« ElőzőTovább »
Rome, or in you? I hope you will allow, that the people can, at their pleasure, either make a law or repeal one. And will you, then, as soon as any law is proposed to them, pretend to list them immediately for the war, and hinder them from giving their suffrages, by leading them into the field? Hear me, consuls. Whether the news of the war you talk of be true, or whether it be only a false rumour, spread abroad for nothing but a colour to send the people out of the city I declare, as a tribune, that this people, who have already so often spilt their blood in our country's cause, are again ready to arm for its defence and its glory, if they may be restored to their natural rights, and you will no longer treat us like strangers in our own country; but if you account us unworthy of your alliance, by intermarriages; if you will not suffer the entrance to the chief offices in the state to be open to all persons of merit, indifferently, but will confine your choice of magistrates to the senate alone― talk of wars as much as ever you please-paint in your ordinary discourses, the league and power of our enemies, ten times more dreadful than you do now-I declare, that this people, whom you so much despise, and to whom you are nevertheless indebted for all your victories, shall never more enlist themselves-not a man of them shall take arms— not a man of them shall expose his life for imperious lords, with whom he can neither share the dignities of the state, nor in private life, have any alliance by marriage.
X-Speech of Junius Brutus, over the dead body of Lucretia.
YES, noble lady, I swear by this blood, which was once so pure, and which nothing but royal villany could have polluted, that I will pursue Lucius Tarquinius the proud, his wicked wife, and their children, with fire and sword; nor will I ever suffer any of that family, or of any other whatsoever, to be kiry in Rome: ye gods, I call you to witness this my oath! There, Romans, turn your eyes to that sad spectacle; the daughter of Lucretius, Collatinus' wife : she died by her own hand. See there a noble lady, whom the lust of a Tarquin reduced to the necessity of being her own executioner, to attest her innocence. Hospitably entertained by her, as a kinsman of her husband's, Sextus, the perfidious guest, became her brutal ravisher. The chaste, the generous Lucretia, could not survive the insult. Glorious woman! But once only treated as a slave, she thought life no longer to be endured. Lucretia, as a woman, disdained a
life that depended on a tyrant's will; and shall we-shall men, with such an example before our eyes, and after five-and-twenty years of ignominious servitude, shall we, through a fear of dying, defer one single instant to assert our liberty? No, Romans, now is the time; the favourable moment we have so long waited for, is come. Tarquin is not at Rome. The Patricians are at the head of the enterprise. The city is abundantly provided with men, arms, and all things necessary. There is nothing wanting to secure the success, if our own courage does not fail us. And shall those warriors who have ever been so brave when foreign enemies were to be subdued, or when conquests were to be made to gratify the ambition and avarice of a Tarquin, be then only cowards, when they are to deliver themselves from slavery?-some of you are perhaps intimidated by the army which Tarquin now commands. The soldiers, you imagine, will take the part of their general. Banish so groundless a fear. The love of liberty is natural to all men. Your fellow-citizens in the camp feel the weight of oppression, with as quick a sense as you that are in Rome; they will as eagerly seize the occasion of throwing off the yoke. But let us grant that there are some among them who, through baseness of spirit, or a bad education, will be disposed to favour the tyrant. The number of these can be but small, and we have means sufficient in our hands to reduce them to reason. They have left us hostages more dear to them than life. Their wives, their children, their fathers, their mothers, are here in the city. Courage, Romans, the gods are for us; those gods, whose temples and altars the impious Tarquin has profaned, by sacrifices and libations made with polluted hands, polluted with blood, and with numberless unexpiated crimes committed against his subjects. Ye gods, who protected our forefathersye genii, who watch for the preservation and glory of Rome, do you inspire us with courage and unanimity in the glorious cause, and we will, to our last breath, defend your worship from all profanation!
XI.-Demosthenes to the Athenians, exciting them to prosecute the war against Philip.
WHEN I compare, Athenians, the speeches of some among us with their actions, I am at a loss to reconcile what I see with what I hear. Their protestations are full of zeal against the public enemy; but their measures are so in
consistent, that all their professions become suspected. By confounding you with a variety of projects, they perplex your resolutions; and lead you from executing what is in your power, by engaging you in schemes not reducible to practice.
'Tis true, there was a time, when we were powerful enough, not only to defend our own borders, and protect our allies, but even to invade Philip in his own dominions. Yes, Athenians, there was such a juncture; I remember it well. But, by neglect of proper opportunities, we are no longer in a situation to be invaders; it will be well for us if we can provide for our own defence, and our allies. Never did any conjuncture require so much prudence as this. However, I should not despair of seasonable remedies, had I the art to prevail with you to be unanimous in right measures. The opportunities which have so often escaped us, have not been lost through ignorance or want of judgment, but through negligence or treachery. If I assume, at this time, more than ordinary liberty of speech, I conjure you to suffer patiently those truths, which have no other end but your own good. You have too many reasons to be sensible how much you have suffered by hearkening to sycophants. I shall, therefore, be plain, in laying before you the grounds of past miscarriages, in order to correct you in your future conduct.
You may remember, it is not above three or four years since we had the news of Philip's laying siege to the fortress of Juno, in Thrace. It was, as I think, in October we received this intelligence. We voted an immediate supply of threescore talents; forty men of war were ordered to sea; and so zealous were we, that, preferring the necessities of the state to our very laws, our citizens above the age of fiveand-forty years, were commanded to serve. What followed? A whole year was spent idly, without any thing done; and it was but in the third month, of the following year, a little after the celebration of the feast of Ceres, that Charademus set sail, furnished with no more than five talents, and ten galleys, not half-manned.
A rumour was spread that Philip was sick. That rumour was followed by another-that Philip was dead. And then, as if all danger died with him, you dropped your preparations; whereas, then, then was your time to push and be active; then was your time to secure yourselves and confound him at once. Had your resolutions, taken with so much heat, been as warmly seconded by action, you had then
been as terrible to Philip, as Philip, recovered, is now to you. "To what purpose, at this time, these reflections? What is done, cannot be undone."-But, by your leave, Athenians, though past moments are not to be recalled, past errors may be repeated. Have we not now, a fresh provocation to war? Let the memory of oversights, by which you have suffered so much, instruct you to be more vigilant in the present danger. If the Olynthians are not instantly succoured, and with your utmost efforts, you become assistants to Philip, and serve him more effectually than he can help himself.
It is not, surely, necessary to warn you, that votes alone can be of no consequence. Had your resolutions, of themselves, the virtue, to compass what you intend, we should not see them multiply every day, as they do, and upon every occasion, with so little effect; nor would Philip be in a condition to brave and affront us in this manner. Proceed, then, Athenians, to support your deliberations with vigour. You have heads capable of advising what is best; you have judgment and experience to discern what is right; and you have power and opportunity to execute what you determine. What time so proper for action? What occasion so happy? And when can you hope for such another, if this be neglected? Has not Philip, contrary to all treaties, insulted you in Thrace? Does he not, at this instant, straiten and invade your confederates, whom you have solemnly sworn to protect? Is he not an implacable enemy? A faithless ally? The usurper of provinces, to which he has no title nor pretence? A stranger, a barbarian, a tyrant? And, indeed, what is he not?
Observe, I beseech you, men of Athens, how different your conduct appears, from the practices of your ancestors. They were friends to truth and plain dealing, and detested flattery and servile compliance. By unanimous consent, they continued arbiters of all Greece, for the space of forty-five years, without interruption; a public fund, of no less than ten thousand talents, was ready for any emergency; they exercised over the kings of Macedon that authority which is due to barbarians; obtained, both by sea and land, in their own persons, frequent and signal victories; and, by their noble exploits, transmitted to posterity an immortal memory of their virtue, superior to the reach of malice and detraction. It is to them we owe that great number of public edifices, by which the city of Athens exceeds all the
rest of the world in beauty and magnificence. It is to them we owe so many stately temples, so richly embellished, but, above all, adorned with the spoils of vanquished enemies. But, visit their own private habitations; visit the houses of Aristides, Miltiades, or any other of those patriots of antiquity;-you will find nothing, not the least mark or ornament, to distinguish them from their neighbours. They took part in the government, not to enrich themselves, but the public; they had no scheme or ambition, but for the public; nor knew any interest, but for the public. It was by a close and steady application to the general good of their country, by an exemplary piety towards the immortal gods, by a strict faith and religious honesty betwixt man and man, and a moderation always uniform and of a piece, they established that reputation, which remains to this day, and will last to utmost posterity.
Such, O men of Athens! were your ancestors: so glorious in the eye of the world; so bountiful and munificent to their country; so sparing, so modest, so self-denying to themselves. What resemblance can we find, in the present generation, of these great men? At a time, when your ancient competitors have left you a clear stage; when the Lacedemonians are disabled; the Thebans employed in troubles of their own; when no other state whatever is in a condition to rival or molest you; in short, when you are at full liberty; when you have the opportunity and the power to become once more the sole arbiters of Greece; you permit patiently, whole provinces to be wrested from you; you lavish the public money in scandalous and obscure uses; you suffer your allies to perish in time of peace, whom you preserved in time of war; and to sum up all, you yourselves, by your mercenary court, and servile resignation to the will and pleasure of designing, insidious leaders, abet, encourage, and strengthen the most dangerous and formidable of your enemies. Yes, Athenians, I repeat it, you yourselves are the contrivers of your own ruin.. Lives there a man who has confidence enough to deny it? Let him arise, and assign, if he can, any other cause of the success and prosperity of Philip.-"But," you reply, "what Athens may have lost in reputation abroad, she has gained in splendor at home. Was there ever a greater appearance of prosperity; a greater face of plenty? Is not the city enlarged? Are not the streets better paved, houses repaired and beautified?"-Away with such triflès!