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what moderation and temper both waited for a decision, which was to dispose of the greatest empire then in the uni
When Artabanes gave judgment in favour of Xerxes, Artabazanes the same instant prostrated himself before him, acknowledging him for his master, and placed him upon the throne with his own hand'; by which proceeding he showed a greatness of soul truly royal, and infinitely superior to all human dignities. This ready acquiescence in a sentence so contrary to his interests, was not the effect of an artful policy, that knows how to dissemble upon occasion, and to derive honour to itself from what it could not prevent: no; it proceeded from a real respect for the laws, a sincere affection for his brother, and an indifference for that which so warmly inflames the ambition of mankind, and so frequently arms the nearest relations against each other. For his part, during his whole life, he continued firmly attached to the interests of Xerxes, and prosecuted them with so much ardour and zeal, that he lost his life in his service at the battle of Salamis.
a'To whatever time this dispute is to be placed, it is certain that Darius could not execute the double expedition he was meditating against Egypt and Greece; and that he was prevented by death from pursuing that project. He had reigned 36 years. The epitaph of this prince, which contains a boast, that he could drink much without disordering his reason, proves that the Persians actually thought that circumstance for their glory. We shall see in the sequel, that Cyrus the younger ascribes this quality to himself, as a perfection that rendered him more worthy of the throne than his elder brother. Who in these times would think of annexing this merit to the qualitications of a good prince?
Darius had many excellent qualities, but they were attended with great failings; and the kingdom felt the effects both of the one and the other. c For such is the condition of princes, that they never act nor live for themselves alone. Whatever they are, either as to good or evil, they are so for their people; and the interests of the one and the other are inseparable. Darius had a great fund of gentleness, equity, clemency, and kindness for his people : he loved justice, and respected the laws: he esteemed merit, and was careful to reward it; he was not jealous of his rank or authority, so as to exact a forced homage, or to render himself inaccessible ; and notwithstanding his own great experience and abilities in public affairs, he would hearken to the advice of others, and
a Herod. I. vi, c 4. ο Ηδυναμης και οίνον πίνειν πολύν, και τέτον φέρειν καλώς, Athen. I. s. c Ita nati estis, ut borra malaque restra ad remp, pertineant Tacit la iv.
reap the benefit of their counsels. It is of him the Holy Scripture speaks where it says, that he did nothing without consulting the wise men of his court. He was not afraid of exposing his person in battle, and was always cool even in the heat of action :6 he said of himself, that the most imminent and urgent danger served only to increase his courage and his prudence: in a word, there have been few princes more expert than he in the art of governing, or more experienced in the business of war. Nor was the glory of being a conqueror, if that may be called a glory, wanting to his character. For he not only restored and entirely confirmed the empire of Cyrus, which had been very much shaken by the ill conduct of Cambyses and the Magian impostor, but he likewise added many great and rich provinces to it, and particularly India, Thrace, Macedonia, and the isles contiguous to the coasts of Ionia.
But sometimes these good qualities of his gave way to feelings of a quite opposite nature. Do we see any thing like Darius's usual gentleness and good nature in his treatment of that unfortunate father, who desired the favour of him to leave him one of his three sons at home, while the other two followed the king in his expedition? Was there ever an occasion wherein he had more need of counsel, than when he formed the design of making war upon the Scythians ? And could any one give more prudent advice, than what his brother gave him on that occasion ? But he would not follow it. Does there apear in that whole expedition any mark of wisdom or prudence? What do we see in all that affair, but a prince intoxicated with his greatness, who fancies there is nothing in the world that can resist him; and whose weak ambition to signalize himself by an extraordinary conquest, has stifled all the good sense, judgment, and even military knowledge, he formerly cisplayed?
What constitutes the solid glory of Darius's reign is, his being chosen by God himself, as Cyrus had been before, to be the instrument of his mercies towards his people, the declared protector of the Israelites, and the restorer of the temple at Jerusalem. The reader may see this part of his history in the book of Ezra, and in the writings of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah.
a Fsth. i. 13.
6 Plut. in Apoph. p. 172.
THE HISTORY OF XERXES INTERMIXED WITH THAT OF
XERSE S'enreign lasted but 12 years, but abounds with
Xerxes, after having reduced Egypt, makes Preparations for
carrying the War into Greece. He holds a Council. The wise discourse of Artabanes. War is resolved upon.
Xerxes « having ascended the throne, employed the first year of his reign in carrying on the preparations begun by his father, for the reduction of Egypt. He also confirmed to the Jews at Jerusalem, all the privileges granted them by his father, and particularly that which assigned them the tribute of Samaria, for the supplying them with victims for the service of the temple of God.
6 In the second year of his reign he marched against the Egyptians, and having defeated and subdued those rebels, he made the yoke of their subjection more heavy; then giving the government of that province to his brother Achæmenes, he'returned about the latter end of the year to Susa.
c Herodotus, the famous historian, was born this same year at Halicarnassus in Caria ; for he was 53 years old when the Peloponnesian war first began.
a Xerxes, puffed up with his success against the Egyptians, determined to make war against the Grecians. He e did not intend, he said, to buy the figs of Attica, which were very excellent, any longer, because he would eat no more of them till he was master of the country. But before he engaged in an enterprise of that importance, he thought proper to assemble his council, and take the advice of all the greatest and most illustrious persons of his court. He laid before them the design he had of making war against Greece, and acquainted them with his motives ; which were, the desire of imitating the example of his predecessors, who had all of them distinguished their names and reigns by noble enterprises ; the obligation he was under to revenge the insolence of the Athenians, who had presumed to fall upon Sardis, and reduce it to ashes ; the necessity, he was under, to avenge the disgrace his country had received at the battle of Marathon ; and the prospect of the great advantages that might a A. M 3519. Ant J C. 185. Her l. vii. c 5 Joseph. Antiq. 1. xi. c. 5.
Ant. J. C. 484. Her. l. vii. c. 7 ¢ Aul. Gel. l. 1. c. 23. d Her. l. vii. c. 8-18. « Plut. in Apoph. p. 173.
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be reaped from this war, which would be attended with the conquest of Europe, the most rich and fertile country in the universe He added further, that this war had been resolved on by his father Darius, and consequently that he only followed and executed his intentions ; he concluded, with promising ample rewards to those who should distinguish themselves by their valour in the expedition.
Mardonius, the same person that had been so unsuccessful in Darius's reign, grown neither wiser, nor less ambitious by his ill success, and extremely anxious to obtain the command of the army, was the first who gave his opinion. He began by extolling Xerxes above all the kings that had gone before, or should succeed him. He endeavoured to show the indispensable necessity of avenging the dishonour done to the Persian name; he disparaged the Grecians, and represented theni as a cowardly, timorous people, without courage, with-, out forces, or experience in war. For a proof of what he said, he mentioned his own conquest of Macedonia, which he exaggerated in a very vain and ostentatious manner, as if that people had submitted to him without any resistance. He presumed even to affirm, that not any of the Grecian nations would venture to come out against Xerxes, who would march with all the forces of Asia ; and that if they had the temerity to present themselves before him, they would learn to their cost, that the Persians were the bravest and most warlike nation in the world.
The rest of the council, perceiving that this flattering discourse extremely pleased the king, were afraid to contradict it, and all kept silence. This was almost an unavoidable consequence of Xerxes's manner of proceeding. A wise prince, when he proposes an affair in council, and really desires that every one should speak his true sentiments, is extremely careful to conceal his own opinion, that he may put no constraint upon that of others, but leave them entirely at liberty. Xerxes, on the contrary, had openly discovered his own inclination, or rather resolution to undertake the war. When a prince acts in this manner, he will always find artful flatterers, who, being eager to insinuate themselves and to please, and ever ready to comply with his passions, will not fail to second his opinion with specious and plausible rea, sons; whilst those that would be capable of giving good counsel, are restrained by fear ; there being very few courtiers who love their prince well enough, and have sufficient courage to venture to displease him, by disputing what they know to be his taste or opinion.
The excessive praises given by Mardonius to Xerxes, which are the usual language of flatterers, ought to have made the king distrust him, and apprehend, that, under an
appearance of zeal for his glory, that nobleman endeavoured to cloak his own ambition, and the violent desire he had to command the army. But these sweet and Hattering words, which glide like a serpent under flowers, are so far from displeasing princes, that they captivate and charm them. They do not consider, that men flatter and praise them, because they believe them weak and vain enough to suffer themselves to be deceived by commendations, that bear no proportion to their merit and actions.
This behaviour of the king made the whole council mute. In this general silence, Artabanes, the king's uncle, a prince very venerable for his age and prudlence, had the courage to make the following speech. Permit me, great prince," says he, addressing himself to Xerxes, “ to deliver my sen“timents to you on this occasion, with a liberty suitable to
my age and to your interest. When Darius, your father " and my brother, first thought of making war against the
Scythians, I used all my endeavours to divert him from it. “ I need not tell you what that enterprise cost, or what was " the success of it. The people you are going to attack are “ infinitely more formidable than the Scythians. The Gre“ cians are esteemed the very best troops in the world, ei“ther by land or sea. If the Athenians alone could defeat " the numerous army commanded by Datis and Artaphernes, “ what ought we to expect from all the states of Greece “ united together? You design to pass from Asia into Europe, “by laying a bridge over the sea. And what will become " of us, if the Athenians, proving victorious, should advance
to this bridge with their feet, and break it down ? I still “ tremble when I consider, that, in the Scythian expedition, “ the life of the king your father, and the safety of all his
army, were reduced to depend upon the fidelity of one single man ; and that if Hystiæus the Milesian had, in com
pliance with the urgent suggestions made to him, consented “ to break down the bridge which had been laid over the “ Danube, the Persian empire had been entirely ruined. Do " not expose yourself, Sir, to the like danger, especially since
you are not obliged to do it. Take time at least to reflect
upon it. When we have maturely deliberated upon an “affair, whatever happens to be the success of it, we have
nothing to impute to ourselves. Precipitation, besides its “ being imprudent, is almost always unfortunate, and attend“ed with fatal consequences. Above all, do not suffer your“self, great prince, to be dazzled with the vain splendour of
imaginary glory, or with the pompous appearance of your troops. The highest and most lofty trees have the most reason to dread the thunder. As God alone is truly great,