Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

red,' and christiane exception

to fire on the fightest offence, is every way unbecoming in a man: to be “ easily 66 intreated,” and not easily provoked, is highly worthy of a chriftian. “. He that is * slow to anger,” says an unexceptionable judge, “ is better than the mighty; and :6 he that rulech his spirit, than he that -ot taketh a city.” It is the sentiment of Solomon; to which we may add another, equally true and beautiful, whose author I forget : “ A coward has fought; a 66 coward has overcome ; but a coward 16 never forgave.” Were I asked, Who

is the greatest hero? methinks I. should answer, He who, though by nature warm, hasty, and irascible, yet habitually controuls and governs himself; not “ to be « seen of men,” but from a principle of duty. Other temperaments leave a perfon some leisure to reflect, before he shall proceed to indulge them: this bursts forth at once, without previous warning; the smallest spark sets it in a blaze; and the man is out of himself at this moment, who was calm, reasonable, and wise, the last. But to proceed.

Much as the Roman valour has been extolled, and stupendous as it seemed in many instances, I cannot for my part praise it so highly. What after all was its main object, but without provocation to plunder, and without right to envassal, the rest of mankind? True it is, they sometimes discovered, in the midst of conquest, a spirit of moderation which did them honour; and in the career of what they had been taught to consider as the height of glory, they often performed acts of singular greatness : nor is it to be denied, that their admitting the vanquished nations into the rank of Roman Citizens was as creditable for themselves as it was Aattering to those that they had fubdued; and that there is some truth in the observation of their having conquered the world by the charm of their virtues, more than by the terror of their swords. But then their triumphs

Vol. II.

or public entries were detestable, how well foever they might be calculated to inflame courage, and excite emulation. A more enlightened morality can never be reconciled to the base and barbarous insult of exposing, to the greedy gaze of a rude and petulant rabble, captive generals, princes, kings, disgraced by fetters, and glowing with indignation, or congealed in despair. Blessed Heaven! how superior to such outrage is the charity of the Gospel; whose Ayrhór, when he entered triumphant into Jerusalem, was still “ meek, bringing salvation,” and even weeping over that devoted city which he longed to save from ruin, but which had returned all his kind efforts with malignity and scorn!

Not to infift here on the deportment of those magnanimous men the Apostles, and primitive believers, who manifested so much mildness and lowliness amidst their unequalled victories over the passions and prejudices of the world, I cannot forbear to mention a Christian Hero of latter days, who has always appeared to me among the most elevated of mankind. I think of Edward, The Black Prince, as he was commonly called from the colour of his armour. Having conquered and taken prisoner the French king, so far was he from treating him with insolence, or showing any signs of elation on his extraordinary success, though but a youth of twenty-seven years of age, that he studied to foften, and if possible beguile the infelicity of his royal captive, by every expression of sympathy and respect, by doing justice to his valour, by ascribing his own victory to Providence, by even serving the unfortunate monarch's table, which he took care to furnish magnificently, and standing behind his back in the time of the repast, as a token of the deference due to majesty from one who was only a subject. Such indeed he was, his father being them alive. But may we not pronounce him

miv we n

greater than a hundred kings who had ruled as many nations, and subdued as many provinces ? This illustrious young man had all his pafhons under his command: he was a kingdom to himself: his mind was alike imperial and gentle; and his whole life, stained with no dishonour, adorned with every virtue, proved that his behaviour on this occasion was the pure result of magnanimity.

But why do we speak of one man, when we would enforce this greatness of mind which our religion is adapted to inspire ? Come hither, ye mighty warriors of heathen name, ye celebrated conquerors who have struck the world with astonishment, come hither, and from persons of the lowest rank and education in this country learn the virtue of applauding a brave, of raising a fallen, of encouraging a vanquished foe.—What say ye, my friends? While you muse on these things, does not the fire of true heroism burn; or can ye

« PoprzedniaDalej »