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Title: History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire — Volume 3
Author: Gibbon, Edward, 1737-1794
Language: English
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HISTORY OF THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE

Edward Gibbon, Esq.

With notes by the Rev. H. H. Milman

Vol. 3

1782 (Written), 1845 (Revised)



Chapter XXVII: Civil Wars, Reign Of Theodosius.--Part I.

     Death Of Gratian.--Ruin Of Arianism.--St. Ambrose.--
     First Civil War, Against Maximus.--Character,
     Administration, And Penance Of Theodosius.--Death Of
     Valentinian II.--Second Civil War, Against Eugenius.--
     Death Of Theodosius.

The fame of Gratian, before he had accomplished the twentieth year of
his age, was equal to that of the most celebrated princes. His gentle
and amiable disposition endeared him to his private friends, the
graceful affability of his manners engaged the affection of the people:
the men of letters, who enjoyed the liberality, acknowledged the taste
and eloquence, of their sovereign; his valor and dexterity in arms were
equally applauded by the soldiers; and the clergy considered the humble
piety of Gratian as the first and most useful of his virtues. The
victory of Colmar had delivered the West from a formidable invasion; and
the grateful provinces of the East ascribed the merits of Theodosius to
the author of his greatness, and of the public safety. Gratian survived
those memorable events only four or five years; but he survived his
reputation; and, before he fell a victim to rebellion, he had lost, in a
great measure, the respect and confidence of the Roman world.

The remarkable alteration of his character or conduct may not be imputed
to the arts of flattery, which had besieged the son of Valentinian from
his infancy; nor to the headstrong passions which the that gentle youth
appears to have escaped. A more attentive view of the life of Gratian
may perhaps suggest the true cause of the disappointment of the public
hopes. His apparent virtues, instead of being the hardy productions of
experience and adversity, were the premature and artificial fruits of
a royal education. The anxious tenderness of his father was continually
employed to bestow on him those advantages, which he might perhaps
esteem the more highly, as he himself had been deprived of them; and the
most skilful masters of every science, and of every art, had labored
to form the mind and body of the young prince. The knowledge which they
painfully communicated was displayed with ostentation, and celebrated
with lavish praise. His soft and tractable disposition received the fair
impression of their judicious precepts, and the absence of passion might
easily be mistaken for the strength of reason. His preceptors gradually
rose to the rank and consequence of ministers of state: and, as
they wisely dissembled their secret authority, he seemed to act with
firmness, with propriety, and with judgment, on the most important
occasions of his life and reign. But the influence of this elaborate
instruction did not penetrate beyond the surface; and the skilful
preceptors, who so accurately guided the steps of their royal pupil,
could not infuse into his feeble and indolent character the vigorous and
independent principle of action which renders the laborious pursuit
of glory essentially necessary to the happiness, and almost to the
existence, of the hero. As soon as time and accident had removed those
faithful counsellors from the throne, the emperor of the West insensibly
descended to the level of his natural genius; abandoned the reins of
government to the ambitious hands which were stretched forwards to grasp
them; and amused his leisure with the most frivolous gratifications. A
public sale of favor and injustice was instituted, both in the court and
in the provinces, by the worthless delegates of his power, whose merit
it was made _sacrilege_ to question. The conscience of the credulous
prince was directed by saints and bishops; who procured an Imperial
edict to punish, as a capital offence, the violation, the neglect, or
even the ignorance, of the divine law. Among the various arts which had
exercised the youth of Gratian, he had applied himself, with singular
inclination and success, to manage the horse, to draw the bow, and to
dart the javelin; and these qualifications, which might be useful to a
soldier, were prostituted to the viler purposes of hunting. Large parks
were enclosed for the Imperial pleasures, and plentifully stocked with
every species of wild beasts; and Gratian neglected the duties, and even
the dignity, of his rank, to consume whole days in the vain display of
his dexterity and boldness in the chase. The pride and wish of the
Roman emperor to excel in an art, in which he might be surpassed by the
meanest of his slaves, reminded the numerous spectators of the examples
of Nero and Commodus, but the chaste and temperate Gratian was a
stranger to their monstrous vices; and his hands were stained only
with the blood of animals. The behavior of Gratian, which degraded his
character in the eyes of mankind, could not have disturbed the security
of his reign, if the army had not been provoked to resent their peculiar
injuries. As long as the young emperor was guided by the instructions of
his masters, he professed himself the friend and pupil of the soldiers;
many of his hours were spent in the familiar conversation of the camp;
and the health, the comforts, the rewards, the honors, of his faithful
troops, appeared to be the objects of his attentive concern. But,
after Gratian more freely indulged his prevailing taste for hunting
and shooting, he naturally connected himself with the most dexterous
ministers of his favorite amusement. A body of the Alani was received
into the military and domestic service of the palace; and the admirable
skill, which they were accustomed to display in the unbounded plains
of Scythia, was exercised, on a more narrow theatre, in the parks and
enclosures of Gaul. Gratian admired the talents and customs of these
favorite guards, to whom alone he intrusted the defence of his person;
and, as if he meant to insult the public opinion, he frequently showed
himself to the soldiers and people, with the dress and arms, the long
bow, the sounding quiver, and the fur garments of a Scythian warrior.
The unworthy spectacle of a Roman prince, who had renounced the dress
and manners of his country, filled the minds of the legions with grief
and indignation. Even the Germans, so strong and formidable in the
armies of the empire, affected to disdain the strange and horrid
appearance of the savages of the North, who, in the space of a few
years, had wandered from the banks of the Volga to those of the Seine. A
loud and licentious murmur was echoed through the camps and garrisons of
the West; and as the mild indolence of Gratian neglected to extinguish
the first symptoms of discontent, the want of love and respect was not
supplied by the influence of fear. But the subversion of an established
government is always a work of some real, and of much apparent,
difficulty; and the throne of Gratian was protected by the sanctions of
custom, law, religion, and the nice balance of the civil and military
powers, which had been established by the policy of Constantine. It is
not very important to inquire from what cause the revolt of Britain
was produced. Accident is commonly the parent of disorder; the seeds
of rebellion happened to fall on a soil which was supposed to be more
fruitful than any other in tyrants and usurpers; the legions of that
sequestered island had been long famous for a spirit of presumption and
arrogance; and the name of Maximus was proclaimed, by the tumultuary,
but unanimous voice, both of the soldiers and of the provincials.
The emperor, or the rebel,--for this title was not yet ascertained by
fortune,--was a native of Spain, the countryman, the fellow-soldier,
and the rival of Theodosius whose elevation he had not seen without some
emotions of envy and resentment: the events of his life had long
since fixed him in Britain; and I should not be unwilling to find some
evidence for the marriage, which he is said to have contracted with the
daughter of a wealthy lord of Caernarvonshire. But this provincial rank
might justly be considered as a state of exile and obscurity; and if
Maximus had obtained any civil or military office, he was not invested
with the authority either of governor or general. His abilities, and
even his integrity, are acknowledged by the partial writers of the age;
and the merit must indeed have been conspicuous that could extort such
a confession in favor of the vanquished enemy of Theodosius. The
discontent of Maximus might incline him to censure the conduct of his
sovereign, and to encourage, perhaps, without any views of ambition, the
murmurs of the troops. But in the midst of the tumult, he artfully, or
modestly, refused to ascend the throne; and some credit appears to have
been given to his own positive declaration, that he was compelled to
accept the dangerous present of the Imperial purple.

But there was danger likewise in refusing the empire; and from the
moment that Maximus had violated his allegiance to his lawful sovereign,
he could not hope to reign, or even to live, if he confined his moderate
ambition within the narrow limits of Britain. He boldly and wisely
resolved to prevent the designs of Gratian; the youth of the island
crowded to his standard, and he invaded Gaul with a fleet and
army, which were long afterwards remembered, as the emigration of a
considerable part of the British nation. The emperor, in his peaceful
residence of Paris, was alarmed by their hostile approach; and the darts
which he idly wasted on lions and bears, might have been employed more
honorably against the rebels. But his feeble efforts announced his
degenerate spirit and desperate situation; and deprived him of the
resources, which he still might have found, in the support of his
subjects and allies. The armies of Gaul, instead of opposing the march
of Maximus, received him with joyful and loyal acclamations; and the
shame of the desertion was transferred from the people to the prince.
The troops, whose station more immediately attached them to the service
of the palace, abandoned the standard of Gratian the first time that it
was displayed in the neighborhood of Paris. The emperor of the West fled
towards Lyons, with a train of only three hundred horse; and, in the
cities along the road, where he hoped to find refuge, or at least a
passage, he was taught, by cruel experience, that every gate is shut
against the unfortunate. Yet he might still have reached, in safety,
the dominions of his brother; and soon have returned with the forces
of Italy and the East; if he had not suffered himself to be fatally
deceived by the perfidious governor of the Lyonnese province. Gratian
was amused by protestations of doubtful fidelity, and the hopes of a
support, which could not be effectual; till the arrival of Andragathius,
the general of the cavalry of Maximus, put an end to his suspense. That
resolute officer executed, without remorse, the orders or the intention
of the usurper. Gratian, as he rose from supper, was delivered into the
hands of the assassin: and his body was denied to the pious and pressing
entreaties of his brother Valentinian. The death of the emperor was
followed by that of his powerful general Mellobaudes, the king of the
Franks; who maintained, to the last moment of his life, the ambiguous
reputation, which is the just recompense of obscure and subtle policy.
These executions might be necessary to the public safety: but the
successful usurper, whose power was acknowledged by all the provinces of
the West, had the merit, and the satisfaction, of boasting, that, except
those who had perished by the chance of war, his triumph was not stained
by the blood of the Romans.

The events of this revolution had passed in such rapid succession, that
it would have been impossible for Theodosius to march to the relief of
his benefactor, before he received the intelligence of his defeat and
death. During the season of sincere grief, or ostentatious mourning,
the Eastern emperor was interrupted by the arrival of the principal
chamberlain of Maximus; and the choice of a venerable old man, for an
office which was usually exercised by eunuchs, announced to the court
of Constantinople the gravity and temperance of the British usurper.
The ambassador condescended to justify, or excuse, the conduct of his
master; and to protest, in specious language, that the murder of
Gratian had been perpetrated, without his knowledge or consent, by the
precipitate zeal of the soldiers. But he proceeded, in a firm and equal
tone, to offer Theodosius the alternative of peace, or war. The speech
of the ambassador concluded with a spirited declaration, that although
Maximus, as a Roman, and as the father of his people, would choose
rather to employ his forces in the common defence of the republic,
he was armed and prepared, if his friendship should be rejected, to
dispute, in a field of battle, the empire of the world. An immediate
and peremptory answer was required; but it was extremely difficult for
Theodosius to satisfy, on this important occasion, either the feelings
of his own mind, or the expectations of the public. The imperious voice
of honor and gratitude called aloud for revenge. From the liberality
of Gratian, he had received the Imperial diadem; his patience would
encourage the odious suspicion, that he was more deeply sensible of
former injuries, than of recent obligations; and if he accepted the
friendship, he must seem to share the guilt, of the assassin. Even the
principles of justice, and the interest of society, would receive a
fatal blow from the impunity of Maximus; and the example of successful
usurpation would tend to dissolve the artificial fabric of government,
and once more to replunge the empire in the crimes and calamities of
the preceding age. But, as the sentiments of gratitude and honor
should invariably regulate the conduct of an individual, they may
be overbalanced in the mind of a sovereign, by the sense of superior
duties; and the maxims both of justice and humanity must permit the
escape of an atrocious criminal, if an innocent people would be involved
in the consequences of his punishment. The assassin of Gratian had
usurped, but he actually possessed, the most warlike provinces of the
empire: the East was exhausted by the misfortunes, and even by the
success, of the Gothic war; and it was seriously to be apprehended,
that, after the vital strength of the republic had been wasted in a
doubtful and destructive contest, the feeble conqueror would remain an
easy prey to the Barbarians of the North. These weighty considerations
engaged Theodosius to dissemble his resentment, and to accept the
alliance of the tyrant. But he stipulated, that Maximus should content
himself with the possession of the countries beyond the Alps. The
brother of Gratian was confirmed and secured in the sovereignty of
Italy, Africa, and the Western Illyricum; and some honorable conditions
were inserted in the treaty, to protect the memory, and the laws, of the
deceased emperor. According to the custom of the age, the images of
the three Imperial colleagues were exhibited to the veneration of the
people; nor should it be lightly supposed, that, in the moment of a
solemn reconciliation, Theodosius secretly cherished the intention of
perfidy and revenge.

The contempt of Gratian for the Roman soldiers had exposed him to the
fatal effects of their resentment. His profound veneration for the
Christian clergy was rewarded by the applause and gratitude of a
powerful order, which has claimed, in every age, the privilege of
dispensing honors, both on earth and in heaven. The orthodox bishops
bewailed his death, and their own irreparable loss; but they were soon
comforted by the discovery, that Gratian had committed the sceptre of
the East to the hands of a prince, whose humble faith and fervent zeal,
were supported by the spirit and abilities of a more vigorous character.
Among the benefactors of the church, the fame of Constantine has been
rivalled by the glory of Theodosius. If Constantine had the advantage
of erecting the standard of the cross, the emulation of his successor
assumed the merit of subduing the Arian heresy, and of abolishing the
worship of idols in the Roman world. Theodosius was the first of the
emperors baptized in the true faith of the Trinity. Although he was born
of a Christian family, the maxims, or at least the practice, of the
age, encouraged him to delay the ceremony of his initiation; till he
was admonished of the danger of delay, by the serious illness which
threatened his life, towards the end of the first year of his reign.
Before he again took the field against the Goths, he received the
sacrament of baptism from Acholius, the orthodox bishop of Thessalonica:
and, as the emperor ascended from the holy font, still glowing with
the warm feelings of regeneration, he dictated a solemn edict, which
proclaimed his own faith, and prescribed the religion of his subjects.
"It is our pleasure (such is the Imperial style) that all the nations,
which are governed by our clemency and moderation, should steadfastly
adhere to the religion which was taught by St. Peter to the Romans;
which faithful tradition has preserved; and which is now professed
by the pontiff Damasus, and by Peter, bishop of Alexandria, a man of
apostolic holiness. According to the discipline of the apostles, and the
doctrine of the gospel, let us believe the sole deity of the Father, the
Son, and the Holy Ghost; under an equal majesty, and a pious Trinity. We
authorize the followers of this doctrine to assume the title of Catholic
Christians; and as we judge, that all others are extravagant madmen, we
brand them with the infamous name of Heretics; and declare that their
conventicles shall no longer usurp the respectable appellation of
churches. Besides the condemnation of divine justice, they must expect
to suffer the severe penalties, which our authority, guided by heavenly
wisdom, shall think proper to inflict upon them." The faith of a soldier
is commonly the fruit of instruction, rather than of inquiry; but as
the emperor always fixed his eyes on the visible landmarks of orthodoxy,
which he had so prudently constituted, his religious opinions were never
affected by the specious texts, the subtle arguments, and the
ambiguous creeds of the Arian doctors. Once indeed he expressed a faint
inclination to converse with the eloquent and learned Eunomius, who
lived in retirement at a small distance from Constantinople. But
the dangerous interview was prevented by the prayers of the empress
Flaccilla, who trembled for the salvation of her husband; and the mind
of Theodosius was confirmed by a theological argument, adapted to the
rudest capacity. He had lately bestowed on his eldest son, Arcadius,
the name and honors of Augustus, and the two princes were seated on
a stately throne to receive the homage of their subjects. A bishop,
Amphilochius of Iconium, approached the throne, and after saluting, with
due reverence, the person of his sovereign, he accosted the royal youth
with the same familiar tenderness which he might have used towards a
plebeian child. Provoked by this insolent behavior, the monarch gave
orders, that the rustic priest should be instantly driven from his
presence. But while the guards were forcing him to the door, the
dexterous polemic had time to execute his design, by exclaiming, with a
loud voice, "Such is the treatment, O emperor! which the King of heaven
has prepared for those impious men, who affect to worship the Father,
but refuse to acknowledge the equal majesty of his divine Son."
Theodosius immediately embraced the bishop of Iconium, and never forgot
the important lesson, which he had received from this dramatic parable.



Chapter XXVII: Civil Wars, Reign Of Theodosius.--Part II.

Constantinople was the principal seat and fortress of Arianism; and, in
a long interval of forty years, the faith of the princes and prelates,
who reigned in the capital of the East, was rejected in the purer
schools of Rome and Alexandria. The archiepiscopal throne of Macedonius,
which had been polluted with so much Christian blood, was successively
filled by Eudoxus and Damophilus. Their diocese enjoyed a free
importation of vice and error from every province of the empire; the
eager pursuit of religious controversy afforded a new occupation to the
busy idleness of the metropolis; and we may credit the assertion of an
intelligent observer, who describes, with some pleasantry, the effects
of their loquacious zeal. "This city," says he, "is full of mechanics
and slaves, who are all of them profound theologians; and preach in
the shops, and in the streets. If you desire a man to change a piece of
silver, he informs you, wherein the Son differs from the Father; if you
ask the price of a loaf, you are told by way of reply, that the Son is
inferior to the Father; and if you inquire, whether the bath is ready,
the answer is, that the Son was made out of nothing." The heretics, of
various denominations, subsisted in peace under the protection of the
Arians of Constantinople; who endeavored to secure the attachment of
those obscure sectaries, while they abused, with unrelenting severity,
the victory which they had obtained over the followers of the council
of Nice. During the partial reigns of Constantius and Valens, the
feeble remnant of the Homoousians was deprived of the public and private
exercise of their religion; and it has been observed, in pathetic
language, that the scattered flock was left without a shepherd to wander
on the mountains, or to be devoured by rapacious wolves. But, as
their zeal, instead of being subdued, derived strength and vigor from
oppression, they seized the first moments of imperfect freedom, which
they had acquired by the death of Valens, to form themselves into a
regular congregation, under the conduct of an episcopal pastor. Two
natives of Cappadocia, Basil, and Gregory Nazianzen, were distinguished
above all their contemporaries, by the rare union of profane eloquence
and of orthodox piety. These orators, who might sometimes be compared,
by themselves, and by the public, to the most celebrated of the ancient
Greeks, were united by the ties of the strictest friendship. They had
cultivated, with equal ardor, the same liberal studies in the schools of
Athens; they had retired, with equal devotion, to the same solitude in
the deserts of Pontus; and every spark of emulation, or envy, appeared
to be totally extinguished in the holy and ingenuous breasts of Gregory
and Basil. But the exaltation of Basil, from a private life to the
archiepiscopal throne of Cæsarea, discovered to the world, and perhaps
to himself, the pride of his character; and the first favor which he
condescended to bestow on his friend, was received, and perhaps was
intended, as a cruel insult. Instead of employing the superior talents
of Gregory in some useful and conspicuous station, the haughty prelate
selected, among the fifty bishoprics of his extensive province, the
wretched village of Sasima, without water, without verdure, without
society, situate at the junction of three highways, and frequented
only by the incessant passage of rude and clamorous wagoners. Gregory
submitted with reluctance to this humiliating exile; he was ordained
bishop of Sasima; but he solemnly protests, that he never consummated
his spiritual marriage with this disgusting bride. He afterwards
consented to undertake the government of his native church of Nazianzus,
of which his father had been bishop above five-and-forty years. But as
he was still conscious that he deserved another audience, and another
theatre, he accepted, with no unworthy ambition, the honorable
invitation, which was addressed to him from the orthodox party of
Constantinople. On his arrival in the capital, Gregory was entertained
in the house of a pious and charitable kinsman; the most spacious
room was consecrated to the uses of religious worship; and the name of
_Anastasia_ was chosen to express the resurrection of the Nicene faith.
This private conventicle was afterwards converted into a magnificent
church; and the credulity of the succeeding age was prepared to believe
the miracles and visions, which attested the presence, or at least the
protection, of the Mother of God. The pulpit of the Anastasia was the
scene of the labors and triumphs of Gregory Nazianzen; and, in the
space of two years, he experienced all the spiritual adventures which
constitute the prosperous or adverse fortunes of a missionary. The
Arians, who were provoked by the boldness of his enterprise, represented
his doctrine, as if he had preached three distinct and equal Deities;
and the devout populace was excited to suppress, by violence and tumult,
the irregular assemblies of the Athanasian heretics. From the cathedral
of St. Sophia there issued a motley crowd "of common beggars, who had
forfeited their claim to pity; of monks, who had the appearance of goats
or satyrs; and of women, more terrible than so many Jezebels." The doors
of the Anastasia were broke open; much mischief was perpetrated, or
attempted, with sticks, stones, and firebrands; and as a man lost his
life in the affray, Gregory, who was summoned the next morning before
the magistrate, had the satisfaction of supposing, that he publicly
confessed the name of Christ. After he was delivered from the fear
and danger of a foreign enemy, his infant church was disgraced and
distracted by intestine faction. A stranger who assumed the name of
Maximus, and the cloak of a Cynic philosopher, insinuated himself into
the confidence of Gregory; deceived and abused his favorable opinion;
and forming a secret connection with some bishops of Egypt, attempted,
by a clandestine ordination, to supplant his patron in the episcopal
seat of Constantinople. These mortifications might sometimes tempt the
Cappadocian missionary to regret his obscure solitude. But his fatigues
were rewarded by the daily increase of his fame and his congregation;
and he enjoyed the pleasure of observing, that the greater part of his
numerous audience retired from his sermons satisfied with the eloquence
of the preacher, or dissatisfied with the manifold imperfections of
their faith and practice.

The Catholics of Constantinople were animated with joyful confidence
by the baptism and edict of Theodosius; and they impatiently waited the
effects of his gracious promise. Their hopes were speedily accomplished;
and the emperor, as soon as he had finished the operations of the
campaign, made his public entry into the capital at the head of a
victorious army. The next day after his arrival, he summoned Damophilus
to his presence, and offered that Arian prelate the hard alternative of
subscribing the Nicene creed, or of instantly resigning, to the orthodox
believers, the use and possession of the episcopal palace, the cathedral
of St. Sophia, and all the churches of Constantinople. The zeal of
Damophilus, which in a Catholic saint would have been justly applauded,
embraced, without hesitation, a life of poverty and exile, and his
removal was immediately followed by the purification of the Imperial
city. The Arians might complain, with some appearance of justice, that
an inconsiderable congregation of sectaries should usurp the hundred
churches, which they were insufficient to fill; whilst the far greater
part of the people was cruelly excluded from every place of religious
worship. Theodosius was still inexorable; but as the angels who
protected the Catholic cause were only visible to the eyes of faith, he
prudently reënforced those heavenly legions with the more effectual
aid of temporal and carnal weapons; and the church of St. Sophia was
occupied by a large body of the Imperial guards. If the mind of Gregory
was susceptible of pride, he must have felt a very lively satisfaction,
when the emperor conducted him through the streets in solemn triumph;
and, with his own hand, respectfully placed him on the archiepiscopal
throne of Constantinople. But the saint (who had not subdued the
imperfections of human virtue) was deeply affected by the mortifying
consideration, that his entrance into the fold was that of a wolf,
rather than of a shepherd; that the glittering arms which surrounded his
person, were necessary for his safety; and that he alone was the object
of the imprecations of a great party, whom, as men and citizens, it was
impossible for him to despise. He beheld the innumerable multitude of
either sex, and of every age, who crowded the streets, the windows, and
the roofs of the houses; he heard the tumultuous voice of rage, grief,
astonishment, and despair; and Gregory fairly confesses, that on the
memorable day of his installation, the capital of the East wore the
appearance of a city taken by storm, and in the hands of a Barbarian
conqueror. About six weeks afterwards, Theodosius declared his
resolution of expelling from all the churches of his dominions the
bishops and their clergy who should obstinately refuse to believe, or at
least to profess, the doctrine of the council of Nice. His lieutenant,
Sapor, was armed with the ample powers of a general law, a special
commission, and a military force; and this ecclesiastical revolution was
conducted with so much discretion and vigor, that the religion of
the emperor was established, without tumult or bloodshed, in all the
provinces of the East. The writings of the Arians, if they had been
permitted to exist, would perhaps contain the lamentable story of the
persecution, which afflicted the church under the reign of the impious
Theodosius; and the sufferings of _their_ holy confessors might claim
the pity of the disinterested reader. Yet there is reason to imagine,
that the violence of zeal and revenge was, in some measure, eluded
by the want of resistance; and that, in their adversity, the Arians
displayed much less firmness than had been exerted by the orthodox party
under the reigns of Constantius and Valens. The moral character and
conduct of the hostile sects appear to have been governed by the
same common principles of nature and religion: but a very material
circumstance may be discovered, which tended to distinguish the degrees
of their theological faith. Both parties, in the schools, as well as in
the temples, acknowledged and worshipped the divine majesty of Christ;
and, as we are always prone to impute our own sentiments and passions to
the Deity, it would be deemed more prudent and respectful to exaggerate,
than to circumscribe, the adorable perfections of the Son of God. The
disciple of Athanasius exulted in the proud confidence, that he had
entitled himself to the divine favor; while the follower of Arius must
have been tormented by the secret apprehension, that he was guilty,
perhaps, of an unpardonable offence, by the scanty praise, and
parsimonious honors, which he bestowed on the Judge of the World. The
opinions of Arianism might satisfy a cold and speculative mind: but the
doctrine of the Nicene creed, most powerfully recommended by the merits
of faith and devotion, was much better adapted to become popular and
successful in a believing age.

The hope, that truth and wisdom would be found in the assemblies of the
orthodox clergy, induced the emperor to convene, at Constantinople,
a synod of one hundred and fifty bishops, who proceeded, without much
difficulty or delay, to complete the theological system which had been
established in the council of Nice. The vehement disputes of the fourth
century had been chiefly employed on the nature of the Son of God; and
the various opinions which were embraced, concerning the _Second_, were
extended and transferred, by a natural analogy, to the _Third_ person
of the Trinity. Yet it was found, or it was thought, necessary, by the
victorious adversaries of Arianism, to explain the ambiguous language of
some respectable doctors; to confirm the faith of the Catholics; and to
condemn an unpopular and inconsistent sect of Macedonians; who freely
admitted that the Son was consubstantial to the Father, while they were
fearful of seeming to acknowledge the existence of _Three_ Gods. A final
and unanimous sentence was pronounced to ratify the equal Deity of
the Holy Ghost: the mysterious doctrine has been received by all the
nations, and all the churches of the Christian world; and their grateful
reverence has assigned to the bishops of Theodosius the second rank
among the general councils. Their knowledge of religious truth may
have been preserved by tradition, or it may have been communicated
by inspiration; but the sober evidence of history will not allow much
weight to the personal authority of the Fathers of Constantinople. In an
age when the ecclesiastics had scandalously degenerated from the model
of apostolic purity, the most worthless and corrupt were always the most
eager to frequent, and disturb, the episcopal assemblies. The conflict
and fermentation of so many opposite interests and tempers inflamed the
passions of the bishops: and their ruling passions were, the love
of gold, and the love of dispute. Many of the same prelates who now
applauded the orthodox piety of Theodosius, had repeatedly changed,
with prudent flexibility, their creeds and opinions; and in the various
revolutions of the church and state, the religion of their sovereign
was the rule of their obsequious faith. When the emperor suspended his
prevailing influence, the turbulent synod was blindly impelled by the
absurd or selfish motives of pride, hatred, or resentment. The death of
Meletius, which happened at the council of Constantinople, presented
the most favorable opportunity of terminating the schism of Antioch,
by suffering his aged rival, Paulinus, peaceably to end his days in the
episcopal chair. The faith and virtues of Paulinus were unblemished. But
his cause was supported by the Western churches; and the bishops of
the synod resolved to perpetuate the mischiefs of discord, by the hasty
ordination of a perjured candidate, rather than to betray the imagined
dignity of the East, which had been illustrated by the birth and death
of the Son of God. Such unjust and disorderly proceedings forced the
gravest members of the assembly to dissent and to secede; and the
clamorous majority which remained masters of the field of battle, could
be compared only to wasps or magpies, to a flight of cranes, or to a
flock of geese.

A suspicion may possibly arise, that so unfavorable a picture of
ecclesiastical synods has been drawn by the partial hand of some
obstinate heretic, or some malicious infidel. But the name of the
sincere historian who has conveyed this instructive lesson to
the knowledge of posterity, must silence the impotent murmurs of
superstition and bigotry. He was one of the most pious and eloquent
bishops of the age; a saint, and a doctor of the church; the scourge of
Arianism, and the pillar of the orthodox faith; a distinguished member
of the council of Constantinople, in which, after the death of Meletius,
he exercised the functions of president; in a word--Gregory Nazianzen
himself. The harsh and ungenerous treatment which he experienced,
instead of derogating from the truth of his evidence, affords an
additional proof of the spirit which actuated the deliberations of the
synod. Their unanimous suffrage had confirmed the pretensions which the
bishop of Constantinople derived from the choice of the people, and the
approbation of the emperor. But Gregory soon became the victim of malice
and envy. The bishops of the East, his strenuous adherents, provoked
by his moderation in the affairs of Antioch, abandoned him, without
support, to the adverse faction of the Egyptians; who disputed the
validity of his election, and rigorously asserted the obsolete canon,
that prohibited the licentious practice of episcopal translations. The
pride, or the humility, of Gregory prompted him to decline a contest
which might have been imputed to ambition and avarice; and he publicly
offered, not without some mixture of indignation, to renounce the
government of a church which had been restored, and almost created,
by his labors. His resignation was accepted by the synod, and by the
emperor, with more readiness than he seems to have expected. At the
time when he might have hoped to enjoy the fruits of his victory,
his episcopal throne was filled by the senator Nectarius; and the new
archbishop, accidentally recommended by his easy temper and venerable
aspect, was obliged to delay the ceremony of his consecration, till
he had previously despatched the rites of his baptism. After this
remarkable experience of the ingratitude of princes and prelates,
Gregory retired once more to his obscure solitude of Cappadocia;
where he employed the remainder of his life, about eight years, in the
exercises of poetry and devotion. The title of Saint has been added
to his name: but the tenderness of his heart, and the elegance of
his genius, reflect a more pleasing lustre on the memory of Gregory
Nazianzen.

It was not enough that Theodosius had suppressed the insolent reign
of Arianism, or that he had abundantly revenged the injuries which
the Catholics sustained from the zeal of Constantius and Valens. The
orthodox emperor considered every heretic as a rebel against the supreme
powers of heaven and of earth; and each of those powers might exercise
their peculiar jurisdiction over the soul and body of the guilty.
The decrees of the council of Constantinople had ascertained the
true standard of the faith; and the ecclesiastics, who governed the
conscience of Theodosius, suggested the most effectual methods of
persecution. In the space of fifteen years, he promulgated at least
fifteen severe edicts against the heretics; more especially against
those who rejected the doctrine of the Trinity; and to deprive them of
every hope of escape, he sternly enacted, that if any laws or rescripts
should be alleged in their favor, the judges should consider them as the
illegal productions either of fraud or forgery. The penal statutes were
directed against the ministers, the assemblies, and the persons of
the heretics; and the passions of the legislator were expressed in the
language of declamation and invective. I. The heretical teachers, who
usurped the sacred titles of Bishops, or Presbyters, were not only
excluded from the privileges and emoluments so liberally granted to the
orthodox clergy, but they were exposed to the heavy penalties of
exile and confiscation, if they presumed to preach the doctrine, or to
practise the rites, of their _accursed_ sects. A fine of ten pounds of
gold (above four hundred pounds sterling) was imposed on every person
who should dare to confer, or receive, or promote, an heretical
ordination: and it was reasonably expected, that if the race of pastors
could be extinguished, their helpless flocks would be compelled, by
ignorance and hunger, to return within the pale of the Catholic church.
II. The rigorous prohibition of conventicles was carefully extended to
every possible circumstance, in which the heretics could assemble with
the intention of worshipping God and Christ according to the dictates of
their conscience. Their religious meetings, whether public or secret, by
day or by night, in cities or in the country, were equally proscribed
by the edicts of Theodosius; and the building, or ground, which had been
used for that illegal purpose, was forfeited to the Imperial domain.
III. It was supposed, that the error of the heretics could proceed only
from the obstinate temper of their minds; and that such a temper was a
fit object of censure and punishment. The anathemas of the church were
fortified by a sort of civil excommunication; which separated them
from their fellow-citizens, by a peculiar brand of infamy; and this
declaration of the supreme magistrate tended to justify, or at least to
excuse, the insults of a fanatic populace. The sectaries were gradually
disqualified from the possession of honorable or lucrative employments;
and Theodosius was satisfied with his own justice, when he decreed,
that, as the Eunomians distinguished the nature of the Son from that
of the Father, they should be incapable of making their wills or of
receiving any advantage from testamentary donations. The guilt of
the Manichæan heresy was esteemed of such magnitude, that it could
be expiated only by the death of the offender; and the same capital
punishment was inflicted on the Audians, or _Quartodecimans_, who should
dare to perpetrate the atrocious crime of celebrating on an improper day
the festival of Easter. Every Roman might exercise the right of public
accusation; but the office of _Inquisitors_ of the Faith, a name so
deservedly abhorred, was first instituted under the reign of Theodosius.
Yet we are assured, that the execution of his penal edicts was seldom
enforced; and that the pious emperor appeared less desirous to punish,
than to reclaim, or terrify, his refractory subjects.

The theory of persecution was established by Theodosius, whose justice
and piety have been applauded by the saints: but the practice of it, in
the fullest extent, was reserved for his rival and colleague, Maximus,
the first, among the Christian princes, who shed the blood of his
Christian subjects on account of their religious opinions. The cause
of the Priscillianists, a recent sect of heretics, who disturbed the
provinces of Spain, was transferred, by appeal, from the synod of
Bordeaux to the Imperial consistory of Treves; and by the sentence
of the Prætorian præfect, seven persons were tortured, condemned, and
executed. The first of these was Priscillian himself, bishop of Avila,
in Spain; who adorned the advantages of birth and fortune, by the
accomplishments of eloquence and learning. Two presbyters, and two
deacons, accompanied their beloved master in his death, which they
esteemed as a glorious martyrdom; and the number of religious victims
was completed by the execution of Latronian, a poet, who rivalled the
fame of the ancients; and of Euchrocia, a noble matron of Bordeaux,
the widow of the orator Delphidius. Two bishops who had embraced the
sentiments of Priscillian, were condemned to a distant and dreary exile;
and some indulgence was shown to the meaner criminals, who assumed
the merit of an early repentance. If any credit could be allowed
to confessions extorted by fear or pain, and to vague reports, the
offspring of malice and credulity, the heresy of the Priscillianists
would be found to include the various abominations of magic, of impiety,
and of lewdness. Priscillian, who wandered about the world in the
company of his spiritual sisters, was accused of praying stark naked in
the midst of the congregation; and it was confidently asserted, that the
effects of his criminal intercourse with the daughter of Euchrocia
had been suppressed, by means still more odious and criminal. But
an accurate, or rather a candid, inquiry will discover, that if
the Priscillianists violated the laws of nature, it was not by the
licentiousness, but by the austerity, of their lives. They absolutely
condemned the use of the marriage-bed; and the peace of families was
often disturbed by indiscreet separations. They enjoyed, or recommended,
a total abstinence from all anima food; and their continual prayers,
fasts, and vigils, inculcated a rule of strict and perfect devotion. The
speculative tenets of the sect, concerning the person of Christ, and the
nature of the human soul, were derived from the Gnostic and Manichæan
system; and this vain philosophy, which had been transported from
Egypt to Spain, was ill adapted to the grosser spirits of the West.
The obscure disciples of Priscillian suffered languished, and gradually
disappeared: his tenets were rejected by the clergy and people, but his
death was the subject of a long and vehement controversy; while some
arraigned, and others applauded, the justice of his sentence. It is
with pleasure that we can observe the humane inconsistency of the most
illustrious saints and bishops, Ambrose of Milan, and Martin of Tours,
who, on this occasion, asserted the cause of toleration. They pitied
the unhappy men, who had been executed at Treves; they refused to hold
communion with their episcopal murderers; and if Martin deviated from
that generous resolution, his motives were laudable, and his repentance
was exemplary. The bishops of Tours and Milan pronounced, without
hesitation, the eternal damnation of heretics; but they were surprised,
and shocked, by the bloody image of their temporal death, and the honest
feelings of nature resisted the artificial prejudices of theology.
The humanity of Ambrose and Martin was confirmed by the scandalous
irregularity of the proceedings against Priscillian and his adherents.
The civil and ecclesiastical ministers had transgressed the limits of
their respective provinces. The secular judge had presumed to receive
an appeal, and to pronounce a definitive sentence, in a matter of faith,
and episcopal jurisdiction. The bishops had disgraced themselves, by
exercising the functions of accusers in a criminal prosecution. The
cruelty of Ithacius, who beheld the tortures, and solicited the death,
of the heretics, provoked the just indignation of mankind; and the vices
of that profligate bishop were admitted as a proof, that his zeal
was instigated by the sordid motives of interest. Since the death of
Priscillian, the rude attempts of persecution have been refined and
methodized in the holy office, which assigns their distinct parts to
the ecclesiastical and secular powers. The devoted victim is regularly
delivered by the priest to the magistrate, and by the magistrate to the
executioner; and the inexorable sentence of the church, which declares
the spiritual guilt of the offender, is expressed in the mild language
of pity and intercession.



Chapter XXVII: Civil Wars, Reign Of Theodosius.--Part III.

Among the ecclesiastics, who illustrated the reign of Theodosius,
Gregory Nazianzen was distinguished by the talents of an eloquent
preacher; the reputation of miraculous gifts added weight and dignity to
the monastic virtues of Martin of Tours; but the palm of episcopal vigor
and ability was justly claimed by the intrepid Ambrose. He was descended
from a noble family of Romans; his father had exercised the important
office of Prætorian præfect of Gaul; and the son, after passing through
the studies of a liberal education, attained, in the regular gradation
of civil honors, the station of consular of Liguria, a province which
included the Imperial residence of Milan. At the age of thirty-four,
and before he had received the sacrament of baptism, Ambrose, to his
own surprise, and to that of the world, was suddenly transformed from a
governor to an archbishop. Without the least mixture, as it is said, of
art or intrigue, the whole body of the people unanimously saluted
him with the episcopal title; the concord and perseverance of their
acclamations were ascribed to a præternatural impulse; and the reluctant
magistrate was compelled to undertake a spiritual office, for which he
was not prepared by the habits and occupations of his former life. But
the active force of his genius soon qualified him to exercise, with zeal
and prudence, the duties of his ecclesiastical jurisdiction; and while
he cheerfully renounced the vain and splendid trappings of temporal
greatness, he condescended, for the good of the church, to direct the
conscience of the emperors, and to control the administration of the
empire. Gratian loved and revered him as a father; and the elaborate
treatise on the faith of the Trinity was designed for the instruction
of the young prince. After his tragic death, at a time when the
empress Justina trembled for her own safety, and for that of her son
Valentinian, the archbishop of Milan was despatched, on two different
embassies, to the court of Treves. He exercised, with equal firmness
and dexterity, the powers of his spiritual and political characters;
and perhaps contributed, by his authority and eloquence, to check the
ambition of Maximus, and to protect the peace of Italy. Ambrose had
devoted his life, and his abilities, to the service of the church.
Wealth was the object of his contempt; he had renounced his private
patrimony; and he sold, without hesitation, the consecrated plate, for
the redemption of captives. The clergy and people of Milan were attached
to their archbishop; and he deserved the esteem, without soliciting the
favor, or apprehending the displeasure, of his feeble sovereigns.

The government of Italy, and of the young emperor, naturally devolved to
his mother Justina, a woman of beauty and spirit, but who, in the
midst of an orthodox people, had the misfortune of professing the Arian
heresy, which she endeavored to instil into the mind of her son. Justina
was persuaded, that a Roman emperor might claim, in his own dominions,
the public exercise of his religion; and she proposed to the archbishop,
as a moderate and reasonable concession, that he should resign the use
of a single church, either in the city or the suburbs of Milan. But
the conduct of Ambrose was governed by very different principles. The
palaces of the earth might indeed belong to Cæsar; but the churches were
the houses of God; and, within the limits of his diocese, he himself, as
the lawful successor of the apostles, was the only minister of God. The
privileges of Christianity, temporal as well as spiritual, were confined
to the true believers; and the mind of Ambrose was satisfied, that his
own theological opinions were the standard of truth and orthodoxy. The
archbishop, who refused to hold any conference, or negotiation, with the
instruments of Satan, declared, with modest firmness, his resolution
to die a martyr, rather than to yield to the impious sacrilege; and
Justina, who resented the refusal as an act of insolence and rebellion,
hastily determined to exert the Imperial prerogative of her son. As she
desired to perform her public devotions on the approaching festival of
Easter, Ambrose was ordered to appear before the council. He obeyed the
summons with the respect of a faithful subject, but he was followed,
without his consent, by an innumerable people they pressed, with
impetuous zeal, against the gates of the palace; and the affrighted
ministers of Valentinian, instead of pronouncing a sentence of exile on
the archbishop of Milan, humbly requested that he would interpose his
authority, to protect the person of the emperor, and to restore the
tranquility of the capital. But the promises which Ambrose received and
communicated were soon violated by a perfidious court; and, during six
of the most solemn days, which Christian piety had set apart for the
exercise of religion, the city was agitated by the irregular convulsions
of tumult and fanaticism. The officers of the household were directed to
prepare, first, the Portian, and afterwards, the new, Basilica, for the
immediate reception of the emperor and his mother. The splendid canopy
and hangings of the royal seat were arranged in the customary manner;
but it was found necessary to defend them by a strong guard, from the
insults of the populace. The Arian ecclesiastics, who ventured to show
themselves in the streets, were exposed to the most imminent danger of
their lives; and Ambrose enjoyed the merit and reputation of rescuing
his personal enemies from the hands of the enraged multitude.

But while he labored to restrain the effects of their zeal, the pathetic
vehemence of his sermons continually inflamed the angry and seditious
temper of the people of Milan. The characters of Eve, of the wife of
Job, of Jezebel, of Herodias, were indecently applied to the mother
of the emperor; and her desire to obtain a church for the Arians was
compared to the most cruel persecutions which Christianity had endured
under the reign of Paganism. The measures of the court served only to
expose the magnitude of the evil. A fine of two hundred pounds of gold
was imposed on the corporate body of merchants and manufacturers: an
order was signified, in the name of the emperor, to all the officers,
and inferior servants, of the courts of justice, that, during the
continuance of the public disorders, they should strictly confine
themselves to their houses; and the ministers of Valentinian imprudently
confessed, that the most respectable part of the citizens of Milan was
attached to the cause of their archbishop. He was again solicited to
restore peace to his country, by timely compliance with the will of
his sovereign. The reply of Ambrose was couched in the most humble and
respectful terms, which might, however, be interpreted as a serious
declaration of civil war. "His life and fortune were in the hands of the
emperor; but he would never betray the church of Christ, or degrade the
dignity of the episcopal character. In such a cause he was prepared
to suffer whatever the malice of the dæmon could inflict; and he only
wished to die in the presence of his faithful flock, and at the foot of
the altar; he had not contributed to excite, but it was in the power of
God alone to appease, the rage of the people: he deprecated the scenes
of blood and confusion which were likely to ensue; and it was his
fervent prayer, that he might not survive to behold the ruin of
a flourishing city, and perhaps the desolation of all Italy." The
obstinate bigotry of Justina would have endangered the empire of her
son, if, in this contest with the church and people of Milan, she could
have depended on the active obedience of the troops of the palace. A
large body of Goths had marched to occupy the _Basilica_, which was
the object of the dispute: and it might be expected from the Arian
principles, and barbarous manners, of these foreign mercenaries, that
they would not entertain any scruples in the execution of the most
sanguinary orders. They were encountered, on the sacred threshold,
by the archbishop, who, thundering against them a sentence of
excommunication, asked them, in the tone of a father and a master,
whether it was to invade the house of God, that they had implored the
hospitable protection of the republic. The suspense of the Barbarians
allowed some hours for a more effectual negotiation; and the empress
was persuaded, by the advice of her wisest counsellors, to leave the
Catholics in possession of all the churches of Milan; and to dissemble,
till a more convenient season, her intentions of revenge. The mother of
Valentinian could never forgive the triumph of Ambrose; and the royal
youth uttered a passionate exclamation, that his own servants were ready
to betray him into the hands of an insolent priest.

The laws of the empire, some of which were inscribed with the name of
Valentinian, still condemned the Arian heresy, and seemed to excuse the
resistance of the Catholics. By the influence of Justina, an edict of
toleration was promulgated in all the provinces which were subject to
the court of Milan; the free exercise of their religion was granted to
those who professed the faith of Rimini; and the emperor declared, that
all persons who should infringe this sacred and salutary constitution,
should be capitally punished, as the enemies of the public peace.
The character and language of the archbishop of Milan may justify the
suspicion, that his conduct soon afforded a reasonable ground, or at
least a specious pretence, to the Arian ministers; who watched the
opportunity of surprising him in some act of disobedience to a law which
he strangely represents as a law of blood and tyranny. A sentence of
easy and honorable banishment was pronounced, which enjoined Ambrose to
depart from Milan without delay; whilst it permitted him to choose the
place of his exile, and the number of his companions. But the authority
of the saints, who have preached and practised the maxims of passive
loyalty, appeared to Ambrose of less moment than the extreme and
pressing danger of the church. He boldly refused to obey; and his
refusal was supported by the unanimous consent of his faithful people.
They guarded by turns the person of their archbishop; the gates of
the cathedral and the episcopal palace were strongly secured; and the
Imperial troops, who had formed the blockade, were unwilling to risk the
attack, of that impregnable fortress. The numerous poor, who had been
relieved by the liberality of Ambrose, embraced the fair occasion
of signalizing their zeal and gratitude; and as the patience of the
multitude might have been exhausted by the length and uniformity of
nocturnal vigils, he prudently introduced into the church of Milan the
useful institution of a loud and regular psalmody. While he maintained
this arduous contest, he was instructed, by a dream, to open the earth
in a place where the remains of two martyrs, Gervasius and Protasius,
had been deposited above three hundred years. Immediately under the
pavement of the church two perfect skeletons were found, with the heads
separated from their bodies, and a plentiful effusion of blood. The holy
relics were presented, in solemn pomp, to the veneration of the people;
and every circumstance of this fortunate discovery was admirably adapted
to promote the designs of Ambrose. The bones of the martyrs, their
blood, their garments, were supposed to contain a healing power; and the
præternatural influence was communicated to the most distant objects,
without losing any part of its original virtue. The extraordinary cure
of a blind man, and the reluctant confessions of several dæmoniacs,
appeared to justify the faith and sanctity of Ambrose; and the truth
of those miracles is attested by Ambrose himself, by his secretary
Paulinus, and by his proselyte, the celebrated Augustin, who, at that
time, professed the art of rhetoric in Milan. The reason of the present
age may possibly approve the incredulity of Justina and her Arian court;
who derided the theatrical representations which were exhibited by
the contrivance, and at the expense, of the archbishop. Their effect,
however, on the minds of the people, was rapid and irresistible; and
the feeble sovereign of Italy found himself unable to contend with the
favorite of Heaven. The powers likewise of the earth interposed in
the defence of Ambrose: the disinterested advice of Theodosius was the
genuine result of piety and friendship; and the mask of religious zeal
concealed the hostile and ambitious designs of the tyrant of Gaul.

The reign of Maximus might have ended in peace and prosperity, could
he have contented himself with the possession of three ample countries,
which now constitute the three most flourishing kingdoms of modern
Europe. But the aspiring usurper, whose sordid ambition was not
dignified by the love of glory and of arms, considered his actual forces
as the instruments only of his future greatness, and his success was the
immediate cause of his destruction. The wealth which he extorted from
the oppressed provinces of Gaul, Spain, and Britain, was employed in
levying and maintaining a formidable army of Barbarians, collected, for
the most part, from the fiercest nations of Germany. The conquest of
Italy was the object of his hopes and preparations: and he secretly
meditated the ruin of an innocent youth, whose government was abhorred
and despised by his Catholic subjects. But as Maximus wished to occupy,
without resistance, the passes of the Alps, he received, with perfidious
smiles, Domninus of Syria, the ambassador of Valentinian, and pressed
him to accept the aid of a considerable body of troops, for the service
of a Pannonian war. The penetration of Ambrose had discovered the snares
of an enemy under the professions of friendship; but the Syrian Domninus
was corrupted, or deceived, by the liberal favor of the court of Treves;
and the council of Milan obstinately rejected the suspicion of danger,
with a blind confidence, which was the effect, not of courage, but of
fear. The march of the auxiliaries was guided by the ambassador; and
they were admitted, without distrust, into the fortresses of the Alps.
But the crafty tyrant followed, with hasty and silent footsteps, in the
rear; and, as he diligently intercepted all intelligence of his motions,
the gleam of armor, and the dust excited by the troops of cavalry, first
announced the hostile approach of a stranger to the gates of Milan. In
this extremity, Justina and her son might accuse their own imprudence,
and the perfidious arts of Maximus; but they wanted time, and force, and
resolution, to stand against the Gauls and Germans, either in the field,
or within the walls of a large and disaffected city. Flight was their
only hope, Aquileia their only refuge; and as Maximus now displayed his
genuine character, the brother of Gratian might expect the same fate
from the hands of the same assassin. Maximus entered Milan in triumph;
and if the wise archbishop refused a dangerous and criminal connection
with the usurper, he might indirectly contribute to the success of his
arms, by inculcating, from the pulpit, the duty of resignation, rather
than that of resistance. The unfortunate Justina reached Aquileia in
safety; but she distrusted the strength of the fortifications: she
dreaded the event of a siege; and she resolved to implore the protection
of the great Theodosius, whose power and virtue were celebrated in all
the countries of the West. A vessel was secretly provided to transport
the Imperial family; they embarked with precipitation in one of the
obscure harbors of Venetia, or Istria; traversed the whole extent of the
Adriatic and Ionian Seas; turned the extreme promontory of Peloponnesus;
and, after a long, but successful navigation, reposed themselves in the
port of Thessalonica. All the subjects of Valentinian deserted the cause
of a prince, who, by his abdication, had absolved them from the duty of
allegiance; and if the little city of Æmona, on the verge of Italy, had
not presumed to stop the career of his inglorious victory, Maximus would
have obtained, without a struggle, the sole possession of the Western
empire.

Instead of inviting his royal guests to take the palace of
Constantinople, Theodosius had some unknown reasons to fix their
residence at Thessalonica; but these reasons did not proceed from
contempt or indifference, as he speedily made a visit to that city,
accompanied by the greatest part of his court and senate. After the
first tender expressions of friendship and sympathy, the pious emperor
of the East gently admonished Justina, that the guilt of heresy was
sometimes punished in this world, as well as in the next; and that the
public profession of the Nicene faith would be the most efficacious step
to promote the restoration of her son, by the satisfaction which it must
occasion both on earth and in heaven. The momentous question of peace or
war was referred, by Theodosius, to the deliberation of his council; and
the arguments which might be alleged on the side of honor and justice,
had acquired, since the death of Gratian, a considerable degree of
additional weight. The persecution of the Imperial family, to which
Theodosius himself had been indebted for his fortune, was now aggravated
by recent and repeated injuries. Neither oaths nor treaties could
restrain the boundless ambition of Maximus; and the delay of vigorous
and decisive measures, instead of prolonging the blessings of peace,
would expose the Eastern empire to the danger of a hostile invasion. The
Barbarians, who had passed the Danube, had lately assumed the character
of soldiers and subjects, but their native fierceness was yet untamed:
and the operations of a war, which would exercise their valor, and
diminish their numbers, might tend to relieve the provinces from
an intolerable oppression. Notwithstanding these specious and solid
reasons, which were approved by a majority of the council, Theodosius
still hesitated whether he should draw the sword in a contest which
could no longer admit any terms of reconciliation; and his magnanimous
character was not disgraced by the apprehensions which he felt for the
safety of his infant sons, and the welfare of his exhausted people. In
this moment of anxious doubt, while the fate of the Roman world depended
on the resolution of a single man, the charms of the princess Galla most
powerfully pleaded the cause of her brother Valentinian. The heart of
Theodosius was softened by the tears of beauty; his affections were
insensibly engaged by the graces of youth and innocence: the art of
Justina managed and directed the impulse of passion; and the celebration
of the royal nuptials was the assurance and signal of the civil war. The
unfeeling critics, who consider every amorous weakness as an indelible
stain on the memory of a great and orthodox emperor, are inclined,
on this occasion, to dispute the suspicious evidence of the historian
Zosimus. For my own part, I shall frankly confess, that I am willing to
find, or even to seek, in the revolutions of the world, some traces of
the mild and tender sentiments of domestic life; and amidst the crowd
of fierce and ambitious conquerors, I can distinguish, with peculiar
complacency, a gentle hero, who may be supposed to receive his armor
from the hands of love. The alliance of the Persian king was secured by
the faith of treaties; the martial Barbarians were persuaded to follow
the standard, or to respect the frontiers, of an active and liberal
monarch; and the dominions of Theodosius, from the Euphrates to the
Adriatic, resounded with the preparations of war both by land and sea.
The skilful disposition of the forces of the East seemed to multiply
their numbers, and distracted the attention of Maximus. He had reason
to fear, that a chosen body of troops, under the command of the intrepid
Arbogastes, would direct their march along the banks of the Danube, and
boldly penetrate through the Rhætian provinces into the centre of Gaul.
A powerful fleet was equipped in the harbors of Greece and Epirus, with
an apparent design, that, as soon as the passage had been opened by a
naval victory, Valentinian and his mother should land in Italy, proceed,
without delay, to Rome, and occupy the majestic seat of religion and
empire. In the mean while, Theodosius himself advanced at the head of a
brave and disciplined army, to encounter his unworthy rival, who, after
the siege of Æmona, had fixed his camp in the neighborhood of Siscia,
a city of Pannonia, strongly fortified by the broad and rapid stream of
the Save.



Chapter XXVII: Civil Wars, Reign Of Theodosius.--Part IV

The veterans, who still remembered the long resistance, and successive
resources, of the tyrant Magnentius, might prepare themselves for the
labors of three bloody campaigns. But the contest with his successor,
who, like him, had usurped the throne of the West, was easily decided in
the term of two months, and within the space of two hundred miles. The
superior genius of the emperor of the East might prevail over the feeble
Maximus, who, in this important crisis, showed himself destitute of
military skill, or personal courage; but the abilities of Theodosius
were seconded by the advantage which he possessed of a numerous and
active cavalry. The Huns, the Alani, and, after their example, the
Goths themselves, were formed into squadrons of archers; who fought on
horseback, and confounded the steady valor of the Gauls and Germans, by
the rapid motions of a Tartar war. After the fatigue of a long march, in
the heat of summer, they spurred their foaming horses into the waters
of the Save, swam the river in the presence of the enemy, and instantly
charged and routed the troops who guarded the high ground on the
opposite side. Marcellinus, the tyrant's brother, advanced to support
them with the select cohorts, which were considered as the hope and
strength of the army. The action, which had been interrupted by the
approach of night, was renewed in the morning; and, after a sharp
conflict, the surviving remnant of the bravest soldiers of Maximus threw
down their arms at the feet of the conqueror. Without suspending his
march, to receive the loyal acclamations of the citizens of Æmona,
Theodosius pressed forwards to terminate the war by the death or
captivity of his rival, who fled before him with the diligence of fear.
From the summit of the Julian Alps, he descended with such incredible
speed into the plain of Italy, that he reached Aquileia on the evening
of the first day; and Maximus, who found himself encompassed on all
sides, had scarcely time to shut the gates of the city. But the gates
could not long resist the effort of a victorious enemy; and the despair,
the disaffection, the indifference of the soldiers and people, hastened
the downfall of the wretched Maximus. He was dragged from his throne,
rudely stripped of the Imperial ornaments, the robe, the diadem, and
the purple slippers; and conducted, like a malefactor, to the camp and
presence of Theodosius, at a place about three miles from Aquileia.
The behavior of the emperor was not intended to insult, and he showed
disposition to pity and forgive, the tyrant of the West, who had never
been his personal enemy, and was now become the object of his contempt.
Our sympathy is the most forcibly excited by the misfortunes to which we
are exposed; and the spectacle of a proud competitor, now prostrate at
his feet, could not fail of producing very serious and solemn thoughts
in the mind of the victorious emperor. But the feeble emotion of
involuntary pity was checked by his regard for public justice, and the
memory of Gratian; and he abandoned the victim to the pious zeal of
the soldiers, who drew him out of the Imperial presence, and instantly
separated his head from his body. The intelligence of his defeat and
death was received with sincere or well-dissembled joy: his son Victor,
on whom he had conferred the title of Augustus, died by the order,
perhaps by the hand, of the bold Arbogastes; and all the military plans
of Theodosius were successfully executed. When he had thus terminated
the civil war, with less difficulty and bloodshed than he might
naturally expect, he employed the winter months of his residence at
Milan, to restore the state of the afflicted provinces; and early in the
spring he made, after the example of Constantine and Constantius, his
triumphal entry into the ancient capital of the Roman empire.

The orator, who may be silent without danger, may praise without
difficulty, and without reluctance; and posterity will confess, that the
character of Theodosius might furnish the subject of a sincere and ample
panegyric. The wisdom of his laws, and the success of his arms, rendered
his administration respectable in the eyes both of his subjects and of
his enemies. He loved and practised the virtues of domestic life, which
seldom hold their residence in the palaces of kings. Theodosius was
chaste and temperate; he enjoyed, without excess, the sensual and social
pleasures of the table; and the warmth of his amorous passions was
never diverted from their lawful objects. The proud titles of Imperial
greatness were adorned by the tender names of a faithful husband, an
indulgent father; his uncle was raised, by his affectionate esteem,
to the rank of a second parent: Theodosius embraced, as his own, the
children of his brother and sister; and the expressions of his regard
were extended to the most distant and obscure branches of his numerous
kindred. His familiar friends were judiciously selected from among those
persons, who, in the equal intercourse of private life, had appeared
before his eyes without a mask; the consciousness of personal and
superior merit enabled him to despise the accidental distinction of
the purple; and he proved by his conduct, that he had forgotten all
the injuries, while he most gratefully remembered all the favors and
services, which he had received before he ascended the throne of the
Roman empire. The serious or lively tone of his conversation was adapted
to the age, the rank, or the character of his subjects, whom he admitted
into his society; and the affability of his manners displayed the
image of his mind. Theodosius respected the simplicity of the good and
virtuous: every art, every talent, of a useful, or even of an innocent
nature, was rewarded by his judicious liberality; and, except the
heretics, whom he persecuted with implacable hatred, the diffusive
circle of his benevolence was circumscribed only by the limits of the
human race. The government of a mighty empire may assuredly suffice
to occupy the time, and the abilities, of a mortal: yet the diligent
prince, without aspiring to the unsuitable reputation of profound
learning, always reserved some moments of his leisure for the
instructive amusement of reading. History, which enlarged his
experience, was his favorite study. The annals of Rome, in the long
period of eleven hundred years, presented him with a various and
splendid picture of human life: and it has been particularly observed,
that whenever he perused the cruel acts of Cinna, of Marius, or of
Sylla, he warmly expressed his generous detestation of those enemies
of humanity and freedom. His disinterested opinion of past events was
usefully applied as the rule of his own actions; and Theodosius has
deserved the singular commendation, that his virtues always seemed to
expand with his fortune: the season of his prosperity was that of his
moderation; and his clemency appeared the most conspicuous after the
danger and success of a civil war. The Moorish guards of the tyrant had
been massacred in the first heat of the victory, and a small number of
the most obnoxious criminals suffered the punishment of the law. But the
emperor showed himself much more attentive to relieve the innocent than
to chastise the guilty. The oppressed subjects of the West, who would
have deemed themselves happy in the restoration of their lands, were
astonished to receive a sum of money equivalent to their losses; and the
liberality of the conqueror supported the aged mother, and educated the
orphan daughters, of Maximus. A character thus accomplished might almost
excuse the extravagant supposition of the orator Pacatus; that, if
the elder Brutus could be permitted to revisit the earth, the stern
republican would abjure, at the feet of Theodosius, his hatred of kings;
and ingenuously confess, that such a monarch was the most faithful
guardian of the happiness and dignity of the Roman people.

Yet the piercing eye of the founder of the republic must have discerned
two essential imperfections, which might, perhaps, have abated his
recent love of despotism. The virtuous mind of Theodosius was often
relaxed by indolence, and it was sometimes inflamed by passion. In the
pursuit of an important object, his active courage was capable of the
most vigorous exertions; but, as soon as the design was accomplished,
or the danger was surmounted, the hero sunk into inglorious repose;
and, forgetful that the time of a prince is the property of his people,
resigned himself to the enjoyment of the innocent, but trifling,
pleasures of a luxurious court. The natural disposition of Theodosius
was hasty and choleric; and, in a station where none could resist, and
few would dissuade, the fatal consequence of his resentment, the humane
monarch was justly alarmed by the consciousness of his infirmity and
of his power. It was the constant study of his life to suppress, or
regulate, the intemperate sallies of passion and the success of his
efforts enhanced the merit of his clemency. But the painful virtue which
claims the merit of victory, is exposed to the danger of defeat; and the
reign of a wise and merciful prince was polluted by an act of cruelty
which would stain the annals of Nero or Domitian. Within the space of
three years, the inconsistent historian of Theodosius must relate the
generous pardon of the citizens of Antioch, and the inhuman massacre of
the people of Thessalonica.

The lively impatience of the inhabitants of Antioch was never satisfied
with their own situation, or with the character and conduct of their
successive sovereigns. The Arian subjects of Theodosius deplored the
loss of their churches; and as three rival bishops disputed the throne
of Antioch, the sentence which decided their pretensions excited the
murmurs of the two unsuccessful congregations. The exigencies of the
Gothic war, and the inevitable expense that accompanied the conclusion
of the peace, had constrained the emperor to aggravate the weight of
the public impositions; and the provinces of Asia, as they had not been
involved in the distress were the less inclined to contribute to the
relief, of Europe. The auspicious period now approached of the tenth
year of his reign; a festival more grateful to the soldiers, who
received a liberal donative, than to the subjects, whose voluntary
offerings had been long since converted into an extraordinary and
oppressive burden. The edicts of taxation interrupted the repose, and
pleasures, of Antioch; and the tribunal of the magistrate was besieged
by a suppliant crowd; who, in pathetic, but, at first, in respectful
language, solicited the redress of their grievances. They were gradually
incensed by the pride of their haughty rulers, who treated their
complaints as a criminal resistance; their satirical wit degenerated
into sharp and angry invectives; and, from the subordinate powers of
government, the invectives of the people insensibly rose to attack
the sacred character of the emperor himself. Their fury, provoked by
a feeble opposition, discharged itself on the images of the Imperial
family, which were erected, as objects of public veneration, in the
most conspicuous places of the city. The statues of Theodosius, of his
father, of his wife Flaccilla, of his two sons, Arcadius and Honorius,
were insolently thrown down from their pedestals, broken in pieces, or
dragged with contempt through the streets; and the indignities which
were offered to the representations of Imperial majesty, sufficiently
declared the impious and treasonable wishes of the populace. The tumult
was almost immediately suppressed by the arrival of a body of archers:
and Antioch had leisure to reflect on the nature and consequences of her
crime. According to the duty of his office, the governor of the province
despatched a faithful narrative of the whole transaction: while the
trembling citizens intrusted the confession of their crime, and the
assurances of their repentance, to the zeal of Flavian, their bishop,
and to the eloquence of the senator Hilarius, the friend, and most
probably the disciple, of Libanius; whose genius, on this melancholy
occasion, was not useless to his country. But the two capitals, Antioch
and Constantinople, were separated by the distance of eight hundred
miles; and, notwithstanding the diligence of the Imperial posts, the
guilty city was severely punished by a long and dreadful interval of
suspense. Every rumor agitated the hopes and fears of the Antiochians,
and they heard with terror, that their sovereign, exasperated by the
insult which had been offered to his own statues, and more especially,
to those of his beloved wife, had resolved to level with the ground the
offending city; and to massacre, without distinction of age or sex,
the criminal inhabitants; many of whom were actually driven, by their
apprehensions, to seek a refuge in the mountains of Syria, and the
adjacent desert. At length, twenty-four days after the sedition, the
general Hellebicus and Cæsarius, master of the offices, declared the
will of the emperor, and the sentence of Antioch. That proud capital
was degraded from the rank of a city; and the metropolis of the East,
stripped of its lands, its privileges, and its revenues, was subjected,
under the humiliating denomination of a village, to the jurisdiction of
Laodicea. The baths, the Circus, and the theatres were shut: and,
that every source of plenty and pleasure might at the same time be
intercepted, the distribution of corn was abolished, by the severe
instructions of Theodosius. His commissioners then proceeded to inquire
into the guilt of individuals; of those who had perpetrated, and of
those who had not prevented, the destruction of the sacred statues. The
tribunal of Hellebicus and Cæsarius, encompassed with armed soldiers,
was erected in the midst of the Forum. The noblest, and most wealthy, of
the citizens of Antioch appeared before them in chains; the examination
was assisted by the use of torture, and their sentence was pronounced or
suspended, according to the judgment of these extraordinary magistrates.
The houses of the criminals were exposed to sale, their wives and
children were suddenly reduced, from affluence and luxury, to the most
abject distress; and a bloody execution was expected to conclude
the horrors of the day, which the preacher of Antioch, the eloquent
Chrysostom, has represented as a lively image of the last and universal
judgment of the world. But the ministers of Theodosius performed, with
reluctance, the cruel task which had been assigned them; they dropped
a gentle tear over the calamities of the people; and they listened with
reverence to the pressing solicitations of the monks and hermits, who
descended in swarms from the mountains. Hellebicus and Cæsarius were
persuaded to suspend the execution of their sentence; and it was agreed
that the former should remain at Antioch, while the latter returned,
with all possible speed, to Constantinople; and presumed once more to
consult the will of his sovereign. The resentment of Theodosius had
already subsided; the deputies of the people, both the bishop and the
orator, had obtained a favorable audience; and the reproaches of the
emperor were the complaints of injured friendship, rather than the stern
menaces of pride and power. A free and general pardon was granted to
the city and citizens of Antioch; the prison doors were thrown open;
the senators, who despaired of their lives, recovered the possession of
their houses and estates; and the capital of the East was restored
to the enjoyment of her ancient dignity and splendor. Theodosius
condescended to praise the senate of Constantinople, who had generously
interceded for their distressed brethren: he rewarded the eloquence of
Hilarius with the government of Palestine; and dismissed the bishop of
Antioch with the warmest expressions of his respect and gratitude. A
thousand new statues arose to the clemency of Theodosius; the applause
of his subjects was ratified by the approbation of his own heart; and
the emperor confessed, that, if the exercise of justice is the most
important duty, the indulgence of mercy is the most exquisite pleasure,
of a sovereign.

The sedition of Thessalonica is ascribed to a more shameful cause, and
was productive of much more dreadful consequences. That great city, the
metropolis of all the Illyrian provinces, had been protected from
the dangers of the Gothic war by strong fortifications and a numerous
garrison. Botheric, the general of those troops, and, as it should seem
from his name, a Barbarian, had among his slaves a beautiful boy, who
excited the impure desires of one of the charioteers of the Circus.
The insolent and brutal lover was thrown into prison by the order
of Botheric; and he sternly rejected the importunate clamors of the
multitude, who, on the day of the public games, lamented the absence of
their favorite; and considered the skill of a charioteer as an object
of more importance than his virtue. The resentment of the people was
imbittered by some previous disputes; and, as the strength of the
garrison had been drawn away for the service of the Italian war, the
feeble remnant, whose numbers were reduced by desertion, could not save
the unhappy general from their licentious fury. Botheric, and several
of his principal officers, were inhumanly murdered; their mangled bodies
were dragged about the streets; and the emperor, who then resided at
Milan, was surprised by the intelligence of the audacious and wanton
cruelty of the people of Thessalonica. The sentence of a dispassionate
judge would have inflicted a severe punishment on the authors of the
crime; and the merit of Botheric might contribute to exasperate the
grief and indignation of his master. The fiery and choleric temper of
Theodosius was impatient of the dilatory forms of a judicial inquiry;
and he hastily resolved, that the blood of his lieutenant should
be expiated by the blood of the guilty people. Yet his mind still
fluctuated between the counsels of clemency and of revenge; the zeal of
the bishops had almost extorted from the reluctant emperor the promise
of a general pardon; his passion was again inflamed by the flattering
suggestions of his minister Rufinus; and, after Theodosius had
despatched the messengers of death, he attempted, when it was too late,
to prevent the execution of his orders. The punishment of a Roman city
was blindly committed to the undistinguishing sword of the Barbarians;
and the hostile preparations were concerted with the dark and perfidious
artifice of an illegal conspiracy. The people of Thessalonica were
treacherously invited, in the name of their sovereign, to the games of
the Circus; and such was their insatiate avidity for those amusements,
that every consideration of fear, or suspicion, was disregarded by the
numerous spectators. As soon as the assembly was complete, the soldiers,
who had secretly been posted round the Circus, received the signal,
not of the races, but of a general massacre. The promiscuous carnage
continued three hours, without discrimination of strangers or natives,
of age or sex, of innocence or guilt; the most moderate accounts state
the number of the slain at seven thousand; and it is affirmed by some
writers that more than fifteen thousand victims were sacrificed to the
names of Botheric. A foreign merchant, who had probably no concern in
his murder, offered his own life, and all his wealth, to supply the
place of one of his two sons; but, while the father hesitated with equal
tenderness, while he was doubtful to choose, and unwilling to condemn,
the soldiers determined his suspense, by plunging their daggers at the
same moment into the breasts of the defenceless youths. The apology of
the assassins, that they were obliged to produce the prescribed number
of heads, serves only to increase, by an appearance of order and design,
the horrors of the massacre, which was executed by the commands of
Theodosius. The guilt of the emperor is aggravated by his long and
frequent residence at Thessalonica. The situation of the unfortunate
city, the aspect of the streets and buildings, the dress and faces of
the inhabitants, were familiar, and even present, to his imagination;
and Theodosius possessed a quick and lively sense of the existence of
the people whom he destroyed.

The respectful attachment of the emperor for the orthodox clergy, had
disposed him to love and admire the character of Ambrose; who united
all the episcopal virtues in the most eminent degree. The friends and
ministers of Theodosius imitated the example of their sovereign; and
he observed, with more surprise than displeasure, that all his secret
counsels were immediately communicated to the archbishop; who acted from
the laudable persuasion, that every measure of civil government may
have some connection with the glory of God, and the interest of the true
religion. The monks and populace of Callinicum, an obscure town on
the frontier of Persia, excited by their own fanaticism, and by that of
their bishop, had tumultuously burnt a conventicle of the Valentinians,
and a synagogue of the Jews. The seditious prelate was condemned, by the
magistrate of the province, either to rebuild the synagogue, or to repay
the damage; and this moderate sentence was confirmed by the emperor. But
it was not confirmed by the archbishop of Milan. He dictated an epistle
of censure and reproach, more suitable, perhaps, if the emperor had
received the mark of circumcision, and renounced the faith of his
baptism. Ambrose considers the toleration of the Jewish, as the
persecution of the Christian, religion; boldly declares that he himself,
and every true believer, would eagerly dispute with the bishop of
Callinicum the merit of the deed, and the crown of martyrdom; and
laments, in the most pathetic terms, that the execution of the sentence
would be fatal to the fame and salvation of Theodosius. As this private
admonition did not produce an immediate effect, the archbishop, from
his pulpit, publicly addressed the emperor on his throne; nor would he
consent to offer the oblation of the altar, till he had obtained from
Theodosius a solemn and positive declaration, which secured the impunity
of the bishop and monks of Callinicum. The recantation of Theodosius was
sincere; and, during the term of his residence at Milan, his affection
for Ambrose was continually increased by the habits of pious and
familiar conversation.

When Ambrose was informed of the massacre of Thessalonica, his mind was
filled with horror and anguish. He retired into the country to
indulge his grief, and to avoid the presence of Theodosius. But as
the archbishop was satisfied that a timid silence would render him
the accomplice of his guilt, he represented, in a private letter, the
enormity of the crime; which could only be effaced by the tears of
penitence. The episcopal vigor of Ambrose was tempered by prudence;
and he contented himself with signifying an indirect sort of
excommunication, by the assurance, that he had been warned in a
vision not to offer the oblation in the name, or in the presence, of
Theodosius; and by the advice, that he would confine himself to the
use of prayer, without presuming to approach the altar of Christ, or
to receive the holy eucharist with those hands that were still polluted
with the blood of an innocent people. The emperor was deeply affected by
his own reproaches, and by those of his spiritual father; and after he
had bewailed the mischievous and irreparable consequences of his rash
fury, he proceeded, in the accustomed manner, to perform his devotions
in the great church of Milan. He was stopped in the porch by the
archbishop; who, in the tone and language of an ambassador of Heaven,
declared to his sovereign, that private contrition was not sufficient
to atone for a public fault, or to appease the justice of the offended
Deity. Theodosius humbly represented, that if he had contracted the
guilt of homicide, David, the man after God's own heart, had been
guilty, not only of murder, but of adultery. "You have imitated David in
his crime, imitate then his repentance," was the reply of the undaunted
Ambrose. The rigorous conditions of peace and pardon were accepted; and
the public penance of the emperor Theodosius has been recorded as one of
the most honorable events in the annals of the church. According to the
mildest rules of ecclesiastical discipline, which were established in
the fourth century, the crime of homicide was expiated by the penitence
of twenty years: and as it was impossible, in the period of human life,
to purge the accumulated guilt of the massacre of Thessalonica, the
murderer should have been excluded from the holy communion till the hour
of his death. But the archbishop, consulting the maxims of religious
policy, granted some indulgence to the rank of his illustrious penitent,
who humbled in the dust the pride of the diadem; and the public
edification might be admitted as a weighty reason to abridge the
duration of his punishment. It was sufficient, that the emperor of the
Romans, stripped of the ensigns of royalty, should appear in a mournful
and suppliant posture; and that, in the midst of the church of Milan, he
should humbly solicit, with sighs and tears, the pardon of his sins. In
this spiritual cure, Ambrose employed the various methods of mildness
and severity. After a delay of about eight months, Theodosius was
restored to the communion of the faithful; and the edict which
interposes a salutary interval of thirty days between the sentence and
the execution, may be accepted as the worthy fruits of his repentance.
Posterity has applauded the virtuous firmness of the archbishop; and
the example of Theodosius may prove the beneficial influence of those
principles, which could force a monarch, exalted above the apprehension
of human punishment, to respect the laws, and ministers, of an invisible
Judge. "The prince," says Montesquieu, "who is actuated by the hopes and
fears of religion, may be compared to a lion, docile only to the voice,
and tractable to the hand, of his keeper." The motions of the royal
animal will therefore depend on the inclination, and interest, of the
man who has acquired such dangerous authority over him; and the priest,
who holds in his hands the conscience of a king, may inflame, or
moderate, his sanguinary passions. The cause of humanity, and that of
persecution, have been asserted, by the same Ambrose, with equal energy,
and with equal success.



Chapter XXVII: Civil Wars, Reign Of Theodosius.--Part V.

After the defeat and death of the tyrant of Gaul, the Roman world was in
the possession of Theodosius. He derived from the choice of Gratian his
honorable title to the provinces of the East: he had acquired the West
by the right of conquest; and the three years which he spent in Italy
were usefully employed to restore the authority of the laws, and
to correct the abuses which had prevailed with impunity under the
usurpation of Maximus, and the minority of Valentinian. The name of
Valentinian was regularly inserted in the public acts: but the tender
age, and doubtful faith, of the son of Justina, appeared to require the
prudent care of an orthodox guardian; and his specious ambition might
have excluded the unfortunate youth, without a struggle, and
almost without a murmur, from the administration, and even from the
inheritance, of the empire. If Theodosius had consulted the rigid maxims
of interest and policy, his conduct would have been justified by his
friends; but the generosity of his behavior on this memorable occasion
has extorted the applause of his most inveterate enemies. He seated
Valentinian on the throne of Milan; and, without stipulating any present
or future advantages, restored him to the absolute dominion of all the
provinces, from which he had been driven by the arms of Maximus. To
the restitution of his ample patrimony, Theodosius added the free and
generous gift of the countries beyond the Alps, which his successful
valor had recovered from the assassin of Gratian. Satisfied with the
glory which he had acquired, by revenging the death of his benefactor,
and delivering the West from the yoke of tyranny, the emperor returned
from Milan to Constantinople; and, in the peaceful possession of
the East, insensibly relapsed into his former habits of luxury and
indolence. Theodosius discharged his obligation to the brother, he
indulged his conjugal tenderness to the sister, of Valentinian; and
posterity, which admires the pure and singular glory of his elevation,
must applaud his unrivalled generosity in the use of victory.

The empress Justina did not long survive her return to Italy; and,
though she beheld the triumph of Theodosius, she was not allowed to
influence the government of her son. The pernicious attachment to
the Arian sect, which Valentinian had imbibed from her example and
instructions, was soon erased by the lessons of a more orthodox
education. His growing zeal for the faith of Nice, and his filial
reverence for the character and authority of Ambrose, disposed the
Catholics to entertain the most favorable opinion of the virtues of the
young emperor of the West. They applauded his chastity and temperance,
his contempt of pleasure, his application to business, and his tender
affection for his two sisters; which could not, however, seduce his
impartial equity to pronounce an unjust sentence against the meanest
of his subjects. But this amiable youth, before he had accomplished the
twentieth year of his age, was oppressed by domestic treason; and the
empire was again involved in the horrors of a civil war. Arbogastes, a
gallant soldier of the nation of the Franks, held the second rank in the
service of Gratian. On the death of his master he joined the standard
of Theodosius; contributed, by his valor and military conduct, to
the destruction of the tyrant; and was appointed, after the victory,
master-general of the armies of Gaul. His real merit, and apparent
fidelity, had gained the confidence both of the prince and people; his
boundless liberality corrupted the allegiance of the troops; and, whilst
he was universally esteemed as the pillar of the state, the bold and
crafty Barbarian was secretly determined either to rule, or to ruin, the
empire of the West. The important commands of the army were distributed
among the Franks; the creatures of Arbogastes were promoted to all
the honors and offices of the civil government; the progress of
the conspiracy removed every faithful servant from the presence of
Valentinian; and the emperor, without power and without intelligence,
insensibly sunk into the precarious and dependent condition of a
captive. The indignation which he expressed, though it might arise only
from the rash and impatient temper of youth, may be candidly ascribed
to the generous spirit of a prince, who felt that he was not unworthy
to reign. He secretly invited the archbishop of Milan to undertake the
office of a mediator; as the pledge of his sincerity, and the guardian
of his safety. He contrived to apprise the emperor of the East of his
helpless situation, and he declared, that, unless Theodosius could
speedily march to his assistance, he must attempt to escape from the
palace, or rather prison, of Vienna in Gaul, where he had imprudently
fixed his residence in the midst of the hostile faction. But the hopes
of relief were distant, and doubtful: and, as every day furnished some
new provocation, the emperor, without strength or counsel, too hastily
resolved to risk an immediate contest with his powerful general. He
received Arbogastes on the throne; and, as the count approached with
some appearance of respect, delivered to him a paper, which dismissed
him from all his employments. "My authority," replied Arbogastes, with
insulting coolness, "does not depend on the smile or the frown of a
monarch;" and he contemptuously threw the paper on the ground. The
indignant monarch snatched at the sword of one of the guards, which he
struggled to draw from its scabbard; and it was not without some degree
of violence that he was prevented from using the deadly weapon against
his enemy, or against himself. A few days after this extraordinary
quarrel, in which he had exposed his resentment and his weakness, the
unfortunate Valentinian was found strangled in his apartment; and some
pains were employed to disguise the manifest guilt of Arbogastes, and
to persuade the world, that the death of the young emperor had been the
voluntary effect of his own despair. His body was conducted with decent
pomp to the sepulchre of Milan; and the archbishop pronounced a funeral
oration to commemorate his virtues and his misfortunes. On this occasion
the humanity of Ambrose tempted him to make a singular breach in his
theological system; and to comfort the weeping sisters of Valentinian,
by the firm assurance, that their pious brother, though he had not
received the sacrament of baptism, was introduced, without difficulty,
into the mansions of eternal bliss.

The prudence of Arbogastes had prepared the success of his ambitious
designs: and the provincials, in whose breast every sentiment of
patriotism or loyalty was extinguished, expected, with tame resignation,
the unknown master, whom the choice of a Frank might place on the
Imperial throne. But some remains of pride and prejudice still opposed
the elevation of Arbogastes himself; and the judicious Barbarian thought
it more advisable to reign under the name of some dependent Roman. He
bestowed the purple on the rhetorician Eugenius; whom he had already
raised from the place of his domestic secretary to the rank of master of
the offices. In the course, both of his private and public service, the
count had always approved the attachment and abilities of Eugenius;
his learning and eloquence, supported by the gravity of his manners,
recommended him to the esteem of the people; and the reluctance with
which he seemed to ascend the throne, may inspire a favorable prejudice
of his virtue and moderation. The ambassadors of the new emperor were
immediately despatched to the court of Theodosius, to communicate, with
affected grief, the unfortunate accident of the death of Valentinian;
and, without mentioning the name of Arbogastes, to request, that
the monarch of the East would embrace, as his lawful colleague, the
respectable citizen, who had obtained the unanimous suffrage of the
armies and provinces of the West. Theodosius was justly provoked, that
the perfidy of a Barbarian, should have destroyed, in a moment, the
labors, and the fruit, of his former victory; and he was excited by the
tears of his beloved wife, to revenge the fate of her unhappy brother,
and once more to assert by arms the violated majesty of the throne. But
as the second conquest of the West was a task of difficulty and danger,
he dismissed, with splendid presents, and an ambiguous answer, the
ambassadors of Eugenius; and almost two years were consumed in the
preparations of the civil war. Before he formed any decisive resolution,
the pious emperor was anxious to discover the will of Heaven; and as the
progress of Christianity had silenced the oracles of Delphi and Dodona,
he consulted an Egyptian monk, who possessed, in the opinion of the age,
the gift of miracles, and the knowledge of futurity. Eutropius, one
of the favorite eunuchs of the palace of Constantinople, embarked for
Alexandria, from whence he sailed up the Nile, as far as the city of
Lycopolis, or of Wolves, in the remote province of Thebais. In the
neighborhood of that city, and on the summit of a lofty mountain, the
holy John had constructed, with his own hands, an humble cell, in which
he had dwelt above fifty years, without opening his door, without seeing
the face of a woman, and without tasting any food that had been prepared
by fire, or any human art. Five days of the week he spent in prayer and
meditation; but on Saturdays and Sundays he regularly opened a small
window, and gave audience to the crowd of suppliants who successively
flowed from every part of the Christian world. The eunuch of Theodosius
approached the window with respectful steps, proposed his questions
concerning the event of the civil war, and soon returned with a
favorable oracle, which animated the courage of the emperor by the
assurance of a bloody, but infallible victory. The accomplishment of
the prediction was forwarded by all the means that human prudence could
supply. The industry of the two master-generals, Stilicho and Timasius,
was directed to recruit the numbers, and to revive the discipline of
the Roman legions. The formidable troops of Barbarians marched under
the ensigns of their national chieftains. The Iberian, the Arab, and the
Goth, who gazed on each other with mutual astonishment, were enlisted in
the service of the same prince; and the renowned Alaric acquired,
in the school of Theodosius, the knowledge of the art of war, which he
afterwards so fatally exerted for the destruction of Rome.

The emperor of the West, or, to speak more properly, his general
Arbogastes, was instructed by the misconduct and misfortune of Maximus,
how dangerous it might prove to extend the line of defence against a
skilful antagonist, who was free to press, or to suspend, to contract,
or to multiply, his various methods of attack. Arbogastes fixed
his station on the confines of Italy; the troops of Theodosius were
permitted to occupy, without resistance, the provinces of Pannonia, as
far as the foot of the Julian Alps; and even the passes of the mountains
were negligently, or perhaps artfully, abandoned to the bold invader.
He descended from the hills, and beheld, with some astonishment, the
formidable camp of the Gauls and Germans, that covered with arms and
tents the open country which extends to the walls of Aquileia, and the
banks of the Frigidus, or Cold River. This narrow theatre of the war,
circumscribed by the Alps and the Adriatic, did not allow much room for
the operations of military skill; the spirit of Arbogastes would have
disdained a pardon; his guilt extinguished the hope of a negotiation;
and Theodosius was impatient to satisfy his glory and revenge, by the
chastisement of the assassins of Valentinian. Without weighing the
natural and artificial obstacles that opposed his efforts, the emperor
of the East immediately attacked the fortifications of his rivals,
assigned the post of honorable danger to the Goths, and cherished a
secret wish, that the bloody conflict might diminish the pride and
numbers of the conquerors. Ten thousand of those auxiliaries, and
Bacurius, general of the Iberians, died bravely on the field of battle.
But the victory was not purchased by their blood; the Gauls maintained
their advantage; and the approach of night protected the disorderly
flight, or retreat, of the troops of Theodosius. The emperor retired to
the adjacent hills; where he passed a disconsolate night, without sleep,
without provisions, and without hopes; except that strong assurance,
which, under the most desperate circumstances, the independent mind may
derive from the contempt of fortune and of life. The triumph of Eugenius
was celebrated by the insolent and dissolute joy of his camp; whilst the
active and vigilant Arbogastes secretly detached a considerable body of
troops to occupy the passes of the mountains, and to encompass the
rear of the Eastern army. The dawn of day discovered to the eyes
of Theodosius the extent and the extremity of his danger; but his
apprehensions were soon dispelled, by a friendly message from the
leaders of those troops who expressed their inclination to desert the
standard of the tyrant. The honorable and lucrative rewards, which
they stipulated as the price of their perfidy, were granted without
hesitation; and as ink and paper could not easily be procured, the
emperor subscribed, on his own tablets, the ratification of the treaty.
The spirit of his soldiers was revived by this seasonable reenforcement;
and they again marched, with confidence, to surprise the camp of a
tyrant, whose principal officers appeared to distrust, either the
justice or the success of his arms. In the heat of the battle, a violent
tempest, such as is often felt among the Alps, suddenly arose from the
East. The army of Theodosius was sheltered by their position from the
impetuosity of the wind, which blew a cloud of dust in the faces of the
enemy, disordered their ranks, wrested their weapons from their hands,
and diverted, or repelled, their ineffectual javelins. This accidental
advantage was skilfully improved, the violence of the storm was
magnified by the superstitious terrors of the Gauls; and they yielded
without shame to the invisible powers of heaven, who seemed to militate
on the side of the pious emperor. His victory was decisive; and the
deaths of his two rivals were distinguished only by the difference of
their characters. The rhetorician Eugenius, who had almost acquired
the dominion of the world, was reduced to implore the mercy of the
conqueror; and the unrelenting soldiers separated his head from his body
as he lay prostrate at the feet of Theodosius. Arbogastes, after the
loss of a battle, in which he had discharged the duties of a soldier and
a general, wandered several days among the mountains. But when he was
convinced that his cause was desperate, and his escape impracticable,
the intrepid Barbarian imitated the example of the ancient Romans, and
turned his sword against his own breast. The fate of the empire was
determined in a narrow corner of Italy; and the legitimate successor
of the house of Valentinian embraced the archbishop of Milan, and
graciously received the submission of the provinces of the West. Those
provinces were involved in the guilt of rebellion; while the inflexible
courage of Ambrose alone had resisted the claims of successful
usurpation. With a manly freedom, which might have been fatal to any
other subject, the archbishop rejected the gifts of Eugenius, declined
his correspondence, and withdrew himself from Milan, to avoid the
odious presence of a tyrant, whose downfall he predicted in discreet and
ambiguous language. The merit of Ambrose was applauded by the conqueror,
who secured the attachment of the people by his alliance with the
church; and the clemency of Theodosius is ascribed to the humane
intercession of the archbishop of Milan.

After the defeat of Eugenius, the merit, as well as the authority, of
Theodosius was cheerfully acknowledged by all the inhabitants of the
Roman world. The experience of his past conduct encouraged the most
pleasing expectations of his future reign; and the age of the emperor,
which did not exceed fifty years, seemed to extend the prospect of the
public felicity. His death, only four months after his victory, was
considered by the people as an unforeseen and fatal event, which
destroyed, in a moment, the hopes of the rising generation. But the
indulgence of ease and luxury had secretly nourished the principles of
disease. The strength of Theodosius was unable to support the sudden
and violent transition from the palace to the camp; and the increasing
symptoms of a dropsy announced the speedy dissolution of the emperor.
The opinion, and perhaps the interest, of the public had confirmed the
division of the Eastern and Western empires; and the two royal youths,
Arcadius and Honorius, who had already obtained, from the tenderness of
their father, the title of Augustus, were destined to fill the thrones
of Constantinople and of Rome. Those princes were not permitted to share
the danger and glory of the civil war; but as soon as Theodosius had
triumphed over his unworthy rivals, he called his younger son, Honorius,
to enjoy the fruits of the victory, and to receive the sceptre of the
West from the hands of his dying father. The arrival of Honorius at
Milan was welcomed by a splendid exhibition of the games of the Circus;
and the emperor, though he was oppressed by the weight of his disorder,
contributed by his presence to the public joy. But the remains of his
strength were exhausted by the painful effort which he made to assist at
the spectacles of the morning. Honorius supplied, during the rest of the
day, the place of his father; and the great Theodosius expired in the
ensuing night. Notwithstanding the recent animosities of a civil
war, his death was universally lamented. The Barbarians, whom he had
vanquished and the churchmen, by whom he had been subdued, celebrated,
with loud and sincere applause, the qualities of the deceased emperor,
which appeared the most valuable in their eyes. The Romans
were terrified by the impending dangers of a feeble and divided
administration, and every disgraceful moment of the unfortunate reigns
of Arcadius and Honorius revived the memory of their irreparable loss.

In the faithful picture of the virtues of Theodosius, his imperfections
have not been dissembled; the act of cruelty, and the habits of
indolence, which tarnished the glory of one of the greatest of the Roman
princes. An historian, perpetually adverse to the fame of Theodosius,
has exaggerated his vices, and their pernicious effects; he boldly
asserts, that every rank of subjects imitated the effeminate manners
of their sovereign; and that every species of corruption polluted the
course of public and private life; and that the feeble restraints of
order and decency were insufficient to resist the progress of that
degenerate spirit, which sacrifices, without a blush, the consideration
of duty and interest to the base indulgence of sloth and appetite. The
complaints of contemporary writers, who deplore the increase of luxury,
and depravation of manners, are commonly expressive of their peculiar
temper and situation. There are few observers, who possess a clear and
comprehensive view of the revolutions of society; and who are capable of
discovering the nice and secret springs of action, which impel, in the
same uniform direction, the blind and capricious passions of a multitude
of individuals. If it can be affirmed, with any degree of truth, that
the luxury of the Romans was more shameless and dissolute in the reign
of Theodosius than in the age of Constantine, perhaps, or of Augustus,
the alteration cannot be ascribed to any beneficial improvements, which
had gradually increased the stock of national riches. A long period of
calamity or decay must have checked the industry, and diminished the
wealth, of the people; and their profuse luxury must have been the
result of that indolent despair, which enjoys the present hour, and
declines the thoughts of futurity. The uncertain condition of their
property discouraged the subjects of Theodosius from engaging in those
useful and laborious undertakings which require an immediate expense,
and promise a slow and distant advantage. The frequent examples of ruin
and desolation tempted them not to spare the remains of a patrimony,
which might, every hour, become the prey of the rapacious Goth. And the
mad prodigality which prevails in the confusion of a shipwreck, or
a siege, may serve to explain the progress of luxury amidst the
misfortunes and terrors of a sinking nation.

The effeminate luxury, which infected the manners of courts and cities,
had instilled a secret and destructive poison into the camps of the
legions; and their degeneracy has been marked by the pen of a military
writer, who had accurately studied the genuine and ancient principles of
Roman discipline. It is the just and important observation of Vegetius,
that the infantry was invariably covered with defensive armor, from
the foundation of the city, to the reign of the emperor Gratian. The
relaxation of discipline, and the disuse of exercise, rendered the
soldiers less able, and less willing, to support the fatigues of the
service; they complained of the weight of the armor, which they seldom
wore; and they successively obtained the permission of laying aside both
their cuirasses and their helmets. The heavy weapons of their ancestors,
the short sword, and the formidable _pilum_, which had subdued the
world, insensibly dropped from their feeble hands. As the use of the
shield is incompatible with that of the bow, they reluctantly marched
into the field; condemned to suffer either the pain of wounds, or the
ignominy of flight, and always disposed to prefer the more shameful
alternative. The cavalry of the Goths, the Huns, and the Alani, had
felt the benefits, and adopted the use, of defensive armor; and, as they
excelled in the management of missile weapons, they easily overwhelmed
the naked and trembling legions, whose heads and breasts were exposed,
without defence, to the arrows of the Barbarians. The loss of armies,
the destruction of cities, and the dishonor of the Roman name,
ineffectually solicited the successors of Gratian to restore the helmets
and the cuirasses of the infantry. The enervated soldiers abandoned
their own and the public defence; and their pusillanimous indolence may
be considered as the immediate cause of the downfall of the empire.



Chapter XXVIII: Destruction Of Paganism.--Part I.

     Final Destruction Of Paganism.--Introduction Of The
     Worship Of Saints, And Relics, Among The Christians.

The ruin of Paganism, in the age of Theodosius, is perhaps the
only example of the total extirpation of any ancient and popular
superstition; and may therefore deserve to be considered as a singular
event in the history of the human mind. The Christians, more especially
the clergy, had impatiently supported the prudent delays of Constantine,
and the equal toleration of the elder Valentinian; nor could they deem
their conquest perfect or secure, as long as their adversaries were
permitted to exist. The influence which Ambrose and his brethren had
acquired over the youth of Gratian, and the piety of Theodosius, was
employed to infuse the maxims of persecution into the breasts of their
Imperial proselytes. Two specious principles of religious jurisprudence
were established, from whence they deduced a direct and rigorous
conclusion, against the subjects of the empire who still adhered to
the ceremonies of their ancestors: _that_ the magistrate is, in some
measure, guilty of the crimes which he neglects to prohibit, or to
punish; and, _that_ the idolatrous worship of fabulous deities, and real
dæmons, is the most abominable crime against the supreme majesty of the
Creator. The laws of Moses, and the examples of Jewish history, were
hastily, perhaps erroneously, applied, by the clergy, to the mild and
universal reign of Christianity. The zeal of the emperors was excited to
vindicate their own honor, and that of the Deity: and the temples of the
Roman world were subverted, about sixty years after the conversion of
Constantine.

From the age of Numa to the reign of Gratian, the Romans preserved the
regular succession of the several colleges of the sacerdotal order.
Fifteen Pontiffs exercised their supreme jurisdiction over all things,
and persons, that were consecrated to the service of the gods; and the
various questions which perpetually arose in a loose and traditionary
system, were submitted to the judgment of their holy tribunal Fifteen
grave and learned Augurs observed the face of the heavens, and
prescribed the actions of heroes, according to the flight of birds.
Fifteen keepers of the Sibylline books (their name of Quindecemvirs was
derived from their number) occasionally consulted the history of future,
and, as it should seem, of contingent, events. Six Vestals devoted their
virginity to the guard of the sacred fire, and of the unknown pledges of
the duration of Rome; which no mortal had been suffered to behold with
impunity. Seven Epulos prepared the table of the gods, conducted the
solemn procession, and regulated the ceremonies of the annual festival.
The three Flamens of Jupiter, of Mars, and of Quirinus, were considered
as the peculiar ministers of the three most powerful deities, who
watched over the fate of Rome and of the universe. The King of the
Sacrifices represented the person of Numa, and of his successors, in the
religious functions, which could be performed only by royal hands. The
confraternities of the Salians, the Lupercals, &c., practised such rites
as might extort a smile of contempt from every reasonable man, with
a lively confidence of recommending themselves to the favor of the
immortal gods. The authority, which the Roman priests had formerly
obtained in the counsels of the republic, was gradually abolished by the
establishment of monarchy, and the removal of the seat of empire. But
the dignity of their sacred character was still protected by the laws,
and manners of their country; and they still continued, more especially
the college of pontiffs, to exercise in the capital, and sometimes
in the provinces, the rights of their ecclesiastical and civil
jurisdiction. Their robes of purple, chariots of state, and sumptuous
entertainments, attracted the admiration of the people; and they
received, from the consecrated lands, and the public revenue, an ample
stipend, which liberally supported the splendor of the priesthood, and
all the expenses of the religious worship of the state. As the service
of the altar was not incompatible with the command of armies, the
Romans, after their consulships and triumphs, aspired to the place of
pontiff, or of augur; the seats of Cicero and Pompey were filled, in the
fourth century, by the most illustrious members of the senate; and the
dignity of their birth reflected additional splendor on their sacerdotal
character. The fifteen priests, who composed the college of pontiffs,
enjoyed a more distinguished rank as the companions of their sovereign;
and the Christian emperors condescended to accept the robe and ensigns,
which were appropriated to the office of supreme pontiff. But when
Gratian ascended the throne, more scrupulous or more enlightened, he
sternly rejected those profane symbols; applied to the service of
the state, or of the church, the revenues of the priests and vestals;
abolished their honors and immunities; and dissolved the ancient fabric
of Roman superstition, which was supported by the opinions and habits of
eleven hundred years. Paganism was still the constitutional religion of
the senate. The hall, or temple, in which they assembled, was adorned by
the statue and altar of Victory; a majestic female standing on a globe,
with flowing garments, expanded wings, and a crown of laurel in her
outstretched hand. The senators were sworn on the altar of the goddess
to observe the laws of the emperor and of the empire: and a solemn
offering of wine and incense was the ordinary prelude of their public
deliberations. The removal of this ancient monument was the only injury
which Constantius had offered to the superstition of the Romans. The
altar of Victory was again restored by Julian, tolerated by Valentinian,
and once more banished from the senate by the zeal of Gratian. But the
emperor yet spared the statues of the gods which were exposed to the
public veneration: four hundred and twenty-four temples, or chapels,
still remained to satisfy the devotion of the people; and in every
quarter of Rome the delicacy of the Christians was offended by the fumes
of idolatrous sacrifice.

But the Christians formed the least numerous party in the senate of
Rome: and it was only by their absence, that they could express their
dissent from the legal, though profane, acts of a Pagan majority. In
that assembly, the dying embers of freedom were, for a moment, revived
and inflamed by the breath of fanaticism. Four respectable deputations
were successively voted to the Imperial court, to represent the
grievances of the priesthood and the senate, and to solicit the
restoration of the altar of Victory. The conduct of this important
business was intrusted to the eloquent Symmachus, a wealthy and noble
senator, who united the sacred characters of pontiff and augur with
the civil dignities of proconsul of Africa and præfect of the city. The
breast of Symmachus was animated by the warmest zeal for the cause of
expiring Paganism; and his religious antagonists lamented the abuse of
his genius, and the inefficacy of his moral virtues. The orator, whose
petition is extant to the emperor Valentinian, was conscious of the
difficulty and danger of the office which he had assumed. He cautiously
avoids every topic which might appear to reflect on the religion of his
sovereign; humbly declares, that prayers and entreaties are his only
arms; and artfully draws his arguments from the schools of rhetoric,
rather than from those of philosophy. Symmachus endeavors to seduce
the imagination of a young prince, by displaying the attributes of
the goddess of victory; he insinuates, that the confiscation of the
revenues, which were consecrated to the service of the gods, was a
measure unworthy of his liberal and disinterested character; and he
maintains, that the Roman sacrifices would be deprived of their force
and energy, if they were no longer celebrated at the expense, as well
as in the name, of the republic. Even scepticism is made to supply an
apology for superstition. The great and incomprehensible _secret_ of the
universe eludes the inquiry of man. Where reason cannot instruct,
custom may be permitted to guide; and every nation seems to consult
the dictates of prudence, by a faithful attachment to those rites and
opinions, which have received the sanction of ages. If those ages
have been crowned with glory and prosperity, if the devout people have
frequently obtained the blessings which they have solicited at the
altars of the gods, it must appear still more advisable to persist in
the same salutary practice; and not to risk the unknown perils that
may attend any rash innovations. The test of antiquity and success
was applied with singular advantage to the religion of Numa; and Rome
herself, the celestial genius that presided over the fates of the city,
is introduced by the orator to plead her own cause before the tribunal
of the emperors. "Most excellent princes," says the venerable matron,
"fathers of your country! pity and respect my age, which has hitherto
flowed in an uninterrupted course of piety. Since I do not repent,
permit me to continue in the practice of my ancient rites. Since I am
born free, allow me to enjoy my domestic institutions. This religion has
reduced the world under my laws. These rites have repelled Hannibal from
the city, and the Gauls from the Capitol. Were my gray hairs reserved
for such intolerable disgrace? I am ignorant of the new system that I am
required to adopt; but I am well assured, that the correction of old age
is always an ungrateful and ignominious office." The fears of the people
supplied what the discretion of the orator had suppressed; and the
calamities, which afflicted, or threatened, the declining empire, were
unanimously imputed, by the Pagans, to the new religion of Christ and of
Constantine.

But the hopes of Symmachus were repeatedly baffled by the firm and
dexterous opposition of the archbishop of Milan, who fortified the
emperors against the fallacious eloquence of the advocate of Rome.
In this controversy, Ambrose condescends to speak the language of a
philosopher, and to ask, with some contempt, why it should be thought
necessary to introduce an imaginary and invisible power, as the cause
of those victories, which were sufficiently explained by the valor and
discipline of the legions. He justly derides the absurd reverence for
antiquity, which could only tend to discourage the improvements of
art, and to replunge the human race into their original barbarism.
From thence, gradually rising to a more lofty and theological tone,
he pronounces, that Christianity alone is the doctrine of truth and
salvation; and that every mode of Polytheism conducts its deluded
votaries, through the paths of error, to the abyss of eternal perdition.
Arguments like these, when they were suggested by a favorite bishop, had
power to prevent the restoration of the altar of Victory; but the same
arguments fell, with much more energy and effect, from the mouth of
a conqueror; and the gods of antiquity were dragged in triumph at the
chariot-wheels of Theodosius. In a full meeting of the senate, the
emperor proposed, according to the forms of the republic, the important
question, Whether the worship of Jupiter, or that of Christ, should
be the religion of the Romans. The liberty of suffrages, which
he affected to allow, was destroyed by the hopes and fears that his
presence inspired; and the arbitrary exile of Symmachus was a recent
admonition, that it might be dangerous to oppose the wishes of the
monarch. On a regular division of the senate, Jupiter was condemned
and degraded by the sense of a very large majority; and it is rather
surprising, that any members should be found bold enough to declare, by
their speeches and votes, that they were still attached to the interest
of an abdicated deity. The hasty conversion of the senate must be
attributed either to supernatural or to sordid motives; and many of
these reluctant proselytes betrayed, on every favorable occasion, their
secret disposition to throw aside the mask of odious dissimulation.
But they were gradually fixed in the new religion, as the cause of
the ancient became more hopeless; they yielded to the authority of the
emperor, to the fashion of the times, and to the entreaties of their
wives and children, who were instigated and governed by the clergy of
Rome and the monks of the East. The edifying example of the Anician
family was soon imitated by the rest of the nobility: the Bassi,
the Paullini, the Gracchi, embraced the Christian religion; and "the
luminaries of the world, the venerable assembly of Catos (such are the
high-flown expressions of Prudentius) were impatient to strip themselves
of their pontifical garment; to cast the skin of the old serpent; to
assume the snowy robes of baptismal innocence, and to humble the pride
of the consular fasces before tombs of the martyrs." The citizens, who
subsisted by their own industry, and the populace, who were supported by
the public liberality, filled the churches of the Lateran, and Vatican,
with an incessant throng of devout proselytes. The decrees of the
senate, which proscribed the worship of idols, were ratified by the
general consent of the Romans; the splendor of the Capitol was defaced,
and the solitary temples were abandoned to ruin and contempt. Rome
submitted to the yoke of the Gospel; and the vanquished provinces had
not yet lost their reverence for the name and authority of Rome.



Chapter XXVIII: Destruction Of Paganism.--Part II.

The filial piety of the emperors themselves engaged them to proceed,
with some caution and tenderness, in the reformation of the eternal
city. Those absolute monarchs acted with less regard to the prejudices
of the provincials. The pious labor which had been suspended near
twenty years since the death of Constantius, was vigorously resumed,
and finally accomplished, by the zeal of Theodosius. Whilst that warlike
prince yet struggled with the Goths, not for the glory, but for the
safety, of the republic, he ventured to offend a considerable party of
his subjects, by some acts which might perhaps secure the protection of
Heaven, but which must seem rash and unseasonable in the eye of human
prudence. The success of his first experiments against the Pagans
encouraged the pious emperor to reiterate and enforce his edicts of
proscription: the same laws which had been originally published in the
provinces of the East, were applied, after the defeat of Maximus, to the
whole extent of the Western empire; and every victory of the orthodox
Theodosius contributed to the triumph of the Christian and Catholic
faith. He attacked superstition in her most vital part, by prohibiting
the use of sacrifices, which he declared to be criminal as well as
infamous; and if the terms of his edicts more strictly condemned the
impious curiosity which examined the entrails of the victim, every
subsequent explanation tended to involve in the same guilt the general
practice of _immolation_, which essentially constituted the religion
of the Pagans. As the temples had been erected for the purpose of
sacrifice, it was the duty of a benevolent prince to remove from his
subjects the dangerous temptation of offending against the laws which he
had enacted. A special commission was granted to Cynegius, the Prætorian
præfect of the East, and afterwards to the counts Jovius and Gaudentius,
two officers of distinguished rank in the West; by which they were
directed to shut the temples, to seize or destroy the instruments of
idolatry, to abolish the privileges of the priests, and to confiscate
the consecrated property for the benefit of the emperor, of the church,
or of the army. Here the desolation might have stopped: and the naked
edifices, which were no longer employed in the service of idolatry,
might have been protected from the destructive rage of fanaticism.
Many of those temples were the most splendid and beautiful monuments
of Grecian architecture; and the emperor himself was interested not to
deface the splendor of his own cities, or to diminish the value of his
own possessions. Those stately edifices might be suffered to remain, as
so many lasting trophies of the victory of Christ. In the decline of the
arts they might be usefully converted into magazines, manufactures, or
places of public assembly: and perhaps, when the walls of the temple had
been sufficiently purified by holy rites, the worship of the true Deity
might be allowed to expiate the ancient guilt of idolatry. But as long
as they subsisted, the Pagans fondly cherished the secret hope, that an
auspicious revolution, a second Julian, might again restore the altars
of the gods: and the earnestness with which they addressed their
unavailing prayers to the throne, increased the zeal of the Christian
reformers to extirpate, without mercy, the root of superstition. The
laws of the emperors exhibit some symptoms of a milder disposition: but
their cold and languid efforts were insufficient to stem the torrent of
enthusiasm and rapine, which was conducted, or rather impelled, by the
spiritual rulers of the church. In Gaul, the holy Martin, bishop of
Tours, marched at the head of his faithful monks to destroy the idols,
the temples, and the consecrated trees of his extensive diocese; and,
in the execution of this arduous task, the prudent reader will judge
whether Martin was supported by the aid of miraculous powers, or of
carnal weapons. In Syria, the divine and excellent Marcellus, as he is
styled by Theodoret, a bishop animated with apostolic fervor, resolved
to level with the ground the stately temples within the diocese of
Apamea. His attack was resisted by the skill and solidity with which the
temple of Jupiter had been constructed. The building was seated on an
eminence: on each of the four sides, the lofty roof was supported by
fifteen massy columns, sixteen feet in circumference; and the large
stone, of which they were composed, were firmly cemented with lead
and iron. The force of the strongest and sharpest tools had been tried
without effect. It was found necessary to undermine the foundations of
the columns, which fell down as soon as the temporary wooden props had
been consumed with fire; and the difficulties of the enterprise are
described under the allegory of a black dæmon, who retarded, though he
could not defeat, the operations of the Christian engineers. Elated
with victory, Marcellus took the field in person against the powers of
darkness; a numerous troop of soldiers and gladiators marched under the
episcopal banner, and he successively attacked the villages and country
temples of the diocese of Apamea. Whenever any resistance or danger was
apprehended, the champion of the faith, whose lameness would not allow
him either to fight or fly, placed himself at a convenient distance,
beyond the reach of darts. But this prudence was the occasion of his
death: he was surprised and slain by a body of exasperated rustics; and
the synod of the province pronounced, without hesitation, that the holy
Marcellus had sacrificed his life in the cause of God. In the support of
this cause, the monks, who rushed with tumultuous fury from the desert,
distinguished themselves by their zeal and diligence. They deserved the
enmity of the Pagans; and some of them might deserve the reproaches of
avarice and intemperance; of avarice, which they gratified with holy
plunder, and of intemperance, which they indulged at the expense of the
people, who foolishly admired their tattered garments, loud psalmody,
and artificial paleness. A small number of temples was protected by
the fears, the venality, the taste, or the prudence, of the civil and
ecclesiastical governors. The temple of the Celestial Venus at Carthage,
whose sacred precincts formed a circumference of two miles, was
judiciously converted into a Christian church; and a similar
consecration has preserved inviolate the majestic dome of the Pantheon
at Rome. But in almost every province of the Roman world, an army
of fanatics, without authority, and without discipline, invaded
the peaceful inhabitants; and the ruin of the fairest structures of
antiquity still displays the ravages of those Barbarians, who alone had
time and inclination to execute such laborious destruction.

In this wide and various prospect of devastation, the spectator may
distinguish the ruins of the temple of Serapis, at Alexandria. Serapis
does not appear to have been one of the native gods, or monsters, who
sprung from the fruitful soil of superstitious Egypt. The first of
the Ptolemies had been commanded, by a dream, to import the mysterious
stranger from the coast of Pontus, where he had been long adored by
the inhabitants of Sinope; but his attributes and his reign were so
imperfectly understood, that it became a subject of dispute, whether
he represented the bright orb of day, or the gloomy monarch of the
subterraneous regions. The Egyptians, who were obstinately devoted
to the religion of their fathers, refused to admit this foreign deity
within the walls of their cities. But the obsequious priests, who
were seduced by the liberality of the Ptolemies, submitted, without
resistance, to the power of the god of Pontus: an honorable and domestic
genealogy was provided; and this fortunate usurper was introduced into
the throne and bed of Osiris, the husband of Isis, and the celestial
monarch of Egypt. Alexandria, which claimed his peculiar protection,
gloried in the name of the city of Serapis. His temple, which rivalled
the pride and magnificence of the Capitol, was erected on the spacious
summit of an artificial mount, raised one hundred steps above the level
of the adjacent parts of the city; and the interior cavity was strongly
supported by arches, and distributed into vaults and subterraneous
apartments. The consecrated buildings were surrounded by a quadrangular
portico; the stately halls, and exquisite statues, displayed the triumph
of the arts; and the treasures of ancient learning were preserved in the
famous Alexandrian library, which had arisen with new splendor from
its ashes. After the edicts of Theodosius had severely prohibited the
sacrifices of the Pagans, they were still tolerated in the city and
temple of Serapis; and this singular indulgence was imprudently ascribed
to the superstitious terrors of the Christians themselves; as if they
had feared to abolish those ancient rites, which could alone secure the
inundations of the Nile, the harvests of Egypt, and the subsistence of
Constantinople.

At that time the archiepiscopal throne of Alexandria was filled by
Theophilus, the perpetual enemy of peace and virtue; a bold, bad man,
whose hands were alternately polluted with gold and with blood. His
pious indignation was excited by the honors of Serapis; and the insults
which he offered to an ancient temple of Bacchus, convinced the Pagans
that he meditated a more important and dangerous enterprise. In the
tumultuous capital of Egypt, the slightest provocation was sufficient to
inflame a civil war. The votaries of Serapis, whose strength and numbers
were much inferior to those of their antagonists, rose in arms at the
instigation of the philosopher Olympius, who exhorted them to die in
the defence of the altars of the gods. These Pagan fanatics fortified
themselves in the temple, or rather fortress, of Serapis; repelled the
besiegers by daring sallies, and a resolute defence; and, by the inhuman
cruelties which they exercised on their Christian prisoners, obtained
the last consolation of despair. The efforts of the prudent magistrate
were usefully exerted for the establishment of a truce, till the answer
of Theodosius should determine the fate of Serapis. The two parties
assembled, without arms, in the principal square; and the Imperial
rescript was publicly read. But when a sentence of destruction against
the idols of Alexandria was pronounced, the Christians set up a shout of
joy and exultation, whilst the unfortunate Pagans, whose fury had given
way to consternation, retired with hasty and silent steps, and
eluded, by their flight or obscurity, the resentment of their enemies.
Theophilus proceeded to demolish the temple of Serapis, without any
other difficulties, than those which he found in the weight and solidity
of the materials: but these obstacles proved so insuperable, that he was
obliged to leave the foundations; and to content himself with reducing
the edifice itself to a heap of rubbish, a part of which was soon
afterwards cleared away, to make room for a church, erected in honor of
the Christian martyrs. The valuable library of Alexandria was pillaged
or destroyed; and near twenty years afterwards, the appearance of the
empty shelves excited the regret and indignation of every spectator,
whose mind was not totally darkened by religious prejudice. The
compositions of ancient genius, so many of which have irretrievably
perished, might surely have been excepted from the wreck of idolatry,
for the amusement and instruction of succeeding ages; and either the
zeal or the avarice of the archbishop, might have been satiated with the
rich spoils, which were the reward of his victory. While the images
and vases of gold and silver were carefully melted, and those of a less
valuable metal were contemptuously broken, and cast into the streets,
Theophilus labored to expose the frauds and vices of the ministers of
the idols; their dexterity in the management of the loadstone; their
secret methods of introducing a human actor into a hollow statue;
and their scandalous abuse of the confidence of devout husbands and
unsuspecting females. Charges like these may seem to deserve some degree
of credit, as they are not repugnant to the crafty and interested
spirit of superstition. But the same spirit is equally prone to the base
practice of insulting and calumniating a fallen enemy; and our belief is
naturally checked by the reflection, that it is much less difficult
to invent a fictitious story, than to support a practical fraud. The
colossal statue of Serapis was involved in the ruin of his temple and
religion. A great number of plates of different metals, artificially
joined together, composed the majestic figure of the deity, who touched
on either side the walls of the sanctuary. The aspect of Serapis, his
sitting posture, and the sceptre, which he bore in his left hand, were
extremely similar to the ordinary representations of Jupiter. He was
distinguished from Jupiter by the basket, or bushel, which was placed on
his head; and by the emblematic monster which he held in his right hand;
the head and body of a serpent branching into three tails, which were
again terminated by the triple heads of a dog, a lion, and a wolf.
It was confidently affirmed, that if any impious hand should dare
to violate the majesty of the god, the heavens and the earth would
instantly return to their original chaos. An intrepid soldier, animated
by zeal, and armed with a weighty battle-axe, ascended the ladder; and
even the Christian multitude expected, with some anxiety, the event of
the combat. He aimed a vigorous stroke against the cheek of Serapis;
the cheek fell to the ground; the thunder was still silent, and both the
heavens and the earth continued to preserve their accustomed order and
tranquillity. The victorious soldier repeated his blows: the huge idol
was overthrown, and broken in pieces; and the limbs of Serapis were
ignominiously dragged through the streets of Alexandria. His mangled
carcass was burnt in the Amphitheatre, amidst the shouts of the
populace; and many persons attributed their conversion to this discovery
of the impotence of their tutelar deity. The popular modes of religion,
that propose any visible and material objects of worship, have the
advantage of adapting and familiarizing themselves to the senses of
mankind: but this advantage is counterbalanced by the various and
inevitable accidents to which the faith of the idolater is exposed.
It is scarcely possible, that, in every disposition of mind, he should
preserve his implicit reverence for the idols, or the relics, which the
naked eye, and the profane hand, are unable to distinguish from the
most common productions of art or nature; and if, in the hour of danger,
their secret and miraculous virtue does not operate for their own
preservation, he scorns the vain apologies of his priests, and justly
derides the object, and the folly, of his superstitious attachment.
After the fall of Serapis, some hopes were still entertained by the
Pagans, that the Nile would refuse his annual supply to the impious
masters of Egypt; and the extraordinary delay of the inundation seemed
to announce the displeasure of the river-god. But this delay was soon
compensated by the rapid swell of the waters. They suddenly rose to
such an unusual height, as to comfort the discontented party with the
pleasing expectation of a deluge; till the peaceful river again subsided
to the well-known and fertilizing level of sixteen cubits, or about
thirty English feet.

The temples of the Roman empire were deserted, or destroyed; but the
ingenious superstition of the Pagans still attempted to elude the laws
of Theodosius, by which all sacrifices had been severely prohibited. The
inhabitants of the country, whose conduct was less opposed to the eye of
malicious curiosity, disguised their _religious_, under the appearance
of _convivial_, meetings. On the days of solemn festivals, they
assembled in great numbers under the spreading shade of some consecrated
trees; sheep and oxen were slaughtered and roasted; and this rural
entertainment was sanctified by the use of incense, and by the hymns
which were sung in honor of the gods. But it was alleged, that, as no
part of the animal was made a burnt-offering, as no altar was provided
to receive the blood, and as the previous oblation of salt cakes, and
the concluding ceremony of libations, were carefully omitted, these
festal meetings did not involve the guests in the guilt, or penalty, of
an illegal sacrifice. Whatever might be the truth of the facts, or the
merit of the distinction, these vain pretences were swept away by
the last edict of Theodosius, which inflicted a deadly wound on the
superstition of the Pagans. This prohibitory law is expressed in the
most absolute and comprehensive terms. "It is our will and pleasure,"
says the emperor, "that none of our subjects, whether magistrates or
private citizens, however exalted or however humble may be their rank
and condition, shall presume, in any city or in any place, to worship
an inanimate idol, by the sacrifice of a guiltless victim." The act
of sacrificing, and the practice of divination by the entrails of the
victim, are declared (without any regard to the object of the inquiry)
a crime of high treason against the state, which can be expiated only
by the death of the guilty. The rites of Pagan superstition, which might
seem less bloody and atrocious, are abolished, as highly injurious to
the truth and honor of religion; luminaries, garlands, frankincense,
and libations of wine, are specially enumerated and condemned; and
the harmless claims of the domestic genius, of the household gods, are
included in this rigorous proscription. The use of any of these profane
and illegal ceremonies, subjects the offender to the forfeiture of the
house or estate, where they have been performed; and if he has artfully
chosen the property of another for the scene of his impiety, he is
compelled to discharge, without delay, a heavy fine of twenty-five
pounds of gold, or more than one thousand pounds sterling. A fine, not
less considerable, is imposed on the connivance of the secret enemies
of religion, who shall neglect the duty of their respective stations,
either to reveal, or to punish, the guilt of idolatry. Such was the
persecuting spirit of the laws of Theodosius, which were repeatedly
enforced by his sons and grandsons, with the loud and unanimous applause
of the Christian world.



Chapter XXVIII: Destruction Of Paganism.--Part III.

In the cruel reigns of Decius and Dioclesian, Christianity had been
proscribed, as a revolt from the ancient and hereditary religion of the
empire; and the unjust suspicions which were entertained of a dark
and dangerous faction, were, in some measure, countenanced by the
inseparable union and rapid conquests of the Catholic church. But the
same excuses of fear and ignorance cannot be applied to the Christian
emperors who violated the precepts of humanity and of the Gospel. The
experience of ages had betrayed the weakness, as well as folly, of
Paganism; the light of reason and of faith had already exposed, to the
greatest part of mankind, the vanity of idols; and the declining sect,
which still adhered to their worship, might have been permitted
to enjoy, in peace and obscurity, the religious costumes of their
ancestors. Had the Pagans been animated by the undaunted zeal which
possessed the minds of the primitive believers, the triumph of the
Church must have been stained with blood; and the martyrs of Jupiter and
Apollo might have embraced the glorious opportunity of devoting their
lives and fortunes at the foot of their altars. But such obstinate zeal
was not congenial to the loose and careless temper of Polytheism. The
violent and repeated strokes of the orthodox princes were broken by the
soft and yielding substance against which they were directed; and
the ready obedience of the Pagans protected them from the pains and
penalties of the Theodosian Code. Instead of asserting, that the
authority of the gods was superior to that of the emperor, they
desisted, with a plaintive murmur, from the use of those sacred rites
which their sovereign had condemned. If they were sometimes tempted by
a sally of passion, or by the hopes of concealment, to indulge their
favorite superstition, their humble repentance disarmed the severity
of the Christian magistrate, and they seldom refused to atone for their
rashness, by submitting, with some secret reluctance, to the yoke of the
Gospel. The churches were filled with the increasing multitude of these
unworthy proselytes, who had conformed, from temporal motives, to the
reigning religion; and whilst they devoutly imitated the postures, and
recited the prayers, of the faithful, they satisfied their conscience
by the silent and sincere invocation of the gods of antiquity. If the
Pagans wanted patience to suffer they wanted spirit to resist; and
the scattered myriads, who deplored the ruin of the temples, yielded,
without a contest, to the fortune of their adversaries. The disorderly
opposition of the peasants of Syria, and the populace of Alexandria, to
the rage of private fanaticism, was silenced by the name and authority
of the emperor. The Pagans of the West, without contributing to the
elevation of Eugenius, disgraced, by their partial attachment, the cause
and character of the usurper. The clergy vehemently exclaimed, that he
aggravated the crime of rebellion by the guilt of apostasy; that, by
his permission, the altar of victory was again restored; and that the
idolatrous symbols of Jupiter and Hercules were displayed in the field,
against the invincible standard of the cross. But the vain hopes of the
Pagans were soon annihilated by the defeat of Eugenius; and they were
left exposed to the resentment of the conqueror, who labored to deserve
the favor of Heaven by the extirpation of idolatry.

A nation of slaves is always prepared to applaud the clemency of their
master, who, in the abuse of absolute power, does not proceed to the
last extremes of injustice and oppression. Theodosius might undoubtedly
have proposed to his Pagan subjects the alternative of baptism or of
death; and the eloquent Libanius has praised the moderation of a prince,
who never enacted, by any positive law, that all his subjects should
immediately embrace and practise the religion of their sovereign. The
profession of Christianity was not made an essential qualification for
the enjoyment of the civil rights of society, nor were any peculiar
hardships imposed on the sectaries, who credulously received the fables
of Ovid, and obstinately rejected the miracles of the Gospel. The
palace, the schools, the army, and the senate, were filled with declared
and devout Pagans; they obtained, without distinction, the civil and
military honors of the empire. Theodosius distinguished his liberal
regard for virtue and genius by the consular dignity, which he bestowed
on Symmachus; and by the personal friendship which he expressed to
Libanius; and the two eloquent apologists of Paganism were never
required either to change or to dissemble their religious opinions.
The Pagans were indulged in the most licentious freedom of speech and
writing; the historical and philosophic remains of Eunapius, Zosimus,
and the fanatic teachers of the school of Plato, betray the most furious
animosity, and contain the sharpest invectives, against the sentiments
and conduct of their victorious adversaries. If these audacious libels
were publicly known, we must applaud the good sense of the Christian
princes, who viewed, with a smile of contempt, the last struggles of
superstition and despair. But the Imperial laws, which prohibited the
sacrifices and ceremonies of Paganism, were rigidly executed; and every
hour contributed to destroy the influence of a religion, which was
supported by custom, rather than by argument. The devotion or the poet,
or the philosopher, may be secretly nourished by prayer, meditation, and
study; but the exercise of public worship appears to be the only solid
foundation of the religious sentiments of the people, which derive their
force from imitation and habit. The interruption of that public exercise
may consummate, in the period of a few years, the important work of a
national revolution. The memory of theological opinions cannot long be
preserved, without the artificial helps of priests, of temples, and of
books. The ignorant vulgar, whose minds are still agitated by the blind
hopes and terrors of superstition, will be soon persuaded by their
superiors to direct their vows to the reigning deities of the age; and
will insensibly imbibe an ardent zeal for the support and propagation
of the new doctrine, which spiritual hunger at first compelled them to
accept. The generation that arose in the world after the promulgation of
the Imperial laws, was attracted within the pale of the Catholic
church: and so rapid, yet so gentle, was the fall of Paganism, that only
twenty-eight years after the death of Theodosius, the faint and minute
vestiges were no longer visible to the eye of the legislator.

The ruin of the Pagan religion is described by the sophists as a
dreadful and amazing prodigy, which covered the earth with darkness,
and restored the ancient dominion of chaos and of night. They relate,
in solemn and pathetic strains, that the temples were converted into
sepulchres, and that the holy places, which had been adorned by the
statues of the gods, were basely polluted by the relics of Christian
martyrs. "The monks" (a race of filthy animals, to whom Eunapius is
tempted to refuse the name of men) "are the authors of the new
worship, which, in the place of those deities who are conceived by the
understanding, has substituted the meanest and most contemptible slaves.
The heads, salted and pickled, of those infamous malefactors, who for
the multitude of their crimes have suffered a just and ignominious
death; their bodies still marked by the impression of the lash, and
the scars of those tortures which were inflicted by the sentence of the
magistrate; such" (continues Eunapius) "are the gods which the earth
produces in our days; such are the martyrs, the supreme arbitrators of
our prayers and petitions to the Deity, whose tombs are now consecrated
as the objects of the veneration of the people." Without approving the
malice, it is natural enough to share the surprise of the sophist, the
spectator of a revolution, which raised those obscure victims of the
laws of Rome to the rank of celestial and invisible protectors of the
Roman empire. The grateful respect of the Christians for the martyrs of
the faith, was exalted, by time and victory, into religious adoration;
and the most illustrious of the saints and prophets were deservedly
associated to the honors of the martyrs. One hundred and fifty years
after the glorious deaths of St. Peter and St. Paul, the Vatican and the
Ostian road were distinguished by the tombs, or rather by the trophies,
of those spiritual heroes. In the age which followed the conversion
of Constantine, the emperors, the consuls, and the generals of armies,
devoutly visited the sepulchres of a tentmaker and a fisherman; and
their venerable bones were deposited under the altars of Christ, on
which the bishops of the royal city continually offered the unbloody
sacrifice. The new capital of the Eastern world, unable to produce any
ancient and domestic trophies, was enriched by the spoils of dependent
provinces. The bodies of St. Andrew, St. Luke, and St. Timothy, had
reposed near three hundred years in the obscure graves, from whence they
were transported, in solemn pomp, to the church of the apostles, which
the magnificence of Constantine had founded on the banks of the Thracian
Bosphorus. About fifty years afterwards, the same banks were honored by
the presence of Samuel, the judge and prophet of the people of Israel.
His ashes, deposited in a golden vase, and covered with a silken veil,
were delivered by the bishops into each other's hands. The relics of
Samuel were received by the people with the same joy and reverence
which they would have shown to the living prophet; the highways,
from Palestine to the gates of Constantinople, were filled with an
uninterrupted procession; and the emperor Arcadius himself, at the head
of the most illustrious members of the clergy and senate, advanced to
meet his extraordinary guest, who had always deserved and claimed the
homage of kings. The example of Rome and Constantinople confirmed the
faith and discipline of the Catholic world. The honors of the saints and
martyrs, after a feeble and ineffectual murmur of profane reason, were
universally established; and in the age of Ambrose and Jerom, something
was still deemed wanting to the sanctity of a Christian church, till
it had been consecrated by some portion of holy relics, which fixed and
inflamed the devotion of the faithful.

In the long period of twelve hundred years, which elapsed between the
reign of Constantine and the reformation of Luther, the worship of
saints and relics corrupted the pure and perfect simplicity of the
Christian model: and some symptoms of degeneracy may be observed even
in the first generations which adopted and cherished this pernicious
innovation.

I. The satisfactory experience, that the relics of saints were more
valuable than gold or precious stones, stimulated the clergy to
multiply the treasures of the church. Without much regard for truth or
probability, they invented names for skeletons, and actions for names.
The fame of the apostles, and of the holy men who had imitated their
virtues, was darkened by religious fiction. To the invincible band of
genuine and primitive martyrs, they added myriads of imaginary heroes,
who had never existed, except in the fancy of crafty or credulous
legendaries; and there is reason to suspect, that Tours might not be the
only diocese in which the bones of a malefactor were adored, instead of
those of a saint. A superstitious practice, which tended to increase the
temptations of fraud, and credulity, insensibly extinguished the light
of history, and of reason, in the Christian world.

II. But the progress of superstition would have been much less rapid
and victorious, if the faith of the people had not been assisted by the
seasonable aid of visions and miracles, to ascertain the authenticity
and virtue of the most suspicious relics. In the reign of the younger
Theodosius, Lucian, a presbyter of Jerusalem, and the ecclesiastical
minister of the village of Caphargamala, about twenty miles from the
city, related a very singular dream, which, to remove his doubts, had
been repeated on three successive Saturdays. A venerable figure stood
before him, in the silence of the night, with a long beard, a white
robe, and a gold rod; announced himself by the name of Gamaliel, and
revealed to the astonished presbyter, that his own corpse, with the
bodies of his son Abibas, his friend Nicodemus, and the illustrious
Stephen, the first martyr of the Christian faith, were secretly buried
in the adjacent field. He added, with some impatience, that it was time
to release himself and his companions from their obscure prison; that
their appearance would be salutary to a distressed world; and that they
had made choice of Lucian to inform the bishop of Jerusalem of their
situation and their wishes. The doubts and difficulties which still
retarded this important discovery were successively removed by new
visions; and the ground was opened by the bishop, in the presence of an
innumerable multitude. The coffins of Gamaliel, of his son, and of his
friend, were found in regular order; but when the fourth coffin, which
contained the remains of Stephen, was shown to the light, the earth
trembled, and an odor, such as that of paradise, was smelt, which
instantly cured the various diseases of seventy-three of the assistants.
The companions of Stephen were left in their peaceful residence of
Caphargamala: but the relics of the first martyr were transported, in
solemn procession, to a church constructed in their honor on Mount
Sion; and the minute particles of those relics, a drop of blood, or the
scrapings of a bone, were acknowledged, in almost every province of the
Roman world, to possess a divine and miraculous virtue. The grave and
learned Augustin, whose understanding scarcely admits the excuse of
credulity, has attested the innumerable prodigies which were performed
in Africa by the relics of St. Stephen; and this marvellous narrative is
inserted in the elaborate work of the City of God, which the bishop
of Hippo designed as a solid and immortal proof of the truth of
Christianity. Augustin solemnly declares, that he has selected those
miracles only which were publicly certified by the persons who were
either the objects, or the spectators, of the power of the martyr. Many
prodigies were omitted, or forgotten; and Hippo had been less favorably
treated than the other cities of the province. And yet the bishop
enumerates above seventy miracles, of which three were resurrections
from the dead, in the space of two years, and within the limits of his
own diocese. If we enlarge our view to all the dioceses, and all the
saints, of the Christian world, it will not be easy to calculate the
fables, and the errors, which issued from this inexhaustible source.
But we may surely be allowed to observe, that a miracle, in that age of
superstition and credulity, lost its name and its merit, since it could
scarcely be considered as a deviation from the ordinary and established
laws of nature.

III. The innumerable miracles, of which the tombs of the martyrs were
the perpetual theatre, revealed to the pious believer the actual state
and constitution of the invisible world; and his religious speculations
appeared to be founded on the firm basis of fact and experience.
Whatever might be the condition of vulgar souls, in the long interval
between the dissolution and the resurrection of their bodies, it was
evident that the superior spirits of the saints and martyrs did not
consume that portion of their existence in silent and inglorious sleep.
It was evident (without presuming to determine the place of their
habitation, or the nature of their felicity) that they enjoyed the
lively and active consciousness of their happiness, their virtue, and
their powers; and that they had already secured the possession of
their eternal reward. The enlargement of their intellectual faculties
surpassed the measure of the human imagination; since it was proved
by experience, that they were capable of hearing and understanding the
various petitions of their numerous votaries; who, in the same moment of
time, but in the most distant parts of the world, invoked the name and
assistance of Stephen or of Martin. The confidence of their petitioners
was founded on the persuasion, that the saints, who reigned with Christ,
cast an eye of pity upon earth; that they were warmly interested in
the prosperity of the Catholic Church; and that the individuals, who
imitated the example of their faith and piety, were the peculiar and
favorite objects of their most tender regard. Sometimes, indeed, their
friendship might be influenced by considerations of a less exalted kind:
they viewed with partial affection the places which had been consecrated
by their birth, their residence, their death, their burial, or the
possession of their relics. The meaner passions of pride, avarice, and
revenge, may be deemed unworthy of a celestial breast; yet the saints
themselves condescended to testify their grateful approbation of the
liberality of their votaries; and the sharpest bolts of punishment were
hurled against those impious wretches, who violated their magnificent
shrines, or disbelieved their supernatural power. Atrocious, indeed,
must have been the guilt, and strange would have been the scepticism,
of those men, if they had obstinately resisted the proofs of a divine
agency, which the elements, the whole range of the animal creation,
and even the subtle and invisible operations of the human mind, were
compelled to obey. The immediate, and almost instantaneous, effects
that were supposed to follow the prayer, or the offence, satisfied the
Christians of the ample measure of favor and authority which the
saints enjoyed in the presence of the Supreme God; and it seemed
almost superfluous to inquire whether they were continually obliged
to intercede before the throne of grace; or whether they might not be
permitted to exercise, according to the dictates of their benevolence
and justice, the delegated powers of their subordinate ministry.
The imagination, which had been raised by a painful effort to the
contemplation and worship of the Universal Cause, eagerly embraced such
inferior objects of adoration as were more proportioned to its gross
conceptions and imperfect faculties. The sublime and simple theology of
the primitive Christians was gradually corrupted; and the Monarchy of
heaven, already clouded by metaphysical subtleties, was degraded by the
introduction of a popular mythology, which tended to restore the reign
of polytheism.

IV. As the objects of religion were gradually reduced to the standard
of the imagination, the rites and ceremonies were introduced that seemed
most powerfully to affect the senses of the vulgar. If, in the beginning
of the fifth century, Tertullian, or Lactantius, had been suddenly
raised from the dead, to assist at the festival of some popular saint,
or martyr, they would have gazed with astonishment, and indignation,
on the profane spectacle, which had succeeded to the pure and spiritual
worship of a Christian congregation. As soon as the doors of the church
were thrown open, they must have been offended by the smoke of incense,
the perfume of flowers, and the glare of lamps and tapers, which
diffused, at noonday, a gaudy, superfluous, and, in their opinion, a
sacrilegious light. If they approached the balustrade of the altar, they
made their way through the prostrate crowd, consisting, for the most
part, of strangers and pilgrims, who resorted to the city on the
vigil of the feast; and who already felt the strong intoxication of
fanaticism, and, perhaps, of wine. Their devout kisses were imprinted on
the walls and pavement of the sacred edifice; and their fervent prayers
were directed, whatever might be the language of their church, to
the bones, the blood, or the ashes of the saint, which were usually
concealed, by a linen or silken veil, from the eyes of the vulgar.
The Christians frequented the tombs of the martyrs, in the hope of
obtaining, from their powerful intercession, every sort of spiritual,
but more especially of temporal, blessings. They implored the
preservation of their health, or the cure of their infirmities; the
fruitfulness of their barren wives, or the safety and happiness of their
children. Whenever they undertook any distant or dangerous journey, they
requested, that the holy martyrs would be their guides and protectors
on the road; and if they returned without having experienced any
misfortune, they again hastened to the tombs of the martyrs, to
celebrate, with grateful thanksgivings, their obligations to the memory
and relics of those heavenly patrons. The walls were hung round with
symbols of the favors which they had received; eyes, and hands, and
feet, of gold and silver: and edifying pictures, which could not long
escape the abuse of indiscreet or idolatrous devotion, represented the
image, the attributes, and the miracles of the tutelar saint. The same
uniform original spirit of superstition might suggest, in the most
distant ages and countries, the same methods of deceiving the credulity,
and of affecting the senses of mankind: but it must ingenuously be
confessed, that the ministers of the Catholic church imitated
the profane model, which they were impatient to destroy. The most
respectable bishops had persuaded themselves that the ignorant rustics
would more cheerfully renounce the superstitions of Paganism, if they
found some resemblance, some compensation, in the bosom of Christianity.
The religion of Constantine achieved, in less than a century, the final
conquest of the Roman empire: but the victors themselves were insensibly
subdued by the arts of their vanquished rivals.



Chapter XXIX: Division Of Roman Empire Between Sons Of Theodosius.--Part I.

     Final Division Of The Roman Empire Between The Sons Of
     Theodosius.--Reign Of Arcadius And Honorius--
     Administration Of Rufinus And Stilicho.--Revolt And Defeat
     Of Gildo In Africa.

The genius of Rome expired with Theodosius; the last of the successors
of Augustus and Constantine, who appeared in the field at the head
of their armies, and whose authority was universally acknowledged
throughout the whole extent of the empire. The memory of his virtues
still continued, however, to protect the feeble and inexperienced youth
of his two sons. After the death of their father, Arcadius and Honorius
were saluted, by the unanimous consent of mankind, as the lawful
emperors of the East, and of the West; and the oath of fidelity was
eagerly taken by every order of the state; the senates of old and
new Rome, the clergy, the magistrates, the soldiers, and the people.
Arcadius, who was then about eighteen years of age, was born in Spain,
in the humble habitation of a private family. But he received a princely
education in the palace of Constantinople; and his inglorious life was
spent in that peaceful and splendid seat of royalty, from whence he
appeared to reign over the provinces of Thrace, Asia Minor, Syria, and
Egypt, from the Lower Danube to the confines of Persia and Æthiopia. His
younger brother Honorius, assumed, in the eleventh year of his age, the
nominal government of Italy, Africa, Gaul, Spain, and Britain; and the
troops, which guarded the frontiers of his kingdom, were opposed, on one
side, to the Caledonians, and on the other, to the Moors. The great and
martial præfecture of Illyricum was divided between the two princes:
the defence and possession of the provinces of Noricum, Pannonia,
and Dalmatia still belonged to the Western empire; but the two large
dioceses of Dacia and Macedonia, which Gratian had intrusted to the
valor of Theodosius, were forever united to the empire of the East.
The boundary in Europe was not very different from the line which now
separates the Germans and the Turks; and the respective advantages of
territory, riches, populousness, and military strength, were fairly
balanced and compensated, in this final and permanent division of the
Roman empire. The hereditary sceptre of the sons of Theodosius appeared
to be the gift of nature, and of their father; the generals and
ministers had been accustomed to adore the majesty of the royal infants;
and the army and people were not admonished of their rights, and of
their power, by the dangerous example of a recent election. The gradual
discovery of the weakness of Arcadius and Honorius, and the repeated
calamities of their reign, were not sufficient to obliterate the deep
and early impressions of loyalty. The subjects of Rome, who still
reverenced the persons, or rather the names, of their sovereigns,
beheld, with equal abhorrence, the rebels who opposed, and the ministers
who abused, the authority of the throne.

Theodosius had tarnished the glory of his reign by the elevation of
Rufinus; an odious favorite, who, in an age of civil and religious
faction, has deserved, from every party, the imputation of every crime.
The strong impulse of ambition and avarice had urged Rufinus to abandon
his native country, an obscure corner of Gaul, to advance his fortune
in the capital of the East: the talent of bold and ready elocution,
qualified him to succeed in the lucrative profession of the law; and his
success in that profession was a regular step to the most honorable and
important employments of the state. He was raised, by just degrees, to
the station of master of the offices. In the exercise of his various
functions, so essentially connected with the whole system of civil
government, he acquired the confidence of a monarch, who soon discovered
his diligence and capacity in business, and who long remained ignorant
of the pride, the malice, and the covetousness of his disposition. These
vices were concealed beneath the mask of profound dissimulation; his
passions were subservient only to the passions of his master; yet in the
horrid massacre of Thessalonica, the cruel Rufinus inflamed the fury,
without imitating the repentance, of Theodosius. The minister, who
viewed with proud indifference the rest of mankind, never forgave the
appearance of an injury; and his personal enemies had forfeited, in his
opinion, the merit of all public services. Promotus, the master-general
of the infantry, had saved the empire from the invasion of the
Ostrogoths; but he indignantly supported the preeminence of a rival,
whose character and profession he despised; and in the midst of a public
council, the impatient soldier was provoked to chastise with a blow the
indecent pride of the favorite. This act of violence was represented
to the emperor as an insult, which it was incumbent on his dignity
to resent. The disgrace and exile of Promotus were signified by a
peremptory order, to repair, without delay, to a military station on the
banks of the Danube; and the death of that general (though he was slain
in a skirmish with the Barbarians) was imputed to the perfidious arts
of Rufinus. The sacrifice of a hero gratified his revenge; the honors of
the consulship elated his vanity; but his power was still imperfect and
precarious, as long as the important posts of præfect of the East,
and of præfect of Constantinople, were filled by Tatian, and his son
Proculus; whose united authority balanced, for some time, the ambition
and favor of the master of the offices. The two præfects were accused
of rapine and corruption in the administration of the laws and finances.
For the trial of these illustrious offenders, the emperor constituted
a special commission: several judges were named to share the guilt
and reproach of injustice; but the right of pronouncing sentence was
reserved to the president alone, and that president was Rufinus himself.
The father, stripped of the præfecture of the East, was thrown into
a dungeon; but the son, conscious that few ministers can be found
innocent, where an enemy is their judge, had secretly escaped; and
Rufinus must have been satisfied with the least obnoxious victim, if
despotism had not condescended to employ the basest and most ungenerous
artifice. The prosecution was conducted with an appearance of equity and
moderation, which flattered Tatian with the hope of a favorable event:
his confidence was fortified by the solemn assurances, and perfidious
oaths, of the president, who presumed to interpose the sacred name of
Theodosius himself; and the unhappy father was at last persuaded to
recall, by a private letter, the fugitive Proculus. He was instantly
seized, examined, condemned, and beheaded, in one of the suburbs of
Constantinople, with a precipitation which disappointed the clemency of
the emperor. Without respecting the misfortunes of a consular senator,
the cruel judges of Tatian compelled him to behold the execution of his
son: the fatal cord was fastened round his own neck; but in the moment
when he expected and perhaps desired, the relief of a speedy death, he
was permitted to consume the miserable remnant of his old age in poverty
and exile. The punishment of the two præfects might, perhaps, be excused
by the exceptionable parts of their own conduct; the enmity of Rufinus
might be palliated by the jealous and unsociable nature of ambition.
But he indulged a spirit of revenge equally repugnant to prudence and to
justice, when he degraded their native country of Lycia from the rank of
Roman provinces; stigmatized a guiltless people with a mark of ignominy;
and declared, that the countrymen of Tatian and Proculus should forever
remain incapable of holding any employment of honor or advantage under
the Imperial government. The new præfect of the East (for Rufinus
instantly succeeded to the vacant honors of his adversary) was not
diverted, however, by the most criminal pursuits, from the performance
of the religious duties, which in that age were considered as the most
essential to salvation. In the suburb of Chalcedon, surnamed the Oak,
he had built a magnificent villa; to which he devoutly added a stately
church, consecrated to the apostles St. Peter and St. Paul, and
continually sanctified by the prayers and penance of a regular society
of monks. A numerous, and almost general, synod of the bishops of
the Eastern empire, was summoned to celebrate, at the same time, the
dedication of the church, and the baptism of the founder. This double
ceremony was performed with extraordinary pomp; and when Rufinus was
purified, in the holy font, from all the sins that he had hitherto
committed, a venerable hermit of Egypt rashly proposed himself as the
sponsor of a proud and ambitious statesman.

The character of Theodosius imposed on his minister the task of
hypocrisy, which disguised, and sometimes restrained, the abuse of
power; and Rufinus was apprehensive of disturbing the indolent slumber
of a prince still capable of exerting the abilities and the virtue,
which had raised him to the throne. But the absence, and, soon
afterwards, the death, of the emperor, confirmed the absolute authority
of Rufinus over the person and dominions of Arcadius; a feeble youth,
whom the imperious præfect considered as his pupil, rather than his
sovereign. Regardless of the public opinion, he indulged his passions
without remorse, and without resistance; and his malignant and rapacious
spirit rejected every passion that might have contributed to his own
glory, or the happiness of the people. His avarice, which seems to have
prevailed, in his corrupt mind, over every other sentiment, attracted
the wealth of the East, by the various arts of partial and general
extortion; oppressive taxes, scandalous bribery, immoderate fines,
unjust confiscations, forced or fictitious testaments, by which the
tyrant despoiled of their lawful inheritance the children of strangers,
or enemies; and the public sale of justice, as well as of favor, which
he instituted in the palace of Constantinople. The ambitious candidate
eagerly solicited, at the expense of the fairest part of his patrimony,
the honors and emoluments of some provincial government; the lives
and fortunes of the unhappy people were abandoned to the most liberal
purchaser; and the public discontent was sometimes appeased by the
sacrifice of an unpopular criminal, whose punishment was profitable only
to the præfect of the East, his accomplice and his judge. If avarice
were not the blindest of the human passions, the motives of Rufinus
might excite our curiosity; and we might be tempted to inquire with what
view he violated every principle of humanity and justice, to accumulate
those immense treasures, which he could not spend without folly, nor
possess without danger. Perhaps he vainly imagined, that he labored
for the interest of an only daughter, on whom he intended to bestow
his royal pupil, and the august rank of Empress of the East. Perhaps he
deceived himself by the opinion, that his avarice was the instrument
of his ambition. He aspired to place his fortune on a secure and
independent basis, which should no longer depend on the caprice of the
young emperor; yet he neglected to conciliate the hearts of the soldiers
and people, by the liberal distribution of those riches, which he
had acquired with so much toil, and with so much guilt. The extreme
parsimony of Rufinus left him only the reproach and envy of ill-gotten
wealth; his dependants served him without attachment; the universal
hatred of mankind was repressed only by the influence of servile fear.
The fate of Lucian proclaimed to the East, that the præfect, whose
industry was much abated in the despatch of ordinary business, was
active and indefatigable in the pursuit of revenge. Lucian, the son of
the præfect Florentius, the oppressor of Gaul, and the enemy of Julian,
had employed a considerable part of his inheritance, the fruit of rapine
and corruption, to purchase the friendship of Rufinus, and the high
office of Count of the East. But the new magistrate imprudently departed
from the maxims of the court, and of the times; disgraced his benefactor
by the contrast of a virtuous and temperate administration; and presumed
to refuse an act of injustice, which might have tended to the profit
of the emperor's uncle. Arcadius was easily persuaded to resent the
supposed insult; and the præfect of the East resolved to execute in
person the cruel vengeance, which he meditated against this ungrateful
delegate of his power. He performed with incessant speed the journey of
seven or eight hundred miles, from Constantinople to Antioch, entered
the capital of Syria at the dead of night, and spread universal
consternation among a people ignorant of his design, but not ignorant
of his character. The Count of the fifteen provinces of the East was
dragged, like the vilest malefactor, before the arbitrary tribunal of
Rufinus. Notwithstanding the clearest evidence of his integrity, which
was not impeached even by the voice of an accuser, Lucian was condemned,
almost with out a trial, to suffer a cruel and ignominious punishment.
The ministers of the tyrant, by the orders, and in the presence, of
their master, beat him on the neck with leather thongs armed at the
extremities with lead; and when he fainted under the violence of the
pain, he was removed in a close litter, to conceal his dying agonies
from the eyes of the indignant city. No sooner had Rufinus perpetrated
this inhuman act, the sole object of his expedition, than he returned,
amidst the deep and silent curses of a trembling people, from Antioch
to Constantinople; and his diligence was accelerated by the hope of
accomplishing, without delay, the nuptials of his daughter with the
emperor of the East.

But Rufinus soon experienced, that a prudent minister should constantly
secure his royal captive by the strong, though invisible chain of habit;
and that the merit, and much more easily the favor, of the absent,
are obliterated in a short time from the mind of a weak and capricious
sovereign. While the præfect satiated his revenge at Antioch, a secret
conspiracy of the favorite eunuchs, directed by the great chamberlain
Eutropius, undermined his power in the palace of Constantinople. They
discovered that Arcadius was not inclined to love the daughter of
Rufinus, who had been chosen, without his consent, for his bride; and
they contrived to substitute in her place the fair Eudoxia, the daughter
of Bauto, a general of the Franks in the service of Rome; and who was
educated, since the death of her father, in the family of the sons of
Promotus. The young emperor, whose chastity had been strictly guarded by
the pious care of his tutor Arsenius, eagerly listened to the artful
and flattering descriptions of the charms of Eudoxia: he gazed with
impatient ardor on her picture, and he understood the necessity of
concealing his amorous designs from the knowledge of a minister who was
so deeply interested to oppose the consummation of his happiness. Soon
after the return of Rufinus, the approaching ceremony of the royal
nuptials was announced to the people of Constantinople, who prepared
to celebrate, with false and hollow acclamations, the fortune of his
daughter. A splendid train of eunuchs and officers issued, in hymeneal
pomp, from the gates of the palace; bearing aloft the diadem, the
robes, and the inestimable ornaments, of the future empress. The solemn
procession passed through the streets of the city, which were adorned
with garlands, and filled with spectators; but when it reached the house
of the sons of Promotus, the principal eunuch respectfully entered
the mansion, invested the fair Eudoxia with the Imperial robes, and
conducted her in triumph to the palace and bed of Arcadius. The
secrecy and success with which this conspiracy against Rufinus had been
conducted, imprinted a mark of indelible ridicule on the character of a
minister, who had suffered himself to be deceived, in a post where
the arts of deceit and dissimulation constitute the most distinguished
merit. He considered, with a mixture of indignation and fear, the
victory of an aspiring eunuch, who had secretly captivated the favor
of his sovereign; and the disgrace of his daughter, whose interest
was inseparably connected with his own, wounded the tenderness, or, at
least, the pride of Rufinus. At the moment when he flattered himself
that he should become the father of a line of kings, a foreign maid, who
had been educated in the house of his implacable enemies, was introduced
into the Imperial bed; and Eudoxia soon displayed a superiority of sense
and spirit, to improve the ascendant which her beauty must acquire
over the mind of a fond and youthful husband. The emperor would soon be
instructed to hate, to fear, and to destroy the powerful subject, whom
he had injured; and the consciousness of guilt deprived Rufinus of every
hope, either of safety or comfort, in the retirement of a private
life. But he still possessed the most effectual means of defending
his dignity, and perhaps of oppressing his enemies. The præfect
still exercised an uncontrolled authority over the civil and military
government of the East; and his treasures, if he could resolve to use
them, might be employed to procure proper instruments for the execution
of the blackest designs, that pride, ambition, and revenge could suggest
to a desperate statesman. The character of Rufinus seemed to justify the
accusations that he conspired against the person of his sovereign, to
seat himself on the vacant throne; and that he had secretly invited
the Huns and the Goths to invade the provinces of the empire, and to
increase the public confusion. The subtle præfect, whose life had been
spent in the intrigues of the palace, opposed, with equal arms, the
artful measures of the eunuch Eutropius; but the timid soul of Rufinus
was astonished by the hostile approach of a more formidable rival, of
the great Stilicho, the general, or rather the master, of the empire of
the West.

The celestial gift, which Achilles obtained, and Alexander envied, of
a poet worthy to celebrate the actions of heroes has been enjoyed by
Stilicho, in a much higher degree than might have been expected from the
declining state of genius, and of art. The muse of Claudian, devoted to
his service, was always prepared to stigmatize his adversaries, Rufinus,
or Eutropius, with eternal infamy; or to paint, in the most splendid
colors, the victories and virtues of a powerful benefactor. In the
review of a period indifferently supplied with authentic materials, we
cannot refuse to illustrate the annals of Honorius, from the invectives,
or the panegyrics, of a contemporary writer; but as Claudian appears to
have indulged the most ample privilege of a poet and a courtier, some
criticism will be requisite to translate the language of fiction or
exaggeration, into the truth and simplicity of historic prose. His
silence concerning the family of Stilicho may be admitted as a proof,
that his patron was neither able, nor desirous, to boast of a long
series of illustrious progenitors; and the slight mention of his father,
an officer of Barbarian cavalry in the service of Valens, seems to
countenance the assertion, that the general, who so long commanded the
armies of Rome, was descended from the savage and perfidious race of
the Vandals. If Stilicho had not possessed the external advantages of
strength and stature, the most flattering bard, in the presence of
so many thousand spectators, would have hesitated to affirm, that he
surpassed the measure of the demi-gods of antiquity; and that whenever
he moved, with lofty steps, through the streets of the capital, the
astonished crowd made room for the stranger, who displayed, in a private
condition, the awful majesty of a hero. From his earliest youth he
embraced the profession of arms; his prudence and valor were soon
distinguished in the field; the horsemen and archers of the East admired
his superior dexterity; and in each degree of his military promotions,
the public judgment always prevented and approved the choice of the
sovereign. He was named, by Theodosius, to ratify a solemn treaty with
the monarch of Persia; he supported, during that important embassy, the
dignity of the Roman name; and after he return to Constantinople,
his merit was rewarded by an intimate and honorable alliance with the
Imperial family. Theodosius had been prompted, by a pious motive of
fraternal affection, to adopt, for his own, the daughter of his brother
Honorius; the beauty and accomplishments of Serena were universally
admired by the obsequious court; and Stilicho obtained the preference
over a crowd of rivals, who ambitiously disputed the hand of the
princess, and the favor of her adopted father. The assurance that
the husband of Serena would be faithful to the throne, which he was
permitted to approach, engaged the emperor to exalt the fortunes, and to
employ the abilities, of the sagacious and intrepid Stilicho. He rose,
through the successive steps of master of the horse, and count of the
domestics, to the supreme rank of master-general of all the cavalry
and infantry of the Roman, or at least of the Western, empire; and his
enemies confessed, that he invariably disdained to barter for gold
the rewards of merit, or to defraud the soldiers of the pay and
gratifications which they deserved or claimed, from the liberality of
the state. The valor and conduct which he afterwards displayed, in the
defence of Italy, against the arms of Alaric and Radagaisus, may justify
the fame of his early achievements and in an age less attentive to
the laws of honor, or of pride, the Roman generals might yield the
preeminence of rank, to the ascendant of superior genius. He lamented,
and revenged, the murder of Promotus, his rival and his friend; and the
massacre of many thousands of the flying Bastarnæ is represented by
the poet as a bloody sacrifice, which the Roman Achilles offered to
the manes of another Patroclus. The virtues and victories of Stilicho
deserved the hatred of Rufinus: and the arts of calumny might have
been successful if the tender and vigilant Serena had not protected her
husband against his domestic foes, whilst he vanquished in the field
the enemies of the empire. Theodosius continued to support an unworthy
minister, to whose diligence he delegated the government of the palace,
and of the East; but when he marched against the tyrant Eugenius, he
associated his faithful general to the labors and glories of the civil
war; and in the last moments of his life, the dying monarch recommended
to Stilicho the care of his sons, and of the republic. The ambition and
the abilities of Stilicho were not unequal to the important trust; and
he claimed the guardianship of the two empires, during the minority
of Arcadius and Honorius. The first measure of his administration, or
rather of his reign, displayed to the nations the vigor and activity of
a spirit worthy to command. He passed the Alps in the depth of winter;
descended the stream of the Rhine, from the fortress of Basil to the
marshes of Batavia; reviewed the state of the garrisons; repressed the
enterprises of the Germans; and, after establishing along the banks a
firm and honorable peace, returned, with incredible speed, to the
palace of Milan. The person and court of Honorius were subject to the
master-general of the West; and the armies and provinces of Europe
obeyed, without hesitation, a regular authority, which was exercised in
the name of their young sovereign. Two rivals only remained to dispute
the claims, and to provoke the vengeance, of Stilicho. Within the
limits of Africa, Gildo, the Moor, maintained a proud and dangerous
independence; and the minister of Constantinople asserted his equal
reign over the emperor, and the empire, of the East.



Chapter XXIX: Division Of Roman Empire Between Sons Of Theodosius.--Part II.

The impartiality which Stilicho affected, as the common guardian of the
royal brothers, engaged him to regulate the equal division of the arms,
the jewels, and the magnificent wardrobe and furniture of the deceased
emperor. But the most important object of the inheritance consisted of
the numerous legions, cohorts, and squadrons, of Romans, or Barbarians,
whom the event of the civil war had united under the standard of
Theodosius. The various multitudes of Europe and Asia, exasperated by
recent animosities, were overawed by the authority of a single man; and
the rigid discipline of Stilicho protected the lands of the citizens
from the rapine of the licentious soldier. Anxious, however, and
impatient, to relieve Italy from the presence of this formidable host,
which could be useful only on the frontiers of the empire, he listened
to the just requisition of the minister of Arcadius, declared his
intention of reconducting in person the troops of the East, and
dexterously employed the rumor of a Gothic tumult to conceal his private
designs of ambition and revenge. The guilty soul of Rufinus was alarmed
by the approach of a warrior and a rival, whose enmity he deserved;
he computed, with increasing terror, the narrow space of his life and
greatness; and, as the last hope of safety, he interposed the authority
of the emperor Arcadius. Stilicho, who appears to have directed his
march along the sea-coast of the Adriatic, was not far distant from the
city of Thessalonica, when he received a peremptory message, to recall
the troops of the East, and to declare, that his nearer approach would
be considered, by the Byzantine court, as an act of hostility. The
prompt and unexpected obedience of the general of the West, convinced
the vulgar of his loyalty and moderation; and, as he had already engaged
the affection of the Eastern troops, he recommended to their zeal the
execution of his bloody design, which might be accomplished in his
absence, with less danger, perhaps, and with less reproach. Stilicho
left the command of the troops of the East to Gainas, the Goth, on whose
fidelity he firmly relied, with an assurance, at least, that the hardy
Barbarians would never be diverted from his purpose by any consideration
of fear or remorse. The soldiers were easily persuaded to punish the
enemy of Stilicho and of Rome; and such was the general hatred which
Rufinus had excited, that the fatal secret, communicated to thousands,
was faithfully preserved during the long march from Thessalonica to the
gates of Constantinople. As soon as they had resolved his death, they
condescended to flatter his pride; the ambitious præfect was seduced to
believe, that those powerful auxiliaries might be tempted to place the
diadem on his head; and the treasures which he distributed, with a
tardy and reluctant hand, were accepted by the indignant multitude as
an insult, rather than as a gift. At the distance of a mile from the
capital, in the field of Mars, before the palace of Hebdomon, the troops
halted: and the emperor, as well as his minister, advanced, according to
ancient custom, respectfully to salute the power which supported their
throne. As Rufinus passed along the ranks, and disguised, with studied
courtesy, his innate haughtiness, the wings insensibly wheeled from the
right and left, and enclosed the devoted victim within the circle of
their arms. Before he could reflect on the danger of his situation,
Gainas gave the signal of death; a daring and forward soldier plunged
his sword into the breast of the guilty præfect, and Rufinus fell,
groaned, and expired, at the feet of the affrighted emperor. If the
agonies of a moment could expiate the crimes of a whole life, or if the
outrages inflicted on a breathless corpse could be the object of pity,
our humanity might perhaps be affected by the horrid circumstances which
accompanied the murder of Rufinus. His mangled body was abandoned to the
brutal fury of the populace of either sex, who hastened in crowds, from
every quarter of the city, to trample on the remains of the haughty
minister, at whose frown they had so lately trembled. His right hand
was cut off, and carried through the streets of Constantinople, in cruel
mockery, to extort contributions for the avaricious tyrant, whose
head was publicly exposed, borne aloft on the point of a long lance.
According to the savage maxims of the Greek republics, his innocent
family would have shared the punishment of his crimes. The wife and
daughter of Rufinus were indebted for their safety to the influence of
religion. _Her_ sanctuary protected them from the raging madness of the
people; and they were permitted to spend the remainder of their lives
in the exercise of Christian devotions, in the peaceful retirement of
Jerusalem.

The servile poet of Stilicho applauds, with ferocious joy, this horrid
deed, which, in the execution, perhaps, of justice, violated every law
of nature and society, profaned the majesty of the prince, and renewed
the dangerous examples of military license. The contemplation of the
universal order and harmony had satisfied Claudian of the existence of
the Deity; but the prosperous impunity of vice appeared to contradict
his moral attributes; and the fate of Rufinus was the only event
which could dispel the religious doubts of the poet. Such an act might
vindicate the honor of Providence, but it did not much contribute to the
happiness of the people. In less than three months they were informed
of the maxims of the new administration, by a singular edict, which
established the exclusive right of the treasury over the spoils of
Rufinus; and silenced, under heavy penalties, the presumptuous claims
of the subjects of the Eastern empire, who had been injured by his
rapacious tyranny. Even Stilicho did not derive from the murder of
his rival the fruit which he had proposed; and though he gratified his
revenge, his ambition was disappointed. Under the name of a favorite,
the weakness of Arcadius required a master, but he naturally preferred
the obsequious arts of the eunuch Eutropius, who had obtained his
domestic confidence: and the emperor contemplated, with terror and
aversion, the stern genius of a foreign warrior. Till they were divided
by the jealousy of power, the sword of Gainas, and the charms of
Eudoxia, supported the favor of the great chamberlain of the palace: the
perfidious Goth, who was appointed master-general of the East, betrayed,
without scruple, the interest of his benefactor; and the same troops,
who had so lately massacred the enemy of Stilicho, were engaged to
support, against him, the independence of the throne of Constantinople.
The favorites of Arcadius fomented a secret and irreconcilable war
against a formidable hero, who aspired to govern, and to defend, the
two empires of Rome, and the two sons of Theodosius. They incessantly
labored, by dark and treacherous machinations, to deprive him of the
esteem of the prince, the respect of the people, and the friendship of
the Barbarians. The life of Stilicho was repeatedly attempted by the
dagger of hired assassins; and a decree was obtained from the senate
of Constantinople, to declare him an enemy of the republic, and to
confiscate his ample possessions in the provinces of the East. At a time
when the only hope of delaying the ruin of the Roman name depended on
the firm union, and reciprocal aid, of all the nations to whom it had
been gradually communicated, the subjects of Arcadius and Honorius
were instructed, by their respective masters, to view each other in a
foreign, and even hostile, light; to rejoice in their mutual calamities,
and to embrace, as their faithful allies, the Barbarians, whom they
excited to invade the territories of their countrymen. The natives
of Italy affected to despise the servile and effeminate Greeks of
Byzantium, who presumed to imitate the dress, and to usurp the dignity,
of Roman senators; and the Greeks had not yet forgot the sentiments
of hatred and contempt, which their polished ancestors had so long
entertained for the rude inhabitants of the West. The distinction of
two governments, which soon produced the separation of two nations, will
justify my design of suspending the series of the Byzantine history, to
prosecute, without interruption, the disgraceful, but memorable, reign
of Honorius.

The prudent Stilicho, instead of persisting to force the inclinations
of a prince, and people, who rejected his government, wisely abandoned
Arcadius to his unworthy favorites; and his reluctance to involve the
two empires in a civil war displayed the moderation of a minister,
who had so often signalized his military spirit and abilities. But if
Stilicho had any longer endured the revolt of Africa, he would have
betrayed the security of the capital, and the majesty of the Western
emperor, to the capricious insolence of a Moorish rebel. Gildo, the
brother of the tyrant Firmus, had preserved and obtained, as the reward
of his apparent fidelity, the immense patrimony which was forfeited by
treason: long and meritorious service, in the armies of Rome, raised him
to the dignity of a military count; the narrow policy of the court of
Theodosius had adopted the mischievous expedient of supporting a legal
government by the interest of a powerful family; and the brother of
Firmus was invested with the command of Africa. His ambition soon
usurped the administration of justice, and of the finances, without
account, and without control; and he maintained, during a reign of
twelve years, the possession of an office, from which it was impossible
to remove him, without the danger of a civil war. During those twelve
years, the provinces of Africa groaned under the dominion of a tyrant,
who seemed to unite the unfeeling temper of a stranger with the partial
resentments of domestic faction. The forms of law were often superseded
by the use of poison; and if the trembling guests, who were invited to
the table of Gildo, presumed to express fears, the insolent suspicion
served only to excite his fury, and he loudly summoned the ministers of
death. Gildo alternately indulged the passions of avarice and lust;
and if his _days_ were terrible to the rich, his _nights_ were not
less dreadful to husbands and parents. The fairest of their wives and
daughters were prostituted to the embraces of the tyrant; and afterwards
abandoned to a ferocious troop of Barbarians and assassins, the black,
or swarthy, natives of the desert; whom Gildo considered as the only of
his throne. In the civil war between Theodosius and Eugenius, the count,
or rather the sovereign, of Africa, maintained a haughty and suspicious
neutrality; refused to assist either of the contending parties with
troops or vessels, expected the declaration of fortune, and reserved for
the conqueror the vain professions of his allegiance. Such professions
would not have satisfied the master of the Roman world; but the death
of Theodosius, and the weakness and discord of his sons, confirmed the
power of the Moor; who condescended, as a proof of his moderation,
to abstain from the use of the diadem, and to supply Rome with the
customary tribute, or rather subsidy, of corn. In every division of the
empire, the five provinces of Africa were invariably assigned to the
West; and Gildo had to govern that extensive country in the name of
Honorius, but his knowledge of the character and designs of Stilicho
soon engaged him to address his homage to a more distant and feeble
sovereign. The ministers of Arcadius embraced the cause of a perfidious
rebel; and the delusive hope of adding the numerous cities of Africa to
the empire of the East, tempted them to assert a claim, which they were
incapable of supporting, either by reason or by arms.

When Stilicho had given a firm and decisive answer to the pretensions of
the Byzantine court, he solemnly accused the tyrant of Africa before the
tribunal, which had formerly judged the kings and nations of the earth;
and the image of the republic was revived, after a long interval, under
the reign of Honorius. The emperor transmitted an accurate and ample
detail of the complaints of the provincials, and the crimes of Gildo,
to the Roman senate; and the members of that venerable assembly were
required to pronounce the condemnation of the rebel. Their unanimous
suffrage declared him the enemy of the republic; and the decree of
the senate added a sacred and legitimate sanction to the Roman arms. A
people, who still remembered that their ancestors had been the
masters of the world, would have applauded, with conscious pride, the
representation of ancient freedom; if they had not since been accustomed
to prefer the solid assurance of bread to the unsubstantial visions of
liberty and greatness. The subsistence of Rome depended on the harvests
of Africa; and it was evident, that a declaration of war would be
the signal of famine. The præfect Symmachus, who presided in the
deliberations of the senate, admonished the minister of his just
apprehension, that as soon as the revengeful Moor should prohibit the
exportation of corn, the and perhaps the safety, of the capital would be
threatened by the hungry rage of a turbulent multitude. The prudence
of Stilicho conceived and executed, without delay, the most effectual
measure for the relief of the Roman people. A large and seasonable
supply of corn, collected in the inland provinces of Gaul, was
embarked on the rapid stream of the Rhone, and transported, by an easy
navigation, from the Rhone to the Tyber. During the whole term of the
African war, the granaries of Rome were continually filled, her dignity
was vindicated from the humiliating dependence, and the minds of an
immense people were quieted by the calm confidence of peace and plenty.

The cause of Rome, and the conduct of the African war, were intrusted by
Stilicho to a general, active and ardent to avenge his private injuries
on the head of the tyrant. The spirit of discord which prevailed in the
house of Nabal, had excited a deadly quarrel between two of his sons,
Gildo and Mascezel. The usurper pursued, with implacable rage, the
life of his younger brother, whose courage and abilities he feared; and
Mascezel, oppressed by superior power, refuge in the court of Milan,
where he soon received the cruel intelligence that his two innocent
and helpless children had been murdered by their inhuman uncle. The
affliction of the father was suspended only by the desire of revenge.
The vigilant Stilicho already prepared to collect the naval and military
force of the Western empire; and he had resolved, if the tyrant should
be able to wage an equal and doubtful war, to march against him in
person. But as Italy required his presence, and as it might be dangerous
to weaken the of the frontier, he judged it more advisable, that
Mascezel should attempt this arduous adventure at the head of a chosen
body of Gallic veterans, who had lately served exhorted to convince
the world that they could subvert, as well as defend the throne of a
usurper, consisted of the _Jovian_, the _Herculian_, and the _Augustan_
legions; of the _Nervian_ auxiliaries; of the soldiers who displayed
in their banners the symbol of a _lion_, and of the troops which were
distinguished by the auspicious names of _Fortunate_, and _Invincible_.
Yet such was the smallness of their establishments, or the difficulty of
recruiting, that these _seven_ bands, of high dignity and reputation in
the service of Rome, amounted to no more than five thousand effective
men. The fleet of galleys and transports sailed in tempestuous weather
from the port of Pisa, in Tuscany, and steered their course to the
little island of Capraria; which had borrowed that name from the wild
goats, its original inhabitants, whose place was occupied by a new
colony of a strange and savage appearance. "The whole island (says an
ingenious traveller of those times) is filled, or rather defiled, by
men who fly from the light. They call themselves _Monks_, or solitaries,
because they choose to live alone, without any witnesses of their
actions. They fear the gifts of fortune, from the apprehension of
losing them; and, lest they should be miserable, they embrace a life of
voluntary wretchedness. How absurd is their choice! how perverse their
understanding! to dread the evils, without being able to support the
blessings, of the human condition. Either this melancholy madness is the
effect of disease, or exercise on their own bodies the tortures which
are inflicted on fugitive slaves by the hand of justice." Such was the
contempt of a profane magistrate for the monks as the chosen servants of
God. Some of them were persuaded, by his entreaties, to embark on board
the fleet; and it is observed, to the praise of the Roman general, that
his days and nights were employed in prayer, fasting, and the occupation
of singing psalms. The devout leader, who, with such a reenforcement,
appeared confident of victory, avoided the dangerous rocks of Corsica,
coasted along the eastern side of Sardinia, and secured his ships
against the violence of the south wind, by casting anchor in the and
capacious harbor of Cagliari, at the distance of one hundred and forty
miles from the African shores.

Gildo was prepared to resist the invasion with all the forces of Africa.
By the liberality of his gifts and promises, he endeavored to secure the
doubtful allegiance of the Roman soldiers, whilst he attracted to his
standard the distant tribes of Gætulia and Æthiopia. He proudly reviewed
an army of seventy thousand men, and boasted, with the rash presumption
which is the forerunner of disgrace, that his numerous cavalry would
trample under their horses' feet the troops of Mascezel, and involve,
in a cloud of burning sand, the natives of the cold regions of Gaul and
Germany. But the Moor, who commanded the legions of Honorius, was too
well acquainted with the manners of his countrymen, to entertain any
serious apprehension of a naked and disorderly host of Barbarians; whose
left arm, instead of a shield, was protected only by mantle; who were
totally disarmed as soon as they had darted their javelin from their
right hand; and whose horses had never He fixed his camp of five
thousand veterans in the face of a superior enemy, and, after the delay
of three days, gave the signal of a general engagement. As Mascezel
advanced before the front with fair offers of peace and pardon, he
encountered one of the foremost standard-bearers of the Africans, and,
on his refusal to yield, struck him on the arm with his sword. The arm,
and the standard, sunk under the weight of the blow; and the imaginary
act of submission was hastily repeated by all the standards of the line.
At this the disaffected cohorts proclaimed the name of their lawful
sovereign; the Barbarians, astonished by the defection of their Roman
allies, dispersed, according to their custom, in tumultuary flight; and
Mascezel obtained the of an easy, and almost bloodless, victory. The
tyrant escaped from the field of battle to the sea-shore; and threw
himself into a small vessel, with the hope of reaching in safety some
friendly port of the empire of the East; but the obstinacy of the wind
drove him back into the harbor of Tabraca, which had acknowledged, with
the rest of the province, the dominion of Honorius, and the authority
of his lieutenant. The inhabitants, as a proof of their repentance and
loyalty, seized and confined the person of Gildo in a dungeon; and his
own despair saved him from the intolerable torture of supporting the
presence of an injured and victorious brother. The captives and the
spoils of Africa were laid at the feet of the emperor; but more sincere,
in the midst of prosperity, still affected to consult the laws of the
republic; and referred to the senate and people of Rome the judgment of
the most illustrious criminals. Their trial was public and solemn;
but the judges, in the exercise of this obsolete and precarious
jurisdiction, were impatient to punish the African magistrates, who had
intercepted the subsistence of the Roman people. The rich and guilty
province was oppressed by the Imperial ministers, who had a visible
interest to multiply the number of the accomplices of Gildo; and if an
edict of Honorius seems to check the malicious industry of informers, a
subsequent edict, at the distance of ten years, continues and renews the
prosecution of the which had been committed in the time of the general
rebellion. The adherents of the tyrant who escaped the first fury of the
soldiers, and the judges, might derive some consolation from the
tragic fate of his brother, who could never obtain his pardon for the
extraordinary services which he had performed. After he had finished an
important war in the space of a single winter, Mascezel was received at
the court of Milan with loud applause, affected gratitude, and secret
jealousy; and his death, which, perhaps, was the effect of passage of
a bridge, the Moorish prince, who accompanied the master-general of the
West, was suddenly thrown from his horse into the river; the officious
haste of the attendants was on the countenance of Stilicho; and while
they delayed the necessary assistance, the unfortunate Mascezel was
irrecoverably drowned.

The joy of the African triumph was happily connected with the nuptials
of the emperor Honorius, and of his cousin Maria, the daughter of
Stilicho: and this equal and honorable alliance seemed to invest the
powerful minister with the authority of a parent over his submissive
pupil. The muse of Claudian was not silent on this propitious day; he
sung, in various and lively strains, the happiness of the royal pair;
and the glory of the hero, who confirmed their union, and supported
their throne. The ancient fables of Greece, which had almost ceased to
be the object of religious faith, were saved from oblivion by the genius
of poetry. The picture of the Cyprian grove, the seat of harmony and
love; the triumphant progress of Venus over her native seas, and the
mild influence which her presence diffused in the palace of Milan,
express to every age the natural sentiments of the heart, in the just
and pleasing language of allegorical fiction. But the amorous impatience
which Claudian attributes to the young prince, must excite the smiles
of the court; and his beauteous spouse (if she deserved the praise of
beauty) had not much to fear or to hope from the passions of her lover.
Honorius was only in the fourteenth year of his age; Serena, the mother
of his bride, deferred, by art of persuasion, the consummation of the
royal nuptials; Maria died a virgin, after she had been ten years a
wife; and the chastity of the emperor was secured by the coldness,
perhaps, the debility, of his constitution. His subjects, who
attentively studied the character of their young sovereign, discovered
that Honorius was without passions, and consequently without talents;
and that his feeble and languid disposition was alike incapable of
discharging the duties of his rank, or of enjoying the pleasures of his
age. In his early youth he made some progress in the exercises of
riding and drawing the bow: but he soon relinquished these fatiguing
occupations, and the amusement of feeding poultry became the serious and
daily care of the monarch of the West, who resigned the reins of empire
to the firm and skilful hand of his guardian Stilicho. The experience of
history will countenance the suspicion that a prince who was born in
the purple, received a worse education than the meanest peasant of his
dominions; and that the ambitious minister suffered him to attain
the age of manhood, without attempting to excite his courage, or
to enlighten his under standing. The predecessors of Honorius were
accustomed to animate by their example, or at least by their presence,
the valor of the legions; and the dates of their laws attest the
perpetual activity of their motions through the provinces of the Roman
world. But the son of Theodosius passed the slumber of his life, a
captive in his palace, a stranger in his country, and the patient,
almost the indifferent, spectator of the ruin of the Western empire,
which was repeatedly attacked, and finally subverted, by the arms of the
Barbarians. In the eventful history of a reign of twenty-eight years, it
will seldom be necessary to mention the name of the emperor Honorius.



Chapter XXX: Revolt Of The Goths.--Part I.

     Revolt Of The Goths.--They Plunder Greece.--Two Great
     Invasions Of Italy By Alaric And Radagaisus.--They Are
     Repulsed By Stilicho.--The Germans Overrun Gaul.--Usurpation
     Of Constantine In The West.--Disgrace And Death Of Stilicho.

If the subjects of Rome could be ignorant of their obligations to the
great Theodosius, they were too soon convinced, how painfully the spirit
and abilities of their deceased emperor had supported the frail and
mouldering edifice of the republic. He died in the month of January; and
before the end of the winter of the same year, the Gothic nation was in
arms. The Barbarian auxiliaries erected their independent standard;
and boldly avowed the hostile designs, which they had long cherished in
their ferocious minds. Their countrymen, who had been condemned, by
the conditions of the last treaty, to a life of tranquility and labor,
deserted their farms at the first sound of the trumpet; and eagerly
resumed the weapons which they had reluctantly laid down. The barriers
of the Danube were thrown open; the savage warriors of Scythia issued
from their forests; and the uncommon severity of the winter allowed the
poet to remark, "that they rolled their ponderous wagons over the
broad and icy back of the indignant river." The unhappy natives of the
provinces to the south of the Danube submitted to the calamities, which,
in the course of twenty years, were almost grown familiar to their
imagination; and the various troops of Barbarians, who gloried in the
Gothic name, were irregularly spread from woody shores of Dalmatia,
to the walls of Constantinople. The interruption, or at least the
diminution, of the subsidy, which the Goths had received from the
prudent liberality of Theodosius, was the specious pretence of their
revolt: the affront was imbittered by their contempt for the unwarlike
sons of Theodosius; and their resentment was inflamed by the weakness,
or treachery, of the minister of Arcadius. The frequent visits of
Rufinus to the camp of the Barbarians whose arms and apparel he affected
to imitate, were considered as a sufficient evidence of his guilty
correspondence, and the public enemy, from a motive either of gratitude
or of policy, was attentive, amidst the general devastation, to spare
the private estates of the unpopular præfect. The Goths, instead of
being impelled by the blind and headstrong passions of their chiefs,
were now directed by the bold and artful genius of Alaric. That renowned
leader was descended from the noble race of the Balti; which yielded
only to the royal dignity of the Amali: he had solicited the command of
the Roman armies; and the Imperial court provoked him to demonstrate the
folly of their refusal, and the importance of their loss. Whatever hopes
might be entertained of the conquest of Constantinople, the judicious
general soon abandoned an impracticable enterprise. In the midst of
a divided court and a discontented people, the emperor Arcadius was
terrified by the aspect of the Gothic arms; but the want of wisdom and
valor was supplied by the strength of the city; and the fortifications,
both of the sea and land, might securely brave the impotent and random
darts of the Barbarians. Alaric disdained to trample any longer on the
prostrate and ruined countries of Thrace and Dacia, and he resolved
to seek a plentiful harvest of fame and riches in a province which had
hitherto escaped the ravages of war.

The character of the civil and military officers, on whom Rufinus had
devolved the government of Greece, confirmed the public suspicion, that
he had betrayed the ancient seat of freedom and learning to the Gothic
invader. The proconsul Antiochus was the unworthy son of a respectable
father; and Gerontius, who commanded the provincial troops, was much
better qualified to execute the oppressive orders of a tyrant, than to
defend, with courage and ability, a country most remarkably fortified by
the hand of nature. Alaric had traversed, without resistance, the plains
of Macedonia and Thessaly, as far as the foot of Mount Oeta, a steep and
woody range of hills, almost impervious to his cavalry. They stretched
from east to west, to the edge of the sea-shore; and left, between the
precipice and the Malian Gulf, an interval of three hundred feet, which,
in some places, was contracted to a road capable of admitting only a
single carriage. In this narrow pass of Thermopylæ, where Leonidas and
the three hundred Spartans had gloriously devoted their lives, the Goths
might have been stopped, or destroyed, by a skilful general; and perhaps
the view of that sacred spot might have kindled some sparks of military
ardor in the breasts of the degenerate Greeks. The troops which had
been posted to defend the Straits of Thermopylæ, retired, as they were
directed, without attempting to disturb the secure and rapid passage
of Alaric; and the fertile fields of Phocis and Botia were instantly
covered by a deluge of Barbarians who massacred the males of an age
to bear arms, and drove away the beautiful females, with the spoil
and cattle of the flaming villages. The travellers, who visited Greece
several years afterwards, could easily discover the deep and bloody
traces of the march of the Goths; and Thebes was less indebted for her
preservation to the strength of her seven gates, than to the eager haste
of Alaric, who advanced to occupy the city of Athens, and the important
harbor of the Piræus. The same impatience urged him to prevent the delay
and danger of a siege, by the offer of a capitulation; and as soon as
the Athenians heard the voice of the Gothic herald, they were easily
persuaded to deliver the greatest part of their wealth, as the ransom
of the city of Minerva and its inhabitants. The treaty was ratified by
solemn oaths, and observed with mutual fidelity. The Gothic prince, with
a small and select train, was admitted within the walls; he indulged
himself in the refreshment of the bath, accepted a splendid banquet,
which was provided by the magistrate, and affected to show that he
was not ignorant of the manners of civilized nations. But the whole
territory of Attica, from the promontory of Sunium to the town of
Megara, was blasted by his baleful presence; and, if we may use the
comparison of a contemporary philosopher, Athens itself resembled the
bleeding and empty skin of a slaughtered victim. The distance between
Megara and Corinth could not much exceed thirty miles; but the _bad
road_, an expressive name, which it still bears among the Greeks, was,
or might easily have been made, impassable for the march of an enemy.
The thick and gloomy woods of Mount Cithæron covered the inland country;
the Scironian rocks approached the water's edge, and hung over the
narrow and winding path, which was confined above six miles along the
sea-shore. The passage of those rocks, so infamous in every age, was
terminated by the Isthmus of Corinth; and a small a body of firm
and intrepid soldiers might have successfully defended a temporary
intrenchment of five or six miles from the Ionian to the Ægean Sea. The
confidence of the cities of Peloponnesus in their natural rampart, had
tempted them to neglect the care of their antique walls; and the avarice
of the Roman governors had exhausted and betrayed the unhappy province.
Corinth, Argos, Sparta, yielded without resistance to the arms of the
Goths; and the most fortunate of the inhabitants were saved, by death,
from beholding the slavery of their families and the conflagration
of their cities. The vases and statues were distributed among the
Barbarians, with more regard to the value of the materials, than to the
elegance of the workmanship; the female captives submitted to the laws
of war; the enjoyment of beauty was the reward of valor; and the Greeks
could not reasonably complain of an abuse which was justified by the
example of the heroic times. The descendants of that extraordinary
people, who had considered valor and discipline as the walls of Sparta,
no longer remembered the generous reply of their ancestors to an invader
more formidable than Alaric. "If thou art a god, thou wilt not hurt
those who have never injured thee; if thou art a man, advance:--and thou
wilt find men equal to thyself." From Thermopylæ to Sparta, the leader
of the Goths pursued his victorious march without encountering any
mortal antagonists: but one of the advocates of expiring Paganism has
confidently asserted, that the walls of Athens were guarded by the
goddess Minerva, with her formidable Ægis, and by the angry phantom of
Achilles; and that the conqueror was dismayed by the presence of the
hostile deities of Greece. In an age of miracles, it would perhaps
be unjust to dispute the claim of the historian Zosimus to the common
benefit: yet it cannot be dissembled, that the mind of Alaric was
ill prepared to receive, either in sleeping or waking visions, the
impressions of Greek superstition. The songs of Homer, and the fame
of Achilles, had probably never reached the ear of the illiterate
_Barbarian_; and the _Christian_ faith, which he had devoutly embraced,
taught him to despise the imaginary deities of Rome and Athens. The
invasion of the Goths, instead of vindicating the honor, contributed, at
least accidentally, to extirpate the last remains of Paganism: and the
mysteries of Ceres, which had subsisted eighteen hundred years, did not
survive the destruction of Eleusis, and the calamities of Greece.

The last hope of a people who could no longer depend on their arms,
their gods, or their sovereign, was placed in the powerful assistance
of the general of the West; and Stilicho, who had not been permitted to
repulse, advanced to chastise, the invaders of Greece. A numerous fleet
was equipped in the ports of Italy; and the troops, after a short and
prosperous navigation over the Ionian Sea, were safely disembarked
on the isthmus, near the ruins of Corinth. The woody and mountainous
country of Arcadia, the fabulous residence of Pan and the Dryads, became
the scene of a long and doubtful conflict between the two generals
not unworthy of each other. The skill and perseverance of the Roman at
length prevailed; and the Goths, after sustaining a considerable loss
from disease and desertion, gradually retreated to the lofty mountain of
Pholoe, near the sources of the Peneus, and on the frontiers of Elis; a
sacred country, which had formerly been exempted from the calamities of
war. The camp of the Barbarians was immediately besieged; the waters
of the river were diverted into another channel; and while they labored
under the intolerable pressure of thirst and hunger, a strong line
of circumvallation was formed to prevent their escape. After these
precautions, Stilicho, too confident of victory, retired to enjoy his
triumph, in the theatrical games, and lascivious dances, of the Greeks;
his soldiers, deserting their standards, spread themselves over the
country of their allies, which they stripped of all that had been saved
from the rapacious hands of the enemy. Alaric appears to have seized the
favorable moment to execute one of those hardy enterprises, in which the
abilities of a general are displayed with more genuine lustre, than in
the tumult of a day of battle. To extricate himself from the prison of
Peloponnesus, it was necessary that he should pierce the intrenchments
which surrounded his camp; that he should perform a difficult and
dangerous march of thirty miles, as far as the Gulf of Corinth; and that
he should transport his troops, his captives, and his spoil, over an arm
of the sea, which, in the narrow interval between Rhium and the opposite
shore, is at least half a mile in breadth. The operations of Alaric
must have been secret, prudent, and rapid; since the Roman general
was confounded by the intelligence, that the Goths, who had eluded his
efforts, were in full possession of the important province of Epirus.
This unfortunate delay allowed Alaric sufficient time to conclude
the treaty, which he secretly negotiated, with the ministers of
Constantinople. The apprehension of a civil war compelled Stilicho to
retire, at the haughty mandate of his rivals, from the dominions
of Arcadius; and he respected, in the enemy of Rome, the honorable
character of the ally and servant of the emperor of the East.

A Grecian philosopher, who visited Constantinople soon after the death
of Theodosius, published his liberal opinions concerning the duties
of kings, and the state of the Roman republic. Synesius observes,
and deplores, the fatal abuse, which the imprudent bounty of the late
emperor had introduced into the military service. The citizens and
subjects had purchased an exemption from the indispensable duty of
defending their country; which was supported by the arms of Barbarian
mercenaries. The fugitives of Scythia were permitted to disgrace
the illustrious dignities of the empire; their ferocious youth, who
disdained the salutary restraint of laws, were more anxious to acquire
the riches, than to imitate the arts, of a people, the object of
their contempt and hatred; and the power of the Goths was the stone of
Tantalus, perpetually suspended over the peace and safety of the devoted
state. The measures which Synesius recommends, are the dictates of a
bold and generous patriot. He exhorts the emperor to revive the courage
of his subjects, by the example of manly virtue; to banish luxury
from the court and from the camp; to substitute, in the place of the
Barbarian mercenaries, an army of men, interested in the defence of
their laws and of their property; to force, in such a moment of public
danger, the mechanic from his shop, and the philosopher from his school;
to rouse the indolent citizen from his dream of pleasure, and to
arm, for the protection of agriculture, the hands of the laborious
husbandman. At the head of such troops, who might deserve the name, and
would display the spirit, of Romans, he animates the son of Theodosius
to encounter a race of Barbarians, who were destitute of any real
courage; and never to lay down his arms, till he had chased them far
away into the solitudes of Scythia; or had reduced them to the state of
ignominious servitude, which the Lacedæmonians formerly imposed on the
captive Helots. The court of Arcadius indulged the zeal, applauded
the eloquence, and neglected the advice, of Synesius. Perhaps the
philosopher who addresses the emperor of the East in the language of
reason and virtue, which he might have used to a Spartan king, had not
condescended to form a practicable scheme, consistent with the temper,
and circumstances, of a degenerate age. Perhaps the pride of the
ministers, whose business was seldom interrupted by reflection, might
reject, as wild and visionary, every proposal, which exceeded the
measure of their capacity, and deviated from the forms and precedents
of office. While the oration of Synesius, and the downfall of the
Barbarians, were the topics of popular conversation, an edict was
published at Constantinople, which declared the promotion of Alaric
to the rank of master-general of the Eastern Illyricum. The Roman
provincials, and the allies, who had respected the faith of treaties,
were justly indignant, that the ruin of Greece and Epirus should be
so liberally rewarded. The Gothic conqueror was received as a lawful
magistrate, in the cities which he had so lately besieged. The fathers,
whose sons he had massacred, the husbands, whose wives he had violated,
were subject to his authority; and the success of his rebellion
encouraged the ambition of every leader of the foreign mercenaries. The
use to which Alaric applied his new command, distinguishes the firm
and judicious character of his policy. He issued his orders to the four
magazines and manufactures of offensive and defensive arms, Margus,
Ratiaria, Naissus, and Thessalonica, to provide his troops with an
extraordinary supply of shields, helmets, swords, and spears; the
unhappy provincials were compelled to forge the instruments of their
own destruction; and the Barbarians removed the only defect which
had sometimes disappointed the efforts of their courage. The birth of
Alaric, the glory of his past exploits, and the confidence in his future
designs, insensibly united the body of the nation under his victorious
standard; and, with the unanimous consent of the Barbarian chieftains,
the master-general of Illyricum was elevated, according to ancient
custom, on a shield, and solemnly proclaimed king of the Visigoths.
Armed with this double power, seated on the verge of the two empires,
he alternately sold his deceitful promises to the courts of Arcadius and
Honorius; till he declared and executed his resolution of invading the
dominions of the West. The provinces of Europe which belonged to
the Eastern emperor, were already exhausted; those of Asia were
inaccessible; and the strength of Constantinople had resisted his
attack. But he was tempted by the fame, the beauty, the wealth of Italy,
which he had twice visited; and he secretly aspired to plant the
Gothic standard on the walls of Rome, and to enrich his army with the
accumulated spoils of three hundred triumphs.

The scarcity of facts, and the uncertainty of dates, oppose our attempts
to describe the circumstances of the first invasion of Italy by the arms
of Alaric. His march, perhaps from Thessalonica, through the warlike and
hostile country of Pannonia, as far as the foot of the Julian Alps; his
passage of those mountains, which were strongly guarded by troops and
intrenchments; the siege of Aquileia, and the conquest of the provinces
of Istria and Venetia, appear to have employed a considerable time.
Unless his operations were extremely cautious and slow, the length of
the interval would suggest a probable suspicion, that the Gothic king
retreated towards the banks of the Danube; and reënforced his army with
fresh swarms of Barbarians, before he again attempted to penetrate into
the heart of Italy. Since the public and important events escape the
diligence of the historian, he may amuse himself with contemplating,
for a moment, the influence of the arms of Alaric on the fortunes of two
obscure individuals, a presbyter of Aquileia and a husbandman of Verona.
The learned Rufinus, who was summoned by his enemies to appear before
a Roman synod, wisely preferred the dangers of a besieged city; and the
Barbarians, who furiously shook the walls of Aquileia, might save him
from the cruel sentence of another heretic, who, at the request of the
same bishops, was severely whipped, and condemned to perpetual exile on
a desert island. The _old man_, who had passed his simple and innocent
life in the neighborhood of Verona, was a stranger to the quarrels both
of kings and of bishops; _his_ pleasures, his desires, his knowledge,
were confined within the little circle of his paternal farm; and a staff
supported his aged steps, on the same ground where he had sported in
his infancy. Yet even this humble and rustic felicity (which Claudian
describes with so much truth and feeling) was still exposed to the
undistinguishing rage of war. His trees, his old _contemporary_ trees,
must blaze in the conflagration of the whole country; a detachment of
Gothic cavalry might sweep away his cottage and his family; and the
power of Alaric could destroy this happiness, which he was not able
either to taste or to bestow. "Fame," says the poet, "encircling with
terror her gloomy wings, proclaimed the march of the Barbarian army, and
filled Italy with consternation:" the apprehensions of each individual
were increased in just proportion to the measure of his fortune: and the
most timid, who had already embarked their valuable effects, meditated
their escape to the Island of Sicily, or the African coast. The public
distress was aggravated by the fears and reproaches of superstition.
Every hour produced some horrid tale of strange and portentous
accidents; the Pagans deplored the neglect of omens, and the
interruption of sacrifices; but the Christians still derived some
comfort from the powerful intercession of the saints and martyrs.



Chapter XXX: Revolt Of The Goths.--Part II.

The emperor Honorius was distinguished, above his subjects, by the
preeminence of fear, as well as of rank. The pride and luxury in which
he was educated, had not allowed him to suspect, that there existed
on the earth any power presumptuous enough to invade the repose of the
successor of Augustus. The arts of flattery concealed the impending
danger, till Alaric approached the palace of Milan. But when the sound
of war had awakened the young emperor, instead of flying to arms with
the spirit, or even the rashness, of his age, he eagerly listened to
those timid counsellors, who proposed to convey his sacred person,
and his faithful attendants, to some secure and distant station in the
provinces of Gaul. Stilicho alone had courage and authority to resist
his disgraceful measure, which would have abandoned Rome and Italy to
the Barbarians; but as the troops of the palace had been lately detached
to the Rhætian frontier, and as the resource of new levies was slow
and precarious, the general of the West could only promise, that if the
court of Milan would maintain their ground during his absence, he would
soon return with an army equal to the encounter of the Gothic king.
Without losing a moment, (while each moment was so important to the
public safety,) Stilicho hastily embarked on the Larian Lake, ascended
the mountains of ice and snow, amidst the severity of an Alpine winter,
and suddenly repressed, by his unexpected presence, the enemy, who
had disturbed the tranquillity of Rhætia. The Barbarians, perhaps some
tribes of the Alemanni, respected the firmness of a chief, who still
assumed the language of command; and the choice which he condescended
to make, of a select number of their bravest youth, was considered as a
mark of his esteem and favor. The cohorts, who were delivered from
the neighboring foe, diligently repaired to the Imperial standard; and
Stilicho issued his orders to the most remote troops of the West, to
advance, by rapid marches, to the defence of Honorius and of Italy.
The fortresses of the Rhine were abandoned; and the safety of Gaul was
protected only by the faith of the Germans, and the ancient terror of
the Roman name. Even the legion, which had been stationed to guard
the wall of Britain against the Caledonians of the North, was hastily
recalled; and a numerous body of the cavalry of the Alani was persuaded
to engage in the service of the emperor, who anxiously expected
the return of his general. The prudence and vigor of Stilicho were
conspicuous on this occasion, which revealed, at the same time, the
weakness of the falling empire. The legions of Rome, which had long
since languished in the gradual decay of discipline and courage, were
exterminated by the Gothic and civil wars; and it was found impossible,
without exhausting and exposing the provinces, to assemble an army for
the defence of Italy.



Chapter XXX: Revolt Of The Goths.--Part III.

When Stilicho seemed to abandon his sovereign in the unguarded palace of
Milan, he had probably calculated the term of his absence, the distance
of the enemy, and the obstacles that might retard their march. He
principally depended on the rivers of Italy, the Adige, the Mincius,
the Oglio, and the Addua, which, in the winter or spring, by the fall of
rains, or by the melting of the snows, are commonly swelled into broad
and impetuous torrents. But the season happened to be remarkably dry:
and the Goths could traverse, without impediment, the wide and stony
beds, whose centre was faintly marked by the course of a shallow stream.
The bridge and passage of the Addua were secured by a strong detachment
of the Gothic army; and as Alaric approached the walls, or rather the
suburbs, of Milan, he enjoyed the proud satisfaction of seeing the
emperor of the Romans fly before him. Honorius, accompanied by a feeble
train of statesmen and eunuchs, hastily retreated towards the Alps, with
a design of securing his person in the city of Arles, which had often
been the royal residence of his predecessors. But Honorius had
scarcely passed the Po, before he was overtaken by the speed of the
Gothic cavalry; since the urgency of the danger compelled him to seek a
temporary shelter within the fortifications of Asta, a town of Liguria
or Piemont, situate on the banks of the Tanarus. The siege of an obscure
place, which contained so rich a prize, and seemed incapable of a long
resistance, was instantly formed, and indefatigably pressed, by the
king of the Goths; and the bold declaration, which the emperor might
afterwards make, that his breast had never been susceptible of fear, did
not probably obtain much credit, even in his own court. In the last, and
almost hopeless extremity, after the Barbarians had already proposed the
indignity of a capitulation, the Imperial captive was suddenly relieved
by the fame, the approach, and at length the presence, of the hero, whom
he had so long expected. At the head of a chosen and intrepid vanguard,
Stilicho swam the stream of the Addua, to gain the time which he must
have lost in the attack of the bridge; the passage of the Po was an
enterprise of much less hazard and difficulty; and the successful
action, in which he cut his way through the Gothic camp under the walls
of Asta, revived the hopes, and vindicated the honor, of Rome. Instead
of grasping the fruit of his victory, the Barbarian was gradually
invested, on every side, by the troops of the West, who successively
issued through all the passes of the Alps; his quarters were straitened;
his convoys were intercepted; and the vigilance of the Romans prepared
to form a chain of fortifications, and to besiege the lines of the
besiegers. A military council was assembled of the long-haired chiefs of
the Gothic nation; of aged warriors, whose bodies were wrapped in furs,
and whose stern countenances were marked with honorable wounds. They
weighed the glory of persisting in their attempt against the advantage
of securing their plunder; and they recommended the prudent measure of
a seasonable retreat. In this important debate, Alaric displayed
the spirit of the conqueror of Rome; and after he had reminded his
countrymen of their achievements and of their designs, he concluded
his animating speech by the solemn and positive assurance that he was
resolved to find in Italy either a kingdom or a grave.

The loose discipline of the Barbarians always exposed them to the danger
of a surprise; but, instead of choosing the dissolute hours of riot and
intemperance, Stilicho resolved to attack the Christian Goths, whilst
they were devoutly employed in celebrating the festival of Easter. The
execution of the stratagem, or, as it was termed by the clergy of the
sacrilege, was intrusted to Saul, a Barbarian and a Pagan, who had
served, however, with distinguished reputation among the veteran
generals of Theodosius. The camp of the Goths, which Alaric had pitched
in the neighborhood of Pollentia, was thrown into confusion by the
sudden and impetuous charge of the Imperial cavalry; but, in a few
moments, the undaunted genius of their leader gave them an order, and
a field of battle; and, as soon as they had recovered from their
astonishment, the pious confidence, that the God of the Christians would
assert their cause, added new strength to their native valor. In this
engagement, which was long maintained with equal courage and success,
the chief of the Alani, whose diminutive and savage form concealed a
magnanimous soul approved his suspected loyalty, by the zeal with which
he fought, and fell, in the service of the republic; and the fame of
this gallant Barbarian has been imperfectly preserved in the verses of
Claudian, since the poet, who celebrates his virtue, has omitted the
mention of his name. His death was followed by the flight and dismay of
the squadrons which he commanded; and the defeat of the wing of
cavalry might have decided the victory of Alaric, if Stilicho had not
immediately led the Roman and Barbarian infantry to the attack. The
skill of the general, and the bravery of the soldiers, surmounted every
obstacle. In the evening of the bloody day, the Goths retreated from the
field of battle; the intrenchments of their camp were forced, and the
scene of rapine and slaughter made some atonement for the calamities
which they had inflicted on the subjects of the empire. The magnificent
spoils of Corinth and Argos enriched the veterans of the West; the
captive wife of Alaric, who had impatiently claimed his promise of Roman
jewels and Patrician handmaids, was reduced to implore the mercy of the
insulting foe; and many thousand prisoners, released from the Gothic
chains, dispersed through the provinces of Italy the praises of their
heroic deliverer. The triumph of Stilicho was compared by the poet,
and perhaps by the public, to that of Marius; who, in the same part
of Italy, had encountered and destroyed another army of Northern
Barbarians. The huge bones, and the empty helmets, of the Cimbri and
of the Goths, would easily be confounded by succeeding generations;
and posterity might erect a common trophy to the memory of the two most
illustrious generals, who had vanquished, on the same memorable ground,
the two most formidable enemies of Rome.

The eloquence of Claudian has celebrated, with lavish applause, the
victory of Pollentia, one of the most glorious days in the life of his
patron; but his reluctant and partial muse bestows more genuine praise
on the character of the Gothic king. His name is, indeed, branded with
the reproachful epithets of pirate and robber, to which the conquerors
of every age are so justly entitled; but the poet of Stilicho is
compelled to acknowledge that Alaric possessed the invincible temper
of mind, which rises superior to every misfortune, and derives new
resources from adversity. After the total defeat of his infantry, he
escaped, or rather withdrew, from the field of battle, with the greatest
part of his cavalry entire and unbroken. Without wasting a moment to
lament the irreparable loss of so many brave companions, he left his
victorious enemy to bind in chains the captive images of a Gothic
king; and boldly resolved to break through the unguarded passes of the
Apennine, to spread desolation over the fruitful face of Tuscany, and
to conquer or die before the gates of Rome. The capital was saved by the
active and incessant diligence of Stilicho; but he respected the despair
of his enemy; and, instead of committing the fate of the republic to
the chance of another battle, he proposed to purchase the absence of
the Barbarians. The spirit of Alaric would have rejected such terms, the
permission of a retreat, and the offer of a pension, with contempt and
indignation; but he exercised a limited and precarious authority over
the independent chieftains who had raised him, for _their_ service,
above the rank of his equals; they were still less disposed to follow
an unsuccessful general, and many of them were tempted to consult their
interest by a private negotiation with the minister of Honorius. The
king submitted to the voice of his people, ratified the treaty with
the empire of the West, and repassed the Po with the remains of the
flourishing army which he had led into Italy. A considerable part of the
Roman forces still continued to attend his motions; and Stilicho, who
maintained a secret correspondence with some of the Barbarian chiefs,
was punctually apprised of the designs that were formed in the camp and
council of Alaric. The king of the Goths, ambitious to signalize
his retreat by some splendid achievement, had resolved to occupy the
important city of Verona, which commands the principal passage of the
Rhætian Alps; and, directing his march through the territories of those
German tribes, whose alliance would restore his exhausted strength, to
invade, on the side of the Rhine, the wealthy and unsuspecting provinces
of Gaul. Ignorant of the treason which had already betrayed his bold and
judicious enterprise, he advanced towards the passes of the mountains,
already possessed by the Imperial troops; where he was exposed, almost
at the same instant, to a general attack in the front, on his flanks,
and in the rear. In this bloody action, at a small distance from the
walls of Verona, the loss of the Goths was not less heavy than that
which they had sustained in the defeat of Pollentia; and their valiant
king, who escaped by the swiftness of his horse, must either have been
slain or made prisoner, if the hasty rashness of the Alani had not
disappointed the measures of the Roman general. Alaric secured the
remains of his army on the adjacent rocks; and prepared himself, with
undaunted resolution, to maintain a siege against the superior numbers
of the enemy, who invested him on all sides. But he could not oppose the
destructive progress of hunger and disease; nor was it possible for
him to check the continual desertion of his impatient and capricious
Barbarians. In this extremity he still found resources in his own
courage, or in the moderation of his adversary; and the retreat of the
Gothic king was considered as the deliverance of Italy. Yet the people,
and even the clergy, incapable of forming any rational judgment of the
business of peace and war, presumed to arraign the policy of Stilicho,
who so often vanquished, so often surrounded, and so often dismissed the
implacable enemy of the republic. The first moment of the public safety
is devoted to gratitude and joy; but the second is diligently occupied
by envy and calumny.

The citizens of Rome had been astonished by the approach of Alaric;
and the diligence with which they labored to restore the walls of the
capital, confessed their own fears, and the decline of the empire.
After the retreat of the Barbarians, Honorius was directed to accept
the dutiful invitation of the senate, and to celebrate, in the Imperial
city, the auspicious æra of the Gothic victory, and of his sixth
consulship. The suburbs and the streets, from the Milvian bridge to the
Palatine mount, were filled by the Roman people, who, in the space of a
hundred years, had only thrice been honored with the presence of their
sovereigns. While their eyes were fixed on the chariot where Stilicho
was deservedly seated by the side of his royal pupil, they applauded the
pomp of a triumph, which was not stained, like that of Constantine, or
of Theodosius, with civil blood. The procession passed under a lofty
arch, which had been purposely erected: but in less than seven years,
the Gothic conquerors of Rome might read, if they were able to read, the
superb inscription of that monument, which attested the total defeat and
destruction of their nation. The emperor resided several months in
the capital, and every part of his behavior was regulated with care to
conciliate the affection of the clergy, the senate, and the people of
Rome. The clergy was edified by his frequent visits and liberal gifts
to the shrines of the apostles. The senate, who, in the triumphal
procession, had been excused from the humiliating ceremony of preceding
on foot the Imperial chariot, was treated with the decent reverence
which Stilicho always affected for that assembly. The people was
repeatedly gratified by the attention and courtesy of Honorius in the
public games, which were celebrated on that occasion with a magnificence
not unworthy of the spectator. As soon as the appointed number of
chariot-races was concluded, the decoration of the Circus was suddenly
changed; the hunting of wild beasts afforded a various and splendid
entertainment; and the chase was succeeded by a military dance, which
seems, in the lively description of Claudian, to present the image of a
modern tournament.

In these games of Honorius, the inhuman combats of gladiators polluted,
for the last time, the amphitheater of Rome. The first Christian emperor
may claim the honor of the first edict which condemned the art and
amusement of shedding human blood; but this benevolent law expressed
the wishes of the prince, without reforming an inveterate abuse, which
degraded a civilized nation below the condition of savage cannibals.
Several hundred, perhaps several thousand, victims were annually
slaughtered in the great cities of the empire; and the month of
December, more peculiarly devoted to the combats of gladiators, still
exhibited to the eyes of the Roman people a grateful spectacle of blood
and cruelty. Amidst the general joy of the victory of Pollentia, a
Christian poet exhorted the emperor to extirpate, by his authority,
the horrid custom which had so long resisted the voice of humanity and
religion. The pathetic representations of Prudentius were less effectual
than the generous boldness of Telemachus, and Asiatic monk, whose death
was more useful to mankind than his life. The Romans were provoked
by the interruption of their pleasures; and the rash monk, who had
descended into the arena to separate the gladiators, was overwhelmed
under a shower of stones. But the madness of the people soon subsided;
they respected the memory of Telemachus, who had deserved the honors
of martyrdom; and they submitted, without a murmur, to the laws
of Honorius, which abolished forever the human sacrifices of the
amphitheater. The citizens, who adhered to the manners of their
ancestors, might perhaps insinuate that the last remains of a martial
spirit were preserved in this school of fortitude, which accustomed the
Romans to the sight of blood, and to the contempt of death; a vain and
cruel prejudice, so nobly confuted by the valor of ancient Greece, and
of modern Europe!

The recent danger, to which the person of the emperor had been exposed
in the defenceless palace of Milan, urged him to seek a retreat in some
inaccessible fortress of Italy, where he might securely remain, while
the open country was covered by a deluge of Barbarians. On the coast of
the Adriatic, about ten or twelve miles from the most southern of the
seven mouths of the Po, the Thessalians had founded the ancient colony
of Ravenna, which they afterwards resigned to the natives of Umbria.
Augustus, who had observed the opportunity of the place, prepared, at
the distance of three miles from the old town, a capacious harbor,
for the reception of two hundred and fifty ships of war. This naval
establishment, which included the arsenals and magazines, the barracks
of the troops, and the houses of the artificers, derived its origin and
name from the permanent station of the Roman fleet; the intermediate
space was soon filled with buildings and inhabitants, and the three
extensive and populous quarters of Ravenna gradually contributed to
form one of the most important cities of Italy. The principal canal of
Augustus poured a copious stream of the waters of the Po through the
midst of the city, to the entrance of the harbor; the same waters were
introduced into the profound ditches that encompassed the walls; they
were distributed by a thousand subordinate canals, into every part
of the city, which they divided into a variety of small islands; the
communication was maintained only by the use of boats and bridges;
and the houses of Ravenna, whose appearance may be compared to that
of Venice, were raised on the foundation of wooden piles. The adjacent
country, to the distance of many miles, was a deep and impassable
morass; and the artificial causeway, which connected Ravenna with the
continent, might be easily guarded or destroyed, on the approach of a
hostile army These morasses were interspersed, however, with vineyards:
and though the soil was exhausted by four or five crops, the town
enjoyed a more plentiful supply of wine than of fresh water. The air,
instead of receiving the sickly, and almost pestilential, exhalations
of low and marshy grounds, was distinguished, like the neighborhood
of Alexandria, as uncommonly pure and salubrious; and this singular
advantage was ascribed to the regular tides of the Adriatic, which swept
the canals, interrupted the unwholesome stagnation of the waters, and
floated, every day, the vessels of the adjacent country into the heart
of Ravenna. The gradual retreat of the sea has left the modern city at
the distance of four miles from the Adriatic; and as early as the
fifth or sixth century of the Christian æra, the port of Augustus was
converted into pleasant orchards; and a lonely grove of pines covered
the ground where the Roman fleet once rode at anchor. Even this
alteration contributed to increase the natural strength of the place,
and the shallowness of the water was a sufficient barrier against the
large ships of the enemy. This advantageous situation was fortified by
art and labor; and in the twentieth year of his age, the emperor of the
West, anxious only for his personal safety, retired to the perpetual
confinement of the walls and morasses of Ravenna. The example of
Honorius was imitated by his feeble successors, the Gothic kings,
and afterwards the Exarchs, who occupied the throne and palace of
the emperors; and till the middle of the eight century, Ravenna was
considered as the seat of government, and the capital of Italy.

The fears of Honorius were not without foundation, nor were his
precautions without effect. While Italy rejoiced in her deliverance from
the Goths, a furious tempest was excited among the nations of Germany,
who yielded to the irresistible impulse that appears to have been
gradually communicated from the eastern extremity of the continent of
Asia. The Chinese annals, as they have been interpreted by the earned
industry of the present age, may be usefully applied to reveal the
secret and remote causes of the fall of the Roman empire. The extensive
territory to the north of the great wall was possessed, after the flight
of the Huns, by the victorious Sienpi, who were sometimes broken into
independent tribes, and sometimes reunited under a supreme chief; till
at length, styling themselves _Topa_, or masters of the earth, they
acquired a more solid consistence, and a more formidable power. The Topa
soon compelled the pastoral nations of the eastern desert to acknowledge
the superiority of their arms; they invaded China in a period of
weakness and intestine discord; and these fortunate Tartars, adopting
the laws and manners of the vanquished people, founded an Imperial
dynasty, which reigned near one hundred and sixty years over the
northern provinces of the monarchy. Some generations before they
ascended the throne of China, one of the Topa princes had enlisted in
his cavalry a slave of the name of Moko, renowned for his valor, but who
was tempted, by the fear of punishment, to desert his standard, and
to range the desert at the head of a hundred followers. This gang of
robbers and outlaws swelled into a camp, a tribe, a numerous people,
distinguished by the appellation of _Geougen_; and their hereditary
chieftains, the posterity of Moko the slave, assumed their rank
among the Scythian monarchs. The youth of Toulun, the greatest of his
descendants, was exercised by those misfortunes which are the school of
heroes. He bravely struggled with adversity, broke the imperious yoke of
the Topa, and became the legislator of his nation, and the conqueror of
Tartary. His troops were distributed into regular bands of a hundred
and of a thousand men; cowards were stoned to death; the most splendid
honors were proposed as the reward of valor; and Toulun, who had
knowledge enough to despise the learning of China, adopted only such
arts and institutions as were favorable to the military spirit of his
government. His tents, which he removed in the winter season to a more
southern latitude, were pitched, during the summer, on the fruitful
banks of the Selinga. His conquests stretched from Corea far beyond the
River Irtish. He vanquished, in the country to the north of the Caspian
Sea, the nation of the _Huns_; and the new title of _Khan_, or _Cagan_,
expressed the fame and power which he derived from this memorable
victory.

The chain of events is interrupted, or rather is concealed, as it passes
from the Volga to the Vistula, through the dark interval which separates
the extreme limits of the Chinese, and of the Roman, geography. Yet the
temper of the Barbarians, and the experience of successive emigrations,
sufficiently declare, that the Huns, who were oppressed by the arms of
the Geougen, soon withdrew from the presence of an insulting victor.
The countries towards the Euxine were already occupied by their kindred
tribes; and their hasty flight, which they soon converted into a bold
attack, would more naturally be directed towards the rich and level
plains, through which the Vistula gently flows into the Baltic Sea. The
North must again have been alarmed, and agitated, by the invasion of the
Huns; and the nations who retreated before them must have pressed with
incumbent weight on the confines of Germany. The inhabitants of those
regions, which the ancients have assigned to the Suevi, the Vandals,
and the Burgundians, might embrace the resolution of abandoning to
the fugitives of Sarmatia their woods and morasses; or at least of
discharging their superfluous numbers on the provinces of the Roman
empire. About four years after the victorious Toulun had assumed the
title of Khan of the Geougen, another Barbarian, the haughty Rhodogast,
or Radagaisus, marched from the northern extremities of Germany almost
to the gates of Rome, and left the remains of his army to achieve the
destruction of the West. The Vandals, the Suevi, and the Burgundians,
formed the strength of this mighty host; but the Alani, who had found a
hospitable reception in their new seats, added their active cavalry to
the heavy infantry of the Germans; and the Gothic adventurers crowded so
eagerly to the standard of Radagaisus, that by some historians, he
has been styled the King of the Goths. Twelve thousand warriors,
distinguished above the vulgar by their noble birth, or their valiant
deeds, glittered in the van; and the whole multitude, which was not
less than two hundred thousand fighting men, might be increased, by the
accession of women, of children, and of slaves, to the amount of four
hundred thousand persons. This formidable emigration issued from the
same coast of the Baltic, which had poured forth the myriads of the
Cimbri and Teutones, to assault Rome and Italy in the vigor of the
republic. After the departure of those Barbarians, their native country,
which was marked by the vestiges of their greatness, long ramparts, and
gigantic moles, remained, during some ages, a vast and dreary solitude;
till the human species was renewed by the powers of generation, and the
vacancy was filled by the influx of new inhabitants. The nations who now
usurp an extent of land which they are unable to cultivate, would
soon be assisted by the industrious poverty of their neighbors, if
the government of Europe did not protect the claims of dominion and
property.



Chapter XXX: Revolt Of The Goths.--Part IV.

The correspondence of nations was, in that age, so imperfect and
precarious, that the revolutions of the North might escape the knowledge
of the court of Ravenna; till the dark cloud, which was collected along
the coast of the Baltic, burst in thunder upon the banks of the
Upper Danube. The emperor of the West, if his ministers disturbed his
amusements by the news of the impending danger, was satisfied with being
the occasion, and the spectator, of the war. The safety of Rome was
intrusted to the counsels, and the sword, of Stilicho; but such was
the feeble and exhausted state of the empire, that it was impossible to
restore the fortifications of the Danube, or to prevent, by a vigorous
effort, the invasion of the Germans. The hopes of the vigilant minister
of Honorius were confined to the defence of Italy. He once more
abandoned the provinces, recalled the troops, pressed the new levies,
which were rigorously exacted, and pusillanimously eluded; employed the
most efficacious means to arrest, or allure, the deserters; and offered
the gift of freedom, and of two pieces of gold, to all the slaves who
would enlist. By these efforts he painfully collected, from the subjects
of a great empire, an army of thirty or forty thousand men, which, in
the days of Scipio or Camillus, would have been instantly furnished
by the free citizens of the territory of Rome. The thirty legions of
Stilicho were reënforced by a large body of Barbarian auxiliaries; the
faithful Alani were personally attached to his service; and the troops
of Huns and of Goths, who marched under the banners of their native
princes, Huldin and Sarus, were animated by interest and resentment to
oppose the ambition of Radagaisus. The king of the confederate Germans
passed, without resistance, the Alps, the Po, and the Apennine; leaving
on one hand the inaccessible palace of Honorius, securely buried among
the marshes of Ravenna; and, on the other, the camp of Stilicho, who
had fixed his head-quarters at Ticinum, or Pavia, but who seems to have
avoided a decisive battle, till he had assembled his distant forces.
Many cities of Italy were pillaged, or destroyed; and the siege of
Florence, by Radagaisus, is one of the earliest events in the history
of that celebrated republic; whose firmness checked and delayed the
unskillful fury of the Barbarians. The senate and people trembled
at their approached within a hundred and eighty miles of Rome; and
anxiously compared the danger which they had escaped, with the new
perils to which they were exposed. Alaric was a Christian and a soldier,
the leader of a disciplined army; who understood the laws of war, who
respected the sanctity of treaties, and who had familiarly conversed
with the subjects of the empire in the same camps, and the same
churches. The savage Radagaisus was a stranger to the manners, the
religion, and even the language, of the civilized nations of the South.
The fierceness of his temper was exasperated by cruel superstition; and
it was universally believed, that he had bound himself, by a solemn vow,
to reduce the city into a heap of stones and ashes, and to sacrifice the
most illustrious of the Roman senators on the altars of those gods
who were appeased by human blood. The public danger, which should have
reconciled all domestic animosities, displayed the incurable madness
of religious faction. The oppressed votaries of Jupiter and Mercury
respected, in the implacable enemy of Rome, the character of a devout
Pagan; loudly declared, that they were more apprehensive of the
sacrifices, than of the arms, of Radagaisus; and secretly rejoiced in
the calamities of their country, which condemned the faith of their
Christian adversaries.

Florence was reduced to the last extremity; and the fainting courage of
the citizens was supported only by the authority of St. Ambrose; who
had communicated, in a dream, the promise of a speedy deliverance. On
a sudden, they beheld, from their walls, the banners of Stilicho, who
advanced, with his united force, to the relief of the faithful city; and
who soon marked that fatal spot for the grave of the Barbarian host. The
apparent contradictions of those writers who variously relate the defeat
of Radagaisus, may be reconciled without offering much violence to
their respective testimonies. Orosius and Augustin, who were intimately
connected by friendship and religion, ascribed this miraculous victory
to the providence of God, rather than to the valor of man. They strictly
exclude every idea of chance, or even of bloodshed; and positively
affirm, that the Romans, whose camp was the scene of plenty and
idleness, enjoyed the distress of the Barbarians, slowly expiring on the
sharp and barren ridge of the hills of Fæsulæ, which rise above the city
of Florence. Their extravagant assertion that not a single soldier of
the Christian army was killed, or even wounded, may be dismissed with
silent contempt; but the rest of the narrative of Augustin and Orosius
is consistent with the state of the war, and the character of Stilicho.
Conscious that he commanded the last army of the republic, his prudence
would not expose it, in the open field, to the headstrong fury of
the Germans. The method of surrounding the enemy with strong lines of
circumvallation, which he had twice employed against the Gothic king,
was repeated on a larger scale, and with more considerable effect. The
examples of Cæsar must have been familiar to the most illiterate of the
Roman warriors; and the fortifications of Dyrrachium, which connected
twenty-four castles, by a perpetual ditch and rampart of fifteen miles,
afforded the model of an intrenchment which might confine, and starve,
the most numerous host of Barbarians. The Roman troops had less
degenerated from the industry, than from the valor, of their ancestors;
and if their servile and laborious work offended the pride of the
soldiers, Tuscany could supply many thousand peasants, who would labor,
though, perhaps, they would not fight, for the salvation of their
native country. The imprisoned multitude of horses and men was gradually
destroyed, by famine rather than by the sword; but the Romans were
exposed, during the progress of such an extensive work, to the frequent
attacks of an impatient enemy. The despair of the hungry Barbarians
would precipitate them against the fortifications of Stilicho; the
general might sometimes indulge the ardor of his brave auxiliaries, who
eagerly pressed to assault the camp of the Germans; and these various
incidents might produce the sharp and bloody conflicts which dignify the
narrative of Zosimus, and the Chronicles of Prosper and Marcellinus.
A seasonable supply of men and provisions had been introduced into the
walls of Florence, and the famished host of Radagaisus was in its turn
besieged. The proud monarch of so many warlike nations, after the loss
of his bravest warriors, was reduced to confide either in the faith of a
capitulation, or in the clemency of Stilicho. But the death of the royal
captive, who was ignominiously beheaded, disgraced the triumph of Rome
and of Christianity; and the short delay of his execution was sufficient
to brand the conqueror with the guilt of cool and deliberate cruelty.
The famished Germans, who escaped the fury of the auxiliaries, were sold
as slaves, at the contemptible price of as many single pieces of gold;
but the difference of food and climate swept away great numbers of those
unhappy strangers; and it was observed, that the inhuman purchasers,
instead of reaping the fruits of their labor were soon obliged to
provide the expense of their interment Stilicho informed the emperor
and the senate of his success; and deserved, a second time, the glorious
title of Deliverer of Italy.

The fame of the victory, and more especially of the miracle, has
encouraged a vain persuasion, that the whole army, or rather nation, of
Germans, who migrated from the shores of the Baltic, miserably perished
under the walls of Florence. Such indeed was the fate of Radagaisus
himself, of his brave and faithful companions, and of more than one
third of the various multitude of Sueves and Vandals, of Alani and
Burgundians, who adhered to the standard of their general. The union of
such an army might excite our surprise, but the causes of separation are
obvious and forcible; the pride of birth, the insolence of valor, the
jealousy of command, the impatience of subordination, and the obstinate
conflict of opinions, of interests, and of passions, among so many kings
and warriors, who were untaught to yield, or to obey. After the defeat
of Radagaisus, two parts of the German host, which must have exceeded
the number of one hundred thousand men, still remained in arms, between
the Apennine and the Alps, or between the Alps and the Danube. It is
uncertain whether they attempted to revenge the death of their general;
but their irregular fury was soon diverted by the prudence and firmness
of Stilicho, who opposed their march, and facilitated their retreat; who
considered the safety of Rome and Italy as the great object of his
care, and who sacrificed, with too much indifference, the wealth and
tranquillity of the distant provinces. The Barbarians acquired, from the
junction of some Pannonian deserters, the knowledge of the country, and
of the roads; and the invasion of Gaul, which Alaric had designed, was
executed by the remains of the great army of Radagaisus.

Yet if they expected to derive any assistance from the tribes of
Germany, who inhabited the banks of the Rhine, their hopes were
disappointed. The Alemanni preserved a state of inactive neutrality; and
the Franks distinguished their zeal and courage in the defence of the
of the empire. In the rapid progress down the Rhine, which was the first
act of the administration of Stilicho, he had applied himself, with
peculiar attention, to secure the alliance of the warlike Franks, and
to remove the irreconcilable enemies of peace and of the republic.
Marcomir, one of their kings, was publicly convicted, before the
tribunal of the Roman magistrate, of violating the faith of treaties. He
was sentenced to a mild, but distant exile, in the province of Tuscany;
and this degradation of the regal dignity was so far from exciting the
resentment of his subjects, that they punished with death the turbulent
Sunno, who attempted to revenge his brother; and maintained a dutiful
allegiance to the princes, who were established on the throne by the
choice of Stilicho. When the limits of Gaul and Germany were shaken by
the northern emigration, the Franks bravely encountered the single force
of the Vandals; who, regardless of the lessons of adversity, had again
separated their troops from the standard of their Barbarian allies. They
paid the penalty of their rashness; and twenty thousand Vandals, with
their king Godigisclus, were slain in the field of battle. The whole
people must have been extirpated, if the squadrons of the Alani,
advancing to their relief, had not trampled down the infantry of the
Franks; who, after an honorable resistance, were compelled to relinquish
the unequal contest. The victorious confederates pursued their march,
and on the last day of the year, in a season when the waters of the
Rhine were most probably frozen, they entered, without opposition, the
defenceless provinces of Gaul. This memorable passage of the Suevi, the
Vandals, the Alani, and the Burgundians, who never afterwards retreated,
may be considered as the fall of the Roman empire in the countries
beyond the Alps; and the barriers, which had so long separated the
savage and the civilized nations of the earth, were from that fatal
moment levelled with the ground.

While the peace of Germany was secured by the attachment of the Franks,
and the neutrality of the Alemanni, the subjects of Rome, unconscious of
their approaching calamities, enjoyed the state of quiet and prosperity,
which had seldom blessed the frontiers of Gaul. Their flocks and
herds were permitted to graze in the pastures of the Barbarians; their
huntsmen penetrated, without fear or danger, into the darkest recesses
of the Hercynian wood. The banks of the Rhine were crowned, like those
of the Tyber, with elegant houses, and well-cultivated farms; and if a
poet descended the river, he might express his doubt, on which side was
situated the territory of the Romans. This scene of peace and plenty was
suddenly changed into a desert; and the prospect of the smoking ruins
could alone distinguish the solitude of nature from the desolation of
man. The flourishing city of Mentz was surprised and destroyed; and
many thousand Christians were inhumanly massacred in the church. Worms
perished after a long and obstinate siege; Strasburgh, Spires, Rheims,
Tournay, Arras, Amiens, experienced the cruel oppression of the German
yoke; and the consuming flames of war spread from the banks of the Rhine
over the greatest part of the seventeen provinces of Gaul. That rich and
extensive country, as far as the ocean, the Alps, and the Pyrenees, was
delivered to the Barbarians, who drove before them, in a promiscuous
crowd, the bishop, the senator, and the virgin, laden with the spoils of
their houses and altars. The ecclesiastics, to whom we are indebted
for this vague description of the public calamities, embraced the
opportunity of exhorting the Christians to repent of the sins which had
provoked the Divine Justice, and to renounce the perishable goods of
a wretched and deceitful world. But as the Pelagian controversy, which
attempts to sound the abyss of grace and predestination, soon became
the serious employment of the Latin clergy, the Providence which had
decreed, or foreseen, or permitted, such a train of moral and natural
evils, was rashly weighed in the imperfect and fallacious balance of
reason. The crimes, and the misfortunes, of the suffering people,
were presumptuously compared with those of their ancestors; and they
arraigned the Divine Justice, which did not exempt from the common
destruction the feeble, the guiltless, the infant portion of the human
species. These idle disputants overlooked the invariable laws of nature,
which have connected peace with innocence, plenty with industry, and
safety with valor. The timid and selfish policy of the court of Ravenna
might recall the Palatine legions for the protection of Italy; the
remains of the stationary troops might be unequal to the arduous task;
and the Barbarian auxiliaries might prefer the unbounded license
of spoil to the benefits of a moderate and regular stipend. But the
provinces of Gaul were filled with a numerous race of hardy and robust
youth, who, in the defence of their houses, their families, and their
altars, if they had dared to die, would have deserved to vanquish. The
knowledge of their native country would have enabled them to oppose
continual and insuperable obstacles to the progress of an invader; and
the deficiency of the Barbarians, in arms, as well as in discipline,
removed the only pretence which excuses the submission of a populous
country to the inferior numbers of a veteran army. When France was
invaded by Charles V., he inquired of a prisoner, how many _days_ Paris
might be distant from the frontier; "Perhaps _twelve_, but they will be
days of battle:" such was the gallant answer which checked the arrogance
of that ambitious prince. The subjects of Honorius, and those of Francis
I., were animated by a very different spirit; and in less than two
years, the divided troops of the savages of the Baltic, whose numbers,
were they fairly stated, would appear contemptible, advanced, without a
combat, to the foot of the Pyrenean Mountains.

In the early part of the reign of Honorius, the vigilance of Stilicho
had successfully guarded the remote island of Britain from her incessant
enemies of the ocean, the mountains, and the Irish coast. But those
restless Barbarians could not neglect the fair opportunity of the Gothic
war, when the walls and stations of the province were stripped of the
Roman troops. If any of the legionaries were permitted to return from
the Italian expedition, their faithful report of the court and character
of Honorius must have tended to dissolve the bonds of allegiance, and
to exasperate the seditious temper of the British army. The spirit of
revolt, which had formerly disturbed the age of Gallienus, was revived
by the capricious violence of the soldiers; and the unfortunate, perhaps
the ambitious, candidates, who were the objects of their choice, were
the instruments, and at length the victims, of their passion. Marcus
was the first whom they placed on the throne, as the lawful emperor of
Britain and of the West. They violated, by the hasty murder of
Marcus, the oath of fidelity which they had imposed on themselves; and
_their_ disapprobation of his manners may seem to inscribe an honorable
epitaph on his tomb. Gratian was the next whom they adorned with
the diadem and the purple; and, at the end of four months, Gratian
experienced the fate of his predecessor. The memory of the great
Constantine, whom the British legions had given to the church and to
the empire, suggested the singular motive of their third choice. They
discovered in the ranks a private soldier of the name of Constantine,
and their impetuous levity had already seated him on the throne, before
they perceived his incapacity to sustain the weight of that glorious
appellation. Yet the authority of Constantine was less precarious, and
his government was more successful, than the transient reigns of Marcus
and of Gratian. The danger of leaving his inactive troops in those
camps, which had been twice polluted with blood and sedition, urged him
to attempt the reduction of the Western provinces. He landed at Boulogne
with an inconsiderable force; and after he had reposed himself some
days, he summoned the cities of Gaul, which had escaped the yoke of
the Barbarians, to acknowledge their lawful sovereign. They obeyed the
summons without reluctance. The neglect of the court of Ravenna had
absolved a deserted people from the duty of allegiance; their actual
distress encouraged them to accept any circumstances of change, without
apprehension, and, perhaps, with some degree of hope; and they might
flatter themselves, that the troops, the authority, and even the name
of a Roman emperor, who fixed his residence in Gaul, would protect the
unhappy country from the rage of the Barbarians. The first successes of
Constantine against the detached parties of the Germans, were magnified
by the voice of adulation into splendid and decisive victories; which
the reunion and insolence of the enemy soon reduced to their just value.
His negotiations procured a short and precarious truce; and if some
tribes of the Barbarians were engaged, by the liberality of his gifts
and promises, to undertake the defence of the Rhine, these expensive
and uncertain treaties, instead of restoring the pristine vigor of the
Gallic frontier, served only to disgrace the majesty of the prince, and
to exhaust what yet remained of the treasures of the republic. Elated,
however, with this imaginary triumph, the vain deliverer of Gaul
advanced into the provinces of the South, to encounter a more pressing
and personal danger. Sarus the Goth was ordered to lay the head of the
rebel at the feet of the emperor Honorius; and the forces of Britain and
Italy were unworthily consumed in this domestic quarrel. After the loss
of his two bravest generals, Justinian and Nevigastes, the former of
whom was slain in the field of battle, the latter in a peaceful but
treacherous interview, Constantine fortified himself within the walls
of Vienna. The place was ineffectually attacked seven days; and the
Imperial army supported, in a precipitate retreat, the ignominy of
purchasing a secure passage from the freebooters and outlaws of the
Alps. Those mountains now separated the dominions of two rival monarchs;
and the fortifications of the double frontier were guarded by the troops
of the empire, whose arms would have been more usefully employed to
maintain the Roman limits against the Barbarians of Germany and Scythia.



Chapter XXX: Revolt Of The Goths.--Part V.

On the side of the Pyrenees, the ambition of Constantine might
be justified by the proximity of danger; but his throne was soon
established by the conquest, or rather submission, of Spain; which
yielded to the influence of regular and habitual subordination, and
received the laws and magistrates of the Gallic præfecture. The only
opposition which was made to the authority of Constantine proceeded not
so much from the powers of government, or the spirit of the people, as
from the private zeal and interest of the family of Theodosius. Four
brothers had obtained, by the favor of their kinsman, the deceased
emperor, an honorable rank and ample possessions in their native
country; and the grateful youths resolved to risk those advantages in
the service of his son. After an unsuccessful effort to maintain their
ground at the head of the stationary troops of Lusitania, they retired
to their estates; where they armed and levied, at their own expense, a
considerable body of slaves and dependants, and boldly marched to occupy
the strong posts of the Pyrenean Mountains. This domestic insurrection
alarmed and perplexed the sovereign of Gaul and Britain; and he was
compelled to negotiate with some troops of Barbarian auxiliaries, for
the service of the Spanish war. They were distinguished by the title of
_Honorians_; a name which might have reminded them of their fidelity to
their lawful sovereign; and if it should candidly be allowed that the
_Scots_ were influenced by any partial affection for a British prince,
the _Moors_ and the _Marcomanni_ could be tempted only by the profuse
liberality of the usurper, who distributed among the Barbarians the
military, and even the civil, honors of Spain. The nine bands of
_Honorians_, which may be easily traced on the establishment of the
Western empire, could not exceed the number of five thousand men: yet
this inconsiderable force was sufficient to terminate a war, which had
threatened the power and safety of Constantine. The rustic army of the
Theodosian family was surrounded and destroyed in the Pyrenees: two
of the brothers had the good fortune to escape by sea to Italy, or the
East; the other two, after an interval of suspense, were executed at
Arles; and if Honorius could remain insensible of the public disgrace,
he might perhaps be affected by the personal misfortunes of his generous
kinsmen. Such were the feeble arms which decided the possession of the
Western provinces of Europe, from the wall of Antoninus to the
columns of Hercules. The events of peace and war have undoubtedly been
diminished by the narrow and imperfect view of the historians of the
times, who were equally ignorant of the causes, and of the effects,
of the most important revolutions. But the total decay of the
national strength had annihilated even the last resource of a despotic
government; and the revenue of exhausted provinces could no longer
purchase the military service of a discontented and pusillanimous
people.

The poet, whose flattery has ascribed to the Roman eagle the victories
of Pollentia and Verona, pursues the hasty retreat of Alaric, from the
confines of Italy, with a horrid train of imaginary spectres, such as
might hover over an army of Barbarians, which was almost exterminated by
war, famine, and disease. In the course of this unfortunate expedition,
the king of the Goths must indeed have sustained a considerable loss;
and his harassed forces required an interval of repose, to recruit
their numbers and revive their confidence. Adversity had exercised and
displayed the genius of Alaric; and the fame of his valor invited to
the Gothic standard the bravest of the Barbarian warriors; who, from the
Euxine to the Rhine, were agitated by the desire of rapine and conquest.
He had deserved the esteem, and he soon accepted the friendship, of
Stilicho himself. Renouncing the service of the emperor of the East,
Alaric concluded, with the court of Ravenna, a treaty of peace and
alliance, by which he was declared master-general of the Roman armies
throughout the præfecture of Illyricum; as it was claimed, according to
the true and ancient limits, by the minister of Honorius. The execution
of the ambitious design, which was either stipulated, or implied, in the
articles of the treaty, appears to have been suspended by the formidable
irruption of Radagaisus; and the neutrality of the Gothic king may
perhaps be compared to the indifference of Cæsar, who, in the conspiracy
of Catiline, refused either to assist, or to oppose, the enemy of
the republic. After the defeat of the Vandals, Stilicho resumed his
pretensions to the provinces of the East; appointed civil magistrates
for the administration of justice, and of the finances; and declared his
impatience to lead to the gates of Constantinople the united armies of
the Romans and of the Goths. The prudence, however, of Stilicho, his
aversion to civil war, and his perfect knowledge of the weakness of the
state, may countenance the suspicion, that domestic peace, rather than
foreign conquest, was the object of his policy; and that his principal
care was to employ the forces of Alaric at a distance from Italy. This
design could not long escape the penetration of the Gothic king, who
continued to hold a doubtful, and perhaps a treacherous, correspondence
with the rival courts; who protracted, like a dissatisfied mercenary,
his languid operations in Thessaly and Epirus, and who soon returned to
claim the extravagant reward of his ineffectual services. From his camp
near Æmona, on the confines of Italy, he transmitted to the emperor of
the West a long account of promises, of expenses, and of demands; called
for immediate satisfaction, and clearly intimated the consequences of
a refusal. Yet if his conduct was hostile, his language was decent and
dutiful. He humbly professed himself the friend of Stilicho, and the
soldier of Honorius; offered his person and his troops to march, without
delay, against the usurper of Gaul; and solicited, as a permanent
retreat for the Gothic nation, the possession of some vacant province of
the Western empire.

The political and secret transactions of two statesmen, who labored to
deceive each other and the world, must forever have been concealed in
the impenetrable darkness of the cabinet, if the debates of a popular
assembly had not thrown some rays of light on the correspondence of
Alaric and Stilicho. The necessity of finding some artificial support
for a government, which, from a principle, not of moderation, but of
weakness, was reduced to negotiate with its own subjects, had insensibly
revived the authority of the Roman senate; and the minister of Honorius
respectfully consulted the legislative council of the republic. Stilicho
assembled the senate in the palace of the Cæsars; represented, in a
studied oration, the actual state of affairs; proposed the demands of
the Gothic king, and submitted to their consideration the choice of
peace or war. The senators, as if they had been suddenly awakened from a
dream of four hundred years, appeared, on this important occasion, to
be inspired by the courage, rather than by the wisdom, of their
predecessors. They loudly declared, in regular speeches, or in
tumultuary acclamations, that it was unworthy of the majesty of Rome to
purchase a precarious and disgraceful truce from a Barbarian king; and
that, in the judgment of a magnanimous people, the chance of ruin was
always preferable to the certainty of dishonor. The minister, whose
pacific intentions were seconded only by the voice of a few servile and
venal followers, attempted to allay the general ferment, by an apology
for his own conduct, and even for the demands of the Gothic prince. "The
payment of a subsidy, which had excited the indignation of the Romans,
ought not (such was the language of Stilicho) to be considered in the
odious light, either of a tribute, or of a ransom, extorted by the
menaces of a Barbarian enemy. Alaric had faithfully asserted the just
pretensions of the republic to the provinces which were usurped by the
Greeks of Constantinople: he modestly required the fair and stipulated
recompense of his services; and if he had desisted from the prosecution
of his enterprise, he had obeyed, in his retreat, the peremptory, though
private, letters of the emperor himself. These contradictory orders (he
would not dissemble the errors of his own family) had been procured by
the intercession of Serena. The tender piety of his wife had been too
deeply affected by the discord of the royal brothers, the sons of her
adopted father; and the sentiments of nature had too easily prevailed
over the stern dictates of the public welfare." These ostensible
reasons, which faintly disguise the obscure intrigues of the palace
of Ravenna, were supported by the authority of Stilicho; and obtained,
after a warm debate, the reluctant approbation of the senate. The tumult
of virtue and freedom subsided; and the sum of four thousand pounds of
gold was granted, under the name of a subsidy, to secure the peace
of Italy, and to conciliate the friendship of the king of the Goths.
Lampadius alone, one of the most illustrious members of the assembly,
still persisted in his dissent; exclaimed, with a loud voice, "This is
not a treaty of peace, but of servitude;" and escaped the danger of such
bold opposition by immediately retiring to the sanctuary of a Christian
church.

[See Palace Of The Cæsars]

But the reign of Stilicho drew towards its end; and the proud minister
might perceive the symptoms of his approaching disgrace. The generous
boldness of Lampadius had been applauded; and the senate, so patiently
resigned to a long servitude, rejected with disdain the offer of
invidious and imaginary freedom. The troops, who still assumed the name
and prerogatives of the Roman legions, were exasperated by the partial
affection of Stilicho for the Barbarians: and the people imputed to the
mischievous policy of the minister the public misfortunes, which were
the natural consequence of their own degeneracy. Yet Stilicho might have
continued to brave the clamors of the people, and even of the soldiers,
if he could have maintained his dominion over the feeble mind of his
pupil. But the respectful attachment of Honorius was converted into
fear, suspicion, and hatred. The crafty Olympius, who concealed his
vices under the mask of Christian piety, had secretly undermined the
benefactor, by whose favor he was promoted to the honorable offices of
the Imperial palace. Olympius revealed to the unsuspecting emperor,
who had attained the twenty-fifth year of his age, that he was without
weight, or authority, in his own government; and artfully alarmed his
timid and indolent disposition by a lively picture of the designs of
Stilicho, who already meditated the death of his sovereign, with the
ambitious hope of placing the diadem on the head of his son Eucherius.
The emperor was instigated, by his new favorite, to assume the tone
of independent dignity; and the minister was astonished to find, that
secret resolutions were formed in the court and council, which were
repugnant to his interest, or to his intentions. Instead of residing in
the palace of Rome, Honorius declared that it was his pleasure to return
to the secure fortress of Ravenna. On the first intelligence of the
death of his brother Arcadius, he prepared to visit Constantinople,
and to regulate, with the authority of a guardian, the provinces of the
infant Theodosius. The representation of the difficulty and expense
of such a distant expedition, checked this strange and sudden sally of
active diligence; but the dangerous project of showing the emperor to
the camp of Pavia, which was composed of the Roman troops, the
enemies of Stilicho, and his Barbarian auxiliaries, remained fixed and
unalterable. The minister was pressed, by the advice of his confidant,
Justinian, a Roman advocate, of a lively and penetrating genius, to
oppose a journey so prejudicial to his reputation and safety. His
strenuous but ineffectual efforts confirmed the triumph of Olympius;
and the prudent lawyer withdrew himself from the impending ruin of his
patron.

In the passage of the emperor through Bologna, a mutiny of the guards
was excited and appeased by the secret policy of Stilicho; who announced
his instructions to decimate the guilty, and ascribed to his own
intercession the merit of their pardon. After this tumult, Honorius
embraced, for the last time, the minister whom he now considered as
a tyrant, and proceeded on his way to the camp of Pavia; where he was
received by the loyal acclamations of the troops who were assembled
for the service of the Gallic war. On the morning of the fourth day, he
pronounced, as he had been taught, a military oration in the presence
of the soldiers, whom the charitable visits, and artful discourses, of
Olympius had prepared to execute a dark and bloody conspiracy. At
the first signal, they massacred the friends of Stilicho, the most
illustrious officers of the empire; two Prætorian præfects, of Gaul and
of Italy; two masters-general of the cavalry and infantry; the master of
the offices; the quæstor, the treasurer, and the count of the domestics.
Many lives were lost; many houses were plundered; the furious sedition
continued to rage till the close of the evening; and the trembling
emperor, who was seen in the streets of Pavia without his robes or
diadem, yielded to the persuasions of his favorite; condemned the memory
of the slain; and solemnly approved the innocence and fidelity of their
assassins. The intelligence of the massacre of Pavia filled the mind of
Stilicho with just and gloomy apprehensions; and he instantly summoned,
in the camp of Bologna, a council of the confederate leaders, who
were attached to his service, and would be involved in his ruin. The
impetuous voice of the assembly called aloud for arms, and for revenge;
to march, without a moment's delay, under the banners of a hero, whom
they had so often followed to victory; to surprise, to oppress, to
extirpate the guilty Olympius, and his degenerate Romans; and perhaps
to fix the diadem on the head of their injured general. Instead of
executing a resolution, which might have been justified by success,
Stilicho hesitated till he was irrecoverably lost. He was still ignorant
of the fate of the emperor; he distrusted the fidelity of his own party;
and he viewed with horror the fatal consequences of arming a crowd of
licentious Barbarians against the soldiers and people of Italy. The
confederates, impatient of his timorous and doubtful delay, hastily
retired, with fear and indignation. At the hour of midnight, Sarus,
a Gothic warrior, renowned among the Barbarians themselves for his
strength and valor, suddenly invaded the camp of his benefactor,
plundered the baggage, cut in pieces the faithful Huns, who guarded
his person, and penetrated to the tent, where the minister, pensive and
sleepless, meditated on the dangers of his situation. Stilicho escaped
with difficulty from the sword of the Goths and, after issuing a last
and generous admonition to the cities of Italy, to shut their gates
against the Barbarians, his confidence, or his despair, urged him to
throw himself into Ravenna, which was already in the absolute possession
of his enemies. Olympius, who had assumed the dominion of Honorius, was
speedily informed, that his rival had embraced, as a suppliant the altar
of the Christian church. The base and cruel disposition of the hypocrite
was incapable of pity or remorse; but he piously affected to elude,
rather than to violate, the privilege of the sanctuary. Count Heraclian,
with a troop of soldiers, appeared, at the dawn of day, before the gates
of the church of Ravenna. The bishop was satisfied by a solemn oath,
that the Imperial mandate only directed them to secure the person of
Stilicho: but as soon as the unfortunate minister had been tempted
beyond the holy threshold, he produced the warrant for his instant
execution. Stilicho supported, with calm resignation, the injurious
names of traitor and parricide; repressed the unseasonable zeal of his
followers, who were ready to attempt an ineffectual rescue; and, with a
firmness not unworthy of the last of the Roman generals, submitted his
neck to the sword of Heraclian.

The servile crowd of the palace, who had so long adored the fortune of
Stilicho, affected to insult his fall; and the most distant connection
with the master-general of the West, which had so lately been a title to
wealth and honors, was studiously denied, and rigorously punished. His
family, united by a triple alliance with the family of Theodosius,
might envy the condition of the meanest peasant. The flight of his son
Eucherius was intercepted; and the death of that innocent youth soon
followed the divorce of Thermantia, who filled the place of her sister
Maria; and who, like Maria, had remained a virgin in the Imperial bed.
The friends of Stilicho, who had escaped the massacre of Pavia, were
persecuted by the implacable revenge of Olympius; and the most exquisite
cruelty was employed to extort the confession of a treasonable and
sacrilegious conspiracy. They died in silence: their firmness justified
the choice, and perhaps absolved the innocence of their patron: and
the despotic power, which could take his life without a trial, and
stigmatize his memory without a proof, has no jurisdiction over the
impartial suffrage of posterity. The services of Stilicho are great
and manifest; his crimes, as they are vaguely stated in the language of
flattery and hatred, are obscure at least, and improbable. About four
months after his death, an edict was published, in the name of Honorius,
to restore the free communication of the two empires, which had been
so long interrupted by the _public enemy_. The minister, whose fame
and fortune depended on the prosperity of the state, was accused of
betraying Italy to the Barbarians; whom he repeatedly vanquished at
Pollentia, at Verona, and before the walls of Florence. His pretended
design of placing the diadem on the head of his son Eucherius, could
not have been conducted without preparations or accomplices; and the
ambitious father would not surely have left the future emperor, till
the twentieth year of his age, in the humble station of tribune of the
notaries. Even the religion of Stilicho was arraigned by the malice
of his rival. The seasonable, and almost miraculous, deliverance was
devoutly celebrated by the applause of the clergy; who asserted, that
the restoration of idols, and the persecution of the church, would have
been the first measure of the reign of Eucherius. The son of Stilicho,
however, was educated in the bosom of Christianity, which his father had
uniformly professed, and zealously supported. Serena had borrowed her
magnificent necklace from the statue of Vesta; and the Pagans execrated
the memory of the sacrilegious minister, by whose order the Sibylline
books, the oracles of Rome, had been committed to the flames. The
pride and power of Stilicho constituted his real guilt. An honorable
reluctance to shed the blood of his countrymen appears to have
contributed to the success of his unworthy rival; and it is the last
humiliation of the character of Honorius, that posterity has not
condescended to reproach him with his base ingratitude to the guardian
of his youth, and the support of his empire.

Among the train of dependants whose wealth and dignity attracted the
notice of their own times, _our_ curiosity is excited by the celebrated
name of the poet Claudian, who enjoyed the favor of Stilicho, and was
overwhelmed in the ruin of his patron. The titular offices of tribune
and notary fixed his rank in the Imperial court: he was indebted to
the powerful intercession of Serena for his marriage with a very rich
heiress of the province of Africa; and the statute of Claudian, erected
in the forum of Trajan, was a monument of the taste and liberality of
the Roman senate. After the praises of Stilicho became offensive
and criminal, Claudian was exposed to the enmity of a powerful and
unforgiving courtier, whom he had provoked by the insolence of wit.
He had compared, in a lively epigram, the opposite characters of two
Prætorian præfects of Italy; he contrasts the innocent repose of a
philosopher, who sometimes resigned the hours of business to slumber,
perhaps to study, with the interesting diligence of a rapacious
minister, indefatigable in the pursuit of unjust or sacrilegious, gain.
"How happy," continues Claudian, "how happy might it be for the people
of Italy, if Mallius could be constantly awake, and if Hadrian would
always sleep!" The repose of Mallius was not disturbed by this friendly
and gentle admonition; but the cruel vigilance of Hadrian watched
the opportunity of revenge, and easily obtained, from the enemies
of Stilicho, the trifling sacrifice of an obnoxious poet. The poet
concealed himself, however, during the tumult of the revolution; and,
consulting the dictates of prudence rather than of honor, he addressed,
in the form of an epistle, a suppliant and humble recantation to
the offended præfect. He deplores, in mournful strains, the fatal
indiscretion into which he had been hurried by passion and folly;
submits to the imitation of his adversary the generous examples of the
clemency of gods, of heroes, and of lions; and expresses his hope
that the magnanimity of Hadrian will not trample on a defenceless and
contemptible foe, already humbled by disgrace and poverty, and deeply
wounded by the exile, the tortures, and the death of his dearest
friends. Whatever might be the success of his prayer, or the accidents
of his future life, the period of a few years levelled in the grave
the minister and the poet: but the name of Hadrian is almost sunk in
oblivion, while Claudian is read with pleasure in every country which
has retained, or acquired, the knowledge of the Latin language. If we
fairly balance his merits and his defects, we shall acknowledge that
Claudian does not either satisfy, or silence, our reason. It would not
be easy to produce a passage that deserves the epithet of sublime
or pathetic; to select a verse that melts the heart or enlarges the
imagination. We should vainly seek, in the poems of Claudian, the happy
invention, and artificial conduct, of an interesting fable; or the just
and lively representation of the characters and situations of real life.
For the service of his patron, he published occasional panegyrics and
invectives: and the design of these slavish compositions encouraged
his propensity to exceed the limits of truth and nature. These
imperfections, however, are compensated in some degree by the poetical
virtues of Claudian. He was endowed with the rare and precious talent
of raising the meanest, of adorning the most barren, and of diversifying
the most similar, topics: his coloring, more especially in descriptive
poetry, is soft and splendid; and he seldom fails to display, and even
to abuse, the advantages of a cultivated understanding, a copious fancy,
an easy, and sometimes forcible, expression; and a perpetual flow of
harmonious versification. To these commendations, independent of any
accidents of time and place, we must add the peculiar merit which
Claudian derived from the unfavorable circumstances of his birth. In the
decline of arts, and of empire, a native of Egypt, who had received the
education of a Greek, assumed, in a mature age, the familiar use, and
absolute command, of the Latin language; soared above the heads of his
feeble contemporaries; and placed himself, after an interval of three
hundred years, among the poets of ancient Rome.



Chapter XXXI: Invasion Of Italy, Occupation Of Territories By Barbarians.--Part I.

     Invasion Of Italy By Alaric.--Manners Of The Roman Senate
     And People.--Rome Is Thrice Besieged, And At Length
     Pillaged, By The Goths.--Death Of Alaric.--The Goths
     Evacuate Italy.--Fall Of Constantine.--Gaul And Spain Are
     Occupied By The Barbarians.--Independence Of Britain.

The incapacity of a weak and distracted government may often assume the
appearance, and produce the effects, of a treasonable correspondence
with the public enemy. If Alaric himself had been introduced into the
council of Ravenna, he would probably have advised the same measures
which were actually pursued by the ministers of Honorius. The king of
the Goths would have conspired, perhaps with some reluctance, to destroy
the formidable adversary, by whose arms, in Italy, as well as in Greece,
he had been twice overthrown. _Their_ active and interested hatred
laboriously accomplished the disgrace and ruin of the great Stilicho.
The valor of Sarus, his fame in arms, and his personal, or hereditary,
influence over the confederate Barbarians, could recommend him only to
the friends of their country, who despised, or detested, the worthless
characters of Turpilio, Varanes, and Vigilantius. By the pressing
instances of the new favorites, these generals, unworthy as they had
shown themselves of the names of soldiers, were promoted to the command
of the cavalry, of the infantry, and of the domestic troops. The
Gothic prince would have subscribed with pleasure the edict which
the fanaticism of Olympius dictated to the simple and devout emperor.
Honorius excluded all persons, who were adverse to the Catholic church,
from holding any office in the state; obstinately rejected the service
of all those who dissented from his religion; and rashly disqualified
many of his bravest and most skilful officers, who adhered to the Pagan
worship, or who had imbibed the opinions of Arianism. These measures, so
advantageous to an enemy, Alaric would have approved, and might perhaps
have suggested; but it may seem doubtful, whether the Barbarian would
have promoted his interest at the expense of the inhuman and absurd
cruelty which was perpetrated by the direction, or at least with the
connivance of the Imperial ministers. The foreign auxiliaries, who had
been attached to the person of Stilicho, lamented his death; but the
desire of revenge was checked by a natural apprehension for the safety
of their wives and children; who were detained as hostages in the strong
cities of Italy, where they had likewise deposited their most valuable
effects. At the same hour, and as if by a common signal, the cities of
Italy were polluted by the same horrid scenes of universal massacre and
pillage, which involved, in promiscuous destruction, the families and
fortunes of the Barbarians. Exasperated by such an injury, which might
have awakened the tamest and most servile spirit, they cast a look of
indignation and hope towards the camp of Alaric, and unanimously swore
to pursue, with just and implacable war, the perfidious nation who had
so basely violated the laws of hospitality. By the imprudent conduct
of the ministers of Honorius, the republic lost the assistance, and
deserved the enmity, of thirty thousand of her bravest soldiers; and the
weight of that formidable army, which alone might have determined the
event of the war, was transferred from the scale of the Romans into that
of the Goths.

In the arts of negotiation, as well as in those of war, the Gothic king
maintained his superior ascendant over an enemy, whose seeming changes
proceeded from the total want of counsel and design. From his camp, on
the confines of Italy, Alaric attentively observed the revolutions of
the palace, watched the progress of faction and discontent, disguised
the hostile aspect of a Barbarian invader, and assumed the more popular
appearance of the friend and ally of the great Stilicho: to whose
virtues, when they were no longer formidable, he could pay a just
tribute of sincere praise and regret. The pressing invitation of the
malecontents, who urged the king of the Goths to invade Italy, was
enforced by a lively sense of his personal injuries; and he might
especially complain, that the Imperial ministers still delayed and
eluded the payment of the four thousand pounds of gold which had been
granted by the Roman senate, either to reward his services, or to
appease his fury. His decent firmness was supported by an artful
moderation, which contributed to the success of his designs. He
required a fair and reasonable satisfaction; but he gave the strongest
assurances, that, as soon as he had obtained it, he would immediately
retire. He refused to trust the faith of the Romans, unless Ætius and
Jason, the sons of two great officers of state, were sent as hostages to
his camp; but he offered to deliver, in exchange, several of the noblest
youths of the Gothic nation. The modesty of Alaric was interpreted, by
the ministers of Ravenna, as a sure evidence of his weakness and fear.
They disdained either to negotiate a treaty, or to assemble an army; and
with a rash confidence, derived only from their ignorance of the extreme
danger, irretrievably wasted the decisive moments of peace and war.
While they expected, in sullen silence, that the Barbarians would
evacuate the confines of Italy, Alaric, with bold and rapid marches,
passed the Alps and the Po; hastily pillaged the cities of Aquileia,
Altinum, Concordia, and Cremona, which yielded to his arms; increased
his forces by the accession of thirty thousand auxiliaries; and, without
meeting a single enemy in the field, advanced as far as the edge of the
morass which protected the impregnable residence of the emperor of the
West. Instead of attempting the hopeless siege of Ravenna, the prudent
leader of the Goths proceeded to Rimini, stretched his ravages along the
sea-coast of the Hadriatic, and meditated the conquest of the ancient
mistress of the world. An Italian hermit, whose zeal and sanctity were
respected by the Barbarians themselves, encountered the victorious
monarch, and boldly denounced the indignation of Heaven against the
oppressors of the earth; but the saint himself was confounded by the
solemn asseveration of Alaric, that he felt a secret and præternatural
impulse, which directed, and even compelled, his march to the gates of
Rome. He felt, that his genius and his fortune were equal to the most
arduous enterprises; and the enthusiasm which he communicated to
the Goths, insensibly removed the popular, and almost superstitious,
reverence of the nations for the majesty of the Roman name. His troops,
animated by the hopes of spoil, followed the course of the Flaminian
way, occupied the unguarded passes of the Apennine, descended into the
rich plains of Umbria; and, as they lay encamped on the banks of the
Clitumnus, might wantonly slaughter and devour the milk-white oxen,
which had been so long reserved for the use of Roman triumphs. A lofty
situation, and a seasonable tempest of thunder and lightning, preserved
the little city of Narni; but the king of the Goths, despising the
ignoble prey, still advanced with unabated vigor; and after he had
passed through the stately arches, adorned with the spoils of Barbaric
victories, he pitched his camp under the walls of Rome.

During a period of six hundred and nineteen years, the seat of empire
had never been violated by the presence of a foreign enemy. The
unsuccessful expedition of Hannibal served only to display the character
of the senate and people; of a senate degraded, rather than ennobled,
by the comparison of an assembly of kings; and of a people, to whom the
ambassador of Pyrrhus ascribed the inexhaustible resources of the Hydra.
Each of the senators, in the time of the Punic war, had accomplished
his term of the military service, either in a subordinate or a superior
station; and the decree, which invested with temporary command all those
who had been consuls, or censors, or dictators, gave the republic the
immediate assistance of many brave and experienced generals. In the
beginning of the war, the Roman people consisted of two hundred and
fifty thousand citizens of an age to bear arms. Fifty thousand had
already died in the defence of their country; and the twenty-three
legions which were employed in the different camps of Italy, Greece,
Sardinia, Sicily, and Spain, required about one hundred thousand men.
But there still remained an equal number in Rome, and the adjacent
territory, who were animated by the same intrepid courage; and every
citizen was trained, from his earliest youth, in the discipline and
exercises of a soldier. Hannibal was astonished by the constancy of
the senate, who, without raising the siege of Capua, or recalling their
scattered forces, expected his approach. He encamped on the banks of
the Anio, at the distance of three miles from the city; and he was soon
informed, that the ground on which he had pitched his tent, was sold for
an adequate price at a public auction; and that a body of troops was
dismissed by an opposite road, to reënforce the legions of Spain. He led
his Africans to the gates of Rome, where he found three armies in order
of battle, prepared to receive him; but Hannibal dreaded the event of a
combat, from which he could not hope to escape, unless he destroyed the
last of his enemies; and his speedy retreat confessed the invincible
courage of the Romans.

From the time of the Punic war, the uninterrupted succession of senators
had preserved the name and image of the republic; and the degenerate
subjects of Honorius ambitiously derived their descent from the heroes
who had repulsed the arms of Hannibal, and subdued the nations of
the earth. The temporal honors which the devout Paula inherited and
despised, are carefully recapitulated by Jerom, the guide of her
conscience, and the historian of her life. The genealogy of her father,
Rogatus, which ascended as high as Agamemnon, might seem to betray a
Grecian origin; but her mother, Blæsilla, numbered the Scipios, Æmilius
Paulus, and the Gracchi, in the list of her ancestors; and Toxotius, the
husband of Paula, deduced his royal lineage from Æneas, the father of
the Julian line. The vanity of the rich, who desired to be noble, was
gratified by these lofty pretensions. Encouraged by the applause of
their parasites, they easily imposed on the credulity of the vulgar; and
were countenanced, in some measure, by the custom of adopting the name
of their patron, which had always prevailed among the freedmen and
clients of illustrious families. Most of those families, however,
attacked by so many causes of external violence or internal decay, were
gradually extirpated; and it would be more reasonable to seek for a
lineal descent of twenty generations, among the mountains of the Alps,
or in the peaceful solitude of Apulia, than on the theatre of Rome, the
seat of fortune, of danger, and of perpetual revolutions. Under each
successive reign, and from every province of the empire, a crowd of
hardy adventurers, rising to eminence by their talents or their vices,
usurped the wealth, the honors, and the palaces of Rome; and oppressed,
or protected, the poor and humble remains of consular families; who were
ignorant, perhaps, of the glory of their ancestors.

In the time of Jerom and Claudian, the senators unanimously yielded the
preeminence to the Anician line; and a slight view of _their_ history
will serve to appreciate the rank and antiquity of the noble families,
which contended only for the second place. During the five first ages
of the city, the name of the Anicians was unknown; they appear to
have derived their origin from Præneste; and the ambition of those new
citizens was long satisfied with the Plebeian honors of tribunes of the
people. One hundred and sixty-eight years before the Christian æra,
the family was ennobled by the Prætorship of Anicius, who gloriously
terminated the Illyrian war, by the conquest of the nation, and the
captivity of their king. From the triumph of that general, three
consulships, in distant periods, mark the succession of the Anician
name. From the reign of Diocletian to the final extinction of the
Western empire, that name shone with a lustre which was not eclipsed,
in the public estimation, by the majesty of the Imperial purple. The
several branches, to whom it was communicated, united, by marriage or
inheritance, the wealth and titles of the Annian, the Petronian, and the
Olybrian houses; and in each generation the number of consulships was
multiplied by an hereditary claim. The Anician family excelled in faith
and in riches: they were the first of the Roman senate who embraced
Christianity; and it is probable that Anicius Julian, who was afterwards
consul and præfect of the city, atoned for his attachment to the party
of Maxentius, by the readiness with which he accepted the religion of
Constantine. Their ample patrimony was increased by the industry of
Probus, the chief of the Anician family; who shared with Gratian the
honors of the consulship, and exercised, four times, the high office
of Prætorian præfect. His immense estates were scattered over the
wide extent of the Roman world; and though the public might suspect or
disapprove the methods by which they had been acquired, the generosity
and magnificence of that fortunate statesman deserved the gratitude
of his clients, and the admiration of strangers. Such was the respect
entertained for his memory, that the two sons of Probus, in their
earliest youth, and at the request of the senate, were associated in
the consular dignity; a memorable distinction, without example, in the
annals of Rome.



Chapter XXXI: Invasion Of Italy, Occupation Of Territories By Barbarians.--Part II.

"The marbles of the Anician palace," were used as a proverbial
expression of opulence and splendor; but the nobles and senators of
Rome aspired, in due gradation, to imitate that illustrious family. The
accurate description of the city, which was composed in the Theodosian
age, enumerates one thousand seven hundred and eighty _houses_, the
residence of wealthy and honorable citizens. Many of these stately
mansions might almost excuse the exaggeration of the poet; that Rome
contained a multitude of palaces, and that each palace was equal to a
city: since it included within its own precincts every thing which could
be subservient either to use or luxury; markets, hippodromes, temples,
fountains, baths, porticos, shady groves, and artificial aviaries. The
historian Olympiodorus, who represents the state of Rome when it was
besieged by the Goths, continues to observe, that several of the richest
senators received from their estates an annual income of four thousand
pounds of gold, above one hundred and sixty thousand pounds sterling;
without computing the stated provision of corn and wine, which, had they
been sold, might have equalled in value one third of the money. Compared
to this immoderate wealth, an ordinary revenue of a thousand or fifteen
hundred pounds of gold might be considered as no more than adequate to
the dignity of the senatorian rank, which required many expenses of a
public and ostentatious kind. Several examples are recorded, in the
age of Honorius, of vain and popular nobles, who celebrated the year of
their prætorship by a festival, which lasted seven days, and cost above
one hundred thousand pounds sterling. The estates of the Roman senators,
which so far exceeded the proportion of modern wealth, were not confined
to the limits of Italy. Their possessions extended far beyond the Ionian
and Ægean Seas, to the most distant provinces: the city of Nicopolis,
which Augustus had founded as an eternal monument of the Actian victory,
was the property of the devout Paula; and it is observed by Seneca, that
the rivers, which had divided hostile nations, now flowed through the
lands of private citizens. According to their temper and circumstances,
the estates of the Romans were either cultivated by the labor of
their slaves, or granted, for a certain and stipulated rent, to the
industrious farmer. The economical writers of antiquity strenuously
recommend the former method, wherever it may be practicable; but if
the object should be removed, by its distance or magnitude, from the
immediate eye of the master, they prefer the active care of an old
hereditary tenant, attached to the soil, and interested in the produce,
to the mercenary administration of a negligent, perhaps an unfaithful,
steward.

The opulent nobles of an immense capital, who were never excited by
the pursuit of military glory, and seldom engaged in the occupations of
civil government, naturally resigned their leisure to the business
and amusements of private life. At Rome, commerce was always held
in contempt: but the senators, from the first age of the republic,
increased their patrimony, and multiplied their clients, by the
lucrative practice of usury; and the obsolete laws were eluded, or
violated, by the mutual inclinations and interest of both parties. A
considerable mass of treasure must always have existed at Rome, either
in the current coin of the empire, or in the form of gold and silver
plate; and there were many sideboards in the time of Pliny which
contained more solid silver, than had been transported by Scipio from
vanquished Carthage. The greater part of the nobles, who dissipated
their fortunes in profuse luxury, found themselves poor in the midst of
wealth, and idle in a constant round of dissipation. Their desires were
continually gratified by the labor of a thousand hands; of the numerous
train of their domestic slaves, who were actuated by the fear of
punishment; and of the various professions of artificers and merchants,
who were more powerfully impelled by the hopes of gain. The ancients
were destitute of many of the conveniences of life, which have been
invented or improved by the progress of industry; and the plenty of
glass and linen has diffused more real comforts among the modern
nations of Europe, than the senators of Rome could derive from all
the refinements of pompous or sensual luxury. Their luxury, and their
manners, have been the subject of minute and laborious disposition:
but as such inquiries would divert me too long from the design of
the present work, I shall produce an authentic state of Rome and its
inhabitants, which is more peculiarly applicable to the period of the
Gothic invasion. Ammianus Marcellinus, who prudently chose the capital
of the empire as the residence the best adapted to the historian of
his own times, has mixed with the narrative of public events a lively
representation of the scenes with which he was familiarly conversant.
The judicious reader will not always approve of the asperity of censure,
the choice of circumstances, or the style of expression; he will perhaps
detect the latent prejudices, and personal resentments, which soured the
temper of Ammianus himself; but he will surely observe, with philosophic
curiosity, the interesting and original picture of the manners of Rome.

"The greatness of Rome"--such is the language of the historian--"was
founded on the rare, and almost incredible, alliance of virtue and of
fortune. The long period of her infancy was employed in a laborious
struggle against the tribes of Italy, the neighbors and enemies of
the rising city. In the strength and ardor of youth, she sustained
the storms of war; carried her victorious arms beyond the seas and the
mountains; and brought home triumphal laurels from every country of the
globe. At length, verging towards old age, and sometimes conquering
by the terror only of her name, she sought the blessings of ease and
tranquillity. The venerable city, which had trampled on the necks of
the fiercest nations, and established a system of laws, the perpetual
guardians of justice and freedom, was content, like a wise and wealthy
parent, to devolve on the Cæsars, her favorite sons, the care of
governing her ample patrimony. A secure and profound peace, such as had
been once enjoyed in the reign of Numa, succeeded to the tumults of a
republic; while Rome was still adored as the queen of the earth; and the
subject nations still reverenced the name of the people, and the majesty
of the senate. But this native splendor," continues Ammianus, "is
degraded, and sullied, by the conduct of some nobles, who, unmindful
of their own dignity, and of that of their country, assume an unbounded
license of vice and folly. They contend with each other in the empty
vanity of titles and surnames; and curiously select, or invent, the most
lofty and sonorous appellations, Reburrus, or Fabunius, Pagonius, or
Tarasius, which may impress the ears of the vulgar with astonishment and
respect. From a vain ambition of perpetuating their memory, they affect
to multiply their likeness, in statues of bronze and marble; nor are
they satisfied, unless those statues are covered with plates of gold; an
honorable distinction, first granted to Acilius the consul, after he
had subdued, by his arms and counsels, the power of King Antiochus. The
ostentation of displaying, of magnifying, perhaps, the rent-roll of the
estates which they possess in all the provinces, from the rising to the
setting sun, provokes the just resentment of every man, who recollects,
that their poor and invincible ancestors were not distinguished from the
meanest of the soldiers, by the delicacy of their food, or the
splendor of their apparel. But the modern nobles measure their rank
and consequence according to the loftiness of their chariots, and the
weighty magnificence of their dress. Their long robes of silk and purple
float in the wind; and as they are agitated, by art or accident, they
occasionally discover the under garments, the rich tunics, embroidered
with the figures of various animals. Followed by a train of fifty
servants, and tearing up the pavement, they move along the streets with
the same impetuous speed as if they travelled with post-horses; and the
example of the senators is boldly imitated by the matrons and ladies,
whose covered carriages are continually driving round the immense space
of the city and suburbs. Whenever these persons of high distinction
condescend to visit the public baths, they assume, on their entrance, a
tone of loud and insolent command, and appropriate to their own use
the conveniences which were designed for the Roman people. If, in
these places of mixed and general resort, they meet any of the infamous
ministers of their pleasures, they express their affection by a
tender embrace; while they proudly decline the salutations of their
fellow-citizens, who are not permitted to aspire above the honor of
kissing their hands, or their knees. As soon as they have indulged
themselves in the refreshment of the bath, they resume their rings, and
the other ensigns of their dignity, select from their private wardrobe
of the finest linen, such as might suffice for a dozen persons, the
garments the most agreeable to their fancy, and maintain till their
departure the same haughty demeanor; which perhaps might have been
excused in the great Marcellus, after the conquest of Syracuse.
Sometimes, indeed, these heroes undertake more arduous achievements;
they visit their estates in Italy, and procure themselves, by the toil
of servile hands, the amusements of the chase. If at any time, but more
especially on a hot day, they have courage to sail, in their painted
galleys, from the Lucrine Lake to their elegant villas on the seacoast
of Puteoli and Cayeta, they compare their own expeditions to the marches
of Cæsar and Alexander. Yet should a fly presume to settle on the silken
folds of their gilded umbrellas; should a sunbeam penetrate through
some unguarded and imperceptible chink, they deplore their intolerable
hardships, and lament, in affected language, that they were not born in
the land of the Cimmerians, the regions of eternal darkness. In these
journeys into the country, the whole body of the household marches with
their master. In the same manner as the cavalry and infantry, the
heavy and the light armed troops, the advanced guard and the rear,
are marshalled by the skill of their military leaders; so the domestic
officers, who bear a rod, as an ensign of authority, distribute and
arrange the numerous train of slaves and attendants. The baggage and
wardrobe move in the front; and are immediately followed by a multitude
of cooks, and inferior ministers, employed in the service of the
kitchens, and of the table. The main body is composed of a promiscuous
crowd of slaves, increased by the accidental concourse of idle or
dependent plebeians. The rear is closed by the favorite band of eunuchs,
distributed from age to youth, according to the order of seniority.
Their numbers and their deformity excite the horror of the indignant
spectators, who are ready to execrate the memory of Semiramis, for the
cruel art which she invented, of frustrating the purposes of nature, and
of blasting in the bud the hopes of future generations. In the exercise
of domestic jurisdiction, the nobles of Rome express an exquisite
sensibility for any personal injury, and a contemptuous indifference for
the rest of the human species. When they have called for warm water, if
a slave has been tardy in his obedience, he is instantly chastised with
three hundred lashes: but should the same slave commit a wilful murder,
the master will mildly observe, that he is a worthless fellow; but that,
if he repeats the offence, he shall not escape punishment. Hospitality
was formerly the virtue of the Romans; and every stranger, who could
plead either merit or misfortune, was relieved, or rewarded by their
generosity. At present, if a foreigner, perhaps of no contemptible rank,
is introduced to one of the proud and wealthy senators, he is welcomed
indeed in the first audience, with such warm professions, and such
kind inquiries, that he retires, enchanted with the affability of his
illustrious friend, and full of regret that he had so long delayed
his journey to Rome, the active seat of manners, as well as of empire.
Secure of a favorable reception, he repeats his visit the ensuing day,
and is mortified by the discovery, that his person, his name, and his
country, are already forgotten. If he still has resolution to persevere,
he is gradually numbered in the train of dependants, and obtains the
permission to pay his assiduous and unprofitable court to a haughty
patron, incapable of gratitude or friendship; who scarcely deigns to
remark his presence, his departure, or his return. Whenever the rich
prepare a solemn and popular entertainment; whenever they celebrate,
with profuse and pernicious luxury, their private banquets; the choice
of the guests is the subject of anxious deliberation. The modest, the
sober, and the learned, are seldom preferred; and the nomenclators, who
are commonly swayed by interested motives, have the address to insert,
in the list of invitations, the obscure names of the most worthless
of mankind. But the frequent and familiar companions of the great, are
those parasites, who practise the most useful of all arts, the art of
flattery; who eagerly applaud each word, and every action, of their
immortal patron; gaze with rapture on his marble columns and variegated
pavements; and strenuously praise the pomp and elegance which he is
taught to consider as a part of his personal merit. At the Roman tables,
the birds, the _squirrels_ or the fish, which appear of an uncommon
size, are contemplated with curious attention; a pair of scales is
accurately applied, to ascertain their real weight; and, while the
more rational guests are disgusted by the vain and tedious repetition,
notaries are summoned to attest, by an authentic record, the truth of
such a marvelous event. Another method of introduction into the houses
and society of the great, is derived from the profession of gaming, or,
as it is more politely styled, of play. The confederates are united by
a strict and indissoluble bond of friendship, or rather of conspiracy;
a superior degree of skill in the _Tesserarian_ art (which may be
interpreted the game of dice and tables) is a sure road to wealth
and reputation. A master of that sublime science, who in a supper, or
assembly, is placed below a magistrate, displays in his countenance the
surprise and indignation which Cato might be supposed to feel, when
he was refused the prætorship by the votes of a capricious people. The
acquisition of knowledge seldom engages the curiosity of nobles, who
abhor the fatigue, and disdain the advantages, of study; and the only
books which they peruse are the Satires of Juvenal, and the verbose and
fabulous histories of Marius Maximus. The libraries, which they have
inherited from their fathers, are secluded, like dreary sepulchres, from
the light of day. But the costly instruments of the theatre, flutes, and
enormous lyres, and hydraulic organs, are constructed for their use; and
the harmony of vocal and instrumental music is incessantly repeated in
the palaces of Rome. In those palaces, sound is preferred to sense, and
the care of the body to that of the mind. It is allowed as a salutary
maxim, that the light and frivolous suspicion of a contagious malady, is
of sufficient weight to excuse the visits of the most intimate friends;
and even the servants, who are despatched to make the decent inquiries,
are not suffered to return home, till they have undergone the
ceremony of a previous ablution. Yet this selfish and unmanly delicacy
occasionally yields to the more imperious passion of avarice. The
prospect of gain will urge a rich and gouty senator as far as Spoleto;
every sentiment of arrogance and dignity is subdued by the hopes of an
inheritance, or even of a legacy; and a wealthy childless citizen is
the most powerful of the Romans. The art of obtaining the signature of
a favorable testament, and sometimes of hastening the moment of its
execution, is perfectly understood; and it has happened, that in the
same house, though in different apartments, a husband and a wife, with
the laudable design of overreaching each other, have summoned their
respective lawyers, to declare, at the same time, their mutual, but
contradictory, intentions. The distress which follows and chastises
extravagant luxury, often reduces the great to the use of the most
humiliating expedients. When they desire to borrow, they employ the base
and supplicating style of the slave in the comedy; but when they are
called upon to pay, they assume the royal and tragic declamation of the
grandsons of Hercules. If the demand is repeated, they readily procure
some trusty sycophant, instructed to maintain a charge of poison,
or magic, against the insolent creditor; who is seldom released from
prison, till he has signed a discharge of the whole debt. These vices,
which degrade the moral character of the Romans, are mixed with a
puerile superstition, that disgraces their understanding. They listen
with confidence to the predictions of haruspices, who pretend to
read, in the entrails of victims, the signs of future greatness and
prosperity; and there are many who do not presume either to bathe, or
to dine, or to appear in public, till they have diligently consulted,
according to the rules of astrology, the situation of Mercury, and the
aspect of the moon. It is singular enough, that this vain credulity may
often be discovered among the profane sceptics, who impiously doubt, or
deny, the existence of a celestial power."

_Chapter XXXI: Invasion Of Italy, Occupation Of Territories By Barbarians.--Part III._

In populous cities, which are the seat of commerce and manufactures,
the middle ranks of inhabitants, who derive their subsistence from the
dexterity or labor of their hands, are commonly the most prolific,
the most useful, and, in that sense, the most respectable part of the
community. But the plebeians of Rome, who disdained such sedentary and
servile arts, had been oppressed from the earliest times by the weight
of debt and usury; and the husbandman, during the term of his military
service, was obliged to abandon the cultivation of his farm. The lands
of Italy which had been originally divided among the families of free
and indigent proprietors, were insensibly purchased or usurped by the
avarice of the nobles; and in the age which preceded the fall of the
republic, it was computed that only two thousand citizens were possessed
of an independent substance. Yet as long as the people bestowed, by
their suffrages, the honors of the state, the command of the legions,
and the administration of wealthy provinces, their conscious pride
alleviated in some measure, the hardships of poverty; and their wants
were seasonably supplied by the ambitious liberality of the candidates,
who aspired to secure a venal majority in the thirty-five tribes, or
the hundred and ninety-three centuries, of Rome. But when the prodigal
commons had not only imprudently alienated not only the _use_, but the
_inheritance_ of power, they sunk, under the reign of the Cæsars, into a
vile and wretched populace, which must, in a few generations, have been
totally extinguished, if it had not been continually recruited by the
manumission of slaves, and the influx of strangers. As early as the time
of Hadrian, it was the just complaint of the ingenuous natives, that the
capital had attracted the vices of the universe, and the manners of the
most opposite nations. The intemperance of the Gauls, the cunning and
levity of the Greeks, the savage obstinacy of the Egyptians and Jews,
the servile temper of the Asiatics, and the dissolute, effeminate
prostitution of the Syrians, were mingled in the various multitude,
which, under the proud and false denomination of Romans, presumed to
despise their fellow-subjects, and even their sovereigns, who dwelt
beyond the precincts of the Eternal City.

Yet the name of that city was still pronounced with respect: the
frequent and capricious tumults of its inhabitants were indulged with
impunity; and the successors of Constantine, instead of crushing the
last remains of the democracy by the strong arm of military power,
embraced the mild policy of Augustus, and studied to relieve the
poverty, and to amuse the idleness, of an innumerable people. I. For
the convenience of the lazy plebeians, the monthly distributions of corn
were converted into a daily allowance of bread; a great number of
ovens were constructed and maintained at the public expense; and at the
appointed hour, each citizen, who was furnished with a ticket, ascended
the flight of steps, which had been assigned to his peculiar quarter or
division, and received, either as a gift, or at a very low price, a loaf
of bread of the weight of three pounds, for the use of his family. II.
The forest of Lucania, whose acorns fattened large droves of wild hogs,
afforded, as a species of tribute, a plentiful supply of cheap and
wholesome meat. During five months of the year, a regular allowance of
bacon was distributed to the poorer citizens; and the annual consumption
of the capital, at a time when it was much declined from its former
lustre, was ascertained, by an edict from Valentinian the Third, at
three millions six hundred and twenty-eight thousand pounds. III. In the
manners of antiquity, the use of oil was indispensable for the lamp, as
well as for the bath; and the annual tax, which was imposed on Africa
for the benefit of Rome, amounted to the weight of three millions of
pounds, to the measure, perhaps, of three hundred thousand English
gallons. IV. The anxiety of Augustus to provide the metropolis with
sufficient plenty of corn, was not extended beyond that necessary
article of human subsistence; and when the popular clamor accused the
dearness and scarcity of wine, a proclamation was issued, by the grave
reformer, to remind his subjects that no man could reasonably complain
of thirst, since the aqueducts of Agrippa had introduced into the
city so many copious streams of pure and salubrious water. This rigid
sobriety was insensibly relaxed; and, although the generous design of
Aurelian does not appear to have been executed in its full extent,
the use of wine was allowed on very easy and liberal terms. The
administration of the public cellars was delegated to a magistrate of
honorable rank; and a considerable part of the vintage of Campania was
reserved for the fortunate inhabitants of Rome.

The stupendous aqueducts, so justly celebrated by the praises of
Augustus himself, replenished the _Therm_, or baths, which had been
constructed in every part of the city, with Imperial magnificence. The
baths of Antoninus Caracalla, which were open, at stated hours, for the
indiscriminate service of the senators and the people, contained above
sixteen hundred seats of marble; and more than three thousand were
reckoned in the baths of Diocletian. The walls of the lofty apartments
were covered with curious mosaics, that imitated the art of the pencil
in the elegance of design, and the variety of colors. The Egyptian
granite was beautifully encrusted with the precious green marble of
Numidia; the perpetual stream of hot water was poured into the capacious
basins, through so many wide mouths of bright and massy silver; and
the meanest Roman could purchase, with a small copper coin, the daily
enjoyment of a scene of pomp and luxury, which might excite the envy of
the kings of Asia. From these stately palaces issued a swarm of dirty
and ragged plebeians, without shoes and without a mantle; who loitered
away whole days in the street of Forum, to hear news and to hold
disputes; who dissipated in extravagant gaming, the miserable pittance
of their wives and children; and spent the hours of the night in the
obscure taverns, and brothels, in the indulgence of gross and vulgar
sensuality.

But the most lively and splendid amusement of the idle multitude,
depended on the frequent exhibition of public games and spectacles.
The piety of Christian princes had suppressed the inhuman combats of
gladiators; but the Roman people still considered the Circus as their
home, their temple, and the seat of the republic. The impatient crowd
rushed at the dawn of day to secure their places, and there were many
who passed a sleepless and anxious night in the adjacent porticos. From
the morning to the evening, careless of the sun, or of the rain,
the spectators, who sometimes amounted to the number of four hundred
thousand, remained in eager attention; their eyes fixed on the horses
and charioteers, their minds agitated with hope and fear, for the
success of the _colors_ which they espoused: and the happiness of Rome
appeared to hang on the event of a race. The same immoderate ardor
inspired their clamors and their applause, as often as they were
entertained with the hunting of wild beasts, and the various modes of
theatrical representation. These representations in modern capitals
may deserve to be considered as a pure and elegant school of taste,
and perhaps of virtue. But the Tragic and Comic Muse of the Romans, who
seldom aspired beyond the imitation of Attic genius, had been almost
totally silent since the fall of the republic; and their place was
unworthily occupied by licentious farce, effeminate music, and splendid
pageantry. The pantomimes, who maintained their reputation from the age
of Augustus to the sixth century, expressed, without the use of
words, the various fables of the gods and heroes of antiquity; and the
perfection of their art, which sometimes disarmed the gravity of the
philosopher, always excited the applause and wonder of the people. The
vast and magnificent theatres of Rome were filled by three thousand
female dancers, and by three thousand singers, with the masters of the
respective choruses. Such was the popular favor which they enjoyed,
that, in a time of scarcity, when all strangers were banished from the
city, the merit of contributing to the public pleasures exempted _them_
from a law, which was strictly executed against the professors of the
liberal arts.

It is said, that the foolish curiosity of Elagabalus attempted to
discover, from the quantity of spiders' webs, the number of the
inhabitants of Rome. A more rational method of inquiry might not have
been undeserving of the attention of the wisest princes, who could
easily have resolved a question so important for the Roman government,
and so interesting to succeeding ages. The births and deaths of the
citizens were duly registered; and if any writer of antiquity had
condescended to mention the annual amount, or the common average, we
might now produce some satisfactory calculation, which would destroy the
extravagant assertions of critics, and perhaps confirm the modest and
probable conjectures of philosophers. The most diligent researches have
collected only the following circumstances; which, slight and imperfect
as they are, may tend, in some degree, to illustrate the question of
the populousness of ancient Rome. I. When the capital of the empire was
besieged by the Goths, the circuit of the walls was accurately measured,
by Ammonius, the mathematician, who found it equal to twenty-one miles.
It should not be forgotten that the form of the city was almost that of
a circle; the geometrical figure which is known to contain the largest
space within any given circumference. II. The architect Vitruvius, who
flourished in the Augustan age, and whose evidence, on this occasion,
has peculiar weight and authority, observes, that the innumerable
habitations of the Roman people would have spread themselves far beyond
the narrow limits of the city; and that the want of ground, which was
probably contracted on every side by gardens and villas, suggested
the common, though inconvenient, practice of raising the houses to a
considerable height in the air. But the loftiness of these buildings,
which often consisted of hasty work and insufficient materials, was the
cause of frequent and fatal accidents; and it was repeatedly enacted by
Augustus, as well as by Nero, that the height of private edifices within
the walls of Rome, should not exceed the measure of seventy feet
from the ground. III. Juvenal laments, as it should seem from his own
experience, the hardships of the poorer citizens, to whom he addresses
the salutary advice of emigrating, without delay, from the smoke
of Rome, since they might purchase, in the little towns of Italy, a
cheerful commodious dwelling, at the same price which they annually paid
for a dark and miserable lodging. House-rent was therefore immoderately
dear: the rich acquired, at an enormous expense, the ground, which they
covered with palaces and gardens; but the body of the Roman people was
crowded into a narrow space; and the different floors, and apartments,
of the same house, were divided, as it is still the custom of Paris, and
other cities, among several families of plebeians. IV. The total number
of houses in the fourteen regions of the city, is accurately stated in
the description of Rome, composed under the reign of Theodosius, and
they amount to forty-eight thousand three hundred and eighty-two. The
two classes of _domus_ and of _insul_, into which they are divided,
include all the habitations of the capital, of every rank and condition
from the marble palace of the Anicii, with a numerous establishment of
freedmen and slaves, to the lofty and narrow lodging-house, where
the poet Codrus and his wife were permitted to hire a wretched garret
immediately under the files. If we adopt the same average, which,
under similar circumstances, has been found applicable to Paris, and
indifferently allow about twenty-five persons for each house, of every
degree, we may fairly estimate the inhabitants of Rome at twelve hundred
thousand: a number which cannot be thought excessive for the capital
of a mighty empire, though it exceeds the populousness of the greatest
cities of modern Europe.

Such was the state of Rome under the reign of Honorius; at the time when
the Gothic army formed the siege, or rather the blockade, of the city.
By a skilful disposition of his numerous forces, who impatiently watched
the moment of an assault, Alaric encompassed the walls, commanded the
twelve principal gates, intercepted all communication with the adjacent
country, and vigilantly guarded the navigation of the Tyber, from which
the Romans derived the surest and most plentiful supply of provisions.
The first emotions of the nobles, and of the people, were those of
surprise and indignation, that a vile Barbarian should dare to insult
the capital of the world: but their arrogance was soon humbled by
misfortune; and their unmanly rage, instead of being directed against
an enemy in arms, was meanly exercised on a defenceless and innocent
victim. Perhaps in the person of Serena, the Romans might have respected
the niece of Theodosius, the aunt, nay, even the adoptive mother, of
the reigning emperor: but they abhorred the widow of Stilicho; and they
listened with credulous passion to the tale of calumny, which accused
her of maintaining a secret and criminal correspondence with the Gothic
invader. Actuated, or overawed, by the same popular frenzy, the senate,
without requiring any evidence of his guilt, pronounced the sentence
of her death. Serena was ignominiously strangled; and the infatuated
multitude were astonished to find, that this cruel act of injustice
did not immediately produce the retreat of the Barbarians, and the
deliverance of the city. That unfortunate city gradually experienced the
distress of scarcity, and at length the horrid calamities of famine. The
daily allowance of three pounds of bread was reduced to one half, to one
third, to nothing; and the price of corn still continued to rise in a
rapid and extravagant proportion. The poorer citizens, who were unable
to purchase the necessaries of life, solicited the precarious charity
of the rich; and for a while the public misery was alleviated by the
humanity of Læta, the widow of the emperor Gratian, who had fixed
her residence at Rome, and consecrated to the use of the indigent
the princely revenue which she annually received from the grateful
successors of her husband. But these private and temporary donatives
were insufficient to appease the hunger of a numerous people; and
the progress of famine invaded the marble palaces of the senators
themselves. The persons of both sexes, who had been educated in the
enjoyment of ease and luxury, discovered how little is requisite to
supply the demands of nature; and lavished their unavailing treasures of
gold and silver, to obtain the coarse and scanty sustenance which they
would formerly have rejected with disdain. The food the most repugnant
to sense or imagination, the aliments the most unwholesome and
pernicious to the constitution, were eagerly devoured, and fiercely
disputed, by the rage of hunger. A dark suspicion was entertained, that
some desperate wretches fed on the bodies of their fellow-creatures,
whom they had secretly murdered; and even mothers, (such was the horrid
conflict of the two most powerful instincts implanted by nature in the
human breast,) even mothers are said to have tasted the flesh of their
slaughtered infants! Many thousands of the inhabitants of Rome expired
in their houses, or in the streets, for want of sustenance; and as the
public sepulchres without the walls were in the power of the enemy the
stench, which arose from so many putrid and unburied carcasses, infected
the air; and the miseries of famine were succeeded and aggravated by
the contagion of a pestilential disease. The assurances of speedy and
effectual relief, which were repeatedly transmitted from the court of
Ravenna, supported for some time, the fainting resolution of the Romans,
till at length the despair of any human aid tempted them to accept the
offers of a præternatural deliverance. Pompeianus, præfect of the city,
had been persuaded, by the art or fanaticism of some Tuscan diviners,
that, by the mysterious force of spells and sacrifices, they could
extract the lightning from the clouds, and point those celestial
fires against the camp of the Barbarians. The important secret was
communicated to Innocent, the bishop of Rome; and the successor of St.
Peter is accused, perhaps without foundation, of preferring the safety
of the republic to the rigid severity of the Christian worship. But when
the question was agitated in the senate; when it was proposed, as an
essential condition, that those sacrifices should be performed in the
Capitol, by the authority, and in the presence, of the magistrates, the
majority of that respectable assembly, apprehensive either of the
Divine or of the Imperial displeasure, refused to join in an act, which
appeared almost equivalent to the public restoration of Paganism.

The last resource of the Romans was in the clemency, or at least in the
moderation, of the king of the Goths. The senate, who in this emergency
assumed the supreme powers of government, appointed two ambassadors
to negotiate with the enemy. This important trust was delegated to
Basilius, a senator, of Spanish extraction, and already conspicuous in
the administration of provinces; and to John, the first tribune of the
notaries, who was peculiarly qualified, by his dexterity in business,
as well as by his former intimacy with the Gothic prince. When they were
introduced into his presence, they declared, perhaps in a more lofty
style than became their abject condition, that the Romans were resolved
to maintain their dignity, either in peace or war; and that, if Alaric
refused them a fair and honorable capitulation, he might sound his
trumpets, and prepare to give battle to an innumerable people, exercised
in arms, and animated by despair. "The thicker the hay, the easier it is
mowed," was the concise reply of the Barbarian; and this rustic metaphor
was accompanied by a loud and insulting laugh, expressive of his
contempt for the menaces of an unwarlike populace, enervated by luxury
before they were emaciated by famine. He then condescended to fix the
ransom, which he would accept as the price of his retreat from the walls
of Rome: _all_ the gold and silver in the city, whether it were the
property of the state, or of individuals; _all_ the rich and precious
movables; and _all_ the slaves that could prove their title to the
name of _Barbarians_. The ministers of the senate presumed to ask, in a
modest and suppliant tone, "If such, O king, are your demands, what do
you intend to leave us?" "Your Lives!" replied the haughty conqueror:
they trembled, and retired. Yet, before they retired, a short suspension
of arms was granted, which allowed some time for a more temperate
negotiation. The stern features of Alaric were insensibly relaxed; he
abated much of the rigor of his terms; and at length consented to raise
the siege, on the immediate payment of five thousand pounds of gold,
of thirty thousand pounds of silver, of four thousand robes of silk,
of three thousand pieces of fine scarlet cloth, and of three thousand
pounds weight of pepper. But the public treasury was exhausted; the
annual rents of the great estates in Italy and the provinces, had been
exchanged, during the famine, for the vilest sustenance; the hoards of
secret wealth were still concealed by the obstinacy of avarice; and
some remains of consecrated spoils afforded the only resource that
could avert the impending ruin of the city. As soon as the Romans had
satisfied the rapacious demands of Alaric, they were restored, in some
measure, to the enjoyment of peace and plenty. Several of the gates were
cautiously opened; the importation of provisions from the river and the
adjacent country was no longer obstructed by the Goths; the citizens
resorted in crowds to the free market, which was held during three days
in the suburbs; and while the merchants who undertook this gainful
trade made a considerable profit, the future subsistence of the city was
secured by the ample magazines which were deposited in the public
and private granaries. A more regular discipline than could have been
expected, was maintained in the camp of Alaric; and the wise Barbarian
justified his regard for the faith of treaties, by the just severity
with which he chastised a party of licentious Goths, who had insulted
some Roman citizens on the road to Ostia. His army, enriched by the
contributions of the capital, slowly advanced into the fair and fruitful
province of Tuscany, where he proposed to establish his winter quarters;
and the Gothic standard became the refuge of forty thousand Barbarian
slaves, who had broke their chains, and aspired, under the command of
their great deliverer, to revenge the injuries and the disgrace of
their cruel servitude. About the same time, he received a more honorable
reenforcement of Goths and Huns, whom Adolphus, the brother of his wife,
had conducted, at his pressing invitation, from the banks of the Danube
to those of the Tyber, and who had cut their way, with some difficulty
and loss, through the superior number of the Imperial troops. A
victorious leader, who united the daring spirit of a Barbarian with
the art and discipline of a Roman general, was at the head of a hundred
thousand fighting men; and Italy pronounced, with terror and respect,
the formidable name of Alaric.



Chapter XXXI: Invasion Of Italy, Occupation Of Territories By Barbarians.--Part IV.

At the distance of fourteen centuries, we may be satisfied with relating
the military exploits of the conquerors of Rome, without presuming to
investigate the motives of their political conduct. In the midst of
his apparent prosperity, Alaric was conscious, perhaps, of some secret
weakness, some internal defect; or perhaps the moderation which he
displayed, was intended only to deceive and disarm the easy credulity
of the ministers of Honorius. The king of the Goths repeatedly declared,
that it was his desire to be considered as the friend of peace, and
of the Romans. Three senators, at his earnest request, were sent
ambassadors to the court of Ravenna, to solicit the exchange of
hostages, and the conclusion of the treaty; and the proposals, which he
more clearly expressed during the course of the negotiations, could only
inspire a doubt of his sincerity, as they might seem inadequate to
the state of his fortune. The Barbarian still aspired to the rank
of master-general of the armies of the West; he stipulated an annual
subsidy of corn and money; and he chose the provinces of Dalmatia,
Noricum, and Venetia, for the seat of his new kingdom, which would have
commanded the important communication between Italy and the Danube. If
these modest terms should be rejected, Alaric showed a disposition to
relinquish his pecuniary demands, and even to content himself with
the possession of Noricum; an exhausted and impoverished country,
perpetually exposed to the inroads of the Barbarians of Germany. But the
hopes of peace were disappointed by the weak obstinacy, or interested
views, of the minister Olympius. Without listening to the salutary
remonstrances of the senate, he dismissed their ambassadors under the
conduct of a military escort, too numerous for a retinue of honor, and
too feeble for any army of defence. Six thousand Dalmatians, the flower
of the Imperial legions, were ordered to march from Ravenna to Rome,
through an open country which was occupied by the formidable myriads of
the Barbarians. These brave legionaries, encompassed and betrayed, fell
a sacrifice to ministerial folly; their general, Valens, with a hundred
soldiers, escaped from the field of battle; and one of the ambassadors,
who could no longer claim the protection of the law of nations, was
obliged to purchase his freedom with a ransom of thirty thousand
pieces of gold. Yet Alaric, instead of resenting this act of impotent
hostility, immediately renewed his proposals of peace; and the second
embassy of the Roman senate, which derived weight and dignity from the
presence of Innocent, bishop of the city, was guarded from the dangers
of the road by a detachment of Gothic soldiers.

Olympius might have continued to insult the just resentment of a people
who loudly accused him as the author of the public calamities; but his
power was undermined by the secret intrigues of the palace. The favorite
eunuchs transferred the government of Honorius, and the empire, to
Jovius, the Prætorian præfect; an unworthy servant, who did not atone,
by the merit of personal attachment, for the errors and misfortunes
of his administration. The exile, or escape, of the guilty Olympius,
reserved him for more vicissitudes of fortune: he experienced the
adventures of an obscure and wandering life; he again rose to power;
he fell a second time into disgrace; his ears were cut off; he expired
under the lash; and his ignominious death afforded a grateful spectacle
to the friends of Stilicho. After the removal of Olympius, whose
character was deeply tainted with religious fanaticism, the Pagans and
heretics were delivered from the impolitic proscription, which excluded
them from the dignities of the state. The brave Gennerid, a soldier of
Barbarian origin, who still adhered to the worship of his ancestors,
had been obliged to lay aside the military belt: and though he was
repeatedly assured by the emperor himself, that laws were not made
for persons of his rank or merit, he refused to accept any partial
dispensation, and persevered in honorable disgrace, till he had extorted
a general act of justice from the distress of the Roman government. The
conduct of Gennerid in the important station to which he was promoted or
restored, of master-general of Dalmatia, Pannonia, Noricum, and Rhætia,
seemed to revive the discipline and spirit of the republic. From a life
of idleness and want, his troops were soon habituated to severe exercise
and plentiful subsistence; and his private generosity often supplied the
rewards, which were denied by the avarice, or poverty, of the court of
Ravenna. The valor of Gennerid, formidable to the adjacent Barbarians,
was the firmest bulwark of the Illyrian frontier; and his vigilant
care assisted the empire with a reenforcement of ten thousand Huns,
who arrived on the confines of Italy, attended by such a convoy of
provisions, and such a numerous train of sheep and oxen, as might
have been sufficient, not only for the march of an army, but for the
settlement of a colony. But the court and councils of Honorius still
remained a scene of weakness and distraction, of corruption and anarchy.
Instigated by the præfect Jovius, the guards rose in furious mutiny, and
demanded the heads of two generals, and of the two principal eunuchs.
The generals, under a perfidious promise of safety, were sent on
shipboard, and privately executed; while the favor of the eunuchs
procured them a mild and secure exile at Milan and Constantinople.
Eusebius the eunuch, and the Barbarian Allobich, succeeded to the
command of the bed-chamber and of the guards; and the mutual jealousy of
these subordinate ministers was the cause of their mutual destruction.
By the insolent order of the count of the domestics, the great
chamberlain was shamefully beaten to death with sticks, before the eyes
of the astonished emperor; and the subsequent assassination of Allobich,
in the midst of a public procession, is the only circumstance of his
life, in which Honorius discovered the faintest symptom of courage or
resentment. Yet before they fell, Eusebius and Allobich had contributed
their part to the ruin of the empire, by opposing the conclusion of a
treaty which Jovius, from a selfish, and perhaps a criminal, motive,
had negotiated with Alaric, in a personal interview under the walls
of Rimini. During the absence of Jovius, the emperor was persuaded
to assume a lofty tone of inflexible dignity, such as neither his
situation, nor his character, could enable him to support; and a letter,
signed with the name of Honorius, was immediately despatched to the
Prætorian præfect, granting him a free permission to dispose of the
public money, but sternly refusing to prostitute the military honors of
Rome to the proud demands of a Barbarian. This letter was imprudently
communicated to Alaric himself; and the Goth, who in the whole
transaction had behaved with temper and decency, expressed, in the most
outrageous language, his lively sense of the insult so wantonly offered
to his person and to his nation. The conference of Rimini was hastily
interrupted; and the præfect Jovius, on his return to Ravenna, was
compelled to adopt, and even to encourage, the fashionable opinions
of the court. By his advice and example, the principal officers of the
state and army were obliged to swear, that, without listening, in _any_
circumstances, to _any_ conditions of peace, they would still persevere
in perpetual and implacable war against the enemy of the republic. This
rash engagement opposed an insuperable bar to all future negotiation.
The ministers of Honorius were heard to declare, that, if they had only
invoked the name of the Deity, they would consult the public safety,
and trust their souls to the mercy of Heaven: but they had sworn by the
sacred head of the emperor himself; they had sworn by the sacred head of
the emperor himself; they had touched, in solemn ceremony, that august
seat of majesty and wisdom; and the violation of their oath would expose
them to the temporal penalties of sacrilege and rebellion.

While the emperor and his court enjoyed, with sullen pride, the security
of the marches and fortifications of Ravenna, they abandoned Rome,
almost without defence, to the resentment of Alaric. Yet such was the
moderation which he still preserved, or affected, that, as he moved with
his army along the Flaminian way, he successively despatched the bishops
of the towns of Italy to reiterate his offers of peace, and to conjure
the emperor, that he would save the city and its inhabitants from
hostile fire, and the sword of the Barbarians. These impending
calamities were, however, averted, not indeed by the wisdom of Honorius,
but by the prudence or humanity of the Gothic king; who employed a
milder, though not less effectual, method of conquest. Instead of
assaulting the capital, he successfully directed his efforts against the
_Port_ of Ostia, one of the boldest and most stupendous works of Roman
magnificence. The accidents to which the precarious subsistence of the
city was continually exposed in a winter navigation, and an open road,
had suggested to the genius of the first Cæsar the useful design, which
was executed under the reign of Claudius. The artificial moles, which
formed the narrow entrance, advanced far into the sea, and firmly
repelled the fury of the waves, while the largest vessels securely rode
at anchor within three deep and capacious basins, which received the
northern branch of the Tyber, about two miles from the ancient colony of
Ostia. The Roman _Port_ insensibly swelled to the size of an episcopal
city, where the corn of Africa was deposited in spacious granaries for
the use of the capital. As soon as Alaric was in possession of that
important place, he summoned the city to surrender at discretion; and
his demands were enforced by the positive declaration, that a refusal,
or even a delay, should be instantly followed by the destruction of the
magazines, on which the life of the Roman people depended. The clamors
of that people, and the terror of famine, subdued the pride of the
senate; they listened, without reluctance, to the proposal of placing a
new emperor on the throne of the unworthy Honorius; and the suffrage
of the Gothic conqueror bestowed the purple on Attalus, præfect of the
city. The grateful monarch immediately acknowledged his protector as
master-general of the armies of the West; Adolphus, with the rank of
count of the domestics, obtained the custody of the person of Attalus;
and the two hostile nations seemed to be united in the closest bands of
friendship and alliance.

The gates of the city were thrown open, and the new emperor of the
Romans, encompassed on every side by the Gothic arms, was conducted, in
tumultuous procession, to the palace of Augustus and Trajan. After he
had distributed the civil and military dignities among his favorites and
followers, Attalus convened an assembly of the senate; before whom, in
a format and florid speech, he asserted his resolution of restoring the
majesty of the republic, and of uniting to the empire the provinces of
Egypt and the East, which had once acknowledged the sovereignty of Rome.
Such extravagant promises inspired every reasonable citizen with a just
contempt for the character of an unwarlike usurper, whose elevation
was the deepest and most ignominious wound which the republic had yet
sustained from the insolence of the Barbarians. But the populace,
with their usual levity, applauded the change of masters. The public
discontent was favorable to the rival of Honorius; and the sectaries,
oppressed by his persecuting edicts, expected some degree of
countenance, or at least of toleration, from a prince, who, in his
native country of Ionia, had been educated in the Pagan superstition,
and who had since received the sacrament of baptism from the hands of
an Arian bishop. The first days of the reign of Attalus were fair and
prosperous. An officer of confidence was sent with an inconsiderable
body of troops to secure the obedience of Africa; the greatest part of
Italy submitted to the terror of the Gothic powers; and though the
city of Bologna made a vigorous and effectual resistance, the people of
Milan, dissatisfied perhaps with the absence of Honorius, accepted,
with loud acclamations, the choice of the Roman senate. At the head of a
formidable army, Alaric conducted his royal captive almost to the gates
of Ravenna; and a solemn embassy of the principal ministers, of Jovius,
the Prætorian præfect, of Valens, master of the cavalry and infantry,
of the quæstor Potamius, and of Julian, the first of the notaries, was
introduced, with martial pomp, into the Gothic camp. In the name of
their sovereign, they consented to acknowledge the lawful election
of his competitor, and to divide the provinces of Italy and the West
between the two emperors. Their proposals were rejected with disdain;
and the refusal was aggravated by the insulting clemency of Attalus, who
condescended to promise, that, if Honorius would instantly resign the
purple, he should be permitted to pass the remainder of his life in
the peaceful exile of some remote island. So desperate indeed did the
situation of the son of Theodosius appear, to those who were the best
acquainted with his strength and resources, that Jovius and Valens, his
minister and his general, betrayed their trust, infamously deserted
the sinking cause of their benefactor, and devoted their treacherous
allegiance to the service of his more fortunate rival. Astonished by
such examples of domestic treason, Honorius trembled at the approach of
every servant, at the arrival of every messenger. He dreaded the secret
enemies, who might lurk in his capital, his palace, his bed-chamber;
and some ships lay ready in the harbor of Ravenna, to transport the
abdicated monarch to the dominions of his infant nephew, the emperor of
the East.

But there is a Providence (such at least was the opinion of the
historian Procopius) that watches over innocence and folly; and the
pretensions of Honorius to its peculiar care cannot reasonably be
disputed. At the moment when his despair, incapable of any wise or manly
resolution, meditated a shameful flight, a seasonable reenforcement of
four thousand veterans unexpectedly landed in the port of Ravenna. To
these valiant strangers, whose fidelity had not been corrupted by the
factions of the court, he committed the walls and gates of the city; and
the slumbers of the emperor were no longer disturbed by the apprehension
of imminent and internal danger. The favorable intelligence which was
received from Africa suddenly changed the opinions of men, and the state
of public affairs. The troops and officers, whom Attalus had sent into
that province, were defeated and slain; and the active zeal of Heraclian
maintained his own allegiance, and that of his people. The faithful
count of Africa transmitted a large sum of money, which fixed the
attachment of the Imperial guards; and his vigilance, in preventing the
exportation of corn and oil, introduced famine, tumult, and discontent,
into the walls of Rome. The failure of the African expedition was the
source of mutual complaint and recrimination in the party of Attalus;
and the mind of his protector was insensibly alienated from the interest
of a prince, who wanted spirit to command, or docility to obey. The most
imprudent measures were adopted, without the knowledge, or against the
advice, of Alaric; and the obstinate refusal of the senate, to allow,
in the embarkation, the mixture even of five hundred Goths, betrayed
a suspicious and distrustful temper, which, in their situation, was
neither generous nor prudent. The resentment of the Gothic king was
exasperated by the malicious arts of Jovius, who had been raised to the
rank of patrician, and who afterwards excused his double perfidy, by
declaring, without a blush, that he had only _seemed_ to abandon the
service of Honorius, more effectually to ruin the cause of the usurper.
In a large plain near Rimini, and in the presence of an innumerable
multitude of Romans and Barbarians, the wretched Attalus was publicly
despoiled of the diadem and purple; and those ensigns of royalty were
sent by Alaric, as the pledge of peace and friendship, to the son of
Theodosius. The officers who returned to their duty, were reinstated
in their employments, and even the merit of a tardy repentance was
graciously allowed; but the degraded emperor of the Romans, desirous of
life, and insensible of disgrace, implored the permission of following
the Gothic camp, in the train of a haughty and capricious Barbarian.

The degradation of Attalus removed the only real obstacle to the
conclusion of the peace; and Alaric advanced within three miles of
Ravenna, to press the irresolution of the Imperial ministers, whose
insolence soon returned with the return of fortune. His indignation was
kindled by the report, that a rival chieftain, that Sarus, the personal
enemy of Adolphus, and the hereditary foe of the house of Balti, had
been received into the palace. At the head of three hundred followers,
that fearless Barbarian immediately sallied from the gates of Ravenna;
surprised, and cut in pieces, a considerable body of Goths; reentered
the city in triumph; and was permitted to insult his adversary, by the
voice of a herald, who publicly declared that the guilt of Alaric had
forever excluded him from the friendship and alliance of the emperor.
The crime and folly of the court of Ravenna was expiated, a third
time, by the calamities of Rome. The king of the Goths, who no longer
dissembled his appetite for plunder and revenge, appeared in arms under
the walls of the capital; and the trembling senate, without any hopes of
relief, prepared, by a desperate resistance, to defray the ruin of their
country. But they were unable to guard against the secret conspiracy
of their slaves and domestics; who, either from birth or interest,
were attached to the cause of the enemy. At the hour of midnight, the
Salarian gate was silently opened, and the inhabitants were awakened
by the tremendous sound of the Gothic trumpet. Eleven hundred and
sixty-three years after the foundation of Rome, the Imperial city,
which had subdued and civilized so considerable a part of mankind, was
delivered to the licentious fury of the tribes of Germany and Scythia.

The proclamation of Alaric, when he forced his entrance into a
vanquished city, discovered, however, some regard for the laws of
humanity and religion. He encouraged his troops boldly to seize the
rewards of valor, and to enrich themselves with the spoils of a wealthy
and effeminate people: but he exhorted them, at the same time, to spare
the lives of the unresisting citizens, and to respect the churches
of the apostles, St. Peter and St. Paul, as holy and inviolable
sanctuaries. Amidst the horrors of a nocturnal tumult, several of the
Christian Goths displayed the fervor of a recent conversion; and some
instances of their uncommon piety and moderation are related, and
perhaps adorned, by the zeal of ecclesiastical writers. While the
Barbarians roamed through the city in quest of prey, the humble dwelling
of an aged virgin, who had devoted her life to the service of the altar,
was forced open by one of the powerful Goths. He immediately demanded,
though in civil language, all the gold and silver in her possession;
and was astonished at the readiness with which she conducted him to a
splendid hoard of massy plate, of the richest materials, and the most
curious workmanship. The Barbarian viewed with wonder and delight this
valuable acquisition, till he was interrupted by a serious admonition,
addressed to him in the following words: "These," said she, "are the
consecrated vessels belonging to St. Peter: if you presume to touch
them, the sacrilegious deed will remain on your conscience. For my part,
I dare not keep what I am unable to defend." The Gothic captain, struck
with reverential awe, despatched a messenger to inform the king of the
treasure which he had discovered; and received a peremptory order
from Alaric, that all the consecrated plate and ornaments should be
transported, without damage or delay, to the church of the apostle. From
the extremity, perhaps, of the Quirinal hill, to the distant quarter of
the Vatican, a numerous detachment of Goths, marching in order of battle
through the principal streets, protected, with glittering arms, the long
train of their devout companions, who bore aloft, on their heads,
the sacred vessels of gold and silver; and the martial shouts of the
Barbarians were mingled with the sound of religious psalmody. From
all the adjacent houses, a crowd of Christians hastened to join this
edifying procession; and a multitude of fugitives, without distinction
of age, or rank, or even of sect, had the good fortune to escape to
the secure and hospitable sanctuary of the Vatican. The learned work,
concerning the _City of God_, was professedly composed by St. Augustin,
to justify the ways of Providence in the destruction of the Roman
greatness. He celebrates, with peculiar satisfaction, this memorable
triumph of Christ; and insults his adversaries, by challenging them
to produce some similar example of a town taken by storm, in which the
fabulous gods of antiquity had been able to protect either themselves or
their deluded votaries.

In the sack of Rome, some rare and extraordinary examples of Barbarian
virtue have been deservedly applauded. But the holy precincts of
the Vatican, and the apostolic churches, could receive a very small
proportion of the Roman people; many thousand warriors, more especially
of the Huns, who served under the standard of Alaric, were strangers
to the name, or at least to the faith, of Christ; and we may suspect,
without any breach of charity or candor, that in the hour of savage
license, when every passion was inflamed, and every restraint was
removed, the precepts of the Gospel seldom influenced the behavior of
the Gothic Christians. The writers, the best disposed to exaggerate
their clemency, have freely confessed, that a cruel slaughter was made
of the Romans; and that the streets of the city were filled with dead
bodies, which remained without burial during the general consternation.
The despair of the citizens was sometimes converted into fury: and
whenever the Barbarians were provoked by opposition, they extended the
promiscuous massacre to the feeble, the innocent, and the helpless. The
private revenge of forty thousand slaves was exercised without pity or
remorse; and the ignominious lashes, which they had formerly received,
were washed away in the blood of the guilty, or obnoxious, families. The
matrons and virgins of Rome were exposed to injuries more dreadful, in
the apprehension of chastity, than death itself; and the ecclesiastical
historian has selected an example of female virtue, for the admiration
of future ages. A Roman lady, of singular beauty and orthodox faith,
had excited the impatient desires of a young Goth, who, according to
the sagacious remark of Sozomen, was attached to the Arian heresy.
Exasperated by her obstinate resistance, he drew his sword, and, with
the anger of a lover, slightly wounded her neck. The bleeding heroine
still continued to brave his resentment, and to repel his love, till the
ravisher desisted from his unavailing efforts, respectfully conducted
her to the sanctuary of the Vatican, and gave six pieces of gold to
the guards of the church, on condition that they should restore her
inviolate to the arms of her husband. Such instances of courage and
generosity were not extremely common. The brutal soldiers satisfied
their sensual appetites, without consulting either the inclination or
the duties of their female captives: and a nice question of casuistry
was seriously agitated, Whether those tender victims, who had inflexibly
refused their consent to the violation which they sustained, had lost,
by their misfortune, the glorious crown of virginity. Their were other
losses indeed of a more substantial kind, and more general concern. It
cannot be presumed, that all the Barbarians were at all times capable of
perpetrating such amorous outrages; and the want of youth, or beauty, or
chastity, protected the greatest part of the Roman women from the danger
of a rape. But avarice is an insatiate and universal passion; since
the enjoyment of almost every object that can afford pleasure to
the different tastes and tempers of mankind may be procured by the
possession of wealth. In the pillage of Rome, a just preference was
given to gold and jewels, which contain the greatest value in the
smallest compass and weight: but, after these portable riches had been
removed by the more diligent robbers, the palaces of Rome were rudely
stripped of their splendid and costly furniture. The sideboards of massy
plate, and the variegated wardrobes of silk and purple, were irregularly
piled in the wagons, that always followed the march of a Gothic army.
The most exquisite works of art were roughly handled, or wantonly
destroyed; many a statue was melted for the sake of the precious
materials; and many a vase, in the division of the spoil, was shivered
into fragments by the stroke of a battle-axe. The acquisition of riches
served only to stimulate the avarice of the rapacious Barbarians, who
proceeded, by threats, by blows, and by tortures, to force from their
prisoners the confession of hidden treasure. Visible splendor and
expense were alleged as the proof of a plentiful fortune; the appearance
of poverty was imputed to a parsimonious disposition; and the obstinacy
of some misers, who endured the most cruel torments before they would
discover the secret object of their affection, was fatal to many unhappy
wretches, who expired under the lash, for refusing to reveal their
imaginary treasures. The edifices of Rome, though the damage has been
much exaggerated, received some injury from the violence of the Goths.
At their entrance through the Salarian gate, they fired the adjacent
houses to guide their march, and to distract the attention of the
citizens; the flames, which encountered no obstacle in the disorder of
the night, consumed many private and public buildings; and the ruins
of the palace of Sallust remained, in the age of Justinian, a stately
monument of the Gothic conflagration. Yet a contemporary historian has
observed, that fire could scarcely consume the enormous beams of solid
brass, and that the strength of man was insufficient to subvert the
foundations of ancient structures. Some truth may possibly be concealed
in his devout assertion, that the wrath of Heaven supplied the
imperfections of hostile rage; and that the proud Forum of Rome,
decorated with the statues of so many gods and heroes, was levelled in
the dust by the stroke of lightning.



Chapter XXXI: Invasion Of Italy, Occupation Of Territories By Barbarians.--Part V.

Whatever might be the numbers of equestrian or plebeian rank, who
perished in the massacre of Rome, it is confidently affirmed that only
one senator lost his life by the sword of the enemy. But it was not
easy to compute the multitudes, who, from an honorable station and a
prosperous fortune, were suddenly reduced to the miserable condition of
captives and exiles. As the Barbarians had more occasion for money
than for slaves, they fixed at a moderate price the redemption of their
indigent prisoners; and the ransom was often paid by the benevolence
of their friends, or the charity of strangers. The captives, who were
regularly sold, either in open market, or by private contract, would
have legally regained their native freedom, which it was impossible for
a citizen to lose, or to alienate. But as it was soon discovered that
the vindication of their liberty would endanger their lives; and that
the Goths, unless they were tempted to sell, might be provoked to
murder, their useless prisoners; the civil jurisprudence had been
already qualified by a wise regulation, that they should be obliged to
serve the moderate term of five years, till they had discharged by their
labor the price of their redemption. The nations who invaded the Roman
empire, had driven before them, into Italy, whole troops of hungry and
affrighted provincials, less apprehensive of servitude than of famine.
The calamities of Rome and Italy dispersed the inhabitants to the most
lonely, the most secure, the most distant places of refuge. While the
Gothic cavalry spread terror and desolation along the sea-coast of
Campania and Tuscany, the little island of Igilium, separated by a
narrow channel from the Argentarian promontory, repulsed, or eluded,
their hostile attempts; and at so small a distance from Rome, great
numbers of citizens were securely concealed in the thick woods of that
sequestered spot. The ample patrimonies, which many senatorian families
possessed in Africa, invited them, if they had time, and prudence, to
escape from the ruin of their country, to embrace the shelter of that
hospitable province. The most illustrious of these fugitives was the
noble and pious Proba, the widow of the præfect Petronius. After
the death of her husband, the most powerful subject of Rome, she had
remained at the head of the Anician family, and successively supplied,
from her private fortune, the expense of the consulships of her
three sons. When the city was besieged and taken by the Goths, Proba
supported, with Christian resignation, the loss of immense riches;
embarked in a small vessel, from whence she beheld, at sea, the
flames of her burning palace, and fled with her daughter Læta, and her
granddaughter, the celebrated virgin, Demetrias, to the coast of Africa.
The benevolent profusion with which the matron distributed the fruits,
or the price, of her estates, contributed to alleviate the misfortunes
of exile and captivity. But even the family of Proba herself was not
exempt from the rapacious oppression of Count Heraclian, who basely
sold, in matrimonial prostitution, the noblest maidens of Rome to the
lust or avarice of the Syrian merchants. The Italian fugitives were
dispersed through the provinces, along the coast of Egypt and Asia, as
far as Constantinople and Jerusalem; and the village of Bethlem, the
solitary residence of St. Jerom and his female converts, was crowded
with illustrious beggars of either sex, and every age, who excited the
public compassion by the remembrance of their past fortune. This awful
catastrophe of Rome filled the astonished empire with grief and terror.
So interesting a contrast of greatness and ruin, disposed the fond
credulity of the people to deplore, and even to exaggerate, the
afflictions of the queen of cities. The clergy, who applied to recent
events the lofty metaphors of oriental prophecy, were sometimes tempted
to confound the destruction of the capital and the dissolution of the
globe.

There exists in human nature a strong propensity to depreciate the
advantages, and to magnify the evils, of the present times. Yet, when
the first emotions had subsided, and a fair estimate was made of the
real damage, the more learned and judicious contemporaries were forced
to confess, that infant Rome had formerly received more essential
injury from the Gauls, than she had now sustained from the Goths in her
declining age. The experience of eleven centuries has enabled posterity
to produce a much more singular parallel; and to affirm with confidence,
that the ravages of the Barbarians, whom Alaric had led from the banks
of the Danube, were less destructive than the hostilities exercised by
the troops of Charles the Fifth, a Catholic prince, who styled himself
Emperor of the Romans. The Goths evacuated the city at the end of six
days, but Rome remained above nine months in the possession of the
Imperialists; and every hour was stained by some atrocious act of
cruelty, lust, and rapine. The authority of Alaric preserved some order
and moderation among the ferocious multitude which acknowledged him
for their leader and king; but the constable of Bourbon had gloriously
fallen in the attack of the walls; and the death of the general removed
every restraint of discipline from an army which consisted of three
independent nations, the Italians, the Spaniards, and the Germans. In
the beginning of the sixteenth century, the manners of Italy exhibited a
remarkable scene of the depravity of mankind. They united the sanguinary
crimes that prevail in an unsettled state of society, with the polished
vices which spring from the abuse of art and luxury; and the loose
adventurers, who had violated every prejudice of patriotism and
superstition to assault the palace of the Roman pontiff, must deserve to
be considered as the most profligate of the _Italians_. At the same æra,
the _Spaniards_ were the terror both of the Old and New World: but their
high-spirited valor was disgraced by gloomy pride, rapacious avarice,
and unrelenting cruelty. Indefatigable in the pursuit of fame and
riches, they had improved, by repeated practice, the most exquisite and
effectual methods of torturing their prisoners: many of the Castilians,
who pillaged Rome, were familiars of the holy inquisition; and some
volunteers, perhaps, were lately returned from the conquest of Mexico
The _Germans_ were less corrupt than the Italians, less cruel than the
Spaniards; and the rustic, or even savage, aspect of those _Tramontane_
warriors, often disguised a simple and merciful disposition. But they
had imbibed, in the first fervor of the reformation, the spirit, as well
as the principles of Luther. It was their favorite amusement to insult,
or destroy, the consecrated objects of Catholic superstition; they
indulged, without pity or remorse, a devout hatred against the clergy
of every denomination and degree, who form so considerable a part of
the inhabitants of modern Rome; and their fanatic zeal might aspire to
subvert the throne of Antichrist, to purify, with blood and fire, the
abominations of the spiritual Babylon.

The retreat of the victorious Goths, who evacuated Rome on the sixth
day, might be the result of prudence; but it was not surely the effect
of fear. At the head of an army encumbered with rich and weighty spoils,
their intrepid leader advanced along the Appian way into the southern
provinces of Italy, destroying whatever dared to oppose his passage, and
contenting himself with the plunder of the unresisting country. The fate
of Capua, the proud and luxurious metropolis of Campania, and which
was respected, even in its decay, as the eighth city of the empire,
is buried in oblivion; whilst the adjacent town of Nola has been
illustrated, on this occasion, by the sanctity of Paulinus, who was
successively a consul, a monk, and a bishop. At the age of forty, he
renounced the enjoyment of wealth and honor, of society and literature,
to embrace a life of solitude and penance; and the loud applause of the
clergy encouraged him to despise the reproaches of his worldly friends,
who ascribed this desperate act to some disorder of the mind or body.
An early and passionate attachment determined him to fix his humble
dwelling in one of the suburbs of Nola, near the miraculous tomb of St.
Fælix, which the public devotion had already surrounded with five
large and populous churches. The remains of his fortune, and of his
understanding, were dedicated to the service of the glorious martyr;
whose praise, on the day of his festival, Paulinus never failed to
celebrate by a solemn hymn; and in whose name he erected a sixth church,
of superior elegance and beauty, which was decorated with many curious
pictures, from the history of the Old and New Testament. Such assiduous
zeal secured the favor of the saint, or at least of the people; and,
after fifteen years' retirement, the Roman consul was compelled to
accept the bishopric of Nola, a few months before the city was invested
by the Goths. During the siege, some religious persons were satisfied
that they had seen, either in dreams or visions, the divine form of
their tutelar patron; yet it soon appeared by the event, that Fælix
wanted power, or inclination, to preserve the flock of which he
had formerly been the shepherd. Nola was not saved from the general
devastation; and the captive bishop was protected only by the general
opinion of his innocence and poverty. Above four years elapsed from the
successful invasion of Italy by the arms of Alaric, to the voluntary
retreat of the Goths under the conduct of his successor Adolphus; and,
during the whole time, they reigned without control over a country,
which, in the opinion of the ancients, had united all the various
excellences of nature and art. The prosperity, indeed, which Italy had
attained in the auspicious age of the Antonines, had gradually declined
with the decline of the empire. The fruits of a long peace perished
under the rude grasp of the Barbarians; and they themselves were
incapable of tasting the more elegant refinements of luxury, which
had been prepared for the use of the soft and polished Italians. Each
soldier, however, claimed an ample portion of the substantial plenty,
the corn and cattle, oil and wine, that was daily collected and consumed
in the Gothic camp; and the principal warriors insulted the villas and
gardens, once inhabited by Lucullus and Cicero, along the beauteous
coast of Campania. Their trembling captives, the sons and daughters of
Roman senators, presented, in goblets of gold and gems, large draughts
of Falernian wine to the haughty victors; who stretched their huge limbs
under the shade of plane-trees, artificially disposed to exclude the
scorching rays, and to admit the genial warmth, of the sun. These
delights were enhanced by the memory of past hardships: the comparison
of their native soil, the bleak and barren hills of Scythia, and the
frozen banks of the Elbe and Danube, added new charms to the felicity of
the Italian climate.

Whether fame, or conquest, or riches, were the object or Alaric, he
pursued that object with an indefatigable ardor, which could neither be
quelled by adversity nor satiated by success. No sooner had he reached
the extreme land of Italy, than he was attracted by the neighboring
prospect of a fertile and peaceful island. Yet even the possession
of Sicily he considered only as an intermediate step to the important
expedition, which he already meditated against the continent of Africa.
The Straits of Rhegium and Messina are twelve miles in length, and, in
the narrowest passage, about one mile and a half broad; and the
fabulous monsters of the deep, the rocks of Scylla, and the whirlpool of
Charybdis, could terrify none but the most timid and unskilful mariners.
Yet as soon as the first division of the Goths had embarked, a sudden
tempest arose, which sunk, or scattered, many of the transports; their
courage was daunted by the terrors of a new element; and the whole
design was defeated by the premature death of Alaric, which fixed,
after a short illness, the fatal term of his conquests. The ferocious
character of the Barbarians was displayed in the funeral of a hero whose
valor and fortune they celebrated with mournful applause. By the
labor of a captive multitude, they forcibly diverted the course of the
Busentinus, a small river that washes the walls of Consentia. The royal
sepulchre, adorned with the splendid spoils and trophies of Rome, was
constructed in the vacant bed; the waters were then restored to their
natural channel; and the secret spot, where the remains of Alaric had
been deposited, was forever concealed by the inhuman massacre of the
prisoners, who had been employed to execute the work.



Chapter XXXI: Invasion Of Italy, Occupation Of Territories By Barbarians.--Part VI.

The personal animosities and hereditary feuds of the Barbarians were
suspended by the strong necessity of their affairs; and the brave
Adolphus, the brother-in-law of the deceased monarch, was unanimously
elected to succeed to his throne. The character and political system
of the new king of the Goths may be best understood from his own
conversation with an illustrious citizen of Narbonne; who afterwards, in
a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, related it to St. Jerom, in the presence
of the historian Orosius. "In the full confidence of valor and victory,
I once aspired (said Adolphus) to change the face of the universe; to
obliterate the name of Rome; to erect on its ruins the dominion of the
Goths; and to acquire, like Augustus, the immortal fame of the founder
of a new empire. By repeated experiments, I was gradually convinced,
that laws are essentially necessary to maintain and regulate a
well-constituted state; and that the fierce, untractable humor of the
Goths was incapable of bearing the salutary yoke of laws and civil
government. From that moment I proposed to myself a different object of
glory and ambition; and it is now my sincere wish that the gratitude of
future ages should acknowledge the merit of a stranger, who employed
the sword of the Goths, not to subvert, but to restore and maintain, the
prosperity of the Roman empire." With these pacific views, the successor
of Alaric suspended the operations of war; and seriously negotiated
with the Imperial court a treaty of friendship and alliance. It was the
interest of the ministers of Honorius, who were now released from
the obligation of their extravagant oath, to deliver Italy from the
intolerable weight of the Gothic powers; and they readily accepted their
service against the tyrants and Barbarians who infested the provinces
beyond the Alps. Adolphus, assuming the character of a Roman general,
directed his march from the extremity of Campania to the southern
provinces of Gaul. His troops, either by force of agreement, immediately
occupied the cities of Narbonne, Thoulouse, and Bordeaux; and though
they were repulsed by Count Boniface from the walls of Marseilles, they
soon extended their quarters from the Mediterranean to the Ocean. The
oppressed provincials might exclaim, that the miserable remnant, which
the enemy had spared, was cruelly ravished by their pretended allies;
yet some specious colors were not wanting to palliate, or justify the
violence of the Goths. The cities of Gaul, which they attacked, might
perhaps be considered as in a state of rebellion against the government
of Honorius: the articles of the treaty, or the secret instructions
of the court, might sometimes be alleged in favor of the seeming
usurpations of Adolphus; and the guilt of any irregular, unsuccessful
act of hostility might always be imputed, with an appearance of truth,
to the ungovernable spirit of a Barbarian host, impatient of peace or
discipline. The luxury of Italy had been less effectual to soften the
temper, than to relax the courage, of the Goths; and they had imbibed
the vices, without imitating the arts and institutions, of civilized
society.

The professions of Adolphus were probably sincere, and his attachment
to the cause of the republic was secured by the ascendant which a Roman
princess had acquired over the heart and understanding of the Barbarian
king. Placidia, the daughter of the great Theodosius, and of Galla,
his second wife, had received a royal education in the palace of
Constantinople; but the eventful story of her life is connected with
the revolutions which agitated the Western empire under the reign of her
brother Honorius. When Rome was first invested by the arms of Alaric,
Placidia, who was then about twenty years of age, resided in the city;
and her ready consent to the death of her cousin Serena has a cruel
and ungrateful appearance, which, according to the circumstances of
the action, may be aggravated, or excused, by the consideration of her
tender age. The victorious Barbarians detained, either as a hostage or
a captive, the sister of Honorius; but, while she was exposed to the
disgrace of following round Italy the motions of a Gothic camp, she
experienced, however, a decent and respectful treatment. The authority
of Jornandes, who praises the beauty of Placidia, may perhaps be
counterbalanced by the silence, the expressive silence, of her
flatterers: yet the splendor of her birth, the bloom of youth,
the elegance of manners, and the dexterous insinuation which she
condescended to employ, made a deep impression on the mind of Adolphus;
and the Gothic king aspired to call himself the brother of the emperor.
The ministers of Honorius rejected with disdain the proposal of an
alliance so injurious to every sentiment of Roman pride; and repeatedly
urged the restitution of Placidia, as an indispensable condition of
the treaty of peace. But the daughter of Theodosius submitted, without
reluctance, to the desires of the conqueror, a young and valiant prince,
who yielded to Alaric in loftiness of stature, but who excelled in the
more attractive qualities of grace and beauty. The marriage of Adolphus
and Placidia was consummated before the Goths retired from Italy; and
the solemn, perhaps the anniversary day of their nuptials was afterwards
celebrated in the house of Ingenuus, one of the most illustrious
citizens of Narbonne in Gaul. The bride, attired and adorned like a
Roman empress, was placed on a throne of state; and the king of the
Goths, who assumed, on this occasion, the Roman habit, contented
himself with a less honorable seat by her side. The nuptial gift,
which, according to the custom of his nation, was offered to Placidia,
consisted of the rare and magnificent spoils of her country. Fifty
beautiful youths, in silken robes, carried a basin in each hand; and one
of these basins was filled with pieces of gold, the other with precious
stones of an inestimable value. Attalus, so long the sport of fortune,
and of the Goths, was appointed to lead the chorus of the Hymeneal
song; and the degraded emperor might aspire to the praise of a skilful
musician. The Barbarians enjoyed the insolence of their triumph; and
the provincials rejoiced in this alliance, which tempered, by the mild
influence of love and reason, the fierce spirit of their Gothic lord.

The hundred basins of gold and gems, presented to Placidia at her
nuptial feast, formed an inconsiderable portion of the Gothic treasures;
of which some extraordinary specimens may be selected from the history
of the successors of Adolphus. Many curious and costly ornaments of pure
gold, enriched with jewels, were found in their palace of Narbonne, when
it was pillaged, in the sixth century, by the Franks: sixty cups, caps,
or chalices; fifteen _patens_, or plates, for the use of the communion;
twenty boxes, or cases, to hold the books of the Gospels: this
consecrated wealth was distributed by the son of Clovis among the
churches of his dominions, and his pious liberality seems to upbraid
some former sacrilege of the Goths. They possessed, with more security
of conscience, the famous _missorium_, or great dish for the service of
the table, of massy gold, of the weight of five hundred pounds, and of
far superior value, from the precious stones, the exquisite workmanship,
and the tradition, that it had been presented by Ætius, the patrician,
to Torismond, king of the Goths. One of the successors of Torismond
purchased the aid of the French monarch by the promise of this
magnificent gift. When he was seated on the throne of Spain, he
delivered it with reluctance to the ambassadors of Dagobert; despoiled
them on the road; stipulated, after a long negotiation, the inadequate
ransom of two hundred thousand pieces of gold; and preserved the
_missorium_, as the pride of the Gothic treasury. When that treasury,
after the conquest of Spain, was plundered by the Arabs, they admired,
and they have celebrated, another object still more remarkable; a table
of considerable size, of one single piece of solid emerald, encircled
with three rows of fine pearls, supported by three hundred and
sixty-five feet of gems and massy gold, and estimated at the price
of five hundred thousand pieces of gold. Some portion of the Gothic
treasures might be the gift of friendship, or the tribute of obedience;
but the far greater part had been the fruits of war and rapine, the
spoils of the empire, and perhaps of Rome.

After the deliverance of Italy from the oppression of the Goths, some
secret counsellor was permitted, amidst the factions of the palace,
to heal the wounds of that afflicted country. By a wise and humane
regulation, the eight provinces which had been the most deeply injured,
Campania, Tuscany, Picenum, Samnium, Apulia, Calabria, Bruttium, and
Lucania, obtained an indulgence of five years: the ordinary tribute was
reduced to one fifth, and even that fifth was destined to restore and
support the useful institution of the public posts. By another law,
the lands which had been left without inhabitants or cultivation, were
granted, with some diminution of taxes, to the neighbors who should
occupy, or the strangers who should solicit them; and the new possessors
were secured against the future claims of the fugitive proprietors.
About the same time a general amnesty was published in the name of
Honorius, to abolish the guilt and memory of all the _involuntary_
offences which had been committed by his unhappy subjects, during
the term of the public disorder and calamity A decent and respectful
attention was paid to the restoration of the capital; the citizens were
encouraged to rebuild the edifices which had been destroyed or damaged
by hostile fire; and extraordinary supplies of corn were imported from
the coast of Africa. The crowds that so lately fled before the sword of
the Barbarians, were soon recalled by the hopes of plenty and pleasure;
and Albinus, præfect of Rome, informed the court, with some anxiety and
surprise, that, in a single day, he had taken an account of the arrival
of fourteen thousand strangers. In less than seven years, the vestiges
of the Gothic invasion were almost obliterated; and the city appeared
to resume its former splendor and tranquillity. The venerable matron
replaced her crown of laurel, which had been ruffled by the storms of
war; and was still amused, in the last moment of her decay, with the
prophecies of revenge, of victory, and of eternal dominion.

This apparent tranquillity was soon disturbed by the approach of a
hostile armament from the country which afforded the daily subsistence
of the Roman people. Heraclian, count of Africa, who, under the most
difficult and distressful circumstances, had supported, with active
loyalty, the cause of Honorius, was tempted, in the year of his
consulship, to assume the character of a rebel, and the title of
emperor. The ports of Africa were immediately filled with the naval
forces, at the head of which he prepared to invade Italy: and his fleet,
when it cast anchor at the mouth of the Tyber, indeed surpassed the
fleets of Xerxes and Alexander, if all the vessels, including the royal
galley, and the smallest boat, did actually amount to the incredible
number of three thousand two hundred. Yet with such an armament, which
might have subverted, or restored, the greatest empires of the earth,
the African usurper made a very faint and feeble impression on the
provinces of his rival. As he marched from the port, along the road
which leads to the gates of Rome, he was encountered, terrified, and
routed, by one of the Imperial captains; and the lord of this mighty
host, deserting his fortune and his friends, ignominiously fled with a
single ship. When Heraclian landed in the harbor of Carthage, he found
that the whole province, disdaining such an unworthy ruler, had returned
to their allegiance. The rebel was beheaded in the ancient temple of
Memory his consulship was abolished: and the remains of his private
fortune, not exceeding the moderate sum of four thousand pounds of gold,
were granted to the brave Constantius, who had already defended the
throne, which he afterwards shared with his feeble sovereign. Honorius
viewed, with supine indifference, the calamities of Rome and Italy; but
the rebellious attempts of Attalus and Heraclian, against his personal
safety, awakened, for a moment, the torpid instinct of his nature. He
was probably ignorant of the causes and events which preserved him
from these impending dangers; and as Italy was no longer invaded by
any foreign or domestic enemies, he peaceably existed in the palace of
Ravenna, while the tyrants beyond the Alps were repeatedly vanquished
in the name, and by the lieutenants, of the son of Theodosius. In the
course of a busy and interesting narrative I might possibly forget
to mention the death of such a prince: and I shall therefore take the
precaution of observing, in this place, that he survived the last siege
of Rome about thirteen years.

The usurpation of Constantine, who received the purple from the legions
of Britain, had been successful, and seemed to be secure. His title was
acknowledged, from the wall of Antoninus to the columns of Hercules;
and, in the midst of the public disorder he shared the dominion, and
the plunder, of Gaul and Spain, with the tribes of Barbarians, whose
destructive progress was no longer checked by the Rhine or Pyrenees.
Stained with the blood of the kinsmen of Honorius, he extorted, from the
court of Ravenna, with which he secretly corresponded, the ratification
of his rebellious claims Constantine engaged himself, by a solemn
promise, to deliver Italy from the Goths; advanced as far as the banks
of the Po; and after alarming, rather than assisting, his pusillanimous
ally, hastily returned to the palace of Arles, to celebrate, with
intemperate luxury, his vain and ostentatious triumph. But this
transient prosperity was soon interrupted and destroyed by the revolt of
Count Gerontius, the bravest of his generals; who, during the absence of
his son Constants, a prince already invested with the Imperial purple,
had been left to command in the provinces of Spain. From some reason, of
which we are ignorant, Gerontius, instead of assuming the diadem,
placed it on the head of his friend Maximus, who fixed his residence
at Tarragona, while the active count pressed forwards, through the
Pyrenees, to surprise the two emperors, Constantine and Constans, before
they could prepare for their defence. The son was made prisoner at
Vienna, and immediately put to death: and the unfortunate youth had
scarcely leisure to deplore the elevation of his family; which had
tempted, or compelled him, sacrilegiously to desert the peaceful
obscurity of the monastic life. The father maintained a siege within the
walls of Arles; but those walls must have yielded to the assailants, had
not the city been unexpectedly relieved by the approach of an Italian
army. The name of Honorius, the proclamation of a lawful emperor,
astonished the contending parties of the rebels. Gerontius, abandoned by
his own troops, escaped to the confines of Spain; and rescued his name
from oblivion, by the Roman courage which appeared to animate the last
moments of his life. In the middle of the night, a great body of his
perfidious soldiers surrounded and attacked his house, which he had
strongly barricaded. His wife, a valiant friend of the nation of the
Alani, and some faithful slaves, were still attached to his person; and
he used, with so much skill and resolution, a large magazine of darts
and arrows, that above three hundred of the assailants lost their lives
in the attempt. His slaves when all the missile weapons were spent,
fled at the dawn of day; and Gerontius, if he had not been restrained
by conjugal tenderness, might have imitated their example; till the
soldiers, provoked by such obstinate resistance, applied fire on all
sides to the house. In this fatal extremity, he complied with the
request of his Barbarian friend, and cut off his head. The wife of
Gerontius, who conjured him not to abandon her to a life of misery and
disgrace, eagerly presented her neck to his sword; and the tragic scene
was terminated by the death of the count himself, who, after three
ineffectual strokes, drew a short dagger, and sheathed it in his heart.
The unprotected Maximus, whom he had invested with the purple, was
indebted for his life to the contempt that was entertained of his power
and abilities. The caprice of the Barbarians, who ravaged Spain, once
more seated this Imperial phantom on the throne: but they soon resigned
him to the justice of Honorius; and the tyrant Maximus, after he had
been shown to the people of Ravenna and Rome, was publicly executed.

The general, (Constantius was his name,) who raised by his approach
the siege of Arles, and dissipated the troops of Gerontius, was born
a Roman; and this remarkable distinction is strongly expressive of the
decay of military spirit among the subjects of the empire. The strength
and majesty which were conspicuous in the person of that general, marked
him, in the popular opinion, as a candidate worthy of the throne, which
he afterwards ascended. In the familiar intercourse of private life, his
manners were cheerful and engaging; nor would he sometimes disdain, in
the license of convivial mirth, to vie with the pantomimes themselves,
in the exercises of their ridiculous profession. But when the trumpet
summoned him to arms; when he mounted his horse, and, bending down (for
such was his singular practice) almost upon the neck, fiercely rolled
his large animated eyes round the field, Constantius then struck terror
into his foes, and inspired his soldiers with the assurance of victory.
He had received from the court of Ravenna the important commission of
extirpating rebellion in the provinces of the West; and the pretended
emperor Constantine, after enjoying a short and anxious respite, was
again besieged in his capital by the arms of a more formidable enemy.
Yet this interval allowed time for a successful negotiation with the
Franks and Alemanni and his ambassador, Edobic, soon returned at the
head of an army, to disturb the operations of the siege of Arles. The
Roman general, instead of expecting the attack in his lines, boldly and
perhaps wisely, resolved to pass the Rhone, and to meet the Barbarians.
His measures were conducted with so much skill and secrecy, that,
while they engaged the infantry of Constantius in the front, they were
suddenly attacked, surrounded, and destroyed, by the cavalry of his
lieutenant Ulphilas, who had silently gained an advantageous post in
their rear. The remains of the army of Edobic were preserved by flight
or submission, and their leader escaped from the field of battle to the
house of a faithless friend; who too clearly understood, that the head
of his obnoxious guest would be an acceptable and lucrative present for
the Imperial general. On this occasion, Constantius behaved with
the magnanimity of a genuine Roman. Subduing, or suppressing, every
sentiment of jealousy, he publicly acknowledged the merit and services
of Ulphilas; but he turned with horror from the assassin of Edobic;
and sternly intimated his commands, that the camp should no longer be
polluted by the presence of an ungrateful wretch, who had violated the
laws of friendship and hospitality. The usurper, who beheld, from the
walls of Arles, the ruin of his last hopes, was tempted to place some
confidence in so generous a conqueror. He required a solemn promise
for his security; and after receiving, by the imposition of hands, the
sacred character of a Christian Presbyter, he ventured to open the gates
of the city. But he soon experienced that the principles of honor and
integrity, which might regulate the ordinary conduct of Constantius,
were superseded by the loose doctrines of political morality. The
Roman general, indeed, refused to sully his laurels with the blood of
Constantine; but the abdicated emperor, and his son Julian, were sent
under a strong guard into Italy; and before they reached the palace of
Ravenna, they met the ministers of death.

At a time when it was universally confessed, that almost every man
in the empire was superior in personal merit to the princes whom the
accident of their birth had seated on the throne, a rapid succession of
usurpers, regardless of the fate of their predecessors, still continued
to arise. This mischief was peculiarly felt in the provinces of
Spain and Gaul, where the principles of order and obedience had been
extinguished by war and rebellion. Before Constantine resigned the
purple, and in the fourth month of the siege of Arles, intelligence was
received in the Imperial camp, that Jovinus has assumed the diadem at
Mentz, in the Upper Germany, at the instigation of Goar, king of
the Alani, and of Guntiarius, king of the Burgundians; and that the
candidate, on whom they had bestowed the empire, advanced with a
formidable host of Barbarians, from the banks of the Rhine to those of
the Rhone. Every circumstance is dark and extraordinary in the short
history of the reign of Jovinus. It was natural to expect, that a
brave and skilful general, at the head of a victorious army, would have
asserted, in a field of battle, the justice of the cause of Honorius.
The hasty retreat of Constantius might be justified by weighty reasons;
but he resigned, without a struggle, the possession of Gaul; and
Dardanus, the Prætorian præfect, is recorded as the only magistrate who
refused to yield obedience to the usurper. When the Goths, two years
after the siege of Rome, established their quarters in Gaul, it was
natural to suppose that their inclinations could be divided only between
the emperor Honorius, with whom they had formed a recent alliance,
and the degraded Attalus, whom they reserved in their camp for the
occasional purpose of acting the part of a musician or a monarch. Yet in
a moment of disgust, (for which it is not easy to assign a cause, or a
date,) Adolphus connected himself with the usurper of Gaul; and imposed
on Attalus the ignominious task of negotiating the treaty, which
ratified his own disgrace. We are again surprised to read, that, instead
of considering the Gothic alliance as the firmest support of his
throne, Jovinus upbraided, in dark and ambiguous language, the officious
importunity of Attalus; that, scorning the advice of his great ally,
he invested with the purple his brother Sebastian; and that he most
imprudently accepted the service of Sarus, when that gallant chief, the
soldier of Honorius, was provoked to desert the court of a prince, who
knew not how to reward or punish. Adolphus, educated among a race of
warriors, who esteemed the duty of revenge as the most precious and
sacred portion of their inheritance, advanced with a body of ten
thousand Goths to encounter the hereditary enemy of the house of Balti.
He attacked Sarus at an unguarded moment, when he was accompanied only
by eighteen or twenty of his valiant followers. United by friendship,
animated by despair, but at length oppressed by multitudes, this band
of heroes deserved the esteem, without exciting the compassion, of their
enemies; and the lion was no sooner taken in the toils, than he was
instantly despatched. The death of Sarus dissolved the loose alliance
which Adolphus still maintained with the usurpers of Gaul. He again
listened to the dictates of love and prudence; and soon satisfied the
brother of Placidia, by the assurance that he would immediately transmit
to the palace of Ravenna the heads of the two tyrants, Jovinus and
Sebastian. The king of the Goths executed his promise without difficulty
or delay; the helpless brothers, unsupported by any personal merit, were
abandoned by their Barbarian auxiliaries; and the short opposition of
Valentia was expiated by the ruin of one of the noblest cities of
Gaul. The emperor, chosen by the Roman senate, who had been promoted,
degraded, insulted, restored, again degraded, and again insulted, was
finally abandoned to his fate; but when the Gothic king withdrew his
protection, he was restrained, by pity or contempt, from offering any
violence to the person of Attalus. The unfortunate Attalus, who was left
without subjects or allies, embarked in one of the ports of Spain, in
search of some secure and solitary retreat: but he was intercepted at
sea, conducted to the presence of Honorius, led in triumph through
the streets of Rome or Ravenna, and publicly exposed to the gazing
multitude, on the second step of the throne of his invincible conqueror.
The same measure of punishment, with which, in the days of his
prosperity, he was accused of menacing his rival, was inflicted on
Attalus himself; he was condemned, after the amputation of two fingers,
to a perpetual exile in the Isle of Lipari, where he was supplied with
the decent necessaries of life. The remainder of the reign of Honorius
was undisturbed by rebellion; and it may be observed, that, in the space
of five years, seven usurpers had yielded to the fortune of a prince,
who was himself incapable either of counsel or of action.



Chapter XXXI: Invasion Of Italy, Occupation Of Territories By Barbarians.--Part VII.

The situation of Spain, separated, on all sides, from the enemies of
Rome, by the sea, by the mountains, and by intermediate provinces, had
secured the long tranquillity of that remote and sequestered country;
and we may observe, as a sure symptom of domestic happiness, that, in a
period of four hundred years, Spain furnished very few materials to the
history of the Roman empire. The footsteps of the Barbarians, who, in
the reign of Gallienus, had penetrated beyond the Pyrenees, were soon
obliterated by the return of peace; and in the fourth century of the
Christian æra, the cities of Emerita, or Merida, of Corduba, Seville,
Bracara, and Tarragona, were numbered with the most illustrious of the
Roman world. The various plenty of the animal, the vegetable, and the
mineral kingdoms, was improved and manufactured by the skill of
an industrious people; and the peculiar advantages of naval stores
contributed to support an extensive and profitable trade. The arts and
sciences flourished under the protection of the emperors; and if the
character of the Spaniards was enfeebled by peace and servitude, the
hostile approach of the Germans, who had spread terror and desolation
from the Rhine to the Pyrenees, seemed to rekindle some sparks of
military ardor. As long as the defence of the mountains was intrusted
to the hardy and faithful militia of the country, they successfully
repelled the frequent attempts of the Barbarians. But no sooner had
the national troops been compelled to resign their post to the Honorian
bands, in the service of Constantine, than the gates of Spain were
treacherously betrayed to the public enemy, about ten months before the
sack of Rome by the Goths. The consciousness of guilt, and the thirst
of rapine, prompted the mercenary guards of the Pyrenees to desert their
station; to invite the arms of the Suevi, the Vandals, and the Alani;
and to swell the torrent which was poured with irresistible violence
from the frontiers of Gaul to the sea of Africa. The misfortunes of
Spain may be described in the language of its most eloquent historian,
who has concisely expressed the passionate, and perhaps exaggerated,
declamations of contemporary writers. "The irruption of these nations
was followed by the most dreadful calamities; as the Barbarians
exercised their indiscriminate cruelty on the fortunes of the Romans
and the Spaniards, and ravaged with equal fury the cities and the open
country. The progress of famine reduced the miserable inhabitants to
feed on the flesh of their fellow-creatures; and even the wild beasts,
who multiplied, without control, in the desert, were exasperated, by
the taste of blood, and the impatience of hunger, boldly to attack
and devour their human prey. Pestilence soon appeared, the inseparable
companion of famine; a large proportion of the people was swept away;
and the groans of the dying excited only the envy of their surviving
friends. At length the Barbarians, satiated with carnage and rapine, and
afflicted by the contagious evils which they themselves had introduced,
fixed their permanent seats in the depopulated country. The ancient
Gallicia, whose limits included the kingdom of Old Castille, was divided
between the Suevi and the Vandals; the Alani were scattered over the
provinces of Carthagena and Lusitania, from the Mediterranean to the
Atlantic Ocean; and the fruitful territory of Btica was allotted to the
Silingi, another branch of the Vandalic nation. After regulating this
partition, the conquerors contracted with their new subjects some
reciprocal engagements of protection and obedience: the lands were again
cultivated; and the towns and villages were again occupied by a captive
people. The greatest part of the Spaniards was even disposed to prefer
this new condition of poverty and barbarism, to the severe oppressions
of the Roman government; yet there were many who still asserted their
native freedom; and who refused, more especially in the mountains of
Gallicia, to submit to the Barbarian yoke."

The important present of the heads of Jovinus and Sebastian had approved
the friendship of Adolphus, and restored Gaul to the obedience of his
brother Honorius. Peace was incompatible with the situation and temper
of the king of the Goths. He readily accepted the proposal of turning
his victorious arms against the Barbarians of Spain; the troops of
Constantius intercepted his communication with the seaports of Gaul, and
gently pressed his march towards the Pyrenees: he passed the mountains,
and surprised, in the name of the emperor, the city of Barcelona. The
fondness of Adolphus for his Roman bride, was not abated by time or
possession: and the birth of a son, surnamed, from his illustrious
grandsire, Theodosius, appeared to fix him forever in the interest of
the republic. The loss of that infant, whose remains were deposited in
a silver coffin in one of the churches near Barcelona, afflicted his
parents; but the grief of the Gothic king was suspended by the labors
of the field; and the course of his victories was soon interrupted by
domestic treason. He had imprudently received into his service one
of the followers of Sarus; a Barbarian of a daring spirit, but of a
diminutive stature; whose secret desire of revenging the death of his
beloved patron was continually irritated by the sarcasms of his insolent
master. Adolphus was assassinated in the palace of Barcelona; the laws
of the succession were violated by a tumultuous faction; and a stranger
to the royal race, Singeric, the brother of Sarus himself, was seated on
the Gothic throne. The first act of his reign was the inhuman murder of
the six children of Adolphus, the issue of a former marriage, whom he
tore, without pity, from the feeble arms of a venerable bishop. The
unfortunate Placidia, instead of the respectful compassion, which she
might have excited in the most savage breasts, was treated with cruel
and wanton insult. The daughter of the emperor Theodosius, confounded
among a crowd of vulgar captives, was compelled to march on foot above
twelve miles, before the horse of a Barbarian, the assassin of a husband
whom Placidia loved and lamented.

But Placidia soon obtained the pleasure of revenge, and the view of
her ignominious sufferings might rouse an indignant people against the
tyrant, who was assassinated on the seventh day of his usurpation. After
the death of Singeric, the free choice of the nation bestowed the Gothic
sceptre on Wallia; whose warlike and ambitious temper appeared, in the
beginning of his reign, extremely hostile to the republic. He marched
in arms from Barcelona to the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, which the
ancients revered and dreaded as the boundary of the world. But when he
reached the southern promontory of Spain, and, from the rock now covered
by the fortress of Gibraltar, contemplated the neighboring and fertile
coast of Africa, Wallia resumed the designs of conquest, which had
been interrupted by the death of Alaric. The winds and waves
again disappointed the enterprise of the Goths; and the minds of a
superstitious people were deeply affected by the repeated disasters of
storms and shipwrecks. In this disposition the successor of Adolphus
no longer refused to listen to a Roman ambassador, whose proposals were
enforced by the real, or supposed, approach of a numerous army, under
the conduct of the brave Constantius. A solemn treaty was stipulated and
observed; Placidia was honorably restored to her brother; six hundred
thousand measures of wheat were delivered to the hungry Goths; and
Wallia engaged to draw his sword in the service of the empire. A
bloody war was instantly excited among the Barbarians of Spain; and
the contending princes are said to have addressed their letters, their
ambassadors, and their hostages, to the throne of the Western emperor,
exhorting him to remain a tranquil spectator of their contest; the
events of which must be favorable to the Romans, by the mutual slaughter
of their common enemies. The Spanish war was obstinately supported,
during three campaigns, with desperate valor, and various success;
and the martial achievements of Wallia diffused through the empire the
superior renown of the Gothic hero. He exterminated the Silingi, who
had irretrievably ruined the elegant plenty of the province of Btica.
He slew, in battle, the king of the Alani; and the remains of those
Scythian wanderers, who escaped from the field, instead of choosing a
new leader, humbly sought a refuge under the standard of the Vandals,
with whom they were ever afterwards confounded. The Vandals themselves,
and the Suevi, yielded to the efforts of the invincible Goths. The
promiscuous multitude of Barbarians, whose retreat had been intercepted,
were driven into the mountains of Gallicia; where they still continued,
in a narrow compass and on a barren soil, to exercise their domestic and
implacable hostilities. In the pride of victory, Wallia was faithful to
his engagements: he restored his Spanish conquests to the obedience
of Honorius; and the tyranny of the Imperial officers soon reduced an
oppressed people to regret the time of their Barbarian servitude. While
the event of the war was still doubtful, the first advantages obtained
by the arms of Wallia had encouraged the court of Ravenna to decree the
honors of a triumph to their feeble sovereign. He entered Rome like
the ancient conquerors of nations; and if the monuments of servile
corruption had not long since met with the fate which they deserved, we
should probably find that a crowd of poets and orators, of magistrates
and bishops, applauded the fortune, the wisdom, and the invincible
courage, of the emperor Honorius.

Such a triumph might have been justly claimed by the ally of Rome, if
Wallia, before he repassed the Pyrenees, had extirpated the seeds of
the Spanish war. His victorious Goths, forty-three years after they had
passed the Danube, were established, according to the faith of treaties,
in the possession of the second Aquitain; a maritime province
between the Garonne and the Loire, under the civil and ecclesiastical
jurisdiction of Bourdeaux. That metropolis, advantageously situated for
the trade of the ocean, was built in a regular and elegant form; and its
numerous inhabitants were distinguished among the Gauls by their wealth,
their learning, and the politeness of their manners. The adjacent
province, which has been fondly compared to the garden of Eden, is
blessed with a fruitful soil, and a temperate climate; the face of the
country displayed the arts and the rewards of industry; and the Goths,
after their martial toils, luxuriously exhausted the rich vineyards of
Aquitain. The Gothic limits were enlarged by the additional gift of some
neighboring dioceses; and the successors of Alaric fixed their royal
residence at Thoulouse, which included five populous quarters, or
cities, within the spacious circuit of its walls. About the same time,
in the last years of the reign of Honorius, the Goths, the Burgundians,
and the Franks, obtained a permanent seat and dominion in the provinces
of Gaul. The liberal grant of the usurper Jovinus to his Burgundian
allies, was confirmed by the lawful emperor; the lands of the First,
or Upper, Germany, were ceded to those formidable Barbarians; and they
gradually occupied, either by conquest or treaty, the two provinces
which still retain, with the titles of _Duchy_ and _County_, the
national appellation of Burgundy. The Franks, the valiant and faithful
allies of the Roman republic, were soon tempted to imitate the invaders,
whom they had so bravely resisted. Treves, the capital of Gaul, was
pillaged by their lawless bands; and the humble colony, which they so
long maintained in the district of Toxandia, in Brabant, insensibly
multiplied along the banks of the Meuse and Scheld, till their
independent power filled the whole extent of the Second, or Lower
Germany. These facts may be sufficiently justified by historic evidence;
but the foundation of the French monarchy by Pharamond, the conquests,
the laws, and even the existence, of that hero, have been justly
arraigned by the impartial severity of modern criticism.

The ruin of the opulent provinces of Gaul may be dated from the
establishment of these Barbarians, whose alliance was dangerous and
oppressive, and who were capriciously impelled, by interest or passion,
to violate the public peace. A heavy and partial ransom was imposed on
the surviving provincials, who had escaped the calamities of war; the
fairest and most fertile lands were assigned to the rapacious strangers,
for the use of their families, their slaves, and their cattle; and the
trembling natives relinquished with a sigh the inheritance of their
fathers. Yet these domestic misfortunes, which are seldom the lot of a
vanquished people, had been felt and inflicted by the Romans themselves,
not only in the insolence of foreign conquest, but in the madness of
civil discord. The Triumvirs proscribed eighteen of the most flourishing
colonies of Italy; and distributed their lands and houses to the
veterans who revenged the death of Cæsar, and oppressed the liberty
of their country. Two poets of unequal fame have deplored, in similar
circumstances, the loss of their patrimony; but the legionaries of
Augustus appear to have surpassed, in violence and injustice, the
Barbarians who invaded Gaul under the reign of Honorius. It was not
without the utmost difficulty that Virgil escaped from the sword of the
Centurion, who had usurped his farm in the neighborhood of Mantua; but
Paulinus of Bourdeaux received a sum of money from his Gothic purchaser,
which he accepted with pleasure and surprise; and though it was much
inferior to the real value of his estate, this act of rapine was
disguised by some colors of moderation and equity. The odious name of
conquerors was softened into the mild and friendly appellation of the
guests of the Romans; and the Barbarians of Gaul, more especially the
Goths, repeatedly declared, that they were bound to the people by the
ties of hospitality, and to the emperor by the duty of allegiance and
military service. The title of Honorius and his successors, their laws,
and their civil magistrates, were still respected in the provinces of
Gaul, of which they had resigned the possession to the Barbarian allies;
and the kings, who exercised a supreme and independent authority over
their native subjects, ambitiously solicited the more honorable rank
of master-generals of the Imperial armies. Such was the involuntary
reverence which the Roman name still impressed on the minds of those
warriors, who had borne away in triumph the spoils of the Capitol.

Whilst Italy was ravaged by the Goths, and a succession of feeble
tyrants oppressed the provinces beyond the Alps, the British island
separated itself from the body of the Roman empire. The regular forces,
which guarded that remote province, had been gradually withdrawn; and
Britain was abandoned without defence to the Saxon pirates, and
the savages of Ireland and Caledonia. The Britons, reduced to this
extremity, no longer relied on the tardy and doubtful aid of a declining
monarchy. They assembled in arms, repelled the invaders, and rejoiced
in the important discovery of their own strength. Afflicted by similar
calamities, and actuated by the same spirit, the Armorican provinces (a
name which comprehended the maritime countries of Gaul between the
Seine and the Loire ) resolved to imitate the example of the neighboring
island. They expelled the Roman magistrates, who acted under the
authority of the usurper Constantine; and a free government was
established among a people who had so long been subject to the arbitrary
will of a master. The independence of Britain and Armorica was soon
confirmed by Honorius himself, the lawful emperor of the West; and the
letters, by which he committed to the new states the care of their own
safety, might be interpreted as an absolute and perpetual abdication of
the exercise and rights of sovereignty. This interpretation was, in
some measure, justified by the event. After the usurpers of Gaul had
successively fallen, the maritime provinces were restored to the empire.
Yet their obedience was imperfect and precarious: the vain, inconstant,
rebellious disposition of the people, was incompatible either with
freedom or servitude; and Armorica, though it could not long maintain
the form of a republic, was agitated by frequent and destructive
revolts. Britain was irrecoverably lost. But as the emperors wisely
acquiesced in the independence of a remote province, the separation was
not imbittered by the reproach of tyranny or rebellion; and the claims
of allegiance and protection were succeeded by the mutual and voluntary
offices of national friendship.

This revolution dissolved the artificial fabric of civil and military
government; and the independent country, during a period of forty
years, till the descent of the Saxons, was ruled by the authority of the
clergy, the nobles, and the municipal towns. I. Zosimus, who alone
has preserved the memory of this singular transaction, very accurately
observes, that the letters of Honorius were addressed to the _cities_
of Britain. Under the protection of the Romans, ninety-two considerable
towns had arisen in the several parts of that great province; and, among
these, thirty-three cities were distinguished above the rest by their
superior privileges and importance. Each of these cities, as in all
the other provinces of the empire, formed a legal corporation, for the
purpose of regulating their domestic policy; and the powers of municipal
government were distributed among annual magistrates, a select senate,
and the assembly of the people, according to the original model of the
Roman constitution. The management of a common revenue, the exercise of
civil and criminal jurisdiction, and the habits of public counsel and
command, were inherent to these petty republics; and when they
asserted their independence, the youth of the city, and of the adjacent
districts, would naturally range themselves under the standard of the
magistrate. But the desire of obtaining the advantages, and of escaping
the burdens, of political society, is a perpetual and inexhaustible
source of discord; nor can it reasonably be presumed, that the
restoration of British freedom was exempt from tumult and faction. The
preeminence of birth and fortune must have been frequently violated by
bold and popular citizens; and the haughty nobles, who complained that
they were become the subjects of their own servants, would sometimes
regret the reign of an arbitrary monarch. II. The jurisdiction of
each city over the adjacent country, was supported by the patrimonial
influence of the principal senators; and the smaller towns, the
villages, and the proprietors of land, consulted their own safety by
adhering to the shelter of these rising republics. The sphere of their
attraction was proportioned to the respective degrees of their wealth
and populousness; but the hereditary lords of ample possessions, who
were not oppressed by the neighborhood of any powerful city, aspired
to the rank of independent princes, and boldly exercised the rights
of peace and war. The gardens and villas, which exhibited some faint
imitation of Italian elegance, would soon be converted into strong
castles, the refuge, in time of danger, of the adjacent country: the
produce of the land was applied to purchase arms and horses; to maintain
a military force of slaves, of peasants, and of licentious followers;
and the chieftain might assume, within his own domain, the powers of a
civil magistrate. Several of these British chiefs might be the genuine
posterity of ancient kings; and many more would be tempted to adopt this
honorable genealogy, and to vindicate their hereditary claims, which
had been suspended by the usurpation of the Cæsars. Their situation and
their hopes would dispose them to affect the dress, the language, and
the customs of their ancestors. If the _princes_ of Britain relapsed
into barbarism, while the _cities_ studiously preserved the laws and
manners of Rome, the whole island must have been gradually divided by
the distinction of two national parties; again broken into a thousand
subdivisions of war and faction, by the various provocations of interest
and resentment. The public strength, instead of being united against a
foreign enemy, was consumed in obscure and intestine quarrels; and the
personal merit which had placed a successful leader at the head of
his equals, might enable him to subdue the freedom of some neighboring
cities; and to claim a rank among the _tyrants_, who infested Britain
after the dissolution of the Roman government. III. The British
church might be composed of thirty or forty bishops, with an adequate
proportion of the inferior clergy; and the want of riches (for they seem
to have been poor ) would compel them to deserve the public esteem, by
a decent and exemplary behavior. The interest, as well as the temper
of the clergy, was favorable to the peace and union of their distracted
country: those salutary lessons might be frequently inculcated in their
popular discourses; and the episcopal synods were the only councils that
could pretend to the weight and authority of a national assembly. In
such councils, where the princes and magistrates sat promiscuously
with the bishops, the important affairs of the state, as well as of
the church, might be freely debated; differences reconciled, alliances
formed, contributions imposed, wise resolutions often concerted, and
sometimes executed; and there is reason to believe, that, in moments of
extreme danger, a _Pendragon_, or Dictator, was elected by the general
consent of the Britons. These pastoral cares, so worthy of the episcopal
character, were interrupted, however, by zeal and superstition; and the
British clergy incessantly labored to eradicate the Pelagian heresy,
which they abhorred, as the peculiar disgrace of their native country.

It is somewhat remarkable, or rather it is extremely natural, that the
revolt of Britain and Armorica should have introduced an appearance of
liberty into the obedient provinces of Gaul. In a solemn edict, filled
with the strongest assurances of that paternal affection which princes
so often express, and so seldom feel, the emperor Honorius promulgated
his intention of convening an annual assembly of the _seven provinces_:
a name peculiarly appropriated to Aquitain and the ancient Narbonnese,
which had long since exchanged their Celtic rudeness for the useful and
elegant arts of Italy. Arles, the seat of government and commerce,
was appointed for the place of the assembly; which regularly continued
twenty-eight days, from the fifteenth of August to the thirteenth of
September, of every year. It consisted of the Prætorian præfect of the
Gauls; of seven provincial governors, one consular, and six presidents;
of the magistrates, and perhaps the bishops, of about sixty cities;
and of a competent, though indefinite, number of the most honorable
and opulent _possessors_ of land, who might justly be considered as the
representatives of their country. They were empowered to interpret and
communicate the laws of their sovereign; to expose the grievances and
wishes of their constituents; to moderate the excessive or unequal
weight of taxes; and to deliberate on every subject of local or
national importance, that could tend to the restoration of the peace and
prosperity of the seven provinces. If such an institution, which gave
the people an interest in their own government, had been universally
established by Trajan or the Antonines, the seeds of public wisdom and
virtue might have been cherished and propagated in the empire of Rome.
The privileges of the subject would have secured the throne of the
monarch; the abuses of an arbitrary administration might have been
prevented, in some degree, or corrected, by the interposition of these
representative assemblies; and the country would have been defended
against a foreign enemy by the arms of natives and freemen. Under the
mild and generous influence of liberty, the Roman empire might have
remained invincible and immortal; or if its excessive magnitude, and the
instability of human affairs, had opposed such perpetual continuance,
its vital and constituent members might have separately preserved their
vigor and independence. But in the decline of the empire, when every
principle of health and life had been exhausted, the tardy application
of this partial remedy was incapable of producing any important or
salutary effects. The emperor Honorius expresses his surprise, that he
must compel the reluctant provinces to accept a privilege which they
should ardently have solicited. A fine of three, or even five, pounds
of gold, was imposed on the absent representatives; who seem to have
declined this imaginary gift of a free constitution, as the last and
most cruel insult of their oppressors.



Chapter XXXII: Emperors Arcadius, Eutropius, Theodosius II.--Part I.

     Arcadius Emperor Of The East.--Administration And Disgrace
     Of Eutropius.--Revolt Of Gainas.--Persecution Of St. John
     Chrysostom.--Theodosius II. Emperor Of The East.--His Sister
     Pulcheria.--His Wife Eudocia.--The Persian War, And Division
     Of Armenia.

The division of the Roman world between the sons of Theodosius marks the
final establishment of the empire of the East, which, from the reign
of Arcadius to the taking of Constantinople by the Turks, subsisted one
thousand and fifty-eight years, in a state of premature and perpetual
decay. The sovereign of that empire assumed, and obstinately retained,
the vain, and at length fictitious, title of Emperor of the Romans; and
the hereditary appellation of Cæsar and Augustus continued to declare,
that he was the legitimate successor of the first of men, who had
reigned over the first of nations. The place of Constantinople rivalled,
and perhaps excelled, the magnificence of Persia; and the eloquent
sermons of St. Chrysostom celebrate, while they condemn, the pompous
luxury of the reign of Arcadius. "The emperor," says he, "wears on his
head either a diadem, or a crown of gold, decorated with precious stones
of inestimable value. These ornaments, and his purple garments,
are reserved for his sacred person alone; and his robes of silk are
embroidered with the figures of golden dragons. His throne is of massy
gold. Whenever he appears in public, he is surrounded by his courtiers,
his guards, and his attendants. Their spears, their shields, their
cuirasses, the bridles and trappings of their horses, have either the
substance or the appearance of gold; and the large splendid boss in the
midst of their shield is encircled with smaller bosses, which represent
the shape of the human eye. The two mules that drew the chariot of the
monarch are perfectly white, and shining all over with gold. The
chariot itself, of pure and solid gold, attracts the admiration of the
spectators, who contemplate the purple curtains, the snowy carpet, the
size of the precious stones, and the resplendent plates of gold, that
glitter as they are agitated by the motion of the carriage. The Imperial
pictures are white, on a blue ground; the emperor appears seated on his
throne, with his arms, his horses, and his guards beside him; and his
vanquished enemies in chains at his feet." The successors of Constantine
established their perpetual residence in the royal city, which he had
erected on the verge of Europe and Asia. Inaccessible to the menaces
of their enemies, and perhaps to the complaints of their people, they
received, with each wind, the tributary productions of every climate;
while the impregnable strength of their capital continued for ages
to defy the hostile attempts of the Barbarians. Their dominions were
bounded by the Adriatic and the Tigris; and the whole interval of
twenty-five days' navigation, which separated the extreme cold of
Scythia from the torrid zone of Æthiopia, was comprehended within the
limits of the empire of the East. The populous countries of that
empire were the seat of art and learning, of luxury and wealth; and the
inhabitants, who had assumed the language and manners of Greeks, styled
themselves, with some appearance of truth, the most enlightened and
civilized portion of the human species. The form of government was a
pure and simple monarchy; the name of the Roman Republic, which so
long preserved a faint tradition of freedom, was confined to the Latin
provinces; and the princes of Constantinople measured their greatness by
the servile obedience of their people. They were ignorant how much this
passive disposition enervates and degrades every faculty of the mind.
The subjects, who had resigned their will to the absolute commands of
a master, were equally incapable of guarding their lives and fortunes
against the assaults of the Barbarians, or of defending their reason
from the terrors of superstition.

The first events of the reign of Arcadius and Honorius are so intimately
connected, that the rebellion of the Goths, and the fall of Rufinus,
have already claimed a place in the history of the West. It has already
been observed, that Eutropius, one of the principal eunuchs of the
palace of Constantinople, succeeded the haughty minister whose ruin he
had accomplished, and whose vices he soon imitated. Every order of
the state bowed to the new favorite; and their tame and obsequious
submission encouraged him to insult the laws, and, what is still more
difficult and dangerous, the manners of his country. Under the weakest
of the predecessors of Arcadius, the reign of the eunuchs had been
secret and almost invisible. They insinuated themselves into the
confidence of the prince; but their ostensible functions were confined
to the menial service of the wardrobe and Imperial bed-chamber. They
might direct, in a whisper, the public counsels, and blast, by their
malicious suggestions, the fame and fortunes of the most illustrious
citizens; but they never presumed to stand forward in the front of
empire, or to profane the public honors of the state. Eutropius was
the first of his artificial sex, who dared to assume the character of a
Roman magistrate and general. Sometimes, in the presence of the blushing
senate, he ascended the tribunal to pronounce judgment, or to repeat
elaborate harangues; and, sometimes, appeared on horseback, at the head
of his troops, in the dress and armor of a hero. The disregard of custom
and decency always betrays a weak and ill-regulated mind; nor does
Eutropius seem to have compensated for the folly of the design by any
superior merit or ability in the execution. His former habits of life
had not introduced him to the study of the laws, or the exercises of
the field; his awkward and unsuccessful attempts provoked the secret
contempt of the spectators; the Goths expressed their wish that such
a general might always command the armies of Rome; and the name of
the minister was branded with ridicule, more pernicious, perhaps, than
hatred, to a public character. The subjects of Arcadius were exasperated
by the recollection, that this deformed and decrepit eunuch, who so
perversely mimicked the actions of a man, was born in the most abject
condition of servitude; that before he entered the Imperial palace, he
had been successively sold and purchased by a hundred masters, who had
exhausted his youthful strength in every mean and infamous office, and
at length dismissed him, in his old age, to freedom and poverty. While
these disgraceful stories were circulated, and perhaps exaggerated, in
private conversation, the vanity of the favorite was flattered with
the most extraordinary honors. In the senate, in the capital, in the
provinces, the statues of Eutropius were erected, in brass, or marble,
decorated with the symbols of his civil and military virtues, and
inscribed with the pompous title of the third founder of Constantinople.
He was promoted to the rank of _patrician_, which began to signify in a
popular, and even legal, acceptation, the father of the emperor; and the
last year of the fourth century was polluted by the _consulship_ of
a eunuch and a slave. This strange and inexpiable prodigy awakened,
however, the prejudices of the Romans. The effeminate consul was
rejected by the West, as an indelible stain to the annals of the
republic; and without invoking the shades of Brutus and Camillus,
the colleague of Eutropius, a learned and respectable magistrate,
sufficiently represented the different maxims of the two
administrations.

The bold and vigorous mind of Rufinus seems to have been actuated by a
more sanguinary and revengeful spirit; but the avarice of the eunuch was
not less insatiate than that of the præfect. As long as he despoiled the
oppressors, who had enriched themselves with the plunder of the people,
Eutropius might gratify his covetous disposition without much envy or
injustice: but the progress of his rapine soon invaded the wealth which
had been acquired by lawful inheritance, or laudable industry. The
usual methods of extortion were practised and improved; and Claudian
has sketched a lively and original picture of the public auction of the
state. "The impotence of the eunuch," says that agreeable satirist, "has
served only to stimulate his avarice: the same hand which in his servile
condition, was exercised in petty thefts, to unlock the coffers of his
master, now grasps the riches of the world; and this infamous broker of
the empire appreciates and divides the Roman provinces from Mount Hæmus
to the Tigris. One man, at the expense of his villa, is made proconsul
of Asia; a second purchases Syria with his wife's jewels; and a third
laments that he has exchanged his paternal estate for the government of
Bithynia. In the antechamber of Eutropius, a large tablet is exposed
to public view, which marks the respective prices of the provinces.
The different value of Pontus, of Galatia, of Lydia, is accurately
distinguished. Lycia may be obtained for so many thousand pieces of
gold; but the opulence of Phrygia will require a more considerable sum.
The eunuch wishes to obliterate, by the general disgrace, his personal
ignominy; and as he has been sold himself, he is desirous of selling the
rest of mankind. In the eager contention, the balance, which contains
the fate and fortunes of the province, often trembles on the beam; and
till one of the scales is inclined, by a superior weight, the mind of
the impartial judge remains in anxious suspense. Such," continues
the indignant poet, "are the fruits of Roman valor, of the defeat of
Antiochus, and of the triumph of Pompey." This venal prostitution of
public honors secured the impunity of _future_ crimes; but the riches,
which Eutropius derived from confiscation, were _already_ stained
with injustice; since it was decent to accuse, and to condemn, the
proprietors of the wealth, which he was impatient to confiscate. Some
noble blood was shed by the hand of the executioner; and the most
inhospitable extremities of the empire were filled with innocent
and illustrious exiles. Among the generals and consuls of the East,
Abundantius had reason to dread the first effects of the resentment of
Eutropius. He had been guilty of the unpardonable crime of introducing
that abject slave to the palace of Constantinople; and some degree of
praise must be allowed to a powerful and ungrateful favorite, who was
satisfied with the disgrace of his benefactor. Abundantius was stripped
of his ample fortunes by an Imperial rescript, and banished to Pityus,
on the Euxine, the last frontier of the Roman world; where he subsisted
by the precarious mercy of the Barbarians, till he could obtain,
after the fall of Eutropius, a milder exile at Sidon, in Phnicia. The
destruction of Timasius required a more serious and regular mode
of attack. That great officer, the master-general of the armies of
Theodosius, had signalized his valor by a decisive victory, which he
obtained over the Goths of Thessaly; but he was too prone, after the
example of his sovereign, to enjoy the luxury of peace, and to abandon
his confidence to wicked and designing flatterers. Timasius had despised
the public clamor, by promoting an infamous dependent to the command
of a cohort; and he deserved to feel the ingratitude of Bargus, who
was secretly instigated by the favorite to accuse his patron of a
treasonable conspiracy. The general was arraigned before the tribunal
of Arcadius himself; and the principal eunuch stood by the side of the
throne to suggest the questions and answers of his sovereign. But as
this form of trial might be deemed partial and arbitrary, the further
inquiry into the crimes of Timasius was delegated to Saturninus and
Procopius; the former of consular rank, the latter still respected as
the father-in-law of the emperor Valens. The appearances of a fair and
legal proceeding were maintained by the blunt honesty of Procopius; and
he yielded with reluctance to the obsequious dexterity of his colleague,
who pronounced a sentence of condemnation against the unfortunate
Timasius. His immense riches were confiscated in the name of the
emperor, and for the benefit of the favorite; and he was doomed to
perpetual exile a Oasis, a solitary spot in the midst of the sandy
deserts of Libya. Secluded from all human converse, the master-general
of the Roman armies was lost forever to the world; but the circumstances
of his fate have been related in a various and contradictory manner. It
is insinuated that Eutropius despatched a private order for his secret
execution. It was reported, that, in attempting to escape from Oasis, he
perished in the desert, of thirst and hunger; and that his dead body was
found on the sands of Libya. It has been asserted, with more confidence,
that his son Syagrius, after successfully eluding the pursuit of the
agents and emissaries of the court, collected a band of African robbers;
that he rescued Timasius from the place of his exile; and that both the
father and the son disappeared from the knowledge of mankind. But the
ungrateful Bargus, instead of being suffered to possess the reward of
guilt was soon after circumvented and destroyed, by the more powerful
villany of the minister himself, who retained sense and spirit enough to
abhor the instrument of his own crimes.

The public hatred, and the despair of individuals, continually
threatened, or seemed to threaten, the personal safety of Eutropius; as
well as of the numerous adherents, who were attached to his fortune,
and had been promoted by his venal favor. For their mutual defence,
he contrived the safeguard of a law, which violated every principal
of humanity and justice. I. It is enacted, in the name, and by the
authority of Arcadius, that all those who should conspire, either with
subjects or with strangers, against the lives of any of the persons whom
the emperor considers as the members of his own body, shall be punished
with death and confiscation. This species of fictitious and metaphorical
treason is extended to protect, not only the _illustrious_ officers of
the state and army, who were admitted into the sacred consistory,
but likewise the principal domestics of the palace, the senators of
Constantinople, the military commanders, and the civil magistrates of
the provinces; a vague and indefinite list, which, under the successors
of Constantine, included an obscure and numerous train of subordinate
ministers. II. This extreme severity might perhaps be justified, had it
been only directed to secure the representatives of the sovereign from
any actual violence in the execution of their office. But the whole body
of Imperial dependants claimed a privilege, or rather impunity, which
screened them, in the loosest moments of their lives, from the hasty,
perhaps the justifiable, resentment of their fellow-citizens; and, by a
strange perversion of the laws, the same degree of guilt and punishment
was applied to a private quarrel, and to a deliberate conspiracy against
the emperor and the empire. The edicts of Arcadius most positively and
most absurdly declares, that in such cases of treason, _thoughts_ and
_actions_ ought to be punished with equal severity; that the knowledge
of a mischievous intention, unless it be instantly revealed, becomes
equally criminal with the intention itself; and that those rash men,
who shall presume to solicit the pardon of traitors, shall themselves be
branded with public and perpetual infamy. III. "With regard to the sons
of the traitors," (continues the emperor,) "although they ought to share
the punishment, since they will probably imitate the guilt, of their
parents, yet, by the special effect of our Imperial lenity, we grant
them their lives; but, at the same time, we declare them incapable
of inheriting, either on the father's or on the mother's side, or of
receiving any gift or legacy, from the testament either of kinsmen or of
strangers. Stigmatized with hereditary infamy, excluded from the hopes
of honors or fortune, let them endure the pangs of poverty and contempt,
till they shall consider life as a calamity, and death as a comfort
and relief." In such words, so well adapted to insult the feelings of
mankind, did the emperor, or rather his favorite eunuch, applaud the
moderation of a law, which transferred the same unjust and inhuman
penalties to the children of all those who had seconded, or who had
not disclosed, their fictitious conspiracies. Some of the noblest
regulations of Roman jurisprudence have been suffered to expire; but
this edict, a convenient and forcible engine of ministerial tyranny,
was carefully inserted in the codes of Theodosius and Justinian; and the
same maxims have been revived in modern ages, to protect the electors of
Germany, and the cardinals of the church of Rome.

Yet these sanguinary laws, which spread terror among a disarmed and
dispirited people, were of too weak a texture to restrain the bold
enterprise of Tribigild the Ostrogoth. The colony of that warlike
nation, which had been planted by Theodosius in one of the most fertile
districts of Phrygia, impatiently compared the slow returns of laborious
husbandry with the successful rapine and liberal rewards of Alaric;
and their leader resented, as a personal affront, his own ungracious
reception in the palace of Constantinople. A soft and wealthy province,
in the heart of the empire, was astonished by the sound of war; and
the faithful vassal who had been disregarded or oppressed, was again
respected, as soon as he resumed the hostile character of a Barbarian.
The vineyards and fruitful fields, between the rapid Marsyas and the
winding Mæander, were consumed with fire; the decayed walls of the
cities crumbled into dust, at the first stroke of an enemy; the
trembling inhabitants escaped from a bloody massacre to the shores of
the Hellespont; and a considerable part of Asia Minor was desolated
by the rebellion of Tribigild. His rapid progress was checked by the
resistance of the peasants of Pamphylia; and the Ostrogoths, attacked in
a narrow pass, between the city of Selgæ, a deep morass, and the craggy
cliffs of Mount Taurus, were defeated with the loss of their bravest
troops. But the spirit of their chief was not daunted by misfortune; and
his army was continually recruited by swarms of Barbarians and outlaws,
who were desirous of exercising the profession of robbery, under the
more honorable names of war and conquest. The rumors of the success of
Tribigild might for some time be suppressed by fear, or disguised by
flattery; yet they gradually alarmed both the court and the capital.
Every misfortune was exaggerated in dark and doubtful hints; and the
future designs of the rebels became the subject of anxious conjecture.
Whenever Tribigild advanced into the inland country, the Romans were
inclined to suppose that he meditated the passage of Mount Taurus, and
the invasion of Syria. If he descended towards the sea, they imputed,
and perhaps suggested, to the Gothic chief, the more dangerous project
of arming a fleet in the harbors of Ionia, and of extending his
depredations along the maritime coast, from the mouth of the Nile to
the port of Constantinople. The approach of danger, and the obstinacy of
Tribigild, who refused all terms of accommodation, compelled Eutropius
to summon a council of war. After claiming for himself the privilege
of a veteran soldier, the eunuch intrusted the guard of Thrace and the
Hellespont to Gainas the Goth, and the command of the Asiatic army
to his favorite, Leo; two generals, who differently, but effectually,
promoted the cause of the rebels. Leo, who, from the bulk of his body,
and the dulness of his mind, was surnamed the Ajax of the East, had
deserted his original trade of a woolcomber, to exercise, with much less
skill and success, the military profession; and his uncertain operations
were capriciously framed and executed, with an ignorance of real
difficulties, and a timorous neglect of every favorable opportunity.
The rashness of the Ostrogoths had drawn them into a disadvantageous
position between the Rivers Melas and Eurymedon, where they were almost
besieged by the peasants of Pamphylia; but the arrival of an Imperial
army, instead of completing their destruction, afforded the means
of safety and victory. Tribigild surprised the unguarded camp of the
Romans, in the darkness of the night; seduced the faith of the greater
part of the Barbarian auxiliaries, and dissipated, without much effort,
the troops, which had been corrupted by the relaxation of discipline,
and the luxury of the capital. The discontent of Gainas, who had so
boldly contrived and executed the death of Rufinus, was irritated by
the fortune of his unworthy successor; he accused his own dishonorable
patience under the servile reign of a eunuch; and the ambitious Goth
was convicted, at least in the public opinion, of secretly fomenting the
revolt of Tribigild, with whom he was connected by a domestic, as well
as by a national alliance. When Gainas passed the Hellespont, to unite
under his standard the remains of the Asiatic troops, he skilfully
adapted his motions to the wishes of the Ostrogoths; abandoning, by his
retreat, the country which they desired to invade; or facilitating,
by his approach, the desertion of the Barbarian auxiliaries. To the
Imperial court he repeatedly magnified the valor, the genius, the
inexhaustible resources of Tribigild; confessed his own inability to
prosecute the war; and extorted the permission of negotiating with
his invincible adversary. The conditions of peace were dictated by
the haughty rebel; and the peremptory demand of the head of Eutropius
revealed the author and the design of this hostile conspiracy.



Chapter XXXII: Emperors Arcadius, Eutropius, Theodosius II.--Part II.

The bold satirist, who has indulged his discontent by the partial and
passionate censure of the Christian emperors, violates the dignity,
rather than the truth, of history, by comparing the son of Theodosius
to one of those harmless and simple animals, who scarcely feel that
they are the property of their shepherd. Two passions, however, fear
and conjugal affection, awakened the languid soul of Arcadius: he was
terrified by the threats of a victorious Barbarian; and he yielded
to the tender eloquence of his wife Eudoxia, who, with a flood of
artificial tears, presenting her infant children to their father,
implored his justice for some real or imaginary insult, which she
imputed to the audacious eunuch. The emperor's hand was directed to sign
the condemnation of Eutropius; the magic spell, which during four years
had bound the prince and the people, was instantly dissolved; and
the acclamations that so lately hailed the merit and fortune of the
favorite, were converted into the clamors of the soldiers and people,
who reproached his crimes, and pressed his immediate execution. In this
hour of distress and despair, his only refuge was in the sanctuary of
the church, whose privileges he had wisely or profanely attempted to
circumscribe; and the most eloquent of the saints, John Chrysostom,
enjoyed the triumph of protecting a prostrate minister, whose choice
had raised him to the ecclesiastical throne of Constantinople. The
archbishop, ascending the pulpit of the cathedral, that he might be
distinctly seen and heard by an innumerable crowd of either sex and
of every age, pronounced a seasonable and pathetic discourse on the
forgiveness of injuries, and the instability of human greatness. The
agonies of the pale and affrighted wretch, who lay grovelling under the
table of the altar, exhibited a solemn and instructive spectacle; and
the orator, who was afterwards accused of insulting the misfortunes of
Eutropius, labored to excite the contempt, that he might assuage the
fury, of the people. The powers of humanity, of superstition, and of
eloquence, prevailed. The empress Eudoxia was restrained by her own
prejudices, or by those of her subjects, from violating the sanctuary of
the church; and Eutropius was tempted to capitulate, by the milder arts
of persuasion, and by an oath, that his life should be spared. Careless
of the dignity of their sovereign, the new ministers of the palace
immediately published an edict to declare, that his late favorite had
disgraced the names of consul and patrician, to abolish his statues, to
confiscate his wealth, and to inflict a perpetual exile in the Island of
Cyprus. A despicable and decrepit eunuch could no longer alarm the fears
of his enemies; nor was he capable of enjoying what yet remained,
the comforts of peace, of solitude, and of a happy climate. But their
implacable revenge still envied him the last moments of a miserable
life, and Eutropius had no sooner touched the shores of Cyprus, than he
was hastily recalled. The vain hope of eluding, by a change of place,
the obligation of an oath, engaged the empress to transfer the scene of
his trial and execution from Constantinople to the adjacent suburb of
Chalcedon. The consul Aurelian pronounced the sentence; and the motives
of that sentence expose the jurisprudence of a despotic government.
The crimes which Eutropius had committed against the people might
have justified his death; but he was found guilty of harnessing to
his chariot the _sacred_ animals, who, from their breed or color, were
reserved for the use of the emperor alone.

While this domestic revolution was transacted, Gainas openly revolted
from his allegiance; united his forces at Thyatira in Lydia, with those
of Tribigild; and still maintained his superior ascendant over the
rebellious leader of the Ostrogoths. The confederate armies advanced,
without resistance, to the straits of the Hellespont and the Bosphorus;
and Arcadius was instructed to prevent the loss of his Asiatic
dominions, by resigning his authority and his person to the faith of the
Barbarians. The church of the holy martyr Euphemia, situate on a lofty
eminence near Chalcedon, was chosen for the place of the interview.
Gainas bowed with reverence at the feet of the emperor, whilst he
required the sacrifice of Aurelian and Saturninus, two ministers of
consular rank; and their naked necks were exposed, by the haughty
rebel, to the edge of the sword, till he condescended to grant them a
precarious and disgraceful respite. The Goths, according to the terms of
the agreement, were immediately transported from Asia into Europe; and
their victorious chief, who accepted the title of master-general of
the Roman armies, soon filled Constantinople with his troops, and
distributed among his dependants the honors and rewards of the empire.
In his early youth, Gainas had passed the Danube as a suppliant and a
fugitive: his elevation had been the work of valor and fortune; and his
indiscreet or perfidious conduct was the cause of his rapid downfall.
Notwithstanding the vigorous opposition of the archbishop, he
importunately claimed for his Arian sectaries the possession of a
peculiar church; and the pride of the Catholics was offended by the
public toleration of heresy. Every quarter of Constantinople was filled
with tumult and disorder; and the Barbarians gazed with such ardor on
the rich shops of the jewellers, and the tables of the bankers, which
were covered with gold and silver, that it was judged prudent to
remove those dangerous temptations from their sight. They resented the
injurious precaution; and some alarming attempts were made, during the
night, to attack and destroy with fire the Imperial palace. In this
state of mutual and suspicious hostility, the guards and the people of
Constantinople shut the gates, and rose in arms to prevent or to punish
the conspiracy of the Goths. During the absence of Gainas, his troops
were surprised and oppressed; seven thousand Barbarians perished in this
bloody massacre. In the fury of the pursuit, the Catholics uncovered
the roof, and continued to throw down flaming logs of wood, till they
overwhelmed their adversaries, who had retreated to the church or
conventicle of the Arians. Gainas was either innocent of the design, or
too confident of his success; he was astonished by the intelligence that
the flower of his army had been ingloriously destroyed; that he himself
was declared a public enemy; and that his countryman, Fravitta, a brave
and loyal confederate, had assumed the management of the war by sea and
land. The enterprises of the rebel, against the cities of Thrace, were
encountered by a firm and well-ordered defence; his hungry soldiers were
soon reduced to the grass that grew on the margin of the fortifications;
and Gainas, who vainly regretted the wealth and luxury of Asia, embraced
a desperate resolution of forcing the passage of the Hellespont. He
was destitute of vessels; but the woods of the Chersonesus afforded
materials for rafts, and his intrepid Barbarians did not refuse to trust
themselves to the waves. But Fravitta attentively watched the progress
of their undertaking As soon as they had gained the middle of the
stream, the Roman galleys, impelled by the full force of oars, of the
current, and of a favorable wind, rushed forwards in compact order,
and with irresistible weight; and the Hellespont was covered with the
fragments of the Gothic shipwreck. After the destruction of his hopes,
and the loss of many thousands of his bravest soldiers, Gainas, who
could no longer aspire to govern or to subdue the Romans, determined
to resume the independence of a savage life. A light and active body
of Barbarian horse, disengaged from their infantry and baggage, might
perform in eight or ten days a march of three hundred miles from the
Hellespont to the Danube; the garrisons of that important frontier had
been gradually annihilated; the river, in the month of December, would
be deeply frozen; and the unbounded prospect of Scythia was opened to
the ambition of Gainas. This design was secretly communicated to the
national troops, who devoted themselves to the fortunes of their
leader; and before the signal of departure was given, a great number
of provincial auxiliaries, whom he suspected of an attachment to their
native country, were perfidiously massacred. The Goths advanced,
by rapid marches, through the plains of Thrace; and they were soon
delivered from the fear of a pursuit, by the vanity of Fravitta,
who, instead of extinguishing the war, hastened to enjoy the popular
applause, and to assume the peaceful honors of the consulship. But a
formidable ally appeared in arms to vindicate the majesty of the empire,
and to guard the peace and liberty of Scythia. The superior forces of
Uldin, king of the Huns, opposed the progress of Gainas; a hostile and
ruined country prohibited his retreat; he disdained to capitulate; and
after repeatedly attempting to cut his way through the ranks of the
enemy, he was slain, with his desperate followers, in the field of
battle. Eleven days after the naval victory of the Hellespont, the
head of Gainas, the inestimable gift of the conqueror, was received at
Constantinople with the most liberal expressions of gratitude; and the
public deliverance was celebrated by festivals and illuminations. The
triumphs of Arcadius became the subject of epic poems; and the monarch,
no longer oppressed by any hostile terrors, resigned himself to the mild
and absolute dominion of his wife, the fair and artful Eudoxia, who was
sullied her fame by the persecution of St. John Chrysostom.

After the death of the indolent Nectarius, the successor of Gregory
Nazianzen, the church of Constantinople was distracted by the ambition
of rival candidates, who were not ashamed to solicit, with gold or
flattery, the suffrage of the people, or of the favorite. On this
occasion Eutropius seems to have deviated from his ordinary maxims; and
his uncorrupted judgment was determined only by the superior merit of a
stranger. In a late journey into the East, he had admired the sermons
of John, a native and presbyter of Antioch, whose name has been
distinguished by the epithet of Chrysostom, or the Golden Mouth. A
private order was despatched to the governor of Syria; and as the
people might be unwilling to resign their favorite preacher, he was
transported, with speed and secrecy in a post-chariot, from Antioch to
Constantinople. The unanimous and unsolicited consent of the court, the
clergy, and the people, ratified the choice of the minister; and, both
as a saint and as an orator, the new archbishop surpassed the sanguine
expectations of the public. Born of a noble and opulent family, in the
capital of Syria, Chrysostom had been educated, by the care of a tender
mother, under the tuition of the most skilful masters. He studied the
art of rhetoric in the school of Libanius; and that celebrated sophist,
who soon discovered the talents of his disciple, ingenuously confessed
that John would have deserved to succeed him, had he not been stolen
away by the Christians. His piety soon disposed him to receive the
sacrament of baptism; to renounce the lucrative and honorable profession
of the law; and to bury himself in the adjacent desert, where he
subdued the lusts of the flesh by an austere penance of six years. His
infirmities compelled him to return to the society of mankind; and the
authority of Meletius devoted his talents to the service of the church:
but in the midst of his family, and afterwards on the archiepiscopal
throne, Chrysostom still persevered in the practice of the monastic
virtues. The ample revenues, which his predecessors had consumed in pomp
and luxury, he diligently applied to the establishment of hospitals;
and the multitudes, who were supported by his charity, preferred the
eloquent and edifying discourses of their archbishop to the amusements
of the theatre or the circus. The monuments of that eloquence, which
was admired near twenty years at Antioch and Constantinople, have been
carefully preserved; and the possession of near one thousand sermons,
or homilies has authorized the critics of succeeding times to appreciate
the genuine merit of Chrysostom. They unanimously attribute to the
Christian orator the free command of an elegant and copious language;
the judgment to conceal the advantages which he derived from the
knowledge of rhetoric and philosophy; an inexhaustible fund of metaphors
and similitudes of ideas and images, to vary and illustrate the most
familiar topics; the happy art of engaging the passions in the service
of virtue; and of exposing the folly, as well as the turpitude, of vice,
almost with the truth and spirit of a dramatic representation.

The pastoral labors of the archbishop of Constantinople provoked, and
gradually united against him, two sorts of enemies; the aspiring clergy,
who envied his success, and the obstinate sinners, who were offended by
his reproofs. When Chrysostom thundered, from the pulpit of St. Sophia,
against the degeneracy of the Christians, his shafts were spent among
the crowd, without wounding, or even marking, the character of any
individual. When he declaimed against the peculiar vices of the rich,
poverty might obtain a transient consolation from his invectives; but
the guilty were still sheltered by their numbers; and the reproach
itself was dignified by some ideas of superiority and enjoyment. But
as the pyramid rose towards the summit, it insensibly diminished to a
point; and the magistrates, the ministers, the favorite eunuchs, the
ladies of the court, the empress Eudoxia herself, had a much larger
share of guilt to divide among a smaller proportion of criminals. The
personal applications of the audience were anticipated, or confirmed, by
the testimony of their own conscience; and the intrepid preacher assumed
the dangerous right of exposing both the offence and the offender to
the public abhorrence. The secret resentment of the court encouraged
the discontent of the clergy and monks of Constantinople, who were
too hastily reformed by the fervent zeal of their archbishop. He had
condemned, from the pulpit, the domestic females of the clergy of
Constantinople, who, under the name of servants, or sisters, afforded a
perpetual occasion either of sin or of scandal. The silent and solitary
ascetics, who had secluded themselves from the world, were entitled to
the warmest approbation of Chrysostom; but he despised and stigmatized,
as the disgrace of their holy profession, the crowd of degenerate monks,
who, from some unworthy motives of pleasure or profit, so frequently
infested the streets of the capital. To the voice of persuasion, the
archbishop was obliged to add the terrors of authority; and his ardor,
in the exercise of ecclesiastical jurisdiction, was not always exempt
from passion; nor was it always guided by prudence. Chrysostom was
naturally of a choleric disposition. Although he struggled, according
to the precepts of the gospel, to love his private enemies, he indulged
himself in the privilege of hating the enemies of God and of the church;
and his sentiments were sometimes delivered with too much energy
of countenance and expression. He still maintained, from some
considerations of health or abstinence, his former habits of taking his
repasts alone; and this inhospitable custom, which his enemies imputed
to pride, contributed, at least, to nourish the infirmity of a morose
and unsocial humor. Separated from that familiar intercourse, which
facilitates the knowledge and the despatch of business, he reposed an
unsuspecting confidence in his deacon Serapion; and seldom applied
his speculative knowledge of human nature to the particular character,
either of his dependants, or of his equals. Conscious of the purity
of his intentions, and perhaps of the superiority of his genius, the
archbishop of Constantinople extended the jurisdiction of the Imperial
city, that he might enlarge the sphere of his pastoral labors; and the
conduct which the profane imputed to an ambitious motive, appeared to
Chrysostom himself in the light of a sacred and indispensable duty.
In his visitation through the Asiatic provinces, he deposed thirteen
bishops of Lydia and Phrygia; and indiscreetly declared that a deep
corruption of simony and licentiousness had infected the whole
episcopal order. If those bishops were innocent, such a rash and unjust
condemnation must excite a well-grounded discontent. If they were
guilty, the numerous associates of their guilt would soon discover
that their own safety depended on the ruin of the archbishop; whom they
studied to represent as the tyrant of the Eastern church.

This ecclesiastical conspiracy was managed by Theophilus, archbishop of
Alexandria, an active and ambitious prelate, who displayed the fruits of
rapine in monuments of ostentation. His national dislike to the rising
greatness of a city which degraded him from the second to the third rank
in the Christian world, was exasperated by some personal dispute with
Chrysostom himself. By the private invitation of the empress, Theophilus
landed at Constantinople with a stout body of Egyptian mariners, to
encounter the populace; and a train of dependent bishops, to secure,
by their voices, the majority of a synod. The synod was convened in
the suburb of Chalcedon, surnamed the Oak, where Rufinus had erected
a stately church and monastery; and their proceedings were continued
during fourteen days, or sessions. A bishop and a deacon accused the
archbishop of Constantinople; but the frivolous or improbable nature of
the forty-seven articles which they presented against him, may justly
be considered as a fair and unexceptional panegyric. Four successive
summons were signified to Chrysostom; but he still refused to trust
either his person or his reputation in the hands of his implacable
enemies, who, prudently declining the examination of any particular
charges, condemned his contumacious disobedience, and hastily pronounced
a sentence of deposition. The synod of the _Oak_ immediately addressed
the emperor to ratify and execute their judgment, and charitably
insinuated, that the penalties of treason might be inflicted on the
audacious preacher, who had reviled, under the name of Jezebel, the
empress Eudoxia herself. The archbishop was rudely arrested, and
conducted through the city, by one of the Imperial messengers, who
landed him, after a short navigation, near the entrance of the Euxine;
from whence, before the expiration of two days, he was gloriously
recalled.

The first astonishment of his faithful people had been mute and passive:
they suddenly rose with unanimous and irresistible fury. Theophilus
escaped, but the promiscuous crowd of monks and Egyptian mariners was
slaughtered without pity in the streets of Constantinople. A seasonable
earthquake justified the interposition of Heaven; the torrent of
sedition rolled forwards to the gates of the palace; and the empress,
agitated by fear or remorse, threw herself at the feet of Arcadius,
and confessed that the public safety could be purchased only by the
restoration of Chrysostom. The Bosphorus was covered with innumerable
vessels; the shores of Europe and Asia were profusely illuminated; and
the acclamations of a victorious people accompanied, from the port to
the cathedral, the triumph of the archbishop; who, too easily, consented
to resume the exercise of his functions, before his sentence had been
legally reversed by the authority of an ecclesiastical synod. Ignorant,
or careless, of the impending danger, Chrysostom indulged his zeal,
or perhaps his resentment; declaimed with peculiar asperity against
_female_ vices; and condemned the profane honors which were addressed,
almost in the precincts of St. Sophia, to the statue of the empress. His
imprudence tempted his enemies to inflame the haughty spirit of Eudoxia,
by reporting, or perhaps inventing, the famous exordium of a sermon,
"Herodias is again furious; Herodias again dances; she once more
requires the head of John;" an insolent allusion, which, as a woman and
a sovereign, it was impossible for her to forgive. The short interval of
a perfidious truce was employed to concert more effectual measures
for the disgrace and ruin of the archbishop. A numerous council of
the Eastern prelates, who were guided from a distance by the advice of
Theophilus, confirmed the validity, without examining the justice, of
the former sentence; and a detachment of Barbarian troops was introduced
into the city, to suppress the emotions of the people. On the vigil of
Easter, the solemn administration of baptism was rudely interrupted
by the soldiers, who alarmed the modesty of the naked catechumens,
and violated, by their presence, the awful mysteries of the Christian
worship. Arsacius occupied the church of St. Sophia, and the
archiepiscopal throne. The Catholics retreated to the baths of
Constantine, and afterwards to the fields; where they were still pursued
and insulted by the guards, the bishops, and the magistrates. The
fatal day of the second and final exile of Chrysostom was marked by the
conflagration of the cathedral, of the senate-house, and of the adjacent
buildings; and this calamity was imputed, without proof, but not without
probability, to the despair of a persecuted faction.

Cicero might claim some merit, if his voluntary banishment preserved
the peace of the republic; but the submission of Chrysostom was the
indispensable duty of a Christian and a subject. Instead of listening to
his humble prayer, that he might be permitted to reside at Cyzicus, or
Nicomedia, the inflexible empress assigned for his exile the remote
and desolate town of Cucusus, among the ridges of Mount Taurus, in the
Lesser Armenia. A secret hope was entertained, that the archbishop might
perish in a difficult and dangerous march of seventy days, in the heat
of summer, through the provinces of Asia Minor, where he was continually
threatened by the hostile attacks of the Isaurians, and the more
implacable fury of the monks. Yet Chrysostom arrived in safety at the
place of his confinement; and the three years which he spent at Cucusus,
and the neighboring town of Arabissus, were the last and most glorious
of his life. His character was consecrated by absence and persecution;
the faults of his administration were no longer remembered; but every
tongue repeated the praises of his genius and virtue: and the respectful
attention of the Christian world was fixed on a desert spot among the
mountains of Taurus. From that solitude the archbishop, whose active
mind was invigorated by misfortunes, maintained a strict and frequent
correspondence with the most distant provinces; exhorted the separate
congregation of his faithful adherents to persevere in their allegiance;
urged the destruction of the temples of Phnicia, and the extirpation of
heresy in the Isle of Cyprus; extended his pastoral care to the missions
of Persia and Scythia; negotiated, by his ambassadors, with the Roman
pontiff and the emperor Honorius; and boldly appealed, from a partial
synod, to the supreme tribunal of a free and general council. The mind
of the illustrious exile was still independent; but his captive body
was exposed to the revenge of the oppressors, who continued to abuse the
name and authority of Arcadius. An order was despatched for the instant
removal of Chrysostom to the extreme desert of Pityus: and his guards so
faithfully obeyed their cruel instructions, that, before he reached
the sea-coast of the Euxine, he expired at Comana, in Pontus, in the
sixtieth year of his age. The succeeding generation acknowledged his
innocence and merit. The archbishops of the East, who might blush that
their predecessors had been the enemies of Chrysostom, were gradually
disposed, by the firmness of the Roman pontiff, to restore the honors of
that venerable name. At the pious solicitation of the clergy and people
of Constantinople, his relics, thirty years after his death, were
transported from their obscure sepulchre to the royal city. The emperor
Theodosius advanced to receive them as far as Chalcedon; and, falling
prostrate on the coffin, implored, in the name of his guilty parents,
Arcadius and Eudoxia, the forgiveness of the injured saint.



Chapter XXXII: Emperors Arcadius, Eutropius, Theodosius II.--Part III.

Yet a reasonable doubt may be entertained, whether any stain of
hereditary guilt could be derived from Arcadius to his successor.
Eudoxia was a young and beautiful woman, who indulged her passions,
and despised her husband; Count John enjoyed, at least, the familiar
confidence of the empress; and the public named him as the real father
of Theodosius the younger. The birth of a son was accepted, however,
by the pious husband, as an event the most fortunate and honorable to
himself, to his family, and to the Eastern world: and the royal infant,
by an unprecedented favor, was invested with the titles of Cæsar and
Augustus. In less than four years afterwards, Eudoxia, in the bloom
of youth, was destroyed by the consequences of a miscarriage; and this
untimely death confounded the prophecy of a holy bishop, who, amidst the
universal joy, had ventured to foretell, that she should behold the long
and auspicious reign of her glorious son. The Catholics applauded the
justice of Heaven, which avenged the persecution of St. Chrysostom; and
perhaps the emperor was the only person who sincerely bewailed the
loss of the haughty and rapacious Eudoxia. Such a domestic misfortune
afflicted _him_ more deeply than the public calamities of the East;
the licentious excursions, from Pontus to Palestine, of the Isaurian
robbers, whose impunity accused the weakness of the government; and the
earthquakes, the conflagrations, the famine, and the flights of locusts,
which the popular discontent was equally disposed to attribute to the
incapacity of the monarch. At length, in the thirty-first year of his
age, after a reign (if we may abuse that word) of thirteen years,
three months, and fifteen days, Arcadius expired in the palace of
Constantinople. It is impossible to delineate his character; since, in
a period very copiously furnished with historical materials, it has not
been possible to remark one action that properly belongs to the son of
the great Theodosius.

The historian Procopius has indeed illuminated the mind of the dying
emperor with a ray of human prudence, or celestial wisdom. Arcadius
considered, with anxious foresight, the helpless condition of his son
Theodosius, who was no more than seven years of age, the dangerous
factions of a minority, and the aspiring spirit of Jezdegerd, the
Persian monarch. Instead of tempting the allegiance of an ambitious
subject, by the participation of supreme power, he boldly appealed
to the magnanimity of a king; and placed, by a solemn testament,
the sceptre of the East in the hands of Jezdegerd himself. The royal
guardian accepted and discharged this honorable trust with unexampled
fidelity; and the infancy of Theodosius was protected by the arms and
councils of Persia. Such is the singular narrative of Procopius; and his
veracity is not disputed by Agathias, while he presumes to dissent from
his judgment, and to arraign the wisdom of a Christian emperor, who, so
rashly, though so fortunately, committed his son and his dominions to
the unknown faith of a stranger, a rival, and a heathen. At the distance
of one hundred and fifty years, this political question might be debated
in the court of Justinian; but a prudent historian will refuse to
examine the _propriety_, till he has ascertained the _truth_, of the
testament of Arcadius. As it stands without a parallel in the history
of the world, we may justly require, that it should be attested by the
positive and unanimous evidence of contemporaries. The strange novelty
of the event, which excites our distrust, must have attracted their
notice; and their universal silence annihilates the vain tradition of
the succeeding age.

The maxims of Roman jurisprudence, if they could fairly be transferred
from private property to public dominion, would have adjudged to the
emperor Honorius the guardianship of his nephew, till he had attained,
at least, the fourteenth year of his age. But the weakness of Honorius,
and the calamities of his reign, disqualified him from prosecuting
this natural claim; and such was the absolute separation of the two
monarchies, both in interest and affection, that Constantinople would
have obeyed, with less reluctance, the orders of the Persian, than those
of the Italian, court. Under a prince whose weakness is disguised by the
external signs of manhood and discretion, the most worthless favorites
may secretly dispute the empire of the palace; and dictate to submissive
provinces the commands of a master, whom they direct and despise. But
the ministers of a child, who is incapable of arming them with the
sanction of the royal name, must acquire and exercise an independent
authority. The great officers of the state and army, who had been
appointed before the death of Arcadius, formed an aristocracy, which
might have inspired them with the idea of a free republic; and the
government of the Eastern empire was fortunately assumed by the præfect
Anthemius, who obtained, by his superior abilities, a lasting ascendant
over the minds of his equals. The safety of the young emperor proved the
merit and integrity of Anthemius; and his prudent firmness sustained the
force and reputation of an infant reign. Uldin, with a formidable host
of Barbarians, was encamped in the heart of Thrace; he proudly rejected
all terms of accommodation; and, pointing to the rising sun, declared
to the Roman ambassadors, that the course of that planet should
alone terminate the conquest of the Huns. But the desertion of his
confederates, who were privately convinced of the justice and liberality
of the Imperial ministers, obliged Uldin to repass the Danube: the tribe
of the Scyrri, which composed his rear-guard, was almost extirpated; and
many thousand captives were dispersed to cultivate, with servile labor,
the fields of Asia. In the midst of the public triumph, Constantinople
was protected by a strong enclosure of new and more extensive walls;
the same vigilant care was applied to restore the fortifications of the
Illyrian cities; and a plan was judiciously conceived, which, in the
space of seven years, would have secured the command of the Danube, by
establishing on that river a perpetual fleet of two hundred and fifty
armed vessels.

But the Romans had so long been accustomed to the authority of a
monarch, that the first, even among the females, of the Imperial family,
who displayed any courage or capacity, was permitted to ascend the
vacant throne of Theodosius. His sister Pulcheria, who was only two
years older than himself, received, at the age of sixteen, the title of
_Augusta_; and though her favor might be sometimes clouded by caprice or
intrigue, she continued to govern the Eastern empire near forty years;
during the long minority of her brother, and after his death, in her
own name, and in the name of Marcian, her nominal husband. From a motive
either of prudence or religion, she embraced a life of celibacy; and
notwithstanding some aspersions on the chastity of Pulcheria, this
resolution, which she communicated to her sisters Arcadia and Marina,
was celebrated by the Christian world, as the sublime effort of heroic
piety. In the presence of the clergy and people, the three daughters of
Arcadius dedicated their virginity to God; and the obligation of their
solemn vow was inscribed on a tablet of gold and gems; which they
publicly offered in the great church of Constantinople. Their palace was
converted into a monastery; and all males, except the guides of their
conscience, the saints who had forgotten the distinction of sexes,
were scrupulously excluded from the holy threshold. Pulcheria, her two
sisters, and a chosen train of favorite damsels, formed a religious
community: they denounced the vanity of dress; interrupted, by frequent
fasts, their simple and frugal diet; allotted a portion of their time to
works of embroidery; and devoted several hours of the day and night to
the exercises of prayer and psalmody. The piety of a Christian virgin
was adorned by the zeal and liberality of an empress. Ecclesiastical
history describes the splendid churches, which were built at the
expense of Pulcheria, in all the provinces of the East; her charitable
foundations for the benefit of strangers and the poor; the ample
donations which she assigned for the perpetual maintenance of monastic
societies; and the active severity with which she labored to suppress
the opposite heresies of Nestorius and Eutyches. Such virtues were
supposed to deserve the peculiar favor of the Deity: and the relics of
martyrs, as well as the knowledge of future events, were communicated
in visions and revelations to the Imperial saint. Yet the devotion
of Pulcheria never diverted her indefatigable attention from temporal
affairs; and she alone, among all the descendants of the great
Theodosius, appears to have inherited any share of his manly spirit and
abilities. The elegant and familiar use which she had acquired, both
of the Greek and Latin languages, was readily applied to the various
occasions of speaking or writing, on public business: her deliberations
were maturely weighed; her actions were prompt and decisive; and, while
she moved, without noise or ostentation, the wheel of government, she
discreetly attributed to the genius of the emperor the long tranquillity
of his reign. In the last years of his peaceful life, Europe was indeed
afflicted by the arms of war; but the more extensive provinces of Asia
still continued to enjoy a profound and permanent repose. Theodosius the
younger was never reduced to the disgraceful necessity of encountering
and punishing a rebellious subject: and since we cannot applaud the
vigor, some praise may be due to the mildness and prosperity, of the
administration of Pulcheria.

The Roman world was deeply interested in the education of its master. A
regular course of study and exercise was judiciously instituted; of the
military exercises of riding, and shooting with the bow; of the liberal
studies of grammar, rhetoric, and philosophy: the most skilful masters
of the East ambitiously solicited the attention of their royal pupil;
and several noble youths were introduced into the palace, to animate his
diligence by the emulation of friendship. Pulcheria alone discharged the
important task of instructing her brother in the arts of government;
but her precepts may countenance some suspicions of the extent of her
capacity, or of the purity of her intentions. She taught him to maintain
a grave and majestic deportment; to walk, to hold his robes, to seat
himself on his throne, in a manner worthy of a great prince; to abstain
from laughter; to listen with condescension; to return suitable answers;
to assume, by turns, a serious or a placid countenance: in a word, to
represent with grace and dignity the external figure of a Roman emperor.
But Theodosius was never excited to support the weight and glory of an
illustrious name: and, instead of aspiring to support his ancestors,
he degenerated (if we may presume to measure the degrees of incapacity)
below the weakness of his father and his uncle. Arcadius and Honorius
had been assisted by the guardian care of a parent, whose lessons were
enforced by his authority and example. But the unfortunate prince, who
is born in the purple, must remain a stranger to the voice of truth;
and the son of Arcadius was condemned to pass his perpetual infancy
encompassed only by a servile train of women and eunuchs. The ample
leisure which he acquired by neglecting the essential duties of his high
office, was filled by idle amusements and unprofitable studies. Hunting
was the only active pursuit that could tempt him beyond the limits of
the palace; but he most assiduously labored, sometimes by the light of a
midnight lamp, in the mechanic occupations of painting and carving;
and the elegance with which he transcribed religious books entitled
the Roman emperor to the singular epithet of _Calligraphes_, or a fair
writer. Separated from the world by an impenetrable veil, Theodosius
trusted the persons whom he loved; he loved those who were accustomed to
amuse and flatter his indolence; and as he never perused the papers that
were presented for the royal signature, the acts of injustice the most
repugnant to his character were frequently perpetrated in his name. The
emperor himself was chaste, temperate, liberal, and merciful; but these
qualities, which can only deserve the name of virtues when they
are supported by courage and regulated by discretion, were seldom
beneficial, and they sometimes proved mischievous, to mankind. His mind,
enervated by a royal education, was oppressed and degraded by abject
superstition: he fasted, he sung psalms, he blindly accepted the
miracles and doctrines with which his faith was continually nourished.
Theodosius devoutly worshipped the dead and living saints of the
Catholic church; and he once refused to eat, till an insolent monk, who
had cast an excommunication on his sovereign, condescended to heal the
spiritual wound which he had inflicted.

The story of a fair and virtuous maiden, exalted from a private
condition to the Imperial throne, might be deemed an incredible romance,
if such a romance had not been verified in the marriage of Theodosius.
The celebrated Athenais was educated by her father Leontius in the
religion and sciences of the Greeks; and so advantageous was the opinion
which the Athenian philosopher entertained of his contemporaries,
that he divided his patrimony between his two sons, bequeathing to his
daughter a small legacy of one hundred pieces of gold, in the lively
confidence that her beauty and merit would be a sufficient portion. The
jealousy and avarice of her brothers soon compelled Athenais to seek
a refuge at Constantinople; and, with some hopes, either of justice
or favor, to throw herself at the feet of Pulcheria. That sagacious
princess listened to her eloquent complaint; and secretly destined the
daughter of the philosopher Leontius for the future wife of the emperor
of the East, who had now attained the twentieth year of his age. She
easily excited the curiosity of her brother, by an interesting picture
of the charms of Athenais; large eyes, a well-proportioned nose, a fair
complexion, golden locks, a slender person, a graceful demeanor,
an understanding improved by study, and a virtue tried by distress.
Theodosius, concealed behind a curtain in the apartment of his
sister, was permitted to behold the Athenian virgin: the modest youth
immediately declared his pure and honorable love; and the royal
nuptials were celebrated amidst the acclamations of the capital and the
provinces. Athenais, who was easily persuaded to renounce the errors of
Paganism, received at her baptism the Christian name of Eudocia; but
the cautious Pulcheria withheld the title of Augusta, till the wife of
Theodosius had approved her fruitfulness by the birth of a daughter,
who espoused, fifteen years afterwards, the emperor of the West. The
brothers of Eudocia obeyed, with some anxiety, her Imperial summons; but
as she could easily forgive their unfortunate unkindness, she indulged
the tenderness, or perhaps the vanity, of a sister, by promoting them to
the rank of consuls and præfects. In the luxury of the palace, she still
cultivated those ingenuous arts which had contributed to her greatness;
and wisely dedicated her talents to the honor of religion, and of her
husband. Eudocia composed a poetical paraphrase of the first eight books
of the Old Testament, and of the prophecies of Daniel and Zechariah;
a cento of the verses of Homer, applied to the life and miracles of
Christ, the legend of St. Cyprian, and a panegyric on the Persian
victories of Theodosius; and her writings, which were applauded by a
servile and superstitious age, have not been disdained by the candor of
impartial criticism. The fondness of the emperor was not abated by time
and possession; and Eudocia, after the marriage of her daughter, was
permitted to discharge her grateful vows by a solemn pilgrimage
to Jerusalem. Her ostentatious progress through the East may seem
inconsistent with the spirit of Christian humility; she pronounced, from
a throne of gold and gems, an eloquent oration to the senate of Antioch,
declared her royal intention of enlarging the walls of the city,
bestowed a donative of two hundred pounds of gold to restore the public
baths, and accepted the statues, which were decreed by the gratitude of
Antioch. In the Holy Land, her alms and pious foundations exceeded the
munificence of the great Helena, and though the public treasure might
be impoverished by this excessive liberality, she enjoyed the conscious
satisfaction of returning to Constantinople with the chains of St.
Peter, the right arm of St. Stephen, and an undoubted picture of the
Virgin, painted by St. Luke. But this pilgrimage was the fatal term
of the glories of Eudocia. Satiated with empty pomp, and unmindful,
perhaps, of her obligations to Pulcheria, she ambitiously aspired to the
government of the Eastern empire; the palace was distracted by female
discord; but the victory was at last decided, by the superior ascendant
of the sister of Theodosius. The execution of Paulinus, master of the
offices, and the disgrace of Cyrus, Prætorian præfect of the East,
convinced the public that the favor of Eudocia was insufficient to
protect her most faithful friends; and the uncommon beauty of Paulinus
encouraged the secret rumor, that his guilt was that of a successful
lover. As soon as the empress perceived that the affection of Theodosius
was irretrievably lost, she requested the permission of retiring to
the distant solitude of Jerusalem. She obtained her request; but the
jealousy of Theodosius, or the vindictive spirit of Pulcheria, pursued
her in her last retreat; and Saturninus, count of the domestics, was
directed to punish with death two ecclesiastics, her most favored
servants. Eudocia instantly revenged them by the assassination of
the count; the furious passions which she indulged on this suspicious
occasion, seemed to justify the severity of Theodosius; and the empress,
ignominiously stripped of the honors of her rank, was disgraced,
perhaps unjustly, in the eyes of the world. The remainder of the life of
Eudocia, about sixteen years, was spent in exile and devotion; and the
approach of age, the death of Theodosius, the misfortunes of her only
daughter, who was led a captive from Rome to Carthage, and the society
of the Holy Monks of Palestine, insensibly confirmed the religious
temper of her mind. After a full experience of the vicissitudes of human
life, the daughter of the philosopher Leontius expired, at Jerusalem,
in the sixty-seventh year of her age; protesting, with her dying breath,
that she had never transgressed the bounds of innocence and friendship.

The gentle mind of Theodosius was never inflamed by the ambition of
conquest, or military renown; and the slight alarm of a Persian war
scarcely interrupted the tranquillity of the East. The motives of this
war were just and honorable. In the last year of the reign of Jezdegerd,
the supposed guardian of Theodosius, a bishop, who aspired to the crown
of martyrdom, destroyed one of the fire-temples of Susa. His zeal
and obstinacy were revenged on his brethren: the Magi excited a cruel
persecution; and the intolerant zeal of Jezdegerd was imitated by his
son Varanes, or Bahram, who soon afterwards ascended the throne. Some
Christian fugitives, who escaped to the Roman frontier, were sternly
demanded, and generously refused; and the refusal, aggravated by
commercial disputes, soon kindled a war between the rival monarchies.
The mountains of Armenia, and the plains of Mesopotamia, were filled
with hostile armies; but the operations of two successive campaigns were
not productive of any decisive or memorable events. Some engagements
were fought, some towns were besieged, with various and doubtful
success: and if the Romans failed in their attempt to recover the
long-lost possession of Nisibis, the Persians were repulsed from the
walls of a Mesopotamian city, by the valor of a martial bishop, who
pointed his thundering engine in the name of St. Thomas the Apostle.
Yet the splendid victories which the incredible speed of the messenger
Palladius repeatedly announced to the palace of Constantinople, were
celebrated with festivals and panegyrics. From these panegyrics the
historians of the age might borrow their extraordinary, and, perhaps,
fabulous tales; of the proud challenge of a Persian hero, who was
entangled by the net, and despatched by the sword, of Areobindus the
Goth; of the ten thousand _Immortals_, who were slain in the attack of
the Roman camp; and of the hundred thousand Arabs, or Saracens, who
were impelled by a panic terror to throw themselves headlong into
the Euphrates. Such events may be disbelieved or disregarded; but the
charity of a bishop, Acacius of Amida, whose name might have dignified
the saintly calendar, shall not be lost in oblivion. Boldly declaring,
that vases of gold and silver are useless to a God who neither eats
nor drinks, the generous prelate sold the plate of the church of Amida;
employed the price in the redemption of seven thousand Persian captives;
supplied their wants with affectionate liberality; and dismissed them
to their native country, to inform their king of the true spirit of the
religion which he persecuted. The practice of benevolence in the midst
of war must always tend to assuage the animosity of contending
nations; and I wish to persuade myself, that Acacius contributed to the
restoration of peace. In the conference which was held on the limits of
the two empires, the Roman ambassadors degraded the personal character
of their sovereign, by a vain attempt to magnify the extent of his
power; when they seriously advised the Persians to prevent, by a timely
accommodation, the wrath of a monarch, who was yet ignorant of this
distant war. A truce of one hundred years was solemnly ratified;
and although the revolutions of Armenia might threaten the public
tranquillity, the essential conditions of this treaty were respected
near fourscore years by the successors of Constantine and Artaxerxes.

Since the Roman and Parthian standards first encountered on the banks of
the Euphrates, the kingdom of Armenia was alternately oppressed by
its formidable protectors; and in the course of this History, several
events, which inclined the balance of peace and war, have been already
related. A disgraceful treaty had resigned Armenia to the ambition of
Sapor; and the scale of Persia appeared to preponderate. But the royal
race of Arsaces impatiently submitted to the house of Sassan; the
turbulent nobles asserted, or betrayed, their hereditary independence;
and the nation was still attached to the _Christian_ princes of
Constantinople. In the beginning of the fifth century, Armenia was
divided by the progress of war and faction; and the unnatural division
precipitated the downfall of that ancient monarchy. Chosroes, the
Persian vassal, reigned over the Eastern and most extensive portion of
the country; while the Western province acknowledged the jurisdiction of
Arsaces, and the supremacy of the emperor Arcadius. After the death
of Arsaces, the Romans suppressed the regal government, and imposed
on their allies the condition of subjects. The military command
was delegated to the count of the Armenian frontier; the city of
Theodosiopolis was built and fortified in a strong situation, on a
fertile and lofty ground, near the sources of the Euphrates; and the
dependent territories were ruled by five satraps, whose dignity was
marked by a peculiar habit of gold and purple. The less fortunate
nobles, who lamented the loss of their king, and envied the honors of
their equals, were provoked to negotiate their peace and pardon at the
Persian court; and returning, with their followers, to the palace of
Artaxata, acknowledged Chosroes for their lawful sovereign. About thirty
years afterwards, Artasires, the nephew and successor of Chosroes, fell
under the displeasure of the haughty and capricious nobles of Armenia;
and they unanimously desired a Persian governor in the room of an
unworthy king. The answer of the archbishop Isaac, whose sanction they
earnestly solicited, is expressive of the character of a superstitious
people. He deplored the manifest and inexcusable vices of Artasires; and
declared, that he should not hesitate to accuse him before the tribunal
of a Christian emperor, who would punish, without destroying, the
sinner. "Our king," continued Isaac, "is too much addicted to licentious
pleasures, but he has been purified in the holy waters of baptism. He is
a lover of women, but he does not adore the fire or the elements. He may
deserve the reproach of lewdness, but he is an undoubted Catholic;
and his faith is pure, though his manners are flagitious. I will never
consent to abandon my sheep to the rage of devouring wolves; and you
would soon repent your rash exchange of the infirmities of a believer,
for the specious virtues of a heathen." Exasperated by the firmness of
Isaac, the factious nobles accused both the king and the archbishop
as the secret adherents of the emperor; and absurdly rejoiced in the
sentence of condemnation, which, after a partial hearing, was solemnly
pronounced by Bahram himself. The descendants of Arsaces were degraded
from the royal dignity, which they had possessed above five hundred and
sixty years; and the dominions of the unfortunate Artasires, under the
new and significant appellation of Persarmenia, were reduced into the
form of a province. This usurpation excited the jealousy of the Roman
government; but the rising disputes were soon terminated by an amicable,
though unequal, partition of the ancient kingdom of Armenia: and a
territorial acquisition, which Augustus might have despised, reflected
some lustre on the declining empire of the younger Theodosius.



Chapter XXXIII: Conquest Of Africa By The Vandals.--Part I.

     Death Of Honorius.--Valentinian III.--Emperor Of The East.--
     Administration Of His Mother Placidia--Ætius And Boniface.--
     Conquest Of Africa By The Vandals.

During a long and disgraceful reign of twenty-eight years, Honorius,
emperor of the West, was separated from the friendship of his
brother, and afterwards of his nephew, who reigned over the East; and
Constantinople beheld, with apparent indifference and secret joy, the
calamities of Rome. The strange adventures of Placidia gradually renewed
and cemented the alliance of the two empires. The daughter of the great
Theodosius had been the captive, and the queen, of the Goths; she lost
an affectionate husband; she was dragged in chains by his insulting
assassin; she tasted the pleasure of revenge, and was exchanged, in the
treaty of peace, for six hundred thousand measures of wheat. After her
return from Spain to Italy, Placidia experienced a new persecution in
the bosom of her family. She was averse to a marriage, which had been
stipulated without her consent; and the brave Constantius, as a noble
reward for the tyrants whom he had vanquished, received, from the hand
of Honorius himself, the struggling and the reluctant hand of the widow
of Adolphus. But her resistance ended with the ceremony of the nuptials:
nor did Placidia refuse to become the mother of Honoria and Valentinian
the Third, or to assume and exercise an absolute dominion over the mind
of her grateful husband. The generous soldier, whose time had hitherto
been divided between social pleasure and military service, was taught
new lessons of avarice and ambition: he extorted the title of Augustus:
and the servant of Honorius was associated to the empire of the West.
The death of Constantius, in the seventh month of his reign, instead of
diminishing, seemed to increase the power of Placidia; and the indecent
familiarity of her brother, which might be no more than the symptoms of
a childish affection, were universally attributed to incestuous love.
On a sudden, by some base intrigues of a steward and a nurse, this
excessive fondness was converted into an irreconcilable quarrel: the
debates of the emperor and his sister were not long confined within the
walls of the palace; and as the Gothic soldiers adhered to their queen,
the city of Ravenna was agitated with bloody and dangerous tumults,
which could only be appeased by the forced or voluntary retreat of
Placidia and her children. The royal exiles landed at Constantinople,
soon after the marriage of Theodosius, during the festival of the
Persian victories. They were treated with kindness and magnificence;
but as the statues of the emperor Constantius had been rejected by the
Eastern court, the title of Augusta could not decently be allowed to
his widow. Within a few months after the arrival of Placidia, a swift
messenger announced the death of Honorius, the consequence of a dropsy;
but the important secret was not divulged, till the necessary orders had
been despatched for the march of a large body of troops to the `-coast
of Dalmatia. The shops and the gates of Constantinople remained shut
during seven days; and the loss of a foreign prince, who could neither
be esteemed nor regretted, was celebrated with loud and affected
demonstrations of the public grief.

While the ministers of Constantinople deliberated, the vacant throne
of Honorius was usurped by the ambition of a stranger. The name of the
rebel was John; he filled the confidential office of _Primicerius_, or
principal secretary, and history has attributed to his character more
virtues, than can easily be reconciled with the violation of the most
sacred duty. Elated by the submission of Italy, and the hope of an
alliance with the Huns, John presumed to insult, by an embassy, the
majesty of the Eastern emperor; but when he understood that his agents
had been banished, imprisoned, and at length chased away with deserved
ignominy, John prepared to assert, by arms, the injustice of his claims.
In such a cause, the grandson of the great Theodosius should have
marched in person: but the young emperor was easily diverted, by his
physicians, from so rash and hazardous a design; and the conduct of the
Italian expedition was prudently intrusted to Ardaburius, and his son
Aspar, who had already signalized their valor against the Persians. It
was resolved, that Ardaburius should embark with the infantry; whilst
Aspar, at the head of the cavalry, conducted Placidia and her son
Valentinian along the sea-coast of the Adriatic. The march of the
cavalry was performed with such active diligence, that they surprised,
without resistance, the important city of Aquileia: when the hopes of
Aspar were unexpectedly confounded by the intelligence, that a storm
had dispersed the Imperial fleet; and that his father, with only two
galleys, was taken and carried a prisoner into the port of Ravenna. Yet
this incident, unfortunate as it might seem, facilitated the conquest
of Italy. Ardaburius employed, or abused, the courteous freedom which
he was permitted to enjoy, to revive among the troops a sense of loyalty
and gratitude; and as soon as the conspiracy was ripe for execution,
he invited, by private messages, and pressed the approach of, Aspar. A
shepherd, whom the popular credulity transformed into an angel, guided
the eastern cavalry by a secret, and, it was thought, an impassable
road, through the morasses of the Po: the gates of Ravenna, after
a short struggle, were thrown open; and the defenceless tyrant was
delivered to the mercy, or rather to the cruelty, of the conquerors. His
right hand was first cut off; and, after he had been exposed, mounted
on an ass, to the public derision, John was beheaded in the circus
of Aquileia. The emperor Theodosius, when he received the news of the
victory, interrupted the horse-races; and singing, as he marched through
the streets, a suitable psalm, conducted his people from the Hippodrome
to the church, where he spent the remainder of the day in grateful
devotion.

In a monarchy, which, according to various precedents, might be
considered as elective, or hereditary, or patrimonial, it was impossible
that the intricate claims of female and collateral succession should
be clearly defined; and Theodosius, by the right of consanguinity or
conquest, might have reigned the sole legitimate emperor of the
Romans. For a moment, perhaps, his eyes were dazzled by the prospect
of unbounded sway; but his indolent temper gradually acquiesced in the
dictates of sound policy. He contented himself with the possession of
the East; and wisely relinquished the laborious task of waging a distant
and doubtful war against the Barbarians beyond the Alps; or of securing
the obedience of the Italians and Africans, whose minds were alienated
by the irreconcilable difference of language and interest. Instead of
listening to the voice of ambition, Theodosius resolved to imitate the
moderation of his grandfather, and to seat his cousin Valentinian on the
throne of the West. The royal infant was distinguished at Constantinople
by the title of _Nobilissimus_: he was promoted, before his departure
from Thessalonica, to the rank and dignity of _Cæsar_; and after the
conquest of Italy, the patrician Helion, by the authority of Theodosius,
and in the presence of the senate, saluted Valentinian the Third by
the name of Augustus, and solemnly invested him with the diadem and the
Imperial purple. By the agreement of the three females who governed the
Roman world, the son of Placidia was betrothed to Eudoxia, the daughter
of Theodosius and Athenais; and as soon as the lover and his bride had
attained the age of puberty, this honorable alliance was faithfully
accomplished. At the same time, as a compensation, perhaps, for the
expenses of the war, the Western Illyricum was detached from the Italian
dominions, and yielded to the throne of Constantinople. The emperor of
the East acquired the useful dominion of the rich and maritime province
of Dalmatia, and the dangerous sovereignty of Pannonia and Noricum,
which had been filled and ravaged above twenty years by a promiscuous
crowd of Huns, Ostrogoths, Vandals, and _Bavarians_. Theodosius and
Valentinian continued to respect the obligations of their public and
domestic alliance; but the unity of the Roman government was finally
dissolved. By a positive declaration, the validity of all future laws
was limited to the dominions of their peculiar author; unless he should
think proper to communicate them, subscribed with his own hand, for the
approbation of his independent colleague.

Valentinian, when he received the title of Augustus, was no more than
six years of age; and his long minority was intrusted to the guardian
care of a mother, who might assert a female claim to the succession
of the Western empire. Placidia envied, but she could not equal, the
reputation and virtues of the wife and sister of Theodosius, the elegant
genius of Eudocia, the wise and successful policy of Pulcheria. The
mother of Valentinian was jealous of the power which she was incapable
of exercising; she reigned twenty-five years, in the name of her son;
and the character of that unworthy emperor gradually countenanced
the suspicion that Placidia had enervated his youth by a dissolute
education, and studiously diverted his attention from every manly and
honorable pursuit. Amidst the decay of military spirit, her armies were
commanded by two generals, Ætius and Boniface, who may be deservedly
named as the last of the Romans. Their union might have supported a
sinking empire; their discord was the fatal and immediate cause of the
loss of Africa. The invasion and defeat of Attila have immortalized the
fame of Ætius; and though time has thrown a shade over the exploits of
his rival, the defence of Marseilles, and the deliverance of Africa,
attest the military talents of Count Boniface. In the field of battle,
in partial encounters, in single combats, he was still the terror of
the Barbarians: the clergy, and particularly his friend Augustin, were
edified by the Christian piety which had once tempted him to retire from
the world; the people applauded his spotless integrity; the army dreaded
his equal and inexorable justice, which may be displayed in a very
singular example. A peasant, who complained of the criminal intimacy
between his wife and a Gothic soldier, was directed to attend his
tribunal the following day: in the evening the count, who had diligently
informed himself of the time and place of the assignation, mounted his
horse, rode ten miles into the country, surprised the guilty couple,
punished the soldier with instant death, and silenced the complaints of
the husband by presenting him, the next morning, with the head of the
adulterer. The abilities of Ætius and Boniface might have been usefully
employed against the public enemies, in separate and important commands;
but the experience of their past conduct should have decided the real
favor and confidence of the empress Placidia. In the melancholy season
of her exile and distress, Boniface alone had maintained her cause
with unshaken fidelity: and the troops and treasures of Africa had
essentially contributed to extinguish the rebellion. The same rebellion
had been supported by the zeal and activity of Ætius, who brought an
army of sixty thousand Huns from the Danube to the confines of Italy,
for the service of the usurper. The untimely death of John compelled him
to accept an advantageous treaty; but he still continued, the subject
and the soldier of Valentinian, to entertain a secret, perhaps a
treasonable, correspondence with his Barbarian allies, whose retreat had
been purchased by liberal gifts, and more liberal promises. But Ætius
possessed an advantage of singular moment in a female reign; he was
present: he besieged, with artful and assiduous flattery, the palace
of Ravenna; disguised his dark designs with the mask of loyalty and
friendship; and at length deceived both his mistress and his absent
rival, by a subtle conspiracy, which a weak woman and a brave man
could not easily suspect. He had secretly persuaded Placidia to recall
Boniface from the government of Africa; he secretly advised Boniface to
disobey the Imperial summons: to the one, he represented the order as
a sentence of death; to the other, he stated the refusal as a signal
of revolt; and when the credulous and unsuspectful count had armed the
province in his defence, Ætius applauded his sagacity in foreseeing the
rebellion, which his own perfidy had excited. A temperate inquiry into
the real motives of Boniface would have restored a faithful servant to
his duty and to the republic; but the arts of Ætius still continued
to betray and to inflame, and the count was urged, by persecution, to
embrace the most desperate counsels. The success with which he eluded or
repelled the first attacks, could not inspire a vain confidence, that
at the head of some loose, disorderly Africans, he should be able to
withstand the regular forces of the West, commanded by a rival, whose
military character it was impossible for him to despise. After some
hesitation, the last struggles of prudence and loyalty, Boniface
despatched a trusty friend to the court, or rather to the camp, of
Gonderic, king of the Vandals, with the proposal of a strict alliance,
and the offer of an advantageous and perpetual settlement.

After the retreat of the Goths, the authority of Honorius had obtained
a precarious establishment in Spain; except only in the province of
Gallicia, where the Suevi and the Vandals had fortified their camps,
in mutual discord and hostile independence. The Vandals prevailed; and
their adversaries were besieged in the Nervasian hills, between Leon
and Oviedo, till the approach of Count Asterius compelled, or rather
provoked, the victorious Barbarians to remove the scene of the war to
the plains of Btica. The rapid progress of the Vandals soon acquired
a more effectual opposition; and the master-general Castinus marched
against them with a numerous army of Romans and Goths. Vanquished in
battle by an inferior army, Castinus fled with dishonor to Tarragona;
and this memorable defeat, which has been represented as the punishment,
was most probably the effect, of his rash presumption. Seville and
Carthagena became the reward, or rather the prey, of the ferocious
conquerors; and the vessels which they found in the harbor of Carthagena
might easily transport them to the Isles of Majorca and Minorca, where
the Spanish fugitives, as in a secure recess, had vainly concealed their
families and their fortunes. The experience of navigation, and perhaps
the prospect of Africa, encouraged the Vandals to accept the invitation
which they received from Count Boniface; and the death of Gonderic
served only to forward and animate the bold enterprise. In the room of a
prince not conspicuous for any superior powers of the mind or body, they
acquired his bastard brother, the terrible Genseric; a name, which, in
the destruction of the Roman empire, has deserved an equal rank with the
names of Alaric and Attila. The king of the Vandals is described to
have been of a middle stature, with a lameness in one leg, which he had
contracted by an accidental fall from his horse. His slow and cautious
speech seldom declared the deep purposes of his soul; he disdained
to imitate the luxury of the vanquished; but he indulged the sterner
passions of anger and revenge. The ambition of Genseric was without
bounds and without scruples; and the warrior could dexterously employ
the dark engines of policy to solicit the allies who might be useful
to his success, or to scatter among his enemies the seeds of hatred and
contention. Almost in the moment of his departure he was informed
that Hermanric, king of the Suevi, had presumed to ravage the Spanish
territories, which he was resolved to abandon. Impatient of the insult,
Genseric pursued the hasty retreat of the Suevi as far as Merida;
precipitated the king and his army into the River Anas, and calmly
returned to the sea-shore to embark his victorious troops. The vessels
which transported the Vandals over the modern Straits of Gibraltar, a
channel only twelve miles in breadth, were furnished by the Spaniards,
who anxiously wished their departure; and by the African general, who
had implored their formidable assistance.

Our fancy, so long accustomed to exaggerate and multiply the martial
swarms of Barbarians that seemed to issue from the North, will perhaps
be surprised by the account of the army which Genseric mustered on the
coast of Mauritania. The Vandals, who in twenty years had penetrated
from the Elbe to Mount Atlas, were united under the command of their
warlike king; and he reigned with equal authority over the Alani, who
had passed, within the term of human life, from the cold of Scythia
to the excessive heat of an African climate. The hopes of the bold
enterprise had excited many brave adventurers of the Gothic nation; and
many desperate provincials were tempted to repair their fortunes by the
same means which had occasioned their ruin. Yet this various multitude
amounted only to fifty thousand effective men; and though Genseric
artfully magnified his apparent strength, by appointing eighty
_chiliarchs_, or commanders of thousands, the fallacious increase of old
men, of children, and of slaves, would scarcely have swelled his army
to the number of four-score thousand persons. But his own dexterity,
and the discontents of Africa, soon fortified the Vandal powers, by the
accession of numerous and active allies. The parts of Mauritania which
border on the Great Desert and the Atlantic Ocean, were filled with
a fierce and untractable race of men, whose savage temper had been
exasperated, rather than reclaimed, by their dread of the Roman
arms. The wandering Moors, as they gradually ventured to approach the
seashore, and the camp of the Vandals, must have viewed with terror and
astonishment the dress, the armor, the martial pride and discipline
of the unknown strangers who had landed on their coast; and the fair
complexions of the blue-eyed warriors of Germany formed a very singular
contrast with the swarthy or olive hue which is derived from the
neighborhood of the torrid zone. After the first difficulties had in
some measure been removed, which arose from the mutual ignorance
of their respective language, the Moors, regardless of any future
consequence, embraced the alliance of the enemies of Rome; and a crowd
of naked savages rushed from the woods and valleys of Mount Atlas,
to satiate their revenge on the polished tyrants, who had injuriously
expelled them from the native sovereignty of the land.

The persecution of the Donatists was an event not less favorable to
the designs of Genseric. Seventeen years before he landed in Africa, a
public conference was held at Carthage, by the order of the magistrate.
The Catholics were satisfied, that, after the invincible reasons which
they had alleged, the obstinacy of the schismatics must be inexcusable
and voluntary; and the emperor Honorius was persuaded to inflict the
most rigorous penalties on a faction which had so long abused his
patience and clemency. Three hundred bishops, with many thousands of
the inferior clergy, were torn from their churches, stripped of their
ecclesiastical possessions, banished to the islands, and proscribed by
the laws, if they presumed to conceal themselves in the provinces of
Africa. Their numerous congregations, both in cities and in the
country, were deprived of the rights of citizens, and of the exercise
of religious worship. A regular scale of fines, from ten to two
hundred pounds of silver, was curiously ascertained, according to the
distinction of rank and fortune, to punish the crime of assisting at
a schismatic conventicle; and if the fine had been levied five times,
without subduing the obstinacy of the offender, his future punishment
was referred to the discretion of the Imperial court. By these
severities, which obtained the warmest approbation of St. Augustin,
great numbers of Donatists were reconciled to the Catholic Church; but
the fanatics, who still persevered in their opposition, were provoked to
madness and despair; the distracted country was filled with tumult and
bloodshed; the armed troops of Circumcellions alternately pointed their
rage against themselves, or against their adversaries; and the calendar
of martyrs received on both sides a considerable augmentation. Under
these circumstances, Genseric, a Christian, but an enemy of the orthodox
communion, showed himself to the Donatists as a powerful deliverer,
from whom they might reasonably expect the repeal of the odious and
oppressive edicts of the Roman emperors. The conquest of Africa was
facilitated by the active zeal, or the secret favor, of a domestic
faction; the wanton outrages against the churches and the clergy of
which the Vandals are accused, may be fairly imputed to the fanaticism
of their allies; and the intolerant spirit which disgraced the triumph
of Christianity, contributed to the loss of the most important province
of the West.

The court and the people were astonished by the strange intelligence,
that a virtuous hero, after so many favors, and so many services, had
renounced his allegiance, and invited the Barbarians to destroy the
province intrusted to his command. The friends of Boniface, who still
believed that his criminal behavior might be excused by some honorable
motive, solicited, during the absence of Ætius, a free conference with
the Count of Africa; and Darius, an officer of high distinction, was
named for the important embassy. In their first interview at Carthage,
the imaginary provocations were mutually explained; the opposite letters
of Ætius were produced and compared; and the fraud was easily detected.
Placidia and Boniface lamented their fatal error; and the count had
sufficient magnanimity to confide in the forgiveness of his sovereign,
or to expose his head to her future resentment. His repentance was
fervent and sincere; but he soon discovered that it was no longer in
his power to restore the edifice which he had shaken to its foundations.
Carthage and the Roman garrisons returned with their general to the
allegiance of Valentinian; but the rest of Africa was still distracted
with war and faction; and the inexorable king of the Vandals, disdaining
all terms of accommodation, sternly refused to relinquish the possession
of his prey. The band of veterans who marched under the standard of
Boniface, and his hasty levies of provincial troops, were defeated with
considerable loss; the victorious Barbarians insulted the open country;
and Carthage, Cirta, and Hippo Regius, were the only cities that
appeared to rise above the general inundation.

The long and narrow tract of the African coast was filled with frequent
monuments of Roman art and magnificence; and the respective degrees of
improvement might be accurately measured by the distance from Carthage
and the Mediterranean. A simple reflection will impress every thinking
mind with the clearest idea of fertility and cultivation: the country
was extremely populous; the inhabitants reserved a liberal subsistence
for their own use; and the annual exportation, particularly of wheat,
was so regular and plentiful, that Africa deserved the name of the
common granary of Rome and of mankind. On a sudden the seven fruitful
provinces, from Tangier to Tripoli, were overwhelmed by the invasion
of the Vandals; whose destructive rage has perhaps been exaggerated by
popular animosity, religious zeal, and extravagant declamation. War, in
its fairest form, implies a perpetual violation of humanity and justice;
and the hostilities of Barbarians are inflamed by the fierce and lawless
spirit which incessantly disturbs their peaceful and domestic society.
The Vandals, where they found resistance, seldom gave quarter; and the
deaths of their valiant countrymen were expiated by the ruin of the
cities under whose walls they had fallen. Careless of the distinctions
of age, or sex, or rank, they employed every species of indignity and
torture, to force from the captives a discovery of their hidden wealth.
The stern policy of Genseric justified his frequent examples of military
execution: he was not always the master of his own passions, or of
those of his followers; and the calamities of war were aggravated by the
licentiousness of the Moors, and the fanaticism of the Donatists. Yet
I shall not easily be persuaded, that it was the common practice of the
Vandals to extirpate the olives, and other fruit trees, of a country
where they intended to settle: nor can I believe that it was a usual
stratagem to slaughter great numbers of their prisoners before the
walls of a besieged city, for the sole purpose of infecting the air,
and producing a pestilence, of which they themselves must have been the
first victims.

The generous mind of Count Boniface was tortured by the exquisite
distress of beholding the ruin which he had occasioned, and whose rapid
progress he was unable to check. After the loss of a battle he retired
into Hippo Regius; where he was immediately besieged by an enemy, who
considered him as the real bulwark of Africa. The maritime colony of
_Hippo_, about two hundred miles westward of Carthage, had formerly
acquired the distinguishing epithet of _Regius_, from the residence of
Numidian kings; and some remains of trade and populousness still adhere
to the modern city, which is known in Europe by the corrupted name of
Bona. The military labors, and anxious reflections, of Count Boniface,
were alleviated by the edifying conversation of his friend St. Augustin;
till that bishop, the light and pillar of the Catholic church,
was gently released, in the third month of the siege, and in the
seventy-sixth year of his age, from the actual and the impending
calamities of his country. The youth of Augustin had been stained by the
vices and errors which he so ingenuously confesses; but from the moment
of his conversion to that of his death, the manners of the bishop of
Hippo were pure and austere: and the most conspicuous of his virtues was
an ardent zeal against heretics of every denomination; the Manichæans,
the Donatists, and the Pelagians, against whom he waged a perpetual
controversy. When the city, some months after his death, was burnt by
the Vandals, the library was fortunately saved, which contained his
voluminous writings; two hundred and thirty-two separate books or
treatises on theological subjects, besides a complete exposition of the
psalter and the gospel, and a copious magazine of epistles and homilies.
According to the judgment of the most impartial critics, the superficial
learning of Augustin was confined to the Latin language; and his style,
though sometimes animated by the eloquence of passion, is usually
clouded by false and affected rhetoric. But he possessed a strong,
capacious, argumentative mind; he boldly sounded the dark abyss of
grace, predestination, free will, and original sin; and the rigid system
of Christianity which he framed or restored, has been entertained, with
public applause, and secret reluctance, by the Latin church.



Chapter XXXIII: Conquest Of Africa By The Vandals.--Part II.

By the skill of Boniface, and perhaps by the ignorance of the Vandals,
the siege of Hippo was protracted above fourteen months: the sea was
continually open; and when the adjacent country had been exhausted by
irregular rapine, the besiegers themselves were compelled by famine to
relinquish their enterprise. The importance and danger of Africa were
deeply felt by the regent of the West. Placidia implored the assistance
of her eastern ally; and the Italian fleet and army were reënforced by
Asper, who sailed from Constantinople with a powerful armament. As
soon as the force of the two empires was united under the command of
Boniface, he boldly marched against the Vandals; and the loss of a
second battle irretrievably decided the fate of Africa. He embarked with
the precipitation of despair; and the people of Hippo were permitted,
with their families and effects, to occupy the vacant place of the
soldiers, the greatest part of whom were either slain or made prisoners
by the Vandals. The count, whose fatal credulity had wounded the vitals
of the republic, might enter the palace of Ravenna with some anxiety,
which was soon removed by the smiles of Placidia. Boniface accepted with
gratitude the rank of patrician, and the dignity of master-general of
the Roman armies; but he must have blushed at the sight of those medals,
in which he was represented with the name and attributes of victory.
The discovery of his fraud, the displeasure of the empress, and the
distinguished favor of his rival, exasperated the haughty and perfidious
soul of Ætius. He hastily returned from Gaul to Italy, with a retinue,
or rather with an army, of Barbarian followers; and such was the
weakness of the government, that the two generals decided their private
quarrel in a bloody battle. Boniface was successful; but he received in
the conflict a mortal wound from the spear of his adversary, of which he
expired within a few days, in such Christian and charitable sentiments,
that he exhorted his wife, a rich heiress of Spain, to accept Ætius for
her second husband. But Ætius could not derive any immediate advantage
from the generosity of his dying enemy: he was proclaimed a rebel by
the justice of Placidia; and though he attempted to defend some strong
fortresses, erected on his patrimonial estate, the Imperial power soon
compelled him to retire into Pannonia, to the tents of his faithful
Huns. The republic was deprived, by their mutual discord, of the service
of her two most illustrious champions.

It might naturally be expected, after the retreat of Boniface, that
the Vandals would achieve, without resistance or delay, the conquest of
Africa. Eight years, however, elapsed, from the evacuation of Hippo to
the reduction of Carthage. In the midst of that interval, the ambitious
Genseric, in the full tide of apparent prosperity, negotiated a treaty
of peace, by which he gave his son Hunneric for a hostage; and consented
to leave the Western emperor in the undisturbed possession of the three
Mauritanias. This moderation, which cannot be imputed to the justice,
must be ascribed to the policy, of the conqueror. His throne was
encompassed with domestic enemies, who accused the baseness of his
birth, and asserted the legitimate claims of his nephews, the sons of
Gonderic. Those nephews, indeed, he sacrificed to his safety; and their
mother, the widow of the deceased king, was precipitated, by his
order, into the river Ampsaga. But the public discontent burst forth in
dangerous and frequent conspiracies; and the warlike tyrant is supposed
to have shed more Vandal blood by the hand of the executioner, than in
the field of battle. The convulsions of Africa, which had favored his
attack, opposed the firm establishment of his power; and the various
seditions of the Moors and Germans, the Donatists and Catholics,
continually disturbed, or threatened, the unsettled reign of the
conqueror. As he advanced towards Carthage, he was forced to withdraw
his troops from the Western provinces; the sea-coast was exposed to the
naval enterprises of the Romans of Spain and Italy; and, in the heart
of Numidia, the strong inland city of Corta still persisted in obstinate
independence. These difficulties were gradually subdued by the spirit,
the perseverance, and the cruelty of Genseric; who alternately applied
the arts of peace and war to the establishment of his African kingdom.
He subscribed a solemn treaty, with the hope of deriving some advantage
from the term of its continuance, and the moment of its violation. The
vigilance of his enemies was relaxed by the protestations of friendship,
which concealed his hostile approach; and Carthage was at length
surprised by the Vandals, five hundred and eighty-five years after the
destruction of the city and republic by the younger Scipio.

A new city had arisen from its ruins, with the title of a colony; and
though Carthage might yield to the royal prerogatives of Constantinople,
and perhaps to the trade of Alexandria, or the splendor of Antioch, she
still maintained the second rank in the West; as the _Rome_ (if we may
use the style of contemporaries) of the African world. That wealthy and
opulent metropolis displayed, in a dependent condition, the image of a
flourishing republic. Carthage contained the manufactures, the arms,
and the treasures of the six provinces. A regular subordination of
civil honors gradually ascended from the procurators of the streets and
quarters of the city, to the tribunal of the supreme magistrate, who,
with the title of proconsul, represented the state and dignity of a
consul of ancient Rome. Schools and _gymnasia_ were instituted for
the education of the African youth; and the liberal arts and manners,
grammar, rhetoric, and philosophy, were publicly taught in the Greek and
Latin languages. The buildings of Carthage were uniform and magnificent;
a shady grove was planted in the midst of the capital; the _new_ port, a
secure and capacious harbor, was subservient to the commercial industry
of citizens and strangers; and the splendid games of the circus and
theatre were exhibited almost in the presence of the Barbarians. The
reputation of the Carthaginians was not equal to that of their country,
and the reproach of Punic faith still adhered to their subtle and
faithless character. The habits of trade, and the abuse of luxury, had
corrupted their manners; but their impious contempt of monks, and the
shameless practice of unnatural lusts, are the two abominations which
excite the pious vehemence of Salvian, the preacher of the age. The king
of the Vandals severely reformed the vices of a voluptuous people; and
the ancient, noble, ingenuous freedom of Carthage (these expressions of
Victor are not without energy) was reduced by Genseric into a state of
ignominious servitude. After he had permitted his licentious troops to
satiate their rage and avarice, he instituted a more regular system
of rapine and oppression. An edict was promulgated, which enjoined all
persons, without fraud or delay, to deliver their gold, silver, jewels,
and valuable furniture or apparel, to the royal officers; and the
attempt to secrete any part of their patrimony was inexorably punished
with death and torture, as an act of treason against the state. The
lands of the proconsular province, which formed the immediate district
of Carthage, were accurately measured, and divided among the Barbarians;
and the conqueror reserved for his peculiar domain the fertile territory
of Byzacium, and the adjacent parts of Numidia and Getulia.

It was natural enough that Genseric should hate those whom he had
injured: the nobility and senators of Carthage were exposed to his
jealousy and resentment; and all those who refused the ignominious
terms, which their honor and religion forbade them to accept, were
compelled by the Arian tyrant to embrace the condition of perpetual
banishment. Rome, Italy, and the provinces of the East, were filled
with a crowd of exiles, of fugitives, and of ingenuous captives,
who solicited the public compassion; and the benevolent epistles of
Theodoret still preserve the names and misfortunes of Cælestian and
Maria. The Syrian bishop deplores the misfortunes of Cælestian, who,
from the state of a noble and opulent senator of Carthage, was reduced,
with his wife and family, and servants, to beg his bread in a foreign
country; but he applauds the resignation of the Christian exile, and the
philosophic temper, which, under the pressure of such calamities,
could enjoy more real happiness than was the ordinary lot of wealth and
prosperity. The story of Maria, the daughter of the magnificent Eudæmon,
is singular and interesting. In the sack of Carthage, she was purchased
from the Vandals by some merchants of Syria, who afterwards sold her as
a slave in their native country. A female attendant, transported in the
same ship, and sold in the same family, still continued to respect a
mistress whom fortune had reduced to the common level of servitude;
and the daughter of Eudæmon received from her grateful affection the
domestic services which she had once required from her obedience. This
remarkable behavior divulged the real condition of Maria, who, in the
absence of the bishop of Cyrrhus, was redeemed from slavery by the
generosity of some soldiers of the garrison. The liberality of Theodoret
provided for her decent maintenance; and she passed ten months among the
deaconesses of the church; till she was unexpectedly informed, that
her father, who had escaped from the ruin of Carthage, exercised an
honorable office in one of the Western provinces. Her filial impatience
was seconded by the pious bishop: Theodoret, in a letter still extant,
recommends Maria to the bishop of Ægæ, a maritime city of Cilicia, which
was frequented, during the annual fair, by the vessels of the West; most
earnestly requesting, that his colleague would use the maiden with a
tenderness suitable to her birth; and that he would intrust her to the
care of such faithful merchants, as would esteem it a sufficient gain,
if they restored a daughter, lost beyond all human hope, to the arms of
her afflicted parent.

Among the insipid legends of ecclesiastical history, I am tempted to
distinguish the memorable fable of the Seven Sleepers; whose imaginary
date corresponds with the reign of the younger Theodosius, and the
conquest of Africa by the Vandals. When the emperor Decius persecuted
the Christians, seven noble youths of Ephesus concealed themselves in
a spacious cavern in the side of an adjacent mountain; where they were
doomed to perish by the tyrant, who gave orders that the entrance should
be firmly secured by the a pile of huge stones. They immediately fell
into a deep slumber, which was miraculously prolonged without injuring
the powers of life, during a period of one hundred and eighty-seven
years. At the end of that time, the slaves of Adolius, to whom the
inheritance of the mountain had descended, removed the stones to supply
materials for some rustic edifice: the light of the sun darted into the
cavern, and the Seven Sleepers were permitted to awake. After a slumber,
as they thought of a few hours, they were pressed by the calls of
hunger; and resolved that Jamblichus, one of their number, should
secretly return to the city to purchase bread for the use of his
companions. The youth (if we may still employ that appellation) could no
longer recognize the once familiar aspect of his native country; and his
surprise was increased by the appearance of a large cross, triumphantly
erected over the principal gate of Ephesus. His singular dress, and
obsolete language, confounded the baker, to whom he offered an ancient
medal of Decius as the current coin of the empire; and Jamblichus, on
the suspicion of a secret treasure, was dragged before the judge. Their
mutual inquiries produced the amazing discovery, that two centuries were
almost elapsed since Jamblichus and his friends had escaped from
the rage of a Pagan tyrant. The bishop of Ephesus, the clergy, the
magistrates, the people, and, as it is said, the emperor Theodosius
himself, hastened to visit the cavern of the Seven Sleepers; who
bestowed their benediction, related their story, and at the same
instant peaceably expired. The origin of this marvellous fable cannot be
ascribed to the pious fraud and credulity of the _modern_ Greeks, since
the authentic tradition may be traced within half a century of the
supposed miracle. James of Sarug, a Syrian bishop, who was born only two
years after the death of the younger Theodosius, has devoted one of
his two hundred and thirty homilies to the praise of the young men
of Ephesus. Their legend, before the end of the sixth century, was
translated from the Syriac into the Latin language, by the care of
Gregory of Tours. The hostile communions of the East preserve their
memory with equal reverence; and their names are honorably inscribed
in the Roman, the Abyssinian, and the Russian calendar. Nor has their
reputation been confined to the Christian world. This popular tale,
which Mahomet might learn when he drove his camels to the fairs of
Syria, is introduced as a divine revelation, into the Koran. The story
of the Seven Sleepers has been adopted and adorned by the nations, from
Bengal to Africa, who profess the Mahometan religion; and some vestiges
of a similar tradition have been discovered in the remote extremities of
Scandinavia. This easy and universal belief, so expressive of the sense
of mankind, may be ascribed to the genuine merit of the fable itself. We
imperceptibly advance from youth to age, without observing the
gradual, but incessant, change of human affairs; and even in our larger
experience of history, the imagination is accustomed, by a perpetual
series of causes and effects, to unite the most distant revolutions.
But if the interval between two memorable æras could be instantly
annihilated; if it were possible, after a momentary slumber of two
hundred years, to display the _new_ world to the eyes of a spectator, who
still retained a lively and recent impression of the _old_, his
surprise and his reflections would furnish the pleasing subject of
a philosophical romance. The scene could not be more advantageously
placed, than in the two centuries which elapsed between the reigns of
Decius and of Theodosius the Younger. During this period, the seat of
government had been transported from Rome to a new city on the banks
of the Thracian Bosphorus; and the abuse of military spirit had been
suppressed by an artificial system of tame and ceremonious servitude.
The throne of the persecuting Decius was filled by a succession of
Christian and orthodox princes, who had extirpated the fabulous gods of
antiquity: and the public devotion of the age was impatient to exalt the
saints and martyrs of the Catholic church, on the altars of Diana and
Hercules. The union of the Roman empire was dissolved; its genius was
humbled in the dust; and armies of unknown Barbarians, issuing from the
frozen regions of the North, had established their victorious reign over
the fairest provinces of Europe and Africa.



Chapter XXXIV: Attila.--Part I.

     The Character, Conquests, And Court Of Attila, King Of The
     Huns.--Death Of Theodosius The Younger.--Elevation Of
     Marcian To The Empire Of The East.

The Western world was oppressed by the Goths and Vandals, who fled
before the Huns; but the achievements of the Huns themselves were not
adequate to their power and prosperity. Their victorious hordes had
spread from the Volga to the Danube; but the public force was exhausted
by the discord of independent chieftains; their valor was idly consumed
in obscure and predatory excursions; and they often degraded their
national dignity, by condescending, for the hopes of spoil, to enlist
under the banners of their fugitive enemies. In the reign of Attila, the
Huns again became the terror of the world; and I shall now describe
the character and actions of that formidable Barbarian; who alternately
insulted and invaded the East and the West, and urged the rapid downfall
of the Roman empire.

In the tide of emigration which impetuously rolled from the confines
of China to those of Germany, the most powerful and populous tribes may
commonly be found on the verge of the Roman provinces. The accumulated
weight was sustained for a while by artificial barriers; and the easy
condescension of the emperors invited, without satisfying, the insolent
demands of the Barbarians, who had acquired an eager appetite for the
luxuries of civilized life. The Hungarians, who ambitiously insert the
name of Attila among their native kings, may affirm with truth that the
hordes, which were subject to his uncle Roas, or Rugilas, had formed
their encampments within the limits of modern Hungary, in a fertile
country, which liberally supplied the wants of a nation of hunters and
shepherds. In this advantageous situation, Rugilas, and his valiant
brothers, who continually added to their power and reputation, commanded
the alternative of peace or war with the two empires. His alliance with
the Romans of the West was cemented by his personal friendship for the
great Ætius; who was always secure of finding, in the Barbarian camp, a
hospitable reception and a powerful support. At his solicitation, and
in the name of John the usurper, sixty thousand Huns advanced to the
confines of Italy; their march and their retreat were alike expensive to
the state; and the grateful policy of Ætius abandoned the possession of
Pannonia to his faithful confederates. The Romans of the East were
not less apprehensive of the arms of Rugilas, which threatened the
provinces, or even the capital. Some ecclesiastical historians have
destroyed the Barbarians with lightning and pestilence; but Theodosius
was reduced to the more humble expedient of stipulating an annual
payment of three hundred and fifty pounds of gold, and of disguising
this dishonorable tribute by the title of general, which the king of
the Huns condescended to accept. The public tranquillity was frequently
interrupted by the fierce impatience of the Barbarians, and the
perfidious intrigues of the Byzantine court. Four dependent nations,
among whom we may distinguish the Barbarians, disclaimed the sovereignty
of the Huns; and their revolt was encouraged and protected by a Roman
alliance; till the just claims, and formidable power, of Rugilas, were
effectually urged by the voice of Eslaw his ambassador. Peace was the
unanimous wish of the senate: their decree was ratified by the emperor;
and two ambassadors were named, Plinthas, a general of Scythian
extraction, but of consular rank; and the quæstor Epigenes, a wise
and experienced statesman, who was recommended to that office by his
ambitious colleague.

The death of Rugilas suspended the progress of the treaty. His two
nephews, Attila and Bleda, who succeeded to the throne of their
uncle, consented to a personal interview with the ambassadors of
Constantinople; but as they proudly refused to dismount, the business
was transacted on horseback, in a spacious plain near the city of
Margus, in the Upper Mæsia. The kings of the Huns assumed the solid
benefits, as well as the vain honors, of the negotiation. They dictated
the conditions of peace, and each condition was an insult on the majesty
of the empire. Besides the freedom of a safe and plentiful market on the
banks of the Danube, they required that the annual contribution should
be augmented from three hundred and fifty to seven hundred pounds of
gold; that a fine or ransom of eight pieces of gold should be paid for
every Roman captive who had escaped from his Barbarian master; that the
emperor should renounce all treaties and engagements with the enemies of
the Huns; and that all the fugitives who had taken refuge in the court
or provinces of Theodosius, should be delivered to the justice of
their offended sovereign. This justice was rigorously inflicted on
some unfortunate youths of a royal race. They were crucified on the
territories of the empire, by the command of Attila: and as soon as the
king of the Huns had impressed the Romans with the terror of his name,
he indulged them in a short and arbitrary respite, whilst he subdued the
rebellious or independent nations of Scythia and Germany.

Attila, the son of Mundzuk, deduced his noble, perhaps his regal,
descent from the ancient Huns, who had formerly contended with the
monarchs of China. His features, according to the observation of
a Gothic historian, bore the stamp of his national origin; and the
portrait of Attila exhibits the genuine deformity of a modern Calmuk; a
large head, a swarthy complexion, small, deep-seated eyes, a flat nose,
a few hairs in the place of a beard, broad shoulders, and a short square
body, of nervous strength, though of a disproportioned form. The haughty
step and demeanor of the king of the Huns expressed the consciousness
of his superiority above the rest of mankind; and he had a custom of
fiercely rolling his eyes, as if he wished to enjoy the terror which
he inspired. Yet this savage hero was not inaccessible to pity; his
suppliant enemies might confide in the assurance of peace or pardon; and
Attila was considered by his subjects as a just and indulgent master. He
delighted in war; but, after he had ascended the throne in a mature age,
his head, rather than his hand, achieved the conquest of the North; and
the fame of an adventurous soldier was usefully exchanged for that of
a prudent and successful general. The effects of personal valor are so
inconsiderable, except in poetry or romance, that victory, even among
Barbarians, must depend on the degree of skill with which the passions
of the multitude are combined and guided for the service of a single
man. The Scythian conquerors, Attila and Zingis, surpassed their rude
countrymen in art rather than in courage; and it may be observed that
the monarchies, both of the Huns and of the Moguls, were erected by
their founders on the basis of popular superstition The miraculous
conception, which fraud and credulity ascribed to the virgin-mother
of Zingis, raised him above the level of human nature; and the naked
prophet, who in the name of the Deity invested him with the empire of
the earth, pointed the valor of the Moguls with irresistible enthusiasm.
The religious arts of Attila were not less skillfully adapted to
the character of his age and country. It was natural enough that the
Scythians should adore, with peculiar devotion, the god of war; but as
they were incapable of forming either an abstract idea, or a corporeal
representation, they worshipped their tutelar deity under the symbol
of an iron cimeter. One of the shepherds of the Huns perceived, that a
heifer, who was grazing, had wounded herself in the foot, and curiously
followed the track of the blood, till he discovered, among the long
grass, the point of an ancient sword, which he dug out of the ground
and presented to Attila. That magnanimous, or rather that artful,
prince accepted, with pious gratitude, this celestial favor; and, as
the rightful possessor of the _sword of Mars_, asserted his divine and
indefeasible claim to the dominion of the earth. If the rites of Scythia
were practised on this solemn occasion, a lofty altar, or rather pile
of fagots, three hundred yards in length and in breadth, was raised in a
spacious plain; and the sword of Mars was placed erect on the summit of
this rustic altar, which was annually consecrated by the blood of sheep,
horses, and of the hundredth captive. Whether human sacrifices formed
any part of the worship of Attila, or whether he propitiated the god
of war with the victims which he continually offered in the field of
battle, the favorite of Mars soon acquired a sacred character, which
rendered his conquests more easy and more permanent; and the Barbarian
princes confessed, in the language of devotion or flattery, that they
could not presume to gaze, with a steady eye, on the divine majesty of
the king of the Huns. His brother Bleda, who reigned over a considerable
part of the nation, was compelled to resign his sceptre and his life.
Yet even this cruel act was attributed to a supernatural impulse; and
the vigor with which Attila wielded the sword of Mars, convinced the
world that it had been reserved alone for his invincible arm. But the
extent of his empire affords the only remaining evidence of the number
and importance of his victories; and the Scythian monarch, however
ignorant of the value of science and philosophy, might perhaps lament
that his illiterate subjects were destitute of the art which could
perpetuate the memory of his exploits.

If a line of separation were drawn between the civilized and the savage
climates of the globe; between the inhabitants of cities, who cultivated
the earth, and the hunters and shepherds, who dwelt in tents, Attila
might aspire to the title of supreme and sole monarch of the Barbarians.
He alone, among the conquerors of ancient and modern times, united
the two mighty kingdoms of Germany and Scythia; and those vague
appellations, when they are applied to his reign, may be understood with
an ample latitude. Thuringia, which stretched beyond its actual limits
as far as the Danube, was in the number of his provinces; he interposed,
with the weight of a powerful neighbor, in the domestic affairs of the
Franks; and one of his lieutenants chastised, and almost exterminated,
the Burgundians of the Rhine. He subdued the islands of the ocean, the
kingdoms of Scandinavia, encompassed and divided by the waters of the
Baltic; and the Huns might derive a tribute of furs from that northern
region, which has been protected from all other conquerors by the
severity of the climate, and the courage of the natives. Towards the
East, it is difficult to circumscribe the dominion of Attila over the
Scythian deserts; yet we may be assured, that he reigned on the banks of
the Volga; that the king of the Huns was dreaded, not only as a warrior,
but as a magician; that he insulted and vanquished the khan of the
formidable Geougen; and that he sent ambassadors to negotiate an equal
alliance with the empire of China. In the proud review of the nations
who acknowledged the sovereignty of Attila, and who never entertained,
during his lifetime, the thought of a revolt, the Gepidæ and the
Ostrogoths were distinguished by their numbers, their bravery, and
the personal merits of their chiefs. The renowned Ardaric, king of the
Gepidæ, was the faithful and sagacious counsellor of the monarch, who
esteemed his intrepid genius, whilst he loved the mild and discreet
virtues of the noble Walamir, king of the Ostrogoths. The crowd of
vulgar kings, the leaders of so many martial tribes, who served under
the standard of Attila, were ranged in the submissive order of guards
and domestics round the person of their master. They watched his nod;
they trembled at his frown; and at the first signal of his will, they
executed, without murmur or hesitation, his stern and absolute commands.
In time of peace, the dependent princes, with their national troops,
attended the royal camp in regular succession; but when Attila collected
his military force, he was able to bring into the field an army of five,
or, according to another account, of seven hundred thousand Barbarians.

The ambassadors of the Huns might awaken the attention of Theodosius,
by reminding him that they were his neighbors both in Europe and Asia;
since they touched the Danube on one hand, and reached, with the other,
as far as the Tanais. In the reign of his father Arcadius, a band of
adventurous Huns had ravaged the provinces of the East; from whence they
brought away rich spoils and innumerable captives. They advanced, by a
secret path, along the shores of the Caspian Sea; traversed the snowy
mountains of Armenia; passed the Tigris, the Euphrates, and the Halys;
recruited their weary cavalry with the generous breed of Cappadocian
horses; occupied the hilly country of Cilicia, and disturbed the festal
songs and dances of the citizens of Antioch. Egypt trembled at their
approach; and the monks and pilgrims of the Holy Land prepared to
escaped their fury by a speedy embarkation. The memory of this invasion
was still recent in the minds of the Orientals. The subjects of Attila
might execute, with superior forces, the design which these adventurers
had so boldly attempted; and it soon became the subject of anxious
conjecture, whether the tempest would fall on the dominions of Rome, or
of Persia. Some of the great vassals of the king of the Huns, who were
themselves in the rank of powerful princes, had been sent to ratify
an alliance and society of arms with the emperor, or rather with the
general of the West. They related, during their residence at Rome, the
circumstances of an expedition, which they had lately made into the
East. After passing a desert and a morass, supposed by the Romans to be
the Lake Mæotis, they penetrated through the mountains, and arrived,
at the end of fifteen days' march, on the confines of Media; where
they advanced as far as the unknown cities of Basic and Cursic.
They encountered the Persian army in the plains of Media and the air,
according to their own expression, was darkened by a cloud of arrows.
But the Huns were obliged to retire before the numbers of the enemy.
Their laborious retreat was effected by a different road; they lost the
greatest part of their booty; and at length returned to the royal camp,
with some knowledge of the country, and an impatient desire of revenge.
In the free conversation of the Imperial ambassadors, who discussed,
at the court of Attila, the character and designs of their formidable
enemy, the ministers of Constantinople expressed their hope, that his
strength might be diverted and employed in a long and doubtful contest
with the princes of the house of Sassan. The more sagacious Italians
admonished their Eastern brethren of the folly and danger of such a
hope; and convinced them, _that_ the Medes and Persians were incapable
of resisting the arms of the Huns; and _that_ the easy and important
acquisition would exalt the pride, as well as power, of the conqueror.
Instead of contenting himself with a moderate contribution, and a
military title, which equalled him only to the generals of Theodosius,
Attila would proceed to impose a disgraceful and intolerable yoke on
the necks of the prostrate and captive Romans, who would then be
encompassed, on all sides, by the empire of the Huns.

While the powers of Europe and Asia were solicitous to avert the
impending danger, the alliance of Attila maintained the Vandals in
the possession of Africa. An enterprise had been concerted between the
courts of Ravenna and Constantinople, for the recovery of that valuable
province; and the ports of Sicily were already filled with the military
and naval forces of Theodosius. But the subtle Genseric, who spread his
negotiations round the world, prevented their designs, by exciting the
king of the Huns to invade the Eastern empire; and a trifling incident
soon became the motive, or pretence, of a destructive war. Under the
faith of the treaty of Margus, a free market was held on the Northern
side of the Danube, which was protected by a Roman fortress surnamed
Constantia. A troop of Barbarians violated the commercial security;
killed, or dispersed, the unsuspecting traders; and levelled the
fortress with the ground. The Huns justified this outrage as an act
of reprisal; alleged, that the bishop of Margus had entered their
territories, to discover and steal a secret treasure of their kings;
and sternly demanded the guilty prelate, the sacrilegious spoil, and
the fugitive subjects, who had escaped from the justice of Attila. The
refusal of the Byzantine court was the signal of war; and the Mæsians at
first applauded the generous firmness of their sovereign. But they
were soon intimidated by the destruction of Viminiacum and the adjacent
towns; and the people was persuaded to adopt the convenient maxim,
that a private citizen, however innocent or respectable, may be justly
sacrificed to the safety of his country. The bishop of Margus, who did
not possess the spirit of a martyr, resolved to prevent the designs
which he suspected. He boldly treated with the princes of the Huns:
secured, by solemn oaths, his pardon and reward; posted a numerous
detachment of Barbarians, in silent ambush, on the banks of the Danube;
and, at the appointed hour, opened, with his own hand, the gates of his
episcopal city. This advantage, which had been obtained by treachery,
served as a prelude to more honorable and decisive victories. The
Illyrian frontier was covered by a line of castles and fortresses; and
though the greatest part of them consisted only of a single tower,
with a small garrison, they were commonly sufficient to repel, or to
intercept, the inroads of an enemy, who was ignorant of the art, and
impatient of the delay, of a regular siege. But these slight obstacles
were instantly swept away by the inundation of the Huns. They destroyed,
with fire and sword, the populous cities of Sirmium and Singidunum,
of Ratiaria and Marcianopolis, of Naissus and Sardica; where every
circumstance of the discipline of the people, and the construction
of the buildings, had been gradually adapted to the sole purpose of
defence. The whole breadth of Europe, as it extends above five hundred
miles from the Euxine to the Hadriatic, was at once invaded, and
occupied, and desolated, by the myriads of Barbarians whom Attila led
into the field. The public danger and distress could not, however,
provoke Theodosius to interrupt his amusements and devotion, or to
appear in person at the head of the Roman legions. But the troops, which
had been sent against Genseric, were hastily recalled from Sicily; the
garrisons, on the side of Persia, were exhausted; and a military force
was collected in Europe, formidable by their arms and numbers, if the
generals had understood the science of command, and the soldiers the
duty of obedience. The armies of the Eastern empire were vanquished in
three successive engagements; and the progress of Attila may be traced
by the fields of battle. The two former, on the banks of the Utus, and
under the walls of Marcianopolis, were fought in the extensive plains
between the Danube and Mount Hæmus. As the Romans were pressed by a
victorious enemy, they gradually, and unskilfully, retired towards the
Chersonesus of Thrace; and that narrow peninsula, the last extremity
of the land, was marked by their third, and irreparable, defeat. By the
destruction of this army, Attila acquired the indisputable possession
of the field. From the Hellespont to Thermopylæ, and the suburbs of
Constantinople, he ravaged, without resistance, and without mercy,
the provinces of Thrace and Macedonia. Heraclea and Hadrianople might,
perhaps, escape this dreadful irruption of the Huns; but the words, the
most expressive of total extirpation and erasure, are applied to the
calamities which they inflicted on seventy cities of the Eastern empire.
Theodosius, his court, and the unwarlike people, were protected by the
walls of Constantinople; but those walls had been shaken by a recent
earthquake, and the fall of fifty-eight towers had opened a large and
tremendous breach. The damage indeed was speedily repaired; but this
accident was aggravated by a superstitious fear, that Heaven itself
had delivered the Imperial city to the shepherds of Scythia, who were
strangers to the laws, the language, and the religion, of the Romans.

In all their invasions of the civilized empires of the South, the
Scythian shepherds have been uniformly actuated by a savage and
destructive spirit. The laws of war, that restrain the exercise of
national rapine and murder, are founded on two principles of substantial
interest: the knowledge of the permanent benefits which may be obtained
by a moderate use of conquest; and a just apprehension, lest the
desolation which we inflict on the enemy's country may be retaliated on
our own. But these considerations of hope and fear are almost unknown
in the pastoral state of nations. The Huns of Attila may, without
injustice, be compared to the Moguls and Tartars, before their primitive
manners were changed by religion and luxury; and the evidence of
Oriental history may reflect some light on the short and imperfect
annals of Rome. After the Moguls had subdued the northern provinces
of China, it was seriously proposed, not in the hour of victory
and passion, but in calm deliberate council, to exterminate all the
inhabitants of that populous country, that the vacant land might be
converted to the pasture of cattle. The firmness of a Chinese mandarin,
who insinuated some principles of rational policy into the mind of
Zingis, diverted him from the execution of this horrid design. But in
the cities of Asia, which yielded to the Moguls, the inhuman abuse of
the rights of war was exercised with a regular form of discipline, which
may, with equal reason, though not with equal authority, be imputed
to the victorious Huns. The inhabitants, who had submitted to their
discretion, were ordered to evacuate their houses, and to assemble
in some plain adjacent to the city; where a division was made of the
vanquished into three parts. The first class consisted of the soldiers
of the garrison, and of the young men capable of bearing arms; and their
fate was instantly decided they were either enlisted among the Moguls,
or they were massacred on the spot by the troops, who, with pointed
spears and bended bows, had formed a circle round the captive multitude.
The second class, composed of the young and beautiful women, of the
artificers of every rank and profession, and of the more wealthy or
honorable citizens, from whom a private ransom might be expected, was
distributed in equal or proportionable lots. The remainder, whose life
or death was alike useless to the conquerors, were permitted to return
to the city; which, in the mean while, had been stripped of its valuable
furniture; and a tax was imposed on those wretched inhabitants for the
indulgence of breathing their native air. Such was the behavior of the
Moguls, when they were not conscious of any extraordinary rigor. But the
most casual provocation, the slightest motive of caprice or convenience,
often provoked them to involve a whole people in an indiscriminate
massacre; and the ruin of some flourishing cities was executed with
such unrelenting perseverance, that, according to their own expression,
horses might run, without stumbling, over the ground where they had once
stood. The three great capitals of Khorasan, Maru, Neisabour, and Herat,
were destroyed by the armies of Zingis; and the exact account which
was taken of the slain amounted to four millions three hundred and
forty-seven thousand persons. Timur, or Tamerlane, was educated in a
less barbarous age, and in the profession of the Mahometan religion;
yet, if Attila equalled the hostile ravages of Tamerlane, either the
Tartar or the Hun might deserve the epithet of the Scourge of God.



Chapter XXXIV: Attila.--Part II.

It may be affirmed, with bolder assurance, that the Huns depopulated the
provinces of the empire, by the number of Roman subjects whom they
led away into captivity. In the hands of a wise legislator, such an
industrious colony might have contributed to diffuse through the deserts
of Scythia the rudiments of the useful and ornamental arts; but these
captives, who had been taken in war, were accidentally dispersed among
the hordes that obeyed the empire of Attila. The estimate of their
respective value was formed by the simple judgment of unenlightened and
unprejudiced Barbarians. Perhaps they might not understand the merit of
a theologian, profoundly skilled in the controversies of the Trinity and
the Incarnation; yet they respected the ministers of every religion and
the active zeal of the Christian missionaries, without approaching
the person or the palace of the monarch, successfully labored in the
propagation of the gospel. The pastoral tribes, who were ignorant of the
distinction of landed property, must have disregarded the use, as well
as the abuse, of civil jurisprudence; and the skill of an eloquent
lawyer could excite only their contempt or their abhorrence. The
perpetual intercourse of the Huns and the Goths had communicated the
familiar knowledge of the two national dialects; and the Barbarians were
ambitious of conversing in Latin, the military idiom even of the Eastern
empire. But they disdained the language and the sciences of the
Greeks; and the vain sophist, or grave philosopher, who had enjoyed
the flattering applause of the schools, was mortified to find that his
robust servant was a captive of more value and importance than himself.
The mechanic arts were encouraged and esteemed, as they tended to
satisfy the wants of the Huns. An architect in the service of Onegesius,
one of the favorites of Attila, was employed to construct a bath; but
this work was a rare example of private luxury; and the trades of the
smith, the carpenter, the armorer, were much more adapted to supply a
wandering people with the useful instruments of peace and war. But the
merit of the physician was received with universal favor and respect:
the Barbarians, who despised death, might be apprehensive of disease;
and the haughty conqueror trembled in the presence of a captive, to whom
he ascribed, perhaps, an imaginary power of prolonging or preserving his
life. The Huns might be provoked to insult the misery of their slaves,
over whom they exercised a despotic command; but their manners were
not susceptible of a refined system of oppression; and the efforts of
courage and diligence were often recompensed by the gift of freedom. The
historian Priscus, whose embassy is a source of curious instruction,
was accosted in the camp of Attila by a stranger, who saluted him in the
Greek language, but whose dress and figure displayed the appearance of a
wealthy Scythian. In the siege of Viminiacum, he had lost, according
to his own account, his fortune and liberty; he became the slave
of Onegesius; but his faithful services, against the Romans and the
Acatzires, had gradually raised him to the rank of the native Huns; to
whom he was attached by the domestic pledges of a new wife and several
children. The spoils of war had restored and improved his private
property; he was admitted to the table of his former lord; and the
apostate Greek blessed the hour of his captivity, since it had been
the introduction to a happy and independent state; which he held by the
honorable tenure of military service. This reflection naturally produced
a dispute on the advantages and defects of the Roman government, which
was severely arraigned by the apostate, and defended by Priscus in a
prolix and feeble declamation. The freedman of Onegesius exposed, in
true and lively colors, the vices of a declining empire, of which he
had so long been the victim; the cruel absurdity of the Roman princes,
unable to protect their subjects against the public enemy, unwilling to
trust them with arms for their own defence; the intolerable weight of
taxes, rendered still more oppressive by the intricate or arbitrary
modes of collection; the obscurity of numerous and contradictory laws;
the tedious and expensive forms of judicial proceedings; the partial
administration of justice; and the universal corruption, which increased
the influence of the rich, and aggravated the misfortunes of the poor.
A sentiment of patriotic sympathy was at length revived in the breast of
the fortunate exile; and he lamented, with a flood of tears, the guilt
or weakness of those magistrates who had perverted the wisest and most
salutary institutions.

The timid or selfish policy of the Western Romans had abandoned
the Eastern empire to the Huns. The loss of armies, and the want of
discipline or virtue, were not supplied by the personal character of the
monarch. Theodosius might still affect the style, as well as the title,
of _Invincible Augustus_; but he was reduced to solicit the clemency of
Attila, who imperiously dictated these harsh and humiliating conditions
of peace. I. The emperor of the East resigned, by an express or tacit
convention, an extensive and important territory, which stretched along
the southern banks of the Danube, from Singidunum, or Belgrade, as far
as Novæ, in the diocese of Thrace. The breadth was defined by the vague
computation of fifteen days' journey; but, from the proposal of Attila
to remove the situation of the national market, it soon appeared, that
he comprehended the ruined city of Naissus within the limits of his
dominions. II. The king of the Huns required and obtained, that his
tribute or subsidy should be augmented from seven hundred pounds of gold
to the annual sum of two thousand one hundred; and he stipulated
the immediate payment of six thousand pounds of gold, to defray the
expenses, or to expiate the guilt, of the war. One might imagine, that
such a demand, which scarcely equalled the measure of private wealth,
would have been readily discharged by the opulent empire of the East;
and the public distress affords a remarkable proof of the impoverished,
or at least of the disorderly, state of the finances. A large proportion
of the taxes extorted from the people was detained and intercepted
in their passage, though the foulest channels, to the treasury of
Constantinople. The revenue was dissipated by Theodosius and his
favorites in wasteful and profuse luxury; which was disguised by the
names of Imperial magnificence, or Christian charity. The immediate
supplies had been exhausted by the unforeseen necessity of military
preparations. A personal contribution, rigorously, but capriciously,
imposed on the members of the senatorian order, was the only expedient
that could disarm, without loss of time, the impatient avarice of
Attila; and the poverty of the nobles compelled them to adopt the
scandalous resource of exposing to public auction the jewels of their
wives, and the hereditary ornaments of their palaces. III. The king
of the Huns appears to have established, as a principle of national
jurisprudence, that he could never lose the property, which he had
once acquired, in the persons who had yielded either a voluntary,
or reluctant, submission to his authority. From this principle he
concluded, and the conclusions of Attila were irrevocable laws, that
the Huns, who had been taken prisoner in war, should be released without
delay, and without ransom; that every Roman captive, who had presumed
to escape, should purchase his right to freedom at the price of twelve
pieces of gold; and that all the Barbarians, who had deserted the
standard of Attila, should be restored, without any promise or
stipulation of pardon. In the execution of this cruel and ignominious
treaty, the Imperial officers were forced to massacre several loyal and
noble deserters, who refused to devote themselves to certain death;
and the Romans forfeited all reasonable claims to the friendship of any
Scythian people, by this public confession, that they were destitute
either of faith, or power, to protect the suppliant, who had embraced
the throne of Theodosius.

The firmness of a single town, so obscure, that, except on this
occasion, it has never been mentioned by any historian or geographer,
exposed the disgrace of the emperor and empire. Azimus, or Azimuntium, a
small city of Thrace on the Illyrian borders, had been distinguished by
the martial spirit of its youth, the skill and reputation of the leaders
whom they had chosen, and their daring exploits against the innumerable
host of the Barbarians. Instead of tamely expecting their approach, the
Azimuntines attacked, in frequent and successful sallies, the troops
of the Huns, who gradually declined the dangerous neighborhood, rescued
from their hands the spoil and the captives, and recruited their
domestic force by the voluntary association of fugitives and deserters.
After the conclusion of the treaty, Attila still menaced the empire with
implacable war, unless the Azimuntines were persuaded, or compelled,
to comply with the conditions which their sovereign had accepted. The
ministers of Theodosius confessed with shame, and with truth, that they
no longer possessed any authority over a society of men, who so
bravely asserted their natural independence; and the king of the Huns
condescended to negotiate an equal exchange with the citizens of Azimus.
They demanded the restitution of some shepherds, who, with their cattle,
had been accidentally surprised. A strict, though fruitless, inquiry was
allowed: but the Huns were obliged to swear, that they did not detain
any prisoners belonging to the city, before they could recover two
surviving countrymen, whom the Azimuntines had reserved as pledges for
the safety of their lost companions. Attila, on his side, was satisfied,
and deceived, by their solemn asseveration, that the rest of the
captives had been put to the sword; and that it was their constant
practice, immediately to dismiss the Romans and the deserters, who had
obtained the security of the public faith. This prudent and officious
dissimulation may be condemned, or excused, by the casuists, as they
incline to the rigid decree of St. Augustin, or to the milder sentiment
of St. Jerom and St. Chrysostom: but every soldier, every statesman,
must acknowledge, that, if the race of the Azimuntines had been
encouraged and multiplied, the Barbarians would have ceased to trample
on the majesty of the empire.

It would have been strange, indeed, if Theodosius had purchased, by the
loss of honor, a secure and solid tranquillity, or if his tameness had
not invited the repetition of injuries. The Byzantine court was insulted
by five or six successive embassies; and the ministers of Attila were
uniformly instructed to press the tardy or imperfect execution of the
last treaty; to produce the names of fugitives and deserters, who were
still protected by the empire; and to declare, with seeming moderation,
that, unless their sovereign obtained complete and immediate
satisfaction, it would be impossible for him, were it even his wish, to
check the resentment of his warlike tribes. Besides the motives of pride
and interest, which might prompt the king of the Huns to continue this
train of negotiation, he was influenced by the less honorable view of
enriching his favorites at the expense of his enemies. The Imperial
treasury was exhausted, to procure the friendly offices of the
ambassadors and their principal attendants, whose favorable report might
conduce to the maintenance of peace. The Barbarian monarch was flattered
by the liberal reception of his ministers; he computed, with pleasure,
the value and splendor of their gifts, rigorously exacted the
performance of every promise which would contribute to their private
emolument, and treated as an important business of state the marriage of
his secretary Constantius. That Gallic adventurer, who was recommended
by Ætius to the king of the Huns, had engaged his service to the
ministers of Constantinople, for the stipulated reward of a wealthy and
noble wife; and the daughter of Count Saturninus was chosen to discharge
the obligations of her country. The reluctance of the victim, some
domestic troubles, and the unjust confiscation of her fortune, cooled
the ardor of her interested lover; but he still demanded, in the name
of Attila, an equivalent alliance; and, after many ambiguous delays and
excuses, the Byzantine court was compelled to sacrifice to this insolent
stranger the widow of Armatius, whose birth, opulence, and beauty,
placed her in the most illustrious rank of the Roman matrons. For these
importunate and oppressive embassies, Attila claimed a suitable return:
he weighed, with suspicious pride, the character and station of the
Imperial envoys; but he condescended to promise that he would advance as
far as Sardica to receive any ministers who had been invested with the
consular dignity. The council of Theodosius eluded this proposal, by
representing the desolate and ruined condition of Sardica, and even
ventured to insinuate that every officer of the army or household was
qualified to treat with the most powerful princes of Scythia. Maximin,
a respectable courtier, whose abilities had been long exercised in civil
and military employments, accepted, with reluctance, the troublesome,
and perhaps dangerous, commission of reconciling the angry spirit of
the king of the Huns. His friend, the historian Priscus, embraced the
opportunity of observing the Barbarian hero in the peaceful and domestic
scenes of life: but the secret of the embassy, a fatal and guilty
secret, was intrusted only to the interpreter Vigilius. The two last
ambassadors of the Huns, Orestes, a noble subject of the Pannonian
province, and Edecon, a valiant chieftain of the tribe of the Scyrri,
returned at the same time from Constantinople to the royal camp. Their
obscure names were afterwards illustrated by the extraordinary fortune
and the contrast of their sons: the two servants of Attila became
the fathers of the last Roman emperor of the West, and of the first
Barbarian king of Italy.

The ambassadors, who were followed by a numerous train of men and
horses, made their first halt at Sardica, at the distance of three
hundred and fifty miles, or thirteen days' journey, from Constantinople.
As the remains of Sardica were still included within the limits of
the empire, it was incumbent on the Romans to exercise the duties of
hospitality. They provided, with the assistance of the provincials, a
sufficient number of sheep and oxen, and invited the Huns to a splendid,
or at least, a plentiful supper. But the harmony of the entertainment
was soon disturbed by mutual prejudice and indiscretion. The greatness
of the emperor and the empire was warmly maintained by their ministers;
the Huns, with equal ardor, asserted the superiority of their victorious
monarch: the dispute was inflamed by the rash and unseasonable flattery
of Vigilius, who passionately rejected the comparison of a mere mortal
with the divine Theodosius; and it was with extreme difficulty that
Maximin and Priscus were able to divert the conversation, or to soothe
the angry minds, of the Barbarians. When they rose from table, the
Imperial ambassador presented Edecon and Orestes with rich gifts of silk
robes and Indian pearls, which they thankfully accepted. Yet Orestes
could not forbear insinuating that he had not always been treated with
such respect and liberality: and the offensive distinction which
was implied, between his civil office and the hereditary rank of his
colleague seems to have made Edecon a doubtful friend, and Orestes an
irreconcilable enemy. After this entertainment, they travelled about one
hundred miles from Sardica to Naissus. That flourishing city, which has
given birth to the great Constantine, was levelled with the ground: the
inhabitants were destroyed or dispersed; and the appearance of some
sick persons, who were still permitted to exist among the ruins of
the churches, served only to increase the horror of the prospect. The
surface of the country was covered with the bones of the slain; and the
ambassadors, who directed their course to the north-west, were obliged
to pass the hills of modern Servia, before they descended into the flat
and marshy grounds which are terminated by the Danube. The Huns were
masters of the great river: their navigation was performed in large
canoes, hollowed out of the trunk of a single tree; the ministers of
Theodosius were safely landed on the opposite bank; and their Barbarian
associates immediately hastened to the camp of Attila, which was equally
prepared for the amusements of hunting or of war. No sooner had Maximin
advanced about two miles from the Danube, than he began to experience
the fastidious insolence of the conqueror. He was sternly forbid to
pitch his tents in a pleasant valley, lest he should infringe the
distant awe that was due to the royal mansion. The ministers of Attila
pressed them to communicate the business, and the instructions, which he
reserved for the ear of their sovereign When Maximin temperately urged
the contrary practice of nations, he was still more confounded to find
that the resolutions of the Sacred Consistory, those secrets (says
Priscus) which should not be revealed to the gods themselves, had been
treacherously disclosed to the public enemy. On his refusal to comply
with such ignominious terms, the Imperial envoy was commanded instantly
to depart; the order was recalled; it was again repeated; and the Huns
renewed their ineffectual attempts to subdue the patient firmness
of Maximin. At length, by the intercession of Scotta, the brother of
Onegesius, whose friendship had been purchased by a liberal gift, he was
admitted to the royal presence; but, in stead of obtaining a decisive
answer, he was compelled to undertake a remote journey towards the
north, that Attila might enjoy the proud satisfaction of receiving, in
the same camp, the ambassadors of the Eastern and Western empires. His
journey was regulated by the guides, who obliged him to halt, to hasten
his march, or to deviate from the common road, as it best suited
the convenience of the king. The Romans, who traversed the plains of
Hungary, suppose that they passed _several_ navigable rivers, either
in canoes or portable boats; but there is reason to suspect that the
winding stream of the Teyss, or Tibiscus, might present itself in
different places under different names. From the contiguous villages
they received a plentiful and regular supply of provisions; mead instead
of wine, millet in the place of bread, and a certain liquor named
_camus_, which according to the report of Priscus, was distilled from
barley. Such fare might appear coarse and indelicate to men who had
tasted the luxury of Constantinople; but, in their accidental distress,
they were relieved by the gentleness and hospitality of the same
Barbarians, so terrible and so merciless in war. The ambassadors had
encamped on the edge of a large morass. A violent tempest of wind and
rain, of thunder and lightning, overturned their tents, immersed their
baggage and furniture in the water, and scattered their retinue, who
wandered in the darkness of the night, uncertain of their road, and
apprehensive of some unknown danger, till they awakened by their cries
the inhabitants of a neighboring village, the property of the widow of
Bleda. A bright illumination, and, in a few moments, a comfortable fire
of reeds, was kindled by their officious benevolence; the wants, and
even the desires, of the Romans were liberally satisfied; and they seem
to have been embarrassed by the singular politeness of Bleda's widow,
who added to her other favors the gift, or at least the loan, of a
sufficient number of beautiful and obsequious damsels. The sunshine
of the succeeding day was dedicated to repose, to collect and dry the
baggage, and to the refreshment of the men and horses: but, in the
evening, before they pursued their journey, the ambassadors expressed
their gratitude to the bounteous lady of the village, by a very
acceptable present of silver cups, red fleeces, dried fruits, and Indian
pepper. Soon after this adventure, they rejoined the march of Attila,
from whom they had been separated about six days, and slowly proceeded
to the capital of an empire, which did not contain, in the space of
several thousand miles, a single city.

As far as we may ascertain the vague and obscure geography of Priscus,
this capital appears to have been seated between the Danube, the Teyss,
and the Carpathian hills, in the plains of Upper Hungary, and most
probably in the neighborhood of Jezberin, Agria, or Tokay. In its origin
it could be no more than an accidental camp, which, by the long and
frequent residence of Attila, had insensibly swelled into a huge
village, for the reception of his court, of the troops who followed his
person, and of the various multitude of idle or industrious slaves and
retainers. The baths, constructed by Onegesius, were the only edifice of
stone; the materials had been transported from Pannonia; and since the
adjacent country was destitute even of large timber, it may be presumed,
that the meaner habitations of the royal village consisted of straw, or
mud, or of canvass. The wooden houses of the more illustrious Huns were
built and adorned with rude magnificence, according to the rank,
the fortune, or the taste of the proprietors. They seem to have been
distributed with some degree of order and symmetry; and each spot became
more honorable as it approached the person of the sovereign. The palace
of Attila, which surpassed all other houses in his dominions, was built
entirely of wood, and covered an ample space of ground. The outward
enclosure was a lofty wall, or palisade, of smooth square timber,
intersected with high towers, but intended rather for ornament than
defence. This wall, which seems to have encircled the declivity of a
hill, comprehended a great variety of wooden edifices, adapted to the
uses of royalty. A separate house was assigned to each of the numerous
wives of Attila; and, instead of the rigid and illiberal confinement
imposed by Asiatic jealousy they politely admitted the Roman ambassadors
to their presence, their table, and even to the freedom of an innocent
embrace. When Maximin offered his presents to Cerca, the principal
queen, he admired the singular architecture on her mansion, the height
of the round columns, the size and beauty of the wood, which was
curiously shaped or turned or polished or carved; and his attentive eye
was able to discover some taste in the ornaments and some regularity in
the proportions. After passing through the guards, who watched before
the gate, the ambassadors were introduced into the private apartment of
Cerca. The wife of Attila received their visit sitting, or rather lying,
on a soft couch; the floor was covered with a carpet; the domestics
formed a circle round the queen; and her damsels, seated on the ground,
were employed in working the variegated embroidery which adorned the
dress of the Barbaric warriors. The Huns were ambitious of displaying
those riches which were the fruit and evidence of their victories: the
trappings of their horses, their swords, and even their shoes, were
studded with gold and precious stones; and their tables were profusely
spread with plates, and goblets, and vases of gold and silver, which
had been fashioned by the labor of Grecian artists. The monarch alone
assumed the superior pride of still adhering to the simplicity of his
Scythian ancestors. The dress of Attila, his arms, and the furniture
of his horse, were plain, without ornament, and of a single color. The
royal table was served in wooden cups and platters; flesh was his only
food; and the conqueror of the North never tasted the luxury of bread.

When Attila first gave audience to the Roman ambassadors on the banks
of the Danube, his tent was encompassed with a formidable guard. The
monarch himself was seated in a wooden chair. His stern countenance,
angry gestures, and impatient tone, astonished the firmness of Maximin;
but Vigilius had more reason to tremble, since he distinctly understood
the menace, that if Attila did not respect the law of nations, he would
nail the deceitful interpreter to the cross, and leave his body to the
vultures. The Barbarian condescended, by producing an accurate list,
to expose the bold falsehood of Vigilius, who had affirmed that no more
than seventeen deserters could be found. But he arrogantly declared,
that he apprehended only the disgrace of contending with his fugitive
slaves; since he despised their impotent efforts to defend the provinces
which Theodosius had intrusted to their arms: "For what fortress,"
(added Attila,) "what city, in the wide extent of the Roman empire, can
hope to exist, secure and impregnable, if it is our pleasure that
it should be erased from the earth?" He dismissed, however, the
interpreter, who returned to Constantinople with his peremptory demand
of more complete restitution, and a more splendid embassy. His anger
gradually subsided, and his domestic satisfaction in a marriage which
he celebrated on the road with the daughter of Eslam, might perhaps
contribute to mollify the native fierceness of his temper. The entrance
of Attila into the royal village was marked by a very singular ceremony.
A numerous troop of women came out to meet their hero and their king.
They marched before him, distributed into long and regular files; the
intervals between the files were filled by white veils of thin linen,
which the women on either side bore aloft in their hands, and which
formed a canopy for a chorus of young virgins, who chanted hymns and
songs in the Scythian language. The wife of his favorite Onegesius,
with a train of female attendants, saluted Attila at the door of her own
house, on his way to the palace; and offered, according to the custom of
the country, her respectful homage, by entreating him to taste the
wine and meat which she had prepared for his reception. As soon as
the monarch had graciously accepted her hospitable gift, his domestics
lifted a small silver table to a convenient height, as he sat on
horseback; and Attila, when he had touched the goblet with his lips,
again saluted the wife of Onegesius, and continued his march. During
his residence at the seat of empire, his hours were not wasted in the
recluse idleness of a seraglio; and the king of the Huns could maintain
his superior dignity, without concealing his person from the public
view. He frequently assembled his council, and gave audience to the
ambassadors of the nations; and his people might appeal to the supreme
tribunal, which he held at stated times, and, according to the Eastern
custom, before the principal gate of his wooden palace. The Romans, both
of the East and of the West, were twice invited to the banquets, where
Attila feasted with the princes and nobles of Scythia. Maximin and his
colleagues were stopped on the threshold, till they had made a devout
libation to the health and prosperity of the king of the Huns; and were
conducted, after this ceremony, to their respective seats in a spacious
hall. The royal table and couch, covered with carpets and fine linen,
was raised by several steps in the midst of the hall; and a son, an
uncle, or perhaps a favorite king, were admitted to share the simple
and homely repast of Attila. Two lines of small tables, each of which
contained three or four guests, were ranged in order on either hand;
the right was esteemed the most honorable, but the Romans ingenuously
confess, that they were placed on the left; and that Beric, an
unknown chieftain, most probably of the Gothic race, preceded the
representatives of Theodosius and Valentinian. The Barbarian monarch
received from his cup-bearer a goblet filled with wine, and courteously
drank to the health of the most distinguished guest; who rose from his
seat, and expressed, in the same manner, his loyal and respectful vows.
This ceremony was successively performed for all, or at least for the
illustrious persons of the assembly; and a considerable time must have
been consumed, since it was thrice repeated as each course or service
was placed on the table. But the wine still remained after the meat had
been removed; and the Huns continued to indulge their intemperance long
after the sober and decent ambassadors of the two empires had withdrawn
themselves from the nocturnal banquet. Yet before they retired, they
enjoyed a singular opportunity of observing the manners of the nation
in their convivial amusements. Two Scythians stood before the couch of
Attila, and recited the verses which they had composed, to celebrate his
valor and his victories. A profound silence prevailed in the hall; and
the attention of the guests was captivated by the vocal harmony, which
revived and perpetuated the memory of their own exploits; a martial
ardor flashed from the eyes of the warriors, who were impatient for
battle; and the tears of the old men expressed their generous despair,
that they could no longer partake the danger and glory of the field.
This entertainment, which might be considered as a school of military
virtue, was succeeded by a farce, that debased the dignity of human
nature. A Moorish and a Scythian buffoon successively excited the
mirth of the rude spectators, by their deformed figure, ridiculous
dress, antic gestures, absurd speeches, and the strange, unintelligible
confusion of the Latin, the Gothic, and the Hunnic languages; and the
hall resounded with loud and licentious peals of laughter. In the midst
of this intemperate riot, Attila alone, without a change of countenance,
maintained his steadfast and inflexible gravity; which was never
relaxed, except on the entrance of Irnac, the youngest of his sons: he
embraced the boy with a smile of paternal tenderness, gently pinched him
by the cheek, and betrayed a partial affection, which was justified by
the assurance of his prophets, that Irnac would be the future support of
his family and empire. Two days afterwards, the ambassadors received a
second invitation; and they had reason to praise the politeness, as
well as the hospitality, of Attila. The king of the Huns held a long and
familiar conversation with Maximin; but his civility was interrupted
by rude expressions and haughty reproaches; and he was provoked, by a
motive of interest, to support, with unbecoming zeal, the private claims
of his secretary Constantius. "The emperor" (said Attila) "has long
promised him a rich wife: Constantius must not be disappointed; nor
should a Roman emperor deserve the name of liar." On the third day, the
ambassadors were dismissed; the freedom of several captives was granted,
for a moderate ransom, to their pressing entreaties; and, besides the
royal presents, they were permitted to accept from each of the Scythian
nobles the honorable and useful gift of a horse. Maximin returned,
by the same road, to Constantinople; and though he was involved in
an accidental dispute with Beric, the new ambassador of Attila, he
flattered himself that he had contributed, by the laborious journey, to
confirm the peace and alliance of the two nations.



Chapter XXXIV: Attila.--Part III.

But the Roman ambassador was ignorant of the treacherous design, which
had been concealed under the mask of the public faith. The surprise
and satisfaction of Edecon, when he contemplated the splendor of
Constantinople, had encouraged the interpreter Vigilius to procure for
him a secret interview with the eunuch Chrysaphius, who governed the
emperor and the empire. After some previous conversation, and a mutual
oath of secrecy, the eunuch, who had not, from his own feelings or
experience, imbibed any exalted notions of ministerial virtue, ventured
to propose the death of Attila, as an important service, by which Edecon
might deserve a liberal share of the wealth and luxury which he
admired. The ambassador of the Huns listened to the tempting offer; and
professed, with apparent zeal, his ability, as well as readiness, to
execute the bloody deed; the design was communicated to the master of
the offices, and the devout Theodosius consented to the assassination of
his invincible enemy. But this perfidious conspiracy was defeated by
the dissimulation, or the repentance, of Edecon; and though he might
exaggerate his inward abhorrence for the treason, which he seemed to
approve, he dexterously assumed the merit of an early and voluntary
confession. If we _now_ review the embassy of Maximin, and the behavior
of Attila, we must applaud the Barbarian, who respected the laws of
hospitality, and generously entertained and dismissed the minister of a
prince who had conspired against his life. But the rashness of Vigilius
will appear still more extraordinary, since he returned, conscious of
his guilt and danger, to the royal camp, accompanied by his son, and
carrying with him a weighty purse of gold, which the favorite eunuch had
furnished, to satisfy the demands of Edecon, and to corrupt the fidelity
of the guards. The interpreter was instantly seized, and dragged before
the tribunal of Attila, where he asserted his innocence with specious
firmness, till the threat of inflicting instant death on his son
extorted from him a sincere discovery of the criminal transaction. Under
the name of ransom, or confiscation, the rapacious king of the Huns
accepted two hundred pounds of gold for the life of a traitor, whom he
disdained to punish. He pointed his just indignation against a nobler
object. His ambassadors, Eslaw and Orestes, were immediately despatched
to Constantinople, with a peremptory instruction, which it was much
safer for them to execute than to disobey. They boldly entered the
Imperial presence, with the fatal purse hanging down from the neck of
Orestes; who interrogated the eunuch Chrysaphius, as he stood beside the
throne, whether he recognized the evidence of his guilt. But the office
of reproof was reserved for the superior dignity of his colleague Eslaw,
who gravely addressed the emperor of the East in the following words:
"Theodosius is the son of an illustrious and respectable parent: Attila
likewise is descended from a noble race; and _he_ has supported, by his
actions, the dignity which he inherited from his father Mundzuk. But
Theodosius has forfeited his paternal honors, and, by consenting to
pay tribute has degraded himself to the condition of a slave. It is
therefore just, that he should reverence the man whom fortune and merit
have placed above him; instead of attempting, like a wicked slave,
clandestinely to conspire against his master." The son of Arcadius, who
was accustomed only to the voice of flattery, heard with astonishment
the severe language of truth: he blushed and trembled; nor did he
presume directly to refuse the head of Chrysaphius, which Eslaw and
Orestes were instructed to demand. A solemn embassy, armed with full
powers and magnificent gifts, was hastily sent to deprecate the wrath
of Attila; and his pride was gratified by the choice of Nomius and
Anatolius, two ministers of consular or patrician rank, of whom the one
was great treasurer, and the other was master-general of the armies of
the East. He condescended to meet these ambassadors on the banks of
the River Drenco; and though he at first affected a stern and haughty
demeanor, his anger was insensibly mollified by their eloquence and
liberality. He condescended to pardon the emperor, the eunuch, and
the interpreter; bound himself by an oath to observe the conditions of
peace; released a great number of captives; abandoned the fugitives and
deserters to their fate; and resigned a large territory, to the south
of the Danube, which he had already exhausted of its wealth and
inhabitants. But this treaty was purchased at an expense which might
have supported a vigorous and successful war; and the subjects of
Theodosius were compelled to redeem the safety of a worthless favorite
by oppressive taxes, which they would more cheerfully have paid for his
destruction.

The emperor Theodosius did not long survive the most humiliating
circumstance of an inglorious life. As he was riding, or hunting, in the
neighborhood of Constantinople, he was thrown from his horse into the
River Lycus: the spine of the back was injured by the fall; and he
expired some days afterwards, in the fiftieth year of his age, and the
forty-third of his reign. His sister Pulcheria, whose authority had been
controlled both in civil and ecclesiastical affairs by the pernicious
influence of the eunuchs, was unanimously proclaimed Empress of the
East; and the Romans, for the first time, submitted to a female reign.
No sooner had Pulcheria ascended the throne, than she indulged her own
and the public resentment, by an act of popular justice. Without any
legal trial, the eunuch Chrysaphius was executed before the gates of the
city; and the immense riches which had been accumulated by the rapacious
favorite, served only to hasten and to justify his punishment. Amidst
the general acclamations of the clergy and people, the empress did not
forget the prejudice and disadvantage to which her sex was exposed;
and she wisely resolved to prevent their murmurs by the choice of
a colleague, who would always respect the superior rank and virgin
chastity of his wife. She gave her hand to Marcian, a senator, about
sixty years of age; and the nominal husband of Pulcheria was solemnly
invested with the Imperial purple. The zeal which he displayed for the
orthodox creed, as it was established by the council of Chalcedon, would
alone have inspired the grateful eloquence of the Catholics. But the
behavior of Marcian in a private life, and afterwards on the throne,
may support a more rational belief, that he was qualified to restore and
invigorate an empire, which had been almost dissolved by the successive
weakness of two hereditary monarchs. He was born in Thrace, and educated
to the profession of arms; but Marcian's youth had been severely
exercised by poverty and misfortune, since his only resource, when he
first arrived at Constantinople, consisted in two hundred pieces of
gold, which he had borrowed of a friend. He passed nineteen years in the
domestic and military service of Aspar, and his son Ardaburius; followed
those powerful generals to the Persian and African wars; and obtained,
by their influence, the honorable rank of tribune and senator. His
mild disposition, and useful talents, without alarming the jealousy,
recommended Marcian to the esteem and favor of his patrons; he had
seen, perhaps he had felt, the abuses of a venal and oppressive
administration; and his own example gave weight and energy to the laws,
which he promulgated for the reformation of manners.



Chapter XXXV: Invasion By Attila.--Part I.

     Invasion Of Gaul By Attila.--He Is Repulsed By Ætius And The
     Visigoths.--Attila Invades And Evacuates Italy.--The Deaths
     Of Attila, Ætius, And Valentinian The Third.

It was the opinion of Marcian, that war should be avoided, as long as
it is possible to preserve a secure and honorable peace; but it was
likewise his opinion, that peace cannot be honorable or secure, if
the sovereign betrays a pusillanimous aversion to war. This temperate
courage dictated his reply to the demands of Attila, who insolently
pressed the payment of the annual tribute. The emperor signified to the
Barbarians, that they must no longer insult the majesty of Rome by the
mention of a tribute; that he was disposed to reward, with becoming
liberality, the faithful friendship of his allies; but that, if they
presumed to violate the public peace, they should feel that he possessed
troops, and arms, and resolution, to repel their attacks. The same
language, even in the camp of the Huns, was used by his ambassador
Apollonius, whose bold refusal to deliver the presents, till he had been
admitted to a personal interview, displayed a sense of dignity, and a
contempt of danger, which Attila was not prepared to expect from the
degenerate Romans. He threatened to chastise the rash successor
of Theodosius; but he hesitated whether he should first direct his
invincible arms against the Eastern or the Western empire. While mankind
awaited his decision with awful suspense, he sent an equal defiance to
the courts of Ravenna and Constantinople; and his ministers saluted the
two emperors with the same haughty declaration. "Attila, _my_ lord,
and _thy_ lord, commands thee to provide a palace for his immediate
reception." But as the Barbarian despised, or affected to despise, the
Romans of the East, whom he had so often vanquished, he soon declared
his resolution of suspending the easy conquest, till he had achieved a
more glorious and important enterprise. In the memorable invasions of
Gaul and Italy, the Huns were naturally attracted by the wealth
and fertility of those provinces; but the particular motives and
provocations of Attila can only be explained by the state of the Western
empire under the reign of Valentinian, or, to speak more correctly,
under the administration of Ætius.

After the death of his rival Boniface, Ætius had prudently retired to
the tents of the Huns; and he was indebted to their alliance for his
safety and his restoration. Instead of the suppliant language of a
guilty exile, he solicited his pardon at the head of sixty thousand
Barbarians; and the empress Placidia confessed, by a feeble resistance,
that the condescension, which might have been ascribed to clemency,
was the effect of weakness or fear. She delivered herself, her son
Valentinian, and the Western empire, into the hands of an insolent
subject; nor could Placidia protect the son-in-law of Boniface, the
virtuous and faithful Sebastian, from the implacable persecution which
urged him from one kingdom to another, till he miserably perished in
the service of the Vandals. The fortunate Ætius, who was immediately
promoted to the rank of patrician, and thrice invested with the honors
of the consulship, assumed, with the title of master of the cavalry and
infantry, the whole military power of the state; and he is sometimes
styled, by contemporary writers, the duke, or general, of the Romans of
the West. His prudence, rather than his virtue, engaged him to leave the
grandson of Theodosius in the possession of the purple; and Valentinian
was permitted to enjoy the peace and luxury of Italy, while the
patrician appeared in the glorious light of a hero and a patriot, who
supported near twenty years the ruins of the Western empire. The Gothic
historian ingenuously confesses, that Ætius was born for the salvation
of the Roman republic; and the following portrait, though it is drawn in
the fairest colors, must be allowed to contain a much larger proportion
of truth than of flattery. "His mother was a wealthy and noble
Italian, and his father Gaudentius, who held a distinguished rank in
the province of Scythia, gradually rose from the station of a military
domestic, to the dignity of master of the cavalry. Their son, who was
enrolled almost in his infancy in the guards, was given as a hostage,
first to Alaric, and afterwards to the Huns; and he successively
obtained the civil and military honors of the palace, for which he was
equally qualified by superior merit. The graceful figure of Ætius was
not above the middle stature; but his manly limbs were admirably formed
for strength, beauty, and agility; and he excelled in the martial
exercises of managing a horse, drawing the bow, and darting the javelin.
He could patiently endure the want of food, or of sleep; and his mind
and body were alike capable of the most laborious efforts. He possessed
the genuine courage that can despise not only dangers, but injuries: and
it was impossible either to corrupt, or deceive, or intimidate the firm
integrity of his soul." The Barbarians, who had seated themselves in the
Western provinces, were insensibly taught to respect the faith and
valor of the patrician Ætius. He soothed their passions, consulted their
prejudices, balanced their interests, and checked their ambition. A
seasonable treaty, which he concluded with Genseric, protected Italy
from the depredations of the Vandals; the independent Britons implored
and acknowledged his salutary aid; the Imperial authority was restored
and maintained in Gaul and Spain; and he compelled the Franks and
the Suevi, whom he had vanquished in the field, to become the useful
confederates of the republic.

From a principle of interest, as well as gratitude, Ætius assiduously
cultivated the alliance of the Huns. While he resided in their tents as
a hostage, or an exile, he had familiarly conversed with Attila himself,
the nephew of his benefactor; and the two famous antagonists appeared
to have been connected by a personal and military friendship, which
they afterwards confirmed by mutual gifts, frequent embassies, and the
education of Carpilio, the son of Ætius, in the camp of Attila. By
the specious professions of gratitude and voluntary attachment, the
patrician might disguise his apprehensions of the Scythian conqueror,
who pressed the two empires with his innumerable armies. His demands
were obeyed or eluded. When he claimed the spoils of a vanquished city,
some vases of gold, which had been fraudulently embezzled, the civil and
military governors of Noricum were immediately despatched to satisfy his
complaints: and it is evident, from their conversation with Maximin and
Priscus, in the royal village, that the valor and prudence of Ætius had
not saved the Western Romans from the common ignominy of tribute. Yet
his dexterous policy prolonged the advantages of a salutary peace; and a
numerous army of Huns and Alani, whom he had attached to his person, was
employed in the defence of Gaul. Two colonies of these Barbarians were
judiciously fixed in the territories of Valens and Orleans; and their
active cavalry secured the important passages of the Rhone and of
the Loire. These savage allies were not indeed less formidable to the
subjects than to the enemies of Rome. Their original settlement was
enforced with the licentious violence of conquest; and the province
through which they marched was exposed to all the calamities of a
hostile invasion. Strangers to the emperor or the republic, the Alani of
Gaul was devoted to the ambition of Ætius, and though he might suspect,
that, in a contest with Attila himself, they would revolt to the
standard of their national king, the patrician labored to restrain,
rather than to excite, their zeal and resentment against the Goths, the
Burgundians, and the Franks.

The kingdom established by the Visigoths in the southern provinces of
Gaul, had gradually acquired strength and maturity; and the conduct
of those ambitious Barbarians, either in peace or war, engaged the
perpetual vigilance of Ætius. After the death of Wallia, the Gothic
sceptre devolved to Theodoric, the son of the great Alaric; and his
prosperous reign of more than thirty years, over a turbulent people, may
be allowed to prove, that his prudence was supported by uncommon vigor,
both of mind and body. Impatient of his narrow limits, Theodoric aspired
to the possession of Arles, the wealthy seat of government and commerce;
but the city was saved by the timely approach of Ætius; and the
Gothic king, who had raised the siege with some loss and disgrace, was
persuaded, for an adequate subsidy, to divert the martial valor of his
subjects in a Spanish war. Yet Theodoric still watched, and eagerly
seized, the favorable moment of renewing his hostile attempts. The
Goths besieged Narbonne, while the Belgic provinces were invaded by the
Burgundians; and the public safety was threatened on every side by the
apparent union of the enemies of Rome. On every side, the activity
of Ætius, and his Scythian cavalry, opposed a firm and successful
resistance. Twenty thousand Burgundians were slain in battle; and the
remains of the nation humbly accepted a dependent seat in the mountains
of Savoy. The walls of Narbonne had been shaken by the battering
engines, and the inhabitants had endured the last extremities of famine,
when Count Litorius, approaching in silence, and directing each
horseman to carry behind him two sacks of flour, cut his way through the
intrenchments of the besiegers. The siege was immediately raised; and
the more decisive victory, which is ascribed to the personal conduct of
Ætius himself, was marked with the blood of eight thousand Goths. But in
the absence of the patrician, who was hastily summoned to Italy by some
public or private interest, Count Litorius succeeded to the command; and
his presumption soon discovered that far different talents are required
to lead a wing of cavalry, or to direct the operations of an important
war. At the head of an army of Huns, he rashly advanced to the gates of
Thoulouse, full of careless contempt for an enemy whom his misfortunes
had rendered prudent, and his situation made desperate. The predictions
of the augurs had inspired Litorius with the profane confidence that
he should enter the Gothic capital in triumph; and the trust which
he reposed in his Pagan allies, encouraged him to reject the fair
conditions of peace, which were repeatedly proposed by the bishops in
the name of Theodoric. The king of the Goths exhibited in his distress
the edifying contrast of Christian piety and moderation; nor did he
lay aside his sackcloth and ashes till he was prepared to arm for the
combat. His soldiers, animated with martial and religious enthusiasm,
assaulted the camp of Litorius. The conflict was obstinate; the
slaughter was mutual. The Roman general, after a total defeat, which
could be imputed only to his unskilful rashness, was actually led
through the streets of Thoulouse, not in his own, but in a hostile
triumph; and the misery which he experienced, in a long and ignominious
captivity, excited the compassion of the Barbarians themselves. Such a
loss, in a country whose spirit and finances were long since exhausted,
could not easily be repaired; and the Goths, assuming, in their turn,
the sentiments of ambition and revenge, would have planted their
victorious standards on the banks of the Rhone, if the presence of Ætius
had not restored strength and discipline to the Romans. The two armies
expected the signal of a decisive action; but the generals, who were
conscious of each other's force, and doubtful of their own superiority,
prudently sheathed their swords in the field of battle; and their
reconciliation was permanent and sincere. Theodoric, king of the
Visigoths, appears to have deserved the love of his subjects, the
confidence of his allies, and the esteem of mankind. His throne was
surrounded by six valiant sons, who were educated with equal care in
the exercises of the Barbarian camp, and in those of the Gallic schools:
from the study of the Roman jurisprudence, they acquired the theory,
at least, of law and justice; and the harmonious sense of Virgil
contributed to soften the asperity of their native manners. The two
daughters of the Gothic king were given in marriage to the eldest sons
of the kings of the Suevi and of the Vandals, who reigned in Spain and
Africa: but these illustrious alliances were pregnant with guilt
and discord. The queen of the Suevi bewailed the death of a husband
inhumanly massacred by her brother. The princess of the Vandals was
the victim of a jealous tyrant, whom she called her father. The cruel
Genseric suspected that his son's wife had conspired to poison him; the
supposed crime was punished by the amputation of her nose and ears;
and the unhappy daughter of Theodoric was ignominiously returned to the
court of Thoulouse in that deformed and mutilated condition. This horrid
act, which must seem incredible to a civilized age drew tears from every
spectator; but Theodoric was urged, by the feelings of a parent and a
king, to revenge such irreparable injuries. The Imperial ministers, who
always cherished the discord of the Barbarians, would have supplied the
Goths with arms, and ships, and treasures, for the African war; and
the cruelty of Genseric might have been fatal to himself, if the artful
Vandal had not armed, in his cause, the formidable power of the Huns.
His rich gifts and pressing solicitations inflamed the ambition of
Attila; and the designs of Ætius and Theodoric were prevented by the
invasion of Gaul.

The Franks, whose monarchy was still confined to the neighborhood of the
Lower Rhine, had wisely established the right of hereditary succession
in the noble family of the Merovingians. These princes were elevated on
a buckler, the symbol of military command; and the royal fashion of
long hair was the ensign of their birth and dignity. Their flaxen locks,
which they combed and dressed with singular care, hung down in flowing
ringlets on their back and shoulders; while the rest of the nation were
obliged, either by law or custom, to shave the hinder part of their
head, to comb their hair over the forehead, and to content themselves
with the ornament of two small whiskers. The lofty stature of the
Franks, and their blue eyes, denoted a Germanic origin; their close
apparel accurately expressed the figure of their limbs; a weighty sword
was suspended from a broad belt; their bodies were protected by a large
shield; and these warlike Barbarians were trained, from their earliest
youth, to run, to leap, to swim; to dart the javelin, or battle-axe,
with unerring aim; to advance, without hesitation, against a superior
enemy; and to maintain, either in life or death, the invincible
reputation of their ancestors. Clodion, the first of their long-haired
kings, whose name and actions are mentioned in authentic history, held
his residence at Dispargum, a village or fortress, whose place may be
assigned between Louvain and Brussels. From the report of his spies,
the king of the Franks was informed, that the defenceless state of the
second Belgic must yield, on the slightest attack, to the valor of his
subjects. He boldly penetrated through the thickets and morasses of the
Carbonarian forest; occupied Tournay and Cambray, the only cities which
existed in the fifth century, and extended his conquests as far as the
River Somme, over a desolate country, whose cultivation and populousness
are the effects of more recent industry. While Clodion lay encamped
in the plains of Artois, and celebrated, with vain and ostentatious
security, the marriage, perhaps, of his son, the nuptial feast was
interrupted by the unexpected and unwelcome presence of Ætius, who had
passed the Somme at the head of his light cavalry. The tables, which had
been spread under the shelter of a hill, along the banks of a pleasant
stream, were rudely overturned; the Franks were oppressed before they
could recover their arms, or their ranks; and their unavailing valor was
fatal only to themselves. The loaded wagons, which had followed their
march, afforded a rich booty; and the virgin-bride, with her female
attendants, submitted to the new lovers, who were imposed on them by the
chance of war. This advance, which had been obtained by the skill and
activity of Ætius, might reflect some disgrace on the military prudence
of Clodion; but the king of the Franks soon regained his strength and
reputation, and still maintained the possession of his Gallic kingdom
from the Rhine to the Somme. Under his reign, and most probably from
the thee enterprising spirit of his subjects, his three capitals, Mentz,
Treves, and Cologne, experienced the effects of hostile cruelty and
avarice. The distress of Cologne was prolonged by the perpetual dominion
of the same Barbarians, who evacuated the ruins of Treves; and Treves,
which in the space of forty years had been four times besieged and
pillaged, was disposed to lose the memory of her afflictions in the vain
amusements of the Circus. The death of Clodion, after a reign of twenty
years, exposed his kingdom to the discord and ambition of his two sons.
Meroveus, the younger, was persuaded to implore the protection of Rome;
he was received at the Imperial court, as the ally of Valentinian, and
the adopted son of the patrician Ætius; and dismissed to his native
country, with splendid gifts, and the strongest assurances of friendship
and support. During his absence, his elder brother had solicited, with
equal ardor, the formidable aid of Attila; and the king of the Huns
embraced an alliance, which facilitated the passage of the Rhine, and
justified, by a specious and honorable pretence, the invasion of Gaul.



Chapter XXXV: Invasion By Attila.--Part II.

When Attila declared his resolution of supporting the cause of his
allies, the Vandals and the Franks, at the same time, and almost in the
spirit of romantic chivalry, the savage monarch professed himself
the lover and the champion of the princess Honoria. The sister of
Valentinian was educated in the palace of Ravenna; and as her marriage
might be productive of some danger to the state, she was raised, by the
title of _Augusta_, above the hopes of the most presumptuous subject.
But the fair Honoria had no sooner attained the sixteenth year of her
age, than she detested the importunate greatness which must forever
exclude her from the comforts of honorable love; in the midst of vain
and unsatisfactory pomp, Honoria sighed, yielded to the impulse of
nature, and threw herself into the arms of her chamberlain Eugenius. Her
guilt and shame (such is the absurd language of imperious man) were soon
betrayed by the appearances of pregnancy; but the disgrace of the royal
family was published to the world by the imprudence of the empress
Placidia who dismissed her daughter, after a strict and shameful
confinement, to a remote exile at Constantinople. The unhappy princess
passed twelve or fourteen years in the irksome society of the sisters of
Theodosius, and their chosen virgins; to whose _crown_ Honoria could
no longer aspire, and whose monastic assiduity of prayer, fasting, and
vigils, she reluctantly imitated. Her impatience of long and hopeless
celibacy urged her to embrace a strange and desperate resolution. The
name of Attila was familiar and formidable at Constantinople; and his
frequent embassies entertained a perpetual intercourse between his camp
and the Imperial palace. In the pursuit of love, or rather of revenge,
the daughter of Placidia sacrificed every duty and every prejudice; and
offered to deliver her person into the arms of a Barbarian, of whose
language she was ignorant, whose figure was scarcely human, and whose
religion and manners she abhorred. By the ministry of a faithful eunuch,
she transmitted to Attila a ring, the pledge of her affection; and
earnestly conjured him to claim her as a lawful spouse, to whom he had
been secretly betrothed. These indecent advances were received, however,
with coldness and disdain; and the king of the Huns continued to
multiply the number of his wives, till his love was awakened by the
more forcible passions of ambition and avarice. The invasion of Gaul
was preceded, and justified, by a formal demand of the princess Honoria,
with a just and equal share of the Imperial patrimony. His predecessors,
the ancient Tanjous, had often addressed, in the same hostile and
peremptory manner, the daughters of China; and the pretensions of Attila
were not less offensive to the majesty of Rome. A firm, but temperate,
refusal was communicated to his ambassadors. The right of female
succession, though it might derive a specious argument from the recent
examples of Placidia and Pulcheria, was strenuously denied; and the
indissoluble engagements of Honoria were opposed to the claims of her
Scythian lover. On the discovery of her connection with the king of the
Huns, the guilty princess had been sent away, as an object of horror,
from Constantinople to Italy: her life was spared; but the ceremony of
her marriage was performed with some obscure and nominal husband,
before she was immured in a perpetual prison, to bewail those crimes and
misfortunes, which Honoria might have escaped, had she not been born the
daughter of an emperor.

A native of Gaul, and a contemporary, the learned and eloquent Sidonius,
who was afterwards bishop of Clermont, had made a promise to one of his
friends, that he would compose a regular history of the war of Attila.
If the modesty of Sidonius had not discouraged him from the prosecution
of this interesting work, the historian would have related, with the
simplicity of truth, those memorable events, to which the poet, in vague
and doubtful metaphors, has concisely alluded. The kings and nations of
Germany and Scythia, from the Volga perhaps to the Danube, obeyed the
warlike summons of Attila. From the royal village, in the plains of
Hungary his standard moved towards the West; and after a march of seven
or eight hundred miles, he reached the conflux of the Rhine and the
Neckar, where he was joined by the Franks, who adhered to his ally, the
elder of the sons of Clodion. A troop of light Barbarians, who roamed in
quest of plunder, might choose the winter for the convenience of passing
the river on the ice; but the innumerable cavalry of the Huns required
such plenty of forage and provisions, as could be procured only in a
milder season; the Hercynian forest supplied materials for a bridge of
boats; and the hostile myriads were poured, with resistless violence,
into the Belgic provinces. The consternation of Gaul was universal; and
the various fortunes of its cities have been adorned by tradition with
martyrdoms and miracles. Troyes was saved by the merits of St. Lupus;
St. Servatius was removed from the world, that he might not behold the
ruin of Tongres; and the prayers of St. Genevieve diverted the march of
Attila from the neighborhood of Paris. But as the greatest part of the
Gallic cities were alike destitute of saints and soldiers, they were
besieged and stormed by the Huns; who practised, in the example of Metz,
their customary maxims of war. They involved, in a promiscuous massacre,
the priests who served at the altar, and the infants, who, in the hour
of danger, had been providently baptized by the bishop; the flourishing
city was delivered to the flames, and a solitary chapel of St. Stephen
marked the place where it formerly stood. From the Rhine and the
Moselle, Attila advanced into the heart of Gaul; crossed the Seine at
Auxerre; and, after a long and laborious march, fixed his camp under
the walls of Orleans. He was desirous of securing his conquests by the
possession of an advantageous post, which commanded the passage of the
Loire; and he depended on the secret invitation of Sangiban, king of
the Alani, who had promised to betray the city, and to revolt from the
service of the empire. But this treacherous conspiracy was detected and
disappointed: Orleans had been strengthened with recent fortifications;
and the assaults of the Huns were vigorously repelled by the faithful
valor of the soldiers, or citizens, who defended the place. The pastoral
diligence of Anianus, a bishop of primitive sanctity and consummate
prudence, exhausted every art of religious policy to support their
courage, till the arrival of the expected succors. After an obstinate
siege, the walls were shaken by the battering rams; the Huns had already
occupied the suburbs; and the people, who were incapable of bearing
arms, lay prostrate in prayer. Anianus, who anxiously counted the days
and hours, despatched a trusty messenger to observe, from the rampart,
the face of the distant country. He returned twice, without any
intelligence that could inspire hope or comfort; but, in his third
report, he mentioned a small cloud, which he had faintly descried at the
extremity of the horizon. "It is the aid of God!" exclaimed the bishop,
in a tone of pious confidence; and the whole multitude repeated after
him, "It is the aid of God." The remote object, on which every eye
was fixed, became each moment larger, and more distinct; the Roman and
Gothic banners were gradually perceived; and a favorable wind blowing
aside the dust, discovered, in deep array, the impatient squadrons of
Ætius and Theodoric, who pressed forwards to the relief of Orleans.

The facility with which Attila had penetrated into the heart of Gaul,
may be ascribed to his insidious policy, as well as to the terror of his
arms. His public declarations were skilfully mitigated by his private
assurances; he alternately soothed and threatened the Romans and the
Goths; and the courts of Ravenna and Thoulouse, mutually suspicious of
each other's intentions, beheld, with supine indifference, the approach
of their common enemy. Ætius was the sole guardian of the public safety;
but his wisest measures were embarrassed by a faction, which, since
the death of Placidia, infested the Imperial palace: the youth of Italy
trembled at the sound of the trumpet; and the Barbarians, who, from
fear or affection, were inclined to the cause of Attila, awaited with
doubtful and venal faith, the event of the war. The patrician passed
the Alps at the head of some troops, whose strength and numbers scarcely
deserved the name of an army. But on his arrival at Arles, or Lyons,
he was confounded by the intelligence, that the Visigoths, refusing to
embrace the defence of Gaul, had determined to expect, within their own
territories, the formidable invader, whom they professed to despise.
The senator Avitus, who, after the honorable exercise of the Prætorian
præfecture, had retired to his estate in Auvergne, was persuaded
to accept the important embassy, which he executed with ability and
success. He represented to Theodoric, that an ambitious conqueror, who
aspired to the dominion of the earth, could be resisted only by the firm
and unanimous alliance of the powers whom he labored to oppress.
The lively eloquence of Avitus inflamed the Gothic warriors, by the
description of the injuries which their ancestors had suffered from the
Huns; whose implacable fury still pursued them from the Danube to the
foot of the Pyrenees. He strenuously urged, that it was the duty of
every Christian to save, from sacrilegious violation, the churches of
God, and the relics of the saints: that it was the interest of every
Barbarian, who had acquired a settlement in Gaul, to defend the fields
and vineyards, which were cultivated for his use, against the desolation
of the Scythian shepherds. Theodoric yielded to the evidence of truth;
adopted the measure at once the most prudent and the most honorable;
and declared, that, as the faithful ally of Ætius and the Romans, he was
ready to expose his life and kingdom for the common safety of Gaul. The
Visigoths, who, at that time, were in the mature vigor of their fame and
power, obeyed with alacrity the signal of war; prepared their arms and
horses, and assembled under the standard of their aged king, who was
resolved, with his two eldest sons, Torismond and Theodoric, to command
in person his numerous and valiant people. The example of the Goths
determined several tribes or nations, that seemed to fluctuate between
the Huns and the Romans. The indefatigable diligence of the patrician
gradually collected the troops of Gaul and Germany, who had formerly
acknowledged themselves the subjects, or soldiers, of the republic,
but who now claimed the rewards of voluntary service, and the rank of
independent allies; the Læti, the Armoricans, the Breones the Saxons,
the Burgundians, the Sarmatians, or Alani, the Ripuarians, and the
Franks who followed Meroveus as their lawful prince. Such was the
various army, which, under the conduct of Ætius and Theodoric,
advanced, by rapid marches to relieve Orleans, and to give battle to the
innumerable host of Attila.

On their approach the king of the Huns immediately raised the siege, and
sounded a retreat to recall the foremost of his troops from the pillage
of a city which they had already entered. The valor of Attila was always
guided by his prudence; and as he foresaw the fatal consequences of a
defeat in the heart of Gaul, he repassed the Seine, and expected the
enemy in the plains of Châlons, whose smooth and level surface
was adapted to the operations of his Scythian cavalry. But in this
tumultuary retreat, the vanguard of the Romans and their allies
continually pressed, and sometimes engaged, the troops whom Attila had
posted in the rear; the hostile columns, in the darkness of the night
and the perplexity of the roads, might encounter each other without
design; and the bloody conflict of the Franks and Gepidæ, in which
fifteen thousand Barbarians were slain, was a prelude to a more general
and decisive action. The Catalaunian fields spread themselves round
Châlons, and extend, according to the vague measurement of Jornandes,
to the length of one hundred and fifty, and the breadth of one hundred
miles, over the whole province, which is entitled to the appellation of
a _champaign_ country. This spacious plain was distinguished, however,
by some inequalities of ground; and the importance of a height, which
commanded the camp of Attila, was understood and disputed by the two
generals. The young and valiant Torismond first occupied the summit; the
Goths rushed with irresistible weight on the Huns, who labored to ascend
from the opposite side: and the possession of this advantageous post
inspired both the troops and their leaders with a fair assurance of
victory. The anxiety of Attila prompted him to consult his priests and
haruspices. It was reported, that, after scrutinizing the entrails
of victims, and scraping their bones, they revealed, in mysterious
language, his own defeat, with the death of his principal adversary;
and that the Barbarians, by accepting the equivalent, expressed his
involuntary esteem for the superior merit of Ætius. But the unusual
despondency, which seemed to prevail among the Huns, engaged Attila
to use the expedient, so familiar to the generals of antiquity, of
animating his troops by a military oration; and his language was that
of a king, who had often fought and conquered at their head. He pressed
them to consider their past glory, their actual danger, and their
future hopes. The same fortune, which opened the deserts and morasses of
Scythia to their unarmed valor, which had laid so many warlike nations
prostrate at their feet, had reserved the _joys_ of this memorable field
for the consummation of their victories. The cautious steps of their
enemies, their strict alliance, and their advantageous posts, he
artfully represented as the effects, not of prudence, but of fear. The
Visigoths alone were the strength and nerves of the opposite army; and
the Huns might securely trample on the degenerate Romans, whose close
and compact order betrayed their apprehensions, and who were equally
incapable of supporting the dangers or the fatigues of a day of battle.
The doctrine of predestination, so favorable to martial virtue, was
carefully inculcated by the king of the Huns; who assured his subjects,
that the warriors, protected by Heaven, were safe and invulnerable
amidst the darts of the enemy; but that the unerring Fates would strike
their victims in the bosom of inglorious peace. "I myself," continued
Attila, "will throw the first javelin, and the wretch who refuses to
imitate the example of his sovereign, is devoted to inevitable death."
The spirit of the Barbarians was rekindled by the presence, the voice,
and the example of their intrepid leader; and Attila, yielding to their
impatience, immediately formed his order of battle. At the head of his
brave and faithful Huns, he occupied in person the centre of the
line. The nations subject to his empire, the Rugians, the Heruli, the
Thuringians, the Franks, the Burgundians, were extended on either hand,
over the ample space of the Catalaunian fields; the right wing was
commanded by Ardaric, king of the Gepidæ; and the three valiant
brothers, who reigned over the Ostrogoths, were posted on the left
to oppose the kindred tribes of the Visigoths. The disposition of the
allies was regulated by a different principle. Sangiban, the faithless
king of the Alani, was placed in the centre, where his motions might be
strictly watched, and that the treachery might be instantly punished.
Ætius assumed the command of the left, and Theodoric of the right wing;
while Torismond still continued to occupy the heights which appear to
have stretched on the flank, and perhaps the rear, of the Scythian army.
The nations from the Volga to the Atlantic were assembled on the plain
of Châlons; but many of these nations had been divided by faction, or
conquest, or emigration; and the appearance of similar arms and ensigns,
which threatened each other, presented the image of a civil war.

The discipline and tactics of the Greeks and Romans form an interesting
part of their national manners. The attentive study of the military
operations of Xenophon, or Cæsar, or Frederic, when they are described
by the same genius which conceived and executed them, may tend to
improve (if such improvement can be wished) the art of destroying the
human species. But the battle of Châlons can only excite our curiosity
by the magnitude of the object; since it was decided by the blind
impetuosity of Barbarians, and has been related by partial writers,
whose civil or ecclesiastical profession secluded them from the
knowledge of military affairs. Cassiodorus, however, had familiarly
conversed with many Gothic warriors, who served in that memorable
engagement; "a conflict," as they informed him, "fierce, various,
obstinate, and bloody; such as could not be paralleled either in the
present or in past ages." The number of the slain amounted to one
hundred and sixty-two thousand, or, according to another account, three
hundred thousand persons; and these incredible exaggerations suppose a
real and effective loss sufficient to justify the historian's remark,
that whole generations may be swept away by the madness of kings, in
the space of a single hour. After the mutual and repeated discharge of
missile weapons, in which the archers of Scythia might signalize their
superior dexterity, the cavalry and infantry of the two armies were
furiously mingled in closer combat. The Huns, who fought under the eyes
of their king pierced through the feeble and doubtful centre of the
allies, separated their wings from each other, and wheeling, with
a rapid effort, to the left, directed their whole force against the
Visigoths. As Theodoric rode along the ranks, to animate his troops, he
received a mortal stroke from the javelin of Andages, a noble Ostrogoth,
and immediately fell from his horse. The wounded king was oppressed in
the general disorder, and trampled under the feet of his own cavalry;
and this important death served to explain the ambiguous prophecy of the
haruspices. Attila already exulted in the confidence of victory,
when the valiant Torismond descended from the hills, and verified the
remainder of the prediction. The Visigoths, who had been thrown into
confusion by the flight or defection of the Alani, gradually restored
their order of battle; and the Huns were undoubtedly vanquished, since
Attila was compelled to retreat. He had exposed his person with the
rashness of a private soldier; but the intrepid troops of the centre had
pushed forwards beyond the rest of the line; their attack was faintly
supported; their flanks were unguarded; and the conquerors of Scythia
and Germany were saved by the approach of the night from a total defeat.
They retired within the circle of wagons that fortified their camp; and
the dismounted squadrons prepared themselves for a defence, to which
neither their arms, nor their temper, were adapted. The event was
doubtful: but Attila had secured a last and honorable resource. The
saddles and rich furniture of the cavalry were collected, by his order,
into a funeral pile; and the magnanimous Barbarian had resolved, if his
intrenchments should be forced, to rush headlong into the flames, and to
deprive his enemies of the glory which they might have acquired, by the
death or captivity of Attila.

But his enemies had passed the night in equal disorder and anxiety. The
inconsiderate courage of Torismond was tempted to urge the pursuit, till
he unexpectedly found himself, with a few followers, in the midst of the
Scythian wagons. In the confusion of a nocturnal combat, he was thrown
from his horse; and the Gothic prince must have perished like his
father, if his youthful strength, and the intrepid zeal of his
companions, had not rescued him from this dangerous situation. In the
same manner, but on the left of the line, Ætius himself, separated
from his allies, ignorant of their victory, and anxious for their fate,
encountered and escaped the hostile troops that were scattered over the
plains of Châlons; and at length reached the camp of the Goths, which
he could only fortify with a slight rampart of shields, till the dawn
of day. The Imperial general was soon satisfied of the defeat of Attila,
who still remained inactive within his intrenchments; and when he
contemplated the bloody scene, he observed, with secret satisfaction,
that the loss had principally fallen on the Barbarians. The body of
Theodoric, pierced with honorable wounds, was discovered under a heap of
the slain: is subjects bewailed the death of their king and father; but
their tears were mingled with songs and acclamations, and his funeral
rites were performed in the face of a vanquished enemy. The Goths,
clashing their arms, elevated on a buckler his eldest son Torismond, to
whom they justly ascribed the glory of their success; and the new king
accepted the obligation of revenge as a sacred portion of his paternal
inheritance. Yet the Goths themselves were astonished by the fierce and
undaunted aspect of their formidable antagonist; and their historian has
compared Attila to a lion encompassed in his den, and threatening
his hunters with redoubled fury. The kings and nations who might have
deserted his standard in the hour of distress, were made sensible that
the displeasure of their monarch was the most imminent and inevitable
danger. All his instruments of martial music incessantly sounded a loud
and animating strain of defiance; and the foremost troops who advanced
to the assault were checked or destroyed by showers of arrows from every
side of the intrenchments. It was determined, in a general council
of war, to besiege the king of the Huns in his camp, to intercept his
provisions, and to reduce him to the alternative of a disgraceful
treaty or an unequal combat. But the impatience of the Barbarians soon
disdained these cautious and dilatory measures; and the mature policy
of Ætius was apprehensive that, after the extirpation of the Huns, the
republic would be oppressed by the pride and power of the Gothic nation.
The patrician exerted the superior ascendant of authority and reason
to calm the passions, which the son of Theodoric considered as a duty;
represented, with seeming affection and real truth, the dangers of
absence and delay and persuaded Torismond to disappoint, by his speedy
return, the ambitious designs of his brothers, who might occupy the
throne and treasures of Thoulouse. After the departure of the Goths,
and the separation of the allied army, Attila was surprised at the vast
silence that reigned over the plains of Châlons: the suspicion of some
hostile stratagem detained him several days within the circle of his
wagons, and his retreat beyond the Rhine confessed the last victory
which was achieved in the name of the Western empire. Meroveus and his
Franks, observing a prudent distance, and magnifying the opinion of
their strength by the numerous fires which they kindled every night,
continued to follow the rear of the Huns till they reached the confines
of Thuringia. The Thuringians served in the army of Attila: they
traversed, both in their march and in their return, the territories
of the Franks; and it was perhaps in this war that they exercised the
cruelties which, about fourscore years afterwards, were revenged by the
son of Clovis. They massacred their hostages, as well as their captives:
two hundred young maidens were tortured with exquisite and unrelenting
rage; their bodies were torn asunder by wild horses, or their bones were
crushed under the weight of rolling wagons; and their unburied limbs
were abandoned on the public roads, as a prey to dogs and vultures.
Such were those savage ancestors, whose imaginary virtues have sometimes
excited the praise and envy of civilized ages.



Chapter XXXV: Invasion By Attila.--Part III.

Neither the spirit, nor the forces, nor the reputation, of Attila, were
impaired by the failure of the Gallic expedition In the ensuing spring
he repeated his demand of the princess Honoria, and her patrimonial
treasures. The demand was again rejected, or eluded; and the indignant
lover immediately took the field, passed the Alps, invaded Italy,
and besieged Aquileia with an innumerable host of Barbarians. Those
Barbarians were unskilled in the methods of conducting a regular siege,
which, even among the ancients, required some knowledge, or at least
some practice, of the mechanic arts. But the labor of many thousand
provincials and captives, whose lives were sacrificed without pity,
might execute the most painful and dangerous work. The skill of the
Roman artists might be corrupted to the destruction of their country.
The walls of Aquileia were assaulted by a formidable train of battering
rams, movable turrets, and engines, that threw stones, darts, and fire;
and the monarch of the Huns employed the forcible impulse of hope, fear,
emulation, and interest, to subvert the only barrier which delayed the
conquest of Italy. Aquileia was at that period one of the richest, the
most populous, and the strongest of the maritime cities of the Adriatic
coast. The Gothic auxiliaries, who appeared to have served under their
native princes, Alaric and Antala, communicated their intrepid spirit;
and the citizens still remembered the glorious and successful resistance
which their ancestors had opposed to a fierce, inexorable Barbarian, who
disgraced the majesty of the Roman purple. Three months were consumed
without effect in the siege of the Aquileia; till the want of
provisions, and the clamors of his army, compelled Attila to relinquish
the enterprise; and reluctantly to issue his orders, that the troops
should strike their tents the next morning, and begin their retreat.
But as he rode round the walls, pensive, angry, and disappointed, he
observed a stork preparing to leave her nest, in one of the towers, and
to fly with her infant family towards the country. He seized, with the
ready penetration of a statesman, this trifling incident, which chance
had offered to superstition; and exclaimed, in a loud and cheerful tone,
that such a domestic bird, so constantly attached to human society,
would never have abandoned her ancient seats, unless those towers had
been devoted to impending ruin and solitude. The favorable omen inspired
an assurance of victory; the siege was renewed and prosecuted with fresh
vigor; a large breach was made in the part of the wall from whence
the stork had taken her flight; the Huns mounted to the assault with
irresistible fury; and the succeeding generation could scarcely discover
the ruins of Aquileia. After this dreadful chastisement, Attila pursued
his march; and as he passed, the cities of Altinum, Concordia, and
Padua, were reduced into heaps of stones and ashes. The inland towns,
Vicenza, Verona, and Bergamo, were exposed to the rapacious cruelty of
the Huns. Milan and Pavia submitted, without resistance, to the loss of
their wealth; and applauded the unusual clemency which preserved from
the flames the public, as well as private, buildings, and spared the
lives of the captive multitude. The popular traditions of Comum, Turin,
or Modena, may justly be suspected; yet they concur with more authentic
evidence to prove, that Attila spread his ravages over the rich plains
of modern Lombardy; which are divided by the Po, and bounded by the Alps
and Apennine. When he took possession of the royal palace of Milan, he
was surprised and offended at the sight of a picture which represented
the Cæsars seated on their throne, and the princes of Scythia prostrate
at their feet. The revenge which Attila inflicted on this monument of
Roman vanity, was harmless and ingenious. He commanded a painter to
reverse the figures and the attitudes; and the emperors were delineated
on the same canvas, approaching in a suppliant posture to empty their
bags of tributary gold before the throne of the Scythian monarch.
The spectators must have confessed the truth and propriety of the
alteration; and were perhaps tempted to apply, on this singular
occasion, the well-known fable of the dispute between the lion and the
man.

It is a saying worthy of the ferocious pride of Attila, that the
grass never grew on the spot where his horse had trod. Yet the savage
destroyer undesignedly laid the foundation of a republic, which
revived, in the feudal state of Europe, the art and spirit of commercial
industry. The celebrated name of Venice, or Venetia, was formerly
diffused over a large and fertile province of Italy, from the confines
of Pannonia to the River Addua, and from the Po to the Rhætian and
Julian Alps. Before the irruption of the Barbarians, fifty Venetian
cities flourished in peace and prosperity: Aquileia was placed in the
most conspicuous station: but the ancient dignity of Padua was supported
by agriculture and manufactures; and the property of five hundred
citizens, who were entitled to the equestrian rank, must have amounted,
at the strictest computation, to one million seven hundred thousand
pounds. Many families of Aquileia, Padua, and the adjacent towns, who
fled from the sword of the Huns, found a safe, though obscure, refuge
in the neighboring islands. At the extremity of the Gulf, where the
Adriatic feebly imitates the tides of the ocean, near a hundred small
islands are separated by shallow water from the continent, and protected
from the waves by several long slips of land, which admit the entrance
of vessels through some secret and narrow channels. Till the middle of
the fifth century, these remote and sequestered spots remained without
cultivation, with few inhabitants, and almost without a name. But the
manners of the Venetian fugitives, their arts and their government,
were gradually formed by their new situation; and one of the epistles
of Cassiodorus, which describes their condition about seventy years
afterwards, may be considered as the primitive monument of the republic.
 The minister of Theodoric compares them, in his quaint declamatory
style, to water-fowl, who had fixed their nests on the bosom of the
waves; and though he allows, that the Venetian provinces had formerly
contained many noble families, he insinuates, that they were now reduced
by misfortune to the same level of humble poverty. Fish was the common,
and almost the universal, food of every rank: their only treasure
consisted in the plenty of salt, which they extracted from the sea:
and the exchange of that commodity, so essential to human life, was
substituted in the neighboring markets to the currency of gold and
silver. A people, whose habitations might be doubtfully assigned to the
earth or water, soon became alike familiar with the two elements; and
the demands of avarice succeeded to those of necessity. The islanders,
who, from Grado to Chiozza, were intimately connected with each other,
penetrated into the heart of Italy, by the secure, though laborious,
navigation of the rivers and inland canals. Their vessels, which were
continually increasing in size and number, visited all the harbors of
the Gulf; and the marriage which Venice annually celebrates with
the Adriatic, was contracted in her early infancy. The epistle of
Cassiodorus, the Prætorian præfect, is addressed to the maritime
tribunes; and he exhorts them, in a mild tone of authority, to animate
the zeal of their countrymen for the public service, which required
their assistance to transport the magazines of wine and oil from the
province of Istria to the royal city of Ravenna. The ambiguous office
of these magistrates is explained by the tradition, that, in the twelve
principal islands, twelve tribunes, or judges, were created by an annual
and popular election. The existence of the Venetian republic under the
Gothic kingdom of Italy, is attested by the same authentic record, which
annihilates their lofty claim of original and perpetual independence.

The Italians, who had long since renounced the exercise of arms, were
surprised, after forty years' peace, by the approach of a formidable
Barbarian, whom they abhorred, as the enemy of their religion, as well
as of their republic. Amidst the general consternation, Ætius alone was
incapable of fear; but it was impossible that he should achieve, alone
and unassisted, any military exploits worthy of his former renown. The
Barbarians who had defended Gaul, refused to march to the relief of
Italy; and the succors promised by the Eastern emperor were distant
and doubtful. Since Ætius, at the head of his domestic troops, still
maintained the field, and harassed or retarded the march of Attila, he
never showed himself more truly great, than at the time when his
conduct was blamed by an ignorant and ungrateful people. If the mind of
Valentinian had been susceptible of any generous sentiments, he would
have chosen such a general for his example and his guide. But the timid
grandson of Theodosius, instead of sharing the dangers, escaped from
the sound of war; and his hasty retreat from Ravenna to Rome, from an
impregnable fortress to an open capital, betrayed his secret intention
of abandoning Italy, as soon as the danger should approach his Imperial
person. This shameful abdication was suspended, however, by the spirit
of doubt and delay, which commonly adheres to pusillanimous counsels,
and sometimes corrects their pernicious tendency. The Western emperor,
with the senate and people of Rome, embraced the more salutary
resolution of deprecating, by a solemn and suppliant embassy, the wrath
of Attila. This important commission was accepted by Avienus, who, from
his birth and riches, his consular dignity, the numerous train of his
clients, and his personal abilities, held the first rank in the Roman
senate. The specious and artful character of Avienus was admirably
qualified to conduct a negotiation either of public or private interest:
his colleague Trigetius had exercised the Prætorian præfecture of Italy;
and Leo, bishop of Rome, consented to expose his life for the safety of
his flock. The genius of Leo was exercised and displayed in the public
misfortunes; and he has deserved the appellation of _Great_, by the
successful zeal with which he labored to establish his opinions and
his authority, under the venerable names of orthodox faith and
ecclesiastical discipline. The Roman ambassadors were introduced to the
tent of Attila, as he lay encamped at the place where the slow-winding
Mincius is lost in the foaming waves of the Lake Benacus, and trampled,
with his Scythian cavalry, the farms of Catullus and Virgil. The
Barbarian monarch listened with favorable, and even respectful,
attention; and the deliverance of Italy was purchased by the immense
ransom, or dowry, of the princess Honoria. The state of his army might
facilitate the treaty, and hasten his retreat. Their martial spirit was
relaxed by the wealth and indolence of a warm climate. The shepherds of
the North, whose ordinary food consisted of milk and raw flesh, indulged
themselves too freely in the use of bread, of wine, and of meat,
prepared and seasoned by the arts of cookery; and the progress of
disease revenged in some measure the injuries of the Italians. When
Attila declared his resolution of carrying his victorious arms to the
gates of Rome, he was admonished by his friends, as well as by his
enemies, that Alaric had not long survived the conquest of the eternal
city. His mind, superior to real danger, was assaulted by imaginary
terrors; nor could he escape the influence of superstition, which had
so often been subservient to his designs. The pressing eloquence of
Leo, his majestic aspect and sacerdotal robes, excited the veneration of
Attila for the spiritual father of the Christians. The apparition of
the two apostles, St. Peter and St. Paul, who menaced the Barbarian with
instant death, if he rejected the prayer of their successor, is one
of the noblest legends of ecclesiastical tradition. The safety of Rome
might deserve the interposition of celestial beings; and some indulgence
is due to a fable, which has been represented by the pencil of Raphael,
and the chisel of Algardi.

Before the king of the Huns evacuated Italy, he threatened to return
more dreadful, and more implacable, if his bride, the princess Honoria,
were not delivered to his ambassadors within the term stipulated by the
treaty. Yet, in the mean while, Attila relieved his tender anxiety,
by adding a beautiful maid, whose name was Ildico, to the list of his
innumerable wives. Their marriage was celebrated with barbaric pomp
and festivity, at his wooden palace beyond the Danube; and the monarch,
oppressed with wine and sleep, retired at a late hour from the banquet
to the nuptial bed. His attendants continued to respect his pleasures,
or his repose, the greatest part of the ensuing day, till the unusual
silence alarmed their fears and suspicions; and, after attempting to
awaken Attila by loud and repeated cries, they at length broke into the
royal apartment. They found the trembling bride sitting by the bedside,
hiding her face with her veil, and lamenting her own danger, as well as
the death of the king, who had expired during the night. An artery had
suddenly burst: and as Attila lay in a supine posture, he was suffocated
by a torrent of blood, which, instead of finding a passage through the
nostrils, regurgitated into the lungs and stomach. His body was solemnly
exposed in the midst of the plain, under a silken pavilion; and the
chosen squadrons of the Huns, wheeling round in measured evolutions,
chanted a funeral song to the memory of a hero, glorious in his life,
invincible in his death, the father of his people, the scourge of
his enemies, and the terror of the world. According to their national
custom, the Barbarians cut off a part of their hair, gashed their faces
with unseemly wounds, and bewailed their valiant leader as he deserved,
not with the tears of women, but with the blood of warriors. The remains
of Attila were enclosed within three coffins, of gold, of silver, and
of iron, and privately buried in the night: the spoils of nations were
thrown into his grave; the captives who had opened the ground were
inhumanly massacred; and the same Huns, who had indulged such excessive
grief, feasted, with dissolute and intemperate mirth, about the recent
sepulchre of their king. It was reported at Constantinople, that on the
fortunate night on which he expired, Marcian beheld in a dream the bow
of Attila broken asunder: and the report may be allowed to prove, how
seldom the image of that formidable Barbarian was absent from the mind
of a Roman emperor.

The revolution which subverted the empire of the Huns, established the
fame of Attila, whose genius alone had sustained the huge and disjointed
fabric. After his death, the boldest chieftains aspired to the rank of
kings; the most powerful kings refused to acknowledge a superior; and
the numerous sons, whom so many various mothers bore to the deceased
monarch, divided and disputed, like a private inheritance, the sovereign
command of the nations of Germany and Scythia. The bold Ardaric felt and
represented the disgrace of this servile partition; and his subjects,
the warlike Gepidæ, with the Ostrogoths, under the conduct of three
valiant brothers, encouraged their allies to vindicate the rights of
freedom and royalty. In a bloody and decisive conflict on the banks of
the River Netad, in Pannonia, the lance of the Gepidæ, the sword of the
Goths, the arrows of the Huns, the Suevic infantry, the light arms of
the Heruli, and the heavy weapons of the Alani, encountered or supported
each other; and the victory of the Ardaric was accompanied with the
slaughter of thirty thousand of his enemies. Ellac, the eldest son of
Attila, lost his life and crown in the memorable battle of Netad: his
early valor had raised him to the throne of the Acatzires, a Scythian
people, whom he subdued; and his father, who loved the superior merit,
would have envied the death of Ellac. His brother, Dengisich, with an
army of Huns, still formidable in their flight and ruin, maintained his
ground above fifteen years on the banks of the Danube. The palace of
Attila, with the old country of Dacia, from the Carpathian hills to the
Euxine, became the seat of a new power, which was erected by Ardaric,
king of the Gepidæ. The Pannonian conquests from Vienna to Sirmium, were
occupied by the Ostrogoths; and the settlements of the tribes, who had
so bravely asserted their native freedom, were irregularly distributed,
according to the measure of their respective strength. Surrounded
and oppressed by the multitude of his father's slaves, the kingdom
of Dengisich was confined to the circle of his wagons; his desperate
courage urged him to invade the Eastern empire: he fell in battle; and
his head ignominiously exposed in the Hippodrome, exhibited a grateful
spectacle to the people of Constantinople. Attila had fondly or
superstitiously believed, that Irnac, the youngest of his sons, was
destined to perpetuate the glories of his race. The character of that
prince, who attempted to moderate the rashness of his brother Dengisich,
was more suitable to the declining condition of the Huns; and Irnac,
with his subject hordes, retired into the heart of the Lesser Scythia.
They were soon overwhelmed by a torrent of new Barbarians, who followed
the same road which their own ancestors had formerly discovered. The
_Geougen_, or Avares, whose residence is assigned by the Greek writers
to the shores of the ocean, impelled the adjacent tribes; till at length
the Igours of the North, issuing from the cold Siberian regions, which
produce the most valuable furs, spread themselves over the desert, as
far as the Borysthenes and the Caspian gates; and finally extinguished
the empire of the Huns.

Such an event might contribute to the safety of the Eastern empire,
under the reign of a prince who conciliated the friendship, without
forfeiting the esteem, of the Barbarians. But the emperor of the West,
the feeble and dissolute Valentinian, who had reached his thirty-fifth
year without attaining the age of reason or courage, abused this
apparent security, to undermine the foundations of his own throne,
by the murder of the patrician Ætius. From the instinct of a base and
jealous mind, he hated the man who was universally celebrated as the
terror of the Barbarians, and the support of the republic; and his
new favorite, the eunuch Heraclius, awakened the emperor from the supine
lethargy, which might be disguised, during the life of Placidia, by the
excuse of filial piety. The fame of Ætius, his wealth and dignity,
the numerous and martial train of Barbarian followers, his powerful
dependants, who filled the civil offices of the state, and the hopes of
his son Gaudentius, who was already contracted to Eudoxia, the emperor's
daughter, had raised him above the rank of a subject. The ambitious
designs, of which he was secretly accused, excited the fears, as well
as the resentment, of Valentinian. Ætius himself, supported by the
consciousness of his merit, his services, and perhaps his innocence,
seems to have maintained a haughty and indiscreet behavior. The
patrician offended his sovereign by a hostile declaration; he aggravated
the offence, by compelling him to ratify, with a solemn oath, a treaty
of reconciliation and alliance; he proclaimed his suspicions, he
neglected his safety; and from a vain confidence that the enemy, whom
he despised, was incapable even of a manly crime, he rashly ventured his
person in the palace of Rome. Whilst he urged, perhaps with intemperate
vehemence, the marriage of his son; Valentinian, drawing his sword, the
first sword he had ever drawn, plunged it in the breast of a general who
had saved his empire: his courtiers and eunuchs ambitiously struggled
to imitate their master; and Ætius, pierced with a hundred wounds, fell
dead in the royal presence. Boethius, the Prætorian præfect, was
killed at the same moment, and before the event could be divulged, the
principal friends of the patrician were summoned to the palace, and
separately murdered. The horrid deed, palliated by the specious names
of justice and necessity, was immediately communicated by the emperor
to his soldiers, his subjects, and his allies. The nations, who were
strangers or enemies to Ætius, generously deplored the unworthy fate of
a hero: the Barbarians, who had been attached to his service, dissembled
their grief and resentment: and the public contempt, which had been so
long entertained for Valentinian, was at once converted into deep and
universal abhorrence. Such sentiments seldom pervade the walls of a
palace; yet the emperor was confounded by the honest reply of a Roman,
whose approbation he had not disdained to solicit. "I am ignorant, sir,
of your motives or provocations; I only know, that you have acted like a
man who cuts off his right hand with his left."

The luxury of Rome seems to have attracted the long and frequent visits
of Valentinian; who was consequently more despised at Rome than in any
other part of his dominions. A republican spirit was insensibly revived
in the senate, as their authority, and even their supplies, became
necessary for the support of his feeble government. The stately demeanor
of an hereditary monarch offended their pride; and the pleasures of
Valentinian were injurious to the peace and honor of noble families. The
birth of the empress Eudoxia was equal to his own, and her charms and
tender affection deserved those testimonies of love which her inconstant
husband dissipated in vague and unlawful amours. Petronius Maximus, a
wealthy senator of the Anician family, who had been twice consul, was
possessed of a chaste and beautiful wife: her obstinate resistance
served only to irritate the desires of Valentinian; and he resolved to
accomplish them, either by stratagem or force. Deep gaming was one of
the vices of the court: the emperor, who, by chance or contrivance, had
gained from Maximus a considerable sum, uncourteously exacted his ring
as a security for the debt; and sent it by a trusty messenger to his
wife, with an order, in her husband's name, that she should immediately
attend the empress Eudoxia. The unsuspecting wife of Maximus was
conveyed in her litter to the Imperial palace; the emissaries of her
impatient lover conducted her to a remote and silent bed-chamber; and
Valentinian violated, without remorse, the laws of hospitality. Her
tears, when she returned home, her deep affliction, and her bitter
reproaches against a husband whom she considered as the accomplice of
his own shame, excited Maximus to a just revenge; the desire of revenge
was stimulated by ambition; and he might reasonably aspire, by the free
suffrage of the Roman senate, to the throne of a detested and despicable
rival. Valentinian, who supposed that every human breast was devoid,
like his own, of friendship and gratitude, had imprudently admitted
among his guards several domestics and followers of Ætius. Two of these,
of Barbarian race were persuaded to execute a sacred and honorable duty,
by punishing with death the assassin of their patron; and their intrepid
courage did not long expect a favorable moment. Whilst Valentinian
amused himself, in the field of Mars, with the spectacle of some
military sports, they suddenly rushed upon him with drawn weapons,
despatched the guilty Heraclius, and stabbed the emperor to the heart,
without the least opposition from his numerous train, who seemed to
rejoice in the tyrant's death. Such was the fate of Valentinian the
Third, the last Roman emperor of the family of Theodosius. He faithfully
imitated the hereditary weakness of his cousin and his two uncles,
without inheriting the gentleness, the purity, the innocence, which
alleviate, in their characters, the want of spirit and ability.
Valentinian was less excusable, since he had passions, without virtues:
even his religion was questionable; and though he never deviated
into the paths of heresy, he scandalized the pious Christians by his
attachment to the profane arts of magic and divination.

As early as the time of Cicero and Varro, it was the opinion of the
Roman augurs, that the _twelve vultures_ which Romulus had seen,
represented the _twelve centuries_, assigned for the fatal period of
his city. This prophecy, disregarded perhaps in the season of health
and prosperity, inspired the people with gloomy apprehensions, when
the twelfth century, clouded with disgrace and misfortune, was almost
elapsed; and even posterity must acknowledge with some surprise, that
the arbitrary interpretation of an accidental or fabulous circumstance
has been seriously verified in the downfall of the Western empire. But
its fall was announced by a clearer omen than the flight of vultures:
the Roman government appeared every day less formidable to its enemies,
more odious and oppressive to its subjects. The taxes were multiplied
with the public distress; economy was neglected in proportion as it
became necessary; and the injustice of the rich shifted the unequal
burden from themselves to the people, whom they defrauded of the
_indulgences_ that might sometimes have alleviated their misery. The
severe inquisition which confiscated their goods, and tortured their
persons, compelled the subjects of Valentinian to prefer the more simple
tyranny of the Barbarians, to fly to the woods and mountains, or to
embrace the vile and abject condition of mercenary servants. They
abjured and abhorred the name of Roman citizens, which had formerly
excited the ambition of mankind. The Armorican provinces of Gaul, and
the greatest part of Spain, were-thrown into a state of disorderly
independence, by the confederations of the Bagaudæ; and the Imperial
ministers pursued with proscriptive laws, and ineffectual arms, the
rebels whom they had made. If all the Barbarian conquerors had been
annihilated in the same hour, their total destruction would not have
restored the empire of the West: and if Rome still survived, she
survived the loss of freedom, of virtue, and of honor.



Chapter XXXVI: Total Extinction Of The Western Empire.--Part I.

     Sack Of Rome By Genseric, King Of The Vandals.--His Naval
     Depredations.--Succession Of The Last Emperors Of The West,
     Maximus, Avitus, Majorian, Severus, Anthemius, Olybrius,
     Glycerius, Nepos, Augustulus.--Total Extinction Of The
     Western Empire.--Reign Of Odoacer, The First Barbarian King
     Of Italy.

The loss or desolation of the provinces, from the Ocean to the Alps,
impaired the glory and greatness of Rome: her internal prosperity was
irretrievably destroyed by the separation of Africa. The rapacious
Vandals confiscated the patrimonial estates of the senators, and
intercepted the regular subsidies, which relieved the poverty and
encouraged the idleness of the plebeians. The distress of the Romans
was soon aggravated by an unexpected attack; and the province, so long
cultivated for their use by industrious and obedient subjects, was
armed against them by an ambitious Barbarian. The Vandals and Alani, who
followed the successful standard of Genseric, had acquired a rich and
fertile territory, which stretched along the coast above ninety days'
journey from Tangier to Tripoli; but their narrow limits were pressed
and confined, on either side, by the sandy desert and the Mediterranean.
The discovery and conquest of the Black nations, that might dwell
beneath the torrid zone, could not tempt the rational ambition of
Genseric; but he cast his eyes towards the sea; he resolved to create a
naval power, and his bold resolution was executed with steady and active
perseverance. The woods of Mount Atlas afforded an inexhaustible nursery
of timber: his new subjects were skilled in the arts of navigation
and ship-building; he animated his daring Vandals to embrace a mode of
warfare which would render every maritime country accessible to their
arms; the Moors and Africans were allured by the hopes of plunder; and,
after an interval of six centuries, the fleets that issued from the port
of Carthage again claimed the empire of the Mediterranean. The success
of the Vandals, the conquest of Sicily, the sack of Palermo, and the
frequent descents on the coast of Lucania, awakened and alarmed the
mother of Valentinian, and the sister of Theodosius. Alliances were
formed; and armaments, expensive and ineffectual, were prepared, for the
destruction of the common enemy; who reserved his courage to encounter
those dangers which his policy could not prevent or elude. The designs
of the Roman government were repeatedly baffled by his artful delays,
ambiguous promises, and apparent concessions; and the interposition of
his formidable confederate, the king of the Huns, recalled the emperors
from the conquest of Africa to the care of their domestic safety. The
revolutions of the palace, which left the Western empire without a
defender, and without a lawful prince, dispelled the apprehensions, and
stimulated the avarice, of Genseric. He immediately equipped a numerous
fleet of Vandals and Moors, and cast anchor at the mouth of the Tyber,
about three months after the death of Valentinian, and the elevation of
Maximus to the Imperial throne.

The private life of the senator Petronius Maximus was often alleged as
a rare example of human felicity. His birth was noble and illustrious,
since he descended from the Anician family; his dignity was supported by
an adequate patrimony in land and money; and these advantages of fortune
were accompanied with liberal arts and decent manners, which adorn or
imitate the inestimable gifts of genius and virtue. The luxury of his
palace and table was hospitable and elegant. Whenever Maximus appeared
in public, he was surrounded by a train of grateful and obsequious
clients; and it is possible that among these clients, he might deserve
and possess some real friends. His merit was rewarded by the favor
of the prince and senate: he thrice exercised the office of Prætorian
præfect of Italy; he was twice invested with the consulship, and he
obtained the rank of patrician. These civil honors were not incompatible
with the enjoyment of leisure and tranquillity; his hours, according
to the demands of pleasure or reason, were accurately distributed by a
water-clock; and this avarice of time may be allowed to prove the sense
which Maximus entertained of his own happiness. The injury which he
received from the emperor Valentinian appears to excuse the most bloody
revenge. Yet a philosopher might have reflected, that, if the resistance
of his wife had been sincere, her chastity was still inviolate, and
that it could never be restored if she had consented to the will of the
adulterer. A patriot would have hesitated before he plunged himself
and his country into those inevitable calamities which must follow
the extinction of the royal house of Theodosius. The imprudent Maximus
disregarded these salutary considerations; he gratified his resentment
and ambition; he saw the bleeding corpse of Valentinian at his feet; and
he heard himself saluted Emperor by the unanimous voice of the senate
and people. But the day of his inauguration was the last day of his
happiness. He was imprisoned (such is the lively expression of Sidonius)
in the palace; and after passing a sleepless night, he sighed that he
had attained the summit of his wishes, and aspired only to descend
from the dangerous elevation. Oppressed by the weight of the diadem, he
communicated his anxious thoughts to his friend and quæstor Fulgentius;
and when he looked back with unavailing regret on the secure pleasures
of his former life, the emperor exclaimed, "O fortunate Damocles, thy
reign began and ended with the same dinner;" a well-known allusion,
which Fulgentius afterwards repeated as an instructive lesson for
princes and subjects.

The reign of Maximus continued about three months. His hours, of which
he had lost the command, were disturbed by remorse, or guilt, or terror,
and his throne was shaken by the seditions of the soldiers, the people,
and the confederate Barbarians. The marriage of his son Paladius with
the eldest daughter of the late emperor, might tend to establish the
hereditary succession of his family; but the violence which he offered
to the empress Eudoxia, could proceed only from the blind impulse of
lust or revenge. His own wife, the cause of these tragic events, had
been seasonably removed by death; and the widow of Valentinian was
compelled to violate her decent mourning, perhaps her real grief, and to
submit to the embraces of a presumptuous usurper, whom she suspected
as the assassin of her deceased husband. These suspicions were soon
justified by the indiscreet confession of Maximus himself; and he
wantonly provoked the hatred of his reluctant bride, who was still
conscious that she was descended from a line of emperors. From the East,
however, Eudoxia could not hope to obtain any effectual assistance;
her father and her aunt Pulcheria were dead; her mother languished at
Jerusalem in disgrace and exile; and the sceptre of Constantinople was
in the hands of a stranger. She directed her eyes towards Carthage;
secretly implored the aid of the king of the Vandals; and persuaded
Genseric to improve the fair opportunity of disguising his rapacious
designs by the specious names of honor, justice, and compassion.
Whatever abilities Maximus might have shown in a subordinate station,
he was found incapable of administering an empire; and though he might
easily have been informed of the naval preparations which were made on
the opposite shores of Africa, he expected with supine indifference
the approach of the enemy, without adopting any measures of defence, of
negotiation, or of a timely retreat. When the Vandals disembarked at the
mouth of the Tyber, the emperor was suddenly roused from his lethargy
by the clamors of a trembling and exasperated multitude. The only hope
which presented itself to his astonished mind was that of a precipitate
flight, and he exhorted the senators to imitate the example of their
prince. But no sooner did Maximus appear in the streets, than he was
assaulted by a shower of stones; a Roman, or a Burgundian soldier,
claimed the honor of the first wound; his mangled body was ignominiously
cast into the Tyber; the Roman people rejoiced in the punishment which
they had inflicted on the author of the public calamities; and the
domestics of Eudoxia signalized their zeal in the service of their
mistress.

On the third day after the tumult, Genseric boldly advanced from the
port of Ostia to the gates of the defenceless city. Instead of a sally
of the Roman youth, there issued from the gates an unarmed and venerable
procession of the bishop at the head of his clergy. The fearless spirit
of Leo, his authority and eloquence, _again_ mitigated the fierceness
of a Barbarian conqueror; the king of the Vandals promised to spare the
unresisting multitude, to protect the buildings from fire, and to
exempt the captives from torture; and although such orders were neither
seriously given, nor strictly obeyed, the mediation of Leo was glorious
to himself, and in some degree beneficial to his country. But Rome and
its inhabitants were delivered to the licentiousness of the Vandals
and Moors, whose blind passions revenged the injuries of Carthage. The
pillage lasted fourteen days and nights; and all that yet remained of
public or private wealth, of sacred or profane treasure, was diligently
transported to the vessels of Genseric. Among the spoils, the splendid
relics of two temples, or rather of two religions, exhibited a memorable
example of the vicissitudes of human and divine things. Since the
abolition of Paganism, the Capitol had been violated and abandoned; yet
the statues of the gods and heroes were still respected, and the curious
roof of gilt bronze was reserved for the rapacious hands of Genseric.
The holy instruments of the Jewish worship, the gold table, and the
gold candlestick with seven branches, originally framed according to
the particular instructions of God himself, and which were placed in the
sanctuary of his temple, had been ostentatiously displayed to the Roman
people in the triumph of Titus. They were afterwards deposited in the
temple of Peace; and at the end of four hundred years, the spoils of
Jerusalem were transferred from Rome to Carthage, by a Barbarian
who derived his origin from the shores of the Baltic. These ancient
monuments might attract the notice of curiosity, as well as of avarice.
But the Christian churches, enriched and adorned by the prevailing
superstition of the times, afforded more plentiful materials for
sacrilege; and the pious liberality of Pope Leo, who melted six silver
vases, the gift of Constantine, each of a hundred pounds weight, is an
evidence of the damage which he attempted to repair. In the forty-five
years that had elapsed since the Gothic invasion, the pomp and luxury
of Rome were in some measure restored; and it was difficult either to
escape, or to satisfy, the avarice of a conqueror, who possessed leisure
to collect, and ships to transport, the wealth of the capital. The
Imperial ornaments of the palace, the magnificent furniture and
wardrobe, the sideboards of massy plate, were accumulated with
disorderly rapine; the gold and silver amounted to several thousand
talents; yet even the brass and copper were laboriously removed. Eudoxia
herself, who advanced to meet her friend and deliverer, soon bewailed
the imprudence of her own conduct. She was rudely stripped of her
jewels; and the unfortunate empress, with her two daughters, the only
surviving remains of the great Theodosius, was compelled, as a captive,
to follow the haughty Vandal; who immediately hoisted sail, and returned
with a prosperous navigation to the port of Carthage. Many
thousand Romans of both sexes, chosen for some useful or agreeable
qualifications, reluctantly embarked on board the fleet of Genseric; and
their distress was aggravated by the unfeeling Barbarians, who, in the
division of the booty, separated the wives from their husbands, and
the children from their parents. The charity of Deogratias, bishop of
Carthage, was their only consolation and support. He generously sold the
gold and silver plate of the church to purchase the freedom of some, to
alleviate the slavery of others, and to assist the wants and infirmities
of a captive multitude, whose health was impaired by the hardships which
they had suffered in their passage from Italy to Africa. By his order,
two spacious churches were converted into hospitals; the sick were
distributed into convenient beds, and liberally supplied with food and
medicines; and the aged prelate repeated his visits both in the day
and night, with an assiduity that surpassed his strength, and a tender
sympathy which enhanced the value of his services. Compare this scene
with the field of Cannæ; and judge between Hannibal and the successor of
St. Cyprian.

The deaths of Ætius and Valentinian had relaxed the ties which held
the Barbarians of Gaul in peace and subordination. The sea-coast was
infested by the Saxons; the Alemanni and the Franks advanced from the
Rhine to the Seine; and the ambition of the Goths seemed to meditate
more extensive and permanent conquests. The emperor Maximus relieved
himself, by a judicious choice, from the weight of these distant cares;
he silenced the solicitations of his friends, listened to the voice of
fame, and promoted a stranger to the general command of the forces of
Gaul. Avitus, the stranger, whose merit was so nobly rewarded, descended
from a wealthy and honorable family in the diocese of Auvergne. The
convulsions of the times urged him to embrace, with the same ardor, the
civil and military professions: and the indefatigable youth blended the
studies of literature and jurisprudence with the exercise of arms and
hunting. Thirty years of his life were laudably spent in the public
service; he alternately displayed his talents in war and negotiation;
and the soldier of Ætius, after executing the most important embassies,
was raised to the station of Prætorian præfect of Gaul. Either the merit
of Avitus excited envy, or his moderation was desirous of repose, since
he calmly retired to an estate, which he possessed in the neighborhood
of Clermont. A copious stream, issuing from the mountain, and falling
headlong in many a loud and foaming cascade, discharged its waters into
a lake about two miles in length, and the villa was pleasantly seated on
the margin of the lake. The baths, the porticos, the summer and winter
apartments, were adapted to the purposes of luxury and use; and the
adjacent country afforded the various prospects of woods, pastures, and
meadows. In this retreat, where Avitus amused his leisure with books,
rural sports, the practice of husbandry, and the society of his friends,
he received the Imperial diploma, which constituted him master-general
of the cavalry and infantry of Gaul. He assumed the military command;
the Barbarians suspended their fury; and whatever means he might employ,
whatever concessions he might be forced to make, the people enjoyed the
benefits of actual tranquillity. But the fate of Gaul depended on the
Visigoths; and the Roman general, less attentive to his dignity than to
the public interest, did not disdain to visit Thoulouse in the character
of an ambassador. He was received with courteous hospitality by
Theodoric, the king of the Goths; but while Avitus laid the foundations
of a solid alliance with that powerful nation, he was astonished by the
intelligence, that the emperor Maximus was slain, and that Rome had been
pillaged by the Vandals. A vacant throne, which he might ascend without
guilt or danger, tempted his ambition; and the Visigoths were easily
persuaded to support his claim by their irresistible suffrage. They
loved the person of Avitus; they respected his virtues; and they were
not insensible of the advantage, as well as honor, of giving an emperor
to the West. The season was now approaching, in which the annual
assembly of the seven provinces was held at Arles; their deliberations
might perhaps be influenced by the presence of Theodoric and his
martial brothers; but their choice would naturally incline to the most
illustrious of their countrymen. Avitus, after a decent resistance,
accepted the Imperial diadem from the representatives of Gaul; and
his election was ratified by the acclamations of the Barbarians and
provincials. The formal consent of Marcian, emperor of the East, was
solicited and obtained; but the senate, Rome, and Italy, though humbled
by their recent calamities, submitted with a secret murmur to the
presumption of the Gallic usurper.

Theodoric, to whom Avitus was indebted for the purple, had acquired
the Gothic sceptre by the murder of his elder brother Torismond; and he
justified this atrocious deed by the design which his predecessor had
formed of violating his alliance with the empire. Such a crime might
not be incompatible with the virtues of a Barbarian; but the manners of
Theodoric were gentle and humane; and posterity may contemplate
without terror the original picture of a Gothic king, whom Sidonius had
intimately observed, in the hours of peace and of social intercourse. In
an epistle, dated from the court of Thoulouse, the orator satisfies the
curiosity of one of his friends, in the following description: "By the
majesty of his appearance, Theodoric would command the respect of those
who are ignorant of his merit; and although he is born a prince, his
merit would dignify a private station. He is of a middle stature, his
body appears rather plump than fat, and in his well-proportioned
limbs agility is united with muscular strength. If you examine his
countenance, you will distinguish a high forehead, large shaggy
eyebrows, an aquiline nose, thin lips, a regular set of white teeth, and
a fair complexion, that blushes more frequently from modesty than from
anger. The ordinary distribution of his time, as far as it is exposed
to the public view, may be concisely represented. Before daybreak, he
repairs, with a small train, to his domestic chapel, where the service
is performed by the Arian clergy; but those who presume to interpret
his secret sentiments, consider this assiduous devotion as the effect
of habit and policy. The rest of the morning is employed in the
administration of his kingdom. His chair is surrounded by some military
officers of decent aspect and behavior: the noisy crowd of his Barbarian
guards occupies the hall of audience; but they are not permitted to
stand within the veils or curtains that conceal the council-chamber from
vulgar eyes. The ambassadors of the nations are successively introduced:
Theodoric listens with attention, answers them with discreet brevity,
and either announces or delays, according to the nature of their
business, his final resolution. About eight (the second hour) he rises
from his throne, and visits either his treasury or his stables. If he
chooses to hunt, or at least to exercise himself on horseback, his bow
is carried by a favorite youth; but when the game is marked, he bends it
with his own hand, and seldom misses the object of his aim: as a king,
he disdains to bear arms in such ignoble warfare; but as a soldier,
he would blush to accept any military service which he could perform
himself. On common days, his dinner is not different from the repast of
a private citizen, but every Saturday, many honorable guests are invited
to the royal table, which, on these occasions, is served with the
elegance of Greece, the plenty of Gaul, and the order and diligence of
Italy. The gold or silver plate is less remarkable for its weight than
for the brightness and curious workmanship: the taste is gratified
without the help of foreign and costly luxury; the size and number
of the cups of wine are regulated with a strict regard to the laws of
temperance; and the respectful silence that prevails, is interrupted
only by grave and instructive conversation. After dinner, Theodoric
sometimes indulges himself in a short slumber; and as soon as he wakes,
he calls for the dice and tables, encourages his friends to forget the
royal majesty, and is delighted when they freely express the passions
which are excited by the incidents of play. At this game, which he loves
as the image of war, he alternately displays his eagerness, his skill,
his patience, and his cheerful temper. If he loses, he laughs; he
is modest and silent if he wins. Yet, notwithstanding this seeming
indifference, his courtiers choose to solicit any favor in the moments
of victory; and I myself, in my applications to the king, have derived
some benefit from my losses. About the ninth hour (three o'clock) the
tide of business again returns, and flows incessantly till after
sunset, when the signal of the royal supper dismisses the weary crowd of
suppliants and pleaders. At the supper, a more familiar repast, buffoons
and pantomimes are sometimes introduced, to divert, not to offend, the
company, by their ridiculous wit: but female singers, and the soft,
effeminate modes of music, are severely banished, and such martial tunes
as animate the soul to deeds of valor are alone grateful to the ear
of Theodoric. He retires from table; and the nocturnal guards are
immediately posted at the entrance of the treasury, the palace, and the
private apartments."

When the king of the Visigoths encouraged Avitus to assume the purple,
he offered his person and his forces, as a faithful soldier of the
republic. The exploits of Theodoric soon convinced the world that he
had not degenerated from the warlike virtues of his ancestors. After the
establishment of the Goths in Aquitain, and the passage of the Vandals
into Africa, the Suevi, who had fixed their kingdom in Gallicia, aspired
to the conquest of Spain, and threatened to extinguish the feeble
remains of the Roman dominion. The provincials of Carthagena and
Tarragona, afflicted by a hostile invasion, represented their injuries
and their apprehensions. Count Fronto was despatched, in the name of
the emperor Avitus, with advantageous offers of peace and alliance; and
Theodoric interposed his weighty mediation, to declare, that, unless his
brother-in-law, the king of the Suevi, immediately retired, he should be
obliged to arm in the cause of justice and of Rome. "Tell him," replied
the haughty Rechiarius, "that I despise his friendship and his arms; but
that I shall soon try whether he will dare to expect my arrival under
the walls of Thoulouse." Such a challenge urged Theodoric to prevent
the bold designs of his enemy; he passed the Pyrenees at the head of
the Visigoths: the Franks and Burgundians served under his standard; and
though he professed himself the dutiful servant of Avitus, he privately
stipulated, for himself and his successors, the absolute possession
of his Spanish conquests. The two armies, or rather the two nations,
encountered each other on the banks of the River Urbicus, about twelve
miles from Astorga; and the decisive victory of the Goths appeared for
a while to have extirpated the name and kingdom of the Suevi. From the
field of battle Theodoric advanced to Braga, their metropolis, which
still retained the splendid vestiges of its ancient commerce and
dignity. His entrance was not polluted with blood; and the Goths
respected the chastity of their female captives, more especially of the
consecrated virgins: but the greatest part of the clergy and people were
made slaves, and even the churches and altars were confounded in the
universal pillage. The unfortunate king of the Suevi had escaped to one
of the ports of the ocean; but the obstinacy of the winds opposed his
flight: he was delivered to his implacable rival; and Rechiarius, who
neither desired nor expected mercy, received, with manly constancy,
the death which he would probably have inflicted. After this bloody
sacrifice to policy or resentment, Theodoric carried his victorious arms
as far as Merida, the principal town of Lusitania, without meeting any
resistance, except from the miraculous powers of St. Eulalia; but he was
stopped in the full career of success, and recalled from Spain before he
could provide for the security of his conquests. In his retreat towards
the Pyrenees, he revenged his disappointment on the country through
which he passed; and, in the sack of Pollentia and Astorga, he showed
himself a faithless ally, as well as a cruel enemy. Whilst the king of
the Visigoths fought and vanquished in the name of Avitus, the reign
of Avitus had expired; and both the honor and the interest of Theodoric
were deeply wounded by the disgrace of a friend, whom he had seated on
the throne of the Western empire.



Chapter XXXVI: Total Extinction Of The Western Empire.--Part II.

The pressing solicitations of the senate and people persuaded the
emperor Avitus to fix his residence at Rome, and to accept the
consulship for the ensuing year. On the first day of January, his
son-in-law, Sidonius Apollinaris, celebrated his praises in a panegyric
of six hundred verses; but this composition, though it was rewarded with
a brass statue, seems to contain a very moderate proportion, either
of genius or of truth. The poet, if we may degrade that sacred name,
exaggerates the merit of a sovereign and a father; and his prophecy of a
long and glorious reign was soon contradicted by the event. Avitus, at a
time when the Imperial dignity was reduced to a preeminence of toil and
danger, indulged himself in the pleasures of Italian luxury: age had not
extinguished his amorous inclinations; and he is accused of insulting,
with indiscreet and ungenerous raillery, the husbands whose wives he had
seduced or violated. But the Romans were not inclined either to excuse
his faults or to acknowledge his virtues. The several parts of the
empire became every day more alienated from each other; and the stranger
of Gaul was the object of popular hatred and contempt. The senate
asserted their legitimate claim in the election of an emperor; and their
authority, which had been originally derived from the old constitution,
was again fortified by the actual weakness of a declining monarchy. Yet
even such a monarchy might have resisted the votes of an unarmed senate,
if their discontent had not been supported, or perhaps inflamed, by the
Count Ricimer, one of the principal commanders of the Barbarian troops,
who formed the military defence of Italy. The daughter of Wallia, king
of the Visigoths, was the mother of Ricimer; but he was descended, on
the father's side, from the nation of the Suevi; his pride or patriotism
might be exasperated by the misfortunes of his countrymen; and he
obeyed, with reluctance, an emperor in whose elevation he had not been
consulted. His faithful and important services against the common enemy
rendered him still more formidable; and, after destroying on the coast
of Corsica a fleet of Vandals, which consisted of sixty galleys, Ricimer
returned in triumph with the appellation of the Deliverer of Italy. He
chose that moment to signify to Avitus, that his reign was at an end;
and the feeble emperor, at a distance from his Gothic allies, was
compelled, after a short and unavailing struggle to abdicate the purple.
By the clemency, however, or the contempt, of Ricimer, he was permitted
to descend from the throne to the more desirable station of bishop of
Placentia: but the resentment of the senate was still unsatisfied; and
their inflexible severity pronounced the sentence of his death He fled
towards the Alps, with the humble hope, not of arming the Visigoths in
his cause, but of securing his person and treasures in the sanctuary of
Julian, one of the tutelar saints of Auvergne. Disease, or the hand of
the executioner, arrested him on the road; yet his remains were decently
transported to Brivas, or Brioude, in his native province, and he
reposed at the feet of his holy patron. Avitus left only one daughter,
the wife of Sidonius Apollinaris, who inherited the patrimony of his
father-in-law; lamenting, at the same time, the disappointment of his
public and private expectations. His resentment prompted him to join, or
at least to countenance, the measures of a rebellious faction in Gaul;
and the poet had contracted some guilt, which it was incumbent on him to
expiate, by a new tribute of flattery to the succeeding emperor.

The successor of Avitus presents the welcome discovery of a great and
heroic character, such as sometimes arise, in a degenerate age, to
vindicate the honor of the human species. The emperor Majorian has
deserved the praises of his contemporaries, and of posterity; and
these praises may be strongly expressed in the words of a judicious and
disinterested historian: "That he was gentle to his subjects; that he
was terrible to his enemies; and that he excelled, in every virtue,
_all_ his predecessors who had reigned over the Romans." Such a
testimony may justify at least the panegyric of Sidonius; and we may
acquiesce in the assurance, that, although the obsequious orator would
have flattered, with equal zeal, the most worthless of princes, the
extraordinary merit of his object confined him, on this occasion,
within the bounds of truth. Majorian derived his name from his maternal
grandfather, who, in the reign of the great Theodosius, had commanded
the troops of the Illyrian frontier. He gave his daughter in marriage
to the father of Majorian, a respectable officer, who administered the
revenues of Gaul with skill and integrity; and generously preferred the
friendship of Ætius to the tempting offer of an insidious court. His
son, the future emperor, who was educated in the profession of arms,
displayed, from his early youth, intrepid courage, premature wisdom, and
unbounded liberality in a scanty fortune. He followed the standard of
Ætius, contributed to his success, shared, and sometimes eclipsed, his
glory, and at last excited the jealousy of the patrician, or rather of
his wife, who forced him to retire from the service. Majorian, after the
death of Ætius, was recalled and promoted; and his intimate connection
with Count Ricimer was the immediate step by which he ascended the
throne of the Western empire. During the vacancy that succeeded the
abdication of Avitus, the ambitious Barbarian, whose birth excluded him
from the Imperial dignity, governed Italy with the title of Patrician;
resigned to his friend the conspicuous station of master-general of the
cavalry and infantry; and, after an interval of some months, consented
to the unanimous wish of the Romans, whose favor Majorian had solicited
by a recent victory over the Alemanni. He was invested with the purple
at Ravenna: and the epistle which he addressed to the senate, will best
describe his situation and his sentiments. "Your election, Conscript
Fathers! and the ordinance of the most valiant army, have made me your
emperor. May the propitious Deity direct and prosper the counsels
and events of my administration, to your advantage and to the public
welfare! For my own part, I did not aspire, I have submitted to reign;
nor should I have discharged the obligations of a citizen if I had
refused, with base and selfish ingratitude, to support the weight of
those labors, which were imposed by the republic. Assist, therefore, the
prince whom you have made; partake the duties which you have enjoined;
and may our common endeavors promote the happiness of an empire, which
I have accepted from your hands. Be assured, that, in our times, justice
shall resume her ancient vigor, and that virtue shall become, not only
innocent, but meritorious. Let none, except the authors themselves,
be apprehensive of _delations_, which, as a subject, I have always
condemned, and, as a prince, will severely punish. Our own vigilance,
and that of our father, the patrician Ricimer, shall regulate all
military affairs, and provide for the safety of the Roman world, which
we have saved from foreign and domestic enemies. You now understand
the maxims of my government; you may confide in the faithful love and
sincere assurances of a prince who has formerly been the companion of
your life and dangers; who still glories in the name of senator, and
who is anxious that you should never repent the judgment which you have
pronounced in his favor." The emperor, who, amidst the ruins of the
Roman world, revived the ancient language of law and liberty, which
Trajan would not have disclaimed, must have derived those generous
sentiments from his own heart; since they were not suggested to his
imitation by the customs of his age, or the example of his predecessors.

The private and public actions of Majorian are very imperfectly known:
but his laws, remarkable for an original cast of thought and expression,
faithfully represent the character of a sovereign who loved his people,
who sympathized in their distress, who had studied the causes of the
decline of the empire, and who was capable of applying (as far as such
reformation was practicable) judicious and effectual remedies to the
public disorders. His regulations concerning the finances manifestly
tended to remove, or at least to mitigate, the most intolerable
grievances. I. From the first hour of his reign, he was solicitous
(I translate his own words) to relieve the _weary_ fortunes of the
provincials, oppressed by the accumulated weight of indictions and
superindictions. With this view he granted a universal amnesty, a final
and absolute discharge of all arrears of tribute, of all debts, which,
under any pretence, the fiscal officers might demand from the people.
This wise dereliction of obsolete, vexatious, and unprofitable claims,
improved and purified the sources of the public revenue; and the subject
who could now look back without despair, might labor with hope and
gratitude for himself and for his country. II. In the assessment and
collection of taxes, Majorian restored the ordinary jurisdiction of the
provincial magistrates; and suppressed the extraordinary commissions
which had been introduced, in the name of the emperor himself, or of the
Prætorian præfects. The favorite servants, who obtained such irregular
powers, were insolent in their behavior, and arbitrary in their demands:
they affected to despise the subordinate tribunals, and they were
discontented, if their fees and profits did not twice exceed the sum
which they condescended to pay into the treasury. One instance of their
extortion would appear incredible, were it not authenticated by the
legislator himself. They exacted the whole payment in gold: but they
refused the current coin of the empire, and would accept only such
ancient pieces as were stamped with the names of Faustina or the
Antonines. The subject, who was unprovided with these curious medals,
had recourse to the expedient of compounding with their rapacious
demands; or if he succeeded in the research, his imposition was doubled,
according to the weight and value of the money of former times. III.
"The municipal corporations, (says the emperor,) the lesser senates, (so
antiquity has justly styled them,) deserve to be considered as the heart
of the cities, and the sinews of the republic. And yet so low are
they now reduced, by the injustice of magistrates and the venality of
collectors, that many of their members, renouncing their dignity and
their country, have taken refuge in distant and obscure exile." He
urges, and even compels, their return to their respective cities; but
he removes the grievance which had forced them to desert the exercise of
their municipal functions. They are directed, under the authority of the
provincial magistrates, to resume their office of levying the tribute;
but, instead of being made responsible for the whole sum assessed on
their district, they are only required to produce a regular account of
the payments which they have actually received, and of the defaulters
who are still indebted to the public. IV. But Majorian was not ignorant
that these corporate bodies were too much inclined to retaliate the
injustice and oppression which they had suffered; and he therefore
revives the useful office of the _defenders of cities_. He exhorts the
people to elect, in a full and free assembly, some man of discretion and
integrity, who would dare to assert their privileges, to represent their
grievances, to protect the poor from the tyranny of the rich, and to
inform the emperor of the abuses that were committed under the sanction
of his name and authority.

The spectator who casts a mournful view over the ruins of ancient
Rome, is tempted to accuse the memory of the Goths and Vandals, for
the mischief which they had neither leisure, nor power, nor perhaps
inclination, to perpetrate. The tempest of war might strike some
lofty turrets to the ground; but the destruction which undermined the
foundations of those massy fabrics was prosecuted, slowly and silently,
during a period of ten centuries; and the motives of interest, that
afterwards operated without shame or control, were severely checked by
the taste and spirit of the emperor Majorian. The decay of the city
had gradually impaired the value of the public works. The circus and
theatres might still excite, but they seldom gratified, the desires of
the people: the temples, which had escaped the zeal of the Christians,
were no longer inhabited, either by gods or men; the diminished
crowds of the Romans were lost in the immense space of their baths and
porticos; and the stately libraries and halls of justice became useless
to an indolent generation, whose repose was seldom disturbed, either
by study or business. The monuments of consular, or Imperial, greatness
were no longer revered, as the immortal glory of the capital: they were
only esteemed as an inexhaustible mine of materials, cheaper, and more
convenient than the distant quarry. Specious petitions were continually
addressed to the easy magistrates of Rome, which stated the want of
stones or bricks, for some necessary service: the fairest forms of
architecture were rudely defaced, for the sake of some paltry, or
pretended, repairs; and the degenerate Romans, who converted the spoil
to their own emolument, demolished, with sacrilegious hands, the labors
of their ancestors. Majorian, who had often sighed over the desolation
of the city, applied a severe remedy to the growing evil. He reserved
to the prince and senate the sole cognizance of the extreme cases which
might justify the destruction of an ancient edifice; imposed a fine of
fifty pounds of gold (two thousand pounds sterling) on every magistrate
who should presume to grant such illegal and scandalous license, and
threatened to chastise the criminal obedience of their subordinate
officers, by a severe whipping, and the amputation of both their hands.
In the last instance, the legislator might seem to forget the proportion
of guilt and punishment; but his zeal arose from a generous principle,
and Majorian was anxious to protect the monuments of those ages, in
which he would have desired and deserved to live. The emperor conceived,
that it was his interest to increase the number of his subjects; and
that it was his duty to guard the purity of the marriage-bed: but the
means which he employed to accomplish these salutary purposes are of
an ambiguous, and perhaps exceptionable, kind. The pious maids, who
consecrated their virginity to Christ, were restrained from taking the
veil till they had reached their fortieth year. Widows under that age
were compelled to form a second alliance within the term of five years,
by the forfeiture of half their wealth to their nearest relations, or to
the state. Unequal marriages were condemned or annulled. The punishment
of confiscation and exile was deemed so inadequate to the guilt of
adultery, that, if the criminal returned to Italy, he might, by the
express declaration of Majorian, be slain with impunity.

While the emperor Majorian assiduously labored to restore the happiness
and virtue of the Romans, he encountered the arms of Genseric, from his
character and situation their most formidable enemy. A fleet of Vandals
and Moors landed at the mouth of the Liris, or Garigliano; but the
Imperial troops surprised and attacked the disorderly Barbarians, who
were encumbered with the spoils of Campania; they were chased with
slaughter to their ships, and their leader, the king's brother-in-law,
was found in the number of the slain. Such vigilance might announce the
character of the new reign; but the strictest vigilance, and the most
numerous forces, were insufficient to protect the long-extended coast
of Italy from the depredations of a naval war. The public opinion had
imposed a nobler and more arduous task on the genius of Majorian. Rome
expected from him alone the restitution of Africa; and the design, which
he formed, of attacking the Vandals in their new settlements, was the
result of bold and judicious policy. If the intrepid emperor could have
infused his own spirit into the youth of Italy; if he could have
revived in the field of Mars, the manly exercises in which he had always
surpassed his equals; he might have marched against Genseric at the
head of a _Roman_ army. Such a reformation of national manners might
be embraced by the rising generation; but it is the misfortune of those
princes who laboriously sustain a declining monarchy, that, to obtain
some immediate advantage, or to avert some impending danger, they are
forced to countenance, and even to multiply, the most pernicious abuses.
Majorian, like the weakest of his predecessors, was reduced to the
disgraceful expedient of substituting Barbarian auxiliaries in the place
of his unwarlike subjects: and his superior abilities could only be
displayed in the vigor and dexterity with which he wielded a dangerous
instrument, so apt to recoil on the hand that used it. Besides the
confederates, who were already engaged in the service of the empire, the
fame of his liberality and valor attracted the nations of the Danube,
the Borysthenes, and perhaps of the Tanais. Many thousands of the
bravest subjects of Attila, the Gepidæ, the Ostrogoths, the Rugians, the
Burgundians, the Suevi, the Alani, assembled in the plains of Liguria;
and their formidable strength was balanced by their mutual animosities.
They passed the Alps in a severe winter. The emperor led the way, on
foot, and in complete armor; sounding, with his long staff, the depth of
the ice, or snow, and encouraging the Scythians, who complained of the
extreme cold, by the cheerful assurance, that they should be satisfied
with the heat of Africa. The citizens of Lyons had presumed to shut
their gates; they soon implored, and experienced, the clemency of
Majorian. He vanquished Theodoric in the field; and admitted to his
friendship and alliance a king whom he had found not unworthy of his
arms. The beneficial, though precarious, reunion of the greater part of
Gaul and Spain, was the effect of persuasion, as well as of force; and
the independent Bagaudæ, who had escaped, or resisted, the oppression,
of former reigns, were disposed to confide in the virtues of Majorian.
His camp was filled with Barbarian allies; his throne was supported by
the zeal of an affectionate people; but the emperor had foreseen, that
it was impossible, without a maritime power, to achieve the conquest of
Africa. In the first Punic war, the republic had exerted such incredible
diligence, that, within sixty days after the first stroke of the axe
had been given in the forest, a fleet of one hundred and sixty galleys
proudly rode at anchor in the sea. Under circumstances much less
favorable, Majorian equalled the spirit and perseverance of the
ancient Romans. The woods of the Apennine were felled; the arsenals and
manufactures of Ravenna and Misenum were restored; Italy and Gaul vied
with each other in liberal contributions to the public service; and
the Imperial navy of three hundred large galleys, with an adequate
proportion of transports and smaller vessels, was collected in the
secure and capacious harbor of Carthagena in Spain. The intrepid
countenance of Majorian animated his troops with a confidence of
victory; and, if we might credit the historian Procopius, his courage
sometimes hurried him beyond the bounds of prudence. Anxious to
explore, with his own eyes, the state of the Vandals, he ventured, after
disguising the color of his hair, to visit Carthage, in the character
of his own ambassador: and Genseric was afterwards mortified by the
discovery, that he had entertained and dismissed the emperor of the
Romans. Such an anecdote may be rejected as an improbable fiction; but
it is a fiction which would not have been imagined, unless in the life
of a hero.



Chapter XXXVI: Total Extinction Of The Western Empire.--Part III.

Without the help of a personal interview, Genseric was sufficiently
acquainted with the genius and designs of his adversary. He practiced
his customary arts of fraud and delay, but he practiced them without
success. His applications for peace became each hour more submissive,
and perhaps more sincere; but the inflexible Majorian had adopted the
ancient maxim, that Rome could not be safe, as long as Carthage existed
in a hostile state. The king of the Vandals distrusted the valor of
his native subjects, who were enervated by the luxury of the South; he
suspected the fidelity of the vanquished people, who abhorred him as an
Arian tyrant; and the desperate measure, which he executed, of reducing
Mauritania into a desert, could not defeat the operations of the Roman
emperor, who was at liberty to land his troops on any part of the
African coast. But Genseric was saved from impending and inevitable ruin
by the treachery of some powerful subjects, envious, or apprehensive,
of their master's success. Guided by their secret intelligence, he
surprised the unguarded fleet in the Bay of Carthagena: many of the
ships were sunk, or taken, or burnt; and the preparations of three years
were destroyed in a single day. After this event, the behavior of the
two antagonists showed them superior to their fortune. The Vandal,
instead of being elated by this accidental victory, immediately renewed
his solicitations for peace. The emperor of the West, who was capable
of forming great designs, and of supporting heavy disappointments,
consented to a treaty, or rather to a suspension of arms; in the full
assurance that, before he could restore his navy, he should be supplied
with provocations to justify a second war. Majorian returned to Italy,
to prosecute his labors for the public happiness; and, as he was
conscious of his own integrity, he might long remain ignorant of the
dark conspiracy which threatened his throne and his life. The recent
misfortune of Carthagena sullied the glory which had dazzled the eyes of
the multitude; almost every description of civil and military officers
were exasperated against the Reformer, since they all derived some
advantage from the abuses which he endeavored to suppress; and the
patrician Ricimer impelled the inconstant passions of the Barbarians
against a prince whom he esteemed and hated. The virtues of Majorian
could not protect him from the impetuous sedition, which broke out in
the camp near Tortona, at the foot of the Alps. He was compelled to
abdicate the Imperial purple: five days after his abdication, it was
reported that he died of a dysentery; and the humble tomb, which covered
his remains, was consecrated by the respect and gratitude of succeeding
generations. The private character of Majorian inspired love and
respect. Malicious calumny and satire excited his indignation, or, if he
himself were the object, his contempt; but he protected the freedom of
wit, and, in the hours which the emperor gave to the familiar society
of his friends, he could indulge his taste for pleasantry, without
degrading the majesty of his rank.

It was not, perhaps, without some regret, that Ricimer sacrificed his
friend to the interest of his ambition: but he resolved, in a second
choice, to avoid the imprudent preference of superior virtue and merit.
At his command, the obsequious senate of Rome bestowed the Imperial
title on Libius Severus, who ascended the throne of the West without
emerging from the obscurity of a private condition. History has scarcely
deigned to notice his birth, his elevation, his character, or his death.
Severus expired, as soon as his life became inconvenient to his patron;
and it would be useless to discriminate his nominal reign in the vacant
interval of six years, between the death of Majorian and the elevation
of Anthemius. During that period, the government was in the hands of
Ricimer alone; and, although the modest Barbarian disclaimed the name
of king, he accumulated treasures, formed a separate army, negotiated
private alliances, and ruled Italy with the same independent and
despotic authority, which was afterwards exercised by Odoacer and
Theodoric. But his dominions were bounded by the Alps; and two Roman
generals, Marcellinus and Ægidius, maintained their allegiance to the
republic, by rejecting, with disdain, the phantom which he styled an
emperor. Marcellinus still adhered to the old religion; and the devout
Pagans, who secretly disobeyed the laws of the church and state,
applauded his profound skill in the science of divination. But he
possessed the more valuable qualifications of learning, virtue, and
courage; the study of the Latin literature had improved his taste; and
his military talents had recommended him to the esteem and confidence
of the great Ætius, in whose ruin he was involved. By a timely flight,
Marcellinus escaped the rage of Valentinian, and boldly asserted his
liberty amidst the convulsions of the Western empire. His voluntary, or
reluctant, submission to the authority of Majorian, was rewarded by
the government of Sicily, and the command of an army, stationed in
that island to oppose, or to attack, the Vandals; but his Barbarian
mercenaries, after the emperor's death, were tempted to revolt by
the artful liberality of Ricimer. At the head of a band of faithful
followers, the intrepid Marcellinus occupied the province of Dalmatia,
assumed the title of patrician of the West, secured the love of his
subjects by a mild and equitable reign, built a fleet which claimed the
dominion of the Adriatic, and alternately alarmed the coasts of Italy
and of Africa. Ægidius, the master-general of Gaul, who equalled, or at
least who imitated, the heroes of ancient Rome, proclaimed his immortal
resentment against the assassins of his beloved master. A brave and
numerous army was attached to his standard: and, though he was prevented
by the arts of Ricimer, and the arms of the Visigoths, from marching to
the gates of Rome, he maintained his independent sovereignty beyond the
Alps, and rendered the name of Ægidius, respectable both in peace and
war. The Franks, who had punished with exile the youthful follies of
Childeric, elected the Roman general for their king: his vanity, rather
than his ambition, was gratified by that singular honor; and when the
nation, at the end of four years, repented of the injury which they
had offered to the Merovingian family, he patiently acquiesced in the
restoration of the lawful prince. The authority of Ægidius ended only
with his life, and the suspicions of poison and secret violence, which
derived some countenance from the character of Ricimer, were eagerly
entertained by the passionate credulity of the Gauls.

The kingdom of Italy, a name to which the Western empire was gradually
reduced, was afflicted, under the reign of Ricimer, by the incessant
depredations of the Vandal pirates. In the spring of each year, they
equipped a formidable navy in the port of Carthage; and Genseric
himself, though in a very advanced age, still commanded in person the
most important expeditions. His designs were concealed with impenetrable
secrecy, till the moment that he hoisted sail. When he was asked, by
his pilot, what course he should steer, "Leave the determination to
the winds, (replied the Barbarian, with pious arrogance;) _they_ will
transport us to the guilty coast, whose inhabitants have provoked the
divine justice;" but if Genseric himself deigned to issue more precise
orders, he judged the most wealthy to be the most criminal. The Vandals
repeatedly visited the coasts of Spain, Liguria, Tuscany, Campania,
Lucania, Bruttium, Apulia, Calabria, Venetia, Dalmatia, Epirus, Greece,
and Sicily: they were tempted to subdue the Island of Sardinia, so
advantageously placed in the centre of the Mediterranean; and their arms
spread desolation, or terror, from the columns of Hercules to the mouth
of the Nile. As they were more ambitious of spoil than of glory, they
seldom attacked any fortified cities, or engaged any regular troops in
the open field. But the celerity of their motions enabled them, almost
at the same time, to threaten and to attack the most distant objects,
which attracted their desires; and as they always embarked a sufficient
number of horses, they had no sooner landed, than they swept the
dismayed country with a body of light cavalry. Yet, notwithstanding the
example of their king, the native Vandals and Alani insensibly declined
this toilsome and perilous warfare; the hardy generation of the first
conquerors was almost extinguished, and their sons, who were born in
Africa, enjoyed the delicious baths and gardens which had been acquired
by the valor of their fathers. Their place was readily supplied by a
various multitude of Moors and Romans, of captives and outlaws; and
those desperate wretches, who had already violated the laws of their
country, were the most eager to promote the atrocious acts which
disgrace the victories of Genseric. In the treatment of his unhappy
prisoners, he sometimes consulted his avarice, and sometimes indulged
his cruelty; and the massacre of five hundred noble citizens of Zant
or Zacynthus, whose mangled bodies he cast into the Ionian Sea, was
imputed, by the public indignation, to his latest posterity.

Such crimes could not be excused by any provocations; but the war,
which the king of the Vandals prosecuted against the Roman empire was
justified by a specious and reasonable motive. The widow of Valentinian,
Eudoxia, whom he had led captive from Rome to Carthage, was the sole
heiress of the Theodosian house; her elder daughter, Eudocia, became
the reluctant wife of Hunneric, his eldest son; and the stern father,
asserting a legal claim, which could not easily be refuted or satisfied,
demanded a just proportion of the Imperial patrimony. An adequate, or at
least a valuable, compensation, was offered by the Eastern emperor, to
purchase a necessary peace. Eudoxia and her younger daughter, Placidia,
were honorably restored, and the fury of the Vandals was confined to the
limits of the Western empire. The Italians, destitute of a naval force,
which alone was capable of protecting their coasts, implored the aid of
the more fortunate nations of the East; who had formerly acknowledged,
in peace and war, the supremacy of Rome. But the perpetual divisions of
the two empires had alienated their interest and their inclinations; the
faith of a recent treaty was alleged; and the Western Romans, instead
of arms and ships, could only obtain the assistance of a cold and
ineffectual mediation. The haughty Ricimer, who had long struggled with
the difficulties of his situation, was at length reduced to address the
throne of Constantinople, in the humble language of a subject; and Italy
submitted, as the price and security to accept a master from the
choice of the emperor of the East. It is not the purpose of the present
chapter, or even of the present volume, to continue the distinct series
of the Byzantine history; but a concise view of the reign and character
of the emperor Leo, may explain the last efforts that were attempted to
save the falling empire of the West.

Since the death of the younger Theodosius, the domestic repose of
Constantinople had never been interrupted by war or faction. Pulcheria
had bestowed her hand, and the sceptre of the East, on the modest
virtue of Marcian: he gratefully reverenced her august rank and virgin
chastity; and, after her death, he gave his people the example of the
religious worship that was due to the memory of the Imperial saint.
Attentive to the prosperity of his own dominions, Marcian seemed to
behold, with indifference, the misfortunes of Rome; and the obstinate
refusal of a brave and active prince, to draw his sword against the
Vandals, was ascribed to a secret promise, which had formerly been
exacted from him when he was a captive in the power of Genseric. The
death of Marcian, after a reign of seven years, would have exposed the
East to the danger of a popular election; if the superior weight of a
single family had not been able to incline the balance in favor of the
candidate whose interest they supported. The patrician Aspar might
have placed the diadem on his own head, if he would have subscribed
the Nicene creed. During three generations, the armies of the East
were successively commanded by his father, by himself, and by his son
Ardaburius; his Barbarian guards formed a military force that overawed
the palace and the capital; and the liberal distribution of his immense
treasures rendered Aspar as popular as he was powerful. He recommended
the obscure name of Leo of Thrace, a military tribune, and the principal
steward of his household. His nomination was unanimously ratified by the
senate; and the servant of Aspar received the Imperial crown from the
hands of the patriarch or bishop, who was permitted to express, by this
unusual ceremony, the suffrage of the Deity. This emperor, the first
of the name of Leo, has been distinguished by the title of the _Great_;
from a succession of princes, who gradually fixed in the opinion of
the Greeks a very humble standard of heroic, or at least of royal,
perfection. Yet the temperate firmness with which Leo resisted the
oppression of his benefactor, showed that he was conscious of his duty
and of his prerogative. Aspar was astonished to find that his influence
could no longer appoint a præfect of Constantinople: he presumed to
reproach his sovereign with a breach of promise, and insolently shaking
his purple, "It is not proper, (said he,) that the man who is invested
with this garment, should be guilty of lying." "Nor is it proper,
(replied Leo,) that a prince should be compelled to resign his own
judgment, and the public interest, to the will of a subject." After this
extraordinary scene, it was impossible that the reconciliation of the
emperor and the patrician could be sincere; or, at least, that it could
be solid and permanent. An army of Isaurians was secretly levied, and
introduced into Constantinople; and while Leo undermined the authority,
and prepared the disgrace, of the family of Aspar, his mild and cautious
behavior restrained them from any rash and desperate attempts, which
might have been fatal to themselves, or their enemies. The measures
of peace and war were affected by this internal revolution. As long as
Aspar degraded the majesty of the throne, the secret correspondence of
religion and interest engaged him to favor the cause of Genseric. When
Leo had delivered himself from that ignominious servitude, he listened
to the complaints of the Italians; resolved to extirpate the tyranny of
the Vandals; and declared his alliance with his colleague, Anthemius,
whom he solemnly invested with the diadem and purple of the West.

The virtues of Anthemius have perhaps been magnified, since the Imperial
descent, which he could only deduce from the usurper Procopius, has been
swelled into a line of emperors. But the merit of his immediate parents,
their honors, and their riches, rendered Anthemius one of the most
illustrious subjects of the East. His father, Procopius, obtained, after
his Persian embassy, the rank of general and patrician; and the name
of Anthemius was derived from his maternal grandfather, the celebrated
præfect, who protected, with so much ability and success, the infant
reign of Theodosius. The grandson of the præfect was raised above the
condition of a private subject, by his marriage with Euphemia, the
daughter of the emperor Marcian. This splendid alliance, which might
supersede the necessity of merit, hastened the promotion of Anthemius to
the successive dignities of count, of master-general, of consul, and
of patrician; and his merit or fortune claimed the honors of a victory,
which was obtained on the banks of the Danube, over the Huns. Without
indulging an extravagant ambition, the son-in-law of Marcian might hope
to be his successor; but Anthemius supported the disappointment with
courage and patience; and his subsequent elevation was universally
approved by the public, who esteemed him worthy to reign, till
he ascended the throne. The emperor of the West marched from
Constantinople, attended by several counts of high distinction, and a
body of guards almost equal to the strength and numbers of a regular
army: he entered Rome in triumph, and the choice of Leo was confirmed
by the senate, the people, and the Barbarian confederates of Italy. The
solemn inauguration of Anthemius was followed by the nuptials of
his daughter and the patrician Ricimer; a fortunate event, which was
considered as the firmest security of the union and happiness of the
state. The wealth of two empires was ostentatiously displayed; and many
senators completed their ruin, by an expensive effort to disguise their
poverty. All serious business was suspended during this festival; the
courts of justice were shut; the streets of Rome, the theatres, the
places of public and private resort, resounded with hymeneal songs and
dances: and the royal bride, clothed in silken robes, with a crown on
her head, was conducted to the palace of Ricimer, who had changed
his military dress for the habit of a consul and a senator. On this
memorable occasion, Sidonius, whose early ambition had been so fatally
blasted, appeared as the orator of Auvergne, among the provincial
deputies who addressed the throne with congratulations or complaints.
The calends of January were now approaching, and the venal poet, who
had loved Avitus, and esteemed Majorian, was persuaded by his friends
to celebrate, in heroic verse, the merit, the felicity, the second
consulship, and the future triumphs, of the emperor Anthemius. Sidonius
pronounced, with assurance and success, a panegyric which is still
extant; and whatever might be the imperfections, either of the subject
or of the composition, the welcome flatterer was immediately rewarded
with the præfecture of Rome; a dignity which placed him among the
illustrious personages of the empire, till he wisely preferred the more
respectable character of a bishop and a saint.

The Greeks ambitiously commend the piety and catholic faith of the
emperor whom they gave to the West; nor do they forget to observe, that
when he left Constantinople, he converted his palace into the pious
foundation of a public bath, a church, and a hospital for old men. Yet
some suspicious appearances are found to sully the theological fame of
Anthemius. From the conversation of Philotheus, a Macedonian sectary, he
had imbibed the spirit of religious toleration; and the Heretics of Rome
would have assembled with impunity, if the bold and vehement censure
which Pope Hilary pronounced in the church of St. Peter, had not obliged
him to abjure the unpopular indulgence. Even the Pagans, a feeble and
obscure remnant, conceived some vain hopes, from the indifference,
or partiality, of Anthemius; and his singular friendship for the
philosopher Severus, whom he promoted to the consulship, was ascribed
to a secret project, of reviving the ancient worship of the gods. These
idols were crumbled into dust: and the mythology which had once been
the creed of nations, was so universally disbelieved, that it might be
employed without scandal, or at least without suspicion, by Christian
poets. Yet the vestiges of superstition were not absolutely obliterated,
and the festival of the Lupercalia, whose origin had preceded the
foundation of Rome, was still celebrated under the reign of Anthemius.
The savage and simple rites were expressive of an early state of society
before the invention of arts and agriculture. The rustic deities who
presided over the toils and pleasures of the pastoral life, Pan, Faunus,
and their train of satyrs, were such as the fancy of shepherds might
create, sportive, petulant, and lascivious; whose power was limited, and
whose malice was inoffensive. A goat was the offering the best adapted
to their character and attributes; the flesh of the victim was roasted
on willow spits; and the riotous youths, who crowded to the feast,
ran naked about the fields, with leather thongs in their hands,
communicating, as it was supposed, the blessing of fecundity to the
women whom they touched. The altar of Pan was erected, perhaps by
Evander the Arcadian, in a dark recess in the side of the Palantine
hill, watered by a perpetual fountain, and shaded by a hanging grove.
A tradition, that, in the same place, Romulus and Remus were suckled by
the wolf, rendered it still more sacred and venerable in the eyes of
the Romans; and this sylvan spot was gradually surrounded by the stately
edifices of the Forum. After the conversion of the Imperial city,
the Christians still continued, in the month of February, the annual
celebration of the Lupercalia; to which they ascribed a secret and
mysterious influence on the genial powers of the animal and vegetable
world. The bishops of Rome were solicitous to abolish a profane custom,
so repugnant to the spirit of Christianity; but their zeal was not
supported by the authority of the civil magistrate: the inveterate abuse
subsisted till the end of the fifth century, and Pope Gelasius, who
purified the capital from the last stain of idolatry, appeased by a
formal apology, the murmurs of the senate and people.



Chapter XXXVI: Total Extinction Of The Western Empire.--Part IV.

In all his public declarations, the emperor Leo assumes the authority,
and professes the affection, of a father, for his son Anthemius, with
whom he had divided the administration of the universe. The situation,
and perhaps the character, of Leo, dissuaded him from exposing his
person to the toils and dangers of an African war. But the powers of
the Eastern empire were strenuously exerted to deliver Italy and the
Mediterranean from the Vandals; and Genseric, who had so long oppressed
both the land and sea, was threatened from every side with a formidable
invasion. The campaign was opened by a bold and successful enterprise
of the præfect Heraclius. The troops of Egypt, Thebais, and Libya, were
embarked, under his command; and the Arabs, with a train of horses and
camels, opened the roads of the desert. Heraclius landed on the coast
of Tripoli, surprised and subdued the cities of that province, and
prepared, by a laborious march, which Cato had formerly executed, to
join the Imperial army under the walls of Carthage. The intelligence
of this loss extorted from Genseric some insidious and ineffectual
propositions of peace; but he was still more seriously alarmed by the
reconciliation of Marcellinus with the two empires. The independent
patrician had been persuaded to acknowledge the legitimate title of
Anthemius, whom he accompanied in his journey to Rome; the Dalmatian
fleet was received into the harbors of Italy; the active valor of
Marcellinus expelled the Vandals from the Island of Sardinia; and
the languid efforts of the West added some weight to the immense
preparations of the Eastern Romans. The expense of the naval armament,
which Leo sent against the Vandals, has been distinctly ascertained; and
the curious and instructive account displays the wealth of the declining
empire. The Royal demesnes, or private patrimony of the prince, supplied
seventeen thousand pounds of gold; forty-seven thousand pounds of gold,
and seven hundred thousand of silver, were levied and paid into the
treasury by the Prætorian præfects. But the cities were reduced to
extreme poverty; and the diligent calculation of fines and forfeitures,
as a valuable object of the revenue, does not suggest the idea of a just
or merciful administration. The whole expense, by whatsoever means
it was defrayed, of the African campaign, amounted to the sum of one
hundred and thirty thousand pounds of gold, about five millions two
hundred thousand pounds sterling, at a time when the value of money
appears, from the comparative price of corn, to have been somewhat
higher than in the present age. The fleet that sailed from
Constantinople to Carthage, consisted of eleven hundred and thirteen
ships, and the number of soldiers and mariners exceeded one hundred
thousand men. Basiliscus, the brother of the empress Vorina, was
intrusted with this important command. His sister, the wife of Leo, had
exaggerated the merit of his former exploits against the Scythians. But
the discovery of his guilt, or incapacity, was reserved for the
African war; and his friends could only save his military reputation by
asserting, that he had conspired with Aspar to spare Genseric, and to
betray the last hope of the Western empire.

Experience has shown, that the success of an invader most commonly
depends on the vigor and celerity of his operations. The strength and
sharpness of the first impression are blunted by delay; the health and
spirit of the troops insensibly languish in a distant climate; the naval
and military force, a mighty effort which perhaps can never be repeated,
is silently consumed; and every hour that is wasted in negotiation,
accustoms the enemy to contemplate and examine those hostile terrors,
which, on their first appearance, he deemed irresistible. The formidable
navy of Basiliscus pursued its prosperous navigation from the Thracian
Bosphorus to the coast of Africa. He landed his troops at Cape Bona, or
the promontory of Mercury, about forty miles from Carthage. The army of
Heraclius, and the fleet of Marcellinus, either joined or seconded the
Imperial lieutenant; and the Vandals who opposed his progress by sea or
land, were successively vanquished. If Basiliscus had seized the moment
of consternation, and boldly advanced to the capital, Carthage must have
surrendered, and the kingdom of the Vandals was extinguished. Genseric
beheld the danger with firmness, and eluded it with his veteran
dexterity. He protested, in the most respectful language, that he
was ready to submit his person, and his dominions, to the will of the
emperor; but he requested a truce of five days to regulate the terms
of his submission; and it was universally believed, that his secret
liberality contributed to the success of this public negotiation.
Instead of obstinately refusing whatever indulgence his enemy so
earnestly solicited, the guilty, or the credulous, Basiliscus consented
to the fatal truce; and his imprudent security seemed to proclaim, that
he already considered himself as the conqueror of Africa. During this
short interval, the wind became favorable to the designs of Genseric.
He manned his largest ships of war with the bravest of the Moors
and Vandals; and they towed after them many large barks, filled with
combustible materials. In the obscurity of the night, these destructive
vessels were impelled against the unguarded and unsuspecting fleet of
the Romans, who were awakened by the sense of their instant danger.
Their close and crowded order assisted the progress of the fire, which
was communicated with rapid and irresistible violence; and the noise
of the wind, the crackling of the flames, the dissonant cries of the
soldiers and mariners, who could neither command nor obey, increased
the horror of the nocturnal tumult. Whilst they labored to extricate
themselves from the fire-ships, and to save at least a part of the navy,
the galleys of Genseric assaulted them with temperate and disciplined
valor; and many of the Romans, who escaped the fury of the flames, were
destroyed or taken by the victorious Vandals. Among the events of that
disastrous night, the heroic, or rather desperate, courage of John,
one of the principal officers of Basiliscus, has rescued his name from
oblivion. When the ship, which he had bravely defended, was almost
consumed, he threw himself in his armor into the sea, disdainfully
rejected the esteem and pity of Genso, the son of Genseric, who pressed
him to accept honorable quarter, and sunk under the waves; exclaiming,
with his last breath, that he would never fall alive into the hands
of those impious dogs. Actuated by a far different spirit, Basiliscus,
whose station was the most remote from danger, disgracefully fled in the
beginning of the engagement, returned to Constantinople with the loss of
more than half of his fleet and army, and sheltered his guilty head
in the sanctuary of St. Sophia, till his sister, by her tears and
entreaties, could obtain his pardon from the indignant emperor.
Heraclius effected his retreat through the desert; Marcellinus retired
to Sicily, where he was assassinated, perhaps at the instigation
of Ricimer, by one of his own captains; and the king of the Vandals
expressed his surprise and satisfaction, that the Romans themselves
should remove from the world his most formidable antagonists. After the
failure of this great expedition, Genseric again became the tyrant of
the sea: the coasts of Italy, Greece, and Asia, were again exposed to
his revenge and avarice; Tripoli and Sardinia returned to his obedience;
he added Sicily to the number of his provinces; and before he died, in
the fulness of years and of glory, he beheld the final extinction of the
empire of the West.

During his long and active reign, the African monarch had studiously
cultivated the friendship of the Barbarians of Europe, whose arms he
might employ in a seasonable and effectual diversion against the two
empires. After the death of Attila, he renewed his alliance with the
Visigoths of Gaul; and the sons of the elder Theodoric, who successively
reigned over that warlike nation, were easily persuaded, by the sense
of interest, to forget the cruel affront which Genseric had inflicted on
their sister. The death of the emperor Majorian delivered Theodoric the
Second from the restraint of fear, and perhaps of honor; he violated
his recent treaty with the Romans; and the ample territory of Narbonne,
which he firmly united to his dominions, became the immediate reward of
his perfidy. The selfish policy of Ricimer encouraged him to invade the
provinces which were in the possession of Ægidius, his rival; but the
active count, by the defence of Arles, and the victory of Orleans, saved
Gaul, and checked, during his lifetime, the progress of the Visigoths.
Their ambition was soon rekindled; and the design of extinguishing the
Roman empire in Spain and Gaul was conceived, and almost completed,
in the reign of Euric, who assassinated his brother Theodoric, and
displayed, with a more savage temper, superior abilities, both in peace
and war. He passed the Pyrenees at the head of a numerous army, subdued
the cities of Saragossa and Pampeluna, vanquished in battle the martial
nobles of the Tarragonese province, carried his victorious arms into
the heart of Lusitania, and permitted the Suevi to hold the kingdom of
Gallicia under the Gothic monarchy of Spain. The efforts of Euric were
not less vigorous, or less successful, in Gaul; and throughout the
country that extends from the Pyrenees to the Rhone and the Loire,
Berry and Auvergne were the only cities, or dioceses, which refused
to acknowledge him as their master. In the defence of Clermont, their
principal town, the inhabitants of Auvergne sustained, with inflexible
resolution, the miseries of war, pestilence, and famine; and the
Visigoths, relinquishing the fruitless siege, suspended the hopes of
that important conquest. The youth of the province were animated by the
heroic, and almost incredible, valor of Ecdicius, the son of the emperor
Avitus, who made a desperate sally with only eighteen horsemen, boldly
attacked the Gothic army, and, after maintaining a flying skirmish,
retired safe and victorious within the walls of Clermont. His charity
was equal to his courage: in a time of extreme scarcity, four thousand
poor were fed at his expense; and his private influence levied an army
of Burgundians for the deliverance of Auvergne. From _his_ virtues alone
the faithful citizens of Gaul derived any hopes of safety or freedom;
and even such virtues were insufficient to avert the impending ruin of
their country, since they were anxious to learn, from his authority
and example, whether they should prefer the alternative of exile or
servitude. The public confidence was lost; the resources of the state
were exhausted; and the Gauls had too much reason to believe, that
Anthemius, who reigned in Italy, was incapable of protecting his
distressed subjects beyond the Alps. The feeble emperor could only
procure for their defence the service of twelve thousand British
auxiliaries. Riothamus, one of the independent kings, or chieftains, of
the island, was persuaded to transport his troops to the continent of
Gaul: he sailed up the Loire, and established his quarters in Berry,
where the people complained of these oppressive allies, till they were
destroyed or dispersed by the arms of the Visigoths.

One of the last acts of jurisdiction, which the Roman senate exercised
over their subjects of Gaul, was the trial and condemnation of Arvandus,
the Prætorian præfect. Sidonius, who rejoices that he lived under a
reign in which he might pity and assist a state criminal, has
expressed, with tenderness and freedom, the faults of his indiscreet
and unfortunate friend. From the perils which he had escaped, Arvandus
imbibed confidence rather than wisdom; and such was the various, though
uniform, imprudence of his behavior, that his prosperity must appear
much more surprising than his downfall. The second præfecture, which
he obtained within the term of five years, abolished the merit and
popularity of his preceding administration. His easy temper was
corrupted by flattery, and exasperated by opposition; he was forced to
satisfy his importunate creditors with the spoils of the province; his
capricious insolence offended the nobles of Gaul, and he sunk under the
weight of the public hatred. The mandate of his disgrace summoned him to
justify his conduct before the senate; and he passed the Sea of Tuscany
with a favorable wind, the presage, as he vainly imagined, of his future
fortunes. A decent respect was still observed for the _Prfectorian_
rank; and on his arrival at Rome, Arvandus was committed to the
hospitality, rather than to the custody, of Flavius Asellus, the count
of the sacred largesses, who resided in the Capitol. He was eagerly
pursued by his accusers, the four deputies of Gaul, who were all
distinguished by their birth, their dignities, or their eloquence.
In the name of a great province, and according to the forms of Roman
jurisprudence, they instituted a civil and criminal action, requiring
such restitution as might compensate the losses of individuals, and such
punishment as might satisfy the justice of the state. Their charges
of corrupt oppression were numerous and weighty; but they placed their
secret dependence on a letter which they had intercepted, and which they
could prove, by the evidence of his secretary, to have been dictated by
Arvandus himself. The author of this letter seemed to dissuade the king
of the Goths from a peace with the _Greek_ emperor: he suggested the
attack of the Britons on the Loire; and he recommended a division of
Gaul, according to the law of nations, between the Visigoths and
the Burgundians. These pernicious schemes, which a friend could only
palliate by the reproaches of vanity and indiscretion, were susceptible
of a treasonable interpretation; and the deputies had artfully resolved
not to produce their most formidable weapons till the decisive moment
of the contest. But their intentions were discovered by the zeal of
Sidonius. He immediately apprised the unsuspecting criminal of his
danger; and sincerely lamented, without any mixture of anger, the
haughty presumption of Arvandus, who rejected, and even resented, the
salutary advice of his friends. Ignorant of his real situation, Arvandus
showed himself in the Capitol in the white robe of a candidate, accepted
indiscriminate salutations and offers of service, examined the shops of
the merchants, the silks and gems, sometimes with the indifference of
a spectator, and sometimes with the attention of a purchaser; and
complained of the times, of the senate, of the prince, and of the delays
of justice. His complaints were soon removed. An early day was fixed for
his trial; and Arvandus appeared, with his accusers, before a numerous
assembly of the Roman senate. The mournful garb which they affected,
excited the compassion of the judges, who were scandalized by the gay
and splendid dress of their adversary: and when the præfect Arvandus,
with the first of the Gallic deputies, were directed to take their
places on the senatorial benches, the same contrast of pride and modesty
was observed in their behavior. In this memorable judgment, which
presented a lively image of the old republic, the Gauls exposed, with
force and freedom, the grievances of the province; and as soon as the
minds of the audience were sufficiently inflamed, they recited the
fatal epistle. The obstinacy of Arvandus was founded on the strange
supposition, that a subject could not be convicted of treason, unless he
had actually conspired to assume the purple. As the paper was read,
he repeatedly, and with a loud voice, acknowledged it for his genuine
composition; and his astonishment was equal to his dismay, when the
unanimous voice of the senate declared him guilty of a capital offence.
By their decree, he was degraded from the rank of a præfect to the
obscure condition of a plebeian, and ignominiously dragged by servile
hands to the public prison. After a fortnight's adjournment, the senate
was again convened to pronounce the sentence of his death; but while he
expected, in the Island of Æsculapius, the expiration of the thirty
days allowed by an ancient law to the vilest malefactors, his friends
interposed, the emperor Anthemius relented, and the præfect of Gaul
obtained the milder punishment of exile and confiscation. The faults of
Arvandus might deserve compassion; but the impunity of Seronatus accused
the justice of the republic, till he was condemned and executed, on
the complaint of the people of Auvergne. That flagitious minister, the
Catiline of his age and country, held a secret correspondence with the
Visigoths, to betray the province which he oppressed: his industry
was continually exercised in the discovery of new taxes and obsolete
offences; and his extravagant vices would have inspired contempt, if
they had not excited fear and abhorrence.

Such criminals were not beyond the reach of justice; but whatever might
be the guilt of Ricimer, that powerful Barbarian was able to contend
or to negotiate with the prince, whose alliance he had condescended to
accept. The peaceful and prosperous reign which Anthemius had promised
to the West, was soon clouded by misfortune and discord. Ricimer,
apprehensive, or impatient, of a superior, retired from Rome, and fixed
his residence at Milan; an advantageous situation either to invite or
to repel the warlike tribes that were seated between the Alps and the
Danube. Italy was gradually divided into two independent and hostile
kingdoms; and the nobles of Liguria, who trembled at the near approach
of a civil war, fell prostrate at the feet of the patrician, and
conjured him to spare their unhappy country. "For my own part," replied
Ricimer, in a tone of insolent moderation, "I am still inclined to
embrace the friendship of the Galatian; but who will undertake to
appease his anger, or to mitigate the pride, which always rises in
proportion to our submission?" They informed him, that Epiphanius,
bishop of Pavia, united the wisdom of the serpent with the innocence
of the dove; and appeared confident, that the eloquence of such an
ambassador must prevail against the strongest opposition, either of
interest or passion. Their recommendation was approved; and Epiphanius,
assuming the benevolent office of mediation, proceeded without delay
to Rome, where he was received with the honors due to his merit and
reputation. The oration of a bishop in favor of peace may be easily
supposed; he argued, that, in all possible circumstances, the
forgiveness of injuries must be an act of mercy, or magnanimity, or
prudence; and he seriously admonished the emperor to avoid a contest
with a fierce Barbarian, which might be fatal to himself, and must
be ruinous to his dominions. Anthemius acknowledged the truth of his
maxims; but he deeply felt, with grief and indignation, the behavior
of Ricimer, and his passion gave eloquence and energy to his discourse.
"What favors," he warmly exclaimed, "have we refused to this ungrateful
man? What provocations have we not endured! Regardless of the majesty of
the purple, I gave my daughter to a Goth; I sacrificed my own blood to
the safety of the republic. The liberality which ought to have secured
the eternal attachment of Ricimer has exasperated him against his
benefactor. What wars has he not excited against the empire! How often
has he instigated and assisted the fury of hostile nations! Shall I now
accept his perfidious friendship? Can I hope that he will respect the
engagements of a treaty, who has already violated the duties of a son?"
But the anger of Anthemius evaporated in these passionate exclamations:
he insensibly yielded to the proposals of Epiphanius; and the bishop
returned to his diocese with the satisfaction of restoring the peace of
Italy, by a reconciliation, of which the sincerity and continuance might
be reasonably suspected. The clemency of the emperor was extorted from
his weakness; and Ricimer suspended his ambitious designs till he had
secretly prepared the engines with which he resolved to subvert the
throne of Anthemius. The mask of peace and moderation was then thrown
aside. The army of Ricimer was fortified by a numerous reenforcement
of Burgundians and Oriental Suevi: he disclaimed all allegiance to the
Greek emperor, marched from Milan to the Gates of Rome, and fixing
his camp on the banks of the Anio, impatiently expected the arrival of
Olybrius, his Imperial candidate.

The senator Olybrius, of the Anician family, might esteem himself the
lawful heir of the Western empire. He had married Placidia, the younger
daughter of Valentinian, after she was restored by Genseric; who still
detained her sister Eudoxia, as the wife, or rather as the captive,
of his son. The king of the Vandals supported, by threats and
solicitations, the fair pretensions of his Roman ally; and assigned, as
one of the motives of the war, the refusal of the senate and people to
acknowledge their lawful prince, and the unworthy preference which they
had given to a stranger. The friendship of the public enemy might
render Olybrius still more unpopular to the Italians; but when Ricimer
meditated the ruin of the emperor Anthemius, he tempted, with the
offer of a diadem, the candidate who could justify his rebellion by an
illustrious name and a royal alliance. The husband of Placidia, who,
like most of his ancestors, had been invested with the consular dignity,
might have continued to enjoy a secure and splendid fortune in the
peaceful residence of Constantinople; nor does he appear to have been
tormented by such a genius as cannot be amused or occupied, unless
by the administration of an empire. Yet Olybrius yielded to the
importunities of his friends, perhaps of his wife; rashly plunged
into the dangers and calamities of a civil war; and, with the secret
connivance of the emperor Leo, accepted the Italian purple, which was
bestowed, and resumed, at the capricious will of a Barbarian. He landed
without obstacle (for Genseric was master of the sea) either at Ravenna,
or the port of Ostia, and immediately proceeded to the camp of Ricimer,
where he was received as the sovereign of the Western world.

The patrician, who had extended his posts from the Anio to the Melvian
bridge, already possessed two quarters of Rome, the Vatican and the
Janiculum, which are separated by the Tyber from the rest of the
city; and it may be conjectured, that an assembly of seceding senators
imitated, in the choice of Olybrius, the forms of a legal election.
But the body of the senate and people firmly adhered to the cause of
Anthemius; and the more effectual support of a Gothic army enabled him
to prolong his reign, and the public distress, by a resistance of three
months, which produced the concomitant evils of famine and pestilence.
At length Ricimer made a furious assault on the bridge of Hadrian, or
St. Angelo; and the narrow pass was defended with equal valor by the
Goths, till the death of Gilimer, their leader. The victorious troops,
breaking down every barrier, rushed with irresistible violence into
the heart of the city, and Rome (if we may use the language of a
contemporary pope) was subverted by the civil fury of Anthemius and
Ricimer. The unfortunate Anthemius was dragged from his concealment, and
inhumanly massacred by the command of his son-in-law; who thus added a
third, or perhaps a fourth, emperor to the number of his victims. The
soldiers, who united the rage of factious citizens with the savage
manners of Barbarians, were indulged, without control, in the license
of rapine and murder: the crowd of slaves and plebeians, who were
unconcerned in the event, could only gain by the indiscriminate pillage;
and the face of the city exhibited the strange contrast of stern cruelty
and dissolute intemperance. Forty days after this calamitous event, the
subject, not of glory, but of guilt, Italy was delivered, by a painful
disease, from the tyrant Ricimer, who bequeathed the command of his army
to his nephew Gundobald, one of the princes of the Burgundians. In the
same year all the principal actors in this great revolution were removed
from the stage; and the whole reign of Olybrius, whose death does not
betray any symptoms of violence, is included within the term of seven
months. He left one daughter, the offspring of his marriage with
Placidia; and the family of the great Theodosius, transplanted from
Spain to Constantinople, was propagated in the female line as far as the
eighth generation.



Chapter XXXVI: Total Extinction Of The Western Empire.--Part V.

Whilst the vacant throne of Italy was abandoned to lawless Barbarians,
the election of a new colleague was seriously agitated in the council
of Leo. The empress Verina, studious to promote the greatness of her own
family, had married one of her nieces to Julius Nepos, who succeeded
his uncle Marcellinus in the sovereignty of Dalmatia, a more solid
possession than the title which he was persuaded to accept, of Emperor
of the West. But the measures of the Byzantine court were so languid and
irresolute, that many months elapsed after the death of Anthemius, and
even of Olybrius, before their destined successor could show himself,
with a respectable force, to his Italian subjects. During that interval,
Glycerius, an obscure soldier, was invested with the purple by his
patron Gundobald; but the Burgundian prince was unable, or unwilling, to
support his nomination by a civil war: the pursuits of domestic ambition
recalled him beyond the Alps, and his client was permitted to exchange
the Roman sceptre for the bishopric of Salona. After extinguishing such
a competitor, the emperor Nepos was acknowledged by the senate, by
the Italians, and by the provincials of Gaul; his moral virtues, and
military talents, were loudly celebrated; and those who derived any
private benefit from his government, announced, in prophetic strains,
the restoration of the public felicity. Their hopes (if such hopes had
been entertained) were confounded within the term of a single year, and
the treaty of peace, which ceded Auvergne to the Visigoths, is the only
event of his short and inglorious reign. The most faithful subjects of
Gaul were sacrificed, by the Italian emperor, to the hope of domestic
security; but his repose was soon invaded by a furious sedition of
the Barbarian confederates, who, under the command of Orestes, their
general, were in full march from Rome to Ravenna. Nepos trembled
at their approach; and, instead of placing a just confidence in the
strength of Ravenna, he hastily escaped to his ships, and retired to his
Dalmatian principality, on the opposite coast of the Adriatic. By this
shameful abdication, he protracted his life about five years, in a
very ambiguous state, between an emperor and an exile, till he was
assassinated at Salona by the ungrateful Glycerius, who was translated,
perhaps as the reward of his crime, to the archbishopric of Milan.

The nations who had asserted their independence after the death of
Attila, were established, by the right of possession or conquest, in
the boundless countries to the north of the Danube; or in the Roman
provinces between the river and the Alps. But the bravest of their youth
enlisted in the army of _confederates_, who formed the defence and the
terror of Italy; and in this promiscuous multitude, the names of the
Heruli, the Scyrri, the Alani, the Turcilingi, and the Rugians, appear
to have predominated. The example of these warriors was imitated by
Orestes, the son of Tatullus, and the father of the last Roman emperor
of the West. Orestes, who has been already mentioned in this History,
had never deserted his country. His birth and fortunes rendered him one
of the most illustrious subjects of Pannonia. When that province was
ceded to the Huns, he entered into the service of Attila, his lawful
sovereign, obtained the office of his secretary, and was repeatedly sent
ambassador to Constantinople, to represent the person, and signify the
commands, of the imperious monarch. The death of that conqueror restored
him to his freedom; and Orestes might honorably refuse either to follow
the sons of Attila into the Scythian desert, or to obey the Ostrogoths,
who had usurped the dominion of Pannonia. He preferred the service of
the Italian princes, the successors of Valentinian; and as he possessed
the qualifications of courage, industry, and experience, he advanced
with rapid steps in the military profession, till he was elevated,
by the favor of Nepos himself, to the dignities of patrician, and
master-general of the troops. These troops had been long accustomed to
reverence the character and authority of Orestes, who affected their
manners, conversed with them in their own language, and was intimately
connected with their national chieftains, by long habits of familiarity
and friendship. At his solicitation they rose in arms against the
obscure Greek, who presumed to claim their obedience; and when Orestes,
from some secret motive, declined the purple, they consented, with the
same facility, to acknowledge his son Augustulus as the emperor of the
West. By the abdication of Nepos, Orestes had now attained the summit of
his ambitious hopes; but he soon discovered, before the end of the first
year, that the lessons of perjury and ingratitude, which a rebel must
inculcate, will be resorted to against himself; and that the precarious
sovereign of Italy was only permitted to choose, whether he would be
the slave, or the victim, of his Barbarian mercenaries. The dangerous
alliance of these strangers had oppressed and insulted the last
remains of Roman freedom and dignity. At each revolution, their pay and
privileges were augmented; but their insolence increased in a still more
extravagant degree; they envied the fortune of their brethren in Gaul,
Spain, and Africa, whose victorious arms had acquired an independent
and perpetual inheritance; and they insisted on their peremptory demand,
that a _third_ part of the lands of Italy should be immediately divided
among them. Orestes, with a spirit, which, in another situation, might
be entitled to our esteem, chose rather to encounter the rage of an
armed multitude, than to subscribe the ruin of an innocent people. He
rejected the audacious demand; and his refusal was favorable to the
ambition of Odoacer; a bold Barbarian, who assured his fellow-soldiers,
that, if they dared to associate under his command, they might soon
extort the justice which had been denied to their dutiful petitions.
From all the camps and garrisons of Italy, the confederates, actuated
by the same resentment and the same hopes, impatiently flocked to
the standard of this popular leader; and the unfortunate patrician,
overwhelmed by the torrent, hastily retreated to the strong city of
Pavia, the episcopal seat of the holy Epiphanites. Pavia was immediately
besieged, the fortifications were stormed, the town was pillaged; and
although the bishop might labor, with much zeal and some success, to
save the property of the church, and the chastity of female captives,
the tumult could only be appeased by the execution of Orestes. His
brother Paul was slain in an action near Ravenna; and the helpless
Augustulus, who could no longer command the respect, was reduced to
implore the clemency, of Odoacer.

That successful Barbarian was the son of Edecon; who, in some remarkable
transactions, particularly described in a preceding chapter, had been
the colleague of Orestes himself. The honor of an ambassador should be
exempt from suspicion; and Edecon had listened to a conspiracy against
the life of his sovereign. But this apparent guilt was expiated by his
merit or repentance; his rank was eminent and conspicuous; he enjoyed
the favor of Attila; and the troops under his command, who guarded,
in their turn, the royal village, consisted of a tribe of Scyrri, his
immediate and hereditary subjects. In the revolt of the nations, they
still adhered to the Huns; and more than twelve years afterwards, the
name of Edecon is honorably mentioned, in their unequal contests with
the Ostrogoths; which was terminated, after two bloody battles, by the
defeat and dispersion of the Scyrri. Their gallant leader, who did not
survive this national calamity, left two sons, Onulf and Odoacer, to
struggle with adversity, and to maintain as they might, by rapine or
service, the faithful followers of their exile. Onulf directed his steps
towards Constantinople, where he sullied, by the assassination of a
generous benefactor, the fame which he had acquired in arms. His brother
Odoacer led a wandering life among the Barbarians of Noricum, with a
mind and a fortune suited to the most desperate adventures; and when
he had fixed his choice, he piously visited the cell of Severinus, the
popular saint of the country, to solicit his approbation and blessing.
The lowness of the door would not admit the lofty stature of Odoacer:
he was obliged to stoop; but in that humble attitude the saint could
discern the symptoms of his future greatness; and addressing him in a
prophetic tone, "Pursue" (said he) "your design; proceed to Italy; you
will soon cast away this coarse garment of skins; and your wealth will
be adequate to the liberality of your mind." The Barbarian, whose daring
spirit accepted and ratified the prediction, was admitted into the
service of the Western empire, and soon obtained an honorable rank in
the guards. His manners were gradually polished, his military skill was
improved, and the confederates of Italy would not have elected him for
their general, unless the exploits of Odoacer had established a high
opinion of his courage and capacity. Their military acclamations saluted
him with the title of king; but he abstained, during his whole reign,
from the use of the purple and diadem, lest he should offend those
princes, whose subjects, by their accidental mixture, had formed the
victorious army, which time and policy might insensibly unite into a
great nation.

Royalty was familiar to the Barbarians, and the submissive people of
Italy was prepared to obey, without a murmur, the authority which he
should condescend to exercise as the vicegerent of the emperor of the
West. But Odoacer had resolved to abolish that useless and expensive
office; and such is the weight of antique prejudice, that it required
some boldness and penetration to discover the extreme facility of the
enterprise. The unfortunate Augustulus was made the instrument of his
own disgrace: he signified his resignation to the senate; and that
assembly, in their last act of obedience to a Roman prince, still
affected the spirit of freedom, and the forms of the constitution. An
epistle was addressed, by their unanimous decree, to the emperor Zeno,
the son-in-law and successor of Leo; who had lately been restored, after
a short rebellion, to the Byzantine throne. They solemnly "disclaim
the necessity, or even the wish, of continuing any longer the Imperial
succession in Italy; since, in their opinion, the majesty of a sole
monarch is sufficient to pervade and protect, at the same time, both
the East and the West. In their own name, and in the name of the people,
they consent that the seat of universal empire shall be transferred from
Rome to Constantinople; and they basely renounce the right of choosing
their master, the only vestige that yet remained of the authority which
had given laws to the world. The republic (they repeat that name without
a blush) might safely confide in the civil and military virtues of
Odoacer; and they humbly request, that the emperor would invest him
with the title of Patrician, and the administration of the _diocese_ of
Italy." The deputies of the senate were received at Constantinople with
some marks of displeasure and indignation: and when they were admitted
to the audience of Zeno, he sternly reproached them with their treatment
of the two emperors, Anthemius and Nepos, whom the East had successively
granted to the prayers of Italy. "The first" (continued he) "you have
murdered; the second you have expelled; but the second is still alive,
and whilst he lives he is your lawful sovereign." But the prudent Zeno
soon deserted the hopeless cause of his abdicated colleague. His vanity
was gratified by the title of sole emperor, and by the statues erected
to his honor in the several quarters of Rome; he entertained a friendly,
though ambiguous, correspondence with the _patrician_ Odoacer; and he
gratefully accepted the Imperial ensigns, the sacred ornaments of the
throne and palace, which the Barbarian was not unwilling to remove from
the sight of the people.

In the space of twenty years since the death of Valentinian, nine
emperors had successively disappeared; and the son of Orestes, a youth
recommended only by his beauty, would be the least entitled to the
notice of posterity, if his reign, which was marked by the extinction
of the Roman empire in the West, did not leave a memorable era in the
history of mankind. The patrician Orestes had married the daughter
of Count _Romulus_, of Petovio in Noricum: the name of _Augustus_,
notwithstanding the jealousy of power, was known at Aquileia as a
familiar surname; and the appellations of the two great founders, of
the city and of the monarchy, were thus strangely united in the last of
their successors. The son of Orestes assumed and disgraced the names
of Romulus Augustus; but the first was corrupted into Momyllus, by
the Greeks, and the second has been changed by the Latins into the
contemptible diminutive Augustulus. The life of this inoffensive youth
was spared by the generous clemency of Odoacer; who dismissed him, with
his whole family, from the Imperial palace, fixed his annual allowance
at six thousand pieces of gold, and assigned the castle of Lucullus,
in Campania, for the place of his exile or retirement. As soon as the
Romans breathed from the toils of the Punic war, they were attracted by
the beauties and the pleasures of Campania; and the country-house of
the elder Scipio at Liternum exhibited a lasting model of their rustic
simplicity. The delicious shores of the Bay of Naples were crowded with
villas; and Sylla applauded the masterly skill of his rival, who had
seated himself on the lofty promontory of Misenum, that commands, on
every side, the sea and land, as far as the boundaries of the horizon.
The villa of Marius was purchased, within a few years, by Lucullus, and
the price had increased from two thousand five hundred, to more
than fourscore thousand, pounds sterling. It was adorned by the new
proprietor with Grecian arts and Asiatic treasures; and the houses
and gardens of Lucullus obtained a distinguished rank in the list of
Imperial palaces. When the Vandals became formidable to the sea-coast,
the Lucullan villa, on the promontory of Misenum, gradually assumed the
strength and appellation of a strong castle, the obscure retreat of
the last emperor of the West. About twenty years after that great
revolution, it was converted into a church and monastery, to receive
the bones of St. Severinus. They securely reposed, amidst the broken
trophies of Cimbric and Armenian victories, till the beginning of the
tenth century; when the fortifications, which might afford a dangerous
shelter to the Saracens, were demolished by the people of Naples.

Odoacer was the first Barbarian who reigned in Italy, over a people who
had once asserted their just superiority above the rest of mankind. The
disgrace of the Romans still excites our respectful compassion, and
we fondly sympathize with the imaginary grief and indignation of their
degenerate posterity. But the calamities of Italy had gradually subdued
the proud consciousness of freedom and glory. In the age of Roman virtue
the provinces were subject to the arms, and the citizens to the laws, of
the republic; till those laws were subverted by civil discord, and both
the city and the province became the servile property of a tyrant. The
forms of the constitution, which alleviated or disguised their abject
slavery, were abolished by time and violence; the Italians alternately
lamented the presence or the absence of the sovereign, whom they
detested or despised; and the succession of five centuries inflicted the
various evils of military license, capricious despotism, and elaborate
oppression. During the same period, the Barbarians had emerged from
obscurity and contempt, and the warriors of Germany and Scythia were
introduced into the provinces, as the servants, the allies, and at
length the masters, of the Romans, whom they insulted or protected. The
hatred of the people was suppressed by fear; they respected the spirit
and splendor of the martial chiefs who were invested with the honors of
the empire; and the fate of Rome had long depended on the sword of those
formidable strangers. The stern Ricimer, who trampled on the ruins of
Italy, had exercised the power, without assuming the title, of a king;
and the patient Romans were insensibly prepared to acknowledge the
royalty of Odoacer and his Barbaric successors.

The king of Italy was not unworthy of the high station to which his
valor and fortune had exalted him: his savage manners were polished by
the habits of conversation; and he respected, though a conqueror and a
Barbarian, the institutions, and even the prejudices, of his subjects.
After an interval of seven years, Odoacer restored the consulship of the
West. For himself, he modestly, or proudly, declined an honor which was
still accepted by the emperors of the East; but the curule chair was
successively filled by eleven of the most illustrious senators; and
the list is adorned by the respectable name of Basilius, whose virtues
claimed the friendship and grateful applause of Sidonius, his client.
The laws of the emperors were strictly enforced, and the civil
administration of Italy was still exercised by the Prætorian præfect and
his subordinate officers. Odoacer devolved on the Roman magistrates
the odious and oppressive task of collecting the public revenue; but
he reserved for himself the merit of seasonable and popular indulgence.
Like the rest of the Barbarians, he had been instructed in the Arian
heresy; but he revered the monastic and episcopal characters; and the
silence of the Catholics attest the toleration which they enjoyed. The
peace of the city required the interposition of his præfect Basilius in
the choice of a Roman pontiff: the decree which restrained the clergy
from alienating their lands was ultimately designed for the benefit
of the people, whose devotions would have been taxed to repair the
dilapidations of the church. Italy was protected by the arms of its
conqueror; and its frontiers were respected by the Barbarians of Gaul
and Germany, who had so long insulted the feeble race of Theodosius.
Odoacer passed the Adriatic, to chastise the assassins of the emperor
Nepos, and to acquire the maritime province of Dalmatia. He passed the
Alps, to rescue the remains of Noricum from Fava, or Feletheus, king
of the Rugians, who held his residence beyond the Danube. The king
was vanquished in battle, and led away prisoner; a numerous colony of
captives and subjects was transplanted into Italy; and Rome, after
a long period of defeat and disgrace, might claim the triumph of her
Barbarian master.

Notwithstanding the prudence and success of Odoacer, his kingdom
exhibited the sad prospect of misery and desolation. Since the age of
Tiberius, the decay of agriculture had been felt in Italy; and it was a
just subject of complaint, that the life of the Roman people depended on
the accidents of the winds and waves. In the division and the decline of
the empire, the tributary harvests of Egypt and Africa were withdrawn;
the numbers of the inhabitants continually diminished with the means of
subsistence; and the country was exhausted by the irretrievable losses
of war, famine, and pestilence. St. Ambrose has deplored the ruin of
a populous district, which had been once adorned with the flourishing
cities of Bologna, Modena, Regium, and Placentia. Pope Gelasius was a
subject of Odoacer; and he affirms, with strong exaggeration, that
in Æmilia, Tuscany, and the adjacent provinces, the human species was
almost extirpated. The plebeians of Rome, who were fed by the hand of
their master, perished or disappeared, as soon as his liberality was
suppressed; the decline of the arts reduced the industrious mechanic to
idleness and want; and the senators, who might support with patience the
ruin of their country, bewailed their private loss of wealth and luxury.
 One third of those ample estates, to which the ruin of Italy is
originally imputed, was extorted for the use of the conquerors.
Injuries were aggravated by insults; the sense of actual sufferings was
imbittered by the fear of more dreadful evils; and as new lands were
allotted to the new swarms of Barbarians, each senator was apprehensive
lest the arbitrary surveyors should approach his favorite villa, or his
most profitable farm. The least unfortunate were those who submitted
without a murmur to the power which it was impossible to resist. Since
they desired to live, they owed some gratitude to the tyrant who had
spared their lives; and since he was the absolute master of their
fortunes, the portion which he left must be accepted as his pure and
voluntary gift. The distress of Italy was mitigated by the prudence
and humanity of Odoacer, who had bound himself, as the price of
his elevation, to satisfy the demands of a licentious and turbulent
multitude. The kings of the Barbarians were frequently resisted,
deposed, or murdered, by their _native_ subjects, and the various bands
of Italian mercenaries, who associated under the standard of an elective
general, claimed a larger privilege of freedom and rapine. A monarchy
destitute of national union, and hereditary right, hastened to its
dissolution. After a reign of fourteen years, Odoacer was oppressed by
the superior genius of Theodoric, king of the Ostrogoths; a hero alike
excellent in the arts of war and of government, who restored an age
of peace and prosperity, and whose name still excites and deserves the
attention of mankind.



Chapter XXXVII: Conversion Of The Barbarians To Christianity.--Part I.

     Origin Progress, And Effects Of The Monastic Life.--
     Conversion Of The Barbarians To Christianity And Arianism.--
     Persecution Of The Vandals In Africa.--Extinction Of
     Arianism Among The Barbarians.

The indissoluble connection of civil and ecclesiastical affairs has
compelled, and encouraged, me to relate the progress, the persecutions,
the establishment, the divisions, the final triumph, and the gradual
corruption, of Christianity. I have purposely delayed the consideration
of two religious events, interesting in the study of human nature,
and important in the decline and fall of the Roman empire. I. The
institution of the monastic life; and, II. The conversion of the
northern Barbarians.

I. Prosperity and peace introduced the distinction of the _vulgar_ and
the _Ascetic Christians_. The loose and imperfect practice of religion
satisfied the conscience of the multitude. The prince or magistrate, the
soldier or merchant, reconciled their fervent zeal, and implicit faith,
with the exercise of their profession, the pursuit of their interest,
and the indulgence of their passions: but the Ascetics, who obeyed and
abused the rigid precepts of the gospel, were inspired by the savage
enthusiasm which represents man as a criminal, and God as a tyrant. They
seriously renounced the business, and the pleasures, of the age; abjured
the use of wine, of flesh, and of marriage; chastised their body,
mortified their affections, and embraced a life of misery, as the price
of eternal happiness. In the reign of Constantine, the Ascetics fled
from a profane and degenerate world, to perpetual solitude, or religious
society. Like the first Christians of Jerusalem, they resigned the
use, or the property of their temporal possessions; established regular
communities of the same sex, and a similar disposition; and assumed
the names of _Hermits_, _Monks_, and _Anachorets_, expressive of their
lonely retreat in a natural or artificial desert. They soon acquired the
respect of the world, which they despised; and the loudest applause was
bestowed on this Divine Philosophy, which surpassed, without the aid
of science or reason, the laborious virtues of the Grecian schools. The
monks might indeed contend with the Stoics, in the contempt of fortune,
of pain, and of death: the Pythagorean silence and submission were
revived in their servile discipline; and they disdained, as firmly as
the Cynics themselves, all the forms and decencies of civil society. But
the votaries of this Divine Philosophy aspired to imitate a purer and
more perfect model. They trod in the footsteps of the prophets, who had
retired to the desert; and they restored the devout and contemplative
life, which had been instituted by the Essenians, in Palestine and
Egypt. The philosophic eye of Pliny had surveyed with astonishment a
solitary people, who dwelt among the palm-trees near the Dead Sea; who
subsisted without money, who were propagated without women; and who
derived from the disgust and repentance of mankind a perpetual supply of
voluntary associates.

Egypt, the fruitful parent of superstition, afforded the first example
of the monastic life. Antony, an illiterate youth of the lower parts of
Thebais, distributed his patrimony, deserted his family and native
home, and executed his _monastic_ penance with original and intrepid
fanaticism. After a long and painful novitiate, among the tombs, and in
a ruined tower, he boldly advanced into the desert three days' journey
to the eastward of the Nile; discovered a lonely spot, which possessed
the advantages of shade and water, and fixed his last residence on Mount
Colzim, near the Red Sea; where an ancient monastery still preserves
the name and memory of the saint. The curious devotion of the Christians
pursued him to the desert; and when he was obliged to appear at
Alexandria, in the face of mankind, he supported his fame with
discretion and dignity. He enjoyed the friendship of Athanasius, whose
doctrine he approved; and the Egyptian peasant respectfully declined
a respectful invitation from the emperor Constantine. The venerable
patriarch (for Antony attained the age of one hundred and five years)
beheld the numerous progeny which had been formed by his example and his
lessons. The prolific colonies of monks multiplied with rapid increase
on the sands of Libya, upon the rocks of Thebais, and in the cities of
the Nile. To the south of Alexandria, the mountain, and adjacent desert,
of Nitria, were peopled by five thousand anachorets; and the traveller
may still investigate the ruins of fifty monasteries, which were planted
in that barren soil by the disciples of Antony. In the Upper Thebais,
the vacant island of Tabenne, was occupied by Pachomius and fourteen
hundred of his brethren. That holy abbot successively founded nine
monasteries of men, and one of women; and the festival of Easter
sometimes collected fifty thousand religious persons, who followed
his _angelic_ rule of discipline. The stately and populous city of
Oxyrinchus, the seat of Christian orthodoxy, had devoted the temples,
the public edifices, and even the ramparts, to pious and charitable
uses; and the bishop, who might preach in twelve churches, computed ten
thousand females and twenty thousand males, of the monastic profession.
The Egyptians, who gloried in this marvellous revolution, were disposed
to hope, and to believe, that the number of the monks was equal to the
remainder of the people; and posterity might repeat the saying, which
had formerly been applied to the sacred animals of the same country,
That in Egypt it was less difficult to find a god than a man.

Athanasius introduced into Rome the knowledge and practice of the
monastic life; and a school of this new philosophy was opened by the
disciples of Antony, who accompanied their primate to the holy threshold
of the Vatican. The strange and savage appearance of these Egyptians
excited, at first, horror and contempt, and, at length, applause and
zealous imitation. The senators, and more especially the matrons,
transformed their palaces and villas into religious houses; and the
narrow institution of _six_ Vestals was eclipsed by the frequent
monasteries, which were seated on the ruins of ancient temples, and
in the midst of the Roman forum. Inflamed by the example of Antony, a
Syrian youth, whose name was Hilarion, fixed his dreary abode on a sandy
beach, between the sea and a morass, about seven miles from Gaza. The
austere penance, in which he persisted forty-eight years, diffused a
similar enthusiasm; and the holy man was followed by a train of two
or three thousand anachorets, whenever he visited the innumerable
monasteries of Palestine. The fame of Basil is immortal in the monastic
history of the East. With a mind that had tasted the learning and
eloquence of Athens; with an ambition scarcely to be satisfied with the
archbishopric of Cæsarea, Basil retired to a savage solitude in Pontus;
and deigned, for a while, to give laws to the spiritual colonies which
he profusely scattered along the coast of the Black Sea. In the West,
Martin of Tours, a soldier, a hermit, a bishop, and a saint, established
the monasteries of Gaul; two thousand of his disciples followed him to
the grave; and his eloquent historian challenges the deserts of Thebais
to produce, in a more favorable climate, a champion of equal virtue.
The progress of the monks was not less rapid, or universal, than that
of Christianity itself. Every province, and, at last, every city, of the
empire, was filled with their increasing multitudes; and the bleak and
barren isles, from Lerins to Lipari, that arose out of the Tuscan Sea,
were chosen by the anachorets for the place of their voluntary exile. An
easy and perpetual intercourse by sea and land connected the provinces
of the Roman world; and the life of Hilarion displays the facility with
which an indigent hermit of Palestine might traverse Egypt, embark for
Sicily, escape to Epirus, and finally settle in the Island of Cyprus.
The Latin Christians embraced the religious institutions of Rome. The
pilgrims, who visited Jerusalem, eagerly copied, in the most distant
climates of the earth, the faithful model of the monastic life. The
disciples of Antony spread themselves beyond the tropic, over the
Christian empire of Æthiopia. The monastery of Banchor, in Flintshire,
which contained above two thousand brethren, dispersed a numerous colony
among the Barbarians of Ireland; and Iona, one of the Hebrides, which
was planted by the Irish monks, diffused over the northern regions a
doubtful ray of science and superstition.

These unhappy exiles from social life were impelled by the dark and
implacable genius of superstition. Their mutual resolution was supported
by the example of millions, of either sex, of every age, and of every
rank; and each proselyte who entered the gates of a monastery, was
persuaded that he trod the steep and thorny path of eternal happiness.
But the operation of these religious motives was variously determined
by the temper and situation of mankind. Reason might subdue, or passion
might suspend, their influence: but they acted most forcibly on the
infirm minds of children and females; they were strengthened by secret
remorse, or accidental misfortune; and they might derive some aid from
the temporal considerations of vanity or interest. It was naturally
supposed, that the pious and humble monks, who had renounced the world
to accomplish the work of their salvation, were the best qualified for
the spiritual government of the Christians. The reluctant hermit was
torn from his cell, and seated, amidst the acclamations of the people,
on the episcopal throne: the monasteries of Egypt, of Gaul, and of the
East, supplied a regular succession of saints and bishops; and ambition
soon discovered the secret road which led to the possession of wealth
and honors. The popular monks, whose reputation was connected with
the fame and success of the order, assiduously labored to multiply the
number of their fellow-captives. They insinuated themselves into noble
and opulent families; and the specious arts of flattery and seduction
were employed to secure those proselytes who might bestow wealth or
dignity on the monastic profession. The indignant father bewailed the
loss, perhaps, of an only son; the credulous maid was betrayed by vanity
to violate the laws of nature; and the matron aspired to imaginary
perfection, by renouncing the virtues of domestic life. Paula yielded
to the persuasive eloquence of Jerom; and the profane title of
mother-in-law of God tempted that illustrious widow to consecrate the
virginity of her daughter Eustochium. By the advice, and in the company,
of her spiritual guide, Paula abandoned Rome and her infant son; retired
to the holy village of Bethlem; founded a hospital and four monasteries;
and acquired, by her alms and penance, an eminent and conspicuous
station in the Catholic church. Such rare and illustrious penitents were
celebrated as the glory and example of their age; but the monasteries
were filled by a crowd of obscure and abject plebeians, who gained in
the cloister much more than they had sacrificed in the world. Peasants,
slaves, and mechanics, might escape from poverty and contempt to a safe
and honorable profession; whose apparent hardships are mitigated by
custom, by popular applause, and by the secret relaxation of discipline.
The subjects of Rome, whose persons and fortunes were made responsible
for unequal and exorbitant tributes, retired from the oppression of the
Imperial government; and the pusillanimous youth preferred the penance
of a monastic, to the dangers of a military, life. The affrighted
provincials of every rank, who fled before the Barbarians, found
shelter and subsistence: whole legions were buried in these religious
sanctuaries; and the same cause, which relieved the distress of
individuals, impaired the strength and fortitude of the empire.

The monastic profession of the ancients was an act of voluntary
devotion. The inconstant fanatic was threatened with the eternal
vengeance of the God whom he deserted; but the doors of the monastery
were still open for repentance. Those monks, whose conscience was
fortified by reason or passion, were at liberty to resume the character
of men and citizens; and even the spouses of Christ might accept the
legal embraces of an earthly lover. The examples of scandal, and the
progress of superstition, suggested the propriety of more forcible
restraints. After a sufficient trial, the fidelity of the novice was
secured by a solemn and perpetual vow; and his irrevocable engagement
was ratified by the laws of the church and state. A guilty fugitive
was pursued, arrested, and restored to his perpetual prison; and the
interposition of the magistrate oppressed the freedom and the merit,
which had alleviated, in some degree, the abject slavery of the monastic
discipline. The actions of a monk, his words, and even his thoughts,
were determined by an inflexible rule, or a capricious superior:
the slightest offences were corrected by disgrace or confinement,
extraordinary fasts, or bloody flagellation; and disobedience, murmur,
or delay, were ranked in the catalogue of the most heinous sins. A
blind submission to the commands of the abbot, however absurd, or even
criminal, they might seem, was the ruling principle, the first virtue of
the Egyptian monks; and their patience was frequently exercised by the
most extravagant trials. They were directed to remove an enormous rock;
assiduously to water a barren staff, that was planted in the ground,
till, at the end of three years, it should vegetate and blossom like a
tree; to walk into a fiery furnace; or to cast their infant into a deep
pond: and several saints, or madmen, have been immortalized in monastic
story, by their thoughtless and fearless obedience. The freedom of the
mind, the source of every generous and rational sentiment, was destroyed
by the habits of credulity and submission; and the monk, contracting
the vices of a slave, devoutly followed the faith and passions of his
ecclesiastical tyrant. The peace of the Eastern church was invaded by
a swarm of fanatics, incapable of fear, or reason, or humanity; and the
Imperial troops acknowledged, without shame, that they were much less
apprehensive of an encounter with the fiercest Barbarians.

Superstition has often framed and consecrated the fantastic garments of
the monks: but their apparent singularity sometimes proceeds from
their uniform attachment to a simple and primitive model, which the
revolutions of fashion have made ridiculous in the eyes of mankind. The
father of the Benedictines expressly disclaims all idea of choice
of merit; and soberly exhorts his disciples to adopt the coarse and
convenient dress of the countries which they may inhabit. The monastic
habits of the ancients varied with the climate, and their mode of life;
and they assumed, with the same indifference, the sheep-skin of the
Egyptian peasants, or the cloak of the Grecian philosophers. They
allowed themselves the use of linen in Egypt, where it was a cheap and
domestic manufacture; but in the West they rejected such an expensive
article of foreign luxury. It was the practice of the monks either to
cut or shave their hair; they wrapped their heads in a cowl to escape
the sight of profane objects; their legs and feet were naked, except
in the extreme cold of winter; and their slow and feeble steps were
supported by a long staff. The aspect of a genuine anachoret was horrid
and disgusting: every sensation that is offensive to man was thought
acceptable to God; and the angelic rule of Tabenne condemned the
salutary custom of bathing the limbs in water, and of anointing them
with oil. The austere monks slept on the ground, on a hard mat, or a
rough blanket; and the same bundle of palm-leaves served them as a seat
in the lay, and a pillow in the night. Their original cells were low,
narrow huts, built of the slightest materials; which formed, by the
regular distribution of the streets, a large and populous village,
enclosing, within the common wall, a church, a hospital, perhaps a
library, some necessary offices, a garden, and a fountain or reservoir
of fresh water. Thirty or forty brethren composed a family of separate
discipline and diet; and the great monasteries of Egypt consisted of
thirty or forty families.



Chapter XXXVII: Conversion Of The Barbarians To Christianity.--Part II.

Pleasure and guilt are synonymous terms in the language of the monks,
and they discovered, by experience, that rigid fasts, and abstemious
diet, are the most effectual preservatives against the impure desires
of the flesh. The rules of abstinence which they imposed, or practised,
were not uniform or perpetual: the cheerful festival of the Pentecost
was balanced by the extraordinary mortification of Lent; the fervor of
new monasteries was insensibly relaxed; and the voracious appetite of
the Gauls could not imitate the patient and temperate virtue of the
Egyptians. The disciples of Antony and Pachomius were satisfied with
their daily pittance, of twelve ounces of bread, or rather biscuit,
which they divided into two frugal repasts, of the afternoon and of the
evening. It was esteemed a merit, and almost a duty, to abstain from
the boiled vegetables which were provided for the refectory; but the
extraordinary bounty of the abbot sometimes indulged them with the
luxury of cheese, fruit, salad, and the small dried fish of the Nile.
A more ample latitude of sea and river fish was gradually allowed
or assumed; but the use of flesh was long confined to the sick
or travellers; and when it gradually prevailed in the less rigid
monasteries of Europe, a singular distinction was introduced; as if
birds, whether wild or domestic, had been less profane than the grosser
animals of the field. Water was the pure and innocent beverage of the
primitive monks; and the founder of the Benedictines regrets the daily
portion of half a pint of wine, which had been extorted from him by the
intemperance of the age. Such an allowance might be easily supplied by
the vineyards of Italy; and his victorious disciples, who passed the
Alps, the Rhine, and the Baltic, required, in the place of wine, an
adequate compensation of strong beer or cider.

The candidate who aspired to the virtue of evangelical poverty, abjured,
at his first entrance into a regular community, the idea, and even
the name, of all separate or exclusive possessions. The brethren were
supported by their manual labor; and the duty of labor was strenuously
recommended as a penance, as an exercise, and as the most laudable means
of securing their daily subsistence. The garden and fields, which the
industry of the monks had often rescued from the forest or the morass,
were diligently cultivated by their hands. They performed, without
reluctance, the menial offices of slaves and domestics; and the several
trades that were necessary to provide their habits, their utensils,
and their lodging, were exercised within the precincts of the great
monasteries. The monastic studies have tended, for the most part,
to darken, rather than to dispel, the cloud of superstition. Yet
the curiosity or zeal of some learned solitaries has cultivated the
ecclesiastical, and even the profane, sciences; and posterity must
gratefully acknowledge, that the monuments of Greek and Roman literature
have been preserved and multiplied by their indefatigable pens. But the
more humble industry of the monks, especially in Egypt, was contented
with the silent, sedentary occupation of making wooden sandals, or
of twisting the leaves of the palm-tree into mats and baskets. The
superfluous stock, which was not consumed in domestic use, supplied, by
trade, the wants of the community: the boats of Tabenne, and the other
monasteries of Thebais, descended the Nile as far as Alexandria; and,
in a Christian market, the sanctity of the workmen might enhance the
intrinsic value of the work.

But the necessity of manual labor was insensibly superseded. The novice
was tempted to bestow his fortune on the saints, in whose society he
was resolved to spend the remainder of his life; and the pernicious
indulgence of the laws permitted him to receive, for their use, any
future accessions of legacy or inheritance. Melania contributed her
plate, three hundred pounds weight of silver; and Paula contracted
an immense debt, for the relief of their favorite monks; who kindly
imparted the merits of their prayers and penance to a rich and liberal
sinner. Time continually increased, and accidents could seldom diminish,
the estates of the popular monasteries, which spread over the adjacent
country and cities: and, in the first century of their institution, the
infidel Zosimus has maliciously observed, that, for the benefit of the
poor, the Christian monks had reduced a great part of mankind to a
state of beggary. As long as they maintained their original fervor, they
approved themselves, however, the faithful and benevolent stewards of
the charity, which was entrusted to their care. But their discipline was
corrupted by prosperity: they gradually assumed the pride of wealth,
and at last indulged the luxury of expense. Their public luxury might be
excused by the magnificence of religious worship, and the decent motive
of erecting durable habitations for an immortal society. But every age
of the church has accused the licentiousness of the degenerate monks;
who no longer remembered the object of their institution, embraced the
vain and sensual pleasures of the world, which they had renounced, and
scandalously abused the riches which had been acquired by the austere
virtues of their founders. Their natural descent, from such painful and
dangerous virtue, to the common vices of humanity, will not, perhaps,
excite much grief or indignation in the mind of a philosopher.

The lives of the primitive monks were consumed in penance and solitude;
undisturbed by the various occupations which fill the time, and exercise
the faculties, of reasonable, active, and social beings. Whenever
they were permitted to step beyond the precincts of the monastery, two
jealous companions were the mutual guards and spies of each other's
actions; and, after their return, they were condemned to forget, or,
at least, to suppress, whatever they had seen or heard in the world.
Strangers, who professed the orthodox faith, were hospitably entertained
in a separate apartment; but their dangerous conversation was restricted
to some chosen elders of approved discretion and fidelity. Except in
their presence, the monastic slave might not receive the visits of
his friends or kindred; and it was deemed highly meritorious, if he
afflicted a tender sister, or an aged parent, by the obstinate refusal
of a word or look. The monks themselves passed their lives, without
personal attachments, among a crowd which had been formed by accident,
and was detained, in the same prison, by force or prejudice. Recluse
fanatics have few ideas or sentiments to communicate: a special license
of the abbot regulated the time and duration of their familiar visits;
and, at their silent meals, they were enveloped in their cowls,
inaccessible, and almost invisible, to each other. Study is the resource
of solitude: but education had not prepared and qualified for any
liberal studies the mechanics and peasants who filled the monastic
communities. They might work: but the vanity of spiritual perfection was
tempted to disdain the exercise of manual labor; and the industry must
be faint and languid, which is not excited by the sense of personal
interest.

According to their faith and zeal, they might employ the day, which they
passed in their cells, either in vocal or mental prayer: they assembled
in the evening, and they were awakened in the night, for the public
worship of the monastery. The precise moment was determined by the
stars, which are seldom clouded in the serene sky of Egypt; and a rustic
horn, or trumpet, the signal of devotion, twice interrupted the vast
silence of the desert. Even sleep, the last refuge of the unhappy, was
rigorously measured: the vacant hours of the monk heavily rolled along,
without business or pleasure; and, before the close of each day, he had
repeatedly accused the tedious progress of the sun. In this comfortless
state, superstition still pursued and tormented her wretched votaries.
The repose which they had sought in the cloister was disturbed by a
tardy repentance, profane doubts, and guilty desires; and, while they
considered each natural impulse as an unpardonable sin, they perpetually
trembled on the edge of a flaming and bottomless abyss. From the painful
struggles of disease and despair, these unhappy victims were sometimes
relieved by madness or death; and, in the sixth century, a hospital was
founded at Jerusalem for a small portion of the austere penitents, who
were deprived of their senses. Their visions, before they attained this
extreme and acknowledged term of frenzy, have afforded ample materials
of supernatural history. It was their firm persuasion, that the
air, which they breathed, was peopled with invisible enemies; with
innumerable demons, who watched every occasion, and assumed every
form, to terrify, and above all to tempt, their unguarded virtue. The
imagination, and even the senses, were deceived by the illusions of
distempered fanaticism; and the hermit, whose midnight prayer was
oppressed by involuntary slumber, might easily confound the phantoms
of horror or delight, which had occupied his sleeping and his waking
dreams.

The monks were divided into two classes: the _Cnobites_, who lived under
a common and regular discipline; and the _Anachorets_, who indulged
their unsocial, independent fanaticism. The most devout, or the most
ambitious, of the spiritual brethren, renounced the convent, as they had
renounced the world. The fervent monasteries of Egypt, Palestine, and
Syria, were surrounded by a _Laura_, a distant circle of solitary cells;
and the extravagant penance of Hermits was stimulated by applause and
emulation. They sunk under the painful weight of crosses and chains; and
their emaciated limbs were confined by collars, bracelets, gauntlets,
and greaves of massy and rigid iron. All superfluous encumbrance of
dress they contemptuously cast away; and some savage saints of both
sexes have been admired, whose naked bodies were only covered by their
long hair. They aspired to reduce themselves to the rude and miserable
state in which the human brute is scarcely distinguishable above his
kindred animals; and the numerous sect of Anachorets derived their name
from their humble practice of grazing in the fields of Mesopotamia with
the common herd. They often usurped the den of some wild beast whom
they affected to resemble; they buried themselves in some gloomy cavern,
which art or nature had scooped out of the rock; and the marble quarries
of Thebais are still inscribed with the monuments of their penance. The
most perfect Hermits are supposed to have passed many days without food,
many nights without sleep, and many years without speaking; and glorious
was the _man_ ( I abuse that name) who contrived any cell, or seat, of a
peculiar construction, which might expose him, in the most inconvenient
posture, to the inclemency of the seasons.

Among these heroes of the monastic life, the name and genius of Simeon
Stylites have been immortalized by the singular invention of an
aërial penance. At the age of thirteen, the young Syrian deserted the
profession of a shepherd, and threw himself into an austere monastery.
After a long and painful novitiate, in which Simeon was repeatedly saved
from pious suicide, he established his residence on a mountain, about
thirty or forty miles to the east of Antioch. Within the space of a
_mandra_, or circle of stones, to which he had attached himself by a
ponderous chain, he ascended a column, which was successively raised
from the height of nine, to that of sixty, feet from the ground. In this
last and lofty station, the Syrian Anachoret resisted the heat of thirty
summers, and the cold of as many winters. Habit and exercise instructed
him to maintain his dangerous situation without fear or giddiness, and
successively to assume the different postures of devotion. He sometimes
prayed in an erect attitude, with his outstretched arms in the figure of
a cross, but his most familiar practice was that of bending his meagre
skeleton from the forehead to the feet; and a curious spectator, after
numbering twelve hundred and forty-four repetitions, at length desisted
from the endless account. The progress of an ulcer in his thigh might
shorten, but it could not disturb, this _celestial_ life; and the
patient Hermit expired, without descending from his column. A prince,
who should capriciously inflict such tortures, would be deemed a
tyrant; but it would surpass the power of a tyrant to impose a long
and miserable existence on the reluctant victims of his cruelty. This
voluntary martyrdom must have gradually destroyed the sensibility both
of the mind and body; nor can it be presumed that the fanatics, who
torment themselves, are susceptible of any lively affection for the rest
of mankind. A cruel, unfeeling temper has distinguished the monks
of every age and country: their stern indifference, which is seldom
mollified by personal friendship, is inflamed by religious hatred; and
their merciless zeal has strenuously administered the holy office of the
Inquisition.

The monastic saints, who excite only the contempt and pity of a
philosopher, were respected, and almost adored, by the prince and
people. Successive crowds of pilgrims from Gaul and India saluted the
divine pillar of Simeon: the tribes of Saracens disputed in arms the
honor of his benediction; the queens of Arabia and Persia gratefully
confessed his supernatural virtue; and the angelic Hermit was consulted
by the younger Theodosius, in the most important concerns of the church
and state. His remains were transported from the mountain of Telenissa,
by a solemn procession of the patriarch, the master-general of the East,
six bishops, twenty-one counts or tribunes, and six thousand soldiers;
and Antioch revered his bones, as her glorious ornament and impregnable
defence. The fame of the apostles and martyrs was gradually eclipsed by
these recent and popular Anachorets; the Christian world fell prostrate
before their shrines; and the miracles ascribed to their relics
exceeded, at least in number and duration, the spiritual exploits of
their lives. But the golden legend of their lives was embellished by the
artful credulity of their interested brethren; and a believing age was
easily persuaded, that the slightest caprice of an Egyptian or a Syrian
monk had been sufficient to interrupt the eternal laws of the universe.
The favorites of Heaven were accustomed to cure inveterate diseases with
a touch, a word, or a distant message; and to expel the most obstinate
demons from the souls or bodies which they possessed. They familiarly
accosted, or imperiously commanded, the lions and serpents of the
desert; infused vegetation into a sapless trunk; suspended iron on the
surface of the water; passed the Nile on the back of a crocodile, and
refreshed themselves in a fiery furnace. These extravagant tales,
which display the fiction without the genius, of poetry, have seriously
affected the reason, the faith, and the morals, of the Christians. Their
credulity debased and vitiated the faculties of the mind: they corrupted
the evidence of history; and superstition gradually extinguished the
hostile light of philosophy and science. Every mode of religious worship
which had been practised by the saints, every mysterious doctrine which
they believed, was fortified by the sanction of divine revelation, and
all the manly virtues were oppressed by the servile and pusillanimous
reign of the monks. If it be possible to measure the interval between
the philosophic writings of Cicero and the sacred legend of Theodoret,
between the character of Cato and that of Simeon, we may appreciate the
memorable revolution which was accomplished in the Roman empire within a
period of five hundred years.

II. The progress of Christianity has been marked by two glorious and
decisive victories: over the learned and luxurious citizens of the Roman
empire; and over the warlike Barbarians of Scythia and Germany, who
subverted the empire, and embraced the religion, of the Romans. The
Goths were the foremost of these savage proselytes; and the nation was
indebted for its conversion to a countryman, or, at least, to a subject,
worthy to be ranked among the inventors of useful arts, who have
deserved the remembrance and gratitude of posterity. A great number of
Roman provincials had been led away into captivity by the Gothic bands,
who ravaged Asia in the time of Gallienus; and of these captives, many
were Christians, and several belonged to the ecclesiastical order. Those
involuntary missionaries, dispersed as slaves in the villages of Dacia,
successively labored for the salvation of their masters. The seeds which
they planted, of the evangelic doctrine, were gradually propagated; and
before the end of a century, the pious work was achieved by the labors
of Ulphilas, whose ancestors had been transported beyond the Danube from
a small town of Cappadocia.

Ulphilas, the bishop and apostle of the Goths, acquired their love
and reverence by his blameless life and indefatigable zeal; and they
received, with implicit confidence, the doctrines of truth and virtue
which he preached and practised. He executed the arduous task of
translating the Scriptures into their native tongue, a dialect of the
German or Teutonic language; but he prudently suppressed the four books
of Kings, as they might tend to irritate the fierce and sanguinary
spirit of the Barbarians. The rude, imperfect idiom of soldiers and
shepherds, so ill qualified to communicate any spiritual ideas, was
improved and modulated by his genius: and Ulphilas, before he could
frame his version, was obliged to compose a new alphabet of twenty-four
letters; four of which he invented, to express the peculiar sounds
that were unknown to the Greek and Latin pronunciation. But the
prosperous state of the Gothic church was soon afflicted by war and
intestine discord, and the chieftains were divided by religion as
well as by interest. Fritigern, the friend of the Romans, became the
proselyte of Ulphilas; while the haughty soul of Athanaric disdained the
yoke of the empire and of the gospel The faith of the new converts was
tried by the persecution which he excited. A wagon, bearing aloft the
shapeless image of Thor, perhaps, or of Woden, was conducted in solemn
procession through the streets of the camp; and the rebels, who refused
to worship the god of their fathers, were immediately burnt, with their
tents and families. The character of Ulphilas recommended him to the
esteem of the Eastern court, where he twice appeared as the minister of
peace; he pleaded the cause of the distressed Goths, who implored
the protection of Valens; and the name of _Moses_ was applied to this
spiritual guide, who conducted his people through the deep waters of the
Danube to the Land of Promise. The devout shepherds, who were attached
to his person, and tractable to his voice, acquiesced in their
settlement, at the foot of the Mæsian mountains, in a country of
woodlands and pastures, which supported their flocks and herds, and
enabled them to purchase the corn and wine of the more plentiful
provinces. These harmless Barbarians multiplied in obscure peace and the
profession of Christianity.

Their fiercer brethren, the formidable Visigoths, universally adopted
the religion of the Romans, with whom they maintained a perpetual
intercourse, of war, of friendship, or of conquest. In their long and
victorious march from the Danube to the Atlantic Ocean, they converted
their allies; they educated the rising generation; and the devotion
which reigned in the camp of Alaric, or the court of Thoulouse, might
edify or disgrace the palaces of Rome and Constantinople. During the
same period, Christianity was embraced by almost all the Barbarians,
who established their kingdoms on the ruins of the Western empire; the
Burgundians in Gaul, the Suevi in Spain, the Vandals in Africa, the
Ostrogoths in Pannonia, and the various bands of mercenaries, that
raised Odoacer to the throne of Italy. The Franks and the Saxons still
persevered in the errors of Paganism; but the Franks obtained the
monarchy of Gaul by their submission to the example of Clovis; and
the Saxon conquerors of Britain were reclaimed from their savage
superstition by the missionaries of Rome. These Barbarian proselytes
displayed an ardent and successful zeal in the propagation of the faith.
The Merovingian kings, and their successors, Charlemagne and the Othos,
extended, by their laws and victories, the dominion of the cross.
England produced the apostle of Germany; and the evangelic light was
gradually diffused from the neighborhood of the Rhine, to the nations of
the Elbe, the Vistula, and the Baltic.



Chapter XXXVII: Conversion Of The Barbarians To Christianity.--Part III.

The different motives which influenced the reason, or the passions, of
the Barbarian converts, cannot easily be ascertained. They were often
capricious and accidental; a dream, an omen, the report of a miracle,
the example of some priest, or hero, the charms of a believing wife,
and, above all, the fortunate event of a prayer, or vow, which, in a
moment of danger, they had addressed to the God of the Christians. The
early prejudices of education were insensibly erased by the habits of
frequent and familiar society, the moral precepts of the gospel were
protected by the extravagant virtues of the monks; and a spiritual
theology was supported by the visible power of relics, and the pomp of
religious worship. But the rational and ingenious mode of persuasion,
which a Saxon bishop suggested to a popular saint, might sometimes
be employed by the missionaries, who labored for the conversion of
infidels. "Admit," says the sagacious disputant, "whatever they are
pleased to assert of the fabulous, and carnal, genealogy of their gods
and goddesses, who are propagated from each other. From this principle
deduce their imperfect nature, and human infirmities, the assurance they
were _born_, and the probability that they will _die_. At what time, by
what means, from what cause, were the eldest of the gods or goddesses
produced? Do they still continue, or have they ceased, to propagate? If
they have ceased, summon your antagonists to declare the reason of this
strange alteration. If they still continue, the number of the gods must
become infinite; and shall we not risk, by the indiscreet worship of
some impotent deity, to excite the resentment of his jealous superior?
The visible heavens and earth, the whole system of the universe, which
may be conceived by the mind, is it created or eternal? If created, how,
or where, could the gods themselves exist before creation? If eternal,
how could they assume the empire of an independent and preexisting
world? Urge these arguments with temper and moderation; insinuate, at
seasonable intervals, the truth and beauty of the Christian revelation;
and endeavor to make the unbelievers ashamed, without making them
angry." This metaphysical reasoning, too refined, perhaps, for the
Barbarians of Germany, was fortified by the grosser weight of authority
and popular consent. The advantage of temporal prosperity had deserted
the Pagan cause, and passed over to the service of Christianity. The
Romans themselves, the most powerful and enlightened nation of the
globe, had renounced their ancient superstition; and, if the ruin
of their empire seemed to accuse the efficacy of the new faith, the
disgrace was already retrieved by the conversion of the victorious
Goths. The valiant and fortunate Barbarians, who subdued the provinces
of the West, successively received, and reflected, the same edifying
example. Before the age of Charlemagne, the Christian nations of Europe
might exult in the exclusive possession of the temperate climates, of
the fertile lands, which produced corn, wine, and oil; while the savage
idolaters, and their helpless idols, were confined to the extremities of
the earth, the dark and frozen regions of the North.

Christianity, which opened the gates of Heaven to the Barbarians,
introduced an important change in their moral and political condition.
They received, at the same time, the use of letters, so essential to a
religion whose doctrines are contained in a sacred book; and while they
studied the divine truth, their minds were insensibly enlarged by the
distant view of history, of nature, of the arts, and of society.
The version of the Scriptures into their native tongue, which had
facilitated their conversion, must excite among their clergy some
curiosity to read the original text, to understand the sacred liturgy of
the church, and to examine, in the writings of the fathers, the chain
of ecclesiastical tradition. These spiritual gifts were preserved in the
Greek and Latin languages, which concealed the inestimable monuments of
ancient learning. The immortal productions of Virgil, Cicero, and Livy,
which were accessible to the Christian Barbarians, maintained a silent
intercourse between the reign of Augustus and the times of Clovis and
Charlemagne. The emulation of mankind was encouraged by the remembrance
of a more perfect state; and the flame of science was secretly kept
alive, to warm and enlighten the mature age of the Western world. In the
most corrupt state of Christianity, the Barbarians might learn justice
from the _law_, and mercy from the _gospel_; and if the knowledge of
their duty was insufficient to guide their actions, or to regulate their
passions, they were sometimes restrained by conscience, and frequently
punished by remorse. But the direct authority of religion was less
effectual than the holy communion, which united them with their
Christian brethren in spiritual friendship. The influence of these
sentiments contributed to secure their fidelity in the service, or the
alliance, of the Romans, to alleviate the horrors of war, to moderate
the insolence of conquest, and to preserve, in the downfall of the
empire, a permanent respect for the name and institutions of Rome. In
the days of Paganism, the priests of Gaul and Germany reigned over the
people, and controlled the jurisdiction of the magistrates; and the
zealous proselytes transferred an equal, or more ample, measure of
devout obedience, to the pontiffs of the Christian faith. The sacred
character of the bishops was supported by their temporal possessions;
they obtained an honorable seat in the legislative assemblies of
soldiers and freemen; and it was their interest, as well as their duty,
to mollify, by peaceful counsels, the fierce spirit of the Barbarians.
The perpetual correspondence of the Latin clergy, the frequent
pilgrimages to Rome and Jerusalem, and the growing authority of the
popes, cemented the union of the Christian republic, and gradually
produced the similar manners, and common jurisprudence, which have
distinguished, from the rest of mankind, the independent, and even
hostile, nations of modern Europe.

But the operation of these causes was checked and retarded by the
unfortunate accident, which infused a deadly poison into the cup of
Salvation. Whatever might be the early sentiments of Ulphilas, his
connections with the empire and the church were formed during the reign
of Arianism. The apostle of the Goths subscribed the creed of Rimini;
professed with freedom, and perhaps with sincerity, that the _Son_ was
not equal, or consubstantial to the _Father_; communicated these errors
to the clergy and people; and infected the Barbaric world with a heresy,
which the great Theodosius proscribed and extinguished among the Romans.
The temper and understanding of the new proselytes were not adapted to
metaphysical subtilties; but they strenuously maintained, what they had
piously received, as the pure and genuine doctrines of Christianity.
The advantage of preaching and expounding the Scriptures in the Teutonic
language promoted the apostolic labors of Ulphilas and his successors;
and they ordained a competent number of bishops and presbyters for the
instruction of the kindred tribes. The Ostrogoths, the Burgundians, the
Suevi, and the Vandals, who had listened to the eloquence of the Latin
clergy, preferred the more intelligible lessons of their domestic
teachers; and Arianism was adopted as the national faith of the warlike
converts, who were seated on the ruins of the Western empire. This
irreconcilable difference of religion was a perpetual source of jealousy
and hatred; and the reproach of _Barbarian_ was imbittered by the more
odious epithet of _Heretic_. The heroes of the North, who had submitted,
with some reluctance, to believe that all their ancestors were in hell,
were astonished and exasperated to learn, that they themselves had only
changed the mode of their eternal condemnation. Instead of the smooth
applause, which Christian kings are accustomed to expect from their
royal prelates, the orthodox bishops and their clergy were in a state
of opposition to the Arian courts; and their indiscreet opposition
frequently became criminal, and might sometimes be dangerous. The
pulpit, that safe and sacred organ of sedition, resounded with the names
of Pharaoh and Holofernes; the public discontent was inflamed by the
hope or promise of a glorious deliverance; and the seditious saints
were tempted to promote the accomplishment of their own predictions.
Notwithstanding these provocations, the Catholics of Gaul, Spain, and
Italy, enjoyed, under the reign of the Arians, the free and peaceful
exercise of their religion. Their haughty masters respected the zeal of
a numerous people, resolved to die at the foot of their altars; and
the example of their devout constancy was admired and imitated by the
Barbarians themselves. The conquerors evaded, however, the disgraceful
reproach, or confession, of fear, by attributing their toleration to
the liberal motives of reason and humanity; and while they affected the
language, they imperceptibly imbibed the spirit, of genuine Christianity.

The peace of the church was sometimes interrupted. The Catholics were
indiscreet, the Barbarians were impatient; and the partial acts of
severity or injustice, which had been recommended by the Arian clergy,
were exaggerated by the orthodox writers. The guilt of persecution may
be imputed to Euric, king of the Visigoths; who suspended the exercise
of ecclesiastical, or, at least, of episcopal functions; and punished
the popular bishops of Aquitain with imprisonment, exile, and
confiscation. But the cruel and absurd enterprise of subduing the minds
of a whole people was undertaken by the Vandals alone. Genseric himself,
in his early youth, had renounced the orthodox communion; and the
apostate could neither grant, nor expect, a sincere forgiveness. He was
exasperated to find that the Africans, who had fled before him in the
field, still presumed to dispute his will in synods and churches; and
his ferocious mind was incapable of fear or of compassion. His Catholic
subjects were oppressed by intolerant laws and arbitrary punishments.
The language of Genseric was furious and formidable; the knowledge of
his intentions might justify the most unfavorable interpretation of his
actions; and the Arians were reproached with the frequent executions
which stained the palace and the dominions of the tyrant. Arms and
ambition were, however, the ruling passions of the monarch of the sea.
But Hunneric, his inglorious son, who seemed to inherit only his vices,
tormented the Catholics with the same unrelenting fury which had been
fatal to his brother, his nephews, and the friends and favorites of his
father; and even to the Arian patriarch, who was inhumanly burnt alive
in the midst of Carthage. The religious war was preceded and prepared
by an insidious truce; persecution was made the serious and important
business of the Vandal court; and the loathsome disease which hastened
the death of Hunneric, revenged the injuries, without contributing to
the deliverance, of the church. The throne of Africa was successively
filled by the two nephews of Hunneric; by Gundamund, who reigned about
twelve, and by Thrasimund, who governed the nation about twenty-seven,
years. Their administration was hostile and oppressive to the orthodox
party. Gundamund appeared to emulate, or even to surpass, the cruelty
of his uncle; and, if at length he relented, if he recalled the bishops,
and restored the freedom of Athanasian worship, a premature death
intercepted the benefits of his tardy clemency. His brother, Thrasimund,
was the greatest and most accomplished of the Vandal kings, whom
he excelled in beauty, prudence, and magnanimity of soul. But this
magnanimous character was degraded by his intolerant zeal and deceitful
clemency. Instead of threats and tortures, he employed the gentle, but
efficacious, powers of seduction. Wealth, dignity, and the royal favor,
were the liberal rewards of apostasy; the Catholics, who had violated
the laws, might purchase their pardon by the renunciation of their
faith; and whenever Thrasimund meditated any rigorous measure, he
patiently waited till the indiscretion of his adversaries furnished him
with a specious opportunity. Bigotry was his last sentiment in the hour
of death; and he exacted from his successor a solemn oath, that he would
never tolerate the sectaries of Athanasius. But his successor, Hilderic,
the gentle son of the savage Hunneric, preferred the duties of humanity
and justice to the vain obligation of an impious oath; and his accession
was gloriously marked by the restoration of peace and universal freedom.
The throne of that virtuous, though feeble monarch, was usurped by his
cousin Gelimer, a zealous Arian: but the Vandal kingdom, before he could
enjoy or abuse his power, was subverted by the arms of Belisarius; and
the orthodox party retaliated the injuries which they had endured.

The passionate declamations of the Catholics, the sole historians
of this persecution, cannot afford any distinct series of causes and
events; any impartial view of the characters, or counsels; but the most
remarkable circumstances that deserve either credit or notice, may be
referred to the following heads; I. In the original law, which is still
extant, Hunneric expressly declares, (and the declaration appears to
be correct,) that he had faithfully transcribed the regulations and
penalties of the Imperial edicts, against the heretical congregations,
the clergy, and the people, who dissented from the established religion.
If the rights of conscience had been understood, the Catholics must have
condemned their past conduct or acquiesced in their actual suffering.
But they still persisted to refuse the indulgence which they claimed.
While they trembled under the lash of persecution, they praised the
_laudable_ severity of Hunneric himself, who burnt or banished great
numbers of Manichæans; and they rejected, with horror, the ignominious
compromise, that the disciples of Arius and of Athanasius should enjoy a
reciprocal and similar toleration in the territories of the Romans, and
in those of the Vandals. II. The practice of a conference, which the
Catholics had so frequently used to insult and punish their obstinate
antagonists, was retorted against themselves. At the command of
Hunneric, four hundred and sixty-six orthodox bishops assembled at
Carthage; but when they were admitted into the hall of audience, they
had the mortification of beholding the Arian Cyrila exalted on the
patriarchal throne. The disputants were separated, after the mutual and
ordinary reproaches of noise and silence, of delay and precipitation, of
military force and of popular clamor. One martyr and one confessor were
selected among the Catholic bishops; twenty-eight escaped by flight,
and eighty-eight by conformity; forty-six were sent into Corsica to cut
timber for the royal navy; and three hundred and two were banished to
the different parts of Africa, exposed to the insults of their enemies,
and carefully deprived of all the temporal and spiritual comforts of
life. The hardships of ten years' exile must have reduced their numbers;
and if they had complied with the law of Thrasimund, which prohibited
any episcopal consecrations, the orthodox church of Africa must have
expired with the lives of its actual members. They disobeyed, and their
disobedience was punished by a second exile of two hundred and twenty
bishops into Sardinia; where they languished fifteen years, till the
accession of the gracious Hilderic. The two islands were judiciously
chosen by the malice of their Arian tyrants. Seneca, from his own
experience, has deplored and exaggerated the miserable state of Corsica,
and the plenty of Sardinia was overbalanced by the unwholesome quality
of the air. III. The zeal of Generic and his successors, for the
conversion of the Catholics, must have rendered them still more jealous
to guard the purity of the Vandal faith. Before the churches were
finally shut, it was a crime to appear in a Barbarian dress; and those
who presumed to neglect the royal mandate were rudely dragged backwards
by their long hair. The palatine officers, who refused to profess the
religion of their prince, were ignominiously stripped of their honors
and employments; banished to Sardinia and Sicily; or condemned to the
servile labors of slaves and peasants in the fields of Utica. In
the districts which had been peculiarly allotted to the Vandals, the
exercise of the Catholic worship was more strictly prohibited; and
severe penalties were denounced against the guilt both of the missionary
and the proselyte. By these arts, the faith of the Barbarians was
preserved, and their zeal was inflamed: they discharged, with devout
fury, the office of spies, informers, or executioners; and whenever
their cavalry took the field, it was the favorite amusement of the march
to defile the churches, and to insult the clergy of the adverse faction.
IV. The citizens who had been educated in the luxury of the Roman
province, were delivered, with exquisite cruelty, to the Moors of the
desert. A venerable train of bishops, presbyters, and deacons, with a
faithful crowd of four thousand and ninety-six persons, whose guilt is
not precisely ascertained, were torn from their native homes, by the
command of Hunneric. During the night they were confined, like a herd of
cattle, amidst their own ordure: during the day they pursued their march
over the burning sands; and if they fainted under the heat and fatigue,
they were goaded, or dragged along, till they expired in the hands of
their tormentors. These unhappy exiles, when they reached the Moorish
huts, might excite the compassion of a people, whose native humanity
was neither improved by reason, nor corrupted by fanaticism: but if
they escaped the dangers, they were condemned to share the distress of a
savage life. V. It is incumbent on the authors of persecution previously
to reflect, whether they are determined to support it in the last
extreme. They excite the flame which they strive to extinguish; and it
soon becomes necessary to chastise the contumacy, as well as the crime,
of the offender. The fine, which he is unable or unwilling to discharge,
exposes his person to the severity of the law; and his contempt of
lighter penalties suggests the use and propriety of capital punishment.
Through the veil of fiction and declamation we may clearly perceive,
that the Catholics more especially under the reign of Hunneric, endured
the most cruel and ignominious treatment. Respectable citizens, noble
matrons, and consecrated virgins, were stripped naked, and raised in the
air by pulleys, with a weight suspended at their feet. In this painful
attitude their naked bodies were torn with scourges, or burnt in the
most tender parts with red-hot plates of iron. The amputation of the
ears the nose, the tongue, and the right hand, was inflicted by the
Arians; and although the precise number cannot be defined, it is evident
that many persons, among whom a bishop and a proconsul may be named,
were entitled to the crown of martyrdom. The same honor has been
ascribed to the memory of Count Sebastian, who professed the Nicene
creed with unshaken constancy; and Genseric might detest, as a heretic,
the brave and ambitious fugitive whom he dreaded as a rival. VI. A
new mode of conversion, which might subdue the feeble, and alarm the
timorous, was employed by the Arian ministers. They imposed, by fraud
or violence, the rites of baptism; and punished the apostasy of the
Catholics, if they disclaimed this odious and profane ceremony, which
scandalously violated the freedom of the will, and the unity of the
sacrament. The hostile sects had formerly allowed the validity of each
other's baptism; and the innovation, so fiercely maintained by the
Vandals, can be imputed only to the example and advice of the Donatists.
VII. The Arian clergy surpassed in religious cruelty the king and his
Vandals; but they were incapable of cultivating the spiritual vineyard,
which they were so desirous to possess. A patriarch might seat himself
on the throne of Carthage; some bishops, in the principal cities, might
usurp the place of their rivals; but the smallness of their numbers, and
their ignorance of the Latin language, disqualified the Barbarians for
the ecclesiastical ministry of a great church; and the Africans, after
the loss of their orthodox pastors, were deprived of the public exercise
of Christianity. VIII. The emperors were the natural protectors of the
Homoousian doctrine; and the faithful people of Africa, both as Romans
and as Catholics, preferred their lawful sovereignty to the usurpation
of the Barbarous heretics. During an interval of peace and friendship,
Hunneric restored the cathedral of Carthage; at the intercession of
Zeno, who reigned in the East, and of Placidia, the daughter and relict
of emperors, and the sister of the queen of the Vandals. But this decent
regard was of short duration; and the haughty tyrant displayed his
contempt for the religion of the empire, by studiously arranging the
bloody images of persecution, in all the principal streets through which
the Roman ambassador must pass in his way to the palace. An oath was
required from the bishops, who were assembled at Carthage, that they
would support the succession of his son Hilderic, and that they would
renounce all foreign or _transmarine_ correspondence. This engagement,
consistent, as it should seem, with their moral and religious duties,
was refused by the more sagacious members of the assembly. Their
refusal, faintly colored by the pretence that it is unlawful for a
Christian to swear, must provoke the suspicions of a jealous tyrant.



Chapter XXXVII: Conversion Of The Barbarians To Christianity.--Part IV.

The Catholics, oppressed by royal and military force, were far superior
to their adversaries in numbers and learning. With the same weapons
which the Greek and Latin fathers had already provided for the Arian
controversy, they repeatedly silenced, or vanquished, the fierce and
illiterate successors of Ulphilas. The consciousness of their own
superiority might have raised them above the arts and passions of
religious warfare. Yet, instead of assuming such honorable pride, the
orthodox theologians were tempted, by the assurance of impunity, to
compose fictions, which must be stigmatized with the epithets of
fraud and forgery. They ascribed their own polemical works to the most
venerable names of Christian antiquity; the characters of Athanasius and
Augustin were awkwardly personated by Vigilius and his disciples; and
the famous creed, which so clearly expounds the mysteries of the Trinity
and the Incarnation, is deduced, with strong probability, from this
African school. Even the Scriptures themselves were profaned by their
rash and sacrilegious hands. The memorable text, which asserts the unity
of the _three_ who bear witness in heaven, is condemned by the universal
silence of the orthodox fathers, ancient versions, and authentic
manuscripts. It was first alleged by the Catholic bishops whom Hunneric
summoned to the conference of Carthage. An allegorical interpretation,
in the form, perhaps, of a marginal note, invaded the text of the
Latin Bibles, which were renewed and corrected in a dark period of ten
centuries. After the invention of printing, the editors of the Greek
Testament yielded to their own prejudices, or those of the times; and
the pious fraud, which was embraced with equal zeal at Rome and at
Geneva, has been infinitely multiplied in every country and every
language of modern Europe.

The example of fraud must excite suspicion: and the specious miracles by
which the African Catholics have defended the truth and justice of their
cause, may be ascribed, with more reason, to their own industry, than
to the visible protection of Heaven. Yet the historian, who views this
religious conflict with an impartial eye, may condescend to mention
_one_ preternatural event, which will edify the devout, and surprise the
incredulous. Tipasa, a maritime colony of Mauritania, sixteen miles
to the east of Cæsarea, had been distinguished, in every age, by the
orthodox zeal of its inhabitants. They had braved the fury of the
Donatists; they resisted, or eluded, the tyranny of the Arians. The
town was deserted on the approach of an heretical bishop: most of the
inhabitants who could procure ships passed over to the coast of Spain;
and the unhappy remnant, refusing all communion with the usurper,
still presumed to hold their pious, but illegal, assemblies. Their
disobedience exasperated the cruelty of Hunneric. A military count was
despatched from Carthage to Tipasa: he collected the Catholics in the
Forum, and, in the presence of the whole province, deprived the
guilty of their right hands and their tongues. But the holy confessors
continued to speak without tongues; and this miracle is attested by
Victor, an African bishop, who published a history of the persecution
within two years after the event. "If any one," says Victor, "should
doubt of the truth, let him repair to Constantinople, and listen to the
clear and perfect language of Restitutus, the sub-deacon, one of these
glorious sufferers, who is now lodged in the palace of the emperor
Zeno, and is respected by the devout empress." At Constantinople we
are astonished to find a cool, a learned, and unexceptionable witness,
without interest, and without passion. Æneas of Gaza, a Platonic
philosopher, has accurately described his own observations on these
African sufferers. "I saw them myself: I heard them speak: I diligently
inquired by what means such an articulate voice could be formed without
any organ of speech: I used my eyes to examine the report of my ears;
I opened their mouth, and saw that the whole tongue had been completely
torn away by the roots; an operation which the physicians generally
suppose to be mortal." The testimony of Æneas of Gaza might be confirmed
by the superfluous evidence of the emperor Justinian, in a perpetual
edict; of Count Marcellinus, in his Chronicle of the times; and of Pope
Gregory the First, who had resided at Constantinople, as the minister of
the Roman pontiff. They all lived within the compass of a century; and
they all appeal to their personal knowledge, or the public notoriety,
for the truth of a miracle, which was repeated in several instances,
displayed on the greatest theatre of the world, and submitted, during
a series of years, to the calm examination of the senses. This
supernatural gift of the African confessors, who spoke without tongues,
will command the assent of those, and of those only, who already
believe, that their language was pure and orthodox. But the stubborn
mind of an infidel, is guarded by secret, incurable suspicion; and
the Arian, or Socinian, who has seriously rejected the doctrine of
a Trinity, will not be shaken by the most plausible evidence of an
Athanasian miracle.

The Vandals and the Ostrogoths persevered in the profession of Arianism
till the final ruin of the kingdoms which they had founded in Africa and
Italy. The Barbarians of Gaul submitted to the orthodox dominion of the
Franks; and Spain was restored to the Catholic church by the voluntary
conversion of the Visigoths.

This salutary revolution was hastened by the example of a royal martyr,
whom our calmer reason may style an ungrateful rebel. Leovigild, the
Gothic monarch of Spain, deserved the respect of his enemies, and the
love of his subjects; the Catholics enjoyed a free toleration, and
his Arian synods attempted, without much success, to reconcile their
scruples by abolishing the unpopular rite of a _second_ baptism. His
eldest son Hermenegild, who was invested by his father with the royal
diadem, and the fair principality of Btica, contracted an honorable and
orthodox alliance with a Merovingian princess, the daughter of Sigebert,
king of Austrasia, and of the famous Brunechild. The beauteous Ingundis,
who was no more than thirteen years of age, was received, beloved, and
persecuted, in the Arian court of Toledo; and her religious constancy
was alternately assaulted with blandishments and violence by Goisvintha,
the Gothic queen, who abused the double claim of maternal authority.
Incensed by her resistance, Goisvintha seized the Catholic princess by
her long hair, inhumanly dashed her against the ground, kicked her till
she was covered with blood, and at last gave orders that she should be
stripped, and thrown into a basin, or fish-pond. Love and honor might
excite Hermenegild to resent this injurious treatment of his bride;
and he was gradually persuaded that Ingundis suffered for the cause
of divine truth. Her tender complaints, and the weighty arguments of
Leander, archbishop of Seville, accomplished his conversion and the heir
of the Gothic monarchy was initiated in the Nicene faith by the solemn
rites of confirmation. The rash youth, inflamed by zeal, and perhaps by
ambition, was tempted to violate the duties of a son and a subject; and
the Catholics of Spain, although they could not complain of persecution,
applauded his pious rebellion against an heretical father. The civil war
was protracted by the long and obstinate sieges of Merida, Cordova,
and Seville, which had strenuously espoused the party of Hermenegild
He invited the orthodox Barbarians, the Seuvi, and the Franks, to the
destruction of his native land; he solicited the dangerous aid of the
Romans, who possessed Africa, and a part of the Spanish coast; and
his holy ambassador, the archbishop Leander, effectually negotiated in
person with the Byzantine court. But the hopes of the Catholics were
crushed by the active diligence of the monarch who commanded the troops
and treasures of Spain; and the guilty Hermenegild, after his vain
attempts to resist or to escape, was compelled to surrender himself into
the hands of an incensed father. Leovigild was still mindful of that
sacred character; and the rebel, despoiled of the regal ornaments, was
still permitted, in a decent exile, to profess the Catholic religion.
His repeated and unsuccessful treasons at length provoked the
indignation of the Gothic king; and the sentence of death, which he
pronounced with apparent reluctance, was privately executed in the tower
of Seville. The inflexible constancy with which he refused to accept the
Arian communion, as the price of his safety, may excuse the honors that
have been paid to the memory of St. Hermenegild. His wife and infant son
were detained by the Romans in ignominious captivity; and this domestic
misfortune tarnished the glories of Leovigild, and imbittered the last
moments of his life.

His son and successor, Recared, the first Catholic king of Spain, had
imbibed the faith of his unfortunate brother, which he supported with
more prudence and success. Instead of revolting against his father,
Recared patiently expected the hour of his death. Instead of condemning
his memory, he piously supposed, that the dying monarch had abjured the
errors of Arianism, and recommended to his son the conversion of the
Gothic nation. To accomplish that salutary end, Recared convened an
assembly of the Arian clergy and nobles, declared himself a Catholic,
and exhorted them to imitate the example of their prince. The laborious
interpretation of doubtful texts, or the curious pursuit of metaphysical
arguments, would have excited an endless controversy; and the monarch
discreetly proposed to his illiterate audience two substantial and
visible arguments,--the testimony of Earth, and of Heaven. The _Earth_
had submitted to the Nicene synod: the Romans, the Barbarians, and the
inhabitants of Spain, unanimously professed the same orthodox creed;
and the Visigoths resisted, almost alone, the consent of the Christian
world. A superstitious age was prepared to reverence, as the testimony
of _Heaven_, the preternatural cures, which were performed by the skill
or virtue of the Catholic clergy; the baptismal fonts of Osset in Btica,
which were spontaneously replenished every year, on the vigil of Easter;
and the miraculous shrine of St. Martin of Tours, which had already
converted the Suevic prince and people of Gallicia. The Catholic king
encountered some difficulties on this important change of the national
religion. A conspiracy, secretly fomented by the queen-dowager, was
formed against his life; and two counts excited a dangerous revolt in
the Narbonnese Gaul. But Recared disarmed the conspirators, defeated the
rebels, and executed severe justice; which the Arians, in their turn,
might brand with the reproach of persecution. Eight bishops, whose names
betray their Barbaric origin, abjured their errors; and all the books of
Arian theology were reduced to ashes, with the house in which they had
been purposely collected. The whole body of the Visigoths and Suevi were
allured or driven into the pale of the Catholic communion; the faith, at
least of the rising generation, was fervent and sincere: and the devout
liberality of the Barbarians enriched the churches and monasteries of
Spain. Seventy bishops, assembled in the council of Toledo, received the
submission of their conquerors; and the zeal of the Spaniards improved
the Nicene creed, by declaring the procession of the Holy Ghost from
the Son, as well as from the Father; a weighty point of doctrine, which
produced, long afterwards, the schism of the Greek and Latin churches.
The royal proselyte immediately saluted and consulted Pope Gregory,
surnamed the Great, a learned and holy prelate, whose reign was
distinguished by the conversion of heretics and infidels. The
ambassadors of Recared respectfully offered on the threshold of
the Vatican his rich presents of gold and gems; they accepted, as a
lucrative exchange, the hairs of St. John the Baptist; a cross, which
enclosed a small piece of the true wood; and a key, that contained some
particles of iron which had been scraped from the chains of St. Peter.

The same Gregory, the spiritual conqueror of Britain, encouraged the
pious Theodelinda, queen of the Lombards, to propagate the Nicene faith
among the victorious savages, whose recent Christianity was polluted by
the Arian heresy. Her devout labors still left room for the industry
and success of future missionaries; and many cities of Italy were still
disputed by hostile bishops. But the cause of Arianism was gradually
suppressed by the weight of truth, of interest, and of example; and
the controversy, which Egypt had derived from the Platonic school, was
terminated, after a war of three hundred years, by the final conversion
of the Lombards of Italy.

The first missionaries who preached the gospel to the Barbarians,
appealed to the evidence of reason, and claimed the benefit of
toleration. But no sooner had they established their spiritual dominion,
than they exhorted the Christian kings to extirpate, without mercy,
the remains of Roman or Barbaric superstition. The successors of Clovis
inflicted one hundred lashes on the peasants who refused to destroy
their idols; the crime of sacrificing to the demons was punished by
the Anglo-Saxon laws with the heavier penalties of imprisonment and
confiscation; and even the wise Alfred adopted, as an indispensable
duty, the extreme rigor of the Mosaic institutions. But the punishment
and the crime were gradually abolished among a Christian people;
the theological disputes of the schools were suspended by propitious
ignorance; and the intolerant spirit which could find neither idolaters
nor heretics, was reduced to the persecution of the Jews. That exiled
nation had founded some synagogues in the cities of Gaul; but Spain,
since the time of Hadrian, was filled with their numerous colonies.
The wealth which they accumulated by trade, and the management of the
finances, invited the pious avarice of their masters; and they might
be oppressed without danger, as they had lost the use, and even the
remembrance, of arms. Sisebut, a Gothic king, who reigned in the
beginning of the seventh century, proceeded at once to the last extremes
of persecution. Ninety thousand Jews were compelled to receive the
sacrament of baptism; the fortunes of the obstinate infidels were
confiscated, their bodies were tortured; and it seems doubtful whether
they were permitted to abandon their native country. The excessive zeal
of the Catholic king was moderated, even by the clergy of Spain, who
solemnly pronounced an inconsistent sentence: _that_ the sacraments
should not be forcibly imposed; but _that_ the Jews who had been
baptized should be constrained, for the honor of the church, to
persevere in the external practice of a religion which they disbelieved
and detested. Their frequent relapses provoked one of the successors of
Sisebut to banish the whole nation from his dominions; and a council
of Toledo published a decree, that every Gothic king should swear to
maintain this salutary edict. But the tyrants were unwilling to dismiss
the victims, whom they delighted to torture, or to deprive themselves
of the industrious slaves, over whom they might exercise a lucrative
oppression. The Jews still continued in Spain, under the weight of
the civil and ecclesiastical laws, which in the same country have been
faithfully transcribed in the Code of the Inquisition. The Gothic kings
and bishops at length discovered, that injuries will produce hatred, and
that hatred will find the opportunity of revenge. A nation, the secret
or professed enemies of Christianity, still multiplied in servitude and
distress; and the intrigues of the Jews promoted the rapid success of
the Arabian conquerors.

As soon as the Barbarians withdrew their powerful support, the unpopular
heresy of Arius sunk into contempt and oblivion. But the Greeks still
retained their subtle and loquacious disposition: the establishment of
an obscure doctrine suggested new questions, and new disputes; and it
was always in the power of an ambitious prelate, or a fanatic monk,
to violate the peace of the church, and, perhaps, of the empire. The
historian of the empire may overlook those disputes which were confined
to the obscurity of schools and synods. The Manichæans, who labored
to reconcile the religions of Christ and of Zoroaster, had secretly
introduced themselves into the provinces: but these foreign sectaries
were involved in the common disgrace of the Gnostics, and the Imperial
laws were executed by the public hatred. The rational opinions of the
Pelagians were propagated from Britain to Rome, Africa, and Palestine,
and silently expired in a superstitious age. But the East was distracted
by the Nestorian and Eutychian controversies; which attempted to explain
the mystery of the incarnation, and hastened the ruin of Christianity in
her native land. These controversies were first agitated under the reign
of the younger Theodosius: but their important consequences extend
far beyond the limits of the present volume. The metaphysical chain of
argument, the contests of ecclesiastical ambition, and their political
influence on the decline of the Byzantine empire, may afford an
interesting and instructive series of history, from the general councils
of Ephesus and Chalcedon, to the conquest of the East by the successors
of Mahomet.



Chapter XXXVIII: Reign Of Clovis.--Part I.

     Reign And Conversion Of Clovis.--His Victories Over The
     Alemanni, Burgundians, And Visigoths.--Establishment Of The
     French Monarchy In Gaul.--Laws Of The Barbarians.--State Of
     The Romans.--The Visigoths Of Spain.--Conquest Of Britain By
     The Saxons.

The Gauls, who impatiently supported the Roman yoke, received a
memorable lesson from one of the lieutenants of Vespasian, whose weighty
sense has been refined and expressed by the genius of Tacitus. "The
protection of the republic has delivered Gaul from internal discord
and foreign invasions. By the loss of national independence, you have
acquired the name and privileges of Roman citizens. You enjoy, in common
with yourselves, the permanent benefits of civil government; and your
remote situation is less exposed to the accidental mischiefs of tyranny.
Instead of exercising the rights of conquest, we have been contented to
impose such tributes as are requisite for your own preservation. Peace
cannot be secured without armies; and armies must be supported at the
expense of the people. It is for your sake, not for our own, that we
guard the barrier of the Rhine against the ferocious Germans, who have
so often attempted, and who will always desire, to exchange the solitude
of their woods and morasses for the wealth and fertility of Gaul. The
fall of Rome would be fatal to the provinces; and you would be buried in
the ruins of that mighty fabric, which has been raised by the valor and
wisdom of eight hundred years. Your imaginary freedom would be insulted
and oppressed by a savage master; and the expulsion of the Romans would
be succeeded by the eternal hostilities of the Barbarian conquerors."
This salutary advice was accepted, and this strange prediction was
accomplished. In the space of four hundred years, the hardy Gauls, who
had encountered the arms of Cæsar, were imperceptibly melted into the
general mass of citizens and subjects: the Western empire was dissolved;
and the Germans, who had passed the Rhine, fiercely contended for the
possession of Gaul, and excited the contempt, or abhorrence, of its
peaceful and polished inhabitants. With that conscious pride which
the preeminence of knowledge and luxury seldom fails to inspire, they
derided the hairy and gigantic savages of the North; their rustic
manners, dissonant joy, voracious appetite, and their horrid appearance,
equally disgusting to the sight and to the smell. The liberal studies
were still cultivated in the schools of Autun and Bordeaux; and the
language of Cicero and Virgil was familiar to the Gallic youth. Their
ears were astonished by the harsh and unknown sounds of the Germanic
dialect, and they ingeniously lamented that the trembling muses fled
from the harmony of a Burgundian lyre. The Gauls were endowed with all
the advantages of art and nature; but as they wanted courage to defend
them, they were justly condemned to obey, and even to flatter, the
victorious Barbarians, by whose clemency they held their precarious
fortunes and their lives.

As soon as Odoacer had extinguished the Western empire, he sought the
friendship of the most powerful of the Barbarians. The new sovereign of
Italy resigned to Euric, king of the Visigoths, all the Roman conquests
beyond the Alps, as far as the Rhine and the Ocean: and the senate might
confirm this liberal gift with some ostentation of power, and without
any real loss of revenue and dominion. The lawful pretensions of Euric
were justified by ambition and success; and the Gothic nation might
aspire, under his command, to the monarchy of Spain and Gaul. Arles
and Marseilles surrendered to his arms: he oppressed the freedom of
Auvergne; and the bishop condescended to purchase his recall from exile
by a tribute of just, but reluctant praise. Sidonius waited before the
gates of the palace among a crowd of ambassadors and suppliants; and
their various business at the court of Bordeaux attested the power,
and the renown, of the king of the Visigoths. The Heruli of the distant
ocean, who painted their naked bodies with its crulean color, implored
his protection; and the Saxons respected the maritime provinces of
a prince, who was destitute of any naval force. The tall Burgundians
submitted to his authority; nor did he restore the captive Franks, till
he had imposed on that fierce nation the terms of an unequal peace. The
Vandals of Africa cultivated his useful friendship; and the Ostrogoths
of Pannonia were supported by his powerful aid against the oppression of
the neighboring Huns. The North (such are the lofty strains of the poet)
was agitated or appeased by the nod of Euric; the great king of Persia
consulted the oracle of the West; and the aged god of the Tyber was
protected by the swelling genius of the Garonne. The fortune of nations
has often depended on accidents; and France may ascribe her greatness
to the premature death of the Gothic king, at a time when his son Alaric
was a helpless infant, and his adversary Clovis an ambitious and valiant
youth.

While Childeric, the father of Clovis, lived an exile in Germany, he
was hospitably entertained by the queen, as well as by the king, of the
Thuringians. After his restoration, Basina escaped from her husband's
bed to the arms of her lover; freely declaring, that if she had known a
man wiser, stronger, or more beautiful, than Childeric, that man should
have been the object of her preference. Clovis was the offspring of this
voluntary union; and, when he was no more than fifteen years of age, he
succeeded, by his father's death, to the command of the Salian tribe.
The narrow limits of his kingdom were confined to the island of the
Batavians, with the ancient dioceses of Tournay and Arras; and at the
baptism of Clovis the number of his warriors could not exceed five
thousand. The kindred tribes of the Franks, who had seated themselves
along the Belgic rivers, the Scheld, the Meuse, the Moselle, and the
Rhine, were governed by their independent kings, of the Merovingian
race; the equals, the allies, and sometimes the enemies of the
Salic prince. But the Germans, who obeyed, in peace, the hereditary
jurisdiction of their chiefs, were free to follow the standard of
a popular and victorious general; and the superior merit of Clovis
attracted the respect and allegiance of the national confederacy. When
he first took the field, he had neither gold and silver in his coffers,
nor wine and corn in his magazine; but he imitated the example of
Cæsar, who, in the same country, had acquired wealth by the sword, and
purchased soldiers with the fruits of conquest. After each successful
battle or expedition, the spoils were accumulated in one common
mass; every warrior received his proportionable share; and the royal
prerogative submitted to the equal regulations of military law.
The untamed spirit of the Barbarians was taught to acknowledge the
advantages of regular discipline. At the annual review of the month of
March, their arms were diligently inspected; and when they traversed a
peaceful territory, they were prohibited from touching a blade of grass.
The justice of Clovis was inexorable; and his careless or disobedient
soldiers were punished with instant death. It would be superfluous to
praise the valor of a Frank; but the valor of Clovis was directed by
cool and consummate prudence. In all his transactions with mankind, he
calculated the weight of interest, of passion, and of opinion; and
his measures were sometimes adapted to the sanguinary manners of the
Germans, and sometimes moderated by the milder genius of Rome, and
Christianity. He was intercepted in the career of victory, since he died
in the forty-fifth year of his age: but he had already accomplished,
in a reign of thirty years, the establishment of the French monarchy in
Gaul.

The first exploit of Clovis was the defeat of Syagrius, the son of
Ægidius; and the public quarrel might, on this occasion, be inflamed
by private resentment. The glory of the father still insulted the
Merovingian race; the power of the son might excite the jealous ambition
of the king of the Franks. Syagrius inherited, as a patrimonial estate,
the city and diocese of Soissons: the desolate remnant of the second
Belgic, Rheims and Troyes, Beauvais and Amiens, would naturally submit
to the count or patrician: and after the dissolution of the Western
empire, he might reign with the title, or at least with the authority,
of king of the Romans. As a Roman, he had been educated in the liberal
studies of rhetoric and jurisprudence; but he was engaged by accident
and policy in the familiar use of the Germanic idiom. The independent
Barbarians resorted to the tribunal of a stranger, who possessed the
singular talent of explaining, in their native tongue, the dictates of
reason and equity. The diligence and affability of their judge rendered
him popular, the impartial wisdom of his decrees obtained their
voluntary obedience, and the reign of Syagrius over the Franks and
Burgundians seemed to revive the original institution of civil society.
In the midst of these peaceful occupations, Syagrius received, and
boldly accepted, the hostile defiance of Clovis; who challenged his
rival in the spirit, and almost in the language, of chivalry, to appoint
the day and the field of battle. In the time of Cæsar Soissons would
have poured forth a body of fifty thousand horse and such an army might
have been plentifully supplied with shields, cuirasses, and military
engines, from the three arsenals or manufactures of the city. But the
courage and numbers of the Gallic youth were long since exhausted; and
the loose bands of volunteers, or mercenaries, who marched under the
standard of Syagrius, were incapable of contending with the national
valor of the Franks. It would be ungenerous without some more accurate
knowledge of his strength and resources, to condemn the rapid flight of
Syagrius, who escaped, after the loss of a battle, to the distant court
of Thoulouse. The feeble minority of Alaric could not assist or protect
an unfortunate fugitive; the pusillanimous Goths were intimidated by the
menaces of Clovis; and the Roman king, after a short confinement,
was delivered into the hands of the executioner. The Belgic cities
surrendered to the king of the Franks; and his dominions were enlarged
towards the East by the ample diocese of Tongres which Clovis subdued in
the tenth year of his reign.

The name of the Alemanni has been absurdly derived from their imaginary
settlement on the banks of the _Leman_ Lake. That fortunate district,
from the lake to the Avenche, and Mount Jura, was occupied by the
Burgundians. The northern parts of Helvetia had indeed been subdued by
the ferocious Alemanni, who destroyed with their own hands the fruits
of their conquest. A province, improved and adorned by the arts of
Rome, was again reduced to a savage wilderness; and some vestige of the
stately Vindonissa may still be discovered in the fertile and populous
valley of the Aar. From the source of the Rhine to its conflux with the
Mein and the Moselle, the formidable swarms of the Alemanni commanded
either side of the river, by the right of ancient possession, or recent
victory. They had spread themselves into Gaul, over the modern provinces
of Alsace and Lorraine; and their bold invasion of the kingdom of
Cologne summoned the Salic prince to the defence of his Ripuarian
allies. Clovis encountered the invaders of Gaul in the plain of Tolbiac,
about twenty-four miles from Cologne; and the two fiercest nations of
Germany were mutually animated by the memory of past exploits, and the
prospect of future greatness. The Franks, after an obstinate struggle,
gave way; and the Alemanni, raising a shout of victory, impetuously
pressed their retreat. But the battle was restored by the valor, and
the conduct, and perhaps by the piety, of Clovis; and the event of the
bloody day decided forever the alternative of empire or servitude. The
last king of the Alemanni was slain in the field, and his people were
slaughtered or pursued, till they threw down their arms, and yielded
to the mercy of the conqueror. Without discipline it was impossible
for them to rally: they had contemptuously demolished the walls and
fortifications which might have protected their distress; and they were
followed into the heart of their forests by an enemy not less active, or
intrepid, than themselves. The great Theodoric congratulated the victory
of Clovis, whose sister Albofleda the king of Italy had lately married;
but he mildly interceded with his brother in favor of the suppliants
and fugitives, who had implored his protection. The Gallic territories,
which were possessed by the Alemanni, became the prize of their
conqueror; and the haughty nation, invincible, or rebellious, to the
arms of Rome, acknowledged the sovereignty of the Merovingian kings,
who graciously permitted them to enjoy their peculiar manners and
institutions, under the government of official, and, at length, of
hereditary, dukes. After the conquest of the Western provinces, the
Franks alone maintained their ancient habitations beyond the Rhine. They
gradually subdued, and civilized, the exhausted countries, as far as the
Elbe, and the mountains of Bohemia; and the peace of Europe was secured
by the obedience of Germany.

Till the thirtieth year of his age, Clovis continued to worship the gods
of his ancestors. His disbelief, or rather disregard, of Christianity,
might encourage him to pillage with less remorse the churches of a
hostile territory: but his subjects of Gaul enjoyed the free exercise of
religious worship; and the bishops entertained a more favorable hope
of the idolater, than of the heretics. The Merovingian prince had
contracted a fortunate alliance with the fair Clotilda, the niece of the
king of Burgundy, who, in the midst of an Arian court, was educated in
the profession of the Catholic faith. It was her interest, as well
as her duty, to achieve the conversion of a Pagan husband; and Clovis
insensibly listened to the voice of love and religion. He consented
(perhaps such terms had been previously stipulated) to the baptism of
his eldest son; and though the sudden death of the infant excited some
superstitious fears, he was persuaded, a second time, to repeat the
dangerous experiment. In the distress of the battle of Tolbiac, Clovis
loudly invoked the God of Clotilda and the Christians; and victory
disposed him to hear, with respectful gratitude, the eloquent Remigius,
bishop of Rheims, who forcibly displayed the temporal and spiritual
advantages of his conversion. The king declared himself satisfied of the
truth of the Catholic faith; and the political reasons which might have
suspended his public profession, were removed by the devout or loyal
acclamations of the Franks, who showed themselves alike prepared to
follow their heroic leader to the field of battle, or to the baptismal
font. The important ceremony was performed in the cathedral of Rheims,
with every circumstance of magnificence and solemnity that could impress
an awful sense of religion on the minds of its rude proselytes. The new
Constantine was immediately baptized, with three thousand of his warlike
subjects; and their example was imitated by the remainder of the _gentle
Barbarians_, who, in obedience to the victorious prelate, adored the
cross which they had burnt, and burnt the idols which they had formerly
adored. The mind of Clovis was susceptible of transient fervor: he was
exasperated by the pathetic tale of the passion and death of Christ;
and, instead of weighing the salutary consequences of that mysterious
sacrifice, he exclaimed, with indiscreet fury, "Had I been present at
the head of my valiant Franks, I would have revenged his injuries." But
the savage conqueror of Gaul was incapable of examining the proofs of
a religion, which depends on the laborious investigation of historic
evidence and speculative theology. He was still more incapable of
feeling the mild influence of the gospel, which persuades and purifies
the heart of a genuine convert. His ambitious reign was a perpetual
violation of moral and Christian duties: his hands were stained with
blood in peace as well as in war; and, as soon as Clovis had dismissed
a synod of the Gallican church, he calmly assassinated _all_ the princes
of the Merovingian race. Yet the king of the Franks might sincerely
worship the Christian God, as a Being more excellent and powerful than
his national deities; and the signal deliverance and victory of Tolbiac
encouraged Clovis to confide in the future protection of the Lord of
Hosts. Martin, the most popular of the saints, had filled the Western
world with the fame of those miracles which were incessantly performed
at his holy sepulchre of Tours. His visible or invisible aid promoted
the cause of a liberal and orthodox prince; and the profane remark of
Clovis himself, that St. Martin was an expensive friend, need not be
interpreted as the symptom of any permanent or rational scepticism. But
earth, as well as heaven, rejoiced in the conversion of the Franks.
On the memorable day when Clovis ascended from the baptismal font, he
alone, in the Christian world, deserved the name and prerogatives of a
Catholic king. The emperor Anastasius entertained some dangerous errors
concerning the nature of the divine incarnation; and the Barbarians of
Italy, Africa, Spain, and Gaul, were involved in the Arian heresy. The
eldest, or rather the only, son of the church, was acknowledged by the
clergy as their lawful sovereign, or glorious deliverer; and the armies
of Clovis were strenuously supported by the zeal and fervor of the
Catholic faction.

Under the Roman empire, the wealth and jurisdiction of the bishops,
their sacred character, and perpetual office, their numerous dependants,
popular eloquence, and provincial assemblies, had rendered them always
respectable, and sometimes dangerous. Their influence was augmented
with the progress of superstition; and the establishment of the French
monarchy may, in some degree, be ascribed to the firm alliance of a
hundred prelates, who reigned in the discontented, or independent,
cities of Gaul. The slight foundations of the _Armorican_ republic had
been repeatedly shaken, or overthrown; but the same people still guarded
their domestic freedom; asserted the dignity of the Roman name; and
bravely resisted the predatory inroads, and regular attacks, of Clovis,
who labored to extend his conquests from the Seine to the Loire. Their
successful opposition introduced an equal and honorable union. The
Franks esteemed the valor of the Armoricans and the Armoricans were
reconciled by the religion of the Franks. The military force which
had been stationed for the defence of Gaul, consisted of one hundred
different bands of cavalry or infantry; and these troops, while they
assumed the title and privileges of Roman soldiers, were renewed by an
incessant supply of the Barbarian youth. The extreme fortifications, and
scattered fragments of the empire, were still defended by their hopeless
courage. But their retreat was intercepted, and their communication
was impracticable: they were abandoned by the Greek princes of
Constantinople, and they piously disclaimed all connection with the
Arian usurpers of Gaul. They accepted, without shame or reluctance, the
generous capitulation, which was proposed by a Catholic hero; and this
spurious, or legitimate, progeny of the Roman legions, was distinguished
in the succeeding age by their arms, their ensigns, and their peculiar
dress and institutions. But the national strength was increased by these
powerful and voluntary accessions; and the neighboring kingdoms dreaded
the numbers, as well as the spirit, of the Franks. The reduction of the
Northern provinces of Gaul, instead of being decided by the chance of
a single battle, appears to have been slowly effected by the gradual
operation of war and treaty and Clovis acquired each object of his
ambition, by such efforts, or such concessions, as were adequate to
its real value. _His_ savage character, and the virtues of Henry IV.,
suggest the most opposite ideas of human nature; yet some resemblance
may be found in the situation of two princes, who conquered France by
their valor, their policy, and the merits of a seasonable conversion.

The kingdom of the Burgundians, which was defined by the course of two
Gallic rivers, the Saone and the Rhône, extended from the forest of
Vosges to the Alps and the sea of Marseilles. The sceptre was in the
hands of Gundobald. That valiant and ambitious prince had reduced the
number of royal candidates by the death of two brothers, one of whom
was the father of Clotilda; but his imperfect prudence still permitted
Godegesil, the youngest of his brothers, to possess the dependent
principality of Geneva. The Arian monarch was justly alarmed by the
satisfaction, and the hopes, which seemed to animate his clergy and
people after the conversion of Clovis; and Gundobald convened at Lyons
an assembly of his bishops, to reconcile, if it were possible, their
religious and political discontents. A vain conference was agitated
between the two factions. The Arians upbraided the Catholics with the
worship of three Gods: the Catholics defended their cause by theological
distinctions; and the usual arguments, objections, and replies were
reverberated with obstinate clamor; till the king revealed his secret
apprehensions, by an abrupt but decisive question, which he addressed to
the orthodox bishops. "If you truly profess the Christian religion, why
do you not restrain the king of the Franks? He has declared war against
me, and forms alliances with my enemies for my destruction. A sanguinary
and covetous mind is not the symptom of a sincere conversion: let him
show his faith by his works." The answer of Avitus, bishop of Vienna,
who spoke in the name of his brethren, was delivered with the voice and
countenance of an angel. "We are ignorant of the motives and intentions
of the king of the Franks: but we are taught by Scripture, that the
kingdoms which abandon the divine law are frequently subverted; and that
enemies will arise on every side against those who have made God their
enemy. Return, with thy people, to the law of God, and he will give
peace and security to thy dominions." The king of Burgundy, who was
not prepared to accept the condition which the Catholics considered
as essential to the treaty, delayed and dismissed the ecclesiastical
conference; after reproaching his bishops, that Clovis, their friend and
proselyte, had privately tempted the allegiance of his brother.



Chapter XXXVIII: Reign Of Clovis.--Part II.

The allegiance of his brother was already seduced; and the obedience of
Godegesil, who joined the royal standard with the troops of Geneva, more
effectually promoted the success of the conspiracy. While the Franks and
Burgundians contended with equal valor, his seasonable desertion decided
the event of the battle; and as Gundobald was faintly supported by
the disaffected Gauls, he yielded to the arms of Clovis, and hastily
retreated from the field, which appears to have been situate between
Langres and Dijon. He distrusted the strength of Dijon, a quadrangular
fortress, encompassed by two rivers, and by a wall thirty feet high, and
fifteen thick, with four gates, and thirty-three towers: he abandoned
to the pursuit of Clovis the important cities of Lyons and Vienna; and
Gundobald still fled with precipitation, till he had reached Avignon, at
the distance of two hundred and fifty miles from the field of battle. A
long siege and an artful negotiation, admonished the king of the Franks
of the danger and difficulty of his enterprise. He imposed a tribute on
the Burgundian prince, compelled him to pardon and reward his brother's
treachery, and proudly returned to his own dominions, with the spoils
and captives of the southern provinces. This splendid triumph was soon
clouded by the intelligence, that Gundobald had violated his recent
obligations, and that the unfortunate Godegesil, who was left at Vienna
with a garrison of five thousand Franks, had been besieged, surprised,
and massacred by his inhuman brother. Such an outrage might have
exasperated the patience of the most peaceful sovereign; yet the
conqueror of Gaul dissembled the injury, released the tribute, and
accepted the alliance, and military service, of the king of Burgundy.
Clovis no longer possessed those advantages which had assured the
success of the preceding war; and his rival, instructed by adversity,
had found new resources in the affections of his people. The Gauls or
Romans applauded the mild and impartial laws of Gundobald, which almost
raised them to the same level with their conquerors. The bishops were
reconciled, and flattered, by the hopes, which he artfully suggested, of
his approaching conversion; and though he eluded their accomplishment
to the last moment of his life, his moderation secured the peace, and
suspended the ruin, of the kingdom of Burgundy.

I am impatient to pursue the final ruin of that kingdom, which was
accomplished under the reign of Sigismond, the son of Gundobald. The
Catholic Sigismond has acquired the honors of a saint and martyr; but
the hands of the royal saint were stained with the blood of his innocent
son, whom he inhumanly sacrificed to the pride and resentment of a
step-mother. He soon discovered his error, and bewailed the irreparable
loss. While Sigismond embraced the corpse of the unfortunate youth, he
received a severe admonition from one of his attendants: "It is not his
situation, O king! it is thine which deserves pity and lamentation."
The reproaches of a guilty conscience were alleviated, however, by
his liberal donations to the monastery of Agaunum, or St. Maurice, in
Vallais; which he himself had founded in honor of the imaginary
martyrs of the Thebæan legion. A full chorus of perpetual psalmody
was instituted by the pious king; he assiduously practised the austere
devotion of the monks; and it was his humble prayer, that Heaven would
inflict in this world the punishment of his sins. His prayer was
heard: the avengers were at hand: and the provinces of Burgundy were
overwhelmed by an army of victorious Franks. After the event of an
unsuccessful battle, Sigismond, who wished to protract his life that
he might prolong his penance, concealed himself in the desert in a
religious habit, till he was discovered and betrayed by his subjects,
who solicited the favor of their new masters. The captive monarch, with
his wife and two children, was transported to Orleans, and buried
alive in a deep well, by the stern command of the sons of Clovis; whose
cruelty might derive some excuse from the maxims and examples of their
barbarous age. Their ambition, which urged them to achieve the conquest
of Burgundy, was inflamed, or disguised, by filial piety: and Clotilda,
whose sanctity did not consist in the forgiveness of injuries, pressed
them to revenge her father's death on the family of his assassin. The
rebellious Burgundians (for they attempted to break their chains) were
still permitted to enjoy their national laws under the obligation of
tribute and military service; and the Merovingian princes peaceably
reigned over a kingdom, whose glory and greatness had been first
overthrown by the arms of Clovis.

The first victory of Clovis had insulted the honor of the Goths. They
viewed his rapid progress with jealousy and terror; and the youthful
fame of Alaric was oppressed by the more potent genius of his rival.
Some disputes inevitably arose on the edge of their contiguous
dominions; and after the delays of fruitless negotiation, a personal
interview of the two kings was proposed and accepted. The conference of
Clovis and Alaric was held in a small island of the Loire, near Amboise.
They embraced, familiarly conversed, and feasted together; and separated
with the warmest professions of peace and brotherly love. But
their apparent confidence concealed a dark suspicion of hostile and
treacherous designs; and their mutual complaints solicited, eluded, and
disclaimed, a final arbitration. At Paris, which he already considered
as his royal seat, Clovis declared to an assembly of the princes and
warriors, the pretence, and the motive, of a Gothic war. "It grieves me
to see that the Arians still possess the fairest portion of Gaul. Let
us march against them with the aid of God; and, having vanquished the
heretics, we will possess and divide their fertile provinces." The
Franks, who were inspired by hereditary valor and recent zeal, applauded
the generous design of their monarch; expressed their resolution to
conquer or die, since death and conquest would be equally profitable;
and solemnly protested that they would never shave their beards till
victory should absolve them from that inconvenient vow. The enterprise
was promoted by the public or private exhortations of Clotilda. She
reminded her husband how effectually some pious foundation would
propitiate the Deity, and his servants: and the Christian hero, darting
his battle-axe with a skilful and nervous band, "There, (said he,) on
that spot where my _Francisca_, shall fall, will I erect a church in
honor of the holy apostles." This ostentatious piety confirmed and
justified the attachment of the Catholics, with whom he secretly
corresponded; and their devout wishes were gradually ripened into
a formidable conspiracy. The people of Aquitain were alarmed by the
indiscreet reproaches of their Gothic tyrants, who justly accused them
of preferring the dominion of the Franks: and their zealous adherent
Quintianus, bishop of Rodez, preached more forcibly in his exile than
in his diocese. To resist these foreign and domestic enemies, who were
fortified by the alliance of the Burgundians, Alaric collected his
troops, far more numerous than the military powers of Clovis. The
Visigoths resumed the exercise of arms, which they had neglected in a
long and luxurious peace; a select band of valiant and robust slaves
attended their masters to the field; and the cities of Gaul were
compelled to furnish their doubtful and reluctant aid. Theodoric, king
of the Ostrogoths, who reigned in Italy, had labored to maintain the
tranquillity of Gaul; and he assumed, or affected, for that purpose, the
impartial character of a mediator. But the sagacious monarch dreaded
the rising empire of Clovis, and he was firmly engaged to support the
national and religious cause of the Goths.

The accidental, or artificial, prodigies which adorned the expedition
of Clovis, were accepted by a superstitious age, as the manifest
declaration of the divine favor. He marched from Paris; and as he
proceeded with decent reverence through the holy diocese of Tours, his
anxiety tempted him to consult the shrine of St. Martin, the sanctuary
and the oracle of Gaul. His messengers were instructed to remark the
words of the Psalm which should happen to be chanted at the precise
moment when they entered the church. Those words most fortunately
expressed the valor and victory of the champions of Heaven, and the
application was easily transferred to the new Joshua, the new Gideon,
who went forth to battle against the enemies of the Lord. Orleans
secured to the Franks a bridge on the Loire; but, at the distance
of forty miles from Poitiers, their progress was intercepted by an
extraordinary swell of the River Vigenna or Vienne; and the opposite
banks were covered by the encampment of the Visigoths. Delay must be
always dangerous to Barbarians, who consume the country through which
they march; and had Clovis possessed leisure and materials, it might
have been impracticable to construct a bridge, or to force a passage,
in the face of a superior enemy. But the affectionate peasants who were
impatient to welcome their deliverer, could easily betray some unknown
or unguarded ford: the merit of the discovery was enhanced by the useful
interposition of fraud or fiction; and a white hart, of singular size
and beauty, appeared to guide and animate the march of the Catholic
army. The counsels of the Visigoths were irresolute and distracted.
A crowd of impatient warriors, presumptuous in their strength, and
disdaining to fly before the robbers of Germany, excited Alaric to
assert in arms the name and blood of the conquerors of Rome. The advice
of the graver chieftains pressed him to elude the first ardor of the
Franks; and to expect, in the southern provinces of Gaul, the veteran
and victorious Ostrogoths, whom the king of Italy had already sent to
his assistance. The decisive moments were wasted in idle deliberation
the Goths too hastily abandoned, perhaps, an advantageous post; and the
opportunity of a secure retreat was lost by their slow and disorderly
motions. After Clovis had passed the ford, as it is still named, of the
_Hart_, he advanced with bold and hasty steps to prevent the escape
of the enemy. His nocturnal march was directed by a flaming meteor,
suspended in the air above the cathedral of Poitiers; and this signal,
which might be previously concerted with the orthodox successor of St.
Hilary, was compared to the column of fire that guided the Israelites
in the desert. At the third hour of the day, about ten miles beyond
Poitiers, Clovis overtook, and instantly attacked, the Gothic army;
whose defeat was already prepared by terror and confusion. Yet they
rallied in their extreme distress, and the martial youths, who had
clamorously demanded the battle, refused to survive the ignominy of
flight. The two kings encountered each other in single combat. Alaric
fell by the hand of his rival; and the victorious Frank was saved by the
goodness of his cuirass, and the vigor of his horse, from the spears of
two desperate Goths, who furiously rode against him to revenge the death
of their sovereign. The vague expression of a mountain of the slain,
serves to indicate a cruel though indefinite slaughter; but Gregory has
carefully observed, that his valiant countryman Apollinaris, the son of
Sidonius, lost his life at the head of the nobles of Auvergne. Perhaps
these suspected Catholics had been maliciously exposed to the blind
assault of the enemy; and perhaps the influence of religion was
superseded by personal attachment or military honor.

Such is the empire of Fortune, (if we may still disguise our ignorance
under that popular name,) that it is almost equally difficult to foresee
the events of war, or to explain their various consequences. A bloody
and complete victory has sometimes yielded no more than the possession
of the field and the loss of ten thousand men has sometimes been
sufficient to destroy, in a single day, the work of ages. The decisive
battle of Poitiers was followed by the conquest of Aquitain. Alaric had
left behind him an infant son, a bastard competitor, factious nobles,
and a disloyal people; and the remaining forces of the Goths were
oppressed by the general consternation, or opposed to each other in
civil discord. The victorious king of the Franks proceeded without delay
to the siege of Angoulême. At the sound of his trumpets the walls of the
city imitated the example of Jericho, and instantly fell to the ground;
a splendid miracle, which may be reduced to the supposition, that
some clerical engineers had secretly undermined the foundations of the
rampart. At Bordeaux, which had submitted without resistance, Clovis
established his winter quarters; and his prudent economy transported
from Thoulouse the royal treasures, which were deposited in the capital
of the monarchy. The conqueror penetrated as far as the confines of
Spain; restored the honors of the Catholic church; fixed in Aquitain
a colony of Franks; and delegated to his lieutenants the easy task of
subduing, or extirpating, the nation of the Visigoths. But the Visigoths
were protected by the wise and powerful monarch of Italy. While the
balance was still equal, Theodoric had perhaps delayed the march of
the Ostrogoths; but their strenuous efforts successfully resisted the
ambition of Clovis; and the army of the Franks, and their Burgundian
allies, was compelled to raise the siege of Arles, with the loss, as it
is said, of thirty thousand men. These vicissitudes inclined the fierce
spirit of Clovis to acquiesce in an advantageous treaty of peace. The
Visigoths were suffered to retain the possession of Septimania, a
narrow tract of sea-coast, from the Rhône to the Pyrenees; but the
ample province of Aquitain, from those mountains to the Loire, was
indissolubly united to the kingdom of France.

After the success of the Gothic war, Clovis accepted the honors of the
Roman consulship. The emperor Anastasius ambitiously bestowed on the
most powerful rival of Theodoric the title and ensigns of that eminent
dignity; yet, from some unknown cause, the name of Clovis has not been
inscribed in the Fasti either of the East or West. On the solemn day,
the monarch of Gaul, placing a diadem on his head, was invested, in the
church of St. Martin, with a purple tunic and mantle. From thence he
proceeded on horseback to the cathedral of Tours; and, as he passed
through the streets, profusely scattered, with his own hand, a donative
of gold and silver to the joyful multitude, who incessantly repeated
their acclamations of _Consul_ and _Augustus_. The actual or legal
authority of Clovis could not receive any new accessions from the
consular dignity. It was a name, a shadow, an empty pageant; and if the
conqueror had been instructed to claim the ancient prerogatives of
that high office, they must have expired with the period of its annual
duration. But the Romans were disposed to revere, in the person of their
master, that antique title which the emperors condescended to assume:
the Barbarian himself seemed to contract a sacred obligation to respect
the majesty of the republic; and the successors of Theodosius, by
soliciting his friendship, tacitly forgave, and almost ratified, the
usurpation of Gaul.

Twenty-five years after the death of Clovis this important concession
was more formally declared, in a treaty between his sons and the emperor
Justinian. The Ostrogoths of Italy, unable to defend their distant
acquisitions, had resigned to the Franks the cities of Arles and
Marseilles; of Arles, still adorned with the seat of a Prætorian
præfect, and of Marseilles, enriched by the advantages of trade and
navigation. This transaction was confirmed by the Imperial authority;
and Justinian, generously yielding to the Franks the sovereignty of the
countries beyond the Alps, which they already possessed, absolved the
provincials from their allegiance; and established on a more lawful,
though not more solid, foundation, the throne of the Merovingians. From
that era they enjoyed the right of celebrating at Arles the games of
the circus; and by a singular privilege, which was denied even to the
Persian monarch, the _gold_ coin, impressed with their name and image,
obtained a legal currency in the empire. A Greek historian of that age
has praised the private and public virtues of the Franks, with a partial
enthusiasm, which cannot be sufficiently justified by their domestic
annals. He celebrates their politeness and urbanity, their regular
government, and orthodox religion; and boldly asserts, that these
Barbarians could be distinguished only by their dress and language from
the subjects of Rome. Perhaps the Franks already displayed the social
disposition, and lively graces, which, in every age, have disguised
their vices, and sometimes concealed their intrinsic merit. Perhaps
Agathias, and the Greeks, were dazzled by the rapid progress of their
arms, and the splendor of their empire. Since the conquest of Burgundy,
Gaul, except the Gothic province of Septimania, was subject, in its
whole extent, to the sons of Clovis. They had extinguished the German
kingdom of Thuringia, and their vague dominion penetrated beyond
the Rhine, into the heart of their native forests. The Alemanni, and
Bavarians, who had occupied the Roman provinces of Rhætia and Noricum,
to the south of the Danube, confessed themselves the humble vassals
of the Franks; and the feeble barrier of the Alps was incapable of
resisting their ambition. When the last survivor of the sons of Clovis
united the inheritance and conquests of the Merovingians, his kingdom
extended far beyond the limits of modern France. Yet modern France,
such has been the progress of arts and policy, far surpasses, in wealth,
populousness, and power, the spacious but savage realms of Clotaire or
Dagobert.

The Franks, or French, are the only people of Europe who can deduce
a perpetual succession from the conquerors of the Western empire. But
their conquest of Gaul was followed by ten centuries of anarchy and
ignorance. On the revival of learning, the students, who had been formed
in the schools of Athens and Rome, disdained their Barbarian ancestors;
and a long period elapsed before patient labor could provide the
requisite materials to satisfy, or rather to excite, the curiosity of
more enlightened times. At length the eye of criticism and philosophy
was directed to the antiquities of France; but even philosophers have
been tainted by the contagion of prejudice and passion. The most extreme
and exclusive systems, of the personal servitude of the Gauls, or of
their voluntary and equal alliance with the Franks, have been rashly
conceived, and obstinately defended; and the intemperate disputants have
accused each other of conspiring against the prerogative of the crown,
the dignity of the nobles, or the freedom of the people. Yet the sharp
conflict has usefully exercised the adverse powers of learning and
genius; and each antagonist, alternately vanquished and victorious has
extirpated some ancient errors, and established some interesting truths.
An impartial stranger, instructed by their discoveries, their disputes,
and even their faults, may describe, from the same original materials,
the state of the Roman provincials, after Gaul had submitted to the arms
and laws of the Merovingian kings.

The rudest, or the most servile, condition of human society, is
regulated, however, by some fixed and general rules. When Tacitus
surveyed the primitive simplicity of the Germans, he discovered some
permanent maxims, or customs, of public and private life, which were
preserved by faithful tradition till the introduction of the art of
writing, and of the Latin tongue. Before the election of the Merovingian
kings, the most powerful tribe, or nation, of the Franks, appointed four
venerable chieftains to compose the _Salic_ laws; and their labors were
examined and approved in three successive assemblies of the people.
After the baptism of Clovis, he reformed several articles that appeared
incompatible with Christianity: the Salic law was again amended by his
sons; and at length, under the reign of Dagobert, the code was revised
and promulgated in its actual form, one hundred years after the
establishment of the French monarchy. Within the same period, the
customs of the _Ripuarians_ were transcribed and published; and
Charlemagne himself, the legislator of his age and country, had
accurately studied the _two_ national laws, which still prevailed among
the Franks. The same care was extended to their vassals; and the rude
institutions of the _Alemanni_ and _Bavarians_ were diligently compiled
and ratified by the supreme authority of the Merovingian kings. The
_Visigoths_ and _Burgundians_, whose conquests in Gaul preceded those
of the Franks, showed less impatience to attain one of the principal
benefits of civilized society. Euric was the first of the Gothic princes
who expressed, in writing, the manners and customs of his people; and
the composition of the Burgundian laws was a measure of policy rather
than of justice; to alleviate the yoke, and regain the affections, of
their Gallic subjects. Thus, by a singular coincidence, the Germans
framed their artless institutions, at a time when the elaborate system
of Roman jurisprudence was finally consummated. In the Salic laws, and
the Pandects of Justinian, we may compare the first rudiments, and the
full maturity, of civil wisdom; and whatever prejudices may be suggested
in favor of Barbarism, our calmer reflections will ascribe to the Romans
the superior advantages, not only of science and reason, but of humanity
and justice. Yet the laws of the Barbarians were adapted to their
wants and desires, their occupations and their capacity; and they all
contributed to preserve the peace, and promote the improvement, of
the society for whose use they were originally established. The
Merovingians, instead of imposing a uniform rule of conduct on their
various subjects, permitted each people, and each family, of their
empire, freely to enjoy their domestic institutions; nor were the Romans
excluded from the common benefits of this legal toleration. The children
embraced the _law_ of their parents, the wife that of her husband, the
freedman that of his patron; and in all causes where the parties were
of different nations, the plaintiff or accuser was obliged to follow the
tribunal of the defendant, who may always plead a judicial presumption
of right, or innocence. A more ample latitude was allowed, if every
citizen, in the presence of the judge, might declare the law under
which he desired to live, and the national society to which he chose
to belong. Such an indulgence would abolish the partial distinctions
of victory: and the Roman provincials might patiently acquiesce in the
hardships of their condition; since it depended on themselves to assume
the privilege, if they dared to assert the character, of free and
warlike Barbarians.



Chapter XXXVIII: Reign Of Clovis.--Part III.

When justice inexorably requires the death of a murderer, each private
citizen is fortified by the assurance, that the laws, the magistrate,
and the whole community, are the guardians of his personal safety. But
in the loose society of the Germans, revenge was always honorable, and
often meritorious: the independent warrior chastised, or vindicated,
with his own hand, the injuries which he had offered or received; and he
had only to dread the resentment of the sons and kinsmen of the enemy,
whom he had sacrificed to his selfish or angry passions. The magistrate,
conscious of his weakness, interposed, not to punish, but to reconcile;
and he was satisfied if he could persuade or compel the contending
parties to pay and to accept the moderate fine which had been
ascertained as the price of blood. The fierce spirit of the Franks would
have opposed a more rigorous sentence; the same fierceness despised
these ineffectual restraints; and, when their simple manners had been
corrupted by the wealth of Gaul, the public peace was continually
violated by acts of hasty or deliberate guilt. In every just government
the same penalty is inflicted, or at least is imposed, for the murder
of a peasant or a prince. But the national inequality established by the
Franks, in their criminal proceedings, was the last insult and abuse of
conquest. In the calm moments of legislation, they solemnly pronounced,
that the life of a Roman was of smaller value than that of a Barbarian.
The _Antrustion_, a name expressive of the most illustrious birth or
dignity among the Franks, was appreciated at the sum of six hundred
pieces of gold; while the noble provincial, who was admitted to the
king's table, might be legally murdered at the expense of three hundred
pieces. Two hundred were deemed sufficient for a Frank of ordinary
condition; but the meaner Romans were exposed to disgrace and danger by
a trifling compensation of one hundred, or even fifty, pieces of gold.
Had these laws been regulated by any principle of equity or reason, the
public protection should have supplied, in just proportion, the want of
personal strength. But the legislator had weighed in the scale, not of
justice, but of policy, the loss of a soldier against that of a slave:
the head of an insolent and rapacious Barbarian was guarded by a
heavy fine; and the slightest aid was afforded to the most defenceless
subjects. Time insensibly abated the pride of the conquerors and the
patience of the vanquished; and the boldest citizen was taught, by
experience, that he might suffer more injuries than he could inflict.
As the manners of the Franks became less ferocious, their laws were
rendered more severe; and the Merovingian kings attempted to imitate the
impartial rigor of the Visigoths and Burgundians. Under the empire of
Charlemagne, murder was universally punished with death; and the use of
capital punishments has been liberally multiplied in the jurisprudence
of modern Europe.

The civil and military professions, which had been separated by
Constantine, were again united by the Barbarians. The harsh sound of the
Teutonic appellations was mollified into the Latin titles of Duke, of
Count, or of Præfect; and the same officer assumed, within his district,
the command of the troops, and the administration of justice. But the
fierce and illiterate chieftain was seldom qualified to discharge the
duties of a judge, which required all the faculties of a philosophic
mind, laboriously cultivated by experience and study; and his rude
ignorance was compelled to embrace some simple, and visible, methods of
ascertaining the cause of justice. In every religion, the Deity has
been invoked to confirm the truth, or to punish the falsehood of human
testimony; but this powerful instrument was misapplied and abused by the
simplicity of the German legislators. The party accused might justify
his innocence, by producing before their tribunal a number of friendly
witnesses, who solemnly declared their belief, or assurance, that he was
not guilty. According to the weight of the charge, this legal number
of _compurgators_ was multiplied; seventy-two voices were required to
absolve an incendiary or assassin: and when the chastity of a queen
of France was suspected, three hundred gallant nobles swore, without
hesitation, that the infant prince had been actually begotten by her
deceased husband. The sin and scandal of manifest and frequent perjuries
engaged the magistrates to remove these dangerous temptations; and to
supply the defects of human testimony by the famous experiments of fire
and water. These extraordinary trials were so capriciously contrived,
that, in some cases, guilt, and innocence in others, could not be
proved without the interposition of a miracle. Such miracles were
really provided by fraud and credulity; the most intricate causes
were determined by this easy and infallible method, and the turbulent
Barbarians, who might have disdained the sentence of the magistrate,
submissively acquiesced in the judgment of God.

But the trials by single combat gradually obtained superior credit and
authority, among a warlike people, who could not believe that a brave
man deserved to suffer, or that a coward deserved to live. Both in civil
and criminal proceedings, the plaintiff, or accuser, the defendant, or
even the witness, were exposed to mortal challenge from the antagonist
who was destitute of legal proofs; and it was incumbent on them either
to desert their cause, or publicly to maintain their honor, in the lists
of battle. They fought either on foot, or on horseback, according to
the custom of their nation; and the decision of the sword, or lance,
was ratified by the sanction of Heaven, of the judge, and of the people.
This sanguinary law was introduced into Gaul by the Burgundians; and
their legislator Gundobald condescended to answer the complaints and
objections of his subject Avitus. "Is it not true," said the king of
Burgundy to the bishop, "that the event of national wars, and private
combats, is directed by the judgment of God; and that his providence
awards the victory to the juster cause?" By such prevailing arguments,
the absurd and cruel practice of judicial duels, which had been peculiar
to some tribes of Germany, was propagated and established in all the
monarchies of Europe, from Sicily to the Baltic. At the end of ten
centuries, the reign of legal violence was not totally extinguished; and
the ineffectual censures of saints, of popes, and of synods, may seem to
prove, that the influence of superstition is weakened by its unnatural
alliance with reason and humanity. The tribunals were stained with the
blood, perhaps, of innocent and respectable citizens; the law, which now
favors the rich, then yielded to the strong; and the old, the feeble,
and the infirm, were condemned, either to renounce their fairest claims
and possessions, to sustain the dangers of an unequal conflict, or
to trust the doubtful aid of a mercenary champion. This oppressive
jurisprudence was imposed on the provincials of Gaul, who complained
of any injuries in their persons and property. Whatever might be the
strength, or courage, of individuals, the victorious Barbarians excelled
in the love and exercise of arms; and the vanquished Roman was unjustly
summoned to repeat, in his own person, the bloody contest which had been
already decided against his country.

A devouring host of one hundred and twenty thousand Germans had formerly
passed the Rhine under the command of Ariovistus. One third part of
the fertile lands of the Sequani was appropriated to their use; and the
conqueror soon repeated his oppressive demand of another third, for the
accommodation of a new colony of twenty-four thousand Barbarians, whom
he had invited to share the rich harvest of Gaul. At the distance of
five hundred years, the Visigoths and Burgundians, who revenged the
defeat of Ariovistus, usurped the same unequal proportion of _two
thirds_ of the subject lands. But this distribution, instead of
spreading over the province, may be reasonably confined to the peculiar
districts where the victorious people had been planted by their own
choice, or by the policy of their leader. In these districts, each
Barbarian was connected by the ties of hospitality with some Roman
provincial. To this unwelcome guest, the proprietor was compelled to
abandon two thirds of his patrimony, but the German, a shepherd and a
hunter, might sometimes content himself with a spacious range of wood
and pasture, and resign the smallest, though most valuable, portion,
to the toil of the industrious husbandman. The silence of ancient and
authentic testimony has encouraged an opinion, that the rapine of
the _Franks_ was not moderated, or disguised, by the forms of a legal
division; that they dispersed themselves over the provinces of Gaul,
without order or control; and that each victorious robber, according to
his wants, his avarice, and his strength, measured with his sword the
extent of his new inheritance. At a distance from their sovereign,
the Barbarians might indeed be tempted to exercise such arbitrary
depredation; but the firm and artful policy of Clovis must curb a
licentious spirit, which would aggravate the misery of the vanquished,
whilst it corrupted the union and discipline of the conquerors. The
memorable vase of Soissons is a monument and a pledge of the regular
distribution of the Gallic spoils. It was the duty and the interest
of Clovis to provide rewards for a successful army, settlements for a
numerous people; without inflicting any wanton or superfluous injuries
on the loyal Catholics of Gaul. The ample fund, which he might
lawfully acquire, of the Imperial patrimony, vacant lands, and
Gothic usurpations, would diminish the cruel necessity of seizure and
confiscation, and the humble provincials would more patiently acquiesce
in the equal and regular distribution of their loss.

The wealth of the Merovingian princes consisted in their extensive
domain. After the conquest of Gaul, they still delighted in the rustic
simplicity of their ancestors; the cities were abandoned to solitude
and decay; and their coins, their charters, and their synods, are still
inscribed with the names of the villas, or rural palaces, in which they
successively resided. One hundred and sixty of these _palaces_, a title
which need not excite any unseasonable ideas of art or luxury, were
scattered through the provinces of their kingdom; and if some might
claim the honors of a fortress, the far greater part could be esteemed
only in the light of profitable farms. The mansion of the long-haired
kings was surrounded with convenient yards and stables, for the cattle
and the poultry; the garden was planted with useful vegetables; the
various trades, the labors of agriculture, and even the arts of hunting
and fishing, were exercised by servile hands for the emolument of the
sovereign; his magazines were filled with corn and wine, either for
sale or consumption; and the whole administration was conducted by
the strictest maxims of private economy. This ample patrimony was
appropriated to supply the hospitable plenty of Clovis and his
successors; and to reward the fidelity of their brave companions who,
both in peace and war, were devoted to their persona service. Instead of
a horse, or a suit of armor, each companion, according to his rank, or
merit, or favor, was invested with a _benefice_, the primitive name,
and most simple form, of the feudal possessions. These gifts might be
resumed at the pleasure of the sovereign; and his feeble prerogative
derived some support from the influence of his liberality. But
this dependent tenure was gradually abolished by the independent and
rapacious nobles of France, who established the perpetual property, and
hereditary succession, of their benefices; a revolution salutary to the
earth, which had been injured, or neglected, by its precarious masters.
Besides these royal and beneficiary estates, a large proportion had been
assigned, in the division of Gaul, of _allodial_ and _Salic_ lands: they
were exempt from tribute, and the Salic lands were equally shared among
the male descendants of the Franks.

In the bloody discord and silent decay of the Merovingian line, a new
order of tyrants arose in the provinces, who, under the appellation
of _Seniors_, or Lords, usurped a right to govern, and a license to
oppress, the subjects of their peculiar territory. Their ambition might
be checked by the hostile resistance of an equal: but the laws were
extinguished; and the sacrilegious Barbarians, who dared to provoke the
vengeance of a saint or bishop, would seldom respect the landmarks of a
profane and defenceless neighbor. The common or public rights of nature,
such as they had always been deemed by the Roman jurisprudence, were
severely restrained by the German conquerors, whose amusement, or rather
passion, was the exercise of hunting. The vague dominion which _Man_ has
assumed over the wild inhabitants of the earth, the air, and the waters,
was confined to some fortunate individuals of the human species. Gaul
was again overspread with woods; and the animals, who were reserved for
the use or pleasure of the lord, might ravage with impunity the fields
of his industrious vassals. The chase was the sacred privilege of the
nobles and their domestic servants. Plebeian transgressors were legally
chastised with stripes and imprisonment; but in an age which admitted a
slight composition for the life of a citizen, it was a capital crime to
destroy a stag or a wild bull within the precincts of the royal forests.

According to the maxims of ancient war, the conqueror became the lawful
master of the enemy whom he had subdued and spared: and the fruitful
cause of personal slavery, which had been almost suppressed by the
peaceful sovereignty of Rome, was again revived and multiplied by the
perpetual hostilities of the independent Barbarians. The Goth, the
Burgundian, or the Frank, who returned from a successful expedition,
dragged after him a long train of sheep, of oxen, and of human captives,
whom he treated with the same brutal contempt. The youths of an elegant
form and an ingenuous aspect were set apart for the domestic service; a
doubtful situation, which alternately exposed them to the favorable or
cruel impulse of passion. The useful mechanics and servants (smiths,
carpenters, tailors, shoemakers, cooks, gardeners, dyers, and workmen
in gold and silver, &c.) employed their skill for the use, or profit,
of their master. But the Roman captives, who were destitute of art, but
capable of labor, were condemned, without regard to their former rank,
to tend the cattle and cultivate the lands of the Barbarians. The number
of the hereditary bondsmen, who were attached to the Gallic estates, was
continually increased by new supplies; and the servile people, according
to the situation and temper of their lords, was sometimes raised by
precarious indulgence, and more frequently depressed by capricious
despotism. An absolute power of life and death was exercised by
these lords; and when they married their daughters, a train of useful
servants, chained on the wagons to prevent their escape, was sent as a
nuptial present into a distant country. The majesty of the Roman laws
protected the liberty of each citizen, against the rash effects of his
own distress or despair. But the subjects of the Merovingian kings might
alienate their personal freedom; and this act of legal suicide, which
was familiarly practised, is expressed in terms most disgraceful and
afflicting to the dignity of human nature. The example of the poor, who
purchased life by the sacrifice of all that can render life desirable,
was gradually imitated by the feeble and the devout, who, in times of
public disorder, pusillanimously crowded to shelter themselves under
the battlements of a powerful chief, and around the shrine of a popular
saint. Their submission was accepted by these temporal or spiritual
patrons; and the hasty transaction irrecoverably fixed their own
condition, and that of their latest posterity. From the reign of Clovis,
during five successive centuries, the laws and manners of Gaul uniformly
tended to promote the increase, and to confirm the duration, of personal
servitude. Time and violence almost obliterated the intermediate ranks
of society; and left an obscure and narrow interval between the noble
and the slave. This arbitrary and recent division has been transformed
by pride and prejudice into a _national_ distinction, universally
established by the arms and the laws of the Merovingians. The nobles,
who claimed their genuine or fabulous descent from the independent and
victorious Franks, have asserted and abused the indefeasible right of
conquest over a prostrate crowd of slaves and plebeians, to whom they
imputed the imaginary disgrace of Gallic or Roman extraction.

The general state and revolutions of _France_, a name which was imposed
by the conquerors, may be illustrated by the particular example of
a province, a diocese, or a senatorial family. Auvergne had formerly
maintained a just preeminence among the independent states and cities
of Gaul. The brave and numerous inhabitants displayed a singular trophy;
the sword of Cæsar himself, which he had lost when he was repulsed
before the walls of Gergovia. As the common offspring of Troy, they
claimed a fraternal alliance with the Romans; and if each province had
imitated the courage and loyalty of Auvergne, the fall of the Western
empire might have been prevented or delayed. They firmly maintained the
fidelity which they had reluctantly sworn to the Visigoths, out
when their bravest nobles had fallen in the battle of Poitiers, they
accepted, without resistance, a victorious and Catholic sovereign. This
easy and valuable conquest was achieved and possessed by Theodoric, the
eldest son of Clovis: but the remote province was separated from his
Austrasian dominions, by the intermediate kingdoms of Soissons, Paris,
and Orleans, which formed, after their father's death, the inheritance
of his three brothers. The king of Paris, Childebert, was tempted by
the neighborhood and beauty of Auvergne. The Upper country, which rises
towards the south into the mountains of the Cevennes, presented a rich
and various prospect of woods and pastures; the sides of the hills
were clothed with vines; and each eminence was crowned with a villa or
castle. In the Lower Auvergne, the River Allier flows through the fair
and spacious plain of Limagne; and the inexhaustible fertility of the
soil supplied, and still supplies, without any interval of repose, the
constant repetition of the same harvests. On the false report, that
their lawful sovereign had been slain in Germany, the city and diocese
of Auvergne were betrayed by the grandson of Sidonius Apollinaris.
Childebert enjoyed this clandestine victory; and the free subjects of
Theodoric threatened to desert his standard, if he indulged his private
resentment, while the nation was engaged in the Burgundian war. But the
Franks of Austrasia soon yielded to the persuasive eloquence of their
king. "Follow me," said Theodoric, "into Auvergne; I will lead you into
a province, where you may acquire gold, silver, slaves, cattle, and
precious apparel, to the full extent of your wishes. I repeat my
promise; I give you the people and their wealth as your prey; and you
may transport them at pleasure into your own country." By the execution
of this promise, Theodoric justly forfeited the allegiance of a people
whom he devoted to destruction. His troops, reënforced by the fiercest
Barbarians of Germany, spread desolation over the fruitful face of
Auvergne; and two places only, a strong castle and a holy shrine, were
saved or redeemed from their licentious fury. The castle of Meroliac was
seated on a lofty rock, which rose a hundred feet above the surface of
the plain; and a large reservoir of fresh water was enclosed, with some
arable lands, within the circle of its fortifications. The Franks beheld
with envy and despair this impregnable fortress; but they surprised a
party of fifty stragglers; and, as they were oppressed by the number
of their captives, they fixed, at a trifling ransom, the alternative of
life or death for these wretched victims, whom the cruel Barbarians were
prepared to massacre on the refusal of the garrison. Another detachment
penetrated as far as Brivas, or Brioude, where the inhabitants, with
their valuable effects, had taken refuge in the sanctuary of St. Julian.
The doors of the church resisted the assault; but a daring soldier
entered through a window of the choir, and opened a passage to his
companions. The clergy and people, the sacred and the profane spoils,
were rudely torn from the altar; and the sacrilegious division was made
at a small distance from the town of Brioude. But this act of impiety
was severely chastised by the devout son of Clovis. He punished with
death the most atrocious offenders; left their secret accomplices to the
vengeance of St. Julian; released the captives; restored the plunder;
and extended the rights of sanctuary five miles round the sepulchre of
the holy martyr.



Chapter XXXVIII: Reign Of Clovis.--Part IV.

Before the Austrasian army retreated from Auvergne, Theodoric exacted
some pledges of the future loyalty of a people, whose just hatred could
be restrained only by their fear. A select band of noble youths, the
sons of the principal senators, was delivered to the conqueror, as the
hostages of the faith of Childebert, and of their countrymen. On the
first rumor of war, or conspiracy, these guiltless youths were reduced
to a state of servitude; and one of them, Attalus, whose adventures are
more particularly related, kept his master's horses in the diocese of
Treves. After a painful search, he was discovered, in this unworthy
occupation, by the emissaries of his grandfather, Gregory bishop of
Langres; but his offers of ransom were sternly rejected by the avarice
of the Barbarian, who required an exorbitant sum of ten pounds of gold
for the freedom of his noble captive. His deliverance was effected by
the hardy stratagem of Leo, an item belonging to the kitchens of the
bishop of Langres. An unknown agent easily introduced him into the same
family. The Barbarian purchased Leo for the price of twelve pieces of
gold; and was pleased to learn that he was deeply skilled in the luxury
of an episcopal table: "Next Sunday," said the Frank, "I shall invite
my neighbors and kinsmen. Exert thy art, and force them to confess,
that they have never seen, or tasted, such an entertainment, even in the
king's house." Leo assured him, that if he would provide a sufficient
quantity of poultry, his wishes should be satisfied. The master who
already aspired to the merit of elegant hospitality, assumed, as his
own, the praise which the voracious guests unanimously bestowed on his
cook; and the dexterous Leo insensibly acquired the trust and management
of his household. After the patient expectation of a whole year, he
cautiously whispered his design to Attalus, and exhorted him to
prepare for flight in the ensuing night. At the hour of midnight, the
intemperate guests retired from the table; and the Frank's son-in-law,
whom Leo attended to his apartment with a nocturnal potation,
condescended to jest on the facility with which he might betray his
trust. The intrepid slave, after sustaining this dangerous raillery,
entered his master's bedchamber; removed his spear and shield; silently
drew the fleetest horses from the stable; unbarred the ponderous gates;
and excited Attalus to save his life and liberty by incessant diligence.
Their apprehensions urged them to leave their horses on the banks of the
Meuse; they swam the river, wandered three days in the adjacent forest,
and subsisted only by the accidental discovery of a wild plum-tree. As
they lay concealed in a dark thicket, they heard the noise of horses;
they were terrified by the angry countenance of their master, and they
anxiously listened to his declaration, that, if he could seize the
guilty fugitives, one of them he would cut in pieces with his sword, and
would expose the other on a gibbet. A length, Attalus and his faithful
Leo reached the friendly habitation of a presbyter of Rheims, who
recruited their fainting strength with bread and wine, concealed them
from the search of their enemy, and safely conducted them beyond the
limits of the Austrasian kingdom, to the episcopal palace of Langres.
Gregory embraced his grandson with tears of joy, gratefully delivered
Leo, with his whole family, from the yoke of servitude, and bestowed on
him the property of a farm, where he might end his days in happiness and
freedom. Perhaps this singular adventure, which is marked with so many
circumstances of truth and nature, was related by Attalus himself, to
his cousin or nephew, the first historian of the Franks. Gregory
of Tours was born about sixty years after the death of Sidonius
Apollinaris; and their situation was almost similar, since each of them
was a native of Auvergne, a senator, and a bishop. The difference of
their style and sentiments may, therefore, express the decay of Gaul;
and clearly ascertain how much, in so short a space, the human mind had
lost of its energy and refinement.

We are now qualified to despise the opposite, and, perhaps, artful,
misrepresentations, which have softened, or exaggerated, the oppression
of the Romans of Gaul under the reign of the Merovingians. The
conquerors never promulgated any _universal_ edict of servitude, or
confiscation; but a degenerate people, who excused their weakness by the
specious names of politeness and peace, was exposed to the arms and
laws of the ferocious Barbarians, who contemptuously insulted their
possessions, their freedom, and their safety. Their personal injuries
were partial and irregular; but the great body of the Romans survived
the revolution, and still preserved the property, and privileges, of
citizens. A large portion of their lands was exacted for the use of the
Franks: but they enjoyed the remainder, exempt from tribute; and the
same irresistible violence which swept away the arts and manufactures
of Gaul, destroyed the elaborate and expensive system of Imperial
despotism. The Provincials must frequently deplore the savage
jurisprudence of the Salic or Ripuarian laws; but their private life,
in the important concerns of marriage, testaments, or inheritance, was
still regulated by the Theodosian Code; and a discontented Roman might
freely aspire, or descend, to the title and character of a Barbarian.
The honors of the state were accessible to his ambition: the education
and temper of the Romans more peculiarly qualified them for the offices
of civil government; and, as soon as emulation had rekindled their
military ardor, they were permitted to march in the ranks, or even at
the head, of the victorious Germans. I shall not attempt to enumerate
the generals and magistrates, whose names attest the liberal policy of
the Merovingians. The supreme command of Burgundy, with the title of
Patrician, was successively intrusted to three Romans; and the last,
and most powerful, Mummolus, who alternately saved and disturbed the
monarchy, had supplanted his father in the station of count of Autun,
and left a treasury of thirty talents of gold, and two hundred and fifty
talents of silver. The fierce and illiterate Barbarians were excluded,
during several generations, from the dignities, and even from the
orders, of the church. The clergy of Gaul consisted almost entirely
of native provincials; the haughty Franks fell at the feet of their
subjects, who were dignified with the episcopal character: and the power
and riches which had been lost in war, were insensibly recovered by
superstition. In all temporal affairs, the Theodosian Code was the
universal law of the clergy; but the Barbaric jurisprudence had
liberally provided for their personal safety; a sub-deacon was
equivalent to two Franks; the _antrustion_, and priest, were held in
similar estimation: and the life of a bishop was appreciated far above
the common standard, at the price of nine hundred pieces of gold.
The Romans communicated to their conquerors the use of the Christian
religion and Latin language; but their language and their religion had
alike degenerated from the simple purity of the Augustan, and Apostolic
age. The progress of superstition and Barbarism was rapid and universal:
the worship of the saints concealed from vulgar eyes the God of
the Christians; and the rustic dialect of peasants and soldiers was
corrupted by a Teutonic idiom and pronunciation. Yet such intercourse
of sacred and social communion eradicated the distinctions of birth and
victory; and the nations of Gaul were gradually confounded under the
name and government of the Franks.

The Franks, after they mingled with their Gallic subjects, might have
imparted the most valuable of human gifts, a spirit and system of
constitutional liberty. Under a king, hereditary, but limited, the
chiefs and counsellors might have debated at Paris, in the palace of the
Cæsars: the adjacent field, where the emperors reviewed their mercenary
legions, would have admitted the legislative assembly of freemen and
warriors; and the rude model, which had been sketched in the woods of
Germany, might have been polished and improved by the civil wisdom
of the Romans. But the careless Barbarians, secure of their personal
independence, disdained the labor of government: the annual assemblies
of the month of March were silently abolished; and the nation was
separated, and almost dissolved, by the conquest of Gaul. The monarchy
was left without any regular establishment of justice, of arms, or
of revenue. The successors of Clovis wanted resolution to assume, or
strength to exercise, the legislative and executive powers, which the
people had abdicated: the royal prerogative was distinguished only by a
more ample privilege of rapine and murder; and the love of freedom, so
often invigorated and disgraced by private ambition, was reduced, among
the licentious Franks, to the contempt of order, and the desire of
impunity. Seventy-five years after the death of Clovis, his grandson,
Gontran, king of Burgundy, sent an army to invade the Gothic possessions
of Septimania, or Languedoc. The troops of Burgundy, Berry, Auvergne,
and the adjacent territories, were excited by the hopes of spoil. They
marched, without discipline, under the banners of German, or Gallic,
counts: their attack was feeble and unsuccessful; but the friendly
and hostile provinces were desolated with indiscriminate rage. The
cornfields, the villages, the churches themselves, were consumed by
fire: the inhabitants were massacred, or dragged into captivity; and,
in the disorderly retreat, five thousand of these inhuman savages
were destroyed by hunger or intestine discord. When the pious Gontran
reproached the guilt or neglect of their leaders, and threatened to
inflict, not a legal sentence, but instant and arbitrary execution, they
accused the universal and incurable corruption of the people. "No one,"
they said, "any longer fears or respects his king, his duke, or his
count. Each man loves to do evil, and freely indulges his criminal
inclinations. The most gentle correction provokes an immediate tumult,
and the rash magistrate, who presumes to censure or restrain his
seditious subjects, seldom escapes alive from their revenge." It has
been reserved for the same nation to expose, by their intemperate vices,
the most odious abuse of freedom; and to supply its loss by the
spirit of honor and humanity, which now alleviates and dignifies their
obedience to an absolute sovereign.

The Visigoths had resigned to Clovis the greatest part of their Gallic
possessions; but their loss was amply compensated by the easy conquest,
and secure enjoyment, of the provinces of Spain. From the monarchy
of the Goths, which soon involved the Suevic kingdom of Gallicia, the
modern Spaniards still derive some national vanity; but the historian
of the Roman empire is neither invited, nor compelled, to pursue the
obscure and barren series of their annals. The Goths of Spain were
separated from the rest of mankind by the lofty ridge of the Pyrenæan
mountains: their manners and institutions, as far as they were common to
the Germanic tribes, have been already explained. I have anticipated,
in the preceding chapter, the most important of their ecclesiastical
events, the fall of Arianism, and the persecution of the Jews; and it
only remains to observe some interesting circumstances which relate to
the civil and ecclesiastical constitution of the Spanish kingdom.

After their conversion from idolatry or heresy, the Frank and the
Visigoths were disposed to embrace, with equal submission, the inherent
evils and the accidental benefits, of superstition. But the prelates
of France, long before the extinction of the Merovingian race, had
degenerated into fighting and hunting Barbarians. They disdained the use
of synods; forgot the laws of temperance and chastity; and preferred the
indulgence of private ambition and luxury to the general interest of the
sacerdotal profession. The bishops of Spain respected themselves, and
were respected by the public: their indissoluble union disguised their
vices, and confirmed their authority; and the regular discipline of the
church introduced peace, order, and stability, into the government of
the state. From the reign of Recared, the first Catholic king, to that
of Witiza, the immediate predecessor of the unfortunate Roderic, sixteen
national councils were successively convened. The six metropolitans,
Toledo, Seville, Merida, Braga, Tarragona, and Narbonne, presided
according to their respective seniority; the assembly was composed of
their suffragan bishops, who appeared in person, or by their proxies;
and a place was assigned to the most holy, or opulent, of the Spanish
abbots. During the first three days of the convocation, as long as they
agitated the ecclesiastical question of doctrine and discipline, the
profane laity was excluded from their debates; which were conducted,
however, with decent solemnity. But, on the morning of the fourth day,
the doors were thrown open for the entrance of the great officers of the
palace, the dukes and counts of the provinces, the judges of the cities,
and the Gothic nobles, and the decrees of Heaven were ratified by the
consent of the people. The same rules were observed in the provincial
assemblies, the annual synods, which were empowered to hear complaints,
and to redress grievances; and a legal government was supported by the
prevailing influence of the Spanish clergy. The bishops, who, in each
revolution, were prepared to flatter the victorious, and to insult the
prostrate labored, with diligence and success, to kindle the flames of
persecution, and to exalt the mitre above the crown. Yet the national
councils of Toledo, in which the free spirit of the Barbarians was
tempered and guided by episcopal policy, have established some prudent
laws for the common benefit of the king and people. The vacancy of the
throne was supplied by the choice of the bishops and palatines; and
after the failure of the line of Alaric, the regal dignity was still
limited to the pure and noble blood of the Goths. The clergy, who
anointed their lawful prince, always recommended, and sometimes
practised, the duty of allegiance; and the spiritual censures were
denounced on the heads of the impious subjects, who should resist his
authority, conspire against his life, or violate, by an indecent
union, the chastity even of his widow. But the monarch himself, when
he ascended the throne, was bound by a reciprocal oath to God and his
people, that he would faithfully execute this important trust. The real
or imaginary faults of his administration were subject to the control of
a powerful aristocracy; and the bishops and palatines were guarded by
a fundamental privilege, that they should not be degraded, imprisoned,
tortured, nor punished with death, exile, or confiscation, unless by the
free and public judgment of their peers.

One of these legislative councils of Toledo examined and ratified the
code of laws which had been compiled by a succession of Gothic kings,
from the fierce Euric, to the devout Egica. As long as the Visigoths
themselves were satisfied with the rude customs of their ancestors, they
indulged their subjects of Aquitain and Spain in the enjoyment of the
Roman law. Their gradual improvement in arts, in policy, and at length
in religion, encouraged them to imitate, and to supersede, these foreign
institutions; and to compose a code of civil and criminal jurisprudence,
for the use of a great and united people. The same obligations, and
the same privileges, were communicated to the nations of the Spanish
monarchy; and the conquerors, insensibly renouncing the Teutonic idiom,
submitted to the restraints of equity, and exalted the Romans to
the participation of freedom. The merit of this impartial policy was
enhanced by the situation of Spain under the reign of the Visigoths.
The provincials were long separated from their Arian masters by the
irreconcilable difference of religion. After the conversion of Recared
had removed the prejudices of the Catholics, the coasts, both of the
Ocean and Mediterranean, were still possessed by the Eastern emperors;
who secretly excited a discontented people to reject the yoke of the
Barbarians, and to assert the name and dignity of Roman citizens. The
allegiance of doubtful subjects is indeed most effectually secured by
their own persuasion, that they hazard more in a revolt, than they
can hope to obtain by a revolution; but it has appeared so natural
to oppress those whom we hate and fear, that the contrary system well
deserves the praise of wisdom and moderation.

While the kingdom of the Franks and Visigoths were established in Gaul
and Spain, the Saxons achieved the conquest of Britain, the third
great diocese of the Præfecture of the West. Since Britain was already
separated from the Roman empire, I might, without reproach, decline a
story familiar to the most illiterate, and obscure to the most learned,
of my readers. The Saxons, who excelled in the use of the oar, or the
battle-axe, were ignorant of the art which could alone perpetuate the
fame of their exploits; the Provincials, relapsing into barbarism,
neglected to describe the ruin of their country; and the doubtful
tradition was almost extinguished, before the missionaries of Rome
restored the light of science and Christianity. The declamations of
Gildas, the fragments, or fables, of Nennius, the obscure hints of the
Saxon laws and chronicles, and the ecclesiastical tales of the venerable
Bede, have been illustrated by the diligence, and sometimes embellished
by the fancy, of succeeding writers, whose works I am not ambitious
either to censure or to transcribe. Yet the historian of the empire
may be tempted to pursue the revolutions of a Roman province, till
it vanishes from his sight; and an Englishman may curiously trace the
establishment of the Barbarians, from whom he derives his name, his
laws, and perhaps his origin.

About forty years after the dissolution of the Roman government,
Vortigern appears to have obtained the supreme, though precarious
command of the princes and cities of Britain. That unfortunate monarch
has been almost unanimously condemned for the weak and mischievous
policy of inviting a formidable stranger, to repel the vexatious inroads
of a domestic foe. His ambassadors are despatched, by the gravest
historians, to the coast of Germany: they address a pathetic oration to
the general assembly of the Saxons, and those warlike Barbarians resolve
to assist with a fleet and army the suppliants of a distant and unknown
island. If Britain had indeed been unknown to the Saxons, the measure
of its calamities would have been less complete. But the strength of the
Roman government could not always guard the maritime province against
the pirates of Germany; the independent and divided states were exposed
to their attacks; and the Saxons might sometimes join the Scots and the
Picts, in a tacit, or express, confederacy of rapine and destruction.
Vortigern could only balance the various perils, which assaulted on
every side his throne and his people; and his policy may deserve either
praise or excuse, if he preferred the alliance of _those_ Barbarians,
whose naval power rendered them the most dangerous enemies and the most
serviceable allies. Hengist and Horsa, as they ranged along the Eastern
coast with three ships, were engaged, by the promise of an ample
stipend, to embrace the defence of Britain; and their intrepid valor
soon delivered the country from the Caledonian invaders. The Isle of
Thanet, a secure and fertile district, was allotted for the residence
of these German auxiliaries, and they were supplied, according to the
treaty, with a plentiful allowance of clothing and provisions. This
favorable reception encouraged five thousand warriors to embark with
their families in seventeen vessels, and the infant power of Hengist
was fortified by this strong and seasonable reenforcement. The crafty
Barbarian suggested to Vortigern the obvious advantage of fixing, in the
neighborhood of the Picts, a colony of faithful allies: a third fleet
of forty ships, under the command of his son and nephew, sailed from
Germany, ravaged the Orkneys, and disembarked a new army on the coast
of Northumberland, or Lothian, at the opposite extremity of the devoted
land. It was easy to foresee, but it was impossible to prevent, the
impending evils. The two nations were soon divided and exasperated
by mutual jealousies. The Saxons magnified all that they had done
and suffered in the cause of an ungrateful people; while the Britons
regretted the liberal rewards which could not satisfy the avarice of
those haughty mercenaries. The causes of fear and hatred were inflamed
into an irreconcilable quarrel. The Saxons flew to arms; and if they
perpetrated a treacherous massacre during the security of a feast, they
destroyed the reciprocal confidence which sustains the intercourse of
peace and war.

Hengist, who boldly aspired to the conquest of Britain, exhorted his
countrymen to embrace the glorious opportunity: he painted in lively
colors the fertility of the soil, the wealth of the cities, the
pusillanimous temper of the natives, and the convenient situation of a
spacious solitary island, accessible on all sides to the Saxon fleets.
The successive colonies which issued, in the period of a century, from
the mouths of the Elbe, the Weser, and the Rhine, were principally
composed of three valiant tribes or nations of Germany; the _Jutes_, the
_old Saxons_, and the _Angles_. The Jutes, who fought under the peculiar
banner of Hengist, assumed the merit of leading their countrymen in the
paths of glory, and of erecting, in Kent, the first independent kingdom.
The fame of the enterprise was attributed to the primitive Saxons; and
the common laws and language of the conquerors are described by the
national appellation of a people, which, at the end of four hundred
years, produced the first monarchs of South Britain. The Angles were
distinguished by their numbers and their success; and they claimed the
honor of fixing a perpetual name on the country, of which they occupied
the most ample portion. The Barbarians, who followed the hopes of rapine
either on the land or sea, were insensibly blended with this triple
confederacy; the _Frisians_, who had been tempted by their vicinity to
the British shores, might balance, during a short space, the strength
and reputation of the native Saxons; the _Danes_, the _Prussians_, the
_Rugians_, are faintly described; and some adventurous _Huns_, who had
wandered as far as the Baltic, might embark on board the German vessels,
for the conquest of a new world. But this arduous achievement was not
prepared or executed by the union of national powers. Each intrepid
chieftain, according to the measure of his fame and fortunes, assembled
his followers; equipped a fleet of three, or perhaps of sixty, vessels;
chose the place of the attack; and conducted his subsequent operations
according to the events of the war, and the dictates of his private
interest. In the invasion of Britain many heroes vanquished and fell;
but only seven victorious leaders assumed, or at least maintained, the
title of kings. Seven independent thrones, the Saxon Heptarchy, were
founded by the conquerors, and seven families, one of which has been
continued, by female succession, to our present sovereign, derived
their equal and sacred lineage from Woden, the god of war. It has
been pretended, that this republic of kings was moderated by a general
council and a supreme magistrate. But such an artificial scheme of
policy is repugnant to the rude and turbulent spirit of the Saxons:
their laws are silent; and their imperfect annals afford only a dark and
bloody prospect of intestine discord.

A monk, who, in the profound ignorance of human life, has presumed to
exercise the office of historian, strangely disfigures the state of
Britain at the time of its separation from the Western empire. Gildas
describes in florid language the improvements of agriculture, the
foreign trade which flowed with every tide into the Thames and the
Severn the solid and lofty construction of public and private edifices;
he accuses the sinful luxury of the British people; of a people,
according to the same writer, ignorant of the most simple arts, and
incapable, without the aid of the Romans, of providing walls of stone,
or weapons of iron, for the defence of their native land. Under the long
dominion of the emperors, Britain had been insensibly moulded into the
elegant and servile form of a Roman province, whose safety was intrusted
to a foreign power. The subjects of Honorius contemplated their new
freedom with surprise and terror; they were left destitute of any civil
or military constitution; and their uncertain rulers wanted either
skill, or courage, or authority, to direct the public force against the
common enemy. The introduction of the Saxons betrayed their internal
weakness, and degraded the character both of the prince and people.
Their consternation magnified the danger; the want of union diminished
their resources; and the madness of civil factions was more solicitous
to accuse, than to remedy, the evils, which they imputed to the
misconduct of their adversaries. Yet the Britons were not ignorant,
they could not be ignorant, of the manufacture or the use of arms; the
successive and disorderly attacks of the Saxons allowed them to recover
from their amazement, and the prosperous or adverse events of the war
added discipline and experience to their native valor.

While the continent of Europe and Africa yielded, without resistance,
to the Barbarians, the British island, alone and unaided, maintained
a long, a vigorous, though an unsuccessful, struggle, against the
formidable pirates, who, almost at the same instant, assaulted the
Northern, the Eastern, and the Southern coasts. The cities which had
been fortified with skill, were defended with resolution; the advantages
of ground, hills, forests, and morasses, were diligently improved by the
inhabitants; the conquest of each district was purchased with blood; and
the defeats of the Saxons are strongly attested by the discreet silence
of their annalist. Hengist might hope to achieve the conquest of
Britain; but his ambition, in an active reign of thirty-five years, was
confined to the possession of Kent; and the numerous colony which he had
planted in the North, was extirpated by the sword of the Britons. The
monarchy of the West Saxons was laboriously founded by the persevering
efforts of three martial generations. The life of Cerdic, one of the
bravest of the children of Woden, was consumed in the conquest of
Hampshire, and the Isle of Wight; and the loss which he sustained in
the battle of Mount Badon, reduced him to a state of inglorious repose.
Kenric, his valiant son, advanced into Wiltshire; besieged Salisbury, at
that time seated on a commanding eminence; and vanquished an army
which advanced to the relief of the city. In the subsequent battle of
Marlborough, his British enemies displayed their military science. Their
troops were formed in three lines; each line consisted of three distinct
bodies, and the cavalry, the archers, and the pikemen, were distributed
according to the principles of Roman tactics. The Saxons charged in
one weighty column, boldly encountered with their short swords the
long lances of the Britons, and maintained an equal conflict till the
approach of night. Two decisive victories, the death of three British
kings, and the reduction of Cirencester, Bath, and Gloucester,
established the fame and power of Ceaulin, the grandson of Cerdic, who
carried his victorious arms to the banks of the Severn.

After a war of a hundred years, the independent Britons still occupied
the whole extent of the Western coast, from the wall of Antoninus to the
extreme promontory of Cornwall; and the principal cities of the inland
country still opposed the arms of the Barbarians. Resistance became
more languid, as the number and boldness of the assailants continually
increased. Winning their way by slow and painful efforts, the Saxons,
the Angles, and their various confederates, advanced from the North,
from the East, and from the South, till their victorious banners were
united in the centre of the island. Beyond the Severn the Britons still
asserted their national freedom, which survived the heptarchy, and even
the monarchy, of the Saxons. The bravest warriors, who preferred
exile to slavery, found a secure refuge in the mountains of Wales: the
reluctant submission of Cornwall was delayed for some ages; and a band
of fugitives acquired a settlement in Gaul, by their own valor, or
the liberality of the Merovingian kings. The Western angle of Armorica
acquired the new appellations of _Cornwall_, and the _Lesser Britain_;
and the vacant lands of the Osismii were filled by a strange people,
who, under the authority of their counts and bishops, preserved the laws
and language of their ancestors. To the feeble descendants of Clovis
and Charlemagne, the Britons of Armorica refused the customary tribute,
subdued the neighboring dioceses of Vannes, Rennes, and Nantes, and
formed a powerful, though vassal, state, which has been united to the
crown of France.



Chapter XXXVIII: Reign Of Clovis.--Part V.

In a century of perpetual, or at least implacable, war, much courage,
and some skill, must have been exerted for the defence of Britain. Yet
if the memory of its champions is almost buried in oblivion, we need
not repine; since every age, however destitute of science or virtue,
sufficiently abounds with acts of blood and military renown. The tomb
of Vortimer, the son of Vortigern, was erected on the margin of the
sea-shore, as a landmark formidable to the Saxons, whom he had thrice
vanquished in the fields of Kent. Ambrosius Aurelian was descended from
a noble family of Romans; his modesty was equal to his valor, and his
valor, till the last fatal action, was crowned with splendid success.
But every British name is effaced by the illustrious name of _Arthur_,
the hereditary prince of the Silures, in South Wales, and the elective
king or general of the nation. According to the most rational account,
he defeated, in twelve successive battles, the Angles of the North, and
the Saxons of the West; but the declining age of the hero was imbittered
by popular ingratitude and domestic misfortunes. The events of his life
are less interesting than the singular revolutions of his fame. During
a period of five hundred years the tradition of his exploits was
preserved, and rudely embellished, by the obscure bards of Wales and
Armorica, who were odious to the Saxons, and unknown to the rest of
mankind. The pride and curiosity of the Norman conquerors prompted them
to inquire into the ancient history of Britain: they listened with fond
credulity to the tale of Arthur, and eagerly applauded the merit of
a prince who had triumphed over the Saxons, their common enemies. His
romance, transcribed in the Latin of Jeffrey of Monmouth, and afterwards
translated into the fashionable idiom of the times, was enriched with
the various, though incoherent, ornaments which were familiar to the
experience, the learning, or the fancy, of the twelfth century. The
progress of a Phrygian colony, from the Tyber to the Thames, was easily
ingrafted on the fable of the Æneid; and the royal ancestors of Arthur
derived their origin from Troy, and claimed their alliance with the
Cæsars. His trophies were decorated with captive provinces and Imperial
titles; and his Danish victories avenged the recent injuries of his
country. The gallantry and superstition of the British hero, his feasts
and tournaments, and the memorable institution of his Knights of the
_Round Table_, were faithfully copied from the reigning manners
of chivalry; and the fabulous exploits of Uther's son appear less
incredible than the adventures which were achieved by the enterprising
valor of the Normans. Pilgrimage, and the holy wars, introduced into
Europe the specious miracles of Arabian magic. Fairies and giants,
flying dragons, and enchanted palaces, were blended with the more simple
fictions of the West; and the fate of Britain depended on the art,
or the predictions, of Merlin. Every nation embraced and adorned the
popular romance of Arthur, and the Knights of the Round Table: their
names were celebrated in Greece and Italy; and the voluminous tales of
Sir Lancelot and Sir Tristram were devoutly studied by the princes and
nobles, who disregarded the genuine heroes and historians of antiquity.
At length the light of science and reason was rekindled; the talisman
was broken; the visionary fabric melted into air; and by a natural,
though unjust, reverse of the public opinion, the severity of the
present age is inclined to question the _existence_ of Arthur.

Resistance, if it cannot avert, must increase the miseries of conquest;
and conquest has never appeared more dreadful and destructive than in
the hands of the Saxons; who hated the valor of their enemies, disdained
the faith of treaties, and violated, without remorse, the most sacred
objects of the Christian worship. The fields of battle might be traced,
almost in every district, by monuments of bones; the fragments of
falling towers were stained with blood; the last of the Britons, without
distinction of age or sex, was massacred, in the ruins of Anderida; and
the repetition of such calamities was frequent and familiar under the
Saxon heptarchy. The arts and religion, the laws and language, which
the Romans had so carefully planted in Britain, were extirpated by their
barbarous successors. After the destruction of the principal churches,
the bishops, who had declined the crown of martyrdom, retired with the
holy relics into Wales and Armorica; the remains of their flocks
were left destitute of any spiritual food; the practice, and even the
remembrance, of Christianity were abolished; and the British clergy
might obtain some comfort from the damnation of the idolatrous
strangers. The kings of France maintained the privileges of their Roman
subjects; but the ferocious Saxons trampled on the laws of Rome, and of
the emperors. The proceedings of civil and criminal jurisdiction, the
titles of honor, the forms of office, the ranks of society, and even the
domestic rights of marriage, testament, and inheritance, were finally
suppressed; and the indiscriminate crowd of noble and plebeian slaves
was governed by the traditionary customs, which had been coarsely framed
for the shepherds and pirates of Germany. The language of science, of
business, and of conversation, which had been introduced by the Romans,
was lost in the general desolation. A sufficient number of Latin or
Celtic words might be assumed by the Germans, to express their new wants
and ideas; but those _illiterate_ Pagans preserved and established the
use of their national dialect. Almost every name, conspicuous either in
the church or state, reveals its Teutonic origin; and the geography
of _England_ was universally inscribed with foreign characters and
appellations. The example of a revolution, so rapid and so complete, may
not easily be found; but it will excite a probable suspicion, that the
arts of Rome were less deeply rooted in Britain than in Gaul or Spain;
and that the native rudeness of the country and its inhabitants was
covered by a thin varnish of Italian manners.

This strange alteration has persuaded historians, and even philosophers,
that the provincials of Britain were totally exterminated; and that
the vacant land was again peopled by the perpetual influx, and rapid
increase, of the German colonies. Three hundred thousand Saxons are
_said_ to have obeyed the summons of Hengist; the entire emigration of
the Angles was attested, in the age of Bede, by the solitude of their
native country; and our experience has shown the free propagation of the
human race, if they are cast on a fruitful wilderness, where their steps
are unconfined, and their subsistence is plentiful. The Saxon kingdoms
displayed the face of recent discovery and cultivation; the towns
were small, the villages were distant; the husbandry was languid and
unskilful; four sheep were equivalent to an acre of the best land; an
ample space of wood and morass was resigned to the vague dominion of
nature; and the modern bishopric of Durham, the whole territory from the
Tyne to the Tees, had returned to its primitive state of a savage and
solitary forest. Such imperfect population might have been supplied, in
some generations, by the English colonies; but neither reason nor
facts can justify the unnatural supposition, that the Saxons of
Britain remained alone in the desert which they had subdued. After the
sanguinary Barbarians had secured their dominion, and gratified their
revenge, it was their interest to preserve the peasants as well as the
cattle, of the unresisting country. In each successive revolution, the
patient herd becomes the property of its new masters; and the salutary
compact of food and labor is silently ratified by their mutual
necessities. Wilfrid, the apostle of Sussex, accepted from his royal
convert the gift of the peninsula of Selsey, near Chichester, with
the persons and property of its inhabitants, who then amounted to
eighty-seven families. He released them at once from spiritual and
temporal bondage; and two hundred and fifty slaves of both sexes were
baptized by their indulgent master. The kingdom of Sussex, which spread
from the sea to the Thames, contained seven thousand families; twelve
hundred were ascribed to the Isle of Wight; and, if we multiply this
vague computation, it may seem probable, that England was cultivated by
a million of servants, or _villains_, who were attached to the estates
of their arbitrary landlords. The indigent Barbarians were often tempted
to sell their children, or themselves into perpetual, and even foreign,
bondage; yet the special exemptions which were granted to _national_
slaves, sufficiently declare that they were much less numerous than the
strangers and captives, who had lost their liberty, or changed their
masters, by the accidents of war. When time and religion had mitigated
the fierce spirit of the Anglo-Saxons, the laws encouraged the frequent
practice of manumission; and their subjects, of Welsh or Cambrian
extraction, assumed the respectable station of inferior freemen,
possessed of lands, and entitled to the rights of civil society. Such
gentle treatment might secure the allegiance of a fierce people, who had
been recently subdued on the confines of Wales and Cornwall. The sage
Ina, the legislator of Wessex, united the two nations in the bands
of domestic alliance; and four British lords of Somersetshire may be
honorably distinguished in the court of a Saxon monarch.

The independent Britons appear to have relapsed into the state of
original barbarism, from whence they had been imperfectly reclaimed.
Separated by their enemies from the rest of mankind, they soon became an
object of scandal and abhorrence to the Catholic world. Christianity was
still professed in the mountains of Wales; but the rude schismatics, in
the _form_ of the clerical tonsure, and in the _day_ of the celebration
of Easter, obstinately resisted the imperious mandates of the Roman
pontiffs. The use of the Latin language was insensibly abolished,
and the Britons were deprived of the art and learning which Italy
communicated to her Saxon proselytes. In Wales and Armorica, the Celtic
tongue, the native idiom of the West, was preserved and propagated;
and the _Bards_, who had been the companions of the Druids, were still
protected, in the sixteenth century, by the laws of Elizabeth. Their
chief, a respectable officer of the courts of Pengwern, or Aberfraw, or
Caermarthen, accompanied the king's servants to war: the monarchy of the
Britons, which he sung in the front of battle, excited their courage,
and justified their depredations; and the songster claimed for his
legitimate prize the fairest heifer of the spoil. His subordinate
ministers, the masters and disciples of vocal and instrumental music,
visited, in their respective circuits, the royal, the noble, and the
plebeian houses; and the public poverty, almost exhausted by the clergy,
was oppressed by the importunate demands of the bards. Their rank
and merit were ascertained by solemn trials, and the strong belief
of supernatural inspiration exalted the fancy of the poet, and of his
audience. The last retreats of Celtic freedom, the extreme territories
of Gaul and Britain, were less adapted to agriculture than to pasturage:
the wealth of the Britons consisted in their flocks and herds; milk and
flesh were their ordinary food; and bread was sometimes esteemed, or
rejected, as a foreign luxury. Liberty had peopled the mountains of
Wales and the morasses of Armorica; but their populousness has been
maliciously ascribed to the loose practice of polygamy; and the houses
of these licentious barbarians have been supposed to contain ten wives,
and perhaps fifty children. Their disposition was rash and choleric;
they were bold in action and in speech; and as they were ignorant of the
arts of peace, they alternately indulged their passions in foreign and
domestic war. The cavalry of Armorica, the spearmen of Gwent, and the
archers of Merioneth, were equally formidable; but their poverty could
seldom procure either shields or helmets; and the inconvenient weight
would have retarded the speed and agility of their desultory operations.
One of the greatest of the English monarchs was requested to satisfy the
curiosity of a Greek emperor concerning the state of Britain; and Henry
II. could assert, from his personal experience, that Wales was inhabited
by a race of naked warriors, who encountered, without fear, the
defensive armor of their enemies.

By the revolution of Britain, the limits of science, as well as of
empire, were contracted. The dark cloud, which had been cleared by the
Phoenician discoveries, and finally dispelled by the arms of Cæsar, again
settled on the shores of the Atlantic, and a Roman province was again
lost among the fabulous Islands of the Ocean. One hundred and fifty
years after the reign of Honorius, the gravest historian of the times
describes the wonders of a remote isle, whose eastern and western parts
are divided by an antique wall, the boundary of life and death, or, more
properly, of truth and fiction. The east is a fair country, inhabited
by a civilized people: the air is healthy, the waters are pure and
plentiful, and the earth yields her regular and fruitful increase. In
the west, beyond the wall, the air is infectious and mortal; the ground
is covered with serpents; and this dreary solitude is the region of
departed spirits, who are transported from the opposite shores in
substantial boats, and by living rowers. Some families of fishermen, the
subjects of the Franks, are excused from tribute, in consideration of
the mysterious office which is performed by these Charons of the ocean.
Each in his turn is summoned, at the hour of midnight, to hear the
voices, and even the names, of the ghosts: he is sensible of their
weight, and he feels himself impelled by an unknown, but irresistible
power. After this dream of fancy, we read with astonishment, that the
name of this island is _Brittia_; that it lies in the ocean, against the
mouth of the Rhine, and less than thirty miles from the continent; that
it is possessed by three nations, the Frisians, the Angles, and the
Britons; and that some Angles had appeared at Constantinople, in the
train of the French ambassadors. From these ambassadors Procopius might
be informed of a singular, though not improbable, adventure, which
announces the spirit, rather than the delicacy, of an English heroine.
She had been betrothed to Radiger, king of the Varni, a tribe of Germans
who touched the ocean and the Rhine; but the perfidious lover was
tempted, by motives of policy, to prefer his father's widow, the sister
of Theodebert, king of the Franks. The forsaken princess of the Angles,
instead of bewailing, revenged her disgrace. Her warlike subjects are
said to have been ignorant of the use, and even of the form, of a horse;
but she boldly sailed from Britain to the mouth of the Rhine, with a
fleet of four hundred ships, and an army of one hundred thousand men.
After the loss of a battle, the captive Radiger implored the mercy of
his victorious bride, who generously pardoned his offence, dismissed her
rival, and compelled the king of the Varni to discharge with honor and
fidelity the duties of a husband. This gallant exploit appears to be the
last naval enterprise of the Anglo-Saxons. The arts of navigation, by
which they acquired the empire of Britain and of the sea, were soon
neglected by the indolent Barbarians, who supinely renounced all the
commercial advantages of their insular situation. Seven independent
kingdoms were agitated by perpetual discord; and the _British world_ was
seldom connected, either in peace or war, with the nations of the
Continent.

I have now accomplished the laborious narrative of the decline and fall
of the Roman empire, from the fortunate age of Trajan and the Antonines,
to its total extinction in the West, about five centuries after the
Christian era. At that unhappy period, the Saxons fiercely struggled
with the natives for the possession of Britain: Gaul and Spain were
divided between the powerful monarchies of the Franks and Visigoths, and
the dependent kingdoms of the Suevi and Burgundians: Africa was exposed
to the cruel persecution of the Vandals, and the savage insults of the
Moors: Rome and Italy, as far as the banks of the Danube, were afflicted
by an army of Barbarian mercenaries, whose lawless tyranny was succeeded
by the reign of Theodoric the Ostrogoth. All the subjects of the empire,
who, by the use of the Latin language, more particularly deserved
the name and privileges of Romans, were oppressed by the disgrace and
calamities of foreign conquest; and the victorious nations of Germany
established a new system of manners and government in the western
countries of Europe. The majesty of Rome was faintly represented by
the princes of Constantinople, the feeble and imaginary successors of
Augustus. Yet they continued to reign over the East, from the Danube to
the Nile and Tigris; the Gothic and Vandal kingdoms of Italy and Africa
were subverted by the arms of Justinian; and the history of the _Greek_
emperors may still afford a long series of instructive lessons, and
interesting revolutions.



Chapter XXXVIII: Reign Of Clovis.--Part VI.

General Observations On The Fall Of The Roman Empire In The West.

The Greeks, after their country had been reduced into a province,
imputed the triumphs of Rome, not to the merit, but to the fortune, of
the republic. The inconstant goddess, who so blindly distributes and
resumes her favors, had now consented (such was the language of envious
flattery) to resign her wings, to descend from her globe, and to fix her
firm and immutable throne on the banks of the Tyber. A wiser Greek, who
has composed, with a philosophic spirit, the memorable history of his
own times, deprived his countrymen of this vain and delusive comfort, by
opening to their view the deep foundations of the greatness of Rome. The
fidelity of the citizens to each other, and to the state, was confirmed
by the habits of education, and the prejudices of religion. Honor,
as well as virtue, was the principle of the republic; the ambitious
citizens labored to deserve the solemn glories of a triumph; and the
ardor of the Roman youth was kindled into active emulation, as often
as they beheld the domestic images of their ancestors. The temperate
struggles of the patricians and plebeians had finally established the
firm and equal balance of the constitution; which united the freedom of
popular assemblies, with the authority and wisdom of a senate, and the
executive powers of a regal magistrate. When the consul displayed the
standard of the republic, each citizen bound himself, by the obligation
of an oath, to draw his sword in the cause of his country, till he had
discharged the sacred duty by a military service of ten years. This wise
institution continually poured into the field the rising generations of
freemen and soldiers; and their numbers were reënforced by the warlike
and populous states of Italy, who, after a brave resistance, had
yielded to the valor and embraced the alliance, of the Romans. The sage
historian, who excited the virtue of the younger Scipio, and beheld the
ruin of Carthage, has accurately described their military system; their
levies, arms, exercises, subordination, marches, encampments; and the
invincible legion, superior in active strength to the Macedonian phalanx
of Philip and Alexander. From these institutions of peace and war
Polybius has deduced the spirit and success of a people, incapable of
fear, and impatient of repose. The ambitious design of conquest, which
might have been defeated by the seasonable conspiracy of mankind, was
attempted and achieved; and the perpetual violation of justice was
maintained by the political virtues of prudence and courage. The arms of
the republic, sometimes vanquished in battle, always victorious in war,
advanced with rapid steps to the Euphrates, the Danube, the Rhine, and
the Ocean; and the images of gold, or silver, or brass, that might serve
to represent the nations and their kings, were successively broken by
the _iron_ monarchy of Rome.

The rise of a city, which swelled into an empire, may deserve, as a
singular prodigy, the reflection of a philosophic mind. But the decline
of Rome was the natural and inevitable effect of immoderate greatness.
Prosperity ripened the principle of decay; the causes of destruction
multiplied with the extent of conquest; and as soon as time or accident
had removed the artificial supports, the stupendous fabric yielded to
the pressure of its own weight. The story of its ruin is simple and
obvious; and instead of inquiring _why_ the Roman empire was destroyed,
we should rather be surprised that it had subsisted so long. The
victorious legions, who, in distant wars, acquired the vices of
strangers and mercenaries, first oppressed the freedom of the republic,
and afterwards violated the majesty of the purple. The emperors, anxious
for their personal safety and the public peace, were reduced to the
base expedient of corrupting the discipline which rendered them alike
formidable to their sovereign and to the enemy; the vigor of the
military government was relaxed, and finally dissolved, by the partial
institutions of Constantine; and the Roman world was overwhelmed by a
deluge of Barbarians.

The decay of Rome has been frequently ascribed to the translation of the
seat of empire; but this History has already shown, that the powers
of government were _divided_, rather than _removed_. The throne of
Constantinople was erected in the East; while the West was still
possessed by a series of emperors who held their residence in Italy,
and claimed their equal inheritance of the legions and provinces. This
dangerous novelty impaired the strength, and fomented the vices, of a
double reign: the instruments of an oppressive and arbitrary system were
multiplied; and a vain emulation of luxury, not of merit, was introduced
and supported between the degenerate successors of Theodosius. Extreme
distress, which unites the virtue of a free people, imbitters the
factions of a declining monarchy. The hostile favorites of Arcadius and
Honorius betrayed the republic to its common enemies; and the Byzantine
court beheld with indifference, perhaps with pleasure, the disgrace
of Rome, the misfortunes of Italy, and the loss of the West. Under the
succeeding reigns, the alliance of the two empires was restored; but the
aid of the Oriental Romans was tardy, doubtful, and ineffectual; and the
national schism of the Greeks and Latins was enlarged by the perpetual
difference of language and manners, of interests, and even of religion.
Yet the salutary event approved in some measure the judgment of
Constantine. During a long period of decay, his impregnable city
repelled the victorious armies of Barbarians, protected the wealth of
Asia, and commanded, both in peace and war, the important straits
which connect the Euxine and Mediterranean Seas. The foundation of
Constantinople more essentially contributed to the preservation of the
East, than to the ruin of the West.

As the happiness of a _future_ life is the great object of religion, we
may hear without surprise or scandal, that the introduction or at least
the abuse, of Christianity had some influence on the decline and fall
of the Roman empire. The clergy successfully preached the doctrines
of patience and pusillanimity: the active virtues of society were
discouraged; and the last remains of military spirit were buried in the
cloister: a large portion of public and private wealth was consecrated
to the specious demands of charity and devotion; and the soldiers' pay
was lavished on the useless multitudes of both sexes, who could only
plead the merits of abstinence and chastity. Faith, zeal, curiosity,
and the more earthly passions of malice and ambition, kindled the flame
of theological discord; the church, and even the state, were distracted
by religious factions, whose conflicts were sometimes bloody, and always
implacable; the attention of the emperors was diverted from camps to
synods; the Roman world was oppressed by a new species of tyranny; and
the persecuted sects became the secret enemies of their country. Yet
party spirit, however pernicious or absurd, is a principle of union
as well as of dissension. The bishops, from eighteen hundred pulpits,
inculcated the duty of passive obedience to a lawful and orthodox
sovereign; their frequent assemblies, and perpetual correspondence,
maintained the communion of distant churches; and the benevolent temper
of the gospel was strengthened, though confined, by the spiritual
alliance of the Catholics. The sacred indolence of the monks was
devoutly embraced by a servile and effeminate age; but if superstition
had not afforded a decent retreat, the same vices would have tempted
the unworthy Romans to desert, from baser motives, the standard of
the republic. Religious precepts are easily obeyed, which indulge and
sanctify the natural inclinations of their votaries; but the pure and
genuine influence of Christianity may be traced in its beneficial,
though imperfect, effects on the Barbarian proselytes of the North.
If the decline of the Roman empire was hastened by the conversion of
Constantine, his victorious religion broke the violence of the fall, and
mollified the ferocious temper of the conquerors.

This awful revolution may be usefully applied to the instruction of
the present age. It is the duty of a patriot to prefer and promote the
exclusive interest and glory of his native country: but a philosopher
may be permitted to enlarge his views, and to consider Europe as one
great republic whose various inhabitants have obtained almost the same
level of politeness and cultivation. The balance of power will continue
to fluctuate, and the prosperity of our own, or the neighboring
kingdoms, may be alternately exalted or depressed; but these partial
events cannot essentially injure our general state of happiness,
the system of arts, and laws, and manners, which so advantageously
distinguish, above the rest of mankind, the Europeans and their
colonies. The savage nations of the globe are the common enemies of
civilized society; and we may inquire, with anxious curiosity, whether
Europe is still threatened with a repetition of those calamities, which
formerly oppressed the arms and institutions of Rome. Perhaps the same
reflections will illustrate the fall of that mighty empire, and explain
the probable causes of our actual security.

I. The Romans were ignorant of the extent of their danger, and the
number of their enemies. Beyond the Rhine and Danube, the Northern
countries of Europe and Asia were filled with innumerable tribes of
hunters and shepherds, poor, voracious, and turbulent; bold in arms,
and impatient to ravish the fruits of industry. The Barbarian world was
agitated by the rapid impulse of war; and the peace of Gaul or Italy was
shaken by the distant revolutions of China. The Huns, who fled before a
victorious enemy, directed their march towards the West; and the torrent
was swelled by the gradual accession of captives and allies. The flying
tribes who yielded to the Huns assumed in _their_ turn the spirit of
conquest; the endless column of Barbarians pressed on the Roman empire
with accumulated weight; and, if the foremost were destroyed, the vacant
space was instantly replenished by new assailants. Such formidable
emigrations can no longer issue from the North; and the long repose,
which has been imputed to the decrease of population, is the happy
consequence of the progress of arts and agriculture. Instead of some
rude villages, thinly scattered among its woods and morasses, Germany
now produces a list of two thousand three hundred walled towns:
the Christian kingdoms of Denmark, Sweden, and Poland, have been
successively established; and the Hanse merchants, with the Teutonic
knights, have extended their colonies along the coast of the Baltic,
as far as the Gulf of Finland. From the Gulf of Finland to the Eastern
Ocean, Russia now assumes the form of a powerful and civilized empire.
The plough, the loom, and the forge, are introduced on the banks of the
Volga, the Oby, and the Lena; and the fiercest of the Tartar hordes have
been taught to tremble and obey. The reign of independent Barbarism is
now contracted to a narrow span; and the remnant of Calmucks or Uzbecks,
whose forces may be almost numbered, cannot seriously excite the
apprehensions of the great republic of Europe. Yet this apparent
security should not tempt us to forget, that new enemies, and unknown
dangers, may _possibly_ arise from some obscure people, scarcely
visible in the map of the world, The Arabs or Saracens, who spread their
conquests from India to Spain, had languished in poverty and contempt,
till Mahomet breathed into those savage bodies the soul of enthusiasm.

II. The empire of Rome was firmly established by the singular and
perfect coalition of its members. The subject nations, resigning the
hope, and even the wish, of independence, embraced the character of
Roman citizens; and the provinces of the West were reluctantly torn by
the Barbarians from the bosom of their mother country. But this union
was purchased by the loss of national freedom and military spirit; and
the servile provinces, destitute of life and motion, expected their
safety from the mercenary troops and governors, who were directed by the
orders of a distant court. The happiness of a hundred millions depended
on the personal merit of one or two men, perhaps children, whose minds
were corrupted by education, luxury, and despotic power. The deepest
wounds were inflicted on the empire during the minorities of the sons
and grandsons of Theodosius; and, after those incapable princes seemed
to attain the age of manhood, they abandoned the church to the bishops,
the state to the eunuchs, and the provinces to the Barbarians. Europe
is now divided into twelve powerful, though unequal kingdoms, three
respectable commonwealths, and a variety of smaller, though independent,
states: the chances of royal and ministerial talents are multiplied, at
least, with the number of its rulers; and a Julian, or Semiramis, may
reign in the North, while Arcadius and Honorius again slumber on the
thrones of the South. The abuses of tyranny are restrained by the
mutual influence of fear and shame; republics have acquired order and
stability; monarchies have imbibed the principles of freedom, or, at
least, of moderation; and some sense of honor and justice is introduced
into the most defective constitutions by the general manners of the
times. In peace, the progress of knowledge and industry is accelerated
by the emulation of so many active rivals: in war, the European
forces are exercised by temperate and undecisive contests. If a savage
conqueror should issue from the deserts of Tartary, he must repeatedly
vanquish the robust peasants of Russia, the numerous armies of Germany,
the gallant nobles of France, and the intrepid freemen of Britain;
who, perhaps, might confederate for their common defence. Should
the victorious Barbarians carry slavery and desolation as far as the
Atlantic Ocean, ten thousand vessels would transport beyond their
pursuit the remains of civilized society; and Europe would revive
and flourish in the American world, which is already filled with her
colonies and institutions.

III. Cold, poverty, and a life of danger and fatigue, fortify the
strength and courage of Barbarians. In every age they have oppressed the
polite and peaceful nations of China, India, and Persia, who neglected,
and still neglect, to counterbalance these natural powers by the
resources of military art. The warlike states of antiquity, Greece,
Macedonia, and Rome, educated a race of soldiers; exercised their
bodies, disciplined their courage, multiplied their forces by regular
evolutions, and converted the iron, which they possessed, into strong
and serviceable weapons. But this superiority insensibly declined with
their laws and manners; and the feeble policy of Constantine and his
successors armed and instructed, for the ruin of the empire, the rude
valor of the Barbarian mercenaries. The military art has been changed
by the invention of gunpowder; which enables man to command the two
most powerful agents of nature, air and fire. Mathematics, chemistry,
mechanics, architecture, have been applied to the service of war; and
the adverse parties oppose to each other the most elaborate modes of
attack and of defence. Historians may indignantly observe, that the
preparations of a siege would found and maintain a flourishing colony;
yet we cannot be displeased, that the subversion of a city should be
a work of cost and difficulty; or that an industrious people should be
protected by those arts, which survive and supply the decay of military
virtue. Cannon and fortifications now form an impregnable barrier
against the Tartar horse; and Europe is secure from any future irruption
of Barbarians; since, before they can conquer, they must cease to be
barbarous. Their gradual advances in the science of war would always
be accompanied, as we may learn from the example of Russia, with a
proportionable improvement in the arts of peace and civil policy; and
they themselves must deserve a place among the polished nations whom
they subdue.

Should these speculations be found doubtful or fallacious, there still
remains a more humble source of comfort and hope. The discoveries of
ancient and modern navigators, and the domestic history, or tradition,
of the most enlightened nations, represent the _human savage_, naked
both in body and mind and destitute of laws, of arts, of ideas, and
almost of language. From this abject condition, perhaps the primitive
and universal state of man, he has gradually arisen to command the
animals, to fertilize the earth, to traverse the ocean and to measure
the heavens. His progress in the improvement and exercise of his mental
and corporeal faculties has been irregular and various; infinitely slow
in the beginning, and increasing by degrees with redoubled velocity:
ages of laborious ascent have been followed by a moment of rapid
downfall; and the several climates of the globe have felt the
vicissitudes of light and darkness. Yet the experience of four thousand
years should enlarge our hopes, and diminish our apprehensions: we
cannot determine to what height the human species may aspire in their
advances towards perfection; but it may safely be presumed, that no
people, unless the face of nature is changed, will relapse into their
original barbarism. The improvements of society may be viewed under a
threefold aspect. _1_. The poet or philosopher illustrates his age and
country by the efforts of a _single_ mind; but those superior powers of
reason or fancy are rare and spontaneous productions; and the genius of
Homer, or Cicero, or Newton, would excite less admiration, if they could
be created by the will of a prince, or the lessons of a preceptor. _2_.
The benefits of law and policy, of trade and manufactures, of arts and
sciences, are more solid and permanent: and _many_ individuals may be
qualified, by education and discipline, to promote, in their respective
stations, the interest of the community. But this general order is the
effect of skill and labor; and the complex machinery may be decayed by
time, or injured by violence. _3_. Fortunately for mankind, the more
useful, or, at least, more necessary arts, can be performed without
superior talents, or national subordination: without the powers
of _one_, or the union of _many_. Each village, each family, each
individual, must always possess both ability and inclination to
perpetuate the use of fire and of metals; the propagation and service of
domestic animals; the methods of hunting and fishing; the rudiments of
navigation; the imperfect cultivation of corn, or other nutritive grain;
and the simple practice of the mechanic trades. Private genius and
public industry may be extirpated; but these hardy plants survive the
tempest, and strike an everlasting root into the most unfavorable soil.
The splendid days of Augustus and Trajan were eclipsed by a cloud of
ignorance; and the Barbarians subverted the laws and palaces of Rome.
But the scythe, the invention or emblem of Saturn, still continued
annually to mow the harvests of Italy; and the human feasts of the
Læstrigons have never been renewed on the coast of Campania.

Since the first discovery of the arts, war, commerce, and religious
zeal have diffused, among the savages of the Old and New World, these
inestimable gifts: they have been successively propagated; they can
never be lost. We may therefore acquiesce in the pleasing conclusion,
that every age of the world has increased, and still increases, the real
wealth, the happiness, the knowledge, and perhaps the virtue, of the
human race. End of Vol. 3





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