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achievements is improved to the general advantage : they undertake hazards and labor for the government, when it is justly administered ; when innocence is safe, and virtue honored; when no man is distinguished from the vulgar, but such as have distinguished themselves by the bravery of their actions; when no honor is thought to great for those who do it eminently, unless it be such as cannot be communicated to others of equal merit; they do not spare their persons, purses, or friends, when the public powers are employed for the public benefit, and imprint the like affections in their children from their infancy. The discipline of obedience, in which the Romans were bred, taught them to command : and few were admitted to the magistracies of inferior rank, till they had given such proof of their virtue as might deserve the supreme. Cincinnatus, Camillus, Papirius, Fabius Maximus, were not made dictators that they might learn the duties of the office, but because they were judged to be of such wisdom, valor, integrity, and experience, that they might be safely trusted with the bighest powers; and, whilst the law reigned, not one was advanced to that honor who did not fully answer what was expected from him. By this means the city was so replenished with men fit for the greatest employments, that even in its infancy, when three hundred and six of the Fabii were killed in one day, the city did lament the loss, but was not so weakened to give any advantage to their enemies : and when every one of those who had been eminent before the second Punic war, Fabius Maximus only excepted, had perished in it, others arose in their places, who surpassed them in number, and were equal to them in virtue. The city was a perpetual spring of such men, as long as liberty lasted ; but that was no sooner overthrown, that virtue was torn up by the roots : the people became base and sordid; the small remains of the nobility slothful and effcminate; and, their Italian associates becoming like to them, the empire, whilst it stood, was only sustained by the strength of foreigners.
The Grecian virtue had the same fate, and expired with liberty: instead of such soldiers as in their time had no equals, and such generals of armies and fleets, legislators and governors, as all suc ceeding ages have justly admired, they sent out swarms of fiddlers, jesters, chariot-drivers, players, bawds, flatterers, ministers, of the most impure lusts; or idle, babbling, hypocritical philos. ophers, not much better than they. The emperor's courts were always crowded with this vermin; and, notwithstanding the pretended necessity that princes must needs understand matters of government better than magistrates annually chosen, they did for the most part prove so brutish as to give themselves and the world to be governed by such as these, and that without any great prejudice, since none could be found more ignorant, lewd, and base, than themselves.
It is absurd to impute this to the change of times; for time changes nothing; and nothing was changed in those times, but the government, and that changed all things. This is not accidental, but according to the rules given to nature by God, imposing upon all things a necessity of perpetually following their causes. Fruits are always of the same nature with the seeds and roots from which they come, and trees are known by the fruits they bear : as a man begets a man, and a beast a beast, that society of men which constitutes a government upon the foundation of justice, virtue and the common good, will always have men to promote those ends; and that which intends the advancement of one man's desires and vanity will abound in those that will foment them. All men follow that which seems advantageous to themselves. Such as are bred under a good discipline, and see that all benefits, procured to their country by virtuous actions, redound to the honor and advantage of themselves, their children, friends, and relations, contract, from their infancy, a love to the public, and look upon the common concernments as their own. When they have learnt to be virtuous, and see that virtue is in esteem, they seek no other preferments than such as may be obtained that way; and no country ever wanted great numbers of excellent men, where this method was established. On the other side, when it is evident that the best are despised, hated, or marked out for destruction ; all things calculated to the honor or advantage of one man, who is often the worst, or governed by the worst; honors, riches, commands and dignities disposed by his will, and his favor gained only by a most obsequious respect, or a pretended affection to his person, together with a servile obedience to his
commands—all application to virtuous actions will cease; and, no man caring to render himself or his children worthy of great em• ployments, such as desire to have them will, by little intrigues, corruption, scurrility and flattery, endeavor to make way to them; by which means true merit in a short time comes to be abolished, as fell out in Rome as soon as the Cæsars began to reign.
349.-THE MODERN DRAMATIC POETS.
SHERIDAN KNOWLES. [MR. Knowles is the most prolific dramatic poet of our day; and with reference to stage success, the most popular. It is not that he possesses higher poetical capacity-nicer discrimination of character-a deeper insight into human nature-than his contemporaries; but that his plays will act, and that he constructed them to be acted. Mr. Knowles was an accomplished actor himself, and he thoroughly understood the requirements of the Stage. Let it not be thought, as too many poets have thought, that this knowledge is beneath a great artist. It is the very perfection of Art that its creations should be absolutely and entirely adapted to their use and purpose. Shakspere, and the great Elizabethan dramatists did not write plays to be read; and that is one of the secrets that they actually read better than what are called closetdramas. They are full of warmth and vitality, instead of being cold and statuesque. Mr. Knowles has well studied the old masters of his art, and has caught their ease and naturalness, if not their loftier inspirations. Government have recently granted him a pension, to their own honor; an amateur company of gentlemen, whose eminence in literature and art have rendered their performances unusually attractive, have added largely to a fund for securing an annuity for Mr. Knowles, in connection with the endowment of a Curatorship of Shakspere's House at Stratford, now purchased for the nation; and there is little doubt that the Government, in adding to this endowment, will comply with the universal wish that the honorable office should be first conferred upon the author of Virginius,' “The Hunchback,' and a dozen other successful dramas. The following scene is from The Hunchback.']
Tinsel. Believe me. You shall profit by my training ; You grow a lord apace. I saw you meet
A bevy of your former friends, who fain
Tin, Sir !
Will. A gentleman would see his lordship.
Tin. How know you, sir, his lordship is at home?
(WILLIAMS goes out.
Williams having re-entered.
Do you know
Roch. Right well! I' faith a hearty fellow,
You've said enough!
Tin. A curate's. Better be a yoeman's son!
Roch. We read
Tin. Dropping them-
Will. So please your lordship, I forgot to say,
Tin. Who? Richard Cricket! You must see him, Rochdale
Who is he?
What! never heard
[WILLIAMS goes out. Tin. The ante-room!