« 上一頁繼續 »
are pleased to slight my mean birth : I despise their mean characters. Want of birth and fortune is the objection against me : want of personal worth against them. But are not all men of the same species? What can make a difference between one man and another, but the endowments of the mind ? For my part, I shall always look upon the bravest man as the noblest man. Suppose it were enquired of the fathers of such Patricians as Albinus and Bestia , whether , if they had their choice , they would desire sons of their character, or of mine ; what would they answer ; but that they should wish the worthiest to be their sons ? If the Patricians have reason to despise me, let them likewise despise their ancestors, whose nobility was the fruit of their virtue. Do they envy the honour bestowed upon me ? Let them envy likewise my labours, my abstinence, and the dangers I have undergone for my country ; by which I have acquired them. But those worthless men lead such a life of inactivity, as if they despised any honours you can bestow; whilst they aspire to honours , as if they had deserved them by the most industrious virtue. They arrogate the rewards of activity for their
having enjoyed the pleasures of luxury. Yet none can be more lavish than they are , in praise of their ancestors. And they imagine they honour themselves by celebrating their forefathers. Whereas they do the very contrary. For , as much as their ancestors were distinguished for their virtues, so much are they disgraced by their vices. The glory of ancestors casts a light, indeed , upon their posterity : but it only serves to shew what the descendants are. It alike exhibits to public view their degeneracy and their worth. I own , I cannot boast of the deeds of my forefathers : but I hope I may answer the cavils of the Patricians, by standing up in defence of what I have myself done. Observe now, my countrymen, the injustice of the Patricians. They arrogate to themselves honours on 'account of the exploits done by their forefathers, whilst they will not allow me the due praise for performing the very same sort of actions in my own person. He has no statues , they cry, of his family. He can trace no venerable line of ancestors. - What then ! is it matter of more praise to disgrace one's illustrious ancestors than to become illustrious by his own good behaviour ? What if I can shew no statues of my family? I can shew the standards, the armour, and the trappings, which I have myself taken from the vanquished; I can shew the scars of those wounds, which I have received by facing the enemies of my country. These are my statues. These are the honours I boast of ; not left me by inheritance, as theirs ; but earned by toil, by abstinence, by valour , amidst clouds of dust, and seas of blood ; scenes of actions, where those effeminate Patricians, who endeavour , by indirect means, to depreciate me in your esteem, have never dared to shew their faces.
THE SPEECH OF BRUTUS
ON THE DEATH OF CÆSAR.
ROMANS, countrymen , and lovers ! hear me for my cause; and be silent, that you may hear. Believe me for mine honour, and have respect to mine honour, that you may believe. Censure me in your wisdom, and
awake your senses , that you may the better judge. If there be any in this assembly , any dear friend of Cæsar's , to him I say, that Brutus's love to Cæsar was no less than his. If then that friend demand , why Brutus rose against Cæsar, this is my answer : Not that I loved Cæsar less, but that I loved Rome more. Had you rather Cæsar were living, and die all slaves ; than that Cæsar were dead, to live all freemen ? As Cæsar loved me, I weep for him ; as he was fortunate, I rejoice at it; as he was valiant, I honour him ; but as he was ambitious , I slew him. There are tears for his love, joy for his fortune , honour for his valour , and death for his ambition. Who's here so base , that would be a bond-man? If any, speak; for him I have offended. Who's here so rude, that would not be a Roman ? If any , speak; for him have I offended. Who's here so vile, that will not love his country ? If any, speak; for him have I offended - I pause for a reply. —
None ? — then none have I offended. — I have done no more to Cæsar than you should do to Brutus. The question of his death is inrolled in the Capitol ; his glory not extenuated, wherein he was worthy; nor his offences inforced , for which he suffered death.
Here comes his body, mourned by Mark Antony : who though he had no hand in his death , shall receive the benefit of his dying, a place in the commonwealth ; as which of you shall not ? With this I depart, that as I slew my best lover for the good of Rome, I have the same dagger for myself, when it shall please my country to need my death.
THE SCYTHIAN AMBASSADORS
If your person were as gigantic as your desires, the world would not contain you. Your right hand would touch the east, and your left the west, at the same time. You grasp at more than you are equal to. From Europe you reach Asia : from Asia you lay hold on Europe. And if you should conquer all mankind , you seem disposed to wage war with woods and snows, with rivers