The Government of the Roman Provinces
SUCH was the distribution of the 3 powers in Rome. But they were far from being thus distributed in the provinces. Liberty prevailed in the center, and tyranny in the extreme parts.
When Rome extended her dominions no far ther than Italy, the people were governed as confederates. The laws of each republic were preserved.
But, when she enlarged her conquests, and the senate had no longer an immediate inspection over the provinces, nor the m agistrates residing at Rome were any longer capable of governing the empire , they were obliged to send praetors and proconsuls.
Then it was that t he harmony of the three powers was lost. The persons appointed to that offi ce were intrusted with a power which comprehended that of all the Roman mag istracies; nay, even that of the people. They were despotic magistrates, extremely well ada pted to the distance of the places to which they were destined. They exercised the three powers; and were, if I may presume to use the expression, the bashaws of the republic.
We have elsewhere observed, that, in a commonwealth, the same magistrate ought to be possessed of the executive pow er, as well civil as military. Hence a conquering republic can hardly commu nicate her government, and rule the conquered state according to her own co nstitution. And, indeed, as the magistrate she sends to govern is invested with the executive power, both civil and military, he must also have the le gislative= for who is it that could make laws without him? It is necessary, therefore, that the governor she sends be intrusted with the three power s, as was practised in the Roman provinces.
It is more easy for a monarchy to commun icate its government, because the officers it sends have, some the civil, a nd others the military, executive power; which does not necessarily imply a despotic authority.
It was a privilege of the utmost consequ ence to a Roman citizen to have none but the people for his judges. Were it not for this, he would have been subject, in the provinces, to the arbitra ry power of a proconsul or of a proprC3A6tor. The city never felt the tyr anny, which was exercised only on conquered nations.
Thus, in the Roman world, as at Sparta, the freemen enjoyed the highest degree of liberty, while those who were sla ves laboured under the extremity of servitude.
While the citizens paid taxes they were raised with great justice and equality. The regulation of Servius Tullus wa s observed, who had distributed the people into six classes, according to t heir difference of property, and fixed the several shares of the public imp osts in proportion to that which each person had in the government. Hence t hey bore with the greatness of the tax, because of their proportionable gre atness of credit; and consoled themselves for the smallness of their credit , because of the smallness of the tax.
There was also another thing worthy of a dmiration, which is, that, as Servius TullusE28099s division into classe s was in some measure the fundamental principle of the constitution, it the nce followed that an equal levying of the taxes was so connected with this fundamental principle, that the one could not be abolished without the other.
But, while the city paid the taxes as sh e pleased, or paid none at all*, the provinces were plundered by the knights, who were the farmer s of the public revenue. We have already made mention of their oppressive e xtortions, with which all history abounds.
Mithridates says that all Asia expects me as her deliverer. so great is the hatred which the rapaciousness of the proconsu lsE280A1, the consi scations made by the officers of the revenue, and the quirks and cavils of judicial proceedingsE288 A5, have excited against the Romans.E2809D
Hence, the strength of the provinces weakened the strength of the Republic. Hence it was that the provinces looked upon the loss of the liberty of Ro me as the epocha of their own freedom.