Page images
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]




[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]





The corresponding circumstances in the rise and progress of OCTAVIUS CÆSAR and WILLIAM Pitt, occurred to the writer, and the leading points of parallel were sketched more than twenty years ago, and although their latter years were widely different, the contrast is no less worthy of regard.

The error of BUONAPARTE, in following the steps of RIENZI, rather than of WASHINGTON, was also noticed when NAPOLEON was in the zenith of his power; and the similarity of their fate was pointed out on his first deposition, when the writer was reminded that a second elevation and reverse was necessary, before the parallel would be deemed complete.

The most prominent features, in both cases, were then present to the writer's mind; but an equally curious coincidence was discovered in minor cases, when their story was minutely traced.

The successful close of a long series of civil wars, and the return of peace and prosperity, forwarded the designs of OCTAVIUS CÆSAR, and gave him an influence with the Roman people, which tended to the consolidation of his power. The termination of a disastrous war with the revolted colonies, and the blessings derived from improving trade and manufactures, strengthened the authority of WILLIAM Pitt; and, increasing his reputation with the British public, led to the accomplishment of his designs.

An obsequious Senate invariably sanctioned the decrees of Octavius CÆSAR, sacrificing their own dignity and the freedom of their country, in compliance with his sovereign will.

A confiding Parliament usually ratified the most obnoxious measures of William Pitt, compromising their own independence, and the general welfare, in subservience to his arbitrary views.


Octavius CÆSAR, entering early into public life, was recommended no less by the celebrity of his uncle, JULIUS CÆSAR, than by his own insinuating manners and address.

William Pitt also, on his first appearance, at an early age, was as much indebted to the high reputation of his father, WILLIAM EARL OF CHATHAM, as to that commanding and persuasive eloquence peculiarly his own,

OCTAVIUS CÆSAR, at first, pretending great zeal for the republic, co-operated strenuously with Cicero against the designs of Antony, and drew the veteran Legions to concur in its defence.

William Pitt, espousing with no less apparent warmth, the cause of his country, joined with Horne Tooke, and other popular leaders, against the prevailing abuses in the representation of the people, and three times moved the House of Commons for their reform.

OCTAVIUS CÆSAR, coalescing afterwards with Antony, turned his arms against the friends of the Republic, and gave up Cicero to the vengeance of an enemy, by whom he was unjustly put to death.

WILLIAM Pitt, with equal alacrity, accepting office with the supporters of the old system, opposed successive motions for a reform in the representation; and acquiesced in the prosecution of Horne Tooke and his adherents, on an unprecedented charge of High-Treason.

OCTAVIUS CÆSAR, on his accession to the sovereign power, preserved the ancient forms of the Constitution; and, under the popular title of Consul, with the authority of Tribune, laid the foundation of an efficient despotism in every department of the State.

WILLIAM Pitt likewise effected repeated violations of the Constitution, under the sanction of the Legislature, and exercised the most despotic authority, as First Lord of the Treasury, and one of the Representatives of the people.

OCTAVIUS CÆSAR, disdaining that pomp and ceremony, which might offend his countrymen without enhancing his real power, preserved in his private life the style of other Senators, whilst he drew the sole administration of the Government, legislative, executive, and judicial, into his own hands.

WILLIAM Pitt, despising for himself all rank and title, which, without extending his authority, might have impaired his influence, maintained the unassuming style of a commoner, whilst directing the councils of his Sovereign with unbounded sway.

OCTAVIUS CÆSAR, with a view to strengthen his authority, invested his nearest connexions with offices of honor and of trust, whilst be ingratiated himself with the soldiers and the people, by distributing his bounty with unsparing hand.

WILLIAM Pitt also promoted his kinsmen to the most efficient and lucrative departments, as the bulwarks of his administration, and sought public favor by the profusion with which he scattered titles, rank, and emoluments, among various classes of society.

By such means OCTAVIUS CÆSAR soon eradicated that love of liberty so long cherished by his countrymen; and, by the seducing influence of some prominent examples, prepared them progressively for the yoke.

By such means too WILLIAM Pitt unnerved the manly character of the ancient gentry, and by the overweening expectations of private interest, narrowed the means of constitutional resistance.

The public corruption thus artfully introduced by OCTAVIUS CÆSAR, eventually destroyed the liberties of Rome, and led the way to those scenes of despotism and depravity which marked the period of her long decline.

The debasing system pertinaciously pursued by WILLIAM Pitt, has increased the influence of the British Crown, and encouraged a total disregard of those just principles of Government, which have long been the basis of its solid fame.

The mischiefs resulting from the errors and misconduct of OCTAVIUS CÆSAR, have long been clearly developed in the degradation and ruin of his country, when every bold exertion was paralysed by the enervating consequences of unbounded sway.

The pernicions policy of William Pitt, involves no less certain ruin to the proud pre-eminence of Britain's Glory, if not counteracted by a timely recurrence to those sounder maxims which be advocated in the dawn of his career.

The body of OCTAVIUS CÆSAR was carried to the funeral pile, on the shoulders of Roman Senators, statues were raised to his memory, and divine honors were decreed to his remains.

The obsequies of WILLIAM Pitt were no less publicly performed, statues still commemorate his achievements, and his principles are idly cherished by selfish or infatuated partizans.

Octavius CÆSAR, however, when he abandoned the cause of the republic, united with the adherents of his own family, against the men by whom his uncle had been publicly assassinated.

But WILLIAM Pitt, by a more flagrant dereliction of principle, entered into the closest alliance with the political enemies of his father, against his own most early and disinterested friends.

OCTAVIUS CÆSAR also, when he attained the object of his ambition, became the patron of literature and the arts; whilst men of liberal and enlarged minds, who had strenuously opposed his advancement, by their genius and acquirements conferred real splendor on his Imperial Court.

William Pitt, however, in the plenitude of his power, regardless of all liberal patronage, allowed the merits and services of his early friends to be forgotten, amidst the promotion of men, by whom his dawning efforts had been most contemptuously opposed.

The sanguinary and perfidious measures, which marked the early progress of OCTAVIUS CÆSAR, no longer sullied his conduct on the attainment of the sovereign power; and after a long and prosperous administration of the Government, he left Rome the mistress of surrounding nations, in the enjoy. ment of a stable peace.

The cold calculating policy of William Pitt, on the contrary, was protracted to the close of his career; for, with the infatuated wish to check the progress of public reformation, he involved his country in a most disastrous war; and after contributing largely to the subjugation of Europe, like another Phaeton, incompetent to guide the chariot of his father,

« PreviousContinue »