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France, under the false title of Liberty and Equality, as an object to excite the emulation of rational creatures, is a manifestation of human effrontery unexampled before, and hardly to be credited even by those who witness it. Could all the injustice, cruelty, and oppression of French despotism, since the reign of that obdurate bigot, Louis XI. with his hangman, Tristan, be collected together, and put into one scale of iniquity; and the atrocities of a single day in France, since the rabble have been rulers, thrown into the other, they would preponderate against it. It is, in short, a species of government which is always exerted to do wrong, and which can be operative only for mischief.
Men may as well go out of the world as they came into it, without observation or memory, as when the same effects are constantly produced by the same causes, to discern the last, and not to prevent the former.
The necessity the Romans were under of creating a dictator, or a magistrate without control, on every great exigency of affairs, either domestick or foreign, shews their consciousness of the defect in a divided executive: they detested the name of King, but they could not exist without his functions. It is computed that there are now in the city of Paris above ten thousand dictators, without parts, property, principles, or experience; and by these the publick business is conducted. Events are in the hands of God, and the sagacity of mortals is always fallible; but if ever the grounds were laid which threatened the duration of calamity in any state, when it was easy to foresee and not presumptuous to prophecy, the actual condition of ill-fated France seems to invite the most melancholy predictions.
NOTE [F.] p. 229.
Upon a general revision of the Roman history to the time of Augustus, it will be found to contain a series of obstinate and bloody wars, either foreign or civil, with a few short intervals of peace, and these constantly M m 2
disturbed by seditions, feuds, and tumults; insomuch that the common expedient for securing the publick tranquillity was, to direct the fierce passions of the people against some unfortunate country, the conquest and plunder of which might for a time at least appease their restless ambition and insatiable avarice.
The internal commotions which commonly originated at Rome in some pretence for the people's advantage, though they produced nominal extension of their privileges, seldom ended in any material improvement of their condition; nor had the revolutions in the state much other effect than to aggrandize the leaders, and give additional authority to the few.
By the abolition of Royalty they gained nothing; a power over their lives beyond what had ever been claimed by Kings, undefined and without limitation, passed into the hands of dictators, consuls, and other magistrates, who exercised it always with rigour, and often wantonly. That short but frequent formula—NE QUID RESPUBLICA DETREMENTI CAPERET, delivered over at once the lives and liberties of the citizens to the magistrate's disposal.
Whoever will take the trouble to examine the Roman annals from the first institution of the consulship to the entire subversion of the republick, will perhaps be surprised to find how frequently during that period the government was under different dictators, that is, under the dominion of a single chief magistrate, invested by the law, the constitution, and usage, with uncontroulable authority, and after the expiration of his despotick office, not accountable to the people, or to any tribunal, for the manner in which he had exercised it. Who had the nomination of this arbitrary magistrate ? Not the people, but another magistrate. The obje&t always was to keep down the people. In the second Punick war, Livy says, they named Q. Fabius Maximus prodictator, the consul being absent; but he takes care to have it known, that it was the single instance,-quod nunquam ante eum diem fa£tum erat; nor
probably would this innovation have been thought of or permitted, but at such a calamitous season as the invasion of Hannibal.
There were, I think, about fixteen dictators at different times in less than two centuries ; so that the Roman republick was sixteen times suspended, and under a domination not less arbitrary than that of Louis the Fourteenth over France, or of the emperor of Morocco over his barbarians. Had we no other information more direct upon the subject to evince the aristocracy of the Roman government, its policy profound and invariable as it was unjust and oppressive, especially with respect to foreign states, sufficiently demonstrates, that such a system could not have been devised and prosecuted by the multitude ; but that it was the work of enlightened statesmen, who discerned its effects by their experience, and transmitted it to their successors in a clear collection of principles and maxims, which could never be departed from without hazarding the whole by any partial relaxation. Af the intervals when the people presumed to take the reins into their own hands, the machine ră either stood still or went backwards; and when the chiefs of the senate resumed their functions, their vigour and wisdom were doubly exerced
. to restore it again to its original capacity of progression.
The TRIBUNE, that great popular officer who hung like a dead weight : upon the neck of the law, was chiefly formidable by factious opposition to the Senate. When he put forth his power to do mischief, democracy, that is, confusion, was triumphant; but many tribunes being intelligent and temperate, their wisdom was shewn in acquiescence; not in thwarting the measures of their country's most respectable assembly. Besides, it must be remembered, that these disturbers had no jurisdiction beyond the walls of the city, and as the dissent of one of them rendered the proceedings of the rest a nullity, it was no very difficult matter for the senate to secure that one in their interest, so to re-act upon them all, and to impede the impeders. The first measure of these demagogues was to instigate the many-headed monster to banish Rome's bravest com
mander, SY 70
mander, the patrician Coriolanus : which drove him to take 'refuge with
Tully the warmest and most eloquent advocate for the senatorial
them, by the management of him in whom they confided as their orator iris always in the same
and representative. In mohon mener degree executive poroer is diffewed
Spurius Cassius Viscellinus, the first propounder of an Agrarian law, huictul, and even which he expiated from the Tarpeian rock, Spurius Mælius, who fell by delibere.cive too widabythe sword of Ahala, Manlius, (another Cassius in his ambition, and his Extended rond induce
Catastrophe,) the Gracchi, Marius, Clodius, Cæsar, all were tyrants, or Enconveniencies
not only ridiculous, bur attempted to be so, not by undue influence in the senate, but by cor
rupting and inflaming the most numerous, the most despicable, and most intolerable.
dangerous part of the community. No man can love the rabble for
indeed value them as the engineer does gunpowder,
The simplicity of names imposed much upon the generality of Ro-
To the king of Great Britain, as the palladium of British liberty, the law has taken care to give every decoration which epithets can add for his personal inviolability and magisterial honour; yet titles which fow from him (those annexed to professional peerages excepted) are sometimes veils for insignificance, mere gilded pent-houses for inefficient vanity. When they are ancient and hereditary, unless disgraced by the possessors, we pay to them an involuntary respect, because they are always accompanied with some idea of superiority. A person of mean endowments, ennobled even in the most modern times, is commonly possessed at least of considerable property; and the world seems to acknowledge, that wealth gives one sufficient claim to importance. But this man of importance, with his title and his riches, can infringe no law of England with impunity, while the ancient Roman republican, like the modern French anarchist without either, we see violating all the natural and municipal rights of his fellow.citizens with the most undisguised effrontery.
There is no subject upon which more erroneous notions have been formed, or more ill-considered dissertations published, than the Roman Constitution while under the name of a republick ; but especial care must be taken not to confound two terms, Populus Romanus, and Plebes, as if they were of the same import. The former comprises the senators, patricians, knights, and ģentry; the latter means, the idle, the indigent, and worthless ; or what we understand by the monosyllabical denomition, MOB.
The real government was in the senate, or rather in a few chiefs of the senate. Whoever was observed to court the favour of the populace, and to neglect the conscript fathers, was immediately suspected of harbouring designs subversive of the constitution. The criterion was infallible. It instantly produced unanimity in the senate; they knew that the faces populi Romani could be cajoled or stimulated only to create confusion, and to make the demagogue their tyrant.
With respect to the interference of the lowest order in the business of legislation, the sentiments of Cato, (that self-devoted martyr to Roman