Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

“Mamma,” said Philip, “ you will relate the well-known anecdote of her jewels, will you not?"

“I will, my dear. A Campanian lady, who had called upon Cornelia to display a splendid set of jewels, which the latter obliged her by admiring greatly, in return requested a sight of the jewels possessed by Cornelia. Cornelia did not give any particular answer, until her children returned from school, when leading them to the lady, ‘here, madam,' she exclaimed, are the only jewels I possess, and of which I am more proud than I should be of the most splendid set of diamonds.'”

“Ah, mamma! Cornelia was not the only mother who considered her children her most valuable jewels. We could name one now living, could we not, Philip, who gives up her own pleasures to amuse them, who sacrifices her own health to nurse them in sickness, who spends her money, and even her time,”

“ That these jewels may be highly polished and well set,” continued Philip warmly; "and I hope,” he added, “that they may not, like false gems, lose their brilliancy by time, but may always reflect lustre upon the hand which formed them into use and beauty.”

“I doubt not that they will, my children,” said Mrs. Stratton, “though they are not likely to be as brilliant as were the jewels of Cornelia. We shall, however, be satisfied if our English gems dispense their brightness in their little circle of home. At any rate, if they do not acquire the renown, they may be spared the sufferings of the Gracchi. As the efforts of these men are so differently represented by historians, I shall not dwell upon their history, but merely say, that through the exertions of Tiberius Gracchus, the law was restored, and he lost his life in supporting it."

“But how can there be a difference of opinion, mamma ? the senate had agreed to the law, and surely no one could be wrong in supporting a law until it be proved a bad one.”

“Your reasoning seems just, Anne, but it is nevertheless true, that in some histories you will find the conduct of the Gracchi called sedition; in others it is spoken of as great patriotism. What their real motives were we cannot now discover. They both practised every virtue, and possessed great talents. Tiberius, the eldest, is said to have been too fond of power, but on which ever side we examine the conduct of the younger brother, Caius Gracchus, we seer

have difficulty in finding any thing to blame. The fame of his good qualities had spread so far, that the king of Numidia, in sending a present of coin to the Romans, declared it was a tribute to the virtues of Caius Gracchus. Numberless were the public works performed by his exertions; but, as he rose in the opinion of the people, for whose good he seemed to exist, he fell in that of the senate, and open war was declared between them. Gracchus fell in the conflict; some say he, finding all hopes of safety over, persuaded his slave to kill him, which, being done, he would not survive his master. By others it is bel.eved, that he was destroyed, together with his slave, who had so strictly embraced his master, that his enemies' swords could only reach his body through that of bis faithful follower.“ Poor Cornelia, mamma,

sad must she have felt from the excessive brightness of her jewels. Do you

know

any thing more about her.” It is said, Anne, that she assisted her sons in their endeavours for the public good, and that after they had lost their lives, she spoke of them and their actions with calm admiration. A statue was erected to her, with this inscription : Cornelia, the Mother of the Gracchi. During

these dissensions, the Roman arms were successful abroad. The Balearic Isles were subdued.”

“Majorca and Minorca you mean, mamma.”

“Yes, my love, the group of islands of which they form part; the country of the Allobroges, now Savoy, Gallia Narbonensis, which now forms part of France, and several other nations were subdued. Jugurtha, king of Numidia, was also conquered. This prince had been brought up by his uncle, a king of that country, who, dying, left two sons. Jugurtha murdered the eldest, but the second escaped to Rome, and entreated the protection of the senate. Jugurtha, knowing the present character of the Romans, immediately sent ambassadors, with large presents, to be distributed amongst the senators. It was soon after determined that Jugurtha should keep one half of the kingdom, and give up the other to his cousin Adherbal, who, however, soon fell into the power of Jugurtha, and, like, his unfortunate brother, was murdered. The Roman people complained of this treachery, but the senate, who had been bribed to silence, were long in taking any active steps for punishing it. At last the consul was sent against Jugurtha ; but he also was bribed into making terms fo

the sea, but notwithstanding their efforts, the army was subdued, and the citadel yielded. The temple alone remained, defended by a few, who, at last, with desperate fury set fire to it and perished in the flames. So large, we are told, was this magnificent city, that it was twentyfour miles round, and the burning continued seventeen days. The senate ordered that it should not be rebuilt; this was not strictly attended to, yet at the present day it is hardly known where Carthage stood. Such was the end of the third and last Punic War. In the same year, and upon a trifling pretence, Corinth, one of the finest cities in Greece, was also taken and destroyed by the Romans, and Spain was subdued. So great was the terror they excited, that the Numantians when besieged, in order to escape falling into their hands, set fire to their city and perished in the flames.

« PreviousContinue »