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of writing was unknown,* none at which the people who were to become the masters and legislators of the world did not give anticipations of their destiny by the careful preservation of their laws, decrees, and treaties. And whatever havoc time, accident, and carelessness might make in these records, the Roman history could never lose that character of essential truth and natural development which it had derived from this monumental and documentary origin.

Livy makes no distinction, in point of certainty, between the earlier and later part of the period which preceded the burning of the city ; but modern writers have thought that some particular event in the history marked the time at which greater certainty begins, and Niebuhr fixes on the First Secession (493 B.c.) as the dividing line, on one side of which all historical knowledge is unattainable ; on the other, the restoration of a genuine, connected, substantially perfect historyť is a practicable undertaking. On this point Sir G. Lewis is at issue with him. Considering nothing to deserve the name of history which does not rest on contemporary authority, of course he does not bestow it on what he regards as an unauthenticated combination and arbitrary selection of events; and he examines with great learning and care, the accounts which have come down to us, in order to show their unhistorical character. The history of Coriolanus, as commonly told after Livy and Dionysius, contains so many improbabilities, that even Hooke, though not prone to scepticism, is startled by them. Niebuhr has employed his reconstructive hand with unusual freedom upon this series of events; with what success, in Sir G. Lewis's opinion, may be seen in the following extract:

“ The treatment to which Niebuhr subjects the story of Coriolanus, throws much light upon his historical method in this period of the Roman annals. He considers it to consist of a nucleus of truth enveloped with poetical embellishments. He believes Coriolanus to have taken advantage of a present of corn from Sicily to recover the concession of the tribunate, to have been banished for this offence against the plebeians; and to have avenged himself by joining the enemies of his country: but he gives to these events a totally different complexion, and places them twenty years lower down, after the disaster of the Cremera. He dresses the incidents in a rationalized form, and changes their chronology; thus entirely inverting the historical sequence of this period. He supposes the

• The custom of driving a nail in the temple of Jupiter is often mentioned as if it had been the rude contrivance of an illiterate people for marking their chronology. But it was established by a law, as Livy tells us “ priscis literis verbisque scripta” (vii. 3); its primary object was religious, its chronological use secondary and derivative.

† Vol. ii. p. 1. Eng. Transl.

famine to have occurred not in the year 492 B.C., two years after the secession, but to be that described in 476 B.C., and he believes Hiero, who then governed at Syracuse, to have sent the present of corn to Rome. According to his reconstruction of the story, the negociation with Coriolanus typifies the peace made with the Volscians in the year 459 B.C. Coriolanus followed the Volscian standards as the leader of a band of Roman exiles, whose recall, as well as his own, he demanded of his countrymen; but the entreaties of his wife and mother induced him to withdraw his little army: he then returned to the country of the Volscians, and died there an exile in his old age. All detailed examination of a hypothesis which so far transcends the legitimate bounds of historical speculation seems superfluous. If we suppose the story of Coriolanus to be derived from contemporary records, or even from a faithful oral tradition, registered at a subsequent time, we must accept it in the main, as it stands. If, on the other hand, we are unable to trace it up to any trustworthy source, if we find moreover that the extant accounts differ from each other in material points, and that the narrative is deficient in internal probability and consistency, our reliance on its credibility must be slight. But to recast the story, retaining its substance, but rejecting all its accessories, and to transplant it to another chronological period, where it has different antecedents and different consequents, is a process wholly inadmissible. Operations of this sort do not enable Niebuhr to accomplish his promised restoration of a genuine, connected, substantially perfect history.'”


In one instance only, during this period, have we the power of confronting the popular history of Rome with the evidence of a contemporaneous public document. Porsena, king of Clusium, had taken up arms for the restoration of the exiled Tarquins; he had possessed himself of the Janiculum, and would have been master of Rome, but for the brave defence of the Sublician bridge by Horatius Cocles. While he pressed the siege of the city, Mucius, penetrating into his camp, attempts his assassination, and having killed the secretary by mistake for the king, thrusts his hand into an altar-fire, and so astounds Porsena by his hardihood, and by informing him that he was only one of three hundred noble youths who had sworn to attempt his life, that Porsena sends ambassadors to the Romans and offers them conditions of peace. Hostages are given for the execution of the treaty. Clodia, one of them, induces her companions to escape by swimming across the Tiber; but the Roman commander restores them, and Porsena, charmed with this instance of good faith, abandons the cause of the Tarquins, while the Senate present him in return with a throne and sceptre, and he gives up the contents of his camp as a donation to the Roman people. M. de Beaufort, in his celebrated Dissertation on the uncertainty of the Roman


History, was the first, we believe, who pointed out a passage in
which Tacitus speaks of the city as having been surrendered
to Porsena, and a still more emphatic one in Pliny, who says
that he had read in the treaty granted to the Roman people by
Porsena, after the expulsion of the kings, a precise stipulation
(nominatim comprehensum invenimus) that they should not
use iron except for agricultural purposes. * Now this is a con-
dition to which no nation that had not been beaten, and
thoroughly beaten, would submit. In point of humiliation, the
demolition of Dunkirk or Sebastopol is not to be compared
with it. It is the exact counterpart of that which the Philistines
imposed upon the Israelites, when they had come against them
with such an overpowering force, that "they hid themselves in
caves, and in thickets, and in rocks, and in high places, and in
pits.”+ The glimpse afforded us by the casual mention of this
treaty into the difference between the popular and the docu-
mentary history of Rome is certainly startling. We see at once
that Porsena and the Romans cannot have parted upon those
terms of mutual admiration and goodwill which the common
story implies, and that the present of the throne and sceptre, if
real, must have been an acknowledgment of superiority, not
the return of a compliment. And we cannot avoid the reflec-
tion, if Roman vanity has so overlaid the truth in regard
to a capital event like this, what security have we in cases
where no contemporary evidence had been preserved to confront
the popular tale ? But this is not all. According to Sir G.
Lewis, the contradiction goes much deeper than the romantic
tale familiar to us from Livy. If the Romans, he asks, were
disarmed by Porsena, why did not the Latins, the Veientes, the
Sabines, their mortal enemies, fall upon them and crush them?
Another document, the treaty with Carthage, made in the first
year of the Republic, shows us the Romans as masters of many
of the Latin cities; how happened it that they did not throw
off the yoke of dependence? How are we to account for the
extension of the Roman power in twelve succeeding years?
Unless the whole course and tenour of the early history of the
Republic are fictitious, we must admit the gradual advance of
its military power, and the death of Tarquin in banishment;
and these are inconsistent with the subjugation of Rome by
Porsena.f We do not think the inconsistency so great as it
appears to our author. Porsena bargains with the Romans in
his treaty that they should use iron only in agriculture ; this is
something rather different from the disarming of the whole
people, the term by which Sir G. Lewis describes it. Suppos-

* Tac. Hist. üü. 72. Plin. H. N. xxxiv. 13. † 1 Sam. xii. 19.

| Vol. ii. p. 41.

ing that the Senate, in execution of the treaty, even called on the people to deliver up their swords and spears, are such edicts very conscientiously obeyed when they contravene the national spirit ? Nothing but continued occupation of the country and repeated visitations for arms could have been effectual. In the parallel case of the Israelites only a few years intervened between the time when they submitted to this humiliating condition, and that at which “Saul fought against his enemies on every side, against Moab and against the children of Ammon, and against Edom, and against the kings of Zobah, and against the Philistines."* An emancipation-war is usually accompanied with an energetic reaction. We think that Sir G. Lewis treats too lightly Niebuhr's argument, that the reduction of the number of the tribes from thirty to twenty-one, after the war with Porsena, is a presumptive proof that the Roman territory had been reduced nearly one-third. “Even if the number of twenty-one for the tribes in 495 B.C., rests on credible evidence (of which we have no warrant) we have nothing to assure us that the number of thirty for the tribes of Servius is authentic." It is difficult to satisfy one who will not take the statements of ancient authors as true, where there is no motive for falsification and no ground for the impeachment of their accuracy. The number of the Servian tribes, four urban, twenty-six rustic, rests on the authority of Fabius, the oldest Roman historian.t He adds, “ the emptiness of Niebuhr's explanation is conclusively proved by the fact, that according to Livy the number of twenty-one tribes remained unchanged till 387 B.C. Now, if they were diminished in consequence of a reduction of territory, it is reasonable to conclude that when the territory was regained, which Niebuhr supposes to have speedily taken place, the tribes would be restored to their former complement.” The probability of such a restoration hardly warrants the very decisive tone in which Niebuhr's explanation is set aside. If we had ample and continuous knowledge of the history of these times, our inability to assign the reason why the diminished number remained when the cause of diminution was removed, would be a good reason for doubting the explanation. Such knowledge, it is admitted on all sides that we have not, and therefore little weight can be allowed to the objection.

We can only attribute the entire suppression of the fact that Rome surrendered on humiliating conditions to Porsena, to the ignorance of this treaty on the part of the Roman historians. For though the exaggerations of the family memoirs and funeral panegyrics may have occasionally found their way into the history, the suppression of their own reverses is not a fraud * 1 Sam. xiv. 47.

+ Dion. Hal. iv. 13.



with which they are chargeable. They tell us honestly to what straits they were reduced by Coriolanus, how the Fabii were cut off at Cremera, how the city was taken by the Gauls, nor do they attempt to conceal the victories of Pyrrhus and Hannibal. The want of public documents must have rendered it difficult in ordinary cases to sift out the truth. The Roman monuments were not all on perennial brass; we read of linenbooks and treatises inscribed on leather, substances obnoxious to damp and rats, from which the Roman tabularia were probably not free, any more than our own Record offices. Even when preserved, as the treaty with Porsena was, it might easily escape the notice of Fabius or Cato, in whose time its language was as obsolete as Saxon in our own,* much more of a foreigner like Dionysius, or an easy-going man of letters of the Augustan age, like Livy. He was as little of an antiquary as Hume, and appears, like him, to have composed his history from secondhand sources and superficial materials, trusting to the graces of his style to compensate for the want of laborious research. But we have no ground to impute to him the wilful concealment of a fact, especially in so remote an age, because it was dishonourable to his country. Even Dionysius, to whom Niebuhr has not scrupled to impute wilful falsehood, and whose history does not wear that aspect of a noble candour which characterizes Livy, is vindicated from this charge by Sir G. Lewis.

Our limits will not allow us to follow our author through his detailed examination of the Roman history, and it is the less necessary, as the question at issue between him and those who maintain the credibility of the common story, or the Niebuhrian reconstruction of it, is one rather of principle than detail. His principle may be thus stated :-Every historical event must have fallen under the observation of some living persons, who imparted to others the results of their observations; when, therefore, the question is of the events of a time for which there were no contemporary national historians, the narrative must be traceable to some other contemporary testimony: it may be a poem, an inscription, a register, or an oral tradition subsequently reduced to writing; but in some way we must have a personal attestation, or there would be no distinction between history and romance. Again, if we inquire during what length of time a narrative of an occurrence may be preserved by oral tradition, so that when at last written down it may safely be received as history, we find Polybius restricting it to a single generation, Sir Isaac Newton fixing it to eighty or a hundred

* Polyb. iii. 22. Fabius was hardly one of the ovvetớTATOI, who alone could understand the treaty between the Romans and Carthaginians.

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