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Fabricus is sent to treat with Pyrrhus. fent Cineas, a powerful rhetorician to the senate, and offered to make a treaty with the Romans, requesting only for himselfand the Tarentines, their alliance and friendship. These offers, and still more the orator's eloquence, seemed to touch the whole assembly. A general inclination feemed to prevail in favour of the king's proposal, and a peace was confidently talked of in every part of the city. This, however, was strongly opposed by Appius Claudius, an old senator, and Cineas was disniffed with an answer, intimating, that when Pyrrhus should withdraw his forces from Italy, the senate would treat with him concerning peace.
Cineas being thus frustrated in his expectations, returned to his master, extolling both the virtue and the grandeur of the Romans. « The senate," he said, “appeared a reverend « assembly of demi-gods; and the city, a temple for their « reception. Of this Pyrrhus soon after became fenfible, by an embassy from Rome, concerning the ransom and exchange of prisoners. At the head of this venerable deputation was Fabricius, an ancient senator, who had been a pattern to his countrymen of the most extreme poverty, joined to the most chearful content. This practical philosopher, who had been formerly consul, and was now the ambassador of Rome, had no other plate furniture in his house, than a small cup, the bottom even of which was horn. His daughters being with out fortunes, the senate generously portioned them from the public treasury. When the Samnites had already offered him large presents, he refused them, saying, that he was already rich, as he had learned the art of lessening his wants, by reftraining his appetites.
Pyrrhus received this celebrated old man with great kindness, treated him with the highest marks of distinction, and by the offer of the most valuable presents, endeavoured to dispose him to his interest. After having given a general audience to the ambassadors, he took Fabricius aside, and addressed him in the following manner.
« As for you, Fabricius, I am sensible of your merit. I « am convinced that you are an excellent general, and per« fectly qualified for the command of an army; that justice " and temperance are united in your character, and that you “ justly pass for a person of consummate virtue. But I am no « less 'certain of your poverty, and I must confess, that for« tune, in this particular, has treated you with injustice, by « misplacing you in the class of indigent senators. In order, “ therefore, to supply that deficiency, (provided you aflft “me to negociate an honourable peace), I am ready to give
you as much gold and silver as will raise you above the * richest citizen of Rome; being fully persuaded, that no expence can be more honourable to a prince, than that which is employed in the relief of great men, who are compelled “ by their poverty to lead a life unworthy of their virtue, and " that this is the noblest purpose to which a king can possibly. “ devote his treasures.”
To this Fabricius made the following answer: “As to “my poverty, you have, indeed, fir, been rightly informed. « My whole estate consists in a house of but mean appearance, " and a little spot of ground, from which, by my own labour, " I draw my fupport. But if, by any means, you have been “ persuaded to think, that this poverty makes me less con“ lidered in my country, or in any degree unhappy, you are
extremely deceived. I have no reason to complain of for“ tune; she supplies me with all that nature requires; and, "if I am without fuperfluities, I am also free froin the desire 4 of them. With these, I confess, I should be more able to "succour the necessitous, the only advantage for which the a wealthy are to be envied. But, Imall as my poffeffions are, "I can still contribute fomething to the support of the state, " and the allistance of my friends.
“With regard to honours, my country places me, poor as "I am, upon a level with the richest ; for, Rome knows " no qualifications for great employments but virtue and abi"lity. She entrusts me with command of her armies, and "confides to my care the most important negotiations. My " poverty does not lessen the weight and influence of my
counsels in the senate. The Roman people honour me for " that very poverty which you consider as a disgrace. They “ know the inany opportunities I have had in war to enrich “myself without incurring censure. They are convinced of
my disinterested zeal for their prosperity, and if I have any " thing to complain of in the return they make, it is only the «excels of their applaufe. What value, then, can I set upon
your gold and filver? What king can add any thing to my fortune! Always attentive to discharge the duties in"cumbent on me, I have a mind free from felf reproach, and « I have an honeft fame."
Pyrrhus amazed at the greatness of his foul, released the prisoners, upon the promise of Fabricius, that, in case the fenate were determined to continue the war, he might reclaim them whenever he thought proper. As the senate, however, would hearken to no accommodation, the prisoners were soon returned, and the war was continued.
160 A fingular Instance of Generosity.
The armies engaged near Asculum, a city of Apulia, were it is said that the Romans were worsted. The enemy's army was also so much 'weakened, that Pyrrhus declared, “ that if " he gained such another victory, he was undone."
History relates a remarkable instance of Roman generosity in the person of Fabricius. Whilst this general was on his march against Pyrrhus, a letter was brought to him from the king's physician, importing, that for a proper reward he would take him off by poison, and thus rid the Romans from a powerful enemy, and a dangerous war. Fabricius felt at this proposal, all the honest indignation that was consistent with his former character. He sent the traitor in chains to Pyrrhus, and, in an obliging letter acquainted him, “ That ce the Roman's abhorred all treacherous practices, and con« quered their enemies by the sword, not by the treason of « their subjects.”
Pyrrhus received the message with as much amazement ac his candour, as indignation at his physician's treachery. « Admirable Fabricius!” (cried he)," it would be as easy to « turn the sun from its course, as thee from the paths of « honour.” Then making the proper enquiry amongst his servants, and having discovered the treason, he ordered his physician' to be executed. However, not to be outdone in magnanimity, he iminediately sent to Rome all his prisoners without ransom. The Romans, on their side, also returned an equal number of Tarentines and Samnites. This mutual act of kindness did not, however, bring on a peace. Pyrrhus in a future battle near Beneventum, was entirely defeated by the Roman army, with the loss of thirty-three thousand men. After this defeat, Pyrrhus retired to Épirus, and soon after died at Argos, a principal city of Peloponnesus.
The victory over Pyrrhus had introduced the Roman name into the world, and kindled an ambition for distant enterprize and foreign conqueft. Their own territory being insufficient for their subsistence, the Romans received supplies of corn from Sicily; and the people began to wish for the possession of a country which they regarded as the granary of Rome. The greatest part of Sicily was, at that time, possessed by the Carthaginians; a people whose annals form an imporatnt article in ancient history, and merit our attention the more, as they were the rivals of the Romans, and long contended with them for the empire of the world.
Carthage.me First Naval Engagement of the Romans.---First
THE Carthaginians were a colony from the Phænicians,
the first commercial people of antiquity. The infelicity of their soil, and their situation on the sea coast, induced them to have recourse to commerce and navigation; and they carried these arts to a high degree of perfection.
They first extended themselves along the south coast of the Mediterranean fea; and, at different times, occupied almost the whole of it, from the borders of Egypt to the Straits of Gibraltar. They planted many colonies in that country, before they founded their great establishment at Carthage. This, however, engrossed their chief attention, soon equalled, and at last surpassed the parent state.
Without contending for the commerce of the east with the parent state, they extended their navigation chiefly towards the west and north. They passed the straits of Gades, visited the coasts of Spain and of Gaul, and penetrated at last into Britain. They made settlements in many of the islands of the Mediterranean, especially in Sicily, Sardinia, and the Baleares. They made considerable progress by land into the interior provinces of Africa, and failed along the western coast of that great continent, almost to the tropic of Cancer. They discovered the Fortunate Islands, now known by the name of the Canaries, the utmost boundary of ancient navigation in the western ocean.
*They had risen to such prosperity at the beginning of the third Punic war, that Carthage contained 700,000 inhabitants. In Africa, they held three hundred cities under their jurisdiction; and they possessed a tract of sea coast near two thousand miles in length, extending from the Syrtis Major to the Pillars of Hercules.
The government of Carthage partook partly of the aristocratical, and partly of the democratical form.' Two annual magistrates, under the name of Suffetes, presided in the senate. All affairs of importance were transacted in this afsembly; but, if the senate were not unainmous, the decision devolved on the people.
As wars were carried on at a distance from Carthage, and the armies composed of foreign troops, the power of the genee Vol. I.
First Naval Engagement of the Romans. rals might become formidable. As a balance to this authority, the tribunal of the Hundred was instituted, before which the generals were to give an account of their conduct.
The Prætor at Carthage was invested with the greatest authority. He dispofed, in some cases, of the public revenue, and extended his jurisdiction over the tribunal of the hundred.
The Carthaginians had the virtues and vices of a commercial people. Together with the mercantile character, we mark the ñery temper of Africa, and trace the cruel spirit of their Tyrian ancestors.
Syracuse, besieged by the Carthaginians, implored the aid of Pyrrhus, who was then at war with the Romans. This gallant adventurer was at first successful; but, meeting at length with a virgorous resistance, he fet fail for Italy. As he embarked, turning his eyes back to Sicily, “What a noble " field of battle,” said he,' « do we leave to the Carthagi« nians and the Romans !”
The first war with Carthage lasted twenty-three years, and taught the Romans the art of fighting on the sea, with which they had been hitherto unacquainted. A Carthaginian vessel was wrecked on their coast. They used it for a model, and, in three months, built one hundred and twenty ships. Still, however, they wanted sailors. The Romans being bred up to husbandry were perfectly ignorant of maritime affairs; and the neighbouring states, whom they had lately conquered, were either unwilling to embark, or not to be relied on. In this exigence, they taught their men to row upon land; instructing them in the naval manner of engaging as well as they could, and leaving it to their native valour to do the reft.
The consul Duilius was the first who ventured to sea in this new constructed armament; but he soon found that the eneiny was every way fuperior in point of sailing, and bringing on vefleis to an engagement. The indefatigable spirit of the Roman, however, was not to be subdued. He found out a remedy for the improvement of his operations, by means of a certain instrument, which, upon an impulse of two ships, kept them both grappled together, so that neither could separate till the victory was decided. By this method, a naval engagement became more like one on land; so that when the two rival fleets met, the Romans had the victory, the Carthaginians lofing fifty of their ships, and the undisturbed sovereignty of the sea, which they valued more. These fuccefies were fo unexpected by the senate, that Duilius bheir admiral obtained a fignal triumph, with orders, that