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History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empir

In hoc immenso aliarum super alias acervatarum legum cumulo


[Footnote

21: Listen to Cicero (de Legibus, ii. 23) and his representative Crassus, (de Oratore, i. 43, 44.)]

[Footnote 22: See Heineccius, (Hist. J. R. No. 29--33.) I have followed the restoration of the xii. tables by Gravina (Origines J. C. p. 280--307) and Terrasson, (Hist. de la Jurisprudence Romaine, p. 94--205.) Note: The wish expressed by Warnkonig, that the text and the conjectural emendations on the fragments of the xii. tables should be submitted to rigid criticism, has been fulfilled by Dirksen, Uebersicht der bisherigen Versuche Leipzig Kritik und Herstellung des Textes der Zwolf-Tafel-Fragmente, Leipzug, 1824.--M.]

[Footnote 23: Finis aequi juris, (Tacit. Annal. iii. 27.) Fons omnis publici et privati juris, (T. Liv. iii. 34.) * Note: From the context of the phrase in Tacitus, "Nam secutae leges etsi alquando in maleficos ex delicto; saepius tamen dissensione ordinum * * * latae sunt," it is clear that Gibbon has rendered this sentence incorrectly. Hugo, Hist. p. 62.--M.]

[Footnote 24: De principiis juris, et quibus modis ad hanc multitudinem infinitam ac varietatem legum perventum sit altius disseram, (Tacit. Annal. iii. 25.) This deep disquisition fills only two pages, but they are the pages of Tacitus. With equal sense, but with less energy, Livy (iii. 34) had complained, in hoc immenso aliarum super alias acervatarum legum cumulo, &c.]

[Footnote

25: Suetonius in Vespasiano, c. 8.]

[Footnote 26: Cicero ad Familiares, viii. 8.]

The Decemvirs had been named, and their tables were approved, by an assembly of the centuries, in which riches preponderated against numbers. To the first class of Romans, the proprietors of one hundred thousand pounds of copper, [27] ninety-eight votes were assigned, and only ninety-five were left for the six inferior classes, distributed according to their substance by the artful policy of Servius. But the tribunes soon established a more specious and popular maxim, that every citizen has an equal right to enact the laws which he is bound to obey. Instead of the centuries, they convened the tribes; and the patricians, after an impotent struggle, submitted to the decrees of an assembly, in which their votes were confounded with those of the meanest plebeians. Yet as long as the tribes successively passed over narrow bridges [28] and gave their voices aloud, the conduct of each citizen was exposed to the eyes and ears of his friends and countrymen. The insolvent debtor consulted the wishes of his creditor; the client would have blushed to oppose the views of his patron; the general was followed by his veterans, and the aspect of a grave magistrate was a living lesson to the multitude. A new method of secret ballot abolished the influence of fear and shame, of honor and interest, and the abuse of freedom accelerated the progress of anarchy and despotism. [29] The Romans had aspired


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