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One would be apt, at the first glance, to fufpect that every fentiment of humanity must be extinguished in a people, who could behold with pleafure the moving inftances, which thefe folemnities afforded, of the caprice of fortune; and could fee the highest potentates of the earth dragged from their thrones, to fill up the proud parade of these ungenerous triumphs. But the prevailing maxim which ran thro' the whole fyftem of Roman politics was, to encourage a fpirit of conqueft; and thefe honors were evidently calculated to awaken that unjust principle of miftaken patriotism. Accordingly, by the fundamental laws of Rome, no general was entitled to a triumph, unless he had added fome new acquifition to her poffeffions. To fuppress a civil insurrection, however dangerous; to recover any former member of her dominions, however important; gave no claim to this fupreme mark of ambitious distinction. For it was their notion, it feems, (and Valerius Maximus is my authority for faying fo) that there is as much difference Eetween adding to the territories of a
commonwealth, and reftoring those it has loft, as between the actual conferring of a benefit, and the mere repelling of an injury. It was but of a piece, indeed, that a ceremony conducted in defiance of humanity, should be founded in contempt of justice; and it was natural enough that they should gain by oppreffion, what they were to enjoy by infult.
IF we confider Paulus Æmilius after his conqueft of Macedonia, making his public entry into Rome, attended by the unfortunate Perfeus and his infant family; and at the fame time reflect upon our Black Prince when he paffed thro' London with his royal captive, after the glorious battle of Poitiers; we cannot fail of having the proper fentiments of a Roman triumph. What generous mind who faw the Roman conful in all the giddy exaltation of unfeeling pride, but would rather (as to that fingle circumftance) have been the degraded Perfeus, than the triumphant Æmilius? There is fomething indeed in diftrefs that reflects a fort of merit upon every object which is fo fituated, and turns off our attention,
from those blemishes that ftain even the moft vitious characters. Accordingly in the inftance of which I am speaking, the perfidious monarch was overlooked in the fuffering Perfeus; and a fpectacle fo affecting checked the joy of conquest even in a Roman breast. For Plutarch affures. us, when that worthlefs, but unhappy, prince was observed, together with his two fons and a daughter, marching amidst the train of prifoners; nature was too hard for cuftom, and many of the fpectators melted into a flood of tears. But with what a generous tenderness did the British hero conduct himfelf upon an occafion of the fame kind? He employéd all the artful address of the moft refined humanity, to conceal from his unhappy prisoner every thing that could remind him of his difgrace; and the whole pomp that was displayed upon this occafion, appeared fingly as intended to lighten the weight of his misfortunes, and to do honor to the vanquished monarch.
You will remember, Palamedes, I am only confidering the Romans in a political view, and speaking of them merely in
their national character. As to individuals, you know, I pay the highest veneration to many that rose up amongst them. It would not indeed be just to involve particulars, in general reflections of any kind: and I cannot but acknowledge ere I close my letter, that tho' in the article I have been mentioning, the Romans certainly acted a most unworthy part towards their public enemies, yet they feem to have maintained the most exalted notions of conduct with refpect to their private ones. That noble (and may I not add, that Christian) sentiment of Juvenal,
minuti Semper et infirmi eft animi exiguique voluptas, Ultio.
was not merely the refined precept of their more improved philofophers, but a general and popular maxim among them: and that generous fentiment fo much and fo defervedly admired in the Roman orator; Non pænitet me mortales inimicitias, fempiternas amicitias habere, was, as appears from Livy, fo univerfally received, as to become even a proverbial expreffion. Thus Saluft likewife, I remember, fpeaking of the
the virtues of the antient Romans, men tions it as their principal characteristic, that upon all occafions they shewed a difpofition rather to forgive than revenge an injury. But the falfe notions they had embraced concerning the glory of their country, taught them to fubdue every affection of humanity, and extinguish every dictate of justice which opposed that deftructive principle. It was this fpirit, however, in return and by a very just confequence, that proved at length the means of their total destruction. Farewel.
To PHILOTE S.
July 4, 1743.:
HILST you are probably enjoy ing blue skies and cooling grots; I am shivering here in the midst of summer. The molles fub arbore fomni, the fpelunca vivique lacus, are pleafures which we in England can seldom tafte but in description. For in a climate, where the warmeft