A DRIVE IN DEVONSHIRE.
erty he hoped to inherit. The attempt was clumsy and it failed. The friend was proved to have died where Cluentius could have had no access to him; and a nephew, and not Cluentius, was his heir. The next accusation was of having tried to poison the surviving son of Oppianicus. Cluentius and the younger Oppianicus had been together at a festival at Larino. Another youth who was also present there had died a few days later, and it was alleged that he had drunk by mistake from a cup which had been prepared for Sassia's stepson. But again the evidence broke down. There was no proof that the death was caused by poison, or that Cluentius was in any way connected with it.
The accursed woman, though twice baffled, would not abandon her object. In both instances proof of malice had been wanting. Cluentius had no object in perpetrating either of the crimes of which she had accused him. If he had no grudge against the young Oppianicus, however, he had undoubtedly hated his father, and she professed to have discovered that the father had not died, as had been reported, by the fall from his horse, but had been poisoned by a cake which had been administered to him at Cluentius's instigation. The method in which Sassia went to work to make out her case throws a fresh and hideous light on the Roman administration of justice in the last days of liberty. She produced two witnesses who were both slaves. To one of them, Nicostratus, a Greek, she owed an old grudge. He had belonged to Oppianicus the elder, and had revealed certain infidelities of hers which had led to inconvenience. The other, Strato, was the slave of a doctor who had attended Oppianicus after his accident. Since neither of these men were willing to say what she required them to say of their own accord, she demanded according to custom that they should be tortured. The Roman law did not acknowledge any rights in these human chattels: a slave on the day of his bondage ceased to be a man. Nicostratus and Strato were racked till the executioners were weary, but nothing could be extracted from them. A distinguished advocate who was present, and was not insensible to pity, said that the slaves were being tortured not to make them tell the truth, but to make them lie. The court took the same view, and they were released.
Once more Sassia was defeated, but she waited her opportunity. Three years later, the orator Hortensius, a general protector of rogues, was elected to the consulate. The vindictiveness with which she had come forward as the prosecutrix of her own son had injured her cause. She made one more effort, and this time she prevailed on the young Oppianicus, who had meanwhile married her daughter, to appear in her place. She had purchased Strato after his escape from the torture, and had power of life and death over him. He had murdered a fellow-slave; and it was alleged that when he confessed to this crime, he had confessed to the other also. He was crucified, and to prevent his telling inconvenient truths upon the cross, his tongue was cut out before he was nailed upon it. On the strength of his pretended deposition, a criminal process was once more instituted against Cluentius before a Roman jury. The story had by this time become so notorious, and the indignation of the provinces had been so deeply roused, that deputations from every town in the south of Italy came to the capital to bear witness in Cluentius's favor. How the trial ended is unknown. It may be hoped that he was acquitted — but it is uncertain. Innocent men have suffered by millions in this world. As many guilty wretches have escaped, and seemed to triumph; but the vengeance which follows upon evil acts does not sleep because individuals are wronged. The penalty is exacted to the last farthing from the community which permits injustice to be done. And the republican commonwealth of Rome was fast filling the measure of its iniquities. In another half-century perjured juries and corrupted magistrates had finished their work; the world could endure them no longer, and the free institutions which had been the admiration of mankind were buried under the throne of the Cæsars. J. A. Froude.
From The Spectator.
A DRIVE IN DEVONSHIRE.
Lyme Regis is a precipitous place, and associated with precipitate people. Its principal street seems, as Miss Austen says, to hurry down into the water; the cliffs in the neighborhood are fertile in landslips; indeed, much of the shore is now a lovely wilderness of crumbled cliff, overgrown with the finest sward, and ferns, and shrubs. It was at Lyme that Monmouth landed when he hurried into his premature revolution; and at Lyme that