« PreviousContinue »
The ceaseless clangour, and the rush of men
The grey morn
EXTRACT FROM AN ORATION OF ÆSCHINES AGAINST DE
What ?- Is the man, whom you propose to be crowned, of such a description, that he cannot be known by those who have been benefited by him, unless there be somebody to speak for you? Ask, then, the judges, if they knew Chabrias, and Iphicrates, and Timotheus; and inquire of them, wherefore they gave them rewards and erected statues to their honour ? They all, with one voice, will answer, that it was to Chabrias, on account of the naval victory at Naxos,-to Iphicrates, because he cut in pieces the Lacedæmonian legion,—to Timotheus, for the relief of Corcyra, -and to others, because many and honourable exploits had been performed by them in war.
And if any one should inquire of you, why you will not give them to Demosthenes, your answer should be, Because he has taken bribes,-because he is a coward,-because he has deserted his post in the field ! And whether (think you) will you honour him, or dishonour yourselves, and those who have died for you in battle—whom imagine you see bewailing—if this man shall be crowned ? For it would be monstrous, O Athenians! should you honour Demosthenes, the man who proposed the last of all your expeditions, and betrayed your soldiers to the enemy !
But, what is the most important of all, if your youths should inquire of you, upon what model they ought to form their conduct, what will you answer ? For you well know, that it is not the Palæstras alone, nor the schools, nor music, which instruct your youth, but much more the public proclamations.
Is any man, scandalous in his life, and odious for his vices, proclaimed in the theatre as having been crowned on account of his virtue, his general excellence and patriotism !--the youth who witnesses it is depraved. Does any profligate and abandoned libertine, like Ctesiphon, suffer punishment! -all other persons are instructed. Does a man, who has given a vote against what is honourable and just, upon his return home,- attempt to teach his son ? He, with good reason, will not listen; and that which would otherwise be instruction, is justly termed importunity.
Do you, thercfore, give your votes not merely as deciding the present cause, but with a view to consequences--for your justification to those citizens, who are not now present, but who will demand an account from you of the judgment which you have pronounced. For you know full well, O Athenians! that the credit of the city will be such as is the character of the person who is crowned ; and it is a disgrace for you to be likened, not to your ancestors, but to the cowardice of Demosthenes.
FROM THE SAME.
Our city is scandalized on account of the measures of Demosthenes. And you will appear, if you should crown him, to be of the same mind with those who are violating the common peace; but if you act contrariwise, you will acquit the people of the charge.
Do you therefore deliberate, not as on behalf of a foreign country, but your own, and do not distribute
honours as of course, but discriminate, and set apart your rewards for more worthy persons and men of better account. And make use not of your ears only, when you consult, but of your eyes, looking round amongst each other to see, what manner of persons they are, who are about to come forward in support of Demosthenes ;-whether his partners in the chase, or companions in exercises during his youth. But no,—by the Olympian Jupiter !-he has not been in the habit of hunting the wild boar, or attending to graces of the body, but he has been constantly practising arts to rob the wealthy of their estates. Bear also in mind his boastfulness, when he asserts, that he rescued Byzantium out of the gripe of Philip as ambassador, and drew off the Acarnanians from his cause, and roused the Thebans by his harangues. For he supposes that you are arrived at such a pitch of simplicity as to be gulled into a belief of all this ; as if you were cherishing amongst you, not a vagabond of a common informer, but the goddess of persuasion herself.
But when, at the conclusion of his speech, he shall call before you, as advocates, the partakers of his bribes, believe that you see, upon this rostrum, where I am now standing to address you, drawn up in array against their effrontery, the great benefactors of their country-Solon, who adorned the democracy with the most excellent laws,-a wise man, a good lawgiver, mildly, as befitted him, entreating you not to make the speeches of Demosthenes of more avail than your oaths and the laws ;-Aristides too, who settled their contributions for the Greeks, and upon whose death the people portioned his daughters, demanding, if you are not ashamed that your ancestors were upon the very point of putting to death Arthmius of Zelia, who brought the money of the Persians into Greece, and journeyed into our city, being then a public guest of the people of Athens, and did ex
pel him from the city and all the dependencies of the Athenians,—and that you are about to crown Demosthenes, who did not bring the money of the Persians into Greece, but himself received bribes, and moreover even now retains them, with a golden crown! Do you not imagine that Themistocles also, and those who fell at Marathon and at Platæa, and the very tombs of our ancestors, will raise a groan, if this man, who, avowedly siding with Barbarians, opposed the Greeks, shall be crowned ?
. I then, -I call you to witness, ye Earth, and Sun !-and Virtue, and Intellect, and Education, by which we distinguish what is honourable from what is base,-have given my help and have spoken. And if I have conducted the accusation adequately, and in a manner worthy of the transgression of the laws, I have spoken as I wished ;-if imperfectly, then only as I have been able. But do
both from what has been said, and what has been omitted, of yourselves decide as is just and convenient on behalf of the country'
BIRTHRIGHT OF AMERICANS. Extract from an Oration, by Powell Mason, Esq. delivered at Boston,
July 4, 1827.
Look where you may over this extensive continent, and the scattered cabins have given place, within a few years, to populous towns, and towns become populous cities. Temples consecrated to God, and edifices devoted to science and literature have with equal rapidity spread themselves over our land.
We are furnished with a navy, which already acknowledges but one rival ; with an army peculiarly adapted to our character and situation.
Inheriting the language, the laws, and the literature of the most civilised and improved nation of the world, and assisted by the energy, activity, industry and spirit of improvement, which institutions such as ours are calculated to infuse; from being the depressed and dependent colonies of that nation, we have at once become an independent and powerful people, competing with our parent country in every thing which tends to advance and strengthen us as a nation, and to improve and ennoble us as human beings.
This is the patrimony which our fathers have left us. But great as it is, is it all that we receive from them? Oh no; far otherwise. This fair continent, these growing cities, this excellent form of government, these free institutions, and all the care, labour and danger they have undergone for
up but a small part of what we receive from them.
It is the example they have left us; the virtues they practised; the spirit of liberty which they cherished; their high and ennobling sentiments; their pure patriotism ; their untiring zeal; the resistless energy they displayed in the service of their country and fellow men; their freedom from low and selfish ambition; their manners, principles and feelings. This is the priceless gift, which calls for our gratitude and praise.
Let every other vestige of these men be destroyed and forgotten. Let our fruitful fields again become pathless wilds. The savage return to his ancient haunts. Let all the institutions of civil government, all the establishments of religion, science and the arts be erased, and these twenty-four united and powerful states again dwindle into twelve disconnected and dependent colonies, and yet, inheriting the manners, principles and feelings of our ancestors, estimating them as we ought, and practising upon them, and a few years would again restore us to our present state of wealth, power and happiness.
MOTIVES TO PATRIOTISM.
From the same.
THERE are periods of the world, and portions of the earth, in which whole generations of men may go down silently and unnoticed to their graves, and at least enjoy the privilege of being forgotten ; when, if they may not dare to expect the praises of posterity, they may yet hope to escape its reproaches. But such is not the period in which we live, nor such the country we inhabit.
I will not endeavour to stimulate you to the performance of your duties, by promising you an immortality of fame in after ages. : No; this is your birthright; you cannot lose it. Neglect these duties, ruin your country, and disappoint the world; yet, fear not, your names shall be immortal, as immortal as your ancestors.