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modern than I he times of David. If we suppose Rome to be built by Romulus, A. M. 3256,' we must begin his reign almost three hundred years after the death of David, and the lives of men in these times being reduced to what has been esteemed the common standard ever since; it may perhaps be expected, that the reigns of these kings should not be longer, one with another, than the reigns of our kings of England, from William the Conqueror; or of the kings of France, from Pharamond; or of any other series of kings mentioned by our illustrious author. But here I would observe, that these seven kings of Rome were not descendants of one another; for Plutarch remarks, that not one of them left his crown to his son;' two of them, namely, Ancus Martius and Tarquinius Superbus, were, indeed, descendants from the sons of former kings; but the other five were of different families. The
successors of Romulus were elected to the crown, and the Roman people did not confine their choice even to their own country; but chose such as were most likely to promote the public good." It is evident, therefore, that the length of these kings' reigns should not be estimated according to the common measure of successive monarchs; for had these Roman kings been' very old men when advanced to the throne, their several reigns would have been very short. Now the reason why they are so much longer than we suppose they ought to be, may be, because, as the affairs 'of the infant state of Rome required that the city should be in the hands of the most able warriors, as well as skilful counsellors, so they chose to the crown none but persons in the prime of life; as well to have a king of sufficient ability to lead their armies, as that they might not have frequent vacancies of the throne to shake and unsettle the frame of their go
"See Dionys. Halicar. Antiq. Rom. Livii Hist, Flor. Hist.
vemment, which was not yet firmly enough compacted to bear too many state convulsions. Dionysius, of Harlicarnassus, has been very particular in informing us of the age of most of these kings; when they began to reign, how many years each of them reigned, and at what age most of them died.1 He supposes that the oldest man of them all did not live above eighty-three, for that was Numa's age when he died;y and he represents L. Tarquinius as quite worn out at eighty;* so that none of them are supposed to have lived to an extravagant term of life. But if, after what I have offered, it should be still thought that theirreigns, one with another, are too long to be admitted, I might remark farther, that there were interregna between the reigns of several of them. There was an interregnum between Romulus and Numa;* another between Numa and Tullus Hostillius;b another between T. Hostilius and
Ancus Martius;' another between A. Martius and L. Tarquinius. * Each of these interregna might, perhaps, take up some years. The historians allot no space of time to these interregna; but we know it is no unusual thing for writers to begin the reign of asucceeding king from the death of his predecessor; though he did not immediately succeed to his crown. Numa was not elected king, until the people found by experience, that the interregal government was full of inconveniences, * and some years administration might make them sufficiently sensible of it. When Tullus Hostilius was called to the crown, the poorer citizens were in a state of want; which could no way be relieved but by electing some very wealthy person to be king, who could afford to divide the crown-lands among them/ Ancus Martius was made king, at a time when the Roman affairs were in a very bad state,
« Lib. S. c. 36. * Id. ibid. c. 46.
• Dionys. Halic. 1. 2. c. 57.
♦ Id. 1. 3. c. 1.
through the neglect of the public religion,
and of agriculture. • And L. Tarquinius was elected upon the necessity of the war with the Apiolani." Thus these kings appear not to be called to the crown until some public exigencies made it necessary to have a king. They seem to have succeeded one another, like the judges of Israel; the successor did not come to the crown immediately upon the demise of his predecessor \ but when a king died, the Interreges took the government, and administered the public affairs, until some crisis demanded a new king. If this was the fact, there can be no appearance of an objection against the length of the reigns of these kings; for the reigns of the kings were not really so long, but the reigns, and the intervening fnterrcgna, put together. Now the more I consider the state of the Roman affairs as represented by Dionysius, the more I am inclined to suspect that their kings succeeded in this manner. ,
• Id. I. 3. c. 36. "Id. ibid. c. 49.