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of" to save their keeping, but the emperor Claudius issued an order to prohibit the masters from killing their slaves.
The turning of the free population off the public lands, caused great numbers of citizens to resort to Rome, where they had to find employment in the best way they could; and as the slaves and clients of the patricians were brought up to various mechanical trades, the free people found many competitors in the enslaved or dependent classes.
But the inhabitants both free and bond had to be fed. So early as the fourth century of the existence of Rome, the supply of provisions was a matter of great difficulty on account of the low state of trade, and the sale of grain was intrusted to commissioners appointed by the State. The population of the capital continued to increase, by the influx of citizens attracted to it, to exercise the right of suffrage. The supply of corn to the citizens, became an established part of the system of government; this was effected at an enormous expense to the governing order; and will show to all governments to the end of time, the retributive consequences of a too grasping disposition in the dominant faction, over the means of subsistence of the great mass of the population. Large numbers were fed to be kept quiet, and other classes were maintained in order to secure their votes at public assemblies.
At first the people were supplied with corn-tickets, to enable them to get so much grain at a price considerably less than the cost or market price.* The grain was delivered from the public granaries on the presentation of the ticket. As the distresses of the people increased, or as the
» Persons with a corn-ticket got 35 pounds of coarse, or 25 lbs of fine bread, at a rate of 2jd. and &/. per lb. The cost of this bread was about HW. a pound, so that the government lost from OVi. to 5M. a pound, to /red the jie.ple fur their vclrs.
competition between political leaders became stronger, the terms of quantity and price, offered to the citizens, were more advantageous, and at length gratuitous distributions of corn were issued to a stated number of burghers. In the reign of Augustus, it is said that 200,000 persons received food on free corn-tickets. Tickets were given for a month, a quarter, and afterwards for life, and even became hereditary, and could be bequeathed by will.
All Rome enjoyed corn at reduced rates. This system of a public supply of corn for the population, gave rise to, and encouraged corruption and peculation to an enormous extent, among the governors of provinces, and other officers concerned in the contracts for the corn- Immense fortunes were made in speculation. A gigantic monied interest arose, not to be grappled with.
Joint Stock-Jobbing Companies were formed, to support with their capital great undertakings. The revenues of the state were farmed by the Equestrian order. Advances of money were made on all sorts of property, and from the failure of the payment of the interest, lands, houses, public buildings, and even temples, became ultimately the property of companies or of individual capitalists.
The lower that the Roman people descended towards the abyss of ruin, brought on them by a long continuance of aristocratic oppression, the more striking became the apparent magnificence of hospitality on the one part, and the necessity of receiving that hospitality by the people on the other. At the time of Cataline's conspiracy, the senate caused a distribution of corn to be made to the people, in order to prevent disturbance at the crisis. After the death of Sylla, Crassus, the wealthiest man in Italy, in order to gain the favour of the people, entertained them at a thousand tables, distributed corn to the poor, and fed the greatest part of the citizens for about three months. Julius Caesar in his triumphant entrance into Rome, on his return from the African war, distributed to each citizen, ten bushels of corn, ten pounds of oil, and a present of money equal to about forty shillings sterling.
When the struggle for empire between Augustus, Antony, and Pompey was drawing to a close, Augustus promised his troops, lands in Italy, as a recompense for their services; and as Antony claimed for his followers a share in the distribution, a greater degree of bitterness was infused into the combatants. But between them both, the miserable inhabitants were sacrificed, and husbandmen and shepherds, with their wives and children, with piteous cries, in vain implored the mercy of the insolent soldiers who took possession of their farms. Pompey, having command of the sea, cut off all supplies of corn and provisions destined for Italy, which with the capital felt the extremity of distress. The subsistence of the people being thus effectually at the command of a few competitors for power, the citizens had no alternative but to yield to the iron despotism of the conqueror.
Many valuable lessons are to be learned by modern nations, from the history of the Roman people. With a strong passion for liberty, and with a capacity for its enjoyment, the Romans, after a long and severe struggle, sunk down, and politically perished, for the want of the knowledge and practice of the representative system of legislation. The Romans were designed for certain objects, in the extension of their dominion over the nations and tribes of the world; but had God willed that their power should be permanent, it is not irreverent, it is to be hoped, to say, that he would have imparted to them a knowledge of the elective representative principle of government The Roman government, down to the first emperor, may be designated an aristocracy, checked by a popular veto on its proceedings, but there was no principle of representation and responsibility, as found in the British and North American systems.
The tribunes were more properly attorneys, or protectors, of the people, than their representatives, and there are several cases in which they abused the trust confided to them. They were frequently tempted to join the aristocratic party, against the very citizens who had done them the honour to appoint them to their high office.
Climate has a powerful influence over the customs, manners, and laws of a people. All primitive people congregate in their public assemblies in the open air. Between the parallels of 30° to 40° north or south latitude, the regularity of the weather can be calculated upon, for meetings either religious, political, or social; the inhabitants in those regions know with certainty what will be the state of the sky almost on any given day in the year; they enjoy at fixed seasons balmy airs and cloudless heavens, and regulate public business and social amusements accordingly. From the earliest ages, the Diets, or assemblies of the Latin towns, were held at the fountain in the grove of Ferentina; and the Roman citizens, in voting by their tribes, assembled in the forum, under the canopy of heaven. The circumstances were different with the ancient Germans, and the ancestors of the British people; unexpected changes of weather, rain and storms, must have often dispersed the public meetings of the people; but as the love of liberty in the ancient Britons and Anglo-Saxons was as ardent as in the Roman breast, it was not to be subdued by the war of the elements. No buildings were capacious enough to contain the citizens who might assemble to discuss public matters, and from these circumstances of irregularity of climate and deficiency of house-room, the practice of electing deputies, to meet as representatives of the whole body of citizens, and from that the modern system, no doubt originated. The principle is as ingenious as it is wise, and the British people never can be at the summit of their power, until it be restored to its original purity, and extended through the length and breadth of the land.
When we consider over what a vast portion of the globe the Roman power was established, and how many ages it endured, it strikes one with astonishment to find scarcely any trace of that gigantic power remaining in the institutions or laws of the many nations that were formerly subjected to it It is true, that the Roman code of laws forms the basis of the civil law of most of the nations of Europe; but this circumstance is of modern date, and has no connection whatever with the original dominion of the Romans over the nations that adopted the Justinian laws.
In the institutions, or even traditions, of nations, we find few relics of Roman government or polity. The Roman system was a pure military one, and it seemed formed for the speedy and effectual amalgamation of the Italian settlers with the mass of the conquered population. But, in the absence of any moral or political remains, we find the stupendous physical works of that extraordinary people standing at this day in every country—the proud monuments of their science, as civil and military engineers.
Throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa, wherever they established their power, we see the ground covered with the ruins of their empire. From Petraea in Arabia to the Grampian Mountains in Scotland, we find the surface marked with military lines, sites of encampments, and remains of roads and bridges; and with so much judgment were the military positions chosen, that in modern warfare, with science unknown to the ancients, the positions would