Sidor som bilder

* Crassus was aiming, like Pompeius, at the exasperation of the public dissensions. . . . . Pompeius, least of all men, knew how to make an overture of reconciliation. It was in these circumstances that he was disposed to invite Cesar to his counsels.'-Ib. p. 188.

As a literary curiosity, we will quote, in contrast, from Arnold's summary of Pompeius's character :

• The tears that were shed for Pompey were not only those of domestic affliction; his fate called forth a more general and honourable mourning. No man had ever gained, at so early an age, the affections of his countrymen ; none had enjoyed them so largely, or preserved them so long with so little interruption. . . He entered upon public life as a distinguished member of an oppressed party which was just arriving at its hour of triumph and retaliation; he saw his associates plunged in rapine and massacre, but he preserved himself pure from the contagion of their crimes. . . He endeavoured to mitigate the evils of their ascendency, by restoring to the commons of Rome, on the earliest opportunity, the most important of those privileges and liberties which they had lost under the tyranny of their late master. He received the due reward of his honest patriotism, in the unusual honours and trusts that were conferred upon him; but his greatness could not corrupt his virtue : and the boundless powers with which he was repeatedly invested, he wielded with the highest ability and uprightness to the accomplishment of his task, and then, without any undue attempts to prolong their duration, he honestly resigned them. At a period of general cruelty and extortion towards the enemies and subjects of the Commonwealth, the character of Pompey, in his foreign commands, was marked by its humanity and spotless integrity. His conquest of the pirates was effected with wonderful rapidity, and cemented by a merciful policy, which, instead of taking vengeance for the past, accomplished the prevention of evil for the future. His presence in Asia .: was no less a relief to the provinces from the tyranny of their governors, than it was their protection against the arms of the enemy.' —Vol. i. p. 540.

Arnold then proceeds to confess that Pompeius's connexion with Cæsar afterwards involved him in a career of difficulty, mortification, and shame; but no sooner had he broken loose from Cæsar, than he was again, by universal confession, the natural and fit protector of the laws and liberties of his country.

Now since Mr. Merivale, in his Preface, declares that he would not have thought of writing this history, if Arnold had lived to extend his maturer work, we think he was bound to give to the public some explanation of this intensely opposite view of Pompeius. No one, in fact, could imagine that Arnold and Merivale are speaking of the same man.

We must take the counts one by one.

1. Was Pompeius cold-hearted, false, and proud ? Hear some testimony in reply :

[ocr errors]

* Towards Pompeius the Roman people seem to have been disposed, from the very first, just as the Prometheus of Æschylus towards his deliverer Hercules, when he says :

Though hateful is the sire, most dear to me the son :" for neither did the Romans ever display hatred so violent and savage towards

any commander, as towards Strabo, the father of Pompeius, : . . nor, on the other hand, did any other Roman, besides Pompeius, ever receive from the people tokens of affection so strong or so early, or which grew so rapidly with his good fortune, or abided with him so firmly in his reverses. The cause of their hatred to the father was his insatiable avarice : the causes of their affection to the son were many; his temperate life, his practice in arms, the persuasiveness of his speech, the integrity of his character, and his affability to every man who came in his way; so that there was no man from whom another could ask a favour with so little pain, and no man whose requests another would more willingly labour to satisfy. For, in addition to his other endearing qualities, Pompeius could give without seeming to confer a favour, and he could receive with dignity.'— Plutarch, Pomp. 1.

Mr. Merivale is fond of calling Pompey'a crafty dissembler' (a phrase justly applied by Appian to Cæsar), but it may

rather be believed that too great impulsiveness was his natural character. This was first shown in his canvassing for Lepidus against the judgment of Sulla ; and more pleasingly in his canvass for Crassus :

Crassus, though the richest of all who were engaged in public life, and the most powerful speaker and the greatest man, and though he thought himself above Pompeius and every body else, did not venture to become a candidate for the consulship, till he had applied to Pompeius. Pompeius, indeed, was well pleased with this; as he had long wished to have an opportunity of doing some service and friendly act to Crassus. Accordingly, he readily accepted the advances of Crassus, and in his address to the people he declared that he should be as grateful to them for his colleague, as for the consulship. However, when they were elected consuls, they differed about every thing, and came into collision : in the Senate, Crassus had more weight, but among the people the influence of Pompeius was great.'— Plutarch, Pomp. 22.

This little story gives, in brief, the cause of Pompeius's failure in civil life. He was too generous and impulsive, and thus got entangled into positions from which there was no honourable retreat. After his fatal coalition with so cool-headed and longscheming a man as Cæsar, he lost his independence, and was driven into the greatest act of meanness he ever committed—the surrender of Cicero to his enemy Clodius.

It appears, however, to us, to be contrary to all evidence and all probability, that Mr. Merivale represents Pompeius as full of spite against Cicero when he returned from Asia, and calls P. Clodius the upstart creature of Pompeius. The proud

patrician would probably have said, that he was Pompeius's patron ; and so Plutarch regarded it. We do not find any evidence offered to us, that Pompeius ever planned to use Clodius as his tool: but Cæsar did; and this seems to be Mr. Merivale's error, in saying that Pompeius was constantly deceived in his instruments ;' i.e., he chooses to regard P. Clodius as an instrument of Pompeius, and then censures Pompeius for selecting his creature so ill.

2. Was Pompeius cruel ?

Now, as to those enemies of Sulla who were of the greatest note and were openly taken, Pompeius of necessity punished them; but as to the rest, he allowed as many as he could to escape detection, and he eren aided some in getting away. Pompeius had determined to punish the inhabitants of Himera, which had sided with the enemy; but Sthenis, the popular leader, told Pompeius that he would not do right if he let the guilty man escape and punish the innocent ones. On Pompey asking who “the guilty man” was, Sthenis replied, it was himself; for he had persuaded those citizens who were his friends, and forced those who were his enemies. Pompeius admiring the bold speech and spirit of the man, pardoned him first, and then all the rest. Hearing that his soldiers were committing excesses on the march, he put a seal on their swords, and he who broke the seal was punished.'Ib. p. 10.

* As Pompeius treated mercifully some of the piratical crews, . the rest, entertaining good hopes, endeavoured to get out of the way of the other officers, and coming to Pompeius, they put themselves into his hands with their children and wives. But he spared all; and it was chiefly through their assistance that he tracked out and caught those who still lurked in concealment, as being conscious that they had committed unpardonable crimes.

.... The war was ended ... in no more than three months. Pompeius received by surrender many ships, and among them ninety with brazen beaks. The pirates, who amounted to more than 20,000, he never thought of putting to death; but ... he determined to transfer them to the land from the sea, and to let them taste a quiet life, &c. To the greater part he gave, as their residence, Dyme, in Achaia, which was then without inhabitants, and had much good land.

* Crete was a second source of pirates, and next to Cilicia; and Metellus, having caught many of them in the island, took them prisoners, and put them to death. Those who still survived, and were blockaded, sent a suppliant message, and invited Pompeius to the island, as being a part of his government. Pompeius accepted the invitation, and wrote to Metellus to forbid his continuing the war, &c.'—16. 27–29.

It was because of his mild and gentle disposition that Tigranes surrendered freely to him; and by reason of Pompeius's own virtue and mildness, the provinces patiently endured various extortions from unworthy subordinates (Plut. Pomp. 39).

But what is to be said to Mr. Merivale's formidable proof of Pompey's cruelty, that he had shed the best blood of Rome . a Carbo, a Brutus, a Scipio Æmilianus ?' We reply—all these men met their death most justly. Carbo is described by Plutarch as a 'still more furious tyrant than Cinna' (Pomp. 5), and there can be no doubt that he bore a full responsibility in the Marian massacre of B. c. 87. Pompeius abhorred him for his crimes, and had him put to death as a thing of course, when he had made him a prisoner of war.

With regard to the other two persons, the circumstances of the insurrection of Æmilius Lepidus need to be considered. M. Æmilius was a partisan of Sulla, who began to talk boldly of reaction. Pompeius felt so strong an interest in him, that he canvassed for him, to Sulla's great disgust, and obtained his election to the consulate. When we consider that the very first act of Pompeius, as soon as he stepped into civil power, was to repeal some of the aristocratic laws of Sulla, and conciliate the depressed faction, we can hardly be wrong in judging that Æmilius had won Pompeius's support, by promising that he would soften the harshest of Sulla's enactments, and heal the wounds of the state. Instead of this, he plunged into a fanatical extreme, used the powers of his office to bring about a new convulsion, and in the next year broke out into actual civil war. Never was there a more causeless and more treacherous insurrection. If Æmilius and all his partisans had been slaughtered in mass, no one could have wondered. He himself, however, died of vexation (it is said); his lieutenant, Brutus, was put to death by Pompeius; and likewise (if Mr. Merivale is correct), Scipio Æmilianus, the son of Lepidus. We do not know on what authority this rests : Orosius states barely that he was

caught and slain. He had, as his father, fought in this most guilty war; and his execution (if by the general's order) implied no cruelty in Pompeius. Indeed, the great mildness of this victory is universally remarked upon. So dangerous and exasperating an attempt was atoned for by two or three lives. For the death of Brutus indeed, who had surrendered, Plutarch blames Pompeius; but he seems to suspect that he was betrayed by his army. The probability is, that Brutus did surrender, in appearance voluntarily; but that Pompeius, afterwards discovering that he had known his men were about to betray him, did not think this compulsory surrender entitled him to mercy. Concerning the son of Lepidus, there is no breath of disapprobation against Pompeius in Plutarch; who clearly thinks the sole ground of mercy to Brutus lay in his surrender having been voluntary.

Such is the remorseless cruelty' of this young hangman,' who had licked the sword of Sulla.' It fills us with shame and indignation to write such words concerning the noble Pompeius. As to the dread of the aristocracy, lest Pompeius should become dictator,' Mr. Merivale totally misinterprets it. They dreaded lest any one at all should become dictator ; but least of all, lest Pompey: nay, Bibulus, who had long been Pompey's dogged opponent, volunteered to propose, that, since a temporary despotism was necessary, the Senate should make him sole consul, in order that they might become slaves to the best man among them.' His motion, to the general surprise, was seconded by Cato. (Plut. Pomp. 51.)

But oh! how grievously does Mr. Merivale suppress or explain away all the moral excellences of Pompeius! This great man was as chaste and tender a husband, as Cæsar was notoriously unchaste; and Mr. Merivale attributes it to the coldness of his nature ! Coldness! the courtezan Flora would have told him another tale (Plut. Pomp. 2). Such was Pompeius's fear of beauty, where his power was uncontrolled, that he assumed overstrained stiffness, which was thought unkind, towards the eminently beautiful widow of his favourite freedman Demetrius. In Asia, towards the illustrious beauties in the harem of Mithridates, he behaved as a brother anxious for their honour, and sent them all back to their kinsfolk. Yet, in his absence from Rome,

his wife Mucia had been seduced. While Pompeius was at a distance, he treated the report with contempt; but when he had come to Italy, and had examined the charge more deliberately, as it seems, he sent her notice of divorce ; though neither then nor afterwards did he say why he had put her away.' (Plut. Pomp. 42. Cicero announcing the fact to his friend Atticus, says:

The divorce of Mucia is exceedingly approved of ;' which shows that her guilt was notorious. It was the fixed opinion (says Suetonius, Cæsar, 50), that Cæsar was her paramour; and we do not know why Mr. Merivale should disdain to imagine the possibility of it, when in vague, but strong terms he allows, but palliates, Cæsar's heartless dissoluteness. We however do complain that he libels Pompeius in this matter, by suggesting that he divorced a blameless wife in order to strengthen himself by a high alliance! and was so stupid, as to offend two great families by divorcing Mucia-sister of a Metellus, and daughter of a Scævola—in order to effect an intermarriage with the family of Cato! The refusal of his overtures by Cato was an act of self-denial most lamentable to Rome. No event could have been happier than such an alliance, which Pompeius was induced to desire from his warm admiration of Cato. But Cato saw in it only a snare to his virtue, and drove Pompeius to seek the patronage of Cæsar and Clodius, in order to get his acts in Asia confirmed.

But we were proceeding to say, that Pompeius, now in middle

[ocr errors]
« FöregåendeFortsätt »