« PreviousContinue »
sure ; whereas we must judge from the nature of “the advice or the opinions themselves, of him who
gives them. If therefore Philip has been a con
queror, do not impute it to me as a crime since “God disposed of the victory, and not I. But shew “ me what it is that I did not pursue with an integrity,
a vigilance, and an indefatigable activity, superior “ to my strength ; shew me that I did not practise all " the expedients which human prudence could em
ploy; that I did not inspire noble and necessary re“solutions, and such as were worthy of Athens; and “after this give a full scope to your accusations. “ Biit if a sudden thunderbolt, or a tempest, should “strike you to the ground, Athenians, and not only “ you, but all the rest of the Grecians, how can this "be helped? Must the innocent be sacrificed ? If the
owner of a vessel had fitted it out with every thing
necessary, and provided to the utmost of his power “ against the dangers of the sea ; and that a storm “ should afterwards arise, and break the masts; would s any one in that case accuse him with being the cause “ of the shipwreck? But he would say, I did not com“ mand the vessel. Nor did I command the army: “I did not dispose of fortune; on the contrary, it “ was fortune disposed of cvery thing.
“ Since therefore he insists so strenuously upon
events, I am not afraid of advancing a kind of pa“radox. Let none of us, in the name of Jupiter “ and the other gods, be startled at the apparent hy
perbole ; but let liim examine equitably what I am
going to say: for if all the Athenians had disco"vered future events by a prophetic spirit; that all “had foreseen them; and that you, Æschines, who “ did not speak a single word, had forelold and cer“titied them with your thunder-like voice ; Athens, "even in that case, ought not to have changed its “ measures, had it ever so little regard to its glory, “its ancestors, or the judgment of posterity. For “ now Athens seems, at most, to be fallen from its grcatness; a misfortune common to all mortals,
whenever it so pleases the Supreme Being. But a commonwealth, that thought itself at that time
worthy of a superiority overall the rest of the Greeks, “could not part with such a right, without incurring
the just reproach of delivering them all up to Philip: “since in case Athens had quitted, without a blow,
a prerogative which our ancestors had purchased at all hazards, how would you, Æschines, have been “covered with shame? For most certainly, that shame “could not have reflected either upon the common
wealth, or upon me. Great God! with what eyes “could we look upon this innumerable multitude " which come from all parts to Athens, if things had “ been brought to the low ebb we now see them at, by our fault, or wrong management; had we chosen
Philip as the chief and arbiter of all Greece; had "we suffered others to hazard a battle without us, in " order to prevent such a calamity; especially since "we call ourselves inhabitants of a city, which chose at all times rather 10 brave glorious dangers, than enjoy an ignominious security! For what Greek, what barbarian, does not know, that the Thebans,
and before them the Lacedæmonians, when arrived " at the meridian of power, and, lastly, the Persian
king, would have willingly granted the commonwealth, not only the enjoyment of its own posses
sions, but likewise every thing it could desire, pro“vided it could have descended to subinit, and suffer
any other to govern Greece ? But such sentiments “could not be admitted by Athenians (as appeared
on those occasions,) either as hereditary, supporta"ble, or natural. And, since the first foundation " of Athens, none could ever force it to make an ab"ject submission to tyrannical power, though superior "in strength; nor to gain a base security by servile
concessions. On the contrary, as Athens was in “ immemorial possession of fighting for sovereignty, “ for honour, and for glory; so it has at all times " braved the greatest dangers... If therefore I should attempt to insinuate, that my counsels determined
you to think like worthy descendents of your pre“decessors, every one might tax me justly with arro
But I declare in this place, that if you “ formed such resolutions, the glory of them is yours ; “and I own, that the commonwealth had great and
magnanimous sentiments long before my time. The
only thing I can boast of, is, that I co-operated in “ every thing that fell to my share in the ministry.
By the way, my countrymen, a citizen naturally “ virtuous (for when I speak of myself, I make use « of no other word, to avoid envy) possesses these “ two qualities: asteady and unshaken courage in the “ exercise of authority, to support the commonwealth “ in its superiority; and a zeal that has been proof “ against every thing, in every conjuncture, and par“ ticular action. For these sentiments depend (.]
upon us, being the gift of nature; but, as to force “ and power, those we derive from other causes. “ Now certainly, that this zeal was never falsified in
me, judge of it by my actions. My zeal for you was never lessened on any occasion, no, not when my
head was demanded ; nor when I was delivered up to the Amphictyons; nor when the greatest “ efforts were made to shake me with threats, nor « when endeavours were used to allure me with pro“ mises ; nor when these cursed wretches, like so
many wild beasts, were let loose upon me. As to " the governinent, no sooner had I a share in it, than “ I followed the direct and just methods of preserv
ing the strength, glory, and prerogatives of my “ country; augmenting them, and devoting myself “ entirely to that study. Thus, when I find other
powers prosper, I am never seen walking in the forum, with a serene and contented aspect, saluting people with my hand, and telling good news with
a congratulating voice to those, who, I believe, or will afterwards send it to Macedonia; nor am I seen “ trembling, sighing, and with down-cast eyes, upon " hearing the success of the Athenians, like those [Z] That was the doctrine of the Stoics.
impious wretches who defame the commonwealth; as though they did not defame themselves by such
courses. They have always their eye abroad, and "when they see any potentate taking advantage of
our misfortunes, they magnify his successes, and “ give out, that all endeavours should be used to " eternize his victories.
"Immortal gods ! let none of you hear such vows
as these ; but rather rectify the minds and hearts of "such perverse men.
But if their inveterate malice “ be incurable, pursue them both by sea and land,
and extirpate them totally. As to us, Athenians, “ avert, as soon as possible, the calamities which " threaten us, and grant us entire security.”
The Success of the two Orations. Eschines lost his cause, and was banished for his rash accusation. He settled at Rhodes, and set up a school of eloquence, which maintained its glory for
He began his lectures with the two orations which occasioned his banishment. Great encomiums were given to his ; but when that of Demosthenes was read, the acclamations were redoubled. [a] And it was upon this occasion he said (so laudable in an enemy and a rival) But how wonderful would
you have found it, had you heard it from his own mouth?
I did not pretend, that the passages I have now borrowed from the harangues of Æschines and Demosthenes, could alone give a just idea of those two great orators; for the most essential part of Eloquence, and, as it were, the soul of it, must necessarily be wanting in extracts taken from the body of an entire work. We neither see plan, design, order, or series of the oration, in those extracts; nor the strength, counexion, or disposition of the proofs; the marvellous art by which the orator sometimes insinuates himself gently into people's hearts; and sometimes enters with a kind of violence, and makes himself absolute master over (a) Valcr. Max. lib. 8. c. 20.
them. Besides, no translation can give the Attic purity, Eloquence and delicacy, of which the Greek language only is susceptible, and which Demosthenes had carried to the highest perfection. I had no other view in copying these extracts, but to enable such readers as have not studied Greek, to form some idea of the style of those two orators. The advantageous judg. ments which the best writers in all ages have given us of it, will likewise contribute to shew their character, and may perhaps inspire us with the desire of taking a nearer view of persons of such uncommon inerit, of whom so many wonders are related. M. de Tourreil has collected several, some of which I shall relate in this plac
I. THE JUDGMENTS OF THE ANCIENTS ON ÆS
SCHINES AND DEMOSTHENES. [b] Quintilian, whose opinion is no less clear than equitable, speaks of them in this manner : “ [c] A “ croud of orators arose afterwards, of whom De“ mosthenes was the chief; the standard which every “ one must [ll] necessarily follow who aspires to true
Eloquence. This style is so strong, so close, and
[e] nervous, 'tis every where so just, so exactly “ concise, that there's nothing too much or too little. “ Æschines is more diffusive; he makes a greater fi
gure, because he is not so close; he discovers a greater flush of health, but his sincws are not so strong and well compacted. . [!] Valer. Max. lib. 10, c. 10, say absolutely, that Demosthenes's Ic Sequitur oratorum ingens orations were the standard of Elo
: . quorum longe princeps quence; he has softened the reDemosthenes, ac penè lex orandi flection, penè lex orandi fuit. fuit. Tanta vis in eo, tam densa [@] Tam densa omnia, ita quiomnia, ita quibusdam nervis intenta busdam nervis intenta sunt. Il est si sunt, tam nihil otiosum, is dicendi serré, si nerveux. I do not know modus, ut nec quod desit in co, nec whether this metaphor is borrowed quod redundet, invenias. Plenior from the nerves of the body, or Æschines, & magis fusus, & gran- from a bow, the string of which diori similis, quo minùs strictusest. being strongly stretched (nervi) Carnis tamen plus habet, lacertorum pushes the arrow forward with a minus.
prodigious force and impetuosity. [d] Quintilian did not venture to