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sense, and such original thoughts,* such virtuous principles, such benevolence and love of mankind, and such a religious regard to the common rights of his fellow-creatures; that a system of morality might be extracted from them, only surpassed by that of the gospel; and a system of politics not surpassed even by the refinements of modern patriotism.

These maxims are not the reveries of a private recluse; but the reflexions of a statesman, a soldier, and a sovereign prince, engaged in the tumultuous


* By original thoughts, however, in a highly polished state of society, little more can be meant than the setting in a new light “ What oft was thought, but ne'er so well express’d.”



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scenes of life; and most of them suggested by actual situations.

I do not consider such unconnected precepts, however, as forming a volume that any one will read through at a sitting; but as a “ book to lie in a parlour window,” (as Montaigne says) from which a man may pick up some useful hints while he is waiting for his dinner.

A lady in private life, equally diftinguished by her piety and her ingenuity, assured me, many years since, that she had received more advantage, in her youth, from the morals of Epictetus, (whom Marcus Aurelius often imitates, and sometimes excels) than from any book she ever read-except her bible.

These reflections on his own conduct, indeed, inculcate, with great force, our duty to God, our neighbour, and ourselves; which comprehends the chief duties of a Christian. And it is evident, that the philosophical Earl of Shaftesbury was greatly indebted to our author, and other writers of the porch and of the old academy, for his refined system of morality and sublime theism. For, though the character of an humble Christian might be thought beneath the dignity of a British peer, the pride of a stoic would prevent him from acting beneath the dignity of human nature.

Yet after all that can be said in favour of our author's writings, and those

of any unenlightened pagan moralist, there are such strange defects and inconsistencies to be found in their opinions and precepts, as sufficiently shew the necessity of some authoritative republication of the law of nature; (such as Socrates wished for) and such as the greatest sceptic (one would think) must acknowledge to have been made by the author of our religion.

Perhaps then the combating vice with the weapons of philosophy, instead of those of the Gospel, at this time of day, may be thought as trifling and childish, as our gentlemen archers reviving the use of the bow, since the invention of

guns; yet I should hope, it would be more than mere amusement,


for those who deem the precepts of the Gospel impracticable, to observe how far a heathen sage, by the mere efforts of reason, could proceed in subduing his passions, and in the practice of the most rigid virtue. At all events, they may be attended with an advantage to a Christian, similar to that of an Englishman's travelling into some despotic country; to make him return with greater satisfaction to his own.

But the younger Casaubon, who published both an edition and translation of this work about the middle of the last century, says, “ It is not only the most excellent, but the most obscure, of all the remains of antiquity.”


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