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nate used, of old, to confirm the plebiscita, the people did at last, as they pleased, confirm or disannul the fenatusconsulta [.
Appius Claudius brought in a custom, of admitting to the senate the fons of freed men, or of such who had once been' slaves ; by which, and fucceeding alterations of the like nature, that great council degenerated into a most corrupt and factious body of men, divided against itself; and its authority became despised. · The century and half following, to the end of the third Punic war, by the destruction of Care thage, was a very busy period at Rome; the intervals between every war being so short, that the tribunes and people had hardly leisure or breath to engage in domestic dissensions : however, the little time they could spare, was generally employed the same way. So Terentius Leo, a tribune; is recorded to have basely prostituted the privileges of a Roman citizen, in perfect spight to the nobles. So the great African Scipio, and his brother, after all their mighty services, were impeached by an ungrateful commons. "However, the warlike genius of the people, and continual employment they had for it, served to divert this humour from running into a head, till the age of the Gracchi.'. .
These persons, entering the scene in the time of a full peace, fell violently upon advancing the power of the people, by reducing into practice, all those encroachments, which they had been fo
many Dionyf. Lib. 2.
many years gaining. There were at that time certain conquered lands to be divided, beside a great private estate left by a king : these, the tribunes, by procurement of the elder Gracchus, declared, by their legislative authority, were not to be disposed of by the nobles, but by the commons only. The younger brother pursued the same design; and besides, obtained a law, that all Italians fhould vote at elections, as well as the citizens of Rome: in short, the whole endeavours of them both, perpetually turned upon retrenching the nobles authority in all things, but especially in the matter of judicature. And though they both lost their lives in those pursuits, yet they traced out such ways, as were afterwards followed by Marius, Sylla, Pompey, and Cæsar, to the ruin of the Roman freedom and greatness.
For in the time of Marius Saturninus, a tribune procured a law, that the senate should be bound by oath to agree to whatever the people would enact : and Marius himself, while he was in that office of tribune, is recorded to have, with great industry, used all endeavours for depresfing the nobles, and raising the people, particularly for cramping the former in their power of judicature, which was their most ancient inherent right. :
Sylla, by the same measures, became absolute tyrant of Rome : he added three hundred com. mons to the fenate, which perplexed the power of the whole order, and rendered it ineffectual ; then, flinging off the makk, he abolished the office
of tribune, as being only a scaffold to tyranny, whereof he had no further use.
As to Pompey. and Cæsar, Plutarch tells us, that their union for pulling down the nobles (by their credit with the people) was the caufe of the civil war, which ended in the tyranny of the latter; both of them, in their consulfhips, having used all endeavours and occasions for sinking the authority of the patricians, and giving way to all encroachments of the people, wherein they expected beft to find their own account. '
From this deduction of popular encroachments in Rome, the reader will easily judge, how much the balance was fallen upon that fide. Indeed, by this time, the very foundation was removed ; and it was a moral impossibility, that the republic could fubfift any longer : for the commons, having usurped the offices of state, and trampled on the senate, there was no government left but a dominatio plebis. Let us therefore examine how they proceeded in this conjuncture. . :: I think it is an univerfal truth, that the people are much more dexterous at pulling down and fetting up, than at preferving what is fixed; and they are not fonder of seizing more than their own, than they are of delivering it up again to the worji bidder, with their own into the bargain. For although, in their corrupt notions of divine worship, they are apt to multiply their gods; yet their earthly devotion is feldom paid to above one idol at a time, of their own creation, whose oar they pull with less murmuring, and much more
skill, skill, than when they share the lading, or even held the helm.
The several provinces of the Roman empire were now governed by the great men of their ftate; those upon the frontiers, with powerful armies, either for conquest or 'defence. These governors, upon any designs of revenge or ambition, were sure to meet with a divided power at home, and therefore bent all their thoughts and applications to close in with the people, who were now by many degrees the stronger party. : Two of the greatest spirits that Rome ever produced, happened to live at the same time, and to be engaged in the same pursuit; and this at a conjuncture the most dangerous for such a contest: these were Pompey and Cæsar, two stars. of such a magnitude, that their conjunction was as likely to be fatal, as their opposition
The tribunes and people, having now. subdued all competitors, began the last game of a prea valent populace, which is that of chusing them. selvęs a master; while' the nobles foresaw, and used all endeavours left them to prevent it. The people, at first, made Pompey their Admiral, with full power over all the Mediterranean; soon after, Captain-General of all the Roman forces, and Governor of Asia. Pompey, on the other side, restored the office of tribune, which Sylla had put down; and, in his Consulship, procured a law for examining into the miscarriages of men in office or commanda for twenty years, paft. Many other examples of Pompey's popularity are left us on
record, who was a perfect favourite of the people,
Thus, at length, the senate, (at least the pri· mitive part of them, the nobles) under Pompey, and the commons under Cæfar, came to a final decision of the long quarrels between them. For, I think, the ambition of private men, did, by no means, begin or occasion this war; though civil diffenfions never fail of introducing and spiriting