« AnteriorContinuar »
been as terrible to Philip, as Philip, recovered, is now to you. "To what purpose, at this time, these reflections? What is done, cannot be undone."-But, by your leave, Athenians, though past moments are not to be recalled, past errors may be repeated. Have we not now, a fresh provocation to war? Let the memory of oversights, by which you have suffered so much, instruct you to be more vigilant in the present danger. If the Olynthians are not instantly succoured, and with your utmost efforts, you become assistants to Philip, and serve him more effectually than he can help himself.
It is not, surely, necessary to warn you, that votes alone can be of no consequence. Had your resolutions, of themselves, the virtue, to compass what you intend, we should not see them multiply every day, as they do, and upon every occasion, with so little effect; nor would Philip be in a condition to brave and affront us in this manner. Proceed, then, Athenians, to support your deliberations with vigour. You have heads capable of advising what is best; you have judgment and experience to discern what is right; and you have power and opportunity to execute what you determine. What time so proper for action? What occasion so happy? And when can you hope for such another, if this be neglected? Has not Philip, contrary to all treaties, insulted you in Thrace? Does he not, at this instant, straiten and invade your confederates, whom you have solemnly sworn to protect? Is he not an implacable enemy? A faithless ally? The usurper of provinces, to which he has no title nor pretence? A stranger, a barbarian, a tyrant? And, indeed, what is he not?
Observe, I beseech you, men of Athens, how different your conduct appears, from the practices of your ancestors. They were friends to truth and plain dealing, and detested flattery and servile compliance. By unanimous consent, they continued arbiters of all Greece, for the space of for ty-five years, without interruption; a public fund, of no less than ten thousand talents, was ready for any emergency; they exercised over the kings of Macedon that authority which is due to barbarians; obtained, both by sea and land, in their own persons, frequent and signal victories; and, by their noble exploits, transmitted to posterity an immortal memory of their virtue, superior to the reach of malice and detraction. It is to them we owe that great number of public edifices, by which the city of Athens exceeds all the
rest of the world in beauty and magnificence. It is to them we owe so many stately temples, so richly embellished, but, above all, adorned with the spoils of vanquished enemies. But, visit their own private habitations; visit the houses of Aristides, Miltiades, or any other of those patriots of antiquity;-you will find nothing, not the least mark or ornament, to distinguish them from their neighbours. They took part in the government, not to enrich themselves, but the public; they had no scheme or ambition, but for the public; nor knew any interest, but for the public. It was by a close and steady application to the general good of their country, by an exemplary piety towards the immortal gods, by a strict faith and religious honesty betwixt man and man, and a moderation always uniform and of a piece, they established that reputation, which remains to this day, and will last to utmost posterity.
Such, O men of Athens! were your ancestors: so glorious in the eye of the world; so bountiful and munificent to their country; so sparing, so modest, so self-denying to themselves. What resemblance can we find, in the present generation, of these great men? At a time, when your ancient competitors have left you a clear stage; when the Lacedemonians are disabled; the Thebans employed in troubles of their own; when no other state whatever is in a condition to rival or molest you; in short, when you are at full liberty; when you have the opportunity and the power to become once more the sole arbiters of Greece; you permit patiently, whole provinces to be wrested from you; you lavish the public money in scandalous and obscure uses; you suffer your allies to perish in time of peace, whom you preserved in time of war; and to sum up all, you yourselves, by your mercenary court, and servile resignation to the will and pleasure of designing, insidious leaders, abet, encourage, and strengthen the most dangerous and formidable of your enemies. Yes, Athenians, I repeat it, you yourselves are the contrivers of your own ruin. Lives there a man who has confidence enough to deny it? Let him arise, and assign, if he can, any other cause of the success and prosperity of Philip.-"But," you reply, "what Athens may have lost in reputation abroad, she has gained in splendor at home. Was there ever a greater appearance of prosperity; a greater face of plenty? Is not the city enlarged? Are not the streets better paved, houses repaired and beautified?"-Away with such triflès!
Shall I be paid with counters? An old square new vamped up! a fountain! an aqueduct! Are these acquisitions to brag of? Cast your eye upon the magistrate, under whose ministry you boast these precious improvements. Behold the despicable creature, raised, all at once, from dirt to opulence; from the lowest obscurity to the highest ho-. nours. Have not some of these upstarts built private houses and seats vieing with the most sumptuous of our public palaces? And how have their fortunes and their power increased, but as the commonwealth has been ruined and impoverished?
To what are we to impute these disorders; and to what cause assign the decay of a state so powerful and flourishing in past times ?-The reason is plain.-The servant is now become the master. The magistrate was then subservient to the people; punishments and rewards were properties of the people; all honours, dignities, and preferments, were disposed by the voice and favour of the people but the magistrate, now, has usurped the right of the people, and exercises an arbitrary authority over his ancient and natural lord. You miserable people! (the meanwhile, without money, without friends) from being the ruler, are become the servant; from being the master, the dependent; happy that these governors, into whose hands you have thus resigned your own power, are so good and so gracious as to continue your poor allowance to see plays.
Believe me, Athenians, if, recovering from this lethargy, you would assume the ancient freedom and spirit of your fathers; if you would be your own soldiers and your own commanders, confiding no longer your affairs in foreign or mercenary hands; if you would charge yourselves with your own defence, employing abroad, for the public, what you waste in unprofitable pleasures at home; the world might, once more, behold you making a figure worthy of Athenians." You would have us then (you say) do service in our armies, in our own persons; and, for so doing, you would have the pensions we receive in time of peace accepted as pay in time of war. Is it thus we are to understand you ?" Yes, Athenians, it is my plain meaning. I would make it a standing rule, that no person, great or little, should be the better for the public money, who should grudge to employ it for the public service. Are we in peace? the public is charged with your subsistence. Are we in war, or under a necessity, at this time, to enter into a war?
let your gratitude oblige you to accept, as pay, in defence of your benefactors, what you receive, in peace, as mere bounty. Thus, without any innovation; without altering or abolishing any thing, but pernicious novelties, introduced for the encouragement of sloth and idleness; by converting only, for the future, the same funds, for the use of the serviceable, which are spent, at present, upon the unprofitable; you may be well served in your armies; your troops regularly paid; justice duly administered; the public revenues reformed and increased; and every member of the commonwealth, rendered useful to his country, according to his age and ability, without any further burden to the state.
This, O men of Athens, is what my duty prompted me to represent to you upon this occasion.-May the gods inspire you to determine upon such measures, as may be most expedient for the particular and general good of our country!
XII-Jupiter to the inferior Deities, forbidding them to take any part in the contention between the Greeks and Trojans.
AURORA, now, fair daughter of the dawn,
Whose strong embrace holds heaven, and earth, and main.
Strive, all of mortal and immortal birth,
XIII. Æneas to Queen Dido, giving an Account of the Sack of Troy.
ALL were attentive to the godlike man,
When from his lofty couch, he thus began :-
'Twas now the dead of night, when sleep repairs
I wept to see the visionary man ;
And whilst my trance continu'd, thus began :—
The spectre, groaning from his inmost breast,