« PreviousContinue »
brought under examination; and it is a cause of great congratulation, that they have in this volume found so able and impartial a commentator as President Duer. We cannot but hope, that the work will become a class-book for the rising generation.
2.- The Oration of Demosthenes on the Crown, with Notes. By J. T. CHAMPLIN, Professor of Greek and Latin in Waterville College. Boston: James Munroe and Company. 1843. 12mo. pp. 206.
A BETTER edition of the Oration on the Crown than that of Mr. Negris the only one accessible to the American student until lately has been imperatively needed. The text of that edition is imperfect, and the notes are scanty, and frequently very incorrect. The political antiquities of Greece were but imperfectly understood by the editor, and his explanations on points relating to these subjects are often shallow and unsatisfactory.
On many accounts, this oration is the most valuable and interesting among all the remains of Attic eloquence. The time of its delivery, the events which gave occasion to the prosecution, the political situation of Greece after the battle of Charonea, and the characters and position of the parties, conspire to render that great conflict of eloquence the most memorable in history. Demosthenes had long been the leader of the antiMacedonian party. All his powers of mind, and his indomitable physical energies, had for years been incessantly exercised, in journeys from one end of Greece to the other, in numberless harangues, and in the transaction of every kind of public business. In this eager and earnest career of political action, he was of necessity brought into violent collision with the powerful party who were in the interest of Philip, and afterwards of Alexander. Political animosities, exceeding modern party hostilities in bitterness, necessarily sprang from this state of things; and the constitution of Athens gave many opportunities to opposing statesmen to annoy each other, and to wreak their vengeance under the sanction of legal forms. Demosthenes and Eschines had already measured their strength repeatedly in wielding these weapons; but the occasion of the Oration on the Crown brought the enmities and quarrels of many years to a head. Eschines had prosecuted Ctesiphon, who was a warm partisan of Demosthenes, for a violation of the constitution, in proposing to confer a crown upon the great orator for certain
specific services, and for the unwavering fidelity and patriotism which his whole political course had manifested. It was evident, that a proposition of this kind must be resisted, or the opposite party, by their silence, would be understood as admitting, that their own political conduct had been entirely wrong. It behooved them to put forward their strongest men, and to make their mightiest efforts, in a last struggle between the two sets of political principles. Eschines had every motive of private hostility and public opposition, to urge him to strain his powers to their highest tension. He did his best. On comparing his oration against Ctesiphon with his other pieces, we are struck by its great superiority. In strength and vehemence of language, in the skill with which facts are marshalled so as to bear down upon an adversary, in keenness of invective, and acuteness of argument, Eschines outdid himself, and only fell below his great antagonist. He has been sometimes blamed for dwelling at such great length upon the general political conduct of Demosthenes, instead of confining himself more closely to the illegality of Ctesiphon's proceeding, in the circumstances of the particular case; and he has been charged with a want of skill, in making his argument rest entirely on what, as it is said, he must have known to be the weak side of his own case, and the strong one of that of Demosthenes. But such critics misapprehend the great political issue then and there to be decided. Doubtless, Eschines felt the difficulty, and knew that he was treading on dangerous ground; but he knew that it would be still more dangerous to leave this ground, because that would have been confessing, in the face of all Greece, the political virtue of the Demosthenian party, and the political profligacy of his own. He must, therefore, gallantly join issue on the ground of general political merit, and try the chances of battle, rather than retreat without a struggle. Looking, therefore, upon Æschines as the representative of the party politically opposed to Demosthenes, and without reference to the actual merits of the cause, we say, that the course he adopted was the only judicious one. In his attack, he reviews the public life of Demosthenes for many years; and it must be admitted, that he shows, in doing it, masterly ability.
This course of the prosecution opened a wide field for Demosthenes, in his reply. He, too, reviews the whole course of his public life; and in explaining and vindicating his actions, he appeals with marvellous power to the elevated principles of patriotism and morality, to that lofty civic virtue, which it became the statesman of so magnanimous and illustrious a commonwealth as Athens to make the guide of his political con
- No. 122.
242 Champlin's Edition of Demosthenes on the Crown. [Jan.
duct. This immense advantage, which Demosthenes had over his adversary, was inevitable, springing from the very nature of the long controversy, of which this trial was but the crisis. Demosthenes was a statesman of a much higher moral character than his opponent. He was able to show, that the policy he had invariably recommended was noble, and worthy of the high position his country had assumed and maintained; the results of his policy were in the hands of the gods.
But it is not our purpose at present to analyze this oration any further than is necessary to point out what is required in a good critical edition. The ground covered by this great state trial is very wide. It extends over many years of the most eventful period in the history of the Greek Republics. It abounds, therefore, in historical allusions, not circumstantially, but incidentally introduced. The trial was conducted under the technical forms, prescribed by the constitution of Athens. The oration, therefore, contains a vast number of juridical terms, of course, readily understood by the court to whom they were addressed, but requiring explanation for the modern student. Documents are cited, and dates given, from the public records; and, to understand their bearing, it is necessary to understand the forms in which legal documents were drawn up, and the principles of the Athenian calendar. Information on all these points, besides the critical and grammatical annotations, it is the duty of the editor to supply. He must furnish a careful commentary upon the laws and constitution, the judicial system especially, and the history, of Athens during the political career of Demosthenes.
These conditions have been ably fulfilled by the present editor. The text he has presented is a great improvement upon that of Mr. Negris. It is fairly printed, and on good paper; the only fault to be found with this part of the work is a number of typographical errors in that portion of the text which accidentally was deprived of the benefit of the editor's revision. A well written preface explains the editor's plan, and states the sources from which he has drawn his chief materials. This is followed by a copious analysis, embracing a general sketch of the plan of the oration, and then a careful enumeration of the topics, paragraph by paragraph, as they are successively handled by the orator. This analysis is carefully and accurately executed, and will be of material advantage to the student, for understanding the orator's arrangement. The text is followed by a body of notes, containing ample explanations of legal terms and technical formulas, historical facts comprehended in the political life of the orator, and careful analyses of the difficult passages. The best authorities have been freely consulted, and the infor
mation they contain judiciously combined. Hermann's excellent Manual of Political Antiquities, and Thirlwall's learned and impartial History of Greece, have been constantly used. We approve the plan of this edition, and think the execution of it faithful and able. The work is a valuable addition to the series of classical books published in the United States. We do not always agree with the editor's explanations, because, probably, there are many things in the oration on which no two scholars will think perfectly alike; but in all cases, he makes us feel, that he has brought a strong mind, an acute analysis, and various knowledge to bear upon the difficult questions he discusses. The appearance of this book is another gratifying proof of the increasing attention paid to classical studies in the United States.
3. Proceedings and Debates in the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, during the Four Days previous to the Election of a Speaker, in January, 1843; compiled from the several Reports of the same, revised, corrected, and enlarged, and preceded by an Introduction, by LUTHER S. CUSHING, Clerk of the House of Representatives. Boston: Dutton and Wentworth. 8vo. pp. 84.
THIS valuable pamphlet relates to an unprecedented and curious passage of parliamentary history. On the 4th day of January, 1843, the House of Representatives of Massachusetts came together, consisting of three hundred and fifty members, or thereabouts. No Governor had been chosen by the people, and only twenty-four members of a Senate which constitutionally must consist of forty. The House was, in due time, to go into convention with the members already elected to the Senate, and by joint ballot to fill the vacancies in that body, thereby determining its political character. This done, the House was to select two out of four names of candidates having the highest number of votes for Governor, and send them up to the Senate for its determination between the two.
All this, however, was to wait for the organization of the House by the election of a Speaker, which, accordingly, became a matter of the strongest interest, both as affording a test of the strength of parties, and as giving to the successful side an advantage in respect to further proceedings. The oldest member on the Boston seat having, agreeably to usage, called the Representatives elect to order, and the Governor having come in with
the Council and qualified them by administering the oaths, the House proceeded to the choice of a Clerk, and, by 176 ballots against 173, elected Mr. Cushing, who had served in that office with universal approbation for several years. What would the 173 members of that minority have had? What satisfactory or peaceable result could they have promised themselves from ele. vating to the place of temporary presiding officer over an assembly, which, in its transition state, had no Rules and Orders for its government, a person utterly incompetent, in point of experi ence, for such a formidable responsibility, to the exclusion of one of the very few men who with any reason could have been relied upon as being equal to the occasion ?
On the first balloting for Speaker, 173 votes were cast for the candidate of each of the two great parties, and 3 for a candidate of the third (or Liberty) party. No choice being effect. ed, a second balloting was ordered, which was attended with no better success; 175 votes being given to one candidate, 174 to another, and 2 to the third. On the third balloting, 350 votes were equally divided between the two leading names, and a fourth trial was ordered.
It was understood, that an individual had been voting, who had taken his place without being provided with the prima facie evidence of election, namely, a certificate from the magistrates of his town. If his vote were disallowed, a Speaker had been chosen at the last trial. Accordingly, an order was now moved, "That Thomas Nash, junior, claiming a seat in this House as a representative from the town of Whately, be requested to state whether he voted at the election of Speaker at the last ballot." But Thomas Nash, junior, was disposed to state no such thing, nor his party to allow him to do so.
Accordingly, the motion was contested with a skilful and vehement display of parliamentary tactics on both sides. On the one part, it was urged, that the motion was out of order, unless the House should first reconsider its vote to proceed forthwith to another balloting; on the other, it was argued, that the question was one of privilege, which must of course take precedence of all other business. A motion "to lay the whole subject on the table," being debatable, like any other, in the present posture of the House, led to a discursive debate on the merits of the case, which occupied the rest of the day, and the House adjourned at half past five o'clock, without taking the question. In the course of the discussion, was produced a copy of the record of the town meeting at Whately, under which, in default of better evidence, the seat was claimed. From this record it appeared, that the present claimant had received 118 votes, another person