« НазадПродовжити »
The empire at large underwent the same outward transition, in consequence of the peace commanded by the cautious Emperor. Sentences of exile, indeed, and arbitrary punishments, were pronounced upon various individuals,59 within Rome and without, who carried their griefs, open or concealed, amongst their remoter fellow-subjects; but these were counted as exceptions. The union, it was said, and perhaps believed, for it has often since been repeated, — the union that a faction of proud and oppressive citizens would never permit in former times between themselves and the vanquished was accomplished at length by the rise of a benign and a watchful Emperor.60 It may have been natural to declare this under Augustus; but it is unpardonable to reëcho, in Christian days, the adulation bestowed upon the heathen Emperor. The evil spirit that prevailed beneath his sway was not, in truth, of his creation; nor could he whom it affected from youth to age lay it to rest. It spread everywhere: pardoning where it should have punished, and punishing where it should have pardoned; soiling itself with stains, and warring with vices noways worse; folding its wings, and binding those that would have essayed to fly beyond its range. The presage of every year or century over which we
59 Dion Cass., LVI. 27. See the more frequent instances are of the anecdote about Mæcenas, LV.7. their manifold sufferings. See Suet.,
60 The provinces, it is true, were Aug., 40, 42, 47 ; Dion Cass., LIV. sometimes better governed, some- 7, 21, LV. 33; and the particular times more generously treated. See case of Gyarus in Strabo, X. 5. 3. Dion Cass., LIII. 12, 15; Suet., Add Tac., Ann., III. 2. Aug., 47. But, on the other hand,
have passed becomes the destroying pestilence of the age at which we have arrived, when the conquering race must be ranked amongst the conquered nations of the heathen world. The dominion of Augustus, a man so feeble in himself, over subjects who were already prostrate was not the beginning of a new life, but the close of the old life that had ebbed away with the liberty of Rome.
The Emperor himself appears to have feared, from first to last, the resurrection of the ancient independenee. He lived in continual parade of humility, 61 that could have deceived none who did not choose to be deceived; nor from the time when he rejected the laws of the triumvirate,62 as if he were glad to be released from them, down to the adoption of a successor whom he hated, did there seem to be a stone unturned which could serve, small though it were, for a monument to all succeeding generations of the weakness of the sovereign who looked so mighty. His consummate prudence, his patient self-control, and the affability he affected towards all classes but his soldiers, were the qualities he appeared to possess; but when once the veil is fallen, he stands shivering with superstition 63 and corrupt with profligacy, 64 crying, one day, for a slaughtered army,65 infuriated, another, by the shame of his only child, 66 and gorerned always by his wife Livia more strictly than he could rule the world. Behold him in the Forum
61 Suet., Aug., 72 et seq.
64 Ibid., 71.
or the Senate; and though he be composed and graceful, that anxious eye, those guarded words, betray him ill at ease. An actor, guilty of some disturbance, tells Augustus that it is well for the people to have other men to watch besides their Emperor; and he is pardoned.7 A frantic citizen runs through the streets screaming that he has sworn not to survive Augustus, and that others must swear the same; and he is rewarded. If the Emperor has to harangue the Senate or publish an edict, he will quote “ whole books” upon his side, as if to convince the people, says his biographer, that his opinions had been held of old.69 How wretched the subjects of such a sovereign! but how much more wretched — and God be praised that such judgments of His are always visible — the sovereign of such subjects as were then called Romans !
Neither the family misfortunes that came upon Augustus the Emperor, as if in retribution of his early crimes and his subsequent hypocrisies, nor the public events, campaigns, and yearly intrigues of his reign, belong to the history of liberty, scarcely to that of servitude. He outlived the friends and the children to whom he would have most willingly surrendered his authority at the hour of death. His last words were to ask if he had played his part becomingly;70 as if the forty-four years of his dominion and the seventy-seven of life were worthy of applause on account of the length to which they had been protracted beyond the terror and the humiliation they had wrought amongst his fellow-creatures. He was made a god by those who survived him; and his step-son, in whom there were none of his virtues, but only his vices magnified," succeeded to his throne. The gradation in character from that of the first Cæsar to that of Augustus, the second, and then to this of Tiberius, the third, is the progress of the despotism which triumphed where liberty had been overthrown."2
67 Dion Cass., LIV. 17.
“ Animam cælestem,” says Pater-
the smallestisorder and and floor of
71 Dion Cassius, after describing soever tempts the pride and vanity Tiberius, mentions that some sus- of ambitious men is not so big as pected Augustus of having chosen the smallest star which we see scathim to serve as a foil to his mem- tered in disorder and unregarded ory! LVI. 45. Cf. Tac., Ann., upon the pavement and floor of I. 10.
heaven.” Holy Dying, Ch. I. 72 . But," as Jeremy Taylor sect. 4. says, with sublime fervor, " what
C., Ann., upon in disorder and we see scar
THE CLOSE OF ANTIQUITY.
“Presso al tempo che tutto 'l Ciel volle
DANTE, Paradiso, VI. 55, 56. "Thus is our Era to be named of Hope.” – Carlyle, French Revolution, Book III. ch. 8.
THE view from which our steps are bearing us away is such as we may well be glad to leave. A few scattered palaces, wherein we would not willingly look again, rise amongst a mass of hovels, of which the doors are closed against us, upon a plain grim with devastation and sterility. The cheerful voice of the husbandman is changed to the outcry of the soldier or the wail of the slave; while the earth itself, as if saddened and speechless, denies a place to the waving corn, and bears, it seems, no tree or leaf to hear the murmurs of the wind. Above the plain, a mountain, diademed with clouds, and barren as the fields beneath, supports a single edifice, which, whether it be a residence or a fortress, is equally magnificent and dreary. Here dwells the master, and below him, on the plain, are the subjects of the Roman Empire.
The prospect to which we turn, at first, is not more gladsome. Without a people, and, a few rare