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longer, if it had ever been, in their possession. A great clamor began, and soon spread through the city; the Plebeians hurrying from all sides to join their brethren, and strike while the iron was yet warm. On the other hand, the Senate hastily separated, sending the Consuls to stay the tumult which had unexpectedly arisen while they were taking counsel together, as if they were the only inhabitants of Rome. The crowd, however, demanded, with unwonted resolution,” that the Senate should come together again, and give them relief from the oppression they were determined to bear no more. Appius, the Consul, fled from the Forum, but broke in amongst the Senators as they assembled, and proposed, as if he were their bravest champion, that the populace should be put down by violence. His colleague, however, who had not feared the crowd, but had gone about beseeching every one he met to be calm and wait for the justice which was sure to be given, came into the Senate to advise a moderate course towards the excited multitude. The broken story seems to fail; and the Senate, as well as the insurgents, appear to have separated without prevention, on the one hand, or increase, on the other, of the sedition. On the next day, the crowd collected more numerously in the Forum. The Plebeians from the country, who could not have reached the city until some time after the outbreak, for which none had been prepared, came in, earnest to join their friends of the town. Hardly had the first vociferations of the multitude, ready, at that moment, to dare almost any thing, in spite of their long submission, been raised, when some Latin horsemen rode up to inform the Senate, assembled in one of the temples near at hand, that an armed force of the Volscians, marching to attack the city, was already close to the Roman boundaries. The Patricians and the Knights, to whom the sedition within the walls was by no means a very fearful matter, or who, at all events, expected the populace to forget their grievances as soon as they heard the call to arms, hastened homewards to equip themselves, never doubting that their example would be imitated. But the Plebeians stood still in the Forum. Some pointed to the chains they yet wore as bankrupt debtors, crying out that they had nothing else to defend against the invaders; and many more exclaimed, it was better to be conquered or slain, than live with hands tied and bodies bruised like theirs. The wrath of the multitude was nevertheless soon turned away. At the proposal of Servilius, or of some wiser Senator than the rest, the Senate was persuaded to proclaim that the bound as well as the unbound amongst the people might enlist under the Consuls, and further, that none who did enlist should be liable for any debts to fall due during the campaign; while the injuries of which complaint was made should be examined and repaired at the end of the war. The Forum, just before swarming with an angry populace, now seemed to be filled with orderly and willing soldiers. Bond and free gave in their names together, and to all, promiscuously, the usual oath of fidelity was administered as rapidly as the words could be dictated and repeated. Servilius put himself at the head of the army, and set out at once to meet the invaders, who, of course, were instantly routed and repelled.” The spoils of the camp from which the enemy were driven, and of the town subsequently taken in their own territories, were divided amongst the victorious soldiery, and, for the first time in their remembrance, the lowest ranks had something to carry home with them from war. After a week's campaign, and the return of the army, Servilius claimed the usual honors of a triumphant general; but Appius is said to have persuaded the Senate to deny his colleague's demand. Any of the party whose opinion was expressed by Appius Claudius would have maintained, with him, that the decree about the debtors at the beginning, and the division of the booty at the close of the campaign, were too atrocious violations of all precedents and laws to permit the triumph of their author. Servilius was, for the moment, a man of energy. He called the Centuries into the field of Mars, and laid his claims before them. They were in part, of course, the same soldiers whom he had commanded, and as the question lay between one faction of the Patricians and another, rather than between the Patricians and the Plebeians, the Centuries made no difficulty in setting aside the Senate's refusal, and authorizing the Consul to triumph. He accordingly assumed the triumphal robe, and was conducted through the city to the Capitol by a shouting multitude.” If the Plebeians thought they were triumphing as well as the Patrician Consul, they were shortly undeceived. Some other excursions in arms occupied them for a time; but on the final return of the forces, they were received with an edict from the Consul Appius, commanding the debtors to give themselves over to their creditors. The troops appealed to Servilius; but he was cold or cowed, and his own name was soon added, on the edict, to that of his colleague. The victims, with whom the city seemed at least half peopled, made a show of resistance; but obedience was more natural, and the poor were surrendered to the bondage they had almost ceased to fear. The consular year drew near its close. It was marked by another dispute between the Consuls for the honor, then dearly valued, of dedicating a temple lately built to Mercury. The Senate, before whom their claims were urged, referred the question to the assembly of the Curies, by which it was determined that the temple should be dedicated neither by Appius nor by Servilius, but by a certain Centurion, — not so much out of respect to him, the historian says, as out of disrespect to the Consuls.” This decision of the Curies is the best means that remains of understanding the temper of the Patricians, of whom the assembly was formed. It hence seems that the ex
* “Multo minaciter magis quam suppliciter.” Liv., II. 23.
travagance of Appius and the double-dealing of Servilius were equally distasteful to their order at large. Some young men, and many of the more recently elevated Patricians, were undoubtedly of the same mind with Appius, and would have crushed every effort of the Plebeians to encroach upon the ground they occupied themselves. The saying of the Patrician, that the Senate was the soul, and the Plebeian order the body of the state,” was undoubtedly the expression of other men belonging to the higher class, who drew the same strange inference, that the body should be mortified and injured. Another party, so much disposed to thwart the Plebeians as to be indignant at the part which Servilius had temporarily taken in their favor, was, nevertheless, contented with the belief that their seditious temper was unworthy of much regard, and had better be left to die out as suddenly as it had been inflamed. The Patricians of this stamp would have opposed any extreme measures, not, perhaps, from humanity, but in the conviction that a light matter would only be made serious by too rigorous a treatment. There were, besides, a few moderate men, who, like Valerius, thirteen years before, would have done some justice to the lower estate, which, however, they did not seek to elevate so much as to secure in the position it actually occupied. Such a party as this, the third one, was in all probability
15 Dionysius ascribes it to Appius “I would they were barbarians (as they are,
Claudius. W. 67. See the first Though in Rome littered), not Romans (as they are not,
scene of Shakspeare's Coriolanus; though calvd is the porch o' the capitol). or those bitter words about the Plebeians in the third act: —