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wrath, calls him an impudent scoundrel, and kicks him out of the room.
It is observed of great and heroic minds, that they have not only shewn a particular disregard to those unmerited reproaches which have been cast upon them, but have been altogether free from that impertinent curiosity of inquiring after them, or the poor revenge of resenting them. The histories of Alexander and Cæsar are full of this kind of instances. Vulgar souls are of a quite contrary character. Dionysius, the tyrant of Syracuse, had a dungeon which was a very curious piece of architecture, and of which, as I am informed, there are still to be seen some remains in that island. It. was called DIONYSIUS'S EAR, and built with sc→ veral little windings and labyrinths, in the form of a real ear. The structure of it made it a kind of whispering place, but such a one as gathered the voice of him who spoke into a funnel, which was placed at the very top of it. The tyrant used to lodge all his state criminals, or those whom he supposed to be engaged together in any evil designs upon him, in this dungeon. He had at the same time an apartment over it, where he used to apply himself to the funnel, and by that means overhear every thing that was whispered in the dungeon. I believe one may venture to affirm, that a Cæsar or an Alexander would have rather died by the treason, than have used such disingenuous means. for the detection of it.
CORNUTUS [informed against by one of the spies of Tiberius] having put an end to his own lifebelieving as he did that prosecution was a prelude to destruction a motion was made in the senate,
that whenever the person accused of high treason prevented judgment by a voluntary death, the informers should be entitled to no reward. The fathers inclined to the opinion: but Tiberius, in plain terms, without his usual ambiguity, shewed himself the patron of the whole tribe of informers. "The course of justice," he said," would be stopt, by such a decision, and the common"wealth be brought to the brink of ruin. It
were better to abrogate all laws at once, than to 684 remove the vigilance that gives them energy." Thus that pernicious crew, the bane and scourge of society, who, in fact, have never been sufficiently restrained, were let loose, with the wages of iniquity in view, to harrass and destroy their fellow
In proportion as they rose in guilt, informers became sacred characters. If any were punished, it was only such as were mere novices in guilt, obscure and petty villains, who had no talents for mischief.
The [spies] held it necessary that the conver sation of Sabinus should be heard by more than one. A place for this purpose, secure and solitary, was to be chosen. To listen behind doors, were to hazard a discovery; they might be seen, or overheard, or some trifling accident might give the alarm. The scene of action at length was fixed. The
They chose the cavity between the roof of the house and the ceiling of the room. In that vile lurking hole, with an execrable design, three Ro man senators lay concealed, their ears applied to chinks and crannies, listening to conversation, and by fraud collecting evidence. To complete this plan of iniquity, Latiaris met Sabinus in the street, and under pretence of communicating secret intelligence, decoyed him to the house, and to the very room where the infamous eves-droppers lay in am bush. There Latiaris entered into conversation; he recalled past grievances; he stated recent calamities, and opened a train of evils to come. Sabinus went over the same ground, more animated than before, and more in the detail. When griefs, which have been long pent up, once find a vent, men love to discharge the load that weighs upon the heart. From the materials thus collected, the [spies] drew up an accusation in form, and sent it to the emperor, with a memorial to their own disgrace and infamy, setting forth the whole of their conduct. Rome was never at any period so distracted with anxiety and terror. Men were afraid of knowing each other; society was at a pause; relations, friends, and strangers, stood at gaze; no public meeting, no private confidence; things inanimate had ears, and roofs and walls were deemed informers.
Tiberius dispatched a letter to the senate Judgment of death was pronounced. was seized, and dragged through the streets to im
Muffled in his robe, his voice
almost stifled, he presented to the gazing multitude a tragic spectacle, He cried out with what power of utterance he could, "Behold the bloody "opening of the year. With victims like myself "Sejanus [favourite of Tiberius] must be glutted!" Wherever he looked, to whatever side he directed his voice, the people shrunk back dismayed; they fled, they disappeared; the public places and the forum were abandoned; the streets became a desert. In their confusion some returned to the same spot, as if willing to behold the horrid scene, alarmed for themselves, and dreading the crime of appearing terrified.
IMMEDIATELY after the death of Drusus, [grandson of Tiberius] Tiberius ordered a daybook to be read before the fathers, in which the words and actions of this prince had been carefully recorded. In the annals of history is there any thing to match this black, this horrible inquisition? For a length of time spies of state had been appointed to keep a register of words, to interpret looks, and note the groans that issued from the
Ib. b. vi.
A MERCENARY informer knows no distinction. Under such a system, the obnoxious people are slaves, not only to the government, but they live at the of every individual; they are at once
the slaves of the whole community, and of every part of it; and the worst and most unmerciful men are those on whose goodness they most depend.
In this situation men not only shrink from the frowns of a stern magistrate; but they are obliged to fly from their very species. The seeds of destruction are sown in civil intercourse, in social habitudes. The blood of wholesome kindred is infected. Their tables and beds are surrounded with snares. All the means given by Providence to make life safe and comfortable, are perverted into instruments of terror and torture. This species of universal subserviency, that makes the very servant who waits behind your chair, the arbiter of your life and fortune, has such a tendency to degrade and abase mankind, and to deprive them of that assured and liberal state of mind, which alone can make us what we ought to be, that I vow to God I would sooner bring myself to put a man to immediate death for opinions I disliked, and so to get rid of the man and his opinions at once, than to fret him with a feverish being, tainted with the jail distemper of a contagious servitude, to keep him above ground, an animated mass of putrefaction, corrupted himself, and corrupting all about him.
Speech at Bristol, p. 34-5.
I DISLIKE the cry of fear, because it has been the cry of tyrants since the beginning of the world Tiberius was in perpetual alarm; Henry the eighth was ever surrounded with plots and assassinations ;