Webster, Exordium

Daniel Webster, Exordium: On the Murder of Captain Joseph White

  • Assignment 3: Compose the first half in Ciceronian Latin for Friday, Oct. 15
  • Assignment 4: Compost the entire passage in Ciceronian Latin for Friday, Oct. 22
  • Composition 2: Daniel Webster for the Prosecution in the Murder of Captain Joseph White. (A few notes follow the passage.)

I am little accustomed, Gentlemen, to the part which I am now attempting (1) to perform. Hardly more (2) than once or twice has it happened to me to be concerned on the side of the government (3) in any criminal prosecution whatever; and never, until the present occasion, in any case affecting life. But I very much regret (4) that it should have been thought necessary to suggest to you that I am brought here to "hurry you against the law and beyond the evidence." I hope I have too much regard (5) for justice, and too much respect for my own character, to attempt either; and were I to make such an atttempt, I am sure that in this court nothing can be carried against the law, and that gentlemen, intelligent and just as you are, (6) are not, by any power, to be hurried beyond the evidence. Though I could well have wished to shun this occasion, I have not felt at liberty to withhold my professional assistance,(7) when it is supposed (8) that I may be in some degree useful in investigating and discovering the truth respecting this most extraordinary murder.

It has seemed to be a duty incumbent on me, as on every other citizen, to do my best and utmost to bring to light the perpetrators of this crime. Against the prisoner at the bar, as an individual, I canot have the slightest prejudice. I would not do him the smallest injury or injustice. But I do not affect to be indifferent to the discovery and punishment of this deep guilt. I cheerfully share in the opprobrium, how great soever it may be, which is cast on those who feel and manifest an anxious concern that all who had a part in planing, or a hand in executing, this deed of midnight assassination, may be brought to answer for their enormous crime at the bar of public justice.

  1. How do you translate "attempting"? You don't.
  2. Do you need a phrase like "hardly more than"? What is DW really saying?
  3. No such thing in Rome, so find the rough equivalent.
  4. Check the circumstances under which Cicero uses the word you choose to translate "regret." You will probably want to recast the thought.
  5. What does he mean, he "hopes"? If he doesn't know, who does! How does a Cicero express his confidence in both his and his audience's regard for justice?
  6. There is a very common method for inserting such paraenisis: the vocative.
  7. Cicero often talks about professional duty and activity. Find some context that gives you the words and ideas he uses.
  8. Usually qualifiers like this are just "fluff"; ask what DW really means and then try to translate that.
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