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A FRAGMENT OF POLY BIUS.*
ATHENs had long been an object of universal admiration, and consequently of envy. Her navy was invincible, her commerce extensive; Europe and Asia supplied her with wealth; of her citizens, all were intrepid, many virtuous; but some too much infected with principles unfavorable to freedom. Hence an oligarchy was, in great measure, established; crooked counsels were thought supreme wisdom; and the Athenians, having lost their true relish for their own freedom, began to attack that of their colonies, and of the States which they had before protected. Their arrogant claims of unlimited dominion had compelled the Chians, Coans, Rhodians, Lesbians, to join with nine other small communities in the social war, which they began with inconceivable ardor, and continued with industry surpassing all example, and almost surpassing belief.
They were openly assisted by Mausolus, king of Caria, to whose metropolis the united Islands had sent a philosopher, named Eleutherion, eminent for the deepest knowledge of nature, the most solid judgment, most approved virtue, and most ardent zeal for the cause of general liberty. The war had been supported for three years with infinite exertions of valor on both sides, with deliberate firmness on the part of the allies, and with unabated vio
* It will be immediately perceived, on the perusal of this pretended Fragment, that it was an ingenious device on the part of Mr. Jones to bring to Dr. Franklin's notice such terms of conciliation, as might probably at this time have been obtained from the British government. The idea of a direct acknowledgment of independence is carefully excluded. By substituting France for Caria, England for Athens, the United States for the Islands, Dr. Franklin for Eleutherion, and Mr. Jones for an Athenian, the interpretation will be obvious.
lence on the part of the Athenians; who had, nevertheless, der . .
spatched commissioners to Rhodes, with intent to propose terms bf accommodation; but the States (perhaps too pertinaciously) refused to hear any proposal whatever, without a previous recognition of their total independence by the magistrates and the people of Athens. It was not long after this, that an Athenian, who had been a pupil of Isaeus together with Demosthenes, and begun to be known in his country as a pleader of causes, was led by some affairs of his clients to the capital of Caria. He was a man unauthorized, unemployed, unconnected; independent in his circumstances, as much as in his principles; admitting no governor, under Providence, but the laws; and no laws but those, which justice and virtue had dictated, which wisdom approved, which his country had sreely enacted. He had been known at Athens to the sage Eleutherion; and, their acquaintance being renewed, he sometimes took occasion in their conversations to lament the increasing calamities of war, and to express his eager desire of making a general peace on such terms as would produce the greatest good from the greatest evil; for “this,” said he, “would be a work not unworthy of the divine attributes; and, if mortals could effect it, they would act like those beneficent beings, whom Socrates believed to be the constant friends and attendants of our species.” He added, “As to the united nations, I applaud, admire, and almost envy them; I am even tempted to wish that I had been born a Chian or a Rhodian ; but let them be satisfied with the prize of virtue, which they have already obtained. I will yield to none of your countrymen, my friend, in my love of liberty; but she seems more lovely to my eyes, when she comes hand-in-hand with peace. From that union we can expect nothing but the highest happiness of which our nature is capable; and it is a union, which nothing now obstructs but—a mere word. Let the confederates be contented with the substance of that independence, which they have asserted, and the word will necessarily follow. Let them not hurt the natural, and, perhaps, not reprehensible, pride of Athens, nor demand any concession that may sink in the eyes of Greece a nation, to whom they are and must be united in language, in blood, in manners, in interest, in principles. Glory is to a nation what reputation is to an individual; it is not an empty sound, but important and essential. It will be glorious in Athens to acknowledge her error in attempting to reduce the Islands; but an ac
knowledgment of her inability to reduce them (if she be unable) will be too public a confession of weakness, and her rank among the states of Greece will instantly be lowered. “But, whatever I might advise, if my advice had any chance of being taken, this I know, and positively pronounce, that, while Athens is Athens, her proud but brave citizens will never ezpressly recognise the independence of the Islands; their resources are no doubt exhaustible, but will not be exhausted in the lives of us and of our children. In this resolution all parties agree. I, who am of no party, dissent from them; but what is a single voice in so vast a multitude? Yet the independence of the united States was tacitly acknowledged by the very offer of terms, and it would result in silence from the natural operation of the treaty. An express acknowledgment of it is merely formal with respect to the allies; but the prejudices of mankind have made it substantial with respect to Athens. “Let this obstacle be removed. It is slight, but fatal; and, while it lasts, thousands and tens of thousands will perish. In war much will always depend upon blind chance, and a storm or sudden fall of snow may frustrate all your efforts for liberty; but let commissioners from both sides meet, and the Islanders, by not insisting on a preliminary recognition of independence, will ultimately establish it for ever. “But independence is not disunion. Chios, Cos, Lesbos, Rhodes, are united, but independent on each other; they are connected by a common tie, but have different forms and different constitutions. They are gems of various colors and various properties strung in one bracelet. Such a union can only be made between states, which, how widely soever they differ in form, agree in one common property, freedom. Republics may form alliances, but not a fed. eral union, with arbitrary monarchies. Were Athens governed by the will of a monarch, she could never be coördinate with the free Islands; for such a union would not be dissimilarity, but dissonance. But she is and shall be ruled by laws alone, that is, by the will of the people, which is the only law. Her Archon, even when he was perpetual, had no essential properties of monarchy. The constitution of Athens, if we must define it, was then a republic with a perpetual administrator of its laws. Between Athens, therefore, and the freest states in the world, a union may naturally be formed. “There is a natural union between her and the Islands, which the gods have made, and which the powers of hell cannot dissolve.
WOL. VIII. 35
Men, speaking the same idiom, educated in the same manner, perhaps in the same place, professing the same principles, sprung from the same ancestors in no very remote degree, and related to each other in a thousand modes of consanguinity, affinity, and friendship, such men, whatever they may say through a temporary resentment, can never in their hearts consider one another as aliens. “Let them meet then with fraternal and pacific dispositions, and let this be the general groundwork and plan of the treaty.
“I. The Carians shall be included in the pacification, and have such advantages as will induce them to consent to the treaty, rather than continue a hazardous war. “II. The archon, senate, and magistrates of Athens shall make a complete recognition of rights of all the Athenian citizens of all orders whatever, and all former laws for that purpose shall be combined in one. There shall not be one slave in Attica. “Note. By making this a preliminary, the Islanders will show their affection for the people of Athens; their friendship will be cemented and fixed on a solid basis; and the greatest good will be extracted, as I at first proposed, from the greatest evil. “III. There shall be a perfect coördination between Athens and the thirteen united Islands, they considering her not as a parent, whom they must obey, but as an elder sister, whom they cannot help loving, and to whom they shall give preeminence of honor and coequality of power. “IV. The new constitutions of the confederate Islands shall remain. “W. On every occasion, requiring acts for the general good, there shall be an assembly of deputies from the senate of Athens, and the congress of the Islands, who shall fairly adjust the whole business, and settle the ratio of the contributions on both sides. This committee shall consist of fifty Islanders and fifty Athenians, or of a smaller number chosen by them. “WI. If it be thought necessary and found convenient, a proportionable number of Athenian citizens shall have seats, and power of debating and voting on questions of common concern, in the great assembly of the Islands, and a proportionable number of Islanders shall sit with the like power in the assembly at Athens. “Note. This reciprocal representation will cement the union. “WII. There shall be no obligation to make war but for the common interest.