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been of too slow a growth-too the regular stages of nature herself gradual, and too much according to in its developement, to have any
ration preceding. But the colonies provided outlets for these continual accessions of people, and absorbed them faster than they could arise. * And thus the great original sin of modern states, that heel of Achilles in which they are all vulnerable, and which (generally speaking) becomes more oppressive to the public prosperity as that prosperity happens to be greater (for in poor states, and under despotic governments, this evil does not exist), that flagrant infirmity of our own country, for wbich no statesman has devised any commensurate remedy, was to ancient Rome a perpetual fountain and well-head of public strength and enlarged resources. With us of modern times, when population greatly outruns the demand for labour, whether it be under the stimulus of upright government, and just laws, justly administered, in combination with the manufacturing system (as in England), or (as in Ireland) under the stimulus of idle habits, cheap subsistence, and a low standard of comfort-we think it much if we can keep down insurrection by the bayonet and the sabre. Lucro ponamus is our cry, if we can effect even thus much ; whereas Rome, in her simplest and pastoral days, converted this menacing danger and standing opprobrium of modern statesmanship to her own immense benefit. Not satisfied merely to have neutralized it, she drew from it the vital resources of her martial aggrandizement. For, Fifthly, these colonies were in two ways made the corner-stones of her martial policy : Ist, They were looked to as nurseries of their armies ; during one generation the original colonists, already trained to military babits, were themselves disposable for this purpose on any great emergency; these men transmitted heroic traditions to their posterity; and, at all events, a more robust population was always at band in agricultural colonies than could be had in the metropolis. Cato the elder, and all the early writers, notice the quality of such levies as being far superior to those drawn from a population of sedentary habits. 2dly, The Italian colonies, one and all, performed the functions which in our day are assigned to garrisoned towns and frontier fortresses. In the earliest times they discharged a still more critical service, by sometimes entirely displacing a hostile population, and more often by dividing it and breaking its unity. In cases of desperate resistance to the Roman arms, marked by frequent infraction of treaties, it was usual to remove the offending population to a safer situation, separated from Rome by the Tiber; sometimes entirely to disperse and scatter it. But, where these extremities were not called for by expediency or the Roman maxims of justice, it was judged sufficient to interpolate, as it were, the hostile people by colonizations from Rome, which were completely organizedt for mutual aid, having officers of all ranks dispersed amongst them, and for overawing the growth of insurrectionary movements amongst their neighbours. Acting on this system, the Roman colonies in some measure resembled the English Pale, as existing at one era in Ireland. This mode of service, it is true, became obsolete in process of time, concurrently with the dangers which it was shaped to meet; for the whole of Italy proper, together with that part of Italy called Cisalpine Gaul, was at length reduced to unity and obedience by the almighty Republic. But in forwarding that great end, and indispensable condition towards all foreign warfare, no one military engine in the whole armoury of Rome availed so inuch as her Italian colonies. The other use of these colonies, as frontier garrisons, or, at any rate, as interposing between a foreign enemy and the gates of Rome, they continued to perform long after their earlier uses had passed away; and Cicero himself notices their value in this view. “ Colonias,” says he [ Orat. in Rullum], "sic idoneis in locis contra suspicionem periculi collocârunt, ut esse non oppida Italiæ sed propugnacula imperii viderentur." Finally, the colonies were the best means of promoting tillage, and the culture of vineyards. And though this service, as regarded the Italian colonies, was greatly defeated in succeeding times by the ruinous largesses of corn [frumentationes], and other vices of the Roman policy after the vast revolution effected by universal luxury, it is not the less true that, left to themselves and their natural tendency, the Roman colonies would bave yielded this last benefit as certainly as any other. Large volumes exist,
* And in this way we must explain the fact-that, in the many successive numerations of the peo. ple continually noticed by Livy and others, we do not find that sort of multiplication which we might have looked for in a state so ably governed. The truth is, that the continual surpluses had been carried off by the colonizing drain, before they could become noticeable or troublesome.
+ That is indeed involved in the technical term of Deductio; for unless the ceremonies, religious and political, of inauguration and organization, were duly complied with, the colony was not entitled to be considered as deducta—that is, solemnly and ceremonially transplanted from the metropolis,
chance of being other than well ce- by no true cement of cohesion with mented: the cohesion of its parts the existing Empire, is evident from was intense ; seven centuries of the rapidity with which they were growth demand one or two at least abandoned. In the next reign, the for palpable decay; and it is only Empire had already recoiled within for harlequin empires like that of its former limits; and in two reigns Napoleon, run up with the rapidity further on, under Marcus Antoninus, of pantomime, to fall asunder under though a prince of elevated characthe instant reaction of a few false ter and warlike in his policy, we find moves in politics, or a single unfortu. such concessions of territory made nate campaign. Hence it was, and to the Marcomanni and others, as from the prudence of Augustus act- indicate too plainly the shrinking ing through a very long reign, sus- energies of a waning Empire. In tained at no very distant interval reality, if we consider the polar opby the personal inspection and revic position, in point of interest and sisions of Hadrian, that for some time tuation, between the great officers of the Roman power seemed to be sta- the Republic and the Augustus or tionary. What else could be ex Cæsar of the Empire, we cannot fail pected ? The mere strength of the to see the immense effect which that impetus derived from the republi- difference must have had upon the can institutions, could not but pro- permanent spirit of conquest. Cæsar pagate itself, and cause even a mo was either adopted or elected to a tion in advance, for some time after situation of infinite luxury and enthose institutions had themselves joyment. He had no interests to given way. And besides the mili secure by fighting in person: and tary institutions survived all others; he had a powerful interest in preand the army continued very much venting others from fighting ; since the same in its discipline and com in that way only he could raise up position, long after Rome and all its competitors to himself, and dangercivic institutions had bent before an ous seducers of the army. A Conutter revolution. It was very possi- sul, on the other hand, or great ble even that Emperors should have lieutenant of the Senate, had nothing arisen with martial propensities, and to enjoy or to hope for, when his talents capable of masking, for many term of office should have expired, years, by specious but transitory unless according to his success in conquests, the causes that were si- creating military fame and influence lently sapping the foundations of for himself. Those Cæsars who Roman supremacy; and thus by ac- fought whilst the empire was or cidents of personal character and seemed to be stationary, as Trajan, taste, an empire might even have ex did so from personal taste. Those panded itself in appearance, which, who fought in after centuries, when by all its permanent and real tenden- the decay became apparent, and cies, was even then shrinking within dangers drew nearer, as Aurelian, did narrower limits, and traveling down so from the necessities of fear; and wards to dissolution. In reality, under neither impulse were they one such Emperor there was. Tra- likely to make durable conquests. jan, whether by martial inclinations, The spirit of conquest having thereor (as is supposed by some) by dis- fore departed at the very time when satisfaction with his own position at conquest would have become more Rome, when brought into more im- difficult even to the republican enermediate connexion with the Senate, gies, both from remoteness of ground was driven into needless war; and and from the martial character of the he achieved conquests in the direc- chief nations which stood beyond tion of Dacia as well as Parthia. But the frontier, -it was a matter of nethat these conquests were not sub- cessity that with the republican instantial,--that they were connected stitutions should expire the whole
illustrated by the learning of Rigaltius, Salmasius, and Goesius, upon the mere technical arrangements of the Roman Colonies. And whole libraries might be written on these same colonies considered as engines of exquisite state policy.
principle of territorial aggrandize, different thing to forbear making ment; and that, if the Empire seemed conquests, and to renounce them to be stationary for some time after when made. It is possible, however, its establishment by Julius, and its that the cession then made of Mesofinal settlement by Augustus, this potamia and Armenia, however sure was through no strength of its own, to be interpreted into the language or inherent in its own constitution, of fear by the enemy, did not imply but through the continued action of any such principle in this Emperor. that strength which it had inherited He was of a civic and paternal spifrom the Republic. In a philosophi- rit, and anxious for the substantial cal sense, therefore, it may be af. welfare of the Empire rather than firmed, that the Empire of the Cæsars its ostentatious glory. The internal was always in decline; ceasing to go administration of affairs had very forward, it could not do other than much gone into neglect since the retrograde; and even the first ap- times of Augustus ; and Hadrian was pearances of decline can, with no perhaps right in supposing that he propriety, be referred to the reign of could effect more public good by an Commodus. His vices exposed him extensive progress through the Emto public contempt and assassina- pire, and by a personal correction of tion; but neither one nor the other abuses, than by any military enterhad any effect upon the strength of prise. It is, besides, asserted, that the empire. Here, therefore, is one he received an indemnity in_money just subject of complaint against for the provinces beyond the EuphraGibbon, that he has dated the de- tes. But still it remains true, that in clension of the Roman power from a his reign the God Terminus made his commencement arbitrarily assumed; first retrograde motion ; and this another, and a heavier, is, that he has Emperor became naturally an object failed to notice the steps and sepa- of public obloquy at Rome, and his rate indications of decline as they name fell under the superstitious arose,—the moments to speak in ban of a fatal tradition connected the language of dynamics) through with the foundation of the Capitol. which the decline travelled onwards The two Antonines, Titus and Marto its consummation. It is also a cus, who came next in succession, grievous offence as regards the true were truly good and patriotic prinpurposes of history,--and one which, ces; perhaps the only princes in the in a complete exposition of the Im- whole series who combined the virperial history, we should have a tues of private and of public life. right to insist on,--that Gibbon brings in their reigns the frontier line was forward only such facts as allow of maintained in its integrity, and at the a scenical treatment, and seems expense of some severe fighting uneverywhere, by the glancing style of der Marcus, who was a strenuous his allusions, to presuppose an ac general at the same time that he was quaintance with that very history a severe student. It is, however, which he undertakes to deliver. Our true, as we observed above, that, by immediate purpose, however, is sim- allowing a settlement within the Roply to characterise the office of em man frontier to a barbarous people, peror, and to notice such events and Marcus Aurelius raised the first changes as operated for evil, and for ominous precedent in favour of a final effect of decay, upon the those Gothic, Vandal, and Frankish Cæsars or their Empire. As the best hives, who were as yet hidden bemeans of realizing it, we shall ra hind a cloud of years. Homes had pidly review the history of both, been obtained by Trans-Danubian promising that we confine ourselves barbarians upon the sacred territory to the true Cæsars, and the true Em- of Rome and Cæsar : that fact repire, of the West.
mained upon tradition ; whilst the
terms upon which they had been The first overt act of weakness, obtained, how much or how little the first expression of conscious connected with fear, necessarily bedeclension, as regarded the foreign came liable to doubt and to oblivion. enemies of Rome, occurred in the Here we pause to remark, that the reign of Hadrian; for it is a very first twelve Cæsars, together with
Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, and the two with Commodus, and he dismissed -Antonines, making seventeen Empe- the council with an assurance that rors, compose the first of four nearly he would think farther of it. The equal groups, who occupied the sequel was easy to foresee. Orders throne in succession until the ex were soon issued for the departure of tinction of the Western Empire. the court to Rome; and the task of And at this point be it observed - managing the barbarians of Dacia that is, at the termination of the first was delegated to lieutenants. The group, we take leave of all genuine system upon which these officers exevirtue. In no one of the succeeding cuted their commission was a mixed princes, if we except Alexander Se- one of terror and persuasion. Some verus, do we meet with any good- they defeated in battle; and these ness of heart, or even amiableness were the majority; for Herodian says, of manners. The best of the future αλείς ες των βαρβαρων όπλοίς εχειρώσαντο: Emperors, in a public sense, were
others they bribed into peace by harsh and repulsive in private cha- large sums of money.
And no racter.
doubt this last article in the policy The second group, as we have of Commodus was that which led classed them, terminating with Phi- Gibbon to assign to this reign the first lip the Arab, commences with Com- rudiments of the Roman declenmodus. This unworthy prince, al- sion. But it should be remembered, though the son of the excellent Mar- that, virtually, this policy was but the cus Antoninus, turned out a monster further prosecution of that which had of debauchery. At the moment of already been adopted by Marcus his father's death, he was present in Aurelius. Concessions and temperaperson at the headquarters of the ments of any sort or degree shewed army on the Danube, and of neces- that the Pannonian frontier was in sity partook in many of their hard- too formidable a condition to be ships. This it was which furnished treated with uncompromising rigour. his evil counsellors with their sole Το αμέριμνον ωνέμενος, purchasing an argument for urging his departure immunity from all further anxiety, to the capital. A council having Commodus(as the historian expresses been convened, the faction of court it) násla idide tà alréueva conceded all bycophants pressed upon his atten- demands whatever. His journey to tion the inclemency of the climate, Rome was one continued festival: and contrasting it with the genial skies the whole population of Rome turned and sunny fields of Italy; and the out to welcome bim. At this period season, which happened to be win- he was undoubtedly the darling of ter, gave strength to their represen- the people : his personal beauty was tations. What! would the Emperor splendid; and he was connected by be content for ever to hew out the blood with some of the greatest nofrozen water with an axe before he bility. Over this flattering scene of could assuage his thirst ? And, hope and triumph clouds soon gatheragain, the total want of fruit-trees— ed: with the mob, indeed, there is did that recommend their present reason to think that he continued a station as a fit one for the Imperial favourite to the last; but the respecte court ? Commodus, ashamed to able part of the citizens were speed. found his objections to the station ily disgusted with his self-degradaupon grounds so unsoldierly as tion, and came to hate him even more these, affected to be moved by poli. than ever or by any class he had tical reasons : some great senatorial been loved. The Roman pride never house might take advantage of his shews itself more conspicuously distance from home,-might seize througbout all history, than in the the palace, fortify it, and raise levies alienation of heart which inevitably in Italy capable of sustaining its followed any great and continued pretensions to the throne. These outrages upon his own majesty, comarguments were combated by Pom. mitted by their Emperor. Cruelties peianus, who, besides his personal the most atrocious, acts of vengeance weight as an officer, had married the the most bloody, fratricide, parrieldest sister of the young Emperor. cide, all were viewed with more toShame prevailed for the present leration than oblivion of his own in
violable sanctity. Hence we ima- at the very moment when the nobles, gide the wrath with which Rome the magistrates, the priests, all, in would behold Commodus, under the short, that was venerable or conseeges of four hundred thousand spec- crated in the state, with the Imperatators, making bimself a party to the tor in their centre, had taken their contests of gladiators. In his earlier seats, and were waiting for the openexbibitions as an archer, it is possi. ing of the shows-a stranger, in the ble that his matchless dexterity, and robe of a philosopher, bearing a staff his unerring eye, would avail to miti- in his band (which also was the progate the censures : but when the Ro- fessional ensign t of a philosopher), man Imperator actually descended to stepped forward, and, by the waving the arena in the garb and equipments of his hand, challenged the attention of a servile prize-fighter, and person. of Commodus. Deep silence ensued: ally engaged in combat with such upon which, in a few words, omiantagonists, having previously sub- nous to the ear as the handwriting on mitted to their training and disci- the wall to the eye of Belshazzar, pline-the public indignation rose to the stranger unfolded to Commodus á height, which spoke aloud the the instant peril wbich menaced both language of encouragement to con- his life and his throne, from his great spiracy and treason. These were not servant Perennius. What personal wanting: three memorable plots purpose of benefit to himself this against his life were defeated; one stranger might have connected with of them (that of Maternus, the his public warning, or by whom robber) accompanied with romantic he might have been suborned, was circumstances, which we have nar never discovered; for he was inrated in an earlier paper of this se- stantly arrested by the agents of the ries. Another was set on foot by great officer whom he bad denounced, his eldest sister, Lucilla; nor did dragged away to punishment, and her close relationship protect her put to a cruel death. Commodus from capital punishment. In that dissembled his panic for the present; instance, the immediate agent of her but soon after, having received undepurposes, Quintianus, a young man, niable proofs (as is alleged) of the of signal resolution and daring, who treason imputed to Perennius, in the bad attempted to stab the Emperor shape of à coin which had been at the entrance of the amphitheatre, struck by his son, he caused the fathough baffled in his purpose, ut- ther to be assassinated—and, on the tered a word which rang continually same day, by means of forged letters, in the ears of Commodus, and poi- before this news could reach the son, soned his peace of mind for ever. who commanded the Illyrian armies, His vengeance, perhaps, was thus he lured him also to destruction, unmore effectually accomplished than der the belief that he was obeying if he had at once dismissed his vic- the summons of his father to a pritim from life. “The Senate,” he had vate interview on the Italian fronsaid, " sends thee this through me: tier. So perished those enemies, and henceforward the Senate was if enemies they really were. But to the object of unslumbering suspi- these tragedies succeeded others far cions to the Emperor. Yet the pub- more comprehensive in their mislic suspicions settled upon a differ- chief, and in more continuous sucent quarter ; and a very memorable cession than is recorded upon any scene must have pointed his own in other page of universal history. the same direction, supposing that Rome was ravaged by a pestilence be had previously been blind to his —by a famine-by riots amounting danger. On a day of great solem- to a civil war-by a dreadful masnity, when Rome had assembled her sacre of the unarmed mob — by myriads in the amphitheatre, just shocks of earthquake-and, finally,
• On this occasion we may notice that the final execution of the vengeance projected by Maternus, was reserved for a public festival, exactly corresponding to the modern carnival; and from an expression used by Herodian, it is plain that masquerading had been an ancient practice in Rome.
+ See Casaubon's notes upon Theophrastus.