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clared that the birth of his child was well known to all his neighbours; and that, had he adopted an infant, he should have fixed upon a boy, as both he and his wife had been very desirous of having one. Every hearer was convinced that he spoke the truth ; but Appius, as judge, decided that Virginia was the property of Claudius, and commanded the lictors to drive away the people, that the master might seize his slave. Virginius perceived that all hopes of justice were lost, and, appearing to agree in the propriety of the sentence, only entreated to take a last farewell of the child he had so long loved as his own. To this Appius consented, upon condition that the interview should take place in his sight. Virginius now took his half-dying daughter in his arms, and for a while clasped her to his heart, and wiped away her tears; then suddenly snatching a knife from one of the butcher's shops by the side of the forum, and saying, 'my dear lost child, this only can preserve thy freedom;' he plunged it into her bosom, before any one had an idea of his purpose: then, holding up the bloody knife, he exclaimed, “ Appius, by this blood, I devote thy head to the infernal Gods!' and immediately mounted his horse, and rode to the
still holding the bloody knife in his hands, he told his sad story to the army. Asking pardon of the gods, and of his fellow citizens, for what he had been forced to do, he implored the latter, by the blood of his child, to unite with him, and save their country. The army shouted consent, and once more took their station upon Mount Aventine. Appius applied to the senate for assistance; but, far from giving it to him, they sent messengers to the army, offering to restore the ancient form of government. The army joyfully returned to their obedience, and were gladly received by the people at Rome. Appius and Oppius, not daring to trust to the issue of a trial, poisoned themselves in prison, and the remaining eight of the Decemviri went into voluntary exile. The infamous Claudius was also banished.”
Anne's attention had been so completely taken up with this sad story, that she allowed her mother to stop, without making a single remark, or even begging her to continue. She was at last roused by Philip exclaiming, “Well, Anne, what say you to Virginius? you know you are a famous censor.”
I suppose, brother, you mean that I like censuring people; but you do not, I hope, think me ill-natured.”
My dear Anne, you need not speak so earnestly; when mamma continues, you will soon discover the meaning of censor. I only meant to call you an examiner of characters, of dead characters; for, if living persons are spoken of, my dear little sister Anne is the last to censure. She has always an excuse ready for her careless brother, Philip, I am sure," he continued, looking fondly at her ; “ but, as you like to weigh the good and the bad of those characters you read of, Anne, I want to know your opinion of Virginius.”
“ Indeed, brother, I do not think it fair to examine it. We only know one of his actions, committed when he had neither power nor time to use his reason. I cannot judge him, I can only feel for him. And his poor daughter, condemned to be torn from her father and given up to a stranger. Mamma, what sort of a heart could Appius have had ?"
“ Indeed, my dear, I fear it was a bad one; but run and put your bonnet on for a walk.”
The following day, Anne, having completed her lessons, intreated her mother to go on, and Mrs. Stratton accordingly continued.
- The next remarkable event in Roman History was the exchange of consuls, for six officers, called military tribunes. Half of them were chosen from the Patricians, the other half from the Plebeians. This form of government did not last long. Consuls were again chosen, with an additional officer called a censor. He was to hold his office five years. His business was to examine the lives and conduct of the people, and to keep an account of their numbers. The government continued in this uncertain state for nearly forty years, changing from consuls to military tribunes and dictators,
till a new turn was given to public affairs, by the senate resolving to pay the soldiery; this, though it appeared a very good thing for the lower classes, in effect robbed them of more power than any thing that had happened before. The soldiers could no longer refuse to march where they were ordered, since they were paid for going.”
“ I see that, mamma; and I also see that a censor has not the disagreeable meaning attached to it, that I fancied it had.
“ Not properly, Anne; yet it is generally used in speaking of one who finds faults in others. The city of Veii was taken after a ten years' siege by Camillus, who undermined the town, and appeared in the midst of it with his soldiers, to the great astonishment of the Veians."
“ Undermining means digging a passage under ground, -does it not ?"
“ Yes, Anne," answered Philip; " and you may prepare to admire Camillus ; for, I think, you can hardly find a fault in him. Was not he both great and good, mamma?" “ Let Anne judge from his actions, my
dear boy. One of those for which he is most celebrated, happened at the siege of Falerii, which he had for some time besieged, without hopes