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criminals to the tribunal of the people, were institutions devised and fitted only for a purely municipal society, a society at once compact and united. They were outgrown when the right of citizenship was extended over the Italian peninsula, and especially when the Mediterranean was fringed with dependent provinces, which must receive their law from the central city. As a necessary result, the control of the administra tion came into the hands of a few leaders, and of the populace of Rome itself, to the exclusion, except on extraordinary occa sions, of the mass of Italian citizens, and to the utter denial to the provinces of any voice in public affairs. This, indeed, was the condition which the oligarchy favored and strove to make perpetual; but it was a condition of national paralysis, and would soon end in national death.
These institutions, then, as methods by which the government was administered, had become mere forms; their usefulness had ended; they were only hindrances in the progress of the state towards maturity. The consummation of the struggle which had now lasted since the banishment of the kings, the success of liberal ideas and of an enlarged policy, must be accompanied by a reconstruction of society, a remodelling of the state, a redistribution of the functions of government. Old names might be retained, many old forms preserved; but the substantial power must be lodged somewhere beyond the caprice of the urban populace and the reach of a bigoted aristocracy, where it would be wielded for the benefit of the whole commonwealth, and would thus inevitably tend to draw together all portions into a united empire.
For this result Cæsar prepared by a long and careful training of himself, his soldiers, and the people; and when the time to strike had come, when the oligarchy, by their mad persistence, had left no alternative but a hostile movement or his own destruction, he put the forces which he had perfected into motion, and the overthrow of the aristocratic faction was immediate. They were forced at once to retire from the city and from Italy, to abandon the government, and to mass their military resources in a distant province, there to await attack. This very suddenness of their fall shows that the oligarchy had no hold upon the affections of the people, that their boasted
championship of liberty and order was universally understood to be a sham. The final conflict soon came, was short and decisive, and Rome was regenerated.
The victory of Cæsar was worthy of himself, of the principles he represented, and of the party he led. It only needs to be compared with the acts by which Pompeius and the Senate had determined to follow up their assumed success, in order that it may appear in its true character, as a triumph of more advanced and comprehensive political ideas of the nation itself over those who looked upon the state as their own exclusive patrimony, to be managed for their personal aggrandizement. Even Cicero, who thoroughly knew his own partisans, and who had barely escaped with his life from their violence, was forced to confess that a victory of Pompeius would have been accompanied by indiscriminate proscriptions and massacres, and that even those who had remained quiet in their own homes, refusing to join either army, had been doomed to death; while Cæsar had exhibited a leniency unexpected by his adversaries, but which marked the natural generosity of his character and the elevation of his policy. Indeed, when all armed opposition had been overcome, he trusted no longer to his soldiery, but threw himself with perfect faith upon the people. Many of the Senatorial leaders had perished in battle, a very few had been banished or put to death, while the remainder had given in their adherence to the new order of things, and some had united their fortunes with those of the Dictator. All seemed to be safe; confidence would beget confidence; the people were more than satisfied; the necessity for the army was ended.
We can only conjecture how the supreme power which he had thus reached would have been practically used in reconstructing a system of state polity out of the fragments of the shattered republican constitution; but we have a right to judge from the past life of the Dictator, and from his moderation in success, that much would have been done for the benefit of the whole Commonwealth. What particular course of legislation he would have adopted, how extensive and complete would have been his plans of comprehension, whether he would at one blow have accomplished all his intended reforms, or whether he would have proceeded gradually in his work, are interesting
subjects for speculation; but beyond speculation we cannot reach. We may be sure that no return would have been made to the former constitution; probably not even such a resemblance to republican forms would have been retained as was preserved by Octavius. The condition of the state at the time, and the subsequent course of events, leave no room for doubt, however, that the premature death of Cæsar was a loss to the Roman nation not to be measured by words. His assassins, in gratifying their private pique, in avenging their personal slights and fancied wrongs, under the sacred name of liberty, inflicted a blow upon their country from which it never entirely recov ered, even during the long course of imperial rule. This act renewed the civil war, and made it one of extermination.
The oligarchy had been thrust from its exalted station, but many of its members were yet living, enjoying their estates and honors, and not forgetful of their former pre-eminence. Cæsar's power was firm so long as he lived; so far as it depended upon his personal influence, it was secure; but it had not yet become incorporated into the governmental functions of the state; no dynastic measures had been arranged to perpetuate it, no general legislation matured to make the system complete. The Dictator's intentions had not yet been adopted as the national policy, to be carried out after his life was ended. On the other hand, the events of the last two generations, and especially of the career just closed, rendered it plain that the ideas of the popular party had gained the ascendant, that the exclusiveness of the aristocratic rule was forever broken. But the sudden death of Cæsar revived the hopes of the fallen faction, who regarded liberty and the Republic but as synonymous of their own supremacy.
The civil war broke out afresh, and everything conspired to make the conflict bitter and bloody. On the one side, the shame of recent defeat and the hope springing up out of despair, on the other, feelings of revenge and motives of personal ambition, gave a deadly character to the hatred, and added fierceness to every blow. The loss of Cæsar deprived his party of the one leader who combined military skill, political sagacity, and indomitable will with generous impulses and lofty, comprehensive aims. Antonius and Octavius were great men, — indeed, no
moderate abilities would have sufficed to control the storm that now raged through the state, but neither of them was a Julius. Still, under their leadership, the issue of the conflict now waged with the remains of the oligarchy was never doubtful; by what measures their success would be accompanied was, unhappily, no less certain. The day that saw Cicero's head and hands nailed to the rostra, insulted by a coarse Antonius and an infamous Fulvia, was the saddest that had yet risen upon Rome; but its advent was made sure when Brutus and Cassius drew their daggers on the fatal ides of March. While the old Senatorial party was thus doomed, it was long doubtful which of the competitors would be successful in grasping the prize that had fallen from the grasp of the dying Cæsar. The politic, persistent Octavius at last triumphed over the military experience and fitful energy of his rival, and was destined to found the Roman Empire.
We have the materials, without relying too much on conjecture, for comparing the political structure which permanently succeeded the Republic with that which Julius would have left behind him had he lived to finish the task he had but commenced. Certain unmistakable facts in the internal condition of the nation, and certain contrasts of personal character in the first and second Cæsar, enable us to perceive the organic differences in the creations of their administrative faculty. Roman society, at the time when Octavius had overcome all opposition and had been invested with imperial powers, was greatly changed in many of its features from that which existed at the death of the Dictator. The first Emperor reached his height of power by a road marked with the slaughter of Rome's best citizens. He had no confidence in the people; he was timid and cautious in political expedients, only firm and vigorous in dealing with his enemies. The policy of the first Cæsar was broader and wiser. He had spared all the aristocratic party who abandoned their open hostility and gave in their submission, and had received many of them into his confidence. After the force necessary to break the organization of the oligarchy had been exerted, he trusted entirely to the power of ideas to finish the revolution. He hoped to win the leaders of the old régime to his own views, or at least to secure their co-operation in carry
ing out his plans, as the only means of promoting the best interests of the state, and aiding its progress towards unity. While destroying their exclusive power, he would not lose them as individual elements in the community, but would retain and use whatever of good they might contribute to the nation in the commencement of its new life. This body of men was suf ficiently large, and the prestige of their name and station was sufficiently great, to have constituted them a strong conserving force in the fermenting mass of Roman society. Whatever of learning, of culture, of love for art and letters existed, was chiefly to be found in the ranks of the oligarchy. It was by no means true that their order as a whole was distinguished by these graces and amenities of life. Many whose patrician lineage extended back to the infancy of the city prided themselves on retaining the roughness and severity of their fathers, and despised, or affected to despise, all the adventitious aids which had been borrowed from Grecian civilization. Others were entirely given up to debauchery, using their fortunes only as means of pandering to their baser appetites. But with all this stubborn clinging to the customs of their ancestors which was peculiar to some, and the profligacy which disgraced others, the wealth and leisure of the class afforded opportunities of prosecuting those studies and engaging in those pursuits which cultivate breadth of thought, completeness of character, and that refinement and delicacy of manner which the Romans called urbanity. A political reason far more important made these men necessary to the highest development of the state. They were the representatives of much that had made Rome glorious through her past career. They carried with them the memories and sentiments of the illustrious dead whose exploits formed the national history, or were woven into the myths from which that history emerged. They were the link which would visibly connect the greatness of the past with that yet to come. They had indeed proved themselves unequal to the task of gov ernment, and had been justly driven from power, but their personal presence and influence could not be spared in a society passing through a revolution so fundamental as that which closed the Republic and ushered in the Empire. Cæsar would have retained a large admixture of this element, and its effect