Page images

In acts of beneficence, further, we differ from the many. We preserve friends, not by receiving but by conferring obligations. For he who does a kindness hath the advantage over him who, by the law of gratitude, becomes a debtor to his benefactor. The person obliged is compelled to act the more insipid part, conscious that a return of kindness is merely a payment, and not an obligation. And we alone are splendidly beneficent to others, not so much from interested motive as for the credit of pure liberality. I shall sum up what yet remains, by only adding, that our Athens, in general, is the school of Greece: and that every single Athenian among us is excellently formed, by his personal qualifications, for all the various scenes of active life, acting with a most graceful demeanour, and a most ready habit of dispatch.

That I have not, on this occasion, made use of a pomp of words, but the truth of facts, that height to which, by such a conduct, this state hath rose, is an undeniable proof. For we are now the only people of the world who are found by experience to be greater than in report; the only people who, repelling the attacks of an invading enemy, exempts their defeat from the blush of indignation, and to their tributaries no discontent, as if subject to men unworthy to command. That we deserve our power, we need no evidence to manifest: we have great and signal proofs of this, which entitle us to the admiration of the present and of future ages. We want no Homer to be the herald of our praise; no poet to deck off a history with the charms of verse, where the opinion of exploits must suffer by a strict relation. Every sea hath been opened by our fleets, and every land been penetrated by our armies, which have everywhere left behind them eternal monuments of our enmity and our friendship.

In the just defence of such a state, these victims of their own valour, scorning the ruin threatened to it, have valiantly fought and bravely died. And every one of those who survive is ready, I am persuaded, to sacrifice life in such a cause. And for this reason have I enlarged so much on national points, to give the clearest proof that in the present war we have more at stake than men whose public advantages are not so valuable; and to illustrate by actual evidence how great a commendation is due to them who are now my subjects, and the greatest part of which they have already received. For the encomiums with which I have celebrated the state have been earned for it by the bravery of these, and of men like these. And such compliments might be thought too high and exaggerated if passed

[ocr errors]

on any Grecians but them alone. The fatal period to which these gallant souls are now reduced is the surest evidence of their merit, -an evidence begun in their lives and completed by their deaths: for it is a debt of justice to pay superior honours to men who have devoted their lives in fighting for their country, though inferior to others in every virtue but that of valour. Their last service effaceth all former demerits,-it extends to the public; their private demeanors reached only to a few. Yet not one of these was at all induced to shrink from danger, through fondness of those delights which the peaceful, affluent life bestows; not one was the less lavish of his life through that flattering hope attendant upon want, that poverty at length might be exchanged for affluence. One passion there was in their minds much stronger than these, the desire of vengeance on their enemies. Regarding this as the most honourable prize of dangers, they boldly rushed towards the mark, to seek revenge, and then to satisfy those secondary passions. The uncertain event they had already secured in hope; what their eyes showed plainly must be done, they trusted their own valour to accomplish, thinking it more glorious to defend themselves and die in the attempt, than to yield and live. From the reproach of cowardice, indeed, they fled, but presented their bodies to the shock of battle; when, insensible of fear, but triumphing in hope, in the doubtful charge they instantly drop; and thus discharged the duty which brave men owe to their country.


As for you who now survive them, it is your business to pray for a better fate,—but to think it your duty also to preserve the same spirit and warmth of courage against your enemies; not judging the expediency of this from a mere harangue-where any man, indulging a flow of words, may tell you, what you yourselves know as well as he, how many advantages there are in fighting valiantly against your enemies-but rather making the daily increasing grandeur of this community the object of your thoughts, and growing quite enamoured of it. when it really appears great to your apprehensions, think again, that this grandeur was acquired by brave and valiant men; by men who knew their duty, and in the moments of action were sensible of shame; who, whenever their attempts were unsuccessful, thought it dishonourable their country should stand in need of anything their valour could do for it, and so made it the most glorious present. Bestowing thus their lives on the public, they have every one received a praise that will never decay, a sepulchre that will be most illustrious. Not that in which their bones are mouldering, but that

in which their fame is preserved, to be on every occasion, when honour is the employ of either word or act, eternally remembered. This whole earth is a sepulchre of illustrious men; nor is it the inscription on the columns in their native soil that alone shows their merit, but the memorial of them, better than all inscriptions, in every foreign nation, reposited more durably in universal remem brance than on their own tomb. From this very moment, emulating these noble patterns, placing your happiness in liberty, and liberty in valour, be prepared to encounter all the dangers of war. For, to be lavish of life is not so noble in those whom misfortunes have reduced to misery and despair, as in men who hazard the loss of a comfortable subsistence, and the enjoyment of all the blessings this world affords, by an unsuccessful enter prise. Adversity after a series of ease and affluence sinks deeper into the heart of a man of spirit than the stroke of death insensibly received in the vigour of life and public hope.

For this reason, the parents of those who are now gone, whoever of them may be attending here, I do not bewail,-I shall rather comfort. It is well known to what unhappy accidents they were liable from the moment of their birth, and that happiness belongs to men who have reached the most glorious period of life, as these now have who are to you the source of sorrow; those whose life hath received its ample measure, happy in its continuance, and equally happy in its conclusion. I know it in truth a difficult truth to fix comfort in those breasts which will have frequent remembrances in seeing the happiness of others of what they once themselves enjoyed. And sorrow flows not from the absence of those good things we have never yet experienced, but from the loss

of those to which we have been accustomed. They who are not yet by age exempted from issue, should be comforted in the hope of having more. The children yet to be born will be a private benefit to some, in causing them to forget such as no longer are, and will be a double benefit to their country, in preventing its desolation, and providing for its security. For those persons cannot in common justice be regarded as members of equal value to the public, who have no children to expose to danger for its safety. But you whose age is already far advanced, compute the greater share of happiness your longer time hath afforded for so much gain; persuaded in yourselves the remainder will be but short, and enlighten that space by the glory gained by these. It is greatness of soul alone that never grows old; nor is it wealth that delights in the latter stage of life, as some give out, so much as honour.

To you, the sons and brothers of the deceased, whatever number of you are here, a field of hardy contention is opened. For him who no longer is, every one is ready to commend; so that to whatever height you push your deserts, you will scarce ever be thought to equal, but to be somewhat inferior, to these. Envy will exert itself against a competitor whilst life remains : but when death stops the competition, affection will applaud without restraint. If, after this, it be expected from me to say any thing to you who are now reduced to a state of widowhood, about female virtue, I shall express it all in one short admonition: It is your greatest glory not to be deficient in the virtue peculiar to your sex, and to give the men as little handle as possible to talk of your behaviour, whether well or ill.

I have now discharged the province allotted me by the laws, and said what I thought most pertinent to this assembly. Our departed friends have by facts been already honoured. Their children, from this day till they arrive at manhood, shall be educated at the public expense of the state, which hath appointed so beneficial a meed for these and all future relics of the public contests. For wherever the greatest rewards are proposed for virtue, there the best of patriots are ever to be found.

Now let every one respectively indulge the decent grief for his departed friends, and then retire.

[blocks in formation]

"We have all, in our early education, read the Verrine Orations. We read them not merely to instruct us, as they will do, in the principles of eloquence, and to acquaint us with the manners, customs, and laws of the ancient Romans, of which they are an abundant repository, but we may read them from a much higher motive.

"We may read them from a motive which the

great author had doubtless in his view, when by publishing them he left to the world and to the latest posterity a monument by which it may be seen what course a great public accuser in a great public cause ought to pursue; and, as connected with it, what course judges ought to pursue in deciding upon such a cause."-EDMUND BURKE: eral Reply, Ninth Day, June 16, 1794. Impeachment of Warren Hastings, Speech in Gen


The time is come, Fathers, when that which has long been wished for, towards allaying the envy your order has been subject to, and removing the imputations

against trials, is (not by human contrivance but superior direction) effectually put in our power. An opinion has long prevailed, not only here at home, but likewise in foreign countries, both dangerous to you and pernicious to the state, viz., that in prosecutions men of wealth are always safe, however clearly convicted. There is now to be brought upon his trial before you, to the confusion, I hope, of the propagators of this slanderous imputation, one whose life and actions condemn him in the opinion of all impartial persons, but who, according to his own reckoning, and declared dependence upon his riches, is already acquitted: I mean Caius Verres. If that sentence is passed upon him which his crimes deserve, your authority, Fathers, will be venerable and sacred in the eyes of the public: but if his great riches should bias you in his favour, I shall still gain one point, viz., to make it apparent to all the world that what was wanting in this case was not a criminal nor a prosecutor, but justice and adequate punishment.

To pass over the shameful irregularities of his youth, what does his quæstorship, the first public employment he held, what does it exhibit but one continued scene of villanies? Cneius Carbo plundered of the public money by his own treasurer, a consul stripped and betrayed, an army deserted and reduced to want, a province robbed, the civil and religious right of a people violated. The employment he held in Asia Minor and Pamphilia, what did it produce but the ruin of those countries? in which houses, cities, and temples were robbed by him.

What was his conduct in his prætorship here at home?

Let the plundered temples, and public works neglected that he might embezzle the money intended for carrying them on, bear witness. But his prætorship in Sicily crowns all his works of wickedness, and finishes a lasting monument to his infamy. The mischiefs done by him in that country during the three years of his iniquitous administration are such that many years under the wisest and best of prætors will not be sufficient to restore things to the condition in which he found them. For it is notorious that during the time of his tyranny the Sicilians neither enjoyed the protection of their own original laws, of the regulations made for their benefit by the Roman Senate upon their coming under the protection of the commonwealth, nor of the natural and unalienable rights of men. His nod has decided all causes in Sicily for these three years; and his decisions have broke all law, all precedent, all right. The sums he has, by arbitrary taxes and unheard of imposi

tions, extorted from the industrious poor, are not to be computed. The most faithful allies of the commonwealth have been treated as enemies. Roman citizens have, like slaves, been put to death with tortures. The most atrocious criminals, for money, have been exempted from the deserved punishments; and men of the most unexceptionable characters condemned and banished, unheard. The harbours, though sufficiently fortified, and the gates of strong towns, opened to pirates and ravagers; the soldiery and sailors belonging to a province under the protection of the commonwealth starved to death; whole fleets, to the great detriment of the province, suffered to perish; the ancient monuments of either Sicilian or Roman greatness, the statues of heroes and princes, carried off; and the temples stripped of the images.

The infamy of his lewdness has been such as decency forbids to describe; nor will I, by mentioning particulars, put those unfortunate persons to fresh pain who have not been able to save their wives and daughters from his impurity. And these his atrocious crimes have been committed in so public a manner that there is no one who has heard of his name but could reckon up his actions. Having, by his iniquitous sentences, filled the prisons with the most industrious and deserving of the people, he then proceeded to order numbers of Roman citizens to be strangled in his gaols; so that the exclamation, I am a citizen of Rome !" which has often, in the most distant regions, and among the most barbarous people, been a protection, was of no service to them, but, on the contrary, brought a speedier and more severe punishment upon them.

I ask now, Verres, what you have to advance against this charge? Will you pretend to deny it? Will you pretend that any thing false, that even any thing aggravated, is alleged against you? Had any prince, or any state, committed the same outrage against the privilege of Roman citizens, should we not think we had sufficient ground for declaring immediate war against them? What punishment ought then to be inflicted upon a tyrannical and wicked prætor who dared, at no greater distance than Sicily, within sight of the Italian coast, to put to the infamous death of crucifixion that unfortunate and innocent citizen, Publius Gavius Cosanus, only for his having asserted his privilege of citizenship, and declared his intention of appealing to the justice of his country against a cruel oppressor, who had unjustly confined him in a prison at Syracuse, from whence he had just made his escape? The unhappy man, arrested as he was going to embark for his native country,

is brought before the wicked prætor. With eyes darting fury, and a countenance distorted with cruelty, he orders the helpless victim of his rage to be stripped and rods to be brought, accusing him, but without the least shadow of evidence, or even of suspicion, of having come to Sicily as a spy. It was in vain that the unhappy man cried out, "I am a Roman citizen! I have served under Lucius Pretius, who is now at Panormus, and will attest my innocence!" The bloodthirsty prætor, deaf to all he could urge in his own defence, ordered the infamous punishment to be inflicted.

Thus, Fathers, was an innocent Roman citizen publicly mangled with scourging; whilst the only words he uttered amidst his cruel sufferings were, "I am a Roman citizen!" With these he hoped to defend himself from violence and infamy; but of so little service was this privilege to him that while he was thus asserting his citizenship the order was given for his execution,-for his execution upon the cross! O liberty! O sound once delightful to every Roman ear! O sacred privilege of Roman citizenship! once sacred, now trampled upon! But what then? is it come to this? Shall an inferior magistrate, a governor, who holds his whole power of the Roman people, in a Roman province, within sight of Italy, bind, Scourge, torture with fire and red-hot plates of iron, and at the last put to the infamous death of the cross, a Roman citizen? Shall neither the cries of innocence expiring in agony, nor the tears of pitying spectators, nor the majesty of the Roman commonwealth, nor the fear of the justice of the country, restrain the licentious and wanton cruelty of a monster, who, in confidence of his riches, strikes at the root of liberty, and

sets mankind at defiance?

I conclude with expressing my hopes that your wisdom and justice, Fathers, will not, by suffering the atrocious and unexampled insolence of Caius Verres to escape the due punishment, leave room to apprehend the danger of a total subversion of authority, and introduction of general anarchy and confusion.


a Roman historian, was born at Amiternum, B.C. 86, and died B.C. 34.

"It would seem that Sallust took Thucydides for his model, but his writings will bear no comparison as to philosophic depth and insight with the immortal work of the Greek historian.

Yet his observations, if seldom profound, are always sensible, and show great shrewdness and sagacity. But it is in the delineation of character that he more especially excels. His portrait of

Catiline, brief as it is, entitles us to place him on a par in this respect with Tacitus and Clarendon. He has often been accused of partiality, but so far charge is unfounded. Like all ancient historians, as our limited knowledge enables us to judge, the with the exception of Polybius, he introduced fictitious speeches into his histories. Thus we find him assigning orations of his own composing to Cato and Cæsar, although the speeches really delivered by them were extant when he wrote."G., in Imperial Dict. of Univ. Biography, v. 889.





It is but too common, my countrymen, to observe a material difference between the behaviour of those who stand candidates for places of power and trust, before and after their obtaining them. They solicit them in one manner, and execute them in another. They set out with a great appearance of activity, humility, and moderation; and they quickly fall into sloth, pride, and avarice. It is, undoubtedly, no easy matter to discharge, to the general satisfaction, the duty of a supreme commander in troublesome times. I am, I hope, duly sensible of the importance of the office I propose to take upon ine for the service of my country. To carry on, with effect, an expensive war, and yet be frugal of the public money; to oblige those to serve, whom it may be delicate to offend; to conduct, at the same time, a complicated variety of operations; to concert measures at home, answerable to the state of things abroad; and to gain every valuable end, in spite of opposition from the envious, the factious, and the disaffected,-to do all this, my countrymen, is more difficult than is generally thought.

But besides the disadvantages which are common to me with all others in eminent stations, my case is, in this respect, peculiarly hard, that whereas a commander of Patrician rank, if he is guilty of a neglect or breach of duty, has his great connections, the antiquity of his family, the important services of his ancestors, and the multitudes he has by power engaged in his interest, to screen him from condign punishment, my whole safety depends upon myself; which renders it the more indispensably necessary and unexceptionable. Besides, I am well for me to take care that my conduct be clear aware, my countrymen, that the eye of the public is upon me; and that, though the impartial, who prefer the real advantage of the commonwealth to all other considerations, favour my pretensions, the Patricians want nothing so much as an occasion against me. It is, therefore, my fixed resolution to use my best endeavours that you be not disap

pointed in me, and that their indirect designs against me may be defeated.

I have, from my youth, been familiar with toils and with dangers. I was faithful to your interest, my countrymen, when I served you for no reward but that of honour. It is not my design to betray you now that you have conferred upon me a place of profit. You have committed to my conduct the war against Jugurtha. The Patricians are of fended at this. But where would be the wisdom of giving such a command to one of their honourable body? a person of illustrious birth, of ancient family, of innumerable statues, but-of no experience! What service would his long line of dead ancestors, or his multitude of motionless statues, do his country in the day of battle? What could such a general do, but in his trepidation and inexperience have recourse to some inferior commander for direction in difficulties to which he was not himself equal? Thus your Patrician general would, in fact, have a general over him; so that the acting commander would still be a Plebeian. So true is this, my countrymen, that I have myself known those who have been chosen consuls begin then to read the history of their own country, of which till that time they were totally ignorant; that is, they first obtained the employment, and then bethought themselves of the qualifications necessary for the proper discharge of it.

I submit to your judgment, Romans, on which side the advantage lies, when a comparison is made between Patrician haughtiness and Plebeian experience. The very actions which they have only read, I have partly seen, and partly myself achieved. What they know by reading, I know by action. They are pleased to slight my mean birth; I despise their mean characters. Want of birth and fortune is the objection against me; want of personal worth against them. But are not all men of the same species? What can make a difference between one man and another, but the endowments of the mind? For my part, I shall always look upon the bravest man as the noblest man. Suppose it were enquired of the fathers of such Patricians as Albinus and Bestia, whether, if they had their choice, they would desire sons of their character, or of mine; what would they answer but that they should wish the worthiest to be their sons? If the Patricians have reason despise me, let them likewise despise their ancestors, whose nobility was the fruit of their virtue. Do they envy the honours bestowed upon me? let them envy likewise my labours, my abstinence, and the dangers I have undergone for my country, by which I have acquired them. But those worthless


men lead such a life of inactivity as if they despised any honours they can bestow, while they aspire to honours as if they had deserved them by the most industrious virtue. They lay claim to the rewards of activity for their having enjoyed the pleasures of luxury yet none can be more lavish than they are in praise of their ancestors: and they imagine they honour themselves by celebrating their forefathers; whereas they do the very contrary: for, as much as their ancestors were distinguished for their virtues, so much are they disgraced by their vices. The glory of ancestors casts a light, indeed, upon their posterity; but only serves to show what the descendants are. It alike exhibits to public view their degeneracy and their worth. I own I cannot boast of the deeds of my forefathers; but I hope I may answer the cavils of the Patricians by standing up in defence of what I have myself done.

Observe now, my countrymen, the injustice of the Patricians. They arrogate to themselves honours on account of the exploits done by their forefathers; whilst they will not allow me the due praise for performing the very same sort of actions in my own person. He has no statues, they cry, of his family. He can trace no venerable line of ancestors. What then? Is it matter of more praise to disgrace one's illustrious ancestors than to become illustrious

by one's own behaviour? What if I can show no statues of my family? I can show the standards, the armour, and the trappings which I have myself taken from the vanquished; I can show the scars of those wounds which I have received by facing the enemies of my country. These are my statues. These are the honours I boast of. Not left me by inheritance, as theirs but earned by toil, by abstinence, by valour; amidst clouds of dust and seas of blood: scenes of action, where these effeminate Patricians, who endeavour by indirect means to depreciate me in your esteem, have never dared to show their faces.


(Caius Plinius Cæcilius Secundus), born at Comum, A.D. 61 or 62, died about A.D. 116.

"Pliny wrote and published a great number of books: but nothing has escaped the wreck of time, except the books of Epistles, and the Panegyric upon Trajan,' which has ever been considered as a masterpiece. His letters seem to have been insidered as writing his own memoirs. Every epistle tended for the public; and in them he may be con

is a kind of historical sketch, in which we have a view of him in some striking attitude, either of

« EelmineJätka »