Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

60 are bound in justice not to stretch it beyond its proper

limits.

29.

Extract from Demosthenes. Yes, Athenians, I repeat it, you yourselves are the contrivers of your own ruin. Lives there a man who has confidence enough to deny it? Let him arise, and

assign, if he can, any other cause of the success and 5 prosperity of Philip—" But," you reply, “what Athens

may have lost in reputation abroad, she has gained in splendor at home. Was there ever a greater appearance of prosperity ; a greater face of plenty ?

Is not the city enlarged? Are not the streets better paved, 10 houses repaired and beautified ?"— Away with such trifles ? Shall I be paid with counters ?

An old square new vamped up! a fountain ! an aqueduct! are these acquisitions to brag of? Cast your eye upon the magis

trate under whose ministry you boast these precious 15 improvements.' Behold the despicable creature, raised,

all at once, from dirt to opulence; from the lowest obscurity to the highest honors. Have not some of those upstarts built private houses and seats, vying with the

most sumptuous of our public places? And how have 20 their fortunes and their power increased, but as the com

monwealth has been ruined and impoverished ?

To what are we to impute these disorders, and to what cause assign the decay of a state so powerful and

flourishing in past times? The reason is plain. The 25 servant has now become the master. The magistrate was

then subservient to the people ; all honors, dignities, and preferments, were disposed by the voice and favor of the people ; but the magistrate, now, has usurp

ed the right of the people, and exercises an arbitrary 30 authority over his ancient and natural lord. You, mis

erable people !--the meanwhile, without money, without friends,- from being the ruler, are become the servant; from being the master, the dependent: happy that these

governors, into whose hands you have thus resigned your 35 own power, are so good and so gracious as to continue

your poor allowance to see plays,

of

Believe me, Athenians, if recovering from this leth. argy, you would assume the ancient freedom and spirit

your fathers-if you would be your own soldiers and 40 your own commanders, confiding no longer your affairs

in foreign or mercenary hands-if you would charge yourselves with your own defence, employing abroad, for the public, what you waste in unprofitable pleasures at

home-the world might once more behold you making 45 a figure worthy of Athenians." You would have us,

then, (you say,) do service in our armies in our own persons; and, for so doing, you would have the pensions we receive in time of peace, accepted as pay in time of war.

Is it thus we are to understand you ?"— Yes, Athenians, 50 'tis my plain meaning.--I would make it a standing rule

that no person, great or little, should be the better for the public money, who should grudge to employ it for the public service. Are we in peace ? the public is

charged with your subsistence. Are we in war, or un55- der a necessity, as at this time, to enter into a war ?

let your gratitude oblige you to accept, as pay in defence of your benefactors, what you receive, in peace, as mere bounty.—Thus without any innovation-without alter

ing or abolishing any thing but pernicious novelties, 60 introduced for the encouragement of sloth and idleness,

-by converting only for the future, the same funds, for the use of the serviceable, which are spent, at present, upon the unprofitable, you may be well served in

your armies--your troops regularly paid-justice duly 65 administered—the public revenues reformed and in

creased—and every member of this commonwealth rendered useful to his country, according to his age and ability, without any further burden to the state.

29*

80. Brougham's Speech, on the speech made by the Duke of

York in the house of Lords on the Catholic question, which his Lordship concluded by saying, " I am determined, to whatever censure or obloquy I may be exposed by making this declaration, to persevere in my opposition to these claims, so HELP ME GOD."

Will any man tell me that he has now confident hopes of the Catholic question ? We are told that we are not to try the question of the 40s. freeholders on its own

merits, but that the measure is expedient, because it will 5 ensure the passing of the Catholic Bill. This argument

might have been used twenty-four hours ago, but does any man believe, after what has passed, that the enactment of this measure will be sure to carry the Catholic

Bill? What earthly security have I, that if I abandon 10 my privileges and my duty as a legislator, by voting for

this measure in the dark, I shall even have the supposed compensation, for this abandonment and betrayal of my duty, the passing of the Catholic Bill? I repeat,

that this might have been urged as an argument two or 15 three days ago, but does any man really believe now

that the Catholic Bill will pass? Does any man believe that the ominous news of this day, which has gone forth to England and Ireland, vill not ring the knell of de

spair in the ears of the Catholics? I am not an enemy 20 to consistency of action ; I do not condemn the candid

expression of sincere conviction ; I do not even complain of the violence of zeal, or censure the promulgation of honest obstinacy, however erroneous ; but when

I behold those manly feelings darkened by ignorance 25 and inflamed by prejudice, and blinded by bigotry, I

will not hesitate to assert, that no monarch ever came to the throne of these realms in such a spirit of direct and predetermined, and predeclared hostility to the opin

ions and wishes of the people. I repeat, then, that when 30 that event* shall have taken place, it will be impossible

to carry the question of emancipation ; nay, that its suc

* The accession of the Duke of York, who was heir apparent to the throne.

cess is even at present surrounded by doubt and danger, while such opposition is brewing against it in such a

quarter. Intsead of a majority of twenty-seven mem85 bers of this house, to save the empire from convulsion,

which, within the last twenty-four hours, has become ten thousand times more petrifying to the imagination ; I believe nothing can save Ireland—nothing can pre

serve the tranquillity of Ireland and save England from 40 new troubles, but a large increase of the majority on the

question. Now then, is the time to carry it or not, for years--and even now you can carry it only by an overwhelming majority of this house. This is the hour of its

good fortune. This reign--the present reign, is the criti45 cal moment of its probable success. The time may pass

quickly by you—the glorious opportunity may soon be lost. After a little sleeping, a little debating, and a little sitting upon these benches, and a little folding of

your arms, and a short, passing space of languid procras50 tination, the present auspicious occasion will have dis

appeared, and the dominion of bigotry and despotism will come in all its might upon our slumberings, like an armed man in the night, and destroy the peace of Ire

land, and endanger the safety of England, and threaten 55 the liberties of the general empire.—But God forbid

that such a time may ever arrive! Yet, if it is destined to come upon us, late and far, far distant from us be the ill-omened crisis. If I were a lover of discord-Sir, I

am not a lover of discord-and those perhaps who con60 sider me so, are only not lovers of discord, because they

prefer to what they call discord and commotion, the solitude, which absolute, unthinking obedience pays to unmitigated despotism. I respect all men's consciences.

God forbid that I should not give to their honest differ65 ences of opinion that toleration which I challenge for

myself. I have said that a want of conscientious honesty and frankness is the last charge which I would bring against any man, either within these walls or out

of doors ; but I have lived long enough to know that 70 most antagonists, provided they be not honest, enlight

ened men, are very often the most perverse and pertinacious antagonists, and that all hopes of reclaiıning them from their errors, “so help them God,” is impossible.

It becomes us then, to set our house in order by times, 75 and to recollect, that if we carried up the Bill, on a for

mer occasion, with a majority of nineteen, and it failed in the House of Peers, there is ten thousand fold the necessity of taking this last oportunity of bringing the

question to a conclusion, because an event may happes 80 —God knows how soon or how late, but God forbid that

it should be soon, when you will no longer have the option ; when even if the Bill should be carried-not by a majority of nineteen or twenty-seven-but by a unani

mous vote of both Houses of Parliament, and the voice 85 of the whole country-even if the country streamed with

blood, the measure could not be effected except by an inseparable breach of the Crown.

81. Dangers which beset the Literature of the age.

There are dangers of another sort, which beset the literature of the age. The constant demand for new works and the impatience for fame, not only stimulate

authors to an undue eagerness for strange incidents, 5 singular opinions, and vain sentimentalities, but their

style and diction are infected with the faults of extravagance

and affectation. The old models of fine writing and good taste are departed from, not because they can

be excelled, but because they are known, and want 10 freshness; because, if they have a finished coloring,

they have no strong contrasts to produce effect. The consequence is, that opposite extremes in the manner of composition prevail at the same moment, or succeed

each other with a fearful rapidity. On one side are to 15 be found authors, who profess to admire the easy

flow and simplicity of the old style, the naturalness of familiar prose, and the tranquil dignity of higher compositions. But in their desire to be simple, they become

extravagantly loose and inartificial ; in their familiar20 ity, feeble and drivelling; and in their more aspiring ef

forts, cold, abstract, and harsh. On the other side, there are those who have no love for polished perfection of style, for sustained and unimpassioned accuracy, for

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »