صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

No. XII.

Hanc olim veteres vitam coluere Sabini;
Hanc Remus et frater; sic fortis Etruria crevit,
Scilicet et rerum facta est pulcherrima Roma.

VIRGIL.

The frugal Sabines thus their acres tillid;
Thus Remus and his brother lov'd the field ;
The Tuscans to these arts their greatness owe;
'Twas hence majestic Rome began to grow,
Rome, noblest object of the things below.

WARTON.

}

Having given my countrymen a short account of the civilities and ceremonies of politeness in use amongst the Romans; * for their farther information, I shall now proceed to shew how they parcelled out their time in the daily and ordinary course of a private life.

Under their kings, the people, as yet uncorrupted with affluence, gloried in frugality ; and the greatest simplicity of manners was accounted most fashionable : their time was almost wholly taken

up in providing for the necessities of life, and in supporting the fatigues of war, during the term of above two hundred years.

Under the consuls, as often as they had no foreign wars to fear, they found themselves at leisure to foment intestine broils. The desire of rule amongst the patricians, and the love of liberty in the plebeians, kept Rome in a perpetual ferment, which threatened destruction to the commonwealth in its infancy. These two orders of citizens, transgressing alike the bounds of moderation, lived in a mutual distrust one of the other ; so that, as soon as they perceived they were in no danger from enemies abroad, their principal care was to defeat the cabals of each other. Thus, through the course of about five hundred years, the main attention, the vigour, and the virtue of the Romans, was em ployed in defending themselves against the hostilities of their neighbours, and in composing their domestic feuds. If they enjoyed any intermissions from these cares, they then applied themselves entirely to agriculture. In these happy intervals of tranquillity, no man thought it beneath him to set his hand to the plough: the patrician and the plebeian, whose conditions and whose business so widely differed in the city, had one occupation in the country; and the greatest, in common with the meanest Roman, was not ashamed to be styled a labourer.

* See No. ix.

We have many examples of this laudable simplicity, not only in the early times of the republic, when it was customary to send for consuls and dictators from their farms, to assist in the arduous

affairs of government; but likewise in the flourishing ages, wherein Rome was mistress of Italy, and had made her power respected beyond the seas, I need not, therefore, mention Quintius Cincinnatus, who was found labouring in his grounds, by the persons who were dispatched to notify to him that he was appointed dictator. I want not for instances to my purpose in Curius Dentatus, in Fabricius, Astilius Serranus, Lici. nius Stolo, Cato the Censor; and many others, who, in much later times, were proud to take their surnames from some particular branch of husbandry in which they excelled: hence(according to the concurring opinions of ancient writers) came the Asinean, the Vitellian, the Suillian, Porcian, and the Ovinian family; the founders of these families having been famous for breeding the several sorts of animals implied in their names. Others likewise had distinguished themselves by raising and improving particular kinds of pulse; whence came the surnames Lentulus, Fabius, Piso, Cicero, and many more. word, so generally were the Romans addicted to the occupations of a country life, that the names of Way-farers (Viatores) was given to certain officers, whose business it was to go and acquaint the senators, that an extraordinary session would be held on such or such a day. As for the

In a

ordinary meetings of the senate, they were fixed to the day of the calends, and the day of the ides, in every month; and consequently did not require to be notified. Now, if the Senators and men of note passed a great part of their time in the country, what may we judge of the inferior citizens ? Above three parts in four of them (probably) saw the city but once in every nine days, in the time of peace. They came thither only to buy necessaries for their farms, and to examine whether they should approve or reject any new regulations; which the magistrates fixed upon the Capitol, and up

in the Forum, three market-days successively before they were offered to be confirmed. It was on these market-days that in time) the tribunes of the people entertained them with the affairs of the government, and the changes that were to be made; and by their harangues fomented the jealousies which agitated the different orders of the community, under the republic.

Lastly, the practice of husbandry must have been universally esteemed amongst the Romans for a considerable time, when Cicero (towards the declension of the commonwealth) speaks honourably of it; and does not scruple to affirm, that, even then, the persons of probity and distinction gloried more in being enrolled amongst the country tribes, than in being numbered amongst the wealthiest of the city families.

I shall pursue this subject in the next halfsheet, that I may here have room to make a few remarks on what has been said.

This account of the Romans is not peculiar to them; but may be applied as justly to most nations, if we look back into their ancient manners and customs. There was a time, when tillage, pasturage, breeding of cattle, and planting, were not ignoble occupations in this island: neither is it yet half a century, since most of our country gentlemen have been bred in a complete ignorance of husbandry, to learn the idleness of the town. We can likewise, even to this day, shew perhaps a more ample catalogue of rural surnames, than the Romans could ever boast of: several of which are taken from animals; as Lamb, Kid, Colt, Bullock, Gosling, Cock, Dove, Partridge, Pheasant: others from country occupations; as Shepherd, Cowherd, Farmer, Plowman, Gardener: many from grain, trees, plants, and flowers ; as Wheat, Oats, Ash, Birch, Broom, Ivy, Violet, Lilly, Primrose: some from fruits; as Cherry, Strawberry, Nut, Haws, Sweetapple, Crab: others from the water; as Lake, Pool, Ford, Rivers, Brooks : and several from the nature or distribution of

« السابقةمتابعة »