Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

SECTION XIV.

Speech of Caius Marius to the Romans, Showing the absurdity of their hesitating to confer on him the rank of

GENERAL, merely on account of his extraction. It is but too common', my countrymen',” that we observe a material difference in the conduct of those who become candi. dates for places of power and trust', before'.. and after'.. they obtain them'. They solicit offices', in one manner', and execute the duties of them', in another'. They set out with the fair appearance of activity', humility', and moderation'; but soon become slothful',e proud', and avaricious'. To discharge the duties of a supreme commander in troublesome times', in such a manner as to give general satisfaction', is undoubtedly no easy matter'. To carry on with effect', an expensive war', and yet be frugal with the publick môney'; to oblige those to serve whom it may be delicate and dangerous to offend'; to conduct', at one and the same time', a variety of complicated operations'; to concert measures at home strictly answerable to the state of things abroad'; and, in spite of opposition from the envious', the malicious', the factious', and the disaffected', to be successful in gaining every valuable end';—to do all this', my countrymen',' is more difficult than is generally supposed'.

But besides the disadvantages common to the patrician', appointed to an equally eminent station', I am compelled to sustain the weight of others from which he is shielded by his noble bîrth'. If he is guilty of neglect or a breach of trust',

the influence of his formidable connexions', the antiquity of his family', the important services of his ancestors', and the multitudes secured to his interest by the power of his wealth', all tend to screen him from the hands of justice and the infliction of condign punishment'; whereas', my safety depends wholly upon myself. This renders it indispensably necessary', that my conduct be pure' and unexceptionable'.

I am well aware', mya countrymen', that the eye of the publick is upon me'; and that', although the impartial', who prefer the real advantage of the commonwealth', to all other considerations', favour my pretensions', yet the patricians desire nothing more ardently than an accusation against me'. It is my fixed resolution', therefore', to use my best endeavours so to discharge the several duties of my office', that

you

shall aMě. "Kůn'tré 'mén—not, mun. «Diffůr'énse—not, unse. Ap-peer änse-not, unse. e Sloth'ful.

not be disappointed in me', and that their indirect designs against me', shall be frustrated'.

From my youth', I have been familiar with toils and with dangers'. When I served you for no reward but that of honour', I was faithful to your interest': and now that you have conferred upon me a place of profit', it is not my design to betray you'. You have committed to my charge the war against Jugurtha'. At this', the patricians are offended'. But where would be the wisdom of giving such a command to one of their honourable body'?—to 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', render his country in the day of BATTLE'? What could such a general do', amidst difficulties to which he himself is unequal', but', in his trepidation and inexperience', have recourse for direction to some inferiour commander'? 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 were chosen consuls', then to begin to read the history of their own country', of which', until that time', they were totally ignorant';e that is', they first procured the office', and then bethought themselves of the qualifications necessary for the proper discharge of its duties'.

When a comparison is made between patrician haughtiness and plebeiand experience', I submit it to your judgment',' Romans', to determine on which side the advantage lies'. The very actions of which they have only read', I have partly seen', and partly myself achieved'. What they know by reading', I know by experience'. 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 spe. cies'? 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 inquired of the fathers of such patricians as Albinus', and Bestia', whether', were they to have their choice', they would desire sons of their character', or of mine', what would they answer', but', that they would wish the wôrthiest to be their sons'? If the patricians have reason to despise me', let

De-sinze'-not, de zinze. bånetshent. Eks-pe're 'ense-not, unse. JPle bé'yan. Ig'no'rånt-not, runt. 'Jůdje'ment—not, munt. Wer

b

them', likewise', despise their ancestors', whose nobility was the fruit of their virtue'. Do they envy me the honours bestowed upon me'? Let them', likewise', envy my lâbours', my abstinence', and the dangers I have undergone for my country', by which I have acquired those honours'.

Those worthless men lead a life of so great inactivity as to induce the belief that they despise any honours you can bestow', whilst', at the same time', they as eagerly aspire to honours as if they had deserved them by the most industrious course of virtue'. They lay claim to the rewards of activity', for their having enjoyed the pleasures of luxury'. Yet', none can be more lavish than themselves in the praise of their ancestors'. By celebrating their forefathers', they imagine that they honour themselves'; whereas', they thereby do the very reverse'; for', in proportion as their ancestors were distinguished for their virtues', are they disgraced by their vices'. The glory of an. cestors sheds a light', indeed', upon their posterity'; but a light which tends only to reveal the character of their descendants'. It alike exhibits to publick view', both their degeneracy and their worth'. I acknowledge that I cannot boast of the deeds of my forefathers'; but I hope to answer the cavils of the patricians by manfully defending what I have myself accomplished'.

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 meed of praise for performing the very same kind of heroick actions in my own person'. He has no statues of his family', they exclaim'. He can trace back no line of venerable ancestors'. What then'? Is it a subject of higher praise for one to disgrace his illustrious ancestors', than to become illustrious by his own noble behaviour'? What if I can show no statues of my family'? I can exhibit 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 of which I boast'. These were not left me by inheritance', d as theirs were';but they have been earned by toil', by abstinence', by acts of valour amidst clouds of dust and seas of blood';—amidst scenes of peril and carnage in which those effeminate patricians who', by indirect means", endeavour to lower me in your estimation', have never dared to show their faces'.

-Wêr. "De-send'ânts--not, unts. Egz-hib'its. d In-hér'it'anse-not,

e Ab'stě 'nense-Rot, åb'sté 'nunse.

unse.

SECTION XV.

Reply of Mr. Pitt,

(The late Earl of Chatham,) To the charge of youthful inexperience, and theatrical enunciation. This illustrious father of English oratory, when a young member, hav. ing expressed himself, in the House of Commons, with his accustomed energy, in opposition to one of the measures then in agitation, his speech produced an answer from Mr. Walpole, who, in the course of it," said, ás Formidable sounds and furious declamation, confidenta assertions and lofty periods, may affect the young and inexperienced; and, perhaps, the honourable gentleman may have contracted his habits of oratory by conversing more with those of his own age, than with such as have had more opportunities of acquiring knowledge, and more successful methods of communicating their sentiments.” He also made use of certain expressions, such as “vehemenceb of gesture, theatrical emotion,” and the like, applying them to Mr. Pitt's manner of speaking. As soon as Mr. Walpole sat down, Mr. Pitt got up, and replied:

The atrocious crime of being a yoûng mân', which', with so much spirit and decency', the honourable gentleman has charged upon me', I shall neither attempt to palliate', nor deny'; but content myself with wishing', that I may be one of those whose follies cease with their youth'; and not of that number who are ignorant in spite of experience'.

Whether yoûth can be imputed to any man as a reprôach', I will not assume the province of determining'; but', surely', AGE may become justly contemptible', if the opportunities which it brings', have passed away without improvement', and vice appears to prevail when the passions have subsided'. The wretch that', after having seen the consequences of a thousand errours', continues still to blunder', and whose age has only added obstinacy to stupidity', is surely the object of either ab. horrence or contempt'; and deserves not that his gray head should screen him from insults'. Much more is he to be ab. horred', who', as he has advanced in age', has receded from virtue', and becomes more wicked', with less temptation':who prostitutes himself for money which he cannot enjoy', and spends the remains of his life in the ruin of his country'.

But youth is not my ônly crime'. I have been accused of acting a theatrical part'. A theatrical part may imply', either some peculiarities of gesture', or a dissimulation of my real

aKon'fe 'dent-not, kõn'fe 'dunt. V&'hé'mense. cJés'tshůre-not, tshår. Ig'no'rånt-not, ig'ne'runt. Eks-pe'rė'ense.

sentiments'," and an adoption of the opinions and language of another man'.

In the first sense', the charge is too trifling to be confuted'; and deserves only to be mentioned', that it may be despised'. I am at liberty' (like every other man') to use my own language': and though I may', perhaps', have some ambition', yet', to please this gentleman', I shall not lay myself under any restraint', or very solicitously copy his diction', or his mien', however matured by age', or modelled by experience. If', by charging me with theatrical behaviour', any man mean to insinuate that I utter any sentiments* but my own', I shall treat him as a calumniator and a VILLAIN': nor shall any protection shelter him from the treatment which he deserves'. On such an occasion', I shall', without scruple', trample upon all those forms with which wealth and dignity intrench themselves'; nor shall any thing but age', restrain my resentment':d -age', which always brings one privilege'--that of being insolent and supercilious without punishment.

But', with regard to those whom I have offended', I am of opinion', that', had I acted a borrowed part', I should have avoided their censure'. The heat that offended them', is the ardour of conviction', and that zeal for the service of my country', which neither hope', nor fear', shall influence me to suppress'. I will not sit unconcerned', while my LIBERTY is invaded'; nor look in silence upon publick ROBBERY'. I will exert my endeavours', at whatever hazard', to REPEL the ag. gressor', and drag the thief to JUSTICE',-what power SOEVER may protect the villany', and WHOEVER may partake of the plunder!

SECTION XVI.

On the Death of Gen. Hamilton.DR. Nott. HE yielded to the force of an imperious custom'; and', yielding', he sacrificed a life in which all had an interest':—and he is lost'; lost to his country', lost to his family', and lost to us'. For this act', because he disclaimed it', and was penitent'," I forgive him'. But there are those whom I cannot forgive'. I mean not his antagonist', over whose erring steps', if there are tears in heaven', a pious mother looks down and weeps'. If he

aSen't&'ments-not, munts. bJen'tl'mån-not, mun. cTréét'ment. aRe-zent'mėnt-not, ré-zent'munt. e In'so 'lent--not, lunt. fSl'lense. &Såk're'flzd. bPèn'étènt.

« AnteriorContinuar »