« 上一頁繼續 »
steps and phenomena of the revolution, which, ostentatiously abjuring the name of king, brought about a return to monarchy.
Two principles, in active antagonism to each other, had prevailed from the very dawn of the commonwealth. The one, common to Rome and to the Greek republics, tended to isolate the State from its neighbours, and the ruling from the subject class of citizens: the other, peculiar to the Roman people, impelled them, from time to time, to extend the privileges of the city to strangers, and finally to include in a strong, but equal embrace, the various races they had subdued. The principle of isolation, in the course of seven centuries, assumed various forms: that of expansion was forced upon the State by its constant wars and successive conquests. On the expulsion of the Etruscan dynasty of the Tarquins — for nothing but the urgency of a theory could have made Niebuhr regard this dynasty as Latin - the patrician oligarchy pushed the system of exclusion to its extreme consequences. They denied to the men who won their battles a seat in their councils. They treated the plebeian leaders, Priscan or Alban nobles by birth or heritage, with the same jealous arrogance which the Venetian oligarchy displayed towards all citizens not enrolled in the Golden Book; and they regarded the plebeian body as an assemblage of serfs, whose murmurs were mutiny, and whose petitions were to be answered by the scourge and the gaol. These were the palmy days of isolation. The secession of the Commons, and its immediate consequence the appointment of the Tribunes, were the first act of expansion. From this source gradually flowed all those great and comprehensive measures which, under the several titles of the Publilian, Terentian, Licinian, and Horatian laws, broke down the barriers of caste and combined the Oscan and Sabellian aristocracy, and the Latin commonalty into the Roman nation. Nor were the rights of citizenship alone extended; the longevity of the State was also secured. In the course of seven centuries the Italians became one nation. In a few generations more the Roman standards were planted at York, Buda, and Alexandria. The extrenies of barbarism and civilisation were led to converge. The hunter of Northern Europe, and the dusky borderers of the Nile, and the Euphrates, met on common ground in the Roman forum; and the laws and language of the capital were uniformly obeyed or partially adopted by the most opposite varieties of mankind. But this second stage in the progress of expansion demands a few words for itself.
• What was the cause,' says Tacitus, of the fall of the Lace* dæmonians and Athenians, but that, powerful as they were in
• arms, they spurned their subjects as aliens?' The policy of Rome towards its subjects, if not always seasonable and spontaneous, was more prudent. At the close of the great Latin war in the fifth century of the city it incorporated the communities of Latium: it invented degrees of the franchise by which its dependents were gradually trained to the knowledge and enjoyment of civil rights. Successful generals, at a later period, were allowed the privilege of rewarding their adherents with this precious boon. Fidelity to the State constituted a claim to its immunities which were the more graciously conceded, as the benefits of incorporation were more sensibly perceived. What was refused to armed claimants was granted to vanquished suppliants, and at the close of the social war the whole of Italy had received the full freedom of Rome. Even Sulla forwarded the work of amalgamation. His opponents, the Marians, had thrown open the thirty-five tribes : and to counterpoise the new voters from Samnium and Etruria, the champion of the oligarchy enrolled a multitude of soldiers and even slaves on the civic registers. The course of expansion had converted the chief town of a district into the capital of the Italian peninsula ; and the lists of the census were swelled with thousands of citizens whose interests became every year more nearly identified with the welfare of the republic.
The change, however, though beneficial to the empire, was immediately detrimental to Rome itself. "The introduction of • the Italian element into the constitution,' says Mr. Merivale, “ had not, as was apprehended, the effect of Italianising Rome. • Nevertheless, from this time the denationalisation of Rome be* gan, though we must look to another quarter for its origin. In spite of the successive enlargements which the constitution had received, it always remained essentially municipal: and the basis of a municipium was too narrow for a colossal and growing empire. The very forms of public business which had sufficed while the domain of Rome was bounded by the Anio and the Liris, were at once cumbersome and feeble in a State which extended from the Atlantic to Mount Taurus. The solemn sanctions of a religion which inspired a few thousand citizens with awe and pride, were subjects of ridicule rather than of reverence to millions of provincials of dissimilar creeds. A broader and more vital principle of unity was demanded than could be found in either the pontifical books or the rules of the ten tables. Nor were the nobler portions of the old constitution alone at variance with the exigencies of the age. The population of Rome, from various causes, was irretrievably debased; and its debasement had been accelerated by the sudden infusion of fresh blood into the tribes,
tensiveld and the new
without the concurrent application of such legal or moral checks as might have purified, while they multiplied, the mass of free citizens. Isolation had been broken down : amalgamation had been extensively applied: but a further principle of adjustment between the old and the new was still wanting. We borrow from Mr. Merivale a description of the hybrid populace, which, after the Social War, flocked to the city and impeded by their venality and turbulence the business of the forum.
The city became from henceforth the common resort of all that was neediest and vilest in the suburban population. There grew up a multitude of reckless adventurers, eager to sell themselves to the
of the hybrid mopeded by their
violence, obstructing the peaceful march of public affairs, rendering law impotent and justice impracticable. Conscious of their strength and services, these hordes of hungry barbarians claimed and obtained subsistence from the State. They quartered themselves on the government, which was compelled to feed them by a tax on the industry of the provinces. The misfortune or error of the statesmen of the day' - Mr. Merivale might have said of the statesmen of antiquity universally — lay in their not discovering some system by which the votes of the distant municipals might be brought to bear against the mob of the forum. The idea of representative government was altogether foreign to the mind and habits of the age ; but under Augustus the elections were conducted by taking the votes severally in the different towns. We may imagine that the introduction of this plan by a strong government like that of Sulla might have infused a new element of stability into the tottering machine of the republican constitution.'
We have seen that neither the restrictive nor the expansive principles singly possessed vigour enough to sustain or regenerate the commonwealth. They had shifted, indeed, their ground of opposition, until the original contest between prerogative and progress assumed the baser form of a struggle between rich and poor. In every quarter of the empire, and especially in the capital itself, there was a blind or a conscious instinct for unity at work, which betrayed itself by an increasing disposition in the contending factions to set up some favourite leader, either as the champion of the senate or the populace. Mr. Merivale's sketches of the chiefs of the oligarchy or the mob are highly graphic; but before we introduce them to the reader, we must glance at the upper classes of Rome, who, at this juncture, were the claimants of extensive and anomalous, if not absolute, powers.
The effects of habitual warfare upon the Roman character appear to us to be hardly brought sufficiently forward. In the midst of recurring triumphs and permanent monuments of
VOL. XCII, NO. CLXXXV.
victors, sa had demoralized the citizens and unfitted the Italian population generally for their new civil rights. Temperate or fortunate indeed is the nation, upon which protracted wars entail DO Forse evils than waste of life and destruction of property. The last of appropriation, tke other stimulants, blants or enervates the reason as well as the conscience. The citizen imtibes the feelings of the soldier; he gross familiar with rate vicissitudes of fortune, and is restless under the control of bs and in the sobriety of peace. While Itals alone was the battle-field, the campaigns of Rome were really defensive Environed by the chiralmus Sabellian tribes and the opulent communities of Etruria, Rome, unaggressive and peaceful, must have yielded to the arms or gold of its more powerful neighbours. But the contests with Carthage, Macedonia, and Syria, opening almost boundless prospects of territorial agyrandisement, and pouring into a poor agricultural community the ancestral wealth and the annual revenues of three continents, altered the character of its wars, its schliers, and its citizens. The remoteness of the scene of action led to protracted and almoet independent military commands. This was the danger apprehended by Fabius and the elder Cato when they opposed the appoin:ment of Africanus: this was the danger realised in the enormous powers granted to Sulla and Pompeias for their Eastern wars. The general who had governed for Fears, with almost irresponsible sway, provinces larger than Italy itself, and had accumulated or disbursed sums of money unknown to his Sabine or Latin ancestors, returned to a private station, disqualified for its duties and discontented with its obecurity. His officers and soldiers had been at least equally incapacitated by the licence and excitements of the camp for the grave observances of the forum; and since the legionaries were electors, and in many cases candidates also, the passions of the comitia by degrees assumed a more military tone. Large masses of the Roman people were consequently led to identify their personal interests with those of a fortunate commander; and the civil revolutions of a century were mostly rehearsals of Cesar's final and successful enterprise. Nor did those who renaised at home, and in whom the tranquil occupations of husbandry right bare preserved the virtues of former ages, escape from the evils of these wasting and demoralising wars. Sot all Sapoleon's energy, nor his wonderful fertility in resources, oonld raise the agriculture of France from depression, as long as France continued in a normal state of warfare. Mr. Merivale has not adverted, in his sketch of the predisposing causes of the Roman revolution, to the effects of Hannibal's invasion. They were long anterior indeed to the era at which he begins,
but they were not inoperative upon it. The second Punic war, which desolated the peninsula generally, pressed most heavily on the smaller landowners and colonists of Rome, and first materially enfeebled and diminished the productive classes. The wealthy retaining, in their lowest ebb of fortune, a portion of their means, in a few years might recover their former opulence. But the possessor of a few acres, whose harvests were annually swept off by the Numidian foragers, whose homestead had been reduced to ashes, and whose boundaries had been trampled down'in a thousand skiệmishes, could not retrieve, when the storm had passed away, even his former humble independence. War had burdened him with debt, debt compelled him to sell his fields, and with his fields, as trade was interdicted to a free commoner, to forego his station in society. From a peasant he was degraded to a pauper, dependent for his daily bread on the State, and for his luxuries on the ostentation or ambition of the rich. Poverty and self-respect may co-exist; but not where poverty is debarred from honest labour. The wants of the day, when unrelieved by toil, stifle the sense of shame and dignity. Habitual privation enhances occasional excess; and he, who is the slave at once of necessity and indulgence, becomes the apt and willing tool of rival factions and of the leader who builds upon faction his own selfish and solitary grandeur. The large properties, which followed, ruined not only the agriculture of Italy, but its population and its spirit.
Such were some of the social characteristics of the Roman people at the epoch with which Mr. Merivale's work opens. From this dark background of poverty and idleness, of turbulence and crime, come out clearly the great actors on the scene, the authors, the spectators, or the victims of the most memorable revolution in the annals of mankind. We have traced the brief period of isolation and the process of expansion in the commonwealth. We have now to contemplate these principles, as they were embodied in the personal character or policy of the chiefs of the senate and the people, from Sulla to Cæsar.
We must first, however, remark upon the unusual insecurity of all extant records of these times. The reader who compares Lord Clarendon's history with the memoirs of Ludlow, Whitelocke, and May, will often be compelled to ask himself whether the Charles, Strafford, and Laud, the Pym, Hampden, and Hugh Peters of the noble historian are really the personages portrayed by his republican contemporaries. In the pageants of the Middle Ages certain grotesque figures were arrayed in vizors and garments of which the one half was purposely