Page images
PDF
EPUB

ciently practised and the least understood. Well might the chancellor of Sweden say to his son, “ You know not with how little wisdom the world is governed !”

LOCKE'S OPINION OF THE GOSPEL.

The gospel contains so perfect a body of ethics, that reason may be excused from the inquiry, since she may find man's duty clearer and easier in Revelation than in herself. Letter to Molyneux, March 30th, 1696.

ANECDOTE OF DUNNING.

I once heard Horne Tooke relate the following anecdote illustrative of the personal appearance of Dunning, Lord Ashburton, who was the most celebrated lawyer of his day. When it was the custom for barristers to leave chambers early, and to finish their evenings at the coffee-houses in the neighbourhood of the inns of court, Lord Thurlow on some occasion wanted to see Dunning privately. He went to the coffee-house frequented by him, and asked a waiter if Mr. Dunning was there. The waiter, who was new in his place, said he did not know him. “Not know him !” exclaimed Thurlow with his usual oaths; “ go into the room up stairs, and if you see any gentleman like the knave of clubs, tell him he is particularly wanted.” The waiter went up, and forth with re-appeared followed by Dunning,

Notice.-I purpose ere long to enter upon three subjects of interest and importance :--the art of dining and giving dinners; the art of travelling; and the art of attaining high health-all from experience.

LONDON :

IBOTSON AND PALMER, PRINTERS: SAVOY-STREET, STRAND.

THE ORIGINAL,

BY THOMAS WALKER, M. A.

TRINITY COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE,

BARRISTER AT LAW, AND ONE OF THE POLICE MAGISTRATES OF THE METROPOLIS.

PUBLISHED EVERY WEDNESDAY AT 12 O'CLOCK, BY H. RENSHAW,

356, STRAND, NEARLY OPPOSITE WELLINGTON STREET.

No. II.] WEDNESDAY, MAY 27, 1835.

[PRICE 3d.

REMARKS ON THE LIFE OF NUMA.

IN

my preceding number I promised to give a captivating example from ancient history of the true spirit of government. As the best preparation of the minds of my readers for the doctrines I hold, I think I cannot do better than give it now. It is an extract from a sort of schoolboy translation, though not without merit, of Plutarch's Life of Numa Pompilius, published under Dryden's name. In point of matter it is to me of exquisite sweetness and beauty, surpassing anything I am acquainted with. I am aware that latterly it has become the fashion to doubt the authenticity of such accounts, and to accompany doubts with sneers; but according to my idea of human nature there is in the following narration a much greater air of truth than of fiction, and the long career of Roman greatness, in war and peace, seems to me the strongest confirmation of the received accounts of the respective characters of Romulus and Numa-just as Athenian greatness may most naturally be attributed to Solon, that of Sparta to Lycurgus, and our own to the admirable Alfred, each government taking its impress from the character of its principal organizer. They who doubt such causes of undeniable re

[ocr errors]

sults, involve themselves in greater difficulties ; as Grotius says of those who disbelieve the miracles of the christian religion, that to suppose its long continuance and wide spread accomplished by other means, is to suppose a greater miracle than all. We may say of this Life of Numa, what Fox in his History adds after the description of a virtuous characterwho would not wish it to be true ? There is indeed somewhat prevalent now a base mindedness, a sort of satanic envy and dislike of superiority, which makes many turn away from the contemplation of what is good and great-but let us hope for better times.

LIFE OF NUMA.

Numa was endued with a soul rarely tempered by nature and disposed to virtue, and excellently improved by learning, patience, and the studies of philosophy; by which advantages he had utterly extirpated not only all such disorderly motions of the mind as are universally esteemed vile and mean, but even all inclination to violence and oppression, which had once an honourable esteem amongst the barbarous nations, being persuaded that there was no other fortitude than that which subdued the affections and reduced them to the terms and restraints of reason.

Upon this account, whilst he banished all luxury and softness from his own home, and offered his best assistance to any citizen or stranger that would make use of him, in nature of an upright judge or faithful counsellor, and make use of what leisure hours he had to himself, not in pursuit of pleasure, or acquisition of profit and wealth, but in the worship of the immortal gods, and in the rational contemplation of their divine power and nature, his name grew so very famous that Tatius, who was Romulus' associate in the kingdom of Rome chose to make him his son-in-law, bestowing upon him his

.

only daughter Tatia. Nor did the advantage of this marriage swell his vanity to such a pitch as to make him desire to dwell with his father-in-law at Rome, but rather to content himself to inhabit with his Sabines and cherish his own father in his old age. The like inclinations had Tatia, who preferred the private condition of her husband before the honours and splendour she might have enjoyed in her father's court. This Tatia, as is reported, after she had lived for the space of thirteen years with Numa in conjugal society, died; and then Numa, leaving the conversation of the town, betook himself to a country life, and in a solitary manner frequented the groves and fields consecrated to the gods, making his usual abode in desert places.

He was about forty years of age, when the ambassadors came from Rome to make him offers of the kingdom. Their speech was very short, as supposing that Numa would gladly have embraced so favourable an opportunity of advancement. But it seems it was no such easy matter to persuade him ; for contrary to their expectation, they found that they were forced to use many reasons and entreaties to allure him, from his quiet and retired life, to accept the government of a city, whose foundation was laid in war, and had grown up

in martial exercises.

As soon as he was determined by their persuasions and reasons, joined to those of his father and his kinsman Martius, and of his own citizens, (having first done sacrifice to the gods,) he set forward towards Rome, being met in his way by the senate and people, who expressed a marvellous desire to receive him. The women also welcomed him with joyful acclamations, and sacrifices were offered for him in all the temples; and so universal was the joy, that the city seemed not to receive a king, but the addition of a new kingdom.

The first thing that he did at his entrance into government was to dismiss the band of three hundred men, which Romulus constantly kept for his life-guard; for he did not think it

.

reasonable to show any distrust of those who had placed so much confidence in him, nor to rule over people that durst not trust him. .

When Numa had thus insinuated himself into the favour and affection of the people, he began to dispose the humour of the city (which as yet was obdurate, and rendered hard as iron by war) to become more gentle and pliable by the applications of humanity and justice. It was then, if ever, that Rome was really such a city as Plato styles “a city in a high ferment;" for from its very original, it was a receptacle of the most daring and warlike spirits, whom some bold and desperate adventurer had driven thither from every quarter ; and by frequent incursions made upon its neighbours, and continual wars, it had grown up and increased its power, and now seemed strong and settled by encountering dangers, as piles driven into the ground become more fixed and stable by the impulse and blows which the rammer lays upon them. Wherefore, Numa, judging that it was the masterpiece of his art to mollify and bend the stubborn and inflexible spirits of this people, began to call in the assistance of the gods : for most commonly by sacrifices, processions, and religious dances which he appointed, and in which he officiated in person, (which had always some diverting exercise and pleasing entertainment mixed with their solemn devotion,) he soothed the minds of the people, and rendered their fiery, martial temper more cool and tame.

Numa forbad the Romans to represent God in the form of man or beast ; nor was there any painted or graven image of a deity admitted among them formerly ; but for the space of the first one hundred and sixty years, they built temples and erected chapels, but made no statue or image, as thinking it a great impiety to represent the most excellent beings by things so base and unworthy; there being no possible access to the Deity, but by the mind raised and elevated by divine contemplation.

« PreviousContinue »