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The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 13, No. 78, April, 1864 - A Magazine of Literature, Art, and Politics
FIGHTING FACTS FOR FOGIES. THE WRECK OF RIVERMOUTH. THE SCHOOLMASTER'S STORY. PICTOR IGNOTUS. THE FIRST VISIT TO WASHINGTON. HOUSE AND HOME PAPERS. THE BLACK PREACHER. FOUQUET THE MAGNIFICENT. AMONG THE MORMONS. ON PICKET DUTY. OUR PROGRESSIVE INDEPENDENCE. REVIEWS AND LITERARY NOTICES. RECENT AMERICAN PUBLICATIONS Young people are often charged with caring little for the past. The charge is just; and the young are right. If they care little for the past, then it is certain that it is in debt to them,as for them the past cared nothing. It is wonderful, considering how children used to be treated, that the human race ever succeeded in getting established on earth. Humanity should have died out, there was so little that was humane in its bringing up. Because they had contrived to bring a helpless creature into a world that every one wishes he had never known at least twenty-four times a day, a father and mother of the very old school indeed assumed that they had the right to make that creature a slave, and to hold it in everlasting chains. They had much to say about the duty of children, and very little about the love of parents. The sacrificing of children to idols, a not uncommon practice in some renowned countries of antiquity, the highest-born children being the favorite victims,for Moloch's appetite was delicate,could never have taken place in any country where the voice of Nature was heeded; and yet those sacrifices were but so many proofs of the existence of a spirit of pride, which caused men to offer up their offspring on the domestic altar. Son and slave were almost the same word with the Romans; and your genuine old Roman made little ado about cutting off the head of one of his boys, perhaps for doing something of a praiseworthy nature. Old Junius Brutus was doubly favored by Fortune, for he was enabled to kill two of his sons in the name of Patriotism, and thereby to gain a reputation for virtue that endures to this day,though, after all, he was but the first of the brutes. The Romans kept up the paternal rule for many ages, and theoretically it long survived the Republic. It had existed in the Kingdom, and it was not unknown to the Empire. We have an anecdote that shows how strong was the supremacy of paterfamilias at the beginning of the eighth century, when Young Rome had already made more than one audacious display of contempt for the Conscript Fathers. When Pompeius was asked what he would do, if Csar should resist the requirements of the Senate, he answered,"What if my son should raise his stick against me?"meaning to imply, that, in his opinion, resistance from Csar was something too absurd to be thought of. Yet Csar did resist, and triumphed; and, judging from their after-lives, we should say that the Young Pompeys would have had small hesitation in raising their sticks against their august governor, had he proved too disobedient. A few years earlier, according to Sallust, a Roman, one Fulvius, had caused his son to be put to death, because he had sought to join Catiline. The old gentleman heard what his son was about, and when Young Hopeful was arrested and brought before him, he availed himself of his fatherly privilege, and had him strangled, or disposed of after some other of those charming fashions which were so common in the model republic of antiquity. "This imitation of the discipline of the ancient republic," says Merivale, "excited neither applause nor indignation among the languid voluptuaries of the Senate." They probably voted Fulvius a brute, but they no more thought of questioning the legality of his conduct than they did of imitating it. Law was one thing, opinion another. If he liked to play Lucius Junius, well and good; but they had no taste for the part. They felt much as we used to feel in Fugitive-Slave-Law times: we did not question the law, but we would have nothing to do with its execution. ......Buy Now (To Read More)
Ebook Number: 15880
Release Date: May 23, 2005
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