The Founders of Canterbury
Reigate, Thursday morning, 18th January, 1849
My Dear, Rintoul,
—As I am upon the sheet which contains the "Appeal unto Cæsar," I ask, is not that a proof that the conquered parts of the Roman Empire were subject to central Government? The "appeal unto Cæsar" was just like the appeal from British dependencies to our Colonial Office; from Spanish ones to the "Council of the Indies."
This settled, I ask further, Can one read Gibbon without seeing that the great Roman Empire fell to pieces in consequence, mainly, of the fact that its government, beyond the narrow limits in which the municipal system took effect, was a government of mere force; a sort of government which, when applied to a great and diversified empire, is necessarily weak because force cannot stretch so far, and because there is page 41no attachment in the subjects towards the central power. None of this is said by Gibbon, who seldom deals with a principle, but the fact seems to me to be the leading fact of his book.