Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

produced a deep and formidable conspiracy, which was detected by the vigilance of Cicero, and hurried Catiline to open rebellion and death.

Still we find that internal discord was often silenced, when intelligence was brought to the city of hostile designs and movements. Such an alarm was sufficient to abate the anger of contending factions, and to unite every order in the firmnest union for the public service. The arrival of Hannibal in Italy, produced an immediate ceffation of all civil diffentions. The storm, which had raged at homne suddenly increased its violence, but changed its direction, and fell with redoubled fury upon the common enemy. ...

From the love of their country immediately refulted, in the purest times of the commonwealth, the facrifice of private interest to the public welfare. The Romans were aware that opulence, by the introduction of luxury, would disqualify them 'for the toils of war, and destroy that genuine patriotism which limits ambition to the fole desire of acting for the general good. They therefore efieemed poverty a virtue; and this, which in the first inhabitants of Rome was the effect of necessity, became among their descendants, for fome ages, an object of choice. They considered it as the sure guardian .of liberty, and oppored it to the encroachments of corruption. A Roman, during the purest times of the commonwealth, thought that frugality formed a part of his glory; and at the same time that he

exposed

exposed his life to every danger, in order to fill the public treasury, he performed military service at first for no stipend, and afterwards for a finall one. Every one thought himself sufficiently opulent in the riches of the state, and would have esteemed it unworthy of his high character to require any compensation beyond that which was necessary for his bare fubfistence, from the service with which his country had honoured him, and which he performed to fill her treasures, and not to amass his own. Thus disinterested he fought for glory, not for plunder; and after the expiration of his campaigns, he was content to engage in the employments and practise the eco. nomy of the humbleft of his countrymen. Regulus requested permission from the senate to return from the command of his army to cultivate his little farm ; and Paulus Æmilius, who filled Rome with the rich spoils of Macedon, died without sufficient money to defray the expences of his funeral o.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

CHAPTER 1X.

The Subject continued.

THE. caules stated in the preceding chapter had the greatest influence upon the sentiments and the conduct of the Romans, both at home and abroad, established their military character, and raised them by flow degrees to the summit of dominion.

[ocr errors]

Vain were the efforts of the people of Italy to relift them; and the successive attacks of the fovereigns of Macedon, Syria, and Egypt, were equally fruitless. The disgraceful capitulation of the legions in the straights of Caudium, the near approach of Coriolanus to Rome at the head of the Volsci, were productive of no permanent advantage to the conquerors. The armies of the republic were often compelled to fly, or to surrender, and were fometimes reduced to the most humiliating distress. But the severest repulses tended only to give a new spring to their exertions. The impetuous fury of the Gauls, and the alacrity of Pyrrhus, made indeed a temporary impression; but they could not finally prevail, At one time Terentius Varro was slain at Cannæ, at another Cneius and Publius Scipio were cut off, in Spain; their forces were routed, and the braveft of their troops were slain; but the cou

rage

rage of the senate and the people was still firm and undaunted; the fpirit of their institutions cherished it, and their exertions were too much the result of calm intrepidity and confirmed habit, to be difconcerted by the fall of a general, the overthrow of an army, or the suspension of a triumph Victory was fometimes capricious in the distribution of her favours; the few to give transient success to other nations, and swelled their minds with delusive hopes of conqueft. But most propitious to discipline, valour, and perseverance, the failed not finally to encircle with her umfading laurel the brows of her darling Romans.

• In the Carthaginians we behold their most formidable enemies. They were the only people, who, by their courage, opulence, territories, and resources, seemed capable of contending with them for empire, with any profpect of success. Their

tran

For an accurate account of the constitution, laws, commerce, and dominions of Carthage, see Ferguson's Roman Republic, vol. i. p. 88. Into one chapter of moderate length he has compressed the memorable transactions of the second Punic war, p. 106. The account of the battle of Cannæ is detailed with fingular precision and perspicuity..

Polybius has drawn a concise but striking contrast between the flourithing condition of Rome, and the declining state of Carthage, at the commencement of the first Punic war. Lib. vi. fect. 49. &c. See Ariftot. de Republica, lib. ii. cap. 9. Polybius supplied Livy with much information relative to the . Punic wars. Livy has not only adopted, in many instances, bis statement of facts, but even has literally translated his

Ee4

[ocr errors]

literalls

expref

an

transactions and wars form one of the most in: teresting portions of the history we are now con: fidering. But unfortunately for their fame, and the wishes of posterity, the chief accounts of their history are recorded by their enemies. The Roman historians take delight in placing all their tran, sactions in the most unfavourable light, and asperse their charaéter with some of the most odious imputations. They ftigmatize their perfidy by the ex: pression of Punica fides; and to throw the greatest dishonour upon the character of Hannibal, Livy aferibes to him perfidiæ plus quam Punica, although the actions which he relates, do not justify the charge. Nor are the Greek writers totally free from an unfavourable bias, and the influence of fimilar prejudices. The most iinpartial and full detail of their government, laws, arts, manners, and institutions, would have been peculiarly interesting to Britain, as they rose to dominion and opulence by the power of their navy, and the extent of their colonies and commerce. During the second Punic war, the full energy of both nations was drawn forth into action. Hannibal combined in his character all the qualifications of

expressions. As an acknowledgment for such obligations, he 'has merely mentioned Polybius in such terms as these: " haudquaquam fpernendus auctor,” and “ non incertum auctorem.” . Liv. lib. xxx. C. 45. and lib. xxxii. c. 10, I am inclined however to admit the reasons brought by Drakenborch, tom. iv. p. 506. for fupposing that these exprellions were intended to convey sentimients of respect, ¢ B. C. 2:0.

,

a con

« ElőzőTovább »