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when I am entering on my defence, let me suppress everything invidious, sensible as I must be of this the advantage of my adversary. In the next place, such is the natural disposition of mankind, that invective and accusation are heard with pleasure, while they who speak their own praises are received with impatience. His, then, is the part which commands a favourable acceptance; that which must prove offensive to every single hearer is reserved for me. If, to guard against this disadvantage, I should decline all mention of my own actions, I know not by what means I could refute the charge, or establish my pretensions to this honour. If, on the other hand, I enter into a detail of my whole conduct, private and political, I must be obliged to speak perpetually of myself. Here, then, I shall endeavour to preserve all possible moderation; and what the 'circumstances of the case necessarily extort from me, must, in justice, be imputed to him who first moved a prosecution so extraordinary,
But, since he hath insisted so much upon the event, I will hazard a bold assertion. But, in the name of Heaven! let it not be deemed extravagant; let it be weighed with candour. I say, then, that had we all known what fortune was to attend our efforts ; had we all foreseen the final issue; had you foretold it, Æschines; had you bellowed out your terrible denunciations (you whose voice was never heard); yet even in such a case, must this city have pursued the very same conduct, if she had retained a thought of glory, of her ancestors, or of future times. For thus she could only have been deemed unfortunate in her attempts; and misfortunes are the lot of all men, whenever it may please Heaven to inflict them. But if that state which once claimed the first rank in Greece, had resigned this rank in time of danger, she had incurred the censure of betraying the whole nation to the enemy. What part of Greece, what part of the barbarian world, has not heard that the Thebans in their period of success, that the Lacedæmonians, whose power was older and more extensive, that the king of Persia, would have cheerfully and joyfully consented that this state should enjoy her own dominions, together with an accession of territory ample as her wishes, upon this condition—that she should receive law, and suffer another state to preside in Greece. But, to Athenians, this was a condition unbecoming their descent, intolerable to their spirit, repugnant to their nature. Athens never was once known to live in a slavish though a secure obedience to unjust and arbitrary power. No, our whole history is one series of noble contests for pre-eminence; the whole period of our existence hath been spent in braving dangers for the sake of glory and renown. And so highly do you esteem such conduct, so consonant to the Athenian character, that those of your ancestors who were most distinguished in the pursuit of it, are ever the most favourite objects of your praise. And with reason. For who can reflect without astonishment upon the magnanimity of those men, who resigned their lands, gave up their city, and embarked in their ships to avoid the odious state of subjection! Who chose Themistocles, the adviser of this conduct, to command their forces; and, when Lycidas proposed that they should yield to the terms prescribed, stoned him to death? Nay, the public indignation was not yet allayed. Your very wives inflicted the same vengeance on his wife. For the Athenians of that day looked out for no speaker, no general, to procure them a state of prosperous slavery. They had the spirit to reject even life, unless they were allowed to enjoy that life in freedom. Should I, then, attempt to assert, that it was I who inspired you with sentiments worthy of your ancestors, I should meet the just resentment of every hearer. No, it is my point to shew, that such sentiments are properly your own; that they were the sentiments of my country long before my days. I claim but my share of merit in having acted on such principles in every part of my administration. He, then, who condemns every part of my administration, he who directs you to treat me with severity, as one who hath involved the state in terrors and dangers, while he labours to deprive me of present honour, robs you of the applause of all posterity. For if you now pronounce that, as my public conduct hath not been right, Ctesiphon must stand condemned, it must be thought that you yourselves have acted wrong, not that you owe your present state to the caprice of fortunebut it cannot be! No, my countrymen! it cannot be you have acted wrong, in encountering danger bravely, for the liberty and the safety of all Greece. No! by those generous souls of ancient times who were exposed at Marathon! By those who stood arrayed at Platea! By those who encountered the Persian fleet at Salamis ; who fought at Artimisium! By all those illustrious sons of Athens, whose remains lie deposited in the public monuments! All of whom received the same honourable interment from their country; not those only who prevailed, not those only who were victorious--and with reason. What was the part of gallant men, they all performed: their success was such as the supreme director of the world dispensed to each.
As to those public works so much the object of your ridicule, they undoubtedly demand a due share of honour and applause; but I rate them far beneath the great merits of my administration. It is not with stones nor bricks that I have fortified the city. It is not from works like these that I derive my reputation. Would you know my methods of fortifying ? Examine, and you will find them in the arms, the towns, the territories, the harbours I have secured; the navies, the troops, the armies I have raised. These are the works by which I defended Attica, as far as human foresight could defend it: these are the fortifications I drew round our whole territory, and not the circuit of our harbour, or of our city only. In these acts of policy, in these provisions for a war, I never yielded to Philip. No; it was our generals and our confederate forces who yielded to fortune. Would you know the proofs of this? They are plain and evident. Consider: what was the part of a faithful citizen; of a prudent, an active, and an honest minister ? Was be not to secure Eubea as our defence against all attacks by sea ? Was he not to make Bæotia our barrier on the midland side ? The cities bordering on Peloponnesus, our bulwark on that quarter? Was he not to attend with due precaution to the importation of corn, that this trade might be protected through all its progress up to our own harbour? Was he not to cover those districts which he commanded by seasonable detachments, as the Proconesus, the Chersonesus, and Tenedos ? To exert himself in the assembly for this purpose; while with equal zeal he laboured to gain others to our interest and alliance, as Byzantium, Abydos, and Eubea ? Was he not to cut off the best and most important resources of our enemies, and to supply those in which our country was defective ?—and all this you gained by my counsels and my administration. Such counsels, and such an administration, as must appear, upon a fair and equitable view, the result of strict integrity; such as left no favourable juncture unimproved through ignorance or treachery, such as ever had their due effect, as far as the judgment and abilities of one man could prove effectual. But if some superior being, if the power of fortune, if the misconduct of generals, if the iniquity of your traitors, or if all these together, broke in upon us, and at length involved us in one general devastation, how is Demosthenes to be blamed ? Had there been a single man in each Grecian state to act the same part which I supported in this city; nay, had but one such man been found in Thessaly, and one in Arcadia, actuated by my principles, not a single Greek, either beyond or on this side Thermopylæ, could have experienced the misfortunes of this day. All then had been free and independent, in perfect tranquillity, security, and happiness, uncontrolled in their several communities by any foreign power, and filled with gratitude to you and to your state, the authors of these blessings 80 extensive and so precious. And all this by my means.
II. DEMOSTHENES TO THE FREEMEN OF ATHENS. HAD we been convened, Athenians, on some new subject of debate, I had waited until most of the usual persons had declared their opinions. If I had approved of any. thing proposed by them, I should have continued silent; if not, I had then attempted to speak my sentiments. But since those very points on which these speakers have oftentimes been heard already, are at tạis time to be considered; though I have risen first, I presume I may expect your pardon: for if they, on former occasions, had advised the necessary measures, you would not have found it needful to consult at present.
First, then, Athenians, these our affairs must not be thought desperate; no, though our situation seems entirely deplorable. For the most shocking circumstance of all our past conduct, is really the most favourable to our future expectations. And what is this ? That our own total indolence has been the cause of all our present difficulties. For were we thus distressed in spite of every vigorous effort which the honour of our state demanded, there were then no hope of a recovery.
If there be a man in this assembly who thinks that we must find a formidable enemy in Philip, while he views on one hand the numerous armies that surround him, and, on the other, the weakness of the state thus despoiled of its dominions; he thinks justly. Yet let him reflect on this: there was a time, Athenians, when we possessed Pydna, and Potidæa, and Methone, and all that country round; when many of the states now subjected to him were free and independent, and more inclined to our alliance than to his. Had Philip then reasoned in the same manner-How shall I dare to attack the Athenians, whose garrisons command my territories, while I am destitute of all assistance-he would not have engaged in those enterprises which are now crowned with success, nor could he have raised himself to this pitch of greatness. No, Athenians, he knew this well, that all these places are but prizes laid between the combatants, and ready for the conqueror; that the dominions of the absent devolve naturally to those who are in the field—the possessions of the supine to the active and intrepid. Animated by these sentiments, he overturns whole nations; he holds all people in subjection ; some, by the right of conquest, -others, under the title of allies and confederates : for all are willing to confederate with those whom they see prepared and resolved to exert themselves as they ought.