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liberty,) though he was sometimes reluctantly compelled to submit to it,
I would not be understood to assert, that the people at Rome had not
Were I to fix upon the period of Roman history in which the lowest class had legitimately the most power, I should not hesitate to pronounce (however singular it may appear) that it was for not much less than one hundred and forty years, from the time of Romulus to the collecting the suffrages by centuries under the sixth king Servius Tullius. The young Horatius condemned to death by the Duumviri for killing his
sister, auctore Tullo (REGE) was absolved in consequence of an appeal to *Ex..les must bevays have more sveight widhi wvise men than speculationthe to the good order maintained i Rome under no less thz six king, long period zlyo.n the Republick eve; enjoyed internal compostue, Till ele villation of Le sieti.
she son of the second Toiduin she Public chanquility o...o not disturbed by any
ways become for the Romansiohented to be ttle by their Sovereiga. Ronulus hokerow in pieces by the Fathers in che Senate house,was sopoquilas, that one of the Regicides ed appe.be thig People who grew cliuyorous pour not seeing their king,
s obliged rojusetend, eh she had been surtches pinto Heaven and was ever rifier to be worshiped' s.s the jod quisiereis by his own'appointment,
the people. The king declined trying the cause, and referred it to two judges, to avoid the censure of too much severity on one side, and the inconvenience of unpopularity on the other; and so suggested an appeal from the judicial sentence : which shews the consideration in which the people were then held. Servius, the sixth king, certainly thought they were likely to prevail too much, and depressed them by changing the mode of collecting the suffrages. As to acts of violence by hired mobs, composed at Rome as every where else of the dregs of mankind, it only proves, that they were not the government. Not only the chief power of the state, but all real freedom of action seemed to reside in the Senate, and in the persons of a few magistrates during their continuance in office. Did the statute-books or the common law of Great Britain secure liberty only to members of parliament, to the board of treasury, the lord mayor, and a few other magistrates, what reasonable man would affirm that reform was, at present, a speculation idle, unnecessary, or factious ?
The consuls were ANNUAL KINGS, invested under another name with more authority than is allowed to limited royalty. Why the democratick ascendency has been sometimes asserted, may perhaps be thus easily accounted for. Writers have taken up the subject by parts, without a fair examination of the whole. Having some favourite system to support, or theory to illustrate, (at once flattering to ingenuity, and irreconcileable to experience,) they find a particular occurrence, or some detached passages
of an ancient author, which may be accommodated to their
purpose ; and they build upon them some crude and hasty dogma, which afterwards is not to be relinquished. Their partiality will not allow them to discern their error at the time, nor will their want of candour upon
better information suffer the retraction. To every passage which can be found countenancing the supremacy of the populace at large, it is not too much to affirm, that at least half a dozen may be opposed of a contrary tendency. Exaggcration and high colouring must be expected in orations; they consitute the grace, not the substance
of history, and often are the work of the historian's invention; but we see the speeches of Demagogues abounding in general with complaints of the degradation and abject state of Plebeians, and with bitter reprehensions of the overweening ambition and jealous tyranny of the Nobles.
But allowing this point to remain undecided, we may turn our view to another, where there is no room for misrepresentation, theory, or the fertility of conjectural inference. Behold then—"This nurse of heroes, this delight of gods,” under a dictator, as described already, with a numerous army by sea and land, scourged or cudgeled by the centurion, and decimated by the general; wives exposed to divorce from the avarice, disgust, or capricious inconstancy of their husbands ; usurious creditors permitted by the law to imprison, lash, and torture the persons of their insolvent debtors; the whole youth of Rome holding their lives at the pleasure of their fathers, who might have cast them out at their birth to perish by cold or famine ; with Naves abounding in every family, less in estimation than the cattle of their owners; and where can be found a picture of more complete subjection and inequality ? for equality beyond that of protection from just laws, is but a word which knaves utter, and their dupes swallow. Yet the commonwealth of Rome, and Roman liberty, arc sounds for ever in the mouth of hypocrites or visionaries.
For the preposterous doctrine of equality in its most preposterous latitude, the example of Rome has been produced repeatedly, whether for the sake of mischief or from ignorance, I know not: but the contest there was for the partition of distinctions, not for their abolition; not that there should be no offices of great power and emolument, but that all orders should have a right of admission to them. That plebeians should be eligible to the consulship, that they should have lictors and fasces, was the demand of the people ; not that there should be no consulship, and no insignia.
But we cannot be deceived; the veil of imposition is too transparent not to be seen through. Declaimers among us mean to divert the attention of their hearers from the blessings which they enjoy, to contemplate imaginary and impracticable perfection which never existed, and to transfer the worship of freedom's true divinity at home, to the grim and deformed idol in ancient Rome, or modern France, which assumes her name, but has not one of her attributes.
After we have looked to antiquity, or to the nations which surround us, after we have examined the states which have been, and are extinguished, after we have scrutinized unreal republicks, sketched in the lucubrations of a Grecian philosopher or a British theorist, the judgment returns homeward to repose on the unrivalled constitution of our own country ; where a long succession of mature experiments has ended in the establishment of a system, in which the best faculties have been directed to two great objects, the ascertaining human rights, and securing social felicity.
When we contemplate the means of happiness which Providence has been pleased to distribute so abundantly over the universe, we must acknowledge that the grandeur and superiority of the Romans were very dearly purchased. To be engaged in war, or in civil commotions, for a period of above seven hundred years, and to sink into the most abject Navery afterwards, was the fate of this extolled and envied people. What a state for social creatures ! as if men were sent into the world for no better purpose than to worry and drive others out of it.
Were glory the most desirable end of human pursuits and actions, Rome must certainly be considered as the first country in the universe ; but if virtue and contentment are preferable, perhaps it was the last.