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nished employment to the studious, and amusements to the idle, who have scarcely left behind them a coin or a stone, which has not been examined and explained a thousand times, and whose dress, and food, and household stuff, it has been the pride of learning to understand.
A man need not fear to incur the imputation of vicious diffidence or affected humility, who should have forborne to promise many novelties, when he perceived such multitudes of writers possessed of the same materials, and intent upon the same purpose. Mr Blackwell knows well the opinion of Horace, concerning those that open their undertakings with magnificent promises ; and he knows likewise the dictates of cominon sense and common honesty, names of greater authority than that of Horace, who direct that no man should promise what he cannot perform.
I do not mean to declare that this volume has nothing new, or that the labours of those who have gone before our author, have made his performance an useless addition to the burden of literature. New works may be constructed with old materials, the disposition of the parts may shew contrivance, the ornaments interspersed may discover elegance. It is not always without good effect that nien
proper qualifications write in succession on the same subject, even when the latter add nothing to the information given by the former; for the same ideas máy be delivered more intelligibly or more delightfully by one than by another, or with attractions that may lure minds of a different form. No writer pleases all, and every writer may please
But after all, to inherit is not to acquire ; to decorate is not to make ; and the man who had nothing to do but to read the ancient authors, who mention the Roman affairs, and reduce them to common-places, ought not to boast himself as a great benefactor to the studious world.
After a preface of boast, and a letter of fattery, in which he seems to imitate the address of Horace in his vile potabis modicis Sabinum-he opens his book with telling us, that the “ Roman repub“ lic, after the horrible proscription, was no more
at bleeding Rome. The regal power of her con“ suls, the authority of her senate, and the ma“ jesty of her people, were now trampled under
foot; these [for those] divine laws and hallowed “ customs, that had been the essence of her con. 66 stitution
--were set at nought, and her best “ friends were lying exposed in their blood.”
These were surely very dismal times to those who suffered ; but I know not why any one but a school-boy in his declamation should whine over the commonwealth of Rome, which grew great only by the misery of the rest of mankind. The Romans, like others, as soon as they grew rich, grew corrupt, and, in their corruption, sold the livez and freedoms of themselves, and of one another.
“ About this time Brutus had his patience put “ to the highest trial : he had been married to Clo“ dia ; but whether the family did not please him, “ or whether he was dissatisfied with the lady's “ behaviour during his absence, he soon entertain“ed thoughts of a separation. This raised a good “ deal of talk, and the women of the Clodian fa"mily inveighed bitterly against Brutus- but he
“ married Portia, who was worthy of such a father “as M. Cato, and such a husband as M. Brutus. “ She had a soul capable of an exalted passion, and “ found a proper object to raise and give it a sanc« tion; she did not only love but adored her hus“ band, his worth, his truth, his every shining " and heroic quality, made her gaze on him like
a god, while the endearing returns of esteein and « tenderness she met with, brought her joy, her “ pride, her every wish to centre in her beloved “ Brutus.'
When the reader has been awakened by this rapturous preparation, he hears the whole story of Portia in the same luxuriant style, till she breathed out her last, a little before the bloody proscription, and “ Brutus complained heavily of his friends " at Rome, as not having paid due atter:tion to « his Lady in the declining state of her heatlth.”
He is a great lover of modern terms. nators and their wives are Gentlemen and Ladies. In this review of Brutus's army, who was under the command of gallant men, not braver oficers, than true patriots, he tells us, “that Sextus the Questor “ was Paymaster, Secretary at War, and Commissary “ General, and that the sacred discipline of the Ro“ mans required the closest connectien, like that “ of father and son, to subsist between the Gene“ ral of an army and his Questor. Cicero was “ General of the Cavalry, and the next general “ officer was Flavius, Master of the Artillery, the - the elder Lentulus was Admiral, and the
youngrode in the Band of Volunteers ; under these “ the tribunes, with many others too tedious to « name." Lentulus, however, was but a subordi.
nate officer; for we are informed afterwards, that the Romans had made Sextus Pompeius Lord High Admiral in all the seas of their dominions.
Among other affectations of this writer is a furious and unnecessary zeal for liberty, or rather for one form of government as preferable to another. This indeed might be suffered, because political institution is a subject in which men have always differed, and if they continue to obey their lawful
governors, and attempt not to make innovations for the sake of their favourite schemes, they may differ for ever without any just reproach from one another. But who can bear the hardy champion who ventures nothing? who in full security undertakes the defence of the assassination of Cæsar, and declares his resolution to speak plain a Yet let not just sentiments be overlooked; he has justly observed, that the greater part of mankind will be naturally prejudiced against Brutus, for all feel the benefits of private friendship; but few can discern the advantages of a well-constituted government.
We know not whether some apology may not be necessary
for the distance between the first account of this book and its continuation. The truth is, that this work not being forced upon our attention by much publick applause or censure, was sometimes neglected, and sometimes forgotten; nor would it, perhaps, have been now resumed, but that we might avoid to disappoint our readers by an abrupt desertion of any subject.
It is not our design to criticise the facts of this history, but the style; not the veracity, but the address of the writer; for, an account of the an
cient Romans, as it cannot nearly interest any present reader, and must be drawn from writings that have been long known, can owe its value only to the language in which it is delivered, and the reflections with which it is accompanied. Dr Blackwell, however, seems to have heated his imagination so as to be much ffected with every event, and to believe that he can affect others. Enthusiasm is indeed sufficiently contagious; but I never found
of his readers much enamoured of the glorious Pompey, the Patriot approv'd, or much incensed against the lawless Cæsar, whom this author probably stabs every day and night in his sleeping or waking dreams.
He is come too late into the world with his fury for freedom, with his Brutus and Cassius. We have all on this side of the Tweed long since settled our opinions: his zeal for Roman liberty, and declamations against the violators of the republican constitution, only stand now in the reader's way, who wishes to proceed in the narrative without the interruption of epithets and exclamations. It is not easy to forbear laughter at a man so bold in fighting shadows, so busy in a dispute two thousand years past, and so zealous for the honour of a people who while they were poor robbed mankind, and as soon as they became rich robbed one another. Of these robberies our author seems to have no very quick sense, except when they are committed by Cæsar's party, for every act is sanctified by the name of a patriot.
If this author's skill in ancient literature were less generally acknowledged, one might sometimes suspect that he had too frequently consulted the