Abbildungen der Seite

even then be satisfied to begin his pleasant ride, he would find it a very short one down to the grave! But he is not even willing now to take his comfort. He looks around for a higher point to wbich he may drag his sled, and if he finds one, he will take it thither. In most of cases, we have found that he spends the rest of his life in an attempt to get his sled still higher up before he begins to ride and in nine cases out of ten he dies at length in this effort. Though a man, he has been more boyish than the boys; for he has all the pains of the long pull up, without even the small pleasure of a short ride down ! When we see this, we always say, “A long pull up for a short ride down.

We sometimes see a man, who works hard to earn some money. When he has secured bis wages, be spends, in a theatre, circus, or saloon, in one hour wbat it took him a weary day to earn. When we see this we always say to ourseves, “A long pull up for a short ride down.

When we see a female, the ribbons and trimmings of whose beautiful bonnet cost wbat it required her three weeks of bard house-labor to earn, we are invariably reminded of the boys, who play sled on the slope of the hill; and we cannot but whisper to ourselves—"A long pull up for a short ride down."

We have also noticed some men seized witb a mania to become politicians. We have noticed how they begin to neglect some regu. Iar trade or business, that they may dovote their time to streetcorper and bar-room caucuses. We have seen how they submit to all kinds of mean humiliations, and not only pour out their hard earnings freely for the cause and the party,” but how they even draw on their capital to greese the political machinery. If they do not at first succeed to get into the fortunate ring so as to secure the nomination for themselves, they patiently wait and try again. Thus they spend years of hard, low, demoralizing work, in order to push themselves up to the eminence of some petty office, with the hope of stepping from that to another a little higher. Thus years, and substance, and often morals and self-respect are all painfully dovoted to getting their sled to the top of some official bill. Wben even this is secured, what have they? Certainly nothing which will pay them for their pains. At most their gain is but a little honor, which answers neither “to eat, or drink, or to mend a broken shoe.” This course and conduct of men always brings fresh to mind our boyhood's sled-riding, and we are constrained to say sad. ly-"A long pull up for a short ride down.

Sometimes, when the mood on us is more serious still, we notice the generally careless and impenitent course of wicked men. We see how they waste youth in folly, manhood in hardness and sin, and old age in stupidity and vain regrets. They go to a great deal more pains and trouble to be wicked than it would require to be good. The hard service of sin they regard pleasure. Though belabored with wounds and bruises in body and soul, they are still faithful to their hard master, the devil, and serve him with the patient submission of slaves who toil singing under the lash. They

are in persuit of pleasure ! They imagine that it is ultimately to be attained in this way! Their whole life is a scene of conflict, and collision. What they expect, ever tantalizes them. At length, when they have dragged through a painful and unsatisfying life—what is the end of it? "A long pull up for a short ride down.”


Out in the darkness, blinded by pain,
I reach for my darling, in vain, in vain,
For the death angel far over the river,
Carried my baby forever, and ever.
Baby, oh, baby! were you afraid
While in the arms of the angel you laid ?
Did he caress you, and kiss you to sleep,
On the long journey, for fear you would weep!

Does the dear Jesus, now, as of old,
Take little children into his fold ?
Plead with Him, little ones, that you may come
In my soul's dream-land sometimes to roam,
Then shall my spirit, forgetting its pain,
Clasp you with rapture, again and again;
And when each morrow comes day after day,
I'll take up my burden and search for the way.

At dawn never more her blue eyes shine
Out of the darkness, searching for mine,
Fairy tones, lisping word after word,
In the heart's chamber may only be heard,
The little feet wearied day after day
Struggled, how vainly, to keep on the way;
Then in its weariness seeking for rest,
Sank the hot forehead close to my breast.

Tiny hands gathered the snow-drop no more ;
Long grew the butter-cup close to the door ;
Weeping, the violets clung to the ground,
Their beauty unheeded-their treasures unfound,
She lay on my bosom, all wordless with pain,
But kissed me, and kissed me, again and again,
One long last look-the last-oh! the last
And out of our home a cherub she passed.

Softly the sunlight stole in the room,
Lifting the shadows out of the gloom,
All, save the one that fell on my heart,
No light had reached it-how could it depart !
I called her my own, forgetting that He
Who asked for her now, lent her to me,
When a bright angel bearing His love,
aid that my darling would lead me above.

-E. Frances R.




Twenty-one hundred years after that great flood, from which went forth the buman race, had begun anew to extend itself over the earth, the most beautiful part of the earth, the countries which lay around the Mediterranean Sea, taking in portions of the three grand divisions of the earth, were united in one great empireibat of Rome. This empire had grown up from the beginning of a small village community on the banks of the Tiber; and, lung overlooked or disregarded, it had at length, after seven centuries of its existence, attained to those giant proportions, which now extended from the Atlantic ocean to the Euphrates, from the northern coasts of Gaul and the Germanic Donau to the sand deserts of Africa and the cataracts of the Nile, comprehending in itself a population of about two hundred millions.

Thus this empire had found the limits assigned to it by nature. Attempts to make new conquests, now met, in nearly all directions, with almost insurmountable obstacles. In the South the great African sand desert set bounds to the Roman power; in the southeast Ethiopia and Arabia wero difficult of access; and here, as well as in the north and northeast, the sacrifices which would have been required to conquer and maintain countries so sparce of towns and inhabited for the most part by an impoverished population, would have been but poorly rewarded by the gain which might have accrued from them. Nor did the only remaining Hibernian Islands in the west present any alluring prospects ; and in the cast the Parthians, by the situation of their kingdom, as also on account of their mode of warfare so destructive to the Roman Legions, were neighbors difficult of attack. Hence even Octavius made the dec. laration that Rome might not extend its boundaries; and the most of his successors confined themselves to the maintaining of what they had, and engaged only in defensive wars; yea, they even, of their own will, or compelled by force, surrendered provinces which they bad already conquered.

The Roman empire did not rest on the power and national peculiarity of a great people ; but as in the beginning, so now still, upon the population of a single city, which ever maintained its claims, not only to constitute the seat of government, but also to include in itself, and exclusively continue to possess, tho wbole power of the state. Weary, however, of the long civil wars, the proscriptions and endless bloodshed, longing for security in pos. sessing and enjoying, Rome was able to maintain this exclusive power of government only yet under a single emperor, and this one was Octavius, who after he had overcome his last enemy and rival, Antonius, with firm, wise and moderate hand, retaining as much as possible the transmitted republican forms and names, quietly transferred the State into the new order of things, and established his throne on a republican foundation,

By the side of the primacy, held for life, and uniting in itself all power, the republic could mean while be nothing but an ever more and more vanishing shadow. As chief commander of the host of about 340,000 men, which had become the established power for war and government, as President of the Senate, which, destitute of will as over against himself, and which had been reduced to a mere advisory and administrative board, as censor, permanent tri. bune, and head of the state religion, protected by a body-guard provided for him, the prefect of which was already under Tiberias the second man in the kingdom, the monarch possessed an unlimited power; and the successors of Augustus were already allowed without notice to depreciate and ignore all that yet remained of republican forms. The people of Rome were satisfied by money, bribes and the distribution of grain, by exhibitions in the theatre and tho race courso, by gladiatorial fights and contests of wild animals. Among all classes a disposition reigned, wbich opposed to the despot only cowardice and slavish selfishness; and thus the primacy developed itself with frightful rapidity into a fearful despotism, which, burtured and stimulated by women, reprieved ones, fiatterers, spies and informers, presented to the astonished co.temporaries the spectacle of a series of untold horrors, as these were furnished by the wantonness, blood-thirstiness, and disregard of man wbich actuated rulers destitute of all reserve or shame.

The city of Rome, in the last age of the republic, enriched and splendidly transformed by the stolen treasures of conquered lands, presented under Augustus an almost entirely new aspect. The glory of Marsfield, which he had covered with public edifices, outsbone even the splendor of the city of the Seven Hills; and with truth could that monarch boast, that he had found a city of brick, but had left behind a city of marble. Year after year now, the city on the Tiber presented itself more and more as a place of resort for all the nations of the earth. The slaves dragged together from all lands with their foreign customs, crowded into the inmost recesses of all families, and infused their foreign modes of thought into the spirits and feelings of the rising generations. Rome was also flooded by free foreigners. From three quarters of the world men wandered into the city of the world, there to lead a pleasanter and happier life, or merely to secure a livelihood, and to return, with the gains there acquired, into their own country. Greeks, Syrians, people of Asia Minor, and Egyptians settled in Rome as literati and philosophers, as slaves to luxury, debauchery, and carnality, or as priests of foreign idolatry, as instruments of superstition. The poets who in later times portrayed the manners and morals of the city, complained that Rome had become a Greek city in language and manners, and that the Syrian river Orontes had flowed into the Tiber; and a century and a balf after Augustus, Athenaeus could say, tbat entire oriental nationalities had settled down in Rome.

Thus Rome after Augustus contained a population, which was nearly or altogether equal to that of London at the present day, one and a half, perhaps two millions. Of these, however, nearly the one half were slaves; and of the free, by far the greater part were foreigners, upon whom citizenship was bestowed, or freed ones and their descendants. Beyond the enormous wealth of a few families, poverty reigned to such an extent, that Augustus was compelled to support more than 200,000 by the distribution of money, grain and bread; and notwitbstanding the zeal with which this monarch sought to preserve the ancient pure Roman citizen blood, the pure Roman generations, which had besides been already greatly thinned by the civil wars and proscriptions, died out more and more. A radical evil existing at that time—the widely prevailing disposition to avoid marriage as imposing burdensome limitations—wrought especially toward the same result. Fruitless were the endeavors of Augustus, by means of laws, the Julia and Papia Poppäa, to arrest this increasing sickly condition of the slate, by encouraging marriage among the well-provided and the rich. Even in the marriage relation childlessness ever increased, 80 that in virtue of the second of these laws, the possession of even three children carried with it a title to important advantages.

Thus Rome became unavoidably the city, in which all the vices of the most different zones, all the infirmities and outgrowths of human society met and mingled, the city in which a homeless, idly wandering, beggarly rabble, which was at the same time enslaved to luxury, and looked for support from the State, constituted the greater part of the free citizens.

In the countries made subject to Rome no proper common spirit, no patriotic feeling of consolidated unity could develop itself under the imperial rule ; tbe Gaul was, and remained, altogether too much a stranger to the Syrian, the Egyptian to the Spaniard ; still the management of the provinces as a whole became better than it had been in the last times of the republic. Whilst at that time, a Bolesus Messalla, ás Proconsul of Asia, could in one day execute three hundred persons, and passing through among the corpses, exclaim in wonder: What king would have ventured to do this? Whilst the provinces could be regarded and farmed out only as sources of wealth for Rome, as means of enriching the ever-changing vicegerents sent out from Rome, and for those Romans who removed thither as brokers and publicans, a securer and more tolerable condition of things was introduced under Augustus and after him. The vicegerents stood under stricter rule, had fixed salaries, were not allowed at will to increase the taxes of the subjects; their jurisdiction over the military administration was beneficial to the people; the difference between the prevailing Roman body of citizens and the provincial subjects disappeared, and the Roman

« ZurückWeiter »