« PreviousContinue »
debts we had contracted, I was soon forced to mortgage, and at last to sell, the best part of my estate; and as it was utterly impossible to keep up the parade any longer, we thought it adviseable to remove on a sudden, to sell our coach in town, and to look out for a new situation, at a greater distance from our acquaintance.
But unfortunately for my peace, I carried the habit of expense along with me, and was very near being reduced to absolute want, when, by the unexpected death of an uncle and his two sons, who died within a few weeks of each other, I succeeded to an estate of seven thousand pounds a year.
And now, Mr. Fitz Adam, both you and your readers will undoubtedly call me a very happy man; and so indeed I was. I set about the regulation of my family, with the most pleasing satisfaction. The splendor of my equipages, the magnificence of my plate, the crowd of servants that attended me, the elegance of my house and furniture, the grandeur of my park and gardens, the luxury of my table, and the court that was every where paid me, gave me inexpressible delight, so long as they were novelties; but no sooner were they become habitual to me, than I lost all manner of relish for them; and I discovered, in a very little time, that by having nothing to wish for, I had nothing to enjoy. My appetite grew palled by satiety, a perpetual crowd of visitors robbed me of all domestic enjoyment, my servants plagued me, and my steward cheated me.
But the curse of greatness did not end here. Daily experience convinced me, that I was compelled to live. more for others than myself. My uncle had been a great party man, and a zealous opposer of all ministerial measures; and as his estate was the largest of any gentleman's in the country, he supported an interest in it beyond any of his competitors. My father had been greatly obliged by the court party, which determined me in gratitude to declare myself on that side; but the difficulties I had to encounter, were too many and too great for me; insomuch that I have been baffled and defeated in almost every thing I have undertaken. To desert the cause I have embarked in, would disgrace me, and to go greater lengths in it, would undo me. I am engaged in a perpetual state of warfare with the principal gentry of the country, and am cursed by my tenants and dependents, for compelling them, at every
election, to vote (as they are pleased to tell me) contrary to their conscience.
My wife and I had once pleased ourselves with the thought of being useful to the neighbourhood, by dealing out our charity to the poor and industrious; but the perpetual hurry in which we live, renders us incapable of looking out for objects ourselves; and the agents we intrust are either pocketing our bounty, or bestowing it on the undeserving. At night, when we retire to rest, we are venting our complaints on the miseries of the day, and praying heartily for the return of that peace, which was the only companion of our humblest situation.
This sir, is my history; and if you give it a place in your paper, it may serve to inculcate this important truththat where pain, sickness and absolute want, are out of the question, no external change of circumstances can make a man more lastingly happy than he was before. It is to the ignorance of this truth, that the universal dissatisfaction of mankind is principally to be ascribed. Care is the lot of life; and he that aspires to greatness in hopes to get rid of it, is like one who throws himself into a furnace to avoid the shivering of an ague.
The only satisfaction I can enjoy in my present situation is, that it has not pleased heaven, in its wrath, to make me a king.
V.-Battle of Pharsalia, and Death of Pompey.
AS the armies approached, the two generals went from rank to rank encouraging their troops. Pompey represented to his men, that the glorious occasion which they had long besought him to grant, was now before them; "And indeed," cried he, "what advantages could you wish over an enemy, that you are not now possessed of? Your numbers, your vigour, a late victory, all ensure a speedy and au easy conquest over those harrassed and broken troops, composed of men worn out with age, and impressed with the terrors of a recent defeat; but there is a still stronger bulwark for our protection, than the superiority of our strength-the justice of our cause.. You are engaged in the defence of liberty and of your country. You are supported by its laws, and followed by its magistrates. You have the world spectators of your conduct, and wishing you success.—On the contrary, he whom you oppose, is a robber and oppressor of his country, and almost already sunk with the conscious
ness of his crimes, as well as the bad success of his arms. Show, then, on this occasion, all that candour and detestation of tyranny, that should animate Romans, and do justice to mankind." Cæsar, on his side, went among his men with that steady serenity, for which he was so much admired in the midst of danger. He insisted on nothing so strongly, to his soldiers, as his frequent and unsuccessful endeavours for peace. He talked with terror on the blood be was going to shed, and pleaded only the necessity that urged him to it. He deplored the many brave men that were to fall on both sides, and the wounds of his country, whoever should be victorious. His soldiers answered his speech with looks of ardor and impatience; which observing, he gave the signal to begin. The word on Pompey's side, was Hercules the invincible; that on Cæsar's Venus the victorious. There was only so much space between both armies, as to give room for fighting: wherefore, Pompey ordered his men to receive the first shock, without moving out of their places, expecting the enemy's ranks to be put into disorder by their motion. Cæsar's soldiers were now rushing on with their usual inipetuosity, when perceiving the enemy motionless, they all stopt short, as if by general consent, aud halted in the midst of their career. A terrible pause ensued, in which both armies continued to gaze upon each other, with mutual terror. At length Caesar's men, having taken breath, ran furiously upon the enemy, first discharging their javelins, and then drawing their swords. The same method was observed by Pompey's troops, who as vigorously opposed the attack. His cavalry, also, were ordered to charge at the very onset, which, with a multitude of archers and slingers, soon obliged Cæsar's men to give ground; whereupon Cæsar immediately ordered the six cohorts, that were placed as a reinforcement, to advance, with orders to strike at the enemy's faces. This had its desired effect. The cavalry, that were but just now sure of victory, received an immediate check; the unusual method of fighting pursued by the cohorts, their aiming entirely at the visages of the assailants, and the horrible disfiguring wounds they made, all contributed to intimidate them so much, that, instead of defending their persons, their only endeavour was to save their faces. A total rout ensued of their whole body, which fled in great disorder to the neighbouring mountains, while the archers and slingers, who were thus abandoned, were cut to pieces. Cæsar now commanded the cohorts to pur
sue their success, and advancing, charged Pompey's troops upon the flank. This charge the enemy withstood for some time with great bravery, till he brought up his third line, which had not yet engaged. Pompey's infantry, being thus doubly attacked, in front by fresh troops, and in rear by the victorious cohorts, could no longer resist, but fled to their camp. The right wing, however, still valiantly maintained their ground. But Cæsar, being now convinced that the victory was certain, with his usual clemency, cried out, to pursue the strangers, and to spare the Romans; upon which they all laid down their arms, and received quarter. The greatest slaughter was among the auxiliaries, who fled on all quarters, but principally went for safety to the camp. The battle had now lasted from the break of day till noon, although the weather was extremely hot; the conquerors, however, did not remit their ardor, being encouraged by the example of their general, who thought his victory not complete till he became master of the enemy's camp. Accordingly, marching on foot, at their head, he called upon them to follow, and strike the decisive blow. The cohorts which were left to defend the camp, for some time made a formidable resistance, particularly a B great number of Thracians, and other barbarians, who were appointed for its defence; but nothing could resist the ardor of Cæsar's victorious army; they were at last driven from their trenches, and all fled to the mountains, not far off. Cæsar seeing the field and camp strewed with his fallen countrymen, was strongly affected at so melancholy a prospect, and could not help crying out to one that stood near him, "They would have it so." Upon entering the enemy's camp, every object presented fresh instances of the blind presumption and madness of his adversaries. On all sides were to be seen tents adorned with ivy, and branches of myrtles, couches covered with purple, and sideboards loaded with plate. Every thing gave proofs of the highest luxury, and seemed rather the preparatives for a banquet, the rejoicings for a victory, than the dispositions for a battle.
As for Pompey, who had formerly shown such instances of courage and conduct, when he saw his cavalry routed, on which he had placed his sole dependence, he absolutely lost his reason. Instead of thinking how to remedy this disorder, by rallying such troops as fled, or by opposing fresh troops to stop the progress of the conquerors, being
totally amazed by this unexpected blow, he returned to the camp, and in his tent, waited the issue of an event, which it was his duty to direct, not to follow. There he remained for some moments, without speaking; till being told that the camp was attacked, "What," says he, "are we pursued to our very entrenchments ?" And immediately quitting his armor, for a habit more suitable to his circumstances, he fled on horseback; giving way to all the agonizing reflections which his deplorable situation must naturally suggest. In this melancholy manner he passed along the vale of Tempe, and pursuing the course of the river Penens, at last arrived at a fisherman's hut, in which he passed the night. From thence he went on board a little bark, and keeping along the sea shore, he descried a ship of some burden, which seemed preparing to sail, in which he embarked, the master of the vessel, stili paying him the homage that was due to his former station. From the mouth of the river Peneus he sailed to Amphipolis; where finding his affairs desperate, he steered to Lesbos, to take in his wife Cornelia, whom he had left there, at a distance from the dangers and hurry of war. She, who had long flattered herself with the hopes of victory, felt the reverse of her fortune, in an agony of distress. She was desired by the messenger (whose tears, more than words, proclaimed the greatness of her misfortunes) to hasten, if she expected to see Pompey, with but one ship, and even that not his own. Her grief, which before was violent, became now insupportable; she fainted away, and lay a considerable time. without any signs of life. At length, recovering herself, and reflecting that it was now no time for vain lementations, she ran quite through the city to the sea-side. Pompey embraced her without speaking a word, and for some time supported her in his arms in silent despair.
Having taken in Cornelia, he now, continued his course, steering to the south-east, and stopping no longer than was necessary to take in provisions, at the ports that occurred in his passage. He was at last prevailed upon to apply to Ptolemy, king of Egypt, to whose father Pompey had been a considerable benefactor. Ptolemy, who was as yet a minor, had not the government in his own hands, but he and his kingdom were under the direction of Phontinus, an eunuch, and Theodotus, a master of the art of speaking These advised, that Pompey should be invited on shore, and there slain; and accordingly, Achilles, the command