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ceded the Christian era. A great poet of our day, has well described in sacred song the state of pretended liberty and actual violence of Greece and Rome, the most distinguished commonwealths of antiquity. After denouncing oppression in every form, he adds— “Earthly liberty, Which aimed to make a reasonable man By legislation think, and by the sword Believe. This was that liberty renowned, Those equal rights of Greece and Rome, where men, All but a few, were bought and sold, and scourged, And killed, as interest or caprice enjoined: o In after times, talked of, written of much,
That most by sound and custom led away,
We shall next examine the Roman oligarchy, commonly, but inaccurately called the Republic of Rome. The Athenian democracy, gleaming like a comet, with fiery radiance, casts a strong and partially beautiful light upon antiquity, but Rome rises before us like the sun of the ancient systems. At the Christian era, the Roman dominion extended over 120 millions of people, of whom, sixty millions were slaves. It covered the most valuable parts of Britain, Gaul, Spain, Germany, Italy, Egypt, and of the African and Asiatic coasts; of the Mediterranean; of the kingdom of Macedonia; and various islands and regions, comprising an extent of territory, number of sub
jects, and solidity of political power and wealth before unknown. This was the result of many centuries of war and conquest. The conquests of Alexander, though extensive and dazzling, and wrought by the genius and valor of a great captain, fade to nothing before the gigantic, martial victories of Rome. Though Alexander the Great vainly supposed he had conquered the world, Rome conquered his kingdom of Macedonia, Greece, and Egypt, and proudly claimed to be the mistress of the world. • And that nothing might be wanting to her glory, she bound her brows with the victorious wreath of Alexander—she transported to Italy the monuments and learning of Egypt, and adorned her capitol with works of Grecian art. She borrowed the philosophy and refinement of the Greeks,
and entwined as it were her iron arms with the
graceful chaplets of Athenian skill. This country, thus inheriting the antique lore of Egypt, the trophies of Alexander, and Grecian learning and Grecian art, will be found to confirm our leading proposition, of the destitution of antiquity of any sound knowledge of International Law, Civil Polity, Ethics, and Morals. Rome was founded more than seven centuries before the Christian era by a fratricide, and this murderer was the first king of the Romans. By the fabled Sabine rape, the Romans are said to have obtained wives, and this formed the basis of Roman families, and of the Roman social state. The ancestral mothers of the Caesars, of the Scipios, of Pompey, and of Cicero, are found, as the historians of Rome say, among these violated Sabine women; and the ancestral fathers of these great Romans, were the robbers, who by treachery and force, thus provided Rome with her first matrons and replenishers of a martial line. Woman had little respect or power in Rome, and wives were divorced by husbands at will. An act of violence upon Lucretia, overthrew the monarchy established by Romulus, in the 245th year of the city; and this was deemed the era of Roman morality. The social state in its origin, its principles, and its practices was bad. Every page of Roman history is stained with domestic infidelities, immoralities and murders, down to the pillage of Rome by the Vandal king Genseric, who was invited to Italy by the queen of the Roman emperor. The polity of Rome was originally an elective limited monarchy, with a hereditary Senate of 100, chosen by the king. Afterwards 200 were added to the Senate, and thus a hereditary body of Patricians were organized. From the 245th to the 727th year of Rome, the executive power was vested in two Consuls, and at times in a Dictator.
The Consuls were Patricians until the 388th year of the city, when the first Plebeian became consul. By prohibition of intermarriage, the Patricians and Plebeians were for a long period kept distinct and separate. Though the Consuls were nomimally elected by the people, the Senate by influence, in fact, generally appointed them. The people had a power of legislation under certain circumstances, and by a forcible rising they secured the appointment of Tribunes of the people, as guardians and protectors of popular rights. But for most practical purposes, during the Consulate, the Senate either enacted, or influenced the passage of laws, and were the controlling power of the commonwealth. The Licinian law, which the Gracchi attempted to revive, with a view to restore to the Roman State the public domain, which the Patricians had illegally seized, was truly a law of the people. The tribunitial office of the Gracchi, and the existence of the restored law sanctioned anew in the assemblies of the people, were of no avail. A proud and grasping aristocracy, put down these laws by force of arms, killing the Gracchi and several thousands of the Roman people. Thus the Patricians cut down the liberties of the people of Rome with the same sword that had conquered the world. It was the first scene in the drama of retributive justice that Rome was to exhibit, as the natural and necessary penalty for the slaughter and enslavement of many nations. Henceforth violence and bloodshed were habitual internal vices of the Romans, and they practised upon themselves the cruelties they had inflicted on other nations. In the wars of the patrician and popular parties, headed by Marius and Sylla, the greatest atrocities were perpetrated. Sylla caused several thousand captive Romans to be butchered in cold blood, in hearing of the assembled Senate, and he confiscated the private property of his fellow citizens to a great extent. Servile wars, the inevitable result and just punishment of the Roman gigantic system of slavery, came also, to fill to the brim the cup of national suffering and woe. Servile wars desolated Italy and Sicily, endangered the safety of the commonwealth, were attended with defeat and disaster, and cost a million of lives. The whole system of Roman polity bore the stamp of cruelty. The conspiracy of Cataline, the terrible patrician oppressions that caused it, and the assassination of the captive leaders of it by orders of Cicero the Consul, and the subsequent tragical fate of the great orator, present a striking illustration of the corrupt morals and bloody ferocity of the Romans. The triumph and assassination of Julius Caesar— the victorious usurpation of the Triumvirate—their