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Review Of Memoirs Of The Court Of Augustus
by [?]

“About this time, Brutus had his patience put to the highest trial: he had been married to Clodia; but whether the family did not please him, or whether he was dissatisfied with the lady’s behaviour during his absence, he soon entertained thoughts of a separation. This raised a good deal of talk, and the women of the Clodian family inveighed bitterly against Brutus–but he married Portia, who was worthy of such a father as M. Cato, and such a husband as M. Brutus. She had a soul capable of an exalted passion, and found a proper object to raise and give it a sanction; she did not only love but adored her husband; his worth, his truth, his every shining and heroic quality, made her gaze on him like a god, while the endearing returns of esteem and tenderness she met with, brought her joy, her pride, her every wish to centre in her beloved Brutus.”

When the reader has been awakened by this rapturous preparation, he hears the whole story of Portia in the same luxuriant style, till she breathed out her last, a little before the bloody proscription, and “Brutus complained heavily of his friends at Rome, as not having paid due attention to his lady in the declining state of her health.”

He is a great lover of modern terms. His senators and their wives are gentlemen and ladies. In this review of Brutus’s army, who was under the command of gallant men, not braver officers than true patriots, he tells us, “that Sextus, the questor, was paymaster, secretary at war, and commissary general; and that the sacred discipline of the Romans required the closest connexion, like that of father and son, to subsist between the general of an army and his questor. Cicero was general of the cavalry, and the next general officer was Flavius, master of Ihe artillery, the elder Lentulus was admiral, and the younger rode in the band of volunteers; under these the tribunes, with many others, too tedious to name.” Lentulus, however, was but a subordinate officer; for we are informed afterwards, that the Romans had made Sextus Pompeius lord high admiral in all the seas of their dominions. Among other affectations of this writer, is a furious and unnecessary zeal for liberty; or rather, for one form of government as preferable to another. This, indeed, might be suffered, because political institution is a subject in which men have always differed, and, if they continue to obey their lawful governours, and attempt not to make innovations, for the sake of their favourite schemes, they may differ for ever, without any just reproach from one another. But who can bear the hardy champion, who ventures nothing? who, in full security, undertakes the defence of the assassination of Cassar, and declares his resolution to speak plain? Yet let not just sentiments be overlooked: he has justly observed, that the greater part of mankind will be naturally prejudiced against Brutus, for all feel the benefits of private friendship; but few can discern the advantages of a well-constituted government [2].

We know not whether some apology may not be necessary for the distance between the first account of this book and its continuation. The truth is, that this work, not being forced upon our attention by much publick applause or censure, was sometimes neglected, and sometimes forgotten; nor would it, perhaps, have been now resumed, but that we might avoid to disappoint our readers by an abrupt desertion of any subject.

It is not our design to criticise the facts of this history, but the style; not the veracity, but the address of the writer; for, an account of the ancient Romans, as it cannot nearly interest any present reader, and must be drawn from writings that have been long known, can owe its value only to the language in which it is delivered, and the reflections with which it is accompanied. Dr. Blackwell, however, seems to have heated his imagination, so as to be much affected with every event, and to believe that he can affect others. Enthusiasm is, indeed, sufficiently contagious; but I never found any of his readers much enamoured of the glorious Pompey, the patriot approv’d, or much incensed against the lawless Caesar, whom this author, probably, stabs every day and night in his sleeping or waking dreams.