« PreviousContinue »
securing my own life. So far from being in a condition to defend my kingdom from the violence of the usurper, I am obliged to apply for foreign protection for my own person.
Fathers! Senators of Rome! The arbiters of the world! to you I fly for refuge from the murderous fury of Jugurtha. By your affection for your children, by your love for your country, by your own virtues, by the majesty of the ' Roman commonwealth, by all that is sacred, and all that is dear to you-deliver a wretched prince from undeserved, unprovoked injury; and save the kingdom of Numidia, which is your own property, from being the prey of violence, usurpation, and cruelty.
IX.-Speech of Canuleius to the Consuls; in which he demands that the Plebeians may be admitted into the Consulship, and that the laws prohibiting Patricians and Plebeians from intermarrying, may be repealed.
WHAT an insult upon us is this! If we are not so rich as the Patricians, are we not citizens of Rome as well as they? inhabitants of the same country? members of the same community? The nations bordering upon Rome, and even strangers more remote, are admitted, not only to marriage with us, but to what is of much greater importance, the freedom of the city. Are we, because we are commoners, to be worse treated than strangers?-And, when we demand that the people may be free to bestow their offices and dignities on whom they please, do we ask any thing unreasonable or new? Do we claim more than their original inherent right? What occasion, then, for all this uproar, as if the universe were falling to ruin? They were just going to lay violent hands upon me in the senate house.
What! must this empire, then, be unavoidably overturned; must Rome of necessity sink at once, if a Plebeian, worthy of the office, should be raised to the consulship? The Patricians, I am persuaded, if they could, would deprive you of the common light. It certainly offends them that. you breathe, that you speak, that you have the shapes of men. Nay, but to make a commoner a consul, would be, say they, a most enormous thing. Numa Pompilius, however, without being so much as a Roman citizen, was made king of Rome. The elder Tarquin, by birth not even an Italian, was nevertheless placed upon the throne. Servius Tullius, the son of a captive woman, (nobody knows who his father was) obtained the kingdom, as the reward of his wis
dom and virtue. In those days, no man in whom virtue shone conspicuous was rejected or despised on account of his race and descent. And did the state prosper the less for that? Were not these strangers the very best of all our kings? And, supposing, now, that a Plebeian should have their talents and merit, would he be suffered to govern us?
But, "we find, that, upon the abolition of the regal power, no commoner was chosen to the consulate." And what of that? Before Numa's time, there were no pontiffs in Rome. Before Servius Tullius' days, there was no census, no division of the people into classes and centuries. Who ever heard of consuls before the expulsion of Tarquin the proud? Dictators, we all know, are of modern invention; and so are the officers 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 state. 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 show 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 would be in fami lies, if this statue should be repealed. I wonder they don't make a law against a commoner's living near a nobleman, or going the same 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 children will be ranked according to the quality of their 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 people 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 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 alonetalk 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 armsnot 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 kirg 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