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INVECTIVE AGAINST DEMOSTHENES.
happened that certain persons broke into the treasury; whereupon your speakers all instantly exclaimed, “Our free constitution is overturned! Our laws are no more!” Impossible! I grant you, that those who are guilty of this crime justly deserve to die! But, by such offenders, our constitution is not overturned.
Again; some oars have been stolen from our arsenal “Stripes and tortures for the villain! Our constitution is subverted !” This is the general cry, But what is my opinion? This criminal, like the others, has deserved to die. But, if some are criminal, our constitution is not therefore subverted.
There has been no man who has dared openly and boldly to declare in what case our constitution is subverted. But I shall declare it. When you, Athenians, become a helpless rabble, without conduct, without property, without arms, without order, without unanimity; when neither general nor any
person has the least respect for your decrees; and when no man dares to inform you of this, your condition, to urge the necessary reformation, much less to exert his own efforts to effect it—then is your constitution subverted ! And this has been
your case! And now, be sure, my countrymen, that it is by arms we are to subdue our enemies — by arms we are to defend our State. It is not by our decrees that we can conquer. selves the conduct of your own affairs. Do an equal duty, and share an equal glory! In judgment, be ever humane! In action, be ever terrible !
III. — INVECTIVE AGAINST DEMOSTHENES.
To what causes, Athenians, is the prosperity or the calamity of a State to be ascribed ? To none so eminently as to its ministers and generals. Turn your eyes on the state of Thebes. It subsisted once. It was once great. It had its soldiers and commanders. There was a time when Pelopʻidas led the “sacred band ; ” when Epaminon'das and his colleagues commanded the army. Then did the Thebans gain the victory at Leuctra. Then did they pierce into the territories of Lă-ce-de'mon, before deemed inaccessible. Then did they achieve many and noble deeds. For what is the great security of every state and nation? Good generals and able ministers!
Let this be duly and attentively considered, and let us no longer suffer by the corrupt and pernicious conduct of Demosthenes. Let it not be imagined that we shall ever want good men and faithiul counselors. With all the generous severity of
our ancestors, let us punish the man whose bribery, whose treason, are unequivocally detected ; who could not resist the temptation of gold; who in war has proved himself a coward, in his civil conduct a busybody; who, when his fellow-citizens are called forth to meet their enemies in the field, flies from his post, and hides himself at home; when the danger is at home, and his aid is demanded here, pretends that he is an ambassador, and runs from the city!
Let this man no longer amuse you with airy hopes and false representations, and promises which he forgets as soon as uttered ! Let not his ready tears and lamentations move you! Reserve all your pity
for your country : your country, which his practices have undone — your country, which now implores you to save it from a traitor's hand. When he would waken all your sympathy for Demosthenes, then turn your eyes on Athens. Consider her former glory.
Contrast it with her present degradation ! And ask yourselves, whether Demosthenes has been reduced to greater wretchedness by Athens, or Athens by Demosthenes !
IV. - AGAINST CATILINE.
CONSCRIPT FATHERS, a camp is pitched against the Roman republic within Italy, on the very borders of Etruria. Every day adds to the number of the enemy. The leader of those enemies, the commander of that encampment, walks within the walls of Rome; takes his seat in this senate, the heart of Rome; and, with venomous mischief, rankles in the inmost vitals of the commonwealth. Catiline, should I, on the instant, order my lictors to seize and drag you to the stake, some men might, even then, blame me for having procrastinated punishment; but no man could criminate me for a faithful execution of the laws. They shall be executed. But I will neither act, nor will I suffer, without full and sufficient reason. Trust me, they shall be executed; and then, even then, when there shall not be found a man so flagitious, so much a Catiline, as to say you were not ripe for execution.
Was not the night before the last sufficient to convince you that there is a good genius protecting that republic, which a ferocious demoniac is laboring to destroy? I aver, that on that same night you and your complotters assembled. Can even your own tongue deny it? Yet secret! Speak out, man ; for, if you do not, there are some I see around me who shall have an agonizing proof that I am true in
REPLY TO ÆSCHINES.
Good and great gods, where are we? What city do we inhabit? Under what government do we live ? Here - here, conscript fathers, mixed and mingled with us all — in the center of this most grave and venerable assembly — are men sitting, quietly incubating a plot against my life, against all your lives — the life of every virtuous senator and citizen; while I, with the whole nest of traitors brooding beneath my eyes, am parading in the petty formalities of debate; and the very men appear scarcely vulnerable by my voice, who ought long since to have been cut down with the sword. Proceed, Catiline, in your meritorious career! Go where destiny and desire are driving you! Evacuate the city for a season. The gates stand open. Begone! What a pity that the Manlian army should look so long for their general! Take all your loving friends along with you ; or, if that be a vain hope, take, at least, as many as you can, and cleanse the city for some short time. Let the walls of Rome be the mediators between me and thee; for, at present, you are much too near. I will not suffer you; I will not longer endure you !
Lucius Catiline, away! Begin as soon as you can this shameful and unnatural war. Begin it, on your part, under the shade of every
dreadful omen ; on mine, with the sure and certain hope of safety to my country, and glory to myself: and, when this you have done, then, do Thou, whose altar was first founded by the founder of our state Thou, the establisher of this city, pour out thy vengeance upon this man, and all his adherents! Save us from his fury; our public altars, our sacred temples, our houses and household gods, our liberties, our lives, Pursue, tutelar god! pursue them, these foes to the gods and to goodness
these plunderers of Italy — these assassins of Rome! Erase them out of this life; and in the next let thy vengeance follow them still, insatiable, implacable, immortal!
V. - REPLY TO ÆSCHINES. UNDER what circumstances, 0 Athenians, ought the strenuous and patriotic orator to appear? When the state is in jeopardy, when the people are at issue with the enemy, then it is that his ve'hemence is timely. But now, when I stand clear on all hands, — by prescription, by judgments repeatedly pronounced, by my never having been convicted before the people of any offense, - and when more or less of glory has of necessity resulted to the public from my course - now it is that Æschines turns up, and attempts to wrest from me the honors which you propose to bestow! Personal spite and envy are at the bottom of all his trumped-up charges, my fellow-citizens; and I proclaim him no true man.
Consider, Æschines, whether you are not in reality the country's enemy, while you pretend to be only mine. Let us look at the acts of the orator rather than at the speech. He who pays his court to the enemies of the state does not cast anchor in the same roadstead with the people. He looks elsewhere than to them for his security, Such a man —
- mark me e! am not I. I have always made common cause with the people, nor have I shaped my public course for my individual benefit.
Can you say as much? Can you? You, who, instantly after the battle, repaired as ambassador to Philip, the author of all our calamities; and this after you had declared loudly, on previous occasions, against engaging in any such commission, as all these citizens can testify!
What worse charge can any one bring against an orator than that his words and his deeds do not tally? Yet you have been discovered to be such a man; and you still lift your voice and dare to look this assembly in the face! Think you they do not know
you for what you are ? or that such a slumber and oblivion have come over them all as to make them forget the speeches in which, with oaths and imprecations, you disclaimed all dealings with Philip, and declared that I falsely brought this charge against you from personal enmity? And yet, no sooner was the advice received of that fatal — 0! that fatal — battle, than your asseverations were forgotten, your connection publicly avowed ! You affected to have been Philip's friend and guest. Such were the titles by which you sought to dignify your prostitution !
But read here the epitaph inscribed by the state upon the monument of the slain, that you may see yourself in it, Æschines, - unjust, calumnious, and profligate. Read !
“ These were the brave, unknowing how to yield,
Who, terrible in valor, kept the field
And ērring mortals must submit to Fate." Do you hear, Æschines? It pertains only to the gods to control fortune and command success. To them the
of ing victory to armies is ascribed, not to the statesman, but to the gods. Wherefore, then, execrable wretch, wherefore upbraid me with what has happened? Why denounce against me, what may the just gods reserve for the heads of you and
PART FIFTH. - THE TRIBUNE.*
I. — THE DISOBEDIENCE OF MAGISTRATES. We have been told, gentlemen, that the magistrate is not bound to execute a law which he has not adopted. We are told that he is not obliged to adopt, as magistrate, a new law which does not suit him; that, when he received his powers, he swore to render justice according to established laws. You now offer him new powers; you exact of him the application of new laws. What is his reply? “I do not desire these powers.
I do not engage to execute these laws."
And I, in my turn, reply: These magistrates who are not willing to exercise those functions that have reference to new laws, have they, in disobeying, abdicated their offices, and resigned their commissions? Unless they have done this, then is their conduct inconsistent with their principles. “We are justified," they say, “ by our conscience, in disobeying the laws." Their conscience, like that of all men, is the result of their ideas, their sentiments, their habits of thought and action. Let them cease to be magistrates, these men who presume to regard the eternal rights of the people as “new laws; who reverence despotic authority, and whose conscience is wounded by the public liberty. Let them abdicate, and become once more as simple citizens ! Who will regret them ?
Have not all the parliaments of the kingdom recognized the principle that the interruption of justice is a crime — that combined resignations are a forfeiture? The magistrate, the soldier, every man who has public functions to fulfill, may abdicate his place; but can he desert his post ? Can he quit it in the critical moment, at the approach of a combat, when his services are needed ? In such a moment, the refusal of the soldier would be an act of cowardice - the pretended scruples of magistrates would be a crime.
The principle of these refractory officers is, that they will obey such laws only as suit them; in other words, they will obey only themselves. If this be not a folly and a crime, what is our business here? What need of legislation ? What is our power ?
* In the French National Assembly, every speaker who formally addresses that body, instead of speaking from his place, as in the legislative halls of England and the United States, ąscends a sort of elevated platform, called a tribune, from which he harangues his hearers.