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AN ESSAY ON THE COLONIAL SYSTEM OF THE ANCIENTS. - John Ramsay McCulloch, Treatises and Essays on Subjects connected with Economic Policy with Biographical Sketches of Quesnay, Adam Smith & Ricardo 
Treatises and Essays on Subjects connected with Economic Policy with Biographical Sketches of Quesnay, Adam Smith & Ricardo (Edinburgh: Adam and Charles Black, 1853).
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AN ESSAY ON THE COLONIAL SYSTEM OF THE ANCIENTS.
“Nec omnibus eadem causa relinquendi quærendique patriam fuit. Alios excidia urbium suarum, hostilibus armis elapsos, in aliena, spoliatos suis, expulerunt: Alios domestica seditio submovit: Alios nimia superfluentis populi frequentia, ad exonerandas vires, emisit: Alios pestilentia, aut frequens terrarum hiatus, aut aliqua intoleranda infelicis soli ejecerunt: Quosdam fertilis oræ, et in majus laudatæ, fama corrupit: Alios alia causa excivit domibus suis.”
—Seneca,Consol. ad Helviam, c. 6.
Colonies may be defined to be settlements formed in foreign countries by bodies of men who voluntarily emigrate from, or are forcibly sent abroad by, their mother countries. Various motives have led, under different circumstances, to the formation of colonies. Of these, the principal seem to have been the wish to provide for the wants of a redundant population, to escape the fury of contending or victorious factions, to enlarge the circle of commerce and civilisation, and to consolidate the dominion of the parent state over subjugated provinces. In the earlier ages, when large portions of the globe were almost uninhabited, and the means of obtaining supplies of necessary or desirable articles from distant countries, by the intervention of merchants, few and imperfect, the emigration of a portion of the citizens was the only way in which an excess of population could be disposed of. Ancient history is full of references to these migrations. And when agriculture was in its infancy, manufactures and trade all but unknown, and the rearing of cattle and flocks the principal occupation, a removal to a new country did not impose any peculiar hardship on the emigrants. These early migrations were wholly carried on by land. A lengthened period elapsed before ships were fitted out capable of conveying individuals to distant settlements across the sea. The shores bounding the ocean or its more extensive arms, seemed then to mark out the limits of the habitable globe. All beyond them was supposed to be water, or terra incognita, which the inhabitants neither had the means nor the wish to explore. The first essays in the art of shipbuilding were limited to the construction of rafts and canoes, fitted with difficulty to make their way across rivers and narrow arms of the sea. And ages probably passed away before mankind acquired the ability, or were animated by the desire, to commit themselves to the ocean.
We have elsewhere briefly noticed the more prominent of the circumstances which seem to have awakened a spirit of commercial enterprise amongst the Phœnicians. At present it may suffice to remark, that they were the first people recorded in history, who undertook distant voyages of discovery, and who founded colonies in the view of diffusing refinement, extending the sphere of commerce, and rendering it more secure. Cyprus was probably the seat of their earliest settlements. And in addition to those in this valuable island, they established colonies, but more frequently factories, in Greece, Sicily, Thrace, Spain, etc., and in various places along the coast of northern Africa. Of these, Utica, Carthage, which afterwards became the seat of a powerful empire, and Gades, now Cadiz, were the most remarkable. Wherever the Phœnician adventurers came, they familiarised the natives with foreign products, and made them, in some measure, aware of the advantages resulting from the practice of commerce and the arts.
With the exception, perhaps, of those in Cyprus, the Phœnician colonies seem in general to have been really or substantially independent. It is doubtful, indeed, whether the Phœnicians had either the power or the inclination to retain their more distant settlements in a state of dependence. Much would, no doubt, depend on circumstances peculiar to each colony. Those which, like Carthage, were founded by considerable bodies of adventurers, or which speedily rose to importance, would, most likely, be independent from the outset, or from a very early date; while those which comprised only a few settlers, or which were stations or strongholds rather than colonies, would continue in a state of dependence. On the whole, however, it is abundantly certain that the advantages which the Phœnicians derived from their foreign settlements, were wholly, or almost wholly, of a commercial character. They either did not attempt to acquire, or did not succeed in acquiring, extensive colonial dominion. They were the merchants and factors, not the oppressors, of those among whom they dwelt. They were enriched by the trade, and not by the tributes, of their colonies.
The Carthaginians were at once a warlike and a commercial people. Having gradually subdued the other Phœnician settlements on the northern shores of Africa, they extended their sway over the whole coast, for about 2,000 miles, from the Pillars of Hercules to the Syrtis Major. And not satisfied with their African territories, they extended their conquests to other countries. At an early period they were masters of Sardinia and Córsica, in each of which they founded settlements; and subsequently they subjugated a large portion of Spain. Their empire in the Peninsula was, however, of but short duration, and was never very firmly established. Besides Lilybœum, they held some other strongly fortified cities on the southern coast of Sicily; and made many, and some very vigorous though unsuccessful, attempts to acquire the dominion of that large and fertile island.
Next to the Phœnicians, the Greeks were the principal founders of colonies in the ancient world. Their early colonies seem to have been mostly established by citizens expelled from the mother cities by opposite factions which had gained the ascendancy. Sometimes, however, they were undertaken to relieve the mother country of those who could not find the means of subsistence at home; and sometimes also for commercial purposes. The coasts of Asia Minor, Southern Italy, Sicily, and the Black Sea, were the principal seats of the Greek colonies. And owing to the enterprising character of the colonists, the freedom of their institutions, and their superiority in the arts over the native inhabitants of most part of the countries in which they planted themselves, their settlements rose, in a comparatively short space, to a high pitch of opulence and refinement. And many amongst them, as Miletus and Ephesus in Asia Minor, Syracuse and Agrigentum in Sicily, and Tarentum, Crotona, Sybaris, and Locri, in Italy, not only equalled but surpassed their mother cities in wealth and power. These cities became in their turn the founders of other colonies. In the days of her prosperity, Miletus was, next to Tyre and Carthage, the first emporium of the ancient world. For a while she engrossed almost the entire trade of the Euxine; and she is said to have had nearly a hundred colonies and factories round the coasts of that sea and the Palus Mæotis. She had also an extensive land-trade, which extended far into the interior of Asia.1
The colonists who were thus distributed over the shores and islands of the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, were all imbued with the enterprising spirit of their ancestors. And as they and their mother cities were connected by the powerful ties of kindred, language, customs, and religion, an intercourse subsisted amongst them which, though less extensive than we might suppose it would have been, was still pretty considerable. It contributed to improve the industry and to sharpen the inventive powers of the Greeks, to enlarge their ideas, and promote their civilisation.
Much diversity of opinion has existed with respect to the connection which subsisted between the ancient colonies and their mother cities. Mr Barron of St Andrews published, in 1777, an able anonymous treatise on “The Colonisation of the Free States of Antiquity,” in which he endeavoured to show that the ancients exercised the same control over their colonies which has usually been exercised by the moderns. This tract called forth various answers; and seems to have given rise to the valuable work of St Croix, “De l’ Etat et du sort des Anciennes Colonies.” But without entering into the minutiæ of this controversy, it is obvious that the relations between a colony and its parent state will, in great measure, depend on the motives which led to the foundation of the former, and the mode in which it was founded. The colonies and factories of Carthage being, for the most part, intended to extend the empire as well as the commerce of the parent city, were planted by her orders and protected at her expense. Hence they were in no respect distinct or independent communities, but portions only of the Carthaginian dominions. And while they continued in this dependent state, the presumption is, that their trade would be subjected to such regulations as Carthage might choose to impose. And it has been said that the desire to grasp at exclusive privileges and advantages is so very natural, that the Carthaginians appear, above 2,300 years ago, to have adopted the greater number of the rules and regulations embodied in the colonial policy of modern times. In proof of this statement, we are referred to two treaties between Carthage and Rome, preserved by Polybius,1 the first of which appears to have been entered into 510 years bc These treaties are remarkable for their brevity and clearness, as well as for the insight which they are supposed to afford into the commercial economy of the Carthaginians. Both of them breathe a jealous spirit, but the first is less illiberal than the second. It excludes all Roman ships from all parts of the coast of Africa, belonging to the Carthaginians and their allies, to the south of the Fair Promontory (Candidum Promontorium), forty-five miles north-west Carthage, excepting only the city itself. In the event of their being driven upon the prohibited coast by stress of weather, they were bound to depart within five days. Besides the city of Carthage, the Romans were allowed free access to the ports of Africa west of the Fair Promontory; to Sardinia, and to those parts of Sicily which belonged to the Carthaginians. The treaty also exempted the commodities sold by the Romans from all tolls or imposts.
At the period when this treaty was concluded the Romans had few ships; and in allowing them to enter their harbours to the west of the Fair Promontory and in Sardinia, the Carthaginians conceded a privilege which they probably thought would be seldom exercised. Polybius supposes that the Carthaginians excluded the Romans from that portion of the coast to the south of the Fair Promontory, from a desire not to inflame their cupidity by allowing them to become acquainted with the fertile country round Byzacium and the lesser Syrtis.
The date of the second treaty is not specified, but probably it was about 347 years bc1 It excludes Roman ships from nearly all the coast of Africa west from Carthage; from Africa Propria, excepting Carthage itself; and from the island of Sardinia. They are, however, admitted, as in the former treaty, to the ports belonging to the Carthaginians in Sicily. But nothing is said in regard to any diminution of duties in favour of the commodities sold or bought by the Romans.
The exclusion, in this treaty, of Roman ships from Sardinia, and from mostly all the ports of Africa except Carthage, has been said to afford a proof, not only of the Carthaginians assuming a right to regulate the trade of their dependencies, but of their policy in making Carthage a grand centre of their traffic, and obliging their colonists and other dependents to sell all their exports and buy all their imports in her markets.2 But the foundation is much too narrow for so great a superstructure. There cannot, indeed, be a doubt that, when she had the power, Carthage regulated the intercourse with her dependencies, which she sometimes treated with such severity as to provoke their rebellion. There is, however, no proof, nor in fact any ground, for supposing that the exclusion of the ships of the Romans from Africa Propria and Sardinia was dictated by any wish to monopolise their trade. At the periods when these treaties were framed, there were other powers whose ships, for anything we know to the contrary, might be freely admitted into the ports from which the Romans were excluded. The grasping and warlike character of the latter, was well known to the Carthaginians. And the probability is, that their exclusion from the countries referred to was owing to reasons similar to those assigned by Polybius, that is, to a desire to hinder them from becoming acquainted with their capabilities, caballing with their inhabitants, and perhaps gaining a settlement on their shores. The ordinary policy of the Carthaginians is said, indeed, to have been characterised by an unusual degree of jealousy and suspicion. Without, however, laying much stress on this circumstance, which is perhaps little to be depended upon, we may safely conclude that, had they been able, they would have excluded the Romans from Sicily as well as from Sardinia. But while the commerce with the latter, owing to its barbarism and distance from Rome, was of little importance to the Romans, the civilisation, wealth, and proximity of Sicily, and the influence they had already obtained in it, would have made them reject any treaty which proposed to exclude them from any considerable portion of that island. All, therefore, that can be legitimately inferred from these treaties is merely that the Carthaginians were extremely jealous of Rome; and few will deny that, in this case at least, their jealousy was reasonable and well-founded.
The Grecian colonies differed very widely from those of the Carthaginians. They were, for the most part, founded without any assistance from their parent states, and frequently against their will, by private adventurers forced by the violence of adverse factions, or led by a wish to improve their condition, to seek foreign settlements. The mother cities did not attempt to exercise any sort of supremacy over them; nor, if they had, is there any likelihood that it would have been submitted to. But though politically independent, an intimate connection was generally maintained between the colonies and their parent cities. Their common origin, the identity of their religion, language, and institutions, gave rise to the same sort of union and friendship between the colonists and those from whom they were descended, that obtains in private life among allied families. In consequence, it seems to have been commonly held throughout Greece, that it was the duty of parent states to treat their colonists with parental kindness, and of the latter to look up to the land of their fathers with filial respect and veneration. And, conformably to this statement, we find that it was usual for colonists to yield the place of distinction, at public games and festivals, to deputies from their mother cities, who also enjoyed the privilege of first inspecting the entrails of the victims at sacrifices. Colonists were occasionally, also, in the habit of appointing a high priest of the mother city to preside over their religious solemnities; of sending offerings of first fruits to her gods; of requesting her to furnish them with an officer when they intended to establish a new settlement in a distant country; and sometimes, also, with a general to command their armies. And a variety of other observances and customs might be specified, serving to mark the deference which was usually entertained by colonists for their ancestors, and to maintain a friendly intercourse and good understanding between them.1
The most important of the reciprocal duties of mother cities and colonies had reference to the conduct of the one when the other was engaged in war. There is some discrepancy in the statements of historians and critics on this important point. And, in truth, there was nothing better than customary observances, which differed under different circumstances, on which to build a conclusion. On the whole, however, it seems sufficiently clear that colonies were considered as morally bound to assist their mother cities in war; not, however, as subjects, but as allies, on fair and equal terms. Colonies which declined to render this assistance were said, unless they could plead in excuse some very obvious or plausible reasons, to have committed a flagrant breach of duty. And the conduct of such colonies as, instead of assisting their mother cities, or remaining neuter, sided with their enemies, was stigmatised as impious, and offensive alike to gods and men. On the other hand, mother countries were held to be in duty bound to promote the interests of their colonists, and, if necessary, to support them with their arms. To fail in the performance of these important obligations was a serious offence. And hardly any provocation was thought sufficient to excuse a parent state in taking up arms against her descendants; this was regarded in the light of a Medea doing violence to her offspring.1
It would be easy to quote various examples in proof of these statements. It will, however, be enough to refer to the rupture between Corinth and her colony, Corcyra. The insular situation of the latter, and her attention to naval affairs, had raised her to a prominent place among the Greek states; and, elated with her power, she first neglected, and ultimately refused, to pay the usual marks of respect and deference to her mother city. Corinth, who felt hurt by this conduct, and who most probably, also, had become jealous of her naval power, resolved to chastise Corcyra for her presumption. An occasion for her interference speedily presented itself. Epidamnus,2 a colony of Corcyra, on the coast of Epirus, being hard pressed by the Illyrians, applied for assistance to her parent city. But the distress and supplications of their descendants having failed to induce the Corcyræans to interpose in their behalf, they sent ambassadors to Corinth to solicit that assistance from their remote, which had been refused by their immediate, ancestors. The Corinthians readily granted their request; and sent, without delay, an armament to Epidamnus, in the view, not merely of defending that city against the barbarians, but of detaching it from the interests of Corcyra.
The Corcyræans, indignant at the Corinthians having presumed to interfere in the affairs of their colony, immediately resorted to arms. And having defeated the fleet of Corinth in an obstinate engagement, they recovered possession of Epidamnus. During the two years following this event, the Corinthians laboured with the greatest diligence, by equipping a fleet and securing allies, to acquire the ability to punish the impious audacity, as they termed it, of their rebellious children. The Corcyræans, who foresaw the approaching storm, made every effort to meet it. And being aware of the latent enmity existing between the Athenians and the Corinthians and their allies, they resolved to send an embassy to the former to solicit their support. The Corinthians having learned or suspected their intention, the Corcyræan envoys were met at Athens by others from Corinth sent to expose and frustrate their schemes. And as all matters of importance were discussed in public, both parties were allowed a hearing in the assembly. Thucydides has preserved the speeches made on this occasion, or rather he has given, in speeches ascribed to the envoys, a summary of the arguments which they probably employed.1
But on this, as on most similar occasions, the speeches made to the assembly were principally directed to show, on the one hand, the advantages the Athenians would gain; and, on the other, the hazards they would encounter, by engaging in the contest as allies of Corcyra. The circumstances in which it originated, and the principles of colonial policy which it involved, were regarded as of inferior importance. They were not, however, wholly lost sight of; and the notice taken of them throws some light on the reciprocal claims and duties of colonies and their mother cities.
The Corcyræans, who spoke first, contended, among other things, that the Athenians could not be accused of injustice if they interfered in their behalf. They admitted that colonies, when treated with kindness, were bound to honour and respect their mother states; but that, when injuriously treated, they were justly alienated. Colonists, they said, were not sent out to be the slaves, but the equals of those who remained behind; and they protested that the violence and injustice of the Corinthians were evinced by their refusing to submit the question in regard to Epidamnus to arbitration.
The Corinthians, in their reply, did not attempt to controvert the principles laid down by their opponents. They pleaded that they had not sent colonists to Corcyra to be ill-treated by them, but that they might continue in lawful dependence, and give them due honour and reverence; that their other colonies willingly showed them every mark of duty and respect; that the perverse and unjustifiable conduct of the Corcyræans was evident, from their having renounced their allegiance, and taken up arms against their parent city; that even had the latter been in the wrong, the Corcyræans should have averted her anger by condescension; and that their outrageous conduct was to be ascribed to their pride and the insolence of wealth.
It is evident, from these statements, that the relation between the mother countries and their colonies in the Grecian world was vague in the extreme. It consisted of rights and obligations, on the one side and the other, to which custom and public opinion had given a sort of sanction. But as these were neither defined by treaties, nor fixed or regulated by any public law, they admitted of every variety of interpretation, and might be made to suit the views either of those who wished to strengthen, or of those who wished to relax, the dependence of the colonies. In this case, the Athenians decided in favour of Corcyra. But the wish to secure the alliance of a people who, besides being very powerful at sea, were most conveniently situated either for trade or war with Sicily, and not the justice of her quarrel with Corinth, most probably made them decide in her favour.
Mr Barron has attempted to show, from the example of Athens after the Persian war, that the states of Greece were in the habit of laying taxes on their colonies. But, independently of the circumstances already mentioned, which show that no such power belonged to the mother countries, or was exercised by them, everybody knows that the taxes in question originated in voluntary payments made to Athens as head of the league, by the Greek states confederated to protect themselves against the Persians. The treasure was at first kept in the central and sacred island of Delos. And though it be true that the Athenians, who had the ascendancy amongst the allies, were not long in perverting it to purposes of their own, that abuse did not alter the source or the original character of the contribution. It was set on foot by independent states, was paid into a common fund, and appropriated to a common object. And when this object was abandoned, and its payment was enforced by Athens, as if it had been a tribute legitimately due to her, she exacted it with the same rigour from states who were not, as from those who were, her colonies. Nor, when reproached with this unwarrantable conduct, had she anything better to allege in its excuse than the maxim, which though often acted upon is but seldom avowed, that it was the will of the gods that the weaker should in all cases submit to the stronger party!
It is plain from these statements, that the Grecian system of colonisation was entirely different from that of the moderns. Attempts were rarely, if ever, made by mother countries to interfere in the domestic affairs of their colonies. The commercial intercourse of the latter with other states was not subjected to any species of restraint but such as they might themselves impose. They had full liberty to make peace or war; and to contract offensive and defensive alliances with all countries which did not happen to be, at the time, in a state of hostility with their metropolis. Neither was there any positive law or institution to debar them from the exercise of this latter power. But it was opposed to the prevailing sentiment of the Grecian world. And except in a few anomalous instances, colonies were ranked amongst the allies of their parent states.
The Roman colonies were formed in a very different manner, and for very different purposes, from those of any other people of antiquity. Their foundation was not left to private adventurers, but was in all cases determined by the government at home, after a careful consideration of the circumstances. The Romans were the only ancient people who acted towards their vanquished enemies on the principles of an enlarged and liberal policy. And their extraordinary success is not more, perhaps, to be ascribed to their disciplined valour, and invincible constancy of purpose, than to their moderation. “What else,” says Tacitus, “occasioned the ruin of the Lacedæmonians and Athenians, notwithstanding they excelled in arms, except that they treated those they conquered as strangers and enemies?” And he adds, that the ascendancy of the Romans had resulted from their adopting, from the foundation of the city, a totally opposite policy; from their endeavouring to conciliate those they had subdued, and raising them to the rank of Roman citizens.1 And this is no flattering or exaggerated representation. Instead of attempting to enslave or exterminate the nations they subjugated, or irritating them by oppression and ill-treatment, the Roman legislators laboured to attach them to their interests, by showing them kindness, admitting them to a participation in many important privileges, and impressing them with a conviction that their well-being was identified with that of Rome. In the earlier ages of the republic some of the conquered states coalesced with, and became portions of, the Roman people. But after they had extended their conquests beyond the confines of Latium, some restrictions were laid on the privileges of the newly-associated or subdued citizens. Those who, by a ready submission to their arms, deserved the highest favours, were formed into municipia, or civic communities, which most commonly retained their ancient laws and institutions, in so far as these were not inconsistent with the supremacy of Rome. Sometimes, however, the municipia renounced their own laws to adopt those of the Romans, and being admitted into their tribes, had free access to the highest offices and honours.
Those parties who entered into alliances with Rome, were termed socii, or allies. They preserved, in so far as regarded their private and local affairs, a considerable portion of their previous independence. But in all matters of public or general importance, they were obliged to submit to the mandates of Rome, the senate fixing the number of troops and the amount of taxes they were bound to contribute to the army and the treasury of the commonwealth. On the whole, however, they were treated for a lengthened period with great moderation. And the good effects of this policy were strikingly displayed during the Carthaginian invasion. Notwithstanding his decisive victories, Hannibal did not succeed in gaining over one of the allies of Rome. Having, says Livy, been governed according to the dictates of justice and moderation, nothing could detach them from our interests; “nec abnuebant,” he adds, “quod unum vinculum fidei est, melioribus parere.”1
But it is of importance to observe that the practical influence of this wise and generous policy depended in great measure on the way in which it was carried out. In the earlier ages of the republic, and down to the destruction of Carthage, the generals and other officers were mostly actuated in their conduct towards the allies and subjects of Rome by the same enlightened and liberal views that pervaded the policy of the state. But at a later period, after the old Roman simplicity and purity had given way to refinement and corruption, the treatment of allied and subjugated nations was sadly changed for the worse. The proconsuls, prætors, quæstors, and other provincial rulers, being necessarily invested with very extensive powers, over which there was no efficient check or control, very frequently perverted them to the advancement of their own selfish ends; and did not scruple to practise every sort of extortion, and to connive at and perpetrate every abuse.
In the earlier periods of the Roman history, a people who had made a determined opposition to their arms, were usually, on being conquered, mulcted of some portion of their lands, which was, either wholly or in part, assigned to a colony from Rome. The Romans did not erect fortresses to keep their subjugated foes in check; for these would have been expensive to garrison and maintain; and might, had they fallen into the hands of their enemies, have given them means of protection and defence. They adopted the wiser and more politic plan of establishing, in the conquered countries, colonies of Roman citizens, whose property and even existence depended on the support and ascendancy of Rome. These have been truly described by Cicero as the propugnacula,1 or bulwarks of the state. At first they consisted only of small bodies of men, and were usually placed in the principal towns taken from the enemy. And agreeably to the spirit of the age, the allotments of land which were made for their support, were very limited indeed.2 But in the course of time, these early practices were greatly modified, the colonies sent out being much larger, their locality not being confined to towns, and the lands assigned to each colonist being more extensive. By associating and dealing with the inhabitants of the districts in which they were planted, the colonists diffused a knowledge of their language, arts, and religion. The native population were thus insensibly led to forget their ancient independence, to contract a reverence for the Roman name, and a desire of sharing in its honours and advantages.
It was formerly said of the English established in Ireland, that in no long time they became more Irish than the Irish themselves (Hibernis ipsis hiberniores). And it may, perhaps, be thought surprising that something similar did not happen in the case of the Roman colonists; and that, in the end, they did not identify their interests with those among whom they dwelt and were intimately connected, rather than with the distant city from which they were, perhaps remotely, descended. But with the exception of the one planted in Velitræ, the old capital of the Volsci, which espoused the cause of the Latins, none of the colonies of Rome appear to have renounced their allegiance, or taken part with her enemies. And nothing can show better than this, how skilfully they had been adapted to their grand purpose of bridling those among whom they were established.1
The liberality of the senate and people of Rome did not, however, keep pace with the eagerness of the allied and dependent states to obtain a complete participation in the rights and privileges of Roman citizens. They consequently endeavoured to extort by force what they could not obtain from the measured generosity of their masters; and, after a violent contest, they succeeded in their object. The Social War was terminated, 90 years bc, by the famous Julian law which conceded the freedom of the city, first, to the allies who had remained faithful to Rome, and soon after to the whole of Italy.
“From the foot of the Alps,” says Gibbon, “to the extremity of Calabria, all the natives of Italy were (henceforth) born citizens of Rome. Their partial distinctions were obliterated, and they insensibly coalesced into one great nation, united by language, manners, and civil institutions, and equal to the weight of a powerful empire. The republic gloried in her generous policy, and was frequently rewarded by the merit and services of her adopted sons. Had she always confined the distinction of Romans to the ancient families within the walls of the city, that immortal name would have been deprived of some of its noblest ornaments. Virgil was a native of Mantua; Horace was inclined to doubt whether he should call himself an Apulian or a Lucanian; it was in Padua that an historian was found worthy to record the majestic series of Roman victories. The patriot family of the Catos emerged from Tusculum; and the little town of Arpinum claimed the double honour of producing Marius and Cicero, the former of whom deserved, after Romulus and Camillus, to be styled the third founder of Rome, and the latter, after saving his country from the designs of Catiline, enabled her to contend with Athens for the palm of eloquence.”1
The establishment of colonies, destined to consolidate and strengthen the foundations of so great an empire, was obviously a matter of high public interest. It was usual to select the most distinguished citizens to conduct the colonists to their destination. Caius Gracchus, when tribune of the people, and all-powerful at Rome, was appointed, on his own solicitation, to lead a colony to Carthage; and Pompey was one of the commissioners chosen to distribute the deserted lands of Campania amongst new settlers.2 When the establishment of a colony was resolved upon, a law was passed, giving it a name, specifying the number of settlers of whom it was to consist, and the extent of land to be assigned to each. Those disposed to join in the emigration sent their names to the commissioners for the colony. If more volunteers came forward than were required, it was decided by lot who should be preferred. But as emigration, in the case at least of civic colonies, was a voluntary and not a compulsory act, when colonies were projected which were not supposed to hold out any very inviting prospects, it was sometimes difficult to find the requisite number of volunteers.3 When, however, the lists had been filled up, and other preparations made, the commissioners conducted the colonists to the territory on which they were to settle, distributed the lands amongst them, and assisted them in establishing a government.
This, as might be expected, was closely modelled on that of Rome. The colonists had the same laws, magistrates, religion, and fétes. The image of the metropolis was reflected in her colonies, throughout every part of her vast empire.1 The regulation of their civil affairs, in so far as these did not interfere with the public policy of the state, was left to the colonists. They passed such local acts as were necessary for the administration of justice, and inflicted such punishments on crimes as their peculiar circumstances seemed to require; but in all matters of importance they were subject to the superior and controlling authority of Rome. Many of their principal functionaries were sent from the capital. They supplied troops to the legions, and taxes to the imperial treasury. And the orders of government were as promptly obeyed in them as in the city itself.2
A distinction is frequently made in the ancient writers between Roman and Latin colonies. The former were wholly formed of Roman citizens; while the latter consisted either wholly of emigrants enjoying only the privileges accorded to the Latins, or partly of them, and partly of Roman citizens by whom they were joined. Inasmuch, however, as these auxiliaries renounced by this junction their distinctive privileges, it is probable that they generally belonged to the poorest class, and were attracted to the colony by a wish to share in the lands to be distributed among the settlers. The object of both descriptions of colonies was the same. And though they differed in some particulars, especially in regard to the rights and franchises of the colonists, they were sufficiently alike to warrant our considering them in the same point of view. After the Julian law, all distinctions between them were obliterated.
The colonists were in most respects Roman citizens. But previously to the Julian law, they have been supposed to have lost, so long at least as they continued to reside in the colonies, the right of voting in the assemblies at Rome, and of being elected to public offices in the city. This, however, is a very doubtful point; and some able critics contend that the loss of the suffrage affected the Latin colonies only, and not the Roman; while others, including Sigonius, with Spanheim, Beaufort, Barron, etc., have endeavoured to show that it affected the latter as well as the former. Practically, indeed, the question is of little importance, for, owing to the distance of most colonies from Rome, their right of suffrage in the assemblies of that city, supposing the colonists to have enjoyed it, could be rarely exercised, and consequently of only trifling value. When, however, the allies had been admitted, in virtue of the Julian law, to the freedom of the city, the same privilege was conceded, as a matter of course, to all descriptions of colonists.
Though it could no longer be denied, and was in some respects advantageous, the abolition of all distinctions between the colonists and other inhabitants of Italy, and the citizens of the metropolis, virtually terminated the old republican constitution. The Romans being practically unacquainted with the principle of representation, their public assemblies latterly degenerated into mere mobs. And from this time forward, any rich or powerful individual was able, by bringing up crowds of dependent voters from the adjoining towns and districts, to swamp those that were independent, and to exercise a paramount influence over the Assembly.
Livy mentions that previously to the second Punic war, about thirty colonies had been established in Italy; and there are good grounds for thinking that this number is considerably within the mark. Subsequently, however, to this contest, the senate seems to have become rather indisposed to found new colonies, and but few were established during the century which preceded the subversion of its power. The reasons for this growing dislike to colonisation seem pretty obvious. The supremacy of Rome had been fully established in all parts of Italy; and as every new colony received a grant of a greater or less extent of those public lands which furnished the larger portion of the national revenue, it tended in so far to impoverish the treasury. Cicero repeatedly complains, on the ground now stated, of the distribution of the public lands of Campania, on which Julius Cæsar settled twenty thousand colonists. “Taxes,” he observes, “being abolished in Italy, and the lands of Campania alienated, no public revenue is left except the 5 per cent. duty on the sale of slaves.”1 Colonies might, no doubt, have been settled beyond the confines of Italy, in Sicily, Spain, Macedonia, etc. But the senate does not seem to have approved of such a line of policy; for, with two exceptions only,2 no Roman colonies were established in the extra-Italian provinces during the republican government.
According to Velleius Paterculus, the senate declined to found colonies elsewhere than in Italy, lest they might become too powerful; and be tempted, by their distance from Rome, and the example of Carthage, Marseilles, and Syracuse, to throw off all dependence on their metropolis.3 And though it may have been unfounded, this apprehension was far from unreasonable. But under the emperors a different policy was followed. Rome had then become so powerful that she had nothing to fear from the defection of any colonies, however flourishing, and they were therefore multiplied on all sides. Julius Cæsar is said to have established upwards of 80,000 individuals in settlements out of Italy. He rebuilt Carthage and Corinth; and founded various colonies in Gaul, Spain, Macedonia, Asia Minor, and Syria. His successors followed his example. But their policy led them to establish colonies, in preference, on the frontiers of the empire, under the protection of the legions quartered in their vicinity, to whom, on their part, they were able to render important services.4
There were nine colonies in Britain; of which, exclusive of London, Bath, Gloucester, Chester, and Lincoln, still remain considerable cities.
During the flourishing period of the republic, the colonists were chiefly selected from among the lowest and poorest classes of citizens. But during its decline, and under the emperors, colonies were most commonly formed of troops who had received their discharge. From the contest between Marius and Sylla, down to the final ascendancy of Augustus, the civil wars which raged in every quarter of the Roman dominions were more numerous than those with barbarians, and incomparably more bloody and destructive. The leaders engaged in these suicidal struggles had no means of attaching or rewarding the bravery and devotion of the legions who supported their cause, except by a wholesale system of pillage. Whichever party was victorious, the result involved the confiscation of the property of their opponents, and its distribution among their own adherents. And while thousands of disbanded soldiers occupied the lands from which their former possessors had been violently ejected, they secured the obedience of the adjacent districts, and were ready, on any emergency, to crowd to the standards of their generals and benefactors. Sylla is said to have introduced this practice. His confiscations were on the widest scale, including whole cities and states. On lands so acquired, principally in Etruria, he is said to have at one time settled no fewer than twenty-three legions, which can hardly be estimated at less than 138,000 men. Julius Cæsar, and the triumvirs Octavius, Anthony, and Lepidus, followed the same plan. And after the battle of Actium made Augustus master of the Roman world, he proscribed most citizens of consideration who had been attached to the party of his rivals, and went far to extirpate the inhabitants of various districts of Italy. His confiscations were not, however, confined to the latter. And the vacant spaces both in the Peninsula and in the provinces, were re-peopled by the legions whose exertions had raised him to supreme power, and on whose fidelity he could safely depend. The organisation of these colonies did not differ materially from those by which they had been preceded, except that it was more entirely military.
But though admirable as contrivances for perpetuating the power and influence of the founders, in most other respects the military colonies were extremely prejudicial. The confiscations by which they were preceded, and the prospect of sharing in which filled the ranks of the contending armies, diffused in all quarters a sense of insecurity, paralysed all sorts of industry, and were especially ruinous to agriculture. The verses in which Virgil laments the evils inflicted on the expatriated inhabitants of the district round Mantua, where Augustus established a military colony, might have been repeated in most parts of Italy:—
And after the old inhabitants had been forcibly removed, their place could not be said to be filled by the troops to whom their lands were assigned. The latter, who frequently belonged to distant countries, habituated to war and bloodshed, and to all manner of excesses, were about the least fitted to become useful colonists. Not a few of them, indeed, voluntarily abandoned their possessions, while others sold them to those who supplied their place with slaves. It is difficult to exaggerate the irreparable injury which was done to Italy by this system. Those large pastoral estates, and that slave-cultivation, which had so powerful and so deleterious an influence over Italian husbandry and population, may be principally ascribed to the confiscations and the military colonies of Sylla and his successors.
It is evident from this brief sketch of the ancient system of colonisation, that with the exception, perhaps, of those founded by the Carthaginians, none of the colonies of antiquity bore any considerable resemblance to those of modern times. The Greek colonies were in every essential particular really independent. The mother cities did not presume to interfere in their internal affairs; and the connection which subsisted between them, was limited to an intercourse of good offices—to a demonstration of respect and attachment on the one hand, and of regard and protection on the other. The Roman colonies again were held in the strictest dependency upon, and subjection to, Rome. The Roman maxim was, Colonia nudum instrumentum est populi mittentis, et migrat non ut cives esse desinant sed ut alibi habitent; indeque manent sub potestate et imperio mittentium. They were not established that they might become independent, but that they might help to extend and consolidate the empire of which they formed the bulwarks. They were, in fact, military stations, garrisons employed to ensure the subjection of conquered provinces. They received their orders from Rome, and in all cases yielded a ready obedience to her commands. But there is no evidence to show, or reasons for thinking, that she ever troubled herself about their trade. She left them to deal on their own terms with those with whom they chose to maintain an intercourse.
[1 ] Heeren’s “Ancient History,” p. 160. Eng. Trans.
[1 ] Hampton’s Polybius, i. p. 311, ed. 1772.
[1 ] This is the date given to it by Barbeyrac, “Histoire des Anciens Traitez,” i. 222.
[2 ] Barron on the “Colonisation of the Free States of Antiquity,” p. 14; Brougham’s “Colonial Policy,” i. 21.
[1 ] See the Essay on the Origin and Privileges of Ancient Colonies, in Heyne’s “Opuscula Academica,” i. pp. 204-227.
[1 ] Bougainville, Sur les Colonies, p. 84, etc.
[2 ] Afterwards Dyrachium, and now Durazzo.
[1 ] Lib. i.
[1 ] Annal. lib. xi. cap. 24. Cicero is equally decisive:—“Illud vero sine ulla dubitatione maxime nostrum fundavit imperium, et populi Romani nomen auxit, quod princeps ille, creator hujus urbis, Romulus, fœdere Sabino doeuit, etiam hostibus recipiendis augeri hanc civitatem opportere; cujus auctoritate et exemplo nunquam est intermissa a majoribus nostris largitio et communicatio civitatis.”—Pro Balbo, cap. 13.
[1 ] Lib. xxii. cap. 13.
[1 ] Agrar. ii. cap. 27.
[2 ] Niebuhr, ii. p. 48. Eng. Trans.
[1 ] On the suppression of the final revolt of the Latins, Velitræ was very severely dealt with. Its walls were pulled down, its lands confiscated, and its inhabitants banished beyond the Tiber. (Liv. lib. viii. cap. 14.) During Hannibal’s invasion of Italy, some of the Roman colonies declined, on pretence of inability, to furnish farther supplies of men and money. This indifference to the common cause was overlooked at the time. But after the defeat of Hannibal, the offending cities were glad, by promptly furnishing the increased supplies which were then demanded, to avert the severe castigation with which they would otherwise have been sure to be visited. (Liv. lib. xxix. cap. 15.)
[1 ] Decline and Fall, cap. ii.
[2 ] Beaufort, “Republique Romaine,” ii. 238, 4to.
[3 ] Smith’s “Dictionary of Antiquities,” art. “Colonia.”
[1 ] “Effigies parva simulacraque populi Romani.”—Gellius, lib. xvi. cap. 13.
[2 ] Barron’s “Colonisation of Free States,” pp. 84, 85.
[1 ] Ad. Att., lib. ii. Ep. 16.
[2 ] Aix, and Narbonne, both in Gaul.
[3 ] Lib. ii. cap. 15.
[4 ] Beaufort, ii. 258.
[1 ] Ecl. i. lin. 71.