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poor, was, in ancient times and in the middle age, the unavoidable consequence of their civil associations being founded upon a system which stripped the weak for the benefit of the strong ; or, rather, upon the wrong direction given to the inexhaustible passion for wealth. Aware that they could not grow rich without their assistance, men used every means in their. power to subdue their fellow-creatures, and to impose upon them the yoke of their caprices and vices, and the care of supplying their wants and providing for their enjoyments. Man became the property of man, and in this respect J. J. Rousseau was right when he asserted, that he who laid the first foundation of property, was guilty of treason against humanity, and deserved the curses of mankind. Fatal as this attempt of the passion for riches proved, every where, to the most numerous part of the people, it was yet repeated with the same ardour, and, at first, with the same success, by nations against each other. They were all anxious to appropriate to themselves the wealth of other states, and to submit them to their domination. Hostilities became permanent, and in this general struggle, a few proving victorious, subdued the others and stripped them of their riches. But punishment followed close upon the crime. The predominating states were no sooner arrived at the summit of power, than they fell with the same rapidity, and, to use the more correct than elegant comparison of Fergusson", they disappeared all at once, and “the conflagration, which had filled
* Fergusson's History of Civil Society.
in ancient times and in the middo th e of their civil association m whichstripped thewa song; or, rather, upon th: heinexhaustible passions could not grow rich with used every means in the
poor. was, unavoidable consequeño being founded upon ost for the benefit of the st wrongdirection given" wealth Aware that they
out their assistance, men powerto subdue their follow-creatures, and” impos:
the care of supplying their wano and providings
their enjoyments. Man became the property of" and in this respect J. J. Rousso fight whenk assited, that he who laid the first foundation of" Forty, was guilty of treason against human", at #sored the cuises of mankind. Fatal as this attempt of the passion for side roved, every where, to the most numerous Po" the people, it was yet repeated with the same mor
and at first, with the same succo by nations agains each other Tho metal/anxious" appropriate to
themselves the wealth of other states, and to submit them to their domina tion. Hostilities became perma rent and in this general
struggle, a few proving wit. torious, subdued the others and stripped them of their But pil
nishment followed close upon to The predominating states were no soo" mit of pow
er, than they fell with the same rapidity, and, to use the
more correct th” mparison of Fergusson', they do. and “the conflagration, ch had fill
* Farguson's History of Civil Society.
pose of °nriching themsel
** - the world with its flames 3.
t; sub - P. under an extinguisher sided like a wax-ta
are established o effects of th
all the distin The Persi history,
- is political phen - - O guis. contradiction, by thea menon allS . nations of antiquity nnals of • Who appear first on the theatre of O
n Cyrus led them
They *querors for the sole pur
th **y, the generals and
well of the x by their
C r -- Serv
conquest Contri buted, at first, to the grand Indeur of the
monarch , and th Soon dev ° splendour olved to a 6 ur of the a f empire : bu - t it
The Spartans, not less celebrated for their contempt of riches than for their astonishing exploits, appear little entitled to the praises with which they have been honoured by posterity. They reduced the Helotes, or inhabitants of Laconia, to servitude, for the purpose of imposing upon them the task of supplying their wants. The laws of Lycurgus, which had grounded the happiness of the Spartaus upon disinterestedness, and obtained the approbation of the gcds, could not guard them against the dangerous seduction of riches. Scarcely had their illustrious Lawgiver ended his days, than, regardless of both his laws and the gods, who had, as it were, declared themselves the patrons of those laws, the Spartans conquered Messene, and exterminated, banished, or enslaved its inhabitants: and it is this very period of oppression and robbery which marks the beginning of their importance and consideration among the nations of Greece. The Spartans did not shew themselves more rigid observers of the laws of Lycurgus against riches at any other period of their history: the ransom of the prisoners of war, and the booty of Plataea, were eagerly heaped up in their public exchequer; and, as Plutarch justly observes, “private in“dividuals took care not to despise the wealth which “the public held in estimation; and the law which “watched at the gate of their houses to keep them
“shut against gold, proved less powerful than the ex
“ample of the people, who opened their hearts to “cupidity.” Their best generals, and even the chiefs of the state, were bribed by the gold of the great.
The Spartans, not less celebrated for their contempt of riches than for their astonishing exploits." Hitle entitled to the praises with which they have been honoured by posterity. They reduced the Helotti, or inhabitants of Laconia, to servitude. " the put pose of imposing upon them the task of supplying
their wants. The laws of Lycurg". which had
grounded the happiness of the Spartans upon disit †restedness, and obtained the approb" of the gcds, could not guard them against the dangerous seduction of riches. Scarcely had their illustrious Lawgiver ended his days than, regardless of both his laws and the gods, who had as it were declared them. selves the patrons of those laws, the Spartans con: quered Messene, and exterminated, banished, or *
layed its inhabitants; and it * this very period of
oppression and robbery of their importance and consideration among theo
tions of Greece. The Spartans did not shew them
selves more rigid obser" of the laws of Lycurguo
against riches at any ot the ransom of the prisoners of was Plataea, were eagerly heaped upint “...rivate i uer; and, as Plutarch justly observe “private * dividuals took c* not to days the wealth . “the public held in estimation; and the law "
a watched at the gate of their hou
• Their best generals an o bribed by the gold of the gro
of the stato
her period of their history:
ses to keep them
which marks the beginning |
king, and th , * s? e Owls of Athens* CIC of the covetous Spartan. pt under the roof
But the wealth which the coveted, could onl - y be obtained b . to poverty and on: o ing other pite of the laws of Lycurgus 2 when, in
mulated i riches had been lon o 1In the hands of a few citizens : dCCUI** any virtue, glory, or power leftf arta had no
Atti ** a dreary and barren country y
ged from the state of indigenc could never
their avarice was who in the ti
Spartans so anxiously
Athenians grew rich by plundering, oppressing, and impoverishing other nations; and as their wealth got into the hands of a few citizens, it caused the ruin of the state”. A few huts, built by strangers and fugitives on the sea-shore, were the slender foundations on which arose the magnificent towers of proud Carthage. Though at first indebted for her wealth to commerce, it was the plunder of the small nations by which she was surrounded, and the conquest and spoliation of the principal islands of the Mediterranean and of a large portion of Africa, which gave Carthage so considerable a mass of riches, that many of her private citizens were said to have been as wealthy as monarchst. The history of Carthage does not inform us what became of her riches, and whether they fell exclusively into the hands of a few citizens, as they did among the other nations of antiquity: but it positively acquaints us with the inordinate passion of the Carthagenians for wealth. The citizens were obliged to pay for whatever the state might or ought to have given them, and were paid for every service rendered to the states.
This mutual avarice of the citizens and of the state,
caused the misfortunes and ruin of Carthage, and produced precisely the same effects which wealth, exclusively possessed by a small portion of the people, had produced in other countries.
* There were citizens at Athens, whose landed estates were three miles in extent; while others had not sufficient to pay for theif burial. De Paw, sur les Grecs.
+ Montesquiew, Grandeur et Décadence des Romains, c. 4, .