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by a favourite eunuch, who, in the language of that age, The cham-was styled the pr(Epositus or prefect of the sacred wiain. bedchamber. His duty was to attend the emperor in his hours of state, or in those of amusement, and to perform about his person all those menial services which can only derive their splendour from the influence of royalty. Under a prince who deserved to reign, the great chamberlain (for such we may call him) was a useful and an humble domestic; but an artful domestic, who improves every occasion of unguarded confidence, will insensibly acquire over a feeble mind that ascendant which harsh wisdom and uncomplying virtue can seldom obtain. The degenerate grandsons of Theodosius, who were invisible to their subjects and contemptible to their enemies, exalted the prefects of their bedchamber above the heads of all the ministers of the palace;0 and even his deputy, the first of the splended train of slaves who waited in the presence, was thought worthy to rank before the respectable proconsuls of Greece or Asia. The jurisdiction of the chamberlain was acknowledged by the counts, or superintendants, who regulated the two important provinces, of the magnificence of the wardrobe, The mas- ^^ o^^e luxury of the imperial table.d 2. The terofthe principal administration of public affairs was committed to the diligence and abilities of the master of the offices." He was the supreme magistrate of the palace, inspected the discipline of the civil and military schools, and received appeals from all parts of the empire; in the causes which related to that numerous army of privileged persons, who, as the servants of the court, had obtained, for themselves and families, a right to decline the authority of the ordinary judges. The correspondence between the prince and his subjects was managed by the four scrinia, or offices of this minister of state. The first was appropriated to memorials, the second to epistles, the third to petitions, and the fourth to papers and orders of a miscellaneous kind. Each of these was directed by an inferior master of respectable dignity, and the whole business was dispatched by a hundred and forty-eight secretaries, chosen for the most part from the profession of the law, on account of the variety of abstracts of reports and references which frequently occurred in the exercise of their several functions. From a condescension, which in former ages would have been esteemed unworthy of the Roman majesty, a particular secretary was allowed for the Greek language; and interpreters were appointed to receive the ambassadors of the barbarians: but the department of foreign affairs, which constitutes so essential a part of modern policy, seldom diverted the attention of the master of the offices. His mind was more seriously engaged by the general direction of the posts and arsenals of the empire. There were thirty-four cities, fifteen in the east, and nineteen in the west, in which regular companies of workmen were perpetually employed in fabricating defensive armour, offensive weapons of all sorts, and military engines, which were deposited in the arsenals, and occasionally delivered for the service of the Top troops. 3. In the course of nine centuries, the Quaator. omce Of qucestorh&d experienced a very singular revolution. In the infancy of Rome two inferior magistrates were annually elected by the people, to relieve the consuls from the invidious management of the public treasure," a similar assistant was granted to every pro
« Cod. Theod. lib. 6. tit. 8.
4 By a very singular metaphor, borrowed from the military character of the first emperors, the steward of their household was styled the count of their camp (comet castrensis). Cassiodorius very seriously represents to him, that his own fame, and that of the empire, must depend on the opinion which foreign ambassadors may conceive of the plenty and magnificence of the royal table. (Variar. lib. 6. epistol. 9.)
« Gutherius (de Officiis Domus Augustae, lib. 2. c. 20. lib. 3.) has very accurately explained the functions of the master of the offices, and the constitution of his subordinate icrinia. But he vainly attempts, on the most doubtful authority, to deduce from the time of the Antonines, or even of Nero, the origin of a magistrate who cannot be found in history before the reign of Constantine.
'Tacitus (Annal. 11. 22.) says, that the first quaestors were elected by the people, sixty-four years after the foundation of the republic; but he is of opinion, that they had, long before that period, been annually appointed by the consuls, and even by the kings. But this obscure point of antiquity is contested by other writers.
consul, and to every praetor, who exercised a military or provincial command; with the extent of conquest, the two quaestors were gradually multiplied to the number of four, of eight, of twenty, and, for a short time, perhaps, of forty ;e and the noblest citizens ambitiously solicited an office which gave them a seat in the senate, and a just hope of obtaining the honours of the republic. Whilst Augustus affected to maintain the freedom of election, he consented to accept the annual privilege of recommending, or rather indeed of nominating, a certain proportion of candidates; and it was his custom to select one of these distinguished youths to read his orations or epistles in the assemblies of the senate.11 The practice of Augustus was imitated by succeeding princes; the occasional commission was established as a permanent office; and the favoured quaestor, assuming a new and more illustrious character, alone survived the suppression of his ancient and useless colleagues.1 As the orations, which he composed in the name of the emperor/ acquired the force, and at length, the form, of absolute edicts, he was considered as the representative of the legislative power, the oracle of the council, and the original source of the civil jurisprudence. He was sometimes invited to take his seat in the supreme judicature of the imperial consistory, with the prastorian prefects, and the master of the offices; and he was frequently requested to resolve the doubts of inferior judges: but as he was not oppressed with a variety of sub-1 ordinate business, his leisure and talents were employed to cultivate that dignified style of eloquence, which, in the corruption of taste and language, still preserves the majesty of the Roman laws.1 In some respects, the office of the imperial quaestor may be compared with that of a modern chancellor; but the use of a great seal, which seems to have been adopted by the illiterate barbarians, was never introduced to attest the public acts of the emperors. 4. The extraordinary title of count of the sacred The public largesses was bestowed on the treasurer-general treasurer. of the revenue, with the intention perhaps of inculcating, that every payment flowed from the voluntary bounty of the monarch. To conceive the almost infinite detail of the annual expense of the civil and military administration in every part of a great empire, would exceed the powers of the most vigorous imagination. The actual account employed several hundred persons, distributed into eleven different offices, which were art fully contrived to examine and control their respective operations. The multitude of these agents had a natural tendency to increase; and it was more than once thought expedient to dismiss to their native homes the useless supernumeraries, who, deserting their honest labours, had pressed with too much eagerness into the lucrative proparent of the empire. Trajan entrusted the same care to Hadrian, his quaestor and cousin. See Dodwell Praelection. Campden, 10,11. p. 36?—394. 1 -• Terris edicta daturus;
i' Tacitus (Annal. 11. 22.) seems to consider twenty ns the highest number of quarters; and Dion. (lib. 43. p. 374.) insinuates, that if the dictator Caesar once created forty, it was only to facilitate the payment of an immense debt of gratitude. Yet the augmentation which he had made of praetors subsisted under the succeeding reigns.
'1 Sueton. in August, c. 65. and Torrent, ad loc. Dion. Cas. p. 755.
'The youth and inexperience of the quaestors, who entered on that important office in their twenty-fifth year, (Lips. Excurs. ad Tacit. lib. 3. D.) engaged Augustus to remove them from the management of the treasury ; and though they were restored by Claudius, they seem to have been finally dismissed by Nero. (Tacit. Annal. M. 39. Sueton. in Aug. c. 56. is Claud, c. 24. Dion, p. 696—961, &c. PI in. Epistol. 10. 20. et alibi.) In the provinces of the imperial division, the place of the quaestors was more ably supplied by the procurators, (Dion. Cas. p. 707. Tacit. in Vit Agricol. c. 15.) or, as they were afterward called, rationales. (Hist. August. p. 130.) But in the provinces of the senate we may still discover a series of quaestors till the reign of Marcus Antoninus. (See the Inscriptions of Gruter, the Epistles of Pliny, and a decisive fact in the Augustan History, p. 64.) From Ulpian we may learn, (Pandect. lib. 1. tit. 13.) that under the government of the house of Severus, their provincial administration was abolished; and in the subsequent troubles, the annual or triennial elections of quaestors must have naturally ceased.
k Cum patris nomine et epistolas ipse dictaret, et edicta conscriberet, orationesque in senatu recitaret, etiam quaestoris vice. (Sueton. in Tit. c. 6.) The office must have acquired new dignity, which was occasionally executed by the heir-ap
Supplicibus responsa.—Oracula regis.
Kloquio crevere tuo; nee dignius unquam
Majestas meminit sese Romana locutam.
Claudian in Consulat. Mall. Theodor. 33. See likewise Symmachus (epistol. 1.17. and CasaiodohuE. (Varier. 6. 5.)
fession of the finances m Twenty-nine provincial receivers, of whom eighteen were honoured with the title of count, corresponded .with the treasurer; and he extended his jurisdiction over the mines from whence the precious metals were extracted, over the mints, in which they were converted into the current coin, and over the public treasuresof the most importantcities, where they were deposited for the service of the state. The foreign trade of the empire was regulated by this minister, who directed likewise all the linen and woollen manufactures, in which the successive operations of spinning, weaving, and dying, were executed, chiefly by women of a servile condition, for the use of the palace and army. Twenty-six of these institutions are enumerated in the west, where the arts had been more recently introduced, and a still larger proportion may be allowed for the industrious provinces of The privatetne east-n 5. Besides the public revenue, which treasurer. an absolute monarch might levy and expend according to his pleasure, the emperors, in the capacity of opulent citizens, possessed a very extensive property, which was administered by the count, or treasurer of the private estate. Some part had perhaps been the ancient demesnes of kings and republics; some accessions might be derived from the families which were successively invested with the purple; but the most considerable portion flowed from the impure source of confiscations and forfeitures. The imperial estates were scattered through the provinces, from Mauritania to Britain; but the rich and fertile soil of Cappadocia tempted the monarch to acquire in that country his fairest possessions," and either Constantine or his successors embraced the occasion of justifying avarice by religious zeal. They suppressed
m Cod. Theod. lib. 6. tit M. Cod. Justinian. lib. 12. tit. ea. • In the departments of the two counts of the treasury, the eastern part of the Kotitia happens to be very defective. It may be observed, that we had a treasure chest in London, and a gyneceum or manufacture at Winchester. But Britain was not thought worthy either of a mint or of an arsenal. Gaul alone possessed three of the former, and eight of the latter.
» Cod. Theod. lib. 6. tit. M. leg. S. and Godefroy ad loc.