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to facts a character, which they did not possess at the time they took place; and to declare that in the trial of causes depending on such facts, they shall be considered and allowed to operate in the decision of such causes, according to their new character. It professes to settle rights and titles depending on laws, as they existed for a long series of years before the act was passed, by new principles, which for the first time are introduced by its provisions. It professes to change the nature of a disseisin, and thereby subject the true owner of lands to the loss of them, by converting into a dis. seisin, by mere legislation, those acts which, at the time the law was passed, did not amount to a disseisin. It professes to punish the rightful owner of lands, by barring him of his right to recover the possession of them, when, by the existing laws, he was not barred, nor liable to the imputation of any laches, for not sooner ejecting the wrongful possessor.'

After illustrating his subject by a few examples, the Chief Justice concludes in the following independent strain.

* It is always an unpleasant task for a judicial tribunal, to pronounce an act of the legislature in part or in whule unconstitutional. We agree with the Supreme Court of the United States, in the case of Fletcher vs Peck, that “the question whether a law be void for its repugnance to the constitution, is, at all times, a question of much delicacy, which ought seldom, if ever, to be decided in the affirmative in a doubtful case. But the Court, when impelled by duty to render such a judgment, would be unworthy of its station could it be unmindful of the obligation which that station imposes.” We cannot presume that the legislature, which enacted the law, considered the section in question, as violating any constitutional principle, or in any manner transcending their powers. Be that as it may, the oath of office, under which we conscientiously endeavor to perform our duties, imposes upon us as solemn an obligation to declare an act of our legislature unconstitutional, when, upon mature deliberation, we believe it to be so, as it does to give prompt and full effect to all constitutional laws, in the administration of justice.'

Art. IV.-Demosthenis Opera, ad Optimorum Librorum

Fidem accurate Edita. Lipsæ. Excudit Car. Tauchnitz.

By the great majority of the literary world, from his own time to the present, Demosthenes has been considered as unsurpassed, if not unequalled in eloquence. While, how

ever, there has been so little difference of opinion respecting the degree of his merit, the peculiar nature of it seems to be, at least in this country, very imperfectly understood. Our knowledge of the character of his oratory rests principally on secondary evidence. With Cicero, American students are, comparatively, well acquainted. Their acquaintance with him in early youth, though short and compulsory, is sufficient to give them some general impressions respecting his distinguishing characteristics, and what is of more consequence, to facilitate a more thorough and general perusal of his works in maturer years. Demosthenes is removed one step farther from our reach, by the language in which he writes; and his concise and idiomatic phraseology is so embarrassing to an inexperienced student, as to leave himn little leisure to observe and relish the beauties of his author, till after repeated perusals. Few among us have the disposition, or the leisure, to read Demosthenes in the original. He has indeed been ably translated by Leland, but we may observe of translations of ancient authors, what bas been remarked of engravings of fine buildings, that they seldom become objects of interest, till after the originals are generally known and studied. We judge of Demosthenes, therefore, from certain vague reniarks respecting the fire, the boldness, and the magnificence of his speeches, and the errors into which such language is apt to lead us, are strengthened by an impression, which generally prevails respecting the oratory of the ancients. It is often said that modern orators speak to the reason, ancient orators spoke to the passions, a remark which, if founded in truth, is susceptible of great qualification. From the rank which Demosthenes held in the opinion of all ancient critics, and more particularly in that of his great competitor Cicero, we naturally expect to find what we consider to be the peculiar features of Grecian and Roman eloquence, displayed in the greatest force and abundance in his works. We look for extravagant declamation, for perpetual appeals to the feelings, for a crowd of similes and metaphors; in short, for a style bearing a greater resemblance to the Irish, than to any other modern oratory, and far too bold to be adopted with propriety in a modern assembly.

To those who are conversant with the writings of this orator, we need not say that the opinions, which we have just noticed, are the very reverse of the truth; to those who are not, we shall offer a few general remarks on his real merit. The most prominent feature in his orations, as has been justly remarked, is argument. He never declaims, till he bas first reasoned; he seems to disdain to inflame our passions, till he has overpowered our understanding. Few authors can bear a comparison with him in the originality and ingenuity of bis arguinents, in their close connexion with the point proposed and with each other; in the succinctness, perspicuity, and energy with which they are stated; in the sagacity and generalship, if the term may be allowed, with which he directs his force to those points where his adversary is most vulnerable, and himself most powerful ; in all those qualities, in short, which constitute a powerful and accomplished logician. But though an acute and close, he is by no means a dry and cold reasoner; he bears no resemblance to those, who state their sentiments with the calmness, as well as the precision of mathematical demonstration. His argument seems to flow from his heart, as well as his intellect, and is equally impassioned with the declamation of other orators. His declamation, on the other hand, bas much of the closeness and terseness, which we find displayed in the ablest arguments. We perceive in it nothing vague or extravagant, nothing florid or redundant, nothing strained or ostentatious; it always seems to enforce and illustrate, as well as to ornament, the arguments to which it refers, and appears to be introduced not only naturally but necessarily. It is scarcely possible, however, to divide the speeches of Demosthenes, like those of most other orators, into argumentative and declamatory passages. Logic and rhetoric are blended together, from the beginning to the end ; the speaker, while always clear and profound, is always rapid and impassioned. The vivid feeling, displayed at intervals by other orators, bursts forth in Demosthenes with every sentence. We are forcibly rerninded of the description of lightning in

Homer ;

• By turns one flash succeeds, as one expires,

And Heaven flames thick with momentary fires.' Were we called upon to state, what more than anything else distinguished Demosthenes from all other orators, we should answer, his constant and complete forgetfulness of himself in his subject. His object, in bis most celebrated

orations, (with the exception of that on the Crown,) was to thwart and overthrow the ambitious projects of Philip of Macedon, to rouse his countrymen to a course of conduct worthy of themselves and their illustrious ancestry. That Philip was aiming at the sovereignty of Greece, that he feared and hated the Athenians, as the irreconcilable opponents to his schemes of aggrandisement, that he was hostile to the city of Athens, to everything which it contained, to the very ground on which it stood, but to nothing so much as its free government,' these were the ideas, which seemed to penetrate and absorb the very soul of Demosthenes, and which he put forth all his strength in impressing on the minds of his hearers. His exordium, though highly finished, is generally brief; he throws himself into the midst of his subject, and seems to have neither time nor thought for anything besides. To gain the assent, and not the applause of the audience, is his single object; his aim seems to be to direct the councils of Athens, utterly regardless of the credit which success may reflect on himself, and he appears to think as little of the skill which he shall display as an orator, as he, who is fighting for bis life, thinks of the grace which he shall exhibit in the management of his weapons.

When we consider, that it is the well known property of this enthusiastic sincerity to communicate itself from the speaker to his audience, that connected even with moderate abilities it seldom fails to command a respectful attention, that it is of itself often sufficient to give a temporary interest to the most airy extravagance, it requires little reflection to perceive what effects it must produce, when united with the talents of Demosthenes. By no author is he excelled in the power of engaging and riveting our attention. We feel ourselves in the grasp of a giant, and are hurried along in the course of his argument with unceasing and breathless interest. While, however, we dwell thus forcibly on the entire devotion of Demosthenes to bis great purpose, we would not be understood to imply, that his orations are devoid of all remarks of general application. He looks intensely on his subject, but it is with the eye of a consummate statesman; his remarks centre in a single point, but they are drawn from a wide circumference. Almost every one of his speeches abounds in maxims of the most profound kind, and the most universal interest, not formally ushered forth in the garb of philosophy, but, like everything which he utters, springing naturally from his subject, and bearing strongly upon it. That the mind soon loses its dignity is given up to low and grovelling pursuits; that it is the leading duty of a true patriot never to fear responsibility ; that no community can ever be great, if it suffer its conduct to be entirely determined by external circumstances; that it is for him who has received benefits to cherish them in his memory, while the giver should be the first to forget them; these, and numerous other political and moral truths of equal moment, are all enforced with the greatest clearness and vigor by Demosthenes. We consider bim, in short, as the most striking illustration of the rule subsequently laid down by Horace, in the trite passage, ‘ars est celare artem. His eloquence always strikes us, as the true eloquence of nature, the language of a strong inind under high excitement.

But it is not our intention to attempt a complete, still less a technical description of his various merits, and we shall merely present our readers with a few specimens of his orations, as they appear in an English dress, intermingled with such remarks as naturally suggest themselves. from Leland's translation. It is, however, necessary, to make one or two previous observations, lest our readers should think that our assertions are but feebly warranted by our extracts. The first circumstance to be noticed, is the well known fact, that Demosthenes is one of the last authors, to whom justice can be done by quotations. His orations are the very reverse of those works, which are marked by striking inequalities and forcible contrasts, by brilliant passages which can be easily distinguished, and conveniently detached from everything around them, by occasional beauties which shine out from what is dull or faulty. On the contrary, he everywhere seems animated with a similar, not to say an equal fervor ; even in bis highest flights he rises gradually, and every part of his speeches is so connected with what precedes and follows, that it cannot be extracted without material injury. The next circumstance, to which we shall advert, is the manifest disadvantage of quoting from a translation. The difficulty of transfusing the spirit of an ancient author into our language is notorious. With Demosthenes this difficulty is

We quote

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