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CAIUS MARIUS TO THE ROMANS.
But, besides the disadvantages which are common to me with all others in eminent stations, my case is, in this respect, peculiarly hard ; that, whereas a commander of patrician rank, if he is guilty of a neglect or breach of duty, has his great connexions, the antiquity of his family, the important services of his ancestors, and the multitudes he has, by, power, engaged in his interest, to screen him from condign punishment, my whole safety depends upon myself; which renders it the more indispensably necessary for me to take care that my conduct be clear and unexceptionable. Besides, I am well aware, my countrymen, that the eye of the public is upon me ; and that, though the impartial, who prefer the real advantage of the commonwealth to all other considerations, favour my pretensions, the patricians want nothing so much as an occasion against me. It is, therefore, my fixed resolution to use my best endeavours that you be not disappointed in me, and that their indirect designs against me may be defeated.
I have, from my youth, been familiar with toils and with dangers. I was faithful to your interest, my countrymen, when I served you for no reward but that of honour. It is not my design to betray you, now that you have conferred upon me a place of profit. You have committed to my conduct the war against Jugurtha. The patricians are offended at this. But where would be the wisdom of giving such a command to one of their honourable body ?a person of illustrious birth, of an ancient family, of innumerable statues, but of no experience! What service would his long line of dead ancestors, or his multitudes of motionless statues, do his country in the day of battle? What would such a general do, but, in his trepidation and inexperience, have recourse to some inferior commander for direction in difficulties to which he was not himself equal ? Thus your patrician general would, in fact, have a general over him ; so that the acting commander would still be a plebeian. So true is this, my countrymen, that I have, myself, known those who have been chosen consuls begin then to read the history of their own country, of which, till that time, they were totally ignorant-that is, they first obtained the employment, and then bethought themselves of the qualifications necessary for the discharge of it.
CAIUS MARIUS TO THE ROMANS. I submit to your judgment, Romans, on which side the advantage lies, when a comparison is made between patrician haughtiness and plebeian experience. The very actions, which they have only read, I have partly seen, and partly myself achieved. What they know by reading I know by action. They 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 inquired 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 honours 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 lay claim to 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 show 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 one's own good behaviour ? What if I can show no statues of my family? I can show the standards, the armour, and the trappings, which I have myself taken from the vanquished. I can show 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 action where those effeminate patricians, who endeavour by indirect means to depreciate me in your esteem, have never dared to show their faces.
The shades of night were falling fast,
THE CROOKED STICK.
"O stay,” the maiden said, “and rest
THE CROOKED STICK.
JULIA was lovely and winning;
And Julia had lovers in plenty,
THE CROOKED STICK.
And though she liked Hal, thought it better to wait,
Hal, discarded by Venus, went over to Mars,
Cured the wound Julia made,
And the soldier's bold blade
For the sake of old times, Harry called on the lady,
Harry went on this mission, to rifle the riches