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Publius Cornelius Tacitus, The Works of Tacitus, vol. 1 (Gordon’s Discourses, Annals (Books 1-3)) [120]

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Publius Cornelius Tacitus, The Works of Tacitus. In Four Volumes. To which are prefixed, Political Discourses upon that Author by Thomas Gordon. The Second Edition, corrected. (London: T. Woodward and J. Peele, 1737). Vol. 1. http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/784

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About this Title:

The historical works of Tacitus are a history of the period from A.D. 14 to 96 in thirty volumes. Although many of the works were lost (only books 1-5 of the Histories and 1-6 and 11-16 of the Annals survive), enough remains to provide a good sense of Tacitus’s political and moral philosophy. He recognized the necessity for strong rulers but argued that more should be done to manage the succession of power and allow for the ascension of talent. Tacitus asserted that it was the dynastic ambitions of Rome’s many emperors that caused the decline of moral and political life and precluded the possibility of recruiting leaders of real ability. Moreover, the dynastic temptation caused political instability because military force was now required for political change. His works point to the necessity of systematic institutional restraints on power for the preservation of liberty. Gordon’s translation and his lengthy Discourses on Tacitus bring Tacitus’ ideas up to date and apply them to the British state of the early 18th century.

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Edition: current; Page: [i]
THE WORKS OF TACITUS.
IN FOUR VOLUMES.
To which are prefixed, Political Discourses Upon That AUTHOR.
VOL. I. The Second Edition, corrected.
LONDON:
Printed for T. Woodward, and J. Peele; And Sold by J. Osborn, at the Golden Ball, in Pater - noster Row.
m.dcc.xxxvii.
Edition: current; Page: [ii] Edition: current; Page: [[iii]]

TO The Right Honourable Sir Robert Walpole,

First Commissioner of the Treasury, Chancellor and Under-Treasurer of the Exchequer, one of his Majesty’s Most Honourable Privy Council, and Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter.

SIR,

AS You were the first who promoted the following Work in a public manner, I take liberty to present it to the Public under your name, and to do an act of acknowledgment Edition: current; Page: [iv]for one of generosity. Be pleased to be the Patron of a Book which under your Patronage was composed. It is natural and common for men who profess Letters, to seek the countenance and protection of Men of Power; and from such of them as to greatness of fortune were happy enough to join greatness of mind, they have not sought in vain.

Power without Politeness and Complacency, is at best distasteful, often hated; amiable when it knows how to condescend. It is thus that men in high stations avoid envy from such as stand below them. He who cannot rise to their height, finds a sort of retaliation and amends in their coming down to him. No Man is pleased with a behaviour which represents him as contemptible. To make us think well of ourselves, by another’s shewing us that we are well thought of by him, is a generous Edition: current; Page: [v]and artful civility: a lesson which stately and rebuking men want to learn. A mean man of great quality and figure (for such incongruities we often meet) teaches others to scorn him, by his shewing that he scorns them. Affability therefore, accompanied with good sense, which will always guard it from exceeding, is the art of keeping great Splendor from growing offensive to the rest of the world.

It must be owned, that no Affability, even the most flowing; no Genius, even the most elevated, can escape particular distastes; and from the dislike of Persons to that of Actions the transition is easy and too common. Men do not easily discern good qualities and intentions in one, to whom they do not wish well. All men, even those of the most unexceptionable Characters, are apt to form their judgment over-hastily, Edition: current; Page: [vi]when their passions are warmed: and from this cause it has often proceeded, that the inevitable misfortunes of times and accidents have been charged upon such, whose interest and study it was to prevent them. This is one of the evils and uneasinesses inseparably attending every Administration. When a State is under heavy burdens and difficulties, the means to relieve and support it will be, almost always, proportionably heavy: and as whatever proves heavy, however necessary, is easily called Oppression; so the hand, which administers a remedy, may, merely because it is felt, be easily styled oppressive.

Besides the reason which I have already given for this Address, I have another; one taken from the Character of my Author. As he was a Man of Affairs, a great Minister, I chuse to present him to another; to one who having Edition: current; Page: [vii]been long engaged in public Life, having had long experience of men, seen far into their bent and foibles, and been conversant with the mysteries and primary operations of Government; can thence readily judge whether Tacitus has refined too much in his Politics, or been over-severe in his Censures upon mankind: or whether this charge has not been chiefly raised by men of speculation, who, however furnished with Learning, were yet unacquainted with the transactions of States, and ignorant of human nature; or perhaps willing to do honour to it, or to themselves, at the expence of Truth. Men are to be known, not by Theories taken up in closets, but by Commerce with men; and best of all in those great scenes of public Life, where You, Sir, have sustained, for so many years, a high and important part, and gained eminent experience Edition: current; Page: [viii]as well as the just opinion of great sufficiency.

I could here, agreeably to the usual style and purpose of Dedications, say a great many advantageous things, without risquing the usual censure incurred by Dedicators. But such things I would much rather say of you, than to you. In this place, I shall only profess to be, what I intirely am, with perfect truth, and high regard,

SIR, Your most obliged, and most obedient humble Servant,
T. GORDON.
Edition: current; Page: [ix]

THE CONTENTS OF THE DISCOURSES.

  • DISCOURSE I. Upon the former English Translations of Tacitus.
    • Sect. I. OF the Translation by Greenway and Sir H. Savil. Page 1
    • II. Of the English Translation by several hands. p. 2
    • III. Of the last Translation of the first Annal. p. 3
    • IV. Of the last Translation of the second Annal. p. 5
    • V. Of the last Translation of the third Annal. ibid.
    • VI. Of the last Translation of the fourth, fifth, and sixth Annals. p. 8
    • VII. Of the last Translation of the eleventh Annal. p. 10
    • VIII. Of the last Translation of the twelfth and thirteenth Annals. p. 11
    • IX. Of the last Translation of the fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth Annals. p. 14
    Edition: current; Page: [x]
  • DISCOURSE II. Upon Tacitus and his Writings.
    • Sect. I. The Character of Tacitus. p. 19
    • II. How much he excells in Description and Force. p. 21
    • III. Further instances of the justness of his Genius, and of his great Thoughts. p. 24
    • IV. The Morality of Tacitus, and his spirit virtuous and humane. p. 27
    • V. The Stile of Tacitus, how pertinent and happy: his Obscurity, a charge of the moderns only. p. 29
    • VI. A general Character of his Works. p. 33
    • VII. Tacitus vindicated from the imputation of deriving events from counsels too subtle and malevolent. p. 34
    • VIII. More Proofs of the Candour and Veracity of Tacitus. p. 38
    • IX. Mr. Bayle ’s unjust censure of Tacitus; and how well the latter knew and observed the Laws of History. p. 43
    • X. An Apology for the wrong account by Tacitus given of the Jews and Christians, and for his disregard of the Religion then received. p. 44
    • XI. The foolish Censure of Boccalini and others upon Tacitus. p. 52
    • XII. Of the several Commentators and Translators of Tacitus. p. 53
    • XIII. A Conjecture concerning the modern Languages, more largely concerning the English. p. 56
    • XIV. A Conjecture concerning the present state of the English Tongue, with an account of the present Work. p. 60
    Edition: current; Page: [xi]
  • DISCOURSE III. Upon Cæsar the Dictator.
    • Sect. I. Of Cæsar’s Usurpation, and why his Name is less odious than that of Catiline. p. 64
    • II. Of the public Corruption by Cæsar promoted or introduced; with his bold and wicked Conduct. p. 66
    • III. Cæsar might have purified and reformed the State; but far different were his intentions. His Art, good Sense, and continued ill Designs. p. 68
    • IV. The probability of his waxing more cruel, had he reigned much longer. p. 71
    • V. Cæsar no lawful Magistrate, but a public Enemy. p. 74
    • VI. Of the share which Casualties had, in raising the Name and Memory of Cæsar. The Judgment of Cicero concerning him. p. 76
    • VII. How vain it is to extol any Designs of his for the Glory of the Roman people. p. 78
    • VIII. Of his Death; and the rashness of ascribing to divine Vengeance the fate of such as slew him. p. 79
  • DISCOURSE IV. Upon Octavius Cæsar, afterwards called Augustus.
    • Sect. I. Of the base and impious Arts by which he acquired the Empire. p. 81
    • II. Of the vindictive spirit of Octavius, and his horrid Cruelties. p. 82 Edition: current; Page: [xii]
    • III. Of the treachery, ingratitude, and further cruelties of Octavius: that the same were wanton and voluntary. p. 86
    • IV. Of the popular Arts and Accidents which raised the Character of Augustus. p. 88
    • V. Though Augustus courted the people and particular Senators, he continued to depress public Liberty and the Senate. p. 92
    • VI. What Fame he derived from the Poets and other flattering Writers of his time. p. 93
    • VII. Of the false Glory sought and acquired by Augustus from the badncss of his Successors. p. 95
    • VIII. The Character of Augustus. p. 96
    • IX. Of the Helps and Causes which acquired and preserved the Empire to Augustus. His great Power and Fortune, no proof of extraordinary Ability. p. 97
  • DISCOURSE V. Of Governments free and arbitrary, more especially that of the Cæsars.
    • Sect. I. The Principle of God’s appointing and protecting Tyrants, an Absurdity not believed by the Romans. p. 100
    • II. The reasonableness of resisting Tyrants asserted, from the ends of Government and the Nature of the Deity. Opinions the most impious and extravagant, why taught and how easily swallowed. p. 102
    • III. The danger of slavish Principles to such as trust in them, and the notorious insecurity of lawless Might. p. 106
    • IV. Princes of little and bad Minds, most greedy of Power: Princes of large and good Minds chuse to rule by Law and Limitations. p. 108 Edition: current; Page: [xiii]
    • V. The Wisdom and Safety of ruling by standing Laws, to Prince and People. p. 111
    • VI. The Condition of free States, how preferable to that of such as are not free. p. 113
    • VII. The Misery and Insecurity of the Cæsars from their overgrown Power. p. 115
    • VIII. A representation of the Torments and Horrors under which Tiberius lived, p. 117
    • IX. The terrible Operation of lawless Power upon the Minds of Princes; and how it changes them. p. 119
    • X. The wretched Fears accompanying the possession of arbitrary Power, exemplified in Caligula and other Roman Emperors. p. 121
    • XI. What it is that constitutes the Security and Glory of a Prince; and how a Prince and People become estranged from each other. p. 122
    • XII. How nearly it behoves a Prince to be beloved and esteemed by his Subjects. The terrible Consequences of their mutual Mistrust and Hatred. p. 12S
    • XIII. Public Happiness only then certain, when the Laws are certain and inviolable. p. 127
  • DISCOURSE VI. Of the old Law of Treason by the Emperors perverted and extended.
    • Sect. I. The antient Purpose of that Law: the Politics of Augustus in stretching it. p. 129
    • II. The Deification of the Emperors, what an engine of Tyranny, and snare to the Roman People. p. 133
    • III. The Images of the Emperors, how sacred they became, and how pernicious. p. 135
    • IV. What a destructive Calamity the Law of Majesty grew, and how fast Treasons multiplied under its Name. p. 138
    Edition: current; Page: [xiv]
  • DISCOURSE VII. Of the Accusations, and Accusers under the Emperors.
    • Sect. I. The pestilent Employment of these Men, their Treachery and Encouragement. p. 141
    • II. The traiterous Methods taken to circumvent and convict Innocence. The spirit of accusing how common, the dread of it how universal; and the misery of the Times. p. 146
    • III. Plots feigned or true, an ample field for Accusations and Cruelty; and upon what miserable Evidence Executions were decreed. p. 148
    • IV. What ridiculous Causes produced capital Guilt. The Spirit of the Emperor Constantius; with somewhat of his Father Constantine. p. 151
    • V. The black and general carnage made under Constantius, by his bloody Minister Paulus Catena, for certain Acts of Superstition and Curiosity. p. 153
    • VI. The Ravages of the Accusers continued; their Credit with the Emperors; yet generally meet their Fate. The Falshood of these Princes: the melancholy State of those Times. p. 155
    • VII. The increase of Tyranny. Innocence and Guilt not measured by the Law, but by the Emperor’s Pleasure and Malice. p. 160
    • VIII. What Tacitus means by Instrumenta regni. p. 162
    • IX. How much these Emperors hated, and how fast they destroyed all great and worthy Men. Their dread of every Man for any Reason. p. 164
    • X. Reflections upon the Spirit of a Tyrant. With what Wantonness the Roman Emperors shed the Edition: current; Page: [xv]blood of the Roman People. The blindness of such as assisted the Usurpation of Cæsar and Augustus. p. 167
    • XI. Why under such Tyrants, the Senate continued to subsist. p. 170
    • XII. How the unrelenting Cruelty of the Emperors hastened the Dissolution of the Empire. The bad Reigns of Constantine and Constantius. The good Reign of Julian. The indiscreet behaviour of the Christians. Continued Tyranny: and end of the Empire. p. 172
    • XIII. The Excellency of a limited Monarchy, especially of our own. p. 175
  • DISCOURSE VIII. Of the general Debasement of Spirit and Adulation which accompany Power unlimited.
    • Sect. I. The motives of Flattery considered. Its vileness, and whence it begins. p. 178
    • II. Men of elevated Minds irreconcileable to Arbitrary Power, and thence suspected by it. The Court paid to it always insincere, sometimes expedient, but seldom observes any bounds. p. 183
    • III. The excessive Power of Imperial freed Slaves; with the scandalous Submission and Honours paid them by the Romans. p. 185
    • IV. The excessive Flattery of the Senate, how ill judged, p. 188
    • V. The free judgment of Posterity a powerful warning to Princes, to reign with moderation and to detest Flatterers. The Name and Memory of the Roman Tyrants how treated. p. 190
    • VI. How lamentably Princes are debauched and misled by Flatterers. p. 193 Edition: current; Page: [xvi]
    • VII. The pestilent tendency of flattering Counsels, and the Glory of such as are sincere. p. 195
  • DISCOURSE IX. Upon Courts.
    • Sect. I. Of Freedom of Speech; and how reasonable it is. p. 199
    • II. The Spirit of Courtiers what: some good ones. p. 202
    • III. The Arts of Courtiers; their Cautiousness, and its Causes. p. 204
    • IV. Of Slanderers and Tale-bearers in Courts: the Folly of Craft. p. 208
    • V. How much worthless People abound in Courts, and why. p. 212
    • VI. The remarkable Fickleness and Insincerity of Courtiers. p. 217
  • DISCOURSE X. Of Armies and Conquest.
    • Sect. I. The Burden and Danger of maintaining great Armies. p. 219
    • II. Great Armies the best disciplined, whether thence the less formidable to a Country. Their Temper and Views. p. 221
    • III. Princes ruling by military Power, ever at the Mercy of military Men. p. 223
    • IV. Instances of the Boldness and Fury of the Roman Soldiery. p. 226
    • V. The Humour of Conquering, how injudicious, vain, and destructive. p. 228
    • VI. The Folly of conquering further urged and exemplified. p. 232
Edition: current; Page: [[1]]

DISCOURSES UPON TACITUS.

DISCOURSE I.: Upon the former English Translations of Tacitus.

Sect. I.: Of the Translation by Greenway and Sir H. Savill.

I AM going to offer to the publick the Translation of a Work, which for wisdom and force, is in higher fame and consideration, than almost any other that has yet appeared amongst men; a Work often translated into many Languages, seldom well into any, into ours worst of all. The first was done in Queen Elizabeth’s reign, the Annals by one Greenway, and four Books of the History by Sir Henry Savill, a man exceeding learned, and esteemed for his critical notes upon Tacitus, as well as for those upon St. Chrysostom, of whose works he has published an elaborate edition. But though he was an able Grammarian, and understood the Antiquities in Tacitus, and his words, his Translation is a Edition: current; Page: [2]mean performance; his stile is stiff, spiritless, and obscure; he drops many of his Author’s ideas, preserves none of his turns, and starves his meaning even where he best conveys it. ’Tis a mere Translation, that rather of one word into another, than that of a dead tongue into a living, or of sense into sense. The Roman idiom is forced and wire-drawn into the English, a task altogether impossible; and not adopted and naturalized, a thing possible enough; and out of a Book prosuse in eloquence, fine spirit and images, he has drawn a work harsh, halting and barren. Ogilby is not more unlike Virgil. Greenway is still worse than Savill; he had none of his learning, he had all his faults and more: The former has at least performed like a school-master, the latter like a school-boy.

Sect. II.: Of the English Translation by several hands.

ABOUT a hundred years after them another English Translation was undertaken by several hands, Mr. Dryden and others. Dryden has translated the first Book; but done it almost literally from Mr. Amelot de la Houssaye, with so much haste and little exactness, that besides his many mistakes, he has introduced several Gallicisms: he follows the French author servilely, and writes French English, rather than trust him out of his eye. It is true, la Houssaye is an honest Translator, and one of the foremost: He has gone as far as the thirteenth Annal inclusive; but his phrases are often weak and trifling, and he is subject to all that faintness and circumlocution for which the French tongue is noted. Dryden copies his manner as well as his meaning. It was pure hurry and want of application; for he was a fine writer, had a copious imagination, a good ear, and Edition: current; Page: [3]a flowing stile. Strike away all that is bad in his works, enough will remain to shew him a great Poet, a man of parts and a master of language. Even his many enemies and opposers shew the considerableness of the man; but his excellencies in many things excuse not his faults in others; his Translation of Tacitus is poor and languid, no where derived from the original, generally full of mistakes; at best it is only the French Translator ill translated, or ill imitated.

Sect. III.: Of the last Translation of the first Annal.

TACITUS talking of the latter end of Augustus his reign, says, domi res tranquillæ. Eadem magistratuum vocabula. These are two sentences independent of each other; yet Mr. Dryden translates, “all things at Rome being in a settled peace, the Magistrates still retained their former names;” as if the one was all the cause of the other. This blunder is owing to la Houssaye ill understood: tout étoit tranquille à Rome, les Magistrats avoient les mêmes noms: if instead of avoient, he had said ayant, the translation would have come pretty near the French. But the English Translator does not seem to understand French, though he has no other guide, else how could he so miserably mistake, pars multo maxima imminentis dominos variis rumoribus disserebant; as to render it, “the greater part employed their time in various discourses of future matters?” From this it is plain he never looked into the original, or understood it not. He was misled by the French which he appears here to have as little understood; la plus part se plaisoient à faire divers jugemens de ceux qui aloient devenir leurs Maitres.

Edition: current; Page: [4]

But more wretched still is what follows: Tacitus represents the Romans discoursing, during the decline of Augustus, concerning the next successors in view, Agrippa Posthumus and Tiberius, and makes them say of Livia the Empress; accedere matrem muliebri impotentia: serviendum feminæ, &c. “His mother of a violent and imperious nature, according to the sex themselves, subjected to the slavery of a woman.” This is jargon and nonsense, tho’ the author seems to have followed the French; qui (Tibere) a une mere imperieuse & violente, selon la coutume du sexe, à laquelle il faudra obéir en esclaves. Well may he be said to follow the French Translator blindly; and less is the wonder that he adopts his Gallicisms where he happens to understand him.

When Drusus, the son of Tiberius, entred the camp of the seditious Legions in Pannonia, and the mutinous soldiery were gathered round him; Tacitus makes a charming and strong description of their behaviour, with the several vicissitudes of their passions, which shifted strangely according as they dreaded his person and authority, or recalled their grievances, and surveyed their own numbers and strength; and he concludes the whole, according to his custom, with a fine reflection: Illi, quotiens oculos ad multitudinem retulerant, vocibus truculentis strepere; rursum, viso Cæsare, trepidare. Murmur incertum, atrox clamor, & repente quies; diversis animorum motibus, pavebant, terrebantque. This is all pretty well translated by La Houssaye. I shall only quote the last clause or reflection: par des mouvemens tout differens, ils prenoient l’epouvante, & la donnoient; and this I quote only to shew how impotently the English Translator hangs by the French phrase and takes it literally: “by their different motions, says he, they gave and took terror in their turns.”

Edition: current; Page: [5]

Is not this pithy and sounding? There are numbers of such instances both as to language and strength; insomuch that I have been sometimes tempted to think it not to be Dryden’s: but I have many assurances of its being his. I take it for granted it was a jobb for the Booksellers, carelessly performed by one, who wanted no capacity, but only pains or encouragement to have done it much better, perhaps very well.

Sect. IV.: Of the last Translation of the second Annal.

THE next Annal is translated by another hand, less negligently, but with small taste and vigour; no resemblance of the original, where in every sentence almost there occur surprizing images and turns, which no where appear in the Translation. ’Tis not the fire of Tacitus, but his embers quenched with English words cold and Gothick. Let any one read particularly the two speeches of Arminius and Maroboduus to their different armies just before they engaged, cap. 45. and 46. and he will find that between Tacitus and his Translator, there is just as much difference as between a living soul and a cold carcase. Yet the lifeless Translation of this Annal compared with that of the third by a different hand, is an able performance.

Sect. V.: Of the last Translation of the third Annal.

THIS translation is in truth wretched beyond belief; ’tis below drollery, and a sort of a middle between bad sense and good nonsense. Tacitus says of the arrival of the fleet, which brought Agrippina from Asia with her husband’s Edition: current; Page: [6]funeral urn, and her children now fatherless; classis paulatim successit, non alacri, ut adsolet, remigio, sed cunctis ad tristitiam compositis, An. 3. c. 1. “The fleet (says the Translator) came in, not rowing briskly, as they used to do, but slowly, and with sorrow in their countenances;” a translation worthy of one who could make Tacitus say elsewhere, “Drusus left the City to enquire his fortune:” Would not one think that he went to some remote country to consult a cunning man? Or meant the Translator to joke upon the religion and solemnities of the Romans? The words of Tacitus which he thus perverts, or rather quite drops, are, Drusus urbe egressus repetendis auspiciis:Drusus went without the gates, to repeat the formality of the auspices.”

Tacitus at the end of his discourse upon laws, says, Cæsar Augustus, potenliæ securus, quæ Triumviratu jusserat, abolevit, deditque jura, quis pace & Principe uleremur: acriera ex eo vincla, inditi custodes, & lege Papia Poppæa præmiis inducti, ut si &c. sed altius penetrabant, (custodes, scil.) Urbemque & Italiam, & quod usquam civium, corripuerant, multorumque excisi status; & terror omnibus intentabatur, nisi Tiberius statuendo remedio, &c. Now observe the sorce, and elegance, and truth, with which this is rendered by the Translator; “Augustus Cesar being settled in his authority, he abolished those things he commanded in the Triumvirate, and gave new laws to be observed in time of peace, and under a Monarch. And that they might be the better kept, he appointed some to look after them:” [as if the laws had been a flock of sheep] “The law Papia Poppea provided, &c. But the informers went farther, not only in the City, but thro’ all Italy, where any citizens were, ruined many families and frightened all. To remedy which Tiberius,Edition: current; Page: [7]&c. A little farther Tacitus says, adversis animis acceptum, quod filio Claudii socer Sejanus destinaretur: polluisse nobilitatem familiæ videbantur, suspectumque jam nimiæ spei Sejanum ultro extulisse. “There were (says the Translator) great discontents upon Claudius’s son’s being to marry Sejanus’s daughter as a disparagement to him, [to what him? Sejanus was the last named.] “But Sejanus, whose ambition was suspected, was much exalted upon it.”

Tacitus discoursing of the revolt of Florus and Sacrovir, and representing the sentiments of the people upon that and other alarms, says, increpabant Tiberium, quod in tanto rerum motu, libellis accusatorum insumeret operam. An Julium Sacrovirum majestatis crimine reum in Senatu fore? Extitisse tandem viros, qui cruentas epistolas armis cohiberent: miseram pacem vel bello bene mutari. Tanto impensius in securitatem compositus, neque loco, neque vultu mutato, sed ut solitum per illos dies egit: altitudine animi, an compererat modica esse & vulgatis leviora. Hear how this is translated. Blaming “Tiberius for employing himself in reading informers accusations where there was so great commotions. What, said they, have the Senate found Julius Sacrovir guilty of treason? Some have had the courage to suppress by arms the bloody libels of a Tyrant; war is a good change for a miserable peace. But he neither changed place nor countenance; affecting to shew he was not afraid, either through courage, or that he knew things to be less than they were reported.” Was ever good sense so vilely burlesqued? were one to study to ridicule Tacitus, what more miserable stuff, void of all sense and sound, could one make him utter? It puts me in mind of a notable compliment in an address from a learned Society to the late King; “We perceive that you are one that is not Edition: current; Page: [8]afraid that posterity should make mention of you;” or words of the like force and beauty. Neither have I picked out these passages invidiously, as the worst: I have read the whole Annal, and I know no part of it better done.

Sect. VI.: Of the last Translation of the fourth, fifth, and sixth Annal.

THE fourth, fifth, and sixth Annals are done by another hand, and poorly done. In him you find little of the true meaning of Tacitus; of his spirit and manner nothing at all; but frequent deviations from his sense, and even from all sense. Tacitus in the Character of Sejanus, says; intus summa apiscendi libido, ejusque causa modo largitio & luxus, sæpius industria ac vigilantia, haud minus noxiæ, quotiens parando regno finguntur. Who but the Translator would have discovered, that by these words Tacitus meant to declare, that “virtues are as dangerous as vices, when they meet with a turbulent spirit aspiring to Empire?” Yet the Translation of this passage is as just as that of many others. Sometimes he drops whole phrases and passages, such as he knows not what to make of, and oftner loses out of sight the meaning of others however plain.

Tacitus says, ut series futuri in Agrippinam exitii inciperet, Claudia Pulchra sobrina ejus postulatur, accusante Domitio Afro. Is recens prætura, modicus dignationis, & quoquo facinore properus clarescere, crimen impudicitiæ, adulterum Furnium, veneficia in Principem, & devotiones objectabat. “To begin the ruin of Agrippina, [how insipid and defective!] Domitius Afer lately Pretor [not a word of modicus dignationis] and ready to engage in any thing to gain himself credit [observe the force!] accuses Claudia Pulchra of adultery Edition: current; Page: [9]with Furnius [the words sobrina ejus, which explain the rest, and the word impudicitiæ, one of the articles of the charge, are omitted] “and to have a design on the life of that Prince with her charms and person:” What Prince? Furnius was none; Tiberius has not been mentioned in several pages: it is nonsense; and “a design on his life with her charms and person,” multiplies the nonsense.

What follows fares not much better: Agrippina semper atrox, tum & periculo propinquo accensa, pergit ad Tiberium.Agrippina always of a violent temper, but at present extremely enraged, runs immediately to Tiberius, &c.” He drops periculo propinquæ, as useless words.

Tacitus says, that amongst other reasons assigned why Tiberius retired from Rome, some alledged the authority assumed by his mother; who having persuaded Augustus, contrary to his inclinations, to postpone Germanicus and adopt Tiberius, did afterwards upbraid Tiberius with so signal a service, and even challenged the Empire as her own: idque Augusta exprobrabat, reposcebat. “The Empress (says the Translator) seemed to reproach him with that favour, and requested it for her son.” What gibberish! she had but one son, and he had it. She, forsooth, reproached her son Tiberius for having given him the Sovereignty, and from the same Tiberius claimed it for the same Tiberius. Sejanus, once when a cave fell in upon Tiberius and his company, covered the Emperor with his own body: major ex eo, says Tacitus. “This admirable and undoubted fidelity,” says the Translator; which Tacitus never said nor meant. How miserably too does he translate, ingentium bellorum cladem æquavit malum improvisum: ejus initium simul & finis exstitit. “Happened a calamity Edition: current; Page: [10]in which we sustained as great a loss as in the greatest defeats, though it was all done in an instant.” I will venture to say, that this is as well done as any other part of all the three Books.

Sect. VII.: Of the last Translation of the eleventh Annal.

THE eleventh Annal is translated by another Gentleman; but not with another spirit: it is like the rest, full of feebleness and mistakes and low phrases. I shall here give some instances. The Pleaders, in a speech to the Emperor Claudius, in defence of taking fees, and in answer to Silius, who alledged against them the example of certain great Orators of the former age who had never taken any; say, facile Asinium & Messalam, inter Antonium & Augustum bellorum præmiis refertos, &c. c. 7. “Asinius and Messala, who feathered their nests well in the Civil Wars ’twixt Anthony,&c. This is the Language of a chairman, but of a piece with the rest, such as, a King’s a playing the good fellow; b trumping up Arminiuss title; c being equipped with money; d his reputation began to exert itself far and near; e saw but one poor snake; f more bloody than he ought to be; Senators g squabling in the house; A silver mine h which bled but a little; i It was not come to that yet; k Advice hurts not the guiltless; l Men had Edition: current; Page: [11]recourse to impudence when their ill actions came to be discovered: m others were in the same predicament with them in that matter; n Claudius as he was easily angry, so he was easily pleased; o Matrimony the last comfort of those who give themselves to lewdness; p Assidavits of her lewdness; q The vast treasures given to Silius for his drudgery. Such cant, jargon, and ill-favoured nonsense, is called the Translation of Tacitus.

Sect. VIII.: Of the last Translation of the twelfth and thirteenth Annals.

THE two succeeding Annals are Englished by another hand, and miserably Englished they are; rather worse than the former. ’Tis all wretched tittle-tattle, unmeaning and ill-bred; nor could any number of words thrown together at random, without thought or idea, be more shallow or vulgar, more destitute of ornament or sound. To pass by his top Orators; Knack of speaking; Staving off a war any ways. — He being rectine. — The Emperor himself their worthy. Yea, Gentlemen and Senators do make no other original to themselves but from thence; and the like gibberish which occurs in every sentence: I shall here transcribe a passage where he seems to aim at a meaning and to exceed himself: “ r The power his mother had over him Edition: current; Page: [12]“(Nero) dwindled away by degrees, and Nero fell in love with Acte, a freed-woman, and made Otho and Claudius Senecio the confidents of his new Amour, one of which (to wit) Otho, was of a consular family, but Senecio, a son of one of Cesar’s freed-men; who at first without the mother’s knowledge, and since in spite of all she could do, worked himself by degrees into the Prince’s affections, by luxury and secret ways, that no body knew, which the best friends he had, indulged him in, and were pleased to see him take up and content himself with that woman, a thing which did no body an injury: for he had the misfortune to dislike his wife Octavia (whether it be that we naturally slight what we can have, and eagerly pursue what is forbidden) of an illustrious family, and of an unspotted virtue, and ’twas feared he might fall into a vein of debauching women of quality, if he was checked in that intrigue: but Agrippina could not bear that a freed-woman should nose her,” &c. That “a freed-woman should beard her,” says the old Translation.

How clear, how strong, and how just! This is in the thirteenth Book: take one or two samples more out of the twelfth. “ s ’Twas enacted that Edition: current; Page: [13]if they (women) married (to slaves) without their master’s consent, they should remain such” [who should, the women or the slaves? the former were none, and could not remain what they were not; and to say it of the latter, is nonsense.] “Barea Soranus, Consul elect, moved that Pallas (whom Cesar said was the first that brought it into the House) should have the Pretorial honours, and fifteen millions of Sesterces, and, that Scipio Cornelius might have the Thanks of the House, for that being descended from the Kings of Arcadia, he forgot his birth and quality to serve the publick, and was contented to be one of the Prince’s servants. Claudius assured them, that Pallas, satisfied with the honour the Senate had done him, would live as retiredly as he used to do. In short an act was made,” &c.

These two passages are as brightly translated as any in the two Books, indeed beyond most passages.

I shall quote one more; it is in the thirteenth Annal, cap. 26. It was importunately urged in the Senate that such freedmen as by abusing their Lords, had shewn themselves unworthy of their liberty, should remain at the mercy of the said Lords, and be subject to their former chains, nec deerant qui censerent, says Tacitus, sed Consules relationem incipere non ausi ignaro principe (i. e.) “There were Senators too ready to have voted for such a Edition: current; Page: [14]Decree; but the Consuls durst not propose it to the vote without acquainting the Emperor.” Of all this plain matter the Translator understood not one word. He says, “neither were there those wanting who would censure them (nec deerant qui censerent) but the Consuls durst not, without the Emperor’s knowledge, determine the matter.”

I cannot omit one polite phrase more out of this Book. Suilius Senecam increpans, says Tacitus. “He laid it in Seneca’s dish,” says the Translator, c. 42. “laying it in Seneca’s dish,” says the old Translation. He indeed has stolen all he knew of Tacitus from the old Translation, with all its blunders and stupidity, and improved both notably. Behold another specimen. “At Rome he cheated men of their legacies, and wronged the fatherless, who were deluded by him t .” The words of Tacitus are, Romæ testamenta & orbos, velut indagine ejus capi, c. 42.

Sect. IX.: Of the last Translation of the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth Annals.

A Fresh hand has undertaken the three following Annals, and by good fortune such a hand as has preserved an eminent uniformity with the foregoing; only he is somewhat more gross. Tacitus says, it was reported that when Agrippina studied to draw Nero her son into an incestuous commerce with herself, Senecam contra muliebres inlecebras subsidium a femina petivisse: immissamque Acten libertam.Seneca (says the Translator) Edition: current; Page: [15]soon brought in Acte, Nero’s beloved woman, to expel one whore with another.”

When Agrippina had escaped the first attempt upon her life, she dissembled, and seemed not to think it designed, nor to entertain any future apprehensions: simulata securitate: “Under the appearance of security,” (says the Translator.) But as Acerronia one of her maids had perished in that attempt, she ordered her Will to be found, and all her effects to be sealed up. This she did, says Tacitus, without any dissimulation; id tantum non per simulationem, c. 6. “She takes all necessary care (says the Translator) for the cure of her wound; the Testament of Acerronia to be looked out, her coffers to be sealed up, and all things necessary to be done without the least dissimulation:” How nicely he understands the original, and how grammatical is his English! Here however there seems to be some meaning aimed at; in what follows, even that is wanting: “The image of the villains who were stained with the guilt of this parricide, still haunted him.” The words of the original are observabanturque maris illius & litorum gravis adspectus, c. 10.

In truth, to expose the insipidness and nonsense of these Annals, were to transcribe them. In some places he is so gross, that his words will not bear repeating; as particularly where one of Octavia’s maids tells Tigellinus, castiora esse muliebria Octaviæ quam os ejus. His Translation of this is abominable, as well as ridiculous and false; and many such like instances there are in him. I beg leave to quote one short passage more out of this Annal. When that Lady was by the Tyrant divorced, and banished into Campania under a guard; inde crebri questus, says Tacitus, nec occulti per vulgum, cui minor sapientia, & ex mediocritate fortunæ, Edition: current; Page: [16]pauciora pericula sunt, c. 60. This is a fine reflection; observe how execrably it is rendred: “Upon the clamour of the people (who having nothing to lose, are commonly fearless, not out of any love or relenting at his severity) this was remitted.”

The fifteenth Annal is done just like the fourteenth, wretchedly. Here follows a specimen: Corbulo and Cesennius Petus commanded in the East: sed neque Corbulo æmuli patiens (says Tacitus); & Pætus, cui satis ad gloriam erat, si proximus haberetur, despiciebat gesta, nibil cædis aut prædæ, usurpatas nomine tenus urbium expugnationes, dictitans: se tributa ac leges, & pro umbra Regis Romanum jus victis impositurum, c. 6. The misfortune was, (says the Translator) “the one was impatient of a rival, and the other could not endure a superior; and Petus, who ought to have contented himself in being second to Corbulo, ever took pleasure to diminish the glory of his actions, upbraiding him that his victory in taking of towns was imaginary, without conquest or plunder. That he would impose laws and demand contributions, introduce the Roman power in the place of their Knights, and render them a meer shadow.”

He often seems to be without the least glimmering of Tacitus’s meaning, or any meaning, and puts down a parcel of words at random. How clearly does he English, provisis exemplis Caudinæ ac Numantinæ cladis; “resolving to follow the example of Numantian, and the Caudine defeat, which practice they thought they might justify, since the Parthians were at this time more powerful than the Carthaginians or Samnites:” [were they in truth? what a discovery is here?] neque eandem vim Samnitibus Italico populo, aut Pœnis Romani imperii æmulis. He goes on: They were now beginning to talk that the Antients were always commended Edition: current; Page: [17]for their address in suiting all things to the times, and securing a safe retreat when fortune should frown upon them. This is another discovery which he has made from these words: validam quoque & laudatam antiquitatem, quotiens fortuna contra daret, saluti consuluisse, c. 13; that is, “these same venerable Antients, so very stubborn and invincible, and so much adored, always consulted self-preservation, as often as pressed by the assaults of a calamitous fortune.”

When Petus had submitted to such shameful conditions from the Parthians, he, amongst the rest, made a bridge over the river Arsanias, and to hide his disgrace, pretended it was to shorten his own march; when in truth, it was done in obedience to the commands of the Parthians, as a monument of their superiority and conquest: namque iis usui fuit; nostri per diversum iere, c. 15. “It being commodious to them, (quoth the Translator) and not in any manner to molest us.” Were ever two meanings more remote? He often adds words of his own to those of Tacitus, and often drops many more of the original, sometimes whole sentences. Tacitus says, there prevailed then a pestilent custom of making fraudulent Adoptions, by such Candidates for Offices as had no children of their own; and as soon as the Election was over, they instantly dismissed such as they had occasionally adopted. This abuse raised a storm from such as were real parents; who, having applied to the Senate with warm representations against such fallacious dealings in others, and such injury done to themselves, add, sibi promissa legum diu expectata, in ludibrium verti, quando quis sine solicitudine parens, sine luctu orbus, longa patrum vota repente adæquaret, c. 19. All this is dropped by the Translator, and the following jargon of his own inserted: “They took children to quit them at Edition: current; Page: [18]their fancy in contempt of those laws, while they had a great many privileges, for care or sorrow, the other with ease enjoyed the same.”

I am afraid I have tired my reader, as I have done my self, with such a dull deduction of stupidities. I did not at first intend to say any thing of the former Translations: I took it for granted that every man who had seen them, must have condemned them, and found them as pitiful and bad as they really are. But when upon publishing my Proposals, I found that some, who by their titles and profession should be learned, others who by their high quality, ought to have taste and elegance, had commended the former Translation, and uttered their despair of seeing a better; I found it necessary to give some account of that performance, which I think to be as low, defective, and wretched as any thing in print; neither language, nor sense, nor decency, and as much unlike Tacitus the Historian, as the meanest slave of Tacitus the Consul, was unlike his master. It is much worse than the old Translation, which is exceeding bad. It is in my own defence, as well as in defence of Tacitus, that I have censured it, and against my inclination. It looks indeed as if the Translators themselves had no opinion of it, since they have not, as is usual, said one word about it by way of Preface. This is what Mr. Dryden particularly never used to omit doing; why did he omit it now in the Translation of a work of such name and weight? As far as the sixth Annal there is a Translation too of la Houssaye’s Notes, but done with great ignorance and errors.

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DISCOURSE II.: Upon Tacitus and his Writings.

Sect. I.: The Character of Tacitus.

AS to the Character of Tacitus and his writings; he was the greatest Orator, Statesman, and Historian of his time; he had long frequented the Bar; he had passed through all the high offices of State: he was Edile, Pretor, Consul; and after long acquaintance with business and men, he applied himself to collect observations, and to convey the fruits of his knowledge to posterity, under the agreeable dress of a History. For this task he was excellently qualified: No man had seen more, scarce any man had ever thought so much, or conveyed his thoughts with greater force and vivacity; a mighty genius, for which no conception or design was too vast; a powerful Orator, who abounds in great sentiments and description: yet a man of consummate integrity, who, though he frequently agitates the passions, never misleads them: a masterly Historian, who draws events from their first sources; and explains them with a redundancy of images, and a frugality of words: a profound Politician who takes off every disguise, and penetrates every artifice: an upright Patriot, zealous for publick Liberty and the welfare of his Country, and a delared enemy to Tyrants and to the instruments of Tyranny; a lover of human-kind; a man of virtue, who adores Liberty and Truth, and every where adorns and recommends them; who abhors falshood and iniquity, despises Edition: current; Page: [20]little arts, exposes bad ones; and shews, upon all occasions, by the fate and fall of great wicked men, by the anxiety of their souls, by the precariousness of their power, by the uncertainty or suddenness of their fate, what a poor price greatness obtained is for goodness lost; and how infinitely, persecuted virtue is preferable to smiling and triumphant wickedness. Germanicus under all his hardships and disfavour, is a happier man than Tiberius with all his power and Empire; happier in peace of mind, happier in his fame and memory. Tigellinus is a great favourite with Nero, but detested by all the rest of the world and fearful of all men. Seneca is disliked by the Emperor, but universally beloved and regretted. Tacitus is a fine Gentleman, who suffers nothing pedantick or low, nothing that is trifling or indecent to fall from his pen. He is also a man of wit; not such a one as is fond of conceits and the quaintness of words, but a wit that is grave, majestick, and sublime; one that blends the solemnity of truth with the fire of imagination, and touches the heart rather than the fancy; yet for the better reception of truth, pleases and awakens the fancy.

The telling of truth is dry and unaffecting; but to enliven it with imagery, is describing it: and every one knows the advantages that Description has over bare Narration. Hence the force of fine painting; though, in my opinion, the Orator has the advantage of the Painter, as words can multiply ideas better than the pencil, throw them thicker together, and inflame them more. What piece of Apelles could have animated the Athenians against Phlip of Macedon, like one of Demosthenes’s Orations? What picture of Love can equal the description of that passion by Lucretius, the noblest wit of all the Latin Poets? It Edition: current; Page: [21]is hardly, I believe, possible for colours to carry images higher than they are by Michael Angelo carried, in his piece of the Last Day: yet I believe it not only possible, but easy to make a description of that day more affecting than the sight of that celebrated piece.

Sect. II.: How much he excells in Description and Force.

PAINTING in words is the strongest painting; and in that art Tacitus excells to amazement. His images are many, but close and thick; his words are few, but pointed and glowing; and even his silence is instructive and affecting.

How justly does he represent that noble sullenness and disdain of the wife of Arminius, when brought with other captives before Germanicus? Inerant & feminæ nobiles, inter quas uxor Arminii, eademque filia Segestis, mariti magis quam parentis animo, neque victa in lacrymas, neque voce supplex, compressis intra sinum manibus gravidum uterum intuens, A. 1. c. 57. A circumstance of distress more moving than this last, could not be devised; and what words, or exclamations, or tears could raise compassion so effectually, as the representation of a spirit too great to weep or complain; of a grief too mighty to be uttered?

The March of Germanicus and his Army to the Forest of Teutburg, to bury the bones of Varus and his Legions, there massacred by the Germans; the description of that Camp, with the revival of the circumstances of that tragical event; and the sympathy and resentments of the Soldiers, are all beautifully displayed with great force and brevity, with equal tenderness and horror.

Permoto ad miserationem omni qui aderat exercitu, ob propinquos, amicos, denique ob casus bellorum, Edition: current; Page: [22]& sortem hominum. Incedunt mœstos locos, visuque ac memoria deformes. Prima Vari castra lato ambitu, & dimensis principiis, trium legionum manus ostentabant: dein semiruto vallo, humili fossa, accisæ jam reliquiæ consedisse intelligebantur: medio campi albentia ossa, ut fugerant, ut restiterant, disjecta vel aggerata: adjacebant fragmina telorum, equorumque artus, simul truncis arborum antefixa ora; lucis propinquis barbaræ aræ, apud quas tribunos ac primorum ordinum centuriones mactaverant. Cladis ejus superstites pugnam aut vincula elapsi, referebant, hic cecidisse legatos, illic raptas aquilas; primum ubi vulnus Varo adactum, ubi infelici dextra, & suo ictu mortem invenerit; quo tribunali concionatus Arminius; quot patibula captivis, quæ scrobes; utque signis & aquilis per superbiam inluserit. Igitur Romanus qui aderat exercitus, sextum post cladis annum, trium Legionum ossa, nullo noscente alienas reliquias an suorum humo tegeret, omnes ut conjunctos, ut consanguineos, auctâ in hostem irâ, mœsti simul & infensi condebant, An. 1. c. 61, 62.

Here is eloquence and description! What can be added, what can be taken away? His stile is every where warm and pathetick, and he never informs the understanding, or entertains the imagination, but he kindles the affections. You are not only convinced by his sentiments, but governed by them, charmed with them, and grow zealous for them. This is a trial of the power and skill of a writer: this the drift and glory of persuasion and eloquence; and this the talent of Tacitus.

To display Tyrants and Tyranny he chuses the strongest words and figures: facinora ac flagitia sua ipsi quoque in supplicium verterant. Si recludantur tyrannorum mentes, posse adspici laniatus & ictus; quando ut corpora verberibus, ita sævitia, libidine, malis consultis, animus dilaceretur: quippe Tiberium non fortuna, non solitudines, protegebant, quin tormenta pectoris suasque ipse pœnas fateretur, An. 6. c. 6.

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It was his business and design to lay open the iniquity and horrors of their mis-rule; sæva jussa, continuas accusationes, fallaces amicitias, perniciem innocentium. You see the bloody hands of the executioners, Rome swimming in the blood of her own Citizens, and all the rage of unrelenting Tyranny; undantem per domos sanguinem, aut manus carnificum. You see the bands of accusers let loose, nay hired to destroy, and breathing death and exile; sævitiam oratorum accusationes minitantium: delatores per præmia eliciebantur. You see the barbarous outrages of an insolent and merciless soldiery; cuncta sanguine, ferro, flammisque miscent. You see madmen bear rule, these mad rulers governed and made worse by slaves, villains, and harlots; yet all these monsters adored, their persons, wickedness, and even their fury sanctified; iniquity exalted, virtue trod under foot, laws perverted, righteousness and truth depressed and banished; every worthy man doomed to scaffolds, rocks, and dungeons; the basest of all men pronouncing that doom, and making a prey or a sacrifice of the best; fear and distrust and treachery prevailing; the destroyers themselves haunted with the perpetual dread of destruction, at last overtaken by it, yet seldom leaving better in their room.

All these melancholy scenes you see exposed in colours strong and moving: the thoughts are great, the phrase elevated, and the words chaste and few. It is all a picture: whatever he says, you see, and all that you see affects you. It puzzles one to give instances, because there are so many in every page. How many affecting images are there in these few words near the beginning of the first Annal; Quotusquisque reliquus qui rempublicam vidisset? How mournful too and expressive, yet how plain are these which immediately follow! Igitur verso civitatis Edition: current; Page: [24]statu, nihil usquam prisci & integri moris; as well as those a little before; rebus novis aucti tuta & præsentia, quam vetera & periculosa mallent.

With what thunder and vehemence does Arminius rouse the Cheruscans, his country-men, to arms, when his wife became a captive to the Romans, and his child a slave though yet unborn? Egregium patrem! magnanimum imperatorem! fortem exercitum! quorum tot manus unam mulierculam avexerint: sibi tres Legiones, totidem legatos procubuisse: non enim se proditione, neque adversus feminas gravidas, sed palam adversus armatos bellum tractare. Cerni adhuc Germanorum in lucis signa Romana. Coleret Segestes victam ripam, redderet filio sacerdotium, &c. In how few words does he comprise a long and perplexed debate in the council held by Germanicus, how to proceed with the mutinous Legions! Augebat metum gnarus (superior exercitus) Romanæ seditionis, & si omitteretur ripa, invasurus hostis; ac si auxilia & socii adversum abscedentes Legiones armarentur, civile bellum suscipi: periculosa severitas, flagitiosa largitio: seu nihil militi, seu omnia concederentur, in ancipiti Respublica. Igitur, &c. An. 1.

Sect. III.: Further instances of the justness of his Genius, and of his great Thoughts.

HIS account of the persecutions of Germanicus, with his last words and amiable Character, makes a fine Tragedy; so does the Death of Seneca; so does that of the Conspirators against Nero. With what magnanimity and calmness does Sulpitius Asper the Centurion answer the brutal Tyrant, when asked, why he had conspired against his life? non aliter tot flagitiis ejus subveniri potuisse. With what silence and firmness did the Consul Vestinus die? though he was Nero’s Edition: current; Page: [25]old companion and friend, and unconcerned in the conspiracy, and no crime nor accuser against him: vigens adbuc balneo infertur, calida aqua mersatur, nulla edita voce qua se miseraretur. How beautiful, how deep, and just are his observations upon human nature! Molles in calamitate humani animi: mobiles ad superstitionem perculsæ semel mentes: cupidine ingenii humani lubentius obscura credi: neque morum spernendus, nisi quod paupertatem præcipuum malorum credebat. Vivorum ut magna admiratio, ita censura difficilis: eandem virtutem admirantibus cui irascebantur: manebat admiratio viri & fama, sed oderant. Beneficia eo usque læta sunt dum videntur exsolvi posse; ubi multum antecessere, pro gratia odium redditur. Exacto per scelera die, novissimum malorum fuit lætitia. Rumore populi, qui neminem sine æmulo sinit: minore spe veniæ, crescit vinculum sceleris: populus novarum rerum cupiens pavidusque: vulgus eadem pravitate interfectum insectatur, qua viventem foverat.

How masterly and profound are those upon Government! Primas dominandi spes in arduo: ubi sis ingressus adesse studia & ministros. Arduum eodem loci potentiam & concordiam esse. Potentia cautis consiliis tutius habetur. Major e longinquo reverentia. Principibus præcipua rerum ad famam dirigendo. Insociabile regnum: cupido regni fratre & filia potior. Scaurum cui implacabilius irascebatur (Tiberius) silentio tramisit. Intelligebantur artes, sed pars obsequii in eo, ne deprehenderentur. In summa fortuna æquius quod validius. These I do not quote as the finest Thoughts in Tacitus, but only such as occur to me.

He paints Thoughts and Faculties, Men and Passions, Tyranny and Slaves. His imagination is boundless, yet never out-runs his judgment; his wisdom is solid and vast, yet always enlivened by his imagination. His designing is great, his drawing just, his colouring beautiful. See the description Edition: current; Page: [26]of a Pestilence at Rome, An. 16. c. 13. Domus corporibus exanimis, itinera funeribus complebantur. Non sexus, non ætas periculo vacua. Servitia perinde ac ingenua plebes raptim extingui, inter conjugum & liberorum lamenta, qui dum assident, dum deflent, sæpe eodem rogo cremabantur. Equitum Senatorumque interitus quamvis promiscui, minus flebiles erant, tanquam communi mortalitate sævitiam Principis prævenirent. Under a Tyrant, a Plague was a blessing.

Who but Tacitus could have said as he does of the antient Germans: Argentum & aurum propitii an irati Dii negaverint, dubito? or that afterwards of the same people: mira diversitate naturæ, cum iidem homines sic ament inertiam, quietem oderint? or that of the Sitones, a particular Clan of Germans, who were under the Government of a Woman; in tantum non modo a libertate, sed etiam a servitute degenerant? These are such instances of discernment, sagacity and happy expression, as few Writings can shew. By them and a thousand more, it is manifest that Tacitus saw every thing in a true and uncommon light: and his reflections are like mirrours where human nature and government are exhibited in their proper size and colours.

I cannot help thinking That to be a bold and gallant Saying of Boiocalus to the Roman General, who refused him a mansion for himself and his people in the vacant lands of Frizia; and thence provoked him to implore the Sun and Stars: quasi coram interrogabat, vellentne contueri inane solum? potius mare superfunderent adversus terrarum ereptores. Deesse nobis terram in qua vivamus; in qua moriamur non potest. What a sublime thought is that of his concerning the Fennians? The most savage and wretched race this of all the wild Germans; their cloathing, skins; their bed, the earth; their food, the grass; destitute of horses, houses, and arms; Edition: current; Page: [27]the thick branches of trees their only shelter against tempests and the ravening beasts: Here they find cradles and protection for their babes; here live the old men, and hither resort the young. Yet this miserable life they prefer to that of sweating at the plough, and to the pains of rearing houses: they thirst not after the fortunes of others; they have no anxiety about preserving their own; so that they hoped for nothing that was not theirs, and having nothing of their own, could fear to lose nothing; securi (says Tacitus) adversus homines, securi adversus deos, rem difficillimam adsecuti sunt, ut illis ne voto quidem opus sit.

Sect. IV.: The Morality of Tacitus, and his spirit virtuous and humane.

AS obvious too as his other great qualities, is his love of Mankind, of Civil Liberty, and of private and publick Virtue. His Book is a great tablature of the ugliness and horrors of Tyranny; of the scandal and infamy of servitude and debasement; of the loveliness of virtue and a free spirit; of the odiousness of vice and sycophancy. Such was his sympathy for the sufferings and severe lot of the Romans under Tiberius, that he is glad of a digression from home, and keeps thence as long as he can, to relieve his soul from attending to domestick evils; duabus æstatibus gesta conjunxi, quo requiesceret animus a domesticis malis. He grieves for the slavish spirit, for the stupid tameness of the Romans under the Tyranny of the detestable Nero. So much Roman blood wantonly shed by that monster, is a load upon his soul, and oppresses it with sorrow. Patientia servilis, tantumque sanguinis domi perditum, fatigant animum, & mæstitia restringunt.

He delights in good times, in publick Liberty and virtuous Reigns, and delights to praise them; Edition: current; Page: [28]such as those of Nerva and Trajan; rara temporum felicitate, ubi sentire quæ velis, & quæ sentias dicere licet. In what a different strain does he speak of the foregoing Emperors? Nobilitas, opes, omissi gestique honores pro crimine, & ob virtutes certissimum exitium. He glories however that the worst and most faithless times produced many instances of friendship and generous fidelity; non tamen adeo virtutum sterile seculum, ut non & bona exempla prodiderit.

He is fond of a virtuous Character; as that of Labeo: Labeo incorrupta libertate & ob id fama celebratior: such as that of Lepidus; hunc ego Lepidum temporibus illis, gravem & sapientem virum fuisse comperio: nam plæraque ab sævis adulationibus aliorum, in melius flexit: and that of L. Piso chief Pontiff; nulliu servilis sententiæ sponte auctor. How amiable are the Death and last words of L. Arruntius, like those of a Patriot, and a Prophet! But how vile every where, and even miserable and insecure, are Tyrants, Flatterers and the Ministers of Iniquity? What he says of the first I have quoted above: and against the other hear his honest indignation: tempora infecta, & adulatione sordida fuere. Fædaque & nimia censerent. Adulatio perinde anceps si nulla, & ubi nimia est. Delatores genus hominum in exitium publicum repertum, perniciem aliis, ac postremo sibi invenere. What an odious insect is Vatinius; what a horrible villain Tigellinus; what infamous sycophants are Capito and Vitellius; and what a shocking paricide is Serenus, the accuser of his father and a general accuser?

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Sect. V.: The Stile of Tacitus, how pertinent and happy: his Obscurity, a charge of the moderns only.

BESIDES the grandeur and dignity of his phrase, he is remarkable for a surprising brevity: but let his words be ever so few, his thought and matter are always abundant. His expression is like the dress of Poppæa Sabina, described by himself; velata parte oris ne satiaret aspectum, vel quia sic decebat. He starts the Idea, and leaves the Imagination to pursue it. The sample he gives you is so fine, that you are presently curious to see the whole piece, and then you have your share in the merit of the discovery; a compliment which some able Writers have forgot to pay to their Readers. I cannot help thinking Mr. Locke a great deal too wordy, and that the plainness of his propositions, as well as their strength, suffers often by an explanation over-diffuse. Dr. Tillotson’s stile is much better, indeed very fine, but takes up too much room; it is likely he chose it as fit for popular discourses; since it is plain from the vivacity of his Parts, and the many fine turns found in his Writings, that he could have been very sententious. These two great names are by no man reverenced more than I reverence them, and without malignity I mention them, as I do that of the worthy Lord Clarendon, whose language is weighty, and grave, but encumbred and even darkened, I might say flattened, with a multiplication of words.

Stile is a part of Genius, and Tacitus had one peculiar to himself, a sort of a language of his own, one fit to express the amazing vigour of his spirit, and that redundancy of reflections which for force and frequency are to be equalled by no Writer before or since. Besides, the course and Edition: current; Page: [30]fluency of his Narration, is almost every where broken by persons whom he introduces speaking and debating; insomuch that a great part of his History comes out of the mouths of other people, and in expressions suitable to their several Characters. It is plain too that the older he grew, the more he pruned and curtailed his Stile; for his Histories are much more copious and flowing than his Annals: and thus what has been by others reckoned a fault, was in him the effect of his judgment. Neither were his Works intended for the populace; but for such as governed States, or such as attended to the conduct of Governors; nor, were the Stile and Latin ever so plain, would they ever be understood by such as do not. As Plutarch came to understand the Roman Tongue by understanding their Affairs; Tacitus is to be known by knowing human nature, and the elements and mechanism of Government.

It is madness to wish for the manner and redundancy of Livy in the Writings of Tacitus. They wrote at different times, and of Governments differently formed. Tacitus had transactions of another sort to describe, and other sorts of men; (for by Government men are changed); the crooked arts of policy, the false smiles of power, the jealousy, fury and wantonness of Princes uncontrolled; the flattery of the grandees; the havock made by the accusers, and universal debasement of all men: matter chiefly for reflection, complaints and rebuke! Nobis in arto, & inglorius labor: mœstæ urbis res, &c. Livy had another field and more scope; the History of a Commonwealth rising, forming and conquering; perpetual victories and matter of panegyrick; and his pen flowed like the prosperity of the State. Ingentia bello, expugnationes urbium, fusos captosque reges, discordias Consulum adversus Tribunos, agrarias frumentariasque leges, Edition: current; Page: [31]plebis & optimatium certamina, libere egressu memorabat, An. 4. 32. Doubtless he could have adopted another Stile if he would, perhaps the stile of Livy, as I think this very quotation shews; but Tacitus had another view and different topicks; nor would another stile, the easy and numerous stile of Livy, have answered his purpose. I fancy too that no body who knows Tacitus, would wish him to have written in a strain different from what he has done. There are charms in his manner and words, as well as in his thoughts, and he wears the only dress that would become him.

It is amazing that this obscurity of his should never be mentioned by any of the Antients who mention him. It is a fault discovered by the Moderns, though, in my opinion, common to him with other Classical Writers; nor has he puzzled the Commentators more than Horace, Cicero, Pliny, Sallust, &c. His Latin is truly pure and classical; he has few or no words which had not been used by approved writers, nor does he often give new ideas to old words. If his Works were no wise obscure to men of sense when he composed them, as we have no reason to think; it is insolence and folly in us to reckon his obscurity a fault. It is a dead language which he writes in, and he wrote seventeen hundred years ago. When Tacitus the Emperor directed copies of his Books to be placed in all the Libraries, and for their better preservation, to be transcribed ten times every year, he ordered no Grammarian to explain his abstruse places; though the Historian had been then dead near two hundred years. Great Writers are in their manner and phrase a Law and Authority to themselves; and not confined to the Rules that fill the heads or grammars of small wits and pedants. Milton has a stile of his own, and rules for writing of his own; and who that tastes his genius Edition: current; Page: [32]would wish him more fashionable and exact, or to have written otherwise. I am even pleased with the jarrings of Milton’s phrases. But here I chiefly mean his poetical style. Of his prose I shall make mention hereafter.

When the subject varies, so should the stile: that of Tacitus is marvellously suited to his subject and design; had it been more familiar, it had neither been so just nor so beautiful. To me nothing is more so than the manner of Tacitus; his words and phrases are admirably adapted to his matter and conceptions, and make impressions sudden and wonderful upon the mind of man. The doleful condition of the Emperor Vitellius, when deserted by his fortune and all men, is strong and tragical as imagination and words can make it. Terret solitudo & tacentes loci; tentat clausa; inhorrescit vacuis; fessusque misero errore, & pudenda latebra semet occultans, à Tribuno protrahitur. Vinctæ pone tergum manus; laniata veste, fædum spectaculum ducebatur, multis increpantibus, he adds, nullo inlachrymante; and the reason he gives for this, is judicious and fine; deformitas exitus misericordiam abstulerat. What follows is in the same affecting strain; as are the first sensible approaches of his calamity. Vitellius, capta urbe, Aventinum in domum uxoris cellula defertur, ut si diem latebra vitavisset Terracinam—perfugeret: dein mobilitate ingenii, & quæ natura pavoris est, cum omnia metuenti, præsentia maxime displicerent, in palatium regreditur, vastum desertumque; dilapsis etiam infimis servorum, aut occursum ejus declinantibus.

Who would blame Tacitus for a paucity of words, when he conveys so many images in so few? Is habitus animorum fuit, ut pessimum facinus auderent pauci, plures vellent, omnes paterentur? Where can there be a happier expression than that concerning Galba, when the Empire was already rent from Edition: current; Page: [33]him, and he knew it not? Ignarus interim Galba & sacris intentus, fatigabat alieni jam imperii deos. When Otho, proclaimed Emperor by no more than three and twenty Soldiers, was advancing to the Camp, & paucitate salutantium trepidus; the behaviour and acquiescence of those he met in his way are accounted for with surprising brevity and justness; alii conscientia, plerique miraculo; pars clamore & gladiis, pars silentio, animum ex eventu sumpturi. There is infinite pathos in what he says of the Omens and Phænomena, which were observed during the Civil Wars, and the strife of Princes; cœlo terraque prodigia, & fulminum monitus, & futurorum præsagia læta, tristia, ambigua, manifesta. What can be more solemn, sounding and sublime, even in Lucretius? When Nero was disgracing himself and the Roman State, by debasing his person to that of a player upon the publick Stage; how pathetically is the behaviour and spirit of Burrus described in a few words; adstabat Burrus mærens & laudans!

Sect. VI.: A general Character of his Works.

THERE is no end of specimens and examples; it is all over a wonderful Book, full of wisdom, full of virtue; of astonishing strokes of genius and superior sense. Yet he seems not to value himself upon his great thoughts; the finest things fall from him like common things; he says them naturally, and never dwells upon one, because he has always more to utter. When he has struck your imagination, and you want to stand still and ruminate, you have no time; he draws, or rather forces you forward, and the next thought strikes you as much; so does the third, and all of them; and you go on reading and wondering, yet wishing for leisure to ponder and recollect. But he gives you Edition: current; Page: [34]none; for from first to last the present reflection is always the best.

’Tis all of it eternal good sense, and will bear an eternity of time and censure. It is no wise akin to your pretty trifles of humour and fancy, that just tickle the imagination, but go no deeper, and please for a day. His beauties are solid, and upon the strictest examination discover no paint or tinsel; his wisdom and instruction are inexhaustible, and his works consequently an everlasting feast. I have seen several performances of tolerable length and notable reputation, all derived from so many short sentences of Tacitus, well wiredrawn and paraphrased. He is indeed a fund for Writers who have discretion and stile, but want depth.

There is a fine short Character of Tacitus in Owen’s Epigrams;

  • Veracem fecit probitas, natura sagacem,
  • Obscurum brevitas te, gravitasque brevem. Ep. 157.

Sect. VII.: Tacitus vindicated from the imputation of deriving events from counsels too subtle and malevolent.

HE is accused too of over-much subtilty and refining, and of deriving the actions of his Princes, even the most innocent and plausible, from crooked designs, and a base heart; and of imputing to craft and politicks what was often no more than the effect of inclination and passion: A charge in my opinion intirely groundless. Tacitus describes things and men as they are, shews particulars acting agreeably to their characters, their situation and views; and represents counsels flowing from such sources only as were likely to produce them. Let us examine his reign of Tiberius for which he is chiefly censured.

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The first feat of this reign, was the murder of Agrippa, the grandson of Augustus. Tiberius ordered it, and denied it, and threatned the Centurion who was the executioner, that he should answer for it to the Senate. This is the account given by Tacitus, and the same is given by Suetonius; the former adds, that it was done from jealousy of State, and for the removal of a Rival; and what other reason is to be given? for he had shewn how improbable it was that the same had been ordained by Augustus, though this was pretended, as Suetonius too testifies. Nor was any thing more natural than his apprehensions of Germanicus, a young Prince popular above all men, and at the head of a great army, who wanted him for their Emperor in the room of Tiberius. This is matter of fact, and well attested. Now where is the extreme refining, to represent Tiberius as contriving to remove such a dangerous man, one of such good pretences and powerful interest, first from his faithful Legions, and then from home, for ever; though at the same time he flattered him, extolled him, and heaped honours upon him? All this is but the common road of such Courts, when they have the same designs and fears. Is it not usual in Turkey to load a Bashaw with Imperial Presents, to bestow upon him some great Government, and to murder him before he arrive at it?

Is not power a jealous and artificial thing, full of fears and wiles; and is not Tiberius allowed by all men to have been a Prince of infinite distrust, craft, and cruelty? What meant he by making great men Governors of Provinces, and yet never suffering them to go thither for a course of years, nor even out of Rome, though they still held the name? What meant he by continuing others in the actual possession of Provinces for a long tract of years, nay Edition: current; Page: [36]frequently to the end of their life? Was it not his distrust of the former; and that as to the latter, he could not make a safer choice, and therefore was afraid to choose any? Yet Tacitus, far from diving into his Politicks in this matter, or being subtle and dogmatical about it, gives you the sentiments of others; alii lædio novæ curæ, semel placita pro æternis servavisse. Quidam, invidia, ne plures fruerentur. Sunt qui existimant, ut callidum ejus ingenium, ita anxium judicium; neque enim eminentis virtutes sectabatur, & rursum vitia oderat: ex optimis periculum sibi; a pessimis dedecus publicum metuebat. Never was any thing said more impartial, never any thing more just and solid. From the doubles and even contradictions that possess the heart of man, the conduct of men will be perplexed and contradictory. It is allowed that alieni appetens, sui profusus, was a just branch in the Character of Catiline, and is reckoned one of the beauties and strong places in Sallust. Without peradventure, as beautiful, and strong, and just, is this of Tacitus; neque eminentis virtutis sectabatur, & rursum vitia oderat; the reason too assigned for it, is equally just and fine; ex optimis periculum sibi; a pessimis dedecus publicum metuebat. Is not this accounting, from the principles of nature and self-preservation, for the conduct and politicks of Tiberius? Many of his actions and measures, recounted by Tacitus, are supported by collateral evidence, by Suetonius, Pliny, Dion Cassius, and others; many by them omitted are by him related, with such probability, and so perfectly resemble the rest of his conduct, that we must deny Tiberius to have been such a Prince as all men agree he was, or believe the account of him given by Tacitus.

His dissimulation was constant and notorious. In the very beginning, while he confidently acted Edition: current; Page: [37]as Emperor, with all the pomp and might of Majesty, he openly refused the Empire; Principatum (says Suetonius) quamvis neque occupare confestim, neque agere dubitasset, vi & specie dominationis assumpta, diu tamen recusavit impudentissimo animo; Such severe language as this is not given him by Tacitus.

Does Tacitus represent him as hating and fearing the great Romans, and illustrious Senators? And do not other Historians; do not the facts themselves prove it? Was he not continually destroying them, till they were almost all destroyed? Of the twenty Grandees particularly (principum Civitatis) whom he desired of the Senate, for his Confidents and Counsellors, he left not above two or three alive; all the rest were by treachery and feigned crimes cut off by him: Horum omnium vix duos aut tres incolumes præstitit; cæteros, alium alia de causa perculit, says Suetonius. Is Tacitus therefore too refined, in discovering what facts demonstrate? Is it not Suetonius too who says, Multa specie gravitatis, ac morum corrigendorum, sed magis naturæ obtemperans, sæve & atrociter factitavit? “It was usual with him, to do actions exceeding barbarous and merciless, yet all under shew of Justice, and the reforming of Manners; but in reality from the instigation of his own cruel spirit.” Is Suetonius also over subtle, the Historian in the world the most plain, and seldom aiming at a reflection? For what reason did he suffer the boundaries of the Empire to be invaded, and Provinces to be seized by the Barbarians, but from fear of trusting any great Officer with the conduct of the War?

That he affected to derive all power from the Senate, yet left them but the shadow of authority, and was even jealous of that shadow, is sacredly true. It was even natural; and wanted no resining, to discover it. Did not Cromwel do the same? Edition: current; Page: [38]And are not all men willing to have their power, however lawless, legitimated, and the odium of their acts of violence transferred upon others? Will any one say, that the Senate liked his acts of Sovereignty, his frequent impeachments of their Members, often the best and most innocent, and his obliging them to condemn, (for he that dares not refuse is forced to consent) and his leaving every particular in continual dread of being the next; which was a farther motive in each to hatred and complaisance? He knew he had earned their hate, reputante sibi publicum odium. Is it likely now that he loved them, or that there was or could be sincerity or confidence on either side? What did his retirement in the Isle of Capreæ, with his perpetual absence from Rome, infer, but continual distrust of the Senate and People? Just before he expired, he was hastening from a ramble upon the Continent, back to his Den, non temere quidquam nisi ex tuto ausurus; to take measures of vengeance against the Senate, for that he had read in their acts, that they had discharged certain persons accused, though he had writ to the Senate, that they were only named by the informer; pro contempto se habitum fremens, repetere Capreas quoque modo destinavit, non temere, &c. This too is related by Suetonius. It is certain the Senate were to all these Tyrants a constant mark of jealousy and hate; and some of them, particularly Caligula and Nero, had proposed to extirpate that venerable Assembly, by murdering the whole Body.

Sect. VIII.: More Proofs of the Candour and Veracity of Tacitus.

TACITUS makes Tiberius no worse than he was, hardly so bad. That he doomed almost his whole family to exile, famine, or the Edition: current; Page: [39]executioner; that his cruel suspicion and distrust extended even to women, even to his mother, nay to children, relations and strangers, to names, nobility, and all men, is undeniable. Nor does Tacitus relate any part of the conduct or politicks of Tiberius, but what evidently results either from the nature of the man, or the nature of his power. He frequently speaks well of that Prince; and ill he could not avoid speaking, if he spoke of him at all. Nay the whole sixth chapter of the fourth Annal, is a fine panegyrick upon the moderation and wisdom of his Government for eight years before: publica negotia, & privatorum maxima, apud patres tractabantur; dabaturque primoribus disserere, & in adulationem lapsos cohibebat ipse; mandabatque honores, nobilitatem majorum, claritudinem militiæ, inlustres domi artes spectando: ut satis constaret non alios potiores fuisse. Sua consulibus, sua prætoribus species; minorum quoque magistratuum exercita potestas; legesque, si majestatis quæstio eximeretur, bono in usu, &c.

What can be fairer than this? and do not other Historians agree that he grew worse and worse: that he had long smothered his vices, and was, first and last, a complete dissembler? And is it just upon Tacitus, to accuse him of displaying the subtleties and craft of a Prince, who was all craft and subtlety? Does he not give us the good and bad of his character, and frequently defend it? Does he not say of him, in opposition to popular opinion and report, non crediderim ad ostentandam sævitiam, movendasque populi offensiones concessam filio materiam; quanquam id quoque dictum est? An. 1. c. 76.

Does he not represent Tiberius elsewhere as mollifying a rigorous sentence of the Senate, for banishing a criminal to a barren and desolate Island, and arguing that to whomsoever they granted life, they ought to grant the conveniences of life; dandos Edition: current; Page: [40]vitæ usus, cui vita concederetur? Does he not represent him in another place absolutely refusing a new accession of power, and arguing against it, like a Republican; yet charges him there with no dissimulation?

In Tacitus you have no false colouring, no true worth blemished, no bad qualities disguised; but fair representations and equal justice. Tiberius is a dangerous Prince, extremely false, extremely cruel; but he has many abilities, and some good qualities. He is prudent in moderating the excesses of others, where he was not instigated by his own personal anger; prudens moderandi, ubi propriâ irâ non impelleretur. He loved power without bounds; yet was constant and resolute in rejecting pompous honours; spernendis honoribus validus: a great Tyrant, but a Prince observing the rules of primitive parcimony; antiquæ parcimoniæ princeps: furiously jealous of prerogative; yet the laws, where processes of treason interfered not, were in proper force; leges, si majestatis quæstio eximeretur, bono in usu. He is inflexible in his vengeance, and where-ever his jealousy or anger centers, there terrible tragedies are sure to follow; yet the popular imputation of his poisoning his son, is by Tacitus exposed as incredible and fabulous; with many the like instances of eminent impartiality. He gives fair quarter to the Man, but none to the Tyrant.

To Claudius, a stupid Prince, and almost a changeling, who had no judgment, no aversion of his own, but only such as were insused and managed by others, he allows a share of sense at intervals; allows that he did some reasonable things, gave good advice to the Prince of Parthia; and wanted not elegance in his speeches, when his speeches were premeditated. He owns the spirit of Sovereignty to be jealous and unsociable; but as an exception from this rule, mentions the amiable friendship and Edition: current; Page: [41]union between Germanicus and Drusus, in the Court of Tiberius, though their different interests had rent the whole Court into factions. He owns the friendship of Drusus, for the children of Germanicus; though the participation of power, and the union of hearts, are seldom compatible.

The same fair temper and truth he observes in the Conduct and Character of Galba, Otho, and even of Nero and Vitellius; and it was his business and design to lay open the iniquity and horrors of their misrule.

These are some of the objections made to the Writings of Tacitus, and I think with extreme injustice. His Critics are more subtle than he; they are false refiners, who for the reputation of sagacity, make singular remarks, and serve him as they say he did Tiberius; they pervert and blacken his designs, and are too curious to be equitable. Tacitus, with a masterly discernment, unravels the mysterious conduct of Tiberius; it is from awe of his Mother, it is from fear of Germanicus, it is from jealousy of the Grandees, and with design to amuse and humour, or to deceive them all, that he rules and acts with such temper and moderation, against the bent and pride of his nature always imperious and tyrannical. But when he had well established himself; when Germanicus was dead; when his Mother too was gone; when he had crushed some of the Grandees, and terrified all; and especially when he was far from the eyes of Rome, is it not most true, that he then gave a loose to all the excesses of vileness and cruelty? cuncta simul vitia, male diu dissimulata, tandem profudit. It is not Tacitus who says this.

Was he not continually mocking and deluding the Senate? First he would by no means accept the Edition: current; Page: [42]Empire, at a time when he was actually in possession; sometimes he was weary of it, and would needs resign at every turn. Before he quitted the City, he was for visiting the Provinces, and for this purpose many preparations were made, and high expectation raised; then, when he had retired to Capreæ, he was continually amusing them with his immediate return to Rome, nay begged one of the Consuls to guard him. He carried the deceit so far, that he often visited the Continent, and the very Walls and Gardens about Rome; but never once returned to Rome, nor visited the Provinces, nor had a thought of resigning. The Commonwealth was always in his mouth, even when he was acting the Tyrant most; he professed eminent moderation while he was meditating acts of cruelty; and in instances of injustice and rigour, pleaded law and mercy.

His malice in leaving so wicked a Successor appears more from Suetonius than from Tacitus, who allows him to have had some thoughts of appointing another; but the former testifies expresly, that Tiberius was wont to foretel what a devouring Dragon he reared for the Roman people, and what a Phaeton or incendiary to the whole earth. Tacitus is vouched by Suetonius in what he says was reported for the motive which determined Augustus to adopt Tiberius; ambitione tractum, ut tali successore considerabilior ipse quandoque fieret. Suet. in Tiber. c. 21. The same too is testified by Dion Cassius.

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Sect. IX.: Mr. Bayles unjust censure of Tacitus; and how well the latter knew and observed the Laws of History.

MR. Bayle in his Dictionary in the Article of Tacitus, quotes some passages out of a Book entitled Anonymiana, (a very foolish book) where Tacitus is criticized as above, and approves those passages. This is the less matter of wonder to me, for that Mr. Bayle, with all his immense learning, acuteness, and candour, had a strange and unnatural biass to absolute Monarchy, though he had fled from the fury of it, and taken refuge in a free State. A proof this that great weakness cleaves to the greatest minds; and who can boast an exemption from prejudices, when a spirit so signally disinterested and philosophical as that of Bayle was not exempted? He himself says of Tacitus, qu’il y a bien à reprendre dans l’affectation de son langage, & dans celle de rechercher les motifs secrets des actions, & de les tourner vers le criminel. That this charge is groundless I have already proved. Much less to be regarded is the authority of Mr. St. Evremond in his censure upon Tacitus: his observations are without depth, to say no worse; nor have I found in his Works any political observations remarkable for solidity and force. What he has said of the Romans, is superficial, and often wrong.

Tacitus knew perfectly the Laws of History, and blames the passionate and partial accounts given by those who described the same reigns; since those of them which were written during the lives of the Princes, were falsified through dread of their Tyranny, and when dead, through detestation of their late cruelties. He had no motive to be Edition: current; Page: [44]partial; free as he was from affection, free from resentment. He knew that truth uncorrupted was the Business of an Historian, and that personal affection and hate should have no share in the work; nec amore quisquam, & sine odio dicendus est. Of Galba, Otho, and Vitellius he says, that to him they were known by no mark either of favour or diskindness. The same is true of Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero. He shews how the truth was corrupted, first by flattery, then by resentment; and professes to be far from either. I think he is as good as his word.

Sect. X.: An Apology for the wrong account by Tacitus given of the Jews and Christians, and for his disregard of the Religion then received.

THERE are other accusations against Tacitus: he has misrepresented the Jews and Christians, and wanted Religion.

Concerning the Jews, he followed the tradition and accounts current amongst the Romans. He tells you what different relations there were, and neither adds any thing, nor misrepresents things maliciously. It was an obscure State, generally enslaved to some greater power; to the Assyrians, Ægyptians, Grecians, and then to the Romans; and contemned by all, as much as they themselves hated all. They had not common mercy or charity toward the Gentiles and uncircumcised; and being persuaded that the Almighty loved only themselves, they fancied that he abhorred, and therefore they abhorred, the whole human race besides: so that it was said by Tacitus too truly, adversus omnes alios hostile odium. They were likewise ever solicitous to hide their mysteries from the Edition: current; Page: [45]eyes of the Heathens, and could not blame them for not knowing what was not to be known. Yet he was not ill informed in some instances, especially in their spiritual notions of the Deity, with their aversion to Images, and to the adoration of the Emperors: nulla simulacra urbibus suis; non regibus hæc adulatio, non Cæsaribus honor.

Of the Gospel it is manifest he knew nothing; he could not else have made so ugly a picture of those who professed it; for it is not likely that the Christians were yet so degenerated as to disgrace the Christian Religion. Tacitus wanted an opportunity to be better informed. That Religion, as it began among the lower sort of people, had not probably hitherto gained many proselytes of name and quality, to countenance and recommend it to men of figure. Tacitus considered it like a Statesman, as a new Sect inconsistent with the Laws of Rome, and threatning civil tumults and innovations. It is probable too he had heard and credited the calumnies then usually thrown upon the manners and meetings of that people. Nor after the best instruction could he have become a Believer without the illumination of the Spirit; which, it is plain, was withheld from him: and, without a change of heart, it was impossible for him to conceive the Resurrection of the dead, and the Crucifixion of the Son of God. Yet he does them the justice to vindicate them from the obloquy of Nero, and exposes the barbarity of their treatment by that Tyrant.

For his disregarding the Religion then received, when I consider what sorts of absurdities the Pagans held for Religion, I cannot so much blame him. It was a worship paid to Deities altogether frantick and impure, by sacrifices and follies ridiculous and vain; and both their Worship and their Gods were invented by the cunning or delusion of men. It Edition: current; Page: [46]consisted in no purification of heart, nor amendment of morals; the things which men and societies require; but in sounds, gesticulation, and the blood of beasts; not in truth and sense, in benevolence and rectitude of mind; but in lying oracles, unaccountable mysteries, and a raving imagination; sometimes in professed acts of lewdness; often in those of fury and madness; always in such as were foreign from real virtue, and the restraining of the passions. Public calamities were never thought to be brought down by public depravity and vice, nor to be averted or removed by public reformation. The Gods were not offended but by the omission, or wrong performance of some ceremony or grimace; and by grimace and ceremony they were to be appeased. And when the Deities were deemed to be endowed with the peevishness and caprices of children and apes, or the phrenzy of lunatics, what man of sense could reverence them, or believe in them? It would not have redounded to the reputation of his sense, if he had. Where Religion is pure Superstition, and the belief of it absolutely groundless and blind; where its Rites are fanciful, foolish, and unmanly, as the Religion, and Gods, and Worship of the Pagans were; it would have been a revolt from common Reason to have had any such Religion. We know how freely Cicero deals with their Gods.

It is true that these great men of Rome, who either had no notion of Religion, or one quite opposite to that publicly received and practised, regarded it as far as it was interwoven with the constitution of the State, and subservient to the ends of Government: yet they suffered their Poets, especially the dramatic Poets, to treat their Gods with severe jests and satire. They seemed to be of Tiberius’s mind, Deorum injurias diis curæ; that is, to leave to the Gods the avenging of indignities Edition: current; Page: [47]done to the Gods. Men were punished for their libelling particulars, people of condition, and especially Magistrates; but to ridicule and lampoon the Deities, Jupiter himself, even upon the Stage, was a matter of impunity and diversion.

Their Religion therefore consisting in Rituals, a man might be very religious with a very debauched and libertine Spirit. Cultor deorum parcus & infrequens, is a complaint made by Horace of himself, but does not seem to infer much heavenly-mindedness, nor a departure from his impure pleasures. One might, on the contrary, be exactly good and just, nay the pattern of Virtue, and a public patriot, without any tincture of their Religion. Such was Cato the Censor, such Epicurus, and such was Tacitus. He thought that either there was no Providence (for his mind wavered between the doctrine of necessity and that of chance) or such a Providence as he could have well spared; non esse curæ Deis securitatem nostram, esse ultionem. But this bold reproach upon the Deities, he uttered after his heart, zealous for the good of his Country, had been heated by a terrible detail of her Calamities.

Nor indeed, according to the ideas conceived of these odd Beings, so easily humoured and provoked, could one say much good of them, or expect it from them. In the reign of Nero he enumerates many presages, from which, as from signals divinely sent, great changes for the better were inferred; but all vanished into air and disappointment; prodigia crebra & inrita intercessere, &c. Hence he argues, that all these omens happened so apparently without any direction or interposition of the Gods, that, for many years after, Nero rioted in power and wickedness.

Whatever were the speculations of our Author about Religion, his Morality is strong and Edition: current; Page: [48]pure, full of benevolence to human society, full of every generous passion, and every noble principle; a terrible rebuke to iniquity, vice and baseness, in all stations and shapes; and one continued lesson of wisdom and virtue. These are the excellencies which in civil life recommend Books and Men; these the excellencies which recommend Tacitus; excellencies which he has carried as high as the utmost efforts of human genius could carry them. Mr. Bayle says, Ses Annales & son Histoire sont quelque chose d’admirable, & l’un des plus grands efforts de l’esprit humain; soit que l’on y considere la singularité du stile, soit que l’on s’attache à la beauté des penses, & à cet heureux pinceau avec lequel il a sçu peindre les disguisemens & les fourberies des politiques, & le foible des passions.

Nor does he shew more abilities than probity, as astonishing as his abilities were; and having so much, what more did he want for his design? or what more could we wish in him? Which is the better instructor, he who has store of saith, but wants virtue, and abounds not in good sense; or he who wants the first, but abounds in knowledge and the rules of righteousness? It is for this we consult Tacitus, not for his Theological Speculations. How do his metaphysical notions impede his excellencies as an Historian and Politician; or his mistakes in one thing, lessen his discernment and veracity in another?

According to the accounts of our best Travellers concerning China, the Mandarins who are the Nobility of the country, the Learned, and such as hold the Magistracy, have no religion at all, their governing principle is publick spirit; their principal study the good of the State; and they are noted for politeness and virtue. The Bonzes or Priests, on the contrary, pretend to extraordinary devotion; but are vicious, sordid, base, and void Edition: current; Page: [49]of every virtue private or public. Here is an instance of a Monarchy the most thriving of any upon earth, or that ever was upon earth; an Empire that contains more people than half the rest of the globe, these people full of industry and arts; yet administred by men who are of no particular Religion, or Sect, but are guided by the natural lights of Reason and Morality; nor knows it a greater blot and disgrace than the vile lives of its Priests and Religious.

Against this instance set another, that of the Pope’s Dominions, the center of the Romish Religions; where holy men sway all things, and have engrossed all things; where tortures and flames keep out Infidels and Heretics, and every man who thinks awry; and where the champions for devotion, so called, protect the Church, and feed themselves. Now where but here should one look for the marks of opulence, ease, and plenty, and public happiness, if by an Administration of Priests and Devotees, public happiness were advanced? But behold a different and melancholy scene! Countries fertile, but desolate; the people ignorant, idle, and starving, and all the marks and weight of Misery!

Does not this merit reflection, that a Church blended and debauched with excessive wealth and power, is worse, a thousand times worse than none; and that the mere light of nature and reason is many degrees more conducive to the temporal welfare of humankind, than a Religion or Church which is purely lucrative and selfish? Were the Romish Church, or any other Church that teaches pains and penalties; any that exalts Ecclesiastics into power, and leaves them the sword, or weilds it for them, once established in China; there would in a little time be an end of their incredible numbers; and it would soon feel the cruel curse attending the change. In this sentiment I am vouched by that Edition: current; Page: [50]polite Writer, and candid Prelate, Dr. Tillotson: “Better it were, says he, there were no revealed Religion, and that human nature were left to the conduct of its own principles and inclinations, which are much more mild and merciful, much more for the peace and happiness of human society; than to be acted by a Religion that inspires men with so wild a fury, and prompts them to commit such outrages.” Serm. Vol. I. p. 206.

Make another comparison between two particuculars, a Heathen guided by reason, and a Christian by passion and false zeal; between Tacitus and St. Jerom; behold the politeness, candour, eternal truth, and good sense in the one; mark the rashness and enthusiasm, the fierceness and falshood of the other. So much stronger were the passions and insincerity of this great Saint, than the impressions of the Christian Religion, which is all meekness and candour; nay, he often makes it a stale for his fury, forgeries, and implacable vengeance. I meddle not with his strange maxims, some foolish, some mad, many impracticable, and others turbulent and seditious. In Tacitus you have the good sense and breeding of a Gentleman; in the Saint the rage and dreams of a Monk. Does the religion of the latter recommend his reveries and bitter spirit; or the want of it in Tacitus, weaken the shining truths that are in him?

When a Writer relates facts, or reasons from principles, his good sense and veracity only are to be regarded; and we have no more to do with his speculations or mistakes in other matters, than with his person or complection. Pliny and Aristotle are reckoned Atheists; but what is this to their fine parts and learning? With small spirits and bigots every thing that is noble and free, is Atheism and Blasphemy. The littleness and sourness Edition: current; Page: [51]of their own hearts, is the measure of all things. Nerva, Trajan, and Marcus Aurelius were Heathen Princes; but they had virtue and benevolence, and their administration was righteous: what more did their subjects want from them? Justinian, Constantius, John Basilowitz, John Galeas, and Lewis the eleventh were Christian Princes, and men pretending to high Devotion; some of them great contenders for Orthodoxy, and great builders of Churches; but all barbarous and consuming Tyrants. What were the people or themselves the better for their Religion, without good nature and probity? Nay, they made Religion one of the principal machines for Tyranny; as Religion in a Tyrant or Impostor is little else but an impious bargain and composition with God for abusing men.

Such in truth is the situation of things below, such the frame and foible of men, that it depends in a great measure upon Civil Government, whether Religion shall in this world do good or harm. Is a country filled with oppression, the happier for being filled too with Churches and Priests, as were Greece and Italy by Justinian? Or can a country that abounds in virtue, and happiness, and good Laws, want any more to all the purposes of social life; like Lacedæmon and Rome in their best ages? Let us praise all who have true Religion, full of mercy, and void of bigotry; but let us not condemn such as, for want of the same lights and revelation which we have been blessed with, are, without any forms of Religion, virtuous and wise. Certainly worse, much worse than none, is that Religion which inspires pride, bigotry, and fierceness, and hath not charity for all men.

To conclude this head, I shall here subjoin what I have said elsewhere to the like purpose; “That black is not white, and that two and two make four, Edition: current; Page: [52]is as true out of the mouth of an Atheist, as out of the mouth of an Apostle. A penny given by an Atheist to a beggar, is better alms than a half-penny given by a Believer; and the good sense of an Atheist is preferable to the mistakes of a good Christian. In short, whatever reputed Atheists do well, or speak truly, is more to be imitated and credited, than what the greatest Believers do wickedly, or say falsely. Even in the business of bearing testimony, or making a report, in which cases the credit or reputation of the witness gives some weight, or none, to what he says; more regard is to be had to the word of an Unbeliever, who has no interest on either side, than to the word of a Believer, who has; neither are the good or bad actions of an Atheist worse, with respect to the world at least, for his being one; though the sin of a Saint is more sinful than that of a Pagan. It is the greatest folly to think that any man’s crimes are the less for him who commits them; or that truth is less or more truth, for the ill or good name of him who speaks it.”

Sect. XI.: The foolish censure of Boccalini and others upon Tacitus.

THE censure passed upon Tacitus by Boccalini and some of the other Commentators, as if he maliciously taught lessons of Tyranny; is so senseless and absurd, that it merits no notice, much less consutation. As well may they say that Luther and father Paul display the encroachments and frauds of the Church of Rome, on purpose to teach that or other Churches how to oppress and deceive; or that Livy, as great a Republican as ever lived, exposed the usurpations and Tyranny of Tarquin, in order to instruct Edition: current; Page: [53]Usurpers to support themselves and extinguish public liberty. Tacitus represents Tyrants as odious to all men, and even to themselves. But what answer could one give to a man who should advance that Grotius wrote his Book of the Truth of Christianity, with a view to promote and confirm Paganism?

Sect. XII.: Of the several Commentators and Translators of Tacitus.

IT were almost endless to mention all who have written upon Tacitus, and their success; numbers have done it, many as Critics, some politically; and several of the former with sufficiency and applause, such as Lipsius, Freinshemius, old Gronovius, and Ryckius. From the edition published by this last I have made my Translation; the text is very correct, and his notes are judicious and good. Of all those who have commented upon his Politics, I can commend but very few; I mean such as I have seen; many of them are worse than indifferent; tedious compilations of common places, or heavy paraphrases upon the original, where its vigour is lost in superfluous explications; and the lively thoughts of Tacitus converted into lifeless maxims; frequently wrong converted; frequently trifling and affected; often such discoveries as are obvious to every peasant or child; or puffy declamations, tedious, laboured and uninstructive. Of one or the other sort are the Commentaries of Boccalini, Annibal Scoti, Forstnerus, Schildus, and divers others.

Mr. Amelot De La Houssaye has made a large collection of political observations upon Tacitus, as far as the thirteenth Annal inclusive; some of them pertinent and useful; but many Edition: current; Page: [54]of them insipid, and little worth. The very first which he makes, is flat and poor; dés que la Roïauté commence a degénérer en tyrannie, le peuple aspire à la liberté. Little better is this; quand un Prince commence à devenir infirme, ou cassé, tout le monde tourne les yeux vers le soleil levant, c’est à dire, vers son successeur; or this; les refus du Prince doivent être assaisonnez de douceur & de courtoisie; or this; ceux même qui ont renoncé à leur honneur, & qui font gloire de leur sceleratesse, s’offensent d’etre appellez traitres; or this; un bon General ne doit jamais hazarder une bataille, qu’il n’ait mis bon ordre par tout; this too; il n’y a rien dont un Favori, ou un premier Ministre, doive se mettre plus en peine, que de bien connoitre l’humeur de son Prince; this too; un Prince dépoüillé de ses Etats ne reste pas volontiers entre les mains de celui qui en est emparé. All this is trite, void of force and instruction.

The Spanish Translation by Don Alamos De Barrientos, is accompanied with numerous Annotations, by him stiled Aforismos, which are as indifferent and impotent as the Translation it self is good and strong. His observation upon, cuncta discordiis civilibus fessa, nomine principis sub imperium accepit, is, Quando alguno se viniere a hazer Senor de una grande, y poderosa cividad libre, lo mas ordinario serà despues de una larga guerra civil; “the opportunity for any one to become master of a great and powerful free City, is most commonly at the end of a great civil war.” Tacitus says that Augustus left the first Lords of the Senate his heirs in the third degree, though most of them were hated by him; plerosque invisos sibi, sed jactantia gloriaque ad posteros. Don Alamos observes upon this; El principe muchas vezes haze honra a las personas que aborrece, para gagnar fama de modestia y sufrimiento; “a Prince often confers honours on those he hates, purely for the reputation of moderation Edition: current; Page: [55]and temper.” Tacitus says of Germanicus, anxius occultis in se patrui aviæque odiis, quorum caussæ acriores, quia iniquæ; El hombre inocente y bueno, (says Don Alamos by way of Annotation) de ninguna cosa recibe tanta congoxa, como de los secretos aborrecimientos que sabe le tienen sus parientos, sin merecerlo; “a worthy and innocent man feels so much anguish from nothing as from the secret hate which he knows his parents bear him, without deserving it.”

OF small value are such reflections, and small thought they cost to produce them; the less is the wonder that Don Alamos has vented such a myriad. Canini, an Italian, has however translated them into his own language, with high encomiums, and published them with the Italian Translation of Politi, a Translation which reads well, but hampers the thoughts of Tacitus, and from an affectation to be as concise as the original, loses much of its weight and spirit. Don Alamos, on the contrary, opens the sentiments of Tacitus fully, often over-fully, by supplemental parentheses, that are sometimes perfectly needless, and always mar and embarrass the reading.

These are the only Spanish and Italian Versions which I have seen of Tacitus. There are two more of the former, by Sueyro and Coloma, both well esteemed; and as many more Italian by Dati and Davanzati, not at all commended. Of French Translations there are five or six, all, except two, good for little, some of them good for nothing. These two are by Mr. D’Harlay De Chanvallon, who has done the whole, Mr. Amelot De La Houssaye, who has only gone as far as the thirteenth Annal. The former is vigorous and just, like that of a man of sense and observation; nor has the latter any advantage over him, save that his French is more Edition: current; Page: [56]modern, if that be any. Ablancourt is likewise one of the French Translators of Tacitus, a man of name and of a flowing stile; but if he has abused other Authors as he has abused and transformed Tacitus, it is fit they were all done over again. There is some life in him, and harmony, but no justness nor strength. All the force and fine ideas of Tacitus are lost in Ablancourt.

Sect. XIII.: A Conjecture concerning the modern Languages, more largely concerning the English.

OF the French Tongue itself I may venture to say, after better judges than my self, that from a laxness and effeminacy essential to it, it cannot naturalize the strong expressions of the Ancients, without spreading and weakening them considerably. It has a number of relatives, particles and monosyllables that return incessantly, and flatten the sense, and tire the ear. The English Language has indeed many words more harsh than the French; but it has likewise many more spirituous and sounding; and though it be also loaded with relatives, particles and words of one syllable, yet I think not to the same degree, nor do those we have return so often; and we can frequently drop the particles, and leave them to be understood, as well as the relatives.

In this respect the Latins had an advantage over the Greeks; as those two Languages have over every other that is now in the world, or perhaps ever was. We are infinitely behind them in significancy and sound, and, with all our adventitious words and refinements, are still crude and gothick to them. Nearest in Language to the Ancients come the Spaniards and Italians, though still far behind; yet they stand over the heads of the English Edition: current; Page: [57]and French, and walk while we creep. The Spanish is the more sonorous and lofty; the Italian the more sweet and gliding; and both excel in harmony, numerosity, and the pomp of words. The Italians seem to have spoiled their Tongue, by wild hyperboles, and phrases of mere sound and compliment; whether it be from the turn of the nation to Love and Music; whether it be from the Legends of their Saints, and their extravagant Panegyrics upon them, or from their Slavery to Churchmen, or the Severity of their Government, or from what other cause, I do not pretend to determine.

The French profess to have greatly refined their Tongue; and it is indeed brought to be exceeding glib and perspicuous; but whether the refiners have not pared away its strength to make it more shapely and regular, has been doubted. Some refinements we also have made in ours, perhaps by imitating the French; though I hope we have better preserved its force. Easy writing has been studied to affectation; a sort of writing, which, where the thoughts are not close, the sense strong, and the phrase genteel, is of all others the most contemptible. Such were the productions of Sir Roger L’Estrange, not fit to be read by any who have taste or good breeding; they are full of technical terms, of phrases picked up in the street from apprentices and porters, and nothing can be more low and nauseous. His sentences, besides their grossness, are lively nothings, which can never be translated (a sure way to try language) and will hardly bear repetition. Between hawk and buzzard: clawed him with kindness: alert and frisky: guzzling down tipple: would not keep touch: a queer putt: lay cursed hard upon their gizzard: cram his gut: conceited noddy: old chuff: and the like, are some of Sir Roger’s choice flowers. Yet this man was reckoned a Master, nay a Reformer of the English Edition: current; Page: [58]Language; a man who writ no Language; nor does it appear that he understood any; witness his miserable Translations of Cicero’s Offices and Josephus. That of the latter is a Version full of mistakes, wretched and low, from an easy and polite one of Monsieur D’Andilly.

Sir Roger is one amongst the several hands who attempted Tacitus, and the third Book of the History is said to be done by him. He knew not a word of it but what he has taken from Sir Henry Savill, and him he has wretchedly perverted and mangled. Out of the wise and grave mouth of Tacitus he brings such quaint stuff as this; to cast the point upon that issue: — sneaking departure of Vitellius:at the rate of a man at his wit’s end: — sottish multitude never went beyond bawling: — an Emperor lugg’d out of his hole: — the sexton of the Capitol: — the Government dropt into Vespasian’s mouth: — not cut out for a soldier: — went not a sneaking way to work:Valens in the interim with his dissolute train of capons: [into this senseless cant word Sir Roger elegantly changes that of Eunuchs used by Sir H. Savill; for I dare say he neither saw nor knew the original, agmine spadonum]: the Emperor guzzling and gormandizing like a beast.

Such jargon is hardly good enough for a Puppet-shew. Sir Roger had a genius for buffoonry and a rabble, and higher he never went; his stile and his thoughts are too vulgar for a sensible artificer. To put his Books into the hands of youth or boys, for whom chiefly Æsop, by him burlesqued, was designed, is to vitiate their taste, and to give them a poor low turn of thinking; not to mention the vile and slavish principles of the man. He has not only turned Æsop’s plain Beasts, from the simplicity of nature, into Jesters and Bussoons; but out of the mouths of animals inured to the Edition: current; Page: [59]boundless freedom of air and desarts, has drawn doctrines of servitude, and a defence of Tyranny.

The taste and stile of the Court is always the standard of the public. At the Restoration, a time of great festivity and joy, the formal and forbidding gravity of the preceding times, became a fashionable topic of ridicule; a manner different and opposite was introduced; jest and waggery were encouraged; and the King himself delighted in drollery, and low humour. Hence the Language became replete with ludicrous phrases; archness and cant grew diverting; the writings of witlings passed for wit; and if they were severe upon the Sectaries, as the fashion was, they pleased the Court. By this means L’Estrange got his character. It is very true that there appeared at the same time men of just wit, and polite stile; but it cannot be denied but that the other manner was prevalent; the greatest wits sometimes fell into it.

This humour ended not with that Reign, nor the next, but was continued after the Revolution by L’Estrange, Tom Brown, and other delighters in low jests, their imitators; and such witlings have contributed considerably to debauch our Tongue. If we go so high as Queen Elizabeth’s time, we shall find that a good stile began then to be used, agreeably to the good sense of that Princess, and her Court; and we have the Language of that age in Sir Walter Raleigh, whose genius was too just and strong to go into the miserable pedantry of the next reign. Many of the productions then, and particularly the Royal productions, are wretched beyond measure; (I wish the honour and politics of those days had been better) nor could so considerable a man as Sir Francis Bacon escape the infection.

The next Prince affected a high and rigid gravity, and a pomp and solemnity of stile became Edition: current; Page: [60]common; yet the Language began to recover, when the cant and enthusiasm ensuing, gave it a new turn extremely insipid and offensive. But between the reign of King James and the Restoration, several Writers appeared eminently happy in their stile: such particularly was Mr. Chillingworth, whose language is flowing, and free as his own candid spirit. The same character is due to the excellent Lord Falkland, and Mr. Hales of Eaton. Mr. Hobbes’s English is beautiful almost, if not altogether, beyond example; nothing can be finer than his way of expressing his thoughts; his stile is as singularly good, charming and clear, as many of his principles are dangerous and false. Under this character of his stile I do not comprize his Translation of Thucydides; as it does not, however just it be, resemble his other Works. Hence I am inclinable to believe what I have heard, that it was done by some of his disciples, and by him revised; yet it far excels most of our Translations. Milton’s English Prose is harsh and uncouth, though vigorous and expressive. The stile of Selden and Hammond is rugged and perplexed.

Sect. XIV.: A Conjecture concerning the present state of the English Tongue, with an account of the present Work.

OF the Character of Writing in our own time, were I to give my opinion, I should be apt to say, that in general it comes too near to talking; a method which will hardly make it delightful or lasting; no words upon paper will have the same effect as words accompanied with a voice, looks and action; hence the thoughts and language should be so far raised as to supply the want of those advantages; but indeed this is impossible, and therefore there is the Edition: current; Page: [61]greater cause for heightening the stile; now because laboured periods are offensive, and flat ones are insipid, the excellency lies between pomp and negligence. Let it be as easy as you please, but let it be strong; two advantages that are very compatible, and often found in the same writer. Livy is remarkable for both; it is his eloquence and ornaments which have preserved him in such esteem, as much as his matter and good sense. The late Lord Shaftesbury, though he has been perhaps too anxious and affected in forming his phrase to easiness and fluency, has yet had good success; since it is manifest that his soft alluring stile has multiplied his Readers, and helped powerfully to recommend his Works. Dr. Burnet of the Charter-House wrote with great eloquence and majesty, yet easy and unaffected. Dr. Tillotson’s stile is plain and pleasant, enlivened too with fine images, and strong sense; yet many, while they strove to imitate him, have written very poorly. This has happened to some of our Divines, who, studying his manner, but wanting his genius, have uttered a flow of words, which sound not ill, but lack spirit and matter. I have looked over whole pages of Bishop Blackal’s Sermons, without finding any thing which offended the ear, or pleased the imagination, or informed the understanding. I cannot help mentioning here another Writer, who has gained great reputation for Stile, without deserving any; I mean Dr. Sprat, Bishop of Rochester. His expression is languishing and insipid, full of false pomp, full of affectation. He is always aiming at harmony and wit, but succeeds ill; for his manner is starched and pedantic. With much greater justice has the Stile of Dr. Atterbury, his successor, been admired.

Our Tongue is naturally cold, and the less force our words have, the more they must be multiplied; Edition: current; Page: [62]this multiplying of words is tedious; thence the remedy is as bad as the disease. The Latin phrases, on the contrary, are short and lively, and a few words convey many images. These difficulties, with many others, I found in this Translation very sensibly. I wanted new words, but have rarely coined any, as the creating of words is generally thought affected and vain; yet I have sometimes ventured upon a new phrase, and a way of my own, upon drawing the English idiom as near as possible to that of the Latin, and to the genius of my Author; by leaving the beaten road, dropping particles, transposing words, and sometimes beginning a sentence where it is usual to end it. I have studied to imitate the spirit, eloquence and turns of Tacitus, as far as I could, assisted by a Language weak in its sounds, and loose in its contexture. This manner of writing, I own, would be strange and even ridiculous in plain and familiar subjects; but where the subject is high and solemn, there must be a conformity of stile.

In the political Discourses following, I have likewise taken a method of my own, in reasoning largely upon topics which to me seemed of the most moment to this free Nation, and giving an idea of the politics of the Cæsars; of the vis, artes, & instrumenta regni, as they are called by Tacitus. I have vindicated the principles of civil Liberty; I have examined the defences made for Cæsar and Augustus; I have displayed the genius of these Usurpers; the temper and debasement of the people; with the conduct and tyranny of their successors, to the end of the Annals. In my Translation of the History I have done the same. I have little troubled myself with the strife and guesses of Commentators, and various Readings. I have chosen the best editions, and where the meaning was dubious, taken the most probable; for, Edition: current; Page: [63]after all, there is a good deal of guess-work and uncertainty; difficulties not peculiar to Tacitus.

I was persuaded to this undertaking several years ago by a friend of mine, a Gentleman of Letters in the City; for then I had never seen the English Translation, and knew not but it was a good one. Mr. Trenchard approved the design with his usual zeal for every thing which favoured public Liberty. My Lord Carteret, who understands Tacitus perfectly, and admires him, was pleased to think me not unfit for it, and gave me many just lights about the manner of doing it; that particularly of allowing my self scope and freedom, without which I am satisfied every Translation must be pedantic and cold. A Translation ought to read like an Original. The Duke of Argyll espoused it generously, with that frankness which is natural to him, agreeably to his knowledge and taste of polite Learning, and to his sincere love of Liberty. So did my Lord Townshend. Sir Robert Walpole encouraged me in the pursuit of it in a manner eminently to my credit; and to many Gentlemen of my acquaintance I am much obliged upon this occasion. I own I have been long about this Translation; that I was so, is to be ascribed not so much to idleness, as to diffidence. It was done a long while before I put it to the press; after all my care and many revises, I continued apprehensive that much fault might be found, and many objections made; a misfortune which I still doubt I shall not be able to escape, and wish I may not deserve. I therefore rely more on the candour of my Readers, than on my own sufficiency. Those of them who understand Tacitus in the original, will easily make allowances for the difficulty of making him speak any other Language. I have been chiefly careful not to mistake the sentiments of my Author about human Nature and Government; Edition: current; Page: [64]and I will venture to say, that no man who has not accustomed himself to think upon these two subjects, can ever make tolerable sense of Tacitus, let him be as learned in other things as he will. For the same reason, no man that is merely Learned, can ever be pleased with a free Translation, however faithful and just; for his chief attachment will ever be to Words and Criticism. Who had more Learning than Sir H. Savill? ’tis plain he abounded beyond most men; but I suppose Learning was his chief accomplishment; and thence his Translation is a very poor one. The fault cannot be ascribed to the time; for at that time the polite world wrote and spoke well; and if Sir Walter Raleigh had then translated it, no body I believe would have ever attempted to mend it.

DISCOURSE III.: Upon Cæsar the Dictator.

Sect. I.: Of Cæsar’s Usurpation, and why his Name is less odious than that of Catiline.

NOTHING has been hitherto found a sufficient check and barrier to the exorbitant passions of men; neither kindness nor severity; nor mulcts nor pain; nor honour; nor infamy; nor the terrors of death. A proof how far human malice or ambition is an over-match for human wisdom; since Laws and Constitutions framed by the best and wisest men, have, first or last, become the sport and conquest of the worst, sometimes of the most foolish. Could wise Establishments have ensured the stability of a State, that of Rome had Edition: current; Page: [65]been immortal. Besides adopting all the best Institutions of the free States of Greece, a her principal struggle and employment for some Centuries, was the subduing of foreign enemies by Arms, and the securing of domestic Liberty by wholsome Laws; and for Laws and Arms she was the wonder and the glory of the earth. But she, whose force and policy no power could withstand, not that of Greece nor of Carthage, nor of the World, fell by the corruption, and perfidiousness, and violence of her own Citizens. The only sword that could hurt her, was her own; with that she trusted Cæsar, and that he turned unnaturally upon his own mother, and by it enslaved her.

Catiline’s conspiracy and crime every man detests; yet Cæsar accomplished what Catiline only intended. Had he better qualities than Catiline? he was so much the worse, and able to do higher mischiefs. See how infatuation prevails! the same men who abhor Catiline, admire Cæsar, who actually did more evil than ever the wicked heart of Catiline had conceived. But Catiline had no success, nor consequently flatterers. Had he succeeded, had he entailed Rome upon his race, and such as would have been concerned to have guarded his fame; there would not have been wanting flattering Poets and Historians to have echoed his Praises and Genius divine, his Eloquence, Courage, Liberality and Politics, and how much the degeneracy of Rome wanted such a Reformer, with every other topic urged in defence of Cæsar. But Catiline failed, and is owned to have been a Traitor. Cæsar’s iniquity was triumphant, so was his name; and after-ages have continued to reverence him by the force of habit, and of superstition which swallows every thing, examines Edition: current; Page: [66]nothing. When popular opinion has consecrated a man or a name, all that man’s actions, however wicked or foolish, and every thing done under that name, are sure to be consecrated too. The force of authority is irresistible and infatuating, and reason and truth must yield to prejudice and words.

Sect. II.: Of the publick Corruption by Cæsar promoted or introduced; with his bold and wicked Conduct.

WAS the Commonwealth become disjointed and corrupt; as in truth it was deeply and dangerously? who had contributed so much as Cæsar to that wicked work? From his first appearance in the world he confederated with every public Incendiary, with every troubler of the peace of the State, with every Traitor against his Country: insomuch that he was divested of the dignity of Prætor by a solemn Decree of Senate: and when he sollicited for the Consulship, his ambition and violent designs were so much apprehended in that supreme Office b , that to check him with a proper Collegue, the Senators contributed a great sum of money; nor did even Cato deny but that such contribution, however against Law, was necessary then to save the State c .

He began that Office with violent acts of power; by violence dispossessed his Collegue of all Share in the Administration; and, during the whole term, he raised and pulled down, gave and took away by mere will and power, whatsoever and whomsoever he would; terrified some, imprisoned others; forged

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plots, suborned lying accusers, and then murdered them, and trampled upon all Faith and Law.

To escape punishment for all these outrages, he corrupted and bribed the people, to chuse his own creatures into the Magistracy, or bribed the Magistrates after they were chosen. He went so far as even to engage some of them, by oath and writing, never to call him to account, nor suffer him to be called.

By the same wicked methods he obtained for his lot the province of Gaul, and kept it for ten years, committing fresh treason every day; making war of his own head, right or wrong, upon friend and foe; insomuch that it was proposed in Senate to deliver him up to the enemy; but faction and bribery saved him, and from the most extensive rapine he derived his power of bribing. He feasted the people; he gave them largesses; he gained the Senators by money, the soldiers by donatives; nay, the favourite servants and lowest slaves of considerable men, were bribed by him. Every prodigal, every expensive youth, every man indebted and desperate, every criminal, found in him a ready support and protector; and when their expences, debts, and crimes, were so excessive as to admit of no relief from him, to such he was wont to preach the absolute necessity of a Civil War.

Nor did foreign Kings and Nations escape his court and gifts; upon them he bestowed aids, and arms, and captives, all belonging to the Roman people, and without their authority; thus to purchase foreign friendship against a day of usurpation and need. To do all this he robbed the Provinces, plundered Towns, pillaged Temples, even the Capitol he plundered, whence he stole a vast quantity of gold, and placed so much gilt brass in the room of it, and put whole Kingdoms and Provinces under contribution to his privy purse.

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How many thousand deaths did this man deserve, even before he had committed his capital iniquity! It was he who thus principally corrupted the State, and embroiled it, and unsettled it in all its parts.

He offered indeed to disband his forces, if Pompey would do so too; but even this offer was giving law to Rome. The Senate was to judge, and not Cæsar, what armies were to be disbanded, what to be retained. Besides, even that proposal was justly suspected to have been faithless and hollow; since, had he executed the same, it had been easier for him to have re-assembled upon occasion his veteran soldiers, than for Pompey his troops lately levied.

Had there been no corruption in the State, such a man was enough to introduce it. From his infancy he was thought to have meditated the enslaving of his Country, and in order to enslave it, created corruption, or improved it. To commit the blackest treason and iniquity that the malice of man could devise, he stuck at no other, but by a Babel of crimes accomplished the highest.

Sect. III.: Cæsar might have purified and reformed the State; but far different were his intentions. His Art, good Sense, and continued ill Designs.

DID the State want reforming? why did not Cæsar reform and restore it? This would have been true glory, the only true use of his absolute power, and the only amends for having assumed it. The work too was practicable; the wisest and greatest men in Rome thought it so, even after all the poison and depravity introduced by him. Brutus, Cicero, and the Senate thought so; else he would never have been put to Death by those who did it. If the State had been Edition: current; Page: [69]deemed irretrievable, and an Usurper a necessary evil, they could not have had a better than Cæsar. But they judged otherwise, and for some time Liberty was actually restored. Why it subsisted no longer, was owing to casualties and the faithlessness of Octavius. No human wisdom can take in all incidents and possibilities at one view; to see them by succession is often to see them too late; and against what is not foreseen no remedy can be provided. Cicero who swayed the Senate, in hatred to Anthony, trusted Octavius too much, and raised him too high, and was by that false creature given up to the slaughter, to satiate the vengeance of Anthony, to cement their late union, and to begin the bloody Tragedy which they had meditated against their Country and her Liberty, by the murder of so signal a Patriot. What followed was horrible, continued massacres and the rage of the sword, the people armed against one another, two thirds of them destroyed, and Augustus established Sovereign over the rest. He too thought it possible to resettle the old free State, by proposing once or twice to resign; however insincere he were, it was a confession that he thought it to be practicable; and Drusus, his wife’s son, declared his own purpose to effect it; nay, it was what Tiberius, after he was Emperor, pretended to do.

Cæsar was said to have foretold the public Calamities and Civil Wars to ensue: Why did he not prevent them? By his Dictatorial power he might have removed what enormities, and made what regulations he would, suppressed the insolence of particulars, revived the force of the Laws, and reduced the Commonwealth to her first principles and firmness. Instead of this, he continued, more and more, to break her remaining balance, to Edition: current; Page: [70]weaken and debauch the people, and to destroy every Law of Liberty.

Liberty and the Republic were a jest to Cæsar; he treated the very name with ridicule and contempt d ; he punned upon Sylla for resigning his usurped power. He had nothing in his head or heart but absolute rule, a Diadem, the title of King, and controuling the world according to his lust e ; nay, to have his very words go for Laws f ; and as a proof that he meant to entail all this pompous Dominion upon his Race, he had a Law ready to be proposed for a privilege of taking as many Wives as he thought fit, and of what quality and condition he thought fit. His acts of Tyranny were indeed so many, so high and insupportable, that even his dear friends the populace, notwithstanding all his bounties, his feasts and shews, and all his other arts to sooth and debauch them, grew sullen and discontented; they declaimed against such usurpation, in their houses and in the Forum; they called aloud for avengers, and gave him public affronts.

By the Laws of Rome the Dominion of one, and consequently the dominion of Cæsar, was detestable and accursed, and any man was warranted to slay the Tyrant g : Nor was there any valid reason against killing Cæsar, but that somewhat as bad or worse was to follow. Now the best and ablest Romans judged otherwise, as I have shewn; and who was better qualified to judge? As to Cæsar’s prophecy of worse times, it was deciding Edition: current; Page: [71]in his own favour, and not to be credited; and there was policy in it as well as vanity.

The accomplishments of Cæsar, the mildness of his administration, and mercy to his enemies, have been much magnified. It is certain he had exquisite abilities and address; but how did he apply them? Was it not to be the Master of mankind? and was not this, interest and self-love? What could be more interested, what more selfish, than to take the world to himself? Cæsar had good sense and experience; he knew that particular acts of cruelty and revenge were odious, even more odious than the slaughter of thousands, under the title of war and conquest, however unprovoked and unjust: So much more quarter from the world has ambition than cruelty, though the former is often the more mischievous passion. He knew, that, while general acts of blood would pass for Heroism, fit to be distinguished with praise and laurels, a particular life, taken away in anger, would pass for barbarity. Such fallacy is there in sounds, and in the imaginations of men! We judge not of evil by its quantity, the true medium of judging, but by its name, and the quality of the doer or sufferer; hence the foolish causes of popularity without merit and innocence. Acts of rage, the execution of particulars, and a vindictive Reign, would have diminished the Hero, and tarnished his fame, as much as his generosity to enemies, his noble contempt of fear and offenders, blazoned his glory, and begot admirers.

Sect. IV.: The probability of his waxing more cruel, had he reigned much longer.

THE generous, the forgiving temper of Cæsar, was no sure warrant, that he would not have broke out into personal cruelties; for, of his public cruelty, Rome and the world were the theatre and Edition: current; Page: [72]the witnesses: He must have acted agreeably to the necessities and jealousy of power, broken those necks which would not bend, and destroyed such as he could not but constantly fear. I own there came after him some Emperors who reigned without many acts of blood; but the sovereignty was then thoroughly established, and they had no high spirits to fear, bred in the notions and possession of Liberty, as were all the Romans in his time. Nor, even after servitude had been begun, and for some time suffered under Cæsar, could the second Triumvirate think themselves secure, till they had destroyed at once by Proscription a whole army of illustrious Romans, such as they conceived would oppose and even extirpate their domination. Nor did this tragical precaution and general barbarity, put an end to barbarity in particular instances; Augustus, for the first years of his Reign, was making almost daily sacrifices of noble blood to his fears and safety.

Power of it self makes men wanton, distrustful and cruel; Cæsar lived not long enough in purple to shew what he would prove; five months were but a short term for trial h . It would be rash to assert, that he who had shed the blood of Nations and Armies, without provocation, without authority; he who had violated Liberty and Law, and put chains upon his Country, and the race of men, would have spared particular lives, when from particular lives he came to apprehend danger and revolt. He that could be piqued even to folly and ridicule, because Aquila the Tribune did not rise as he passed by; he who could not put up this, nor forget it, nor cease mentioning it upon every occasion for a long while after, nor even forbear scolding at it, must have been capable of carrying his resentment Edition: current; Page: [73]very far, as well as of sudden anger; nay, been full of capricious and childish humours. How far such humours, and vanity, and anger might have carried him, he lived not to shew. But he had amply shewn, that his Ambition was dearer to him than Rome and the whole earth, and to this private passion of his, every public regard had yielded; the genuine mark this of a Tyrant, who rules the State for his own sake, and, rather than not rule it, enthralls it! Cæsar, who had committed all wickedness to gain power, would have committed more to have kept it, as soon as he found more to be necessary i .

What avails the fair behaviour of one who may do what he pleases? What avail his fair promises, which he may break when he pleases? The worst of the Roman Emperors began their Reigns well, many of them excellently well; as Nero, Claudius, Caligula, Domitian k ; some of them reigned well for some years. Cæsar was generous, magnificent, and humane to affectation, but l every passion, every sentiment must yield to the ardent lust of reigning. Had it not been for his great and acceptable qualities, he could not have introduced public bondage; the Hero, the Orator, and the fine Gentleman, hid the Usurper, and palliated at least the Usurpation.

Let any man consider Cæsar as a Subject of the State, altogether private; one who never bore Office or Authority; as a Physician, a Scribe or an Artist, or as one just started out of obscurity, or come from another Country; and then ask himself, What has this man, this private unknown man, to Edition: current; Page: [74]do with governing all men against Laws established by all? His being once Consul, his commanding of Armies, and appearing in a great public light; gave him no more right to do what he did, than the quality of an Artist, a Scribe, Physician, Upstart, or stranger, would have given him. Public trusts betrayed were aggravations of his crime, horrible aggravations! so were his excellent parts impiously applied.

Sect. V.: Cæsar no lawful Magistrate, but a public Enemy.

OF Cæsar, his Usurpation and Death, I have reasoned largely elsewhere m , and shall here abridge part of that reasoning. “He had no sort of Title, but success, gained by violence and all wicked means. The acquiring and exercising of Power by force is Tyranny, nor is success any proof of right. If the person of Cæsar was sacred, so is the person of every Usurper and Tyrant; and if all the privileges and impunity belonging to a lawful Magistrate, do also appertain to a lawless Intruder and public Oppressor, then all these blessed consequences follow: There is an utter end of all right and wrong, public and private; every Usurper is a lawful Magistrate; every Magistrate may be a lawless Tyrant; It is unlawful to resist the greatest human evil; the necessary means of self-preservation are unlawful: Though it be lawful and expedient to destroy little Robbers, who are so for subsistence, it is impious and unlawful to oppose great Robbers, who destroy nations out of lust and ambition. Public mischief is defended by giving it a good name, since Tyranny may be practised with Edition: current; Page: [75]impunity, if it be but called Magistracy; and the execrable Authors of it are sacred, if they but call themselves Magistrates; Though it be unlawful to be a public destroyer, yet it is unlawful to destroy him, and to prevent or punish that which is most impious and unlawful. In fine, any man who has wickedness and force enough to destroy or enslave the whole world, may do it, and be safe.

“If Cæsar was a lawful Magistrate, every powerful villain may make himself one, and lawful Magistrates may become such by mere force and iniquity. But if lawful Magistracy be not acquired by violence and butchery, Cæsar was none: if he was not, how came he by the rights and impunity of such?

Against lawless force every man has a right to use force. Cæsar had no more right than Alarick, Attila, or Brennus, who were foreign Invaders; his crime? was greater, as, to that of usurpation, he added those of ingratitude and treachery. It is owned that when he first made war upon his Country, his Country had a right to make war upon him; How came that right to cease, when he had heightened that iniquity by success? Is it lawful to resist a Robber before he has robbed you, but not after? Is a wickedness lessened by aggravations? Cæsar had forfeited his life by all the Laws of Rome; was it not as lawful to take it away by thirty men as by thirty thousand; in the Senate as in the field?

“A private man in society, even capitally injured, must not be his own judge, but leave revenge to the more impartial Law; but a capital offender against all, who sets himself above Law and Judgment, is a public enemy; and violence is the proper remedy for violence, when Edition: current; Page: [76]no other is left. In a State of Nature, every man has a right to vindicate himself; when Society is dissolved, the same right returns. Men can never be deprived of both public protection and private defence.

Cæsar had violated every tye that can bind the human soul; Oaths, Trust, and Law; he had violated every thing dear to human kind, their Peace, Liberty, Rights and Possessions: He did all this by means the most black and flagitious; by Plots, Faction, Corruption, Robbery, Devastation, Sacrilege, and Slaughter.

What was lest to the oppressed Romans to do, under the bonds of the Oppressor with his sword at their throat? Law and Appeals were no more; a Tyrant was their Master; the Will of a Tyrant their Law. Because he had slaughtered and destroyed one half of the people, had he thence a right to govern the rest? There was no public force to oppose him; he had destroyed many of the Armies of the State, and appropriated the rest to himself against the State; it would have been madness to have thought of judicial process. In short, there was no other way of abolishing his Tyranny, but by dispatching the Tyrant.

Sect. VI.: Of the share which Casualties had, in raising the Name and Memory of Cæsar. The Judgment of Cicero concerning him.

PEOPLE suffer their own imaginations to abuse and mislead them. The sound of Cæsar’s Name; the superstitious reverence paid to it, his great employments, great victories, and even his great usurpation, are all pompous images that dazzle the eyes, and give a false lustre to the Edition: current; Page: [77]blackest iniquity and imposture. Nay, it proved an advantage to the fame and defence of Cæsar, that he was assassinated. Hence so much popular pity and lamentation for him; hence so much rage and obloquy upon the Tyrannicides. A violent death or violent sufferings, often pass for great merit, often atone for great crimes; and in the compassion for the doom of criminals the abhorrence of their villainies is often extinguished; malefactors the most barbarous, who never shewed any mercy in their lives, are bewailed at their execution, only because they are executed.

There were circumstances also in his Death favourable to his fame; he died with decency and a manly spirit, and he fell by the hands of his friends. These circumstances, and his bloody shirt displayed to a mob, with an artful melting speech from Anthony, inflamed them with sorrow and fury; two gross passions which do not reason but feel. The same topics have ever since furnished undiscerning Declaimers with big words and vehemence, in behalf of so fine a man, slain for no fault but that of Usurpation and Tyranny; a small crime, that of being the enemy of human kind!

As to the glory and prosperous fortune of this mighty Conqueror, Cicero says, with great truth, “that Felicity is nothing else but good fortune assisting righteous Counsels; nor can he whose purposes are not upright, be, from any success, esteemed in any-wise happy. Hence it is, that from the impious and abandoned pursuits of Cæsar, no true felicity could flow: happier, in my judgment, was Camillus under exile from his Country, than Manlius his co-temporary had been, though he had acquired over his Country that Tyranny which he lusted after n .” The Edition: current; Page: [78]same wise man says elsewhere, “that he would have preferred the last day of Antonius the Orator, tragical as it was, to the usurped rule of Cinna, by whom that worthy Roman was barbarously murdered.” I cannot admire Cæsar’s ambition; he would rather have been Lord of a poor Village, than the second man in Rome. To me it appears more glory to be the Member of a free State, especially of the greatest State upon earth, than a Lord of Slaves, the biggest Lord.

Sect. VII.: How vain it is to extol any Designs of his for the Glory of the Roman people.

IT is said, that Cæsar was meditating great and glorious things for the Roman people, when he was cut off. He might indeed have gathered empty Laurels for himself by more wars at the expence of the people; but how this would have redounded to their advantage, I cannot see. I can easily see, that all the future strength he could have acquired, must have been acquired to himself, and over them; and every accession of power must, by raising his Tyranny higher, have sunk them lower, and streightened their chains. He wanted to fight the Parthians, but first he wanted to be King; and for this purpose a Prophecy was forged, that none but a King could conquer them. Was this impudent forgery too, and the design of it, for the glory of the people who were abused by it? In short, he could have done nothing beneficial or glorious for the Roman people, but to have restored them to their ancient and substantial glory, that of their Liberty and Laws. This too would have been the highest glory of his own life, which, to those who consider things as they are, stripped of foolish fair names and disguises, is, without this, all over black and infamous.

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No man’s life can be said to be detestable, if his was not; seeing all the malefactors condemned since there were men and crimes, did not half the mischief which he did. It was even currently believed (and what worse could be believed of him than he had done?) that he meant to translate the seat of Empire, with all its strength, to Ilium, or to Alexandria; and having exhausted all Italy by great levies, (that she might never recover herself) he would have begun, probably, a new sort of Sovereignty upon his own model, exempt from the names and appearances of the old Constitution and Laws, which still had reverence paid them at Rome, and consequently were so many grievances to him. Rome he intended to have left to the dominion of his creatures. It is probable he thought himself not safe at Rome, nor in any place which had ever known the governance of Laws, nor any where but at the head of Armies. He had reason for his fear; the severest oppressor can never tye the hands of all the oppressed, nor put chains upon their resentments.

Sect. VIII.: Of his Death; and the rashness of ascribing to divine Vengeance the fate of such as slew him.

IN the midst of his farther designs, whatever they were, a bloody doom overtook this man of blood, and he was lawfully slain, though not by the forms of Law o ; his lawless power had made this impossible. It is true, they who slew him, were themselves slain. The righteousness of a cause does not always ensure its success; too seldom, God knows; but they who perish in defence of the Laws, are slain against Law. Such was the difference between his death and theirs. They were vanquished and slain Edition: current; Page: [80]in a great Civil War, at a time when Courage, and Virtue, and Patriotism were capital and proscribed.

Did none of those who destroyed Cæsar die a natural death? no more did Cæsar, who destroyed the State. If this was not a judgment upon him, why should theirs be one upon them? What rule have we to know a judgment, but from the justice or iniquity of a cause? If so, Cesar fell by the appointment of Heaven; Brutus and his brethren by the malice of Men. But if there be no rule, or if judgments, like parties, take different sides; how dare we pronounce? How many of the Cæsars his successors died naturally? Not one, if we will believe the Historians and probability, from Cæsar the Dictator to the Emperor Vespasian. Augustus was poisoned by Livia his wife; Tiberius smothered by Macro his favourite, to make way for Caligula, who was slain with the sword by the officers of his guard. Agrippina poisoned her husband Claudius; Nero stabbed himself; Galba was murdered by the soldiers, so was Vitellius. Otho fell by his own hands.

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DISCOURSE IV.: Upon Octavius Cæsar, afterwards called Augustus.

Sect. I.: Of the base and impious Arts by which he acquired the Empire.

BY the death of the Usurper, Liberty was restored, but lasted not a ; and Octavius succeeded Cæsar, by no superior genius, by no military prowess or magnanimity; for tricking and deceit constituted his chief parts, and though he was bold in council, he was a coward in the field. But he usurped the Empire by methods so low and vile, as brought disgrace even upon Usurpation; by a thousand frauds, and turns suddenly made, without the common appearances of decency or shame; by thousands of murders deliberately committed, without process or provocation; by multiplied treacheries, assassinations, and acts of ingratitude; by employing ruffians, and being himself one; and by destructive wars conducted by the bravery of others.

He levied forces without authority; and, under a lying pretence of defending Liberty, got to be employed by the State against Anthony. He then robbed the Commonwealth of her Armies; and was thought to have murdered both her chief Magistrates, the Consuls Hirtius and Pansa; the former by his own hand in the hurry of battle, the other after it, by causing poison to be poured Edition: current; Page: [82]into his wound by Glyco his Physician. It is certain, that the Physician was suspected, seized, and even doomed to the torture, but saved by the credit of his master Octavius; whose villainy had these farther aggravations, that he was generally believed to have been a Pathic to Hirtius for hire; and Pansa had ever a tender regard for him, a regard superior to that which he owed his Country, as he manifested by the advice which he gave him before he expired under agonies caused by the hard-hearted contrivance of that his beloved and perfidious friend.

With this very Army of the Commonwealth he turned head upon the Commonwealth, marched in an hostile manner to Rome, and sent a deputation of Officers to his Masters the Senate, to demand the Consulship in the name of the Legions: and, upon some hesitation shewn by that venerable Body, one of these armed Embassadors laid his hand upon his sword, and told them, “If you will not make him Consul, this shall.” For his first credit with the Senate he was beholden to Cicero, at whose suit he was trusted with command in conjunction with the Consuls, and dignified with the title of Proprætor. We see how he requited the Senate, we see how he served the Consuls; and Cicero his father in Counsel, and the father of the Republic, he delivered up to be murdered and mangled by his implacable enemy.

Sect. II.: Of the vindictive spirit of Octavius, and his horrid Cruelties.

IN the Battle of Philippi, Octavius was beaten out of the field, his Camp seized, and, but for the fortune and valour of Anthony, the day must have been lost. After the victory he shewed Edition: current; Page: [83]as much insolence and cruelty, as he had wanted courage in it. He could not forbear manifesting cowardly spite to the dead body of Brutus, before whom he had a little before fled for his life, and sent the head of that excellent person to Rome, to be laid ignominiously at the feet of the Statue of Cæsar. Different was the treatment shewn by Anthony, who had saved Octavius, and beat Brutus. Anthony beheld his Corpse with grief and tears, covered it with his own armour, and treated it with respect and tenderness. Octavius had not greatness of heart enough for such generous humanity; but treated every illustrious captive with bitter words and cowardly insults, and put them to death without mercy b ; says Suetonius. To one of these, imploring the privilege of burial, the base Tyrant answered, “That the fowls of the air would soon regulate that matter.” When a father begged mercy for his son, and the son for the father, the merciful Octavius commanded the father and son to fight for the survivorship. This barbarous fight he beheld, beheld the son slay his father, and then himself for having done it. Had not the remaining Prisoners reason, when they were brought before Anthony and him, to salute the former with the honourable title of Imperator, and the latter with invectives and contempt?

With the same cruel spirit he behaved himself after the siege of Perusia. All who applied to him, whether they pleaded innocence, or begged mercy, had one and the same merciless answer c , “Death is the lot of you all;” and they had it. Three hundred of the chief, comprizing their Nobility and Edition: current; Page: [84]Magistrates, were carried in chains to an Altar raised to Julius Cæsar, and there butchered like cattle, as victims to his ghost, upon the Ides of March, the Anniversary of his Assassination. The City itself he delivered to the lust and plunder of his soldiers, contrary to articles, and his faith given. Never was a more tragical and horrible scene. After killing, robbing and ravishing, what the sword could not destroy, the fire did; and that great and beautiful City, one of the fairest in Italy, was reduced to ashes. There were Historians, who asserted, that the quarrel between him and Lucius Antonius, who had shut himself up in that City, was all feigned, and a contrivance between them, for two reasons; first, to try who were real friends, and who were covered enemies; and then, by the conquest and confiscation of such, to find a fund for paying the Veterans their promised largess.

From the citizens of Nursia he took all that they had, their substance and even their city, and sent them forth to wander and starve; for no other crime but that, for their fellow citizens, slain at the siege of Modena, they had raised a Monument with an Inscription, “that they died for the public liberty;” though he had but just before fought and declared for the same side.

It is impossible to paint the horrors of the Proscription; by it every considerable man in the Roman world, who was disliked, or suspected by the Triumvirate to disapprove their Tyranny, was doomed to die; it was death to conceal or to help them, and rewards were given to such as discovered and killed them. Many were betrayed and butchered by their slaves and freedmen; many by their treacherous hosts and relations; and many fled with their wives and tender children to the howling wilderness, and lived or perished amongst woods and wolves. Nothing was to be seen but blood and Edition: current; Page: [85]slaughter; the streets ware covered with carcasses; the heads of the illustrious dead were exposed upon the Rostra, and their bodies upon the pavement, denied the mercy of burial, other than such as they found in the entrails of devouring dogs and ravenous birds. This looked like dooming Rome to perish at once; and when the other two were satiated with so many butcheries, Octavius, who never had blood enough, still persisted to shed more. No sort of men escape his cruelty, nor Nobles, nor Knights, strangers nor acquaintance, nay, nor his confidents, and favourite freedmen; nor even his old companion and tutor, Toranius, no one knows why, unless for being an honest man, and a lover of his Country.

These victims continued daily for a course of years; the slightest suspicions, the vilest forgeries, were grounds for slaughters, for illustrious slaughters. Nor could the great quality and venerable station of Quintus Gellius the Prætor, nor his innocence, exempt him from the bloody hands of the executioner; nor was execution the worst part of his doom; he was by a band of soldiers seized in his seat of justice, hurried away and subjected to the torture, like the meanest slave; but confessed nothing. Nor did all this injustice and barbarity satisfy the gentle Augustus, so much renowned for moderation and clemency; he had the brutal baseness to dig out the eyes of that Magistrate with his own hands, before he allowed him the mercy of being murdered outright. One of his favourite Ministers shewed his sentiments of the clemency of Augustus plainly enough, upon the following occasion. That Prince was judging some criminals, and giving himself over to revenge, and bloody decrees, without check or compassion, when the Minister, who abhorred to see him engaged in such feats of cruelty, Edition: current; Page: [86]sent him a note, told him, “he was a butcher,” and bad him “come down from his Tribunal.”

Sect. III.: Of the treachery, ingratitude, and further cruelties of Octavius. That the same were wanton and voluntary.

THE conduct of Octavius in regard to Anthony, was, like the rest of his conduct, all one train of perfidiousness. First he made court to Anthony, then suborned rogues to murder him; then made war upon him with the arms of the State; then joined with him against the State; then by the bravery of Anthony he conquered the Empire, and then by plots, and the valour of Agrippa, he conquered Anthony; then he was devising ways to destroy Agrippa, and, but for an expedient offered by Mæcenas, had destroyed him.

Was it strange that against such a Prince conspiracies were frequent? As he was an Usurper he could not escape some; his falshood and cruelties begot others; and, from considerations public as well as personal, there was abundant cause for many. To punish one plot with exceeding violence, is a sure way to produce more; and, when there is no safety found in innocence, further methods will be tried.

It is a poor defence for Augustus, to say, that it was from necessity, and to serve himself, that he shed so much blood; for, besides that his cruelty was natural, wanton and unnecessary, why did he seek to be in a station where acts of blood were necessary? why did he usurp the state? why did he make himself a mark for public and private vengeance? was it not by ambition, was it not by treachery, that he assumed Sovereignty? was he not Edition: current; Page: [87]a public Traitor? and was it not his choice to be so? why did he wilfully commit crimes so flagitious, that in their defence he must commit more? Can one horrible iniquity efface another? Is a subject justified, who, because he has deserved the pains of treason, raises a rebellion against his Prince, nay, kills him, to be safe? No villainy ever was, or ever can be perpetrated, which such reasoning will not justify.

When some were bold and honest enough to talk to Oliver Cromwel about his excesses and usurpation, he asked them, What would you have one in my station do? He was well answered: Sir, We would have no body in your station. To vindicate murder from the necessity of committing it, in order to conceal robbery; is to argue like a murderer and a robber; but it is honest Logic, to reply; “Do not rob, and then you need not be tempted to murder; but if you will do one, and consequently both, remember that punishment does or ought to follow crimes, and the more crimes the more punishment. If, by a repetition of crimes, you become too mighty to be punished, you must be content to be accursed and abhorred as an enemy to human race; you must expect to have all men for your enemies, as you are an enemy to all men; and since you make sport of the lives and liberties of men, you must not wonder, nor have you a right to complain, if they have all of them memories and feeling, and some of them courage and swords.”

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Sect. IV.: Of the popular Arts and Accidents which raised the Character of Augustus.

MANY things concurred to favour the same of Augustus, and to obliterate his reproach. He reigned very long, and established a lasting peace; a special blessing and refreshment after a Civil War so long and ruinous d . For, though that war was the child of his ambition, yet, in a series of ensuing tranquillity, it was forgot. Nay, the greatness of the public calamities was a reason for forgetting them; the generation who felt them, were almost all cut off by them; and the next generation, which had not suffered, did not remember e : what the people had not seen, they did not lament. When he died there were scarce any living who had beheld the old free State f . The people too were deceived into a belief that they still enjoyed their old Government, because their Magistrates had still their old names, though with just as much power as he thought fit to leave them. This was the advice of Mæcenas, that to the Officers of the State, the same names, pomp and ornaments should be continued, with all the appearances of authority without power g . They were to have no military command during their term, but to possess the old jurisdiction of adjudging all causes finally, except such as were capital; and though some of these last were left to the Governor of Rome, an Officer newly created by the Emperor, yet the chief were reserved.

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Moreover Augustus paid great court to the people: the very Name that covered his Usurpation was a compliment to them: he affected to call it the Power of the Tribuneship, an Office first created purely for their protection, and as the strongest effort and barrier of popular Liberty. It was for their sake and security, he pretended to assume this power, though by it he acted as absolutely as if he had called it the Dictatorial power; such energy there is in words! The Office itself was erected as a bulwark against Tyranny; and by the name of it Tyranny is now supported. In the same manner he used and perverted the Consulship; another Magistracy peculiar to the Commonwealth, but by him abused to the ends of his Monarchy.

He likewise won the hearts of the people by filling their bellies, by cheapness of provisions, and plentiful markets. This has infinite effect. If people have plenty at home, they will not be apt to discover many errors or much iniquity in the public, which will always be at quiet when particulars are so. But famine, or the fear of it, children crying for bread, mothers weeping for their children, and husbands and fathers unable to stop their tears, and find the necessaries of life for themselves, and such dear relations; all these are terrible materials for tumults, sedition, and even for revolutions. But people in ease and plenty are under no temptation to be inquiring into the title of their Prince, or to resent acts of power which they do not immediately feel.

He frequently entertained them with Shews and Spectacles; a notable means to produce or continue good humour in the populace, to beget kind wishes and zeal for the author of so much joy, and to make them forget Usurpation, Slavery, and every public evil. These were indeed used for the ends of corruption and servitude; they rendred the people idle, Edition: current; Page: [90]venal, vicious, insensible of private virtue, insensible of public glory or disgrace; but the things were liked, and the ends not seen, or not minded, so that they had their thorough effect; and the Roman people, they who were wont to direct mighty wars, to raise and depose great Kings, to bestow or take away Empires, they who ruled the world, or directed its rule, were so sunk and debauched, that if they had but bread and shews, their ambition went no higher.

By the same arts Cardinal Mazarin began to soften and debase the minds of the French; and after his death the like methods for promoting of idleness and luxury were pursued; shews, debauchery, wantonness and riot were encouraged and became common; and after the Restoration, England adopted the modes of France, her worst modes. There were some, too many, who, unworthy, of their own happiness and Liberty, came to admire her Government and misfortune; and laboured, with the spirit of Parricides, though without their punishment, to bring ours to the model of that.

I cannot omit observing here, that by the same means that Cæsar and Augustus acquired the Empire, they destroyed its force. In the Civil Wars great part of the people perished, and the rest they debauched. They had utterly drained or corrupted that source of men which furnished soldiers who conquered the earth; henceforth the plebs ingenua became a mere mob, addicted to idleness and their bellies, void of courage, void of ambition, and careless of renown. Armies were with difficulty raised amongst them; when raised, not good, or apt to corrupt the rest. It was such who excited the sedition in the German Legions, after the death of Augustus h : Edition: current; Page: [91]“the recruits lately raised in Rome, men accustomed to the softness and gaieties of the City, and impatient of military labour and discipline, inflamed the simple minds of all the rest by seditious infusions, and harangues, &c.” Indeed the Roman Armies (so chiefly in name) were mostly composed of foreigners.

To engage new creatures and dependencies, he created many new Offices; as the multitude of Offices in France is reckoned a great support of the Authority Royal. He raised many public buildings, repaired many old, and to the City added many edifices and ornaments. He attended business, reformed enormities, shewed high regard for the Roman name; was sparing in admitting foreigners to the rights of Citizens; preserved public peace; procured public abundance, promoted public pleasure and festivity; often appeared in person at the public diversions, and in all things studied to render himself dear to the populace. In truth, when he had done all the mischief he could, or all that he wanted, and more, he ceased his cruelty and ravages. This too was imputed to him for merit. He was reckoned very good, because he began to do less mischief. It was a rational saying of that madman Caligula, “that calamitous and tragical to the Roman people were the boasted Victories of his great grandfather Augustus;” and therefore he forbad them to be solemnized annually for the future.

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Sect. V.: Though Augustus courted the people, and particular Senators, he continued to depress public Liberty, and the Senate.

BUT, amidst all these acts of popularity and beneficence, and this plausible behaviour of Augustus, the root of the evil remained and spread; the bulwarks of Liberty were daily broken down, and having lulled the public asleep, he was sowing his tares. The best of his Government was but the sunshine of Tyranny k . Augustus was become the centre and measure of all things; he was the Senate, Magistracy and Laws; the arms of the Republic he had wrested out of her hands; those who had wielded them for her, he had slain l . The armies of the State were now the armies of Augustus, and every Province where Legions were kept or necessary, he reserved to himself; such as were unarmed he left to the Senate and people; in kindness forsooth to them; for he studied to relieve them from all anxiety and fatigue, and to leave them nothing to do; but would take all the care and trouble to himself. Italy, the original soil of Liberty and Freemen, he utterly disarmed, agreeably to the Maxims of absolute Monarchy. The Roman people and the Roman Senate he had reduced to cyphers and carcasses m . Hence all the submission and duty formerly paid to the free State, were, with her power, transferred to the Emperor, and certain wealth and Edition: current; Page: [93]preferment were the rewards of ready servility and acquiescence n .

This shews that, however he depressed the power of the Senate, he paid great court to particular Senators; and it is too true, that as men generally love themselves better than their Country, they too easily postpone the public interest to their own. o

Sect. VI.: What Fame he derived from the Poets and other flattering Writers of his time.

THE Renown of Augustus was also notably blazoned by the Historians and Poets of his time; men of excellent wit, but egregious flatterers. According to them, Augustus had all the accomplishments to be acquired by men, the magnanimity of Heroes, the perfections and genius of the Deity, and the innocence peculiar to the primitive race of men. After so many instances of his cruelty, revenge, selfishness, excessive superstition, and defect in courage; after all the crying calamities and afflictions, all the oppression and vassalage, that his ambition had brought upon his Country and the globe, one would think that such praises must have passed for satire and mockery. But ambition, successful ambition, is a credulous passion; or whether he believed such praises or no, he received them graciously, and caressed the Authors. Hence so much favour to Virgil and Horace, and to such other wits as knew how to be good Courtiers; and hence every admirer of those charming Poets, is an admirer of Augustus, who was so generous Edition: current; Page: [94]to them, and is the chief burden of their Panegyrics.

Suppose he had miscarried; suppose the Commonwealth restored, and him punished as a Traitor instead of gaining the Sovereignty; would not the Historians, would not the Poe tshave then spoke as the Law spoke, that Law by which he had certainly forfeited his life? would not Brutus and Cassius have then filled their mouths with Panegyrics, as the Saviours of the State? would they have lamented that the Usurpation failed, and extolled the Usurper? Is Catiline extolled, or are the Usurpations of Cinna, Sylla, or Marius? nor was the conduct and domination of either, half so barbarous and tragical as was that of Augustus for a course of years. The truth is, their Tyranny was shortlived, unsuccessful, or resigned.

Iniquity unprosperous or punished, no man praises; but wickedness exceeding great and triumphant, almost all men do, as well as decry virtuous attempts defeated. Cæsar and Augustus succeeded; and their flattery continued, because their government and race did; p Sycophancy is ever a constant attendant upon greatness, says Paterculus, who was himself a scandalous flatterer, and has in his History, miserably perverted truth, or utterly suppressed it, that he might lye for the Cæsars. When Truth was treason, who would venture to speak it? and when Flattery bore a vogue and a price, there were enough found to court it, and take it. Hence the partiality or silence of Poets and Historians q .

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Sect. VII.: Of the false Glory sought and acquired by Augustus, from the badness of his Successors.

ANOTHER signal advantage to the name and memory of Augustus, was the badness of his Successors; and for his posthumous lustre he was indebted to the extreme misery of the Roman people. In proportion as Tiberius, Caligula, &c. were detested, Augustus was regretted; yet who but Augustus was to be thanked for these monsters of cruelty? They were legacies by him entailed upon that great State, and he was even suspected to have surrendered the Roman people to the Tyranny of Tiberius, purely to enhance his own praise with posterity, by the comparison and opposition of their Reigns r . He sought renown from a counsel for which he deserved abhorrence. He had made a feint or two to abdicate the Sovereignty; had he been in earnest, he might at least have contrived, that his Usurpation should last no longer than his life, and have left for a legacy to the Roman people that Liberty of which he had robbed them; that dominion over themselves, which none but themselves had any right to exercise. The truth is, his power and name were dearer to him than the Roman people or human race; he made provision by a long train of successors against any possible relapse into Liberty s . When he had no longer any heir of his own blood, or none that he liked, he adopted the sons of his wife; and even the worst of them was destined to the succession t .

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If it be said that by such adoption he fortified himself, and considered heirs as u the stays and security of his domination; this still shews what was uppermost in his views, that he meant to perpetuate slavery. If he had studied the good of Rome, why was not Tiberius, whom he knew to be tyrannical and arrogant, postponed? why was not his brother Drusus, the most accomplished and popular man in the Empire, preferred? or (after his death) Germanicus his son, one equally deserving, and equally beloved? It is even said that he loved Drusus, loved Germanicus, and was suspected to have hated and despised Tiberius; yet Tiberius was preferred, and had the world bequeathed to him. Was it done to please his wife? then he loved her better than the Roman people, nay, preferred her caprice to the felicity of human kind. Drusus had declared his purpose to restore the Commonwealth; the same intention is supposed to have been in Germanicus. This perhaps was the reason for setting them aside w ; as was said of Tiberius.

Sect. VIII.: The Character of Augustus.

AS to the Character of Augustus, he was a man of Sense and Art; his courage below his capacity, his capacity below his fortune, yet his fortune below his fame; because his fame was the child of able flattery as well as of propitious fortune. He was a cunning man, not a great genius; dextrous to apply the abilities of others to his own ends, and had ability enough to be counselled by such as had more; his designs were rather incidental and progressive, Edition: current; Page: [97]than vast and conceived at once; and he cannot be said to have mastered fortune, but to have been led by it. In the times of the Republic he would have made but a middling figure; in the station and pursuits of Julius Cæsar, none at all. It is not in the least likely that he would have thought or attempted what Cæsar accomplished. He wanted Cæsar’s masterly spirit, the eclat of that consummate Warrior, his boundless Liberality, his enchanting Eloquence. For the Eloquence of Augustus, which was easy and flowing, such as became a Prince, was quite different from that torrent of Language, and power of speaking necessary to agitate and controul the spirit of Republicans, and came far short of the talent of Julius, who stood in rank with the most distinguished Orators. I know not whether the vices of the Dictator had not more popular charms than the virtues of Augustus. Cæsar made his way to the Throne, Augustus found it already made, or, where difficulties occurred, was conducted by the superior lights and force of others, whom he rewarded with all the meanness of ingratitude, and even cruelty, and did many things which the great heart of Cæsar would have scorned. No great mind ever delighted in petty mischiefs; though to do mighty evil an elevated genius is not always necessary.

Sect. IX.: Of the Helps and Causes which acquired and preserved the Empire to Augustus. His great Power and Fortune no proof of extraordinary Ability.

THAT Augustus acquired the Empire, is not a proof of talents grand and surprizing; a thousand things concurred to it, times and accidents, friends and enemies, the living and the dead, Edition: current; Page: [98]fought and contrived for him; Cæsar, Anthony, the authority of the Senate, the folly and corruption of the people, the eloquence and abilities of Cicero, seasonable conjunctures, the opposition of some, the compliance or intoxication of others, nay, the charms of Cleopatra, and his own treachery and fears: All these coincided to push him forwards, and to hoist him into Sovereignty; nor indeed wanted he dexterity to improve opportunities; for he was a notable man, judged well, and had a turn for business.

Nor did it require much genius to hold the Empire, when he had got it. All who could oppose him were slain or subdued. He had Armies and Guards; and the people were disarmed and enslaved; the State was so thoroughly mastered, the Roman spirit so entirely broken x , that any the most contemptible wretch among men, provided he were but vouched by the Armies, and called Cæsar, might rule, insult, and lay waste the Roman world at his pleasure y . What was Caligula, what were Nero and Claudius? were they not monsters, who but for shape and speech, were utterly disjoined from humanity? and yet were not these monsters suffered, nay adored, and deified, while they were wallowing in the blood of men, and making spoil of the creation? Nor were the savages cut off by any effort of the Roman people, but by the instruments of their own cruelty, their wives, soldiers and slaves.

Thus it was possible to be Masters of mankind, not only without common sense, and common mercy and compassion, but even armed with intense and settled hate against the race of men, and daily exerting it. The rule and havock of a Lion, or any Edition: current; Page: [99]other beast of prey, would have been less pernicious, and less disgraceful to the Roman people, though he had required for his sustenance a vessel of human blood every day. Nay, had the imperial Lion kept about him a Court and Guard of subordinate Lions for his Instruments and Counsellors, they could not have worried and devoured faster than did the Accusers, Freedmen, Poisoners, and Assassins of the Emperors. Cruelty, inspired by hunger, ceases when hunger is asswaged; but cruelty, created by fear and malice, is never satiated, nor knows any bounds. So much less dangerous and pernicious are the jaws and rapaciousness of a Tyger, than the jealousy and rage of a Tyrant, his flatterers and executioners.

Now where was the difficulty to Augustus, where the necessity of high wisdom, to maintain the Sovereignty, when such despicable wretches could maintain themselves in it for a course of years? The Romans, who were masters of mankind, were become the tame property, the vassals and victims of creatures equal to no office in a State, even the meanest and most contemptible office; creatures void of understanding, void of courage. Such, without aggravation, were the Lords of Rome for several successive reigns. Such as were a scandal to human Nature, trod upon the necks and wantoned in the blood of human kind; nay, delegated this work, and the disposal of the Romans life and property, to the vilest of their domestics and dependants, their spies, informers, and bond-slaves.

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DISCOURSE V.: Of Governments free and arbitrary, more especially that of the Cæsars.

Sect. I.: The Principle of God’s appointing and protecting Tyrants, an Absurdity not believed by the Romans.

I Do not find that a servitude so beastly and ignominious was borne by the Romans out of Principle. Their Religion, as vain and superstitious as it was, had never offered such an insult to common sense, as to teach them that their Deities, as capricious as they thought them, warranted Tyranny, and sanctified Tyrants; that the brutal and bloody Caligula, was the beloved and Vicegerent of Jove, almighty, all-wise and all-merciful; that the worst of men had a commission from Heaven to oppress all men, and to destroy the best; that murder, rapine and mis-rule were Government, and such lawless and bloody robbers were Governors divinely appointed; that Society had no remedy against devouring lust, and the raging sword, which were destroying all the ends of Society, and Society it self. These are Absurdities below Paganism and all its chimeras; even the Superstition of Pagans never broached such blasphemies and indignities to God and Man; never propagated Doctrines which would have turned men into idiots, destitute of reflection and feeling, nay, into beasts of burden, and beasts for sacrifice; turned the Deities into Devils; human society into a chaos of blood and carcasses, and this earth into a place of torments. It never Edition: current; Page: [101]entered into the heart of a Greek or a Roman, nor into any heart which felt the sentiments of virtue and humanity, that it was unlawful to defend Law; a crime to ward against murder, barbarity, and desolation; and an impiety to do the most godlike action which can be done on this side Heaven, that of disarming a Tyrant, and saving one’s Country from perishing. It is true, that the Romans flattered their Tyrants, as Tyrants ever will be flattered; but as the names and appearances of the old Government still subsisted, they pretended to believe that none but the old Laws were exercised; and by the old Laws the Emperors still pretended to act. For several generations after the State was enslaved, and even during the Reigns of the worst of the Cæsars, the Romans expressed high contempt for Nations who were avowedly slaves, and for Kings who were avowedly arbitrary; and it then continued usual to behold foreign Monarchs attending the levee and train of the Roman Magistrates and Governors of Provinces; nay, they were sometimes denied access, and treated with great scorn.

Government is doubtless a sacred thing, and justly claims all reverence and duty; but in the idea of Government is implied that of public Protection and Security; that it is the terror of evil doers, and the encouragement of such as do well. But when what was Government ceases; and what is called Government, is, in reality, general oppression, havock, and spoil; when a power prevails which is swayed by evil doers to the destruction of all who do well; when law and righteousness are banished, lust and iniquity triumph; property is violently invaded, and lives are wantonly destroyed; is this Government too? If it be, I should be glad to know what is not Government.

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Sect. II.: The reasonableness of resisting Tyrants asserted, from the Ends of Government, and the Nature of the Deity. Opinions the most impious and extravagant, why taught, and how easily swallowed.

IT is certainly unlawful to resist Government; but it is certainly lawful to resist the deviation from Government, to resist what destroys Government and men. To resist the abuse of Government, is to assist Government. It is allowed to be just to help our protectors; but it is equally just to oppose our enemies, madmen and spoilers. Now what was Nero, what Caligula and Claudius? one a bloody idiot, the other an inhuman madman; the first like the second, and all of them public robbers and butchers. If their course of cruelties and oppression was Government, so are plagues, tempests and inundations; but if their lives and actions were altogether pernicious and detestable; the exterminating of such monsters from amongst men, would have been a service to the whole race. Was Tarquin half so black and odious? yet who has ever blamed his expulsion? was the Insolence and Tyranny of Tarquin the Ordinance of God? what then was the succeeding Government of the People and Senate? if this was the Ordinance of God too; then every Government good and bad, or rather Mis-government as well as Government, public robbery and ruin, as well as public security and protection, may be equally said to be his Ordinance; and there are Ordinances of his that combat one another, like the two Angels contending in one of the Prophets. But if the Tyranny of Tarquin was, and the establishing of the free State was not the Ordinance of God, then are not the Patrons of this opinion obliged to say, and to maintain Edition: current; Page: [103]this gross and blasphemous absurdity, that the divine Being disapproves of good Government, Equity and Laws, and delights in injustice, cruelty and confusion; not in the rule of equal justice, but in the ravages of lust and iniquity?

To say that all Governments, the good and the bad, are alike to him, equally inviolable, is to say that he takes no cognizance of things below; and at this rate, there is, in his sight, no such thing as guilt and innocence. To alledge that that Government which is best for men, is disliked by him; and the rule of lust is preferable to that of Laws; is to make him worse than indifferent, the patron of wantonness and oppression; a foe to order and benevolence, fonder of one man’s caprice and violence, than of the happiness of millions; nay a professed advocate for iniquity, a professed adversary to all public righteousness. If it be said, that he approves not of Tyranny himself, and yet would not have it resisted by others; this is nonsense added to prophaneness; since what he neither checks nor allows to be checked, he may be said to approve. If I see a man going to commit murder, and by terrible threatning and penalties restrain such as would restrain him, will it not be construed, that I chose to have the murder perpetrated? It makes him besides a hard-hearted being, who forbids to remedy the highest human evil, nay, wilfully dooms human kind to the severest misery.

I never heard that he has forbid under any penalty the use of Medicines against the Plague, and I think I have found the reason why I never heard it; the Plague has no treasures, nor dignities to recompence flatterers. Had it been worth while to have made such prohibition a Doctrine of Religion; that is, had it been pleasing to Power, and the way to favour, I doubt not but it would have gained ground, and many followers, as other doctrines equally absurd have done, where the gain and craft of a few have Edition: current; Page: [104]been followed and defended by the superstition and zeal of many; witness Transubstantiation, Purgatory, Auricular Confession, blind Obedience under the rod of Tyranny, &c. The Turks out of bigotry to that of Predestination, forbear all precautions against the Plague, when raging on every side of them. It is impossible to invent a Doctrine so monstrous and mischievous, but it will meet with partizans and admirers, provided the inventors have convenient names and habiliments, without which the most illustrious and benevolent truths will hardly pass with a multitude bewitched with the magic of words and superstition.

It is impossible for the hearts of men to contrive a principle more absurd and wicked, than that of annexing divine and everlasting vengeance to the resisting of the most flagrant mischief which can possibly befal the sons of men; yet it has found inventors and vouchers. It is plain from this instance, and from a thousand more, that there is no wickedness of which the hearts of men are not capable, and that the wretchedness of the whole race weighs not so much with them as their own profit and pleasure. It would seem from hence, as if we had lived in the dregs and barbarism of time, since to the late age (at least here in Christendom) was reserved the infamy of hatching a Monster so horrible, that to its birth was sacrificed all Sense and Humanity, all the considerations, and even the essence of Truth, Order and Liberty.

The advocates for this impious tenet, which represents the great and good God as incensed with men for striving to remove their chains and sorrows, are, by defending Tyranny, so much worse than Tyrants, as a Scheme of Barbarity coolly and deliberately contrived or defended, is more heinous than particular acts of barbarity committed in the heat and hurry of passion, and as Murder is a greater crime than Manslaughter.

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What avail Laws and Liberty, ever so excellently framed, when they are at the mercy of lawless rage and caprice? If we are forbid by God to defend Laws, why do we make them? Is it not unlawful to make what it is unlawful to defend? What else is the end of Government, but the felicity of men; and why are some raised higher in Society than others, but that all may be happy? Has God ever interposed against the establishment of Society upon a good foot? If he has not, but wills the good of Society, and of men, how comes he to interpose against the defence of an Establishment which he nowhere forbids, and against that good which he is said to will? What more right had Nero to take away the lives of innocent men than any other Assassin; what more title to their fortune than any other Robber; what better right to spill their blood than any Tyger? And is it unlawful to resist Robbers, and Assassins, and Beasts of Prey? Did the Almighty ever say of that beastly Tyrant, “Touch not Nero my Anointed, nor do his Ruffians any harm?” Did Nero’s station lessen or abrogate his crimes?

What idea does it give of God, the Father of mercies and of men, to represent him screening that enemy to God and man, as a person sacred and inviolable, and holding his authority from himself; the merciful and holy Jehovah protecting an inhuman Destroyer! What more relation could there be between God and Nero, than between God and an Earthquake, God and a Conflagration or Massacre? The very phrase is shocking to the soul! Is such representation likely to make the name and nature of God amiable to men, likely to excite them to love and reverence him? Satan is said to be delighted with the miseries and calamities of men; and, to suppose that wicked Being concerned for the security of a Tyrant, whose office it is to debase Edition: current; Page: [106]and afflict human race, is natural and consistent with his Character. But I wish men would not father upon the Author of all good such counsels and inclinations, as can only suit the father of cruelties and lies.

Sect. III.: The danger of slavish Principles to such as trust in them, and the notorious insecurity of lawless Might.

NEITHER have Tyrants and Oppressors been much obliged to this enslaving Doctrine, which has generally filled them with false confidence and security; it has always made them worse, seldom safer; and, without doing any good, been the cause of much evil to their poor subjects. The Turks hold it as an Article of Faith, and it is one worthy of Turkish grossness and barbarity! yet where has the deposing and murdering of Princes been so common as in Turkey? The Monarch is told he may do what he pleases; their Religion tells him so, the holy Mufti, who explains it, tells him so, and from God he tells him so; but notwithstanding all these holy Authorities, this person so sacred, and guarded with securities human and divine, is often butchered with less form than a common male-factor, and even with the Mufti’s consent and assistance. Thus it has happened to several in a Century; had not their power been so great, their security would have been greater.

a An absolute Prince is of all others the most insecure; as he proceeds by no rule of Law, he can have no rule of Safety. He acts by violence, and violence is the only remedy against him. Now violence which is confined to no rule, but as various and unlimited as the passions and devices of men, Edition: current; Page: [107]can never be parried by any certain provision or defence. His acts of cruelty upon particulars, whether done for revenge or prevention, do but alarm other particulars to save themselves by destroying him. Men who apprehend their lives to be in danger, will venture any thing to preserve them; or if they do more than apprehend and be already become desperate, we know to what lengths despair will push them. Thus Caligula, thus Domitian and Commodus, were slaughtered by those whom they had doomed to slaughter. Nor Armies nor Guards can prevent the machinations and efforts of a secret enemy; even amongst his Armies and Guards such a one may be found, nay, in his Houshold, in his Bed-chamber, amongst his Kindred, nay, amongst his Children.

When Princes act by Law, in case of hardship upon particulars, there is a remedy to be sought from the Law; and when the Law fairly administered will afford none, they will acquiesce; or, if they blame any thing, they will blame the Law, but a remedy they will be apt to seek; and, when they suffer not from Law, but from mere violence, they will have recourse to violence. Neither can a people be ever so sunk or deadened by Oppression, but much provocation, some management and a skilful leader, will find or raise some spirit in them, often enough to accomplish great Revolutions; witness Sicily under the French, Swisserland under the Yoke of Austria, and the Low Countries under that of Spain; nay, the most consummate and professed slaves, those of Turkey, often rouse themselves, and casting their proud rider to the earth, trample him to death.

Indeed slaves enraged are the most dangerous populace; because having no other resource against oppression, they repel violence with outrage; a little spark often raises a great flame; and a flame soon Edition: current; Page: [108]spreads to a Conflagration, where materials are prepared, as they almost eternally are in Governments that are absolute or aiming to be so. The Commotions at Paris, during the Minority of the late King, were followed by others all over France, though the whole Kingdom had been for a great while before, by the Tyranny of the Administration, frightened, despairing, and even lethargic; but the resentment and convulsions that followed this false calm, had like to have overset the Monarchy. Nor can any public calm be certain, or any Government secure, where the people are pillaged and oppressed. People that are used like beasts, will act like beasts; and be mad and furious, when buffeted and starved.

Sect. IV.: Princes of little and bad Minds, most greedy of Power. Princes of large and good Minds chuse to rule by Law and Limitations.

IT is poor and contemptible ambition in a Prince, that of swelling his Prerogative, and catching at advantages over his People; it is separating himself from the tender relation of a Father and Protector, a Character which constitutes the Glory of a King; and assuming that of a foe, and an ensnarer b . This is what a Prince of a great and benevolent spirit will consider; not himself as a lordly Tyrant, nor them as his Property and Slaves; but himself and them under the amiable and engaging ties of Magistrate and fellow Citizens. Such was the difference between a Queen Elizabeth and a Richard the second; how glorious and prosperous the Reign of the one, how infamous and unhappy that of the other! what renown accompanies her memory, what scorn his! It is indeed apparent Edition: current; Page: [109]from our History, that those of our Princes who thirsted most violently after arbitrary rule, were chiefly such as were remarkable for poor spirit, and small genius, Pedants, Bigots, the timorous and effeminate.

The French Historians observe that the worst and weakest of their Kings were fondest of Dominion, and their best and wisest contented with stinted Power, and the rule of Laws. Lewis the eleventh, says Cardinal De Retz, was more crafty than wise. He was in truth a genuine Tyrant; he trampled upon the Laws of the Kingdom, and the lives of his Subjects, pillaged and oppressed all manner of ways, and followed no Counsel but that of his Lust and Caprice. But what advantage or content, what security or fame did he draw from his exorbitant encroachments and power? No man ever lived under a blacker series of fears, and cares, and suspicions, or died in greater misery and terrors; and in his life, and death, and memory he is equally detestable c . Lewis the thirteenth, a man naturally harmless, but silly, was jealous of his authority, purely because he was ignorant about it; but Henry the fourth, who was born with a Soul great and generous, never distrusted the Laws, because he trusted in the uprightness of his own Designs. Il ne se defioit pas des loix, parce qu’il se fioit en lui même, says De Retz. Another French Monarch of great name, loved and enjoyed unbridled Dominion, but had no greatness of mind or genius answerable to the measure of his ambition. He had a sort of stiffness and perseverance, by his flatterers stiled Fortitude and Firmness, but in reality arising from arrogance or obstinacy; qualities found in the weakest women, and eminently in his mother. In Religion he was a bigot; in Politics false, suspicious, Edition: current; Page: [110]and timid; in Government insolent and oppressive; the property of his Mistresses, the Pupil of his Confessors, the Dupe of his Ministers; a sore Plague to his Neighbours; a sorer to his own People; vainly addicted to War without the talents of a Warrior; a dishonourable Enemy, a faithless Ally; and, with small Abilities, a great Troubler of the World.

It was natural to such an Imperial Wolf as Caligula, to delight in power as savage as his own bloody spirit, and to boast that he had an unlimited privilege to do whatever his will or fury suggested d ; but worthy of the benevolent and humane heart of Trajan, were the words by him used to his chief Officers, when he presented them with the sword. “This sword, this badge of Authority, you hold from me; but turn it, if I deserve it, against me e .” Now, did the challenging and exercise of this monstrous power secure Caligula; or did the disavowing of it lessen the security of Trajan? quite otherwise; the former was abhorred and assassinated as a Tyrant; the latter was adored living, and died lamented, as a public Father and Guardian: Trajan knew no other purpose of Imperial Prerogative, but that of protecting the People; nor indeed is there any other use of Emperors and Prerogatives upon earth.

Cardinal De Retz says, that with all the arguments and pains he could use, he could never bring the Queen Regent to understand the meaning of these words, the Public. She thought that to consult the interest of the People was to be a Republican, and had no notion that the Government of a Prince was any thing else but Royal Will and Authority, rampant and without bounds. Was it any wonder, that the people of France gasped under Oppressions and Taxes, when the Government was Edition: current; Page: [111]swayed by such a Woman, herself blindly governed by Mazarine, a public Thief, if ever there was any; one convicted to have stollen from the Finances nine millions in a few years; one who had spent his younger years in low rogueries; who had no maxims of rule but such as were adapted to the severest Tyranny in Italy, that of the Pope; and one, who, in the highest post of first Minister, could never help shewing the base spirit of a little Sharper. Le vilain cæur paroissoit toûjours au travers, says De Retz: the Duke of Orleans called him un Scelerat, & Ministre incapable & abhorré du genre humain; un Menteur fieffé.

Sect. V.: The Wisdom and Safety of ruling by standing Laws, to Prince and People.

IT was a fine answer of Theopompus King of Lacedæmon to his wife, who reproached him that he would leave the Kingship diminished to his sons, by creating the Ephori: Yes, says he, I shall leave it smaller, but I shall leave it more permanent. Valerius Maximus explains this by a very just reflection; “Theopompus’s reason was full of pertinency and force; for, in reality, that Authority which bounds itself, and offers no injuries, is exposed to none. The king therefore by restraining Royalty within the just limits of Laws, did as much endear it to the Affections of his Countrymen, as he pruned it of all Licentiousness and Terror f .”

It is as rare for a Prince limited by Laws, and content with his power, to reign in sorrow, or to die tragically, as it is uncommon for those who have no bounds set them, or will suffer none, to escape a miserable Edition: current; Page: [112]Reign, and unbloody end. The power of the Roman Kings was, from the first establishment, very short; they had no negative voice in the Senate, and could neither make War nor Peace. What Tacitus says of Romulus g , can only mean his administring justice, as the chief Magistrate, between man and man, or perhaps his encroachments upon the Senate towards his latter end, for which, it is thought, he paid dear.

Where the Government is arbitrary and severe, the oppressed people will be apt to think that no change can make their condition worse; and therefore will be ready to wish for any, nay, to risque a Civil War, risque fresh evils and calamities, to get rid of the present, and to be revenged on their Oppressor. Such was the temper of the Romans upon the revolt of Sacrovir; they even rejoiced in it, and, in hatred to Tiberius, wished success to the public enemy h . People will be quiet and patient under burdens, however heavy, which Law lays on; for they suppose that laws are founded upon reason and necessity; but impositions the most reasonable will be apt to appear unreasonable and tyrannical, where they proceed from the will of one. Mere will is supposed to act without reason, and to be only the effect of wantonness; hence the acquiescence of a free people however taxed, and from their acquiescence, the safety of their Governors. Hence too the industry and wealth, and consequently the peaceableness of the country; for industry and wealth are things exceeding quiet and tame, and only aim at securing themselves; whereas idleness and indigence are uneasy, tumultuous, and desperate. Besides, he who pays twenty shillings in a free Government, and pays it chearfully, would not perhaps, Edition: current; Page: [113]were the Government changed, pay willingly ten, nay, perhaps be unable to pay it, though by the change no new taxes were added. While the Law requires it, he will imagine that no more than enough is required; and as the same Law leaves him all the rest to himself, he will be industrious to acquire more, and as much as he can; but when the quantity of his Tax depends upon the caprice or avarice of one; when the more he is worth, the more he will be taxed, or even fancies that he will be, he will grow idle, discontented and desponding, and rather live poor and lazy, than labour to make his Taxmaster rich. Not to mention the furious Monarchies of the East destructive of all Diligence and Arts; the Comte De Boulainvilliers in his Elat de la France, says, that in some Provinces in France the soil is left uncultivated, and several trades and professions are disused; because the labour of the Husbandman, and the skill and application of the Artist, are rendered abortive by rigorous impositions. They chuse rather to starve in idleness, than to work and starve.

Sect. VI.: The Condition of free States, how preferable to that of such as are not free.

NO arbitrary Prince upon earth could have raised from the States of Holland the fifth part of what they have, as a free State, paid to their own Magistrates, nor could have sound whence to have raised it. I will venture to say the same of England. Under a Monarchy of the late King James’s model, was it possible to have supported two wars so long and consuming as the two last, or to have raised sums so immense to carry them on? It would be madness to assert it. By this time numbers of our people would have been driven from their Country, much of our Soil been waste, many of our Edition: current; Page: [114]Manufactures laid aside, our Trade sunk, our Wealth fled, and the condition of England have resembled that of France, as well as our Government theirs, and for the same reason. It is in vain boasted of the House of Medicis, that in a long course of years they had laid no new tax upon a country where their power was absolute; since the Cities and Territories, under their Sovereignty, are by it reduced from great wealth and populousness to such miserable desolation and poverty, that it is downright oppression to oblige them to pay any considerable part of the old, much more all.

To reason from experience and examples, is the best reasoning i . Compare any free State with any other that is not free. Compare the former and present condition of any State formerly free; or once enslaved, and now free. Compare England with France; Holland with Denmark; or the seven Provinces under the States, with the same seven Provinces under Philip the second; you will find in these and every other instance, that happiness and wretchedness are the exact tallies to Liberty and Bondage.

Florence was a Commonwealth ill framed at first, and consequently subject to frequent convulsions, factions, parties, and subdivision of parties; yet by the mere blessing and vigour of Liberty, she flourished in people, riches and arms, till with her Liberty she lost all spirit and prosperity; and became languishing, little and contemptible under a small Prince with a great name. She has been long cured of all her former frolicks and tumults, by an effectual remedy, servitude; and beggary, the child of servitude; and by depopulation, the offspring of both k . All arguments for absolute Power, are confuted by facts; no Country governed by mere will Edition: current; Page: [115]was ever governed well; passion governs the will, the will becomes the measure of right and wrong and of all things, and caprice the ballance of the will; and I know not but it may be maintained that a free State the worst constituted, as was that of Florence, is, with all its disorders, factions, and tumults, preferable to any absolute Monarchy, however calm l .

Sect. VII.: The Misery and Insecurity of the Cæsars from their overgrown Power.

THESE Emperors of Rome, who had sacrificed their country and all things to their supreme power, found little ease and security from its being supreme. From Cæsar the Dictator, who had sacrificed public Liberty, and was himself sacrificed to her manes, till Charlemain, above thirty of them were murdered, and four of them murdered themselves; the soldiery were their masters, and upon every pique put them to death. If the Prince was chosen by the Senate, this was reason enough for shedding his blood by the Armies; or if the Armies chose him, this choice of their own never proved an obstacle against shedding it. It was the soldiers that dispatched the Emperor Pertinax, after he had been forced to accept the Empire. These lofty Sovereigns having trodden under foot the Senate, People and Laws, the best supports of legitimate Power, held their scepter and their lives upon the courtesy of their masters the soldiers. He who swayed the Universe, was a slave to his own mercenaries.

Though Augustus had reigned so long, and so thoroughly enfeebled or extinguished the maxims of Liberty, and introduced and settled those of Monarchy; Tiberius his immediate Successor, Edition: current; Page: [116]thought himself so little safe, that he lived in perpetual vassalage to his own fears. By making all men slaves, he could not make himself free, and was only the most overgrown and gaudy slave in the Empire; so much do Princes gain by being above Law! They who will be content with no terms of reigning, but such as make all men fear them, will find reasons to fear all men. Tiberius did so, and the many sacrifices which he made to his fear, far from lessening, did but encrease it, as such sacrifices did but multiply enemies and terrors.

First he dreaded Agrippa Posthumus, and murdered him; but the murder ensured not his repose, even from that quarter; for a slave of that Prince personated his master, and alarmed Tiberius more than Agrippa had done. He dreaded Germanicus, and when that excellent person was dead (by no fair means, it was supposed) he dreaded Agrippina his wife, and her little children; and when by all manner of treachery and cruelty he had oppressed them, he was seized with new dread from Sejanus, the greatest and justest of all; nor ceased his dread after the execution of Sejanus; insomuch, that he commanded a general Massacre of all his Family, Friends, and Adherents. Next, his fears still continuing, he doomed to the most barbarous death his own grandsons by Germanicus; for their being already under miserable imprisonment and exile, did not suffice. And when the Family of Germanicus was destroyed; he had remaining fears from the Friends and Dependants of that House; these were the next objects of his Vengeance, which he executed fiercely. Nor small was the Terror which he entertained of his own Mother; and when she was gone, he let loose his rage upon the Favourites and Adherents of his Mother.

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Now after all these precautions, so many and so bloody, did his suspicions abate? No; they were rather whetted and inflamed m . Of the great Lords of the Senate he was under perpetual apprehensions, and making daily victims; their wealth and race, nay, their poverty, names, and qualities frightened him; he feared friends and enemies. Those who advised him in council, those who diverted him at his leisure hours; his Confidents, Counsellors, and Bottle-companions, were all Martyrs to his Jealousy and Fury. He was so afraid of considerable men, or giving them employments which made them so, that some who were appointed Governors of Provinces, were never permitted to go thither, and great Provinces, for a course of years, left destitute of their Governors; and though he dreaded stirs and innovations above all things n ; yet he suffered the loss and devastation of Provinces, the insults and invasion of enemies, rather than trust any one with the power of avenging the State, and repulsing the public foe. Thus he left Armenia to be seized by the Parthians, Mœsia by the Dacians and other barbarians, and both the Gauls to be ravaged by the Germans o , says Suetonius.

Sect. VIII.: A representation of the Torments and Horrors under which Tiberius lived.

WHAT joy, what tranquillity did Tiberius reap from his great and unaccountable Sovereignty? Did it exempt him from disquiet, or could all his efforts, all the terrors of his Power, prevent Edition: current; Page: [118]or remove his own? Did his numerous Armies protect him from the assaults of fear and apprehension? Did he sleep the sounder for his Prætorian Bands? Did the Rocks of Capreæ, hardly accessible to men, keep off those horrors of mind which haunted him at Rome, and on the Continent? Or rather, with all the eclat of Empire, with all his Policy and all his Guards, was he not the most miserable Being in his Dominions? Doubtless he was; other particulars, the most obnoxious and threatened, had but some things and some persons to fear; Tiberius dreaded all men and every thing. Was his Power unlimited? so was his Misery; the more he made others suffer, the faster he multiplied his own torments. He himself confessed, that all the anger of the Deities could not doom him to more terrible anguish than that under which he felt himself perishing daily.

Imagine this great Prince, this Sovereign of Rome, in hourly fear of secret Assassins; daily dreading and expecting the news of Armies revolted, a new Emperor created, and himself deposed: imagine him fixed upon a high rock, and watching there from day to day, with a careful eye and an anxious and boding heart, for signals from the Continent, whether he must stay or fly: imagine him every moment ready to commit himself to the waves and tempests, and to escape whither he could for life and shelter: imagine him, even after a Conspiracy suppressed, lurking for nine months together in one lodge, under such terrors as not to dare to venture an airing even in his beloved Capreæ, however walled with Rocks and defended with Guards. In short, he feared every thing but to do evil, which yet was the sole cause of his fears. Such was his situation and life, and such the blessing of lawless might! “To Tiberius not his Imperial fortune, not his gloomy and inaccessible solitude could ensure Edition: current; Page: [119]repose, nor keep him from feeling nor even from avowing the rack in his breast and the avenging furies that pursued him.” His Death too, was, like his life and reign, tragical and bloody.

Sect. IX.: The terrible Operation of lawless Power upon the minds of Princes; and how it changes them.

TIBERIUS was an able man; he had talents for Affairs; he had eminent sufficiency in War; during the Commonwealth he would have well supported the Dignity of a Senator; he would have filled the first Offices of the State; he would have probably been zealous for public Liberty. He had even under Augustus, while he was yet a Subject, acquired a signal name and estimation. Nay it is likely he might have left behind him a high reputation and applause; for he had Art enough to have hid or suppressed the ill qualities which were naturally in him; so that he might have lived happy and admired, and died in renown. But being, unhappily for himself and his Country, invested with Power without controul, he let loose all his Passions, and he, who might have proved an excellent and useful Member of a free State, became a Prince altogether merciless and pernicious; a terrible Tyrant, void of natural affection for his own Blood and Family, void of all regard and tenderness for his People, and possessed with intense hate towards the Senate and Nobility. One of his discernment was not to be deceived by Flattery; he knew that, whatever submissions and even prostrations were made him, the Yoke of Sovereignty was grating and grievous to the Romans, and he sought revenge upon their persons for hating his Usurpation. This conduct made him more hated, and this hatred enraged him so, that at last, renouncing all shame, and Edition: current; Page: [120]throwing away his beloved Arts of Dissimulation, he commenced, as it were, an open Enemy to his People, surrendered himself over to every act of Cruelty, and to every abomination, even to Rapaciousness and Plunder, a vice to which for a long time he seemed to have no biass.

But what is not to be apprehended from Power without controul, and who is to be trusted with it, when a man of such strong parts and long experience as Tiberius, was so entirely mastered and perverted by it? It is a task too mighty for the soul of man, and fit for none but God, who cannot change, cannot act passionately, cannot be mistaken, and is omnipresent. There are few instances of men who have not been corrupted and intoxicated with it, and many, of whom the highest hopes were conceived, have degenerated notoriously under it. When men are once above fear of punishment, they soon grow to be above shame. Besides, the genius and abilities of men are limited, but their passions and vanity boundless; hence so few can be perfectly good, and so many are transcendently evil. They mistake good fortune for great merit, and are apt to rise in their own conceit as high at least as fortune can raise them. Galba was, in the opinion of all men, worthy of Empire, and that opinion would have ever continued, had he never been tried; and Vespasian was, till then, the only instance of an Emperor by power changed for the better p .

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Sect. X.: The wretched Fears accompanying the Possession of arbitrary Power, exemplified in Caligula and other Roman Emperors.

NOR was this anguish and these fears peculiar to Tiberius, his Successors felt them eminently; as did every one who reigned as he reigned. Caligula was so haunted by inward horrors, and his imagination so terrified, that he became almost a stranger to sleep, and used to roam about the palace while others slept, afraid of the night, and invoking the return of day. Upon an alarm from Germany, he prepared to run away from Rome; and was always provided with exquisite poison against an exigency. Claudius scarce lived a moment of his Reign free from affrights and suspicions; nor was there any accident so trivial, or any Man, Woman, or Slave, or Child so contemptible, as not to dismay him and set him upon sanguinary precautions and punishments; he was several times almost frighted out of his Sovereignty, and willing to creep away into safety and solitude. Even before the Senate, which upon the sight of a dagger, he had summoned in great haste and earnestness, the poor unmanly wretch burst into tears and howling, bewailed his perillous condition, that in no place or circumstance could he be out of the way of danger. His whole life was governed by fears, and his fears by his wives and freedmen; hence his excessive cruelty, according to the measure of his own timidity, or of their ambition, vindictiveness, and rapacity. The Horrors of Nero’s guilt never forsook him; they were sometimes so violent, that every joint about him trembled; he dreaded his Mother’s Ghost as much as he had her living Spirit, and made doleful complaints, that the Furies pursued him with Edition: current; Page: [122]Stripes, and Rage, and burning Torches: and that he was alarmed with horrid shrieks and groans from his Mother’s Tomb. What else did Heliogabalus apprehend but a violent death, when he went always provided with a silken halter and a golden poignard, as expedients to escape death by the hand of an enemy? For the like purpose Caracalla made himself a copious provision of poisons. This barbarous Parricide was wont to complain that the Ghost of his Father, and that of his Brother by him murdered, terrified and pursued him with drawn swords. So sorely did the bloody Horrors of their Crimes and Infamy, haunt these men of Blood, and became their Executioners! What availed their Power and Armies against the alarms of their Conscience? Could all their Titles and Might, all the Guards at their gate, scare away reflection, or rescue them from the agonies and goreings of their own breasts?

Sect. XI.: What it is that constitutes the Security and Glory of a Prince; and how a Prince and People become estranged from each other.

WHAT then is it that a Prince may rely on for the security of his Person, and the quiet of his Soul? Hear the opinion of a great and a good Prince, Marcus Antoninus, delivered to his Friends and Counsellors just before he expired: “Verily it is neither the influence of Revenue and Treasures, nor the multitude of Guards, that can uphold a Prince, or assure him of obedience, unless with the duty of obedience, the zeal and affections of his People do concur. Surely, only long and secure is the Reign of such a one as by actions of benignity stamps upon the hearts of his People the impressions of love; not those of Edition: current; Page: [123]fear by acts of cruelty.” He adds, “that a Prince has nothing to fear from his People, as long as their obedience flows from Inclination, and is not constained by Servitude; and that Subjects will never refuse obedience, when they are not treated with contumely and violence q .

A man who means no ill would not seek the Power to do it, and he who seeks that Power, or has it, will be eternally suspected to mean no good. Now the only way to obviate such suspicion, is, to act by known rules of Law; he who rules by consent is obnoxious to no blame. Such restraint may probably at some times keep a just Prince from doing good, but it certainly withholds a bad one from doing much greater mischief. An arbitrary Prince who can do what he will, is for ever liable to be suspected of willing all that he can; hence his people mistrust him; hence his indignation for their mistrust, and hence the root of eternal jealousy and uneasiness between him and them.

The People likewise expect complaisance from the Prince, expect to have their sentiments and humours considered; while the Prince probably thinks that they have no right to form any judgment of public matters, or to make any demands upon him; but, on the contrary, requires of them blind reverence and obedience to his Authority; and acquiescence in his superior Conduct and Skill; that all his doings should pass for just; himself for a person altogether sacred and unaccountable; and his words for Laws. If their behaviour towards him do not happen to square exactly with these his sovereign notions and high conceit of himself, he will be apt to think, or some officious flatterer will be ready to persuade him r , “his Royal Authority is set at nought, the Edition: current; Page: [124]People are revolted; and what remains but that they take Arms?” To punish therefore their Disobedience, he proceeds to violence, and exercises real severity for imaginary guilt. Mischief is prolific; violence in him begets resentment in them; the People murmur and exclaim; the Prince is thence provoked, and studies vengeance; when one act of vengeance is resented and exposed, as it ever will be, more will follow. Thus things go on. Affection is not only lost, but irrecoverable on either side; hatred is begun on both; and Prince and People consider themselves no longer as Magistrate and Subjects, but one another as Enemies. Hence perhaps Caligula’s inhuman wish, that he could murder all his People at a blow. The sequel of all this is easy to be guessed; he is continually destroying them; they are continually wishing him destroyed.

Sect. XII.: How nearly it behoves a Prince to be beloved and esteemed by his Subjects. The terrible Consequences of their mutual Mistrust and Hatred.

HOW much does it import Princes to preserve the good opinion of their People! when it is once lost, it is scarce ever to be recalled. When once they come to believe ill of their Prince, there is nothing so ill that they will not believe; as in the instance of Tiberius, of whom things the most improbable and horrid were believed. It is hardly possible for any merit, the most genuine and exalted, to preserve popular favour for a long time; accidents and disasters will be falling in, to sour the spirits of the populace; or some fresh merit, more new or more glaring, may appear, and lessen or intercept their admiration of the other; or the same person may not always have the same opportunities to oblige them; so that the best care and conduct can Edition: current; Page: [125]only serve to retain it to a certain degree; and this by good conduct is certainly and always to be done. But when the reputation of the Prince with his Subjects is entirely gone, something worse than the bare want of it will ensue. Between a Prince’s forfeiting the public Affection and his incurring the public Hatred, there is scarce any medium, and even that medium is a terrible one, since to be scorned is not much better than to be hated, and often infers it.

Would a Prince live in security, ease and credit? let him live and rule by a standard certain and fixed, that of Laws, nor grasp at more than is given him. Many by seeking too much have lost all, and forfeited their Crown through the wantonness and folly of loading it with false and invidious ornaments. While nothing would serve them but lawless Power, even their legitimate Authority grew odious, and was rent from them. They set their People the example of assuming what was none of theirs, to do acts of violence in defense of violated Laws, to judge for themselves, and to sanctify by the title of Right whatever they could accomplish by force. Rather than live upon bad terms, people will be apt to make their own terms, and think no fealty is due where no saith is kept. Who would not rejoice more in a free gift than in plunder? for such is the difference between Power conferred and Power usurped. What new Prerogative acquired to the Crown, or what new Revenue can make amends for the Hearts of the People estranged and embittered? This is such a loss, as no acquisition, no pomp of Power whatsoever, can atone for. We have seen under what gloom, asfright, and despair the Cæsars lived and swayed, though their sway was without check and bounds. Machiavel says, that when a Prince has once incurred the public hate, there is no person nor thing which he ought not to dread.

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He who does no ill, fears none; but such as are continually creating terrors and calamities to others, have abundant reason to be under continual apprehensions themselves. How much more desirable, how much more just, and easy, and safe is the condition of a Prince, who lives and rules by Laws over a free People by their own consent? both People and Laws are his guard, and what secures them, secures him. They seel that he loves them; and he is conscious that they ought to love him. This is Government, and the effects of it; not the triumph of boundless arrogance or folly; not the insults of one over all, nor consequently his distrust of them, nor their slavish dread of him; but the equal administration of eternal Righteousness, and stated Laws; an endearing intercourse of fatherly care and protection, and of filial gratitude and duty. How amiable must it be, how refreshing to a generous Spirit, to oblige and solace a whole People, to have a whole People adore and bless him! What master of Slaves, even the highest and most unbounded master, can boast so much of himself and his slaves? The Grandeur of such a Prince is all false and tinsel, painted and hollow; he is never secure, because he is not innocent; he is not innocent, because he is an Oppressor.

To rule by mere Will, is to rule by Violence, and violence is War. He who puts himself in a state of Hostility with his Subjects, invites Hostility from them, as did the late King James, who having no Confidence in the Laws, which he had violated, nor in his People, whom he had oppressed, put himself in a posture of War against his Subjects; so that when they too had recourse to arms, they did but stand in their own defence. They had no quarrel to that King James, who had taken an Oath to rule by Law; but when that King assumed another person, and, in spite of Oaths and Laws, would oppress Edition: current; Page: [127]and spoil, they who owed this man of violence no Allegiance, opposed Might to Might, since he would abide by no Law. It was not their Prince therefore that they resisted, but their Enemy and Spoiler: he in truth, had no more Right to what the Law gave him not, than the great Turk had; they therefore opposed not an English Monarch, but an Invader and a Tyrant. Nor do I know of any People who threw off their Monarchy wantonly; and if they did it through Oppression, the Oppressor might blame himself s . Had he conquered his Subjects, what would he have gained, but the detestable Glory of a triumphant Oppressor; of seeing a rich Country reduced by servitude to poverty, and of bearing the curses of a free People oppressed? Whoever has beheld the condition of a great neighbouring Kingdom, naturally the finest in Europe, has seen in the condition of the Inhabitants, poor, pale, nasty, and naked, what genuine Glory their Princes have reaped, by reducing all the Laws of their Country into one short one, that of Royal Will and Pleasure.

Sect. XIII.: Public Happiness only then certain, when the Laws are certain and inviolable.

IT is allowed that amongst the Roman Emperors, there were some excellent ones. But was not all this chance? They might have proved like the rest, who were incredibly mischievous and vile. They had nothing but their own Inclinations to restrain them; and is human Society to depend for security and happiness upon uncertain Inclinations and Will? They were good by conformity to the Laws, as Laws are the only defense against such as Edition: current; Page: [128]are bad. The bad ones had almost sunk the Empire to a chaos, before there appeared one Prince of tolerable capacity and virtue to retrieve it. Insomuch that Vespasian declared it to be absolutely necessary to raise a fund of above three hundred millions of money (of our money) purely to save the State from absolute ruin, and dissolution t . After Domitian there succeeded five good Reigns, during which Law and Righteousness prevailed, and the Emperors took nothing, neither power nor money, but what Laws long established gave them, and professed to derive every thing from the Law, and to occupy nothing in their own Name. But as the Emperor might still be a Tyrant if he would, that wild Prince Commodus resumed the old measures of violence, and, becoming a second Caligula, dissipated and overturned, in a few years, all the treasure, wise provisions and establishments, contrived and gathered by his Predecessors during the best part of a Century.

To conclude, if Princes would never encroach, Subjects would hardly ever rebel; and if the sormer knew that they would be resisted, they would not encroach. Every Subject knows that if he resist against Law, he will die by Law. It is certain mischief to both Prince and People, to assert slavish Doctrines, and no security to either; since nature oppressed will depart from passive principle. But to assert the reasonableness of vindicating violated Laws, is no more than asserting that Laws ought not to be violated, as they ever will be where there is no penalty annexed. The least attempt upon public Liberty is therefore alarming; if it is suffered once, it will be apt to be repeated often; a few repetitions create a habit; habit claims prescription and right. Such also is the nature of man, that Edition: current; Page: [129]when public Affairs are once disconcerted, it is hard, sometimes impossible, to restore them to their first firmness; numbers become engaged in the corruption, and will be trying all their Arts and Power to support it. Where it grows extensive and general, the public Authority will probably espouse and defend it; and even where that authority is against it, the torrent may be so strong as to bear down Authority itself. How many great and good men have fallen themselves while they strove to restore the State? attempts to reform the Soldiery, to reform the Clergy, to reform the Civil Administration, have often drawn down a tragical doom upon the authors of them. It is much easier to prevent than to cure.

DISCOURSE VI.: Of the old Law of Treason by the Emperors perverted and extended.

Sect. I.: The antient Purpose of that Law; the Politics of Augustus in stretching it.

I Proceed now to shew by what Arts and Supports the Tyranny was preserved and exerted; how the old Laws, especially that of Treason, were perverted, and to explain the instrumenta regni. “This Law, says Tacitus, in the days of our Ancestors, had indeed the same Name, but implied different arraignments and crimes, namely those against the State; as when an army was betrayed abroad, when seditions were raised at home; in short, when the public was faithlesly Edition: current; Page: [130]administered, and the Majesty of the Roman People was debased. These were Actions; and Actions were punished, but Words were free. Augustus was the first who brought Libels under the penalties of this wrested Law a .”

In that sense of this Law (and doubtless it is the true sense) the Emperors were the criminals; they who had enslaved Senate and People, usurped and destroyed the State. But they had got the Power of interpreting Laws, or of directing those who did, and consequently were become the Law-makers. As Laws observed had defended Liberty; Laws wrested secured the Usurpers. Hence the old Law of Treason was degraded and perverted to involve in its penalties the Authors of Lampoons and Pasquinades. This Law of Majesty was so much and so long prostituted and abused; so much bloodshed and oppression was committed by the succeeding Emperors under its name, that at last every sentence and punishment, however just, which was pronounced by virtue of it, was thought unlawful and cruel; so that out of detestation to this abused Law, many other good Laws perished.

Doubtless Reputation is a tender thing, and ought no more to be violated than property or life; and they who attack and blacken it, are as vile Offenders as they who rob and steal. But there was no better pretence for making it treasonable, than for construing any other offence against particulars, to be an offence against the public. In truth, Augustus could have no other view in this, than the suppressing of that Freedom of Speech which Edition: current; Page: [131]was an effect of the freedom of the antient Government, and inconsistent with his Usurpation. When words were made Treason, it was time to be wary of one’s expressions; especially when the construction of them was merely arbitrary, and the Law that made them so, was utterly silent about them, there remained no sort of rule to know when they were otherwise; nor had he who was to be judge any rule but his own suspicion, anger and partiality. For every word, for every action, men were involved in process for Treason, provided there appeared but an informer to charge him, and call it so.

It is to no purpose to say that Augustus sometimes overlooked or pardoned invectives against himself. It was all grimace and false generosity; since, after this Law was so terribly inverted, there was little likelihood that men would run such capital risques. If contumelies upon private persons were high Treason, what must it be to meddle with the Prince or his Administration? He took care of himself without seeming to do so; he found his own sanctuary in providing one for others; and regulations made for his own defence and gratification, had an appearance of a spirit altogether public and disinterested. But it was a downright insult upon the sense of mankind, to convert a petulant imagination and a few wanton words, into a crime against the State. He who exposed the gallantries of a Lady of Quality, or the faults and foibles of a Patrician, was, forsooth, deemed to bear hostile purposes against the Commonwealth: for this is the construction of Treason by the Lawyers. Yet Augustus himself had made obscene Libels, particularly upon Fulvia the wife of Anthony. This multiplying of Treasons from Words and Writings, had a melancholy aspect; for, besides that Treasons multiplied are the bulwarks and engines of Tyranny; looks at Edition: current; Page: [132]last became treasonable, as did natural sympathy and sorrow, nay, sighs and silence.

Augustus was cunning enough to know the advantages of Treasons multiplied to his own domination, and wrested adultery also into a crime of State. His daughter and her daughter were prostitutes, and all their gallants, according to this merciful Monarch, were Traytors, and because these sort of Traytors were very numerous, as well as considerable for quality and credit, he had here a good pretence to get rid of many considerable Romans, who gave him uneasiness and jealousy. With death or banishment therefore he punished their gallants. For to a crime common between men and women, he gave the grievous name of Treason and Sacrilege, and trod upon the moderation of Antiquity. Nor was this sort of Treason limited to the Reigning House and the blood of the Cæsars; it was universal, and every Adulterer was a Traytor; by which he made himself the greatest Traytor in Rome, as he was the most universal Adulterer; nor were his own severe Laws any check upon him, no more than the sacred ties of friendship; for he spared not the wife of his own Favourite, and faithful Counsellor Mæcenas. This was not extreme prudence in so great a Politician, to be daily violating institutions of his own making, especially when by the rigour of the penalties, and the formidable name which he had given to the crime, he had shewn how important and unpardonable he thought it; unless, like the Princes of Italy in Machiavel’s time, he broke penal Laws, to encourage others to do so, on purpose to ensnare delinquents, and gain confiscations.

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Sect. II.: The Deification of the Emperors, what an engine of Tyranny, and snare to the Roman People.

THE Deification of Augustus and his usurping even in his life-time the Attributes and Prerogatives of a Deity, was another snare for Power and Crimes. Henceforth every offence offered to this new Deity was high Treason against the Gods; for he was a God as well as the best of them, and indeed more to be dreaded than all of them. It became a high crime to swear falsly by his name, the same as if the name of Jupiter had been falsified; nay, to sell his Statue in the sale of a house or gardens; and the citizens of Cyzicus, notwithstanding their faithful adherence and strenuous services to the Romans in the Mithridatic War, were bereft of their freedom for neglecting the worship of the deified Augustus. The name of Apidius Merula was razed from the list of Senators, because he had not sworn upon the Acts of the deified Augustus. One of the articles charged against C. Silanus, Proconsul of Asia, was, that he violated the Deity of Augustus. Varilia, in the opinion of Tiberius, deserved to be condemned, if she had uttered aught irreligiously concerning the deified Augustus; for this was Treason and Blasphemy. Such was the awe and reverence paid to this fresh Deity; and such care had he taken to tie up the tongues of men from censuring him living or dead; he was instar omnium deorum; you might say what you would of other Gods, but beware of injuring a deified Emperor. He had done more mischief, committed higher oppressions, spilt more human blood than all the men in the world, and was made a Deity!

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Nor was it out of any principle of Superstition, that Tiberius guarded the fame and Godhead of Augustus with such severe sanctions; for he little mattered the Gods and godly Rites, being himself a Fatalist, and only infatuated with notions of Astrology. Neither was it from any regard to Augustus (who was suspected to have been poisoned to make way for him) and whose Blood and Posterity he was daily destroying; a proceeding inconsistent with the adorations and sacrifices which he affected to offer him, as Agrippina truly told him. But he did it to promote Superstition in others, and rivet the public Slavery; since in religious devotion paid to a Prince, civil submission was included and enforced. It in truth imported him nearly to have all the Laws and doings of Augustus pass for sacred, and to set an example himself that he thought them so. Augustus had left him (as he pretended) his Successor, and it behoved him that Augustus should pass for a Prince of consummate wisdom; for had he erred in other great counsels and events, he might have erred in that; besides, Augustus was a popular Prince, and it would have been unpopular to have neglected him, or rescinded his deeds.

Nero too acquired the Sovereignty by the murder of Claudius, and, to keep it, murdered his Children and Kindred; yet he at first treated his memory with high regard, vindicated the Reign, and even extolled the parts and prudence of this deified fool; for Claudius too was listed amongst the Gods; he who had been the most stupid, cowardly, and bloody Idiot that could possibly wear and disgrace a Diadem. This strange animal or human monster, just begun by nature, but never finished, as his mother used to say, was utterly unfit for any Office in the Empire or private life, yet came to be an Emperor and a God. So that to Edition: current; Page: [135]bear sovereign rule, or to be exalted to a God, no qualification at all was necessary. His grandmother Livia contemned him even to loathing; she could not bear to speak to him. His nephew Caligula, when he had butchered many of his kindred, saved Claudius purely to keep him for a laughing-stock. He was held in the same scorn by his sister Livilla, by Augustus and all his family. He was the jest of the Court b . The kindest word Augustus gave him was that of misellus, wretching.

Sect. III.: The Images of the Emperors, how sacred they became, and how pernicious.

AS flattery begot servitude, so it was by servitude propagated, and whatever tended to sink and debase the spirit of the people, as sycophancy did, exalted the Tyrants; nay, their Images and Statues became sacred and revered; and any villain or profligate might offer what outrage he pleased to every worthy man, every slave insult his Lord, every criminal escape justice, by sheltering himself under the Emperor’s Statue, or by carrying his Effigies about him. Nor could so considerable a man as a Senator of Rome, even in the face of the Tribunal, and in the very portal of the Senate, escape the insults and menaces of a profligate woman, who thus defended herself with the Image of Tiberius, though he had legally convicted her of forgery; so far was he from daring to bring her to judgment. So that in this impious reverence to a silent Stone, all Law, and punishment, and protection was swallowed up. This gives probability to what Philostratus tells us in the life of Apollonius Tyaneus, that a master was Edition: current; Page: [136]condemned, as one sacrilegious and accursed, for having chastized a slave, who happened to have about him a small coin impressed with the Effigies of Tiberius. So vastly had servitude grown upon the Romans so early as the Reign of Tiberius, and in the best part of his Reign, even while he yet kept tolerable measures with Law and Liberty, and warily avoided all excesses of power and cruelty. Yet in his second year, Granius Marcellus being arranged of high Treason, it was one of the Articles, that the Statue of Marcellus stood higher than that of the Cæsars, and from that of Augustus the head had been taken off, and the head of Tiberius put on. At the recital of this Tiberius waxed into such a flame and fury, that, departing from his wonted caution and silence, he cried aloud, he would vote in this cause himself under the tie of an oath. He was excellently answered by Cneius Piso, who asked him; “In what place, Cæsar, will you chuse to vote? if first, I shall have your example to follow; if last, I fear, through ignorance, I may happen to differ from you.” Hence the reflection of Tacitus, that there even then remained some faint traces of expiring Liberty c .

It is not strange, however hideous, to find afterwards these Statues, these dead representatives of the dead, invested with such extravagant and inviolable sanctity, that it was death without redemption for a master to chastize his slave near the picture or image of Augustus; death, to change one’s garments there; death, to carry a coin or a ring with his Image into the Privy or into the Stews; death, to drop a word that seemed to censure any action or any saying of his; and death was the portion of that unhappy man, who suffered some public Edition: current; Page: [137]honour to be decreed him by his Colony, on the Anniversary of the same day, when Augustus had once public honours decreed to him.

The execrable Caligula, who was a professed foe to the human race, a monster gorged with blood, and dyed in it, assumed Godhead as well as the rest, and claimed all the apparatus of Divinity, a Temple and Altars, Worship and choice Sacrifices. It is incredible what dreadful punishments he inflicted upon many even of principal fashion, for no other crime, than that they had never invoked his celestial Genius by an Oath. This was capital, it was Majesty violated; and for it the offenders, after they had been first torn and mangled with stripes, were doomed to the mines, or to the drudgery of mending the public roads, or to be thrown to wild beasts; and some were sawed asunder. A bloody Deity! Had he been omnipotent, the race of men must have been extinct. All his own murders, all the efforts of his malice and rage, were not able to accomplish it, and he wished to derive the Glory of his Reign from some signal Calamities happening in it; as if the monster himself had not been curse and calamity enough! He envied Augustus the happiness of an Army massacred, and Tiberius the sad disaster at Fidenæ, where fifty thousand souls were maimed, or perished outright by the fall of the Amphitheatre there. Hence he longed passionately for the blessing of some public Calamities great and dreadful, the Slaughter of great Armies, Famine, Pestilence, Conflagrations and Earthquakes. The acclamations of the crowd in the Theatre differing from his, he uttered a Godlike wish, “That the whole Roman People had but one common neck; for then one execution would have dispatched them all.” To complete the Character of this benevolent Deity, he Edition: current; Page: [138]boasted, that of all his great Qualities, none delighted him so much as his defiance of all shame d .

These celestial Titles and Worship divine, were sometimes bestowed upon the wives of the Emperors, their sisters, harlots, and infants. Caligula was wont to swear by the Divinity of Drusilla his sister and concubine. Claudius had divine Honours decreed to Livia his grandmother. Nero’s daughter by Poppæa was deified; Worship, Priest, and Chapel were assigned her; and it was one of the crimes imputed to Thrasea Pætus, that he did not believe Poppæa herself to be a Divinity. Nay, it would seem as if Nero’s Voice had been created a Divinity, since I think, it was Treason never to have sacrificed to it; a crime imputed to the same Thrasea. Domitian likewise adjudged himself a God, and proved much such another as Caligula.

Sect. IV.: What a destructive Calamity the Law of Majesty grew, and how fast Treasons multiplied under its Name.

I Have said so much of this humour of deifying Princes living or dead, not so much to expose it, as to shew the wicked effects it had upon Liberty and the State. It opened a new Source of flattery, and accusations, and punishments, and strengthened the hand of Tyranny; of this I have given sufficient instances, and many more might be given, all manifestly proving with what impudence and cruelty the Law of Majesty was stretched and embittered. In this Law all Laws were swallowed up, and therefore all crimes brought under the article of Treason, Edition: current; Page: [139]as Treason was the highest crime e , as in the case of C. Silius, whose chief offence was overmuch service done to Tiberius; thence that refined observation of Tacitus; “That benefits are only fo far acceptable, as it seems possible to discharge them; but when once they have exceeded all retaliation, hatred is returned for gratitude.” Under Tiberius, says Suetonius, every fault passed for Capital, even that of Words, however few and undesigning. When C. Silanus was arraigned for male-administration in Asia, Tacitus says, that besides all the other methods of artifice and violence, manifold and barbarous, used to destroy him; that none of his relations might dare to aid him and plead for him in his trial, articles of Treason were subjoined, a sure bar to all assistance, and a seal upon their lips. One of the great charges against Libo Drusus was, that he asked the fortune-tellers, whether he should not one day be immensely rich. This too was the sin of Majesty violated, and for it he was pursued to death and his estate seized. Note, that these were two men of high quality, akin to the Cæsars, and obnoxious to Tiberius. This seems to have been their real crime. Cesius Cordus was accused of Rapine in his Government of Crete; but to make sure of the criminal, he was likewise charged with the crime of violated Majesty; a charge, says Tacitus, which in those days proved the sum and bulwark of all accusations whatsoever.

It was Treason in Cremutius Cordus to have inserted in his History the praises of Brutus; Treason, to have stiled Cassius the last of the Romans, though in doing it he only quoted the words of Brutus; Treason in Titius Sabinus Edition: current; Page: [140]to have been a follower of Germanicus, and after his death, a faithful friend to his wife and children; Treason in Pompeia Macrina, Treason in her Father and Brother, the former an illustrious Roman Knight, the latter once Prætor, to have been descended from Theophanes of Mitylene, a noble Greek, in great confidence with Pompey the Great; Treason in L. Ennius a Roman Knight, to have turned the Effigies of the Emperor into money; Treason in Lutorius Priscus, another Roman Knight, to have composed during the illness of Drusus, a Poem for an Elegy, in case he died; Treason in Mamercus Scaurus, an illustrious Orator nobly born, that in a Tragedy by him composed, there were certain Verses capable of two meanings; Treason in Torquatus Silanus, a Nobleman of the first rank in Rome, to live splendidly, and entertain several principal servants; another Silanus his Nephew died soon after for the very same sort of Treason. In another Nobleman it was Treason, to have preserved the Image of Cassius amongst those of his Ancestors; Treason in the two brothers sirnamed Petræ, both illustrious Roman Knights, to have dreamed something about Claudius; Treason in Appius Silanus, that Messalina the Empress, and Narcissus the freedman, had forged a dream concerning him; and, to add no more, it was Treason, it was Majesty violated, for a poor distressed Lady to have bewailed the blood of her son, spilt to satiate an implacable Tyrant incensed by his gay raillery. This was Fusius Geminus lately Consul; and his ancient mother was murdered for bewailing the murder of her child f .

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DISCOURSE VII.: Of the Accusations, and Accusers under the Emperors.

Sect. IV.: The pestilent Employment of these Men, their Treachery and Encouragement.

FROM Law thus perverted there arose encouragement more than enough for Informers and Accusers, and a plentiful harvest: a sort of men, says Tacitus, born for the destruction of mankind, and by no terrors or penalties ever sufficiently restrained; yet by the Emperor such sons of perdition were sought out and invited by great rewards. Tiberius had the front to tell the Senate, that these insects, enemies to Law and Liberty, were the Guardians and Defenders of the Laws. They were his Defenders, if he pleased; the Champions of Imperial Violence and Lust; but the Pests of the Public; dogs of Prey thirsting after the blood and fortunes of every worthy and every wealthy man. That Prince who does not punish Informers, encourages them, said Domitian; but this he said in the beginning of his Reign while he yet retained the appearances of benevolence and humanity; afterwards when the disguise was taken off, and he followed the bent of his brutal nature, it was enough to ruin, any man, if he were but charged to have done some deed, or spoke some word, no matter what, against the Majesty of the Prince. Men were then capitally arraigned, and the estates were seized of both the living and the dead, for any fault whatsoever, Edition: current; Page: [142]upon the credit of any Accuser whatsoever; and inheritances, to which he could have no possible title or pretence upon earth, were usurped by him, if there was but one Person, one Informer, who could say, that he heard the deceased declare Cæsar to be his heir. The same pretence served Caligula; nay, when people had out of fear named him amongst their heirs, he wondered at their impudence to keep him out of his share by living afterwards, and for that offence poisoned many such. In short the chief and most frequent incidents in the Reigns of almost all the Cæsars, were but the bloody efforts and success of the Accusers; and the groundwork and support of all accusations, was the perverted Law of violated Majesty, which came to signify every thing which the Accusers averred and the Emperors disliked.

In the beginning of Tiberius’s Reign, L. Piso, one of the boldest men then surviving, owned himself so much intimidated by the merciless pursuits of the Impleaders, who breathed nothing but terror and accusations, that he threatned in open Senate to relinquish Rome and retire into some distant corner of the earth. He had reason for his complaint and fears, he was afterwards marked out as a victim and prey by one of the tribe, and arraigned for certain words secretly dropped against the Majesty of the Prince. These accusations were no other or better than the cruel Proscription continued; by the latter, Senators and Knights, Patriots obnoxious to the Usurpers, were butchered in the lump; afterwards, under the process of the Accusers, they perished piece-meal, but were incessantly perishing a , often a great many at a time. Every Law Edition: current; Page: [143]of the old free State, and every man who loved his Country and her Laws, were repugnant to the reigning Tyranny; hence as the Republic was swallowed up in the Sovereignty of the Cæsars, all her laws were made to center in that of Majesty, and all men who adhered or were suspected to adhere to the ancient Constitution, were either destroyed by this new Law (rather an old Law turned into a new snare) or at the mercy of its Guardians and Accusers. And all this new violence was committed under old names and constitutions b ; so that the Commonwealth was made to cut her own throat; just as cruel and ambitious men justify Persecution and Oppression by the authority of the Gospel, which abhors it. The Church of Rome calls every thing that displeases her, Heresy and Blasphemy; this is the Lex Majestatis of some Churchmen, and by cruelties committed under that name they have more than vied with the Nero’s and Domitian’s. Thus, after a solemn murder committed by the Senate, to gratify Tiberius, he sent them a Letter of thanks, for punishing a person who was an enemy to the Commonwealth; as if the Republic had been then subsisting and vindicating her own wrongs.

The Accusers were the agents and tools of Tyranny, and by the Tyrants upheld and animated with open countenance and high rewards; their business was to hunt down and destroy every man signal for blood, or wealth, or dignity, or virtue; because all such men were obnoxious to imperial Jealousy and Displeasure. Had a noble Roman sustained public Offices? he was a dangerous man; had another refused to bear them? he was equally dangerous; and for public Offices either exercised or declined, he was sure to be attacked as a criminal of State; Edition: current; Page: [144]and if he were conspicuous for any notable ability or virtue, his doom was inevitable c . Valerius Asiaticus perished because he had delightful Gardens, which tempted the avidity of Messalina; as did Statilius Taurus, for the same reason, by the avarice and subornation of Agrippina; so did Sextus Marius for his immense Wealth and gold Mines, under Tiberius. This gives one an idea of the terrible spirit of the Emperors as well as of the Accusers; how much the former feared and hated, and how fast they destroyed every thing that was noble, good, or amiable amongst men; and what a pestilent employment was that of an Accuser! Was it any wonder that to carry on so detestable a trade, they were to be tempted with lucrative earnings? In truth, their recompences were so public and ample, that they were detested not more for their Iniquities than for the Wages of their Iniquities.

These Pests of Rome were, for being so, frequently raised to the highest Offices in the Roman State; and that Imperial City, the Mistress of the Earth, saw her public Dignities, those of the Pontificate, and of the Consulship, bestowed as spoils upon Parricides for spilling her best blood, and tearing her vitals. With the Prince their credit was high, as their merit was infamous; some were preferred to be Governors of the Provinces, others taken to be his chief Confidents and Counsellors in the Palace. And thus, vested with credit and sway, exerting all their terrors, and pursuing their hate, they controuled and confounded all things d . After the tragical Death of Libo Drusus, procured by execrable Artifices, Falshoods, Horrors and wrested Laws, Edition: current; Page: [145]all the substance of that noble Patrician was divided amongst his Accusers; and such of them as were Senators were created Prætors, even without the regular method of election. The four Senators who ensnared Titius Sabinus, by trapanning, lurkking, feigned friendship, and by a series of treachery the most infamous and cruel that could be practised amongst men, and afterwards accused him, engaged in all this meritorious villainy purely to gain the Consulship, to which there was no possible access but through Sejanus, nor without villainy was the favour of Sejanus to be sought or purchased.

But besides rewarding of the Accusers out of the fortune of the Accused, (for where they had not all, they still went shares with his children) they had frequently excessive sums out of the public Treasury; Capito Cossutianus had near a hundred and thirty thousand Crowns, for accusing Thrasea Petus; Eprius Marcellus had as much, for the same good service; for Nero, after he had long wallowed in the blood of eminent men, and butchered them without number, was in hopes by the murder of Thrasea and Soranus, to extirpate Virtue, name and essence, from the face of the earth. Ostorius Sabinus, the Accuser of Soranus, had indeed a less reward in money, that of thirty thousand Crowns; but the reward was enhanced by the ornaments of the Quæstorship presented with it. “These Incendiaries were animated, and such crying calamities to the public were excited by the Minions of the Court, who, as it were, sounded the Trumpet to Arraignments and Confiscations; on purpose, that out of the fortunes of the condemned they might raise or increase their own;” says Am. Marcellinus. Aquilius Regulus, an upstart and a mischievous Accuser under Nero, was distinguished with two Consulships, and the dignity of Pontiff; Edition: current; Page: [146]and had premiums in money to the value of more than two hundred thousand Crowns; as if he had been burying the Commonwealth, and for this merit had afterwards gathered her spoils, says Tacitus.

Sect. II.: The traiterous Methods taken to circumvent and convict Innocence. The spirit of accusing how common, the dread of it how universal; and the misery of the Times.

AS upon these bloody occasions, it was necessary to find or feign some crime; so any crime served the turn, as I have largely shewn; witnesses also must be had; but any witnesses were good witnesses; and where they did not offer themselves, they were bought with money, or frightened with the torture. Slaves were suborned against the life of their Lords; clients and freedmen against their Patrons; and he who had no enemy, was betrayed and undone by his friends e . Now, because, by the old Roman laws, slaves could not be witnesses against their masters, the crafty Tiberius found a trick to evade that law without seeming to violate it; he contrived to have the slaves upon such occasion sold; and then they might be evidence against their late Lord. This perfidious subtilty was begun by Augustus, as is largely shewn by Dion Cassius. Nay, when a man had no other to accuse him, he was accused by his own son. Dreadful times! even, all rewards and incitements apart, fear for themselves made men treacherous to others; falshood and cruelty reigned uncontrouled. If you would please the Prince, you must gratify his bloody spirit; to do that, you must offer victims and exercise the trade Edition: current; Page: [147]of accusing; if you were ill with him, no man, no innocence could protect you; and to be well with him, you must make all other men detest you. To make your own fortune you must ruin that of others, and shed blood to get money.

To this vile employment men of the highest Quality descended, and those of the first note for Eloquence and Civil Accomplishments; such was Cotta Messalinus, a man nobly born, but the foremost in every sanguinary motion; such was Publius Dolabella, who sprung from Ancestors the most illustrious, yet debased his Nobility, and engaged in the occupation of an Accuser, even against those of his own blood. When men of such Quality set such example, what wonder if numbers followed it? Many pursued it for money; others because they would not become obnoxious by appearing slack. The question was not about right or wrong, Law or Magistracy; but how to please and humour, to satiate the Emperor, and to escape his suspicion and fury. It was the plea of the Accusers afterward, when they were brought to answer for their crimes, that they were obliged by the Emperors, or their wives, to undertake and prosecute accusations: this Suilius pleaded, and urged the imperious orders of Messalina. Nay, men of figure were sometimes called upon by the Emperor in person to undertake Accusations. This, says Tacitus, was one of the most baneful and deadly evils of those times, that the first Lords of the Senate degraded themselves to the office of the vilest Informers; some impudently in the face of the sun; others in the dark ways of treachery; no distinction of kindred from strangers, of friends from such as were unknown; none between things lately transacted, and such as were covered by a course of years in oblivion; for words spoken in the Forum, spoken at an entertainment, and about what subject soever Edition: current; Page: [148]spoken, the speaker was accused; every one hastening to be foremost in the accusation, and to prevent his fellows; some for their own safety, many, as it were, struck with the contagion, and smitten with the disease of accusing.

This universal treachery begot apprehension in all men equally universal. When villainy was thus rewarded, or thus necessary, and thus every-where practised by high and low, every man was fearful of finding every man a villain. Hence the mournful anguish and terror which seized the City; people were afraid to converse, nay, afraid to meet; they distrusted all alike, their acquaintance as well as the unknown; even things mute and inanimate were dreaded; and roofs and walls created terror and circumspection; nay, they were apprehensive that guilt might be found in these their apprehensions, and thence came to dread this very thing, that they had shewn dread f .

Sect. III.: Plots feigned or true, an ample field for Accusations and Cruelty; and upon what miserable Evidence Executions were decreed.

BUT the best market for Accusations, and the best opportunity for the Emperor to exert Tyranny, and consume men, was the detection of any Conspiracy forged or real. How prodigious and merciless was the slaughter committed by Constantius after the death of Magnentius, and by his bloody instrument Paulus, sirnamed Catena from his dexterity in calumny and accusations! Thus too, upon the detection of the designs of Sejanus against Tiberius, who at one time, for a course of years, had destroyed every man that Edition: current; Page: [149]was obnoxious to this execrable Favourite of his, and afterwards destroyed every man who had been well with his Favourite; thus when those of Piso against Nero came to be discovered, the whole business of the State was that of accusing, imprisoning and executing. Rome was dyed, deformed, and filled with blood, and death, and funerals; and as many as were hated, or disliked, or worth destroying upon any account, were sure to have been Conspirators, and to be doomed to the pains annexed to Conspiracy. Tiberius caused a general slaughter to be made of all that were in prison, under accusation of intelligence with Sejanus. Any thing upon earth, the lightest, the most fortuitous and foolish thing, served for proof of such intelligence. Pomponius Secundus was arraigned of Treason, for that there were some signs (but not shewn by him neither) of friendship between him and Aetius Gallus, who was a friend to Sejanus, who was a Traytor. Gallus, upon the execution of Sejanus, had retired into the Gardens of Pomponius: this was all; yet this was the doughty argument used by his Accuser, for proving this worthy and accomplished man a Traytor, one who had violated Majesty. Yet his Accuser Considius was a man considerable enough to have been Prætor: it was thus, I suppose, he shewed how well he deserved Imperial Favour, and one of the highest Dignities in the State.

The Emperor Constantius was as cruel and as credulous: with him it was death to be accused, and every Accusation, however doubtful, or false, or even whispered, was convincing proof of guilt; nay, the least rumour, however groundless, the smallest hint, however spiteful, created Treason and death without redemption; and by no better proof men of the first quality and merit were doomed to confiscation, or banishment, or execution. The Edition: current; Page: [150]bare saying that such a one was in the Conspiracy, or a friend to the Conspirators, was conviction in abundance for taking away Estates and Lives. Nero, whose chief and only purpose was to afflict and destroy, created guilt wheresoever he found distaste. His own hatred or fear was crime enough, and reason sufficient to destroy the object. Some were sacrificed without being once accused, or named; some punished ere they knew they were accused; and the least defamation was full conviction. Nothing was more common than to charge any great man, doomed beforehand to destruction, with designs against the State. This was the charge upon Libo Drusus. All the guilt that could be proved upon him, though to prove it, and indeed to create it, the most villainous arts were used, was, that he had consulted the Fortune-tellers, and dealt in Charms. This was conspiring against the State, it was Treason; and because the Romans were much addicted to such sort of Superstition, this became a very convenient Treason, and very fertile; yet Tiberius himself was, as much as any, addicted to Astrology. In the accusations particularly against great Ladies, who for blood, or wealth, or beauty, merited Imperial Wrath, it was a constant article, that they had dealt with the Chaldeans, or practised the rites of Magic: and for this many great Ladies were doomed to death g .

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Sect. IV.: What ridiculous Causes produced capital Guilt. The spirit of the Emperor Constantius; with somewhat of his Father Constantine.

THIS humour of consulting the Astrologers, still encreasing with Superstition and Tyranny, administered an inexhaustible fund of crimes and accusations: the noise of a Mouse in a wall, or the sight of a Weasel, became matters of omen and consultation, and consequently matters of Treason and Blood: so did the use of an old Woman’s Charm for aches: so did the counting the Vowels upon one’s Fingers, as a remedy against the Colic: so did the wearing of an Amulet for an Ague: so did the casual dropping of any Word or Joke, that bore any analogy to the Empire, or the Emperor’s name, or to any matter of State and Power: so did the frequenting of Sepulchres, and carrying away the bones or habiliments of the dead: so did any Dream dreamt about any such subject, or construed to be so dreamed.

Under Constantius there was one Mercurius, a Persian, who was a favourite of the Emperor, and a spy for Dreams; insomuch that he had the title of Somniorum comes. This blessed instrument, a fellow of a malicious spirit, and fawning behaviour, used to creep into all companies and banquets, to fish out Dreams from particulars; and whatever he there learned of this kind, after he had, with all his invention, dressed it up in ugly and formidable colours, he carried instantly to the Emperor, whose ears were ever open wide to such mischievous infusions; and this Dreaming, thus represented, was a crime to be expiated only by the blood of the Criminal, I should say, Dreamer, and so a terrible process was formed. This terror spread so much, Edition: current; Page: [152]that people, far from telling their Dreams, durst scarce own that they slept: nay, it was lamented by some, that they had not been born upon Mount Atlas, where, according to tradition, people never dream.

To complain too of the badness of the times, was high Treason; for this was arraigning the Government, and punished capitally. But Death itself, however unjust, was not always the most formidable woe. The accused were often not allowed the benefit of Death, till they were first barbarously racked and mangled by torture; and to gratify the inhuman Vengeance of the Prince, their Agonies were continued as long as life could continue under them h . This is testified by Ammianus Marcellinus of Constantius the second Christian Emperor, more cruel than Nero and Caligula; a consideration which confirms what I have said before, that where the Government is bad, even the best Religion can do little good. Constantius was a Christian, and even zealous in Church Matters, and Religious Disputes, and by fostering them did miserably afflict Christianity and the Empire. But he was so far from being improved or bettered by this zeal, that the most cruel Tyrants that went before him, such monsters as Caligula, Domitian, and Commodus, were but babes to him in cruelty i .

I wish much better things could be boasted of his Father, the first Emperor who embraced Christianity, and stiled Constantine the great. All the Princes, even the persecuting Princes who went before him, hurt not Religion so much as he did; Edition: current; Page: [153]by blending it unnaturally with Politics and Power, by laying the foundations of a spiritual Tyranny, and enabling the Bishop of Rome, and other great Prelates, to exert the domineering spirit, which before they had but ill concealed; a spirit which has almost extinguished that of the Gospel. In his Civil Administration, he was rapacious, profuse, and oppressive; and in his Family barbarous and sanguinary; however his partial and flattering Historian, Eusebius, has extolled him, and concealed the iniquities of his Reign. But, in barbarity, and the excesses of Power, his son and Successor Constantius exceeded him. What just reason had Ammianus to say, that under the lying pretence of guarding Imperial Majesty, numerous and horrible were the butcheries then committed k !

Sect. V.: The black and general carnage made under Constantius, by his bloody Minister Paulus Catena, for certain Acts of Superstition and Curiosity.

CONSTANTIUS surrendered at one time a great part of the Roman World to the merciless hands of Accusers, Torturers and Executioners; and certain causes, in themselves frivolous and contemptible, but magnified with the swelling imputation of Majesty violated, produced all the uproar and calamity attending a great Civil War. The trumpets sounded to try and slay l .

An Egyptian Deity, named Besa, was noted for uttering Oracles, and telling fortunes, and thence Edition: current; Page: [154]much frequented, adored and consulted by all the Countries round about. As many consulted him in person, others did it in writing: this occasioned, that several of the billets thus sent, continued in the Temple after the answer was returned. Some of these were maliciously transmitted to the Emperor, a Prince of a poor spirit, suspicious, and bitter. He now waxed fierce and wrathful, and instantly dispatched his execrable instrument, Paulus Catena, into the East, armed with Powers equal to those given to some famous Captain for carrying on a mighty war. Paulus was authorized to hear and determine discretionally, and proceeded to his charge, breathing nothing but rage, and bloody zeal. Universal accusation and calumny being thus licensed and encouraged, numbers of all degrees were dragged from far and near, as it were, out of the several quarters of the world, to this barbarous Tribunal, and exposed to the mercy of a butcher, who only pursued blood and prey. Some came with their joints excoriated with fetters, others crushed and spent in carts made for carrying criminals; no distinction made between the noble and vulgar. The process was long and tragical; in short, confiscations, exiles, tortures worse than death, death under tedious torments, and every evil painful or destructive to human nature, was there exerted and suffered. As for Paulus, the lives, and fortunes, and fate of multitudes depended upon his nod, a man skilled in the Arts of cruelty, aad openly professing them; a savage who made a market of the rack and the wheel; one, fed, as it were, with human carcasses mangled, and enriched by butchery and rapine; a fellow who avowed the trade of accusing and killing, and studied to ensnare and devour innocence, lives, and property. This was the man in high favour and trust under the pious Constantius. It will be a relief to the Reader to know that this monster, Edition: current; Page: [155]bloated with blood and crimes, was burnt alive under Julian, a Prince of very different parts and spirit.

Sect. VI.: The Ravages of the Accusers continued; their Credit with the Emperors; yet generally meet their Fate. The Falsehood of these Princes. The melancholy State of those Times.

THE Reigns of these following Princes, Constantius, Constans, Gallus, Valentinian, Valens, were spent in a continual war upon their people, under colour of their Majesties being violated.

Crying and tragical were the ravages committed at Rome by that bloody man Maximinus, where, under pretence of Majesty violated, poisonings, and acts of lewdness, some few real, more imputed, were used as a stale for killing, torturing, and destroying. Every man, or woman, that was obnoxious to him or the Accusers, was put to death; and to private malice or rapaciousness a sea of Roman blood was spilt. I think it was this Maximinus, who persuaded certain persons accused to confess and discover others, and in that case promised they should undergo no punishment either by sword or fire. They did so, trusting to his faith, and confessed crimes never committed; he then, for a salvo, doomed them to die under leaden hammers. He was executed himself under Gratian.

Against the defence of innocence accused, against the most evident truth and justice, and all honest information, the ears of the Emperor were eternally shut; but calumny whispered by any malighant, had equal weight with real crimes proved by authentic witnesses; says Ammianus. Falsehood Edition: current; Page: [156]and flattery, envy and rapaciousness passed for evidence; justice was converted into cruelty, and judgment into rage; the Tribunals erected for justice, and preservation of life and property, were become shambles, and what had the names of pains and penalties, was in truth robbery and assassination.

As there was never any lack of Accusers, there was none of Criminals; and the accused, the more they were destroyed, the faster they multiplied; like witches in former days, daily executed, and daily increasing. They were the food and revenue of the Accusers, who while they could speak and lie, could never want occupation or wages, as long as there were Tyrants and men. Marcellus was charged with having uttered disaffected words concerning Tiberius, and the Accuser collecting every thing which was detestable in the manners of that Prince, alledged the same as the imputations of the accused. A large field for accusations, and well cultivated by the Accusers! you could say nothing of these Emperors that was true, but what was Treason; such bloody monsters were they all! and the worst you could have said being actually true, you were easily believed to have actually said it. What a blessed lot it must have been to have lived in those Reigns, under monsters unchained, and rogues let loose; when virtue and property were proscribed, villains caressed and guarded!

The persons of Accusers came to be considered as sacred and inviolable; the more they were detested by the public, the more they were protected by the Emperor; and in proportion as they merited death and ignominy, had countenance and preferment. Their vilest forgeries, convicted and owned, against the lives and fortunes of the greatest men, drew down no doom or penalty upon them. The crimes charged upon Fonteius, late Proconsul of Asia, by Serenus, were proved to have been Edition: current; Page: [157]by him forged; yet he escaped punishment. Nay, the more the man was abhorred by all men, the more Tiberius considered and protected him. This Serenus was a villain of exalted merit; he had falsly accused his own father of Treason, an old man, and already in exile: but Tiberius owed him a spite, and the son studied to oblige Tiberius, who had been offended with the elder Serenus for once upbraiding him with some wicked service unrewarded; nor had an interval of eight years pacified the Prince. Yet it generally so happened, that their reign was but temporary; first or last most of them found the genuine wages of their fraud and iniquity, and suffered the same doom which they had made others suffer; a doom much more bitter, as it was just, accompanied also with universal hatred of their persons, and with a guilty and upbraiding conscience. This was the fate of Suilius, Cassius Severus, and others.

Now as it was the custom, to find high Treason in harmless words, impertment vanities, and even in ridiculous follies, deserving rather pity than punishment, such as were those charged upon Libo; so it was the purpose and policy of the Emperor never to prevent any guilt of this kind: on the contrary, he was glad of guilt, and when he knew it was begun, let it run on, till it was ripe, and evidence and Accusers were ready. Tiberius knew that Libo dealt with the Astrologers, with every thing done or said by him; yet at no time had he caressed Libo more, than at the time when he was meditating his destruction. He preferred him to the Prætorship; he entertained him at his table; shewed no strangeness in his countenance, no resentment in his words; so deeply had he smothered his vengeance! and when he might have restrained all the dangerous Speeches and Practices of Libo, he chose rather to permit them, in order to punish him for them. Edition: current; Page: [158]The crafty Tyrant did not only lull asleep his destined victim by these excessive civilities; but meant by them to deceive the world, as if Libo’s crimes were a surprize upon him, at a juncture when he would seem to have meant all kindness to Libo. But he was mistaken, and his dissimulation only served to heighten the opinion of his malice; for craft discovered is worse than folly, as folly never creates hatred. Cunning is only then complete, when it cannot be detected, which seldom happens. Nero caressed and flattered Seneca, while he was devising all methods to destroy him. When he meant to murder his mother, never was there such a scene of false fondness as that which he played. He was formed by nature, says Tacitus, and by habit nurtured, to hide his hate under insidious blandishments. Domitian used to treat with the utmost good humour and tenderness such as he intended to murder; nor was there any warning or interval between his caressing you and delivering you to the Executioner; nor a more certain sign that a tragical doom awaited you, than the Prince’s gentle behaviour towards you. Well might Suetonius say, that his cruelty was not only excessive, but sly, and instantaneous.

Now under such a torrent of Accusations, under Laws perverted, Informers busy, employed, protected and rewarded, when all things were crimes, and all men were feared, nay, when fear itself was a crime, (for when Caligula murdered his brother, he gave it for a reason, that the youth was afraid of being murdered) when servants and neighbours, nay, acquaintance and kindred, were all justly to be suspected; we need not admire that all offices of friendship and compassion were suspended amongst men, and compassion itself, as it were, extinguished. When Libo Drusus, so often already mentioned, upon his arraignment for Treason, went in mourning Edition: current; Page: [159]from house to house to sollicit the interposition of his relations (as all the great families in Rome were so) and to pray their aid, when his life and all was at stake; they all declined it to a man, each alledging a reason of his own, but every one in reality from the same cause, namely, their fear of the Emperor m .

People must not only shew no sorrow or sympathy for their murdered relations, but they must testify joy, unless they had a mind to be murdered themselves; as under Nero, many, whose nearest relations had been murdered by him, repaired to the Temples with thanksgiving and offerings, and when the City was filled with corps, so was the Capitol with victims. In that mighty carnage made by Tiberius of the friends and followers of Sejanus at once; when the pavements were covered with single carcasses, or filled with carcasses in piles, those of every sex and age, many that were noble, many that were mean, all cast abroad promiscuously; neither their acquaintance nor kindred were allowed to approach them, or to bewail them, or even at last to behold them. About the coarses spies were placed, to watch countenances, and the signs of sorrow: and when, after they became putrified and noisome, and were thrown into the Tiber, whether they floated in the stream, or were cast upon the banks, none would touch them, none durst bury or burn them. The force of Fear had cut off all the commerce and offices of Humanity; and the more Tyranny raged, the more human compassion was extinguished n . Even the outrageous Caligula had so well learned to hide his heart, that when by Edition: current; Page: [160]the cruelty of Tiberius, his mother and both his brothers were condemned and banished, not a word escaped him; nor a groan; though all arts were used to draw words and resentment from him. Octavia too, the wife of Nero, when her little innocent brother was murdered before her face, by the direction of the Tyrant her husband, had even then learned, young as she was, to smother all symptoms of tenderness and sorrow, and every affection of the soul; nay, Agrippina, with all her courage and high spirit, laboured to hide her surprize and dread, and every other emotion, upon that occasion.

Sect. VII.: The increase of Tyranny. Innocence and Guilt not measured by the Law, but by the Emperor’s Pleasure and Malice.

ONE would think that Tyranny had by this time gone as far as it could go, and that after this, human cruelty and terrors could be strained no higher. But this is a mistake, Flatterers and Accusers were ingenious villains, and Tyranny is a monster never glutted; it is still craving for new butchery and victims; its purveyors therefore are ever studying to humour and pamper it o . Who could have imagined any thing upon earth more intensely cruel than Tiberius? yet his Successors exceeded him and one another in cruelties, for number and quality; and Domitian committed such as had escaped even the preceding monsters. Hence Tacitus says; “As our fore-fathers had seen the ultimate point and last efforts of public Liberty; it was reserved to us of this generation to behold the utmost weight and severity of public Bondage; since by the terrors of State Inquisitors, Edition: current; Page: [161]we were even bereft of the common intercourse of Civil Life, that of discoursing ourselves, and of listening to the discourse of others:” he adds, “we should have also lost the use of memory, as well as the habit of speaking, had it been equally in our power to forget as to be silent.”

The trial of persons for Treason went on generally in the old form, but in effect, was all resolvable into the breast and good pleasure of the Prince. According to hints from him, persons were condemned or acquitted; sometimes by his interposing the Tribunitial Power, they were not admitted to be accused; sometimes Treason was found in one man’s words and actions, which in another were not allowed to be criminal. Thus men were sentenced, or absolved, or not accused, not according to their guilt or innocence, but to their degree of grace or dislike with the Emperor, who had the Prerogative to coin guilt and innocence, and invert one into the other, as he pleased. Thus Tiberius pursued Vestilius to death, his brother’s antient friend and his own, for suspicion of having lampooned his Nephew Caligula; but would not allow Cotta Messalinus to be a criminal for the same offence and for many more. But Cotta had merit, he was always foremost in every bloody Counsel; all his wickedness and crimes were so many services, and so much merit. In those days there was no sure guilt but that of worth and of virtue, and innocence; hence the security of all men egregiously mischievous. The known cruelty of the Prince, was no terror to those who took care to escape it, by the vileness of their lives; especially if they were active to feed his cruelty by noble sacrifices; like Haterius Agrippa, who meditated in the midst of his cups and harlots the destruction of illustrious men. The worst and Edition: current; Page: [162]vilest men in the Empire, became the securest, and often the highest, by destroying the best.

Sect. VIII.: What Tacitus means by Instrumenta regni.

BESIDES the Accusers, who were the Imperial Bloodhounds, to hunt men down for words, conjectures, signs, and appearances, by ridiculous pleas, forced constructions, and wrested Laws; the Emperors had other pestilent tools called by Tacitus Instrumenta regni, the Instruments of Imperial Rule. These were the Poisoners and Assassins. When there was no room or pretence to accuse a person signal for worth or opulence, or on any account obnoxious, and thence fit to be destroyed; or when it was unsafe to accuse him; recourse was had to a dose or dagger. Such were P. Celer, and Ælius the Freedman, they who poisoned Julius Silanus, by the appointment of Agrippina: such was Anicetus, who murdered Nero’s Mother, by the direction of her son: such was Locusta, who administred the poison to Claudius, a woman famous for many feats in poisoning, and long retained for this talent, amongst the implements of Court; it was she who prepared this poison as well as that which destroyed young Britannicus: such was Xenophon, Physician to Claudius; one who helped to dispatch his master: such were they who by the procurement of Livia, made away the descendants of Augustus. After the assassination of Caligula, in his apartment was found a chest filled with all sorts of poisons, so rapid, that when they were thrown into the sea, they proved baneful to the fish; and numbers were by the tide cast dead upon the shore. Such also were the Tribunes and Centurions, and even the Captain of the Prætorian Guards; who Edition: current; Page: [163]whenever they were ordered to seize and kill, never failed to obey, without any reason but the word of command. Thus Posthumus Agrippa was dispatched by a Centurion under Tiberius: thus Gerelanus the Tribune, was, at the head of a band of soldiers, by Nero employed to see the execution of Vestinus the Consul, a man charged with no guilt; but Nero, who hated and feared him, having neither crime nor accuser against him, and being therefore unable to assume even the false guise of a Judge, betook himself to the violence of a Tyrant.

In truth, the whole body of Prætorian Guards were kept by these Tyrants as their Assassins, to murder for them, or to secure others who did. The Turk too has his Mutes and Poisoners in the Seraglio, as well as soldiers, to execute his fury secretly, or openly. Lewis the eleventh entertained other secret Ruffians to stab and drown, besides his trusty murderer the Provost Tristan. Queen Katherine and her son Charles the Ninth, kept an Assassin, to dispatch privately such men of rank as they could find no other means to destroy; and as dark as the proceedings in the Bastile are kept, it is known what helps have been administered to the miserable prisoners there, to get rid of life, besides that of nature. Under the Reign of Lewis the fourteenth the trade of poisoning was brought to great perfection; and was suspected, with too much appearance, to have been part of the Politics of some French Ministers, as well as the bane of others.

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Sect. IX.: How much these Emperors hated, and how fast they destroyed all great and worthy Men. Their dread of every Man for any Reason.

THE destruction of every man who was great or good, was so common and almost certain in those tragical Reigns, that Tacitus reckons as a wonder the natural death of L. Piso, chief Pontiff p . Eminent men, and eminent merit, are the dread of Tyrants. That merit and those talents which, during the old Republic, would have certainly recommended a man to public Favour and public Honours, did afterwards expose him as certainly, to Imperial jealousy and persecution, generally to ruin and death; and those pestilent Accusers, Instruments of public Servitude, the sons of rapine and blood, who were now the men of fashion and favour, and cloathed with the spoils of their Country, for afflicting and mangling her, and devouring her vitals, would have been then treated as public Enemies and Beasts of prey, and doomed to the pains of Murder and Treason, with universal consent and abhorrence.

Such a barbarous and unnatural inversion of all Order, Law, and Righteousness, accompanied the Sovereignty of the Cæsars. Augustus, reckoned the best and wisest of them, though he affected to love and countenance men of parts and accomplishments, yet limited his favours to such of them as were devoted to Flattery and the Usurpation. Hence the public Honours conferred by him upon Ateius Capito, a new man, one of signal Abilities, but a notorious Flatterer; nay, the Emperor Edition: current; Page: [165]raised him in opposition to Antistius Labeo, one who excelled in the same acquirements; one who never departed from a laudable freedom of speech and spirit, and thence more applauded than the other, by the public voice: whereas, the suppleness and submission of Capito rendered him more acceptable to those who bore rule. The latter by this merit gained the dignity of Consul; the other, for having too much, was never suffered to rise higher than that of Prætor. How much must the spirit of Imperial Jealousy encrease afterwards?

Every thing gave these Tyrants fear and offence. Was a man nobly born and popular? He withdrew the affections of the People, rivalled the Prince, and threatened a Civil War q . Was he akin to Augustus? He had his eye upon the Sovereignty r . Had he a reputation for Arms? He was a living terror to the Prince s . Was a great man afraid of popularity, and lived retired? He gained fame by shunning it, and still was an eyesore t ; and his best fate was to leave his Country u ; but where the exile was a considerable man, the executioner generally followed. Was he virtuous, and his life and morals exact? He was another Brutus, and by the purity of his manners, upbraided the vitious behaviour of the Emperor w . Was a man sad? It was because the administration prospered x . Edition: current; Page: [166]Did he indulge himself in gayety and feasting? It was because the Emperor was ill, and his end thought to be near y . Was he rich? He was too wealthy for a subject, and great wealth in private hands boded ill to Princes z . Was he poor? He was thence the more enterprizing and desperate a . Was he a dull man, and unactive; He only put on the guise of stupidity and sloth, till he found room for some bloody purpose b . Or had he a different character, and was a lively and active man? Then it was plain he did not so much as feign a desire of private life and recess, but avowed a bustling Republican Spirit, and to be meddling with the State c . Did he live in pomp and magnificence? He studied to overshadow the Emperor in seats and grandeur d . Was he accomplished in science, a Philosopher, or master of Eloquence, and thence esteemed? The lustre of his Fame gave umbrage to the Prince e .

In short, no man could possess any advantage or quality that rendered him acceptable to God or man, a blessing to his Country, to his friends, or to himself, but such quality and advantage was sure to Edition: current; Page: [167]awaken the jealousy and vengeance of these Tyrants, and procure his doom f .

Sect. X.: Reflections upon the Spirit of a Tyrant. With what Wantonness the Roman Emperors shed the blood of the Roman People. The blindness of such as assisted the Usurpation of Cæsar and Augustus.

HOW miserable must be the reflections of a Tyrant, if he has any reflections, that numbers must be wretched (for what wretchedness is not produced by Tyranny?) that he may make a hideous figure, unsafe and detested? Every step he takes for his grandeur and security, renders him more contemptible or abhorred, and therefore more insecure; and the bloody end of most, abundantly shews, that numerous Guards and Armies are so far from secureing him, that from them his greatest dread accrues. What a curse it is upon a thinking Being, to consider himself as an obstacle to every thing lovely and desirable amongst men: to the Virtue, Liberty and Happiness of all men, to his own peace and stability, to his own innocence and true glory: that for every chain he puts upon his People, he multiplies terrors and contempt upon his own head; and having forfeited their affections, and living in distrust of those whom he ought chiefly to confide in, relies for his life upon hirelings, the sons of vice and idleness, or forced from their honest labour to be made so, and often picked out of streets and gaols? He dreads every man who is great and brave; and one who fights for him, conquers for him, and saves him, does but expose himself to jealousy, indignity and martyrdom. His own slaves, spiritless and cowardly, Edition: current; Page: [168]cannot serve him, and a man truly valiant is undone by serving him. The people are apt to admire and magnify military virtue, and thence the Tyrant hates and dreads such as have it. Charles the fifth held it a greater honour, to be Count of Catalonia, than King of the Romans: he had reason; the Catalans were free men and valiant; the Romans poor monk-ridden slaves.

But I shall find another place in the course of these Observations to discourse more sully of Armies and Conquests: I shall here only observe with what wantonness these Tyrants shed the blood of Roman Citizens; Citizens whose lives were once so valuable, fenced and secured by Laws so numerous, so sacred, and strong; lives so precious that nothing against the life and fortune of the meanest Roman could be determined, but by the Romans in general, assembled in Centuries. These Romans who, while free, became the masters of mankind, were, by losing their Liberty, become daily victims to their own domestic Traitors, and miserable Traitors they were; to a Claudius, a Caligula, a Nero. By the ancient Constitution and Laws of Rome, these Usurpers were the only persons liable to be put to death, without process, or form, or penalty. See the Lex Valeria in Livy, and Cicero Pro domo sua.

Had such as were Champions for the exaltation of Cæsar and Augustus, foreseen what their race and descendants were to suffer under the Successors of these Usurpers, would it not have quenched their zeal, would it not have struck them with horror? Had they foreseen their offspring stooping and groaning under a beastly bondage, not to the Emperor only, but to his slaves and strumpets; living a precarious life at the mercy of sycophants; under continual terrors of the Accusers, or themselves exercising the execrable occupation of such; some endangered Edition: current; Page: [169]by the lustre of their name; some by that of their virtue and capacity, others from that of their wealth; many become Pimps, Pathics, and Parasites to the Prince; several, upon his authority, prostituting their persons and quality upon the public Stage; numbers doomed to exile upon desolate rocks and islands; numbers slain outright, their carcases exposed and denied the privilege of burial, their fortunes seized from their families; and all of them liable to the like tragical fate; their wives withal daily exposed to the lust of the Tyrant, and afterwards made the subject of his Imperial Sport and Drollery, even before their injured and blushing husbands, nay, prostituted in the Palace as in the public Stews, and such as passed by invited in to lie with these illustrious Ladies, as with common harlots, for money.

Had the Partizans of Usurpation foreseen these woful consequences to their families from it, would it not have changed their hearts and their conduct? Yet what was easier to be foreseen than the fury and ravages of a madman or fool unlimited, where chance, and not law, directed the blind Succession; as did blind will, and not reason, the Administration? But with the heat of party and present impulse, cool reflection and foresight are incompatible: it scarce ever happens, that, for future considerations, however wise, the instant passion, however foolish, is smothered. The Adherents of Cæsar and Augustus had an immediate view of greatness, and would not disturb so pleasing an imagination by anxious care or fear for things future. All the world goes well with those that are well; and before men can be brought to believe prophecies of misery, they must begin to feel it. What a child is Man! what a name is Reason! The most frequent use we make of it, is to reason ourselves out of it, and from it to borrow arms against itself: just as we have seen Edition: current; Page: [170]Laws quoted to vindicate the subversion of Law, and the Holy Gospel of Peace and Love urged in defence of Persecution and Enmity.

Sect. XI.: Why under such Tyrants, the Senate continued to subsist.

IT may be inquired why Tyrants so jealous and precipitate, did not abolish the Senate; and it was once the purpose of Caligula, as it was afterwards that of Nero, to have murdered all the Senators: but in truth it would have been an enterprize of infinite difficulty and danger, to have attempted the suppression of that body. It is incredible what stubbornness and force there is in established Names, Customs and Forms, which often are harder to destroy than realities and substances; and signs and titles frequently remain, when the things signified and denominated by them are gone. Thus Popery has extirpated Christianity, and is called Christianity; and Evangelical Humility and Forbearance are preached and extolled in the midst of Pride and Flames.

As the Popes pretend to derive all power from the Gospel, which they pervert and suppress, so did the other Roman Tyrants theirs from the Senate; as if the ancient free State had still subsisted, and to have destroyed the Senate, would have been to have abrogated their own title to Sovereignty. They must likewise have destroyed the Consulship, which was still reckoned summum Imperium, the supreme Magistracy: with the Office of Prætor, and every Office, great and small, in the State, with the title and stile of every Law of Rome, and every Tribunal of Justice there: for, every Law and every Office depended upon the Senate, or upon the Senate and People. They must have abolished Learning, History, Records, all Process and Memory; Edition: current; Page: [171]nay, the very Military Titles, and Laws of War and Negotiation; those about the Colonies and Provinces, Customs and Trade; and have introduced absolute Oblivion, a new Language, and a new Creation.

Now what Power, what Genius upon earth, was equal to such a prodigious design, that of vacating at once regulations and usages so infinitely numerous, so long established, become a great part of the public Language, grown, as it were, to the minds and memories of men, and essential to Speech and Conversation, as well as to business and protection; and then to supply such an immense void, with Ordinances, Offices, Terms and manner of Process, so as to answer all the ends of Society in so vast an Empire? This was not to be done, nor was it needful: they found their account sufficiently in breaking the Power and Spirit of the Senate, in reducing it to a skeleton and a name, and in exercising under that name all their own violences and exorbitances. The Senate and the People had a venerable sound, and served as a cloak for power when they themselves had none, and the Emperor had all g . The registering of Edicts by the Parliament of Paris is become a matter of form; but without that form, the Court, as uncontrouled as it is, does not care to execute an Edict. The Romans still preserved a veneration for their Senate and Magistrates, and the same was often found in the Armies; insomuch that as late as the Reign of Commodus, the soldiers were so enraged at the insolence of Perennis, his Favourite and Minister, for discharging from their military commands such as were Patricians and Senators, and for placing in their room others of Equestrian Rank, that they cut him in pieces.

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Time, however, with the continuance of Tyranny, and Barbarity its inseparable companion, cancelled by degrees the old names and forms, after the essence had been long cancelled; and introduced a cloud of offices and words, of rumbling sounds, and swelling titles, suitable to the genius of absolute Rule, and as different from the purity of the old Republican Language, as are Liberty and Politeness from grossness and bondage.

Sect. XII.: How the unrelenting Cruelty of the Emperors hastened the Dissolution of the Empire. The bad Reigns of Constantine and Constantius. The good Reign of Julian. The indiscreet behaviour of the Christians. Continued Tyranny; and end of the Empire.

TO resume once more the subject of Accusations and the abused Law of Majesty; They were cankers in the heart of the Empire, which at last hastened its Dissolution. The Emperors, to gratify their own cruelty, were continually wasting the public Strength by sacrifices noble and many; and, to satiate their avarice or that of their creatures, encouraged endless seizures and confiscations. This crying Oppression was by the Emperor Constantine, before mentioned, carried higher than any of the Pagan Emperors had ever carried it. Besides his own rapine, which was merciless and excessive, he glutted his Favourites and Grandees with the spoil and fortunes of others; as Marcellinus witnesses h . His son Constantius followed his example, and was a more consuming Tyrant than the Father. I have already said something of his Character and Reign, which was chiefly conducted Edition: current; Page: [173]by inhuman villains, whose heads and hands were eternally engaged in the plunder and blood of his People. Such were his Counsellors, such his Governors of Provinces, which were sucked and devoured to the bone, and might say with truth, what a noble Dalmatian once told Tiberius; “Instead of sending us Shepherds to protect our flocks, you send us Wolves to devour them.” How many Governors in all Countries have deserved to be hanged, before they reached their Governments, because they went with design to rob and oppress?

These depredations were restrained during the Reign of Julian, who had as much capacity, as many virtues and accomplishments, as could well adorn private life, or a crown: he was brave, generous, wise, and humane; a Hero, a Philosopher, a Politician, a Friend and Father to mankind. It is pity such an amiable Character should have any blots; his had two; he was superstitious even to weakness, and had conceived an aversion to the Christians altogether unsuitable to his remarkable candor and equity; an aversion which they themselves improved too much, by a behaviour unworthy of so great a Prince, much more unworthy of so meek a Religion. They indeed treated him with eminent spite and outrage, traduced him, libelled him, and even mobbed him. Nothing could be a sharper Satire upon them, for such brutish conduct, than the singular meekness with which he bore it. The truth is, the Christians were then strangely degenerated from the primitive peaceableness and purity, become licentious and turbulent to the last degree, and perpetually instigated by the arrogance and ambition of the Bishops, who were come to contend with arms as well as curses, for the possession of opulent Churches. It was not uncommon with these ambitious men, to affront and revile the Emperors to their faces, to publish Invectives against Edition: current; Page: [174]them, to break the public Peace and to raise frequent Tumults and Seditions. As they were the most complaisant Courtiers when pleased; so they were the most implacable Incendiaries when disgusted. All this was enough to alarm any Prince, and to awaken resentment in the most flegmatic. Moreover a great part of the wealth and revenue, which used to go towards the public Charge, particularly to defend the Frontiers against the Barbarians, was diverted and appropriated to maintain the grandeur and pomp of the great Prelates; sacerdotes specie religionis fortunas omnes effundebant, as Tacitus says, upon another occasion.

As some parts of the behaviour of that great Prince, one wise and good in most things, but mistaken and even unjust in others, chiefly towards the Christians, ought to be censured and condemned; the behaviour of the Christians towards him can never be justified. They insulted him intolerably, with all the excesses of bitterness and ill-breeding, while he lived, and slandered and blackened him shamefully when dead; as much as some of them basely flattered and extolled other Emperors, who, though complaisant and liberal to the Ecclesiastics, were consuming Tyrants.

It is the business of Truth and of true Religion, to give even enemies their due, and friends no more than their due. To give Julian his; if we lay aside his Religion, I doubt whether we can find upon record one Prince that excelled him, or three that equalled him. He is indeed a pattern to princes, in spite of the anger and obloquy of Writers who were apparently animated by a spirit then too common, a spirit altogether narrow, monkish, and vindictive; such a one as the charitable Religion of Jesus disclaims, and wants not. To his benevolent Gospel and Precepts I sincerely wish all men to conform; Edition: current; Page: [175]but fewer signs of such conformity, or rather greater signs of the want of it, have I no where seen, than in the Conduct, Discourses, and Writiengs of such as have railed at others for their religious sentiments, real or imputed. I wish too that a temper so barbarous and Antichristian had been entirely confined to the Days of that Emperor, whose Administration will for ever recommend him to all calm and impartial men, as an astonishing example of virtue and parts.

The Reign of Jovian, whose intention seems to have been honest and good, was but short, and followed by those of Valentinian and Valens; Princes exceeding furious, suspicious and sanguinary. Under them the old Accusations, Confiscations and Carnage were revived without mercy, and continued thenceforward, with few intervals, till the Roman Empire was quite overthrown. The people in every part of it being quite harrassed and consumed, finding no relaxation from Oppressors and Accusations, no protection from Law, no refuge in the Clemency of the Emperors, grew desperate, and revolted to the Goths, Huns, Vandals, and other Invaders.

Sect. XIII.: The Excellency of a limited Monarchy, especially of our own.

I Think it is Machiavel who observes, that two or three weak and bad Princes succeeding each other, are sufficient to ruin a State, where they govern by mere Will; but it may survive a long succession of foolish Princes limited by good Laws. Vespasian found three hundred millions (of our money) wanting to restore the Empire to a condition of subsisting. Monarchy, according to Plato, is the best Government, or the worst: to which opinion I subscribe; as I do to that of Philip De Edition: current; Page: [176]Comines, that England is the place in the world, where the Public is most equally administered, and where the people suffer the least violence. We are blessed with that form of Government which Tacitus mentions as the most perfect, and thinks the hardest to be framed; that happy ballance and mixture of interests which comprehends every interest i .

An English Monarch has one advantage which sets him above any arbitrary Monarch upon earth; he obliges his subjects by being obliged to them. As he protects them by defending their Property and Laws; so they, by supporting him, enable him to do it: while they give by choice, and not by force, they give chearfully. Princes who take all themselves, and leave nothing to their people to give, can never be beloved by their people. If it be true that we hate those whom we have hurt, it is equally true, that we are apt to love those whom we have obliged. Hence God is said, not only to love doing good, but to love the good that he does.

Arbitrary Princes would doubtless chuse to have the love and affections of their people, were the same to be acquired by furious and unaccountable Rule; but this is impossible. Hence dread of their power is all the share they can expect in the hearts of their subjects; and this is a compliment which their subjects pay to things the most hideous and vile; to Serpents; to mad and wild Beasts; to Plagues and Satan; to Pain and Poverty. But even this miserable compliment is not always paid to such princes: they are not always dreaded. When their terrors are become habitual, they cease, in a good measure, to be terrors; the people grow hardened Edition: current; Page: [177]and desperate; they themselves become scorned; and contempt, the most abject lot in life, becomes the portion of those who possess the highest. When Nero asked Subrius Flavius, one of the Conspirators against his life, from what motives he had renounced his Allegiance; “It was because I abhorred thee,” said he. The Consul Vestinius too was known to Nero, to despise his vile and unmanly spirit; and in the whole detection of that Conspiracy, and the punishment of the conspirators, nothing was so signal as the series of contempt poured upon that brutal Tyrant, in the heighth of his Power, and amidst the terrors of his Tyranny. Nothing, says Tacitus, mortified him so much. But when the Monster was deposed, he incurred such sovereign scorn, that he was doomed to be stripped naked, and scourged to death like a slave, with his head fastened in a pillory; his carcass to be cast afterwards from the Tarpeian Rock, and with a hook in his nose to be dragged to the Tiber.

Nor could the great reputation of Julius Cæsar, or that of Augustus, and all their Power, secure them from popular insults and despight. The mœchum calvum, and videsne ut cinædus orbem digito temperet; were contumelies which even their greatness could not escape. Mithridates King of Armenia, when despoiled of his Kingdom, experienced by the behaviour of his People, how much they reverenced him; they even assaulted him with reproaches and blows k . When the Emperor Vitellius was led along to the slaughter, with his hands bound behind him, his habit all torn, and himself a filthy spectacle; he found much the like usage. Numbers wounded him with reproaches; but none was found to bewail him; and the populace railed at him when dead, with the Edition: current; Page: [178]same baseness of heart, with which they had flattered him living l .

DISCOURSE VIII.: Of the general Debasement of Spirit and Adulation which accompany Power unlimited.

Sect. I.: The motives of Flattery considered. Its vileness, and whence it begins.

I SHALL now say something of the extreme Debasement of the Romans under the Emperors. Flattery ever rises in proportion to Power and Fear. Where Law and Liberty reign, and men hold not their Property and Lives at the mercy of one or a few; this security begets in them a pride and stubbornness inconsistent with Servility and Adulation. Men do not flatter such as they dare own to be no better than themselves, or such as have no power to hurt them; nor will they pay over-much reverence to great Titles which are not accompanied with great Power, nor supported by Superstition. For Superstition enslaves as effectually as real Power, and therefore confers it; nor is Tyranny ever so complete as when the chief Magistrate is chief Pontiff, as were the Soldans of Egypt and Bagdat; or, which is the next thing, can create and depose him, as do the Turkish Emperors. But where men hold their fortunes and lives at the mere mercy of another, they will fear him as much as they love themselves, Edition: current; Page: [179]and flatter him, as much as they fear him a . If his Power be limited, their Flattery will be limited; but boundless, if his Authority be so. Thus court and sycophancy prevail less under a mixed Monarchy, than under one that is despotic; in an Aristocracy less than there; and less still in a popular State. Perfect equality quite destroys it; complete Sovereignty raises it to the highest.

The more foolish and wicked a Prince is, the more Incense he will have; it is the surest way of pleasing a Tyrant, as it sanctifies his Iniquities, and represents him to himself as worthy of all his Grandeur and equal to all the highest Offices of Empire. Tiberius, who was a Prince of great penetration, hated Flattery, because he knew it to be so; as he knew that they who paid him most, the Senate and Grandees, dreaded, and therefore hated his Power; as he, who understood perfectly the nature and blessing of Liberty, would have dreaded and hated any man in his place, had he been in theirs. He knew that Flattery and Hate often go together; so that they who possess the greatest Hate, profess the greatest Affection. It is as much as their lives are worth, to manifest any tokens of Aversion; and the stronger it is, it will require the more Art and Assiduity to hide it. Julius Cæsar was loaded with all sorts and every excess of Honours, some that were divine, with design to make him odious, while they who conferred them abhorred him, and were concerting schemes to destroy him. With the same view the like artifices were practised by the Senate towards his Successor Octavius, afterwards Augustus, concerning whom the equivocal saying of Cicero, could not but be remembered by Tiberius b , “they should extol the Edition: current; Page: [180]Youth, and take him off.” Hence though Tiberius was irreconcileable to public Liberty, he abominated Flattery c . He saw that Flattery was the mere effect of Bondage, and suiting only with the spirit of Slaves; and though he would not part with the Sovereignty (notwithstanding he often talked of it, as well as pretended great backwardness to accept it) yet he was ashamed of the vile and slavish abjectness of the Romans d .

But neither under Tiberius was there any security in abstaining from Flattery; he was a Prince infinitely jealous, and could brook no sort of opposition, nor even independence; and it was both necessary and dangerous to flatter him; but, in my opinion, not so dangerous as necessary: I mean, to such as purely consulted their own safety, and to escape the rage of the Tyrant. It is true, he despised Flatterers; but he hurt them not; and it was natural for him to think (suspicious as he was) that such as would not flatter him, scorned him. It is certain he never forgave free speakers, never could endure men of bold spirit, but, first or last, pursued them to destruction. It was perillous, says Tacitus, to practise no Flattery, and perillous to practise too much e . L. Piso had inveighed against the corruptions of the State, particularly against the pestilent pursuits of the Impleaders, who were daily arraigning, and circumventing, and menacing all men; he even threatened to quit Rome. Tiberius bore this calmly, nay, he descended to mollify him with kind words. But in a soul like his, brooding over Vengeance, though he had suppressed the sallies of Wrath, the deep impressions remained; Piso was a Edition: current; Page: [181]good while afterwards charged with Treason, and, but for a natural death, which opportunely intervened, must have suffered the pains of Treason. Asinius Gallus incurred his rage for a motion in Senate which had really a compliment in it. Tiberius had in a Letter to the Fathers complained, that from the plots and snares of his enemies, he led a life full of dread and apprehensions. Gallus proposed to address the Prince, that he would explain his fears to the Senate, and permit them to remove the causes; this incensed him. Gallus too had piqued him before, and was suspected by him of aspiring views; and though he had notoriously flattered him, he could not by it redeem his life.

As all Corruptions in a State begin commonly from the Grandees (or rather they are beginners of all Corruption) so the Grandees are the most signal Flatterers; they are most in the eye of a Prince, they are the most obnoxious to his jealousy, and thence the most prone to flatter him f . A Prince who governs or would govern by mere Will, must countenance and employ such as ask no reasons for what he does; but commend all he does; and the more they have to get or lose, the lower they must stoop, the more they must praise g . For this vile servitude of theirs they make reprisals upon the people, and are as terrible to those below them, as fawning to those above them; for the most prostitute Slaves, are the most insolent Tyrants, and it is from the same baseness of spirit that men oppress and flatter; it was truly said of Caligula, “that there never lived a more complaisant Slave, nor a more cruel and detestable Master.” Thus Edition: current; Page: [182]Flattery is propagated, and infects all degrees of men. The Prince awes the Grandees, and by the Grandees is flattered; the Grandees oppress and terrify the people; and thence the people dread and adore the Grandees. The Bashaws are slaves to the great Turk; the people slaves to the Bashaws.

The insolence of slavish spirits is by Tacitus exemplified in Vitellius, among many other instances. He was always the foremost in Flattery; ever assaulting every worthy Patriot with reproaches, and ever struck silent when repulsed; agreeably to the genius of Sycophants, to be both insulting and cowardly. This man, however, prospered by Prostitution. He had great employments under Tiberius, he was a great Favourite in the two succeeding Reigns, he was thrice Consul and once Censor. Nor did the man want good talents and qualifications; in the Government of Provinces, says Tacitus, he exercised the integrity of a primitive Roman. But his dread of Caligula, and complaisance to Claudius, changed him into a filthy Slave, and he is handed down to posterity as a pattern of the most infamous Flattery: The just reward of his servile submission. His first and best actions were forgot; his last and worst remembered; and the excellencies of his younger years obliterated by an old age drenched in servitude and iniquity. Besides his adoring Claudius as a God, he carried one of Messalina’s sandals in his bosom continually, frequently kissed it; and amongst his houshold Gods placed golden Statues of Pallas and Narcissus, the Emperor’s freed slaves. This man was, I think, farther to Vitellius afterwards Emperor. Such men such Princes delight in; regibus boni quam mali suspectiores sunt, semperque his aliena virtus formidolosa est: says Sallust.

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Sect. II.: Men of elevated Minds irreconcileable to Arbitrary Power, and thence suspected by it. The Court paid to it always insincere, sometimes expedient, but seldom observes any bounds.

AGRIPPA told Augustus, according to Dion Cassius, that it was impossible for a man of great spirit and resolution, to be other than a lover of Liberty, and an enemy in his heart to an absolute master. Agrippa himself was that sort of man; he had courage enough to advise that Prince to resign the Sovereignty, and restore public Liberty; such in truth was his credit and bravery, that Augustus thought himself no otherwise safe, than either by killing him, or taking him for his son-in-law. The Emperor did more than give him his daughter; he assumed him partner in the Tribunitial Power, which, as that Usurper and his Successors managed it, was, in effect, the Dictatorial Power. The other great men of Rome he suspected and hated; though in vanity and for the praise of Posterity, he left them his heirs in the third degree h ; Augustus and Tiberius judged too well, to imagine that the illustrious Senators and Chiefs of Rome, men who had scorned the alliance and affinity of Kings, nay, treated Kings as their creatures and dependents, could like a blind dependence upon one of their own Citizens, who by usurpation and violence had made himself an enemy to all. Even in the Reign of Tiberius there were Romans who thought themselves as good as him; Cneius Piso, for example, scarce gave place to him, and despised his sons, as men far beneath himself. But Edition: current; Page: [184]his haughty spirit cost him his life; for though Tiberius used him as a proper instrument to thwart and overthrow Germanicus, he afterwards turned that very service to the destruction of Piso.

Affection can never accompany a submission which is forced, nor men submit willingly to a Power which they think they have themselves a right to exercise. Hence the compliments and praises of these eminent Romans towards the Emperors, are generally by Tacitus derived from Flattery; though sometimes necessary, and sometimes well intended; necessary, when used for their own preservation; and well intended, when employed to instil into the Prince virtuous lessons of Government. Marcus Terentius was perhaps justifiable, when in defence of his life, which was at stake, he made that high-flown compliment to Tiberius; “To thee the Gods have granted the supreme disposal of things, and to us have left the glory of obedience.” The Senators also did well in magnifying some popular Acts of Nero, that his youthful mind being thus incited by the Glory arising from light things, might court it in things which were greater. And Thrasea Petus was justifiable, when in his speech about Antistius the Prætor, arraigned for Treason for lampooning the Emperor, he extolled that Prince’s mercy, in order to make him merciful.

But as that which is only good in some certain degrees and exigences, seldom stops there; so this same Flattery, no wise blameable under some circumstances, grew scandalous and excessive; it kept pace with all the phrenzy and cruelties of these outrageous and inhuman Tyrants; and by it their cruelties and phrenzy were encouraged. The more mischievous and vile they were, the more they were adored. Dread of their fury had seized the souls of men; nor was any remedy sought against their fury Edition: current; Page: [185]but that of Flattery. Men of slavish minds always began the detestable rout; their example drew others after them; the lovers of liberty found it impossible to resist the many, and unsafe to distinguish themselves by opposition. Interest swayed some, example others, fear all, and at last it became a common strife who should be foremost in the race to Servitude. All public spirit, all regard to the glory and good of Rome, the inseparable characteristic of the old free Romans, was now lost and forgot; it was converted into fear and anxiety of every man for himself. This will ever be the case when a Prince, armed with sufficient Powers, sets up his own interest against that of the State; particulars having no longer any thing to do with the public, will study only to secure themselves.

Sect. III.: The excessive Power of the Imperial freed Slaves; with the scandalous Submission and Honours paid them by the Romans.

AS Tyranny produces abject fear and anxiety in particulars for themselves, so from this selfish fear and anxiety come the beginning and progress of universal Servitude, the extinction of all Patriotism and honest zeal, the power of corruption, and the symptoms of a State hastening to ruin and desolation. All the good or evil which could befal any Roman, lay wholly in the breast and option of the Prince; and hence the study of every man to humour the Prince, or the Slaves who governed him; for governed he generally was by slaves the vilest and most pestilent; yes, the whole Empire, that Empire that contained a great share of the Globe, and terrified almost the whole, was swayed, sold, oppressed, and exhausted by slaves bought from the chain and the oar. Claudius not only declared that affairs Edition: current; Page: [186]adjudged by his Receivers should be held equally valid with those adjudged by himself, but got the same established by a solemn Decree of Senate. Now these Receivers of the Emperors were his manumized Slaves, who under that title often governed Provinces; he raised the authority of these vermin to a pitch equal with that of the Sovereign and the Laws. Felix Governor of Judea was a freed slave, the husband of three Queens, and the brother of Pallas another freed slave, who controlled the Emperor, lay with the Empress, and was master of the Empire; so that Nero said pertinently of him, when he turned him out of office, “that Pallas went to abdicate the Sovereignty.”

Behold the debasement of the great and venerable Roman Senate! It is not enough that they flatter the Emperor, and heap upon him Powers and Honours so great and manifold, that at last they have none for themselves, hardly any for him; they must likewise adore, and enrich, and exalt the fugitives and off-scourings of the earth, insects naturally doomed to the vilest offices of the kitchen, stable, and privies. The Romans, Lords of the World, must put their necks under the feet of the dregs of human race. For a contemptible project of that same Pallas, about punishing Ladies who married slaves, Bareas Soranus Consul elect, the first Magistrate in the Roman world, moved the Senate to reward him with the ornaments of Prætor, the next Civil Office in the State, and a present of near an hundred thousand pounds. To this motion it was added by Cornelius Scipio, that Pallas should have public thanks, that he who was descended from the old Kings of Arcadia, should to the service of the public thus postpone that his ancient Nobility, and deign to be reckoned amongst the Emperor’s Ministers. But Claudius averred, Edition: current; Page: [187]that Pallas would rest content with the honours of the Prætorship, and, rejecting the present, chuse to live in his usual poverty. The Decree passed, was engraved in brass, and publicly hung up; a pompous Decree, in which a fellow, lately a baresooted slave, now worth near eight millions, was magnified for observing the laudable self-denial and parcimony of the primitive ages. Observe the strange inversion of all order and sense! dignity debased; infamy exalted; how low the awful authority of the Senate descended! how vilely the function of a Consul prostituted! how ignominiously the glorious name of Scipio employed! how abominably the ornaments of Magistracy defiled! an ordinance of State, big with servitude and lies! what stupidity in the Emperor, what insolence in the slave, and what a melancholy failure of all Virtue, Truth, and Liberty amongst all degrees of men! It was, in truth, a compliment made to a slave by a body of slaves, as Pliny well observes. We may guess at the villainy and evil deeds of the man by the enormous Honours that were paid him, though we had no other rule or proof, as we have proofs enough. No such violent court was ever paid to Seneca; and Tigellinus had much more weight and authority than Burrus.

Real goodness and merit beget in all good men real friendship and affection; and real affection is never so loud nor shewy as affection assumed. Where we sincerely like and esteem, we are not afraid of suspicion in the person esteemed, nor spend much breath and ceremony to convince him. But where we are conscious of our own insincerity, our professions are pompous and wordy. It was absolutely impossible that these vile Upstarts should love the Senate, or any great men, great in blood, or fortune, or virtue; or the Senate or any great Roman could love such vile Upstarts; but we see what disguises Edition: current; Page: [188]fear and falshood can put on! Impartial posterity, which neither fears the Senate nor Pallas, can perceive nothing in the Honours by them conferred upon him, but the infamy of both perpetuated. Nor was Claudius the only Emperor who was thus led in bondage by his franchised bondmen; others submitted to the same vassalage, to the same infamous Counsellors; Plerique principes (says Pliny) libertorum erant servi; borum consiliis, borum nutu regebantur. Was not the world finely governed, and humankind completely happy; when the universal Lord was swayed by the lust and nod of creatures just redeemed from the infamy of whips and fetters? The mighty Cæsar, to whom the Romans owed all their ensuing misery and bondage, began the exaltation of such sons of earth; and, in contempt of censure, declared, that, “if he had employed Highwaymen and Assassins to support his grandeur, he would in return have honoured them with the same favour.” A true confession, but methinks not very politic; we have seen already whether his worthy Successors did not actually do so, and what were the Instrumenta regni, the bloody tools and machinery of absolute Rule. Polycletus, a manumized slave of Nero’s, when sent by his master to inspect the State of Britain, travelled with such an immense train, that he was a burden to great nations, even those of Italy and Gaul.

Sect. IV.: The excessive Flattery of the Senate, how ill judged.

THERE was no mean in the Flattery of the Senate. They might have been good Courtiers, without being so abandoned Courtiers. There are instances of their carrying questions against the spirit of the Court and the efforts of Favourites, in Edition: current; Page: [189]the worst Reigns. Thus, in spight of all the power and caballing of Agrippina, they expelled Tarquitius Priscus, a creature of hers, from the Senate, in detestation of his base attack upon the life of Statilius Taurus, in subserviency to the Empress, who yearned after the Wealth and fine Gardens of that illustrious Senator. Thus too in the case of Antistius the Prætor, who had composed some virulent Verses against Nero, and exposed them at a great entertainment; though he was impleaded of Treason by Cossutianus Capito son-in-law to that powerful minion Tigellinus, and though Junius Marullus, the Consul elect, moved that he might be doomed to die after the rigorous manner of antiquity; the Senate followed the milder motion of Thrasea Petus for confiscation and exile. Nor would they depart from the sentence even after they had received Nero’s Letter about it, though in it he manifested high indignation.

They might have made some other efforts of this kind, where they made none; on the contrary, they gave away their Liberties and Voices faster than they could have been taken. But the honest boldness of Thrasea broke the bondage which hung upon the minds of others; so much can the example of one worthy man do even in an assembly devoted to corruption and servitude! It is true, Thrasea paid a severe after-reckoning, and it was the apprehension of that which stopped the mouths of others, or opened them only to fawn. But who would not chuse the reputation, and integrity of a Patriot, that of a Thrasea, even at the expence of his fate; rather than the fortune and favour of the sycophant Vitellius, with the abjectness of his life, and infamy of his name?

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Sect. V.: The free Judgment of Posterity a powerful warning to Princes, to reign with moderation and to detest Flatterers. The Name and Memory of the Roman Tyrants how treated.

ALL men have some vanity, and thence some fondness for fame; if they would acquire it, and avoid infamy, they must square their actions to the judgment of Posterity. With Posterity, little evasions, false colourings, and chicane will not pass for reasons, though they may with our cotemporaries, who are often influenced by friendships, often engaged in parties, often warmed and misled by passion and partiality. Death and Time destroy all artifices, dissipate all mists, and unveil mysteries; the intentions of men with all their motives and pursuits are then scanned and laid open. The flights of Flattery, will not then be termed fondness for the Prince, nor the efforts of Ambition miscalled public zeal. Claudius and Pallas, Tiberius and Sejanus, Nero and Tigellinus; men so caressed, applauded and worshipped during their life and power, men who then employed all tongues in their praises, do now fill, and have long filled the mouths of all men with detestation, and their hearts with abhorrence. What avail now their craft and subornations, their power and high posts? Does the awe of purple, or the violence of the sword, do Prætorian Guards and perverted Laws, secure their memory, as they did their persons? Do I, for example, fear their charges of Treason, or the vile breath of their Informers, while I treat them as sanguinary Monsters, as the Tyrants, Pests and Oppressors of the earth, as public Curses, and Murderers in cold blood?

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These Tyrants and their Flatterers, though they pushed both Tyranny and Flattery as far as they would go, have not been able, with all their Arts and Terrors, to stifle the memory of men, nor restrain the speech. They are handed down to us under their proper titles. The Emperor Nero we seldom say; but the Tyrant Nero is in every one’s mouth; and the idea of a sycophant ever accompanies the name of Vitellius. His great credit and offices are forgot, or remembered only to his infamy. What a check must History and the Censure of Posterity be to a Prince that has any reflection! Had Tiberius, Claudius, Caligula, and other Imperial Monsters considered what frightful lights they were like to be drawn in to future times, it would have spoiled their pleasure in tyrannizing, and made them hate their Flatterers, who persuaded them that all men, at least the best men, spoke of them as they themselves spoke. With regard to Fame and Posterity it had been better for these wretches that they had never been born, as well as happy for human-kind; yet no man was ever a greater drudge for Fame than Nero; Erat illi æternitatis perpetuæque famæ cupido, sed inconsulia, says Suetonius. Witness his laborious fatigues in the Theatre and Circus, continued day after day, and often nights and days, for the reputation of a good Singer, Harper, and Coachman. Caligula aspired to the like glory, and was a notable Fencer and assiduous Dancer, as well as a Charioteer i . Laudable Ambition for a Prince, and as just and high as that of many others!

Tiberius also wished and prayed for the praises and affectionate remembrance of posterity k . How Edition: current; Page: [192]well he succeeded, we all know. He is detested as one of the most dangerous, false, and deliberate Tyrants that ever afflicted men; nay, he was no sooner known to be dead, than the people broke forth into joy and execrations; some cried, “Into the Tiber with Tiberius: others besought mother earth and the infernal Gods to allot him no mansion but amongst the damned and accursed:” others threatened to drag his body with hooks to the charnel of malefactors. And when his corps was going to be removed from Misenum to Rome, every one cried aloud, that it should rather be carried to the town of Atella, to be in the Amphitheatre there thrown into a fire, till it were half burned. Such were the marks of remembrance he had, and deserved, from the people! The other two are treated as frantic butchers, or rather as two mad dogs delighted with carnage and worrying, bent and active to kill and destroy. What is it to us that they were Princes and Emperors? Men of sense find no magic in names, but regard Monsters as Monsters, whatever titles Fortune or Flatterers gave them, or they themselves took.

It is thus Tyrants suffer the vengeance of afterages; and terrible vengeance it is to such as are tender of their Renown, and seek Immortality, as most Princes do; and indeed have it forced upon them, since they stand too high, and do too much not to be remembered. Hence they ought to be more afraid of future censure, which is generally well grounded and will certainly last, than of temporary praise, which is often false, consequently fleeting, at best to be suspected.

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Sect. VI.: How lamentably Princes are debauched and misled by Flatterers.

NOW if Tyrants are abhorred, how much abhorrence is due to Flatterers, who often change Princes into Tyrants, and make Tyrants worse than they would be? Tiberius assumed the Sovereignty with great diffidence; and his natural wariness would have probably made him mild against his nature, had not the Romans so readily offered him their necks and their persons to bondage. But when he found them devoted to Slavery, he used them like Slaves, and having nothing to fear from them, he only followed the vile bent of his own spirit l .

Domitian rejoiced when he found that Agricola had left him coheir with his wife and daughter; he vainly thought it done out of judgment and choice, and in pure regard to his person. So much was he corrupted and blinded by continual Flattery, as to be utterly ignorant, that no Prince, but a bad one, was ever by a father tender of his issue and family, assumed into heirship with them, as Pliny the younger well observes.

Nero was in terrible agonies after he had murdered his Mother; he dreaded the soldiery, the Senate, and the people; but when, instead of danger and resentment, he met with flattering speeches from the Officers, flattering Decrees from the Senate, popular Processions, Applauses, public Devotions paid to all the Deities, and universal acquiescence; his native insolence became more swelled; and, from this general Servitude, assuming the pride of victory, he ascended the Capitol, offered sacrifices, and thenceforth surrendered himself to the full sway of all his exorbitant lusts. When he had caused these Edition: current; Page: [194]two noble Romans, Plautus and Sylla, to be assassinated, he wrote to the Senate without mentioning the execution, only that they were two men of turbulent spirits, and what mighty care it cost him to secure the State. Instantly the obsequious fathers degraded from the Senate these dead Senators, and ordained public Prayers and Sacrifices. Nero, upon the receiving of this Decree, and finding that all his brutal iniquities and acts of blood passed for so many feats of renown, grew emboldened to do a thing which even Nero till then durst not do, and turned away the virtuous Octavia his wife, her by whom he held the Empire m . Nay, when soon after the Imperial butcher had ordered the blood of that illustrious Innocent to be shed, thanks and oblations were again presented to the Deities, by an ordinance of Senate. A particular, says Tacitus, which with this view I recount, that whoever reads the events of those times in this or any other History, may take it for granted, that as often as the Emperors commanded acts of cruelty, banishments and assassinations, so often thanks and sacrifices were decreed to the Gods; and those Solemnities which were of old the marks and consequences of public victories and public felicity, were now so many sad marks of public slaughter and desolation n .

This was remarkably verified afterwards as well as now; when Nero, upon the discovery of Piso’s conspiracy, had spilt rivers of blood, and slain men by heaps; the fuller the city was of executions and funerals, the fuller too were the Temples of sacrifices. One had lost a son, one a brother, Edition: current; Page: [195]or kinsman, or friend in this general butchery; and the greater their loss, the more gayety they shewed, adorned their houses with Laurel, frequented Temples with Thanksgiving, embraced the knees of the Tyrant, and worried his hand with kisses. Nero took all this for so many sincere tokens of affection and joy; when, in truth, their Congratulations and Flattery were just in proportion to their severe sorrow.

Sect. VII.: The pestilent tendency of flattering Counsels, and the Glory of such as are sincere.

WHAT a poisonous thing is Flattery? By it Princes are misled into a persuasion that all their measures of Oppression, all their acts of Frenzy and Rage, are just measures of Government, that forced praise is real affection, that they themselves are popular when they are abhorred; and thus they are kept from repenting or amending, because, relying upon the assurances of Flatterers, they cannot find that they have done amiss, or see any thing to be mended. The Flatterers of Nero ridiculed Seneca, and railed at him, and persuaded that Prince he wanted no Tutors. The same did the Flatterers of Commodus in relation to the old Counsellors; which had been his father’s. Nero and Commodus followed the advice of their Flatterers, and reigned mischievously, and died tragically, and their memories are abhorred. Thus they are kept hoodwinked and secure, till the first thing they open their eyes upon, is their Throne tottering or overturned, and perhaps an executioner’s knife at their breast; and even when things are come to that extremity, there will be those to misrepresent and flatter, as in the case of Galba; a few moments before he was massacred, he was soothed with false assurances of security o .

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How pernicious too is such falsification even to those that practise it; since though they mean it out of selfishness and for security, yet by sanctifying upon all occasions the Oppression and Destruction of others, they do but invite their own! Whereas were matters laid honestly before Princes, that this measure is a Grievance, that an Oppression, and that whatever is unjust to others is dangerous to themselves, they would prefer caution with safety, to humour and wilfulness accompanied with peril; they would grow into a habit of doubting, deliberateing and enquiring; of submitting their own judgment to that of others; of remembering that they are what they are for the sake of their People, and that they ought to have no Will, nor Interest, but the public Will and the public Interest.

Had Nero pursued the good Rules of Government dictated by Seneca and Burrus, and proposed by himself in his first Speech to the Senate; had he avoided the counsels of that bloody and detestable sycophant Tigellinus, and of others like him, he might have ended his reign with as much renown as he began it, and left a memory revered as much as it is now detested. And would the Confidents of Princes, instead of debasing themselves into the characters of Parasites, instead of abusing their trust, and bringing infamy upon their masters and themselves; would they, instead of this, give upright counsel, such as conduced to the good of all men, they would, besides the praise of well-doing, take the best method to secure themselves, their fortunes and families in the general security: or, should they be rewarded with disgrace, or even with death, they would have the approbation of their own Consciences, the applauses of the Living, and the praises of Posterity. But while they sooth the Prince in his jealousies and violence, and encourage him in destroying such as he, or such as they fear or dislike, they set him a lesson and example Edition: current; Page: [197]for turning the edge of his fury upon themselves, whenever he becomes prompted by his humour or caprice; a case often happening, and always to be apprehended. The Courtiers and Flatterers of the Emperor Caracalla, to humour him, concurred with him in the murder of his brother Geta; and, after that murder, though committed by his own hand, were themselves murdered for their wicked complaisance, and amongst them Letus his Favourite and Confident. Yet he was so far from remorse for shedding his brother’s blood, that he massacred every friend and adherent to his brother, to the number of twenty thousand, in a short time. Tiberius, of all his Friends, Confidents and Counsellors, scarce let one escape a violent end, unless where by a natural death they prevented it: and they who had been the Ministers of his Tyranny, hardly ever failed to fall by it. He indeed protected them from the resentment and prosecution of others; but he generally poured vengeance upon them himself p . Vescularius Atticus and Julius Marinus, were two of his most ancient intimates; they had accompanied him during his retirement at Rhodes, and never forsook him in his retreat at Capreæ; they had abetted his Tyranny, and assisted him in his cruel Counsels, nor does it appear that they had ever offended him by any good Counsel. Vescularius was his manager and inter-agent in the perfidious plot to destroy that noble Roman Libo Drusus; and by the co-operation of Marinus, Sejanus had worked the overthrow of Curtius Atticus. Was not all this merit enough, at least, to have redeemed their own lives? It was not; they fell themselves victims to his cruelty, as to satiate his cruelty they had made others fall: ad Edition: current; Page: [198]mortem aguntur: quo lætius acceptum, says Tacitus, sua exempla in consultores recidisse; their tragical end was followed with the more joy, for that upon their own heads had thus recoiled the precedents of their own traiterous devising. In truth, these instruments of cruelty are generally abhorred by the Princes that use them. Anicetus Admiral of the Gallies to Nero, conducted and perpetrated the murder of his mother Agrippina, and for a short space continued in some small favour with the Prince; but was afterwards held in greater aversion; for, says Tacitus, the Ministers of evil Counsels are by Princes beheld as men whose looks continually upbraid them q . Such too was the fate of Cleander under Commodus, who loved him, was governed by him, and cut off his head. How differently related is the fate of Burrus, suspected to have been poisoned by Nero r : Mighty and lasting was the sorrow of Rome for his death, for the Romans remembered his virtues; and a little before s , While the calamities of the Public were growing daily more heavy and bitter, the resources of the Public were diminished, and Burrus died. How nobly too is the tragedy of Seneca recounted! it is too long to find room here.

I shall end this Discourse with observing, that as Flattery is the effect of dread and falshood; as the most tyrannical Princes are most flattered, and men of the falsest minds are the greatest Flatterers; this consideration should be a lesson to Princes and great men, to weigh the actions they do against the praises they receive; and if they find themselves righteous, they may conclude their panegyrics to be sincere. Let them reflect upon their acts of benevolence or oppression, and how they have used their people. Edition: current; Page: [199]They would also do well to examine what sort of men they are who praise them; whether men of virtue and honour, lovers of truth, lovers of their Country, and of human-kind; or whether they are those unlimited Sycophants, whose custom and rule it is to extol at random all the sayings and doings of Princes, worthy and unworthy t .

DISCOURSE IX.: Upon Courts.

Sect. I.: Of Freedom of Speech; and how reasonable it is.

TO the foregoing Discourse upon Flattery, I thought it might not be unsuitable to subjoin another upon Courts, the place where that pestilent and unmanly practice is wont chiefly to prevail.

During those Reigns which I have been describing, when Power was established in Terrors, and Subjection converted into Abasement, small was the wonder that restraint upon speech was no inconsiderable link in the public chain, and care taken that such as presumed to breathe aught but vassalage, should not breathe at all. This was wretched policy, barbarous, and impossible to be practised. The passions are not to be extinguished but with life; and to forbid people, especially a suffering people, to speak, is to forbid them to feel.

It is not indeed to be expected that men should be suffered to meet together tumultuously, in order to publish their mutual Discontents and Wrongs, and to inflame one another; but complaints uttered in their families, or dropped occasionally, or communicated Edition: current; Page: [200]to a friend, can never affect Authority. The more men express of their hate and resentment, perhaps the less they retain; and sometimes they vent the whole that way; but these passions, where they are smothered, will be apt to fester, to grow venomous, and to discharge themselves by a more dangerous organ than the mouth, even by an armed and vindictive hand. Less dangerous is a railing mouth, than a heart filled and enflamed with bitterness and curses; and more terrible to a Prince ought to be the secret execrations of his people than their open revilings, or than even the assaults of his enemies. Of all the blood spilt under Tiberius and the following Tyrants for Words (and for no greater cause a deluge was spilt) how small a part conduced to their security? none that I remember; but every drop was an indelible stain upon their persons and upon their Government; every drop derived hatred, and consequently weakness and danger, upon it. Rigorous punishment for small faults, or for such as in the common opinion pass for none, is a mark of ill politics; it makes the spirit of the Administration look hideous and dreadful, and it renders every man who finds himself liable to the like faults, a capital enemy. Surely it ought to be a maxim in Government, that errors which can have no consequences, ought to have no punishment.

Oliver Cromwell, who seems to have seen far into the heart of man, was little affected with the hard words and invectives of particulars, and as high as he carried Authority, left people to talk and rail. The same is true of the late Regent of France, one who well knew human nature, and the nature of power; it was then common to see Frenchmen swagger and storm as freely as an old Roman would have done against an unpopular Magistrate. In truth, where no liberty is allowed to speak of Governors, besides that of praising them, their praises will be little believed. Their tenderness Edition: current; Page: [201]and aversion to have their conduct examined, will be apt to prompt people to think their conduct guilty or weak, to suspect their management and designs to be worse than perhaps they are, and to become turbulent and seditious, rather than be forced to be silent. When nothing but incense and applause will be accepted or borne; all plain dealing, all honest counsel and true information, will be at an end, and banished, to make room for deceitful adorations, for pleasing and pernicious falshoods. If Princes whose memory is disliked, had allowed their subjects and co-temporaries to have spoken truth to them, or of them, probably Posterity would not have spoke so much ill, as it is probable they would not then have deserved it; and I am apt to believe, that it had been better for all of them to have permitted all that could have been said, than to have missed hearing what it imported them to have heard; better to have heard the disgusts and railings of their people, than that their people were armed against them, or revolted from them; a fate which has befallen some of them, who, having had Courtiers over-complaisant, or ears over-tender, learnt that they were dethroned before they had learnt that they were not beloved; and found scarce any interval between the acclamations of Flatterers and the strokes of an Executioner. Such is the genius of Courts, where ill tidings are generally concealed or disguised; such too often the silence and soothings of Courtiers, who tell only or chiefly what is pleasing; and such sometimes the pride and impatience of Princes, that they will suffer nothing which ruffles their passions, to approach their understanding.

Sect. II.: The Spirit of Courtiers what; some good ones.

IT is something else than zeal for telling truth, that carries men to Court, and keeps them in it; to raise an interest, or to preserve it, is the more Edition: current; Page: [202]prevailing passion. And because whoever sets his foot there with any view to place and favour, is always sure of competitors, be his person or pretences what they will, ever so considerable or inconsiderable; his chief care will be to conquer opposers, and secure himself; and as there ever will be some opposition, real or apprehended, that care will be constant. Hence the spirit of a Court, selfish, suspicious and unfriendly; and hence the supple spirit of Courtiers, to love and hate, court and avoid, praise and persecute the same person with notable suddenness, just as he is promoted or disgraced, and can help or hurt, or is to be deprived of all capacity to do either. To be well with the subsisting Power, with him who holds the reins of Authority, and distributes, or causes to be distributed the blessings and terrors of Power, is the main pursuit; his motions are chiefly watched, his affections and aversions are studied and adopted; and thus a smile or a frown from the Throne, or from one who is next the Throne, is eagerly catched up, seizes the faces of a whole drawing-room in an instant, and is handed down, with signal uniformity, through all classes of men, from a Grandee to the lowest Clerk in an Office.

A Court is a great Exchange, where one or a few have favours to dispose of, where many resort to procure them, and where all therefore strive to outgo in the ways of pleasing every one who has the same aim, and study every method to render themselves acceptable. Hence their obsequious Countenances, Flattery, Insinuations, and Zeal, some passions concealed, some disguised, and others personated; hence too their attachment to such as can help to promote them, and their neglect of such as cannot; hence with them good fortune, however unworthily placed, always passes for merit, and abilities ever sink with power; and hence their falsehood, ingratitude and courteous behaviour.

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That this is true of the herd of Courtiers, I believe will be allowed. Without doubt there are exceptions, and men of great honour, disinterestedness and friendship are often to be found there; men who scorn treachery and baseness, and would risk all, rather than do a mean thing. Such were Manius Lepidus, Seneca, and Burrus; such Cocceius Nerva and Julius Agricola, and such were the Chancellor de L’Hospital, Chancellor Hyde, and the Earl of Southampton; all these great men were Courtiers, and lived in Courts full of corruption and dangerous designs; all practised some degrees of suppleness, submitted their opinions to the necessity of the times, and, by defeating many evil measures, were the Authors of much good, though not of all that they would.

Cardinal Richelieu makes heavy complaints of the opposition which he found to his best designs from the credit and intrigues of Women, and the whispers and ill offices of malevolent Courtiers. These great men abovementioned were likewise often wronged; bad counsels which they had heartily opposed, were imputed to them; and, when they concurred with some excesses to obviate much greater, just allowances were not made, and their motives were spitefully construed. Thus the Chancellor De L’Hospital was severely censured by the Hugonots for passing the Edict of Romorantin, which bore hard upon them; though by that Edict he prevented their utter extirpation, and the misery of all France, by hindering the introduction and establishment of that monstrous and bloody Tribunal the Inquisition; in which design the Court and Parliament were already agreed, and I think the Edict for that detestable purpose was ready. For such signal and glorious service the Protestants first railed at him, and the Papists afterwards cursed him. Lord Clarendon too was reproached Edition: current; Page: [204]with the sale of Dunkirk, and for many other exorbitancies which the sincere heart of that upright Minister abhorred. Nor could the good counsels of Seneca secure him from much envy and defamation; and many great Ministers, thought to be the Authors of evil counsels, have fallen into disgrace, or perished, for daring to offer such as were benevolent and upright a .

Sect. III.: The Arts of Courtiers; their Cautiousness, and its Causes.

PLausibleness and guises are inseparable from Courts; men must not seem to understand all that they apprehend or know, no more than they must speak all that they think or feel b . Princes often dissemble with their Subjects, their Ministers with them, and all with one another; and every one talks, as he appears, to the best advantage. Some dissimulation there, is absolutely necessary, and therefore lawful. Men are not obliged upon all occasions to speak the truth, though whatever they speak upon any occasion ought to be true. Nor ought any one to be blamed for hiding his passions and sentiments, when the discovery would only serve to hurt himself. But few people in private life can be trusted with secrets, which published would lessen one’s peace or same; and in Courts there are much fewer, perhaps none. Particular interests and passions are often shifting there; men who were once close united, become widely divided; friendships old and long, are turned into bitter and vindictive enmity; and he who would once have risqued his life for the preferment of his friend, would venture as much, upon a disgust, to bring him to a scaffold. This might be exemplified by a thousand instances in all Times Edition: current; Page: [205]and Histories. Nothing keeps the passions more awake than the pursuit of power; nothing touches the pride of man more sensibly, than neglect or disappointment in that pursuit, and nothing is more tender and suspicious than pride. Few have got so much as not to aim at more, or have had ever so much assistance but they expect further, even where the same is unreasonable or perhaps impossible; and from disappointment ensues disgust. Too rarely seen is that Gratitude which looks backward, and generously subsists upon favours past, without fresh claims and aliment; how much more common is that which must be kept up by daily benefits, and, when bereft of such food, expires? Nor is the ceasing of gratitude the worst that is to be apprehended from selfish and ungenerous men; the room of it is too often supplied by spite and revenge; and if it be natural to hate such as we have injured, this hate must be great in proportion to the injury done; and what injury can be greater than that of being barbarous to benefactors?

These considerations are sufficient to make such as frequent Courts and know men, slow and wary in confiding, and to put them under considerable reserves even where they confide most. No one cares to be at the mercy of a friend, that may be an enemy; hence, in the making of friendship any where, it ought to be one of the first considerations, whether there be any probable causes which threaten a rupture; whether the business of love, or power, or fame, or anger, or interest, be never likely to interfere, and produce the most bitter of all enmities, that of friends.

This wariness at Court extends even to words and looks. The conversing with great men and great affairs, naturally produces secresy and silence; for, since such is the folly of the world, that whatever a great man says, however light or accidental, shall be deemed deep and mysterious, if it has Edition: current; Page: [206]the least allusion to the transactions of the times, and since they who hear it will be apt, through vanity, to quote it; great men seldom say any thing upon such subjects; and even when they hear the talk and sentiments of others, they take care that neither their answers, nor their countenance, shall betray their own. Sometimes a word thoughtlessly dropped, or an unseasonable smile, or some mark of surprize, has given light into an important design, and marred it intirely. The like circumspection they observe in their discourse upon particulars, because their discourse may be easily altered and poisoned by the malice or folly of such as hear it; a practice as usual at Court, as in any country village; and many a man has been disgraced by his own words, whispered and altered by a virulent breath; nay, the very same thing reported with a different tone and action, has had the same effect; and where the alteration of the words was considerable, those of them which were forged and criminal have been believed, because the rest that were true and innocent, were well attested.

I shall illustrate this by the story of young Nero (the son of Germanicus) in the Court of Tiberius. It excellently shews the jealousies of Princes, and the spirit of Courts. That young Prince was intirely beloved of the Roman People, who had adored his father; hence the distaste and dark suspicions of the Emperor, his great uncle and grandfather by adoption. Sejanus, who had already poisoned the Emperor’s son Drusus, and was ploting the overthrow of the whole reigning House, fed the hate and apprehensions of the old Prince, by malignant reports and infusions concerning the young, now the next in Succession. This he did by the inter-agency of hollow whispers and tale-bearers, who related and blackened every thing that escaped Nero, who was also hard used and brow-beaten, on purpose to extort from him severe and unwary complaints, such as might fill up the charge against Edition: current; Page: [207]him. Moreover his domestics and retainers, impatient to see him in power that they might shine in its trappings, were continually exciting him to rouse his courage and exert himself, to meet the zeal of the people, to gratify the passionate wishes of the army; as the only expedients to daunt and repulse the insolence of Sejanus, who now despised him as a boy, and his grandfather as superannuated.

The young Prince, however naturally modest, was yet by so many instigations transported beyond the circumspection which the station that he was in, and the many eyes that were upon him, required; and thence gave vent to words, which, though they betrayed no sign of any treasonable purpose, yet, being ill-guarded and savouring of contumacy, were, by the spies purposely placed about him, carried instantly, well heightened and imbittered, to Tiberius. Nor, under all these imputations and aspersions, was he warned or admitted to vindicate himself, but beset, on the contrary, with several melancholy and boding appearances. Some of the Court carefully shunned to meet him; others just greeted him, and then instantly left him; many with whom he had begun a conversation, broke it off abruptly; while the creatures and adherents of Sejanus looked on with a malicious laugh. Tiberius too always received him sternly, or with a hollow and upbraiding smile; and, whether the youth spoke, or said nothing, there were crimes in his words, crimes in his silence. Neither did his bed-chamber and the shades of night secure him from his Enemies and Accusers, for even his restlessness and watchings, nay, his sighs and dreams, were by his wife divulged to her mother Livia, and by her to her adulterer Sejanus. Drusus also, his younger brother, was, by this wicked politician, drawn to combine against him as one who stood between himself and the Empire, and was better beloved by their common mother Agrippina; a fresh cause of emulation and prejudice. Yet at that Edition: current; Page: [208]very time was Sejanus laying a design against the life of this same Drusus, whom he knew to be of a spirit tempestuous and fiery, and thence the more obnoxious to snares. Thus he began the Tragedy of these two youths, and that of their mother; but before he had finished theirs, suffered his own, which was abundantly bloody, but abundantly just. Their brother Caligula was a better Courtier; he studied the temper and manner of Tiberius, and in all things conformed to it; but was particularly a complete scholar of his in dissimulation c . Upon the condemnation of his mother, upon the exile of his brothers, not a word, not a groan escaped him, nor any symptom of resentment or pity. The passions are no where more agitated than at Court; yet no where are the signs of perturbation more suppressed.

Sect. IV.: Of Slanderers and Tale-bearers in Courts. The Folly of Craft.

THE occupation of slander and whispering, will, like other occupations, always thrive according to the encouragement given to it, and being easily exercised, will be ever engaging fresh adventurers. What requires less labour and conscience than to find out, or frame, or invenom a story to the prejudice of another, especially when he is not to be heard in his own defence, nor suffered to confront his Accuser, nor perhaps even knows that he has one? There is an endless appetite in mankind for Intelligence and secret History; and in proportion to that appetite, they who feed it are well received and encouraged. But of all places they fare best in Courts. Great men are in the power of such people much more than they themselves imagine or mean; these assiduous shadows of theirs, who have their ear, and know their tempers, watch their unwary moments, and observe when they are gay and Edition: current; Page: [209]open, when disobliged and angry, when full of thought and business; and will be sure to improve the present temper and opportunity. They know the Characters of men; know whom their Patron loves, whom he dislikes, to whom he is altogether indifferent, with what is likely to be believed of each. They extoll some, decry others, flatter him, misrepresent all; and sooth, or alarm, or divert him, just as his humour and their drift requires. If with this they can play the droll, and make dry and malicious jests, they are accomplished in their way; but most villainous is that talent which is good for nothing but to do hurt; it is like death and poison, fit only to take away life. Vatinius was a buffoon of this pestilent cast, and, from working in a stall, taken to Court, at first for jest and diversion; but having a malicious spirit and a sarcastical turn, soon became a terror to every worthy and illustrious man; insomuch that in wealth and favour, and in power to do mischief, he grew to exceed all the other Ministers of inquity in Nero’s Court.

In all Courts there are many who rise into notice and preferment for no greater merit than that of officiousness, buffoonery and tale-bearing; and Courts are the places in the world where bad and worthless people can do the most harm; a Barber, a Porter, a Valet de Chambre, and even a Child, are all capable of doing notable mischief there. Those instruments, let them be ever so mean, will find some or other to hear them; these will find others; and a story that has run through a hundred hands, and can be traced to no original, or to a very low one, perhaps the idle Prattle of a Chambermaid, may, for all that, have no mean influence.

But whatever reason men have, upon all these accounts, to keep a guard upon their lips and behaviour at Court; there is still room for great frankness and candour, and no necessity of illusion and Edition: current; Page: [210]deceiving, though it be often necessary to let people deceive themselves, and would be often imprudent and dangerous to undeceive them. It is certain, that in the transacting of great Affairs, the rules of morality admit of some relaxation; this is to be lamented, but not to be helped. Such frequently are the exigencies of a State, and such always the crookedness and depravity of the heart of man, that were you to deal openly, to tell all that you mean, all that you know, and all that you aim at, you would expose your Country to ruin, and yourself to scorn, perhaps to the block. The most that can be done is to save appearances, and be wary of what expressions are used; for, upon these occasions, and many others, men are not to be upbraided for their silence. I know some who have gone through nice Embassies, some who have concluded intricate Negotiations, others who have administered the highest Offices, and still preserved the character of high Honour, and untainted Veracity. This shews the thing to be possible; and a promise or assurance, just given to serve a turn, and therefore not observed afterwards, does often more injury to him who made it, than the serving that turn did good. Cardinal Richelieu was not liberal of money nor promises; but he always performed more than he undertook; hence the zeal and firm adherence of all who depended upon him. Cardinal Mazarin denied nothing, performed nothing, was believed in nothing, and his ill faith was become proverbial; hence no man was ever more hated, no man in his station more despised; he could never rely upon any party, for he deceived all parties and all particulars; and nothing could support him but the blind obstinacy of the Queen Regent, and the mere weight of Royal Power armed in his defence; but in spite of the Queen and the Authority Royal, he was forced to run and sculk for his life. The Parliament set a price Edition: current; Page: [211]upon his head, and issued ordinances to the people to fall upon him as a public Enemy. Yet he had never carried Sovereign Power so high as his Predecessor, nor ever exerted it so terribly; but he had no faith nor honour, and therefore no personal friends. To this hour, Richelieu is considered as a Minister, who, though arbitrary and severe, was yet an elevated genius, and a man of veracity to particulars; Mazarin, as a man not rigorous indeed, nor vindictive, but sordid, addicted to low cunning and lyes, and with all the eclat of a great Minister unable to hide the little tricking Italian.

Craftiness is a despicable quality, and undoes itself; he who has it, and acts by it, can never disguise it long; and when it becomes apparent, it becomes impotent, arms every body against it, brings hatred or ridicule, at best is perfectly useless; and the man, even when he deals uprightly, is suspected to mean knavishly. What gained Tiberius by all his profound subtlety and wiles, but to have his best actions ill construed, and his sincerest professions to be disbelieved d ? What gained Philip the second of Spain by that strange and intricate scene of false Politics, concerted to transfer his own guilt upon the head of his Minister Antonio Perez; but to bring home the just imputation of that guilt to his own door, and to produce full proof, where before there was only suspicion? Sincerity is very consistent with human prudence, and often a part of it, considering the reputation that always attends it; and men even in Courts may be very upright, without being unguarded; nor can Courtiers ever do business with one another without some openness and candour. I have seen it asserted somewhere, that people are oftner deceived by distrust than by Edition: current; Page: [212]acts of confidence. I have observed as plain dealing in Courtiers as in any other sort of men in the world. It is ridiculous to carry reserve and deepness into every thing. I know not a more contemptible sort of men than such as mimic business and mystery; I have seen some subaltern Courtiers look as important, demure and wary, as if they had carried great matters, and even the weight of the State upon their shoulders. This affectation serves to raise their credit amongst their servants and artificers in town, and in the country amongst their tenants and neighbours, and diverts better judges. There are others who really believe themselves to be in secrets; who take shrugs and nods, mere words and shadows for real confidence and communication; and live in happy ignorance, under the conceit of high trust and intelligence. Some few too there are, who, besides despising the foppery of being thought trusted where they are not, are careful to hide it from the world when they are. ’Tis men of this turn who chiefly do credit to a Court; and whoever does it credit, does it service.

Sect. V.: How much worthless People abound in Courts, and why.

AS in a great family, where there are numerous domestics, in spite of all the care that can be taken to examine the Characters of servants when they are admitted, or to regulate and watch their behaviour afterwards, there will be some still unworthy of their places, and a discredit to their master; how much more so must it be in a Court, where not only the officers, but even the offices are so numerous; where so many have a right to prefer or recommend, and where so many do both from strange, wretched, and selfish motives, nay, often for considerations altogether dishonourable and scandalous? It is therefore Edition: current; Page: [213]no wonder, that though the politest men are always found at Court, so likewise are always a strange rabble of creatures, ignorant, mercenary, ridiculous and disagreeable, who owe their preferment to chance, whim, money, dirty services, to names, affinities, nay, to impudence and folly; and one who has no pretences to any thing else, neither to education, nor capacity, nor honour, nor spirit, nor even to good looks and common sense, shall find pretences to a place, and probably get one. Nor is this to be remedied; since he who gives it does not chuse, but take, and has often stronger reasons to oblige the recommender, than to reject the recommended. I have known a friend, nay, a relation of a great Minister, disappointed twice of an Office which was even intended for him, but by potent intercession was bestowed elsewhere; the first time, upon one whom the Minister knew not, whom the Recommender knew not, nor whom even the Lady who spoke for him knew; but one who for a sum of money engaged a Gentleman’s Valet de Chambre to engage the Lady’s Woman whom the Valet courted, to engage her Lady whom she governed, to engage the last Recommender, who undertook it, and succeeded. He who had the first pretences was again put by upon a vacancy, and a creature put in, whom the Minister was known to despise, and almost to loath; but sacrificed his opinion, his aversion, and his friend to mediation not more honourably obtained. At so critical a juncture as that of a Rebellion, I have heard of one who by a Letter written with the same pen which he had used in corresponding with the Rebels, procured a handsome provision for his brother, who wished the Rebels as well as he, and had distinguished himself in a very public place by acts of disaffection, and disloyal healths. Nor in this instance was there any money or intrigue at all; the Recommender had only once told a hearty lye for a Edition: current; Page: [214]great man in a nice case, and sworn to it; hence his merit and influence. For an act of honour or spirit, done to serve the Public, he might perhaps have found less regard, perhaps not so much as access; as befel some who did.

It is certain, great men often prefer such as they dislike, and such as do them no credit, sometimes with their eyes open, frequently through misinformation, and in both cases through solicitation and importunity. Men of merit often want interest, often application and boldness; whereas one who has no one worthy qualification, is the more likely to have importunity and shamelessness. It has indeed been often a notable advantage to a man, that he had not sense enough to be ashamed nor baulked; nay, I have known such a negative accomplishment to be the making of his fortune. A rational man will take a rational answer, or even a trifling one, when he sees it meant for a rebuke or a refusal; or perhaps he has too much pride to press and beseech, or to ask above once; but he who has no understanding to mislead him from his interest; or to apprehend what is said to him; he who is incapable of a repulse, or to be ashamed of begging and teasing; but has an unchangeable front and unwearied nonsense, stands in a fair light to have his pretences considered. Though he cannot persuade, he can tire; and he finds the fruit and advantage of talents in the absolute want of them; he is despised and promoted; a little share of good sense and modesty, would have ruined him, and he might then have been neither disliked nor minded.

Such is the force of recommendation without reason, or against it; and such too the power of assiduity unincumbered with parts! There are strange inconsistencies in the make, and turn, and education of men. There are those who can calmly encounter death and terrors in any shape, yet shall tremble in Edition: current; Page: [215]speaking two or three words to a Secretary of State; a task which would not baulk a common Footman. Others can harangue readily and boldly before a great Assembly, yet are struck dumb in the company of Women, a place where a Page, or an ignorant Beau, can be entertaining and eloquent. Some have talents, but not the use of them. Many have capacity, but want application; many are hurt by too much application not directed by capacity; several have good sense and activity, and can apply both to serve a friend, but neither to do good to themselves. In some you find excellent parts frustrated by predominant passions; in others eminent courage and spirit drowned and depreciated by a modesty almost childish; and numbers there are who, under a notorious defect of ability, acquirements, and every amiable quality, are pushed up as high as any of these could have pushed them, perhaps much higher than all of them would. So that, in the odd assortment of human things, Fortune would seem to correspond with the caprice and wantonness of Nature.

I have already owned that it is impossible to keep many worthless people out of a Court, considering how many ways there are to get in; but owing to such is a good measure of the obloquy usually thrown upon Courts and ministers; as the falshood, the low tricks and spirit of these Underlings, are all ascribed to the genius of the place and of power; and under the character of insincerity and ingratitude, it is usual in popular discourse and opinion, though it is really very unjust, to throw all Courtiers together. I even believe that there are some of them foolish and base enough to like the reputation of slipperiness and deceiving, for the sake of being thought good Courtiers. From the numbers too and little minds of such, we may account for the general outcry and reproach which from that quarter usually follow any worthy Minister fallen into disgrace. They are for Edition: current; Page: [216]the Powers that be; and though they be the work of his hands, were thrust into place by his late might, and are still basking in the Sun-shine which he let in upon them; yet they are ready not only to leave a falling house, but to help pull it down. It is the temper of Renegadoes. The celebrated Sancho was first warmly in the interest of the injured Basil, one who had lost his Mistress for no want of merit, but through the superior wealth of his rival Gamacho; yet the savory skimmings and loaded ladles out of Gamacho’s kettles, so effectually turned the supple spirit of that courtly Squire, that, without more ceremony, he began to justify and extol the happy supplanter, and to rail plentifully at poor Basil under misfortune and disgrace.

What can Ministers expect, when they have raised such dust, but that with the first contrary wind, it will be blown into their eyes? Mean spirits, selfish and impudent, can never take the impressions of gratitude and honour; no more than such as are modest and generous can ever be ungrateful or base. Yet hard is the task to weed a Court of such; not only because the same interest that recommends, does likewise protect; but because there are so many Candidates ready to fill their places, and supported by so many Patrons and Intercessors, that more will be disobliged than can be gratified by the change; and after all perhaps the fresh comer may not prove the more deserving man. Neither can the great Officers easily cure the exorbitances and exactions of the inferior; especially when the same are become common and inveterate. All men, even the greatest men desire to live easy with those they have daily to do with, and will not care to incur the clamour and curses of Subalterns; who, though they are but small men, yet being numerous, and supported by all who are interested in corruption, are able by continual complaints Edition: current; Page: [217]and noise, to weaken the credit of the most puissant Minister, and to make him very uneasy.

Sect. VI.: The remarkable Fickleness and Insincerity of Courtiers.

I Had once an opportunity of seeing the steadiness and gratitude of Courtiers put to trial, upon an apprehension of a change in the ministry. I was strictly curious in my observations and inquiries; and my discoveries were such, as have fully confirmed me in all my former and present sentiments of these people. There were some who gave proofs of signal friendship and constancy to the standing Ministry; several were wary and silent, but many made preposterous haste to shew their levity and selfishness; and, from the behaviour of most, there arose warning enough, even to greatness itself, to rely for its best security upon wisdom and innocence.

A little before the death of Tiberius, then past hopes, he was reported to be dead. Instantly the Courtiers crowded about Caligula the next heir, with a torrent of congratulations and zeal; and he was going forth, thus attended, to assume the pomp and exercise of Sovereignty, when sudden tideings came, that the Emperor, who had lain some time in a swoon, was revived, and calling for some refreshment to strengthen his spirits. Instant terror seized all; most of them dispersed and fled; some assumed an air of mourning; many feigned utter ignorance. Caligula was struck speechless, and, from the highest hopes, expecting his last doom. Macro only remained undaunted; he commanded the ancient Emperor to be smothered with a great weight of coverings, having first ordered every body to quit the chamber.

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Amongst the many good things, and excellent sense in the Memoirs of Cardinal De Retz, there occur frequent pictures of the Court, particularly upon the beginning of the Commotions in Paris. At the Palace Royal, and especially in the Cabinet, upon that occasion, every individual assumed a person, and acted a part. The Coadjutor acted the innocent and the dupe, but was not so. Mazarin affected to appear resolute, but appeared more so than he was. By starts and intervals the Queen counterfeited great temper and gentleness; yet had been at no time more bitter and enraged. The Duke De Longueville feigned extreme affliction, yet felt a sensible joy, as he was the man in the world the most delighted with the beginnings of all affairs. The Duke of Orleans, in speaking to the Queen, shewed great warmth and vehemence, but presently after fell a whistling (a usual habit of his) with all the indolence in the world. The Marshal De Villeroy displayed gayety and unconcern, to make his Court to Mazarin; but to the Coadjutor he owned, with tears in his eyes, that the State was upon the brink of a precipice. Mr. De Beautru and Mr. De Nogent, played the buffoons, to humour the Queen, and drolled upon the commotion; though both these men knew well, that, in all probability, this farce of theirs would too soon be followed by a Tragedy. The Abbé De La Riviere only, though the most notorious poltron of the age, was persuaded that this popular insurrection was but smoke; this he maintained stiffly to the Queen, and this pleased her. To fill up the complement of Actors, the Marshal De La Meilleraie, who had hitherto joined with the Coadjutor in representing the terrors and consequences of the tumult, all on a sudden changed his past part, and took that of the Champion, with a different tone and other sentiments; in an instant Edition: current; Page: [219]he was all rage, and contempt, and defiance. Mem. De Retz, vol. 1. p. 122.

In short, the Queen and the Cardinal took every one who told them truth, for a certain enemy to themselves, and for a promoter, at least a secret wellwisher, of the revolt. When this was the reward of plain-dealing, who would venture his place and favour by dealing plainly? Thus, for want of honest information, and sincere advisers, and by suspecting or disbelieving such as were so, the State had nigh perished. The whole detail in De Retz is full of curious incidents, full of strong and just reflections; as is almost the whole Book.

DISCOURSE X.: Of Armies and Conquest.

Sect. I.: The Burden and Danger of maintaining great Armies.

TOO many Princes are infatuated with false notions of Glory, and thence delight in War. Without doubt it is true Glory to excel in war, where war is necessary; but in the whole course of History, where one has been so, twenty have been otherwise; and to engage in it from the wantonness of ambition, or for the sake of Laurel, or through peevishness and humour, is to risque the blood, and treasure, and people, and being of a State, for the foppery of false Heroism: or to sacrifice the same to the selfish and inglorious view of making a Country (either that which conquers, or that which is conquered, or both) the prey of the Hero. For such has been generally the logic of the Sword, that because it has saved, it may Edition: current; Page: [220]therefore oppress and enthral, and for defending a part, take the whole. Wars beget great Armies; Armies beget great Taxes; heavy Taxes waste and impoverish the Country, even where Armies commit no violences; a case seldom to be supposed, bebause it has seldom happened. But where great Armies are, they must be employed, and do mischief abroad, to keep them from doing it at home; so that the people must be exhausted and oppressed to keep the men of the sword in exercise.

The great Turk, to keep the swords of the Janizaries from his own throat, is forced to plague his neighbours, even where he earns nothing but blows and disgrace; and thence increases the danger which he would avert; for, as by his Armies he makes all men slaves, he himself is a slave to his Armies, and often their victim; or, to escape himself, is frequently forced to satiate their fury by the blood of his bravest Officers, and best Counsellors. If it be the Glory of his Monarchy, that he can put the greatest men and all men to death, without reason, or form, or process; he is subject in his own person to the same lawless and expeditious butchery, from his own outrageous slaves, who being not accustomed to receive any Law from him, give him none, whenever he is in their power, which is as often as they think fit; and he who is a Prince of slaves, is adjudged by slaves, and dies like the meanest slave. What is there to save him? His people who are oppressed, want the inclination, and being unarmed, the power. So that he lives in personal servitude to those who are the instruments of public Servitude; and as others must die to please him, so must he to please them. It is the Law of retaliation, and operates as often as its causes operate, namely, caprice, or rage, or fear. This is the blessing of being absolute, and unfettered by human constitutions; the same sword which is lifted up for you Edition: current; Page: [221]at the command of whim or passion, is with the like wantonness lifted up against you; and if you reign in blood, you must not think it strange to die in it.

Sect. II.: Great Armies the best disciplined, whether thence the less formidable to a Country. Their Temper and Views.

IN regard to public Liberty, Armies the best disciplined are not less to be dreaded than the worst, but I think, more; since their relaxation of discipline takes away from their union and sufficiency; it renders them weaker and less equal to mighty mischief; but where they are strict and united, the highest iniquities are not too big for them. Disorderly Troops may rob particulars, ravage towns, and harass a Country; but if you would subdue Nations, commit universal spoil, and enslave Empires, your forces must be under the best regulations. It was with an Army victorious and brave, and consequently well disciplined, that Agathocles slaughtered all the Nobles of Syracuse, and brought that illustrious State (the noblest of all the Greek Cities) under bondage. Cromwell’s conquest of his Country was made by Troops the most sober and best disciplined that this, or perhaps any other nation, had ever seen. And it was with the best of all the Roman Armies, that Cæsar established himself Tyrant of Rome.

Soldiers know little else but booty, and blind obedience; whatever their interest, or rapacity dictates, they generally will do; and whatever their officers command, they must do. It is their profession to dispute by force, and the sword; they too soon learn their own power, and where it is an overbalance for the Civil Power, it will always controul Edition: current; Page: [222]the Civil Power, and all things a . They find readily somewhat to say; the strongest is ever the best disputant, when he carries his reasons upon the point of his sword b . They have done great services, they have suffered great wrongs, and will therefore reward and redress themselves. It is the reasoning of Cæsar c . It is nothing to the purpose to say, that an Army listed amongst the natives, especially the officers being natives, and many of them men of fortune, will never hurt or oppress their Country; for such were Cromwell’s Army, such were Cæsar’s, and many other enslaving Armies; besides Armies are soon modelled, and Officers who are obnoxious, are soon changed.

No Government can subsist but by force, and where-ever that force lies, there it is that Government is or soon will be. Free States therefore have preserved themselves, and their Liberties, by arming all their people, because all the people are interested in preserving those Liberties; by drawing out numbers of them thus armed, to serve their Country occasionally, and by dissolving them (when that occasion was over) into the mass of the people again; by often changing the chief Officers, or, if they continued the same, by letting their commissions be temporary, and always subject to the controul of the supreme Power, often to that of other co-ordinate Power, as the Dutch Generals are to the Deputies. It is indeed but rare, that States who have not taken such precaution, have not lost their Liberties; their Generals have set up for themselves, and turned Edition: current; Page: [223]the Arms put into their hands against their Masters. This did Marius, Sylla, Cæsar, Dionysius, Agathocles, Charles Martel, Oliver Cromwell, and many others; and this they all did by the same means: it is still frequently done in the Eastern Monarchies; and by the same means all the Christian Princes of Europe, who were arbitrary, became so. For as the experience of all ages shews us, that all men’s views are to attain dominion and riches, it is ridiculous to hope, that they will not use the means in their power to attain them, and madness to trust them with those means. They will never want pretences, either from their own fafety, or the public Good, to justify the measures which have succeeded; and they know well, that the success will always justify itself; that great numbers will be found to sanctify their power; most of the rest will submit to it, and in time will think it just and necessary; perhaps at last believe it to be obtained miraculously, and to have been the immediate act of Heaven.

Sect. III.: Princes ruling by military Power, ever at the Mercy of military Men.

AS by these means private men often come at Sovereign Power; so limited Princes often become arbitrary; but one mischief is inseparable from this sort of Government; they generally lose their Authority by the same method they get it. For, having attained it by violence, they are obliged to keep it by violence; and that cannot be done but by engaging in the interest of their Oppression a body of men, strong enough to maintain it; and it will for the most part happen, that as these men have no interest but their own in serving a Tyrant, so when that interest ceases, and they can serve themselves better in destroying him, they seldom fail of Edition: current; Page: [224]doing it. In fact we find, that in all the great despotic Governments in the world the Monarchs are slaves to their soldiery, and they murder and depose their Princes just according to their caprices. The General sets up any of the Princes of the blood, whom he thinks most for his interest, and often-times upon the death of the Possessor they are all set up, by one part of the Army or other, (if one cannot get all the rest into his power, and murder them) and the Civil War continues, till one has slaughtered all his rivals.

If this is not done in the modern absolute Governments of Europe, it is because despotic Power is not so thoroughly established there, and the people have yet some share of Property, and consequently of Power; but still they do it as much as they dare; in some instances they have set up themselves, and in almost all have been the principal engines and instruments in working about Revolutions, according to their own inclinations and disgusts. Of this we had many instances in our own Country, within the compass of not many years.

How much easier is it to corrupt a few leading Officers, often necessitous, generally ambitious, than to persuade a whole Kingdom, if they are well governed, to destroy themselves? Some will be disobliged, because not preferred to their wishes, or because others are preferred before them; they will differ according to their countries or their interests about the person to be their General, and to have the power of preferring or recommending Officers; and that part which is disappointed shall be a faction against that which succeeds. Where-ever Commissions are venal, there will be no difficulty of buying those, who are disaffected, into them, if they can disguise their disaffection till a proper opportunity. In a Country where factions abound, and those at the helm can find any account in keeping measures Edition: current; Page: [225]with a contrary faction, Officers will be put in to oblige that faction, sometimes to gratify friends or favourites; at different times, others will be discarded, to oblige one party, or to mortify the other. New men, by private recommendation or money, shall supercede old Officers; this will create new dissatisfactions and disgusts, as soon as they dare shew them. When the Administration is changed, and another party gets uppermost, all those things shall be done over again; so that at last an Army shall be a medley of all the factions of a Kingdom; and all their preferments and expectations depending upon the success of those factions; each individual will take every safe opportunity to advance his own; and for the most part one or other of these factions, sometimes all, are ready to join in shuffling the cards anew; the sure prelude of a Civil War.

This is and ever must be the case of all Countries which subsist by standing Armies. For there are few instances in History, to be given of Armies who did not play their own game, in times of distress; few instances of disobliged or unpreferred Officers, who did not change sides; too many have made their peace by some remarkable act of treachery; very often they have done it only from the motives of ambition and avarice. I wish that we never had had instances amongst ourselves of any who have done the same; or even of Generals who played a double game. What Oliver Cromwell, Monk, and very many both of the King’s and of the Parliament Officers did in the Civil War, we all know, as well as what King James’s Army did more lately: I wish we equally knew what intrigues of this kind have been carrying on since. In Civil Wars amongst men of the same Country, the communication is so easy between friends, relations and former acquaintance, that there is a very ready transition from one side to another; Edition: current; Page: [226]and a little success, small intrigues, and a few advantages generally make that transition.

Sect. IV.: Instances of the Boldness and Fury of the Roman Soldiery.

IT is astonishing from what light and wanton motives, by what vile and contemptible instruments, Armies are often instigated to violence and ravages. The sedition of that in Pannonia, after the death of Augustus, was raised by one common soldier, inflamed by another; rapine and massacres were committed or defended by almost all; they murdered their Officers; even their General had like to have been murdered, upon the credit of an impudent lie told by one of these vile incendiaries, who yet could scarce alledge any other grievance than that they had not too much pay, and too little discipline. Nor was the insurrection, excited by these two fellows, restrained to the Pannonian Legions only, but extended to those in Germany, who waxed into fury rather greater, and outraged all things human and divine.

It was one common soldier who gave the Empire to Claudius, by saluting him Emperor, while the poor dastardly wretch was lurking in a corner, and expecting death instead of Sovereignty. Under Galba two private Centinels undertook to transfer the Empire to another, and actually transferred it. It is shocking to reflect with what eagerness these blood-thirsty assassins hastened to murder that good old Prince, for no charge of misgovernment, nor for defrauding them of their pay; but because he would not exhaust the Public to glut them with bounties. They were such abandoned Russians, that they sought to kill Marius Celsus, purely because as he was an able and virtuous man, Edition: current; Page: [227]they judged him an enemy to themselves who delighted only in blood, and wickedness, and spoil. It would require a volume to recount the behaviour, the treacherous and inhuman exploits of these sons of violence thenceforward; their murdering and promoting of Emperors, sometimes two or three, sometimes more, once thirty at a time; their selling the Empire for money; their besieging and threatning to massacre the Senate; their burning the Capitol, setting fire to the Imperial City, pillaging and butchering its inhabitants, and using them like slaves and captives; with other instances of their insolence, barbarity, and misrule. In the third and fourth Volumes of this Work much of this will be seen, recounted by Tacitus.

The Gothic Governments were military in their first settlement; the General was King, the Officers were the Nobles, and the Soldiers their Tenants; but by the nature of the settlement, out of an Army a Country Militia was produced. The Prince had many occasional troops, but no standing troops; hence he grew not absolute, like the Great Turk; who having cantoned out the conquered Countries amongst his horsemen, must by doing it have lost his arbitrary Power, but that he kept a large body of men in arms, called the Janizaries.

Great Britain has preserved its Liberties so long, because it has preserved itself from great standing Armies; which, where-ever they are strong enough to master their Country, will certainly first or last master it. Some troops we must have for guards and garisons, enough to prevent sudden Insurrections, and sudden Revolutions. What numbers are sufficient for this, the experience of past times, and the sense of our Parliaments, have shewn.

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Sect. V.: The Humour of conquering, how injudicious, vain, and destructive.

THE Athenians began the ruin of their State, by a mad and expensive War upon Sicily; and from an ambition of conquering a people who had never offended them, exposed themselves to the attacks of the Lacedemonians, to the revolt of their own subjects, to domestic disorders, and the change of their Government. And though upon the recalling of Alcibiades, they won some victories, and for a while made some figure; they were at last conquered intirely by Lysander, their walls thrown down, the States subject to them set at liberty, and they themselves subjected to the domination of thirty Tyrants. They never after recovered their former Glory. The Lacedemonians fell afterwards into the same warlike folly, and their folly had the same fate. By lording over Greece they drew upon themselves a combination of Greek Cities, which together (especially the Thebans under the famous Epaminondas) despoiled them of their Authority, soon after their triumph over Athens. The Thebans too abused their good fortune; they were equally fond of fighting and conquest, and by it drew another confederacy against them. In truth, everyone of these States had been so long weakening themselves, and one another, by their propensity to War, that at last they fell under servitude to the Kings of Macedon, a Country formerly depending upon, or rather under vassalage to Athens and Sparta.

These States acted like some of the Princes of our time; by trusting to their own superior Prowess, they invaded their neighbours, and taught them Art enough to beat themselves. Thus the Muscovite, Edition: current; Page: [229]by falling upon the late King of Sweden, yet in his minority, roused a tempest that had well nigh overturned his Throne; and thus that King, by refusing the most honourable conditions of peace, and by urging his fate and revenge too far, taught the Russians that bravery and discipline which nothing could ever teach them before; saw his own brave Army utterly routed by forces that he despised; himself driven from his dominions, and a fugitive in a Country of Infidels; and his Provinces cantoned out amongst enemies, who, before he had tempted his good fortune to leave him, would have been glad to have compounded with him for a moiety of their own dominions.

Charles Duke of Burgundy had his head so turned with gaining the battel of Montl’hery, that he never listened afterwards to any counsel, but that of his own headstrong humour; nor ceased plunging himself into Wars, till in that against the Switzers, who had given him no just provocation, he lost his Army, his dominions, and his life. If Philip the second had kept his oath with the Low Countries, he might have preserved his Authority over them all. But nothing less would humour his pride than the subduing of their Liberties and Conscience; and in defence of their Conscience and Property, he drove them to the use of Arms, which a people employed in trade and manufacture, as they were, had no list to, nor skill in. Every body knows the issue; he lost the seven Provinces and their Revenue for ever, with many millions of money, and almost half a million of lives thrown away to recover them. By his mighty and boasted Armada designed to conquer England, what else did he conquer but his own Power at sea? He had prepared, he had been for some years preparing, a naval force mighty as his own arrogance; but it all proved to be only measures taken for baffling his arrogance, and for destroying Edition: current; Page: [230]the maritime force of Spain; and all the while that he was vainly meditating the destruction of England, he was in reality taking the part of England against himself, and, with all his might, weakening its greatest enemy. Had he husbanded that mighty strength; had he employed it at times, and in parcels, against these dominions, he might have had some success; but he combined against his own hopes.

How foolish is the reasoning of passion! It leads men to throw away strength to gain weakness. Even where these sons of violence succeed, they may be justly said to acquire nothing, beyond the praise of mischief. What is the occupation and end of Princes and Governors, but to rule men for their good, and to keep them from hurting one another? Now what Conqueror is there who mends the condition of the conquered? Alexander the Great, though he well knew the difference between a limited and a lawless Monarchy, did not pretend, that his invasion of Persia was to mend the condition of the Persians. It was a pure struggle for dominion; when he had gained it, he assumed the Throne upon the same arbitrary terms upon which their own Monarchs had held it, nor knew any Law but his will. The subject only felt the violence of the change, without any benefit or relaxation from slavery. His Glory therefore is all false and deceitful, as is all Glory which is gained by the blood of men, without mending the state of mankind. This spirit of fighting and conquering continued in his Successors, who plagued the earth as he had done, and weltered in the blood of one another, till they were almost all destroyed by the sword or poison, with the whole family of Alexander. It was no part of the dispute amongst them, which of them could bestow most happiness upon the afflicted world, about which Edition: current; Page: [231]they strove, but who should best exalt himself, and enslave all.

The State of Carthage after many Countries conquered, but not bettered by her Arms, was almost dissolved by her own barbarous Mercenaries, and at last conquered and destroyed by the Romans; who were in truth the most generous conquerors that the world has known: and most Countries found the Roman Government better than their own. This continued for some time, till their Provincial Magistrates grew rapacious, and turned the Provinces into spoil. Rome itself perished by her conquests, which being made by great Armies, occasioned such power and insolence in their Commanders, and set some Citizens so high above the rest, an inequality pernicious to free States, that she was enslaved by ingrates whom she had employed to defend her. Rome vanquished foreign nations; foreign luxury debauched Rome, and traiterous Citizens seized upon their mother with all her acquisitions. All her great blaze and grandeur, served only to make her wretchedness more conspicious, and her chains more intensely felt. Upon her thraldom there ensued such a series of Tyranny and misery, treachery, oppression, cruelty, death and affliction, in all shapes; that her agonies were scarce ever suspended till she finally expired. When her own Tyrants, become through Tyranny impotent, could no longer afflict her, for protection was none of their business; a host of Barbarians, only known for ravages, and acts of inhumanity, finished the work of desolation, and closed her civil doom. She has been since racked under a Tyranny more painful, as it is more slow; and more base, as it is scarce a domination of men; I mean her vassalage to a sort of beings of all others the most merciless and contemptible, Monks and Spectres.

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Sect. VI.: The Folly of conquering further urged and exemplified.

THE Turks, like other Conquerors, know not when to leave off. They sacrifice the people to gain more territories; and the more they conquer, the greater is their loss. They lavish men and treasure, to gain waste ground. What is the use of earth and water, where there are no Inhabitants for these elements to support? The strength of a Government consists in numerous subjects industrious and happy; not in extent of territory desolate or ill peopled, or peopled with inhabitants poor and idle. It is incredible what a profusion of wealth and lives their attempts upon Persia have cost them, always with fatal success, even under their wisest and most warlike Princes; and at a time when their Empire flourished most. Yet these attempts are continued, at a season when their Affairs are at the lowest; their Provinces exhausted, their people and revenue decayed, their soldiery disorderly, and all things conspiring to the final dissolution of their Empire.

Those who will be continually exerting their whole strength, whether they be societies or particular men, will at last have none to exert. The Turks have been for ages wasting their vitals to widen their extremities, and to extend their limbs; which, by being unnaturally stretched, are quite disjointed and benumbed for want of nourishment from the seat of life; and must therefore, like mortified members, soon drop off; they have been long spinning out their own vitals. Now if they had conquered Persia, what benefit would the conquest have derived to the Persians? None at all; but on the contrary, fresh oppression, and probably persecution; since the Turks deem them Heretics for the colour of their caps, and for their obstinate Edition: current; Page: [233]refusal to change one name for another in the list of Mahomet’s Successors.

Thus these Barbarians destroy themselves to destroy others; and Christian Princes imitate these Barbarians. The Spaniard, to secure to himself the possession of America, destroyed more lives than he had subjects in Europe; and his mighty Empire there, with his mountains of treasure, bears indeed an awful sound; yet it is allowed that he has lost much more than he got, besides the crying guilt of murdering a large part of the globe. His conquests there, together with his expulsion of the Moors at home, have dispeopled Spain; and the inhabitants who remain trusting to their American wealth, are too proud and lazy to be industrious; so that most of their gold goes to other nations for the manufactures wanted in the Spanish West-Indies. Hence multitudes and diligence (and diligence often creates multitudes, as by multitudes diligence is created) are better than mountains of gold, and will certainly attract such mountains; though others have the name and first property. Had he kept the industrious Moors, and expelled the barbarous Inquisitors; encouraged Liberty and Trade, and consequently Liberty of Conscience, Spain would have been a more powerful nation, and he consequently a greater King, than all his wide and guilty conquests have made him. Sir Walter Raleigh says, that the Low Countries alone did, for revenue, equal his West-Indies. Notwithstanding his many Kingdoms, his Empire in both Hemispheres, and that the sun never sets upon all his dominions at once, the small Republic of Holland, small in compass of territory, has been an overmatch for him.

A late neighbouring Prince was a busy Conqueror. But did his People and Country gain by his conquests? He drained them of men and money by Edition: current; Page: [234]millions, only to add to their poverty servitude and wretchedness, and from their chains and misery derived his own Glory. Nor do I know any reason why a Prince, who reduces his People, his Nobles, and all degrees of men in his Dominions, to poverty and littleness, should have the title of Great, unless for the greatness of the evils which he brought upon his own Kingdom and all Europe. Let the late and present condition of that Monarchy declare, what advantages that noble Country owes to his Glory and Victories. Had it not been for his wanton Wars and oppressive Taxes, there is no pitch of felicity which the goodness of their soil and climate, the number and industry of the natives, their many manufactures, and the advantage of their situation, might not have raised them to. But all was sacrificed to the Ambition and Bigotry of one. How many resources that Kingdom has within itself; and to what happiness it is capable of rising under a just and gentle Administration, is manifest from the suddenness with which it recovered itself under the good Government of Henry the fourth; how many millions it paid, how many put into the Exchequer; and what a flourishing condition it was arrived to, after so fierce, so long, and so consuming a Civil War, and after two such profuse and profligate Reigns, as that of Charles the Ninth, and that of Henry the Third. But what avails all this, when one short Edict, and the maggot of a minute, can dissipate all its wealth and all its happiness?

I might here display what ridiculous causes do often pique and awaken the vanity and ambition of Princes, and prompt them to lavish lives and treasure, and utterly undo those whom they should tenderly protect. For a beast of burden, or even for the tooth of a beast; for a mistress, for a river, for a senseless word hastily spoken, for words that had Edition: current; Page: [235]a foolish meaning, or no meaning at all; for an empty sepulchre or an empty title; to dry the tears of a coquette, to comply with the whims of a pedant, or to execute the curses of a bigot; important Wars have sometimes been waged, and nations animated to destroy one another; nor is there any security against such destructive follies, where the sense of every man must acquiesce in the wild passion of one; and where the interest and peace, and preservation of a State, are found too light to ballance his rage or caprice. Hence the policy of the Romans to tame a people not easy to be subdued; they committed such to the domination of Tyrants. Thus they did in Armenia, and thus in Britain e . And these instruments did not only enslave their subjects, but by continual fighting with one another, consume them.

Necessary Wars are accompanied with evils more than enough; and who can bear or forgive calamities courted and sought? The Roman State owed her greatness in a good measure to a misfortune; it was founded in War, and nourished by it. The same may be said of the Turkish Monarchy. But States formed for peace, though they do not arrive to such immensity and grandeur, are more lasting and secure; witness Sparta and Venice. The former lasted eight hundred years, and the other has lasted twelve hundred, without any Revolution; what errors they both committed, were owing to their attempts to conquer, for which they were not formed; though the Spartans were exceeding brave and victorious; but they wanted the Plebs ingenua, which formed the strength of the Edition: current; Page: [236]Roman Armies; as the Janizaries, a militia formerly excellently trained and disciplined, formed those of the Turk. With the latter, fighting and extending their dominions, is an article of their Religion, as false and barbarous in this as in many of its other principles, and as little calculated for the good of men.

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THE ANNALS OF TACITUS.

BOOK I.

The SUMMARY.

ENumeration of the several changes in the Government of Rome. The State of Rome under Augustus; his politicks, death and character; with the arts and dissimulation of Tiberius. Revolt of the Legions in Pannonia, and in Germany; the Conduct of Germanicus upon that occasion, and also against the common enemy, with his success and victories. The death and character of Julia, daughter of Augustus: Plays instituted in his honour. Germanicus makes another expedition against the German nations, and subdues them; frees Segestes from the violence of Arminius, and is for his exploits saluted Imperator; continues the war in Germany, recovers and buries the remains of Varus’s Legions. The difficulties which befel Cæcina in his march, with his bravery and success in overcoming them. The Law of violated Majesty, greatly extended and severely executed. An Inundation from the Tiber. Licentiousness of the Theatres, and the insolence of Players, checked by a Decree of Senate. Measures proposed for restraining the overflowing of the Tiber, but opposed by several Communities of Italy. Tiberius seldom changes the Governors of Provinces, and why. His dark and crafty conduct upon the Election of Magistrates at Rome.

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KINGS were the original Magistrates of Rome. Lucius Brutus founded Liberty and the Consulship. Dictators were chosen only in pressing exigencies. Little more than two years prevailed the supreme power of the Decemvirate; and the consular jurisdiction of the military Tribunes, not very many. The domination of Cinna was but short; that of Sylla not long. The authority of Pompey and Crassus was quickly swallowed up in Cæsar; that of Lepidus and Anthony in Augustus. The Common-wealth, then long distressed and exhausted by civil dissensions, fell easily into his hands, and over her he assumed sovereign dominion, softened with the popular title of Prince of the Senate. But the several revolutions in the ancient free state of Rome, and all her happy or disastrous events, are already recorded by Writers of signal renown. Nor, even in the reign of Augustus, were there wanting Authors of distinction and genius to have composed his story, till by the prevailing spirit of flattery and abasement, they were checked. As to the succeeding Princes, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius and Nero; the dread of their tyranny, whilst they yet reigned, falsified their history; and after their fall, the fresh detestation of their cruelties inflamed their Historians. Hence my own design of recounting briefly certain incidents in the reign of Augustus, chiefly towards his latter end, and of entering afterwards more fully Edition: current; Page: [3]into that of Tiberius and the other three, unbiassed by any resentment, or any affection, the influences of such personal passions being far from me.

When after the fall of Brutus and Cassius there remained none to fight for the Common-wealth, and her arms were no longer in her own hands; when Sextus Pompeius was utterly defeated in Sicily, Lepidus bereft of his command, Marc Anthony slain; and of all the chiefs of the late Dictator’s party, only Octavius his nephew was left; he put off the invidious name of Triumvir, and stiling himself Consul, pretended that the jurisdiction attached to the Tribuneship was his highest aim, as in it the protection of the populace was his only view. But when once he had secured the Soldiery by liberality and donations, gained the People by store of provisions, and charmed all by the blessings and sweetness of publick peace, he began by politick gradations to exalt himself, and with his own power to consolidate the authority of the Senate, jurisdiction of the Magistrate, and weight and force of the Laws; usurpations, in which he was thwarted by no man; all the most determined Republicans had fallen in battle, or by the late sanguinary Proscriptions; and for the surviving Nobility, they were covered with wealth, and distinguished with publick honours, according to the measure of their debasement, and promptness to bondage. Add, that all who in the loss of publick freedom had gained private fortunes, preferred Edition: current; Page: [4]a servile condition, safe and possessed, to the revival of ancient Liberty with personal peril. Neither were the Provinces averse to the present Revolution; since, under the Government of the People and Senate, they had lived in constant fear and mistrust, from the raging competition amongst our Grandces, as well as from the rapine and exactions of our Magistrates. In vain too had been their appeal to the Laws, which were utterly enfeebled and borne down by violence, by parties; nay, even by subornation and money.

Moreover, Augustus, to fortify his domination with collateral bulwarks, raised his sister’s son Claudius Marcellus, a perfect youth, to the dignity of Pontiff and that of Edile; preferred Marcus Agrippa to two successive Consulships, a man in truth meanly born, but an accomplished soldier, and the companion of his victories; and (Marcellus, the husband of Julia, soon after dying) chose him for his son-in-law. Even the sons of his wife, Tiberius Nero and Claudius Drusus, he dignified with high military titles and commands; though his house was yet supported by descendants of his own blood. For into the Julian family and name of the Cæsars he had already adopted Lucius and Caius, the sons of Agrippa; and though they were but children, neither of them seventeen years old, vehement had been his ambition to see them declared Princes of the Roman Youth, and even designed to the Consulship; while openly he Edition: current; Page: [5]was protesting against admitting these early honours. Presently upon the decease of Agrippa, were these his children snatched away, either by their own natural, but hasty fate, or by the deadly fraud of their step-mother Livia; Lucius on his journey to command the armies in Spain, Caius in his return from Armenia, ill of a wound. And as Drusus, one of her own sons, had been long since dead, Tiberius remained sole candidate for the succession. Upon this object centered all princely honours; he was by Augustus adopted for his son, assumed Collegue in the Empire, partner in the jurisdiction tribunitial, and presented under all these dignities to the several armies; instances of grandeur which were no longer derived from the secret schemes of his mother, as in times past, while her husband had unexceptionable heirs of his own, but thenceforth bestowed at her open suit. For as Augustus was now very aged, she had obtained over him such absolute sway, that for her pleasure he banished into the Isle of Planasia his only surviving grandson Agrippa Postumus, destitute, in truth, of laudable accomplishments, in his temper untractable, and stupidly conceited of his mighty strength, but branded with no misdemeanour or transgression. The Emperor had withal set Germanicus, the son of Drusus, over eight legions quartered upon the Rhine, and obliged Tiberius to adopt him, though Tiberius had then a son of his own, Edition: current; Page: [6]one of competent years. But it was the study of Augustus, to secure himself and the succession by variety of stays and engraftments. War at that time there was none, except that in Germany, kept on foot rather to abolish the disgrace sustained by Quintilius Varus, there slain with his army, than from any ambition to enlarge the Empire, or for any other valuable advantage. In profound tranquillity were affairs at Rome. To the Magistrates remained their wonted names; of the Romans the younger sort had been born since the battle of Actium, and even most of the old during the civil wars: How few were then living who had seen the ancient free state!

The frame and œconomy of Rome being thus totally overturned, amongst the Romans were no longer found any traces of their primitive spirit, or attachment to the virtuous institutions of antiquity. But as the equality of the whole was extinguished by the sovereignty of one, all men regarded the orders of the Prince as the only rule of conduct and obedience; nor felt they any anxiety, while Augustus yet retained vigour of life, and upheld the credit of his administration with publick peace, and the imperial fortune of his house. But when he became broken with age and infirmities; when his end was at hand, and thence a new source of hopes and views was presented, some few there were who began to reason idly about the blessings and recovery of Edition: current; Page: [7]Liberty; many dreaded a civil war, others longed for one; while far the greater part were uttering their several apprehensions of their future masters; “that naturally stern and savage was the temper of Agrippa, and by his publick contumely enraged into fury; and neither in age nor experience was he equal to the weight of Empire. Tiberius indeed had arrived at fulness of years, and was a distinguished captain, but possessed the inveterate pride entailed upon the Claudian race; and many indications of a cruel nature escaped him, in spite of all his arts to disguise it; besides that from his early infancy he was trained up in a reigning house, and even in his youth inured to an accumulation of power and honours, consulships and triumphs. Nor during the several years of his abode at Rhodes, where, under the plausible name of retirement, a real banishment was covered, did he exercise other occupation than that of meditating future vengeance, studying the arts of treachery, and practising secret and abominable sensualities. Add to these considerations, that of his mother, a woman inspired with all the tyranny of her sex; that the Romans must be under bondage to a woman, and moreover enthralled by two youths, who would first combine to oppress the State, then falling into dissension, rend it piece-meal.”

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While the Public was engaged in these and the like debates, the illness of Augustus daily increased, and some strongly suspected the pestilent practices of his wife. For there had been, some months before, a rumour abroad, That Augustus, having singled out a few of his most faithful servants, and taken Fabius Maximus for his only companion, had sailed secretly over to the Island of Planasia, there to visit his Grandson Agrippa; that many tears were shed on both sides, many tokens of mutual tenderness shewn, and hopes from thence conceived, that the unhappy youth would be restored to his own place in his Grandfather’s family: That Maximus had disclosed it to Martia, she to Livia; and thence the Emperor knew that the secret was betrayed: That Maximus being soon after dead (dead, as it was doubted, through fear, by his own hands) Martia was observed, in her lamentations and groans at his funeral, to accuse herself as the sad cause of her husband’s destruction. Whatever truth was in all this, Tiberius was scarce entered Illyricum but he was hastily recalled by his mother’s letters. Nor is it fully known whether, at his return to Nola, he found Augustus yet breathing, or already breathless. For Livia had carefully beset the palace, and all the avenues to it, with detachments of the guards; and good news of his recovery were from time to time given out. When she had taken all measures necessary in so great a conjuncture, in one and the same moment was Edition: current; Page: [9]published the departure of Augustus, and the accession of Tiberius.

The first feat of this new reign was the murder of young Agrippa. The assassin, a bold and determined Centurion, found him destitute of arms, and little apprehending such a destiny, yet was scarce able to dispatch him. Of this transaction Tiberius avoided any mention in the Senate. He would have it pass for done by the commands of Augustus; as if he had transmitted written orders to the Tribune who guarded Agrippa, “to slay him the instant he heard of his Grandfather’s decease.” It is very true, that Augustus had made many and vehement complaints of the young man’s obstinate and unruly demeanour, and even solicited from the Senate a Decree to authorize his banishment; but he had never hardened himself against the sentiments of nature, nor in any instance dipt his hands in his own blood; neither is it credible that he would sacrifice the life of his grandson for the security and establishment of his step-son. More probable it is, that this hasty murder was purely the work of Tiberius and Livia; that the young Prince, hated and dreaded by both, fell thus untimely, to rid the one of his apprehensions and a rival, and to satiate in the other the rancorous spirit of a step-mother. When the Centurion, according to the custom of the army, acquainted Tiberius, “that his commands were executed”; he answered, “he had commanded no such execution, and the Edition: current; Page: [10]Centurion must appear before the Senate, and for it be answerable to them.” This alarmed Sallustius Crispus, who shared in all his secret counsels, and had sent the Centurion the warrant; he dreaded that he should be arraigned for the assassination, and knew it equally perilous either to confess the truth, and charge the Emperor; or falsly to clear the Emperor, and accuse himself. Hence he had recourse to Livia, and warned her, “never to divulge the secrets of the palace, never to expose to publick examination the ministers who advised, nor the soldiers who executed. Tiberius should beware of relaxing the Authority of the Prince, by referring all things to that of the Senate; since it was the indispensable Prerogative of Sovereignty, for all men to be accountable to one.”

Now at Rome, Consuls, Senators, and Roman Knights, were all rushing with emulation into bondage; the higher the quality of each, the more false and forward the men; all careful so to frame their faces, as to reconcile false joy for the accession of Tiberius, with feigned sadness for the loss of Augustus. Hence they intermingled tears with gladness, wailings with gratulations, and all with servile flattery. Sextus Pompeius and Sextus Apuleius, at that time Consuls, took first the oath of fidelity to Tiberius, then administered it to Seius Strabo and Caius Turranius, the former Captain of the Pretorian Guards, the other Intendant of the public stores. The oath was Edition: current; Page: [11]next given to the Senate, to the People, and to the Soldiery, all by the same Consuls. For Tiberius affected to derive all publick transactions from the legal ministry of the Consuls; as if the ancient Republick still subsisted, and he were yet unresolved about embracing the sovereign rule. He even owned in his Edict for summoning the Senate, that he issued it by virtue of the Tribunitial power, granted him under Augustus. The Edict too was short, and unexceptionably modest. It imported, that “they were to consider of the funeral honours proper to be paid his deceased Father; for himself he would not depart from the corps; and further than this edict implied, he claimed no share in the public administration.” Yet from the moment Augustus was dead, he usurped all the prerogatives of imperial State, gave the word to the Pretorian Cohorts, had soldiers about the palace, guards about his person, went guarded in the Street, guarded to the Senate, and bore all the marks of Majesty. Nay, he writ Letters to the several Armies in the undisguised style of one already their Prince; nor did he ever hesitate or speak with ambiguity about it, but when he spoke to the Senate. The chief cause of his reserve and obscurity there proceeded from his fear of Germanicus. He dreaded that he, who was master of so many Legions of numberless Auxiliaries, and of all the Allies of Rome; he, who was the darling of the people, might wish rather to possess the Empire, Edition: current; Page: [12]than to wait for it. He likewise aimed at false glory, and would rather seem by the Commonwealth chosen and called to the Empire, than to have crept darkly into it by the intrigues of a woman, or by adoption from a superannuated Prince. It was also afterwards found, that, by this abstruseness and counterfeit irresolution, he meant to penetrate into the designs and inclinations of the great men; for his jealous spirit construed all their words, all their looks, into crimes, and stored them up in his heart against a day of vengeance.

When he first met the Senate, he would bear no other business to be transacted but that about the Funerals of Augustus. His last will was brought in by the Vestal Virgins; in it Tiberius and Livia were appointed his heirs, Livia adopted into the Julian Family, and dignified with the name of Augusta. Into the next and second degree of heirship he adopted his grandchildren and their children; and in the third degree he named the great men of Rome, most of them hated by him; but out of vain-glory he named them, and for future renown. His legacies were not beyond the usual bounds; only he left to the Roman people four hundred thousand great Sesterces a ; to the Populace or common sort, thirty-five thousand b ; to every common Soldier of the Pretorian Guards a thousand small Sesterces c , Edition: current; Page: [13]and to every Soldier of the Roman Legions three hundred d . The funeral Honours were next considered. The chief presented were these; Asinius Gallus proposed, that “the Funeral should pass through the Triumphal gate;” Lucius Arruntius, “that the Titles of all the Laws which he had made, and the names of all the Nations which he had conquered, should be carried before the corps;” Valerius Messala added, “that the Oath of Allegiance to Tiberius should be renewed every Year”; and being asked by Tiberius, “whether at his instigation he had made that motion? I spoke it as my opinion, says Messala; nor will I ever be determined by any but my own, in things which concern the Commonweal; let who will be provoked by my freedom.” Only this new turn was wanting to compleat the prevailing flattery of the time. The Senators then concurred in a loud cry, “that upon their own shoulders they must bear the body to the pile.” But Tiberius declined the offer from an arrogant shew of moderation. Moreover he cautioned the people by an Edict, “not to disturb the funeral functions with a zeal over-passionate, as they had those of Julius Cæsar; nor to insist that the Corps of Augustus should be burnt rather in the Forum, than in the field of Mars, which was the place appointed.” On the funeral day Edition: current; Page: [14]the Soldiers under arms kept guard; a mighty mockery to those who had either seen, or heard their fathers describe, the day when Cæsar the Dictator was slain. Servitude was then new, its sorrows yet fresh and bitter; and liberty unsuccessfully retrieved by a deed, which, while it seemed impious to some, was thought altogether glorious by others, and hence tore Rome into tumults, and the violence of parties. They ridiculed the Grimace of “calling an aid of soldiers to secure a peaceable burial to a Prince, who had grown old in peace and power, and even provided against a relapse into liberty, by a long train of successors.”

Hence much and various matter of observation concerning Augustus. The superstitious multitude admired the fortuitous events of his fortune; “that the last day of his life, and the first of his reign, was the same; that he died at Nola, in the same village, in the same house, and in the same chamber, where his father Octavius died. They observed to his glory, his many Consulships, equal in number to those of Valerius Corvinus and of Caius Marius, joined together: that he had exercised the power of the Tribuneship seven and thirty years without interruption: that he was one and twenty times proclaimed Imperator; with many other numerous honours repeated to him, or created for him”. Men of deeper discernment entered further into his Life, but differed about it. His admirers said, that “his Edition: current; Page: [15]filial piety to his father Cæsar, and the distractions of the Republic, where the laws no longer governed, had driven him into a civil war; which, whatever be the first cause, can never be begun or carried on by just and gentle means. Indeed, to be revenged on the murderers of his father, he had made many great sacrifices to Anthony; many to Lepidus. But when Lepidus was become sunk and superannuated in sloth; when Anthony was lost headlong in sensuality, there was then no other remedy for the distracted State, rent piece-meal by its chiefs, but the Sovereignty of one. Augustus, however, never had assumed to rule over his Country as King, or Dictator; but settled the Government under the legal name of Prince of the Senate. He had extended the Empire, and set for its bounds the distant Ocean, and rivers far remote; the several parts and forces of the State, the Legions, the Provinces, the Navy, were all properly balanced and connected; the Citizens lived dutifully under the protection of the law, the Allies in terms of respect, and Rome itself was adorned with magnificent structures. Indeed in a few instances, he had exerted the arbitrary violence of power; and in but a few, only to secure the peace of the whole.”

In answer to all this, it was urged, that “his filial piety, and the unhappy situation of the Republic, were pure pretences; but the Edition: current; Page: [16]ardent lust of reigning, his true and only motive; with this spirit he had solicited into his service, by bribery, a body of veteran soldiers; and, though a private youth, levied an Army. With this spirit he had debauched, and bought the Roman Legions under the Consuls, while he was falsly feigning a coalition with Pompey’s republican party; that soon after, when he had procured from the Senate, or rather usurped the honours and authority of the Pretorship; and when Hirtius and Pansa, the two Consuls, were slain, he seized both their Armies; that it was doubted whether the Consuls fell by the enemy, or whether Pansa was not killed by pouring poison into his wounds, and Hirtius slain by his own soldiers; and whether the young Cæsar was not the contriver of this bloody treason; that by terror he had extorted the Consulship in spite of the Senate; and turned against the Commonwealth the very arms with which the Commonwealth had trusted him for her defence against Anthony. Add to all this his cruel Proscriptions, and the Massacre of so many citizens; his seizing from the public, and distributing to his own creatures, so many lands and possessions; a violation of property not justified even by those who gained by it. But, allowing him to dedicate to the Manes of the Dictator the Lives of Brutus and Cassius (though more to his honour, had it been to have postponed Edition: current; Page: [17]his own personal hate to publick good), did he not betray the young Pompey by an insidious peace, betray Lepidus by a deceitful shew of friendship? Did he not next ensnare Mark Anthony, first by Treaties those of Tarentum and Brundusium; then by a Marriage, that of his sister Octavia? And did not Anthony, at last, pay with his life the penalty of that subdolous alliance? After this, no doubt there was Peace, but a bloody Peace; bloody in the tragical defeat of Lollius, and that of Varus, in Germany; and at Rome, the Varrones, the Egnatii, the Julii, (illustrious names!) were put to death.” Nor was his domestic life spared upon this occasion. “He had arbitrarily robbed Nero of his wife big with child by her husband; and mocked the Gods by consulting the Priests, whether Religion permitted him to marry her before her delivery, or obliged him to stay till after. His minions, Tedius, and Vedius Pollio, had lived in scandalous and excessive luxury; his Wife Livia, who wholly controuled him, had proved a cruel governess to the Commonwealth, and to the Julian house a more cruel step-mother. He had even invaded the incommunicable honours of the Gods, and, setting up for himself Temples like theirs, would, like them, be adored in the image of a Deity, with all the sacred solemnity of Priests and Sacrifices. Nor had he adopted Tiberius for his successor, either Edition: current; Page: [18]out of affection for him, or from concern for the public welfare; but having discovered in him a spirit proud and cruel, he sought future glory from the blackest opposition and comparison.” For, Augustus, when, a few years before, he solicited the Senate to grant to Tiberius another term of the authority of the Tribuneship, though he mentioned him with honour, yet taking notice of his odd humour, behaviour, and manners, dropt some expressions, which, while they seemed to excuse him, exposed and upbraided him.

As soon as the funeral of Augustus was over, a Temple and divine worship were forthwith decreed him. The Senate then turned their supplications to Tiberius, to fill his vacant place; but received an abstruse answer, touching the greatness of the Empire, and his own distrust of himself. He said, that “nothing but the divine genius of Augustus was equal to the mighty task; for himself, who had been called by him into a participation of his cares, he had learnt by feeling them, what a daring, what a difficult toil was that of Government, and how perpetually subject to the caprices of fortune; that in a State supported by so many illustrious Patriots, they ought not to cast the whole administration upon one; and more easy to be administered were the several offices of the Government by the united pains and sufficiency of many.” A Speech much more Edition: current; Page: [19]specious and sounding than cordial and sincere. Tiberius, even upon subjects which needed no disguises, used words dark and cautious; perhaps from his diffident nature, perhaps from a habit of dissembling. At this juncture indeed, as he laboured wholly to hide his heart, his language was the more carefully wrapt up in equivoques and obscurity. But the Senators, who dreaded nothing so much as to seem to understand him, burst into tears, plaints and vows. With extended arms they supplicated the Gods, invoked the image of Augustus, and embraced the knees of Tiberius. He then commanded the imperial Register to be produced and recited. It contained a summary of the strength and income of the Empire, the number of Romans and auxiliaries in pay, the condition of the navy, of the several Kingdoms paying tribute, and of the various provinces and their revenues, with the state of the public expence, the issues of the exchequer, and all the demands upon the public. This Register was all written by the hand of Augustus; and in it he had subjoined his counsel to posterity, that the present boundaries of the Empire should stand fixed without further enlargement. Whether this counsel was dictated by fear for the public, or by envy towards his successors, is uncertain.

Now when the Senate was stooping to the vilest importunity and prostrations, Tiberius happened to say, that, “as he was unequal to the weight of the whole government, so if Edition: current; Page: [20]they entrusted him with any particular part, whatever it were, he would undertake it.” Here Asinius Gallus interposed. “I beg to know, Cæsar, says he, what part of the government you desire for your share?” He was astonied with the unexpected question, and, for a short space, mute; but recovering himself, answered, that “it ill became his modesty to chuse or reject any particular branch of the administration, when he desired rather to be excused from the whole.” Gallus, who from his looks inferred deep displeasure, again accosted him, and said, “By this question I did not mean that you should share that power which cannot be separated; but to reason you into a confession, that the Commonwealth is but one body, and can be governed only by one soul.” He added an encomium upon Augustus, and reminded Tiberius himself of his many victories, of the many civil employments which he had long and nobly sustained. Nor even thus could he mollify the wrath of Tiberius, who had long hated him, for that Gallus had married Vipsania, daughter of Marcus Agrippa, formerly wife to Tiberius, who thence suspected that he meant to soar above the rank of a subject, and possessed too the bold and haughty spirit of Asinius Pollio his father.

Lucius Arruntius incurred his displeasure next, by a speech not much unlike that of Gallus. It is true, that towards him Tiberius bore no old rancour; but Arruntius Edition: current; Page: [21]had mighty opulence, prompt parts, noble accomplishments, with equal popularity and renown; and hence was marked by him with a fell eye of suspicion. For, as Augustus, shortly before his decease, was mentioning those among the great men, who were capable of the supreme power, but would not accept it; or unequal to it, yet wished for it; or such as had both ambition and sufficiency; he had said, that “Marcus Lepidus was qualified, but would reject it; Asinius would be aspiring, but had inferior talents; and that Lucius Arruntius wanted no sufficiency, and, upon a proper occasion, would attempt it.” That he spoke thus of Lepidus and Asinius, is agreed; but, instead of Arruntius, some writers have transmitted the name of Cneius Piso: and every one of these great men, except Lepidus, were afterwards cut off, under the imputation of various crimes, all darkly framed by Tiberius. Quintus Haterius, and Mamercus Scaurus did also incense his distrustful spirit; the first by asking him, “How long, Cæsar, wilt thou suffer the Commonwealth to remain destitute of a head?” Scaurus, because he had said, There was room to hope that the prayers of the Senate would not prove abortive, since he had not interposed the Tribunitial power, and thence obstructed the motion of the Consuls in his behalf.” With Haterius he fell into instant rage. Towards Scaurus his resentment was more deep and implacable, Edition: current; Page: [22]and in profound silence he hid it. Wearied at last with public importunity and clamour, and with particular expostulations, he began to unbend a little; not that he would own his undertaking the Empire, but only avoid the uneasiness of perpetual solicitations and refusals. It is certain, that Haterius, when he went next day to the Palace to implore pardon, and throwing himself at the feet of Tiberius embraced his knees, narrowly escaped being slain by the soldiers; because Tiberius, who was walking, tumbled down, whether by chance, or whether his legs were entangled in the arms of Haterius. Neither was he a jot mollified by the danger which threatened so great a man, who was at length forced to supplicate Augusta for protection; nor could even she obtain it, but after the most laboured entreaties.

Towards Livia likewise exorbitant was the flattering court of the Senate. Some were for decreeing her the general title of Mother; others the more particular one of Mother of her Country; and almost all proposed, that to the name of Tiberius should be added, The Son of JULIA. Tiberius urged in answer, that “public honours to women ought to be adjudged with a sparing hand; and that with the same measure of moderation he would receive such as were presented to himself.” In truth, from envy and solicitude, lest his own grandeur should sink as that of his mother rose, he would not suffer so much as a Lictor to be Edition: current; Page: [23]decreed her, and even forbad the raising her an Altar upon her late adoption, or paying her any such solemnities. Yet, for Germanicus he asked the Proconsular power; and, to carry him that dignity, honourable deputies were sent, as also to mollify his sorrow for the death of Augustus. If for Drusus he demanded not the same honour, it was because Drusus was present, and already Consul designed. He then named twelve candidates for the Prætorship, the same number settled by Augustus; and, though the Senate requested him to increase it, he bound himself by an oath never to exceed.

The privilege of creating Magistrates was now first translated from the assemblies of the people to the Senate. For though the Emperor had before conducted all affairs of moment at his pleasure; yet till that day, some were still transacted by the Tribes, and carried by their bent and suffrages. Neither did the regret of the people for the seizure of these their ancient rights, rise higher than some impotent grumbling. The Senate too liked the change, as by it they were released from the charge of buying votes, and from the shame of begging them. And so moderate was Tiberius, that, of the twelve Candidates, he only reserved to himself the recommendation of four, to be accepted without opposition or caballing. At the same time, the Tribunes of the people asked leave to celebrate, at their own expence, certain plays in honour of Augustus, such as were to be Edition: current; Page: [24]called after his name, and inserted in the calendar. But it was decreed, that out of the Exchequer the charge should be defrayed, and the Tribunes should in the Circus wear the triumphal robe; but to be carried in chariots was denied them. The annual celebration of these plays was, for the future, transferred to one of the Prætors, him in particular to whom should fall the jurisdiction of deciding suits between citizens and strangers.

Thus stood affairs at Rome when a sedition seized the Legions in Pannonia; without any fresh grounds, save that from a change of Princes they meant to assume a warrant for licentiousness and tumult, and from a civil war hoped great earnings and acquisitions. They were three Legions encamped together, all commanded by Junius Blesus, who upon notice of the death of Augustus, and the accession of Tiberius, had granted the soldiers a recess from their wonted duties for some days, as a time either of public mourning or festivity. From being idle they waxed wanton, quarrelsom, and turbulent; greedily listened to mutinous discourses; the most profligate amongst them had most credit with them, and at last they became passionate sor a life of lise and riot, utterly averse to all military discipline and every fatigue of the camp. In the camp was one Percennius; formerly a busy leader in the embroilments of the theatre, and now a common soldier; a fellow of a petulant declaiming tongue, and, by inflaming parties in Edition: current; Page: [25]the playhouse, well qualified to excite and infatuate a crowd. This incendiary practised upon the ignorant and unwary, such as were solicitous what might prove their future usage, now Augustus was dead. He engaged them in nightly confabulations, and, by little and little, incited them to violence and disorders; and, towards the evening, when the soberest and best affected were withdrawn, he assembled the worst and most turbulent. When he had thus ripened them for sedition, and other ready incendiaries were combined with him, he personated the character of a lawful Commander, and thus questioned and harangued them:

Why did they obey, like slaves, a few Centurions, and a fewer Tribunes? When would they be bold enough to demand redress of their heavy grievances, unless they snatched the present occasion, while the Emperor was yet new, and his authority wavering, to prevail with him by petition, or by arms to force him? They had already, by the misery of many years, paid dear for their patient sloth, and stupid silence, since, decrepid with age, and maimed with wounds, aster a course of service for thirty or forty years, they were still doomed to carry arms. Nor, even to those who were discharged, was there any end of the misery of warfare; they were still kept tied to the colours, and, under the creditable title of Veterans, endured the same hardships, and underwent the same labours. But suppose any of them escaped so Edition: current; Page: [26]many dangers, and survived so many calamities, where was their reward at last? A long and weary march remained yet to be taken into countries far remote and strange, where, under the name of lands given them to cultivate, they had inhospitable boggs to drain, and the wild wastes of mountains to manure. Severe and ungainful of itself was the occupation of war; ten As’s a day the poor price of their persons and lives; out of this they must buy cloaths, and tents, and arms; out of this bribe the cruel Centurions, for a forbearance of blows, and occasional exemption from hard duty. But stripes from their officers, and wounds from their enemies, hard winters and laborious summers, bloody wars and barren peace, were miseries without end; nor remained there other cure or relief than to refuse to list but upon conditions certain, and fixed by themselves; particularly, that their pay be a Denarius or sixteen As’s a day, sixteen years be the utmost term of serving; when discharged, to be no longer obliged to follow the colours, but to have their reward, in ready money, paid them in the camp where they earned it. Did the Prætorian guards, they who had double pay, they who, after sixteen years service, were paid off and sent home, bear severer difficulties, undergo superior dangers? He did not mean to detract from the merit of their brethren the City guards; their own harder lot however was, to be placed amongst Edition: current; Page: [27]horrid and barbarous nations, nor could they look from their tents, but they saw the foe.”

The whole crowd received this harangue with shouts of applause; but from various instigations. Some displayed upon their bodies the impressions of stripes, others their hoary heads, many their vestments ragged and curtailed, with backs utterly bare; as did all, their various griefs in the bitterness of reproach. At length to such excessive fury they grew, that they proposed to incorporate the three Legions into one; nor by ought but emulation was the project defeated: for, to his own Legion, every man claimed the prerogative of swallowing and denominating the other two. They took another method, and placed the three Eagles of the Legions, with the Standards of the several Cohorts, all together, without rank or priority; then forthwith digged turf, and were rearing a Tribunal, one high enough to be seen at a distance. In this hurry arrived Blesus, who, falling into sore rebukes, and by force interrupting particulars, called with vehemence to all; “Dip your hands rather in my blood. To murder your General, will be a crime less shameful and heinous, than to revolt from your Prince: for, determined I am, either to preserve the Legions in their faith and obedience, if you kill me not for my intended good office; or my death, if I fall by your hands, shall hasten your remorse.”

For all this, turfs were accumulated, and the work was already breast-high, when, at Edition: current; Page: [28]last, overcome by his spirit and perseverance, they forbore. Blesus was an able speaker; he told them, “that sedition and mutiny were not the methods of conveying to the Emperor the pretensions of the soldiers; their demands too were new and singular; such as neither the soldiers of old had ever made to the ancient Generals, nor they themselves to the deified Augustus: besides, their claims were ill-timed, when the Prince, just upon his accession, was already embarrassed with the weight and variety of other cares. If however they meant to try to gain in full peace those concessions, which, even after a civil war, the conquerors never claimed; yet why trample upon duty and obedience, why reject the laws of the army, and rules of discipline? And if they meant to petition, why meditate violence? They might at least appoint deputies; and in his presence trust them with their pretensions.” Here they all cried out, “that the son of Blesus, one of their Tribunes, should execute that deputation; and demand, in their name, that, after sixteen years service, they should be discharged. They said, they would give him new orders, when he had succeeded in these.” After the departure of the young officer, a moderate recess ensued. The soldiers however exulted to have carried such a point: the sending the son of their General, as the public advocate for their cause, was to them full proof, that they had gained, by force and terror, that which, by Edition: current; Page: [29]modesty and gentle means, they would never have gained.

In the mean time those companies, which, before the sedition began, were sent to Nauportum, to mend roads and bridges, and upon other duties, no sooner heard of the uproar in the camp, but they cast off all obedience, tore away the ensigns, and plundered the neighbouring villages. Even Nauportum itself, which for greatness resembled a municipal City, was plundered. The endeavours of the Centurions to restrain this violence, were first returned with mockery and contempt, then with invectives and contumelies, at last with outrage and blows. Their vengeance was chiefly bent against the Camp-Marshal, Aufidienus Rufus: him they dragged from his chariot, and loading him with baggage, drove him before the first ranks. They then insulted him, and asked in scorn, “whether he would gladly bear such enormous burdens; whether endure such immense marches?” Rufus had been long a common soldier, then became a Centurion, and afterwards Camp-Marshal; a severe restorer of primitive strictness and discipline; an indefatigable observer of every military duty, which he exacted from others with the more rigour, as he had himself undergone them with all patience.

By the arrival of this tumultuous band, the sedition was again awakened to its former outrage, and the Seditious roving abroad without controul, ravaged the county on every side. Edition: current; Page: [30]Blesus, for an example of terror to the rest, commanded those who were most laden with plunder, to be punished with stripes, and cast into prison. For the General was still dutifully obeyed by the Centurions, and by all the soldiers of any merit. But the criminals refused to submit, and even struggled with the guard who were carrying them off: They clasped the knees of the by-standers, implored help from their fellows; now calling upon every individual, and conjuring them by their particular names; then appealed to them in a body, and supplicated the Company, the Cohort, the Legion, to which they belonged; warning and proclaiming, that the same ignominy and chastisement hung over them all. With the same breath they heaped invectives without measure upon their General, and called upon heaven and all the Gods to be their witnesses and avengers; nor left they ought unattempted to raise effectual hatred, compassion, terror, and every species of fury. Hence the whole body rushed to their relief, burst open the prison, unbound and rescued the prisoners. Thus they owned for their brethren, and incorporated with themselves, infamous revolters, and traitors convict and condemned.

Hence the violence became more raging, and hence more sedition from more leaders. There was particularly one Vibulenus a common soldier, who, exalted on the shoulders of his comrades, before the tribunal of Blesus, thus declaimed in the ears of a multitude already Edition: current; Page: [31]outrageous, and eager to hear what he had to say. “To these innocents, says he, to these miserable sufferers, our fellow soldiers, you have indeed restored breath and liberty; but, who will restore life to my poor brother; who my poor brother to me? He was sent hither by the German armies, with propositions for our common good; and for this, was last night butchered by the same Blesus, who in the murder employed his gladiators, bloody men, whom he purposely entertains and arms for our common execution: where, oh Blesus, hast thou thrown his mangled corps? Even open enemies do not inhumanly deny burial to the slain. When I have satiated my sorrow with a thousand kisses, and a flood of tears, command me also to be murdered, that these our brethren may together bury my poor brother and me, slaughtered both as victims, yet both guiltless of any crime, but that of studying the common interest of the Legions.”

He inflamed those his complaints and expostulations, with affecting sighs and lamentations, beat his breast, and tore his face. Then, those who carried him, giving way, he throwed himself headlong at the feet of his companions; and thus prostrate and supplicating, in them raised such a spirit of commiseration, and such a storm of vengeance, that one party of them seized and bound the General’s gladiators; another, the rest of his family; while many ran and dispersed themselves to search for the Edition: current; Page: [32]corps: and, had it not been quickly manifest that there was no corps to be found, that the slaves of Blesus had upon the rack cleared themselves, and that Vibulenus never had any brother; they had gone nigh to have sacrificed the General. As it was, they expulsed the Camp-Marshal and Tribunes, and, as they fled, plundered their baggage. They likewise put to death Lucilius the Centurion, whom they had sarcastically named Cede alteram, because when upon the back of a soldier he had broken one wand, he was wont to call for another, then a third. The other Centurions lurked in concealment, all but Julius Clemens, who, for his prompt capacity, was saved in order to manage the negociations of the Soldiers. Even two of the Legions, the eighth and the fifteenth, were ready to turn their swords upon each other; and had, but for the ninth. One Sirpicus, a Centurion, was the subject of the quarrel: him the eighth required to be put to death; the fifteenth protected him; but the ninth interposed with entreaties to both, and with threats to those who would not listen to prayers.

Tiberius, however close and impenetrable, and ever labouring to smother all melancholy tidings, was yet driven by those from Pannonia, to dispatch his son Drusus thither, accompanied by the principal nobility, and guarded by two Prætorian cohorts; but charged with no precise instructions, only to adapt his measures to the present exigency. The cohorts Edition: current; Page: [33]were strengthened with an extraordinary addition of chosen men, with the greatest part of the Prætorian horse, and main body of the German, then the Emperor’s guards. Ælius Sejanus, lately joined with his father Strabo in the command of the Prætorian bands, was also sent, not only as governor to the young Prince, but, as his credit with the Emperor was known to be mighty, to deal with the revolters by promises and terrors. When Drusus approached, the Legions, for shew of respect, marched out to meet him, not with the usual symptoms and shouts of joy, nor with gay ensigns and arms glittering, but in a dress and accountrements hideous and squalid. In their countenances too, though composed to sadness, were seen greater marks of sullenness and contumacy.

As soon as he was within the camp, they secured the entrances with guards, and in several quarters of it placed parties upon duty. The rest crouded about the Tribunal of Drusus, who stood beckoning with his hand for silence. Here, as often as they surveyed their own numbers, and met one another’s resentful looks, they uttered their rage in horrible cries: Again, when they beheld Cæsar upon the Tribunal, awe and trembling seized them. Now, there prevailed an hollow and inarticulate murmur; next, a furious clamour; then, suddenly, a dead silence. So that, by a hasty succession of opposite passions, they were at once dismayed and dreadful. When, at last, the uproar Edition: current; Page: [34]was staid, he read his father’s letters, who in them declared, “that he would take an affectionate care of the brave and invincible legions, by whom he had sustained successfully so many wars; and, as soon as his grief was a little abated, deal with the Senate about their demands; in the mean time he had sent them his son, on purpose to make them forthwith all the concessions, which could instantly be made them: the rest were to be reserved for the Senate, the proper distributors of rewards and punishments by a right altogether unalienable.”

The assembly answered, that to Julius Clemens they had intrusted what to speak in their name: he began with their demands, “to be discharged after sixteen years service, to have the reward which, for past services upon that discharge, they claimed; their pay to be increased to a Roman Denarius; the veterans to be no longer detained under their ensigns.” When Drusus urged, that wholly in the judgment of the Senate and his father these matters rested; he was interrupted by their clamours: “To what purpose came he; since he could neither augment their pay, nor alleviate their grievances? and while every officer was allowed to inflict upon them blows and death, the son of their Emperor wanted power to relieve them by one beneficent action. This was the policy of the late reign, when Tiberius frustrated every request of the soldiers, by referring all to Augustus; now Drusus Edition: current; Page: [35]was come, with the same artifices to delude them. Were they never to have a higher visit than from the children of their Prince? It was, indeed, unaccountable, that to the Senate the Emperor should leave no part in the direction of the army, only the rewarding of the soldiery. Ought not the same Senate to be consulted as often as a battle was to be fought, or a private man to be punished? or, were their recompences to be adjudged by many masters, but their punishments to remain without any restraint or moderator whatsoever?”

At last, they abandoned the Tribunal, and with menaces and insults fell upon all they met, belonging to Drusus either as guards or friends; meditating thus to provoke a quarrel, and an introduction to blood. Chiefly enraged they were against Cneius Lentulus, as one, for years and warlike renown, superior to any about the person of Drusus, and thence suspected to have hardened the Prince, and been himself the foremost to despise these outrages in the soldiery. Nor was it long after, that, as he was leaving Drusus, and, from the foresight of danger, returning to the winter quarters, they surrounded him, and demanded, “whither he went? to the Emperor or Senate? there also to exercise his enmity to the legions, and oppose their interest?” and instantly assaulted him with stones. He was already covered with wounds and blood, and awaiting certain assassination, Edition: current; Page: [36]when the troops attending Drusus flew to his assistance, and saved him.

The following night had a formidable aspect, and threatened the speedy eruption of some tragical vengeance, when a phenomenon intervened and asswaged all. The Moon, in the midst of a clear sky, seemed to the soldiers suddenly to sicken; and they who were ignorant of the natural cause, took this for an omen foreboding the issue of their present adventures. To their own labours they compared the eclipse of the planet, and prophesied, “that, if to the distressed Goddess should be restored her wonted brightness and vigour, equally successful would be the issue of these their struggles.” Hence they strove to charm and revive her with sounds, and, by ringing upon brasen metal, and an uproar of trumpets and cornets, made a vehement bellowing. As she appeared brighter or darker, they exulted or lamented: but when gathering clouds had utterly bereft them of her sight, and they believed her now buried in everlasting darkness; then, as minds once throughly dismayed are pliant to superstition, they bewailed “their own eternal sufferings thus portended, and that against their misdeeds the angry deities were contending.” Drusus, who thought it behoved him to improve this disposition of theirs, and to reap the fruits of wisdom from the operations of chance; ordered certain persons to go round, and apply to them Edition: current; Page: [37]from tent to tent. For this purpose, he called and employed the Centurion Julius Clemens, and whoever else were by honest methods acceptable to the multitude. These insinuated themselves every-where, with those who kept watch, or were upon patrol, or guarded the gates, soothing all with hopes, and by terrors rousing them: “How long, said they, shall we hold the son of our Emperor thus besieged? Where will our broils and wild contentions end? Shall we swear allegiance to Percennius and Vibulenus? Will Vibulenus and Percennius support us with pay during our service, and reward us with lands when dismissed? In short, shall two common men dispossess the Neros and the Drusi, and to themselves assume the Empire of the Roman people? Let us be wiser; and as we were the last to revolt, be the first to relent. Such demands as comprize terms for all, are ever slowly accorded: but particulars may, when they please, merit instant favour, and instantly receive it.” These reasonings alarmed them, and filled them with mutual jealousies. Presently the fresh soldiers forsook the Veterans, one Legion separated from another; then by degrees returned the love of duty and obedience. They relinquished the guard of the gates; and the Eagles and other ensigns, which in the beginning of the tumult they had thrown together, were now restored each to its distinct station.

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Drusus, as soon as it was day, summoned an assembly, and though unskilled in speaking, yet with a haughtiness inherent in his blood, rebuked their past, and commended their present behaviour: “With threats and terrors, he said, it was impossible to subdue him; but if he saw them reclaimed to submission, if from them he heard the language of supplicants, he would send to his father to accept with a reconciled spirit the petitions of the Legions.” Hence, at their entreaty, for their deputy to Tiberius, the same Blesus was again dispatched, and with him Lucius Apronius, a Roman Knight, and intimate companion of Drusus, and Justus Catonius, a Centurion of the first order. There followed great debates in the council of Drusus, while some advised “to suspend all proceeding till the return of the deputies, and by a course of courtesy the while to sooth the soldiers; others maintained, that remedies more potent must needs be applied: in a multitude was to be found nothing on this side extremes; always imperious where they are not awed, and to be despised without danger when frightened. To their present terror from superstition was to be added the dread of their General, by his dooming to death the authors of the sedition.” Rather prompt to rigorous counsels was the genius of Drusus. Vibulenus and Percennius were produced, and by his command executed. It is by many recounted, that in Edition: current; Page: [39]his own tent they were secretly dispatched and buried; by others, that their bodies were ignominiously thrown over the entrenchments, for a public spectacle of terror.

Search was then made for other remarkable incendiaries. Some were caught skulking without the camp, and there by the Centurions or Prætorian soldiers slain. Others were by their several companies delivered up, as a proof of their own fidelity. The consternation of the soldiers was heightened by the precipitate accession of winter, with rains incessant, and so violent, that they were unable to stir from their tents, or maintain common intercourse, nay scarce to preserve their standards, assaulted continually by tempestuous winds and raging floods. Dread besides of the angry Gods still possessed them; “nor was it at random, they thought, that such profane traitors were thus visited with black eclipses, and roaring tempests; neither against these their calamities was there other relief than the relinquishing of a camp by impiety contaminated and accursed, and, after expiation of their guilt, returning to their several garisons.” The eighth legion departed first; then the fifteenth: the ninth, with earnest clamours, pressed for continuing there till the letters from Tiberius arrived; but when deserted by the other two, their courage failed, and by following of their own accord, they prevented the shame of being forced. Drusus seeing order and tranquillity thus restored, Edition: current; Page: [40]without staying for the return of the Deputies, returned himself to Rome.

Almost at the same time, and from the same causes, the legions in Germany raised an insurrection, with greater numbers, and thence with more fury. Passionate too were their hopes that Germanicus would never brook the rule of another, but yield to the spirit of the legions, who had force sufficient to bring the whole Empire under his sway. Upon the Rhine were two armies; that called the higher, commanded by Caius Silius, Lieutenant-General; the lower, by Aulus Cæcina. The command in chief rested in Germanicus, then busy collecting the tribute in Gaul. The forces however under Silius, with cautious ambiguity, watched the success of the revolt which others began: for the soldiers of the lower army had broken out into open outrages, which began from the fifth legion, and the one and twentieth, who drew after them the first and the twentieth. These were altogether upon the frontiers of the Ubians, passing the campaign in utter idleness, or light duty: so that upon the news that Augustus was dead, the whole swarm of new soldiers lately levied in the city, men accustomed to the effeminacies of Rome, and impatient of every military hardship, began to possess the ignorant minds of the rest with many turbulent expectations, “that now was presented the lucky juncture for Veterans to demand intire dismission; the fresh soldiers, larger Edition: current; Page: [41]pay; and all, some mitigation of their miseries; as also to return due vengeance for the cruelties of the Centurions.” These were not the harangues of a single incendiary, like Percennius amongst the Pannonian legions; nor uttered, as there, in the ears of men, who, while they saw before their eyes armies greater than their own, mutinied with awe and trembling: But here was a sedition of many mouths, filled with many boasts, “that in their hands lay the power and fate of Rome; by their victories the Empire was inlarged, and from them the Cæsars took, as a compliment, the surname of Germanicus.

Neither did Cæcina strive to restrain them. A madness so extensive had berest him of all his bravery and firmness. In this precipitate frenzy they rushed at once, with swords drawn, upon the Centurions, the eternal objects of their resentment, and always the first victims to their vengeance. Them they dragged to the earth, and upon each bestowed a terrible portion of sixty blows; a number proportioned to that of Centurions in a legion. Then bruised, mangled, and half expiring, as they were, they cast them all out of the camp, some into the stream of the Rhine. Septimius, who had for refuge fled to the tribunal of Cæcina, and lay clasping his feet, was demanded with such imperious vehemence, that he was forced to be surrendered to destruction. Cassius Cherea (afterwards famous to posterity Edition: current; Page: [42]for killing Caligula) then a young man of undaunted spirit, and one of the Centurions, boldly opened himself a passage with his sword through a crowd of armed foes striving to seize him. After this no further authority remained to the Tribunes, none to the Camp-Marshals. The seditious soldiers were their own officers; set the watch, appointed the guard, and gave all orders proper in the present exigency. Hence those who dived deepest into the spirit of the soldiery, gathered a special indication how powerful and obdurate the present insurrection was like to prove; for in their conduct were no marks of a rabble, where every man’s will guides him, or the instigation of a few controuls the whole. Here, all at once they raged, and all at once kept silence; with so much concert and steadiness, that you would have believed them under the sovereign direction of one.

To Germanicus the while, then receiving, as I have said, the tribute in Gaul, news were brought of the decease of Augustus, whose grand-daughter Agrippina he had to wife, and by her many children. He was himself the grandson of Livia, by her son Drusus the brother of Tiberius; but ever under heavy anxiety from the secret hate which his uncle and grandmother bore him; hate the more virulent, as its grounds were altogether unrighteous. For, dear and adored was the memory of his father Drusus amongst the Roman people, and from him was firmly expected, Edition: current; Page: [43]that had he succeeded to the Empire, he would have restored public liberty. Hence their zeal for Germanicus, and of him the same hopes conceived; as from his youth he possessed a popular spirit, and marvellous affability, utterly remote from the comportment and address of Tiberius, ever haughty and mysterious. The animosities too between the ladies administered fresh fuel, while, towards Agrippina, Livia was actuated by the despight natural to step-mothers: and over-tempestuous was the indignation of Agrippina; only that her known chastity, and love for her husband, always gave her mind, however vehement, a virtuous turn.

But Germanicus, the nearer he stood to supreme rule, the more vigour he exerted to secure it to Tiberius; to whom he obliged the Sequanians, a neighbouring people, as also the several Belgic cities, to swear present allegiance; and the moment he learnt the uproar of the legions, posted thither. He found them advanced without the camp to receive him, with eyes cast down, in feigned token of remorse. After he entered the entrenchments, instantly his ears were filled with plaints and grievances, uttered in hideous and mixt clamours. Nay, some catching his hand, as if they meant to kiss it, thrust his fingers into their mouths, to feel their gums destitute of teeth; others shewed their limbs enfeebled, and bodies stooping under old age. As he saw the assembly mixt at random, he commanded Edition: current; Page: [44]them “to range themselves into companies, thence more distinctly to hear his answers; as also to place before them their several Ensigns; that the cohorts at least might be distinguished.” With slowness and reluctance they obeyed him. Then beginning with an encomium upon the “venerable memory of Augustus,” he proceeded to the “many victories and many triumphs of Tiberius, and with peculiar praises celebrated the glorious and immortal deeds, which with these very legions he had accomplished in Germany;” he next boasted the quiet state of things, the consent of all Italy, the loyal faith of both the Gauls; and every quarter of the Roman state exempt from disaffection and disorders.

Thus far they listened with silence, at least with moderate murmuring; but the moment he touched their sedition, and questioned, “where now was the wonted modesty of soldiers? where the glory of ancient discipline? whither had they chased their Tribunes, whither their Centurions?” to a man, they stripped themselves to the skin, and there exposed the seams of their wounds, and bruises of their chastisements, in the rage of reproach. Then in the undistinguished voice of uproar, they urged, “the exactions for occasional exemptions; their scanty pay; and their rigorous labours;” which they represented in a long detail; “ramparts to be reared; entrenchments digged, trees felled and drawn; forage Edition: current; Page: [45]cut and carried; fuel prepared and fetched;” with every other article of toil required by the exigencies of war, or to prevent idleness in the soldiery. Above all, from the Veterans arose a cry most vehement and furious: they enumerated thirty years or upwards undergone in the service, “and besought, that, to men utterly spent, he would administer respite, nor suffer them to be beholden to death for the last relief from their toils; but discharge them from a warfare so lasting and severe, and grant them the means of a comfortable recess.” Nay, some there were who required of him the money bequeathed them by Augustus; and towards Germanicus uttering zealous vows, with omens of happy fortune, declared their cordial attachment to his cause, if he would himself assume the Empire. Here, as if already stained with their treason, he leaped headlong from the Tribunal; but with swords drawn they opposed his departure, and threatened his life, if he refused to return: yet, with passionate protestations, that “he would rather die than be a traitor,” he snatched his sword from his side, and aiming full at his breast, would have buried it there, had not those who were next him seized his hand, and by force restrained him. A cluster of soldiers in the extremity of the assembly, exhorted him, nay, what is incredible to hear, some particulars advancing nearer, exhorted him, to strike home. In truth, one Calusidius, a common soldier, Edition: current; Page: [46]presented him his naked sword, and added, “it is sharper than your own;” a behaviour which to the rest, outrageous as they were, seemed savage, and of horrid example. Hence, the friends of Germanicus had time to snatch him away to his tent.

It was here consulted what remedy to apply; for it was advised, that “ministers of sedition were preparing to be dispatched to the other army, to draw them too into a confederacy in the revolt; that the capital of the Ubians was destined to be sacked; and if their hands were once inured to plunder, they would break in, and ravage all Gaul.” This dread was augmented by another: the enemy knew of the sedition in the Roman army, and were ready to invade the Empire, if its barrier the Rhine were left unguarded. Now, to arm the allies and the auxiliaries of Rome, and lead them against the departing Legions, was to rouse a civil war: severity was dangerous; the way of largesses infamous; and alike threatning it was to the State, to grant the turbulent soldiers nothing, or yield them every thing. After revolving every reason and objection, the result was, to feign letters and directions from Tiberius, “that those who had served twenty years should be finally discharged; such as had served sixteen be under the ensign and privilege of Veterans, released from every duty, but that of repulsing the enemy; and the legacy Edition: current; Page: [47]which they demanded, should be paid and doubled.”

The soldiers, who perceived, that, purely to evade present difficulty, the concessions were forged, insisted to have them forthwith executed; and instantly the Tribunes dispatched the discharge of the Veterans. That of the money was adjourned to their several winter-quarters: but the fifth Legion, and the one and twentieth, refused to stir, till in that very camp they were paid; so that out of the money reserved by himself and his friends for travelling expences, Germanicus was obliged to raise the sum. Cæcina, Lieutenant-General, led the first Legion and twentieth, back to the capital of the Ubians; an infamous march, when the plunder of their General’s coffers was carried amidst the Ensigns and Roman Eagles. Germanicus, the while, proceeding to the army in higher Germany, brought the second, thirteenth and sixteenth Legions to swear allegiance without hesitation: to the fourteenth, who manifested some short suspense, he made, unasked, a tender of their money, and a present discharge.

But a party of Veterans which belonged to the disorderly Legions, and then in garison among the Chaucians, as they began a sedition there, were somewhat quelled by the instant execution of two of their body; an execution commanded by Mennius, Camp-Marshal, and rather of good example, than done by competent authority. The tumult Edition: current; Page: [48]however swelling again with fresh rage, he fled, but was discovered; so that, finding no safety in lurking, from his own bravery he drew his defence, and declared, “that to himself, who was only their Camp-Marshal, these their outrages were not done, but done to the authority of Germanicus their General, to the Majesty of Tiberius their Emperor.” At the same time, braving and dismaying all that would have stopped him, he fiercely snatched the colours, faced about towards the Rhine, and, pronouncing the doom of traitors and deserters to every man who forsook his ranks, brought them back to their winter-quarters, mutinous, in truth, but not daring to mutiny.

In the mean time the deputies from the Senate met Germanicus at the altar of the Ubians, whither in his return he was arrived. Two Legions wintered there, the first, and twentieth, with the soldiers lately placed under the standard of Veterans; men already under the distractions of guilt and fear: and now a new terror possessed them, that these Senators were come armed with injunctions to cancel every concession which they had by sedition extorted; and, as it is the custom of the crowd to be ever charging some body with the crimes suggested by their own false alarms, the guilt of this imaginary decree they laid upon Minutius Plancus, a Senator of consular dignity, and at the head of this deputation. In the dead of night, they began to clamour aloud for the purple standard placed in the quarters Edition: current; Page: [49]of Germanicus; and rushing tumultuously to his gate, burst the doors, dragged the Prince out of his bed, and with menaces of present death, compelled him to deliver the standard. Then, as they roved about the camp, they met the Deputies; who having learnt the outrage, were hastening to Germanicus: upon them they poured a deluge of contumelies, and were devoting them to present slaughter; Plancus chiefly, whom the dignity of his character had restrained from flight; nor in this mortal danger had he other refuge than the quarters of the first Legion, where, embracing the Eagle, and other ensigns, he sought sanctuary from the religious veneration ever paid them. But, in spite of religion, had not Calpurnius the Eagle-bearer by force defeated the violent assault, in the Roman camp had been slain an Ambassador of the Roman people, and with his blood the inviolable altars of the Gods had been stained; a barbarity rare even in the camp of an enemy. At last, day returning, when the General, and the soldiers, and their actions could be distinguished, Germanicus entered the camp; and commanding Plancus to be brought, seated him by himself upon the tribunal: he then inveighed against the late “pernicious frenzy, which in it, he said, had fatality, and was rekindled by no despite in the soldiers, but by that of the angry Gods.” He explained the genuine purposes of that Embassy, and lamented with affecting eloquence “the outrage committed upon Plancus, altogether Edition: current; Page: [50]brutal and unprovoked; the foul violence done to the sacred person of an Ambassador, and the mighty disgrace from thence derived upon the Legion.” Yet as the assembly shewed more stupefaction than calmness, he dismissed the Deputies under a guard of auxiliary horse.

During this affright, Germanicus was by all men censured, “that he retired not to the higher army, whence he had been sure of ready obedience, and even of succour against the revolters. Already he had taken wrong measures more than enough, by discharging some, rewarding all, and other tender counsels. If he despised his own safety; yet why expose his infant-son, why his wife big with child, to the fury of outrageous traitors, wantonly violating all the most sacred rights amongst men? It became him at least to restore his wife and son safe to Tiberius, and to the state.” He was long unresolved; besides Agrippina was averse to leave him, and urged that “she was the grand-daughter of Augustus, and it was below her spirit to shrink in a time of danger.” But, embracing her and their little son, with great tenderness and many tears, he prevailed with her to depart. Thus there marched miserably along a band of helpless women; the wife of a great commander fled like a fugitive, and upon her bosom bore her infant-son; about her a troop of other ladies, dragged from their husbands, and drowned in tears, uttering their heavy lamentations. Edition: current; Page: [51]Nor weaker than theirs was the grief felt by all who remained.

These groans and tears, and this spectacle of woe, the appearances rather of a city stormed and sacked, than of a Roman camp, that of Germanicus Cæsar, victorious and flourishing, awakened attention and inquiry in the soldiers: leaving their tents, they cried, “Whence these doleful wailings? what so lamentable! so many ladies of illustrious quality, travelling thus forlorn; not a Centurion to attend them; not a soldier to guard them; their General’s wife amongst them, undistinguished by any mark of her princely dignity; destitute of her ordinary train; frightened from the Roman Legions, and repairing, like an exile, for shelter to Treves, there to commit herself to the faith of foreigners.” Hence shame and commiseration seized them, and the remembrance of her illustrious family, with that of her own virtues; the brave Agrippa her father; the mighty Augustus her grandfather; the amiable Drusus her father-in-law, her self celebrated for a fruitful bed, and of signal chastity: add the consideration of her little son, born in the camp, nursed in the arms of the Legions, and by themselves named Caligula, a military name from the boots which of the same fashion with their own, in compliment to them, and to win their affections, he frequently wore. But nothing so effectually subdued them as their own envy towards the inhabitants of Treves. Hence they Edition: current; Page: [52]all besought, all adjured, that she would return to themselves, and with themselves remain. Thus some stopped Agrippina; but the main body returned with their intreaties to Germanicus; who, as he was yet in the transports of grief and anger, addressed himself on this wise to the surrounding crowd:

To me neither is my wife or son dearer than my father and the commonwealth. But him doubtless his proper majesty will defend; and the other armies will defend the Roman State. As to my wife and children, whom, for your glory, I could freely sacrifice; I now remove them from your rage, that by my blood alone may be expiated whatever further mischief your fury meditates; and that the murder of the great grandson of Augustus, the murder of the daughter-in-law of Tiberius, may not be added to mine, nor to the blackness of your past guilt. For, during these days of phrensy, what has been too horrid for you to commit? What so sacred that you have not violated? To this audience what name shall I give? Can I call you Soldiers? you who have beset with arms the son of your Emperor, confined him in your trenches, and held him in a siege? Roman citizens can I call you? you who have trampled upon the supreme authority of the Roman Senate? Laws religiously observed by common enemies, you have profaned; violated the sacred privileges and persons of Ambassadors; broken the laws Edition: current; Page: [53]of nations. The deified Julius Cæsar quelled a sedition in his army by a single word; by calling all who refused to follow him, Townsmen. The deified Augustus, when, after the battle of Actium, the Legions lapsed into mutiny, terrified them into submission by the dignity of his presence, and an awful look. These, it is true, are mighty characters, whom I dare not emulate: but, as I inherit their blood, should the armies in Syria and Spain contemn my authority, I should think their behaviour strange and base. Yet you are the first and the twentieth Legions, the former enrolled by Tiberius himself, the other his constant companions in so many battels, his partners in so many victories, and by him enriched with so many bounties! Is this the worthy return you make your Emperor, and late commander? And shall I be the author of such tidings to him, in the midst of congratulations and happy accounts from every province in the Empire, that his own new levies, as well as his own Veterans who long fought under him, these, not appeased by their discharge, and neither of them satiated with the money given them, are both still combined in a furious mutiny? that here, and only here, the Centurions are butchered, the Tribunes driven away, the Ambassadors imprisoned; that with blood the camp is stained; that the rivers flow with blood; and that for me, Edition: current; Page: [54]his son, I hold a precarious life amongst men thus raging and implacable?

“Why did you the other day, oh unseasonable friends! snatch away my sword, when I would have plunged it into my breast? He who offered me his own sword, acted better, and was more my friend. I would then have fallen happy, as my death would have hid from mine eyes so many horrible crimes, since committed by my own army. You too would have chosen another General, who, though he would have left my death unpunished, yet would have sought vengeance for that of Varus, and the three Legions. For the Gods are too just to permit that the Belgians, however generously they offer their service, shall reap the credit and renown of retrieving the glory of the Roman name, and of reducing in behalf of Rome the German nations her foes. I therefore here invoke thy spirit now with the Gods, oh deified Augustus; and thy image interwoven in the ensigns, and thy memory, oh deceased father, to vindicate these Legions from this foul infamy. They already feel the remorses of shame, and a sense of honour. Let them turn the tide of their civil rage to the destruction of their common enemy. And for you, my fellow soldiers, in whom I now behold other countenances, and minds happily changed; if you mean to restore to the Senate its Ambassadors, to your Emperor Edition: current; Page: [55]your sworn obedience, to me my wife and son; fly the company of incendiaries, separate the sober from the seditious. This will be a faithful sign of remorse, this a firm pledge of fidelity.”

These words softened them into supplicants: they confessed that all his reproaches were true; they besought him to punish the guilty and malicious, to pardon the weak and misled, and to lead them against the enemy; to recal his wife, to bring back his son, nor to suffer the fosterling of the Legions to be given in hostage to the Gauls. Against the recalling of Agrippina he alledged the advance of winter, and her approaching delivery; but said, that his son should return, and that to themselves he left to execute what remained further to be executed. Instantly, with changed resentments, they ran, and, seizing the most seditious, dragged them in bonds to Caius Cetronius, commander of the first Legion, who judged and punished them in this manner. The Legions, with their swords drawn, surrounded the Tribunal; from thence the prisoner was by a Tribune exposed to their view, and if they proclaimed him guilty, cast headlong down, and executed even by his fellow-soldiers, who rejoiced in the execution, because by it they thought their own guilt to be expiated: nor did Germanicus restrain them, since on themselves remained the cruelty and reproach of the slaughter committed without any order of his. The Veterans followed the same example of vengeance, and Edition: current; Page: [56]were soon after ordered into Rhetia, in appearance to defend that province against the invading Suevians; in reality, to remove them from a camp, still horrible to their sight, as well in the remedy and punishment, as from the memory of their crime. Germanicus next passed a scrutiny upon the conduct and characters of the Centurions: before him they were cited singly; and each gave account of his name, his company, country, the length of his service, exploits in war, and military presents, if he had been distinguished with any. If the Tribunes, or his Legion, bore testimony of his diligence and integrity, he kept his post; upon concurring complaint of his avarice or cruelty, he was degraded.

Thus were the present commotions appeased; but others as great still subsisted, from the rage and obstinacy of the fifth and twenty-first Legions. They were in winter-quarters sixty miles off, in a place called the Old Camp, and had first began the sedition: nor was there any wickedness so horrid that they had not perpetrated; nay, at this time, neither terrified by the punishment, nor reclaimed by the reformation of their fellow soldiers, they persevered in their fury. Germanicus therefore determined to give them battle, if they persisted in their revolt, and prepared vessels, arms, and troops, to be sent down the Rhine.

Before the issue of the sedition in Illyricum was known at Rome, tidings of the uproar in the German Legions arrived. Hence the city Edition: current; Page: [57]was filled with much terror, and hence against Tiberius many complaints, “that while with feigned consultations and delays he mocked the Senate and People, once the great bodies of the estate, but now bereft of power and armies, the soldiery were in open rebellion, one too mighty and stubborn to be quelled by two Princes so young in years and authority. He ought at first to have gone himself, and awed them with the majesty of imperial power; as doubtless they would have returned to duty, upon the sight of their Emperor, a Prince of consummate experience, the sovereign disposer of rewards and severity. Did Augustus, even under the pressures of old age and infirmities, take so many journies into Germany? and should Tiberius, in the vigour of his life, when the same, or greater occasions called him thither, sit lazily in the Senate, to watch Senators, and cavil at words? He had fully provided for the domestic servitude of Rome; he ought next to cure the licentiousness of the soldiers, to restrain their turbulent spirits, and reconcile them to a life of peace.”

But all these reasonings and reproaches moved not Tiberius. He was determined not to depart from the Capital, the centre of power and affairs, nor expose to chance or peril his person and empire. In truth, many and contrary difficulties pressed and perplexed him: “the German army was the stronger; that of Pannonia nearer; the power of both Edition: current; Page: [58]the Gauls supported the former; the latter was at the gates of Italy. Now, to which should he repair first? and would not the last visited be enraged, by being postponed? But by sending one of his sons to each, the equal treatment of both was maintained; as also the majesty of the supreme power, which from distance ever derived most reverence. Besides, the young Princes would be excused, if to their father they referred such demands as were improper for them to grant; and if they disobeyed Germanicus and Drusus, his own authority remained to appease or punish them. But if once they had contemned their Emperor himself, what other resource was behind?” However, as if he had been upon the point of marching, he chose his attendants, provided his equipage, and prepared a fleet: but by various delays and pretences, sometimes that of the winter, sometimes business, he deceived for a time even the wisest men, much longer the common people, and the provinces for a great while.

Germanicus had already drawn together his army, and was prepared to take vengeance on the seditious: but judging it proper to allow space for trial whether they would follow the lare example, and, consulting their own safety, do justice upon one another; he sent letters to Cæcina, “that he himself approached, with a powerful force; and, if they prevented him not, by executing the guilty, he would put all indifferently to the slaughter.” These Edition: current; Page: [59]letters Cæcina privately read to the principal Officers, and such of the camp as the sedition had not tainted; besought them, “to redeem themselves from death, and all from infamy; urged that in peace alone reason was heard, and merit distinguished; but in the rage of war, the blind steel spared the innocent no more than the guilty.” The Officers having tried those whom they believed for their purpose, and found the majority still to persevere in their duty, settled, in concurrence with the General, the time for falling with the sword upon the most notoriously guilty and turbulent. Upon a particular signal given, they rushed into their tents, and butchered them; void as they were of all apprehension; nor did any but the Centurions and executioners know whence the massacre began, or where it would end.

This had a different face from all the civil slaughters that ever happened: it was a slaughter not of enemies upon enemies, nor from different and opposite camps, nor in a day of battle; but of comrades upon comrades, in the same tents where they eat together by day, where they slept together by night. From this state of intimacy, they fly into mortal enmity; friends launched their darts at friends: wounds, outcries, and blood were open to view; but the cause remained hid: wild chance governed the rest, and several innocents were slain. For the criminals, when they found against whom all this fury was bent, had also betaken themselves Edition: current; Page: [60]to their arms. Neither did Cæcina, nor any of the Tribunes, intervene to stay the rage: so that the soldiers had full permission of vengeance, with a licentiousness and satiety of killing. Germanicus soon after entered the camp now full of blood and carcasses, and, lamenting with many tears, that “this was not a remedy, but cruelty and desolation,” commanded the bodies to be burnt. The minds of the rest, still tempestuous and bloody, were transported with sudden eagerness to attack the foe; as the best expiation of their tragical fury: nor otherwise, they thought, could the ghosts of their butchered brethren be appeased, than by receiving in their own profane breasts a chastisement of honourable wounds. Germanicus fell in with the ardour of the soldiers, and laying a bridge upon the Rhine, marched over twelve thousand Legionary soldiers, twenty-six cohorts of the allies, and eight regiments of horse; men all untainted in the late sedition.

The Germans rejoiced, not far off, at this vacation of war, occasioned first by the death of Augustus, and afterwards by intestine tumults in the camp. But the Romans by a hasty march passed through the Cæsian woods, and levelling the barrier formerly begun by Tiberius, pitched their camp upon it. In the front and rear they were defended by a palisade, on each side by a barricade of the trunks of trees felled. From thence, beginning to traverse gloomy forests, they stopped to consult which Edition: current; Page: [61]of two ways they should chuse, the short and frequented, or the longest and least known, and therefore unsuspected by the foe. The longest way was chosen; but in every thing else dispatch was observed: for, by the scouts, intelligence was brought, that the Germans did, that night, celebrate a festival, with great mirth and revelling. Hence Cæcina was commanded to advance with the cohorts without their baggage, and to clear a passage through the forest: at a moderate distance followed the Legions: the clearness of the night facilitated the march; and they arrived at the villages of the Marsians, which they presently invested with guards. The Germans were even yet under the effects of their debauch, scattered here and there, some in bed, some lying by their tables; no watch placed, no apprehension of an enemy. So utterly had their false security banished all order and care; and they were under no dread of war, without enjoying peace, other than the deceitful and lethargic peace of drunkards.

The Legions were eager for revenge; and Germanicus, to extend their ravage, divided them into four battalions. The country was wasted by fire and sword fifty miles round; nor sex nor age found mercy; places sacred and prophane had the equal lot of destruction, all razed to the ground, and with them the temple of Tanfana, of all others the most celebrated amongst these nations. Nor did all this execution cost the soldiers a wound, while they Edition: current; Page: [62]only slew men half asleep, disarmed, or dispersed. This slaughter roused the Bructerans, the Tubantes, and the Usipetes; and they beset the passes of the forest, through which the army was to return; an event known to Germanicus, and he marched in order of battle: the auxiliary cohorts and part of the horse led the van, followed close by the first Legion; the baggage was in the middle; the twenty-first Legion closed the left wing, and the fifth the right; the twentieth defended the rear; and after them marched the rest of the allies. But the enemy stirred not, till the body of the army was entered the wood: they then began lightly to insult the front and wings; and, at last, with their whole force fell upon the rear. The light cohorts were already disordered by the close German bands, when Germanicus riding up to the twentieth Legion, and exalting his voice; “this was the season, he cried, to obliterate the scandal of sedition: hence they should fall resolutely on, and convert into sudden praise their late shame and offence.” These words inflamed them: at one charge they broke the enemy, drove them out of the wood, and slaughtered them in the plain. In the mean while, the front passed the forest, and fortified the camp. The rest of the march was uninterrupted, and the soldiers, trusting to the merit of their late exploits, and forgetting at once past faults and terrors, were placed in winter-quarters.

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The tydings of these exploits affected Tiberius with gladness and anguish. He rejoiced that the sedition was suppressed; but, that Germanicus had, by discharging the Veterans, by shortening the term of service to the rest, and by largesses to all, gained the hearts of the army, as well as earned high glory in war; proved to the Emperor matter of torture. To the Senate, however, he reported the detail of his feats, and upon his valour bestowed copious praises, but in words too pompous and ornamental to be thought dictated by his heart. It was with more brevity that he commended Drusus, and his address in quelling the sedition of Illyricum, but more cordially withal, and in language altogether sincere; and even to the Pannonian Legions he extended all the concessions made by Germanicus to his own.

The same year died Julia, for her lewdness long since banished by her father Augustus into the isle of Pandateria, and afterwards to the city of Rhegium upon the streights of Sicily. Whilst Caius and Lucius, her sons by Agrippa, yet lived, she was given in marriage to Tiberius; and despised him, as a man beneath her. Nor any motive so cogent as this had Tiberius for his retirement to Rhodes. When he came to the empire, she was already under the pressures of infamy and exile, and since the death of Agrippa Posthumus, destitute of all hope and support. Yet Edition: current; Page: [64]such multiplied distresses softened not the Emperor, who, by a long train of miseries, and continued want, caused her finally to perish; as he supposed that in the distance of her banishment her tragical death would remain concealed. From the same root was derived his cruelty to Sempronius Gracchus, the descendent of a family eminently noble, himself of a lively wit and prevailing eloquence, but viciously applied. He, while Julia was yet Agrippa’s wife, had debauched her: neither with Agrippa ended their vicious league; but after she was given to Tiberius, he still persisted her adulterer, and towards her husband inspired her with notable aversion and contumacy: The letters too by her written to her father, full of asperity against Tiberius, and labouring his ruin, were thought to have been composed by Gracchus. He was therefore banished to Cercina, and island in the African sea, where, for fourteen years, he suffered exile. The soldiers dispatched to the assassination found him upon a rising by the shore, to himself presaging nothing joyful from their arrival. Of them he only desired a short respite to send his last will in a letter to Alliaria his wife, and then extended his neck to the sword of the assassins; a constancy in death not unworthy the Sempronian name: in his life he had degenerated. Some authors have related, that these soldiers were not sent directly from Rome, but by Lucius Asprenas, Proconsul Edition: current; Page: [65]of Africa, by the policy and command of Tiberius, who in vain hoped to have cast upon Asprenas the imputation of the murder.

There was likewise this year an admission of new rites, by the establishment of another College of Priests, one sacred to the deity of Augustus; as formerly Titus Tatius, to preserve the religious rites of the Sabines, had founded the fraternity of Titian Priests. To fill the society, one and twenty the most considerable Romans were drawn by lot, and to them were added Tiberius, Drusus, Claudius, and Germanicus. The games in honour of Augustus, began then first to be embroiled by emulation among the players, and by the strife of parties in their behalf. Augustus had countenanced these players, and their art, in complaisance to Mæcenas, who was mad in love with Bathyllus the comedian; nor to such favourite amusements of the populace had he any aversion himself; he rather judged it an acceptable courtesy to mingle with the multitude in these their popular pleasures. Different was the temper of Tiberius, different his politics: to severer manners, however, he durst not yet reduce the people, so many years indulged in licentious gaieties.

In the consulship of Drusus Cæsar and Caius Norbanus, a triumph was decreed to Germanicus, while the war still subsisted. He was preparing with all diligence to prosecute it the following summer; but began much sooner by a sudden irruption early in Edition: current; Page: [66]the spring into the territories of the Cattians; an anticipation of the campaign, which proceeded from the hopes given him of dissension amongst the enemy, caused by the opposite parties of Arminius and Segestes; two men signally known to the Romans upon different accounts; the last for his firm faith, the first for faith violated. Arminius was the incendiary of Germany; but by Segestes had been given repeated warnings of an intended revolt, particularly during the scstival immediately preceding the insurrection. He had even advised Varus, “to secure him and Arminius, and all the other chiefs; for that the multitude, thus bereft of their leaders, would dare to attempt nothing; and Varus have time to distinguish crimes and such as committed none.” But by his own fate, and the sudden violence of Arminius, Varus fell. Segestes, though by the weight and unanimity of his nation, he was forced into the war, yet remained at constant variance with Arminius: a domestic quarrel too heightened their hate; as Arminius had carried away the daughter of Segestes, already betrothed to another; and the same relations which amongst friends prove bonds of tenderness, were fresh stimulations of wrath to an obnoxious son, and an offended father.

Upon these encouragements, Germanicus committed to the command of Cæcina four Legions, five thousand auxiliaries, and some bands of Germans, dwellers on this side the Edition: current; Page: [67]Rhine, drawn suddenly together; he led himself as many Legions, with double the number of allies, and erecting a fort in mount Taunus, upon the old foundations of one raised by his father, rushed full march against the Cattians; having behind him left Lucius Apronius, to secure the ways from the fury of inundations. For, as the roads were then dry, and the rivers low, events in that climate exceedingly rare, he had without check expedited his march, but against his return apprehended the violence of rains and floods. Upon the Cattians he fell with such surprize, that all the weak, through sex or age, were instantly taken or slaughtered. Their youth, by swimming over the Adrana, escaped, and attempted to force the Romans from building a bridge to follow them, but by dint of arrows and engines were repulsed; then having in vain tried to gain terms of peace, some submitted to Germanicus; the rest abandoned their villages and dwellings, and dispersed themselves in the woods. Mattium, the Capital of the nation he burnt, ravaged all the open country, and bent his march to the Rhine: nor durst the enemy harass his rear; an usual practice of theirs, when sometimes they fly more through craft than affright. The Cheruscans indeed were addicted to assist the Cattians, but terrified from attempting it by Cæcina, who moved about with his forces from place to place; and, by routing the Marsians who had dared to engage him, restrained all their efforts.

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Soon after arrived deputies from Segestes, praying relief against the combination and violence of his countrymen, by whom he was held besieged; as more powerful amongst them than his was the credit of Arminius, since it was he who had advised the war. This is the genius of Barbarians, to judge that men are to be trusted in proportion as they are fierce, and in public commotions ever to prefer the most resolute. To the other deputies Segestes had added Segimundus his son; but the young man faultered a while, as his own heart accused him; for that, the year when Germany revolted, he who had been by the Romans created Priest of the Altar of the Ubians, rent the sacerdotal Tiara, and fled to the revolters: yet, encouraged by the Roman clemency, he undertook the execution of his father’s orders, was himself graciously received, and then conducted with a guard to the frontiers of Gaul. Germanicus led back his army to the relief of Segestes, and was rewarded with success. He fought the besiegers, and rescued him with a great train of his relations and followers; amongst them too were ladies of illustrious rank, particularly the wife of Arminius, she who was the daughter of Segestes; a lady more of the spirit of her husband than that of her father; a spirit so unsubdued, that from her eyes captivity forced not a tear, nor from her lips a breath in the stile of a supplicant. Not a motion of her hands, nor a look escaped her; but, fast across her breast she held her Edition: current; Page: [69]arms, and upon her heavy womb her eyes were immoveably fixed. There were likewise carried Roman spoils taken at the slaughter of Varus and his army, and then divided as prey amongst many of those who were now prisoners. At the same time, appeared Segestes, of superior stature; and, from a confidence in his good understanding with the Romans, undaunted. In this manner he spoke:

“This is not the first day, that to the Roman people I have approved my faith and adherence. From the moment I was by the deified Augustus presented with the freedom of the city, I have continued by your interest to chuse my friends, by your interest to denominate my enemies; from no hate of mine to my native country (for odious are traitors even to the party which they embrace) but, because the same measures were equally conducing to the benefit of the Romans and of the Germans; and I was for peace rather than war. For this reason I applied to Varus, the then General, with an accusation against Arminius, who from me had ravished my daughter, and with you violated the faith of leagues. But growing impatient with the slowness and inactivity of Varus, and well apprized how little security was to be hoped from the laws, I pressed him to seize myself, and Arminius, and his accomplices; witness that fatal night, to me I wish it had been the last! More to be lamented than defended are the Edition: current; Page: [70]sad events which followed. I moreover cast Arminius into irons, and was myself cast into irons by his faction; and as soon as to you, Cæsar, I could apply, you see I prefer old engagements to present violence; tranquillity to combustions; with no view of my own to interest or reward, but to banish from me the imputation of perfidiousness. For the German nation too, I would thus become a mediator, if peradventure they will chuse rather to repent than be destroyed: for my son I intreat you, have mercy upon his youth, pardon his error. That my daughter is your prisoner by force, I own: in your own breast it wholly lies, under which character you will treat her, whether as one who has conceived by Arminius, or as one by me begotten.” The answer of Germanicus was gracious: he promised indemnity to his children and kindred, and to himself a safe retreat in one of the old provinces; then returned with his army, and, by the direction of Tiberius, received the title of Imperator. The wife of Arminius brought forth a male child, and the boy was brought up at Ravenna. His unhappy conflicts afterwards with the contumelious insults of fortune, will be remembered in their place.

The desertion of Segestes being divulged, with his gracious reception from Germanicus, affected his countrymen variously, with hope or anguish, as they were prone or averse to the war. Naturally violent was the spirit of Arminius, Edition: current; Page: [71]and now, by the captivity of his wife, and by the fate of his child doomed to bondage though yet unborn, enraged even to distraction: he flew about amongst the Cheruscans, calling them to arms; to arm against Segestes, to arm against Germanicus: invectives followed his fury: “A blessed father this Segestes, he cried! a mighty General, this Germanicus! invincible warriors these Romans! so many troops have made prisoner of a woman. It is not thus that I conquer: Before me three Legions fell, and three Lieutenant-Generals. Open and honourable is my method of war, nor waged with bigbellied women, but against men and arms; and treason is none of my weapons. Still to be seen are the Roman standards in the German groves, there by me hung up, and devoted to our country Gods. Let Segestes live a slave in a conquered province; let him recover to his Son a foreign Priesthood: With the German nations he can never obliterate his reproach, that through him they have seen, between the Elb and Rhine, rods and axes, and the Roman Toga. To other Nations, who know not the Roman domination, executions and tributes are also unknown; evils which we too have cast off, in spite of that Augustus now dead, and enrolled with the deities, in spite too of Tiberius his chosen successor. Let us not, after this, dread a mutinous army, and a boy without experience, their commander: but, Edition: current; Page: [72]if you love your country, your kindred, your ancient liberty and laws, better than tyrants and new colonies, let Arminius rather lead you to liberty and glory, than the wicked Segestes to the infamy of bondage.”

By these stimulations, not the Cheruscans only were rouzed, but all the neighbouring nations; and into the confederacy was drawn Inguiomerus, paternal uncle to Arminius, a man long since in high credit with the Romans. Hence a new source of fear to Germanicus, who, to avoid the shock of their whole forces, and to divert the enemy, sent Cæcina with forty Roman cohorts to the river Amisia, through the territories of the Bructerians. Pedo the Prefect led the cavalry by the confines of the Frisians. He himself embarked four Legions on the lake: and upon the bank of the said river the whole body met, foot, horse, and the fleet. The Chaucians, upon offering their assistance, were taken into the service; but the Bructerians, setting fire to their effects and dwellings, were routed by Stertinius, by Germanicus dispatched against them with a band lightly armed. As this party were engaged between slaughter and plunder, he found the Eagle of the nineteenth Legion, lost in the overthrow of Varus. The army marched next to the furthest borders of the Bructerians, and the whole country between the rivers Amisia and Luppia, was laid waste. Not far hence lay the forest of Teutoburgium, Edition: current; Page: [73]and in it the bones of Varus and the Legions, by report still unburied. Hence Germanicus became inspired with a tender passion to pay the last offices to the Legions and their leader: The like tenderness also affected the whole army. They were moved with compassion, some for the fate of their friends, others for that of their relations, here tragically slain: They were struck with the doleful casualties of war, and the sad lot of humanity. Cæcina was sent before to examine the gloomy recesses of the forest, to lay bridges over the pools, and, upon the deceitful marshes, causways. The army entered the doleful solitude, hideous to sight, hideous to memory. First they saw the camp of Varus, wide in circumference; and the three distinct spaces allotted to the different Eagles, shewed the number of the Legions. Further they beheld the ruinous entrenchment, and the ditch nigh choaked up; in it the remains of the army were supposed to have made their last effort, and in it to have found their graves. In the open fields lay their bones all bleached and bare, some separate, some on heaps, just as they had happened to fall, flying for their lives, or resisting unto death. Here were scattered the limbs of horses, there pieces of broken javelins; and the trunks of trees bore the skulls of men. In the adjacent groves were the savage altars; where the Barbarians had made a horrible immolation of the Tribunes and principal Centurions. Those who survived the Edition: current; Page: [74]slaughter, having escaped from captivity and the sword, related the sad particulars to the rest: “Here the commanders of the Legions were slain: There we lost the Eagles: Here Varus had his first wound; there he gave himself another, and perished by his own unhappy hand. In that place too stood the tribunal whence Arminius harangued: In this quarter, for the execution of his captives, he erected so many gibbets; in that such a number of funeral trenches were digged; and with these circumstances of pride and despight he insulted the ensigns and Eagles.”

Thus the Roman army buried the bones of the three Legions, six years after the slaughter; nor could any one distinguish, whether he gathered the particular remains of a stranger, or those of a kinsman: But all considered the whole as their friends, the whole as their relations, with heightened resentments against the foe, at once sad and revengeful. In this pious office, so acceptable to the dead, Germanicus was a partner in the woe of the living; and upon the common tomb laid the first sod: a proceeding not liked by Tiberius; whether it were that upon every action of Germanicus he put a perverse meaning, or believed that the affecting spectacle of the unburied slain, would sink the spirit of the army, and heighten their terror of the enemy; as also that “a General vested, as Augur, with the intendency of religious rites, became defiled Edition: current; Page: [75]by assisting at the solemnities of the dead.”

Arminius retiring into desart and pathless places, was pursued by Germanicus; who, as soon as he reached him, commanded the horse to advance, and dislodge the enemy from the post they had possessed. Arminius, having directed his men to keep close together, and draw near to the woods, wheeled suddenly about, and to those whom he had hid in the forest, gave the signal to rush out. The Roman horse, now engaged by a new army, became disordered, and to their relief some cohorts were sent, but likewise broken by the press of those that fled; and great was the consternation so many ways increased. The enemy too were already pushing them into the morass; a place well known to the pursuers, as to the unapprized Romans it had proved pernicious, had not Germanicus drawn out the Legions in order of battle. Hence the enemy became terrified, our men reassured, and both retired with equal loss and advantage. Germanicus presently after returning with the army to the river Amisia, reconducted the Legions, as he had brought them, in the fleet. Part of the horse were ordered to march along the sea-shore to the Rhine. Cæcina, who led his own men, was warned, that though he was to return through known roads, yet he should with all speed pass the causway, called The Long Bridges. It is a narrow track, between vast marshes, and formerly raised by Edition: current; Page: [76]Lucius Domitius. The marshes themselves are of an uncertain soil, here full of mud, there of heavy sticking clay, or traversed with various currents. Round about are woods which rise gently from the plain, and were already filled with soldiers by Arminius, who, by shorter ways, and a running march, had arrived there before our men, who were loaded with arms and baggage. Cæcina, who was perplexed how at once to repair the causway decayed by time, and to repulse the foe, resolved at last to encamp in the place, that whilst some were employed in the work, others might maintain the fight.

The Barbarians strove violently to break our station, and to fall upon the entrenchers; harassed our men, assaulted the works, changed their attacks, and pushed every-where. With the shouts of the assailants the cries of the workmen were confusedly mixed; and all things equally combined to distress the Romans; the place deep with ouze sinking under those who stood, slippery to such as advanced, their armour heavy, the waters deep, nor in them could they launch their javelins. The Cheruscans, on the contrary, were inured to encounters in the bogs; their persons tall, their spears long, such as could wound at a distance. At last the Legions, already yielding, were by night redeemed from an unequal combat; but night interrupted not the activity of the Germans, become by success indefatigable. Without refreshing themselves with sleep, they diverted Edition: current; Page: [77]all the courses of the springs which rise in the neighbouring mountains, and turned them into the plains; thus the Roman camp was flooded, the work, as far as they had carried it, overturned, and the labour of the poor soldiers renewed and doubled. To Cæcina this year proved the fortieth of his sustaining as officer or soldier the functions of arms; a man in all the vicissitudes of war, prosperous or disastrous, well experienced, and thence undaunted. Weighing therefore with himself all probable events and expedients, he could devise no other than that of restraining the enemy to the woods, till he had sent forward the wounded men and baggage; for from the mountains to the marshes there stretched a plain, fit only to hold a little army. To this purpose the Legions were thus appointed; the fifth had the right wing, and the one and twentieth the left; the first led the van; the twentieth defended the rear.

A restless night it was to both armies, but in different ways: the Barbarians feasted and caroused; and with songs of triumph, or with horrid and threatning cries, filled all the plain and echoing woods. Amongst the Romans were feeble fires, sad silence, or broken words; they leaned drooping here and there against the pales, or wandered disconsolately about the tents, like men without sleep, but not quite awake. A frightful dream too terrified the General; he thought he heard and saw Quinctilius Varus, rising out of the Edition: current; Page: [78]marsh, all besmeared with blood, stretching forth his hand, and calling upon him; but that he rejected the call, and pushed him away. At break of day, the Legions, posted on the wings, through contumacy or affright, deserted their stations, and took sudden possession of a field beyond the bogs; neither did Arminius fall straight upon them, however open they lay to his assault: but, when he perceived the baggage set fast in mire and ditches; the soldiers about it disorderly and embarassed; the ranks and ensigns in confusion; and, as usual in a time of distress, every one in haste to save himself, but slow to obey his officer; he then commanded his Germans to break in: “Behold, he vehemently cried, behold again Varus and his Legions, subdued by the same fate!” Thus he cried, and at the same time, with a select body, broke quite through our forces; and chiefly against the horse directed his havock: so that the ground becoming slippery, by their blood and the slime of the marsh, their feet flew from them, and they cast their riders; then galloping and stumbling amongst the ranks, they overthrew all they met, and trod to death all they overthrew. The greatest difficulty was, to maintain the Eagles; a storm of darts made it impossible to advance them, and the rotten ground impossible to fix them. Cæcina, while he sustained the fight, had his horse shot, and having fallen, was nigh taken; but the first Legion saved him. Our relief came from the greediness of the enemy, who Edition: current; Page: [79]ceased slaying, to seize the spoil. Hence the Legions had respite to struggle into the fair field, and firm ground: nor was here an end to their miseries; a palisade was to be raised, an entrenchment digged; their instruments too, for throwing up and carrying earth, and their tools for cutting turf, were almost all lost; no tents for the soldiers; no remedies for the wounded; and their food all defiled with mire or blood; as they shared it in sadness amongst them, they lamented that mournful night, they lamented the approaching day, to so many thousand men the last.

It happened that a horse, which had broke his collar, as he strayed about, became frightened with noise, and ran over some that were in his way: this raised such a consternation in the camp, from a persuasion that the Germans in a body had forced an entrance, that all rushed to the gates, especially to the postern, as the furthest from the foe, and safer for flight. Cæcina, having found the vanity of their dread, but unable to stop them, either by his authority, or by his prayers, or indeed by force, flung himself, at last, cross the gate. This prevailed; their awe and tenderness of their General, restrained them from running over his body; and the Tribunes and Centurions satisfied them the while that it was a false alarm.

Then, calling them together, and desiring them to hear him with silence, he minded them of their difficulties, and how to conquer them: “that for their lives they must be indebted Edition: current; Page: [80]to their arms, but force was to be tempered with art; they must therefore keep close within their camp, till the enemy, in hopes of taking it by storm, advanced; then make a sudden sally on every side; and by this push they should break through the enemy, and reach the Rhine; but, if they fled, more forests remained to be traversed, deeper marshes to be passed, and the cruelty of a pursuing foe to be sustained.” He laid before them the motives and fruits of victory, public rewards and glory, with every tender domestic consideration, as well as those of military exploits and praise. Of their dangers and sufferings he said nothing. He next distributed horses, first his own, then those of the Tribunes and leaders of the Legions, to the bravest soldiers impartially; that thus mounted they might begin the charge, followed by the foot.

Amongst the Germans, there was not less agitation, from hopes of victory, greediness of spoil, and the opposite counsels of their leaders. Arminius proposed, “to let the Romans march off, and to beset them in their march, when engaged in bogs and fastnesses.” The advice of Inguiomerus was fiercer, and thence more applauded by the Barbarians: he declared “for forcing the camp; for that the victory would be quick, there would be more captives, and intire plunder.” As soon therefore as it was light, they rushed out upon the camp, cast hurdles into the ditch, attacked and Edition: current; Page: [81]grappled the palisade: Upon it, few soldiers appeared, and these seemed frozen with fear: but as the enemy in swarms were climbing the ramparts, the signal was given to the cohorts; the cornets and trumpets sounded, and instantly, with shouts and impetuosity, they issued out, and begirt the assailants; “Here are no thickets, they scornfully cried; no bogs; but an equal field, and impartial Gods.” The enemy, who imagined few Romans remaining, fewer arms, and an easy conquest, were struck with the sounding trumpets, with the glittering armour; and every object of terror appeared double to them who expected none. They fell like men who, as they are void of moderation in prosperity, are also destitute of conduct in distress. Arminius forsook the fight unhurt; Inguiomerus grievously wounded: their men were slaughtered as long as day and rage lasted. In the evening the Legions returned, in the same want of provisions, and with more wounds: but in victory they found all things, health, vigour, and abundance.

In the mean time, a report had flown, that the Roman forces were routed, and an army of Germans upon full march, to invade Gaul: so that under the terror of this news there were those, whose cowardice would have emboldened them to have demolished the bridge upon the Rhine, had not Agrippina restrained them from that infamous attempt. In truth, such was the undaunted spirit of the woman, that at this time she performed all the duties of a Edition: current; Page: [82]General, relieved the necessitous soldiers, upon the wounded bestowed medicines, and upon others cloaths. Caius Plinius, the writer of the German Wars, relates, that she stood at the end of the bridge, as the Legions returned, and accosted them with thanks and praises; a behaviour which sunk deep into the spirit of Tiberius; “for that all this officiousness of hers, he thought, could not be upright; nor that it was against foreigners only she engaged the army: to the direction of the Generals nothing was now left, when a woman reviewed the companies, attended the Eagles, and to the men distributed largesses, as if before she had shewn but small tokens of ambitious designs, in carrying her child (the son of the General) in a soldier’s coat about the camp, with the title of Cæsar Caligula. Already in greater credit with the army was Agrippina than the leaders of the Legions, in greater than their Generals, and a woman had suppressed sedition, which the authority of the Emperor was not able to restrain.” These jealousies were inflamed, and more were added by Sejanus; one who was well skilled in the temper of Tiberius, and purposely furnished him with sources of hatred, to lie hid in his heart, and be discharged with increase hereafter.

Germanicus, in order to lighten the ships in which he had embarked his men, and fit their burden to the ebbs and shallows, delivered the second and fourteenth Legions to Publius Edition: current; Page: [83]Vitellius, to lead them by land. Vitellius, at first, had an easy march on dry ground, or ground moderately overflowed by the tide; when suddenly the fury of the north wind swelling the ocean (a constant effect of the equinox) the Legions were surrounded and tossed with the tide, and the land was all on flood; the sea, the shore, the fields, had the same tempestuous face; no distinction of depths from shallows; none of firm from deceitful footing; they were overturned by the billows; swallowed down by the eddies; and horses, baggage, and drowned men encountered each other, and floated together. The several companies were mixed at random by the waves; they waded now breast-high; now up to their chin; and as the ground failed them, they fell, some never more to rise. Their cries and mutual encouragements availed them nothing against the prevailing and inexorable waves; no difference between the coward and the brave, the wise and the foolish; none between circumspection and chance; but all were equally involved in the invincible violence of the flood. Vitellius, at length, struggling into an eminence, drew the Legions thither, where they passed the cold night without fire, and destitute of every convenience; most of them naked, or lamed; not less miserable than men inclosed by an enemy: for even to such remained the consolation of an honourable death; but here was destruction, every way void of glory. The land returned with the day, and they marched Edition: current; Page: [84]to the river Vidrus, whither Germanicus had gone with the fleet. There the two Legions were again embarked, when fame had given them for drowned; nor was their escape believed, till Germanicus and the army were seen to return.

Stertinius, who in the mean while had been sent before to receive Segimerus, the brother of Segestes (a Prince willing to surrender himself) brought him and his son to the city of the Ubians: both were pardoned; the father freely, the son with more difficulty; because he was said to have insulted the corps of Varus. For the rest, Spain, Italy, and both the Gauls strove with emulation to supply the losses of the army; and offered arms, horses, money, according as each abounded. Germanicus applauded their zeal; but accepted only the horses and arms, for the service of the war: with his own money he relieved the necessities of the soldiers; and to soften also by his kindness the memory of the late havock, he visited the wounded, extolled the exploits of particulars, viewed their wounds; with hopes encouraged some; with a sense of glory animated others; and by affability and tenderness confirmed them all in devotion to himself, and to his fortune in war.

The ornaments of triumph were this year decreed to Aulus Cæcina, Lucius Apronius, and Caius Silius, for their services under Germanicus. The title of Father of his Country, so often offered by the People to Edition: current; Page: [85]Tiberius, was rejected by him: nor would he permit swearing upon his acts, though the same was voted by the Senate. Against it he urged “the instability of all mortal things; and that the higher he was raised, the more slippery he stood:” but for all this ostentation of a popular spirit, he acquired not the reputation of possessing it. For he had revived the law concerning violated majesty; a law which, in the days of our ancestors, had indeed the same name, but implied different arraignments and crimes, namely those against the State; as when an army was betrayed abroad, when seditions were raised at home; in short, when the public was faithlesly administered, and the majesty of the Roman people was debased. These were actions, and actions were punished, but words were free. Augustus was the first who brought libels under the penalties of this wrested law, incensed as he was by the insolence of Cassius Severus, who had in his writings wantonly defamed men and ladies of illustrious quality. Tiberius too, afterwards, when Pompeius Macer, the Prætor, consulted him, “whether process should be granted upon this law?” answered, “that the laws must be executed.” He also was exasperated by satirical verses written by unknown authors, and dispersed; exposing his cruelty, his pride, and his mind unnaturally alienated from his mother.

It will be worth while to relate here the pretended crimes charged upon Falanius and Rubrius, two Roman Knights of small fortunes; Edition: current; Page: [86]that hence may be seen from what beginnings, and by how much dark art of Tiberius, this grievous mischief crept in; how it was again restrained a ; how at last it blazed out and consumed all things b . To Falanius was objected by his accusers, that “amongst the adorers of Augustus, who went in fraternities from house to house, he had admitted one Cassius, a mimic and prostitute; and having sold his gardens, had likewise with them sold the statue of Augustus.” The crime imputed to Rubrius was, “that he had sworn falsly by the divinity of Augustus.” When these accusations were known to Tiberius, he wrote to the Consuls, “that Heaven was not therefore decreed to his father, that the worship of him might be a snare to the citizens of Rome; that Cassius the player was wont to assist with others of his profession at the interludes consecrated by his mother to the memory of Augustus: neither did it affect religion, that his effigies, like other images of the Gods, was comprehended in the sale of houses and gardens. As to the false swearing by his name, it was to be deemed the same as if Rubrius had profaned the name of Jupiter; but to the Gods belonged the avenging of injuries done to the Gods.”

Not long after, Granius Marcellus, Prætor of Bithynia, was charged with high Edition: current; Page: [87]treason by his own Quæstor Cepio Crispinus; Romanus Hispo, the pleader, supporting the charge. This Cepio began a course of life, which, through the miseries of the times and the bold wickedness of men, became afterwards famous. At first, needy and obscure, but of busy spirit, he made court to the cruelty of the Prince by occult informations; and presently, as an open accuser, grew terrible to every distinguished Roman. This procured him credit with one, hatred from all, and made a precedent, to be followed by others, who from poverty became rich; from being contemned, dreadful; and in the destruction which they brought upon others, found at last their own. He accused Marcellus of “malignant words concerning Tiberius;” an inevitable crime! when the accuser, collecting all the most detestable parts of the Prince’s character, alledged them as the expressions of the accused: for, because they were true, they were believed to have been spoken. To this Hispo added, “that the statue of Marcellus was by him placed higher than those of the Cæsars; and that, having cut off the head of Augustus, he had in the room of it set the head of Tiberius.” This enraged him so, that breaking silence, he cried, “he would himself, in this cause, give his vote explicitly, and under the tye of an oath.” By this he meant to force the assent of the rest of the Senate. There remained even then some faint traces of expiring liberty. Hence Cneius Piso asked Edition: current; Page: [88]him; “In what place, Cæsar, will you chuse to give your opinion? If first, I shall have your example to follow: if last, I fear I may ignorantly dissent from you.” The words pierced him, but he bore them, the rather as he was ashamed of his unwary transport; and he suffered the accused to be acquitted of high treason. To try him for the public money, was referred to the proper judges.

Nor sufficed it Tiberius to assist in the deliberations of the Senate only: he likewise sate in the seats of justice; but always on one side, because he would not dispossess the Prætor of his chair; and by his presence there, many ordinances were established against the intrigues and solicitations of the grandees. But while private justice was thus promoted, public liberty was likewise overthrown. About this time Pius Aurelius the Senator, whose house, yielding to the pressure of the public road and aqueducts, had fallen, complained to the Senate, and prayed relief; a suit opposed by the Prætors who managed the treasury: but he was relieved by Tiberius, who ordered him the price of his house; for he was fond of being liberal upon honest occasions; a virtue which he long retained, even after he had utterly abandoned all other virtues. Upon Propertius Celer, once Prætor, but now desiring leave to resign the dignity of Senator, as a burden to his poverty, he bestowed a thousand great sesterces * , upon ample information that Edition: current; Page: [89]Celer’s necessities were derived from his father. Others, who attempted the same thing, he ordered to lay their condition before the Senate; and from an affectation of severity, was thus austere, even where he acted with uprightness. Hence the rest preferred poverty and silence to begging and relief.

The same year the Tiber, being swelled with continual rains, overflowed the level parts of the city; and the common destruction of men and houses followed the returning flood. Hence Asinius Gallus moved, “that the Sibylline Books might be consulted.” Tiberius opposed it, equally smothering all inquiries whatsoever, whether into matters human or divine. To Ateius Capito, however, and Lucius Arruntius, was committed the care of restraining the river within its banks. The provinces of Achaia and Macedon, praying relief from their public burdens, were for the present discharged of their proconsular government, and subjected to the Emperor’s Lieutenants. In the entertainment of gladiators at Rome, Drusus presided: it was exhibited in the name of Germanicus, and his own; and at it he manifested too much lust of blood, even of the blood of slaves: a quality terrible to the populace; and hence his father was said to have reproved him. His own absence from these shews, was variously construed; by some ascribed to his impatience of a crowd; by others to his reserved and solitary genius, and his fear of an unequal comparison with Augustus, Edition: current; Page: [90]who was wont to be a chearful spectator there. But, that he thus purposely furnished matter for exposing the cruelty of his son there, and for raising him popular hate, is what I would not believe; though this too was asserted.

The dissensions of the theatre, begun last year, broke out now more violently, with the flaughter of several, not of the people only, but of the soldiers, with that of a Centurion: nay, a Tribune of a Prætorian Cohort was wounded, whilst they were securing the magistrates from insults, and quelling the licentiousness of the rabble. This riot was canvassed in the Senate, and votes were passing for impowering the Prætors to whip the players. Haterius Agrippa, Tribune of the People, opposed it; and was sharply reprimanded by a speech of Asinius Gallus. Tiberius was silent, and to the Senate allowed these empty apparitions of liberty. The opposition, however, prevailed, in reverence to the authority of Augustus, who, upon a certain occasion, had given his judgment, “that players were exempt from stripes:” nor would Tiberius assume to violate any words of his. To limit the wages of players, and restrain the licentiousness of their partizans, many decrees were made: the most remarkable were, “that no Senator should enter the house of a Pantomime; no Roman Knight attend them abroad; they should shew no where but in the theatre; and the Prætors should have power to punish with exile any insolence in the spectators.”

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The Spaniards were, upon their petition, permitted to build a temple to Augustus, in the colony of Terragon; an example for all the provinces to follow. In answer to the People, who prayed to be relieved from the Centesima, a tax of one in the hundred, established at the end of the civil wars, upon all vendible commodities; Tiberius by an edict declared, “that upon this tax depended the fund for maintaining the army: Nor even thus was the Commonwealth equal to the expence, if the Veterans were dismissed before their twentieth year.” So that the concessions made them during the late sedition, to discharge them finally at the end of sixteen years, as they were made through necessity, were for the future abolished.

It was next proposed to the Senate, by Arruntius and Ateius, whether, in order to restrain the overflowing of the Tiber, the channels of the several rivers and lakes by which it was swelled, must not be diverted? Upon this question the deputies of several cities and colonies were heard. The Florentines besought, “that the bed of the Clanis might not be turned into their river Arnus; for that the same would prove their utter ruin.” The like plea was urged by the Interamnates; “since the most fruitful plains in Italy would be lost, if, according to the project, the Nar, branched out into rivulets, overflowed them.” Nor were the Reatinians less earnest against, stopping the outlets of the lake Velinus into Edition: current; Page: [92]the Nar; “otherwise, they said, it would break over its banks, and stagnate all the adjacent country: the direction of nature was best in all natural things: it was she that had appointed to rivers their courses and discharges, and set them their limits as well as their sources. Regard too was to be paid to the religion of our Latin allies, who, esteeming the rivers of their country sacred, had to them dedicated priests, and altars, and groves. Nay, the Tiber himself, when bereft of his auxiliary streams, would flow with diminished grandeur.” Now, whether it were that the prayers of the colonies, or the difficulty of the work, or the influence of superstition prevailed; it is certain, the opinion of Piso was followed, that nothing should be altered.

To Poppeus Sabinus was continued his province of Mœsia; and to it was added that of Achaia and Macedon. This too was part of the politics of Tiberius, to prolong governments, and maintain the same men in the same armies, or civil employments, for the most part, to the end of their lives; with what view, is not agreed. Some think, “that from an impatience of returning cares, he was for making, whatever he once liked, perpetual.” Others, “that from the malignity of his invidious nature, he regretted the preferring of many.” There are some who believe, “that as he had a crafty penetrating spirit, so he had an understanding ever irresolute and perplexed.” So much is certain, that he Edition: current; Page: [93]never courted any eminent virtue, yet hated vice: from the best men he dreaded danger to himself; and disgrace to the public from the worst. This hesitation mastered him so much at last, that he committed foreign governments to some, whom he meant never to suffer to leave Rome.

Concerning the management of consular elections, either then, or afterwards, under Tiberius, I can affirm scarce any thing: such is the variance about it, not only amongst historians, but even in his own speeches. Sometimes, not naming the candidates, he described them by their family, by their life and manners, and by the number of their campaigns; so as it might be apparent whom he meant. Again, avoiding even to describe them, he exhorted the candidates, not to disturb the election by their intrigues, and promised himself to take care of their interests. But chiefly, he used to declare, “that to him none had signified their pretensions, but such whose names he had delivered to the Consuls; others too were at liberty to offer the like pretensions, if they trusted to the favour of the Senate, or their own merits.” Specious words! but intirely empty, or full of fraud; and, by how much they were covered with the greater guise of liberty, by so much threatning a more hasty and devouring bondage.

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BOOK II.

The SUMMARY.

Commotions in the East. Venones King of the Parthians, his expulsion by Artabanus, and flight to Armenia, where he is chosen King, but dethroned by Silanus at the motion of Artabanus. Tiberius designs to send Germanicus to the East, under feigned pretences. The exploits of the latter in Germany; he builds a fleet, defeats and ravages many nations there; and routs Arminius in a great battle. The misfortune of his fleet in a tempest. The remarkable accusation, trial, and violent death of Libo Drusus, charged with designs against the state. The poverty of M. Hortalus, grandson of the famous orator Hortensius; he applies for relief to the Senate; Tiberius opposes him, but complies with the inclination of the Fathers to assist him. A counterfeit Agrippa Postumus raises great alarms, but is detected to have been one of his slaves, and put to death. The triumph of Germanicus over several nations in Germany. The story and death of King Archelaus: His Kingdom reduced into a Roman Province. The contumacious behaviour of Cneius Piso and his wife Plancina to Germanicus in the East, supposed to be encouraged by Tiberius and his mother. Drusus, the Emperor’s son, sent into Illyricum, and why. A great battle between Edition: current; Page: [95]Arminius and Maroboduus, two German Chiefs: The former conquers. Twelve noble cities in Asia destroyed by an earthquake. Tacfarinas, first a common soldier, then a robber, raises a war in Africa. The success of Camillus, the Proconsul, against him. Germanicus enters Armenia, and establishes Zeno King there. Drusus encourages dissensions amongst the German nations. Maroboduus, exterminated by Catualda, flies into Italy, and continues there. Catualda suffers the like fate. War between two Kings of Thrace composed by seizing the aggressor. Germanicus visits Egypt, and views the antiquities there; returns to Asia, is insulted by Piso, sickens and dies: His amiable character: Suspicions about the cause of his death. Piso tries to gain the supreme command; is successfully opposed by the friends of Germanicus, and retires. Numerous honours decreed at Rome to Germanicus. Laws to restrain the lubricity of women. A new Vestal Virgin chosen in the place of Occia deceased. Arminius fraudulently slain in Germany. His eminent character.

DURING the consulship of Sisenna Statilius Taurus, and Lucius Libo, the Kingdoms and Roman provinces of the east, were involved in war, begun by the Parthians, who having sought and accepted a King from Rome, did afterwards, though he was of the race of the Arsacides, contemn him as a foreigner. This was Venones, who had been given as an hostage to Augustus by Phrahates. For Phrahates, though he had defeated the Roman captains and armies, yet had courted Augustus with all the reverence of a dependent, and sent him, to bind their friendship, part of his offspring; not so much through fear of the Romans, as distrusting the ill faith of the Parthians.

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After the death of Phrahates, and the succeeding Kings, ambassadors from the chief men of Parthia arrived at Rome, to call home Venones his eldest son, in order to end their intestine slaughters. Tiberius found his own grandeur and glory in this embassy, and dismissed him with great pomp and presents. The Barbarians too received him with rapture and exultation; a spirit which commonly animates the people, where their governors are yet new and untried. But shame soon succeeded; shame “for the degeneracy of the Parthians, to have thus sent to another world for a King, one debauched with the manners and maxims of their enemies. The imperial throne of the Arsacides, they said, was now deemed and given as a Roman province. Where was the glory of those brave Parthians who slew Crassus, of those who exterminated Marc Anthony; if they were reduced so low as to receive for the Lord of Parthia a slave of Cæsar’s, inured so many years to foreign bondage?” His own behaviour inflamed their disdain: he abandoned the customs of his ancestors; was seldom in the chace; took small delight in horses, travelled luxuriously through their towns in a litter, and despised the Parthians feasts. They ridiculed his Greek attendants, and the mean care of sealing up his domestic moveables with his signet. But his easiness of access, his flowing courtesy (virtues unknown to the Parthians) were to them so many new Edition: current; Page: [97]vices; and every part of his manners, the laudable and the bad, were subject to equal hatred, because foreign from their own.

They therefore sent for Artabanus, of the blood of the Arsacides, bred amongst the Dahans. In the first engagement he was routed, but repaired his forces and gained the Kingdom. The vanquished Venones found a retreat in Armenia, a vacant throne, and a people wavering between the neighbouring powers of Parthia and of Rome: from us they were alienated by the fraud and iniquity of Marc Anthony, who having by shews and professions of friendship, ensnared into his power Artavasdes, King of the Armenians, loaded him with chains, and at last put him to death. Artaxias, his son, for his father’s sake, hating us, defended himself and his Kingdom by the protection and forces of the Arsacides. Artaxias being slain by a conspiracy of his kindred, Tigranes was by Augustus set over the Armenians, and by Tiberius Nero put in possession of the Kingdom. But neither was the reign of Tigranes lasting, nor that of his children, however associated together, according to the mode and politics of the East, by the double ties of marriage and government. Artavasdes was next established, by the appointment of Augustus, and then expelled; but at great expence of Roman blood.

Caius Cæsar was then chosen to settle Armenia. By him Ariobarzanes, by descent a Mede, was, for his graceful person and eminent Edition: current; Page: [98]endowments, placed over the Armenians, with their own consent. Ariobarzanes being killed by an accident, they would not bear the rule of his children, but tried the government of a woman, (her name Erato) and quickly expulsed her. After this, unsettled and wavering, rather exempt from tyranny, than possessed of liberty, they received the fugitive Venones for their King: but anon, when he saw himself threatened by Artabanus, small reliance on the Armenians, and no protection from the Romans without a war with the Parthians, he accepted the offer of Creticus Silanus, Governor of Syria, who invited him thither; but when he came, set a guard upon him; leaving him still the name and luxury of royalty. What attempts Venones made to escape from this mock-majesty, we will relate in its place.

The commotions in the East happened not ungratefully to Tiberius, since thence he had a colour for separating Germanicus from his old and faithful Legions, for setting him over strange provinces, and exposing him at once to casual perils and the efforts of fraud. But he, the more ardent he found the affections of the soldiers, and the greater the hatred of his uncle, so much the more intent upon a decisive victory, weighed with himself all the methods of that war, with all the disasters and successes which had befallen him in it to this his third year. He remembered, “that the Germans were ever routed in a fair battle, and upon Edition: current; Page: [99]equal ground; that woods and boggs, short summers, and early winters, were their chief resources; that his own men suffered not so much from their wounds, as from tedious marches, and the loss of their arms. The Gauls were weary of furnishing horses; long and cumbersom was his train of baggage, easily surprized, and with difficulty defended. But, if he entered the country by sea, the invasion would be easy, and the enemy unapprized: besides, the war would be earlier begun; the Legions and provisions would be carried together, and the cavalry brought with safety, through the mouths and channels of the rivers, into the heart of Germany.”

On that method therefore he fixed. Whilst Publius Vitellius and Publius Cantius were sent to collect the tribute of the Gauls; Silius, Anteius, and Cæcina, had the direction of building the fleet. A thousand vessels were thought sufficient, and with dispatch finished: some were short, sharp at both ends, and wide in the middle, the easier to endure the agitations of the waves; some had flat bottoms, that without damage they might bear to run aground: several had helms at each end, that by suddenly turning the oars only, they might work either way. Many were arched over, for carrying the engines of war. They were fitted for holding horses and provisions, to fly with sails, to run with oars; and the spirit and alacrity of the soldiers heightened the shew and terror of the fleet. Edition: current; Page: [100]They were to meet at the Isle of Batavia, which was chosen for its easy landing, for its convenience to receive the forces, and thence to transport them to the war. For the Rhine flowing in one continual channel, or only broken by small islands, is, at the extremity of Batavia, divided, as it were, into two rivers; one running still through Germany, and retaining the same name and violent current, till it mixes with the ocean; the other washing the Gallic shore, with a broader and more gentle stream, is by the inhabitants called by another name, the Wahal, which it soon after changes for that of the Meuse, by whose immense mouth it is discharged into the same ocean.

While the fleet sailed, Germanicus commanded Silius his Lieutenant, with a flying band to invade the Cattians; and he himself, upon hearing that the fort upon the river Luppia was besieged, led six Legions thither. But the sudden rains prevented Silius from doing more than taking some small plunder, with the wife and daughter of Arpus, Prince of the Cattians; nor did the besiegers stay to fight Germanicus, but upon the report of his approach, stole off, and dispersed. As they had, however, thrown down the common tomb lately raised over the Varian Legions, and the old altar erected to Drusus; he restored the altar, and performed in person with the Legions, the funeral ceremony of running courses to the honour of his father. To replace the tomb was not thought fit; but, all the space Edition: current; Page: [101]between fort Aliso and the Rhine, he fortified with a new barrier.

The fleet was now arrived; the provisions were sent forward; ships were assigned to the Legions and the allies; and he entered the canal cut by Drusus, and called by his name. Here he invoked his father, “to be propitious to his son attempting the same enterprizes; to inspire him with the same counsels, and animate him by his example.” Hence he sailed successfully through the lakes and the ocean to the river Amisia. At the town of Amisia the fleet was left, upon the left shore, and it was a fault that it sailed no higher; for he landed the army on the right shore; so that in making bridges many days were consumed. The horse and the Legions passed over without danger, as it was yet ebb; but the returning tide disordered the rear, especially the Batavians, while they played with the waves, and shewed their dexterity in swimming; and some were drowned. Whilst Germanicus was incamping, he was told of the revolt of the Angrivarians behind him; and thither he dispatched a body of horse and light foot, under Stertinius, who with fire and slaughter took vengeance on the perfidious revolters.

Between the Romans and the Cheruscans flowed the river Visurgis, and on the banks of it stood Arminius, with the other chiefs. He inquired whether Germanicus was come; and being answered that he was there, he prayed leave to speak with his brother. This Edition: current; Page: [102]brother of his was in the army, his name Flavius, one remarkable for his lasting faith towards the Romans, and for the loss of an eye in the war under Tiberius. This request was granted. Flavius stepped forward, and was saluted by Arminius, who having removed his own attendants, desired that our archers, ranged upon the opposite banks, might retire. When they were withdrawn, “How came you (says he to his brother) by that deformity in your face?” The brother having informed him where, and in what fight, was next asked, “what reward he had received?” Flavius answered, “Increase of pay, the chain, the crown, and other military gifts;” all which Arminius treated with derision, as the vile wages of servitude.

Here began a warm contest. Flavius pleaded “the grandeur of the Roman Empire, the power of the Emperor, the Roman clemency to submitting nations; the heavy yoke of the vanquished; and that neither the wife, nor son of Arminius, was used like a captive.” Arminius to all this opposed “the natural rights of their country, their ancient liberty; the domestic Gods of Germany; he urged the prayers of their common mother joined to his own, that he would not prefer the character of a deserter, that of a betrayer of his family, his countrymen and kindred, to the glory of being their commander.” By degrees they fell into reproaches; nor would the interposition Edition: current; Page: [103]of the river have restrained them from blows, had not Stertinius hasted to lay hold on Flavius, full of rage, and calling for his arms and his horse. On the opposite side was seen Arminius, swelling with ferocity and threats, and denouncing battle. For, of what he said, much was said in Latin; since, as the General of his countrymen, he had served in the Roman armies.

Next day, the German army stood embatteled beyond the Visurgis. Germanicus, who thought it became not a General to endanger the Legions, till, for their passage and security, he had placed bridges and guards, made the horse ford over. They were led by Stertinius, and by Æmilius Lieutenant-Colonel of a Legion: and these two officers crossed the river in distant places, to divide the foe. Cariovalda, Captain of the Batavians, passed it where most rapid, and was by the Cheruscans, who feigned flight, drawn into a plain surrounded with woods, whence they rushed out upon him and assaulted him on every side; overthrew those who resisted, and pressed vehemently upon those who gave way. The distressed Batavians formed themselves into a ring, but were again broken, partly by a close assault, partly by distant showers of darts. Cariovalda, having long sustained the fury of the enemy, exhorted his men to draw up in platoons, and break through the prevailing host; he himself forced his way into their center, and fell with his horse under a shower Edition: current; Page: [104]of darts, and many of the principal Batavians round him: the rest were saved by their own bravery, or rescued by the cavalry under Stertinius and Æmilius.

Germanicus, having passed the Visurgis, learnt from a deserter, that Arminius had marked out the place of battle; that more nations had also joined him; that they rendevoused in a wood sacred to Hercules, and would attempt to storm our camp by night. The deserter was believed; the enemy’s fires were discerned; and the scouts having advanced towards them, reported that they had heard the neighing of horses, and the hollow murmur of a mighty and tumultuous host. In this important conjuncture, upon the approach of a decisive battle, Germanicus thought it behoved him to learn the inclinations and spirit of the soldiers, and deliberated with himself how to be informed without fraud: “for the reports of the Tribunes and Centurions used to be oftener pleasing than true; his freedmen had still slavish souls, incapable of free speech; friends were apt to flatter; there was the same uncertainty in an assembly, where the counsel proposed by a few, was wont to be echoed by all. The minds of the soldiery were then best known when they were least watched; when free and over their meals, they frankly disclosed their hopes and fears.”

In the beginning of night, he went out at the augural gate, with a single attendant; himself Edition: current; Page: [105]disguised with the skin of a wild beast hanging over his shoulders; and chusing secret ways, he escaped the notice of the watch, entered the lanes of the camp, listened from tent to tent, and enjoyed the pleasing display of his own popularity and fame; as one was magnifying the imperial birth of his General; another his graceful person; all, his patience, condescension, and the equality of his soul in every temper, pleasant or grave. They confessed the gratitude due to so much merit, and that in battle they ought to express it, and to sacrifice at the same time to glory and revenge, these perfidious Germans, who for ever violated stipulations and peace. In the mean time, one of the enemy who understood Latin, rode up to the palisades, and, with a loud voice, offered in the name of Arminius, to every deserter a wife and land, and, as long as the war lasted, an hundred sesterces a day. This contumely kindled the wrath of the Legions: “Let day come, they cried, let battle be given. The soldiers would seize and not accept the lands of the Germans; take and not receive German wives; they, however, received the offer as an omen of victory, and considered the money and women as their destined prey.” Near the third watch of the night, they approached, and insulted the camp, but without striking a blow, when they found the ramparts covered thick with cohorts, and no advantage given.

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Germanicus had the same night a joyful dream: he thought he sacrificed, and, in place of his own robe besmeared with the sacred blood, received one fairer from the hands of his grandmother Augusta; so that elevated by the omen, and by equal encouragement from the auspices, he called an assembly, where he opened his deliberations concerning the approaching battle, with all the advantages contributing to victory; “That to the Roman soldiers, not only plains and dales, but, with due circumspection, even woods and forests were commodious places for an engagement. The huge targets, the enormous spears of the Barbarians, could never be weilded amongst thickets and trunks of trees, like Roman swords and javelins, and armour adjusted to the shape and size of their bodies; so that with these tractable arms they might thicken their blows, and strike with certainty at the naked faces of the enemy; since the Germans were neither furnished with headpiece nor coat of mail; nor were their bucklers bound with leather, or fortified with iron, but all bare basket-work, or painted boards; and though their first ranks were armed with pikes, the rest had only stakes burnt at the end, or short and contemptible darts. For their persons, as they were terrible to sight, and violent in the onset, so they were utterly impatient of wounds, unaffected with their own disgrace, unconcerned for the honour of their General, Edition: current; Page: [107]whom they ever deserted, and fled; in distress cowards, in prosperity despisers of all divine, of all human laws. To conclude, if the army, after their fatigues at sea, and their tedious marches by land, longed for an utter end of their labour; by this battle they might gain it. The Elb was now nearer than the Rhine; and if they would make him a conqueror in those countries where his father and his uncle had conquered, the war was concluded.” The ardour of the soldiers followed the speech of the General, and the signal for the onset was given.

Neither did Arminius, or the other Chiefs, neglect to declare to their several bands, that “these Romans were the cowardly fugitives of the Varian army, who, because they could not endure to fight, had afterwards chosen to rebel: that some with backs deformed by wounds; some with limbs maimed by tempests; forsaken of hope, and the Gods against them, were once more presenting their lives to their vengeful foes. Hitherto a fleet, and unfrequented seas, had been the resources of their cowardice against an assaulting or a pursuing enemy; but now that they were to engage hand to hand, vain would be their relief from wind and oars after a defeat. The Germans needed only remember their rapine, cruelty, and pride; and that to themselves nothing remained, but either to maintain Edition: current; Page: [108]their native liberty, or by death to prevent bondage.”

The enemy thus inflamed, and calling for battle, were led into a plain called Idistavisus: it lies between the Visurgis and the hills, and winds unequally along, as it is streightened by the swellings of the mountains, or enlarged by the circuits of the river. Behind rose a forest of high trees, thick of branches above, but clear of bushes below. The army of Barbarians kept the plain, and the entrances of the forest; only the Cheruscans sat down upon the mountain, in order to pour down from thence upon the Romans, as soon as they became engaged in the fight. Our army marched thus; the auxiliary Gauls and Germans in front, after them the foot archers, next four Legions, then Germanicus with two prætorian Cohorts, and the choice of the cavalry; then four Legions more, and the light foot with archers on horse-back, and the other troops of the allies; the men all careful to march in order of battle, and ready to engage as they marched.

As the impatient bands of Cheruscans were now perceived descending fiercely from the hills, Germanicus commanded a body of the best horse to charge them in the flank, and Stertinius with the rest to wheel round to attack them in the rear, and promised to be ready to assist them in person. During this a joyful omen appeared; eight eagles were seen to fly toward the wood, and to enter it; a presage Edition: current; Page: [109]of victory to the General! “Advance, he cried, follow the Roman birds; follow the tutelar Deities of the Legions.” Instantly the foot charged the enemies front, and instantly the detached cavalry attacked their flank and rear. This double assault had a strange event; the two divisions of their army fled opposite ways; that in the woods ran to the plain; that in the plain rushed into the woods. The Cheruscans between both, were driven from the hills, amongst them Arminius, remarkably brave, who with his hand, his voice, and distinguished wounds, was still sustaining the fight. He had assaulted the archers, and would have broken through them; but the cohorts of the Retians, the Vindelicians, and the Gauls, marched to their relief: however, by his own spirit, and the vigour of his horse, he escaped; his face besmeared with his own blood to avoid being known. Some have related, that the Chaucians, who were amongst the Roman auxiliaries, knew him, and let him go. The same bravery, or deceit, procured Inguiomerus his escape: the rest were every where slain; and great numbers attempting to swim the Visurgis, were destroyed in it, either pursued with darts, or swallowed by the current, or overwhelmed with the weight of the crowd, or buried under the falling banks. Some seeking a base refuge on the tops of trees, and concealment amongst the branches, were shot in sport by the archers, or squashed Edition: current; Page: [110]as the trees were felled. This was a mighty victory, and to us far from bloody!

This slaughter of the foe, from the fifth hour of the day till night, filled the country for ten miles with carcasses and arms. Amongst the spoils, chains were found, which, sure of conquering, they had brought to bind the Roman captives. The soldiers proclaimed Tiberius Imperator upon the field of battle, and, raising a mount, placed upon it as Trophies, the German arms, with the names of all the vanquished nations, inscribed below.

This sight filled the Germans with more anguish and rage, than all their wounds, past afflictions, and slaughters. They, who were just prepared to abandon their dwellings, and flit beyond the Elb, meditate war and grasp their arms. People, nobles, youth, aged, from all quarters, rush suddenly upon the Roman army in its march, and disorder it. They next chose their camp, a streight and moist plain, shut in between a river and a forest; the forest too surrounded with a deep marsh, except on one side, which was closed with a barrier raised by the Angrivarians, between them and the Cheruscans. Here stood their foot: their horse were distributed and concealed amongst the neighbouring groves, thence, by surprize, to beset the Legions in the rear, as soon as they had entered the wood.

Nothing of all this was a secret to Germanicus: he knew their counsels, their stations; Edition: current; Page: [111]what steps they pursued, what measures they concealed; and to the destruction of the enemy turned their own subtilty and devices. To Seius Tubero, his Lieutenant, he committed the horse and the field; the infantry he so disposed, that part might pass the level approaches into the wood; and the rest force the rampart. This was the most arduous task, and to himself he reserved it: the rest he left to his Lieutenants. Those who had the even ground to traverse, broke easily in; but they who were to assail the rampart, were as grievously battered from above, as if they had been storming a wall. The General perceived the inequality of this close attack, and drawing off the Legions a small distance, ordered the slingers to throw, and the engineers to play, to beat off the enemy. Immediately showers of darts were poured from the engines, and the defenders of the barrier, the more bold and exposed they were, with the more wounds they were beaten down. Germanicus, having taken the rampart, first forced his way, at the head of the Prætorian Cohorts, into the woods, and there it was fought foot to foot. Behind, the enemy were begirt with the morass; the Romans with the mountains, or the river; no room for either to retreat, no hope but in valour; no safety but in victory.

The Germans had not inferior courage, but they were exceeded in the fashion of arms and art of fighting. Their mighty multitude, hampered in narrow places, could not push nor Edition: current; Page: [112]recover their long spears; nor practise in a close combat, their usual boundings and velocity of limbs. On the contrary, our soldiers, with handy swords, and their breasts closely guarded with a buckler, delved the large bodies and naked faces of the Barbarians, and opened themselves a way with a havock of the enemy. Besides, the activity of Arminius now failed him; either spent through his continual efforts, or slackened by a wound just received. Inguiomerus, was every-where upon the spur, animating the battle; but fortune, rather than courage, deserted him. Germanicus, to be the easier known, pulled off his helmet, and exhorted his men, “to prosecute the slaughter; they wanted no captives, he said; only the cutting off that people root and branch, would put an end to the war.” It was now late in the day, and he drew off a Legion to make a camp; the rest glutted themselves till night with the blood of the foe. The horse fought with doubtful success.

Germanicus, in a speech from the tribunal, praised his victorious army, and raised a monument of arms, with a proud Inscription, That the army of Tiberius Cæsar, having vanquished intirely the nations between the Rhine and the Elb, had consecrated that monument to Mars, to Jupiter, and to Augustus. Of himself he made no mention, either fearful of provoking envy, or that he thought it sufficient praise to have deserved it. He had next commanded Edition: current; Page: [113]Stertinius, to carry the war amongst the Angrivarians; but they instantly submitted; and these supplicants, by yielding without articles, obtained pardon without reserve.

The summer now declining, some of the Legions were sent back into winter-quarters, by land; more were embarked with Germanicus, upon the river Amisia, to go from thence by the ocean. The sea, at first, was serene, no sound or agitation, except from the oars or sails of a thousand ships; but, suddenly a black host of clouds poured a storm of hail; furious winds roared on every side, and the tempest darkened the deep, so that all prospect was lost; and it was impossible to steer. The soldiers too, unaccustomed to the terrors of the sea, in the hurry of fear disordered the mariners, or interrupted the skilful by unskilful help. At last, the south-wind mastering all the rest, drove the ocean and the sky. The tempest derived new force from the windy mountains and swelling rivers of Germany, as well as from an immense train of clouds; and contracting withal fresh vigour from the boisterous neighbourhood of the north, it hurled the ships, and tossed them into the open ocean, or against islands shored with sharp rocks, or dangerously beset with covered shoals. The ships, by degrees, with great labour, and the change of the tide, were relieved from the rocks and sands, but remained at the mercy of the winds; their anchors could not hold them; they were full of water, nor could all their pumps discharge Edition: current; Page: [114]it; hence, to lighten and raise the vessels swallowing at their decks the invading waves, the horses, beasts, baggage, and even the arms, were cast into the deep.

By how much the German ocean is more outrageous than the rest of the sea, and the German climate excels in rigour, by so much this ruin was reckoned to exceed in greatness and novelty. They were engaged in a tempestuous sea, believed deep without bottom, vast without bounds, or no shores near but hostile shores. Part of the fleet were swallowed up; many were driven upon remote islands, void of human culture, where the men perished through famine, or were kept alive by the carcasses of horses, cast in by the flood. Only the galley of Germanicus landed upon the coast of the Chaucians, where, wandring sadly, day and night, upon the rocks and prominent shore, and incessantly accusing himself as the author of such mighty destruction, he was hardly restrained by his friends, from casting himself desperately into the same hostile floods. At last, with the returning tide, and an assisting gale, the ships began to return, all maimed, almost destitute of oars, or with coats spread for sails; and, some utterly disabled, were dragged by those that were less. He repaired them hastily, and dispatched them to search the islands; and by this care many men were gleaned up, many were by the Angrivarians, our new subjects, redeemed from their maritime neighbours, and restored; and some, driven Edition: current; Page: [115]into Great Britain, were sent back by the little British Kings. Those who had come from afar, recounted wonders at their return, “the impetuosity of whirlwinds; wonderful birds; sea-monsters of ambiguous forms between man and beast;” strange fights; or the effects of imagination and fear.

The noise of this wreck, as it animated the Germans with hopes of renewing the war, awakened Germanicus also to restrain them. He commanded Caius Silius, with thirty thousand foot, and three thousand horse, to march against the Cattians; he himself, with a greater force, invaded the Marsians, where he learnt from Malovendus, their General, lately taken into our subjection, that the Eagle of one of Varus’s Legions, was hid under ground in a neighbouring grove, and kept by a slender guard. Instantly two parties were dispatched; one, to face the enemy, and provoke them from their post; the other to beset their rear, and dig up the Eagle; and success attended both. Hence Germanicus advanced with greater alacrity, laid waste the country, and smote the foe, either not daring to engage, or, where-ever they engaged, suddenly defeated; nor, as we learnt from the prisoners, were they ever seized with greater dismay. “The Romans, they cried, are invincible; no calamities can subdue them. They have wrecked their fleet; their arms are lost, our shores are covered with the bodies of their horses and men: Yet they attack us with their usual Edition: current; Page: [116]ferocity, with the same firmness, and with numbers, as it were, increased.

The army was from thence led back into winter-quarters, full of joy to have balanced, by this prosperous expedition, their late misfortune at sea; and by the bounty of Germanicus, their joy was heightened, since to each sufferer he caused to be paid as much as each declared he had lost; neither was it doubted but the enemy were humbled, and concerting measures for obtaining peace, and that the next summer would terminate the war. But Tiberius, by frequent letters urged him “to come home, there to celebrate the triumph already decreed him; he had already tried enough of events, and tempted abundant hazards. He had indeed fought great and successful battles; but he must likewise remember his losses and calamities, which, however owing to wind and waves, and no fault of the General, were yet great and grievous. He himself had been sent nine times into Germany by Augustus, and effected much more by policy than arms: it was thus he had brought the Sigambrians into subjection, thus drawn the Suevians, and King Maroboduus, under the bonds of peace. The Cheruscans too, and the other hostile nations, now the Roman vengeance was satiated, might be left to pursue their own national feuds.” Germanicus besought one year to accomplish his conquest; but Tiberius assailed his modesty with a new Edition: current; Page: [117]bait, and fresh importunity, by offering him another Consulship, for the administration of which he was to attend in person at Rome: he added, “that if the war was still to be prosecuted, Germanicus should leave a field of glory to his brother Drusus, to whom there now remained no other; since the Empire had no-where a war to maintain but in Germany, and thence only Drusus could acquire the title of Imperator, and merit the triumphal laurel.” Germanicus persisted no longer, though he knew that this was all feigned and hollow, and saw himself invidiously torn away from a harvest of ripe glory.

About this time, Libo Drusus, of the Scribonian family, was arraigned for meditating attempts against the State. And, because then first were devised those pestilent arts and impeachments, which for so many years devoured the Commonwealth, I will lay open with the more exactness the beginning, progress and issue of this affair. Firmius Catus the Senator, a close confident of Libo, traiterously misled that youth, unwary as he was, and easy to be ensnared, with specious delusions; engaged him to try the predictions of the Chaldeans, the superstitious rites of Magicians, and the interpreters of dreams; and to flatter his hopes and ambition, was incessantly magnifying the nobility of his race; for that Pompey was “his great grand-father, Scribonia, once the wife of Augustus, his aunt, the Cæsars his kinsmen; and his house full of images;” Edition: current; Page: [118]tempted him to luxury and borrowing; was associated with him in his debauches, surety for his debts, and all to accumulate more matter for crimes and evidence.

When he found himself furnished with store of witnesses, and amongst them some of Libo’s slaves, who were also privy to the obnoxious conduct of their master, he sought admittance to the Emperor; having first by Flaccus Vescularius, a Roman Knight, intimate with Tiberius, represented to him Libo as a criminal, as also a detail of his crimes. Tiberius slighted not his information, but denied him access, “for that the communication, he said, might be still managed by the same Flaccus.” In the mean time, he preferred Libo to the Prætorship, entertained him at his table, shewed no strangeness in his countenance, no resentment in his words (so deeply had he smothered his vengeance); and, when he might have restrained all the dangerous speeches and practices of Libo, he chose rather to permit them, in order to know and punish them: nor were they checked or made public, till one Junius, who was dealt with to call up by charms the infernal shades, discovered this to Fulcinius Trio, a distinguished accuser, one greedy of renown in wickedness. Instantly Trio marked out the doom of the accused, hastened to the Consuls, and of them demanded that the Senate might meet and adjudge him. Thus the fathers were forthwith summoned, and even apprized, that “upon an affair of Edition: current; Page: [119]mighty moment and horrible tendency to the State, they were to deliberate.”

Libo, the while, having changed his dress, went covered with mourning, from house to house, accompanied by Ladies of the noblest rank, and implored the mediation of his kindred, that they would protect him against impending ruin, and speak in his behalf. But every one of them declined his suit, each upon a different pretence; yet, in reality, all from the same fear. The day the Senate sat for his trial, vanquished with dread, and sinking under sickness; or, as some relate, feigning it, he was borne in a litter to the court, and, leaning upon his brother, with supplicant hands and words, he accosted and strove to soften Tiberius, who received him with a countenance perfectly unmoved. It was the Emperor who next recited the charge against him, and the authors of the charge; but with such wary moderation, that he might seem neither to soften nor sharpen his crimes.

To Trio and Catus, two other accusers, Fonteius Agrippa and Caius Vibius, joined themselves, and strove who should have the right to implead the accused. At last, when neither would yield, and Libo was come unprovided with a pleader, Vibius undertook to maintain distinctly the several heads of the charge, and produced articles so extravagant, that amongst the rest it was one, how Libo had consulted the fortune-tellers, “whether he should ever be master of opulence sufficient Edition: current; Page: [120]to cover the great Appian road with money as far as Brundusium.” There were others of the same kind, foolish, chimerical, or (taken in tenderer sense) deserving pity. But there was one article formed upon a paper, containing the names of the Cæsars as well as those of some Senators, with mysterious characters, and malignant notes joined to them. This the accuset urged against Libo, as written in his own hand. Libo denied it, and hence it was proposed to examine by torture his conscious slaves. But, seeing it was forbid by an ancient law of the Senate, to put servants to the question, in a trial touching the life of their master, the crafty Tiberius invented a new law, to elude the old, and ordered these slaves to be sold to the public steward, that, by this expedient, evidence against Libo might be racked from his servants, without violating the law. In this state of despondency, Libo requested respite till the next day; and then returning to his own house, transmitted, by his kinsman Publius Quirinus, his last prayers to the Emperor, who replied, that “he must make his request to the Senate.”

His house was in the mean time encompassed with a band of soldiers, who with studied noise and terror were filling all the court, on purpose to create certain attention and alarm, just when Libo sat down to the banquet, which, as the ultimate pleasure of his life, he had prepared. But, then feeling agonies instead of pleasure, he called for a minister of death, successively Edition: current; Page: [121]grasped the hands of his slaves, and into them, by turns, strove to squeeze a sword. But they, as they trembled and shunned the sad task, through the hurry of fear and flight overturning the lamp that illuminated the table; in this ominous and tragical darkness, he gave himself two deadly stabs in the bowels. As he groaned and fell, his freedmen sprang in, and the soldiers, seeing the slaughter perpetrated, retired. The charge against him was however pushed in the Senate, with the same unrelenting eagerness. Yet Tiberius vowed, “that he would have interceded for his life, notwithstanding his treason, if he had not thus hastily died by his own hands.”

His estate was divided amongst his accusers; and those of them who bore the rank of Senators, were, without the regular way of election, preferred to Prætorships. Then Cotta Messalinus proposed, that “the image of Libo might not accompany the funerals of his posterity;” Cneius Lentulus, that “none of the Scribonii should henceforth assume the sirname of Drusus;” and at the motion of Pomponius Flaccus, days of thanksgiving were appointed. That “gifts should be presented to Jupiter, to Mars, and to the Goddess Concord; and that the thirteenth of September, the day on which Libo slew himself, should be an established festival,” were the votes of Lucius Publius, of Asinius Gallus, of Papius Mutilius, and of Lucius Apronius. I have related the votes and sycophancy Edition: current; Page: [122]of these men, to shew that adulation is an inveterate evil in the state. Decrees of the Senate were likewise made for driving Astrologers and Magicians out of Italy; and one of the herd, Lucius Pituanius, was precipitated from the Tarpeian Rock. Publius Marcius, another, was by judgment of the Consuls, at the sound of trumpet, executed without the Esquiline Gate, according to the ancient form.

Next time the Senate sat, long discourses against the luxury of the city were made by Quintus Haterius, a Consular, and by Octavius Fronto, formerly Prætor, and a law was passed “against using table-plate of solid gold; and against men’s debasing themselves with gorgeous and effeminate silks.” Fronto went farther, and desired that “the quantities of silver-plate, the expence of furniture, and the number of domestics, might be limited.” For it was yet common for Senators to depart from the present debate, and offer, as their advice, whatever they judged conducing to the interest of the Commonweal. Against him it was argued by Asinius Gallus, “that with the growth of the Empire, private riches were likewise grown, and it was no new thing for citizens to live according to their conditions, but, indeed, agreeable to the most primitive usage. The ancient Fabricii, and the latter Scipios, having different wealth, lived differently; but all suitably to the several stages of the Commonwealth. Edition: current; Page: [123]Public poverty was accompanied with domestic; but, when the State rose to such a height of magnificence, the magnificence of particulars rose too. As to plate, and train, and expence, there was no standard of excess or frugality, but from the fortunes of men. The law, indeed, had made a distinction between the fortunes of Senators and of Knights; not for any natural difference between them; but that they who excelled in place, rank, and civil pre-eminence, might excel too in other particulars, such as conduced to the health of the body, or to the peace and solacement of the soul; unless it were expected, that the most illustrious citizens should sustain the sharpest cares, and undergo the heaviest fatigues and dangers, but continue destitute of every alleviation of fatigue, and danger, and care.” Gallus easily prevailed, whilst, under worthy names, he avowed and supported popular vices in an assembly engaged in them. Tiberius too had said, “that it was not a season for reformation; or, if there were any corruption of manners, there would not be wanting one to correct them.”

During these transactions, Lucius Piso, after he had declaimed bitterly, in the Senate, against “the cabals and intrigues of the Forum, the corruption of the tribunals, and the inhumanity of the pleaders breathing continual terror and impeachments,” declared, “he would intirely relinquish Rome, and retire Edition: current; Page: [124]into a quiet corner of the country, far distant and obscure.” With these words he left the Senate. Tiberius was provoked; and yet not only soothed him with gentle words, but likewise obliged Piso’s relations, by their authority or entreaties to retain him. The same Piso gave soon after an equal instance of the indignation of a free spirit, by prosecuteing a suit against Urgulania; a Lady whom the partial friendship of Livia had set at defiance with the laws. Urgulania being carried, for protection, to the palace, despised the efforts of Piso; so that neither did she submit, nor would he desist, notwithstanding the complaints and resentments of Livia, that, in the prosecution, “violence and indignity were done to her own person.” Tiberius promised to attend the trial, and assist Urgulania; but only promised in civility to his mother, for so far he thought it became him; and thus left the palace, ordering his guards to follow at a distance. People, the while, crowded about him, and he walked with a slow and composed air. As he lingered, and prolonged the time and way with various discourse, the trial went on; Piso would not be mollified by the importunity of his friends; and hence at last the Empress ordered the payment of the money claimed by him. This was the issue of the affair. By it Piso lost no renown; and it signally increased the credit of Tiberius. The power however of Urgulania was so exorbitant to the State, that she disdained to appear Edition: current; Page: [125]a witness in a certain cause before the Senate; and, when it had been always usual, even for the Vestal virgins to attend the Forum, and Courts of Justice, as oft as their evidence was required; a Prætor was sent to examine Urgulania at her own house.

The procrastination which happened this year in the public affairs, I should not mention, but that the different opinions of Cneius Piso and Asinius Gallus about it, are worth knowing. Their dispute was occasioned by a declaration of Tiberius; “that he was about to be absent.” And it was the motion of Piso, “that for that very reason, the prosecution of public business was the rather to be continued; since, as in the Prince’s absence, the Senate and Equestrian order might administer their several parts, the same would become the dignity of the Commonwealth.” This was a declaration for liberty, and in it Piso had prevented Gallus, who now, in opposition, said, “that nothing sufficiently illustrious, nor suiting the dignity of the Roman people, could be transacted but under the immediate eye of the Emperor, and therefore the conflux of suitors, and the affairs from Italy, and the provinces, must by all means be reserved for his presence.” Tiberius heard, and was silent, while the debate was managed on both sides with mighty vehemence; but the adjournment was carried.

A debate too arose between Gallus and the Emperor; for, Gallus moved, “that the Edition: current; Page: [126]Magistrates should be henceforth elected but once every five years; that the legates of the Legions, who had never exercised the Prætorships, should be appointed Prætors; and that the Prince should nominate twelve candidates every year.” It was not doubted but this motion had a deeper aim, and that by it the secret springs and reserves of imperial power were invaded. But Tiberius, as if he rather apprehended the augmentation of his authority, argued, “that it was a heavy task upon his moderation, to chuse so many Magistrates, and to postpone so many candidates; that disgusts from disappointments were hardly avoided in yearly elections; though, for their solacement, fresh hopes remained of approaching success in the next; now how great must be the hatred, how lasting the resentment of such whose pretensions were to be rejected beyond five years? and whence could it be foreseen, that, in so long a tract of time, the same men would continue to have the same dispositions, the same alliances and fortunes? even an annual designation to power, made men imperious; how imperious would it make them, if they bore the honour for five years! besides, it would multiply every single Magistrate into five, and utterly subvert the laws which had prescribed a proper space for exercising the diligence of the candidates, and for solliciting as well as enjoying preferments.”

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By this speech, in appearance popular, he still retained the spirit and force of the sovereignty. He likewise sustained by gratuities the dignity of some necessitous Senators. Hence it was the more wondered, that he received with haughtiness and repulse the petition of Marcus Hortalus, a young man of signal quality, and manifestly poor. He was the grandson of Hortensius the Orator; and had been encouraged by the deified Augustus with a bounty of a thousand great sesterces a , to marry for posterity, purely to prevent the extinction of a family so eminently illustrious. The Senate were sitting in the palace, and Hortalus having set his four children before the door, fixed his eyes, now upon the statue of Hortensius, placed amongst the Orators; then upon that of Augustus; and, instead of speaking to the question then debated, began on this wise: “Conscript fathers, you see there the number and infancy of my children; not mine by my own choice, but in compliance with the advice of the Prince. Such too was the splendor of my ancestors, that it merited to be perpetuated in their race. But, for my own particular, who, marred by the revolution of the times, could not raise wealth, nor engage popular favour, nor cultivate the hereditary fortune of our house, the fortune of Eloquence; I deemed it sufficient, if, in my narrow circumstances, Edition: current; Page: [128]I lived no disgrace to myself, no burden to others. Commanded by the Emperor, I took a wife: behold the offspring of so many Consuls; behold the descendants of so many Dictators! nor is this remembrance invidiously made, but made to move mercy. In the progress of your reign, Cæsar, these children may arrive at the honours in your gift. Defend them in the mean time from want: they are the great grandsons of Hortensius; they are the foster sons of Augustus.

The inclination of the Senate was favourable, an incitement to Tiberius the more eagerly to thwart Hortalus. These were in effect his words: “If all that are poor recur hither for a provision of money to their children, the public will certainly fail, yet particulars never be satiated. Our ancestors, when they permitted a departure from the question, to propose somewhat more important to the state, did not therefore permit it, that we might here transact domestic matters, and augment our private rents; an employment invidious both in the Senate and the Prince; since, whether they grant or deny the petitioned bounties, either the people or the petitioners will ever be offended. But these, in truth, are not petitions; they are demands made against order, and made by surprize. While you are assembled upon other affairs, he stands up, and urges your pity, by the number and infancy Edition: current; Page: [129]of his children; with the same violence, he changes the attack to me, and, as it were, bursts open the exchequer. But, if by popular bounties we exhaust it, by rapine and oppression we must supply it. The deified Augustus gave you money, Hortalus; but without sollicitation he gave it, and on no condition that it should always be given: otherwise diligence will languish; sloth will prevail; and men having no hopes in resources of their own; no anxiety for themselves, but all securely relying on foreign relief, will become private sluggards and public burdens.” These and the like reasonings of Tiberius were differently received; with approbation by those whose way it is to extol, without distinction, all the doings of Princes, worthy and unworthy; by most, however, with silence, or low and discontented murmurs. Tiberius perceived it, and having paused a little, said, “his answer was particularly to Hortalus; but, if the Senate thought fit, he would give his sons two hundred great sesterces b each.” For this all the Senators presented their thanks; only Hortalus said nothing; perhaps through present awe, or perhaps possessed, even in poverty, with the grandeur of his ancient nobility. Nor did Tiberius ever shew farther pity, though the house of Hortensius was fallen into shameful distress.

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The same year, the boldness of a single bondman had, but for early prevention, torn the state with great combustions and civil arms. A slave of Posthumus Agrippa, his name Clemens, having learnt the death of Augustus, conceived a design to sail to Planasia, and there releasing Agrippa by art or force, to carry him to the armies in Germany. No slavish design! but, the slowness of the laden vessel defeated his bold purpose; for Agrippa was already murdered. Hence he conceived views still higher and more daring. He stole the funeral ashes, and sailing to Cosa, a promontory of Etruria, hid himself in desart places, till his hair and beard were grown long; for, in age and person, he was not unlike his master. Then, a report spread by trusty emissaries and the associates of the plot, “that Agrippa lived,” began to thicken. It first crept abroad in dark whispers, as usual in matters of dangerous tendency; but becoming soon a prevailing rumour, it filled the greedy ears of the credulous, or was encouraged by turbulent minds, such as are ever fond of public agitations and changes. He himself, when he entered the neighbouring towns, did it in the gloom of the day; never to be seen publicly, nor long in the same place. But, as truth is strengthened by observation and time; lies by haste and uncertainty, he out-ran fame. Here he staid not to be known; there he arrived before his name arrived.

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It flew through Italy, in the mean time, “that, by the bounty of the Gods, Agrippa was preserved.” It was even believed at Rome. His supposed arrival at Ostia, was celebrated by great multitudes abroad; and in the city by clandestine cabals; whilst divided cares distracted Tiberius, whether he should suppress his slave by the power of the sword, or suffer the empty credulity of the public to vanish with time. Now he thought that nothing was to be slighted; now that every thing was not to be dreaded, wavering between shame and fear. At last he committed the affair to Sallustius Crispus. Crispus chose two of his creatures, (some say two soldiers) and directed them to go directly to him, to feign themselves his adherents, men who were conscious that he was the genuine Agrippa, to present him with money, and to promise him, without reserve, their faith and fortunes. They instantly executed these orders, and afterwards spying him one night without guards, and being themselves furnished with a proper band of men, they carried him to the palace, gagged and bound. To Tiberius, when he asked him, “how he was become Agrippa?” he is said to have answered, “Just as you became Cæsar.” But, to discover his accomplices, he could never be constrained. Neither dared Tiberius venture to execute him publicly, but ordered him to be dispatched in a secret part of the palace, and his body to be carried privately away; and, though many Edition: current; Page: [132]of the Prince’s houshold, many Knights and Senators, were said to have supported him with money, and assisted him with their Counsels; no enquiry followed.

At the end of the year, a triumphal arch was raised near the Temple of Saturn, as a monument for the recovery of the Varian Eagles, under the conduct of Germanicus, and the auspices of Tiberius. A Temple was dedicated to happy Fortune near the Tiber, in the Gardens bequeathed to the Roman people by Cæsar the Dictator. A Chapel was consecrated to the Julian family, and statues to the deified Augustus, in the suburbs called Bovillæ. In the Consulship of Caius Celius and Lucius Pomponius, the six and twentieth of May, Germanicus Cæsar triumphed over the Cheruscans, the Cattians, the Angrivarians, and the other nations as far as the Elb. In the triumph were carried all the spoils and captives, with the representations of mountains, of rivers, and of battles; so that his conquests, because he was restrained from compleating them, were taken for compleat. His own graceful person, and his chariot filled with his five children, heightened the shew and the delight of the beholders. Yet they were checked with secret fears; as they remembered, “that popular favour had proved malignant to his father Drusus; that his uncle Marcellus was snatched, in his youth, from the burning affections of the populace, and, that ever Edition: current; Page: [133]short-lived and unfortunate were the favourites of the Roman people.”

Tiberius distributed to the people in the name of Germanicus, three hundred sesterces c a man, and named himself his Collegue in the Consulship. Nor even thus did he gain the opinion of tenderness and sincerity. In effect, on pretence of investing the young Prince with fresh preferment and honours, he resolved to alienate him from Rome; and, to accomplish it, craftily framed an occasion, or snatched such a one as chance presented. Archelaus had enjoyed the Kingdom of Cappadocia now fifty years, a Prince under the deep displeasure of Tiberius, because in his retirement at Rhodes, the King had paid him no sort of court nor distinction; an omission which proceeded from no disdain, but from the warnings given him by the confidents of Augustus; for that the young Caius Cæsar, the presumptive heir to the Sovereignty, then lived, and was sent to compose and administer the affairs of the East; hence the friendship of Tiberius was reckoned then dangerous. But when, by the utter fall of the family of the Cæsars, he had gained the Empire, he enticed Archelaus to Rome, by means of letters from his mother, who, without dissembling her son’s resentment, offered the King his mercy, provided he came and in person implored it. He, who was either ignorant of the Edition: current; Page: [134]snare, or dreaded violence if he had appeared to perceive it, hastened to the City; where he was received by Tiberius with great sternness and wrath, and soon after accused as a criminal in the Senate. The crimes alledged against him were mere fictions; yet, as equal treatment is unusual to Kings, and, to be treated like malefactors, intolerable; Archelaus, who was broken with grief as well as age, by choice or fate ended his life. His Kingdom was reduced into a province, and by its revenues Tiberius declared, the tax of the hundredth penny would be abated, and reduced it for the future to the two hundredth. At the same time died Antiochus, King of Comagena, as also Philopater, King of Cilicia; and great combustions shook these nations; whilst many of the people desired the Roman Government, and many were addicted to domestic Monarchy. The provinces too of Syria and Judea, as they were oppressed with impositions, prayed an abatement of tribute.

These affairs, and such as I have above related concerning Armenia, Tiberius represented to the Fathers, and, “that the commotions of the East could only be settled by the wisdom and abilities of Germanicus. For himself; his age now declined, and that of Drusus was not yet sufficiently ripe.” The provinces beyond the sea were thence decreed to Germanicus, with authority superior to all those who obtained provinces by lot, or the nomination of the Prince. But, Edition: current; Page: [135]Tiberius had already taken care to remove from the government of Syria Creticus Silanus, one united to Germanicus in domestic alliance, by having betrothed his daughter to Nero, the eldest son of Germanicus. In his room he had preferred Cneius Piso, a man of violent temper, incapable of subjection, and heir to all the ferocity and haughtiness of his father Piso; the same who, in the civil war, assisted the reviving party against Cæsar in Africa, with vehement efforts, then followed Brutus and Cassius, but had at last leave to come home; yet disdained to sue for any public offices; nay, was even courted by Augustus to accept the Consulship. His son, besides his hereditary pride and impetuosity, was elevated with the nobility and wealth of Plancina his wife. Scarce yielded he to Tiberius, and, as men far beneath him, despised the sons of Tiberius. Neither did he doubt but he was set over Syria on purpose to defeat all the views of Germanicus. Some even believed, that he had to this purpose secret orders from Tiberius; as it was certain, that Livia directed Plancina to exert the spirit of the sex, and by constant emulation and indignities, to persecute Agrippina. For, the whole court was rent, and their affections secretly divided between Drusus and Germanicus. Tiberius was partial to Drusus, as his own son by generation; others loved Germanicus; the more for the aversion of his uncle, and for being by his mother, of more Edition: current; Page: [136]illustrious descent; as Marc Anthony was his grandfather, and Augustus his great uncle. On the other side, Pomponius Atticus, a Roman Knight, by being the great grandfather of Drusus, seemed thence to have derived a stain upon the images of the Claudian house. Besides, Agrippina, the wife of Germanicus, did in the fruitfulness of her body, and the reputation of her virtue, far excel Livia the wife of Drusus. Yet the two brothers lived in amiable dearness and concord, no wife shaken or estranged by the reigning contention amongst their separate friends and adherents.

Drusus was soon after sent into Illyricum in order to inure him to war, and gain him the affections of the army. Besides, Tiberius thought that the youth, who lived wantoning in the luxuries of Rome, would be reformed in the camp, and that his own security would be enlarged when both his sons were at the head of the Legions. But, the pretence for sending him was the protection of the Suevians, who were then imploring assistance against the power of the Cheruscans. For, these nations, who since the departure of the Romans, saw themselves no longer threatened with terrors from abroad, and were then particularly engaged in a national competition for glory, had relapsed, as usual, into their old intestine feuds, and turned their arms upon each other. The two people were equally powerful, their two leaders equally brave, but differently esteemed, as the title of King, had Edition: current; Page: [137]drawn upon Maroboduus the hate and aversion of his countrymen; whilst Arminius, as a champion warring for the defence of liberty, was the universal object of popular affection.

Hence not only the Cheruscans and their confederates, they who had been the ancient soldiery of Arminius, took arms; but to him too revolted the Semnones and Langobards, both Suevian nations, and even subjects of Maroboduus; and by their accession he would have exceeded in puissance, but Inguiomerus with his band of followers deserted to Maroboduus; for no other cause than disdain, that an old man and an uncle like himself, should obey Arminius a young man his nephew. Both armies were drawn out, with equal hopes; nor disjointed, like the old German battles, into scattered parties for loose and random attacks; for, by long war with us, they had learnt to follow their ensigns, to strengthen their main body with parties of reserve, and to observe the orders of their Generals. Arminius was now on horseback viewing all the ranks: as he rode through them he magnified their passed feats; “their liberty recovered, the slaughtered Legions; the spoils of arms wrested from the Romans; monuments of victory still retained in some of their hands.” Upon Maroboduus he fell with contumelious names, as “a fugitive, one of no abilities in war; a coward, who had sought defence from the gloomy coverts of the Hercynian wood, and then by gifts and sollicitations, Edition: current; Page: [138]courted the alliance of Rome; a betrayer of his country, a lifeguard-man of Cæsar’s, worthy to be exterminated with no less hostile vengeance than in the slaughter of Quinctilius Varus they had shewn. Let them only remember so many battles bravely fought; the events of which, particularly the utter expulsion of the Romans, were sufficient proofs with whom remained the glory of the war.”

Neither did Maroboduus fail to boast himself, and depreciate the foe. “In the person of Inguiomerus, he said, (holding him by the hand) rested the whole renown of the Cheruscans; and from his counsels began all their exploits that ended in success. Arminius, a man of a frantic spirit, and a novice in affairs, assumed to himself the glory of another, for having by treachery surprized three Legions, which expected no foe, and their leader, who feared no fraud; a base surprize, revenged since on Germany with heavy slaughters, and on Arminius himself with domestic infamy, while his wife and his son still bore the bonds of captivity. For himself; when attacked formerly by Tiberius at the head of twelve Legions, he had preserved unstained the glory of Germany, and on equal terms ended the war. Nor did he repent of the treaty, since it was still in their hands to wage, anew, equal war with the Romans, or save blood and maintain peace.” The armies, besides the incitements Edition: current; Page: [139]from these speeches, were animated by national stimulations of their own. The Cheruscans fought for their ancient renown, the Langobards for their recent liberty; and the Suevians and their King, on the contrary, were struggling for the augmentation of their monarchy. Never did armies make a fiercer onset, never had onset a more ambiguous event; for, both the right wings were routed, and hence a fresh encounter was certainly expected, until Maroboduus drew off his army and encamped upon the hills; a manifest sign that he was humbled; frequent desertions too leaving him at last naked of forces, he retired to the Marcomannians, and thence sent Embassadors to Tiberius, to implore succours. They were answered, “That he had no right to invoke aid of the Roman arms against the Cheruscans; since to the Romans, while they were warring with the same foe, he had never administered any assistance.” Drusus was however sent away, as I have said, with the character of a negociator of peace.

The same year, twelve noble cities of Asia were overturned by an earthquake. The ruine happened in the night, and the more dreadful as its warnings were unobserved. Neither availed the usual sanctuary against such calamities; namely, a flight to the fields; since those who fled, the gaping earth devoured. It is reported, “That mighty mountains subsided, plains were heaved into high hills; and that with flashes and eruptions of fire, the mighty Edition: current; Page: [140]devastation was every where accompanied.” The Sardians felt most heavily the rage of the concussion, and therefore most compassion; Tiberius promised them a hundred thousand great sesterces d , and remitted their taxes for five years. The inhabitants of Magnesia under Mount Sipylus, were held the next in sufferings, and had proportionable relief. The Temnians, Philadelphians, the Egeatæans, Apollonians, with those called the Mostenians or Macedonians of Hyrcania, the cities too of Hierocæsarea, Myrina, Cyme and Tmolus; were all for the same term eased of tribute. It was likewise resolved to send one of the Senate to view the desolations, and administer proper remedies. Marcus Aletus was therefore chosen, one of Prætorian rank; because a Consular Senator then governing Asia, had another of the like quality been sent, an emulation between equals was apprehended, and consequently opposition and delays.

The credit of this noble bounty to the public, he increased by private liberalities, which proved equally popular; the estate of the wealthy Emilla Musa, claimed by the exchequer, as she died intestate, he surrendered to Emilius Lepidus, to whose family she seemed to belong; as also to Marcus Servilius, the inheritance of Patuleius, a rich Roman Knight, though part of it had been bequeathed to himself; but he found Servilius named Edition: current; Page: [141]sole heir in a former and well-attested will. He said, such was “the nobility of both, that they deserved to be supported.” Nor did he ever accept to himself any man’s inheritance, but where former friendship gave him a title. The wills of such as were strangers to him, and of such as, from hate and prejudice to others, had appointed the Prince their heir, he utterly rejected. But, as he relieved the honest poverty of the virtuous, so he degraded from the Senate, (or suffered to quit it of their own accord) Vibidius Varro, Marius Nepos, Appius Appianus, Cornelius Sylla, and Quintus Vitellius, all prodigals, and only through debauchery indigent.

About this time, Tiberius finished and consecrated what Augustus began, the Temples of the Gods consumed by age or fire; that near the great Circus, vowed by Aulus Posthumius the Dictator, to Bacchus, Proserpina and Ceres; in the same place the Temple of Flora, founded by Lucius Publicius and Marcus Publicius, while they were Ædiles; the Temple of Janus, built in the Herb-Market by Caius Duillius, who first signalized the Roman power at sea, and merited a naval triumph over the Carthaginians. That of Hope was dedicated by Germanicus. This Temple Atilius had vowed in the same war.

The Law of violated Majesty, in the mean time, waxed intense, and by it an accuser impleaded Apuleia Varilia, grand-niece to Augustus by his sister; for that with opprobrious Edition: current; Page: [142]words she had reviled the deified Augustus, Tiberius and his mother; and being nearly allied to the Emperor, had stained by adultery the Cæsarean blood. Concerning the adultery, sufficient provision was thought already made by the Julian Law; and the crimes of state, Tiberius desired, might be separated: “If she had uttered impious speeches of Augustus, she must be condemned; but, for invectives against himself, he would not have her called to any account.” The Consul asked him, “What would be his sentiments, if she were convicted of defaming his mother?” To this he made no answer; but next sitting of the Senate, he prayed too in her name, “That no words spoken against her, might to any one be imputed for crimes;” and acquitted Apuleia of the treason; of her punishment too for adultery, he begged a mitigation, and prevailed, that, “by the example of our ancestors, she should be removed by her kindred two hundred miles from Rome.” Manlius her adulterer was interdicted Italy and Africa.

A debate at this time arose about substitueing a Prætor in the room of Vipsanius Gallus, removed by death. Germanicus and Drusus (for they were yet at Rome) espoused Haterius Agrippa, kinsman to Germanicus. Many, on the contrary, insisted, that the number of children should decide it, and the candidate who had most be preferred; for this was the voice of the law. Tiberius rejoiced Edition: current; Page: [143]to see the Senate engaged in a contention between his sons and the laws. The law, without doubt, was vanquished, yet not instantly, and by a small majority; but with the same struggle that laws were vanquished when laws were in force.

This year a war began in Africa, conducted by Tacfarinas. He was a native of Numidia, and had served amongst the auxiliaries in the Roman armies, but deserting the service, gathered together, by the allurements of booty and rapine, at first a herd of vagabonds and men inured to robberies; then formed them, like an army, into regular companies of foot, and troops of horse, under distinct standards and colours. At length he was no longer esteemed the leader of a disorderly gang, but considered as General of the Musulanians. This powerful people, borderers upon the desarts of Africa, still wild, and without towns, took arms, and drew into the war the neighbouring Moors. These too had a General of their own, his name Mazippa; and between the two leaders the army was divided, that, whilst Tacfarinas encamped with the best men, armed after the fashion of Romans, and accustomed them to discipline and command, Mazippa, with a flying band, might make excursions on every side, with fire, slaughter, and alarms. They had likewise forced the Cinithians into their measures, a nation no wise despicable; when Furius Camillus, Proconsul of Africa, marched against the enemy Edition: current; Page: [144]with one Legion, and what troops of the Allies were under his command; a handful of men at most, when compared to the multitude of Numidians and Moors! But it was his first care not to intimidate them with numbers, and thence tempt them to elude fighting, and prolong the war. Indeed, he gave them hopes of victory, only to enable himself to vanquish them. The Legion was placed in the center, the light cohorts, and two wings of horse on the right and left. Nor did Tacfarinas decline the combat. The Numidians were routed; and, after a long series of years, military renown recovered to the name of Furius. For since Camillus the restorer of Rome and his son, the glory of command and victories continued in other families. Even he whom I have mentioned, passed for a man destitute of military abilities and experience in war. Hence Tiberius magnified with the more unfeigned alacrity his exploits to the Senate, and to him the fathers decreed the ensigns of triumph. Yet to Camillus all this merit and distinction proved to snare, protected as he was by a life singularly modest and retired.

The Consuls for the following year were, Tiberius the third time, Germanicus the second. This dignity overtook Germanicus at Nicopolis, a city of Achaia, whither he arrived, by the coast of Illyricum, from visiting his brother Drusus, then abiding in Dalmatia, and had suffered a tempestuous passage, both in the Adriatic and Ionian sea. He therefore Edition: current; Page: [145]spent a few days to repair his fleet, and viewed the while the Bay of Actium, renowned for the naval victory there, as also the spoils consecrated by Augustus, and the Camp of Anthony, with an affecting remembrance of these his ancestors; for Anthony, as I have said, was his great uncle, Augustus his grandfather. Hence this scene proved to Germanicus a mighty source of images pleasing and sad. Next he proceeded to Athens, where, in concession to that ancient city, allied to Rome, he would use but one Lictor. The Greeks received him with the most elaborate honours, and, to dignify their personal flattery, carried before him tablatures of the signal deeds and sayings of his ancestors.

Hence he sailed to Eubœa, thence to Lesbos, where Agrippina was delivered of Julia, who proved her last child. Then he kept the coast of Asia, and visited Perinthus and Byzantium, cities of Thrace, and entered the streights of Propontis, and the mouth of the Euxine, fond of beholding ancient places long celebrated by fame. He relieved, at the same time, the provinces where-ever distracted with intestine factions, or aggrieved with the oppressions of their Magistrates. In his return he strove to see the religious rites of the Samothracians, but, by the violence of the north wind was repulsed from the shore As he passed, he saw Troy and her remains, venerable for the vicissitude of her fate, and for the birth of Rome. Regaining the coast of Asia, he put Edition: current; Page: [146]in at Colophon, to consult there the Oracle of the Clarian Apollo. It is no Pythoness that represents the God here, as at Delphos, but a priest, one chosen from certain families, chiefly of Miletus; neither requires he more than just to hear the names and numbers of the querists, and then descends into the oracular cave; where, after a draught of water from a secret spring, though ignorant for the most part of Letters and Poetry, he yet utters his answers in Verse, which has for its subject the conceptions and wishes of cach consultant. He was even said to have sung to Germanicus his hastening fate, but, as Oracles are wont, in terms dark and doubtful.

Now Cneius Piso, hurrying to the execution of his purposes, terrified the city of Athens by a tempestuous entry, and reproached them in a severe speech, with oblique censure of Germanicus, “that, debasing the dignity of the Roman name, he had paid excessive court, not to the Athenians, by so many slaughters long since extinct, but to the then mixed scum of nations there; for that these were they who had leagued with Mithridates against Sylla, and with Anthony against Augustus.” He even charged them with the errors and misfortunes of ancient Athens; her impotent attempts against the Macedonians; her violence and ingratitude to her own citizens. He was also an enemy to their city from personal anger; because they would not pardon, at his request, one Theophilus, Edition: current; Page: [147]condemned by the Areopagus for forgery. From thence, sailing hastily through the Cyclades, and taking the shortest course, he overtook Germanicus at Rhodes, but was there driven by a sudden tempest upon the rocks; and Germanicus, who was not ignorant with what malignity and invectives he was pursued, yet acted with so much humanity, that, when he might have left him to perish, and have referred to casualty the destruction of his enemy, he dispatched galleys, to rescue him from the wreck. This generous kindness, however, asswaged not the animosity of Piso; scarce could he brook a day’s delay with Germanicus, but left him in haste to arrive in Syria before him. Nor was he sooner there, and found himself amongst the Legions, than he began to court the common men by bounties and caresses, to assist them with his countenance and credit, to form factions, to remove all the ancient Centurions, and every Tribune of remarkable discipline and severity, and, in their places, to put dependents of his own, or men recommended only by their crimes. He permitted sloth in the camp, licentiousness in the towns, a rambling and disorderly soldiery, and carried the corruption so high, that in the discourses of the herd, he was stiled Father of the Legions. Nor did Plancina restrain herself to a conduct seemly in her sex, but frequented the exercises of the cavalry, and attended the decursions of the Cohorts, every where in weighing Edition: current; Page: [148]against Agrippina, every where against Germanicus; and some, even of the most deserving soldiers, became prompt to base obedience, from a rumour whispered abroad, “that all this was not unacceptable to Tiberius.

These doings were all known to Germanicus; but his more instant care was, to visit Armenia, an inconstant and restless nation from the beginning, from the genius of the people, as well as from the situation of their country, which, bordering with a large frontier on our provinces, and stretching thence quite to Media, is inclosed between the two great Empires, and often at variance with them; with the Romans through antipathy and hatred, with the Parthians through competition and envy. At this time, and ever since the removal of Vonones, they had no King; but the affections of the nations leaned to Zeno, son of Polemon King of Pontus, because by an attachment, from his infancy, to the fashions and customs of the Armenians, by hunting, feasting, and other usages practised and renowned amongst the Barbarians, he had equally won the nobles and people. Upon his head, therefore, at the city of Artaxata, with the approbation of the nobles, in a great assembly, Germanicus put the regal Diadem; and the Armenians doing homage to their King, saluted him, Artaxias, a name which from that of their city, they gave him. The Cappadocians, at this time reduced into the form of a province, received for their Governor, Quintus Edition: current; Page: [149]Veranius; and, to raise their hopes of the gentler dominion of Rome, several of the royal taxes were lessened. Quintus Serveus was set over the Comagenians, then first subjected to the jurisdiction of a Prætor.

From the affairs of the Allies, thus all successfully settled, Germanicus reaped no pleasure, through the perverseness and pride of Piso, who was ordered to lead, by himself or his son, part of the Legions into Armenia, but contemptuously neglected to do either. They, at last, met at Cyrrum, the winter quarters of the tenth Legion, whither each came with a prepared countenance; Piso to betray no fear, and Germanicus would not be thought to threaten. He was indeed, as I have observed, of a humane and reconcileable spirit: but, officious friends, expert at inflaming animosities, aggravated real offences, added fictitious, and with manifold imputations charged Piso, Plancina, and their sons. To this interview Germanicus admitted a few intimates, and began his complaints in such words as dissembled resentment usually dictates. Piso replied with disdainful submissions, and they parted in open enmity. Piso, hereafter, came rarely to the Tribunal of Germanicus; or, if he did, sate sternly there, and in manifest opposition. He likewise published his spite at a feast of the Nabathean King’s, where golden Crowns of great weight were presented to Germanicus and Agrippina; but to Piso and the rest, such as were light. “This banquet, he said, was made Edition: current; Page: [150]for the son of a Roman Prince, not of a Parthian Monarch.” With these words, he cast away his crown, and uttered many invectives against luxury. Sharp insults upon Germanicus! yet he bore them.

At this time arrived Ambassadors from Artabanus King of the Parthians. He sent them “to represent the state of the mutual league and friendship between the two Empires, how desirous he was to renew it; that, in honour to Germanicus, he would come to receive him as far as the banks of the Euphrates; and requested, in the mean time, that Vonones might not be continued in Syria, lest, taking the advantage of so near a neighbourhood, he should, by corresponding with the Grandees of Parthia, ingage them in civil dissention and rebellion.” The answer given by Germanicus, as far as related to the alliance of the Romans and Parthians, was conceived in terms of dignity and grandeur; but, of the coming of the King, and the court and veneration intended to himself, he spoke with becoming complaisance and modesty. Vonones was removed to Pompeiopolis, a maritime city of Cilicia, a concession made, not to the request of Artabanus only, but in contumely to Piso, with whom Vonones was high in favour, for the assiduous court and many presents by which he had won Plancina.

In the Consulship of Marcus Silanus and Lucius Norbanus, Germanicus travelled to Ægypt, to view the famous Antiquities of the Edition: current; Page: [151]country; though for the motives of the journey, the care and inspection of the province were publicly alledged: and, indeed, by opening the granaries, he mitigated the price of corn, and practised many things grateful to the people; walking without guards, his feet bare, and his habit the same with that of the Greeks; after the example of Publius Scipio, who, we are told, was constant in the same practices in Sicily, even during the rage of the Punic War there. For these his assumed manners and foreign habit, Tiberius blamed him in a gentle stile, but censured him with great asperity for violating an establishment of Augustus, and entring Alexandria without consent of the Prince. For Augustus, amongst other secrets of power, had set apart and appropriated Ægypt, and restrained the Senators and dignified Roman Knights from going thither without licence; as he apprehended that Italy might be distressed with famine, by any who seized that province, the key to the Empire by sea and land, and defensible by a light band of men against potent armies.

Germanicus, not yet informed that his journey was censured, sailed up the Nile, beginning at Canopus, one of its mouths, built by the Spartans, as a monument to Canopus, a Pilot buried there, at the time when Menelaus, returning to Greece, was driven to different seas and the Libyan continent. Hence he visited the next mouth of the river sacred to Hercules. Him the natives averr to have been Edition: current; Page: [152]born amongst them; that he was the most ancient of the name, and that all the rest, who, with equal virtues, followed his example, were, in honour, called after him. Next he visited the mighty antiquities of ancient Thebes, where, upon huge Obelisks yet remained Ægyptian Characters, describing its former opulency. One of the oldest Priests was ordered to interpret them; he said they related “that it once contained seven hundred thousand fighting men; that with that army King Rhamses had conquered Libya, Ethiopia, the Medes and Persians, the Bactrians and Scythians; and to his Empire had added the territories of the Syrians, Armenians, and their neighbours the Cappadocians; a tract of countries reaching from the sea of Bithynia to that of Lycia.” Here also was read the assessment of Tribute laid on the several nations; what weight of silver and gold; what number of horses and arms; what ivory and perfumes, as gifts to the Temples; what measures of grain; what quantities of all necessaries, were by each people paid; revenues equally grand with those exacted by the domination of the Parthians, or by the Power of the Romans.

Germanicus was intent upon seeing other wonders. The chief were, the effigies of Memnon, a Colossus of stone, yielding, when struck by the solar rays, a vocal found; the Pyramids rising, like mountains, amongst rolling and almost impassable waves of sand, proud monuments of the emulation and opulency of Edition: current; Page: [153]Ægyptian Kings; the artificial Lake, a receptacle of the overflowing Nile; and elsewhere abysses of such immense depth, that those who tried, could never fathom. Thence he proceeded to Elphantina and Syene, two Islands, formerly frontiers of the Roman Empire, which is now widened to the Red-Sea.

Whilst Germanicus spent this summer in several provinces, Drusus was sowing feuds amongst the Germans, and thence reaped no light renown; and, as the power of Maroboduus was already broken, he engaged them to persist and complete his ruin. Amongst the Gotones was a young man of quality, his name Catualda, a fugitive long since from the violence of Maroboduus, but now, in his distress, resolved on revenge. Hence, with a stout band, he entered the borders of the Marcomannians, and, corrupting their chiefs into his alliance, stormed the regal palace, and the castle situate near it. In the pillage were found the ancient stores of prey accumulated by the Suevians, as also many victuallers and traders from our provinces; men who were drawn hither from their several homes, first by privilege of traffic, then retained by a passion to multiply gain, and at last, through utter oblivion of their own country, fixed, like natives, in a hostile soil.

To Maroboduus, on every side forsaken, no other refuge remained but the mercy of Cæsar. He therefore passed the Danube where it washes the province of Norica, and wrote to Edition: current; Page: [154]Tiberius, not however in the language of a fugitive or supplicant, but with a spirit suitable to his late grandeur; “that many nations invited him to them, as a King once so glorious; but he preferred to all the friendship or Rome.” The Emperor answered, “that in Italy he should have a safe and honourable retreat, and, when his affairs required his presence, the same security to return.” But to the Senate he declared, “that never had Philip of Macedon been so terrible to the Athenians; nor Pyrrhus, nor Antiochus to the Roman people.” The speech is extant: in it he magnifies “the greatness of the man, the fierceness and bravery of the nations his subjects; the alarming nearness of such an enemy to Italy, and his own artful measures to destroy him.” Maroboduus was kept at Ravenna, for a check and terror to the Suevians; as if, when at any time they grew turbulent, he were there in readiness to recover their subjection. Yet in eighteen years he left not Italy, but grew old in exile there; his renown too became eminently diminished. Such was the price which he paid for an overpassionate love of life. The same sate had Catualda, and no other sanctuary; he was soon after expulsed by the forces of the Hermundurians, led by Vibilius, and being received under the Roman protection, was conveyed to Forum Julium, a Colony in Narbon Gaul. The Barbarians, their followers, lest, had they been mixed with the provinces, Edition: current; Page: [155]they might have disturbed their present quiet, were placed beyond the Danube, between the rivers Marus and Cusus, and for their King had assigned them Vannius, by nation a Quadian.

As soon as it was known at Rome, that Artaxias was by Germanicus given to the Armenians for their King, the fathers decreed to him and Drusus the lesser Triumph. Triumphal arches were likewise erected, on each side the Temple of Mars the Avenger, supporting the statues of these two Cæsars; and for Tiberius, he was more joyful to have established peace by policy, than if by battles and victories he had ended the war. He therefore also assailed by the ways of craft Rhescuporis a King of Thrace. That whole nation had been subject to Rhemetalces; but, upon his death, one moiety was by Augustus granted to Rhescuporis his brother, and one to Cotys his son. In this partition, the vales, cities, and territories bounding upon Greece, fell to Cotys; to Rhescuporis the wilds, the hills, and the parts exposed to a hostile neighbourhood. The two Kings were likewise dissonant in their genius, the former mild and agreeable; the latter cruel, rapacious, and impatient of equality. Yet, at first they lived in hollow friendship, but, in a while, Rhescuporis began to break bounds, to seize for himself the portions of Cotys, and, where he met resistance, to exercise violence; cautiously, it is true, and by degrees, in the life of Augustus, Edition: current; Page: [156]to whose grant they owed both their Kingdoms and, if his authority had been despised, his vengeance was dreaded. But, upon the change of Emperors, he poured in bands of robbers, demolished forts, and thus sought to provoke war.

Tiberius was about no consideration of state so anxious, as that things once settled should never after be molested. He instantly dispatched a Centurion to the two Kings, to forbid their proceeding to a decision by arms; and Cotys forthwith dismissed the forces he had raised. Rhescuporis feigned submission, and desired an interview, “for that by treaty, he said, they might adjust all their differences:” and, upon the time, the place, and even upon the conditions, they quickly agreed, while one through easiness, one through fraud, yielded and accepted every proposition. Rhescuporis, for a sanction, as he pretended, to the league, added a banquet, and the festivity and drinking was prolonged till midnight, when Cotys, warm with wine and feasting, and void of circumspection, was suddenly loaded with chains, deprecating in vain the brutal treachery, “by the inviolable rights of Kings, by the common Gods of their family, by that very banquet of sacred pledge of concord and hospitality.” Rhescuporis, having now seized all Thrace, wrote to Tiberius, “that bloody snares were contrived for him, but he had anticipated the contriver;” and, pretending a war against the Basternæans and Scythians, Edition: current; Page: [157]fortified himself with new forces, horse and foot.

He had a soft answer, “that if he had practised no guile, he might securely trust to his innocence; but, neither could he himself nor the Senate, without hearing the cause, distinguish between justice and violence: that therefore, delivering up Cotys, he should come, and upon him effectually transfer the odium of the crime.” This letter Latinius Pandus, Proprætor of Mesia, transmitted to Thrace, by the soldiers sent to receive Cotys. Rhescuporis, wavering long between fear and rage, determined at last rather to be guilty of a finished than an imperfect villainy: he caused Cotys to be murdered, and belied his death, as if by his own hands it had been procured Neither yet did Tiberius change his favourite course of dissembling, but, upon the death of Pandus, whom Rhescuporis alledged to have been his enemy, preferred to the Government of Mesia Pomponius Flaccus, an ancient officer, one in close friendship with the King, and by it more qualified to betray him; hence chiefly he was preferred.

Flaccus passed into Thrace, and, though he found him full of hesitation, and revolving with great dismay upon the crying horror of his own wickedness, yet, by mighty promises, prevailed upon him to enter the Roman barrier. Here the King, on pretence of solemnity and honour, was surrounded with a strong party, and a crowd of officers, who pressed Edition: current; Page: [158]him by earnest exhortations, and many arguments, and the further they travelled, the more apparent to him was his confinement; so that at last, convinced of the necessity of going, he was by them haled to Rome. He was accused before the Senate by the wife of Cotys, and condemned to exile far from his Kingdom. Thrace was divided between Rhemetalces his son, who, it was manifest, had opposed all his father’s outrageous measures; and the sons of Cotys. These were minors, and placed with their Kingdom under the administration of Trebellienus Rufus, formerly Prætor, after the example of our Ancestors, who sent Marcus Lepidus into Ægypt, in quality of guardian to the children of Ptolemy. Rhescuporis was transported to Alexandria, and there slain, attempting flight, or falsly charged with it.

At the same time, Vonones, who had been removed, as I have above related, into Cilicia, corrupted his keepers, and endeavoured to escape to Armenia, thence to the Albanians and Heniochians, and then to his kinsman the King of Scythia. Thus pretending to hunt, and avoiding the maritime coasts, he gained the devious recesses of the forests; and then, on a sudden, rode full speed to the River Pyramus. But, the country-men, apprized of the King’s flight, had broken the bridges; neither was the stream to be forded. Upon the banks therefore of the river, he was by Vibius Fronto, General of horse, put in bonds, and Edition: current; Page: [159]presently after, by Remmius, a resumed Veteran, lately his keeper, run through, in affected wrath, with a sword. Hence arose the stronger belief that, from consciousness of fraud, and dread of discovery, Vonones was slain.

Germanicus returning from Ægypt, learned that all his orders left with the Legions, and the Eastern cities, were either intirely abolished, or contrary regulations established; a ground for his severe resentment and reproaches upon Piso. Nor less keen were the efforts and machinations of Piso against Germanicus. Yet Piso afterwards determined to leave Syria, but was detained by the following illness of Germanicus. Again, when he heard of his recovery, and perceived that vows were paid for his restoration, the Lictors, by his command, broke the solemnity, drove away the victims, already at the altars, overturned the apparatus of the sacrifice, and scattered the people of Antioch employed in celebrating the festival. He then departed to Seleucia, waiting the event of the malady, which had again assaulted Germanicus. His own persuasion too, that poyson was given him by Piso, heightened the cruel vehemence of the disease. Indeed, upon the floors and walls were found fragments of human bodies, the spoils of the grave, with charms and incantations, and the name of Germanicus graved on sheets of lead, carcasses half burnt, besmeared with gore, and other witchcrafts, by which souls are thought doomed to the infernal gods. Besides, there were certain Edition: current; Page: [160]persons, charged as creatures of Piso, purposely sent and employed to watch the progress and efforts of the disease.

These things filled Germanicus with apprehensions great as his resentment. “If his doors, he said, were besieged, if under the eyes of his enemies he must render up his spirit, what was to be expected to his unhappy wife, what to his infant children? The progress of poyson was thought too slow. Piso was impatient, and urging with eagerness to command alone the Legions, to possess alone the province: but Germanicus was not sunk to such lowness and impotence, that the price of his murder should remain with the murderer:” and by a Letter to Piso, he renounced his friendship. Some add, that he commanded him to depart the province. Nor did Piso tarry longer, but took ship, yet checked her sailing, in order to return with the more quickness, should the death of Germanicus the while leave the Government of Syria vacant.

Germanicus, after a small revival, drooping again, when his end approached, spoke on this wise to his attending friends. “Were I to yield to the destiny of nature, Just, even then, were my complaints against the Gods, for hurrying me from my parents, my children, and my country, by a hasty death, in the prime of life. Now, shortened in my course by the malignity of Piso, and his wife, to your breasts I commit my last prayers. Edition: current; Page: [161]Tell my father, tell my brother, with what violent persecutions afflicted, with what mortal snares circumvented, I end a most miserable life by death of all others the worst. All they whose hopes in my fortune, all they whose kindred blood, and even they whose envy, possessed them with impressions about me whilst living, shall bewail me dead, that once great in glory, and surviveing so many wars, I fell at last by the dark devices of a woman. To you place will be left to complain in the Senate, place to invoke the aid and vengeance of the Laws. To commemorate the dead with slothful wailings, is not the principal office of friends: They are to remember his dying wishes, to fulfil his last desires. Even strangers will lament Germanicus. You are my friends; if you loved me rather than my fortune, you will vindicate your friendship. Shew the people of Rome my wife, her who is the grand-daughter of Augustus, and enumerate to them our offspring, even six children. Their compassion will surely attend you who accuse; and the accused, if they pretend clandestine warrants of iniquity, will not be believed; if believed, not pardoned.” His friends, as a pledge of their fidelity, touching the hand of the dying Prince, swore that they would forego their lives sooner than their revenge. Then turning to his wife, he besought her, “That in tenderness to his memory, in tenderness to their common children, she Edition: current; Page: [162]would banish her haughty spirit, yield to her hostile fortune; nor, upon her return to Rome, by an impotent competition for ruleing, irritate those who were masters of rule.” So much openly, and more in secret, whence he was believed to have warned her of guile and danger from Tiberius. Soon after he expired, to the heavy sorrow of the province, and of all the neighbouring countries; insomuch that remote nations and foreign Kings were mourners: such had been his complacency to our confederates; such his humanity to his enemies! Alike venerable he was, whether you saw him, or heard him; and without ever departing from the grave port and dignity of his sublime rank, he yet lived destitute of arrogance, and untouched by envy.

The funeral, which was performed without exteriour pomp or a procession of images, drew its solemnity from the loud praises and amiable memory of his virtues. There were those who, from the loveliness of his person, his age, his manner of dying, and even from the proximity of places where both departed, compared him, in the circumstances of his fate, to the Great Alexander; “each of a graceful person, each of illustrious descent; in years neither much exceeding thirty; both victims to the malice and machinations of their own people, in the midst of foreign nations; but Germanicus, gentle towards his friends, his pleasures moderate, confined to one wife, all his children by one bed; Edition: current; Page: [163]nor less a warriour, though not so rash, however hindered from a final reduction of Germany, broken by him in so many victories, and ready for the yoke. So that had he been sole arbiter of things, had he acted with the Sovereignty and title of Royalty, he had easier overtaken him in the glory of conquests, as he surpassed him in clemency, in moderation, and in other virtues.” His body, before its commitment to the pile, was exhibited naked in the Forum of Antioch, the place where the pile was erected. Whether it bore the marks of poyson, remained undecided: for people, as they were divided in their affections, as they pitied Germanicus, and presumed the guilt of Piso, or were partial to him, gave opposite accounts.

It was next debated amongst the legates of the Legions, and the other Senators there, to whom should be committed the administration of Syria: and, after the faint efforts of others, it was long disputed between Vibius Marsus and Cneius Sentius. Marsus at last yielded to Sentius, the older man, and the more vehement competitor. By him one Martina, infamous in that province for practices in poisoning, and a close confident of Plancina, was sent to Rome, at the suit of Vitellius, Veranius, and others, who were preparing criminal articles against Piso and Plancina, as against persons evidently guilty.

Agrippina, though overwhelmed with sorrow, and her body indisposed, yet impatient Edition: current; Page: [164]of all delays to her revenge, imbarked with the ashes of Germanicus, and her children, attended with universal commiseration: “That a Lady, in quality a Princess, wont to be beheld in her late splendid wedlock with applauses and adorations, was now seen bearing in her bosom her husband’s funeral urn, uncertain of vengeance for him, and fearful for herself, unfortunate in her fruitfulness, and from so many children obnoxious to so many blows of fortune.” Piso, the while, was overtaken at the Isle of Cous by a message, “that Germanicus was deceased,” and received it intemperately, slew victims and repaired with thanksgiving to the Temples. Yet, however immoderate and undisguised was his joy, more arrogant and insulting proved that of Plancina, who immediately threw off her mourning, which for the death of a sister she wore, and assumed a dress adapted to gaiety and gladness.

About him flocked the Centurions with officious representations, “That upon him particularly were bent the affections and zeal of the Legions, and he should proceed to resume the province, at first injuriously taken from him, and now destitute of a Governor.” As he therefore consulted what he had best pursue, his son Marcus Piso advised “a speedy journey to Rome. Hitherto, he said, nothing past expiation, was committed; neither were impotent suspicions to be dreaded; nor the idle blazonings of fame. Edition: current; Page: [165]His variance and contention with Germanicus was, perhaps, subject to popular hate and aversion, but to no prosecution or penalty; and, by bereaving him of the province, his enemies were gratified. But if he returned thither, as Sentius would certainly oppose him with arms, a civil war would thence be actually begun. Neither would the Centurions and soldiers persist in his party, men with whom the recent memory of their late Commander, and an inveterate love to the Cæsars in general, were still prevalent.”

Domitius Celer, one in intimate credit with Piso, argued on the contrary, “That the present event must by all means be improved; it was Piso, and not Sentius, who had commission to govern Syria; upon him were conferred the jurisdiction of Prætor, and the badges of Magistracy, and with him the Legions were intrusted. So that if acts of hostility were by his opponents attempted, with how much better warrant could he avow assuming arms in his own right and defence, who was thus vested with the authority of General, and acted under special orders from the Emperor. Rumours too were to be neglected, and left to perish with time. In truth, to the sallies and violence of recent hate, the innocent were often unequal. But were he once possessed of the Army, and had well augmented his forces, many things, not to be foreseen, would from Edition: current; Page: [166]fortune derive success. Are we then preposterously hastening to arrive at Rome with the ashes of Germanicus, that you may there fall, unheard and undefended, a victim to the wailings of Agrippina, a prey to the passionate populace governed by the first impressions of rumour? Livia, it is true, is your confederate, Tiberius is your friend; but both secretly: and indeed none will more pompously bewail the violent fate of Germanicus, than such as do most sincerely rejoice for it.”

Piso, of himself prompt to violent pursuits, was with no great labour persuaded into this opinion, and, in a Letter transmitted to Tiberius, accused Germanicus “of luxury and pride; that for himself, he had been expulsed, to leave room for dangerous designs against the State, and now resumed, with his former faith and loyalty, the care of the Army.” In the mean time he put Domitius on board a galley, and ordered him to avoid appearing upon the Coasts or amongst the Isles, but, through the main sea, to sail to Syria. The deserters, who from all quarters were flocking to him in crowds, he formed into companies, and armed all the retainers to the Camp; then sailing over to the continent, intercepted a regiment of recruits, upon their march into Syria, and wrote to the small Kings of Cilicia to assist him with present succours. Nor was the younger Piso slow in prosecuting all the Edition: current; Page: [167]measures of war, though to adventure a war had been against his sentiments and advice.

As they coasted Lycia and Pamphylia, they encountered the ships which carried Agrippina, with hostile spirits on each side, and each at first prepared for combat; but as equal dread of one another possessed both, they proceeded not further than mutual contumelies. Vibius Marsus particularly summoned Piso, as a criminal, to Rome, there to make his defence. He answered, with derision, “That when the Prætor, who was to sit upon poysonings, had assigned a day to the accusers and the accused, he would attend.” Domitius, the while, landing at Laodicea, a city of Syria, would have proceeded to the winter-quarters of the sixth Legion, which he believed to be the most prone to engage in novel attempts, but was prevented by Pacuvius, its commander. Sentius represented this by Letter to Piso, and warned him, “at his peril to infect the Camp by ministers of corruption, or to assail the province by war,” and drew into a body such as he knew loved Germanicus, or such as were averse to his foes. Upon them he inculcated with much ardour, that Piso was with open arms attacking the majesty of the Prince, and invading the Roman state; and then marched at the head of a puissant body, equipped for battle, and resolute to engage.

Neither failed Piso, though his enterprizes had thus far miscarried, to apply the securest Edition: current; Page: [168]remedies to his present perplexities, and therefore seized a Castle of Cilicia strongly fortified, its name Celendris. For, to the Auxiliary Cilicians, sent him by the petty Kings, he had joined his body of deserters, as also the recruits lately intercepted, with all his own and Plancina’s slaves; and thus in number and bulk, had of the whole composed a Legion. To them he thus harangued; “I, who am the Lieutenant of Cæsar, am yet violently excluded from the province which to me Cæsar has committed; not excluded by the Legions, (for by their invitation I am arrived) but by Sentius, who thus disguises, under feigned crimes against me, his own animosity, and personal hate. But with confidence you may stand in battle, where the opposite army, upon the sight of Piso, a Commander lately by themselves stiled their Father, will certainly refuse to fight; they know too, that were right to decide it, I am the stronger; and of no mean puissance in a trial at arms.” He then arrayed his men without the fortifications, on a hill steep and craggy, for all the rest was begirt by the sea. Against them stood the Veterans regularly embattled, and supported with a body of reserve; so that here appeared the force of men, there only the terror and stubbornness of situation. On Piso’s side was no spirit, no hope, nor even weapons, save those of rustics, for instant necessity hastily acquired. As soon as they came to blows, the issue was no longer Edition: current; Page: [169]doubtful than while the Roman Cohorts struggled up the steep. The Cilicians then fled, and shut themselves up in the Castle.

Piso having the while attempted in vain to storm the fleet, which rode at a small distance, as soon as he returned, presented himself upon the walls; where, by a succession of passionate complaints and intreaties, now bemoaning in agonies the bitterness of his lot, then calling and cajoling every particular soldier by his name, and by rewards tempting all, he laboured to excite a sedition; and thus much he had already effected, that the Eagle-bearer of the sixth Legion revolted to him with his Eagle. This alarmed Sentius, and instantly he commanded the cornets and trumpets to sound, a mount to be raised, the ladders placed, and the bravest men to mount, and others to pour from the Engines volleys of darts, and stones, and flaming torches. The obstinacy of Piso was at last vanquished; and he desired, “that, upon delivering his arms, he might remain in the Castle till the Emperor’s pleasure, to whom he would commit the Government of Syria, were known;” conditions which were not accepted, nor was ought granted him, save ships, and a passport to Rome.

After the illness of Germanicus became noised abroad there, and all its circumstances, like rumours magnified by distance, were related with many aggravations, sadness seized the people. They burned with indignation, and Edition: current; Page: [170]even poured out in plaints the anguish of their souls: “For this, they said, he had been banished to the extremities of the Empire, for this the province of Syria was committed to Piso, and these the fruits of Livia’s mysterious conferences with Plancina. Truly had our fathers spoken concerning his father Drusus, that the possessors of rule beheld with an evil eye the popular spirit of their sons; nor for aught else were they sacrificed, but for their equal treatment of the Roman people, and studying to restore the popular state.” These lamentations of the populace were, upon the tidings of his death, so inflamed, that, without staying for an Edict from the Magistrates, without a Decree of Senate, they by general consent assumed a vacation; the public Courts were deserted, private houses shut up, prevalent every-where were the symptoms of woe, heavy groans, dismal silence; the whole a scene of real sorrow, and nothing devised for form or shew; and, though they forbore not to bear the exterior marks and habiliments of mourning, in their souls they mourned still deeper. Accidentally some Merchants from Syria, who had left Germanicus still alive, brought more joyful news of his condition. These were instantly believed, and instantly proclaimed: each, as fast as they met, informed others, who forthwith conveyed their light information with improvements, and accumulated joy, to more; all flew with exultation through the city, and, to pay their thanks Edition: current; Page: [171]and vows, burst open the Temple doors. The night too heightened their credulity, and affirmation was bolder in the dark. Nor did Tiberius restrain the course of these fictions, but left them to vanish with time. Hence with more bitterness they afterwards grieved for him, as if anew snatched from them.

Honours were invented and decreed to Germanicus, various as the affections and genius of the particular Senators who proposed them; “that his name should be sung in the Salian Hymns; Curule Chairs placed for him amongst the Priests of Augustus, and over these Chairs Oaken Crowns hung; his Statue in Ivory precede in the Circensian Games; none but one of the Julian race be, in the room of Germanicus, created Flamen or Augur:” Triumphal arches were added, one at Rome, one upon the banks of the Rhine, one upon mount Amanus in Syria, with inscriptions of his exploits, and a testimony subjoined, “that he died for the Commonwealth;” a Sepulchre at Antioch, where his corps was burnt; a tribunal at Epidaphne, the place where he ended his life. The multitude of statues, the many places where divine honours were appointed to be paid him, would not be easily recounted. They would have also decreed him, as to one of the masters of Eloquence, a golden shield, signal in bulk as in metal; but Tiberius offered “to dedicate one himself, such as was usual and of a like size with others; for that Eloquence was Edition: current; Page: [172]not measured by fortune; and it was sufficient glory, if he were ranked with ancient Writers.” The Battalion called after the name of the Junii, was now, by the Equestrian order, entitled the Battalion of Germanicus, and a rule made, that on every fifteenth of July, these troops should follow, as their standard, the effigies of Germanicus. Of these honours many continue, some were instantly omitted, or by time are utterly obliterated.

In the height of this public sorrow, Livia, sister to Germanicus, and married to Drusus, was delivered of male twins; an event even in middling families, rare and acceptable, and to Tiberius such mighty matter of joy, that he could not refrain boasting to the fathers, “that to no Roman of the same eminence, before him, were ever two children born at a birth. For to his own glory he turned all things, even things fortuitous. But to the people, at such a sad conjuncture, it brought fresh anguish, as they feared that the family of Drusus, thus increased, would press heavy upon that of Germanicus.

The same year the lubricity of women was by the Senate restrained with severe laws; and it was provided, “that no woman should become venal, if her father, grandfather or husband, were Roman Knights.” For Vistilia, a Lady born of a Prætorian family, had, before the Ædiles, published herself a prostitute, upon a custom allowed by our ancestors, who thought that prostitutes were, by thus avowing their infamy, Edition: current; Page: [173]sufficiently punished. Titidius Labeo too was questioned, that in the manifest guilt of his wife, he had neglected the punishment prescribed by the law; but he alledged, that the sixty days allowed for consultation, were not elapsed; and it was deemed sufficient to proceed against Vistilia, who was banished to the Isle of Seriphos. Measures were also taken for exterminating the solemnities of the Jews and Ægyptians; and by decree of Senate four thousand descendents of franchised slaves, all tainted with that superstition, but of proper strength and age, were to be transported to Sardinia, to restrain the Sardinian robbers; and if, through the malignity of the climate, they perished, despicable would be the loss. The rest were doomed to depart Italy, unless by a stated day they renounced their profane rites.

After this, Tiberius represented, that, to supply the place of Occia, who had presided seven and fifty years with the highest sanctimony over the Vestals, another Virgin was to be chosen, and thanked Fonteius Agrippa, and Asinius Pollio, that, by offering their daughters, they contended in good offices towards the Commonwealth. Pollio’s daughter was preferred, for nothing else but that her mother had ever continued in the same wedlock; for Agrippa, by a divorce, had impaired the credit of his house. Upon her who was postponed, Tiberius, in consolation, bestowed for her fortune a thousand great sesterces. *

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As the people murmured at the severe dearth of corn, he settled grain at a price certain to the buyer, and undertook to pay fourteen pence a measure to the seller. Neither yet would he accept the name of Father of his Country, a title offered him before, and for these bounties, now again; nay, he sharply rebuked such as stiled these provisions of his, divine occupations, and him, Lord. Hence freedom of speech became cramped and insecure under such a Prince, one who dreaded liberty, and abhorred flattery.

I find in the Writers of those times, some of them Senators, that in the Senate were read Letters from Adgandestrius, Prince of the Cattians, undertaking to dispatch Arminius, if in order to it poison were sent him; and an answer returned, “that not by frauds and blows in the dark, but armed, and in the face of the sun, the Roman people took vengeance on their foes.” In this Tiberius gained equal glory with our ancient Captains, who rejected and disclosed a plot to poison King Pyrrhus. Arminius, however, who, upon the departure of the Romans, and expulsion of Maroboduus, aimed at Royalty, became thence engaged in a struggle against the Liberty of his country, and, in defence of their Liberty, his country-men took arms against him: So that, while with various fortune he contended with them, he fell by the treachery of his own kindred. The deliverer of Germany without doubt he was, one who assailed the Roman Edition: current; Page: [175]power, not like other Kings and Leaders, in its first elements, but in its highest pride and elevation; one sometimes beaten in battle, but never conquered in war. Thirty-seven years he lived, twelve he commanded; and, amongst these barbarous nations, his memory is still celebrated in their songs, though his name be unknown in the Annals of the Greeks, who only admire their own national exploits and renown; nor, even amongst the Romans, does this great Captain bear much distinction, while, overlooking instances of modern prowess and glory, we only delight to magnify men and feats of old.

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BOOK III.

The SUMMARY.

Agrippina returns to Italy with the ashes and children of Germanicus. The passionate Zeal of the people towards her, and them, and his memory. His funeral; with the behaviour of Tiberius and Livia, on that occasion. Drusus returns to Illyricum, as does Piso to Rome, and is tried as the poisoner of Germanicus, despairs of acquittal, and kills himself. Tacfarinas renews the war in Africa, and is repressed by Apronius the Proconsul there. The trial and condemnation of Lepida Æmylia, for adultery and poisoning. The law Papia Poppæa, long abused, now restrained. Fresh commotions in Africa, by Tacfarinas. Junius Blæsus sent to oppose him. Certain Roman Knights condemned upon the Law of Majesty violated. Revolts in both Gauls, conducted by Julius Sacrovir, and Julius Florus; the issue tragical to the revolters, and their chiefs. C. Lutorius, a Roman Knight, condemned upon the Law of Majesty, and executed in prison. The cure of luxury attempted, and dropped. Drusus made partner with his father in the power Tribunitial. The Priest of Jupiter, not allowed to ballot for a Province. The Greek Sanctuaries, their claims, examined and reformed. C. Silanus condemned for bribery and treason. Junius Blæsus routs Tacfarinas, and takes his brother prisoner. Junia, the illustrious sister of the famous Marcus Brutus, and widow of Cassius, her death and funeral.

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Agrippina, not withstanding the roughness of winter, pursuing without intermission her boisterous voyage, put in at the Island Corcyra, situated over-against the coasts of Calabria. Here, to settle her spirit, she spent a few days, violent in her grief, and a stranger to patience. Her arrival being the while divulged, all the particular friends to her family, mostly men of the sword, many who had served under Germanicus, and even many strangers from the neighbouring towns, some in officiousness towards the Emperor, more for company, crowded to the City of Brundusium, the readiest port in her way, and the safest landing. As soon as the fleet appeared in the deep, instantly were filled, not the port alone and adjacent shores, but the walls and roofs, and as far as the eye would go; filled with the sorrowing multitude. They were consulting one from one, how they should receive her, landing, “whether with universal silence, or with some note of acclamation.” Nor was it manifest which they would do, when the fleet sailed slowly in, not, as usual, with joyful sailors and chearful oars, but all things impressed with the face of sadness. After she descended from the ship, accompanied with her two Infants, carrying in her bosom the melancholy Urn, with her eyes cast steddily down; equal and universal were the groans of the beholders: nor could you distinguish relations from strangers, nor the wailings of men from those of women, Edition: current; Page: [178]unless that the new-comers, who were recent in their sallics of grief, exceeded Agrippina’s attendants, wearied out with long lamentations.

Tiberius had dispatched two Prætorian Cohorts, with directions, that the Magistrates of Calabria, Apulia and Campania, should pay their last offices to the memory of his son. Upon the shoulders therefore of the Tribunes and Centurions his ashes were borne; before went the Ensigns, rough and unadorned, with the Fasces reversed. As they passed through the Colonies, the populace were in black, the Knights in purple; and each place, according to its wealth, burnt precious rayment, perfumes, and whatever else is used in funeral solemnities. Even they whose cities lay remote, attended. To the Gods of the dead, they slew victims, they erected altars, and with tears and united lamentations, testified their common sorrow. Drusus came as far as Terracina, with Claudius the brother of Germanicus, and those of his children who had been left at Rome. The Consuls Marcus Valerius and Marcus Aurelius (just then entered upon their office) the Senate, and great part of the people, filled the road; a scattered procession, each walking and weeping his own way. In this mourning, flattery had no share; for all knew how real was the joy, how hollow the grief of Tiberius for the death of Germanicus.

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Tiberius and Livia avoided appearing abroad. Public lamentation they thought below their grandeur; or, perhaps, they apprehended that their countenances, examined by all eyes, might shew deceitful hearts. That Antonia, mother to the deceased, bore any part in the Funeral, I do not find either in the Historians or in the City Journals, though besides Agrippina, and Drusus, and Claudius, his other relations are likewise there recorded by name; whether by sickness she was prevented; or, whether her soul, vanquished by sorrow, could not bear the representation of such a mighty calamity. I would rather believe her to have been constrained by Tiberius and Livia, who left not the palace; and, affecting equal affliction with her, would have it seem, that, by the example of the mother, the grandmother too and uncle were detained.

The day when his remains were reposited in the Tomb of Augustus, various were the symptoms of public grief; now an awful silence, then an uproar of lamentation, the city in every quarter full of processions, the field of Mars in a blaze of torches. Here the soldiers under arms, the Magistrates without the Insignia, the people by their tribes, all cried in concert, that “the Commonwealth was fallen, and henceforth there was no remain of hope;” so openly and boldly, that you would have believed they had forgot who bore sway. But nothing pierced Tiberius more than the ardent affections of the people towards Agrippina, Edition: current; Page: [180]while they gave her such titles as “the ornament of her country, the only blood of Augustus, the single instance of ancient virtue;” and, while applying to Heaven, they implored “the continuance of her Issue, that they might survive the persecuting and malignant.”

There were those who missed the Pomp of a public Funeral, and compared with this the superior honours and magnificence bestowed by Augustus on that of Drusus the father of Germanicus; “that he himself had travelled, in the sharpness of winter, as far as Pavia, and thence, continuing by the corps, had with it entered the city; round his head were placed the Images of the Claudii and Julii; he was mourned in the Forum; his Encomium pronounced in the Rostra’s; all sorts of honours, such as were the inventions of our ancestors, or the improvements of their posterity, were heaped upon him. But to Germanicus were denied the ordinary Solemnities, and such as were due to every distinguished Roman. In a foreign country indeed, his corps, because of the long journey, was burnt without pomp; but afterwards, it was but just to have supplied the scantiness of the first ceremony by the solemnity of the last. His brother met him but one day’s journey, his uncle not even at the gate. Where were those generous observances of the ancients, the Effigies of the dead borne on a bed, Hymns composed in Edition: current; Page: [181]memory of their virtue, with the Oblations of praises and tears? Where, at least, were the ceremonies, and even outside of sorrow?”

All this was known to Tiberius; and, to suppress the discourses of the populace, he published an Edict, “that many illustrious Romans had died for the Commonwealth, but none so vehemently lamented; this, however, was to the glory of himself and of all men, if a measure were observed. The same things which became private families and small states, became not Princes and an Imperial people. Fresh grief, indeed, required vent and ease by lamentation; but, it was now time to recover and fortify their minds. Thus the deified Julius, upon the loss of an only daughter; thus the deified Augustus, upon the hasty death of his grandsons, had both vanquished their sorrow. More ancient examples were unnecessary, how often the Roman people sustained with constancy the slaughter of their Armies, the death of their Generals, and intire destruction of their noblest families. Princes were mortal, the Commonwealth was eternal. They should therefore resume their several vocations.” And, because the Megalensian Games were at hand, he added, “that they should even apply to the usual festivities.”

The vacation ended, public affairs were resumed; Drusus departed for the Army in Illyricum, and the minds of all men were bent upon Edition: current; Page: [182]seeing vengeance done upon Piso. They repeated their resentments, that while he wandered over the delightful countries of Asia and Greece, he was stifling, by contumacious and deceitful delays, the evidences of his crimes; for it was bruited abroad, that Martina, she who was famous for poysonings, and sent, as I have above related, by Cneius Sentius towards Rome, was suddenly dead at Brundusium; that poyson lay concealed in a knot of her hair, but upon her body were found no symptoms of self-murder.

Piso, sending forward his son to Rome, with instructions how to soften the Emperor, proceeded himself to Drusus. Him he hoped to find less rigid for the death of a brother, than favourable for the removal of a rival. Tiberius, to make shew of a spirit perfectly unbiassed, received the young man graciously, and honoured him with the presents usually bestowed on young Noblemen. The answer of Drusus to Piso was, “that if the current rumours were true, he stood in the first place of grief and revenge; but he hoped they were false and chimerical, and that the death of Germanicus would be pernicious to none.” This he declared in public, and avoided all privacy. Nor was it doubted but the answer was dictated by Tiberius, when a youth, otherwise easy and unwary, practised thus the wiles and cunning of age.

Piso having crossed the sea of Dalmatia, and left his ships at Ancona, took first the road of Edition: current; Page: [183]Picenum, and then the Flaminian way, following the Legion which was going from Pannonia to Rome, and thence to garrison in Africa. This too became the subject of popular censure, that he officiously mixed with the soldiers, and courted them in their march and quarters. He therefore, to avoid suspicion, or, because when men are in dread, their conduct wavers, did at Narni embark upon the Nar, and thence sailed into the Tiber. By landing at the burying place of the Cæsars, he heightened the wrath of the populace. Besides, he and Plancina came ashore in open day, in the face of the city, who were crowding the banks, and proceeded with gay countenances, he attended by a long band of Clients, she by a train of Ladies. There were yet other provocations to hatred, the situation of his house, proudly overlooking the Forum, and adorned and illuminated as for a festival, the banquet and rejoicings held in it, all as public as the place.

The next day Fulcinius Trio arraigned Piso before the Consuls, but was opposed by Vitellius, Veranius, and others, who had accompanied Germanicus. They said, “that in this prosecution Trio had no part; nor did they themselves act as accusers, but only gathered materials, and, as witnesses, produced the last injunctions of Germanicus.Trio dropped that accusation, but got leave to call in question his former life. And now the Emperor was desired to undertake the Edition: current; Page: [184]Trial; a request which the accused did not at all oppose, dreading the inclinations of the People and Senate. “He knew Tiberius, on the contrary, resolute in despising popular rumours, and in guilt confederate with his mother; besides that truth and misrepresentations were easiest distinguished by a single judge, but in assemblies odium and envy often prevailed.” Tiberius was aware of the weight of the Trial, and with what reproaches he was assaulted. Admitting therefore a few confidents, he heard the charge of the accusers, as also the apology of the accused, and left the cause intire to the Senate.

Drusus returned the while from Illyricum; and, though the Senate had for the reduction of Maroboduus, and other his exploits the summer before, decreed him the Triumph of Ovation, he postponed the honour, and privately entered the city. Piso, for his advocates, desired Titus Arruntius, Fulcinius, Asinius Gallus, Eserninus Marcellus, and Sextus Pompeius. But they all framed different excuses; and he had, in their room, Marcus Lepidus, Lucius Piso, and Liveneius Regulus. Now earnest were the expectations of all men, “how great would prove the fidelity of the friends of Germanicus; what the assurance of the criminal, what the behaviour of Tiberius, whether he would sufficiently smother, or betray his sentiments.” He never had a more anxious part; neither did the people ever indulge themselves Edition: current; Page: [185]in such secret murmurs against their Emperor, nor harbour in silence severer suspicions.

When the Senate met, Tiberius made a speech, full of laboured moderation, “that Piso had been his father’s Lieutenant and friend, and lately appointed by himself, at the direction of the Senate, Coadjutor to Germanicus, in administering the affairs of the East. Whether he had there by contumacy and opposition exasperated the young Prince, and exulted over his death, or wickedly procured it, they were then to judge with minds unprejudiced. For, if he who was the Licutenant of my son, violated the limits of his commission, cast off obedience to his General, and even rejoiced at his decease, and at my affliction; I will detest the man, I will banish him from my house, and, for domestic injuries exert domestic revenge, not the revenge of an Emperor. But for you; if his guilt of any man’s death whatsoever, be discovered, shew your just vengeance, and by it satisfy yourselves, satisfy the children of Germanicus, and us his father, and grand-mother. Consider too especially whether he viciated the discipline, and promoted sedition in the Army, whether he sought to debauch the affections of the soldiers, and to recover the province by arms; or whether these allegations are not published falsly and with aggravations by the accusers, with whose over-passionate zeal I am justly offended. For, whither tended the Edition: current; Page: [186]stripping the corps, and exposing it to the eyes and examination of the populace; with what view was it proclaimed, even to foreign nations, that his death was the effect of poison, if all this was still doubtful, and remains yet to be tried? It is true, I bewail my son, and shall ever bewail him. But neither do I hinder the accused to do what in him lies to manifest his innocence, even at the expence of Germanicus, if ought blameable was in him. From you I intreat the same impartiality; let not the connexion of my sorrow with this cause, mislead you to take crimes for proved, because they are imputed. For Piso; if the tenderness of kinsmen, if the faith of friends, has furnished him with patrons, let them aid him in his peril, shew their utmost cloquence, and exert their best diligence. To the same pains, to the same firmness I exhort the accusers. Thus much, out of the common course, we will grant to the memory of Germanicus, that the inquest concerning his death, be held rather here than in the Forum, in the Senate than in the common Tribunals. In all the rest, we will descend to the ordinary methods. Let no man in this cause consider Drusus’s tears; let none regard my sorrow, no more than the probable fictions of calumny against us.”

Two days were then appointed for maintaining the charge, six for preparing the defence, and three for making it. Fulcinius Edition: current; Page: [187]began with things stale and impertinent, about the ambition and rapine of Piso in his administration of Spain; things which, though proved, brought him under no penalty, if acquitted of the present charge; nor, though he had been cleared of former faults, could he escape the load of greater enormities. After him Serveus, Veranius and Vitellius, all with equal zeal, but Vitellius, with great Eloquence, urged, “That Piso, in hatred to Germanicus, and passionate for innovations, had, by tolerating general licenciousness, and the oppression of the Allies, corrupted the common soldiers to that degree, that by the most profligate he was stiled Father of the Legions. He had, on the contrary, been outrageous to the best men, above all to the friends and companions of Germanicus, and, at last, by witchcraft and poyson destroyed Germanicus himself; hence the infernal charms and immolations practised by him and Plancina. He had then attacked the Commonwealth with open arms; and, before he could be brought to be tried, they were forced to fight and defeat him.”

In every article but one his defence was faltering. For, neither his dangerous intrigues in debauching the soldiery, nor his abandoning the province to the most profligate and rapacious, nor even his insults to Germanicus, were to be denied. He seemed only to wipe off the charge of poyson; a charge which Edition: current; Page: [188]in truth was not sufficiently corroborated by the accusers, since they had only to alledge, “that at an entertainment of Germanicus, Piso, while he sat above him, with his hands poysoned the meat.” It appeared absurd, that, amongst so many attending slaves besides his own, in so great a presence, and under the eye of Germanicus, he would attempt it. He himself required that the waiters might be racked, and offered to the rack his own domestics. But the Judges were implacable, from different motives, Tiberius for the war raised in the province; and the Senate could never be convinced that the death of Germanicus was not the effect of fraud. Some moved for the Letters written to Piso from Rome, a motion opposed by Tiberius no less than by Piso. From without, at the same time, were heard the cries of the people, “that if he escaped the judgment of the Senate, they would with their own hands destroy him.” They had already dragged his Statues to the place from whence Malefactors were precipitated, and there had broken them; but by the orders of Tiberius they were rescued and replaced. Piso was put into a litter and carried back by a Tribune of a Prætorian Cohort; an attendance variously understood, whether that officer was intended as a guard for his safety, or a minister of death.

Plancina was under equal public hatred, but had more secret favour; hence it was doubted how far Tiberius durst proceed against Edition: current; Page: [189]her. For herself; while her husband’s hopes were yet plausible, she professed that “she would accompany his fortune whatever it were, and, if he fell, fall with him.” But when, by the secret sollicitations of Livia, she had secured her own pardon, she began by degrees to drop her husband, and to make a separate defence. After this fatal warning, he doubted whether he should make any further efforts; but, by the advice of his sons, fortifying his mind, he again entered the Senate. There he found the prosecution renewed, suffered the declared indignation of the fathers, and saw all things cross and terrible; but nothing so much daunted him as to behold Tiberius, without mercy, without wrath, close, dark, unmoveable, and bent against every access of tenderness. When he was brought home, as if he were preparing for his further defence the next day, he wrote somewhat, which he sealed and delivered to his Freedman. He then washed and anointed, and took the usual care of his person. Late in the night, his wife leaving the chamber, he ordered the door to be shut, and was found, at break of day, with his throat cut, his sword lying by him.

I remember to have heard from ancient men, that in the hands of Piso was frequently seen a bundle of writings, which he did not expose, but which, as his friends constantly averred, “contained the Letters of Tiberius, and his cruel orders towards Germanicus; that he resolved to lay them before the Fathers, Edition: current; Page: [190]and to charge the Emperor, but was deluded by the hollow promises of Sejanus; and that neither did Piso die by his own hands, but by those of an express and private executioner.” I dare affirm neither; nor yet ought I to conceal the relations of such as still lived when I was a youth. Tiberius, with an assumed air of sadness, complained in the Senate, that Piso, by that sort of death, had aimed to load him with obloquy, and asked many questions, how he had passed his last day, how his last night? The Freedman answered to most with prudence, to some in confusion. The Emperor then recited the Letter sent him by Piso. It was conceived almost in these words; “Oppressed by a combination of my enemies, and the imputation of false crimes, since no place is left here to truth and my innocence; to the immortal Gods I appeal, that towards you, Cæsar, I have lived with sincere faith, nor towards your mother with less reverence. For my sons, I implore her protection and yours; my son Cneius had no share in my late management, whatever it were, since, all the while, he abode at Rome. My son Marcus dissuaded me from returning to Syria. Oh that, old as I am, I had yielded to him, rather than he, young as he is, to me! Hence, more passionately, I pray, that, innocent as he is, he suffer not in the punishment of my guilt. By a series of services for five and forty years, I entreat you, by our former fellowship in the Consulship, Edition: current; Page: [191]by the memory of the deified Augustus, your father, by his friendship to me, by mine to you, I entreat you for the life and fortune of my unhappy son. It is the last request which I shall ever make you.” Of Plancina he said nothing.

Tiberius, upon this, cleared the young man of any crime as to the Civil War; he alledged “the orders of his father, which a son could not disobey.” He likewise bewailed “that noble house, and even the grievous lot of Piso himself, however deserved.” For Plancina he pleaded with shame and guilt, alledgeing the importunity of his mother, against whom more particularly the secret murmurs of the best people waxed bitter and poignant. “Was it then the tender part of a grand-mother to admit to her sight the murderess of her grandson, to be intimate with her, and to snatch her from the vengeance of the Senate? To Germanicus alone was denied what by the Laws was granted to every Citizen. By Vitellius and Veranius, the cause of that Prince was mourned and pleaded; by the Emperor and his mother, Plancina was defended and protected. Henceforth she might pursue her infernal arts, so successfully tried, repeat her poisonings, and by her arts and poisons assail Agrippina and her children, and, with the blood of that most miserable house, satiate the worthy grand-mother and uncle.” In this Mock-Trial two days were wasted; Tiberius, all Edition: current; Page: [192]the while, animating the sons of Piso to defend their mother. When the pleaders and witnesses had vigorously pushed the charge, and no reply was made, commiseration prevailed over hatred. The Consul Aurelius Cotta was first asked his opinion; for, when the Emperor collected the voices, the Magistrates likewise voted. Cotta’s sentence was, “That the name of Piso should be razed from the Annals, part of his estate forfeited, part granted to his son Cneius, upon changing that name; his son Marcus should be divested of his dignity, and, content with fifty thousand great sesterces, be banished for ten years; and to Plancina, at the request of Livia, indemnity should be granted.”

Much of this sentence was abated by the Emperor, particularly that of striking Piso’s name out of the Annals, when “that of Marc Anthony, who made war upon his country, that of Julus Antonius, who had by adultery violated the house of Augustus, continued still there.” He also exempted Marcus Piso from the ignominy of degradation, and left him his whole paternal inheritance; for, as I have already often observed, he was incorruptible by any temptations of money, and from the shame of having acquitted Plancina, rendered then more than usually mild. He likewise withstood the motion of Valerius Messalinus, “for erecting a golden Statue in the Temple of Mars the Avenger,” and that of Cæcina Severus, Edition: current; Page: [193]“for founding an Altar to Revenge.” Such Monuments “as these, he argued, were only fit to be raised upon foreign victories; domestic evils were to be buried in sadness.” Messalinus had added, “That to Tiberius, Livia, Antonia, Agrippina and Drusus, public thanks were to be rendered for haveing revenged the death of Germanicus;” but had omitted to mention Claudius. Messalinus was asked by Lucius Asprenas, in the presence of the Senate, “whether by design he had omitted him?” and then at last the name of Claudius was subjoined. To me, the more I revolve the events of late or of old, the more of mockery and slipperiness appears in all human wisdom, and the transactions of men; for, in popular fame, in the hopes, wishes and veneration of the public, all men were rather destined to the Empire, than he for whom fortune then reserved the sovereignty in the dark.

A few days after, Vitellius, Veranius and Serveus, were by the Senate preferred to the honours of the Priesthood, at the motion of Tiberius. To Fulcinius he promised his interest and suffrage towards preferment, but advised him “not to embarass his Eloquence by impetuosity.” This was the end of revenging the Death of Germanicus, an affair ambiguously related, not by those only who then lived and interested themselves in it, but likewise in following times; so dark and intricate are all the highest transactions, while Edition: current; Page: [194]some hold for certain facts, the most precarious hearsays, others turn facts into falshood, and both are swallowed and improved by the credulity of posterity. Drusus went now without the City, there to renew the ceremony of the Auspices, and presently re-entred in the Triumph of Ovation. A few days after died Vipsania his mother, of all the children of Agrippa, the only one who made a pacific end; the rest manifestly perished, or are believed to have perished, by the sword, poison, and famine.

The same year, Tacfarinas, whom I have mentioned to have been the former summer defeated by Camillus, renewed the war in Africa, first by roving devastations, so sudden that they escaped unchastised; next he sacked towns, and bore away mighty plunder; at last he begirt a Roman Cohort, a small distance from the river Pagida. It was a fort commanded by Decrius, a brave soldier, exercised in war, and now touched with the ignominy of such a siege. Encouraging therefore his men to offer open battle, he drew them up without the walls. At the first shock the Cohort was repulsed; but the resolute Decrius braved the enemy’s darts, opposed the runaways, and upbraided the standard-bearers, “that, upon vagabonds, and undisciplined robbers, the Roman soldiers turned their backs.” He had already received several wounds, and his eye was beat out, but still faced the foe, nor ceased fighting, till, wholly deserted by his men, he at last was slain.

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Lucius Apronius had succeeded Camillus. As soon as he learnt this defeat, piqued rather by the infamy of his own men, than the glory of the enemy, he practised an exemplary severity, at this time rare, but agreeable to ancient discipline, by executing with a club every tenth man of that ignominious Cohort, drawn by lot. Such too was the effect of this rigour, that those very forces of Tacfarinas, as they besieged the fortress of Thala, were routed by a squadron of five hundred Veterans. In this battle Rufus Helvius, a common soldier, acquired the glory of saving a Citizen, and was by Apronius presented with the Spear and Collar. Tiberius added the Civic Crown, complaining, rather than resenting, that Apronius had not, in right of Proconsul, granted that also. Tacfarinas, now his Numidians were dismayed, and bent against sieges, made a desultory war, flying when attacked, and, upon a retreat, assaulting the rear. As long as the African observed this method, he, with impunity to himself, mocked and harassed the Romans; but after he drew down to the maritime places, the allurements and quantities of plunder confined him to his Camp. Hither Apronius Cesianus was, by his father, dispatched with the cavalry and auxiliary Cohorts, to which was added a detachment of the best Legionary foot; and, having successfully fought the Numidians, drove them back to the desarts.

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At Rome the while, Emilia Lepida, who, besides the nobleness of the Emilian family, was great grand-daughter to Pompey and Sylla, was charged with imposing a false birth upon Publius Quirinius her husband, a man rich and childless. The charge was swelled with “adulterics, poisonings, and treasonable dealings with the Chaldeans about the fate and continuance of the Imperial house.” Her brother Manius Lepidus defended her; and, guilty and infamous as she was, the persecution from her husband (continued after their divorce) drew compassion upon her. In this Trial, it was no easy matter to discover the heart of Tiberius, with such subtlety he mixed and shifted the symptoms of indignation and clemency. At first, he besought the Senate, “not to meddle with the articles of treason;” and presently engaged Marcus Servilius, once Consul, and the other witnesses, to produce the very evidences of treason which he would have appeared desirous to suppress. Yet he took the slaves of Lepida from the guard of soldiers, and surrendered them to the Consuls; nor would he suffer them to be examined by torture, as to her practises against himself; he even excused Drusus from voting first, as Consul elect. This some understood as an instance of complaisance, “that the rest might not be obliged to follow the example of Drusus.” Some ascribe it to cruelty, “for that only Edition: current; Page: [197]with design to have her condemned, that concession was made.”

The public Games interrupted the Trial, and in the recess, Lepida, accompanied with other Ladies of great quality, entered the Theatre. There, with doleful lamentations, invoking her illustrious ancestors, especially the great Pompey, whose statues stood round in view, the Theatre itself a monument of his raising, she excited such universal commiseration, that the Spectators burst into tears; and uttering cruel and direful imprecations against Quirinius, declared their indignation, “That to his childless old age, and mean blood, should be given a Lady once designed for the wife of Lucius Cæsar, and for the daughter-in-law of the deified Augustus.” At last, by racking her slaves, her crimes were made manifest, and the judgment of Rubellius Blandus prevailed, for interdicting her from fire and water. To this judgment Drusus assented, though others had proposed a milder. That her estate should not be forfeited, was granted to Scaurus, who by her had had a daughter. And now, after condemnation, Tiberius advertised the Senate, that “from the slaves too of Quirinius he had learnt her attempts to poison him.”

As a consolation to the illustrious Families of Rome, for their late calamities (for the Calpurnian house had suffered the loss of Piso, and, just after, the Emilian house that of Lepida) Decius Silanus was now restored to Edition: current; Page: [198]the Junian family. I will briefly recite his disgrace. As against the Republic, the fortune of Augustus was prevalent, so, in his family, it was unhappy, by the lewdness of his daughter and grand-daughter, whom he turned out of Rome, and with death or exile punished their adulterers. For, to a fault common between men and women, he gave the heinous name of sacrilege and treason; and thence had a colour for departing from the tenderness of our ancestors, and for violating his own laws. But I shall hereafter relate the fate of others from this his severity, as also the other transactions of that time, if, having finished my present undertaking, life remains for other studies. Silanus, who had viciated the granddaughter of Augustus, though he felt no higher indignation than to be excluded from the friendship and presence of the Emperor, yet understood this as a denunciation of banishment; nor durst he, till the reign of Tiberius, supplicate the Prince and Senate for leave to return; and then only trusted to the prevailing credit of his brother Marcus Silanus, distinguished by his illustrious quality, and eminent for his great Eloquence. Marcus having returned thanks to Tiberius, had this answer before the Senate; “That he himself also rejoiced that his brother was returned from travels so long and remote; that his return home was perfectly unexceptionable, since neither by decree of Senate, nor by any sentence of law had he been Edition: current; Page: [199]driven thence; that to himself however still remained intire the resentments of his father towards him; nor by the return of Silanus were the purposes of Augustus violated.” Thenceforward he remained in Rome, but distinguished by no preferment in the State.

The qualifying of the Law Papia Poppea was afterwards proposed; a Law, which, to enforce those of Julius Cæsar, Augustus had made when he was old, for punishing Celibacy, and enriching the Exchequer. Nor even by this means had marriages and children multiplied, while a passion to live single and childless still prevailed: But, in the mean time, the numbers threatened and in danger by it, increased daily, while by the glosses and chicane of the impleaders every family was undone. So that, as before the city laboured under the weight of crimes, so now under the pest of laws. From this thought I am led backwards to the first rise of Laws, and to open the steps and causes by which we are arrived to the present number and excess, a number infinite and perplexed.

The first race of men, free as yet from every depraved passion, lived without guile and crimes, and therefore without chastisements and restraints; nor was there occasion for rewards, when of their own accord they pursued righteousness; and as they courted nothing contrary to justice, they were debarred from nothing by terrors. But, after they had abandoned their original equality, and from Edition: current; Page: [200]modesty and shame to do evil, proceeded to ambition and violence, Lordly dominion was introduced, and arbitrary rule, and in many nations grew perpetual. Some, either from the beginning, or after they were surfeited with Kings, preferred the sovereignty of Laws, which, agreeably to the artless minds of men, were at first short and simple. The laws in most renown were those framed for the Cretans by Minos, for the Spartans by Lycurgus; and afterwards such as Solon delivered to the Athenians, now greater in number, and more exquisirely composed. To the Romans justice was administered by Romulus according to his pleasure. After him, Numa managed the people by religious devices, and laws divine. Some institutions were made by Tullus Hostilius, some by Ancus Martius; but above all our laws were those founded by Servius Tullius, such laws as even our Kings were bound to obey.

Upon the expulsion of Tarquin, the people, for the security of their freedom against the encroachment and factions of the Senate, and for binding the public concord, prepared many ordinances. Hence were created the Decemviri, and by them were composed the twelve Tables, out of a collection of the most excellent institutions found abroad. This was the period of all upright and impartial Laws. What laws followed, though sometimes made against crimes and offenders, were yet chiefly made by violence, through the animosity of Edition: current; Page: [201]the two Estates, and for seizing unjustly withholden offices, or for banishing illustrious Patriots, and to other wicked ends. Hence the Gracchi and Saturnini, inflamers of the people; and hence Livius Drusus vying, on behalf of the Senate, in popular concessions with these inflamers, whence our Italian Allies were first corrupted and animated with fair promises, then by the opposition of other Demagogues disappointed and deceived. Neither during the War of Italy, nor during the Civil War, was the making of regulations discontinued; many and contradictory were even then made. At last Sylla the Dictator, changing or abolishing the past, added many of his own, and procured some respite in this matter, but not long; for presently followed the turbulent pursuits and proposals of Lepidus, and soon after were the Tribunes restored to their licentious authority of throwing the people into combustions at pleasure. And now Laws were not made for the public only, but, for particular men, particular laws; and, corruption abounding in the Commonwealth, the Commonwealth abounded in laws.

Pompey was now, in his third Consulship, chosen to correct the public enormities, and his remedies proved to the State more grievous than its distempers. He made Laws, such as suited his ambition, and broke them when they thwarted his will, and lost by arms the regulations which by arms he had procured. Henceforward for twenty years civil discord raged, Edition: current; Page: [202]and there was neither law nor settlement; the most wicked found impunity in the excess of their wickedness, and many virtuous men in their uprightness met destruction. At length, Augustus Cæsar, in his sixth Consulship, then confirmed in power without a rival, abolished the orders which during the Triumvirate he had established, and gave us laws proper for peace and a single ruler. These laws had sanctions severer than any heretofore known; as their guardians, Informers were appointed, who by the Law Papia Poppea were encouraged with rewards, to watch such as neglected the privileges annexed to marriage and fatherhood, and consequently could claim no legacy or inheritance, the same, as vacant, belonging to the Roman people, who were the public parent. But these Informers struck much deeper; by them the whole City, all Italy, and the Roman Citizens in every part of the Empire, were infested and persecuted; numbers were stripped of their intire fortunes, and terror had seized all, when Tiberius, for a check to this evil, chose twenty Noblemen, five who were formerly Consuls, five, who were formerly Prætors, with ten other Senators, to review that law. By them many of its intricacies were explained, its strictness qualified; and hence some present alleviation was yielded.

Tiberius, about this time, recommended to the Senate Nero, one of the sons of Germanicus, now seventeen years of age, and desired, “that he might be exempted from Edition: current; Page: [203]executing the office of the Vigintivirate, and have leave to sue for the Quæstorship five years sooner than the laws directed.” A piece of mockery this request to all who heard it; but Tiberius pretended, “that the same concessions had been decreed to himself, and his brother Drusus, at the request of Augustus.” Nor do I doubt but there were then such who secretly ridiculed that sort of petitions from Augustus. Such policy was however natural to that Prince, then laying the foundations of the Imperial power, and while the Republic and its late laws were still fresh in the minds of men. Besides, the relation was lighter between Augustus and his wife’s sons, than between a grandfather and his grandsons. To the grant of the Quæstorship was added a seat in the College of Pontifs; and the first day he entered the Forum in his manly robe, a donative of corn and money was distributed to the populace, who exulted to behold a son of Germanicus now of age. Their joy was soon heightened by his marriage with Julia, the daughter of Drusus. But as these transactions were attended with public applauses, so the intended marriage of the daughter of Sejanus with the son of Claudius, was received with popular indignation. By this alliance the nobility of the Claudian house seemed stained, and by it Sejanus, already suspected of aspiring views, was exalted still higher.

At the end of this year died two great and eminent men, Lucius Volusius, and Sallustius Edition: current; Page: [204]Crispus. The family of Volusius was ancient, but, in the exercise of public office, rose never higher than the Prætorship; it was he who honoured it with the Consulship. He was likewise created Censor, for modelling the classes of the Equestrian Order, and first accumulated the wealth which raised that family beyond all measure. Crispus was born of an Equestrian house, great nephew by a sister to Caius Sallustius, the renowned Roman Historian, and by him adopted. The way to the great offices was open to him; but, in imitation of Mæcenas, he lived without the dignity of Senator, yet outwent in power many who were distinguished with Consulships and triumphs. His manner of living, his dress and daintiness, were different from the ways of antiquity, and, in expence and affluence, he bordered rather upon luxury. He possessed, however, a vigour of spirit, equal to great affairs, and exerted the greater promptness, for that he hid it in a shew of indolence and sloth. He was therefore, in the life-time of Mæcenas, the next in favour, afterwards chief confident in all the secret Counsels of Augustus and Tiberius, and assenting to the order for slaying Agrippa Posthumus. In his old age he preserved with the Prince rather the outside than the vitals of authority. The same had happened to Mæcenas. Such is the lot of power, rarely perpetual, perhaps from satiety on both sides, Edition: current; Page: [205]when Princes have no more to grant, and Ministers no more to crave.

Next followed the Consulship of Tiberius and Drusus, to Tiberius the fourth, to Drusus the second; a Consulship remarkable, for that in it the father and son were Collegues. There was indeed the same fellowship between Tiberius and Germanicus, two years before; but, besides the distastes of jealousy in the uncle, the ties of blood were not so near. In the beginning of the year, Tiberius, on pretence of his health, retired to Campania, either already meditating a long and perpetual retirement, or to leave to Drusus, in his father’s absence, the honour of executing the Consulship alone. And there happened a thing which, small in itself, yet as it produced mighty contestation, furnished the young Consul with matter of popular affection. Domitius Corbulo, formerly Prætor, complained to the Senate of Lucius Sylla, a noble youth, “that in the shew of Gladiators, Sylla would not yield him place.” Age, domestic custom, and the ancient men were for Corbulo. Mamercus Scaurus, Lucius Arruntius, and others, laboured for their kinsman Sylla. Warm speeches were made, and the examples of our ancestors were urged, “who by severe decrees had censured and restrained the irreverence of the youth.” Drusus interposed with arguments proper for calming animosities, and Corbulo had satisfaction made him by Scaurus, who was both Edition: current; Page: [206]father-in-law and uncle to Sylla, and the most copious Orator of that age. The same Corbulo, exclaiming against “the condition of most of the roads through Italy, that through the fraud of the undertakers, and negligence of the civil officers, they were broken and unpassable;” undertook of his own accord the cure of that abuse; an undertaking which he executed, not so much to the advantage of the public, as to the ruin of many private men in their fortunes and reputation, by his violent mulcts, and unjust judgments and forfeitures.

Soon after Tiberius by Letter acquainted the Senate, “That by the incursions of Tacfarinas there were fresh commotions in Africa, and that they must chuse a Proconsul, one of military experience, vigorous, and equal to that war.” Sextus Pompeius, taking this occasion to discharge his hate against Marcus Lepidus, reproached him “as dastardly, indigent, a scandal to his ancestors, and therefore to be divested even of the Government of Asia, his province by lot.” The Senate opposed him; they thought Lepidus a man rather mild than slothful, and that, as in his narrow fortune bequeathed to him, but not impaired by him, he supported his quality without blemish, he merited honour rather than contumely. He was therefore sent to Asia. Concerning Africa, it was decreed, that the appointment of a Governor should be left to the Emperor.

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During these transactions, Cæcina Severus proposed, “That no Magistrate should go into any province accompanied by his wife.” He introduced this motion with a long preface, “that he lived with his own in perfect concord, by her he had six children, and what he offered to the public he had practised himself, having during forty years service, left her still behind him, confined to Italy. It was not indeed, without cause, established of old, that women should neither be carried by their husbands into confederate nations, nor into foreign. A train of women introduced luxury in peace, by their fears retarded war, and made a Roman army resemble, in their march, a mixed host of Barbarians. The sex was not tender only and unfit for travel, but, if suffered, cruel, aspiring, and greedy of authority; they even marched amongst the soldiers, and were obeyed by the officers. A woman had lately presided at the exercises of the troops, and at the decursions of the Legions. The Senate themselves might remember, that as often as any of the Magistrates were charged with plundering the provinces, their wives were always charged with much guilt. To the Ladies the most profligate in the province ever applied, by them all affairs were undertaken, by them transacted; at home two distinct courts were kept, and abroad the wife had her distinct train and attendants. The Ladies too issued distinct Edition: current; Page: [208]orders, but more imperious, and better obeyed. Such feminine excesses were formerly restrained by the Oppian and other Laws, but now these restraints were violated, women ruled all things, their families, the Forum and Tribunals, and even the armies.”

This speech was heard by few with approbation, and many proclaimed their dissent, “for that neither was that the point in debate, nor was Cæcina considerable enough to censure so weighty an affair.” He was presently answered by Valerius Messalinus, who was the son of Messala, and inherited a sparkling of his father’s Eloquence: “that many rigorous institutions of the ancients were softened and changed for the better. For neither was Rome now, as of old, beset with wars, nor Italy with hostile provinces; hence a few concessions were made to the conveniences of women, who were so far from burdening the provinces, that to their own husbands there they were no burden. As to honours, attendants, and expence, they enjoyed them in common with their husbands, who could receive no embarassment from their company in time of peace. To war, indeed, we must go equipped and unincumbered; but after the fatigues of war, what was more allowable than the consolations of a wife? But it seemed, the wives of some Magistrates had given a loose to ambition and Edition: current; Page: [209]avarice: And were the Magistrates themselves free from these excesses? Were not most of them governed by many exorbitant appetites? Did we therefore send none into the provinces? It was added, that the husbands were corrupted by their corrupt wives; Were therefore all single men uncorrupt? The Oppian Laws were once thought necessary, because the exigencies of the State required their severity; they were afterwards relaxed and mollified, because that too was expedient for the State. In vain we covered our own sloth with borrowed names; if the wife broke bounds, the husband ought to bear the blame. It was moreover unjustly judged, for the weak and uxorious spirit of one or a few, to bereave all others of the fellowship of their wives, the natural partners of their prosperity and distress. Besides, the sex, weak by nature, would be left defenceless, exposed to the luxurious bent of their native passions, and to the seduction of adulterers. Scarce under the eye and restraint of the husband, was the marriage-bed preserved inviolate; what must be the consequence, when, by an absence of many years, the ties of marriage would be forgot, as it were, in a divorce? It became them therefore, so to cure the evils abroad, as not to forget the enormities at Rome.” To this Drusus added somewhat concerning his own wedlock. “Princes, he said, were frequently obliged to visit the remote parts of the Empire; Edition: current; Page: [210]how often did the deified Augustus travel to the East, how often to the West, still accompanied with Livia? He himself too had taken a progress to Illyricum, and, if it were expedient, was ready to visit other nations; but not always with an easy spirit, if he were to be torn from his dear wife, her by whom he had so many children.” Thus was Cæcina’s motion eluded.

When the Senate met next, they had a Letter from Tiberius. In it he affected indirectly to chide the fathers, “that upon him they cast all public cares,” and named them M. Lepidus and Junius Blesus, to choose either for Proconsul of Africa. They were then both heard as to this nomination, and Lepidus excused himself with earnestness, pleaded “his bodily frailty, the tender age of his children, and a daughter fit for marriage.” There was another reason too, of which he said nothing, but it was easily understood, even that Blesus was uncle to Sejanus, and therefore had the prevailing interest. Blesus too made a shew of refusing, but not with the like positiveness, and moreover, was heard with partiality by the flatterers of power.

Now at last broke out a grievance which had lain hitherto smothered in the uneasy minds of men. The Statues of the Emperor were become sanctuaries to every profligate, who, by laying hold on these Statues, had assumed the insolence of venting with impunity their invectives and hatred against worthy Edition: current; Page: [211]men. Even slaves and freedmen were thence grown terrible to their masters, and wantonly insulted and threatned them. Against this abuse it was argued by Caius Sestius the Senator, “that Princes were indeed the representatives of the Gods, but by the Gods just petitions only were heard, nor did any one betake himself to the Capitol, or the other Temples of Rome, that under their sacred shelter he might exercise villainies. The laws were abolished, and finally overturned, if a criminal convict could, in the public Forum, nay, at the door of the Senate, assault her prosecutor with invectives and menaces; Yet thus had Annia Rufilla assaulted him, she whom he had got judicially condemned for forgery; neither durst he seek relief from the law, for that she protected herself with the Emperor’s Statue. Much the same reasoning was offered by others: some aggravated the offence with greater bitterness, and besought Drusus to shew an exemplary instance of vengeance; so that she was summoned, convicted of the charge, and by his command committed to the common prison.

Considius Equus too, and Celius Cursor, Roman Knights, were at the motion of Drusus, punished by a decree of Senate, for forging a charge of treason against the Prætor Magius Cæcilianus. From this their punishment and that of Rufilla, Drusus reaped popular praise, “that by him, living thus sociably at Rome, and frequenting the Edition: current; Page: [212]public assemblies, the dark spirit and designs of his father were softened.” Neither did the luxury, in which the young Prince lived, give much offence. “Let him, it was said, be rather thus imployed, his days in shews and acts of popularity, his nights in banqueting, than in dismal solitude, withdrawn from public gayety, worried with incessant distrusts, and fostering black designs.”

For neither was Tiberius nor the impleaders yet tired with accusations. Ancharius Priscus had accused Cæsius Cordus, Proconsul of Crete, of robbing the public, with an additional charge of high treason, a charge which at that time was the main bulwark of all accusations. Antistius Vetus, a Nobleman of the first rank in Macedonia, had been tried for adultery, and absolved. This offended Tiberius, who reproached the Judges, and recalled him to be tried for treason, as a disturber of the public, and confederate with the late King Rhescuporis, when having slain his brother Cotys, he meditated war against us. So that Vetus was condemned, and interdicted from fire and water. To this sentence it was added, “that he should be confined to an island, neither in the neighbourhood of Macedon nor of Thrace.” For, upon the division of that Kingdom between Rhemetalces and the sons of Cotys, who being children, had for their guardian Trebellienus Rufus, the Thracians, not used to our Government, waxed discontented and tumultuous; Edition: current; Page: [213]nor did they less censure Rhemetalces than Trebellienus, for leaving unpunished the violences done them. The Cœletæans, Odrysœans, and other very powerful nations, took arms, under distinct Captains, but all equal in meanness and incapacity. For this reason, their armies were not united, nor the war terrible. Some committed ravages at home, others traversed Mount Haemus, to engage in the insurrection the distant provinces. The greatest part, and best appointed, besieged Philippopolis, (a City founded by Philip of Macedon) and in it King Rhemetalces.

Publius Velleius, who commanded the army in the neighbouring province, when he heard of these commotions, dispatched parties of horse and light foot, some against those who roamed about for plunder, some against such as rambled from place to place to sollicit succours; he himself led the body of the Infantry to raise the siege. These several enterprizes were at once successfully executed, the rovers were cut off; divisions arose amongst the besiegers, and the King fortunately sallied, just as the Roman forces arrived. This gang of Thracians deserve not the name of an army, nor this rout to be called a battle, where vagabonds half-armed were slaughtered, without blood on our side.

The same year the Cities of Gaul, stimulated by their excessive debts, began a Rebellion. The most vehement incendiaries were Julius Florus, and Julius Sacrovir, the Edition: current; Page: [214]first amongst those of Treves, the second amongst the Eduans. They were both of distinguished nobility, both descended from ancestors, who had done signal services to the Roman State, and thence acquired of old the right of Roman Citizens, a privilege rare in those days, and only the prize of virtue. When by secret meetings they had gained those who were most prompt to rebel, with such as were desperate through indigence, or, from guilt of past crimes, forced to commit more, they agreed that Florus should begin the insurrection in Belgia, Sacrovir amongst the neighbouring Gauls. They therefore had many consultations and cabals, where they spared no topic of sedition, “their tribute without end, their devouring usury, the pride and cruelty of their Governors, the discord that had seized the Roman soldiery since the report of the murder of Germanicus; a glorious conjuncture for redeeming their Liberty, if they would only consider their own happiness and strength, while Italy was poor and exhausted, the Roman populace weak and unwarlike, the Roman armies destitute of all vigour, but that derived from foreigners.”

Scarce one City remained untainted with the seeds of this Rebellion, but it first broke out at Angiers and Tours. The former were reduced by Acilius Aviola, a Legate, with the assistance of a Cohort drawn from the garrison at Lions. Those of Tours were suppressed by the same Aviola, assisted with a Edition: current; Page: [215]detachment sent from the Legions, by Visellius Varro, Lieutenant-Governor of lower Germany. Some of the Chiefs of the Gauls had likewise joined him with succours, the better to disguise their defection, and to push it with more effect hereafter. Even Sacrovir was beheld engaged in fight for the Romans, with his head bare, a demonstration, he pretended, of his bravery; but, the prisoners averred, “that he did it to be known to his country-men, and to escape their darts.”

An account of all this was laid before Tiberius, who slighted it, and by hesitation fostered the war. Florus the while pushed his designs, and tried to persuade a Regiment of horse, levied at Treves, and kept under our pay and discipline, to begin the war, by putting to the sword the Roman Merchants; and some few were corrupted by him, but the body remained in their allegiance. A rabble however of his followers and desperate debtors, took arms, and were making to the Forest of Arden, when the Legions, sent from both armies by Visellius and Caius Silius, through different routs to intercept them, marred their march. Julius Indus too, one of the same country with Florus, at enmity with him, and therefore more eager to engage him, was dispatched forward with a chosen band, and broke the ill-appointed multitude. Florus, by lurking from place to place, frustrated the search of the conquerors; at last, when he saw all the passes beset with soldiers, he fell by his Edition: current; Page: [216]own hands. This was the issue of the insurrection at Treves.

Amongst the Eduans the revolt was as much stronger, as the state was more opulent, and the forces to suppress it were to be brought from afar. Augustodunum, the capital of the nation, was seized by Sacrovir, and in it all the noble youth of Gaul, who were there instructed in the Liberal Arts. By securing these pledges, he aimed to bind in his interest their parents and relations, and at the same time distributed to the young men the arms which he had caused to be secretly made. He had forty thousand men, the fifth part armed like our Legions, the rest with poles, hangers, and other weapons used by hunters. To the number were added such of the slaves as had been appointed to be Gladiators, covered, after the fashion of the country, with a continued armour of iron, and stiled Crupellarii, a sort of militia, unweildly at exercising their own weapons, and impenetrable by those of others. These forces were still increased by voluntiers from the neighbouring cities, where, though the public body did not hitherto avow the revolt, yet the zeal of particulars was manifest. They had likewise leisure to increase from the contention of the two Roman Generals; a contention for some time undecided, while each demanded the command in that war. At length Varro, old and infirm, yielded to the superior vigour of Silius.

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Now, at Rome, “not only the insurrection of Treves and of the Eduans, but likewise, that threescore and four cities of Gaul had revolted, that the Germans had joined in the revolt, and that Spain fluctuated,” were reports, all believed with the usual aggravations of fame. The best men grieved in sympathy for their country; many, from hatred of the present government, and thirst of change, rejoiced in their own perils. They inveighed against Tiberius, “that, in such a mighty uproar of rebellion, he was only employed in perusing the informations of the State-Accusers.” They asked, “Did he mean to surrender Julius Sacrovir to the Senate, to try him for treason?” They exulted, “that there were at last found men, who would with arms restrain his bloody Letters (to the Senate) continually demanding condemnations and executions;” and declared, “that even war was a happy change for a most wretched and calamitous peace.” So much the more for this, Tiberius affected to appear wrapt up in security and unconcern; he neither changed place nor countenance, but behaved himself at that time as at other times, whether from elevation of mind, or whether he had learnt that the state of things was not alarming, and only heightened by vulgar representation.

Silius the while sending forward a band of Auxiliaries, marched with two Legions, and ravaged the villages of the Sequanians, next Edition: current; Page: [218]neighbours to the Eduans, and their associates in arms. He then advanced towards Augustodunum, a hasty march, the Standard-bearers mutually vying in expedition, and the common men breathing ardour and eagerness, “that no time might be wasted even in the usual refreshments, none of their nights in sleep; let them only see and confront the foe; they wanted no more to be victorious.” Twelve miles from Augustodunum Sacrovir appeared with his forces upon the plains; in the front he had placed the iron troop, his Cohorts in the wings, the half-armed in the rear; he himself, upon a fine horse, attended by the other chiefs, addressing himself to them from rank to rank; reminded them “of the glorious atchievements of the ancient Gauls; of the victorious mischiefs they had brought upon the Romans; of the liberty and renown attending victory; of their redoubled and intolerable servitude, if once more vanquished.”

A short speech, and disheartened audience! For, the embattled Legions approached, and the crowd of townsmen, ill-appointed and novices in war, stood astonished, bereft of the present use of eyes and hearing. On the other side, Silius, though he presumed the victory, and thence might have spared exhortations, yet called to his men, “That they might be with reason ashamed, that they, the Conquerors of Germany, should be thus led against a rabble of Gauls as against an equal enemy; Edition: current; Page: [219]one Cohort had newly defcated the rebels of Tours, one Regiment of horse those of Treves; a handful of this very army had routed the Sequanians. The present Eduans, the more they abound in wealth, the more they wallow in voluptuousness, are so much the more soft and unwarlike: this is what you are now to prove, and your task to prevent their escape.” His words were returned with a mighty cry. Instantly the horse surrounded the foe, the foot attacked their front, and the wings were presently routed. The iron-band gave some short obstruction, as the bars of their coats withstood the stroaks of sword and pike; but the soldiers had recourse to their hatchets and pick-axes, and, as if they had battered a wall, hewed their bodies and armour; others with clubs, and some with forks, beat down the helpless lumps, who, as they lay stretched along, without one struggle to rise, were left for dead. Sacrovir fled first to Augustodunum, thence, fearful of being surrendered, to a neighbouring town, accompanied by his most faithful adherents; there he slew himself, and the rest one another, having first set the town on fire, by which they were all consumed.

Now at last Tiberius wrote to the Senate about this war, and, at once, acquainted them with its rise and conclusion, neither aggravateing facts nor lessening them; but added, “That it was conducted by the fidelity and bravery of his Lieutenants, guided by his counsels.” Edition: current; Page: [220]He likewise assigned the reasons why neither he, nor Drusus, went to that war; “That the Empire was an immense body, and it became not the dignity of a Prince, upon the revolt of one or two communities, to desert the capital, whence motion was derived to the whole. But now, since he could not be thought conducted by any dread of those nations, he would take a progress to visit and settle them.” The Senate decreed vows and supplications for his return, with other customary honours. Only Cornelius Dolabella, while he strove to outdo others, fell into ridiculous sycophancy, by proposing, “That returning from Campania he should enter Rome in the Triumph of Ovation.” This occasioned a Letter from Tiberius, in which he declared, “That he was not so destitute of glory, that after having in his youth subdued the fiercest nations, and enjoyed or slighted so many Triumphs, he should now in his old age seek empty honours from a short progress about the suburbs of Rome.”

About the same time he desired of the Senate, that “the corps of Sulpitius Quirinus might be distinguished with a public Funeral.” Quirinus was born at Lanuvium, a Municipal town, and no wise related to the ancient Patrician family of the Sulpitii, but being a brave soldier, was, for his vigorous military services to Augustus, rewarded with the Consulship, and soon after with a Triumph, Edition: current; Page: [221]for driving the Homonades out of their strong holds in Cilicia. Next, when the young Caius Cæsar was sent to settle the affairs of Armenia, Quirinus was appointed his Governor, and at the same time paid all court to Tiberius, then in his retirement at Rhodes. This the Emperor represented now to the Senate, extolled the kind offices of Quirinus, and branded Marcus Lollius as the author of the perverse behaviour of Caius Cæsar to himself, and of all the jarring between them. In other instances the memory of Quirinus was not acceptable to the Senate, for his deadly persecution against Lepida, above recited, and for his prevailing power and avarice in his old age.

At the end of the year, Caius Lutorius Priscus, a Roman Knight, who had composed a celebrated Poem, bewailing the death of Germanicus, and received a reward from Tiberius, was attacked by an informer. His charge was, “That during an illness of Drusus, he had composed another, which, if the distemper proved mortal, he hoped to publish with a reward still greater.” This Poem Lutorius had, in the fulness of vanity and ostentation, rehearsed at the house of Publius Petronius, in the presence of Vitellia, mother-in-law to Petronius, and of other Ladies of quality, who were all summoned by the impleader, and all, except Vitellia, were terrified into a confession; she alone persisted that she had heard nothing. But Edition: current; Page: [222]the evidence tending to destroy him had most credit, and it was the sentence of Haterius Agrippa, Consul elect, that death should be his punishment.

This was opposed by M. Lepidus, who spoke on this wise. “Conscript fathers, if we only regard, with what abominable effusions Lutorius Priscus has defiled his own soul, and the ears of men, neither dungeon, nor rope, nor indeed the punishments peculiar to slaves, are sufficient for him. But though wickedness and enormities abound without measure, yet since in coercions and penalties, we must observe the limits set by the moderation of the Prince, set by precedents made by our ancestors and yourselves; and since we must distinguish the vanity of the head from the malignity of the heart, and words from evil doings; there is room left for a middle judgment, by which neither his offence need escape unpunished, nor we repent of our tenderness or severity. I have often heard our Prince complain, when any criminal had, by a desperate death, prevented his mercy. The life of Lutorius is still untouched; to save it, will no wise endanger the State, nor will the taking it away have any influence upon others. His studies, as they are full of wildness, are likewise empty and perishing; neither is aught important or terrible to be apprehended from one who thus betrays his own follies, and makes his court not to the minds of men, Edition: current; Page: [223]but the imaginations of women. Let him, however, be expelled Rome, interdicted from fire and water, and his estate be forfeited; which judgment of mine is the same as if he were charged with high treason.”

Of all the Consulars, only Rubellius Blandus assented to this opinion of Lepidus; the rest voted with Agrippa. Priscus was led to the dungcon, and instantly put to death. Tiberius, in a Letter to the Senate, discanted upon this proceeding, with his usual doubles and ambiguities, magnified “their tenderness and zeal in avenging thus with severity even such slight injuries done to the Prince;” entreated them, “not to be sudden in punishing for words;” he praised Lepidus, and censured not Agrippa. Hence an order was made, “that the decrees of Senate should not in less than ten days be carried to the Exchequer, and to the condemned so much time should be granted.” But to the Senate remained no liberty of revisal or annulling; nor was Tiberius ever softened by time.

Caius Sulpitius and Decimus Haterius were the following Consuls. Their year was exempt from disturbances abroad, but at home some severe blow was apprehended against luxury, which prevailed monstrously in all things that create a profusion of money. But as the more pernicious articles of expence were covered by concealing their prices, therefore from the excesses of the table, which were Edition: current; Page: [224]become the common subject of daily animadversion, apprehensions were raised of some rigid correction from a Prince who observed himself the ancient parcimony. For, Caius Bibulus having begun the complaint, the other Ædiles took it up, and argued, “That the sumptuary Laws were despised, the pomp and expence of plate and entertainments, in spite of restraints, increased daily, and by moderate penalties were not to be stopped.” This grievance thus represented to the Senate, was by them referred intire to the Emperor. Tiberius having long weighed with himself whether such an abandoned propensity to prodigality could be stemmed, whether the stemming it would not bring heavier evils upon the public, how dishonourable it would be to attempt what could not be effected, or at least effected by the disgrace of the nobility, and by the subjecting illustrious men to infamous punishments, wrote at last to the Senate in this manner:

In other matters, Conscript Fathers, perhaps it might be more expedient for you to consult me in the Senate, and for me to declare there what I judge for the public weal; but in the debate of this affair, it was best that my eyes were withdrawn, lest, while you marked the countenances and terror of particulars charged with scandalous luxury, I too should have observed them, and, as it were, caught them in it. Had the vigilant Ædiles first asked counsel of me, I know Edition: current; Page: [225]not whether I should not have advised them rather to have passed by potent and inveterate corruptions, than only make it manifest, what enormities are an over-match for us. But they, in truth, have done their duty, as I would have all other Magistrates fulfil theirs. But, for myself, it is neither commendable to be silent, nor does it belong to my station to speak out; since I neither bear the character of an Ædile, nor of a Prætor, nor of a Consul. Something still greater and higher is required of a Prince. Every one is ready to assume to himself the credit of whatever is well done, while upon the Prince alone are thrown the miscarriages of all. But what is it that I am first to prohibit, what excess retrench to the ancient standard? Am I to begin with that of our country seats, spacious without bounds; and with the number of domestics, a number distributed into nations in private families? or with the quantity of plate, silver, and gold? or with pictures, and the works, and statues of brass, the wonders of art? or with the gorgeous vestments, promiscuously worn by men and women? or with what is peculiar to the women, those precious stones, for the purchase of which our coin is carried into foreign and hostile nations? I am not ignorant that at entertainments and in conversation, these excesses are censured, and a regulation is required. Yet if an equal Law were made, if equal penalties were prescribed, Edition: current; Page: [226]these very censurers would loudly complain, That the State was utterly overturned, that snares and destruction were prepared for every illustrious house, that no man could be guiltless, and all men would be the prey of informers. And yet bodily diseases grown inveterate and strengthened by time, cannot be checked but by medicines rigid and violent; it is the same with the soul, the sick and raging soul, itself corrupted and scattering its corruption, is not to be qualified but by remedies equally strong with its own flaming lusts. So many Laws made by our ancestors, so many added by the deified Augustus, the former being lost in oblivion, and (which is more heinous) the latter in contempt, have only served to render luxury more secure. When we covet a thing yet unforbidden, we are apt to fear that it may be forbidden; but when once we can with impunity and defiance over-leap prohibited bounds, there remain afterwards nor fear nor shame. How therefore did Parcimony prevail of old? It was because every one was a Law to himself, it was because we were then only masters of one City; nor afterwards, while our dominion was confined only to Italy, had we found the same instigations to voluptuousness. By foreign Conquests we learned to waste the property of others, and in the Civil Wars to consume our own. What a mighty matter is it that the Ædiles remonstrate! Edition: current; Page: [227]how little to be weighed in the balance with others? It is wonderful that no body represents, That Italy is in constant want of foreign supplies, that the lives of the Roman people are daily at the mercy of uncertain seas and of tempests: were it not for our supports from the provinces, supports, by which the masters, and their slaves, and their estates, are maintained, would our own Groves and Villas maintain us? This care therefore, Conscript Fathers, is the business of the Prince, and by the neglect of this care, the foundations of the state would be dissolved. The cure of other defects depends upon our own private spirits; some of us shame will reclaim, necessity will mend the poor, satiety the rich. Or if any of the Magistrates, from a confidence of his own firmness and perseverance, will undertake to stemm the progress of so great an evil, he has both my praises, and my acknowledgement that he discharges me of part of my fatigues. But if such will only impeach corruptions, and when they have gained the glory, would leave upon me the indignation, (indignation of their own raising;) believe me, Conscript Fathers, I am not fond of bearing resentments. I already suffer many for the Commonwealth, many that are grievous, and almost all unjust; and therefore, with reason, I intreat that I may not be loaded with such as are wantonly and Edition: current; Page: [228]vainly raised, and promise no advantage to you nor to me.”

The Senate, upon reading the Emperor’s Letter, released the Ædiles from this pursuit; and the luxury of the table which, from the battle of Actium till the revolution made by Galba, flowed, for the space of an hundred years, in all profusion, at last gradually declined. The causes of this change are worth knowing. Formerly the great families, signal for nobility or for riches, were carried away with a passion for magnificence; for in those days it was allowed to court the good graces of the Roman people, with the favour of Kings, and confederate Nations, and to be courted by them; so that each was distinguished by the lustre of popularity and dependences, in proportion to his affluence, the splendour of his house, and the figure which he made. But after Imperial fury had for some time raged in the slaughter of the Grandees, and great reputation brought sure destruction, the rest grew wiser. Besides, new men frequently chosen Senators from the Municipal towns, from the Colonies, and even from the Provinces, brought with them their own domestic parcimony; and though, by fortune or industry, many of them grew wealthy as they grew old, yet their former frugal spirit continued. But above all, Vespasian proved the promoter of moderation and frugality, being himself the pattern of ancient Oeconomy in Edition: current; Page: [229]his person and table; hence the compliance of the public with the manners of the Prince, and an emulation to practise them, an incitement more prevalent than the terrors of Laws and all their penalties. Or, perhaps, all human things go a certain round, and, as there are revolutions of time, there are also vicissitudes in manners. Nor, indeed, have our ancestors excelled us in all things; our own age has produced many excellencies worthy of praise and the imitation of posterity. Let us still preserve this strife in virtue with our forefathers.

Tiberius having gained the fame of moderation, because, by rejecting the project for reforming luxury, he had disarmed the growing hopes of the accusers, wrote to the Senate, to desire the Tribunitial Power for Drusus. Augustus had devised this title as best suiting the supreme power, while avoiding the odious name of King or Dictator, he yet wanted some particular appellation, under it to controul all other powers in the State. He afterwards assumed Marcus Agrippa into a fellowship in it, and, upon his death, Tiberius, that none might doubt who was to be his successor. By this means, he conceived, he should defeat the aspiring views of others; besides, he confided in the moderation of Tiberius, and in the mightiness of his own authority. By his example, Tiberius now advanced Drusus to a participation of the supreme Magistracy, whereas, while Germanicus Edition: current; Page: [230]yet lived, he acted without distinction towards both. In the beginning of his Letter, he besought the Gods, “That by his counsels the Republic might prosper,” then added a modest testimony concerning the qualities and behaviour of the young Prince, without aggravation or false embellishments, “That he had a wife and three children, and was of the same age with himself when called by the deified Augustus to that office; that Drusus was not now by him adopted a partner in the toils of Government, precipitately, but after eight years experience made of his qualifications, after seditions suppressed, wars concluded, the honour of Triumph, and two Consulships.”

The Senators had foreseen this address; hence they received it with the more elaborate adulation. However, they could devise nothing to decree, but “Statues to the two Princes, altars to the Gods, triumphal arches,” and other usual honours, only that Marcus Silanus strove to honour the Princes by the disgrace of the Consulship; he proposed “That all records, public and private, should, for their date, be inscribed no more with the names of the Consuls, but of those who excrcised the Tribunitial power.” But Haterius Agrippa, by moving to have “the Decrees of that day engraved in Letters of gold, and hung up in the Senate,” became an object of derision, for that, as he was an ancient man, he could reap from his most Edition: current; Page: [231]abominable flattery no other fruit but that of infamy.

In the mean time, as the Province of Africa was continued to Junius Blæsus, Servius Maluginensis Priest of Jupiter, demanded that of Asia. He insisted, “That it was vainly alledged, that such Priests were not allowed to leave Italy; that he was under no other restriction than those of Mars and Romulus; and if they were admitted to the lots of Provinces, why were those of Jupiter debarred? The same was neither adjudged by the authority of the people, nor in the books which ascertained the sacred rites. Frequently, when the Priests of Jupiter were detained by sickness, or engaged in the public, their function was supplied by the Pontifs. The function itself lay unfilled for two and seventy years together, after the death of Cornelius Merula, and yet the exercise of Religion never ceased. Now if in such a series of years, Religion could subsist unhurt without the creation of any such Priest at all, how much easier might his absence be borne in the exercise of the Proconsular power, for one year? It was to satiate private piques, if formerly the Priests of Jupiter were by the chief Pontifs debarred from the Government of Provinces. But now, by the goodness of the Gods, the chief Pontif was also the chief of men, a Pontif to whom emulation, hatred, and other personal prepossessions, had no access.”

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To these his reasonings several answers were made by Lentulus the Augur, and others, but all disagreeing, so that the result was “to wait for the decision of the supreme Pontif.” Tiberius in his answer to the Senate, postponing his notice of the pretensions of the Priest of Jupiter, qualified the honours decreed to Drusus with the Tribunitial power, and especially censured the “extravagance of the proposition for golden letters, as contrary to the example and usage of Rome.” Letters from Drusus were likewise read, and, though modest in expression, were construed to be full of haughtiness; “Were all things in the Roman state so miserably reversed, that even a youth, one just distinguished with such supreme honour, deigned not to visit the Gods of Rome, nor appear in Senate, nor begin in his native City the auspices of his dignity? No war detained him; he had no journey to make from remote countries, while he was only diverting himself upon the lakes and shores of Campania, and pleasure his chief avocation. With such tuition was he prepared the future ruler of human kind! this the lesson he had learnt from the maxims of his father! In truth, the Emperor himself, an ancient man, might find uneasiness in living under the eye of the public, and plead a life already fatigued with age and occupations; but what besides pride and stateliness could obstruct Drusus?”

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Tiberius, while he fortified the vitals of his own domination, afforded the Senate a shadow of their ancient Jurisdiction, by referring to their examination petitions and claims from the Provinces. For there had now prevailed amongst the Greek Cities a latitude of instituting Sanctuaries at pleasure. Hence the Temples were filled with the most profligate fugitive slaves; here debtors found protection against their creditors, and hither were admitted such as were pursued for capital crimes. Nor was any authority found sufficient to bridle the seditious zeal of the people, thus defending the villainies of men, as if the same were the sacred institutions of the Deities. It was therefore ordered, that these cities should send deputies to represent their claims. Some voluntarily relinquished the privileges which they had arbitrarily assumed; many confided in their right, from the antiquity of their superstitions, or their services to the Roman people. Glorious to the Senate was the appearance of that day, when the grants from our ancestors, the engagements of our confederates, the ordinances of Kings, such Kings who had reigned as yet independent of the Roman power, and when even the institutions, sacred to the Gods, were now all subjected to their inspection, and their judgment free, as of old, to ratify or abolish with absolute power.

First of all the Ephesians applied, and alledged, that “Diana and Apollo were not Edition: current; Page: [234]born at Delos, according to the opinion of the vulgar. In their territory flowed the river Cenchris, where also stood the Ortygian Grove; there the big-bellied Latona, leaning upon an Olive-tree, which even then remained, was delivered of these Deities, and thence, by their appointment, the Grove became sacred. Thither Apollo himself, after his slaughter of the Cyclops, retired for a sanctuary from the wrath of Jupiter. Soon after, the victorious Bacchus pardoned the suppliant Amazons, who sought refuge at the Altar of Diana. By the concession of Hercules, when he reigned in Lydia, her Temple was dignified with an augmentation of immunities, nor during the Persian Monarchy were they abridged; they were next maintained by the Macedonians, and then by us.”

The Magnesians next asserted their claim, founded on an establishment of Lucius Scipio, confirmed by another of Sylla; the former after the defeat of Antiochus, the latter after that of Mithridates, having, as a testimony of the faith and bravery of the Magnesians, dignified their Temple of the Leucophrynean Diana with the privileges of an inviolable Sanctuary. After them, the Aphrodisians and Stratoniceans produced a grant from Cæsar the Dictator, for their early services to his party, and another lately from Augustus, with a commendation inserted, “that with zeal unshaken towards the Roman people, they had Edition: current; Page: [235]borne the irruption of the Parthians.” But these two people adored different Deities; Aphrodisium was a city devoted to Venus, that of Stratonicea maintained the worship of Jupiter and of Diana Trivia. Those of Hierocæsarea exhibited claims of higher antiquity, “that they possessed the Persian Diana, and her Temple consecrated by King Cyrus.” They likewise pleaded the authorities of Perpenna, Isauricus, and of many more Roman Captains, who had allowed the same sacred immunity, not to the temple only, but to a precinct two miles round it. Those of Cyprus pleaded right of sanctuary to three of their Temples, the most ancient founded by Aerias to the Paphian Venus, another by his son Amathus to the Amathusian Venus, the third to the Salaminian Jupiter by Teucer, the son of Telamon, when he fled from the fury of his father.

The deputies too of other cities were heard. But the Senate, tired with so many, and because there was a contention begun amongst particular parties for particular cities, gave power to the Consuls, “to search into the validity of their several pretensions, and whether in them no fraud was interwoven, with orders to lay the whole matter once more before the Senate.” The Consuls reported, that, besides the cities already mentioned, “they had found the Temple of Æsculapius at Pergamos to be a genuine Sanctuary. The rest claimed upon originals, from the darkness Edition: current; Page: [236]of antiquity, altogether obscure. Smyrna particularly pleaded an oracle of Apollo, in obedience to which they had dedicated a Temple to Venus Stratonices; as did the Isle of Tenos an oracular order from the same God, to erect to Neptune a Statue and Temple. Sardis urged a later authority, namely, a grant from the Great Alexander; and Miletus insisted on one from King Darius: as to the Deities of these two cities, one worshiped Diana, the other, Apollo, and Crete too demanded the privilege of Sanctuary to a Statue of the deified Augustus.” Hence divers orders of Senate were made, by which, though great reverence was expressed towards the Deities, yet the extent of the Sanctuaries was limited, and the several people were injoined “to hang up in each Temple the present Decree, engraven in brass, as a sacred Memorial, and a restraint against their lapsing, under the colour of Religion, into claims of superstition and preeminence.”

At the same time, a vehement distemper having seized Livia, obliged the Emperor to hasten his return to Rome; seeing the mother and son lived hitherto in apparent unanimity, or perhaps mutually disguised their hate; for, not long before, Livia, having dedicated a Statue to the deified Augustus, near the Theatre of Marcellus, had the name of Tiberius inscribed after her own. This he was believed to have resented heinously, as a degrading Edition: current; Page: [237]the dignity of the Prince, but to have smothered his resentment under dark dissimulation. Upon this occasion therefore, the Senate decreed “supplications to the Gods, with the celebration of the greater Roman Games, under the direction of the Pontiss, the Augurs, the College of fifteen, assisted by the College of seven, and the fraternity of Augustal Priests.” Lucius Apronius had moved, that “with the rest might preside the company of Heralds.” Tiberius opposed it, and distinguished between the jurisdiction of the Priests and theirs, “for that at no time had the Heralds arrived to so much pre-eminence; but for the Augustal fraternity, they were therefore added, because they exercised a Priesthood peculiar to that family for which the present vows and solemnities were made.”

It is no part of my purpose to trace all the votes of particular men, unless they are memorable for integrity, or for notorious infamy. This I conceive to be the principal duty of an Historian, that he suppress no instance of virtue, and that by the dread of future infamy and the censures of posterity, men may be deterred from detestable actions and prostitute speeches. In short, such was the abomination of those times, so prevailing the contagion of flattery, that not only the first Nobles, whose obnoxious splendour found protection in obsequiousness, but all who had been Consuls, a great part of such as had been Prætors, and even many of Edition: current; Page: [238]the unregistered Senators, strove for priority in the vileness and excess of their votes. There is a tradition, that Tiberius, as often as he went out of the Senate, was wont to cry out in Greek, Oh men prepared for bondage! Even he who could not bear public liberty, nauseated this prostitute tameness of slaves.

Hence by degrees they proceeded from acts of abasement to those of vengeance. Caius Silanus, Proconsul of Asia, accused by these our Allies of robbing the public, was impleaded by Mamercus Scaurus once Consul, Junius Otho Prætor, and Brutidius Niger Ædile. They charged him with “violating the Divinity of Augustus, and with despising the Majesty of Tiberius.Mamercus boasted, that he imitated the great examples of old, “that Lucius Cotta was accused by Scipio, Servius Galba by Cato the Censor, Publius Rutilius by Marcus Scaurus.” As if such crimes as these had been ever avenged by Scipio and Cato, or by that very Scaurus, whom this Mamercus his great grandson, and the reproach of his progenitors, was now disgracing by the vile occupation of an informer! The old employment of Junius Otho, was that of a schoolmaster. Thence being by the power of Sejanus created a Senator, he laboured by notorious attempts to triumph over the baseness of his original. Brutidius abounded in worthy accomplishments, and, had he proceeded in the upright road, was in the ready Edition: current; Page: [239]way to every the most distinguished honour; but eagerness hurried him, while he pushed to surpass first his equals, afterwards his superiors, and at last his own very hopes; a course which has overwhelmed even many virtuous men, who, scorning acquirements that came slow, but attended with security, grasped at such as were sudden, though linked to destruction.

Gellius Poplicola, and Marcus Paconius, increased the number of the accusers, the former Quæstor to Silanus, the other his Lieutenant. Neither was it doubted but the accused was guilty of cruelty and extortion. But he was beset with a series of hardships, dangerous even to the innocent, when, besides so many Senators, his foes, he was to reply single to the most eloquent pleaders of all Asia, chosen purposely to accuse him, ignorant himself of pleading, and beset with capital terrors, a circumstance which disables the most practised Eloquence. Neither did Tiberius spare him, but, with an angry voice and countenance, daunted and interrupted him with incessant questions; nor was he allowed to refute or evade them, nay, was often forced to confess, lest the Emperor should have asked in vain. The slaves too of Silanus, in order to be examined by torture, were delivered in sale to the City-steward; and that none of his relations might engage to assist him, when his life was thus at stake, crimes of treason were subjoined, a sure bar to all help, and a seal upon their lips. Having therefore requested an interval Edition: current; Page: [240]of a few days, he dropped all defence, and tried the Emperor by a Memorial, in which he menaced him with the public odium, and blended expostulations with prayers.

Tiberius, the better to palliate by precedent his purposes against Silanus, caused to be recited a Representation from Augustus, concerning Volesus Messala, Proconsul of the same province, and the Decree of Senate made against him. He then asked Lucius Piso his opinion. Piso, after a long preface of the Emperor’s clemency, proposed “to interdict Silanus from fire and water, and to banish him into the island Gyarus.” The rest voted the same thing, only that Cneius Lentulus moved, “that the estate descending from his mother Cornelia, should be distinguished from his own, and restored to his son.” Tiberius assented. But, Cornelius Dolabella, pursuing his old strain of adulation, and having first exposed the morals of Silanus, added, “that no man of profligate manners, and marked with infamy, should be admitted to the lot of Provinces; and of this their character the Prince was to judge. Transgressions, he said, were punished by the Laws; but how much more merciful would it be to prevent transgressors! more merciful to the men themselves, more to the Provinces.”

Against this Tiberius reasoned, “that in truth he was not ignorant of the prevailing rumours concerning the conduct of Silanus; Edition: current; Page: [241]but establishments must not be built upon rumours. In the administration of Provinces, many had disappointed our hopes, and many our fears. Some were, by the great weight of affairs, roused into vigilance and amendment, others degenerated and sunk under them. The Prince could not within his own view comprize all things, nor was it at all expedient for him to make himself answerable for the characters of other men engaged in pursuits of ambition. Laws were therefore appointed against facts committed, because all things future are hid in uncertainty. Such were the institutions of our ancestors, that if crimes preceded, punishments were to follow. Nor should they change establishments wisely contrived and always approved. The Prince had already sufficiency of burdens, and even sufficiency of power; the authority of the Laws decreased when that of the Prince advanced, nor was Sovereignty to be exercised where the Laws would serve.” A popular speech, and the more joyfully heard, as acts of popularity were rare with Tiberius. To it he added, prudent as he was in mitigating excesses, where his own proper resentments did not controul him, “that Gyarus was an unhospitable island, and devoid of human culture; that, in favour to the Junian family, and to a Patrician lately of their own order, they should allow him for his place of exile the isle of Cythera; that this too was the request of Edition: current; Page: [242]Torquata, the sister of Silanus, a Vestal virgin of primitive sanctity.” This motion prevailed.

The Cyrenians were afterwards heard, and Cesius Cordus, charged by them, and impleaded by Ancharius Priscus, for plundering the Province, was condemned. Lucius Ennius, a Roman Knight, was impeached of Treason, “for that he had converted an effigies of the Prince into common uses of silver;” but Tiberius withstood admitting him as a criminal. Against this acquittal Ateius Capito openly declared his protest from an affected spirit of liberty; “for that the Emperor ought not to snatch from the fathers the power of penalties, nor ought such a mighty iniquity to pass unpunished; he, indeed, might be passive under his own grievances; but let him not give up the indignation of the Senate, and the injuries done the Commonwealth.” Tiberius considered rather the drift of these words than the expression, and persisted in his interposition. The infamy of Capito was the more signal, because, learned as he was in Laws human and divine, he thus debased the dignity of the State, and his own personal accomplishments.

The next was a religious debate, in what Temple to place the gift vowed by the Roman Knights to Fortune stiled the Equestrian, for the recovery of Livia; for, though in the city were many Temples to this Goddess, yet none had that title. At last it was discovered Edition: current; Page: [243]that at Antium was one thus named; and as all the religious Institutions in the cities of Italy, all the Temples and Statues of the Deities, were included in the jurisdiction and sovereignty of Rome, the gift was ordered to be presented there. While matters of Religion were on foot, the answer lately deferred, concerning Servius Maluginensis, Priest of Jupiter, was now produced by Tiberius, who recited a Statute of the Pontifs, “that when the Priest of Jupiter was taken ill, he might, with the consent of the chief Pontif, be absent two nights, except on days of public sacrifice, and never more than twice in the same year.” This regulation, made under Augustus, sufficiently shewed, that a year’s absence, and the administration of Provinces, were not allowed to the Priests of Jupiter. He likewise quoted the example of Lucius Metellus, Chief Pontif, who restrained to Rome Aulus Postumius, who was under that character. So the lot of Asia was conferred on that Consular who was next in seniority to Maluginensis.

During this time, Lepidus asked leave of the Senate, to strengthen and beautify at his expence the Basilic of Paulus, a peculiar Monument of the Æmilian family. For even then it was usual with private men to be magnificent in public structures. Nor had Augustus blamed Taurus, Philippus, or Balbus, for applying their overflowing wealth, or the spoils of the enemy, towards the decoration of the Edition: current; Page: [244]City, and the perpetuation of their own fame. By their example Lepidus, though but moderately rich, revived the venerable glory of his Ancestors. But, as the Theatre of Pompey was consumed by accidental fire, Tiberius undertook to rebuild it, because none of the family were equal to the charge, and promised that it should, however, be still called by the name of Pompey. At the same time, he celebrated the praises of Sejanus, and to his vigilance and efforts ascribed it, that a flame so violent was stopped at one building only. Hence the Fathers decreed a Statue to Sejanus, to be placed upon the Theatre of Pompey. Nor was it long after that the Emperor, when he dignified Junius Blesus with the ensigns of Triumph, declared, “that in honour to Sejanus he did it,” for, to Sejanus, Blesus was uncle.

And yet the actions of Blesus were entitled to so much distinction. For, Tacfarinas, though often repulsed, yet still repairing his forces in the heart of Africa, had arrived to such a pitch of arrogance, that he sent Embassadors to Tiberius, with demands “for a settlement to himself, and his army,” otherwise he threatened “everlasting war.” They say that upon no occasion did ever Tiberius, for any insult offered himself, and the Roman name, manifest a more sensible indignation; “that a deserter and a robber should presume to offer terms, like an equal foe; when even to Spartacus no concession was made of Edition: current; Page: [245]being received and treated under the sanction of the public faith, while, after the slaughter of so many Consular armies, he still carried, with impunity, fire and desolation through Italy; though the Commonwealth was then gasping under two mighty wars, with Sertorius and Mithridates. Much less was Tacfarinas, a free-booter, to be bought off by terms of peace, and concession of lands, whilst the Roman people enjoyed the highest pitch of glory and power.” Hence he commissioned Blesus, “to engage by the hopes of indemnity all his followers, to lay down their arms; but to get into his hands the leader himself, by whatever means.”

So that by this pardon many were brought over, and the war was forthwith prosecuted against him by stratagems, not unlike his own. For as he, who in strength of men was unequal, but in arts of stealth and pillaging superior, made his incursions in separate bands, and thence could at once elude any attack of ours, and harass us by ambushes of his; so on our side, three distinct routes were resolved, and three several bodies formed. Scipio, the Proconsul’s Lieutenant, commanded on that quarter whence Tacfarinas made his depredations upon the Leptitanians, and then his retreat amongst the Garamantes. In another quarter Blesus the son led a band of his own, to protect the territory of the Cirtensians from ravages; between both marched the Proconsul himself, with the flower of the army, erecting Edition: current; Page: [246]forts, and casting up entrenchments in convenient places. By these dispositions he sorely cramped the foe, and rendered all their movements dangerous; for, which ever way they turned, still some party of the Roman forces was upon them, in front, in flank, and often at their heels; and by this means many were slain, or made prisoners. This triple army was again split by Blesus into bands still smaller, and over each a Centurion of tried bravery placed. Neither did he, as usual at the end of the season, draw off his forces from the field, or dispose them into winter-quarters in the old Province; but, as in the first heat of war, having raised more forts, he dispatched light parties, acquainted with the wilderness, who drove Tacfarinas before them, continually shifting his huts; till, having taken his brother, he retreated, too suddenly however for the good of the province, as there were still left behind instruments to rekindle the war. But Tiberius took it for concluded, and likewise granted to Blesus that he should be by the Legions saluted Imperator, an ancient honour, usually done to the old Roman Captains, who, upon their successful exploits for their country, were in the shouts and vehemence of victory, thus complimented by their armies; and there have been at once several Imperators, without any pre-eminence of one over the rest. It was a title vouchsafed to some, even by Augustus, and now, for the last time, by Tiberius to Blesus.

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This year died two illustrious Romans, Asinius Saloninus, splendid in his relations and descent; as Marcus Agrippa and Asinius Pollio were his grandfathers, Drusus his half brother, and himself betrothed to the Emperor’s grand-daughter; and Ateius Capito, already mentioned, in civil acquirements the principal man in Rome; as to descent, his grand-father was only a Centurion under Sylla, but his father arrived to the Prætorship. Augustus had pushed him early into the Consulship, that, by the grandeur of that office, he might be set above Antistius Labeo, who excelled in equal accomplishments; for that age produced together these two ornaments of peace. But Labeo preserved unstained a spirit of liberty, and thence was more the object of popular renown; while Capito gained by obsequiousness greater credit with those who bore rule. The former, as he was never suffered to rise beyond the Prætorship, met with matter of praise from a source of injury; to the other, with the glory of the Consulate, accrued likewise the envy, and with envy hatred.

Junia too, now sixty-four years after the battle of Philippi, finished her course; the niece of Cato, sister of Brutus, and wife of Cassius. Her Will made much noise amongst the populace; for that being immensely rich, and having honourably distinguished with legacies almost all the great men of Rome, she omitted Tiberius; an omission which he Edition: current; Page: [248]took civilly, nor hindered her Panegyric from being pronounced in public, nor her Funeral from being celebrated with other customary solemnities. Before it were borne the Images of twenty the most noble families, the Manlii, the Quinctii, and other names of equal lustre; but superior to all shone Cassius and Brutus, on this very account, that their Images were not with the rest seen now.

END of Vol. I.
a

Vinolentiam & libidines usurpans, c. 16.

b

Frustra Arminium præscribi, c. 16.

c

Auctum pecunia, c. 16

d

Jam longius clarescere, c. 16.

e

Unam omnino anguem visam.

f

Atrociorem quam novo regno conduceret, c. 9.

g

Obstrepentibus his, c. 6.

h

Unde tenuis fructus, c. 20.

i

Non eo ventum, c. 26.

k

Insontibus innoxia consilia, ib.

l

Flagitiis manifestis, subsidium ab audacia petendum, ib.

m

Adesse conscios, ib.

n

Claudium, ut insidiis incautum, ita iræ properum, ib.

o

Nomen matrimonii cupivit, ob magnitudinem insamiæ, cujus apud prodigos novissima voluptas est, ib.

p

Codicillos libidinum indices, c. 34.

q

Quicquid habitum Neronibus & Drusis in precium probri cessisse, c. 35.

r

Cæterum infracta paulatim potentia matris, delapso Nerone in amorem libertæ, cui vocabulum Acte fuit: simul adsumptis in conscientiam Othone & Claudio Senecione adolescentulis decoris, quorum Otho familia Consulari, Senecio liberto Cæsaris patre genitus, ignara matre, dein frustra obnitente, penitus inrepserant per luxum & ambigua secreta. Ne severioribus quidem Principis amicis adversantibus, muliercula, nulla cujusquam injuriâ, cupidines principis explente: quando uxore ab Octavia, nobili quidem & probitatis spectatæ, fato quodam, an quia prævalent inlicita, abhorrebat: metuebaturque, ne in stupra feminarum inlustrium prorumperet, si illa libidine prohiberetur. Sed Agrippina libertam æmulam, &c. An. 13. C. 12. & 13.

s

Inter quæ refertur ad patres, de pœna feminarum, quæ servis conjungerentur. Statuiturque, ut ignaro domino ad id prolapsa, in servitutem, sin consensisset, pro liberto haberetur. Pallanti, quem repertorem ejus relationis ediderat Cæsar, prætoria insignia, & centies quinquagesies sestercium censuit consul designatus Barea Soranus: additum à Scipione Cornelio, grates publice agendas, quod regibus Arcadiæ ortus, veterrimam nobilitatem usui publico postponeret, seque inter ministros Principis haberi sineret. Asseveravit Claudius, contentum honore Pallantem, intra priorem paupertatem subsistere. Et fixum est ære publico Senatus Consultum, &c. An. 12. C. 53.

t

The old Translation has it, At Rome he cosetted men of their legacies such as died without children, as if he had laid a snare to entrap them. This is foolish, but wiser than the other.

a

Accitis quæ usquam egregia.

b

Nihil non ausurum eum in summo magistratu.

c

Ne Catone quidem abnuente eam largitionem e Rep. fieri.

d

Nihil esse Rempublicam; appellationem modo sine corpore ac specie.

e

Nullos non honores ad libidinem cœpit & dedit, spreto Patriæ more.

f

Debere homines pro Legibus habere quæ dicat.

g

Eum jus fasque esset occidi, neve ea cædes capitalis noxæ haberetur.

h

Retinuit famam sine experimento.

i

Nemo enim unquam imperium flagitio quæsitum bonis artibus exercuit.

k

Nihil abnuentem, dum dominationis adipisceretur.

l

Cunctis affectibus flagrantiorem dominandi libidinem.

m

See Cato’s Letters, Vol. II.

n

Epist. ad nepot.

o

Abusus dominatione & jure cæsus existimaretur. (Sueton.)

a

Libertate improspere repetita.

b

In splendidissimum quemque captivorum non sine verborum contumelio sæviit.

c

Moriendum esse.

d

Cuncta discordiis civilibus fessa, sub imperium accepit.

e

Juniores post Actiacam victoriam, etiam senes plerique inter bella civium nati.

f

Quotusquisque reliquus qui Rempublicam vidisset?

g

Eadem magistratuum vocabula: sua consulibus, sua prætoribus species.

h

Vernacula multitudo, nuper acto in urbe delectu, lasciviæ sueta, laborum intolerans, implere ceterorum rudes animos; venisse tempus, &c. An. 1. C. 31.

k

Ubi militem donis, populum annona, cunctos dulcedine pacis pellexit, insurgere paulatim, munia Senatus, Magistratuum, Legum, in se trahere.

l

Bruto & Cassio cæsis, nulla jam publica arma.

m

Patres & plebem, invalida & inermia.

n

Quanto quis servitio promptior, opibus & honoribus extollerentur.

o

— Nihil est quod credere de se

Non possit cum laudatur Diis æqua potestas.

p

Semper magnæ fortunæ comes adest adulatio.

q

Gliscente adulatione deterrerentur.

r

Comparatione deterrima sibi gloriam quæsivisse.

s

Provisis etiam hæredum in Rempublicam opibus.

t

Ne successor in incerto soret.

u

Subsidia dominationis.

w

Quippe illi non perinde curæ gratia presentium, quam in posteros ambitio.

x

Verso civitatis statu, nihil usquam prisci & integri moris.

y

Omnis exuta æqualitate jussa principis aspectare.

a

Nunquam satis fida potentia, ubi nimia.

b

Non dominationem & servos, sed rectorem & cives cogitaret.

c

Vid. Phil. De Comines and Mezeray.

d

Omnia sibi in homines licere.

e

Pro me; si merear, in me.

f

Optime quidem; ea demum tuta est potentia, quæ viribus suis modum imponit. Theopompus i itur legitimis regnum vinculis constringendo, quo longius a licentia retraxit, hoc propius ad benevolentiam civium admovit. Val. Max L. 4. C. 1.

g

Nobis Romulus ad libitum imperitaverat.

h

Multi odio præsentium, & cupidine mutationis, suis quisque periculis lætabantur.

i

Quia pauci prudentia, honesta ab deterioribus, utilia ab noxiis discernunt; plures aliorum eventis docentur.

k

Instrumenta servitutis & reges habuere.

l

Solitudinem faciunt, pacem vocant.

m

Irritatus suppliciis.

n

Nihil æque Tiberium anxium habebat, quam ne composita turbarentur.

o

Magno dedecore Imperii, nec minore discrimine.

p

Solusque omnium ante se Principum in melius mutatus est.

q

See Herodian in Marc. Antonin.

r

Spretam voluntatem Principis, descivisse populum: quid reliquum nisi ut caperent ferium?

s

Quidam, postquam regum pertæsum, leges maluerunt.

t

Ut Respublica stare possit.

a

Legem Majestatis reduxerat (Tiberius); cui nomen apud veteres idem, sed alia in judicium veniebant: si quis proditione exercitum, aut plebem seditionibus, denique male gesta Repub. Majestatem populi Romani minuisset. Facta arguebantur, dicta impune erant. Primus Augustus cognitionem de famosis libellis, specie legis ejus tractavit.

b

Tum Claudius inter ludibria aulæ erat.

c

Manebant etiam tum vestigia morientis libertatis.

d

Nihil majus in natura sua laudare se ac probare quam ἀδιατρεψιαι.

e

Cuncta quæstione majestatis exercita.

f

Fœminæ ob lacrymas incusabantur; necataque est Vitia Fusii Gemini mater, quod filii necem flevisset.

a

Quem diem vacuum pœna ubi inter sacra & vota, vincla & laqueus inducantur.

b

Proprium id Tiberio fuit, scelera nuper reperta priscis verbis obtegere.

c

Nobilitas, opes, omissi gestique honores, pro crimine; & ob virtutes certissimum exitium.

d

Agerent, verterent cuncta, odio & terrore.

e

Corrupti in dominos servi, in patronos liberti, & quibus deerat inimicus, per amicos oppressi.