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Good and great gods, where are we? What city do we inhabit? Under what government do we live? Here-here, conscript fathers, mixed and mingled with us all-in the center of this most grave and venerable assembly are men sitting, quietly incubating a plot against my life, against all your lives the life of every virtuous senator and citizen; while I, with the whole nest of traitors brooding beneath my eyes, am parading in the petty formalities of debate; and the very men appear scarcely vulnerable by my voice, who ought long since to have been cut down with the sword. Proceed, Catiline, in your meritorious career! Go where destiny and desire are driving you! Evacuate the city for a season. The gates stand open. Begone! What a pity that the Manlian army should look so long for their general! Take all your loving friends along with you; or, if that be a vain hope, take, at least, as many as you can, and cleanse the city for some short time. Let the walls of Rome be the mediators between me and thee; for, at present, you are much too near. Ι will not suffer you; I will not longer endure you!
Lucius Catiline, away! Begin as soon as you can this shameful and unnatural war. Begin it, on your part, under the shade of every dreadful omen; on mine, with the sure and certain hope of safety to my country, and glory to myself: and, when this you have done, then, do Thou, whose altar was first founded by the founder of our state- Thou, the establisher of this city, pour out thy vengeance upon this man, and all his adherents! Save us from his fury; our public altars, our sacred temples, our houses and household gods, our liberties, our lives. Pursue, tutelar god! pursue them, these foes to the gods and to goodness - these plunderers of Italy-these assassins of Rome! Erase them out of this life; and in the next let thy vengeance follow them still, insatiable, implacable, immortal!
V.-REPLY TO ESCHINES.
UNDER what circumstances, O Athenians, ought the strenuous and patriotic orator to appear? When the state is in jeopardy, when the people are at issue with the enemy, then it is that his vehemence is timely. But now, when I stand clear on all hands, by prescription, by judgments repeatedly pronounced, by my never having been convicted before the people of any offense, and when more or less of glory has of necessity resulted to the public from my course. -now it is that Æschines turns up, and attempts to wrest from me the honors which you propose to bestow! Personal spite and envy are at the bottom of all his
trumped-up charges, my fellow-citizens; and I proclaim him no
Consider, Eschines, whether you are not in reality the country's enemy, while you pretend to be only mine. Let us look at the acts of the orator rather than at the speech. He who pays his court to the enemies of the state does not cast anchor in the same roadstead with the people. He looks elsewhere than to them for his security. Such a man mark me!- am not I. I have always made common cause with the people, nor have I shaped my public course for my individual benefit. Can you say as much? Can you? You, who, instantly after the battle, repaired as ambassador to Philip, the author of all our calamities; and this after you had declared loudly, on previous occasions, against engaging in any such commission, as all these citizens
What worse charge can any one bring against an orator than that his words and his deeds do not tally? Yet you have been discovered to be such a man; and you still lift your voice and dare to look this assembly in the face! Think you they do not know you for what you are? or that such a slumber and oblivion have come over them all as to make them forget the speeches in which, with oaths and imprecations, you disclaimed all dealings with Philip, and declared that I falsely brought this charge against you from personal enmity? And yet, no sooner was the advice received of that fatal -Ŏ! that fatal-battle, than your asseverations were forgotten, your connection publicly avowed! You affected to have been Philip's friend and guest. Such were the titles by which you sought to dignify your prostitution !
But read here the epitaph inscribed by the state upon the monument of the slain, that you may see yourself in it, Æschines, - unjust, calumnious, and profligate. Read!
"These were the brave, unknowing how to yield,
Against the foe; and, higher than life's breath
Our common doom-that Greece unyoked might stand,
Nor shuddering crouch beneath a tyrant's hand.
Do you hear, Æschines? It pertains only to the gods to control fortune and command success. To them the power of assuring victory to armies is ascribed, - not to the statesman, but to the gods. Wherefore, then, execrable wretch, wherefore upbraid me with what has happened? Why denounce may the just gods reserve for the heads of you
against me, what and yours!
PART FIFTH. THE TRIBUNE.*
I. THE DISOBEDIENCE OF MAGISTRATES.
WE have been told, gentlemen, that the magistrate is not bound to execute a law which he has not adopted. We are told that he is not obliged to adopt, as magistrate, a new law which does not suit him; that, when he received his powers, he swore to render justice according to established laws. You now offer him new powers; you exact of him the application of new laws. What is his reply? "I do not desire these powers. I do not engage to execute these laws."
And I, in my turn, reply: These magistrates who are not willing to exercise those functions that have reference to new laws, have they, in disobeying, abdicated their offices, and resigned their commissions? Unless they have done this, then is their conduct inconsistent with their principles. "We are justified," they say, "by our conscience, in disobeying the laws." Their conscience, like that of all men, is the result of their ideas, their sentiments, their habits of thought and action. Let them cease to be magistrates, these men who presume to regard the eternal rights of the people as "new laws; "-who reverence despotic authority, and whose conscience is wounded by the public liberty. Let them abdicate, and become once more as simple citizens! Who will regret them?
Have not all the parliaments of the kingdom recognized the principle that the interruption of justice is a crime-that combined resignations are a forfeiture? The magistrate, the soldier, every man who has public functions to fulfill, may abdicate his place; but can he desert his post? Can he quit it in the critical moment, at the approach of a combat, when his services are needed? In such a moment, the refusal of the soldier would be an act of cowardice the pretended scruples of magistrates would be a crime.
The principle of these refractory officers is, that they will obey such laws only as suit them; in other words, they will obey only themselves. If this be not a folly and a crime, what is our business here? What need of legislation? What is our power?—
In the French National Assembly, every speaker who formally addresses that body, instead of speaking from his place, as in the legislative halls of England and the United States, ascends a sort of elevated platform, called a tribune, from which he harangues his hearers.
what the object of our labors? Let us hasten to replunge into nothingness that constitution which has given birth to so many false hopes. Let the aurora of public liberty be eclipsed, and let the eternal night of despotism cover once more the earth.
II. REPLY TO AN ORDER,
THROUGH M. DE BRÉZÉ, FROM THE KING, FOR THE DISPERSION OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY, JUNE 23D, 1789.
THE Commons of France have resolved to deliberate. We have heard the intentions that have been attributed to the king; and you, sir, who can not be recognized as his organ to the National Assembly, — you, who have here neither place, voice, nor right to speak, you are not the person to bring to us message of his. Go, say to those who sent you, that we are here by the power of the people, and that we will not be driven hence save by the power of the bayonet.
You owe it now to the nation, members of the Assembly, to take all means to assure the success of the great and terrible determination by which you have signalized this memorable day. Recall to mind the occasion of that general federation when all Frenchmen pledged their lives to the defense of liberty and the constitution. Recall to mind the oath which you yourselves took on the fourteenth of January, to be buried under the ruins of this temple sooner than consent to the slightest capitulation, or to a single modification of the constitution.
What heart so frigid that it does not palpitate in this supreme crisis? What soul so abject that it does not mount, if I may so speak, even to heaven, upon the acclamations of the universal joy? What man so apathetic that he does not feel his whole being expanded, and his energies uplifted far above the ordinary level of humanity, by a noble enthusiasm ?
Ah! then, give once more to France, to Europe, the imposing spectacle of a great national consecration. Revive that intrepid spirit, before which Bastilles were crumbled! Let the whole empire, in every part, reëcho those words sublime, "Liberty or death! The constitution! -the whole constitution, unmodified,- or death!" Let these cries shake the very thrones in league against you; let monarchs learn that they have reckoned in vain
ON THE PUNISHMENT OF LOUIS XVI.
upon our internal divisions; that at a moment when the country is in danger, we are animated by one only passion that of saving her or perishing in her behalf; that, finally, if, in the coming struggles, fortune should betray so righteous a cause as ours, our enemies may indeed have it in their power to insult our lifeless bodies, but never, never shall they profane one living Frenchman with their fetters!*
IV. ON THE PUNISHMENT OF LOUIS XVI.
To what punishment shall we condemn Louis the Sixteenth? "The punishment of death is too cruel," says one. "No," says another, "life is more cruel still; let him live." Advocates of the king, is it from pity or from cruelty that you wish to withdraw him from the penalty of his crimes? For my part, I abhor the punishment of death, inflicted so unsparingly by your laws, and I have for Louis neither love nor hatred; I hate only his crimes. I asked for the abolition of the punishment of death in the Assembly which you still call Constituent, and it is not my fault if the first principles of reason appeared to it moral and political heresies; but, if you never thought of renouncing them in favor of so many unfortunate men, whose offenses are less theirs than those of the government, by what fatality do you remember them only to plead the cause of the greatest of all criminals?
You demand an exception to the punishment of death for him alone who can render it legitimate! Yes, the punishment of death, in general, is a crime; and, for this reason alone, that, according to the indestructible principles of nature, it can be justified only in the cases where it is necessary for the security of individuals or of society. Now, the public security never calls for it against ordinary offenses, because society can always prevent them by other means, and put it out of the power of the guilty to be dangerous; but a dethroned king in the bosom of a revolution, which is nothing less than cemented by laws, a king whose name alone brings down the plague of war upon the agitated nation, - neither imprisonment nor exile can render his existence a matter of indifference to the public welfare; and this cruel exception to ordinary laws, which justice avows, can only be imputed to the nature of his crimes. I pronounce with regret this fatal truth; but Louis must die, because the country must
"These lyric words of Vergniaud," says Lamartine, "resounded at Berlin and Vienna." The campaign was opened by France before Prussia and Austria had completed their armaments.