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of things is alone right which enters into the spirit and the lofty sentiments of antiquity, and is ever penetrated with those feelings. This is the high calling of the nobility, and therefore no nobility that is not also a nobility of mind will encounter with success the contests of the age.
In Germany, where it took its origin, and especially in Austria, has the aristocratic constitution of modern Europe struck the deepest root. In the great empire of the north, which connects Europe and Asia, everything is rigidly subordinated to an unlimited monarchical sway. In the western countries, originally Roman provinces, the German aristocratic constitution could not take such deep root, but that long before our times, many popular reactions, many attempts to expel or essentially to alter it, actually occurred. In Germany and in Austria lies the chief seat of the old Germanic nobility, and according to the spirit that animates it, will its strength grow or decline. A nobility that were not national, that sought only to be the prop of the throne, and not to be also the chief strength and the flower of the nation, would thereby proclaim its own defectiveness, and, could only be animated by an utterly degenerate spirit.
The destructive poison that in our age is slowly consuming states and peoples as well as individuals, is not merely apathy, selfishness, and insensibility, it is a positive evil,—it is the spirit of falsehood that not only in the writings of the sophists, and in their false enlightenment, but also in public life, in the dealings and conduct of individuals, scatters plague and destruction around. This spirit of falsehood, truth only, the truth full and entire, can subdue. To her we are led by the earnestness of intrepid conviction, and by that higher knowledge which is founded on God, and before which all the vain fanaticism of reason disappears.
CÆSAR AND ALEXANDER;
AN HISTORICAL COMPARISON, 1796.*
WHEN Julius Cæsar, in the capacity of a quæstor, came to Gades in further Spain, and beheld there, not far from the
. * As the idea of the beautiful is the ruling principle and the divinely positive both in the arts and life of the Greek people, and forms the central, vivifying point of all Hellenic civilization, so in like manner it is the idea of the great, which defines everything in the Roman national contest for supremacy as likewise in the historical development of the Roman character. This idea everywhere dominant gives this tone, though in an altered shape, to every period of Rome's history. The great, indeed, belongs more to nature than to art, and it is easy to observe that the Romans, even in that department of the artificially beautiful in which they were the most successful, namely in architecture, carried over this beautiful more into the naturally great. Greatness of character also is founded more upon the force of nature than on the inner sense and life of a moral mind, when such greatness, as was the case with the Romans, does not proceed from a mental disposition, that only seeks what is divine, but maintains itself and martially opens a passage for itself with undaunted firmness in the struggle of rude unnurtured reality. Now, since the Romans by their complete and free development of such a great natural force, as also by their pre-eminent clearness of understanding, stand on precisely the same line with the Greeks, though, it is true, widely separated from them; because that idea of the beautiful, that genuine sense of the artist, in point of fact was never born in the Roman mind; there has hence been always a peculiar historical charm to compare the one nation with the other, or to select congenial characters from both for comparison. The highest summit of such parallels is formed unquestionably by the two great conquerors, to the analysis of whose characters this essay is devoted ; for their historical influence has been, beyond all that resembled them, the most comprehensive and of the most lasting results down to the most recent times. Each of them, too, Cæsar as well as Alexander, marks the decisive epoch of a universal revolution in manners, mind, and mode of thinking, of a totally changed state of things for both nations. The author, at the time when he endeavoured to do justice to his subject, was prompted by a proper appreciation of its importance; but being then still young, he claims indulgence for any youthful embarrassment in the style or mode of discussing the theme, this being his first attempt of the kind.
temple of Hercules, the statue of Alexander the Great, he sighed deeply; he felt a sickening disgust, as it were, at his own torpor, and that he had, as yet, achieved no one glorious act, at an age when Alexander had already subdued the world. He immediately solicited leave of absence, that he might seize in Rome the first opportunity presenting itselt for greater undertakings. Soothsayers found in his dreams of the ensuing night the signs of future undivided empire over the earth ; any eye not purblind could divine his wishes. With this sigh, with this return to Rome, an entirely new period begins in the life of Cæsar, and it extend3 to the passage of the Rubicon.
It was Cæsar himself, therefore, who placed himself by the side of Alexander; and what was more natural than that they should have been since often compared together ?
"For sublimity of conception, rapidity in conquering, endurance in danger," says the precious Velleius (with whom the true Cæsar already begins to merge into the Divus Julius of the later Romans), “ Cæsar, sprung from the noblest race of the Iuli, was the first of his countrymen, so likewise for beauty, talent, and prodigal liberality. His greatness surpassed nature and the belief of mankind; but it strongly resembled that of the great Alexander, when the latter was sober and not in a passion." Plutarch also has introduced this mighty pair among his parallel lives; but liappily for us, in this instance, he has spared us the comparison itself.
Those who are fond of such details may indemnify themselves in Appian, who compares the two conquerors of the world by a tedious long string of similarities, either quite superficial or wholly accidental ; such as only an historical sophist could so ornamentally describe, and so wonderfully explain. Plutarch himself would hardly have surpassed him. By his fondness, indeed, for snapping up every trivial likeness or contrast, such a host of comparisons might have thoroughly disgusted a Plutarch. Thus he remarks, nos without astonishment, among other things, that the four bravest, but craftiest commanders, Philip, Antigonus, Hannibal, and Sertorius, were all of them blind of one eye. We really ought not to be surprised, if the thought had occurred to him of bequeathing to us a parallel history of these four one-eyed heroes.
AN HISTORICAL COMPARISON.
To examine thoroughly the peculiar nature of a great man, it is much rather incumbent upon us to consider him for himself alone, in his connection with what is around him, in his own sphere and age; to confine our view to him, nor allow it to be diverted, at least for the time, by any secondary object. It is all well and good, if we wish to admire upon the whole, but if we desire to appreciate accurately the intrinsic merit or demerit of a hero, it is then very advantageous to throw also into the other scale of the balance some mighty counterpoise. In that case we must not attempt to couple together the productions of different ages. Thus we should never compare the heroes of ancient with those of modern history, since we only incur the danger of losing sight of the essential, if we snap at a vain shadow of resemblance. On deeper investigation, we are sure to light upon original differences, which render all comparison impossible ; for the laws, limits, relations, of ancient and modern civilization, so widely diverge, that we may regard ancient and modern history as two independent worlds, even should they lock into each other. Real merit is everywhere the same, but the standard for estimating it in the ancients and moderns is yet entirely different. Not so with the comparisons between the Greeks and Romans; these are citizens of one and the same world, and the comparison of individuals from among them places in a clearer light the general character of these two ancient nations, whom a common and entire civilization divided so unequally. Hence, also, many of Plutarch's parallels are so fortunate and instructively amusing.
Cæsar and Alexander, a mighty pair; the two mightiest and at the same time worthiest rulers in all antiquity! Both accomplished so much, such an immensity, that we should have to write books upon them, if we wished to portray only what was most remarkable. The proper records for Cæsar's history belong in themselves to the most accomplished writings of antiquity, here is pure unadulterated' gold, and we have not here to part it first from tha dross. On the other hand, the principal sources for the history of Alexander flow so turbid, the traces nearly obliterated at the side are so scattered, and often so imperceptible, that the acumen of the investigator is by this very circumstance excited. If we would not here simply repeat what has been already so often said, we must either be discursive in the extreme, or very concise. I have preferred brevity, and shall only observe the most important features. I shall give only a judgment with examples, not a history.
- “Cæsar," said Cato, “has alone amongst all plotted to overthrow the state with sober deliberation." Cato was porhaps the only one of his time who saw through the grand enemy with the same sober reflection. Even as a youth Cæsar had this clear-headed penetration, nor was he to be dazzled by the most glittering appearance. He happened to be in Asia when he heard of Sylla's death, and he hastened back with all speed to Rome, building his hopes on the new schism created by Lepidus. Although enticed by great conditions, he nevertheless formed no connection with Lepidus, partly because he did not trust to the skill of that person, partly because he did not find the occasion so favourable as he had expected. During the maturity of his manhood he had learned to wait cautiously both for the opportunity and the moment, then to seize it rapidly and resolved, to use it also completely, and in this he was unmatched. He fought his battles not merely after a plan, but also when quite unprepared, whenever a favourable opportunity suddenly presented itself, often in spite of fatigue and weather, for the purpose of taking his enemy more unawares. It is doubtful whether he was bolder or more prudent. At the fitting moment he dared what was most desperate, but he never prodigally wasted his valour. He reserved it for those cases where his men required such excitement, and he would send away the horses, his own first, to deprive even, himself of the means of flight. Then his example, more. effective from its very rarity, and especially the equality of danger, did wonders. The most appalling danger never robbed him of his presence of mind, unexampled constant success never made him heedless and over-confident in war.. On the contrary, he gained his most brilliant victories precisely when all believed him inevitably lost; the oftener he conquered, the more reserved he was on coming to an action. In short, not a single instance will be found of his having neglected the right moment, or only partially profited by it, or of being found unprepared and irresolute when that moment arrived. This was so natural to him, that the contrary