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pulpit hath not been free from the m'śrepresentation of these inforıners.
IDEM. Sermon on False Witness.
A MAN who is capable of so infamous a calling as that of a spy, is not very much to be relied upon. He can have no great ties of honour, or checks of conscience, to restrain him in those coyert evidences, where the person accused has no opportunity of vindicating himself. He will be more industrious to carry that which is grateful, than that which is true. There will be no occasion for him, if he does not hear and see things worth discovery ; so that he naturally inflames every word and circumstance, aggravates what is faulty, perverts what is good, and misrepresents what is indifferent. Nor is it to be doubted but that such ignominious wretches let their private passions into these their clandestine informations, and often wreak their particular spite or malice against the person who they are set to watch. It is a pleasant scene enough, which an Italian author describes, between a spy and a cardinal who employed him. The spy begins with a low voice. Such an one whispered to one of his friends, within my hearing, that your eminence was a very great poltroon! and after having given his patrón time to take it down, adds, that another called himn a mercenary rascal in a public conversation. The cardinal replies, very well; and bids him go on. The spy proceeds, and loads him with reports of the same nature, till the cardinal rises in great
wrath, calls him an impudent scoundrel, and kicks him out of the room.
It is observed of great and heroic minds, that they have not only shewn a particular disregard to those unmerited reproaches which have been cast upon thein, but have been altogether free from that impertinent curiosity of inquiring after them, or the poor revenge of resenting them. The histories of Alexander and Cæsar are full of this kind of instances. 'Vulgar souls are of a quite contrary character. Dionysius, the tyrant of Syracuse, had a dungeon which was a very curious piece of architecture, and of which, as I am informed, there are still to be seen some remains in that island. It was called Dionysius's EAR, and built with sce veral little windings and labyrinths, in the forin of a real ear. The structure of it made it a kind of whispering place, but such aone as gathered the voice of him who spoke into a funnel, which was at the very top of it. The tyrant used to lodge all his state criminals, or those whom he supposed to be engaged together in any evil designis upon him, in this dungeon. He had at the same time an apartment over it, where he used to apply himself to the funnel, and by that means overhear every thing that was whispered in the dungeon. I believe one may venture to affirm, that a Cæsar or an Alexander would have rather died by the treason, than have used such disingenuous means. for the detection of it.
CORNUTUS (informed against by one of the spies of Tiberius] having put an end to his own lifebelieving as he did that prosecution was a prelude to destruction a motion was made in the senate, that whenever the person accused of high treason, prevented judgment by a voluntary death, the informers should be entitled to no reward. The fathers inclined to the opinion : but Tiberius, in plain terms, without his usual ambiguity, shewed himself the patron of the whole tribe of informers. « The course of justice,” he said, “ would be
stopt, by such a decision, and the common. “ wealth be brought to the brink of ruin, It "s were better to abrogate all laws at once, than to ““ remove the vigilance that gives them energy. Thus that pernicious crew, the bane and scourge . of society, who, in fact, have never been sufficiently restrained, were let loose, with the wages of iniquity in view, to harrass and destroy their fellow creatures.
In proportion as they rose in guilt, informers became sacred characters. If any were punished, it was only such as were mere novices in guilt, obscure and petty villains, who had no talents for mischief.
The (spies] held it necessary that the conversation of Sabinus should be heard by more than one. A place for this purpose, secure and solitary, was to be chosen. To listen behind doors, were to hazard a discovery; they might be seen, or overheard, or some trifling accident might give the alarm. The scene of action at length was fixed.
They chose the cavity between the roof of the house and the ceiling of the room. In that vile lurking hole, with an execrable design, three Rol man senators lay concealed, their ears applied to chinks and crannies, listening to conversation, and by fraud collecting evidence. To complete this plan of iniquity, Latiaris met Sabinus in the street; and under pretence of communicating secret intelligence, decoyed him to the house, and to the very room where the infamous eves-droppers lay in am: bush. There Latiaris entered into conversation; he recalled past grievances; he stated recent calamities, and opened a train of evils to come. Sabinus went over the same ground, more animated than before, and more in the detail. When griefs, which have been long pent up, once find a vent, men love to discharge the load that weighs upon the heart. From the materials thus collected, the [spies] drew up an accusation in form, and sent it to the emperor, with a memorial to their own disgrace and infamy, setting forth the whole of their conduct. Rome was never at any period so distracted with anxiety and terror. Men were afraid of knowing each other; society was at a pause ; relations, friends, and strangers, stood at gaze; no public meeting, no private confidence; things inanimate had ears, and roofs and walls were deemed informers.
Tiberiķis dispatched a letter to the senated Judgment of death was pronounced. Sabinus was seized, and dragged through the streets to immediate execution. Muffled in his robe, his voice almost stifled, he presented to the gazing mulci. tude a tragic spectacle. He cried out with what power of utterance he could, “ Behold the bloody “ opening of the year. With victims like myself
Sejanus [favourite of Tiberius]-must be glutted!” Wherever he looked, to whatever side he directed his voice, the people shrunk back dismayed, they fed, they disappeared; the public places and the forum were abandoned ; the streets became a desert. In their confusion some returned to the same spor, as if willing to behold the horridiscene, alarmed for themselves, and dreading the crime of appearing terrified.
IMMEDIATELY after the death of Drusus, (grandson of Tiberius) Tiberius ordered a daybook to be read before the fathers, in which the words and actions of this prince had been carefully recorded. In the annals of history is there any thing to match this black, this horrible inquisition? For a length of time spies of state had been appointed to keep a register of words, to interpret looks, and note the groans that issued from the heart.
A MERCENARY informer knows no discination. Under such a system, the obnoxious people are slaves, not only to the government, but they live at the mercy of every individual; they are at once