Page images

" to the brink of deftruction. If then you remain "fill in the fame difpofition, I have nothing to do “but to be filent. But if you can prevail with your"felves to liften to what is for your advantage with"out flattery, I am ready to fpeak. For notwith"ftanding the deplorable condition of our affairs, " and the feveral loffes we have fuftained through our neglect, they yet may be retrieved, provided you "determine to act as you ought in duty.


"You know, that whatever the Greeks fuffered " from the Lacedæmonians or from us, they fuffered "by those who were Greeks as well as themfelves;

fo that we may compare our faults to those of a "fon, who being born in a rich family, fhould err "against fome maxim of good economy. Such a "fon would juftly deferve the reproachful name of a " fquanderer; but it could not be juftly afferted, that " he had feized upon another man's right, or that he


was not the lawful heir. But if a flave, or a fuppo"fititious child would feize an eftate he had no man"ner of title to, juft heavens! would not fuch an "enormity raise the whole world against him? and "would not they cry out with one voice, that it de"ferved exemplary punishment? But we do not con"fider Philip and his prefent conduct in that light. "Philip, who, befides his not being a Greek, is no allied to the Greeks by any kind of relation, "and is not diftinguished even amongst the Barbarians by any thing but his being denominated from the contemptible place whence he comes; and being a wretched Macedonian by his birth, came into the world in a corner whence we never buy even a good "flave. Notwithstanding this, does he not treat you




with the utmost indignity? Is it not arrived at it's highest pitch? Not content, &c."

The Extracts which follow, being taken from the orations of Æfchines and Demofthenes de Corona, it will be neceffary to give the reader fome idea of the fubject. This Cicero informs us of in his preamble

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

which is not to overthrow and carry away every thing, as it were, by main force; but to affect and foften, by infinuating itself gently into the most inward receffes of the auditors hearts. Thefe paffions are natural to thofe who are united in fome ftrict union; a Prince and his subjects, a father and his children, a tutor and his pupils, a benefactor, and those who receive the effects of his beneficence. Thofe paffions confift, with fuperiors who have been injured, in a certain character of mildness, goodness, humanity, and patience, which is without gall and bitternefs; can bear injuries, and forget them, and which cannot refift prayers and tears: and with the culpable, in a readiness in being made fenfible of their faults, acknowledging them, teftifying their grief for them, humbling and fubmitting themselves, and giving all the fatisfaction that can be defired. All this must be done after a plain and natural manner, without study and affectation; the air, the outward behaviour, the gefture, tone of voice, stile, and every thing, muft

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

breathe fomething inexpreffibly soft and tender, which proceeds from the heart, and goes directly to it. Tłe manners of the perfon who fpeaks muft fhew themfelves in his difcourfe without his obferving it. 'Tis well known, that nothing is more amiable than fuch a character, not only for eloquence, but in the ordinary commerce of life; and we cannot prompt youth too much to be attentive to it, to ftudy and imitate it.

* We find a beautiful example of this in a homily of St. John Chryfoftom to the people of Antioch. As this paffage is very eloquent, and very fit to form the tafte of youth, fuffer me to expatiate a little more upon it, than perhaps the matter I am now difcuffing requires; and to make a kind of an analysis and epitome

of it.

The Emperor Theodofius had fent fome officers and foldiers to Antioch, in order to punish that rebellious city for a fedition, in which his own ftatues and thofe of his deceased confort Flaccilla were thrown down. Flavian, Bishop of Antioch, notwithstanding the inclemency of the feafon, notwithstanding his very advanced age, and though his fifier was dying when he left her, fet out immediately to implore that Prince's clemency in favour of his ne ple. Being come to the palace, and admittet ma the Emperor's prefence, he no fooner perzewa tar Prince, but hened at a diffance, wiIT LOW-CIS. eyes, fheddir covering his face, an ang 'f had been guilty

**ent as the

A12 2001


this filence is



nt t


xpreffions he c

obferves, the man.

or, his dear

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small]

The Emperor feeing him in this condition did not employ any harfh reproaches, which Flavian might naturally expect. He did not fay to him: What! are you come to crave pardon for rebels, for ungrateful wretches, for a people unworthy of life, and who merit the fevereft punishments? But affuming a foft tone of voice, he made a long enumeration of all the good offices he had done the city of Antioch; and upon mentioning every one of thofe favours, he adds: Is this the acknowledgment I was to expect? What cause of complaint had its citizens against me? What injury had I done them? But why fhould they extend their infolence even to the dead? Had they received any wrong from them? What tenderness did I not fhew for their city? Is it not notorious, that I loved it more than my own country, and that it gave me the greatest pleasure to think I should foon be in a condition of taking a journey to see it?

Then the holy bishop, being unable to bear fuch moving reproaches any longer, fays with deep fighs: It is true, Sir, the goodness you have vouchfafed us could not be carried higher, which enhances our crime and our grief: whatever punishment you may inflict upon us, it will ftill fall fhort of what we deferve. Alas! our prefent condition is no common degree of punishment; to have the whole earth know our ingratitude!

If the barbarians had demolished our city, it would ftill have had a resource and fome hopes, whilft it had you for a protector. But to whom fhall it now have recourfe, fince it has made itfelf unworthy of your protection?

The envy of the devil, jealous of her happiness, has plunged her into this abyfs of evils out of which you alone can extricate her. I dare fay it, Sir, it is your very affection that has brought them upon us, by exciting the jealoufy of that wicked fpirit againft But, like God himfelf, you may draw infinite good out of the evil which Satan intended against us.



[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Your clemency on this occafion will be more honourable to you than your moft celebrated victories. Your ftatues have been thrown down. If you pardon this crime, we will raise others in your honour, not of marble or brafs, which time deftroys, but fuch as will exist eternally in the hearts of all thofe who fhall hear of this action.

He afterwards propofed the example of Conftantine to him, who being importuned by his courtiers to difplay his vengeance on fome feditious people that had disfigured his ftatues, by throwing ftones at them, did nothing more than ftroke his face with his hand, and told them fmiling, that he did not feel himself hurt.

He fets before him his own clemency, and puts him in mind of one of his own laws, in which, after having ordered the prifons to be opened, and the criminals to be pardoned at the feaft of Eafter, he added this memorable faying; Would to God, I were able in the fame manner to open the graves, and restore the dead to life! That time is come, Sir, you can now do it, &c.

He makes the honour of religion concerned in this affair. All the Jews and Heathens, fays he, have their eyes upon you, and are waiting for the fentence you will pronounce. If it is favourable to us, they will be filled with admiration, and cry out, Surely the God of the Chriftians must be very powerful! He checks the anger of those who acknowledge no mafter upon earth, and can transform men into angels.

After he had answered the objection that might be made with regard to the unhappy confequences which were to be feared, if this crime fhould efcape with impunity; and likewife demonftrated, that Thecdofius by fuch a rare example of clemency might edify the whole earth, and inftruct all future ages, he proceeds thus:

It will be infinitely glorious for you, Sir, to have granted this pardon at the request of a mininter of the


« PreviousContinue »