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menivate's ROMANS IINDER THE EMPIRE.* Aie original historian' who describes that which he has seen or has heard of from the actors, is the most secure from the sap of time. His judgment may be biassed by the factious prejudices or swayed by the opinions of his age, but he imparts life to his pages by pre- senting its manners and its mind, and his work thus possesses a vitality proportioned to his powers. Except in very rare eases, an historian who makes his work out of records loses his popularity when the philosophical fashion in which he wrote is out of date. Of all the ancient historians who drew- their materials from books only, Livy alone is a popular classic—" fnmilior in the mouth as household. words." The compilers (and we use the word in no de- preciatory sense) are valued for the facts they have preserved, rather than for themselves ; unless Paterculus be considered an ex- ception. Of modern historians of this class, who has outlived his century P though it may be predicted that Hume will continue to be read. for the easy felicitous style in which he presented. his original philosophy, and Gibbon for the ornately comprehensive composition in which he embalmed the vastness and variety of his learning.

There are two reasons for this depreciation of historical labour. The one is, that every epoch has its mode of judging of men, mo- tives, and events. The manner in which the ancient world and the morals of contemporary polities were regarded from the revival of learning to the consummation of the great revolutions that took place during the course of the seventeenth century, was very different from that of the century which succeeded; just as the undue de- preciation of everything ancient under the cold sceptical philoso- phy of Voltaire and Hume, widely differed from the opinions adopted now. Hence the world, which has a pretty quick sense of its wants, requires histories which not only embody any new dis- coveries as to facts, but which also tell people what they ought to *link about them. Unless this were done, the men of one century would think and talk like the schoolboys of another, and we should have the dagger of Brutus flourished from a frock-coat and trou- sers, when it was bad enough in a wig and. breeches. Even original Philosophy, opinions so founded in nature that they will outlast any change of mode, will scarcely support a waiter's popularity, though they preserve his name. He perishes by his own success. When his views are established, they become common property;. and the original discoverer is overlooked, unless he has ex.pounded, them with such felicity that his literary merit preserves his work.. Men talk about Niebuhr' and will continue to talk for generations to come ; but the skilful litterateur has for some time past been popularizing him, and may eventually supersede his books alto- gether for the world at large. For these reasons, a. competent history of the downfall of the Roman. Republic, of the establishment of the Empire, and of its efflorescent state, would be a justifiable work; for nothing of the kind has been attempted in the present age, save by Dr. Arnold in his early sketches for the Encyclopedia Metropolitana. Arnold, indeed, is the only writer who has told the story of the Roman Re- public in a style worthy of the theme, and death intercepted his kbours before he had, quite completed the second Punic war. Ifeek's book is a mere servile compilation from the ancient writers, the most credulous of whom he surpasses in credulity. Fergu- son's is a superior work, but composed in the spirit of the past; and though Goldsmith fulfilled Johnson's prediction and made the history of Rome as amusing as a fairy tale, yet a succinct and en- gaging narrative of facts from the accounts of the ancient writers was all that he aimed at. The period from the time of the Gracchi to the open sale of the sovereignty by the Prietorian guards, is one of the most important in the annals of civilization- and for Frigaisli readers, the larger portion of it has yet to be written. To supply that deficiency is the object of Mr. Merivale's His- of the Romans under the Empire. This work is designed to embrace the period from the end. of the Social war to the aban- donment of Rome by Constantine as the seat of empire. The first two volumes (all that is yet published) contain a sum- mary review of Roman history, in order to present the anther's ideas of the Roman character and constitution, and the political lessons which the history contains, before he enters upon the main subjects of his work. This preliminary survey &missed, the book becomes as much the life and times of Julius Caesar as the history of the period during- which he acted. The form, in- deed, LS historical : events in which Cresar was not concerned are narrated, portraits of all his more celebrated contemporaries are introduoed and. painted at length, nor are their actions by any means neglected; but Caner is made the principal figure of the piece from first to last. This is managed not only by a fuller display of that portion of the history with which the first Emperor was connected, but by bringing out the full importance of his actions while those of others are rather thrown into shadow, as well as by dwelling upon the principles which User upheld and steadily i kept in view throughout bis career. A similar exposition, indeed, s made in the case of Pom- pey, Cicero, and others, but not with such efect upon the reader.

This treatment of the general subject is indicative of the anthoes mind and the nature of his work. Re is more inclined to exposition than narrative, and better succeeds in it ; his history is rather a

• A History of the Romans under the Empire. By Charles Slerivale, B.D., late FeBene of St. Tohn'a College, Cambridge. Vols. I. and IL rublishcd by Longman and Co. philosophical review than a narrative epically toll Events are recorded clearly, eesily, suocinctly, and particular acts are occasion- ally presented with graphic force ; but the story does not strike or enchain the reader, nor does the author seem to regard it for itself, but for the principles or the philosophy it contains. This does not lead him to theorize in the usual sense of the term ; but we think it induces him to ascribe more to his ownview of the subject than the case warrants. That Cacsar read clearly enough the signs of the times, is shown by his success ; and his mighty genius is sufficiently proved by the manner in which he triumphed over all his competi- tors, great as many of them were. It may be doubted, whether, as Mr. Merivale will have it, he saw so clearly from the outset that the Republic was an empty form, the mere Roman an empty name; that the numerous nations under the Roman yoke required amalga- mation by an extension of privileges, and protection from the op- pression of provincial governors. and that these results could only be attained under a single ruler. It seems more likely that Cream., as Guizot says is the case with all men of action, was content to take events as they came, looking always to the advancement of his am- bitious objects, but guiding opportunities to an end, rather than planning a road to that end from the outset. If he really formed the project that Mr. Merivale, speakingwith the reigns of Augustus and his successors present to his mind, ascribes to him, he gave no indica- tions of taking steps to wiry it into effect when absolute power was within his grasp. We further doubt whether Cresar entertained the purpose chalked out for him; for we doubt its practicability. It required the further destruction of the nobles and the miseries of the Romans and their subjects, that followed the civil wars from- the death of Ctesar to that of Antony, to bring the minds of men tip the idea of a single ruler. Even then, the astute and politic Augus- tus felt it necessary to cover his despotism with the forms of liberty ; of which liberty, practically speaking he allowed a great deal. It was power railer than freedom that perished. under Augustus. This thorough intermingling of a theory with Mr. Merivale's whole work is a defect ; for a narrative history should present things as they appeared to contemporaries, and. the commentaries of a philosophical historian should. clearly be those of the writer. This objection, however, is only critical. The idea of makingCmsar the principal figure, on which the chief light fans, of rendering all other groups and actors subordinate to this main performer, and of continually ',resenting him as the representative of the Italian middle class and of equality of rights all over the world; gives a unity and an interest to the whole subject. The fault is that though the dramatic is not Mr. Merivale's forte,. he has made the downfall of the republic a sort of drama of judicious policy embodied in a leading actor; and has somewhat deviated from the reality in doing so. In the execution of his task, Mr. Merivale has of course con- sulted the contemporary and later classical authorities ; he has also had. recourse to modern Continental writers, and to Dr. Ar- nold. In the facts and their general interpretation he is well in- formed, and informs his reader ; but commentary and criticisra,, not facts and narrative, are the chief feature of the book. The old. Romans, their institutions and opinions,, are net only brought to the test (rather a severe one) of modern judgment, but they are described with a more modern or universal spirit. Mr.. Merivale penetrates beyond the husks of remote forms, to these manners and feelings which are essentially the same in men of the same character and condition: at the same time, he does not mo- dernize his style. The following account of Cresar in his eleva- tion, when success was turning his head, may be taken as an ex- ample of the composition. "More honours continued stall to be heaped upon_ the favourite of fortune- A decree was passed that Cesar should receive the designation of father of his country, the highest compliment a really free state could aver bestow upon a citizen. A second conferred upon him the style of impe:rator, not izr. the usual way as an appendage to his other names and titles, implying au- thority over the soldiers, but as a constant prefix to denote a permanent and more general application. His person was invested with legal sanctity, like that of the tribunes of the people ,- the consulship was assigned to him for ten. successive years; and to crown all, the office of dictator was confirmedtehim, for life. Other distinctions, which in modern times would be supposed_te gratify none but the most paltry vanity, received importance from the pram they field in the estimation of the people. Such were the triumphal robes which Cresar was solemnly authorized to wear on all oecsaioneda public, and the crown of laurel, which it was said was peculiarly acceptable to him tie conceal the premature loss of his hair. The right of coining money was as- signed to certain of the higher magistrates of the republic, and the noblest names of the nation of kings have thus been stamped upon the most durable of historic monuments. But Cresar's was the first human face which the Romans allowed to be impressed upon their coinage. This privilege, whick has since become one of the most distinctive marks of regal power, was fol- lowed by another of similar significance. Caesar had declined the offer of his Mends to form a body-guard for his personal protection; but the Senate adopted the sacred formula of swearing by his name, and. bound itself by a solemn oath to watch over his safety. Like most men who- have risen by their own notate a pretend unexpected elevation, Casar believedin destiny. But he threw himself upon it witha resolution and unreserve which no other perhaps has equalled. At every step of his ascent to power he was. rosily to stake his life upon his success, to become the User of Ins imaginatiosi or In perish ; and when he had attained the object of his aspirations, he wannolesa prepared to sacrifice existence to the full enjoyment of all its charms. Per- haps it was this consciousness that he must soon perish, and that his work must perish with him, that unnerved his arm for the execution of the Her- culean task of reconstructing the commonwealth. When his contemporaries observed the contemptuous indifference with which, living in the midst of perils, he renounced all armed protection, non took even the ordinary pre- cautions for the care of his health, they surmised that life had lost its interest for him, and had already lasted as long as he lidt it could conduce to his pleasure or glory. The extravagant visions in which he indulged, of isolated works of public utility, seem to betray the restlese and feverish ex=

aitement which gradually crept over him. He planned, it is said, the empty- ing of the lake Enemas, the draining of the Pontine marshes, the construction of a canal from Rome to Tarracina, of a new road across the Apennines, and of a magnificent harbour at Ostia, the erection of a superb temple to Mars, the cutting of the isthmus of Corinth; while at the same thaw his mind was wandering to the scenes of warfare with which it had. been so long familiar, and new visions of conquest were opening before him in grand but misty proportions. Meanwhile, the recklessness of his humour betrayed itself in a demeanour more and more haughty and contemptuous. Sella, he bluntly said, was a fool for resigning the dictatorship. But nothing • offended the senators more bitterly than his not rising from his seat to re- ceive them, when they came to communicate to him the honours they had lavished upon him in his absence. It was to the upstart foreigner Ballets that they were willing to attribute this wanton insult; the Spaniel* it was said, had plucked Cesar by the sleeve when he was about to nee to his visiters, and bade him remember that he was their master. The Romans, in . the progress of refinement among them, were very strict observers of social etiquette. Courteousness in its members one among another is the very essence of an aristocracy. Caesar had exacted due homage to himself with scrupulous precision. When his chariot passed in the triumphal procession by the bench occupied by the hibunes, one of them, byname Pontius.Aquila, had rudely kept his seat to mark his independence. The Dictator remarked bitterly on the affront ; and when any one came to him to solicit a favour, was wont to say ironically, i

confer t, as far as the tribune Pontius will suffer me.'

"Yet this pride and haughtiness, the fretful indications of a mind ill at ease within iteelf, were *;.11 tempered by gleams of the polished urbanity which had distinguished the accomplished statesman of earlier times. The true Roman gentleman was eminently a man of easy and conciliatory man- ners, of unaffected good humour and literary taste. His conversation sparkled with the most refined wit, or if at times his raillery would appear rude to modern idea', it served at least to exercise and enliven the general ecjuanimity of his temper. The practice of rhetorical discussion was a dis- cipline of forbearance' and taught men more genuine respect for each other's characters, as it gave them a deeper insight into them than the vapid gene- ' I-elides of our polite conversation. Such a gentleman was Caesar, such was Cicero."

Since the times which formed Voltaire and the other sceptics of that school both in France and. England, the exaggerated venera- tion for the ancients has declined, till opinion in many cases is perhaps disposed to their -undue depreciation. Mr. Merivale does not fall into any error as regards the powers or intellect of the ancients, and he makes a worldly allowance for their vices while he fully perceives them. To what is called. "character" he is net so tolerant, but brings the most renowned names of antiquity to an examination from which they emerge rather black. Such is his portrait of Brutes.

"If the conspirators and their principal instigator evincedany forethought, it was in seeking for their projected tynumicide the sanction of the name of Brutus. Adieus, who amidst the public commotions amused himself with ealogical studies, had flattered M..Tunius Brutus by tracing his descent

in a su.ppoeed third son of the founder of the republic, whose elder bro- thers perished, as was well known, childless by the axe of the lictor. Ser- vilia, the mother of Brutes, derived her lineage from the renowned Ahala, whose dagger had cut short the ambitious projects of Spurius Melina. But so far from inheriting the zeal of his imputed progenitor, the Brutna of the expiringrepublic had ecquiesced in Ciesar'a usurpation with less apparent reluctance than perhaps any other member of the Pompeian party. De- spondent in her hour of distress, he had been the last to join, the earliest to desert the erfurled banner of the republic. After Pharsalia he was the first to seek refuge. in the camp of the victor- in the city he was the foremost to court the friendship and. claim the eonficienceof the Dictator; he was zealous in serving his interests by the discharge of important offices - nor did he. blush to govern Ciaalpine Gaul for Caesar while his uncle still held Utica. against him. •A feeble panegyric of the sturdy sage whom he had abandoned, while he affected to adopt his principles and emulate his practice, seemed to. Brutus a sufficient tribute to his virtues. He disparaged the merits of Cicero and exalted the services of Cato in the suppression of Catalina- but both his depreciation and his praise were blown to the winds by the caustic irony of Cresar's reply. His consort Claudia he had divorced to espouse the philosopher's daughter Porde, a woman of more masculine spirit than his Own. But thus doubly connected with strength and virtue, Brutus failed nevertheless to acquire the firmness which nature had denied him. Al- though in his habits a professed student, he could not resolve to withdraw to the shades of philosophy from the fiery glare of a season of revolution.. The thirst of lucre still beset hira; the victor caressed and the vanquished courted him; he was a. greater man today than yesterday, and the path of official distinction seemed safe and flowery. With Brutus, by circumstances a revolutionary partisan, by temper a sophist, the conspiracy would never two originatert; the admission of his inherent weakness is the fairest ex- tenuation of his crime. But the deaths of all their more distinguished lead- ers had elevated him to undue importance among the remnant of his party_ Ins uncle's renown seemed to shed its light upon him, and he was supposed to inherit the political spirit of the hero whose disciple he had avowed him. self is the tranquil walks of science. The name of Brutus forced its pos- sessor into prominence as soon as royalty began to be discussed. The Roman cede were neither moralists nor genealogists, but they had imbibed from

e traditions of four hundred and fifty years an =reflecting horror of the mere title of King„ and admiration not less blind for the name of the first of the Consuls.

"The weakness of Brutus's character may be estimated by the means which were employed to work upon him. A bit of paper affixed to the statue of the ancient hero with the words 'Would thou west alive' ' billets thrust into his hand inscribed Brutus, thou sleepest," They. art no Brutus,' shook the End of the philosopher to its centre. His vanity had already been excited by a compliment attributed to Omar, which was no doubt reported to him, 'Brutes only waits for this dry i;kin ' ; implying that he of all the Romans was the most capable of succeeding to predminence. Cassius, who was brother-in-law to Brutus, and admitted to his familiar in- timacy, watched narrowly the effect of these incentives to his. ambitioxi, and led him gradually to the point at which he could venture to disclose the deed which was in contemplation. Brutes, adroitly plied, embraced the schemes of the conspirators, and assumed the place of chief adviser, which was, at least in appearance, tendered to him. The renowned name became at once

charm of magic potency. It raised the sick Ligarius from his bed. A par- doned partisan of Pompeius, the clemency of llar rankled in his bosom. How sad for Ligarius,' said Brutus to lam, to be disabled at math a mo- ment.' The sick man raised himself on his elbow and replied, If thou had any project worthy of Brutus, behold, I am well again. Ligarius was ad- mitted to the secret, and took an active part in the deed which followed."

The following sketch of Rome in art and literature exhibits the Name spirit; depreciatory, but sternly true. "The introduction of Grecian models of art and literature, which had so. honourably distinguished the age of Lcelius and Scipio, produced in fact a very imperfect effect upon the progress of the national mind. For half a century it seemed to be making a genuine impression upon a people far from deficient in natural sensibility, or incapable of appreciating the excel- lence of its originals. During that happier period, it seemed not idle to ex- pect that Rome might become a rival to her mistress and instructress, even m her own arts. But this fair prospect was overcast by the circumstanced that supervened. It might have been hoped that, as among other nations, so in Rome, the time had arrived when arms should give placate the pur- suits of peace, and thg fruits of youthful education have room and leisure to mature in riper years. But the destiny of the race of conquerors pre- vailed. Each succeeding generation became more immersed in war than its predecessor; the turbid strewn of military habits never mu itself clear; the camp continued to pour its sanguine flood into the silver current of hu- manity and letters. Even those individuals who were most celebrated for' their love of polite literature had little of that genuine devotion to it which courts retirement and rejoices in simplicity. The purity min of Citasro's. taste may be called in question, though he was far removed from the volup- tuous refinements we.1 enervate the mind and vitiate morality. But Lu- callus, and, the accomplished Grater Hortensius, second only to Cleexo among his contemporaries, a scholar and a wit no less than a pleader and debater, did more to degrade than to exalt the tastes they affectwl to patronize. The display. which Lucullus made of his libraries and galleries of art, throwing them open to public admiration, however much in advance of the real wants of the age, and calculated to create =ivy rather than gratitude, might yet be represented as a more magnanimous use of his wealth than. the vulgae profusion by which others of his order courted the favour of the multitude. But those who know him more intimately discovered how little real interest. he took in thesehonou.rable resources of dignified leisure. In his later years he withdrew himself almost entirely from public life, and seemed to devote all his languid energies to the imventiou of new refinements upon the luxury of the table. His example countenanced and oorrupted thole about him. One after another the nobles sank into a lethargy almost incomprehensible. The writers of a later period. have associated the proudest names of Rama with the preposterous novelties by which they amused their idleness. A. Gabinius, a Camlius, a Creases, were immortalized by the elegance of their dancing. A Luc us, a Horteneaus, a Philippus, estimated one another, not hp thein eloquence, their courage, or their virtue, but by the perfection of. their fish-ponds and the singularity of the breeds they nourished. They seemed to touch the sky with their finger, says their mortified advocate, it they had stocked their preserves with, bearded mullets, and had taught them to recognize their master's voices areicame to be fed.finm. their hsuid.s."