Abbildungen der Seite
PDF

know, are of modem invention; and so are the offices of tribunes, ædiles, quæstors. Within these ten years we have made decemvirs, and we have unmade them. Is nothing to be done but what has been done before ? That very law forbidding marriages of patricians with plebeians, is not that a new thing? was there any such law before the decemvirs enacted it? and a most shameful one it is in a free estate. Such marriages, it seems, will taint the pure blood of the nobility! why, if they think so, let them take care to match their sisters and daughters with men of their own sort. No plebeian will do violence to the daughter of a patrician; those are exploits for our prime nobles. There is no need to fear, that we shall force any body into a contract of marriage. But, to make an express law to prohibit marriages of patricians with plebeians, what is this but to shew the utmost contempt of us, and to declare one part of the community to be impure and unclean?

They talk to us of the confusion there will be in families, if this statute should be repealed. I wonder they do not make a law against a commoner's living near a nobleman, or going the fame road that he is going, or being present at the same feast, or appearing in the same market-place : they might as well pretend that these things make confusion in families, as that intermarriages will do it. Does not every one know, that the child will be ranked according to the quality of his father, let him be a patrician or a plebeian? In short, it is manifest enough, that we have nothing in view but to be treated as men and citizens; nor can they who oppose our demand have any motive to do it, but the love of domineering. I would fain know of you, consuls and patricians, is the sovereign power in the peo. pie of 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 tjie field?

Hearme, 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 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 meritindifferently, 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 somuch despise, and towhom you are nevertheless indebted for all your victories, shall never more inlist themselves; not a man of them (hall 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. Hooke.

§ 28. Speech U/demosthenes to tit Athenians, exciting them to prosecute the War again/} Philip wilt Figour.

Athenians!

Had this assembly been called together on an unusual occasion, I should have waited to hear the opinions of others before I had offered my own; and if what they proposed had seemed to me judicious, I should have been silent; if otherwise, I should have given my reasons for differing from those who had spoken before me. But as the subject of our present deliberations has been often treated by others, I hope I shall be excused, though I rise up first to offer my opinion. Had the schemes formerly proposed been successful, there had been no occasion for the present consultation.

First then, my countrymen, let me in.

treat you not to look upon the state of our

7 affairs affairs as desperate, though it be unpromising: for, as on one hand, to compare the present with times past, matters have indeed a very gloomy aspect; so, on the other, if we extend our views to future times, I have good hopes that the distresses we are now under will prove of greater advantage to us than if we had never fallen into them. If it be asked, what probability there is of this? 1 answer, I hope it will appear that it is our egregious misbehaviour alone that has brought as into these disadvantageous circumstances; from which follows the necessity of altering our conduct, and the prospect of bettering our circumstances by doing so.

If we had nothing to accuse ourselves of, and yet found our affairs in their present disorderly condition, we should not have room left even for the hope of recovering ourselves. But, my countrymen, it is known to you, partly by your own remembrance, and partly by information from others, how gloriously the Lacedæmonian war was sustained, in which we engaged in defence of our own rights, against an enemy powerful and formidable; in the whole conduct of which war nothing happened unworthy the dignity of the Athenian state; and this within these few years past. My intention, in recalling to your memory this part of our history, is—to Ihew you that you have no reason to fear any enemy, if your operations be wisely planned, and vigorously executed.

The enemy has indeed gained considerable advantages, by treaty as well as by conquest ; for it is to be expected, that princes and states will court the alliance of those who seem powerful enough to protect both themselves and their confederates. But, my countrymen, though you have of late been too supinely negligent of what concerned you so nearly, if you will, even now, resolve to exert yourselves unanimously, each according to his respective abilities and circumstances, the rich by contributing liberally towards the expenceof the war, and the rest by presenting themselves to be inrolled to malt£ up the deficiencies of the army and navy; if, in ihort, you will at last resume your

own character, and act like yourselves— it is not yet too late, with the help of Heaven, to recover what you have lost, and to inflict the just vengeance on your insolent enemy.

But when will you, my countrymen, when will you rouze from your indolence, and bethink yourselves of what is to be done? When you are forced to it by some fatal disaster ? when irresistible necessity drives you ?-—What think ye of the disgraces which are already come upon you? is not the past sufficient to stimulate your activity ? or do ye wait for somewhat yet to come, more forcible and urgent?—How long will you amuse yourselves with enquiring of one another after news as you ramble idly about the streets? what news so strange ever came to Athens, as that a Macedonian should subdue this state, and lord it over Greece? Again, you ask one another "What, Is Philip "dead ?"_«' No," it is answered; *' but he is very ill." How foolish this curiosity! Whatisit to you whether Philip is fick^-or well? suppose he were dead, your inactivity would soon raise up against yourselves another Philip in his stead; for it is not his strength that has made him what he is, but your indolence, which has of late been such, that you seem neither in a condition to take any advantage of the enemy, nor to keep it, if it were gained by others for you.

Wisdom directs, that the conductors of a war always anticipate the operations of the enemy, instead of waiting to see what steps he shall take; whereas you, Athenians, though you be masters of ail that is necessary for war, as shipping, cavalry, infantry, and funds, have not the spirit to make theproper use of your advantages, but suffer the enemy to dictate to you every motion you are to make. If you hear that Philip is in the Chersonesus, you order troops to be sent thither; ifatPylæ, forces are to be detached to secure that post. Whereever he makes an attack, there you stand upon your defence; you attend him in all his motions, as soldiers do their general: but you never think of striking out of yourselves any bold and effectual scheme for bringing him to

reason*

reason, by being before-hand with him. A pitiful manner os carrying on war at any time; but, in the critical circumstances you are now in, utterly ruinous.

O (hame to the Athenian name! We undertook this war against Philip in order to obtain redress of grievances, and to force him to indemnify us for the injuries he had done us; and we have conducted it so successfully, that we shall by and by think ourselves happy if we escape being defeated and ruined. For, who can think that a prince of his restless and ambitious temper will not improve the opportunities and advantages which our indolence and timidity present him? will he give over his designs against us, without being obliged to it? and who will oblige him? who will restrain his fury ? shall we wait for assistance from some unknown country?—In the name of all that is sacred, and all that is dear to us, let us make an attempt with what forces we can raise, if we mould not be able to raise as many as we would wist): let us do somewhat to curb this insolent tyrant of his pursuits. Let us not trifle away the time in hearing the ineffectual wranglings of orators, while the enemy is strengthening himself and we are declining, and our allies growing more and more cold to our interest, and more apprehensive of the consequences of continuing on our side.

Dtmcji. Orat.

§ 29. The Charadcr of Martin Luther.

While appearances of danger daily increased, and the tempest which had been so long a gathering was ready to break forth in all its violence against the protestant church, Luther was saved by a seasonable death from feeling or beholding its destructive rage.. Having gone, though in, a declining state of health, and during a rigorous season, to his native city of Eifleben, in order to compose, by his authority, a dissension among the counts of Mansfield, he was seized with a violent inflammation in his stomach, which in a few days put an end to his life, in the sixty-third

ear of his age. As he was raised up

j Prgyiderjce to be the author of one

of the greatest and most interesting revolutions recorded in history, there i\ not any person, perhaps, whose character has been drawn with such opposite colours. In his own age, one party, struck with horror and inflamed with rage, when they saw with what a daring hand he overturned every thing which,, they held to be sacred, or valued as beneficial, imputed to him not only all the defects and vices of 4 man, but the qualities of a dæmon. The other, warmed with admiration and gratitude, which they thought he merited, as the restorer of light and liberty to theChristian church, ascribed to him perfections above the condition of humanity, and viewed all his actions with a veneration bordering on that which should be paid only to those who are guided by the immediate inspiration of Heaven. It is his own conduct, not the undistinguifhing censure, nor the exaggerated praise of his contemporaries, which ought to regulate the opinions of the present age concerning him. Zeal for what he regarded as truth, undaunted intrepidity to maintain it, abilities both, natural and acquired to defend it, and unwearied industry to propagate it, are virtues which shine so conspicuously in, every part of his behaviour, that even his enemies must allow him to have pof. sessed them in an eminent degree. To these may be added, with equal justice, such purity, and even austerity of manners, as became one who assumed the character of a reformer; such sanctity of life as suited the doctrine which he delivered; and such perfect disinterestedness as affords no slight presumption of his sincerity. Superior to all selfish, considerations, a stranger to the elegancies of life, and despising its pleasures, be left the honours and emoluments of the church to his disciples; remaining satisfied himself in his original state of professor in the university, and pastor to the town of Wittemberg, with the moderateappointments annexed to these offices. His extraordinary qualities were alloyed with no inconsiderable mixture of human frailty, and human, passions. These, however, were of such a nature, that they cannot be imputed to malevolence or corruption of heart, but seem to have taken their rise from the same source With mnnyof his virtues. His mind, forcible and vehement in all its operations, roused by great objects, or agitated by violent pafiions, broke out, on many occasions, with an impetuosity which astonishes men of feebler spirits, or such as are placed in a more tranquil situation. By carrying some praise-worthy dispositions to excess, he bordered sometimes on what was culpable, and was often betrayed into actions which exposed him to censure. His confidence that his own opinions were well founded, approached to arrogance; his courage in asserting them, to rashness ; his firmness in adhering to them, to obstinacy; and his zeal in confuting his adversaries, to rage and scurrility. Accustomed himself to consider every thing as subordinate to truth, he expected the same deference for it from other men; and, without making any allowances for their timidity or prejudices, he poured forth, against those who disappointed him in this particular, a torrent of invective mingled with contempt. Regardless of any distinction of rank or character, when his doctrines were attacked, he chastised all his adversaries, indiscriminately, with the same rough hand; neither the royal dignity of Henry VIII. nor the eminent learning and ability of Erasmus, screened them from the same abuse with which he treated Tetzel or Eccius.

But these indecencies of which Luther was guilty, mull not be imputed wholly to the violence of his temper. They ought to be charged, in part, on the manners of the age. Among a rude people, unacquainted with those maxims, which, by putting continual restraint on the passions of individuals, have polished society, and rendered it agreeable, disputes of every kind were managed with heat, and strong emotions were uttered in their natural Lnguage, without reserve or delicacy. At the same time, the works of learned men were all composed in Latin; and they were not only authorized, by the example of eminent writers in that language, to use their antagonists with the molt illiberal scurrility; but, in a dead tongue, indecencies of every kind appear I ss shocking than in a living lan

guage, whose idioms and phrases seem gross, because they are familiar.

In passing judgment upon the characters of men, we ought to try them by the principles and maxims of their own age, not by those of another. For although virtue and vice are at all times the fame, manners and customs vary continually. Some parts of Luther's behaviour, which to us appear most culpable, gave no disgust to his contemporaries. It was even by some of those qualities which we are now apt to blame, that he was fitted for accomplishing the great work which he undertook. To rouse mankind, when sunk in ignorance or superstition, and to encounter the rage of bigotry, armed with power, required the utmost vehemence of zeal, and a temper daring to excess. A gentle call would neither have reached, nor have excited those to whom it was addressed. A spirit, more amiable, but less vigorous than Luther's, would have shrunk back from the dangers which he braved and surmounted. Towards the close of Luther's life, though without any perceptible declension of his zeal or abilities, the infirmities of his temper increased upon him, so that he grew daily more peevish, more irascible, and more impatient of contradiction. Having lived to be witness of his own amazing success ; to fee a great part of Europe embrace his doctrines; and to shake the foundation of the Papal throne, before which the mightiest: monarchs had trembled, he discovered, on some occasions, symptoms of vanity and self-applause. He must have been indeed more than man, if, upon contemplating all that he actually accomplished, he had never felt any sentiment of this kind rising in his breast.

Some time before his death, he felt his strength declining, his constitution being worn out by a prodigious multiplicity of business, added to the labour of discharging his ministerial function with unremitting diligence, to the fatigue of constant study, besides the composition of works as voluminous as if lie had enjoyed uninterrupted leisure and retirement. His natural intrepidity did not forsake him at the approach os death j his last conversation with his

friends friends was concerning the happiness reserved for good men in a future world, of which he spoke with the fervour and delight natural to one who expected and wished to enter soon upon the enjoyment of it. The account of his death filled the Roman Catholic party with excessive as well as indecent joy, and damped the spirits of all his followers; neither party sufficiently considering that his doctrines were now so firmly rooted, as to be in a condition to flourish, independent of the hand which first had planted them. His funeral was celebrated, by order of the Elector of Saxony, with extraordinary pomp. He left several children by his wife, Catharine Bore*, who survived him: towards the end of the last century, there were in Saxony some of his descendants in decent and honourable stations. Robertson.

§30. Part e^ClCERO'/O ration against Verres.

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 palled 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 soould 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 cafe was not a criminal nor a prosecutor, butjuiliceaad adequatepunilhment.

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? CneiusCarbq 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 rights of a people violated. The employment he held in Asia Minor and Pamphylia, 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 f Let the plundered temples,' and public works, neglected, that he might embezzle the money intended for carrying them on, bear witness. But his prætoi ship 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 os 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 unheardof impositions, 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 staves, 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 andravagers: the soldiery and sailors belonging to a province under the proM in z tection

« ZurückWeiter »