Parthagica Directory 02

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Parthagica Directory 02

The cruelty of the Patrician creditors was the most pressing evil, and led to the first reform. In B.C. 494 the Plebeians, after a campaign against the Volscians, instead of returning to Rome, retired to the Sacred Mount, a hill about two miles from the city, near the junction of the Arno and the Tiber. Here they determined to settle and found a new town, leaving Rome to the Patricians and their clients. This event is known as the _Secession to the Sacred Mount_. The Patricians, alarmed, sent several of their number to persuade the Plebeians to return. Among the deputies was the aged Menenius Agrippa, who had great influence with the Plebeians. He related to them the celebrated fable of the Belly and the Members.

A volume might be filled with stories of the strange and exciting incidents that grew out of this pretended popish plot. Its consequences extended disastrously through many years, and involved a vast number of innocent persons in irretrievable ruin. The true character of Oates and his accomplices was, however, at length fully proved, and they themselves suffered the fate at last which they had brought upon others. The whole affair was a disgrace to the age. There is no circumstance connected with it which can be looked upon with any pleasure except King Charles's fidelity to his injured wife in refusing to abandon her, though he no longer loved her. His defense of her innocence, involving, as it did, a continuance of the matrimonial tie, which bound them together when all the world supposed that he wished it sundered, seems to have resulted from a conscientious sense of duty, and implies certain latent traits of generosity and nobleness in Charles's character, which, though ordinarily overpowered and nullified by the influences of folly and vice, still always seem to have maintained their hold, and to come out to view from time to time, in the course of the gay monarch's life, whenever any emergency occurred sufficient to call them into action.

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