« AnteriorContinuar »
himself equal? Thus, your Patrician general would, in fact, have a general over him; fo that, the acting commander would still be a Plebeian. So true is this, my countrymen, that I have myself known thofe, who have been chofen confuls, 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 neceffary for the proper discharge of it. I fubmit to your judgment, Romans, on which fide 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 feen, and partly myself atchieved. What they know by reading, I know by action. They are pleased to flight my mean birth: I despise their mean characters. Want of birth and fortune is the objection against me: want of perfonal worth against them. But are not all men of the fame fpecies? What can make a difference between one man and another, but the endowments of the mind? For my part, I fhall always look upon the braveft man as the nobleft man. Suppose it were enquired of the fathers of such Patricians as Albinus and Beftia, whether, if they had their choice, they would defire fons of their character, or of mine; what would they answer; but that they should wish the wor'thieft to be their fons? If the Patricians have reason to defpife me, let them likewise despise their ancestors, whose nobility was the fruit of their virtue. Do they envy the honours bestowed upon me? Let them envy likewife my labours, my abftinence, and the dangers I have undergone for my country; by which I have acquired them. But thofe - worthless men lead such a life of inactivity, as if they despised any honours you can beftow; whilft they afpire to hoM
nours, as if they had deferved them by the most industrious virtue. They arrogate the rewards of activity for their haying enjoyed the pleasures of luxury. Yet none can be more lavish than they are, in praife of their ancestors. And they imagine they honour themfelves by celebrating their forefathers. Whereas they do the very contrary. For, as much as their ancestors were diftinguished for their virtues, fo much are they disgraced by their vices. The glory of anceftors cafts a light, indeed, upon their pofterity: but it only ferves to fhew what the descendants are. It alike exhibits to public view their degeneracy and their worth. I own, I cannot boaft of the deeds of my forefathers: but I hope I may answer the cavils of the Patricians, by ftanding up in defence of what I have myself done, Observe, now, my countrymen, the injuftice of the Patricians. They arrogate to themselves honours on account of the exploits done by their forefathers, whilft they will not allow me the due praise for performing the very fame fort of actions in my own perfon. He has no ftatues, 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 illuftrious ancestors than to become illuftrious by his own good behaviour? What if I can fhew no ftatues of my family? I can fhew the standards, the armour, and the trappings, which I have myself taken from the vanquished; I can fhew the fcars of those wounds, which I have received by facing the enemies of my country. These are my ftatues. These are the honours I boast of; not left me by inheritance, as theirs ; but earned by toil, by abstinence, by valour, amidst clouds of dust, and 'feas of blood; scenes of action, where thofe effeminate Patricians, who endeavour, by indirect means, to depreciate me in your esteem, have never dared to fhew their faces.
CHA P. IV.
CALISTHENES'S REPROOF OF CLEON'S FLATTERY TO ALEXANDER.
F the king were prefent, Cleon, there would be no need of my answering to what you have juft proposed. He would himself reprove you for endeavouring to draw him into an imitation of foreign abfurdities, and for bringing envy upon him by fuch unmanly flattery. As he is absent, I take upon me to tell you in his name, that no praise is lafting, but what is rational; and that you do what you can to leffen his glory, inftead of adding to it. Heroes have never, among us, been deified, till after their death. And whatever may be your way of thinking, Cleon, for my part, I wish the king may not, for many years to come, obtain that honour. You have mentioned, as precedents of what you propofe, Hercules and Bacchus. Do you imagine, Cleon, that they were deified over a cup of wine? And are 'you and I qualified to make gods? Is the king, our fovereign, to receive his divinity from you and me, who are his fubjects? First try your power, whether you can make a king. It is, furely, easier to make a king, than a god? to give an earthly dominion, than a throne in heaven. I only wifh, that the gods may have heard, without offence, the arrogant propofal you have made, of adding one to their number; and that they may ftill be so propitious to us, as to grant the continuance of that fuccefs to our affairs, with which they have hitherto favoured us. For my part, I am not ashamed of my country; nor do I approve of our adopting the rites of foreign nations, or learning from them how
we ought to reverence our kings. To receive laws, or rules of conduct, from them, what is it, but to confefs ourselves inferior to them?
IF your perfon were as gigantic as your defires, the world would not contain you. Your right hand would touch the east, and your left the weft, at the fame time. You grafp at more than you are equal to. From Europe you reach Afia: from Afia you lay hold on Europe. And if you should conquer all mankind, you feem difpofed to wage war with woods and fnows, with rivers and wild beafts, and to attempt to fubdue nature. But have you confidered the ufual courfe of things? Have you reflected, that great trees are many years in growing to their height, and are cut down in an hour. It is foolish to think of the fruit only, without confidering the height you have to climb, to come at it. Take: care left, while you strive to reach the top, you fall to the ground with the branches you have laid hold on. The lion, when dead, is devoured by ravens ; and rust confumes the hardness of iron. There is nothing fo ftrong, but it is in danger from what is weak. It will, therefore, be your wisdom, to take care how you venture beyond your reach. Befides, what have you to do with the Scythians, or the Scythians with you? We have never invaded Macedon: why fhould you attack Scythia? We inhabit vast deserts, and pathlefs woods, where we do not want to hear of the name of Alexander. We are not difpofed to fubmit to flavery ; and
and we have no ambition to tyrannize over any nation. That you may understand the genius of the Scythians, we prefent you with a yoke of oxen, an arrow, and a goblet. We use these respectively in our commerce with friends, and with foes. We give to our friends the corn, which we raise by the labour of our oxen. With the goblet we join with them in pouring drink-offerings to the gods; and with arrows we attack our enemies. We have conquered those, who have attempted to tyrannize over us in our own country, and likewise the kings of the Medes and Perfians, when they made unjuft war upon us; and we have opened to ourfelves a way into Egypt. You pretend to be the punisher of robbers; and are yourself the general robber of mankind. You have taken Lydia : you have feized Syria: you are mafter of Perfia: you have fubdued the Bactrians; and attacked India. All this will not fatisfy you, unless you lay your greedy and infatiable hands upon our flocks and our herds. How imprudent is your conduct! You grafp at riches, the poffeffion of which only increases your avarice. You increase your hunger by what should produce fatiety; fo that the more you have, the more you defire. But have you forgot how long the conqueft of the Bactrians detained you? While you were fubduing them, the Sogdians revolted. Your victories ferve no other purpose, than to find you employment by producing new wars. For the business of every conquest is twofold; to win, and to preserve. And though you may be the greatest of warriors, you must expect, that the nations you conquer will endeavour to shake off the yoke as fast as poffible. For what people chufes to be under foreign dominion? If you will cross the Tanais, you may travel over Scythia, and obferve how extensive a territory we inhabit. But to Conquer us is quite another business. Your army is loaded M 3 with