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rule, are really, though unintentionally, pursuing the same course as those who attempt by another rule to justify tyrannicide in general. Both alike are mooting extreme cases."*
If Coleridge's allegation be correct, that the honour or disrespect with which the name of Brutus is spoken of, is an historic criterion of a noble or a base age, ours, as infected by the Niebuhrs, De Quinceys, Longs, and Merivales, who pronounce so peremptorily against Marcus Junius, can be none of the noblest.
But leaving aside the verdict of the moderns, let us ask if the ancients were quite so unanimous in their enthusiasm as Coleridge makes them appear to be. An excellent summary of their views on the vexed question may be found towards the close of Mr. Merivale's second volume. His report is, that the judgment of the ancients upon this famous deed varied according to their interests and prejudices. If, indeed, the republic had been permanently re-established, its saviour would have been hailed, perhaps, with unmingled applause, and commanded the favour of the Romans to a late posterity. Cicero, though he might have shrunk from participating in the deed, deemed it expedient to justify it, and saluted its authors in exulting accents, as tyrannicides and deliverers.† But the courtiers of the later Cæsars denounced it as a murder, or passed it over in significant silence. Virgil, who ventures to pay a noble compliment to Cato, and glories in the eternal punishment of Catiline, bestows not a word on the exploit of Brutus. Even Lucan, who beholds in it a stately sacrifice to the gods, admits the detestation with which it was generally regarded.§ Augustus, indeed, wisely tolerant, allowed Messala to speak in praise of Cassius; but Tiberius would not suffer Cremutius to call him with impunity the last of the Romans.|| Velleius, Seneca, and, above all, Valerius Maximus, express their abhorrence of the murder in energetic and manly tones. It was the mortification, they said, of the conspirators at their victim's superiority, their disappointment at the slowness with which the stream of honours flowed to them, their envy, their vanity, anything rather than their patriotism, that impelled them to it.T
"The Greek writers [Dion, Appian, &c.], who had less of prejudice to urge them to palliate the deed, speak of it without reserve as a monstrous and hateful atrocity. Again, while Tacitus casts a philosophic glance on the opinions of others, and abstains from passing any judgment of his own, Suetonius, in saying that Cæsar perished by a just retribution, imputes to him no legal crime, nor extenuates the guilt of his assassins. From Livy and Florus, and the epitomiser of Trogus, we may infer that the sentiments expressed by Plutarch were the same which the most reasonable of the Romans generally adopted; the moralising sage declared that the disorders of the body politic required the establishment of monarchy, and that Cæsar was sent by Providence, as the mildest physician, for its conservation."**
*This was published in the Courier of July 2, 1811. Reprinted in vol. iii. of Coleridge's Essays on His Own Times.
Cic. ad Att., XIV. 4, 6, 14, Philipp. I. 14, De Offic. I. 31, II. 7, III. 4.
Lucan, VII. 596; cf. VI. 791, and VIII. 609.
Tacit. Ann., IV. 34.
¶ Vell., II. 56; Seneca de Ira, III. 30; Val. Max., I. 7, 2, III. 1, 3, &c.
** Dion, XLIV. 1, 20, 21, &c.; Appian, B. C. IV. 134; Suet. Jul., 76; Seneca, Qu. Nat., V. 18; Flor., ÍV. 2, 92; Eutrop., VI. fin.; Plut. Cæs., 69 (Merivale, II. xxii.).
On the whole, is the retrospective reviewer's conclusion, when we consider the vices of the times, and the general laxity of principle justly ascribed to the later ages of Greek and Roman heathenism, it is interesting to observe how little sympathy was extended by antiquity to an exploit which appealed so boldly to it.*
As with his act of tyrannicide, so that of suicide on the part of Brutus, has been diversely rated by critics and casuists not a few. The circumstances of it tend to favour scrutiny and stricture. Montaigne complains that Brutus and Cassius threw away the remains of the Roman liberty, of which they were the sole protectors, by the precipitation and temerity wherewith they killed themselves before the proper time and occasion.† Cato, remarks M. Saint-Marc Girardin, in his exposé of Stoicism, Cato slew himself to prevent his being made a slave of; Brutus, because he despaired of virtue. Both of them made the sacrifice rather for their personal honour than for their country's liberty. "C'est là le malheur ou la faiblesse de la philosophie stoïcienne. Elle élève l'homme, mais il semble qu'en l'elevant audessus du monde, elle l'en sépare et le rend inutile aux hommes." With the deaths of Cato and Brutus may be said to have commenced at Rome the history of stoical philosophy :§ they are the proto-martyrs of stoicism, and their martyrdom unavailing.
One word more upon Brutus's dying apostrophe to Virtue. We have seen how Mr. Ralph Waldo Emerson, the mystic anythingarian,-let us see how M. Jules Simon, the apostle of natural religion,-regards that exceeding bitter cry. Voilà Brutus arrivé au dernier moment de sa vie. He dies vanquished, and, seeing with his eyes the triumph of Octavius, he cries, "Virtue, thou art nothing but a name." It is an imprecation that escapes his lips, and that history has too greedily grasped at: this single word, if deliberately uttered, blights a whole life of devotion and sacrifice to duty. It was worthy of the soul of Brutus, continues the Philosopher of Duty, to love virtue for itself alone, without hope of recompense. The virtue which asks for a salary, changes its name, and must be called good management (habilité) instead; even when the salary is indefinitely deferred, the virtue that has bargained for it has only been negotiating a bill with a long term to run. Had the masters and martyrs of Stoicism come forth from their graves to assist, in M. Simon's phrase. at the last moments of Marcus Junius,-had they appeared within his tent (as, on the eve of Philippi, Cæsar had seemed to do),-this one in the garb of a slave, that one with the instruments of the torture he had undergone, they would have repudiated this pseudo-stoic, ce faux stoïcien, who reckoned himself beaten and lost because fortune sided with vice against virtue. Was it for this mode of estimating virtue versus vice, that he had embraced the philosophy of the Porch? Had Zeno promised him riches and dominion? It was just when virtue displayed herself to him avec un cortège de ruines that Brutus ought to have fallen down and worshipped her. He should have recognised her at once by this august sign. "Sa mort avec une telle parole est indigne de sa vie.”||
* See Merivale, Hist. of the Romans under the Empire, vol. ii. pp. 490 sqq. † Essais de Montaigne, livre ii. ch. iii.
Cours de Littérature Dramatique, t. i. c. v., Du Suicide, &c.
Essais de Morale, I. 381.
Jules Simon, La Religion Naturelle, troisième partie, p. 345.
THE ASCENT OF MONT BUÉT.
BY A PRIVATE OF 38th (artists), and member of alpine club.
UPWARDS of ten thousand feet above the level of the sea rises the Mont Buét. It is the highest mountain in the immediate vicinity of Mont Blanc, and may be seen from many points of view by those whose delight it is to scale the summit of lofty peaks, whether in chase of the chamois a sport but very little indulged in-or to enjoy the glorious scenery, the refreshing life-giving air, and invigorating exercise on the mountain-tops.
I had long wished to make this ascent, from the accounts I had both heard and read of the superb view to be obtained from its summit, and especially the unsurpassed view of Mont Blanc itself.
Unsettled weather and other unavoidable circumstances had hitherto prevented me, during my previous Alpine excursions, from carrying my wishes into effect, but, in the summer of 1863, I again found myself upon the glaciers revisiting the Jardin for the fifth time, each visit being under precisely the same bright, cloudless sky,-which is somewhat remarkable. I also found myself performing sundry of the grandes courses with my trusty guides, Couttet and Tiarraz.
One of my excursions was to the séracs of the Col du Géant, which, in the opinion of Couttet, were utterly impenetrable this year. They were certainly very nearly so last year when we passed through them, as I have already narrated in a previous number, at no small risk to life and limb. We did not venture far into these frozen recesses. They looked awful when thus calmly surveyed. I may here mention that, at the Jardin, we again met our old friends, the two hungry solitary crows, who, as we approached, flew over our heads towards the lofty peaks of the Grande Jorasse, and, swooping round in their flight, perched upon some adjacent rocks, waiting to pounce upon any scraps we might happen to leave for them. There they sat, and
Clamoured their piteous prayer incessantly,
Another of my "setting up" tramps (as Alfred Wills calls those grandes courses) was through the séracs of the Glacier des Bossons and Taconnaz, at their point of junction just below the Grand Mulets. I went up through these, starting at daybreak, to meet a large party who had passed the night at the little cabin at the Grand Mulets-one of whom had made a successful ascent of Mont Blanc, while another of the party, a French gentleman, who had tried to reach the summit, failed, on arriving at the "Petit Mulets," where he encountered "un vent terrible -un vent exécrable," as he emphatically informed me.
I found no less than four of the guides who had been up severely frostbitten in their hands and ears. One of them (Jean Couttet), who had been one of my own guides'up Mont Blanc in 1862, was also slightly frostbitten in his feet. The poor fellows all looked haggard and distressed.
I happened to have with me two spare bottles of wine, and was able to give each a good tumblerful, for which they were unmistakably grateful.
How easy it would be, in some measure, to guard against these accidents, if the chief guide and the Mayor of Chamounix would but establish a regulation that no guide should be permitted to make the ascent unless he were properly equipped, and that they should be all carefully inspected previous to their starting. I suggested this in a letter to the Times, which the editor obligingly inserted; and I hope to find a stringent rule in force to this effect when I next visit Chamounix.
On another occasion this summer, when four Frenchmen went up, one of whom was brought down, it was feared, in a dying state, and sent off immediately to Geneva, my guide, Mark Tiarraz, had one of his hands terribly frostbitten. Of course I scolded him for it, but in his case it proved to be purely accidental. The party slipped on an ice-slope, and his gloves came off in trying to stop himself. His fingers were sadly swollen and quite black, but this ever joyous, merry-hearted fellow seemed to care but little about it, although he said that his hand was very painful. I suggested cutting open the blisters, and, "suiting the action to the word," took out my Holtzaffel knife, which has a lancet in it, and suggested a puncture. On seeing it, he begged hard that I would perform the operation. Of course I declined, and recommended that he should consult the doctor. He did not seem to think much of the doctor, and said that he would much rather that I should do it myself, as I had proposed. Upon my again declining, "Then," he said, "I shall go home and do it myself.' I entreated him not to do so; but, sure enough, he came the next morning with his merry face, and said that he had followed my advice, and that it was all right now, and that a lot of "eau noire" had come out. His hand was bandaged up, but upon my examining his fingers, I found the blisters gone, the skin coming off, and the flesh looking very raw indeed! In a few days, sure enough, he was all right again, though it did not fare so well with one of the other poor fellows. His hand remained in a bad state when I left Chamounix, and I suspect, like many other guides, he lost some of his fingers.
I have yet another case of frostbite to relate-a young Englishman who had attempted the ascent. He was staying at the same hotel with me; his foot was severely frostbitten, and it is a mercy that he escaped amputation. This is a pretty long list of wounded (one, I fear, mortally) within ten days!
Reader, go not up Mont Blanc without proper thought of what you may have to encounter, and look yourself to your guides to see that they are properly provided. They are so careless and indifferent about themselves, that, like our soldiers and sailors, they require to be looked after like children.
Well, you will say, when are we to commence our ascent of the Buét? I admit all this digression, but it is not without its object; and I will now only ask you to bear with me a little longer, whilst I escort you to one or two other spots.
First, let us go to La Grotte. This is an easy walk to the source of the Arveron, where my guides in the spring of the year tunnelled the ice to a distance of one hundred and sixty feet, and made a very curious and interesting cavern. It became a place of great resort during the summer,
and few left Chamounix without paying it a visit: the interior was quite a fairy scene.
Our next visit shall be to the Glacier des Bossons, where we again found a great quantity of the débris of the three poor guides who perished on the Grand Plateau by the fall of an avalanche forty years ago, in the ascent of Mont Blanc with Dr. Hamell. These consisted of many fragments of clothing, part of a knapsack with the hair upon it, a shoebuckle, small fragments of a skull, &c.
The glacier's cold and restless mass
and these melancholy memorials prove the wonderful accuracy of Professor Forbes's theory, and of his prediction as to the period when traces of the disaster would be found lower down upon the ice.
And now for the Buét! A good way to make the ascent of this grand mountain is to sleep at the village of Argentière, or, which is better still, to go on to the little châlet at Pierre à Bérard. I preferred the latter course, and, quitting Chamounix about mid-day, passed through the aforesaid village, and, pursuing the route by the Tête Noire, turned off on the left up a valley which lies at the back of the Aiguilles Rouges and the Brévent. At a short distance the Cascade Bérard is reached. It is a fine fall of water, amidst wild and romantic scenery. As it lies a little off the direct route over the Tête Noire, few, comparatively, turn aside to see it, but I can assure them that they miss a beautiful scene. Hence it is a gradual ascent to Pierre à Bérard, hemmed in by mountains on either side by a rugged path leading through loose rocks and stones, with the stream fretting and foaming on its course, till it arrives at the spot we passed below,
where, collected all
In one impetuous torrent, down the steep
We reached the spot before sunset, and amused ourselves by climbing up on the top of the Pierre à Bérard, which is by no means easy, and I very nearly forfeited a bottle of wine, as we had agreed that whoever failed should pay that forfeit. Mark tore his trousers, to his great chagrin !
The little châlet is built against a huge detached rock with a lean-to roof. It consists of two small apartments, with beds, and a kitchen formed in the rock. Close to it is a small wooden hut just built for the accommodation of visitors. It has two beds in it (one of which I occupied), and is the smallest apartment I ever passed a night in, its dimensions being only six feet in breadth, with a bed on either side, and a narrow slip between. The ceiling was exactly six feet from the floor, and the planking was raised less than a foot off the ground by supports at the four corners.
Immediately on the mountain-slope above it were endless blocks of stone, one of which, more formidable than the rest, seemed to threaten at any moment to come down and sweep the little hut and all its contents away. I suggested to my guides that I might find myself in the morning swept down the torrent to the Cascade Bérard! Ominous words! They haunted me all night, for it came on to blow and rain in a way it only can do in the mountains. The night was dark as pitch, and I truly