« ForrigeFortsett »
dictates of private interest; and the same pernicious habits might still adhere to their characters in the public administration of the state. The honour of a liberal profession has indeed been vindicated by ancient and modern advocates, who have filled the most important stations, with pure integrity and consummate wisdom; but in the decline of Roman jurisprudence, the ordinary promotion of lawyers was pregnant with mischief and disgrace. The noble heart which had once been preserved as the sacred inheritance of the patricians was fallen into the hands of freedmen and plebeians/ who, with cunning rather than with skill, exercised a sordid and pernicious trade. Some of them procured admittance into families for the purpose of fomenting differences, of encouraging suits, and of preparing a harvest of gain for themselves or their brethren. Others, recluse in their chambers, maintained the dignity of legal professors, by furnishing a rich client with subtleties to confound the plainest truth, and with arguments to colour the most unjustifiable pretensions. The splendid and popular class was composed of the advocates, who filled the forum with the sound of their turgid and loquacious rhetoric. Careless of fame and of justice, they are described, for the most part, as ignorant and rapacious guides, who conducted their clients through a maze of expense, of delay, and of disappointment; from whence, after a tedious series of years, they were at length dismissed, when their patience and fortune were almost exhausted.8
III. In the system of policy introduced by military Augustus, the governors, those at least of the imperial provinces, were invested with the full powers of the sovereign himself. Ministers of peace and war, the distribution of rewards and punishments depended on them alone, and they successively appeared on the tribunal in the robes of civil magistracy, and in complete armour at the head of the Roman legions.11 The influence of the revenue, the authority of law, and the command of a military force, concurred to render their power supreme and absolute; and whenever they were tempted to violate their allegiance, the royal province which they involved in their rebellion, was scarcely sensible of any change in its political state. From the time of Commodus to the reign ofConstantine, near one hundred governors might be enumerated, who with various success, erected the standard of revolt; and though the innocent were too often sacrificed, the guilty might be sometimes prevented, by the suspicious cruelty of their master.1 To secure his throne and the public tranquillity from these formidable servants, Constantine resolved to divide the military from the civil administration; and to establish, as a permanent and professional distinction, a practice which had been adopted only as an occasional expedient. The supreme jurisdiction exercised by the praetorian prefects over the armies of the empire was transferred to the two masters-generalvrhom he instituted, the one for the cavalry, the other for the infantry; and though each of these illustrious officers was more peculiarly responsible for the discipline of those troops which were under his immediate inspection, they both indifferently commanded in the field the several bodies, whether of horse or foot, which were united in the same army.k Their number was soon doubled, by the division of the east and west; and as separate generals of the same rank and title were appointed on the four important frontiers of the Rhine, of the Upper and of the Lower Danube, and of the Euphrates, the defence of the Roman empire was at length committed to eight masters-general of the cavalry and infantry. Under their orders, thirty-five military commanders were stationed in the provinces: three in Britain, six in Gaul, one in Spain, one in Italy, five on the Upper, and four on the Lower Danube; in Asia eight, three in Egypt, and four in Africa. The titles of counts and dukes,1 by which they were properly distinguished, have obtained in modern languages so very different a sense, that the use of them may occasion some surprise. But it should be recollected, that the second of those appellations is only a corruption of the Latin word, which was indiscriminately applied to any military chief. All these provincial generals were therefore dukes; but no more than ten among them were dignified with the rank of counts, or companions, a title of honour, or rather of favour, which had been recently invented in the court of Constantine. A gold belt was the ensign which distinguished the office of the counts and dukes; and besides their pay, they received a liberal allowance sufficient to maintain one hundred and ninety servants, and one hundred and fifty-eight horses. They were strictly prohibited from interfering in any matter which related to the administration of justice or the revenue ; but the command which they exercised over the troops of their department, was independent of the authority of the magistrates. About the same time that Constantine gave a legal sanction to the ecclesiastical order, he instituted in the Roman empire the nice balance of the civil and the military powers. The emulation, and sometimes the discord, which reigned between two professions of opposite interests and incompatible manners, was productive of beneficial and pernicious consequences. It was seldom to be expected that the general and the civil governor of a province should either conspire for the disturbance, or should unite for the service, of their country. While the one delayed to offer the assistance which the other disdained to solicit, the troops very frequently remained without orders or without supplies; the public safety was betrayed, and the defenceless subjects were left exposed to the fury of the barbarians. The divided administration, which had been formed by Constantine, relaxed the vigour of the state, while it secured the tranquillity of the monarch.
f Mamertinus in Panegyr. Vet. 11. 20. Austerius apud Photium.p. 1500. * The curious passage of Ammianus, (lib. so. c.4.) in which he paints the manners of contemporary lawyers, affords a strange mixture of sound sense, false rhetoric, and extravagant satire. Godefroy (Prolegom. ad. Cod. Theod. c. 1. p. 186.) supports the historian by similar complaints, and authentic facts. In the fourth century, many camels might have been laden with law books. Eunapius in Vet. Edesii, p. 72.
* See a very splendid-example in the life of Agricola, particularly c. 20, S1. The lieutenant of Britain was intrusted with the same powers which Cicero, proconsul of Cilicia* had exercised in the name of the senate and people.
'The Abb£ Dubos, who has examined with accuracy (see Hist, do la Monarchie Francoise, tom. 1. p. -11—100. edit. 1742) the institutions of Augustus and of Constantine, observes, that if Otho had been,put to death the day before he executed his conspiracy, Otho would now appear in history as innocent as Corbulo.
* Zosimus, lib. 2. p. 110. Before the end of the reign of Constantius, the mogiitri militum were already increased to four. See Valesius ad Ammian. lib. 16. c. 7.
1 Though the military counts and dukes are frequently mentioned, both in history and the codes, we must have recourse to the Notitia for the exact knowledge of their number and stations. For the institution , rank, privileges, &c, of the counts in general, see Cod. Theod. lib. 6. tit 12.20. with the commentary of Godefroy,
Du. The memory of Constantine has been desert.
e<^y censured for another innovation which corrupted military discipline, and prepared the ruin of the empire. The nineteen years which preceded his final victory over Licinius, had been a period of licence and intestine war. The rivals who contended for the possession of the Roman world, had withdrawn the greatest part of their forces from the guard of the general frontier; and the principal cities which formed the boundary of their respective dominions were filled with soldiers, who considered their countrymen as their most implacable enemies. After the use of these internal garrisons had ceased with the civil war, the conqueror wanted either wisdom or firmness to revive the severe discipline of Diocletian, and to suppress a fatal indulgence, which habit had endeared and almost confirmed to the military order. From the reign of Constantine a popular and even legal distinction was admitted between the Palatine f and the Borderers; the troops of the court, as they were improperly styled, and the troops of the frontier. The former, elevated by the superiority of
TM Zosimus, lib. 2. p. 111. The distinction between the -two classes of Roman troops is very darkly expressed in the historians, the laws, and the Notitia. Consalt, however, the copious pamtitlm or abstract, which Godefroy has drawn up of the seventh book, de Re Militari, of the Theodosian Code, lib. 7. tit. 1. leg. 18. lib. 8. tit 1. leg. 10.
VOL. II. Y
their pay and privileges, were permitted, except in the extraordinary emergencies of war, to occupy their tranquil stations in the heart of the provinces. The most flourishing cities were oppressed by the intolerable weight of quarters. The soldiers insensibly forgot the virtues of their profession, and contracted only the vices of civil life. They were either degraded by the industry of mechanic trades, or enervated by the luxury of baths and theatres. They soon became careless of their martial exercises, curious in their diet and apparel; and while they inspired terror to the subjects of the empire, they trembled at the hostile approach of the barbarians." The chain of fortifications which Diocletian andhis colleagues had extended along the banks of the great rivers, was no longer maintained with the. same care, or defended with the same vigilance. The numbers which still remained under the name of the troops of the frontier, might be sufficient for the ordinary defence: but their spirit was degraded by the humiliating reflection, that they who were exposed to the hardships and dangers of a perpetual warfare, were rewarded only with about two-thirds of the pay and emoluments which were lavished on the troops of the court. Even the bands or regions that were raised the nearest to the level of those unworthy favourites, were in some measure disgraced by the title of honour which they were allowed to assume. It was in vain that Constantine repeated the most dreadful menaces of fire and sword against the borderers who should dare to desert their colours, to connive at the inroads of the barbarians, or to participate in the spoil.0 The mischiefs which flow from injudicious counsels are seldom removed by the application of partial severities; and though succeeding princes laboured to restore the strength and
"Ferox erat in Sugs miles et rapax, ignavus vero in hostes et fractus. Amman. lib. JJ. c. 4. He observes, that they love downy beds and houses of marble; and that their cups were heavier than their swords.
0 Cod. Theod. lib. 7. tit 1. leg. 1. tit. 1J. leg. 1. See HoweU's Hist. of the World, vol. 2. p. 19. That learned historian, who is not sufficiently known, labours to justify the character and policy of Constaotinc.