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utter inability to point out any more eligible course)—If this was the case, I say, is it not highly cruel and unjust to arraign
, those measures now, when you could not then propose any better?-In all other cases we find mankind in general perfectly agreed, and determining in every particular with exact precision. Hath a wilful injury been committed ? It is followed with resentment and punishment. Hath a man erred unwillingly? He meets with pardon instead of punishment. Is there a man who hath neither willingly nor inadvertently offended? who hath devoted himself to what appeared the true interest of this country, but in some instances hath shared in the general disappointment ? Justice requires, that, instead of reproaching and reviling such a man, we should condole with him. These points are all manifest: they need not the decision of laws, they are determined by nature, by the unwritten precepts of humanity.Mark then the extravagance of that cruelty and malice which Æschines hath discovered. The very events, which he himself quotes as so many instances of unhappy fortune, he would impute to me as crimes.
Add to all this, that, as if he himself had ever spoken the plain dictates of an honest and ingenuous mind, he directs you to guard against me, to be careful that I may not deceive you, that I may not practise my arts with too much success. The vehement declaimer, the subtle impostor, the art ful manager,—these are the appellations he bestows upon me. Thus hath he persuaded himself that the man who is first to charge his own qualities on others, must effectually impose upon his hearers; and that they can never once discover who he is that urges this charge.—But you are no strangers to his character, and must be sensible, I presume, that all this is much more applicable to him than me.—As to my own abilities in speaking, (for I shall admit this charge, although experience hath convinced me that what is called the power of eloquence depends for the most part upon the hearers, and that the characters of public speakers are determined by that degree of favour and attention which you vouchsafe to each.—If long practice, I say, hath given me any proficiency in speaking, you have ever found it devoted to my country, not to her enemies, not to my private interest. His abilities, on the contrary, have not only been employed in pleading for our adversaries, but in malicious attacks upon those his fellow-citizens who have ever in any degree offended or obstructed him. The cause of justice, the cause of Athens, he hath never once supported. And surely the ingenuous and honest citizen never could expect that his private quarrels, his particular animosities, should be gratified by judges who are to determine for the public; never could be prompted by such motives to commence his prosecution. No; they are passions, which, if possible, never should find a place in his nature: at least should be restrained within the strictest bounds. On what occasions then is the minister and public speaker to exert his vehemence? when I am to be crowned, when I am to receive public honours, fellow-citizens are engaged in some contest with a foreign enemy. These are the proper occasions, for these are the proper subjects of a truly generous and faithful zeal. But never to have demanded justice against me, either in the name of his country, or of his own; never to have impeached any part of my public, or even of my private conduct; yet row, when I am to be crowned, when I am to receive public honours, to commence a prosecution, to exhaust his whole fund of virulence in the attack;—this surely is an indication of private pique, of an envious soul, of a depraved spirit; not of generous and honest principles. And, to point this attack not directly against me, but Ctesiphon, to make him the culprit, is surely the very consummation of all baseness.
When I consider that profusion of words, which you have lavished on this prosecution, I am tempted to believe that you engaged in it, to display the skilful management of your voice, not to bring me to justice.—But it is not language, Æschines, it is not the tone of voice, which reflects honour upon a public speaker; but such a conformity with his fellow-citizens in sentiment and interest, that both his enemies and friends are the same with those of his country. He who is thus affected, he it is who must ever speak the genuine dictates of a truly loyal zeal. But the man who pays his adulation to those who threaten danger to the state, is not embarked in the same bottom with his countrymen, and therefore hath a different dependence for his security.—Mark me, Æschines, I ever determined to share the same fate with these our fellow-citizens. I had no separate interest, no private resource: and, has this been your case? Impossible! Yours! who, when the battle was once decided, instantly repaired, as ambassador, to Philip, the author of all the calamities your country, at that time, experienced; and this, when, on former occasions, you had declared loudly against engaging in any such commission; as all these citizens can testify.
-Whom are we to charge as the deceiver of the state? Is it not the man whose words are inconsistent with his actions ? On whom do the maledictions fall, usually pronounced in our assemblies? Is it not on this man? Can we point out a more enormous instance of iniquity in any speaker, than this inconsistency between his words and actions? And in this have you been detected. Can you then presume to speak; to meet the
, looks of these citizens? Can you persuade yourself, that they are strangers to your character? All so profoundly sunk in sleep and oblivion, as to forget those harangues, in which, with horrid oaths and imprecations, you disclaimed all connection with Philip? You called it an imputation forged by me, and urged from private pique, without the least regard to truth. And yet, no sooner was the advice received of that fatal battle, than your declarations were forgotten, your connection publicly avowed. You affected to declare, that you were engaged to this prince in the strictest bands of friendship. Such was the title by which you sought to dignify your prostitution. Was the son of Glaucothea the minstrel, the intimate, or friend, or acquaintance of Philip? I profess myself unable to discover any just and reasonable ground for such pretensions. No: you were his hireling indeed, bribed to betray the interests of Athens; and, although you have been so clearly detected in this traitorous correspondence; although you have not scrupled, when the battle was once decided, to give evidence of it against yourself; yet have you presumed to attack me with all your virulence; to reproach me with crimes, for which, of all mankind, I am least to be reproached.
Many noble and important schemes hath my country formed, and happily effected by my means, and, that these are retained in memory, take this proof, Æschines. When the people came to elect a person to make the funeral oration over the slain, immediately after the battle, they would not elect you, although you were proposed, although you are so eminent in speaking; they would not elect Demades, who had just concluded the peace, nor Hegemon, no, nor any other of your faction. They elected me. And, when you and Pythocles rose up, (let Heaven bear witness, with what cruelty, with what abandoned impudence!) when you charged me with the same crimes as now, when you pursued me with the same virulence and scurrility; all this served but to confirm the people in their resolution of electing me. You know too well the reason of this preference; yet hear it from me.—They were perfectly convinced, both of that faithful zeal and alacrity with which I had conducted their affairs, and of that iniquity which you and your party had discovered, by publicly avowing, at a time when your country was unfortunate, what you had denied with solemn oaths while her interests flourished. And, it was a natural conclusion, that the men whom our public calamities emboldened to disclose their sentiments, had ever been our enemies, and now were our declared enemies. Besides, they rightly judged that he who was to speak in praise of the deceased, to grace their noble actions, could not, in decency, be the man who had lived and conversed in strict connection with those who had fought against them: that they who, at Macedon, had shared in the feast, and joined in the triumph over the misfortunes of Greece, with those by whose hands the slaughter had been committed, should not receive a mark of honour on their return to Athens. Nor did our fellow-citizens look for men who could act the part of mourners, but for one deeply and sincerely affected. And such sincerity they found in themselves and me; not the least degree of it in you. I was then appointed: you and your associates were rejected. Nor was this the determination of the people only; those parents also, and brethren of the deceased, who were appointed to attend the funeral rites, expressed the same sentiments. For, as they were to give the banquet, which, agreeably to ancient usage, was to be held at his house who had been most strictly connected with the deceased, they gave it at my house; and with reason: for, in point of kindred, each had his connections with some among the slain, much nearer than mine; but with the whole body none was more intimately connected; for he, who was most concerned in their safety and success, must surely feel the deepest sorrow at their unhappy and unmerited misfortune.—Read the epitaph inscribed upon their monument by public authority. In this, Æschines, you will find a proof of your absurdity, your malice, your abandoned baseness.-Read!
In arms, tremendous, sought the fatal plain:
And greatly scorn'd dishonour's abject stain.
Avenging terror menac'd in their eyes.
Death they propos'd their common glorious prize.
Could they their generous necks ignobly bend,
And mourn her ancient glories at an end.
Ceas'd are their toils, and peaceful is their grave:
Acts unresisted, to destroy, or save.)
Chance to despise, and fortune to controul,
Doth to the immortal gods alone pertain :
But mortals combat with their fate in vain.
Æschines! hearest thou this! It pertains only to the gods to control fortune, and to command success. Here, the power of assuring victory is ascribed not to the minister, but to Heaven. Why then, accursed wretch! hast thou so licentiously reproached me upon this head? Why hast thou denounced against me, what I intreat the just gods to discharge on thee and thy vile associates!
Of all the various instances of falsehood, in this his prose