We may also observe here that, like Epictetus, he is by no means so decided on the subject of suicide as the older Stoics. Aurelius is, above all things, a practical moralist. The goal in life to be aimed at, according to him, is not happiness, but tranquillity, or equanimity. This condition of mind can be obtained only by “living conformably to nature,” that is to say, one’s whole nature, and as a means to that man must cultivate the four chief virtues, each of which has its distinct sphere—wisdom, or the knowledge of good and evil; justice, or the giving to every man his due; fortitude, or the enduring of labour and pain; and temperance, or moderation in all things. It is no “fugitive and cloistered virtue” that Aurelius seeks to encourage; on the contrary, man must lead the “life of the social animal,” must “live as on a mountain”; and “he is an abscess on the universe who withdraws and separates himself from the reason of our common nature through being displeased with the things which happen.” While the prime principle in man is the social, “the next in order is not to yield to the persuasions of the body, when they are not conformable to the rational principle which must govern.” This divinity “within a man,” this “legislating faculty,” which, looked at from one point of view, is conscience, and from another is reason, must be implicitly obeyed. He who thus obeys it will attain tranquillity of mind; nothing can irritate him, for everything is according to nature, and death itself “is such as generation is, a mystery of nature, a composition out of the same elements, and a decomposition into the same, and altogether not a thing of which any man should be ashamed, for it is not contrary to the nature of a reasonable animal, and not contrary to the reason of our constitution.”
The morality of Marcus Aurelius cannot be said to have been new when it was given to the world. Its charm lies in its exquisite accent and its infinite tenderness. But above all, what gives the sentences of Marcus Aurelius their enduring value and fascination, and renders them superior to the utterances of Epictetus and Seneca, is that they are the gospel of his life. His precepts are simply the records of his practice. To the saintliness of the cloister he added the wisdom of the man of the world; he was constant in misfortune, not elated by prosperity, never “carrying things to the sweating-point,” but preserving, in a time of universal corruption, unreality and self-indulgence, a nature sweet, pure, self-denying, unaffected.
Bibliography.—P. B. Watson’s M. Aurelius Antoninus (1884) contains a general account—life, character, philosophy, relations with Christianity—as well as a bibliography; see also art. in Pauly-Wissowa, Realencyclopädie, s.v. “Annius” (No. 94), col. 2279. For special points see: (1) Historical: Authorities under Rome: Ancient History; S. Dill, Roman Society from Nero to M. Aurelius (London, 1904). (2) Relations to Christianity: Sir W. M. Ramsay, op. cit.; W. Moeller, History of the Christian Church, A.D. 1-600 (Eng. trans., A. Rutherford, 1892); W. E. Addis, Christianity and the Roman Empire (1893); E. G. Hardy, Christianity and the Roman Government (1894), pp. 145 sqq., which criticizes both Neumann and Ramsay; Leonard Alston, Stoic and Christian of the 2nd century (1906); J. Dartigue-Peyrou, Marc-Aurèle dans ses rapports avec le christianisme (Paris, 1897). (3) Philosophical: Besides article Stoics, E. Renan, Marc. Antoninus et la fin du monde antique (Paris, 1882; Eng. trans., W. Hutchinson, 1904); W. Pater, Marius the Epicurean (London, 1888); Matthew Arnold’s Essays; C. H. W. Davis, Greek and Roman Stoicism (1903); editions of the Meditations (5, below). (4) Military: E. Napp, De rebus imperat. M. Aurel. Anton, in oriente gestis (Bonn, 1879); Conrad, Mark Aurels Markomannenkrieg (1889); Th. Mommsen, Provinces of the Roman Empire (Eng. trans., W. P. Dickson, London, 1886); for the Aurelius column, E. Petersen, A. von Domaszewski, and G. Calderini, Die Marcussäule (Munich, 1896), with historical introduction by Th. Mommsen. (5) The Meditations were published by Xylander in 1558; the best critical edition is that of J. Stich in the Teubner series (Leipzig, 1882; 2nd ed., 1903); textual emendations also in Journal of Philology, xxiii. 116-160 (G. H. Rendall); Classical Review, xix. (1905), pp. 18 sqq. (Herbert Richards), ibid., pp. 301 sqq. (A. J. Kronenberg). Translations exist in almost every language; that of George Long (London, 1862, re-edited 1900) has been superseded by those of G. H. Rendall (London, 1898, with valuable introduction) and J. Jackson (Oxford, 1906, with introduction by Charles Bigg). (6) For a full account of the correspondence of Aurelius and Fronto, see Robinson Ellis, Correspondence of Fronto and M. Aurelius (Oxford, 1904).
(J. M. M.)
MARCY, WILLIAM LEARNED (1786-1857), American statesman, was born in Southbridge (then part of Sturbridge), Massachusetts, on the 12th of December 1786. He graduated at Brown University in 1808, studied law, was admitted to the bar in Troy, New York, and began practice there in 1810. During the War of 1812 he served first as a lieutenant and afterwards as a captain of volunteers, and on the 22nd of October 1812 took part in the storming of the British post at St Regis, Canada. In 1816 he became recorder of Troy, but as he sided with the Anti-Clinton faction of the Democratic-Republican Party, known as the “Bucktails,” he was removed from office in 1818 by his political opponents. As editor of the Troy Budget (daily) he was a vigorous supporter of Martin Van Buren, and when Van Buren’s followers acquired control of the legislature in 1821 Marcy was made adjutant-general of the New York militia. From 1823 to 1829 Marcy was comptroller of the state, an office then especially important on account of the large expenditures for internal improvements, and during this period he became the leading member of the famous “Albany Regency,” a group of able Democratic politicians who exerted a powerful influence throughout the state by their control of the party patronage and machinery. He was one of the associate justices of the New York Supreme Court from 1829 to 1831, presiding over the trial of the alleged murderers of William Morgan and in other important cases; and was a member of the United States Senate from December 1831 to July 1832, when he resigned to become governor of New York. In a speech in the Senate defending Van Buren against an attack by Henry Clay, Marcy made the unfortunate remark that “to the victors belong the spoils of the enemy,” and thereby became widely known as a champion of the proscription of political opponents. He served as governor of New York for six years (Jan. 1, 1833 to Dec. 31, 1838), but was defeated in 1838 by the Whig candidate, William H. Seward. As governor he checked the issue of bank charters by the legislature and secured the enactment, in 1838, of a general banking law, which abolished the monopoly features incident to the old banking system. In 1839-1842 Marcy was a member of a commission appointed by President Van Buren, in accordance with the treaty of 1839 between the United States and Mexico to “examine and decide upon” certain claims of citizens of the United States against Mexico. In 1843 he presided over the Democratic state convention at Syracuse, and in 1844-1845 he was recognized as one of the leaders of the “Hunkers,” or regular Democrats in New York, and an active opponent of the “Barnburners.” He was secretary of war under President Polk from 1845 to 1849, and as such, discharged with ability the especially onerous duties incident to the conduct of the Mexican War; he became involved, however, in controversies with Generals Scott and Taylor, who accused him, it seems very unjustly, of seeking to embarrass their operations in the field because they were political opponents of the administration. In the Democratic convention at Baltimore, in 1852, Marcy was a prominent candidate for the presidential nomination, and from 1853 to 1857 he was secretary of state in the cabinet of President Pierce. Few cabinet officers in time of peace have had more engrossing duties. His circular of the 1st of June 1853 to American diplomatic agents abroad, recommending that, whenever practicable, they should “appear in the simple dress of an American citizen,” created much discussion in Europe; in 1867 his recommendation was enacted into a law of Congress. One of the most important matters with which he was called upon to deal was the “Koszta Affair”; his “Hülsemann letter” (1853), is an important
- The “Koszta Affair” involved an interesting question of international law—i.e. the right of an alien domiciled in any country to the protection of that country—and has served as a precedent for the American government in somewhat similar cases that have arisen. Martin Koszta, a Hungarian revolutionist of 1848, had emigrated to the United States and had there taken the preliminary step for naturalization by formally declaring his intention to become a citizen of the United States. In 1853 he went on personal business to Smyrna, where he secured a passport from the American consul; the Austrian consul, however, caused him to be seized and detained on an Austrian brig-of-war. Soon afterward Captain Duncan N. Ingraham (1802-1891), in command of a United States sloop-of-war, arrived at Smyrna, and threatened to attack the Austrian vessel unless Koszta were released; and as a compromise Koszta was placed in the custody of the French consul. To Chevalier Hülsemann, then representing Austria at Washington, who had demanded from the United States the disavowal of the acts of its agents, the complete surrender of Koszta, and “satisfaction proportionate to the magnitude of the outrage,” Marcy wrote on the 26th of September 1853, that Koszta “when seized and imprisoned was invested with the nationality of the United States” and had a right to the protection of the United States government, and added: “Whenever by the law of nations an individual becomes clothed with our national