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In this view, it is wonderful that the plebeians could have made an outcry to possess freeholds, if they knew that that was beyond the pretensions even of the patricians. Farther, if it be true that the strength of the patricians depended on their retinues of armed clients, why did they allow this important body of men gradually to vanish by the time that the history gets clearer? If indeed the clients are the oppressed plebeians themselves, then of course, as they gradually win their rights, they break away from the unpleasant tie ; but if, as Niebuhr thinks, the clients bore no part of the oppression which fell on the plebeians, the whole course of their history is a riddle. Finally, it is extremely difficult to believe, either, that the clients were free from all military duties, or, that they served against the enemy in the sole character of retainers to their patrons, and not in the regular army as soldiers of the state. Niebuhr believes the latter, partly on the evidence of certain descriptive passages of Dionysius, and partly because he holds that the clients were not enrolled in the tribes. Yet in deference to the passages of Livy already referred to, on which he lays great stress, he believes that the clients voted in the Comitia Centuriata. Now if any thing is clear concerning these early comitia, it is, that their arrangement was in close analogy to that of the national army; so it is not to be endured in a modern theory, to represent the clients as admitted into the Comitia Centuriata and yet excluded from the army. Most of these difficulties are of Niebuhr's creation, and do not exist in the views held by all antiquity. But connected with these are real difficulties of the historians, (concerning which, all that we can say is, that Niebuhr has not relieved them,) in relation to the debts which so long afflicted the Roman commons. The following circumstances appear remarkable.—In later times the patricians are not money-lenders: that occupation belonged peculiarly to the knights: yet in the early days the patricians are the great usurers. Neither gold nor silver money as yet existed: heavy copper was the current coin: yet the patricians seem to have an unlimited command,-not over substance merely, such as cattle and stuff—but over cash, which they lend with wonderful freedom to the plebeians, even after times of such general ruin as the Gallic invasion. Ancient writers assert that trade was forbidden to Roman citizens; and though this is almost certainly an error, it seems to be true that it was forbidden to the noble patricians: how then can they have acted as money-lenders for usury, to men who stood in no relation to them,-as in Niebuhr's view was the case with the plebeians ? Stranger still, no such thing appears as a knight lending money on interest; much less any of the rich plebeians whom Niebuhr concedes to have existed. And while nobody but patrician nobles lend, nobody but plebeians borrow. In short, we do not seem to read so much of individual lenders and borrowers, as of the patricians, as a class, becoming creditors, and the plebeians, as a class, debtors. Niebuhr has conjectured that the real creditors were often plebeians or foreign bankers, who transferred their rights over the debtor to the patricians, in order to recover the debt more easily; but this, if systematic, must surely have slipt out somewhere in the history. So arbitrary a notion serves only to attest to us how sharply its inventor felt the pinch of the common representation. To relieve this difficulty, Ihne has advanced a theory, which well deserves to be considered. He believes that the mass of the plebeians were farmers of the soil, paying rent to the patricians as to landlords : that the land, however, was in theory and in right the property of the state, from which the patrician had no right to expel a tenant. Nevertheless, when the rent was in arrears, the tenant was liable to arrest; and as this happened frequently, the patricians took advantage of it to use the land as absolutely their own, by entrusting it to other parties, tenants at will, who paid whatever rent the patrician chose to exact. Such conduct was, in the opinion of the plebeians, an invasion of the public land; grassari in agrum publicum ; possidere agrum publicum per injuriam, (Liv. vi. 5; II. 41; IV. 51;) and it gave rise to the struggle on their part to have land ceded to them absolutely as freehold, by which they would get rid of their landlord or patronus, for ever. The division of the Aventine by the Icilian law was the first example of land in freehold being legally conceded to the plebeians; hence the extreme importance of that measure as a precedent. In regard to the law of debt, Ihne endeavours to mediate between Niebuhr and Savigny. He holds that in the earliest times only the person of the debtor was answerable, this being looked on as a moral punishment; which also operated to induce the debtor to pay if able. A patron had no right to in
stitute a civil action against his client who was in arrears for rent, because, the land being public property, the neglect to pay was a criminal offence, not a mere private wrong; so that the debtor was liable, not only to be arrested, imprisoned, and sold, but to be put to death. The severity of this law seems to attest that the plebeian tenants were a conquered race. Of course a tenant in arrears to the state would lose all rights as a citizen (which was the case even in Athens,) until he had paid every thing; but his connection with his land was not severed, and his debt descended to his children. Still the creditor gained little by the Addictio of the debtor, who might not be forced to work, and who seldom brought a large sum, if sold; while to kill him was useless cruelty. Hence the patricians brought in the principle of making the debtor's property answerable, in which case he was called Newus, and was liable to be set to work as a slave. This state of things was in theory milder, but in fact worse than the former; and by the operation of it the plebeians were rooted up from the land, which was falling into the hands of the rich, as actual proprietors. But this course of events was stopped by the Lex Poetelia, B. C. 326, which for ever forbade the process of Newus. Such is Ihne's view of this tangled subject; but he does not add any other proof of the justness of his distinctions, than the appeal to their intrinsic probability. We presume, however, that he has been guided to his hypothesis by the classical passage (Dionys. VI. 83,) which becomes very clear by means of it. “We give consent that all who owe money and cannot pay, be forgiven their debt; and if any are under personal arrest for being behind the legitimate days, (of payment,) these we vote to be set free; and such as have been cast in private suits and given over to their plaintiffs, these also we will to be free, and that the awards against them be annulled.” Here, the first class are debtors against whom has been no process as yet; the second are addicti, under arrest for not paying the state rent to their landlords; the third are nea'i for private suits. The second class are not borrowers, it will be observed, nor is the fact of their being in arrears a private wrong; for in this they are contrasted with the third class. This agrees, so far, exceedingly well with Ihne's theory; but the interference of the Praetor to compel and ratify the Nexus, which, according to this view, Dionysius must imply, is contrary to what is generally believed.
Before stating the more particular grounds which may add plausibility to Ihne's agrarian theory, its power to solve the difficulties above stated must be considered. First, it accounts for the perpetual debts to the patricians, into which the plebeians fell as a consequence of the wars. Whether their lands were ravaged by the enemy, or they themselves were forced to neglect cultivation through absence with the army, they would naturally be disabled from paying the rent. No lending on the part of the patricians is then requisite to produce arrears of debt. We have no longer to wonder how it is that the patricians were always rich enough to lend, nor why the creditors were always patricians, nor whence so great an amount of coin came, nor why the law against trade was inoperative against the nobility. The theory at once satisfies the demand, that it shall exhibit the plebeians and patricians, as classes, in the relation of debtors and creditors. Without denying that in early, as in later times, any person destitute of full civil rights might become a client to one who possessed them, it represents every plebeian agriculturist as naturally a client to his patrician landlord.
To enable us to conceive how the patricians might receive rent from public land, it would perhaps suffice to lay down that the early kings of Rome dealt with conquered land as feudal sovereigns did ; viz. established barons upon it, who were entitled to dues from the cultivators, though the property of the land was still theoretically vested in the sovereign, who received homage for it. If, at the same time, they strictly defined the amount of rent, and guaranteed the occupancy to the tenant as long as the rent was duly discharged, (which is what an Ancus or a Servius is likely to have done,) we should at once have such a state of things as the theory requires. For, on the expulsion of the kings, the patricians would undoubtedly hold that they were now the real and sole proprietors, as individuals; while the plebeian tenants would insist that their own rights were not affected by the expulsion, and that the state inherited the property in the land which previously was vested in the king. Ihne, however, does not take the king into consideration. He conceives of the early patricians as a race of conquerors, who claim the conquered land for the state collectively; but, inasmuch as no finance-officers as yet existed, nor the means of converting produce into gold and silver, the only mode
of taking tribute for the state was by deputing individual nobles to take it for themselves. He strengthens this view, by denying that any quaestors of the treasury existed before B.C. 447, the consulship of Horatius and Valerius, a belief which Rubino has adopted on the authority of Tacit. Ann. XI.22; which he understands to assert, that though quaestors (viz. Quaestores Parricidii) existed during the kingly period, yet quaestors to accompany the camp (ut rem militarem comitarentur) were first appointed sixty-three years after the expulsion of the Tarquins. The justness of this interpretation is confirmed from Livy, who, before that era, represents the consuls as selling the booty of war, (II. 42; III. 23, 29, 31,) but afterwards attributes the same uniformly to the quaestor, as IV. 15, 53; v. 19, 26. Quaestors of the treasury are first named B. C. 443, by Livy, III. 69; and the speech which he puts into the mouth of Canuleius (IV. 4,) shows that he believed the office of quaestor to have been created later than that of tribune of the plebs and aedile. In the kingly times, (it is Ihne's belief.) there was no public treasury or public taxation; hence no treasurer was needed. Soldiers received no pay: contributions were occasional matters only, and were probably made after the census; though the organization of the centuries had not taxation in view so much as military arrangement. In such a state of things, state-land almost necessarily fell under the power of the individual nobles. It may be questioned, nevertheless, whether Dr. Ihne does not underrate the financial development of kingly Rome. The celebrated works then executed, and the treaty of commerce with Carthage in the year of the first consuls, strongly confirm the view that Rome was far greater under the kings than for many years afterwards; nor is it easy to conceive that the idea of the land being public at all, could have established itself in such a state of things as alone he considers: but as soon as we introduce a king higher than the nobles, and solicitous to protect the commonalty from their too great power, the difficulty is relieved. Again, it is not clear why Ihne should identify the two ideas of client” and tenant. According to all the analogy of Greece, a Patron is the person who acts as legal representative for an alien or minor. A plebeian tenant would naturally go to his patrician landlord for such services, if the
* He suspects cliens to be derived from colo, and almost equivalent to colonus.