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The day is drawing in,—and drawing out
Of milkwoman, and droughty cat foretell;—
The coach is waiting,-in steps Mrs. Jones,
Who'd rather stop at home, he said, much rather-
The little boys, where there are none to mar their
Replete with flattery, smooth-tongued deceit,
The play is done, the opera, the farce,
And family men have gone to sup at home;
Heedless of health, that never mute De Lolme,*
With noise and uproar; there a watch-house charge,Here Vice and easy Virtue stand confest,
And Poverty glides by, while Theft's at large;
De Lolme on the Constitution.
CHATEAUBRIANT'S SKETCH OF ROMAN HISTORY, FROM
[We present our readers with a curious specimen of the affectation of popular opinions, by the help of which one division of the coté droit, in the French Chamber, is trying to oust the other. The liberal sentiments contained in the following piece of admirable declamation are valuable, not as coming from M. de Chateaubriant, from whom any other would come with just the same force and consistency, but as one of the straws which show how the wind sits-one of the many indications, that the tools and champions of despotism are compelled to do unwilling homage to the increasing power of public opinion.]
Sitting of the 9th of February.
THE first part of this sitting was devoted to the reception of the Duke de Montmorency. His speech on this occasion, and the reply of M. Daru, director of the Académie, were warmly applauded.
M. le Vicomte de Chateaubriant read the first part of the Introduction to the History of France, upon which he has been so long engaged. The following sketch of Roman History from Julias Cæsar to Augustulus, was particularly admired:
"Republican Rome had long repudiated liberty to become the concubine of tyrants. Her degradation was almost forgotten in the grandeur of her first choice. History presents us with nothing so complete, so accomplished, as the character of Cæsar. He united the three-fold genius of the statesman, the historian, and the warrior. Unhappily, Cæsar partook of the corruption of his times. Had he been born in the age of pure morality he would have been the rival of Cincinnatus and Fabricius, for nature had endowed him with every kind of strength; but when he appeared in Rome, virtue had fled— there was nothing left but glory-he had no alternative-no better career was open to him.
"Augustus, the heir of Cæsar, was not one of that highest order of men who occasion revolutions in the affairs of nations; he was of that secondary class who profit by them, and who build the superstructure upon foundations dug and laid by a stronger hand. The terror which Augustus inspired in the beginning of his reign, was advantageous to him in the sequel; the trembling factions were hushed, and a long peace reconciled them to their chains. The crafty Emperor affected republican forms; he consulted Agrippa, Mæcenas, and perhaps Virgil, on the re-establishment of liberty, at the very time that he instituted the Prætorian guards; he employed the muse to silence, or to disarm history, and the world has looked with indulgence on the vices of the friend of Horace.
"Tiberius, the successor to Augustus, did not, like him, give himself the trouble to deceive or seduce the Roman people; he oppressed them openly:-he did not try to conceal their chains; he forced them to drink the very dregs of slavery. In his person began that line of monsters, born of the corruption of Rome. He invented the crime of high treason, which became a source of revenue, and gave birth to the
race of informers, a new order in the magistracy, which Domitian declared inviolable.
"Tiberius sacrificed the remaining rights of the people to the Senators, and the persons of the Senators to the people; because the people, poor and ignorant, had no other strength but in their common rights, while the Senators, rich and enlightened, derived all their power from their personal worth. The tyranny of Tiberius was characterised by the vices of little souls; hatred in return for the services he received, and jealousy of every kind of merit. Talent is always formidable to despots. When they are weak, they dread it as a rival in power, when strong, as a declaration of liberty.
"His private morals were worthy of his political crimes, but they were passed over in silence, for he called his atrocity in support of his debauchery, and sheltered himself under the terror he inspired.
"At this period the model of all his virtues fulfilled his mission upon earth. He brought back among men, religion, morality, and liberty, just as they appeared to be expiring for ever. Two worlds now presented themselves before the eyes of men:-Jesus Christ on the crossTiberius at Capreæ.
"After Tiberius-Caligula and Claudius-a madman and an idiotwere raised to the command of the empire, which then went on of itself, as it were, moved by those springs of baseness and of tyranny which Tiberius had put in action. We must do justice to Claudius. The crown was placed upon his head in his own despite. A soldier discovered him concealed behind a door, during the tumult which succeeded the assassination of Caius, and saluted him Emperor. The terrified Claudius begged only for life, he received not only life, but empire, and he wept at the gift.
"In like manner as all conquerors are Alexanders, all tyrants are Neros. But it is not easy to understand why this prince deserves so remarkable a distinction; for he was neither more cruel than Tiberius, nor more frantic than Caligula, nor more debauched than Heliogabalus; probably it is because he killed his mother, and because he was the first persecutor of the Christians.
"The Senators who condemned Nero to death, proved to him "that an artist cannot live every where," as he was used to say when he sang to his lute. But these slaves, who sat in judgment on their fallen master, did not dare to attack him in his power. They let the tyrant live; they put to death only the historian.
"The death of Nero caused a revolution in the empire. The election of the Emperors passed into the hands of the legions, and the constitution of the state became purely military. The barbarians, who were gradually admitted into the army, grew familiar with the creation of Emperors; and when they were tired of giving away the world, they kept it for themselves. Galba, who for a moment filled the place of Nero, was the last of an ancient race; after him arose a new order of Princes, chosen from the lowest ranks; they had ruder manners and more capacity for governing. When nations are in their decay, it is in the lower classes alone that any strength or energy is to be found, as iron must be sought in the bowels of the earth. Galba, Otho, and Vitellius soon passed away. We might rather say that they were invested with the purple, than that they really possessed the Imperial power.
"Surrounded by rebels, Galba, at the age of seventy-three, stretched out his neck to his murderers, and exclaimed: Strike, if my death can benefit the Roman people.' His head fell; it was bald; a soldier was obliged to wrap it in a cloth to carry it.* This bald head might have counselled Galba better. Was it worth while to place a crown upon a head which time had stripped of all the marks of youth and vigour?
"Otho wished for the empire; but he wished for it without delay; he wished for it not as a means of exercising power, but of procuring pleasure. Too voluptuous to earn it by labour, too feeble to know how to live, he had only strength enough to die. When he had determined to stab himself, he lay down, slept soundly, and, on waking, he gave himself the mortal blow and quietly departed, without reading Plato on the Immortality of the Soul, and without tearing his own vitals. But when Cato expired, liberty died also. Otho had nothing to leave but power.
"Vitellius sat down to the empire as to a banquet. His armed guests forced him to finish the feast at Gemonia. His death suspended the course of these ignominious reverses. Twenty-eight years of happiness, interrupted only by the fifteen during which Domitian reigned, began from the elevation of Vespasian to the empire. It has been said that this was the period during which mankind enjoyed the greatest felicity; this is true, if the dignity and the independence of nations are to go for nothing.
"Every imaginable kind of merit appeared at the head of the empire. Those who possessed these qualities were free to undertake any thing they pleased; they were shackled by no restraints; they inherited Nero's absolute power; they could employ for good, the arbitrary authority which had hitherto been used only as an instrument of evil. What, however, did this despotism of virtue produce? Did it reform manners, did it re-establish liberty, did it preserve the empire from its approaching fall? No; the human race was neither altered nor improved. Firmness reigned with Vespasian; mildness with Titus; generosity with Nerva; grandeur with Trajan; the arts with Adrian; the piety of polytheism with Antonine; and lastly, with Marcus Aurelius, philosophy ascended the throne-yet the fulfilment of this dream of sages, was productive of no solid results to the world. No ameliorations are durable, none, indeed, are possible, when any act of government proceeds from the will of individuals, and not from laws and institutions: and the Pagan religion, no longer supported or corrected by austerity of manners, transformed men into old children, destitute alike of reason and of innocence.
"There were at this period some Christians in the empire; they were obscure, and were persecuted by Marcus Aurelius; yet, with their despised religion, they accomplished what philosophy upon the throne could not achieve. They instituted laws, corrected manners, and founded a society which exists to this day.
"With Marcus Aurelius terminated the era of Roman happiness under absolute power. From the reign of Commodus we may date those fearful times for which there was no remedy but the dismemberment of the empire and the remodelling of society. The virtues of
* He might have taken it up by the ear-or was the nose too short ?-French Paper.
Marcus Aurelius, useless to the public, were unavailing also in privatethey were powerless even on his own hearth. Commodus was an execrable sovereign; yet the Romans plunged anew into abject servility, with such ardour, that they seemed like men who had just regained their liberty; they were delivered only from the virtues of their late rulers.
"Two effects of absolute power on the human heart are here to be remarked. It never entered the minds of the great and virtuous princes who governed the empire, to doubt the legality of their power, or to restore to the people their usurped rights; the same absolute power which thus obscured the reason of the good, destroyed that of the bad. Nero, Caligula, Domitian, and Commodus, were frequently perfect maniacs. Heaven, to render the spectacle of their crimes less terrific to mortals, gave them madness as a sort of apology. Commodus, meeting a man of extraordinary corpulence, cut him in two to show his own strength, and to enjoy the pleasure of the butchery. He called himself Hercules-he made Rome change her name to assume his, and shameful medals have perpetuated the remembrance of his caprice. Commodus perished by the indiscretion of a child who was one of the instruments of his debaucheries, by poison administered by one of his concubines, and by the hand of an athlete, who finished, by strangling, the work begun by poison.
"Pertinax succeeded to Commodus. As soon as his ambition was satisfied, he showed himself worthy of the dignity to which he had attained. There is one sort of ambition which springs from the consciousness of virtues which want a field for their display or for their exercise; there is another sort which arises from envy of the virtues we cannot reach. Pertinax, an austere soldier, was massacred by the Prætorian guards. The empire was put up to auction, and two bidders contended for the rags of the imperial garment bequeathed by Tiberius. Didius Julinus won it from his competitor; he out bid-him by five thousand sestertia. The senate delivered up eighty millions of men, like a flock of sheep, to Didius. He could not ratify his bargain, and paid his debt with his life.
"Severus succeeded to Didius. Born at Leptis, on the coast of Africa, the native tongue of the master of the Romans was the language of Hannibal. He had punic cruelty and punic faith; yet he was not wanting in a certain kind of grandeur. When he was taken ill at York, being conscious that he was dying, he said: "I was every thing-now nothing remains to me." The officer of the guard having approached his bed-side, he gave him, as the watch-word of the day- Let us work,"-and sank into eternal repose.
"Caracalla, the son and successor of Severus, reigned for a while with Geta, his brother, whom he soon caused to be murdered in the arms of his mother. He went into Asia, and visited the ruins of Troy. To honour and imitate Achilles, Caracalla wished to show his grief at the death of a friend; he therefore ordered Festus, a freed slave whom he tenderly loved, to be poisoned, and then raised a funeral pile to him.
"As Achilles, the most beautiful of the Greeks, cut off his fine hair upon the bier of Patroclus, Caracalla, ugly and deformed, tore off the few locks which debauchery had left him, exciting the laughter of