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A collection consisting exclusively of war- 1 of the Patrician money-lenders. Children often songs would give an imperfect, or rather an became slaves in consequence of the misfor erroneous notion of the spirit of the old Latin tunes of their parents. The debtor was impri. ballads. The Patricians, during about a cen- soned, not in a public jail under the care of tury and a half after the expulsion of the impartial public functionaries, but in a private kings, held all the high military commands. A workhouse belonging to the creditor. FrighiPlebeian, even though, like Lucius Siccius, he ful stories were told respecting these dungeons. were distinguished by his valour and know- It was said that torture and brutal violation ledge of war, could serve only in subordinate were common; that tight stocks, heavy chains, posts. A minstrel, therefore, who wished to scanty measures of food, were used to punish celebrate the early triumphs of his country, wretches guilty of nothing but poverty; and could hardly takz any but Patricians for his that brave soldiers, whose breasts were con heroes. The warriors who are mentioned in vered with honourable scars, were often markthe two preceding lays, Horatius, Lartius, Her- ed still more deeply on the back by the scourges minius, Aulus Posthumius, Æbutius Elva, Sem- of high-born usurers. pronius Atratinus, Valerius Poplicola, were all The Plebeians were, however, not wholly members of the dominant order; and a poet without constitutional rights. From an early who was singing their praises, whatever his period they had been admitted to some share own political opinions might be, would natu- of political power. They were enrolled in the rally abstain from insulting the class to which centuries, and were allowed a share, considerthey belonged, and from reflecting on the sys- able though not proportioned to their numerical tem which had placed such men at the head of strength, in the disposal of those high dignities the of the commonwealth.

from which they were themselves excluded. But there was a class of compositions in Thus their position bore some resemblance io which the great families were by no means so that of the Irish Catholics during the interval courteously treated. No parts of early Roman between the year 1792 and the year 1829. The history are richer with poetical colouring than Plebeians had also the privilege of annually those which relate to the long contest between appointing officers, named Tribunes, who had the privileged houses and the commonalty. no active share in the government of the ComThe population of Rome was, from a very early monwealth, but who, by degrees, acquired a period, divided into hereditary castes, which, power which made them formidable even to the indeed, readily united to repel foreign enemies, ablest and most resolute Consuls and Dicta. but which regarded each other, during many tors. The person of the Tribune was inviolayears, with bitter animosity. Between those ble; and, though he could directly effect little, castes there was a barrier hardly less strong he could obstruct every thing. than that which, at Venice, parted the mem- During more than a century after the institubers of the Great Council from their country- tion of the Tribuneship, the Commons strug. men. In some respects indeed, the line which gled manfully for the removal of grievances separated an Icilius or a Duilius from a Post- under which they laboured; and, in spite of humius or a Fabius was even more deeply many checks and reverses, succeeded in marked than that which separated the rower wringing concession after concession from the of a gondola from a Contarini or a Morosini. stubborn aristocracy. At length, in the year At Venice the distinction was merely civil. At of the city 378, both parties mustered their Rome it was both civil and religious. Among whole strength for their last and most desperate the grievances under which the Plebeians suf- conflict. The popular and active Tribune, sered, three were felt as peculiarly severe. Caius Licinius, proposed the three memorable They were excluded from the highest magis- laws which are called by his name, and which tracies; they were excluded from all share in were intended to redress the three great evils the public lands; and they were ground down of which the Plebeians complained. He was to the dust by partial and barbarous legislation supported, with eminent ability and firmness, touching pecuniary contracts. The ruling | by his colleague, Lucius Sextius. The strug. class in Rome was a moneyed class; and it gle appears to have been the fiercest that ever made and administered the laws with a view in any community terminated without an apo solely to its own interest. Thus the relation peal to arms. If such a contest had raged in between lender and borrower was mixed up any Greek city, the streets would have run with the relation between sovereign and sub. with blood. But, even in the paroxysms of ject. The great men held a large portion of the faction, the Roman retained his gravity, his community in dependence by means of ad- respect for law, and his tenderness for the lives vances at enormous usury. The law of debt, of his fellow-citizens. Year after year Licinius framed by creditors, and for the protection of and Sextius were re-elected Tribunes. Year creditors, was the most horrible that has ever after year, if the narrative which has come been known among men. The liberty, and down to us is to be trusted, they continued to er en the life, of the insoivent were at the mercy exert, to the full extent, their power of stopping

the whole machine of government. No curule truth, naturally from the constitution of the magistrates could be chosen; no military mus. Roman government and from the spirit of the ter could be held. We know too little of the Roman people ; and, though it submitted to state of Rome in those days to be able to con- metrical rules derived from Greece, it retained jecture how, during thai long anarchy, the to the last its essentially Roman character. Lu. peace was kept, and ordinary justice adminis- cilius was the earliest satirist whose works iered between man and man. The animosity were held in esteem under the Cæsars. But, of both parties rose to the greatest height. The many years before Lucilius was born, Nævius excitement, we may well suppose, would have had been flung into a dungeon, and guarded been peculiarly intense at the annual election there with circumstances of unusual rigour of Tribunes. On such occasions there can be till the Tribunes interfered in his behall, on little doubt that the great families did all that account of the bitter lines in which he had aicould be done, by threats and caresses, to tacked the great Cæcilian family.* The gebreak the union of the Plebeians. That union, nius and spirit of the Roman satirists survived however, proved indissoluble. At length the the liberties of their country, and were not exgood cause triumphed. The Licinian laws tinguished by the cruel despotism of the Julian were carried. Lucius Sextius was the first and Flavian emperors. The great poet who Plebeian Consul, Caius Licinius the third. told the story of Domitian's turbot was the

The results of this great change were singu- legitimate successor of those forgotten min. larly happy and glorious. Two centuries of strels whose songs animated the factions of prosperity, harmony, and victory followed the the infant Republic. reconciliation of the orders. Men who re- Those minstrels, as Niebuhr has remarked, membered Rome engaged in waging petty appear to have generally taken the popular wars almost within sight of the Capitol lived side. We can hardly be mistaken in supposto see her the mistress of Italy. While the ing that, at the great crisis of the civil conflici, disabilities of the Plebeians continued, she was they employed themselves in versifying all the scarcely able to maintain her ground against most powerful and virulent speeches of the the Volscians and Hernicans. When those Tribunes, and in heaping abuse on the chiet's disabilities were removed, she rapidly became of the aristocracy. Every personal deseci, more than a match for Carthage and Ma- every domestic scandal, every tradition discedon.

honourable to a noble house, would be sought During the great Licinian contest the fic. out, brought into notice, and exaggerated. The beian poets were, doubtless, not silent. Even illustrious head of the aristocratical party, in modern times songs have been by no means Marcus Furius Camillus, might perhaps be, in without influence on public affairs; and we some measure, protected by his venerable age may therefore infer, that, in a society where and by the memory of his great services to the printing was unknown, and where books were But Appius Claudius Crassus enjoyed rare, a pathetic or humorous party-ballad no such immunity. He was descended froin must have produced effects such as we can a long line of ancestors distinguished by their but faintly conceive. It is certain that satiri- haughty demeanour, and by the inflexibility cal poems were common at Rome from a very with which they had withstood all the demands early period. The rustics who lived at a dis- of the Plebeian order. While the political contance from the seat of government, and took duct and the deportment of the Claudian nolittle part in the strife of factions, gave vent to bles drew upon them the fiercest public hatred, their petty local animosities in coarse Fescen- they were wanting, if any credit is due to the nine verse. The lampoons of the city were early history of Rome, in a class of qualities doubtless of a higher order; and their sting which, in a military Commonwealth, is sylliwas early felt by the nobility. For in the cient to cover a multitude of effences. Severaj Twelve Tables, long before the time of the of them appear to have been eloquent, verseil Licinian laws, a severe punishment was de- in civil business, and learned after the fashion nounced against the citizen who should com- of their age; but in war they were not distin. pose or recite verses reflecting on another.* guished by skill or valour. Some of them, as Satire is, indeed, the only sort of composition if conscious where their weakness lay, hail, in which the Latin poets, whose works have when filling the highest magistracies, taken come down to us, were not mere imitators of internal administration as their department of foreign models; and it is therefore the only public business, and left the military com sort of composition in which they had never mand 10 their colleagues.f One of them hai. been rivalled. It was not, like their tragedy, been intrusted with an army, and hail failed their comedy, their epic and lyric poetry, a ignominiously. None of them had been hot-house plant which, in return for assiduous honoured with a triumph. None of them hau and skilful culture, yielded only scanty and achieved any martial exploit

, such as those by sickly fruits. It was hardy, and full of sap; which Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, Titus and in all the various juices which it yielded Quinctius Capitolinus, Aulus Cornelius Cossus, might be distinguished the flavour of the Au- and, above all, the great Camillus, had extorted sonian soil. “Satire,” said Quintilian, with the reluctant esteem of the multitude. During just pride, “is all our own.” It sprang, in the Licinian conflict, Appius Claudius Crassus

* Cicero justly infers from this law that there had signalized himself by the ability and severity been early Latin poets whose woks had been logt be with which he harangued against he iwi fore his time. “Quamquam id quidem etiam xii tabula declarant; condi jain tum solitum esse carmen, quod * Plautus, Miles Gloriosus. ne liceret fleri ad alterius injuriam lege sanxerunt.".. # In the years of the city 260, 304, and 33C

# In the year of the city 252.

3 A 2


Aulus Gelling iii 3

Tusc. iv. 2.


great agitators. He would naturally, there- | Tribuneship was re-established; and Appius fore, be the favourite mark of the Plebeian escaped the hands of the executioner only by satirists; nor would they have been at a loss a voluntary death. to find a point on which he was open to It can hardly be doubted that a story so ad. attack.

mirably adapted to the purposes both of the His grandfather, named like himself, Appius poet and of the demagogue would be eagerly Claudius, had left a name as much detested seized upon by minstrels burning with hatred as that of Sextus Tarquinius. He had been against the Patrician order, against the ClauConsul more than seventy years before the dian house, and especially against the grandson introduction of the Licinian laws. By availing and namesake of the infamous Decemvir. himself of a singular crisis in public feeling, In order that the reader may judge fairly of he had obtained the consent of the Commons these fragments of the lay of Virginia, he must lo the abolition of the Tribuneship, and had imagine himself a Plebeian who has just voted been the chief of that Council of Ten to which for the re-election of Sextius and Licinius. All the whole direction of the State had been com- the power of the Patricians has been exerted mitted. In a few months his administration to throw out the two great champions of the had become universally odious. It was swept Commons. Every Posthumius, Æmilius, and away by an irresistible outbreak of popular Cornelius has used his influence to the utmost. fury; and its memory was still held in abhor. Debtors have been let out of the work houses rence by the whole city. The immediate on condition of voting against the men of the cause of the downfall of this execrable govern- people; clients have been posted to hiss and ment was said to have been an attempt made interrupt the favourite candidates; Appius by Appius Claudius on the chastity of a beau- Claudius Crassus has spoken with more than tiful young girl of humble birth. The story his usual eloquence and asperity; all has been ran, that the Decemvir, unable to succeed by in vain ; Licinius and Sextus have a fifth time bribes and solicitations, resorted to an outrage- carried all the tribes; work is suspended; the ous act of tyranny. A vile dependant of the booths are closed; the Plebeians bear on their Claudian house laid claim to the damsel as his shoulders the two champions of liberty through slave. The cause was brought before the tri- the Forum. Just at this moment it is an. bunal of Appius. The wicked magistrate, in nounced that a popular poet, a zealous adherent defiance of the clearest proofs, gave judgment of the Tribunes, has made a new song which for the claimant; but the girl's father, a brave will cut the Claudian family to the heart. The soldier, saved her from servitude and disho-crowd gathers round him, and calls on him to nour by stabbing her to the heart in the sight recite it. He takes his stand on the spot of the whole Forum. That blow was the sig. where, according to tradition, Virginia, more val for a general explosion. Camp and city than seventy years ago, was seized by the rose at once; the Ten were pulled down; the l pander of Appius, and he begins his story.




Ye good men of the Commons, with loving hearts and true,
Who stand by the bold Tribunes that still have stood by you,
Come, make a circle round me, and mark my tale with care,
A tale of what Rome once hath borne; of what Rome yet may bear.
This is no Grecian fable, of fountains running wine,
Of maids with snaky tresses, or sailors turned to swine.
Here, in this very Forum, under the noonday sun,
In sight of all the people, the bloody deed was done.
Old men still creep among us who saw that fearful day,
Just seventy years and seven ago, when the wicked Ten bare sway.

Of all the wicked Ten still the names are held accursed,
And of all the wicked Ten, Appius Claudius was the worst.
He stalked along the Forum like King Tarquin in his pride:
Twelve axes waited on him, six marching on a side ;
The townsmen shrank to right and left, and eyed askance with fear
His lowering brow, his curling mouth which alway seemed to sneer:
That brow of hate, that mouth of scorn, marks all the kindred still;
For never was there Claudius yet but wished the Commons ill:
Nor lacks he fit attendance ; for close behind his heels,
With outstretched chin and crouching pace, the client Marcus steals,

His loins girt up to run with speed, be the errand what it may,
And he smile flickering on his cheek, for aught his lord may sav.
Buch varlets pimp and jest for hire among the lying Greeks:
Such varlets still are paid to hoot when brave Licinius speaks.
Where'er ye shed the honcy, the buzzing flies will crowd;
Where'er ye fling the carrion, the raven's croak is loud;
Where'er down Tiber garbage floats, the greedy pike ye see;
And wheresoe'er such lord is found, such client still will be.

Just then, as through one cloudless chink in a black stormy sky Bhines out the dewy morning-star, a fair young girl came by. With her small tablets in her hand, and her satchel on her arm, Home she went bounding from the school, nor dreamed of shame or harm And past those dreaded axes she innocently ran, With bright, frank brow that had not learned to blush at gaze of man; And up the Sacred Street she turned, and, as she danced along, She warbled gayly to herself lines of the good old song, How for a sport the princes came spurring from the camp, And found Lucrece, combing the fleece, under the midnight lamp. The maiden sang as sings the lark, when up he darts his flight, From his nest in the green April corn, to meet the morning light; And Appius heard her sweet young voice, and saw her sweet young face, And loved her with the accursed love of his accursed race, And all along the Forum, and up the Sacred Street, His vulture eye pursued the trip of those small glancing feet.

Over the Alban mountains the light of morning broke;
From all the roofs of the Seven Hills curled the thin wreaths of smoke:
The city gates were opened; the Forum, all alive,
With buyers and with sellers was humming like a hive.
Blithely on brass and timber the craftsman's stroke was ringing,
And blithely o'er her panniers the market-girl was singing,
And blithely young Virginia came smiling from her home:
Ah! wo for young Virginia, the sweetest maid in Rome!
With her small tablets in her hand, and her satchel on her arm,
Forth she went bounding to the school, nor dreamed of shame or harm.
She crossed the Forum shining with stalls in alleys gay,
And just had reached the very sput whereon I stand this day,
When up the varlet Marcus came; not such as when erewhile
He crouched behind his patron's heels with the true client smile:
He came with lowering forehead, swollen features, and clenched fist,
And strode across Virginia's path, and caught her by the wrist.
Hard strove the frighted maiden, and screamed with look aghast;
And at her scream from right and left the folk came running fast;
The money-changer Crispus, with his thin silver hairs,
And Hanno from the stately booth glittering with Punic wares,
And the strong smith Muræna, grasping a half-forged brand,
And Volero the flesher, his cleaver in his hand.
All came in wrath and wonder; for all knew that fair child;
And, as she passed them twice a day, all kissed their hands and smiled;
And the strong smith Muræna gave Marcus such a blow,
The caitiff reeled three paces back, and let the maiden go.
Yet glared he fiercely round him, and growled in harsh, fell tone,
" She's mine, and I will have her. I seek but for mine own:
She is my slave, born in my house, and stolen away and sold,
The year of the sore sickness, ere she was twelve hours old.
'Twas in the sad September, the month of wail and fright,
Two augurs were borne forth that morn; the Consul died ere night.
I wait on Appius Cladius; I waited on his sire:
Let him who works the client wrong, beware the patron's ire !"

So spake the varlet Marcus; and dread and silence came
On all the people at the sound of the great Claudian name.
For then there was no Tribune to speak the word of might,
Which makes the rich man tremble, and guards the poor man's right
There was no brave Licinius, no honest Sextius then;
But all the city, in great fear, obeyed the wicked Ten.
Yet ere the valet Marcus again might seize the maid,
Who clung right to Muræna's skirt, and sobbed, and shrieked for alle

Forth through the throng of gazers the young Icilius pressed,
And stamped his foot, and rent his gown, and smote upon his breast,
And sprang upon that column, by many a minstrel sung,
Whereon three mouldering helmets, three rustling swords are hung,
And beckoned to the people, and in bold voice and clear
Poured thick and fast the burning words which tyrants quake to hear

“Now, by your children's cradles, now, by your father's graves,
Be men to-nay, Quirites, or be forever slaves!
For this did Servius give us laws ? For this did Lucrece bleed ?
For this was the great vengeance done on Tarquin's evil seed?
For this did those false sons make red the axes of their sire?
For this did Scævola's right hand hiss in the Tuscan fire?
Shall the vile fox-earth awe the race that stormed the lion's den?
Shall we, who could not brook one lord, crouch to the wicked Ten?
Oh for that ancient spirit, which curbed the Senate's will!
Oh for the tents which in old time whitened the Sacred Hill!
In those brave days our fathers stood firmly side by side ;
They faced the Marcian fury; they tamed the Fabian pride:
They drove the fiercest Quinctius an ouicast forth from Rome;
They sent the haughtiest Claudius with shivered fasces home.
But what their care bequeathed us our madness flung away:
All the ripe fruit of threescore years was blighted in a day.
Exult, ye proud Patricians! The hard-fought fight is o'er.
We strove for honours-'twas in vain: for freedom-'tis no more.
No crier to the polling, summons the eager throng;
No Tribune breathes the word of might that guards the weak from wrong
Our very hearts, that were so high, sink down beneath your will.
Riches, and lands, and power, and state-ye have them :-keep them sill
Still keep the holy fillets; still keep the purple gown,

and the curule chair, the car, and laurel crown:
Still press us for your cohorts, and, when the fight is done,
Sull fill your garners from the soil which our guod swords have won.
Still, like a spreading ulcer, which leech-craft may not cure,
Let your foul usance eat away the substance of the poor
Still let your haggard debtors bear all their fathers bore;
Still let your dens of torment be noisome as of yore;
No fire when Tiber freezes; no air in dog-star heat;
And store of rods for freeborn backs, and holes for freeborn feel.
Heap heavier still the fetters; bar closer still the grate;
Patient as sheep we yield us up unto your cruel hate.
But, by the Shades beneath us, and by the Gods above,
Add not unto your cruel hate your yet more cruel love!
Have ye not graceful ladies, whose spotless lineage springs
From Consuls, and High Pontiffs, and ancient Alban kings?
Ladies, who deign not on our paths to set their tender feel,
Who from their cars look down with scorn upon the wondering street
Who in Corinthian mirrors their own proud smiles behold,
And breathe of Capuan odours, and shine with Spanish gold ?
Then leave the poor Plebeian his single tie to life-
The sweet, sweet love of daughter, of sister, and of wise,
The gentle speech, the balm for all that his vexed soul endures,
The kiss, in which he half forgets even such a yoke as yours.
Still let the maiden's beauty swell the father's breast with pride ;
Still let the bridegroom's arms enfold an unpolluted bride.
Spare us the inexpiable wrong, the unutterable shame,
That turns the coward's heart to steel, the sluggard's blood to flamc.
Lest, when our latest hope is fled, ye taste of our despair,
And learn by proof, in some wild hour, how much the wretched dare."

The axes,

Straightway Virginius led the maid a little space aside, To where the reeking shambles stood, piled up with horn and hide, Close to yon low dark archway, where, in a crimson flood, Leaps down to the great sewer the gurgling stream of blood. Hard by, a flesher on a block had laid his whittle down : Virginius caught the whittle up, and hid it in his gown. And then his eyes grew very dim, and his throat began to swell, And in a hoarse, changed voice he spake, “Farewell, sweet child ! Farewell Ol! how I loved my darling! Though stern I sometimes be, To thee, thou know'st, I was not so. Who could be so to thee?

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