Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Zenobia; or, the Fall of Palmyra
Author: Ware, William, 1797-1852
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Zenobia; or, the Fall of Palmyra" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



Zenobia; or, The Fall of Palmyra

By

William Ware



Letter I.



It is with difficulty that I persuade myself, that it is I who am sitting
and writing to you from this great city of the East. Whether I look upon
the face of nature, or the works of man, I see every thing different from
what the West presents; so widely different, that it seems to me, at
times, as if I were subject to the power of a dream. But I rouse myself,
and find that I am awake, and that it is really I, your old friend and
neighbor, Piso, late a dweller upon the Coelian hill, who am now basking
in the warm skies of Palmyra, and, notwithstanding all the splendor and
luxury by which I am surrounded, longing to be once more in Rome, by the
side of my Curtius, and with him discoursing, as we have been wont to do,
of the acts and policy of the magnificent Aurelian.

But to the purpose of this letter, which is, in agreement with my
promise, to tell you of my fortunes since I parted from you, and of my
good or ill success, as it may be, in the prosecution of that affair which
has driven me so far from my beloved Rome. O, Humanity! why art thou so
afflicted? Why have the immortal gods made the cup of life so bitter? And
why am I singled out to partake of one that seems all bitter? My feelings
sometimes overmaster my philosophy. You can forgive this, who know my
sorrows. Still I am delaying to inform you concerning my journey and my
arrival. Now I will begin.

As soon as I had lost sight of you weeping on the quay, holding in your
hand the little Gallus, and of the dear Lucilia leaning on your arm, and
could no longer, even by mounting upon the highest part of the vessel,
discern the waving of your hands, nor cause you to see the fervor with
which I returned the sign of friendship, I at once left off thinking of
you, as far as I could, and to divert my thoughts, began to examine, as if
I had never seen them before, the banks of the yellow Tiber. At first the
crowds of shipping, of every form and from every part of the world,
distracted the sight, and compelled me to observe what was immediately
around me. The cries of the sailors, as they were engaged in managing
different parts of their vessels, or as they called out in violent and
abusive terms to those who passed them, or as their several galleys struck
against each other in their attempts to go up or down the river, together
with the frequent roarings and bellowings of whole cargoes of wild beasts
from the deserts of Asia and Africa destined to the amphitheatre,
intermingled with the jargon of an hundred different barbarian languages
from the thousands who thronged the decks of this fleet of all
nations,--these sights and sounds at first wholly absorbed me, and for a
moment shut all the world besides--even you--out of my mind. It was a
strange yet inspiring scene, and gave me greater thoughts than ever of the
power and majesty of Rome. Here were men and ships that had traversed
oceans and continents to bring the offerings of their toil, and lay them
at the feet of the mistress of the world. And over all this bustle,
created by the busy spirit of commerce, a splendor and gayety were thrown
by numerous triremes and boats of pleasure, which, glittering under the
light of a summer's morning sun, were just setting out upon some excursion
of pleasure, with streamers floating from the slender masts, music
swelling up from innumerable performers, and shouts of merry laughter from
crowds of the rich and noble youths of the city, who reclined upon the
decks, beneath canopies of the richest dyes. As these Cleopatra barges
floated along with their soft burden, torrents of vituperative epithet
were poured upon them by the rough children of Neptune, which was received
with an easy indifference, or returned with no lack of ability in that
sort of warfare, according to the temper or breeding of the parties.

When the novelty of this scene was worn out, for though often seen it is
ever new, and we had fallen a few miles below the city, to where the eye
first meets the smiling face of the country, I looked eagerly around,
first upon one, and then upon the other bank of the river, in search of
the villas of our fortunate citizens, waiting impatiently till the
well-known turn of the stream should bring me before yours, where, with
our mutual friends, we have passed so many happy days. It was not long
before I was gratified. Our vessel gracefully doubled the projecting
point, blackened with that thick grove of pine, and your hospitable
dwelling greeted my eyes; now, alas! again, by that loved and familiar
object, made to overflow with tears. I was obliged, by one manly effort,
to leap clear of the power of all-subduing love, for my sensibilities were
drawing upon me the observation of my fellow-passengers. I therefore
withdrew from the side of the vessel where I had been standing, and moving
to that part of it which would best protect me from what, but now, I had
so eagerly sought, sat down and occupied myself in watching the movements
and the figures of the persons whom chance had thrown into my company, and
with whom I was now, for so many days, to be shut up in the narrow compass
of our merchant-barque. I had sat but a little while, when the master of
the ship, passing by me, stopped, and asked if it was I who was to land at
Utica--for that one, or more than one, he believed, had spoken for a
passage only to that port.

'No, truly,' I replied; and added: 'Do you, then, cross over to
Utica?--that seems to me far from a direct course for those bound
to Syria.'

'Better round-about,' rejoined he, in his rough way, 'than risk Scylla and
Charybdis; and so would you judge, were the bowels of my good ship stored
with your wealth, as they are, it may be, with that of some of your
friends. The Roman merchant likes not that narrow strait, fatal to so
many, but prefers the open sea, though the voyage be longer. But with this
wind--once out of this foul Tiber--and we shall soon see the white shores
of Africa. Truly, what a medley we seem to have on board! Jews, Romans,
Syrians, Greeks, soldiers, adventurers, merchants, pedlers, and, if I miss
not, Christians too; and you, if I miss not again, the only patrician. I
marvel at your taking ship with so spotted a company, when there are these
gay passenger-boats, sacred to the trim persons of the capital, admitting
even not so much as a case of jewels besides.'

'Doubtless it would have been better on some accounts,' I replied, 'but my
business was urgent, and I could not wait for the sailing of the
packet-boats; and besides, I am not unwilling to adventure where I shall
mix with a greater variety of my own species, and gain a better knowledge
of myself by the study of others. In this object I am not likely to be
disappointed, for you furnish me with diverse samples, which I can
contemplate at my leisure.'

'If one studied so as to know well the properties of fishes or animals,'
rejoined he, in a sneering tone, 'it would be profitable, for fishes can
be eaten, and animals can be used: but man! I know little that he is good
for, but to bury, and so fatten the soil. Emperors, as being highest,
should be best, and yet, what are they? Whether they have been fools or
madmen, the Tiber has still run blood, and the air been poisoned by the
rotting carcasses of their victims. Claudius was a good man, I grant; but
the gods, I believe, envied us our felicity, and so took him.'

'I trust,' said I, 'that the present auspices will not deceive us, and
that the happiness begun under that almost divine ruler, will be
completed under him whom he designated as most worthy of the sceptre of
the world, and whose reign--certainly we may say it--has commenced so
prosperously. I think better of man than you do, and I cannot but believe
that there will yet rise up among us those who shall feel what power,
almost of a god, is lodged in the will of a Roman emperor, and will use it
like a god to bless, not curse mankind. Why may not Nature repeat the
virtuous Antonines! Her power is not spent. For myself, I have faith that
Aurelian will restore not so much the greatness, as the peace and
happiness of the empire.'

'So have not I,' cried the master of the ship: 'is he not sprung from the
loins of a peasant? Has not the camp been his home? Was not a shield his
cradle? Such power as his will craze him. Born to it, and the chance were
better. Mark a sailor's word: he will sooner play the part of Maximin,
than that of Antonine or Severus, or of our late good Claudius. When he
feels easy in the saddle, we shall see what he will do. So far, the blood
of barbarians, slain in battle, has satisfied him: when once in Rome, that
of citizens will be sweeter. But may the gods befriend us!'

At this point of our discourse, we were interrupted by loud vociferations
from the forward part of the vessel, where I had long observed a crowd of
the passengers, who seemed engaged in some earnest conversation. The tones
now became sharp and angry, and the group suddenly dispersed, separating
this way and that, as the hoarse and commanding voice of the master of the
ship reached them, calling upon them to observe the rules of the vessel,
which allowed of no riot or quarrelling. Toward me there moved one whom I
hardly know how to describe, and yet feel that I must. You will here
doubtless exclaim, 'Why obliged to describe? Why say so much of accidental
companions?' But you will answer yourself, I feel persuaded, my Curtius,
by supposing that I should not particularly notice a mere companion of the
voyage, unless he had connected himself in some manner with my fortunes.
Such has been the case with this person, and one other whom I will shortly
introduce to you. As I was saying, then, when that group dispersed, one of
its number moved toward me, and seated himself at my side. He was
evidently a Roman and a citizen. His features were of no other nation. But
with all the dignity that characterized him as a Roman, there were mixed a
sweetness and a mildness, such as I do not remember to have seen in
another. And in the eye there was a melancholy and a deepness, if I may
say so, more remarkable still. It was the eye of one who was all sorrow,
all love, and all purity; in whom the soul had undisputed sway over the
passions and the senses. I have seen an expression which has approached
it, in some of our priests, but far below it in power and beauty. My first
impulse was to address him, but his pallid and thoughtful countenance,
together with that eye, restrained me, and I know not how I should have
overcome this strange diffidence, had not the difficulty been removed by
the intervention of a third party. This was no other than one of those
travelling Jews, who infest all cities, towns and regions, and dwell among
all people, yet mix with none. He was bent almost double by the weight of
large packages of goods, of all descriptions, which he carried, part
before and part behind him, and which he had not laid aside, in the hope,
I suppose, of effecting some sales among the passengers.

'Here's old Isaac the Jew,' cried he, as he approached toward where I sat,
and then stood before me resting his pannier of articles upon a pile of
merchandise, which lay there--'here's old Isaac the Jew, last from Rome,
but a citizen of the world, now on his way to Carthage and Syria, with all
sorts of jewelry and ornaments: nothing that a lady wants that's not
here--or gentleman either. Most noble Sir, let me press upon you this
steel mirror, of the most perfect polish: see the setting too; could the
fancy of it be better? No? You would prefer a ring: look then at this
assortment--iron and gold rings--marriage, seal, and fancy rings--buckles
too: have you seen finer? Here too are soaps, perfumes, and salves for the
toilet--hair-pins and essences. Perhaps you would prefer somewhat a little
more useful. I shall show you then these sandals and slippers; see what a
charming variety--both in form and color: pretty feet alone should press
these--think you not so? But, alas! I cannot tempt you.'

'How is it possible,' said I, 'for another to speak when thy tongue wags
so fast? Those rings I would gladly have examined, and now that thou hast
discharged that volley of hoarse sounds, I pray thee open again that case.
I thank thee for giving me an occupation.'

'Take care!' replied the voluble Jew, throwing a quick and mischievous
glance toward the Roman whom I have already mentioned--'take care how my
friend here of the new faith hears thee or sees the, an' thou wouldst
escape a rebuke. He holds my beauties here and my calling in high
contempt, and as for occupation, he thinks one never need be idle who has
himself to converse with.'

'What you have last uttered is true,' replied the person whom he
addressed: 'he need never want for employment, who possesses the power of
thought. But as to thy trade, I object not to that, nor to what thou
sellest: only to being myself a buyer.'

'Ha! thou wilt not buy? Trust Isaac for that. I keep that which shall suit
all, and enslave all. I would have made thee buy of me before, but for the
uproar of those soldiers.'

While uttering these words, he had placed the case of rings in my hands to
examine them, and was engaged himself in exploring the depths of a large
package, from which he at length triumphantly drew forth a parchment roll.

'Now open all thine eyes, Nazarene,' cried the Jew, 'and thou shalt see
what thou shalt. Look!'

And so saying, he unfolded the first portion of the roll, upon which the
eye of the Roman had no sooner fallen, than his face suddenly glowed as if
a god shone through him, and reverently seizing the book, he exclaimed:

'I thank thee, Jew; thou hast conquered: I am a customer too. Here is my
purse--take what thou wilt.'

'Hold, hold!' interrupted the Jew, laughing, 'I have not done with thee
yet; what thou hast bought in Greek, I would now sell thee again in Latin.
Thy half convert, the soldier Macer, would greet this as a cordial to his
famishing soul. Take both, and thou hast them cheaper.'

'Your cunning hardly deserves such a reward,' said the Christian, as I now
perceived him to be, 'but you have said well, and I not unwillingly obey
your suggestions. Pay yourself now for both, and give them to me carefully
rolled up.'

'No better sale than this shall I make to-day, and that too to a
Jew-hating Nazarene. But what matters it whom I tax for the upholding of
Jerusalem? Surely it is sweeter, when the cruel Roman or the heretic
Christian is made unconsciously to build at her walls.'

Thus muttered the Jew to himself, as he skilfully bound into a parcel the
Christian's books.

'And now, most excellent Sir,' said he, turning toward me, 'what do you
find worthy your own or your lady's finger? Here is another case--perhaps
these may strike you as rarer for their devices, or their workmanship. But
they are rather better suited to the tastes of the rich Palmyrenes, to
whom I am bearing them.'

'Ah!' I exclaimed, 'these are what I want. This seal ring, with the head
of Zenobia, for which I sought in vain in Rome, I will buy, nor care for
its cost, if thou canst assure me of its resemblance to the great Queen.
Who was the artist?'

'As I stand here, a true son of Abraham,' he replied, 'it was worked by a
Greek jeweller, who lives hard by the Temple of Fortune, and who has
engraved it after a drawing made by a brother, an inhabitant of Palmyra.
Two such artists in their way are not to be found. I myself, moreover,
bore the original drawing from Demetrius to his brother in Rome, and that
it is like the great Queen, I can well testify, for I have often seen
her. Her marvellous beauty is here well expressed, or as well as that
which partakes so much more of heaven than of earth can be. But look at
these, too! Here I have what I look to do well with. See! heads of
Odenatus! Think you not they will take well? These also are done with the
same care as the others, and by the same workmen. Nothing of the kind has
as yet been seen in Palmyra, nor indeed in Rome. Happy Isaac!--thy
fortune is made! Come, put them on thy finger, and observe their beauty.
King and Queen--how lovingly they sit there together! 'Twas just so when
Odenatus was alive. They were a noble and a loving pair. The Queen yet
weeps for him.'

'Jew,' said I, 'on thy word I purchase these. Although thy name is in no
good repute, yet thy face is honest, and I will trust thee so far.'

'The name of the unfortunate and the weak is never in repute,' said Isaac,
as he took my money and folded up the rings, his whole manner suddenly
changing. 'The Jew is now but a worm, writhing under the heel of the proud
Roman. Many a time has he, however, as thou well knowest, turned upon his
destroyer, and tasted the sweetness of a brief revenge. Why should I speak
of the massacres of Egypt, Cyrene, and Syria in the days of Trajan? Let
Rome beware! Small though we seem, the day will yet arrive when the glory
of Zion shall fill the whole earth--and He shall come, before whom the
mighty Emperor of Rome shall tremble in his palaces.--This is what I say.
Thanks to the great Aurelian, that even a poor son of Abraham may speak
his mind and not lose his head. Here's old Isaac: who'll buy of old
Isaac--rings--pins--and razors,--who'll buy?'

And so singing, he turned away, and mixed with the passengers in the other
parts of the vessel. The wild glare of his eye, and deep, suppressed tone
of his voice, as he spoke of the condition and hopes of his tribe,
startled and moved me, and I would willingly have prolonged a conversation
with one of that singular people, about whom I really know nothing, and
with none of whom had I ever before come in contact. When I see you again,
I shall have much to tell you of him; for during the rest of the voyage we
were often thrown together, and, as you will learn, he has become of
essential service to me in the prosecution of my objects.

No sooner had Isaac withdrawn from our company, than I embraced the
opportunity to address myself to the remarkable-looking person whom I have
already in part described.

'It is a great testimony,' I said, turning toward him, 'which these Jews
bear to their national religion. I much doubt if Romans, under similar
circumstances of oppression, would exhibit a constancy like theirs. Their
attachment too is to an invisible religion, as one may say, which makes it
the more remarkable. They have neither temples, altars, victims, nor
statues, nor any form of god or goddess, to which they pay real or feigned
adoration. Toward us they bear deep and inextinguishable hate, for our
religion not less than for our oppressions. I never see a Jew threading
our streets with busy steps, and his dark, piercing eye, but I seem to see
an assassin, who, with Caligula, wishes the Roman people had but one
neck, that he might exterminate the whole race with a single blow. Toward
you, however, who are so nearly of his own faith, I suppose his sentiments
are more kindly. The Christian Roman, perhaps, he would spare.'

'Not so, I greatly fear,' replied the Christian. 'Nay, the Jew bears a
deeper hatred toward us than toward you, and would sooner sacrifice us;
for the reason, doubtless, that we are nearer him in faith than you; just
as our successful emperors have no sooner found themselves securely
seated, than they have first turned upon the members of their own family,
that from this, the most dangerous quarter, there should be no fear of
rival or usurper. The Jew holds the Christian--though in some sort
believing with him--as a rival--a usurper--a rebel; as one who would
substitute a novelty for the ancient creed of his people, and, in a word,
bring ruin upon the very existence of his tribe. His suspicions, truly,
are not without foundation; but they do not excuse the temper with which
he regards us. I cast no imputation upon the virtues of friend Isaac, in
what I say. The very spirit of universal love, I believe, reigns in his
soul. Would that all of his race were like him.'

'What you say is new and strange,' I replied. 'I may possibly bring shame
upon myself, by saying so, but it is true. I have been accustomed to
regard Christians and Jews as in effect one people; one, I mean, in
opinion and feeling. But in truth I know nothing. You are not ignorant of
the prejudice which exists toward both these races, on the part of the
Romans. I have yielded, with multitudes around me, to prevailing ideas,
taking no steps to learn their truth or error. Our writers, from Tacitus
to the base tools--for such they must have been--who lent themselves to
the purposes of the bigot Macrianus, and who filled the city with their
accounts of the Christians, have all agreed in representing your faith as
a dark and mischievous superstition. I have, indeed, been struck with the
circumstance, that while the Jews make no converts from among us, great
numbers are reported to have joined the Christians; and of those, not a
few of the higher orders. The late Emperor Philip, I think it clear, was a
Christian. This might have taught me that there is a wide difference
between the Christian and the Jew. But the general hatred toward both the
one and the other, together with the persecutions to which they have been
exposed, have made me more than indifferent to their merits,'

'I trust the time will come,' replied the Christian, 'when our cause will
be examined on the ground of its merits. Why may we not believe that it
has now come? The Roman world is at peace. A strong and generous prince
is upon the throne. Mild and just laws restrain the furious bigotry of an
ignorant and sanguinary priesthood. Men of intelligence and virtue adorn
our profession, from whom those who are anxious to know the truth can
hear it; and copies of our sacred books both in Greek and Latin abound,
whence may easily be learned the true principles of our faith, and the
light of whose holy pages would instantly dispel the darkness by which
the minds of many, even of the virtuous and well-disposed, are oppressed.
It is hardly likely that a fitter opportunity will soon offer for an
examination of the claims of Christianity. We have nothing to dread but
the deadness and indifference of the public mind. It is not credible that
polytheism should stand a day upon any fair comparison of it with the
religion of Christ. You yourself are not a believer (pardon my boldness)
in the ineffable stupidities of the common religion. To suppose you
were--I see by the expression of your countenance--would be the
unpardonable offence. I sincerely believe, that nothing more is wanting
to change you, and every intelligent Roman, from professed supporters of
the common religion, (but real infidels,) into warm believers and
advocates of the doctrine of Christ--but simply this--to read his
sayings, and the delineation of his character, as they have been written
down by some of his followers. You are, I see, incredulous, but not more
so than I was myself only a year ago; yet you behold me a Christian. I
had to contend against, perhaps, far more adverse influences than would
oppose you. You start with surprise that I should give evidence that I
know you; but I have many a time seen you at the shop of Publius, and
have heard you in your addresses to the people.

'I am the son of a priest of the Temple of Jupiter--of a man, who, to a
mildness and gentleness of soul that would do honor to the Christian,
added a faith in the religion of his fathers, deep-struck and firm-rooted
as the rocks of ocean. I was his assistant in the duties of his office. My
childish faith was all he could wish it; I reverenced a religion which had
nurtured virtues like his. In process of time, I became myself a father.
Four children, more beautiful than ever visited the dreams of Phidias,
made my dwelling a portion of Elysium, as I then thought. Their
mother--but why should I speak of her? It is enough to say, she was a
Roman mother. At home, it was my supreme happiness to sport with my little
ones, or initiate them into the elements of useful knowledge. And often,
when at the temple preparing for the days of ceremony, my children were
with me; and my labors were nothing, cheered by the music of their feet
running upon the marble pavements, and of their merry voices echoing among
the columns and arches of the vast interior. O days thrice happy! They
were too happy to last. Within the space of one year--one cruel
year--these four living idols were ravished from my arms by a prevailing
disease. My wife, broken-hearted, soon followed them, and I was left
alone. I need not describe my grief: I will only say, that with bitter
imprecations I cursed the gods. 'Who are ye,' I cried, 'who sit above in
your secure seats, and make your sport of human wo? Ye are less than men.
Man though I am, I would not inflict upon the meanest slave the misery ye
have poured upon my defenceless head. Where are your mercies?' I was
frantic. How long this lasted I cannot tell, for I took no note of time. I
was awakened, may I not say saved, by a kind neighbor whom I had long
known to be a Christian. He was a witness of my sufferings, and with deep
compassion ministered to my necessities. 'Probus,' said he, 'I know your
sorrows, and I know your wants. I have perceived that neither your own
thoughts, nor all the philosophy of your venerable father, have brought
you peace. It's not surprising: ye are but men, and ye have but the power
and the wisdom of men. It is aid from the Divinity that you want. I will
not discourse with you; but I leave with you this book, which I simply ask
you to read.' I read it--and read it--again and again; and I am a
Christian. As the Christian grew up within me, my pains were soothed, and
days, once days of tears and unavailing complaints, are now days of calm
and cheerful duty: I am a new man.'

I cannot describe to you, my Curtius, the effect of this little narrative
upon myself, or upon those who, as he spoke, had gathered round,
especially those hard-featured soldiers. Tears flowed down their
weather-beaten faces, and one of them--Macer, as I afterward
learned--cried out: 'Where now are the gods of Rome?' Probus started from
his seat, apparently for the first time conscious of any other listener
beside myself, and joined the master of the vessel at the helm. I resigned
myself to meditation; and that night fell asleep, thinking of the
Christian and his book.

Leaving now Ostia and its fleet, greater even than that of the Tiber, five
days brought us in sight of the African shore, but quite to the west of
Utica. So, coasting along, we presently came off against Hippo, and then
doubling a promontory, both Utica and Carthage were at once visible--Utica
nearer, Carthage just discernible in the distance. All was now noise and
bustle, as we rapidly drew near the port. Many of our passengers were to
land here, and they were busily employed, with the aid of the sailors, in
collecting their merchandise or their baggage. The soldiers destined to
the African service here left us, together with the Jew Isaac and the
Christian Probus. I was sorry to lose them, as beside them there was not
one on board, except the governor of the ship, from whose company or
conversation I could derive either pleasure or knowledge. They are both,
however, destined to Palmyra, and I shall soon expect them to join me
here. You smile at my speaking thus of a travelling Jew and a despised
Christian, but in the issue you will acknowledge your as well as my
obligations to them both. I confess myself attached to them. As the Jew
turned to bid me farewell, before he sprang on shore, he said:

'Most noble Piso, if thou forsakest the gods of Rome, let it be for the
synagogue of the children of Abraham, whose faith is not of yesterday. Be
not beguiled by the specious tongue of that heretic Probus. I can tell
thee a better story than his.'

'Fear not, honest Isaac,' I cried; 'I am not yet so weary of the faith of
my ancestors. That cannot be altogether despicable, which has had power to
bind in one mass the whole Roman people for so many ages I shall be no
easy convert to either you or Probus. Farewell, to meet in Tadmor.'

Probus now passed me, and said: 'If I should not see you in the Eastern
capital, according to my purpose, I trust I shall in Rome. My dwelling is
in the Livian way not far from the Pantheon, opposite the well-known house
of Vitruvius, still so called; or, at the shop of the learned Publius, I
may be seen every morning, and may there be always heard of.'

I assured him, that no affairs could be so pressing, after I should
return to Rome, as not to allow me to seek him, but that I hoped the
fates would not interpose to deprive me of the pleasure of first seeing
him in Palmyra.

So we parted. And very soon after, the merchandise and passengers being
all landed, we set sail again, and stood out to sea. I regretted that we
were not to touch at Carthage, as my desire had always been strong to see
that famous place. An adverse wind, however, setting in from the North,
drove us farther toward the city than the pilot intended to have gone, and
I thus obtained quite a satisfactory glimpse of the African capital. I was
surprised at the indications of its vastness and grandeur. Since its
attempted restoration by Augustus, it has advanced steadily to almost its
former populousness and magnificence. Nothing could be more imposing and
beautiful, than its long lines of buildings, its towers, walls, palaces,
and columns, seen through the warm and rosy mist of an African sky. I
could hardly believe that I was looking but upon a provincial city, a
dependant upon almighty Rome. It soon sank below the horizon, as its glory
had sunk once before.

I will not detain you long with our voyage, but will only mark out its
course. Leaving the African shore, we struck across to Sicily, and
coasting along its eastern border, beheld with pleasure the towering form
of Aetna, sending up into the heavens a dull and sluggish cloud of vapors.
We then ran between the Peloponnesus and Crete, and so held our course
till the Island of Cyprus rose like her own fair goddess from the ocean,
and filled our eyes with a beautiful vision of hill and valley, wooded
promontory, and glittering towns and villas. A fair wind soon withdrew us
from these charming prospects, and after driving us swiftly and roughly
over the remainder of our way, rewarded us with a brighter and more
welcome vision still--the coast of Syria and our destined port, Berytus.

As far as the eye could reach, both toward the North and the South, we
beheld a luxuriant region, crowded with villages, and giving every
indication of comfort and wealth. The city itself, which we rapidly
approached, was of inferior size, but presented an agreeable prospect of
warehouses, public and private edifices, overtopped here and there by the
lofty palm, and other trees of a new and peculiar foliage. Four days were
consumed here in the purchase of slaves, camels, and horses, and in other
preparations for the journey across the Desert. Two routes presented
themselves, one more, the other less direct; the last, though more
circuitous, appeared to me the more desirable, as it would take me within
sight of the modern glories and ancient remains of Heliopolis. This,
therefore, was determined upon; and on the morning of the fifth day we set
forward upon our long march. Four slaves, two camels, and three horses,
with an Arab conductor, constituted our little caravan; but for greater
safety we attached ourselves to a much larger one than our own, in which
we were swallowed up and lost, consisting of travellers and traders, from
all parts of the world, and who were also on their way to Palmyra, as a
point whence to separate to various parts of the vast East. It would
delight me to lay before you with the distinctness and minuteness of a
picture, the whole of this novel, and to me most interesting route; but I
must content myself with a slight sketch, and reserve fuller
communications to the time when, once more seated with you upon the
Coelian, we enjoy the freedom of social converse.

Our way through the valleys of Libanus, was like one long wandering among
the pleasure grounds of opulent citizens. The land was every where richly
cultivated, and a happier peasantry, as far as the eye of the traveller
could judge, nowhere exists. The most luxuriant valleys of our own Italy
are not more crowded with the evidences of plenty and contentment. Upon
drawing near to the ancient Baalbec, I found on inquiry of our guide, that
we were not to pass through it, as I had hoped, nor even very near it, not
nearer than between two and three miles. So that in this I had been
clearly deceived by those of whom I had made the most exact inquiries at
Berytus. I thought I discovered great command of myself, in that I did not
break the head of my Arab, who doubtless, to answer purposes of his own,
had brought me thus out of my way for nothing. The event proved, however,
that it was not for nothing; for soon after we had started on our journey,
on the morning of the second day, turning suddenly round the projecting
rock of a mountain ridge, we all at once beheld, as if a veil had been
lifted up, Heliopolis and its suburbs, spread out before us in all their
various beauty. The city lay about three miles distant. I could only,
therefore, identify its principal structure, the Temple of the Sun, as
built by the first Antonine. This towered above the walls, and over all
the other buildings, and gave vast ideas of the greatness of the place,
leading the mind to crowd it with other edifices that should bear some
proportion to this noble monument of imperial magnificence. As suddenly as
the view of this imposing scene had been revealed, so suddenly was it
again eclipsed, by another short turn in the road, which took us once more
into the mountain valleys. But the overhanging and impenetrable foliage
of a Syrian forest, shielding me from the fierce rays of a burning sun,
soon reconciled me to my loss--more especially as I knew that in a short
time we were to enter upon the sandy desert, which stretches from the
Anti-Libanus almost to the very walls of Palmyra.

Upon this boundless desert we now soon entered. The scene which it
presented was more dismal than I can describe. A red moving sand--or hard
and baked by the heat of a sun such as Rome never knows--low gray rocks
just rising here and there above the level of the plain, with now and then
the dead and glittering trunk of a vast cedar, whose roots seemed as if
they had outlasted centuries--the bones of camels and elephants, scattered
on either hand, dazzling the sight by reason of their excessive
whiteness--at a distance occasionally an Arab of the desert, for a moment
surveying our long line, and then darting off to his fastnesses--these
were the objects which, with scarce any variation, met our eyes during the
four wearisome days that we dragged ourselves over this wild and
inhospitable region. A little after the noon of the fourth day, as we
started on our way, having refreshed ourselves and our exhausted animals
at a spring which here poured out its warm but still grateful waters to
the traveller, my ears received the agreeable news that toward the east
there could now be discerned the dark line, which indicated our approach
to the verdant tract that encompasses the great city. Our own excited
spirits were quickly imparted to our beasts, and a more rapid movement
soon revealed into distinctness the high land and waving groves of palm
trees which mark the site of Palmyra.

It was several miles before we reached the city, that we suddenly found
ourselves--landing as it were from a sea upon an island or continent--in a
rich and thickly peopled country. The roads indicated an approach to a
great capital, in the increasing numbers of those who thronged them,
meeting and passing us, overtaking us, or crossing our way. Elephants,
camels, and the dromedary, which I had before seen only in the
amphitheatres, I here beheld as the native inhabitants of the soil.
Frequent villas of the rich and luxurious Palmyrenes, to which they
retreat from the greater heats of the city, now threw a lovely charm over
the scene. Nothing can exceed the splendor of these sumptuous palaces.
Italy itself has nothing which surpasses them. The new and brilliant
costumes of the persons whom we met, together with the rich housings of
the animals they rode, served greatly to add to all this beauty. I was
still entranced, as it were, by the objects around me, and buried in
reflection, when I was roused by the shout of those who led the caravan,
and who had attained the summit of a little rising ground, saying,
'Palmyra! Palmyra!' I urged forward my steed, and in a moment the most
wonderful prospect I ever beheld--no, I cannot except even Rome--burst
upon my sight. Flanked by hills of considerable elevation on the East, the
city filled the whole plain below as far as the eye could reach, both
toward the North and toward the South. This immense plain was all one vast
and boundless city. It seemed to me to be larger than Rome. Yet I knew
very well that it could not be--that it was not. And it was some time
before I understood the true character of the scene before me, so as to
separate the city from the country, and the country from the city, which
here wonderfully interpenetrate each other and so confound and deceive the
observer. For the city proper is so studded with groups of lofty palm
trees, shooting up among its temples and palaces, and on the other hand,
the plain in its immediate vicinity is so thickly adorned with magnificent
structures of the purest marble, that it is not easy, nay it is impossible
at the distance at which I contemplated the whole, to distinguish the line
which divided the one from the other. It was all city and all country, all
country and all city. Those which lay before me I was ready to believe
were the Elysian Fields. I imagined that I saw under my feet the dwellings
of purified men and of gods. Certainly they were too glorious for the mere
earth-born. There was a central point, however, which chiefly fixed my
attention, where the vast Temple of the Sun stretched upward its thousand
columns of polished marble to the heavens, in its matchless beauty casting
into the shade every other work of art of which the world can boast. I
have stood before the Parthenon, and have almost worshipped that divine
achievement of the immortal Phidias. But it is a toy by the side of this
bright crown of the Eastern capital. I have been at Milan, at Ephesus, at
Alexandria, at Antioch; but in neither of those renowned cities have I
beheld any thing that I can allow to approach in united extent, grandeur,
and most consummate beauty, this almost more than work of man. On each
side of this, the central point, there rose upward slender
pyramids--pointed obelisks--domes of the most graceful proportions,
columns, arches and lofty towers, for number and for form, beyond my
power to describe. These buildings, as well as the walls of the city,
being all either of white marble, or of some stone as white, and being
every where in their whole extent interspersed, as I have already said,
with multitudes of overshadowing palm trees, perfectly filled and
satisfied my sense of beauty, and made me feel for the moment, as if in
such a scene I should love to dwell, and there end my days. Nor was I
alone in these transports of delight. All my fellow-travellers seemed
equally affected: and from the native Palmyrenes, of whom there were many
among us, the most impassioned and boastful exclamations broke forth.
'What is Rome to this?' they cried: 'Fortune is not constant. Why may not
Palmyra be what Rome has been--mistress of the world? Who more fit to rule
than the great Zenobia? A few years may see great changes. Who can tell
what shall come to pass?' These, and many such sayings, were uttered by
those around me, accompanied by many significant gestures and glances of
the eye. I thought of them afterward. We now descended the hill, and the
long line of caravan moved on toward the city.



Letter II.



I fear lest the length of my first letter may have fatigued you, my
Curtius, knowing as I so well do, how you esteem brevity. I hope at this
time not to try your patience. But, however I may weary or vex you by my
garrulity, I am sure of a patient and indulgent reader in the dear
Lucilia, to whom I would now first of all commend myself. I salute her,
and with her the little Gallus. My writing to you is a sufficient proof
that I myself am well.

By reason of our delaying so long on that little hill, and at other
points, for the sake of drinking in full draughts of the unrivalled beauty
which lay spread over all the scenery within the scope of our vision, we
did not approach the walls of the city till the last rays of the sun were
lingering upon the higher buildings of the capital. This rendered every
object so much the more beautiful; for a flood of golden light, of a
richer hue, it seemed to me, than our sun ever sheds upon Rome, rolled
over the city, and plain, and distant mountains, giving to the whole a
gorgeousness altogether beyond any thing I ever saw before, and agreeing
well with all my impressions of oriental magnificence. It was soon under
the right aspect. Not one expectation was disappointed but rather exceeded
as we came in sight of the vast walls of the city, and of the 'Roman
Gate'--so it is called--through which we were to make our entrance. It was
all upon the grandest scale. The walls were higher, and more frequently
defended by square massy towers springing out of them, than those of
Rome. The towers, which on either side flanked the gateway, and which were
connected by an immense arch flung from one to the other, were
particularly magnificent. No sooner had we passed through, than we found
ourselves in a street lined as it were with palaces. It was of great
width---we have no street like it in this respect--of an exact level, and
stretched onward farther than the eye could distinctly reach, being
terminated by another gate similar to that by which we had entered. The
buildings on either side were altogether of marble, of Grecian design--the
city is filled with Greek artists of every description--frequently adorned
with porticos of the most rich and costly construction and by long ranges
of private dwellings, interrupted here and there by temples of religion,
edifices of vast extent belonging to the state, or by gardens attached to
the residences of the luxurious Palmyrene nobility.

'It is well for Palmyra,' here muttered my slave Milo, 'that the Emperor
has never, like us, travelled this way.'

'Why so, Milo?' said I.

'I simply think,' rejoined he, 'that he would burn it down; and it were a
pity so many fine buildings should be destroyed. Was there not once a
place called Carthage? I have heard it said that it was as large as Rome,
and as well garnished with temples, and that for that reason the Romans
'blotted it out.' The people here may thank the desert which we have
crossed, that they are not as Carthage. Aurelian, I trow, little dreams
what glory is to be won here in the East, or else he would not waste his
time upon the savage Goths,'

'The Romans are no longer barbarians,' I replied, 'as they were once. They
build up now, instead of demolishing. Remember that Augustus rebuilt
Carthage, and that the first Antonine founded that huge and beautiful
temple which rose out of the midst of Baalbec; and besides--if I am not
mistaken--many of the noblest monuments of art in this very city are the
fruit of his munificence.'

'Gods, what a throng is here!' ejaculated Milo, little heeding,
apparently, what I had said; 'how are we to get our beasts along? They pay
no more regard to us, either, than if we were not Romans. Could any one
have believed that a people existed of such strange customs and
appearance? What carriages!--what wagons!--what animals!--what fantastical
attire!--and from every corner of the earth, too, as it would seem! But it
is a pretty sight. Pity though but they could move as quick, as they look
well. Fellow, there! you will gratify us if you will start your camels a
little out of our way. We wish to make toward the house of Gracchus, and
we cannot pass you.'

The rider of the camel turned round his turbaned head, and fixing upon
Milo a pair of fierce eyes, bade him hold his peace:

'Did he not see the street was crowded?'

'I see it is filled with a set of dull idlers,' replied Milo, 'who want
nothing but Roman rods to teach them a quick and wholesome movement.
Friend, lend me thy cudgel; and I will engage to set thy beasts and thee
too in motion. If not, consider that we are new comers, and Romans
withal, and that we deserve some regard.'

'Romans!' screamed he: 'may curses light on you You swarm here like
locusts, and like them you come but to devour. Take my counsel: turn your
faces the other way, and off to the desert again! I give you no welcome,
for one. Now pass on--if on you still will go--and take the curse of
Hassan the Arab along with you.'

'Milo,' said I, 'have a care how you provoke these Orientals. Bethink
yourself that we are not now in the streets of Rome. Bridle your tongue
betimes, or your head may roll off your shoulders before you can have time
to eat your words to save it'

'I am a slave indeed,' answered Milo, with some dignity for him, 'but I
eat other food than my own words. In that there hangs something of the
Roman about me.'

We were now opposite what I discovered, from the statues and emblems upon
it and surrounding it, to be the Temple of Justice, and I knew therefore
that the palace on the other side of the street, adorned with porticos,
and partly hidden among embowering trees and shrubs, must be the dwelling
of Gracchus.

We turned down into a narrower street, and after proceeding a little way,
passed under a massy arched gateway, and found ourselves in the spacious
court-yard of this princely mansion. Slaves soon surrounded us, and by
their alacrity in assisting me to dismount, and in performing every office
of a hospitable reception, showed that we were expected guests, and that
my letters announcing my intended visit had been received. Leaving my
slaves and effects to the care of the servants of the house, I followed
one who seemed to be a sort of head among them, through walks bordered
with the choicest trees, flowers and shrubs, opening here and there in the
most graceful manner to reveal a statue of some sylvan god reclining under
the shade, and soon reached the rear of the house, which I entered by a
flight of marble steps. Through a lofty hall I passed into a saloon which
seemed the reception-room of the palace, where I had hardly arrived, and
obtained one glance at my soiled dress and sun-burnt visage in the mirror,
than my ear caught the quick sound of a female foot hastening over the
pavement of the hall, and turning suddenly I caught in my arms the
beautiful Fausta. It was well for me that I was so taken by surprise, for
I acted naturally, which I fear I should not have done if I had had a
moment to deliberate before I met her; for she is no longer a girl, as in
Rome, running and jumping after her slave to school, but a nearly
full-grown woman, and of a beauty so imposing as might well cause
embarrassment in a youth of even more pretensions than myself.

'Are you indeed,' said I, retaining each hand in mine, but feeling that in
spite of all my assumed courage I was covered with blushes, 'are you
indeed the little Fausta? Truly there must be marvellous virtues in the
air of Palmyra. It is but six years since you left Rome, and then, as I
remember---shall I mention such a thing?--you were but twelve, and now
though but'--

'O,' cried she, 'never begin such a speech! it will only trouble you
before you can end it. How glad I am to see you! Welcome, dear Lucius, to
Palmyra! If open hearts can make you happy here, you will not fail to be
so. But how did you leave all in Rome? First, your friend Marcus? and
Lucilia? and the noble, good Portia? Ah! how happy were those days in
Rome! Come sit on these cushions by this open window. But more than all,
how does the dear pedagogue and dialectician, the learned Solon? Is he as
wise yet as his great namesake? O what days of merriment have his vanity
and simplicity afforded me! But he was a good soul. Would he could have
accompanied you. You are not so far out of leading-strings that you could
not have taken him with you as a travelling Mentor. In truth, nothing
could have given me more pleasure.'

'I came away in great haste, dear Fausta,' said I, 'with scarce a moment
for preparation of any kind. You have but this morning received my letter,
which was but part of a day in advance of me. If I could have done it, I
should have given you more timely notice. I could not therefore look out
for companions for the way. It would however have been a kindness to
Solon, and a pleasure to me. But why have I not before asked for your
father? is not Gracchus at home?--and is he well?'

'He is at home, or rather he is in the city,' replied Fausta, 'and why he
makes it so late before returning, I cannot tell: but you will soon see
him. In the mean time, let my slaves show you where to find your rooms,
that you may rest and prepare for supper.'

So saying, she clapped her hands, and a tall Ethiopian, with a turban as
white as his face was black, quickly made his appearance and took me in
his charge.

'Look well after your toilet,' cried Fausta, laughing as I left the room;
'we think more of costume here than they do in Rome.'

I followed my dark conductor through many passages to a distant part of
the building, where I found apartments furnished with every luxury, and
already prepared for my use.

'Here I have carefully placed your baggage,' said the slave as I entered
the room, 'and whatever else I thought you might need. Call Hannibal when
you wish for my services; I am now yours. This door leads to a small room
where will lodge your own slave Milo; the others are in the stables.' Thus
delivering himself, he departed.

The windows of my apartment opened upon the wide street by which we had
entered the city, not immediately, but first upon a border of trees and
flowers, then upon a low wall, here and there crowned with a statue or a
vase, which separated the house from the street, and last upon the street
itself, its busy throngs and noble structures. I stood for a moment
enjoying the scene, rendered more impressive by the dim but still glowing
light of the declining day. Sounds of languages which I knew not fell
upon my ear, sent forth by those who urged along through the crowds their
cattle, or by those who would draw attention to the articles which they
had to sell. All was new and strange, and tended, together with my
reflections upon the business which had borne me so far from my home and
you, to fill me with melancholy. I was roused from my reverie by the
voice of Milo.

'If,' said he, 'the people of these eastern regions understand better than
we of Rome the art of taking off heads, they certainly understand better,
as in reason they should, the art of making them comfortable while they
are on: already I have taken a longer draught at a wine skin than I have
been blessed with since I was in the service of the most noble Gallienus.
Ah, that was life! He was your true philosopher who thought life, made for
living. These Palmyrenes seem of his school.'

'Leave philosophy, good Milo, and come help me dress; that is the matter
now in hand. Unclasp these trunks and find something that shall not
deform me.'

So desirous was I, you perceive, to appear well in the eyes of the
fair Fausta.

It was now the appointed hour to descend to the supper room, and as I was
about to leave my apartment, hardly knowing which way to move, the
Ethiopian, Hannibal, made his appearance, to serve as my conductor.

I was ushered into an apartment, not large, but of exquisite
proportions--circular, and of the most perfect architecture, on the Greek
principles. The walls, thrown into panels between the windows and doors,
were covered with paintings, admirable both for their design and color;
and running all around the room, and attached to the walls, was a low and
broad seat, covered with cushions of the richest workmanship and material.
A lofty and arched ceiling, lighted by invisible lamps, represented a
banquet of the gods, offering to those seated at the tables below a high
example of the manner in which the divine gifts should be enjoyed. This
evening, at least, we did not use the privileges which that high example
sanctioned. Fausta was already in the room, and rose with affectionate
haste to greet me again.

'I fear my toilet has not been very successful, Fausta,' said I, 'for my
slave Milo was too much elated by the generous wines with which his
companions had plied him, as a cordial after the fatigues of the journey,
to give me any of the benefit of his taste or assistance. I have been my
own artificer on this occasion, and you must therefore be gentle in your
judgments.'

'I cannot say that your fashions are equally tasteful with those of our
Palmyrenes, I must confess. The love of the beautiful, the magnificent,
and the luxurious, is our national fault, Lucius; it betrays itself in
every department of civil and social life, and not unfrequently declines
into a degrading effeminacy. If any thing ruin us, it will be this vice. I
assure you I was rather jesting than in earnest, when I bade you look to
your toilet. When you shall have seen some of our young nobles, you will
find reason to be proud of your comparative simplicity. I hear, however,
that you are not now far behind us in Rome--nay, in many excesses, you go
greatly beyond us. We have never yet had a Vitellius, a Pollio, or a
Gallienus. And may the sands of the desert bury us a thousand fathoms
deep, ere such monsters shall be bred and endured in Palmyra!'

'I perceive,' said I, 'that your sometime residence in Rome has not taught
you to love your native country less. If but a small portion of the fire
which I see burning in your eye warm the hearts of the people, it will be
no easy matter for any external foe to subdue you, however vice and luxury
may do it.'

'There are not many, I believe,' replied Fausta, 'of your or my sex in
Palmyra, who would with more alacrity lay down their lives for their
country and our sweet and noble Queen, than I. But believe me, Lucius,
there are multitudes who would do it as soon. Zenobia will lead the way to
no battle-field where Fausta, girl though she be, will not follow.
Remember what I say, I pray you, if difficulty should ever again grow
up--which the gods forefend!--between us and Rome. But, truth to say, we
are in more danger from ourselves than from Rome.'

We were now suddenly interrupted by the loud and cheerful voice of
Gracchus, exclaiming, as he approached us from the great hall of the
palace, 'How now!--How now!--whom have we here? Are my eyes and ears true
to their report--Lucius Piso? It is he indeed. Thrice welcome to Palmyra!
May a visit from so good and great a house be an augury of good. You are
quick indeed upon the track of your letter. How have you sped by the way?
I need not ask after your own welfare, for I see it, but I am impatient to
learn all that you can tell me of friends and enemies in Rome. I dare say,
all this has been once told to Fausta, but, as a penalty for arriving
while I was absent, it must be repeated for my special pleasure. But come,
that can be done while we sit at table; I see the supper waits.'

In this pleasant mood did the father of Fausta, and now, as you know, one
of the chief pillars of the province or kingdom--whichever it must be
called--receive me. I was struck with the fine union in his appearance
and manner of courtly ease, and a noble Roman frankness. His head,
slightly bald, but cast in the truest mould of manly beauty, would have
done honor to any of his illustrious ancestors; and his figure was
entirely worthy of that faultless crown. I confess I experienced a pang
of regret that one so fitted to sustain and adorn the greatness of his
parent country had chosen to cast his fortunes so far from the great
centre and heart of the Empire. After the first duties of the table had
been gone through with, and my hunger--real hunger--had been appeased by
the various delicacies which my kind hostess urged upon me noways
unwilling to receive such tokens of regard, I took up the questions of
Gracchus, and gave him a full account of our social and political state
in Rome, to all which Fausta too lent a greedy ear, her fine face
sparkling with the intelligence which beamed out from every feature. It
was easy to see how deep an interest she takes in matters to which her
sex are usually so insensible. It is indescribable, the imperial pride
and lofty spirit of independence which at times sat upon her brow and
curled her lip. She seems to me made to command. She is indeed courteous
and kind, but you not with difficulty see that she is bold, aspiring and
proud, beyond the common measure of woman. Her beauty is of this
character. It is severe, rather than in any sense soft or feminine. Her
features are those of her father, truly Roman in their outline, and their
combined expression goes to impress every beholder with the truth that
Roman blood alone, and that too of all the Gracchi, runs in her veins.
Her form harmonizes perfectly with the air and character of the face. It
is indicative of great vigor and decision in every movement; yet it is
graceful, and of such proportions as would suit the most fastidious
Greek. I am thus minute in telling you how Fausta struck me, because I
know the interest you and Lucilia both take in her, and how you will
desire to have from me as exact a picture as I can draw. Be relieved, my
dear friends, as to the state of my heart, nor indulge in either hopes or
suspicions in this direction. I assure you I am not yet a captive at the
fair feet of Fausta, nor do I think I shall be. But if such a thing
should happen, depend upon my friendship to give you the earliest
intelligence of the event. Whoever shall obtain the heart of Fausta, will
win one of which a Cæsar might be proud. But to return to our present
interview and its event.

No sooner had I ended my account of the state of affairs at Rome, than
Gracchus expressed, in the strongest terms, his joy that we were so
prosperous. 'It agrees,' said he, 'with all that we have lately heard.
Aurelian is in truth entitled to the praise which belongs to a reformer of
the state. The army has not been under such discipline since the days of
Vespasian. He has now, as we learn by the last arrival of news from the
North, by the way of Antioch, nearly completed the subjection of the Goths
and Alemanni, and rumors are afloat of an unpleasant nature, of an Eastern
expedition. For this no ground occurs to me except, possibly, an attempt
upon Persia, for the rescue of Valerian, if yet he be living, or for the
general vindication of the honor of Rome against the disgraceful successes
of the Great King. I cannot for one moment believe that toward Palmyra any
other policy will be adopted than that which has been pursued for the last
century and a half, and emphatically sanctioned, as you well know, by
both Gallienus and Claudius. Standing on the honorable footing, as
nominally a part of the empire of Rome, but in fact a sovereign and
independent power, we enjoy all that we can desire in the form of
political privileges. Then for our commerce, it could not be more
flourishing, or conducted on more advantageous terms even to Rome itself.
In one word, we are contented, prosperous, and happy, and the crime of
that man would be great indeed, who, from any motive of personal ambition,
or any policy of state, would disturb our existing relations of peace and
friendship with all the world.'

To this I replied: 'I most sincerely trust that no design, such as you
hint at, exists in the mind of Aurelian. I know him, and know him to be
ambitious and imperious, as he is great in resources and unequalled in
military science, but withal he is a man of wisdom, and in the main, of
justice too. That he is a true lover of his country, I am sure; and that
the glory of that country is dearer to him than all other objects--that it
rises in him almost to a species of madness--this I know too; and it is
from this quarter, if from any, that danger is to be apprehended. He will
have Rome to be all in all. His desire is that it should once more possess
the unity that it did under the Antonines. This idea, dwelt upon, may lead
him into enterprises from which, however defended on the ground of the
empire's glory, will result in nothing but discredit to himself and injury
to the state. I too have heard the rumors of which you speak, but I cannot
give them one moment's credence; and I pray most fervently that,
springing as they do no one knows whence nor on what authority resting,
they will not be permitted to have the least effect upon the mind of the
Queen, nor upon any of her advisers. She is now in reality an independent
sovereign, reigning over an immense empire, stretching from Egypt to the
shores of the Euxine, from the Mediterranean to the Euphrates, and she
still stands upon the records of the senate as a colleague--even as when
Odenatus shared the throne with her--of the Emperor. This is a great and a
fortunate position. The gods forbid that any intemperance on the part of
the Palmyrenes should rouse the anger or the jealousy of the fierce
Aurelian!'

Could I have said less than this? But I saw in the countenances of both,
while I was speaking, especially in the honest, expressive one of Fausta,
that they could brook no hint of inferiority or of dependence on the part
of their country; so deep a place has the great Zenobia secured for
herself in the pride and most sacred affections of this people.

'I will not, with you, Piso,' said Gracchus, 'believe that the Emperor
will do aught to break up the present harmony. I will have faith in him;
and I shall use all the influence that I may possess in the affairs of the
state to infuse a spirit of moderation into our acts, and above all into
our language; for one hasty word uttered in certain quarters may lead to
the ruin of kingdoms that have taken centuries to attain their growth. But
this I say: let there only come over here from the West the faintest
whisper of any purpose on the part of Aurelian to consider Zenobia as
holding the same position in regard to Rome as Tetricus in Gaul, and that
moment a flame is kindled throughout Palmyra that nothing but blood can
quench. This people, as you well know, has been a free people from the
earliest records of history, and they will sink under the ruins of their
capital and their country, ere they will bend to a foreign power.'

'That will they!--that will they, indeed!' cried Fausta; 'there is not a
Palmyrene who, had he two lives, would not give one for liberty, and the
other for his good Queen. You do not know Zenobia, Lucius, nor can you
tell, therefore, how reasonable the affection is which binds every heart
to her as to a mother or a sister.'

'But enough of this for the present,' said Gracchus; 'let us leave the
affairs of nations, and ascend to those of private individuals--for I
suppose your philosophy teaches you, as it does me, that individual
happiness is the object for which governments are instituted, and that
they are therefore less than this. Let us ascend, I say, from the policy
of Rome and of Aurelian, to the private affairs of our friend Lucius Piso;
for your letter gives me the privilege of asking you to tell us, in all
frankness and love, what, beside the pleasure of seeing us, brings you so
far from Rome. It is, you hint, a business of a painful nature. Use me and
Fausta, as you would in Rome Portia and the good Lucilia, with the same
freedom and the same assurance of our friendship.'

'Do so, indeed,' added Fausta, with affectionate warmth, 'and feel that,
in addressing us, you are entrusting your thoughts to true and
long-tried friends.'

'I have,' replied I, 'but little to communicate, but that little is great
in its interest, and demands immediate action; and touching what shall be
most expedient to be done, I shall want and shall ask your deliberate
counsel. You are well aware, alas! too well aware, of the cruel fate of my
parent, the truly great Cneius Piso, whom to name is always a spring of
strength to my virtues. With the unhappy Valerian, to whom he clung to the
last, resolved to die with him, or suffer with him whatever the fates
should decree, he passed into captivity; but of too proud a spirit to
endure the indignities which were heaped upon the Emperor, and which were
threatened him, he--so we have learned--destroyed himself. He found an
opportunity, however, before he thus nobly used his power, to exhort my
poor brothers not at once, at least, to follow his example, 'You are
young,' said he, 'and have more strength than I, and the gods may
interpose and deliver you. Hope dwells with youth, as it dies with age. Do
not despair. I feel that you will one day return to Rome. For myself, I am
a decayed trunk, at best, and it matters little when I fall, or where I
lie. One thing, at least, I cannot bear; it would destroy me if I did not
destroy myself. I am a Roman and a Piso, and the foot of a Persian shall
never plant itself upon my neck. I die.' My elder brother, thinking
example a more powerful kind of precept than words, no sooner was assured
of the death of his father, than he too opened his veins, and perished.
And so we learned had Calpurnius done, and we were comparatively happy in
the thought that they had escaped by a voluntary death the shame of being
used as footstools by the haughty Sapor, and the princes of his court. But
a rumor reached us a few days before I left Rome, that Calpurnius is yet
living. We learn, obscurely, that being favorably distinguished and
secretly favored by the son of Sapor, he was persuaded to live, and wait
for the times to open a way for his escape. You may imagine both my grief
and my joy on this intelligence. The thought that he should so long have
lain in captivity and imprisonment, and no step have been taken toward his
rescue, has weighed upon me with a mountain weight of sorrow. Yet at the
same time, I have been supported by the hope that his deliverance may be
effected, and that he may return to Rome once more, to glad the eyes of
the aged Portia. It is this hope which has brought me to Palmyra, as
perhaps the best point whence to set in motion the measures which it shall
be thought wisest to adopt. I shall rely much upon your counsel.' No
sooner had I spoken thus, than Fausta quickly exclaimed:

'O father, how easily, were the Queen now in Palmyra, might we obtain
through her the means of approaching the Persian King with some hope of a
successful appeal to his compassion!--and yet'--She hesitated and paused.

'I perceive,' said Gracchus, 'what it is that checks your speech. You feel
that in this matter Zenobia would have no power with the Persian monarch
or court. The two nations are now, it is true, upon friendly terms; but a
deep hatred exists in the heart of Sapor toward Zenobia. The successive
defeats which he suffered, when Odenatus and his Queen took it upon them
to vindicate the honor of Rome, and revenge the foul indignities cast upon
the unfortunate Valerian, will never be forgotten; and policy only, not
love or regard, keeps the peace between Persia and Palmyra. Sapor fears
the power of Zenobia, supported, as he knows she would be in case of
rupture, by the strength of Rome; and moreover, he is well aware that
Palmyra serves as a protecting wall between him and Rome, and that her
existence as an independent power is vital to the best interests of his
kingdom. For these reasons harmony prevails, and in the event of war
between us and Rome, we might with certainty calculate upon Persia as an
ally. Still Sapor is an enemy at heart. His pride, humbled as it was by
that disastrous rout, when his whole camp and even his wives fell into the
hands of the Royal Odenatus, will never recover from the wound, and will
prompt to acts of retaliation and revenge, rather than to any deed of
kindness. While his public policy is, and doubtless will continue to be,
pacific, his private feelings are, and ever will be, bitter. I see not how
in this business we can rely with any hope of advantage upon the
interposition of the Queen. If your brother is ever rescued, it must, I
think, be achieved by private enterprise.'

'Your words,' said I, 'have pierced me through with grief, and dispelled
in a moment the brightest visions. All the way from Rome have I been
cheered by the hope of what the Queen, at your solicitation, would be able
to attempt and accomplish in my behalf. But it is all over. I feel the
truth of what you have urged. I see it--I now see it--private enterprise
can alone effect his deliverance, and from this moment I devote myself to
that work. If Rome leave her Emperor to die in captivity, so will not I my
brother. I will go myself to the den of this worse than barbarian king,
and bring thence the loved Calpurnius, or leave my own body there for that
beast to batten on. It is now indeed thirteen years since Calpurnius left
me, a child in Rome, to join the Emperor in that ill-fated expedition. But
it is with the distinctness of a yesterday's vision that he now stands
before my eyes, as he then stood that day he parted from us, glittering in
his brilliant armor, and his face just as brilliant with the light of a
great and trusting spirit. As he turned from the last embraces of the
weeping Portia, he seized me in his arms, who stood jingling his sword
against his iron greaves, and imprinting upon my cheek a kiss, bade me
grow a man at once, to take care of the household, while they were gone
with the good Emperor to fight the enemies of Rome in Asia. He was, as I
remember him, of a quick and fiery temper, but he was always gentle toward
me, and has bound me to him forever,'

'The gods prosper you!' cried Fausta, 'as surely they will. It is a pious
work to which you put your hand, and you will succeed.'

'Do not, Fausta,' said Gracchus, 'lend the weight of your voice to urge
our friend to measures which may be rather rash than wise, and may end
only in causing a greater evil than what already exists. Prudence must
govern us as well as affection. By venturing yourself at once into the
dominion of Persia, upon such an errand, it is scarcely less than certain
that you would perish, and without effecting your object. We ought to
consider, too, I think, what the condition and treatment of Calpurnius
are, before too great a risk is incurred for his rescue. He has now, we
are to remember, been at the capital of the great king thirteen years. You
have hinted that he had been kindly regarded by the son of Sapor. Possibly
his captivity amounts to no more than a foreign residence--a sort of
exile. Possibly he may, in this long series of years, have become changed
into a Persian. I understand your little lip, Fausta, and your indignant
frown, Lucius; but what I suggest is among things possible, it cannot be
denied; and can you deny it?--not so very unlikely, when you think what
the feelings of one must have been to be so wholly forgotten and abandoned
by his native country, and that country, Rome, the mistress of the world,
who needed but to have stretched forth the half of her power to have
broken for ever the chains of his slavery, as well as of the thousands who
with him have been left to linger out their lives in bondage. If
Calpurnius has been distinguished by the son of Sapor, his lot, doubtless,
has been greatly lightened, and he may now be living as a Persian prince.
My counsel is, therefore, that the truth in this regard be first obtained,
before the life of another son, and the only inheritor of so great a name,
be put in jeopardy. But what is the exact sum of what you have learned,
and upon which we may rely, and from which reason and act?'

'Our knowledge,' I replied, 'is derived from a soldier, who, by a great
and happy fortune, escaped and reached his native Rome. He only knew what
he saw when he was first a captive, and afterward, by chance, had heard
from others. He was, he said, taken to serve as a slave about the palace
of the King, and it was there that for a space he was an eye-witness to
the cruel and insulting usage of both Valerian and Calpurnius. That was
but too true, he said, which had been reported to us, that whenever the
proud Sapor went forth to mount his horse, the Emperor was brought, in the
face of the whole court, and of the populace who crowded round, to serve
as his footstool. Clothed in the imperial purple, the unfortunate Valerian
received upon his neck the foot of Sapor, and bore him to his saddle. It
was the same purpose that Calpurnius was made to serve for the young
prince Hormisdas. But, said the soldier, the prince pitied the young and
noble Roman, and would gladly, at the beginning, have spared him the
indignity put upon him by the stern command of his haughty and cruel
father. He often found occasion at these times, while standing with his
foot upon his neck, to speak with Calpurnius, and to express his regrets
and his grief for his misfortunes, and promise redress, and more, if he
ever came to the throne. But the soldier was soon removed from the
vicinity of the Royal palace, and saw no more of either Valerian or
Calpurnius. What came to his ears was, generally, that while Valerian was
retained exclusively for the use of Sapor, Calpurnius was after a time
relinquished as entirely into the hands of Hormisdas, in whose own palace
he dwelt, but with what portion of freedom, he knew not. That he was
living at the time he escaped, he was certain. This, Gracchus, is the sum
of what we have heard; in addition only, that the Emperor sank under his
misfortunes, and that his skin, fashioned over some substance so as
exactly to resemble the living man, is preserved by Sapor, as a monument
of his triumph over the legions of Rome.'

'It is a pitiful story,' said Fausta, as I ended: 'for a brave man it has
been a fate worse than death; but having survived the first shame, I fear
me my father's thought will prove a too true one, and that long absence,
and indignation at neglect, and perhaps gratitude and attachment to the
prince, who seems to have protected him, will have weaned him from Rome.
So that we cannot suffer you, Lucius, to undertake so long and dangerous a
journey upon so doubtful an errand. But those can be found, bold and
faithful, who for that ample reward with which you could so easily enrich
them, would venture even into the heart of Ecbatana itself, and bring you
back your brother alive, or advertise you of his apostasy or death.'

'What Fausta says is just,' observed Gracchus, 'and in few words
prescribes your course. It will not be a difficult thing, out of the
multitudes of bold spirits who crowd the capital, Greek, Roman, Syrian,
and Arab, to find one who will do all that you could do, and I may add,
both more and better. You may find those who are familiar with the route,
who know the customs of Persia, who can speak its language, and are even
at home in her capitals, and who would be infinitely more capable than
either you or I, or even Fausta, to manage to a happy issue an enterprise
like this. Let this then be our decision; and be it now our united care to
find the individual to whom we may commit this dear but perilous service.
And now enough of this. The city sleeps, and it were better that we slept
with it. But first, my child, bring harmony into our spirits by one of
those wild, sad airs which you are accustomed to sing to me upon the harp
of the Jews. It will dispose Lucius to pleasant dreams.'

I added my importunities, and Fausta rising, moved to an open window,
through which the moon was now pouring a flood of silver light, and
seating herself before the instrument which stood there, first swept its
strings with an easy and graceful hand.

'I wish,' said she, 'I could give you the song which I am going to sing in
the language of the Hebrews, for it agrees better, I think, with the
sentiment and the character of the music, than the softer accents of the
Greek. But every thing is Greek now.'

So saying, she commenced with a prelude more sweetly and profoundly
melancholy than even the wailing of the night wind among the leafless
trees of the forest. This was followed by--an ode shall I call it?--or a
hymn?--for it was not what we mean by a song. Nor was the music like any
other music I had ever heard, but much more full of passion; broken, wild,
plaintive, triumphant by turns, it stirred all the deepest feelings of the
heart. It seemed to be the language of one in captivity, who, refusing to
sing one of the songs of his country for the gratification of his
conquerors, broke out into passionate strains of patriotism, in which he
exalted his desolated home to the Heavens, and prophesied in the boldest
terms her ultimate restoration to power and glory. The sentiment lost
nothing coming to the ear clothed in the rich music of Fausta's voice,
which rose and sank, swelled and died away, or was full of tears or joy,
as agreed with the theme of the poet. She was herself the poet, and the
captive, and the Jew, so wholly did she abandon herself to the sway of the
thoughts which she was expressing. One idea alone, however, had possessed
me while she sang--to which, the moment she paused, I first gave
utterance. 'And think you, Fausta,' said I, 'that while the captive Jew
remembers his country, the captive Roman will forget his? Never!
Calpurnius, if he lives, lives a Roman. For this I thank your song.
Melancholy and sad in itself, it has bred joy in my soul. I shall now
sleep well.' So saying, we separated.

Thus was passed my first evening in Palmyra.



Letter III.



With what pleasure do I again sit down, dear Curtius and Lucilia, to tell
you how I have passed my time, and what I have been able to accomplish,
since I last wrote; thrice happy that I have to report of success rather
than of defeat in that matter which I have undertaken. But first, let me
thank you for all the city gossip, with which you so greatly entertained
me in your joint epistle. Although I pass my hours and days in this
beautiful capital as happily as I could any where out of Rome, still my
letters from home are a great addition to my enjoyment. After rising from
perusal of yours and my mother's, I was a new man. Let me beg you--which
indeed I need hardly do--to send each letter of mine, as you receive it,
to Portia, and in return receive and read those which I have written and
shall continue to write to her. To you I shall give a narrative of events;
to her, I shall pour out sentiment and philosophy, as in our conversation
we are wont to do. I shall hope soon to have somewhat of interest to say
of the state of letters here, and of my interviews with distinguished men.
So soon as the Queen shall return from her excursion through some of her
distant provinces, I shall call upon Gracchus to fulfil his promise, and
make me known to the great Longinus, now with the Queen absent. From my
intercourse with him I shall look to draw up long and full reports of much
that shall afford both entertainment and instruction to you all.

I have now passed several days in Palmyra, and have a mass of things to
say. But instead of giving you a confused report, I shall separate one
thing from another, and set down each according to the time and manner
in which it happened. This is what I know you desire, and this is what
I shall do.

I cannot easily tell you how delicious was my slumber after that last day
of fatiguing travel, and that evening of to me the most exciting converse.
I dreamed that night of Calpurnius rescued and returned; and ever as he
was present to my sleeping fancy, the music of Fausta's harp and voice was
floating near.

Hannibal was early at my door to warn me of the hour of the morning meal,
Milo being still under the influences of the evening's potation. I was
shown to a different apartment from that in which we had supped, but
opening into it. It was a portico rather than a room, being on two sides
open to the shrubbery, with slender Ionic pillars of marble supporting the
ceiling, all joined together by the light interlacings of the most
gorgeous creeping plants. Their odors filled the air. A fountain threw up
in the most graceful forms its clear water, and spread all around an
agreeable coolness. Standing at those points where flights of steps led
down to the walks and plots of grass and flowers, which wound about the
palace, the eye wandered over the rich scene of verdure and blossom which
they presented, and then rested where it can never rest too often or too
long, upon the glittering shafts of the Temple of the Sun. This morning
prospect, from this single point, I thought was reward enough for my long
voyage and hot journey over the desert. It inspired more cheerful thoughts
than the same scene as I had seen it the evening before from the windows
of my chamber. I could not but draw omens of good from the universal smile
that beamed upon me from the earth and the heavens. Fausta's little hand
suddenly placed within mine, and the cheerful greeting of her voice, awoke
me from my dreamy state.

'Your countenance shows that you have slept well, Lucius,' said she; 'it
is bright as the morning itself. Your dreams must have been favorable. Or
else is it the wonder-working power of a Palmyrene air that has wrought so
with you since the last evening? Tell me, have you not slept as you never
slept in Rome?'

'I have slept well, indeed,' I replied, 'but I believe it was owing
rather to your harp and Jewish ode, than to any mysterious qualities of
the air. Your music haunted the chambers of my brain all night, and
peopled them with the forms of those whom I love, and whose memory it last
evening recalled so vividly. Mostly I dreamed of Calpurnius, and of his
return to Rome, and with him came ever your image dimly seen hovering
round, and the strains of your voice and harp. These are to me auguries of
good, even as if the voice of a god had spoken. I shall once more embrace
a brother--and what is even more, a Roman.'

'The gods grant it may be so!' replied Fausta: 'A prayer which I repeat,'
cried Gracchus, as he approached us from the hall, through which I had
just passed. 'I have thought much of your affair since I parted from you
last evening, and am more than ever persuaded that we came to a true
decision touching the steps best to be taken. To-day I shall be much
abroad, and shall not forget to search in every direction for one who may
be intrusted with this nice, and difficult, and withal dangerous business.
I can now think of no messenger who bids so fair to combine all the
qualities we most desire, as the Jew. I know but few of that tribe, and
those are among the rich. But then those rich are connected in various
ways with the poor--for to a marvellous extent they are one people---it
is the same you know in Rome--and through them I think I may succeed.'

'Now have you,' I quickly added, 'again poured light into my mind. Half
our labor is over. I know a Jew whose capacities could not be more fitting
for this enterprise. I saw much of him on board the vessel which took us
first to the African coast, where, at Utica, it set him on shore, bringing
me farther on to Berytus. He is a true citizen of the world--knows all
languages, and all people, and all places. He has all the shrewdness of
his race---their intelligence, their enthusiasm, and, I may add, their
courage. He is a traveller by profession, and a vender of such things as
any will buy, and will go wherever he may hope to make large gains
wherewith to do his share toward "building again the walls of Jerusalem,"
as he calls it. He has a home in every city of the East. It was toward
Palmyra that he was bending his way: and, as I now remember, promised that
he would see me here not many days after I should arrive, and have the
pleasure, as he trusted, to sell me more of his goods; for you must be
told that I did indeed traffic with him, however little it became a
patrician of Rome. And here I have about me, in a little casket, some
rings which I purchased of him, having upon them heads of Zenobia and
Odenatus, resembling the originals to the life, as he assured me with much
asseveration. See, Fausta, here they are. Look now, and tell me if he has
spoken in this instance the truth; if so, it will be a ground for trusting
him farther.'

'Beautiful!' exclaimed both Gracchus and Fausta. 'He has indeed dealt
honestly with you. Nothing can be more exact than these resemblances, and
the workmanship is worthy the hand of Demetrius the Greek.'

'Provincials,' said I, 'ever know the capital and its fashions better than
citizens. Now never till Isaac, my Jew friend, rehearsed to me the praises
of Demetrius the jeweller, had I ever heard his name, or aught concerning
his skill, and here in the heart of Asia he seems a household word.'

'It is so, indeed,' said Gracchus. 'I do not doubt that the fashionable
artists of every kind in Rome are better known to the followers of fashion
in Palmyra than they are to the patricians themselves. Wanting the real
greatness of Rome, we try to surpass her in the trappings of greatness. We
are well represented by the frog of Æsop; happy, if our swelling pride do
not destroy us. But these rings--they are indeed of exquisite art. The
head of Odenatus is truer to life, methinks, than that of the Queen.'

'And how can poor stone and gold set out the divine beauty and grace of
Zenobia!' cried Fausta. 'This is beautiful to you now, Lucius, but it will
be so no longer when you shall have seen her. Would that she were here! It
seems as if the sun were gone from the heavens, when she is absent from us
on these long excursions among her distant subjects.'

'Till then, dear Fausta,' said I, 'deign to wear on that only finger which
I see ungraced by a ring, this head of your so much vaunted Queen;
afterward wear it, if you will, not for her sake, but mine.'

So saying, upon her finger which she held out to me--and which how
beautiful it was I shall not say--I attempted to pass the ring, but
alas! it was too small, and would not, with all the gentle force I dared
to use, go on.

'Here is an omen, Fausta,' said I; 'the Queen cannot be forced upon your
hand. I fear your friendship is threatened.'

'Oh! never entertain any such apprehension,' interrupted Fausta. 'It is
quite needless. Here is plenty of room on this neighbor finger. It is
quite right that Aurelian, you know, should give way to Zenobia: so, away
with the Emperor!' and she snapped the ring across the pavement of the
Portico--'and now, Lucius, invest me with that burning beauty.'

'And now do you think you deserve it? I marvel, Gracchus, at the boldness
of these little girls. Verily, they bid fair to mount up over our heads.
But come, your finger: there--one cannot but say it becomes you better
than the fierce Aurelian. As for the deposed Emperor, he is henceforward
mine. Thus I re-instate him.' In saying which, I pursued and picked up the
discarded ring, and gave to it the most honored place upon my right hand.

Fausta now, first laughingly bidding me welcome to the ring, called us to
the table, where the breakfast, consisting of fruits in greater proportion
than with us, awaited us. Much talk now ensued concerning the city, its
growth and numbers, power and probable destiny. I was satisfied from what
fell from each, that the most ambitious designs are entertained by both
the court and people, and that their wonderful successes have bred in them
a real belief that they should have nothing to fear from the valor or
power of Rome, under any circumstances of collision. When this was
through, Gracchus, rising from his seat and pacing slowly up and down the
portico, spoke of my private affairs, and with great kindness went over
again the whole ground. The result was the same.

'Our way, then,' he said, 'is clear. Wait a few days for your fellow
traveller, Isaac. If he appears, well,--if not, we must then search the
quarter of the Jews for one who may do as good service perhaps. I now
leave you, with a suggestion to Fausta that she should take it upon her to
drive you round the city, and into the suburbs. No one can perform the
office of a guide better than she.'

'If Fausta will take that trouble upon her,' I replied, 'it will
give me----'

'A great deal of pleasure, you were going to say; so it will me. I am sure
we shall enjoy it. If I love any thing, it is to reveal to a proud Roman
the glories of Palmyra. Take away from a Roman that ineffable air which
says "Behold embodied in me the majesty of Rome!" and there remains a very
agreeable person. But for those qualities of mind and manners which fit
men and women for society, the Roman men and women must yield to the
Palmyrenes. So I think, who have seen somewhat of both--and so
think--gainsay my authorities if you have the courage--Longinus and the
Bishop of Antioch. I see that you are disturbed. No wonder. Longinus,
though a philosopher, is a man of the world, who sees through its ways as
clearly as he does through the mysticism of Plato, and that asks for good
eyes; and for the bishop--there is not so finished a gentleman in all the
East. His appointments are not less exquisite than those of the highest
noble either of Antioch or Palmyra. If an umpire in any question of
manners were to be chosen, it would be he.'

'As for the Greek,' I rejoined, 'I am predisposed to admit his superior
claims. I will surrender to him with alacrity my doubts both in manners
and philosophy. For I hold there is a philosophy in manners, nay, even in
clothes, and that the highest bred intellect will on that very account
best perceive the nice distinctions and relations, in the exact
perception and observance of which the highest manners consist. Such an
one may offend against the last device in costume--and the last
refinement in the recondite art of a bow--but he will eternally excel in
all that we mean by breeding. Your bishop I know nothing of, but your
account of him strikes me not very agreeably. These Christian bishops,
methinks, are taking upon themselves too much. And besides, if what I
gathered of the theory of their religion from a passenger on board the
Mediterranean trader, be correct, they depart greatly from the severity
of their principles, when they so addict themselves to the practices of
courts and of the rich. I received from this Christian a beautiful idea
of his faith, and only lamented that our companionship was broken off
before I had had time fully to comprehend all he had to say. The
character of this man, and his very countenance, seemed as arguments to
support the strict opinions which he advanced. This bishop, I think, can
scarcely do his faith the same service.'

'I know him not much,' said Fausta, 'and of his faith, nothing. He has
great power over the Princess Julia, and it would not much amaze me if, by
and by, she declared herself a Christian. It is incredible how that
superstition spreads. But here is our carriage. Come, let us forth.'

So, breaking off our talk, we betook ourselves to the carriage. How shall
I find language, my Curtius, to set before you with the vividness of the
reality, or with any approach to it, the pictures which this drive through
and around Palmyra caused to pass successively before me? You know indeed,
generally, what the city is, from the reports of former travellers,
especially from the late book of Spurius, about which and its speculations
much was said a little while since. But let me tell you, a more one-sided,
one-eyed, malignant observer never thrust himself upon the hospitalities
of a free, open-hearted people, than that same Spurius, poet and
bibliopole. His very name is an offence to the Palmyrenes, who, whatever
national faults they may have, do not deserve the deep disgrace of being
brought before the world in the pages of so poor a thing as the said
Ventidius Spurius. Though it will not be my province to treat as an author
of the condition, policy, and prospects of Palmyra, yet to you and my
friends I shall lay myself open with the utmost freedom, and shall refrain
from no statement or opinion that shall possess, or seem to do so, truth
or importance.

The horses springing from under the whip of the charioteer, soon bore us
from the great entrance of the palace into the midst of the throng that
crowded the streets. The streets, seen now under the advantages of a warm
morning sun adding a beauty of its own to whatever it glanced upon, showed
much more brilliantly than ours of Rome. There is, in the first place, a
more general sumptuousness in equipage and dress, very striking to the eye
of a Roman. Not perhaps that more wealth is displayed, but the forms and
the colors, through which it displays itself, are more various, more
tasteful, more gorgeous. Nothing can exceed, nothing equals, it is said,
any where in the world, the state of the Queen and her court; and this
infects, if I may use so harsh a word, the whole city. So that, though
with far less of real substantial riches than we have, their extravagance
and luxury are equal, and their taste far before us. Then every thing
wears a newer, fresher look than in Rome. The buildings of the republic,
which many are so desirous to preserve, and whole streets even of
ante-Augustan architecture, tend to spread around here and there in Rome a
gloom--to me full of beauty and poetry--but still gloom. Here all is
bright and gay. The buildings of marble--the streets paved and
clean--frequent fountains of water throwing up their foaming jets, and
shedding around a delicious coolness--temples, and palaces of the nobles,
or of wealthy Palmyrene merchants--altogether present a more brilliant
assemblage of objects than I suppose any other city can boast. Then
conceive, poured through these long lines of beautiful edifices, among
these temples and fountains, a population drawn from every country of the
far East, arrayed in every variety of the most showy and fanciful costume;
with the singular animals, rarely seen in our streets, but here met at
every turn--elephants, camels, and dromedaries, to say nothing of the
Arabian horses, with their jewelled housings, with every now and then a
troop of the Queen's cavalry, moving along, to the sound of their clanging
trumpets--conceive, I say, this ceaseless tide of various animal life
poured along among the proud piles, and choking the ways, and you will
have some faint glimpse of the strange and imposing reality.

Fausta was in raptures at my transports, and in her pleasant but
deep-meaning way, boasted much over the great capital of the world. So we
rode along, slowly, because of the crowded state of the streets, and on
account of my desire to observe the manners and ways of the people--their
shops, which glittered with every rare work of art--and the devices, so
similar in all places of trade, by which the seller attracts the buyer. I
was engrossed by objects of this sort, when Fausta's voice drew my
attention another way.

'Now,' said she, 'prepare yourself for the glory of Palmyra; look when we
shall suddenly turn round the next corner, on the left, and see what you
shall see.'

The chariot soon whirled round the indicated corner, and we found
ourselves in full view of the Temple of the Sun, so famous throughout the
world. Upon a vast platform of marble, itself decorated with endless lines
of columns--elsewhere of beauty and size sufficient for the principal
building, but here a mere appendage--stood in solitary magnificence this
peerless work of art. All I could do was, and the act was involuntary, to
call upon the charioteer to rein up his horses and let me quietly gaze. In
this Fausta, nothing unwilling, indulged me. Then, when satisfied with
this the first point of view, we wound slowly round the spacious square
upon which it stands, observing it well in all directions, and taking my
fill of that exalted but nameless pleasure which flows in upon the soul
from the contemplation of perfect excellence.

'This is, if I err not, Fausta, the work of a Greek artist.'

'It is,' said she: 'here both Romans and Palmyrenes must acknowledge
their inferiority, and indeed all other people. In every city of the
world, I believe, all the great works of art are the offspring of Grecian
genius and Grecian taste. Truly, a wonderful people! In this very city,
our artists--our men of letters--even the first ministers of state--all
are Greeks. But come, let us move on to the Long Portico, an edifice
which will astonish you yet more than even the Temple of the Sun, through
your having heard of it so much less. We shall reach it in about half a
Roman mile.'

This space was soon passed, and the Portico stood revealed with its
interminable ranges of Corinthian columns, and the busy multitudes winding
among them, and, pursuing their various avocations, for which this
building offers a common and convenient ground. Here the merchants
assemble and meet each other. Here various articles of more than common
rarity are brought and exhibited for sale. Here the mountebanks resort,
and entertain the idle and lovers of amusement with their fantastic
tricks. And here strangers from all parts of the world may be seen walking
to and fro, observing the customs of the place, and regaling themselves at
the brilliant rooms, furnished with every luxury, which are opened for
their use, or else at the public baths which are found in the immediate
neighborhood. The Portico does not, like the Temple, stand upon an
elevated platform, but more upon a level with the streets. Its greatness
is derived from its extreme length, and its exquisitely-perfect designs
and workmanship, as seen in the graceful fluted columns and the rich
entablature running round the whole. The life and achievements of
Alexander are sculptured upon the frieze; the artist--a Greek also--having
been allowed to choose his own theme.

'Fausta,' said I, 'my soul is steeped in beauty. It will be to no purpose
to show me more now. I am like one who has eaten too much--forgive the
figure--delicacies are lost upon him.'

'I cannot release you yet,' cried Fausta; 'a little farther on, and you
may see the palace of our great Queen; give me your patience to that
point, and I will then relieve you by a little excursion through the
suburbs, where your eye may repose upon a rural beauty as satisfying as
this of the city. You must see the palace. There!--we are already in
sight of it.'

It rose upon us, so vast is it, and of so many parts, like a city within a
city. A fit dwelling for so great, so good, and so beautiful a woman. Of
this you will find a careful and true account, with drawings, which
greatly help the imagination, in the otherwise vile book of the traducer
Spurius. To that I refer you, and so refrain from all description.

We now left the city, and wound at our leisure among the shady avenues,
the noble country retreats, the public gardens, the groves and woods which
encompass the walls, and stretch away far beyond the sight, into the
interior. Returning, we passed through the arches of the vast aqueduct
which pours into the city a river of the purest water. This is the most
striking object, and noblest work of art, without the walls.

When we had passed in this way nearly the whole day, we at length
re-entered the city by the Persian Gate, on the eastern side,

'Now, Fausta,' said I, 'having given so much of the day to pleasure, I
must give the rest, not to pain, but to duty. I will seek out and find, if
I can, Demetrius, brother to Demetrius of Rome. From him I can learn, it
seems probable, concerning the movements of Isaac.'

'You will find the shop of Demetrius in the very heart of the city, midway
between the Persian and Roman gates. Farewell, for a time, and may the
gods prosper you!'

I was not long in making my way to the shop of the Greek. I found the
skilful Demetrius busily engaged in putting the last polish upon a small
silver statue of a flying Mercury. He looked up as I entered, and saluting
me in Greek, invited me to look at his works. I could not for a long time
take off my eyes from the figure upon which he was working, and expressed
my admiration.

'Ah, it is very well, I think, said he, 'but it is nothing compared with
the work of my brother at Rome. You know him doubtless?'

'Indeed I do not, I am obliged to say.'

'What!--a Roman, as I perceive, and a patrician also, and not know
Demetrius the goldsmith?--he who was the favorite of Valerian, and
Gallienus, and Claudius, and now of Aurelian? There is no hand like that
of Demetrius the elder. These, sir, are mere scratches, to his divine
touch. These are dolls, compared with the living and breathing gold as it
leaves his chisel. Sir, it is saying nothing beyond belief, when I say,
that many a statue like this, of his, is worth more than many a living
form that we see in and out of the shop. Forgive me, but I must say I
would rather possess one of his images of Venus or Apollo, than a live
Roman--though he be a patrician too.'

'You are complimentary,' I said: 'but I can believe you. When I return to
Rome, I shall seek out your brother, and make myself acquainted with his
genius. I have heretofore heard of him chiefly through a travelling Jew,
whom I fell in with on the way hither--Isaac, as he is called.'

'Ah ha!--Isaac of Rome. I know him well,' he replied. 'He is a good
man--that is, he is good for one of that tribe. I look for him every day.
A letter from Rome informs me that he is on his way. It is a pleasant
thing to see Isaac. I wonder what curiosities he brings from the hand of
my brother. He will be welcome. I trust he brings some heads of our late
king and present queen, from drawings which I made and transmitted. I am
impatient to see them. Saw you anything of this sort about him?'

'Truly I did, and if by some ill chance I have not left them behind me, in
my preparations for a morning excursion, I can show you what you will like
to see. Ah! here it is: in this small casket I have, I presume, unless
Isaac shall have deceived me--but of which you will be a perfect
judge--some of your brother's art. Look, here are rings with heads of your
king and queen, such as you have just spoken of. Are they genuine?'

'No instrument but that which is guided by the hand of the elder
Demetrius ever did this work,' said he, slowly drawing out his words, as
he closely scrutinized the ring. 'The gold embossment might indeed have
been done by another, but not these heads, so true to the life, and of an
art so far beyond any ability of mine, that I am tempted sometimes to
think that he is in league with Vulcan. Gods! how that mouth of the Queen
speaks! Do we not hear it? Ah, Roman, give me the skill of Demetrius the
elder, and I would spit upon all the power of Aurelian.'

'You Greeks are a singular people. I believe that the idea of beauty is to
you food and clothing, and shelter and drink, more than all riches and all
power: dying on a desert island, a fragment of Phidias would be dearer to
you than a cargo of food.'

'That's a pretty conceit enough,' said he, 'and something near the truth,
as must be confessed.'

As we were thus idly discoursing, we became suddenly conscious of an
unusual commotion in the street. The populace began to move quickly by in
crowds, and vehicles of all sorts came pouring along as if in expectation
of something they were eager to see.

'What's all this?--what's all this?' said Demetrius, leaving his work,
which he had resumed, and running to the door of his shop: 'what's the
matter, friend?' addressing a citizen hurrying by: 'Is Aurelian at the
gates, that you are posting along in such confusion?'

'Not Aurelian,' replied the other, 'but Aurelian's mistress. The Queen is
coming. Clouds of dust on the skirts of the plain show that she is
advancing toward the city.'

'Now, Roman, if thou wouldst see a sight, be advised and follow me. We
will mount the roof of yonder market, whence we shall win a prospect such
as no eye can have seen that has not gazed from the same point. It is
where I go to refresh my dulled senses, after the day's hard toil.'

So saying, and pausing a moment only to give some necessary directions to
the pupils, who were stationed at their tasks throughout the long
apartment, telling them to wait for the show till it should pass by the
shop, and not think to imitate their master in all his ways--saying these
things in a half earnest and half playful manner--we crossed the street,
and soon reached the level roof, well protected by a marble breastwork, of
the building he had pointed out.

'We are here just at the right moment,' said he: 'come quickly to this
corner and secure a seat, for you see the people are already thronging
after us. There! can Elysium offer a more perfect scene? And look, how
inspiring is the view of these two multitudes moving toward each
other, in the spirit of friendship! How the city opens her arms to
embrace her Queen!'

At the distance of about a mile from the walls, we now saw the party of
the Queen, escorted by a large body of horse: and, approaching them from
the city, apparently its whole population, some on foot, some on horse,
some in carriages of every description. The plain was filled with life.
The sun shooting his beams over the whole, and reflected from the spears
and corslets of the cavalry, and the gilding and polished work of chariots
and harness, caused the scene to sparkle as if strewed with diamonds. It
was a fair sight. But fairer than all was it to witness, as I did, the
hearty enthusiasm of the people, and even of the children, toward their
lovely Queen. Tears of joy even I could see falling from many eyes, that
she was returning to them again. As soon as the near approach of Zenobia
to the walls began to conceal her and her escort, then we again changed
our position, and returned to the steps of the shop of Demetrius, as the
Queen would pass directly by them, on her way to the palace.

We had been here not many minutes, before the shouts of the people, and
the braying of martial music, and the confused sound of an approaching
multitude, showed that the Queen was near. Troops of horse, variously
caparisoned, each more brilliantly as it seemed than another, preceded a
train of sumptuary elephants and camels, these too richly dressed, but
heavily loaded. Then came the body-guard of the Queen, in armor of
complete steel--and then the chariot of Zenobia, drawn by milk-white
Arabians. So soon as she appeared, the air resounded with the acclamations
of the countless multitudes. Every cry of loyalty and affection was heard
from ten thousand mouths, making a music such as filled the heart almost
to breaking.

'Long live the great Zenobia!' went up to the heavens. 'The blessing of
all the gods on our good Queen!'--'Health and happiness to the mother of
her people!'--'Death and destruction to her enemies!'--these, and cries of
the same kind, came from the people, not as a mere lip-service, but
evidently, from the tone in which they were uttered, prompted by real
sentiments of love, such as it seems to me never before can have existed
toward a supreme and absolute prince.

It was to me a moment inexpressibly interesting. I could not have asked
for more, than for the first time to see this great woman just as I now
saw her. I cannot, at this time, even speak of her beauty, and the
imposing yet sweet dignity of her manner; for it was with me, as I suppose
it was with all--the diviner beauty of the emotions and sentiments which
were working at her heart and shone out in the expressive language of her
countenance, took away all power of narrowly scanning complexion, feature
and form. Her look was full of love for her people. She regarded them as
if they were her children. She bent herself fondly toward them, as if
nothing but the restraints of form withheld her from throwing herself into
their arms. This was the beauty which filled and agitated me. I was more
than satisfied.

'And who,' said I to Demetrius, 'is that beautiful being, but of a sad and
thoughtful countenance, who sits at the side of the Queen?'

'That,' he replied, 'is the Princess Julia; a true descendant of her great
mother; and the gods grant that she, rather than either of her brothers,
may succeed to the sovereign power.'

'She looks indeed,' said I, 'worthy to reign--over hearts at least, if not
over nations. Those in the next chariot are, I suppose, the young Cæsars,
as I hear they are called--about as promising, to judge by the form and
face, as some of our Roman brood of the same name. I need not ask whose
head that is in the carriage next succeeding; it can belong to no other
in Palmyra than the great Longinus. What a divine repose breathes over
that noble countenance! What a clear and far-sighted spirit looks out of
those eyes! But--gods of Rome and of the world!--who sits beside him?
Whose dark soul is lodged in that fearful tenement?--fearful and yet
beautiful, as would be a statue of ebony!'

'Know you not him? Know you not the Egyptian Zabdas?--the mirror of
accomplished knighthood--the pillar of the state--the Aurelian of the
East? Ah! far may you go to find two such men as those--of gifts so
diverse, and power so great--sitting together like brothers. It all shows
the greater power of Zenobia, who can tame the roughest and most ambitious
spirits to her uses. Who is like Zenobia?'

'So ends, it seems to me,' I replied,' every sentence of every
Palmyrene--"Who is like Zenobia?"'

'Well, Roman,' said he, 'it is a good ending; may there never be a worse.
Happy were it for mankind, if kings and queens were all like her. She
rules to make others happy--not to rule. She conceives herself to be an
instrument of government, not its end. Many is the time, that, standing in
her private closet, with my cases of rare jewels, or with some pretty
fancy of mine in the way of statue or vase, I have heard the wisdom of
Aristotle dropping in the honey of Plato's Greek from her divine lips.'

'You are all going mad with love,' said I; 'I begin to tremble for
myself as a Roman. I must depart while I am yet safe. But see! the crowd
and the show are vanished. Let me hear of the earliest return of Isaac,
and the gods prosper you! I am at the house of Gracchus, opposite the
Temple of Justice.'

I found, on reaching the palace, Fausta and Gracchus, overjoyed at the
safe and happy return of the Queen. Fausta, too, as the Queen was passing
by, she standing by one of the pillars of the great entrance, had obtained
a smile of recognition, and a wave of the hand from her great friend, as I
may justly term her, and nothing could exceed the spirits she was in.

'How glad I am, Lucius,' said she, 'that you have seen her so soon, and
more than all, that you saw her just as you did, in the very heart of the
people. I do not believe you ever saw Aurelian so received in
Rome--Claudius perhaps--but not again Galliemis, or his severe but weak
father. But what have you done--which is to all of us a more immediately
interesting subject--what have you done for Calpurnius? Do you learn any
thing of Isaac?'

'I have the best news,' I replied, 'possible in the case. Isaac will be in
Palmyra--perhaps this very night; but certainly within a few days, if the
gods spare his life. Demetrius is to give me the earliest intelligence of
his arrival.'

'Now then let us,' said Fausta, 'to the table, which need not offer the
delicacies of Vitellius, to insure a favorable reception from appetites
sharpened as ours have been by the day's motion and excitement.'

Gracchus, throwing down a manuscript he had been attentively perusing, now
joined us.

Leaving untold all the good things which were said, especially by
Gracchus, while I and Fausta, more terrestrially given, applied ourselves
to the agreeable task set before us, I hasten to tell you of my interview
with the Jew, and of its issue. For no sooner had evening set in, and
Fausta, seated at her harp, was again soothing the soul with her sweet and
wild strains, than a messenger was announced from the Greek Demetrius,
desiring to have communication with me. Divining at once his errand, I
sought him in the ante-room, where, learning from him that Isaac was
arrived, and that if I would see him I must seek him on the moment, as he
was but for one night in the city, intending in the morning to start for
Ctesiphon, I bade him lead on, and I would follow, first calling Milo to
accompany me.

'To what part of the city do we go?' said I, addressing the messenger of
Demetrius.

'To the quarter of the Jews, near the Gate of the Desert,' he replied. 'Be
not apprehensive of danger,' he added; 'the city is as safe by night as by
day. This we owe to the great Queen.'

'Take me where thou wilt, I fear nothing,' said I.

'But methinks, master mine,' said Milo, 'seeing that we know not the ways
of this outlandish capital, nor even who this doubtless respectable person
is who invites us to this enterprise, it were more discreet to add
Hannibal to our numbers. Permit me, and I will invoke the presence of the
Ethiopian.'

'No, Milo,' I replied, 'in thy valor I am ready to put my trust. Thy
courage is tried courage, and if need be, I doubt not thou wilt not
hesitate to die sword in hand.'

'Such sort of confidence I do by no means covet: I would rather that thou
shouldst place it somewhere else. It is true that when I was in the
service of the most noble Gallienus--'

'Well, we will spare thee the trouble of that story. I believe I do thy
virtues no injustice. Moreover, the less talk, the more speed.'

Saying this, in order that I might be left to my own thoughts for a
space, before I should meet the Jew, we then pressed on, threading our
way through a maze of streets, where recollection of place and of
direction was soon and altogether lost. The streets now became narrow,
filthy, darker and darker, crooked and involved. They were still noisy
with the loud voices of the inhabitants of the dwellings, calling to
each other, quarrelling or laughing, with the rattling of vehicles
returning home after the labors of the day, and with all that variety of
deafening sounds which fall upon the ear where great numbers of a poor
and degraded population are crowded together into confined quarters.
Suddenly leaving what seemed to be a sort of principal street, our guide
turned down into an obscure lane, which, though extremely narrow and
crooked, was better built than the streets we had just left. Stopping
now before what seemed a long and low white wall, our guide, descending
a few steps, brought us to the principal entrance of the dwelling, for
such we found it to be. Applying a stone to the door, to arouse those
who might be within, we were immediately answered in a voice which I at
once recognised as that of Isaac:

'Break not in the door,' shouted he, 'with your unmannerly blows. Who are
you, that one must live standing with his hand on the latch of the door?
Wait say, till I can have time to walk the length of the room. What can
the Gentiles of Palmyra want of Isaac of Rome at this time of night?' So
muttering, he unbarred and opened the door.

'Come in, come in: the house of Isaac is but a poor house of a poor Jew,
but it has a welcome for all. Come in--come--. But, father Abraham! whom
have we here? The most noble Piso! A patrician of Rome in the hovel of a
poverty-pinched Jew! That would sound well upon the exchange. It may be
of account. But what am I saying? Welcome to Palmyra, most noble Piso,
for Palmyra is one of my homes; at Rome, and at Antioch, and Alexandria,
and Ctesiphon, and Carthage--it is the same to Isaac. Pray seat
yourselves; upon this chair thou wilt find a secure seat, though it
promises not so much, and here upon my dromedary's furniture is another.
So, now we are well. Would that I had that flask of soft Palmyrene, which
but now I sent--'

'Take no trouble for our sakes,' I exclaimed, cordially saluting him; 'I
am just now come from the table of Gracchus. I have matters of more moment
to discuss than either meats or wines.'

'But, noble master, hast thou ever brought to thy lips this same soft
Palmyrene? The name indicates some delicious juice.'

'Peace, Milo, or thou goest home alone, as thou best canst.'

'Roman,' began Isaac,' I can think only of two reasons that can have
brought thee to my poor abode so soon; the one is to furnish thyself with
more of that jewelry which gave thee so much delight, and the other to
discourse with me concerning the faith of Moses. Much as I love a bargain,
I hope it is for the last that thou art come; for I would fain see thee in
a better way than thou art, or than thou wouldst be if that smooth Probus
should gain thy ear. Heed not the wily Nazarene! I cannot deny him a good
heart, after what I saw of him in Carthage. But who is he, to take it upon
him to sit in judgment upon the faith of two thousand years? Would that I
could once see him in the grasp of Simon Ben Gorah! How would his heresy
wither and die before the learning of that son of God. Roman, heed him
not! Let me take thee to Simon, that thou mayst once in thy life hear the
words of wisdom.'

'Not now, not now, good Isaac. Whenever I apostatize from the faith of the
founders of my nation, and deny the gods who for more than a thousand
years have stood guardians over Rome, I will not refuse to weigh whatever
the Jew has to offer in behalf of his ancient creed. But I come to thee
now neither to buy of thee, nor to learn truth of thee, but to seek aid in
a matter that lies near my heart.'

'Ha! thy heathen god Cupid has ensnared thee! Well, well, the young must
be humored, and men must marry. It was the counsel of my father, whose
beard came lower than his girdle, and than whom the son of Sirach had not
more wisdom, "Meddle not nor make in the loves of others. God only knoweth
the heart. And how knowest thou that, in contriving happiness, thou shalt
not engender sorrow?" Howbeit, in many things have I departed from the
counsel of that venerable man. Alas for it! Had my feet taken hold, in all
their goings, of his steps, I had not now for my only companion my
fleet-footed dromedary, and for my only wealth this load of gilded toys,'

'Neither is it,' I rejoined, 'for any love-sickness that I am come,
seeking some healing or inflaming drug, but upon a matter of somewhat more
moment. Listen to me, while I unfold.'

So saying, I told all that you already so well know in as few words as I
could, but leaving out no argument by which I could hope to work upon
either the cupidity, the benevolence, or the patriotism of the Jew. He,
with his hands folded under his beard, listened without once interrupting
me, but with an expression of countenance so stolid, that when I had ended
I could guess no better than when I began as to the part he would act.

After a pause of some length, he slowly began, discoursing rather with
himself than with me: 'A large enterprise--and to be largely considered.
The way is long--seven hundred Roman miles at the least--and among
little other than savage tribes, save here and there a desert, where the
sands, as is reported, rise and fall like the sea. How can an old man
like me encounter such labor and peril? These unbelieving heathen think
not so much of the life of a Jew as of a dog. Gentile, why goest thou
not thyself?'

'Thy skill, Isaac, and knowledge of men and countries, are more than
mine, and will stand thee in good stead. Death were the certain issue,
were I to venture upon this expedition, and then my brother's fate were
sealed forever.'

'I seem to thee, Roman Piso, to be a lone man in a wide world, who may
live or die, and there be none to know or care how it is. It is verily
much so. Yet I was not always alone. Children once leaped at the sound of
my voice, and clung in sport to my garment. They are in Abraham's
bosom,--better than here. Yet, Roman, I am not alone. The God of Israel is
with me, and while it is him I serve, life is not without value. I trust
in the coming restoration of Jerusalem: for that I toil, and for that I am
ready to die. But why should my bones whiten the desert, or my mangled
carcass swing upon a Persian gibbet? Will that be to die for my country?'

'I can enrich thee for thy services, Jew, and thou sayest that it is for
wealth, that it may be poured into the general coffers of thy tribe, that
thou traversest the globe. Name thy sum, and so it be not beyond reason, I
will be bound to pay thee in good Roman coin.'

'This is to be thought of. Doubtless thou wouldst reward me well. But
consider how large this sum must be. I fear me thou wilt shrink from the
payment of it, for a Roman noble loves not money less than a poor Jew. My
trade in Ctesiphon I lose. That must be made up. My faithful dromedary
will be worn out by the long journey: that too must be made good. My plan
will require an attendant slave and camel: then there, are the dangers of
the way--the risk of life in the city of the Great King--and, if it be not
cut off, the expenses of it. These, to Isaac, are not great, but I may be
kept there long.'

'But thou wilt abate somewhat of the sum thou hast determined upon, out of
love to thy kind. Is the pleasure of doing a good deed nothing to thee?'

'Not a jot will I abate from a just sum--not a jot.' And why should I?
And thou art not in earnest to ask the abatement of a feather's weight.
What doth the Jew owe the Roman? What hath the Roman done to the Jew? He
hath laid waste his country with fire and sword. Her towns and villages he
hath levelled with the ground. The holy Jerusalem he hath spoiled and
defiled, and then driven the plough over its ruins. My people are
scattered abroad among all nations--subject every where to persecution and
death. This thou knowest is what the Roman hath done. And what then owe I,
a Jew--a Jew--to the Roman? I bear thee, Piso, no ill will; nay, I love
thee; but wert thou Rome, and this wheaten straw a dagger, it should find
thy heart! Nay, start not; I would not hurt a hair of thy head. But tell
me now if thou agreest to my terms: one gold talent of Jerusalem if I
return alive with or without thy brother, and if I perish, two, to be paid
as I shall direct.'

'Most heartily, Isaac, do I agree to them, and bless thee more than words
can tell, besides. Bring back my brother alive, and whatsoever thou shalt
desire more, shall be freely thine.'

'I am content. To-morrow then I turn my back upon Ctesiphon and Palmyra,
and make for Ecbatana. Of my progress thou shalt learn. Of success I am
sure--that is, if thy brother hearken to the invitation.

Then giving such instructions as might be necessary on my part, we
separated.



Letter IV.



If the gods, dear Marcus and Lucilia, came down to dwell upon earth, they
could not but choose Palmyra for their seat, both on account of the
general beauty of the city and its surrounding plains, and the exceeding
sweetness and serenity of its climate. It is a joy here only to sit still
and live. The air, always loaded with perfume, seems to convey essential
nutriment to those who breathe it; and its hue, especially when a morning
or evening sun shines through it, is of that golden cast, which, as poets
feign, bathes the tops of Olympus. Never do we tremble here before blasts
like those which from the Appenines sweep along the plains and cities of
the Italian coast. No extremes of either heat or cold are experienced in
this happy spot. In winter, airs, which in other places equally far to the
north would come bearing with them an icy coldness, are here tempered by
the vast deserts of sand which stretch away in every direction, and which
it is said never wholly lose the heat treasured up during the fierce reign
of the summer sun. And in summer, the winds which as they pass over the
deserts are indeed like the breath of a furnace, long before they reach
the city change to a cool and refreshing breeze by traversing as they do
the vast tracts of cultivated ground, which, as I have already told you,
surround the capital to a very great extent on every side. Palmyra is the
very heaven of the body. Every sense is fed to the full with that which it
chiefly covets.

But when I add to this, that its unrivalled position, in respect to a
great inland traffic, has poured into the lap of its inhabitants a sudden
and boundless flood of wealth, making every merchant a prince, you will
truly suppose, that however heartily I extol it for its outward beauties,
and all the appliances of luxury, I do not conceive it very favorable in
its influences upon the character of its population. Palmyrenes, charming
as they are, are not Romans. They are enervated by riches, and the
luxurious sensual indulgences which they bring along by necessity in their
train--all their evil power being here increased by the voluptuous
softness of the climate. I do not say that all are so. All Rome cannot
furnish a woman more truly Roman than Fausta, nor a man more worthy that
name than Gracchus. It is of the younger portion of the inhabitants I now
speak. These are without exception effeminate. They love their country,
and their great queen, but they are not a defence upon which in time of
need to rely. Neither do I deny them courage. They want something more
vital still--bodily strength and martial training. Were it not for this, I
should almost fear for the issue of any encounter between Rome and
Palmyra. But as it is, notwithstanding the great achievements of Odenatus
and Zenobia, I cannot but deem the glory of this state to have risen to
its highest point, and even to have passed it. You may think me to be
hasty in forming this opinion, but I am persuaded you will agree with me
when you shall have seen more at length the grounds upon which I rest it,
as they are laid down in my last letter to Portia.

But I did not mean to say these things when I sat down to my tablets, but
rather to tell you of myself, and what I have seen and done since I last
wrote. I have experienced and enjoyed much. How indeed could it be
otherwise, in the house of Gracchus, and with Gracchus and Fausta for my
companions? Many are the excursions we have together taken into the
country, to the neighboring hills whence the city derives its ample supply
of water, and even to the very borders of the desert. I have thus seen
much of this people, of their pursuits, and modes of life, and I have
found that whether they have been of the original Palmyrene
population--Persian or Parthian emigrants--Jews, Arabians, or even
Romans--they agree in one thing, love of their queen, and in a
determination to defend her and her capital to the last extremity, whether
against the encroachments of Persia or Rome, Independence is their
watchword. They have already shown, in a manner the most unequivocal, and
to themselves eternally honorable, that they will not be the slaves of
Sapor, nor dependents upon his power. And in that they have given at the
same time the clearest proof of their kindly feeling toward us, and of
their earnest desire to live at peace with us. I truly hope that no
extravagances on the part of the Queen, or her too-ambitious advisers,
will endanger the existing tranquillity; yet from a late occurrence of
which I was myself a witness among other excited thousands, I am filled
with apprehensions.

That to which I allude, happened at the great amphitheatre, during an
exhibition of games given by Zenobia on the occasion of her return, in
which the Palmyrenes, especially those of Roman descent, take great
delight. I care, as you know, nothing for them, nor only that, abhor them
for their power to imbrute the people accustomed to their spectacles more
and more. In this instance I was persuaded by Fausta and Gracchus to
attend, as I should see both the Queen and her subjects under favorable
circumstances to obtain new knowledge of their characters; and I am not
sorry to have been there.

The show could boast all the magnificence of Rome. Nothing could exceed
the excitement and tumult of the city. Its whole population was abroad to
partake of the general joy. Early in the day the streets began to be
thronged with the multitudes who were either pouring along toward the
theatre, to secure in season the best seats, or with eager curiosity
pressing after the cages of wild animals drawn by elephants or camels
toward the place of combat and slaughter. As a part of this throng, I
found myself, seated between Gracchus and Fausta, in their most sumptuous
chariot, themselves arrayed in their most sumptuous attire. Our horses
could scarcely do more than walk, and were frequently obliged to stand
still, owing to the crowds of men on horse, on foot, and in vehicles of
every sort, which filled the streets. The roaring of the imprisoned
animals, the loud voices of their keepers, and of the drivers of the
cumbrous wagons which held them, the neighing, or screaming I might say,
of the affrighted horses every now and then brought into immediate contact
with the wild beasts of the forests, lions, tigers or leopards, made a
scene of confusion, the very counterpart of what we have so often
witnessed in Rome, which always pains more than it pleases me, and which
I now describe at all, only that you may believe what Romans are so slow
to believe, that there are other cities in the world where great actions
are done as well as in their own. The inhabitants of Palmyra are as quick
as you could desire them to be, in catching the vices and fashions of the
great metropolis.

'Scipio, Scipio,' cried Gracchus suddenly to his charioteer, 'be not in
too great haste. It is in vain to attempt to pass that wagon, nay, unless
you shall be a little more reserved in your approaches, the paw of that
tawny Numidian will find its way to the neck of our favorite Arab. The
bars of his cage are over far apart.'

'I almost wish they were yet farther apart,' said I, 'and that he might
fairly find his way into the thickest of this foolish crowd, and take a
short revenge upon his civilized tormentors. What a spectacle is
this--more strange and savage, I think, looked upon aright, than that
which we are going to enjoy--of you, Gracchus, a pillar of a great
kingdom; of me, a pillar--a lesser one, indeed, but still a pillar--of a
greater kingdom; and of you, Fausta, a woman, all on our way to see wild
beasts let loose to lacerate and destroy each other, and what is worse,
gladiators, that is, educated murderers, set upon one another, to die for
our entertainment. The best thing I have heard of the Christian
superstition is, that it utterly denounces and prohibits to its disciples
the frequenting of these shows. Nothing to me is plainer than that we may
trace the cruelties of Marius, Sylla, and their worthy imitators through
the long line of our Emperors, to these schools where they had their
early training. Why were Domitian and his fly worse than Gracchus, or
Piso, or Fausta, and their gored elephant, or dying gladiator?'

'You take this custom too seriously,' replied Gracchus. 'I see in it, so
far as the beasts are concerned, but a lawful source of pleasure. If they
tore not one another in pieces for our entertainment, they would still do
it for their own, in their native forests; and if it must be done, it were
a pity none enjoyed it. Then for the effects upon the beholding crowd, I
am inclined to think they are rather necessary and wholesome than
otherwise. They help to render men insensible to danger, suffering, and
death; and as we are so often called upon to fight each other, and die in
defence of our liberties, or of our tyrants and oppressors, whichever it
may be, it seems to me we are in need of some such initiatory process in
the art of seeing blood shed unmoved, and of some lessons which shall
diminish our love and regard for life. As for the gladiators, they are
wretches who are better dead than alive; and to die in the excitement of a
combat is not worse, perhaps, than to expire through the slow and
lingering assaults of a painful disease. Besides, with us there is never,
as with you, cool and deliberate murder perpetrated on the part of the
assembly. There is here no turning up of the thumb. It is all honorable
fighting, and honorable killing. What, moreover, shall be done to
entertain the people? We must feed them with some such spectacles, or I
verily think they would turn upon each other for amusement, in civil broil
and slaughter.'

'Your Epicurean philosophy teaches you, I am aware,' said I in reply, 'to
draw happiness as you best can from all the various institutions of
Providence and of man--not to contend but to receive, and submit, and be
thankful. It is a philosophy well enough for man's enjoyment of the
passing hour, but it fatally obstructs, it appears to me, the way of
improvement. For my own part, though I am no philosopher, yet I hold to
this, that whatever our reason proves to be wrong or defective, it at the
same time enforces the duty of change and reform--that no palpable evil,
either in life or government, is to be passively submitted to as
incurable. In these spectacles I behold an enormous wrong, a terrific
evil; and though I see not how the wrong is to be redressed, nor the evil
to be removed, I none the less, but so much the more, conceive it to be my
part, as a man and a citizen, to think and converse, as now, upon the
subject, in the hope that some new light may dawn upon its darkness. What
think you, Fausta? I hope you agree with me--nay, as to that, I think
Gracchus, from his tone, was but half in earnest.'

'It has struck me chiefly,' said Fausta, 'as a foolish custom; not so much
in itself very wrong, as childish. It is to me indeed attended with pain,
but that I suppose is a weakness of my own--it seems not to be so in the
case of others. I have thought it a poor, barren entertainment, fit but
for children, and those grown children whose minds, uninstructed in higher
things, must seek their happiness in some spring of mere sensual joy.
Women frequent the amphitheatre, I am sure, rather to make a show of their
beauty, their dress, and equipage, than for any thing else; and they
would, I believe, easily give in to any change, so it should leave them
an equally fair occasion of display. But so far as attending the
spectacles tends to make better soldiers, and stouter defenders of our
Queen, I confess, Lucius, I look upon them with some favor. But come, our
talk is getting to be a little too grave. Look, Lucius, if this be not a
brave sight? See what a mass of life encompasses the circus! And its vast
walls, from the lowest entrances to its very summit, swarm as it were with
the whole population of Palmyra. It is not so large a building as your
Flavian, but it is not wholly unworthy to be compared with it.'

It is not, indeed,' said I; 'although not so large, its architecture is
equally in accordance with the best principles, both of science and taste,
and the stone is of a purer white, and more finely worked.'

We now descended from our carriage, and made our way through the narrow
passages and up the narrow stairways to the interior of the theatre, which
was already much more than half filled. The seats to which we were
conducted were not far from those which were to be occupied by the Queen
and her train. I need not tell you how the time was passed which
intervened between taking our seats, the filling of the theatre, and the
commencement of the games--how we all were amused by the fierce smugglings
of those who most wished to exhibit themselves, for the best places; by
the efforts of many to cause themselves to be recognised by those who were
of higher rank than themselves, and to avoid the neighborhood and escape
the notice of others whose acquaintance would bring them no credit; how we
laughed at the awkward movements and labors of the servants of the
circus, who were busying themselves in giving its final smoothness to the
saw-dust and hurrying through the last little offices of so vast a
preparation, urged on continually by the voices or lashes of the managers
of the games; nor how our ears were deafened by the fearful yellings of
the maddened beasts confined in the vivaria, the grated doors of which
opened, as in the Roman buildings of the same kind, immediately on the
arena. Neither will I inflict weariness upon myself or you, by a detailed
account of the kind and order of the games at this time exhibited for the
entertainment of the people. The whole show was an exact copy from the
usages of Rome. I could hardly believe myself in the heart of Asia.
Touching only on these things so familiar to you, I will relate what I was
able to observe of the Queen and her demeanor, about which I know you will
feel chiefly desirous of information.

It was not till after the games had been some time in progress, and the
wrestlers and mock-fighters having finished their foolish feats, the
combats of wild animals with each other had commenced, that a herald
announced by sound of trumpet the approach of the Queen. The moment that
sound, and the loud clang of martial music which followed it, was heard,
every eye of the vast multitude was turned to the part of the circus where
we were sitting, and near which was the passage by which Zenobia would
enter the theatre. The animals now tore each other piecemeal, unnoticed by
the impatient throng. A greater care possessed them. And no sooner did the
object of this universal expectation reveal herself to their sight, led to
her seat by the dark Zabdas, followed by the Princess Julia and Longinus,
and accompanied by a crowd of the rank and beauty of Palmyra, than one
enthusiastic cry of loyalty and affection rent the air, drowning all other
sounds, and causing the silken canopy of the amphitheatre to sway to and
fro as if shaken by a tempest. The very foundations of the huge structure
seemed to tremble in their places. With what queenly dignity, yet with
what enchanting sweetness, did the great Zenobia acknowledge the greetings
of her people! The color of her cheek mounted and fell again, even as it
would have done in a young girl, and glances full of sensibility and love
went from her to every part of the boundless interior, and seemed to seek
out every individual and to each make a separate return for the hearty
welcome with which she had been received. These mutual courtesies being
quickly ended, the games again went on, and every eye was soon riveted on
the arena where animals were contending with each other or with men.

The multitude being thus intently engaged, those who chose to employ their
time differently were left at full liberty to amuse themselves with
conversation or otherwise, as it pleased them. Many a fat and unwieldy
citizen we saw soundly sleeping in spite of the roarings of the beasts and
the shouts of the spectators. Others, gathering together in little
societies of their own, passed all the intervals between the games, as
well as the time taken up by games which gave them no pleasure, in
discussing with one another the fashions, the news, or the politics of the
day. Of these parties we were one; for neither Gracchus, nor Fausta, nor
I, cared much for the sports of the day, and there were few foolish or
wise things that were not uttered by one of as during the continuance of
those tedious, never-ending games.

'Well, Lucius,' said Fausta, 'and what think you now of our great Queen?
For the last half hour your eyes having scarcely wandered from her, you
must by this time be prepared with an opinion.'

'There can be little interest,' said I, 'in hearing an opinion on a
subject about which all the world is agreed. I can only say, what all
say. I confess I have never before seen a woman. I am already prepared to
love and worship her with you, for I am sure that such pre-eminent beauty
exists in company with a goodness that corresponds to it. Her intellect
too we know is not surpassed in strength by that of any philosopher of
the East. These things being so, where in the world can we believe there
is a woman to be compared with her? As for Cleopatra, she is not worthy
to be named.'

As I uttered these things with animation and vehemence, showing I suppose
in my manner how deeply I felt all that I said, I perceived Fausta's fine
countenance glowing with emotion, and tears of gratified affection
standing in her eyes.

Gracchus spoke. 'Piso,' said he,' I do not wonder at the enthusiastic
warmth of your language. Chilled as my blood is by the approaches of age,
I feel even as you do: nay, I suppose I feel much more; for to all your
admiration, as a mere philosophical observer, there is added in my case
the fervid attachment which springs from long and intimate knowledge, and
from an intercourse, which not the coolness of a single hour has ever
interrupted. It would be strange indeed if there were not one single flaw
in so bright an emanation from the very soul of the divinity, wearing as
it does the form of humanity. I allude to her ambition. It is boundless,
almost insane. Cæsar himself was not more ambitious. But in her even this
is partly a virtue, even in its wildest extravagance; for it is never for
herself alone that she reaches so far and so high, but as much or more for
her people. She never separates herself from them, even in thought, and
all her aspirings are, that she herself may be great indeed, but that her
country may with and through her be great also, and her people happy. When
I see her as now surrounded by her subjects, and lodged in their very
heart of hearts, I wish--and fervently would I pray, were there gods to
implore--that her restless spirit may be at peace, and that she may seek
no higher good either for herself or her people than that which we now
enjoy. But I confess myself to be full of apprehension. I tremble for my
country. And yet here is my little rebel, Fausta, who will not hearken to
this, but adds the fuel of her own fiery spirit to feed that of her great
mistress. It were beyond a doubt a good law which should exclude women
from any part in public affairs.'

'Dear father, how do you remind me of the elder Cato, in the matter of the
Oppian Law: while women interfered in public affairs, only to promote the
interests of their worthy husbands, the lords of the world, the great Cato
had never thought but to commend them; but no sooner did they seek to
secure some privileges very dear to them as women, and clamor a little in
order to obtain them, than straightway they were nuisances in the body
politic, and ought to be restrained by enactments from having any voice in
the business of the state. Truly I think this is far from generous
treatment. And happy am I, for one, that at length the gods in their good
providence have permitted that one woman should arise to vindicate her sex
against the tyranny of their ancient oppressors and traducers. If I might
appoint to the spirits of the departed their offices, I could wish nothing
merrier than that that same Cato should be made the news-carrier from the
kingdom of Zenobia to the council of the gods. How he would enjoy his
occupation! But seriously, dear father, I see not that our Queen has any
more of this same ambition than men are in a similar position permitted to
have, and accounted all the greater for it. Is that a vice in Zenobia
which is a glory in Aurelian? Longinus would not decide so. Observe how
intent the Queen is upon the games.

'I would rather,' said I, 'that she should not gaze upon so cruel a sight.
But see! the Princess Julia has hidden her head in the folds of her veil.'

'Julia's heart,' said Fausta, 'is even tenderer than a woman's. Besides,
if I mistake not, she has on this point at least adopted some of the
notions of the Christians. Paul of Antioch has not been without his power
over her. And truly his genius is well nigh irresistible. A stronger
intellect than hers might without shame yield to his. Look, look!--the
elephant will surely conquer after all. The gods grant he may! He is a
noble creature; but how cruelly beset! Three such foes are too much for a
fair battle. How he has wreathed his trunk round that tiger, and now
whirls him in the air! But the rhinoceros sees his advantage:
quick--quick!'

Fausta, too, could not endure the savage sight, but turned her head away;
for the huge rhinoceros, as the elephant lifted the tiger from the ground,
in the act to dash him again to the earth, seized the moment, and before
the noble animal could recover himself, buried his enormous tusk deep in
his vitals. It was fatal to both, for the assailant, unable to extricate
his horn, was crushed through every bone in his body, by the weight of the
falling elephant. A single tiger remained master of the field, who now
testified his joy by coursing round and round the arena.

'Well, well,' said Gracchus, 'they would have died in the forest; what
signifies it? But why is this blast of trumpets? It is the royal flourish!
Ah! I see how it is; the sons of Zenobia, whom none miss not being
present, are about to enter the theatre. They make amends by the noise of
their approach for their temporary absence. Yet these distant shouts are
more than usual. The gods grant that none of my fears may turn true!'

No sooner had Gracchus ended these words, while his face grew pale with
anxious expectation, than suddenly the three sons of the Queen made their
appearance, and--how shall I say it?--arrayed in imperial purple, and
habited in all respects as Cæsars. It seemed to me as if at that very
moment the pillars of this flourishing empire crumbled to their
foundation. And now while I write, and the heat of that moment is passed,
I cannot but predict disaster and ruin, at least fierce and desolating
wars, as the consequence of the rash act. I know the soul of Aurelian, and
that it will never brook what it shall so much as dream to be an
indignity--never endure so much as the thought of rivalry in another,
whether Roman or foreigner, man or woman. To think it is treason with
him--a crime for which blood only can atone.

Having entered thus the amphitheatre, assuming a high and haughty bearing,
as if they were already masters of the world, they advanced to the front
railing, and there received the tumultuous acclamations of the people. A
thousand different cries filled the air. Each uttered the sentiment which
possessed him, regardless of all but testifying loyalty and devotion to
the reigning house. Much of the language was directed against Rome, which,
since the circulation of the rumors of which I have already spoken, has
become the object of their most jealous regard. Aurelian's name was
coupled with every term of reproach. 'Is Aurelian to possess the, whole
earth?' cried one. 'Who are Romans?' cried another; 'the story of Valerian
shows that they are not invincible.' 'We will put Zabdas and Zenobia
against the world!' shouted others.' 'The conqueror of Egypt
forever!--long live the great Zabdas!' rose from every quarter. It were in
vain to attempt to remember or write down half the violent things which in
this hour of madness were uttered. The games were for a long time
necessarily suspended, and the whole amphitheatre was converted into an
arena of political discussion, from which arose the confused din of
unnumbered voices, like the roar of the angry ocean. I looked at Zenobia;
she was calm--satisfied. Pride was upon her lip and brow. So like a god
was the expression of her whole form, that for a moment I almost wished
her mistress of the world. She seemed worthy to reign. Julia was
evidently sad, and almost distressed; Longinus, impenetrable as marble;
Zabdas, black and lowering as night.

Quiet was at length restored, and the games went on.

A messenger came now from the Queen to our seat, with the request that
Fausta should join her, not being satisfied with the distant intercourse
of looks and signs, So, accompanied by Gracchus, she was soon placed by
the side of Zenobia, whose happiness seemed doubled by the society of, I
believe, her choicest friend. Left now to myself, I had leisure to think
and to observe. A more gorgeous show than this vast assembly presented, I
think I never before beheld--no, not even in the Flavian. Although in Rome
we seem to draw together people of all regions and all climes, yet after
all the North and West preponderate, and we lack the gayer costumes which
a larger proportion of these Orientals would add to our spectacles. Not to
say too, that here in the East the beauty of woman is more transcendent,
and the forms of the men cast in a finer mould. Every variety of
complexion is here also to be seen, from the jet black of the slender
Ethiopian, to the more than white of the women of the Danube. Here I saw
before me, in one promiscuous throng, arrayed in their national dresses,
Persians, dark-skinned Indians, swarthy Egyptians, the languishing,
soft-eyed Syrian, nymphs from the borders of the Caspian, women of the
Jews from the shores of the Mediterranean, Greeks from Asia Minor, the
Islands, and Attica, with their classic costume and statue-like forms and
faces, Romans, and, abounding over all and more beautiful than all, the
richly-habited nobles and gentry of Palmyra itself. I enjoyed the scene as
a man and a philosopher; nay, as a Roman too: and could not but desire
earnestly, that the state, of whose prosperity it was so clear a token,
might last even with Rome itself. I wished you and Lucilia at my side--not
to mention the little Gallus--not, as you may believe, to witness the
games, but to behold in this remote centre of Asia so fair a show of our
common race.

It was not till the sun was already about to sink in the west, that the
games ended, and the crowds dispersed, and I once more found myself in the
peaceful precincts of home; for so already do I call the hospitable
dwelling of Gracchus.

'So, Fausta,' said I, 'you forsook your old friend Lucius for the
companionship of a queen? Truly I cannot blame you, for most gladly would
I too have gone and made one of your circle. How irksome are the forms and
restraints of station, and even of society! how little freedom do they
allow in the expression of our real sentiments! Could I have sat with you
by Zenobia, can I doubt that by a frank disclosure of my feelings and
opinions, I could have corrected some errors, softened some prejudices,
and at the same time gained her esteem--her esteem for me, I mean, as a
sincere well-wisher to her kingdom, although none the less a Roman? It
would have been a fortunate moment for such communication as I desire. I
trust yet, seeing such a promise has gone forth from you, to see her in
her own palace.'

'Indeed you shall,' said Fausta; 'it has only been owing to fatigue, after
her long excursion, and to this show of games, that you have not seen her
long before this. She is well aware of your rank and footing of intimacy
with Aurelian, and of the object for which you make this visit to her
capital, and has expressed frequent and earnest desires of an interview
with you. And now have I a great mind not to tell you of the speedy
pleasure and honor that await you. What will you give to know the tenor of
what I have to say?'

'I will confer the greatest honor in my power,' said I: 'I will dislodge
the Emperor from my own finger and replace him upon yours. Here I offer
you the head of Aurelian--cut, not indeed by the cunning tool of Demetrius
of Rome, but doubtless by some competent artist. Is it not a fair offer,
Gracchus?'

'I fear unless you make a different and a better one, you will scarce open
the lips of our fierce patriot,' answered Gracchus.

'That will he not,' said Fausta; 'were he to engage by to-morrow to make
himself over into a veritable, sound-hearted, queen-loving Palmyrene, it
would not be more than he ought to do. I am sure, old Solon toiled hard to
make a Roman out of me, and how do I know but it was at your instance? And
it having been so, as I must believe, what less can you do in atonement
than to plant yourself here upon the soil of Palmyra? A Roman, trust me,
takes quick root in this rich earthy and soon shoots up and spreads out
into a perfectly proportioned Palmyrene, tall and beautiful as a date
tree. Father, how can we bribe him? You shake your head as if without
hope. Well, let us wait till Calpurnius returns; when you find him an
Oriental, perhaps you may be induced to emigrate too. Surely it is no
such great matter to remove from Rome to Palmyra. We do not ask you to
love Rome any the less, but only Palmyra more. I still trust we shall ever
dwell in friendship with each other. We certainly must desire it, who are
half Roman. But why do I keep you in such painful suspense? Hear, then, my
message, which is, that you will appear at the palace of Zenobia
to-morrow. The Queen desires a private interview with you, and for that
purpose will receive no other visiters. Her messenger will in the morning
apprize you of the hour, and conduct you to the palace! Ah! I see by your
countenance how delighted you are. It is no wonder.'

'I am delighted, indeed,' said I; 'that is a part of my feeling, but not
the whole of it. I cannot, accustomed even as I have been to associate
with the high in rank and intellect in various countries, without some
inward perturbation, think of meeting for the first time so remarkable a
person; one whose name is known not only throughout Asia, but the world;
and whose genius and virtues are the theme of universal wonder and praise.
Then, Fausta, Zenobia is a woman, and a woman inspires an awe which man
never does; and what is more yet, she is of a marvellous beauty, and
before that most perfect work of the gods, a beautiful woman, I am apt to
be awkward and dumb; at the least--which perhaps is it---made to think
too much of myself to acquit myself well. You may think that I exaggerate
these feelings. Possibly I do. Certainly they are not of such strength
that I do not gladly seize upon the favor thus extended, and count myself
honored and happy.'

'Where, Lucius, tell me where you learned this new dialect, which runs
so sweetly when woman is the theme. Sure am I, it is not Roman, Ovid has
it not. Nor yet is it Palmyrene. Do we owe it to a rich invention of
your own?'

'Fausta, I am in earnest in what I have said. It is my own native
dialect--instinctive. Therefore laugh not, but give me a lesson how I
shall deport myself. Remember the lessons I have so many times given you
in Rome, and now that you have risen into the seat of power, return them
as you are bound to do.'

'Now are you both little more than two foolish children, but just escaped
from the nursery,' cried Gracchus, who had been pacing up and down the
portico, little heeding, to all appearance, what was going on. 'Lucius,
ask no advice of that wild school-girl. Listen to me, who am a counsellor,
and of age, and ought, if I do not, to speak the words of wisdom. Take
along with thee nothing but thy common sense, and an honest purpose, and
then Venus herself would not daunt thee, nor Rhadamanthus and the Furies
terrify. Forget not too, that beneath this exterior covering, first of
clothes, and then of flesh, there lies enshrined in the breast of Zenobia,
as of you and me, a human heart, and that this is ever and in all the
same, eternally responsive to the same notes, by whomsoever struck. This
is a great secret. Believe too, that in our good Queen this heart is pure
as a child's; or, if I may use another similitude, and you can understand
it, pure as a Christian's--rather, perhaps, as a Christian's ought to be.
Take this also, that the high tremble to meet the low, as often as the low
to meet the high. Now ask no more counsel of Fausta, but digest what the
oracle has given out, and which now for the night is silent,'

In this sportive mood we separated.

At the appointed hour on the following day, the expected messenger
appeared, and announcing the Queen's pleasure that I should attend her at
the palace, conducted me there with as much of state as if I had been
Aurelian's ambassador.

On arriving at the palace, I was ushered into an apartment, not large, but
of exquisite architecture, finished and furnished in the Persian taste,
where sat Zenobia and Julia. At the feet of the Queen, and supporting them
upon an embroidered cushion of silk, there lay crouched a beautiful Indian
slave. If it was her office to bear that light and pretty burden, it
seemed to be her pleasure too; for she was ever weaving round it in
playful manner her jewelled ringers; casting upwards to her mistress
frequent glances of most affectionate regard.

'Noble Piso,' said the Queen, after I had approached and saluted her in
the appointed manner, 'it gives me pleasure to greet one of your ancient
name in Palmyra, I seem already acquainted with you through my fast
friends Gracchus and his bright daughter. You have lost nothing, I am
sure, in coming to us first through their lips; and if any lips are honest
and true, it is theirs. We welcome you to the city of the desert.'

'Great Queen,' I replied, 'it is both a pleasure and a pain to find myself
in your brilliant capital. I left Rome upon a melancholy errand, which I
have as yet but half accomplished. Till success shall crown it, I can but
half enjoy the novel scenes, full of interest and beauty, which your
kingdom and city present. It was to rescue a brother--if I may speak for
one moment of myself--held in captivity since the disaster of Valerian,
that I set sail from Italy, and am now a dweller in Palmyra, From this
point, I persuaded myself I could best operate for his deliverance. My
first impulse was to throw myself at your feet, and ask of you both
counsel and aid,'

'They should have been gladly yours, very heartily yours. It was a
foul deed of Sapor--and a sad fate, that of the great Censor, and of
your father the good Oneius Piso. And yet I see not much that I could
have done.'

'Refuse not my thanks,' said I, 'for the expression of so generous
sentiments. I am sure I should have shared a goodness of which all seem to
partake, had I thought it right and necessary to appeal to you. But I was
soon convinced, by the arguments of both Gracchus and Fausta, that my
chance of success was greater through private than through public
enterprise. And happy am I to be able to say, that I have found and
employed an emissary, who, if the business be capable of accomplishment by
human endeavors, will with more likelihood than any other that could
easily be named, accomplish it. Aurelian himself could not here do as much
nor as well as Isaac of Rome.'

'I believe,' said Zenobia, 'you will readily agree with me in the
opinion, that Rome has never respected herself so little as in her
neglect of Valerian and his fellow-sufferers. But for the scathing got
from our arm, the proud Persian had come out of that encounter with
nothing but laurels. We, thanks to the bravery and accomplished art of
Odenatus, tore off some of those laurels, and left upon the body of the
Great King the marks of blows which smart yet. This Indian girl at my
feet was of the household of Sapor--a slave of one of those women of whom
we took a tent full. The shame of this loss yet rankles deep in the heart
of the king. But should Rome have dealt so by her good Emperor and her
brave soldiers? Ought she to have left it to a then new and small power
to take vengeance on her mean, base-minded, yet powerful foe? It is not
even yet too late, methinks, for her to stir herself, were it only to
rescue one of the noble house of Piso. Perhaps it may be with some intent
of this kind that we hear rumors of an Asiatic expedition. Aurelian, we
learn, having weaned himself with victory in Gaul and Germany, turns his
thoughts towards the East. What can his aim be, if not Persia? But I
truly rejoice that through efforts of your own you have so good prospect
of seeing again your captive brother.'

'I have no knowledge of the purposes of the Roman Emperor,' I replied,
'but such as is common to all. Though honored with the friendship of
Aurelian, I am not a political confidant. I can only conjecture touching
his designs, from my acquaintance with his character, and the features of
the policy he has adopted and avowed as that which is to govern his
administration. And this policy is that which has been acted upon by so
many of those who before him have been raised to the head of our nation,
namely this, that, west of the Euphrates to the farthest limits of Spain
and Gaul, embracing all the shores of the Mediterranean, with their
thickly scattered nations, there shall be but one empire, and of that one
empire but one head. It is the fixed purpose of Aurelian to restore to
the empire, the unity by which it was distinguished and blessed under the
two Antonines. And already his movements in Gaul show that his practice
is to conform to his theory. I feel that you will pardon, nay, that you
will commend me for the plainness with which I impart such knowledge as I
may possess. It will be to me the dearest happiness, if I can subserve in
any way, consistently with my duty to Rome, the interests of Palmyra and
her Queen.'

'Roman,' said Zenobia in reply, 'I honor your frankness, and thank you for
your faith in my generosity. It is not, I assure you, misplaced. I am glad
to know from so authentic a source the policy of Aurelian. I surmised as
much before. All that I have thought, will come true. The rumors which are
afloat are not without foundation. Your emperor understands that I have a
policy as well as he, and a fixed purpose as well as he. I will never fall
from what I have been, but into ruin final and complete. I have lived a
sovereign Queen, and so I will die. The son of Valerian received Odenatus
and Zenobia as partners in empire. We were representatives of Rome in the
East. Our dignities and our titles were those of Gallienus. It were small
boasting to say that they were worn not less worthily here than in Rome.
And this association with Rome--I sought it not. It was offered as a
tribute to our greatness. Shall it be dissolved at the will of
Aurelian?--and Palmyra, no longer needed as a scourge for the Great King,
be broken down into a tributary province, an obscure appendage of your
greatness? May the gods forsake me that moment I am false to my country! I
too am ambitious, as well as Aurelian. And let him be told, that I
stipulate for a full partnership of the Roman power--my sons to bear the
name and rank of Cæsar--or the tie which unites Palmyra to Rome is at
once and forever sundered, and she stands before the world an independent
kingdom, to make good as she may, by feats of arms, her claim to that high
dignity; and the arms which have prevailed from the Nile to the shores of
the Caspian, from the Euphrates to the Mediterranean, and have triumphed
more than once over the pride and power of Persia, may be trusted in any
encounter, if the fates should so ordain, with even Rome herself. The
conqueror of Egypt would, I believe, run a not ignoble tilt with the
conqueror of a Gallic province.'

'Dearest mother,' said the Princess Julia, in a voice full of earnest
entreaty, 'do not, do not give way to such thoughts. Heed not these lying
rumors. Trust in the magnanimity of Aurelian. We make the virtue we
believe in. Let it not reach his ears that you have doubted him. I can see
no reason why he should desire to disturb the harmony that has so long
reigned--and Aurelian is no madman. What could he gain by a warlike
expedition, which a few words could not gain? Noble Piso, if your great
emperor would but speak before he acts--if indeed any purpose like that
which is attributed to him has entered his mind--a world of evil, and
suffering, and crime, might possibly be saved. Zenobia, though ambitious,
is reasonable and patient, and will listen as becomes a philosopher, and
a lover of her people, to any thing he should say. It were a great act of
friendship to press upon him the policy, as well as the virtue of
moderation.'

Zenobia gave a mother's smile of love to her daughter, whose countenance,
while she uttered these few words, was brilliant with the beauty of
strong emotion.

'No act of friendship like this, lady,' said I, 'shall be wanting on my
part. If I have any influence over the mind of Aurelian, it shall be
exerted to serve the cause of peace. I have dear friends in Palmyra, and
this short residence among her people has bound me to them very closely.
It would grieve me sorely to feel that as a Roman and a lover of my
country, I must needs break these so lately knitted bonds of affection.
But, I am obliged to say it, I am now full of apprehension, lest no
efforts of mine, or of any, may have power to avert the calamities which
impend. The scene I was witness of but so few hours ago, seems to me now
to cut off all hope of an amicable adjustment,'

Julia's countenance fell. The air of pride in Zenobia mounted higher
and higher.

'And what was it I did?' said Zenobia. 'Do I not stand upon the records of
the Senate, Augusta of the Roman empire! Was not the late renowned
Odenatus, Augustus by the decree of that same Senate? And was I not then
right to call my own sons by their rightful title of Cæsar?--and invest
them with the appropriate robe, and even show them to the people as their
destined rulers? I am yet to learn that in aught I have offended against
any fair construction of the Roman law. And unless I may thus stand in
equal honor with other partners of this empire, asking and receiving
nothing as favor, I sever myself and my kingdom from it.'

'But,' said Julia, in her persuasive voice, whose very tones were enough
to change the harshest sentiment to music, 'why put at hazard the certain
good we now enjoy, the peace and prosperity of this fair realm, for what
at best is but a shadow--a name? What is it to you or me that Timolaus,
Herennianus, and Vabalathus be hailed by the pretty style of Cæsar? For
me at least, and so I think for all who love you, it is enough that they
are the sons of Zenobia. Who shall heap more upon that honor?'

'Julia,' replied the Queen, 'as the world deems--and we are in the world
and of it--honor and greatness lie not in those things which are truly
honorable and great; not in learning or genius, else were Longinus upon
this throne, and I his waiting woman; not in action--else were the great
Zabdas king; not in merit, else were many a dame of Palmyra where I am,
and I a patient household drudge. Birth, and station, and power, are
before these. Men bow before names, and sceptres, and robes of office,
lower than before the gods themselves. Nay, here in the East, power itself
were a shadow without its tinsel trappings. 'Tis vain to stand against the
world. I am one of the general herd. What they honor, I crave. This
coronet of pearl, this gorgeous robe, this golden chair, this human
footstool, in the eye of a severe judgment, may signify but little. Zeno
or Diogenes might smile upon them with contempt. But so thinks not the
world. It is no secret that in Timolaus, Herennianus and Vabalathus dwells
not the wisdom of Longinus, nor the virtue of Valerian. What then so
crazed the assembled people of Palmyra, but the purple-colored mantle of
the Roman Cæsar? I am for that fathoms deeper in the great heart of my
people. These are poor opinions, so thou judgest, Roman, for the pupil of
the chief philosopher of our age, and through him skilled in all the
learning of the Greeks. But forget not that I am an Oriental and--a woman.
This double nature works at my heart with more than all the power of the
schools. Who and what so strong as the divinity within?'

This is a poor record, my Curtius, of what fell from this extraordinary
woman. Would that I could set down the noble sentiments which, in the
midst of so much that I could not approve, came from her lips in a
language worthy of her great teacher! Would that I could transfer to my
pages the touching eloquence of the divine Julia, whose mind, I know not
how it is, moves in a higher world than ours. Sometimes, nay, many times,
her thoughts, strangely enough, raised up before me the image of the
Christian Probus, of whom I had till then scarcely thought since our
parting. For a long time was this interview continued--an interview to me
more stirring than any other of my life, and, owing to the part I was
obliged to take, almost painfully so. Much that I said could not but have
grated harshly upon the proud and ambitious spirit of Zenobia. But I
shrunk from nothing that in the least degree might tend to shake her in
the designs which now possess and agitate her, and which, as it seems to
me, cannot be carried out without great danger to the safety or existence
of her kingdom; though I cannot but say, that if a rupture should occur
between Palmyra and Rome, imprudence might indeed be charged upon
Zenobia, but guilt, deep guilt, would lie at the door of Aurelian. It was
a great aid that Julia, in all I said, was my ally. Her assent gave double
force to every argument I used; for Zenobia trusts her as a sister, I had
almost said, reveres her as a divinity. Beautiful it was to witness their
freedom and their love. The gods avert every calamity from their heads!

When we had in this manner, as I have said, a long time discoursed,
Zenobia, at length, rising from her seat, said to me, 'Now do we owe you
some fair return, noble Piso, for the patience with which you have
listened to our treasonable words. If it please you, accompany us now to
some other part of our palace, and it will be strange if we cannot find
something worthy of your regard.'

So saying, we bent our way in company, idly talking of such things as
offered, to a remote part of the vast building, passing through and
lingering here and there in many a richly-wrought hall and room, till,
turning suddenly into a saloon of Egyptian device, where we heard the
sound of voices, I found myself in the presence of Gracchus and Fausta,
Longinus and Zabdas, with a few others of the chief citizens of Palmyra. I
need not say how delighted I was. It was a meeting never to be forgotten.
But it was in the evening of this day, walking in the gardens of the
palace between Julia and Fausta, that I banqueted upon the purest pleasure
of my life.



Letter V.



You could not but suppose, my Curtius, when you came to the end of my last
letter, that I should soon write again, and not leave you ignorant of the
manner in which I passed the evening at the palace of Zenobia.
Accordingly, knowing that you would desire this, I had no sooner tied and
sealed my epistle, than I sat down to give you those minute recollections
of incident and of conversation in which you and Lucilia both so much
delight, and which indeed, in the present instance, are not unimportant in
their bearing upon my future lot. But this I shall leave to your own
conjectures. A tempest of rain makes me a necessary prisoner to the house,
but the pleasant duty of writing to you spreads sunshine on all within my
room. I trust in the gods that you are all well.

Of the banquet in that Egyptian hall, and its immediate attendant
circumstances, I need not tell you. It was like other feasts of ceremony,
where the niceties of form constantly obtrude themselves, and check too
much the flow of conversation. Then too one's mind is necessarily
distracted, where the feast is sumptuous, by the rarity of the dishes, the
richness of the service, and the pomp and stir of the attendance. Never
was it my fortune in Rome to recline at a table of more imperial splendor.
For Lucilia's sake I will just say, that the service was of solid gold,
most elaborately carved, and covered with designs illustrative of points
of the Egyptian annals. Our wine cups were also of gold, enriched with
precious stones; and for each kind of wine, a different cup, set with
jewels, typical of the character of the wine for which it was intended.
These were by the hand of Demetrius. It was in all respects a Roman meal,
in its fashions and conduct, though the table was spread with many
delicacies peculiar to the Orientals. The walls and ceiling of the room,
and the carpets, represented, in the colors of the most eminent Greek and
Persian artists, scenes of the life and reign of the great Queen of Egypt,
of whom Zenobia reckons herself a descendant. Cleopatra was all around,
above, and beneath. Music at intervals, as the repast drew toward a close,
streamed in from invisible performers, and added a last and crowning
charm. The conversation was light and sportful, taking once or twice only,
and accidentally, as it were, a political turn. These graceful Palmyrenes
act a winning part in all the high courtesies of life; and nothing could
be more perfect than their demeanor, free and frank, yet never forgetful
of the presence of Zenobia, nor even of me, a representative in some
manner of the majesty of Rome.

The moon, nearly at her full, was already shining bright in the heavens,
when we left the tables, and walking first for a time upon the cool
pavements of the porticos of the palace, then descended to the gardens,
and separating in groups, moved away at will among their endless windings.
Zenobia, as if desiring some private conference with her great teacher,
left us in company with Longinus. It was my good and happy fortune to find
myself in the society of Julia and Fausta, with whom I directed my steps
toward the remoter and more quiet parts of the garden--for nearer the
palace there were still to be heard the sounds of merriment, and of the
instruments furnishing a soft and delicious entertainment for such as
chose to remain longer in the palace. Of the rest of the company, some
like ourselves wandered among the labyrinthian walks of this vast
pleasure-ground, while others, already weary, or satisfied with enjoyment,
returned early to their homes.

The evening, shall I say it, was worthy of the company now, abroad to
enjoy it. A gentle breeze just swayed the huge leaves of the--to
me--strange plants which overhung the paths, and came, as it here always
seems to come, laden with a sweetness which in Rome it never has, unless
added by the hand of art. Dian's face shone never before so fair and
bright, and her light, coming to us at frequent turns in our walk, through
the spray of numerous fountains, caused them to show like falling
diamonds. A divine repose breathed over the whole scene, I am sure our
souls were in harmony with it.

'Princess,' said I, 'the gardens of Nero can have presented no scenes more
beautiful than these. He who designed these avenues, and groups of flowers
and trees, these frequent statues and fountains, bowers and mimic temples,
and made them bear to each other these perfect proportions and relations,
had no less knowledge, methinks, of the true principles of taste, and of
the very secrets of beauty, than the great Longinus himself. The beauty is
so rare, that it affects the mind almost like greatness itself. In truth,
in perfect beauty there is always that which overawes.'

'I cannot say,' replied Julia, 'that the learned Greek was the architect
and designer of these various forms of beauty. The credit, I believe, is
rather due to Periander, a native Athenian, a man, it is universally
conceded, of the highest genius. Yet it is at the same time to be said,
that the mind of Longinus presided over the whole. And he took not less
delight in ordering the arrangements of these gardens, than he did in
composing that great treatise, not long published, and which you must have
seen before you left Rome. He is a man of universal powers. You have not
failed to observe his grace, not less than his abilities, while we were at
the tables. You have seen that he can play the part of one who would win
the regards of two foolish girls, as well as that of first minister of a
great kingdom, or that of the chief living representative and teacher of
the philosophy of the immortal Plato.'

'For myself,' I replied, 'I could hardly withdraw myself from the simple
admiration of his noble head and form, to attend, so as to judge of it, to
what fell from his lips. It seems to me that if a sculptor of his own
Greece sought for a model of the human figure, he could hope to find none
so perfect as that of Longinus.'

'That makes it the foolisher and stranger,' said Fausta, 'that he should
toil at his toilet as he so manifestly does. Why can he not rely, for his
power over both men and women, upon his genius, and his natural graces. It
might be well enough for the Stagyrite to deck his little person in fine
clothes, and to cover his fingers with rings--for I believe there must be
something in the outward appearance to strike the mere sensual eye, and
please it, either natural or assumed, or else even philosophers might go
unheeded. I doubt if upon my fingers there be more or more glowing rings
than upon those of Longinus. To be sure, one must admit that his taste is
exquisite.'

'In the manners and dress of Longinus,' said I, 'as well as in those of
Aristotle, we behold, I think, simply the power of custom. They were both,
in respect to such things, in a state of indifference--the true
philosophical state. But what happened? Both became instructors and
companions of princes, and the inmates of royal palaces. Their manners and
costume were left, without a thought, I will dare to say, on their part,
to conform themselves to what was around them. Would it not have been a
more glaring piece of vanity, if in the palace of Philip, Aristotle had
clothed himself in the garb of Diogenes--or if Longinus, in the presence
of the great Zenobia, had appeared in the sordid attire of Timon?'

'I think so,' said Julia.

'Your explanation is a very probable one,' added Fausta, 'and had not
occurred to me. It is true, the courts may have dressed them and not
themselves, But never, I still must think, did a rich dress fall upon more
willing shoulders than upon those of the Greek, always excepting, Julia,
Paul of Antioch.'

'Ah, Fausta,' said Julia, 'you cannot, do what you will, shake my faith in
Paul. If I allow him vain, and luxurious, and haughty, I can still
separate the advocate from the cause. You would not condemn the doctrine
of Aristotle, on the ground that he wore rings. Nor can I altogether, nor
in part, that of Paul, because he rolls through the city in a gilded
chariot, with the attendance of a prince. I may blame or despise him--but
not therefore reject his teaching. That has a defence independent of him.
Policy, and necessity of time and place, have compelled him to much which
his reason disapproves. This he has given me to believe, and has conjured
me on this, as on all subjects, to yield my mind only to evidence, apart
from all personal considerations. But I did not mean to turn our
conversation in this direction. Here, Piso, have we now arrived in our
walk at my favorite retreat. This is my bower for meditation, and
frequently for reading too. Let us take this seat. Observe how through
these openings we catch some of the prominent points of the city. There is
the obelisk of Cleopatra; there the tower of Antonine', there the Egyptian
Pyramid; and there a column going up in honor of Aurelian; and in this
direction, the whole outline of the palace.'

'Yet are we at the same time shut out from all the world,' said I. 'Your
hours must fly swiftly here. But are your musings always solitary ones?'

'O no--I am not so craving as that of my own society: sometimes I am
joined by my mother, and not seldom by my sweet Fausta here,' said she, at
the same time affectionately drawing Fausta's arm within her own, and
clasping her hand; 'we do not agree, indeed, upon all the subjects which
we discuss, but we still agree in our love.'

'Indeed we do, and may the gods make it perpetual; may death only divide
us!' said Fausta with fervor.

'And may the divinity who sits supreme above,' said Julia, 'grant that
over that, not even death shall have power. If any thing makes existence
valuable, it is love. If I should define my happiness, I should say it in
one word, Love. Without Zenobia, what should I be? I cannot conceive of
existence, deprived of her, or of her regard. Loving her, and Fausta, and
Longinus, as I do--not to forget Livia and the dear Faustula--and beloved
of all in return--and my happiness scarcely seems to admit of addition.'

'With what pain,' said I, 'does one contemplate the mere possibility that
affections such as these are to last only for the few years which make up
the sum of human life. Must I believe, must you believe, that all this
fair scene is to end forever at death? That you, bound to each other by so
many ties, are to be separated, and both of you to be divided from
Zenobia, and all of us to fall into nothingness, silence, and darkness?
Rather than that, would that the life we now enjoy might be immortal! Here
are beautiful objects, among which one might be willing to live forever. I
am never weary of the moon and her soft light, nor of the balmy air, nor
of the bright greens of the herbage, nor of the forms of plain and
mountain, nor of the human beings, infinite in the varieties of their
character, who surround me wherever I go. Here now have I wandered far
from my home, yet in what society and in what scenes do I find myself! The
same heaven is above me, the same forms of vegetable life around me? and
what is more, friends already dear as those I have left behind. In this
very spot, were it but as an humble attendant upon the greatness of the
Queen, could I be content to dwell.'

'Truly, I think you might,' cried Fausta; 'having chosen for yourself so
elysian a spot, and filled it with such inhabitants, it is no great proof
of a contented spirit that you should love to inhabit it. But how many
such spots does the world present?--and how many such inhabitants? The
question I think is, would you be ready to accept the common lot of man as
an immortal one? I can easily believe that many, were they seated in these
gardens, and waited on by attendant slaves, and their whole being made
soft and tranquil, and exempt from care and fear, would say, 'Ensure me
this, and I ask no more.' For myself, indeed, I must say it would not be
so. I think not even the lot of Zenobia, enthroned as she is in the hearts
of millions, nor yet thine, Julia, beloved not less than Zenobia, would
satisfy me. I have now all that my utmost desires crave. Yet is there a
part of me, I know not what it is, nor where it is, that is not full. I
confess myself restless and unsatisfied. No object, no study, no pursuit,
no friendship--forgive me, Julia,'--and she kissed her hand,--'no
friendship even, satisfies and fills me.'

'I do not wonder,' said Julia.

'But how much unhappiness is there spread over the earth,' continued
Fausta: 'I, and you, and Piso perhaps too, are in a state of
dissatisfaction. And yet we are perched, as it were, upon the loftiest
heights of existence. How must it be with those who are so far inferior to
us as multitudes are in their means of happiness? From how many ills are
we shielded, which rain down sharp-pointed, like the hail storms of
winter, upon the undefended heads of the poor and low? They, Piso, would
not, I think, pray that their lot might be immortal.'

'Indeed I think not,' said I. 'Yet, perhaps, their lot is not so much
more miserable than yours, as the difference in outward condition might
lead one to think. Remember, the slave and the poor do not feel as you
would, suddenly reduced to their state. The Arab enjoys his sleep upon
his tent floor as well as you, Princess, beneath a canopy of woven gold,
and his frugal meal of date or pulse tastes as sweet, as to you do
dainties fetched from Rome, or fished from the Indian seas: and eating
and sleeping make up much of life. Then the hearts of the great are
corroded by cares and solicitudes which never visit the humble. Still, I
do not deny that their condition is not far less enviable than ours. The
slave who may be lashed, and tormented, and killed at his master's
pleasure, drinks from a cup of which we never so much as taste. But over
the whole of life, and throughout every condition of it, there are
scattered evils and sorrows which pierce every heart with pain. I look
upon all conditions as in part evil. It is only by selecting
circumstances, and excluding ills which are the lot of all, that I could
ask to live forever, even in the gardens of Zenobia.'

'I do not think we differ much then,' said Fausta, 'in what we think of
human life. I hold the highest lot to be unsatisfying. You admit all are
so, but have shown me that there is a nearer approach to an equality of
happiness than I had supposed, though evil weighs upon all. How the mind
longs and struggles to penetrate the mysteries of its being! How imperfect
and without aim does life seem! Every thing beside man seems to reach its
utmost perfection. Man alone appears a thing incomplete and faulty.'

'And what,' said I, 'would make him appear to you a thing perfect and
complete' What change should you suggest?'

'That which rather may be called an addition,' replied Fausta, 'and which,
if I err not, all wise and good men desire, the assurance of immortality.
Nothing is sweet; every cup is bitter; that which we are this moment
drinking from, bitterest of all, without this. Of this I incessantly think
and dream, and am still tossed in a sea of doubt.'

'You have read Plato?' said I.

'Yes, truly,' she replied; 'but I found little there to satisfy me, I have
enjoyed too the frequent conversation of Longinus, and yet it is the same.
Would that he were now here! The hour is serene, and the air which comes
in so gently from the West, such as he loves.'

As Fausta uttered these words, our eyes at the same moment caught the
forms of Zenobia and Longinus, as they emerged from a walk very near, but
made dark by overhanging and embowering roses. We immediately advanced
toward them, and begged them to join us.

'We are conversing,' said Julia, 'upon such things as you both love.
Come and sit now with us, and let us know what you can say upon the
same themes.'

'We will sit with you gladly,' said the Queen; 'at least for myself I may
say it, for I am sure that with you I shall find some other subjects
discussed beside perplexing affairs of state. When alone with
Longinus--as but now--our topic is ever the same.'

'If the subject of our discourse, however, be ever the same,' said the
Greek, 'we have this satisfaction in reflecting upon it, that it is one
that in its nature is real and tangible. The well-being of a nation is
not an undefined and shadowy topic, like so many of those which occupy
the time and thoughts of even the wise. I too, however, shall gladly
bear a part in whatever theme may engross the thoughts of Julia, Fausta,
and Piso.'

With these words, we returned to the seats we had left, which were not
within the arbor of Julia, but were the marble steps which led to it.
There we placed ourselves, one above and one beside another, as
happened--Zenobia sitting between Fausta and Julia, I at the feet of Julia,
and Longinus on the same step with myself, and next to Fausta. I could
hardly believe that Zenobia was now the same person before whom I had in
the morning, with no little agitation, prostrated myself, after the manner
of the Persian ceremonial. She seemed rather like a friend whom I both
loved and revered. The majesty of the Queen was gone; there remained only
the native dignity of beauty, and goodness, and intellect, which, though
it inspires reverence, yet is there nothing slavish in the feeling. It
differs in degree only from that sentiment which we entertain toward the
gods; it raises rather than depresses.

'We were speaking,' said Julia, resuming the subject which had engaged us,
'of life and of man--how unsatisfactory life is, and how imperfect and
unfinished, as it were, man; and we agreed, I believe, in the opinion,
that there can be no true happiness, without a certain assurance of
immortality, and this we are without.'

'I agree with you,' said Longinus, 'in all that you can have expressed
concerning the unsatisfactoriness of life, regarded as a finite existence,
and concerning the want of harmony there is between man and the other
works of God, if he is mortal; and in this also, that without the
assurance of immortality, there can, to the thinking mind, be no true
felicity. I only wonder that on the last point there should exist in the
mind of any one of you doubts so serious as to give you much disturbance.
I cannot, indeed, feel so secure of a future and then unending existence,
as I am sure that I live now. What I am now I know; concerning the future,
I can only believe, and belief can never possess the certainty of
knowledge. Still, of a future life I entertain no doubts that distress me.
My belief in it is as clear and strong as I can well conceive belief in
things invisible and unexperienced to be. It is such as makes me happy in
any thought or prospect of death. Without it, and life would appear to me
like nothing more to be esteemed than a short, and often troubled or
terrific dream.'

'So I confess it seems to me,' said Fausta. 'How should I bless the gods,
if upon my mind there could rest a conviction of immortality strong like
yours! The very certainty with which you speak, seems, through the power
of sympathy, to have scattered some of my doubts. But, alas! they will
soon return.'

'In what you have now said,' replied Longinus, 'and in the feeling you
have expressed on this point, do I found one of the strongest arguments
for the immortality of the soul.'

'I do not comprehend you,' said Fausta.

'Do you not, Fausta,' asked Longinus, 'intensely desire a life
after death?'

'I do indeed. I have just expressed it.'

'And do not you too, Zenobia, and Piso, and Julia?'

'Surely, and with intensity,' we answered; 'the question need scarce
be asked.'

'I believe you,' resumed Longinus. 'You all earnestly desire an immortal
life--you perpetually dwell upon the thought of it, and long for it. Is
it not so with all who reflect at all upon themselves? Are there any
such, have there ever been any, who have not been possessed by the same
thoughts and desires, and who, having been greatly comforted and
supported by them during life, have not at death relied upon them, and
looked with some degree of confidence toward a coming forth again from
death? Now I think it is far more reasonable to believe in another life,
than in the delusiveness of these expectations. For I cannot suppose
that this universal expectation will be disappointed, without believing
in the wickedness, nay, the infinite malignity, of the Supreme Ruler,
which my whole nature utterly refuses to do. For what more cruel, than
to create this earnest and universal longing, and not gratify it? Does
it not seem so?'

We all admitted it.

'This instinctive desire,' continued Longinus, 'I cannot but regard as
being implanted by the Being who created us. It can proceed from no other.
It is an instinct, that is, a suggestion or inspiration of God. If it
could be shown to be a consequence of education, we might refer it for its
origin to ingenious philosophers. But it exists where the light of
philosophy has never shone. There have been none, of whom history has
preserved even obscurest traditions, who have wanted this instinct. It is
then the very inspiration of the Divinity, and will not be disappointed. I
trust much to these tendencies of our nature. This is the best ground for
our belief of a God. The arguments of the schools have never succeeded in
establishing the truth, even to the conviction of a philosophic mind, much
less a common one. Yet the truth is universally admitted. God, I think,
has provided for so important an article of faith in the structure of our
minds. He has not left it to chance or special Revelation. So, too, the
determinations of the mind concerning virtue and vice, right and wrong,
being for the most part so accordant throughout the whole race--these also
I hold to be instinctive.'

'I can think of nothing,' said Fausta, 'to urge against your argument. It
adds some strength, I cannot but confess, to what belief I had before. I
trust you have yet more that you can impart. Do not fear that we shall be
dull listeners.'

'I sit here a willing and patient learner,' said Zenobia, 'of any one who
will pour new light into my mind. Go on, Longinus.'

'To such a school,' said he, 'how can I refuse to speak? Let me ask you
then, if you have never been perplexed by the evils of life, such as
either you have yourselves experienced, or such as you have witnessed?'

'I have, indeed,' said Fausta, 'and have deeply deplored them. But how
are they connected with a future existence?'

'Thus,' replied Longinus. 'As in the last case, the benevolence of the
Supreme God cannot be sustained without the admission of the reality of a
future life. Nor only that, but it seems to me direct proof may be adduced
from the existence and universality of these evils to establish the
blackest malignity. So that to me, belief in a future existence is in
proportion to the difficulty of admitting the idea of divine malignity,
and it cannot therefore be much stronger than it is.'

'How can you make that clear to us?' said Fausta; 'I should truly rejoice
if out of the evils which so darken the earth, any thing good or beautiful
could be drawn.'

'As this dark mould,' rejoined the philosopher, 'sends upwards, and out of
its very heart, this rare Persian rose, so does hope grow out of evil, and
the darker the evil the brighter the hope, as from a richer and fouler
soil comes the more vigorous plant and larger flower. Take a particular
evil, and consider it. You remember the sad tale concerning the Christian
Probus, which Piso, in recounting the incidents of his journey from Rome
to Palmyra, related to us while seated at the tables?'

'Indeed, I did not hear it,' said Zenobia; 'so that Piso must, if he will,
repeat it.'

'We shall willingly hear it again,' said Julia and Fausta.

And I then related it again.

'Now do you wonder,' resumed Longinus, when I had finished, 'that Probus,
when, one after another, four children were ravished from his arms by
death, and then, as if to crown his lot with evil, his wife followed them,
and he was left alone in the world, bereaved of every object to which his
heart was most fondly attached, do you wonder, I say, that he turned to
the heavens and cursed the gods? And can you justify the gods so that they
shall not be chargeable with blackest malignity, if there be no future and
immortal state? What is it to bind so the heart of a parent to a child, to
give that affection a force and a tenderness which belong to no other tie,
so that anxieties for its life and welfare, and cares and sacrifices for
its good, constitute the very existence of the parent, what is it to
foster by so many contrivances this love, and then forever disappoint and
blast it, but malignity? Yet this work is done every hour, and in almost
every heart; if for children we lament not, yet we do for others as dear.'

Tears to the memory of Odenatus fell fast from the eyes of Zenobia.

'Are we not then,'--continued Longinus, without pausing--'are we not then
presented with this alternative, either the Supreme God is a malignant
being, whose pleasure it is to torment, or, there is an immortal state,
where we shall meet again with those, who, for inscrutable purposes, have
been torn from our arms here below? And who can hesitate in which to rest?
The belief, therefore, in a future life ought to be in proportion to the
difficulty of admitting the idea of divine malignity. And this idea is so
repulsive--so impossible to be entertained for one moment--that the other
cannot, it seems to me, rest upon a firmer foundation.'

'Every word you speak,' said Zenobia, 'yields pleasure and instruction. It
delights me, even when thickest beset by the cares of state, to pause and
contemplate for a moment the prospects of futurity. It diffuses a divine
calm throughout the soul. You have given me new food for my thoughts.'

'I will add,' said Longinus, 'only one thing to what I have said, and
that is, concerning the incompleteness of man, as a divine work, and
which has been mentioned by Fausta. Is not this an argument for a future
life? Other things and beings are finished and complete--man only is
left, as it were, half made up. A tree grows and bears fruit, and the end
of its creation is answered. A complete circle is run. It is the same
with the animals. No one expects more from a lion or a horse than is
found in both. But with man it is not so. In no period of history, and
among no people, has it been satisfactorily determined what man is, or
what are the limits of his capacity and being. He is full of
contradictions, and of incomprehensible organization, if he is considered
only in relation to this world. For while every other affection finds and
rests in its appropriate object, which fully satisfies and fills it, the
desire of unlimited improvement and of endless life--the strongest and
best defined of any of the desires--this alone is answered by no
corresponding object: which is not different from what it would be, if
the gods should create a race like ours, having the same craving and
necessity for food and drink, yet never provide for them the one nor the
other, but leave them all to die of hunger. Unless there is a future
life, we all die of a worse hunger. Unless there is a future life, man is
a monster in creation--compared with other things, an abortion--and in
himself, and compared with himself, an enigma--a riddle--which no human
wit has ever solved, nor can ever hope to solve.'

'This seems unanswerable,' said Fausta; 'yet is it no objection to all
such arguments, which we ourselves construct, that the thing they
establish is too great and good almost to be believed, without some divine
warrant? It does to me appear almost or quite presumptuous to think, that
for me there is by the gods prepared a world of never-fading light, and a
never-ending joy.'

'When,' replied the Greek, 'we look at the lower forms of man which fall
under our observation, I confess that the objection which you urge strikes
me with some force. But when I think that it is for beings like you to
whom I speak, for whom another and fairer world is to be prepared, it
loses again much of its force. And when I think of the great and good of
other times, of Homer and Hesiod, of Phidias and Praxiteles, of Socrates
and Plato, and of what the mind of man has in them, and in others as great
and good, accomplished, the objection which you urge loses all its force.
I see and feel that man has been made not altogether unworthy of a longer
life and a happier lot than earth affords. And in regard to the ignorant,
the low, and the almost or quite savage, we are to consider that the same
powers and affections are in them as in us, and that their inferiority to
us is not intrinsic and essential, but as it were accidental. The
difference between the soul of Plato and yonder Ethiopian slave is not in
any original faculty or power; the slave here equals the philosopher; but
in this, that the faculties and powers of Plato were strengthened, and
nurtured, and polished, by the hand of education, and the happy influences
of a more civilized community, all which to the slave has been wanting. He
is a diamond just as it comes from the mine; Plato like that one set in
gold, which sparkles with the radiance of a star, Fausta, upon your
finger. But, surely, the glory of the diamond is, that it is a diamond;
not that Demetrius has polished and set it. Man has within him so much of
the god, that I do not wonder he has been so often deified. The great and
excellent among men, therefore, I think not unworthy of immortality, for
what they are; the humble and the bad, for what they may so easily become,
and might have been, under circumstances but slightly altered.'

'I cannot,' said Julia, as Longinus closed, 'deny strength and
plausibility to your arguments, but I cannot admit that they satisfy me.
After the most elaborate reasoning, I am still left in darkness. No power
nor wit of man has ever wholly scattered the mists which rest upon life
and death. I confess, with Socrates, that I want a promise or a revelation
to enable me to take the voyage of life in a spirit of cheerfulness, and
without the fear of fatal shipwreck. If your reasonings, Longinus, were
only accompanied with authority more than that of man, if I could only
believe that the Divinity inspired you, I could then rest contented and
happy. One word authoritatively declaring man's immortality, a word which
by infallible token I could know to be a word from the Supreme, would to
me be worth infinitely more than all the conjectures, hopes, and
reasonings of all the philosophers. I fully agree with you, that the
instincts of our nature all point both to a God and to immortality. But
the heart longs for something more sure and clear, at least my woman's
heart does. It may be that it is the woman within me which prompts the
feeling--but I wish to lean upon authority in this great matter. I wish to
repose calmly in a divine assurance.'

'In that, Princess,' I could not help saying, 'I am a woman too. I have
long since lost all that regard for the gods in which I was so carefully
nourished. I despise the popular superstitions. Yet is there nothing
which I have found as yet to supply their place. I have searched the
writings of Plato, of Cicero, of Seneca, in vain. I find there, indeed,
wisdom, and learning, and sagacity, almost more than human. But I find
nothing which can be dignified by the name of religion. Their systems of
morals are admirable, and sufficient perhaps to enable one to live a
happy or fortunate life. But concerning the soul of man, and its destiny,
they are dumb, or their words, if they utter any, are but the dark
speeches of an oracle.'

'I am happy that I am not alone,' said Julia; 'and I cannot but think that
many, very many, are with me. I am sure that what most persons, perhaps,
who think and feel upon those subjects, want, is some divine promise or
revelation. Common minds, Longinus, cannot appreciate the subtlety of
your reasonings, much less those of the Phædo. And, besides, the cares
and labors of life do not allow time to engage in such inquiries, even if
we supposed all men to have capacity for them. Is it not necessary that
truths relating to the soul and futurity should rest upon authority, if
any or many beside philosophers are to embrace them? And surely, if the
poor and ignorant are immortal, it is as needful for them, as for us, to
know it. It is, I conceive, on this account, that the religion of the
Christians has spread so rapidly. It meets our nature. It supplies
authority. It professes to bring annunciations from Heaven of man's
immortality.'

'It is for that reason,' replied Longinus, 'I cannot esteem it. The very
term revelation offends. The right application of reason effects all, it
seems to me, that what is called revelation can. It perfectly satisfies
the philosopher, and as for common minds, instinct is an equally
sufficient guide and light.'

'I cannot but judge you, Longinus,' said Julia, 'wanting in a true
fellow-feeling for your kind, notwithstanding all you have said concerning
the nature and powers of man. How is it that you can desire that mankind
should remain any longer under the dominion of the same gross and
pernicious errors that have for so many ages oppressed them! Only consider
the horrors of an idolatrous religion in Egypt and Assyria, in Greece and
in Rome--and do you not desire their extermination?--and what prospect of
this can there be, but through the plain authoritative language of a
revelation?'

'I certainly desire with you,' replied Longinus, 'the extermination of
error, and the overthrow of horrible and corrupting superstitions; and of
nothing am I more sure than that the reason of man, in unfolding and
constantly improving ages, will effect it. A plain voice from Heaven,
announcing important truth, might perhaps hasten the work. But this voice,
as thought to be heard in Christianity, is not a plain voice, nor clearly
known to be a voice from Heaven. Here is the Bishop of Antioch set upon by
the Bishops of Alexandria and Cesarea, and many others, as I learn, who
accuse him of wrongly receiving and falsely teaching the doctrines of
Christ; and for two hundred years has there prevailed the like uncertainty
about the essence of the religion.'

'I look not with much hope to Christianity,' said Fausta. 'Yet I must
first inform myself more exactly concerning it, before I judge.'

'That is spoken like Fausta,' said Julia; 'and it is much for you to
say who dislike so heartily that Paul, whom I am constantly wishing
you to hear.'

'Whenever he shall lay aside a little of his pomp, I may be willing to
listen,' replied Fausta; 'but I could ill brook a discourse upon
immortality from one whose soul seems so wedded to time.'

'Well,' said Julia, 'but let us not be drawn away from our subject. I
admit that there are disputes among the Christians, but, like the disputes
among philosophers, they are about secondary matters. There is no dispute
concerning the great and chiefly interesting part of the religion--its
revelation of a future life Christians have never divided here, nor on
another great point, that Christ, the founder of the religion, was a true
messenger from God. The voice of Christianity on both these points is a
clear one. Thus, I think, every one will judge, who, as I have done, will
read the writings in which the religion is found. And I am persuaded it is
because it is so plain a voice here, that it is bidding fair to supersede
every other form of religion. And that it is a voice from God, is, it
seems to me, made out with as much clearness as we could look for. That
Christ, the author of this religion, was a messenger from God, was shown
by his miracles. How could it be shown otherwise? I can conceive of no
other way in which so satisfying proof could be given of the agency and
authority of God. And certainly there is evidence enough, if history is to
be believed, that he wrought many and stupendous miracles.'

'What is a miracle?' asked Longinus.

'It is that,' replied Julia, 'which being done or said, furnishes
satisfactory proof of the present interposing power of God. A man who, by
a word spoken, can heal sick persons, and raise to life dead ones, can be
no other than a messenger of God!'

'Why not of some other superior being--perhaps a bad one?'

'The character, teaching, objects, acts of Christ, make it unlikely, if
not impossible, that he should have been sent by any bad intelligence. And
that he came not only from a good being, but from God, we may believe on
his own word.'

'His goodness may have been all assumed. The whole may be a deception.'

'Men do not sacrifice their lives merely to deceive, to play a child's
game before the world. Christ died to show his attachment to his cause,
and with him innumerable others. Would they have done this merely to
impose upon mankind? And for what purpose?--for that of teaching a
religion inculcating the loftiest virtue! But I do not set myself forward
as a champion of this new religion,' continued Julia, plainly disturbed
lest she might have seemed too earnest. 'Would that you, Longinus, could
be persuaded to search into its claims. If you would but read the books
written by the founders of it, I am sure you would say this at least, that
such books were never written before, nor such a character portrayed as
that of Jesus Christ. You who profess yourself charmed with the poetry of
the Jewish Scriptures, and the grandeur of the sentiments expressed in
them, would not be less impressed by the gentler majesty, the mild, sweet
dignity of the person and doctrine of Christ. And if the reasonings of
Socrates and Plato have any power to convince you of the immortality of
the soul, how must you be moved by the simple announcements of the truth
by the Nazarene, and above all by his resurrection from the dead!
Christianity boasts already powerful advocates, but I wish it could say
that its character and claims had been examined by the great Longinus.'

The soft yet earnest, eloquent tones of Julia's voice fell upon pleased
and willing ears. The countenance of the Greek glowed with a generous
satisfaction, as he listened to the reasoning of his fair pupil, poured
forth in that noble tongue it had been his task and his happiness to teach
her. Evidently desirous, however, not to prolong the conversation, he
addressed himself to the Queen.

'You are pleased,' said he, 'you must be, with the aptness of my scholar.
Julia has not studied dialectics in vain. Before I can feel myself able to
contend with her, I must study the books she has commended so--from which,
I must acknowledge, I have been repelled by a prejudice, I believe, rather
than any thing else, or more worthy--and then, perhaps, I may agree in
opinion with her.'

'In truth,' said Zenobia, 'Julia is almost or quite a Christian. I knew
not, daughter, that Paul had made such progress in his work. But all have
my full consent to cherish such form of religious faith as most approves
itself to their own minds. I find my highest satisfaction in Moses and the
prophets. Happy shall I be if Julia find as much, or more, in Christ and
his apostles. Sure am I, there is no beneficent power nor charm in the
religions of Greece, or Rome, or Persia, or Egypt, to cause any of us to
adhere to them, though our very infancy were instructed in their
doctrines.'

'It is not, I assure you,' said Julia, 'to Paul of Antioch that I owe such
faith in Christ as I have, but to the Christian books themselves; or if to
any human authority besides, to St. Thomas, the old hermit of the
mountain, to whom I would that every one should resort who would draw near
to the purest living fountain of Christian knowledge.'

'I trust,' said I, 'that at some future time I may, with your guidance, or
through your influence, gain admittance to this aged professor of the
Christian faith. I confess myself now, since what I have heard, a seeker
after Christian knowledge.'

'Gladly shall I take you there,' replied the princess, 'and gladly will
St. Thomas receive you.'

We now at the same time rose from our seats. Zenobia, taking the hand of
Fausta, walked toward the palace; Longinus, with folded arms, and as if
absorbed by the thoughts which were passing through his mind, began to
pace to and fro beneath the thick shadows of a group of orange trees. I
was left with Julia.

'Princess,' said I, 'it is yet early, and the beauty of the evening makes
it wrong to shut ourselves up from the sight of so fair a scene: shall we
follow farther some of these inviting paths?'

'Nothing can be more pleasant,' said she; 'these are my favorite haunts,
and I never am weary of them, and never did they seem to me to wear a more
lovely aspect than now. Let me be your guide, and I will lead you by a
winding way to Zenobia's Temple, as we call it, for the reason that it is
her chosen retreat, as the arbor which we have now left is mine.'

So we began to walk toward the spot of which she spoke. We were for
some time silent. At length the princess said, 'Roman, you have now
seen Zenobia, both as a queen and a woman. Has fame done her more
than justice?'

'Great as her reputation is in Rome,' I replied, 'fame has not, to my ear
at least, brought any thing that more than distantly approaches a true and
faithful picture of her. We have heard much indeed--and yet not enough--of
her surpassing beauty, of the vigor of her understanding, of her vast
acquirements in the Greek learning, of the wisdom and energy of her
conduct as a sovereign queen, of her skill in the chase, of her bravery
and martial bearing, when, at the head of her troops, she leads them to
the charge. But of this union of feminine loveliness with so much of
masculine power, of this womanly grace, of this winning condescension,--so
that it loses all the air of condescension,--to those even much beneath
her in every human accomplishment as well as in rank, of this I had heard
nothing, and for this I was not prepared. When, in the morning, I first
saw her seated in all the pride of oriental state, and found myself
prostrate at her feet, it was only Zenobia that I saw, and I saw what I
expected. But no sooner had she spoken, especially no sooner had she cast
that look upon you, princess, when you had said a few words in reply to
me, than I saw not Zenobia only, but the woman and the mother. A veil was
suddenly lifted, and a new being stood before me. It seemed to me that
moment, that I knew her better than I know myself. I am sure that I know
her. Her countenance all living with emotion, changing and working with
every thought of her mind and every feeling of her heart, reveals her with
the truth of a magic mirror. She is not known at Rome.'

'I am sorry for it,' said Julia; 'if they only knew her, they could never
do her harm. You, Piso, may perhaps do much for her. I perceive, already,
that she highly regards you, and values your opinion. If you are willing
to do us such service, if you feel interest enough in our fate, speak to
her, I pray you, with plainness, all that you think. Withhold nothing.
Fear not to utter what you may deem to be most unpalatable truths. She is
candid and generous as she is ambitious. She will at least hear and weigh
whatever you may advance. God grant, that truth may reach her mind, and
reaching, sway it!'

'I can now think of no higher satisfaction,' I replied, 'than to do all I
may, as a Roman, in your service. I love your nation; and as a Roman and
a man, I desire its welfare and permanent glory. Its existence is
necessary to Rome; its ruin or decay must be, viewed aright, but so much
injury to her most vital interests. Strange, how strange, that Zenobia,
formed by the gods to draw her happiness from sources so much nobler than
any which ambition can supply, should turn from them, and seek for it in
the same shallow pool with Alexander, and Aurelian, and the hireling
soldier of fortune!'

'Strange indeed,' said Julia, 'that she who can enter with Longinus into
the deepest mysteries of philosophy, and whose mind is stored with all the
learning of the schools, should still love the pomp of power better than
all. And Fausta is but her second self. Fausta worships Zenobia, and
Zenobia is encouraged in her opinions by the kindred sentiments of that
bright spirit. All the influence, Piso, which you can exert over Fausta
will reach Zenobia.'

'It seems presumptuous, princess,' said I, 'to seek to draw the minds of
two such beings as Zenobia and Fausta to our bent. Yet surely they are in
the wrong.'

'It is something,' quickly added the princess, 'that Longinus is of our
mind; but then again Zabdas and Gracchus are a host on the other part. And
all the power and pride of Palmyra are with them too. But change Zenobia,
and we change all. O how weary am I of ambition, and how sick of
greatness! Willingly would I exchange all this for an Arab's tent, or a
hermit's cell,'

'The gods grant that may never be,' I replied; 'but that you, princess,
may yet live to sit upon the throne of Zenobia.'

'I say it with sincerity, Roman--that prayer finds no echo in my bosom, I
have seen enough of power, and of the honors that wait upon it. And when I
say this, having had before my eyes this beautiful vision of Zenobia
reigning over subjects as a mother would reign over her family, dealing
justly with all, and living but to make others happy--you must believe me.
I seek and love a calmer, humbler lot. This, Piso, is the temple of
Zenobia. Let us enter.'

We approached and entered. It was a small building, after the model of the
temple of Vesta at Tibur, constructed of the most beautiful marbles, and
adorned with statues. Within were the seats on which the Queen was
accustomed to recline, and an ample table, covered with her favorite
authors, and the materials of writing.

'It is here,' said Julia, 'that, seated with my mother, we listen to the
eloquence of Longinus, while he unfolds the beauties of the Greek or
Roman learning; or, together with him, read the most famous works of
former ages. With Homer, Thucydides, and Sophocles for our companions, we
have here passed precious hours and days, and have the while happily
forgotten the heavy burden of a nation's cares. I have forgotten them;
not so Zenobia. They are her life, and from all we have read would she
ever draw somewhat that should be of service to her in the duties of her
great office,'

Returning to the surrounding portico, we stood and for a time enjoyed in
silence the calm beauty of the scene.

As we stood thus,--Julia gazing upon the objects around us, or lost in
thought, I must I say it? seeing scarce any thing but her, and thinking
only of her--as we stood thus, shouts of merry laughter came to us, borne
upon the breeze, and roused us from our reverie.

'These sounds,' said I,' cannot come from the palace; it is too far,
unless these winding walks have deceived me.'

'They are the voices,' said Julia, 'I am almost sure, of Livia and
Faustula, and the young Cæsars. They seem to be engaged in some sport near
the palace. Shall we join them?'

'Let us do so,' said I.

So we moved toward that quarter of the gardens whence the sounds
proceeded. A high wall at length separated us from those whom we sought.
But reaching a gate, we passed through and entered upon a lawn covered as
it seemed with children, slaves, and the various inmates of the palace.
Here, mingled among the motley company, we at once perceived the Queen,
and Longinus and Fausta, together with many of those whom we had sat with
at the banquet. The centre of attraction, and the cause of the loud shouts
of laughter which continually arose, was a small white elephant with
which the young princes and princesses were amusing themselves. He had
evidently been trained to the part he had to perform, for nothing could be
more expert than the manner in which he went through his various tricks.
Sometimes he chased them and pretended difficulty in overtaking them; then
he would affect to stumble, and so fall and roll upon the ground; then
springing quickly upon his feet, he would surprise some one or other
lurking near him, and seizing him with his trunk would hold him fast, or
first whirling him in the air, then seat him upon his back, and march
gravely round the lawn, the rest following and shouting; then releasing
his prisoner, he would lay himself upon the ground, while all together
would fearlessly climb upon his back, till it was covered, when he would
either suddenly shake his huge body, so that one after another they rolled
off, or he would attempt to rise slowly upon his legs, in doing which,
nearly all would slip from off his slanting back, and only two or three
succeed in keeping their places. And other sportive tricks, more than it
would be worth while for me to recount, did he perform for the amusement
of his play-fellows. And beautiful was it to see the carefulness with
which he trod and moved, lest any harm might come to those children. His
especial favorite was the little flaxen-haired Faustula. He was never
weary of caressing her, taking her on his trunk, and bearing her about,
and when he set her down, would wait to see that she was fairly on her
feet and safe, before he would return to his gambols. Her voice calling
out, 'Sapor, Sapor,' was sure to bring him to her, when, what with words
and signs, he soon comprehended what it was she wanted. I myself came in
unwittingly for a share of the sport. For, as Faustula came bounding by
me, I did as those are so apt to do who know little of children--I
suddenly extended my arms and caught her. She, finding herself seized and
in the arms of one she knew not, thought, as children will think, that she
was already home a thousand leagues from her home, and screamed; whereupon
at the instant, I felt myself taken round the legs by a force greater than
that of a man, and which drew them together with such violence that
instinctively I dropped the child, and at the same time cried out with
pain. Julia, standing next me, incontinently slapped the trunk of the
elephant--for it was that twisted round me--with her hand, at which,
leaving me, he wound it lightly round the waist of the princess, and held
her his close prisoner. Great laughter from the children and the slaves
testified their joy at seeing their elders, equally with themselves, in
the power of the elephant. Milo being of the number, and in his foolish
exhilaration and sportive approbation of Sapor's feats having gone up to
him and patted him on his side, the beast, receiving as an affront that
plebeian salutation, quickly turned upon him, and taking him by one of his
feet, held him in that displeasing manner---his head hanging down--and
paraded leisurely round the green, Milo making the while hideous outcry,
and the whole company, especially the slaves and menials, filling the air
with screams of laughter. At length Vabalathus, thinking that Milo might
be injured, called out to Sapor, who thereupon released him, and he,
rising and adjusting his dress, was heard to affirm, that it had never
happened so while he was in the service of Gallienus.

These things for the little Gallus.

Satisfied now with the amusements of the evening and the pleasures of the
day, we parted from one another, filled with quite different sentiments
from those which had possessed us in the morning. Do members of this
great human family ever meet each other in social converse, and freely
open their hearts, without a new and better strength being given to the
bonds which hold in their embrace the peace and happiness of society? To
love each other, I think we chiefly need but to know each other.
Ignorance begets suspicion, suspicion dislike or hatred, and so we live
as strangers and enemies, when knowledge would have led to intimacy and
friendship. Farewell!



Letter VI.



Many days have passed, my Curtius, since I last wrote, each bringing its
own pleasures, and leaving its ineffaceable impressions upon the soul. But
though all have been in many things delightful, none has equalled that day
and evening at the palace of the Queen. I have now mingled largely with
the best society of Palmyra. The doors of the noble and the rich have
been opened to me with a liberal hospitality, As the friend of Gracchus
and Fausta--and now I may add I believe without presumption--of Zenobia
also, of Julia, and Longinus, I have been received with attentions, of
which Aurelian himself might with reason have been proud. More and more do
I love this people, more and more fervently do I beg of the Being or
Beings who rule over the affairs of men, to interpose and defend them from
any threatening danger. I grieve that the rumors still reaching us from
Rome tend so much to confirm the belief that our emperor is making
preparations for an eastern expedition. Yet I cannot bring myself to think
that he aims at Zenobia. If it were so, would there be first no
communication with the Queen? Is it like Aurelian to plan and move so
secretly? And against a woman too?--and that woman Zenobia? I'll not
believe it. Your letters would not be what they are, if there were any
real purpose like that which is attributed to Aurelian. But time will make
its revelations. Meanwhile, let me tell you where I now am, and what
pleasures I am enjoying. This will be written under various dates.

I write to you from what is called the Queen's Mountain Palace, being her
summer residence--occasionally--either to avoid the greater heats of the
city or that she may divert herself with athletic sports of hunting, of
which she is excessively fond, and in which she has few equals of her own
or even of our sex. Roman women of the present day would be amazed,
perhaps shocked, to be told what the sports and exercises are in which
this great eastern Queen finds her pleasures. She is not more exalted
above the women of Rome by genius, and the severer studies of the closet,
than she is, in my judgment, by the manner and fashion of her recreations.
Let not the dear Lucilia be offended. Were she here with me, her fair and
generous mind would rest, I am sure, after due comparisons, in the very
same conclusions. Fausta is in these respects too, as in others, but her
second self. There is not a feat of horsemanship or archery, nor an
enterprise in the chase, but she will dare all and do all that is dared or
done by Zenobia; not in the spirit of limitation or even rivalry, but from
the native impulses of a soul that reaches at all things great and
difficult. And even Julia, that being who seems too ethereal for earth,
and as if by some strange chance she were misplaced, being here, even
Julia has been trained in the same school, and, as I shall show you, can
join in the chase, and draw the bow, with scarcely less of skill and
vigor--with no less courage--than either her mother or Fausta. Although I
have now seen it, I still can hardly associate such excess of beauty--a
beauty both of form and face so truly belonging to this soft, Syrian
clime--with a strength and dexterity at every exercise that might put to
shame many a Roman who wears both a beard and the manly gown. But this, I
need not say, is not after Julia's heart. She loves more the gentler
encounters of social intercourse, where wit, and sense, and the
affections, have their full play, and the god-like that is within us
asserts its supremacy.

But my purpose now is to tell you how and why it is I am here, and
describe to you as well as I can this new Elysium: and how it is the happy
spirits, whom the gods have permitted to dwell here, pass their hours.

I am here by the invitation of the Queen. A few days after that which we
had so highly enjoyed at the palace, she expressed her desire that
Gracchus, Fausta, and myself would accompany her, with others of her
select friends, to her retreat among the hills, there to indulge in
perfect repose, or engage in the rural sports of the place, according to
our pleasure. I was not slow, neither were Gracchus and Fausta, to accept
so agreeable an invitation. 'I feared,' said Fausta, 'lest the troubled
state of affairs would prevent the Queen from taking her usual vacation,
where she loves best to be. But to say the truth, Lucius, I do not think
the prospect of a rupture with Rome does give her very serious thought.
The vision of a trial of arms with so renowned a soldier as Aurelian, is,
I doubt, not wholly, displeasing to her; there being especially so good
reason to believe that what befell Heraclianus might befall Aurelian. Nay,
do not look so grave. Rome is not fallen--yet.'

'Your tongue, Fausta, is lighter than your heart. Yet if Rome must fall,
why truly I know not at whose feet it could fall so worthily as those of
Zenobia and Fausta. But I trust its destiny is never to fall. Other
kingdoms as great, or almost as great, I know you will say, have fallen,
and Rome must in its turn. It seems, however, I must say, to possess a
principle of vitality which never before belonged to any nation. Its very
vastness too seems to protect it. I can as soon believe that shoals of
sea-carp may overcome the whale, or an army of emmets the elephant or
rhinoceros, as that one nation, or many banded together, can break down
the power of Rome.'

'How very, very naturally and easily is that said. Who can doubt that
you are a Roman, born upon the Coelian Hill! Pity but that we Palmyrenes
could copy that high way you Romans have. Do you not think that strength
and success lie much in confidence? Were every Roman such as you, I can
believe you were then omnipotent. But then we have some like you. Here
are Zenobia and I; you cannot deny that we have something of the Roman
about us.'

'I confess it would be a drawn battle, at least, were you a nation of
Zenobias. How Fausta is at the lance, I cannot yet tell.'

'That you shall see as soon as we are among the mountains. Is not this
charming, now, in the Queen, to bring us all together again so soon, under
her own roof? And such a place too, Lucius! We shall live there, indeed;
each day will at least be doubled. For I suppose life is to be measured,
not by hours, but sensations. Are you ready for the morning start? O, that
Solon were here! what exquisite mirth should we have! Milo is something;
but Solon were more.'

'Fausta, Fausta,' cried Gracchus, 'when will you be a woman?'

'Never, I trust,' replied Fausta; 'if I may then neither laugh, nor cry,
nor vex a Roman, nor fight for our Queen. These are my vocations, and if I
must renounce them, then I will be a man.'

'Either sex may be proud to gain you, my noble girl,' said Gracchus.

Early in the morning of the following day, all at the house of Gracchus
gave note of preparation. We were to meet the Queen and her party a few
miles from the walls of the city, at an appointed place, whence we were
to make the rest of the journey in company. We were first at the place of
meeting, which was a rising ground, shadowed by a few cedars, with their
huge branching tops. We reined up our horses and stood with our faces
toward the road, over which we had just passed, looking to catch the first
view of the Queen. The sun was just rising above the horizon, and touching
with its golden color the higher objects of the scene--the tall
cedars--the gray crags, which here and there jutted out into the
plain--the towers, and columns, and obelisks of the still slumbering city.

'How beautiful!' exclaimed Fausta: 'but look! that is more beautiful
still--that moving troop of horse! See!--even at this distance you can
distinguish the form and bearing of the Queen. How the slant beams of this
ruddy sun make her dress and the harness of her gallant steed to sparkle!
Is it not a fair sight, Lucius?'

It was beautiful indeed. The Queen was conspicuous above all, not more for
her form and bearing, than for the more than imperial magnificence of her
appointments. It is thus she is always seen by her people, dazzling them
equally by her beauties and her state. As she drew nearer, I felt that I
had never before seen aught on earth so glorious. The fiery Arabian that
bore her knew, as well as I, who it was that sat upon him; and the pride
of his carriage was visible in a thousand expressive movements. Julia was
at her side, differing from her only as one sun differs from another. She,
like Zenobia, seemed almost a part of the animal that bounded beneath her,
so perfect was the art with which she rode.

'A fair morning to you all,' cried the Queen, accompanying the words with
a glance that was reward enough for a life of service. 'The day smiles
upon our enterprise. Fausta, if you will join me, Piso will take care of
Julia; as for our Zabdas and Longinus, they are sad loiterers.'

Saying these things--scarcely checking her steed--and before the rest of
the party had quite come up--we darted on, the Queen leading the way, and,
as is her wont, almost at the top of her horse's speed.

'Zenobia,' said Julia, 'is in fine spirits this morning, as you may judge
from her beaming countenance, and the rate at which she travels. But we
can hardly converse while we are going so fast.'

'No bond has been signed,' said I, 'that we should ride like couriers.
Suppose, princess, we slacken our pace.'

'That will we,' she replied, 'and leave it to the Queen to announce our
approach. Here now, alas! are Zabdas and Longinus overtaking us. The Queen
wonders at your delay,' said she, addressing them; 'put spurs to your
horses, and you may easily overtake her.'

'Is it required?' asked the Egyptian, evidently willing to linger.

'Not so indeed,' answered Julia, 'but it would be gallant; the Queen,
save Fausta, is alone. How can we answer it, if evil befall her? Her
girth may break.'

At which alarming suggestion, taking it as merrily as it was given, the
two counsellors quickened their pace, and bidding us good morning, soon,
as we saw at the ascent of a little hill, overtook Zenobia.

For the rest of us, we were passing and repassing each other, mingling
and separating all the remainder of the way. Our road lay through a rough
and hilly country, but here and there sprinkled with bright spots of the
richest beauty and highest cultivation, The valleys, whenever we descended
into them, we found well watered and tilled, and peopled by an apparently
happy peasantry. And as we saw them from first one eminence and then
another, stretching away and winding among the hills, we agreed that they
presented delicious retreats for those who, weary of the world, wished to
taste, toward the close of life, the sweets of a repose which the world
never knows. As we drew toward the end of our ride--a ride of quite twenty
Roman miles--we found ourselves forsaken of all the rest of the company,
owing either to our horses not being equal to the others, or rather,
perhaps, to the frequent pauses which we made at all those points where
the scenery presented any thing beautiful or uncommon.

Every thing now at last indicated that we were not far from the royal
demesne. All around were marks of the hand and eye of taste having been
there, and of the outlay of enormous wealth. It was not, however, till we
had, for a mile and more, ridden through lawns and fields covered with
grain and fruit, laid out in divisions of tillage or of wood, that,
emerging from a dark grove, we came within sight of the palace. We could
just discern, by the glittering of the sun upon the jewelry of their
horses, that the last of the company were wheeling into the grounds in
front of what seemed the principal part of the vast structure. That we
might not be too much in the rear of all, we put our horses to their
speed, which then, with the fleetness of wind, bore us to the outer gates
of the palace. Passing these, we were in a moment in the midst of those
who had preceded us, the grooms and slaves of the palace surrounding us,
and taking charge of our horses. Zenobia was still standing in the great
central portico, where she had dismounted, her face glowing with the
excitement of the ride, and engaged in free discourse with, the group
around her. Soon as Julia reined up her horse, and quicker than any other
could approach, she sprang to her daughter's side, and assisted her to
dismount, holding with a strong hand the while, the fiery and restless
animal she rode.

'Welcome in safety, Julia,' said the Queen, 'and thanks, noble Piso, for
your care of your charge. But perhaps we owe your safety more to the
strength of your Arab's girth, than to any care of Piso.'

Julia's laugh rang merrily through the arches of the portico.

'Truly,' said she, 'I was glad to use any sudden conceit by which to gain
a more solitary ride than I was like to have. It was my ambition to be
Piso's companion, that I might enjoy the pleasure of pointing out to new
eyes the beauties of the country. I trust I was rightly comprehended by
our grave counsellors.'

'Assure yourself of it,' said Longinus; 'and though we could not but part
from you with some unwillingness, yet seeing whom we were to join, we bore
the loss with such philosophy as we were able to summon on the sudden.'

Zenobia now led the way to the banqueting hall, where tables loaded with
meats, fruits, and wines, offered themselves most temptingly and
seasonably, to those who had ridden, as I have said, twenty Roman miles.

This villa of the Queen, for its beauty and extent unrivalled in all the
East, I would that I could set before you, so that you might form some
conception of its greatness and variety. The palace stands at the northern
extremity of a vast plain, just where the wild and mountainous region
ends, and the more level and cultivated begins. To the North stretches a
savage country, little inhabited, and filled with the wild animals which
make the forests of Asia so terrible. This is the Queen's hunting-ground.
It was here that, with Odenatus, she pursued the wild boar, the tiger, or
the panther, with a daring and a skill that astonished the boldest
huntsmen. It was in these forests, that the wretch Mæsonius, insolently
throwing his javelin at the game, just as he saw his uncle was about to
strike, incurred that just rebuke, which however his revengeful nature
never forgave, and which was appeased only with the blood of the royal
Palmyrene. Zenobia is never more herself than when she joins the chase
mounted upon her fleet Arabian, and roused to all her power by the
presence of a gallant company of the boldest spirits of Palmyra.

The southern view, and which my apartments overlook, presents a wide
expanse of level ground, or gently undulating, offering a various prospect
of cultivated fields, unbroken lawns, dense groves, of standing or flowing
waters, of light bridges spanning them, of pavilions, arbors, statues,
standing out in full view, or just visible through, the rich foliage or
brilliant flowering plants of these sunny regions. The scene is closed by
the low, waving outline of the country, through which we passed on the
morning of our ride from Palmyra, over which there is spread a thin veil
of purple haze, adding a new charm to whatever objects are dimly discerned
through it. At one point only can we, when this vapor is by any cause
diminished, catch a glimpse of the loftier buildings of the distant city.
But the palace itself, though it be the work of man, and not of gods, is
not less beautiful than all these aspects of nature. It is wholly built
after the light and almost fantastic forms of the Persian architecture,
which seem more suited to a residence of this kind than the heavier
fashions of the Greek or Roman taste. Hadrian's villa is alone to be
compared with it for vastness and magnificence, and that, by the side of
this, seems a huge prison, so gay and pleasing are the thoughts and
sensations which this dream-like combination of arch upon arch, of
pinnacle, dome, and tower--all enriched with the most minute and costly
work--inspires the mind.

Nothing has pleased me more than at times, when the sultry heats of the
day forbid alike study and recreation, to choose for myself some remote
and shaded spot, and lying along upon the flowery turf, soothed by the
drowsy hum of the summer insects, gaze upon this gorgeous pile of oriental
grandeur, and lazily drink in the draughts of a beauty, as I believe, no
where else to be enjoyed. When at such hours Julia or Fausta is my
companion, I need not say in how great degree the pleasure is heightened,
nor what hues of a more rosy tint wrap all the objects of the scene.
Fountains here, as every where in the Eastern world, are frequent, and of
such size as to exert a sensible influence upon the heated atmosphere.
Huge columns of the coldest water, drawn from the recesses of the
mountains, are thrown into the air, and then falling and foaming over
rocks rudely piled, to resemble some natural cascade, disappear, and are
led by subterranean conduits to distant and lower parts of the ground.
These fountains take many and fantastic forms. In the centre of the
principal court of the palace, it is an enormous elephant of stone, who
disgorges from his uplifted trunk a vast but graceful shower, sometimes
charged with the most exquisite perfumes, and which are diffused by the
air through every part of the palace. Around this fountain, reclining upon
seats constructed to allow the most easy attitudes, or else in some of the
apartments immediately opening upon it, it is our custom to pass the
evening hours, either conversing with each other, or listening to some
tale which he who thinks he can entertain the company is at liberty to
relate, or gathering at once instruction and delight, as Longinus, either
from his memory or a volume, imparts to us choice selections of the
literature of Athens or Rome. So have I heard the Oedipus Tyrannus, and
the Prometheus, as I never have heard them before.

At such times, it is beautiful to see the group of listeners gathering
nearer and nearer, as the philosopher reads or recites, and catching every
word and accent of that divine tongue, as it falls from his lips. Zenobia
alone, of all who are there, ever presumes to interrupt the reader with
either question or comment. To her voice Longinus instantly becomes a
willing listener; and well may he: for never does she speak, at such
moments, without adding a new charm to whatever theme she touches. Her
mind, surprisingly clear, and deeply imbued with the best spirit of
ancient learning, and poetically cast, becomes of right our teacher; and
commands always the profound respect, if not always the assent, of the
accomplished Greek. Not unfrequently, on such casual remark of the Queen,
the reading is thereupon suspended, and discussion between her and the
philosopher, or conversation upon topics suggested in which we all take
part, ensues. But, however this may be, all moves on in a spirit the most
liberal, frank, and free. No restraint is upon us but that which reverence
for superior learning, or goodness, or beauty imposes. I must add, that on
these occasions the great Zabdas is always seen to compose himself to his
slumbers, from which he often starts, uttering loud shouts, as if at the
head of his troops. Our bursts of laughter wake him not, but by the
strange power of sleep seem to be heard by him as if they were responsive
cries of the enemy, and only cause him to send forth louder shouts than
ever, 'Down with the Egyptian dogs!' 'Let the Nile choke with their
carcasses!'--'The Queen forever!' and then his voice dies away in
inarticulate sounds.

But I should weary you indeed, were I to go on to tell you half the
beauties and delights of this chosen spot, and cause you, perhaps, to be
discontented with that quiet, modest house, upon the banks of the Tiber. I
leave you therefore to fill up with your own colors the outline which I
have now set before you, as I best could, and pass to other things.

Every day has seen its peculiar games and entertainments. Sometimes the
Queen's slaves, trained to their respective feats, have wrestled, or
fought, or run, for our amusement. At other times, we ourselves have been
the performers. Upon the racecourse, fleet Arabians have contended for the
prize, or they, who have esteemed themselves skilful, have tried for the
mastery in two or four horse chariots. Elephants have been put to their
strength, and dromedaries to their speed. But our chief pleasure has been
derived from trials of skill and of strength with the lance and the arrow,
and from the chase.

It was in using the lance, that Antiochus--a kinsman of the Queen, whom I
believe I have not before mentioned, although I have many times met
him--chiefly signalized himself. This person, half Syrian and half Roman,
possessing the bad qualities of both and the good ones of neither, was
made one of this party, rather, I suppose, because he could not be left
out, than because he was wanted. He has few friends in Palmyra, but among
wild and dissolute spirits like himself. He is famed for no quality either
great or good. Violent passions and intemperate lusts are what he is
chiefly noted for. But, except that pride and arrogance are writ upon the
lines of his countenance, you would hardly guess that his light-tinted and
beardless cheeks and soft blue eyes belonged to one of so dark and foul a
soul. His frame and his strength are those of a giant; yet is he wholly
destitute of grace. His limbs seem sometimes as if they were scarcely a
part of him, such difficulty does he discover in marshalling them aright.
Consciousness of this embarrasses him, and sends him for refuge to his
pride, which darts looks of anger and bitter revenge upon all who offend
or make light of him. His ambition is, and his hope, to succeed Zenobia.
You may think this strange, considering the family of the Queen. But as
for the sons of Zenobia, he calculates much, so it is reported, upon their
weakness both of mind and body, as rendering them distasteful to the
Palmyrenes, even if they should live; and as for Julia and her sisters, he
has so high conceptions of his own superior merit, that he doubts not in
case of the Queen's demise, that the people would by acclamation select
him, in preference to them, as her successor; or in the last emergency,
that it would be but to marry Julia, in order to secure the throne beyond
any peradventure. These are the schemes which many do not scruple to
impute to him. Whether credited or not by Zenobia, I cannot tell. But were
they, I believe she would but smile at the poor lack-brain who entertains
them. Intrenched as she is in the impregnable fortress of her people's
heart, she might well despise the intrigues of a bolder and worthier
spirit than Antiochus. For him she can spare neither words nor thoughts.

It was Fausta who a few days ago, as we rose from the tables, proposed
that we should try our strength and skill in throwing the lance. 'I
promised you, Lucius,' said she, 'that when here, you should be permitted
to judge of my abilities in that art. Are all ready for the sport?'

All sprang from their seats, like persons weary of one occupation, and
grateful for the proffer of another.

Zenobia led the way to the grounds, not far from the palace, appropriated
to games of this kind, and to the various athletic sports. Not all the
company entered the lists, but many seated themselves, or stood around,
spectators of the strife. Slaves now appeared, bearing the lances, and
preparing the ground for our exercise. The feat to be performed seemed to
me not difficult so much as impossible. It was to throw the lance with
such unerring aim and force, as to pass through an aperture in a shield of
four-fold ox-hide, of a size but slightly larger than the beam of the
lance, so as not so much as to graze the sides of the perforated place.
The distance too of the point from which the lance was to be thrown, from
the shield, was such as to require great strength of arm to overcome it.

The young Cæsars advanced first to the trial. 'Now,' whispered Fausta,
'behold the vigor of the royal arm. Were such alone our defence, well
might Palmyra tremble.'

Herennianus, daintily handling and brandishing his lance, in the manner
prescribed at the schools, where skill in all warlike arts is taught, and
having drawn all eyes upon him, at length let it fly, when,
notwithstanding so much preparatory flourish, it fell short of the staff
upon which the shield was reared.

'Just from the tables,' said the prince, as he withdrew, angry at his so
conspicuous failure; 'and how can one reach what he can scarcely see?'

'Our arm has not yet recovered from its late injury,' said Timolaus, as he
selected his weapon; 'yet will we venture a throw.' His lance reached the
mast, but dropped feebly at his foot. Vabalathus, saying nothing, and
putting all his strength in requisition, drove his weapon into the staff,
where it stood quivering a moment, and fell to the ground.

Carias, Seleucus, Otho, Gabrayas, noblemen of Palmyra, now successively
tried their fortune, and all showed themselves well trained to the use of
the weapon, by each fixing his lance in the body of the shield, and in the
near neighborhood of the central hole.

Zabdas now suddenly springing from his seat, which he had taken among
those who apparently declined to join in the sport, seized a lance from
the hands of the slave who bore them, and hurling it with the force of a
tempest, the weapon, hissing along the air, struck the butt near the
centre; but the wood of which it was made, unused to such violence,
shivered and crumbled under the blow. Without a word, and without an
emotion, so far as the face was its index, the Egyptian returned to his
seat. It seemed as if he had done the whole in his sleep. It is actual war
alone that can rouse the energies of Zabdas.

Zenobia, who had stood leaning upon her lance, next advanced to the trial.
Knowing her admirable skill at all manly exercises, I looked with
certainty to see her surpass those who had already essayed their powers.
Nor was I disappointed. With a wonderful grace she quickly threw herself
into the appointed position, and with but a moment's preparation, and as
if it cost her but a slight effort, sent her lance, with unerring aim and
incredible swiftness, through the hole. Yet was not the feat a perfect
one. For, in passing through the aperture, the weapon not having been
driven with quite sufficient force, did not preserve its level, so that
the end grazed the shield, and the lance then consequently taking an
oblique direction, plunged downward and buried its head in the turf.

'Now, Fausta,' said the Queen, 'must you finish what I have but begun. Let
us now see your weapon sweep on till its force shall be evenly spent.'

'When Zenobia fails,' said Fausta, 'there must be some evil influence
abroad that shall cripple the powers of others yet more. However, let me
try; for I have promised to prove to our Roman friend that the women, of
Palmyra know the use of arms not less than the men.'

So saying, she chose her lance, and with little ceremony, and almost
before our eyes could trace her movements, the weapon had flown, and
passing through, as it seemed, the very centre of the perforated space,
swept on till its force died away in the distance, and it fell gracefully
to the ground.

A burst of applause arose from the surrounding groups.

'I knew,' said Zenobia, 'that I could trust the fame, of the women of
Palmyra to you. At the harp, the needle, or the lance, our Fausta has no
equal; unless,' turning herself round, 'in my own Julia. Now we will see
what your arm can do.'

Standing near the lances, I selected one eminent for its smoothness and
polish, and placed it in her hand.

With a form of so much less apparent vigor than either Zenobia or Fausta,
so truly Syrian in a certain soft languor that spreads itself over her,
whether at rest or in motion, it was amazing to see with what easy
strength she held and balanced the heavy weapon. Every movement showed
that there lay concealed within her ample power for this and every manly
exercise, should she please to put it forth.

'At the schools,' said the princess, 'Fausta and I went on ever with equal
steps. Her advantage lies in being at all times mistress of her power. My
arm is often treacherous, through failure of the heart.'

It was not difficult to see the truth of what she said, in her varying
color, and the slightly agitated lance.

But addressing herself to the sport, and with but one instant's pause, the
lance flew toward the shield, and entering the opening, but not with a
perfect direction, it passed not through, but hung there by the head.

'Princess,' said Zabdas, springing from his repose with more than wonted
energy, 'that lance was chosen, as I saw, by a Roman. Try once more with
one that I shall choose, and see what the issue will be.'

'Truly,' said Julia, 'I am ready to seize any plea under which to redeem
my fame. But first give me yourself a lesson, will you not?'

The Egyptian was not deaf to the invitation, and once more essaying the
feat, and with his whole soul bent to the work, the lance, quicker than
sight, darted from his hand, and following in the wake of Fausta's,
lighted farther than hers--being driven with more force--upon the lawn.

The princess now, with more of confidence in her air, again balanced and
threw the lance which Zabdas had chosen--this time with success; for,
passing through the shield, it fell side by side with Fausta's.

'Fortune still unites us,' said Julia; 'if for a time she leaves me a
little in the rear, yet she soon repents of the wrong, and brings me up.'
Saying which, she placed herself at Fausta's side.

'But come, our worthy cousin,' said the Queen, now turning and addressing
Antiochus, who stood with folded arms, dully surveying the scene, 'will
you not try a lance?'

'Tis hardly worth our while,' said he, 'for the gods seem to have
delivered all the honor and power of the East into the hands of women.'

'Yet it may not be past redemption,' said Julia, 'and who more likely than
Hercules to achieve so great a work? Pray begin.'

That mass of a man, hardly knowing whether the princess were jesting or in
earnest--for to the usual cloud that rested upon his intellect, there was
now added the stupidity arising from free indulgence at the tables--slowly
moved toward the lances, and selecting the longest and heaviest, took his
station at the proper place. Raising then his arm, which was like a
weaver's beam, and throwing his enormous body into attitudes which showed
that no child's play was going on, he let drive the lance, which, shooting
with more force than exactness of aim, struck upon the outer rim of the
shield, and then glancing sideways was near spearing a poor slave, whose
pleasure it was, with others, to stand in the neighborhood of the butt, to
pick up and return the weapons thrown, or withdraw them from the shield,
where they might have fastened themselves.

Involuntary laughter broke forth upon this unwonted performance of the
lance; upon which it was easy to see, by the mounting color of Antiochus,
that his passions were inflamed. Especially--did we afterward
suppose--was he enraged at the exclamation of one of the slaves near the
shield, who was heard to say to his fellow: 'Now is the reign of women at
an end.' Seizing, however, on the instant, another lance, he was known to
exclaim, by a few who stood near him, but who did not take the meaning of
his words: 'With a better mark, there may be a better aim.' Then resuming
his position, he made at first, by a long and steady aim, as if he were
going, with certainty now, to hit the shield; but, changing suddenly the
direction of his lance, he launched it with fatal aim, and a giant's
force, at the slave who had uttered those words. It went through him, as
he had been but a sheet of papyrus, and then sung along the plain. The
poor wretch gave one convulsive leap into the air, and dropped dead.

'Zenobia!' exclaimed Julia.

'Great Queen!' said Fausta.

'Shameful!'--'dastardly!'--'cowardly!'--broke from one and another of
the company.

'That's the mark I never miss,' observed Antiochus; and at the same time
regaled his nose from a box of perfume.

'Tis his own chattel,' said the Queen; 'he may do with it as he lists. He
has trenched upon no law of the realm, but only upon those of breeding and
humanity. Our presence, and that of this company, might, we think, have
claimed a more gentle observance.'

'Dogs!' fiercely shouted Antiochus--who, as the Queen said these words,
her eyes fastened indignantly upon him, had slunk sulkily to his
seat--'dogs,' said he, aiming suddenly to brave the matter, 'off with
yonder carrion!--it offends the Queen.'

'Would our cousin,' said Zenobia, 'win the hearts of Palmyra, this surely
is a mistaken way. Come, let us to the palace. This spot is tainted. But
that it may be sweetened as far as may be, slaves!' she cried, 'bring to
the gates the chariot, and other remaining chattels of Antiochus!'

Antiochus, at these words, pale with the apprehensions of a cowardly
spirit, rose and strode toward the palace, from which, in a few moments,
he was seen on his way to the city.

'You may judge me needlessly harsh, Piso,' said the Queen, as we now
sauntered toward the palace, 'but truly the condition of the slave is
such, that seeing the laws protect him not, we must do something to enlist
in his behalf the spirit of humanity. The breach of courtesy, however, was
itself not to be forgiven.'

'It was a merciful fate of the slave,' said I, 'compared with what our
Roman slaves suffer. To be lashed to death, or crucified, or burned, or
flayed alive, or torn by dogs, or thrown as food for fishes, is something
worse than this quick exit of the thrall of Antiochus. You of these softer
climes are in your natures milder than we, and are more moved by scenes
like this. What would you think, Queen, to see not one, but scores or
hundreds of these miserable beings, upon bare suspicion of attempts
against their master's life, condemned, by their absolute irresponsible
possessors, to death in all its most revolting forms? Nay, even our Roman
women, of highest rank, and gentlest nurture, stand by while their slaves
are scourged, or themselves apply the lash. If under this torture they
die, it is thought of but as of the death of vermin. War has made with us
this sort of property of so cheap possession, that to destroy it is often
a useful measure of economy. By a Roman, nothing is less regarded than
life. And in truth, I see not how it can be otherwise.'

'But surely,' said Julia, 'you do not mean to defend this condition of
life. It is not like the sentiments I have heard you express,'

'I defend it only thus,' I replied: 'so long as we have wars--and when
will they cease?--there must be captives; and what can these be but
slaves? To return them to their own country, were to war to no purpose. To
colonize them were to strip war of its horrors. To make them freemen of
our own soil, were to fill the land with foes and traitors. Then if there
must be slaves, there must be masters and owners. And the absolute master
of other human beings, responsible to no one, can be no other than a
tyrant. If he has, as he must have, the power to punish at will, he will
exercise it, and that cruelly. If he has the power to kill, as he must
have, then will he kill and kill cruelly when his nature prompts. And this
his nature will prompt, or if not his nature absolutely, yet his educated
nature. Our children grow up within the sight and sound of all the horrors
and sufferings of this state of things. They use their slaves--with which,
almost in infancy, they are provided--according to their pleasure--as
dogs, as horses; they lash, they scourge them, long before they have the
strength to kill. What wonder if the boy, who, when a boy, used a slave
as his beast of burden, or his footstool, when he grows to be a man,
should use him as a mark to be shot at? The youth of Antiochus was reared
in Rome. I presume to say that his earliest play-things were slaves, and
the children of slaves. I am not surprised at his act. And such acts are
too common in Rome for this to disturb me much. The education of Antiochus
was continued and completed, I may venture also to say, at the circus. I
think the result very natural. It cannot be very different, where slavery
and the sports of the amphitheatre exist.'

'I perceive your meaning,' said Julia; 'Antiochus you affirm to be the
natural product of the customs and institutions which now prevail. It is
certainly so, and must continue so, until some new element shall be
introduced into society, that shall ultimately reform its practices, by
first exalting the sentiments and the character of the individual. Such an
element do I detect----'

'In Christianity,' said Fausta; 'this is your panacea. May it prove all
you desire; yet methinks it gives small promise, seeing it has already
been at work more than two hundred years, and has accomplished no more.'

'A close observer,' replied Julia, 'sees much of the effect of
Christianity beside that which appears upon the surface. If I err not
greatly, a few years more will reveal what this religion has been doing
these two centuries and more. Revolutions which are acted out in a day,
have often been years or centuries in preparation. An eye that will see,
may see the final issue, a long time foreshadowed in the tendencies and
character of a preceding age.'

The princess uttered this with earnestness. I have reflected upon it. And
if you, my Curtius, will look around upon the state of the empire, you
will find many things to startle you. But of this another time.

Assembled in the evening in the court of the elephant, we were made to
forget whatever had proved disagreeable during the day, while we listened
to the 'Frogs,' read by Julia and Longinus.

The following day was appointed for the chase, and early in the morning I
was waked by the braying of trumpets, and the baying of dogs. I found the
Queen already mounted and equipped for the sport, surrounded by Zabdas,
Longinus, and a few of the nobles of Palmyra. We were soon joined by Julia
and Fausta. In order to insure our sport, a tiger, made fierce by being
for some days deprived of food, had the preceding evening been let loose
from the royal collection into the neighboring forests. These forests,
abounding in game, commence immediately, as it were, in the rear of the
palace. They present a boundless continuity of crag, mountain, and wooded
plain, offering every variety of ground to those who seek the pleasures of
the chase. The sun had not been long above the horizon when we sallied
forth from the palace gates, and from the smooth and shaven fields of the
royal demesne, plunged at once into the

       *       *       *       *       *

It was a moment of inexpressible horror. At the same instant, our eyes
caught the form of the famished tiger, just in the act to spring from the
crag upon the unconscious Queen. But before we had time to alarm
Zenobia--which would indeed have been useless--a shaft from an unerring
arm arrested the monster midair, whose body then tumbled heavily at the
feet of Zenobia's Arab. The horse, rearing with affright, had nearly
dashed the Queen against the opposite rocks, but keeping her seat, she
soon, by her powerful arm and complete horsemanship, reduced him to his
obedience, though trembling like a terrified child through every part of
his body. A thrust from my hunting spear quickly despatched the dying
beast. We now gathered around the Queen.

       *       *       *       *       *

Hardly were we arrived at the lawn in front of the palace, when a cloud of
dust was observed to rise in the direction of the road to Palmyra, as if
caused by a body of horse in rapid movement. 'What may this mean?' said
Zenobia: 'orders were strict, that our brief retirement should not be
disturbed. This indicates an errand of some urgency.'

'Some embassy from abroad, perhaps,' said Julia, 'that cannot brook delay.
It may be from your great brother at Rome.'

While we, in a sportive humor, indulged in various conjectures, an
official of the palace announced the approach of a Roman herald,
'who craved permission to address the Queen of Palmyra.' He was
ordered to advance.

In a few moments, upon a horse covered with dust and foam, appeared the
Roman herald. Without one moment's hesitancy, he saw in Zenobia the Queen,
and taking off his helmet, said, 'that Caius Petronius, and Cornelius
Varro, ambassadors of Aurelian, were in waiting at the outer gates of the
palace, and asked a brief audience of the Queen of Palmyra, upon affairs
of deepest interest, both to Zenobia and the Emperor.'

'It is not our custom,' said Zenobia in reply, 'when seeking repose, as
now, from the cares of state, to allow aught to break it. But we will not
be selfish nor churlish. Bid the servants of your Emperor draw near, and
we will hear them.'

I was not unwilling that the messengers of Aurelian should see Zenobia
just as she was now. Sitting upon her noble Arabian, and leaning upon her
hunting spear, her countenance glowing with a higher beauty than ever
before, as it seemed to me--her head surmounted with a Parthian
hunting-cap, from which drooped a single ostrich feather, springing from a
diamond worth a nation's rental, her costume also Parthian, and revealing
in the most perfect manner the just proportions of her form--I thought I
had never seen even her, when she so filled and satisfied the eye and the
mind--and, for that moment, I was almost a traitor to Aurelian. Had Julia
filled her seat, I should have been quite so. As it was, I could worship
her who sat her steed with no less grace, upon the left of the Queen,
without being guilty of that crime. On Zenobia's right were Longinus and
Zabdas, Gracchus, and the other noblemen of Palmyra. I and Fausta were
near Julia. In this manner, just as we had come in from the chase, did we
await the ambassadors of Aurelian.

Announced by trumpets, and followed by their train, they soon wheeled into
the lawn, and advanced toward the Queen.

'Caius Petronius and Cornelius Varro,' said Zenobia, first addressing the
ambassadors, and moving toward them a few paces, 'we bid you heartily
welcome to Palmyra. If we receive you thus without form, you must take the
blame partly to yourselves, who have sought us with such haste. We put by
the customary observances, that we may cause you no delay. These whom you
see are all friends or counsellors. Speak your errand without restraint.'

'We come,' replied Petronius, 'as you may surmises great Queen, upon no
pleasing errand. Yet we cannot but persuade ourselves, that the Queen of
Palmyra will listen to the proposals of Aurelian, and preserve the good
understanding which has lasted so long between the West and the East.
There have been brought already to your ears, if I have been rightly
informed, rumors of dissatisfaction on the part of our Emperor, with the
affairs of the East, and of plans of an eastern expedition. It is my
business now to say, that these rumors have been well founded. I am
further to say, that the object at which Aurelian has aimed, in the
preparations he has made, is not Persia, but Palmyra.'

'He does us too much honor,' said Zenobia, her color rising, and her eye
kindling; 'and what, may I ask, are specifically his demands, and the
price of peace?'

'For a long series of years,' replied the ambassador, 'the wealth of Egypt
and the East, as you are aware, flowed into the Roman treasury. That
stream has been diverted to Palmyra. Egypt, and Syria, and Bithynia, and
Mesopotamia, were dependants upon Rome, and Roman provinces. It is
needless to say what they now are. The Queen of Palmyra was once but the
Queen of Palmyra; she is now Queen of Egypt and of the East--Augusta of
the Roman empire--her sons styled and arrayed as Cæsars. By whatever
consent of former emperors these honors have been won or permitted, it is
not, we are required to say, with the consent of Aurelian. By whatever
service in behalf of Rome they may, in the judgment of some, be thought to
be deserved, in the judgment of Aurelian the reward exceeds greatly the
value of the service rendered. But while we would not be deemed insensible
to those services, and while he honors the greatness and the genius of
Zenobia, he would, he conceives, be unfaithful to the interests of those
who have raised him to his high office, if he did not require that in the
East, as in the West, the Roman empire should again be restored to the
limits which bounded it in the reigns of the virtuous Antonines. This he
holds essential to his own honor, and the glory of the Roman world.'

'You have delivered yourself, Caius Petronius,' replied the Queen, in a
calm and firm voice, 'as it became a Roman to do, with plainness, and as I
must believe, without reserve. So far I honor you. Now hear me, and as you
hear, so report to him who sent you. Tell Aurelian that what I am, I have
made myself; that the empire which hails me Queen has been moulded into
what it is by Odenatus and Zenobia; it is no gift, but an inheritance--a
conquest and a possession; it is held, not by favor, but by right of birth
and power; and that when he will give away possessions or provinces which
he claims as his or Rome's, for the asking, I will give away Egypt and
the Mediterranean coast. Tell him that as I have lived a queen, so, the
gods helping, I will die a queen,--that the last moment of my reign and
my life shall be the same. If he is ambitious, let him be told that I am
ambitious too--ambitious of wider and yet wider empire--of an unsullied
fame, and of my people's love. Tell him I do not speak of gratitude on the
part of Rome, but that posterity will say, that the Power which stood
between Rome and Persia, and saved the empire in the East, which avenged
the death of Valerian, and twice pursued the king of kings as far as the
gates of Ctesiphon, deserved some fairer acknowledgment than the message
you now bring, at the hands of a Roman emperor.'

'Let the Queen,' quickly rejoined Petronius, but evidently moved by what
he had heard, 'let the Queen fully take me. Aurelian purposes not to
invade the fair region where I now am, and where my eyes are rejoiced by
this goodly show of city, plain and country. He hails you Queen of
Palmyra! He does but ask again those appendages of your greatness, which
have been torn from Rome, and were once members of her body.'

'Your emperor is gracious indeed!' replied the Queen, smiling; 'if he may
hew off my limbs, he will spare the trunk!--and what were the trunk
without the limbs?'

'And is this,' said Petronius, his voice significant of inward grief,
'that which I must carry back to Rome? Is there no hope of a better
adjustment?'

'Will not the Queen of Palmyra delay for a few days her final answer?'
added Varro: 'I see, happily, in her train, a noble Roman, from whom, as
well as from us, she may obtain all needed knowledge of both the
character and purposes of Aurelian. We are at liberty to wait her
pleasure.'

'You have our thanks, Romans, for your courtesy, and we accept your
offer; although in what I have said, I think I have spoken the sense of
my people.'

'You have indeed, great Queen,' interrupted Zabdas with energy.

'Yet I owe it to my trusty counsellor, the great Longinus,' continued the
Queen, 'and who now thinks not with me, to look farther into the
reasons--which, because they are his, must be strong ones---by which he
supports an opposite judgment.'

'Those reasons have now,' said the Greek, 'lost much or all of their
force,'--Zabdas smiled triumphantly--'yet still I would advocate delay.'

'Let it be so then,' said the Queen; 'and in the meanwhile, let the
ambassadors of Aurelian not refuse the hospitalities of the Eastern Queen.
Our palace is yours, while it shall please you to remain.'

'For the night and the morning, we accept your offers; then, as strangers
in this region, we would return to the city, to see better than we have
yet done the objects which it presents. It seemed to us, on a hasty
glance, surrounded by its luxuriant plains, like the habitation of gods.
We would dwell there a space.'

'It shall be as you will. Let me now conduct you to the palace.'

So saying, Zenobia, putting spurs to her horse, led the way to the palace,
followed by a long train of Romans and Palmyrenes. The generous
hospitality of the tables closed the day and wore away the night.



Letter VII.



You will be glad to learn, my Curtius, that the time has now come, when I
may with reason look for news from Isaac, or for his return. It was his
agreement to write of his progress, so soon as he should arrive at
Ecbatana. But since he would consume but a very few days in the
accomplishment of his task, if, the gods helping, he should be able to
accomplish it at all, I may see him even before I hear from him, and, O
day thrice happy! my brother perhaps with him. Yet am I not without
solicitude, even though Calpurnius should return. For how shall I meet
him?--as a Persian, or a Roman?--as a friend, or an enemy? As a brother, I
can never cease to love him; as a public enemy of Rome, I may be obliged
to condemn him.

You have indeed gratified me by what you have said concerning the public
works in which the emperor is now engaged. Would that the erection of
temples and palaces might draw away his thoughts from the East. The new
wall, of so much wider sweep, with which he is now enclosing the city, is
well worthy the greatness of his genius. Yet do we, my Curtius, perceive
in this rebuilding and strengthening of the walls of Rome, no indication
of our country's decline? Were Rome vigorous and sound, as once, in her
limbs, what were the need of this new defence about the heart? It is to me
a confession of weakness, rather than any evidence of greatness and
strength. Aurelian achieves more for Rome by the strictness of his
discipline, and his restoration of the ancient simplicity and severity
among the troops, than he could by a triple wall about the metropolis.
Rome will then already have fallen, when a Gothic army shall have
penetrated so far as even to have seen her gates. The walls of Rome are
her living and moving walls of flesh. Her old and crumbling ramparts of
masonry, upon which we have so often climbed in sport, rolling down into
the surrounding ditch huge masses, have ever been to me, when I have
thought of them, pregnant signs of security and power.

The ambassadors, Petronius and Varro, early on the morning succeeding
their interview with the Queen, departed for the city. They were soon
followed by Zenobia and her train of counsellors and attendants. It had
been before agreed that the princess, Fausta, and myself, should remain
longer at the palace, for the purpose of visiting, as had been proposed,
the aged Christian hermit, whose retreat is among the fastnesses of the
neighboring mountains. I would rather have accompanied the Queen, seeing
it was so certain that important interviews and discussions would take
place, when they should be all returned once more to the city. I suppose
this was expressed in my countenance, for the Queen, as she took her seat
in the chariot, turned and said to me: 'We shall soon see you again in the
city. A few hours in the mountains will be all that Julia will require;
and sure I am that the wisdom of St. Thomas will more than repay you for
what you may lose in Palmyra. Our topics will relate but to worldly
aggrandizement--yours to more permanent interests.'

How great a pity that the love of glory has so fastened upon the heart of
this wonderful woman; else might she live, and reign, and die the object
of universal idolatry. But set as her heart is upon conquest and universal
empire throughout the East, and of such marvellous power to subdue every
intellect, even the strongest, to her will, I can see nothing before her
but a short and brilliant career, ending in ruin, absolute and complete.
Zenobia has not, or will not allow it to be seen that she has, any proper
conception of the power of Rome. She judges of Rome by the feeble
Valerian, and the unskilful Heraclianus, and by their standard measures
such men as Aurelian, and Probus, and Carus. She may indeed gain a single
battle, for her genius is vast, and her troops well disciplined and brave.
But the loss of a battle would be to her the loss of empire, while to Rome
it would be but as the sting of a summer insect. Yet this she does not or
will not see. To triumph over Aurelian is, I believe, the vision that
dazzles, deludes, and will destroy her.

No sooner had the Queen and her train departed, than, mounting our horses,
we took our way, Julia, Fausta, and myself, through winding valleys and
over rugged hills, toward the hermit's retreat. Reaching the base of what
seemed an almost inaccessible crag, we found it necessary to leave our
horses in the care of attendant slaves, and pursue the remainder of the
way on foot. The hill which we now had to ascend was thickly grown over
with every variety of tree and bush, with here and there a mountain stream
falling from rock to rock, and forcing its way to the valley below. The
sultry heat of the day compelled us frequently to pause, as we toiled up
the side of the hill, seating ourselves, now beneath the dark shadows of a
branching cedar or the long-lived terebinth, and now on the mossy banks of
a descending brook. The mingled beauty and wildness of the scene, together
with such companions, soon drove the Queen, Rome, and Palmyra, from my
thoughts. I could not but wish that we might lose our way to the hermit's
cave, that by such means our walk might be prolonged.

'Is it, I wonder,' said Fausta, 'the instruction of his religion which
confines this Christian saint to these distant solitudes? What a
singular faith it must be which should drive all who embrace it to the
woods and rocks! What would become of our dear Palmyra, were it to be
changed to a Christian city? The same event, I suppose, Julia, would
change it to a desert.'

'I do not think Christianity prescribes this mode of life, though. I do
not know but it may permit it,' replied the princess. 'But of this, the
Hermit will inform us. He may have chosen this retreat on account of his
extreme age, which permits him no longer to engage in the affairs of an
active life.'

'I trust for the sake of Christianity it is so,' added Fausta; 'for I
cannot conceive of a true religion inculcating, or even permitting
inactivity. What would become of the world, if it could be proved that the
gods required us to pass our days in retired contemplation?'

'Yet it cannot be denied,' said Julia, 'that the greatest benefactors of
mankind have been those who have in solitude, and with patient labor,
pursued truth till they have discovered it, and then revealed it to shed
its light and heat upon the world.'

'For my part,' replied Fausta, 'I must think that they who have sowed and
reaped, have been equal benefactors. The essential truths are instinctive
and universal. As for the philosophers, they have, with few exceptions,
been occupied as much about mere frivolities as any Palmyrene lady at her
toilet. Still, I do not deny that the contemplative race is a useful one
in its way. What I say is, that a religion which enjoined a solitary life
as a duty, would be a very mischievous religion. And what is more, any
such precept, fairly proved upon it, would annihilate all its claims to a
divine origin. For certainly, if it were made a religious duty for one man
to turn an idle, contemplative hermit, it would be equally the duty of
every other, and then the arts of life by which we subsist would be
forsaken. Any of the prevalent superstitions, if we may not call them
religions, were better than this.'

'I agree with you entirely,' said Julia; 'but my acquaintance with the
Christian writings is not such as to enable me to say with confidence that
they contain no such permission or injunction. Indeed some of them I have
not even read, and much I do not fully understand. But as I have seen and
read enough to believe firmly that Christianity is a divine religion, my
reason teaches me that it contains no precept such as we speak of.'

We had now, in the course of our walk, reached what we found to be a broad
and level ledge, about half way to the summit of the hill. It was a spot
remarkable for a sort of dark and solemn beauty, being set with huge
branching trees, whose tops were woven into a roof, through which only
here and there the rays of the fierce sun could find their way. The turf
beneath, unincumbered with any smaller growth of tree or shrub, was
sprinkled with flowers that love the shade. The upper limit of this level
space was bounded by precipitous rocks, up which ascent seemed difficult
or impossible, and the lower by similar ones, to descend which seemed
equally difficult or impossible.

'If the abode of the Christian is hereabouts,' we said, 'it seems well
chosen both for its security and the exceeding beauty of the various
objects which greet the eye.'

'Soon as we shall have passed that tumbling rivulet,' said Julia, 'it
will come into view.'

Upon a rude bridge of fallen trunks of trees, we passed the stream as it
crossed our path, and which then shooting over the edge of the precipice,
was lost among the rocks and woods below. A cloud of light spray fell upon
us as we stood upon the bridge, and imparted a most refreshing coolness.

'Where you see,' said Julia, 'that dark entrance, beneath yonder
low-browed rock, is the dwelling of the aged Christian.'

We moved on with slow and silent steps, our spirits partaking of the
stillness and solitariness of the place. We reached the front of the
grotto, without disturbing the meditations of the venerable man. A part of
the rock which formed his dwelling served him for a seat, and another part
projecting after the manner of a shelf, served him for a table, upon which
lay unrolled a large volume. Bending over the book, his lean and
shrivelled finger pointing to the words, and aiding his now dim and feeble
eye, he seemed wholly wrapped in the truths he was contemplating, and
heeded not our presence. We stood still for a moment, unwilling to break a
repose so peaceful and profound. At length, raising his eyes from the
page, they caught the form and face of the princess, who stood nearest to
him. A quick and benignant smile lighted up his features; and rising
slowly to his full height, he bade her welcome, with sweet and tremulous
tones, to his humble roof.

'It is kind in you,' said he,'so soon again to ascend these rough
solitudes, to visit a now unprofitable old, man; and more kind still to
bring others with you. Voices from the world ring a sweet music in my
ear--sweeter than any sound of bird or stream. Enter, friends, if it
please you, and be rested, after the toil of your ascent.'

'I bring you here, father,' said Julia, 'according to my sometime
promise, my friend and companion, the daughter of Gracchus, and with her
a noble Roman, of the house of Piso, lately come hither from the capital
of the world.'

'They are very, very welcome,' replied the saint, 'your presence breaks
most gratefully the monotony of my life.'

'We almost doubted,' said I, 'venerable Father, whether it would please
you to find beneath your roof those who receive not your belief, and what
is much more, belong to a faith which has poured upon you and yours so
full a flood of suffering and reproach. But your countenance assures us
that we have erred.'

'You have, indeed,' replied the sage; 'as a Christian I see in you not
pagans and unbelievers, not followers of Plato and Epicurus, not dwellers
in Rome or Alexandria, but members of the great family of man, and as such
I greet you, and already love you. The design of christianity is to unite
and draw together, not divide and drive asunder. It teaches its disciples,
indeed, to go out and convert the world, but if they cannot convert it, it
still teaches them to love it. My days and my strength have been spent in
preaching Christ to Jews and heathen, and many of those who have heard
have believed. But more have not. These are not my brethren in Christ, but
they are my brethren in God, and I love them as his.'

'These are noble sentiments,' said Fausta. 'Religion has, in almost all
its forms, condemned utterly all who have not received it in the form in
which it has been proposed. Rome, indeed, used to be mild and tolerant of
every shape which the religious sentiment assumed. But since the
appearance of christianity it has wholly changed its policy. I am afraid
it formerly tolerated, only because it saw nothing to fear. Fearing
christianity, it seeks to destroy it. That is scarcely generous of you,
Lucius; nor very wise either--for surely truth can neither be created nor
suppressed by applications of force. Such is not the doctrine of
christianity, if I understand you right.'

'Lady, most certainly not,' he replied. 'Christianity is offered to
mankind, not forced upon them. And this supposes in them the power and the
right to sit in judgement upon its truth. But were not all free judgment
destroyed, and all worthy reception of it therefore, if any penal
consequences--greater or less, of one kind or another, present or
future--followed upon its rejection? Rome has done wickedly, in her aim to
suppress error and maintain truth by force. Is Rome a god to distinguish
with certainty the one from the other? But alas! Rome is not alone to
blame in this. Christians themselves are guilty of the same folly and
crime. They interpret differently the sayings of Christ--as how should
they not?--and the party which is stronger in numbers already begins to
oppress, with hard usage and language, the weaker party, which presumes to
entertain its own opinions. The Christians of Alexandria and Rome, fond of
the ancient philosophy, and desirous to recommend the doctrines of Christ,
by showing their near accordance with it, have, as many think, greatly
adulterated the gospel, by mixing up with its truths the fantastic dreams
of Plato. Others, among whom is our Paul of Antioch, deeming this
injurious and erroneous, aim to restore the Christian doctrine to the
simplicity that belongs to it in the original records, and which, for the
most part, it still retains among the common people. But this is not
willingly allowed. On the contrary, because Paul cannot see with their
eyes and judge with their judgment, he is to be driven from his bishopric.
Thus do the Christians imitate in their treatment of each other their
common enemy, the Roman. They seem already ashamed of the gentleness of
Christ, who would have every mind left in its own freedom to believe as
its own powers enable it to believe. Our good Zenobia, though no
Christian, is yet in this respect the truest Christian. All within her
realm, thought is free as the air that plays among these leaves.'

'But is it not, said Fausta, 'a mark of imperfection in your religion,
that it cannot control and bind to a perfect life its disciples? Methinks
a divine religion should manifest its divinity in the superior goodness
which it forms.'

'Is not that just?' I added.

'A divine religion,' he replied, 'may indeed be expected to show its
heaven-derived power in creating a higher virtue than human systems. And
this, I am sure, christianity does. I may safely challenge the world to
show in human form the perfection which dwelt in Jesus, the founder of
this religion. Yet his character was formed by the power of his own
doctrines. Among his followers, if there have been none so perfect as he,
there have been multitudes who have approached him, and have exhibited a
virtue which was once thought to belong only to philosophers. The world
has been accustomed to celebrate, with almost divine honors, Socrates, and
chiefly because of the greatness of mind displayed by him when condemned
to drink the cup of poison. I can tell you of thousands among the
Christians, among common and unlearned Christians, who have met death, in
forms many times more horrible than that in which the Greek encountered
it, with equal calmness and serenity. This they have been enabled to do
simply through the divine force of a few great truths, which they have
implicitly believed. Beside this, consider the many usages of the world,
which, while others hold them innocent, the Christians condemn them, and
abstain from them. It is not to be denied that they are the reformers of
the age. They are busy, sometimes with an indiscreet and violent zeal, in
new modeling both the opinions and practices of the world. But what then?
Are they to be condemned if a single fault may be charged upon, them? Must
they be perfect, because their religion is divine? This might be so, if it
were of the nature of religion to operate with an irresistible influence
upon the mind, producing an involuntary and forced obedience. But in such
an obedience there would be nothing like what we mean by virtue, but
something quite inferior in the comparison. A religion, for the reason
that it is divine, will, with the more certainty, make its appeals to a
free nature. It will explain the nature and reveal the consequences of
virtue and vice, but will leave the mind free to choose the one or the
other. Christianity teaches, that in goodness, and faithfulness to the
sense of duty, lies the chief good; in these there is a heaven of reward,
not only now and on earth, but throughout an existence truly immortal. Is
it not most evident that, with whatever authority this religion may
propound its doctrines, men not being in a single power coerced, will not,
though they may receive them, yield to them an equal observance? Hence,
even among Christians, there must foe, perhaps ever, much imperfection.'

'Does not this appear to you, Fausta and Piso,' said Julia, as the old man
paused, 'just and reasonable? Can it be an objection to this faith, that
its disciples partake of the common weaknesses of humanity? Otherwise,
religion would be a principle designed, not so much to improve and exalt
our nature, as to alter it.

'We allow it readily to be both just and reasonable.'

'But it seemed to us,' said Fausta, 'as we ascended the mountain, and were
conversing, to be with certainty a proof of imperfection in your
religion--pardon my freedom, we are come as learners, and they who would
learn, must, without restraint, express their doubts--that it recommended
or permitted a recluse and inactive life. Have your days, Father, been
passed in this deep solitude? and has your religion demanded it?'

'Your freedom pleases me,' replied the venerable man; 'and I wonder not at
the question you propose. Not my religion, lady, but an enfeebled and
decrepit frame chains me to this solitude. I have now outlasted a century,
and my powers are wasted and gone. I can do little more than sit and
ponder the truths of this life-giving book, and anticipate the renewed
activity of that immortal being which it promises. The Christian converts,
who dwell beneath those roofs which you see gleaming in the valley below,
supply the few wants which I have. When their labor is done for the day,
they sometimes come up, bringing with them baskets of fresh or dried
fruits, which serve me, together with the few roots and berries which I
myself can gather as I walk this level space, for my food. My thirst I
quench at the brook which you have just passed. Upon this simple but
wholesome nutriment, and breathing this dry mountain air, my days may yet
be prolonged through many years. But I do not covet them, since nature
makes me a prisoner. But I submit, because my faith teaches me to receive
patiently whatever the Supreme Ruler appoints. It is not my religion that
prescribes this manner of life, or permits it, but as the last refuge of
an imbecility like mine. Christianity denounces selfishness, in all its
forms, and what form of selfishness more gross than to spend the best of
one's days in solitary musing and prayer, all to secure one's own
salvation? The founder of this religion led an active and laborious life.
He did good not only to himself by prayer and meditation: he went about
doing it to others--seeking out objects whom he might benefit and bless.
His life was one of active benevolence; and the record of that life is the
religious code of his followers. No condemnation could be more severe than
that which the Prophet of Nazareth would pronounce upon such a life as
mine now is, were it a chosen, voluntary one. But it never has been
voluntary. Till age dried up the sources of my strength, I toiled night
and day in all countries and climates, in the face of every danger, in the
service of mankind. For it is by serving others, that the law of Christ is
fulfilled. Disinterested labor for others constituted the greatness of
Jesus Christ. This constitutes true greatness in his followers. I perceive
that what I say falls upon your ear as a new and strange doctrine. But it
is the doctrine of christianity. It utterly condemns, therefore, a life of
solitary devotion. It is a mischievous influence which is now spreading
outward from the example of that Paul, who suffered so much under the
persecution of the Emperor Decius and who then, flying to the solitudes of
the Egyptian Thebais, has there, in the vigor of his days, buried himself
in a cave of the earth, that he may serve God by forsaking man. His maxim
seems to be, "The farther from man, the nearer to God"---the reverse of
the Christian maxim, "The nearer man, the nearer God." A disciple of Jesus
has truly said: "He who loves not his brother whom he hath seen, how
shall he love God, whom he hath not seen?" This, it may be, Roman, is the
first sentence you have ever heard from the Christian books.'

'I am obliged to confess that it is,' I replied. 'I have heretofore lived
in an easy indifference toward all religions. The popular religion of my
country I early learned to despise. I have perused the philosophers, and
examined their systems, from Pythagoras to Seneca, and am now, what I have
long been, a disciple of none but Pyrrho. My researches have taught me
only how the more ingeniously to doubt. Wearied at length with a vain
inquiry after truth that should satisfy and fill me, I suddenly abandoned
the pursuit, with the resolve never to resume it. I was not even tempted
to depart from this resolution when Christianity offered itself to my
notice; for I confounded it with Judaism, and for that, as a Roman, I
entertained too profound a contempt to bestow upon it a single thought. I
must acknowledge that the reports which I heard, and which I sometimes
read, of the marvellous constancy and serenity of the Christians, under
accumulated sufferings and wrongs, interested my feelings in their behalf;
and the thought often arose, "Must there not be truth to support such
heroism?" But the world went on its way, and I with it, and the Christians
were forgotten. To a Christian, on my voyage across the Mediterranean, I
owe much, for my first knowledge of Christianity. To the Princess Julia I
owe a larger debt still. And now from your lips, long accustomed to
declare its truths, I have heard what makes me truly desirous to hear the
whole of that which, in the glimpses I have been able to obtain, has
afforded so real a satisfaction,'

'Were you to study the Christian books,' said the recluse, 'you would be
chiefly struck perhaps with the plainness and simplicity of the doctrines
there unfolded. You would say that much which you found there, relating to
the right conduct of life, you had already found scattered through the
books of the Greek and Roman moralists. You would be startled by no
strange or appalling truth. You would turn over their leaves in vain in
search of such dark and puzzling ingenuities as try the wits of those who
resort to the pages of the Timæus. A child can understand the essential
truths of Christ. And the value of Christianity consists not in this, that
it puts forth a new, ingenious, and intricate system of philosophy, but
that it adds to recognised and familiar truths divine authority. Some
things are indeed new; and much is new, if that may be called so which,
having been neglected as insignificant by other teachers, has by Christ
been singled out and announced as primal and essential. But the
peculiarity of Christianity lies in this, that its voice, whether heard in
republishing an old and familiar doctrine, or announcing, a new one, is
not the voice of man, but of God. It is a revelation. It is a word from
the invisible, unapproachable Spirit of the universe. For this Socrates
would have been willing to renounce all his wisdom. Is it not this which
we need? We can theorize and conjecture without end, but cannot relieve
ourselves of our doubts. They will assail every work of man. We wish to
repose in a divine assurance. This we have in Christianity. It is a
message from God. It puts an end to doubt and conjecture. Wise men of all
ages have agreed in the belief of One God; but not being able to
demonstrate his being and his unity, they have had no power to change the
popular belief, which has ever tended to polytheism and idolatry,
Christianity teaches this truth with the authority of God himself, and
already has it become the faith of millions. Philosophers have long ago
taught that the only safe and happy life is a virtuous life. Christianity
repeats this great truth, and adds, that it is such a life alone that
conducts to immortality. Philosophers have themselves believed in the
doctrine of a future existence, and have died hoping to live again; and it
cannot be denied that mankind generally have entertained an obscure
expectation of a renewed being after death. The advantage of Christianity
consists in this, that it assures us of the reality of a future life, on
the word and authority of God himself. Jesus Christ taught, that all men
come forth from death, wearing a new spiritual body, and thereafter never
die; and to confirm his teaching, he himself being slain, rose from the
dead, and showed himself to his followers alive, and while they were yet
looking upon him, ascended to some other and higher world. Surely, Roman,
though christianity announced nothing more than these great truths, yet
seeing it puts them forth in the name, and with the authority of God, it
is a vast accession to our knowledge.'

'Indeed it cannot be denied,' I answered. 'It would be a great happiness
too to feel such an assurance, as he must who believes in your religion,
of another life. Death would then lose every terror. We could approach the
close of life as calmly and cheerfully, sometimes as gladly, as we now do
the close of a day of weary travel or toil. It would be but to lie down
and rest, and sleep, and rise again refreshed by the slumber for the
labors and enjoyments of a life which should then be without termination,
and yet unattended by fatigue. I can think of no greater felicity than to
be able to perceive the truth of such a religion as yours.'

'This religion of the Christians,' said Fausta, 'seems to be full of
reasonable and desirable truth--if it all be truth. But how is this great
point to be determined? How are we to know whether the founder of this
religion was in truth a person holding communication with God? The mind
will necessarily demand a large amount of evidence, before it can believe
so extraordinary a thing. I greatly fear, Julia, lest I may never be a
Christian. What is the evidence, Father, with which you trust, to convince
the mind of an inquirer? It must possess potency, for all the world seems
flocking to the standard of Christ.'

'I think, indeed,' replied the saint, 'that it possesses potency. I
believe its power to be irresistible. But do you ask in sincerity,
daughter of Gracchus, what to do in order to believe in christianity?'

'I do, indeed,' answered Fausta. 'But know that my mind is one not easy
of belief.'

'Christianity, lady, asks no forced or faint assent. It appeals to human
reason, and it blames not the conscientious doubter or denier. When it
requires you to examine, and constitutes you judge, it condemns no honest
decision. The mind that approaches christianity must be free, and ought to
be fearless. Hesitate not to reject that which evidence does not
substantiate. But examine and weigh well the testimony. If then you would
know whether christianity be true, it is first of all needful that you
read and ponder the Christian books. These books prove themselves. The
religion of Christ is felt to be true, as you read the writings in which
it is recorded. Just as the works of nature prove to the contemplative
mind the being of a God, so do the books of the Christians prove the truth
of their religion. As you read them, as your mind embraces the teaching,
and above all, the character of Christ, you involuntarily exclaim: "This
must be true; the sun in the heavens does not more clearly point to a
divine author, than do the contents of these books." You find them utterly
unlike any other books--differing from them just in the same infinite and
essential way that the works of God differ from the works of man.'

He paused, and we were for a few moments silent. At length Fausta said:
'This is all very new and strange, Father! Why, Julia, have you never
urged me to read these books?'

'The princess,' resumed the hermit, 'has done wisely co leave you to the
promptings of your own mind. The more every thing in religion is voluntary
and free, the more worth attaches to it. Christ would not that any should
be driven or urged to him; but that they should come. Nevertheless the way
must be pointed out. I have now shown you one way. Let me tell you of
another. The Christian books bear the names of the persons who profess to
have written them, and who declare themselves to have lived and to have
recorded events which happened in the province of Judea, in the reigns of
Tiberius and Nero. Now it is by no means a difficult matter for a person,
desirous to arrive at the truth, to institute such inquiries, as shall
fully convince him that such persons lived then and there, and performed
the actions ascribed to them. We are not so far removed from those times,
but that by resorting to the places where the events of the Christian
history took place, we can readily satisfy ourselves of their truth--if
they be true--by inquiring of the descendants of those who were concerned
in the very transactions recorded. This thousands and thousands have done,
and they believe in the events--strange as they are--of the Christian
history as implicitly as they do in the events of the Roman history, for
the same period of time. Listen, my children, while I rehearse my own
experience as a believer in Christ.

'My father, Cyprian, a native of Syria, attained, as I have attained, to
an extreme old age. At the age of five score years and ten, he died within
the walls of this quiet dwelling of nature's own hewing, and there at the
root of that ancient cedar his bones repose. He was for twenty years a
contemporary of St. John the evangelist--of that John, who was one of the
companions of Jesus the founder of christianity, and who ere he died wrote
a history of Jesus, of his acts and doctrine. From the very lips of this
holy man, did the youthful but truth-loving and truth-seeking Cyprian
receive his knowledge of christianity. He sat and listened while the aged
apostle--the past rising before him with the distinctness of a
picture--told of Jesus; of the mild majesty of his presence; of the power
and sweetness of his discourse; of the love he bore toward all that lived;
of his countenance radiant with joy when, in using the miraculous power
intrusted to show descent from God, he gave health to the pining sick,
and restored the dying and the dead to the arms of weeping friends. There
was no point of the history which the apostle has recorded for the
instruction of posterity, which Cyprian did not hear, with all its minuter
circumstances, from his own mouth. Nay, he was himself a witness of the
exercise of that same power of God which was committed without measure to
Jesus, on the part of the apostle. He stood by--his spirit wrapt and
wonderstruck--while at the name of Jesus the lame walked, the blind
recovered their sight, and the sick leaped from their couches. When this
great apostle was fallen asleep, my father, by the counsel of St. John,
and that his faith might be yet farther confirmed, travelled over all the
scenes of the Christian history. He visited the towns and cities of Judea,
where Jesus had done his marvellous works. He conversed with the children
of those who had been subjects of the healing power of the Messiah. He was
with those who themselves had mingled among the multitudes who encompassed
him, when Lazarus was summoned from the grave, and who clung to the cross
when Jesus was upon it dying, and witnessed the sudden darkness, and felt
the quaking of the earth. Finding, wherever he turned his steps in Judea,
from Bethlehem to Nazareth, from the Jordan to the great sea, the whole
land filled with those who, as either friends or enemies, had hung upon
the steps of Jesus, and seen his miracles, what was he, to doubt whether
such a person as Jesus had ever lived, or had ever done those wonderful
works? He doubted not; he believed, even as he would have done had he
himself been present as a disciple. In addition to this, he saw at the
places where they were kept, the evangelic histories, in the writing of
those who drew them up; and at Rome, at Corinth, at Philippi, at Ephesus,
he handled with his own hands the letters of Paul, which he wrote to the
Christians of those places; and in those places and others, did he dwell
and converse with multitudes who had seen and heard the great apostle, and
had witnessed the wonders he had wrought. I, the child of Cyprian's old
age, heard from him all that I have now recounted to you. I sat at his
feet, as he had sat at the evangelist's, and from him I heard the various
experiences of his long, laborious, and troubled life. Could I help but
believe what I heard?--and so could I help but be a Christian? My father
was a man--and all Syria knows him to have been such an one--of a
passionate love of truth. At any moment would he have cheerfully suffered
torture and death, sooner than have swerved from the strictest allegiance
to its very letter. Nevertheless, he would not that I should trust to him
alone, but as the apostle had sent him forth, so he sent me forth, to read
the evidences of the truth of this religion in the living monuments of
Judea. I, too, wandered a pilgrim over the hills and plains of Galilee. I
sat in the synagogue at Nazareth, I dwelt in Capernaum. I mused by the
shore of the Galilean lake. I haunted the ruins of Jerusalem, and sought
out the places where the Savior of men had passed the last hours of his
life. Night after night I wept and prayed upon the Mount of Olives.
Wherever I went, and among whomsoever I mingled, I found witnesses
eloquent and loud, and without number, to all the principal facts and
events of our sacred history. Ten thousand traditions of the life and acts
of Christ and his apostles, all agreeing substantially with the written
records, were passing from mouth to mouth, and descending from sire to
son. The whole land, in all its length and breadth, was but one vast
monument to the truth of Christianity. And for this purpose it was
resorted to by the lovers of truth from all parts of the world. Did doubts
arise in the mind of a dweller in Rome, or Carthage, or Britain,
concerning the whole or any part of the Christian story, he addressed
letters to well known inhabitants of the Jewish cities, or he visited them
in person, and by a few plain words from another, or by the evidence of
his own eyes and ears, every doubt was scattered. When I had stored my
mind with knowledge from these original sources, I then betook myself to
some of the living oracles of Christian wisdom, with the fame of whose
learning and piety the world was filled. From the great Clement of Rome,
from Dionysius at Alexandria, from Tertullian at Carthage, from that
wonder of human genius, Origen, in his school at Cæsarea, I gathered
together what more was needed to arm me for the Christian warfare; and I
then went forth full of faith myself to plant its divine seeds in the
hearts of whosoever would receive them. In this good work my days have
been spent. I have lived and taught but to unfold to others the evidences
which have made me a Christian. My children,'continued he, 'why should you
not receive my words? why should I desire to deceive you? I am an old man,
trembling upon the borders of the grave. Can I have any wish to injure
you? Is it conceivable that, standing thus already as it were before the
bar of God, I could pour false and idle tales into your ears? But if I
have spoken truly, can you refuse to believe? But I must not urge. Use
your freedom. Inquire for yourselves. Let the leisure and the wealth which
are yours carry you to read with your own eyes that wide-spread volume
which you will find among the mountains and valleys of the holy land.
Princess, my strength is spent, or there is much more I could gladly add.'

'My friends,' said the princess, 'are, I am sure, grateful for what you
have said, and they have heard.'

'Indeed we are,' said Fausta, 'and heartily do we thank you. One thing
more would I ask. What think you of the prospects of the Christian faith?
Are the common reports of its rapid ascendency to be heeded? Is it making
its way, as we are told, even into the palaces of kings? I know, indeed,
what happens in Palmyra; but elsewhere, holy father?'

As Fausta spoke these words, the aged man seemed wrapped in thought. His
venerable head sank upon his breast; his beard swept the ground. At
length, slowly raising his head, and with eyes lifted upward, he said, in
deep and solemn tones: 'It cannot, it cannot be difficult to read the
future. It must be so. I see it as if it were already come. The throne
which is red with blood, and he who sits thereon, wielding a sword
dropping blood, sinks--sinks--and disappears; and one all white, and he
who sits thereon, having upon his frontlet these words, "Peace on earth
and good will toward men," rises and fills its place. And I hear a
movement as of a multitude which no man number, coming and worshipping
around the throne. God of the whole earth, arise!--visit it with thy
salvation! Hasten the coming of the universal kingdom of thy Son, when
all shall know thee, and love to God and love to man possess and fill
every soul.'

As the venerable man uttered this prayer, Julia looked steadfastly upon
him, and a beauty more than of earth seemed to dwell upon her countenance.

'Father,' said Fausta, 'we are not now fair judges of truth. Your
discourse has wrought so upon us, that we need reflection before we can
tell what we ought to believe.'

'That is just,' said the saint; 'to determine right, we must think as well
as feel. And that your minds may the sooner return to the proper state,
let me set before you of such as my dwelling will afford.'

Saying this, he moved from the seat which till now he had retained, and
closing the volume he had been reading, laid it away with care, saying as
he did so, 'This, children, is the Christian's book; not containing all
those writings which we deem to be of authority in describing our faith,
but such as are most needful. It is from reading this, and noting as you
read the inward marks of honesty, and observing how easy it were, even
now, by visiting Judea, to convict its authors of error and falsehood, had
they been guilty of either, that your minds will be best able to judge of
the truth and worth of Christianity.'

'At another time, father,' said Fausta, 'it would give me great delight,
and equally too, I am sure, our friend from Rome, if you would read to us
portions of that volume, that we may know somewhat of its contents from
your lips, accompanied too by such comments as you might deem useful to
learners. It is thus we have often heard the Greek and Roman writers from
the mouth of Longinus.'

'Whenever,' he replied, 'you shall be willing to ascend these steep and
rugged paths, in pursuit of truth, I in my turn will stand prepared to
teach. To behold such listeners before me, brings back the life of
former days.'

He then, with short and interrupted steps, busied himself in bringing
forth his humble fare. Bread and fruits, and olives, formed our light
repast, together with ice-cold water, which Julia, seizing from his hand
the hermit's pitcher, brought from a spring that gushed from a
neighboring rock.

This being ended, and with it much various and agreeable conversation, in
the course of which the Christian patriarch gave many striking anecdotes
of his exposed and toilsome life, we rose, and bidding farewell, with
promises to return again, betook ourselves to our horses, and mounting
them, were soon at the gates of the palace.

I confess myself interested in the question of Christianity. The old
religions are time-worn, and in effect dead. To the common people, when
believed, they are as often injurious as useful--to others, they are the
objects of open, undisguised contempt. Yet religion, in some form, the
human mind must have. We feel the want of it as we do of food and drink.
But, as in the case of food and drink, it must be something that we shall
perceive to nourish and strengthen, not to debilitate and poison. In my
searches through antiquity, I have found no system which I could rest in
as complete and satisfying. They all fail in many vital points. They are
frequently childish in their requisitions and their principles; their
morality is faulty; their spirit narrow and exclusive; and more than all,
they are without authority. The principles which are to guide, control,
and exalt our nature, it seems to me, must proceed from the author of that
nature. The claim of Christianity to be a religion provided for man by the
Creator of man, is the feature in it which draws me toward it. This claim
I shall investigate and scan, with all the ability and learning I can
bring to the work. But whatever I or you may think of it, or ultimately
determine, every eye must see with what giant steps it is striding
onward--temples, religions, superstitions, and powers crumbling and
dissolving at its approach. Farewell.



Letter VIII.



The words of that Christian recluse, my Curtins, still ring in my ear. I
know not how it is, but there is a strange power in all that I have heard
from any of that sect. You remember how I was struck by the manner, the
countenance, and above all by the sentiments of Probus, the Christian whom
I encountered on his way to Carthage. A still stronger feeling possesses
me, when I hear the same things from the lips of Julia. It seems as if she
herself, and the religion she discourses of, must proceed from the same
author. She is certainly a divine work. And there is such an alliance
between her and those truths, that I am ready almost to believe that for
this reason alone they must have that very divine origin which is claimed
for them. Is there any thing in our Roman superstitions, or philosophy
even, that is at all kindred to the spirit of a perfect woman?--any thing
suited to her nature? Has it ever seemed as if woman were in any respect
the care of the gods? In this, Christianity differs from all former
religions and philosophies. It is feminine. I do not mean by that, weak or
effeminate. But in its gentleness, in the suavity of its tone, in the
humanity of its doctrines, in the deep love it breathes toward all of
human kind, in the high rank it assigns to the virtues which are
peculiarly those of woman, in these things and many others, it is
throughout for them as well as for us--almost more for them than for us.
In this feature of it, so strange and new, I see marks of a wisdom beyond
that of any human fabricator. A human inventor would scarcely have
conceived such a system; and could he have conceived it, would not have
dared to publish it. It would have been in his judgment to have wantonly
forfeited the favor of the world. The author of Christianity, with a
divine boldness, makes his perfect man, in the purity and beauty of his
character, the counterpart of a perfect woman. The virtues upon which
former teachers have chiefly dwelt, are by him almost unnoticed, and those
soft and feminine ones, which others seem to have utterly forgotten, he
has exalted to the highest place. So that, as I before said, Julia
discoursing to me of Christianity is in herself, in the exact accordance
between her mind and heart and that faith, the strongest argument I have
yet found of its truth. I do not say that I am a believer. I am not. But I
cannot say what the effect may be of a few more interviews with the hermit
of the mountain, in company with the princess. His arguments, illustrated
by her presence, will carry with them not a little force.

When, after our interview with the Christian, we had returned to the
Queen's villa, we easily persuaded ourselves that the heat of the day was
too great for us to set out, till toward the close of it, for the city. So
we agreed, in the absence of the Queen and other guests, to pass the day
after our own manner, and by ourselves. The princess proposed that we
should confine ourselves to the cool retreats near the fountain of the
Elephant, made also more agreeable to us than any other place by the
delightful hours we had sat there listening to the melodious accents of
the great Longinus. To this proposal we quickly and gladly assented. Our
garments being then made to correspond to the excessive heats of the
season, soothed by the noise of the falling waters, and fanned by slaves
who waved to and fro huge leaves of the palm tree, cut into graceful
forms, and set in gold or ivory, we resigned ourselves to that sleepy but
yet delicious state which we reach only a few times in all our lives, when
the senses are perfectly satisfied and filled, and merely to live is bliss
enough. But our luxurious ease was slightly diversified with additions and
changes no ways unwelcome. Ever and anon slaves entered, bearing trays
laden with every rare and curious confection which the art of the East
supplies, but especially with drinks cooled by snow brought from the
mountains of India. These, in the most agreeable manner, recruited our
strength when exhausted by fits of merriment, or when one had become weary
of reading or reciting a story for the amusement of the others, and the
others as weary, or more weary, by listening. It were in vain to attempt
to recall for your and Lucilia's entertainment the many pleasant things
which were both said and done on this day never to be forgotten. And
besides, perhaps, were they set down in order and sent to Rome, the spicy
flavor which gave life to them here might all exhale, and leave them flat
and dull. Suffice it therefore to say, that in our judgment many witty and
learned sayings were uttered--for the learning, that must rest upon our
declaration--for the wit, the slaves will bear witness to it, as they did
then, by their unrestrained bursts of laughter.

It was with no little reluctance that, as the last rays of the sun fell
upon the highest jet of the fountain, we heard the princess declare that
the latest hour had come, and we must fain prepare for the city. A little
time sufficed for this, and we were soon upon our horses threading the
defiles among the hills, or flying over the plains. A few hours brought
us within the gates of the city. Leaving Julia at the palace of the
Queen, we turned toward the house of Gracchus. Its lofty front soon rose
before us. As we passed into the court-yard, the first sound that greeted
me was Milo's blundering voice: 'Welcome, most noble Gallienus, welcome
again to Palmyra!'

'I am not,' said I, 'quite an emperor yet, but notwithstanding, I am glad
to be in Palmyra--more glad to be at the house of Gracchus--and glad most
of all to see Gracchus himself at home, and well'--the noble Roman--as I
shall call him--at that moment issuing from a door of the palace, and
descending at a quick pace the steps, to assist Fausta from her horse.

'We are not,' said he, 'long separated; but to those who really love, the
shortest separation is a long one, and the quickest return an occasion of
joy.' Saying so, he embraced and kissed his beautiful daughter, and
grasped cordially my hand.

'Come,' added he, 'enter and repose. Your ride has been a sharp one, as
your horses declare, and the heat is great. Let us to the banqueting-hall,
as the coolest, and there sit and rest.' So we were again soon within that
graceful apartment, where I had first sat and tasted the hospitalities of
Palmyra. The gods above were still at their feast, drinking or drunken.
Below, we sat at the open windows, and with more temperance regaled
ourselves with the cool air that came to us, richly laden with the
fragrance of surrounding flowers, and with that social converse that is
more inspiring than Falernian, or the soft Palmyrene. After talking of
other things, Gracchus addressed me saying:

'But is it not now time, Lucius, that a letter at least came from Isaac? I
have forborne to inquire, from time to time, as I would do nothing to add
to your necessary anxiety. It surely now however is right to consider the
steps next to be taken, if he shall have failed in his enterprise.'

'Isaac and Calpurnius,' I replied, 'are never absent from my thoughts, and
I have already resolved--the gods willing and favoring--that when a period
of sufficient length shall have elapsed, and the Jew does not appear,
having either perished on the way or else in the capital of the Great
King--myself to start, as I at first designed to do, upon this expedition,
and either return with my brother, or else die also in the endeavor. Seek
not, Fausta, as I perceive you are about to do, to turn me from my
purpose. It will be--it ought to be--in vain. I can consent no longer to
live thus in the very heart of life, while this cloud of uncertainty hangs
over the fate of one so near to me. Though I should depute the service of
his rescue to a thousand others, my own inactivity is insupportable, and
reproaches me like a crime.'

'I was not, as you supposed, Lucius,' replied Fausta, 'about to draw you
away from your purpose, but, on the contrary, to declare my approbation of
it. Were I Lucius, my thoughts would be, I am sure, what yours now are;
and to-morrow's sun would light me on the way to Ecbatana. Nay, father, I
would not wait a day longer. Woman though I am, I am almost ready to offer
myself a companion of our friend on this pious service.'

'I shall not,' said Gracchus, 'undertake to dissuade our friend from what
seems now to be his settled purpose. Yet still, for our sakes, for the
sake of the aged Portia, and all in Rome, I could wish--supposing Isaac
should fail--that one more attempt might be made in the same way, ere so
much is put at hazard. It needs no great penetration to see how highly
prized by Persia must be the possession of such a trophy of her prowess as
the head of the ancient house of Piso--with what jealousy his every
movement would be watched, and what danger must wait upon any attempt at
his deliverance. Moreover, while a mere hireling might, if detected, have
one chance among a thousand of pardon and escape, even that were wanting
to you. Another Piso would be either another footstool of the Persian
despot, while life should last, or else he would swing upon a Persian
gibbet, and so would perish the last of a noble name.'

'I cannot deny that reason is on your side,' I said, in reply to this
strong case of Gracchus, 'but feeling is on mine, and the contest is never
an equal one. Feeling is, perhaps, the essence of reason, of which no
account need or can be given, and ought to prevail. But however this may
be, I feel that I am right, and so I must act.'

'But let us now think of nothing else,' said Fausta, 'than that before
another day is ended, we shall get intelligence of Isaac. Have you,
Lucius, inquired, since your return, of Demetrius?'

'Milo is now absent on that very errand,' I replied, 'and here he is,
giving no signs of success.'

Milo at the same moment entered the hall, and stated that Demetrius was
himself absent from the city, but was every moment expected, and it was
known that he had been seeking anxiously--the preceding day--for me. While
Milo was yet speaking, a messenger was announced, inquiring for me, and
before I could reach the extremity of the apartment, Demetrius himself
entered the room in haste, brandishing in his hand a letter, which he knew
well to be from Isaac.

''Tis his own hand,' said he, 'The form of his letters is not to be
mistaken. Not even the hand of Demetrius can cut with more grace the Greek
character. Observe, Roman, the fashion of his touch. Isaac would have
guided a rare hand at the graving tool. But these Jews shun the nicer
arts. They are a strange people.'

'Quickly,' said I, interrupting the voluble Greek, 'as you love the gods,
deliver to me the letter! By and by we will discourse of these
things'--and seizing the epistle, I ran with it to another apartment,
first to devour it myself.

I cannot tell you, dear friends, with what eagerness I drank in the
contents of the letter, and with what ecstasy of joy I leaped and shouted
at the news it brought. In one word, my brother lives, and it is possible
that before this epistle to you shall be finished, he himself will sit at
my side. But to put you in possession of the whole case, I shall
transcribe for you the chief parts of Isaac's careful and minute account,
preserving for your amusement much of what in no way whatever relates to
the affair in hand, and is useful only as it will present a sort of
picture of one of this strange tribe. As soon as I had filled myself with
its transporting contents, I hastened to the hall where I had left Fausta
and Gracchus, to whom--Demetrius having in the mean time taken his
departure--I quickly communicated its intelligence, and received their
hearty congratulations, and then read it to them very much as I now
transcribe it for you. You will now acknowledge my obligations to this
kind-hearted Jew, and will devoutly bless the gods for my accidental
encounter with him on board the Mediterranean trader. Here now is the
letter itself.

ISAAC, _the Son of Isaac of Rome, to the most noble_ L. MANLIUS Piso,
_at Palmyra_:

That I am alive, Roman, after the perils of my journey, and the worse
perils of this Pagan city, can be ascribed to nothing else than the
protecting arm of the God of our nation. It is new evidence to me, that
somewhat is yet to be achieved by my ministry, for the good of my
country. That I am here in this remote and benighted region, that I
should have adventured hither in the service of a Roman to save one Roman
life, when, were the power mine, I would cut off every Roman life, from
the babe at the breast to the silver head, and lay waste the kingdom of
the great Mother of Iniquity with fire and sword, is to me a thing so
wonderful, that I refer it all to the pleasure of that Power, who orders
events according to a plan and wisdom impenetrable by us. Think not,
Roman, that I have journeyed so far for the sake of thy two talents of
gold--though that is considerable. And the mention of this draws my mind
to a matter, overlooked in the stipulations entered into between thee and
me, at my dwelling in Palmyra. Singular, that so weighty a part of that
transaction should have been taken no note of! Now I must trust it wholly
to thee, Piso, and feel that I may safely do so. In case of my death, the
double of the recompense agreed upon was to be paid, in accordance with
directions left. But what was to be done in case of thy death? Why, most
thoughtful Isaac--most prudent of men--for this thou didst make no
provision! And yet may not Piso die; as well as Isaac? Has a Roman more
lives than a Jew? Nay, how know I but thou art now dead, and no one
living to do me justice? See to this, excellent Roman. Thou wouldst not
have me go unrequited for all this hazard and toil. Let thy heirs be
bound, by sure and legal instruments, to make good to me all thou hast
bound thyself to pay. Do this, and thy gods and my God prosper thee!
Forget it not. Let it be done as soon as these words are read. Demetrius
will show thee one who will draw up a writing in agreement with both the
Palmyrene and Roman Law. Unheard of heedlessness! But this I thought not
about till I took my pen to write.

What was I saying?--that I came not for thy gold--that is, not for that
solely or chiefly. For what, and why, then? Because, as I have hinted, I
felt myself driven by an invisible power to this enterprise. I wait with,
patience to know what its issue is to be.

Now let me inform thee of my journey and my doings. But first, in one
brief word, let me relieve thy impatience by saying, I think thy brother
is to be rescued! No more of this at present, but all in order. When I
parted from thee that night, I had hardly formed my plan, though my mind,
quick in all its workings, did suddenly conceive one way in which it
appeared possible to me to compass the desired object. Perhaps you will
deem it a piece of rashness rather than of courage so quickly to undertake
your affair, I should call it so too, did I not also catch dimly in the
depth of the Heavens the form of the finger of God. This thou wilt not and
canst not understand. It is beyond thee. Is it not so? But, Roman, I trust
the day is to come when by my mouth, if not by another's, thou shalt hear
enough to understand that truth is to be found no where but in Moses.
Avoid Probus. I fear me he is already in Palmyra. There is more cunning in
him than is good. With that deep face and serene air he deceives many. All
I say is, shun him. To be a Roman unbeliever is better than to be a
Christian heretic. But to my journey.

The morning after I parted from thee saw me issuing at an early hour from
the Persian Gate, and with my single Ethiopian slave bearing toward the
desert, I took with me but a light bale of merchandise, that I might not
burden my good dromedary. Than mine, there is not a fleeter in the whole
East. One nearly as good, and at a huge price, did I purchase for my
slave. 'T was too suddenly bought to be cheaply bought. But I was not
cozened. It proved a rare animal. I think there lives not the man in
Palmyra or Damascus who could blind Isaac. I determined to travel at the
greatest speed we and our beasts could bear, so we avoided as far as we
could the heats of day, and rode by night. The first day being through the
peopled regions of the Queen's dominions, and through a cultivated
country, we travelled at our ease; and not unfrequently at such places as
I saw promised well, did we stop, and while our good beasts regaled
themselves upon the rich herbage or richer grain, trafficked. In this
surely I erred not. For losing, as I have done by this distant and
unwonted route, the trade of Ctesiphon, 't was just, was it not, that to
the extent possible, without great obstruction thrown in the way of your
affairs, I should repair the evil of that loss? Truth to speak, it was
only because my eye foresaw some such profitings on the way, that I made
myself contented with but two gold talents of Jerusalem. Two days were
passed thus, and on the third we entered upon a barren region--barren as
where the prophet found no food but such as birds from Heaven brought him.
But why speak of this to thee? O, that thou wouldst but once only once,
sit at the feet of that man of God, Simon Ben Gorah! Solomon was not more
wise. His words are arrows with two heads from a golden bow. His reasons
weigh as the mountains of Lebanon. They break and crush all on whom they
fall. Would, Roman, they might sometime fall on thee! The third day we
were on this barren region, and the next fairly upon the desert. Now did
we reap the benefit of our good beasts. The heat was like that of the
furnace of Nebuchadnezzar, out of which the three children, Shadrach,
Meshach, and Abednego came, through the power of God, unscorched. And
moreover, they were soon put to an unwonted and unlooked for burden, and
in such a manner as, to thy wonder, I shall relate.

It was a day the air of which was like the air of that
furnace--burning--burning hot. Death was written upon the whole face of
the visible earth. Where leaves had been, there were none now, or they
crumbled into ashes as the hand touched them. The atmosphere, when moved
by the wind, brought not, as it is used to do, a greater coolness, but a
fiercer heat. It was full of flickering waves that danced up and down with
a quivering motion, and dazzled and blinded the eye that looked upon them.
And the sand was not like that which for the most part is met with on that
desert stretching from the Mediterranean to Palmyra, and of which thou
hast had some experience--heavy, and hard, and seamed with cracks--but
fine, and light, and raised into clouds by every breath of wind, and
driven into the skin like points of needles. When the wind, as frequently
it did, blew with violence, we could only stop and bury our faces in our
garments, our poor beasts crying out with pain. It was on such a day,
having, because there was no place of rest, been obliged to endure all the
noonday heat, that, when the sun was at the highest and we looked eagerly
every way for even a dry and leafless bush that we might crouch down
beneath its shade, we saw at a distance before us the tall trunk of a
cedar, bleached to ivory, and twinkling like a pharos under the hot rays.
We slowly approached it, Hadad, my Ethiopian, knowing it as one of the
pillars of the desert.

'There it has stood and shone a thousand years,' said he; 'and but for
such marks, who could cross these seas of sand, where your foot-mark is
lost, as soon as made?' After a few moments' pause, he again exclaimed:
'And by the beard of holy Abraham! a living human being sits at the
root--or else mayhap my eyes deceive me, and I see only the twisted roots
of the tree.'

''T is too far for my eyes to discern aught but the blasted trunk. No
living creature can dwell here. 'T is the region of death only.'

A blast of the desert struck us at the moment, and well nigh buried us in
its rushing whirlwind of sand. We stood still, closed our eyes, and buried
our faces in the folds of our garments.

'Horrible and out of nature!' I cried--'the sun blazing without a cloud as
big as a locust to dim his ray, and yet these gusts, like the raging of a
tempest. The winds surely rise. Providence be our guide out of this valley
of fire and death!'

'There is no providence here,' said the slave, 'nor any where; else why
these savage and dreary deserts, which must be crossed, and yet we die in
doing it.'

'Hold thy peace, blasphemer!' I could not but rejoin, 'and take heed
lest thy impious tongue draw down a whirlwind of God to the destruction
of us both.'

'The curse of Arimanes'--began the irritated slave--when suddenly he
paused, and cried out in another tone: 'Look! look! Isaac, and see now
for thyself: I am no Jew, if there sit not a woman at the root of
yonder tree,'

I looked, and now that we had drawn nearer, and the wind had subsided for
an instant, I plainly beheld the form of a woman, bent over as if in the
act of holding and defending an infant. I believed it a delusion of Satan.

'It is awful,' said I; 'but let us hasten; if it be a reality, our coming
must be as the descent of angels.'

I pressed on my weary animal, and in a few moments we stood before
what seemed indeed a human being, of flesh and bone--and what was
more wonderful still, a woman. Yet she stirred not, nor gave other
sign of life.

'Is the breath of life yet in you?' I cried out--not doubting, however,
that whoever it was, death had already released her from her misery--and
at the same time laid my hand upon her shoulder. At which she started, and
lifting up her head, the very ghastliness of death stamped upon every
feature, she shrieked: 'I drown! I drown! Hassan, save me!' and her head
fell again upon her knees.

'Poor fool,' said I, 'thou art upon the sands of the desert, and thou
dreamest: awake!--awake!--and here is water for thee--real water.'

At which she waked indeed, with a convulsive start, and while with one
hand she held fast her child--for a child was indeed laid away among the
folds of her garments--with the other she madly grasped the small cup I
held out to her, and tearing aside the covering from the face of the
infant, she forced open its mouth, and poured in some of the water we gave
her, watching its effect. Soon as the little one gave signs of life, she
drank the remainder at a draught, crying out, 'More! more!' Our water, of
which we had as yet good store, though hot as the wind itself, quickly
restored both mother and child.

'And now tell me, miserable woman, what direful chance has brought and
left thee here?--but hasten--speak quickly as thou canst--and dost thou
look for any one to come to thy relief?'

'Robbers of the desert,' said she, 'have either murdered or carried into
slavery my husband, and destroyed and scattered the caravan of which we
made a part. I am alone in the desert; and I know of no relief but such
as you can give. Leave us not, if you are men, to perish in these
burning sands!'

'Fear not that I will leave you,' said I: 'what I can spare, shall freely
be thine. But time is precious, for we are yet but midway the desert, and
the signs of the heavens portend wind and whirlwind: hasten then and mount
the dromedary of my slave, while I upon mine-bear as stronger than
thou--the child.'

'Isaac,' here muttered Hadad, in an undertone, 'art thou mad? Is thy
reason wholly gone? It is scarcely to be hoped that we alone may cross in
safety what remains of the desert, beset as we are by these sweeping
gusts, and wilt thou oppress our fainting beasts with this new burden?'

'Thou accursed of God! wouldst thou leave these here to perish? I believed
not before that out of hell there could be so black a soul. Bring down thy
dromedary. One word of hesitancy, and thy own carcass shall bleach upon
the sands.'

I knew well who I was dealing with--that I was safe from immediate
violence, though not from ultimate revenge.

Hadad then drew up his beast, which kneeling received the woman, while I
took in my arms the child. We then set forward at an increased pace, to
reach before light, if possible, the 'place of springs,' where a small
green spot, watered by fountains which never fail, blesses these
inhospitable plains.

Not a cloud was to be seen in all the compass of the heavens, yet the
winds raged. The blueness of the sky was gone, and the whole inflamed dome
above us was rather of the color of molten brass, the sun being but its
brightest and hottest spot. At a distance we saw clouds of sand whirled
aloft, and driven fiercely over the boundless plain, any one of which, it
seemed to us, if it should cross our path, would bury us under its moving
mass. We pressed on, trembling and silent through apprehension. The blood
in my veins seemed hotter than the sand, or the sun that beat upon my
face. Roman, thou canst form no conception of the horrors of this day. But
for my faith, I should have utterly failed. What couldst thou have
done?--nay, or the Christian Probus? But I will not taunt thee. I will
rather hope. The wind became more and more violent. The sand was driven
before it like chaff. Sometimes the tempest immediately around us would
abate, but it only served to fill us with new apprehensions, by revealing
to us the tossings of this great deep, in the distance. At one of these
moments, as I was taking occasion to speak a word of comfort to the half
dead mother, and cherish the little one whom I bore, a sound as of the
roar of ocean caught my ear--more awful than aught I had yet heard--and at
the same time a shriek and a shout from Hadad, 'God of Israel, save us!
The sand! the sand!'

I looked in the direction of the sound, and there in the south it
looked--God, how terrible to behold!--as if the whole plain were risen
up, and were about to fall upon us.

''T is vain to fly!' I cried aloud to Hadad, who was urging his animal to
its utmost speed. 'Let us perish together. Besides, observe the heaviest
and thickest of the cloud is in advance of us.'

The mother of the child cried out, as Hadad insanely hastened on, for her
offspring, to whom I answered: 'Trust the young Ishmael to me--fear me
not--cleave to the dromedary.'

Hardly were the words spoken, when the whirlwind struck us. We were dashed
to the earth as we had been weeds. My senses were for a time lost in the
confusion and horror of the scene. I only knew that I had been torn from
my dromedary--borne along and buried by the sand--and that the young child
was still in my arms. In the first moment of consciousness, I found myself
struggling to free myself from the sand which was heaped around and over
me. In this, after a time, I succeeded, and in restoring to animation the
poor child, choked and blinded, yet--wonderful indeed!--not dead. I then
looked around for Hadad and the woman, but they were no where to be seen.
I shouted aloud, but there was no answer. The sand had now fallen--the
wind had died away--and no sound met my ear, but the distant rumbling of
the retreating storm. Not far from me, my own dromedary stood, partly
buried in sand, and vainly endeavoring to extricate himself. With my aid,
this was quickly effected. I was soon upon his back. But I knew not which
way to turn. My dependence was upon Hadad, familiar with the route. The
sun however had declined sensibly toward the west--I knew that my general
direction was toward the east and north, so that with some certainty as to
the true path, I sorrowfully recommenced my journey. Have I not thy pity,
Roman? Has a worse case ever come to thy ear? I will not distress thee by
reciting my sufferings all the way to the 'place of springs,' which by the
next morning, plodding on wearily through the night, I safely reached.

There one of the first objects that greeted me, was Hadad and the mother
of my Ishmael. I approached them unobserved, as they sat on the border of
a spring. In the midst of other travellers, some of whom I saw were
comforting the wailing Hagar--and, without a word, dropped the young child
into the lap of its mother. Who shall describe the transports of her joy?
'T was worth, Piso, the journey and all its hazards.

How refreshing it was to lie here on the cool soil, beneath the shade of
the grateful palm, enjoying every moment of existence, and repairing the
injuries the journey had inflicted upon ourselves and our beasts! Two days
we passed in this manner. While here, Hadad related what befel him after
our separation. Owing to his urging on his animal in that mad way, at the
time I called out to him, instead of stopping or retreating, he was
farther within the heart of the cloud than I, and was more rudely handled.

'Soon as the blast fell upon us,' said he, 'that instant was my reason
gone. I knew nothing for I cannot tell how long. But when I came to
myself, and found that I was not in the place of the wicked--whereat I
rejoiced and was amazed--I discovered, on looking round, that my good
dromedary, whom I could ill spare, was dead and buried, and your Hagar,
whom I could have so well spared, alive and weeping for her lost boy. I
made her, with difficulty, comprehend that time was precious, and that
strength would be impaired by weeping and wailing. Knowing at once in what
direction to travel--after searching in vain for thee--we set out upon a
journey, which, on foot, beneath a burning sun, and without water, there
was small hope of accomplishing. I looked with certainty to die in the
desert. But Oromasdes was my protector. See, Isaac, the advantage of a
little of many faiths. We had not travelled far among the hillocks, or
hills rather, of sand which we found piled up in our way, and completely
altering the face of the plain, before, to our amazement and our joy, we
discovered a camel, without rider or burden, coming toward us. I secured
him without difficulty. At a little distance, we soon saw another; and by
and by we found that we were passing over the graves of a caravan, the
whole or chief part of which had been overwhelmed by the storm. Here was a
body partly out of the sand, there the head or leg of a dromedary or
camel. Ruin and death seemed to have finished their work. But it was not
quite so. For presently on reaching the summit of a wave of sand, we
discerned a remnant mounted upon the beasts that had been saved, making in
the same direction, and probably to the same point, as ourselves. We
joined them, and partaking of their water, were recruited, and so reached
this place alive. It is now from here,' he added, 'a safe and easy road to
Ecbatana.'

So we found it. But confess now, noble Piso, if in thy judgment it would
have been exorbitant if I had required of thee three talents of Jerusalem
instead of two? For what wouldst thou cross that molten sea, and be buried
under its fiery waves! It is none other than a miracle that I am here
alive in Ecbatana. And for thee I fear that miracle would not have been
wrought. Hadst thou been in my place, the sands of the desert were now thy
dwelling-place. Yet have I again to tempt those horrors. Being here, I
must return. The dromedary of my slave Hadad was worth a hundred
aurelians. A better or a fleeter never yet was in the stables of Zenobia.
And dost thou know, Roman, how curious the Queen is in horses and
dromedaries? There cannot a rare one of either kind enter the walls of
Palmyra, but he is straightway bought up for the service of Zenobia. The
swiftest in the East are hers. 'T was my purpose, returning, to have drawn
upon Hadad's beast the notice of the Queen. Doubtless I should have sold
it to her, and two hundred aurelians is the very least I should have asked
or taken for her. To no other than Zenobia would I have parted with her
for less than three hundred. But alas! her bones are on the desert. But
why, you ask, should I have so favored Zenobia? It is no wonder you ask.
And in answer, I tell thee perhaps a secret. Zenobia is a Jewess! Receive
it or not, as thou wilt--she is a Jewess--and her heart is tender toward
our tribe. I do not say, mark me, that she is one by descent, nor that
she is so much as even a proselyte of the Gate, but that she believes in
some sort Moses and the prophets and reads our sacred books. These things
I know well from those who have been near her. But who ever heard that she
has been seen to read the books of the Christians! Probus will not dare to
assert it. 'T is not more public that Longinus himself is inclined to our
faith--by my head, I doubt not that he is more than inclined--than 'tis
that Zenobia is. If our Messiah should first of all gird on the sword of
Palmyra, what Jew, whose sight is better than a mole's, would be
surprised? My father--may his sleep be sweet!--whose beard came lower than
his girdle, and whose wisdom was famous throughout the East, built much
upon what he knew of the Queen, and her great minister, and used to say,
'That another Barchochab would arise in Palmyra, whom it would require
more than, another Hadrian to hinder in his way to empire; and that if
horses again swam in blood, as once at Bither, 'twould be in Roman blood.'
Who am I, to deny truth and likelihood to the words of one in whom dwelt
the wisdom of Solomon and the meekness of Moses, the faith of Abraham, the
valor of Gideon, and the patience of Job? I rather maintain their truth.
And in the features of the present time, I read change and
revolution--war, and uproar, and ruin--the falling of kingdoms that have
outlasted centuries, and the uprising of others that shall last for other
centuries. I see the Queen of the East at battle with the Emperor of Rome,
and through her victories deliverance wrought out for Israel, and the
throne of Judah once more erected within the walls of Jerusalem! Now dost
thou, Piso, understand, I suppose, not one word of all this. How shouldst
thou? But I trust thou wilt. Surely now you will say, 'What is all this to
the purpose?' Not much to any present purpose, I confess freely; and I
should not marvel greatly if thou wert to throw this letter down and
trample it in the dust--as Rome has done by Judea--but that thou lookest
to hear of thy brother. Well, now I will tell thee of him.

When we drew near to the capital of the Great King, wishing to enrage
Hadad, I asked, 'What mud-walled village is it that we see yonder over the
plain?' Thou shouldst have seen the scowl of his eye--answer he gave none.
I spit upon such a city--I cast out my shoe upon it! I who have dwelt at
Rome, Carthage, Antioch, and Palmyra, may be allowed to despise a place
like this. There are but two things that impress the beholder--the Palace
of Sapor, and the Temple of Mithras, near it. These truly would be noted
even in Palmyra. Not that in the building any rule or order of art is
observed, but that the congregation of strange and fantastic
trickery--some whereof, it cannot be gainsaid, is of rare beauty--is so
vast that one is pleased with it as he is with the remembrance of the
wonderful combinations of a dream.

Soon as we entered the gates of the city, I turned to the woman whom we
brought from the desert, and who rode the camel with Hadad, and said to
her: 'First of all, Hagar, we take thee to those who are of thy kindred,
or to thy friends, and well may they bless the good Providence of God that
they see thee. 'T was a foul deed of thy husband, after the manner of the
patriarch to leave thee and thy little one to perish on the burning sands
of the desert.'

'Good Jew,' she replied, 'my name is not Hagar, nor did my husband leave
me willingly. I tell thee we were set upon by robbers, and Hassan, my poor
husband, was either killed, or carried away no one can tell whither.'

'No matter--names are of little moment. To me, thou art Hagar, and thy
little one here is Ishmael--and if thou wilt, Ishmael shall be mine. I
will take him and rear him as mine--he shall be rich--and thou shalt be
rich, and dwell where thou wilt.' The child, Roman, had wound itself all
around my heart. He was of three years or more, and, feature for feature,
answered to the youngest of my own, long since lost, and now in Abraham's
bosom. But it was not to be as I wished. All the mother rushed into the
face of the woman.

'Good Jew,' she cried, 'the God of Heaven will reward thee for thy
mercy shown to us; but hadst thou saved my life a thousand times, I
could not pay thee with my child. I am poor, and have nought to give
thee but my thanks.'

'I will see thee again,' said I to the widow of Hassan, as we set her down
in the street where her kinsfolk dwelt, 'if thou wilt allow me. Receive
thy child.'

The child smiled as I kissed him and gave him again to his mother. It was
the smile of Joseph. I could at that moment almost myself have become a
robber of the desert, and taken what the others had left.

We here parted, and Hadad and myself bent our way to the house of Levi,
a merchant well known to Hadad, and who, he assured me, would gladly
receive us. His shop, as we entered it, seemed well stored with the
richest goods, but the building of which it made a part promised not
very ample lodgings. But the hospitable welcome of the aged Levi
promised better.

'Welcome every true son of Israel,' said he, as we drew near where in a
remoter part of the large apartment he sat busy at his books of account.
'Make yourselves at home beneath the roof of Levi. Follow me and find more
private quarters.'

So, leaving Hadad and the camels to the care of those whom our host
summoned, I followed him as desired to another part of the dwelling. It
now seemed spacious enough. After winding about among narrow and dark
passages, we at length came to large and well-furnished rooms, apparently
quite remote from the shop, and far removed from the street. Here we
seated ourselves, and I unfolded to Levi the nature of my business. He
listened, wondered, smiled, shook his head, and made a thousand contrary
movements and signs. When I had done, he comforted and instructed me after
this manner.

'Something like a fool's errand. Yet the pay is good--that cannot be
doubted. It had been better, I think, for thee to have followed thy trade
in Palmyra or Ctesiphon. Yet perhaps this may turn out well. The promised
sum is large. Who can tell? 'Tis worth a risk. Yet if, in taking the risk,
one loses his head, it were a mad enterprise. Verily, I can say nothing
but that time will disclose it, and the event prove it. A thing is not
seen all at once, and the eye cannot at once reach every part of a ball.
Wait with patience, and God shall show it.'

I saw that nothing was to be got from this prophet. Yet perhaps he knew
facts. So I asked him of Hormisdas and Sapor, and if he knew aught of the
Roman Piso, held a strict prisoner in Ecbatana.

'A prisoner, say you?' he replied, beginning at the end of my question;
'how can a Persian Satrap be called a prisoner? He dwells in the palace of
Hormisdas, and when seen abroad, rides upon a horse whose harness is
jewelled like the prince's, and his dress moreover is of the richest
stuffs, and altogether Persian. 'Tis forgotten by most that he is any
other than a native Persian.'

'Is he ever seen to ride alone?' I asked.

'Why the question? I know not. Who should know who rides alone and who in
company? When I have seen him, it has always been in the train of others.'

'I thought as much. Doubtless he goes abroad well guarded. His companions,
Levi, I doubt are little better than jailers?'

Levi opened his eyes, but it was to no purpose; they can see no other
thing clearly, save a Persian coin.

I found, upon further inquiry, that it was even as I had supposed and had
heard. Calpurnius lives in the palace of Hormisdas, and is his chosen
companion and friend, but is allowed by Sapor no liberty of movement, and
wherever he goes is attended by persons appointed to guard him. Nor have
the many years that he has been here caused this vigilance in any degree
to relax. All outward honor is shown him, except by the king, who, had he
not, in the time of Valerian, passed his word to the prince his son, and
fully surrendered Piso into his hands, would, it is believed, even now use
him as he did the unhappy emperor. But he is safe in the keeping of the
prince. And the guard about him, it is my present suspicion, is as much to
defend him against any sudden freak of the king or his satellites, as it
is to prevent his escape. The least that could happen to any Roman falling
into Sapor's power would be to be flayed alive. My safety will lie in my
being known only as a Jew, not as a dweller in Rome.

And now, Roman, thou desirest to know in what manner I mean to accomplish
the deliverance of thy brother. It is thus. Commend the cunning of it. My
Ethiopian slave is then--I must tell thee to thine amazement--no Ethiopian
and no slave! He is one of my own tribe whom I have many times employed in
difficult affairs, and having often conferred upon him the most essential
favors, have bound him to my will. Him I am to leave here, being first
cleansed of the deep dye with which by my art--and what art is it I am not
familiar with?--I have stained his skin to the darkest hue of the African,
and then in his place, and retained to the same hue, am I to take thy
brother, and so with security and in broad day walk through the gates of
Ecbatana. Is it to be thought of that I should fail? All will rest with
Calpurnius. If, in the first place, he shall be willing to return, and
then, in the next place, shall consent to submit to this momentary and
only apparent degradation, the issue is as certain to be happy, as the
means shall be tried. My head never set with a sense of more security upon
my shoulders, than now, while planning and putting into execution this
Carthaginian plot.

It was first of all necessary that I should become acquainted with the
city, with the situation and structure of the palace of Hormisdas, and
make myself known in the streets as one of those way-side merchants whom
all abuse, yet whom all are glad to trade with. So, with my slave bending
under the burden of those articles of use or luxury which I thought would
be most attractive, we set forth into the midst of the busy streets,
seeking a market for our commodities. Several days were passed in this
manner, returning each night to lodge in the house of the rich and
foolish, but hospitable Levi.

While thus employed, I frequently saw Calpurnius in company with the
prince or other nobles, either riding in state through the streets of the
city, or else setting out upon excursions of pleasure beyond the walls.
But my chief object was to observe well the palace of the prince, and
learn the particular part of it inhabited by the Roman, and how and where
it was his custom to pass his time. This it was not difficult to do. The
palace of the prince I found to occupy a square of the city not far from
that of the king his father. It is of vast extent, but of a desolate
aspect, from the fewness of its inhabitants and the jealousy with which
the prince and all his movements are watched by the wicked and now
superannuated Sapor. Every day I diligently paced the streets upon which
it stands. I at first went without Hadad, that I might observe with the
more leisure. I at length discovered the apartments used by Calpurnius,
and learned that it was his custom, when not absent from the palace upon
some enterprise of pleasure, to refresh himself by breathing the air, and
pacing to and fro upon a gallery of light Persian architecture, which
borders immediately upon one of the four streets that bounds the palace.
This gallery was not so high above the street but what the voice could
easily reach those who were walking there, and that without greatly
increasing its natural tone. From pillar to pillar there ran along a low
lattice-work of fanciful device, upon which it was the usage of
Calpurnius, and those who were with him, often to lean and idly watch the
movements of the passengers below. Here, I found, must be my place of
audience. Here I must draw his attention, and make myself known to him.
For an opportunity to do this, I saw at once I might be obliged to wait
long, for scarce ever was Calpurnius there, but Hormisdas, or some one of
the nobles, was with him; or if he was alone, yet the street was so
thronged that it must be difficult to obtain a hearing.

Having learned these things, I then came forth, with Hadad bearing my
merchandise, I myself going before him as owner and crier. Many times did
I pass and repass the gallery of Calpurnius to no purpose--he either not
being there, or attended closely by others, or wrapped in thought so that
my cries could not arouse him. It was clear to me that I must make some
bold attempt. He was one day standing at the lattice-work already named,
alone, and looking at the passers by. Seeing him there as I entered the
street, I made directly toward the spot, crying in the loudest tone my
goods; and notwithstanding the numbers who were on their way along the
street, I addressed myself boldly to him, purposely mistaking him for
Hormisdas. 'Prince,' said I, 'buy a little, if it please you, of a poor
Jew, who has lately traversed the desert to serve you. I have in these
panniers wonders from all parts of the world. There is not a city famous
for its art in any rare and curious work, that is not represented here.
Kings, queens, and princes, have not disdained to purchase of me. The
great Sapor at Ctesiphon has of me procured some of his largest diamonds.
I have sold to Claudius, and Zenobia, and half the nobility of Palmyra.
Dost thou see, prince, the glory of this assortment of diamonds? Look! How
would they become thy finger, thy hunting cap, or thy sandals?'

Thy brother listened to me with unmoved countenance and folded arms,
receiving passively whatever I was pleased to say. When I paused, he said,
in a tone of sadness, though of affected pleasantry:

'Jew, I am the worst subject for thee in all Ecbatana. I am a man without
wants. I do nothing but live, and I have nothing to do to live.'

'Now,' I replied, 'is it time for me to die, having seen the chief wonder
of the world--a man without wants.'

'There is a greater yet,' said he smiling; 'thou must live on.'

'And what is that?'

'A woman.'

'Thou hast me. But I can easily compound with life. I have many wants, yet
I love it. I was but a day or two since buried alive under the burning
sands of the desert, and lost there a dromedary worth--if a
farthing--four hundred aurelians, for which thou mayest have him. Yet I
love to live, and take the chances of the world as they turn up. Here now
have I all the way consoled myself with the thought of what I might sell
to the great Prince Hormisdas, and thou seest my reward. Still I cry my
goods with the same zeal. But surely thou wantest something? I have jewels
from Rome--of the latest fashion.'

'I want nothing from Rome.'

Seeing no one was near, and lowering my voice, I said, 'Thou wantest
nothing from Rome? What wouldst thou give, Roman, for news from Rome?'

'News from Rome? Not an obolus. How knowest thou me to be a Roman? But
now, I was the prince Hormisdas.'

'I have seen thee many times, and know thee well, as the Roman Piso. I
have news for thee.'

'The prince approaches!' said Piso, in a hurried manner. 'Begone, but come
again at the hour of dusk, and I shall be alone, and will have thee
admitted within the gates of the palace.'

The fates ordering it so, I was obliged to depart, and trust again to the
future for such chances of renewing my conversation with him as it might
have to offer. Here let me tell thee, Lucius Piso, that not having seen
thy brother, thou hast never seen a man. He is one with every mark of the
noblest manhood. His air is that of a born prince of the highest bearing,
yet free and unrestrained. The beauty of his countenance is beyond that of
any other I have ever seen, yet is it a manly beauty. A line of dark short
hair covers his upper lip. His eyes are large and dark, yet soft in their
general expression. He seems of a melancholy and thoughtful temper, and
sometimes in his words there is an inexpressible bitterness. Yet it has
appeared to me, that his nature is gentle, and that the other character is
one accidental or assumed. If I should compare him with any one for
beauty, it would be, Roman, not with thee--though I see him and thee to be
of the same stock--but with the princess Julia. Were her beauty only made
masculine, she would then be Calpurnius; or were his made feminine, he
would then be Julia. But this fancy might not strike others. His features
and air are not so much Roman as oriental--thine are purely Roman. It may
be that costume alone imparts this Eastern aspect to the countenance and
the form--for his dress is wholly that of a Persian.

As I passed into the dwelling of my host, entering it as at first by the
way of the shop, its owner was holding a conversation of business with
some of his customers. How does money seem native to the palm of some men!
They have but to open it, and straight it is lined with gold. If they
blunder, it is into more wealth. With wit scarce sufficient to make it
clear to another that they are properly men, do they manage to make
themselves the very chief of all, by reason of the riches they heap
up--which ever have claimed and received, and ever will, the homage of the
world. Levi is of this sort. The meanness of his understanding words
cannot express--or no words but his own. He was talking after this manner,
as I entered, to one who seemed to hold him in utmost reverence:

'The thing is so--the thing is so. If 't were otherwise 'tis most clear it
would not be the same. Ha! The price may change. Who can say? The world is
full of change. But it cannot be less, and leave a gain to the
seller--unless indeed, circumstances altering, the profit should still be
the same. But who can understand the future? An hour is more than I can
comprehend. He that deals well with the present, is it not he, Holy
Abraham! who best secures the passing time? It cannot be denied!'

As the oracle ended, the Persian bowed low, saying:

'The wisdom of it is clearer than the light. I shall so report to the
prince.' Seeing me, he, in his friendly way, inquired after my success,
shaking his head at what he is pleased to regard my mad enterprise.
'Better not meddle nor make in such matters. With thy pack upon thy back,
and exercising diligence, thou wouldst become rich here in the streets of
Ecbatana. And for what else shouldst thou care? 'Tis only money that
remains the same in the midst of change. All agree in the value they place
upon this, while they agree in nothing else. Who can remember a difference
here? Leave thy project, Isaac, which thou must have undertaken half for
love, and I will make thee a great man in Ecbatana.' Little does he know
of Isaac, and thou I believe as little.

No sooner had the god of these idolaters gone down to his rest, and the
friendly twilight come, than I set forth for the palace of Hormisdas. Upon
coming beneath the gallery, I waited not long before thy brother appeared,
and pointed out the way in which, through a low and private entrance at a
remote spot, I might reach an apartment where I should find him. Following
his directions, and accompanied by Hadad, I was received, at the specified
place, by a slave of the palace, who conducted me to Piso's presence. It
was in one of his more private apartments, but still sumptuously set out
with every article of Persian luxury, in which I found myself once more in
company with thy brother, and where I ordered Hadad to display for his
entertainment the most curious and costly of the contents of his pack.

'I marvel chiefly, Roman,' I began by saying, 'at the ease with which I
obtain an entrance into the palace, and into thine own apartment. I had
thought this to have been attended with both difficulty and danger.'

'It is not without danger,' he replied; 'thou mayst lose thy head for this
adventure. But this risk I suppose thee to have weighed. Every one in
Ecbatana knows Sapor and me--with what jealousy I am guarded--and that the
king will not flinch to keep his word, and take off any head that meddles.
But fear not. The king is old and weak, and though cruel as ever, forgets
me as every thing else. Besides, it is found that I am so good a Persian,
that all strictness in the watch has long since ceased. Half Ecbatana
believe me more a Persian than a Roman--and in truth they are right.'

'Thou hast not, Roman, forgotten thy country! Surely thou hast not, though
suffering captivity, ceased to love and long for thy native land. The Jew
never forgets his. He lives indeed in every corner and hole of the earth,
but ever in the hope--'tis this that keeps his life--either himself or
through his children to dwell once more within the walls of Jerusalem, or
among the hills and valleys of Judea.'

'Where we are not loved nor remembered, we cannot love,' he bitterly
replied. 'I loved Rome once, more than I loved parent or kindred. The
greatness and glory of Rome were to me infinitely more than my own. For
her--in my beardless youth--I was ready to lay down my life at any
moment. Nay, when the trial came, and the good Valerian set forth to
redeem the East from the encroaching power of Persia, I was not found
wanting, but abandoned a home, than which there was not a prouder nor
happier within the walls of Rome, to take my chance with the emperor and
my noble father. The issue thou knowest. How has Rome remembered me, and
the brave legions that with me fell into the hands of these fierce
barbarians? Even as Gallienus the son seemed to rejoice in the captivity
of his parent, so has Rome the mother seemed to rejoice in the captivity
of her children. Not an arm has she lifted, not a finger has she moved,
to lighten the chains of our bondage, or rescue us from this thraldom.
Rome is no longer my country.'

'Consider, Roman,' I replied, 'in extenuation of thy country's fault, who
it was that succeeded the good Valerian--then the brief reign of virtuous
Claudius, who died ere a single purpose had time to ripen--and the hard
task that has tied the hands of Aurelian on the borders of Gaul and
Germany. Have patience.'

'Dost thou not blush, old man,' he said, 'with that long gray beard of
thine, and thy back bent with years, to stand there the apologist of
crime? If ingratitude and heartlessness are to be defended, and numbered
among the virtues, the reign of Arimanes has indeed begun. Such is not the
lesson, Jew, thy sacred books have taught thee. But a truce with this! Thy
last words this morning were, that thou hadst news for me. For Roman news
I care not, nor will hear. If thou canst tell me aught of family and
friends, say on--although--O gods, that it should be so!--even they seem
to share the guilt of all. How many messengers have I bribed with gold,
more than thou hast ever seen, Jew, to bear my letters to Rome, and never
a word has been returned of good or evil. Canst thou tell me any thing of
Portia my mother? or of Lucius Piso my brother? Live they?'

'Do I not know them well?' I replied: 'who that dwells in Rome knows not
the noble Portia? She lives yet; and long may she live, the friend of all!
To Jew, and even to Nazarene, she is good, even as to her own. Never did
age, or want, or helplessness, ask of her in vain. Years have not stopped
the fountains of her tears, nor chilled a single affection of her heart.
And dost thou think that while she remembers the outcast Jew, and the
despised Nazarene, she forgets her own offspring? Where is thy heart,
Roman, to suppose it? Have I not heard her, many a time, when I have been
to solicit alms for some poor unfortunate of my tribe, run back upon the
line of years, and speak of the wars of Valerian, of the day when she
parted from her great husband, and her two sons, and of that dark day too
when the news came that they were all fast in the clutch of that foul
barbarian, Sapor---and stood a silent and astonished witness of a love,
such as I never saw in any other, and which seemed so great as to be a
necessary seed of death to her frail and shattered frame? Of thee
especially have I heard her descant as mothers will, and tell one after
another of all thy beauties, nay and of the virtues which bound her to
thee so, and of her trust so long cherished, that thou, more than either
of her other sons, wouldst live to sustain, and even bear up higher, the
name of Piso.'

'My noble mother! was it so indeed?'

'How should it be otherwise? Is it any thing that thou hast not heard from
her? Was she to tempt herself the horrors of a Persian journey? Was she,
in her age, to seek thee over the sands of Asia? or thy brother?
Especially when it was held in Rome not more certain that Valerian was
dead, than that thy father and thou wert also. The same messengers related
both events. No other news ever came from Ctesiphon. Was not one event as
likely as the other? Did not both rest upon the same authority? In the
same commemorative acts of the Senate were thy name, thy father's, thy
brother's, and the emperor's, with others who were also believed to have
perished. Was Portia alone, of all Rome, to give the lie to universal
fame? As for thy messengers, art thou so foolish as to believe that one
ever crossed the desert, or escaped the meshes set for him by the jealous
and malignant Sapor?'

'It is enough, Jew--say no more.'

'But I have much more to say, or else be false to those who sent me.'

'Sent thee? who sent thee? Speak! do Portia then, and Lucius, know that I
live? And art thou here a messenger from them?'

'It is even so.'

Thy brother was greatly moved. At first he made as though he would have
embraced me, but turned and paced with quick and agitated steps the room.

I then related to him how we had in Rome first heard through that soldier
a rumor of his being yet alive--but at the same time, that he had
renounced his country and become a Persian Satrap. I told him of thy faith
in him and of Portia's that he would never prove a recreant to his
country--of thy instant journey to Palmyra, with purpose to cross the
desert thyself and risk all the dangers of Ecbatana to accomplish his
deliverance, and of the counsel of Gracchus, which caused thee to make me
a substitute.

'Lucius then,' he at length said, approaching me, 'is in Palmyra?
Is it so?'

'It is,' I said. 'At least I left him there. He was to remain there, and
learn the issue of my attempt. If I perished, or failed in the endeavor to
obtain thy freedom, then was it his purpose himself to try--unless in the
mean time he should learn through me, or otherwise, that thou wert too
wedded to Persia and to Persian customs, to consent to change them for
Rome and Roman ways.'

'Jew, thou seest that now I hesitate. Thou hast roused all the son, the
brother, and something of the Roman within me. I am drawn many ways. To
Rome I will never return. Toward her, a resentment burns deep within,
which I know will close only with life itself. But toward Palmyra, my
heart yearns 'Twas Zenobia alone of all the world that ever moved for the
rescue of Valerian: 'twas she alone of all the world, who pitied our
sorrows, and though she could not heal, avenged them. Her image has been a
dear source of consolation in this long captivity. I have eagerly sought
for all that could be obtained concerning her character, her acts, her
policy, and the state of her affairs. And often have I thought to slip my
bonds and throw myself at her feet, to serve with her, if need should be,
either against Rome or Persia. But habit has prevailed, and the generous
friendship of Hormisdas, to keep me here. And why should I change this not
unpleasing certainty for the doubtful future that must await me in
Palmyra? Here I am in the very lap of luxury. I am, as I have said to
thee, a man without wants. All countries, and climates, and seas, and
arts, minister to my pleasure. The learning of ancient and of modern
times, you see there piled upon shelves, to entertain my leisure, or task
my hours of study. I am without care--without the necessity of toil--with
a palace, its slaves, and, I may add, its prince, at my command. And
beyond all this present reality, there is the prospect of every thing else
that Persia contains, upon the death of Sapor, which, in the course of
nature, cannot be far off, if violence do not anticipate that hour. Yet
what thou now tellest me, renews my desire of change. Lucius is in
Palmyra--perhaps he would dwell there. 'Tis the home, I learn, of many
noble Romans. Who can say that Portia might not come and complete our
happiness?'

And saying these things, he began to muse. He again paced with folded arms
the long apartment. I saw that he was still distracted by doubts. I knew
of but one thing more to say, by which to work upon his passionate nature.
I resolved to say it, though I know not what thou wilt think of it, nor
what the event may be. There was, thou knowest, ere I left Palmyra, rumor
of war between Palmyra and Rome. Barely to name this, it seemed to me,
would be on the instant to fix his wavering mind. I could not withstand
the temptation. But, Piso once in Palmyra, and sure I am I shall be
forgiven. I began again thus.

'Gracchus too, Roman; dost thou not remember the family of Gracchus? He
also is in Palmyra.'

'Ay, I remember him well. A man of true nobility--now one of the Queen's
chief advisers, and head of the Senate. He had a daughter too, who, her
mother dying young, was committed to the care of Portia, and was as a
sister. Does she live?--and dwells she in Palmyra?'

'She lives, and beneath her father's roof. Fame speaks loudly of her
beauty and her wit, and more loudly still of her young wisdom, and
influence with the Queen. Her spirit is the counterpart of Zenobia's. She
is, notwithstanding her long Roman nurture, a Palmyrene of the truest
stamp. And ever since there have been these rumors of a war with Rome'--

'What sayst thou? What is that? War with Rome? Did I hear aright?'

'Verily thou didst. 'Twas the current report when I left Palmyra. It came
both by the way of Antioch and Alexandria. Nothing was talked of else.
Ever since, I say--'

'Why hast thou not said this before? How shall I believe thee?'

'I said it not before, simply because I thought not of it. How was I to
know what thou most desiredst to hear? I can give thee no other ground of
belief than common rumor. If my own opinion will weigh aught, I may add,
that for myself I have not a doubt that the report springs from truth.
When at Rome, it was commonly spoken of, and by those too whom I knew to
be near the emperor, that Aurelian felt himself aggrieved and insulted,
that a woman should hold under her dominion territories that once belonged
to Rome, and who had wrested them from Rome by defeat of Roman
generals--and had sworn to restore the empire in the East as well as West,
to its ancient bounds. At Palmyra too I found those who were of deep
intelligence in the politics of the times, who felt sure of nothing more
than that, what with the pride of Zenobia and the ambition of Aurelian,
war was inevitable. I tell thee these things as they fell upon my ear.
Before this, as I think, it is most likely that war may have broken out
between the two nations.'

'Thou hast now spoken, Jew,' said Calpurnius. 'Hadst thou said these
things at first, thou hadst spared me much tormenting doubt. My mind is
now bent and determined upon flight. This it will not be difficult, I
think, to accomplish. But what is thy plan?--for I suppose, coming upon
this errand, thou hast one well digested. But remember now, as I have
already warned thee, that thy head will answer for any failure: detection
will be death.'

'Death is little to a Jew, who in dying dies for his country. And such
would be my death. Whether I live or die, 'tis for Jerusalem. Thy brother
rewards me largely for this journey, and these dangers I encounter; and
if I perish, the double of the whole sum agreed upon is to be paid
according to certain directions left with him. I would rather live; but I
shall not shrink from death. But, Piso, detection shall not ensue. I have
not lived to this age, to writhe upon a Persian spear, or grin from over a
Persian gateway. What I have devised is this. Thou seest my slave Hadad?'

'I see him--an Ethiopian.'

'So he seems to thee. But his skin is white as thine. By an art, known
only to me, it has been changed to this ebon hue.'

'What follows?'

'This. Thou art to take his place, thy skin being first made to resemble
his, while he is cleansed, and remains in Ecbatana. We then, thou bearing
my packages of merchandise, take our way, quietly and in broad day-light,
through the gates of Ecbatana. How sayst thou?'

'The invention is perfect. I cannot fear the result.

'So soon then as I shall have made some few preparations, for which
to-morrow will suffice, I shall be ready for the desert.'

I heard these words with joy. I now called to Hadad to open his cases of
jewels, from which I took a seal, having upon it the head of Zenobia, and
offered it to Calpurnius. He seized it with eagerness, having never
before seen even so much as a drawing of the Great Queen. I then drew
forth thine own ring and gave him, with that locket containing the hair
of Portia, and thy letter. He received them with emotion; and as I
engaged myself in re-packing my goods, my quick ear caught tears falling
upon the sheet as he read.

I then returned to the house of Levi.

Thus have I accomplished, successfully so far, my errand. I write these
things to thee, because a caravan leaves Ecbatana in the morning, and may
reach Palmyra before ourselves; though it is quite possible that we may
overtake and join it. But we may also be delayed for many days. So that it
is right, in that case, thou shouldst hear.

       *       *       *       *       *

In these words, my Curtius, you have, for the most part, the letter of
Isaac. I have omitted many things which at another time you shall see.
They are such as relate chiefly to himself and his faith--abounding in
cautions against that heretic Probus, who haunts his imagination as if he
were the very genius of evil.

How can I believe it, that within a few hours I may embrace a brother,
separated so long, and so long numbered with the dead? Yet how mixed the
pleasure! He returns a brother, but not a Roman. Nay, 'tis the expectation
of war with Rome, that has gained him. I am perplexed and sad, at the same
time that I leap for joy. Fausta cannot conceal her satisfaction--yet she
pities me. Gracchus tells us to moderate our feelings and expectations, as
the full cup is often spilled. No more now--except this--that you fail not
at once to send this letter to Portia. Farewell!



Letter IX.



Several days have elapsed since I last wrote, yet Calpurnius is not
arrived. I am filled with apprehensions. I fear lest he may have thought
too lightly of the difficulties of an escape, and of the strictness with
which he is watched; for while he seems to have held it an easy matter to
elude the vigilance of his keepers, common opinion at Ecbatana appears to
have judged very differently. Yet, after all, I cannot but rely with much
confidence upon the discretion and the cunning of Isaac. I must now relate
what has happened in the mean time.

It was the morning after Isaac's letter had been received and read, that
Milo presented himself, with a countenance and manner indicative of some
inward disturbance.

'And what,' I asked, 'may be the matter?'

'Enough is the matter, both for yourself and me,' he replied. 'Here now
has been a wretch of an Arab, a fellow of no appearance, a mere
camel-driver, desiring to see you. I told him flatly that you were not to
be seen by scum such as he. I advised him to be gone, before he might have
to complain of a broken head. And what do you suppose was the burden of
his errand? Why truly to ask of the most noble Piso concerning his wife
and child! I begged him to consider whether, supposing you did know aught
concerning them, you would deign to communicate with a sun-baked beggar of
the desert like him. Whereupon he raised a lance longer than a mast, and
would have run me through, but for the expertness with which I seized and
wrested it from him, and then broke it over his head. 'Twas the same
scowling knave whose camels choked the street the first day we entered the
city, and who sent his curse after us. Hassan is his name. His eye left a
mark on me that's not out yet. A hyena's is nothing to it.'

Thus did he run on. I could have speared him as willingly as Hassan. It
was plain that the husband of the woman found in the desert by Isaac,
hearing a rumor of intelligence received by me, had been to obtain such
information as possibly I might possess of his wife and child. Upon
asking my slave where the camel-driver now was, he replied that, 'Truly
he did not know; he had been driven from the court-yard with blows, and
it was a mercy that his life was left to him. He had been taught how
again to curse Romans.'

It was in vain that I assured him once and again that he was no longer in
the service of an emperor, and that it was unnecessary to treat me with
quite so much deference; his only regret was that the robber had got off
so easily. As the only reparation in my power for such stupidity and
inhumanity, I ordered Milo instantly to set forth in search of Hassan, in
the quarter of the city which the Arabs chiefly frequent, and finding him,
to bring him to the house of Gracchus, for I had news for him. This was
little relished by Milo, and I could see, by the change of his
countenance, that his cowardly soul was ill-inclined to an encounter with
the insulted Arab, in the remote parts of the city, and unaccompanied by
any of the slaves of the palace. Nevertheless, he started upon his
errand--but, as I afterward learned, bribed Hannibal to act as life-guard.

Thinking that I might possibly fall in with him myself, and desirous,
moreover, of an occupation that should cause me to forget Calpurnius and
my anxieties for a season, I went forth also, taking the paths that first
offered themselves. A sort of instinct drew me, as it almost always does,
to one of the principal streets of the city, denominated, from the size
and beauty of the trees which adorn it, the Street of Palms. This is an
avenue which traverses the city in its whole length; and at equal
distances from its centre, and also running its whole length, there
shoots up a double row of palms, which, far above the roofs of the
highest buildings, spread out their broad and massy tufts of leaves, and
perfectly protect the throngs below from the rays of the blazing sun.
Thus a deep shadow is cast upon the floor of the street, while at the
same time, it is unencumbered by the low branches, which on every other
kind of tree stretch out in all directions, and obstruct the view, taking
away a greater beauty and advantage than they give. This palm is not the
date-bearing species, but of another sort, attaining a loftier growth,
and adorned with a larger leaf. A pity truly it is, that Rome cannot
crown itself with this princely diadem; but even though the bitter blasts
from the Appennines did not prevent, a want of taste for what is
beautiful would. The Roman is a coarse form of humanity, Curtius,
compared with either the Greek or the Palmyrene. Romans will best conquer
the world, or defend it; but its adorning should be left to others.
Their hands are rude, and they but spoil what they touch. Since the days
of Cicero, and the death of the Republic, what has Rome done to advance
any cause, save that of slavery and licentiousness? A moral Hercules is
needed to sweep it clean of corruptions, which it is amazing have not ere
this drawn down the thunder of the gods. Julia would say that Christ is
that Hercules. May it be so!

Along the street which I had thus entered I slowly sauntered, observing
the people who thronged it, and the shops with their varieties which lined
it. I could easily gather from the conversation which now and then fell
upon my ear--sometimes as I mingled with those who were observing a fine
piece of sculpture or a new picture exposed for sale, or examining the
articles which some hawker with much vociferation thrust upon the
attention of those who were passing along, or waiting at a fountain, while
slaves in attendance served round in vessels of glass, water cooled with
snow and flavored with the juice of fruits peculiar to the East--that the
arrival of the ambassadors had caused a great excitement among the people,
and had turned all thoughts into one channel. Frequently were they
gathered together in groups, around some of the larger trees, or at the
corners of the streets, or at the entrance of some conspicuous shop, to
listen to the news which one had to tell, or to arguments upon the
all-engrossing theme with which another sought to bring over those who
would listen, to one or another side of the great question. But I must
confess that--save in a very few instances--the question was no question
at all, and had but one side. Those whom I heard, and who were listened
to by any numbers, and with any patience, were zealous patriots,
inveighing bitterly against the ambition and tyranny of Rome, and
prognosticating national degradation, and ruin, and slavery, if once the
policy of concession to her demands was adopted.

'Palmyra,' they said, 'with Zenobia and Longinus at her head, the deserts
around her, and Persia to back her, might fearlessly stand against Rome
and the world. Empire began in the East: it had only wandered for a while
to the West--losing its way. The East was its native seat, and there it
would return. Why should not Palmyra be what Assyria and Persia once were?
What kingdom of the world, and what age, could ever boast a general like
Zabdas, a minister like Longinus, a queen like the great Zenobia?' At such
flights, the air would resound with the plaudits of the listening crowd,
who would then disperse and pursue their affairs, or presently gather
around some new declaimer.

I was greatly moved on several of these occasions, to make a few
statements in reply to some of the orators, and which might possibly have
let a little light upon minds willing to know the truth; but I doubted
whether even the proverbially good-natured and courteous Palmyrenes might
not take umbrage at it. As I turned from one of these little knots of
politicians, I encountered Otho, a nobleman of Palmyra and one of the
Queen's council. 'I was just asking myself,' said I, saluting him,
'whether the temper of your people, even and forbearing as it is, would
allow a Roman in their own city to harangue them, who should not so much
advocate a side, as aim to impart truth.'

'Genuine Palmyrenes,' he answered, 'would listen with patience and
civility. But, in a crowded street, one can never answer for his audience.
You see here not only Palmyrenes, but strangers from all parts of the
East--people from our conquered provinces and dependences, who feel
politically with the Palmyrene, but yet have not the manners of the
Palmyrene. There is an Armenian, there a Saracen, there an Arab, there a
Cappadocian, there a Jew, and there an Egyptian--politically perhaps with
us, but otherwise a part of us not more than the Ethiopian or Scythian.
The Senate of Palmyra would hear all you might say--or the Queen's
council--but not the street, I fear. Nay, one of these idle boys, but
whose patriotism is ever boiling over, might in his zeal and his ignorance
do that which should bring disgrace upon our good city. I should rather
pray you to forbear. But if you will extend your walk to the Portico which
I have just left, you will there find a more select crowd than jostles us
where we stand, and perhaps ears ready to hear you. All that you may say
to divert the heart of the nation from this mad enterprise, I shall be
most grateful for. But any words which you may speak, or which a present
god might utter, would avail no more against the reigning frenzy, than
would a palm leaf against a whirlwind of the desert.'

As he uttered these words, with a voice somewhat elevated, several had
gathered about us, listening with eagerness to what the noble and
respected Otho had to say. They heard him attentively, shook their heads,
and turned away--some saying: 'He is a good man, but timid.' Others
scrupled not to impute to him a 'Roman leaning.' When he had ended,
seeing that a number had pressed around, he hastily wished me a happy day,
and moved down the street I bent my way toward the Portico, ruminating the
while upon the fates of empire.

I soon reached that magnificent structure, with its endless lines of
columns. More than the usual crowd of talkers, idlers, strangers, buyers
and sellers, thronged its ample pavements. One portion of it seems to be
appropriated, at least abandoned, to those who have aught that is rare and
beautiful to dispose of. Before one column stands a Jew with antiquities
raked from the ruins of Babylon or Thebes--displaying their coins, their
mutilated statuary, or half legible inscriptions. At another, you see a
Greek with some masterpiece of Zeuxis--nobody less--which he swears is
genuine, and to his oaths adds a parchment containing its history, with
names of men in Athens, Antioch and Alexandria, who attest it all. At the
foot of another, sits a dealer in manuscripts, remarkable either as being
the complete works of distinguished authors, or for the perfection of the
art of the copyist, or for their great antiquity. Here were Manetho and
Sanchoniathon to be had perfect and complete! Not far from these stood
others, who offered sculptures, ancient and modern--vases of every
beautiful form, from those of Egypt and Etruria, to the freshly-wrought
ones of our own Demetrius--and jewelry of the most rare and costly kinds.
There is scarce an article of taste, or valuable of any sort whatever, but
may be found here, brought from all parts of the world. In Persian,
Indian, and Chinese rarities--which in Rome are rarities indeed--I have
dealt largely, and shall return with much to show you.

When, with some toil, I had won a passage through this busy mart, I
mingled with a different crowd. I passed from buyers and sellers among
those who were, like myself, brought there merely for the purpose of
seeing others, of passing the time, and observing the beautiful effects of
this interminable Portico, with its moving and changing crowds robed in a
thousand varieties of the richest costume. It was indeed a spectacle of
beauty, such as I never had seen before nor elsewhere. I chose out point
after point, and stood a silent and rapt observer of the scene. Of the
view from one of these points, I have purchased a painting, done with
exquisite skill, which I shall send to you, and which will set before you
almost the living reality.

To this part of the Portico those resort who wish to hear the opinions of
the day upon subjects of politics or literature, or philosophy, or to
disseminate their own. He who cherishes a darling theory upon any branch
of knowledge, and would promulgate it, let him come here, and he will find
hearers at least. As I walked along, I was attracted by a voice declaiming
with much earnestness to a crowd of hearers, and who seemed as I drew near
to listen with attention, some being seated upon low blocks of marble
arranged among the columns of the Portico for this purpose, others leaning
against the columns themselves, and others standing on the outside of the
circle. The philosopher--for such I perceived him at once to be--was
evidently a Greek. He was arrayed in a fashionable garb, with a robe much
like our toga thrown over his shoulders, and which he made great use of
in his gesticulations. A heavy chain of gold was wound around his neck,
and then crossing several times his breast, hung down in
artificially-arranged festoons. A general air of effeminacy produced in
the hearer at once a state of mind not very favorably disposed to receive
his opinions. The first words I caught were these: 'In this manner,' said
he, 'did that wonderful genius interpret the universe. 'Tis not credible
that any but children and slaves should judge differently. Was there once
nothing? Then were there nothing now. But there is something now, We see
it. The world is. Then it has always been. It is an eternal Being. It is
infinite. Ha! can you escape me now? Say, can there be two infinites? Then
where are your gods? The fabled creator or creators--be they many or
one--of the universe? Vanished, I fancy, at the touch of my intellectual
wand, into thin air. Congratulate yourselves upon your freedom. The
Egyptians had gods, and you know what they were. The Greeks had gods, and
you know what they were. Those nations grovelled and writhed under their
partly childish, partly terrific, and partly disgusting superstitions.
Happy that the reality of divine natures can, so easily as I have now done
it, be disproved! The superincumbent gloom is dispersed. Light has broken
through. And so too, touching the immortality of the soul. Immortality of
the soul! Did any one of you ever see a soul? I should like to have that
question answered:'--he swung defyingly his robe and paused--'did any one
ever see a soul! Yes, and that it was immortal, too! You see a body, and
therefore you believe in it. You see that it is mortal and therefore you
believe in its mortality. You do not see the soul--therefore you believe
in one? Is that your reasoning? How plain the argument is! When the god or
gods--suppose their being--shall send down and impart to me the astounding
fact that I am not one, as I seem, but two--am not mortal, as I seem, but
immortal--do not melt into dust at death, but rise in spirit--then will I
believe such things, not otherwise. Have we knowledge of any other
existences--elemental existences--than corporeal atoms? None. These
constitute the human being. Death is their separation, and that separation
means the end of the being they once did constitute. But it may all be
summed up in a word. When you can see and touch your own soul, as you do
see and touch your body, believe in it. Deny and reject this principle,
and the world will continue to suffer from its belief in gorgons, demons,
spectres, gods, and monsters; in Tartarean regions and torments of damned
spirits. Adopt it, and life flows undisturbed by visionary fears, and
death comes as a long and welcome sleep, upon which no terrors and no
dreams intrude.'

Such was the doctrine, and such nearly the language of the follower of
Epicurus. You will easily judge how far he misrepresented the opinions of
that philosopher. As I turned away from this mischievous dealer in
Cimmerian darkness, I inquired of one who stood near me who this great
man might be.

'What,' said he, in reply, 'do you not know Critias the Epicurean? You
must be a stranger in Palmyra. Do you not see, by the quality of his
audience, that he leads away with him all the fine spirits of the city?
Observe how the greater number of these who hang upon his lips resemble,
in their dress and air, the philosopher.'

'I see it is so. It seems as if all the profligates and young rakes of
Palmyra--of the nobler sort--were assembled here to receive some new
lessons in the art of self-destruction.'

'Many a philosopher of old would, I believe,' he rejoined, 'have prayed
that his system might perish with himself, could he have looked forward
into futurity, and known how it would be interpreted and set forth by his
followers. The temperate and virtuous Epicurus little thought that his
name and doctrine would in after times be the rallying point for the
licentious and dissolute. His philosophy was crude enough, and mischievous
I grant in its principles and tendencies. But it was promulgated, I am
sure, with honest intentions, and he himself was not aware of its extreme
liability to misapprehension and perversion. How would his ears tingle at
what we have now heard!'

'And would after all deserve it,' I replied. 'For he, it seems to me, is
too ignorant of human nature, to venture upon the office of teacher of
mankind, who believes that the reality of a superintending providence can
be denied with safety to the world. A glance at history, and the slightest
penetration into human character, would have shown him, that atheism, in
any of its forms, is incompatible with the existence of a social state.'

'What you say is very true,' replied the Palmyrene; 'I defend only the
intentions and personal character of Epicurus, not his real fitness for
his office. This Critias, were it not for the odiousness of any
interference with men's opinions, I should like to see driven from our
city back to his native Athens, Listen now as he lays down the method of a
happy life. See how these young idlers drink in the nectarean stream. But
enough. I leave them in their own stye. Farewell! Pray invite the
philosopher to visit you at Rome, We can spare him.'

Saying this, he turned upon his heel and went his way. I also passed on.
Continuing my walk up the Portico, I perceived at a little distance
another dark mass of persons, apparently listening with profound attention
to one who was addressing them. Hoping to hear some one discoursing upon
the condition of the country and its prospects, I joined the circle. But I
was disappointed. The orator was a follower of Plato, and a teacher of his
philosophy. His aim seemed to be to darken the minds of his hearers by
unintelligible refinements, at least such I thought the effect must be. He
clothed his thoughts--if thoughts there really were any--in such a
many-colored cloud of poetic diction, that the mind, while it was
undoubtedly excited, received not a single clear idea, but was left in a
pleasing, half-bewildered state, with visions of beautiful divine truth
floating before it, which it in vain attempted to arrest, and convert to
reality. All was obscure, shadowy, impalpable. Yet was he heard with every
testimony of reverence, on the part of his audience. They evidently
thought him original and profound, in proportion as he was
incomprehensible. I could not help calling to mind the remark of the
Palmyrene who had just parted from me. It is difficult to believe that
Plato himself labored to be obscure, though some affirm it. I would
rather believe that his great mind, always searching after truth at the
greatest heights and lowest depths, often but partially seized it, being
defeated by its very vastness; yet, ambitious to reveal it to mankind, he
hesitated not to exhibit it in the form and with the completeness he best
could. It was necessary, therefore, that what he but half knew himself,
should be imperfectly and darkly stated, and dimly comprehended by others.
For this reason, his writings are obscure--obscure, not because of truths
for their vastness beyond the reach of our minds, but because they abound
in conceptions but half formed--in inconsequential reasonings--in logic
overlaid and buried beneath a poetic phraseology. They will always be
obscure, in spite of the labors of the commentators; or, a commentary can
make them plain only by substituting the sense of the critic for the
no-sense of the original. But Plato did not aim at darkness. And could his
spirit have listened to the jargon which I had just heard proclaimed as
Platonism, consisting of common-place thoughts, laboriously tortured and
involved, till their true semblance was lost, and instead of them a wordy
mist--glowing indeed oftentimes with rainbow colors--was presented to the
mind of the hearer for him to feed upon, he would at the moment have as
heartily despised, as he had formerly gloried in, the name and office of
philosopher.

I waited not to learn the results at which this great master of wisdom
would arrive, but quickly turned away, and advanced still farther toward
the upper termination of the Portico. The numbers of those who frequented
this vast pile diminished sensibly at this part of it. Nevertheless, many
were still like myself wandering listlessly around. Quite at the extremity
of the building I observed however a larger collection than I had noticed
before; and, as it appeared to me, deeply absorbed by what they heard. I
cared not to make one of them, having had enough of philosophy for the
day. But as I stood not far from them, idly watching the labors of the
workmen who were carrying up the column of Aurelian--noting how one laid
the stone which another brought, and how another bore along and up the
dizzy ladders the mortar which others tempered, and how the larger masses
of marble were raised to their places by machines worked by elephants, and
how all went on in exact order--while I stood thus, the voice of the
speaker frequently fell upon my ear, and at last, by its peculiarity, and
especially by the unwonted 4 earnestness of the tone, drew me away to a
position nearer the listening crowd. By the words which I now distinctly
caught, I discovered that it was a Christian who was speaking. I joined
the outer circle of hearers, but the preacher--for so the Christians term
those who declare their doctrines in public--was concealed from me by a
column. I could hear him distinctly, and I could see the faces, with their
expressions, of those whom he addressed. The greater part manifested the
deepest interest and sympathy with him who addressed them, but upon the
countenances of some sat scorn and contempt--ridicule, doubt, and
disbelief. As the voice fell upon my ear, in this my nearer position, I
was startled. 'Surely,' I said, 'I have heard it before, and yet as surely
I never before heard a Christian preach.' The thought of Probus flashed
across my mind; and suddenly changing my place--and by passing round the
assembly, coming in front of the preacher--I at once recognised the pale
and melancholy features of the afflicted Christian. I was surprised and
delighted. He had convinced me, at the few interviews I had had with him,
that he was no common man, and I had determined to obtain from him, if I
should ever meet him again, all necessary knowledge of the Christian
institutions and doctrine. Although I had learned much, in the mean time,
from both Julia and the Hermit, still there was much left which I felt I
could obtain, probably in a more exact mariner, from Probus. I was
rejoiced to see him. He was evidently drawing to the close of his address.
The words which I first caught, were nearly these:

'Thus have I declared to you, Palmyrenes, Romans, and whoever are here?
how Christianity seeks the happiness of man, by securing his virtue. Its
object is your greater well-being through the truths it publishes and
enforces. It comes to your understandings, not to darken and confound them
by words without meaning, but to shed light upon them by a revelation of
those few sublime doctrines of which I have now discoursed to you. Has the
Greek, the Roman, or the Persian philosophy, furnished your minds with
truths like these? Has life a great object, or death an issue of certainty
and joy, under either of those systems of faith? Systems of faith! I blush
to term them so. I am a Roman, the son of a priest of the temple of
Jupiter. Shall I reveal to you the greater and the lesser mysteries of
that worship? I see by most expressive signs that it cannot be needful.
Why then, if ye yourselves know and despise the popular worship, why will
you not consider the claims of Jesus of Nazareth?'

'I despise it not,' cried a voice from the throng, 'I honor it.'

'In every nation,' continued the preacher, 'and among all worshippers, are
there those whom God will accept The sincere offering of the heart will
never be refused. Socrates, toiling and dying in the cause of
truth--though that truth, in the light of the Gospel, were error--is
beloved of God. But if God has in these latter days announced new truth,
if he has sent a special messenger to teach it, or if it be asserted by
persons of intelligence and apparent honesty that he has, ought not every
sincere lover of truth and of God, or the gods, to inquire diligently
whether it be so or not? Socrates would have done so. Search, men of
Palmyra, into the certainty of these things. These many years has the word
of Christ been preached in your streets, yet how few followers can as yet
be counted of him who came to bless you! Sleep no longer. Close not the
ear against the parent voice of the Gospel Fear not that the religion of
Jesus comes to reign over aught but your hearts. It asks no dominion over
your temporal affairs. It cares not for thrones, nor the sword, nor
princely revenues, nor seats of honor. It would serve you, not rule over
you. And the ministers of Christ are your servants in spiritual things,
seeking not yours, but you.'

'Paul! Paul of Antioch!' shouted several voices at once.

'I defend not Paul of Antioch,' cried Probus, no ways disconcerted.
'Judge Christianity, I pray you, not by me, nor by Paul, but by itself.
Because a fool lectures upon the philosophy of Plato, you do not therefore
condemn Plato for a fool. Because a disciple of Zeno lives luxuriously,
you do not for that take up a judgment against the philosopher himself.
Paul of Samosata, not in his doctrine, but in his life, is an alien, a
foreigner, an adversary, and no friend or servant of Jesus. Listen,
citizens of Palmyra, while I read to you what the founder of Christianity
himself says touching this matter!' and he drew from beneath his robe a
small parchment roll, and turning to the part he sought, read in a loud
voice words of Jesus such as these: 'He that is greatest among you shall
be your servant. Whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased, and he
that shall humble himself shall be exalted.' 'This is the doctrine of
Christ. According to Jesus, "he among his disciples is greatest, who
performs for others the most essential service."' He then turned to
another part of the book, and read a long, and as it struck me beautiful
passage, in which the author of Christianity was represented as stooping
and washing the feet of his disciples, to enforce in a more lively way his
doctrine of humility and philanthropy. When he had finished it, a deep
silence had fallen upon those who listened. It was broken by the voice of
Probus once more saying in low and sorrowful tones: 'I confess--with grief
and shame I confess--that pride, and arrogance, and the lust of power, are
already among the ministers of Jesus. They are sundering themselves from
their master, and thrusting a sword into the life of his Gospel. And if
this faith of Christ should ever--as a prophetic eye sees it so sure to
do--fill the throne of the world, and sit in Cæsar's place, may the God
who gave it appear for it, that it perish not through the encumbering
weight of earthly glory. Through tribulation and persecution it has held
on its way without swerving. Prosperity begins already to weaken and
defile----'

What more Probus would have added, I know not; for at this point an
unusual disturbance arose in the streets. Trumpets sent forth their long
peal, and a troop of out-riders, as accompanying some great personage,
rode rapidly along, followed by the crowd of idle lookers-on. And
immediately a chariot appeared, with a single individual seated in it, who
seemed to take great pleasure in his own state. No sooner had the pageant
arrived over against that part of the Portico where we stood, than one and
another of Probus's hearers exclaimed:

'Ha! Paul! Paul of Antioch! Behold a Christian servant!' And the whole
throng turned away in confusion to watch the spectacle.

'An unhappy commentary upon the doctrine,' said a Palmyrene to me, as he
turned sneeringly away.

'What say you to this?' asked another, of Probus himself, as he descended
from his rostrum, and stood gazing with the rest, but with a burning cheek
and downcast eye.

'I say,' he replied, 'what I have said before, that yonder bishop, however
christianized his head may be is a misbeliever in his heart. He is a true
anti-Christ.'

'I am disposed to trust you,' rejoined the other. 'I have heard you not
without emotion. We have had among us many who have declared the doctrine
of Christ. But I have heeded them not, It is different with me now. I am
desirous to know what this doctrine of Christ is. I have been impressed by
what you recited from the writings of Jesus. How, Christian, shall I apply
myself, and where, to learn more than I know now?'

'If thou wilt learn of so humble a teacher as I am,--who yet know somewhat
of what Christianity really is--come and hear me at the place of Christian
worship in the street that runs behind the great Persian Inn. There, this
evening when the sun is down, shall I preach again the truth in Christ.'

'I shall not fail to be there,' said the other, and moved away.

'Nor shall I, Probus,' said I, heartily saluting him.

'Noble Piso!' he cried, his countenance suddenly growing bright as the
sun, 'I am glad to meet you at length. And have you too heard a Christian
preach? A senator of Rome?'

'I have; and I shall gladly hear more. I am not, however, a Christian,
Probus; I profess to be but a seeker after truth, if perhaps it may be
found in your faith, having failed to discover it among dead or living
philosophers. I shall hear you to-night.'

After many mutual inquiries concerning each other's welfare, we separated.

Upon returning to the house of Gracchus, and finding myself again in the
company of Fausta and her father, I said: 'I go to-night to hear a
Christian, the Christian Probus, discourse concerning the Christian
doctrine. Will you accompany me, Fausta?'

'Not now, Lucius,' she replied; 'my head and heart are too full of the
interests and cares of Zenobia, to allow me to think of aught else. No
other reason, I assure you, prevents. I have no fears of the opinions of
others to hinder me. When our public affairs are once more in a settled
state, I shall not be slow to learn more of the religion of which you
speak. Julia's attachment to it, of itself, has almost made a convert of
me already, so full of sympathy in all things is a true affection. But the
heart is a poor logician. It darts to its object, overleaping all reasons,
and may as well rest in error as truth. Whatever the purity of Julia and
the honesty and vigor of Zenobia accept and worship, I believe I should,
without further investigation, though they were the fooleries and gods of
Egypt, Did you succeed in your search of the Arab?'

'No: but perhaps Milo has. To tell the truth, I was soon diverted from
that object, first by the excitement I found prevailing among the people
on the affairs of the kingdom, and afterward by the spectacles of the
Portico, and the preaching of Probus, whom I encountered there.'

In the evening, soon as the sun was set, I wound my way to the Christians'
place of worship.

It was in a part of the city remote and obscure, indicating very plainly
that whatever Christianity may be destined to accomplish in this city, it
has done little as yet. Indeed, I do not perceive what principle of
strength or power it possesses, sufficient to force its way through the
world, and into the hearts of men. It allows not the use of the sword; it
resorts not to the civil arm; it is devoid of all that should win upon the
senses of the multitude, being, beyond all other forms of faith,
remarkable for its simplicity, for its spiritual and intellectual
character. Moreover, it is stern and uncompromising in its morality,
requiring the strictest purity of life, and making virtue to consist not
in the outward act, but in the secret motive which prompts the act. It is
at open and unintermitting war with all the vain and vicious inclinations
of the heart. It insists upon an undivided sovereignty over the whole
character and life of the individual. And in return for such surrender, it
bestows no other reward than an inward consciousness of right action, and
of the approbation of God, with the hope of immortality. It seems thus to
have man's whole nature, and all the institutions of the world, especially
of other existing religions, to contend with. If it prevail against such
odds, and with such means as it alone employs, it surely will carry along
with it its own demonstration of its divinity. But how it shall have power
to achieve such conquests, I now cannot see nor conjecture.

Arriving at the place designated by Probus, I found a low building of
stone, which seemed to have been diverted from former uses of a different
kind, to serve its present purpose as a temple of religious worship.
Passing through a door, of height scarce sufficient to admit a person of
ordinary stature, I reached a vestibule, from which by a descent of a few
steps I entered a large circular apartment, low but not inelegant, with a
vaulted ceiling supported by chaste Ionic columns. The assembly was
already seated, but the worship not begun. The service consisted of
prayers to God, offered in the name of Christ; of reading a portion of the
sacred books of the Christians, of preaching, of music sung to religious
words, and voluntary offerings of money or other gifts for the poor.

I cannot doubt that you are repelled, my Curtius, by this account of a
worship of such simplicity as to amount almost to poverty. But I must tell
you that never have I been so overwhelmed by emotions of the noblest kind,
as when sitting in the midst of these despised Nazarenes, and joining in
their devotions; for to sit neuter in such a scene, it was not in my
nature to do, nor would it have been in yours, much as you affect to
despise this 'superstitious race.' This was indeed worship. It was a true
communion of the creature with the Creator. Never before had I heard a
prayer. How different from the loud and declamatory harangues of our
priests! the full and rich tones of the voice of Probus, expressive of
deepest reverence of the Being he addressed, and of profoundest humility
on the part of the worshipper, seeming too as if uttered in no part by the
usual organs of speech, but as if pronounced by the very heart itself,
fell upon the charmed ear like notes from another world. There was a new
and strange union, both in the manner of the Christian and in the
sentiments he expressed, of an awe such as I never before witnessed in man
towards the gods, and a familiarity and child-like confidence, that made
me feel as if the God to whom he prayed was a father and a friend, in a
much higher sense than we are accustomed to regard the Creator of the
universe. It was a child soliciting mercies from a kind and considerate
parent--conscious of much frailty and ill desert, but relying too with a
perfect trust, both upon the equity and benignity of the God of his faith.
I received an impression also from the quiet and breathless silence of the
apartment, from the low and but just audible voice of the preacher, of the
near neighborhood of gods and men, of the universal presence of the
infinite spirit of the Deity, which certainly I had never received before.
I could hardly divest myself of the feeling that the God addressed was in
truth in the midst of the temple; and I found my eye turning to the
ceiling, as if there must be some visible manifestation of his presence. I
wish you could have been there. I am sure that after witnessing such
devotions, contempt or ridicule would be the last emotions you would ever
entertain toward this people. Neither could you any longer apply to them
the terms fanatic, enthusiast, or superstitious. You would have seen a
calmness, a sobriety, a decency, so remarkable; you would have heard
sentiments so rational, so instructive, so exalted, that you would have
felt your prejudices breaking away and disappearing without any volition
or act of your own. Nay, against your will they would have fallen. And
nothing would have been left but the naked question--not is this faith
beautiful and worthy--but is this religion true or false?

When the worship had been begun by prayer to God in the name of Christ,
then one of the officiating priests opened the book of the Christians, the
Gospels, and read from the Greek, in which they are written--changing it
into the Palmyrene dialect as he read--diverse passages, some relating to
the life of Jesus, and others which were extracts of letters written by
apostles of his to individuals or churches, to which I listened with
attention and pleasure. When this was over, Probus rose, standing upon a
low platform like the rostrums from which our lawyers plead, and first
reading a sentence from the sayings of Paul, an apostle of Jesus, of which
this was the substance, 'Jesus came into the world, bringing life and
immortality to light,' he delivered, with a most winning and persuasive
beauty, a discourse, or oration, the purpose of which was to show, that
Jesus was sent into the world to bring to light or make plain the true
character and end of the life on earth, and also the reality and true
nature of a future existence. In doing this, he exposed--but in a manner
so full of the most earnest humanity that no one could be offended--the
errors of many of the philosophers concerning a happy life, and compared
with the greatest force their requisitions with those of the gospel, 'as
he termed his religion; showing what unworthy and inadequate conceptions
had prevailed as to what constitutes a man truly great, and good, and
happy. Then he went on to show, that it was such a life only as he had
described that could make a being like man worthy of immortality; that
although Jesus had proved the reality of a future and immortal existence,
yet he had, with even more importunity, and earnestness, and frequency,
laid down his precepts touching a virtuous life on earth. He finally went
into the Christian argument in proof of a future existence, and exhorted
those who heard him, and who desired to inhabit the Christian's heaven, to
live the life which Christ had brought to light, and himself had
exemplified on earth, laboring to impress their minds with the fact,
that it was a superior goodness which made Jesus what he was, and that it
must be by a similar goodness that his followers could fit themselves for
the immortality he had revealed. All this was with frequent reference to
existing opinions and practices, and with large illustrations drawn from
ancient and modern religious history.

What struck me most, after having listened to the discourse of Probus to
the end, was the practical aim and character of the religion he preached.
It was no fanciful speculation nor airy dream. It was not a plaything of
the imagination he had been holding up to our contemplation, but a series
of truths and doctrines bearing with eminent directness, and with a
perfect adaptation, upon human life, the effect and issue of which, widely
and cordially received, must be to give birth to a condition of humanity
not now any where to be found on the earth. I was startled by no
confounding and overwhelming mysteries; neither my faith nor my reason was
burdened or offended; but I was shown, as by a light from heaven, how
truly the path which leads to the possession and enjoyment of a future
existence coincides with that which conducts to the best happiness of
earth. It was a religion addressed to the reason and the affections; and
evidence enough was afforded in the representations given of its more
important truths, that it was furnished with ample power to convince and
exalt the reason, to satisfy and fill the affections. No sooner shall I
have returned to the leisure of my home, to my study and my books, than I
shall seriously undertake an examination of the Christian argument. It
surely becomes those who fill the place in the social state which I do, to
make up an intelligent judgment upon a question like this, so that I may
stand prepared to defend it, and urge it upon my countrymen, if I am
convinced of its truth and of its advantage to my country, or assail and
oppose it, if I shall determine it to be what it is so frequently termed,
a pernicious and hateful superstition.

When the discourse was ended, of the power and various beauty of which I
cannot pretend properly to acquaint you, another prayer longer and more
general was offered, to parts of which there were responses by the
hearers. Then, as a regular part of the service, voluntary offerings and
gifts were made by those present for the poor. More than once, as a part
of the worship, hymns were sung to some plain and simple air, in which all
the assembly joined. Sometimes, to the services which I witnessed, Probus
informed me there is added a further ceremony, called the 'Lord's supper,'
being a social service, during which bread and wine are partaken of, in
memory of Jesus Christ. This was the occasion, in former times, of heavy
charges against the Christians of rioting and intemperance, and even of
more serious crimes. But Probus assures me that the last were even then
groundless, and that now nothing can be more blameless than this simple
spiritual repast.

The worship being ended, and Probus having descended from his seat, I
accosted him, giving him what I am certain were very sincere thanks for
the information I had obtained from his oration, concerning the primary
articles of the Christian faith.

'It has been,' said he in reply, 'with utmost satisfaction, that I beheld
a person of your rank and intelligence among my hearers. The change of the
popular belief throughout the Roman empire, which must come, will be a
less tumultuous one, in proportion as we can obtain even so much as a
hearing from those who sit at the head of society in rank and
intelligence. Let me make a sincere convert of a Roman emperor, and in a
few years the temples of Paganism would lie even with the ground. Believe
me, Christianity has penetrated deeper and farther, than you in the seats
of power dream of. While you are satisfied with things as they are, and
are content to live on and enjoy the leisure and honors the gods crown you
with, the classes below you, less absorbed by the things of the
world--because perhaps having fewer of them,--give their thoughts to
religion and the prospects which it holds out of a happier existence after
the present. Having little here, they are less tied to the world than
others, and more solicitous concerning the more and the better, of which
Christianity speaks.'

'I am not insensible,' I replied, 'to the truth of what you say. The
cruelties, moreover, exercised by the emperors toward the Christians, the
countless examples of those who have died in torments for the truth of
this religion, have drawn largely and deeply upon the sympathy of the
general heart, and disposed it favorably toward belief. In Rome,
surrounded by ancient associations, embosomed in a family remarkable for
its attachment to the ancient order of things; friends of power, of
letters, and philosophy, I hardly was conscious of the existence of such a
thing as Christianity. The name was never heard where I moved. Portia, my
noble mother, with a heart beating warm for every thing human,
instinctively religious beyond any whom I have ever seen or known, of the
Christian or any other faith, living but to increase the happiness of all
around her, was yet--shall I say it?--a bigot to the institutions of her
country. The government and the religion under which all the Pisos had
lived and flourished, which had protected the rights and nursed the
virtues of her great husband and his family, were good enough for her, for
her children, and for all. Her ear was closed against the sound of
Christianity, as naturally as an adder's against all sound. She could not,
and never did hear it. From her I received my principles and first
impressions. Not even the history, nor so much as a word of the
sufferings, of the Christians ever fell on my ear. I grew up in all things
a Piso; the true child of my mother, in all save her divine virtues. And
it was not till a few years since, when I broke loose from domestic and
Roman life, and travelled to Greece and Egypt, and now to the East, that I
became practically aware of the existence of such a people as the
Christians; and my own is, I suppose, but a specimen of the history of my
order. I now perceive, that while we have slept, truth has been advancing
its posts, till the very citadel of the world is about to be scaled. The
leaven of Christianity is cast into the lump, and will work its necessary
end. It now, I apprehend, will matter but little what part the noble and
the learned shall take, or even the men in power. The people have taken
theirs, and the rest must follow, at least submit. Do I over-estimate the
inroads of the religion upon the mind and heart of the world?'

'I am persuaded you do not,' replied the Christian. Give me, as I said
before, one Roman emperor for a convert, and I will insure the immediate
and final triumph of Christianity. But in the mean time, another Nero,
another Domitian, another Decius, may arise, and the bloody acts of other
persecutions stain the annals of our guilty empire.'

'The gods forbid!' said I; yet who shall say it may not be! Much as I
honor Aurelian for his many virtues, I feel not sure that in the right
hands he might not be roused to as dark deeds as any before him--darker
they would be--inasmuch as his nature for sternness and severity has not,
I think, been equalled. If the mild and just Valerian could be so wrought
upon by the malignant Macrianus, what security have we in the case of
Aurelian? He is naturally superstitious.'

'O that in Aurelian,' said the Christian, 'were lodged the woman's heart
of Zenobia!--we then could trust to-morrow as well as enjoy to-day. Here
no laws seal the lips of the Christian: he may tell his tale to as many as
choose to hear. I learn, since my arrival, that the Princess Julia is
favorably inclined toward the Christian cause. Dost thou know what the
truth may be?'

'It is certain that she admires greatly the character and the doctrine of
Christ, and I should think, believes; but she does not as yet openly
confess herself a follower of the Nazarene. She is perhaps as much a
Christian as Zenobia is a Jewess.'

'I may well rejoice in that,' replied the Christian, 'yes, and do.'

The lights of the apartment were now extinguished, and we parted.

If I am ever again in Rome, my Curtius, it shall be my care to bring to
your acquaintance and Lucilia's, the Christian Probus. Farewell!



Note.



Some readers may be pleased to be able to compare together the
representations of Piso and those of Pollio.

"Et quidem peregrina, nomine Zenobia, de qua jam multa dicta sunt, quæ se
de Cleopatrarum. Ptolemæorumque gente jactaret, post Odenatum maritum
imperiali sagulo perfuso per humeros habitu, donis ornata, diademate etiam
accepto, nomine filiorum Herenniani et Timolai diutius quam fæmineus sexus
patiebatur, imperavit. Si quidem Gallieno adhuc regente Remp. regale
mulier superba munus obtinuit; et Claudio bellis Gotthicis occupato, vix
denique ab Aureliano victa et triumphata, concessit in jura Rom." "Vixit
(Zenobia) regali pompa, more magis Persico. Adorata est more regum
Persarum. Convivata est imperatorum, more Rom. Ad conciones galeata
processit, cum limbo purpureo, gemmis dependentibus per ultimam fimbriam
media etiam cyclade veluti fibula muliebri astricta, brachio sæpe nudo.
Fuit vultu subaquilo fusci coloris, oculis supra modum [Footnote:
Ingentibus.] vigentibus, nigris, spiritus divini, venustatis incredibilis;
tantus candor in dentibus, ut margaritas eam plerique putarent habere, non
dentes. Vox clara et virilis; severitas, ubi necessitas postulabat,
tyrannorum; bonorum principum clementia, ubi pietas requirebat. Larga
prudenter, conservatrix thesaurorum ultra fæmineum modum. Usa vehiculo
carpentario, raro pilento, equo sæpius. Fertur autem vel tria, vel quatuor
milliaria frequenter eam peditibus ambulasse. Nata est Hispanoram
Cupiditate; bibit sæpe cum ducibus, quum esset alias sobria; bibit etiam
cum Persis atque Armeniis, ut eos vinceret. Usa est vasis aureis gemmatis
ad convivia, quibus et Cleopatra usa est. In ministerio Eunuchos,
gravioris ætatis habuit, puellas nimis raras. Filios Latine loqui
jusserat, adeo ut Græce vel difficile vel raro loquerentur. Ipsa Latini
sermonis non usquequaque ignara, sed loqueretur pudore cobibita;
loquebatur et Egyptiacè ad perfectum modum. Historiæ Alexandrinæ atque
Orientalis ita perita ut eam epitomasse hicatur: Latinam autem Græce
legerat." "Ducta est igitur per triumphum ea specie ut nihil pompabilius
populo Rom. vederetur, jam primum ornata gemmis ingentibus, ita at
ornamentorum onere laboraret. Fertur enim mulier fortissima sæpissime
restitisse, quum diceret se gemmorum onera ferre non posse. Vincti erant
preterea pedes auro, manus etiam catenis aureis; nec collo aureum vinculum
deerat, quod scurra Persicus præferebat. Huic ab Aureliano vivere
concessum est. Ferturque vixisse cum liberis, matronæ jam more Romanæ,
data sibi possessione in Tiburti quæ hodieque Zenobia dicitur, non longe
ab Adriani palatio, atque ab eo loco cui nomen est Conche."--Hist. Aug.
Lugd. Batav. 1661, p. 787.

"Ille (Odenatus) plane cum uxore Zenobia non solum Orientem quem jam in
pristinum reformaverat statum, sed omnes omnino totius orbis partes
reformasset, vir acer in bellis, et, quantum plerique scriptores
loquuntur, venatu memorabili semper inclytus, qui a prima ætate capiendis
leonibus et pardis, cervis, cæterisque sylvestribus animalibus, sudorem
officii virilis impendit, quique semper in sylvis ac montibus vixit,
perferens calorem, pluvias, et omnia mala que in se continent venatoriæ
voluptates; quibus duratis, solem ac pulverem in bellis Persicis tulit.
Non aliter etiam conjuge assueta, quæ multorum sententia fortior marito
fuisse perhibetur; mulierum omnium nobilissima, Orientalium fæminarum et
(ut Cornelius Capitolinus asserit) speciocissima."---Ib. p. 771

Also what Aurelian himself says in a letter to the Roman Senate, preserved
by Pollio.

"Audio, P. C. mihi objici quod non virile munus impleverim, Zenobiam
triumphando. Næ illi qui me reprehendunt satis laudarant, si scirent
qualis ilia est mulier, quam prudens in consiliis, quam constans in
dispositionibus, quam erga milites gravis, quam larga quum necessitas
postulet, quam tristis quum severitas poscat. Possum dicere _illius_esse
quod Odenatus Persos vicit, ac Sapore fugato Ctesiphontem usque pervenit.
Possum asserere, tanto apud Orientalis et Egyptiorum populos timori
mulierem fuisse, ut se non Arabes, non Sarraceni, non Armeni commoverent.
Nec ego illi vitam conservassem nisi eam scissem multum Rom. Repub.
profuisse, quurn sibi, vel liberis suis Orientis servaret imperium," etc.



Zenobia; or, The Fall of Palmyra.

In Letters of L. Manlius Piso, from Palmyra, to His Friend Marcus Curtius
at Rome.

By William Ware



Zenobia.

Vol. II



Letter X.



As I returned from the worship of the Christians to the house of Gracchus,
my thoughts wandered from the subjects which had just occupied my mind to
the condition of the country, and the prospect now growing more and more
portentous of an immediate rupture with Rome. On my way I passed through
streets of more than Roman magnificence, exhibiting all the signs of
wealth, taste, refinement, and luxury. The happy, light-hearted populace
were moving through them, enjoying at their leisure the calm beauty of the
evening, or hastening to or from some place of festivity. The earnest tone
of conversation, the loud laugh, the witty retort, the merry jest, fell
upon my ear from one and another as I passed along. From the windows of
the palaces of the merchants and nobles, the rays of innumerable lights
streamed across my path, giving to the streets almost the brilliancy of
day; and the sound of music, either of martial instruments, or of the harp
accompanied by the voice, at every turn arrested my attention, and made me
pause to listen.

A deep melancholy came over me. It seemed to me that the days of this
people were numbered, and that the gods intending their ruin had first
made them mad. Their gayety appeared to me no other than madness. They
were like the gladiators of our circuses, who, doomed to death, pass the
last-days of life in a delirium of forced and frantic joy. Many of the
inhabitants I could not but suppose utterly insensible to the dangers
which impend--or ignorant of them; but more I believe are cheerful, and
even gay, through a mad contempt of them. They look back upon their long
and uninterrupted prosperity--they call to mind their late glorious
achievements under Odenatus and their Queen--they think of the wide extent
of their empire--they remember that Longinus is their minister, and
Zenobia still their Queen--and give their fears to the winds. A contest
with Rome they approach as they would the games of the amphitheatre.

The situation of their city, defended as it is by the wide-stretching
deserts, is indeed enough of itself to inspire the people with a belief
that it is impregnable. It requires an effort, I am aware, to admit the
likelihood of an army from the far west first overcoming the dangers of
the desert, and then levelling the walls of the city, which seem more like
ramparts of Nature's making so massy are they, than any work of man. And
the Palmyrenes have certainly also some excuse in the wretched management
of our generals, ever since the expedition of Valerian, and in the
brilliancy of their own achievements, for thinking well of themselves, and
anticipating, without much apprehension for the issue, a war with us. But
these and the like apologies, however they may serve for the common
people, surely are of no force in their application to the intelligent,
and such as fill the high places of the kingdom. They know that although
upon some mere question of honor or of boundary, it might be very proper
and politic to fight a single battle rather than tamely submit to an
encroachment, it is quite another thing when the only aim of the war is to
see which is the stronger of the two--which is to be master. This last,
what is it but madness? the madness of pride and ambition in the Queen--in
the people the madness of a love and a devotion to her, unparalleled since
the world began. A blindness as of death has seized them all.

Thinking of these things, and full of saddest forebodings as to the fate
of this most interesting and polished people, I reached the gate of the
palace of Gracchus. The inmates, Gracchus and Fausta, I learned from Milo,
were at the palace of the Queen, whither I was instructed by them to
resort at the request of Zenobia herself. The chariot of my host soon bore
me there. It was with pleasure that I greeted this unexpected good
fortune. I had not even seen the Queen since the day passed at her villa,
and I was not a little desirous, before the ambassadors should receive
their final answer, to have one more opportunity of conversing with her.

The moment I entered the apartment where the Queen was with her guests, I
perceived that all state was laid aside, and that we were to enjoy each
other with the same social ease as when in the country, or as on that
first evening in the gardens of the palace. There was on this occasion no
prostration, and no slave crouched at her feet; and all the various
Persian ceremonial, in which this proud woman so delights, was dispensed
with. The room in which we met was large, and opening on two of its sides
upon those lofty Corinthian porticos, which add so greatly to the
magnificence of this palace. Light was so disposed as to shed a soft and
moon-like radiance, which, without dazzling, perfectly revealed every
person and object, even to the minutest beauties of the paintings upon the
walls, and of the statuary that offered to the eye the master-pieces of
ancient and modern sculpture. The company was scattered; some being seated
together in conversation, others observing the works of art, others pacing
the marble floors of the porticos, their forms crossing and recrossing the
ample arched door-ways which opened upon them.

'We feared,' said the Queen, advancing toward me as I entered, 'that we
were not to be so happy as to see you. My other friends have already
passed a precious hour with me. But every sacrifice to the affections, be
it ever so slight, is a virtue, and therefore you are still an object of
praise, rather than of censure.'

I said in reply that an affair of consequence had detained me, or I
should have been earlier at the house of Gracchus, so as to have
accompanied Fausta.

Fausta, who had been sitting with the Queen, now came forward, Julia
leaning on her arm, and said, 'And what do you imagine to be the affair of
consequence that has deprived us of Piso's company?'

'I cannot tell, indeed,' replied Zenobia.

'Julia at least,' said Fausta, 'will applaud him, when she hears that he
has just come from an assembly of Christians. May I ask, Lucius, what new
truth you have learned with which to enlighten us? But your countenance
tells me I must not jest. There--let me smooth that brow and make my
peace. But in seriousness, I hope your Mediterranean friend rewarded you
for the hour you have given him, and deprived us of?'

'I wish,' I could not but reply, 'that but one out of every thousand hours
of my life had been as well rewarded, and it would not have been so
worthless. The Princess may believe me when I say that not even the Bishop
of Antioch could have done better justice to the Christian argument. I
have heard this evening a Christian of the name of Probus, whose history I
related--and which you may remember--at the tables, within a few days
after my arrival in Palmyra. He is in opinion a follower of Paul, so I am
informed, though not--you Julia will be glad to learn it--in his manner of
life. What the differences are which separate the Christians from one
another in their belief, I know not. I only know that truth cannot take a
more winning shape than that in which it came from the lips of Probus, and
it was largely supported by the words of the founder of the religion. I
think you may justly congratulate your city and your subjects,' I
continued addressing Zenobia, 'upon the labors and teaching of a man like
Probus. The sentiments which he utters are such as must tend to the
strength of any government which relies for its support, in any sense,
upon the social and personal virtues of the people. In implanting the
virtues of justice, temperance, and piety, and in binding each heart to
every other, by the bonds of a love which this religion makes itself
almost to consist in, it does all that either philosophy or religion can
do for the harmony and order of society, the safety of governments, and
the peace of the world.'

'You speak with the earnestness of a deep persuasion, Roman,' replied the
Queen, 'and I shall not forget the name and office of the person whom you
have now named to me. I hear with pleasure of the arrival of any teacher
of truth in my kingdom. I have derived so much myself from the influences
of letters and philosophy, that it is no far-off conclusion for me to
arrive at, that my people must be proportionally benefited by an easy
access to the same life-giving fountains. Whatever helps to quicken
thought, and create or confirm habits of reflection, is so much direct
service to the cause of humanity. I truly believe that there is no
obstacle but ignorance, to prevent the world from attaining a felicity and
a virtue, such as we now hardly dream of--ignorance respecting the first
principles of philosophy and religion. Knowledge is not less essential to
the increase and elevation of virtue, than it is to the further advances
of truth, and the detection of error. Prove the truth, and mankind will
always prefer it to falsehood. So too, demonstrate wherein goodness
consists, and the road that leads to it, and mankind will prefer it to
vice. Vice is a mistake, as well as a fault; I do not say as often. I
fear that the Christian teachers are occupying themselves and their
disciples too much about mere speculative and fanciful distinctions, while
they give too little heed to that which alone is of any consequence,
virtue. In this, Longinus,' turning towards the philosopher, who had now
joined us, 'I think they affect to imitate the commentators and living
expositors of the great Plato. I have heard from Paul of Samosata accounts
of differences among Christians, where the points were quite too subtle
for my understanding to appreciate. They reminded me of the refinements of
some of the young adventurers from Athens, who occasionally have resorted
here for the purpose of elucidating the doctrines of your great
master--pseudo-philosophers and tyros, I perceive you are waiting to term
them. Is it so that you denominate Polemo the Athenian, who as I learn is
now here with the benevolent design of enlightening my people?'

'He is a man,' replied Longinus, 'hardly worthy to be named in this
connection and this presence at all. I have neither met him nor heard him,
nor do I desire to do so. It is through the mischievous intermeddling of
such as he that the honorable name and office of philosopher are brought
into contempt. It requires more intellect than ever enlightens the soul of
Polemo, to comprehend the lofty truth of Plato. I trust that when it has
been my pleasure to unfold the sense of that great teacher, it has not
been found to be either unprofitable, or unintelligible?'

Zenobia smiled and said, 'I must confess that at times, as I have ever
frankly stated, my mind has been a little tasked. There has been but an
approach to a perfect idea. But I do not say that a perfect conception has
not been presented. So that when this has happened, Longinus being the
teacher, and Zenobia and Julia the pupils, I cannot doubt that when the
task is entrusted to less cultivated minds--the task both of teaching and
learning--it must frequently end in what it might be rash to term light or
knowledge.'

'I grieve, O Queen,' replied Longinus, smiling in his turn, 'that both you
and the Princess should have possessed so little affinity for the
soul-purifying and elevating doctrines of the immortal Plato--that you,
Queen, should have even preferred the dark annals of Egyptian and Assyrian
history and politics, and the Greek learning; and you, Princess, should
have fixed your affections upon this, not new-found philosophy, but
new-invented religion, of the Christians. I still anticipate the happiness
to lead you both into the groves of the academy, and detain you there,
where and where only are seats that well become you.'

'But is it not,' I ventured here to suggest, 'some objection to the
philosophy of Plato as the guide of life, that it requires minds of the
very highest order to receive it? Philosophy, methinks, should be
something of such potency, yet at the same time of such simplicity, that
it should not so much require a lofty and elevated intellect to admit it,
as tend, being received readily and easily by minds of a humbler order, to
raise them up to itself. Now this, so far as I understand it, is the
character of the Christian philosophy--for philosophy I must think it
deservedly called. It is admitted into the mind with ease. But once being
there, its operation is continually to exalt and refine it--leading it
upwards forever to some higher point than it has hitherto arrived at. I do
not deny an elevating power to your philosophy when once an inmate of the
soul--I only assert the difficulty of receiving it on the part of the
common mind.'

'And the common mind has nothing to do,' replied the Greek, 'with Plato or
his wisdom. They are for minds of a higher order. Why should the man who
makes my sandals and my cloak be at the same time a philosopher? Would he
be the happier? In my opinion, it would but increase his discontent. Every
stitch that he set would be accompanied by the reflection, "What a poor
employment is this for a soul like mine, imbued with the best wisdom of
Greece," and if this did not make him miserable at his task, it would make
him contemptible when he should forsake it to do the work of some
Polemo--who, it may safely be presumed, has made some such exchange of
occupation. No. Philosophy is not for the many, but the few. Parts there
are of it which may descend and become a common inheritance. Other parts
there are, and it is of these I speak, which may not.'

'Therein,' I rejoined, 'I discern its inferiority to Christianity, which
appeals to all and is suited to all, to lowest as well as highest, to
highest as well as lowest.'

'But I remember to have been told,' said the Greek in reply, 'that
Christian teachers too have their mysteries--their doctrines for the
common people, and their refinements for the initiated.'

'I have heard not of it,' I answered; 'if it be so I should lament it. It
would detract from its value greatly in my judgment.'

'Where your information fails, Piso, mine perhaps may serve,' said Julia,
as I paused at fault. 'It is indeed true, as has been hinted by Longinus,
that some of the Christian doctors, through their weak and mistaken
ambition to assimilate their faith the nearest possible to the Greek
philosophy, have magnified the points in which the least resemblance could
be traced between them; and through the force of a lively imagination have
discovered resemblances which exist only in their fancies. These they make
their boast of, as showing that if Platonism be to be esteemed for its
most striking peculiarities, the very same, or ones nearly corresponding,
exist also in Christianity. Thus they hope to recommend their faith to the
lovers of philosophy. Many have by these means been drawn over to it, and
have not afterward altered any of their modes of life, and scarce any of
their opinions; still wearing the philosopher's robe and teaching their
former doctrines, slightly modified by a tincture of Christianity. However
the motive for such accommodation may be justified, it has already
resulted and must do so more and more to the corruption and injury of
Christianity. This religion, or philosophy, whichever it should be called,
ought however,' continued the Princess, addressing particularly the Greek,
'certainly to be judged on its own merits, and not by the conduct or
opinions of injudicious, weak, or dishonest advocates. You are not willing
that Plato should be judged by the criticisms of a Polemo, but insist that
the student should go to the pages of the philosopher himself, or else to
some living expositor worthy of him. So the Christian may say of
christianity. I have been a reader of the Christian records, and I can
say, that such secret and mysterious doctrines as you allude to, are not
to be found there. Moreover, I can refer you, for the same opinion, to
Paul of Antioch--I wish he were here--who, however he may depart from the
simplicity of the Christian life, maintains the simplicity of its
doctrine.'

'You have well shown, my fair pupil,' replied the philosopher, 'that the
imputation upon Christianity, of a secret and interior doctrine for the
initiated alone, is unjust, but therein have you deprived it of the very
feature that would commend it to the studious and inquisitive. It may
present itself as a useful moral guide to the common mind, but scarcely
can it hope to obtain that enthusiastic homage of souls imbued with the
love of letters, and of a refined speculation, which binds in such
true-hearted devotion every follower of Plato to the doctrine of his
divine master.'

At this moment Zabdas and Otho entered the apartment, and drawing near
to our group to salute the Queen, our conversation was broken off. I
took occasion, while this ceremony was going through, to turn aside and
survey the various beauty and magnificence of the room, with its rare
works of art. In this I was joined by Longinus, who, with a taste and a
power which I have seen in no other, descanted upon the more remarkable
of the pictures and statues, not in the manner of a lecturer, but with a
fine perception and observance of that nice line which separates the
learned philosopher from the polite man of the world. He was both at
once. He never veiled his learning or his genius, and yet never, by the
display of either, jarred the sensibilities of the most refined and
cultivated taste.

When we had in this way passed through the apartment, and were standing
looking toward where Zenobia sat engaged in earnest conversation with
Gracchus and Zabdas, Longinus said,

'Do you observe the restlessness of the Queen, and that flush upon her
cheek? She is thinking of to-morrow and of the departure of the
ambassadors. And so too is it with every other here. We speak of other
things, but the mind dwells but upon one. I trust the Queen will not lose
this fair occasion to gather once more the opinions of those who most love
and honor her. Piso, you have seen something of the attachment of this
people to their Queen. But you know not the one half of the truth. There
is not a living man in Palmyra, save only Antiochus, who would not lay
down his life for Zenobia. I except not myself. This attachment is founded
in part upon great and admirable qualities. But it is to be fully
explained only when I name the fascinations of a manner and a beauty such
as poets have feigned in former ages, but which never have been realized
till now. I acknowledge it,--we are slaves yoked to her car, and ask no
higher felicity or glory.'

'I wonder not,' said I; 'though a Roman, I have hardly myself escaped the
common fate; you need not be surprised to see me drawn, by-and-by, within
the charmed circle, and binding upon my own neck the silken chains and the
golden yoke. But see, the Queen asks our audience.'

We accordingly moved toward the seat which Zenobia now occupied,
surrounded by her friends, some being seated and others standing without
order around her.

'Good friends,' she said, 'I believe one thought fills every mind present
here. Is it not better that we give it utterance? I need the sympathy and
the counsel of those who love me. But I ask not only for the opinions of
those who agree with me, but as sincerely for those of such as may differ
from me. You know me well in this, that I refuse not to hearken to
reasons, the strongest that can be devised, although they oppose my own
settled judgment. Upon an occasion like this it would ill become the head
of a great empire to shut out the slenderest ray of light that from any
quarter might be directed upon the questions which so deeply interest and
agitate us. I believe that the great heart of my people goes with me in
the resolution I have taken, and am supported in by my council; but I am
well aware, that minds not inferior to any in strength, and hearts that
beat not less warmly toward their country and toward me than any others,
are opposed to that resolution, and anticipate nought but disaster and
ruin from a conflict with the masters of the world. Let us freely open our
minds each to other, and let no one fear to offend me, but by withholding
his full and free opinion.'

'We who know our Queen so well,' said Gracchus, 'hardly need these
assurances. Were I as bitterly opposed to the measures proposed as I am
decidedly in favor of them, I should none the less fearlessly and frankly
declare the reasons of my dissent. I am sure that every one here
experiences the freedom you enjoin. But who will need to use it? For are
we not of one mind? I see indeed one or two who oppose the general
sentiment. But for the rest, one spirit animates all, and what is more, to
the farthest limits of the kingdom am I persuaded the same spirit spreads,
and possesses and fills every soul. The attempt of Aurelian to control us
in our affairs, to dictate to us concerning the limits of our empire so
far removed, is felt to be a wanton freak of despotic power, which, if it
be not withstood in its first encroachment, may proceed to other acts less
tolerable still, and which may leave us scarcely our name as a distinct
people--and that covered with shame. Although a Roman by descent, I
advocate not Roman intolerance. I can see and denounce injustice in
Aurelian as well as in another. Palmyra is my country and Zenobia my
Queen, and when I seek not their honor, may my own fall blasted and
ruined. I stand ready to pledge for them in this emergency, what every
other man of Palmyra holds it his privilege to offer, my property and my
life, and if I have any possession dearer than these, I am ready to bring
and lay it upon the same altar.'

The eyes of Zenobia filled at the generous enthusiasm of her faithful
counsellor--and, for Fausta, it was only a look and sign of the Queen that
held her to her seat.

Longinus then, as seemed to be his place, entered at length into the
merits of the question. He did not hesitate to say that at the first
outbreak of these difficulties he had been in favor of such concessions to
the pride of Rome as would perhaps have appeased her and cast no
indignity upon Palmyra. He did not scruple to add that he had deeply
disapproved and honestly censured that rash act of the young princes in
assuming the garb and state of Cæsars. He would rather leave to Rome her
own titles and empire, and stand here upon a new and independent footing.
It was a mad and useless affront, deeply wounding to the pride of
Aurelian, and the more rankling as it was of the nature of a personal as
well as national affront. He withheld not blame too from that towering
ambition which, as he said, coveted the world because the gods had indeed
imparted a genius capable to rule the world. He had exerted all his powers
to moderate and restrain it, by infusing a love of other than warlike
pursuits. 'But,' said he, 'the gods weave the texture of our souls, not
ourselves; and the web is too intensely wove and drenched in too deep a
dye for us to undo or greatly change. The eagle cannot be tamed down to
the softness of a dove, and no art of the husbandman can send into the
gnarled and knotted oak the juices that shall smooth and melt its
stiffness into the yielding pliancy of the willow. I wage no war with the
work of the gods. Besides, the demands of Rome have now grown to such a
size that they swallow up our very existence as a free and sovereign
state. They leave us but this single city and province out of an empire
that now stretches from the Nile to the Bosphorus--an empire obtained by
what cost of blood and treasure I need not say, any more than by what
consummate skill in that art which boasts the loftiest minds of all ages.'
He went on to say, that Palmyra owed a duty not only to herself in this
matter, but to the whole East, and even to the world. For what part of the
civilized world had not been trampled into dust by the despotism of
almighty Rome? It was needful to the well-being of nations that some power
should boldly stand forth and check an insolence that suffered no city nor
kingdom to rest in peace. No single people ought to obtain universal
empire. A powerful nation was the more observant of the eternal principles
of honor and justice for being watched by another, its equal. Individual
character needs such supervision, and national as much. Palmyra was now an
imposing object in the eye of the whole world. It was the second power.
All he wished was, that for the sake of the world's peace, it should
retain this position. He deprecated conquest. However another might aspire
to victory over Aurelian, to new additions from the Roman territory, he
had no such aspirations. On the other hand, he should deplore any success
beyond the maintenance of a just and honorable independence. This was our
right, he said, by inheritance, and as much also by conquest, and for
this he was ready, with the noble Gracchus, to offer to his sovereign his
properties, his powers, and his life. 'If my poor life,' he closed with
saying, 'could prolong by a single year the reign of one who, with virtues
so eminent and a genius so vast, fills the throne of this fair kingdom, I
would lay it at her feet with joy, and think it a service well done for
our own and the world's happiness.'

No sooner had Longinus ended, than Otho, a man of whom I have more than
once spoken to you, begged to say a few words.

'My opinions are well known,' he began with saying, 'and it may be
needless that I should again, and especially here, declare them, seeing
that they will jar so rudely with those entertained by you, my friends
around me. But sure I am, that no one has advocated the cause and the
sentiments which Zenobia cherishes so fondly, with a truer, deeper
affection for her, with a sincerer love of her glory, than I rise to
oppose them with--' 'We know it, we know it, Otho,' interrupted the Queen.
'Thanks, noble Queen, for the fresh assurance of it. It is because I love,
that I resist you. It is because I glory in your reign, in your renown, in
your virtues, that I oppose an enterprise that I see with a prophet's
vision will tarnish them all. Were I your enemy, I could not do better
than to repeat the arguments that have just fallen from the lips of the
head of our councils, set off with every trick of eloquence that would
send them with a yet more resistless power into the minds not only of
those who are assembled here, but of those, your subjects, wherever over
these large dominions they are scattered. To press this war is to
undermine the foundations of the fairest kingdom the sun shines upon, and
unseat the most beloved ruler that ever swayed a sceptre over the hearts
of a devoted people. It can have no other issue. And this is not, O noble
Queen, to throw discredit upon former achievements, or to express a doubt
of powers which have received the homage of the world. It is only with
open eyes to acknowledge what all but the blind must see and confess, the
overwhelming superiority in power of every kind of the other party. With a
feeble man upon the Roman throne, and I grant that upon the outskirts of
her empire a brave and determined opposition might obtain great
advantages, and conquer or re-conquer provinces and cities, and bring
disgrace upon Roman generals. But this must be a transitory glory--the
mere shooting of an evening star--ending in deeper gloom. For what is
Rome? Is it the commander of a legion, or the resident governor of a
dependent kingdom, or even Cæsar himself? And have you dealt with Rome
when you have dealt with Balista, or Heraclianus, or Probus? Alas! no.
Rome still stands omnipotent and secure. The lion has been but chafed, and
is still a lion, with more than his former fury; one hair has been drawn;
his teeth, his limbs, his massy weight, his untouched energies, remain.
Rome has been asleep for thirteen long years. Any empire but Rome--which
is immortal--would have slept the sleep of death under the dastardly,
besotted Gallienus. But Rome has but slumbered, and has now awaked with
renovated powers, under the auspices of a man whose name alone has carried
terror and dismay to the farthest tribes of the German forests. Against
Aurelian, with all the world at his back! and what can any resistance of
ours avail? We may gain a single victory--to that, genius and courage are
equal, and we possess them in more than even Roman measure--but that very
victory may be our undoing, or it will but embitter the temper of the
enemy, call forth a new display of unexhausted and inexhaustible
resources, while our very good success itself will have nearly annihilated
our armies; and what can happen then but ruin, absolute and complete?
Roman magnanimity may spare our city and our name. But it is more likely
that Roman vengeance may blot them both out from the map of the world, and
leave us nought but the fame of our Queen, and the crumbling ruins of this
once flourishing city, by which to be remembered by posterity.

'These are not the counsels of fear--of a tame and cowardly spirit. I
may rebut that imputation without vanity, by referring to the siege of
Ctesiphon and the reduction of Egypt. The generous Zabdas will do me
justice--nay, you all will--why am I apprehensive? Bear with me a moment
more'--'Say on, say on, noble Otho,' said the Queen, and many other voices
at the same time.--'The great Longinus has said,' continued he, 'that it
is needful that there be one empire at least in the world to stand between
Rome and universal dominion. I believe it. And that Palmyra may be, or
continue to be, that kingdom, I counsel peace--I counsel delay--temporary
concession--negotiation--any thing but war. A Roman emperor lives not
forever; and let us once ward off the jealousy of Aurelian, by yielding to
some of his demands, and resigning pretensions which are nothing in
reality, but exist as names and shadows only, and long years of peace and
prosperity may again arise, when our now infant kingdom may shoot up into
the strong bone and muscle of a more vigorous manhood, and with reason
assert rights, which now it seems but madness, essential madness, to do.
Listen, great Queen! to the counsels of a time-worn soldier, whose whole
soul is bound up in most true-hearted devotion to your greatness and
glory. I quarrel not with your ambition, or your love of warlike fame. I
would only direct them to fields where they may pluck fresh laurels, and
divert them from those where waits--pardon me, my royal
mistress!--inevitable shame.'

Soon as Otho had given a single sign of pause, Zabdas, like a war-horse,
sprang upon his feet. 'Were not the words,' said he, 'which we have just
heard, the words of Otho, I would cry out treason! treason!--But Otho--is
Otho. What nation would ever, O Queen, outgrow its infancy, were a policy
like this, now descanted upon, to guide its counsels? The general who
risks nothing can win nothing. And the nation that should wait till
absolutely sure of victory before unsheathing the sword would never draw
it, or only in some poor skirmish, where victory would be as disgraceful
as defeat. Besides, although such a nation were to rise by such victories,
if victories those may be called won by a thousand over an hundred, who
would not blush to own himself a citizen of it? Greatness lies not in
pounds weight of flesh, but in skill, courage, warlike genius, energy, and
an indomitable will. A great heart will scatter a multitude. The love of
freedom, in a few brave spirits, overthrows kingdoms. It was not, if I
rightly remember, numbers by which the Persian hosts were beaten upon the
plains of Greece. It was there something like three hundred to a
million--the million weighed more than the three hundred, yet the three
hundred were the heavier. The arm of one Spartan fell like a tempest upon
the degenerate Persians, crushing its thousands at a single sweep. It was
a great heart and a trusting spirit that made it weigh so against mere
human flesh. Are we to wait till Palmyra be as multitudinous as Rome, ere
we risk a battle? Perhaps Rome will grow as fast as Palmyra--and how long
must we then wait? I care not, though Aurelian bring half Europe at his
back, there sits a throned spirit--whether of earth or not, I cannot tell,
but as I think more than half divine--who will drive him back shattered
and bleeding, the jest and ridicule of the observing world. She who, by
the force of pure intellect, has out of this speck in the desert made a
large empire, who has humbled Persia, and entered her capital in triumph,
has defeated three Roman armies, and wrested more provinces than time will
allow me to number, from the firm grasp of the self-styled mistress of the
world, this more than Semiramis is to be daunted forsooth, because a Roman
soldier of fortune sends his hirelings here and asks of her the surrender
of three fourths of her kingdom--she is to kneel and cry him mercy--and
humbly lay at his royal feet the laurels won by so much precious blood and
treasure. May the sands of the desert bury Palmyra and her Queen, sooner
than one humiliating word shall pass those lips, or one act of concession
blast a fame to this hour spotless as the snows of Ararat, and bright as
the Persian God. Shame upon the man who, after the lessons of the past,
wants faith in his sovereign. Great Queen, believe me, the nation is with
you. Palmyra, as one man, will pour out treasure to the last and least
dust of gold, and blood to the last drop, that you may still sit secure
upon that throne, and stretch your sceptre over a yet wider and
undishonored empire.'

'Let not the Queen,' resumed Otho, as Zabdas ceased, 'let not the Queen
doubt my faith'--'I doubt it not, good Otho,' she replied; 'heed not the
sharp words of the impetuous Zabdas; in his zeal for the art he only loves
and for his Queen, he has thrust his lance hither and thither at all
adventures, but as in the sports of the field he means no injury.'

'Zabdas intends no wrong, I am well assured,' rejoined Otho. 'I would only
add a word, to show upon what I ground my doubt of good success, should
Aurelian muster all his strength. It cannot be thought that I have lost my
faith in the military genius and prowess of either Zenobia or Zabdas, with
both of whom, side by side, I have fought so many times, and by their
conduct mounted up to victory. Neither do I doubt the courage of our
native Palmyrenes, nor their devotion to the interests of their country.
They will war to the death. But should a second army be to be raised,
should the chosen troops of the city and its neighboring territories be
once cut off, upon whom are we then to rely? Where are the auxiliaries
whom we can trust? What reliance can be placed upon Arabs, the Armenians,
the Saracens, the Cappadocians, the Syrians? Is our empire so old, and so
well moulded into one mass, so single in interest and affection, that
these scattered tribes--formerly hostile to each other and to us, many,
most of them at different times subject to Rome--may be depended upon as
our own people? Have we legions already drawn from their numbers,
disciplined, and accustomed to our modes of warfare? Truly, this war with
Rome seems to be approached much as if it were but some passing show of
arms, some holiday pastime. But the gods grant that none of my forebodings
turn true!'

The words of the sober-minded and honest Otho found no echo in the bosoms
of those who heard him, and he ceased, when I believe he would willingly
have gone on to a closer and sharper opposition. Others followed him, each
one present eagerly pressing forward to utter, were it but one word, to
show his loyalty, and his zeal in the service of his Queen.

When all, or nearly all, had in this manner manifested their attachment
and declared their opinions, the Queen turned to me, saying, that as I had
there heard so much of what I could not approve, and perhaps had power to
disprove, it was right that if I wished I should also express my opinions;
nay, it would be esteemed as a favor by herself, and she was sure also by
all her friends, if I would freely impart any knowledge I might possess,
by which any error might be corrected, or false impressions dissipated.

Being thus invited, I not unwillingly entered into the questions that had
been agitated, and with earnestness and sincerity, and with all the power
I could bring to bear, labored to expose the imminent hazard to the very
existence of the kingdom, which was run by this rash encounter with the
countless hosts of Rome. I revealed a true picture of the resources of our
country, and sketched, as I could so well do in their proper colors, the
character of the fierce Aurelian; and, in a word, did all that a Roman
could do for Rome, and a Palmyrene for Palmyra. I remembered what Otho had
told me of the courtesy and willingness with which any company of genuine
Palmyrenes would listen to me, and shrank not from any statement however
harsh and grating to their national vanity, but which seemed to me to
convey the wholesome truth. It appeared to me indeed too late to work any
change in minds so pledged already to an adopted opinion, but I resolved
to leave nothing untried to turn them from a bent that must end in
irretrievable ruin. I was encouraged too, and urged on to more than a
common effort, by the imploring countenance of the Princess Julia, who, in
that expressive manner, begged me to use all frankness and boldness in my
communications. Otho had, it is true, with great power and unshrinking
fidelity, advocated the cause of peace, and laid bare the true motives to
the war, but still it appeared to me that much might be said by a Roman
and a stranger, that would carry with it more weight than as coming from a
citizen, however loved and respected. To you, my friend, I need enter into
no detail; you will easily imagine what it was, as a Roman, I should urge
upon such an occasion, and in such a presence. I shall always remember
with satisfaction, I am sure, whatever the issue of this difference may
be, my efforts to preserve peace between two nations, whose best interests
must be advanced not by enmity and war, but by the closest alliance of
friendly intercourse.

I was heard with attention and respect, and afterwards with sincerity
thanked, not only by the opposers of the present measures, but by their
advocates also; they were glad to know the worst that could be said
against the cause they had espoused. A brief silence ensued as I ended,
and the eyes of all were instinctively turned upon Zenobia, the ruling
spirit--the maker of the kingdom--its soul--its head--and bright,
peerless crown.

'It was my wish,' said Zenobia, answering the general expectation,
'before the final decision of the senate and the council, to receive from
my friends, in social confidence, a full expression of their feelings,
their opinions, their hopes, and their fears, concerning the present
posture of our affairs. My wish has been gratified, and I truly thank you
all, and not least those my friends--as a philosopher, should I not term
them my best friends?--who, with a generous trust in me and in you who are
on my part, have not shrunk from the duty, always a hard one, of exposing
the errors and the faults of those they love. After such exposure--and
which at more length and with more specification will, I trust, be
repeated in the hearing of the senate and the council--it cannot be said
that I blindly rushed upon danger and ruin, if these await us, or weakly
blundered upon a wider renown, if that, as I doubt not, is to be the event
of the impending contest. I would neither gain nor lose, but as the effect
of a wise calculation and a careful choice of means. Withhold not now your
confidence, which before you have never refused me. Believe that now, as
ever before, I discern with a clear eye the path which is to conduct us to
a yet higher pitch of glory. I have long anticipated the emergency that
has arisen. I was not so ignorant of the history and character of the
Roman people, as to suppose that they would suffer an empire like this,
founded and governed by a woman, to divide long with them the homage of
the world. With the death of the ignoble son of Valerian, I believed would
close our undisputed reign over most of these eastern provinces. Had
Claudius lived, good as he was, he was too Roman in his mould not to have
done what Aurelian now attempts. I prepared then for the crisis which has
come not till now. I am ready now. My armies are in complete discipline;
the city itself so fortified with every art and muniment of war as safely
to defy any power that any nation may array before its walls. But were
this not so; did the embassy of Aurelian take us by surprise and
unprepared; should a people that respects itself, and would win or keep
the good opinion of mankind, tamely submit to requisitions like these? Are
we to dismember our country at the behest of a stranger, of a foreigner,
and a Roman? Do you feel that without a struggle first for freedom and
independence, you could sink down into a mean tributary of all-ingulfing
Rome, and lose the name of Palmyrene? I see by the most expressive of all
language, that you would rather die. Happy are you, my friends, that this
is not your case; you are ready for the enemy; you shall not lose your
name or your renown; and you shall not die. I and my brave soldiers will
at a distance breast the coming storm; your ears shall not so much as hear
its thunder; and at the worst, by the sacrifice of our lives, your and
your country's life shall be preserved.

'I am advised to avert this evil by negotiation, by delay. Does any one
believe that delay on our part will change the time-engendered character
of Rome? If I cease to oppose, will Rome cease to be ambitious? Will fair
words turn aside the fierce spirit of Aurelian from his settled purpose?
Will he--so truly painted by the Roman Piso--who looks to build an undying
name, by bringing back the empire to the bounds that compassed it under
the great Antonines, let slip the glory for a few cities now in hand, and
others promised? or for the purple robe humbly pulled from our young
Cæsars' shoulders? Believe it not. The storm that threatens might be so
warded off perhaps for a day--a month--a year--a reign--but after that it
would come, and, in all reasonable calculation, with tenfold fury. I would
rather meet the danger at its first menace, and thereby keep our good
name,--which otherwise should we not sully or lose?--and find it less too
than a few years more would make it.

'I am charged with pride and ambition. The charge is true, and I glory in
its truth. Who ever achieved any thing great in letters, arts, or arms,
who was not ambitious? Cæsar was not more ambitious than Cicero. It was
but in another way. All greatness is born of ambition. Let the ambition be
a noble one, and who shall blame it? I confess I did once aspire to be
Queen not only of Palmyra, but of the East. That I am. I now aspire to
remain so. Is it not an honorable ambition? Does it not become a
descendant of the Ptolemys and of Cleopatra? I am applauded by you all for
what I have already done. You would not it should have been less. But why
pause here? Is so much ambition praiseworthy, and more criminal? Is it
fixed in nature that the limits of this empire should be Egypt on the one
hand, the Hellespont and the Euxine on the other? Were not Suez and
Armenia more natural limits? Or hath empire no natural limit, but is broad
as the genius that can devise, and the power that can win? Rome has the
West. Let Palmyra possess the East Not that nature prescribes this and no
more. The gods prospering, and I swear not that the Mediterranean shall
hem me in upon the West, or Persia on the East. Longinus is right--I would
that the world were mine. I feel within the will and the power to bless
it, were it so.

'Are not my people happy? I look upon the past and the present, upon my
nearer and remoter subjects, and ask nor fear the answer--whom have I
wronged? what province have I oppressed? what city pillaged? what region
drained with taxes? whose life have I unjustly taken, or estates coveted
or robbed? whose honor have I wantonly assailed? whose rights, though of
the weakest and poorest, have I trenched upon? I dwell where I would ever
dwell, in the hearts of my people. It is writ in your faces, that I reign
not more over you than within you. The foundation of my throne is not more
power than love. Suppose now, my ambition add another province to our
realm? Is it an evil? The kingdoms already bound to us by the joint acts
of ourself and the late royal Odenatus, we found discordant and at war.
They are now united and at peace. One harmonious whole has grown out of
hostile and sundered parts. At my hands they receive a common justice and
equal benefits. The channels of their commerce have I opened, and dug them
deep and sure. Prosperity and plenty are in all their borders. The streets
of our capital bear testimony to the distant and various industry which
here seeks its market. This is no vain boasting--receive it not so, good
friends: it is but truth. He who traduces himself, sins with him who
traduces another. He who is unjust to himself, or less than just, breaks a
law as well as he who hurts his neighbor. I tell you what I am and what I
have done, that your trust for the future may not rest upon ignorant
grounds. If I am more than just to myself, rebuke me. If I have
overstepped the modesty that became me, I am open to your censure, and
will bear it. But I have spoken, that you may know your Queen--not only by
her acts, but by her admitted principles. I tell you then that I am
ambitious--that I crave dominion, and while I live will reign. Sprung from
a line of kings, a throne is my natural seat. I love it. But I strive
too--you can bear me witness that I do--that it shall be, while I sit upon
it, an honored, unpolluted seat. If I can, I will hang a yet brighter
glory round it.

'And as to pride--what if my woman's nature, that nature the gods
implanted and I have received from royal ancestors, loves the pomp and
show of power? What if the pride which dwells in all high natures
gratifies itself in me by planting its feet upon an Indian princess, as
its only fitting footstool, who'--Suddenly at this point of her discourse
the Queen broke off, and advancing from where she stood--she had risen
from her seat in the ardor of her address--greeted with native courtesy
and grace the Roman ambassadors, who, in company with others of their
train, we now saw to enter the apartments.

The company, upon this, again resolved itself into many separate groups,
and returned to such private topics as each one liked, Zenobia devoting
herself to Varro and Petronius.

By and by, at the striking up of music, we moved to another apartment, the
banqueting hall--the same Egyptian room in which I had before partaken
the hospitalities of the Eastern Queen, where tables, set out with the
most lavish magnificence, and bending beneath the most tempting burdens,
awaited our approach. A flood of light was poured from the ceiling, and
reflected back again from the jewelled wine cups and embossed gold of
Demetrius.

But I cannot pretend to describe this sumptuous feast. I will only say,
that the Queen, seated between the Roman ambassadors, gave the evening to
them. And what with the frequent cups in which she pledged them, and the
fascinating charms of her beauty and her conversation, I fear there was
but little of the Roman in them when they rose to depart. In this more
peaceful way has Zenobia won provinces and cities, as well as at the head
of her armies. Farewell.



Letter XI.



From my late letters to Portia, and which without doubt you have before
this read, you have learned with certainty, what I am sure the eye of
Lucilia must before have clearly discerned, my love of the Princess Julia.
I have there related all that it can import my friends to know. The
greatest event of my life--the issues of which, whether they are to crown
me with a felicity the gods might envy, or plunge me in afflictions divine
compassions could not assuage--I have there described with that careful
concern for your fullest information, touching all that befalls me, by
which you will bear me testimony I have been actuated during my residence
in this Eastern capital.

You will not be surprised to learn that my passion is opposed by the
Queen. It was in the same apartment of the palace where I first saw this
wonderful woman, that at a late interview with her, at her command, I was
enjoined to think no more of an alliance with her house.

I was, as you may easily imagine, not a little disturbed in anticipation
of an interview with such a person, on such an occasion. Fausta assured me
that I might rely upon the Queen's generosity, and could look to receive
only the most courteous reception, whatever her decision might be on my
suit. 'I fear greatly for your success,' said she, 'but pray the gods both
for your and the Princess' sake my fears may not come true. Julia lives in
her affections--she cannot like me become part of the world abroad, and
doubly live in its various action. She loves Zenobia indeed with the
truest affection, but she has given her heart to you, Lucius, and
disappointment here would feed upon her very life. She ought not to be
denied. She cannot bear it. Yet Zenobia, devoured by ambition, and holding
so little sympathy with human hearts in their mutual loves--all the world
to them--may deny her, nor ever half conceive the misery she will inflict
upon a being she loves and even reveres. Press your cause, Lucius, with a
manly boldness. The gods succeed you.'

The Queen received me graciously, but with a fixed and almost severe
countenance. She expressed herself obliged to me for the early knowledge
of what otherwise she had not so much as suspected. 'Living myself,' said
she 'far above any dependence upon love for my happiness, I am not prone
to see the affection in others. The love which fastens upon objects
because they are worthy, I can understand and honor. But that mad and
blind passion, which loves only because it will love, which can render no
reason for its existence but a hot and capricious fancy, I have had no
experience of in my own heart, and where I see it I have no feeling for it
but one of disapprobation or contempt. If it be but the beauty of Julia
which has bewitched thy fancy, Roman, amuse thyself with a brief tour of
pleasure, either to Antioch or Alexandria, and other objects will greet
thee, and soon drive her from thy thoughts.'

I assured her that my regard was not of this kind; that indeed her
transcendent beauty had first won me, but that other qualities retained
me; that the bond which held me was as much friendship as love, and I
might say as much reverence as friendship.

'The greater the pity, Roman,' rejoined the Queen in a voice somewhat
stern, but yet melancholy, 'the greater the pity. In truth, I had hoped
thine was but the love of the painted image, and might without pain be
transferred to another, painted but as well. Yet, had I reflected upon the
sentiments I have heard from thee, I might have judged thee nobler. But,
Piso, this must not be. Were I to look only to myself and Julia, I might
well be pleased with a tie that bound us to one whom I have so weighty
reasons to respect and honor. But to do this I have no right. I am not my
own, but the State's. Julia is no daughter of mine, but the property of
Palmyra. Marriage is one of the chief bonds of nations, as of families.
Were it not a crime in me, with selfish regard to my own or my daughter's
pleasure, to bestow her upon a private citizen of whatever worth, when,
espousing her to some foreign prince, a province or a kingdom may be won
or saved?'

'But,' I ventured to remark, 'are the hearts of princes and princesses to
be bartered away for power or territory? are the affections to be bought
and sold? Is the question of happiness to be no question in their case?'

'By no means the principal one. It is not necessarily a sacrifice, but if
necessary the sacrifice must be made. The world envies the lot of those
who sit upon thrones. But the seat is not without its thorns. It seems all
summer with them. But upon whom burst more storms, or charged with redder
fury? They seem to the unreflecting mind to be the only
independent--while they are the slaves of all. The prosperous citizen may
link himself and his children when and with whom he likes, and none may
gainsay him. He has but to look to himself and his merest whim. The royal
family must go and ask his leave. My children are more his than mine. And
if it be his pleasure and preference that my daughters ally themselves to
an Indian or a Roman prince, his will is done, not mine--his is the gain,
mine the loss. And were it just that, when by joining hands though not
hearts two nations could be knit together in amity, the royal house should
refuse the sacrifice? Roman, I live for Palmyra. I have asked of the gods
my children, not for my own pleasure, but for Palmyra's sake. I should
give the lie to my whole life, to every sentiment I have harbored since
that day I gave myself to the royal Odenatus, were I now to bestow upon a
private citizen her, through whom we have so long looked to ally ourselves
by a new and stronger bond to some neighboring kingdom. Julia, Roman--you
have seen her, you know her, you can appreciate her more than human
qualities--Julia is the destined bride of Hormisdas. By her, on Sapor's
death, do we hope to bind together by chains never to be afterward
sundered, Persia and Palmyra, who, then leagued by interest and affection,
may as one kingdom stand up with the more hope against the overwhelming
force of Rome. Were I justified to forego this advantage for any private
reason? Can you doubt, were I not constrained to act otherwise, whether I
should prefer some nobleman of Palmyra, or thee, that so I might ever
dwell within the charmed influence of one, from whom to part will be like
the pang of death?'

'But the princess,'--I again urged.

'That is scarcely a question,' she rejoined. 'She may be a sacrifice; but
it will be upon her country's altar. How many of our brave soldiers, how
many of our great officers, with devoted patriotism throw away their lives
for their country. You will not say that this is done for the paltry
recompense, which at best scarce shields the body from the icy winds of
winter, or the scorching rays of summer. And shall not a daughter of the
royal house stand ready to encounter the hardships of a throne, the
dangers of a Persian court, and the terrors of a royal husband, especially
when by doing so, fierce and bloody wars may be staid, and nations brought
into closer unity? I know but little of Hormisdas; report speaks well of
him. But were it much less that I know, and were report yet less
favorable, it were not enough to turn me from my purpose. Palmyra married
to Persia, through Julia married to Hormisdas, is that upon which I and my
people dwell.'

'Better a thousand times,' I then said, 'to be born to the lot of the
humblest peasant--a slave's is no worse.'

'Upon love's calendar,' said the Queen, 'so it is. But have I not freely
admitted, Roman, the dependency, nay slavery, of a royal house? It would
grieve my mother's heart, I need scarce assure thee, were Julia unhappy.
But grief to me might bring joy to two kingdoms.'

I then could not but urge the claims of my own family, and that by a
more powerful and honored one she could not ally herself to Rome; and
might not national interest be as well promoted by such a bond, as by one
with the remoter East? I was the friend too of Aurelian, much in his
confidence and regard.

Zenobia paused, and was for a few moments buried in thought. A faint
smile for the first time played over her features as she said in reply,
'I wish for your sake and Julia's it could be so. But it is too late.
Rome is resolved upon the ruin of Palmyra--she cannot be turned aside.
Aurelian for worlds would not lose the glory of subduing the East. The
greater need of haste in seeking a union with Persia. Were Sapor dead
to-day, to-morrow an embassy should start for Ecbatana. But think not,
Piso, I harbor ill will toward you, or hold your offer in contempt. A
Queen of the East might not disdain to join herself to a family, whose
ancestors were like yours. That Piso who was once the rival, and in
power--not indeed in virtue--the equal of the great Germanicus, and
looked, not without show of reason, to the seat of Tiberius; and he who
so many years and with such honor reigned over the city its unequalled
governor; and thou the descendant and companion of princes--an alliance
with such might well be an object of ambition with even crowned heads.
And it may well be, seeing the steps by which many an emperor of Rome has
climbed upon his precarious seat, that the coming years may behold thee
in the place which Aurelian fills, and, were I to pleasure thee in thy
request, Julia empress of the world! The vision dazzles! But it cannot
be. It would be sad recreancy to my most sacred duty were I, falling in
love with a dream, to forsake a great reality.'

'I may not then--' I began.

'No, Piso, you may not even hope. I have reasoned with you because I honor
you. But think not that I hesitate or waver. Julia can never be yours. She
is the daughter of the state, and to a state must be espoused. Seek not
therefore any more to deepen the place which you hold in her affections.
Canst thou not be a friend, and leave the lover out? Friendship is a
sentiment worthy godlike natures, and is the true sweetener of the cup of
life. Love is at best but a bitter sweet; and when sweetest, it is the
friendship mingled with it that makes it so. Love, too, wastes away with
years. Friendship is eternal. It rests upon qualities that are a part of
the soul. The witchery of the outward image helps not to make it, nor
being lost as it is with age, can dissolve it. Friendship agrees too with
ambition, while love is its most dreaded rival. Need I point to Antony?
If, Piso, thou wouldst live the worthy heir of thy great name; if thou
wouldst build for thyself a throne in the esteem of mankind, admit
friendship, but bar out love. And I trust to hear that thou art great in
Rome, greater even than thine ancestor Galba's adopted son. Aim at even
the highest, and the arrow, if it reach it not, will hit the nearer. When
thou art Cæsar, send me an embassy. Then perhaps--'

She closed with that radiant smile that subdues all to her will, her
manner at the same time giving me to understand that the conversation was
ended, her own sentence being left playfully unfinished.

I urged not many things which you may well suppose it came into my mind to
do, for I neither wished, nor did I feel as if I had a right, at an hour
of so much public inquietude, to say aught to add to the burden already
weighing upon her. Besides, it occurred to me, that when within so short a
time great public changes may take place, and the relations of parties be
so essentially altered, it was not worth while to give utterance to
sentiments, which the lapse of a brief period might show to have been
unnecessary and unwise. I may also add that the presence of this great
woman is so imposing; she seems, in the very nature and form the gods have
given her, to move so far above the rest of her kind, that I found it
impossible both to say much of what I had intended to say, and to express
what I did say with the ease and propriety which are common to me on
ordinary or other extraordinary occasions. They are few, I believe, who
possess themselves fully in her presence. Even Longinus confesses a
constraint.

'It is even as I apprehended,' said Fausta, as I communicated to her the
result of my interview with the Queen. 'I know her heart to have been set
upon a foreign alliance by marriage with Julia, and that she has been
looking forward with impatience to the time when her daughters should be
of an age to add in this way new strength to the kingdom. I rather hoped
than had faith, that she would listen to your proposals. I thought that
perhaps the earnestness of the princess, with the Queen's strong
affection for her, together with the weight of your family and name,
might prevail. But then I have asked myself, if it were reasonable to
indulge such a hope. The Queen is right in stating as she did her
dependence, in some sort, upon the people. It is they, as well as she,
who are looking forward to this Persian marriage. I know not what
discontents would break out were Hormisdas postponed to Piso--Persia to
Rome. My position, Lucius, I think a sadder one than Zenobia's. I love
Julia as dearly as Zenobia, and you a great deal more than Zenobia does,
and would fain see you happy; and yet I love Palmyra I dare not say how
much--nor that, if by such an act good might come to my country, I could
almost wish that Julia should live in Persia.'

I have within me a better ground of hope than is guessed either by the
Queen or Fausta, but yet can name it not. I mention this to you, and pass
to other things.

       *       *       *       *       *

The city has to-day been greatly moved, owing to the expected audience of
our ambassadors before the council, and their final answer. The streets
are thronged with multitudes not engaged in the active affairs of traffic,
but standing in larger or smaller crowds talking, and hearing or telling
news, as it arrives from the palace or from abroad.

       *       *       *       *       *

The die is cast The ambassadors are dismissed. The decision of the council
has been confirmed by the senate, and Varro and Petronius have with their
train departed from the city. War therefore is begun. For it was the
distinct language of the embassy, that no other terms need be proposed,
nor would be accepted, beside those offered by them. None others have been
offered on the part of Palmyra. And the ambassadors have been delayed
rather to avoid the charge of unreasonable precipitancy, than in the
belief that the public mind would incline to or permit any reply more
moderate than that which they have borne back to the emperor.

It is understood that Aurelian, with an army perfectly equipped, stands
waiting, ready to start for Asia on the arrival of the ambassadors or
their couriers. From your last letters I gather as much. How, again I
ask--as I have often asked both myself and the principal persons here--how
is it possible there should be but one issue to this contest? Yet from
language which I heard in the senate, as well as in the private apartments
of the Queen, there is a mad confidence, that after a battle or two on the
outskirts of the kingdom, in which they shall conquer as always
heretofore, an advantageous peace will end the contest. In the senate,
scarce a voice was raised for concession; its mere mention was enough to
bring down the most bitter charges of a want of patriotism, a Roman
leaning, a sordid regard to the interests of commerce over those of honor,
a poor and low-minded spirit. Such as had courage to lift up a warning
voice were soon silenced by the universal clamor of the opposite party;
and although the war was opposed by some of the ablest men in the kingdom,
men inferior to none of those who have come more especially within my
notice, and whom I have named to you, yet it is termed a unanimous
decision, and so will be reported at Rome.

The simple truth is however that, with the exception of these very few,
there is no independent judgment in Palmyra, on great national
questions. The Queen is all in all. She is queen, council and senate.
Here are the forms of a republican deliberation, with the reality of a
despotic will. Not that Zenobia is a despotic prince, in any bad sense
of the term, but being of so exalted a character, ruling with such
equity and wisdom; moreover having created the kingdom by her own
unrivalled energies and genius, it has become the habit of the people to
defer to her in all things; their confidence and love are so deep and
fervent, that they have no will nor power now, I believe, to oppose her
in any measure she might propose. The city and country of Palmyra proper
are her property in as real a sense as my five hundred slaves, on my
Tiburtine farm, are mine. Nor is it very much otherwise with many of the
nearer allied provinces. The same enthusiasm pervades them. Her
watchfulness over their interests, her impartiality, her personal
oversight of them by means of the frequent passages she makes among
them, have all contributed to knit them to her by the closest ties. With
the more remote portions of the empire it is very different, and it
would require the operation of but slight causes to divide from their
allegiance Egypt, Armenia, and the provinces of Asia Minor.

How is not this rashness, this folly, to be deplored! Could the early
counsels of Longinus have been but heeded, all had been well. But he is
now as much devoted to the will and interests of Zenobia as any in the
kingdom, and lends all the energies of his great mind to the promotion of
her cause. He said truly, that he like others is but a slave yoked to her
car. His opinion now is, that no concessions would avail to preserve the
independent existence of Palmyra. The question lies between war and a
voluntary descent to the condition of a Roman province. Nothing less than
that will satisfy the ambition and the pride of Rome. The first step may
be such as that proposed by Varro--the lopping off of the late conquered
provinces, leaving Zenobia the city, the circumjacent territory, and
Syria. But a second step would soon follow the first, and the foot of
Aurelian would plant itself upon the neck of Zenobia herself. This he felt
assured of, both from observation upon the Roman character and history,
upon the personal character of Aurelian, and from private advices from
Rome. He is now accordingly the moving spirit of the enterprise, going
with all his heart and mind into every measure of the Queen.

I am just returned from a singular adventure. My hand trembles as I write.
I had laid down my pen and gone forth upon my Arab, accompanied by Milo,
to refresh and invigorate my frame after our late carousal--shall I term
it?--at the palace. I took my way, as I often do, to the Long Portico,
that I might again look upon its faultless beauty and watch the changing
crowds. Turning from that, I then amused my vacant mind by posting myself
where I could overlook, as if I were indeed the builder or superintendent,
the laborers upon the column of Aurelian. I became at length particularly
interested in the efforts of a huge elephant, who was employed in dragging
up to the foundations of the column, so that they might he fastened to
machines to be then hoisted to their place, enormous blocks of marble. He
was a noble animal, and, as it seemed to me, of far more than common size
and strength. Yet did not his utmost endeavors appear to satisfy the
demands of those who drove him, and who plied without mercy the barbed
scourges which they bore. His temper at length gave way. He was chained to
a mass of rock, which it was evidently beyond his power to move. It
required the united strength of two at least. But this was nothing to his
inhuman masters. They ceased not to urge him with cries and blows. One of
them at length, transported by that insane fury which seizes the vulgar
when their will is not done by the brute creation, laid hold upon a long
lance, terminated with a sharp iron goad, long as my sword, and rushing
upon the beast, drove it into his hinder part. At that very moment the
chariot of the Queen, containing Zenobia herself, Julia, and the other
princesses, came suddenly against the column, on its way to the palace. I
made every possible sign to the charioteer to turn and fly. But it was too
late. The infuriated monster snapped the chains that held him to the
stone, at a single bound, as the iron entered him, and trampling to death
one of his drivers, dashed forward to wreak his vengeance upon the first
object that should come in his way. That, to the universal terror and
distraction of the now scattered and flying crowds, was the chariot of the
Queen. Her mounted guards, at the first onset of the maddened animal,
putting their horses to their speed, by quick leaps escaped. The horses
attached to the chariot, springing forward to do the same, urged by the
lash of the charioteer, were met by the elephant with straightened trunk
and tail, who, in the twinkling of an eye, wreathed his proboscis round
the neck of the first he encountered, and wrenching him from his harness,
whirled him aloft and dashed him to the ground. This I saw was the moment
to save the life of the Queen, if it was indeed to be saved. Snatching
from a flying soldier his long spear, and knowing well the temper of my
horse, I ran upon the monster as he disengaged his trunk from the crushed
and dying Arabian for a new assault, and drove it with unerring aim into
his eye, and through that opening on into the brain. He fell as if a bolt
from heaven had struck him. The terrified and struggling horses of the
chariot were secured by the now returning crowds, and the Queen and the
princesses relieved from the peril which was so imminent, and had blanched
with terror every cheek but Zenobia's. She had stood the while, I was
told--there being no exertion which she could make--watching with eager
and intense gaze my movements, upon which she felt that their safety,
perhaps their lives, depended.

It all passed in a moment. Soon as I drew out my spear from the dying
animal, the air was rent with the shouts of the surrounding populace.
Surely, at that moment I was the greatest, at least the most fortunate,
man in Palmyra. These approving shouts, but still more the few words
uttered by Zenobia and Julia, were more than recompense enough for the
small service I had performed; especially, however, the invitation of
the Queen:

'But come, noble Piso, leave not the work half done; we need now a
protector for the remainder of the way. Ascend, if you will do us such
pleasure, and join us to the palace.'

I needed no repeated urging, but taking the offered seat--whereupon new
acclamations went up from the now augmented throngs--I was driven, as I
conceived, in a sort of triumph to the palace, where passing an hour,
which it seems to me held more than all the rest of my life, I have now
returned to my apartment, and relate what has happened for your
entertainment. You will not wonder that for many reasons my hand trembles,
and my letters are not formed with their accustomed exactness.

Again I am interrupted. What can be the meaning of the noise and running
to and fro which I hear? Some one with a quick, light foot approaches.

It is now night. The palace is asleep, but I take again my pen to tell you
of the accomplishment of the dear object for which I have wandered to this
distant spot. Calpurnius is arrived!

The quick, light foot by which I was disturbed was Fausta's. I knew it,
and sprang to the door. She met me with her bright and glowing countenance
bursting with expression. 'Calpurnius!' said she, 'your brother! is
here'--and seizing my hand drew me to the apartment where he sat by the
side of Gracchus; Isaac, with his inseparable pack, standing near.

I need not, as I cannot, describe our meeting. It was the meeting of
brothers--yet of strangers--and a confusion of wonder, curiosity, vague
expectation, and doubt, possessed the soul of each. I trust and believe,
that notwithstanding the different political bias which sways each, the
ancient ties which bound us together as brothers will again unite us. The
countenance of Calpurnius, though dark and almost stern in its general
expression, yet unbends and relaxes frequently and suddenly, in a manner
that impresses you forcibly with an inward humanity as the presiding
though often concealed quality of his nature. I can trace faintly the
features which have been stamped upon my memory--and the form too--chiefly
by the recollected scene of that bright morning, when he with our elder
brother and venerable parent gave me each a last embrace, as they started
for the tents of Valerian. A warmer climate has deepened the olive of his
complexion, and at the same time added brilliancy to an eye by nature soft
as a woman's. His Persian dress increases greatly the effect of his rare
beauty, yet I heartily wish it off, as it contributes more I believe than
the lapse of so many years to separate us. He will not seem and feel as a
brother till he returns to the costume of his native land. How great this
power of mere dress is upon our affections and our regard, you can
yourself bear witness, when those who parted from you to travel in foreign
countries have returned metamorphosed into Greeks, Egyptians, or Persians,
according to the fashions that have struck their foolish fancies. The
assumed and foreign air chills the untravelled heart as it greets them.
They are no longer the same. However the reason may strive to overcome
what seems the mere prejudice of a wayward nature, we strive in
vain--nature will be uppermost--and many, many times have I seen the
former friend-ships break away and perish.

I could not but be alive to the general justness of the comparison
instituted by Isaac, between Calpurnius and Julia. There are many points
of resemblance. The very same likeness in kind that we so often observe
between a brother and sister--such as we have often remarked in our
nephew and niece, Drusus and Lavinia--whose dress being changed, and they
are changed.

No sooner had I greeted and welcomed my brother, than I turned to Isaac
and saluted him, I am persuaded, with scarcely less cordiality.

'I sincerely bless the gods,' said I, 'that you have escaped the perils of
two such passages through the desert, and are safe in Palmyra. May every
wish of your heart, concerning your beloved Jerusalem, be accomplished. In
the keeping of Demetrius will you find not only the single talent agreed
upon in case you returned, but the two which were to be paid had you
perished. One such tempest upon the desert, escaped, is more and worse
than death itself met softly upon one's bed.'

'Now, Jehovah be praised,' ejaculated Isaac, 'who himself has moved thy
heart to this grace! Israel will feel this bounty through every limb, it
will be to her as the oil of life.'

'And my debt,' said Calpurnius, 'is greater yet, and should in reason be
more largely paid. Through the hands of Demetrius I will discharge it.'

'We are all bound to you,' said Fausta, 'more than words can tell or
money pay.'

'You owe more than you are perhaps aware of to the rhetoric of Isaac,'
added Calpurnius. 'Had it not been for the faithful zeal and cunning of
your messenger in his arguments not less than his contrivances, I had
hardly now been sitting within the walls of Palmyra.'

'But then again, noble Roman,' said Isaac, 'to be honest, I ought to say
what I said not--for it had not then occurred--in my letter to thy
brother, how by my indiscretion I had nearly brought upon myself the
wrath, even unto death, of a foul Persian mob, and so sealed thy fate
together with my own. Ye have heard doubtless of Manes the Persian, who
deems himself some great one, and sent of God? It was noised abroad ere I
left Palmyra, that for failing in a much boasted attempt to work a cure by
miracle upon the Prince Hormisdas, he had been strangled by order of
Sapor. Had he done so, his love of death-doing had at length fallen upon a
proper object, a true child of Satan. But as I can testify, his end was
not such, and is not yet. He still walks the earth, poisoning the air he
breathes, and deluding the souls of men. Him I encountered one day, the
very day I had despatched thy letter, in the streets of Ecbatana, dogged
at the heels by his twelve ragged apostles, dragging along their thin and
bloodless limbs, that seemed each step ready to give way beneath the
weight, little as it was, they had to bear. Their master, puffed up with
the pride of a reformer, as forsooth he holds himself, stalked by at their
head, drawing the admiration of the besotted people by his great show of
sanctity, and the wise saws which every now and then he let drop for the
edification of such as heard. Some of these sayings fell upon my ear, and
who was I, to hear them and not speak? Ye may know that this false prophet
has made it his aim to bring into one the Magian and Christian
superstitions, so that by such incongruous and deadly mixture he might
feed the disciples of those two widely sundered religions, retaining, as
he foolishly hoped, enough of the faith of each to satisfy all who should
receive the compound. In doing this he hath cast dirt upon the religion of
the Jew, blasphemously teaching that our sacred books are the work of the
author of evil, while those of Christ are by the author of good. With more
zeal, it must be confessed, than wisdom, seeing where I was and why I was
there, I resisted this father of lies, and withstood him to his face. 'Who
art thou, bold blasphemer,' I said, 'that takest away the Godhead,
breaking into twain that which is infinite and indivisible? Who art thou
to tread into the dust the faith of Abraham, and Moses, and the prophets,
imputing their words, uttered by the spirit of Jehovah, to the great enemy
of mankind? I wonder, people of Ecbatana, that the thunders of God sleep,
and strike him not to the earth as a rebel--nay, that the earth cleaveth
not beneath him and swalloweth him not up, as once before the rebels
Korah, Dathan, and Abiram;' and much more in the same mad way, till while
I was yet speaking, those lean and hungry followers of his set upon me
with violence, crying out against me as a Jew, and stirring up the people,
who were nothing unwilling, but fell upon me, and throwing me down,
dragged me to a gate of the city, and casting me out as I had been a dead
dog, returned themselves like dogs to their vomit--that accursed dish of
Manichean garbage. I believed myself for a long while surely dead; and in
my half conscious state took shame to myself, as I was bound to do, for
meddling in the affairs of Pagan misbelievers--putting thy safety at risk.
Through the compassion of an Arab woman dwelling without the walls, I was
restored and healed--for whose sake I shall ever bless the Ishmaelite. I
doubt not, Roman, while I lay at the hut of that good woman, thou
thoughtest me a false man?'

'I could not but think so,' said Calpurnius, 'and after the strong desire
of escape which you had at length kindled, I assure you I heaped curses
upon you in no stinted measure.'

'But all has ended well and so all is well,' said Fausta, 'and it was
perhaps too much to expect, Isaac, that you should stand quietly by and
hear the religion of your fathers traduced. You are well rewarded for what
you did and suffered, by the light in which your tribe will now regard
you, as an almost-martyr, and owing to no want of will, or endeavor on
your part, that almost did not end in quite. Hannibal, good Isaac, will
now see to your entertainment.'

'One word if it please you,' said Isaac, 'before I depart. The gentile
despises the Jew. He charges upon him usury and extortion. He accuses him
of avarice. He believes him to subsist upon the very life blood of
whomsoever he can draw into his meshes. I have known those who have firm
faith that the Jew feeds but upon the flesh and blood of Pagan and
Christian infants, whom, by necromantic power, he beguiles from their
homes. He is held as the common enemy of man, a universal robber, whom
all are bound to hate and oppress. Reward me now with your belief,
better than even the two gold talents I have earned, that all are not
such. This is the charity, and all that I would beg; and I beg it of you,
for that I love you all, and would have your esteem. Believe that in the
Jew there is a heart of flesh as well as in a dog. Believe that some
noble ambition visits his mind as well as yours. Credit it not--it is
against nature--that any tribe of man is what you make the Jew. Look upon
me, and behold the emblem of my tribe. What do you see? A man bent with
years and toil; this ragged tunic his richest garb; his face worn with
the storms of all climates; a wanderer over the earth; my home--Piso,
thou hast seen it--a single room, with my good dromedary's furniture for
my bed at night, and my seat by day; this pack my only apparent wealth.
Yet here have I now received two gold talents of Jerusalem!--what most
would say were wealth enough, and this is not the tythe of that which I
possess. What then? Is it for that I love obscurity, slavery, and a
beggar's raiment, that I live and labor thus, when my wealth would raise
me to a prince's state? Or is it that I love to sit and count my hoarded
gains? Good friends, for such you are, believe it not. You have found me
faithful and true to my engagements; believe my word also. You have heard
of Jerusalem, once the chief city of the East, where stood the great
temple of our faith, and which was the very heart of our nation, and you
know how it was beleaguered by the Romans, and its very foundations
rooted up, and her inhabitants driven abroad as outcasts, to wander over
the face of the earth, with every where a country, but no where a home.
And does the Jew, think you, sit down quietly under these wrongs?
Trajan's reign may answer that. Is there no patriotism yet alive in the
bosom of a Jew? Will every other toil and die for his country and not the
Jew? Believe me again, the prayers which go up morning, noon and night,
for the restoration of Jerusalem, are not fewer than those which go up
for Rome or Palmyra. And their deeds are not less; for every prayer there
are two acts. It is for Jerusalem! that you behold me thus in rags, and
yet rich. It is for her glory that I am the servant of all and the scorn
of all, that I am now pinched by the winters of Byzantium, now scorched
by the heats of Asia, and buried beneath the sands of the desert. All
that I have and am is for Jerusalem. And in telling you of myself, I have
told you of my tribe. What we do and are is not for ourselves, but for
oar country. Friends, the hour of our redemption draweth nigh. The
Messiah treads in the steps of Zenobia! and when the East shall behold
the disasters of Aurelian--as it will--it will behold the restoration of
that empire, which is destined in the lapse of ages to gather to itself
the glory and dominion of the whole earth.'

Saying these words, during which he seemed no longer Isaac the Jew, but
the very Prince of the Captivity himself, he turned and took his
departure.

Long and earnest conversation now ensued, in which we received from
Calpurnius the most exact accounts of his whole manner of life during
his captivity; of his early sufferings and disgraces, and his late
honors and elevation; and gave in return similar details concerning the
history of our family and of Rome, during the same period of time. I
will not pretend to set down the narrative of Calpurnius. It was
delivered with a grace which I can by no means transfer to these pages.
I trust you may one day hear it from his own lips. Neither can I tell
you how beautiful it was to see Fausta hanging upon his words, with a
devotion that made her insensible to all else--her varying color and
changing expression showing how deeply she sympathized with the
narrator. When he had ended, and we had become weary of the excitement
of this first interview, Fausta proposed that we should separate to meet
again at supper. To this we agreed.

According to the proposal of Fausta, we were again, soon as evening had
come, assembled around the table of the princely Gracchus.

When we had partaken of the luxuries of the feast, and various lighter
discourse had caused the time to pass by in an agreeable manner, I said
thus, turning to my brother:

'I would, Calpurnius, that the temper of one's mind could as easily be
changed as one's garments. You now seem to me, having put off your Persian
robes, far more like Piso than before. Your dress, though but in part
Roman and part Palmyrene, still brings you nearer. Were it wholly Roman it
were better. Is nothing of the Persian really put off, and nothing of the
Roman put on, by this change?'

'Whatever of the Persian there was about me,' replied Calpurnius, 'I am
free to say I have laid aside with my Persian attire. I was a Persian not
by choice and preference, I need scarcely assure you, but by a sort of
necessity, just as it was with my costume. I could not procure Roman
clothes if I would. I could not help too putting off the Roman--seeing how
I was dealt by--and putting on the Persian. Yet I part with whatever of
the Persian has cleaved to me without reluctance--would it were so that I
could again assume the Roman--but that can never be. But Isaac has already
told you all.'

'Isaac has indeed informed me in his letter from Ecbatana, that you had
renounced your country, and that it was the expectation of war with Rome
that alone had power to draw you from your captivity. But I have not
believed that you would stand by that determination. The days of
republican patriotism I know are passed, but even now under the empire our
country has claims and her children owe her duties.'

'The figure is a common one,' Calpurnius answered, 'by which our country
is termed a parent, and we her children. Allow it just. Do I owe obedience
to an unjust or tyrannical parent? to one who has abandoned me in
helplessness or exposed me in infancy? Are not the natural ties then
sundered?'

'I think not,' I replied; 'no provocation nor injury can justify a
parricidal blow. Our parent is our creator--in some sense a God to us. The
tie that binds us to him is like no other tie; to do it violence, is not
only a wrong, but an impiety.'

'I cannot think so,' he rejoined. 'A parent is our creator, not so much
for our good as his own pleasure. In the case of the gods this is
reversed: they have given us being for our advantage, not theirs. We lie
under obligation to a parent then, only as he fulfils the proper duties of
one. When he ceases to be virtuous, the child must cease to respect. When
he ceases to be just, or careful, or kind, the child must cease to love.
And from whomsoever else then the child receives the treatment, becoming a
parent, that person is to him the true parent. It is idle to be governed
by names rather than things; it is more, it is mischievous and injurious.'

'I still am of opinion,' I replied, 'that nature has ordained what I have
asserted to be an everlasting and universal truth, by the instincts which
she has implanted. All men, of all tribes, have united in expressions of
horror against him who does violence to his parents. And have not the
poets truly painted, when they have set before us the parricide, forever
after the guilty act, pursued by the Furies, and delivered over to their
judicial torments?'

'All instincts,' he replied, 'are not to be defended: some animals devour
their own young as soon as born. Vice is instinctive. If it be instinctive
to honor, and love, and obey a vicious parent, to be unresisting under the
most galling oppression, then I say, the sooner reason usurps the place of
instinct the safer for mankind. No error can be more gross or hurtful,
than to respect vice because of the person in whom it is embodied, even
though that person be a parent. Vice is vice, injustice is injustice,
wrong is wrong, wheresoever they are found; and are to be detested and
withstood. But I might admit that I am in an error here; and still
maintain my cause by denying the justice of the figure by which our
country is made our parent, and our obligations to her made to rest on the
same ground. It is mere fancy, it is a nullity, unless it be true, as I
think it is, that it has been the source of great mischiefs to the world,
in which case it cannot be termed a nullity, but something positively
pernicious. What age of the world can be named when an insane devotion to
one's country has not been the mother of war upon war, evil upon evil,
beyond the power of memory to recount? Patriotism, standing for this
instinctive slavery of the will, has cursed as much as it has blessed
mankind. Men have not reasoned, they have only felt: they have not
inquired, is the cause of my country just--but is it her cause? That has
ever been the cry in Rome. "Our country! our country!--right or wrong--our
country!" It is a maxim good for conquest and despotism; bad, for peace
and justice. It has made Rome mistress of the world, and at the same time
the scourge of the world, and trodden down into their own blood-stained
soil the people of many a clime, who had else dwelt in freedom. I am no
Roman in this sense, and ought never to have been. Admit that I am not
justified in raising my hand against the life of a parent--though if I
could defend myself against violence no otherwise, I should raise that
hand--I will never allow that I am to approve and second with my best
blood all the acts of my country; but when she errs am bound, on the other
hand, to blame, and if need be oppose. Why not? What is this country? Men
like myself. Who enact the decrees by which I am to be thus bound?
Senators, no more profoundly wise perhaps, and no more irreproachably
virtuous, than myself. And do I owe their judgments, which I esteem false,
a dearer allegiance than I do to my own, which I esteem right and true?
Never: such patriotism is a degradation and a vice. Rome, Lucius, I think
to have dealt by me and the miserable men who, with me, fell into the
hands of Sapor, after the manner of a selfish, cold-hearted, unnatural
parent, and I renounce her, and all allegiance to her. I am from this hour
a Palmyrene, Zenobia is my mother, Palmyra my country.'

'But,' I could not but still urge, 'should no distinction be made between
your country and her emperor? Is the country to rest under the imputation
which is justly perhaps cast upon him? That were hardly right. To renounce
Gallienus, were he now emperor, were a defensible act: But why Rome or
Aurelian?'

'I freely grant, that had a just emperor been put upon the throne, a man
with human feelings, the people, had he projected our rescue or revenge,
would have gone with him. But how is their conduct to be defended during
the long reign of the son of Valerian? Was such a people as the people of
Rome to conform their minds and acts to a monster like him? Was that the
part of a great nation? Is it credible that the senate and the people
together, had no power to compel Gallienus to the performance of his
duties to his own father, and the brave legions who fell with him? Alas!
they too wanted the will.'

'O not so, Calpurnius,' I rejoined; 'Gallienus wished the death or
captivity of his father, that he might reign. To release him was the last
act that wretch could have been urged to do. And could he then have been
made to interpose for the others? He might have been assassinated, but all
the power of Rome could not have compelled him to a war, the issue of
which might have been, by the rescue of Valerian, to lose him his throne.'

'Then he should have been assassinated. Rome owed herself a greater duty
than allegiance to a beast in human form.'

'But, Galpurnius, you now enjoy your liberty. Why consider so curiously
whence it comes? Besides, you have, while in Persia, dwelt in comfort, and
at last even in magnificence. The Prince himself has been your companion
and friend.'

'What was it,' he replied, 'what was it, when I reflected upon myself, but
so much deeper degradation, to find that in spite of myself I was every
day sinking deeper and deeper in Persian effeminacy? What was it but the
worst wretchedness of all to feel as I did, that I, a Roman and a Piso,
was losing my nature as I had lost my country? If any thing served to turn
my blood into one hot current of bitterness and revenge, it was this. It
will never cool till I find myself, sword in hand, under the banners of
Zenobia. Urge me no more: it were as hopeful an endeavor to stem the
current of the Euphrates, as to turn me from my purpose. I have reasoned
with you because you are a brother, not because you are a Roman.'

'And I,' I replied, 'can still love you, because you are a brother, nor
less because you are also a Palmyrene. I greet you as the head of our
house, the elder heir of an illustrious name. I still will hope, that when
these troubles cease, Rome may claim you as her own.'

'No emperor,' he answered, 'unless he were a Piso, I fear, would permit a
renegade of such rank ever to dwell within the walls of Rome. Let me
rather hope, that when this war is ended, Portia may exchange Rome for
Palmyra, and that here, upon this fair and neutral ground, the Pisos may
once more dwell beneath the same roof.'

'May it be so,' said Gracchus; 'and let not the heats of political
opposition change the kindly current of your blood, nor inflame it. You,
Lucius Piso, are to remember the provocations of Calpurnius, and are to
feel that there was a nobleness in that sensibility to a declension into
Persian effeminacy that, to say the least, reflects quite as much honor
upon the name of Piso, and even Roman, as any loyalty to an emperor like
Gallienus, or that senate filled with his creatures. And you, Calpurnius
Piso, are to allow for that instinctive veneration for every thing Roman
which grows up with the Roman, and even in spite of his better reason
ripens into a bigotry that deserves the name of a crime rather than a
virtue, and are to consider, that while in you the growth of this false
sentiment has been checked by causes, in respect to which you were the
sport of fortune, so in Lucius it has been quickened by other causes over
which he also was powerless. But to utter my belief, Lucius I think is now
more than half Palmyrene, and I trust yet, if committed as he has been to
the further tuition of our patriot Fausta, will be not only in part, but
altogether of our side.'

'In the mean time, let us rejoice,' said Fausta, 'that the noble
Calpurnius joins our cause. If we may judge by the eye, the soft life of a
Persian Satrap has not quite exhausted the native Roman vigor.'

'I have never intermitted,' replied Calpurnius, 'martial exercises:
especially have I studied the whole art of horsemanship, so far as the
chase and military discipline can teach it. It is in her cavalry, as I
learn, that Zenobia places her strength: I shall there, I trust, do her
good service.'

'In the morning,' said Fausta, 'it shall be my office to bring you before
our Queen.'

'And now, Fausta,' said Gracchus,'bring your harp, and let music perfect
the harmony which reason and philosophy have already so well begun;
music--which for its power over our souls, may rather be held an influence
of the gods, a divine breathing, than any thing of mortal birth.'

'I fear,' said Fausta, as she touched the instrument--the Greek and not
the Jewish harp--'I shall still further task your philosophy; for I can
sing nothing else than the war-song, which is already heard all through
the streets of Palmyra, and whose author, it is said, is no less than our
chief spirit, Longinus. Lucius, you must close your ears.'

'Never, while your voice sounds, though bloody treason were the
only burden.'

'You are a gentle Roman.'

Then after a brief but fiery prelude, which of itself struck by her
fingers was enough to send life into stones, she broke forth into a
strain, abrupt and impassioned, of wild Pindaric energy, that seemed the
very war-cry of a people striking and dying for liberty. Her voice,
inspired by a soul too large for mortal form, rang like a trumpet through
the apartment, and seemed to startle the gods themselves at their feast.
As the hymn moved on to its perfect close, and the voice of Fausta
swelled with the waxing theme, Calpurnius seemed like one entranced;
unconsciously he had left his seat, and there, in the midst of the room,
stood before the divine girl converted to a statue. As she ceased, the
eyes of Calpurnius fell quickly upon me, with an expression which I
instantly interpreted, and should have instantly returned, but that we
were all alike roused out of ourselves by the loud shouts of a multitude
without the palace, who apparently had been drawn together by the
far-reaching tones of Fausta's voice, and who, as soon as the last
strings of the harp were touched, testified their delight by reiterated
and enthusiastic cries.

'When Zabdas and Zenobia fail,' said Calpurnius, 'you, daughter of
Gracchus, may lead the armies of your country by your harp and voice; they
would inspire not less than the fame of Cæsar or Aurelian.'

'But be it known to you. Piso,' said Gracchus, 'that this slight girl can
wield a lance or a sword, while centaur-like she grows to the animal she
rides, as well as sweep these idle strings.'

'I will learn of her in either art,' replied my brother. 'As I acknowledge
no instinct which is to bind me to an unjust parent, but will give honor
only where there is virtue, so on the field of war I will enlist under any
leader in whom I behold the genius of a warrior, be that leader man or
woman, boy or girl.'

'I shall be satisfied,' said Fausta, 'to become your teacher in music,
that is, if you can learn through the force of example alone. Take now
another lesson. Zenobia shall teach you the art of war.'

With these words she again passed her fingers over her harp, and after
strains of melting sweetness, prolonged till our souls were wholly subdued
to the sway of the gentler emotions, she sang in words of Sappho, the
praise of love and peace, twin-sisters. And then as we urged, or named to
her, Greek or Roman airs which we wished to hear, did she sing and play
till every sense was satisfied and filled.

It needs not so much sagacity as I possess to perceive the effect upon my
brother of the beauty and powers of Fausta. He speaks with difficulty when
he addresses her, and while arguing or conversing with me or Gracchus, his
eye seeks her countenance, and then falls as it encounters hers, as if he
had committed some crime. Fausta, I am sure, is not insensible to the many
rare and striking qualities of Calpurnius: but her affections can be given
only where there is a soul of very uncommon elevation. Whether Calpurnius
is throughout that, which he seems to be, and whether he is worthy the
love of a being like Fausta, I know not yet, though I am strong in faith
that it is so. In the mean time, a mutual affection is springing up and
growing upon the thin soil of the fancy, and may reach a quick and rank
luxuriance before it shall be discovered that there is nothing more
substantial beneath. But why indulge a single doubt? only, I suppose,
because I would rather Rome should fall than that any harm come to the
heart of Fausta.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was a little after the noon of this day that the ambassadors, Petronius
and Varro, passed from out the gates of Palmyra, bearing with them a
virtual declaration of war.

The greatest excitement prevails. The streets are already filled with
sights and sounds admonitory of the scenes which are soon to be disclosed.
There is the utmost enthusiasm in every quarter, and upon every face you
behold the confidence and pride of those who, accustomed to conquest, are
about to extend their dominion over new territories, and to whom war is a
game of pleasure rather than a dark hazard, that may end in utter
desolation and ruin. Intrenched within these massy walls, the people of
this gay capital cannot realise war. Its sounds have ever been afar off,
beyond the wide sweep of the deserts; and will be now, so they judge--and
they are scarcely turned for a moment, or by the least remove, from their
accustomed cares or pleasures.



Letter XII.



I lament to hear of the disturbance among your slaves, and of the severity
with which you have thought it necessary to proceed against them. You will
bear me witness that I have often warned you that the cruelty with which
Tiro exercised his authority would lead to difficulties, if not to
violence and murder. I am not surprised to learn his fate: I am indeed
very free to say that I rejoice at it. I rejoice not that you are troubled
in your affairs, but that such an inhuman overseer as Tiro, a man wholly
unworthy the kindness and indulgence with which you have treated him,
should at length be overtaken by a just retribution. That the poison took
effect upon his wife and children I sincerely regret, and wish that some
other mode of destruction had been chosen, whose effects could have been
safely directed and limited, for I do not believe that the least ill-will
existed toward Claudia and her little ones. But rest satisfied, I beseech
you, with the punishments already inflicted: enough have been scourged,
put to the torture, and crucified: let the rest escape. Remember your
disposition, now indulgent, now tyrannical, and lay a restraint upon your
passions if you would save yourself from lasting regrets. It is some proof
that you are looking to yourself more than formerly, that so many have
been imprisoned to wait a further deliberation, and that you are willing
first to ask my opinion. Be assured that further crucifixions would serve
only to exasperate those who survive, and totally alienate them from you,
so that your own life instead of being the more safe, would be much less
so. They will be driven to despair, and say that they may as well
terminate their wretched lives in one way as another, and so end all at
once by an assault upon yourself and Lucilia, which, while it destroyed
you, and so glutted their revenge, could do no more than destroy them--a
fate which they dread now--but which at all times, owing to their
miseries, they dread much less than we suppose, and so are more willing
than we imagine to take the lives of their masters or governors, not
caring for death themselves. A well-timed lenity would now be an act of
policy as well as of virtue. Those whom you have reprieved, being
pardoned, will be bound to you by a sort of gratitude--those of them at
least who put a value upon their lives--and now that Tiro is fairly out of
the way, and his scourgings at an end, they will all value their lives at
a higher rate than before.

But let me especially intercede for Laco and Cælia, with their children.
It was they, who, when I have been at your farm, have chiefly attended
upon me; they have done me many acts of kindness beyond the mere duties
of their office, and have ever manifested dispositions so gentle, and so
much above their condition, that I feel sure they cannot be guilty of
taking any part in the crime. They have been always too happy, to put
their all at risk by such an attempt. Be assured they are innocent; and
they are too good to be sacrificed merely for the effect. There are
others, wretches in all respects, who will serve for this, if enough have
not already suffered.

When will sentiments of justice assert their supremacy in the human mind?
When will our laws and institutions recognise the rights inherent in every
man, as man, and compel their observance? When I reflect that I myself
possess, upon one only of my estates, five hundred slaves, over whom I
wield despotic power, and that each one of these differs not from myself
except in the position into which fortune and our laws have cast him, I
look with a sort of horror upon myself, the laws, and my country which
enacts and maintains them. But if we cannot at once new-model our
institutions and laws, we can do something. By a strict justice, and by
merciful treatment, we can mitigate the evils of their lot who are within
our own power. We can exercise the authority and temper of fathers, and
lay aside in a greater degree than we do, the air and manner of tyrant.
When upon the fields of every farm, as I ride through our interior, I hear
the lash of the task-master, and behold the cross rearing aloft its victim
to poison the air with foetid exhalations and strike terror into all who
toil within their reach, I hate my country and my nature, and long for
some power to reveal itself, I care not of what kind nor in what quarter,
capable to reform a state of society, rotten as this is to its very heart.

You yourself, advocate as you are for the existing order of things, would
be agitated alternately by horror and compassion, were I to relate to you
the scenes described to me by Milo, as having a thousand times been
witnessed by him when in the service of Gallienus. To torture and destroy
his slaves, by the most ingenious devices of cruelty, was his daily
pastime. They were purchased for this very end. When I see you again, I
will give you instances with which I could not soil these pages.
Antiochus, were he in Rome, would be a monster of the same stamp. But all
this is, as I have often mentioned, a necessary accompaniment of such
power as the laws confer upon the owner.

And now, that war has actually broken out between Palmyra and Rome, you
will wish to know what part I intend to take. Your letters imply, that in
such an event you would expect my immediate return. But this pleasure
must, for the present at least, he deferred. I am too deeply interested in
too many here, to allow me to forsake them in a time of so much anxiety,
and as I think of peril too. Zenobia's full consent I have already
obtained: indeed, she is now desirous that I should remain. The services
that I have accidentally rendered her have increased the regard with which
she treats me. I confess too that I am less unwilling to remain than I
was, out of a rooted disapprobation of the violent course of Aurelian. I
cannot, as Calpurnius has done, renounce my country; but I can blame our
emperor. His purposes are without a color of justice: nor are they only
unjust and iniquitous, they are impolitic. I can enter fully into and
defend the feelings and arguments of Palmyra in this direction. Her cause
is in the main a just one. She has done somewhat indeed to provoke a
sensitive and jealous mind; but nothing to warrant the step which Aurelian
is taking. And when I counsel peace, and by concessions too, I do it not
because I hold it right that such concessions should be made, but because
I deem it frantic on the part of Zenobia to encounter the combined power
of Rome, under such a soldier as Aurelian. My sympathies are accordingly
enlisted in behalf of this people as a people; my heart is closely bound
to both the house of Gracchus and Zenobia; and therefore I cannot leave
them. I shall not bear arms against my country; I think I would sooner
die; but in any case of extremity I shall not wear a sword in vain, if by
using it I can save the life or honor of persons dear to me. I am firm in
the belief, that no such extremity will ever present itself; but should it
come, I am ready for it. I cannot but hope that a battle, one or more,
upon the outskirts of the empire, will satisfy the pride of Aurelian, and
convince the Queen, that to contend for empire with him, and Rome at his
back, is vain, and that negotiation will therefore end what passion has
begun. I shall expect no other issue than this. Then, having done all
here, I shall return to Italy, if the Queen relents not, to pass an
unhappy life upon the Tiburtine farm.

Preparations of every kind for the approaching contest are going forward
with activity. The camp of the Queen is forming without the walls upon a
wide and beautiful plain, stretching towards the south. One army will be
formed here chiefly consisting of cavalry, in which lies the strength of
the Queen, and another in the vicinity of Antioch, where a junction will
be effected, and whence the whole will move either toward the Bosphorus or
Egypt, according to the route which, it shall I be learned, Aurelian
intends to pursue.

During these few days that have elapsed since the departure of the
ambassadors, the stir and confusion incident to such a time have
continually increased. In the streets, I meet scarce any who are not
engaged in some service connected with the army. Troops of soldiers are
forming, exercising at their arms, and passing from the city as they are
severally equipped to join the camp. The shops of the armorers resound
with the blows of an innumerable body of artisans manufacturing or
repairing those brilliant suits of steel for which the cavalry of Zenobia
are distinguished. Immense repositories of all the various weapons of our
modern warfare, prepared by the Queen against seasons of emergency,
furnish forth arms of the most perfect workmanship and metal to all who
offer themselves for the expedition. Without the walls in every
direction, the eye beholds clouds of dust raised by different bodies of
the Queen's forces, as they pour in from their various encampments to one
central point. Trains of sumptuary elephants and camels, making a part of
every legion as it comes up, and stretching their long lines from the
verge of the plain to the very walls, contribute a fresh beauty and
interest to the scene.

Within the camp, whatever the tumult and confusion may be without, every
thing is conducted with the most admirable order, and with the observance
of a discipline as exact, if not as severe, as that of Vespasian, or
Aurelian himself. Here are to be seen the commanders of the chief
divisions of the army inspecting the arms and equipments of each
individual soldier, and not with less diligence inquiring into the mettle
and points of the horse he rides. Every horse, pronounced in any way
defective, is rejected from the service and another procured. The Queen's
stable has been exhausted in providing in this manner substitutes for such
as have been set aside as unworthy.

Zenobia herself is the most active and laborious of all. She is in every
place, seeing with her own eyes that every arrangement and provision
ordered to be made is completed, and that in the most perfect manner. All
the duties of a general are performed by her, with a freedom, a power, and
a boldness, that fills one with astonishment who is acquainted with those
opposite qualities which render her, as a woman, the most lovely and
fascinating of her sex. She is seen sometimes driving rapidly through the
streets in an open chariot, of the antique form; but more frequently on
horseback, with a small body of attendants, who have quite enough to do to
keep pace with her, so as to catch from her the orders which she rapidly
issues, and then execute them in every part of the camp and city. She
inspires all who behold her with her own spirit. In every soldier and
leader you behold something of the same alertness and impetuosity of
movement which are so remarkable in her. She is the universal model; and
the confidence in the resources of her genius is universal and boundless.
'Let our courage and conduct,' they say, 'be only in some good proportion
to our Queen's, and we may defy Rome and the world.' As the idea of naught
but conquest ever crosses their minds, the animation--even gayety that
prevails in the camp and throughout the ranks is scarcely to be believed,
as it is, I doubt not, unparalleled in the history of war. Were she a
goddess, and omnipotent, the trust in her could not be more unwavering.

I have just encountered Calpurnius returning from the palace of the
Queen, whither he has been to offer his services during the war, in any
capacity in which it might please her to employ him.

'What was your reception?' said I.

'Such as Fausta had assured me of. She gives me a hearty welcome to her
camp, and assigns me a legion of horse. And, in addition, one more charge
dearer and yet more anxious a thousand-fold.'

'May I know it?' said I, but readily surmising the nature of it.

'It is,' he replied with visible emotion, 'Fausta herself.'

'It is fixed then that she accompanies the Queen?'

'She entreats, and the Queen consents.'

'Would that she could be turned from this purpose, but I suppose the
united power of the East could not do it. To be near Zenobia, and if evil
should befall her to share it, or to throw herself as a shield between the
Queen and death, is what she pants for more than for renown, though it
should be double that of Semiramis.'

'Lucius, have you urged every reason, and used all the power you possess
over her, to dissuade her?'

'I have done all I have dared to do. The decisions of some minds, you
know, with the motives which sway them, we too much revere to oppose to
them our own. Girl though Fausta be, yet when I see by the lofty
expression of her countenance, her firm and steadfast eye, that she has
taken her part, I have no assurance sufficient to question the rectitude
of her determination, or essay to change it. I have more faith in her
in myself.'

'Yet it must never be,' said my brother with earnestness; 'she could never
support the fatigues of such a campaign, and it must not be permitted that
she should encounter the dangers and horrors of actual combat. I have
learned that at the palace which, while it has dismissed the most painful
apprehensions of one sort, has filled me with others more tolerable, but
yet intolerable. How, Lucius? has it happened that your heart, soft in
most of its parts, on one side has been adamant?'

'The way of the heart,' I said, 'like the way of Providence, is
mysterious. I know not. Perhaps it was that I knew her longer in Rome and
more closely than you, and the sentiment always uppermost toward her has
been that of a brother's love. Hers toward me has never been other than
the free, unrestrained affection of a sister. But you have not seen the
Princess?'

'I have not.'

'That will complete the explanation. The Queen rejects me; but I do not
despair. But to return to Fausta. As no force could withhold her from the
army, I thank the gods that in you she will find a companion and defender,
and that to you the Queen has committed her. Fail her not, Calpurnius, in
the hour of need. You do not know, for your eye has but taken in her
outward form, what a jewel, richer than Eastern monarch ever knew, is
entrusted to your care. Keep it as you would your own life, nay, your life
will be well given for its safety. Forgive me, if in this I seem to charge
you as an elder. Remember that you I do not know, Fausta I do. Of you I
scarcely know more than that you are a Piso, and that the very soul of
honor ought to dwell within you. The Queen's ready confidence in you, lays
you under obligations heavy as injunctions from the gods to fidelity. If,
as you journey on toward Antioch, the opportunities of the way throw you
together, and your heart is won by your nearer knowledge of her sweet
qualities as well as great ones, as your eye has already been, ask not,
seek not, for hers, but after a close questioning of yourself whether you
are worthy of her. Of your life and the true lineaments of your soul, you
know every thing, she knows nothing; but she is more free and unsuspicious
than a child, and without looking further than the show and color of
honesty and truth, will surrender up her heart where her fancy leads,
trusting to find according to her faith, and to receive all that she
gives. Brother though you be, I here invoke the curses of the gods upon
your head, if the faintest purpose of dishonest or deceptive dealing have
place within you.'

'Your words,' said Calpurnius in reply--a wholesome and natural expression
of indignation spreading over his countenance, which inspired more
confidence than any thing he could say--'your words, Lucius, are earnest
and something sharp. But I bear them without complaint, for the sake of
the cause in which you have used them. I blame you not. It is true, I am a
stranger both to yourself and Fausta, and it were monstrous to ask
confidence before time has proved me. Leave it all to time. My conduct
under this trust shall be my trial. Not till our return from Antioch will
I aim at more than the happiness to be her companion and guard. The noble
Otho will be near us, to whom you may commit us both.'

'Brother,' I rejoined, 'I doubt you not; but where our treasure is great,
we are tormented by imaginary fears, and we guard it by a thousand
superfluous cares, What I have said has implied the existence of doubts
and apprehensions, but in sober truth they were forced into existence. My
nature from the first has been full of trust in you; but this very
promptness to confide, my anxious fears converted to a fault, and urged
suspicion as a duty. Your countenance and your words have now inspired me
with an assurance, not, I am certain, to be ever shaken, in your virtues.
It shall be my joy to impart the same to Gracchus. Fausta shall be left
free to the workings of her own mind and heart.'

I should not have been justified, it seems to me, in saying less than
this, though I said it with apprehensions, many and grave, of a breach
between us, which perhaps time might never heal. It has ended in a deep
and settled conviction that the character of Calpurnius is what it at
first appears to be. Persian duplicity has made no lodgment within him, of
that I am sure. And where you feel sure of sincerity, almost any other
fault may be borne.

The army has taken up its march, and the city is deprived of its best and
bravest spirits--Zenobia and Fausta, those kindred souls, are gone. How
desolate is this vast palace! The loss of Gracchus and Fausta seems the
loss of all. A hundred attendant slaves leave it still empty.

A period of the most active preparation has been closed to-day, by the
departure of as well appointed an army as ever issued from the Prætorian
camps. It was a spectacle as beautiful as my eyes ever beheld--and as sad.
Let me set before you the events of the day.

As I descended to the apartment where we take together our morning meal,
and which we were now for the last time to partake in each other's
company, I found Fausta already there, and surveying with sparkling eyes
and a flushed cheek a suit of the most brilliant armor, which having been
made by the Queen's workmen, and by her order, had just now been brought
and delivered to her.

'I asked the honor,' said the person with whom she was conversing, 'to
bring it myself, who have made it with the same care as the Queen's, of
the same materials, and after the same fashion. So it was her order to do.
It will set, lady, believe me, as easy as a riding dress, though it be all
of the most impenetrable steel. The polish too is such, that neither arrow
nor javelin need be feared, they can but touch and glance. Hercules could
not indent this surface. Let me reveal to you diverse secret and perfect
springs and clasps, the use of which you should be well acquainted with.
Yet it differs not so much from that in which you have performed your
exercises, but you will readily comprehend the manner of its adjustment.'

He then went through with his demonstrations, and departed.

'This is beautiful indeed!' I said, as I surveyed and handled parts of the
armor; 'the eye can hardly bear it when the rays of the sun fall upon it.
But I wish it was fairly back again in the shop of the armored'

'That would he,' said Fausta, 'only to condemn me to an older and worse
one; and if you should wish that away too, it would be only to send me
into the ranks defenceless. Surely that you would not do?'

'The gods forbid! I only mean that I would rather these walls, Fausta,
should be your defence. You were not made, whatever you may think, to
brave the dangers of the desert and the horrors of a war. Do you remember
at the amphitheatre you hid your eyes from the cruel sights of the arena?
I doubt not your courage; but it is not after your heart.'

'From the useless barbarities of the circus I might indeed turn away my
eyes, and yet I think with perfect consistency strike my lance into the
heart of a man who came against my country or my Queen, nor even blench.
But do not suppose that it is with any light or childish joy that I
resolve to follow in the steps of Zenobia to the field of slaughter. I
would far rather sit here in the midst of security and peace, making mimic
war on my embroidery, or tuning my voice and harp, with Gracchus and you
to listen and applaud. But there is that within me that forbids my stay. I
am urged from within by a voice which seems as the voice of a god, to do
according to my strength, for what may be the last struggle of our country
against the encroachments and ambition of Rome. You may deem it little
that a woman can do?'

'I confess I am of opinion that many a substitute could do Palmyra a
better service than even the arm of Fausta. A woman may do much and
bravely, but a man may do more.'

'Therein, Lucius, am I persuaded you err. If it were only that, in the
language of Zahdas, I added so many pounds weight of bone and flesh, by
adding myself to the Queen's troops, I would stay at home, There are
heavier arms than mine, for mine are slight, and sturdier limbs, for mine
in spite of the sports of the field are still a woman's. But you know
nothing of Palmyra if you know not this, that her victories have been
won, not by the arm, but by the presence of Zenobia; to be led to the
onset by a woman, and that woman Zenobia--it is this that has infused a
spirit and an enthusiasm into our soldiery that has rendered them
irresistible. Were it a thousand against ten thousand, not a native
Palmyrene would shrink from the trial, with Zenobia at their head. I am
not Zenobia, Lucius, but what she can do for an army, I can do for a
legion. Mark the sensation, when this morning Zenobia presents herself to
the army, and even when Fausta wheels into the ranks, and acknowledge
that I have uttered a truth.'

'There must be truth in what you say, for were I in your train I can feel
how far I should follow you, and when forsake you. But what you say only
fills me with new apprehensions, and renders me the more anxious to detain
you. What but certain death awaits you if you are to lead the way?'

'And why should I not die, as well as another? And is it of more
consequence that Fausta, the daughter of Gracchus, should die upon a bed
of down, and beneath silken canopies, than that the common soldier should,
who falls at her side? How could I die hotter than at the head of a
legion, whom, as I fell, I saw sweeping on like a tempest to emulate and
revenge my death?'

'But Gracchus--has he another Fausta, or another child?'

Her eyes were bent to the ground, and for a few moments she was buried in
thought. They were filled with tears as she raised them and said,

'You may well suppose, Lucius, having witnessed, as you have, what the
love is which I bear Gracchus, and how his life is bound up in mine, that
this has been my heaviest thought. But it has not prevailed with me to
change my purpose, and ought not to do so. Could I look into futurity, and
know that while I fell upon the plains of Antioch, or on the sands of the
desert, he returned to these walls to wear out, childless and in solitude,
the remnant of his days, my weakness I believe would yield, and I should
prefer my parent to my country. But the future is all dark. And it may as
well be, that either we shall both fall, or both return; or that he may
fall and I survive. It is unworthy of me, is it not then, to consider too
curiously such chances? The only thing certain and of certain advantage is
this--I can do my country, as I deem it, a signal service by joining her
forces in this hour of peril. To this I cleave, and leave the rest to the
disposal of the gods. But come, urge me no more, Lucius; my mind is
finally resolved, and it but serves to darken the remaining hours. See,
Gracchus and Calpurnius are come--let us to the tables.'

This last meal was eaten in silence, save the few required words of
courtesy.

Soon as it was over, Fausta, springing from her seat, disappeared,
hastening to her apartments. She returned in a few moments, her dress
changed and prepared for her armor.

'Now, Lucius,' she exclaimed, 'your hour of duty has come, which is to fit
upon me this queenly apparel. Show your dexterity, and prove that you too
have seen the wars, by the grace with which you shall do your service.'

'These pieces differ not greatly,' I said, 'from those which I have worn
in Gaul and Germany, and were they to be fastened on my own limbs, or a
comrade's, the task were an easy one. I fear lest I may use too rough a
hand in binding on this heavy iron.'

'O, never fear--there, that is well. The Queen's armorer has said truly;
this is easy as a robe of silk. Now these clasps--are they not well made?
will they not catch?'

'The clasps are perfect, Fausta, but my eye is dim. Here--clasp them
yourself;' and I turned away.

'Lucius, Lucius, are you a Roman, with eyes so melting? Julia were a
better hand-maid. But one thing remains, and that must be done by no other
hand than yours--crown me now with this helmet.'

I took it from her and placed it upon her head, saying, as I did it, 'The
gods shield you from danger, dear Fausta, and when you have either
triumphed or suffered defeat, return you again to this happy roof! Now for
my services allow me this reward'--and for the first time since she was a
girl I kissed her forehead.

She was now a beautiful vision to behold as ever lighted upon the earth.
Her armor revealed with exactness the perfection of her form, and to her
uncommon beauty added its own, being of the most brilliant steel, and
frequently studded with jewels of dazzling lustre. Her sex was revealed
only by her hair, which, parting over her forehead, fell towards either
eye, and then was drawn up and buried in her helmet. The ease with which
she moved showed how well she had accustomed herself, by frequent
exercises, to the cumbrous load she bore. I could hardly believe, as she
paced the apartment, issuing her final orders to her slaves and attendants
who pressed around, that I was looking upon a woman reared in all the
luxury of the East. Much as I had been accustomed to the sight of Zenobia,
performing the part of an emperor, I found it difficult to persuade
myself, that when I looked upon Fausta, changing so completely her sex, it
was any thing more than an illusion.

Gracchus and Calpurnius now joined us, each, like Fausta, arrayed in the
armor of the Queen's cavalry.

'Fausta,' said Gracchus hastily, 'the hour is come that we were at the
camp; our horses wait us in the court-yard--let us mount. Farewell,
Lucius Piso,' continued he, as we moved toward the rear of the palace;
'would you were to make one of our company; but as that cannot be, I
bequeath to you my place, my honors, and my house. Be ready to receive us
with large hospitality and a philosophical composure, when we return
loaded with the laurels of victory and the spoils of your countrymen. It
is fortunate, that as we lose you, we have Calpurnius, who seems of the
true warrior breed. Never, Lucius, has my eye lighted upon a nobler pair
than this. Observe them. The Queen, careful of our Fausta, has given her
in special charge to your brother. I thank her. By his greater activity
and my more prudent counsel, I trust to bring her again to Palmyra with a
fame not less than Zenobia's.

'I can spare the fame,' I replied, 'so I see her once more in Palmyra,
herself unharmed and her country at peace.'

'Palmyra would no longer be itself without her,' rejoined the father.

We were now in the court-yard, where we found the horses fully
caparisoned, awaiting their riders. Fausta's was her favorite Arab, of a
jet black color and of a fierce and fiery temper, hardly to be managed by
the Saracen, whose sole office it was to attend upon him; while in the
hands of Fausta, though still spirited almost to wildness, he was yet
docile and obedient. Soon as she was mounted, although before it had been
difficult to hold him, he became quiet and calm.

'See the power of woman,' said Gracchus; 'were Antiochus here, he would
look upon this as but another proof that the gods are abandoning Palmyra
to the sway of women.'

'It is,' said Fausta, 'simply the power of gentleness. My Saracen operates
through fear, and I through love. My hand laid softly upon his neck gains
more a thousand fold than the lash laid hardly upon his back.'

Mounting my horse, which Milo stood holding for me, we then sallied out of
the court-yard gate toward the camp.

The city itself was all pouring forth upon the plains in its vicinity.
The crowds choked the streets as they passed out, so that our progress
was slow. Arriving at length, we turned toward the pavilion of the Queen,
pitched over against the centre of the army. There we stood, joined by
others, awaiting her arrival; for she had not yet left the palace. We had
not stood long, before the braying of trumpets and other warlike
instruments announced her approach. We turned, and looking toward the
gate of the city, through which we had but now passed, saw Zenobia,
having on either side Longinus and Zabdas, and preceded and followed by a
select troop of horse, advancing at her usual speed toward the pavilion.
She was mounted upon her far-famed white Numidian, for power an elephant,
for endurance a dromedary, for fleetness a very Nicoean, and who had been
her companion in all the battles by which she had gained her renown and
her empire.

Calpurnius was beside himself: he had not before seen her when assuming
all her state. 'Did eye ever look upon aught so like a celestial
apparition? It is a descent from other regions; I can swear 'tis no
mortal--still less a woman. Fausta, this puts to shame your eulogies,
swollen as I termed them.'

I did not wonder at his amazement, for I myself shared it, though I had
seen her so often. The object that approached us truly seemed rather a
moving blaze of light than an armed woman, which the eye and the reason
declared it to be, with such gorgeous magnificence was she arrayed. The
whole art of the armorer had been exhausted in her appointments. The
caparison of her steed, sheathed with burnished gold, and thick studded
with precious stones of every various hue, reflected an almost intolerable
splendor as the rays of a hot morning sun fell upon it. She too herself,
being clothed in armor of polished steel, whose own fiery brightness was
doubled by the diamonds--that was the only jewel she wore--sown with
profusion all over its more prominent parts, could he gazed upon scarcely
with more ease than the sun himself, whose beams were given back from it
with undiminished glory. In her right hand she held the long slender lance
of the cavalry; over her shoulders hung a quiver well loaded with arrows,
while at her side depended a heavy Damascus blade. Her head was surmounted
by a steel helmet, which left her face wholly uncovered, and showed her
forehead, like Fausta's shaded by the dark hair, which, while it was the
only circumstance that revealed the woman, added to the effect of a
countenance unequalled for a marvellous union of feminine beauty, queenly
dignity, and masculine power. Sometimes it has been her usage, upon such
occasions, to appear with arms bare and gloved hands; they were now cased,
like the rest of the body, in plates of steel.

'Calpurnius,' said Fausta, 'saw you ever in Persia such horsemanship? See
now, as she draws nearer, with what grace and power she moves. Blame you
the enthusiasm of this people?'

'I more than share it,' he replied; 'it is reward enough for my long
captivity, at last to follow such a leader. Many a time, as Zenobia has
in years past visited my dreams, and I almost fancied myself in her
train, I little thought that the happiness I now experience was to become
a reality. But hark! how the shout of welcome goes up from this
innumerable host.'

No sooner was the Queen arrived where we stood, and the whole extended
lines became aware of her presence, than the air was filled with the clang
of trumpets and the enthusiastic cries of the soldiery, who waved aloft
their arms and made a thousand expressive signs of most joyful greeting.
When this hearty salutation, commencing at the centre, had died away along
the wings, stretching one way to the walls of the city, and the other
toward the desert, Zenobia rode up nearer the lines, and being there
surrounded by the ranks which were in front, and by a crowd of the great
officers of the army, spoke to them in accordance with her custom.
Stretching out her hand, as if she would ask the attention of the
multitude, a deep silence ensued, and in a voice clear and strong, she
thus addressed them:

'Men and soldiers of Palmyra! Is this the last time that you are to gather
together in this glittering array, and go forth as lords of the whole
East? Conquerors in so many wars, are you now about to make an offering of
yourselves and your homes to the emperor of Rome? Am I, who have twice led
you to the gates of Ctesiphon, now to be your leader to the footstool of
Aurelian? Are you thinking of any thing but victory? Is there one in all
these ranks who doubts whether the same fate that once befel Probus shall
now befal Aurelian? If there be, let him stand forth! Let him go and
intrench himself within the walls of Palmyra. We want him not. (The
soldiers brandished and clashed their arms.) Victory, soldiers, belongs to
those who believe. Believe that you can do so, and we will return with a
Roman army captive at our chariot wheels. Who should put trust in
themselves, if not the men and soldiers of Palmyra? Whose memory is long
enough to reach backward to a defeat? What was the reign of Odenatus but
an unbroken triumph? Are you now, for the first time, to fly or fall
before an enemy? And who the enemy? Forget it not--Rome! and Aurelian! the
greatest empire and the greatest soldier of the world. Never before was so
large a prize within your reach. Never before fought you on a stage with
the whole world for spectators. Forget not too that defeat will be not
only defeat, but ruin! The loss of a battle will be not only so many dead
and wounded, but the loss of empire! For Rome resolves upon our
subjugation. We must conquer or we must perish, and forever lose our city,
our throne, and our name. Are you ready to write yourselves subjects and
slaves of Rome!--citizens of a Roman province? and forfeit the proud name
of Palmyrene?' (Loud and indignant cries rose from the surrounding ranks.)
'If not, you have only to remember the plains of Egypt and of Persia; and
the spirit that burned within your bosoms then will save you now, and
bring you back to these walls, your brows bound about with the garlands of
victory. Soldiers! strike your tents! and away to the desert!'

Shouts long and loud, mingled with the clash of arms, followed these few
words of the Queen. Her own name was heard above all. "Long live the great
Zenobia!" ran along the ranks from the centre to the extremes, and from
the extremes back again to the centre. It seemed as if, when her name had
once been uttered, they could not cease--through the operation of some
charm--to repeat it again and again, coupled too with a thousand phrases
of loyalty and affection.

The Queen, as she ended, turned toward the Pavilion, where dismounting
she entered, and together with her, her counsellors, the great officers of
the army and empire, her family, and friends. Here was passed an hour in
the interchange of the words and signs of affection between those who were
about to depart upon this uncertain enterprise, and those who were to
remain. The Queen would fain inspire all with her light, bold, and
confident spirit, but it could not prevail to banish the fears and sorrows
that filled many hearts. Julia's eyes never moved from her mother's face,
or only to rest on Fausta's, whose hand she held clasped in her own.
Zenobia often turned towards her with a look, in which the melting
tenderness of the mother contended but too successfully with the calm
dignity of the Queen, and bore testimony to the strong affection working
at the heart. She would then, saying a word or two, turn away again, and
mingle with those who made less demand upon her sympathies. Livia was
there too, and the flaxen-haired Faustula--Livia, gay even, through excess
of life--Faustula sad and almost terrified at the scene, and clinging to
Julia as to her haven of safety. The Cæsars were also there, insignificant
as always, but the youngest, Vabalathus, armed for the war; the others are
not to be drawn away from the luxuries and pleasures of the city.
Antiochus, sullen and silent, was of the number too, stalking with folded
arms apart from the company, or else arm in arm with one of his own color,
and seeming to be there rather because he feared to be absent, than
because he derived any pleasure from the scene. It was with an effort, and
with reluctance, that he came forward from his hiding places, and with
supreme awkwardness, yet with an air of haughtiness and pride, paid his
court to the Queen.

As he retreated from his audience, the Queen's eye sought me, and
approaching me she said, 'Piso, I am not prone to suspicion, and fear is a
stranger to my heart: but I am told to distrust Antiochus. I have been
warned to observe him. I cannot now do it, for I depart while he remains
in Palmyra. It has been thrown out that he has designs of a treasonable
nature, and that the Princess Julia is connected with them. He is an
object too contemptible to deserve my thought, and I have not been willing
so much as to name the circumstance to any of the council. He may prove an
amusing and interesting subject for your speculation while we are gone.'

This was said in a partly serious, partly trifling vein. I answered her,
saying, 'that I could not but fear lest there might be more foundation for
the warnings that had been given her than she was disposed to allow. He
was indeed insignificant and contemptible in character, but he was
malignant and restless. Many an insect, otherwise every way despicable, is
yet armed with a deadly sting. A swarm may conquer even the monarch of the
forest. Antiochus, mean as he is, may yet inflict a secret and fatal
wound; and he is not alone; there are those who affect him. I believe you
have imposed no task which as a Roman I may not innocently perform. Rest
assured that if watchfulness of mine may avert the shadow of an evil from
your head, it shall not be wanting. I would that you yourself could look
more seriously upon this information, but I perceive you to be utterly
incredulous.'

'It is so indeed,' she replied. 'It were better for me perhaps were it
otherwise. Had I heeded the rumors which reached me of the base Mæonius,
Odenatus had now perhaps been alive and at my side. But it is against the
grain of my nature. I can neither doubt nor fear.'

Sounds from without now indicated that the camp was broken up, and the
army in motion. The moment of separation had come. The Queen hastily
approached her daughters, and impressing a mother's kisses upon them
turned quickly away, and springing upon her horse was soon lost to sight
as she made her way through the ranks, to assume her place at their head.
Fausta lingered long in the embraces of Julia, who, to part with her,
seemed as if about to lose as much more as she had just lost in Zenobia.

'These our friends being now gone, let us,' said the Princess, 'who
remain, ascend together the walls of the city, and from the towers of
the gate observe the progress of the army so long as it shall remain
in sight.'

Saying this, we returned to the city, and from the highest part of the
walls watched the departing glories of the most magnificent military array
I had ever beheld. It was long after noon before the last of the train of
loaded elephants sank below the horizon. I have seen larger armies upon
the Danube, and in Gaul: but never have I seen one that in all its
appointments presented so imposing a spectacle. This was partly owing to
the greater proportion of cavalry, and to the admixture of the long lines
of elephants with their burdens, their towers and litters; but more
perhaps to the perfectness with which each individual, be he on horse or
foot, be he servant, slave or master, is furnished, respecting both arms,
armor, and apparel. Julia beheld it, if with sorrow, with pride also.

'Between an army like this,' she said, 'so appointed, and so led and
inflamed, and another like that of Rome coming up under a leader like
Aurelian, how sharp and deadly must be the encounter! What a multitude of
this and that living host, now glorious in the blaze of arms, and burning
with desires of conquest, will fall and perish, pierced by weapons, or
crushed by elephants, nor ever hear the shout of victory! A horrid death,
winding up a feverish dream. And of that number how likely to be Fausta
and Zenobia!'

'Why, sister,' said Faustula, whom I held, and in pointing out to whom the
most remarkable objects of the strange scene I had been occupied, 'why
does our mother love to go away and kill the Romans? I am sure she would
not like to kill you,'--looking up in my face,--'and are not you a Roman?
She will not let me hurt even a little fly or ant, but tells me they feel
as much to be killed, as if Sapor were to put his great foot on me and
tread me into the sand.'

'But the Romans,' said Julia, 'are coming to take away our city from us,
and perhaps do us a great deal of harm, and must they not be hindered?'

'But,' replied Faustula, 'would they do it if Zenobia asked them not to do
it? Did you ever know any body who could help doing as she asked them? I
wish Aurelian could only have come here and heard her speak, and seen her
smile, and I know he would not have wanted to hurt her. If I were a Queen,
I would never fight.'

'I do not believe you would,' said I; 'you do not seem as if you could
hurt any body or any thing.'

'And now is not Zenobia better than I? I think perhaps she is only going
to frighten the Romans, and then coming home again.'

'O no--do not think so,' said Livia; 'has not Zenobia fought a great many
battles before this? If she did not fight battles, we should have no city
to live in.'

'If it is so good to fight battles, why does she prevent me from
quarrelling, or even speaking unkindly? I think she ought to teach me to
fight. I do not believe that men or women ought to fight any more than
children; and I dare say if they first saw and talked with one another
before they fought, as I am told to do, they never would do it. I find
that if I talk and tell what I think, then I do not want to quarrel.--See!
is that Zenobia? How bright she shines! I wish she would come back.'

'Wait a little while, and she will come again,' said Livia, 'and bring
Aurelian perhaps with her. Should you not like to see Aurelian?'

'No, I am sure I should not. I do not want to see any one that does not
love Zenobia.'

So the little child ran on, often uttering truths, too obviously truths
for mankind to be governed by them, yet containing the best philosophy of
life. Truth and happiness are both within easy reach. We miss them because
they are so near. We look over them, and grasp at distant and more
imposing objects, wrapped in the false charms which distance lends.

During the absence of the Queen and Fausta, we have, in agreement with
the promise we made, repeated our visit more than once to the retreat of
the Christian Hermit; from whom I have drawn almost all that remains to be
known, concerning the truths of his religion. Both Julia and Livia have
been my companions. Of the conversations at these visits, I shall hope at
some future time to furnish you with full accounts.

In the meanwhile, Farewell.



Letter XIII.



These few days having passed in the manner I have described, our
impatience has been relieved by news from the West. We learn that
Aurelian, having appointed Illyricum as the central point for assembling
his forces, has, marching thence through Thrace, and giving battle on the
way to the Goths, at length reached Byzantium, whence crossing the
Bosphorus, it is his purpose to subdue the Asiatic provinces, and
afterwards advance toward Palmyra. The army of the Queen, judging by the
last accounts received by her messengers, must now have reached the
neighborhood of Antioch, and there already perhaps have encountered the
forces of the Emperor.

The citizens begin at length to put on the appearance of those who feel
that something of value is at stake. The Portico is forsaken, or
frequented only by such as hope to hear news by going there. The streets
are become silent and solitary. I myself partake of the general gloom. I
am often at the palace and at the house of Longinus. The dwelling, or
rather should I not term it the spacious palace of the minister, affords
me delightful hours of relaxation and instruction, as I sit and converse
with its accomplished lord, or wander among the compartments of his vast
library, or feast the senses and imagination upon the choice specimens of
sculpture and painting, both ancient and modern, which adorn the walls,
the ceilings, the stair-ways, and, indeed, every part of the extensive
interior. Here I succeed in forgetting the world and all its useless
troubles, and am fairly transported into those regions of the fancy, where
the airs are always soft and the skies serene, where want is unknown, and
solicitations to vice come not, where men are just and true and kind, and
women the goddesses we make them in our dreams, and the whole of existence
is a calm summer's day, without storm of the inward or outward world. And
when upon these delicious moments the philosopher himself breaks in, the
dream is not dissolved, but stands rather converted to an absolute
reality, for it then shines with the actual presence of a god. It is with
unwillingness that I acknowledge my real state, and consent to return to
this living world of anxieties and apprehensions in which I now dwell.

       *       *       *       *       *

I am just returned from the palace and the Princess Julia. While there
seated in conversation with her, Longinus, and Livia, a courier was
suddenly announced from Zenobia. He entered, we stamped upon his features,
and delivered letters into the hands of Longinus. Alas! Alas! for Palmyra.
The intelligence is of disaster and defeat! The countenance of the Greek
grew pale as he read. He placed the despatches in silence in the hands of
Julia, having finished them, and hastily withdrew.

The sum of the news is this. A battle has been fought before Antioch, and
the forces of the Queen completely routed. It appears that upon the
approach of Aurelian, the several provinces of Asia Minor, which by
negotiation and conquest had by Zenobia been connected with her kingdom,
immediately returned to their former allegiance. The cities opened their
gates and admitted the armies of the conqueror. Tyana alone of all the
Queen's dominions in that quarter opposed the progress of the Emperor, and
this strong-hold was soon by treachery delivered into his power. Thence he
pressed on without pause to Antioch, where he found the Queen awaiting
him. A battle immediately ensued. At first, the Queen's forces obtained
decided advantages, and victory seemed ready to declare for her as always
before, when the gods decreed otherwise, and the day was lost--but lost,
in the indignant language of the Queen, 'not in fair and honorable fight,
but through the baseness of a stratagem rather to have been expected from
a Carthaginian than the great Aurelian.'

'Our troops,' she writes, 'had driven the enemy from, his ground at every
point. Notwithstanding the presence of Aurelian, and the prodigies of
valor by which he distinguished himself anew, and animated his soldiers,
our cavalry, led by the incomparable Zabdas, bore him and his legions
backwards, till apparently discomfited by the violence of the onset, the
Roman horse gave way and fled in all directions. The shout of victory
arose from our ranks, which now broke, and in the disorder of a flushed
and conquering army, scattered in hot pursuit of the flying foe. Now, when
too late, we saw the treachery of the enemy. Our horse, heavy-armed as you
know, were led on by the retreating Romans into a broken and marshy
ground, where their movements were in every way impeded, and thousands
were suddenly fixed immovable in the deep morass. At this moment, the
enemy, by preconcerted signals, with inconceivable rapidity, being
light-armed, formed; and, returning upon our now scattered forces, made
horrible slaughter of all who had pushed farthest from the main body of
the army. Dismay seized our soldiers, the panic spread, increased by the
belief that a fresh army had come up and was entering the field, and our
whole duty centered in forming and covering our retreat. This, chiefly
through the conduct of Calpurnius Piso, was safely effected; the Romans
being kept at bay while we drew together, and then under cover of the
approaching night fell back to a new and strong position.

'I attempt not, Longinus, to make that better which is bad. I reveal the
whole truth, not softening nor withholding a single feature of it, that
your mind may be possessed of the exact state of our affairs, and know how
to form its judgments. Make that which I write public, to the extent and
in the manner that shall seem best to you.

'After mature deliberation, we have determined to retreat further yet, and
take up our position under the walls of Emesa. Here, I trust in the gods,
we shall redeem that which we have lost.'

In a letter to Julia the Queen says, 'Fausta has escaped the dangers of
the battle; selfishly perhaps dividing her from Piso, she has shared my
tent and my fortunes, and has proved herself worthy of every confidence
that has been reposed in her. She is my inseparable companion in the tent,
in the field, and on the road, by night and by day. Give not way to
despondency, dear Julia. Fortune, which has so long smiled upon me, is not
now about to forsake me. There is no day so long and bright that clouds do
not sail by and cast their little shadows. But the sun is behind them.
Our army is still great and in good heart. The soldiers receive me,
whenever I appear, with their customary acclamations. Fausta shares this
enthusiasm. Wait without anxiety or fear for news from Emesa.'

When we had perused and re-perused the despatches of the Queen, and were
brooding in no little despondency over their contents, Longinus
re-entering said to me,

'And what, Piso, may I ask, is your judgment of the course which Aurelian
will now pursue? I see not that I can offend in asking, or you in
answering. I have heretofore inclined to the belief that Rome, having
atoned her injured honor by a battle, would then prefer to convert Palmyra
into a useful ally, by the proposal of terms which she could accept; terms
which would leave her an independent existence as formerly, in friendly
alliance with, though in no sense subject to Rome. But neither preceding
the battle at Antioch, nor since, does it appear that terms have been so
much as proposed or discussed. I can hardly believe that Aurelian, even if
victory should continue to sit upon his eagles, would desire to drive the
Queen to extremities, and convert this whole people into a united and
infuriated enemy. If he be willing to do this, he little understands the
best interests of Rome, and proves only this, that though he may be a good
soldier, he is a bad sovereign, and really betrays his country while
achieving the most brilliant victories.'

'I am obliged to say,' I replied, 'that I have wavered in my judgment.
Sometimes, when I have thought of policy, of the past services of Palmyra,
and of Persia, I have deemed it hardly possible that Aurelian should have
had any other purpose in this expedition than to negotiate with Zenobia,
under the advantages of an armed force; that at the most and worst, a
single battle would suffice, and the differences which exist be then
easily adjusted. But then, when again I have thought of the character of
Aurelian, I have doubted these conclusions, and believed that conquest
alone will satisfy him; and that he will never turn back till he can call
Palmyra a Roman province. From what has now transpired at Antioch, and
especially from what has not transpired, I am strengthened in this last
opinion. One or the other must fall. I believe it has come to this.'

'One or the other may fall at Emesa,' said Liviay 'but no power can ever
force the walls of Palmyra.'

'I am ready to believe with you, Princess,' said Longinus, 'but I trust
never to see a Roman army before them. Yet if your last judgment of
Aurelian be the true one, Piso, it may happen. We are not a power to pour
forth the hordes of Rome or Germany. We have valor, but not numbers.'

'Ought not,' said Julia, 'every provision to be made, even though there be
but the remotest possibility of the city sustaining a siege?'

'The most fruitful imagination,' replied Longinus, 'could hardly suggest a
single addition to what is already done, to render Palmyra impregnable.
And long before the food now within the walls could be exhausted, any
army, save one of Arabs of the desert, lying before them, must itself
perish. But these things the council and senate will maturely weigh.'

Longinus departed.

At the same moment that he left the apartment, that Indian slave whom I
have often seen sitting at the feet of the Queen entered where we were,
and addressing a few words to the Princess Julia again retreated. I could
not but remark again, what I had remarked before, her graceful beauty, and
especially the symmetry of her form and elasticity of her step. There was
now also an expression in the countenance which, notwithstanding its dark
beauty, I liked not, as I had often before liked it not, when I had seen
her in the presence of Zenobia.

'Princess,' said I, 'is the slave who has just departed sincere in her
attachment to Zenobia?'

'I cannot doubt it,' she replied; 'at least I have observed nothing to
cause me to doubt it. Thinking herself injured and degraded by Zenobia,
she may perhaps feel toward her as the captive feels toward the
conqueror. But if this be so, the lip breathes it not. To the Queen she
is, as far as the eye may judge, fondly attached, and faithful to the
trusts reposed in her.'

'But why,' I asked, 'thinks she herself injured and degraded? Is she not
what she seems to be, a slave?'

'She is a slave by the chances of fortune and war, not by descent or
purchase. She was of the household of Sapor, when his tents, wives, and
slaves fell into the hands of Odenatus, and by him, as we learned, had
been taken in his wars with an Indian nation. In her own country she was a
princess, and were she now there, were queen. Zenobia's pride is gratified
by using her for the purposes she does, nor has it availed to intercede in
her behalf. Yet has it always seemed as if a strong attachment drew the
fair slave to our mother, and sure I am that Zenobia greatly esteems her,
and, save in one respect, maintains and holds her rather as an equal than
inferior. We all love her. Others beside yourself have questioned her
truth, but we have heeded them not. Upon what, may I ask, have you founded
a doubt of her sincerity?'

'I can scarcely say,' I rejoined, 'that I have ground to doubt her
sincerity. Indeed, I know nothing of her but what you have now rehearsed,
except that, a few days since, as I retired from the palace, I observed
her near the eastern gate in earnest conversation with Antiochus. Soon as
her eye caught me, although at a great distance, she hastily withdrew into
the palace, while Antiochus turned toward the neighboring street.'

Julia smiled. 'Ah,' said she, 'our cousin Antiochus, were he to lose all
hope of me, would hasten to throw himself at the feet of the beautiful
Sindarina. When at the palace, his eyes can hardly be drawn from her face.
I have been told he exalts her above her great mistress. Were Antiochus
king, I can hardly doubt that Sindarina were queen. His visit to the
palace must have been to her alone. Livia, have you received him since the
departure of Zenobia?'

Her sister had not seen him. I said no more. But never have I read aright
the human countenance, if in her there be not hidden designs of evil. I
knew not before this interview her history. This supplies a motive for a
treacherous turn, if by it her freedom or her fortune might be achieved. I
have mentioned my suspicions to Longinus, but he sees nothing in them.

       *       *       *       *       *

The intelligence thus received from Antioch has effectually sobered the
giddy citizens of Palmyra. They are now of opinion that war really exists,
and that they are a party concerned. The merchants, who are the princes of
the place, perceiving their traffic to decline or cease, begin to interest
themselves in the affairs of the state. So long as wealth flowed in as
ever, and the traders from India and Persia saw no obstruction in the
state of things to a safe transaction of their various businesses and
transportation of their valuable commodities, the merchants left the state
to take care of itself, and whatever opinions they held, expressed them
only in their own circles, thinking but of accumulation by day, and of
ostentatious expenditure by night. I have often heard, that their general
voice, had it been raised, would have been hostile to the policy that has
prevailed. But it was not raised; and now, when too late, and these
mercenary and selfish beings are driven to some action by the loss of
their accustomed gains, a large and violent party is forming among them,
who loudly condemn the conduct of the Queen and her ministers, and
advocate immediate submission to whatever terms Aurelian may impose. This
party however, powerful though it maybe through wealth, is weak in
numbers. The people are opposed to them, and go enthusiastically with the
Queen, and do not scruple to exult in the distresses of the merchants.
Their present impotence is but a just retribution upon them for their
criminal apathy during the early stages of the difficulty. Then had they
taken a part as they ought to have done in the public deliberations, the
rupture which has ensued might, it is quite likely, have been prevented.
Their voice would have been a loud and strong, one, and would have been
heard. They deserve to lose their liberties, who will not spare time from
selfish pursuits to guard them. Where a government is popular, even to no
greater extent than this, it behooves every individual, if he values the
power delegated to him and would retain it, to use it, otherwise it is by
degrees and insensibly lost; and once absorbed into the hands of the few,
it is not easily, if at all, to be recovered.

Nothing can exceed the activity displayed on all hands in every
preparation which the emergency demands. New levies of men are
making, and a camp again forming to reinforce the Queen, at Emesa, or
in its neighborhood, if she should not be compelled to retire upon
Palmyra. In the mean time, we wait with beating hearts for the next
arrival of couriers.

       *       *       *       *       *

After an anxious suspense of several days all my worst apprehensions are
realized. Messengers have arrived, announcing the defeat of Zenobia before
the walls of Emesa, and with them fugitives from the conquered army are
pouring in. Every hour now do we expect the approach of the Queen, with
the remnant of her forces. Our intelligence is in the hand of Zenobia
herself. She has written thus to her minister.

'Septimia Zenobia to Dionysius Longinus. I am again defeated. Our cavalry
were at first victorious, as before at Antioch. The Roman horse were
routed. But the infantry of Aurelian, in number greatly superior to ours,
falling upon our ranks when deprived of the support of the cavalry,
obtained an easy victory; while their horse, rallying and increased by
reinforcements from Antioch, drove us in turn at all points, penetrating
even to our camp, and completed the disaster of the day. I have now no
power with which to cope with Aurelian. It remains but to retreat upon
Palmyra, there placing our reliance upon the strength of our walls, and
upon our Armenian, Saracen, and Persian allies. I do not despair, although
the favor of the gods seems withdrawn. Farewell.'

The city is in the utmost consternation. All power seems paralysed. The
citizens stand together in knots at the corners of the streets, like
persons struck dumb, and without command of either their bodies or then
minds. The first feeling was, and it was freely expressed, 'To contend
further is hopeless. The army is destroyed; another cannot now be
recruited; and if it could, before it were effected, Aurelian would be at
the gates with his countless legions, and the city necessarily surrender.
We must now make the best terms we can, and receive passively conditions
which we can no longer oppose.'

But soon other sentiments took the place of these, and being urged by
those who entertained them, with zeal, they have prevailed.

'Why,' they have urged, 'should we yield before that becomes the only
alternative? At present we are secure within the walls of our city, which
may well defy all the power of a besieging army. Those most skilled in
such matters, and who have visited the places in the world deemed most
impregnable, assert that the defences of Palmyra are perfect, and
surpassed by none; and that any army, whether a Roman or any others must
perish before it would be possible either to force our gates or reduce us
by hunger. Besides, what could we expect by submitting to the conqueror,
but national extinction? Our city would be pillaged; our principal
citizens murdered; perhaps a general slaughter made of the inhabitants,
without regard to age or sex. The mercies of Rome have ever been cruel;
and Aurelian we know to be famed for the severity of his temper. No
commander of modern times has instituted so terrible a discipline in his
army, and Rome itself has felt the might of his iron hand; it is always on
his sword. What can strangers, foreigners, enemies, and rebels, as he
regards us, expect? And are the people of Palmyra ready to abandon their
Queen? to whom we owe all this great prosperity, this wide renown, this
extended empire? But for Zenobia we were now what we were so many ages, a
petty trading village, a community of money-makers, hucksters and
barterers, without arts, without science, without fame, destitute of all
that adorns and elevates a people. Zenobia has raised us to empire; it is
Zenobia who has made us the conquerors of Persia, and the rival of Rome.
Shame on those who will desert her! Shame on those who will distrust a
genius that has hitherto shone with greater lustre in proportion to the
difficulties that have opposed it! Who can doubt that by lending her all
our energies and means, she will yet triumph? Shame and death to the
enemies of the Queen and the State!'

Sentiments like these are now every where heard, and the courage and
enthusiasm of the people are rising again. Those who are for war and
resistance are always the popular party. There is an instinctive love of
liberty and power, and a horror at the thought of losing them, that come
to the aid of the weak, and often cause them to resist, under
circumstances absolutely desperate. Palmyra is not weak, but to one who
contemplates both parties, and compares their relative strength, it is
little short of madness to hope to hold out with ultimate success against
the power of Rome. But such is the determination of the great body of the
people. And the Queen, when she shall approach with her broken and
diminished, and defeated army, will meet the welcome of a conqueror. Never
before in the history of the world, was there so true-hearted a devotion
of a whole people to the glory, interests, and happiness of One--and never
was such devotion so deserved.

The Princess Julia possesses herself like one armed for such adversities,
not by nature, but by reflection and philosophy. She was designed for
scenes of calmness and peace: but she has made herself equal to times of
difficulty, tumult and danger. She shrinks not from the duties which her
station now imposes upon her; but seems like one who possesses resolution
enough to reign with the vigor and power of Zenobia. Her two brothers, who
have remained in the city, Herennianus and Timolaus, leave all affairs of
state to her and the council; they preferring the base pleasures of
sensuality, in which they wallow day and night in company with Antiochus
and his crew. If a deep depression is sometimes seen to rest upon her
spirit, it comes rather when she thinks of her mother, than of herself.
She experiences already, through her lively sympathies, the grief that
will rage in the soul of Zenobia, should fortune deprive her of her crown.

'Zenobia,' she has said to me, 'Zenobia cannot descend from a throne,
without suffering such as common souls cannot conceive. A goddess driven
from heaven and the company of the gods could not endure more. To possess
and to exercise power is to her heaven, to be despoiled of it, Tartarus
and death. She was born for a throne, though not on one; and how she
graces it, you and the world have seen. She will display fortitude under
adversity and defeat, I am sure, and to the common eye, the same soul,
vigorous with all its energies, will appear to preside over her. But the
prospect or expectation of a fall from her high place will rack with
torments such as no mortal can hope to assuage. To witness her grief,
without the power to relieve--I cannot bear to think of it!'

In Livia there is more of the mother. She is proud, imperious, and
ambitious, in a greater measure even than Zenobia. Young as she is, she
believes herself of a different nature from others; she born to rule,
others to serve. It is not the idea of her country and its renown that
fills and sways her, but of a throne and its attendant glories. So she
could reign a Queen, with a Queen's state and homage, it would matter
little to her whether it were in Persia or Palmyra. Yet with those who
are her equals is she free, and even sportive, light of heart, and
overflowing with excess of life. Her eye burns with the bright lustre of
a star, and her step is that of the mistress of a world. She is not
terrified at the prospect before her, for her confident and buoyant
spirit looks down all opposition, and predicts a safe egress from the
surrounding peril, and an ascent, through this very calamity itself, to
a position more illustrious still.

'Julia,' said she, on one occasion of late, while I sat a listener,
'supposing that the people of Palmyra should set aside our renowned
brothers, and again prefer a woman's sway, would not you renounce your
elder right in favor of me? I do not think you would care to be a Queen?'

'That is true,' replied Julia, 'I should not care to be a Queen; and
yet, I believe I should reign, that you might not. Though I covet not
the exercise of power, I believe I should use it more wisely than you
would, who do.'

'I am sure,' said Livia, 'I feel within me that very superiority to
others, which constitutes the royal character, and would fit me eminently
to reign. He cannot be a proper slave who has not the soul of a slave.
Neither can he reign well who has not the soul of a monarch. I am suited
to a throne, just as others are by the providence of the gods suited to
uphold the throne, and be the slaves of it.'

'Were you Queen, Livia, it would be for your own sake; to enjoy the
pleasures which as you imagine accompany that state, and exercise over
others the powers with which you were clothed, and receive the homage of
dependent subjects. Your own magnificence and luxurious state would be
your principal thought. Is that being suited to a throne?'

'But,' said Livia, 'I should not be guilty of intentional wrong toward
any. So long as my people obeyed my laws and supported my government,
there would be no causes of difficulty. But surely, if there were
resistance, and any either insulted or opposed my authority, it would be
a proper occasion for violent measures. For there must be some to govern
as well as others to obey. All cannot rule. Government is founded in
necessity. Kings and queens are of nature's making. It would be right
then to use utmost severity toward such as ceased to obey, as the slave
his master. How could the master obtain the service of the slave, if
there were not reposed in him power to punish? Shall the master of
millions have less?'

'Dear Livia, your principles are suited only to some Persian despotism.
You very soberly imagine, unless you jest, that governments exist for the
sake of those who govern--that kings and queens are the objects for which
governments are instituted,'

'Truly, it is very much so. Otherwise what would the king or queen of an
empire be but a poor official, maintained in a sort of state by the
people, and paid by them for the discharge of a certain set of duties
which must be performed by some one; but who possesses, in fact, no will
nor power of his own; rather the servant of the people than their master?'

'I think,' replied Julia, 'you have given a very just definition of the
imperial office. A king, queen, or emperor, is indeed the servant of the
people. He exists not for his own pleasure or glory, but for their good.
Else he is a tyrant, a despot--not a sovereign.'

'It is then,' said Livia, 'only a tyrant or a despot that I would consent
to be. Not in any bad meaning of the terms; for you know, Julia, that I
could not be cruel nor unjust. But unless I could reign, as one
independent of my people, and irresponsible to them not in name only, but
in reality above them; receiving the homage due to the queenly character
and office--would not reign at all. To sit upon a throne, a mere painted
puppet, shaken by the breath of every conceited or discontented citizen, a
butt for every shaft to fly at, a mere hireling, a slave in a queen's
robe, the mouthpiece for others to speak by and proclaim their laws, with
no will nor power of my own--no, no! It is not such that Zenobia is.'

'She is more than that indeed,' replied Julia; 'she is in some sense a
despot; her will is sovereign in the state; she is an absolute prince in
fact; but it is through the force of her own character and virtues, not by
the consent and expressed allowance of her subjects. Her genius, her
goodness, her justice, and her services, have united to confer upon her
this dangerous pre-eminence. But who else, with power such as hers, would
reign as she has reigned? An absolute will, guided by perfect wisdom and
goodness, constitutes I indeed believe the simplest and best form of human
government. It is a copy of that of the universe, under the providence of
the gods. But an absolute will, moved only or chiefly by the selfish love
of regal state and homage, or by a very defective wisdom and goodness, is
on the other hand the very worst form of human government. You would make
an unequalled queen, Livia, if to act the queen were all; if you were but
to sit and receive the worship of the slaves, your subjects. As you sit
now, Lean almost believe you Queen of the East! Juno's air was not more
imperial, nor the beauty of Venus more enslaving. Piso will not dissent
from what I began with, or now end with.'

'I think you have delivered a true doctrine,' I replied; 'but which few
who have once tasted of power will admit. Liberty would be in great danger
were Livia queen. Her subjects would be too willing to forget their
rights, through a voluntary homage to her queenly character and state.
Their chains would however be none the less chains, that they were
voluntarily assumed. That indeed is the most dangerous slavery which men
impose upon themselves, for it does not bear the name of slavery, but some
other; yet as it is real, the character of the slave is silently and
unconsciously formed, and then unconsciously transmitted.'

'I perceive,' said Livia, 'if what you philosophers urge be true, that I
am rather meant by nature for a Persian or a Roman throne than any other.
I would be absolute, though it were over but a village. A divided and
imperfect power I would not accept, though it were over the world. But
the gods grant it long ere any one be called in Palmyra to fill the place
of Zenobia!'

'Happy were it for mankind,' said Julia, 'could she live and reign
forever.'

Thus do all differences cease and run into harmony at the name of Zenobia.

       *       *       *       *       *

Every hour do we look for the arrival of the army.

       *       *       *       *       *

As I sit writing at my open window, overlooking the street and spacious
courts of the Temple of Justice, I am conscious of an unusual
disturbance--the people at a distance are running in one direction--the
clamor approaches--and now I hear the cries of the multitudes, 'The Queen!
the Queen!'

I fly to the walls.

       *       *       *       *       *

I resume my pen. The alarm was a true one. Upon gaining the streets, I
found the populace all pouring toward the Gate of the Desert, in which
direction, it was affirmed, the Queen was making her approach. Upon
reaching it, and ascending one of its lofty towers, I beheld from the
verge of the horizon to within a mile of the walls, the whole plain filled
with the scattered forces of Zenobia, a cloud of dust resting over the
whole, and marking out the extent of ground they covered. As the advanced
detachments drew near, how different a spectacle did they present from
that bright morning, when glittering in steel, and full of the fire of
expected victory, they proudly took their way toward the places from which
they now were returning, a conquered, spoiled, and dispirited remnant,
covered with the dust of a long march, and wearily dragging their limbs
beneath the rays of a burning sun. Yet was there order and military
discipline preserved, even under circumstances so depressing, and which
usually are an excuse for their total relaxation. It was the silent,
dismal march of a funeral train, rather than the hurried flight of a
routed and discomfited army. There was the stiff and formal military
array, but the life and spirit of an elated and proud soldiery were gone.
They moved with method to the sound of clanging instruments, and the long,
shrill blast of the trumpet, but they moved as mourners, They seemed as
if they came to bury their Queen.

Yet the scene changed to a brighter aspect, as the army drew nearer and
nearer to the walls, and the city throwing open her gates, the populace
burst forth, and with loud and prolonged shouts, welcomed them home. These
shouts sent new life into the hearts of the desponding ranks, and with
brightened faces and a changed air they waved their arms and banners, and
returned shout for shout. As they passed through the gates to the ample
quarters provided within the walls, a thousand phrases of hearty greeting
were showered down upon them, from those who lined the walls, the towers,
and the way-side, which seemed, from the effects produced in those on whom
they fell, a more quickening restorative than could have been any medicine
or food that had ministered only to the body.

The impatience of the multitude to behold and receive the Queen was hardly
to be restrained from breaking forth in some violent way. They were ready
to rush upon the great avenue, bearing aside the troops, that they might
the sooner greet her. When, at length, the centre of the army approached,
and the armed chariot appeared in which Zenobia sat, the enthusiasm of the
people knew no bounds. They broke through all restraint, and with cries
that filled the heavens, pressed toward her--the soldiers catching the
frenzy and joining them--and quickly detaching the horses from her
carriage, themselves drew her into the city just as if she had returned
victor with Aurelian in her train. There was no language of devotion and
loyalty that did not meet her ear, nor any sign of affection that could
be made from any distance, from the plains, the walls, the gates, the
higher buildings of the city, the roofs of which were thronged, that did
not meet her eye. It was a testimony of love so spontaneous and universal,
a demonstration of confidence and unshaken attachment so hearty and
sincere, that Zenobia was more than moved by it, she was subdued--and she
who, by her people, had never before been seen to weep, bent her head and
buried her face in her hands.

With what an agony of expectation, while this scene was passing, did I
await the appearance of Fausta, and Gracchus, and Calpurnius--if, indeed,
I were destined ever to see them again. I waited long, and with pain, but
the gods be praised, not in vain, nor to meet with disappointment only.
Not far in the rear of Zenobia, at the head of a squadron of cavalry,
rode, as my eye distinctly informed me, those whom I sought. No sooner did
they in turn approach the gates, than almost the same welcome that had
been lavished upon Zenobia, was repeated for Fausta, Gracchus, and
Calpurnius. The names of Calpurnius and Fausta--of Calpurnius, as he who
had saved the army at Antioch, of Fausta as the intrepid and fast friend
of the Queen, were especially heard from a thousand lips, joined with
every title of honor. My voice was not wanting in the loud acclaim. It
reached the ears of Fausta, who, starting and looking upward, caught my
eye just as she passed beneath the arch of the gateway. I then descended
from my tower of observation, and joined the crowds who thronged the close
ranks, as they filed along the streets of the city. I pressed upon the
steps of my friends, never being able to keep my eyes from the forms of
those I loved so well, whom I had so feared to lose, and so rejoiced to
behold returned alive and unhurt.

All day the army has continued pouring into the city, and beside the army
greater crowds still of the inhabitants of the suburbs, who, knowing that
before another day shall end, the Romans may encamp before the walls, are
scattering in all directions--multitudes taking refuge in the city, but
greater numbers still, mounted upon elephants, camels, dromedaries and
horses, flying into the country to the north. The whole region as far as
the eye can reach, seems in commotion, as if society were dissolved, and
breaking up from its foundations. The noble and the rich, whose means are
ample, gather together their valuables, and with their children and
friends seek the nearest parts of Mesopotamia, where they will remain in
safety till the siege shall be raised. The poor, and such as cannot reach
the Euphrates, flock into the city, bringing with them what little of
provisions or money they may possess, and are quartered upon the
inhabitants, or take up a temporary abode in the open squares, or in the
courts and porticos of palaces and temples--the softness and serenity of
the climate rendering even so much as the shelter of a tent superfluous.
But by this vast influx the population of the city cannot be less than
doubled, and I should tremble for the means of subsistence for so large a
multitude, did I not know the inexhaustible magazines of grain, laid up by
the prudent foresight of the Queen, in anticipation of the possible
occurrence of the emergency which has now arrived. A long time--longer
than he himself would be able to subsist his army--must Aurelian lie
before Palmyra ere he can hope to reduce it by famine. What impression his
engines may be able to make upon the walls, remains to be seen. Periander
pronounces the city impregnable. My own judgment, formed upon a comparison
of it with the cities most famous in the world for the strength of their
defences, would agree with his.

Following on in the wake of the squadron to which Fausta was attached, I
wished to reach the camp at the same time with herself and Gracchus and
my brother, but owing to the press in the streets, arising from the
causes just specified, I was soon separated from, and lost sight of it.
Desirous however to meet them, I urged my way along with much labor till
I reached the quarter of the city assigned to the troops, where I found
the tents and the open ground already occupied. I sought in vain for
Fausta. While I waited, hoping still to see her, I stood leaning upon a
pile of shields, which the soldiers, throwing off their arms, had just
made, and watching them as they were, some disencumbering themselves of
their armor, others unclasping the harness of their horses, others
arranging their weapons into regular forms, and others, having gone
through their first tasks, were stretching themselves at rest beneath the
shadow of their tents, or of some branching tree. Near me sat a soldier,
who, apparently too fatigued to rid himself of his heavy armor, had
thrown himself upon the ground, and was just taking off his helmet, and
wiping the dust and sweat from his face, while a little boy, observing
his wants, ran to a neighboring fountain, and filling a vessel with
water, returned and held it to him, saying, 'Drink, soldier this will
make you stronger than your armor.'

'You little traitor,' said the soldier,' art not ashamed to bring drink to
me, who have helped to betray the city? Beware, or a sharp sword will cut
you in two.'

'I thought,' replied the child, nothing daunted, 'that you were a soldier
of Palmyra, who had been to fight the Romans. But whoever you may be, I am
sure you need the water.'

'But,' rejoined the soldier, swallowing at long draughts as if it had been
nectar, the cooling drink, 'do I deserve water, or any of these cowards
here, who have been beaten by the Romans, and so broken the heart of our
good Queen, and possibly lost her her throne? Answer me that.'

'You have done what you could, I know,' replied the boy, 'because you
are a Palmyrene, and who can do more? I carry round the streets of the
city in this palm-leaf basket, date cakes, which I sell to those who
love them. But does my mother blame me because I do not always come home
with an empty basket? I sell what I can. Should I be punished for doing
what I cannot?'

'Get you gone, you rogue,' replied the soldier; 'you talk like a Christian
boy, and they have a new way of returning good for evil. But here, if you
have cakes in your basket, give me one and I will give you a penny all the
way from Antioch. See! there is the head of Aurelian on it. Take care he
don't eat you up--or at least your cakes. But hark you, little boy, do you
see yonder that old man with a bald head, leaning against his shield? go
to him with your cakes.'

The boy ran off.

'Friend,' said I, addressing him, 'your march has not lost you your
spirits; you can jest yet.'

'Truly I can. If the power to do that were gone, then were all lost. A
good jest in a time of misfortune is food and drink. It is strength to the
arm, digestion to the stomach, courage to the heart. It is better than
wisdom or wine. A prosperous man may afford to be melancholy, but if the
miserable are so, they are worse than dead--but it is sure to kill them.
Near me I had a comrade whose wit it was alone that kept life in me upon
the desert. All the way from Emesa, had it not been for the tears of
laughter, those of sorrow and shame would have killed me.'

'But in the words of the little cake urchin, you did what you could. The
fates were opposed to you.'

'If all had done as much and as well as some, we would have had the fates
in our own keeping. Had it not been for that artifice of the Romans at
Antioch, we, had now been rather in Rome than here, and it was a woman--or
girl rather, as I am told--the daughter of Gracchus, who first detected
the cheat, and strove to save the army, but it was too late.'

'Were you near her?'

'Was I not? Not the great Zabdas himself put more mettle into the troops
than did that fiery spirit and her black horse. And beyond a doubt, she
would have perished through an insane daring, had not the Queen in time
called her from the field, and afterward kept her within her sight and
reach. Her companion, a Roman turned Palmyrene as I heard, was like one
palsied when she was gone, till when, he had been the very Mars of the
field. As it was, he was the true hero of the day. He brought to my mind
Odenatus, 'Twas so he looked that day we entered Ctesiphon I could wish,
and hope too, that he might share the throne of Zenobia, but that all the
world knows what a man-hater she is. But were you not there?'

'No. It could not be. I remained in the city.'

'Ten thousand more of such men as you--and we would not have fallen back
upon Emesa, nor left Antioch without the head of Aurelian. But alas for
it, the men of Palmyra are men of silk, and love their pleasures too well
to be free. I should call them women, but for Zenobia and the daughter of
Gracchus.'

'Do not take me for one of them. I am a Roman--and could not fight against
my country.'

'A Roman! and what makes you here? Suppose I were to run you through with
this spear?'

'Give me another and you are welcome to try.'

'Am I so? Then will I not do it. Give a man his will and he no longer
cares for it. Besides, having escaped with hazard from the clutches of one
Roman, I will not encounter another. Dost thou know that demon Aurelian?
Half who fell, fell by his hand. His sword made no more of a man in steel
armor, than mine would of a naked slave. Many a tall Palmyrene did he
split to the saddle, falling both ways. The ranks broke and fled wherever
he appeared. Death could not keep pace with him. The Roman Piso--of our
side--sought him over the field, to try his fortune with him, but the gods
protected him, and he found him not: otherwise his body were now food for
hyenas. No arm of mortal mould can cope with his, Mine is not despicable:
there is not its match in Palmyra: but I would not encounter Aurelian
unless I were in love with death.'

'It is as you say, I well know. He is reputed in our army to have killed
more with his single arm in battle, than any known in Roman history. Our
camp resounds with songs which celebrate his deeds of blood. His slain are
counted by thousands, nothing less.'

'The gods blast him, ere he be seen before the walls of Palmyra; our
chance were better against double the number of legions under another
general. The general makes the soldier. The Roman infantry are so many
Aurelians. Yet to-morrow's sun will see him here. I am free to say, I
tremble for Palmyra. A war ill begun, will, if auguries are aught, end
worse. Last night the sky was full of angry flashes, both white and red.
While the army slept over-wrought upon the desert, and the silence of
death was around, the watches heard sounds as of the raging of a battle,
distinct and clear, dying away in groans as of a host perishing under the
sword and battle-axe. These horrid sounds at length settled over the
sleeping men, till it seemed as if they proceeded from them. The
sentinels--at first struck dumb with terror and amazement--called out to
one another to know what it should mean, but they could only confirm to
each other what had been heard, and together ask the protection of the
gods. But what strikes deeper yet, is what you have heard, that the
Queen's far-famed Numidian, just as we came in sight of the walls of the
city, stumbled, and where he stumbled, fell and died. What these things
forebode, if not disaster and ruin, 'tis hard to say. I need no one to
read them to me.'

Saying thus, he rose and began to divest himself of the remainder of his
heavy armor, saying, as he did it--'It was this heavy armor that lost us
the day at Antioch--lighter, and we could have escaped the meshes. Now let
me lie and sleep.'

Returning, hardly had I arrived at the house of Gracchus, when it was
announced in loud shouts by the slaves of the palace, that Gracchus
himself, Fausta and Calpurnius were approaching. I hastened to the portico
overlooking the court-yard, and was there just in season to assist Fausta
to dismount. It was a joyful moment I need scarce assure you. Fausta
returns wholly unhurt. Gracchus is wounded upon his left, and Calpurnius
upon his right arm--but will not long suffer from the injury.

It was an unspeakable joy, once more to hear the cheerful voice of
Gracchus resounding in the walls of his own dwelling, and to see Fausta,
eased of her unnatural load of iron, again moving in her accustomed sphere
in that graceful costume, partly Roman and partly Persian, and which now
hides and now betrays the form, so as to reveal its beauty in the most
perfect manner. A deep sadness, deeper than ever, sits upon her
countenance, whenever her own thoughts occupy her. But surrounded by her
friends, her native spirit, too elastic to be subdued, breaks forth, and
she seems her former self again.

Our evening meal was sad, but not silent.

Gracchus instructed me, by giving a minute narrative of the march to
Antioch--of the two battles--and the retreat. Calpurnius related with
equal exactness the part which he took, and the services which Fausta, by
her penetrating observation, had been able to render to the army. They
united in bestowing the highest encomiums upon Zenobia, who herself
planned the battle, and disposed the forces, and with such consummate
judgment, that Zabdas himself found nothing to disapprove or alter.

'The day was clearly ours,' said Fausta, 'but for the artifice of
Aurelian--allowable, I know, by all the rules of war--by which we were led
on blindfold to our ruin. But flushed as we were by the early and complete
success of the day, is it to be severely condemned that our brave men
followed up their advantages with too much confidence, and broke from that
close order, in which till then, they had fought; and by doing so, lost
the command of themselves and their own strength? O, the dulness of our
spirits, that we did not sooner detect the rank insincerity of that
sudden, unexpected retreat of the Roman horse!'

'The gods rather be praised,' said Gracchus, 'that your watchful eye
detected so soon, what was too well concerted and acted to be perceived at
all, and that as the fruit of it we sit here alive, and Zenobia holds her
throne, and so many of our brave soldiers are now locked in sleep beneath
their quiet tents.'

'That, I think,' said Calpurnius, 'is rather the sentiment that should
possess us. You will hardly believe, Lucius, that it was owing to the
military genius of your ancient playmate, that we escaped the certain
destruction that had been prepared for us?'

'I can believe any thing good in that quarter, and upon slighter
testimony. I have already heard from the lips of a soldier of your legion,
that which you have now related. Part of the praise was by him bestowed
upon one Piso, a Roman turned Palmyrene as he termed him, who, he
reported, fought at the side of the daughter of Gracchus.'

'He could not have said too much of that same Piso,' said Gracchus.
'Palmyra owes him a large debt of gratitude, which I am sure she will not
be slow to pay. But let us think rather of the future than of the past,
which, however we may have conducted, speaks only of disaster.'

I thank you for your assurances concerning Laco and Coelia. Your
conscience will never reproach you for this lenity.



Letter XIV.



The last days of this so lately favored empire draw near--at least such is
my judgment. After a brief day of glory, its light will set in a long
night of utter darkness and ruin.

Close upon the rear guard of the Queen's forces followed the light troops
of Aurelian, and early this morning it was proclaimed that the armies of
Rome were in sight, and fast approaching the city. These armies were
considered too numerous to hazard another battle, therefore the gates
were shut, and we are now beleaguered by a power too mighty to contend
with, and which the Arabs, the climate, and want, must be trusted to
subdue. The circumjacent plains are filled with the legions of Rome.
Exhausted, by the march across the desert, they have but pitched their
tents, and now repose.

The Queen displays more than ever her accustomed activity and energy. She
examines in person every part of the vast extent of wall, and every engine
planted upon them for their defence. By her frequent presence in every
part of the city she inspires her soldiers with the same spirit which
possesses herself; and for herself, to behold her careering through the
streets of the city, reviewing, and often addressing, the different
divisions of the army, and issuing her commands, she seems rather like one
who is now Queen of the East, and is soon to be of the world, than one
whose dominion is already narrowed down to the compass of a single city,
and may shortly be deprived even of that. The lofty dignity of her air
has assumed a more imposing greatness still. The imperial magnificence of
her state is noways diminished, but rather increased, so that by a sort of
delusion of the senses, she seems more a Queen than ever. By her native
vigor and goodness, and by the addition of a most consummate art, by which
she manages as she will a people whom she perfectly comprehends, she is at
this moment more deeply intrenched within the affections of her subjects,
and more completely the object of their idolatrous homage than ever
before. Yet in her secret soul there is a deep depression, and a loss of
confidence in her cause, which amounts not yet to a loss of hope, but
approaches it. This is seen by those who can observe her in her more quiet
hours, when the glare of public action and station is off, and her mind is
left to its own workings. But, like those who play at dice, she has staked
all--her kingdom, her crown--her life perhaps--upon a single throw, and
having wound herself up to the desperate act, all the entreaty or argument
of the whole earth could not move her to unclasp the hand that wields the
fatal box. She will abide the throw.

There are still those who use both intreaty and argument to persuade her
even at this late hour to make the best terms she may with Rome. Otho,
though perfectly loyal and true, ceases not to press upon her, both in
public and in private, those considerations which may have any weight with
her to induce a change of measures. But it has thus far been to no
purpose. Others there are who, as the danger increases, become more and
more restless, and scruple not to let their voice be heard in loud
complaint and discontent, but they are too few in proportion to the whole,
to make them objects of apprehension. It will however be strange if, as
the siege is prolonged, they do not receive such accessions of strength as
to render them dangerous.

The Emperor has commenced his attacks upon the city in a manner that shows
him unacquainted with its strength. The battle has raged fiercely all day,
with great loss we infer to the Romans, with none we know to the
Palmyrenes.

Early on the morning of the second day it was evident that a general
assault was to be made. The Roman army completely surrounded the city, at
the same signal approached, and under cover of their shields, attempted
both to undermine and scale the walls. But their attempts were met with
such vigor, and with such advantage of action by the besieged, that
although repeated many times during the day, they have resulted in only
loss and death to the assailants. It is incredible the variety and
ingenuity of the contrivances by which the Queen's forces beat off and
rendered ineffectual all the successive movements of the enemy, in their
attempts to surmount the walls. Not only from every part of them were
showers of arrows discharged from the bows of experienced archers, but
from engines also, by which they were driven to a much greater distance,
and with great increase of force.

This soon rendered every attack of this nature useless and worse, and
their efforts were then concentrated upon the several gates, which
simultaneously were attempted to be broken in, fired, or undermined. But
here again, as often as these attempts were renewed, were they defeated,
and great destruction made of those engaged in them. The troops
approached as is usual, covered completely, or buried rather, beneath
their shields. They were suffered to form directly under the walls, and
actually commence their work of destruction, when suddenly from the
towers of the gates, and through channels constructed for the purpose in
every part of the masonry, torrents of liquid fire were poured upon the
iron roof, beneath which the soldiers worked. This at first they endured.
The melted substances ran off from the polished surface of the shields,
and the stones which were dashed upon them from engines, after rattling
and bounding over their heads, rolled harmless to the ground. But there
was in reserve a foe which they could not encounter. When it was found
that the fiery streams flowed down the slanting sides of the shell,
penetrating scarcely at all through the crevices of the well-joined
shields, it was suggested by the ingenious Periander, that there should
first be thrown down a quantity of pitch in a half melted state, by which
the whole surface of the roof should be completely covered, and which
should then, by a fresh discharge of fire, be set in a blaze, the effect
of which must be to heat the shields to such a degree, that they could
neither be held, nor the heat beneath endured by the miners. This was
immediately resorted to at all the gates, and the success was complete.
For no sooner was the cold pitch set on fire and constantly fed by fresh
quantities from above, than the heat became insupportable to those below,
who suddenly letting go their hold, and breaking away from their
compacted form, in hope to escape from the stifling heat, the burning
substance then poured in upon them, and vast numbers perished miserably
upon the spot, or ran burning, and howling with pain, toward the camp.
The slaughter made was very great, and terrible to behold.

Nevertheless, the next day the same attempts were renewed, in the hope, we
supposed, that the Queen's missiles might be expended, but were defeated
again in the same manner and with like success.

These things being so, and Aurelian being apparently convinced that the
city cannot be taken by storm, the enemy are now employed in surrounding
it with a double ditch and rampart, as defences both against us and our
allies, between which the army is to be safely encamped; an immense labor,
to which I believe a Roman army is alone equal. While this has been doing,
the Palmyrenes have made frequent sallies from the gates, greatly
interrupting the progress of the work, and inflicting severe losses. These
attacks have usually been made at night, when the soldiers have been
wearied by the exhausting toil of the day, and only a small proportion of
the whole have been in a condition to ward off the blows.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Roman works are at length completed. Every lofty palm tree, every
cedar, every terebinth, has disappeared from the surrounding plains, to
be converted into battering rams, or wrought into immense towers, fire
and constantly fed by fresh quantities from above, than the heat became
insupportable to those below, who suddenly letting go their hold, and
breaking away from their compacted form, in hope to escape from the
stifling heat, the burning substance then poured in upon them, and vast
numbers perished miserably upon the spot, or ran burning, and howling
with pain, toward the camp. The slaughter made was very great, and
terrible to behold.

Nevertheless, the next day the same attempts were renewed, in the hope, we
supposed, that the Queen's missiles might be expended, but were defeated
again in the same manner and with like success.

These things being so, and Aurelian being apparently convinced that the
city cannot be taken by storm, the enemy are now employed in surrounding
it with a double ditch and rampart, as defences both against us and our
allies, between which the army is to be safely encamped; an immense labor,
to which I believe a Roman army is alone equal. While this has been doing,
the Palmyrenes have made frequent sallies from the gates, greatly
interrupting the progress of the work, and inflicting severe losses. These
attacks have usually been made at night, when the soldiers have been
wearied by the exhausting toil of the day, and only a small proportion of
the whole have been in a condition to ward off the blows.

The Roman works are at length completed. Every lofty palm tree, every
cedar, every terebinth, has disappeared from the surrounding plains, to be
converted into battering rams, or wrought into immense towers, fired, if
possible, by means of well-barbed arrows and javelins, to which were
attached sacs and balls of inflammable and explosive substances. These
fastening themselves upon every part of the tower could not fail to set
fire to them while yet at some distance, and in extinguishing which the
water and other means provided for that purpose would be nearly or quite
exhausted, before they had reached the walls. Then as they came within
easier reach, the engines were to belch forth those rivers of oil, fire,
and burning pitch, which he was sure no structure, unless of solid iron,
could withstand.

These directions were carefully observed, and their success at every point
such as Periander had predicted. At the Gate of the Desert the most
formidable preparations were made, under the inspection of the Emperor
himself, who, at a distance, could plainly be discerned directing the work
and encouraging the soldiers. Two towers of enormous size were here
constructed, and driven toward the walls. Upon both, as they came within
the play of the engines, were showered the fiery javelins and arrows,
which it required all the activity of the occupants to ward off, or
extinguish where they had succeeded in fastening themselves. One was soon
in flames. The other, owing either to its being of a better construction,
or to a less vigorous discharge of fire on the part of the defenders of
the wall, not only escaped the more distant storm of blazing missiles, but
succeeded in quenching the floods of burning pitch and oil, which, as it
drew nearer and nearer, were poured upon it in fiery streams. On it moved,
propelled by its invisible and protected power, and had now reached the
wall; the bridge was in the very act of being thrown and grappled to the
ramparts; Aurelian was seen pressing forward the legions, who, as soon as
it should be fastened, were to pour up its flights of steps and out upon
the walls; when, to the horror of all, not less of the besiegers than of
the besieged, its foundations upon one side--being laid over the
moat--suddenly gave way, and the towering and enormous mass, with all its
living burden, fell thundering to the plain. A shout, as of a delivered
and conquering army, went up from the walls, while upon the legions below,
such as had not been crushed by the tumbling ruin, and who endeavored to
save themselves by flight, a sudden storm of stones, rocks, burning pitch,
and missiles of a thousand kinds was directed, that left few to escape to
tell the tale of death to their comrades. Aurelian, in his fury, or his
desire to aid the fallen, approaching too near the walls, was himself
struck by a well-directed shaft, wounded, and borne from the field.

At the other gates, where similar assaults had been made, the same success
attended the Palmyrenes. The towers were in each instance set on fire and
destroyed.

The city has greatly exulted at the issue of these repeated contests.
Every sound and sign of triumph has been made upon the walls. Banners have
been waved to and fro, trumpets have been blown, and in bold defiance of
their power, parties of horse have sallied out from the gates, and after
careering in sight of the enemy, have returned again within the walls. The
enemy are evidently dispirited, and already weary of the work they have
undertaken.

The Queen and her ministers are confident of success, so far as active
resistance of the attacks upon the walls is concerned--and perhaps with
reason. For not even the walls of Rome, as they are now re-building, can
be of greater strength than these; and never were the defences of a
besieged city so complete at all points. But with equal reason are they
despondent in the prospect of Aurelian's reducing them by want. If he
shall succeed in procuring supplies for his army, and if he shall defeat
the allies of the Queen, who are now every day looked for, captivity and
ruin are sure. But the Queen and the citizens entertain themselves with
the hope, that Aurelian's fiery temper will never endure the slow and
almost disgraceful process of starving them into a surrender, and that
finding his army constantly diminishing through the effects of such
extraordinary exertions in a climate like this, he will at length propose
such terms as they without dishonor can accept.

Many days have passed in inactivity on both sides; except that nothing can
exceed the strictness with which all approaches to the city are watched,
and the possibility of supplies reaching it cut off.

That which has been expected has come to pass. The Emperor has offered
terms of surrender to the Queen; but such terms, and so expressed, that
their acceptance was not so much as debated. The Queen was in council with
her advisers, when it was announced that a herald from the Roman camp was
seen approaching the walls. The gates were ordered to be opened, and the
messenger admitted. He was conducted to the presence of the Queen,
surrounded by her ministers.

'I come,' said he, as he advanced toward Zenobia, 'bearing a letter from
the Emperor of Rome to the Queen of Palmyra. Here it is.'

'I receive it gladly,' replied the Queen, 'and hope that it may open a way
to an honorable composition of the difficulties which now divide us.
Nichomachus, break the seals and read its contents.'

The secretary took the epistle from the hands of the herald, and opening,
read that which follows:

  'Aurelian, Emperor of Rome and Conqueror of the East, to Zenobia and her
  companions in arms.

  'You ought of your own accord long since to have done, what now by this
  letter I enjoin and command. And what I now enjoin and command is this,
  an immediate surrender of the city; but with assurance of life to
  yourself and your friends; you, O Queen, with your friends, to pass your
  days where the senate, in its sovereign will, shall please to appoint.
  The rights of every citizen shall be respected, upon condition that all
  precious stones, silver, gold, silk, horses and camels be delivered into
  the hands of the Romans.'

As the secretary finished these words the Queen broke forth,----

'What think you, good friends?'--her mounting color and curled lip showing
the storm that raged within--'What think you? Is it a man or a god who has
written thus? Can it be a mortal who speaks in such terms to another? By
the soul of Odenatus, but I think it must be the God of War himself.
Slave, what sayest thou?'

'I am but the chosen bearer,' the herald replied, 'of what I took from the
hands of the Emperor. But between him and the god just named there is, as
I deem, but small difference.'

'That's well said,' replied the Queen; 'there's something of the old Roman
in thee. Friends,' she continued, turning to her counsellors, 'what answer
shall we send to this lordly command? What is your advice?'

'Mine is,' said Zabdas, 'that the Queen set her foot upon the accursed
scroll, and that yonder wretch that bore it be pitched headlong from the
highest tower upon the walls, and let the wind from his rotting carcass
bear back our only answer.'

'Nay, nay, brave Zabdas,' said the Queen, the fury of her general having
the effect to restore her own self-possession, 'thou wouldst not counsel
so. War then doubles its wo and guilt, when cruelty and injustice bear
sway. Otho, what sayest thou?'

'Answer it in its own vein! You smile, Queen, as if incredulous. But I
repeat--answer it in its own vein! I confess an inward disappointment and
an inward change. I hoped much from terms which a wise man might at this
point propose, and soil neither his own nor his country's honor. But
Aurelian--I now see--is not such a one. He is but the spoiled child of
fortune. He has grown too quickly great to grow well. Wisdom has had no
time to ripen.'

Others concurring, Zenobia seized a pen and wrote that which I transcribe.

'Zenobia, Queen of the East? to Aurelian Augustus.

'No one before you ever thought to make a letter serve instead of a
battle. But let me tell you, whatever is won in war, is won by bravery,
not by letters. You ask me to surrender--as if ignorant that Cleopatra
chose rather to die, than, surrendering, to live in the enjoyment of every
honor. Our Persian allies will not fail me. I look for them every hour.
The Saracens are with me--the Armenians are with me. The Syrian robbers
have already done you no little damage. What then can you expect, when
these allied armies are upon you? You will lay aside I think a little of
that presumption with which you now command me to surrender, as if you
were already conqueror of the whole world.'

       *       *       *       *       *

The letter being written and approved by those who were present, it was
placed by Nichomachus in the hands of the herald.

       *       *       *       *       *

No one can marvel, my Curtius, that a letter in the terms of Aurelian's
should be rejected, nor that it should provoke such an answer as
Zenobia's. It has served merely to exasperate passions which were already
enough excited. It was entirely in the power of the Emperor to have
terminated the contest, by the proposal of conditions which Palmyra would
have gladly accepted, and by which Rome would have been more profited and
honored than it can be by the reduction and ruin of a city and kingdom
like this. But it is too true, that Aurelian is rather a soldier than an
Emperor. A victory got by blood is sweeter far to him, I fear, than
tenfold wider conquests won by peaceful negotiations.

The effect of the taunting and scornful answer of the Queen has been
immediately visible in the increased activity and stir in the camp of
Aurelian. Preparations are going on for renewed assaults upon the walls
upon a much larger scale than before.

       *       *       *       *       *

On the evening of the day on which the letter of Aurelian was received and
answered, I resorted, according to my custom during the siege, to a part
of the walls not far from the house of Gracchus, whence an extended view
is had of the Roman works and camp. Fausta, as often before, accompanied
me. She delights thus at the close of these weary, melancholy days, to
walk forth, breathe the reviving air, observe the condition of the city,
and from the towers upon the walls, watch the movements and labors of the
enemy. The night was without moon or stars. Low and heavy clouds hung, but
did not move, over our heads. The air was still, nay, rather dead, so deep
was its repose.

'How oppressive is this gloom,' said Fausta, as we came forth upon the
ramparts, and took our seat where the eye could wander unobstructed over
the plain, 'and yet how gaily illuminated is this darkness by yonder belt
of moving lights. It seems like the gorgeous preparation for a funeral.
Above us and behind it is silent and dark. These show like the torches of
the approaching mourners. The gods grant there be no omen in this.'

'I know not,' I replied. 'It may be so. To-day has, I confess it,
destroyed the last hope in my mind that there might come a happy
termination to this unwise and unnecessary contest. It can end now only in
the utter defeat and ruin of one of the parties--and which that shall be I
cannot doubt. Listen, Fausta, to the confused murmur that comes from the
camp of the Roman army, bearing witness to its numbers; and to those
sounds of the hammer, the axe, and the saw, plied by ten thousand arms,
bearing witness to the activity and exhaustless resources of the enemy,
and you cannot but feel, that at last--it may be long first--but that at
last, Palmyra must give way. From what has been observed to-day, there is
not a doubt that Aurelian has provided, by means of regular caravans to
Antioch, for a constant supply of whatever his army requires.
Reinforcements too, both of horse and foot, are seen daily arriving, in
such numbers as more than to make good those who have been lost under the
walls, or by the excessive heats of the climate.'

'I hear so,' said Fausta, 'but I will not despair. If I have one absorbing
love, it is for Palmyra. It is the land of my birth, of my affections. I
cannot tell you with what pride I have watched its growth, and its daily
advancement in arts and letters, and have dwelt in fancy upon that future,
when it should rival Rome, and surpass the traditionary glories of Babylon
and Nineveh. O Lucius! to see now a black pall descending--these swollen
clouds are an emblem of it--and settling upon the prospect and veiling it
forever in death and ruin--I cannot believe it. It cannot have come to
this. It is treason to give way to such fears. Where Zenobia is, final
ruin cannot come.'

'It ought not, I wish it could not,' I replied, 'but my fears are that it
will, and my fears now are convictions. Where now, my dear Fausta, are the
so certainly expected reliefs from Armenia, from Persia?--Fausta, Palmyra
must fall.'

'Lucius Piso, Palmyra shall not fall--I say it--and every Palmyrene says
it--and what all say, is decreed. If we are true in our loyalty and
zeal, the Romans will be wearied out. Lucius, could I but reach the tent
of Aurelian, my single arm should rid Palmyra of her foe, and achieve
her freedom.'

'No, Fausta, you could not do it.'

'Indeed I would and could. I would consent to draw infamy upon my head as
a woman, if by putting off my sex and my nature too, I could by such an
act give life to a dying nation, and what is as much, preserve Zenobia
her throne.'

'Think not in that vein, Fausta. I would not that your mind should be
injured even by the thought.'

'I do not feel it to be an injury,' she rejoined; 'it would be a sacrifice
for my country, and the dearer, in that I should lose my good name in
making it. I should be sure of one thing, that I should do it in no
respect for my own glory. But let us talk no more of it. I often end,
Lucius, when thinking of our calamities, and of a fatal termination of
these contests to us, with dwelling upon one bright vision. Misfortune to
us will bring you nearer to Julia.'

'The gods forbid that my happiness should be bought at such a price!'

'It will only come as an accidental consequence, and cannot disturb you.
If Palmyra falls, the pride of Zenobia will no longer separate you.'

'But,' I replied, 'the prospect is not all so bright. Captive princes are
by the usages of Rome often sacrificed, and Aurelian, if sometimes
generous, is often cruel. Fears would possess me in the event of a
capitulation or conquest, which I cannot endure to entertain.'

'O Lucius, you rate Aurelian too low, if you believe he could revenge
himself upon a woman--and such a woman as Zenobia. I cannot believe it
possible. No. If Palmyra falls it will give you Julia, and it will be some
consolation even in the fall of a kingdom, that it brings happiness to
two, whom friendship binds closer to me than any others.'

As Fausta said these words, we became conscious of the presence of a
person at no great distance from us, leaning against the parapet of the
wall, the upper part of the form just discernible.

'Who stands yonder?' said Fausta. 'It has not the form of a sentinel;
besides, the sentinel paces by us to and fro without pausing. It may be
Calpurnius, His legion is in this quarter. Let us move toward him.'

'No. He moves himself and comes toward us. How dark the night! I can make
nothing of the form.'

The figure passed us, and unchallenged by the sentinel whom it met. After
a brief absence it returned, and stopping as it came before us--

'Fausta!' said a voice--once heard, not to be mistaken.

'Zenobia!' said Fausta, and forgetting dignity, embraced her as a friend.

'What makes you here?' inquired Fausta;--'are there none in Palmyra to do
your bidding, but you must be abroad at such an hour and such a place?'

''Tis not so fearful quite,' replied the Queen, 'as a battle-field, and
there you trust me.'

'Never, willingly.'

'Then you do not love my honor?' said the Queen, taking Fausta's hand as
she spoke.

'I love your safety better--no--no--what have I said--not better than your
honor--and yet to what end is honor, if we lose the life in which it
resides? I sometimes think we purchase human glory too dearly, at the
sacrifice of quiet, peace, and security.'

'But you do not think so long. What is a life of indulgence and sloth?
Life is worthy only in what it achieves. Should I have done better to have
sat over my embroidery, in the midst of my slaves, all my days, than to
have spent them in building up a kingdom?'

'O no--no--you have done right. Slaves can embroider: Zenobia cannot. This
hand was made for other weapon than the needle.'

'I am weary,' said the Queen; 'let us sit;'--and saying so, she placed
herself upon the low stone block, upon which we had been sitting, and
drawing Fausta near her, she threw her left arm round her, retaining the
hand she held clasped in her own.

'I am weary,' she continued, 'for I have walked nearly the circuit of the
walls. You asked what makes me here. No night passes but I visit these
towers and battlements. If the governor of the ship sleeps, the men at the
watch sleep. Besides, I love Palmyra too well to sleep while others wait
and watch. I would do my share. How beautiful is this!--the city girded
by these strange fires! its ears filled with this busy music! Piso, it
seems hard to believe an enemy, and such an enemy, is there, and that
these sights and sounds are all of death!'

'Would it were not so, noble Queen! Would it were not yet too late to move
in the cause of peace. If even at the risk of life I--'

'Forbear, Piso,' quickly rejoined the Queen; 'it is to no purpose. You
have my thanks, but your Emperor has closed the door of peace forever. It
is now war unto death. He may prove victor: it is quite possible: but I
draw not back--no word of supplication goes from me. And every citizen
of Palmyra, save a few sottish souls, is with me. It were worth my throne
and my life, the bare suggestion of an embassy now to Aurelian. But let us
not speak of this, but of things more agreeable. The day for trouble, the
night for rest. Fausta, where is the quarter of Calpurnius? methinks it is
hereabouts.'

'It is,' replied Fausta, 'just beyond the towers of the gate next to us;
were it not for this thick night, we could see where at this time he is
usually to be found, doing, like yourself, an unnecessary task.'

'He is a good soldier and a faithful--may he prove as true to you, my
noble girl, as he has to me. Albeit I am myself a sceptic in love, I
cannot but be made happier when I see hearts worthy of each other united
by that bond. I trust that bright days are coming, when I may do you the
honor I would. Piso, I am largely a debtor to your brother--and Palmyra as
much. Singular fortune! that while Rome thus oppresses me, to Romans I
should owe so much; to one twice my life, to another my army. But where,
Lucius Piso, was your heart, that it fell not into the snare that caught
Calpurnius?'

'My heart,' I replied, 'has always been Fausta's, from childhood--'

'Our attachment,' said Fausta, interrupting me, 'is not less than love,
but greater. It is the sacred tie of nature, if I may say so, of brother
to sister; it is friendship.'

'You say well,' replied the Queen. 'I like the sentiment. It is not less
than love, but greater. Love is a delirium, a dream, a disease. It is full
of disturbance. It is unequal, capricious, unjust; its felicity, when at
the highest, is then nearest to deepest misery; a step, and it is into
unfathomable gulfs of woe. While the object loved is as yet unattained,
life is darker than darkest night. When it is attained, it is then oftener
like the ocean heaving and tossing from its foundations, than the calm,
peaceful lake, which mirrors friendship. And when lost, all is lost, the
universe is nothing. Who will deny it the name of madness? Will love find
entrance into Elysium? Will heaven know more than friendship? I trust not.
It were an element of discord there, where harmony should reign
perpetual.' After a pause, in which she seemed buried in thought, she
added musingly--'What darkness rests upon the future! Life, like love, is
itself but a dream; often a brief or a prolonged madness. Its light burns
sometimes brightly, oftener obscurely, and with a flickering ray, and then
goes out in smoke and darkness. How strange that creatures so exquisitely
wrought as we are, capable of such thoughts and acts, rising by science,
and art, and letters, almost to the level of gods, should be fixed here
for so short a time, running our race with the unintelligent brute; living
not so long as some, dying like all. Could I have ever looked out of this
life into the possession of any other beyond it, I believe my aims would
have been different. I should not so easily have been satisfied with glory
and power: at least I think so; for who knows himself? I should then, I
think, have reached after higher kinds of excellence, such for example as,
existing more in the mind itself, could be of avail after death--could be
carried out of the world--which power, riches, glory, cannot. The greatest
service which any philosopher could perform for the human race, would be
to demonstrate the certainty of a future existence, in the same
satisfactory manner that Euclid demonstrates the truths of geometry. We
cannot help believing Euclid if we would, and the truths he has
established concerning lines and angles, influence us whether we will or
not. Whenever the immortality of the soul shall be proved in like manner,
so that men cannot help believing it, so that they shall draw it in with
the first elements of all knowledge, then will mankind become a quite
different race of beings. Men will be more virtuous and more happy. How is
it possible to be either in a very exalted degree, dwelling as we do in
this deep obscure, uncertain whether we are mere earth and water, or parts
of the divinity; whether we are worms or immortals; men or gods; spending
all our days in, at best, miserable perplexity and doubt? Do you
remember, Fausta and Piso, the discourse of Longinus in the garden,
concerning the probability of a future life?

'We do, very distinctly.'

'And how did it impress you?'

'It seemed to possess much likelihood,' replied Fausta, 'but that was
all.'

'Yes,' responded the Queen, sighing deeply, 'that was indeed all.
Philosophy, in this part of it, is a mere guess. Even Longinus can but
conjecture. And what to his great and piercing intellect stands but in the
strength of probability, to ours will, of necessity, address itself in the
very weakness of fiction. As it is, I value life only for the brightest
and best it can give now, and these to my mind are power and a throne.
When these are lost I would fall unregarded into darkness and death.'

'But,' I ventured to suggest, 'you derive great pleasure and large profit
from study; from the researches of philosophy, from the knowledge of
history, from contemplation of the beauties of art, and the magnificence
of nature. Are not these things that give worth to life? If you reasoned
aright, and probed the soul well, would you not find that from these, as
from hidden springs, a great deal of all the best felicity you have
tasted, has welled up? Then, still more, from acts of good and just
government; from promoting and witnessing the happiness of your subjects;
from private friendship; from affections resting upon objects worthy to be
loved--from these has no happiness come worth living for? And beside all
this, from an inward consciousness of rectitude? Most of all this may
still be yours, though you no longer sat upon a throne, and men held their
lives but in your breath.

'From such sources,' replied Zenobia, 'some streams have issued it may
be, that have added to what I have enjoyed; but, of themselves, they would
have been nothing. The lot of earth, being of the low and common herd, is
a lot too low and sordid to be taken if proffered. I thank the gods mine
has been better. It has been a throne, glory, renown, pomp, and power; and
I have been happy. Stripped of these, and without the prospect of
immortality, and I would not live.'

With these words she rose quickly from her seat, saying that she had
a further duty to perform. Fausta intreated to be used as an agent or
messenger, but could not prevail. Zenobia darting from our side was
in a moment lost in the surrounding darkness. We returned to the
house of Gracchus.

In a few days, the vast preparations of the Romans being complete, a
general assault was made by the whole army upon every part of the walls.
Every engine, known to our modern methods of attacking walled cities, was
brought to bear. Towers constructed in the former manner were wheeled up
to the walls. Battering rams of enormous size, those who worked them being
protected by sheds of hide, thundered on all sides at the gates and walls.
Language fails to convey an idea of the energy, the fury, the madness of
the onset. The Roman army seemed as if but one being, with such equal
courage and contempt of danger and death was the dreadful work performed.
But the Queen's defences have again proved superior to all the power of
Aurelian. Her engines have dealt death and ruin in awful measure among the
assailants. The moat and the surrounding plain are filled and covered
with the bodies of the slain. As night came on after a long day of
uninterrupted conflict, the troops of Aurelian, baffled and defeated at
every point, withdrew to their tents, and left the city to repose.

The temples of the gods have resounded with songs of thanksgiving for
this new deliverance, garlands have been hung around their images, and
gifts laid upon their altars. Jews and Christians, Persians and
Egyptians, after the manner of their worship, have added their voices to
the general chorus.

Again there has been a pause. The Romans have rested after the late fierce
assault to recover strength, and the city has breathed free. Many are
filled with new courage and hope, and the discontented spirits are
silenced. The praises of Zenobia, next to those of the gods, fill every
mouth. The streets ring with songs composed in her honor.

       *       *       *       *       *

Another day of excited expectations and bitter disappointment.

It was early reported that forces were seen approaching from the east, on
the very skirts of the plain, and that they could be no other than the
long-looked-for Persian army. Before its approach was indicated to those
upon the highest towers of the gates, by the clouds of dust hovering over
it, it was evident from the extraordinary commotion in the Roman
intrenchments, that somewhat unusual had taken place. Their scouts must
have brought in early intelligence of the advancing foe. Soon as the news
spread through the city the most extravagant demonstrations of joy broke
forth on all sides. Even the most moderate and sedate could not but give
way to expressions of heartfelt satisfaction. The multitudes poured to the
walls to witness a combat upon which the existence of the city seemed
suspended.

'Father,' said Fausta, after Gracchus had communicated the happy tidings,
'I cannot sit here--let us hasten to the towers of the Persian gate,
whence we may behold the encounter.'

'I will not oppose you,' replied Gracchus, 'but the sight may cost you
naught but tears and pain. Persia's good will, I fear, will not be much,
nor manifested by large contributions to our cause. If it be what I
suspect--but a paltry subdivision of her army, sent here rather to be cut
in pieces than aught else--it will but needlessly afflict and irritate.'

'Father, I would turn away from no evil that threatens Palmyra. Besides, I
should suffer more from imagined, than from real disaster. Let us hasten
to the walls.'

We flew to the Persian gate.

'But why,' asked Fausta, addressing Gracchus on the way, 'are you not more
elated? What suspicion do you entertain of Sapor? Will he not be sincerely
desirous to aid us?'

'I fear not,' replied Gracchus. 'If we are to be the conquering party in
this war, he will send such an army as would afterward make it plain that
he had intended an act of friendship, and done the duty of an ally. If we
are to be beaten, he will lose little in losing such an army, and will
easily, by placing the matter in certain lights, convince the Romans that
their interests had been consulted, rather than ours, We can expect no
act of true friendship from Sapor. Yet he dares not abandon us. Were
Hormisdas upon the throne, our prospects were brighter.'

'I pray the gods that ancient wretch may quickly perish then,' cried
Fausta, 'if such might be the consequences to us. Why is he suffered
longer to darken Persia and the earth with his cruel despotism!'

'His throne shakes beneath him,' replied Gracchus; 'a breath may
throw it down.'

As we issued forth upon the walls, and then mounted to the battlements of
the highest tower, whence the eye took in the environs of the city, and
even the farthest verge of the plain, and overlooked, like one's own
court-yard, the camp and intrenchments of the Romans--we beheld with
distinctness the Persian forces within less than two Roman miles. They had
halted and formed, and there apparently awaited the enemy.

No sooner had Gracchus surveyed well the scene, than he exclaimed, 'The
gods be praised! I have done Sapor injustice. Yonder forces are such as
may well call forth all the strength of the Roman army. In that case there
will be much for us to do. I must descend and to the post of duty.'

So saying he left us.

'I suppose,' said Fausta, 'in case the enemy be such as to draw off the
larger part of the Roman army, sorties will be made from the gates upon
their camp?'

'Yes,' I rejoined; 'if the Romans should suffer themselves to be drawn to
a distance, and their forces divided, a great chance would fall into the
hands of the city. But that they will not do. You perceive the Romans
move not, but keep their station just where they are. They will oblige the
Persians to commence the assault upon them in their present position, or
there will be no battle.'

'I perceive their policy now,' said Fausta. 'And the battle being fought
so near the walls, they are still as strongly beleaguered as ever--at
least half their strength seems to remain within their intrenchments. See,
see! the Persian army is on the march. It moves toward the city. Now again
it halts.'

'It hopes to entice Aurelian from his position, so as to put power into
our hands. But they will fail in their object.'

'Yes, I fear they will,' replied Fausta. 'The Romans remain fixed as
statues in their place.'

'Is it not plain to you, Fausta,' said I, 'that the Persians conceive not
the full strength of the Roman army? Your eye can now measure their
respective forces.'

'It is too plain, alas!' said Fausta. 'If the Persians should defeat the
army now formed, there is another within the trenches to be defeated
afterwards, Now they move again. Righteous gods, interpose in our behalf!'

At this moment indeed the whole Persian army put itself into quick and
decisive motion, as if determined to dare all--and achieve all for their
ally, if fate should so decree. It was a sight beautiful to behold, but of
an interest too painful almost to be endured. The very existence of a city
and an empire seemed to hang upon its issues; and here, looking on and
awaiting the decisive moment, was as it were the empire itself assembled
upon the walls of its capital, with which, if it should fall, the kingdom
would also fall, and the same ruin cover both. The Queen herself was there
to animate and encourage by her presence, not only the hearts of all
around, but even the distant forces of the Persians, who, from their
position, might easily behold the whole extent of the walls and towers,
covered with an innumerable multitude of the besieged inhabitants, who, by
waving their hands, and by every conceivable demonstration, gave them to
feel more deeply than they could otherwise have done, how much was
depending upon their skill and bravery.

Soon after the last movement of the Persians, the light troops of either
army encountered, and by a discharge of arrows and javelins, commenced the
attack. Then in a few moments, it being apparently impossible to restrain
the impatient soldiery, the battle became general. The cry of the onset
and the clash of arms fell distinctly upon our ears. Long, long, were the
opposing armies mingled together in one undistinguishable mass, waging an
equal fight. Now it would sway toward the one side, and now toward the
other, heaving and bending as a field of ripe grain to the fitful breeze.
Fausta sat with clenched hands and straining eye, watching the doubtful
fight, and waiting the issue in speechless agony. A deep silence, as of
night and death, held the whole swarming multitude of the citizens, who
hardly seemed as if they dared breathe while what seemed the final scene
was in the act of being performed.

Suddenly a new scene, and more terrific because nearer, burst upon our
sight. At a signal given by Zenobia from the high tower which she
occupied, the gates below us flew open, and Zabdas, at the head of all the
flower of the Palmyra cavalry, poured forth, followed closely from this
and the other gates by the infantry. The battle now raged between the
walls and the Roman intrenchments as well as beyond. The whole plain was
one field of battle and slaughter. Despair lent vigor and swiftness to the
horse and foot of Palmyra; rage at the long continued contest, revenge for
all they had lost and endured, nerved the Roman arm, and gave a double
edge to its sword. Never before, my Curtius, had I beheld a fight in which
every blow seemed so to carry with it the whole soul, boiling with wrath,
of him who gave it. Death sat upon every arm.

'Lucius!' cried Fausta, I started, for it had been long that she had
uttered not a word.

'Lucius! unless my eye grows dim and lies, which the gods grant, the
Persians! look! they give way--is it not so? Immortal gods, forsake not
my country!'

'The battle may yet turn,' I said, turning my eyes where she pointed, and
seeing it was so--'despair not, dear Fausta. If the Persians yield--see,
Zabdas has mounted the Roman intrenchments.'

'Yes--they fly,' screamed Fausta, and would madly have sprung over the
battlements, but that I seized and held her. At the same moment a cry
arose that Zabdas was slain--her eye caught his noble form as it fell
backwards from his horse, and with a faint exclamation, 'Palmyra is lost!'
fell lifeless into my arms.

While I devoted myself to her recovery, cries of distress and despair
fell from all quarters upon my ear. And when I had succeeded in restoring
her to consciousness, the fate of the day was decided--the Persians were
routed--the Palmyrenes were hurrying in wild confusion before the pursuing
Romans, and pressing into the gates.

'Lucius,' said Fausta, 'I am sorry for this weakness. But to sit as it
were chained here, the witness of such disaster, is too much for mere
mortal force. Could I but have mingled in that fight! Ah, how cruel the
slaughter of those flying troops! Why do they not turn, and at least die
with their faces toward the enemy? Let us now go and seek Calpurnius and
Gracchus.'

'We cannot yet, Fausta, for the streets are thronged with this flying
multitude.'

'It is hard to remain here, the ears rent, and the heart torn by these
shrieks of the wounded and dying. How horrible this tumult! It seems as if
the world were expiring. There--the gates are swinging upon their hinges;
they are shut. Let us descend.'

We forced our way as well as we could through the streets, crowded now
with soldiers and citizens--the soldiers scattered and in disorder, the
citizens weeping and alarmed--some hardly able to drag along themselves,
others sinking beneath the weight of the wounded whom they bore upon their
shoulders, or upon lances and shields as upon a litter. The way was all
along obstructed by the bodies of men and horses who had there fallen and
died, their wounds allowing them to proceed no further, or who had been
run down and trampled to death in the tumult and hurry of the entrance.

After a long and weary struggle, we reached the house of Gracchus--still
solitary--for neither he nor Calpurnius had returned. The slaves gathered
around us to know the certainty and extent of the evil. When they had
learned it, their sorrow for their mistress, whom they loved for her own
sake, and whom they saw overwhelmed with grief, made them almost forget
that they only were suffering these things who had inflicted a worse
injury upon themselves. I could not but admire a virtue which seemed of
double lustre from the circumstances in which it was manifested.

Calpurnius had been in the thickest of the fight, but had escaped unhurt.
He was near Zabdas when he fell, and revenged his death by hewing down the
soldier who had pierced him with his lance.

'Zabdas,' said Calpurnius, when in the evening we recalled the sad events
of the day, 'was not instantly killed by the thrust of the spear, but
falling backwards from his horse, found strength and life enough remaining
to raise himself upon his knee, and cheer me on, as I flew to revenge his
death upon the retreating Roman. As I returned to him, having completed my
task, he had sunk upon the ground, but was still living, and his eye
bright with its wonted fire. I raised him in my arms, and lifting him upon
my horse, moved toward the gate, intending to bring him within the walls.
But he presently entreated me to desist.'

'"I die," said he; "it is all in vain, noble Piso. Lay me at the root of
this tree, and that shall be my bed and its shaft my monument."

'I took him from the horse as he desired.'

'"Place me," said he, "with my back against the tree, and my face toward
the intrenchments, that while I live I may see the battle. Piso, tell the
Queen that to the last hour I am true to her. It has been my glory in life
to live but for her, and my death is a happiness, dying for her. Her image
swims before me now, and over her hovers a winged victory. The Romans
fly--I knew it would be so--the dogs cannot stand before the cavalry of
Palmyra--they never could--they fled at Antioch. Hark!--there are the
shouts of triumph--bring me my horse--Zenobia! live and reign forever!"

'With these words and in this happy delusion, his head fell upon his
bosom, and he died. I returned to the conflict; but it had become a rout,
and I was borne along with the rushing throng toward the gates.'

After a night of repose and quiet, there has come another day of
adversity. The hopes of the city have again been raised, only again to be
disappointed. The joyful cry was heard from the walls in the morning, that
the Saracens and Armenians with united forces were in the field. Coming so
soon upon the fatiguing duty of the last day, and the Roman army not
having received reinforcements from the West, it was believed that the
enemy could not sustain another onset as fierce as that of the Persians. I
hastened once more to the walls--Fausta being compelled by Gracchus to
remain within the palace--to witness as I believed another battle.

The report I found true. The allied forces of those nations were in
sight--the Romans were already drawn from their encampment to encounter
them. The same policy was pursued on their part as before. They awaited
the approach of the new enemy just on the outer side of their works. The
walls and towers as far as the eye could reach were again swarming with
the population of Palmyra.

For a long time neither army seemed disposed to move.

'They seem not very ready to try the fortune of another day,' said a
citizen to me standing by my side. 'Nor do I wonder. The Persians gave
them rough handling. A few thousands more on their side, and the event
would not have been as it was. Think you not the sally under Zabdas was
too long deferred?'

'It is easy afterward,' I replied, 'to say how an action should have been
performed. It requires the knowledge and wisdom of a god never to err.
There were different judgments I know, but for myself I believe the Queen
was right; that is, whether Zabdas had left the gates earlier or later,
the event would have been the same.'

'What means that?' suddenly exclaimed my companion; 'see you yonder herald
bearing a flag of truce, and proceeding from the Roman ranks? It bodes no
good to Palmyra. What think you the purpose is?'

'It may be but to ask a forbearance of arms for a few hours, or a day
perhaps. Yet it is not the custom of Rome. I cannot guess.'

'That can I,' exclaimed another citizen on my other side. 'Neither in the
Armenians nor yet the Saracens can so much trust be reposed as in a
Christian or a Jew. They are for the strongest. Think you they have come
to fight? Not if they can treat to better purpose. The Romans, who know
by heart the people of the whole earth, know them. Mark me, they will draw
never a sword. As the chances are now, they will judge the Romans winners,
and a little gold will buy them.'

'The gods forbid,' cried the other, 'that it should be so; they are the
last hope of Palmyra. If they fail us, we must e'en throw open our gates,
and take our fate at the mercy of Aurelian.'

'Never while I have an arm that can wield a sword, shall a gate of Palmyra
swing upon its hinge to let in an enemy.'

'Food already grows short,' said the first; 'better yield than starve.'

'Thou, friend, art in no danger for many a day, if, as is fabled of
certain animals, thou canst live on thine own fat. Or if it came to
extremities, thou wouldst make a capital stew or roast for others.'

At which the surrounding crowd laughed heartily, while the fat man,
turning pale, slunk away and disappeared.

'That man,' said one, 'would betray a city for a full meal.'

'I know him well,' said another; 'he is the earliest at the markets, where
you may always see him feeling out with his fat finger the parts of meats
that are kindred to himself. His soul, could it be seen, would be of the
form of a fat kidney. His riches he values only as they can be changed
into food. Were all Palmyra starved, he, were he sought, would be found in
some deep-down vault, bedded in the choicest meats--enough to stand a
year's siege, and leave his paunch as far about as 't is to-day. See, the
Queen betrays anxiety. The gods shield her from harm!'

Zenobia occupied the same post of observation as before. She paced to and
fro with a hasty and troubled step the narrow summit of the tower, where
she had placed herself.

After no long-interval of time, the Roman herald was seen returning from
the camp of the Armenians. Again he sallied forth from the tent of
Aurelian, on the same errand. It was too clear now that negotiations were
going on which might end fatally for Palmyra. Doubt, fear, anxiety,
intense expectation kept the multitude around me in breathless silence,
standing at fixed gaze, like so many figures of stone.

They stood not long in this deep and agonizing suspense; for no sooner did
the Roman herald reach the tents of the allied armies, and hold brief
parley with their chiefs, than he again turned toward the Roman
intrenchments at a quick pace, and at the same moment the tents of the
other party were struck, and while a part commenced a retreat, another and
larger part moved as auxiliaries to join the camp of Aurelian.

Cries of indignation, rage, grief and despair, then burst from the
miserable crowds, as with slow and melancholy steps they turned from the
walls to seek again their homes. Zenobia was seen once to clasp her hands,
turning her face toward the heavens. As she emerged from the tower and
ascended her chariot, the enthusiastic throngs failed not to testify their
unshaken confidence and determined spirit of devotion to her and her
throne, by acclamations that seemed to shake the very walls themselves.

This last has proved a heavier blow to Palmyra than the former. It shows
that their cause is regarded by the neighboring powers as a losing one, or
already lost and that hope, so far as it rested upon their friendly
interposition, must be abandoned. The city is silent and sad. Almost all
the forms of industry having ceased, the inhabitants are doubly wretched
through their necessary idleness; they can do little but sit and brood
over their present deprivations, and utter their dark bodings touching the
future. They who obtained their subsistence by ministering to the
pleasures of others, are now the first to suffer; for there are none to
employ their services. Streets, which but a little while ago resounded
with notes of music and the loud laughter of those who lived to pleasure,
are now dull and deserted. The brilliant shops are closed, the fountains
forsaken, the Porticos solitary, or they are frequented by a few who
resort to them chiefly to while away some of the melancholy hours that
hang upon their hands. And they who are abroad seem not like the same
people. Their step is now measured and slow--the head bent--no salutation
greets the passing stranger or acquaintance, or only a few cold words of
inquiry, which pass from cold lips into ears as cold.
Apathy--lethargy--stupor--seem fast settling over all. They would indeed
bury all, I believe, were it not that the parties of the discontented
increase in number and power, which compels the friends of the Queen to
keep upon the alert. The question of surrender is now openly discussed.
'It is useless,' it is said, 'to hold out longer. Better make the best
terms we can. If we save the city by an early capitulation from
destruction, coming off with our lives and a portion of our goods, it
is more than we shall get if the act be much longer postponed. Every
day of delay adds to our weakness, while it adds also to the vexation
and rage of the enemy, who the more and longer he suffers, will be
less inclined to treat us with indulgence.'

These may be said to have reason on their side, but the other party are
inflamed with national pride and devotion to Zenobia, and no power of
earth is sufficient to bend them. They are the principal party for
numbers; much more for rank and political power. They will hold out till
the very last moment--till it is reduced to a choice between death and
capitulation; and, on the part of the Queen and the great spirits of
Palmyra, death would be their unhesitating choice, were it not for the
destruction of so many with them. They will therefore, until the last
loaf of bread is divided, keep the gates shut; then throw them open, and
meet the terms, whatever they may be, which the power of the conqueror
may impose.

A formidable conspiracy has been detected, and the supposed chiefs of it
seized and executed.

The design was to secure the person of the Queen, obtain by a violent
assault one of the gates, and sallying out, deliver her into the hands of
the Romans, who, with her in their power, could immediately put an end to
the contest. There is little doubt that Antiochus was privy to it,
although those who suffered betrayed him not, if that were the fact. But
it has been urged with some force in his favor, that none who suffered
would have felt regard enough for him to have hesitated to sacrifice him,
if by doing so they could have saved their own lives or others.

Zenobia displayed her usual dauntless courage, her clemency, and her
severity. The attack was made upon her, surrounded by her small
body-guard, as she was returning toward evening from her customary visit
of observation to the walls. It was sudden, violent, desperate; but the
loyalty and bravery of the guards was more than a match for the assassins,
aided too by the powerful arm of the Queen herself, who was no idle
spectator of the fray. It was a well-laid plot, and but for an accidental
addition which was made at the walls to the Queen's guard, might have
succeeded; for the attack was made just at the Persian gate, and the
keeper of the gate had been gained over. Had the guard been overpowered
but for a moment, they would have shot the gate too quickly for the
citizens to have roused to her rescue. Such of the conspirators as were
not slain upon the spot were secured. Upon examination, they denied the
participation of others than themselves in the attempt, and died, such of
them as were executed, involving none in their ruin. The Queen would not
permit a general slaughter of them, though urged to do so. 'The ends of
justice and the safety of the city,' she said, 'would be sufficiently
secured, if an example were made of such as seemed manifestly the chief
movers. But there should be no indulgence of the spirit of revenge.' Those
accordingly were beheaded, the others imprisoned.

While these long and weary days are passing away, Gracchus, Fausta,
Calpurnius and myself are often at the palace of Zenobia. The Queen is
gracious, as she ever is, but laboring under an anxiety and an inward
sorrow, that imprint themselves deeply upon her countenance, and reveal
themselves in a greater reserve of manner. While she is not engaged in
some active service she is buried in thought, and seems like one revolving
difficult and perplexing questions. Sometimes she breaks from these
moments of reverie with some sudden question to one or another of those
around her, from which we can obscurely conjecture the subjects of her
meditations. With Longinus, Otho, and Gracchus she passes many of her
hours in deep deliberation. At times, when apparently nature cries out for
relief, she will join us as we sit diverting our minds by conversation
upon subjects as far removed as possible from the present distresses, and
will, as formerly, shed the light of her penetrating judgment upon
whatever it is we discuss. But she soon falls back into herself again, and
remains silent and abstracted, or leaves us and retreats to her private
apartments.

       *       *       *       *       *

Suddenly the Queen has announced a project which fills the city with
astonishment at its boldness, and once more lights up hope within the
bosoms of the most desponding.

Soon as her own mind had conceived and matured it, her friends and
counsellors were summoned to receive it from her, and pronounce their
judgment. Would that I could set before you, my Curtius, this wonderful
woman as she stood before us at this interview. Never before did she seem
so great, or of such transcendent beauty--if under such circumstances such
a thought may be expressed. Whatever of melancholy had for so long a time
shed its gloom over her features was now gone. The native fire of her eye
was restored and doubled, as it seemed, by the thoughts which she was
waiting to express. A spirit greater than even her own, appeared to
animate her, and to breathe an unwonted majesty into her form, and over
the countenance.

She greeted all with the warmth of a friend, and besought them to hear her
while she presented a view of the present condition of their affairs, and
then proposed what she could not but believe might still prove a means of
final deliverance--at least, it might deserve their careful consideration.
After having gone over the course that had been pursued and defended it,
as that alone which became the dignity and honor of a sovereign and
independent power, she proceeded thus:

'We are now, it is obvious to all, at the last extremity. If no new outlet
be opened from the difficulties which environ us, a few days will
determine our fate. We must open our gates and take such mercy as our
conquerors may bestow. The provision laid up in the public granaries is
nearly exhausted. Already has it been found necessary greatly to diminish
the amount of the daily distribution. Hope in any power of our own seems
utterly extinct: if any remain, it rests upon foreign interposition, and
of this I do not despair. I still rely upon Persia. I look with confidence
to Sapor for farther and yet larger succors. In the former instance, it
was apprehended by many--I confess I shared the apprehension--that there
would be on the part of Persia but a parade of friendship, with nothing of
reality. But you well know it was far otherwise. There was a sincere and
vigorous demonstration in our behalf. Persia never fought a better field,
and with slightly larger numbers would have accomplished our rescue. My
proposition is, that we sue again at the court of Sapor--no, not again,
for the first was a free-will offering--and that we fail not, I would go
myself my own ambassador, and solicit what so solicited, my life upon it,
will not be refused. You well know that I can bear with me jewels gathered
during a long reign of such value as to plead eloquently in my cause,
since the tithe of them would well repay the Persian for all his kingdom
might suffer for our sakes.'

'What you propose, great Queen,' said Longinus, as Zenobia paused, 'agrees
with your whole life. But how can we, who hold you as we do, sit in our
places and allow you alone to encounter the dangers of such an enterprise?
For without danger it cannot be--from the robber of the desert, from the
Roman, from the Persian.' In disguise and upon the road, you may suffer
the common fate of those who travel where, as now, marauders of all
nations swarm; Sapor may, in his capricious policy, detain you prisoner;
Aurelian may intercept. Let your servants prevail with you to dismiss this
thought from your mind. You can name no one of all this company who will
not plead to be your substitute.'

There was not one present who did not spring upon his feet, and express
his readiness to undertake the charge.

'I thank you all,' said the Queen, 'but claim, in this perhaps the last
act of my reign, to be set free in your indulgence to hold an unobstructed
course. If in your honest judgments you confess that of all who could
appear at the court of Sapor, I should appear there as the most powerful
pleader for Palmyra, it is all I ask you to determine. Is such your
judgment?'

'It is,' they all responded--'without doubt it is.'

'Then am I resolved. And the enterprise itself you judge wise and of
probable success?'

'We do. The reasons are just upon which it is founded. It is greatly
conceived, and the gods giving you safe conduct to Sapor, we cannot doubt
a happy result.'

'Then all that remains is, to contrive the manner of escape from the city
and through the Roman camp.'

'There is first one thing more,' said the Princess Julia, suddenly rising
from her mother's side, but with a forced and trembling courage, 'which
remains for me to do. If there appear any want of maidenly reserve in what
I say, let the cause, good friends, for which I speak and act, be my
excuse. It is well known to you who are familiar with the councils of the
state, that not many months past Persia sought through me an alliance with
Palmyra. But in me, you, my mother and Queen, have hitherto found an
uncomplying daughter--and you, Fathers, a self-willed Princess. I now seek
what before I have shunned. Although I know not the Prince
Hormisdas--report speaks worthily of him--but of him I think not--yet if
by the offer of myself I could now help the cause of my country, the
victim is ready for the altar. Let Zenobia bear with her not only the
stones torn from her crown, but this which she so often has termed her
living jewel, and if the others, first proffered, fail to reach the
Persian's heart, then, but not till then, add the other to the scale. If
it weigh to buy deliverance and prosperity to Palmyra--though I can never
be happy--yet I shall be happy if the cause of happiness to you.'

'My noble child!' said Zenobia, 'I cannot have so startled the chiefs of
Palmyra by a new and unthought-of project, as I am now amazed in my turn.
I dreamed not of this. But I cannot hinder you in your purpose. It ensures
success to your country; and to be the instrument of that, will be a rich
compensation for even the largest sacrifice of private affections.'

The counsellors and senators who were present expressed a great, and I
doubt not sincere unwillingness that so dangerous a service should be
undertaken by those whom they so loved, and whom beyond all others they
would shield with their lives from the very shadow of harm. But they were
overcome by the determined spirit both of the Queen and Julia, and by
their own secret conviction that it was the only act in the power of
mortals by which the existence of the empire and city could be preserved.

At this point of the interview, Calpurnius, whom we had missed, entered,
and learning what had passed, announced that by a channel not to be
mistrusted, he had received intelligence of a sudden rising in Persia, of
the assassination of Sapor, and the elevation of Hormisdas to the throne
of his father. This imparted to all the liveliest pleasure, and seemed to
take away from the project of the Queen every remaining source of
disquietude and doubt. Calpurnius at the same moment was besought, and
offered himself to serve as the Queen's companion and guide. The chosen
friend of Hormisdas, and whose friendship he had not forfeited by his
flight--no one could so well as he advocate her cause with the new king.

'But how is it,' inquired Longinus, 'that you obtain foreign intelligence,
the city thus beset?'

'It may well be asked,' replied Calpurnius. 'It is through the
intelligence and cunning of a Jew well known in Palmyra, and throughout
the world I believe, called Isaac. By him was I rescued from Persian
captivity, and through him have I received letters thence, ever since
the city has been besieged. He is acquainted with a subterranean
passage--in the time of Trajan, he has informed me, a public conduit,
but long since much choked and dry--by which one may pass from the city
under and beyond the lines of the Roman intrenchments, emerging into a
deep ravine or fissure, grown thickly over with vines and olives. Once
it was of size sufficient to admit an elephant with his rider; now, he
says, has it become so obstructed, and in some places so fallen in, that
it is with difficulty that a dromedary of but the common size can force
his way through.'

'Through this then the Queen may effect her escape,' said Longinus.

'With perfect ease and security,' rejoined Calpurnius. 'At the
outlet, Isaac shall be in waiting with the fleetest dromedaries of
the royal stables.'

'We are satisfied,' said Longinus; 'let it be as you say. The gods prosper
the pious service!'

So ended the conversation.

Of the ancient aqueduct or conduit, you have already heard from me; it
is the same by which Isaac has transmitted my late letters to
Portia--which I trust you have received and read. To Portia alone--be
not offended--do I pour out my whole soul. From her learn more of what
relates to the Princess.

I returned from the palace of Zenobia overwhelmed with a thousand painful
sensations. But this I need not say.

Fausta, upon learning the determination of the Queen, which had been
communicated not even to her, exclaimed--'There, Lucius, I have always
told you Palmyra brought forth women! Where in the wide world shall
two be found to match Zenobia and Julia? But when is the time fixed
for the flight?'

'To-morrow night.'

'I will to the palace. These may be the last hours permitted by the gods
to our friendship. I must not lose one of them.'

I went not there again.

Late on the evening of the following day Fausta returned--her countenance
betraying what she had suffered in parting from those two, her bosom
friends. It was long ere she could possess herself so far as to give to
Gracchus and myself a narrative of what had occurred. To do it, asked but
few words.

'We have passed the time,' she said at length, 'as you might suppose those
would about to be separated--forever; yes, I feel that I have seen them
for the last time. It is like a conviction inspired by the gods. We did
naught till the hour of attiring for the flight arrived, but sit, look
upon each other, embrace, and weep. Not that Zenobia, always great, lost
the true command of herself, or omitted aught that should be done; but
that she was a woman, and a mother, and a friend, as well as a Queen and a
divinity. But I can say no more.'

'Yet one thing,' she suddenly resumed; 'alas! I had well nigh forgotten
it--it should have been said first. What think you? the Indian slave,
Sindarina, was to accompany the Queen, but at the hour of departure she
was missing. Her chamber was empty--the Arabian disguise, in which all
were to be arrayed, lying on her bed--she herself to be found neither
there nor any where within the palace. Another of the Queen's women was
chosen in her place. What make you of it?'

'Treason!--treachery!' cried Gracchus, and springing from his seat,
shouted for a horse.

'The gods forgive me,' cried the afflicted Gracchus, 'that this has been
forgotten! Why, why did I not lay to heart the hints which you dropped!'

'In very truth,' I replied, 'they were almost too slight to build even a
suspicion upon. The Queen heeded them not--and I myself had dismissed them
from my mind not less than yourself.'

'Not a moment is to be lost,' said Gracchus; 'the slave must be found, and
all whom we suspect seized.'

The night was passed in laborious search, both of the slave and Antiochus.
The whole city was abroad in a common cause. All the loose companions of
Antiochus and the young princes were taken and imprisoned; the suspected
leaders in the affair, after a scrutinizing search and public
proclamation, could not be found. The inference was clear, agonizing as
clear, that the Queen's flight had been betrayed.

Another day has revealed the whole. Isaac, who acted as guide through the
conduit, and was to serve in the same capacity till the party were secure
within a Persian fortress, not far from the banks of the Euphrates, has,
by a messenger, a servant of the palace, found means to convey a relation
of what befel after leaving Palmyra.

'Soon,' he says, 'as the shades of evening fell, the Queen, the Princess
Julia, Nichomachus, a slave, and Calpurnius, arrayed in the garb of Arabs
of the desert, together with a guard of ten soldiers, selected for their
bravery and strength, met by different routes at the mouth of the old
conduit. So noble a company had I never before the charge of. Thou
wouldst never have guessed the Queen through the veil of her outlandish
garment. She became it well. Not one was more a man than she. For the
Princess, a dull eye would have seen through her. Entering a little way
in utter darkness, I then bid them stand while I lighted torches. The
Queen was near me the while, and asked me the length of the passage, and
whether the walls were of that thickness as to prevent the voice from
being heard above.

'"Till we reach one particular spot, where the arch is partly fallen in,"
I said, "we may use our tongues as freely and as loud as we please; at
that place there will be need of special caution, as it is directly
beneath the Roman intrenchments. Of our approach thereto I will give
timely warning."

'I took occasion to say, that I was sorry the Queen of Palmyra should be
compelled to pass through so gloomy a cavern, but doubtless he who was
with Deborah and Judith would not forsake her who was so fast a friend to
his people, and who, if rumor might be believed, was even herself one of
them. This, Roman, you will doubtless think bold; but how could one who
was full refrain? I even added, "Fear not; he who watches over Judah and
Israel, will not fail to appear for one by whose arm their glories are to
be restored." The Queen at that smiled, and if a countenance may be read,
which I hold it can, as well as a book, it spoke favorable things for
Jerusalem.

'When our torches were kindled, we went on our way; a narrow way and dark.
We went in silence too, for I quickly discerned that minds and hearts were
too busy with themselves and their own sorrows and fears to choose to be
disturbed. Ah, Roman, how many times harder the lot of the high than the
low! When we drew nigh to the fissure in the arch, the torches were again
extinguished, and we proceeded at a snail's pace and with a hyena's foot
while we were passing within a few feet of the then, as I doubted not,
sleeping Romans. As we came beneath the broken and open part, I was
startled by the sound of voices. Soldiers were above conversing. As we
paused through apprehension, a few words were distinctly heard.

'"The times will not bear it," muttered one. "'Tis a vain attempt."

'"His severity is cruel," said another. "Gods! when before was it heard
of, that a soldier, and such a one, for what every one does whom chance
favors, should be torn limb from limb? The trees that wrenched Stilcho
asunder, ere they grow too stiff, may serve a turn on 'Hand-to-his-Sword'
himself. He will fatten on these starved citizens when he climbs over
their walls."

'"O no, by Jupiter!" said the first, "it is far likelier he will let them
off, as he did at Tyana, and we lose our sport. It is his own soldiers'
blood he loves."

'"He may yet learn," replied the other, "that soldiers wear weapons for
one purpose as well as another. Hark! what noise was that?"

'"It was but some rat at work within this old arch, Come, let us to bed."

'They moved away, and we, breathing again, passed along, and soon
re-lighted our torches.

'After walking a weary distance from this point, and encountering many
obstacles, we at length reached the long-desired termination. The
dromedaries were in readiness, and mounting them without delay, we
ascended the steep sides of the ravine, and then at a rapid pace sought
the open plains. When they were attained, I considered that we were out of
all danger from the Romans, and had only to apprehend the ordinary dangers
of this route during a time of war, when freebooters of all the
neighboring tribes are apt to abound. "Here," I said to the Queen, "we
will put our animals to their utmost speed, as the way is plain and
smooth--having regard only," I added, "to your and the Princess's
strength."--"On, on, in the name of the gods!" said they both; "we can
follow as fast as you shall lead." And on we flew with the speed of the
wind. The Queen's animals were like spirits of the air, with such amazing
fleetness and sureness of foot did they shoot over the surface of the
earth. The way was wholly our own. We met none; we saw none. Thrice we
paused to relieve those not accustomed to such speed, or to the peculiar
motion of this animal. But at each resting place, the Queen with
impatience hastened us away, saying, that "rest could be better had at
once when we had crossed the river; and once upon the other bank, and we
were safe."

'The first flush of morning was upon the sky as we came within sight of
the valley of the Euphrates. The river was itself seen faintly gleaming as
we wound down the side of a gentle hill. The country here was broken, as
it had been for many of the last miles we had rode--divided by low ridges,
deep ravines, and stretches of wood and bush. So that to those approaching
the banks in the same general direction, many distinct paths offered
themselves. It was here, O Piso, just as we reached the foot of this
little hill, riding more slowly by reason of the winding road, that my
quick ear caught at a distance the sounds of other hoofs upon the ground
beside our own. My heart sank within me--a sudden faintness spread over my
limbs. But at the instant I gave the alarm to our troop, and at greatest
risk of life and limb we put our beasts to their extreme speed, and dashed
toward the river. I still, as we rode, turning my ear in the direction of
the sound, heard with distinctness the clatter of horses' hoofs. Our
beasts were dromedaries; in that lay my hope. Two boats awaited us among
the rushes on the river's bank, in the keeping of those who had been sent
forward for that purpose; and off against them, upon the other side of the
stream, lay a small Persian village and fortress. Once off in the boats
but ever so short a distance, and we were safe. On we flew, and on I was
each moment conscious came pursuers, whoever they might be. We reached
the river's edge.--"Quick! for your lives," I cried. "The Queen, the
Princess, and four men in this boat; the packages in the other." In a
moment and less than that, we were in our boat, a troop of horse at the
same instant sweeping like a blast of the desert down the bank of the
river. We shot into the stream; but ere the other could gain the water,
the Romans, as we now too plainly saw them to be, were upon them. A brief
but desperate strife ensued. The Romans were five for one of the others,
and quickly putting them to the sword, sprang into their boat.

'"Pull! pull!" cried the Queen, the first words she had uttered, "for your
lives and Palmyra!" They gained upon us. We had six oars, they eight. But
the strength of three seemed to nerve the arm of Calpurnius.

'"Immortal gods!" cried he, in inexpressible agony, "they near us!" and
straining with redoubled energy his oar snapped, and the boat whirled from
her course.

'"All is lost!" ejaculated Zenobia.

'A Roman voice was now heard, "Yield you, and your lives are safe."

'"Never," cried Calpurnius, and as the Roman boat struck against ours, he
raised his broken oar, and aiming at him who had spoken, lost his balance
and plunged headlong into the stream,

'"Save him--save him!" cried the Queen, but they heeded her not. "It is
vain to contend," she cried out again; "we yield, but save the life of him
who has fallen."

'The light was yet not sufficient to see but to a little distance.
Nothing was visible upon the smooth surface of the water, nor any
sound heard.

'"His own rash fury has destroyed him," said the Roman, who we now could
discern bore the rank of Centurion.

'"We seek," said he, turning toward where the Queen sat, "we seek Zenobia,
Queen of Palmyra."

'"I am Zenobia," said the Queen.

'"The gods be praised therefor!" rejoined the Centurion. "Our commands are
to bear you to the tent of Aurelian."

'"Do with me as you list," replied the Queen; "I am in your power."

'"To the shore," exclaimed the Roman; and our boat, fastened to the
other, was soon at the place whence but a moment before it had parted.

'"Who are these?" asked the Centurion, as we reached the shore, pointing
to the Princess, and the attendant slave and secretary. "Our orders extend
only to the person of the Queen."

'"Divide them not," I said, willing to spare the Queen the bandying of
words with a Roman soldier, "they are of the Queen's family. They are a
part of herself. If thou takest one take all to thy Emperor."

'"So be it; and now to your horses, and once more over the plain. It shall
go hard, but that what we carry with us will make our fortune with
Aurelian."

'Saying this, the whole troop formed, placing Zenobia and Julia in the
midst, and winding up the banks of the river disappeared.

'Such, O unhappy Piso, was this disastrous night. Surely all was done on
our part to secure a successful issue. I can discern no defect nor fault.
We could not have been more fleet. Swifter beasts never trod the sands of
Arabia. What then? Hath there not been, think you, foul play? Whence got
the Romans knowledge, not only of our flight, but of the very spot for
which we aimed? I doubt not there has been treachery--and that too of the
very color of hell. Look to it, and let not the guilty go free.

'One word touching thy brother. Despond not. I cannot think that he is
lost. We were but a furlong from the shore. My belief is, that seeing the
capture of the Queen was certain, and that to him, if taken with her in
arms against his country, death was inevitable, he, when he fell, rose
again at a safe distance, and will yet be found.

'These things I send in haste by a returning servant of the palace, I
remaining both to secure the dromedaries now wandering at will along the
banks of the river, and to search diligently for Calpurnius, whom I trust
to bear back with me to Palmyra.'

Here, my Curtius, was food for meditation and grief--the renowned Queen of
this brilliant capital and kingdom, so late filling a throne that drew the
admiration of the world, sitting there in a proud magnificence that cast
into shade Persia itself, is in one short night shorn of all her power; a
captive at the mercy of a cruel foe; Julia also a captive; my brother, so
late redeemed--as I cannot but suppose--dead. I need not nor can I tell
you with what emotions I read the fatal letter. The same messenger who
delivered it to me had spread through the city the news of the Queen's
captivity. What related to Calpurnius I determined to conceal from Fausta,
since it was at least possible that by communicating it I might cause a
useless suffering.

Fausta, upon learning the horrors of the night, which she first did from
the outcries and lamentations in the streets, seemed more like one dead
than alive. She could not weep; the evil was too great for tears. And
there being no other way in which to give vent to the grief that wrung her
soul in every feeling and affection, I trembled lest reason should be
hurled from its seat. She wandered from room to room, her face of the hue
of death--but indicating life enough in its intense expression of inward
pain--and speechless, save that at intervals in a low tone, 'Zenobia!
Palmyra!' fell from her scarcely moving lips. To Gracchus and myself
essaying to divert her from thoughts that seemed to prey upon her very
life, she said, 'Leave me to wrestle alone with my grief; it is the way to
strength. I do not doubt that I shall find it.'

'She is right,' said Gracchus; 'to overcome she must fight her own battle.
Our aid but ministers to her weakness.'

It was not long before she rejoined us, tears having brought relief to her
over-burdened heart.

Her first inquiry now was for Calpurnius. 'I have feared to ask, for if he
too is captive, I know that he is lost. Now I can hear and bear all. How
is it, Lucius?'

I answered, that 'he was not a captive, so much was known; but where he
now was, or what had befallen him, was not known. I had reason to
believe that he would find his way back through the guidance of Isaac to
the city.'

'Alas! I read in your words his fate. But I will not urge you farther. I
will live upon all the hope I can keep alive. Yet it is not the death of
Calpurnius--nor yet of Zenobia--nor Julia--that wrings the soul and saps
its life, like this bitter, bitter disappointment, this base treason of
Antiochus. To be so near the summit of our best hopes, only to be cast
down into this deep abyss--that is the sting in our calamity that shoots
deepest, and for which there is no cure. Is there no other way, father, in
which we can explain the capture of the Queen? Accident--could it not be
accident that threw the troop of Aurelian in their way?'

'I fear not,' said Gracchus. 'When we add what rumor has heretofore
reported of the aims of Antiochus, but which we have all too much
contemned him to believe him capable of, to what has now occurred, I think
we cannot doubt that he is the author of the evil, seducing into his plot
the Queen's slave, through whom he received intelligence of every plan and
movement.'

'Ah, cruel treachery! How can one join together the sweet innocent face
of Sindarina and such deep hypocrisy! Antiochus surely must have
perverted her by magic arts. Of that I am sure. But what fruit can
Antiochus hope his treason shall bear for him? Can he think that Palmyra
will endure his rule?'

'That,' replied Gracchus, 'must be his hope. The party of the
discontented we well know to be large; upon them he thinks he may rely.
Then his treason recommending him to Aurelian, he builds upon his power
to establish him on the throne, and sustain him there till his own
strength shall have grown, so that he can stand alone. That the city will
surrender upon the news of the Queen's captivity, he doubtless calculates
upon as certain.'

'May his every hope,' cried Fausta, 'be blasted, and a little of the
misery he has poured without stint into our hearts wring his own, and when
he cries for mercy, may he find none!'

'One hope,' I said here, 'if I know aught of the nature of Aurelian, and
upon which he must chiefly found his project, will sink under him to his
shame and ruin.'

'What mean you?' said Fausta eagerly.

'His belief that Aurelian will reward baseness though to an enemy. He
never did it yet, and he cannot do it. Were there within the thick skull
of Antiochus the brains of a foolish ostrich, he would have read in the
fate of Heraclammon, the rich traitor of Tyana, his own. If I err not, he
has indiscreetly enough thrust himself into a lion's den. If Aurelian is
fierce, his is the grand and terrific ferocity of the king of beasts.'

'May it be so!' said Fausta. 'There were no providence in the gods did
such villany escape punishment, still less, did it grow great. But if
Aurelian is such as you describe him, O then is there not reason in the
belief that he will do gently by her? Were it compatible with greatness or
generosity--and these, you say, belong to the Emperor--to take revenge
upon an enemy, thrown by such means into his power? and such an enemy? and
that too a woman? Julia too! O immortal gods, how bitter past drinking is
this cup!'

'Yet must you, must we, not lean too confidently upon the dispositions of
Aurelian. He is subject, though supreme, to the state, nay, and in some
sense to the army; and what he might gladly do of his own free and
generous nature, policy and the contrary wishes and sometimes requisitions
of his troops, or of the people, compel him to forbear. The usage of Rome
toward captive princes has been, and is, cruel. Yet the Emperor does much
to modify it, giving it, according to his own temper, a more or less
savage character. And Aurelian has displayed great independence in his
acts, both of people and soldiers. There is much ground for hope--but it
must not pass into confident expectation.'

'You, Lucius, in former days have known Aurelian well, before fortune
raised him to this high eminence. You say you were his friend. Could
you not--'

'No, I fear with scarce any hope of doing good. My residence here during
all these troubles will, I doubt not, raise suspicions in the mind of
Aurelian which it will not be easy to allay. But whenever I shall have it
in my power to present myself before him, I shall not fail to press upon
him arguments which, if he shall act freely, cannot I think but weigh
with him.'

'Ought not the city now,' said Fausta, addressing Gracchus, 'to surrender,
and, if it can do no better, throw itself upon the mercy of Aurelian? I
see not now what can be gained by longer resistance, and would not a still
protracted refusal to capitulate, and when it must be without the faintest
expectation of ultimate success, tend merely and with certainty to
exasperate Aurelian, and perhaps embitter him toward the Queen?'

'I can scarcely doubt that it would,' replied Gracchus. 'The city ought
to surrender. Soon as the first flood of grief has spent itself, must we
hasten to accomplish it if possible. Longinus, to whom will now be
entrusted the chief power, will advocate it I am sure--so will Otho,
Seleucus, Gabrayas; but the army will, I fear, be opposed to it, and will,
more through a certain pride of their order than from any principle,
incline to hold out.--It is time I sought Longinus.'

He departed in search of the Greek. I went forth into the streets to learn
the opinions and observe the behavior of the people.

       *       *       *       *       *

The shades of night are around me--the palace is still--the city sleeps.
I resume my pen to add a few words to this epistle, already long, but
they are words that convey so much that I cannot but add them for my own
pleasure not less than yours. They are in brief these,--Calpurnius is
alive and once again returned to us. The conjecture of Isaac was a
description of the truth. My brother, knowing well that if apprehended
his death were certain, had in the outset resolved, if attacked, rather
to provoke his death, and insure it in the violence of a conflict, than
be reserved for the axe of the Roman executioner. But in the short moment
in which he fell headlong into the river, it flashed across his
mind--'The darkness favors my escape--I can reach the shore;' so swimming
a short distance below the surface, falling down with the stream and
softly rising, concealed himself among the reeds upon the margin of the
stream. Finding the field in a short time wholly in possession of Isaac,
he revealed himself and joined him, returning to the city as soon as the
darkness of the night permitted. Here is a little gleam of light breaking
through Fausta's almost solid gloom. A smile has once more played over
her features.

In the evening after Calpurnius's return, she tried her harp, but the
sounds it gave out only seemed to increase her sorrow, and she threw
it from her.

'Music,' said Gracchus, 'is in its nature melancholy, and how, my child,
can you think to forget or stifle grief by waking the strings of your
harp, whose tones, of all other instruments, are the most melancholy? And
yet sometimes sadness seeks sadness, and finds in it its best relief. But
now, Fausta? rather let sleep be your minister and nurse.'

So we parted. Farewell.



Letter XV.



It were a vain endeavor, my Curtius, to attempt to describe the fever of
indignation, and rage, and grief, that burned in the bosoms of this
unhappy people, as soon as it was known that their Queen was a captive in
the hands of the Romans. Those imprisoned upon suspicion of having been
concerned in her betrayal would have been torn from their confinement, and
sacrificed to the wrath of the citizens, in the first hours of their
excitement, but for the formidable guard by which the prisons were
defended. The whole population seemed to be in the streets and public
places, giving and receiving with eagerness such intelligence as could be
obtained. Their affliction is such as it would be had each one lost a
parent or a friend. The men rave, or sit, or wander about listless and
sad; the women weep; children catch the infection, and lament as for the
greatest misfortune that could have overtaken them. The soldiers, at first
dumb with amazement at so unlooked-for and unaccountable a catastrophe,
afterward, upon learning that it fell out through the treason of
Antiochus, bound themselves by oaths never to acknowledge or submit to his
authority, though Aurelian himself should impose him upon them, nay, to
sacrifice him to the violated honor of the empire, if ever he should fall
into their power.

Yet all are not such. The numbers are not contemptible of those who,
openly or secretly, favor the cause and approve the act of Antiochus. He
has not committed so great a crime without some prospect of advantage from
it, nor without the assurance that a large party of the citizens, though
not the largest, is with him, and will adhere to his fortunes. These are
they, who think, and justly think, that the Queen has sacrificed the
country to her insane ambition and pride. They cleave to Antiochus, not
from personal regard toward him, but because he seems more available for
their present purposes than any other, principally through his fool-hardy
ambition; and, on the other hand, they abandon the Queen, not for want of
personal affection, equal perhaps to what exists in any others, but
because they conceive that the power of Rome is too mighty to contend
with, and that their best interests rather than any extravagant notions of
national honor, ought to prompt their measures.

The city will now give itself up, it is probable, upon the first summons
of Aurelian. The council and the senate have determined that to hold out
longer than a few days more is impossible. The provisions of the public
granaries are exhausted, and the people are already beginning to be
pinched with hunger. The rich, and all who have been enabled to subsist
upon their own stores, are now engaged in distributing what remains among
the poorer sort, who are now thrown upon their compassion. May it not be,
that I am to be a witness of a people dying of hunger! Gracchus and Fausta
are busily employed in relieving the wants of the suffering.

We have waited impatiently to hear the fate of the Queen. Many reports
have prevailed, founded upon what has been observed from the walls. At one
time, it has been said that she had perished under the hands of the
executioner--at another, that the whole Roman camp had been seen to be
thrown into wild tumult, and that she had doubtless fallen a sacrifice to
the ungovernable fury of the licentious soldiery, I cannot think either
report probable. Aurelian, if he revenged himself by her death, would
reserve her for execution on the day of his triumph. But he would never
tarnish his glory by such an act. And for the soldiers--I am sure of
nothing more than that they are under too rigid a discipline, and hold
Aurelian in too great terror, to dare to commit a violence like that which
has been imputed to them.

At length--for hours are months in such suspense--we are relieved. Letters
have come from Nichomachus to both Longinus and Livia,

First, their sum is, the Queen lives!

I shall give you what I gather from them.

'When we had parted,' writes the secretary, 'from the river's edge, we
were led at a rapid pace over the same path we had just come, to the
neighborhood of the Roman camp. I learned from what I overheard of the
conversation of the Centurion with his companion at his side, that the
flight of the Queen had been betrayed. But beyond that, nothing.

'We were taken not at once to the presence of Aurelian, but lodged in one
of the abandoned palaces in the outskirts of the city--that of Seleucus,
if I err not--where? the Queen being assigned the apartments needful for
her and her effects, a guard was set around the building.

'Here we had remained not long, yet long enough for the Queen to exchange
her disguise for her usual robes, when it was announced by the Centurion
that we must proceed to the tent of the Emperor. The Queen and the
Princess were placed in a close litter, and conveyed secretly there, out
of fear of the soldiers, "who," said the Centurion, "if made aware of whom
we carry, would in their rage tear to fragments and scatter to the winds
both the litter and its burden."

'We were in this manner borne through the camp to the tent of Aurelian. As
we entered, the Emperor stood at its upper end, surrounded by the chief
persons of his army. He advanced to meet the Queen, and in his changing
countenance and disturbed manner might it be plainly seen how even an
Emperor, and he the Emperor of the world, felt the presence of a majesty
such as Zenobia's. And never did our great mistress seem more a Queen than
now--not through that commanding pride which, when upon her throne, has
impressed all who have approached her with a feeling of inferiority, but
through a certain dark and solemn grandeur that struck with awe, as of
some superior being, those who looked upon her. There was no sign of grief
upon her countenance, but many of a deep and rooted sadness, such as might
never pass away. No one could behold her and not lament the fortune that
had brought her to such a pass. Whoever had thought to enjoy the triumph
of exulting over the royal captive, was rebuked by that air of calm
dignity and profound melancholy, which even against the will, touched the
hearts of all, and forced their homage.

'"It is a happy day for Rome," said Aurelian, approaching and saluting
her, "that sees you, lately Queen of Palmyra and of the East, a captive in
the tent of Aurelian."

'"And a dark one for my afflicted country," replied the Queen.

'"It might have been darker," rejoined the emperor, "had not the good
providence of the gods delivered you into my hands."

'"The gods preside not over treachery. And it must have been by treason
among those in whom I have placed my most familiar trust, that I am now
where and what I am. I can but darkly surmise by whose baseness the act
has been committed. It had been a nobler triumph to you, Roman, and a
lighter fall to me, had the field of battle decided the fate of my
kingdom, and led me a prisoner to your tent."

'"Doubtless it had been so," replied Aurelian; "yet was it for me to cast
away what chance threw into my power? A war is now happily ended, which,
had your boat reached the further bank of the Euphrates, might yet have
raged--and but to the mutual harm of two great nations. Yet it was both a
bold and sagacious device, and agrees well with what was done by you at
Antioch, Emesa, and now in the defence of your city, A more determined, a
better appointed, or more desperate foe, I have never yet contended with."

'"It were strange, indeed," replied the Queen, "if you met not with a
determined foe, when life and liberty were to be defended. Had not
treason, base and accursed treason, given me up like a chained slave to
your power, yonder walls must have first been beaten piecemeal down by
your engines, and buried me beneath their ruins, and famine clutched all
whom the sword had spared, ere we had owned you master. What is life, when
liberty and independence are gone?"

'"But why, let me ask," said Aurelian? "were you moved to assert an
independency of Rome? How many peaceful and prosperous years have
rolled on since Trajan and the Antonines, while you and Rome were at
harmony; a part of us and yet independent; allies rather than a subject
province; using our power for your defence; yet owning no allegiance.
Why was this order disturbed? What madness ruled to turn you against
the power of Rome?"

'"The same madness," replied Zenobia, "that tells Aurelian he may yet
possess the whole world, and sends him here into the far East to wage
needless war with a woman--Ambition! Yet had Aurelian always been upon the
Roman throne, or one resembling him, it had perhaps been different. There
then could have been naught but honor in any alliance that had bound
together Rome and Palmyra. But was I, was the late renowned Odenatus, to
confess allegiance to base souls such as Aureolus, Gallienus, Balista?
While the thirty tyrants were fighting for the Roman crown, was I to sit
still, waiting humbly to become the passive prey of whosoever might please
to call me his? By the immortal gods, not so! I asserted my supremacy, and
made it felt; and in times of tumult and confusion to Rome, while her
Eastern provinces were one scene of discord and civil broil, I came in and
reduced the jarring elements, and out of parts broken and sundered, and
hostile, constructed a fair and well-proportioned whole. And when once
created, and I had tasted the sweets of sovereign and despotic power--what
they are thou knowest--was I tamely to yield the whole at the word or
threat even of Aurelian? It could not be. So many years as had passed and
seen me Queen, not of Palmyra only, but of the East--a sovereign honored
and courted at Rome, feared by Persia, my alliance sought by all the
neighboring dominions of Asia--had served but to foster in me that love of
rule which descended to me from a long line of kings. Sprung from a royal
line, and so long upon a throne, it was superior force alone--divine or
human--that should drag me from my right. Thou hast been but four years
king, Aurelian, monarch of the great Roman world, yet wouldst thou not,
but with painful unwillingness, descend and mingle with the common herd.
For me, ceasing to reign, I would cease to live."

'"Thy speech," said Aurelian, "shows thee well worthy to reign. It is no
treason to Rome, Carus, to lament that the fates have cast down from a
throne? one who filled its seat so well. Hadst thou hearkened to the
message of Petronius, thou mightest still, lady, have sat upon thy native
seat. The crown of Palmyra might still have girt thy brow."

'"But not of the East," rejoined the Queen.

'"Fight against ambition, Carus! thou seest how, by aiming at too much, it
loses all. It is the bane of humanity. When I am dead, may ambition then
die, nor rise again."

'"May it be so," replied his general; "it has greatly cursed the world.
It were better perhaps that it died now."

'"It cannot," replied Aurelian; "its life is too strong. I lament too,
great Queen, for so I may well call thee, that upon an ancient defender of
our Roman honor, upon her who revenged Rome upon the insolent Persian,
this heavy fate should fall. I would willingly have met for the first time
in a different way the brave conqueror of Sapor, the avenger of the wrongs
and insults of the virtuous Valerian. The debt of Rome to Zenobia is
great, and shall yet, in some sort at least, be paid. Curses upon those
who moved thee to this war. They have brought this calamity upon thee,
Queen, not I, nor thou. What ill designing aspirants have urged thee on?
This is not a woman's war."

'"Was not that a woman's war," replied the Queen, "that drove the Goths
from upper Asia? Was not that a woman's war that hemmed Sapor in his
capital, and seized his camp? and that which beat Heraclianus, and gained
thereby Syria and Mesopotamia? and that which worsted Probus, and so won
the crown of Egypt? Does it ask for more, to be beaten by Romans, than to
conquer these? Rest assured, great prince, that the war was mine. My
people were indeed with me, but it was I who roused, fired, and led them
on. I had indeed great advisers. Their names are known throughout the
world. Why should I name the renowned Longinus, the princely Gracchus, the
invincible Zabdas, the honest Otho? Their names are honored in Rome as
well as here. They have been with me; but without lying or vanity, I may
say I have been their head."

'"Be it so; nevertheless, thy services shall be remembered. But let us
now to the affairs before us. The city has not surrendered--though thy
captivity is known, the gates still are shut. A word from thee would
open them."

'"It is a word I cannot speak," replied the Queen; her countenance
expressing now, instead of sorrow, indignation. "Wouldst thou that I too
should turn traitor?"

'"It surely would not be that," replied the Emperor. "It can avail naught
to contend further--it can but end in a wider destruction, both of your
people and my soldiers."

'"Longinus, I may suppose," said Zenobia, "is now supreme. Let the Emperor
address him, and what is right will be done."

'Aurelian turned, and held a brief conversation with some of his officers.

'"Within the walls," said the Emperor, again addressing the Queen, "thou
hast sons. Is it not so?"

'"It is not they," said the Queen quickly, her countenance growing pale,
"it is not they, nor either of them, who have conspired against me!"

'"No--not quite so. Yet he who betrayed thee calls himself of thy family.
Thy sons surely were not in league with him. Soldiers," cried the Emperor,
"lead forth the great Antiochus, and his slave."

'At his name, the Queen started--the Princess uttered a faint cry, and
seemed as if she would have fallen.

'A fold of the tent was drawn aside, and the huge form of Antiochus
appeared, followed by the Queen's slave, her head bent down and eyes cast
upon the ground. If a look could have killed, the first glance of
Zenobia, so full of a withering contempt, would have destroyed her base
kinsman. He heeded it but so much as to blush and turn away his face from
her. Upon Sindarina the Queen gazed with a look of deepest sorrow. The
beautiful slave stood there where she entered, not lifting her head, but
her bosom rising and falling with some great emotion--conscious, as it
seemed, that the Queen's look was fastened upon her, and fearing to meet
it. But it was so only for a moment, when raising her head, and revealing
a countenance swollen with grief, she rushed toward the Queen, and threw
herself at her feet, embracing them, and covering them with kisses. Her
deep sobs took away all power of speech. The Queen only said, "My poor
Sindarina!"

'The stern voice of Aurelian was first heard, "Bear her away--bear her
from the tent."

'A guard seized her, and forcibly separating her from Zenobia, bore her
weeping away.

'"This," said Aurelian, turning now to Zenobia, "this is thy kinsman, as
he tells me--the Prince Antiochus?"

'The Queen replied not.

'"He has done Rome a great service." Antiochus raised his head, and
straightened his stooping shoulders, "He has the merit of ending a
weary and disastrous war. It is a rare fortune to fall to any one. 'Tis
a work to grow great upon. Yet, Prince," turning to Antiochus, "the
work is not complete. The city yet holds out. If I am to reward thee
with the sovereign power, as thou sayest, thou must open the gates.
Canst thou do it?"

'"Great Prince," replied the base spirit eagerly, "it is provided for.
Allow me but a few moments, and a place proper for it, and the gates I
warrant shall quickly swing upon their hinges."

'"Ah! do you say so? That is well. What, I pray, is the process?"

'"At a signal which I shall make, noble Prince, and which has been agreed
upon, every head of every one of the Queen's party rolls in the
dust--Longinus, Gracchus, and his daughter, Seleucus, Gabrayas, and a host
more--their heads fall. The gates are then to be thrown open."

'"Noble Palmyrene, you have the thanks of all. Of the city then we are at
length secure. For this, thou wouldst have the rule of it under Rome,
wielding a sceptre in the name of the Roman Senate, and paying tribute as
a subject province? Is it not so?"

'"It is. That is what I would have, and would do, most excellent
Aurelian."

'"Who are thy associates in this? Are the Queen's sons, Herennianus,
Timolaus, Vabalathus, of thy side, and partners in this enterprise?"

'"They are not privy to the design to deliver up to thy great power the
Queen their mother; but they are my friends, and most surely do I count
upon their support. As I shall return king of Palmyra, they will gladly
share my power."

'"But if friends of thine, they are enemies of mine," rejoined Aurelian,
in terrific tones; "they are seeds of future trouble; they may sprout up
into kings also, to Rome's annoyance. They must be crushed. Dost thou
understand me?"

'"I do, great Prince. Leave them to me. I will do for them. But to say the
truth they are too weak to disturb any--friends or enemies."

'"Escape not so. They must die." roared Aurelian.

'"They shall--they shall," ejaculated the alarmed Antiochus; "soon as I am
within the walls their heads shall be sent to thee."

'"That now is as I would have it. One thing more thou hast asked--that
the fair slave who accompanies thee be spared to thee, to be thy Queen."

'"It was her desire--hers, noble Aurelian, not mine."

'"But didst thou not engage to her as much?"

'"Truly I did. But among princes such words are but politic ones: that
is well understood. Kings marry for the state. I would be higher
matched;" and the sensual demon cast his eyes significantly towards the
Princess Julia.

'"Am I understood?" continued Antiochus, Aurelian making no response. "The
Princess Julia I would raise to the throne." The monster seemed to dilate
to twice his common size, as his mind fed upon the opening glories.

'Aurelian had turned from him, looking first at his Roman attendants,
then at the Queen and Julia--his countenance kindling with some
swelling passion.

'"Do I understand thee?" he then said. "I understand thee to say that for
the bestowment of the favors and honors thou hast named, thou wilt do the
things thou hast now specifically promised? Is it not so?"

'"It is, gracious king."

'"Dost thou swear it?"

'"I swear it by the great God of Light!"

'The countenance of the Emperor now grew black with as it seemed mingled
fury and contempt. Antiochus started, and his cheek paled. A little light
reached his thick brain.

'"Romans," cried Aurelian, "pardon me for so abusing your ears! And you,
our royal captives! I knew not that such baseness lived--still less that
it was here. Thou foul stigma upon humanity! Why opens not the earth under
thee, but that it loathes and rejects thee! Is a Roman like thee, dost
thou think, to reward thy unheard-of treacheries? Thou knowest no more
what a Roman is, than what truth and honor are. Soldiers! seize yonder
miscreant, write traitor on his back, and spurn him forth the camp. His
form and his soul both offend alike. Hence, monster!"

'Antiochus was like one thunderstruck. Trembling in every joint, he sought
to appeal to the Emperor's mercy, but the guard stopped his mouth, and
dragged him from the tent. His shrieks pierced the air as the soldiers
scourged him beyond the encampment.

'"It was not for me," said Aurelian, as these ceased to be heard, "to
refuse what fate threw into my hands. Though I despise the traitorous
informer, I could not shut my ear to the facts he revealed, without myself
betraying the interests of Rome. But, believe me, it was information I
would willingly have spared, My infamy were as his to have rewarded the
traitor. Fear not, great Queen; I pledge the word of a Roman and an
Emperor for thy safety. Thou art safe both from Roman and Palmyrene."

'"What I have but now been witness of," replied the Queen, "assures me
that in the magnanimity of Aurelian I may securely rest."

'"As the Queen uttered these words, a sound as of a distant tumult, and
the uproar of a multitude, caught the ears of all within the tent.

'"What mean these tumultuous cries?" inquired Aurelian of his attending
guard. "They increase and approach."

'"It may be but the soldiers at their game with Antiochus," replied
Probus.

'But it was not so. At the moment a Centurion, breathless, and with his
head bare, rushed madly into the tent.

'"Speak," said the Emperor, "what is it?"

'"The legions!" said the Centurion, as soon as he could command his words,
"the legions are advancing, crying out for the Queen of Palmyra! They have
broken from their camp and their leaders, and in one mixed body come to
surround the Emperor's tent."

'"As he ended, the fierce cries of the enraged soldiery were distinctly
heard, like the roaring of a forest torn by a tempest. Aurelian, baring
his sword, and calling upon his friends to do the same, sprang toward
the entrance of the tent. They were met by the dense throng of the
soldiers, who now pressed against the tent, and whose savage yells now
could be heard,--

'"The head of Zenobia."--"Deliver the Queen to our will."--"Throw out
the head of Zenobia, and we will return to our quarters."--"She
belongs to us."

'At the same moment the sides of the tent were thrown up, showing the
whole plain filled with the heaving multitude, and being itself instantly
crowded with the ringleaders and their more desperate associates. Zenobia,
supporting the Princess, who clung to her, and pale through a just
apprehension of every horror, but otherwise firm and undaunted, cried out
to Aurelian, "Save us, O Emperor, from this foul butchery!"

'"We will die else!" replied the Emperor; who with the word, sprang upon a
soldier making toward the Queen, and with a blow clove him to the earth.
Then swinging round him that sword which had drunk the blood of thousands,
and followed by the gigantic Sandarion, by Probus, and Carus, a space
around the Queen was soon cleared.

'"Back, ruffians," cried Aurelian, in a voice of thunder, "for you are no
longer Romans! back to the borders of the tent. There I will hear your
complaints." The soldiers fell back, and their ferocious cries ceased.

'"Now," cried the Emperor, addressing them, "what is your will, that thus
in wild disorder you throng my tent?"

'One from the crowd replied--"Our will is that the Queen of Palmyra be
delivered to us as our right, instantly. Thousands and thousands of our
bold companions lie buried upon these accursed plains, slain by her and
her fiery engines. We demand her life. It is but justice, and faint
justice too."

'"Her life!"--"Her life!"--arose in one shout from the innumerable
throng.

'The Emperor raised his hand, waving his sword dropping with the blood of
the slain soldier; the noise subsided; and his voice, clear and loud like
the tone of a trumpet, went to the farthest bounds of the multitude.

'"Soldiers," he cried, "you ask for justice; and justice you shall
have."--"Aurelian is ever just!" cried many voices.--"But you shall not
have the life of the Queen of Palmyra."--He paused; a low murmur went
through the crowd.--"Or you must first take the life of your Emperor, and
of these who stand with him."--The soldiers were silent.--"In asking the
life of Zenobia," he continued, "you know not what you ask. Are any here
who went with Valerian to the Persian war?" A few voices responded, "I was
there,--and I,--and I."--"Are there any here whose parents, or brothers,
or friends fell into the tiger clutches of the barbarian Sapor, and died
miserably in hopeless captivity?"--Many voices every where throughout the
crowd were heard in reply, "Yes, yes,--Mine were there, and mine."--"Did
you ever hear it said," continued Aurelian, "that Rome lifted a finger for
their rescue, or for that of the good Valerian?"--They were silent, some
crying, "No, no."--"Know then, that when Rome forgot her brave soldiers
and her Emperor, Zenobia remembered and avenged them; and Rome fallen into
contempt with the Persian, was raised to her ancient renown by the arms of
her ally, the brave Zenobia, and her dominions throughout the East saved
from the grasp of Sapor only by her valor. While Gallienus wallowed in
sensuality and forgot Rome, and even his own great father, the Queen of
Palmyra stood forth, and with her royal husband, the noble Odenatus, was
in truth the savior of the empire. And is it her life you would have? Were
that a just return? Were that Roman magnanimity? And grant that thousands
of your brave companions lie buried upon these plains: it is but the
fortune of war. Were they not slain in honorable fight, in the siege of a
city, for its defence unequalled in all the annals of war? Cannot Romans
honor courage and conduct, though in an enemy? But you ask for justice. I
have said you shall have justice. You shall. It is right that the heads
and advisers of this revolt, for such the senate deems it, should be cut
off. It is the ministers of princes who are the true devisers of a
nation's acts. These, when in our power, shall be yours. And now, who,
soldiers! stirred up this mutiny, bringing inexpiable shame upon our brave
legions? Who are the leaders of the tumult?"

'Enough were found to name them;

'"Firmus! Carinus! the Centurions Plancus! Tatius! Burrhus! Valens!
Crispinus!"

'"Guards! seize them and hew them down. Soldiers! to your tents." The
legions fell back as tumultuously as they had come together; the faster,
as the dying groans of the slaughtered ringleaders fell upon their ears.

'The tent of the Emperor was once more restored to order. After a brief
conversation, in which Aurelian expressed his shame for the occurrence of
such disorders in the presence of the Queen, the guard were commanded to
convey back to the palace of Seleucus, whence they had been taken, Zenobia
and the Princess.'

Such are the principal matters contained in the communications of
Nichomachus.

When the facts contained in them became known, the senate, the council,
the army, and the people, agreed in the belief, that the Queen's safety
and their own would now be best secured by an immediate capitulation.
Accordingly, heralds bearing letters from Longinus, in the name of the
council, proceeded to the Roman camp. No other terms could be obtained
than a verbal promise that the city, the walls, and the common people
should be spared; but the surrender, beyond that, must be unconditional.

Upon learning the terms prescribed by the conqueror, many were for further
resistance. 'The language of Aurelian,' they said, 'is ambiguous. He will
spare the city, walls, and common people. Are our senators and counsellors
to be sacrificed? Are they, who have borne the burden of the day, now to
be selected, as the only ones who are to suffer? It shall not be so.'

Generous sentiments like these were heard on all sides. But they were
answered and overcome, by Gracchus especially, and others. Said Gracchus
to the people, 'Doubtless punishment will be inflicted by Rome upon some.
Our resistance is termed by her, rebellion, revolt, conspiracy; the
leaders will be sought and punished. It is ever her course. But this is a
light evil compared with a wide-spread massacre of this whole population,
the destruction of these famous temples, the levelling of these proud
walls. Aurelian has said that these shall be spared. His word, though an
unwritten and informal one, may be trusted. My counsel is, that it be at
once accepted. What if a few grey heads among us are taken off? That will
not touch the existence or prosperity of Palmyra. You can spare them. Your
children will soon grow up to take our places, and fill them, I hope, with
a better wisdom.'

But such words only served at first the more to strengthen the people in
their resolution, that their rulers should not be the only sacrifice.
None were loved throughout the city more than Gracchus and Otho, none
revered like Longinus. It was a long and painful struggle between
affection and the convictions of reason before it ended, and the consent
of the people was obtained to deliver up the city to the mercy of
Aurelian. But it was obtained.

I was sitting with Fausta and Calpurnius, speaking of the things that had
happened, and of the conduct of the Queen, when Gracchus entered and
joined us, informing us that 'ambassadors were now gone to the camp of
Aurelian, clothed with authority to deliver up the city into his hands. So
that now the end has drawn on, and Palmyra ceases to exist.'

Fausta, although knowing that this must happen, and might at any
moment, could not hear the fatal words, announcing the death of her
country, as she deemed it, and quenching forever in darkness the bright
dreams upon which she had fed so long, without renewed grief. We were a
long time silent.

'Something yet remains,' at length Gracchus resumed, 'for us to resolve
upon and do. Before many hours have elapsed, a Roman army will fill the
streets of the city, perhaps our houses also, and a general plunder may
be commenced of all the valuables we possess. It will be useless to
conceal what it will be well enough known, from the manner in which we
live, must be beneath our roof. It will but expose our lives. Yet,
Fausta, your jewels, valued by you as gifts, and other things precious
for the same or a like reason, may easily be secreted, nor yet be missed
by the licensed robbers. See to this, my child; but except this there is
now naught to do concerning such affairs, but to sit still and observe
the general wreck. But there are other and weightier matters to be
decided upon, and that at once.'

'Concerning the care of ourselves, you mean?' said Fausta.

'I do,' replied Gracchus.

'I,' said Fausta, 'would remain here, where I am.'

'It is that which I wish,' replied her father. 'I commit you to the care
of Lucius. For Calpurnius, he must leave you, and as he would live, fly if
that yet be possible beyond the walls, or conceal himself within them.'

'Never!' said Calpurnius; 'I can do neither. I have never shunned a
danger--and I cannot.'

'Let pride and passion now,' said Gracchus, 'go fast asleep. We have no
occasion for them; they are out of place, dealing as we now do with stern
necessities. Your life will be especially sought by Aurelian; it is a life
that cannot be spared. Fausta needs you. In you she must find, or nowhere,
father, husband, friend. Lucius, when these troubles are over, will return
to Rome, and I shall be in the keeping of Aurelian. You must live; for
her sake, if not for your own.'

'For mine too, surely, if for hers,' replied Calpurnius.

'Father,' said Fausta, throwing her arms around him, 'why, why must you
fall into the hands of Aurelian? Why not, with Calpurnius, fly from these
now hated walls?'

'My daughter!' replied Gracchus, 'let not your love of me make you
forgetful of what I owe my own name and our country's. Am I not bound by
the words of Aurelian?--"He will spare the city and the common
people"--reserving for himself their rulers and advisers. Were they all to
fly or shrink into concealment, can we doubt that then the fury of the
fierce Roman would discharge itself upon the helpless people, and men,
women and children suffer in our stead? And shall I fly while the rest are
true to their trust?'

'The gods forbid!' sobbed Fausta.

'Now you are yourself again. Life is of little account with me. For you I
would willingly hold on upon it, though in any event my grasp would be
rapidly growing weaker and weaker; age would come and weaken and dissolve
it. But for myself, I can truly say, I survey the prospect of death with
indifference. Life is one step; death is another. I have taken the first,
I am as ready to take the second. But to preserve life, agreeable as I
have found it, by any sacrifice--'

'O, that were dying twice!' said Fausta; 'I know it.'

'Be thankful then that I shall die but once, and so dry your tears. Of
nothing am I more clear, than that if the loss of my head will bring
security to the city and the people, I can offer it to the executioner
with scarce a single regret. But let us leave this. But few hours remain
to do what is yet to be done.'

It was so indeed. Already the commotion in the streets indicated that the
entrance of the Roman army was each moment expected.

It was determined that Calpurnius should avail himself of the old conduit,
and fly beyond the walls. To this he consented, though with pain; and
bidding us farewell, departed. Fausta retired to fulfil the injunctions of
her father, while Gracchus employed himself in arranging a few papers, to
be entrusted to my keeping.

In the course of a few hours the gates of the city were thrown open, and
the army of the conqueror made its unobstructed entrance. Soon as the
walls were secured, the towers of the gates, and the arms of the Queen's
remaining forces, Aurelian himself approached, and by the Roman gate
passed into a city that had cost him so dear to gain. He rode through its
principal streets and squares, gazing with admiration at the magnificence
which every where met his view. As he arrived at the far-famed Temple of
the Sun, and was told to what deity it was dedicated, he bared his head,
flung himself from his horse, and on foot, followed by an innumerable
company of Romans, ascended its long flight of steps, and there within its
walls returned solemn thanks to the great God of Light, the protecting
deity of his house, for the success that had crowned his arms.

When this act of worship had been performed, and votive offerings had been
hung upon the columns of the temple, the Emperor came forth, and after
visiting and inspecting all that was beautiful and rare, made
proclamation of his will concerning the city and its inhabitants. This
was, that all gold and silver, precious stones, all pictures, statues, and
other works of art, were to be placed in the hands of the Romans, and that
all the members of the Queen's senate and council, with the nobility, were
to be delivered up as prisoners of war, together with certain specified
portions of the army. Beyond these requisitions, the persons and property
of the citizens were to be respected. No violence of any kind on the part
of the soldiers would be allowed, or pardoned if committed.

Immediately upon this, the Roman army was converted into a body of
laborers and artisans, employed in the construction of wains of every form
and size, for the transportation across the desert to the sea-coast, of
whatever would adorn the triumph of Aurelian, or add to the riches of the
great capital of the world. Vast numbers of elephants and camels were
collected from the city, and from all the neighboring territory, with
which to drag the huge and heavy loaded wagons through the deep sands and
over the rough and rocky plains of Syria. The palaces of the nobles and
the wealthy merchants have been stripped of every embellishment of art and
taste. The private and public gardens, the fountains, the porticos, have
each and all been robbed of every work, in either marble or brass, which
had the misfortune or the merit to have been wrought by artists of
distinguished names. The palaces of the Queen and of Longinus were objects
of especial curiosity and desire, and, as it were, their entire contents,
after being secured with utmost art from possibility of injury, have been
piled upon carriages prepared for them, ready for their journey toward
Rome. It was pitiful to look on and see this wide desolation of scenes,
that so little while ago had offered to the eye all that the most
cultivated taste could have required for its gratification. The citizens
stood around in groups, silent witnesses of the departing glories of their
city and nation.

But the sight saddest of all to behold, was that of the senators and
counsellors of Palmyra, led guarded from the city to the camp of Aurelian.
All along the streets through which they passed, the people stood in dumb
and motionless array, to testify in that expressive manner their affection
and their grief. Voices were indeed occasionally heard invoking the
blessings of the gods upon them, or imprecating curses upon the head of
the scourge Aurelian. Whenever Longinus and Gracchus appeared, their names
were uttered in the tones with which children would cry out to venerated
parents, whom they beheld for the last time; beheld borne away from them
by a power they could not resist to captivity or death. No fear of the
legion that surrounded them availed to repress or silence such testimonies
of regard. And if confidence was reposed in the Roman soldiery, that they
would not, because conquerors and the power was theirs, churlishly deny
them the freedom to relieve in that manner their over-burdened hearts, it
was not--happy was I, as a Roman, to witness it--misplaced. They resented
it not either by word or look or act, but moved on like so many statues in
mail, turning neither to the one hand nor the other, nor apparently so
much as hearing the reproaches which were by some lavished upon them and
their Emperor.

Livia, Faustula, and the other inmates of the palace have joined
Zenobia and Julia, by order of Aurelian, at the house of Seleucus. The
Cæsars, Herennianus and Timolaus, have fled or concealed themselves;
Vabalathus has surrendered himself, and has accompanied the princesses
to the Roman camp.

How desolate is the house of Gracchus, deprived of its princely
head!--especially as the mind cannot help running forward and conjecturing
the fate which awaits him. Fausta surrenders herself to her grief--loss of
country and of parent, at one and the same moment, is loss too great for
her to bear with fortitude. Her spirit, so alive to affection and every
generous sentiment, is almost broken by these sorrows and disappointments.
I did not witness the parting between her and Gracchus, and happy am I
that I did not. Her agony was in proportion to her love and her
sensibility. I have not met her since. She remains within her own
apartments, seen only by her favorite slaves. A double darkness spreads
around while Fausta too is withdrawn.

It appeared to me now, my Curtius, as if something might be done on my
part in behalf of Gracchus. According to the usages of Rome, the chief
persons among the prisoners, and who might be considered as the leaders of
the rebellion, I knew would die either at once, or at farthest, when
Aurelian should re-enter Rome as the conqueror of the East. I considered
that by reason of the growing severity of the Emperor toward all, friends
as well as foes--amounting, as many now deem, to cruelty--the danger to
Gracchus was extreme, beyond any power perhaps to avert. Yet I remembered,
at the same time, the generous traits in Aurelian's character; his
attachment toward old friends; his gratitude for services rendered him in
the early part of his life, while making his way up through the lower
posts of the army. It seemed to me that he was open to solicitation; that
he would not refuse to hear me--a friend--the son of Cneius Piso--with
what object soever I might present myself before him: and that,
consequently, there was from this quarter a ray of hope, however small,
for the father of our beloved Fausta.

Accordingly, so soon as the affairs at first calling for the entire
devotion of Aurelian were through, and I knew that his leisure would allow
of an interruption, I sought the Roman camp, and asked an audience of the
Emperor. It was immediately granted.

As I entered his tent, Aurelian was seated at a table holding in his hand
a parchment scroll, which he seemed intently considering. His stern
countenance lowered over it like a thunder-cloud. I stood there where I
had entered a few moments before he seemed aware of the presence of any
one. His eye then falling almost accidentally upon me, he suddenly rose,
and with the manner of his ancient friendship warmly greeted me.

'I am glad,' said he, 'to meet so true a Roman in these distant parts.'

'I am still a true Roman,' I replied, 'notwithstanding I have been, during
this siege, upon the side of the enemy.'

'I doubt it not. I am not ignorant of the causes that led you to
Palmyra, and have detained you there. Henceforward your Roman blood must
be held of the purest, for as I learn, and since I have seen can believe,
they are few who have come within the magic circle of the late Queen, who
have not lost their name and freedom--themselves fastening on the chains
of her service.'

'You have heard truly. Her court and camp are filled with those who at
first perhaps sought her capital, as visiters of curiosity or traffic, but
being once within the marvellous influence of her presence, have remained
there her friends or servants. She is irresistible.'

'And well nigh so in war too. In Rome they make themselves merry at my
expense, inasmuch as I have been warring thus with a woman--not a poet in
the garrets of the Via Coeli, but has entertained the city with his
couplets upon the invincible Aurelian, beset here in the East by an army
of women, who seem likely to subdue him by their needles or their charms.
Nay, the Senate looks on and laughs. By the immortal gods! they know not
of what they speak. Julius Cæsar himself, Piso, never displayed a better
genius than this woman. Twice have I saved my army but by stratagem. I
give the honor of those days to Zenobia. It belongs to her rather than to
me. Palmyra may well boast of Antioch and Emesa. Your brother did her good
service there. I trust, for your sake and for mine, he will not fall into
my hands.'

That dark and cruel frown, which marks Aurelian, grew above and
around his eyes.

'I never,' he continued, 'forgive a traitor to his country.'

'Yet,' I ventured to say, 'surely the circumstances of his captivity, and
long abandonment, may plead somewhat in extenuation of his fault.'

'Never. His crime is beyond the reach of pardon.'

Aurelian had evidently supposed that I came to seek favor for Calpurnius.
But this I had not intended to do, as Calpurnius had long ago resolved
never again to dwell within the walls of Rome, I then opened the subject
of my visit.

'I have come,' I said, 'not to seek the pardon of Calpurnius Piso. Such,
to my grief, is his hostility toward Rome, that he would neither seek nor
accept mercy at her hands. He has forsworn his country, and never
willingly will set foot within her borders. He dwells henceforward in
Asia. But there is another--'

'You would speak of Gracchus. It cannot be. Longinus excepted, he is the
first citizen of Palmyra. If the Queen be spared, these must suffer. It
is due to the army, and to justice, and to vengeance. The soldiers have
clamored for the blood of Zenobia, and it has been at no small cost that
her and her daughter's life have been redeemed. But I have sworn it,
they shall live; my blood shall flow before theirs. Zenobia has done
more for Rome than many an Emperor. Besides, I would that Rome should
see with her own eyes who it is has held even battle with Roman legions
so long, that they may judge me to have had a worthy antagonist. She
must grace my triumph.'

'I truly thank the gods,' I said, 'that it is so resolved! Fortune has
placed me, while in her dominions, near the Queen, and though a Roman,
I have come to love and revere her even like a Palmyrene. Would that
the like clemency might be shown toward Gracchus! There is no greatness
like mercy.'

'I may not, noble Piso, win glory to myself at the cost of Rome. On the
field of battle I and Rome win together. In pardoning her enemies fallen
into my power, I may indeed crown myself with the praise of magnanimity in
the eye of the world, while by the same act I wound my country. No
rebellion is quelled, till the heads that moved and guided it are
off--off. Who is ignorant that Longinus, that subtle Greek, has been the
master-spring in this great revolt? and hand and hand with him Gracchus?
Well should I deserve the gibes and sneers of the Roman mob, if I turned
my back upon the great work I have achieved, leaving behind me spirits
like these to brew fresh trouble. Nor, holding to this as it may seem to
you harsh decision, am I forgetful, Piso, of our former friendship; nor of
the helping hand often stretched out to do me service of Cneius Piso, your
great parent. I must trust in this to your generosity or justice, to
construe me aright. Fidelity to Rome must come before private friendship,
or even gratitude. Am I understood?'

'I think so.'

'Neither must you speak to me of Longinus the learned Greek--the
accomplished scholar--the great philosopher. He has thrown aside the
scholar and the philosopher in putting on the minister. He is to me known
only as the Queen's chief adviser; Palmyra's strength; the enemy of Rome.
As such he has been arrayed against me; as such he has fallen a prisoner
into my hands; as such he must feel the sword of the Roman executioner.
Gracchus--I would willingly for thy sake, Piso, spare him--the more, as I
hear thou art betrothed to his far-famed daughter, she who upon the fields
of Antioch and Emesa filled with amazement even Roman soldiers.'

To say that instead of me it was Calpurnius to whom she was betrothed,
would seem to have sealed the fate of Gracchus at the moment there was a
gleam of hope. I only said,

'She was the life of the Queen's army. She falls but little below her
great mistress.'

'I believe it. These women of Palmyra are the true wonder of the age.
When for the first time I found myself before Zenobia and her daughter,
it is no shame for me to confess that it was hard for the moment to
believe myself Aurelian and conqueror. I was ready to play the subject; I
scarce kept myself from an oriental prostration. Never, Piso, was such
beauty seen in Rome. Rome now has an Empress worthy of her--unless a
Roman Emperor may sue in vain. Think you not with me? You have seen the
Princess Julia?'

You can pity me, Curtius and Lucilia. I said only,

'I have. Her beauty is rare indeed, but by many, nay by most, her sister,
the Princess Livia, is esteemed before her.'

'Hah! Nay, but that cannot be. The world itself holds not another like the
elder Princess, much less the same household. He seemed as if he would
have added more, but his eye fell upon the scroll before him, and it
changed the current of his thoughts and the expression of his countenance,
which again grew dark as when I first entered the tent. He muttered over
as to himself the names of 'Gracchus,' 'Fausta,' 'the very life of their
cause,' 'the people's chief trust,' and other broken sentences of the same
kind. He then suddenly recommenced:

'Piso, I know not that even I have power to grant thy suit. I have saved,
with some hazard, the life of the Queen and her daughter; in doing it I
promised to the soldiers, in their place, the best blood of Palmyra, and
theirs it is by right. It will not be easy to wrest Gracchus from their
hands. It will bring danger to myself, to the Queen, and to the empire. It
may breed a fatal revolt. But, Piso, for the noble Portia's sake, the
living representative of Cneius Piso my early friend, for thine, and
chiefly for the reason that thou art affianced to the warlike daughter of
the princely Palmyrene--'

'Great Prince,' said I--for it was now my turn to speak,--'pardon me that
I break in upon your speech, but I cannot by a deception, however slight
and unintentional, purchase the life even of a friend.'

'To what does this tend?'

'It is not I who am affianced to the daughter of Gracchus, but Calpurnius
Piso my brother and the enemy of Rome. If my hope for Gracchus rests but
where you have placed it, it must be renounced. Rumor has dealt falsely
with you.'

'I am sorry for it. You know me, Piso, well enough to believe me--I am
sorry for it. That plea would have availed me more than any. Yet it is
right that he should die, It is the custom of war. The legions clamor for
his death--it has been promised--it is due to justice and revenge. Piso,
he must die!'

I however did not cease to importune. As Aurelian had spoken of Portia, I
too spoke of her, and refrained not from bringing freshly before his
memory the characters of both my parents, and especially the services of
my father. The Emperor was noways displeased, but on the contrary, as I
recurred to the early periods of his career, when he was a Centurion in
Germany, under tutelage to the experienced Cneius Piso, he himself took up
the story, and detained me long with the history of his life and actions,
while serving with and under my father--and then afterward when in Gaul,
in Africa, and in the East. Much curious narrative, the proper source of
history, I heard from the great actor himself, during this long interview.
It was terminated by the entrance of Sandarion, upon pressing business
with the Emperor, whereupon I withdrew, Gracchus not being again named,
but leaving his fate in the hands of the master of the world, and yet--how
often has it been so with our Emperors--the slave of his own soldiers. I
returned to the city.

The following day I again saw Fausta--now pale, melancholy and silent. I
told her of my interview with Aurelian, and of its doubtful issue. She
listened to me with a painful interest, as if wishing a favorable result,
yet not daring to hope. When I had ended, she said,

'You have done all, Lucius, that can be done, yet it avails little or
nothing. Would that Aurelian had thought women worthy his regard so much
as to have made me a prisoner too. I can now feel how little one may fear
death, dying in a certain cause. Palmyra is now dead, and I care no more
for life. And if Gracchus is to die too, how much rather would I die with
him, than live without him. And this is not as it may seem, infidelity to
Calpurnius. I love him better than I ever thought to have loved anything
beside Palmyra and Gracchus. But my love for these is from my infancy, and
is in reason stronger than the other. The gods make it so, not I. I love
Calpurnius with all that is left. When does the army depart?'

'To-morrow, as I learn. I shall follow it to Emesa, for it is there, so it
is reported, that the fate of the prisoners will be decided.'

'Do so, Lucius, and by bribery, cunning, or force, find your way to the
presence of Gracchus. Be not denied. Tell him--but no, you know what I
would say; I cannot--' and a passionate flood of tears came to her relief.

The preparations of the army are now completed. The city has been drained
of its wealth and its embellishments. Scarce anything is left but the
walls and buildings, which are uninjured, the lives and the industry of
the inhabitants. Sandarion is made Governor of the city and province,
with, as it seems to me, a very incompetent force to support his
authority. Yet the citizens are, as they have been since the day the
contest was decided, perfectly peaceable--nay, I rather should say, stupid
and lethargic. There appear to be on the part of Aurelian no apprehensions
of future disturbance.

I have stood upon the walls and watched till the last of the Romans has
disappeared beyond the horizon, Two days have been spent in getting into
motion and beyond the precincts of the city and suburbs, the army with its
innumerable wagons--its long trains of elephants, and camels, and horses.
Not only Palmyra, but the whole East, seems to have taken its departure
for the Mediterranean. For the carriages were hardly to be numbered which
have borne away for the Roman amphitheatres wild animals of every kind,
collected from every part of Asia, together with innumerable objects of
curiosity and works of art.



Letter XVI.



I write to you, Curtius, as from my last you were doubtless led to expect,
from Emesa, a Syrian town of some consequence, filled now to overflowing
with the Roman army. Here Aurelian reposes for a while, after the fatigues
of the march across the desert, and here justice is to be inflicted upon
the leaders of the late revolt, as by Rome it is termed.

The prisons are crowded with the great, and noble, and good, of Palmyra.
All those with whom I have for the last few months mingled so much, whose
hospitality I have shared, whose taste, accomplishments, and elegant
displays of wealth I have admired, are now here immured in dungeons, and
awaiting that death which their virtues, not their vices nor their crimes,
have drawn upon them. For I suppose it will be agreed, that if ever
mankind do that which claims the name and rank of virtue, it is when they
freely offer up their lives for their country, and for a cause which,
whatever may be their misjudgment in the case, they believe to be the
cause of liberty. Man is then greater in his disinterestedness, in the
spirit with which he renounces himself, and offers his neck to the axe of
the executioner, than he can be clothed in any robe of honor, or sitting
upon any throne of power. Which is greater in the present instance,
Longinus, Gracchus, Otho--or Aurelian--I cannot doubt for a moment;
although I fear that you, Curtius, were I to declare my opinion, would
hardly agree with me. Strange that such a sacrifice as this which is about
to be made, can be thought to be necessary! It is not necessary; nor can
Aurelian himself in his heart deem it so. It is a peace-offering to the
blood-thirsty legions, who, well do I know it--for I have been of
them--love no sight so well as the dying throes of an enemy. It is, I am
told, with an impatience hardly to be restrained within the bounds of
discipline, that they wait for the moment, when their eyes shall be
feasted with the flowing blood and headless trunks of the brave defenders
of Palmyra. I see that this is so, whenever I pass by a group of soldiers,
or through the camp. Their conversation seems to turn upon nothing else
than the vengeance due to them upon those who have thinned their ranks of
one half their numbers, and who, themselves shielded by their walls,
looked on and beheld in security the slaughter which they made. They cry
out for the blood of every Palmyrene brought across the desert. My hope
for Gracchus is small; not more, however, because of this clamor of the
legions, than on account of the stern and almost cruel nature of Aurelian
himself. He is himself a soldier. He is one of the legions. His sympathies
are with them, one of whom he so long has been, and from whom he sprang.
The gratifications which he remembers himself so often to have sought and
so dearly to have prized, he is willing to bestow upon those who he knows
feel as he once did. He may speak of his want of power to resist the will
of the soldiers; but I almost doubt his sincerity, since nothing can equal
the terror and reverence with which he is regarded throughout the army;
reverence for his genius, terror for his passions, which, when excited,
rage with the fury of a madman, and wreak themselves upon all upon whom
the least suspicion falls, though among his most trusted friends. To this
terror, as you well know, his bodily strength greatly adds.

It was my first office to seek the presence of Gracchus. I found, upon
inquiry, that both he and Longinus were confined in the same prison, and
in the charge of the same keeper. I did not believe that I should
experience difficulty in gaining admission to them, and I found it so.

Applying to the jailer for admittance to Gracchus the Palmyrene, I was
told that but few were allowed to see him, and such only whose names had
been given him. Upon giving him my name, he said that it was one which was
upon his list, and I might enter. 'Make the most of your time,' he added,
'for to-morrow is the day set for the general execution.'

'So soon?' I said.

'Aye,' he replied, 'and that is scarce soon enough to keep the soldiers
quiet. Since they have lost the Queen, they are suspicious lest the
others, or some of them, may escape too,--so that they are well guarded, I
warrant you.'

'Is the Queen,' I asked, 'under your guard, and within the same prison?'

'The Queen?' he rejoined, and lowering his tone added, 'she is far enough
from here. If others know it not, I know that she is well on her way to
Rome. She has let too much Roman blood for her safety within reach of
Roman swords, I can tell you--Aurelian notwithstanding. That butchery of
the Centurions did neither any good.'

'You say to-morrow is the day appointed for the execution?'

'So I said. But you will scarce believe it when you see the prisoners.
They seem rather as if they were for Rome upon a journey of pleasure, than
so soon for the axe. But walk in. And when you would be let out, make a
signal by drawing the cord which you will find within the inner ward.'

I passed in, and meeting another officer of the prison, was by him shown
the door that led to the cell of Gracchus, and the cord by which I was to
make the necessary signal.

I unbarred the door and entered. Gracchus, who was pacing to and fro in
his apartment, upon seeing who his visiter was, greeted me in his cordial,
cheerful way. His first inquiry was,

'Is Fausta well?'

'I left her well; well as her grief would allow her to be.'

'My room is narrow, Piso, but it offers two seats. Let us sit. This room
is not our hall in Palmyra, nor the banqueting room--this window is too
small--nay, it is in some sort but a crevice--and this ceiling is too
low--and these webs of the spider, the prisoner's friend, are not our
purple hangings--but it might all be worse. I am free of chains, I can
walk the length of my room and back again, and there is light enough from
our chink to see a friend's face by. Yet far as these things are from
worst, I trust not to be annoyed or comforted by them long. You have done
kindly, Piso, to seek me out thus remote from Palmyra, and death will be
lighter for your presence. I am glad to see you.'

'I could not, as you may easily suppose, remain in Palmyra, and you here
and thus. For Fausta's sake and my own, I must be here. Although I
should not speak a word, nor you, there is a happiness in being near and
in seeing.'

'There is. Confinement for a long period of time were robbed of much of
its horror, if there were near you but a single human countenance, and
that a stranger's, upon which you might look, especially if you might read
there pity and affection. Then if this countenance should be that of one
known and beloved, it would be almost like living in society, even though
speech were prohibited. Tyrants know this--these walls are the proof of
it. Aurelian is not a tyrant in this sense. He is not without magnanimity.
Are you here with his knowledge?'

'By his express provision. The jailer had been furnished with my name. You
are right surely, touching the character of Aurelian. Though rude and
unlettered, and severe almost to cruelty, there are generous sentiments
within which shed a softening light, if inconstant, upon the darker
traits. I would conceal nothing from you, Gracchus; as I would do nothing
without your approbation. I know your indifference to life. I know that
you would not purchase a day by any unworthy concession, by any doubtful
act or word. Relying with some confidence upon the generosity of
Aurelian--'

'Why, Lucius, so hesitating and indirect? You would say that you have
appealed to Aurelian for my life--and that hope is not extinct in your
mind of escape from this appointed death.'

'That is what I would say. The Emperor inclines to spare your life, but
wavers. Shall I seek another interview with him? And is there any argument
which you would that I should urge?--or--would you rather that I should
forbear? It is, Gracchus, because I feared lest I had been doing you a
displeasing and undesired service, that I have now spoken.'

'Piso, it is the simple truth when I say that I anticipate the hour and
the moment of death with the same indifference and composure that I do
any, the most common event. I have schooled myself to patience.
Acquiescence in the will of the gods--if gods there are--or which is the
same thing, in the order of events, is the temper which, since I have
reflected at all, I have cultivated, and to which I can say I have fully
attained. I throw myself upon the current of life, unresisting, to be
wafted withersoever it will. I look with desire neither to this shore nor
the opposite, to one port nor another, but wherever I am borne and
permitted to act, I straightway find there and in that my happiness. Not
that one allotment is not in itself preferable to another, but that there
being so much of life over which man has no control, and cannot, if he
would, secure his felicity, I think it wiser to renounce all action and
endeavor concerning it--receiving what is sent or happens with joy if it
be good, without complaint if it be evil. In this manner have I secured an
inward calm, which has been as a fountain of life. My days, whether they
have been dark ones or bright, as others term them, have flowed along a
smooth and even current. Under misfortune, I believe I have enjoyed more
from this my inward frame, than many a son of prosperity has in the very
height of his glory. That which so disturbs the peace of multitudes--even
of philosophers--the prospect of death, has occasioned me not one moment's
disquiet. It is true, I know not what it is--do I know what life is?--but
that is no reason why I should fear it. One thing I know, which is this,
that it will come, as it comes to all, and that I cannot escape it. It may
take me where it will, I shall be content. If it be but a change, and I
live again elsewhere, I shall be glad, especially if I am then exempt from
evils in my condition which assail me here; if it be extinction of being,
it will but resemble those nights when I sleep without dreaming--it will
not yield any delights, but it will not bring affright nor torment. I
desire not to entertain, and I do not entertain either hope or fear. I am
passive. My will is annihilated. The object of my life has been to secure
the greatest amount of pleasure--that being the best thing of which we can
conceive. This I have done by acting right. I have found happiness, or
that which we agree to call so, in acting in accordance with that part of
my nature which prescribes the lines of duty: not in any set of
philosophical opinions; not in expectations in futurity; not in any
fancies or dreams; but in the substantial reality of virtuous action. I
have sought to treat both myself and others in such a way, that afterward
I should not hear from either a single word of reproach. In this way of
life I have for the most part succeeded, as any one can who will apply
his powers as he may if he will. I have at this hour, which it may be is
the last of my life, no complaints to make or hear against myself. So too
in regard to others. At least I know not that there is one living whom I
have wronged, and to whom I owe the least reparation. Now therefore by
living in the best manner for this life on earth, I have prepared myself
in the best manner for death, and for another life, if there be one. If
there be none--still what I have enjoyed I have enjoyed, and it has been
more than any other manner of life could have afforded. So that in any
event, I am like a soldier armed at all points. To me, Piso, to die is no
more than to go on to live. Both are events: to both I am alike
indifferent; I know nothing about either. As for the pain of death, it is
not worthy a moment's thought, even if it were considerable--but it
appears to me that it is not. I have many times witnessed it, and it has
ever seemed that death, so far from being represented by any word
signifying pain, would be better expressed by one that should stand for
insensibility. The nearer death the nearer apathy. There is pain which
often precedes it, in various forms of sickness; but this is sickness, not
death. Such pains we often endure and recover; worse often than apparently
are endured by those who die.'

'I perceive then, Gracchus, that I have given you neither pain nor
pleasure by any thing I have done.'

'Not that exactly. It has given me pleasure that you have sought to do me
a service. For myself, it will weigh but little whether you succeed or
fail. Your intercession has not displeased me. It cannot affect my good
name. For Fausta's sake--'at her name he paused as if for strength--'and
because she wishes it, I would rather live than die. Otherwise my mind is
even-poised, inclining neither way.'

'But would it not afford you, Gracchus, a sensible pleasure, if, supposing
you are now to die, you could anticipate with certainty a future
existence? You are now, you say, in a state of indifference, as to life or
death? Above all you are delivered from all apprehensions concerning death
and futurity. This is, it cannot be denied, a great felicity. You are able
to sit here calm and composed. But it seems to me, if you were possessed
of a certain expectation of immortality, you would be very much animated
and transported, as it were, with the prospect of the wonderful scenes so
soon to be revealed. If, with such a belief, you could turn back your eye
upon as faultless and virtuous a life as you have passed, you would cast
it forward with feelings far from those of indifference.'

'What you assert is very true: doubtless it would be as you say. I can
conceive that death may be approached not only with composure, but with a
bursting impatience; just as the youthful traveller pants to leap from the
vessel that bears him to a foreign land. This would be the case if we were
as secure of another and happier life as we are certain that we live now.
In future ages, perhaps through the discoveries of reason, perhaps by
disclosures from superior beings, it may be so universally, and death come
to be regarded even with affection, as the great deliverer and rewarder.
But at present it is very different; I have found no evidence to satisfy
me in any of the systems of ancient or modern philosophers, from
Pythagoras to Seneca, and our own Longinus, either of the existence of a
God, or of the reality of a future life. It seems to me oftentimes in
certain frames of mind, but they are transient, as if both were true; they
feel true, but that is all. I find no evidence beyond this inward feeling
at all complete and sufficient; and this feeling is nothing, it is of the
nature of a dream, I cannot rely upon it. So that I have, as I still
judge, wisely intrenched myself behind indifference. I have never indulged
in idle lamentations over evils that could not be removed, nor do I now.
Submission is the law of my life, the sum of my philosophy.'

'The Christians,' I here said, 'seem to possess that which all so much
desire, a hope, amounting to a certain expectation, of immortality.
They all, so I am informed, the poor and the humble, as well as the
rich and the learned, live while they live, as feeling themselves to be
only passengers here, and when they die, die as those who pass from one
stage of a journey to another. To them death loses its character of
death, and is associated rather in their minds with life. It is a
beginning rather than an ending; a commencement, not a consummation;
being born, not dying.'

'So I have heard; but I have never considered their doctrine. The
Christian philosophy or doctrine is almost the only one of all, which lay
claim to such distinction, that I have not studied. I have been repelled
from that I suppose by seeing it in so great proportion the property of
the vulgar. What they so rejoiced in, it has appeared to me, could not at
the same time be what would yield me either pleasure or wisdom. At least
in other things the vulgar and the refined seek their knowledge and their
pleasures from very different sources. I cannot conceive of the same
philosophy approving itself to both classes. Do you learn, Piso, when the
time for the execution of the prisoners is appointed?'

'To-morrow, as I heard from the jailer.'

'To-morrow. It is well. Yet I marvel that the jailer told not me. I am
somewhat more concerned to know the hour than you, yet to you he has
imparted what he has withheld from me. He is a partial knave. Have you yet
seen Longinus?'

'I have not, but shall visit him in the morning.'

'Do so. He will receive you with pleasure. Tell me if he continues true in
his affections for the Queen. His is a great trial, laboring, as at first
he did, to turn her from the measures that have come to this end; now
dying, because at last, out of friendship for her rather than anything
else, he espoused her cause. Yet it is almost the same with me. And for
myself, the sweetest feeling of this hour is, that I die for Zenobia, and
that perhaps my death is in part the sacrifice that spares her.
Incomparable woman! how the hearts of those who have known thee are bound
to thee, so that thy very errors and faults are esteemed to be virtues!'

Our conversation here ended, and I turned from the prison, resolved to
seek the presence of Aurelian. I did so. He received me with urbanity as
before, but neither confirmed my hopes nor my fears. I returned again to
the cell of Gracchus, with whom, in various, and to me most instructive
conversation, we passed the remainder of the day.

In the morning, with a spirit heavy and sad, burdened indeed with a grief
such as I never before had experienced, I turned to seek the apartment of
Longinus. It was not far from that of Gracchus. The keeper of the prison
readily admitted me, saying, 'that free intercourse was allowed the
prisoners with all whom it was their desire to see, and that there were
several friends of Longinus already with him.' With these words he let
fall a heavy bar, and the door of the cell creaked upon its hinges.

The room into which I passed seemed a dungeon, rather than any thing else
or better, for the only light it had, came from a small barred window far
above the reach. Longinus was seated near a massy central column, to which
he was bound by a chain; his friends were around him, with whom he
appeared to have been engaged in earnest conversation, He rose as I
approached him, and saluted me with the grace that is natural to him, and
which is expressive, not more of his high breeding, than of an inward
benevolence that goes forth and embraces all who draw near him.

'Although,' said he, 'I am forsaken of that which men call fortune, yet I
am not forgotten by my friends. So that the best things remain. Piso, I
rejoice truly to see you. These whom you behold are pupils and friends
whom you have often met at my house, if this dim light will allow you to
distinguish them.'

'My eyes are not yet so used to darkness as to see with much distinctness,
but I recognise well-known faces.'

After mutual salutations, Longinus said, 'Let me now first inquire
concerning the daughter of Gracchus, that bright emanation of the Deity. I
trust in the gods she is well!'

'I left her,' I replied, 'overwhelmed by sorrow. To lose at once country,
parent, and friends, is loss too great I fear for her. Death to Gracchus
will be death also to her.'

'The temper of Fausta is too sanguine, her heart too warm: she was
designed for a perpetual prosperity. The misfortunes that overtake her
friends she makes more than her own. Others' sufferings--her own she could
bear--falling upon her so thickly, will, if they leave her life, impart a
lasting bitterness to it. It were better perhaps that she died with us.
Gracchus you have found altogether Gracchus?'

'I have. He is in the prison as he was in his own palace. His thoughts
will sometimes wander to his daughter--oftener than he would--and then in
the mirror of the face you behold the inward sorrow of the heart, but it
is only a momentary ruffling of the surface, and straightway it is calm
again. Except this only, and he sits upon his hard seat in the same
composure as if at the head of the Senate.'

'Gracchus,' said Longinus in reply, 'is naturally great; he is a
giant! the ills of life, the greater and the lesser, which assail and
subdue so many, can make nothing of him. He is impenetrable,
immovable. Then he has aided nature by the precepts of philosophy.
What he wanted of insensibility to evil, he has added from a doctrine,
to which he himself clings tenaciously, to which he refers and will
refer, as the spring of his highest felicity, but from which I--so
variously are we constituted--shrink with unfeigned horror. Doubtless
you all know what it is?'

'We do.'

'I grant it thus much; that it steels the mind against pain; that it is
unrivalled in its power to sear and harden the soul; and that if it were
man's common lot to be exposed to evil, and evil chiefly, it were a
philosophy to be greatly coveted. But it is benumbing, deadening in its
influences. It oppresses the soul and overlays it; it delivers it by
rendering it insensible, not by imparting a new principle of vitality
beyond the reach of earthly ill. It does the same service that a
stupifying draught does to him who is about to submit to the knife of the
surgeon, or the axe of the executioner. But is it not nobler to meet such
pains fortified in no other way than by a resolute purpose to bear them as
well as the nature the gods have given you will allow? And suppose you
shrink or give signs of suffering? that does not impeach the soul. It is
rather the gods themselves who cry out through you: you did not; it was
your corporeal nature, something beside your proper self. It is to be no
subject of humiliation to us, or of grief, that when the prospect of acute
suffering is before us; or, still more, when called to endure it, we give
many tokens of a keen sensibility; so it be that at the same time we
remain unshaken in our principles, and ready to bear what we must.'

'And what,' asked the young Cleoras, a favorite disciple of the
philosopher, 'is it in your case that enables you to meet misfortune and
death without shrinking? If you take not shelter behind indifference, what
other shield do you find to be sufficient?'

'I know,' said Longinus, 'that you ask this question not because you have
never heard from me virtually at least its answer, but because you wish to
hear from me at this hour, whether I adhere with firmness to the
principles I have ever inculcated, respecting death, and whether I myself
derive from them the satisfactions I have declared them capable to impart.
It is right and well that you do so. And I on my part take pleasure in
repeating and re-affirming what I have maintained and taught. But I must
be brief in what I say, more so than I have been in replying to your other
inquiries, Cleoras and Bassus, for I perceive by the manner in which the
rays of the sun shoot through the bars of the window, that it is not long
before the executioner will make his appearance. It affords me then, I
say, a very especial satisfaction, to declare in the presence of so many
worthy friends, my continued attachment and hearty devotion to the truths
I have believed and taught, concerning the existence of a God, and the
reality of a future and immortal life. Upon these two great points I
suffer from no serious doubts, and it is from this belief that I now
derive the serenity and peace which you witness. All the arguments which
you have often heard from me in support of them, now seem to me to be
possessed of a greater strength than ever--I will not repeat them, for
they are too familiar to you, but only re-affirm them, and pronounce them,
as in my judgment, affording a ground for our assurance in the department
of moral demonstration, as solid and sufficient as the reasonings of
Euclid afford in the science of geometry. I believe in a supreme God and
sovereign ruler of the world, by whose wisdom and power all things and
beings have been created, and are sustained, and in whose presence I live
and enjoy, as implicitly as I believe the fifth proposition of Euclid's
first book. I believe in a future life with the like strength. It is
behind these truths, Cleoras, that I entrench myself at this hour; these
make the shield which defends me from the assaults of fear and despair,
that would otherwise, I am sure, overwhelm me.'

'But how do they defend you, Longinus,' asked Cleoras--'by simply
rendering you inaccessible to the shafts which are directed against you,
or by any other and higher operation upon the soul?'

'Were it only,' replied the philosopher, 'that truth made me insensible
and indifferent, I should pray rather to be left to the tutelage of
nature. I both despise and abhor doctrines that can do no more than this.
I desire to bless the gods that the philosophy I have received and taught
has performed for me a far more essential service. This elevates and
expands: it renders nature as it were superior to itself and its
condition: it causes the soul to assert its entire supremacy over its
companion, the body, and its dwelling-place the earth, and in the perfect
possession of itself to inhabit a better world of its own creation: it
infinitely increases all its sensibilities, and adds to the constitution
received from nature, what may be termed new senses, so vividly does it
come to apprehend things, which to those who are unenlightened by this
excellent truth, are as if they had no existence, their minds being
invested with no faculty or power whereby to discern and esteem them. So
far from carrying those who embrace it farther toward insensibility and
indifference, which may truly be called a kind of death, it renders them
intensely alive, and it is through the transforming energies of this new
life that the soul is made not insensible to pain, but superior to it, and
to all the greater ills of existence. It soars above them. The knowledge
and the belief that fill it furnish it with wings by which it is borne far
aloft, even at the very time that the body is in the deepest affliction.
Gracchus meets death with equanimity, and that is something. It is better
than to be convulsed with vulgar and excessive fear. But it is a state of
the soul very inferior to what exists in those who truly receive the
doctrines which I have taught. I, Cleoras, look upon death as a release,
not from a life which has been wholly evil, for I have, through the favor
of the gods, enjoyed much, but from the dominion of the body and the
appetites which clog the soul and greatly hinder it in its efforts after a
perfect virtue and a true felicity. It will open a way for me into those
elysian realms in whose reality all men have believed, a very few
excepted, though few or none could prove it. Even as the great Roman could
call that "O glorious day," that should admit him to the council of the
gods, and the society of the great and good who had preceded him, so can I
in like manner designate the day and hour which are now present. I shall
leave you whom I have known so long; I shall be separated from scenes
familiar and beloved through a series of years; the arts and the sciences,
which have ministered so largely to my happiness, in these forms of them I
shall lose; the very earth itself, venerable to my mind for the events
which have passed upon it, and the genius it has nurtured and matured,
and beautiful too in its array of forms and colors, I shall be conversant
with no more. Death will divide me from them all: but it will bear me to
worlds and scenes of a far exceeding beauty: it will introduce me to
mansions inconceivably more magnificent than anything which the soul has
experience of here; above all it will bring me into the company of the
good of all ages, with whom I shall enjoy the pleasures of an
uninterrupted intercourse. It will place me where I shall be furnished
with ample means for the prosecution of all those inquiries which have
engaged me on earth, exposed to none or fewer of the hindrances which have
here thronged the way. All knowledge and all happiness will then be
attainable. Is death to be called an evil, or is it to be feared or
approached with tears and regrets, when such are to be its issues?'

'By no means,' said Cleoras; 'it is rather to be desired. If my philosophy
were as deep and secure as yours, Longinus, I should beg to exchange
places with you. I should willingly suffer a brief pain to be rewarded so
largely. But I find within me no such strong assurance.'

'That,' replied Longinus, 'is for want of reflection. It is only by
conversing with itself that the soul rises to any height of faith.
Argument from abroad is of but little service in the comparison. I have
often discoursed with you concerning these things, and have laid open
before you the grounds upon which my convictions rest. But I have ever
taught that consciousness was the true source of belief, and that of this
you could possess yourselves only through habits of profound attention.
What I believe I feel. I cannot communicate the strength of my belief to
another, because it is mysteriously generated within, interweaving itself
with all my faculties and affections, and abundantly imparting itself to
them, but at the same time inseparable from them in such a sense that I
can offer it as I can a portion of my reason or my knowledge, to any whom
I might desire to benefit. It is in truth in its origin the gift of God,
strengthened and exalted infinitely by reflection. It is an instinct. Were
it otherwise, why could I not give to you all I possess myself, and
possess because I have by labor acquired it? Whereas, though I believe so
confidently myself, I find no way in which to bestow the same good upon
you. But each one will possess it, I am persuaded, in the proportion in
which he prepares himself by a pure life and habitual meditation. It will
then reveal itself with new strength every day. So will it also be of
service to contemplate the characters and lives of those who have lived
illustriously, both for their virtue and their philosophy. To study the
character of Plato will be more beneficial in this regard than to ponder
the arguments of the Phoedo. Those arguments are trivial, fanciful, and
ingenious, rather than convincing. And the great advantage to be derived
from the perusal of that treatise is, as it shall be regarded as a sublime
expression of the confidence with which its author entertained the hope of
immortality. It is as a part of Plato's biography--of the history of his
mind--that it is valuable. Through meditation, through inward purity,
through the contemplation of bright examples, will the soul be best
prepared for the birth of that feeling or conviction that shall set before
you with the distinctness and certainty of actual vision the prospect of
immortality.'

'But are there, Longinus, after all, no waverings of the mind, no
impertinent doubts, no overcasting shadows, which at all disturb your
peace, or impair the vividness of your faith? Are you wholly superior to
fear--the fear of suffering and death?'

'That is not, Cleoras, so much to ask whether I still consider my
philosophy as sufficient, and whether it be so, as whether or not I am
still a man, and therefore a mixed and imperfect being. But if you desire
the assurance, I can answer you, and say that I am but a man, and
therefore notwithstanding my philosophy subject to infirmity and to
assaults from the body, which undoubtedly occasion me some distress. But
these seasons are momentary. I can truly affirm, that although there have
been and still are conflicts, the soul is ever conqueror, and that too by
very great odds. My doubts and fears are mere flitting shadows; my hope, a
strong and unchanging beam of light. The body sometimes slips from beyond
my control and trembles, but the soul is at the very same time secure in
herself and undaunted. I present the same apparent contradiction that the
soldier often does upon the field of battle; he trembles and turns pale as
he first springs forward to encounter the foe, but his arm is strong and
his soul determined at the very same moment, and no death nor suffering in
prospect avails to alarm or turn him back. Do not therefore, although I
should exhibit signs of fear, imagine that my soul is terrified, or that I
am forsaken of those steadfast principles to which I have given in my
allegiance for so long a time.'

'We will not, Longinus,' said they all.

Longinus here paused, and seemed for a time buried in meditation. We were
all silent--or the silence was broken only by the sobs of those who could
not restrain their grief.

'I have spoken to you, my friends,' he at length resumed, 'of the hope of
immortality, of the strength it yields, and of its descent from God. But
think not that this hope can exist but in the strictest alliance with
virtue. The hope of immortality without virtue is a contradiction in
terms. The perpetuation of vice, or of any vicious affections or desires,
can be contemplated only with horror. If the soul be without virtue, it is
better that it should perish. And if deep stained with vice, it is to be
feared that the very principle of life may be annihilated. As then you
would meet the final hour, not only with calmness, but with pleasant
expectations, cherish virtue in your souls; reverence the divinity; do
justly by all; obey your instincts, which point out the right and the
wrong; keep yourselves pure; subdue the body. As virtue becomes a habit
and a choice, and the soul, throughout all its affections and powers,
harmonizes with nature and God, will the hope of immortality increase in
strength till it shall grow to a confident expectation. Remember that
virtue is the golden key, and the only one, that unlocks the gates of the
celestial mansions.'

I here asked Longinus if he was conscious of having been influenced in any
of his opinions by Christianity. 'I know,' I said, 'that in former
conversations you have ever objected to that doctrine. Does your judgment
remain the same?'

'I have not read the writings of the Christians, yet am I not wholly
ignorant of them, since it were impossible to know with such familiarity
the Princess Julia, and not arrive at some just conceptions of what that
religion is. But I have not received it. Yet even as a piece of polished
metal takes a thousand hues from surrounding objects, so does the mind;
and mine may have been unconsciously colored and swayed by the truths of
Christianity, which I have heard so often stated and defended. Light may
have fallen upon it from that quarter as well as from others. I doubt not
that it has. For although I cannot myself admit that doctrine, yet am I
now, and have ever been, persuaded of its excellence, and that upon such
as can admit it, it must exert a power altogether beneficial. But let us
now, for the little time that remains, turn to other things. Piso, know
you aught concerning the Queen? I have not seen her since the day of her
flight, nor have I heard concerning her that which I could trust.'

I then related at length all that I knew.

'Happy would it have been for her and for all, had my first counsels
prevailed! Yet am I glad that fortune spares her. May she live to hear of
Palmyra once more restored to opulence and glory. I was happy in her
service. I am now happy, if by my death, as by my life, I can avert from
her evil that otherwise might overtake her. For her, or for the Princess,
there is no extremity I would not endure, as there have been no services I
have not rejoiced to perform. The only favor I have asked of Aurelian was,
to be permitted a last interview with my great pupils; it did not agree
with my opinions of him, that I was denied so reasonable a request.'

'Perhaps,' said I, 'it is in my power to furnish the reason, having been
informed, since reaching Emesa, that the Queen, with her attendants and
the Princesses, had been sent on secretly toward Rome, that they might be
placed beyond the risk of violence on the part of the legions. He himself
was doubtful of his power to protect them.'

'For the sake of both am I glad to hear the explanation,' replied
Longinus.

As he uttered these words, the sound of steps was heard as of several
approaching the door of the room. Then the heavy bar of the door was let
fall, and the key turned in the wards of the lock. We knew that the last
moments of Longinus had arrived. Although knowing this so well, yet we
still were not ready for it, and a horror as of some unlooked-for
calamity came over us. Cleoras wept without restraint; and threw himself
down before Longinus, embraced his knees, and as the officers entered and
drew near, warned them away with threatening language. It was with
difficulty that Longinus calmed him. He seemed to have lost the
possession of his reason.

The jailer, followed by a guard, now came up to Longinus, and informed him
that the hour appointed for his execution had arrived.

Longinus replied, 'that he was ready to go with him, but must first, when
his chains were taken off, be permitted to address himself to the gods.
For,' said he, 'we ought to undertake no enterprise of moment, especially
ought we not to venture into any unknown and untried scenes without first
asking their guidance, who alone have power to carry us safely through.'

'This we readily grant,' replied the jailer; who then taking his hammer
struck off the chain that was bound around the middle of his body.

Longinus then, without moving from where he sat, bent his head, and
covering his face with his hands remained a few moments in that posture.
The apartment was silent as if no one had been in it. Even Cleoras was by
that sight taught to put a restraint upon the expression of his feelings.

When these few moments were ended, Longinus raised his head, and with a
bright and smiling countenance said to the jailer that he was now ready.

He then went out in company with the guard and soldiers, we following in
sad procession. The place of execution was in front of the camp, all the
legions being drawn round to witness it. Aurelian himself was present
among them.

Soon as we came in sight of that fatal place, and of the executioner
standing with his axe lifted upon his shoulder, Longinus suddenly stopped,
his face became pale and his frame trembled. He turned and looked upon us
who were immediately behind him, and held up his hands, but without
speaking, which was as much as to say, 'you perceive that what I said was
very likely to happen has come to pass, and the body has obtained a
momentary triumph.' He paused however not long, making then a sign to the
soldiers that he was ready to proceed. After a short walk from that spot
we reached the block and the executioner.

'Friend,' said he now to the executioner, 'I hope your axe is sharp, and
that you are skilful in your art; and yet it is a pity if you have had so
much practice as to have become very dexterous in it.'

'Ten years service in Rome,' he replied, 'may well make one so, or he must
be born with little wit. Distrust not my arm, for it has never failed yet.
One blow, and that a light one, is all I want, if it be as it ought, a
little slanting. As for this edge--feel it if thou wilt--it would do for
thy beard.'

Longinus had now divested himself of whatever parts of his garments would
obstruct the executioner in his duty, and was about to place his head in
the prescribed place, when he first turned to us and again held out his
hands, which now trembled no longer.

'You see,' said he, in a cheerful voice, 'that the soul is again supreme.
Love and cultivate the soul, my good friends, and you will then be
universal conquerors, and throughout all ages. It will never betray you.
Now, my new friend, open for me the gates of immortality, for you are in
truth a celestial porter.' So saying, he placed himself as he was directed
to do, and at a single blow, as he had been promised, the head of Longinus
was severed from his body.

Neither the head nor the body was delivered to the soldiers, nor allowed
to be treated with disrespect. This favor we had obtained of Aurelian. So
after the executioner had held up the head of the philosopher, and shown
it to the soldiers, it was together with the body given to our care, and
by us sent to Palmyra.

On this same day perished Otho, Seleucus, Gabrayas, Nicanor--all, in a
word, of the Queen's council, and almost all of the senate. Some were
reserved for execution at another time, and among these I found, as I
went sadly toward the cell of Gracchus, was the father of Fausta.

The keeper of the prison admitted me with a more cheerful air than before,
and with a significant shake of the head. I heeded him but little,
pressing on to meet Gracchus.

'So,' I exclaimed, 'it is not to-day'--

'No,' rejoined Gracchus, visibly moved, 'nor to-morrow, Piso. Read here.'
And placing a parchment in my hand, turned away.

It contained a full and free remission of punishment, and permission to
return immediately to Palmyra.

'The gods be praised! the gods be praised!' I cried as I embraced him, 'Is
not this better, Gracchus?'

'It is,' said he, with emphasis. 'It is a great boon. I do not deny it.
For Fausta's sake I rejoice--as for myself, all is strictly true which I
have said to you. But I forget all now, save Fausta and her joy and
renewed life. Would, O would, that Longinus could have returned to Palmyra
with me!'--and then, for the first time, Gracchus gave way to grief, and
wept aloud.

In the morning we set out for Palmyra. Farewell.



Letter XVII.



I write again from Palmyra.

We arrived here after a day's hard travel. The sensation occasioned by the
unexpected return of Gracchus seemed to cause a temporary forgetfulness of
their calamities on the part of the citizens. As we entered the city at
the close of the day, and they recognised their venerated friend, there
were no hounds to the tumultuous expressions of their joy. The whole city
was abroad. It were hard to say whether Fausta herself was more pained by
excess of pleasure, than was each citizen who thronged the streets as we
made our triumphal entry.

A general amnesty of the past having been proclaimed by Sandarion
immediately after the departure of Aurelian with the prisoners whom he
chose to select, we found Calpurnius already returned. At Fausta's side he
received us as we dismounted in the palace-yard. I need not tell you how
we passed our first evening. Yet it was one of very mixed enjoyment.
Fausta's eye, as it dwelt upon the beloved form of her father, seemed to
express unalloyed happiness. But then again, as it was withdrawn at those
moments when, his voice kept not her attention fixed upon himself, she
fell back upon the past and the lost, and the shadows of a deep sadness
would gather over her. So in truth was it with us all--especially, when at
the urgency of the rest, I related to them the interviews I had had with
Longinus, and described to them his behavior in the prison and at the
execution.

'I think,' said Fausta, 'that Aurelian, in the death of Longinus, has
injured his fame far more than by the capture of Zenobia and the reduction
of Palmyra he has added to it. Posterity will not readily forgive him for
putting out, in its meridian blaze, the very brightest light of the age.
It surely was an unnecessary act.'

'The destruction of prisoners, especially those of rank and influence,
is,' said I, 'according to the savage usages of war--and Aurelian defends
the death of Longinus by saying, that in becoming the first adviser of
Zenobia, he was no longer Longinus the philosopher, but Longinus the
minister and rebel.'

'That will be held,' she replied, 'as a poor piece of sophistry. He was
still Longinus. And in killing Longinus the minister, he basely slew
Longinus the renowned philosopher, the accomplished scholar, the man of
letters and of taste; the great man of the age; for you will not say that
either in Rome or Greece there now lives his equal.'

'Fausta,' said Gracchus, 'you are right. And had Aurelian been any more or
higher than a soldier, he would not have dared to encounter the odium of
the act; but in simple truth he was, I suppose, and is utterly insensible
to the crime he has committed, not against an individual or Palmyra, but
against the civilized world and posterity; a crime that will grow in its
magnitude as time rolls on, and will forever and to the remotest times
blast the fame and the name of him who did it. Longinus belonged to all
times and people, and by them will be avenged. Aurelian could not
understand the greatness of his victim, and was ignorant that he was
drawing upon himself a reproach greater than if he had sacrificed in his
fury the Queen herself, and half the inhabitants of Palmyra. He will find
it out when he reaches Rome. He will find himself as notorious there, as
the murderer of Longinus, as he will be as conqueror of the East.'

'There was one sentiment of Aurelian,' I said, 'which he expressed to me
when I urged upon him the sparing of Longinus, to which you must allow
some greatness to attach. I had said to him that it was greater to pardon
than to punish, and that for that reason--"Ah," he replied, interrupting
me, "I may not gain to myself the fame of magnanimity at the expense of
Rome. As the chief enemy of Rome in this rebellion, Rome requires his
punishment, and Rome is the party to be satisfied, not I."'

'I grant that there is greatness in the sentiment. If he was sincere, all
we can say is this--that he misjudged in supposing Rome to need the
sacrifice. She needed it not. There were enough heads like mine, of less
worth, that would do for the soldiers--for they are Rome in Aurelian's
vocabulary.'

'Men of humanity and of letters,' I replied, 'will, I suppose, decide upon
this question one way, politicians and soldiers another.'

'That, I believe,' rejoined Gracchus, 'is nearly the truth.'

When wearied by a prolonged conversation, we sought the repose of our
pillows; each one of us happier by a large and overflowing measure than
but two days before we had ever thought to be again.

The city is to all appearance tranquil and acquiescent under its bitter
chastisement. The outward aspect is calm and peaceful. The gates are
thrown open, and the merchants and traders are returning to the pursuits
of traffic; the gentry and nobles are engaged in refitting and
re-embellishing their rifled palaces; and the common people have returned
in quiet to the several channels of their industry.

I have made however some observations, which lead me to believe that all
is not so settled and secure as it seems to be, and that however the
greater proportion of the citizens are content to sit down patiently under
the rule of their new masters, others are not of their mind. I can
perceive that Antiochus, who under the general pardon proclaimed by
Sandarion has returned to the city, is the central point of a good deal of
interest among a certain class of citizens. He is again at the head of the
same licentious and desperate crew as before; a set of men, like himself,
large in their resources, lawless in their lives, and daring in the
pursuit of whatever object they set before them. To one who knows the men,
their habits and manners, it is not difficult to see that they are engaged
in other plans than appear upon the surface. Yet are their movements so
quietly ordered as to occasion no general observation or remark.
Sandarion, ignorant whence danger might be expected to arise, appears not
to indulge suspicions of one nor another. Indeed, from the smallness of
the garrison, from the whole manner both of the governor and those who are
under him, soldiers and others, it is evident that no thought of a rising
on the part of the populace has entered their minds.

       *       *       *       *       *

A few days have passed, and Gracchus and Fausta, who inclined not to give
much heed to my observations, both think with me--indeed, to Gracchus
communication has been made of the existence of a plot to rescue the city
from the hands of the Romans, in which he has been solicited to join.

Antiochus himself has sought and obtained an interview with Gracchus.

Gracchus has not hesitated to reject all overtures from that quarter. We
thus learn that the most desperate measures are in agitation--weak and
preposterous too as they are desperate, and must in the end prove ruinous.
Antiochus, we doubt not, is a tool in the hands of others, but he stands
out as the head and centre of the conspiracy. There is a violent and a
strong party, consisting chiefly of the disbanded soldiers, but of some
drawn from every class of the inhabitants, whose object is by a sudden
attack to snatch the city from the Roman garrison; and placing Antiochus
on the throne, proclaim their independence again, and prepare themselves
to maintain and defend it. They make use of Antiochus because of his
connection with Zenobia, and the influence he would exert through that
prejudice, and because of his sway over other families among the richest
and most powerful, especially the two princes, Herennianus and
Timolaus--and because of his fool-hardiness. If they should fail, he, they
imagine, will be the only or the chief sacrifice--and he can well be
spared. If they succeed, it will be an easy matter afterward to dispose of
him, if his character or measures as their king should displease them, and
exalt some other and worthier in his room.

'And what, father,' said Fausta, 'said you to Antiochus?'

'I told him,' replied Gracchus, 'what I thought, that the plan struck me
not only as frantic and wild, but foolish--that I for myself should
engage in no plot of any kind, having in view any similar object, much
less in such a one as he proposed. I told him that if Palmyra was destined
ever to assert its supremacy and independence of Rome, it could not be for
many years to come, and then by watching for some favorable juncture in
the affairs of Rome in other parts of the world. It might very well
happen, I thought, that in the process of years, and when Palmyra had
wholly recruited her strength after her late and extreme sufferings--that
there might occur some period of revolution or inward commotion in the
Roman empire, such as would leave her remote provinces in a comparatively
unprotected state. Then would be the time for re-asserting our
independence; then we might spring upon our keepers with some good
prospect of overpowering them, and taking again to ourselves our own
government. But now, I tried to convince him, it was utter madness, or
worse, stupidity, to dream of success in such an enterprise. The Romans
were already inflamed and angry; not half appeased by the bloody offering
that had just been made; their strength was undiminished--for what could
diminish the strength of Rome?--and a rising could no sooner take place,
than her legions would again be upon us, and our sufferings might be
greater than ever. I entreated him to pause, and to dissuade those from
action who were connected with him. I did not hesitate to set before him a
lively picture of his own hazard in the affair; that he, if failure
ensued, would be the first victim. I urged moreover, that a few, as I held
his number to be, had no right to endanger, by any selfish and besotted
conduct, the general welfare, the lives and property of the citizens; that
not till he felt he had the voice of the people with him ought he to dare
to act; and that although I should not betray his councils to Sandarion, I
should to the people, unless I received from him ample assurance that no
movement should be made without a full disclosure of the project to all
the principal citizens, as representatives of the whole city.'

'And how took he all that?' we asked.

'He was evidently troubled at the vision I raised of his' own head borne
aloft upon a Roman pike, and not a little disconcerted at what I labored
to convince him were the rights of us all in the case. I obtained from him
in the end a solemn promise that he would communicate what I had said to
his companions, and that they would forbear all action till they had first
obtained the concurrence of the greater part of the city. I assured him
however, that in no case and under no conceivable circumstances could he
or others calculate upon any co-operation of mine. Upon any knowledge
which I might obtain of intended action, I should withdraw from the city.'

'It is a sad fate,' said Fausta, 'that having just escaped with our lives
and the bare walls of our city and dwellings from the Romans, we are now
to become the prey of a wicked faction among ourselves. But, can you trust
the word of Antiochus that he will give you timely notice if they go on to
prosecute the affair? Will they not now work in secret all the more, and
veil themselves even from the scrutiny of citizens?'

'I hardly think they can escape the watchful eyes that will be fixed upon
them,' replied Gracchus; 'nor do I believe that however inclined Antiochus
might be to deceive me, those who are of his party would agree to such
baseness. There are honorable men, however deluded, in his company.'

       *       *       *       *       *

Several days have passed, and our fears are almost laid. Antiochus and the
princes have been seen as usual frequenting the more public streets,
lounging in the Portico, or at the places of amusement. And the evenings
have been devoted to gayety and pleasure--Sandarion himself, and the
officers of his legion, being frequent visiters at the palace of
Antiochus, and at that of the Cæsars, lately the palace of Zenobia.

During this interval we have celebrated with all becoming rites the
marriage of Fausta and Calpurnius, hastened at the urgency of Gracchus,
who feeling still very insecure of life, and doubtful of the continued
tranquillity of the city, wished to bestow upon Calpurnius the rights of a
husband, and to secure to Fausta the protection of one. Gracchus seems
happier and lighter of heart since this has been done--so do we all. It
was an occasion of joy, but as much of tears also. An event which we had
hoped to have been graced by the presence of Zenobia, Julia, and Longinus,
took place almost in solitude and silence. But of this I have written
fully to Portia.

       *       *       *       *       *

That which we have apprehended has happened. The How has been struck, and
Palmyra is again, in name at least, free and independent.

Early on the morning after the marriage of Fausta, we were alarmed by the
sounds of strife and commotion in the streets--by the cries of those who
pursued, and of those who fled and fought. It was as yet hardly light. But
it was not difficult to know the cause of the uproar, or the parties
engaged. We seized our arms, and prepared ourselves for defence, against
whatever party, Roman or Palmyrene, should make an assault. The
preparation was however needless, for the contest was already decided. The
whole garrison, with the brave Sandarion at their head, has been
massacred, and the power of Palmyra is in the hands of Antiochus and his
adherents. There has been in truth no fighting, it has been the murder
rather of unprepared and defenceless men. The garrison was cut off in
detail while upon their watch by overwhelming numbers. Sandarion was
despatched in his quarters, and in his bed, by the very inhuman wretches
at whose tables he had just been feasted, from whom he had but a few hours
before parted, giving and receiving the signs of friendship. The cowardly
Antiochus it was who stabbed him as he sprang from his sleep, encumbered
and disabled by his night-clothes. Not a Roman has escaped with his life.

Antiochus is proclaimed king, and the streets of the city have resounded
with the shouts of this deluded people, crying, 'long live Antiochus!' He
has been borne in tumult to the great portico of the temple of the Sun,
where, with the ceremonies prescribed for the occasion, he has been
crowned king of Palmyra and of the East.

While these things were in progress--the now king entering upon his
authority, and the government forming itself--Gracchus chose and
acted his part.

'There is little safety,' he said, 'for me now, I fear, anywhere--but
least of all here. But were I secure of life, Palmyra is now to be a
desecrated and polluted place, and I would fain depart from it. I could
not remain in it, though covered with honor, to see Antiochus in the seat
of Zenobia, and Critias in the chair of Longinus. I must go, as I respect
myself and as I desire life. Antiochus will bear me no good will, and no
sooner will he have become easy in his seat and secure of his power, than
he will begin the work for which his nature alone fits him, of
cold-blooded revenge, cruelty, and lust. I trust indeed that his reign
will end before that day shall arrive--but it may not--and it will be best
for me and for you, my children, to remove from his sight. If he sees us
not, he may forget us.'

We all gladly assented to the plan which he then proposed. It was to
withdraw privately as possible to one of his estates in the neighborhood
of the city, and there await the unfolding of the scenes that remained yet
to be enacted. The plan was at once carried into effect. The estate to
which we retreated was about four Roman miles from the walls, situated
upon an eminence, and overlooking the city and the surrounding plains.
Soon as the shadows of the evening of the first day of the reign of
Antiochus had fallen, we departed from Palmyra, and within an hour found
ourselves upon a spot as wild and secluded as if it had been within the
bosom of a wilderness. The building consists of a square tower of stone,
large and lofty, built originally for purposes of war and defence, but now
long occupied by those who have pursued the peaceful labors of husbandry.
The wildness of the region, the solitariness of the place, the dark and
frowning aspect of the impregnable tower, had pleased the fancy of both
Gracchus and Fausta, and it has been used by them as an occasional retreat
at those times when, wearied of the sound and sight of life, they have
needed perfect repose. A few slaves are all that are required to
constitute a sufficient household.

Here, Curtius, notwithstanding the troubled aspect of the times, have we
passed a few days of no moderate enjoyment. Had there been no other, it
would have been enough to sit and witness the happiness of Calpurnius and
Fausta. But there have been and are other sources of satisfaction as you
will not doubt. We have now leisure to converse at such length as we
please upon a thousand subjects which interest us. Seated upon the rocks
at nightfall, or upon the lofty battlements of the tower, or at hot noon
reclining beneath the shade of the terebinth or palm, we have tasted once
again the calm delights we experienced at the Queen's mountain palace. In
this manner have we heard from Calpurnius accounts every way instructive
and entertaining of his life while in Persia; of the character and acts of
Sapor; of the condition of that empire, and its wide-spread population.
Nothing seems to have escaped his notice and investigation. At these times
and places too do I amuse and enlighten the circle around me by reading
such portions of your letters and of Portia's as relate to matters
generally interesting--and thus too do we discuss the times, and speculate
upon the events with which the future labors in relation to Palmyra.

In the mean time we learn that the city is given up to festivity and
excess. Antiochus himself possessing immense riches, is devoting these,
and whatever the treasury of the kingdom places within his reach, to the
entertainment of the people with shows and games after the Roman fashion,
and seems really to have deluded the mass of the people so far as to have
convinced them that their ancient prosperity has returned, and that he is
the father of their country, a second Odenatus. He has succeeded in giving
to his betrayal of the Queen the character and merit of a patriotic act,
at least with the creatures who uphold him--and there are no praises so
false and gross that they are not heaped upon him, and imposed upon the
people in proclamations, and edicts. The ignorant--and where is it that
they are not the greater part--stand by, wonder and believe. They cannot
penetrate the wickedness of the game that has been played before them, and
by the arts of the king and his minions have already been converted into
friends and supporters.

The defence of the city is not, we understand, wholly neglected; but
having before their eyes some fear of retribution, troops are again levied
and organized, and the walls beginning to be put into a state of
preparation. But this is all of secondary interest, and is postponed to
any object of more immediate and sensual gratification.

But there are large numbers of the late Queen's truest friends, who with
Gracchus look on in grief and terror even, at the order of things that has
arisen, and prophesying with him a speedy end to it, either from interior
and domestic revolution, or a return of the Roman armies, accompanied in
either case of course by a wide-spread destruction, have with him also
secretly withdrawn from the city, and fled either to some neighboring
territory, or retreated to the fastnesses of the rural districts. Gracchus
has not ceased to warn all whom he knows and chiefly esteems of the
dangers to be apprehended, and urge upon them the duty of a timely escape.

       *       *       *       *       *

Messengers have arrived from Antiochus to Gracchus, with whom they have
held long and earnest conference, the object of which has been to induce
him to return to the city, and resume his place at the head of the Senate,
the king well knowing that no act of his would so much strengthen his
power as to be able to number Gracchus among his friends. But Gracchus has
not so much as wavered in his purpose to keep aloof from Antiochus and all
concern with his affairs. His contempt and abhorrence of the king would
not however, he says, prevent his serving his country, were he not
persuaded that in so short a time violence of some sort from without or
within would prostrate king and government in the dust.

It was only a few days after the messengers from Antiochus had paid their
visit to Gracchus, that as we were seated upon a shaded rock, not far from
the tower, listening to Fausta as she read to us, we were alarmed by the
sudden irruption of Milo upon our seclusion, breathless, except that he
could just exclaim, 'The Romans! The Romans!' As he could command his
speech, he said, 'that the Roman army could plainly be discerned from the
higher points of the land, rapidly approaching the city, of which we might
satisfy ourselves by ascending the tower.'

'Gods! can it be possible,' exclaimed Gracchus, 'that Aurelian can himself
have returned? He must have been well on his way to the Hellespont ere the
conspiracy broke out.'

'I can easily believe it,' I replied, as we hastened toward the old tower,
'from what I have known and witnessed of the promptness and miraculous
celerity of his movements.'

As we came out upon the battlements of the tower, not a doubt remained
that it was indeed the Romans pouring in again like a flood upon the
plains of the now devoted city. Far as the eye could reach to the west,
clouds of dust indicated the line of the Roman march, while the van was
already within a mile of the very gates. The roads leading to the capital,
in every direction, seemed covered with those who, at the last moment, ere
the gates were shut, had rushed forth and were flying to escape the
impending desolation. All bore the appearance of a city taken by surprise
and utterly unprepared; as we doubted not was the case from what we had
observed of its actual state, and from the suddenness of Aurelian's return
and approach.

'Now,' said Fausta, 'I can believe that the last days of Palmyra have
arrived. It is impossible that Antiochus can sustain the siege against
what will now be the tenfold fury of Aurelian and his enraged soldiers.'

A very few days will suffice for its reduction, if long before it be not
again betrayed into the power of the assailants.

We have watched with intense curiosity and anxiety the scene that has been
performing before our eyes. We are not so remote but that we can see with
considerable distinctness whatever takes place, sometimes advancing and
choosing our point of observation upon some nearer eminence.

       *       *       *       *       *

After one day of preparation and one of assault the city has fallen, and
Aurelian again entered in triumph; this time in the spirit of revenge and
retaliation. It is evident, as we look on horror-struck, that no quarter
is given, but that a general massacre has been ordered, both of soldier
and citizen. We can behold whole herds of the defenceless populace
escaping from the gates or over the walls, only to be pursued--hunted--and
slaughtered by the remorseless soldiers. And thousands upon thousands
have we seen driven over the walls, or hurled from the battlements of the
lofty towers to perish, dashed upon the rocks below. Fausta cannot endure
these sights of horror, but retires and hides herself in her apartments.

No sooner had the evening of this fatal day set in, than a new scene of
terrific sublimity opened before us as we beheld flames beginning to
ascend from every part of the city. They grew and spread till they
presently appeared to wrap all objects alike in one vast sheet of fire.
Towers, pinnacles and domes, after glittering awhile in the fierce blaze,
one after another fell and disappeared in the general ruin. The Temple of
the Sun stood long untouched, shining almost with the brightness of the
sun itself, its polished shafts and sides reflecting the surrounding fire
with an intense brilliancy. We hoped that it might escape, and were
certain that it would, unless fired from within--as from its insulated
position the flames from the neighboring buildings could not reach it. But
we watched not long ere from its western extremity the fire broke forth,
and warned us that that peerless monument of human genius, like all else,
would soon crumble to the ground. To our amazement however and joy, the
flames, after having made great progress, were suddenly arrested, and by
some cause extinguished; and the vast pile stood towering in the centre of
the desolation, of double size as it seemed, from the fall and
disappearance of so many of the surrounding structures.

'This,' said Fausta, 'is the act of a rash and passionate man. Aurelian,
before to-morrow's sun is set, will himself repent it. What a single
night has destroyed, a century could not restore. This blighted and ruined
capital, as long as its crumbling remains shall attract the gaze of the
traveller, will utter a blasting malediction upon the name and memory of
Aurelian. Hereafter he will be known, not as conqueror of the East and the
restorer of the Roman Empire, but as the executioner of Longinus and the
ruthless destroyer of Palmyra.'

'I fear that you prophesy with too much truth,' I replied. 'Rage and
revenge have ruled the hour, and have committed horrors which no reason
and no policy either of the present or of any age, will justify.'

'It is a result ever to be expected,' said Gracchus, 'so long as mankind
will prefer an ignorant, unlettered soldier as their ruler. They can look
for nothing different from one whose ideas have been formed by the camp
alone--whose vulgar mind has never been illuminated by study and the
knowledge of antiquity. Such a one feels no reverence for the arts, for
learning, for philosophy, nor for man as man--he knows not what these
mean--power is all he can comprehend, and all he worships. As long as the
army furnishes Rome with her emperors, so long may she know that her name
will, by acts like these, be handed down to posterity covered with the
infamy that belongs to the polished savage--the civilized barbarian. Come,
Fausta, let us now in and hide ourselves from this sight--too sad and
sorrowful to gaze upon.'

'I can look now, father, without emotion,' she replied; 'a little sorrow
opens all the fountains of grief--too much seals them. I have wept till I
can weep no more. My sensibility is, I believe, by this succession of
calamities dulled till it is dead.'

Aurelian, we learn, long before the fire had completed its work of
destruction, recalled the orders he had given, and labored to arrest the
progress of the flames. In this he to a considerable extent succeeded, and
it was owing to this that the great temple was saved, and others among the
most costly and beautiful structures.

On the third day after the capture of the city and the massacre of the
inhabitants, the army of the 'conqueror and destroyer' withdrew from the
scene of its glory, and again disappeared beyond the desert. I sought not
the presence of Aurelian while before the city, for I cared not to meet
him drenched in the blood of women and children. But as soon as he and his
legions were departed, we turned toward the city, as children to visit the
dead body of a parent.

No language which I can use, my Curtius, can give you any just conception
of the horrors which met our view on the way to the walls and in the city
itself. For more than a mile before we reached the gates, the roads, and
the fields on either hand, were strewed with the bodies of those who, in
their attempts to escape, had been overtaken by the enemy and slain. Many
a group of bodies did we notice, evidently those of a family, the parents
and the children, who, hoping to reach in company some place of security,
had all--and without resistance apparently--fallen a sacrifice to the
relentless fury of their pursuers. Immediately in the vicinity of the
walls and under them the earth was concealed from the eye by the
multitudes of the slain, and all objects were stained with the one hue of
blood. Upon passing the gates and entering within those walls which I had
been accustomed to regard as embracing in their wide and graceful sweep
the most beautiful city of the world, my eye met naught but black and
smoking ruins, fallen houses and temples, the streets choked with piles of
still blazing timbers and the half-burned bodies of the dead. As I
penetrated farther into the heart of the city, and to its better built and
more spacious quarters, I found the destruction to be less--that the
principal streets were standing, and many of the more distinguished
structures. But every where--in the streets--upon the porticos of private
and public dwellings--upon the steps and within the very walls of the
temples of every faith--in all places, the most sacred as well as the most
common, lay the mangled carcasses of the wretched inhabitants. None
apparently had been spared. The aged were there, with their silvered
heads--little children and infants--women, the young, the beautiful, the
good--all were there, slaughtered in every imaginable way, and presenting
to the eye spectacles of horror and of grief enough to break the heart and
craze the brain. For one could not but go back to the day and the hour
when they died, and suffer with these innocent thousands a part of what
they suffered, when the gates of the city giving way, the infuriated
soldiery poured in, and with death written in their faces and clamoring on
their tongues, their quiet houses were invaded, and resisting or
unresisting, they all fell together beneath the murderous knives of the
savage foe. What shrieks then rent and filled the air--what prayers of
agony went up to the gods for life to those whose ears on mercy's side
were adders'--what piercing supplications that life might be taken and
honor spared! The apartments of the rich and the noble presented the most
harrowing spectacles, where the inmates, delicately nurtured, and knowing
of danger, evil and wrong only by name and report, had first endured all
that nature most abhors, and then, there where their souls had died, were
slain by their brutal violators with every circumstance of most demoniac
cruelty. Happy for those who, like Gracchus, foresaw the tempest and
fled. These calamities have fallen chiefly upon the adherents of
Antiochus: but among them, alas! were some of the noblest and most honored
families of the capital. Their bodies now lie blackened and bloated upon
their door-stones--their own halls have become their tombs.

We sought together the house of Gracchus. We found it partly consumed,
partly standing and uninjured. The offices and one of the rear wings were
burned and level with the ground, but there the flames had been arrested,
and the remainder, comprising all the principal apartments, stands as it
stood before. The palace of Zenobia has escaped without harm--its lofty
walls and insulated position were its protection. The Long Portico, with
its columns, monuments, and inscriptions, remains also untouched by the
flames and unprofaned by any violence from the wanton soldiery. The fire
has fed upon the poorer quarters of the city, where the buildings were
composed in greater proportion of wood, and spared most of the great
thorough-fares, principal avenues, and squares of the capital, which,
being constructed in the most solid manner of stone, resisted effectually
all progress of the flames, and though frequently set on fire for the
purpose of their destruction, the fire perished from a want of material,
or it consumed but the single edifice where it was kindled.

The silence of death and of ruin rests over this once and but so lately
populous city. As I stood upon a high point which overlooked a large
extent of it, I could discern no signs of life, except here and there a
detachment of the Roman guard dragging forth the bodies of the
slaughtered citizens, and bearing them to be burned or buried. This whole
people is extinct. In a single day these hundred thousands have found a
common grave. Not one remains to bewail or bury the dead. Where are the
anxious crowds, who when their dwellings have been burned, eagerly rush in
as the flames have spent themselves to sorrow over their smoking altars,
and pry with busy search among the hot ashes, if perchance they may yet
rescue some lamented treasure, or bear away at least the bones of a parent
or a child, buried beneath the ruins? They are not here. It is broad day,
and the sun shines bright, but not a living form is seen lingering about
these desolated streets and squares. Birds of prey are already hovering
round, and alighting without apprehension of disturbance wherever the
banquet invites them; and soon as the shadows of evening shall fall, the
hyena of the desert will be here to gorge himself upon what they have
left, having scented afar off upon the tainted breeze the fumes of the
rich feast here spread for him. These Roman grave-diggers from the legion
of Bassus, are alone upon the ground to contend with them for their prize.
O, miserable condition of humanity! Why is it that to man have been given
passions which he cannot tame, and which sink him below the brute! Why is
it that a few ambitious are permitted by the Great Ruler, in the selfish
pursuit of their own aggrandizement, to scatter in ruin, desolation, and
death, whole kingdoms--making misery and destruction the steps by which
they mount up to their seats of pride! O, gentle doctrine of Christ!
doctrine of love and of peace, when shall it be that I and all mankind
shall know thy truth, and the world smile with a new happiness under thy
life-giving reign!

Fausta, as she has wandered with us through this wilderness of woe, has
uttered scarce a word. This appalling and afflicting sight of her beloved
Palmyra--her pride and hope--in whose glory her very life was wrapt
up--so soon become a blackened heap of ruins--its power departed--its busy
multitudes dead, and their dwellings empty or consumed--has deprived her
of all but tears. She has only wept. The sensibility which she feared was
dead she finds endued with life enough--with too much for either her peace
or safety.

As soon as it became known in the neighboring districts that the army of
Aurelian was withdrawn, and that the troops left in the camp and upon the
walls were no longer commissioned to destroy, they who had succeeded in
effecting their escape, or who had early retreated from the scene of
danger, began to venture back. These were accompanied by great numbers of
the country people, who now poured in either to witness with their own
eyes the great horror of the times, or to seek for the bodies of children
or friends, who, dwelling in the city for purposes of trade or labor or as
soldiers, had fallen in the common ruin. For many days might the streets,
and walls, and ruins be seen covered with crowds of men and women, who
weeping sought among the piles of the yet unburied and decaying dead, dear
relatives, or friends, or lovers, for whom they hoped to perform the last
offices of unfailing affection; a hope that was, perhaps, in scarce a
single instance fulfilled. And how could any but those in whom love had
swallowed up reason once imagine that where the dead were heaped fathoms
deep, mangled by every shocking mode of death, and now defaced yet more by
the processes of corruption, they could identify the forms which they last
saw beautiful in all the bloom of health? But love is love; it feels and
cannot reason.

Cerronius Bassus, the lieutenant of Aurelian, has with a humane violence
laid hold upon this curious and gazing multitude, and changed them all
into buriers of the dead they came to seek and bewail. To save the
country, himself and his soldiers from pestilence, he hastens the
necessary work of interment. The plains are trenched, and into them the
bodies of the citizens are indiscriminately thrown. There now lie in
narrow space the multitudes of Palmyra.

The mangled bodies of Antiochus, Herennianus and Timolaus have been found
among the slain.

       *       *       *       *       *

We go no longer to the city, but remain at our solitary tower--now however
populous as the city itself. We converse of the past and the future; but
most of my speedy departure for Rome.

It is the purpose of Gracchus to continue for a season yet in the quiet
retreat where he now is. He then will return to the capital, and become
one of those to lay again the foundations of another prosperity.

'Nature,' he says, 'has given to our city a position and resources which,
it seems to me, no power of man can deprive her of, nor prevent their
always creating and sustaining upon this same spot a large population.
Circumstances like the present may oppress and overwhelm for a time, but
time will again revive and rebuild, and embellish. I will not for one sit
down in inactivity or useless grief, but if Aurelian does not hinder,
shall apply the remainder of my days to the restoration of Palmyra. In
Calpurnius and Fausta I shall look to find my lieutenants, prompt to
execute the commissions intrusted to them by their commander.'

'We shall fall behind,' said Calpurnius, 'I warrant you, in no quality of
affection or zeal in the great task.'

'Fausta,' continued Gracchus, 'has as yet no heart but for the dead and
the lost. But, Lucius, when you shall have been not long in Rome, you will
hear that she lives then but among the living, and runs before me and
Calpurnius in every labor that promises advantage to Palmyra.'

'It may be so,' replied Fausta, 'but I have no faith that it will. We have
witnessed the death of our country; we have attended the funeral
obsequies. I have no belief in any rising again from the dead.'

'Give not way, my child,' said Gracchus, 'to grief and despair. These are
among the worst enemies of man. They are the true doubters and deniers of
the gods and their providence, who want a spirit of trust and hope. Hope
and confidence are the best religion, and the truest worship. I who do not
believe in the existence of the gods am therefore to be commended for my
religion more than many of the staunchest defenders of Pagan, Christian,
or Jewish superstitions, who too often, it seems to me, feel and act as if
the world were abandoned of all divine care, and its affairs and events
the sport of a blind chance. What is best for man and the condition of the
world, must be most agreeable to the gods--to the creator and possessor
of the world--be they one or many. Can we doubt which is best for the
remaining inhabitants of Palmyra, and the provinces around which are
dependent upon her trade--to leave her in her ruin finally and utterly to
perish, or apply every energy to her restoration? Is it better that the
sands of the desert should within a few years heap themselves over these
remaining walls and dwellings, or that we who survive should cleanse, and
repair, and rebuild, in the confident hope, before we in our turn are
called to disappear, to behold our beloved city again thronged with its
thousands of busy and laborious inhabitants? Carthage is again populous as
in the days of Hamilcar. You, Fausta, may live to see Palmyra what it was
in the days of Zenobia.'

'The gods grant it may be so!' exclaimed Fausta; and a bright smile at the
vision her father had raised up before her illuminated her features. She
looked for a moment as if the reality had been suddenly revealed to her,
and had stood forth in all its glory.

'I do not despair,' continued Gracchus, 'of the Romans themselves doing
something toward the restoration of that which they have wantonly and
foolishly destroyed.'

'But they cannot give life to the dead, and therefore it is but little
that they can do at best,' said Fausta. 'They may indeed rebuild the
temple of the Sun, but they cannot give us back the godlike form of
Longinus, and kindle within it that intellect that shed light over the
world; they may raise again the walls of the citizen's humble dwelling,
but they cannot re-animate the bodies of the slaughtered multitudes, and
call them out from their trenches to people again the silent streets.'

'They cannot indeed,' rejoined Gracchus; 'they cannot do every thing--they
may not do any thing. But I think they will, and that the Emperor himself,
when reason returns, will himself set the example. And from you, Lucius,
when once more in Rome, shall I look for substantial aid in disposing
favorably the mind both of Aurelian and the Senate.'

'I can never be more happily employed,' I replied, 'than in serving either
you or Palmyra. You will have a powerful advocate also in Zenobia.'

'Yes,' said Gracchus, 'if her life be spared, which must for some time be
still quite uncertain. After gracing the triumph of Aurelian, she, like
Longinus, may be offered as a new largess to the still hungering legions.'

'Nay, there I think, Gracchus, you do Aurelian hardly justice. Although he
has bound himself by no oath, yet virtually is he sworn to spare
Zenobia--and his least word is true as his sword.'

Thus have we passed the last days and hours of my residence here. I should
in vain attempt, my Curtius, to tell you how strongly I am bound to this
place--to this kingdom and city, and above all to those who survive this
destruction. No Palmyrene can lament with more sincerity than I the
whirlwind of desolation that has passed over them, obliterating almost
their place and name--nor from any one do there ascend more fervent
prayers that prosperity may yet return, and these wide-spread ruins again
rise and glow in their ancient beauty. Rome has by former acts of
unparalleled barbarism covered her name with reproach, but by none has
she so drenched it in guilt as by this wanton annihilation--for so do I
regard it--of one of the fairest cities and kingdoms of the earth. The day
of Aurelian's triumph may be a day of triumph to him, but to Rome it will
be a day of never forgotten infamy.



Letter XVIII.

From Piso to Fausta



I trust that you have safely received the letter which, as we entered the
Tiber, I was fortunate enough to place on board a vessel bound directly
to Berytus. In that I have told you of my journey and voyage, and have
said many other things of more consequence still, both to you, Gracchus,
and myself.

I now write to you from my own dwelling upon the Coelian, where I have
been these many days that have intervened since the date of my former
letter. If you have waited impatiently to hear from me again, I hope
that I shall now atone for what may seem a too long delay, by telling
you of those concerning whom you wish chiefly to hear and know--Zenobia
and Julia.

But first let me say that I have found Portia in health, and as happy as
she could be after her bitter disappointment in Calpurnius. This has
proved a misfortune, less only than the loss of our father himself. That a
Piso should live, and be other than a Roman; that he should live and bear
arms against his country--this has been to her one of those
inexplicable mysteries in the providence of the gods that has tasked her
piety to the utmost. In vain has she scrutinized her life to discover what
fault has drawn down upon her and her house this heavy retribution. Yet
her grief is lightened by what I have told her of the conduct of
Calpurnius at Antioch and Emesa. At such times, when I have related the
events of those great days, and the part which my brother took, the pride
of the Roman has yielded to that of the mother, and she has not been able
to conceal her satisfaction. 'Ah,' she would say, 'my brave boy! That was
like him! I warrant Zabdas himself was not greater! What might he not be,
were he but in Rome!'

Portia is never weary with inquiring into every thing relating to yourself
and Gracchus. My letters, many and minute as they have been, so far from
satisfying her, serve only as themes for new and endless conversations, in
which, as well as I am able, I set before her my whole life while in
Palmyra, and every event, from the conversation at the table or in the
porticos, to the fall of the city and the death of Longinus. So great is
her desire to know all concerning the 'hero Fausta,' and so unsatisfying
is the all that I can say, that I shall not wonder if, after the ceremony
of the triumph, she should herself propose a journey to Palmyra, to see
you once more with her own eyes, and once more fold you in her arms. You
will rejoice to be told that she bewails, even with tears, the ruin of the
city, and the cruel massacre of its inhabitants. She condemns the Emperor
in language as strong as you or I should use. The slaughter of Sandarion
and his troops she will by no means allow to be a sufficient justification
of the act. And of her opinion are all the chief citizens of Rome.

I have found Curtius and Lucilia also in health. They are at their villa
upon the Tiber. The first to greet me there were Laco and Coelia. Their
gratitude was affecting and oppressive. Indeed there is no duty so hard as
to receive with grace the thanks of those whom you have obliged. Curtius
is for once satisfied that I have performed with fidelity the part of a
correspondent. He even wonders at my diligence. The advantage is, I
believe for the first time, fairly on my side; though you can yourself
bear testimony, having heard all his epistles, how many he wrote, and with
what vividness and exactness he made Rome to pass before us. I think he
will not be prevented from writing to you by anything I can say. He drops
in every day, Lucilia sometimes with him, and never leaves us till he has
exhausted his prepared questions concerning you, and the great events
which have taken place--there remaining innumerable points to a man of his
exact turn of mind, about which he must insist upon fuller and more
careful information. I think he will draw up a history of the war. I hope
he will--no one could do it better.

Aurelian, you will have heard, upon leaving Palmyra, instead of continuing
on the route upon which he set out toward Emesa and Antioch, turned aside
to Egypt, in order to put down by one of his sudden movements the Egyptian
merchant Firmus, who, with a genius for war greater than for traffic, had
placed himself at the head of the people, and proclaimed their
independence of Rome. As the friend and ally of Zenobia--although he could
render her during the siege no assistance--I must pity his misfortunes and
his end. News has just reached us that his armies have been defeated, he
himself taken and put to death, and his new-made kingdom reduced again to
the condition of a Roman province. We now every hour look to hear of the
arrival of the Emperor and his armies.

Although there has been observed some secrecy concerning the progress and
places of residence of Zenobia, yet we learn with a good degree of
certainty that she is now at Brundusium, awaiting the further orders of
Aurelian, having gone over-land from Byzantium to Apollonia, and there
crossing the Adriatic. I have not been much disturbed by the reports which
have prevailed, because I thought I knew too much of the Queen to think
them well grounded. Yet I confess I have suffered somewhat when, upon
resorting to the capitol or the baths, I have found the principal topic to
be the death of Zenobia--according to some, of grief, on her way from
Antioch to Byzantium--or, as others had it, of hunger, she having
resolutely refused all nourishment. I have given no credit to the rumor,
yet as all stories of this kind are a mixture of truth and error, so in
this case I can conceive easily that it has some foundation in reality,
and I am led to believe from it that the sufferings of the Queen have been
great. How indeed could they be otherwise! A feebler spirit than
Zenobia's, and a feebler frame would necessarily have been destroyed. With
what impatience do I await the hour that shall see her in Rome! I am
happily already relieved of all anxiety as to her treatment by
Aurelian--no fear need be entertained for her safety. Desirous as far as
may be to atone for the rash severity of his orders in Syria, he will
distinguish with every possible mark of honor the Queen, her family, and
such other of the inhabitants of Palmyra as have been reserved to grace
his triumph.

For this august ceremony the preparations are already making. It is the
sole topic of conversation, and the single object toward which seem to be
bent the whole genius and industry of the capital. It is intended to
surpass in magnificence all that has been done by former Emperors or
Generals. The materials for it are collecting from every part of the
empire, and the remotest regions of Asia and Africa. Every day there
arrive cargoes either of wild beasts or of prisoners, destined to the
amphitheatre; illustrious captives also from Asia, Germany and Gaul, among
whom are Tetricus and his son. The Tiber is crowded with vessels bringing
in the treasures drawn from Palmyra--her silver and gold--her statuary and
works of art--and every object of curiosity and taste that was susceptible
of transportation across the desert and the ocean.

It is now certain that the Queen has advanced as far as Tusculum, where
with Julia, Livia, Faustula and Vabalathus, they will remain--at a villa
of Aurelian's it is said--till the day of the triumph. Separation seems
the more painful as they approach nearer. Although knowing that they would
be scrupulously prohibited from all intercourse with any beyond the
precincts of the villa itself, I have not been restrained from going again
and again to Tusculum, and passing through it and around it in the hope to
obtain were it but a distant glimpse of persons to whom I am bound more
closely than to any others on earth. But it has been all in vain. I shall
not see them till I behold them a part of the triumphal procession of
their conqueror.

       *       *       *       *       *

Aurelian has arrived--the long expected day has come--and is gone. His
triumph has been celebrated, and with a magnificence and a pomp greater
than the traditionary glories of those of Pompey, Trajan, Titus, or even
the secular games of Philip.

I have seen Zenobia!

The sun of Italy never poured a flood of more golden light upon the great
capital and its surrounding plains than on the day of Aurelian's triumph.
The airs of Palmyra were never more soft. The whole city was early abroad,
and, added to our own overgrown population, there were the inhabitants of
all the neighboring towns and cities, and strangers from all parts of the
empire, so that it was with difficulty and labor only, and no little
danger too, that the spectacle could be seen. I obtained a position
opposite the capitol, from which I could observe the whole of this proud
display of the power and greatness of Rome.

A long train of elephants opened the show, their huge sides and limbs
hung with cloth of gold and scarlet, some having upon their backs
military towers or other fanciful structures, which were filled with the
natives of Asia or Africa, all arrayed in the richest costumes of their
countries. These were followed by wild animals, and those remarkable for
their beauty, from every part of the world, either led, as in the case of
lions, tigers, leopards, by those who from long management of them
possessed the same power over them as the groom over his horse, or else
drawn along upon low platforms, upon which they were made to perform a
thousand antic tricks for the amusement of the gaping and wondering
crowds. Then came not many fewer than two thousand gladiators in pairs,
all arranged in such a manner as to display to the greatest advantage
their well-knit joints, and projecting and swollen muscles. Of these a
great number have already perished on the arena of the Flavian, and in
the sea fights in Domitian's theatre. Next, upon gilded wagons, and so
arranged as to produce the most dazzling effect, came the spoils of the
wars of Aurelian--treasures of art, rich cloths and embroideries,
utensils of gold and silver, pictures, statues, and works in brass, from
the cities of Gaul, from Asia and from Egypt. Conspicuous here over all
were the rich and gorgeous contents of the palace of Zenobia. The huge
wains groaned under the weight of vessels of gold and silver, of ivory,
and of the most precious woods of India. The jewelled wine cups, vases,
and golden sculpture of Demetrius attracted the gaze and excited the
admiration of every beholder. Immediately after these came a crowd of
youths richly habited in the costumes of a thousand different tribes,
bearing in their hands, upon cushions of silk, crowns of gold and
precious stones, the offerings of the cities and kingdoms of all the
world, as it were, to the power and fame of Aurelian. Following these
came the ambassadors of all nations, sumptuously arrayed in the habits of
their respective countries. Then an innumerable train of captives,
showing plainly in their downcast eyes, in their fixed and melancholy
gaze, that hope had taken its departure from their breasts. Among these
were many women from the shores of the Danube, taken in arms fighting
for their country, of enormous stature, and clothed in the warlike
costume of their tribes.

But why do I detain you with these things, when it is of one only that you
wish to hear. I cannot tell you with what impatience I waited for that
part of the procession to approach where were Zenobia and Julia. I thought
its line would stretch on forever. And it was the ninth hour before the
alternate shouts and deep silence of the multitudes announced that the
conqueror was drawing near the capitol. As the first shout arose, I turned
toward the quarter whence it came, and beheld, not Aurelian as I expected,
but the Gallic Emperor Tetricus--yet slave of his army and of
Victoria--accompanied by the prince his son, and followed by other
illustrious captives from Gaul. All eyes were turned with pity upon him,
and with indignation too that Aurelian should thus treat a Roman, and
once--a Senator. But sympathy for him was instantly lost in a stronger
feeling of the same kind for Zenobia, who came immediately after. You can
imagine, Fausta, better than I can describe them, my sensations, when I
saw our beloved friend--her whom I had seen treated never otherwise than
as a sovereign Queen, and with all the imposing pomp of the Persian
ceremonial--now on foot, and exposed to the rude gaze of the Roman
populace--toiling beneath the rays of a hot sun, and the weight of jewels,
such as both for richness and beauty, were never before seen in Rome--and
of chains of gold, which, first passing around her neck and arms, were
then borne up by attendant slaves. I could have wept to see her so--yes,
and did. My impulse was to break through the crowd and support her almost
fainting form--but I well knew that my life would answer for the rashness
on the spot. I could only therefore, like the rest, wonder and gaze. And
never did she seem to me, not even in the midst of her own court, to blaze
forth with such transcendent beauty--yet touched with grief. Her look was
not that of dejection of one who was broken and crushed by
misfortune--there was no blush of shame. It was rather one of profound
heartbreaking melancholy, Her full eyes looked as if privacy only was
wanted for them to overflow with floods of tears. But they fell not. Her
gaze was fixed on vacancy, or else cast toward the ground. She seemed like
one unobservant of all around her, and buried in thoughts to which all
else were strangers, and had nothing in common with. They were in Palmyra,
and with her slaughtered multitudes. Yet though she wept not, others did;
and one could, see all along, wherever she moved, the Roman hardness
yielding to pity, and melting down before the all-subduing presence of
this wonderful woman. The most touching phrases of compassion fell
constantly upon my ear. And ever and anon as in the road there would
happen some rough or damp place, the kind souls would throw down upon it
whatever of their garments they could quickest divest themselves of, that
those feet, little used to such encounters, might receive no harm. And as
when other parts of the procession were passing by, shouts of triumph and
vulgar joy frequently arose from the motley crowds, yet when Zenobia
appeared, a death-like silence prevailed, or it was interrupted only by
exclamations of admiration or pity, or of indignation at Aurelian for so
using her. But this happened not long. For when the Emperor's pride had
been sufficiently gratified, and just there where he came over against the
steps of the capitol, he himself, crowned as he was with the diadem of
universal empire, descended from his chariot, and, unlocking the chains of
gold that bound the limbs of the Queen, led and placed her in her own
chariot--that chariot in which she had fondly hoped herself to enter
Rome in triumph--between Julia and Livia. Upon this the air was rent with
the grateful acclamations of the countless multitudes. The Queen's
countenance brightened for a moment as if with the expressive sentiment,
'The gods bless you!' and was then buried in the folds of her robe. And
when after the lapse of many minutes it was again raised and turned toward
the people, every one might see that tears burning hot had coursed her
cheeks, and relieved a heart which else might well have burst with its
restrained emotion. Soon as the chariot which held her had disappeared
upon the other side of the capitol, I extricated myself from the crowd and
returned home. It was not till the shades of evening had fallen, that the
last of the procession had passed the front of the capitol, and the
Emperor reposed within the walls of his palace. The evening was devoted to
the shows of the theatres.

Seven days succeeding this first day of the triumph have been devoted to
games and shows. I attended them not, but escaping from the tumult and
confusion of the city, passed them in a very different manner--you will at
once conjecture where and with whom. It was indeed as you suppose in the
society of Zenobia, Julia, and Livia.

What the immediate destination of the Queen was to be I knew not, nor did
any seem to know even so late as the day of the triumph. It was only known
that her treatment was to be lenient. But on the day after, it became
public in the city, that the Emperor had bestowed upon her his magnificent
villa, not far from Hadrian's at Tibur, and at the close of the first day
of the triumph a chariot of Aurelian in waiting had conveyed her there.
This was to me transporting news, as it will be to you.

On the evening of that day I was at Tibur. Had I been a son or a brother,
the Queen could not have received me with more emotion. But I leave it to
you to imagine the first moments of our interview. When our greetings were
over, the first thought, at least the first question, of Zenobia was,
concerning you and Gracchus. All her inquiries, as well as those of Julia,
I was happily able to answer in the most exact manner, out of the fulness
of your letter. When I had finished this agreeable duty, the Queen said,

'Our happiness were complete, as now it can be, could Fausta and Gracchus
be but added to our numbers. I shall hope, in the lapse of days or months,
to entice them away for a season from their melancholy home. And yet what
better can I offer them here? There they behold their city in ruins; here
their Queen. There they already detect some tokens of reviving life; here
they would have before them but the picture of decay and approaching
death. But these things I ought not to say. Piso, you will be glad to
learn the purposes of Aurelian concerning Palmyra. He has already set
apart large sums for the restoration of its walls and temples; and what is
more and better, he has made Gracchus governor of the city and province,
with liberal promises of treasure to carry into effect whatever designs he
may conceive as most likely to people again the silent streets, and fill
them with the merchants of the East and the West.'

'Aurelian, I am persuaded,' I replied, 'will feel upon him the weight of
the strongest motives to do all that he can to repair the injuries he has
inflicted. Then too, in addition to this, his nature is generous.'

'It is so,' said Julia. 'How happy if he had been less subject to his
passions! The proofs of a generous nature you see here, Piso, every where
around us. This vast and magnificent palace, with its extensive grounds,
has he freely bestowed upon us; and here, as your eye has already informed
you, has he caused to be brought and arranged every article of use or
luxury found in the palace of Palmyra, and capable of transportation.'

'I could hardly believe,' I said, 'as I approached the great entrance, and
beheld objects so familiar--still more, when I came within the walls and
saw around me all that I had seen in Palmyra, that I was indeed in the
vicinity of Rome, and had not been by some strange power transported
suddenly to Asia. In the rash violence of Aurelian in Syria, and in this
reparation, both here and there, of the evil he has committed to the
farthest extent possible, you witness a genuine revelation of his
character. Would that principle rather than passion were the governing
power of his life!'

Although I have passed many days at Tibur, yet have I seen but little
of Zenobia. She is silent and solitary. Her thoughts are evidently never
with the present, but far back among the scenes of her former life. To
converse is an effort. The lines of grief have fixed themselves upon her
countenance; her very form and manner are expressive of a soul bowed and
subdued by misfortune. Her pride seems no longer, as on the day of the
triumph, to bear her up. It is Zenobia before me, but--like her own
beautiful capital--it is Zenobia in ruins. That she suffers too from the
reproaches of a mind now conscious of its errors I cannot doubt. She
blames Aurelian, but I am persuaded she blames with no less severity
herself. It is, I doubt not, the image of her desolated country rising
before her, that causes her so often in the midst of discourse with us,
or when she has been sitting long silent, suddenly to start and clasp
her hands, and withdraw weeping to her apartments, or the seclusion of
the garden.

'It will be long, very long,' Julia has said to me, 'before Zenobia will
recover from this grief--if indeed she ever do. Would that the principles
of that faith, which we have learned to believe and prize, were also hers!
Life would then still place before her a great object, which now she
wants. The past absorbs her wholly--the future is nothing. She dwells upon
glories that are departed forever, and is able to anticipate no other, or
greater, in this world--nor with certainty in any beyond it.'

I said, 'But doubtless she throws herself at this season upon her Jewish
faith and philosophy. She has ever spoken of it with respect at least, if
not with affection.'

'I do not,' Julia replied, 'think that her faith in Judaism is of much
avail to her. She has found pleasure in reading the sacred books of the
Jews, and has often expressed warmly her admiration of the great
principles of moral living and of religious belief found in them; but I do
not think that she has derived from them that which she conceives to be
the sum of all religion and philosophy, a firm belief and hope of
immortality. I am sure she has not. She has sometimes spoken as if such a
belief possessed likelihood, but never as if she entertained it in the way
the Christian does.'

       *       *       *       *       *

You will rejoice, dear Fausta, to learn that Zenobia no longer opposes
me; but waits with impatience for the day when I shall be an inmate of
her palace.

What think you is the news to-day in Rome? No other and no less than
this--which you may well suppose has for some time been no news to
me--that Livia is to be Empress! It has just been made public by
authority; and I despatch my letter that you may be immediately informed
of it. It has brought another expression upon the countenance of Zenobia.

Curtius and Lucilia have this moment come in, and full of these tidings
interrupt me--they with Portia wish to be remembered to you with
affection. I shall soon write again--telling you then especially of my
interviews with Aurelian, and of Probus. Farewell.



Note.



Piso, it will be observed, makes no mention of, nor allusion to, the story
recorded by the historian Zosimus, of the Queen's public accusation of
Longinus and the other principal persons of Palmyra, as authors of the
rebellion, in order to save her own life. It is well known that Zenobia,
chiefly on the authority of this historian, has been charged with having
laid upon Longinus and her other counsellors, all the blame of the revolt,
as if she had been driven by them against her will into the course she
pursued. The words of Zosimus are as follows:

'Emisam rediit et Zenobiam cum suis complicibus pro tribunali stitit. Illa
causas exponens, et eulpa semet eximens multos alios in medium protulit,
qui cam veluti fæminam seduxissent; quorum in numero et Longinus
erat.--Itidem alii quos Zenobia detulerat suppliciis adficiebatur.'

This is suspicious upon the face of it. As if Aurelian needed a formal
tribunal and the testimony of Zenobia to inform him who the great men of
Palmyra were, and her chief advisers. Longinus, at least, we may suppose,
was as well known as Zenobia. But if there was a formal tribunal, then
evidence was heard--and not upon one side only, but both. If therefore the
statements of Zenobia were false, there were Longinus and the other
accused persons, with their witnesses, to make it appear so. If they were
true--if she had been overruled--led--or driven--by her advisers, then it
was not unreasonable that punishment--if some must suffer--should fall
where it did.

But against Zosimus may be arrayed the words of Aurelian himself, in a
letter addressed to the Roman senate, and preserved by Pollio. He says,

  'Nec ego illi (Zenobiæ) vitam conservassem nisi cam scissem multum Rom:
  Reip. profuisse, quum sibi vel liberis suis Orientis servaret imperium.'

Aurelian here says that he would not have spared her life but for one
reason, namely, that she had done such signal service to the republic,
when either for herself or for her children she had saved the empire in
the East. Aurelian spared her life, if he himself is to be believed,
_because of services rendered to Rome,_ NOT because by the accusation of
others she had cleared herself of the charge of rebellion. Her life was
never in any danger, if this be true; and unless it were, she of course
had no motive to criminate Longinus in the manner related by Zosimus.

Longinus and his companions suffered therefore, not in consequence of any
special accusation--it was not needed for their condemnation--but as a
matter of course, because they were leaders and directors of the revolt.
It was the usage of war.

Why are Pollio (the biographer of Zenobia) and Vopiscus (the biographer of
Aurelian) and Zonaras all silent respecting so remarkable a point of the
history of Zenobia? Pollio does not hesitate to say that she had been
thought by some to have been partner in the crime of murdering Odenatus
and his son Herod--a charge which never found credit in any quarter. Such
a biographer surely would not have passed over in silence the unutterable
baseness of Zenobia in the accusation of Longinus, if he had ever heard of
it and had esteemed it to have come to him as well vouched at least as the
other story. Omission under such circumstances is good evidence that it
came to him not so well vouched--that is, not vouched at all.

Supposing Zenobia to have been guilty of the crime laid to her charge,
could Aurelian have treated her afterwards in the way he did? He not only
took her to Rome and gave her a palace at Tibur, and the state of a Queen,
but according to some, [Footnote: Filiam (Zenobiæ) unam uxorem duxisse
Aurellanum; cæteras nobilibus Romanis despondisee.--Zonoras, lib. xii.
p. 480.] married one of her daughters. Could he have done all this had
she been the mean, base and wicked woman Zosimus makes her out to be? The
history of this same eastern expedition furnishes a case somewhat in point,
and which may serve to show in what light he would probably have regarded
Zenobia. Tyana, a city of Asia Minor, for a long time resisted all his
attempts to reduce it. At length it was betrayed into his hands by one of
its chief citizens, Heraclammon. How did Aurelian receive and treat him
after entering the city? Let Vopiscus reply: 'Nam et Heraclammon
proditorem patriæ suse sapiens victor occidit.'--'Heraclammon who
betrayed his country the conqueror wisely slew.' But this historian has
preserved a letter of Aurelian, in which he speaks of this same traitor:

'Aurelianus Aug: Mallio Chiloni. Occidi passus sum cujus quasi beneficio
Tyanam recepi. Ego vero proditorem amare non potui; et libenter tuli quod
eum milites occiderunt: neque enim mihi fidem servare potuisset qui patriæ
non pepercit,' etc. He permits Heraclammon to be slain _because he could
not love a traitor_, and _because one who had betrayed his country could
not be trusted_--while Zenobia, if Zosimus is to be believed, whose act
was of the same kind--only infinitely more base--he receives and crowns
with distinguished honor, and marries her daughter!

'Zosime pretend,' says Tillemont, 'que ce fut Zenobie mesme qui se
déchargea sur eux des choses don't on l'accusoit, (ce qui répondroit
bien mal a cette grandeur d'ame qu'on lay attribue.')--Hist, des Emp.
t. II. p. _212_.

The evidence of Zosimus is not of so high a character as justly to weigh
against a strong internal improbability, or the silence of other
historians. Gibbon says of him, 'In good policy we must use the service of
Zosimus without esteeming him or trusting him,' and repeatedly designates
him as 'credulous,' 'partial,' 'disingenuous.' By Tillemont he is called a
'bad authority.'

Nothing would seem to be plainer, than that Aurelian spared Zenobia
because she was a woman; because she was a beautiful and every way
remarkable woman; and as he himself says, because she had protected and
saved the empire in the East; and that he sacrificed Longinus and the
other chief men of Palmyra, because such was the usage of war.

Page 122. Piso speaks of the prowess of Aurelian, and of the songs sung
in the camp in honor of him. Vopiscus has preserved one of these.

  'Mille mille, mille, decollavimus,
  Unus homo mille decollavimus,
  Mille vivat qui mille occidit.
  Tantum vini habet nemo
  Quantum fudit sanguinis.

  'Mille Sarmatas, mille Francos
  Semel et semel occidimus
  Mille Persas quærimus.'

The two letters on pages 135 and 137, it will be observed, are nearly the
same as those found in Vopiscus.

On page 172, Aurelian is designated by a soldier under the nick-name of
'Hand-to-his-Sword.' Vopiscus also mentions this as a name by which he was
known in the army. 'Nam quum essent in exercitu duo Aureliani tribuni,
hic, et alius qui cum Valeriano captus est, huic signum (cognomen)
exercitus apposuerat "Mannus ad ferrum,"' &c.

Page 280. Piso represents Aurelian as wearing a crown. He was the first
since the Tarquins who had dared to invest his brow with that symbol of
tyranny. So says Aurelius Victor. 'Iste primus apud Romanos Diadema capiti
innexuit; gemmisque et aurata omni veste, quod adhuc fere incognitum
Romanis moribus videbatur, usus est.'

On the same page, in the account of the triumph, a chariot of Zenobia is
stated to have been exhibited, in which it was her belief that she should
enter Rome in triumph, which indeed had been made for that very purpose.
This singular fact is confirmed by Vopiscus--'tertius, (currus) quem sibi
Zenobia composuerat sperans se urbem Romanam cum eo visuram; quod eam non
fefellit, nam cum eo urbem ingressa est victa et triumphata.'





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Zenobia; or, the Fall of Palmyra" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home