Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/96

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

might have remained a republic, enduring even to our own day. The seeds of destruction lie not in the race nor in the form of government, but in the influences by which the best men are cut off from the work of parenthood.

"The Roman Empire," says Seeley, "perished for want of men." The dire scarcity of men is noted even by Julius C├Žsar. And at the same time it is noted that there are men enough. Rome was filling up like an overflowing marsh. Men of a certain type were plenty, "people with guano in their composition," to use Emerson's striking phrase, but the self-reliant farmers, the hardy dwellers on the flanks of the Apennines, the Roman men of the early Roman days, these were fast going, and with the change in the breed came the change in Roman history.

"The mainspring of the Roman army for centuries had been the patient strength and courage, capacity for enduring hardships, instinctive submission to military discipline of the population that lined the Apennines."

With the Antonines came "a period of sterility and barrenness in human beings." "The human harvest was bad." Bounties were offered for marriage. Penalties were devised against race-suicide. "Marriage," says Metellus, "is a duty which, however painful, every citizen ought manfully to discharge." Wars were conducted in the face of a declining birth rate, and this decline in quality and quantity of the human harvest engaged very early the attention of the wise men of Rome.

"The effect of the wars was that the ranks of the small farmers were decimated, while the number of slaves who did not serve in the army multiplied" (Bury).

Thus "Vir gave place to Homo" real men to mere human beings. There were always men enough such as they were. "A hencoop will be filled, whatever the (original) number of hens," said Benjamin Franklin. And thus the mob filled Rome. No wonder the mob-leader, the mob-hero, rose in relative importance. No wonder "the little finger of Constantine was thicker than the loins of Augustus." No wonder that "if Tiberius chastised his subjects with whips, Valentinian chastised them with scorpions."

"Government having assumed godhead took at the same time the appurtenances of it. Officials multiplied. Subjects lost their rights. Abject fear paralyzed the people and those that ruled were intoxicated with insolence and cruelty." "The worst government is that which is most worshipped as divine." "The emperor possessed in the army an overwhelming force over which citizens had no influence, which was totally deaf to reason or eloquence, which had no patriotism because it had no country, which had no humanity because it had no domestic ties." "There runs through Roman literature a brigand's and barbar-