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particular judgment he has been too favourable to his countrymen; and make it out in general, where he has failed in matching such a Greek with such a Roman; which must be done by showing how he could have paired them better, and naming any other in whom the resemblance might have been more perfect. But an equitable judge, who takes things by the same handle which Plutarch did, will find there is no injury offered to either party, though there be some disparity betwixt the persons; for he weighs every circumstance by itself, and judges separately of it; not comparing men at a lump, nor endeavouring to prove they were alike all things, but allowing for disproportion of quality or fortune, showing wherein they agreed or disagreed, and wherein one was to be preferred before the other."
I thought I had answered all that could reasonably be objected against our author's judgment; but casually casting my eye on the works of a French gentleman,* deservedly famous for wit and criticism, I wondered, amongst many commendations of Plutarch, to find this one reflection:-"As for his comparisons, they seem truly to me very great; but I think he might have carried them yet farther, and have penetrated more deeply into human nature. There are folds and recesses in our minds, which have escaped him; he judges man too much in gross, and thinks him not so different as he is often from himself; the same person being just, unjust, merciful, and cruel; which qualities seeming to belie each other in him, he attributes their inconsistencies to foreign causes. In fine, if he had described Catiline, he would have given him to us either prodigal or covetous: that alieni appetens, sui profusus, was above his reach. He could never have reconciled those contrarieties in the same subject, which Sallust had so well unfolded, and which Montaigne so much better understood."
This judgment could not have proceeded but from a man who has a nice taste in authors; and if it be not altogether just, it is at least delicate: but I am confident, that if he please to consider this following passage, taken out of the Life of Sylla, he will moderate, if not retract his censure:
"In the rest of his manners he was unequal, irregular, different from himself: ávíμadds Tis ἔοικε, και διάφορος πρὸς ἑαυτὸν. He took many things by rapine, he gave more; honoured men immoderately, and used them contumeliously; was submissive to those of whom he stood in need, insulting over those who stood in need of him; so that it was doubtful whether he were
*Mons. de St. Evremond. VOL. II.-19
more formed by nature to arrogance or flattery. As to his uncertain way of punishing, he would sometimes put men to death on the least occasion; at other times, he would pardon the greatest crimes so that judging him in the whole, you may conclude him to have been naturally cruel, and prone to vengeance, but that he could remit of his severity, when his interests required it."
Here, methinks, our author seems to have sufficiently understood the folds and doubles of Sylla's disposition; for his character is full of variety and inconsistencies. Yet in the conclusion it is to be confessed, that Plutarch has assigned to him a bloody nature; the clemency was but artificial and assumed, the cruelty was inborn: but this cannot be said of his rapine, and his prodigality; for here the alieni appetens, sui profusus, is as plainly described, as if Plutarch had borrowed the sense from Sallust; and, as he was a great collector, perhaps he did. Nevertheless he judged rightly of Sylla, that naturally he was cruel, for that quality was predominant in him; and he was oftener revengeful than he was merciful. But this is sufficient to vindicate our author's judgment from being superficial, and I desire not to press the argument more strongly against this gentleman, who has honoured our country by his long residence amongst us.
It seems to me, I must confess, that our author has not been more hardly treated by his enemies, in his comparing other men, than he has been by his friends, in their comparing Seneca with him. And herein, even Montaigne himself is scarcely to be defended; for no man more esteemed Plutarch, no man was better acquainted with his excellencies; yet, this notwithstanding, he has done too great an honour to Seneca, by ranking him with our philosopher and historian; him, I say, who was so much less a philosopher, and no historian. It is a reputation to Seneca, that any one has offered at the comparison; the worth of his adversary makes his defeat advantageous to him; and Plutarch might cry out with justice,
Qui cum victus erit, mecum certasse feretur. If I had been to find out a parallel for Plutarch, I should rather have pitched on Varro, the most learned of the Romans, if at least his works had yet remained; or Pomponius Atticus, if he had written. But the likeness of Seneca is so little, that except the one's being tutor to Nero, and the other to Trajan, both of them strangers to Rome, yet raised to the highest dignities in that city, and both philosophers, though of several sects; (for Seneca was a
Stoic, Plutarch a Platonician, at least an Academic, that is, half Platonist, half Skeptic;) besides some such faint resemblances as these, Seneca and Plutarch seem to have as little relation to one another as their native countries, Spain and Greece. If we consider them in their inclinations or humours, Plutarch was sociable and pleasant, Seneca morose and melancholy Plutarch a lover of conversation, and sober feasts; Seneca reserved, uneasy to himself when alone, to others when in company. Compare them in their manners; Plutarch everywhere appears candid, Seneca often censorious. Plutarch, out of his natural humanity, is frequent in conimending what he can; Seneca, out of the sourness of his temper, is prone to satire, and still searching for some occasion to vent his gall. Plutarch is pleased with an opportunity of praising virtue; and Seneca, to speak the best of him, is glad of a pretence to reprehend vice. Plutarch endeavours to teach others, but refuses not to be taught himself; for he is always doubtful and inquisitive; Seneca is altogether for teaching others, but so teaches them, that he imposes his opinions, for he was of a sect too imperious and dogmatical either to be taught or contradicted; and yet Plutarch writes like a man of a confirmed probity, Seneca like one of a weak and staggering virtue. Plutarch seems to have vanquished vice, and to have triumphed over it; Seneca seems only to be combating and resisting, and that too but in his own defence; therefore Plutarch is easy in his discourse, as one who has overcome the difficulty; Seneca is painful, as he who still labours under it. Plutarch's virtue is humble and civilized; Seneca's haughty and ill-bred Plutarch allures you, Seneca commands you. One would make virtue your companion, the other your tyrant. The style of Plutarch is easy and flowing, that of Seneca precipitous and harsh the first is even, the second broken. The arguments of the Grecian, drawn from reason, work themselves into your understanding, and make a deep and lasting impression in your mind; those of the Roman, drawn from wit, flash immediately on your imagination, but leave no durable effect: so this tickles you by starts with his arguteness, that pleases you for continuance with his propriety. The course of their fortunes seems also to have partaken of their styles; for Plutarch's was equal, smooth, and of the same tenor,-Seneca's was turbid, inconstant, and full of revolutions. The life of Plutarch was unblamable, as the reader cannot but have observed; and of all his writings, there is nothing to be noted as having the least tendency to vice, but only that
little treatise which is entitled 'EpwriKós, wherein he speaks too broadly of a sin to which the eastern and southern parts of the world are most obnoxious; but Seneca is said to have been more libertine than suited with the gravity of a philosopher, or with the austerity of a Stoic. An ingenious Frenchman esteems, as he tells us, his person rather than his works; and values him more as the preceptor of Nero, a man ambitious of the empire, and the gallant of Agrippina, than as a teacher of morality. For my part, I dare not push the commendation so far. His courage was perhaps praiseworthy, if he endeavoured to deliver Rome from such a monster of tyranny as Nero was then beginning to appear; his ambition too was the more excusable, if he found in himself an ability of governing the world, and a desire of doing good to human kind; but as to his good fortunes with the empress, I know not what value ought to be set on a wise man for them: except it be that women generally liking without judgment, it was a conquest for a philosopher, once in an age, to get the better of a fool. However, me thinks there is something of awkward in the adventure: I cannot imagine, without laughter, a pedant, and a Stoic, making love in a long gown; for it puts me in mind of the civilities which are used by the cardinals and judges in the dance of "The Rehearsal." If Agrippina would needs be so lavish of her favours, since a sot grew nauseous to her, because he was her husband, and nothing under a wit could atone for Claudius, I am half sorry that Petronius was not the man. We could have borne it better from his character, than from one who professed the severity of virtue, to make a cuckold of his emperor and benefactor. But let the historian answer for his own relation; only, if true, it is so much the worse that Seneca, after having abused his bed, could not let him sleep quiet in his grave. The Apocolocynthisis, or mock deification of Claudius, was too sharp and insulting on his memory, and Seneca, though he could preach forgiveness to others, did not practise it himself in that satire. Where was the patience and insensibility of a Stoic, in revenging his banishment with a libel? Where was the morality of a philosopher, in defaming and exposing of a harmless fool? And where was common humanity, in railing against the dead? But the talent of his malice is visible in other places: he censures Macænas, and I believe justly, for the looseness of his manners, the voluptuousness of his life, and the effeminacy of his style; but it appears that he takes pleasure in so doing, and that he never forced his nature when he spoke ill of any man. For his own
style, we see what it is; and if we may be as bold with him as he has been with our old patron, we may call it a shattered eloquence, not vigorous, not united, not imbodied, but broken into fragments; every part by itself pompous, but the whole confused and unharmonious. His Latin, as Monsieur St. Evremont has well observed, has nothing in it of the purity and elegance of Augustus his times; and it is of him and of his imitators that Petronius saidpace vestrâ liceat dixisse, primi omnium eloquentiam perdidistis. The controversiae sententiis vibrantibus pictæ, and the vanus sententiarum strepitus, make it evident that Seneca was taxed under the person of the old Rhetorician. What quarrel he had to the uncle and the nephew, I mean Seneca and Lucan, is not known; but Petronius plainly points them out, one for a bad orator, the other for as bad a poet. His own Essay of the Civil War is an open defiance of the "Pharsalia ;" and the first oration of Eumolpus as full an arraignment of Seneca's false eloquence. After all that has been said, he is certainly to be allowed a great wit, but not a good philosopher; not fit to be compared with Cicero, of whose reputation he was emulous, any more than Lucan is with Virgil. To sum up all in few words :-consider a philosopher declaiming against riches, yet vastly rich himself; against avarice, yet putting out his money at great extortion here in Britain; against honours, yet aiming to be emperor; against pleasure, yet enjoying Agrippina, and in his old age married to a beautiful young woman; and after this, let him be made a parallel to Plutarch.
And now with the usual vanity of Dutch prefacers, I could load our author with the praises and commemorations of writers; for both ancient and modern have made honourable mention of him: but to cumber pages with this kind of stuff, were to raise a distrust in common readers that Plutarch wants them. Rualdus indeed has collected ample testimonies of them:
but I will only recite the names of some, and refer you to him for the particular quotations. He reckons Gellius, Eusebius, Himerius the Sophister, Eunapius, Cyrillus of Alexandria, Theodoret, Agathias, Photius and Xiphilin, patriarchs of Constantinople, Johannes Sarisberiensis, the famous Petrarch, Petrus Victorius, and Justus Lipsius.
But Theodorus Gaza, a man learned in the Latin tongue, and a great restorer of the Greek, who lived above two hundred years ago, deserves to have his suffrage set down in words at length; for the rest have only commended Plutarch more than any single author, but he has extolled him above all together.
It is said, that, having this extravagant question put to him by a friend,-that if learning must suffer a general shipwreck, and he had only his choice left him of preserving one author, who should be the man he would preserve? he answered Plutarch; and probably might give this reason, that, in saving him, he should secure the best collection of them all.
The Epigram of Agathias deserves also to be remembered. This author flourished about the year five hundred, in the reign of the Emperor Justinian; the verses are extant in the "Anthologia," and with the translation of them I will conclude the praises of our author; having first admonished you, that they are supposed to be written on a statue erected by the Romans to his memory:
Σεῖο πολυκλήεντα τύπον στήσαντο Χερωνεῦ
Ουδὲ σύγ ̓ ἂν γράψαις, οὐ γὰρ ὅμοιον ἔχεις.
Cheronean Plutarch, to thy deathless praise
(Their heroes written, and their lives compared ;) But thou thyself could'st never write thy own; Their lives have parallels, but thine has none.
SPECIMEN OF THE TRANSLATION
HISTORY OF THE LEAGUE.
HISTORY OF THE LEAGUE.
THE reader must recall to his mind the state of parties during the last years of Charles the Second's reign, to which so many allusions have been made in the notes upon "Absalom and Achitophel," and "The Medal." The flight of Shaftesbury, and the discovery of the Rye-house conspiracy, had been deep wounds to the credit of the Whigs. The wealthy part of the nation dreaded a party, whose chief support was in the riotous mob of London; and men of principle, while they felt the severity of a government which seemed approaching towards despotism, abhorred the assassination which a part at least of the popular leaders had meditated as a remedy. The king, meanwhile, was anxious to keep the advantage he had gained, and to stigmatize his adversaries as leagued together against him upon principles inimical to all kingly governments. For this purpose, Dryden was employed to translate from the French of the Jesuit Maimbourg, the "History of the League," a work undertaken in France under the auspices of Louis XIV. The evident intention of bringing out this translation at the time when it appeared, was to increase the unpopularity of the Whigs, by ascribing to the association which Shaftesbury had proposed, the same motives and principles which actuated the members of the League, and plunged France into the long and bloody civil war between their kings and the house of Guise. Dryden had already drawn such a parallel in the play called the "Duke of Guise," which he wrote in conjunction with Lee. The intended parallel be
• Our play's a parallel; the Holy League
Begot our Covenant; Guisards got the Whig. Our intention, therefore, was to make a parallel betwixt the Holy League plotted by the house of
tween the faction of the League in France, and that of the Solemn League and Covenant, and afterwards of the Whigs in England, was avowed in the first lines of the prologue,* and more largely in the vindication of the play, which Dryden published shortly after its appearance.† Maimbourg, on the other hand, from whose work the translation was made, was not only a zealous royalist, but a professed enemy of the Hugue nots, and had written a history of their religion calculated to place it in the most odious point of view. There was, therefore, to be found in his "History of the League," not only an accurate and terrifying account of that famous combination, but many hints towards completing the
allel to be deduced betwixt the principles of the Guisards and those of the Calvinists. With
this intention, and under the immediate auspices of the king, the work was translated and published.
The title-page bears, that the translation was made according to his majesty's command; and the frontispiece represents Charles enthroned in state; Justice is seated upon one side, and upon the other is a view of a harbour, with two lighthouses, and a fleet in sail. A hand from heaven is about to place on the king's head an imperial crown, from which glances a ray of light, bearing the motto, Per me reges regnant. In front, are the lords temporal and spiritual, assembled before the throne, in a dutiful posture, and at their feet a scroll, on which is written, Sibi et successoribus suis legitimis, in allusion to the celebrated Exclusion Bill.
Guise and its adherents, with the Covenant plotted by the rebels in the time of Charles I. and those of the New Association, which was the spawn of the Old Covenant."
TO THE KING.
HAVING received the honour of your majesty's commands to translate the "History of the League," I have applied myself, with my utmost diligence, to obey them: First, by a thorough understanding of my author, in which I was assisted by my former knowledge of the French history in general, and, in particular, of those very transactions which he has so faithfully and judiciously related; then by giving his thoughts the same beauty in our language which they had in the original, and, which I most of all endeavoured, the same force and perspicuity: both of which, I hope, I have performed with some exactness, and without any considerable mistake. But of this your majesty is the truest judge, who are so great a master of the original; and who, having read this piece when it was first published, can easily find out my failings, but, to my comfort, can more easily forgive them. I confess, I could never have laid hold on that virtue of your royal clemency at a more unseasonable time; when your enemies have so far abused it, that pardons are grown dangerous to your safety, and consequently to the welfare of your loyal subjects. But frequent forgiveness is their encouragement; they have the sanctuary in their eye before they attempt the crime, and take all measures of security, either not to need a pardon, if they strike the blow, or to have it granted, if they fail. Upon the whole matter, your majesty is not upon equal terms with them; you are still forgiving, and they still designing against your sacred life; your principle is mercy, theirs inveterate malice; when one only wards, and the other strikes, the prospect is sad on the defensive side. Hercules, as the poet tells us, had no advantage on Antæus, by his often throwing him on the ground; for he laid him only in his mother's lap, which, in effect, was but doubling his strength to renew the combat. These sons of earth are never to be trusted in their mother-element; they must be
hoisted into the air, and strangled.* If the experiment of clemency were new; if it had not been often tried without effect, or rather with effects quite contrary to the intentions of your goodness, your loyal subjects are generous enough to pity their countrymen, though offenders: but when that pity has been always found to draw into example of greater mischiefs; when they continually behold both your majesty and themselves exposed to dangers; the church, the government, the succession, still threatened; ingratitude, so far from being converted by gentle means, that it is turned at last into the nature of the damned, desirous of revenge, and hardened in impenitence,—it is time, at length, for self-preservation to cry out for justice, and to lay by mildness, when it ceases to be a virtue. Almighty God has hitherto miraculously preserved you; but who knows how long the miracle will continue? His ordinary operations are by second causes; and then reason will conclude, that to be preserved, we ought to use the lawful means of preservation. If, on the other side, it be thus argued, that, of many attempts, one may possibly take place, if preventing justice be not employed against offenders; what remains, but that we implore the divine assistance to avert that judgment; which is no more than to desire of God to work another and another, and, in conclusion, a whole series of miracles. This, sir, is the general voice of all true Englishmen ; I might call it the loyal address of three nations infinitely solicitous of your safety, which includes their own prosperity. It is, indeed, a high presumption for a man so inconsiderable as I am