Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

Hark, hear ye yon lion roaring in his den ? 'Tis three days since he tasted flesh; but to-morrow he will break his fast upon yours, and a dainty meal for them ye will be.

“If ye are beasts, then stand here like fat oxen, waiting for the butcher's knife! If ye are men — follow me! Strike down yon guard, gain the mountain passes, and there do bloody work, as did your sires at old Thermopylæ! Is Sparta dead? Is the old Grecian spirit frozen in your veins, that you do crouch and cower like a belabored hound beneath his master's lash ? O comrades, warriors, Thracians ! if we must fight, let us fight for ourselves. If we must slaughter, let us slaughter our oppressors! If we must die, let it be under the clear sky, by the bright waters, in noble, honorable battle!”

CATILINE EXPELLED.

CICERO.

At length, Romans, we are rid of Catiline! We have driven him forth, drunk with fury, breathing mischief, threatening to revisit us with fire and sword. He is gone ; he is fled; he has escaped; he has broken away. No longer within the very walls of the city shall he plot her ruin. We have forced him from secret plots into open rebellion. The bad citizen is now the avowed traitor. His flight is the confession of his treason. Would that his attendants had not been so few! Be speedy, ye companions of his dissolute pleasures; be

his army,

speedy, and you may overtake him before night, on the Aurelian road. Let him not languish, deprived of your society! Haste to join the congenial crew that compose

his
army;

I

say, — for who doubts that the army under Manlius expect Catiline for their leader? And such an army! Outcasts from honor, and fugitives from debt; gamblers and felons; miscreants, whose dreams are of rapine, murder, and conflagration !

Against these gallant troops of your adversary, prepare, 0 Romans, your garrisons and armies; and first to that maimed and battered gladiator oppose your consuls and generals; next against that miserable outcast horde, lead forth the strength and flower of all Italy! On the one side chastity contends; on the other, wantonness: here purity, there pollution; here integrity, there treachery; here piety, there profaneness ; here constancy, there rage; here honesty, there baseness; here continence, there lust; in short, equity, temperance, fortitude, prudence, struggle with iniquity, luxury, cowardice, rashness; every virtue with every vice; and, lastly, the contest lies between well-grounded hope and absolute despair. In such a conflict, were even human aid to fail, would not the immortal gods empower such conspicuous virtue to triumph over such complicated vice?

CATILINE, ON HEARING HIS SENTENCE OF

BANISHMENT.

GEORGE CROLY.

But now my

BANISHED from Rome! What's banished, but set free
From daily contact of the things I loathe ?
“ Tried and convicted traitor !” — Who says this?
Who'll prove it, at his peril, on my head ?
Banished ?—I thank you for't. It breaks my chain !
I held some slack allegiance till this hour;

sword's
my own.

Smile on, my lords;
I scorn to count what feelings, withered hopes,
Strong provocations, bitter, burning wrongs,
I have within my heart's hot cells shut up,
To leave you in your lazy dignities.
But here I stand and scoff you: — here I fling
Hatred and full defiance in your face.
Your consul's merciful. For this, all thanks.
He dares not touch a hair of Catiline.
“ Traitor!” I

go

- but I return. This trial ! Here I devote your senate!

I've had wrongs, To stir a fever in the blood of age, Or make the infant's sinew strong as steel. This day's the birth of sorrows ! — This hour's work Will breed proscriptions. Look to your hearths, my

lords; For there henceforth shall sit, for household gods, Shapes hot from Tartarus ! — all shames and crimes; Wan Treachery, with his thirsty dagger drawn;

Suspicion, poisoning his brother's cup;
Naked Rebellion, with the torch and axe,
Making his wild sport of your blazing thrones;
Till Anarchy comes down on you like night,
And Massacre seals Rome's eternal grave.

ORATION ON THE CROWN.

DEMOSTHENES.

Two qualities, Athenians, an upright statesman should possess —

-and I thus speak as I am speaking of myself to avoid being invidious. When in power he should advocate a policy both honorable and lofty; and at all times and in all contingencies, he should be loyal to his country. This last quality is native to the heart, — power and strength depend on other things, and this last you have always found abiding in me. Although hounded by these miscreants, who pursued me like wild beasts, never have I faltered in my allegiance to you. From the beginning, I chose unconditionally the straight and upright course in politics, to uphold the honor, the power, the glory of my country, to increase them if I could, to live and have my being in them. When the stranger was successful, then did I not stalk about our public places rejoicing. Neither did I hear with a shadow of any success to the city, walking with downcast eyes and sorrowful face like these accursed men, who speak ill of and belittle Athens (as if, in so doing, they did not speak ill of and

belittle themselves), who look outside of their country, exulting in the success of the stranger and the misfortunes of Greece.

O ye Gods, let none of these things be approved by you! Rather inspire these men with better mind and counsels! But if they be incorrigible, destroy and utterly confound them. Good is as yet unrealized by any one; and your minds have not the strength to persevere in your resolution, now that a great reverse has taken you unawares. Anything which is sudden and unexpected and utterly beyond calculation; such a disaster, for instance, as this plague coming upon other misfortunes, enthralls the spirit of a man. Nevertheless, being the citizens of a great city and educated in a temper of greatness, you should not succumb to calamities, however overwhelming, or darken the lustre of your

fame. For if men hate the presumption of those who claim a reputation to which they have no right, they equally condemn the faint-heartedness of those who fall below the glory which is their own. Lose, then, the sense of your private sorrows and lay hold of the common good!

GLORY OF ATHENS.

EXTRACT FROM THE SPEECH OF PERICLES. THUCYDIDES.

Know that our city has the greatest name in all the world because she has never yielded to misfortunes, but has sacrificed more lives and endured severer hard

« ZurückWeiter »