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literary associations. They will see that emulation, the powerful spring of all human aims at excellence, has, in this instance, a more than ordinary effect, and will conclude it to be for the interest of science and humanity, to encourage that most honest of every species of ambition, the ambition of fuperiority in the various classes of learning.
Dark researches, indeed, where conjecture only flatters the pursuit, and abstracted speculations, where the imagination, like the dove in the deluge, has not where to place her foot, can do but little service in the promotion of real knowledge, and can only serve to prey upon those hours that are never to return.
Yet even amusements of this kind are not altogether to be condemned, while there are men to whose happiness they contribute; and those inquisitions into antiquity must be barren indeed, that do not meet with some marks of genius, or some ray of moral truth.
Many of both are to be found in the history of this Academy, and not a few in the volumes before us.
The historical part, which is contained in the thirty-fourth volume, consists of the following articles.
I. Remarks on some Pallages in the Text of the Cyropædia of Xenophon.
II. On the Dress and Lotions of the Heathen Divinities,
* Lucian and Apuleius were cotemporaries, and lived in the
tice, than as they throw light on the manners of the times, V]. On a Greek Romance, entitled the Babylonics.
* This piece is preserved by Photius. It is of the same stamp with the former, A'ridiculous drama of witches, conjurers, vagabonds, and the like. In the second century of our era, the Greek talte was wretched. It was the dotage of Greece, and hardly any of their authors are worth attending to, excepe Heliodorus, Longus, and por
sibly one or two nore. VII. An Enquiry concerning those Authors from whom Parthenius has drawa his Narrations. VIII. A Memoir on the ancient History of the Indians.
A long, laborious dream. IX. Observations on a Pallage in Plautus, that has some Relation to the History of Sicily.
X. Memoirs of Marcus Valerius Meffala, the Friend of Augustus, a Man of Letters, and a Patron of learned Men. Of this article we shall take farther notice.
XI. Observations on the Respect which the Romans entertained for Religion, together with an Enquiry how far they carried the Liberty of Toleration.
XII On the Alphaltic Lake, or the Dead Sea.
XIII. Remarks on the necessity of Citations in Works of Erudition, and on the Manner in which the Ancients cited.
XIV. Memoirs of Marius, Bishop of Avenches, Author of the most ancient Chronicle of France.
XV. Remarks on the two laft French Translations of Virgil.
XVI. Critical Observations on the Abbé de Foy's Notice des Diplomes.
XVII. Devices, Infcriprions, and Medals, made for the Academy.
Such are the contents of the historical part, from which we Thall extract some memoirs of Melfala. Our curiofity is natusally excited by any account of a person who was the friend of Horace, Ovid, and Tibullus, even though he had never been the friend of Augustus.
The Valerian family were distinguished in the earliest times of Rome. They acquired (wo surnames, Corvus, or Corviaus, and Mefiala. The former was given to the famous Valerius, who fought in fingle combat with the gigantic Gaul, in the year of Rome 405; the latter to another of the Valerii, on taking the city of Messina in Sicily.
Marcus Valerius Meffala Corvinus, defcended from this family, was born in the year of Rome 695, fifty-nine years before the Chriftian era, the same year in which Livy was born.
• Eloquence was then in high estimation, and Meffala, who turned his ftudies more particularly to it, stood in the first rank of orators. Horace gives him the epithet of difertus, the eloguent; and places him in that rank:
.Confultus juris et ator
Sid tamen in pretio eft
Beneath, may be a ufeful council fill.
Tibullus represents him as having the principal influence at the bar, and deciding the fate of the accused by the force of his eloquence :
Nam quis te majera gerit castriske forove?
Sui piuccarda, tuis poterit mitejcere verbis,
« Tiberius chofe him for his master and his model. In oratione Latina, says Suetonius, fecutus eft Corvinum Meffalam quem fenem observaverat.
• Pliny gives him a high eulogium. Quintilian celebrates him for his purity and perfpicuity. The author of the book De caufis corruptæ eloquentiæ, compares him with Cicero, and, in some respects, gives bim the preference to the prince of orators. Cicerone mitior Corvinus, et dulcior, et in verbis magis elaboratus. He has been sometimes censured for beginning all his exordiums with complaint of his health.
• Meffala, as was usual with the Romans, was both a lawyer and a soldier. We know but little of his first campaigns. We only know that he mentions, with a good deal of complacency, his having the honour to serve under Callius the friend of Brutus. He was fond of speaking of his general. Meljala Corvinus imperatorem suum Cassium prædicabat. It is evident from hence, that he was of the republican party, till such time as it was destroyed by the Triumvirates, and on this account he was included in that execrable profcription which deprived the world of Cicero, and of the most respectable people in Rome. He had the good fortune, however, to escape the fury of those who sought his life; and in the end he obtained the protection of Auguftus, who was sensible of his merit, gave him a principal place in his friendship, and raised him to the highest honours.
6.Messala adhered to the party of Brutus and Cassius till those great men were no more; but afterwards, when it was obvious that the republic had no other resources, he joined O&avius, and his attachment to him ended only with his life. This we have from Velleius Paterculus, who is curious on the subject. Protinus Mefjala, fulgentiffimus juvenis, proximus in illis caftris Bruti Cafiique auctoritati, cum effent qui eum ducem pofcerent, fervari beneficio Cæfaris maluit, quam dubiam fpem armorum amplius tentare : nec aut Cæfari quidquam ex victoriis fuis fuit lætius quam servasse Corvinum : aut inajus exemplum hominis grati ac pii, quam Corvinus in Cæfarem fuit.
• O&avius immediately procured him the dignity of augur, which his father had enjoyed fifty-five years. An irreconcile. able enmity took place between O&tavius and Antony, and the senare declared for Octavius. Antony, who was to have been consul with Octavius for the year 723, was deprived of that dignity, and Mellala was chosen in his place. This year was the famous battle of Aetium. Meffala accompanied Octavius, and destroyed the remains of Antony's party. It is true that the manner in which he did it does no honour to his good faith, Dion tells us, that Antony and Cleopatra, abandoned by almost all their party, were beaten at Actium ; that the gladiators continued faithful to them, and would not hear of any terms of
accommodation ; but that, after the death of Antony, they capitulated. Didius promised them terms of favour, but Meffala, without respect to that, caused them all to be malfacred.
"After the expiration of his confulship, he took the command in Syria. Tibullus, the poet, was to have accompanied him, but he fell fick by the way, and it was on this occafion that the third elegy of his firft book was written:
Ibitis Ægeas fine me, Meffała, per undas; .
O utinam memores ipfe, coborsque mei.
But think, and bid each soldier think of me, • After commanding in Afia, Meffala was sent into Aquitaine to reduce the people who had revolted there. Aquitaine comprehended all the countries that lay between the Pyrenees, the Rhone, the Loire, and the ocean. Meffala had already given proofs of his valour in the victory he had obtained over the Salassians. We bave no certain detail of what happened in the expedition to Aquitaine. All we know is, that he subdued the people, and triumphed.
Tibullus has celebrated this triumph in feveral parts of his works. We see in the panegyric of Meffala, which begins the fourth volume of the poems of Tibullus, in what military departments that general excelled, and in what countries be gained his victories.
• Six years after the battle of Actium, and two years after the triumph of Meffala, the emperor Auguftus thought proper, to establith a new magiftracy at Rome, under the title of the præfect of Rome, who had power to punilh arbitrarily and without delay, not only flaves, but also disorderly citizens, whom the now and embarrassed progress of justice was not sufficient to keep in awe. In this appointment he placed Meffala, who at the end of fix days quitted it, incivilem poteflatim effe conteslans, alledging that it was an uncitizen-like employment. in Eusebius we read incivilem, and in all the MSS. yet Scaliger would have us read invecilem, ihat is imbecillem Jeje poteftati conteflans, because Meffala was too old to go through the duties of such a troublesome office: on which Mr. Burigny remarks, that Mesala was not yet forty years of age, when this office was conferred upon him, and that it is not to be presumed, that a man of his great talents, who had commanded armies, had not abilities sufficient for an officer of justice. It is more natural to believe that Meffala, brought up in the principles of liberty, was foon disgusted with an employment so despotic, so inconsistent with the laws, which would at the same time alarm the people and the prætors whose power it weakened. re
It is to be concluded then that he resigned this office, because he thought the exercise of it injurious to the liberty of the
citizen, incivilem. But it was necessary that he thould find an excuse to Auguftus, and he represented to him that he did not understand the duties of the office. This is what Tacitus intimates, where he says Mellàla gave up the appointment; quafi nefcius exercendi.
This circumstance of his life must have done him bonoar with those who had yet any affe&tion for the republican form of government. His reputation for integrity was very great, and Causaubon does not doubr bür Perfias had his eye on him in that passage, where after censuring one of the descendants of Melfala, he gives us the portrait of a man of real virtue:
Quin damus id fuperis de magna quod dare lance
Of great Messala s race they cannot find;
And all the sacred mansion of the mind. « Meffala is represented by Tacitus as a man of irreproachable character ; he gave proofs of bis attachment to Augustus, by moving in the senate that he should be styled the father of his coun'ry.
· When he had bidden adieu to public honours, he retired with a very large fortune, and spent the remainder of his life in the study of letters, and in the society of the most illustrious of the learned. • It was after his retreat that Tiberius, who was then
young, cultivated his friendship, and adopted him for his preseptor in the rhetorical studies. His attachment to his master, Augustus, did not make him descend to any courtly meanness; for in his writings he scruples not to do justice to the emperor's greatest enemies.
• Cremutius Cordus, who, under the empire of Tiberius, fell a victim to that generosity with which he had nobly dared to praise Brutus and Cassius, pleaded in his defence the examples of Asinius Pollio, and Meffala. Both the one and the other, said he, notwithstanding the liberties they took in this respect, were loaded with riches and honours. Uterque opibus et honoribus perviguere.
• Tibullus and Horace were the most intimate friends of Meffala. He often visited them to take a frugal and philofophic dinner. Tibullus flattered himself that he would see him at his country seat, where his Delia would be diligent in doing honour to her noble guest: