Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

tire, have acquired better hope by the loss of two thirds of their horse and foot in passing the Alps.

6. But you have heard, perhaps, tirat though they are few in number, they are men of stout hearts, and robust bodies; heroes of such strength and vigor as nothing is able to resíst. Mere effigies ! nay shadows of men! wretches, emaciated with hunger and benumbed with cold ! bruised and battered to pieces among the rocks and craggy cliffs ! their weapons broken and their horses weak, and foundered !Such are the cavalry and such the infantry, with which you are going to contend ; not enemies, but the fragments of enemies..

7. There is nothing which I more apprehend, than that it will be thought Hannibal was vanquished by the Alps before we had any conflict with him. But perhaps it was fitting it should be so; and that, with a people and leader who had violated leagues and convenants, the gods themselves, without man's help, should begin the war, and bring it to a near conclusion ; and that we, who next to the gods have been injured and offended, should happily finish what they

have begun

8. I need not be in any fear that you should suspect me of saying these things merely to encourage you, while inwardly I have different sentiments. What hindered me from going to Spain ? That was my province, where I should have had the less dreadful Asdrubal, not Hannibal to deal with.

9. But hearing, as I passed along the coast of Gaul, of this enemy's march, I landed my troops, sent the horse forward, and pitched my camp upon the Rhone. A part of my cavalry encountered and defeated that of the enemy. My infantry not being able to overtake theirs, which fled before us, I returned to my fleet; and, with all the expedition I could use in so long a voyage by.sea and land, am come to meet them at the foot of the Alps..

10. Was it then ny inclination to avoid a contest with this tremendous Hannibal, and have I met with him only by accident and unawares? Or-am I come on purpose to challenge him to the combat ?

11. I would gladly try whether the earth, within these twenty years, has brought forth a new kind of Carthagenians ; or whether they be the same sort of men who fought at the Ægates, and whom at Eryx, you suffered to

0,2

redeem themselves at eighteen denarii a head ; whether this Hannibal, for labors and journeys is, as he would be thought the rival of Hercules; or whether he is what his father lest liim, a tributary, a vassal, a slave of the Roman people.

12. Did not the consciousness of his wicked deed at Sa. guntum torment him and make him desperate, he would have some regard, if not to his conquered country, yet surely to his cwn family, to his father's memory, to the treaty writteo witii Amilcar's own hand. We might have starved him in Eryx ; we might have passed into Africa with our victorious feet; and in a few days have destroyed Carthage. At their humble supplication we pardoned them, we released them, when they were closely shut up without a possibility of escaping ; we made peace with them when they were conquered.

13. When they were distressed by the African war, we considered them, we treated them as a people under our protection : And what is the return they make us for all these favors ? Under the conduct of a hair brained young inan, they come hither to overturn our state, and lay waste our country

14. I could wish indeed, that it were not so ; and that the war we are now. engaged in concerned only our own glory, and not our preservation. But the contest at present is not for the possession of Sicily and Sardinia, but of Italy itself; nor is there behind us arother ariny, which if we should not prove conquerors, may make head against our victori. ous enemies,

15. There are no more Alps for them to pass which might give us leisure to raise new forces : No, soldiers ; here you must take your stand, as if you were just now bço fore the walls of Rome. Let every one reflect, that he is How to defend not his own person only, but his wife, his chila dren, his helpless infants.

16. Yet let not private considerations alope possess our minds ; let us remember that the eyes of the senate and people of Rome are upon us; and that as our force and courage shall now prove, such will be the fortune of that city and of the Roman empire.

IT

CAIUS MARIUS to the Romans, shewing the absurdity of their

hesitating to confer on him the rank of general, merely on

account of his extraction, 1.

T is but too common, my countrymen, to observe a ma

terial difference between the behavior of those who stand candidates for places of power and trust, before and after their obtaining them.

2. They solicit them in one manner, and execute them in another. They set out with a great appearance of activity, humility, and moderation ; and they quickly fall into sloth, pride and avarice,

3. It is undoubtedly no easy matter to discharge, to the general satisfaction, the duty of a supreme commander in troublesome times.

4. To carry on, with effect, an expensive war, and yet be frugal of the public money ; to oblige those to serve, whom it may be delicate to offend ; to conduct at the same time, a complicated variety of operations ; to concert measures at home, answerable to the state of things road ; and to gain every valuable end, in spite of opposition from the envious, the factious, and the disaffected to do all this, my countrymen, is more difficult than is generally thought.

5. But, besides the disadvantages which are common to me with all others in eminent stations, my case is in this l'espect, peculiarly hard ; that, whereas a commander of patrician rank, if he is guilty of a neglect or breach of duty, has his great connexions, the antiquity of his family, the important services of his ancestors, and the multitudes he has by power engaged in his interest, to screen him from condign punishment ; my whole safety depends upon myself, which renders it the more indispensably necessary for me to take care that my conduct be clear and unexceptionable,

6. Besides, I am well aware, my countrymen, that the eye of the public is upon me ; and that, though the impurtial, who prefer the real advantage of the commonwealth, to all other considerations, favor my pretensions, the patricians want nothing so much as, au occasión against me.

7. It is, therefore, my fixed resolution to use my best endeavors, that you be not disappointed in me, and that their indirect designs against me may be defeated.

8. I have from my youth, been familiar with toils and with dangers. I was faithful to your interest, my country,

[ocr errors]

men, when I served you for no reward but that of honor. Fe is not my design to betray you, now that you have conferred upon me a place of profit.

9. You have committed to my conduct the war against Jugurtha. The patricians are offended at this. But where would be the wisdom of giving such a command to one of their honorable body? A person of illustrious birth, of ancient family, of innumerable statues, but-of no experience,

10. What service would his long line of dead ancestors, or his inultitude of motionless statues do his country in the day of battle? What could such a general do, but in his trepidation and inexperience, have recourse to some inferior commander for direction in difficulties to which he was not himself equal ? Thus your patrician general would in fact have a general over him ; so that the acting commander would still be a plebian.

11. So true is this, my countrymen, that I have myself known those who have been chosen consuls, begin then to: read the history of their own country, of which, till the time, they were totally ignorant ; that is, they first obtained the employment, and then bethought themselves of the qualifications necessary for the proper discharge of it.

12. I submit to your judgment, Romans, on which side the advantage lies, when a comparison is made between patrician haughtiness and plebian experience. The very actions which they have only read, I have partly seen, and partly myself atchieved. What they know by reading, I know by action. They are pleased to slight my mean birth ; 1) despise their mean characters. Want of birth and fortune, is the objection against me, want of personal worth against them.

13. But are not all men of the same species? What can make a difference between one man and another, but the endowments of the mind ? For my part, I shall always look upon the bravest man 'as the noblest man. Suppose it were inquired of the fathers of such patricians as Albinus and Bestia, whether if they had their choice, they would desire sons of their character or of mine? What would they answer, but that they should wish the worthiest to be their sons ? If the patricians have reason to despise , me, let them likewise despise their ancestors, whose

Lility was the fruit of their virtue. Do they enny the

1

honors bestowed upon me, let them envy likewise my labors, my abstinence, and the dangers I have undergone for my country, by which I have acquired them.

14. But those worthless men lead such a life of inactivity, as if they despised any honors you can bestow ; whilst they aspire to honors, as if they had deserved them by the most industrious.virtue. They lay claim to the reward of activity, for their having enjoyed the pleasures of luxury ; yet none can be more lavish than they are in praise of their ancestors.' And they imagin they honor themselves by celebrating their forefathers ; whereas they do the very contrary; for as much as their ancestors were distinguished for their virtues, so much are they disgraced by their vices.

15. The glory of ancestors casts a light, indeed, upon their posterity ; but it only serves to show what the descendants are. It alike exhibits to public view their degeneracy and their worth. I own I cannot boast of the deeds of my forefathers; but I hope I may answer the cavils of the patricians, by standing up in defense of what I have myself done.

16. Observe now, my countrymen, the injustice of the patricians. They arrogate to themselves honor on account of the exploits done by their forefathers, whilst they will not allow me the due praise for performing the very same sort of actions in my own person. He has no statues, they cry, of his family. He can trace no venerable line of ancestors. What then? Is it matter of more praise to disgrace one's illustrious ancestors, than to become illustrious by one's own good behavior ?

17. What if I can show no statues of my family! I can show the standards, the armor, and the trappings which I have myself taken from the vanquished ; I can show the scars of those wounds which I have received by facing the enemies of

my country. These are my statues. These are the honors. boast of ; not left me by inheritance, as theirs; but earned by toil, by abstinance, by valor ; amidst clouds of dust and seas of blood; scenes of action, where those effeminate patricians, who endeavor by indirect means to depreciate me in your esteem, have never dared to show their faces,

« ZurückWeiter »