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About Hesperian student / (Lincoln [Neb.]) 1872-1885 | View Entire Issue (Feb. 1, 1877)
Tin? LWK AND CllAU.UTF.tt OK TACTm?.
ii literary one, it would have lieena partial
failure. For ho was eminently a 01:111 of!
actions us well as of thoughts. His strong j
positive nature washouud to intluencecvcn
a Koman life, while Ik- wiw handing down 1
iiumorlal words-to ai) posterity. In thishis '
character was rare, for yon seldom (hid Hit-
elements tif a man ot letters and of the !
statesman c-tmhincd in 0110. True, there I
was ho ilivino .Iiihns, bul .lulius was rare
Generally speaking, those two elements !'
character are antagonistic. II y em
body iv Napoleon you must forget ilie
Shakespeare. If you call to mind a
Washington, you must leave oil" the
Irving, Ihil when jou reineniher some
of the closing words of the life of Agrio
ola, forma wentia tvtrrnu, you must
hoar in mind' that in sulmluncc he
also said. "My political dignity was
founded iiy Vespasian, increased hy
Titus, an. 1 further advanced hy Do.
initial)." Mo was Quaestor in 71, Tii-
buno in 81, Praetor in 8.S, and consul suf
fectus in 1)7, A. I).
A third element uWocoult United largely
to his greatness. He was ai. orator. lie
was esteemed as such in a tune when
eloquence abounded, when oratory was
especially aimed at, and in a time when j
the words of Cicero had hardly lost their '
echo in tho Forum. So Pliny remark ;
that "il was the crowning glory of Ins!
predecessor to have had Tacitus to deliver '
his funeral oration." When you would
call to mind Tacitus, then, yon mut re
member him as an essayist and critic, as a
finished orator, as a politician and as a
historian. But it is worthy of remark,
that, as a historian, he was not merely so,
hut hu was preeminently such. What
Uncoil did for leasoning, what Shakes,
pearc did for the drama, what Darwin and
Tyot'iul and Ilu.xley have done for science,
Tacitus long since did for history. For,
says his great follower, Gibbon, "lie was
the fust historian who applied the science
of philosophy to the study of facts." He
has thus been considered the Fathr of
Philosophical Historv. So he was one of .
those great men, who, as Ma can lay says,
ever stand upon the mountain tops and
catch the first rasof sunlight, while far
below tho valleys are dark and shaded.
His sunlight, however, was that which
was received through the early mist of
oarh ewpi'iienee. So he now stands he
fore us a noble, a thinking, a Ituc-mindcd
Koman. !ut we are not inclined to stop
here. There are questions- thai still go
beyond mid ask, What were the leading
characteristics of the inward man? What,
was his secret character ? What w as he to
himself? These questions always come
up when we see one, most especially when
we look upon one so much a Human as.
Tacitus. For those- there is only one an
swot, "Out of tho abundance of the heart
the mouth speaketh," an.' never could
this he said more truly of a mm than of
Tacitus. So il is by his wn:ds- that we
must know htm; and in sliuhiiig his
words we pick up here and there many
beautiful elements of his nature.
First of all, he was patriotic. In the
short treatise on the Germans, in one
place he says, "Who further, saying
nothing of the danger of a rough and tin
known s-ca, would seek Germany, uninvi
ting in its lands, stormy in ;is cliinaie,
sad in its civili.ilion and appearance, un
less it were his native land" This, we
are assured came from the very depths of
liN soul. In Ihi one sentence, because it
so well expresses his own feelings, he
teaches, that, for a man who cherishes his
fatherdamT, there is no sen too wide or
stormy, no danger too gieat, no incon
veniences too grievous, no perils too
enormous. We are assured that it was this
patriotism which prompted him to write.
For Ins sentences burn with it all along.
It was the love of his country, and the
sense of its imminent peril that moved
his spirit to raise his hand and his voice in
its defense. For his philosophic mind
told him if there should not intervene
some radical change in the policy of (hu
government, it must soon go down. With
this great motive ho wrote. And so great
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