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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 pleasure 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 mistaken patriotifm. 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 fupprefs a civil infurrection, however dangerous; to recover any former member of her dominions, however important; give no claim to this fupreme mark of ambitious distinction. For it was their notion, it seems, (and Valerius Maximus is my authority for faying fo) that there is as much difference between 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 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 stain even the most vitious characters. Accordingly, in the inftance of which I am fpeaking, the perfidious monarch was overlooked in the fuffering Perfeus; and a fpectacle fo affecting checked the joy of conquest even in a Roman breaft. For Plutarch affures us, when that worthlefs, but unhappy, prince, was observed, together with his two fons and a daughter, marching amidft 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 himself upon an occafion of the fame kind? He employed all the artful addrefs 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 difplayed 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 juft 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 respect to their private ones. That noble (and may I not add, that Chriftian) fentiment of Juvenal,
minuti Semper et infirmi eft animi exiguique voluptas, Ultio,
was not merely the refined precept of their more improved philosophers, but a general and popular maxim among them and that generous fentiment so much and fo deservedly 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, mentions it as their principal characteristic, that upon all occafions they fhewed a difpofition rather to forgive than revenge an injury. But the false 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 destructive principle. It was this fpirit, however, in return, and by a very just confequence, that proved at length the means of their total deftruction. Farewell.
To PHILOTE S.
July 4, 1743.
WHILST you are probably enjoy
ing blue skies and cooling grots; I am fhivering here in the midst of fummer. The molles fub arbore fomni, the Spelunca vivique lacus, are pleasures which we in England can feldom tafte but in defcription. For in a climate, where the warmeft