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ed between all the Plebeians and their old superiors, the Patricians. There were ranks, indeed, amongst the Plebeians, to which posts so narrow and so trifling were assigned, as to give them any other look than that of being either vigorous or respected; and there was still a host of lower orders, as we have observed, to rise even to inferior places in the lists of citizens. It remains to be seen whether the impulses which had been long in action would still continue to turn the inferior into an equal with those above him, or whether they who had already risen would prevent their own example from being followed. The great parties of the period have been defined; but one of them now needs to be more particularly described. No other portion, indeed, of our history more thoroughly deserves illumination from all the light it can in any way receive, than,that of the popular party, as it must be called, in which, at the present time, the best Patricians and the most eminent Plebeians were combined with all the middle classes, such as they were, of the Commonwealth. The age of these men was called the golden age of Rome, and yet the treasures which were found and amassed, through the battle abroad or through the reform at home, were inadequate to the support or the transmission of liberty amongst their posterity. The censorship of Fabius and Decius, some time ago related, affords an instance of the policy pursued by the party which triumphed, in their persons, over the contrary faction led by Appius Claudius. The sons of freedmen were
struck from the roll of the Senate; and the freedmen themselves were deprived of the political influence they had suddenly acquired, by being thrown together into the four City Tribes, in which they might preponderate without exercising any appreciable influence upon the decisions of the assembly, wherein they had so small a part. It is probable, to say the least, that the freedmen and the sons of freedmen, notwithstanding these reforms, were left by the Censors in quite as elevated a position as they then could fill with any advantage to themselves or to the Commonwealth; but there was no provision for their future advancement, of which, on the contrary, the possibility might rather seem to be denied. This want of concern, not for the present, but for the future, welfare of the great body of the people, including, at least, the lower Plebeians besides the class adduced above for the sake of illustration, was as injurious to the party by whom as to that towards whom it was shown. Instead of encouraging continual growth in freedom amongst the inferior orders, it seems as if the popular party, forgetful of their name and place, had stood, as full-grown trees are sometimes seen, absorbing the moisture of the earth and diverting the sunshine in the skies from the lowlier plants, which, though incapable of pushing up their branches all at once, were designed to lift their breathing leaves nearer and nearer to the air and height of the older foliage. This spirit in the popular party is intelligible, not only on the general principles which account for any degree of selfishness, even in those who have longest suffered from the selfishness of others, but, much more practically, by means of the particular principles at this time prevalent in public life at Rome. The man who sought to do his duty was not instructed to make himself better, or to increase the happiness of those who were dependent upon his labor or his affection; he saw but one way to distinction, and that he pursued, with the name of his country on his lips, over the corpses of the battlefield, or through the passions of the Forum. The hope he lived for, according to the laws of his gods and his ancestors, was glory; nor was it often allowed him to see that the good or the glory of any other individual was necessary to be consulted with his own. All the self-forgetfulness to which he could attain was when the claims of his country or of his party reached his ear; the loudest appeal of his fellow-men, as such, upon his justice or his love was never raised above a whisper, nor ever heard but as a menace. In respect to his party, he was bound to make every effort that could increase its authority, which was never to be surrendered or divided amongst its adversaries, nay, which, as sometimes happened, was to be refused its own partisans, especially if of a lower order. Any natural benevolence of the public man gave way to these uniform aims, comprised, as partly stated, in political power, that is, in civil authority and in military dominion, the same whether individually, factiously, or, as would be said, patriotically, desired. Perhaps the course of the popular party will now appear to have been more naturally directed towards political ends through narrow channels. It is a much more agreeable office to record the testimonies at this time presenting themselves in favor of the popular party, concerning its appreciation of the personal immunities which belonged to all classes of citizens. The same year in which the Ogulnian law completed the political equality of the Plebeians with the Patricians, Marcus Valerius, perhaps the same Valerius Corvus whom we have met before,” and, if so, now in his fifth consulship, brought up the laws concerning appeal, which bore his family name, to be reënacted. The language of the historian implies the motive of their confirmation” to have arisen from the power which the few possessed to the peril of the common liberty;” and it suits precisely with the character of Valerius Corvus that he should assure the lower classes of protection under the same laws which had protected those who were now amongst the superior citizens. It may have been from a similar policy with the party of which Valerius was a great ornament,” that two more Tribes were very soon afterwards enrolled from some of the lately conquered Italians;” though it must be confessed that the newly registered citizens, who could and did come up to Rome from month to month, or from week to week, were, generally speaking, of the same class and the same opinions as the popular, or even, in many cases, as the Patrician party. The very year in which the new Tribes were admitted, the wars that had for an instant lulled broke out again in Etruria” with their former fury, soon spreading into Samnium,” then into Umbria,” and even rousing the Sabines” from the peace they had long preserved. It is fortunately unnecessary, in this place, to describe the victories or to eulogize the heroes of these various contests; but there are one or two scenes to be transferred from the midst of violence and restless efforts, because they indicate the higher character that was of natural growth under the liberty of Rome. Three years after the renewal of the wars.” Lucius Volumnius, a Plebeian of great distinction and of high alliance, was elected Consul with Appius Claudius, the former Censor; both having held the same office together ten years before. The contrast between the colleagues is the contrast between the two great shades of Roman ambition, — the one being a claim to authority, and the other a desire of renown. The war was now at its height, both in
18 But, perhaps, a certain Marcus Valerius Maximus. 19 The second that had taken
haud aliam fuisse reor, quam quod plus paucorum opes, quam libertas plebis poterant.” Liv., X. 9.
place, according to Liv., IX. 9, III. 55. But the same privilege of appeal was also introduced into the Twelve Tables. See Ch. III.
* “Causam renovandae sapius
21 He was again Consul in the next year (Liv., X. 11), after which he appears no more in active service, though he lived to enjoy a glorious old age.