Page images

had been a traitor and a tyrant. The with an express purpose of intercept. two extreme terms of his own politics, ing all supplies from Rome, and of the earliest and the last, do in fact inflicting the slow torments of famine meet and blend. But the proper ob- upon that vast yet non-belligerent ject of scrutiny for the sincere enqui- city- then, in opposing such a monrer is this parenthesis of time, ibat ster, Cæsar was undeniably a public intermediate experience which placed benefactor. Not only would the mag. him in daily communion with the real nanimity and the gracious spirit of Pumpey of the year ab Urbe Cond. forgiveness in Cæsar, be recalled with 705, and which extorted from his in- advantage into men's thoughts, by any dignant patriotism revelations to his confession of this bideous maliguity in contidential friend so atrocious, that his antagonist; but it really became nothing in history approaches them. impossible to sustain any theory of

This is the period to examine ; for ambitious violence in Cæsar, when rethe logic of the case is urgent. Were garded under his relations to such a Cicero now alive, he could make no body of parricidal conspirators. Fightresistance to a construction, and a ing for public objects ihat are difficult personal appeal such as this. Easily of explanation to a mob, easily may you might have a motive, subsequently any chieftain of a party be misrepreto your friend's death, for dissembling sented as a child of selfish ambition, the evil you had once imputed to him. But, once emblazoned as the sole bare But it is impossible that, as an unwills rier between his native land and a mer. ing witness, you could have had any ciless avenger by fire and famine, he molive at all for counterfeiting or ex- would take a tutelary character in the aggerating on your friend an evil pur.

minds of all men. To confess one pose that did not exist. The dissimu. solitary council-such as Cicero had lation might be natural-The simulaa attended repeatedly at Pompey's headtion was inconceivable. To suppress quarters in Epirus-was, by acclamaa true scandal was the office of a sor, tion from every house in Rome, to rowing friend-to propagate a false evoke a hymn of gratitude towards one was the office of a knave; not, that great Julian deliverer, whose therefore, that later testimony which to Pharsalia had turned aside from Italy have garbled was amiable, but that co- a deeper woe than any which Pagani, eval testimony which to have invented ism records. was insanity—this it is which we must We insist inexorably upon this state abide by. Besides that, there is an. of relations, as existing between Cicero other explanation of Cicero's later and the two combatants. We refuse to language than simple piety to the me. quit this position, We affirm that, mory of a friend. His discovery of at a time when Cicero argued upon Pompey's execrable plans was limited the purposes of Cæsar in a manner to a few months; so that, equally from confessedly conjectural, on the other its brief duration, its sudderness, and band, with regard to Pompey, from its astonishing contradiction to all he confidential communications, he rehad previously believed of Pompey, ported it as a dreadtul discovery, that such a painful secret was likely enough

mere destruction to Rome was, upon to fade from his recollection, after it Pompey's policy, the catastrophe of had ceased to have any practical im.

Cæsar, be might persuade portance for the world. On the other himself, would revolutionize Rome; hand, Cicero had a deep viodictive but Pompey, he knew in confidence, policy in keeping back any evil that meant to leave po Rome in existence. he knew of Pompey. It was a mere Does any reader fail to condemn the necessity of logic, that, if Pompey had selfishness of the Constable Bourbon meditated the utter desiruction of his ranging himself at Pavia in a pitchcountry by fire and sword_if, more ed battle against his sovereign, on an atrociously still, he had cherished a argument of private wrong? Yet the resolution of unchaining upon Italy Constable's treason bad perhaps idena the most ferocious barbarians he could tified itself with his self-preservation; gather about his eagles, Getx for iq- and he bad no reason to anticipate a stance, Colchians, Armenjaus-if he lasting calamity to his country from bad ransacked the ports of the whole any act possible to an individual. If Mediterranean world, and bad mus- we look into ancient history, the case tered all the shipping from fourteen of Hippias, the son of Pisistratus, separate states enumerated by Cicero, scarcely approaches to this. He ins

the war.


deed returned to Athens in company fore, made the discovery that his too with the invading hosts of Darius. celebrated friend was any thing but a But he had probably been expelled statesman, (amonotixwidtos,) Cicero from Athens by violent injustice; and, came at length to pronounce him though attending a hostile invasion, dogatntixwlotovany thing but a gehe could not have caused it. Hardly neral. But all this was nothing in a second case can be found in all his- the way of degradation to Pompey's tory as a parallel to the dreadful character, by comparison with the design of Pompey, unless it be that of final discovery of the horrid retaliation Count Julian calling in the Saracens which he meditated upon all Italy, by to ravage Spain, and to overthrow the coming back with barbarous troops to altars of Christianity, on the provo- make a wilderness of the opulent land, cation of one outrage to his own and upon Rome in particular, by so house ; early in the eighth century posting his blockading fleets and his invoking a scourge that was not entire- cruisers as to intercept all supplies of ly to be withdrawn until the sixteenth. corn from Sicily—from the province But then for Count Julian it may be of Africa—and from Egypt. The pleaded-that the whole tradition is great moral, therefore, from Cicero's doubtful; that if true to the letter, his confidential confessions' is- that he own provocation was enormous; and abandoned the cause as untenable ; that we must not take the measure of that he abandoned the supposed party what he meditated by the frightful of “good men,” as found upon trial consequences which actually ensued. to be odious intriguers—and that he Count Julian might have relied on the abandoned Pompey in any privileged weakness of the sovereign for giving character of a patriotic leader. If he a present effect to his vengeance, but still adhered to Pompey as an indivi. might still rely consistently enough dual, it was in memory of his personal on the natural strength of his country, obligations to that oligarch, but, when once coerced into union, for secondly, for the very generous reason ultimately confounding the enemy- —that Pompey's fortunes were deand perhaps for confounding the false clining; and because Cicero would fanaticism itself. For the worst traitor not be thought to have shunned that whom history has recorded, there re- man in his misfortunes, whom in mains some plea of mitigation ; some reality he had felt tempted to despise thing in aggravation of the wrongs only for his enormous errors. which he had sustained, something in

After these distinct and reiterated abatement of the retaliation which he acknowledgments, it is impossible to designed. Only for Pompey there is find the smallest justification for the

Rome had given him no sub- great harmony of historians in repreject of complaint. It was true that the senting Cicero as having abided by strength of Cæsar lay there; because those opinions with which he first immediate hopes from revolution be. entered upon the party strife. Even longed to democracy, to the oppressed, at that time, it is probable that Cicero's to the multitudes in debt, for whom deep sense of gratitude to Pompey the law had neglected to provide any secretly, had entered more largely into prospect or degree of relief: and these his decision than he had ever acknowwere exactly the class of persons that ledged to himself. For he had at first could not find funds for emigrating. exerted himself anxiously to mediate But still there was no overt act, no between the two parties. Now, if he official act, no representative act, by really fancied the views of Cæsar to which Rone had declared herself for proceed on principles of destruction to either party.

the Roman constitution, all mediation Cicero was now aghast at the dis- was a hopeless attempt. Compromise coveries he made with regard to between extremes lying so widely Pompey. Imbecility of purpose apart, and in fact, as between the affirdistraction of counsels-feebleness in mation and the negation of the same their dilatory execution-all tended to propositions, must have been too plainly one dilemma, either that Pompey, as impossible to have justified any couna mere favourite of luck, never had tenance to so impracticable a speculapossessed any military talents, or that, tion. by age and conscious inequality to his But was not such a compromise imenemy, these talents were now in a possible in practice, even upon our own state of collapse. Having first, there- theory of the opposite requisitions? No.


[ocr errors]

And a closer statement of the true from all direct responsibility, should principles concerned, will show it was be checked by some responsibility, not, The great object of the Julian operating in a way to preserve the party was, to heal the permanent col- sovereign in his constitutional sanctity. lision between the supposed functions This was finally effected by the admi. of the people, in their electoral capa. rablé compromise-of lodging the recity, in their powers of patronage, and sponsibility in the persons of all serin their vast appellate jurisdiction, vants by or through whom the with the assumed privileges of the sovereign could act.

But this was so senate, We all know how dreadful little unuerstood by Charles I. as any have been the disputes in our own constitutional privilege of the people, country, as to the limits of the consti- that he resented the proposal as much tutional forces composing the total more insulting to himself than that of state. Between the privileges of the fixing the responsibility in his own Commons and the prerogative of the person. The latter proposal he viewed Crown, how long a time, and how as a violation of his own prerogative, severe a struggle, was required to ad. founded upon open wrong.

There just the true temperament! To say was an injury, but no insult. On the nothing of the fermenting disaffection other hanit, to require of him the sactowards the goverument throughout the rifice of a servant, whose only offence reign of James I., and the first fifteen had been in his fidelity to himself, was years of his son, the great civil war to expect that he should act collusively grew out of the sheer contradictions with those who sought to dishonour arising between the necessities of the him. The absolute to el Rey of Spapublic service and the letter of superan- nish kings, in the last resort, seemed nuated prerogatives. The simple his. in Charles's eye indispensable to the tory of that great strife was, that the dignity of the crown. And his legal democracy, the popular elements in counsellers assured him that, in conthe commonwealth, had outgrown the ceding this point, he would degrade provisions of old usages and statutes. himself into a sort of upper constable, The king, a most conscientious man, having some disagreeable functions, believed that the efforts of the Com. but none which could surround him mons, which represented only the in- with majestic attributes in the eyes of stincts of rapid growth in all popular his subjects. Feeling thus, and thus interests, cloaked a secret plan of en- advised, and religiously persuaded that croachment on the essential rights of he held his powers for the benefit of the sovereign.

In this view he was his people, so as to be under a deep confirmed by lawyers, the most dan- moral incapacity to surrender " gerous of all advisers in political dowle" from his royal plumage, he did struggles ; for they naturally seek the right to struggle with that energy and solution of all contested claims, either that cost of blood which marked his in the position and determivation of own personal war from 1642 to 1645. ancient usage, or in the constructive Now, on the other hand, we know view of its analogies. Whereas, here that nearly all the concessions sought the very question was concerning a from the king, and refused as mere body of usage and precedent, not de- treasonable demands, were subsenied in many cases as facts, whether quently reaffirmed, assumed into our that condition of policy, not unreason

constitutional law, and solemnly esable as adapted to a community, hav- tablished for ever, about forty years ing but two dominant interests, were later, by the Revolution of 1683-9. any longer safely tepable under the And this great event was in the nature rise and expansion of a third. For in- of a compromise. For the patriots of stance, the whole management of our 1642 liad been betrayed into some caforeign policy had always been re- pital erfors, claims both irreconcilable served to the crown, as one of its with the dignity of the crown, and use. most sacred mysteries, or anogenta;

less to the people. This ought not to yet, if the people could obtain no in- surprise us, and does not extinguish our direct control of this policy, through debt of gratitude to those great men. the amplest control of the public purse,

Where bas been the man, much less even their domestic rights might easily the party of men, that did not, in a be made nugatory. Again, it was in

first essay upon so difficult an adjustdispensable that the crown purse, free ment as that of an equilibration




It was

between the limits of political forces, the grievances to be redressed, and travel into some excesses ? But forty the incapacities to be removed, and years' experience-the restoration of a the organs to be renewed, were absoparty familiar with the invaluable uses lute and urgent; that the evil grew of royalty, and the harmonious co- out of the political system; that this operation of a new sovereign, already system had generally been the silent trained to a system of restraints, made product of time ; and that as the this final settlement as near to a per- sovereign, in the English case most fect adjustment and compromise conscientiously, so on the other hand, between all conflicting rights, as, per- in Rome, the Pompeian faction, with haps, human wisdom could attain. no conscience at all, stood upon the

Now, from this English analogy, we letter of usage and precedent, where may explain something of what is the secret truth was—that nature her. most essential in the Roman conflict.

self, that nature which works in poliThis great feature was common to the tical by change, by growth, by detwo cases—that the ebange sought by struction, not less certainly than in the revolutionary party was not an physical organizations, had long been arbitrary change, but in the way of a silently superannuating these precenatural nisus, working secretly through- dents, and preparing the transition out two or three generations.

into forms more in harmony with puba tendency that would be denied. Just lic safety. as, in the England of 1640, it is im- The capital fault in the operative possible to imagine that, under any constitution of Rome, had long been immediate result whatever, ultimately in the antinomies, if we may be parthe mere necessities of expansion in a doned for so learned a term, of the people, ebullient with juvenile ener- public service. It is not so true an gies, and passing at every decennium expression—that anarchy was always into new stages of development, could to be apprehended, as, in fact that have been gainsayed or much retarded. anarchy always subsisted. What made Had the nation embodied less of that this anarchy more and less dangerous, stern political temperament, which

was the personal character of the parleads eventually to extremities in ac- ticular man niilitant for the moment; tion, it is possible that the upright and next, the variable interest which such thoughtful character of the sovereign a party might have staked upon the might have reconciled the Commons to contest; and lastly, the variable means expedients of present redress, and for at bis disposal towards public agitatwenty years the crisis might have been tion. Fortunately for the public safety, evaded. But the licentious eharacter of these forces, like all forces in this Charles II. would inevitably have chal world of compensations and of fluctulenged the resumption of the struggle ations, obeying steady laws, rose but in a more embittered shape ; for in seldom into the excess which menaced the actual war of 1642, the separate the framework of the state. Even in resources of the crown were soon ex

disorder, when long-continued, there hausted ; and a deep sentiment of re- is an order that can be calculated : spect towards the king kept alive the dangers were foreseen; remedies were principle of fidelity to the crown, put into an early state of preparation. through all the oscillations of the pub. But because the evil had not been so lic mind. Under a stronger reaction ruinous as might have been predicted, against the personal sovereign, it is it was not the less an evil, and it was not absolutely impossible that the not the less enormously increasing. aristocracy might have come into the The democracy retained a large class project of a republic. Whenever this of functions, for which the original body stood aloof, and by alliance with uses had been long exiinct. Powers, the church, as well as with a very which had utterly ceased to be avail. large section of the democracy, their able for interests of their own, were

adhesion to republican plans now used purely as the tenures by finally brought them to extinction which they held a vested interest in But the principle cannot be refused bribery. The sums requisite for brithat the conflict was inevitable; that bery were rising as the great estates the collision could in no way have rose. No man, even in a gentlemanly been evaded; and for the same reason rank, no eques, no ancient noble even, as spoken so loudly in Rome--because unless his income were hyperbolically


vast, or unless as the creature of some Greeks so contemptible to the graver party in the background, could at judgments of Rome-that hardly a length face the ruin of a political trustworthy man could be found for career. We do not speak of men the receipt of taxes. The regular anticipating a special resistance, but course of business was, that the Greeks of those who stood in ordinary cir- absconded with the money, unless narcumstances. Atticus is not a man rowly watched. Whatever else they whom we should cite for any authority might be-sculptors, buffoons, dancers, in a question of principle, for wo be. tumblers -- they were a nation of lieve him to have been a dissembling swindlers. For the art of fidelity in knave, and the most perfect vicar of peculation, you might depend upon Bray ekiaut; but in a question of them to any amount. Now, amongst prudence, his example is decisive. the Romans, these petty knaveries Latterly he was worth a hundred were generally unknown. Even as thousand pounds. Four-fifths of this knaves they had aspiring minds ; and sum, it is true, had been derived from the original key to their spoliations a casual bequest; however, he had in the provinces, was undoubtedly the been rich enough, even in early life, vast scale of their domestic corruption. to present all the poor citizens of A man who had to begin by bribing Athens-probably 12,000 families, one nation, must end by fleecing anwith a year's consumption for two in- other. Almost the only open chan. dividuals of excellent wheat; and he nels through which a Roman noblehad been distinguished for other osten- man could create a fortune, (always tatious largesses ; yet this man held allowing for a large means of marit to be ridiculous, in common pru- rying to advantage, since a man might dence, that he should embark upon shoot a whole series of divorces, still any political career. Merely the costs refunding the last dowery, but still reof an adileship, to which he would placing it with a better,) were these have arrived in early life, would have two-lending money on sea-risks, or swallowed up the entire hundred thou- to embarrassed municipal corporations sand pounds of his mature good-luck. on good landed or personal security, “ Honores non petiit: quod neque with the gain of twenty, thirty, or even peti more majorum, neque capi pos- forty, per cent; and secondly, the sept, conservatis legibus, in tam effusis grand resource of a provincial go. largitionibus; neque geri sine periculo, vernment. The abuses we need not corruptis civitatis moribus." But this state: the prolongation of these lieuargument on the part of Atticus tenancies beyond the legitimate year, pointed to a modest and pacific career. was one source of enormous evil; and When the polities of a man, or his it was the more rooted an abuse, bespecial purpose, happened to be po- cause very often it was undeniable lemie, the costs, and the personal risk, that other evils arose in the opposite and the risk to the public peace, were scale from too hasty a succession of on a scale prodigiously greater. No governors, upon which principle no man with such views could think of consistency of local improvements coming forward without a princely could be ensured, nor any harmony fortune, and the courage of a martyr. even in the administration of justice, Milo, Curio, Decimus Brutus, and since each successive governor brought many persons beside, in a lapse of his own system of legal rules. As to twenty-five years, spent fortunes of the other and more flagrant abuses in four and five hundred thousand pounds, extortion from the province, in garband without accomplishing, after all, ling the accounts and defeating all much of what they proposed. In scrutiny at Rome, in embezzlement of other shapes, the evil was still more military pay, and in selling every kind inalignant ; and, as these circumstan- of private advantage for bribes, these tial cases are the most impressive, we have been made notorious by the very will bring forward a few.

circumstantial exposure of Verres. I. Provincial administrations. The But some of the worst evils are still Romans were not eharacteristically a unpublished, and must be looked for rapacious or dishonest people--the in the indirect revelations of Cicero Greeks were ; and it is a fact strongly when himself a governor, as well as illustrative of that infirmity in prin. the incidental relations by special facts ciple, and levity, which made the and cases. We, on our parts, will

« PreviousContinue »