Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

rested on other and surer ground, but to guard the frontiers of a vast population, amounting, as is calculated, to 120,000,000,* and inhabiting the very fairest regions of the earth, of which the great Mediterranean Sea was a sort of central and domestic lake. But this army itself, thus moderate in number, was not, as a rule, stationed in cities, but in fixed quarters on the frontiers as a guard against external foes.† Thus, for instance, the whole interior of Gaul possessed a garrison of but 1200 men; that Gaul which, in the year 1860, in a time of peace, thought it necessary for internal tranquillity and external rank and security, to have 626,000 men in arms. Again, Asia Minor had no military force: that most beautiful region of the earth teemed with princely cities, enjoying the civilisation of a thousand years, and all the treasures of art and industry, in undisturbed repose. And within its unquestioned boundaries the spirit, moreover, of Roman rule was far other than that of a military discipline, or of a bureaucracy and a police pressing with ever watchful suspicion on every spring of civil life. The principle of its government was not that no population could be faithful which was not kept in leading-strings, but rather to leave cities and corporations to manage their own affairs themselves. Thus, its march was firm and strong, as one whose empire was assured, but for this very reason devoid alike of fickleness and haste. * Under the

• By Gibbon estimated at 120,000,000 ; by Döllinger (Heidenthum und Judenthum, i.) at about 100,000,000.

† Champagny, iii. 386.

| The Daily Telegraph, on August 20, 1864, calculated the number of men in arms in Europe, in a time of peace, at 5,000,000; the calculation being taken from the budgets of the several countries. The revenues of these countries were estimated at 314,000,0001., of which their armies and navies cost 123,000,0001. a year.

peace of so vast an empire, guarded rather by the majesty of the Roman name than by the amount of force employed, the inhabitants of three continents, with ready transit by roads, canals, rivers, and the great central sea at their command, had unexampled facilities of commerce. No theory of free trade could equal the advantages arising from unity of empire: for the public tranquillity being maintained at so slight a cost, this vast dominion was free from a large part of that burden of taxation which presses on modern industry, when the penalty of past wars is felt during even the uncertain periods of intermittent peace. Far indeed was the

рах

Romana removed from that armed jealousy of rival nations, the sole resource of the world after the forfeiture of its spiritual unity, which is termed the balance of

Then, on the contrary, from the Rhine and Danube to the deserts of Africa, from utmost Spain to the Euphrates, no war, nor suspicion of war, could arise. Of such a period Tertullian wrote:

power.

• Döllinger, Heid. und Jud., i. 34-5. Champagny, iii. 100, gives the disposition of the army.

“ The world itself is opened up, and becomes from day to day more civilised, and increases the sum of human enjoyment. Every place is reached, is become known, is full of business. Solitudes, famous of old, have changed their aspects under the richest cultivation. The plough has levelled forests, and the beasts that prey on man have given place to those that serve him. Corn waves on the sea-shore; rocks are opened out into roads; marshes

Irained; cities are more numerous now than villages in former time. The island has lost its savageness, and the cliff its desolation. Houses spring up every where, and men to dwell in them. On all sides are government and life. What better proof can we have of the multiplication of our race than that man is become a drug, while the very elements scarcely meet our needs; our wants outrun the supplies; and the complaint is general that we have exhausted even nature."*

And this Rome herself, the centre, the ruler, the presiding genius of the civilised world, she who, in the words of Strabo, “had taught humanity to man,”+—what was the life which she bestowed on her inhabitants? Judge of it by the gift of an emperor to his people: of such gifts there were many in Rome. A vast square, of more than a thousand feet, comprehended within

De Anima, 30; referred to by Champagny, iii. 196.

† See Champagny, iii. 200; Dandolo, Roma e i Papi, cap. iii. vol. i. 122.

its various courts three great divisions. One contained libraries, picture and sculpture galleries, music-halls, and every need for the cultivation of the mind. A second, courts for gymnastics, riding, wrestling, and every bodily exercise. A third, the baths: but how little the word associated with modern poverty conveys a notion of the thing! There were tepid, vapour, and swimming baths, accompanied with perfumes and frictions, giving the body an elastic suppleness. Then as to their material: alabaster vied with marble; mosaic pavements with ceilings painted in fresco; walls were incrusted in ivory, and a softened daylight reflected from mirrors; while on all sides a host of servants were engaged in the various offices of the bath. The afternoon siesta is over; a bell sounds; the Thermæ open. There all Rome assembles to chat, to criticise, to declaim. There is coffeehouse, theatre, exchange, palace, school, museum, parliament, and drawing-room in one. There is food for the mind, exercise and refreshment for the body. There, if any where, the eye can be satisfied with seeing and the ear with hearing, and every sense and every taste find but a too ready gratification. This feast of intellect, this palace of ancient power and art, is open daily without cost, or for the smallest coin, to every Roman citizen. Private wealth in modern times bestows a few of these gifts on a select number; but poor as well as rich could revel then, without fear of exhaustion, in this treasure-house of material civilisation. For all is the gift of the imperial delegate to the people whom he serves and represents. The establishment is a graceful homage offered by the chosen of the nation to his constituents, who, according to the theory, have invested him with the plenitude of their collective

power. Nor must we here forget the greatest gift which the Roman empire bestowed upon the human race-a system of equal law; a system which, in spite of the force from without, that at last broke up the empire, still lived on, was first the admiration of the barbarian conqueror, then instructed him, and finally subdued him to a willing homage. And that Roman law should thus have broadened out into an universal system of equal rights for all, is the more wonderful because at the beginning it treated the most elementary and necessary rights of man in society as in the strictest sense national, or rather civic privileges. If the Roman could legally marry, and possess the power of a husband and a father; if he could inherit, acquire, and transmit property, he could do all these things, not because he was a man, but because he was a citizen of Rome. The stranger residing within his borders could do none of them. But when, in the last century of the republic, Rome became a world-wide power, and was brought as a ruler into daily contact with the most different nations, each possessing their own customs, laws,

« PredošláPokračovať »