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row compass, so many great and glorious cities, formed for a much longer duration, thus lie extended in ruins ? Remember then, oh my heart ! the general lot to which man is born, and let that thought suppress thy unreasonable murmurs! Believe me, I found my mind greatly comforted and refreshed by these reflections. Let me advise you, in the same manner, to represent to yourself, what numbers of our illustrious countrymen have lately been cut off at once ; how much the strength of the Roman republic is impaired, and what dreadful devastation has gone forth throughout all its provinces! and can you, with the impression of these greater calamities upon your mind, be so inmoderately afflicted for the loss of a single individual, a poor, little, tender woman? who, if she had not died at this time, must, in a few fleeting years more, have inevitably undergone that common fate to which she was born."
Yet we feel, at once, that all this was insufficient to give him consolation. So far as it was a manifestation of the sympathy and affectionate interest of his friend, it soothed and comforted him. But he was not to be cheered or calmed by reasoning of which his own keen instinct perceived the fallacy. To compare the existence of such a being as the beloved child he had lost, with that of a city or a state, seems almost an insult to the heart-broken parent. He felt that he was mourning over a sadder ruin than all the remains of antiquity ; that the being he had lost was more precious, and more grand, than the created universe; that in ihis feeble woman there had breathed a soul, which made her of more consequence than the whole world beside, and that his loss could never be repaired. He mourned over her without comfort ; the feelings of the man and the father triumphed over the reason of the philosopher ; and he only longed for death, as a relief from the intolerable burden which had been laid upon him.
Of the religious views entertained by Cicero, it is well known that they had little or no sympathy with the prevailing theology of his time. He had no belief whatever in the existence of the deities of classical mythology ; though, as he regarded the superstition of the times as useful in upholding the state, he constantly encouraged the people, in his public capacity, to worship the gods with profound reverence. He utierly derides the whole business of signs, omens, and prophecies in his work, De Divinatione, and yet we find him
a successful candidate for a place in the college of Augurs. Yet he was, undoubtedly, deeply impressed with that feeling of awe and reverence for all that is higher and holier in nature, which we denominate religion. As a philosopher he offered no worship to the gods; and yet no one can read the passages in his orations, where he refers to the goodness and power of the immortals, and bids the people adore them, without feeling that such sentiments could only proceed from one who was penetrated with the feeling of religion.
Of his deep reverence for the soul, and the sentiments of religion with which he was penetrated, we may judge from this fine passage, in the work “ De Legibus.”
“ For whoever knows himself will feel that he possesses something of a divine nature, and will regard the mind within him as a sacred inage enshrined there. He will always act and think in a manner worthy of so great a gift of the gods; and having tried himself, and examined his whole nature, he will comprehend how well provided he has come into life, and how many means he possesses for grasping wisdom and making it his own; since, from the beginning, he has conceived the germs of all knowledge shadowed forth, as it were, in his mind. Enlightened by these, with wisdom for his guide, he can see that he will be a good man, and for that reason a happy one. For when the mind, having acquired the knowledge of virtue, has renounced obedience to the body and the influence of the passions, has conquered pleasure as some disgraceful infection, has soared above all fear of pain and death, united itself with other spirits, in whom it recognises a common nature, cultivated the worship of the gods, and pure religion, and increased its power of perception in choosing good and rejecting the contrary, (which virtue is to be called foresight or wisdom,) what can be mentioned or conceived of, more happy than such a soul? And when a man has looked upon the heavens, earth, and sea; has searched into the nature of all things; has seen whence they are generated, whither they return, and in what manner they are to perish, what in them is mortal and destructible, and what is divine and eternal ; when he has almost comprehended the nature of the Ruler and Director of all, and recognised himself as confined by no walls to one spot, but as a citizen of the whole world as one vast city; in this universal magnificence, in the sight and knowledge of nature, how will he know himself (the precept of the Pythian Apollo); how contemptible, how despicable, how utterly insignificant will those things appear which are generally regarded as the greatest goods!” — De Legibus, lib. I, cap. 22, 23. VOL. XLVI. —NO. 98.
• We have thus examined the character of Cicero ; hastily and imperfectly, we are well aware, but with the hope only of exciting others to the study of his works, and the comprehension of one of the most remarkable minds of antiquity. The question here occurs, to what class of great men he belonged. There are some who have peculiarly the power to act immediately upon society, and to make their efforts felt throughout the world, at once and for ever: men who actually carry forward the age in which they live; who advance the whole civilized world by one tremendous exertion of intellectual might, taking a step which can never be retraced. Such were Bacon, Newton, Locke. There are others, who act with no less power upon their age, who occasion an equal advance, and confer benefits not less palpable and important; yet per-. haps by the exertion of less dazzling powers of mind.
Of this class are the authors of the greater inventions and discoveries ; as Faustus, Columbus, Watt, Hervey. Their greatness is due partly to fortunate combinations of circumstances, though much more to their own patience, perseverance, industry, and courage. We should, however, decidedly place these lower in the scale of greatness than the former, as their efforts are less purely intellectual, although resulting in consequences equally important. The greatness of such men is to be measured by the amount of good which they confer upon mankind, the labor they undergo, the dangers they incur, the power, moral, as well as intellectual, which they exert. Their fame is perhaps more enviable than any ; for the good they confer
is more obvious, more universally selt, more immediately palpable than any other.
The greatness of Cicero is not to be ranked with these. Though a distinguished patriot and statesman, hailed as the father of his country, and a martyr to liberty, he did not advance the age in which he lived. He could not even save the state from ruin. He made no brilliant discoveries ; he did not much improve that philosophy which he loved so dearly; and yet we have no hesitation in ranking him among the greatest men.
There are men whose very existence is a blessing to their race; whose acted history is a good, not less positive, substantial, and important, than the discovery of a continent or a science, secured to every nation and every age, the heritage of mankind for life and for eternity ; who have been he
manifestation of the grandeur of unobscured nature ; who have literally lived to the glory of God, by showing in themselves the perfection of his highest work; the pioneers in the intellectual and moral advance of the human race ; they who have explored the furthest range of the intellect, who have lingered on the extreme verge of mortal power, and have set up their monumental pillars and trophies on the outermost limit of human virtue and reason.
There are men who seem peculiarly created in the image of the Almighty ; whose universal minds, penetrated and filled with the glory of an all-pervading nature, are responsive to every call of its thousand tones, and seem to mirror forth the creation in harmonious and unbroken reflection ; whose comprehensive intellects dwell not in the present alone, but penetrate alike the past and the future, bind all together in one glorious and perfect whole, and seem to gather into themselves at once the splendor and majesty of a universe of time, space, and power. At the bead of these, and without a rival, stands Shakspeare; and in this class we would rank Cicero.
The ideal of such a being existed in his mind as the perfect orator, and after this bright image, which no sorrow, nor tumult, nor defeat could obscure, he fashioned his own char
That he did not wholly attain the perfection to which he aspired, is only saying that he was human; to rank him in this high order, is the best tribute that we can offer to his fame.
What we most admire in Cicero, is the freshness and nobleness of his soul. No system had power to cast its trammels upon his spirit ; no disappointment nor sorrow, no desertion of friends, no triumph of enemies, could check the warm current of his affections. He lived in the midst of a corrupt and degenerate society, hurrying on to slavery and ruin ; yet he was untouched by the vices that surrounded him ; and so clear were his notions of duty, so elevated and glorious his conception of the true and intrinsic right, that it seems almost as if he had beheld the fair form of virtue itself in unobscured glory, and had become enamoured of her for ever. His whole life was influenced and directed by a strong sense of duty; and his treatise "De Officiis,” the finest moral essay of antiquity, is a proof of the amount of thought he had bestowed upon this vast subject, and the sublime views with which he looked upon the position that every rational, thinking man occupies.
He was undoubtedly wanting in magnanimity. He sunk under grief, and indulged in effeminate sorrow at some of the misfortunes which befell him; and there may be some justice in the charge brought against him, of submitting too tamely to a tyrant, and even condescending to flatter him. We do not attempt to deny the truth of these charges ; and still, in admitting it, we only grant that the character of Cicero did not reach perfection. Yet it is worthy of notice, that this very weakness arose from the uncommon sensitiveness and delicacy of his feelings, and the intensity of his affections, which discovered, even in the character of the Dictator, much that commanded adıniration and love. And who shall say how much of his wonderful perception and tact, his refined wit, his almost holy musings and aspirations, his benevolence, which made him to be worshipped as a god, in the provinces, were owing to this same delicacy of character, which made him, at times, play the woman? It was the great misfortune of his life, that his emotions, his affections, the utter abandonment with which his spirit yielded itself up to its boundless love, overcame the power of his intellectual nature. The love of a wife or a daughter was dearer to him, than the possession of a mind which ranged the universe over ; and that spirit, which had power almost to comprehend the Deity, which soared beyond the bounds of time and space, penetrated the mystery of death, and beheld the splendor of immortality, this mighty intellect was bowed down to the earth, and veiled its glories in inconsolable' mourning over the loss of one dear object.
These were weaknesses which he never conquered. Yet they are but trifling blemishes, compared with his virtues and his greatness ; mere spots on that intellectual which shone with benignant lustre over the whole race. They render the tragedy of his life more deep and sad, though they perhaps diminish at the same time the interest and sympathy we feel in his sufferings.
But these were more than atoned for by the heroism and glory of his latest acts. During the last year of his life, he seems in truth to have borne the
whole weight of the republic on his shoulders. At the news that Antony had left the capital, to place himself at the head of his legions in the north of Italy, Cicero repairs to Rome, and immediately assumes that