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Image 8 of The State College cadet, vol. 6, no. 8, April 1896

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58 V THE OADET. { nation, this gifted people was ever engaged in civil strife. Having no bond of union, no common interests, they fell an easy victim before the arm of the Macedonian tyrant. ' And yet anothe1· chapter, and Gibbon traces the final, political experiment of that country, which sprang from a cavern of ban- ditti, existed as a monarchy for two and a half centuries, a re- T public forilive, an empire for a longer period, and then passed · into the dust of history, The monarchy became obnoxious, and `p an incensed people abolished the kingly office. The revolution which . expelled the Tarquins, gave birth to the Roman republic. But it was l never a free representative government, rather a series of Plebeian i ` and Patrician revolutions, where despotic consuls ruled under the _. mask of liberty. Yet with all its imperfections and tyrannies, it was during this period, between the expulsion of the Tarquins and t the re-establishment of monarchy, the period when the people were T nearest selfigovern ment, that the Roman intellect reached its highest fruition, the Roman soldier was bravest, Roman virtue purest, and Roman honor held in highest esteem. lt was in the better days of the republic, that to he a Roman was greater than to be a king. But T class hatreds and personal fcuds occasioned the loss of public virtue and prepared the way for the empire, that most corrupt, yet dazzling ~ picture painted upon the canvass of hist-oryr . U \Ve do not wonder that tl1e e1npi1·e fell, we wonder that it existed _ solong. It was ruled by the sword instead of the sceptre. The debauched emperors had not a pulsation in common with their sub- ` jects. Their vassals were serfs, ground to the dust by imposts in peace, by military conscriptions in war. `The Roman empire was a stranger in its own land. The foundation of its greatness lay in an ‘ insatiable thirst for universal dominion. lt could he nourished only by victories, and victories but ripencd the principle of decay. With a conquered world at its feet, it no longer had soil whence to draw sustenance. lt stood as a mighty statue on the verge of decadence—— the enemy within greater than the enemy without. Unable to with- stand the successive waves of humanity from the barbarous North . that clashed against it, the tottering fabric fell, a mass of ruins, and V disappeared from the stage of history. The empire of the Caesars . _ performed its destiny. It conquered the world, but it could not trans·