« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
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
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 Demosthenes' 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,
blush to decree à crown of gold to Demosthenes? Do you think that Themistocles, and the heroes who were killed in the battle 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 forever conspiring with barbarians to ruin Greece ?
As to myself, 0 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 judg. ment, as is conformable to strict justice, and the common good demands from you.
I am asked if I have any thing to say why sencence 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 ac cused 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 contrary, 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 protana! tion 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 countrymen-how agsume such an exalted motive, and meditate the in troduction 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 had 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 hands of France! What! meditate such a cruel as
sassination of her political life! Had I done so, I had not deserved to live ; and dying with such a weight upon my character, I had merited the honest execration of that country which gave me birth, and to which I would have given freedom. Had I been in Switzerland, I would have fought against the French, for I am certain, the Swiss are hostile to the French. In the dignity of Freedom, I would have expired on the threshhold of that country, and they should have entered it only by passing over my lifeless corse. Is it, then, to be supposed, that I should be slow to make the same sacrifice to my native land ? Am I, who lived but to be of service to my country who resigned for that service the worship of another idol I adored in my heart, and who would subject myself to the bondage of the grave to give her independence-am I to be loaded with the foul and grievous calumny of being an emissary of France ?
My Lords, it may be part of the system of angry justice to bow a man's mind by humiliation to meet the ignominy of the scaffold, but worse to me than the scaffold's shame or the scaffold's terrors, would be the imputation of having been the agent of French despotism and ambition; and while I have breath, I will call upon my countrymen not to believe me guilty of so foul a crime against their liberties and their happiness. Though you, my Lord, sit there a Judge, and I stand here a culprit-yet, you are but a man, and I am another; I have a right, therefore, to vindicate my character and motives from the aspersions of calumny; and, as a inan to whom fame is dearer than life, I will make the last use of that life in rescuing my name and my memory from the af. flicting imputation of having been an emissary of France, or seeking her interference in the internal re. gulatiun of our affairs. Did I live to see a French army approach this country, I would meet it on the shore, with a torch in one hand, and a sword in the other-I would receive them with all the destruction of war! I would animate my countrymen to immo
fate them in their very boats, before our native soil should be polluted by a foreign foe. If they succeeded in landing, I would burn every blade of grass before them-raze every house--contend to the last for every inch of ground-and the last spot in which the hope of freedom should desert me, that spot would I make my grave! What I cannot do, I leave a legacy to my country, because I feel conscious that my death were unprofitable, and all hope of liberty extinct, the moment a French army obtained footing in this island."
FIRST PART OF MR. GRIFFIN'S SPEECH, IN THE TRI
AL OF M. LIVINGSTON, ESQ. AGAINST J. CHEETHAM, FOR A LIBEL, IN 1807.
The defendant (Cheetham) stands convicted of the serious offence of publishing against the plantiff (Livingston) a false and defamatory accusation. And you (gentlemen) are the organ to pronounce the sentence of violated law.
What damages will you give? This libel, gentlemen, is not a solitary ebullition of passion. It is a part and parcel of a deliberate and extended system of attack. The defendant foretold that he would wager 6 a terrible warfare" against the plantiff: and this prediction he has indeed tremendously accomplished. With a step steady as time, and an appetite keen as death, he has been seen waging against the plantiff a warfare, not of conquest, but of extermination. He has been seen opening on the plaintiff the batteries of the press. Yes, gentlemen, the defendant has forced the press to become the disturber of domestic quiet, the assassin of private reputation. Our press, gentlemen, was destined for other purposes. It was destined not to violate, but to protect the sanctity of private