CHAPTER X. INTERNAL CONDITION OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE.
Historians generally have regarded the revolution, which changed the republic to a monarchy, as salutary in its influences for several generations. The empire was never so splendid as under the Caesars. The energies of the people were directed into peaceful and industrial channels. A new public policy was inaugurated by Augustus - to preserve rather than extend the limits of the empire. The world enjoyed peace, and the rich consoled themselves with riches. Society was established upon a new basis, and was no longer rent by factions and parties. Demagogues no longer disturbed the public peace, nor were the provinces ransacked and devastated to provide for the means of carrying on war. So long as men did not oppose the government they were safe from molestation, and were left to pursue their business and pleasure in their own way. Wealth rapidly increased, and all mechanical arts, and all elegant pleasures. Temples became more magnificent, and the city was changed from brick to marble. Palaces arose upon the hills, and shops were erected in the valleys. There were fewer riots and mobs and public disturbances. Public amusements were systematized and enlarged, and the people indulged with sports, spectacles, and luxuries. Rome became a still greater centre of wealth and art as well as of political power. The city increased in population and beautiful structures. The emperors were great patrons of every thing calculated to dazzle the eyes of their subjects, whether amusements, or palaces, or baths, or aqueducts, or triumphal monuments. Artists and scholars flocked to the great emporium, as well as merchants and foreign princes. Nor was imperial cruelty often visited on the humble classes. It was the policy of the emperors to amuse and flatter the people, while they deprived them of political rights. But social life was free. All were at liberty to seek their pleasures and gains. All were proud of their metropolis, with its gilded glories and its fascinating pleasures. The city was probably supplied with better water, and could rely with more certainty on the necessaries of life, than under the old regime. The people had better baths, and larger houses, and cheaper corn. The government, for a time, was splendidly administered, even by tyrants. Outrages, extortions, and disturbances were punished. Order reigned, and tranquillity, and outward and technical justice. All classes felt secure. They could sleep without fear of robbery or assassination. And all trades flourished. Art was patronized magnificently, and every opportunity was offered for making and for spending fortunes. In short, all the arguments which can be adduced in favor of despotism in contrast with civil war and violence, and the strife of factions and general insecurity of life and property, can be urged to show that the change, if inevitable, was beneficial in its immediate effects.
[Despotism of the emperors.]
[Tyranny of the emperors.]