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Essays, Moral, Political, and Literary; Hume, David
25 paragraphs found.
I say, in part; For it is a vulgar error to imagine, that the ancients were as great friends to toleration as the ENGLISH or DUTCH are at present. The laws against external superstition, amongst the ROMANS, were as ancient e as the time of the twelve tables [The Twelve Tables (451-450 B.C.) codified Roman law]; and the JEWS as well as CHRISTIANS were sometimes punished by them; though, in general, these laws were not rigorously executed. Immediately after the conquest of GAUL, they forbad all but the natives to be initiated into the religion of the DRUIDS; and this was a kind of persecution. In about a century after this conquest, f the emperor, CLAUDIUS [ruled A.D. 41-54], quite abolished that superstition by penal laws; which would have been a very grievous persecution, if the imitation of the ROMAN manners had not, before-hand, weaned the GAULS from their ancient prejudices. SUETONIUS in vita CLAUDII. PLINY ascribes the abolition of the Druidical superstitions to TIBERIUS, probably because that emperor had taken some steps towards restraining them (lib. xxx. cap. i.) g [Pliny, the Elder (A.D. 23-79), Natural History, 30.4 in the Loeb edition. The emperor Tiberius ruled A.D. 14-37. The religious practices of the Druids included human sacrifice]. This is an instance of the usual caution and moderation of the ROMANS in such cases; and very different from their violent and sanguinary method of treating the Christians. Hence we may entertain a suspicion, that those furious persecutions of Christianity were in some measure owing to the imprudent zeal and bigotry of the first propagators of that sect; and Ecclesiastical history affords us many reasons to confirm this suspicion. *89

Part I, Essay IX

It is needless to cite CICERO or PLINY on this head: They are too much noted: But one is a little surprised to find ARRIAN, a very grave, judicious writer, interrupt the thread of his narration all of a sudden, to tell his readers that he himself is as eminent among the GREEKS for eloquence as ALEXANDER was for arms. Lib. i. [Arrian, Expedition of Alexander 1.12.]
The frequent mention in ancient authors of that ill-bred custom of the master of the family's eating better bread or drinking better wine at table, than he afforded his guests, is but an indifferent mark of the civility of those ages. See JUVENAL, sat. 5. PLINII lib. xiv. cap. 13. [Pliny the Elder, Natural History 14.14.91 in the Loeb edition.] Also PLINII Epist. [Pliny the Younger (A.D. 61-112?), Letters.] Lucian de mercede conductis, Saturnalia, &c. [Lucian, On Salaried Posts in Great Houses, Saturnalia, etc.] There is scarcely any part of EUROPE at present so uncivilized as to admit of such a custom.

There is a fine observation of the elder PLINY, which illustrates the principle here insisted on. It is very remarkable, says he, that the last works of celebrated artists, which they left imperfect, are always the most prized, such as the IRIS of ARISTIDES, the TYNDARIDES of NICOMACHUS, the MEDEA of TIMOMACHUS, and the VENUS of APELLES. These are valued even above their finished productions: The broken lineaments of the piece, and the half-formed idea of the painter are carefully studied; and our very grief for that curious hand, which had been stopped by death, is an additional encrease to our pleasure.*26

Part II, Essay III, OF MONEY
PLIN. lib. xxxiii. cap. II. [Pliny the Elder, Natural History, Loeb edition, 33.50.]

Part II, Essay IV

PLINII epist. lib. vii. ep. 18. [Pliny the Younger, Letters 7.18.]

Money was little more plentiful in GREECE during the age of PHILIP and PERSEUS, than in ENGLAND during that of HARRY VII.: Yet these two monarchs in thirty years *58 collected from the small kingdom of MACEDON, a larger treasure than that of the ENGLISH monarch. PAULUS ÆMILIUS brought to ROME about 1,700,000 pounds Sterling.*59 PLINY says, 2,400,000. *60 And that was but a part of the MACEDONIAN treasure. The rest was dissipated by the resistance and flight of PERSEUS. *61

Lib. xxxiii. cap. 3. [Pliny the Elder, Natural History 33.50.]

In the same place, VARRO mentions it as an useful precaution, not to buy too many slaves from the same nation, lest they beget factions and seditions in the family: *61 A presumption, that in ITALY, the greater part, even of the country labouring slaves, (for he speaks of no other) were bought from the remoter provinces. All the world knows, that the family slaves in ROME, who were instruments of show and luxury, were commonly imported from the east. Hoc profecere, says PLINY, speaking of the jealous care of masters, mancipiorum legiones, et in domo turba externa, ac servorum quoque causa nomenclator adhibendus.*62


MANTINEA was equal to any city in ARCADIA: *198 Consequently it was equal to MEGALOPOLIS, which was fifty stadia, or six miles and a quarter in circumference. *199 But MANTINEA had only 3000 citizens. *200 The GREEK cities, therefore, contained often fields and gardens, together with the houses; and we cannot judge of them by the extent of their walls. ATHENS contained no more than 10,000 houses; yet its walls, with the sea-coast, were above twenty miles in extent. SYRACUSE was twenty-two miles in circumference; yet was scarcely ever spoken of by the ancients as more populous than ATHENS. BABYLON was a square of fifteen miles, or sixty miles in circuit; but it contained large cultivated fields and inclosures, as we learn from PLINY. Though AURELIAN'S wall was fifty miles in circumference; *201 the circuit of all the thirteen divisions of ROME, taken apart, according to PUBLIUS VICTOR, *202 was only about forty-three miles. When an enemy invaded the country, all the inhabitants retired within the walls of the ancient cities, with their cattle and furniture, and instruments of husbandry: and the great height, to which the walls were raised, enabled a small number to defend them with facility.


DIONYSIUS HALICARNASSÆUS *213 says, that the ancient walls of ROME were nearly of the same compass with those of ATHENS, but that the suburbs ran out to a great extent; and it was difficult to tell, where the town ended or the country began. In some places of ROME, it appears, from the same author, *214 from JUVENAL, *215 and from other ancient writers, *216 that the houses were high, and families lived in separate storeys, one above another: But it is probable, that these were only the poorer citizens, and only in some few streets. If we may judge from the younger PLINY'S *217 account of his own house, and from BARTOLI'S *218 plans of ancient buildings, the men of quality had very spacious palaces; and their buildings were like the CHINESE houses at this day, where each apartment is separated from the rest, and rises no higher than a single storey. To which if we add, that the ROMAN nobility much affected extensive porticoes, and even woods *219 in town; we may perhaps allow VOSSIUS (though there is no manner of reason for it) to read the famous passage of the elder PLINY *220 his own way, without admitting the extravagant consequences which he draws from it.


There is a passage in HERODIAN, which is a little surprising. He says positively, that the palace of the Emperor was as large as all the rest of the city. *234 This was NERO'S golden house, which is indeed represented by SUETONIUS *235 and PLINY as of an enormous extent, *236 but no power of imagination can make us conceive it to bear any proportion to such a city as LONDON.


PLINY *241 tells us that SELEUCIA, the seat of the GREEK empire in the East, was reported to contain 600,000 people. CARTHAGE is said by STRABO *242 to have contained 700,000. The inhabitants of PEKIN are not much more numerous. LONDON, PARIS, and CONSTANTINOPLE, may admit of nearly the same computation; at least, the two latter cities do not exceed it. ROME, ALEXANDRIA, ANTIOCH, we have already spoken of. From the experience of past and present ages, one might conjecture that there is a kind of impossibility, that any city could ever rise much beyond this proportion. Whether the grandeur of a city be founded on commerce or on empire, there seem to be invincible obstacles, which prevent its farther progress. The seats of vast monarchies, by introducing extravagant luxury, irregular expence, idleness, dependence, and false ideas of rank and superiority, are improper for commerce. Extensive commerce checks itself, by raising the price of all labour and commodities. When a great court engages the attendance of a numerous nobility, possessed of overgrown fortunes, the middling gentry remain in their provincial towns, where they can make a figure on a moderate income. And if the dominions of a state arrive at an enormous size, there necessarily arise many capitals, in the remoter provinces, whither all the inhabitants, except a few courtiers, repair for education, fortune, and amusement. *243 LONDON, by uniting extensive commerce and middling empire, has, perhaps, arrived at a greatness, which no city will ever be able to exceed.

COLUMELLA, lib. i. proœm. et cap. 2. et 7. VARRO [116-27 B.C., Rerum Rusticarum (On agriculture)], lib. iii. cap. 1. HORAT. [Horace, Odes] lib. ii. od. 15. TACIT. annal. lib. iii. cap. 54. SUETON. in vita AUG. [in the life of Augustus] cap. xlii. PLIN. lib. xviii. cap. 13. [Pliny the Elder, Natural History. The appropriate citation in the Loeb edition would seem to be 18.4.]
Lib. xxxiii. cap. I. [Pliny the Elder, Natural History 33.6.26 in the Loeb edition. The passage reads: "This is the progress achieved by our legions of slaves—a foreign rabble in one's home, so that an attendant to tell people's names now has to be employed even in the case of one's slaves" (Loeb translation by H. Rackham).] So likewise TACITUS, annal. lib. xiv. cap. 44. i
To the same purpose is that passage of the elder SENECA, ex controversia 5. lib. v. "Arata quondam populis rura, singulorum ergastulorum sunt; latiusque nunc villici, quam olim reges, imperant." [Seneca the Elder (55? B.C.-A.D. 40?), The Controversies 5.5: "It is for all this that country once ploughed by whole peoples belongs to single slave-farms and bailiffs have wider sway than kings" (Loeb translation by M. Winterbottom).] "At nunc eadem," says PLINY, "vincti pedes, damnatae manus, inscripti vultus exercent." Lib. xviii. cap. 3. [Pliny the Elder, Natural History 18.4 in the Loeb edition: "But nowadays those agricultural operations are performed by slaves with fettered ankles and by the hands of malefactors with branded faces" (Loeb translation by H. Rackham).] So also MARTIAL.

"Et sonet innumera compede Thuscus ager." Lib. ix. ep. 23. [Martial, Epigrams 9.22 in the Loeb edition: "... and Tuscan fields clank with countless fettered slaves" (Loeb translation by Walter C. A. Ker).] And LUCAN.

"Tum longos jungere fines
Agrorum, et quondam duro sulcata Camilli,
Vomere et antiquas Curiorum passa ligones,
Longa sub ignotis extendere rura colonis." Lib. i.

[Lucan, The Civil War 1. 167-70: "Next they stretched wide the boundaries of their lands, till those acres, which once were furrowed by the iron plough of Camillus and felt the spade of a Curius long ago, grew into vast estates tilled by foreign cultivators" (Loeb translation by J. D. Duff).]

"Vincto fossore coluntur
Hesperiae segetes. ———" Lib. vii.

[ The Civil War 7.402: "The corn-fields of Italy are tilled by chained labourers" (Loeb translation by J. D. Duff).]

PLINY, lib. vii. cap. 25. says, that CÆSAR used to boast, that there had fallen in battle against him one million one hundred and ninety-two thousand men, besides those who perished in the civil wars. It is not probable, that that conqueror could ever pretend to be so exact in his computation. But allowing the fact, it is likely, that the HELVETII, GERMANS, and BRITONS, whom he slaughtered, would amount to near a half of the number. u
LIB. ii. epist. 16. lib. v. epist. 6. [Pliny the Younger, Letters 2.17 in the Loeb edition and 5.6.] It is true, PLINY there describes a country-house: But since that was the idea which the ancients formed of a magnificent and convenient building, the great men would certainly build the same way in town. "In laxitatem ruris excurrunt" ["as if they were country houses" (Loeb translation by Richard M. Gummere)], says SENECA of the rich and voluptuous, epist. 114. VALERIUS MAXIMUS, lib. iv. cap. 4. speaking of CINCINNATUS'S field of four acres, says, "Auguste se habitare nunc putat, cujus domus tantum patet quantum CINCINNATI rura patuerant." [Valerius Maximus (first century A.D.), Facta et Dicta Memorabilia (Memorable deeds and sayings) 4.4: "He counts himself to live splendidly now, whose house stands upon as much ground as all Cincinnatus's farm contained."] To the same purpose see lib. xxxvi. cap. 15. also lib. xviii. cap. 2.
"MOENIA ejus (ROMÆ) collegere ambitu imperatoribus, censoribusque VESPASIANIS, A. U. C. 828. pass. xiii. MCC. complexa montes septem, ipsa dividitur in regiones quatuordecim, compita earum 265. Ejusdem spatii mensura, currente a milliario in capite ROM. Fori statuto, ad singulas portas, quæ sunt hodie numero 37, ita ut duodecim portæ semel numerentur, prætereanturque ex veteribus septem, quæ esse desierunt, efficit passuum per directum 30,775. Ad extrema veto tectorum cum castris prætoriis ab eodem Milliario, per vicos omnium viarum, mensura collegit paulo amplius septuaginta millia passuum. Quo si quis altitudinem tectorum addat, dignam profecto, æstimationem concipiat, fateaturque nullius urbis magnitudinem in toto orbe potuisse ei comparari." PLIN. lib. iii. cap. 5. [Pliny, Natural History 3.5.66-67: "The area surrounded by its walls at the time of the principate and censorship of the Vespasians, in the 826th year of its foundation, measured 13 miles and 200 yards in circumference, embracing seven hills. It is itself divided into fourteen regions, with 265 crossways with their guardian Lares. If a straight line is drawn from the milestone standing at the head of the Roman Forum to each of the gates, which to-day number thirty-seven (provided that the Twelve Gates be counted only as one each and the seven of the old gates that exist no longer be omitted), the result is a total of 20 miles 765 yards in a straight line. But the total length of all the ways through the districts from the same milestone to the extreme edge of the buildings, taking in the Praetorians' Camp, amounts to a little more than 60 miles. If one were further to take into account the height of the buildings, a very fair estimate would be formed, that would bring us to admit that there has been no city in the whole world that could be compared to Rome in magnitude." (Loeb translation by H. Rackham.) The Loeb Latin text reads "20,765 paces," which Rackham translates as 20 miles 765 yards. Hume obviously follows a different manuscript tradition.]

All the best manuscripts of PLINY read the passage as here cited, and fix the compass of the walls of ROME to be thirteen miles. The question is, What PLINY means by 30,775 paces, and how that number was formed? The manner in which I conceive it, is this. ROME was a semicircular area of thirteen miles circumference. The Forum, and consequently the Milliarium, we know, was situated on the banks of the TYBER, and near the center of the circle, or upon the diameter of the semicircular area. Though there were thirty-seven gates to ROME, yet only twelve of them had straight streets, leading from them to the Milliarium. PLINY, therefore, having assigned the circumference of ROME, and knowing that that alone was not sufficient to give us a just notion of its surface, uses this farther method. He supposes all the streets, leading from the Milliarium to the twelve gates, to be laid together into one straight line, and supposes we run along that line, so as to count each gate once: In which case, he says, that the whole line is 30,775 paces: Or, in other words, that each street or radius of the semicircular area is upon an average two miles and a half; and the whole length of ROME is five miles, and its breadth about half as much, besides the scattered suburbs.

PERE HARDOUIN [Jean Hardouin (1646-1729) published in 1685 an edition of Pliny's Natural History, which was reissued in 1723 and later with annotations] understands this passage in the same manner; with regard to the laying together the several streets of ROME into one line, in order to compose 30,775 paces: But then he supposes, that streets led from the Milliarium to every gate, and that no street exceeded 800 paces in length. But (1.) a semicircular area, whose radius was only 800 paces, could never have a circumference near thirteen miles, the compass of ROME as assigned by PLINY. A radius of two miles and a half forms very nearly that circumference. (2.) There is an absurdity in supposing a city so built as to have streets running to its center from every gate in its circumference. These streets must interfere as they approach. (3.) This diminishes too much from the greatness of ancient ROME, and reduces that city below even BRISTOL or ROTTERDAM.

The sense which VOSSIUS in his Observationes variæ [see note 3 to this essay] puts on this passage of PLINY, errs widely in the other extreme. One manuscript of no authority, instead of thirteen miles, has assigned thirty miles for the compass of the walls of ROME. And VOSSIUS understands this only of the curvilinear part of the circumference; supposing, that as the TYBER formed the diameter, there were no walls built on that side. But (1.) this reading is allowed to be contrary to almost all the manuscripts. (2.) Why should PLINY, a concise writer, repeat the compass of the walls of ROME in two successive sentences? (3.) Why repeat it with so sensible a variation? (4.) What is the meaning of PLINY'S mentioning twice the MILLIARIUM, if a line was measured that had no dependence on the MILLIARIUM? (5.) AURELIAN'S wall is said by VOPISCUS to have been drawn laxiore ambitu ["in a wider circuit"], and to have comprehended all the buildings and suburbs on the north side of the TYBER; yet its compass was only fifty miles; and even here critics suspect some mistake or corruption in the text; since the walls, which remain, and which are supposed to be the same with AURELIAN'S, exceed not twelve miles. It is not probable, that ROME would diminish from AUGUSTUS to AURELIAN. It remained still the capital of the same empire; and none of the civil wars in that long period, except the tumults on the death of MAXIMUS and BALBINUS, ever affected the city. CARACALLA is said by AURELIUS VICTOR [Sextus Aurelius Victor, whose history of the caesars was published around A.D. 360] to have encreased ROME. (6.) There are no remains of ancient buildings, which mark any such greatness of ROME. VOSSIUS'S reply to this objection seems absurd, that the rubbish would sink sixty or seventy feet under ground. It appears from SPARTIAN ( in vita Severi) that the five-mile stone in via Lavicana was out of the city. [Aelius Spartianus was traditionally regarded as the author of the life of Severus in the Historia Augusta.] (7.) OLYMPIODORUS [A.D. 380?-425, whose twenty-two books of history are lost but are summarized by Photius] and PUBLIUS VICTOR fix the number of houses in ROME to be betwixt forty and fifty thousand. (8.) The very extravagance of the consequences drawn by this critic, as well as LIPSIUS [probably in Lipsius's De Magnitudine Romana Libri quatuor (Four books on the size of Rome)], if they be necessary, destroys the foundation on which they are grounded: That ROME contained fourteen millions of inhabitants; while the whole kingdom of FRANCE contains only five, according to his computation, &c.

The only objection to the sense which we have affixed above to the passage of PLINY, seems to lie in this, That PLINY, after mentioning the thirty-seven gates of ROME, assigns only a reason for suppressing the seven old ones, and says nothing of the eighteen gates, the streets leading from which terminated, according to my opinion, before they reached the Forum. But as PLINY was writing to the ROMANS, who perfectly knew the disposition of the streets, it is not strange he should take a circumstance for granted, which was so familiar to every body. Perhaps too, many of these gates led to wharfs upon the river.

QUINTUS CURTIUS says, its walls were ten miles in circumference, when founded by ALEXANDER; lib. iv. cap. 8. [ History of Alexander 4.8.] STRABO, who had travelled to ALEXANDRIA, as well as DIODORUS SICULUS, says it was scarce four miles long, and in most places about a mile broad; lib. 17. [1.8.] PLINY says it resembled a MACEDONIAN cassock, stretching out in the corners; lib. v. cap. 10. [5.11 in the Loeb edition.] Notwithstanding this bulk of ALEXANDRIA, which seems but moderate, DIODORUS SICULUS, speaking of its circuit as drawn by ALEXANDER (which it never exceeded, as we learn from AMMIANUS MARCELLINUS [(fourth century A.D.), History of Rome from Nerva to Valens], lib. xxii. cap. 16.) says it was Greek quote, extremely great, ibid. [17.52.] The reason which he assigns for its surpassing all cities in the world (for he excepts not ROME) is, that it contained 300,000 free inhabitants. He also mentions the revenues of the kings, to wit, 6000 talents, as another circumstance to the same purpose: No such mighty sum in our eyes, even though we make allowance for the different value of money. What STRABO says of the neighbouring country, means only that it was well peopled, Greek quote. Might not one affirm, without any great hyperbole, that the whole banks of the river from GRAVESEND to WINDSOR are one city? [Gravesend is some twenty-five miles east of London on the Thames River, and Windsor is some twenty miles west.] This is even more than STRABO says of the banks of the lake MAREOTIS, and of the canal to CANOPUS. It is a vulgar saying in ITALY, that the king of SARDINIA has but one town in PIEDMONT; for it is all a town. AGRIPPA, in JOSEPHUS de bello JUDAIC. lib. ii. cap. 16. [Flavius Josephus (first century A.D.), The Jewish War 2.385 in the Loeb edition] to make his audience comprehend the excessive greatness of ALEXANDRIA, which he endeavours to magnify, describes only the compass of the city as drawn by ALEXANDER: A clear proof that the bulk of the inhabitants were lodged there, and that the neighbouring country was no more than what might be expected about all great towns, very well cultivated, and well peopled.
The inhabitants of MARSEILLES lost not their superiority over the GAULS in commerce and the mechanic arts, till the ROMAN dominion turned the latter from arms to agriculture and civil life. See STRABO, lib. iv. [1.5]. That author, in several places, repeats the observation concerning the improvement arising from the ROMAN arts and civility: And he lived at the time when the change was new, and would be more sensible. So also PLINY: "Quis enim non, communicato orbe terrarum, majestate ROMANI imperii, profecisse vitam putet, commercio rerum ac societate festæ pacis, omniaque etiam, quæ occulta antea fuerant, in promiscuo usu facta." Lib. xiv. proœm. [ Natural History 14.1.2: "For who would not admit that now that intercommunication has been established throughout the world by the majesty of the Roman Empire, life has been advanced by the interchange of commodities and by partnership in the blessings of peace, and that even things that had previously lain concealed have all now been established in general use?" (Loeb translation by H. Rackham).] "Numine deûm electa (speaking of ITALY) quæ cœlum ipsum clarius faceret, sparsa congregaret imperia, ritusque molliret, & tot populorum discordes, ferasque linguas sermonis commercio contraheret ad colloquia, & humanitatem homini daret; breviterque, una cunctarum gentium in toto orbe patria fieret;" lib. ii. cap. 5. ["... chosen by the providence of the gods to make heaven itself more glorious, to unite scattered empires, to make manners gentle, to draw together in converse by community of language the jarring and uncouth tongues of so many nations, to give mankind civilisation, and in a word to become throughout the world the single fatherland of all the races" (Loeb translation by H. Rackham). This passage is found at 3.5.39 in the Loeb edition of Pliny's Natural History.] Nothing can be stronger to this purpose than the following passage from TERTULLIAN, who lived about the age of SEVERUS. "Certe quidem ipse orbis in promptu est, cultior de die & instructior pristino. Omnia jam pervia, omnia nota, omnia negotiosa. Solitudines famosas retro fundi amœnissimi obliteraverunt, silvas arva domuerunt, feras pecora fugaverunt; arenæ seruntur, saxa panguntur, paludes eliquantur, tantæ urbes, quantæ non casæ quondam. Jam nec insulæ horrent, nec scopuli terrent; ubique domus, ubique populus, ubique respublica, ubique vita. Summum testimonium frequentiæ humanæ, onerosi sumus mundo, vix nobis elementa sufficiunt; & necessitates arctiores, et querelæ apud omnes, dum jam nos natura non sustinet." De anima, cap. 30. [Tertullian (A.D. 155?-222?) De Anima (On the soul) 30.3-4: "A glance at the face of the earth shows us that it is becoming daily better cultivated and more fully peopled than in olden times. There are few places now that are not accessible; few, unknown; few, unopened to commerce. Beautiful farms now cover what once were trackless wastes, the forests have given way before the plough, cattle have driven off the beasts of the jungle, the sands of the desert bear fruit and crops, the rocks have been ploughed under, the marshes have been drained of their water, and, where once there was but a settler's cabin, great cities are now to be seen. No longer do lonely islands frighten away the sailor nor does he fear their rocky coasts. Everywhere we see houses, people, stable governments, and the orderly conduct of life. The strongest witness is the vast population of the earth to which we are a burden and she scarcely can provide for our needs; as our demands grow greater, our complaints against nature's inadequacy are heard by all." Edwin A. Quain, trans. Tertullian: Apologetical Works (Washington: Catholic University of America Press, 1962). The Fathers of the Church series, vol. 10.] The air of rhetoric and declamation which appears in this passage, diminishes somewhat from its authority, but does not entirely destroy it. kk The same remark may be extended to the following passage of ARISTIDES the sophist, who lived in the age of ADRIAN. "The whole world," says he, addressing himself to the ROMANS, "seems to keep one holiday; and mankind, laying aside the sword which they formerly wore, now betake themselves to feasting and to joy. The cities, forgetting their ancient animosities, preserve only one emulation, which shall embellish itself most by every art and ornament; Theatres every where arise, amphitheatres, porticoes, aqueducts, temples, schools, academies; and one may safely pronounce, that the sinking world has been again raised by your auspicious empire. Nor have cities alone received an encrease of ornament and beauty; but the whole earth, like a garden or paradise, is cultivated and adorned: Insomuch, that such of mankind as are placed out of the limits of your empire (who are but few) seem to merit our sympathy and compassion." [Probably in Aristides' oration To Rome.]

It is remarkable, that though DIODORUS SICULUS makes the inhabitants of ÆGYPT, when conquered by the ROMANS, amount only to three millions [ Library of History 1.31.6. Almost all ancient manuscripts support Hume's reading of three million, but the Loeb edition adopts an alternative reading that makes Diodorus agree with Josephus]; yet JOSEPH. de bello Jud. lib. ii. cap. 16. [2.385 in the Loeb edition] says, that its inhabitants, excluding those of ALEXANDRIA, were seven millions and a half, in the reign of NERO: And he expressly says, that he drew this account from the books of the ROMAN publicans, who levied the poll-tax. STRABO, lib. xvii. [1.12] praises the superior police of the ROMANS with regard to the finances of ÆGYPT, above that of its former monarchs: And no part of administration is more essential to the happiness of a people. Yet we read in ATHENÆUS, (lib. i. cap. 25. [ The Banquet of the Learned 1.33d in the Loeb edition]) who flourished during the reign of the ANTONINES, that the town MAREIA, near ALEXANDRIA, which was formerly a large city, had dwindled into a village. This is not, properly speaking, a contradiction. SUIDAS (AUGUST.) says, that the Emperor AUGUSTUS, having numbered the whole ROMAN empire, found it contained only 4,101,017 men ( Greek quote). There is here surely some great mistake, either in the author or transcriber. But this authority, feeble as it is, may be sufficient to counterbalance the exaggerated accounts of HERODOTUS and DIODORUS SICULUS with regard to more early times.

It would be easy to prove, that Suicide is as lawful under the christian dispensation as it was to the heathens. There is not a single text of scripture, which prohibits it. That great and infallible rule of faith and practice, which must controul all philosophy and human reasoning, has left us, in this particular, to our natural liberty. Resignation to providence is, indeed, recommended in scripture; but that implies only submission to ills, which are unavoidable, not to such as may be remedied by prudence or courage. Thou shalt not kill is evidently meant to exclude only the killing of others, over whose life we have no authority. That this precept like most of the scripture precepts, must be modified by reason and common sense, is plain from the practice of magistrates, who punish criminals capitally, notwithstanding the letter of this law. But were this commandment ever so express against Suicide, it could now have no authority. For all the law of Moses is abolished, except so far as it is established by the law of nature; and we have already endeavoured to prove, that Suicide is not prohibited by that law. In all cases, Christians and Heathens are precisely upon the same footing; and if Cato and Brutus, Arria and Portia acted heroically, those who now imitate their example ought to receive the same praises from posterity. The power of committing Suicide is regarded by Pliny as an advantage which men possess even above the deity himself. Deus non sibi potest mortem consciscere, si velit, quod homini dedit optimum in tantis vitæ pœnis. Lib. ii. Cap. 7. [Pliny, Natural History 2.5.27 in the Loeb edition: "(God cannot) even if he wishes, commit suicide, the supreme boon that he has bestowed on man among all the penalties of life" (Loeb translation by H. Rackham).]

Part III, Essay X


Quanto facilius, says Pliny,*56certiusque sibi quemque credere, ac specimen securitatis antigenitali sumere experimento. Our insensibility, before the composition of the body, seems to natural reason a proof of a like state after its dissolution.

Lib. vii. cap. 55. [ Natural History 7.55 in the Loeb edition: "... how much easier and safer for each to trust in himself, and for us to derive our idea of future tranquillity from our experience of it before birth!" (Loeb translation by H. Rackham.) Futurae is added to the Latin text by Rackham. The context is Pliny's argument that neither body nor mind possesses any sensation after death, any more than it did before birth.]

Variant Readings

Variant Readings

g Editions B and D omit the reference to Pliny.