The Great Events by Famous Historians, Vol 4

Contents:
Author: Edward Gibbon  | Date: A.D. 529-534

Publication of the Justinian Code

A.D. 529-534

EDWARD GIBBON

The richest legacy ever left by one civilization to another was the Justinian Code. This compilation of the entire body of the Roman civil law (Corpus Juris Civilis), as evolved during the thousand years after the Decemvirate legislation of the Twelve Tables, comprises perhaps the most valuable historical data preserved from ancient times. It presents a vivid and authentic picture of the domestic life of the Romans and the rules which governed their relations to each other. This phase of history is considered by modern historians as of far greater importance than the chronicles of battles and court intrigues.

The importance of the Justinian Code, however, is not that of mere history. Its influence as a living force is what compels the admiration and gratitude of mankind. It forms the basis of the systems of law in all the civilized nations of the world, with the exception of those of the English-speaking peoples, and even in these the principles of the civil law—as the Roman law is called in contradistinction to the common and statute law of these nations—form the most important part of the regulations concerning personal property.

For this monumental work the world is indebted to Justinian I (Flavius Anicius Justinianus), the most famous of the emperors of the Eastern Empire since Constantine. He was born a Slavonian peasant. Uprawda, his original name, was Latinized into Justinian when he became an officer in the Imperial Guard. He was adopted, educated, and trained by Justin I, whom he succeeded as emperor. His long reign (527-565) was disturbed by the sanguinary factions of the Circus—the Greens and the Blues, so named from the colors of the competing charioteers in the games—the suppression of the schools of philosophy at Athens, and by various wars. Nevertheless it was marked by magnificent works, the administrative organization of the empire, and the great buildings at Constantinople. The Church of Santa-Sophia, the first great Christian church, although used as a Mahometan mosque since 1459, still stands at Constantinople, with its plain exterior but impressive interior, a monument of Justinian’s reign.

His two great masters of war, foreigners in origin like himself, were Belisarius the Thracian and Narses the Armenian. Africa was wrested from the Vandals; Italy from the successors of Theodoric; and much of Spain from the Western Goths. Under Justinian the Byzantine or Eastern Empire resumed much of the majesty and power of ancient Rome. But the crowning glory of his career was the Code. One of the greatest historians says of his reign: Its most instructive lesson has been drawn from the influence which its legislation has exercised on foreign nations. The unerring instinct of mankind has fixed on this period as one of the greatest eras in man’s annals."

The Code was a digest of the whole mass of Roman law literature, compiled and annotated at the command of Justinian, under the supervision of the great lawyer Tribonian, who, with his helpers, reduced the chaotic mass to a logical system containing the essence of Roman law. The first part of the Codex Constitutionem, prepared in less than a year, was published in April, 529. The second part, the Digest or Pandects, appeared in December, 533. To insure conformity, both were revised and issued in November, 534, the Institutiones, an elementary text-book, founded on the Institutiones of Gaius, who lived A.D. 110-180, being added, and the whole, as a complete body of law, given to the law schools at Constantinople, Rome, Alexandria, Berytus, and Caesarea, for use in their graduate course. Later the Novell Constitutione, or Novels, most of them in Greek, comprising statutes of Justinian arranged chronologically, completed the Code.

Forgotten or ignored during the lawless days of the Dark Ages, an entire copy of this famous code was discovered when Amalphi was taken by the Pisans in 1137. Its publication immediately attracted the attention of the learned world. Gratian, a monk of Bologna, compiled a digest of the canon law on the model of that work, and soon afterward, incorporating with his writings the collections of prior authors, gave his "decretum" to the public in 1151. From that time the two codes, the civil and canon laws, were deemed the principal repositories of legal knowledge, and the study of each was considered necessary to throw light on the other.

Justinian’s example in the codification of laws was followed by almost every European nation after the eighteenth century; the Code Napoleon (1803-04), regulating all that pertains "to the civil rights of citizens and of property," being the most brilliant parallel to the Justinian Code. The reader familiar with the life of Napoleon will recall that all of his historians quote his frequent allusion to the Code Napoleon as the one great work which would be a living monument of his career, when the glory of all his other achievements would be dimmed by time or forgotten.

Gibbon’s examination of the Justinian Code is justly regarded as one of the most important features of the historian’s great work, and in several of the leading universities of Europe has long been used as a text-work on civil law.

When Justinian ascended the throne, the reformation of the Roman jurisprudence was an arduous but indispensable task. In the space of ten centuries, the infinite variety of laws and legal opinions had filled many thousand volumes, which no fortune could purchase and no capacity could digest. Books could not easily be found; and the judges, poor in the midst of riches, were reduced to the exercise of their illiterate discretion. The subjects of the Greek provinces were ignorant of the language that disposed of their lives and properties; and the barbarous dialect of the Latins was imperfectly studied in the academies of Berytus and Constantinople. As an Illyrian soldier, that idiom was familiar to the infancy of Justinian; his youth had been instructed by the lessons of jurisprudence, and his imperial choice selected the most learned civilians of the East, to labor with their sovereign in the work of reformation. The theory of professors was assisted by the practice of advocates and the experience of magistrates, and the whole undertaking was animated by the spirit of Tribonian.

This extraordinary man, the object of so much praise and censure, was a native of Side in Pamphylia; and his genius, like that of Bacon, embraced as his own all the business and knowledge of the age. Tribonian composed, both in prose and verse, on a strange diversity of curious and abstruse subjects; a double panegyric of Justinian and the life of the philosopher Theodotus; the nature of happiness and the duties of government; Homer’s catalogue and the four-and-twenty sorts of metre; the astronomical canon of Ptolemy; the changes of the months’ the bouses of the planets; and the harmonic system of the world. To the literature of Greece he added the use of the Latin tongue; the Roman civilians were deposited in his library and in his mind; and he most assiduously cultivated those arts which opened the road of wealth and preferment. From the bar of the praetorian prefects he raised himself to the honors of quaestor, of consul, and of master of the offices: the council of Justinian listened to his eloquence and wisdom, and envy was mitigated by the gentleness and affability of his manners.

The reproaches of impiety and avarice have stained the virtues or the reputation of Tribonian. In a bigoted and persecuting court the principal minister was accused of a secret aversion to the Christian faith, and was supposed to entertain the sentiments of an atheist and a pagan, which have been imputed, inconsistently enough, to the last philosophers of Greece. His avarice was more clearly proved and more sensibly felt. If he were swayed by gifts in the administration of justice, the example of Bacon will again occur: nor can the merit of Tribonian atone for his baseness, if he degraded the sanctity of his profession; and if laws were every day enacted, modified, or repealed, for the base consideration of his private emolument. In the sedition of Constantinople his removal was granted to the clamors, perhaps to the just indignation, of the people; but the quaestor was speedily restored, and, till the hour of his death, he possessed above twenty years the favor and confidence of the Emperor. His passive and dutiful submission has been honored with the praise of Justinian himself, whose vanity was incapable of discerning how often that submission degenerated into the grossest adulation. Tribonian adored the virtues of his gracious master: the earth was unworthy of such a prince; and he affected a pious fear, that Justinian, like Elijah or Romulus, would be snatched into the air and translated alive to the mansions of celestial glory.

If Caesar had achieved the reformation of the Roman law, his creative genius, enlightened by reflection and study, would have given to the world a pure and original system of jurisprudence. Whatever flattery might suggest, the Emperor of the East was afraid to establish his private judgment as the standard of equity; in the possession of legislative power, he borrowed the aid of time and opinion; and his laborious compilations are guarded by the sages and legislators of past times. Instead of a statue cast in a simple mould by the hand of an artist, the works of Justinian represent a tessellated pavement of antique and costly, but too often of incoherent, fragments. In the first year of his reign he directed the faithful Tribonian and nine learned associates to revise the ordinances of his predecessors, as they were contained, since the time of Adrian, in the Gregorian, Hermogenian, and Theodosian codes; to purge the errors and contradictions, to retrench whatever was obsolete or superfluous, and to select the wise and salutary laws best adapted to the practice of the tribunals and the use of his subjects. The work was accomplished in fourteen months; and the Twelve books or Tables, which the new decemvirs produced, might be designed to imitate the labors of their Roman predecessors.

The new Code of Justinian was honored with his name and confirmed by his royal signature: authentic transcripts were multiplied by the pens of notaries and scribes; they were transmitted to the magistrates of the European, the Asiatic, and afterward the African provinces; and the law of the empire was proclaimed on solemn festivals at the doors of churches. A more arduous operation was still behind—to extract the spirit of jurisprudence from the decisions and conjectures, the questions and disputes of the Roman civilians. Seventeen lawyers, with Tribonian at their head, were appointed by the Emperor to exercise an absolute jurisdiction over the works of their predecessors. If they had obeyed his commands in ten years, Justinian would have been satisfied with their diligence; and the rapid composition of the Digest or Pandects in three years will deserve praise or censure, according to the merit of the execution.

From the library of Tribonian they chose forty, the most eminent civilians of former times: two thousand treatises were comprised in an abridgment of fifty books; and it has been carefully re-reduced in this abstract to the moderate number of one hundred and fifty thousand. The edition of this great work was delayed a month after that of the Institutes, and it seemed reasonable that the elements should precede the digest of the Roman law. As soon as the Emperor had approved their labors, he ratified by his legislative power the speculations of these private citizens: their commentaries on the Twelve Tables, the perpetual edict, the laws of the people, and the decrees of the senate succeeded to the authority of the text; and the text was abandoned as a useless, though venerable, relic of antiquity. The Code, the Pandects, and the Institutes were declared to be the legitimate system of civil jurisprudence; they alone were admitted in the tribunals, and they alone were taught in the academies of Rome, Constantinople, and Berytus. Justinian addressed to the senate and provinces his eternal oracles; and his pride, under the mask of piety, ascribed the consummation of this great design to the support and inspiration of the Deity.

Since the Emperor declined the fame and envy of original composition, we can only require at his hands method, choice, and fidelity, the humble, though indispensable, virtues of a compiler. Among the various combinations of ideas it is difficult to assign any reasonable preference; but as the order of Justinian is different in his three works, it is possible that all may be wrong; and it is certain that two cannot be right. In the selection of ancient laws he seems to have viewed his predecessors without jealousy and with equal regard: the series could not ascend above the reign of Adrian; and the narrow distinction of paganism and Christianity, introduced by the superstition of Theodosius, had been abolished by the consent of mankind. But the jurisprudence of the Pandects is circumscribed within a period of a hundred years, from the perpetual edict to the death of Severus Alexander: the civilians who lived under the first Caesars are seldom permitted to speak, and only three names can be attributed to the age of the republic. The favorite of Justinian (it has been fiercely urged) was fearful of encountering the light of freedom and the gravity of Roman sages. Tribonian condemned to oblivion the genuine and native wisdom of Cato, the Scavolas, and Sulpicius; while he invoked spirits more congenial to his own, the Syrians, Greeks, and Africans, who flocked to the imperial court to study Latin as a foreign tongue and jurisprudence as a lucrative profession. But the ministers of Justinian were instructed to labor, not for the curiosity of antiquarians, but for the immediate benefit of his subjects. It was their duty to select the useful and practical parts of the Roman law; and the writings of the old republicans, however curious or excellent, were no longer suited to the new system of manners, religion, and government.

Perhaps, if the preceptors and friends of Cicero were still alive, our candor would acknowledge that, except in purity of language, their intrinsic merit was excelled by the school of Papinian and Ulpian. The science of the laws is the slow growth of time and experience, and the advantage both of method and materials is naturally assumed by the most recent authors. The civilians of the reign of the Antonines had studied the works of their predecessors: their philosophic spirit had mitigated the rigor of antiquity, simplified the forms of proceeding, and emerged from the jealousy and prejudice of the rival sects. The choice of the authorities that compose the Pandects depended on the judgment of Tribonian; but the power of his sovereign could not absolve him from the sacred obligations of truth and fidelity. As the legislator of the empire, Justinian might repeal the acts of the Antonines, or condemn as seditious the free principles which were maintained by the last of the Roman lawyers. But the existence of past facts is placed beyond the reach of despotism; and the Emperor was guilty of fraud and forgery when he corrupted the integrity of their text, inscribed with their venerable names the words and ideas of his servile reign, and suppressed by the hand of power the pure and authentic copies of their sentiments. The changes and interpolations of Tribonian and his colleagues are excused by the pretence of uniformity: but their cares have been insufficient, and the antinomies, or contradictions, of the Code and Pandects still exercise the patience and subtlety of modern civilians.

A rumor devoid of evidence has been propagated by the enemies of Justinian, that the jurisprudence of ancient Rome was reduced to ashes by the author of the Pandects, from the vain persuasion that it was now either false or superfluous. Without usurping an office so invidious, the Emperor might safely commit to ignorance and time the accomplishment of this destructive wish. Before the invention of printing and paper, the labor and the materials of writing could be purchased only by the rich; and it may reasonably be computed that the price of books was a hundredfold their present value. Copies were slowly multiplied and cautiously renewed: the hopes of profit tempted the sacrilegious scribes to erase the characters of antiquity,1

and Sophocles or Tacitus were obliged to resign the parchment to missals, homilies, and the Golden Legend. If such was the fate of the most beautiful compositions of genius, what stability could be expected for the dull and barren works of an obsolete science? The books of jurisprudence were interesting to few and entertaining to none: their value was connected with present Use, and they sunk forever as soon as that use was superseded by the innovations of fashion, superior merit, or public’ authority. In the age of peace and learning, between Cicero and the last of the Antonines, many losses had been already sustained, and some luminaries of the school or Forum were known only to the curious by tradition and report. Three hundred and sixty years of disorder and decay accelerated the progress of oblivion; and it may fairly be presumed that of the writings which Justinian is accused of neglecting many were no longer to be found in the libraries of the East. The copies of Papinian or Ulpian, which the reformer had proscribed, were deemed unworthy of future notice; the Twelve Tables and praetorian edicts insensibly vanished, and the monuments of ancient Rome were neglected or destroyed by the envy and ignorance of the Greeks.

Even the Pandects themselves have escaped with difficulty and danger from the common shipwreck, and criticism has pronounced that all the editions and manuscripts of the West are derived from one original. It was transcribed at Constantinople in the beginning of the seventh century, was successfully transported by the accidents of war and commerce to Amalphi, Pisa, and Florence,2

and is now deposited as a sacred relic in the ancient palace of the republic.3

It is the first care of a reformer to prevent any future reformation. To maintain the text of the Pandects, the Institutes, and the Code, the use of ciphers and abbreviations was rigorously proscribed; and as Justinian recollected, that the perpetual edict had been buried under the weight of commentators, he denounced the punishment of forgery against the rash civilians who should presume to interpret or pervert the will of their sovereign. The scholars of Accursius, of Bartolus, of Cujacius, should blush for their accumulated guilt, unless they dare to dispute his right of binding the authority of his successors and the native freedom of the mind. But the Emperor was unable to fix his own inconstancy; and while he boasted of renewing the exchange of Diomede, of transmuting brass into gold, discovered the necessity of purifying his gold from the mixture of baser alloy. Six years had not elapsed from the publication of the Code before he condemned the imperfect attempt by a new and more accurate edition of the same work, which he enriched with two hundred of his own laws and fifty decisions of the darkest and most intricate points of jurisprudence. Every year or, according to Procopius, each day of his long reign was marked by some legal innovation. Many of his acts were rescinded by himself; many were rejected by his successors; many have been obliterated by time; but the number of sixteen Edicts and one hundred and sixty-eight Novels has been admitted into the authentic body of the civil jurisprudence. In the opinion of a philosopher superior to the prejudices of his profession, these incessant and, for the most part, trifling alterations, can be only explained by the venal spirit of a prince who sold without shame his judgments and his laws.

Monarchs seldom condescend to become the preceptors of their subjects; and some praise is due to Justinian, by whose command an ample system was reduced to a short and elementary treatise. Among the various institutes of the Roman law those of Caius were the most popular in the East and West; and their use may be considered as an evidence of their merit. They were selected by the imperial delegates, Tribonian, Theophilus, and Dorotheus, and the freedom and purity of the Antonines were incrusted with the coarser materials of a degenerate age. The same volume which introduced the youth of Rome, Constantinople, and Berytus to the gradual study of the Code and Pandects is still precious to the historian, the philosopher, and the magistrate. The Institutes of Justinian are divided into four books: they proceed, with no contemptible method, from (1), Persons, to (2) Things, and from things to (3) Actions; and the Article IV of Private Wrongs is terminated by the principles of Criminal Law.4

I. The distinction of ranks and persons is the firmest basis of a mixed and limited government. The perfect equality of men is the point in which the extremes of democracy and despotism are confounded; since the majesty of the prince or people would be offended, if any heads were exalted above the level of their fellow-slaves or fellow-citizens. In the decline of the Roman Empire, the proud distinctions of the republic were gradually abolished, and the reason or instinct of Justinian completed the simple form of an absolute monarchy. The Emperor could not eradicate the popular reverence which always waits on the possession of hereditary wealth, or the memory of famous ancestors. He delighted to honor with titles and emoluments his generals, magistrates, and senators; and his precarious indulgence communicated some rays of their glory to the persons of their wives and children. But in the eye of the law all Roman citizens were equal, and all subjects of the empire were citizens of Rome. That inestimable character was degraded to an obsolete and empty name. The voice of a Roman could no longer enact his laws or create the annual ministers of his power: his constitutional rights might have checked the arbitrary will of a master, and the bold adventurer from Germany or Arabia was admitted, with equal favor, to the civil and military command which the citizen alone had been once entitled to assume over the conquests of his fathers. The first Caesars had scrupulously guarded the distinction of ingenuous and servile birth, which was decided by the condition of the mother; and the candor of the laws was satisfied if her freedom could be ascertained during a single moment between the conception and the delivery. The slaves who were liberated by a generous master immediately entered into the middle class of libertines or freedmen; but they could never be enfranchised from the duties of obedience and gratitude: whatever were the fruits of their industry, their patron and his family inherited the third part, or even the whole of their fortune if they died without children and without a testament.

Justinian respected the rights of patrons, but his indulgence removed the badge of disgrace from the two inferior orders of freedmen: whoever ceased to be a slave obtained without reserve or delay the station of a citizen; and at length the dignity of an ingenuous birth, which nature had refused, was created or supposed by the omnipotence of the Emperor. Whatever restraints of age, or forms, or numbers had been formerly introduced to check the abuse of manumissions and the too rapid increase of vile and indigent Romans, he finally abolished; and the spirit of his laws promoted the extinction of domestic servitude. Yet the eastern provinces were filled in the time of Justinian with multitudes of slaves, either born or purchased for the use of their masters; and the price, from ten to seventy pieces of gold, was determined by their age, their strength, and their education. But the hardships of this dependent state were continually diminished by the influence of government and religion, and the pride of a subject was no longer elated by his absolute dominion over the life and happiness of his bondsman.

The law of nature instructs most animals to cherish and educate their infant progeny. The law of reason inculcates to the human species the return of filial piety. But the exclusive, absolute, and perpetual dominion of the father over his children is peculiar to the Roman jurisprudence and seems to be coëval with the foundation of the city. The paternal power was instituted or confirmed by Romulus himself; and after the practice of three centuries it was inscribed on the fourth table of the decemvirs. In the Forum, the senate, or the camp the adult son of a Roman citizen enjoyed the public and private rights of a person: in his father’s house he was a mere thing;5

confounded by the laws with the movables, the cattle, and the slaves, whom the capricious master might alienate or destroy without being responsible to any earthly tribunal. The hand which bestowed the daily sustenance might resume the voluntary gift, and whatever was acquired by the labor or fortune of the son was immediately lost in the property of the father. His stolen goods (his oxen or his children) might be recovered by the same action of theft; and if either had been guilty of a trespass, it was in his own option to compensate the damage or resign to the injured party the obnoxious animal.

At the call of indigence or avarice the master of a family could dispose of his children or his slaves. But the condition of the slave was far more advantageous, since he regained by tee first manumission his alienated freedom: the son was again restored to his unnatural father; he might be condemned to servitude a second and a third time, and it was not till after the third sale and deliverance that he was enfranchised from the domestic power which had been so repeatedly abused. According to his discretion, a father might chastise the real or imaginary faults of his children by stripes, by imprisonment, by exile, by sending them to the country to work in chains among the meanest of his servants. The majesty of a parent was armed with the power of life and death; and the examples of such bloody executions, which were sometimes praised and never punished, may be traced in the annals of Rome beyond the times of Pompey and Augustus. Neither age nor rank, nor the consular office, nor the honors of a triumph could exempt the most illustrious citizen from the bonds of filial subjection: his own descendants were included in the family of their common ancestor; and the claims of adoption were not less sacred or less rigorous than those of nature. Without fear, though not without danger of abuse, the Roman legislators had reposed an unbounded confidence in the sentiments of paternal love, and the oppression was tempered by the assurance that each generation must succeed in its turn to the awful dignity of parent and master.

The first limitation of paternal power is ascribed to the justice and humanity of Numa, and the maid who, with his father’s consent, had espoused a freeman, was protected from the disgrace of becoming the wife of a slave. In the first ages, when the city was pressed and Often famished by her Latin and Tuscan neighbors, the sale of children might be a frequent practice; but as a Roman could not legally purchase the liberty of his fellow-citizen, the market must gradually fail, and the trade would be destroyed by the conquests of the republic. An imperfect right of property was at length communicated to sons; and the threefold distinction of profectitious, adventitious, and professional was ascertained by the jurisprudence of the Code and Pandects. Of all that proceeded from the father, he imparted only the use, and reserved the absolute dominion; yet if his goods were sold, the filial portion was excepted by a favorable interpretation from the demands of the creditors. In whatever accrued by marriage, gift, or collateral succession, the property was secured to the son; but the father, unless he had been specially excluded, enjoyed the usufruct during his life.

As a just and prudent reward of military virtue, the spoils of the enemy were acquired, possessed, and bequeathed by the soldier alone; and the fair analogy was extended to the emoluments of any liberal profession, the salary of public service, and the sacred liberality of the emperor or empress. The life of a citizen was less exposed than his fortune to the abuse of paternal power. Yet his life might be adverse to the interest or passions of an unworthy father: the same crimes that flowed from the corruption were more sensibly felt by the humanity of the Augustan age; and the cruel Erixo, who whipped his son till he expired, was saved by the Emperor from the just fury of the multitude. The Roman father, from the license of servile dominion, was reduced to the gravity and moderation of a judge. The presence and opinion of Augustus confirmed the sentence of exile pronounced against an intentional parricide by the domestic tribunal of Arius. Adrian transported to an island the jealous parent who, like a robber, had seized the opportunity of hunting to assassinate a youth, the incestuous lover of his stepmother. A private jurisdiction is repugnant to the spirit of monarchy; the parent was again reduced from a judge to an accuser, and the magistrates were enjoined by Severus Alexander to hear his complaints and execute his sentence. He could no longer take the life of a son without incurring the guilt and punishment of murder; and the pains of parricide, from which he had been excepted by the, Pompeian law, were finally inflicted by the justice of Constantine.

The same protection was due to every period of existence; and reason must applaud the humanity of Paulus for imputing the crime of murder to the father who strangles, or starves, or abandons his newborn infant; or exposes him in a public place to find the mercy which he himself had denied. But the exposition of children was the prevailing and stubborn vice of antiquity: it was sometimes prescribed, often permitted, almost always practised with impunity by the nations who never entertained the Roman ideas of paternal power; and the dramatic poets who appeal to the human heart represent with indifference a popular custom which was palliated by the motives of economy and compassion. If the father could subdue his own feelings, he might escape, though not the censure, at least the chastisement of the laws; and the Roman Empire was stained with the blood of infants, till such murders were included by Valentinian and his colleagues in the letter and spirit of the Cornelian law. The lessons of jurisprudence and Christianity had been insufficient to eradicate this inhuman practice, till their gentle influence was fortified by the terrors of capital punishment.

Experience has proved that savage are the tyrants of the female sex, and that the condition of women is usually softened by the refinements of social life. In the hope of a robust progeny, Lycurgus had delayed the season of marriage: it was fixed by Numa at the tender age of twelve years, that the Roman husband might educate to his will a pure and obedient virgin. According to the custom of antiquity, he bought his bride of her parents, and she fulfilled the coemption by purchasing, with three pieces of copper, a just introduction to his house and household deities. A sacrifice of fruits was offered by the pontiffs in the presence of ten witnesses; the contracting parties were seated on the same sheepskin; they tasted a salt-cake of far or rice; and this confarreation, which denoted the ancient food of Italy, served as an emblem of their mystic union of mind and body.

But this union on the side of the woman was rigorous and unequal; and she renounced the name and worship of her father’s house to embrace a new servitude, decorated only by the title of adoption: a fiction of the law, neither rational nor elegant, bestowed on the mother of a family (her proper appellation) the strange characters of sister to her own children, and of daughter to her husband or master, who was invested with the plenitude of paternal power. By his judgment or caprice her behavior was approved or censured or chastised; he exercised the jurisdiction of life and death, and it was allowed that in the cases of adultery or drunkenness the sentence might be properly inflicted. She acquired and inherited for the sole profit of her lord; and so clearly was woman defined, not as a person, but as a thing, that if the original title were deficient, she might be claimed, like other movables, by the use and possession of an entire year. The inclination of the Roman husband discharged or withheld the conjugal debt, so scrupulously exacted by the Athenian and Jewish laws; but as polygamy was unknown, he could never admit to his bed a fairer or more favored partner.

After the Punic triumphs the matrons of Rome aspired to the common benefits of a free and opulent republic; their wishes were gratified by the indulgence of fathers and lovers, and their ambition was unsuccessfully resisted by the gravity of Cato the Censor. They declined the solemnities of the old nuptials; defeated the annual prescription by an absence of three days; and, without losing their name or independence, subscribed the liberal and definite terms of a marriage contract. Of their private fortunes they communicated the use and secured the property; the estates of a wife could neither be alienated nor mortgaged by a prodigal husband; their mutual gifts were prohibited by the jealousy of the laws; and the misconduct of either party might afford under another name a future subject for an action of theft. To this loose and voluntary compact religious and civil rights were no longer essential; and between persons of similar rank, the apparent community of life was allowed as sufficient evidence of their nuptials.

The dignity of marriage was restored by the Christians, who derived all spiritual grace from the prayers of the faithful and the benediction of the priest or bishop. The origin, validity, and duties of the holy institution were regulated by the tradition of the synagogue, the precepts of the gospel, and the canons of general or provincial synods; and the conscience of the Christians was awed by the decrees and censures of their ecclesiastical rulers. Yet the magistrates of Justinian were not subject to the authority of the Church; the Emperor consulted the unbelieving civilians of antiquity, and the choice of matrimonial laws in the Code and Pandects is directed by the earthly motives of justice, policy, and the natural freedom of both sexes.

Besides the agreement of the parties, the essence of every rational contract, the Roman marriage required the previous approbation of the parents. A father might be forced by some recent laws to supply the wants of a mature daughter; but even his insanity was not generally allowed to supersede the necessity of his consent. The causes of the dissolution of matrimony have varied among the Romans; but the most solemn sacrament, the confarreation itself, might always be done away by rites of a contrary tendency. In the first ages the father of a family might sell his children, and his wife was reckoned in the number of his children; the domestic judge might pronounce the death of the offender, or his mercy might expel her from his bed and house; but the slavery of the wretched female was hopeless and perpetual, unless he asserted for his own convenience the manly prerogative of divorce. The warmest applause has been lavished on the virtue of the Romans, who abstained from the exercise of this tempting privilege above five hundred years; but the same fact evinces the unequal terms of a connection in which the slave was unable to renounce her tyrant, and the tyrant was unwilling to relinquish his slave.

When the Roman matrons became the equal and voluntary companions of their lords, a new jurisprudence was introduced, that marriage, like other partnerships, might be dissolved by the abdication of one of the associates. In three centuries of prosperity and corruption this principle was enlarged to frequent practice and pernicious abuse. Passion, interest, or caprice suggested daily motives for the dissolution of marriage; a word, a sign, a message, a letter, the mandate of a freedman declared the separation; the most tender of human connections was degraded to a transient society of profit or pleasure. According to the various conditions of life, both sexes alternately felt the disgrace and injury; an inconstant spouse transferred her wealth to a new family, abandoning a numerous, perhaps a spurious progeny to the paternal authority and care of her late husband; a beautiful virgin might be dismissed to the world, old, indigent, and friendless; but the reluctance of the Romans, when they were pressed to marriage by Augustus, sufficiently marks that the prevailing institutions were least favorable to the males. A specious theory is confuted by this free and perfect experiment, which demonstrates that the liberty of divorce does not contribute to happiness and virtue. The facility of separation would destroy all mutual confidence, and inflame every trifling dispute; the minute difference between a husband and a stranger, which might so easily be removed, might still more easily be forgotten; and the matron, who in five years can submit to the embraces of eight husbands, must cease to reverence the chastity of her own person.

Insufficient remedies followed with distant and tardy steps the rapid progress of the evil. The ancient worship of the Romans afforded a peculiar goddess to hear and reconcile the complaints of a married life; but her epithet of viriplaca, the appeaser of husbands, too clearly indicates on which side submission and repentance were always expected. Every act of a citizen was subject to the judgment of the censors; the first who used the privilege of divorce assigned at their command the motives of his conduct; and a senator was expelled for dismissing his virgin spouse without the knowledge or advice of his friends. Whenever an action was instituted for the recovery of a marriage portion, the praetor, as the guardian of equity, examined the cause and the characters, and gently inclined the scale in favor of the guiltless and injured party. Augustus, who united the powers of both magistrates, adopted their different modes of repressing or chastising the license of divorce.

The presence of seven Roman witnesses was required for the validity of this solemn and deliberate act: if any adequate provocation had been given by the husband, instead of the delay of two years, he was compelled to refund immediately, or in the space of six months; but if he could arraign the manners of his wife, her guilt or levity was expiated by the loss of the sixth or eighth part of her marriage portion. The Christian princes were the first who specified the just causes of a private divorce; their institutions, from Constantine to Justinian, appear to fluctuate between the custom of the empire and the wishes of the Church, and the author of the Novels too frequently reforms the jurisprudence of the Code and Pandects. In the most rigorous laws, a wife was condemned to support a gamester, a drunkard, or a libertine, unless he were guilty of homicide, poison, or sacrilege, in which cases the marriage, as it should seem, might have been dissolved by the hand of the executioner.

But the sacred right of the husband was invariably maintained, to deliver his name and family from the disgrace of adultery: the list of mortal sins, either male or female, was curtailed and enlarged by successive regulations, and the obstacles of incurable impotence, long absence, and monastic profession were allowed to rescind the matrimonial obligation. Whoever transgressed the permission of the law was subject to various and heavy penalties. The woman was stripped of her wealth and ornaments, without excepting the bodkin of her hair: if the man introduced a new bride into his bed, her fortune might be lawfully seized by the vengeance of his exiled wife. Forfeiture was sometimes commuted to a fine; the fine was sometimes aggravated by transportation to an island or imprisonment in a monastery; the injured party was released from the bonds of marriage; but the offender during life or a term of years was disabled from the repetition of nuptials. The successor of Justinian yielded to the prayers of his unhappy subjects, and restored the liberty of divorce by mutual consent: the civilians were unanimous, the theologians were divided, and the ambiguous word, which contains the precept of Christ, is flexible to any interpretation that the wisdom of a legislator can demand.

The freedom of love and marriage was restrained among the Romans by natural and civil impediments. An instinct, almost innate and universal, appears to prohibit the incestuous commerce of parents and children in the infinite series of ascending and descending generations. Concerning the oblique and collateral branches nature is indifferent, reason mute, and custom various and arbitrary. In Egypt the marriage of brothers and sisters was admitted without scruple or exception: a Spartan might espouse the daughter of his father, an Athenian that of his mother; and the nuptials of an uncle with his niece were applauded at Athens as a happy union of the dearest relations.

The profane law-givers of Rome were never tempted by interest or superstition to multiply the forbidden degrees: but they inflexibly condemned the marriage of sisters and brothers, hesitated whether first cousins should be touched by the same interdict; revered the parental character of aunts and uncles, and treated affinity and adoption as a just imitation of the ties of blood. According to the proud maxims of the republic, a legal marriage could only be contracted by free citizens; an honorable, at least an ingenuous birth, was required for the spouse of a senator: but the blood of kings could never mingle in legitimate nuptials with the blood of a Roman; and the name of stranger degraded Cleopatra and Berenice to live the concubines of Mark Antony and Titus. This appellation, indeed, so injurious to the majesty, cannot without indulgence be applied to the manners of these oriental queens. A concubine, in the strict sense of the civilian, was a woman of servile or plebeian extraction, the sole and faithful companion of a Roman citizen, who continued in a state of celibacy. Her modest station, below the honors of a wife, above the infamy of a prostitute, was acknowledged and approved by the laws: from the age of Augustus to the tenth century, the use of this secondary marriage prevailed both in the West and East; and the humble virtues of a concubine were often preferred to the pomp and insolence of a noble matron. In this connection the two Antonines, the best of princes and of men, enjoyed the comforts of domestic love; the example was imitated by many citizens impatient of celibacy, but regardful of their families. If at any time they desired to legitimate their natural children, the conversion was instantly performed by the celebration of their nuptials with a partner whose fruitfulness and fidelity they had already tried.6

By this epithet of natural, the offspring of the concubine were distinguished from the spurious brood of adultery, prostitution, and incest, to whom Justinian reluctantly grants the necessary aliments of life; and these natural children alone were capable of succeeding to a sixth part of the inheritance of their reputed father. , According to the rigor of law, bastards were entitled to the name and condition of their mother, from whom they might derive the character of a slave, a stranger, or a citizen. The outcasts of every family were adopted without reproach as the children of the State.

The relation of guardian and ward, or in Roman words of tutor and pupil, which covers so many titles of the Institutes and Pandects, is of a very simple and uniform nature. The person and property of an orphan must always be trusted to the custody of some discreet friend. If the deceased father had not signified his choice, the agnats, or paternal kindred of the nearest degree, were compelled to act as the natural guardians: the Athenians were apprehensive of exposing the infant to the power of those most interested in his death; but an axiom of Roman jurisprudence has pronounced that the charge of tutelage should constantly attend the emolument of succession. If the choice of the father and the line of consanguinity afforded no efficient guardian, the failure was supplied by the nomination of the praetor of the city or the president of the province. But the person whom they named to this public office might be legally excused by insanity or blindness, by ignorance or inability, by previous enmity or adverse interest, by the number of children or guardianships with which he was already burdened and by the immunities which were granted to the useful labors of magistrates, lawyers, physicians, and professors.

Till the infant could speak and think he was represented by the tutor, whose authority was finally determined by the age of puberty. Without his consent no act of the pupil could bind himself to his own prejudice, though it might oblige others for his personal benefit. It is needless to observe that the tutor often gave security, and always rendered an account, and that the want of diligence or integrity exposed him to a civil and almost criminal action for the violation of his sacred trust. The age of puberty had been rashly fixed by the civilians at fourteen; but as the faculties of the mind ripen more slowly than those of the body, a curator was interposed to guard the fortunes of a Roman youth from his own inexperience and headstrong passions. Such a trustee had been first instituted by the praetor, to save a family from the blind havoc of a prodigal or madman; and the minor was compelled by the laws to solicit the same protection, to give validity to his acts till he accomplished the full period of twenty-five years. Women were condemned to the perpetual tutelage of parents, husbands, or guardians; a sex created to please and obey was never supposed to have attained the age of reason and experience. Such, at least, was the stern and haughty spirit of the law, which had been insensibly mollified before the time of Justinian.

II. The original right of property can only be justified by the accident or merit of prior occupancy; and on this foundation it is wisely established by the philosophy of the civilians. The savage who hollows a tree, inserts a sharp stone into a wooden handle, or applies a string to an elastic branch becomes in a state of nature the just proprietor of the canoe, the bow, or the hatchet. The materials were common to all, the new form, the produce of his time and simple industry, belong solely to himself. His hungry brethren cannot, without a sense of their own injustice, extort from the hunter the game of the forest overtaken or slain by his personal strength and dexterity. If his provident care preserves and multiplies the tame animals, whose nature is tractable to the arts of education, he acquires a perpetual title to the use and service of their numerous progeny, which derives its existence from him alone. If he encloses and cultivates a field for their sustenance and his own, a barren waste is converted into a fertile soil; the seed, the manure, the labor, create a new value, and the rewards of harvest are painfully earned by the fatigues of the revolving year.

In the successive states of society the hunter, the shepherd, the husbandman, may defend their possessions by two reasons which forcibly appeal to the feelings of the human mind: that whatever they enjoy is the fruit of their own industry; and that every man who envies their felicity may purchase similar acquisitions by the exercise of similar diligence. Such, in truth, may be the freedom and plenty of a small colony cast on a fruitful island. But the colony multiplies, while the space still continues the same; the common rights, the equal inheritance of mankind, are engrossed by the bold and crafty; each field and forest is circumscribed by the landmarks of a jealous master; and it is the peculiar praise of the Roman jurisprudence that it asserts the claim of the first occupant to the wild animals of the earth, the air, and the waters. In the progress from primitive equity to final injustice, the steps are silent, the shades are almost imperceptible, and the absolute monopoly is guarded by positive laws and artificial reason. The active, insatiable principle of self-love can alone supply the arts of life and the wages of industry; and as soon as civil government and exclusive property have been introduced, they become necessary to the existence of the human race.

Except in the singular institutions of Sparta, the wisest legislators have disapproved an agrarian law as a false and dangerous innovation. Among the Romans the enormous disproportion of wealth surmounted the ideal restraints of a doubtful tradition and an obsolete statute; a tradition that the poorest follower of Romulus had been endowed with the perpetual inheritance of two jugera; a statute which confined the richest citizen to the measure of five hundred jugera, or three hundred and twelve acres of land. The original territory of Rome consisted only of some miles of wood and meadow along the banks of the Tiber, and domestic exchange could add nothing to the national stock. But the goods of an alien or enemy were lawfully exposed to the first hostile occupier; the city was enriched by the profitable trade of war, and the blood of her sons was the only price that was paid for the Volscian sheep, the slaves of Britain, to the gems and gold of Asiatic kingdoms. In the language of ancient jurisprudence, which was corrupted and forgotten before the age of Justinian, these spoils were distinguished by the name of manceps or mancipium, taken with the hand; and whenever they were sold or emancipated, the purchaser required some assurance that they had been the property of an enemy and not of a fellow-citizen.

A citizen could only forfeit his rights by apparent dereliction, and such dereliction of a valuable interest could not easily be presumed. Yet, according to the Twelve Tables, a prescription of one year for movables, and of two years for immovables, abolished the claim of the ancient master, if the actual possessor had acquired them by a fair transaction from the person whom he believed to be the lawful proprietor.7

Such conscientious injustice, without any mixture of fraud or force could seldom injure the members of a small republic; but the various periods of three, of ten, or of twenty years, determined by Justinian, are more suitable to the latitude of a great empire It is only in the term of prescription that the distinction of real and personal fortune has been remarked by the civilians; and their general idea of property is that of simple, uniform, and absolute dominion. The subordinate exceptions of use, of usufruct, of servitudes, imposed for the benefit of a neighbor on lands and houses, are abundantly explained by the professors of jurisprudence. The claims of property, as far as they are altered by the mixture, the division, or the transformation of substances, are investigated with metaphysical subtlety by the same civilians.

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 appears to have deviated from the equality of nature much less than the Jewish, the Athenian, or the English institutions. 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 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 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 a gnats, 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 a gens 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 Vocenian law, 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. While the maxims of Cato were revered, they tended to perpetuate in each family a just and virtuous mediocrity: till female blandishments insensibly triumphed, and every salutary restraint was lost in the dissolute greatness of the republic. The rigor of the decemvirs was tempered by the equity of the praetors. Their edicts restored and emancipated posthumous children to the rights of nature; and upon the failure of the agnats they preferred the blood of the cognats to the name of the gentiles, whose title and character were insensibly covered with oblivion The reciprocal inheritance of mothers and sons was established in the Tertullian and Orphitian decrees by the humanity of the senate. A new and more impartial order was introduced by the Novels of Justinian, who affected to revive the jurisprudence of the Twelve Tables. The lines of masculine and female kindred were confounded: the descending, ascending, and collateral series was accurately defined; and each degree, according to the proximity of blood and affection, succeeded the vacant possessions of a Roman citizen.

The order of succession is regulated by nature, or at least by the general and permanent reason of the law-giver: but this order is frequently violated by the arbitrary and partial wills, which prolong the dominion of the testator beyond the grave. In the simple state of society this last use or abuse of the right of property is seldom indulged; it was introduced at Athens by the laws of Solon; and the private testaments of a father of a family are authorized by the Twelve Tables. Before the time of the decemvirs a Roman citizen exposed his wishes and motives to the assembly of the thirty curia or parishes, and the general law of inheritance was suspended by an occasional act of the legislature. After the permission of the decemvirs, each private law-giver promulgated his verbal or written testament in the presence of five citizens, who represented the five classes of the Roman people; a sixth witness attested their concurrence; a seventh weighed the copper money, which was paid by an imaginary purchaser, and the estate was emancipated by a fictitious sale and immediate release.

This singular ceremony, which excited the wonder of the Greeks, was still practised in the age of Severus, but the praetor had already approved a more simple testament, for which they required the seals and signatures of seven witnesses, free from all legal exception and purposely summoned for the execution of that important act. A domestic monarch, who reigned over the lives and fortunes of his children, might distribute their respective shares according to the degrees of their merit or his affection; his arbitrary displeasure chastised an unworthy son by the loss of his inheritance, and the mortifying preference of a stranger. But the experience of unnatural parents recommended some limitations of their testamentary powers. A son or, by the laws of Justinian, even a daughter, could no longer be disinherited by their silence; they were compelled to name the criminal and to specify the offence; and the justice of the Emperor enumerated the sole causes that could justify such a violation of the first principles of nature and society. Unless a legitimate portion, a fourth part, had been reserved for the children, they were entitled to institute an action or complaint of inofficious testament; to suppose that their father’s understanding was impaired by sickness or age, and respectfully to appeal from his rigorous sentence to the deliberate wisdom of the magistrate.

In the Roman jurisprudence an essential distinction was admitted between the inheritance and the legacies. The heirs who succeeded to the entire unity, or to any of the twelve fractions of the substance of the testator, represented his civil and religious character, asserted his rights, fulfilled his obligations, and discharged the gifts of friendship or liberality, which his last will had bequeathed under the name of legacies. But as the imprudence or prodigality of a dying man might exhaust the inheritance and leave only risk and labor to his successor, he was empowered to retain the Falcidian portion; to deduct, before the payment of the legacies, a clear fourth for his own emolument. A reasonable time was allowed to examine the proportion between the debts and the estate, to decide whether he should accept or refuse the testament; and if he used the benefit of an inventory, the demands of the creditors could not exceed the valuation of the effects. The last will of a citizen might be altered during his life or rescinded after his death; the persons whom he named might die before him, or reject the inheritance, or be exposed to some legal disqualification. In the contemplation of these events he was permitted to substitute second and third heirs, to replace each other according to the order of the testament; and the incapacity of a madman or an infant to bequeath his property might be supplied by a similar substitution. But the power of the testator expired with the acceptance of the testament; each Roman of mature age and discretion acquired the absolute dominion of his inheritance, and the simplicity of the civil law was never clouded by the long and intricate entails which confine the happiness and freedom of unborn generations.

Conquest and the formalities of law established the use of codicils. If a Roman was surprised by death in a remote province of the empire he addressed a short epistle to his legitimate or testamentary heir, who fulfilled with honor, or neglected with impunity, this last request, which the judges before the age of Augustus were not authorized to enforce. A codicil might be expressed in any mode, or in any language; but the subscription of five witnesses must declare that it was the genuine composition of the author. His intention, however laudable, was sometimes illegal; and the invention of fidei-commissa, or trusts, arose from the struggle between natural justice and positive jurisprudence. A stranger of Greece or Africa might be the friend or benefactor of a childless Roman, but none, except a fellow-citizen, could act as his heir.

The Voconian law, which abolished female succession, restrained the legacy or inheritance of a woman to the sum of one hundred thousand sesterces, and an only daughter was condemned almost as an alien in her father’s house. The zeal of friendship and parental affection suggested a liberal artifice: a qualified citizen was named in the testament, with a prayer or injunction that he would restore the inheritance to the person for whom it was truly intended. Various was the conduct of the trustees in this painful situation; they had sworn to observe the laws of their country, but honor prompted them to violate their oath; and if they preferred their interest under the mask of patriotism, they forfeited the esteem of every virtuous mind. The declaration of Augustus relieved their doubts, gave a legal sanction to confidential testaments and codicils, and gently unravelled the forms and restraints of the republican Jurisprudence. But as the new practice of trusts degenerated into some abuse, the trustee was enabled, by the Trebellian and Pegasian decrees, to reserve one-fourth of the estate, or to transfer on the head of the real heir all she debts and actions of the succession. The interpretion of testaments was strict and literal; but the language of trusts and codicil’s was delivered from the minute and technical accuracy of the civilians.

III. The general duties of mankind are imposed by their public and private relations: but their specific obligations to each other can only be the effect of (1) a promise, (2) a benefit, or (3) an injury; and when these obligations are ratified by law, the interested party may compel the performance by a judicial action. On this principle the civilians of every country have erected a similar jurisprudence, the fair conclusion of universal reason and justice.

1. The goddess of faith (of human and social faith) was worshipped, not only in her temples, but in the lives of the Romans; and if that nation was deficient in the more amiable qualities of benevolence and generosity, they astonished the Greeks by their sincere and simple performance of the most burdensome engagements. Yet among the same people, according to the rigid maxims of the patricians and decemvirs, a naked pact, a promise, or even an oath, did not create any civil obligation, unless it was confirmed by the legal form of a stipulation. Whatever might be the etymology of the Latin word, it conveyed the idea of a firm and irrevocable contract, which was always expressed in the mode of a question and answer. Do you promise to pay me one hundred pieces of gold? was the solemn interrogation of Seius. 1 do promise, was the reply of Sempronius. The friends of Sempronius, who answered for his ability and inclination, might be separately sued at the option of Seius; and the benefit of partition, or order of reciprocal actions, insensibly deviated from the strict theory of stipulation. The most cautious and deliberate consent was justly required to sustain the validity of a gratuitous promise; and the citizen who might have obtained a legal security, incurred the suspicion of fraud and paid the forfeit of his neglect. But the ingenuity of the civilians successfully labored to convert simple engagements into the form of solemn stipulations. The praetors, as the guardians of social faith, admitted every rational evidence of a voluntary and deliberate act, which in their tribunal produced an equitable obligation, and for which they gave an action and a remedy.

2. The obligations of the second class, as they were contracted by the delivery of a thing, are marked by the civilians with the epithet of real. A grateful return is due to the author of a benefit; and whoever is intrusted with the property of another has bound himself to the sacred duty of restitution. In the case of a friendly loan, the merit of generosity is on the side of the lender only; in a deposit, on the side of the receiver; but in a pledge, and the rest of the selfish commerce of ordinary life, the benefit is compensated by an equivalent, and the obligation to restore is variously modified by the nature of the transaction. The Latin language very happily expresses the fundamental difference between the commodatum and the mutuum, which our poverty is reduced to confound under the vague and common appellation of a loan. In the former, the borrower was obliged to restore the same individual thing with which he had been accommodated for the temporary supply of his wants; in the latter it was destined for his use and consumption, and he discharged this mutual engagement by substituting the same specific value according to a just estimation of number, of weight, and of measure. In the contract of sale, the absolute dominion is transferred to the purchaser, and he repays the benefit with an adequate sum of gold or silver, the price and universal standard of all earthly possessions.

The obligation of another contract, that of location, is of a more complicated kind. Lands or houses, labor or talents, may be hired for a definite term; at the expiration of the time the thing itself must be restored to the owner, with the additional reward for the beneficial occupation and employment. In these lucrative contracts, to which may be added those of partnership and commissions, the civilians sometimes imagine the delivery of the object, and sometimes presume the consent of the parties. The substantial pledge has been refined into the invisible rights of a mortgage or hypotheca; and the agreement of sale, for a certain price, imputes from that moment the chances of gain or loss to the account of the purchaser. It may be fairly supposed that every man will obey the dictates of his interest; and if he accepts the benefit, he is obliged to sustain the expense of the transaction. In this boundless subject, the historian will observe the location of land and money, the rent of the one and the interest of the other, as they materially affect the prosperity of agriculture and commerce.

The landlord was often obliged to advance the stock and instruments of husbandry, and to content himself with a partition of the fruits. If the feeble tenant was oppressed by accident, contagion, or hostile violence, he claimed a proportionable relief from the equity of the laws; five years were the customary term, and no solid or costly improvements could be expected from a farmer who at each moment might be ejected by the sale of the estate. Usury, the inveterate grievance of the city, had been discouraged by the Twelve Tables, and abolished by the clamors of the people. It was revived by their wants and idleness, tolerated by the discretion of the praetors, and finally determined by the Code of Justinian. Persons of illustrious rank were confined to the moderate profit of 4 per cent. 6 was pronounced to be the ordinary and legal standard of interest; 8 was allowed for the convenience of manufacturers and merchants; 12 was granted to nautical insurance, which the wiser ancients had not attempted to define; but, except in this perilous adventure, the practice of exorbitant usury was severely restrained.8

The most simple interest was condemned by the clergy of the East and West; but the sense of mutual benefit, which had triumphed over the laws of the republic, had resisted with equal firmness the decrees of the Church, and even the prejudices of mankind.9

3. Nature and society impose the strict obligation of repairing an injury; and the sufferer by private injustice acquires a personal right and a legitimate action. If the property of another be intrusted to our care, the requisite degree of care may rise and fall according to the benefit which we derive from such temporary possession; we are seldom made responsible for inevitable accident, but the consequences of a voluntary fault must always be imputed to the author. A Roman pursued and recovered his stolen goods by a civil action of theft; they might pass through a succession of pure and innocent hands, but nothing less than a prescription of thirty years could extinguish his original claim. They were restored by the sentence of the praetor, and the injury was compensated by double, or threefold, or even quadruple damages, as the deed had been perpetrated by secret fraud or open rapine, as the robber had been surprised in the fact or detected by a subsequent research. The Aquilian law defended the living property of a citizen, his slaves and cattle, from the stroke of malice or negligence: the highest price was allowed that could be ascribed to the domestic animal at any moment of the year preceding his death; a similar latitude of thirty days was granted on the destruction of any other valuable effects. A personal injury is blunted or sharpened by the manners of the times and the sensibility of the individual: the pain or the disgrace of a word or blow cannot easily be appreciated by a pecuniary equivalent.

The rude jurisprudence of the decemvirs had confounded all hasty insults, which did not amount to the fracture of a limb by condemning the aggressor to the common penalty of twenty-five asses. But the same denomination of money was reduced in three centuries from a pound to the weight of half an ounce: and the insolence of a wealthy Roman indulged himself in the cheap amusement of breaking and satisfying the law of the Twelve Tables. Veratius ran through the streets striking on the face the inoffensive passengers, and his attendant purse-bearer immediately silenced their clamors by the legal tender of twenty-five pieces of copper, about the value of one shilling. The equity of the praetors examined and estimated the district merits of each particular complaint. In the adjudication of civil damages the magistrate assumed the right to consider the various circumstances of time and place, of age and dignity, which may aggravate the shame and sufferings of the injured person: but if he admitted the idea of a fine, a punishment, an example, he invaded the province, though, perhaps, he supplied the defects of the criminal law.

IV. The execution of the Alban dictator, who was dismembered by eight horses, is represented by Livy as the first and the last instance of Roman cruelty in the punishment of the most atrocious crimes. But this act of justice, or revenge, was inflicted on a foreign enemy in the heat of victory and at the command of a single man. The Twelve Tables afford a more decisive proof of the national spirit, since they were framed by the wisest of the senate, and accepted by the free voices of the people; yet these laws, like the statutes of Draco, are written in characters of blood. They approve the inhuman and unequal principle of retaliation; and the forfeit of an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a limb for a limb, is rigorously exacted, unless the offender can redeem his pardon by a fine of three hundred pounds of copper. The decemvirs distributed with much liberality the slighter chastisements of flagellation and servitude; and nine crimes of a very different complexion are adjudged worthy of death.

1. Any act of treason against the state, or of correspondence with the public enemy. The mode of execution was painful and ignominious: the head of the degenerate Roman was shrouded in a veil, his hands were tied behind his back, and after he had been scourged by the lictor, he was suspended in the midst of the Forum on a cross or inauspicious tree.

2. Nocturnal meetings in the city; whatever might be the pretence, of pleasure, or religion, or the public good.

3. The murder of a citizen; for which the common feelings of mankind demand the blood of the murderer. Poison is still more odious than the sword or dagger; and we are surprised to discover in two flagitious events how early such subtle wickedness has infected the simplicity of the republic, and the chaste virtues of the Roman matrons.10

The parricide, who violated the duties of nature and gratitude, was cast into the river or the sea, enclosed in a sack; and a cock, a viper, a dog, and a monkey were successively added as the most suitable companions. Italy produces no monkeys; but the want could never be felt till the middle of the sixth century first revealed the guilt of a parricide.11

4. The malice of an incendiary. After the previous ceremony of whipping, he himself was delivered to the flames; and in this example alone our reason is tempted to applaud the justice of retaliation.

5. Judicial perjury. The corrupt or malicious witness was thrown headlong from the Tarpeian Rock to expiate his falsehood, which was rendered still more fatal by the severity of the penal laws and the deficiency of written evidence.

6. The corruption of a judge who accepted bribes to pronounce an iniquitous sentence.

7. Libels and satires, whose rude strains sometimes disturbed the peace of an illiterate city. The author was beaten with clubs, a worthy chastisement, but it is not certain that he was left to expire under the blows of the executioner.

8. The nocturnal mischief of damaging or destroying a neighbor’s corn. The criminal was suspended as a grateful victim to Ceres. But the sylvan deities were less implacable, and the extirpation of a more valuable tree was compensated by the moderate fine of twenty-five pounds of copper.

9. Magical incantations; which had power, in the opinion of the Latian shepherds, to exhaust the strength of an enemy, to extinguish his life, and to remove from their seats his deep-rooted plantations. The cruelty of the Twelve Tables against insolvent debtors still remains to be told; and I shall dare to prefer the literal sense of antiquity to the specious refinements of modern criticism. After the judicial proof or confession of the debt, thirty days of grace were allowed before a Roman was delivered into the power of his fellow-citizen. In this private prison twelve ounces of rice were his daily food; he might be bound with a chain of fifteen pounds weight, and his misery was thrice exposed in the market-place, to solicit the compassion of his friends and countrymen. At the expiration of sixty days the debt was discharged by the loss of liberty or life; the insolvent debtor was either put to death or sold in foreign slavery beyond the Tiber; but, if several creditors were alike obstinate and unrelenting, they might legally dismember his body and satiate their revenge by this horrid partition.

The advocates for this savage law have insisted that it must strongly operate in deterring idleness and fraud from contracting debts which they were unable to discharge; but experience would dissipate this salutary terror by proving that no creditor could be found to exact this unprofitable penalty of life or limb. As the manners of Rome were insensibly polished, the criminal code of the decemvirs was abolished by the humanity of accusers, witnesses, and judges; and impunity became the consequence of immoderate rigor. The Porcian and Valerian laws prohibited the magistrates from inflicting on a free citizen any capital, or even corporal, punishment, and the obsolete statutes of blood were artfully, and perhaps truly, ascribed to the spirit, not of patrician but of regal tyranny.

In the absence of penal laws and the insufficiency of civil actions, the peace and justice of the city were imperfectly maintained by the private jurisdiction of the citizens. The male-factors who replenish our jails are the outcasts of society, and the crimes for which they suffer may be commonly ascribed to ignorance, poverty, and brutal appetite. For the perpetration of similar enormities, a vile plebeian might claim and abuse the sacred character of a member of the republic; but on the proof or suspicion of guilt, the slave or the stranger was nailed to a cross: and this strict and summary justice might be exercised without restraint over the greatest part of the populace of Rome. Each family contained a domestic tribunal, which was not confined, like that of the praetor, to the cognizance of external actions; virtuous principles and habits were inculcated by the discipline of education, and the Roman father was accountable to the State for the manners of his children, since he disposed, without appeal, of their life, their liberty, and their inheritance. In some pressing emergencies the citizen was authorized to avenge his private or public wrongs. The consent of the Jewish, the Athenian, and the Roman laws approved the slaughter of the nocturnal thief; though in open daylight a robber could not be slain without some previous evidence of danger and complaint. Whoever surprised an adulterer in his nuptial bed might freely exercise his revenge; the most bloody and wanton outrage was excused by the provocation; nor was it before the reign of Augustus that the husband was reduced to weigh the rank of the offender, or that the parent was condemned to sacrifice his daughter with her guilty seducer.

After the expulsion of the kings the ambitious Roman who should dare to assume their title or imitate their tyranny, was devoted to the infernal gods; each of his fellow-citizens was armed with the sword of justice; and the act of Brutus, however repugnant to gratitude or prudence, had been already sanctified by the judgment of his country. The barbarous practice of wearing arms in the midst of peace, and the bloody maxims of honor were unknown to the Romans; and during the two purest ages, from the establishment of equal freedom to the end of the Punic wars, the city was never disturbed by sedition, and rarely polluted with atrocious crimes. The failure of penal laws was more sensibly felt, when every vice was inflamed by faction at home and dominion abroad. In the time of Cicero each private citizen enjoyed the privilege of anarchy; each minister of the republic was exalted to the temptations of regal power, and their virtues are entitled t(; the warmest praise, as the spontaneous fruits of nature or philosophy. After a triennial indulgence of lust, rapine, and cruelty, Verres, the tyrant of Sicily, could only be sued for the pecuniary restitution of three hundred thousand pounds sterling; and such was the temper of the laws, the judges, and perhaps the accuser himself, that on refunding a thirteenth part of his plunder Verres could retire to an easy and luxurious exile.12

The first imperfect attempt to restore the proportion of crimes and punishments was made by the dictator Sylla, who, in the midst of his sanguinary triumph, aspired to restrain the license rather than to oppress the liberty of the Romans. He gloried in the arbitrary proscription of four thousand seven hundred citizens. But in the character of a legislator he respected the prejudices of the times; and instead of pronouncing a sentence of death against the robber or assassin, the general who betrayed an army, or the magistrate who ruined a province, Sylla was content to aggravate the pecuniary damages by the penalty of exile, or, in more constitutional language, by the interdiction of fire and water. The Cornelian and afterward the Pompeian and Julian laws introduced a new system of criminal jurisprudence; and the emperors, from Augustus to Justinian, disguised their increasing rigor under the names of the original authors.

But the invention and frequent use of extraordinary pains proceeded from the desire to extend and conceal the progress of despotism. In the condemnation of illustrious Romans the senate was always prepared to confound, at the will of their masters, the judicial and legislative powers. It was the duty of the governors to maintain the peace of their province by the arbitrary and rigid administration of justice; the freedom of the city evaporated in the extent of empire, and the Spanish malefactor, who claimed the privilege of a Roman, was elevated by the command of Galba on a fairer and more lofty cross. Occasional rescripts issued from the throne to decide the questions which, by their novelty or importance, appeared to surpass the authority and discernment of a proconsul. Transportation and beheading were reserved for honorable persons; meaner criminals were either hanged, or burned, or buried in the mines, or exposed to the wild beasts of the amphitheatre. Armed robbers were pursued and extirpated as the enemies of society; the driving away of horses or cattle was made a capital offence, but simple theft was uniformly considered as a mere civil and private injury. The degrees of guilt and the modes of punishment were too often determined by the discretion of the rulers, and the subject was left in ignorance of the legal danger which he might incur by every action of his life.

A sin, a vice, a crime, are the objects of theology, ethics, and jurisprudence. Whenever their judgments agree, they corroborate each other; but as often as they differ a prudent legislator appreciates the guilt and punishment according to the measure of social injury. On this principle the most daring attack on the life and property of a private citizen is judged less atrocious than the crime of treason or rebellion, which invades the majesty of the republic; the obsequious civilians unanimously pronounced that the republic is contained in the person of its chief; and the edge of the Julian law was sharpened by the incessant diligence of the emperors. The licentious commerce of the sexes may be tolerated as an impulse of nature, or forbidden as a source of disorder and corruption; but the fame, the fortunes, the family of the husband, are seriously injured by the adultery of the wife. The wisdom of Augustus, after curbing the freedom of revenge, applied to this domestic offence the animadversion of the laws; and the guilty parties, after the payment of heavy forfeitures and fines, were condemned to long or perpetual exile in two separate islands.

Religion pronounces an equal censure against the infidelity of the husband; but, as it is not accompanied by the same civil effects, the wife was never permitted to vindicate her wrong; and the distinction of simple or double adultery, so familiar and so important in the canon law, is unknown to the jurisprudence of the Code and the Pandects. I touch with reluctance and despatch with impatience a more odious vice, of which modesty rejects the name, and nature abominates the idea. The primitive Romans were infected by the example of the Etruscans and Greeks; in the mad abuse of prosperity and power, every pleasure that is innocent was deemed insipid; and the Scatinian law, which had been extorted by an act of violence, was insensibly abolished by the lapse of time and the multitude of criminals.

By this law the rape, perhaps the seduction, of an ingenuous youth was compensated as a personal injury by the poor damages of ten thousand sesterces, or fourscore pounds; the ravisher might be slain by the resistance or revenge of chastity; and I wish to believe that at Rome, as in Athens, the voluntary and effeminate deserter of his sex was degraded from the honors and the rights of a citizen. But the practice of vice was not discouraged by the severity of opinion; the indelible stain of manhood was confounded with the more venial transgressions of fornication and adultery, nor was the licentious lover exposed to the same dishonor which he impressed on the male or female partner of his guilt. From Catullus to Iuvenal the poets accuse and celebrate the degeneracy of the times; and the reformation of manners was feebly attempted by the reason and authority of the civilians till the most virtuous of the Caesars proscribed the sin against nature as a crime against society.

A new spirit of legislation, respectable even in its error, arose in the empire with the religion of Constantine. The laws of Moses were received as the divine original of justice, and the Christian princes adapted their penal statutes to the degrees of moral and religious turpitude. Adultery was first declared to be a capital offence: the frailty of the sexes was assimilated to poison or assassination, to sorcery or parricide; the same penalties were inflicted on the passive and active guilt of pederasty, and all criminals of free or servile condition were either drowned or beheaded, or cast alive into the avenging flames. The adulterers were spared by the common sympathy of mankind; but the lovers of their own sex were pursued by general and pious indignation: the impure manners of Greece still prevailed in the cities of Asia, and every vice was fomented by the celibacy of the monks and clergy.

Justinian relaxed the punishment at least of female infidelity: the guilty spouse was only condemned to solitude and penance, and at the end of two years she might be recalled to the arms of a forgiving husband. But the same Emperor declared himself the implacable enemy of unmanly lust, and the cruelty of his persecution can scarcely be excused by the purity of his motives. In defiance of every principle of justice he stretched to past as well as future offences the operations of his edicts, with the previous allowance of a short respite for confession and pardon. A painful death was inflicted by the amputation of the sinful instrument, or the insertion of sharp reeds into the pores and tubes of most exquisite sensibility; and Justinian defended the propriety of the execution, since the criminals would have lost their hands had they been convicted of sacrilege. In this state of disgrace and agony two bishops, Isaiah of Rhodes and Alexander of Diospolis, were dragged through the streets of Constantinople, while their brethren were admonished by the voice of a crier to observe this awful lesson, and not to pollute the sanctity of their character. Perhaps these prelates were innocent. A sentence of death and infamy was often founded on the slight and suspicious evidence of a child or a servant; the guilt of the green faction, of the rich, and of the enemies of Theodora was presumed by the judges, and pederasty became the crime of those to whom no crime could be imputed. A French philosopher13

has dared to remark that whatever is secret must be doubtful, and that our natural horror of vice may be abused as an engine of tyranny. But the favorable persuasion of the same writer, that a legislator may confide in the taste and reason of mankind, is impeached by the unwelcome discovery of the antiquity and extent of the disease.

V. The free citizens of Athens and Rome enjoyed in all criminal cases the invaluable privilege of being tried by their country.

1. The administration of justice is the most ancient office of a prince: it was exercised by the Roman kings and abused by Tarquin, who alone, without law or council, pronounced his arbitrary judgments. The first consuls succeeded to this regal prerogative; but the sacred right of appeal soon abolished the jurisdiction of the magistrates, and all public causes were decided by the supreme tribunal of the people. But a wild democracy, superior to the forms, too often disdains the essential principles of justice: the pride of despotism was envenomed by plebeian envy, and the heroes of Athens might sometimes applaud the happiness of the Persian, whose fate depended on the caprice of a single tyrant. Some salutary restraints, imposed by the people on their own passions, were at once the cause and effect of the gravity and temperance of the Romans. The right of accusation was confined to the magistrates. A vote of the thirty-five tribes could inflict a fine; but the cognizance of all capital crimes was reserved by a fundamental law to the assembly of the centuries, in which the weight of influence and property was sure to preponderate. Repeated proclamations and adjournments were interposed to allow time for prejudice and resentment to subside: the whole proceeding might be annulled by a seasonable omen or the opposition of a tribune; and such popular trials were commonly less formidable to innocence than they were favorable to guilt. But this union of the judicial and legislative powers left it doubtful whether the accused party was pardoned or acquitted; and in the defence of an illustrious client the orators of Rome and Athens address their arguments to the policy and benevolence, as well as to the justice, of their sovereign.

2. The task of convening the citizens for the trial of each offender became more difficult as the citizens and the offenders continually multiplied, and the ready expedient was adopted of delegating the jurisdiction of the, people to the ordinary magistrates or to extraordinary inquisitors. In the first ages these questions were rare and occasional. In the beginning of the seventh century of Rome they were made perpetual: four praetors were annually empowered to sit in judgment on the state offences of treason, extortion, peculation, and bribery; and Sylla added new praetors and new questions for those crimes which more directly injure the safety of individuals. By these inquisitors the trial was prepared and directed; but they could only pronounce the sentence of the majority of judges. To discharge this important though burdensome office, an annual list of ancient and respectable citizens was formed by the praetor. After many constitutional struggles they were chosen in equal numbers from the senate, the equestrian order, and the people; four hundred and fifty were appointed for single questions, and the various rolls or decuries of judges must have contained the names of some thousand Romans who represented the judicial authority of the State. In each particular cause a sufficient number was drawn from the urn; their integrity was guarded by an oath; the mode of ballot secured their independence; the suspicion of partiality was removed by the mutual challenges of the accuser and defendant; and the judges of Milo, by the retrenchment of fifteen on each side, were reduced to fifty-one voices or tablets of acquittal, of condemnation, or of favorable doubt.14

3. In his civil jurisdiction the praetor of the city was truly a judge, and almost a legislator; but as soon as he had prescribed the action of law he often referred to a delegate the determination of the fact. With the increase of legal proceedings, the tribunal of the centumvirs in which he presided acquired more weight and reputation. But whether he acted alone, or with the advice of his council, the most absolute powers might be trusted to a magistrate who was annually chosen by the votes of the people. The rules and precautions of freedom have required some explanation; the order of despotism is simple and inanimate. Before the age of Justinian, or perhaps of Diocletian, the decuries of Roman judges had sunk to an empty title: the humble advice of the assessors might be accepted or despised, and in each tribunal the civil and criminal jurisdiction was administered by a single magistrate, who was raised and disgraced by the will of the emperor.

A Roman accused of any capital crime might prevent the sentence of the law by voluntary exile or death. Till his guilt had been legally proved his innocence was presumed, and his person was free: till the votes of the last century had been counted and declared, he might peaceably secede to any of the allied cities of Italy, or Greece, or Asia.15 His fame and fortunes were preserved, at least to his children, by this civil death; and he might still be happy in every rational and sensual enjoyment, if a mind accustomed to the ambitious tumult of Rome could support the uniformity and silence of Rhodes or Athens. A bolder effort was required to escape from the tyranny of the Caesars; but this effort was rendered familiar by the maxims of the Stoics, the example of the bravest Romans, and the legal encouragements of suicide. The bodies of condemned criminals were exposed to public ignominy, and their children, a more serious evil, were reduced to poverty by the confiscation of their fortunes. But if the victims of Tiberius and Nero anticipated the decree of the prince or senate, their courage and despatch were recompensed by the applause of the public, the decent honors of burial, and the validity of their testaments. The exquisite avarice and cruelty of Domitian appear to have deprived the unfortunate of this last consolation, and it was still denied even by the clemency of the Antonines.

A voluntary death which, in the case of a capital offence, intervened between the accusation and the sentence, was admitted as a confession of guilt, and the spoils of the deceased were seized by the inhuman claims of the treasury. Yet the civilians have always respected the natural right of a citizen to dispose of his life; and the posthumous disgrace invented by Tarquin,16

to check the despair of his subjects, was never revived or imitated by succeeding tyrants. The powers of this world have indeed lost their dominion over him who is resolved on death, and his arm can only be restrained by the religious apprehension of a future state. Suicides are enumerated by Vergil among the unfortunate rather than the guilty;17 and the poetical fables of the infernal hades could not seriously influence the faith or practice of mankind. But the precepts of the gospel, or the Church, have at length imposed a pious servitude on the minds of Christians, and condemn them to expect, without a murmur, the last stroke of disease or the executioner.

The penal statutes form a very small proportion of the sixty-two books of the Code and Pandects; and in all judicial proceeding the life or death of a citizen is determined with less caution or delay than the most ordinary question of covenant or inheritance. This singular distinction, though something may be allowed for the urgent necessity of defending the peace of society, is derived from the nature of criminal and civil jurisprudence. Our duties to the state are simple and uniform: the law by which he is condemned is inscribed not only on brass or marble, but on the conscience of the offender, and his guilt is commonly proved by the testimony of a single fact. But our relations to each other are various and infinite; our obligations are created, annulled, and modified by injuries, benefits, and promises; and the interpretation of voluntary contracts and testaments, which are often dictated by fraud or ignorance, affords a long and laborious exercise to the sagacity of the judge. The business of life is multiplied by the extent of commerce and dominion, and the residence of the parties in the distant provinces of an empire is productive of doubt, delay, and inevitable appeals from the local to the supreme magistrate. Justinian, the Greek emperor of Constantinople and the East, was the legal successor of the Latian shepherd who had planted a colony on the banks of the Tiber. In a period of thirteen hundred years the laws had reluctantly followed the changes of government and manners, and the laudable desire of conciliating ancient names with recent institutions destroyed the harmony and swelled the magnitude of the obscure and irregular system.

The laws which excuse on any occasions the ignorance of their subjects confess their own imperfections. The civil jurisprudence, as it was abridged by Justinian, still continued a mysterious science and a profitable trade, and the innate perplexity of the study was involved in tenfold darkness by the private industry of the practitioners. The expense of the pursuit sometimes exceeded the value of the prize, and the fairest rights were abandoned by the poverty or prudence of the claimants. Such costly justice might tend to abate the spirit of litigation, but the unequal pressure serves only to increase the influence of the rich, and to aggravate the misery of the poor. By these dilatory and expensive proceedings, the wealthy pleader obtains a more certain advantage than he could hope from the accidental corruption of his judge. The experience of an abuse, from which our own age and country are not perfectly exempt, may sometimes provoke a generous indignation, and extort the hasty wish of exchanging our elaborate jurisprudence for the simple and summary decrees of a Turkish cadi. Our calmer reflection will suggest that such forms and delays are necessary to guard the person and property of the citizen; that the discretion of the judge is the first engine of tyranny, and that the laws of a free people should foresee and determine every question that may probably arise in the exercise of power and the transactions of industry. But the government of Justinian united the evils of liberty and servitude; and the Romans were oppressed at the same time by the multiplicity of their laws and the arbitrary will of their master.

1Among the works which have been recovered, by the persevering and successful endeavors of M. Mai and his followers to trace the imperfectly erased characters of the ancient writers on these palimpsests, Gibbon at this period of his labors would have hailed with delight the recovery of the Institutes of Gaius, and the fragments of the Theodosian Code, published by M. Peyron of Turin.

2Pisa was taken by the Florentinesin the year 1406; and in 1411 the Pandects were transported to the capital. These events are authentic and famous.

3They were new bound in purple, deposited in a rich casket, and shown to Curious travellers by the monks and magistrates bareheaded and with lighted tapers.

4Gibbon, dividing the Institutes into four parts, considers the appendix of the criminal law in the last title as a fourth part.

5This parental power was strictly confined to the Roman citizen. The foreigner, or he who had only ius Latii, did not possess it. If a Roman citizen unknowingly married a Latin or a foreign wife, he did not possess this power over his son, because the son, following the legal condition of the mother, was not a Roman citizen. A man, however, alleging sufficient cause for his ignorance, might raise both mother and child to the rights of citizenship.

6The edict of Constantine first conferred this right; for Augustus had prohibited the taking as a concubine a woman who might be taken as a wife; and if marriage took place afterward, this marriage made no change in the rights of the children born before it; recourse was then had to adoption, properly called arrogation.

7The Roman laws protected all property acquired in a lawful manner. They imposed on those who had invaded it, the obligation of making restitution and reparation of all damage caused by that invasion; they punished it moreover, in many cases, by a pecuniary fine. But they did not always grant a recovery against the third person, who had become bonafide possessed of the property. He who had obtained possession of a thing belonging to another, knowing nothing of the prior rights of that person, maintained the possession. The law had expressly determined those cases, in which it permitted property to be reclaimed from an innocent possessor. In these cases possession had the characters of absolute proprietorship. To possess this right, it was not sufficient to have entered into possession of the thing in any manner; the acquisition was bound to have that character of publicity, which was given by the observation of solemn forms, prescribed by the laws, or the uninterrupted exercise of proprietorship during a certain time: the Roman citizen alone could acquire this proprietorship. Every other kind of possession, which might be named imperfect proprietorship, was called in bonis habere. It was not till after the time of Cicero that the general name of dominium was even to all Proprietorship.

8Justinian has not condescended to give usury a place in his Institutes; but the necessary rules and restrictions are inserted in the Pandects and the Code.

9Cato, Seneca, Plutarch, have loudly condemned the practice or abuse of usury. According to etymology, the principal is supposed to generate the interest: "A breed for barren metal," exclaims Shakspeare--and the stage is an echo of the public voice.

10Livy mentions two remarkable and flagitious eras, of three thousand persons accused, and of one hundred and ninety noble matrons convicted, of the crime of poisoning. Hume discriminates the ages of private and public virtue. Rather say that such ebullitions of mischief (as in France in the year 1680) are accidents and prodigies which leave no marks on the manners of a nation.

11The first parricide at Rome was L. Ostius, after the Second Punic war. During the Cimbric, P. Malleolus was guilty of the first matricide.

12Verres lived near thirty years after his trial, till the Second Triumvirate, when he was proscribed by the taste of Mark Antony for the sake of his Corinthian plate.

13Montesquieu, that eloquent philosopher, conciliates the rights of liberty and of nature, which should never be placed in opposition to each either.

14We are indebted for this interesting fact to a fragment of Asconius Pedianus, who flourished under the reign of Tiberius. The loss of his
Commentaries on the Orations of Cicero has deprived us of a valuable fund of historical and legal knowledge.

15The extension of the Empire and city of Rome obliged the exile to seek a more distant place of retirement.

16When he fatigued his subjects in building the Capitol, many of the laborers were provoked to despatch themselves: he nailed their dead bodies to crosses.

17The sole resemblance of a violent and premature death has engaged Vergil to confound suicides with infants, lovers, and persons unjustly condemned. Some of his editors are at a loss to deduce the idea or ascertain the jurisprudence of the Roman poet.

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Chicago: Edward Gibbon, "Publication of the Justinian Code," The Great Events by Famous Historians, Vol 4 in The Great Events by Famous Historians. Lincoln Memorial University Edition, ed. Rossiter Johnson (Harrogate, TN: The National Alunmi, 1926), Original Sources, accessed April 18, 2021, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=H6WK3B4WBYHX52X.

MLA: Gibbon, Edward. "Publication of the Justinian Code." The Great Events by Famous Historians, Vol 4, in The Great Events by Famous Historians. Lincoln Memorial University Edition, edited by Rossiter Johnson, Harrogate, TN, The National Alunmi, 1926, Original Sources. 18 Apr. 2021. www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=H6WK3B4WBYHX52X.

Harvard: Gibbon, E, 'Publication of the Justinian Code' in The Great Events by Famous Historians, Vol 4. cited in 1926, The Great Events by Famous Historians. Lincoln Memorial University Edition, ed. , The National Alunmi, Harrogate, TN. Original Sources, retrieved 18 April 2021, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=H6WK3B4WBYHX52X.