Page images

had been conceded, the institution of the tribunes was suggested by Lucius Junius Brutus, as an additional guarantee; and this afterthought was made the subject of a separate negotiation. Livy is entirely silent as to any arrangement about a remission of debts, and describes the compact as limited to the institution of tribunes. Cicero agrees with Livy, and considers the tribunate as the sole result of the first secession.' (Vol. ii. p. 77.)

We admit that Livy says nothing about a remission of debts. But we contend that this is an omission on his part: that his own narrative implies virtually the fact of such remission having been granted, so as to be hardly consistent with itself, unless upon that hypothesis. He had told us explicitly that the cause which drove the plebeians to the desperate measure of secession*, was, the cruel suffering inflicted upon the great multitude of them. by debt, and by the law which made the insolvent debtor the slave of his creditor: that the liberal patricians had been doing their utmost, though in vain, to procure for them relief from such suffering: and that the very last act which precipitated the secession was, the abdication of the popular dictator (Valerius) in disgust, because he could not prevail on the senate to grant any relief. Assuming this state of things, how can it be believed that the plebeians, when they became masters of the situation and forced the senate to offer terms, demanded no redress of this severe and present grievance; and that they were satisfied with the prospective benefit to be derived from appointing two tribunes, about whom before not a word had been said? To confirm our view—that Livy's own account requires us to assume a remission of debts as having been granted - we may add, that after having dwelt so much upon the pressure of debt before the secession, he says nothing more about it after the secession: the grievance disappears for a long series of years.

Turning to Dionysius, we find that his account is consistent, complete, and natural. The plebeians had seceded on account of debt: the first concession whereby the intimidated senate try to pacify them is a promise of relief from debt: and with this the plebeians are so overjoyed that they are not disposed of themselves to demand more. But their long-sighted leader, L. Junius, reminds them that their only guarantee for the observance of the promise is, that they should have tribunes of their own appointment, and with powers adequate to their protection. The tribunes are thus (to use the phrase of Sir George Lewis)

Livy, vol. ii. pp. 23. 27. 31.- 'Totam plebem ære alieno demersam 'esse,' &c.

'an afterthought;', they are not a substitute for debt-relief, but a guarantee for its accomplishment.

In regard to the passage of Cicero, we agree rather with the interpretation of Niebuhr than with that of Sir George Lewis. We think that Cicero (like Livy) says what implies that a remission of debts must have been granted.* And it appears to us that an historian who finds himself in the presence of three such accounts as those of Dionysius, Livy, and Cicero, is warranted in supplying out of the first that fact which, though not expressly mentioned by the other two, is required to make each of them consistent with himself.

Sir George Lewis pursues his minute analysis of the contradictions and incoherences which pervade the immediately succeeding period of Roman history-the story of Coriolanus that of Spurius Cassius, the proposer of the first agrarian law -the expedition and death of the three hundred Fabii, &c. All these are details which must have been derived by the annalist from oral communication. Yet in the midst of them the 'substratum of notation' occasionally crops out, thus (B. c. 462), we have: Many of the notices are of a character which 'seem to betoken contemporaneous registration, such for instance ' as the consecration of the temple of Dius Fidius on the nones of 'June, on the Quirinal hill, by the Consul Spurius Posthumius, in the year 466 B. C.' (vol. ii. p. 162.)—and the punishment of two Vestal Virgins, Opimia and Orbinia (vol. ii. pp. 141. 152. 183.), who were buried alive for unchastity. This punishment

* The passage of Cicero is in the Fragment de Republicâ, ii. 33, 34. Cicero states, as explicitly as Dionysius and Livy, that the cause which brought about the suffering and secession of the plebeians, was, 'the pressure of their private debts. The senate (he adds) might have applied a measure of relief to this grievance of debt, but they let slip the opportunity of doing so. Accordingly, they were constrained at last to submit to a concession much more formidable to their own power-the creation of the tribunate. 'Quo tum 'consilio prætermisso, causa populo nata est, duobus tribunis plebis 'per seditionem creatis, ut potentia senatus atque auctoritas minueretur.' If the Senate were forced ultimately to make a more serious concession, this proves that the mutinous debtors had acquired increased strength. How then is it credible that they should become willing to bear the pressure of debt, which they had mutinied in order to escape? The tribunate in itself could not mitigate this grievance. Cicero means (in our judgment) that the Senate, having refused to grant a measure of debt relief in time, when it would have given satisfaction were forced, when the discontent ripened into irresistible mutiny, to grant, not only this debt-relief, but something much greater besides.

[ocr errors]

was probably registered in the Pontifical Annals, since it had a salutary effect, as we learn from Livy and Dionysius, in appeasing the anger of the Gods, recently manifested in alarming prodigies. To the Decemviral Government an elaborate section is devoted (vol. ii. pp. 161. 252.). These Decemvirs were named, after eleven years of plebeian importunity, to prepare written laws for rendering the administration of the Consuls both determinate in its principles and equal in its operation on patricians as well as plebeians. They composed the Twelve Tables-the earliest authentic monument of Roman law. The history of the Decemvirate-given in detail by Livy, and in still greater detail by Dionysius-is the institutional legend' respecting the origin, promulgation, and authors of these memorable and much admired tables.

[ocr errors]

We agree with Sir George Lewis that this narrative must have been first put together by annalists long posterior, mainly from oral report; and that its credibility must be estimated accordingly. But we cannot think that the proof of this point is strengthened by his analysis of the texture of the narrative, nor that the internal difficulties and discrepancies are so grave as he represents. That which he conceives as a tissue of improbabilities is so far from appearing in the same light to Dionysius, that the latter (x. 1.) expressly takes credit for furnishing on this occasion a philosophical and instructive recital. The character and proceedings of the chief Decemvir Appius, do not appear to us unnatural, nor do we feel the embarrassments started by Sir George Lewis. Why did Appius (it is asked) resign his place in the decemvirate after the first year, and thus expose himself to the chance of not being re-elected? (Vol. ii. p. 229.) We may surely answer Because those who had been his colleagues during the meritorious proceedings of the first year, would not have been suitable for the atrocities of the second. Then by what force were Appius and his second colleagues enabled to tyrannise with temporary impunity? • We hear (says Sir George Lewis) of no instruments of their power, 'except a few clubs or associations of young patricians, who are paid for their services by confiscated property.' These were the instruments of the decemviral tyranny; and they appear to us, as they appeared to Dionysius and Livy, sufficient for the purpose. These historians do not recognise the attenuating numerical adjective, a few: Dionysius even mentions (x. 60.) bands of poor and reckless satellites enlisted by the decemvirs, in addition to the patrician youth. Moreover Livy expressly states that the only sufferers by the decemviral tyranny were the plebeians; that among the patrician order, the younger men, who





formed the real force, were gainers in every way; and that even the elder or senatorial patricians, who disliked the decemvirs, disliked the suffering plebeians as much or more, were pleased to see them humbled, and even aggravated their humiliation by insult. With such antipathy and mistrust between the two orders, and with such an amount of positive support from the more powerful of the two, the Decemvirs possessed ample means of maintaining their tyranny during eighteen months, not to say longer.

Again, We might have expected' (says Sir George Lewis, p. 238.), judging by the other atrocities ascribed to Appius, that he would have caused Virginia to be seized without the forma'lities of a public trial, and that he would have imprisoned or 'killed her relatives and protectors.' It might have been safer for him if he had done so. But Dionysius describes it as the ordinary practice of the Decemvirs in their tyranny, to suborn accusers and pronounce iniquitous judgments: when this had been done in a long series of cases without resistance, Appius did not sufficiently calculate the chances of resistance in a new Nor can we wonder that he did not anticipate the tragical event of a father publicly stabbing his own daughter in the forum.

These and other embarrassments which a critical inquirer brings to view in the Decemviral history, are all very proper for notice. But we think that they are by no means incapable of solution that the author himself, if he had been writing a work of history instead of criticism, would easily have found solutions: and that they are no greater than an historian, who has the advantage of contemporary authorities, must often be prepared to solve. Though poorly furnished as to external attestation, the story in its internal texture appears to us more plausible and coherent than his book exhibits it.

During the sixty years between the fall of the Decemvirs and the Gallic capture, the internal history of Rome betokens a forward movement on the part of the plebeians. The demand made by the latter for equal admissibility to the consulship, is

Livy, iii. 36, 37. Aliquamdiu æquatus inter omnes terror fuit; paulatim totus vertere in plebem cœpit. Abstinebatur à Patribus: in humiliores libidinose crudeliterque consulebatur; hominum, non causarum, toti erant: ut apud quos gratia vim æqui haberet.'


.. Primores Patrum odisse Decemviros, odisse plebem: nec probare, quæ fierent; et credere, haud indignis accidere. Avidè ruendo in libertatem lapsos juvare nolle: cumulare quoque injurias, ut tædio præsentium consules duo tandem et status pristinus rerum in desiderium venirent.'

refused by the patricians; who are, however, obliged to make the concession of substituting, in place of consuls, new magistrates entitled military tribunes (with powers nearly approaching to those of the consuls), among whom plebeians were eligible. These consular tribunes, with many alternating years of patrician consulship, continued for seventy-seven years, when the Licinian laws re-established the consulship, with the peremptory enactment that one of the two consuls must be a plebeian. Respecting the historical character of this period, our author observes,―

'After the year B. C. 367, we hear no more of consular tribunes, and the office disappears from the Fasti. With the exception of the account of the first election of consular tribunes, the history of this magistracy during the seventy-seven years of its existence is consistent, coherent, and intelligible; and the historical narrative supports and explains the lists of names in the tables of magistrates. So far, therefore, as the internal evidence goes, it confirms the authenticity of the traditionary accounts of the period in question.' (Vol. ii. p. 396.)

[ocr errors]

Here we have the substratum of notation' and the traditionary details in a state of admitted harmony. Sir George Lewis pursues his analysis of the history through the 110 years between the Gallic capture and the landing of Pyrrhus. Though he still detects many contradictions and inconsistencies, they do not appear to him so glaring as those of the former period. As to the foreign wars with the Gauls, indeed, there are discrepancies impossible to reconcile between Polybius and Livy; as to those with the Latins and Samnites, there are no such grave contradictions, though much is obscure and uncertain. Among the internal affairs of Rome, we commend to particular attention what is said about the Agrarian Laws, which are handled in a manner extremely perspicuous and instructive. (Vol. ii. p. 137. 183. 384.) Some proofs are also adduced (which might probably be multiplied) of the continuance of the contemporary registration for various isolated facts. (Vol. pp. 483-6.) On the whole, the facts and narratives indicate that we are approaching towards that clearer sunlight of history which begins to prevail for the times after Pyrrhus.

Having performed this dissection of the evidences, with many most profitable comments upon Niebuhr, Arnold, and other previous expositors, Sir George Lewis adds a concluding chapter, summing up the general results of his inquiry, and illustrating his reasonings by comparisons with Grecian history. We have no space to dwell upon these pertinent and well-chosen analogies, and can only advert to the general conclusion. Remarking that as the different schools of historical criticism agree in considering

« PreviousContinue »