opened, and public teachers were pensioned. Aqueducts and bridges, temples and theatres were raised in almost every town; and all the powers of architecture, of sculpture, and of painting, were employed to_decorate the capitals of the most distant provinces. Roads, the remains of which astonish us even at this day, were carried from the Roman Forum, the centre of this vast empire, to its utınost extremities; and all the tribes and nations that composed it were linked together, not only by the same laws and by the same government, but by all the facilities of commodious intercourse, and of frequent communication. Compare the state of Gaul, of Spain, and of Britain, when covered with numberless cities, and flourishing in all the arts of peace

under the protection of Rome, with their forests, their swamps, and the sordid huts of half naked savages scattered thinly over their wastes previous to their subjugation; and you will be enabled to appreciate the blessings which they owed to Rome.

Rome, in thus civilizing and polishing mankind, had prepared them for the reception of that divine religion, which alone can give to human nature its full and adequate perfection; and she completed her godlike work, when influenced by her instructions and example Europe embraced Christianity. Thus she became the metropolis of the world, by a new, and more venerable title, and assumed in a most august sense, the appellation of the “Holy City," the “Light of Nations," the "Parent of Mankind." When in the course of the two succeding ages, she was stript of her imperial honors; when her provinces were invaded, and all the glorious scene of cultivation, peace and improvement was ravaged by successive hordes of barbarians; she again renewed her benevolent exertions, and sent out, not consuls and armies to conquer, but apostles and teachers to reclaim, the savage tribes which had wasted her empire. By them she bore the light of heaven into the dark recesses of idolatry; and displaying in this better cause all the magnanimity, the wisdom, the

perseverance, which marked her former career, she tri

umphed, and, in spite of ignorance and barbarism, again diffused the blessings of Christianity over the Western world.

Nor is it to be objected that the religion of Rome was erroneous, or that she blinded and enslaved her converts. "The religion which Rome taught was Christianity. With it the convert received in the Scriptures the records of truth; and in the sacraments, the means of sanctification; in the creeds, the rule of faith; and in the commandments, the code of morality. In these are comprised all the belief and all the practices of a Christian, and to communicate these to a nation is to open to it the sources of life and happiness. But whatever may be the opinions of my reader in this respect, he must admit that the Latin muses, which had followed the Roman eagles in their victorious flight, now accompanied her humble missionaries in their expedi. tions of charity: and with them penetrated the swamps of Batavia, the forests of Germany, and the mountains of Caledonia.

Schools that vied in learning and celebrity with seminaries of the south, rose in these benighted regions, and diffused the beams of science over the vast tracts of the north, even to the polar circles. dictions of the Roman poets were fulfilled, though in a manner very different from their conceptions; and their immortal compositions were rehearsed in the remote islands of the Hebrides, and in the once impenetrable forests of Scandinavia.

At the same time, the arts followed the traces of the muse, and the untutored savages saw with surprise, temples of stone rise in their sacred groves, and arches of rock spread into a roof over their heads.

The figure of the Redeemer, till then unknown, seemed to breathe on canvass to their eyes ; the venerable forms of the apostles in Parian marble replaced the grim uncouth statues of their idols ; and music surpassing in sweetness the strains of their bards, announced to them the mercies of that God whom they were summoned to adore. It was not wonderful that they should eagerly

Thus the pre

embrace a religion adorned with so many graces, and accompanied by so many blessings ; and Europe finaliy settled in the profession of Christianity, and once more enlightened by the beams of science, was indebted to the exertions of Rome for both these blessings.

But the obligation did not end here, as the work of civilization was not yet finished. The northern tribes long established in the invaded provinces had indved become Christians, but they still remained, in many respects, barbarians. Hasty and intemperate, they indulged the caprice or the vengeance of the moment; they knew no law but that of the sword, and would submit to no decision but that of arms. Here again we behold the genius of Rome interposing her authority as a shield between ferocity and weakness, appealing from the sword to reason, from private combat to public justice, from the will of the judge and the uncertain rules of custom, to the clear prescriptions of her own written code. This grand plan of civilization, though impeded and delayed by the brutality and the obstinacy of the barbarous ages, was at length carried into effect, and the Roman law was adopted by consenting nations as the general code of the civilized world.

Rome, therefore, may still be said to rule nations ; not, indeed, with the rod of power, but with the sceptre of justice; and may still be supposed to exercise the high commission of presiding over the world, and of regulating the destinies of mankind.

THE CAPITOL. The Capitol was anciently both a fortress and a sanctuary. A fortress surrounded with precipices, bidding defiance to all the means of attack employed in ancient times; a sanctuary, crowded with altars and temples, the repository of the fatal oracles, the seat of the tutelar deities of the empire. Romulus began the the grand work, by erecting the temple of Jupiter Feretrius-Tarquinius Priscus, Servius Tullius, and Tarquinius Superbus continued, and the consul, Horatius Pulvillus, a few years after the expulsion of the kings, completed it, with a solidity and magnificence, says Tacitus, which the riches of succeeding ages might adorn, but could not increase. It was burnt during the civil wars between Marius and Sylla, and rebuilt shortly after ; but again destroyed by fire in the dreadful contest that took place in the very forum itself, and on the sides of the Capitoline Mount, between the partisans of Vitellius and Vespasian. This event, Tacitus laments, with the spirit and indignation of a Roman, as the greatest disaster that had ever befallen the city. And, indeed, if we consider the public archives, and of course the most valuable records of its history were deposited there, we must allow, that the catastrophe was peculiarly unfortunate, not to Rome only, but to the world at large. However, the capitol rose once more from its ashes, with redoubled splendor, and received from the munificence of Vespasian, and of Domitian_his son, its last and most glorious embellishments. The edifices were probably in site and destination nearly the same as before the conflagration; but more attention was paid 10 symmetry, to costliness, and above all, to grandeur and magnificence. The northern entrance led under a triumphal arch to the centre of the hill, and to the sacred grove, the asylum opened by Romulus, and almost the cradle of Roman power. On the right on the eastern summit, stood the temple of Jupiter Feretrius. On the left, on the western summit, was that of Jupitur Custus ; near each of these temples were the fancs of inferior divinities, that of Fortune and that of Fides alluded to by Cicero. In the midst, to crown the pyramid formed by such an assemblage of majestic edifices, rose the residence of the guardian of the empire, the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus on a hundred steps, supported by a hundred pillars, adorned with all the refinements of art, and blazing with the plunder of the world. In the centre of the temple, with Juno on his left, and Minerva on his

dian care.

right side, the thunderer sat on a throne of gold, grasping the lightning in one hand; and in the other wielding the sceptre of the universe. Hither the consuls were conducted by the senate, to assume the military dress, and to implore the favor of the Gods before they marched to battle. Hither the victorious generals used to repair in triumph, in order to suspend the spoils of conquered nations, to present captive monarchs, and to offer up hecatombs to Tarpeian Jove. Here, in cases of danger and distress, the senate was assembled, and the magistrates convened to deliberate in the presence, and under the immedate influence, of the tutelar gods of Rome. Here the laws were exhibited to public inspection, as if under the sanction of the divinity; and here, also, they were deposited, as if intrusted to his guar

Hither Cicero turned his hands and eyes, when he closed his first oration against Cataline, with that noble address to Jupiter, presiding in the capitol over the destinies of the empire, and dooming its enemies to destruction. In the midst of these magnificent structures, of this wonderful display of art and opulence, stood for ages the humble straw roofed palace of Romulus, a monument of primitive simplicity, dear and venerable in the eyes of the Romans. This cottage, it may easily be supposed, vanished in the first confiagration. But not the cottage only, the temples, the towers, the palaces, also, that once surrounded it, have disappeared. Of all the ancient glory of the capitol, nothing now remains but the solid foundation, and vast substructions raised on the rock, Capitoli immobile saxum. Not only is the capitol fallen, but its very name, expressive of dominion, and once fondly considered as an omen of empire, is now almost lost in the semibarbarous appellation of Campidoglio.

THE FORUM. The Roman Forum now lay extended before us, a scene in the ages of Roman greatness of unparalleled splendor and magnificence. It was bordered on both

« ForrigeFortsett »