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History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empir

The various cognomens or surnames of Scipio


[Footnote

141: See the Institutes (l. i. tit. iv. v.) and the Pandects, (l. vii.) Noodt has composed a learned and distinct treatise de Usufructu, (Opp. tom. i. p. 387--478.)]

[Footnote 142: The questions de Servitutibus are discussed in the Institutes (l. ii. tit. iii.) and Pandects, (l. viii.) Cicero (pro Murena, c. 9) and Lactantius (Institut. Divin. l. i. c. i.) affect to laugh at the insignificant doctrine, de aqua de pluvia arcenda, &c. Yet it might be of frequent use among litigious neighbors, both in town and country.]

The personal title of the first proprietor must be determined by his death: but the possession, without any appearance of change, is peaceably continued in his children, the associates of his toil, and the partners of his wealth. This natural inheritance has been protected by the legislators of every climate and age, and the father is encouraged to persevere in slow and distant improvements, by the tender hope, that a long posterity will enjoy the fruits of his labor. The principle of hereditary succession is universal; but the order has been variously established by convenience or caprice, by the spirit of national institutions, or by some partial example which was originally decided by fraud or violence. The jurisprudence of the Romans appear to have deviated from the inequality of nature much less than the Jewish, [143] the Athenian, [144] or the English institutions. [145] On the death of a

citizen, all his descendants, unless they were already freed from his paternal power, were called to the inheritance of his possessions. The insolent prerogative of primogeniture was unknown; the two sexes were placed on a just level; all the sons and daughters were entitled to an equal portion of the patrimonial estate; and if any of the sons had been intercepted by a premature death, his person was represented, and his share was divided, by his surviving children. On the failure of the direct line, the right of succession must diverge to the collateral branches. The degrees of kindred [146] are numbered by the civilians, ascending from the last possessor to a common parent, and descending from the common parent to the next heir: my father stands in the first degree, my brother in the second, his children in the third, and the remainder of the series may be conceived by a fancy, or pictured in a genealogical table. In this computation, a distinction was made, essential to the laws and even the constitution of Rome; the agnats, or persons connected by a line of males, were called, as they stood in the nearest degree, to an equal partition; but a female was incapable of transmitting any legal claims; and the cognats of every rank, without excepting the dear relation of a mother and a son, were disinherited by the Twelve Tables, as strangers and aliens. Among the Romans agens or lineage was united by a common name and domestic rites; the various cognomens or surnames of Scipio, or Marcellus, distinguished from each other the subordinate branches or families of the Cornelian or Claudian race: the default of the agnats, of the same surname, was supplied by the larger denomination of gentiles; and the vigilance of the laws maintained, in the same name, the perpetual descent of religion and property. A similar principle dictated the Voconian law, [147] which abolished the right of female inheritance. As long as virgins were given or sold in marriage, the adoption of the wife extinguished the hopes of the daughter. But the equal succession of independent matrons supported their pride and luxury, and might transport into a foreign house the riches of their fathers.


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