« НазадПродовжити »
“From a variety of concurring accounts, it appears to me that the political concerns of this country are, in a manner, suspended by a single thread.”—WAshingtoN to Patrick Henry, 24th Sept., 1787. WE have already heard too much of enlistments and campaigns to imagine we are reading the history of a nation whose labors were confined, at any time, to its own separate progress or decline. Yet it is not now that we can properly begin to measure the extended work assigned to Rome amongst the people of antiquity. We shall do all we can at present do, by pausing here to look beyond the Senate or the Forum or the Field of Mars to the places upon which the early battles were fought and to the nations against whom the Romans were year by year arrayed. A birdseye view will be sufficient; and we can then turn back to search the influences of warfare upon the character and the prospects of liberty in Rome. The connection between the two will be found to be more intimate than is generally allowed. A few circumstances, like those of position some time since noticed, being excepted, there seems, at first sight, to have been no earthly reason to account for the fondness of the Romans for martial enterprise. Other people besides themselves, about their plain and hills, were rude and vigorous, patriotic as well as savage warriors, in whom the love of home and that of spoils were equally keen. Mere position, even, will not wholly account for the fact, that the Romans, if not continually, at any rate eventually, came off victorious; their neighbours breathed the same air, saw the same mountains and the same sea, and even had their cities and their strongholds upon hills, like, and yet unlike, to the seven by the Tiber. The composition of the Roman nation is a better ground of explanation or anticipation respecting their conquests; inasmuch as the mingling of different blood and the fusion of various tactics into a single system would have inevitably improved the discipline and augmented the strength of any army or any people. It is uncertain, however, how far we can rely upon the junction of races in the Roman, to account directly for the success and the devastation wrought upon the earth by this the latest and the fiercest nation of ancient times; but it is, at least, a point to be trusted, that the union apparent in the origin has had its consequences in the continuation of our history, and that the consequences, becoming causes, made Rome the mistress of her neighbourhood, her peninsula, and, finally, her world.
It has been hitherto incumbent upon us to lay greater stress upon the separations than upon the attractions, so to speak, among the citizens of Rome. Yet the unity of the Commonwealth, especially in its earlier centuries, was, so far as it existed, much
more remarkable than its more evident dissensions. Every people but one in antiquity was divided against itself by the laws upon which it was founded, and more particularly still by the customs or the doctrines through which it was formed. The fabric, when reared, might stand by itself, built of its own materials, and remote from other monuments of the dead or the living upon the earth; but its want of symmetry was generally the more deplorable. If castes were avoided as the divisions of a nation, the high-born were still of one mould and the low-born of another; rich and poor, free and slaves, warriors and drudges, were ranked in the manner and the proportions denoted by their names. Some of these were irretrievably unfortunate, without a hope of rising to a better place than that in which they were created or to which they were reduced; while others, higher in the scale, were often raised by their own demands or by the natural concessions of their superiors, especially as these latter were everywhere diminished in numbers and weakened in strength, if not in pride. Of this progress the previous pages will have furnished several examples, but none so remarkable as that which has taken place in Rome. At the period where we for the present stand, there are virtually three classes of free citizens in the Commonwealth: one of Patricians, another of the independent, and a third of the indigent Plebeians. If the reader will remember the numerous instances in which, notwithstanding divisions and subdivisions of interests, these various classes have been united through individual members of each, in advocacy or pursuit of the same objects, he will understand the unity, as it may be called, of Rome. It was this unity, or the confidence and the patriotism which, in spite of its imperfections, it supplied, that armed the Romans for the battle and set up their trophies in field after field, until it totally disappeared. In these characteristics, therefore, we may trace the aptitude of the people for warfare, as the result of their early liberty.
Warfare was, nevertheless, the general occupation of the times over which we have passed; and the Romans would naturally have their part, offensive or defensive, in the conflicts round them. A field of grain or a town near the frontier would be a suf. ficient motive to the early forays, which expanded by gradual and easily conceivable degrees into the campaigns and deeper purposes of subsequent wars. Of the various nations nearest Rome, the Latins and the Hernicans appear to have been the only allies, according to the treaties of Spurius Cassius. On the east, the Sabines were so completely defeated by Horatius, the Consul at the time of the Decemvirs' fall, that they were glad to keep on terms of peace for many a succeeding year. The AEquians and the Volscians, towards the south, were more persevering in their hostilities; and the contest between them and the Romans, after long fury and variable fortune on either side, was still undecided at the period of our present observations. On the north, also, the Etruscans were continually in arms, and often to the
disadvantage of the enemies they had once, under Porsena, actually vanquished; but the great conquests of the century after the secession were on the Etruscan side. Fidenae fell; the great city of Veii yielded after a siege of over nine years; and the Roman outposts were pushed near the Ciminian hills, thirty or forty miles northwards. It was at the beginning of the contest with Veii that the troops of the Commonwealth were first regularly paid, and soon after that the first winter quarters were taken at a distance from home : * both measures to determine the military career of the nation. The decision upon war at any time was a national procedure, in which every citizen had an interest, and over which he had the control of his vote in the Centuries” or the Tribes.” The people whom the Romans conquered under the kings became Plebeians, as has been told, or else were left, in a state of dependence, upon a part of their ancient territory. Others, less entirely subdued, were, of course, allowed to remain in comparative independence, generally, indeed, dignified by the name of alliance, which, properly speaking, belonged to a third class of neighbours, who had not yet thought of yielding to the formidable nation in their centre. The accessions to the lower estate under the Commonwealth must be noted as they
1 Liv., IV. 59, 60. For its 3 Ibid., IW. 30. It had before amount, see Niebuhr's History, this been in the cognizance of the Vol II. p. 200. Senate.
2 Liv., W. 2. 4 Ibid., VI, 21.
WOL. I. 61