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EDWARD GIBBON (1737-1794)_HISTORY OF ROMAN-1_21

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EDWARD GIBBON (1737-1794)_HISTORY OF ROMAN-1_21

    f Mr. Pitt's eloquence, the description of the Roman

    slave-dealer. on the shores of Britain, condemning the island to

    irreclaimable barbarism, as a perpetual and prolific nursery of

slaves? Speeches, vol. ii. p. 80.

     Gibbon, it should be added, was one of the first and most

    consistent opponents of the African slave-trade. (See Hist. ch.

    xxv. and Letters to Lor Sheffield, Misc. Works) - M.]

    [Footnote 48: See a remarkable instance of severity in Cicero in

Verrem, v. 3.]

    [Footnote *: An active slave-trade, which was carried on in many

    quarters, particularly the Euxine, the eastern provinces, the

    coast of Africa, and British must be taken into the account.

Blair, 23 - 32. - M.]

    [Footnote !: The Romans, as well in the first ages of the

    republic as later, allowed to their slaves a kind of marriage,

    (contubernium: ) notwithstanding this, luxury made a greater

    number of slaves in demand. The increase in their population was

    not sufficient, and recourse was had to the purchase of slaves,

    which was made even in the provinces of the East subject to the

    Romans. It is, moreover, known that slavery is a state little

    favorable to population. (See Hume's Essay, and Malthus on

    population, i. 334. - G.) The testimony of Appian (B.C. l. i. c.

    7) is decisive in favor of the rapid multiplication of the

    agricultural slaves; it is confirmed by the numbers engaged in

    the servile wars. Compare also Blair, p. 119; likewise Columella

l. viii. - M.]

    [Footnote 49: See in Gruter, and the other collectors, a great

    number of inscriptions addressed by slaves to their wives,

    children, fellow-servants, masters, &c. They are all most

probably of the Imperial age.]

    [Footnote 50: See the Augustan History, and a Dissertation of M.

    de Burigny, in the xxxvth volume of the Academy of Inscriptions,

upon the Roman slaves.]

     Hope, the best comfort of our imperfect condition, was not

    denied to the Roman slave; and if he had any opportunity of

    rendering himself either useful or agreeable, he might very

    naturally expect that the diligence and fidelity of a few years

    would be rewarded with the inestimable gift of freedom. The

    benevolence of the master was so frequently prompted by the

    meaner suggestions of vanity and avarice, that the laws found it

    more necessary to restrain than to encourage a profuse and

    undistinguishing liberality, which might degenerate into a very

    dangerous abuse. ^51 It was a maxim of ancient jurisprudence,

    that a slave had not any country of his own; he acquired with his

    liberty an admission into the political society of which his

    patron was a member. The consequences of this maxim would have

    prostituted the privileges of the Roman city to a mean and

    promiscuous multitude. Some seasonable exceptions were therefore

    provided; and the honorable distinction was confined to such

    slaves only as, for just causes, and with the approbation of the

    magistrate, should receive a solemn and legal manumission. Even

    these chosen freedmen obtained no more than the private rights of

    citizens, and were rigorously excluded from civil or military

    honors. Whatever might be the merit or fortune of their sons,

    they likewise were esteemed unworthy of a seat in the senate; nor

    were the traces of a servile origin allowed to be completely

    obliterated till the third or fourth generation. ^52 Without

    destroying the distinction of ranks, a distant prospect of

    freedom and honors was presented, even to those whom pride and

    prejudice almost disdained to number among the human species.

    [Footnote 51: See another Dissertation of M. de Burigny, in the

xxxviith volume, on the Roman freedmen.]

    [Footnote 52: Spanheim, Orbis Roman. l. i. c. 16, p. 124, &c.]

     It was once proposed to discriminate the slaves by a

    peculiar habit; but it was justly apprehended that there might be

    some danger in acquainting them with their own numbers. ^53

    Without interpreting, in their utmost strictness, the liberal

    appellations of legions and myriads, ^54 we may venture to

    pronounce, that the proportion of slaves, who were valued as

    property, was more considerable than that of servants, who can be

    computed only as an expense. ^55 The youths of a promising genius

    were instructed in the arts and sciences, and their price was

    ascertained by the degree of their skill and talents. ^56 Almost

    every profession, either liberal ^57 or mechanical, might be

    found in the household of an opulent senator. The ministers of

    pomp and sensuality were multiplied beyond the conception of

    modern luxury. ^58 It was more for the interest of the merchant

    or manufacturer to purchase, than to hire his workmen; and in the

    country, slaves were employed as the cheapest and most laborious

    instruments of agriculture. To confirm the general observation,

    and to display the multitude of slaves, we might allege a variety

    of particular instances. It was discovered, on a very melancholy

    occasion, that four hundred slaves were maintained in a single

    palace of Rome. ^59 The same number of four hundred belonged to

    an estate which an African widow, of a very private condition,

    resigned to her son, whilst she reserved for herself a much

    larger share of her property. ^60 A freedman, under the name of

    Augustus, though his fortune had suffered great losses in the

    civil wars, left behind him three thousand six hundred yoke of

    oxen, two hundred and fifty thousand head of smaller cattle, and

    what was almost included in the description of cattle, four

thousand one hundred and sixteen slaves. ^61

    [Footnote 53: Seneca de Clementia, l. i. c. 24. The original is

    much stronger, "Quantum periculum immineret si servi nostri

numerare nos coepissent."]

    [Footnote 54: See Pliny (Hist. Natur. l. xxxiii.) and Athenaeus

    (Deipnosophist. l. vi. p. 272.) The latter boldly asserts, that

    he knew very many Romans who possessed, not for use, but

ostentation, ten and even twenty thousand slaves.]

    [Footnote 55: In Paris there are not more than 43,000 domestics

    of every sort, and not a twelfth part of the inhabitants.

Messange, Recherches sui la Population, p. 186.]

    [Footnote 56: A learned slave sold for many hundred pounds

    sterling: Atticus always bred and taught them himself. Cornel.

    Nepos in Vit. c. 13, [on the prices of slaves. Blair, 149.] -

M.]

    [Footnote 57: Many of the Roman physicians were slaves. See Dr.

Middleton's Dissertation and Defence.]

    [Footnote 58: Their ranks and offices are very copiously

enumerated by Pignorius de Servis.]

    [Footnote 59: Tacit. Annal. xiv. 43. They were all executed for

not preventing their master's murder.

     Note: The remarkable speech of Cassius shows the proud

    feelings of the Roman aristocracy on this subject. - M]

    [Footnote 60: Apuleius in Apolog. p. 548. edit. Delphin]

[Footnote 61: Plin. Hist. Natur. l. xxxiii. 47.]

     The number of subjects who acknowledged the laws of Rome, of

    citizens, of provincials, and of slaves, cannot now be fixed with

    such a degree of accuracy, as the importance of the object would

    deserve. We are informed, that when the Emperor Claudius

    exercised the office of censor, he took an account of six

    millions nine hundred and forty-five thousand Roman citizens,

    who, with the proportion of women and children, must have

    amounted to about twenty millions of souls. The multitude of

    subjects of an inferior rank was uncertain and fluctuating. But,

    after weighing with attention every circumstance which could

    influence the balance, it seems probable that there existed, in

    the time of Claudius, about twice as many provincials as there

    were citizens, of either sex, and of every age; and that the

    slaves were at least equal in number to the free inhabitants of

    the Roman world. ^* The total amount of this imperfect

    calculation would rise to about one hundred and twenty millions

    of persons; a degree of population which possibly exceeds that of

    modern Europe, ^62 and forms the most numerous society that has

    ever been united under the same system of government.

    [Footnote *: According to Robertson, there were twice as many

    slaves as free citizens. - G. Mr. Blair (p. 15) estimates three

    slaves to one freeman, between the conquest of Greece, B.C. 146,

    and the reign of Alexander Severus, A. D. 222, 235. The

    proportion was probably larger in Italy than in the provinces. -

    M. On the other hand, Zumpt, in his Dissertation quoted below,

    (p. 86,) asserts it to be a gross error in Gibbon to reckon the

    number of slaves equal to that of the free population. The

    luxury and magnificence of the great, (he observes,) at the

    commencement of the empire, must not be taken as the groundwork

    of calculations for the whole Roman world. The agricultural

    laborer, and the artisan, in Spain, Gaul, Britain, Syria, and

    Egypt, maintained himself, as in the present day, by his own

    labor and that of his household, without possessing a single

    slave." The latter part of my note was intended to suggest this

    consideration. Yet so completely was slavery rooted in the

    social system, both in the east and the west, that in the great

    diffusion of wealth at this time, every one, I doubt not, who

    could afford a domestic slave, kept one; and generally, the

    number of slaves was in proportion to the wealth. I do not

    believe that the cultivation of the soil by slaves was confined

to Italy; the holders of large estates in the provinces would

probably, either from c

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