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The oration of Eschines against Demosthenes, on
In such a situation of affairs, and in such disorder, as you yourselves are sensible of, the only method of saving the wrecks of government, is, if I mistake not, to allow full liberty to accuse those who have invaded But if you laws. your shut them up, or suffer others to do this, I prophecy that you will fall insensibly, and that very soon under a tyrannical power. For you know, Athenians, that government is divided into three kinds ;, monarchy, oligarchy, and democracy. As to the two former, they are governed at the will and pleasure of those who reign in either; whereas established laws only, reign in a popular state. I make these observations, therefore, that none of you may be ignorant, but on the contrary, that every one may be entirely assured that the day he ascends the seat of justice, to examine an accusation upon the invasion of the laws, that very day he goes to give judgment upon his own independence. And, indeed, the legislature, who is convinced that a free state can support itself no longer than the laws govern, takes particular care to prescribe this form of an oath to judges, "I will judge according to the laws."
The remembrance, therefore, of this being deeply implanted in your minds, must inspire you with a just abhorrence of any persons whatsoever who dare transgress them by rash decrees; and that far from ever looking upon a transgression of this kind as a small fault, you always consider it as an enormous and capital crime. Do not suffer, then, any one to make you depart from so wise a principle-But as, in the army, every one of you would be ashamed to quit the post assigned him by the general; so let every one of you be this day ashamed to abandon the post which the laws have given you in the common
wealth. What post ?—that of protectors of the go›
Must we in your person crown the author of the public calamities, or must we destroy him? And, indeed, what unexpected revolutions, what unthought of catastrophes have we not seen in our days?The king of Persia, that king who opened a passage through Mount Athos; who bound the Hellespont in chains; who was so imperious as to command the Greeks to acknowledge him sovereign both of sea and land who in his letters and dispatches presumed to style himself the sovereign of the world from the rising to the setting of the sun; fights now, not to rule over the rest of mankind, but to save his own life. Do not we see those very men who signalized their zeal in the belief of Delphi, invested both with the glory, for which that powerful king was once so conspicuous, and with the title of the chief of the Greeks against him? As to Thebes, which borders upon Attica, have we not seen it disappear in one day from the midst of Greece?-And with regard to the unhappy Lacedæmonians, what calamities have not befallen them only for taking but a small part of the spoils of the temple.
They who formerly assumed a superiority over Greece, are they not now going to send ambassadors to Alexander's court; to bear the name of h ages in his train; to become a spectacle of misery; to bow the knee before the monarch; submit themselves and their country to his mercy; and receive such · laws as a conquerer, they attacked first, shall think fit to prescribe them? Athens itself, the common refuge of the Greeks? Athens, formerly peopled with ambassadors, who flocked to claim its almighty protection, is not this city now obliged to fight, not to obtain a superiority over the Greeks, but to preserve itself from destruction? Such are the misfortunes which Demosthenes has brought upon us, since his intermeddling with the administration.
Imagine then, Athenians, when he shall invite the confidants and accomplices of his abject perfidy to range themselves around him, towards the close of his harangue; imagine then, Athenians, on your side, that you see the ancient benefactors of this commonwealth drawn up in battle array, round this rostrum where I am now speaking, in order to repulse that audacious band. Imagine you hear Solon, who strengthened the popular government by such excellent laws; that philosopher, that incomparable legislator, conjuring you with a gentleness and modesty becoming his character, not to set a higher value upon Demosthene's oratorical flourishes, than upon your oaths and your laws.
Imagine you hear Aristides, who made so exact and just a division of the contributions imposed upon the Greeks for the common cause: that sage dispenser, who left no other inheritance to his daughters, but the public gratitude, which was their portion; imagine, I say, you hear him bitterly bewailing the outrageous manner in which we trample upon justice, and speaking to you in these words. What! because Arthmius, of Zelia, that Asiatic, who passed through Athens, where he even enjoyed the rights of hospitality, had brought gold from the Medes into Greece; your ancestors were going to send him to the place of execution, and banished him, not only from their city, but from all the countries dependent on them; and will not you blush to decree Demosthenes, who has not, indeed, brought gold from the Medes, but has received such sums of money from all parts to betray you, and now enjoys the fruit of his treasures; will not you, I say, blush to decree a crown of gold to Demosthenes? Do you think that Themistocles, and the heroes who were killed in the battles of Marathon and Platea, do you think the very tombs of your ancestors will not send forth groans, if you crown a man who, by his own confession, has been for ever conspiring with barbarians to ruin Greece!
As to myself, O earth! O sun! O virtue and you who are the springs of true discernment, lights both natural and acquired, by which we distinguish good from evil,-I call you to witness, that I have used all my endeavours to relieve the state, and to plead her cause. I could have wished my speech had been equal to the greatness and importance of the subject: at least, I can flatter myself with having discharged my duty, according to my abilities, if I have not done it according to my wishes. Do you, Athenians, from the reasons you have heard, and those which your wisdom will suggest, do you pronounce such a judgment, as is conformable to strict justice, and the common good demands from you.
I am asked if I have any thing to say why sentence of death should not be pronounced upon me. Was I to suffer only death, after being adjudged guilty, I should bow in silence-but a man in my situation, has not only to combat with the difficulties of fortune, but also with the difficulties of prejudice; the sentence of the law which delivers over his body to the executioner, consigns his character to obloquy. The man dies, but his memory lives, and that mine may not forfeit all claim to the respect of my countrymen, I use this occasion to vindicate myself from some of the charges advanced against me. I am accused of being an emissary of France: 'tis false! I am no emissary; I do not wish to deliver my country to any foreign power, and least of all to France. No! never did I entertain the idea of establishing French power in Ireland. I did not create the rebellion for France, but for Liberty :-God forbid! On the con
trary, it is evident from the introductory paragraph of the address of the Provisional Government, that every hazard attending an independent effort was deemed preferable to the more fatal risk of introducing a French army into the country. When the fluctuating spirit of French freedom was not fixed and bounded by the chains of a military despot, it might have been an excusable policy to have sought the assistance of France, as was done in the year 1798; then it might not have been so great a hazard to have accepted of French aid under a guaranteeing treaty, such as Franklin' obtained for America. But, in the present day, could the Provisional Government have formed such a plan, they would have exhibited such a proof of mental imbecility, as to unfit them for the common offices of life. Small would be our claims to patriotism and to sense, and palpable our affectation of the love of liberty, if we were to encourage the profanation of our shores by a people who are slaves themselves, and the unprincipled and abandoned instruments of imposing slavery on others. If such an inference is drawn from any part of the Proclamation of the Provisional Government, it calumniates their views, and is not warranted by the fact. How could they speak of freedom to their countrymenhow assume such an exalted motive, and meditate the introduction of a power, which has been the enemy of Freedom in every part of the globe? Reviewing the conduct of France to other countries; seeing how she has behaved to Italy, to Holland, and to Switzerland, could we expect better conduct towards us? No!-Let not then any man attaint my memory by believing, that I could have hoped freedom through the aid of France, and betrayed the sacred cause of Liberty, by committing it to her most determined foe. Neither let any man hereafter, abuse my name, or my principles, to the purpose of so base and wicked a delusion. Oh! my countrymen, believe not those who would attempt so parricidal an imposition upon your understandings. Deliver my country into the