When wealth was once considered an honor, and glory, authority, and power attended on it, virtue lost her influence, poverty was thought a disgrace, and a life of innocence was regarded as a life of ill-nature.1
From the influence of riches, accordingly, luxury, avarice, and pride prevailed among the youth; they grew at once rapacious and prodigal; they undervalued what was their own, and coveted what was another's; they set at naught modesty and continence; they lost all distinction between sacred and profane, and threw off all consideration and self-restraint.
It furnishes much matter for reflection,2
after viewing our modern mansions and villas extended to the size of cities, to contemplate the temples which our ancestors, a most devout race of men, erected to the gods. But our forefathers adorned the fanes of the deities with devotion, and their homes with their own glory, and took nothing from those whom they conquered but the power of doing harm; their descendants, on the contrary, the basest of mankind,3
have even wrested from their allies, with the most flagrant injustice, whatever their brave and victorious ancestors had left to their vanquished enemies; as if the only use of power were to inflict injury.