Such was the tenor of the orations delivered by scores of men to their comrades on the quays. A calm observer might have noticed a certain sameness about the speeches, and might have come to the conclusion that the orators had received their instructions from the same person, but this passed unnoticed by the sailors and workmen, who were soon roused into fury by the exhortations of the speakers. They knew nothing either of Hannibal or of Hanno, but they did know that they were ground down to the earth with taxation, and that the conquest of Spain and the trade that had arisen had been of enormous benefit to them. It was, then, enough to tell them that this trade was threatened, and that it was threatened in the interest of the tyrants of Carthage, for them to enter heart and soul into the cause.
During these four days the Barcine Club was like the headquarters of an army. Night and day the doors stood open, messengers came and went continually, consultations of the leading men of the city were held almost without a break. Every man belonging to it had his appointed task. The landed proprietors stirred up the cultivators of the soil, the manufacturers were charged with the enlightenment of their hands as to the dangers of the situation, the soldiers were busy among the troops; but theirs was a comparatively easy task, for these naturally sympathized with their comrades in Spain, and the name of the great Hamilcar was an object of veneration among them.
Hanno’s faction was not idle. The Syssite which was composed of his adherents was as large as its rival. Its orators harangued the people in the streets on the dangers caused to the republic by the ambition of the family of Barca, of the expense entailed by the military and naval establishments required to keep up the forces necessary to carry out their aggressive policy, of the folly of confiding the principal army of the state to the command of a mere youth. They dilated on the wealth and generosity of Hanno, of his lavish distribution of gifts among the poor, of his sympathy with the trading community. Each day the excitement rose, business was neglected, the whole population was in a fever of excitement.
On the evening of the fourth day the agents of the Barcine Club discovered that Hanno’s party were preparing for a public demonstration on the following evening. They had a certainty of a majority in the public vote, which, although nominally that of the people, was, as has been said, confined solely to what would now be called the middle class.
Hitherto the Barcine party had avoided fixing any period for their own demonstration, preferring to wait until they knew the intention of their opponents. The council now settled that it should take place on the following day at eleven o’clock, just when the working classes would have finished their morning meal.
The secret council, however, determined that no words should be whispered outside their own body until two hours before the time, in order that it should not be known to Hanno and his friends until too late to gather their adherents to oppose it. Private messengers were, however, sent out late to all the members to assemble early at the club.