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engaging to become his serfs, went to a free town, and by their industry and artistic skill aided its prosperity. In every country of modern Europe the towns thus arose, and made the first starting-point for the power of the com

In ancient times towns were originally the fortified camps of the conquering race : strangers who entered them entered as subjects; but when an elective king was established in one of these town-nations, he, with the true monarchical instinct, took the foreigners and subjects under his protection, and so perhaps hoped to make his dynasty hereditary. This was the case in Rome. Numa established guilds of artisans ; Ancus and Servius taught the unattached plebs to look to the king of Rome as their patron and their successor. Tarquin always took the side of the Latin interest against the patrician houses. When the patricians resumed the power that the kings had previously wrested from them, fervently did the oppressed plebeians utter their secret prayers to the gods for a king and a protector. * But time repaired their wrongs; for naturally the ascent of the commons is the more easy in a state like the Roman, which was not originally founded on an ancient conquest, but on a sort of compact between patricians and plebeians, than in a state like the Etruscan, where the plebeians began with serfdom, and in consequence of the development of the nation being arrested by external causes, never rose to freedom.

The Spartan legislator, who wished to stop all progress, foresaw the consequence of allowing the immigration of strangers, who, establishing commerce and handicrafts, would form a democratic element dangerous to the supremacy of the Spartans over the Helots. Lycurgus, therefore, forbad the admission of strangers into Sparta.

After some portion of the commons had been by the above means collected into towns, or had otherwise ob

Macrobius, Saturn. i. 13.

† Niebuhr, H. R. i. 119.


tained a voice in the national councils, four other different combinations may arise. The first of these, the third of the six courses alluded to at the beginning of this chapter, is this :

The commons unite with the crown to overthrow the aristocracy. If the king manages to become a successful demagogue, and if it happens, as Claudian says, “ mobile mutatur semper cum principe vulgus,” the result, of course, is a monarchical despotism, or as the Greeks would call it, a “ tyranny.” This kind of government was established in Denmark after the revolution in 1660, both crown and commons opposing their real interests in destroying the aristocracy, for depression of the nobility may make a king more absolute but less safe.* After a coup of this nature, constitutional monarchy becomes for ever impossible.

In the fourth case, the nobles and commons combine to overthrow the regal power. To this achievement, Lucius Junius Brutus and his companions owe their fame. The traditional policy of the RomanoSabine kings led Tarquin to favour the commons against the nobles; but while he humbled the senate, he likewise invaded the legislative power of the commons, and attempted the erection of an unlimited monarchy. The true interest of both orders, therefore, coincided in his expulsion, although in effect the movement was chiefly conducted by and for the interests of the aristocracy. The result of a revolution of this kind is the co-existence of a patrician and plebeian class, who share between them the sovereignty of the state, though, in the instance of Rome, the patricians had at the time of Tarquin's expulsion the greater power. There is no stability in a government formed by the compromise of two, when each party is ready at every favourable opportunity to break the compact, and there is no controlling power to enforce its observance. Many of the small Grecian states, the Romans having what is called their republican period, and several of the states of mediæval Italy, present examples of this in harmonious mixture of the aristocratic and democratic elements. Greece (Sparta excepted), in the time of Solon

* Lord Bacon.

. was torn by the feuds of these two antagonistic parties. His friends wished Solon to assume a monarchy and hold the balance between these two powers, not as a Tupavvos, who would have destroyed the oligarchy, but as a constitutional king. Solon declined, but established his constitution as a sort of quasi-monarchical check. In one of his poems*, after speaking of oligarchy and democracy, he says:

"Έστην δ' άμφιβαλών κρατερον σάκος αμφοτέροισι

Νικάν δ' ουκ είασ' ουδετερους αδίκως. “I stood with a strong shield cast over both parties, so as not to allow an unjust triumph of either."

The consequence of increased strength in the patricians is to make them wrest from their opponents as much political influence as they can, and consolidate still more the power of the aristocracy. The consequence of a triumph by the plebeians is the establishment of equal laws, the abolition of all privileges, and the erection of a monarch. A sovereign, however, who is the creature of the plebeians has so many points of difference from a sovereign elected by the nobles, that there is scarcely any point of similarity left except the name. Even this is in some nations wanting, as, for example, in Greece, which furnishes many instances of demagogues turned kings, but they called them not Barineus, as they had termed the Homeric and the Spartan kings, but tupavvol, whence our word tyrant, which, with

τυραννοι, some freedom, we apply to any monarch who consults nothing but his own interest and self-will. We have not, however, deviated so far from the Greek etymon, as may at first

appear, for the essence of their view of a βασιλευς, was that he reigned, not absolutely, but upon termst, in short, that his was a “ limited monarchy,” although the


Fragm. ii. 3 : ed. Schneidewin.

+ 'Επί ρήτους γέρασι.

terms imposed upon him were imposed solely by the aristocracy, who retained the legislative power. A tupavvos*,

τυραννος, on the contrary, was a man, who rising to power by the popular voice, proceeded at once to assume both the executive and legislative functions, and to equalise all below the throne. Royalty, Basiasa, was established to unite the aristocracy, and thus enable them better to protect themselves against the plebcians. They chose, by election, a head most suitable for the purpose, whereas the tyrant was chosen from the number of the people, and by them, in order to oppose the aristocracy. Kleisthenes of Sicyon, who rose from the Achaean subject tribe of that state, and lowered the aristocratic Dorians, is as notable an example of the Greek democratic tyrant as can well be selected. We have an excellent picture of the feelings of the vanquished patricians in the poems of the Megarean aristocrat, Theognis, whose order was subdued by a plebeian despot. In Italy, too, the people with no wish to renounce their liberty, desired, not a master, but a protector against the nobles; and endowing him, as Sismondi t says, with command of their forces, and the chief magistracy of the state, found to their cost that the signor became a sovereign. Another distinction worth noting between a feudal king and a monarch elevated by the commons is, that the

* If a Bagilevç managed to overthrow or subdue the aristocracy and found an absolute monarchy, as in the case of Denmark, he would become in effect a τυραννος.

The characteristic of such a potentate being, that he ruled without checks from an aristocracy and with the favour of the populace. The tyrant of Grecian and mediæval Italy, was, however, in general a mere interlude in the contests of the patricians and plebeians, set up by the latter faction in their period of triumph, and deposed when fortune returned to the patricians.

† Sismondi, speaking of Philip della Torre, signor of the populace of Como, Vercelli, and Bergamo: “Dans ces villes, non plus que dans celles que son frère s'était auparavant assujetties, le peuple ne croyait point renoncer à sa liberté, il n'avait point voulu choisir un maître, mais seulement un protecteur contre les nobles, un capitaine des gens

de guerre, et un chef de la justice. L'expérience lui apprit trop tard, que ces prérogatives réunies constituaient un souverain." —Repub. Ital. iii. 273.

former is king of the soil, the latter king of the people. Sometimes, indeed, a patriciate body for the purpose of checking the plebeian order, creates a quasi-regal office, but, unlike the plebeians, it always knows how to check such a potentate. The dictatorship of Rome, when first established, was merely a means for the evasion of the Valerian laws, and was in fact only a revival of the ancient custom of electing a king by the votes of the patricians.

Fifthly, the commons raised into power may overthrow the crown and the aristocracy. While the nobles of France had all become courtiers, and villenage was maintained on their estates, the towns were allowed to grow in importance, and the class which they brought into prominence, the Tiers Etat, finding themselves by their wealth and energy a power in the state, but not recognised as a power in the constitution, rose against the aristocratic families, then impoverished by the number of their members. If the aristocracy had not, as a political constitution, been totally destroyed, it would have been recalled to power on the reaction produced by the extremes of popular fury, and the disappointment felt by those who in seeking liberty had only erected a tyrant. The downfall of a Grecian or Italian tyrant was followed by the resumption of supreme power by the aristocracy, so long as that body retained sufficient strength in the state to take advantage of the opportunity ; but when successive blows, and the natural progress of society, which always weakens the patricians and strengthens the commons, had at the last outbreak of popular frenzy rendered the former too feeble to overthrow the plebeian monarch, the despotic government is firmly established, however unsure may be the power of the despot himself. Julius Cæsar, backed by the commons, was too strong for the enfeebled patricians, and his death gave no more opening to the patricians, but only afforded occasion for a new tuparvos, or as he was then called, emperor.

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