Abbildungen der Seite

SOPHONISBA TO MASSINISSA. The will of the gods, your valour, and good fortune, have this day put us entirely in your power, But if it be permitted a captive to lift up a supplicating voice to the lord of her life, to embrace his knees, and touch his conquering hand, I beg and entreat, by the regal dignity which we, too, lately possessed; by the Numidian name, which Syphax shared with you; by the deities of this royal mansion, (may they prove more propitious to you than they have to hinı!) that you would grant this one favour to a wretched suppliant:-not to subject me to the cruel and imperious dominion of a Roman; but to determine the fate of your prisoner according to your own pleasure. Had I been no other than the wife of Syphax, I would ra. ther commit myself to the faith of a Numidian, and, like myself, a native of Africa, than to that of a stranger and a foreigner. What a Carthaginian, what the daughter of Asdrubal has to apprehend from a Roman, yourself may judge ! Oh! if it be no otherwise possible, deliver me, I beseech and implore you, from the Roman power, by death.


SCIPIO TO THE ROMANS. On this day, tribunes and Roman citizens! I gained a signal victory in Africa over Hannibal and the Carthaginians. Since, then, such a day ought to be free from strife and litigation, I shall immediately go from hence to the Capitol to


pay my adorations to the highest Jove, to Juno, Minerva, and the other deities who preside over the sacred citadel; and I shall return them thanks, that both on this day, and many times beside, they have inspired me with the spirit and ability of doing essential service to the republic. Let such of you, too, as have leisure, accompany me; and pray the gods that you may ever have leaders like myself. For as, from the term of seventeen years to the decline of life, you have always outgone my age by the honours conferred on me, so I have anticipated your honours by my actions.

[ocr errors]

MANLIUS TO HIS SON. SINCE you, Titus Manlius ! forgetful of the reverence due to the consular and paternal authority, have fought with the enemy out of your rank, contrary to our express command, and thereby, as far as in you lay, have dissolved that military discipline which has hitherto supported the Roman state, and have reduced me to the necessity of disregarding either the public or my own family; it is just that we should suffer for our own crime, rather than that the commonwealth should pay the forfeit for us, to its own great detriment. We shall afford a sad but salutary example to the youth of future times. I cannot but be moved on this occasion, not only on account of the natural affection which every man bears to his children, but through regard to that specimen of early valour you have exhibited, though deceived by a false appearance of glory. Yet since the consular authority is either to receive a perpetual sanction by your death, or to be for ever abrogated by your impunity; I cannot suppose that even yourself, if any of my blood flows in your veins, would refuse to repair by your punishment that breach in military discipline which your fault has made. Go, lictor, bind him to the stake.


MUCIUS SCÆVOLA TO KING PORSENA. I AM a Roman citizen-my name Mucius. My purpose was to kill an enemy. Nor am I less prepared to undergo the punishment, than I was to perpetrate the deed. To do and to suffer bravely is a Roman's part. Neither am I the only person thus affected towards you. There is a long list of competitors for the same honour. If, therefore, you choose to confront the danger of setting your life every hour at hazard, prepare yourself-you will have the foe in the very porch of your palace. This is the kind of war that the Roman youth declare against you. You have nothing to fear in the field. The combat is against you alone, and every individual is your antagopist.




COUNT OF HIS EXTRACTION. It is but too common, my countrymen, to observe a material difference between the behaviour of those, who stand candidates for places of power and trust, before and after their obtaining them. 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 ava. rice. It is, undoubtedly, no easy matter to dis charge, to the general satisfaction, the duty of a supreme commander in troublesome times. I am, I hope, duly sensible of the importance of the office I propose to take upon me, for the service of my country. 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 abroad; and to gain every valuable end, in spite of opposition from the envious, the facti. ous, and the disaffected; to do all this, my countrymen, is more difficult, than is generally thought. And, besides the disadvantages, which are common to me with all others in eminent stations, my case is, in this respect, peculiarly hard; that, whereas a commander of Patrician rank, if he is guilty of a neglect, or breach of duty, has his great connections, the antiquity of his family, the important service 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 tako care, that my conduct be clear and unexceptionable. Besides, I am well aware, my countrymen, that the eye of the public is upon me; and that, though the impartial, who prefer the real advantage of the commonwealth to all other considerations, favour my pretensions, the patricians want nothing so much, as an occasion against me. It is, therefore, my fixed resolution, to use my best endeavours, that you be not disappointed in me, and that their indirect designs against me may be defeated. I have, from my youth, been familiar with toils, and with dangers. I was faithful to your interest, my countrymen, when I served you for no reward, but that of honour. It is not my design to betray you, now that you have conferred upon me a place of profit. 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 honourable body, a person of illus trious birth, of ancient family, of innumerable statues, but-of no experience? What service would his long line of dead ancestors, or his multitude 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,

« ZurückWeiter »