Зображення сторінки

were solemnly confirmed by the Decemvirs. The great privilege of appeal was reiterated in several forms ; 15 the citizen was protected against any undue prosecution ; 16 and the freeman was to be considered free, until proved to be pledged or enslaved." Usury was formally abolished, and the rate of interest fixed at a low sum,18 which every honest debtor in ordinary times might hope to pay; though, if the debt were not discharged at maturity, it was then ordered, as if in justice to the security of property, that the debtor should be delivered over to any fate to which his creditor might choose to doom him.19 Every individual, or, more especially, every citizen, received from the law, until, as in the case of the debtor, he was thought to have become unworthy of it, protection in property, in person, and in fame; nor could there have been expected, in times so rude, and from lawgivers so superior in authority, more ample attention to the injuries which were harboured amongst the richer or the poorer, the higher or the lower classes, against one another. 20 The client was defended from the frauds of his patron ; 21 the slave, even, from the violence of his master or any freeman.22

15 « Compluribus legibus.” Cic., 19 Aul. Gell., XX. 1. De Rep., II. 31. Cf. De Legg., III. 3. 20 See Dirksen, Fragm., pp. 724

16 ~ Vetant XII. Tabulæ leges et seq., VIII, 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 20, V. privis hominibus irrogari." Cic., 8, VI. 1. Heinecc., Rom. Jurisp., Pro Dom., 17. So De Legg., III. 19. pp. 622 - 624.

17 Digest. Lib. I. Tit. II. 2, sect. 216 Patronus si clienti fraudem 24. Dion. Hal., XI. 30. See Dirk- fecerit, sacer esto.” Servius ad

VI 609 sen, Zwölf-Tafel-Fragmente, pp. Æn., VI. 609. 427, 730.

22 « Si servo fos fractum erat, 18 “ Ne quis unciario fænore," 10 pæna assium] centum et quinquaper cent., says Niebuhr, "amplius ginta.” Gaii Instit., III. 223. exerceret.” Tac., Ann., VI. 16.

Still, there can be no question but that the Patricians maintained their superiority at great elevation above the place they granted to the Plebeians by their laws. The lower order, perhaps, would have done the same to their inferiors. Plebeian and Patrician, for instance, could not become man and wife ; 23 and the religious privileges of the higher estate were as carefully withheld as their domestic rights from the lower.24 It is scarcely worth while to repeat that the Twelve Tables were not intended to work a reform, personally, socially, or politically; but simply to bring together into a code, the same for all men, the customs or laws which had hitherto prevailed in scattered and undistinguishable forms. More restraints than appear in the broken fragments of the Tables were undoubtedly laid upon the growth of Roman freedom; but they who afterwards were born beneath them could measure, at least, the burdens they had to bear, and learn by balances and struggles to rid themselves of some.

The hopes of the Plebeians who had supported their Tribunes in bringing the legislation of the Decemvirs to pass were nominally gratified by being bound by the same law as the Patricians to their common country, and by the same law protected against their common enemies.25 One advantage was gained by

23 Liv., IV. 4. Cic., De Rep., qui hostem concitaverit, quive civem II. 37.

hosti tradiderit, capite puniri.” Di2 See the work, recently cited, gest. Lib. XLVIII. Tit. IV. 3. of Emmanuele Duni, Lib. I. capp. “ Adversus hostem æterna auctori3, 4.

tas." Cic., De Off., I. 12. 25 “ Lex XII. Tabul. jubet eum VOL. I.


every man of either class, in having a fixed, and to him a venerable, standard of duty and defence. The dearer object of reverence than either Patrician or Plebeian had ever found in their gods or their fellowmortals was set on high in the laws: it was the majesty of their country,26 alike dependent upon and alike outspread above them all.

Such considerations as we have attempted concerning the Twelve Tables depend, it must be confessed, upon uncertain grounds with regard to the Tables themselves; and it is possible that one or two of the points we have connected with them ought rather to be attached to the subsequent times, in which they were expounded and preserved. It is proposed to run a further risk of the same character, in attempting to draw from later descriptions a few outlines in illustration of the forms of law and liberty in Rome.

The means and the ends of office, or, in other words, the method of obtaining and the manner of using it in any state, but especially in any free state, are always consistent with each other. Something has been already related, in the preceding pages, concerning the elections of the early Commonwealth, with reference, though unexpressed, to the spirit in which the citizen sought and entered upon authority. The subject, however, requires more particular attention ; nor has the striking feature of almost all the elections that have yet occurred or will for a long


26 “ Majestas est quædam magnitudo populi Romani.” Part., Sect. 30.

[ocr errors]


time occur in our history, been delineated, though it may perhaps have been suggested by the tempestuous scenes of which mention has actually been made. An assembly, called to choose its magistrates, seemed to be gathered rather for the purpose of deciding the quarrels amongst its members. The Tribes, indeed, might have managed their affairs with greater decorum, because formed of a single order, had not they, too, been often obliged to begin the election of their Tribunes by driving their adversaries, if they could, out of the Forum. In the Centuries, where the two estates were congregated to give their votes for one or both the Consuls, disputes and brawls must have been still more frequent, even though there were no Plebeians to be candidates, but only more or less liberal Patricians.

If we turn to the candidates themselves, we are as likely to hear menaces and to witness altercations ; but the spirit in them is something more than violent. On the day of election, as for days and weeks beforehand, the seekers after any place in the gift of the assemblies were to be seen abroad in the thoroughfares of the city. Wearing the white, or “ candid ” robes,21 from which they derived their name, and attended by a band of friends and a troop of partisans, they would take up their march, as it might be called, tarrying with every one they met, to go through the same greetings and promises that are still, in some quarters, the usual parts of similar enterprises. The Roman, however, was bound not only to promise what he would do, but to show what he had done; and it is indicative of the sentiments and the lives of his nation, that his most effectual hold upon their support was gained by drawing his toga from his breast and exposing the marks of battle that he bore. The elections became, as they have since been apt to become, the parades of those who sought to profit by them; and the best men in Rome were trained and condemned to a selfseeking spirit, more fatal than ambition or tumult to the prosperity of a free people. Such being the characteristics of the elections, it will be in season, hereafter, to describe their corruptions and their manifold obliquities.

27 The only garment they wore ; easily display his wounds. Persius's for the reasons, according to Plu- words about the candidates are very tarch (Coriol., 14) either that sus- bitter :picion of concealed money (or arms?) "Ille palpo, quem ducit hiantem might be removed, or that the can- Cretata ambitio," etc. Sat. V. 176, 177. didate might seem more humbly See Coriolanus, Act III. sc. 2, 3. clad, or else that he might more

A second point to determine is the fashion in which the judicial powers of the Commonwealth were employed by the magistrates or the assemblies. The proceedings before a magistrate were soon, if not already, of minor importance, and distinguished by a separate name 28 from those before a body of judges or the people at large.29 The Consul, indeed, the only magistrate invested with judicial authority in these times,30 generally appointed one or more judges, and

28 Jus.

30 Neither the Quæstors of Parri29 Then called Judicia, the proper cide nor the Tribunes being exceptrials.

tions, though the Tribunes may

« НазадПродовжити »