صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

event which generally determines mens judgment of every thing precedent: and, therefore, all affairs hereafter should engage your strictest care; that, by correcting our errors, we may wipe off the inglorious stain of past actions. But should we be deaf to these men too, and should he be suffered to subvert Olynthusj say, what can prevent him from marching his forces into whatever territory he pleases?

Is there not a man among you, Athenians, who reflects by what steps Philip, from a beginning so inconsiderable, hath mounted to this height of power? First, he took Aniphipolis; then he became master of Pydna; then Potidaea fell; then Methone; then came his inroad into Thessaly: after this, having disposed affairs at Pherae, at Psfgasae, at Magnesia, entirely as he pleased, he marched into Thrace. Here, while engaged* in expelling some, and establishing other princes, he fell sick. Again recovering, he never turned a moment from his course to ease or indulgence, but instantly attacked the Olynthians. His expeditions against the Illyriaiis, the Paeonians, against Arymbas,* I pass all over.—But I may be asked, why this recital now? That you may know and see your own error, in ever neglecting some part of your affairs, as if beneath your regard; and that active spirit with which Philip pursues his designs; which ever fires him, and which never can permit him to rest satisfied with those things he hath already accomplished. If, then, he determines firmly and invariably to pursue his conquests; and if we are obstinately resolved against every vigorous and effectual measure; think, what consequences may we expect! In the name of Heaven! can any man be so weak, as not to know that, by neglecting this war, we are transfering it from that country to our own? And should this happen, I fear, Athenians, that as they who inconsiderately borrow money on high interest, after a short-lived affluence are deprived of their own fortunes; so we, by this continued indolence, by consulting only our ease and pleasure, may be reduced to the grievous necessity of engaging in affairs the most shocking and disagreeable, and of exposing ourselves in the defence of this our native territory."

''Into Thrace. Here, while engaged, &c.l—Thrace was inhabited by an In-' finite number of different people, whoso names Herodotus has transmitted. And he observes, that could they have united under a single chief, or connected themselves by interest or sentiment, they would have formed a body infinitely superior toall their neighbors. After Teres, the Thracians had divers kings. This prince had two sons, Sitalcis and Sparadocus, among whose descendants various contests arose, till, after a series of usurpations and revolutions, Seuthes recovered part of the territory of his father Masades, and transmitted the succession peaceably to Cotis the father of Cersobleptes (as Demosthenessays; not his brother, as Diodorus). At the death ofCotls the divisions recommenced, and in the place of one king Thrace had three, Cersohleptes. Berisades, and Amadocus. Cersobleptes dispossessed the other two, and was himself dethroned by Philip. Frontinus reports, that Alexander, when he had conquered Thrace, brought the princes of tliat country with him in his expedition into Asia, to prevent their raising any commotions in his absence; a proof that Philip and Alexander had established several petty kings In Thrace, who were vassals to Macedon.—Tourreii,

To understand the history of these ages, most of the great orators of them should be consulted. They abound in lessons of wisdom and beauties of composition. If some of their beauties are lost in translations, a competent knowledge of their subjects, and the methods of treating them are retained. If a little of the classic unction evaporates in a translation, much of the original virtue remains, to repay the reader for all his attentions to them.

* Arymbas.]—He was the son of Alcetas.'kingof Epirus, and brother to Neoptolcmus, whose daughter Olympian Philip married. About three years before the date of this oration the death of their father produced a dispute between the brothers about the succession. Arymbas was the lawful heir; yet Philip obliged him, by force of arms, to divide the kingdom with Neoptolcmus: and not contented with this, at the death of Arymbas, he found means by his intrigues and menancos, to prevail on the Epirots to banish his son, and to constitute Alexander the son of Neoptolcmus sola monarch.— Teurrell.

Isocrates is the model of many of our best writers. Sir William Jones, the most accomplished of modern scholars, certainly drew from this princely writer; not directly, but as steel takes mysterious and powerful principles from the loadstone, mind touches mind to the utmost attractive power, and loses nothing by imparting its virtue. The giant orators of modern times owe much of their celebrity to the study of the ancients. The elder Pitt's orations had the polished and measured sentences of Isocrates, with the copiousness of Cicero; while the younger Pitt, with less feeling, and more philosophical condensation, made Demosthenes his archetype. Some of our own speakers have drank deeply of these fountains, and found them the waters of inspiration.

There was another class of writers among the Greeks, who were distinctly stiled historians. The prince of these was Herodotus. Cicero, the first writer of any age, stiled him the father of history. Herodotus was born in Halicarnassus, in Caria, in the seventyfourth Olympiad, about four hundred and eighty-four years before Christ, and was senior to the age of philosophy. He was born in troublesome time?, his country being then in thraldom. He began his travels in youth, and extended them through Greece, Italy, and Egypt. He went out to observe every thing of the origin and character of nations; and the priests of Egypt finding out his thirst for knowledge, opened their treasures to him with pleasure and confidence, for the learned are generally willing to impart their stores of knowledge, when they find those anxious to learn. He returned a patriot; and having assisted to retrieve his country from its oppressors, he retired to Ionia to write the history which has given him fame, and the world so much information. His mother tongue was the Doric, but he preferred the bland Ionian dialect, as it was most in vogue as a medium of polite literature in his time. When he was thirty-nine years old he had finished his work, and repaired to the Olympic games, and there read his history to his countrymen. It was received with universal applause. It was divided into nine books, and his countrymen named them, in honor of his genius, after the nine muses. This history embraced a period of two hundred and forty years, from Cyrus the Great to Xerxes; and it contained, besides the transactions between Persia and Greece, some sketches of other countries.

He has been charged with a love of the marvellous, but more modern historians have justified him in some things. It often happens that men of limited intelligence are more incredulous than those of full minds; and, indeed, many things, says Herodotus, "I give you as I received them," not putting his veracity at stake for the truth of them. In those matters which happened in his time no one* ever doubted his correctness. His style is easy, graceful, flowing, and, at times, exuberant and sparkling with genius. His periods flow in Ionian mellifluousness, and his history remains a model for future generations. Some things in his geography have often been questioned, but Major Ronnells, an English gentleman, has lately satisfactorily explained most of it. To the English and French officers we are indebted for many admirable tracts upon ancient geography. They have improved every opportunity to enlighten mankind; and their profession gives them both leisure and opportunity. And it is but justice to say that among the best members of the peace society, have been found those trained to arms. There is nothing more narrow minded than enmities to particular professions. Professions are the accidents of society, while talents are the gift of God; and their improvement the disposition or the fortune of their possessors. I look forward to this profession from our national school for those who shall give us the minute history of our country, as it regards her battles, her sufferings, and her triumphs, in her days of small things, which have become great by consequences. Already they have begun their topographical surveys, and laid a broad foundation of physical geography. The military and civil departments will follow, and not at a far distant period.

Thucydides, it is said, when a youth, heard Herodotus read his history at the Olympic games; and the genius of history kindled in his soul a fire that did not go out during his life. He treated of his own country; and leaving the rules of the poets, he made his fame to rest rather on the faithfulness of his narrative and descriptions, and the accuracy of his chronology, than on the splendor of his diction, or the power of his genius in poising periods, and inventing illustrations. It may be said of him, that he is a higher standard for accuracy than his great predecessor, but not so fine a writer. He had, probably, heard Herodotus criticised for being too negligent of dates, and he was careful not

« السابقةمتابعة »