« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
from the frauds and fetters of priestcraft, from the deliriums of fanaticism, and from the terrors and follies of superstition? Consider how much mischief these have done to the world! Even in the last age, what massacres, what civil wars, what convulsions of government, what confusion in society, did they produce! Nay, in that we both lived in, though much more enlightened than the former, did I not see them occasion a violent persecution in my own country? and can you blame me for striking at the root of these evils?
The root of these evils, you well know, was false religion but you struck at the true. Heaven and hell are not more different, than the system of faith I defended, and that which produced the horrors of which you speak. Why would you so fallaciously confound them together in some of your writings, that it requires much more judgment, and a more diligent attention, than ordinary readers have, to separate them again, and to make the proper distinctions? This, indeed, is the great art of the most celebrated freethinkers. They recommend themselves to warm and ingenuous minds, by lively strokes of wit, and by arguments really strong, against superstition, enthusiasm, and priestcraft. But, at the same time, they insidiously throw the colours of these upon the fair face of true religion; and dress her out in their garb, with a malignant intention to render her odious or despicable, to those who have not penetration enough to discern the impious fraud. Some of them may have thus deceived themselves as well as others. Yet it is certain, no book that ever was written by the most acute of these gentlemen, is so repugnant to priestcraft, to spiritual tyranny, to all absurd superstitions, to all that can tend to disturb or injure society, as that gospel they so much affect to despise.
Mankind are so made, that, when they have been
over-heated, they cannot be brought to a proper temper again, till they have been over-cooled. My scepsicism might be necessary, to abate the fever and phrenzy of false religion.
A wise prescription, indeed, to bring on a paralytical state of the mind, (for such a scepticism as yours is a palsy, which deprives the mind of all vigour, and deadens its natural and vital powers,) in order to take off a fever, which temperance, and the milk of the evangelical doctrines, would probably cure?
I acknowledge that those medicines have a great power. But few doctors apply them untainted with the mixture of some harsher drugs, or some unsafe and ridiculous nostrums of their own.
What you now say is too true God has given us a most excellent physic for the soul in all its diseases; but bad and interested physicians, or ignorant and conceited quacks, administer it so ill to the rest of mankind, that much of the benefit of it is unhappily lost.
• CICERO against VERRES.
THE time is come, Fathers, when that which has
long been wished for, towards allaying the envy your order has been subject to, and removing the imputations against trials, is effectually put into your power. An opinion has long prevailed not only here at home, but likewise in foreign countries, both dangerous to you, and pernicious to the state,-that, in prosecutions, men of wealth are always safe, however clearly convicted. There is now to be brought upon his trial before you, to the confusion, I hope, of the propagators of this slanderous imputation, one whose life and actions condemn him in the opinion of all impartial persons; but who, according to his own reckoning and declared dependence upon his riches, is already acquitted; I mean Caius Verres. I demand justice of you, Fathers, upon the robber of the public treasury, the oppres. sor of Asia Minor and Pamphylia, the invader of the rights and privileges of Romans, the scourge and curse of Sicily. If that sentence is passed upon him which his crimes deserve, your authority, Fathers, will be venerable and sacred in the eyes of the public: but if his great riches should bias you in his favour, I shall still gain one point,-to make it apparent to all the world, that what was wanting in this case, was not a criminal nor a prosecutor, but justice and adequate punishment.
To pass over the shameful irregularities of his youth
what does his quæstorship, the first public employment he held, what does it exhibit, but one continued scene of villanies? Cueius Carbo plundered of the public money by his own treasurer, a consul stripped and betrayed, an army deserted and reduced to want, a province robbed, the civil and religious rights of a people violated. The employment he held in Asia Minor and Pamphylia, what did it produce but the ruin of those countries? in which houses, cities, and temples, were robbed by him. What was his conduct in his prætorship here at home? Let the plundered temples, and public works neglected, that he might embezzle the money intended for carrying them on, bear witness. How did he discharge the office of a judge? Let those who suffered by his injustice answer. But his prætorship in Sicily crowns all his works of wickedness, and finishes a lasting monument to his infamy. The mischiefs done by him in that unhappy country, during the three years of his iniquitous administration, are such, that many years, under the wisest and best of prætors, will not be sufficient to restore things to the condition in which he found thein: for it is notorious, that, during the time of his tyranny, the Sicilians neither enjoyed the protection of their own original laws; of the regulations made for their benefit by the Roman senate, upon their coming under the protection of the commonwealth; nor of the natural and unalienable rights of men. His nod has decided all causes in Sicily for these three years. And his decisions have broken all law, all precedent, all right. The sums he has, by arbitrary taxes and unheard-of impositions, extorted from the industrious poor, are not to be com puted. The most faithful allies of the commonwealth have been treated as enemies. Roman citizens have, like slaves, been put to death with tortures. The most atrocious criminals, for money, have been exempted from the deserved punishments; and men of the most unexceptionable characters, condemned and banished
unheard. The harbours, though sufficiently fortified, and the gates of strong towns, have been opened to pirates and ravagers. The soldiery and sailors, belonging to a province under the protection of the commonwealth, have been starved to death; whole fleets, to the great detriment of the province, suffered to perish. The ancient monuments of either Sicilian or Roman greatness, the statues of heroes and princes, have been carried off; and the temples stripped of the images.-Having, by his iniquitous sentences, filled the prisons with the most industrious and deserving of the people, he then proceeded to order numbers of Roman citizens to be strangled in the gaols; so that the exclamation, "I am a citizen of Rome !" which has often, in the most distant regions, and among the most barbarous people, been a protection, was of no service to them, but, on the contrary, brought a speedier and a more severe punishment upon them.
I ask now, Verres, what thou hast to advance against this charge Wilt thou pretend to deny it? Wilt thou pretend, that any thing false, that even any thing aggravated, is alleged against thee? Had any prince, or any state, committed the same outrage against the privilege of Roman citizens, should we not think we had sufficient ground for demanding satisfaction? What punishment ought, then, to be inflicted upon a tyrannical and wicked prætor, who dared, at no greater distance than Sicily, within sight of the Italian coast, to put to the infamous death of crucifixion, that unfortunate and innocent citizen, Publius Gavius Cosanus, only for his having asserted his privilege of citizenship, and declared his intention of appealing to the justice of his country, against the cruel oppressor, who had unjustly confined him in prison at Syracuse, whence he had just made his escape? The unhappy man arrested as he was going to embark for his native country, is brought before the wicked prætor. With eyes darting fury, and a countenance distorted with