Imágenes de páginas

for the engagement, in constraining the Greeks (notwithstanding their injudicious reluctance) to avail themselves of the advantage, and in influencing Xerxes to a precipitate retreat.' On the other hand, to estimate the importance of Cainillus' achievements, we must place in the balance with Greece Rome, a city already powerful, and destined soon to sway the sceptre of the world: we must consider the cool and steady valour, with which he wrested the ransom of his country from the gripe of her insolent and formidable conqueror; the penetration, with which he always saw and seized the expedient; the address, with which he set fire to the Latin camp, and destroyed their whole army; finally, his last victory over the Gauls, in which, notwithstanding his extreme age, he displayed so much foresight, resolution, and activity and we shall pause, before we venture to pronounce a decisive opinion upon their relative merits. Themistocles too, it ought to be subjoined, at the battle of Salamis had several collegues, particularly Aristides, who might justiy claim a portion of the common glory” : whereas Camillus, in all his labours, stood independent and alone.

Themistocles was principally distinguished by his political talents. With a natural taste for the science of government, he made it his principal study; and was little less useful to Athens by his civil, than by his military services. In the dispute prior to the engagement at Salamis about the command in chief, he not only promptly, as far as concerned his own claim, surrenders the honour in debate, but determines his countrymen likewise to

9 Might it not however almost as probably be inferred, from many passages in Grecian history, that these collegues embarrassed, rather than promoted, 'his measures; and therefore mul. tiplied, rather than divided, his glory ?*

[ocr errors]

make the same patriotic sacrifice to the general weal. He strenuously opposes the project, suggested by the Spartans, of excluding from the Amphictyonic council the delegates of those republics, which had not taken up arms against Xerxes; a project, calculated in it's issue to leave Greece at the disposal of the two or three principal states. Camillus had fewer opportunities of exhibiting his political skill. In this respect, indeed, he was probably inferior to the Athenian leader: the laws however, which under the pressure of circumstances he enacted, were judicious. The plan suggested by Themistocles to the Athenians, of making their principal exertions by sea, has been the subject of much commendation, as one of the chief causes of their subsequent power: it has likewise incurred not less censure, as having eventually contributed to their ruin. It completely changed, without doubt, the military constitution of Athens; and Plato reproaches it's adviser with having converted excellent soldiers into crews of sailors and marines. This gave the inferior orders too great an ascen- . dency in the government; and, by corrupting the marines, led to the decay of the state. Camillus, in opposing the scheme of the Veian migration, acted with more enlarged views; and by his vigorous resistance evinced as much prudence, as perseverance and intrepidity. His moderation and wisdom he likewise equally evinced in conceding to the people the privilege of a plebeian consul, and thus terminating one of the longest and most perilous dissensions of the commonwealth.

If then his political system had less of comprehension and of finesse, than that of Themistocles, it had more of honour and of virtue. His treatment of the Falerian schoolmaster forms a most striking and creditable contrast with the plan de

vised by the Athenian chieftain of setting fire, in the time of profound peace, to the confederate navy of Greece. Camillus could never have conceived a project, which Aristides would have condemned as not more useful than unjust;' and Themistocles, in Camillus' situation, would probably not have rejected the proposal made to him by the pedagogue of Falerii.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]
[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]
« AnteriorContinuar »