« PreviousContinue »
Revolutions of Rome was prior, in point of time, to that of the Jesuits; it was not a continuous history, but, though distinguished by greater excellences of style, it was founded on the same critical principles.(7) The works of Echard, Vertot, Catrou, Rollin, and Hooke, serve to characterize the period of uninquiring and uncritical reproduction of Roman history. Their system was to eliminate marvels and patent improbabilities; to reconcile discrepancies; to harmonize the various accounts into a coherent flowing narrative, and to treat the result as wellascertained fact.
§ 2 Nearly at the same time, however, that a continuous narrative of Roman history, based on a faithful reproduction of the ancients, was for the first time published, there rose up a spirit of sceptical inquiry which called in question the truth of this history, as it had been related by the ancients, and as it was repeated by the moderns, for the first four or five centuries of the city. Even in the previous century, some writers, in works destined only for scholars, had questioned the historical character of the early ages of Rome. Cluverius, in particular,
occasionally of M. Vertot's sprightly narrative of the revolutions in the Roman government. That project, however, he did not closely and constantly follow, even in this first volume, and he wholly departed from it in composing the second.' Nathaniel Hooke was a Roman Catholic: his History is dedicated to Pope. The year of his birth is unknown, he died in 1764.
(7) The following character of this work is given by M. de Barante. Il ne faisait point de recherches nouvelles sur l'histoire de Rome. Il ne s'efforcait point, comme on fait maintenant, de decouvrir à travers la couleur épique dont la poésie, les traditions, les historiens eux-mêmes ont revêtu les annales de la maîtresse du monde, quelles furent ses véritables origines, son état social, son gouvernement et ses lois aux diverses époques. Il prit pour véritable cette Rome telle que nos études classiques l'ont créée dans notre imagination. De plus grands esprits que l'Abbé de Vertot l'ont bien aussi adoptée pour base de leurs vues politiques. D'ailleurs, il aimait à raconter et à peindre; l'histoire lui apparaissait sous son aspect dramatique. Il écrivit les révolutions de Rome comme Corneille composait ses tragédies, et il prenait la chose si fort à cœur, qu'on le voyait fondre en larmes à l'académie, en lisant le discours de Véturie à Coriolan. Ainsi c'est surtout le talent du récit qu'il faut chercher dans son livre. Encore ne doit on pas espérer de retrouver la couleur du temps et des lieux. Les sentiments, les moeurs, les relations sociales, tout prend un aspect moderne, ainsi que dans une tragédie du Théâtre Français.' Biog. Univ. in v. Vertot was born in 1655, and died in 1735. His 'Révolutions Romaines' first appeared in 1719.
in his learned work on Ancient Italy,' published in 1624, had rejected not only the history of the Trojan settlement in Latium, and the Alban dynasty, but the account of the founders and foundation of Rome; he likewise expressed an opinion that the history of the entire period before the Gallic capture of the city was uncertain.(*) Bochart had regarded the legend of Æneas as unhistorical ;(") and Perizonius, in his 'Animadversiones Historicæ,' published in 1685, called attention to the defectiveness of the external evidences for the early centuries of Rome. (10) The subject was however now treated with greater boldness, and in writings addressed to a wider circle of readers. The first who formally opened the discussion was M. de Pouilly, who, in an Essay read to the French Academy of Inscriptions and Belles Lettres, in December, 1722, undertook to demonstrate the uncertainty of the Roman history, until the war with Pyrrhus. He laid down with clearness and accuracy the principles by which the question is to be decided, but did not pursue them into their detailed application.(1) His conclusions were controverted, in the
(8) See his Italia Antiqua, lib. iii. c. 2, particularly p. 821, 826, 829, 832, 835. In p. 829 he quotes the passage of Livy, vi. 1, and adds 'Parum igitur vel nihil certi de iis quæ ante captam incensamque urbem gesta fuerunt, scribere potuerunt Romani auctores.' In a subsequent page he is still more explicit: Verum enimvero Latinorum sive Romanorum regibus, qui ab Evandro ad consules usque fuere, falsas ascriptas esse origines, falsa item nomina, falsasque interdum res gestas, nihil sit mirum; quando, ut supra ostensum, monimenta antiquissimorum illorum temporum posteriores Romani habuerunt nulla; Græci autem, a quibus postea suas mutuati sunt historias Romani, pro libitu suo, quæcumque vel per quietem somniassent, falsa pro veris, non minus audacter quam impudenter prodiderint.'-p. 855. Philip Cluwer, a native of Danzic, was born in 1580, and died in 1623.
(9) Epistola de quæstione, num Æneas unquam fuerit in Italiâ: op. vol. 1, p. 1063. See Schwegler, ib. p. 280.
(10) See c. 4 and 5, Schwegler, ib. p. 135.
(11) See his Dissertation sur l'incertitude de l'histoire des quatre premiers siècles de Rome, in the Mémoires de l'Acad. des Inscriptions, tom. vi. p. 14-29, and his second memoir,ib. p. 71. M. de Pouilly thus distinguishes between history and oral tradition: L'histoire est la relation d'un fait que nous tenons de ceux que nous savons en avoir été les témoins: il resulte de cette définition, qu'afin qu'une histoire soit authentique, il faut que son auteur, ou du moins celui sur les mémoires duquel l'on sait qu'elle a été faite, ait vécu dans le temps où se sont passés les événements qu'il rapporte; qu'il ait été à portée d'en être instruit; et que sa fidelité ni son exactitude ne soient point suspectes.'-p. 74.
La tradition est un bruit populaire dont on ne connoit point la source;
'Memoirs of the Academy,' by his colleague, the Abbé Sallier ;(12) but his cause soon obtained a powerful ally in the person of M. Louis de Beaufort, a French Protestant refugee, whose celebrated 'Dissertation sur l'incertitude des cinq premiers siècles de l'histoire romaine,' appeared at Utrecht, in 1738.(13) In this work, an attempt was made, by an examination of the general character of the evidence, and a critical analysis of certain portions of the history, to prove that the received accounts are unworthy of credit. The results at which he arrives in this Dissertation are sceptical and negative. His general conclusion is, that not only the history of the regal period, and of the republican period before the capture of Rome by the Gauls, but also of the subsequent republican period from the capture of the city to the close of the fifth century, is uncertain, and full of false or doubtful facts. But although he considers the history of the first five centuries uncertain, he nevertheless thinks that the narrative
c'est la relation d'un fait, qui s'est transmise jusqu'à nous par une suite d'hommes, dont les premiers se dérobent à notre connaissance; c'est une chaîne dont nous tenons un bout, l'autre se perd dans les abîmes du passé. L'on voit par ces définitions la différence essentielle qu'il y a entre l'histoire et la tradition: nous pouvons juger d'une relation historique par le caractère de son auteur; nous ne pouvons juger d'une tradition que par son ancienneté, par son étendue, et par la nature du fait qu'elle renferme.'-p. 80-1. He holds that everything in Roman History is oral tradition down to the capture of the City by the Gauls, ib. 107. There is no life of M. de Pouilly in the Biographie Universelle.
(12) The Abbé Sallier's three Memoirs, in answer to M. de Pouilly, may be seen, ib. p. 30, 52, 115. Sallier was born in 1685, and died in 1761. M. de Pouilly's conclusions are also disputed (as has been previously stated) in the preface to the History of Catrou and Rouillé.
(13) A second edition of this work, revised, corrected, and considerably augmented, was published at the Hague in 1750. My references are however to the first edition; I have been unable to obtain access to a copy of the second edition. See Notes and Queries,' vol. x. p. 101. The first edition has only the writer's initials (L.D.B.) on the title-page; the authorship is however recognised in the preliminary discourse to the République Romaine. The accounts of M. de Beaufort in the French Biographical Dictionaries are very meagre. Niebuhr, Lect. vol. 1, p. cxxvii., says that he was a refugee, who had lived for a long time in England. In the titlepage to his République Romaine, he calls himself a member of the Royal Society of London. Late in his life, he became the preceptor of the Prince of Hesse Homburg-that is probably of Frederic Landgrave of Hesse Homburg, who was born in 1769. The princes of this house are Protestants. He is stated to have died at Maestricht, in 1795.
rests on a substratum of truth: although he holds a large portion of the details to be fictitious or ill attested, he believes that they contain a nucleus of real fact. In his dissertation he confines himself to proofs of the uncertainty of the early history; but in his subsequent and more voluminous work, entitled 'The Roman Republic,'(14) he enters upon the positive part of the question. In the preliminary discourse of this work, he lays down certain rules for distinguishing the certain from the uncertain in the early Roman history: and he exemplifies these rules by a sketch of the history of the earliest period, as he thinks it ought to be written. The principles upon which he proceeds are, to reject most of the details, and to attempt the formation of a historical chain, in which the successive links shall be consistent with each other, and in which the subsequent events shall, as far as possible, imply those that precede.(15) Thus he thinks that the Romans had in reality a king named Romulus, to whom they perhaps owed some laws and some customs; but he holds it to be quite uncertain whether Romulus was the founder, or only the restorer of Rome; as he believes that Rome was in existence long before the time assigned for the reign of Romulus; indeed he treats the time of Romulus as altogether uncertain, and he regards it as a matter of indifference whether it be placed a century sooner or later. 'It is impossible (he says) to lay down, in precise terms, with any approach to certainty, the form of government which Romulus established, the laws which he gave to the Romans, the conquests which he made, the extent of the Roman territory under his reign, the duration of his reign, and indeed the age in which he lived.'(16) He considers the number of the Roman kings, the length of each reign, and the total duration of the regal period equally uncertain. He does not deny the existence of Numa, or of his two successors
(14) 'La République Romaine, ou plan général de l'ancien gouvernement de Rome.' Paris, 1767. 6 vols. 12mo.
(15) Règles que l'auteur se propose de suivre pour distinguer le certain d'avec l'incertain.-Disc. Prel. §. 2, tom. i. p. 11.
(16) Ib. p. 25.
but he places no reliance upon any of the details respecting their acts. The three last reigns (he says), as being nearer to the revolution, exhibit some traces of the position in which the Romans stood, when they shook off the yoke of the royal dominion. If we reject a few fables, and if we disregard all statements as to dates, and duration of reigns, which cannot be fixed on any trustworthy authority, we shall find various events, of which the proof occurs in the sequel of the history, and which are necessarily connected with the subsequent events.'(17) In accordance with this view, he gives a sketch of the reigns of the two Tarquins and Servius, in which he treats as authentic the numbers of the census under Servius, reported by Dionysius and Livy ;(18) as well as that in the second consulship of Publicola;(19) he likewise regards the constitution of centuries as the work of Servius, and as proving that his real policy was aristocratic and not democratic.(20) He proceeds to describe in general terms the revolution which expelled the Tarquins and established the consular form of government, as well as the war with Porsena, and the other wars of the early period of the Republic. In commenting on the discrepancies between Livy and Dionysius as to the Sabine war of 505 B.C., he remarks that little reliance can be placed upon such historians, and that for this reason he limits himself, not to that which is simply probable, but to that which is connected with the course of the history, and which represents to us the state of the Romans at that time as it ought to have been, in order that they should have become what we see them to have been in the subsequent times.(21)
The detailed accounts of the early wars are likewise, he thinks, unworthy of belief; because the ancient historians often put a whole for a part, and represent the Romans as fighting with an entire nation, when only a single canton of it had taken
(17) Disc. Prel. § 2, tom. i. p. 29.
(18) Ib. p. 31.-See Dion. Hal. iv. 22; Livy i. 44.
(19) Dion. Hal. v. 20.
(21) Ib. p. 70.