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vme grew wild in the island of Sicily, and most probably in the adjacent continent; but it was not improved by the skill, nor did it afford a liquor grateful to the taste, of the savage inhabitants.(1) A thousand years afterwards, Italy could boast, that of the fourscore most generous and celebrated wines, more than two-thirds were produced from her o The blessing was soon communicated to the N. province of Gaul; but so intense was the cold to the north of the Cevennes, that, in the time of Strabo, it was thought impossible to ripen the grapes in those parts of Gaul.(3) This difficulty, however, was gradually vanquished; and there is some reason to believe, that the vineyards of Burgundy are as old as the age of the Antonines.(4) 3. The olive, in the western world, followed the progress of peace, of which it was considered as the symbol. Two centuries after the foundation of Rome, both Italy and Africa were strangers to that useful plant; it was naturalized in those countries; and at length carried into the heart of Spain and Gaul. The timid errors of the ancients, that it required a certain degree of heat, and could only flourish in the neighbourhood of the sea, were insensibly exploded by industry and experi# 4. The cultivation of flax was transported from Egypt to Gaul, and enriched the whole country, however it might impoverish the particular lands on which it was sown.(6) 5. The use of artificial glasses became familiar to the farmers both of Italy and the provinces, particularly the Lucerne, which derived its name and origin from Media.(7) The ...}supply of wholesome and plentiful food for the cattle during winter, multiplied the . of the flocks and herds, which in their turn contributed to the fertility of the soil. To all these improvements may be added an assiduous attention to mines and fisheries, which, by employing a multitude of laborious hands, serve to increase the pleasures of the rich, and the subsistence of the poor. The elegant treatise of Columella describes the advanced state of the Spanish husbandry, under the reign of Tiberius; and it may be observed, that those famines §. so frequently afflicted the infant republic, were seldom or never experienced by the extensive empire of Rome. The accidental scarcity, in any single province, was immediately relieved by the plenty of its more fortunate neighbours. Agriculture is the foundation of manufactures; since the productions of nature are the materials of art. Under the Roman empire, the labour of an industrious and ingenious people, was variously, but incessantly employed, in the service of the rich. In their dress, their table, their houses, and their furniture, the favourites of fortune united every refinement of conveniency, of elegance, and of splendour; whatever could sooth their pride, or gratify their sensuality. Such refinements, under the odious name of luxury, have been severely arraigned by the moralists of every age; and it might perhaps be more conducive to the virtue, as well as happiness of mankind, if all possessed the necessaries, and none of the superfluities, of life. But in the present imperfect condition of society, luxury, though it may proceed from vice or folly, seems to be the only means that can correct the unequal distribution of property. The diligent mechanic, and the skilful artist, who have obtained no share in the division of the earth, receive a voluntary tax from the possessors of land; and the latter are prompted, by a sense of interest, to improve those estates, with whose produce they ma purchase additional pleasures. This operation, the particular effects of whic are felt in every society, acted with much more diffusive energy in the Roman world. The provinces would soon have been exhausted of their wealth, if the manufactures and commerce of luxury had not insensibly restored to the industrious subjects, the sums which were exacted from them by the arms and
(1) See Homer Odyss. 1. ix. v. 358. (2) Plin. Hist, Natur. I. xiv.
(3) Strab. Geograph. I. iv. p. 223. The intense cold of a Gallic winter was almost proverbial among the ancients *
(4) In the beginning of the ivth century, the orator Eumenius (Panegyric. Veter. viii. 6. edit. Delphin.) speaks of the vines in the territory of Autun, which were decayed through age, and the first plantation of which was totally unknown. The Pagus Arebrignus is supposed by M. d’Anville to be the district of Beaune, celebrated even at present for one of the first growths of Burgundy.t
(5) Plin. Hist. Natur. l. xv. (6) Ibid. I. xix.
(7) See the agreeable Essays on Agriculture by Mr. Harte, in which he has collerod all that the ancients and moderns have said of Lucerne.
authority of Rome. As o as the circulation was confined within the bounds of the empire, it impressed the political machine with a new degree of activity, and its consequences, sometimes beneficial, could never become pernicious. But it is no easy task to confine luxury within the limits of an empire. The most remote countries of the ancient world were ransacked to supply the pomp and delicacy of Rome. The forest of Scythia afforded some §. furs. Amber was brought over land from the shores of the Baltic to the Danube; and the barbarians were astonished at the price which they received in exchange for so useless a commodity.(1). There was a considerable demand for Babylonian carpets, and other manufactures of the east; but the most important and unpopular branch of foreign trade was carried on with Arabia and India Every year, about the time of the summer solstice, a fleet of a hundred and twenty vessels sailed from Myos-hormos, a port of Egypt, on the Red Sea. By the periodical assistance of the Monsoons, they traversed the ocean in about forty days. The coast of Malabar, or the island of Ceylon(2), was the usual term of their navigation, and it was in those markets that the merchants from the more remote countries of Asia expected their arrival. The return of the fleet of Egypt was fixed to the month of December or January; and as soon as their rich cargo had been transported on the backs of camels, from the Red Sea to the Nile, and had descended that river as far as Alexandria, it was poured, without delay, into the capital of the empire.(3), The objects of oriental traffic were splendid and o silk, a pound of which was esteemed not in'erior in value to a pound of gold;(4) precious stones, among which the pearl claimed the first rank after the diamond;(5) and a variety of aromatics, that wore consumed in religious worship and the pomp of funerals. The labour ard risk of the voyage was rewarded with almost incredible profit; but the Joufit was made upon Roman subjects, and a few individuals were enriched at th: expense of the public. As the natives of Arabia and India were contented with the roductions and manufactures of their own country, silver, on the s de of the omans, was the principal, if not the only instrument of commerce. It was a complaint worthy of the gravity of the senate, that, in the purchase of female ornaments, the wealth of the state was irrecoverably given away to foreign and hostile nations.(6) The annual loss is computed, by a writer of an inquisitive but censorious temper, at upwards of eight hundred thousand pounds sterling.(7) Such was the style of discontent, brooding over the dark prospect of approaching overty. And yet, if we compare the proportion between gold and silver, as it stood in the time of Pliny, and as it was fixed in the reign of Consantine, we shall discover within that period a very considerable increase.(8) . There is not the least reason to suppose that gold was become more scarce : it is therefore evident that silver was o more common; that whatever might be the amount of the Indian and Arabian exports, they were far from exhausting the wealth of the Roman world; and that the produce of the mined abundantly supplied the demands of commerce. otwithstanding the ...Y of mankind to exalt the past, and to depreciate the present, the tranquil and prosperous state of the empire was warinly felt, and honestly confessed, by the provincials as well as Romans. “They acknowledged that the true principles of social life, laws, agriculture, and science, (1) Tacit. Germania, c. 45. Plin. Hist. Nat. xxxviii. 11. The latter observed, with some humour, that even fashion had not yet found out the use of amber. Nero sent a Roman knight to purchase great quantities on the spot where it was produced; the coast of modern Prussia. (2) Called Taprobana by the Romans, and Screndib by the Arabs. It was discovered under the reign of Claudius, and gradually became the principal mart of the East. (3) Plin. Hist. Natur. l. vi., Strabo, l. xvii. (4) Hist. August, p. 224. A silk garnient was considered as an ornament to a woman, but as a disgrace ***. two great pearl fisheries were the same as at present, Ormuz and Cape Comorin. As well as we can compare ancient with modern o Rome was supplied with diamonds from the mine of Jumelpur, in Bengal, which is described in the Voyages de Tavernier, tom. ii. p. 281. (6) Tacit. Annal. iii. 52. In a speech of Tiberius. o (7) Plin. Hist. Natur. xii. 18. In another place he computes half that sum; Quingenties H. S. for India exclusive of Arabin. (8) The proportion which was 1 to 10, and 12}, rose to 14 two-fifths, the legal regulation of Constantine See Arbuthnot's Tables of ancient Coins, c. v.
which had been first invented by the wisdom of Athens, were now firmly established by the power of Rome, under whose auspicious influence, the fiercest barbarians were united by an equal government and common language. They affirm, that with the improvement of arts, the human species was visibly multi plied. They celebrate the increasing splendour of the cities, the beautiful face of the country, cultivated and adorned #. an immense garden; and the long festival of peace, which was enjoyed by so many nations, forgetful of their an: cient animosities, and delivered from the apprehension of future danger.(1) Whatever suspicions may be suggested by the air of rhetoric and declamation, which seems to prevail in these passages, the substance of them is perfectly agreeable to historic truth. It was scarcely possible that the eyes of contemporaries should discover in the public felicity the latent causes . decay and corruption. This long peace, and the uniform government of the Romans, introduced a slow and secret poison into the vitals of the empire. The minds of men were gradually reduced to the same level, the fire of genius was extinguished, and even the military spirit evaporated. The natives of Europe were brave and robust, Spain, Gaul, Britain, and Illyricum, supplied the legions with excellent soldiers, and constituted the real strength of the monarchy. Their personal valour remained, but they no longer possessed that public courage which is nourished by the love of independence, the sense of national honour, the presence of danger, and the habit of command. They received laws and governors from the will of their sovereign, and trusted for their defence to a mercenary army. The posterity of their boldest leaders was contented with the rank of citizens and subjects. The most aspiring spirits resorted to the court or standard of the emperors; and the deserted provinces, deprived of political strength or union, insensibly sunk into the languid indifference of private life. The love of letters, almost inseparable from peace and refinement, was sashionable among the subjects of Hadrian and the Antonines, who were themselves men of learning and curiosity. It was diffused over the whole extent of their empire; the most northern tribes of Britons had .. a taste for rhetoric; Homer as well as Virgil were transcribed and studied on the banks of the Rhine and Danube; and the most liberal rewards sought out the faintest glimmerings of litera o The sciences of physic and astronomy were successfully j by the Greeks; the observations of Ptolemy and the writings of Galen, are studied by those who have improved their discoveries and corrected their errors; but if we except the inimitable Lucian, this age of indolence passed away without having produced a single writer of original É. or who excelled in the arts of elegant composition. The authority of Plato and Aristotle, of Zeno and Epicurus, still reigned in the schools; and their systems, transmitted with blind deference from one generation of disciples to another, precluded every generous attempt to exercise the powers, or enlarge the limits, of the human mind. The beauties of the poets and orators, instead of kindling a fire like their own, inspired only cold and servile imitations: or if any ventured to deviate from those models, they deviated at the same time from good sense and propriety. On the revival of letters, the youthful vigour of the imagination, after a long repose, national emulation, a new religion, new languages, and a new world, called forth the genius of Europe. But the provincials of Rome, trained by a uniform artificial foreign education, were engaged in a very unequal competition with those bold ancients, who, by expressing their genuine feelings in their native tongue, had already occupied every place of honour. The name of poet was almost forgotten; that of orator was usurped by the sophists. A cloud of critics, of compilers, of commentators, darkened the face of learning, and the decline of genius was soon followed by the corruption of taste. The sublime Longinus, who in somewhat a later period, and in the court of a Syrian queen, preserved the spirit of ancient Athens, observes and laments this degeneracy of his contemporaries, which debase their sentiments, enervated ..heir courage, and depressed their talents. “In the same manner (says he) as some children always remain pigmies, whose infant limbs have been too closely confined; thus our tender minds, settered by the prejudices and habits of a just servitude, are unable to expand themselves, or to attain that well-proportioned greatness which we admire in the ancients; who, living under a popular government, wrote with the same freedom as they "...}} This diminutive stature of mankind, if we pursue the metaphor, was daily sinking below the old standard, and the Roman world was indeed peopled by a race of o: y when the fierce giants of the north broke in, and mended the pu reed. They restored a manly spirit of freedom; and after the revolution of ten centuries, freedom became the happy parent of taste and science.
THE obvious definition of a monarchy seems to be that of a state, in which a single person, by whatsoever name he may be distinguished, is intrusted with the execution of the laws, the management of the revenue, and the command of the army. . But, unless public liberty is protected by intrepid and vigilant guardians, the authority of so formidable a magistrate will soon degenerate into despotism. The influence of the clergy, in an age of superstition, might be usefully employed to assert the rights of mankind ; but so intimate is the connexion between the throne and the altar, that the banner of the church has very seldom been seen on the side of the people. A martial nobility and stubborn commons, possessed of arms, tenacious of property, and collected into constitutional assemblies, form the only balance capable of preserving a free constitution against the . of an aspiring prince.
Every barrier of the Roman constitution had been levelled by the vast ambition of the dictator: every fence had been extirpated by the cruel hand of the Triumvir. After the victory of Actium, the fate of the Roman world depended on the will of Octavianus, surnamed Caesar, by his uncle's adoption, and afterwards Augustus, by the flattery of the Senate. The conqueror was at the head of forty-four veteran legions,(2) conscious of their own strength; and of the weakness of the constitution, habituated, during twenty years civil war, to every act of blood and violence, and passionately devoted to the house of Caesar, from whence alone they had received, and expected, the most lavish rewards. The provinces, long oppressed by the ministers of the republic, sighed for the government of a single person, who would be the master, not the accomplice, of those petty tyrants. The people of Rome, viewing with a secret pleasure, the humiliation of the aristocracy, demanded only bread and public shows; and were supplied with both by the liberal hand of Augustus. The rich and polite Italians, who had almost universally embraced the philosophy of Epicurus, enjoyed the present blessings of ease and tranquillity, and suffered not the pleasing dream to be interrupted by the memory of their old tumultuous
(1) Longin. de Sublim. c. 43. p. 229, edit. Toll. Here, too, we may say of Longinus, “his own exam ple strengthens all his laws.” Instead of proposing his sentiments with a manly boldness, he insinuates them with the most guarded caution, puts them into the mouth of a friend; and, as sar as we can collect from a corrupted text. makes a show of refuting them himself.
(2) Orosius, vl 15 #
freedom. With its power, the senate had lost its o: many of the most noble families were extinct. The republicans of spirit and ability had perished in the field of battle, or in the proscription. The door of the assembly had been designedly left open, for a mixed multitude of more than a thousand o who reflected disgrace upon their rank, instead of deriving honour from it.(1
The * of the senate, was one of the first o in which Augustus laid aside the tyrant, and professed himself the father of his country. He was elected censor; and, in concert with his faithful Agrippa, he examined the list of the senators, expelled a few members," whose vices or whose obstinacy required a E.; example, persuaded near two hundred to prevent the shame of an expulsion by a voluntary retreat, raised the qualification of a senator to about ten thousand pounds, created a sufficient number of Patrician families, and accepted for himself, the honourable title of Prince of the Senate," which had always been bestowed, by the censors, on the citizen the most eminent for his honours, and services.(2) . But while he thus restored the dignity, he destroyed the independence of the senate. The principles of a free constitution are irrecoverably lost, when the legislative power is nominated by the executive.
Before an assembly thus modelled and prepared, Augustus pronounced a studied oration, which displayed his patriotism, and disguised É. anbition. “He lamented, yet excused, his past conduct. Filial piety had required at his hands the revenge of his father's murder; the humanity of his own nature had sometimes given way to the stern laws of necessity, and to a forced connexion with two unworthy colleagues: as long as Antony lived, the republic forbad him to abandon her to a degenerate Roman, and a barbarian queen. He was now at liberty to satisfy his duty and his inclination. He solemnly restored the senate and people to all their ancient rights; he wished only to mingle with the crowd of his fellow-citizens, and to share the blessings o he had obtained for his country.”(3)
It would require the pen of Tacitus (if Tacitus had assisted at this assembly to describe the various emotions of the senate; those that were suppressed, and those that were affected. It was dangerous to trust the sincerity of Augustus; to seem to distrust it, was still more dangerous. . The respective advantages of monarchy and a republic have often divided speculative inquirers; the present greatness of the Roman state, the corruption of manners, and the license of the soldiers, supplied new arguments to the advocates of monarchy; and these general views of government were again warped by the hopes and fears of each individual. Amidst this confusion of sentiments, the answer of the senate was unanimous and decisive. They refused to accept the resignation of Augustus; they conjured him not to desert the republic, which he had saved. After a decent resistance, the crafty tyrant submitted to the orders of the senate; and consented to receive the government of the provinces, and the general command of the Roman armies, under the well-known names of PRoconsul and IMPERATOR.(4) But he would receive them only for ten years. Even before the expiration of that period, he hoped that the wounds of civil discord would be completely healed, and that the republic, restored to its pristine health and vigour, would no longer require the dangerous interposition of so extraordinary a magistrate. The memory of this comedy, repeated several times during the life of Augustus, was preserved to the last ages of the empire, by the peculiar pomp with which the perpetual monarchs of Rome always solemnized the tenth years of their j
(l) Julius Caesar introduced soldiers, strangers, and half-barbarians into the senate. (Sueton. in Caesar, c. 77.80.) The abuse became still more scandalous after his death. (2) Dion Cassius, I. iii. p. 693. Suetonius in August. c. 55. (3) Dion (l. iiii. p. 698) gives us a prolix and bombast speech on this great occasion. I have borrowed from Suetonius and Tacitus the general language of Augustus. (4) Imperatur (from which we have derived Emperor) signified under the republic no more than general, and was emphatically bestowed by the soldiers, when on the field of battle they proclaimed their victorious leader worthy of that title When the Roman emperors assumed it in that sense, they placed it after their name, and marked how often they had taken it. (5) Dion, l. liii. p. 703, &c.