Page images


twin heroes,

[ocr errors]

Vesta, where a spring of water bubbles up from the CHAP. ground and fills a small deep pool. There they washed away the stains of the battle, and when men crowded round them, and asked for tidings, they told them how the battle had been fought, and how it was won. And they mounted their horses, and rode from the forum, and were seen no more; and men sought for them in every place, but they were not found. Then Aulus and all the Romans knew how Castor The two

horsemen and Pollux, the twin heroes, had heard his prayer, were the and had fought for the Romans, and had vanquished Castor and

Pollux. their enemies, and had been the first to break into the enemies' camp, and had themselves, with more than mortal speed, borne the tidings of their victory to Rome. So Aulus built a temple according to his vow to Castor and Pollux, and gave rich offerings, for he said, “These are the rewards which I promised to the two who should first break into the enemies' camp; and the twin heroes have won them, and they and no mortal men have won the battle for Rome this day.” So perished the house of the Tarquinii, in the How Tar

quinius, great battle by the lake Regillus, and all the sons after the

ruin of his of king Tarquinius, and his son-in-law Octavius house, went Mamilius, were slain on that battle-field. Thus king and died. Tarquinius saw the ruin of all his family and of all his house, and he was left alone, utterly without hope. So he went to Cumæ 46, a city of the Greeks,

to Cumæ,

46 Livy, II. 21.


CHAP. and there he died. And thus the deeds of Tarqui

- nius and of the wicked Tullia, and of Sextus their son, were visited upon their own heads; and the Romans lived in peace, and none threatened their freedom any more.




Ημείς δε ανδρών των αρίστων επιλέξαντες ομιλίην τούτοισι περιθέωμεν rò kpáros év yèp dn ToútoLoL kai aútoù éoóueda.—HERODOT. III. 81.

MEN love to complete what is imperfect, and to CHAP. realize what is imaginary. The portraits of kingFergus and his successors in Holyrood palace were history is an attempt to give substance to the phantom names and uncerof the early Scotch story; those of the founders of the oldest colleges in the gallery of the Bodleian library betray the tendency to make much out of little, to labour after a full idea of those who are only known to us by one particular action of their lives. So it has fared with the early history of Rome: Romulus and Numa are like king Fergus; John of Balliol, and Walter of Merton, are the counterparts of Servius Tullius, and Brutus, and Poplicola. Their names were known, and their works were living; and men, longing to image them to their minds more completely, made up by invention for the want of knowledge, and composed in one


The Roman

still meagre





[ocr errors]

CHAP. case a pretended portrait, in the other a pretended S history.

There have been hundreds, doubtless, who have looked on the portrait of John of Balliol, and, imposed upon by the name of portrait, and by its being the first in a series of pictures, of which the greater part were undoubtedly copied from the life, have never suspected that the painter knew no more of the real features of his subject than they did themselves. So it is that we are deceived by the early history of the Roman Commonwealth. It wears the form of annals, it professes to mark accurately the events of successive years, and to distinguish them by the names of the successive consuls, and it begins a history, which going on with these same forms and pretensions to accuracy, becomes after a time in a very large proportion really accurate, and ends with being as authentic as any history in the world. Yet the earliest annals are as unreal as John of Balliol's portrait; there is in both cases the same deception. I cannot as yet give a regular history of the Roman people; all that can be done with the first years of the Commonwealth, as with the last of the Monarchy, is to notice the origin and character of institutions, and for the rest, to be contented with that faint outline which alone can be

relied upon as real. The com- The particulars of the expulsion of the last king something of Rome, and his family and house, can only be by the expulsion of given as they already have been, in their poetical

form. It by no means follows that none of them


are historical, but we cannot distinguish what are CHAP. so. But we may be certain, whether Brutus belonged to the commons, as Niebuhr thinks, or not, that the commons immediately after the revolution recovered some of the rights of which the last king had deprived them; and these rights were such as did not interfere with the political ascendancy of the patricians, but yet restored to the commons their character of an order, that is, a distinct body with an internal organization of its own. The commons again chose their judges to decide ordinary civil causes when both parties belonged to their own order, and they again met in their Compitalia and Paganalia, the common festivals of the inhabitants of the same neighbourhood in the city and in the country. They also gained the important privilege of being, even in criminal matters, judges of their own members, in case of an appeal from the sentence of the magistrate. As a burgher might appeal to the people or great council of the burghers, so a commoner might appeal to the commons assembled in their tribes, and thus in this respect the two orders of the nation were placed on a footing of equality. It is said also that a great many of the richest families of the commons who belonged to the centuries of knights, or horsemen, were admitted as new patrician houses into the order of the patricians, or burghers, or people of Rome; for I must again observe, that the Roman people or burghers, and the Roman commons, will

| Aikas nepi Tôv ovußodaiwv, Dionysius, V. 2.

« PreviousContinue »