Page images

thou hast been forsaken and hated, so that no man went through thee, I will make thee an eternal excellency, a joy of many generations. For brass I will bring gold, and for iron I will bring silver, and for wood brass, and for stones iron: I will also make thy officers peace, and thine exactors righteousness. Violence shall no more be 'heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls salvation, and thy gates praise. The sun shall be no more thy light by day: neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory.




There are two distinguished qualities, Athenians! which the virtuous citizen should ever possess ; (I speak in general terms, as the least invidious method of doing justice to myself,) a zeal for the honor and pre-eminence of the state, in his official conduct; on all occasions, and in all transactions, an affection for his country. This nature can bestow. Abilities and success depend upon another power. And in this affection you find me firm and invariable. Not the solemn demand of my person, nor the vengeance of the Amphictyonic council which they.denounced against me, nor the terror of their threatenings, nor the flattery of their promises-no, nor the fury of those accursed wretches whom they roused like wild beasts against me, could ever tear this affection from my breast. From first to last, 3 I have uniformly pursued the just and virtuous course of conduct: assertor of the honors, of the prerogatives, of the glory of my country: studious to support them, zealous to advance them, my whole being is devoted to this glorious cause. I was never known to march through the city with a face of joy and exultation at the success of a foreign power; embracing, and announcing the joyful tidings to those who I supposed would transmit it to the proper place. I never was known to receive the successes of my own country with tremblings, with sighings, with eyes bending to the earth, like those impious men who are the defamers of the state, as if by such conduct they were not defamers of themselves ; who look abroad, and, when a foreign potentate hath established his power on the calamities of Greece, applaud the event; and tell us we should take every means to perpetuate his power.

Hear me, ye immortal gods! and let not these their desires be ratified in heaven! Infuse a better spirit into these men!



Inspire even their minds with

sentiments! This is


first prayer-Or, if their natures are not to be reformed, on them, on them only, discharge your vengeance! Pursue them both by land and sea! Pursue them even to destruction! But, to us display your goodness in a speedy deliverance from impending evils, and all the blessings of protection and tranquillity!

[blocks in formation]




You here behold an unfortunate father, who has felt more than any other Syracusan the fatal effects of this war, by the death of two sons, who formed all his consolation, and were the only support of his old age. I cannot, indeed, forbear admiring their courage and felicity, in sacrificing to their country's welfare a life of which they would one day have been deprived by the common course of nature ; but then I cannot but be strongly affected with the cruel wound which their death has made in my heart, nor forbear hating and detesting the Athenians, the authors of this unhappy war, as the murderers of my children. I cannot, however, conceal one circumstance, which is, that I am less sensible of my private affliction than of the honor of my country; and I see it exposed to eternal infamy by the barbarous advice which is now given you. The Athenians, indeed, merit the worst treatment, and every kind of punishment that can be inflicted on them, for so unjustly declaring war against us; but have not the gods, the just avengers of crimes, punished them, and revenged us sufficiently ?-When their generals laid down their arms and surrendered, did they not do this in hopes of having their lives spared ? And if we put them to death, will it be possible for us to avoid the just reproach of our having violated the laws of nations, and dishonored our victory by an unheard-of cruelty ? How! will you suffer your glory to be thus sullied, in the face of the whole world, and have it said, that a nation, who first dedicated a temple in their city to clemency, had not found any in yours ? Surely victories and triumphs do not give immortal glory to a city! but the exercising of mercy towards a vanquished enemy, the using of moderation in the greatest prosperity, and fearing to offend the gods by a haughty and insolent pride. You doubtless have not forgot that this Nicias, whose fate you are going to pronounce, was the very man who pleaded your cause in the assembly of the Athenians, and employed all his credit, and the whole power of his eloquence, to dissuade his country from embarking in this war; should you, therefore, pronounce sentence of death on this worthy general, would it be a just reward for the zeal he showed for your interest ? With regard to myself, death would be less grievous to me than the sight of so horrid an injustice committed by my countrymen and fellow-citizens.



Athens never was once known to live in a slavish, though a secure obedience to unjust and arbitrary power. No: our whole history is one series of noble contests for pre-eminence;' the whole period of our existence hath been spent in braving dangers, for the sake of glory and renown. And so highly do you esteem such conduct, so consonant to the Athenian character, that those of your ancestors who were most distinguished in the pursuit of it, are ever the most favorite objects of your praise—and with reason. For who can reflect without astonishment upon the magnanimity of those men, who resigned their lands, gave up their city and embarked in their ships, to avoid the odious state of subjection? Who chose Themistocles, the adviser of this conduct, to command their forces; and, when Cyrsilus proposed that they should yield to the terms prescribed, stoned him to death ? Nay, the public indignation was not yet allayed. Your very wives inflicted the same vengeance on his wife. For the Athenians of that day looked out for no speaker, no general to procure them a state of prosperous slavery. They had the spirit to reject even life, unless they were allowed to enjoy that life in freedom. Should I then attempt to assert, that it was I who inspired you timents worthy of your ancestors, I should meet the just resentment of every hearer. No: it is my point to show, that such sentiments are properly your own ; that they were the sentiments of my country, long before my days. I claim but my share of merit, in having acted on such principles, in every part of my administration. He then, who condemns every part of my administration, he who directs you to treat me with severity, as one who hath involved the state in terrors and dangers, while he labors to deprive me of present honor, robs you of the applause of all posterity. For, if you now pronounce, my public conduct hath not been right, Ctesiphon must stand condemned, it must be thought that you yourselves have acted wrong, not that you owe your present state to the caprice of.

with sen

that as


fortune. But it cannot be! No, my countrymen! it cannot be

have acted wrong, in encountering danger bravely, for the liberty and the safety of all Greece. No! by those generous souls of ancient times, who were exposed at Marathon! By those who stood arrayed at Platæa! By those who encountered the Persian fleet at Salamis ! who fought at Artemisium! No! by all those illustrious sons of Athens, whose remains lie deposited in the public monuments,



I ask now, Verres, what have you to advance against this charge? Will you pretend to deny it? Will you pretend that any thing false, that even any thing aggravated is alleged against you? Had any prince, or any state, committed the same outrage against the privileges of Roman citizens, should we not think we had sufficient reason for declaring immediate war against them? What punishment, then, ought to be inflicted on a tyrannical and wicked prætor, who dared, at no greater distance than Sicily, within sight of the Italian coast, to put to the infamous death of crucifixion that unfortunate and innocent citizen, Publius Gavius Cosanus, only for his having asserted his privilege of citizenship and declared his intention of appealing to the justice of his country against a cruel oppressor, who had unjustly confined him in prison at Syracuse, whence he had just made his escape ? The unhappy man, arrested as he was going to embark for his native country, is brought before the wicked prætor. With eyes darting fury, and a countenance distorted with cruelty, he orders the helpless victim of his rage to be stripped, and rods to be brought; accusing him, but without the least shadow of evidence, or even of suspicion, of having come to Sicily as a spy. It was in vain that the unhappy man cried out, “ I am a Roman citizen, I have served under Lucius Pretius, who is now at Panormus, and will attest my innocence.” The bloodthirsty prætor, deaf to all he could urge in his own defense, ordered the infamous punishment to be inflicted. Thus, fathers, was an innocent Roman citizen publicly mangled with scourging; whilst the only words he uttered amidst his cruel sufferings were, “I am a Roman citizen!" With these he hoped to defend himself from violence and infamy. But of so little service was this privilege to him, that while he was asserting his citizenship, the order was given for his execution ; for his execution


the crass!

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


O liberty! O sound once delightful to every Roman ear! O sacred privilege of Roman citizenship! once sacred, now trampled upon! But what then! is it come to this ? Shall an inferior magistrate, a governor, who holds his power of the Roman people, in a Roman province, within sight of Italy, bind, scourge, torture with fire and red-hot plates of iron, and at last put to the infamous death of the cross; a Roman citizen ? Shall neither the cries of innocence expiring in agony, nor the tears of pitying spectators, nor the majesty of the Roman commonwealth, nor the fear of the justice of his country, restrain the licentious and wanton cruelty of a monster, who, in confidence of his riches, strikes at the root of liberty and sets mankind at defiance ?

[blocks in formation]

Though I am not conscious; O Romans, of any crime by me committed, it is yet with the utmost shame and confusion, that I appear in your assembly. You have seen it-posterity will know it !—in the fourth consulship of Titus Quinctius, the Æqui and Volsci (scarce a match for the Hernici alone) came in arms, to the very gates of Rome,—and went away unchastised! The course of our manners, indeed, and the state of our affairs, have long been such, that I had no reason to presage much good; but, could I have imagined that so great an ignominy would have befallen me this year, I would, by banishment

I or death, (if all other means had failed,) have avoided the station I am now in. What! might Rome then have been taken, if those men who were at our gates had not wanted courage for the attempt ?—Rome taken whilst I was consul ?-Of honors I had sufficient—of life enough--more than enough—I should have died in my third consulate.

But who are they that our dastardly enemies thus despise ?the consuls, or you, Romans? If we are in fault, depose us or punish us yet more severely. If you are to blame—may neither gods nor men punish your faults! only may you repent! -No, Romans, the confidence of our enemies is not owing to their courage, or to their belief of your cowardice: they have been too often vanquished, not to know both themselves and you. Discord, discord is the ruin of this city! The eternal disputes between the senate and the people are the sole cause of our misfortunes.' While we set no bounds to our dominion, nor you to your liberty; while you impatiently endure patrician

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »