Page images

their death. And whatever may be your way of think ing, Cleon, for my part, I wish the king may not, for many years to come, obtain that honour. You have mentioned, as precedents of what you propose, Hercules and Bacchus. Do you imagine, Cleon, that they were deified over a cup of wine? And are you and I qualified to make Gods? Is the king, our sovereign, to receive his divinity from you and me, who are his subjects? First try your power, whether you can make a king. It is surely easier to make a king, than a god; to give an earthly dominion, than a throne in heaven.I only wish that the gods may have heard without of fence, the arrogant proposal you have made, of adding one to their number; and that they may still be so propitious to us, as to grant the continuance of that success to our affairs, with which they have hitherto favoured For my part I am not ashamed of my country; nor do I approve of our adopting the rites of foreign nations, or learning from them how we ought to reverence our kings. To receive laws, or rules of conduct from them, what is it, but to confess ourselves inferior to them ? QUINTUS CURTIUS.





IF your person were as gigantic as your desires, the world would not contain you. Your right hand would touch the east, and your left the west, at the same time. You grasp at more than you are equal to. From Europe you reach Asia: from Asia you lay hold on Europe. And if you should conquer all mankind, you seem disposed to wage war with woods, and snows, with rivers


and wild beasts, and to attempt to subdue nature. But have you considered the usual course of things? Have you reflected that great trees are many years in growing to their height, and are cut down in an hour. It is foolish to think of the fruit only, without considering the height you have to climb, to come at it. Take care lest, while you strive to reach the top, you fall to the ground with the branches you have laid hold on. The lion, when dead, is devoured by ravens; and rust consumes the hardness of iron. There is nothing so strong, but it is in danger from what is weak. It will, therefore, be your wisdom to take care how you venture beyond your reach. Besides, what have you to do with the Scythians, or the Scythians with you? We have never invaded Macedon; why should you attack Scythia ? We inhabit vast deserts, and pathless woods, where we do not want to hear of the name of Alexander. We are not disposed to submit to slavery; and we have no ambition to tyrannize over any nation. That you may understand the genius of the Scythians, we present you with a yoke of oxen, an arrow, and a goblet. We use these respective in our commerce with friends, and with foes. We give to our friends the corn, which we raise by the labor of our oxen. With the goblet we join with them in pouring drink-offerings to the gods; and with arrows we attack our enemies. We have conquered those, who have attempted to tyrannize over us in our own country, and likewise the kings of the Medes and Persians, when they made unjust war upon us; and we have opened to ourselves a way into Egypt. You pretend to be the punisher of robbers; and are yourself a general robber of mankind. You have taken Lydia; you have siezed Syria; you are master of Persia ; you have subdued the Bactrians; and attacked India. All this will not satisfy you, unless you lay your greedy and insatiable hands upon our flocks and our herds. How imprudent is your conduct! You grasp at riches the possession



of which only increases your avarice. You increase your hunger by what should produce satiety; so that the more you have, the more you desire. But have you forgot how long the conquest of the Bactrians detained you? While you were subduing them, the Sogdians revolted. Your victories serve no other purpose, than to find you: employment by producing new wars. For the business of every conquest is two-fold; to win, and to preserve. And though you may be the greatest of warriors, you must expect,that the nations you conquer will endeavour to shake off the yoke as fast as possible. For what people chuses to be under foreign dominion? If you will cross the Tanais, you may travel over Scythia, and observe how extensive a territory we inhabit. But to conquer us is quite another business? Your army is loaded with the cumbrous spoils of many nations. You will find the poverty of the Scythians, at one time, too nimble for your pursuit; and at another time, when you think we are fled far enough from you, you will have us surprize you in your camp. For the Scythians attack with no less vigour than they fly. Why should we put you in mind of the vastness of the country you will have to conquer! The deserts of Scythia are commonly talked of in Greece; and all the world knows, that our delight is to dwell at large, and not in towns or plantations. It will therefore be your wisdom to keep with strict attention what you have gained. Catching at more, you may lose what you have. We have a proverbial saying in Scythia, That fortune has no feet, and is furnished only with hands, to distribute her capricious favours, and with fins, to elude the grasp of those, to whom she has been bountiful. You give yourself out to be a god, the son of Jupiter Hammon. It suits the character of a god, to bestow favours on mortals; not to deprive them of what they have. But if you are no god, reflect on the precarious condition of humanity. You will thus shew more wisdom, than by dwelling on those subjects

which have puffed up your pride, and made you forget yourself. You see how little you are likely to gain by attempting the conquest of Scythia. On the other hand, you may, if you please, have in us a valuable alliance. We command the borders of both Europe and Asia.There is nothing between us and Bactria, but the river Tanais and our territory extends to Thrace, which, as we have heard, borders on Macedon. If you decline attacking us in a hostile manner, you may have our friendship. Nations which have never been at war are on an equal footing. But it is in vain, that confidence is repos ed in a conquered people. There can be no sincere friendship between the oppressor and the oppressed. Even in peace, the latter think themselves entitled to the rights of war against the former. We will, if think good, enter into a treaty with you, according to our manner, which is, not by signing, sealing, or taking the gods to witness, as is the Grecian custom; but by doing actual services. The Scythians are not used to promise; but to perform without promising. And they think an appeal to the gods superfluous: for that those, who have no regard for the esteem of men, will not hesitate to offend the gods, by perjury. You may therefore consider with yourself, whether you had better have a people of such a character, and so situated as to have it in their power either to serve you, or to annoy you, according as you treat them, for allies, or for enemies.




WHEN I reflect on the causes of the war, and the circumstances of our situation, I feel a strong persuasion that our united efforts on the present day will prove the beginning of universal liberty to Britain. For none of us are hitherto debased by slavery; and we have no prospect of a secure retreat behind us, either by land or sea, whilst the Roman fleet hovers around. Thus the use of arms, which is at all times honourable to the brave, here offers the only safety even to cowards. In all the battles which have yet been fought with various success against the Romans, the resources of hope and aid were in our hands; for we, the noblest inhabitants of Britain, and therefore stationed in its deepest recesses, far from the view of servile shores, have preserved even our eyes unpolluted by the contact of subjection. We, at the fare thest limits, both of land and liberty, have been defended to this day by the obscurity of our situation and of our fame. The extremity of Britain is now disclosed ; and whatever is unknown becomes an object of importance.. But there is no nation beyond us; nothing but waves and rocks; and the Romans are before us. The arrogance of these invaders it will be in vain to encounter by obsequiousness and submission. These plunderers of the world, after exhausting the land by their devastations, are rifling the ocean: stimulated by avarice, if their enemy be rich; by ambition, if poor unsatiated by the East and by the West: the only people who behold wealth and indigence with equal avidity. To ravage, to slaughter, to usurp under false titles, they call empire; and when they make a desert, they call it peace.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »