremely countenanc'd, I answer'd, He will be no less innocent, if I speak out all I have to alledge about him. You may guess by this what Struggles we underwent, and what Offence we incurr'd, tho' only for a short time: For Integrity offends those whom it withstands for the present, but is by the same afterwards admir'd and extoll'd. I could not take a better Method to set the Affair, as present, before your Eyes. You will say, perhaps, it was not worth my while; for what have I to do to write so long an Epistle? Do [Page 130] not then be so frequently enquiring what News in Town? And yet you should remember, that an Epistle is not long, which comprehends so many Days, Hearings, Parties at Law and Causes. All which I think I have prosecuted with equal Brevity and Care; for I now recollect a Point I had forgot, and indeed too late: But however, tho' it be here preposterously set, it shall be represented. This is the Practice of Homer, and of many others, in pursuit of his Example: Besides, it is often very graceful and becoming; yet I shall not use it now for that Reason. One of the Evidences, whether angry that he was call'd out against his Inclination, or suborn'd by one of the Parties to disarm the Charge, accus'd Norbanus Licinianus, a Delegate, and one of the Inquest, of Prevarication in the Cause of Casta, the Wife of Classicus, It is provided by Law, that the Accusation of the Criminal first be finish'd, and then the Question be open'd of Prevarication; because the Credit of the Accuser is estimated chiefly by the Accusation itself: Yet neither the Order of the Law, the Name of a Delegate, nor the Office of an Inquisitor, was a Protection to him. So obnoxious to publick Hatred was a Man, otherwise very dissolute, and that us'd the Times of Domitian, like many others; and then elected by the Province to enquire, not because he was good and faithful, but an [Page 131] Enemy to Classicus. He was banish'd by him, and requir'd a Day to be allow'd him for the clearing of his Crimes, but obtain'd neither. He was compell'd forthwith to put in his Answer. He did so. The perverse and deprav'd Cast of the Man, gives me a Doubt whether it was perform'd with Confidence, or Firmness. Certain it is, it was carry'd on very readily. Many Objections were laid to him, that hurt him more than his Prevarication. Besides, two Consular Men, Pomponius Rufus, and Libo Frugi, wounded him with an Evidence, that, under Domitian, he assisted in Court the Accusers of Salvius Liberalis. He was condemn'd, and order'd to be transported to an Island. And so, when I accus'd Casta, I push'd nothing more, than that her other Accuser should fall by a Charge of Prevarication. Yet I urg'd it in vain; for an Incident happen'd that was cross and new, that when the Plaintiff was condemn'd for Prevarication, the Defendant was acquitted. Do you ask what I was employ'd about during this Transaction? I declar'd to the Senate, that I learnt this publick Cause of Norbanus, and ought to have it a-new inculcated, if he was prov'd to be a Prevaricator. And so, while he was in Suit, I sat down; and afterwards Norbanus was present every Day of Hearing, and supported the same, either Constancy, or Assurance, to the last. I now put a Question to my self, whether I have made an Omission; [Page 132] more than once I have been on the borders of it. On the last Day, Salvius Liberalis gave a sharp Reproof to the other Delegates, as if they had not brought all to the Bar that were commanded by the Province to be arraign'd; and, as he is vehement and eloquent, drew them into some Hazard. I protected the Gentlemen, worthy as they were, and generally grateful. Indeed they often proclaim it an Obligation to me, that they escap'd the coming Storm. This shall be the End of my Epistle; the Close of it in good Earnest. I will not add a Letter, tho' I should find I have pass'd over any Particular.
THE last Time I visited at your House, I did not tell you that I had penn'd a few Lines upon your Son. First, because I did not write them to speak of them, but to gratify my Affection and Sorrow: Secondly, because when you, Spurinna, heard me rehearse [Page 133] them, as you assur'd me your self, I believe that you understood what I recited. Besides, I was apprehensive of giving you Confusion, in a Festival Season, if I brought you down to the Memory of so great a Disaster: And, at present too, I make some Hesitation, whether I should only send you what I rehears'd at your Demand, or add what I thought to reserve for a distinct Piece. For it is not a full Satisfaction to my Value, to celebrate a Memory that shall ever be most dear and sacred to me in one single Performance, since his Fame will be more amply consulted, if it be more spread and dispens'd. But when I entertain'd a Scruple, whether I should give you a View of all my present Composition, or defer some to a farther Opportunity, I judg'd it more friendly and ingenuous to yield up all to your Hands, especially since you assure me they shall be confin'd to your selves, till I think it proper to publish them. As for what remains, I would desire you, with equal Frankness, if you think of any proper Change, Addition, or Omission, to impart it. It is a Point of Difficulty to me, to carry my Attention thus far beneath a weight of Sorrow. Hard indeed; but yet, as you would admonish a Carver, or a Painter, that was taking a Likeness of your Son, what he ought to express, and what to reform; so be pleas'd to model and direct me, who attempt to draw, not a frail and perishing, but, as you flatter [Page 134] me, an immortal Figure of him; one that will be so much the more lasting, as it will be more true, good and perfect.
OUR Friend Artemidorus is of so benevolent a Temper, that he is for inflaming the Kindnesses of his Friends with the most extravagant commendations. This puts him on setting such a Value on my Deserts, which, tho' here true, he runs too great a Length in.
He wanted a considerable Sum of Money, to pay some Debts he had contracted on some generous and friendly Accounts, which for all the Whispers of some great and rich People, I gave instead of lending him.
All this I did in such a critical Time, when I had seven Friends either murder'd or banish'd. Among the murder'd were Senecio, Rusticus, [Page 135] Helvidius; and the banish'd were Mauricus, Gratilla, Arria, Fannia. When I was sing'd as it were with so many Thunderbolts about me, I had good Reason, and too sure and Omen, to expect the same Fate.
For I lov'd and admir'd his Father-in-Law C. Musonius, as much as the Difference in our Years would allow; and when I commanded as Colonel in Syria, I contracted a great Intimacy with Artemidorus himself. In that indeed I gave a Specimen that I had the Taste of a Philosopher, or something the nearest to it that could be: For of all those who assume that Name in our Age, you shall hardly pick out one of his Sincerity and Veracity. I forbear mentioning his Patience and Indefatigableness in every Extremity of Heat and Cold, his Abstinence in Eating and Drinking, and the whole Regulation of his Soul and Senses.
These are mighty Things, and so they would be in another; but in him were the least, in comparison with his other Virtues; which was the Reason that C. Musonius preferr'd him for a Son-in-Law to all Competitors whatsoever. All which indeed I very gratefully remember, since he is pleas'd so unmercifully to extol me before others as well as your self. [Page 136]
But I fear, thro' his excessive good Nature, he keeps no Measure with himself, which I hinted before: For in such an Instance, a Man, tho' otherwise the discreetest Person breathing, is guilty of a Fault; which, tho' pardonable, is yet a Fault, I mean, to entertain a better Opinion of ones Friends than they can possibly deserve.
I Will accept of your Invitation, but upon this Condition, that our Supper be early and moderate. Let it only abound in polite Conversation, and in that too, let it not exceed Measure: There will some Circumstances attend late Hours, that even Cato could not fall under without Censure, whom yet Cæsar so reprehends as to applaud; for he describes those that met him Drunk, blushing at the Sight, and adds, you would have thought They, not Cato had been found in that Condition. Could more Respect be shewn to Cato, than even in Drink to be so venerable? [Page 137]
AT your Request, I have sent you the Book, in which I made a Panegyrick on our most excellent Prince, when Consul; and was determin'd to send it, tho' you had not requir'd it. In the Work, I would have you consider, as the Beauty, so the Difficulty of the Subject: For in other Matters, Novelty it self keeps the Reader, attentive; but in this all things are known and publick. By which it happens, that the Reader easy and supine, is only mindful of the Elocution; and that is harder to please when it is judg'd singly. I wish the Method, the Transitions and Figures were view'd at the same time; for to invent noble, and speak magnificently, is sometimes the Talent, even of a Barbarian; but to dispose aptly, to figure variously, is deny'd to all but the [Page 138] letter'd Part of Mankind. Nor indeed is the rais'd and the lofty to be always affected. For as in Painting, nothing sets off the Light better than a Shade: so it is proper to let fall, as well as to elevate the Expression in Writing: But why do I trouble one with this, that is eminently learned? Rather let me remind you of one thing; Mark what you think is to be corrected; for so I shall the better find that the rest is agreeable, when I know that some Passages are displeasing.
LArgius Macedo, that has past the Prætorship, has endur'd vile Treatment, such as deserves a Notice beyond an Epistle, from his Servants. He was truly, in other Regards, a proud and cruel Master; and one, who very little, or not at all remembred that his Father was a Servant. He was using the Bath in his Formian Villa; suddenly his Servants encompass him, they fall upon his Mouth, his Face, his breast, his Belly, and what is most base and [Page 139] shameful, the most sensible and conceal'd Parts: and when they took him to be breathless, they fling him on the glowing Pavement, to try whether he was alive or no. He, whether he really was, or only pretended to be, void of Sense, extended and Motionless, made them believe he was dispatch'd; and then is carry'd out, as if only relax'd by the warmth of Bathing. The more trusty Servants take him away; the Ladies he entertain'd flock'd together with all the Screaming and Cry imaginable. Thus rais'd by the Voices about him, and refresh'd by the coolness of the Place, his Eyes open, his Body moves, and he owns, as it was now free from Danger, that he is one of the Living. The Slaves disperse themselves, a great Part of them are seiz'd, and Search is made for the other. In a few Days, as his Spirit was very hardly supported, he dy'd, not without a Comfort in the View of Revenge; which he, while living, receiv'd as Men do that are kill'd. You see, to what Dangers, Affronts, and Derision we are liable. Nor has any a Reason to be secure, because he is careless and easy; for a Master is often murder'd by Villainy, as well as a malicious Design. Well, so much for this. What News besides? What? why none at all, otherwise I would give it to you. For my Paper allows me sufficient room, and the Festival Season would give me Liberty to put more together. I will add however a thing that I now luckily remember, about [Page 140] this same Macedo. As he was in the publick Bath at Rome, an odd Accident, and as the Event shew'd, an ominous one befell him: a Roman Knight, admonish'd by his Servant to give him Passage, with a light touch of his Hand, turn'd about, and gave, not the Man that touch'd him, but Macedo himself, so violent a Blow with his Fist, that he almost fell'd him. Thus the Bath was first a Place of Insult to him, and then, as it were, by certain Degrees, of Destruction.
YOU desire me to read your Performances in my Retirement, and examine whether they deserve a more publick Light; you importune me to it, and alledge your Precedents for the Purpose. You ask me to cut off a Pittance of leisure Time from my own Studies, and bestow it on yours. You add, that Tully encourag'd the Genius of Poets with an amazing good Nature: But I am neither to be courted nor exhorted to it; for I have both a religious Veneration for Poetry it self, and a [Page 141] particular Respect for you: Therefore I will satisfy your Desire with equal Care and Inclination. But I think I am now capable of answering, That it is fine Composition, and not to be suppress'd, as far as I can reckon up the Part you recited before me, if your Rehearsal did not impose upon me, for you read with the utmost Skill and Sweetness: Yet I am confident, that I am not so charm'd by the Hearing, as to have all the Points of my Judgment broken off by the Allurements of it; they may be turn'd a little, and blunted, but torn away and destroy'd they cannot be; for this Reason, I do not at present rashly pronounce on the whole, but shall find by Observation what the Parts are, in the Perusal.
I Think I have observ'd, that in the Expressions and Actions of illustrious Men and Women, some are more conspicuous, and others greater. My Opinion has been confirm'd by a Conversation yesterday with Fannia: she is a Niece of Arria; her that was a [Page 142] Relief and an Example to the Death of her Husband. She related a Variety of Things concerning her Aunt, not inferiour to this Act, but more obscure; which I imagine will be as surprising to you, while you read, as they were to me when I heard them.
Cæcinna Pætus, her Husband, was ill; her Son was in the same Extremity; both, in all appearance, to a fatal Degree. The Son expir'd; a Youth he was of uncommon Beauty, and equal Modesty; belov'd by his Parents on other Accounts, as well as the Tye of Blood. She prepar'd his Funeral, and conducted his Obsequies in that manner, that her Husband was a Stranger to them: Nay, as often as he enter'd his Apartment, she feign'd that he was alive, and better; and often answer'd, when he enquir'd how the Boy did, that he rested well, and took his Food readily. After, when her Tears long stifled, grew too powerful, and broke out, she retir'd. Then she gave a loose to Sorrow. Having eas'd her Grief, she return'd with dry Eyes, and a compos'd Look, as if she had left her Loss behind her.
'Tis true, it was a glorious Deed of the same Woman, to draw the Sword, pierce her Bosom; disengage the Blade, and reach it forth to her Husband; add that immortal, and almost divine Voice, Pætus, it does not pain me. But as she spoke and acted that Scene, Glory and Eternity were before her Eyes; which sets it higher, without the Reward [Page 143] of Eternity, without the Prize of Glory, to hide her Tears, to cover her Anguish, and on the Fall of her Son, still to maintain the Character of a Mother.
Scribonian took up Arms against Claudius in Illyricum; Pætus was of the Faction, and on the Death of Scribonian (slain in Battle) was taken a Prisoner to Rome. As he went on Shipboard, Arria beg'd of the Soldiers to be put on Board with him; for (says she) you will allow a Consular-Man a few under Servants to attend him at his Table and Dressing; I alone will perform all those Offices. Her entreaty was not hear'd. She hired a small Fisher's Boat, and followed the large Vessel with the smallest.
The same Arria, when the Wife of Scribonian, made a Discovery of the Conspirators, said to her, Shall I hear you talking, in whose very Bosom your Husband was kill'd, and yet you can bear to live? By which it is plain, that the Design of that honourable Fate was not sudden.
Besides this, when Thrasea, her Son-in-Law indeavour'd to divert that fatal Purpose, and said among other things, Would you then oblige your Daughter, if I lay under a Necessity of Dying, to take her Fate with me? She reply'd, If she should happen to live so long, and Harmoniously with you, as I with Pætus; I would have it so. By this Answer she heighten'd the Concern of her [Page 144] Friends: She was watch'd more carefully; was sensible of it, and told them, You do all to no Purpose; You may reduce me to dye Ill; to dye, you cannot debar me. In the very Course of this Speaking she sprung out of her chair, and on a violent Push of her Head against the opposite Wall, she fell. When she was something reviv'd, I told you, (she said) that I would find a Way to die, however difficult, if you deny'd me an easier Passage. Do not you esteem these Attempts to be greater that that, Pætus, it does not pain me: when at the same Time, this is spread by the loudest Fame, those by none at all? From this you may collect, what I laid down at first That some Exploits are more renown'd, others Nobler.
IS all right, that your Letters have taken so long a Vacation? Or, is something amiss; or are you too much engag'd; or perhaps you are not so busy: but you have seldom or never an Opportunity of Writing. Ease me of this [Page 145] Doubt, which I am not Casuist enough to discharge. Send an Express on purpose for it; I will bear his travelling Charges, and give him a Reward over and above. Only let him bring me the News I wish for. I my self am well, if a Man can be well who lives in Suspense and Anxiety, hourly expecting and fearing, in behalf of his best lov'd Friend, all that can possibly arrive to human Nature.
MY Consular Office, enjoin'd me to pay a publick Compliment to the Emperor in the name of the Common-wealth; which when I had perform'd in the Senate, according to Custom, and the Rule of the Time and Place, I thought it most agreeable to a good Subject to cast the same Piece more amply and copiously into the Compass of a Volume. First, that the peculiar Virtues of our Prince might receive a just Encomium; and then, that future Monarchs should be inform'd, not as by a Master, but a Pattern, what Path they [Page 146] should follow to the same Glory. For to instruct a Prince what he ought to be, is a great Attempt, but weighty, and almost assuming; but to applaud a good Ruler, and by this hold out a Light to Posterity, as from a Tower, which they ought to observe, is equally useful, without the Arrogance. But I took a particular Pleasure, that when I was inclin'd to recite the Book to my Friends, not by Sections or distinct Pieces, but (if it was commodious, and the Time was very free, as it seldom or never happen'd on either Side at Rome to favour the hearing of a Rehearsall) on an Invitation they met for two Days, tho' in the most forbidding Weather: And when my Modesty would have put and End to the Recital, they desir'd me to add a third Day for it. Should I think this Honour is done to me, or my Studies? I could rather wish it was a Deference paid to my Studies; which, tho' almost extinguish'd, are again enliven'd. But to what Theme did they give this Assiduity? Why, such a one as we were accustom'd to bear uneasily in Senate, even for a small Point of Time, where we were confin'd to suffer it; the same is heard and recited for the Space of three Days together: Not that it is written more eloquently than before, but more freely, and therefore more willingly. And the Praise of our Prince will receive this Addition, that a Design, hitherto as odious as false, is now become both true and amiable. But I was [Page 147] extremely pleas'd with the Zeal and Judgment of the Audience: I remark'd, that the gravest Passages created the highest Satisfaction. I recollect indeed, that I recited to a few what I wrote to all; yet rejoice in this Severity of the Hearers, as if the Sentence of all would be the same. And as formerly the Theatres did but ill instruct the Musicians in Singing, so now I begin to hope it is possible the same theatres may reach a juster Skill in Musick: For all who write to please, will pen what they find is pleasing. But I presume, that in this kind of Matter there is room for a greater Latitude in Style, when the close and the contracted Parts may seem rather to be forc'd in and affected, than those that are written in a gayer and more luxuriant Manner. Yet my Wishes are not the less importunate, that the Day may some time arrive, (Heaven grant it were already come) when these luscious and flattering Strokes of Writing may yield to the just Possession of the grave and the severe. You have now a Journal of me for three Days. In viewing of which, I was desirous you should taste an equal Pleasure in your Absence, both on the account of my Studies, and my self, as you could entertain, if present.
I Call you to Council on a Family Affair, according to Custom. A Farm, that borders upon my Estate, and partly runs into it, is to be sold. In this, many things invite; and some, as considerably deter me. First, the very Beauty of a Conjunction takes me much; then, that I may have a View of both under one, and at the same riding charge; put them under the same Manager, and almost to the Care of the same Drovers; inhabit and furnish one Country-House, and just keep the other. The Expence of Houshold Goods comes into this Reckoning; of lodging Servants; of Gardeners to cut and dispose my Greens, of Workmen, and even of Hunting Equipage; which, it is of Consequence to settle, whether you lay together in one Place, or distribute in many. Then, on the other Hand, I am afraid it may be imprudent to expose to large a Concern to the same Turns of Season, and the same Casualties: It [Page 149] appears safer, to try the Hazard of Fortune in a Variety of Possessions. there is also much Delight in the Change of Air and Soil, and the very Journey that a Man must make between them. Now (which is the Head of our Debate) the Grounds are well condition'd, fruitful, and well-water'd: They consist of Level Fields, Vineyards, Woods, that afford Materials and a Produce from them, that is moderate, but constant. But this Felicity of the Land is quite spoil'd by poor Tenants. For the former in Possession often fells the Articles that should be left by way of Earnest; and while he abates on the other Dues of the Husbandmen for his Time, he disables them from improving the Ground for the next; by which Default other Inconveniecies have been have been encreas'd. Therefore a good Number of careful servants is to be provided: I have none at present in my Command, nor is any remaining there. That you may know what may be imagin'd the Price of them, it is about three hundred thousand Sesterces; not that sometimes they have not been at Five hundred; yet, in this Want of Labouring Hands, and the Common Iniquity of the Time, the Rent of Grounds, and the Purchase, by Consequence is lessened. Do you enquire, whether I can easily raise this Three hundred Thousand? Indeed my Cash is almost entirely upon my Grounds, yet some is at Interest, and I shall not think it a Trouble to [Page 150] borrow. I will take up some Money of my Wife's Mother, whose Purse is as free to me as my own. So that you are not to be concern'd about this, if other Points do not interfere; which I would have you weigh with the utmost Attention. For you are Master of great Experience and Foresight in all Things and particularly in the Oeconomy of your Fortune.
DO you not remember that you have often read what Disputes were rais'd by the Law of Balloting? And what glory or Reproach it brought upon him that made it? Yet now, it has pleas'd, as the most perfect way in the Senate, without any Contradiction. On the Election Day they all demanded the Tables. Indeed, in those plain and open votes we exceeded the utmost Liberty of publick Assemblies. No Time of speaking, no Bound of Silence, no Dignity of Order was preserv'd. The Clamours on every Side were loud and jarring: All rush'd forth with their [Page 151] Candidates: There were many Crowds in the Middle; many Rings of People, and an indecent Confusion; so far had we funk from the Usage of our Ancestors; among whom all things were regular, moderate, calm, and maintain'd the Grandeur and Solemnity of the Place. There are old Men alive, that speak much of this Order of the Assemblies. When the Name of a Candidate was call'd over, there was a profound Silence. He spoke for himself in Person, explain'd his Life, produc'd his vouchers and Hands to recommend him, either an Officer he serv'd under in War, or one to whom he was Questor; or if possible, both of them. To these he added some of his voting Friends; they spoke gravely and concisely: This was more useful than Petitions. Sometimes a Candidate objected to the Birth-place, Age or Morals of a Competitor. The Senate gave the Audience with a Censorian Gravity; so that the worthy prevail'd more often than the Favourite. But this is now computed by the Extravagance of Favour, and is fallen to the silent manner of Voting as if it were a better Expedient. And in the mean Time it was plainly a kind of Remedy; for it was new and sudden. But I am in fear, that in process of Time, some Evils may grow out of this Remedy it self. For there is Danger, that a Contempt of Reputation may creep into this silent Method of Voting. For what Man of a Thousand has secretly the same [Page 152] Care of his Integrity as openly? Many revere their Fame, but few are in awe of Conscience. However, I presage too hastily of the future; and in the mean Time, by the Benefit of these Tables, we will have those Officers, that ought principally to be chosen. For, as it is in Actions of Recovery, so in these Assemblies, we have been impartial Judges, because we have been seiz'd unawares. I write this to you, first to inform you of something new; next, to take now and then an Occasion to talk of the Government; a Subject that ought the less to be omitted, as we have more rarely an Opportunity to speak of it, than was enjoy'd by the Antients. And, in the Name of Dullness, how long shall we repeat those vulgar Sounds; So, Friend! how do you do? How fares your Body? Our Letters ought also to bear something that is not mean and groveling, and confin'd to private Affairs. All indeed is under the Direction of one, who has singly undertaken the Cares and Fatigues of every Man for the common Safety. Yet some Rivulets descend from that kind Fountain, by a certain agreeable Temper of publick Management, even to us; which we are free to draw our selves, and serve to our absent Friends in an epistolary Correspondence. [Page 153]
I Hear Valerius Martial is dead, and take it much to Heart. He was a Man of Wit and parts, of a sharp and poignant turn of Thought; there was a good deal of Salt and Gaul in Writings, and as much Candour and Ingenuity.
He was one of the old Stamp, ready at praising or rewarding those who had written Panegyricks on particular Men, or Cities—a Faculty, that with some others of equal Worth and Honour, is quite our of Fashion in our Days.
You may, perhaps, ask what were the Verses that I thank'd him for? I would refer you to the Book it self, only I happen to remember some of them. If you like these, they will engage you to look out the rest. [Page 154]
He gave me all in his Power, and would have given me more, had he more to give. Tho' between Friends, what greater Gift can be bestowed than Praise, Honour and Eternity. But it may be objected his Writings will not be eternal, perhaps not, but he wrote them as if they were to be so. Adieu. [Page 155]
YOU desire after a long Delay, to see your Niece and me together—Your Request is very agreeable to us both, and as earnestly desir'd on our Side—For we reciprocally love you with the utmost Tenderness, and will not defer our Visit any longer. We are now packing up [Page 156] with that View, and shall make all the convenient Speed we can in our Journey— We must make one Stop, tho' a short one; and we must turn out of our way to Tuscany, not to survey our Lands and Estate, for that's a Concern of no Weight in Comparison with our Design, but indeed to do an Act of real Duty.
There is a Town near my Farms call'd Tifernum, on the Tiber, of which I have been Patron from a Child, The People are us'd to welcome me at my Arrival with more Ceremony than Judgment, They meet me with a formal Procession, and are pleas'd with doing me Honour.
To give some Proof of my Gratitude, (for 'tis a Shame to be out-done in Kindness) I have built 'em a Temple at my own Expence. It would look a little Irreligious, since all things are ready, to defer the Dedication of it any longer: I shall therefore be there on the Dedication Day, which I have resolv'd to celebrate with a Festival Supper: As far as I know, we may stay a Day or two, but we will make the more haste in our Journey.
REGULUS has lost his Son; the only Evil he does not deserve, because I do not know, whether he thinks it an Evil. The Boy had an acute, but a doubtful Genius; yet one, that might pursue a right Path, if he did not resemble his Father. Regulus gave him a Manumission, that he might be his Mother's Heir; and, (as the common Report goes, founded upon the known Conduct of the Man) he wheedled him, after it, with a vile Dissimulation of Kindness unusual with Parents. This is scarcely credible, but consider it is Regulus. Yet on the Loss of him he mourns furiously. The Boy had a large set of Nags, some for Harness, others for Riding; he had a Kennel of Dogs, both of a larger and a lesser Size; a Parcel of Nightingales, Parrots and Black-birds; Regulus kill'd all of them about the Funeral Pile: This was not the Reality, but the Ostentation of Grief. The World gathers to him in a vast Concourse; they all curse and detest, but they run and resort to him as if they approv'd and lov'd him; [Page 158] and to speak my Mind at once, to oblige Regulus, they copy him. He keeps himself in his Gardens, on the other side the Water, where a spacious Tract of Ground is taken up by Portico's immensly wide, as the Shore is by his Statues; as the Man is lavish in the midst of Avarice, and vain in the lowest Infamy. Thus he disturbs the Town in the most delightful of Times; and looks upon it as a Consolation, that he gives it the Trouble. He talks of marrying; this he does like all the rest, perversely enough. You will hear shortly the Match of this Mourner, this old Stager: In the former Respect unreasonable, in the latter, too late. Do you ask what Grounds I have for this Conjecture? Not because he affirms it himself, who is the falsest of Mankind, but because it is certain, that Regulus is inclined to do all that ought not to be undertaken. [Page 159]
THAT you have twice sustained the Office of Consul, has an Air of the antient Greatness; that you have been Proconsul of Asia, such a One, as scarce any (your Modesty will not permit me to say none) has equally discharg'd himself, either before or after you; that in Sanctity, Authority, and even in Age, you are first of the City, is a noble and a venerable Character; yet I admire you more in the gayer Parts of Life. For to relish that Gravity with equal Agreeableness, and join so much of the Complaisant to that Height of the Severe, is as great as difficult. You reach that Point by an incredibly Charm of conversation, and especially by your Style in Writing. When you talk, the celebrated Honey of old Homer seems to show, and when you write, the Bees collect their Flowers, and interweave them. So highly was I entertain'd when last I read your Greek Epigrams and your Jambicks. What Genteelness, Grace, what Mixture of the Pleasant and Tender, the Antique, the Witty, the Just, was in them? [Page 160] I imagin'd my self to be reading Callimachus, Herodes, or something better, if that be possible. Yet neither of them has touch'd or compleated both Characters. A Roman to be so finish'd a Græcian! By Heavens, I could not say that Athens it self is so perfectly Attic. What can I add? I envy the Greeks your Choice of Writing in their Language; for it is not hard to divine, what you could express in your native Tongue, when you have shewn your self so great a Master, in one that is Foreign and Transplanted.
I Have a particular Value for Calvisius Nepos; a Man of Industry, Eloquence, and Integrity, which with me is even the first Consideration. He is nearly a kin (for he is Sister's Son) to Caius Calvisius, my Partner, and your Friend. I beg you would grace him with the half Year's Tribuneship, on his own and his Uncle's Account. You will oblige me, our common Acquaintance, Calvisius and himself; who will be as just a Debtor to [Page 161] you on this Score, as you are perswaded I shall be. You have conferr'd a Variety of good Offices on Numbers of Men; I dare affirm, that you have plac'd no good Turn better, and scarce any so properly.
THE Report goes, that Æschines, at the Request of the Rhodians, read his own Oration, then that of Demosthenes; and that both were receiv'd with loud Voices of Applause. I do not wonder that this befel the Writings of Men so eminent; when Persons of the greatest Learning have attended to my Oration, lately deliver'd, with that Zeal, Agreement, and Application. Tho' their Attention was not quicken'd by any Comparison or Rivalship. For the Rhodians were mov'd, as by the Beauties of each Speech themselves, so that by the poignancy of making a Parallel between them: But mine was approved without the Advantage of Emulation. Whether justly or no, you will know, when you peruse the Book; the compass of which [Page 162] does not suffer me to Preface it in a longer Epistle. For I ought to be short in this, where I have it in my Power, and to make the Extent of the Book it self the more excusable; tho' it does not exceed the largeness of the Occasion.
I Am inform'd, that my Corn and Fruits in Tuscany, beyond the Po, shaken off by Hail-storms, are very plentiful, and equally cheap in the Market. My Laurentine Ground alone is gainful to me in the Return it yields; indeed, I am Owner of nothing there but a House and Garden, and next, a sandy Shore: and yet it is my only Produce. For I write largely there, and so do not cultivate a Field I have not, but my self by my Studies; and I can now shew you, as in other Places a full Granary, so there a full Cabinet of my Writings. Therefore, if you covet a Farm that will be certain and advantageous, be master of one on this Shore. [Page 163]
I often tell you, that there is a deal of Violence in the Nature of Regulus: 'Tis surprizing how he effects a Thing he designs. He was pleas'd to mourn for his Son; he does mourn as none ever did in the World. He thought fit to make as many Images for him as possible, and this is his Employ about all the Shops in Town: He takes the Figure of him in Colours, in Wax, in Brass, in Silver, in Gold, in Ivory, in Marble. Lately too he recited himself a Piece concerning his Life, getting a numerous Audience for the Purpose, and then dispers'd it, written out into a thousand Copies, thro' all Italy, and the Provinces. He wrote it publickly, that the Decurions might pitch upon one of the loudest among themselves to read it to the People. It was done. If he had turn'd this Force of his Temper (or however else you please) to better Aims, what good Purposes might he have accomplish'd! Tho' the Virtuous have less of this violent [Page 164] Spirit than the Bad; and, as Ignorance is attended with Boldness, but Consideration is slow, so Modesty enfeebles a regular Mind, but Assurance hardens the perverse. Regulus is an Instance of it. A weak Constitution, a confus'd Visage, a faultering Tongue, a very heavy Invention, no Memory: Nothing, in short, but a furious Temper; and yet he is advanc'd so far by that very Impudence and Frenzy, that a great Number think him an Orator. Hence it is, that Herennius Senecio with a particular Grace, turns that of the Orator, spoken by Cato, to him, by a reverse of Expression: An Orator is a wicked Man, unskill'd in speaking. Really, Cato himself did not express a true Orator so well as he drew a Regulus. Have you wherewithall to return an Epistle of this Vein? You have, if you send me an Account, whether any of my Acquaintance in your town, or you your self have read this sorrowful Piece of Regulus, in the Market-place, like a Mountebank or a Stroller; raising your voice (as Demosthenes says) and I laughing heartily, and straining your Throat. For it is so absurd, that it might create a Laugh rather than a Sigh, You wou'd imagine it to be written, not upon a Child, but by one. [Page 165]
YOU joy me on accepting the Augurship, and you pay me a just Complement. First, because it is honourable to obtain the Judgment of the wisest Prince even in Matters of a lesser Nature. Then, that the Office it self, as it is very Antient and Religious, so in this Respect, it is indeed Sacred and peculiarly Eminent, that it is for Life. Others, tho' partly equal in Dignity, are conferr'd and taken away; but all Power of Fortune over this, is in the presenting of it. I ought, methinks, to have your Congratulation on another Account; that I succeeded Julius Frontinus, a Person of the first Rank; who, on the Day of Nomination, for a Series of Years, nam'd me among the Sacerdotal Candidates, as if he elected me into his Place; which is now so clearly answer'd by the Event, that it does not seem accidental. Indeed you are pleas'd to the highest Degree with my Preferment, as you write, on this Bottom, because Tully was an Augur. For you rejoyce, that I step into his Honours, whom I [Page 166] am fond to emulate in my Studies. But I wish, that as I have gain'd the Augural, and Consular Dignity, in an Age far greener than he, so in my declining Years, I may in some Measure be Master of his Capacity. But indeed, what is in humane Power has happen'd to me and to many; as to the other, it is hard to procure, and too exalted to hope, what cannot be indulg'd by the Gods.
JULIUS Bassus, for some Days past, has been solliciting his Cause; a Man that has gone through great Employments, and has been distinguish'd by his very Calamities. He was accus'd by two private Appellants under Vespasian; when admitted to plead in Senate; he was depending a long Time, but at last was absolv'd and dismiss'd with Costs and Damages. He stood in fear of Titus as a Friend of Domitian, but was banish'd by Domitian, and recall'd by Nerva; and having Bythinia allotted to him, he came back from his Post, with an Action laid against him; as warmly [Page 167] accus'd as he was faithfully defended. The Sentences that past upon him were various, yet the Majority was in a manner the more gentle.
Pomponius Rufus pleaded against him, one that is ready and Vehement. To Rufus succeeded Theophanes, one of the Deputies of the Province, the Head, Cause and Incendiary of the whole Action. I was of counsel for the Defendant. For Bassus enjoin'd me to lay the Foundation of the entire Defence, to enlarge upon his Advantages, which were great, from the Distinction of his Blood, and from his very Disasters: To speak of the Measures by which he had offended all of the most factious kind; as for Instance, that very Theophanes.
He committed it likewise to me, to obviate the Crime that bore hardest upon him; for in other Articles, tho' more shocking to mention, he did not only merit a Discharge, but Applause. What loaded him was, that, plain and unwary as he had been, he receiv'd a few Considerations from the People of the Province, as a Friend; for he was Quæstor in the same Province. To these his Accusers gave the Name of Theft and Rapine; but he term'd them Presents. Yet the very receiving of Gifts is prohibited by the Law.
In this Difficulty what could I contrive? What Road of Defence could I go into? Should I deny it, I was afraid it should then appear [Page 168] a Robbery in good Earnest from a Shyness to acknowledge it. Besides, to deny a Fact that was notorious, was the way to inflame, not to lessen a Crime. Especially, when my Client himself had put all out of the Power of his Advocates; for he had assur'd many, and even the Emperor, that he had only receiv'd a few small Acknowledgments, meerly on his Birth Day, or in the Feasts of Saturn; and sent them to a Number of Hands. Well; should I then implore the Pardon of the House? That were to give a Stab to my Client, in allowing him a Delinquent so far, that he cou'd not be sav'd without an Act of Grace. Should I insist, it was justly done? I shou'd not in that Case, have serv'd him, but stood my self with a mark of Impudence upon me.
In this Embarrassment, I thought it the most proper to keep a middle Path; and I think I did so. The Night determin'd my Pleading as it often ends a Battle. I had spoke three House and an half, and still had one Hour and Half in Reserve. For since by Law the Plantiff had a Right to fix Hours, the Defendant to nine; my Client had so divided my Time between me, and him that was to speak after, that I took up five Hours, and he was assign'd the Remainder.
The Success of my Plea perswaded me to be silent and close it. for it is indiscreet not to be content with good Fortune. Than I was afraid, that my bodily Vigour would fail [Page 169] me on the Repetition of a Toil, which it is harder to resume, on a Break, than to pursue before. And there was some Danger, lest the remaining Part of my Defence, should appear cold, by laying it down, or tedious, by reviving it. for as a Torch preserves the Fire by a constant Agitation, but very hardly recovers it if once extinguish'd; so, both the Warmth of the Speaker, and the Attention of the Hearer, is maintain'd by Continuance, but languishes by an Interval, and a Remission.
However, Bassus implor'd me with repeated Prayers, and almost with Tears, to compleat my set Time. I comply'd with him, and preferr'd his Convenience to my own. It had a good Event; I found the Minds of the Senate so rais'd and fresh, that they appear'd rather to be fir'd than satiated with the former Pleading.
Next to me, was Lucius Albinus, who succeeded me in so apt a manner, that our Speaking might be imagin'd to have the Variety of two, and yet the Contexture of one. Herennius Pollio made a pressing and weighty Answer, and then Theophanes again: For to all his shameless Conduct, he added this Step, in challenging a longer Time, after two Persons of fam'd Eloquence, and past the Consulship. He spoke 'till Night approach'd, nay, in the Night, by Candle Light. [Page 170] On the following Day Titius Homulus, and Fronto pleaded in Favour of Bassus, surprizingly well; the Proofs and Evidence Employ'd the fourth Day. Bæbius Macer, design'd Consul, gave Sentence, that Bassus was obnoxious to the Law against Bribery; Cæpio Hispo decided, that saving his Dignity of a Senator, Judges were to be allow'd him. Both rightly. How can this be, you will urge, when their Censure was so different? Why, because it was very consistent for Macer, as he had the Law in his Eye, to condemn a Person who accepted of Presents against the Law; and since Cæpio was of Opinion, that the Senate enjoys a Power, as it certainly does, both to mitigate and extend the Laws, it was not without Reason, that he gave this Indulgence to a Fact that was indeed prohibited, and yet not uncommon. The Opinion of Cæpio prevail'd; nay, as he rose up to declare the Sentence, an Acclamation was made to him, as it usually is, to those that resume their Seats after it. By which you may infer, with what Harmony the Thing was receiv'd, when he actually spoke it; since it was so favourably entertain'd, when he appear'd ready to utter it. Yet the Judgments of Men are divided into two Parties, as well in the Senate as in the City. For they who approv'd the Determination of Cæpio, reprehended that of Macer as hard and rigid; and they, who came into the latter, call'd the former too easy, loose, [Page 171] and, indeed, absurd. for they deny it to be at all consistent, to retain a Man in the Senate, when Judges are set upon his Crimes. There was likewise a third Opinion. Valerius Paulinus, who gave his Assent to Cæpio, thought likewise Theophanes should be call'd to Account, after he had ended his Commission: For he argu'd, That he had acted several Things in the Charge, that fell within the very same Law on which he had accus'd Bassus. But the Consuls did not pursue this Motion, tho' it was extremely agreeable to the Majority of the House; yet Paulinus carry'd off the Credit of Integrity and Courage in it. When the House adjourn'd, Bassus was caress'd by a great Concourse of People, loud Applauses, and signal Marks of Joy. The antient Memory of his past Dangers thus renew'd, a Name well known and celebrated for severe Hazards of Fortune, and the Figure of a melancholly and neglected old Age, in a tall make of Body. You shall take this Letter between whiles, as an Usher to another; and expect the Pleading it self, full and copious: This you must wait for a considerable Time; for as it is a Matter of such Importance, it must not be repeated in a light and cursory Manner. [Page 172]
YOU write me Word, that Sabina, who left us her Heirs, no where appears to have given her Servant Modestus his Freedom; yet has put him down a Legacy in these Terms, To Modestus whom I have made free. Do you ask what I think of it? I have advis'd with Council, and they all agree, that Liberty is not his Right, because it is not granted him, nor yet the Legacy, because it is bequeath'd to her Servant. But it seems to me a plain Mistake, and therefore I think we must proceed, as if Sabina and left in Writing a Grant of Freedom, which she imagin'd she had left. I am confident, that you will come into my Notion, since it is your Practice to observe the Wills of the Dead in the most Religious manner; the very Understanding of which, to good and honest Heirs, has the Force of Law. For Honesty carries an equal Power over us, as Necessity does over others. Let him therefore remain in Freedom by our Allowance and Permission; let him enjoy his Legacy as fully, as if all the most nice Precautions [Page 173] had been taken by her. For she has done that sufficiently by her Choice of just Heirs.
HAVE you heard that Valerius Licinianus is a Master of a Rhetorical School in Sicily? I fancy you have not yet met with the Information; for it is very fresh News. He was lately of the Prætorian Character, and esteem'd one of the most eloquent Pleaders at the Bar; and is now fallen so low, as from a Senator to become a Fugitive, from a Pleader, a Schoolmaster. And hence it was, that he himself, in the Preamble to a Declamation said, with a Mixture of Vehemence and Sorrow, “O Fortune, what Diversion dost thou create thy self? For of Professors thou makest Senators, and of Senators, Professors!” In which Sentence there is so much Gall, so much Bitterness, that I imagine he set up for a Master purely to speak it. This same Man, when he enter'd the School in his Græcian [Page 174] Cloke, (for they who are out-law'd, have no Right to wear the Roman Gown) after he had compos'd himself, and survey'd his Habit, said, I am to declaim in Latin. You will affirm, perhaps, it was all sad and wretched; but that he deserv'd this Fate, for blemishing these very Studies, with the Crime of Incest: Indeed, he confess'd the Incest, but then it is uncertain, whether he own'd it, because it was true, or because he was afraid of worse Consequences, had he deny'd it. For Domitian was full of Indignation, and grown desperate; as conscious that he was an Object of publick Hatred. For, when he was desirous to bury alive Cornelia, the Eldest of the Vestal Virgins, as thinking, that his Fame would become renown'd by such an Example, he conven'd the other Pontiffs, not in the Palace, but his Country-Seat near Alba, by the Right of supreme Pontiff; or rather, with the Extravagance of a Tyrant, and the Licentiousness of an Absolute Lord. And he pass'd a Condemnation upon her for Incest, tho' absent and unheard, with a Wickedness equal to that he seem'd to punish, when he himself had not only been guilty of Incest, but Murther too, on his Brother's Daughter. For she dy'd in her Widow'd State, of Abortion. The Pontiffs were immediately sent to take Care of her Burial and Execution. She, lifting up her Hands, sometimes to Vesta, and sometimes to the [Page 175] other Gods, spoke several Things aloud, but this most frequently; CÆSAR thinks me to be Incestuous, who perform'd the Sacred Rites, when he Overcame and Triumph'd. Whether she said this in a Compliment of Derision to him, from a Confidence in her self, or a Contempt of that Prince, is doubtful. She spoke on till she was led to Punishment; whether Innocent, I know not; yet certainly, as Guilty. Then, when she was let down into that subterraneous Cell, and her Robe was hinder'd in her Descent, she turn'd and recompos'd it; and when the Executioner would have lent her his Hand, she refus'd it, and started back; and would not allow the least unhallow'd Touch to approach her Chast and unpolluted Body with the utmost Sanctity of a dying Martyr, and (as Euripides says of Polybia in his Hecuba) [...]
Besides, Celer, a Roman Knight, who was accus'd of the Fact with Cornelia, when he was scourg'd in the Place of popular Assembly, persisted in this Cry, What have I done? I have done nothing. So that Domitian was fir'd at the Infamy, both of Cruelty and Injustice. [Page 176] He orders Licianus to be seiz'd, for concealing the Freed Women of Cornelia in his Country House. He was forewarn'd by his Friends, to betake himself to Confession, in order to a Pardon if he would not suffer the Rods, and a publick Hearing. In his Absence, Herennius Senecio said something for him, like that of Homer.
Patroclus now is fallen; the Cause is finished. For he express'd himself thus, From an Advocate, I am become a Messenger of News, Licinianus is withdrawn. This was grateful to Domitian; so far, indeed, that he betray'd himself by his Joy, and said, Licinianus has clear'd us. He added likewise, That his Shame ought not to be press'd upon; but allow'd him to take away all his Goods that he could before they were exposed to Sale, and appointed him an easy Banishment, as a kind of Reward. From whence he was afterwards remov'd by the Clemency of Nerva, (of immortal Memory) into Sicily, where now he professes Rhetorick, and takes his Revenge upon Fortune by Declamations. You see how obsequious I am to you; in writing carefully to you, not only the Affairs of the Town, but Foreign Occurrences, so as to trace them much higher than usual; and indeed, I imagin'd that you had heard nothing more of Licinianus, [Page 177] but that he was banish'd for Incest, because at that Time you were abroad. For common Fame tells only the Sum, not the Order of Things. I have a Right, on the Merit of this, to hear reciprocally from you what is doing in your Town and Neighbourhood; for something Remarkable commonly happens. In short, write whatever you please, so that you equal the Length of mine; and be assur'd, I shall not only compute the Pages, but even the Lines and Syllables.
YOU are a Lover of Egnatius Marcellinus, and often commend him to me; but you will love and commend him still more, when you are acquainted with a late Action, done by him. When he went abroad as a Provincial Quæstor, and lost his Secretary (who was allotted to him) before the lawful Time of discharging his Salary, he was of Opinion, and resolv'd, that what he receiv'd [Page 178] in order to pay him, ought not to be sunk in his own Hands. Therefore, at his Return, he consulted Cæsar, and afterwards the Senate, at the Instance of Cæsar, how he should dispose of the Salary. The Question was small, yet a Question still it was. The Heirs of the Secretary claim'd for themselves, the Officers of the Treasury, for the People; the Cause went on; the Advocate for the Heirs pleaded first, then the People's Advocate, and both very pertinently. Cæcilius Strabo thought it should be confiscated; Bæbius Macer was for giving it to the Heirs; Strabo carry'd it. Do you applaud Marcellinus as I did, immediately; for tho' it is Satisfaction enough to him to be approv'd both by the Prince and the Senate; yet he will be extremely pleas'd with your Praise. Since, all, who are mov'd by a Sense of Fame and Glory, are wonderfully delighted with the Approbation, even of Inferiors. Now Marcellinus has that Reverence for you, as to put a great Stress upon your Judgment; and it will be an Addition to this, that if he knows the Step he has taken has reach'd so far, he must necessarily rejoyce at the Extent, the Progress, and the Advance of his Reputation. For I cannot tell how it is, but a diffusive Name is more agreeable to Men, than one that is even great in the Cause and Degree of it.
I Give you Joy of your safe Arrival in Town, which to me was never so much wanted or desired. As for my self, I shall stay a few Days longer at Tusculanus, to compleat the Work that is in my Hands. For I am afraid, that if I break off this Application of mine, now towards the Close of the Affair, I shall find a Difficulty in taking it up again. In the mean Time, that I may let nothing fall by my too eager Haste, which I design to ask of you at present, I desire it here by a kind of preliminary Letter; but first you must be told the Occasion of my Request, and then the Subject of it.
When I was last in my own Country, a Townsman's Son, who had almost newly put on his Pretexta, came to pay his Respects to me, I ask'd him, Whether he pursu'd any Study? He reply'd, He did: Where? At Milan: Why not here? To this his Father (for he was with him, and indeed brought the boy himself to me) answer'd, Because we have no Masters here. Why have you none? For it would be very much the Interest of you Fathers (and it [Page 180] happen'd luckily, that several Persons were present) to have your Children instructed at Home. For where can then live more pleasantly than in their Native Country; or be more virtuously govern'd than under the Eye of their Parents, or, be kept at a lesser Expence than at Home? Therefore how small a Matter would it be to keep Masters in Pay, by a contributed Stock of Cash, and throw what you spend at present on your Houses, Travelling Charges, or buying of Goods abroad (as all are bought) in a superfluous Manner, into Salaries? And so I, who as yet have no Children, am ready to give a third Part of what you shall be pleas'd to contribute for the Benefit of our little Commonwealth, as for a Daughter, or a Parent. I should willingly engage the whole, if I did not apprehend, that my Benefaction might sometime be corrupted by the Ambition of those that might sollicit for it: as I observe it happens in a Variety of Places, where Masters are publickly supported. One Remedy might obviate this Fault, if the Right of Choice and Payment was vested only in the Parents; and they were put under a scrupulous Obligation of Judging aright, by the Necessity of the Contribution. For they who, perhaps, would be careless of another's Money, would certainly be mindful of their own; and use their Endeavours, that none by a worthy Person shall receive it from me, when he is likewise to receive it from them at [Page 181] the same Time. Therefore agree, concur in the Matter, and take the better Spirit from mine, who am desirous that my Part of the Collection should be far the largest. You can do no greater Justice to your Children, or Pleasure to your Country. Let those who are born here, be here educated; and accustom'd, from their earliest Infancy to love and be familiar with their Native Soil; and I wish you may contract with Masters so famous, that Learning and Study may be here courted by the Neighbouring Towns: And as your Children now are sent to other Places, so Foreigners may speedily flock hither. I thought it necessary to carry these Arguments very high, and, as it were, to the Fountain head, to give you the clearest Sense, how acceptable it wou'd be to me, if you would undertake what I enjoin you. Now I enjoin and implore you, from the Importance of the Thing, to look about for Masters, whom we may sollicit, among the great Number of studious Men that resort to you, in Admiration of your Genius; yet under this Condition, that I may not oblige my self by Promise to any of them. For I preserve every Thing free to the Parents. Let them judge; Let them chuse; I only require the Care and the Expence for my Part of the Management. Therefore, if you meet with any one that confides in his Wit and Abilities, let him repair hither on this Article, that he brings nothing from these Offers that is certain, but his own Confidence. [Page 182]
YOU, perhaps, as your Manner is, both covet and expect one of my Orations; but I produce to you my gayer Writings, as it were from some foreign and select Merchandize. You will receive with this Letter my Phaleucic Verses, with which I amuse my leisure Time, in my Chariot, in the Bath, and at Supper. In these I express my Pleasantry, my Mirth, my Love, my Sorrow, my Complaint, my Anger. I describe something or other, sometimes more humbly, and at other times more loftily; and endeavour to bring it about by the Variety it self, that several Things may oblige different Tastes, and some possibly may please all. If any among them appear to you a little too petulant, it will become your Learning to consider, that the greatest and wisest Men, who have written in that Vein, have sometimes not only fallen into a certain Wantonness of Matter, but even a Nakedness of Expression. Which I have declin'd; not that I am more grave and severe, for how is that possible? But because I am more [Page 183] timorous. Besides we all know that to be the justest Rule of these lower and petty Compositions, which Catullus has express'd.
You may form an Estimate by this, how much I value your Judgment, that I had rather all was exactly weigh'd by you, than some chosen Parts applauded. And indeed the finest things cease to appear so, when they once begin to be march'd with others. Besides, a judicious and discerning Reader ought not to compare different Things with different, but to examine every Particular, and not to have the worse Opinion of any that is perfect in its kind. But why need I enlarge? For to excuse or recommend a few Trifles by a longer Preface, is the greatest of Trifles. One thing only seems requisite to be previously hinted, that I think to give these Toys of mine the Title of Hendecasyllables; a Word that is confin'd only to the Law of the Number. Therefore whether you prefer the Name [Page 184] of Epigrams, or Idylls, or Eclogues, or Poems, or any other, term them what you please, I offer you only Hendecasyllable Verses; and I desire you to be so plain with me, as to tell me, what you will express to others, in relation to my Book. Nor is this a difficult Request; for if this small Essay of mine was the principal of the only Work I had ever Penn'd, perhaps it might seem harsh to say, Look out for some other Employment, but it is soft and humane to say, You have a proper Study of employ you.
I Certainly act one Thing, (if any at all) with Judgment, in bearing a singular Respect to Asinius Rufus. He is an extraordinary Person, and a very great Lover of good and worthy Men. He has likewise cultivated a very near Acquaintance with Cornelius Tacitus; whom you well know. Therefore if we are both agreeable to you, Rufus must be [Page 185] equally so; since a Resemblance of Manners is the strictest Tie of Friendship. He has a large Family of Children, for he has discharg'd the Part of a good Citizen in this Article of a numerous Offspring, in an Age, when the Advantages of having none, make even one Son a Burthen to the greatest Part of the World. But these he has over-look'd so far, as to arrive at the Name of a Grand-Father. This he is by Saturius Firmus; whom you will value as I do, when you come to as thorough a Knowledge of him. All this tends to inform you, how well-Peopled a House you may oblige by one Act of Kindness: To entreat which of you, we are led first by our Wishes, and then by an auspicious Omen. For our Hopes and Presages join to place you in the next Year's Consulate: Your own Virtues, and the Judgment of your Prince, gives a Foundation for it. It would be agreeable, that Asinius Bassus, the eldest Son of Rufus, should be Quæstor the same Year; a young Gentleman (I don't know whether I ought to speak out, what the Father is fond I should both think and say, tho' the Modesty of the Son would forbid it) that even excels the Father. You may find it difficult to believe what I aver of an absent Person, tho' it is your Practice to believe me in every thing, that there is as much Industry, Probity, Learning, Wit, Study, Memory, in him, as you shall ever experience in any. I wish we had an [Page 186] Age so fruitful in good Arts and Talents, that you could prefer another to Bassus. In that Cafe, I should be the first, that would remind and perswade you, to look about and consider a long Time, who should be the principal Object of your Choice. But now; —However, I will say nothing more arrogantly of my Friend; this I only affirm, That the Merit of the Youth would entitle him to be adopted as a Son by you, after the Custom of our Ancestors. Now Men of your Sagacity should receive such for Sons, as it were from the Commonwealth, as we usually wish to receive from Nature. It will be an Honour to you to have a Quæstor, whose Father is of Prætorian Rank; and whose near Relations are Consular Men. To whom he, tho' as yet very Young, is in his Turn a reciprocal Ornament, in their own Opinion. Therefore indulge this Petition of mine, and at the same Time comply with my Advice; and above all, if I seem to be over hasty, excuse me, first, Because it is the usual Property of Love to run before its own Wishes; and further, Because in that City, where all is in a manner transacted by Anticipation, these Things that wait their due Time, are not properly ripen'd, but are of later Growth: In short, Since it is delightful to lay hold on what we desire, beforehand, let Bassus now reverence you as a Consul; have you a Kindness for him as your Quæstor; and let us, who are unquestioned [Page 187] Friends to both of you, enjoy a double Satisfaction. For since we have entertain'd that Value both for you and for Bassus, that we should be ready to assist him, whose Quæstor soever he might be; and your Quæstor, whoever he may be, in his pursuit of Advancement, with all possible Respect and Application, it will be highly pleasing to me, if the Power of my Friendship, or of your Consular Office shall concur to bestow what I desire on this same young Gentleman; if in short, you shall be the most forward to second my Wishes, whose Authority carries the largest Sway, as your Testimony has the utmost Weight in the Senate.
REjoyce for my Sake, your own, and that of the Publick: Letter'd Studies have yet their Honour paid to them. When it was last my Province to speak before the Centumviri, I had no Room to approach, except at [Page 188] the Tribunal, thro' the very Judges themselves; all the other Places were so crowded. Besides, a certain well-dress'd Youth kept his Stand, cover'd only with his Gown, after the rest of his Clothes were torn, as is usual in a Throng, during the Space of seven Hours. For I spoke all that Time with great Labour, but greater Advantage. Let us therefore Study, and not make the Sloth of others, a Pretence in Favour of our own. There are some that hear, some that read; Let us employ our selves now on what is proper for an Auditor; and anon, on what is fit for a Reader.
YOU admonish and importune me at once to undertake the Cause of absent Corellia, against Caius Cæcilius, who is design'd Consul. For Your Admonition I give you Thanks, but I take it ill to be importun'd about it. For I ought to be inform'd in order to know it, but shou'd not be sollicited to do, what it [Page 189] would be extremely dishonourable to neglect. Should I make any Scruple to defend the Daughter of Corellus? Indeed, there is no close Acquaintance, but still there is a Friendly Understanding between me and the Person against whom you would set me at work. Another Consideration, is the Worth of the Man, and that very Honour to which he is appointed; which I ought to reverence the more, since I have already pass'd it. For it is natural to desire, what has been our own Interest, should stand in the greatest Credit and Esteem. But all these Arguments are cold and vain, when I think I am to assist the Daughter of Corellus. This turns my View on that Great Man, equal to the wisest, the most approv'd, and sagacious in our Age. From admiring, I came to love him, and (the reverse of what is usual) I still admir'd him more, after I perfectly knew him. For indeed I knew him entirely; he conceal'd nothing from me, whether pleasant or serious; melancholy, or joyful. I was then very Young, and even then he did me Honour; and (I will take Leave to say it) paid me a Respect as his Equal. His Aid and Vote in every Competition for Places were at my Service: He was my Introductor and Companion, when I enter'd on any Office; my Councellor and Director, in the Management of it; and in short, in every Charge I went through, tho' weak and advanc'd in Years, appear'd to be Vigorous and Youthful. [Page 190] What Credit has he given me at Home, in Publick, and even with the Emperor? For when, on an accidental Occasion, a Talk arose about Promising young Men at the Emperor Nerva's, and most of the Company were pleas'd to commend me, he was silent for a Time, which gave him the more Weight; then with that Gravity you know, he said, I am oblig'd to be the more sparing in my Praise of Secundus, because he does nothing but by my Advice. An Expression that implied, (what it would have been an Extravagance in me to have presum'd) I acted every Thing well, since I acted by the Counsel of the most judicious Man alive. On his Death-bed too, he told his Daughter (as she commonly reports it) I have indeed procur'd you a Number of Friends, in a longer course of Life than ordinary, but the Chief are Cæcilius and Cornutus. When I reflect on this, I bethink my self that I ought to take Care, not in any part to fail the Trust of so provident a Friend. Therefore I will readily serve Corellia, and not be afraid to give a Distaste by it. Tho' I flatter my self, that I shall not only have the Pardon but the Applause of that very Person, who, you tell me, sets the Cause on Foot, (perhaps new, since it is against a Woman) if I shall happen, either for my own Excuse or Recommendation, to use these same Expressions, in the Pleading, more largely and copiously, than the narrow Bounds of a Letter, permit me.
HOW can I better shew you my Approbation of your Greek Epigrams, than by my own Essays to imitate and represent some of them in Latin. Yet this has fallen to a Disadvantage; first by the Weakness of my own Genius; and then by the Barrenness, or rather, as Lucretius Stiles it, the Poverty of our Native Tongue. If these, which are Latin, and my own, seem to you to have any Grace at all, what Beauty do you think they have, which are perform'd by you in the Greek Language? [Page 192]
AS I remember that great Affection which was between you and your excellent Brother, and know you love his Daughter as your own, so as not only to express the Tenderness of the best of Aunts, but even to supply that of the best of Fathers; I am sure it will be a Pleasure to you to hear that she proves worthy of her Father, worthy of you, and of your and her Ancestors. Her Ingenuity is admirable, her Frugality extraordinary. She loves me, the surest Pledge of her Virtue, and adds to this a wonderful Disposition to Learning, which she has acquir'd from her Affection to me. She reads my Writings, Studies them, and even gets them by Heart. You would smile to see the Concern she is in when I have a Cause to plead, and the Joy she shows when it is over. She finds Means to have the first News brought her of the Success I meet with in Court, how I am heard, and what Decree is made. If I recite any thing in Publick, she cannot refrain from placing herself privately in some Corner to hear, where, with [Page 193] the utmost Delight she feasts on my Applauses. Sometimes she sings my Verses, and accompanies them with the Lute, without any Master except Love, the best of Instructors. From these Instances I take the most certain Omens of our Perpetual and increasing Happiness; since her Affection is not founded on my Youth and Person, which must gradually decay, but she is in Love with the immutable Part of me, my Glory and Reputation. Nor, indeed, could less be expected from one, who had the Happiness to receive her Education from you, who, in your House, was accustomed to every thing that was Vertuous and Decent, and even began to love me by your Recommendation. For, as you had always the greatest Respect for my Mother, you were pleas'd from my Infancy to form me, to commend me, and kindly to presage, I should be one Day what my Wife fancies I am. Accept therefore our united Thanks; mine, that you have bestow'd her on me, and hers that you have given me to her, as a mutual Grant of Joy and Felicity. [Page 194]
I Told you my Opinion of each Book of yours in particular, as I read it; you may now take my Judgment of all in general. The Work is beautiful, strong, lively, sublime, various, elegant, clean, happily figur'd, ample, and much to your Praise, extensive. You have been carried to a large Compass by the Force, both of your Wit and Sorrow in it; and each has given Height and Magnificence to your Grief, and that has imparted a Spirit and a Poignancy to your Wit. [Page 195]
I Deplore the sad and unhappy Fate of the Sisters of Helvidius! Both expir'd, just after the Delivery of a Daughter. I am touch'd with a sensible, tho' not an extravagant Sorrow at it; and think it a severe Lot, that two young Ladies of great Honour and Character, are taken away by the Fruitfulness of Nature in the Bloom of Years. I am in Pain at the Infelicity of the Children (Orphans from their Nativity) as well as that of their very worthy Husbands, and much likewise in a private Concern at it. For I preserve a constant Value, even for the Memory of their deceas'd Father, as my Pleading and Books have testified. One only of his Children now survives; the sole Prop of a Family, that lately rested upon more Supports. Yet my Uneasiness will be extreamly softned, if Fortune shall keep him at least healthful and Secure; and equal to such Ancestors. I am the more anxious for his Safety and Conduct, since he is left alone: You know the Tenderness of my Soul in Point of Affection, and the Power of my [Page 196] Fears, so that you will be less surpriz'd, that I have the greatest Alarms, where my Hopes are the most sanguine.
I Was in Council lately, at a Hearing before His Imperial Majesty; a stated Prize was play'd at Vienne, by the Will of a certain Person. Trebonius Rufinus, a Man of great Merit, and my Friend, abolish'd it in his Diumvirate. It was deny'd, that he did it by Publick Authority. He sollicited his Cause himself, with a Success equal to his Eloquence. It recommended his Plea, that he spoke in a seasonable and weighty Manner, like a true Roman and a worthy Citizen. When the Votes were gather'd, Junius Mauricus (as steady and true a Man as any living) spoke to this Effect, That the Game was not to be restor'd to the Viennois; he added, I wish it could be remov'd at Rome likewise. Boldly you'll say, and with Courage. Right; but this is no new Thing with Mauricus. He express'd [Page 197] himself with the same Spirit before the Emperor Nerva. Nerva was at Supper with a few Intimates. Vejento lay the nearest to him; (I say all in naming the Man;) There happen'd a Conversation about Catullus Messalinus; who, depriv'd as he was of his Eye-sight, added all the Ills of Blindness to the Cruelty of his Temper. Fear, Shame, Mercy were Strangers to him; he was often flung, like a Dart, (which is cast, it self void of Sight and Direction) at any Person of Consequence. All in general talk'd at Suppertime of his Villany, and bloody Measures; then the Emperor himself put the Question, What do you think he would suffer if he had been alive? Mauricus reply'd, He would Sup with us. I have made a Digression too far; yet with a good Will. It was thought proper, that the Game should be abolish'd, which infected the Manners of the Viennois, as our Sport of the same kind taints the Manners of all. For the Faults of the Viennois are confin'd to themselves, ours are diffus'd far and wide. And as in the Body Natural, so in the Political, that Disease is the most fatal, that is sent abroad from the Head.
IT was a great Satisfaction to me, to hear from our Common Friends, that you, as it becomes your good Sense, employ your Leisure and bear it, live very delightfully, make Use of Exercise, by Land or Water, converse, hear, and read very much; and tho' you are very knowing, yet you daily learn. Thus the Man should grow old, who has gone thro' the greatest Offices, has commanded Armies, and given himself up entirely, as far as it was fit for him, to the Common-wealth. For we ought to sacrifice the First and the Middle Times of Life to our Country, the last to our selves; as the very Laws admonish us, which restore a Man, that is past his LXth Year, to his private Repose. When shall I have that Liberty? When shall my Age make it reputable for me to Copy after this Pattern of honourable Ease? When shall my Retreat have the Name, not of Supineness, but of Tranquility? [Page 199]
WHEN I spoke last before the Centumvirate, in an Assembly of the four Courts, I recollected, that I perform'd the same when I was Young. My Memory went further, as it usually does; I began to think, who were the Partners of my Labour in this, and the other Process. I was alone in both; such Changes are occasioned by frail Mortality, or doubtful Fortune. Some, that were then at the Bar, are since deceas'd; others are banish'd; some are silenc'd by Age and ill Health; others enjoy an agreeable Quiet: One is a Commander in the Army, another is exempted from Civil Offices by the Favour of the Emperor. Even about my self, what Turns have befell? I have advanc'd by my Studies, and again have advanc'd in them. The Friendship of Good Men has serv'd and disserv'd me; and again serves me. If you compute the Years, 'tis a small Time, if the Chances of Things, you would think it an Age. Which may be a Lesson to despair of Nothing, to confide in Nothing, since we [Page 200] find so many Variations are brought about in so changeable a Circle. Now it is familiar with me to communicate every Thought of mine to you, and to instruct you by the same Precepts and Examples, by which I instruct my self; which was the Occasion of this Letter.
I Sent you my Opinion, that it was to be fear'd, some ill Consequence should arise from a clandestine way of Voting. So it has happen'd. In the last Assembly of the People, many of the Voting Tables were mere Buffoonry, and many too vile to be openly express'd; and in one, the Names of the Voters were found, instead of the Candidates. The Senate was highly displeas'd at it, and denounc'd the Indignation of the Emperor against the Writer with a loud Clamour: Yet he deceiv'd them; did not appear; and, perhaps, was among those that appear'd to be angry. What may it be imagin'd, is his Conduct at [Page 201] Home, who plays upon so important a Matter as a Time so serious, with this Scurrility? The Confidence of a Man's asking himself, who shall know it? makes a corrupt Mind so licentious. He demanded the Tables, took the Pencil, hung down his Head; fears no Body, despises himself. Hence is all this Ridicule, fit only for the Theatre or a Stage. Whither can you turn your self? What Remedies can you seek? The Cure is every where too weak for the Disease. But these Affairs, that are above our Sphere, will be the Care of some other Hand, whose daily Vigilance and Labour encreases by this idle, and yet ungovern'd Petulancy of ours.
YOU desire me to review and amend my Books, which you have very carefully Collected. I will do it. For what can I more agreeably take in Hand, especially at your Order. When You, a Person of the most solid Judgment, of the utmost Learning, Eloquence, [Page 202] and Experience in these Matters, who are to preside over so large a Province, set that Value on my Writings, as to carry them about with you: How watchful ought I to be, that this Part of your Equipage do not offend you, as superfluous? My first Endeavour then shall be, to make these Companions as easy to you as I can, and then, that you may meet with others, fit to add to them, at your Return. For as you are my Reader, you are not the least Motive to new Performances.
I Heard Sentius Augustinus Rehearse t'other Day, with great Pleasure, nay, with Admiration. He calls his Works a sort of lesser Poems; there is a great deal in the Familiar, the sublime, the florid, the tender, the smooth, and the satyrical Vein. I believe, nothing of the Kind has been more compleatly penn'd for some Years, unless my Partiality for him, or his Praise of me, deceives me. For his Theme [Page 203] was this, that I sometimes amuse my self with versifying; so I will make you a Judge of my Taste, if I can remember the second Verse from the Theme it self; for I have the rest already, and have explain'd them.
You remark, How poignant, how apt, how expressive, is every Part of them! I engage the whole Piece to you, after the same Taste; and will give you a View of it as soon as he has publish'd it. In the mean time, be kind to this young Author, and congratulate our Age on the Production of such a Wit, which he further sets off by his Manners. He lives with Spurinna, he lives with Antony: He is related to one; and a House Companion to both of them. You may hence conjecture, how compleat a Youth he is, when he is caress'd to this Degree by Men in Years of the most solid Character. For it is very true, (what is pronounc'd by the Greek Poet:)
HErennius Severus, a Person of consummate Learning, reckons much upon setting the Pictures of your Townsmen, Cornelius Nepos, and Titus Cassius, in his Library, and desires me, if they be in your Town, as it is probably they are, to send them, in order to have them copy'd and painted for him. I rather enjoin you this Trouble; chiefly because you are so friendly as to be very obliging to my Desires; and then you have the utmost Regard for Letters, and for the Studious; and in the last Place, you have a great Veneration and Love for your Country, and for all that have advanc'd the Glory of it, in an equal Degree. I would beg of you to pitch upon the best Hand you can; for, as it is hard to express a Likeness from the Life, so to Copy after a Copy, is the greatest Difficulty of all. And I would desire you, not to permit the Workmen you shall employ, to deviate from it, tho' it were for the better.
HEARK you, Friend, when the next Cause is try'd, by all means come into Court: You can place no Confidence in my excusing you; and must not think to play the Truant with impunity. I vow, Licinius Nepos, the Prætor, a man of Resolution and Courage, denounc'd a Fine upon a Senator himself. He pleaded his own Cause in the Senate, and manag'd it so, as to obtain a Pardon. The Mulct was remitted, but he was in Fear; he Petition'd; there was a Necessity of a Pardon. You will say, all Prætors are not so severe. You are in the wrong. For to introduce, or revive, such a Precedent, can be only the Part of a severe Man; but as to the putting in Execution one that it set on Foot or restor'd, the mildest in the World may be capable of it.
INstead of a Present from my Country, I have brought you a Question, very worthy of your profound Learning. I have a Spring, that takes its Rise upon a Hill, flows down a stony Gutter, and is receiv'd in a little Parlour, made by Art: After it has made a short stay there, it falls into the Larian Lake. The Nature of it is surprising. It ebbs and flows thrice a Day, with a regular Flux and Reflux. This is plainly observ'd, and look'd upon with great Pleasure. You may lie along on the Bank of it, and ear, and drink of the Spring Water, which is extremely cool and refreshing: In the mean Time, it retires, or swells up at certain measur'd Periods of Time. If you lay a Ring or any thing else, on the dry Bank, a Wash will come upon it by Degrees, and at last cover it: Then it appears again, and in a short Time, is forsaken by the Water. If you stay longer to make your Observation, you may view both these Appearances, again, or a third Time. Does some conceal'd Breath of Air of Wind, now [Page 207] expand, now shut the Mouth and Jaws of the Spring, as it is let in by Illation, or departs by Expulsion; as you find in Bottles and other Vessels of the same kind, where the Mouth is something close, or narrow; for they, though plac'd with the Neck downwards and declining, yet check what they discharge by repeated Gurglings; as it were, with certain Stops of a resisting Wind. Or has this Spring the same Nature as the Sea? And as that is carry'd forward, or withdrawn, in the same Manner, this small Mass of Water is repress'd or ejected by Turns? Or, as Rivers, which are convey'd down to the Sea, are flung back by adverse Winds, or an opposing Tide, so there is some Cause that returns the Issuing of this Fountain, at settled Points of Time. Or is there a certain Machine in the secret Veins of it, which makes the Rivulet lesser and slower, while it collects what is spent, and more active and full, when it has gather'd it? Or is there an unaccountable Poize, secret and Mysterious, that works up, and plays the Water, when the Scale is emptied, and detains and choaks it up when it is full? Do you search the Causes, (for you are equal to it) that create so great a Miracle; it is sufficient for me, if I have clearly enough describ'd the State and Effect of it.
A Small Legacy, but one that is more acceptable than the largest, has fallen to me. Why preferable to the Greatest, you will say? Pomponia Gratilla, having disinherited her Son, Assudius Curianus, left me her Heir, and appointed for Coheirs, Sortorius Severus, of Prætorian [Page 210] Dignity, and other Roman Knights of Distinction. Her Son, Curianus, desir'd me to give him my Part, and help him out by so favourable a Precedent; and by a secret Agreement, engag'd it should still be secure to me. I answer'd, that is was not agreeable to my way of acting, to do one Thing openly, and another under-hand: Besides, that it did not carry a good Face, to give to one that was Rich, and had no Family: In short; that I should do him no Service, if I gave it him, as a Donation, but should, if I yielded it up to him as a Right; which I was ready to come into, if it appear'd, that he was unjustly disinherited. To this he reply'd, I would beg the Favour of you to examine the Matter. After a little Pause, I told him, that I would consider it: For, (continu'd I) I do not see why I should think less of my self, than I appear to you. But remember at the same Time, that I shall not want courage, if I find it turn in Favour of your Mother. As you please, said he, for you will please to do no more than what is very right and equitable. I consulted two, the most approv'd Men at that Time in Town, Corellius and Frontinus. With these about me, I sate down in my Chamber. Curianus spoke what he thought made for him. I answer'd, briefly; (None else being in Company to defend the Reputation of the deceas'd) then withdrew, and by the Opinion of my Council, said; Curianus, it seems your Mother has been displeas'd [Page 211] with you upon just Reasons. After this, he subscrib'd a Hearing before the Centumviri with the others, and not with me. The Court Day drew on; my Partners in the Devise were inclin'd to compound and transact the Affair between all; not in a diffidence of the Cause, but in a Fear of the Times. They were afraid, that the Judgment of the Centumviri should be Capital upon them, as they knew it has happen'd in many other Cases; and there were some among them, to whom the Friendship of Gratilla and Rusticus might be made an Objection; they desir'd me to talk with Curianus. We met in the Temple of concord; there I urg'd, if your Mother had left you Heir to a fourth Part, could you have complain'd? What if you had been made compleat Heir, but so encumber'd with Legacies, that you would have possess'd no more than a fourth, in Remainder? Therefore you ought to be satisfy'd, if, as you are disinherited by your Mother, you receive a fourth Part from her Heirs, which notwithstanding, I will augment. You know you have not indicted me before the Centumvirate, and that it is now two Years, since I have enjoy'd the Use and Possession of all; but that my Partners may find you more tractable, and you may be no Loser by your Respect for me, I offer you as much for my Particular. I reap'd the Advantage, not only of a clear conscience in this Matter, but of a [Page 211] good Character. Therefore this same Curianus left me a Legacy; and distinguish'd this Action of mine (unless I flatter my self) with that conspicuous Honour, that has been so much us'd by the Antients. I send you this Account, because I converse with you upon all Subjects that either delight or trouble me, with the same Freedom, as I do with my self; and I thought it hard to defraud you, who are so great a Friend, of the Pleasure I my self receiv'd. For I am not so much a Philosopher, as to have no Concern, whether or no the honourable Steps I think I take, be crown'd with any Approbation or Reward.
YOUR fine Present of Thrushes I receiv'd; which I cannot match by any Stores I can raise from my Laurentine Villa, or from the Sea, in so rough and stormy a Course of Weather. My Letter will therefore wait upon [Page 213] you barren, and plainly ungrateful; and not so much as imitating the craft of Diomedes, in the Exchange of a Gift. But you will be so Good-natur'd, as to pardon it the more readily, as by its own Confession it is void of Merit.
AS all your good Offices are both agreeable and obliging, so this especially, that you did not conceal from me, that my Verses had been the Subject of much Conversation, at your House, and that drawn to a great Length by the Difference of Opinions: That there were some, who did not find Fault, with what were wrote but in a friendly and well-meaning way with me, that I should write and repeat such: With whom, to encrease my Fault, I own, I sometimes write Verses, none of the gravest. I make Comedies, I both hear and see Mimicks, I read Lyricks, and I relish Satyr; besides, I laugh, joke, and am merry; [Page 214] and to confess, I indulge all innocent Relaxations, I am Man. Nor am I concern'd, that those (who are ignorant that the most learned, the wisest and best of Men, have wrote such) should entertain such an Opinion of my Manners, as to wonder that I do. But from those, who know what, and how great Authors I follow, I am satisfy'd I shall easily have leave to err: since it is in Company, whose Light as well as serious works, it is a Credit to copy after. To avoid the Suspicion of Flattery, I will name no Body living; but shall, I fear, that will be indecent in me, that became M. Tully, C. Calvus, A. Pollio, M. Messala, Q. Hortensius, M. Brutus, L. Sulla, Q. Catullus, Q. Scævola, Ser. Sulpitius, Varro, Torquatus, all the Torquati, Memmicus, Lentulus, Gætulicus, Annæus Seneca, Luceius, and in fine, Virginius Rufus, and if private Examples will not justify, Julius Cæsar, Augustus, Nerva, T. Cæsar, for of Nero I say nothing, tho' I know Things do not lose their Value, that are sometimes the Works of bad, but maintain their Credit, as they have more often the Authority of good Men. Among whom, the most remarkable are P. Virgilius, C. Nepos, Ennius, and Accius, who shou'd have been first mentioned: These, indeed, were not Senators, but Sanctity of Manners little differs from Honour. I own I repent my Writings; whether they did theirs or not, I cannot tell, they might rely on [Page 215] their own Judgment, I have too modest an Opinion of my self, to think any Performance of mine perfect, that has only my Approbation. These, therefore are my Reasons for repeating; First, that he who repeats, is, in Respect to the Auditors, more careful in his Composition: then, what he is doubtful of, he fixes as upon an Opinion given; he is admonish'd of many Things by many; and if he is not so admonish'd, as to know what every one thinks, yet he perceives by their countenance their Eyes, their Nod, the Motion of their Hands, the Murmur, their Silence, which by sufficient Signs distinguish Opinion from good Will, and that in such a Manner, that if any present, have a Desire to read the same, he will easily find me to have chang'd and left out many Things, and perhaps from the Judgment he made, tho' he said nothing to me. And these Things I thus argue, as if I had call'd the People to the Audience, not my Friends in private, of whom, to have many, has been an Honour to all, was never a Discredit to any. [Page 216]
WE have met with a small Affair here, tho' the Occasion of it was not so inconsiderable. Sollers a Person of Prætorian Rank, petition'd the Senate for a Ninth-day Market in the Country, upon his Estate. The Agents of the Vicentini oppos'd it; Thuscillus Nominatus was their Advocate: The Cause was adjourn'd. At the other Hearing before the Senate, the Deputies of Vicenza came in without any Advocate; they affirm'd they were deceiv'd: It is doubtful whether they spoke it inconsiderately, of from their real Sentiments. When they were ask'd by Nepos the Prætor, whom they had employ'd in their Cause? They answer'd, the same they us'd before. On the Question, Whether he then appear'd Gratuitously? They answer'd, for a Fee of 6000 Sesterces: When it was enquir'd, Whether they had given him a second Consideration? They reply'd, a Thousand Deniers. Nepos insisted upon it, that Nominatus should be summon'd [Page 217] before the House: So far they proceeded that Day; but as far as I can conjecture, the Matter will be carried farther. For a variety of Things, that at first are closely manag'd, and only move upon a very small Hinge, spread to a wider Compass. I have awaken'd your Attention, as long as it is convenient for the present: You may with much Civility desire to know the rest; if you do not take a turn to Rome on this singe account, and chuse rather to be a Spectator than a Reader.
I Am told, that Caius Fannius is dead; a piece of News that has given me much regret: In the first Place, because I knew the Man to be a Master of an elegant Taste, and of the Art of Speaking; and in the next, because I frequently made use of his Judgment: For he was by Nature penetrating, in Application assiduous, in variety of Knowledge and Affairs, extremely ready. Besides all this, I am concern'd at the Circumstances of his [Page 218] Death. When he expir'd, he left a Will, that was made long ago; he omitted those he set the highest Value upon; and consider'd such Men, as had been most obnoxious to him. But this, however, may be supported; another Thing is less tolerable, that he has left a beautiful Work behind him unfinish'd. For though he has taken up with the Affairs of the Bar, yet he wrote a History of the Fate of those, who had been put to Death, or banish'd by Nero; and had already perfected three Books, remarkable for acuteness of Wit, Care, and a just Latin Style; and of a middle Character between the Orator and the Historian. And he was the more desirous to perfect the rest, as these were the more in Vogue. But I always look upon the Death of those who are preparing some immortal Work, as severe and immature. For they who are abandon'd to Pleasure, and live no more than a short Day-light, are daily undeserving of Life; but they, who think of Posterity, and extend their Memory by their Actions, must at any time die suddenly, because they will always interrupt something that has been undertaken. Indeed Caius Fannius was previously sensible of what happen'd, long before. As he slept one Night, he dreamt that he lay in his Bed, in a studying Dress, and that as usual, he had a Book-Case before him; soon after he imagin'd that Nero came in, and sate upon the Bed, took out the first Book he had publish'd about his Misconduct, [Page 219] and turn'd it over from one end to the other; that he did the same a second and third time, and then retir'd. He was terrify'd at it, and put this Interpretation upon it, as if he was to make the same end of his Writing, that he made of Reading; and this precisely happen'd. When I reflect upon this, I think with Pity, what Care and Labour he employ'd in vain; I recollect my own Mortality, and my own Writings: And I doubt not, but you are alarm'd with the same Apprehension for the Works you have in Hand. Therefore, while Life continues, let us make it our Endeavour, that Death may find as few Undertakings to destroy, as possible.
I Was pleas'd with your Concern and Sollicitude, that when you heard I design'd to retreat among my Tuscan Neighbours in Summer, you persuaded me to the contrary, from an Opinion that the Place is unwholsome. Indeed [Page 220] the Tuscan Coast, that lies along the Seaside, is inconvenient and pernicious to Health: But this Quarter is remote from the Sea; besides, it lies under the Apennine Hills, which are the most Healthful in the World; and therefore, that you may dismiss all your Fears on my Account, mind the Temper of the Air, the Situation of the country, the Delightfulness of the Villa; all which you will find an Entertainment in hearing, as I shall in the Relation.
The Air, in Winter time, is Cold and Frosty. The Soil will not favour the Myrtle, the Olive, and other Plants, that love a constant Warmth; yet it bears the Laurel, and produces it extremely Green. Sometimes it kills it, but not more frequently than is usual about the Town. The Summer is extremely favourable; it is always moving with a gentle Breeze, yet has more often an easie breathing Air, than a Wind. Hence it is, that you may here observe a great Number of Men in Years, that are Grand-fathers of many, now in their Youth. You may hear the Old Stories and Talk of our Fore-fathers, and when once you come hither, you would fancy your self in another Age. The Form of the Country is very fine. Imagine some vast Amphitheatre, and such a one, as Nature alone can make. A wide extended Plain is environ'd with Mountains, which are planted with tall [Page 221] and aged Groves of Trees on the Top of them. The Game there for Hunting, is plentiful and various; from thence, as the Mountains falls, there is a Descent of Copices: Among these are fruitful Eminencies of Ground, (for you seldom meet with a rocky Part, tho' you look for it;) that are not inferior to the Plains in Fertility, and mature a rich Harvest, something late indeed, but as perfectly. Under these, Vineyards are spread, all over the Side of them, and by their Texture, create one Face all about them: At the End, and Bottom of them, Shrubs grow up in a kind of Border; and after them you have Meadows and open Fields, that are not to be broken up by any Oxen, but those of the largest Size, and by the strongest Ploughs. The Soil being very close and tenacious, when it is first cut, rises in so great Masses of Earth, that it is not subdu'd entirely, 'till the ninth Furrow. The Meadows are flowry and blooming; they produce the Trefoil and other kinds of Herbage, always tender and soft, and as it were, newly springing. For all of them are nourish'd by a constant supply of Water, and Rivulets. But where the Water abounds in greatest Plenty, there is no Marshy Ground, for the Declivity of the Land carries off the Moisture it receives, and does not imbibe, into the Tyber. That River divides the Ground in the Center; it is navigable, and conveys all sorts of Grain to the City, but only in Winter, and the Spring; [Page 222] in Summer it is low, and loses the Name of a Capacious River by the driness of its Channel, but recovers it in Autumn. You will be extremely pleas'd in taking this Prospect of the Country from a Mountain: For you will not imagine, that you view a Spot of Ground, but a Landschape excellently painted; the Eye is refresh'd with that Variety, with that exact Delineation, wherever it falls. The Villa it self, plac'd at the Foot of a Hill, enjoys a View, as if it were on the Brow of it; and rises so gently, so gradually, with an Ascent, that deceives you as you mount, that when you do not think you are going up the Side of it, you are sensible you have ascended. Behind, at some Distance, is the Apennine Mountain. From that it receives a Gale of Air, however calm or still the Day proves, yet not the violent or immoderate, but spent and broken by the very Interval. A great Part of it looks to the South, and as it were, invites the Sun, at Six in Summer, and in Winter something earlier, into a Gallery, that is large, and long in Proportion. There are several Lodgings and Apartments in it; the Court is after the manner of the Antients. Before the Gallery you have a Parterre, cut in a Variety of Shapes, and distinguish'd with Rows of Box, facing one another: Lower is a Spot cover'd with Bear's-foot, so soft to the Tread, that the Foot is hardly sensible of it. [Page 223]
This Spot is enclos'd with a Walk, set round with Greens, close and differently cut: After this, is an Alley, turning in Form of a Circle, within which you have Box-Trees variously figur'd, and small Trees, kept low by Care. All this is fenc'd by a Wall cover'd by several Stages of Box, and conceal'd from the Eye. On the other side is a Meadow, as pleasing by Nature, as what I have mention'd is by Art; and further on, you have open Fields, and several other Pasture-Grounds, and Knots of little Trees. At the Head of the Gallery is a Dining-Room; the Door of it fronts the Extremity of the Parterre, and the Windows view the Meadow, and a large Tract of the Country. This way, a side of the Gallery looks to that Part of the Villa, which advances forward; and to the Groves and Heads of Trees, in the Riding-Place near it. On one Side of the Gallery, towards the middle, there is an Apartment, something retiring backward, that surrounds a little Court, shaded with four Plane-Trees. In the midst of these is a Bason of Marble, and the Water that is pour'd from it affords a Refreshment to the Plane-Trees about, and the Grass that grows under them, by a gentle sprinkling. In this Apartment is a Bed-Chamber, where no Light, Noise, or even Sound can penetrate; and contiguous to it, is a Room for daily Entertainment of my Friends. Another Gallery comes upon this little Court, and points to [Page 224] all the same Views with the former. There is another Chamber, which enjoys the Verdure and Shade of a Plane-Tree, set near it; fac'd with carv'd Work in Marble, Breast-high, up to a Balcony; there is a painting of Branches, and of Birds fitting upon them (with a little Fountain beneath) that equals the Beauty of the Marble: In this Fountain is a Bason, and about it a Number of Tubes and Canals, that make an agreeable murmur. In a Corner of the Gallery, you pass into a spacious Chamber, opposite to the Dining Room; that looks to the Parterre from some Windows, and the Meadows from the other. Beneath it is a Water-work, that plays under the Windows, delightful both for the Sight, and hearing of the Fall; for the Water, descending from an Height into a Marble Receiver, grows white and foamy. That same Chamber is very warm in Winter, as having the full Advantage of the Sun. Next it is a Stove, and if the Day be overcast, the Vapour of it supplies the Place of the Sun. Thence you go into the Undressing Room for the Bath, it is large and pleasant; then you enter the Cold-bathing Room: where is a Vessel for that Use, large, and sufficiently dark. If you be inclin'd to swim more at Liberty, and with more Warmth, there is a Bath in the Court, and near it a Well, from whence you may be cool'd with fresh Water, if the warm be incommodious. On the Side of the Cold-bathing [Page 225] Room is another of a middle Temper, where the Sun is very favourable; tho' he is more so to the Hot-bathing Apartment, because it is more prominent. There are three Stair-cases to go down to it, two expos'd to the open Sun, the other more remote from it, but as lightsome. Above the Undressing Room for the Bath, is a Tennis-Court, that will admit of several diverting Exercises, and has a Variety of Quarters for it; and not far from the Bath, is a Tennis Court, that will admit of several diverting Exercises, and has a Variety of Quarters for it; and not far from the Bath is a Stair-case, that carries you first into three Apartments, and then into a close Gallery: One of those Apartments looks over the Plane-tree Court, the other to the Meadows, the other to several Vineyards, so that they are expos'd to different Parts of the Heaven; and different Prospects: At the End of the cover'd Gallery is a Chamber taken out of it, which looks to the Riding-Ground, the Vineyards and the Mountains. Contiguous to it, is another very obvious to the Sun, especially in Winter: From this you enter an Apartment, that joins the Riding-House to the Vill: This is the Face and View of it in Front: On the South-side, there is a rais'd close Gallery, which does not seem to look to the Vineyards, but to touch them. In the midst of this Gallery is a Dining-Room, that receives a very wholesome Air from the Apennine Valleys: It has a View through very large Windows to the Vineyards, and from a folding Door to the same from whence the Eye traverses the Gallery. [Page 226] On that side where the Chamber has no Windows, there is a private Stair-Case, that is us'd in the Serving up of an Entertainment. At the End of it is a Chamber, to which the Gallery affords a Prospect as agreeable as the Vineyards. Under it is a Gallery, like a Subterraneous one, that is very cool in Summer, and content with the Air it incloses, neither wants, nor admits, any other. After these two close Galleries, where the Chamber ends, is an open Gallery, cool in the Forenoon, and warm in the decline of the Day. This leads to two Apartments; one is compos'd of four Chambers, the other of three, which, as the Sun takes his Circuit, either enjoy the Gleam, or the Shade. Before these Buildings so well and agreeably dispos'd, is a large Riding-Ground, it is open in the middle, and immediately offers itself entire to the View of those that enter it; it is surrounded with Plane-Trees, which are cloath'd with Ivy: Thus the top of these Trees is green with their proper Leaves, and the lower part is cover'd with a Foreign Foliage. The Ivy wanders over the Trunk and Branches, and joins the Neighbouring Plane-Trees together, in its Passage. Between these Planes, are Box Trees; the exterior part of them is encompass'd with Laurel, which mingles its Shadow with that of the Plane-Trees: The Bound of the Riding-House is here straight, in the Extremity it breaks off in a Semi-circle, and alters its Figure; it is surrounded and cover'd with Cypress-Trees, [Page 227] that make the Shade of it more close and gloomy. In the Inner Rounds of it (for it has a Variety) it receives the clearest Day: It displays every where a beautiful show of Roses, and an agreeable Sun-shine corrects the too great Coolness of the Shade. When this Variety of Rounds and Bendings is at an end, it returns to a straight Border, and that not a single one: For several Ways and Alleys are divided by middle Rows of Box-Trees; here a green Spot, there the Box itself intervenes, mark'd out in a Thousand Forms, and cut in Letters, that sometimes declare the Name of the Master, and sometimes that of the Workman. You see alternately small Pyramids, and Apple-Trees; and this Rustick Beauty of a Spot, which you would say was convey'd all at once into a Place so elegantly set out, is adorn'd towards the middle with Plane-Trees, which are kept very low, on each side: Then you enter into a Tract cover'd with Bears foot, that is bending and pliable; where is likewise a Number of Figures and of Names, express'd in the Plants. At the Extremity, is a Bed of white Marble, cover'd with a Vine, supported by four Pillars of Carystian Marble: From the Bed a flow of Water, as it were, forc'd out by the Weight of those that lie upon it, is receiv'd in a Stone Basin, and from that, in a thin Shell of Marble, and it is so imperceptibly manag'd, that it fills it, and never overflows. When I am dispos'd to eat in this Place, the [Page 228] more solid Dishes are plac'd on the Sides of this Basin, and the lighter put in Vessels that float in the Water, some in the Shape of Boats, others in that of Birds. Over against it is a Fountain, that flings out, and again receives its Water; for when it has been thrown to a good height, it falls back upon itself, and by two Openings that have a Communication, it descends and mounts again incessantly, opposite to the Bed, against the Chamber. This gives an equal Grace to the Bed, as it borrows from it: It shines all over with Marble; its folding Doors jutt out among the Greens, and are almost cover'd with them; then it looks upwards and downwards to other Greens from the higher and lower Window. Near it is another little Apartment, that retires, as it were, into the same Chamber, and is distinct from it. Here is a Bed, and Windows on every side, and yet the Light of it is something gloomy by the Shade that covers it: For a very Luxuriant Vine creeps along over all the Building, and rises to the top of it: You repose there as in a Grove, but are not expos'd to the Rain, as you would be there. Here a Fountain likewise starts up, and loses itself in the same Place. There are Marble Seats dispos'd in several Places, that relieve a fatigue of walking, as well as a Chamber. Near the Seats are small Fountains, the Rivulets that issue from then purl along thro' the whole Riding-Ground, in Pipes and Canals, and follow where the Hand of [Page 229] Art directs them. Sometimes these Greens, sometimes those, and sometimes all together, are wash'd with them. I had finish'd this Account long ago, in fear of being too particular, if I had not propos'd to go about every Corner with you in my Letter: For I was not apprehensive, that it should be tiresome to you in the Reading, which would not have been tedious in the View; especially, when, if you pleas'd, you might rest at Intervals, and, as it were, sit down, laying aside my Epistle. Besides, I indulg'd my own fondness, for I love what I have in a great measure begun; or finish'd, after it had been set on foot by another. In short, (for why should not I impart either my Judgment or Error, to you?) I think it the first Duty of a Writer, to read the Title of his Subject, and often ask himself what he undertook to write upon; and to know, that if he does stay upon his Subject, he is not to long; but very prolix, if he fetches in every thing that is foreign to it. You observe, in what a Multitude of Verses Homer and Virgil describe the Arms of Æneas and Achilles; yet both are short, because they perform what they design'd: You see how Aratus traces over, and collects even the minutest Stars, yet he keeps within Bounds. For this is no Excursion, but the Work itself. Thus to descend from great Matters to smaller, when I endeavour to represent an entire View of my Country Seat to you, if I speak nothing that is strain'd, and digressive, [Page 230] it is not the Letter which gives the Description, but the Vill, which is the Subject of it, that is extravagant. But I must return where I began, least I incur a just Exception, according to my own Rule, if I should depart too far from my Subject. I have given you the Reasons, why I prefer my Tuscan Seat, to those at Tusculum, Præneste, or Tybur. For, over and above what I have related, that Retreat is more quiet, and better supply'd; and therefore more secure; there is no Necessity of a set Dress for Business or Visits, no impertinent Calls from the Neighbourhood. All is pleasing and profoundly easie, which is an addition to the healthful Temper of the Climate; as the Sky is more clear, and the Air more serene here, I enjoy the greatest Vigour, both of Mind and Body. For I exercise my Mind with Studies, and my Body with Hunting. My People live no where in a better Course of Health: I am sure, that hitherto I have lost (thanks to kind Heaven) not one of those I brought hither with me. May the Gods ever continue those Joys to myself, and this Lustre to the Place hereafter.
IT Is notorious, that a Township can be neither appointed an Heir, nor make the first Demand upon a Will. But Saturninus, who has left me his Heir, has bequeath'd a fourth Part of his Estate to our Town, and then fix'd that Fourth to 400000 Sesterces: This, in the Eye of the Law, is Null, but in the Intention of the Deceas'd, is firm and valid. Now to me, the Will of the Defunct (tho' I am afraid the Lawyers may take amiss what I shall say) is more important than the Law; especially in a Devise which is made to our common Country. What probability is there, that after having given it 1200000 Sesterces of my own Estate, I should deny it something more than a Third Part of 400000, of what is come to me from another Hand? I know too, that you are not disinclin'd to my Opinion, since you have the Affection of a very worthy Citizen to the same Body. I would therefore desire you, at the next Meeting of the Decurions, to shew, what the Law is; yet in a sparing and modest [Page 232] manner; and then add, that I offer 400000 Sesterces, according to the Will of Saturninus. Let this be call'd his Gift, his Benefaction, but only my Obedience to his Pleasure. I would not write this publickly to the Court; my Confidence in your Friendship, and good Sense, persuaded me that you would speak for me upon this occasion, as you would for your self: And I was afraid, that my Letter might seem to depart from that just Mean, which you might easily preserve in your Discourse. For the Personal Air, the Gesture, the Tone of the Voice itself, determine the Sense what is spoken, but a Letter, destitute of all these Recommendations, is left naked to every malicious Construction.
YOU advise me to write History, and you are not alone in this Advice; many others have put me upon it more than once, and indeed [Page 233] I am willing enough of my self; not because I believe I shall do it well, ('twere rashness in any one to fancy that before a Tryal) but because I think it a most laudable and glorious thing to preserve those from perishing who deserve Immortality, and to extend to Posterity the Fame of other Men along with ones own. Now I confess, there's nothing in the World I so passionately desire and long after, as to last and be known when I am dead; a Desire most worthy of a Man, but especially one, who not conscious to himself of any Misdemeanour, is not afraid of being remember'd hereafter. With this view I spend whole Days and Nights in considering with my self how I may— mount upon the Wings of Fame (my Wishes go no farther, what follows is more than I dare wish) And through the World acquire immortal Fame. Yet Oh!—But the first is enough, and even that I might venture to say nothing but History can warrant and secure to us. Oratory and Poetry are unentertaining and without Charms, unless they are perform'd with great Eloquence and Exactness; History, though but indifferently written, always pleases. For Men are naturally curious, and taken with the Knowledge of Things themselves, stript of Dress and Ornament. Plain Narration, and bare Matter of Fact, allures and delights them. Besides, I have a Domestick Example to encourage me in this Undertaking. My Uncle, (Father too by Adoption) has written History [Page 234] with great Niceness and Veracity; and the Wise tell us, that nothing is more commendable, than to tread in the Footsteps of those who have gone before us, provided they have taken the right Road. Why don't I immediately set about it then? I have pleaded, you know, many Causes, and those very considerable, and weighty ones; these Pleadings of mine, though I don't expect much from them indeed, I have Thoughts of Revising; for unless I spend some more time and Study about them, the great Pains I have been at already, will probably be lost and forgotten with their Author. For whatever we do with regard to Posterity, if 'tis not finish'd and exact, had as good never have been begun. You'll say, Why don't you do both, revise your Pleadings, and write your History too? 'Tis what I could wish; but the Work of both is so great, that 'tis abundantly enough to do either to good Purpose. I began to plead in the Forum at Nineteen and never knew before now, what a true Orator ought to be able to do, nay, I am not yet very clear in my Notion about it neither. Wou'd it not be wrong then, whilst I have one weighty Concern upon my Hands, to undertake another? Rhetoric and History, 'tis true, have many Things in common; but still there's a mighty difference in those very Things, which at first sight appear common to both. Narration is proper for one, so 'tis for the other; but after another fashion. Low, and mean, and vulgar [Page 235] Matters may be brought into History; but in Oratory nothing will do but what is far fetch'd, fine, and spruce, and lofty. History generally requires what's solid, substantial and sinewy, Bones, Muscles, and Nerves; in Oratory one looks for nothing but Finery and Ornament, soft wreaths of Fat, and flowing curl'd Locks. In History, we are most of all pleas'd with Strength and Sharpness and Vehemence; in Oratory, with a delectable Flowingness and Sweetness. In short, they are quite different as to Words, Pronunciation, Composition. For we must very carefully distinguish, whether, what we are about be for a [...], and useful and durable Treasure, or an [...] a Tryal of Skill, as Thucydides expresses it. History is the [...], Oratory the [...]. For these Reasons I am against mingling together two Things so unlike; and both of 'em, which also shews their difference, of the greatest Importance. In such a Confusion and Jumble I might go wrong, and whilst I am employ'd in one Thing, do what's proper only in the other. Therefore I desire I may have Liberty to adjourn this Matter for a while (to use an Expression peculiar to the Forum) and go to Council upon it: But however, I would have you consider, and tell me without any delay, what Times I had best write of: Ancient, and written by others? Here indeed, the Business of Searching and Examining [Page 236] is done to my Hands, but then the Comparing, and laying Matters together, is very troublesome Work. Or, suppose, untouch'd and Modern? Here you displease, and give great Offense to some, and gain but slender Thanks from others. For besides one Discouragement there is, that Mankind being so Vicious, one has more Things to blame than to Praise; when you do Praise, you'll be thought to have said too little; when you blame, too much; and though you have been never so full in your Commendations, never so sparing and careful in your finding Fault. But all this shall not hinder me, for I have a Resolution to be honest, and speak Truth, and Courage enough to support me in that Resolution. I beg of you therefore, to forward me in this Undertaking you advise me to, and to chuse for me the Subject of my History, Otherwise, when I am ready to begin, there will be another fair Pretence to demur, and put off still a little longer. [Page 237]
YOUR Letter has affected me in a different manner; the Subject of it was partly agreeable, and partly uneasie. The agreeable News in it, is, that you make a Stay in Town; you tell me you are not pleas'd at that, but I have Reasons to be so, since you assure me, that you only wait my Return, to give a publick Reading of your Works; and I thank you for the Favour of that Expectation. The uneasie part of it is, that Julius Valens is very much indispos'd; tho' even this is no Melancholy Tidings, if you reckon it by his own Advantage, for it is his Interest to be eas'd of an incurable Disease with all the Expedition possible. Another Thing is not only said, but deplorable, that Julius Avitus is dead, in his Return from his Quæstorship: He dy'd on Shipboard, far from a very Affectionate Brother, far from his Mother and Sisters. This does not touch the Deceas'd, but it made an Impression [Page 238] on him, before he dy'd; and is a Concern to those who survive him: But that a Youth of the fairest Hopes should be taken away in the Flower of his Age, who would have attain'd the first Rank, if his Virtues had been ripen'd! What an ardent Love had he for Learning? How much did he read, and write? Which is all departed with him, without Benefit to Posterity. But why do I give a loose to Sorrow? Which, if a Man would indulge, the least Matter in this Consideration, would have Power to raise. I will end these Lines, that I may put a stop to the Tears occasion'd by them.
WHEN I wou'd Rival your Verses, then it is, I find the Worth of 'em; for as a Painter seldom does Justice to a perfect Beauty, I fall short of this Original: Wherefore I more earnestly perswade you to publish more, which all may desire to imitate, few or none can come up to. [Page 239]
BE prevail'd upon at last to discharge a Promise I made, in some of my Phaleucic Verses, which engag'd several of your Pieces to our common Friends: There is a daily Call and Enquiry for them; so far, that now there is Danger of a formal Summons to them. I own, I am my self tardy in a Publication, but you have out-done my Loitering and Slowness, by a longer Delay. Therefore, either dispatch the Work, or take Care that my Satyrs do not extort from you, what my better-natur'd Poetry could not invite. Your Work is perfected; and the File at present would not polish, but weaken it. Give me the Pleasure of seeing your Name at the Head of a Book; permit me to hear, to have it copy'd; suffer me to read, to purchase the Volumes of my Friends Suetonius. It is but reasonable, in so mutual a Friendship, that I should receive the same Delight from you, as I have imparted to you.
I Receiv'd Yours, in which you inform'd me that you had inscrib'd a very beautiful Gallery with your own Name, and that of your son' and on the Day following, had made a Promise of a further Sum, for the Ornament of the Gates of Comum; that the End of your former Bounty, might commence a new Favour. I am greatly pleas'd, first, for your Honour in it, which my Alliance with you gives me a Share of; in the next Place, in observing the Memory of my Father-in-Law preserv'd in Monuments so stately; and Lastly, for the Addition that redounds to my Country by it; which I am pleas'd to find oblig'd by any Hand, but overjoy'd, by yours; I have nothing further to do on this Subject, but to implore the Gods for the Continuance of this Disposition to you, and a length of Years to exert it. For I reckon upon it as a Certainty, that when you have acquitted your last Promise, you embark in another. Generosity once rais'd, [Page 241] can make no Stop; and Practice the more exalts the Beauty of it.
DEsigning to rehearse a little Speech, which I think to publish, I call'd together some Friends, to quicken my Fear; and but few, to prevent Flattery. For I have a double Reason in this previous Communication of my Works; one, to encrease my Concern about them; the other, to admonish me if any thing should escape me, as my own. I succeeded in my Design. Some gave me Advice: I my self made some Remarks and Amendments. So that I have corrected the Book I sent you. You will know the Subject by the Title, the Book it self will explain the rest: which it is now proper for you to be so well acquainted with, as to understand without a Preface. I would know your Opinion of the Whole, and its Parts. I shall be the more inclin'd to keep it private, or bolder in bringing [Page 242] it to Light, as your Determination shall lead me on either Hand.
YOU desir'd me, and I have promis'd on your Request, to inform you of the Success of a Charge exhibited by Nepos, against Thuscillus Nominatus. He was brought into Court: He pleaded his own Cause, without the Appearance of any Person against him, For the Deputies of the Vicentins did not only forbear to press him, but favour'd and reliev'd him. The Sum of his Defence, was, That he was not wanting in Fidelity as an Advocate, but in Courage: That he came from his House with a Resolution to plead, and was also visibly present in Court; and retir'd afterwards, as aw'd by the Admonitions of his Friends; for he was advis'd, not so warmly to oppose the Will of a Senator, who did not on this Occasion dispute so much for a Fair, as contend in Favour of his own Credit, Honour, [Page 243] and Dignity; especially before the House. This was, indeed, true; but not favourably receiv'd by many. To this he added, Supplications, and abundance of Tears. And really, in the whole Pleading, practis'd as he was in the Art of Speaking, he endeavour'd to appear more with the Air of a Petitioner, than an Advocate; for this was more insinuating and more sure. He was acquitted by the Suffrage of Afranius Dexter, design'd Consul; and this was the Substance of his Absolution: “That Nominatus would indeed have acted better, had he carry'd on the Cause of the Vicentins with the same Spirit as he begun it; yet, since he did not commit this Fault with an unfair Design, and was not prov'd to have incurr'd any Crime that deserv'd a publick Censure, he ought to be discharg'd, on his restoring to the Vicentins, what he had receiv'd from them.” All agreed to this except Flavius Aper; he was of Opinion, that he should be suspended the Office of an Advocate, during the Space of five Years; and tho' his Authority drew in no Second, yet he persisted in his Judgment. Nay, he oblig'd Dexter, who was the first that gave a different Vote, on alledging the Law about holding the Senate, to swear, that what he thought, was beneficial to the Commonwealth: Several Persons oppos'd this, though a Just Proposition: For it seem'd to tax him, who gave the first Opinion, with Corruption. But before the Voices were gather'd, [Page 244] Nigrinus, a Tribune of the People, made a strong and eloquent Remonstrance; in which he complain'd, that Pleadings, and even the Prevarications of them were set to Sale; that Law-Suits were a meer Trade; and that instead of Glory and Reputation alone, great a constant Revenues arose from the Spoils of the Citizens. He produc'd the Heads of Laws, and quoted Acts of the Senate: And at the Close, made a Motion, that an Address should be made to the Emperor, to remedy such Abuses himself, since the Laws and Decrees of the Senate were trampled upon. This was done in a few Days, and the Edict of the Emperor was severe, and yet moderate. I refer you to the Reading of it in the Publick Records. What a Pleasure is it to me, that I have not only kept clear in my Pleadings, not only of clandestine Bargains, Gifts, Presents, but even the Offers of my Friends! Indeed a Man ought to avoid what is dishonest, not so much as it is unlawful, as because it is shameful; yet, it is agreeable to see a Thing publickly prohibited, which a Man has never allow'd himself to Practice. Perhaps, nay, undoubtedly, there will be less Honour and Reputation in this Proceeding of mine, when all shall do out of Necessity, what I acted in a voluntary Manner. In the mean time, I enjoy a Pleasure, when some call me Fortuneteller, and others often tel me, by way of [Page 245] Railery and Joke, that they have disappointed my Avarice and Rapine.
I Had made a Retreat to my Native Town, where I receiv'd the News, that Cornutus Tertullus had assum'd the Care of the Æmilian Way. My Joy was unexpressible, both upon his Account and my own. On his, that tho' he is perfectly free from Ambition, yet an Advancement conferr'd upon him without his Application, ought to be pleasing to him; on my own, because I am more delighted with bearing that Office, when I find the same is in the Hands of Cornutus. For it is not more agreeable to be promoted, than it is to be set on a Level with Good Men in Posts of Honour. Now, who can be possess'd of greater Goodness, of more Integrity, [Page 246] than Cornutus? Who is more exactly form'd upon the Model of the Antient Manners, in all kinds of Virtue? This I have known, not by his Fame only, (which is otherwise the best and most meritorious) but by long and sensible Experience. Our Friendship is, and has been the same to all of distinguish'd Worth in either Sex, whom our Age has produc'd; and this Partnership of Acquaintance has link'd us in the closest Union. This has been enforc'd by the Ties of publick Correspondence; he was my Collegue, as you well know, in the Direction of the Treasury, as if he had been plac'd there to answer my Wishes. He was my Fellow-Consul. Then I entirely saw the Character and Greatness of the Man; when I obey'd him as a Master, and rever'd him as a Father: A Respect to which he was entitled, not so much for his Advance in Years, as in Life. Upon this Foundation, I congratulate both him and my self, on a publick, as well as a private Reason, that at last, Men do not come to Danger as formerly, but to Honour by their Virtue. My Epistle would be endless, should I give a loose to my Joy. I am previously engag'd to take some Notice of my Business, when the News came to me. I was in Company with my Wife's Grand-father, her Aunt, my long wanted Friends; I was taking a Round about my Estate, was hearing a Variety of Complaints from my Country-People; was reading their Accounts unwillingly, and in [Page 247] a slight Manner, (for I have determined my self to another kind of Reading, to other Papers.) I began to prepare for my Journey; for the Time of my Stage is narrow; and what I hear of Cornutus's Office, reminds me of my own. It is my Wish that your Company will return you back to us about the same Time; that we may lose no Day for Conversation, when I come again to Town.
AT the writing of this, I am in the deepest Concern for our Friend Fundamus, who has lost his Second Daughter: A Young Woman, so delightful! so lovely! as made her worthy, not only of a long Life, but almost Immortality. She had not quite reach'd Fourteen, and had already the Prudence of Age, a decent Gravity, a youthful Sweetness, with a Virgin Modesty. How endearing was her [Page 248] Love to her Father! How agreeably did she entertain us his Friends! How did she esteem her Nurses, her Masters, her Instructors, according to their several Employments! With what Attention and Judgment did she read! How cautiously did she take her Diversions! With what Temper, with what Patience, and even Constancy, did she bear her last Illness! She follow'd the Prescription of her Physicians! She comforted her Sister, her Father, and as the Strength of her Body decay'd, she supported herself by the Vigour of her Mind! This held to the last, nor did it sink under the Length of her Illness, or the Apprehension of Death. This Behaviour has left us more and stronger Reasons to desire her Life, and to lament our Loss. Oh sad and untimely Fate! Oh Season of Death most afflicting! She was espoused to a deserving Youth, the Day of Marriage set, the Company invited! How is our Joy chang'd into Mourning? I cannot find Words to express the Shock it gave me, to hear Fundanus himself (for Grief is fruitful in Invention) ordering, that what was to be expended in Cloaths, Ornaments, and Jewels, should now be laid out in Myrrh, Ointments, and Perfumes. He is a Man of Learning and good Sense, as having apply'd himself to Arts and the deepest Studies from his Youth; but how is he at a Loss for the Use of his Philosophy? What he has frequently recommended, he cannot [Page 249] apply to himself. All his Vertue is swallow'd up; he is immers'd in Sorrow: You will forgive, nay, you would commend him, when you consider what he has lost. He has lost a Daughter, that was not less like him in Manners, than in Person! Why, by a wonderful Similitude, represented her whole Father. Therefore, if upon so just an Occasion, you send him any Letter of Consolation, let it not be such, as in a way of Reproof, may attempt to fortify, but soft and humane, for which, Time only can make Way. For as a fresh Wound shrinks at the Touch of the Surgeon, after suffers, and willingly receives Help; so does the Mind reject and refuse Comfort, under the first Impression of Grief, who' it afterwards wants, and submits to, the pressing Advice of Friends. [Page 250]
I Am sensible, what a Friend you are to Letters: How greatly you rejoice when Young Men of Distinction perform any Thing worthy of their Ancestors. On this Ground I am the more eager to let you know, that I have been this Day one of the Audience to Calphurnius Piso. He recited an Amorous Poem; the Subject was artful and rich. It was written in elegant Verse, flowing, tender, easy; the Diction, as the matter required, was sublime. For, with great Justness and Variety, he was sometimes elevated, and again more humble; he mix'd the Lofty with the Simple, lesser Beauties with the fuller, the Gay with the Serious, and all with equal Spirit. He recommended these Charms with the sweetest Voice, and that with his Modesty: There was a Blush and a Concern in his Countenance, which are the principal Graces of a Rehearsal. For, I do not know how it is; but Fear is more becoming to a Man of Letters, than Confidence: To speak no more, (tho' I might [Page 251] be inclin'd to do it, since it is the more graceful in a Youth, and more rare in a Youth of Quality) at the End of his Reading, after a repeated Embrace of him, as the liveliest Mark of Admonition, I exhorted him by my Applauses, to continue as he begun; and hold out that Light to Posterity, which his Ancestors had reach'd forth to himself. I congratulated his excellent Mother, and his Brother; who did as much Honour by his Fraternal Kindness on this Occasion, as the other gain'd by his Eloquence. He express'd his Fear at first, and then his Joy, for his Brother reciting in so conspicuous a manner.
Heaven grant me a frequent Supply of such News to entertain you! For I have a tender Anxiety for the Age, that it be not barren or unfruitful; and am wonderfully desirous, that our Men of Condition should have something else distinguishing in their Houses, besides their Images. Which now seem to me tacitly to praise, to excite, and (which alone is sufficient to the Glory of both of them) to acknowledge these well-deserving Young Gentlemen.
I Am well, because you are so. You have the Conversation of your Lady and your Son with you. You enjoy the Sea and grassy Fountains, the Country, the most delightful Seat in it. For such it must be, since it was the Retreat of Nerva, who was happier there, than when he was most Fortunate after. I follow my Sports and my Studies in my Tuscan Villa; I pursue them now by Turns; and now together; and yet, I cannot, to this very Hour, affirm, whether to take my Game or to Write, be the more difficult Task of the Two.
And that Expression of our Tongue, the Father of a Family. Were I by Nature more harsh and rugged, the Infirmity of my Freedman Zosimus, would soften me. He has now a Right to the greater Humanity, as he is the more in want of it. He is honest, careful of his Duty, a Man of Letters, and indeed, his Profess'd Art, and as it were, his Title, is that of a Comedian, in which he excels. For he pronounces, with Vigour, Judgment, Propriety, and Grace; and touches the Harp more skilfully than belongs to a Comedian. He likewise reads an Oration, a History, a Poem, so compleatly, that you would think, he had [Page 254] apply'd himself to nothing else. I have been particular on this Head, to acquaint you how many and agreeably Services this single Man has done me. Add to this my old Respect for him, which Danger it self has heightened. For it is so order'd by Nature, that nothing inflames and raises Love to that Degree, as the Fear of losing the Object of it, a Passion which I often feel for Zosimus. For some Years ago, while he was pronouncing with Force and Vehemence, he made a Discharge of Blood from his Mouth; and when I had sent him into Ægypt on this Account, and he was recover'd after a long Travel, he lately return'd. And after this, on straining his Voice too far, for many Days successively, a slight Cough threatened him with a Relapse, and soon after, the same Emission of Blood was renew'd. For this Reason I have determined to send him to your Farm-house at Friuli; for I have frequently heard you speaking, that the Air of that Place is very wholsome, and the Milk it produces is extremely proper in Cures of this Nature. I would desire you therefore to send Word to your People there, that he may have a free Command of the House and Conveniencies about it; and be supply'd for all Expences that Occasion may require; as his Necessities will be very moderate: For he is so temperate and sober, that he does not only decline the Comforts, but the Necessities due to an ill State of Health, by his Frugality. I [Page 255] will furnish him in order to his Journey, with as much as is sufficient to a moderate Man, and one that is repairing to your House.
SOON after the Bithynians had laid their Accusation against Julius Bassus, they form'd another against Rufus Varenus, the Proconsul; the same Varenus whom they had lately demanded and accepted as their Advocate, in Opposition to Bassus. When they came into the House, they mov'd for an Enquiry; then Varenus petition'd, that he might Summon up the proper Evidence for his Defence: On a Refusal of the Bithynians, he was oblig'd to enter his Plea. I defended Varenus, not without Success; but whether deservedly or not, the Work it self will inform you; for a Cause is influenc'd by Fortune on either Side: The Memory, the Gesture, the Pronunciation, the Juncture it self, in short, [Page 256] the Love or Hatred of the Person accus'd, either give or take away a great Share of Commendation. But a Plea in the Reading is not attended with those Disgusts, or that Favour; it is free from those lucky or unfortunate Chances. I was answer'd by Fontejus Magius, one of the Bithynians, with a Plenty of Words, but a Penury of Sense. It is the Practice of most of the Greeks, to use a volubility for a copiousness of Speech; they whirl their Periods so long and so stiff, with one Breath, like a Torrent. Therefore Julius Candidus is us'd to say agreeably enough, That Eloquence is one thing, and Speaking another. For Eloquence is scarcely the Lot of one or two Men; nay, if we may believe Marc Antony, of none: But that which Candidus calls easiness of Speaking, is the Talent of many, and chiefly of the most assur'd. The next Day, Homulus spoke for Varenus, with Address, Force, and Correctness: He was oppos'd by Nigrinus closely, weightily, and floridly. Acilius Rufus, design'd Consul, thought an Information was to be allow'd to the Bythynians, but pass'd over the Demand of Varenus in Silence. This was a Method of giving a Negative upon it. Cornelius Priscus a Consular Man, would have the Proposition of both Parties equally satisfy'd; and he out number'd the rest. We carry'd our Point, that had neither fallen under any Law, nor was very usual, and yet reasonable. Why it is so, my Letter [Page 257] shall not explain; that you may be more impatient to expect the Pleading it self. For if what Homer affirms be true,
I Went down to the Julian Court, to hear those Advocates, whom I was oblig'd by the last Adjournment to answer. The Judges had taken their Seats; the Centumviri were enter'd; the Advocates were plac'd in View; there was a long Silence, and at last, a Messenger from the Prætor. The Centumviri are dismiss'd; the day is discharg'd of Law Affairs, to my great Satisfaction, who am never so [Page 258] readily prepar'd, as not to be pleas'd with a Delay. The Cause of this Discharge was Nepos the Prætor, who proceeds severely by the Laws in the Cognizance of Causes. He put out a short Edict, and reminded both the Plantiff and Defendant, that he would execute the Act of Senate. This Decree of the House was subjoin'd to the Edict.
AS long as I was on t'other side the Po, and you at Picenum, I bore your Absence much better, than now I am in the City and you still there: Whether the very Places we used to meet in, do remind me of you, or nothing so [Page 262] much what's the Desire of Friends absent, as Vicinity, and the nearer you come to the hope of Fruition, you are the more impatient of Disappointment. Whatever be the Reason, ease me of this Pain, come to Town, or I shall return thither from whence I so lately came, (if for no other Reason) that I may try when you are at Rome without me, whither your Letters will discover the same Uneasiness.
IT is my Way sometimes to look for Marcus Regulus in the Courts, for I will not say that I want him. Why then do I look for him? He had a Value for Learning; he knew how to fear and grow Pale; he compos'd, tho' he could not put off the Custom of touching over with a little Oil, and putting a white Fillet on his Right Eye, when he was for the Plantiff, and on his Left for the Defendant; of always consulting the Sooth-Sayers about the Event of his Cause, with a superstitious Mind; and yet, this was occasion'd by his [Page 263] great Opinion of Eloquence. But one thing was very agreeable, to those who pleaded with him; his demanding the Liberty of his own Time, and assembling a great Crowd of Auditors. For what could be more pleasant, than to speak at your Convenience and Will, and in the Audience of another; as if you was taken unawares in it? But however this be, Regulus has done well in departing this Life, and had done better, had it been sooner. For at present he might have liv'd without Harm to the Publick, under a Prince, that would have made it impracticable for him to be Injurious. And therefore, it is but just sometimes to remember him, For since his Death, the Custom has generally obtain'd of allowing and requiring no more than one or two Hours for Pleading, and sometimes but half an Hour. For the Pleaders are more inclin'd to finish the Cause, than pursue it; and they on the Bench had rather determine than debate upon it. Negligence, Supineness, Contempt of Study, and Unconcern for the Dangers of the Parties at Law, are so prevailing. But we are more just than the very Laws, which permit so many Hours, Days, and Adjournments beyond the Morrow? They, alas! were dull and stupid to a Prodigy. We speak more clearly, apprehend more readily, judge more exactly, who dispatch our Causes in fewer Hours, than formerly were determin'd in so [Page 264] many Days. Happy Regulus! who obtain'd an Advantage from all, by your courtship to the Judges, which very few give to the honest Discharge of their Office. As for my part, as often as i am a Judge, which happens more frequently than I am an Advocate, I freely indulge any Man all the Time he demands. For I think it a rash Attempt to guess how prolix a Cause is, while yet unheard; especially, since Patience is the first Duty, which a Judge owes to his Office, and Patience is a great Part of Justice. But some Passages are reckon'd to be superfluous. Right; yet still it is better for those to be express'd, than such as are needful to be conceal'd. Besides, you cannot tell they are unnecessary, 'till you have heard them. But this Subject will be more proper, when we meet; as well as the other Vices of the Town. For you, like my self, are desirous, from a Publick Spirit, to see those Customs reform;d, which are hard to be abolish'd. Now let us look back to our own Families. Is all right in yours? Mine affords nothing new to entertain you. And as to my self, the Advantages I enjoy are the more grateful, because they continue, and the Inconveniencies I suffer are lighter, because I am accustom'd to them.
I Return you Thanks for cultivating the Ground I gave to my Nurse: At that Time it was worth 100000 Sesterces; afterwards, on a Sinking of the Rent, the Purchase fell, but on you Care, it will be retrieved. Only remember, that I do not only recommend to you the Trees and the Ground, (tho' I consider them too) but my small Present; which it is equally her Interest, who receiv'd it, as mine, who gave it to her, that it should be made the most serviceable.
I Never thought Business such an Incumbrance, as when it prevented my going with you to Campania for the Recovery of your Health, or when it hinder'd my following you soon after: for now I wish to be with you, to see how you gain'd Ground of your Distemper, and, how by your Amendment, you would credit the Pleasures and Plenty of that Country. Were you ever so well, I could not be easy without you: It is a Pain to be at all ignorant of the Welfare of the Person one dearly loves; but now I'm haunted with perplexing Thoughts and melancholy Apprehensions in your Absence, upon the Account of your Illness. I am in continual Fear, am always thinking; and, as is the Nature of Fear, suggest to my self what I most dread. Wherefore, I beg you'll consult my East, and let me have one or more Letters every Day. I shall at least have some Intermission of Pain while I am reading them, tho' my Fears will admit of no Cure but yours. [Page 267]
I Sent you Word, that Varenus insisted on a Right of calling his Witnesses: This was esteem'd by some to be just, by others unequitable, and indeed, obstinate; especially by Licinius Nepos, who in the following Assembly of the Senate, when they proceeded upon other Affairs, made a Speech upon the last Decree, and reviv'd the Cause that was then concluded. He added, that a Petition ought to be made to the Consuls, to move the Senate, that eh Law of solliciting for Places, should be a Precedent for that of Bribery or embezzeling the Publick Treasure; and that in both Cases, the accus'd should be allow'd to produce their Witnesses. Some were displeas'd with this Motion, as late, mis-tim'd, and preposterous; as one, that having pass'd over the proper Time of opposing the Decree, would rectify a thing done, which might have been obviated. Jubentius Celsus, the Prætor, check'd him as a Reformer of the Senate, [Page 268] in a long and vigorous Speech upon the Subject. Nepos answer'd, Celsus reply'd; neither of them could forbear insulting Language. I will not repeat what I could not hear without Disturbance. This gave me a Dislike to the Conduct of some of the Senate, who pass'd sometimes to the Side of Celsus, then to that of Nepos, as either of them harangu'd: and either provok'd and animated, or appeas'd and reconcil'd them: Often wish'd for the Protection of Trajan, for one or for both, as if they had been at a Prize-fight of Gladiators. But what I thought the most disagreeable, was, that each of them was inform'd of what the other had prepar'd to speak. For Celsus answer'd Nepos from a Paper, and Nepos rejoin'd to Celsus out of his Table-book. The indiscreet Loudness of their Friends was so great, that the two Antagonists knew the very Words of the Quarrel on either Side, as if they had met to communicate them.
IF at any Time, now especially, I wish you were at Rome, and must desire you to come; I want you to second my Desires, my Endeavour to serve Julius Naso, who is a Candidate: He has many and great Competitors, against whom, as it would be honourable, so it will be difficult to succeed. I am therefore doubtful; I entertain Hope, and yet am not without Fear; I can hardly think I have pass'd the Consulship, and seem myself again a Candidate for all the Offices I have gone thro'. He deserves this Care for the long Esteem he has had for me, I cannot say I was acquainted with his Father, my Age would not permit it, but he has been pointed out to me in my Youth, as a Man of great Worth. He was not only a Lover of Learning, but a Patron of it, and came almost daily to Quintilian and Nicetes, whom I frequented, A man so considerable, that his Memory can't but be useful to his Son. There are many in the Senate, who did not know [Page 270] him, many to whom he was known, who shew their Respect only to the Living. Wherefore, not relying on his Father's Reputation which may do him Credit, but little Service: We must insist on his own Merit, which truly, as if he had foreseen this Time, he always provided for: He has contracted many Friendships, and those he made he ever cultivated: Me truly, as soon as his Age qualify'd him to distinguish, he propos'd to his Imitation. He stands by me with Attention; if I plead, he stays to hear me repeat: He is the first, and that particularly interests himself in my Works at their first Appearance, now singly, formerly with his Brother, whose late Death obliges me to supply his Place. For I lament his untimely Fate, and condole with Naso for losing the Assistance of the best of Brothers, and being left only to that of his Friends. For these Reasons, I beg you will come and strengthen my Interest with yours, for it is of great Consequence, that you appear and go about with me. Such is your Autho rity, that I shall ask my Friends with a better Grace in your Company: Break thro' all Impediments. This is the Time, your Friendship, my Honour, calls for: I have undertaken for Naso and it is publick: It is I make an Interest; I risque my Credit: In short, if Naso obtains his Suit, the Honour is his; if he miscarries, the Repulse is mine. [Page 271]
YOU tell me, That you are very much afflicted at my Absence, and that you have no Satisfaction in any thing but my Writings, which you often lay by you upon my Pillow. You oblige me very much in wishing to see me, and making me your comforter in my Absence. In return, I must let you know, I am no less pleas'd with the Letters which you write to me, and read them over a Thousand Times with new Pleasure. If your Letters are capable of giving me so much new Pleasure, what wou'd your Conversation do? Let me beg of you to write to me often; tho' at the same Time I must confess your Letters give me anguish while they give me Pleasure. [Page 272]
YOU both know and love Attilius Crescens; for is there any Person of Consideration, that does not? I have a Value for him, not of the ordinary kind, but of the nearest Bond imaginable. Our Towns are distant no more than a Days Riding from one another. Our Friendship commenc'd from early Youth, and such a Respect is the strongest; it has still subsisted, and was not chill'd by a riper Judgment, but improv'd. They are sensible of this, who are more closely acquainted with either of us. For he values himself in all Places upon my Regard for him, and I take all Occasions to shew my Concern for his Honour, Repose, and Safety: So far, that when he apprehended the Insolence of one, who was entering on the Post of Tribune of the People, and express'd it to me, I answer'd him in the Words of Homer, [Page 273]
To what Purpose is all this, you'll say? To inform you, that Attilius, while I live, cannot to my Power be injur'd. You will repeat the Question, perhaps. What does this tend to? Valerius Varus was indebted to him in a Sum of Money; our Friend Maximus is his Heir, one, whom I much value, but you more intimately. Therefore I desire you, I conjure you by our Friendship, to contrive, that not only the Principal, but the Interest of several Years, be secure to Attilius. He is a Man, far from envying the Good Fortune of another; he is careful of his own, is subsisted by no gainful Employ, and has no Income but his good Husbandry. For the Studies in which he greatly excels, he pursues only for his Pleasure and his Reputation. The slightest Loss will fall the more heavily upon him, because it will be more difficult for him to repair it. Release both of us from this Inconvenience. Do not hinder me from enjoying his good Humour and agreeable Conversation; for I cannot see him melancho'y, whose Gaiety will not suffer me to be chagrin. In short, you know the airy Temper of the Man; take Care, I implore you, that an Injury does not change it to Gall and Bitterness. By the Vigour of his Friendship, compute the Force of [Page 274] his Resentment, when offended. A great and free Spirit will not take an Injustice, attended with an Insult: But tho' he should put it up, I should resent it as my private Loss, and a Personal Affront to me; but I should be fir'd with me, not entirely, as if it were my own; that is, more highly. Tho' why do I treat with Menaces and denouncing a Quarrel? I rather beg of you, as at first, to use your Endeavour, that he may not think himself (which is my greatest Fear) neglected by me, or I look on my self as disregarded on your Side: and you will certainly effect this, if your Concern about the Letter be equal to mine, upon the former Article.
YOU recommend Julius Naso to me as a Candidate. Naso to me! What, one to my self? But I excuse it, for had I been absent and you at Rome, he had had my Recommendation to you: Sollicitude never thinks any Care too much; however, I know you [Page 275] will use your Interest, I will take Part in, assist, and promote your Desire.
MAking a Visit to my Wife's Mother at Alsium, the House formerly of Virginius Rufus; the Place gave me a melancholy Reflection on the Death of that great Man. He was us'd to retire hither, and call it the Retreat of his Age: Which way soever I mov'd, something represented him to me. I went to see his Monument, and beheld it with Surprize; for it is yet unfinish'd; and that, not thro the Difficulty of the Work, or the necessary Expences, but the very Indolence of him, to whose Care it was committed. It rais'd in me an Indignation as well as a Concern; that after ten Years, his Reliques, his neglected Dust, should lie undistinguish'd, whole Memory shall travel o'er the whole World with Honour. Himself had particularly directed his immortal Action to be inscrib'd in these Verses. [Page 276]
So uncertain is the Care of Friends, so common a neglect of the Dead, that it will become necessary to build Tombs, and anticipate the Duty of our Heirs, for who may not expect what they see happen to Virginius? The Injury done to whose Memory, is highly aggravated by the Distinction of the Person.
O Joyful Day! The Præfect of the City having taken me in for one of his Assessors, I heard two young Men of extraordinary Hopes and Talents, pleading one against the other, Fuscus Salinator, and Numidius Quadratus; a shining Pair, that will do Honour, not only to our Age, but to Learn [Page 277] ing it self. Both are of wonderful Probity, a judicious Firmness, a graceful Mien; their Language is pure, their Voice manly, their Memory tenacious, their Wit extensive, their Discernment equal to it: All this was a Pleasure to me; and this, chiefly among the rest, that they look'd upon me as their Director, as their Master; and appear'd to the Audience, as copying after me, and treading in my Steps. Oh happy Day! for I cannot help repeating it; which I shall ever mark with the fairest White; For what can be more agreeable in a publick Sense, than to find young Men of a distinguishing Character, aspire to a Name and a brighter Reputation by their Studies? Or, what can be more grateful to me, than to be propos'd my self as a Pattern by such as take a right Pursuit! Heaven grant this Joy be lasting to me; and I appeal to you, that I invoke the same Powers, to give all, who shall value me so as to imitate me, the Preeminence above me. [Page 278]
YOU ought not to be shy in recommending those to me, whom you think worthy of Protection. For it fits well upon you, to be useful to Numbers, and upon me, to acquit all your Obligations. I shall therefore do all the Service I am capable of, to Vectius Priscus, especially in my own Sphere, that it, at the Court of the Centumvirate. You command me to forge the Letters you wrote to me, as you express your self, with an open Heart; but I shall remember none with greater Satisfaction. They give me a strong Sense of your Respect for me, in using me like your Son: And I own, they were the more pleasing, since I had a good Cause to manage, that I exactly answer'd the Orders you laid upon me. I earnestly desire you to remind me with the same Freedom, whenever I shall appear to be tardy (for I shall never be really so: ) This I shall take as a Mark [Page 279] of the highest Esteem, and you will in your turn, be pleas'd to find your Admonitions unnecessary.
HAVE you ever seen a Man so persecuted as my Friend Varenus? Who was forc'd to defend, and, in a manner, re-demand what he had carry'd before, with the utmost Struggle. The Bithynians had the boldness to complain of the Act of the Senate before the consuls, and speak disrespectfully of the absent Emperor; ney, when referr'd again to the Senate, they still persisted. Claudius Capito pleaded with more Assurance than true Steadiness, and accus'd the Decree to the very Face of the House. Fronto Catius reply'd with more Weight and Strength; the Senate it self concluded the Matter admirably well. For even they, who at first rejected the Petition of Varenus, allow'd it ought to be granted to him, after it had, in Fact, been [Page 280] granted. For each had a Right to differ, while the Affair was undecided; but when it was adjusted, the wold Body were bound to defend a vote of the Majority. Only Acilius Rufus, and with him, Seven were they, or Eight others? I think, Seven adher'd to the former Opinion. There were some in this small Number, whose occasional, or rather counterfeit Gravity, was ridicul'd. Yet, do you reckon, what a Combat and Engagement we are to go thro', if the Skirmish has cost us so great a Struggle.
YOU press me to come to your House at Formium; I will wait upon you there, upon this Condition, that you put your self to no Inconvenience, on my Account; a Condition, which I lay down as reciprocal. For it is not your Seas and your Shores, but your self, Ease, and Liberty that I court. Otherwise, it would be better to stay in Town. For a Man must do all by his own [Page 281] Humour, or another's; now my Stomach is of that Nature, as to digest what is entirely one or the other, without a Medium.
Passienus Paulus, a Roman Knight, of great Distinction and Learning, writes Elegy: This he has from his Family. For he is a Countryman of Propertius, and reckons him among his Ancestors. When he began to read in Publick a Work that began thus,
To this, Jabolenus Priscus, who was there as an intimate Friend to Paulus readily answer'd, No, I command nothing. Imagine what a burst of Laughing, what Mirth follow'd upon it. Indeed, Priscus has a very questionable Understanding: Yet, he is in publick Offices, he is consulted, he is employ'd sometimes as [Page 282] a Judge. So that what he did then, was the more ridiculous and remarkable. In the mean Time, the Extravagance of another brought some Coldness upon Paulus. So careful ought a forward Rehearsal to be, of inviting an Auditor of good Sense, as well as of his own.
YOU desire an Account of the Death of my Uncle; that you may transmit it down more truly to Posterity. I am oblig'd to you for the Favour: For I am sensible, that immortal Glory will be the Crown of his Death, if it be describ'd by your Pen. For tho' he dy'd a Fate a-kin to that of many a beautiful Country; by a memorable Fall, as whole Nations and Cities have been destroy'd, (a Presage of Eternity to his Memory) tho' he compos'd a Variety of Works, that will long survive him; yet the Perpetuity of your Writings will be a great Addition to his own. Indeed, [Page 283] I look upon those to be happy, that, by the Blessing of Heaven, either perform such Actions, as deserve to be recorded, or write such as merit a Reading; but those I esteem to be compleatly bless'd, that are favour'd with this double Advantage. My Uncle will stand in this List, both in your books and his own: This engages me the more readily to obey you, and demand of you in Return, what you enjoin me.
He was a Misenum, where he commanded a Squadron of the Fleet in Person on the Ninth of the Calends of September, (i. e. August the twenty 2d.) about one of the Clock in the Afternoon, my Mother inform'd him, that a Cloud appear'd of an unusual Size and Shape. After he had repos'd sometime, according to his Practice, in the Sun, and taken a Draught of cool Water, he lay on a Couch and read; then he puts on his Shoes, and mounts an Eminence, to take the best Observation of this Prodigy: A Cloud arose (it was uncertain, at a Distance, from what Mountain, tho' it appear'd after to be a Vesuvius) in Likeness and Form resembling a Pine-Tree; for it was elevated to a good Height, with a long Trunk, and distributed in several Branches. The Reason, I suppose, was, that it was rais'd aloft by a sudden Wind, and then relinquish'd by it, as it decay'd, or else overpower'd by its own Weight, it spread it self into a large Breadth; appearing sometimes [Page 284] white, sometimes Shadowy, and variously colour'd, as it was loaded with Ashes or with Earth. It struck him with Surprize, and seem'd to merit a nearer Examination. He orders a light Frigate to be fitted out, and gives me leave, if I thought proper, to go along with him. I answer'd him, that I was rather inclin'd to Study, and by a great Hazard, he had deliver'd something to me, in order to be transcrib'd. He parted from his House, and took his Table-Book with him. The Sea-Officers at Retina, alarm'd at the impending Danger (for that Village was exactly below Misenum, nor was there any way to escape but by Sea,) importun'd him to prevent so terrible a Disaster. He would not alter his Resolution, but pursu'd with the utmost Courage, what he had enter'd upon with an eager Curiosity. He draws out the Gallies, and goes on Board himself, with a Design to give Succour not only to Retina, but to many other Places; for the Coast was delightful, and throng'd with Villages. He proceeds with Expedition thither, from whence all the World were retiring, and makes a direct Course to the Point of Danger: So fearless, that he view'd, remark'd, and noted down all the Motions and Figures of the Prodigy. Now the Ashes fell among the Gallics warmer and thicker, the nearer they approach'd; then Pumice-Stones and others, burnt to a Coal, and broken with the Fire. Soon the Passage appear'd to be too [Page 285] rapid, and the Shore inaccessible, by the Ruins of the Mountain; and after he had consider'd a-while, whether he should retreat, he immediately said to the Pilot, that advis'd him to it, “Fortune assists the Daring; tack about towards Pomponianus.” He was at Stabiæ, separated by a little Bay from him; (for the Sea insensibly steals upon the Shores, that are winding there and crooked.) In this Quarter, tho' as yet the danger was at a distance, yet, as it was full in view, and when it rose to a height, very near him; he had put all his Baggage into the Vessels, and resolv'd to go off, if the Wind had once turn'd contrary. My Uncle, carry'd hither by a favourable Gale, embrac'd him, trembling as he was, buoy'd him up, and encourag'd him: And to ease his Fears by his own Confidence, he gives Orders to be convey'd to the Bath; after Bathing, he sits down to Supper chearfully, or, what is equal, with all the Appearance of his ordinary Gaiety. In the meantime, large and high Eruptions of Fire glar'd from Mount Vesuvius in several Places, the Brightness of which was heightened by the Gloom of the Night. My Uncle, to remedy their Fears, often told them, that what they saw in the Flames, was only the Villages abandon'd by the Peasants, and destroy'd for want of Hands to assist them, then he compos'd himself to Rest, and slept very soundly. For as he was large-siz'd, his Snoring was pretty audible, and heard as [Page 286] far as the Anti-Chamber. But the Court that led to his Apartment, was, now so choak'd up with Ashes and Pumice-Stones, that, had he stay'd longer in his Room, the Passage out of it would have been entirely obstructed. As soon as he was awaken'd, he goes out and joins Pomponianus, and the rest that sat up all Night: They debated all together, whether they should stay in the House, or walk in the open Field: For the Buildings were shock'd by violent and repeated Earthquakes, and seem'd to rock on one Side and the other, as if they had been mov'd from their Foundations. Abroad, the Fall of the Pumice Stones, tho' light and eaten thro', alarm'd them. A Comparison of the two Dangers, fix'd their Choice on the Field; as to the rest, one Fear surmounted the other; but with him, the stronger Reason took Place of the weaker: And to Guard against the fall of the Stones, they ty'd each of them a Pillow about their Heads with Handkerchiefs or Napkins. It was now Day in other Places, but there it was still Night, more black and dismal than ever was known; but it was something dissipated by a multitude of Lights and Flambeaux. They thought it proper to advance to the Shore, and examine more nearly, as far as the Sea allow'd them, which still ran high, and was ruffled with a contrary Wind. There my Uncle lying down upon a Sheet that was spread under him , ask'd once or twice for Water, and [Page 287] took a Draught of it; soon after, the Flames, and a stench of Sulphur, a fore runner of the Flames, dispers'd all the Company; and rous'd him. He got up supported by two Servants, and at that Moment, fell and expir'd. The Cause of it, as I guess, was, that his Breath was obstructed by the gross smoaky Air, and the Passages of his Stomach, naturally weak and narrow, and often Feaverish, were shut up by Suffocation. On the Return of Light, which was three Days after, the Body was found entire, unhurt, and cover'd with the Dress in which he dy'd. The State of his Body had the Appearance of Sleep more than of Mortality. In the mean Time, I and my Mother were at Misenum. But this is nothing to the History, and you desir'd no Information, but upon his Death. Therefore I will conclude on that Head, only will add one Thing, that I have given a just detail of every Particular I saw or heard at that Time, when the Truth of a Relation is the most unexceptionable. Do you single out the most important: For it is one Thing to write a Letter to a Friend, and another to describe a History for all the World.
I Cannot help expressing to you by Letter, a little Resentment I took in the Auditory of a Friend; since I cannot at present enjoy your Conversation. An excellent Work was reading; two or three Persons, very witty, as themselves and a few others imagin'd, heard it in the Posture of Men that were deaf and Dumb. They did not open their Lips, nor move their Hands, nor rise up, tho' meerly by the Fatigue of Sitting. What an Air of Gravity and profound Wisdom was here? Or rather, What Supineness, Arrogance, Absurdity; or, more properly still, extravagant Folly, to spend a whole Day by way of Affront, and to leave him an Enemy, whom you came to compliment as a particular Friend? Are you Master of more Eloquence than he? You ought so much the less to envy him; for an envious Man is always an Inferior. In short, whether you perform better or worse, or equally, still applaud another, whether a [Page 289] Superior, and Inferior, or an Equal: Your Superior, because if he does not merit Applause, you will your self be disintitled to it: Your Inferior, or Equal, because it very much concerns your own Reputation, to give a Lustre to one that you match or surpass. Truly I respect and admire all that perform any thing in Letters; for the Point is attended with Difficulty, and shocks of Discouragement, and the Contempt that falls on it, recoils to your self. Perhaps you may think differently; tho' I do not know a Man that does more Honour to the Works of another, or is a better natur'd Critick. For this Reason, I pitch'd upon you as the Confident of my Anger, because I know you will share it with me.
YOU make a Request to me, to appear in the Publick Cause of the Firmians: This I'll endeavour, tho' I am taken up with [Page 289] a Crowd of Affairs. For I shall be glad to oblige so considerable a Body of Men by my Defence, and you, by discharging a Part I know is agreeable to you. Since you often repeat it with some Price, that you take my Acquaintance to be a Favour and an Honour to you, I ought to refuse you nothing, especially when you ask in Behalf of your country. For what can deserve more Regard, than that honest Wishes of a good Citizen, or be more prevailing, than the Application of a Friend. On this score, give my Word to your Neighbours of Firmium, or now, more strictly, mine, since it is not only their Figure that entitles them to my Attention, but the Birth and Education of so great a Man amongst them.
DO you know that the Price of Lands is risen, especially near this City? The Cause of this surprising Rise, which is the [Page 291] Subject of much Discourse, did, at the last Meeting of the Senate, occasion several most excellent Speeches, importing, That the Candidates at Elections should neither Treat, nor make Presents, nor lay out any Money. The two first of these Abuses were not less excessively than openly practis'd; and the third, nowithstanding the Care us'd to conceal it, was a Thing taken for granted. Now our Friend Homulus, having diligently improv'd this unanimous Agreement of the Senate, mov'd for a Resolution that the Consuls should be order'd to acquaint the Prince with the Desires of them all, and to pray him, that according to his usual Vigilance, he would correct this, as he had other Disorders. The Emperor assented; for he put a stop to those base and infamous Expences of the Candidates, by a Law against Canvassing, and oblig'd them to qualify themselves by laying out on Land, a third Part of their Estates; esteeming it a very shameful Thing, (as indeed it was) that such as are desirous of this Honour, should live in Rome and Italy, not as in their Country, but as in a Lodging, or like Travellers in an Inn. The Candidates hereupon, out-bid one another every where, and buy up whatever they are inform'd is to be sold; insomuch, that many now part with their Lands who did not think of doing it before. If you are weary therefore of your Farms in Italy, this is certainly your Time of putting them off to Advantage, [Page 292] as well as of buying in the Provinces; while the Candidates are selling there to purchase here.
YOU tell me your Curiosity is rais'd by the Letter I sent to you, on your Desire, about the Fate of my Uncle, to know the Apprehensions and the Circumstances I was in while I was left at Misenum; for I had enter'd upon that Part of the Story, but broke off from it.
After my Uncle had taken his leave, I employ'd the Remainder of my Time in Study; for I stay'd behind for that Purpose: Then I bath'd, supp'd, and repos'd, but unquietly and [Page 293] shortly. We had been for many Days before sensible of an Earthquake, but it was less terrible, since not only the Castles, but the Towns of Campania, were frequently subject to it. However, it redoubled that Night with so much violence, that every Thing was not only shock'd, but seem'd to be overturn'd by it. My Mother came hastily into my Chamber; I rose up, with a design to awaken her, had she slumber'd. We took a Seat in the Court, that separates the Buildings from the Sea, by a very narrow interval: I am in some Doubt, whether I ought to stile it Courage, or Imprudence, for I was then no more than Eighteen. I call'd for Livy, and read at my Ease, and took Notes out of it, as I had begun. A Friend of my Uncle's, who had lately arriv'd from Spain, on a Visit to him, came to us: When he perceiv'd us both sitting, and me reading, he reproach'd her Indolence, and my Confidence; yet I still kept my Eyes fix'd on my Book. It was now Seven in the Morning, and the Day as yet was breaking, and hardly more than Twilight: The Houses around us were shaken, so that the Dread of a Fall of them was great and certain; the Place being small, tho' open. Then we thought to quit the Village. The People follow'd in a Panic; the general Fear had something in it like Prudence; for every Man preferr'd another's Contrivance to his own, and press'd forward the Crowd that was retiring. When we [Page 294] had got clear of the Town, we made a Stop, and here met with new Prodigies, new Terrors. For the Carriages which we order'd out, were toss'd to and fro, even upon the level Ground, and would not stay in a Place, tho' supported with large Stones. Besides, the Sea appear'd in a kind of Eddy, and was driven back upon it self by the Earthquake. The Shore was enlarg'd, and a Number of Fishes were left upon the Beach. On the other Side, a gloomy and dreadful Cloud, rent by the unequal vibrating. Motions of a fiery Meteor, open'd in Flames of a various Length; they did not much differ from Lightening, but were larger. Then our Spanish Friend spoke to us with greater Force and Eagerness; “Had your Brother, and your Uncle been alive, he would have been sollicitous for your Safety; tho' Dead, he must have been desirous, that you should survive him: Therefore, why do not you try to escape?” We answer'd, That we would not give him Occasion to think, we would entirely consult our own Safety, while we were uncertain of my Uncles Welfare. He paus'd no longer upon it, but fled from the Danger with all the Precipitancy imaginable. Soon after, that Cloud descended to the Earth, cover'd the Sea, surrounded and hid Capreæ from our Eyes, and intercepted the Promontory of Misenum from us. Then my Mother conjur'd, press'd and commanded me, by any means whatever, to save my self: [Page 295] That it was easy at my Years; but encumber'd as she was, with Age, and heavy with Infirmities, she would be content to die, if she should not be the Cause of my Death. I reply'd, that I would not accept of Security but with her. Then I seiz'd her Hand, and forc'd her to go along with me; she complies unwillingly, and often blames herself for retarding me. The Ashes began to fall upon us, but in a small Quantity: I look'd back, a gross Mist follow'd us, and spread it self on the Earth like a Deluge. On the Sight of it, I said to my Mother, Let us turn out of the Way while we are in View of it, least we fall in the Road, and be trodden to death by the Crowd in the Dark. We had scarcely quitted the Way, when a perfect Night hung over us, not like one that is overcast, without a Moon, but a Room, where all the Lights are extinguish'd. You might hear the Shrieks of Women, the Cries of Children, the Noise of Men: Some call'd aloud for their Parents, some for their Husbands, and knew them only by their Voices; some bewail'd their own Share in the Calamity; and others that of their Neighbours; some wish'd for Death from the Fear of Dying; many lifted up their Hands to Heaven; a Multitude disbeliev'd all the Gods, and look'd upon the Time to be the last eternal Night, that has been prophecy'd. Some improv'd the real Dangers by feign'd and imaginary Fears; others gave it [Page 296] out, that this House at Misenum was fallen, that was burnt; both falsly, but they met with Believers. A Glimpse of Light appear'd, that did not show us the Return of Day, but the Approach of the Fire that threatned us: The Fire indeed, stood at a Distance; then the Darkness reviv'd, and after that, a plentiful Shower of Ashes and Cinders: We rose up now and then and shook them off, otherwise we shou'd have been cover'd and oppress'd with the Weight of them. I could boast, that neither a Sigh, nor a complaining Expression drop'd from me in the midst of these Alarms; but I was supported by this Consolation, not very Reasonable indeed, but natural enough, to think that all the World perish'd with me. At last, this pitchy Vapour was dissipated by Degrees, and was lost like Smoke, or a Cloud; presently the Day appear'd in Reality, and the Sun shone out, but with a lowering and a dull Complexion, as if it was Eclips'd. Our trembling Eyes meet with every thing chang'd, and hid beneath a Depth of Ashes like a Snow. On our Return to Misenum, after having taken a moderate Care of our selves, we pass'd the Night, divided between Hope and Fear; but the latter had the Advantage; for the Earthquake continu'd, and most of the People distracted with Terror, entertain'd their own Apprehensions, and those of others, with frightful Presages. Yet I could not even then resolve to depart, tho' I had experienc'd the Danger, [Page 297] and expected more, 'till I receiv'd some News of my Uncle. You may amuse your self with reading this short Narrative, tho' as unworthy of a Place in History, you will not commit to writing; and you must lay the Imputation on your self for asking it, if you do not think it deserves a Letter.
I Am in the Number of those, who admire the Antients; yet I do not, like some, despise the Wits of our own Age: For I do not think that Nature is so much upon the decay, that she can produce nothing at present that is commendable. I have then been to hear Virginius Romanus reading a Comedy to a thin Audience, form'd upon the Model of the old Stage; yet so well done, that it may sometime be a Standard it self. I can't tell whether you know the Man, tho' you should [Page 298] know him. For he is very remarkable for the Probity of his Manners, the Elegance of his Wit, and the Variety of his Works. He has written some Iambic Drolls, with a lightness, a humorous Turn, a Beauty, and a Diction, that are all perfect in the kind. For there is no manner of Writing, that, if it be compleatly touch'd, has not a Right to be call'd extremely Eloquent and Masterly. He has written some Comedies in Imitation of Menander, and others of that Time; tho' you might reckon them among the Plays of Terrence and Plautus. He has now shewn himself the first Time in the antient Comedy, but not at all with the Air of a Beginner. He is neither defective in Force, Greatness, Refinement, Satyr, Sweetness, nor Gaiety. He has grac'd the Virtues, and the Vices he has lash'd; Fictitious Names he has employ'd with Decency, the True, with Propriety: As for my Particular, he has express'd too much good Humour, tho', indeed, a Poet may sometimes stretch a Point by Privilege. In short, I will force a Book from him, and send it to you, not only to read, but to learn: For I am pretty certain, you will not easily lay it aside, when you have once taken it into your Hands. [Page 299]
AN Affair has happen'd, that infinitely concerns those who are to be Governors of Provinces, as well as those who too frankly confide in their Friends. Lustricus Bruttianus, having found a charge of several Crimes laid upon Montanus Atticinus, his Lieutenant inform'd the Emperor of it. Atticinus added one Article to his Faults, in accusing the Friend, whom he himself had deceiv'd. The Process was regularly set on Foot; I was on the Bench: Both pleaded their own Cause, but concisely, and in a summary manner; as the shortest Method to discover the Truth. Bruttianus produc'd his Will, which, he said, was written by Aticinus's own Hand: For nothing could prove more clearly the strict Union that was between them, and the Necessity that forc'd Bruttianus to complain of a Man he so greatly valu'd. He explain'd the Heads of the Charge, that appear'd equally evident and shameful. Atticinus, when he [Page 300] could not clear them, reply'd to them in that manner, that while he was defended, he appear'd to be Infamous; and while he laid the Accusation, Wicked; For he had corrupted the Servant of Bruttianus's Secretary, seiz'd and mangled the Registers, and made an Advantage of his own Crime against his Friend, with the utmost Dishonesty. Cæsar acted very nobly in the Affair; for he pass'd Sentence upon Atticinus immediately, without taking the least Notice of Bruttianus. He was condemn'd to an Island. A very just Testimony of Integrity was given to Bruttianus, accompany'd with the Credit of being firm and steady: For after a short Defence, he push'd the Accusation with Vigour, and maintain'd the Part, not only of a Man of Spirit, but of Goodness and Sincerity. I have written this to you, as a Warning, since you have obtain'd the Government of a Province, to put the greatest Confidence in your self, and not rely too much upon another; and then to know, that if any Man deceives you, (as I hope the contrary) you have a fair Precedent of Revenge; yet, you should be strictly careful, not to have Occasion for it. For there is not so much Pleasure in vindicating one's self, as there is Vexation in the Thought of being impos'd upon.
YOU are pressing with me to plead a Cause, that falls under your Care; and is in other Respects very great and sounding: I'll obey your Commands, but not without a Consideration. How is it possible, you'll say, that Pliny should do that? It is very possible; for the Reward I shall demand shall be such, as shall do me more Honour than a gratuitous Pleading. I desire of you, and even make it a Condition, that Cremutius Ruso be join'd with me in Council: This is my way, and I have often practis'd it with several young Gentlemen of a bright Character: For I am extremely fond to produce a promising young Fellow to the Court, and assign him over to Fame: Which is a Debt I owe to my Friend Ruso, as much as any Person; both on the Account of his Family, and his Attachment to me: And I reckon much upon introducing him to be seen and heard in the same Causes, and even on the same Side. Oblige me in [Page 302] this Point; and oblige me before he speaks in Publick; for after he has pleaded, you will thank him. I engage that he will answer your Concern, my Hopes, and the Weight of the Cause. He is Master of very good Talents, and will shortly be capable of setting other Men in View, if we shew him: For no Man, tho' possess'd of the most hopeful Parts, can soon emerge, unless Matter, Opportunity, a Patron, and an introducing Friend, happen to recommend him.
HOW does the Quality of Persons vary that of Actions! The same Fact is either extreamly rais'd or depress'd by the Figure or Obscurity of the Performer. I was in a Boat upon the Larian Lake by our Town, when an old Friend shew'd me a Country House, and a Chamber, jutting forward to the Lake. A Towns-woman of our's, says he, on a certain Time drown'd her self and her Husband here, [Page 303] both together. I enquired the Cause. The Husband had suffer'd a long Time by Ulcers, in a Part which Modesty obliges to conceal. She engag'd him to give her Leave, to examine the Evil, as the most faithful Judge, whether it was capable of being cur'd. She had no sooner taken the View, but despair'd of a Remedy: Exhorted him rather to undergo the last Fate, than endure it; with an Offer to bear him Company; nay, to lead him on, to be his Example, and even necessitate him to it. For she fasten'd herself to him, and flung both at once into the Water. This is the first Light I have had into this Action, though I live in the same Town; not because the Deed is inferior to the celebrated Case of Arria, but because the Woman was less conspicuous.
YOU send me Word, that Robustus a Roman Knight, of considerable Rank, took a Journey with Attilius Scaurus, my Friend, as far as Ocriculum, and then disappear'd. You desire me to send for Scaurus, and get some Information from him, in order to enquire about it. He shall come hither, but I am much afraid it will be to no Purpose. For I suspect, that something has befallen Robustus, like an Accident, that happen'd once to a Towns-man of mine, Metilius Crispus. I had procur'd him a Command in the Army, and has presented him with 400000 Sesterces for his Equipage and Conveniencies: Nor did I afterwards receive a Letter from him, or any News of his Death. It is doubtful whether he was cut off by his own Servants, or with them: Certain it is, that neither he nor his Servants made their Appearance afterwards. I wish we may not find the same Cafe in Robustus; yet, let us send for Scaurus. [Page 305] Let us pay this Respect to your just Desire, and that of his worthy Son, who shews a great deal of Natural Affection, as well as Filial Duty, in the Search that he makes for him. Heaven grant, he may as readily find him, as he has met with his Fellow-Traveller.
I Give you Joy (as I am entirely pleas'd my self) that you have resolv'd your Daughter for Fuscus Salinator. His Family is Noble; his Father a Person of great Honour; his Mother of an equal Reputation. He himself is Studious, Learned, and Eloquent: He has the unaffected Innocence of Childhood, the Gaiety of Youth, and the consummate Wisdom of Age: Nor does my Kindness for him impose upon me: Indeed I have an uncommon Respect for him, yet it is with Judgment: (His Services, and Veneration for me entitle him to it) and really I love him so much the better, [Page 306] as I judge of him the more exactly; and I promise you, as one that has thoroughly try'd him, that you cannot wish to be happier in a Son-in-law. All you have to desire further, is, that you may be a Grandfather by a Son of his, as like the Father, and as speedily as possible. How acceptable will the Hour be! when I shall take his Offspring out of your Arms, as my own, and caress them as if I had an equal Right to them.
YOU ask my Opinion, what Compliments you should pay the Emperor, when you take Possession of the Consulate. In this Affair, the Invention of Matter is easier than the Choice of it: His Virtues give a large Fund of it, yet I will tall you my Sentiments on this Head, after I have declar'd one Doubt to you: For I question much, whether I ought to prescribe [Page 307] the same Advice to you, which I follow'd myself. When I was design'd consul, I kept clear from all show of Flattery, tho' not from that sort which is really proper to the Occasion; not with an air of Freedom and Boldness, but as a Man that knew the Emperor, whose principal Merit is to require no Praise at all. I likewise reflected, that many Honours were paid to the worst of Princes, and that the Perfection of Ours, could only be distinguish'd from them, by treating him in a different manner. This very Circumstance I did not entirely conceal, for fear the Conduct of it should be thought owing, not to Judgment, but to want of Memory. This was my Method upon the Subject; but every Man has not the same Relish for every Thing, nor is the Propriety the same. Besides, the true Decorum of doing, or omitting a Thing, is to be regulated by the State of Affairs, and of the Prince, give you room to speak upon new, real, and important Topicks; for which Reason, I am in doubt, as I told you before, whether I ought to give you the Directions I my self then pursu'd. This I had no scruple of, that it was my Duty to make my own Management a part of my Counsel to you.
I Know what has prevented your coming before me into Campania; but tho' absent, you are all here; your People have loaden me with such Plenty of Provisions, both of the Town and Country; which I accepted in general, tho' in a blunt manner. For they importun'd me to do so, and I was tender of giving you a Distaste, either to them or my self, had I done otherwise; but for the future, if you lay no Restraint upon yourself, I shall lay a Restraint upon you. Nay, I told the Bearers, that if they brought so large a Quantity another time, I would return the whole. You will say, that I ought to use your Things as my own: Right, but I would husband them as I do my own.
AVIDIUS Quietus, who had a particular Kindness for me, and (which is an equal Pleasure) approv'd all that came from Thraseas, our common Friend; often repeated a familiar Expression of that great Man, that a Man ought to undertake three sorts of Causes, Those of his Friends, of such as were destitute, or those that were Exemplary. But why ought we to undertake the Causes of our Friends? This demands no Explanation. Why those of the Destitute? Because the Bravery and Humanity of the Speaker is the most visible in them. Why such as relate to Example? Because the letting in of a good or an evil Precedent is of great Consequence. To these I will add, tho' perhaps with some Spirit of Ambition, the great and famous Causes. For it is reasonable to plead sometimes for Glory and Reputation, that is, one's own Cause; since you have desired my Opinion, these are the Bounds I presume to set to a Person of your Rank and Modesty. Nor am I ignorant, that Use both [Page 310] really is, and is reckon'd the best Master of Eloquence: For I observe many Persons of a low Genius, and no Literature, have acquir'd a Faculty of Pleading well, by Pleading often. But at the same time, that Saying of Pollio's, or that is ascrib'd to Pollio, is, to my own Experience, very true. Pleading well has made me Plead often, Pleading often has made me Plead worse: Because, for the purpose, too much Assiduity gives rather a Facility, than a Faculty, and not so much a proper Assurance, as an indiscreet Rashness. Nor was the Weakness of Voice, or the Natural Fear of Isocrates, when he spoke in Publick, any Bar to his Reputation of being a very great Orator. Therefore read, write, think a great deal, that you may be capable of speaking what you please; and you will speak, when you ought to have the Inclination. This is a Rule that I have commonly follow'd; sometimes I have submitted to Necessity, which has a Place among the best Reasons: For I have, at the Order of the Senate, appear'd in some Causes of the same kind with that of Thraseas, that is, such as were important for the Example of them. I defended the Bætici against Bæbius Massa; The Question was, Whether an Information was to be granted? It was granted. I was again retain'd by the same People, in a Complaint lodg'd against Cæcilius Classicus; the Query was, Whether the Provincial Officers ought to be punish'd, as the Accomplices and [Page 311] Agents of the Proconsul? They were punish'd. I accused Marius Priscus, who, having been Condemn'd by the Law against Embezzling the Publick Money, made use of the Clemency of the Law to his own Advantage, when he had exceed the Severity of it, by the Enormity of his Crimes. He was sent into Banishment. I was Advocate for Julius Bassus, as too unguarded and imprudent, and therefore not so Criminal. They made a Civil Cause of it by appointing Judges, and he kept his Place in the Senate. I pleaded very lately for Varenus, he insisted on a reciprocal Right, of calling in his own Evidence; this was allow'd. Hereafter, it is my Wish, to be chiefly retain'd in such Causes, which it would become me to maintain voluntarily.
IT is most certain, that we ought to celebrate your Birth-Day, as well as our own; since the Pleasure of our Days depends upon Yours, [Page 312] by whose Diligence and Care, we are merry in the Country, and secure in Town. Camillus's Country-House, which you own, in Campania, is, indeed, extremely Old and Ruinous; yet the principal Parts of the Building are entire, or but slightly damag'd: Therefore we wait for the most Commodious Repair of them. I seem to have a great Number of Friends, but I have scarcely one of the kind you desire, and the Nature of the Thing calls for. For they are all Men of Business, and of the Town. Now the Management of Country Farms will require Somebody that's hardy, and Rustick; that will neither look upon the Labour to be heavy, nor the Work mean, nor the Solitude Melancholly. You very properly think of Rufus, for he was an Acquaintance of your Son. Yet what he can do for us there, I know not; I believe he may be very ready to serve us.
THE Emperor having call'd me to Council, at Centumcellæ, (so the Place is call'd) it afforded me a very agreeable Scene of Pleasure. For what could be more delightful, than to view the Justice, Majesty, and Affability of a Prince, in a private Lodging, where all this is the most openly display'd? There were several Processes, such as were fit to exercise the Virtues of a Judge, by various manners. Claudius Aristo, the Principal Man among the Ephesians, open'd his Cause: He was a Person of a Generous Temper, and of harmless Popularity. This drew the Envy of some upon him. An Informer of a different Character was sent against him, by some Persons of the same Kidney: Therefore he was acquitted, and had Justice done him. On the Day following, Gallita was heard, in an Action of Adultery: She had been married to a Colonel, [Page 314] who design'd to be a Candidate for Preferment at Rome, but stain'd her own Honour, and that of her Husband, by a Criminal Amour with a Centurion. The Husband wrote to the Lieutenant Governour about it, and he to Cæsar. Cæsar, on a full Discussion of the Evidence, cashier'd and Banish'd the Centurion: The other part of the Crime, as it is necessarily the Crime of two, remain'd to be punish'd. But here the Love of his Wife was a check upon the Husband, not without a little suspicion of Connivance. For after this Action, he kept her at home, as if he had been fully satisfy'd with the Removal of his Rival. On an Admonition to finish the Action, he proceeded in it with Reluctance; but it was necessary to pass a Condemnation upon her, against the Will of the Accuser; and she was left to the Penalty of the Julian Law. Cæsar added both the Name of the Centurion, and the mention of Military Discipline, to the Sentence, that he might not seem to reduce every Cause of this kind to his own hearing. On the third Day, another Action was brought in, that had been the Subject of much, and different Talk, about the Will of Julius Tyro, which appear'd to be partly true, and was reported to be in a good Measure false. The Defendants were Sempronius Senecio, a Roman Knight, and Eurythmus the Freed man, and Agent of Cæsar. The Heirs, when Cæsar was in Dacia, petition'd him, in a joint Letter, for a Hearing. [Page 315] He granted their Petition. On his return to Rome, he appointed a Day for it; and when some of the Heirs would have desisted from the Proceeding, as it were out of respect to Eurythmus, He finely said, he is not a Polycletus, nor am I a Nero. Yet he allow'd their desire of an Adjourment, and when the time of that was expir'd, he sate upon the Cause. Two appear'd on the Part of the Heirs, they insisted, that all should be oblig'd to join in the Action, since all had join'd in the first Charge, or that they should have an equal Liberty to decline it. Cæsar express'd himself with much Weight and Moderation; and when the Advocate of Senecio and Eurythmus said, that the Defendents were expos'd to ill Suspicions, if they were not heard, he reply'd, It is no Concern to me, whether they be left open to Suspicions, I certainly am in this Case. Then, turning to us, determine, said he, what we ought to do, for these Men are dispos'd to Complain, that they have leave to withdraw their Suit. Then, on the Opinion of the Council, he gave an Order to all the Heirs, either to plead or that each of them should approve the Reasons for desisting, otherwise, that he would pronounce upon it, as a Case of Calumny. You see, how honourably and usefully these Days have been employ'd; they were follow'd by some very agreeable Diversions. We were every Day at Supper with the Emperor; it was a frugal Entertainment, for [Page 315] a Prince; sometimes we had a Play; sometimes the Night was carry'd on with pleasant Conversation: On the last Day before we took leave, we had Reason to admire the Care he shew'd to oblige us, in sending us Presents; for my Particular, I was not only much delighted with the Solemnity of the Causes, the Honour of being one of the Council, the Pleasure and Familiarity of the Emperor's Company, but with the Charms of the Place it self. The House is very magnificent, surrounded with Green Fields; it commands the Sea, and the Shore forms a Bay into a spacious Harbour, in the Shape of an Amphitheatre; the left side of it is fortify'd with a very strong work; the right Side is now working upon: And Island rises in the Mouth of the Harbour, that breaks, by its Opposition, the Sea, as the wind drives it; and affords a safe Riding to the Vessels on both Sides. It is rais'd with surprizing Art; a Ponton of large Boats bears up Stones of considerable Bulk; more are continually flung upon these, they lie close by the very Weight of them, and by degrees form a kind of Mole. The Top of this Bank of Stone already appears, it divides, and casts very high the Waves that strike upon it; this produces a vast roaring of the Water, and a foamy Sta about it. Great Pieces of Rock are added to these Stones, which, in length of Time, will resemble a natural Island. This Port will bear the Emperor's Name, and will be extreamly Commodious; [Page 317] for the Shore is unprovided with a Port, all along, and will find the Advantage of this Harbour.
THO', you, for your own particular, are very Modest and Frugal, and have Educated your Daughter in a manner becoming yourself, and the Niece of Tutilius: Yet since she is to marry a Gentleman of Quality, Nonius Celer, who is oblig'd by his Rank to make a Figure in Life; She ought to be furnish'd with Dress, Equipage, and Attendants, agreeable to the Character of her Husband; Our Dignity is not encreas'd by these Advantages, but it is set off by them. Besides, I know you to be, tho' very happy in Mind, yet not over-stock'd with the Goods of Fortune; therefore I claim a part of your Charge, and as another Father to our young Lady, I present her with 50000 Sesterces; more should readily [Page 318] be at her Service; if I was not sensible, that only the moderate Nature of the Offer, could prevail upon your Modesty to accept of it.
Whether you be reading, or Writing, order it to be taken away, and lay your Hands on a Pleading of mine; as the Cyclops did upon the Arms, demanded by Vulcan. Could I begin more loftily? But really it is the best of my Stock; for it is enough for me to contend with myself. It was made for Accia Variola, and is remarkable for the Rank of the Person, the Singularity of the Cause, and the Greatness of the Audience. For a Lady, descended of a Noble Family, Married to one of the Prætorian Quality, disinherited by a Father. Eighty Years Old, within eleven Days after he had [Page 319] brought a Mother-in-Law upon her, in a Fit of Dotage, demanded her Right to her Father's Estate, before the four Courts of the Centumvirate, assembled. A Hundred and Eighty Judges sate upon it, for this is the Number of the four Courts; there was a Multitude of Advocates on each side; the Seats were fill'd and a numerous Croud of Auditors encompass'd the Bench in several Circles all about it: Nay, the high Galleries, and the upper part of the Court, were throng'd, here with Men, and there with Women, that came with a Curiosity to hear, which was difficult, and to see, which was much easier. The Expectation of Fathers, Daughters, and of Mother's-in-Law was strong. The Event was various. Two Courts were for us, and two against us; the Thing was entirely remarkable, and wonderful. So great a difference happen'd, by a Chance, tho' it did not appear to be casual, in the same Cause, before the same Judges, with the same Advocates, at the same time: The Mother was cast, and reduc'd to inherit only a sixth Part. Suburranus had no better success, who after having been disinherited by his own Father, had the uncommon Impudence to claim the Right of being Heir to the Father of another. I have been so particular on these Matters, first, to let you know by Letter, what you could not know from the Oration itself; and then, (for I will own my Artifice in it) that you might be capable of reading it with [Page 320] more Pleasure, when you think, in reading it, that you are one of the Audience, and interested in it. Long as it is, I do not despair of its giving you the Delight of one, that is shortest; for it is vary'd and renew'd by the Plenty of matter, the Artful Division, the several Narrations, and the Variety of the Expression. There are many Things in it (I could not take this Liberty with any but you; ) that are elevated; many that are pressing, that are delicate. For I was often forc'd to mingle some nice Calculations, (and even to demand the Register, and Counters,) while I us'd this Force and Sublimity, that a Centumviral Action suddenly took the Face of a private Cause: I gave a loose to the Passions of Anger, Indignation, and Sorrow; and was carry'd on by several Winds on so wide an Ocean, as this ample Cause might be compar'd to. In short, some of my Acquaintance look upon this to be my Master-piece (I will repeat it) in Pleading, and like that of Demosthenes for Ctesiphon: Whether truly or no, you will judge with great Ease; for you have so ready a Memory at all of them, that you can make the Comparison, by reading this singly.
YOUR Promise of a Gladiator's Show to our People of Verona, is very just and agreeable; since you are of old Belov'd, Esteem'd and Honour'd by them. You had from thence your Wife, who had the tenderest Place in your Heart and Value; and some publick Testimony is due to her Memory, especially on the occasion of her Funeral. Besides, it was desir'd of you so universally, that it would not have been so resolute, as hard, to have deny'd it. What adds to it, is, that you have acquitted your Promise with so good a Grace, and so much Magnificence; for the Greatness of the Soul appear, even in these small Matters. I wish your African Panthers, a Number of which you had purchas'd, had come thither on the Day appointed; but tho' they have lain idle, kept back by a Storm, yet your Merit entitles you to equal Thanks, as if the Kindness had been receiv'd, since it was not your Default, that it was not accomplish'd.