ページの画像
PDF
ePub

tion must be saved from this spirit, or we are lost; shortly shall we follow to the tomb, the republics of other times. The friend of his country looks around him, and anxiously enquires, what power is there to save us. But one power on earth can save us : and that power is-a jury, 1f America is to be saved from the fate of other republics, jurors must be our saviours. Jurors can do more for us than generals. T'he heroes of the revolution created our na:ion ; it is the high prerogative of jurors to preserve it. How are they to preserve it? By keeping pure and dignified the mind of the nation by preserving uncontaminated its morality. If it is asked, how does the existence of a nation of freemen depend on their morality? I answer; were men angels, they would scarcely need the form of government ;-were they devils, they must be bound in fetters of iron ; and as they approximate the one state, or the other, their government may be free, must be severe. It is thine, virtue, to preserve empires ! Thou hast ever been the guardian angel of freedom! Preserve pure and dignified the mind of a nation, and its body is invincible. It may defy an armed world. It is a very Sampson in might. It is the depravation of its might that severs the locks of its strength. How are jurors to preserve the morality of our nasion?-how arrest the devastations of licentiousness ? By their verdicts ; by writing upon the records of our courts, in legible characters, the unchangeable decree, that the violator of character shall be as surely and as severely punished by a verdict in damages as the violator of property or of person. Were jurors in earnest to pursue this course, we should find that the fiend defamation would not dare to stalk thus boldly through our land ;-the tongue of slander would be constrained to remain silent ;--and fear would hermetically seal the lips of calumay. But that great work is not to be accomplished by trifling verdicts. A nation is not to be saved by an oblation of pence. Trivial damages may exasperate, but cannot intimidate malice. The times require exemplary verdicts-and mercy to individuals is treason against the nation. This is not the cause of individ. ual against individual only. The nominal parties to this suit dwindle into comparative unimportance ; and the American nation rears her august form, entreating to be saved from her worst enemy,—to be saved from licentiousness. This is the cause of man against the worst passion of man; it is the cause of virtue against vice. I address myself to you, gentlemen, as the grand inquest of the nation. I appeal to you as the Areopagus of America. I invoke you as that only power which can bind in fetters, and cast out from amongst us, the destroying demon of licentiousness. The spirit of our beloved country looks to you. You are convened in the justly proud metropolis of the land of freedom. What you are about to do will be " recorded as a precedent." In the eyes of the nation, in the eyes of the world, you are this day to pronounce the value of American characters. The honour of our city--the honour of the nationyour own honour is at stake. Act worthy of the dignity of your station-act worthy of yourselves.

Section X. CICERO'S ORATION AGAINST VERRES.

An opinion has long prevailed, not only here at home, but likewise in foreign countries, both dangerous to you, and pernicious to the state, viz. that in prosecutions, men of wealth are always safe, however clearly convicted. There is now to be brought upon his trial before you, to the confusion, I hope, of the propagators of this slanderous imputation, one, whose life and actions condemn him in the opinion of all impartial persons ;; but who, according to his own reckoning, and declared dependence upon his

an opporing a just whose c, Form jus.

of such

vor off recory of recentence

riches, is already acquitted ; I mean Caius Verres. I have undertaken this prosecution (fathers) at the general desire, and with the great expectation of the Roman people, not that I might draw envy upon that illustrious order of which the accused happens to be; but with the direct design of clearing your jus. tice and impartiality before the world. For I have brought upon his trial, one whose conduct has-been such, that in passing a just sentence upon him, you will have an opportunity of re-establishing the credit of such trials ; of recovering whatever inay be lost of the favor of the Roman people, and of satisfying foreign states and kingdoms in alliance with us, or tributary to us. I demand justice of you (fathers) upon the robber of the public treasury, the oppressor of Asia Minor and Pamphylia, the invader of the rights and privileges of Romans, the scourge and curse of Sicily. If that senterce is passed upon him which his crimes deserve, your authority will be venerable and sacred in the eyes of the public. But if his great riches should bias you in his favour, I shall still gain one point, viz. to make it apparent to all the world, that what was wanting in this case was not a criminal nor a prosecutor ; but justice, and adequate punishment.

For, as those acts of violence, by which he has got his exorbitant riches, were done openly, so have his attempts to pervert judgment, and escape due punishment, been public, and in open defiance of decency, He has accordingly said, that the only time he ever was afraid, was when he found the prosecution commenced against him by me; lest he should not have time enough to dispose of a sufficient number of presents in proper hands. Nor has he attempted to se. cure himself by the legal way of defence upon his trial. And, indeed, where is the learning, the eloquence, or the art, which would be sufficient to qualify any one for the defence of him, whose whole life has been a continued series of the most attrocious crimes ? To pass over the shaineful irregularities of his youth, what does his quæstorship, the first pub: lic employment he held, what does it exhibit, but one continued scene of villanies ; Cneius Carbo plundered of the public money by his own treasurer; a consul stripped and betrayed; an army deserted and reduced to want ; a proviuce robbed; the civil and religious rights of a people violated. The employ. ment he held in Asia Minor and Pamphylia, what did it produce, but the ruin of those countries; in which houses, cities, and temples were robbed by him. There he acted over again the scene of his quæstorship, bringing by his bad practices Cneius Dolabella, whose substitute he was, into disgrace with the people, and then deserting him ; not only deserting, but even accusing and betraying him. What was his conduct in his prætorship here at home? Let the plundered temples, and public works neglected, that he might embezzle the money intended for carrying them on, bear witness. How did he discharge the cf. fice of a judge ? Let those who suffered by his injus. tice, answer. But his prætorship in Sicily, crowds all his works of wickedness, and finishes a lasting monument to his infamy. The mischiefs done by him in that unhappy country, during the three years of his iniquitous administration, are such, that many years under the wisest and best of prætors, will not be sufficient to restore things to the condition, in which he found them. For it is notorious, that, during the time of his tyranny, the Sicilians neither enjoyed the protection of their own original laws, of the regulations made for their benefit by the Roman senate, upon their coming under the protection of the commonwealth, nor of the natural and unalienable rights of men. No inhabitant of that ruined country has been able to keep possession of any thing, but what has either escaped the rapaciousness or been neglected by the satiety of that universal plunderer. His nod has decided all causes in Sicily for these three years. And his decisions have broke all law, all precedent, all right. The sums he has, by arbitrary tax

es, and unheard of impositions, extorted from the industrious poor, are not to be computed. The most faithful allies of the commonwealth have been treated as enemies. Roman citizens have, like slaves, been put to death with tortures. The most atrocious criminals, for money, have been exempted from the deserved punishments; and men of the most unexceptionable characters condemned and banished unheard. The harbours, though sufficiently fortified, and the gates of strong towns, opened to pirates and ravagers. The soldiery and sailors belonging to a province, under the protection of the commonwealth, starved to death. Whole fleets, to the great detri. ment of the province, suffered to perish. The ancient monuments of either Sicilian or Roman greatness, the statues of heroes and princes, carried off ; and the temples stripped of their images. And these his atrocious crimes have been committed in so public a manner, that there is no one, who has heard of his name, but could reckon up his actions.

Now, Verres, I ask what you have to advance against this charge? Will you pretend to deny it? Will vou pretend, that any thing false, that even any thing aggravated, is alledged against you? Had any prince, or any state, committed the same outrage against the privileges of Roman citizens, should we not think we. had sufficient ground for declaring iminediate war against them? What punishment ought, then, to be inflicted upon a tyrannical and wicked prætor, who dared, at no greater distance than Sicily, within sight of the Italian coast to put to the infamous death of crucifixion, that unfortunate and innocent citizen, Publius Gavius Cosanus, only for his having asserted his privilege of citizenship, and declared his intention of appealing to the justice of his country against a cruel oppressor, who had unjustly confined him in prison at Syracuse, froin whence he had just made his escape? The unhappy man arrested, as he was going to embark for his native country, is brought be. fore the wicked prætor. With eyes darting fury,

« 前へ次へ »