Front Page Titles (by Subject) SECT. V.: Considerations upon Two distinguished Romans, Cato and Cæsar; one in the Interest of his Country, the other in his own Interest: With the Fate and Issue of Cæsar's Ambition, to himself and his Race. - The Works of Sallust (Gordon's Discourses, Cicero's Orations against Catiline)
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SECT. V.: Considerations upon Two distinguished Romans, Cato and Cæsar; one in the Interest of his Country, the other in his own Interest: With the Fate and Issue of Cæsar’s Ambition, to himself and his Race. - Gaius Sallustius Crispus (Sallust), The Works of Sallust (Gordon’s Discourses, Cicero’s Orations against Catiline) 
The Works of Sallust, translated into English with Political Discourses upon that Author. To which is added, a translation of Cicero’s Four Orations against Catiline (London: R. Ware, 1744).
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Considerations upon Two distinguished Romans, Cato and Cæsar; one in the Interest of his Country, the other in his own Interest: With the Fate and Issue of Cæsar’s Ambition, to himself and his Race.
I SHALL finish this Discourse with some Observations upon Two famous Romans, Cato and Cæsar; the first falling by his own Hands, rather than suffer or see the public Bondage; the second by the Hands of others, for having introduced it. Their Characters are drawn ingeniously by Sallust; but not fully. He owns, that, in their Age, Lineage, and Eloquence, there was a near Resemblance; that they possessed equal Greatness of Mind, and gained equal Glory: But he considers them only as Two great Subjects of a free State, serving it, and thence acquiring Fame by different Ways and Qualities; and omits the grand Difference of all, that the one made it the great Study and Labour of his Life, to save and purify the State; whilst the other strove, with all his Might and Art, to corrupt and overthrow it. Cato contended for public Liberty and Virtue; Cæsar for his own Power; and thence promoted all public Abuses and Corruption. In Cato, all virtuous Men, and every righteous Cause, found a sure Patron and Sanctuary: By Cæsar, the Profligate, the Depraved, and Desperate, with every Traitor, and all traiterous Practices, were protected and cherished. Cato endeavoured to recall antient Probity and Innocence; to reclaim or punish Evil-doers; to secure the Public, by upright Measures; and to transmit Liberty and good Government to Generations to come: Cæsar promoted Dissoluteness and Venality; encouraged public Criminals; embroiled, and debauched, and oppressed the State. Cato loved his Country, sought for it, and died for it; and thence left to it an illustrious and affecting Example, of Virtue incorruptible, and of primitive Zeal: Cæsar loved Himself beyond his Country, fought for Himself against his Country, and to Himself enslaved his Country: He intailed Bondage upon That and succeeding Ages; and left a Race of Successors truly worthy of the Inheritance of Tyranny; a Race who were the Scourge and Shame of human Nature, the Pests and Butchers of the Romans, and of all Men.
Such, literally, were the Doings and Character of thy boasted Cæsar, O Rome; these his Atchievments, this his Legacy! If all this make him not a Parricide, the highest Parricide, the Meaning of Words is inverted, Truth and Reason have lost their Course, and Guilt and Innocence are no more. Did he not fill thee, Rome, and all thy wide Regions, with Blood, and Woe, and Chains? He spoke well, he fought well; but for whose sake? and who reaped the Benefit? Was not the Benefit His; the Expence, the Pain, and Sorrow, Thine? Over Thee and thy Liberties was his last Triumph.
Rather boast a Patriot; thy Patriot Cato; one who was a Foe to Thy Foes, thy best Champion, thy true Prophet; one who forewarned thee of all thy impending Calamities; struggled to avert them; and perished, rather than behold them(a) . This is Fame indeed; genuine Fame; great, immortal, and unallayed. Whatever Exploits Cæsar did, whatever fine Qualities he had, still he enslaved his Country; a Consideration that tarnishes and frustrates all his Praise. Cicero treats him as a Madman, and a wretched Being, who had never the least Notion of genuine Glory. Amentem & miserum, qui ne umbram quidem unquam τȣ͂ ϰαλȣ͂ viderit. ‘Does he (says Cicero) do all these Things for the sake of his Honour? Where is his Honour; where his Virtue and Justice? To hold an Army from the Public against the Public? To seize the municipal Cities, in order to usurp Rome itself, and enslave his Country? To cancel all Debts; to pardon all Criminals; to commit a thousand Outrages; all to arrive at Tyranny, which is his highest Deity?’ All this, in the Opinion of that great Roman Patriot and Luminary, was to be most miserable, as well as most wicked; and his great Success was but great Guilt.
Nothing was ever more shameless than his Demands, in order to an Accommodation; in which, however, he was never sincere. I must again borrow the Reasoning of Cicero. ‘How? Grant him what he asks with such enormous Impudence! For, what is more impudent, O Cæsar! Thou hast holden the Province Ten Years; a Term not given thee by the Senate, but given thee by Thyself, and the Force of Faction. Even this Term, one measured not by the Law, but thy own Lust, is elapsed. But grant it to be legitimate: The Senate have decreed thee a Successor. This thou opposest, and criest, Let some Consideration be had for Me. I say, Do Thou have some Consideration for Us. Dost thou keep an Army longer than the Roman People ordained, keep it in Defiance of the Authority of the Senate? There is therefore now no Choice, but either to fight, or to submit.’ In another Letter to Atticus, taking Notice of some plausible Promises from Cæsar, ‘Does Cæsar pretend, says Cicero, to bring good Tidings to all worthy Romans? Where will he find such, unless he hang himself, and go to the other World for them?’
The Clemency of Cæsar is much extolled. In truth, it was absolutely necessary, that he should appear full of Clemency; and therefore it was Policy to proceed by the Ways of Clemency, as long as Clemency would do. He had seen Marius and Sylla detested for their personal Cruelties. But, if mild Methods had failed, will any one say, that a Man, mad with Ambition, would have forgone all his fine Schemes, and ambitious Views, rather than pursue them by Acts of Vengeance and Blood? What Cruelty is so great, as that of making War upon one’s Country, and enslaving it? Did he not do this? Must he not do every thing necessary to such an impious End, even kill and destroy, till he gained it, or was himself destroyed? Would he, who exposed Men to Death and Slaughter by Myriads, have scrupled the Death of Particulars? Did he not tell Cicero roundly, that, if he could not obtain the Concurrence of Cicero and his Friends, he would embrace any Assistance, from whatever Quarter it came, and betake himself to all Courses whatsoever—ad omnia esse descensurum? Did not Curio, his Friend and Adherent, declare of him, that ‘He was not, in his own Nature and Inclination, unpossessed with a Spirit of Cruelty; but thought Clemency a popular Quality; yet, if the Favour of the People failed him, he would certainly prove cruel.’ Cœlius too, the Orator, and a Partizan of Cæsar’s, freely says of him, in a Letter to Cicero, that ‘He meditated nothing but what was Violent and Tragical, nor even spoke in any other Strain.’ Cicero charges him expresly, with a long and constant Design to murder Pompey.
Phalaris, the Tyrant of Agrigentum, whose Name is become proverbial for Cruelty, began his Usurpation with great Mildness, and proceeded in it long: He even manifested great Patience and Forgiveness upon the Discovery of several Attempts and Conspiracies against his Life; but, from the Frequency of such Attempts, he became Vindictive and Bloody, and continued so. He pleaded, ‘That, without being cruel to others, he could not be safe himself.’ A terrible Expedient for Safety, very precarious, and often producing a contrary Effect. Cæsar, in all Probability, must have acted as Phalaris had acted.
Take away Cæsar’s fine Qualities, which, of themselves, merit no Commendation, as he applied them to such evil Purposes, and consider only his Views and Pursuits, which were continually Evil, what a Monster must he appear? Nay, his Crimes are the worse for his fine Qualities. Without doubt, he was a Thousand times worse than Nero, as he did a Thousand times more Mischief to the World. Such Difference does Art, or the Want of it, make in the Characters of Men. Nero wanted Address, to appear a pleasing Devil. Cæsar had it. Besides, it was he, who, by enslaving the Romans, enabled Nero to butcher them.
I shall conclude, with considering the Advantages which this famous Usurper, Cæsar, drew from his Usurpation. It, indeed, cost him very dear: After a troublesome Life, a world of Guilt and Bloodshed, many Perils, and endless Disquiets, he was cut off as a Traitor and a Tyrant. As to Fame and Posterity, he, like all other Usurpers, judged ill about them. From good and wise Men, he, who did such execrable things, in order to the most execrable of All, even the destroying public Liberty, and enslaving his Country, could reap no Fame at all, but eternal Aversion and Reproach: And who would court Fame from the dirty and obscene Rabble?
It fared as ill with his Posterity, as with his Fame. He might, indeed, have left them possessed of great Glory, and a lasting Establishment, by reforming and restoring the State, and thence entailing upon them, and upon all Men, the great Blessing of their antient Liberty. Then, too, his Renown would have been permanent and noble, like that of the first Brutus, and his Descendants, ever dear to the Romans, and ever revered.
This would have been just Ambition, like that recommended by Machiavel, who would have ‘A Prince, or great Man, who aims at Praise and Immortality, to chuse, for the Scene of his Government and Glory, a State which is corrupt and decaying, as one proper for him to rectify and restore.’ This is a Design truly great and princely, benevolent and honourable. Whereas to vitiate and enthral a State, is barbarous, little, and base. Cæsar took not the former virtuous Course; but chose the latter Course, which was altogether impious and destructive, and thence forfeited all just Fame; and, having put Chains upon his Country, left thence a Curse upon his Posterity.
His immediate Successor descended not from him, but from his Sister: He that followed was not of his Family, but left the Empire to one of the Race, where it, however, continued not long. The whole Line, for the most part, proved beastly, bloody, and detested Monsters. Could such contribute to preserve or perpetuate his Fame? They died too, like him, violent Deaths. So little did His or Their overgrown Power serve to secure Him or Them! It, indeed, caused and quickened their tragical Fall. In a few Reigns, all bloody, unfortunate, and accursed, or rather, in a few Years, the Imperial Diadem was rent from his Family for ever. That horrible Cannibal Nero, was the last of it. Augustus, more bloody than he, was the first; I mean, after Julius. The Three who intervened, worthy Depositaries of the Name and Power of Cæsar, were, like the last, the Curse, the Scandal, and the Executioners of human Kind.
But, besides the bloody Fate, regularly overtaking every one of his Family, who wore the Purple, the rest, and the unreigning Branches, were continual Objects of the Jealousy and Cruelty of Him that reigned, who was ever constantly cutting off all of the same Stock, who were conspicuous for Parts, or Person, or Wealth, or any other Advantages, personal or accidental; nay, often only for being of that Stock.
This therefore is the mighty Issue of the mighty Cæsar’s Ambition. To his Country he procured Bondage, and utter Ruin; to Himself, and his Race, a Series of Slaughters, till they had all finally perished, together with the Curses, and universal Hate, of human Kind. These were the Doings, this the Merit of the great Cæsar, one so extolled for his Conduct, for the Wariness of his Measures, and his great Success! He was, indeed, very Artful, as well as very Brave and Successful, in bringing certain Destruction upon Himself, his Country, and his Lineage. For, in short, this was the real Result of all his Policy, of all his Plots, and Eloquence, and Heroism. Was This to be Amiable, This to be Fortunate and Wise?
Is it not natural to ask, How could such a Character be admired? How such a Man be popular? Yet Cæsar was popular; He gained all his Power by his Popularity; he gained all his Popularity by acting the Patriot; and usurped Patriotism on purpose to usurp the Empire: Nor was this Proceeding peculiar to Cæsar: It was the constant Art and Armour of all preceding Parricides, and by it they covered and recommended themselves, always with too much Success, to the credulous Many. In truth, the Efforts, and Frauds, and Management of such Parricides, (for many such there were) make a great Part of the Roman History, from the Foundation of the Republic, to the last Period of Roman Liberty. Cæsar had Parts equal to any of them, though not superior to some of them, with greater Opportunities, and more Success. They had all pretended to be public Benefactors, warm Advocates for the People, zealous Patrons of Liberty. Their fair Professions, false Bounties, and boasted Patriotism, were echoed, with their Names, loudly amongst the Populace: Then followed their popular Direction and Sway, deceitful Speeches, inflammatory Invectives, pleasing and pernicious Laws, with all Attempts to improve popular Phrensy, and, by the Cry of Liberty, to establish Tyranny. Catiline followed the same Road, and perished in it: Cæsar got to the End of it, and perished afterwards. By the Cry and Assistance of the People, he baffled Pompey and the Senate: By an Army, procured for him by the People from the State, he enslaved the People, and usurped the State. He made them giddy with the Sound of Liberty; and, whilst they were under that Infatuation, snatched away the Substance. This had been ever found the safest Way of undermining Liberty; the surest, the most concealed, and most successful Way. Cæsar, that pretended Patriot, that real Parricide, thought it so, and found it so(a) .
Of the Resignation of SYLLA.
[(a) ]Ille ea quæ nunc sunt, & futura viderit; &, ne fierint, contenderit; &, facta ne viderit, vitam reliquerit.
[(a) ]I cannot but here remember, with very singular Pleasure, the Place where this Discourse was composed, many Years ago, (about Ten or a Dozen) at Mr. Bathurst’s House, in Clarendon Park; a fine Place, and a worthy Man! my amiable and accomplished Friend, with whom I have passed many instructive Hours, many pleasant Days and Weeks; a Friend, whom I shall ever highly esteem, and who deserves all Esteem, from all good Englishmen, for every desirable Quality, and every sound and virtuous Principle.