« PoprzedniaDalej »
able, sometimes, to the most honourable persons; who more a favourite to the most infamous? who, sometimes, appeared a, braver champion; who, at other times, a bolder enemy to his countrey f who more dissolute in his pleasures; who more patient in his toils? who more rapacious in robbing; who more profuse in giving f Above all things, this was remarkable and admirable in him, the arts he had to acquire the good opinion and kindness of all sorts of men, to retain it with great complaisance, to communicate all things to them, to watch and serve all the occasions of their fortune, both with his money, and his interest, and his industry; and, if need were, not by sticking at any wickedness whatsoever that might be useful to them, to bend and turn about his own nature, and lavcer with every wind; to live severely with the melancholy, merrily with the pleasant, gravely with the aged, wantonly with the young, desperately with tiie bold, and debauchedly with the luxurious r with this variety and multiplicity of his nature—as he had made a collection of friendships with all the most wicked and restless of all nations; so, by the artificial simulation of some virtues, he made a shift to ensnare some honest and eminent persons into his familiarity. Neither could so vast a design as the destruction of this empire have been undertaken by him, if the immanity of so many vices had not been covered and disguised by the appearances of some excellent qualities,"
I sec, methinks, the character of an Anti-Paul, "who became all things to Ull men," that he might destroy all; who only wanted the assistance of fortune, to have been as great as his friend Caesar was a little after him. And the ways of Caesar to compass the same ends (I mean till the civil war, which was but another manner of setting his countrey on fire) were not unlike these, though he used afterward his unjust dominion with more moderation than I think the other would have done. Sallust therefore, who was well acquainted with them both, and with many such-like gentlemen of his time, says *, " that it is the nature of ambition to make men lyars and cheaters; to hide the truth in their breasts, and shew, like jugglers, another thing in their mouths: to cut all friendships and enmities to the measure of their own interest; and to make a good countenance without the help of a good will." And can there be freedom with this perpetual constraint? what is it but a kind of rack that forces men to say what they have no mind to?
I have wondered at the extravagant and barbarous stratagem of Zopirus, and more at the praises which I find of so deformed an action; who, though he was one of the seven grandees of Persia, and the son of Megabises, who had freed before his countrey from an ignoble servitude, slit his own nose and lips, cut off his own ears, scourged and wound
* Dc Bell. Caril. c. x.
ed his whole body, that he might, under pretence of having been mangled so inhumanly by Darius, be received into Babylon (then besieged by the Persians), and get into the command of it by the recommendation of so cruel a sufferance, and their hopes of his endeavouring to revenge it. It is great pity the Babylonians suspected not his falsehood, that they might have cut off his hands too, and whipt him back again. But the design succeeded; he betrayed the city, and was made governor of it. What brutish master ever punished his offending slave with so little mercy, as ambition did this Zopirus? and yet how many are there, in all nations, who imitate him, in some degree, for a less reward; who, though they endure not so much corporal pain for a small preferment or some honour (as they call it), yet stick not to commit actions, by which they are more shamefully and more lastingly stigmatized! But you may say, Though these be the most ordinary and open ways to greatness, yet there are narrow, thorny, and little-trodden paths too, through which some men find a passage by virtuous industry. I grant, sometimes they may; but then, that industry must be such, as cannot Consist with liberty, though it may with honesty.
Thou art careful, frugal, painful; we commend a servant so, but not a friend.
Well then, we must acknowledge the toil and drudgery which we are forced to endure in this stsceut; but we are epicures and lords when once we are gotten up into the high places. This is but a short apprenticeship, after which we are made free of a royal company. If we fall in love with any beauteous woman, we must be content that they should be our mistresses whilst we woo them; as soon as we are wedded and enjoy, it is we shall be the masters.
I am willing to stick to this similitude in the case of greatness: we enter into the bonds of it, like those of matrimony; we are bewitched with the outward and painted beauty, and take it for better or worse, before we know its true nature and interior inconveniences. A great fortune (says Seneca) is a great servitude; but many are of that opinion which Brutus imputes (I hope, untruly*) even to that patron of liberty, his friend Cicero: " We fear (says he to Atticus) death, and banishment, and poverty, a great deal too much. Cicero, I am afraid, thinks these to be the worst of evils; and, if he have but some persons, from whom he can obtain what he has a mind to, and others who will flatter and worship him, seems to be well enough contented with an honourable servitude, if any thing indeed ought to be called honourable in so base and contumelious a condition." This was spoken as became the bravest man who was ever born in the bravest commonwealth. But with us generally, no condi
* This parenthesis doe« honour to the writer's sense, as well as candour. Huru.
tion passes for servitude, that is accompanied with great riches, with honours, and with the service of many inferiors. This is but a deception of the sight through a false medium; for, if a groom serve a gentleman in his chamber, that gentleman a lord, and that lord a prince; the groom, the gentleman, and the lord, are as much servants one as the other; the circumstantial difference of the one's getting only his bread and wages, the second a plentiful, and the third a superfluous estate, is no more intrinsical to this matter, than the difference between a plain, a rich, and gaudy livery. I do not say, that he who sells his whole time and his own will for one hundred thousand, is not a wiser merchant than he who does it for one hundred pounds; but I will swear they are both merchants, and that he is happier than both, who can live contentedly without selling that estate to which he was born. But this dependence upon superiors is but one chain of the lovers of power:
Let us begin with him by break of day: for by that time he is besieged by two or three hundred suitors; and the hall and antichambcrs (all the outworks) possessed by the enemy: as soon as his
• Hot. 3 04 iv. 79. VOL. III. M