« ZurückWeiter »
who act upon the defensive. With hostile banners displayed, you are come down upon Italy; you bring the war. Grief, injuries, indignities fire your minds, and spur you forward to revenge !-First they demanded me; that I, your general, should be delivered up to them ; next, all of you, who had fought at the siege of Saguntum; and we were to be put to death by the extremest tortures. Proud and cruel nation! Every thing must be yours, and at your disposal ! You are to prescribe to us with whom we shall make war, with whom we shall make peace ! You are to set us bounds; to shut us up within hills and rivers ; but you-you are not to observe the-limits which yourselves have fixed. - Pass not the Iberus. What next? Touch not the Saguntines. Saguntum is upon the Iberus, move not a step towards that city.
Is it a small matter then, that you have deprived us of our ancient possessions Sicily and Sardinia ; you would have Spain too? Well, we shall yield Spain; and then you will pass into Africa. Will pass, did I say -This very year they ordered one of their consuls into Africa, the other into Spain. No, soldiers, there is nothing left for us but what we can vindicate with our swords. Come on then. Be men. The Romans may with more safety be cowards; they have their own country behind them, have places of refuge to flee to, and are secure from danger in the roads thither ; but for you there is no middle fortune between death and victo. ry. Let this be but well fixed in your minds, and once. again I say you are conquerors.
C. MARIUS TO THE ROMANS, ON THEIR HESI.
TATING TO APPOINT HIM GENERAL IN THE
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 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 avacice. It is, undoubtedly, no easy matter to discharge, 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
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 factious, and the disaffected ; to do all this my countrymen, is more difficult, than is generally thought. And, besides the disadvantages common to me with all others in eminent case is, in this respect, peculiarly hard ; that, whereas a commander of Patrician rank, if he is guilty of a nego glect, or breach of duty, has his great connections 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; whichi renders
it the more indispensably necessary for me to take 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 illustrious 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 countıy 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. 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 that 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. I suhmit to your Judgment, Romans, on which side the advantage lies, when a comparison is made between Patrician haughtiness, and Plebeian experience. The
very action 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 : I despise their mean characters. Want of birth and fortune is the objection against me: want of personal worth against them. But are not all men of the same species ? What can make a difference hetween 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 enquired of the fathers of such Patricians as Albinus and Bestia, whether, if they had their choice, they would desire sons of their character, or 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 nobility was the fruit of their virtue. Do they envy the honours bestowed on me? Let them envy likewise my labours, my abstinence, and the dangers I have undergone for my country; by which I have acquired them. But those worthless men lead such a life of inactivity, as if they despised any honours you can bestow; whilst they aspire to honours, as if they had deserved them by the most industrious virtue. They arrogate the rewards 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 imagine they honour 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. The glory of ancestors casts a light, indeed, upon their posterity ; but it only serves to shew 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 vp in defence of what I have myself done. Observe, now, my countrymen, the injustice of the Patricians. They arrogate to themselves, honours 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 his own good behaviour ? What if I can shew no statues of my family? I can shew the standards, the armour, and the trappings, which I have myself taken from the vanquished ; I can shew the scars of those wounds, which I have received by facing the enemies of my country. These are my statues. These are the honours I boast of ; not left one by inheritance, as theirs ; but earned by toil, by abstinence, by valour, amidst clouds of dust, and seas of blood ; scenes of action, where those effeminate Patricians, who endeavonr, by indirect means, to depreciate me in your esteem, have never dared to shew their faces.
IF the 'king were present, Cleon, there would be- no need of my answering to what you have just proposed. He would himself reprove you for endeavouring to draw him into an imitation of foreign absurdities, and for bringing envy upon him by such unmanly flattery. As he is absent, I take upon me to tell yo': in his name, that no praise is lasting, but what is rational; and that you do what you can to lessen his glory, instead of adding to it. Heroes have never, among us, been deified, till after