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injured by one another, the Romans whom we have followed in the increase of their liberty must now be watched in its vain defence and in its sure decay. “A sound of battle is in the land and of great destruction”; but is scarcely heard, before “the hammer of the whole earth is cut asunder and broken.” And the prophecy against Babylon returns, fearful and solemn, against Rome.
114 Jeremiah, L. 22, 23.
“Inde jus viobrutum, potentiorque habitus prior; discordiæque civium antea conditionibus sanari solitar, ferro dijudicatae.”—WELLEius PATERculus, II. 3.
“Tiberius et C. Gracchus vindicare plebem in libertatem et paucorum scelera patefacere coepere.”—SALLust, Jug., XLII.
“If that people had not been prepared and ripe for destruction, there had happened an altera. tion which might have given some respite to it.”— CLARENDoN, Hist. Rebellion, Book XIII.
“OFTEN,” exclaimed the Censor Cato before the Roman people, “often have ye heard me complain how our Commonwealth is laboring under two different vices, avarice and luxury, those two that have been the bane of all great empires.” His complaints are susceptible of a broader application than he intended; and the luxury he censured may be interpreted as the abuse of power already gained, while the avarice he meant to stigmatize may be considered as the desire of dominion not yet acquired, This desire might be shown and this abuse indulged by the rich towards the poor in Rome, or by the Romans collectively towards the nations they had overcome; but in either case, the vices, as Cato called them, were equally fatal. Their origin is explained by the history of preceding years, which describes the relations between the bond and the free, the foreign and the native, the wealthy and the needy classes of the Roman world. It remains to pursue their growth, if growth they had, or to behold their extinction, if extinction was to be their doom. It was sure that some attempt, at any rate, would be made to scare the flock of devouring birds from the living body on which they were about to pounce, before it should become a carcass, dead and torn. But that the attempt to save the Commonwealth and its liberties would succeed was not SO Sure. Yet there, in the midst of perilous changes and ill-boding omens, was the home which a woman preferred to the offer of a crown and a royal spouse” in another land. The daughter of Scipio Africanus and the widow of his defender, Sempronius Gracchus, Cornelia, was living, it seemed, to educate her children in the love of their name, the honor of their country, and the resolution to avert the evil days that were at hand. Proud as she was of her father and her illustrious race, she was prouder still of the hopes which were yet to be fulfilled in her sons; and to the two who survived, when one after another had been taken away, she clung with an affection that watched every moment of their youth as though it were the beginning
1 Liv., XXXIV. 4.