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trels, and others of the great gull tribe, were now seen flying and alighting on the breast of the unquiet ocean.
A large barque, with all her snowy sails set, and her bright yellow sides and smart taper spars, was fast heaving into sight. The General unslung a glass which we had used much in the glen; the ladies had a good view of the handsome craftwhich appeared to be an American packet-ship. My uncle then took the telescope, and after sweeping the horizon, he remained looking in the one direction for some time. The ladies were now at a distance from us, and he said, Walter, take the glass, and tell me who are those figures walking on the strand, near the mouth of the Trasna, and opposite Inniskeadallow Island?"
I took the glass, and plainly saw my cousin Gilbert pacing the sands, with a female whose back was towards
He was earnestly gesticulating, while she appeared to hang her head, and listen silently. Suddenly she turned her face, and I saw the great
dark eyes of the Spanish girl Marellos, and I caught the glitter of her large ear-rings in the sun.
In a few minutes a third figure came round a rock, and joined them, who I saw was Marellos himself, when his daughter moved on and left the men together. I gave the glass back to the General, intimating what I had seen, and he continued looking through it a long time, and no doubt watching the motions of the distant party. At last he said, "What can Gilbert be doing with these people ; I thought he was twenty miles off with his friend O'Skerrett. It is very strange; but I shall ask him to explain when we meet."
We returned to where we had left our car, by the cliffs, our ladies were in great spirits, and oh how happy was I during that drive back to our house in the evening; and that the chain was weaving round me which so much influenced my life to come, I did not then consider, though I cannot but now regret.
MERIVALE'S HISTORY OF THE ROMANS.*
Ir is now just five years since we reviewed the first two volumes of this work. Within that time a third volume has been given to the public, but great as are the actions therein recorded, we did not consider that it comprised a sufficiently important portion of history to demand a separate notice. We have, therefore,
waited for the continuation of the work, which has now been vouchsafed to us.
Mr. Merivale's third volume includes the triumphs of Antony after the death of Cesar, his coalition with the young Octavius, his loves with Cleopatra, and his final overthrow. It tells us of the battles of Philippi and of Actium, and finally seats Octavius, or, as he must then be called, Augustus, on the imperial throne. The fourth and fifth volumes contain the history of Rome under the Emperors Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula and Claudius.
In our former remarks we made it matter of charge against Mr. Merivale, that he brought the character of the great Cæsar before us too much as though Cæsar were the hero of his piece. We have now no ground for reiterating the complaint. Much as the history of Rome is comprised in the life of Augustus for the fifty or sixty years after the murder of Julius, our author has not found it necessary to merge Rome and the Romans in the biography of an emperor.
We, however, intend to adopt to some extent the practice against which we before ventured to warn the historian; and our present purpose is to give to our readers, by the aid of Mr. Merivale's researches, some succinct account of the reign and character of Augustus.
But we would first say a word of our author's style, and if in doing so we speak more in censure than in praise, it is because we regret to see
The History of the Romans under the Empire. Vol. 3. 1851. Vols. 4 & 5. 1856. London: Longman and Co.
one who can write such excellent English, driven into what appears to be a pedantic Latinity, by the habits of his mode of study.
This practice with Mr. Merivale springs not from pedantry, but from thoughtlessness. He has imbued,
as it were, the ears of his mind with classic phraseology, till he has come to regard certain Latin terms as belonging to his own vernacular, and has forgotten to reflect that they do not, at any rate, belong to the vernacular of those numerous readers for whom his studies are intended. We can forbear to blame him when he calls Pompey and Antony, Pompeius and Antonius, understanding, as we do, his desire to maintain the dignified nomenclature of his heroes; though, as he does so, he should, we think, also call Neptune, Neptunus, and should not designate the King of Judea sometimes as Herod, and sometimes Herodes. We can understand, however, that he was embarrassed by a difficulty as to the extent to which he should carry the classicalism of his proper names; but he should have had no difficulty in abstaining from writing Latin when his mother English would equally have served
He tells us that the shrine of the hero, Julius, had been erected on the "spot of his cremation," meaning, thereby, the spot where his body had been burnt. He tells that the Voice of Augustus was more influential than that of the "prerogative century." The word, century, in English, we take to mean a period of a hundred years, and that only. We all know that Mr. Merivale alludes to that division of the Roman people to which a certain franchise was in old times allotted. He tells us of the perpetuation" of a gens through its clientete," and of the perpetuation of "the Gentile cults." Of this word, enlt, he is peculiarly fond. We hear of the "Darren simplicity of the Etruscan cult," and of the "ancient cult." Why not say "worship?" To Mr. Merivale's ears, the Saxon word may not be so expressive as that which he uses, but it is, at any rate, English, and if it did not suit him, it was his business to find some English phrase that did. "The Gentile cult does not, in our language, signify the peculiar mode of worship
VOL. XLVII.-NO. CCLXXXII.
of a peculiar family. We hear of the " pronaos of a temple," and of the 66 censure of Camillus." Now we venture to assert that no Englishman will attribute any but one meaning to this latter phrase, and yet that meaning is entirely different from Mr. Merivale's. He speaks of the censure of Camillus, as we speak of the mayoralty of Mr. Moon; Camillus had held the office of censor, and, as such, had been very vigorous, and his "censure" is spoken of as having been celebrated. The word, however, in every-day English, means blame, and we believe that it means nothing else.
Mr. Merivale, though a scholar, is no pedant. There is enough in the work now before us to prove what we say in this respect; but, nevertheless, it should be worth his while to protect himself from any such accusation. And, moreover, we regard it to be his imperative duty as an English historian, to write his history in pure English. That he can do so is one of his greatest merits. While on this subject, we will venture to point out that there are one or two slips which a little more care in revision would have avoided. When he speaks, for instance, of "commanders too daring to overawe, and too distant to control," he means that they were too daring to be overawed, and too distant to be controlled.
It is difficult to invest with their popular and yet proper attributes the heroes of the old classic times. Those who in their youth became familiar with the great names of antiquity, have generally carried away ideas formed rather by the imagination of the poets than the records of the historians: and those who, in early years, had no such advantage hardly care to trouble themselves, in after life, with much study as to what was done in Greece or in Rome. The Trojan war, the wrath of Juno, the quarrels of Agamemnon and Achilles, the wanderings of Ulysses and Æneas, the miseries of Prometheus and Edipus, the urbanity of Mæcenas, and the stern courage of Regulus-these are the classic incidents which boys carry with them from school, never to be eradicated; but they too generally fail to acquire an historic knowledge of the names with which they are familiar.
Indeed, we may say much the same of many incidents in our own history. We know, or fancy we know, much more of Henry V. than of Edward I. or of the Black Prince, because we are familiar with Shakespere-and from Scott's novels we have acquired a very defined, if not very correct, idea of the doings of the Scotch
As regards the great names of Grecian and Roman history, this fault may not, in general, be very fatal to us. It is of much more importance to us in the guidance of our life, that we should have an accurate idea of Lord Chatham than of Pericles; of Mirabeau and Danton than of the Gracchi. Without the one, we cannot understand the true bearing of those popular aspirations with which we, ourselves, to-day either sympathise or contend; we cannot trace the cause of our present feelings as regards America, or France, or Russia. But no knowledge of Grecian or Roman history is neces
sary for this. It is only by the philosophic and the learned, that true deduction can be made from the experiences of antiquity for the guidance of the present day. And the philosophic and the learned are, as yet, but a very small minority.
There are, however, a few among the ancients who have left their own
peculiar mark so plainly on the human race, whose genius and industry have done so much towards creating the present state of the civilized world, that some popular conception of their attributes and character is necessary to complete even a moderate store of historic knowledge; and among these no other stands so conspicuous as Augustus Cæsar. Though, in the common parlance of schools, he ranks as second of the Roman emperors, he was, in truth, the first. He formed the empire, built the throne, created the despotic power, and left it fixed on so firm a basis, that all the follies and vices of his immediate successors did not suffice to dissipate the sovereign rule, though most of them obtained for themselves a speedy and a bloodstained grave. He established a sceptre which maintained itself for fifteen hundred years, and was the first to essay that mode of monarchical füle under which the greater portion
of Europe has been governed from his time down to our own days.
In reading the annals of Rome, we are constantly tempted to ask ourselves whether any Roman ever had a heart. The instances of so weak an organ beneath a toga were, indeed, rare, and Augustus does not furnish one of them.
It is singular that a man whose public life commenced while he was yet little more than a boy, should never have shewn pity, sensibility, or sympathy. It was in his early years that stern cruelty, the sternest, most merciless cruelty, appeared to be necessary to his ambition, and in his earliest years he was cruel as a Robespierre when goaded to madness by continual bloodshed, as reckless of humanity as a Napoleon when driven on to Moscow by the fatality of his career. As a boy he exceeded the massacres of Sulla; and yet, in his after life, he learned to pardon. But in this there was no feeling of the heart. Policy, in both cases, taught him the lesson which he followed. By true heartfelt emotion he was rarely, if ever, actuated; but his head never failed him.
When Cæsar fell murdered in the senate-house, his young nephew, then called Octavius, was practising in Greece the studies of his youth. He was still under twenty years of age, and it appears to have been the intention of Cæsar, who had adopted him as his son, to take him with him in his approaching campaign against the Parthians.
We have all learnt, and learnt with tolerable accuracy, from Shakespere's play, how Mark Antony got the better of the conspirators, and by skill and policy cheated them of the influence which they had expected to obtain on the death of the tyrant. There have been no heroes of history, either ancient or modern, more worthy of contempt than were these conspirators, Brutus, and Cassius, the other Brutus, and the rest of them. They had all the weakness of the French Girondists, and apparently few, if any, of their virtues. That they were not opposed, on principle, to the shedding of blood is proved by the death of Cæsar. Cæsar, who had been personally the friend of each of them, fell perforated by the daggers of them all. But though they slow Caesar, they
abstained from the slaughter of Antony, which was indispensably necessary to the accomplishment of their design. We have been told how dangerous is a little bloodshed. Their abstinence, as regards Antony, who in a special manner had been Caesar's friend, was suicidal. "Twas in vain that they attempted, as did the Girondists, to allay the passions of men by logical deductions and well turned sentences. Antony came forward with a rough tale which went to the hearts of the Romans, and backed his talking with histrionic art, and, where necessary, with the swords of his soldiery. The conspirators were obliged to abandon Italy, and strengthen themselves as they best could in such of the provinces as were under their control.
Octavius had been left by Cæsar as his heir. By this it is presumed that he meant to name him as successor to his power in the state. This, we think, has never yet been made sufficiently clear. The portion of his private inheritance which Cæsar left to his grand nephew has been named, and probably with accuracy. This portion, however, Antony had seized, and squandered before the heir was able to claim it. That Cæsar-who was as it were but a parvenu despot, a dictator of a day's making, a tyrant whose throne had as yet scarce supported his own weight, a governor who could hardly yet have taught himself to look on his own power as permanent that Cæsar should have ventured to leave the empire to an heir, and have attempted to invest him with it by the mere strength of a testamentary document, as a private man does with his house and chattels, we cannot think probable. That he had recommended him to the Romans as the heir of his love and the adopted child of his house, is not only probable, but we presume certain.
When Octavius, in his Grecian academy, heard accurate tidings of what had occurred in Rome, and that Caesar's will, naming him his heir, had been read to the people, he at once resolved to make the utmost use of the legacy. He resolved to throw for a great stake and play a mighty game. It seems that those around him endeavoured to dissuade him from going to Italy; they thought that the chances of sticcess were much against
him; that he would find the unscrupulous Antony possessed of imperial power and of the people's voices; and that the contest of an untried youth with such a man as Antony could not fail of being ruinous. The boy Octavius, however, thought otherwise
"And it is difficult," says Mr. Merivale, "to pronounce a harsh judgment on his ambition. The security that was promised to him he felt to be illusory. His lot was cast in an age of revolution, in which Caesar's nephew must be the mark for all the bolts of fortune. The fearful alternative was manifestly forced upon him; he must grasp Caesar's power to secure himself from Cæsar's fate."
We will agree with our author that it is difficult to blame his ambition; we may, perhaps, also acknowledge that after having entered on his ambitious career, it became impossible for him to save his own head without taking those of thousands of his countrymen; we may even have to declare that Rome required a despotic ruler, and that there was no one then on the world's stage so fit to rule as the young Octavius; but arguments such as these will not reconcile the English reader to the character of the man. We will leave it to casuists and divines to say whether or no Octavius was wrong, and if wrong, when first he commenced his fault; but we want no casuists or divines to tell us that his character was odious to humanity and unworthy of sympathy. But what Roman ever required the sympathy of any one?
Octavius came to Rome, and every step which he took there is marked by a policy supreme in its worldly wisdom. He made no single false step in his intricate path. And intricate as his path was, one false step might have plunged him into destruction. He met Antony at Rome, and outwitted the wily veteran at his own game. Antony had declared to the people what was Caesar's will, but he had omitted to pay to them that portion, of which they were the inheritors; he not only omitted to do this, but himself used the wealth with which he might have done it. Octavius, on his return to Rome, found nothing but ransacked coffers, and yet with such help as he got from his friends, he contrived to pay to the populace the legacies of his uncle. It
is needless to say who would thus become the popular favorite.
It does not appear, however, that the two candidates had at this time any serious quarrel; they were as yet too necessary to each other; they had as yet to bathe in Roman blood before they could divide between them the Roman empire, or decide to which the whole prize should be allotted. Antony soon left Rome, with the object of putting himself in eommand of the province which had been allotted by Cæsar to Decimus Brutus, and which was now held by him. This province was called Cisalpine Gaul, but comprised, in fact, that portion of Italy which now lies north of the Papal States and Tuscany; such was not the exact boundary, but it was sufficiently nearly so for our present purpose.
Octavius remained in Rome, and armed himself and his adherents on the side of the senators, who resolved to support Decimus against the pretensions of Antony. The command of the senatorial forces was in the hands not of Octavius, but of the two consuls. The battle, or rather battles of Mutina were fought, and the consuls, though victorious, were killed in action. Octavius had no wish to press matters against his enemy, and refused indeed to do so. It was by no means the gaol of his ambition to be the servant of aneffete senate, in their vain endeavour to resuscitate a cause already dead. It was not thus that he intended to fulfil his mission as Caesar's heir. Instead of following Antony over the Alps, as he was desired, he turned with his army towards Rome, and ordered the fluttered senators to give him the consulship. What could a fluttered senate do but obey? Octavius marched, or rather straggled, into Rome with his army, and the senators having formally forbade his approach, having put on their military garb, fortified a part of the city, and gone throngh the acknowledged paraphernalia of patriotic preparation, humbly put their necks beneath his feet; such, at least, was the conduct of the majority. One, we are told, slew himself instead; but so hacknied a sacrifice now palls on the reader, who cannot stop to think whether this Cornutus might not have done better with his life, by sticking to his colors.
The majority of them hurried to the young warrior's camp, and declared themselves to be his very humble
Octavius knew that he was not yet sufficient, in himself, to occupy the great place of Master of the Roman Empire, and he therefore summoned Antony to his aid; and now that league was formed which is called in history the second triumvirate. Could any word be found which would signify a union between two men and one old woman, it would be more appropriate; for Lepidus, who was joined in it with the two great Romans of the day, was little more than an old woman; nor was it ever intended that he should be more. When Cæsar and Pompey coalesced, they had found it necessary to include a Crassus in the arrangement, each thereby hoping to qualify the supremacy of his great antagonist. Thus was the first triumvirate formed, and the second was of the same nature. Nominally and by agreement, the three were to divide the world between them; the true question was, however, this: to which of two of them should the world hereafter belong.
It was no easy thing for men so circumstanced to meet. Each, of course, had at his heels his own army, and equally, of course, neither could trust himself within the ranks of his rival; nor could either dare to remove himself far from his own protecting eagles: the meeting, however, was managed. They were in the vicinity of Bologna, and had advanced with their forces on opposite sides of a river; in this river was a small island, and on this island the triumviri agreed to carve the world in pieces. So many men were to accompany each hero to such a distance; from thence each was to advance alone; each was to put his foot on the bridge at the same moment, the insignificant Lepidus having first entered the trysting place; when they got near to each other they made a scrutiny, each of the other, to see that his ally had no dagger beneath his robe. 'Twas a pity, perhaps, that none had been so hidden. Could Octavius have put an end to Antony in that little islet, what seas of blood would have been saved! what foul disgrace at Actium! what foul disgrace in Egypt! But then we should have lost a play