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Title: Adonijah - A Tale of the Jewish Dispersion.
Author: Strickland, Jane Margaret
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

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[Illustration: ‘Adonijah no longer saw in the person of Lucia Claudia
 the beautiful and beloved object of his secret affections,
 but an idolatrous heathen priestess.’]

                            A D O N I J A H,

                    A TALE OF THE JEWISH DISPERSION.


         “Oh weep for those who wept by Babel’s stream,
          Whose shrines are desolate—whose land a dream
          Weep for the harp of Judah’s broken shell,
          Mourn where their God hath dwelt—the godless dwell.”

         “Hebrew, come forth! dread not the light of day,
          Dread not the insulter’s cry.
          The arch that rose o’er thy captivity,
          No more shall turn thee from thy destined way.”

                             L O N D O N :
             S I M P K I N,  M A R S H A L L,  A N D  C O.
                     IPSWICH: J. M. BURTON AND CO.

                             P R E F A C E.

The period included in the reigns of Nero, Galba, Otho, Vitellius, and
Vespasian, was remarkable for two memorable events in the annals of
ecclesiastical history; the first persecution of the Christian Church by
the sixth Roman sovereign, and the dissolution of the Jewish polity by

The destruction of Jerusalem was stupendous, not only as an act of
divine wrath, but as being the proximate cause of the dispersion of a
whole nation, upon which a long series of sorrow, spoliation, and
oppression lighted, in consequence of the curse the Jews had invoked,
when in reply to the remonstrances of Pilate they had cried out, “His
blood be upon us and our children.” The church below, represented in
Scripture as a type of the heavenly Jerusalem above, and having its seat
then in the doomed city, was not to continue there, lest the native Jews
composing it should gather round them a people of their own nation, in a
place destined to remain desolate till the time when the dispersed of
Israel should be converted, and rebuild their city and temple. The city
bearing the ancient name of Jerusalem does not indeed occupy the same
site, being built round the sacred spot where the garden once stood, in
which a mortal sepulchre received the lifeless form of the Saviour of
the world.

But happier times seem dawning on the dispersed of Judea. Our own days
have seen the foundations of a Jewish Christian church laid in
Jerusalem; our Queen Victoria and the King of Prussia united to commence
a work of love, thereby fulfilling in part the promise made to the Jews
of old, “And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and queens thy nursing
mothers.” To those readers who feel interested in the dispersed of
Israel and Judea, these pages may afford, perhaps, information on an
important subject as well as amusement.

    _March, 1856_.

                            A D O N I J A H.

                               CHAPTER I.

                “But woe to hill, and woe to vale,
                 Against them shall go forth a wail!
                 And woe to bridegroom, and to bride,
                 For death shall on the whirlwind ride!
                 And woe to thee, resplendent shrine,
                 The sword is out for thee and thine!”

The splendid regnal talents undoubtedly possessed by the Emperor Nero,
and the great architectural genius he displayed in rebuilding his
capital, had not atoned in the eyes of the Romans for the flagitiousness
of his character.

His public munificence to the people, whom a mighty conflagration had
rendered homeless, met with no gratitude, because he was believed to be
the author of the calamity which had levelled the ancient city with the
dust. This sweeping charge has no real historical foundation; and
perhaps if the Emperor had not profited by the general misfortune, such
a wild conjecture would never have been recorded nor believed.

His appropriation of a large part of the ground-plot, whereon to found
his Golden House and its stately parks and gardens, gave to the vague
report colour and stability; therefore Nero, finding no assertion of his
could disprove the imputation, resolved to fix it upon a class little
known and less regarded—a people composed of all ranks and nations, yet
united by a peculiar faith in one brotherhood of love. Nero was no
stranger to the vital doctrines of Christianity; he had heard St. Paul,
when the mighty Apostle of the Gentiles had stood before his
tribunal,—to which circumstance allusion has been made by himself in
the Second Epistle to Timothy, “And I was delivered out of the lion’s
mouth.”[1] Since that momentous period the heart of Nero had become hard
and inaccessible to mercy; for the conversion of his favourite mistress
and his cup-bearer by St. Paul had awakened his undying hatred against
the Christian religion and its teachers.[2]

His terrible persecution had shocked a people accustomed to spectacles
of horror. “Humanity relented”, remarks Tacitus, “in favour of the
Christians,”—an expression which does not, however, imply that
Christianity was tolerated, but that its professors were no longer
sought for to load the cross or feed the flames.

The Church at this period, thinned in Rome by the martyrdoms of the
fearful Saturnalia the Emperor had kept in his imperial gardens some
years before, was scattered abroad or hidden in the Arenaria, its
existence being only known by isolated cases brought before the
tribunals of Helius and his infamous colleague Tigellinus for judgment.

Its influence, however apparently limited, was not unfelt; for in the
midst of the blindness of Atheism and idolatry the light shone out,
though surrounded by darkness—darkness that might be felt. The
prophecies were fast accomplishing which the Divine Head of the Church
had spoken respecting the Jews; for the inexpiable war had begun, and
the sword of the Gentile was mowing down the thousands of Israel.

During his progress through Greece, the sight of the Isthmus of Corinth
inspired Nero with the gigantic idea of cutting a barrier through, which
occasioned an impediment to commerce, and rendered the navigation
difficult and dangerous to the mariner.[3] This undertaking has been
left incomplete—a vast work to be effected perhaps in modern times, in
which science has achieved wonders never before accomplished by mere
human labour.

The prejudices the Romans cherished against the man who had degraded the
sovereign by singing on the stage, made a project so grand and useful
appear a mad and ridiculous design. Nero, bending all his natural energy
to this object, either did not care for, or remained ignorant of, the
opinion of his subjects. He despatched letters to the prefect of Rome
for labourers to be supplied from the public prisons, and Corbulo and
Vespasian, his lieutenants in Armenia and Judea, received his imperial
orders for the instant transmission to Corinth of the captives they had
taken in the Parthian and Jewish wars.

The plan of cutting through the Isthmus was not, however, popular with
the people it was intended to benefit; for the Corinthians ventured to
remind the Emperor that Demetrius Poliorcetes, Julius Cæsar, and
Caligula had in succession made the attempt, but had fallen by the sword
soon after the work had commenced.

To a man of genius, ambitious of distinction, and possessed of the
resources of a vast empire, these objections appeared of little moment,
and Nero deemed his star too fortunate to set, like that of those
princes, untimely in blood. He was not only animated by the hope of
bequeathing a vast work of great public utility to posterity, but
revelled in the pleasurable idea of gratifying his vanity by exhibiting
himself before a vast concourse in the amiable light of a benefactor to
Greece, Asia, and indeed to the whole world.

It was seldom Nero appeared in the appropriate costume of a Roman
Emperor, the use of the imperial mantle of Tyrian purple and golden
laurel being strictly confined by him to state occasions. A loose robe,
dishevelled ringlets, and bare feet suited his notions of comfort, and
ordinarily composed his attire; but the occasion seemed to demand more
attention to outward appearance than he generally thought proper to
bestow. He resumed, with the imperial costume, an elegance natural to
him, and would have successfully represented the majesty of the greatest
throne of the universe, if he had not resolved to display the sweetness
of his voice to the vast multitude during the imposing ceremonial of
opening the trench intended to divide the Isthmus. Arrayed in purple,
the golden laurel-wreath of the Cæsars encircling his unwarlike brow, he
advanced towards the shore, singing a hymn in praise of the marine
deities, holding in his hand the gold pickaxe with which he designed to
break the virgin ground. Amidst the lengthened plaudits of a vast
multitude, Nero struck the first stroke into the earth, and raising a
basket of sand upon his imperial shoulder looked proudly round him as if
to claim a second burst of applause from flattering Greeks and
degenerate Romans.

The clapping of hands and loud acclamations his admonitory glance
demanded rent the air, and were echoed back from the surrounding
mountains, to hail the exertions of the master of the world. Even the
unhappy workmen, instructed by their taskmasters, swelled with their
voices and fingers the flattering plaudit. One voice alone was mute; for
Adonijah, a captive Hebrew, was new to slavery and despised the
effeminate tyrant whom the chances of war had made the arbiter of his
destiny. The ears of Nero, ringing with the adulatory huzza, perceived
not the omission, but his quick restless eye caught for an instant among
the crowd of workmen the scornful smile that curled the proud lip of the
Jew; then lost his features in the dense mass of labourers surrounding
him, whose hands were intended to complete what his imperial ones had
begun. Yet, though swallowed up in those living waves, the form, the
noble outline, of Adonijah dwelt in the memory of Nero; for never had he
beheld hatred, scorn, and despair united with such manly and heroic

Who was this unknown slave who disdained the Emperor of Rome? Nero
frowned as he internally asked the question; the self-abhorrent feeling
that often made him a burden to himself was stealing over him, even in
the face of this triumphant day, when the well-timed flattery of Julius
Claudius, a young patrician who stood high in his favour, dispelled the
gathering cloud on the imperial brow, and restored Nero to himself. The
example of Julius was followed by the court; and the sovereign,
forgetting the cause of his disquiet, left Adonijah to breathe a foreign
air and to mingle the bitter bread of captivity with weeping.

Jerusalem, that holy city, over whose coming miseries the Lord of life
had wept, was now “encompassed round with” the “armies” of the Gentile.
The time of her desolation was at hand, and “the cup of the Lord’s fury”
like a torrent was overflowing the land. The very heavens showed fearful
signs of her approaching doom, for nightly a blazing star, resembling a
sword, hung over the devoted city, while the cry of “Woe, woe to the
inhabitants of Jerusalem!” rang through every street. Yet her fanatic
tribes still confidently expected the coming of the Messiah, still
obstinately contested every foot of their beloved land.

Never had Rome, since she first flew her conquering eagles, encountered
a foe so fiercely determined to be free. Bent upon exterminating the
Roman name, the Jew, whenever he gained a transitory advantage, left no
foe to breathe. From the hour in which he conquered Cestius Gallus and
his legions he never sheathed the sword, but obstinately maintained the
contest till the prophecies were fulfilled, and “Zion became a heap of

The time of the dispersion of the tribes of Israel was then about to be
accomplished; and the recent victories of Vespasian had given the first
fruits of the glory and beauty of the Holy Land into the enemy’s hand.
Among these Adonijah was numbered, for he had been taken in arms at
Jotapata;[4] but, unlike its obsequious governor Josephus, disdained to
receive favour or pay servile homage to the conquering Roman general.

He had, during the siege, more than once scornfully rejected the
overtures of Vespasian, who vainly tried to seduce him from his duty.
Nay, more, when an apostate Jew without the walls, once numbered among
his chosen friends, dared, at the bidding of the victor, to tamper with
his honour, a javelin, flung with so true an aim that it reached the
traitor’s heart and pinned him to the ground, was the only answer the
bold young leader deigned to give to the infamous suggestion.

Something like enthusiasm warmed the cold bosom of Vespasian when
informed of the tragical fate of his messenger, and a desire to converse
with the heroic stripling whose fidelity was so incorruptible made him
command his soldiers, when about to storm the city, to take him alive—a
solitary exception of mercy to the general order of the day.

Adonijah, throughout the carnage of that dreadful assault, vainly sought
the sole reward that Jewish valour might then claim—a warrior’s grave.
His parents, his kindred, his faithful friends, all perished with
Jotapata, while he was delivered alive and unwounded into Vespasian’s
hands. Bold, haughty, zealous of the law—a Pharisee in sect, and
despising all other nations—to be taken captive by the Gentile
conqueror was bitterer than death to Adonijah, who, like Job, “cursed
his day” and fiercely resented his preservation.

Vespasian, who hoped to make his captive a means to gain over his
countrymen, commanded Josephus, the late governor of the conquered city,
to visit and induce him by his eloquence and learning to favour his

Adonijah received his old commander with lively affection and devoted
respect. All that man could do had been done by Josephus, and his young
partisan shed tears while he pressed him to his bosom; but when his
revered chief spake of submission to the Roman yoke, and hinted things
still less consistent with the duty of a patriot, he turned away with
indignation, sorrow, and contempt, nor would he again listen to the man
who had ceased to love his country.

Then Vespasian himself, accompanied by his son Titus, condescended to
visit his captive, but he too found him alike insensible to threats or
promises. He charged his prisoner with ingratitude.

“Ingratitude!” scornfully reiterated the Hebrew. “You have left nothing
breathing to claim near kindred with Adonijah. The last sound that smote
mine ear as your people were leading me away a fettered captive, was the
cry of my virgin sister. A Roman ruffian’s hand was twisted in her
consecrated locks, his sword was glittering over her devoted head; I
heard her cry, but could not save her from his fury. O Tamar! O my
sister! Would to God I had died for thee, my sister! Such are the deeds,
vindictive Roman, for which thou claimest my gratitude: but know, I hate
existence, and loathe thee for prolonging mine.”

Incensed by the boldness of this language, Vespasian included his
intractable prisoner in the number of those captives[5] required by Nero
to carry into effect his projected scheme of cutting through the Isthmus
of Corinth.

Bitterer than death, bitterer even than slavery, were the feelings that
wrung the bosom of the exile as he turned a last look upon the land of
his nativity. All he loved had perished there by the sword, yet he did
not, he could not regret them, while he felt the chains of the Gentile
around his impatient limbs. They were free—they would rise again and
inherit the paradise of the faithful—while he must wither in slavery.
No soft emotion for any fair virgin of his people shared the indignant
feelings of his heart at this moment, though patriotism claimed not all
his burning regret; for ungratified revenge, that ought at least to have
had a Roman for its object, occasioned a part of his present grief.

Born of the house and lineage of David, Adonijah gloried in his proud
descent, “though the sceptre had departed from Judah,” and the base
Idumean line reigned on the throne of her ancient kings. Ithamar, a
young leader in the Jewish war, boasting the same advantages, rivalled
him in arms, and from a rival became his enemy. Both were obstinately
bent on delivering their country from a foreign yoke, and for that end
would have shed their blood drop by drop—would have done anything but
give up their animosity.

It is difficult to define from what cause this unnatural hatred and
rivalry sprang up. Perhaps it derived its source from religious
differences, Adonijah being a strict Pharisee, Ithamar a Sadducee, and
both were bigoted to the peculiar doctrines of their several sects.
Their individual hatred, however, bore a more decided character than
that they cherished against Rome. Those who are acquainted with the
dreadful records of the last days of Jerusalem will not be surprised at
the ill-feeling here described as existing between Adonijah and Ithamar.

The moral justice of the Pharisee of that day was comprised in the
well-known maxim, “Thou shalt love thy friend, and hate thine enemy;” an
axiom adopted by the rival Sadducee in the same spirit, and acted upon
with equal fidelity. A perfect unanimity in this one respect existing
between the disciples of these differing sects.

The idea that Ithamar would rejoice in his degradation was like fire to
the proud heart of Adonijah, who shook his chained hands in impotent
despair as the mortifying thought intruded upon him. Must he then die
unrevenged, and be led into captivity, while Ithamar enjoyed freedom? He
wrapped his face in his mantle, and sank into a state of sullen gloom,
whose darkness no beam of hope could penetrate. Yet, in the true spirit
of the Pharisee, even while longing to gratify revenge—the worst
passion that can defile the human heart—he considered himself a perfect
follower of the holy law of God.


[1] Hegesippus, the earliest ecclesiastical historian,—quoted by
Eusebius,—establishes the fact that an interval of years elapsed
between the first and second appearance of St. Paul before the imperial

[2] The reader will find this curious fact in the works of Clemens
Alexandrinus and Chrysostom. It is quoted also by Doddridge.

[3] See Appendix, Note I.

[4] See Appendix, Note II.

[5] See Appendix, Note III.

                              CHAPTER II.

                 “Night is the time for care;
                    Brooding on hours misspent,
                  To see the spectre of despair
                    Come to our lonely tent,
                Like Brutus, midst his slumbering host,
                Startled by Cæsar’s stalwart ghost.”
                                         J. MONTGOMERY.

The Emperor of Rome was intensely jealous of the fame of the great Roman
to whom he had given an immense share of power, little indeed inferior
to that formerly granted by the senate to Pompey the Great. He did not
distrust the commander of whose probity he had received so many proofs;
but the splendid career of Domitius Corbulo excited odious comparisons
between the sovereign and his lieutenant. His dislike was well known to
his confidants, and by them was communicated to Arrius Varus, a brave
but unprincipled young man, who, thinking it afforded him an opportunity
of pushing his own fortunes at Corbulo’s expense, secretly accused his
commander of treason, in a letter addressed to the emperor himself.

Nero did not believe the accusation, and he was undecided respecting the
use to which he should put it; for he required the services of his
lieutenant in the East, and had not quite made up his mind to kill the
man whom Tiridates had styled “a most valuable slave.” He resolved to be
guided by circumstances, and contented himself with writing to Domitius
Corbulo a pressing invitation to visit his court at Corinth.[6] With the
profound dissimulation in which Nero was an adept, he informed him of
the accusation made by Varus, assuring him at the same time that he did
not believe in its truth. The apparent frankness and generosity of his
sovereign made the impression he had intended on the honourable mind of
his general, who came to Corinth without the slightest suspicion of any
sinister design entertained by Nero. He was accompanied by a few friends
alone, and without a guard. Among those individuals who were honoured by
his confidence was a military tribune or colonel, named Lucius Claudius,
whose distant relationship to the emperor gave him some importance in
the eyes of the Roman people; a cadet of a house associated by its
greatness or guilt with every page of the republican and imperial
history,—which had given to Rome more consuls, dictators, and censors
than any other line,—which boasted Appius Cæcus, and Nero, the
conqueror of Asdrubal,—and of which also had sprung Appius Claudius the
decemvir, Clodius the demagogue, Tiberius the emperor, Drusus and
Germanicus, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero. Lucius Claudius had apparently
entered life under peculiarly fortunate circumstances; though the
military tribune did not resemble in character his ambitious ancestral
race. The men we have just cited of the proud Claudian line were before
their times, while he was behind those in which he lived. His noble
temper, frank, generous, fearless, and true, had been formed by his
revered commander, by whom Lucius had been trained to arms; his life had
been passed in the camp, far from the corruption of Nero’s court and
capital. His father was no more, his brother Julius, one of Nero’s
dissipated companions, was with the emperor at Corinth, and his sister
Lucia Claudia was the youngest of the vestal priestesses, but he had not
seen her since the hour in which she was dedicated to Vesta.

Lucius came to Corinth, like his commander, without distrust or
apprehension, for Nero was beloved in the provinces; his guilt, his
licentiousness, were little known on the distant Roman frontier; and
when Corbulo requested an audience of his sovereign, he had employed the
interval in seeking for his brother. Upon learning that Julius Claudius
was in the theatre, witnessing the imperial performance, he had retired
to take the repose his weary frame required.

Nero, when he received intelligence of his lieutenant’s arrival, was
dressed for the stage, in the habit proper to the comic part he was
about to perform. The unsuitableness of his garb to that of a Roman
emperor, about to give audience to the greatest commander of the time,
and the impossibility of denying himself to a man like Domitius Corbulo,
decided the fate of his general. Nero took the easiest way of settling a
difficult point of etiquette, by sending a centurion with the imperial
mandate, commanding his officer to end his days.

Corbulo without a guard or means of defence, received the ungrateful
message with the stoical fortitude of an ancient Roman. “I have deserved
this,” was his brief remark to his friends as he fell upon his sword.
Nero went on the stage to play his part out, and in its comic excitement
forgot the tragedy of which he had made his brave lieutenant the hero.
The plaudits of his audience were at length over, and Nero, withdrawing
to his dormitory, gave the watchword, and received the report from the
centurion on duty of Corbulo’s death. The last speech of his lieutenant
awakened a throng of conflicting passions in his bosom; he called for
wine and drank deeply to drown remorse, but instead of the oblivion he
sought, he became franticly delirious and rushed forth into the midnight
air, none of his attendants daring to detain or follow their miserable
prince, who, passing through the streets with mad precipitation, never
halted till he found himself near the scene of his labours, the Isthmian
trench. The beauty of the moonlight, the deep stillness of the night,
undisturbed even by a wandering breeze, allayed the fever in the
emperor’s throbbing veins. Thousands were sleeping around him, sleeping
in their chains. He contemplated the toil-worn wretches with feelings of
envy. He gazed intently upon them as they lay fettered in pairs upon the
earth, and as his mind became more calm he examined their features with
curiosity and interest. In sleep the mask, habitual cunning or reserve
wears by day, is thrown off, and the true character may be distinctly
traced. On the brows of the Roman criminals their crimes were legibly
written. Pride, sensuality, rapacity, cunning, and cruelty, marked them
as the outcasts of the corrupt and wicked city, the spiritual Babylon.
The Jewish captives, who were all young and chosen men, bore the
expression of sullen gloom, unsatisfied revenge, defiance, indignation,
and despair; and even in slumber murmured, complained, or acted again
the strife they had maintained so vainly against the Roman arms. One
alone of all these thousands smiled, and he was the noblest and fairest
of them all. From his parted lips a holy strain of melody broke forth,
then died away in imperfect murmurs; but the listening tyrant recognised
in the sleeper the slave whose scornful look had awakened his angry
passions on the day when he opened the trench. Adonijah’s dreams are of
his own land. He is going up to Jerusalem, to keep the feast of the
Passover. His slaughtered brethren are with him, and Tamar, that fair
and virgin sister, that Nazarite dedicated from childhood to the Lord,
is dancing before them with the timbrel in her hand, singing, “I was
glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord.”
Suddenly, with the capriciousness of fancy, the scene changes. Again he
hears the war-cry of his own people, again hangs upon the flying legions
of Cestius Gailus, captures the idol standard, and calls upon the name
of the Messiah, the promised deliverer of Israel. He comes, the mighty,
the long-expected. The Romans are driven forth from the sacred soil, the
valley of Hamoth Gog is full of slaughter, and Adonijah hails the king
of Judah, the anointed one of the Lord, with holy joy. But swifter than
lightning vanishes the glorious vision from his sight, he awakes, and
finds himself a slave in a foreign land.

He looked around him doubtfully. The land before him is like the garden
of Eden, and the breezes that fan his glowing cheek are fresh and balmy
as those that wander over his beloved Judea. The mountains, whose
summits are gilded in the radiant moonlight, remind him of those that
encompass the holy city. His perception is still visionary and
indistinct, the blue waves on either side the Isthmus, the scene of his
labours, his raven locks wet with the dews of night, appeal to his
scattered senses. The chains upon his free-born limbs sullenly clank as
he rises from the earth, memory resumes her powers, he remembers that he
is a slave.

Despair seizes upon his heart, his thoughts revert to his beloved
sister. He no longer sees her bounding along the rocky heights in all
the beauty of holiness and youthful enthusiasm, her form graceful as the
palm-tree, from which she derives her name, but mentally views her
sinking beneath the cruel sword of the Gentile. Her cry is in his ears,
and again he utters the bitter cry, “O Tamar! O my sister! would to God
that I had died with thee, my sister! Why was I not buried beneath the
ruins of Jotapata? Why am I cast forth like an abominable branch to
wither in this strange land?”

The wretched Hebrew sank upon the ground, wrapped his face in his
garment, and sobbed aloud in the bitterness of his heart.

Though the emperor was ignorant of the language in which these words
were spoken, he knew they were the accents of despair. A few minutes
since he believed himself to be the most wretched man in his wide
dominions, but this slave appeared as miserable, was he as guilty? as
himself; for Nero, burdened with his crimes, felt that utter misery can
only dwell with sin.

He addressed the slave in the Greek language, and bade him declare the
cause of his passionate complaints.

Surprised, and not immediately recognising the emperor, who was still
attired as a comedian, Adonijah unveiled his convulsed features and
replied in the same tongue, one which was familiar to him.

“Why troublest thou me with questions? I was free—I am a slave. I had
kindred ties—I am alone among the thousands of Israel. I had a God, and
he has forsaken me. Whose sorrow can be compared to my sorrow? who among
the children of men can be compared in misery to me?”

A wild scornful laugh broke upon the ear of Adonijah, who started upon
his feet and gazed upon the figure, doubtful whether the being before
him was of earthly mould or one of those evil spirits who were believed
to haunt unfrequented places. In breaking the ground groans were said to
have been heard, and blood had been seen to issue as from fresh wounds,
and apparitions had warned the workmen to forbear. Superstitious
feelings crept over the bold spirit of Adonijah; he pronounced the name
of God and looked once more upon the countenance of the emperor. The
wild expression of derision was gone, despair alone pervaded it. The
features, the brow, were beautiful, but it was beauty stained with sin;
the lineaments were youthful, though marked with an age of crime; the
sneer on the lip bespoke scorn of himself and all mankind, but the eye
was cruel, and expressed lawless power rather than princely majesty;
although, degraded as he was, there was still an air that showed he had
been accustomed to command. In this second glance Adonijah recognised
the master of the Roman world.

“Is this all thy sum of care, and darest thou claim from Nero the
supremacy of sorrow?” continued the prince. “Slave, thou art happier in
thy chains than Cæsar on his throne! Dost thou see the dagger of the
assassin lurking under the garments of every person who approaches thee?
Art thou loathed by those who flatter thee, and secretly cursed by those
who bend the knee before thee? Hast thou plunged in all riot, known all
vice, revelled in all luxury, and only found satiety and loathing? Hast
thou found pleasure weariness, happiness a chimera, and virtue an empty
name? Speak, audacious slave.”

“Not so, Cæsar, for all the commandments of my God I have kept unbroken
from my youth,” returned the self-righteous Hebrew. “Happiness dwells
not with excess, for as Solomon saith, ‘Better is the wise poor man than
the son of a king that doeth evil.’ Thou art wretched because thou art

“Once, once I was innocent,” groaned the emperor; “years of sin have not
effaced the recollection of that blessed time. No indignant phantom then
banished slumber from my pillow, for I was guiltless in those happy
hours. Then came ambition, and I grasped the imperial sceptre, and
stained my hands with blood, innocent blood. My mother, my wife, my
kindred, all perished. Rome was laid in ashes, but not by me; but the
Christians died to remove from me the imputation of that crime. Hark!
hear you not those cries? See you not a ghostly train approaching?” The
eyes of the horror-stricken emperor fearfully expanded, he grasped the
arm of the slave, muttering, “’Tis Agrippina, ’tis my mother; the
scorpion-whip is in her hand, she comes, she comes to torture me.
Octavia, gentle Octavia, stay her relentless hand. Mother, spare your
wretched son. I did not bid them slay thee; it was the men you gave me
for my guides that urged me to that crime.” Cold drops stood on the brow
of the emperor, the muscles of his throat worked frightfully, and while
he leaned against the person of Adonijah for support, the Hebrew felt
the agonized and audible pulsation of his heart thrill through his own
nerves. From this momentary trance of horror the terrors of conscience
again awakened Nero. “Thou, too,” shrieked he—“thou, too, Corbulo—dost
thou pursue me?” Then, with a cry of horror that dispelled slumber from
every weary eye, he fled in frantic haste from the new phantom his
delirious horror had created.

“This is the hand of God,” said Adonijah, turning his eyes on the
awakened thousands, amongst whom he might have vainly sought for guilt
or woe like Nero’s. Even his own misery was nothing in comparison to the
terrors that haunted the bosom of the master of the world.

The murmured inquiry that passed along that chained host was like the
sound of many waters, but died away instantly into such stillness that
the murmur of the waves might be distinctly heard on either shore. The
strangely mingled multitude, composed of every creed and nation, looked
anxiously around, then pointing to the earth, from whose inmost cavities
they superstitiously imagined these shrieks had issued, sank down upon
her bosom to sleep and dream of home. Adonijah alone knew the cries came
from the tortured spirit of the mighty potentate who ruled the kingdoms
of the world, and he remained awake. He had lost his partner in
misfortune by death, and no unhappy countryman shared his chain—a
circumstance that left him more liberty than those whose deep slumbers
he vainly envied.


[6] See Appendix, Note IV.

                              CHAPTER III.

           “The Jews, like their bigoted sires of yore,
            By gazing on the clouds, their God adore:
            Our Roman customs they contemn and jeer,
            But learn and keep their country rites with fear.
            That worship only they in reverence have,
            Which in dark volumes their great Moses gave.
              So they are taught, and do it to obey
            Their fathers, who observe the Sabbath-day.”

The morrow was the Sabbath of the Lord. Unused to labour, the toil-worn
Hebrew slaves hailed its approach with joy. Even a Roman enemy had
respected the sacred day of rest, but the bosom of Nero was a stranger
to the generous feelings of Titus. The boon the prisoners confidently
expected he would concede to them was peremptorily refused, and the work
was commanded to be carried on as on other days. The Hebrews looked upon
each other in silence, and with dejected countenances took up their
tools, groaning within themselves, yet preparing to obey the mandate of
the emperor. Adonijah contemplated these preparations with a glance, in
which pity, indignation, surprise, and contempt were strangely blended.
The burning blush of shame overspread his fine countenance as he cried,
“Will ye indeed sin against the Lord, my brethren, and disobey his
commandment at the bidding of a heathen master?”

Some of the captives sighed and pointed to their chains; others boldly
averred “that it was useless to serve a God who had utterly forsaken
them;” the timid reminded Adonijah that resistance would be vain, that
they must obey Cæsar or perish miserably.

“Better is it for ye to die, O house of Israel, than to suffer such
bitter bondage. Death is to be chosen rather than sacrilege. The Lord of
Hosts perchance hath only hidden his face from us for a little while,
and may yet turn our captivity as the rivers in the south. We are too
many to be given up to the sword; the tyrant cannot spare our labours
from his vain attempt.” The ardent youth paused and looked around him
upon his countrymen, hoping to excite a kindred feeling among the
children of his people.

Sighs and groans alone met his ear, like the last wail of crushed and
broken hearts—hearts that felt their degradation, but that could not
yet resolve to die.

“Hearken to me, my countrymen,” continued the speaker; “this Nero, whom
ye fear more than Jehovah, hath nearly filled up the measure of his
crimes. I saw him last night, when the terror of the Lord was upon him,
driven forth to wander like the impious king of Babylon in madness and
misery, and will ye obey such a one rather than God?”

The sullen Jews gave him no reply, but silently resumed their detested

Burning tears of indignation filled the eyes of the devoted and
enthusiastic Adonijah. He threw himself upon the earth, exclaiming as he
did so, “Here will I hallow the Sabbath of the Lord, even in the midst
of this idolatrous land will I glorify His name.”

“What are you about to do, rash man?” said a military tribune,
approaching Adonijah, and accosting him through the medium of the Greek

“To die,” replied the Hebrew, undauntedly regarding the interrogator.

“For what?” remarked Lucius Claudius sarcastically, “for a mere
superstitious observance that doubtless took its rise from an indolent
love of ease.”

“No, Roman, no,” returned the captive, “our Sabbath was hallowed and
ordained by God Himself when He rested from all His works upon the
seventh day, and pronounced them good. The first Sabbath was celebrated
by the holy angels, for it is written, ‘The morning stars sang together,
and all the sons of God shouted for joy.’”

Lucius Claudius put back with his hand the lictors who approached to
seize Adonijah, and then drawing nearer to the Hebrew, said in a low
voice, “I have heard strange things respecting the worship ye pay some
unknown god in the temple at Jerusalem. ’Tis said that Antiochus
Epiphanes found there the image of a vile animal in the secret place ye
call the Holy of Holies.”

“Roman, ’tis false,” replied the slave. “We worship the great First
Cause, the Source of light and life—the creative and preserving Power
who formed the universe and all that is therein, and continually
sustaineth by His good providence the things that He hath made, and we
worship Him under no similitude, for nothing is worthy in heaven above,
nor earth beneath, to typify His glorious majesty.”

The tribune listened to this description of the only true God with the
ear of a man who hears surprising truths for the first time in his life,
which he neither rejects altogether, nor receives. Like Felix, he
contented himself with saying, “I will hear thee again on this matter;”
adding, “Take the counsel of a Roman who wishes you well, resume your
labours, which it shall be the care of Lucius Claudius to lighten, and
look for better times.” Thus saying, he placed the tools that lay near
Adonijah in that daring Hebrew’s hand, with the air of a man more
accustomed to command than persuade.

Adonijah put them back with a gesture indicative of horror. “No,
generous Roman, I cannot break a Commandment which has been hallowed by
me from my youth; I have fought for my faith and my country, I will die
as I have lived, true to the God of my forefathers.”

“You have been a warrior, and death appears less dreadful to a soul like
yours than slavery; but look around you, Hebrew, for it is no soldier’s
death that is preparing for you; to a lofty mind the shame of the
scourge and the cross is bitterer even than the torturing pangs they

The lofty glow of enthusiasm faded from the flushed cheek of Adonijah,
and the spirit that could have endured the sharpest pangs unmoved,
shrank in horror from the idea of disgrace; but this weakness was
momentary, the next instant he raised his majestic head and said, “Be it
so, be mine that doom of shame, for even that will I endure for the
honour of my God.”

A tear glistened in the manly eye of Lucius Claudius, but he was
evidently ashamed of the unwonted guest, for he hastily dashed away the
intruding witness of his sympathy. “Why were you not a Roman, noble
youth?” cried he; then after a pause, he added, “If I can procure your
freedom, will you cease to be an enemy to Rome.”

“Not while your idol ensigns pollute the hills of Judea can I cease to
be a foe to Rome. Released from slavery, I should again wage war with
your people, and fight or die in defence of the land that gave me

“Then you would disdain to serve me, though the bonds of friendship
should soften those of slavery. Tell me why a haughty warrior could
submit to chains at all? I had thrown myself upon my sword; but perhaps
life then had charms.”

“Suicide is held in abomination by us Jews,” replied Adonijah, “for we
know the spirit shall survive the grave; to be united again to the body
at the resurrection, when every man shall be judged according to his
works. The Gentiles, plunged in dark idolatry, are ignorant of this
great truth, and therefore, shrinking from the trials of adversity, to
avoid the lesser evil rush upon the greater. Life for me has no charms,
though I endure its burden. Seest thou yonder tree, over which the storm
hath lately passed? In its days of strength and beauty it was a fitting
emblem of Adonijah, so now in its ruin you may behold a lively image of
his desolation. Like him it still exists, though like him it will never
renew its branches, or fulfil the glorious promise of its youth. Yet,
generous Roman, I should not refuse to serve him who would save me from
a shameful and accursed death.”

The reverence and self-devotion of Adonijah for the Supreme Being was
perfectly unintelligible to the tribune, whose mind, although it had
shaken off the superstitious idolatry of his ancestors, was deeply
infected with the atheistical philosophy of the times. Matter was the
only divinity the young soldier acknowledged; for Lucius Claudius
believed either “that there were no gods, or gods that cared not for
mankind.” The existence of the soul after death, and a future state of
reward and punishment, had never been entertained by him for a moment.
The heathen mythology indeed darkly inculcated these two great points of
faith, but Lucius Claudius derided the heathen deities whose attributes
rather gave him the idea of bad men exercising ill-gotten power than
those which his reason ascribed to divinity. Murder, rapine, lust, and
cruelty, that in life deserved, in his opinion, the scourge and cross,
had been deified by flattering men after death. Yet, though refusing to
pay any worship to the host of idols Rome with blind stupidity had
gathered from all the countries she had conquered, Lucius Claudius had
dedicated his fair young sister to the service of Vesta before his
departure for the Parthian war, either from the idea prevalent among
free-thinking men, even in our day, that women ought to be religious, or
that he thought to secure Lucia Claudia from those snares which a
corrupt city like Rome offered to her youth and beauty. Julius Claudius,
the younger brother of the tribune, was esteemed too careless and
dissolute a character to be intrusted with the guardianship of a lady of
whose family every daughter had been chaste.

Lucius bribed the lictors to delay the execution of the refractory slave
till he had spoken to the emperor, and departed to consult with his
brother respecting the means to be taken with Nero, to avert the doom of
a person whose constancy he deemed worthy even of the ancient Roman

                              CHAPTER IV.

                “But thou, with spirit frail and light,
                   Wilt shine awhile and pass away,
                 As glowworms sparkle through the night,
                   But dare not stand the test of day.”

The magnificent apartment into which the manly step of Lucius Claudius
intruded was darkened with painted blinds, and yet further veiled from
the beams of day by curtains of rose-coloured cloth. The furniture
glittered with gold and gems, and the delicious odours of the costly
bath preparing for the voluptuous Julius in the adjoining bathing-room
filled the gorgeous dormitory. The sleeper was lying on a couch under a
gilt canopy, wrapt in such deep repose that even the bold approach of
his brother did not disturb his rest. It might be that the foot of the
indignant Roman fell on a carpet of unrivalled brilliancy and softness,
or that the last night’s banquet had been prolonged to an unusual hour.
With an air of contempt Lucius Claudius motioned to the attendants to
depart, and hastily flinging back the curtains, threw open the lattice,
and suffered the morning sun and breeze to play over the beautiful but
effeminate features of the slumbering Roman. For a moment the rough
soldier gazed upon his brother with an expression of scorn, which
quickly yielded to tenderness as the remembrance of their boyish days
came across his mind. How dear had that brother once been to him, before
the corruption of Nero’s court had blasted all the fair promise of his
virtuous youth! and even now, degenerate as he was become, Lucius felt
that he still loved him. So holy and unalterable are kindred ties and
early associations to a virtuous mind.

While indulging these feelings of returning affection, Lucius suddenly
remembered the occasion that brought him hither, and flinging his
warlike hand upon the chords of a lute that lay near him, with some
force he cried, “Wake, Sybarite, thy brother calls thee.”

The broken chords jarred dissonantly on the musical ears of the sleeper,
who awoke with a peevish exclamation of displeasure on his lips, and
unclosing his languid eye, looked upon the fine though sun-burnt
features of his brother. “Lucius in Corinth!” cried he, “or doth sleep
deceive my senses?”

“Nay; can this be Julius? Now, by Jupiter, I should believe it was my
fair sister Lucia, but that the lovely maid hath offered, doubtless, her
spotless vows at Vesta’s shrine some hours ago,” rejoined Lucius with a
scornful smile.

“Wouldst thou have found me at the plough, good brother, like
Cincinnatus? But wherefore art thou here?—old Roman, Nero loves not men
of thy metal.”

“I landed with Corbulo from Parthia, at Cenchrea, yesterday,” replied
Lucius somewhat drily.

“Ha! Corbulo in Corinth! sure his better genius might have warned him
back.” Julius lowered his voice so that his brother did not catch the
ominous conclusion of the sentence, and then resuming his ironical tone,
he continued his raillery, “Corbulo still rises with the sun, as thou
dost, old Roman. His master and mine have long forsworn such antiquated
customs. We revel all the night, and then, fatigued with pleasure,
slumber half the day. In Nero’s court thou must forget the rustic
manners thou hast learned in war.”

“Never will I forego the honest plainness that becomes the Roman.
Valiant Corbulo, still be my model; for in thee Rome yet may boast a
citizen valiant as Scipio, frugal and wise as Cato.”

“Beware of praising Corbulo; that name is out of date at court,”
returned Julius significantly.

“It should not seem so, for even Nero acknowledges the worth and valour
of his brave lieutenant. ’Tis at Cæsar’s own request he comes to Corinth
to receive the thanks and praises of his degenerate master. Perhaps his
great example may recall Nero’s soul to virtue. But, Julius, while
dwelling on the shining qualities of my valiant leader, I forget mine
errand, which was to crave of Nero a Hebrew slave, condemned to labour
on the Isthmian trench. This is his Sabbath, it should seem, which
rather than profane, he braves the horrors of the cross and scourge.
Despite his superstitious scruple, I like his spirit, and wish to place
him near my person. I would crave the boon myself of Cæsar, only that
the suns of the East have darkened my face, and that my long sojourn in
camps hath lent a roughness to my mode of speech that might perchance
ruin the cause I pleaded. Give me some counsel, Julius; thou art used to
courts, and—to thy shame I speak it—art one of Nero’s friends.”

“First, then, my soldier brother, let me tell thee that a bath of asses’
milk frequently used, will soon remove the sun-specks from thy face;
singing to the lyre will dulcify thy voice; and but once repeat the
imperial numbers in Nero Cæsar’s ears and thy cause is won, and I may
wish thee joy of an obedient servant, who will say, ‘I cannot do thy
bidding; it is my Sabbath, and I must keep it holy.’ Practise what I
tell thee, and the slave is thine.”

“These arts are not for me,” replied Lucius, laughing. “Go ask the boon
for me, and for once I will overlook your courtier habits.”

“Well, I will do your bidding with the emperor; but be warned, Lucius,
and depart from Corinth by evening-tide or earlier. Even Rome is hardly
safe; your villa at Tusculum is better suited to your rustic plainness.
Such men as you are dangerous, and Nero might forget his friendship for
me, and only recollect that we are brothers. Go, hasten to the trench; I
soon will bring thee favourable tidings.”

                               CHAPTER V.

                  “A mighty spirit is eclipsed—a power
                   Hath passed from day to darkness.”

The horrors of conscience so lately endured by Nero were still visible
on his ghastly brow, and his gloomy eye glared ferociously upon Julius
Claudius as he entered his presence. The artful courtier’s countenance,
however, betrayed no alarm, and he commenced singing some verses of
Nero’s composition in a voice of exquisite sweetness. The imperial frown
vanished, the stern features relaxed into smiles, and when Julius
Claudius besought his pardon for joining such lofty strains to notes so
feeble, the illustrious bard caught up the words, which he sang in a
voice destitute alike of strength or sweetness. Julius affected
unbounded rapture, and Cæsar forgot his nocturnal agony in delighted
vanity. The artful flatterer had but to name the favour his brother had
requested, and it was instantly granted.

As soon as he had obtained the order for the transfer of Adonijah’s
person, he hastened to the Isthmian trench, where he had appointed to
meet his brother.

Well pleased at the success of Julius, the tribune commanded the fetters
to be stricken off the limbs of the captive, who, before he made the
slightest acknowledgment to his benefactor, kneeled down, and in an
audible voice returned thanks to that Almighty Being whose instrument
only he considered Lucius Claudius to be.

“Truly thou art likely to possess the most grateful of all servants,”
remarked Julius, “and the most courteous too withal. He would make, in
truth, a noble gladiator; for I never saw a form more perfect, or
features more symmetrical: but for a household slave the fellow is
useless. You had best send him to the circus.”

“Thy jests are bitter,” returned his brother, “but I forgive thee since
the slave is mine.”

“Set sail for Rome to-night, and I am paid for all my pains,” replied
Julius, with an expression of peculiar meaning on his face, as he bade
Lucius Claudius farewell.

Near the gate of the city Lucius Claudius met Sabinus, the freedman of
Corbulo, with consternation and grief painted on every feature. The
tribune uttered the name of his revered commander. He remembered his
brother’s hints, and feared that Nero’s jealousy might be awakened by
the great leader’s glory. Sabinus briefly told the tragic fate of a hero
worthy of a happier destiny and better times.

For a moment Lucius Claudius stood transfixed with horror, and then
drawing his sword, was rushing forward with the evident intention of
seeking out the emperor and revenging his friend, when Sabinus, guessing
his design, caught him by the arm, and drawing him aside, represented to
him the madness as well as uselessness of such an attempt. Apparently
his reasons were too solid to be resisted; for, motioning Adonijah to
follow him to his lodging, he entered the city with an air of forced
calmness that formed a strange contrast to his late paroxysm of

Sabinus employed himself in making preparations for the funeral rites of
his friend and patron, while Lucius Claudius, with Roman fortitude,
forbade his countenance to wear the guise of grief; but, following his
effeminate brother’s advice, engaged a passage in a merchant-ship for
himself and his followers to Italy.

The shades of evening had long descended on the wooded heights of Mount
Cithæron, whose rugged brow cast a deep lengthened shadow on the plain.
The moon-beams slept upon the deep blue waves that washed the Isthmus,
while the stately city, with its Acropolis rising like a majestic crown
above it, looked, as it shone in the lunar ray, like an enchanted place
called up by magic from the deep rather than the abode of man. The vivid
flame that suddenly shot up along the shore, casting the figures moving
solemnly around it in deep shadow, might have suggested the idea of
magic rites. But the forms that paced about that blazing pile were
engaged in no unholy practices. Theirs was the hallowed office of
rendering the last honours to the remains of Corbulo, previously to
their quitting these fatal shores.

Long, long did those faithful friends and followers gaze upon the
features of the illustrious dead, before the hand of Lucius Claudius
fired the pile. With wonder Adonijah contemplated the lofty lineaments
and singularly grand figure of the murdered Roman of whose fame and
virtue he had heard so much; for Domitius Corbulo soared in stature as
much beyond all other Romans of his day, as he exceeded them in glory.

The manly eyes of Lucius Claudius overflowed with tears, but tears soon
dried up by the hope of vengeance. Each of that mourning group, dipping
their hands in the streaming blood of Corbulo, swore to revenge his
death on Nero, or perish in the attempt. The pile was fired; and Lucius
Claudius and Sabinus watched the dissolution of the form they loved,
gathered up the ashes in an urn, and, deeply sorrowing, bore them on
board the vessel hired to convey them to Italy.

Adonijah beheld the classic shores of Greece receding from his sight
with the indifference of one to whom all countries could only offer
variety in bondage. The apathy of slavery began to steal over him; and
it was not till the emotions of the long-absent Romans grew apparent as
they approached the coast of Italy, that the remembrance that he was an
exile from his own country returned in all its bitterness to his soul.

With feelings of rapture, of patriotism, that even prevailed over their
sorrow, the Romans stretched out their arms towards their
fatherland,—tears filled their eyes as each imaged to himself the dear
unforgotten ties of home. “Italy, dear Italy! once more I look upon thy
sacred soil,” cried Lucius Claudius. “Soon, soon shall I behold the
seven-hilled city; shall see thee, dear vestal maid, sweet Lucia, sister
of my heart. Sabinus, you have been at Rome since she attained to
womanhood, for she was but a child when she took her virgin vows upon
her. Tell me, how looked the maiden when you last beheld her?”

“Like a pure and spotless lily among the gaudier flowers of Rome,”
replied Sabinus. “Her vigils have somewhat stolen the rose of childhood
from her polished cheek, but lovelier looks, methinks, that holy
paleness than the brightest hues of health and gladness. The vestal
priestess in her sacerdotal robes eclipses the proud dames of Rome in
beauty as in virtue.”

“She, she, Sabinus, and the mighty recollections of this fallen land,
are all that make life bearable to me.” The tender feelings of his heart
filled the tribune’s eyes; he turned to Adonijah, of whose observation
he felt jealous, and said, as if in extenuation of his emotion, “Thou
hast a country—perhaps a sister too.”

“I had, but she has fallen a victim to the slaughtering sword of the
Gentile,” replied the Hebrew, “and gone down to the grave in the virgin
beauty and glory of her youth. Yet art thou happier, Tamar, than thy
miserable brother; for thy ashes are mingled with the sacred soil of thy
country, whilst I am cast out to wither like an abominable branch in a
strange and idolatrous land.” Then, relapsing into his own language,
Adonijah poured forth a strain of wailing lamentation, with the
spontaneous eloquence natural to the Eastern nations, unrestrained by
the presence of Lucius Claudius and his followers.

The tribune respected his grief, nor did he intrude upon it by again
addressing him; and the silence remained unbroken till the master of the
vessel landed them at Baiæ, from whence they proceeded to Rome.

                              CHAPTER VI.

               VOL. “Do you know this lady?”
               COR. “The noble sister of Poplicola,
             The moon of Rome: chaste as the icicle
             That’s curdled by the frost from purest snow,
             And hangs on Dian’s temple: dear Valeria!”

The ancient city of Romulus had risen from her ashes like the fabled
phœnix, with renewed youth and beauty. So greatly was her appearance
altered, that Lucius Claudius knew not where to seek his ancestral home,
as, regardless of the directions of his attendants and the proffered
guidance of Sabinus, he wandered on bewildered and amazed amongst
sumptuous edifices and streets of palaces. All indeed seemed new to his
eyes and heart. It was no longer the city founded by the Latian twin,
and rebuilt by Camillus, that he beheld, but the palace of Nero Cæsar,
the master of the world. She looked indeed more like the metropolis of a
mighty empire, though her real greatness had vanished with her ancient
simplicity and virtue. Even in the midst of her grandeur and
magnificence she was tottering to her fall, for her deep corruptions
were gradually unbarring her gates to the Goths of future ages. All that
was beautiful or venerable in her customs was gone “as a tale that is
told,” and the martial form of the military tribune, the worthy
representative of her illustrious sons, seemed as out of keeping with
the pomp that surrounded him on every side, as the appearance would have
been of one of his own warlike ancestors. The dominion of Rome indeed
was departing, for a highway for the promulgation of the gospel had been
opened by her armies to all lands—for which end alone she had been
given rule over the nations of the earth. Neither the heathen nor the
Hebrew perceived this. To Lucius Claudius the name of Rome was
synonymous of victory and power; to him she was sempiternal and
invincible, while to Adonijah she appeared only a magnificent prison,
within whose walls he was destined to waste away his life, the living
grave indeed of hope. Still, the curiosity inherent in human nature made
him suddenly ask the meaning of a sad procession they encountered near
the Forum.

Sabinus replied, “Some Roman citizen is led to execution, attended by
the lictors with their fasces. See, the axe before him denotes that it
is no slave about to suffer, but a person entitled to the privileges of
the free. A Christian, I should think, by his dress and bearing. If I
mistake not, Nymphidius and Tigellinus, the præfects of the prætorian
camp, are present, both low-born upstarts and favourites of Nero; the
first, the son of Nymphidia by Caius Cæsar,[7] as he would have it
thought, and many think his person bears a strong resemblance to that
frantic emperor: in cruelty he certainly can claim a kindred
disposition. The victim is unknown to me, but his venerable face
expresses goodness, now become a crime in Rome.”

While Sabinus was yet speaking, a magnificent chariot approached, drawn
by four white horses, containing a young female attired in white robes
bordered with purple. She wore on her head a species of cap decorated
with ribbons, but her brow was bound with a fillet, and the beauty of
her complexion, which was very fair, accorded well with her snowy
drapery and modest dignity of mien. A lictor preceded the chariot, which
was followed by a number of female attendants, likewise dressed in

The sudden halt of the vehicle gave Adonijah time to observe the vestal
virgin and her suite more closely, but he noticed that every one but him
stepped respectfully back to permit the cortege to pass unimpeded.[8]

The vestal and her train appeared by no means inclined to avail
themselves of the passage thus opened for them by the reverential crowd;
on the contrary, her attendant lictor seemed bent upon contesting some
matter with those who were bearing the condemned Christian to death.

“By Jupiter, the deliverer!” cried Lucius in an animated tone: “the
vestal virgin hath claimed her privilege in favour of the Christian.
See, the lictors prepare to unbind him at her bidding.”

“The prætorian præfects deny her claim,” replied Sabinus, “and motion to
the lictors to advance—who hesitate, yet lower their laureled fasces
reverentially before the sacred maid. Hark! she speaks.”

The import of the vestal’s words might rather be guessed from her manner
than understood by the ear, but it was evident that those to whom she
made her claim were determined to disallow it.

“Forward, Sabinus! forward, friends and clients! forward, Roman
citizens! let us defend the privileges of the vestal order.” Thus
saying, Lucius Claudius endeavoured to pierce through the crowd that now
closely environed the chariot, yet could not at once accomplish his
intention, though he was near enough to hear the conference between the
contending parties.

“No; let her ply the distaff, watch the sacred fire, be borne in triumph
through the streets, enjoy the homage with which old superstitious times
and customs have invested her; but let her not presume to interfere with
Cæsar’s ministers in matters that concern the state,” cried Tigellinus,
addressing the listening crowd.

“Roman citizens,” said the vestal, turning to the people, “I claim of
you the privileges granted by holy Numa to our order. The laws of Rome
grant to us the power of saving any criminal we may chance to meet upon
his way to execution.” She blushed deeply as she made her dignified
appeal, and her voice though sweet was tremulous.

“My sister’s voice and person, if my ears and heart tell truly,”
remarked Lucius Claudius in an under tone to the freedman.

“It is indeed the Lady Lucia, the pride of Roman ladies, the glory of
the vestals,” returned Sabinus.

“We will protect thy privileges, Lucia Claudia,” cried a thousand
voices, which the deep tones of the delighted brother united with his
followers to join.

“I swear,” continued Tigellinus, “that the meeting was premeditated. She
knew Helius occupied the tribunal, and came to snatch the atheist from

“I call upon the name of Vesta to attest my truth,” replied the vestal
in a firmer tone than that in which she recently made her claim; “I
plead the law of Numa.”

“I abrogate it thus in Cæsar’s name,” cried Tigellinus, snatching an axe
from the hand of a lictor, and upraising it to slay the Christian.

Lucius Claudius sprang forward to defend his sister’s privilege, but
before he gained the spot, the colleague of Tigellinus had caught his
arm and preventing his design, bowed low before the vestal whose beauty
had subdued his wish to slay, saying, “Forbear, Tigellinus, to infringe
the privileges of the vestal order. Respect the goddess Vesta herself,
in the person of the noblest and fairest of Roman ladies.” Then fixing
his bold eyes admiringly upon Lucia Claudia, he continued: “The man who
can resist charms like thine were worse even than the churlish Greek who
wounded Venus in his ireful mood. See, the sword of justice is edgeless
before the pleading voice of beauty.” He motioned to the lictors to
unbind the Christian, still gazing ardently upon the fair countenance of
Lucia Claudia.

From the licentious stare and free speech of Nymphidius the vestal
virgin shrank abashed. Her modest eyes sank beneath those the præfect
boldly turned upon her lovely face. She looked no longer like the
high-minded heroine who daringly opposed bad men in power to plead her
rights of mercy, but like a timid maid whom compassion had led to
overcome the weakness and fearfulness of her sex, but who now blushed at
the effect of her own temerity, ashamed of the triumph her virtue and
charms had won. This beautiful shame, this touching timidity, the
expression of wounded modesty in her bashful eyes, excited a new feeling
in the bosom of the Hebrew slave, who no longer regarded the sister of
Lucius as a heathen priestess, but as a woman the loveliest and purest
of her sex.

Linus, the rescued Christian, turning to his preserver, thanked and
blessed her; but with an air of offended dignity the vestal turned away.
“Go,” she said, “amend thy creed and live.”

“So near the gate of heaven—and yet so distant!” rejoined the
Christian. “Farewell, Lucia Claudia, and peace be with thee: we shall
meet again.”

Linus, the second bishop of Rome, though rescued from martyrdom by Lucia
Claudia, was still, he saw, an object of scornful pity in her eyes who
had prolonged his life for other labours, and perhaps other trials, by
her instrumentality. He thanked God who had inclined an idolatrous
priestess of Vesta to assert her privilege in his favour. Some words of
saving truth he would have addressed to his benefactress, but that he
saw this was no time or place to preach the gospel. She looked too
obdurately upon the man she had lately preserved, to listen to the
wonders of redeeming love. Gratitude, however, that very essence of true
Christianity, forbade Linus to forget he owed his life to her. From that
day he never ceased to pray that the bright effulgence of Divine light
might dispel the darkness that overshadowed the soul of the young Lucia

She, indeed, turned coldly away from him. This was not unnatural in the
heathen priestess, but it pained the Christian who withdrew to the
asylum the labyrinth of the Arenaria afforded, resolving to use every
effort to convert the young vestal to the pure faith of Christ.

Lucius Claudius, full of fraternal pride, gazed fondly and admiringly
upon his lovely sister. His eyes betrayed indeed more emotion than he
cared the crowd should witness, yet he could not delay making himself
known to her.

“Noble Roman maid, thou shouldst be my own beloved Lucia. The blue eyes,
the fair complexion of the Claudian line, should denote my sister,”
cried he, endeavouring to force a passage to the chariot.

The vestal looked upon him intently, but her memory retained no trace of
her elder brother’s person.

“’Tis Lucius Claudius, ’tis thy brother, returned from Parthia, to
behold in thee, dear maid, all that fraternal love could hope to see,”
said Lucius, advancing to greet his sister.

Lucia again raised her eyes to his face, but with a look of glad
surprise, as with speechless rapture she motioned to him to ascend the
chariot, and then, throwing herself upon his neck, wept with all the
fond familiarity of long-remembered affection. She conducted her brother
to his home in a sort of triumph, where she took leave of him, and
returned to Mount Palatine where she dwelt.

Adonijah could not efface from his mind the image of the vestal virgin;
could it be that he, the strictest of the strict Pharisees, should
behold with interest and tenderness this idolatrous priestess who had
looked upon the stately maids of Judah with coldness. If this were love,
he knew it to be forbidden by the law, and therefore sinful as it was
hopeless. He tried to exclude from his mental vision the form of Lucia
Claudia, but in vain; and when he slept, he slept to dream of her sweet

Nor was it only in the breast of the Hebrew slave that the beauty and
virtue of Lucia Claudia had kindled an unextinguishable flame.
Nymphidius, that bold bad man, was no less captivated with her charms
and spirit. He determined to win her for his bride, in defiance alike of
the sanctity of her profession or her patrician birth. To a mind so
lawless what was custom? to one so aspiring what was the nobility of the
beloved object but an additional motive for the alliance? His grasping
hand, already struggling for the imperial sceptre of the Cæsars, would
not hesitate to tear from its seclusion “this white and virgin rose,”
whose purity had inspired that passion in his bosom the corrupt and
dissipated ladies of the court had failed to kindle. Bad as he was, he
felt the power, the majesty of virtue, and did homage to it in the
person of the priestess of Vesta, and even the empire of the world
without her to share its honours appeared too poor to satisfy the wild
ambition of the reputed son of Caligula.


[7] Caligula.

[8] See Appendix, Note V.

                              CHAPTER VII.

             “No gods, or gods that care not for mankind.”

                 “There surely is some guiding Power
                    That rightly suffers wrong,
                  Gives vice to bloom its little hour,
                    But virtue late and long.”

Adonijah, through the courteous kindness of his preserver, viewed the
sumptuous buildings and edifices of Rome. There was much in the survey
to delight and interest a stranger,—one, too, who was familiar with the
historic records of this celebrated city. Nothing, however, surprised
the Hebrew, who was born under the light of revelation, so much as the
number and variety of the idols of Rome. He justly considered this
apostasy from that natural religion which is written in the heart of
every man, as the fruitful source of all the corruption and infamy into
which the inhabitants of the metropolis of the world were sunk. To be
vile was, in reality, to claim an affinity in nature to the very gods
the people worshipped, who appeared to him to be demons or bad men,
deified by fools and knaves, though some attempt had been made to
improve the morals, and inspire the soul with virtue; for the Romans had
raised altars to Concord, Justice, Fortitude, and Filial Piety.

In the writings of the philosophers of the period Adonijah vainly sought
for any allusion to the patriarchal religion which had existed before
the giving of the Law to his own people, and which must once have
subsisted among the Gentile nations. They appeared to have discovered a
First Cause, to whom they paid neither reverence nor worship. His own
religion he found regarded with contempt, its rites derided, and
adherence to its customs styled “a sullen hatred of all mankind;” the
bringing forth of his people from the land of Egypt, disguised and
vilified by the most absurd fables, by men who possessed great wisdom in
treating all other matters, though in this respect they were indeed
fools. To believe in the existence of a God, and yet to assert that He
cares nothing for the creatures He has made, is to liken him to a cruel
father who abandons a child in infancy, leaving him to find his way in
the wilderness of that world through which he is destined to pass,
without a precept and without a guide. “No gods, or gods that care not
for mankind,” was the real creed of many at that period, who, according
to the words of St. Paul, “professing themselves to be wise, became

A synagogue beyond the Tiber afforded Adonijah the privilege of
worshipping after the manner of his fathers. The seven-branched
candlestick used by the Jewish congregation has been discovered in
modern times on the spot where once it stood. Adonijah, who had learned
to hate the Christians before he came to Rome, found his detestation
strengthened by his fellow-worshippers. The persecution in the twelfth
year of Nero had banished the converts to the new faith to the dark
recesses of the Arenaria, so that though the sect was known to exist in
Rome it was maintained in the greatest privacy.

As many Roman proselytes had been made in Judea, before the commencement
of the war, to the Jewish religion, Adonijah did not despair of making a
convert of his patron, for whom he had conceived a great affection.
Still, in defiance of his own zeal for religion, and the deep interest
he took in the deadly struggle in which his country was then engaged, he
could not forbear watching for the chariot of the vestal Lucia, or
lingering round the temple of Vesta to catch a glimpse of her figure. As
no image was worshipped in that fane, he hoped that, if he could win the
brother from his unsettled notions, the sister, who appeared to worship
an abstract idea, might be gained over to the true faith. Thus religion,
wherever it exists in a revealed form, is a benevolent principle,
leading its votaries to diffuse its blessings as widely as possible, but
still selecting the dear ties of friendship and kindred as its first

Although secretly planning the destruction of Nero and the freedom of
his country, Lucius Claudius took much pleasure in the society of
Adonijah. Frank and open in his temper, he boldly avowed his contempt
for his country’s gods; and, though he by no means seemed inclined to
treat the God of Adonijah with more veneration when speaking of Him, he
felt curious respecting a religion whose followers were distinguished
from all people on the face of the earth, by the peculiarity of their
laws and worship. Leaning upon the arm of Adonijah as they walked
together in the delightful gardens of his villa at Tivoli, he suddenly
asked the Hebrew “what evidence he could bring of the actual existence
of the God he worshipped.”

Adonijah naturally quoted those sacred books which contain the earliest
revelations of God to man.

The heathen soldier did not appear to think the evidence he deduced
conclusive, for he demanded a proof that should be at once apparent to
his outward senses and convincing to his understanding.

“Such a demonstration I am prepared to give,” replied the Jew. “‘Behold,
the heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth His
handy work. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth
knowledge: there is no speech nor language where their voice is not
heard.’ It is the hand of Omnipotence that hath placed these lights in
the firmament, and by them still claims the worship due to the Creator
from man.”

Lucius looked up at the glorious starry dome of heaven, and then down on
the enthusiastic countenance of the slave, and smiled sceptically.
“Chance or accident has placed these lights on high, Adonijah, which you
superstitiously ascribe to the hand of an unknown God. This world and
all things it contains, whether animate or inanimate, owes its existence
to a fortuitous union of atoms, mysteriously attracted towards each
other by some incomprehensible influence.”

“What gave rise to the atoms of which thou sayest all things were
compounded, before they arranged themselves into form or being?”
demanded the slave. “Even your belief in matter admits, of necessity, a
First Cause, which you miscall Fate, Chance, Accident, but that the
Hebrews acknowledge as the creative power of God. All that we see was
the work of that Almighty Being whom we Hebrews adore under the name of
Jehovah; worshipping Him by faith, not profaning His glory with likening
Him to anything in heaven or earth, but serving Him according to the
revelation He has made of Himself from the beginning of time; believing
that the same Wisdom that called all things into being supports and
governs them, and will continue to do so for ever.”

“I am ready to allow that you have reason on your side with respect to
the existence of a First Cause, which many of the philosophers of
Greece, with Seneca in our own day, have acknowledged; but then if He
really cares for the creatures He has made, why is a Nero suffered to
prosper while the virtuous and good are slain or sent into exile? What,
then, is the use of worshipping a Being who cares nothing for the
creatures He has made?”

Adonijah started back at the boldness of this speech, with gestures
indicative of horror. “Lucius Claudius,” replied he, “in this world we
often see the good suffer and the bad prosper, but be assured that God
will punish the wicked and recompense the just at that day of final
account, when the dead shall be raised, and the Judge, seated in the
valley of Jehoshaphat, shall call every man to an account for his works
done in the flesh.”

“The dead raised!” exclaimed the Roman; “you speak enigmas, fables. What
Power, Adonijah, can unite the body and soul together again, and form
man anew from his ashes?”

“The Power that first united them, ‘who formed man originally from the
dust of the ground, breathing into him the breath of life, till man
became a living soul.’ Thinkest thou, Lucius, that the spirit of the
murdered Corbulo perished with his body? or, imbibing the cold, joyless
notions of the Greek mythology, dost thou imagine it wandering round its
ashes, seeking in vain its ancient prison? No, Roman, no; it hath gone
to its ‘appointed place, again to be united to the flesh, and to plead
against the murderer at the judgment-seat of God.’ Such is the doctrine
of the Pharisees respecting the resurrection, though even among the Jews
an impious sect hath arisen, holding notions as foolish as the ignorant
Gentiles themselves. The sacred Scriptures can fully inform you
respecting the laws and worship of the true God, and these oracles are
in the hands of the Jews, and our Scribes can fully make them known to

The belief in the immortality of the soul never appears more reasonable
than when we lament the death of a friend. Though new to Lucius
Claudius, it now appeared strange even to himself that he had never
considered its possibility before. The existence of a Supreme Being, and
his superintending Providence and future judgment, made a deep
impression upon his mind, although these impressions did not quite
amount to absolute conviction. He expressed willingness to become
acquainted with what he called the Jewish records, and Adonijah indulged
the hope that this upright Roman would eventually become a proselyte of
justice and a believer in the one true God.

He obtained from the rulers of the synagogue the rolls containing the
sacred oracles, and commenced reading and explaining them to his patron.
The beauty, the sublimity of the inspired truths thus made known to the
Gentile dispelled the darkness of ignorance from his mind. The great,
the vital doctrine of a Messiah, presented to his view as a point of
faith by the slave so strangely become his teacher, bore little
resemblance to the “Man of sorrows,” whose atonement for sin was pointed
out in the 53rd chapter of Isaiah, and whom the Jewish nation had
obstinately rejected. They interpreted His kingdom as a temporal
kingdom, and, catching at the idea so prevalent at that time that the
ruler of the world was to arise out of Judea, expected their Messiah
presently to appear among his people, to deliver them from the Roman
yoke. Of the real end of the Messiah’s coming, “to put away sin,”
Adonijah was as ignorant as his Gentile convert, who would thankfully
have embraced the sublime doctrine the Pharisee rejected, if it had been
made known to him.

                             CHAPTER VIII.

                        “Whom in the sacred porch
                  Ezekiel saw, when by the vision led
                  His eye surveyed the dark idolatries
                  Of alienated Judah.”

The anxious solicitude of affection made Lucius Claudius desirous of
imparting his better knowledge to his sister, though he knew her to be
not only devoted, but bigoted, to the superstition to which, from
motives of prudence, he had dedicated her in infancy. The worship of
Vesta was pure, and far better calculated to interest an enthusiastic
mind like Lucia’s than the absurdities then prevalent at Rome. The
watching the sacred flame, upon the preservation of which the existence
of the state was believed to depend, the chastity of its votaries, and
above all, the deep mysteries which the faith itself contained, either
no longer apparent to the priestesses themselves, or lost in extreme
antiquity, rendered this religion very holy in Lucia Claudia’s eyes. The
family of the Claudii already boasted two illustrious vestals,—the
Claudia whose chastity the goddess herself had deigned to vindicate, and
her whose filial piety had insured her father’s triumph;—and Lucia
Claudia, the third vestal of her line, sustained the same lofty
reputation, and enjoyed the same privileges, as her predecessors had
done. The universal honours paid her, the power she sometimes exerted in
favour of the unhappy, the veneration of the people, endeared a faith
hallowed by the early recollections and prejudices of infancy. The
homage she received touched a soul deeply alive to the love of glory,
while Cossutia, the chief priestess of Vesta, lavished upon this
youngest and fairest of the sisterhood those affections whose natural
current had been chilled in youth. To convince Lucia Claudia that all
her devotion was misplaced, and her worshipped goddess a chimera, seemed
no easy task even to a man of Lucius’s resolute temper. Nevertheless, he
resolved to undertake it. To this end he solicited the sovereign pontiff
to permit his sister to visit him at his villa in Tivoli. According to
the ancient regulation, this permission could neither have been asked
nor granted; but the old strictness was greatly relaxed, and Lucia,
attended by her virgin train of slaves, and accompanied by Cornelia, her
nurse, arrived soon after at her brother’s villa.

If the first impression made by the fair heathen priestess had inspired
Adonijah with a passion he had never felt for his own more enlightened
countrywomen, her gentleness and domestic qualities deepened it into the
most devoted love. It is in her own home that woman is best known,
because within that little circle her tenderest affections expand, and,
like the sunbeams, gladden and bless all within their influence.
Sovereign lady of the household, no haughty gesture nor harsh language
ever enforced her authority, and the meanest slave revered in her a
benefactress. To their complaints she lent an indulgent ear, nor did the
high-born lady think it any degradation in their sickness to perform
those little offices which none but female charity yields, or knows how
to apply. Few of the numerous domestics composing a Roman household at
that period were free; for it was considered degrading for a citizen to
serve in a menial capacity. All were slaves—either captives taken in
war, or the children and descendants of such unfortunate persons. These
filled various offices according to their several abilities, from the
tillers of the ground to the amanuensis, or even the tutor of the heir.
Among them might be found natives of polished Greece, of Africa,
Parthia, Armenia, Gaul, Germany, and Britain, disguised in the same
servile habit, yet distinguished by the characteristics of national
complexion, feature, and language. Some of these vast establishments
were so ill provided with the necessaries of life, that the miserable
creatures composing them were forced to obtain food by plunder. Lawless
troops of banditti were thus gradually organized to destroy the state
whose victims they had been, and thus the very victories of Rome were
promoting her own ruin. Most Roman gentlemen enfranchised one or two
favourite bondmen, who were called freed-men upon assuming the cap of
liberty. Adonijah, although a slave, was but a slave in name. He wore
the costume peculiar to his nation. The phylacteries, or portions of the
law contained in the fillet or frontlet between the eyes, were wide and
richly ornamented with gold, as were those appended to the sleeves,
while the broad blue fringes commanded to be worn on the garments of the
Israelite were deeper than ordinary, denoting the wearer to to be a
Pharisee, and claiming for him the reputation of that outward holiness
his sect arrogantly claimed for themselves, to the exclusion of all who
differed from them in opinion.

The singularly noble person of the Hebrew, the curious fashion of his
garments, and the deference with which her brother treated him, excited
Lucia Claudia’s curiosity. She asked Lucius “who this stranger was whom
he honoured with his friendship.” The account he gave of his first
interview with Adonijah interested her greatly; the patriotism of the
slave appeared to her worthy of a better country; and reverencing his
character, and pitying his misfortunes, she softened her voice when
addressing him, and permitted her mild eyes to express the compassionate
interest she felt for his condition. Indeed she even listened without
condemnation to the account Lucius gave of his singular creed, though
too much devoted to her own superstition to suffer at that moment her
reliance on its truth to be shaken; nor did she suspect that her brother
was a secret proselyte to a religion so mysterious, and to her present
bounded views so inexplicable.

While gazing on the beautiful countenance of Lucia, or listening to the
touching sweetness of her accents, Adonijah forgot that she was a
heathen; even the sacerdotal robes with which superstition had invested
her appeared only a dress admirably calculated to set off the symmetry
of her form. The deep melancholy into which captivity and slavery had
plunged him yielded to the new feelings that now filled his heart, and,
giving way to the sweet influence of virtuous love, he remembered not
that the law he reverenced forbade him to cherish such a sentiment for
the unbelieving daughter of the stranger, whom he preferred to the
maidens of his own people. A slight incident dispelled the illusion, and
warned the Hebrew that the creature he doted upon was indeed a blind and
bigoted idolatress.

Within the bounds of the garden stood a ruined fane, whose orbicular
form showed it had been formerly dedicated to the worship of Vesta; but
though time had exerted its power, and levelled many of its pillars to
their base, nature, with gentler hand, had wreathed them round with ivy,
and bade fair flowers spring up to veil the work of her destroying foe.
Among these broken columns, now garlanded with blossoms, and breathing
out perfume to the passing gale, Adonijah had found a retreat from the
heat of day and bustle of the household, and here retired from man, bent
his knee before his God, or perused those wondrous records of His power
and love preserved in the Scriptures. Thither at noon, one day, he
withdrew to offer up his prayers, but stepped aside when about to enter
the roofless oratory, on perceiving it to be already occupied by the
priestess of Vesta. She was kneeling with her face towards the meridian
sun, though her eyes were cast upon the ground, seemingly absorbed in
deep meditation. Sometimes, as if unconsciously, some low sweet words
escaped from her lips, but though Adonijah held in his breath, that he
might not lose a word, the sound alone reached his ears. Suddenly she
held up a triangular instrument towards the orb of day, and directed the
solar ray towards a vessel of a curious form, containing combustibles.
As the flame descended into the receiver, the devotion of the vestal
soared into enthusiasm. A brighter glow suffused her fair cheek, and she
bent over the heaven-kindled fire with rapturous adoration that seemed
to absorb her whole being.

The long white stola, purple-bordered mantle, and snowy head-dress,
accorded well with Lucia Claudia’s beauty, which was at once sublime and
touching in its character. Nothing could be more graceful than her
attitude, or more holy than the expression of her face. It was piety
that lighted up every perfect feature—piety which, though mistaken in
its object, still looked beautiful in her, while the red parted lip
seemed rather formed to pour forth the praises of the living God, than
to offer up sinful prayers to the element He had created.

Adonijah beheld these impious rites with unfeigned horror; he no longer
saw in the person of Lucia Claudia the beautiful and beloved object of
his secret affections, but an idolatrous heathen priestess, practising
abhorrent ceremonies, offering up unholy worship in the very front of
day. Reckless alike of consequences or the difference fortune had placed
between them, and only jealous of the honour of the living God, Adonijah
rushed forward, dashed the vessel over, and scattered the fire upon the
ground, exclaiming in a terrible tone, “Idolatress, what are you doing?
How dare you offer to the creature that worship which is due to the
Creator alone?”

The stern voice, the act of violence, dispelled the trance of devotion
into which the priestess of Vesta had fallen. All the proud blood of her
proud line seemed to mantle in her face and flash from her eyes as she
sprang up, and, confronting the intruder, turned upon him a look in
which horror, indignation, and amazement were all blended, crying, as
she rent her garments, “Sacrilegious stranger, your death alone can
atone this impious deed! The gods, the gods, will punish your impiety!”

“Maiden, I invoke their fury, open my bosom to the wrath of Heaven, but
lo! their thunders sleep. Thy goddess does not deign to vindicate her
cause. She cannot, Lucia, for she has no being. The God I worship, Lucia
Claudia, is a spirit immortal and invisible, seen with the eye of faith
alone, whose throne is in the highest heaven. The fire thou worshippest
is but an element formed by Him for the service of man, of whom He is
the great Creator. The bright sun himself we call by a name signifying a

“The laws will do me justice, insulting Hebrew!” replied the vestal, not
deigning to attend to his speech.

“Denounce me, if you will; yet hear me, Lucia Claudia, before you give
me up to certain death.”

“Release me, slave! Even to grasp my robes is sacrilege. Pursue your
cold inexplicable faith, but leave me to follow mine in peace.”

“I cannot leave you, Lucia Claudia, in darkness and idolatry to provoke
the anger of the living God, for I love you too well to overlook your
sin; yes, daughter of this strange heathen land, I love you, and would
save your soul from ruin.” He sank at her feet, still grasping her
garments, while he regarded her with eyes full of grief and hopeless

“Release me, Adonijah!” repeated the vestal, but in a milder tone, and
the Hebrew perceived that she trembled. “Go, Adonijah; I wish not your
death. Strange to the customs of this land, you know not the penalty you
have incurred in daring to lift your eyes to a vestal virgin.”

“I know it, Lucia Claudia, but I fear not to die; death may have terrors
for the unbeliever, may be dreaded by the happy, but to the Hebrew
captive it will only open a higher, nobler existence. Idolatress, my
heart bleeds for you; I see you gentle, fair, and good, a creature
formed for truth, yet misleading men to falsehood, the victim of a
fraud, alike deceiving and deceived. Why were you not a daughter of my
people? then you had worshipped the great Jehovah, nor lent yourself
unto a lie. Then it had been no crime to love you; now it is deadly

The priestess made no reply; she renewed her efforts to escape, and
Adonijah did not attempt to detain her. Silently he watched the
fluttering of her white garments as if every sense were locked up in
sight, and when her form was no longer visible, caught up the triangular
instrument she had dropped in her hasty retreat and put it into his
bosom, though he really believed it to be a magical instrument; so
inconsistent often is the conduct of a lover.

Lucia Claudia had not listened to the rash declaration of Adonijah
without emotion. No one had hitherto, besides Nymphidius, dared to cast
even a look of admiration upon her, much less presumed to speak to her
of love. The austerity of her carriage, her virtue, and consecration to
virginity, had deterred the boldest from seeking to inspire her with
affection. In spite of herself, the presumption of Adonijah did not give
birth to the anger she felt it ought. He was unhappy, and he loved her;
and she recalled his words and looks, and found a latent feeling of pity
and intense interest lurking in her bosom for the daring slave. She no
sooner discovered her danger than she resolved to fly from it, and,
summoning her attendants, quitted the villa for Rome that very day,
without even venturing to bid her brother farewell, lest his penetrating
eye should discover the cause of her inquietude.

                              CHAPTER IX.

            “Leaves have their time to fall,
           And flowers to wither at the north wind’s breath,
             And stars to set—but all,
           Thou hast all seasons for thine own, O death.”

During the absence of the emperor Rome groaned under more frightful
tyranny even than his own. The low-born upstarts to whom he had resigned
the reins of government, Helius, Polycletus, Nymphidius, and Tigellinus,
were more wicked, more odious than himself. The citizens could better
brook the despotism of the descendant of the Cæsars than the rapacity
and insolence of Helius and his colleagues, who sprang from the very
dregs of the people. Their dissatisfaction became alarming, and Helius
set sail for Greece to persuade Nero to return to Rome. That vain prince
was, however, in no haste to quit the theatre of his follies: the
Greeks, in his eyes, were better judges of his merits, and appeared to
value his talents more, than his Roman subjects. Scarcely could Helius
make him sensible of the danger of the empire, and then he contented
himself with writing letters to the Senate, of which Julius Claudius was
the bearer, still delaying from day to day the unwelcome one of his

Some hints that Lucius Claudius was engaged in a secret conspiracy
against the life and government of Nero were thrown out to Julius by
Nymphidius, who did not wish the brother of the woman he loved to become
a victim to Nero’s proscriptions, because the jealousy of that prince
was seldom satisfied with one victim, and not only Lucia Claudia, but
himself, if allied to her, might fall with her family. Julius, much
alarmed, hastened to his brother’s house to reason with him respecting
the imprudence of his conduct. The interview was short and unfriendly,
and when they parted the slaves caught some expressions of contempt on
the part of Lucius, and noticed that Julius appeared displeased and

As soon as Julius quitted his brother’s presence he hastened to
Nymphidius, and related the ill-success that had attended his
remonstrances; and then that bold bad man unfolded a dark plan that
involved the destruction of Lucius Claudius. The advantages to be gained
by the death of his brother were temptations too mighty to be resisted
by a corrupt mind like that of Julius. Hitherto he had possessed the
princely fortune, the villas, and farms of Lucius, as if they had been
his own. His extravagance had nearly dissipated his own inheritance, as
well as the portion of Antonia, his wife, whom he had married for her
riches, and not for love. He dreaded, too, that Nero’s jealousy would
not spare him if his brother’s conspiracy should be discovered, and
agreed finally to the wicked plot Nymphidius proposed. The præfect
demanded the hand of his vestal sister as his reward, whose vows he
affirmed he would find means to annul; to which Julius readily assented.
The infamous Locusta was to provide a poison, whose slow operation would
assume the appearance of natural disease, and not only relieve Julius
from his fears, but make him the wealthiest subject in Rome.

The victim of this dark conspiracy had just despatched Sabinus into
Gaul, to Julius Vindex, who was then about to fling off the yoke of
Nero, and heroically appear as the champion of virtue and independence,
and, like too many other patriots, fall a martyr to the cause of
liberty. Lucius hoped soon to call upon the Senate and people to aid the
virtuous Gaul, and punish the monster of whom the whole world was weary.
In the midst of his brightest hopes, and in the very beginning of a
career whose glory might yet have eclipsed that which shed an
imperishable light round the heads of his ancestors, he suddenly felt a
mortal malady stealing upon him. So insidious were its approaches, that
he never suspected its nature, nor even when the hour of death drew nigh
imagined that he owed his destruction to the avarice of a brother. One
person alone suspected poison, and that was Tigranes, a Parthian slave,
who loved Lucius Claudius, and was possessed of some skill in medicine.
This man had been absent during the first days of his master’s illness,
and he had the hardihood to express his opinion to Julius himself. “In
that case the whole household shall be put to the torture, yourself
among the rest,” remarked the murderer coldly; hastening himself to his
dying brother to acquaint him of the suspicion, and the posthumous
revenge he meditated.

“I have injured no one,” was the magnanimous reply of the dying Roman;
“and even if the fact be as you suspect, I will never punish the
innocent with the guilty: God will avenge my death.” He then dictated
his last will, and ordered his sister to be sent for, to receive his

About to enter “the valley and shadow of death,” in the prime of manhood
and glory of his strength, the new-born rays of revelation brightened
the last hours of him who had believed in God, and forsaken the errors
and darkness of atheism; but, oh, how gladly would he even now have
received that better light, that “day-spring from on high,” which, in
the incarnation of a Saviour, gave light unto the Gentiles! But as it
was, even the knowledge of the immortality of the soul, and its future
reunion with the body, cheered the last hours of the proselyte to
Judaism. Drawing his weeping sister to his bosom, and directing her
attention to Adonijah, he said, “The God of Adonijah is my God,”—and
more he would have added, but his words were inaudible, and the
commencement of the sentence alone met her ear. He expired, leaving it
incomplete, and her not only inconsolable, but in an agony of despair.
None of those hopes that had softened the pains of the dying Lucius
Claudius consoled his sister; she wept as one who could not be
comforted. All was dark and cheerless in her mind as the grave; for her
only friend appeared lost to her for ever. Adonijah mourned his
benefactor with manly sorrow, not with hopeless grief, and he longed to
claim a brother’s privilege in the maid, and to tell her that her Lucius
would not remain the prisoner of the grave for ever. He saw her borne
from the chamber of death in a state of insensibility, cold and
motionless as him she mourned, and, turning himself to the dead, wept
like a woman.

The obsequies of Lucius Claudius were performed with unwonted
magnificence; the usual games were continued many days; and his
murderer, with every appearance of fraternal love, pronounced the
funeral oration, and placed the urn containing the ashes of the virtuous
Roman in the mausoleum of the Claudii, which distinguished family
enjoyed the privilege of burial within the walls of the city.

By his last will Lucius Claudius provided for the future emancipation of
Adonijah, which was to take place at the conclusion of the Jewish war.
He was in the interim to be exonerated from all servile labour, as he
had been during his master’s life. Nor when restored to freedom was he
to depart without receiving a sum adequate to his future wants. The
testator gave his large estates to his brother and sister, assigning to
the former the larger portion, as the head of his house. Nor did he
forget the Roman people, nor his own slaves. The name of the emperor did
not appear in the instrument, but the justice and generosity of the
deceased Roman was displayed even in his last testament.

                               CHAPTER X.

                 “Child of heaven, by me restored,
                  Love thy Saviour, serve thy Lord;
                  Sealed with that mysterious name,
                  Bear thy cross, and scorn the shame.”

The return of the emperor did not allay the discontent of the public.
His frivolous pursuits, his ridiculous triumphal entry, disgusted all;
and, far from curbing by his own authority the rapacity of his
favourites, his presence gave the signal for renewing those crimes which
had been perpetrated under his name during his absence. Cruelty seemed
born of luxury; whatever could enervate the soul or corrupt the heart
being united with the most unfeeling barbarity. Avarice and prodigality,
forgetting their ancient opposition, appeared to sway the conduct of
Nero and his satellites, whose rapacious gains were dissipated in
voluptuous feasts and sumptuous shows. Till the death of his revered
patron, Adonijah had never been present at any public spectacle or
private entertainment; for Lucius, plain and simple in his manners,
charged all the degeneracy of Rome upon the innovations of luxury: but
Julius was fond of grandeur, and chose to be attended in public by the
Hebrew, whose commanding stature and majestic features greatly added to
the splendour of his retinue. In these scenes of riot and intemperance,
Adonijah again beheld the master of the world. The laurelled brow, the
sceptered hand, the smile, nay, even his wild participation in the
unhallowed revelries in which he delighted, could not disguise Nero
Cæsar from the eye of the slave who had witnessed his agonies of remorse
at Corinth. To him the smile appeared mockery, and the mirth unreal; for
in its very tones he seemed to hear the frantic cry with which he had
fled from the spectral train his conscience had called up. He marked the
guilty glare that shrank affrighted from every shadowy nook, as if he
feared to see his mother rise armed with the scorpion-whip with which
his agonized remorse had armed her hand; and in the gloomy, joyless eye,
the lurking fear that saw the dagger in every hand, the poison lurking
in every bowl, he recognised the imperial wretch who envied even
laborious slavery its slumbers.

Within the circles of the great and gay, Adonijah sometimes saw the
vestal priestesses, whose order Nero had invested with new privileges.
Among them the ardent lover marked the object of his secret passion, and
perceived by her pale cheek and languid eye how heavily her brother’s
death pressed upon her heart. According to the strict rules of her
profession, she wore no mourning, nor was allowed the seclusion to which
other Roman ladies were confined for many months after such bereavement.
Her abstracted manner and downcast look were out of keeping with the
scenes of festivity in which she mingled. Sometimes indeed a light word
or bold look from those around her flushed her fair face with the
crimson glow of wounded modesty, and her eyes sparkled till tears of
shame dimmed them, and again she looked like a sculptured
personification of purity and sorrow. The deep sympathy of Adonijah,
although unexpressed by words or manner, was conveyed by looks whose
language needed no other eloquence. She felt that one being among the
heartless throng regarded her with interest, with compassion, and with
love. From the undisguised admiration of Nymphidius she shrank back with
unrestrained aversion, which only served to inflame his passion. He had
hoped to corrupt her mind by the tainted atmosphere in which his
influence with the emperor compelled her to move, but Lucia remained
unchanged in manner, as pure as within the secluded temple of her
goddess, and he prized her virtue beyond her beauty.

Much as she abhorred the mandates that compelled her attendance on those
public occasions, even the service of the temple had become distasteful
to the young priestess. Strange doubts had arisen in her mind, and those
words of Adonijah often recurred to her remembrance, which affirmed her
worshipped goddess to be a wild chimera, an empty name. Then came those
yearnings after immortality, those conjectures respecting a future
state, which those who lose their dearest kindred ties feel when
bereaved of them, if they never felt them before. Nature, with fond
fidelity clinging to the ashes of the dead, forbade her to think her
Lucius lost to her for ever; but reason, quenched in the night of pagan
darkness, presented no hope to the mourner’s view. She wept in despair,
and, turning wearied and dispirited from the cheerless gloom with which
polytheism invested the grave, recollected that her beloved Lucius had
affirmed himself to be a worshipper of the God of Adonijah with his
latest breath. To him she resolved to apply for information, and,
suddenly overstepping the bounds of prudence, appointed a meeting with
him at the house of her nurse.

Cornelia, the person who stood in this endeared relation to the
priestess, was a freedwoman of Grecian descent and some learning, and
the doubts of her foster-child had been frequently discussed with her
before she agreed to become her assistant in this difficult affair. It
was a question in which her inquiring mind became anxiously interested,
while her prudent foresight took every necessary precaution to preserve
the reputation of her beloved charge from suspicion, and her life from

Adonijah came; his auditors were attentive and willing; the evidence he
brought appeared to their unsophisticated minds conclusive. The creation
of man, his fall, the calling of Abraham, the patriarchal history, the
law, the divine voice of prophecy, were received with wonder, adoration,
and faith. To these sublime truths the heathen mythology did indeed
appear “idle tales.” He spake of a future state of existence, and Lucia
seized the idea with all the enthusiasm that formed so striking a part
of her character. She wept still for Lucius, but holy hope, like the
rainbow, glistened through her tears.

While thus employed in the daily instruction of his proselyte, Adonijah
forgot the sorrows of captivity, of exile, of loss of kindred, as he
listened to her sweet voice, or gazed upon her fair face now glowing
with the brilliant tints of health, happiness, and love. Together they
prayed—together discoursed on the chosen people of God; while his
disciple hung entranced over the wondrous record of Israel’s triumphs
and Israel’s woes, now weeping with the captivity of Judah, now exulting
with the return of the exiles to the promised land, till the scholar and
preceptor seemed to have one heart, one faith, one soul.

As soon as the light of revelation dawned upon the vestal’s mind, she
felt she dared not continue her daily ministrations at the altar of a
pagan deity. To avow her faith was to doom her beloved preceptor and
herself to a cruel death, but even death she preferred to taking her
sacerdotal part in the approaching festival of Vesta.

The struggle of her soul between her duty to God and regard to her
reputation, by affecting her health, allowed her an opportunity of
returning to her brother’s house till her recovery. An old law in such
cases gave the sick vestal a change of abode, and the privilege of
choosing three of the noblest matrons in Rome for her nurses. Lucia
Claudia named her sister-in-law, and thus gained the asylum she
required. Some weeks had elapsed since she had watched the sacred fire,
upon the preservation of which the Roman people believed that of their
state to depend. The vestal priestesses might quit their profession
after thirty years’ attendance in the temple, and marry; but as Lucia
Claudia was still in the flower of her youth, many years must elapse
before she could be free to leave the altar.

She had been dedicated at seven years to Vesta by her eldest brother, at
an age when she was an irresponsible agent, and had no means of opposing
his will. Her father was dead, but Lucius Claudius as his representative
could legally exercise his absolute rights over his child. She
determined to consult Julius upon the possibility of her leaving her
profession, since to remain in the Vestal College was incompatible with
the faith she had embraced.

In Rome every young man of rank was a pleader, and Julius possessed the
eloquence of the Claudian family, united to a competent knowledge of
law, and was well qualified to advise his sister on a point so delicate
and intricate as that on which she ventured to consult him, though not
without dreading his sarcastic censure.

Julius Claudius neither reproved nor annoyed her; he was delighted at
her resolution, and praised her courage. He had always regretted a
measure that had devoted to joyless celibacy a beautiful and high-born
lady, who might, but for that bar, have been the consort of an emperor.
He entreated Lucia Claudia to intrust her cause to him, promising her a
complete and honourable release from her vows, as the reward of her
confidence in his friendship and talents.

Julius Claudius, who intended to give his sister in marriage to the
favourite minister of Nero, Nymphidius Sabinus, of whose passion he was
the sole confidant, was prepared to exert his eloquence and legal skill
in order to render Lucia an agent in his own aggrandizement. He wished
to be Curule Ædile, and resolved to purchase that office by the
influence of Nymphidius with Nero: Lucia’s hand was to be his bribe to
the enamoured prætorian præfect. From Nero he expected no opposition;
the emperor had no veneration for Vesta, whose priestess Rubria he had
seduced. He was Pontifex Maximus too, and if he did not prosecute Lucia
Claudia, no other person could arraign the ex-vestal. Nymphidius insured
his concurrence, and Julius undertook his sister’s cause as soon as he
knew that the imperial High Priest of Jupiter, the legal guardian of the
Vestal College, would sanction the proceeding with his sacerdotal
authority. Julius Claudius alleged two points against the legality of
his sister’s admission into the feminine priesthood of which she had
been such a distinguished member; one of which was based on truth, the
other on deliberate falsehood. The first stated that she had not been
balloted into the college, but presented against her will by her
brother; the second declared her to have been previously contracted to
Nymphidius Sabinus during her father’s lifetime, and therefore rendered
ineligible for an office which required those who filled it to be free
from matrimonial engagements. The assertion was received with murmurs of
indignation, but Nero pronounced that Lucia Claudia had ceased to be a
vestal, and no member of the sacerdotal colleges dared resist his will.
Even the Maxima Cossutia remained silent; but Cornelia Cossi, the second
in rank, was less cautious. She denied the pre-engagement of Lucia
Claudia, and declared her worthy of the living grave decreed by the laws
of Numa as the fitting punishment of the vestal who violated her vows.
Nero heard her in sullen silence, but Rubria was observed to tremble.
Did no dire presentiment cross with its ominous shadow the haughty
priestess who then appealed to Nero in his sacerdotal character to
revive a fearful law that long had slept, but was destined to be revived
to condemn and destroy her. That night Cornelia dreamed she was Maxima,
and that Lucia Claudia was buried alive.

The sister of Julius remained at his Tarentan villa while these
proceedings took place in the Vestal College, but the summons of her
brother brought her to Rome, where the sight of a garland suspended over
the portal of his house on the Palatine Mount informed her that her
cause was gained.

Julius, in narrating his legal proceedings, dared not mention the false
pretext he had audaciously devised and urged; indeed, he shrank from
insulting a noble and chaste Roman virgin with the plea that had
virtually compromised her reputation in freeing her from her sacerdotal
vow. He left the odious task to the præfect himself, whose daring mind
might have scrupled to unveil the fact, if he had not imputed Lucia
Claudia’s resignation to motives more in accordance with his views than
he had dared to hope; but even Nymphidius Sabinus was abashed by the
virtuous indignation manifested by the woman he loved, and dared to
claim. Lucia Claudia had expected to meet contempt, reproaches,
derision; but for this dreadful blow she was not prepared. She knew that
even by the good and virtuous she should be censured; but to become
their abhorrence—to be claimed by Nymphidius as his wife—to be
perjured thus in the eyes of all men, was worse than death to her high

Young, fair, and noble, admired, venerated, almost deified by those
whose superstitious notions made them regard the vestals as the
guardians of Rome, Lucia Claudia was not insensible to the homage paid
to her charms and virtue. She gloried in her spotless character, and
prized, dearly prized, her popularity. She now experienced the
annihilation of all her earthly hopes, and felt the reverse most
severely; for those whose idol she had lately been, loaded her with
invectives; nay, worse, the dissipated, the vicious, dared to place
themselves upon a level with her purity, and insulted her with their
congratulations. If she sought refuge in the solitude of her own
apartment, Julius Claudius invaded its privacy, either to bring her into
society she detested, or to subject her to the suit of the bold
profligate man who dared to call her his affianced wife. Lucia found her
trial bitterer than death, but she still relied upon the God of Israel,
for whose sake she was suffering shame and reproach.

On the ides of March, the anniversary of that festival when the
priestesses of Vesta rekindle the sacred flame, an unusual gloom
oppressed her mind. The weak spouse of Julius, who had wounded her ear
by repeating the idle gossip and malicious comments circulating at her
expense among the higher circles of Rome, concluded her oration by
advising her to marry Nymphidius, as the only measure likely to restore
her reputation.

Lucia abruptly quitted her sister-in-law, and, stealing out of the
house, attended by Cornelia, entered the gardens of Lucullus, at that
time, she knew, deserted for the temple of Vesta. She was enveloped in
the pallium, or large mantle worn by the Roman lady abroad, her face
covered with a thick veil, and thus disguised from observation threw
herself down by the side of a fountain, under a cypress tree, and,
leaning her head on the bosom of Cornelia, wept bitterly. Feminine and
gentle as she was, Lucia was not devoid of the lofty pride of her
family. A Roman by birth and education, she attached great importance to
general opinion, and valued her reputation beyond her life. Her deep
sighs, her streaming eyes, betrayed the warfare of her soul. Disgrace
and shame hung over her fair fame, and would cleave to it in this world
for ever. Yet she blushed at her weakness even while abandoning herself
to sorrow, and, suddenly falling upon her knees, prayed for strength and
support from that God for whose sake she had given up all earthly
distinctions to suffer contempt and obloquy.

The sound of her voice drew the attention of a venerable man who was
passing through the garden, who, attracted by its tones as with
something familiar, approached the spot, and regarded the kneeling form
of Lucia with the deepest interest and compassion. Her veil, falling
over her face, partly concealed it from his view, but its elegant
outline had left an indelible impression upon his memory. It was that
priestess of Vesta who had delivered him from the rage of his
enemies,—then high in the esteem of all men, happy, admired, beloved,
almost adored; now despised, reviled, forsaken. Full of benevolence and
holy love, Linus mildly addressed his preserver, and, taking her hand
with a paternal air, said, “Weep not, Lucia Claudia, like those who have
no hope. Look unto Jesus Christ, who is strong in salvation, mighty to
save, and be comforted.”

Lucia raised her streaming eyes, and recognised the Christian bishop
whom she had preserved from martyrdom by claiming her privilege as a
vestal priestess, when her womanly heart had led her to pity the
Christians as victims of Nero’s cruelty, though without feeling any
interest in Him for whose sake “they suffered such things,” or even
inquiring into the nature of the doctrines they professed. To her they
had only appeared “setters forth of strange gods;” mystics who led
inoffensive lives, and held secret worship in honour of some deceased
person whom they deified. There was something so compassionate in Linus’
manner, so venerable in his appearance, that, disconsolate and
distressed as she was, commanded Lucia’s attention, and compelled her to
listen to him.

“Noble lady,” continued he, “you preserved my life, and gratitude will
not suffer me to leave you without offering you sympathy and counsel.
Through the grace of God you appear to have ‘cast away the works of
darkness,’ for I hear you, who of late were a heathen priestess, calling
upon Jehovah in prayer; but how is it that you omit to offer it through
His name for whose sake alone it can find acceptance with your Heavenly
Father—even through Jesus Christ, His beloved Son, ‘in whom He is well
pleased’—the Redeemer of a lost and ruined world, ‘who was crucified
for our sins, and rose again for our justification’?”

“Father,” replied Lucia, wiping her eyes, and looking up with an air of
earnest attention, “I know not Him of whom you speak. Convinced of the
vanity and blindness of that idolatry to which I had been dedicated, I
have become a convert to Judaism, and have learned to worship the God of
Israel as the Creator and Preserver of all men; and I look for another
life, after this transitory existence shall have passed away: but of
this Christ, from whom your sect is called, I am ignorant altogether.”

With the dignity and simplicity of truth Linus unfolded the divine
mission of the Saviour to sinners; the necessity of such an atonement,
and the impossibility of coming to God by any other way than through
faith in His blood; declaring that the Messiah, whose coming Lucia had
been already taught to expect, was indeed “this very Jesus whom the Lord
had made both God and Christ.”

The mysterious doctrine of the cross, “to the wisdom of this world
foolishness, and to Israel a rock of offence,” was a saviour of life to
the meek females who now heard it for the first time. Upon their minds
the bright effulgence of “the Sun of Righteousness arose, with healing
on his wings.”

“And did Cæsar slay the Christians for such pure doctrines—for
following such a Saviour as this?” demanded Lucia. “Unhappy Christians!
what tortures did ye not undergo on this very spot!”

“Call them not unhappy, noble lady,” replied the venerable man. “Here
was the scene of their martyrdom, it is true, but it was also the scene
of their triumph. They ‘counted all loss, nay, even their lives were not
dear to them for Christ’s sake.’ Here, invested with the tunic of the
incendiary, they were lighted up as a spectacle to a barbarous and
unbelieving people.” He paused; tears filled his aged eyes as he
recalled the sufferings of his Christian brethren, and Lucia’s now
flowed as fast from sympathy as they had lately done from ‘the sorrow of
this world.’ “This is human weakness,” continued he; “but you did not
see me weep when your compassion saved me from death. For the sake of
the persecuted flock of Christ, I rejoice that my life was prolonged,
but ‘to depart, and be for ever with the Lord,’ is the desire of his
unworthy Servant.”

He then invited his attentive auditors to meet him in the oratory of St.
Peter—a secret chamber on the Ostian Way, where that great Apostle had
been accustomed to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles, and where he
nightly instructed the heathen, and ministered to the Christians. His
flock was rapidly increasing, and included several members of Cæsar’s
household. For though not many noble were called, yet the Christian
Church was composed of persons of every degree, who were prepared to
seal their faith with their blood, should a second persecution expose
them to that trial. He made Lucia Claudia acquainted with the mysterious
sign by which the brethren knew each other in the crowded streets of the
Roman metropolis. He would charge the slaves of her household, who were
members of the Church, to conduct her and her nurse to their oratory,
who would make themselves known to her by crossing themselves in the
fashion he had shown.[9]

Linus then bade his auditors farewell, by giving them, instead of the
usual “Vale,” the apostolical benediction of “Peace be with you.”

A change had passed over both: Lucia Claudia was “almost a Christian,”
while Cornelia was altogether one. Human passions, love and pride, were
not dead in the heart of the young Roman lady; but the freedwoman
embraced the hope set before her, with firmness and constancy. Lucia
Claudia was enthusiastic and imaginative; she would have died rather
than given up the faith whose mysteries Linus had just unfolded to her;
but she was about to be exposed to a trial more difficult to withstand
than death—the martyrdom of the affections. How would Adonijah receive
the intelligence of her conversion to the doctrines he hated and


[9] That the sign of the cross was used in this manner is apparent from
the works of Lucian, a heathen satirical writer; and from the Apology of
Tertullian we likewise learn that it was introduced by Christians in
their private devotions in the second century. In the earliest and
purest era of the Church, however, there is no reason to believe that it
was introduced in any other manner than as a private signal expressing
the willingness of the party to suffer for Christ. The Church of
England, in her baptism, appears to give its true use and explanation in
the primitive sense. At the period of which I am writing, superstition
had not mingled error with the simplicity of Christian worship.

                              CHAPTER XI.

                    “Child of dust, corruption’s son,
                     By pride deceived, by pride undone;
                     Willing captive, yet be free,
                     Take my yoke and learn of me.”

Where the Christian Church was at this period, was a question naturally
occurring to the mind of the Gentile then, and the believer now. Rome
anciently stood within the broken centre of a volcano,—an inference
drawn by modern geologists from a careful survey of its strata. The
city, as it extended, was gradually built over the old quarries from
whence the volcanic substances, pozzolana and tufo, were obtained for
the buildings of the city. These species of stone were very easily
worked, and the spot where they were found was called Arenaria.[10] As
these labyrinths extended a considerable way underneath the city, they
naturally became the refuge of the unfortunate. They had, therefore,
been the hiding-place occasionally of runaway slaves in the time of the
old republic; but when the persecution of Nero blazed against the
Christians, these gloomy cells afforded a secure refuge to the infant
Church of Christ. Here thousands of Christians lived, died, and were
buried; here were their churches and their sepulchres; for they, “of
whom the world was not worthy,” dwelt in caves and dens, forsaking all
things, so that they might but win Christ. The existence of these
quarries or catacombs were known to the Roman people; but the
intricacies of their winding passages had not been explored perhaps for
centuries. With many villas and houses the entrances of the Arenaria
communicated; for when the inhabitants professed the new faith, they
were able to attend the services of the primitive Church without serious
danger; these openings also enabled them to escape to their brethren
when denounced to the heathen ruler of their people. In some cases these
desolate asylums had not remained inviolate, for more than once the
faithful pastor had been torn from his flock and hurried to the block,
the fire, or the cross, according as his rank or station might be. The
Roman citizen was generally beheaded, the slave was always crucified or
burned alive. Accident or treason alone occasioned the fierce heathen to
enter these hidden places of worship, but it was a time when brother
rose against brother, to put them to death; besides, we must not be
surprised at finding Judases among the primitive Church when there was
one in the little fold of Christ.

It was to these depths that Linus had retired after his deliverance by
Lucia Claudia; it was here he had offered up his prayers for the
conversion of the heathen priestess, over whom he had watched with the
tender compassion of a Christian and the vigilance of a shepherd seeking
to save a wandering sheep. Among the slaves of Julius Claudius were many
Christians, who belonged to his flock. From them he had learned that
Lucia Claudia was influenced by different motives to those ascribed to
her by the world, that she spent her time in privacy and prayer, and
that they suspected she had become a proselyte to the Jewish faith,
since she was known to converse more frequently with the Hebrew slave
Adonijah than it was customary for noble Roman ladies to do. The
influence this captive Jew seemed to have acquired over Lucia Claudia
was even superior to that he had held over the mind of her deceased
brother, and certainly they thought might be adduced to the same cause.
Linus rejoiced to find that religious motives alone had induced the
vestal to leave her cloistered seclusion, and, being accurately informed
of her movements, he had followed her to the gardens of Lucullus, and
addressed her as we have seen. He hoped to bring Adonijah also within
the fold of Christ, as the rich reward of his having won these noble
Romans from the night of pagan darkness in which they had been involved,
till this Israelite indeed brought them to worship the only true God in
spirit and in truth.

Lucia Claudia was surprised to receive from the aged Fulvia, one of her
brother’s bondwomen, the sign which was to convey to her an intimation
that she was the Christian to whom she and Cornelia were to intrust
themselves. In that humble old woman she had not expected to find a
Christian, but she returned the signal, upon which Fulvia, with great
animation, embraced her, saying, “Lady Lucia, my prayers for thee are
heard. Go, for God is with thee, and fear nothing. Yea, be strong and
courageous in the Lord, trusting the brethren in the household, who will
guide thee faithfully to the Church beneath, in the hope that the
doctrines thou wilt hear there to-night will lead thee to the Church of
the blessed one above.”

“Thou art then a Christian,” replied Lucia.

“Noble Lady, I am a deaconess of the Church, and many of this household,
both male and female, are worshippers also of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Lucia looked at Cornelia in mute surprise, and then at Fulvia.

“Yes, Lady Lucia, even in Cæsar’s household there are men who are ready
to die for that faith the emperor persecutes. Already ‘its sound has
gone forth into all lands, and its words to the end of the earth,’ and
‘the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’ Dare you trust the
slaves who have become the freed-men of the Lord, and have embraced
Christianity at a time when its converts are assailed with fire and
sword? If so, I will come to you in the dead hour of midnight as your

“I dare,” replied Lucia Claudia, and she looked at Cornelia. “Thou, too,
wilt go with me, my nurse?”

“I follow thee, my foster-child, to death,” was the answer of the humble
but truly attached friend. Fulvia smiled benignantly upon the new
converts and withdrew.

In the still hour of midnight Fulvia, veiled in the Christian fashion,
entered the apartment where Lucia and Cornelia anxiously awaited her
coming, enveloped also in their veils and palliums. Without uttering a
syllable, Fulvia motioned them to follow her. Softly she glided along
the corridor, till she gained the door that opened into the offices
belonging to the house. Then she entered the court which was
appropriated to the slaves, and, threading the mazes of a covered
passage, struck sharply against the wall, when, to the surprise of her
trembling companions, a large stone sliding back revealed a flight of
steps, feebly illuminated by the light of a lamp, that glimmered in the
distance like a faint star. Lucia did not perceive by what means the
solid stone had receded from its place; to her it seemed the work of
magic art, and she shuddered and clung to the arm of her nurse.

Cornelia, more self-possessed, had noticed that it was drawn up by two
men, aided by some powerful machinery, and that it was cautiously and
instantly replaced. With Fulvia for a guide, the new converts traversed
many winding passages, sometimes turning to the right or left, till they
overtook some persons with torches in their hands, who gave them the
sign of brotherhood, and in whom they recognised a part of the
household. These slaves greeted Lucia Claudia with more than usual
respect, and, falling back, permitted her to pass them, with the
exception of Glaucus, the freedman of Julius Claudius, who held a torch
in his hand, and now preceded the sister of his lord. Perceiving that
Lucia was not entirely without fear, he occasionally addressed her,
explaining that she was in the Arenaria, and that many of the passages
she crossed led under the principal streets and palaces of Rome, and
that the converts of the new faith had pierced openings from their own
houses, as the slaves in her brother’s household had done. He bade her
observe how curiously these vaults were supported without the aid of
masonry, and that they were seemingly as firm as when hollowed many
centuries before. Suddenly he ceased speaking, but, striking sharply
with his staff against the wall, paused for an instant, when a groove
was suddenly drawn back, and a stream of light flashed upon the eyes of
Lucia and her nurse, and Linus, in his white stole, came forward and
welcomed them to his church. Then the slaves who had followed Lucia
Claudia arranged themselves on each side of the chapel, the women
covered with their veils, the men uncovered. Each person hid their faces
in their hands and said a short prayer. Linus stood before the altar
awaiting the gathering together of his flock, who kept flowing in from
the opposite entrance. The short delay permitted Lucia to examine the
curious cavern that the Christians had dedicated to the worship of their
God, which here was of width and length capable of holding several
hundred persons; the roof was supported by its own strength, without the
aid of pillars; it was rather low than lofty; the walls were pierced
with niches, filled in with marble or tiles; the same emblems adorned
these tablets as Fulvia had displayed that evening. From the
inscriptions upon them Lucia discovered that they were the tombs of
Christian martyrs, for the palm and the cross were the distinguishing
marks of a Christian sepulchre in that day. The altar was the tomb of a
martyr; thus even the dead in Christ seemed to appeal to the living,
that they also might follow the example of their constancy.

The prayers, the hymns, the spiritual worship of the primitive Church,
the eloquence of its oratory, found its way to the bosom of the new
converts, and when they came forward at the termination of the service
to offer themselves as candidates for baptism, they were greeted by the
whole assembly with the utmost affection. The slaves of Julius’s
household shed tears of joy. Linus then addressed to them a short but
impressive admonition. He told them that the times were perilous, and
that those who embraced the faith of Jesus must first count the cost,
since they warred not only with flesh and blood, and with spiritual
wickedness in high places, but with the whole powers of darkness. That
they were bidden to take up the cross, not counting their lives dear
unto them, but forsaking all to follow Christ.

Upon Lucia and her nurse declaring their readiness to do this, Linus
accepted them as candidates for baptism, and at parting gave them the
vellum rolls containing the Gospel of St. Luke; then, solemnly blessing
the assembly, the congregation dispersed, Fulvia and the household
slaves again taking charge of the new converts, and the whole party
safely regained their abode before the dawn could betray their holy
vigils. It was in this manner the primitive Church kept her sabbaths.
The simplicity, the purity of the worship of the Christians had nothing
in it to captivate the senses, but it had everything to touch the heart.
The gorgeous ceremonial of pagan mythology might dazzle the imagination
of its votaries; it could never regenerate the soul: and what was its
doubtful future when contrasted with the paradise promised to those who
lived and died in the Christian faith? Lucia Claudia, in her beautiful
enthusiasm, would at that moment have given her body to be burned, or
yielded her neck to the sword, rather than have given up her hope in
Christ. Yes, she would have done all this; but would she have given up
the idol of her soul, the beloved Adonijah? Ah, weak as a child with
regard to the affections, she forgot that to some natures the fiery
trial of martyrdom was easier than the call to give up the dearest
object of the heart, if love of that object clashed with the profession
of the Christian faith.

We know less of this portion of the first Christian century than any
other, for the bitter persecution which had fallen upon the Roman
Christians, and deprived them of their glorious Apostolic teachers St.
Peter and St. Paul, had compelled them to conceal themselves from
observation; therefore we have no exact account of the manner in which
they worshipped God, for the history of the Church of Christ given in
the Acts ended with the two years’ sojourn of St. Paul in his own hired
house. We must therefore draw on later authorities for the description
of Christian ritual.

The age was still Apostolic, two of the companions of the Saviour yet
survived in the persons of Symeon and John; therefore no liturgy, unless
we admit that of St. James[11] to be genuine, was in use, at least not
in the Gentile Churches. In the early Apologies of Athenagoras, Justin
Martyr, and Tertullian, and in the letter of Pliny the Younger, the
reader will find the primitive order in which the Sabbath services were
celebrated. Afterwards the prayers of devout Christians were collected
and arranged in the liturgical order in which we now have them. The
manner in which the Psalms are read in the English Church was adopted by
the early one of Alexandria, from the Jewish ritual.

The primitive service, according to our earliest account, that drawn
from the lips of the deaconesses by Pliny, commenced with a hymn in
honour of Christ, sung alternately, which was followed by the
worshippers binding themselves to observe the moral law with scrupulous
exactness; after which they separated, but met together in a general
repast, partaken together, temperately and without disorder. But the
Christian authors cited give a perfect view of divine worship in the
second century, which consisted of singing, prayer, preaching, and the
reception of the Lord’s Supper, the substance being essentially the same
as it is now,—the arrangement alone being different. The liturgy
growing as it were out of the injunction of St. Paul, “Let everything be
done with decency and order.”


[10] Now called Satterrania, by the Romans, from Subterranea, the modern
Latin name of these quarries.

[11] As the Jewish Church always had, and still has, a liturgical
arrangement, the litany of St. James may have been used in the Christian
Church of Jerusalem, but certainly without the additions at the end,
which now disfigure it, as no invocations to saints were admitted into
the worship of the primitive times. The prayer itself is very
evangelical and beautiful.

                              CHAPTER XII.

                      “I am amazed—and can it be?—
                       —Oh mockery of heaven!”

Unconscious of her danger, because unconscious of the vast influence the
Hebrew captive held over her mind and affections, Lucia Claudia, though
aware of his hatred to Christianity, did not know that in communicating
to him the fact that she was a catechumen (as those persons were called
who had put themselves under a course of instruction previous to their
Christian baptism) she would risk the loss of that faith which seemed
then so precious to her soul.

Adonijah listened to her recital in gloomy silence; nothing but his
intention of learning, through her, the secret places of meeting in
which the Christians celebrated their Sabbath made him hear her story to
the end. More than once he rent his clothes, and struck his forehead or
smote upon his breast, while his countenance expressed grief,
indignation, and mortification; but when she announced to him that she
was a candidate for baptism, he fixed his eyes upon her face, and with a
start of horror turned away; then looked at her again, at the same time
uttering a cry that thrilled to the soul of Lucia Claudia. She stood
trembling before him, not daring to contend with the emotion that shook
the frame of her lover.

“The glory, the glory has departed from my head,” cried Adonijah; “the
daughter of the stranger who came to put her trust in the covenant, she
who put her trust in Jehovah, has revolted from Him. Ruth the Moabitess
clave to Him in spirit, but Lucia Claudia has apostatized from her God.”
Then Adonijah threw dust upon his head, and rent his garments in the
vehemence of his sorrow.

“Hear me, Adonijah—dear Adonijah,” continued Lucia Claudia, “for to
thee also is this great salvation sent. Jesus Christ is the Messiah of
thy people, the promised seed of the woman ‘who should bruise the
serpent’s head.’ He is the everlasting Son of the Father, the Redeemer
and Saviour of the world.”

“Blasphemy, blasphemy!” exclaimed Adonijah, and then—but who shall dare
to utter the despiteful words that the blind Pharisee spake against the
Hope of his fathers, the blessed Lamb of God? He seemed touched by the
terror of Lucia, for, suddenly softening his voice from the tones of
rage to those of deep tenderness, he threw himself at her feet, and
taking her hand bathed it with his tears. “Wilt thou,” said he, “wilt
thou, my beloved, place an eternal bar between us? Wilt thou forsake me?
I had lost all, but the Lord, in giving me thee, restored parents,
brethren, and country. Oh, my dear proselyte, my own familiar friend,
thou with whom I have taken sweet counsel, forsake me not. I love thee
as no Hebrew ought to love the daughter of the stranger; and thou, thou
lovest me, Lucia, and yet thou breakest my heart.”

He wrapt his face in the folds of Lucia’s mantle and wept. She, moved to
the soul by his passionate eloquence, and still more passionate grief,
leant fondly over him, “Be calm, be calm, my Adonijah,” she whispered;
“I cannot endure this warfare, it rends my soul.”

“Defile not thyself with this baptism, bid me look up and live. The
Nazarene is my abhorrence, and must I hate thee? Rather let me die.
Lucia Claudia, raise me up with words of peace and comfort, or bid me
depart from thee for ever.”

“For ever?” murmured Claudia.

“Yes, for ever,” was his reply. “To me the Christian, Lucia, must become
a stranger, an accursed thing.” Again he lifted up his voice and wept,
for the anguish of his benighted soul was great.

Lucia wavered for an instant, then she raised her lover up, and fell
upon his neck and wept; he drew her to his bosom, for he felt that he
had conquered, and joy and hope lighted up his countenance as he hung
over his beautiful, his recovered proselyte, who, insnared by her
affection for him, had forsaken the faith of Christ.

Did earthly passion blight all this heavenly promise in its first birth?
How could Lucia Claudia meet sterner trials when a few passionate tears
had power to move her thus? It was the weakness of the moment, for when
alone she experienced deep remorse for a compliance wrung from her by
the reproaches and entreaties of Adonijah. She felt her apostasy, but
she knew not how to give up one dearer than the light of heaven to her
eyes and heart. Cornelia saw the struggle of her soul, and her soothing
words gained her confidence, her admonitions pointed out her danger.

Cornelia was no longer under the dominion of the passions. She had
proved the vanity, the nothingness of all that the world could offer.
The faith that presented to her view the glories of the world to come
stood bright and alone. Temptation could not shake the heart which was
given up to God. She warned Lucia of her danger; she reminded her that
there could be no compromise here, that she must give up all for Christ,
or return to doubt and darkness. “Thy affection has misled thee, my
child; but thy love to Adonijah had been better shown in leading him to
Christ than in revolting from the faith to pacify him. Pray for his
conversion, but be stedfast thyself; return to Him from whom in thy
weakness rather than in thy unbelief thou hast wandered.”

Lucia feared that her contrition would not be accepted, but she threw
herself upon her knees, humbly confessing her guilt, and imploring that
mercy of which she almost despaired.

Cornelia soothed her foster-child, and upon her maternal bosom Lucia
could find sympathy. The Greek then unrolled the vellum scrolls and
commenced reading the wondrous history of a Saviour’s love as recorded
by St. Luke. If the beauty, the sublimity of those opening chapters
awaken the intensest feeling in the bosom of the reader of our own day,
to whom they have been familiar from infancy, what was their effect upon
these Gentiles who for the first time perused them? Lucia Claudia no
longer believed upon the word of Linus alone, she rested her faith upon
the word of God.

Painfully aware of her own weakness, she wisely left to Cornelia the
task of informing Adonijah of her stedfast determination to become a
Christian. He heard this resolution with bitter indignation, but when
the pious Greek besought him in Lucia’s name, and for her dear sake, to
listen to the preaching of Linus, he laughed scornfully and left her
abruptly and in anger.

That night Lucia Claudia and the brethren in her household again
attended the midnight worship of the Christians, and among them came
Adonijah. Surprised, delighted, hoping that here his bitter hatred must
expire, his heart must be softened, Lucia watched him as he stood half
shadowed by a tomb, and sorrowed when he gave no sign of relenting; and
thus he remained proudly apart for many successive nights, cold,
obdurate, and dead to the beams of the gospel light as the stone upon
which he leaned.

The Christians of Julius’s household became alarmed respecting his
object in frequenting the midnight assembly, and they hinted their fears
to Lucia Claudia and her nurse. Neither entertained a doubt of
Adonijah’s integrity; they naturally concluded that the intense jealousy
of a lover made him keep watch thus over his beloved. He disdained to
hold the slightest communication with any part of the Christian flock of
Linus when in private. To Lucia Claudia he showed the cold respect due
to the sister of his lord, to Cornelia he never spoke at all.

Upon the morning preceding the night of her baptism, Lucia Claudia
resolved to break this mysterious silence, for she had determined to
leave clandestinely her brother’s house that she might devote herself to
the service of the Christian Church. Cornelia, her nurse, was to be the
companion of her flight; her fortune she was about to bestow upon the
Christian community, a measure commonly adopted by the wealthy converts
of that day. She would thus be safe from the odious addresses of
Nymphidius, who had daringly told her that she was fated to become his
bride. She would also be secured from the dangerous influence Adonijah
still held over her heart. She must leave him, but not without a parting
gift, a parting blessing. What man could not accomplish, the word of God
might yet effect, and the heart that would not bow before the mighty
eloquence of Linus would melt, perchance, over the record of the
sacrifice and sufferings of the Son of God.

The household of Julius Claudius was suddenly at this time removed to
Tivoli, and thither his sister was compelled to follow him. She had been
too closely watched to effect her escape by the descent that led down to
the catacombs, nor could she offer any pretence for remaining behind
with those persons who kept the house. The freedman Glaucus was to
convey the necessary information to the bishop, of the change in her
plans, and to arrange that some of the brethren were to meet her at
midnight near her brother’s villa. In these days it is almost impossible
to understand the powerful influence of a body so closely united as the
Christians then were, extending on every side, and comprehending every
order and degree in society; in which rich and poor, noble and slave,
Jew and Gentile, the barbarian and the Roman citizen, formed one
fellowship, and were knit together in the bonds formed by the
constraining love of Christ. It was this beautiful union in the
Primitive Church that first attracted the suspicions of the heathen
ruler of the world. While others more virtuous could say, “See how these
Christians love one another,” Nero only saw conspiracies and plots
against his government; for goodness and religion to him appeared only a
flimsy veil to hide corruption and wickedness like his own. The
Christian union was one of brotherly love, and Lucia Claudia knew that
she was surrounded by a secret circle of friends to whom she could
confide herself and her wealth, without an anxious thought. In leaving
light and sunshine for gloom and darkness, Lucia Claudia only lamented
Adonijah; for was not she about to embrace a faith that must separate
them for ever, unless his stubborn soul submitted also to its easy yoke?

She found the Hebrew in that ruined fane, where her idolatry had
formerly moved his indignation, and where he had betrayed his love. He
was reclining at the base of a shattered column, tracing Hebrew
characters upon the sand. His deep abstraction, his air of proud
melancholy, harmonized with the desolation round him. It was Marius
among the ruins of Carthage, or Nehemiah lamenting the prostration of
Zion. The magnificence of the figure, the intellectual beauty of the
countenance, awakened in Lucia’s bosom a thousand fond regrets. She
sighed deeply as she remembered that it was not as a lover but as a
Christian she had sought this interview, and that it must be brief and
passionless. That sigh recalled Adonijah from his abstraction, he looked
up and recognised his once dear Lucia.

“Why are you here, destroyer of my peace?—do you come to weave your
magic spells about my soul? Away, enchantress, away!” cried he

“Bid me not depart, Adonijah, or at least not here, where gratitude
reminds me of the mighty debt I owe you. It was here that you rebuked my
blind idolatry, it was here you avowed your love. Yes, beloved Adonijah,
you shook here my trust in the superstition to which I had been
dedicated, and brought me from pagan darkness to the worship of the one
true God. We are about to part—we who have prayed so often together—we
who have vowed eternal love, hopeless though that love may be. Yes, we
must part—but not unkindly, not in anger. Take these scrolls, my
brother, and keep them in remembrance of me. They contain the evidences
of that faith of which the ceremonial law of Moses was but the type and
shadow. Read them, and compare them with the Scriptures, and see if it
be not so. Then Adonijah the Christian may claim his Christian bride.”

Lucia Claudia blushed deeply, and, extending the delicate hand that held
the holy Gospel, timidly, yet beseechingly, regarded Adonijah. How
beautiful was that tenderness, how frank and yet how chastened by modest
dignity was that avowal! Adonijah was almost more than man to resist it.

“Tempt me not, Lucia,” he replied, “to my undoing; the bribe is mighty,
but I am strong in faith. Well is it for thee that thou art no daughter
of my people, for then in obedience to a tremendous law my hand must be
first upon thee to cast the murderous stone, though thou wert the wife
of my own bosom, or the friend dearer than my own soul.”

He repulsed the hand she proffered, and, snatching the vellum scrolls
Lucia Claudia held towards him, trampled them scornfully beneath his

“Cruel Adonijah, and is it thus we part? Oh, I had hoped that the
preaching of the word would have melted away these proud and stubborn
thoughts. Why have you frequented our midnight assemblies, why has your
shadow haunted me, unless it were to pass between me and my God?”

Adonijah laughed bitterly; that scornful laugh thrilled painfully from
the ears of Lucia to her heart. Could he betray her—could his stern
integrity stoop to a measure so infinitely base and unworthy of him? Oh
no! woman’s trusting love forbade a thought so wild.

“Adonijah,” said she, “you were kinder to the priestess of Vesta than to
the worshipper of the true God.”

“Oh that you were still the idolatress—the heathen priestess—or
anything but an apostate from Jehovah! Go, leave me, guileful Gentile;
leave me in solitude and misery to curse the day when first a true
Israelite gazed on your fatal form, and, all-forgetful of his creed,
madly doted upon the daughter of the stranger.” With these words
Adonijah quitted the presence of the distressed and weeping Lucia

                             CHAPTER XIII.

    “No place could be better calculated to answer all the purposes
    of the primitive and persecuted Christians, than the
    subterraneous caverns of the Arenaria.”

The measure Lucia Claudia was compelled to adopt was one of necessity
rather than choice. She would willingly have remained in her brother’s
house, if that house had been a safe abode for a virtuous woman. If she
could have kept the retirement of her chamber inviolate, the Christian
would not have considered it an imperative duty to quit the protection
of her natural guardian.

While she still wore the vestal habit, no one dared utter a word to
wound her pure and spotless virtue but when the sacerdotal profession
became inconsistent with her worship of the God of Abraham, and she
abandoned the sacred robes, each sensual guest of Julius Claudius seemed
to forget the deference he once had paid to the vestal sister of his
friend, and openly congratulated her upon her change of life. Atheists
and scoffers had hitherto been unable to disengage their minds from the
chain superstition had woven round their earlier years. Now that
restraint was gone, and, incapable of appreciating the motives that had
influenced Lucia Claudia, even if they had known them, they daringly
imputed them to guilt, and considered her as something more profane and
lost to virtue than themselves. Nymphidius Sabinus alone still regarded
Lucia Claudia as the purest of her sex. At first he had suspected that
she had quitted her lofty position to espouse some favoured patrician,
but he vainly watched for some confirmation of his suspicions. To him
she appeared as icily chaste, as vestal-like, as inaccessible, as when
she wore the consecrated robes of the dedicated virgin. The idea that
she was a Christian suddenly entered his mind. He remembered that
memorable day when she had claimed the privilege of her order to save a
Christian pastor. It was clear to him that the woman he adored was a
secret disciple of Linus, Bishop of Rome. It was strange that he had not
discovered this before. His knowledge of her secret would render him the
master of her destiny. For her creed he cared not, so that she were but
his wife. He communicated his suspicions to Julius Claudius, who seemed
convinced of their truth. It was then agreed between them that a removal
to Tivoli would preclude Lucia Claudia from taking counsel with the sect
whose tenets she had embraced. Nymphidius was to intimidate her into an
acceptance of his suit, in which he was to be seconded by his friend.
The fears of a timid young woman they considered would lead her to a
marriage that she denied to his love. Ignorant of these devices against
her peace, Lucia Claudia had listened in indignant silence, while on the
way to Tivoli, to the artful hints thrown out from time to time by her
brother Julius, who daringly insinuated that a marriage with the son of
the bondwoman, Nymphidius, could alone restore her tarnished reputation.
The feeble-minded Antonia, the wife of Julius, took that opportunity of
repeating all the idle reports in circulation in Rome respecting Lucia
Claudia’s abandonment of her vestal life. Among other things she assured
her that no one was more severe in her judgment upon her conduct than
Cossutia, the Maxima, or Chief Vestal. Lucia knew this was true, and it
pained her deeply, for Cossutia had loved her intensely, and had been
the faithful guardian of her youth. She had vainly endeavoured to see
this lady, that she might clear her fame by avowing the motives that had
influenced her conduct. The Maxima had haughtily declined the interview,
and her displeasure had planted another thorn in the bosom of her former

Forsaken by the wise and virtuous among the heathens, and obliged to
associate with dissolute persons of both sexes, who frequented the house
of her brother, exposed to the suit of Nymphidius, and deprived of the
support a noble Roman matron ought to have afforded her, she felt that
the roof of Julius was no suitable abode for her, and that to join the
brethren had become her only choice.

She had indulged the benevolent wish of rearing the lovely scion of her
house, the infant son of Julius and Antonia, in the principles of the
Christian faith. The babe greatly resembled his lamented uncle Lucius,
whose name he bore, and this likeness joined to the winning smiles of
infancy had endeared him to his aunt.

She was compelled to give up this hope, but she left him with deep
regret. Her parting interview with Adonijah greatly unnerved her; nor
did the presence of Nymphidius Sabinus at all revive her spirits. Her
languid appearance seemed to plead for rest, and her early retirement to
her dormitory excited neither surprise nor suspicion.

In the privacy of her own chamber, Lucia Claudia mentally recalled the
trials she had endured since she had abandoned the idolatrous worship of
Vesta. Was not this the literal fulfilment of the command of Jesus,
“Take up the cross and follow me,” and should she repine?

At first her notions of the truth had been indistinct and shadowy. So
dazzled had she been by the full blaze of Gospel day, that her
perceptions resembled those of the blind from birth to whose eyes the
light is first revealed. Cornelia in the beginning of her Christian
course had been the most stedfast, for Lucia had almost shipwrecked her
new-born faith against the precipice of earthly love. She had stumbled,
not to fall, but to become more perfect. Her deep penitence had brought
her to see more clearly that Divine love that had sent forth the Son
from the bosom of the Father, to die for the sins of men, to redeem a
ruined world. Her feelings were far more vivid than those of her nurse.
She had not only been a heathen priestess, not only the blind worshipper
of an element, thereby transferring the worship due to the Creator to
the creature He had formed, but she had taught others to do the same.
Her sin was ever before her eyes, but this consciousness only made her
cleave more closely to the atonement as her refuge. Once the noble Roman
lady had gloried in her spotless reputation and sacerdotal profession,
but this glory had become her shame; for, meek and lowly in her own
eyes, the Christian neophyte no longer minded earthly things. The Spirit
was not given by measure to the Christians of that early day, when His
miraculous gifts were poured out upon the primitive Church, whose
suffering state required such mighty help; for the neophytes were often
called from the waters of baptism to meet the fiery trial of martyrdom,
and, relying upon the Power present with them, “endured the cross,
despising the shame,” like Him whose followers they professed to be.
Comforted with the thoughts of spiritual support, Lucia Claudia and her
faithful nurse quitted the villa of Julius in the dead of night, and
took the road to Rome. They were met upon the way by the freedman
Glaucus and several of the brethren, who safely conducted them to the
subterranean abode of Linus.

In the morning the disappearance of the Lady Lucia Claudia and the
freedwoman Cornelia excited great alarm, and an active search was
instantly set on foot by Julius and Nymphidius. Towards noon these
endeavours to trace the fugitives were suddenly discontinued, to the
manifest surprise of the whole household, both pagan and Christian.

                              CHAPTER XIV.

          “Whose is that sword, that voice and eye of flame,
             That heart of unextinguishable ire?
             Who bears the dungeon keys, and bonds, and fire?
           Along his dark and withering path he came—
           Death in his looks, and terror in his name.”

Fresh from the waters of baptism, and united with the Church in the holy
rite by which Christians commemorate the dying love of their Lord, a
divine peace filled the hearts of Lucia and her nurse. Arrayed in
spotless robes of white, emblematical of the new spiritual life upon
which they had entered, they stood in the centre of that little flock,
into whose society they had just been admitted, receiving the blessings
and congratulations of their brethren. A holy light shone in the
upraised eyes of Lucia, no longer gleaming with the wild enthusiasm of
the heathen priestess, but full of calm, heavenly joy. No earthly
thought, no earthly feeling, intruded on these hallowed moments. Even
Adonijah was forgotten. Love divine filled and possessed her heart. This
rapture seemed to absorb her being for a time, but when burst from that
assembly of true worshippers the lofty hymn of thanksgiving, it found
words and rose to heaven in a sweet song of praise. At the instant these
triumphant hallelujahs echoed through that subterranean temple of the
Lord, a band of armed men rushed in, headed by Julius Claudius,
Nymphidius Sabinus, and Adonijah, and, advancing into the circle in
which the neophytes stood, confronted them with menacing looks and
threatening gestures.

For a moment the timid woman prevailed over the saint and heroine, and
Lucia Claudia uttered a thrilling cry of agonized amazement as her eye
fell on Adonijah. He had betrayed her—he for whom she would have died,
for whom she would have given up all but her hope in Christ. A pang,
intenser than that which separates soul and body, pierced the maiden’s
heart, as she slowly turned her eyes upon her lover with reproachful
tenderness. From that glance of love and sorrow he shrank away, unable
to sustain the cruel part he had chosen, or to look upon her whom he had

Nymphidius laid his hand upon his victim’s arm, but she shrank from his
touch with a gesture indicative of so much horror, that he resigned her
to her brother, of whose presence she till then was not aware. The sight
of him inspired her with some confidence, and, throwing herself upon his
neck, she uttered the most pathetic entreaties for the lives of those
whom her rash confidence in Adonijah had put in such fearful jeopardy.
He coldly replied “that he could only answer for her safety, the fate of
those to whom she had united herself being in the hands of Nymphidius.”
She fixed her imploring eyes on the face of the Præfect, but no mercy
could be traced on his stern, collected features. His only answer was a
sign to the soldiers to put the Christians to the sword, who, gathering
round their Bishop, silently awaited their doom. Breaking from the arm
of Julius, Lucia threw herself at the feet of Nymphidius, and besought
him “to have mercy on the little flock” with streaming eyes and
passionate entreaties.

“Become my wife,” said the Præfect, in a low but distinct voice, “and I
will not slay these Christians.” She started from her knees with
aversion and loathing on her countenance. “Remember, Lucia Claudia, that
the alternative is death. Even the friendship between me and your
brother cannot save you from the penalty you have incurred. Young,
beautiful, rich, noble, and beloved as you are, can you prefer death to
espousing a man who adores you?”

“I can die,” she replied—“it is not difficult for a Roman to die; but
these Christians, whom I have been the means of betraying, must they die

“My daughter,” rejoined the venerable Linus, advancing towards her with
dignity, “plead not for us; we are ready not only to be bound, but to
die for the Lord Jesus.”

“Father, I have brought these wolves upon you,” cried Lucia, wringing
her hands; “it is I who have unwittingly betrayed my brethren;” and
again she renewed her supplications to the Præfect on her knees.

“I have named the conditions,” was all the reply he deigned to return to
her entreaties.

Lucia hesitated; the Bishop marked the struggle of her soul. “God can
defend his own Church; yea, if it be His will, He also can deliver it
out of this impending danger. Daughter, ‘be not unequally yoked with an
unbeliever.’ We are all baptized into one faith, let us glorify God by
dying together.”

“In flames, in tortures!” exclaimed Nymphidius, elevating his voice till
the vaulted roof re-echoed with its terrific tones. “I tell ye that the
horrors of Nero’s first persecution of this vile sect shall be forgotten
in the tremendous vengeance of his second.[12] Maiden, do you remember
the illumination of the imperial gardens?” continued he, bending down to
the suppliant, who still grasped his knees. He felt the shudder that
thrilled through her frame at the ghastly recollections he had called

“We must abide it as best we may,” murmured she. “My own sufferings I
can endure with constancy, but how shall I see those my rashness has
brought down on these?”

“I swear to thee, most fair and noble lady, that not a hair of their
heads shall perish for this cause. Yes, Lucia Claudia, by thyself I
swear not only to preserve, but to protect them. Nay more, thou shalt be
free to follow this strange superstition, wild and mischievous though it
be, so that you promise to become my wife.”

“I promise,” she faintly uttered, and sank in a swoon at his feet, a
swoon so death-like, that when the Præfect raised her up, he feared that
he held only an inanimate corpse in his arms.

In this state the affianced bride of Nymphidius Sabinus was borne into
her brother’s house. In this sad condition Adonijah beheld the unhappy
victim of his bigotry—her to whom he had professed the most passionate
love. As the females of the household removed her veil to give her air,
her bright ringlets, those ringlets lately hidden beneath the head-dress
of the vestal, fell round her face, giving to its paleness a more
death-like character. Her whole figure, indeed, enveloped in the white
robe of the neophyte, resembled more a statue of Parian marble than
living flesh. Convulsive starts and deep sighs alone betrayed that she
still breathed and suffered. What a sight was this for a lover to
behold! Adonijah stood contemplating his work for a moment, then rushed
forth in an agony of remorse.

The familiar voices round her recalled the unfortunate lady to life; she
opened her eyes, raised herself from the encircling arms of Nymphidius
with an air of ineffable dignity, and, taking the arm of Cornelia,
retired to her own apartment.

Here, to the surprise of her brother and Cornelia, she shook off the
anguish that oppressed her soul. It was more than Roman fortitude she
displayed, it was the courage and resolution of a Christian. Throughout
that trying night she watched and prayed for strength to endure the
living martyrdom before her, and when the morning came she was resigned
and tearless. Julius fixed an early day for their return to Rome and her
espousals; she did not oppose him, but meekly besought him to permit her
to keep her own apartment, with Cornelia for her sole companion, till
the hour when Nymphidius would come to claim her promise.

The fatal day arrived, and the nuptials of Lucia Claudia were celebrated
with all the magnificence befitting her high rank, as well as with those
heathen rites her Christian profession taught her to consider impious.
Arrayed in saffron robes, and splendidly adorned with jewels, the bride,
unveiled, sat, according to custom, in the centre of her own
sitting-room to receive the farewell visits of her relations, and the
congratulations of her friends. The slaves of both sexes were freely
permitted to take their leave and pay their compliments on this
occasion. Adonijah, unable to absent himself, came with them, resolving
at first to avoid looking at the betrothed of Nymphidius, till a fatal
curiosity attracted his attention to her. Surrounded by the great and
gay, Lucia Claudia, among her maidens, looked pale and victim-like, till
she saw Adonijah, when a burning blush flushed her cheeks, and tears
rushed to her eyes; then, restraining her feelings, though with effort,
she became tintless as before. She received the presents lavished upon
her without any of that pleasure so naturally manifested by the bride
about to be united to the object of her choice. This ceremony gone
through, she sat still and motionless as a statue till the steps of the
bridegroom and his train were heard approaching, then her heart beat
audibly, and she turned one last, last look upon her lover; that look
expressed all her love, regret, and despair. This lingering tenderness
still clung to the bosom of the injured maid, notwithstanding her
wrongs, and filled it with tenfold bitterness. Nymphidius approached to
lead her to the temple of Juno Juga, whither all present followed the
ill-matched pair.

Adonijah stood by during the ceremony that united Lucia Claudia to the
object of her detestation. He saw her given, with abhorrent heathen
rites, to another. He beheld her shudder while the priest placed the
vervain garland and nuptial veil upon her brow, and the ring on her
finger; for he knew and felt that she loved him alone, cruel and
treacherous as he was, even while giving her hand to his rival.

Adorned with all the insignia of marriage, the bride sustained her
firmness till the hour arrived when Nymphidius and Julius raised her in
their arms, according to custom, to bear her to her future home. Then
her constancy appeared to forsake her, for her struggles were real, and
her cries expressed the genuine character of her despair. Far above the
Epithalamium they were heard, and she was borne over the threshold with
actual, not counterfeited, violence, so deep was the feeling of
abhorrence with which she regarded the man to whom she had just given
her hand.[13]

The nuptials of Lucia Claudia with Nymphidius was the result of
Adonijah’s treachery, but such had not been his intention. To destroy
the Christians, and prevent her from receiving baptism, was his motive
in betraying her retreat to Julius. That discovery threw her into the
arms of his rival. The thought was like fire to his proud heart, and a
burning fever seized his brain, and before he recovered she had been
many weeks a wife.


[12] See Appendix, Note VI.

[13] The Roman bride was carried into her bridegroom’s house with
counterfeited violence, in remembrance of the manner in which the Sabine
virgins had been forcibly wedded by her Roman ancestors.

                              CHAPTER XV.

                           “In my choice,
            To reign is worth ambition, though in hell:
            Better to reign in hell, than serve in heaven.”

If the death-pangs of hope prevailed over the haughty spirit and manly
strength of the Hebrew, how did they rend the softer bosom of the newly
wedded bride united to the cruel, licentious Præfect. Unequally yoked
with an unbeliever, did Lucia Claudia betray by her manner to him in
their domestic intercourse the greater horror and disgust with which the
closer view of his character inspired her? No; the Christian wife of
Nymphidius strove to correct his errors, and, though foiled in her
attempt, concealed the crimes she could not soften. He loved her—if a
passion so selfish, so madly jealous, was worthy of the name of love;
but knowing that he never possessed her heart, he watched her closely
and secluded her from every eye. This seclusion was grateful to his
wife, who in the brightest bloom of beauty consented to remain a
prisoner in the house of her husband, who feared that the charms that
enamoured him might captivate some more favoured suitor. A sense of
degradation made Lucia shrink from the public gaze, but her retirement
was not passed in vain regrets and useless complaints. She endeavoured
to implant Christian principles throughout her heathen household;
gathered together such of her slaves as were willing to profit by her
instructions, and taught them the truth “as it is in Jesus.” Incapable
of virtue himself, the Præfect loved and venerated it in his wife, who
vainly tried to win him to the Lord. Ambition, a mightier passion than
that softer one he felt for her, ruled his soul. The belief that he drew
his birth from Caligula, which had haunted him while a slave, still like
an ignis fatuus urged him onwards. Freedom, fortune, rank, power, the
unbounded favour of Nero, were gifts too mean to content his insatiable
desires. The empire of the world, which he considered his
birthright—for even the worst of men assign some plausible motive under
which they seek to disguise their crimes from their own view—was the
only thing that could satisfy his ambition. To compass this end he
resolved during his consulship with Tigellinus to hurl his master from
the throne, and then to destroy his tools, together with the aged man he
pretended to call to rule over the Roman people. A sea of crime and
blood in perspective appeared between him and the sceptre he resolved to
seize; but what were crimes and blood to a man of his bold temper and
aspiring mind? He had grown up in guilt, and every step he had taken to
advance his fortune was a deeper step in iniquity. The wild scheme he
planned was deeply locked up in his own breast, but there were times
when he longed to impart it prematurely to some one. There was none but
Lucia in whose faith he dared confide; but he did not venture to
disclose a secret that he knew would excite her abhorrence and alienate
her affections, if indeed he possessed them. The virtuous partner of his
couch guessed but too well the guilty machinations of his heart from his
troubled sleep; for sleep, that seals up the thoughts of innocence,
unlocks the bosom ones of guilt. The conscience of the consul Nymphidius
slumbered in the day to wake again at night. How often did the gentle
voice of Lucia break upon his midnight dreams of agony, and soothe his
tortured spirit into peace! How often did she pray him to repent and
seek the Christian’s creed, the Christian’s hope! Her accents never
failed to charm away those horrors of remorse, but with morning he
recovered his natural energy of purpose, and planned again his dark
ambitious schemes. Did no recollections of the bigoted but dearly loved
Adonijah intrude upon the mind of Lucia? No; for from the hour she
became a wife she never suffered his name to pass her lips. It was only
in prayer she dared remember him, so deep was her sense of the
impassable barrier existing between them. Once, and only once, since her
marriage had she beheld him. The meeting was accidental, and both
hastily averted their eyes; for even the Christian proselyte did not
hold the nuptial vow more sacred than the Hebrew slave. To him she was
now the wife of Nymphidius Sabinus, a beautiful woman whose happiness
was destroyed by him, but on whose dear and beloved remembrance he must
dwell no more, unless he would break those laws of Moses he imagined he
had hitherto kept inviolate. Unrestrained in the exercise of her
peculiar tenets, religion poured its holy balm into the bleeding breast
of Lucia, who brought her daily sorrows to the foot of the cross. As she
advanced in Christianity she learned to imitate her dear Redeemer, and
prayed unceasingly for the conversion and pardon of her cruel brother
and unbelieving spouse; and, in imparting the glad tidings of salvation
to her heathen household, and in communion with her Christian
brethren,[14] she enjoyed that peace of God that passeth understanding,
and that even lightened the bonds that chained her to Nymphidius

During the brief period when Lucia Claudia engrossed his affections, the
patriotism that formed so striking a feature in the character of
Adonijah slept; but when all hope perished, when to think of her became
a crime, when her very remembrance recalled the cruel fanaticism that
had degraded his moral dignity, and abased him beneath the vilest, the
fate of Judea again swallowed up in its absorbing vortex his whole
being. The revolt of Vindex—the voice whose deep unearthly tones were
heard calling Nero by name from the sepulchre of his ancestors, as if to
summon him to share their repose—filled the Romans with awe and
expectation, and the Hebrew with lively hope. The emperor, forsaken by
his flatterers, found his vast palace a gloomy and insupportable
solitude. Tigellinus, Helius, and Nymphidius, the guilty instruments of
his crimes, abandoned him at this critical juncture. Galba, called upon
by the army, the people, and by Julius Vindex, the virtuous Gaul,
opposed the caution of age to the call of patriotism and the voice of
ambition. A breathless pause intervened before the overflowing torrent
of popular feeling found a channel, till a battle, founded on a fatal
mistake, was fought between Virginius, the emperor’s general, and Julius
Vindex, in which the noble Gaul was defeated, who rashly threw himself
upon his own sword, gave a turn to Nero’s affairs, whose spirits rose
from deep dejection to a pitch of extravagance, as seizing his harp he
celebrated the triumph of his arms with more skill than good feeling.
His favourites, his flatterers, returned, and sumptuous shows and
splendid games obliterated the memory of his past danger. Pomps and
pageants, however prized by the vulgar in times of plenty, excite their
utmost indignation in times of dearth. Rome was threatened with famine,
and the ship expected to bring corn from Alexandria was laden with sand
from the banks of the Nile to smooth the arena. The popular feeling
blazed, and symptoms of a general revolt appeared in the gloomy
countenances of the people. To save himself from the certain fall of
Nero, and to ingratiate himself with a new emperor, induced Tigellinus,
then with Nymphidius joint Præfect of the Prætorian camp, to seduce the
soldiers he commanded to revolt from Nero. His colleague was actuated by
a different motive, though outwardly avowing the same intentions. To him
the name of the hoary Galba was but a phantom, a shadow to terrify and
destroy the man who then occupied the throne of the Cæsars. He, the son
of Caius Cæsar, would then assert his rights and assume the imperial
purple. The machinations of this iniquitous pair succeeded with regard
to Nero. The camp, the senate, the people, united in one act of justice,
and he fled from the palace to fall by his own unwilling hand.

During the space that intervened between the revolt of Vindex and the
death of the Emperor Nero, Julius had retreated to his villa at
Tusculum, following the suggestions of his own timidity and selfish love
of ease. Voluptuous, vain, ungrateful, and cruel, the luxurious
favourite, who used to flatter the follies and vices of his lord while
in prosperity, was the first to sneer, deride, and forsake him in the
hour of adversity. True, on his hearing the victory of Virginius Rufus
he made preparations for his return, till, warned by a message from
Nymphidius, he countermanded his orders and continued where he was. The
death of Antonia his wife, whom he buried in a sumptuous manner,
afforded a plausible pretext for keeping himself very private at this
critical juncture, and he amused himself with embellishing his house and
grounds, or in dictating verses to Adonijah, who filled the post of
amanuensis to his master as well as preceptor to his only son, a
beautiful boy of five years. This last employment was entirely
gratuitous, for in the noble child the slave traced the features of his
uncle Lucius, softened into the feminine beauty of his aunt. In the
culture of the rapidly developing powers of the infant Lucius, and in
the contemplation of those affairs that would most probably engross the
whole energies of the Roman people and permit his own countrymen to
shake off their yoke, Adonijah passed his time not unhappily in this
agreeable retreat.

Rome in the mean while was plunged into fresh commotions. Nymphidius, in
the name of Galba, seized the reins of government, and, excluding his
colleague Tigellinus from the præfecture and consulship, resolved to
reign either as the minister of Galba or in his own right. Finding
through his spies that the new emperor had other ambitious favourites,
he resolved to possess himself of the purple without a rival. He called
upon his friends and confederates, who applauded his resolution, and
agreed to accompany him that evening to the Prætorian camp. Claudius
Celsus alone warned him that the Roman people, arrogant as in the days
of their virtue, would never accept for Cæsar the son of the bondwoman
Nymphidia. The son of that bondwoman was resolute, bold, and ambitious;
his career had never been retarded by a fear, or deterred by a scruple,
and everything had hitherto succeeded to his wish.

An unusual movement in the Prætorian camp brought his fate to a crisis;
his intentions were already known there. The venal soldiers were
prepared to receive him as their future emperor, when a tribune named
Antonius Honoratus suddenly turned the tide flowing in the favour of
Nymphidius against him, by a speech whose truth was only equalled by its

The noise of the shouts those fickle soldiers gave reached the ears of
the deceived Nymphidius, who suddenly resolved to throw himself among
them without waiting for the presence of the other conspirators. At this
important crisis his thoughts suddenly reverted to his wife: an
undefined foreboding of coming evil entered his breast; he had never
experienced the sensation before. He must see her, must bid her
farewell; perhaps he might never return. He entered her apartment and
found her seated beside a small table perusing some vellum scrolls, a
silver lamp burning before her cast a sort of glory round her
exquisitely moulded head and waving ringlets, a white robe fell round a
form whose living beauty sculpture would vainly imitate. The holy peace,
the deep repose of innocence and purity rested on her lovely features as
she bent over the inspired writings with rapt attention, undisturbed
even by the step of the ambitious aspirant of empire. He looked
earnestly and intently upon his Christian wife, a momentary calm stole
over his senses, he uttered her name, but the tones died away unheard.
The distant shouts from the camp excited a fresh fever in his brain.
“Lucia Claudia!” cried he, and his voice, no longer indistinct, sounded
deep as from out of the earth. She started in surprise and terror as she
rose to meet him. The muscles of his throat were swollen, a fearful
energy sat on his brow, his eyes were fixed and glaring, but gradually
softened as they encountered hers. Some terrible determination was
struggling within his soul; she almost imagined he intended to do her
harm. Suddenly Nymphidius caught her in his arms and passionately and
repeatedly embraced her, then flung her from him, then caressed her
again. She endured this without returning his caresses or resenting his
violence. “You do not love me!” he exclaimed,—“you hate me, and yet I
am risking my life to make you the greatest lady in Rome; but, mark me,
Lucia Claudia, I will neither live nor die without you. The partner of
my throne or of my grave, no power shall divide your fate from mine. If
I fall, you shall never wed another man; for if I thought so, I
would——” he laid his hand on his sword with a terrible look that gave
full meaning to the unfinished sentence.

Lucia’s countenance expressed apprehension, she trembled, she
endeavoured to speak. He drew her to him, pressed a kiss on her brow,
and disappeared; she heard him speaking to his freedman, and then his
footsteps echoed on the marble pavement of the court beneath. He went
alone to the camp, and perished there.


[14] See Appendix, Note VII.

                              CHAPTER XVI.

                        “When died she?”—BYRON.

       “From the last hill that looks on thy once holy dome
        I beheld thee, O Zion! when rendered to Rome:
        ’Twas thy last sun went down, and the flames of thy fall
        Flashed back on the last glance I gave to thy wall.”

The report of Nymphidius’ death reached Julius Claudius the following
day. He became alarmed and apprehensive for his sister’s safety, yet did
not possess sufficient courage or brotherly love to go to her himself.
To avoid the danger incidental to facing a popular tumult, and to afford
Lucia Claudia the succour and support she needed, he resolved to send
Adonijah to Rome to bring her to his home. Accordingly the Hebrew
departed in company with several slaves and gladiators belonging to the
household. He found the metropolis of the world in a state of anarchy
and confusion that defies description; he saw the dead body of
Nymphidius dragged about the streets; it was covered with wounds, and
the stern features bore the same expression of sullen pride and
undaunted resolution that they had worn in life. The ferocity of the
unclosed eye told that he had died sword in hand, contending with
unequal numbers. “How mutable is fortune!” thought the Hebrew. “But
yesterday, and this man was a consul and præfect of the Prætorian camp,
and in the full lust of unbridled power was acting tragedies that made
men regret the rule of Nero; now his cold remains are wantonly defaced
by those very people who feared him yesterday, and paid him almost
divine honours. O fickle, unbelieving crowd, when shall ye be swept away
before the avenging breath of the Messiah?”

The house of Nymphidius was surrounded by soldiers, who refused
admittance to Adonijah; the promise of a donative in the name of Julius
Claudius, and a few coins thrown among them as an earnest, induced them
to give the party admission. What a scene of desolation presented itself
to his view! The valuable movables defaced and removed—torn
raiment—pavements that were stained with the marks of recent debauchery
and recent slaughter. In Lucia’s apartment a scattered lock of
sun-bright hair, and some vellum scrolls deeply stained with blood, told
a tale of terrible import; a dagger still red with slaughter lay near.
The victim was gone, but these evidences revealed her fate. He caught up
the dagger, determined to sheathe it to the hilt in the bosom of the
murderer of Lucia. Without a tear he gathered up the relic of the woman
he had loved, enveloped it in the parchments, and put it in his bosom.
Rushing forth he demanded in a fierce voice, “What had become of the
wife of Nymphidius?” She had not been seen, she was doubtless dead; but
all denied having been actors in that horrid deed. He showed the dagger,
and it was recognised as having been worn by Marcus, the freedman of
Nymphidius, who was dying of his wounds in an adjoining apartment.
Thither Adonijah repaired to learn the fatal truth. The film of death
had gathered over the eyes of the expiring man; the centurion thought he
would never speak again. Regardless of the pain he was inflicting,
Adonijah thundered out the name of “Lucia Claudia;” he would have
demanded the particulars of her murder, but memory at this agitating
instant failed him, and he relapsed into his native tongue, unable to
form a sentence in the Latin language, familiar as it was now become.
The centurion guessed what he would ask, and the dying man replied to
his questions in the slow laboured accents of death: “When my master was
quitting his house for the last time, he called me to him and said,
‘Marcus, if no message comes from me in the course of an hour, slay my
wife without delay,’ I stared and thought he had lost his senses, but he
sternly repeated his words, adding, ‘If you neither hear from nor see me
in that time, do as I bid you, or your life shall answer for your
disobedience; remember, it is Nymphidius Sabinus who now governs Rome.’
This I knew to be true; but I was sorry for the lady. I knew not his
reasons then, but I know them now; he was determined that she of whom he
was so infinitely fond should not survive him if he fell.” The dying man
gasped as if in mortal pain.

“Proceed, if you can, and briefly too,” remarked the centurion.

“The time elapsed, the hour was long past, and still no message came
from the camp. I went to the noble lady, I told her all, she pleaded for
her life, I dared not listen.” The narrator paused, his breath came and
went, but he collected his fainting powers: “I seized her by her long
hair, and aimed a blow at her throat; but——” here the strong pangs of
death silenced the speaker, a livid shade came over his features, a
torrent of blood issued from his mouth, and he died without concluding
his story. Enough, however, was told to prove that the cruel jealousy of
Nymphidius Sabinus had pursued his wife beyond the grave.

Adonijah listened to this recital with rigid and immovable features; the
slaves who loved Lucia Claudia raised a loud lamentation. He was
stunned, stupefied, and remained in the same attitude of intense
attention. His companions, wishing to offer the last rites to the
remains of the beautiful and unfortunate Lucia Claudia, instituted a
rigorous search for her body, but in vain. Cornelia was found dead in
her own chamber, but as no marks of violence were discovered on her
person, they supposed she had died from fright. The populace had glutted
their fury on the household of Nymphidius. The innocent and guilty died
together, with the exception of some few individuals who happened to be
absent at the moment of their entrance. The slaves of Julius supposed
that Marcus had conveyed away the corpse of his victim, and loudly
lamented that a daughter of the noble house of Claudii should pass
unhonoured and unsepulchred to the grave in the flower of her youth and
beauty. Adonijah, who remembered that she was a Christian, supposed that
the remains of the murdered Roman lady had been consigned to the gloomy
caverns of the Arenaria.

From that hour a deeper gloom darkened the features of the Hebrew slave.
He considered himself as the cause of Lucia’s miserable wedded life and
death. Remorse, deep, vain remorse, filled his breast with thorns.
Bigotry no longer made a base action appear heroic. Now he would rather
have seen her a Christian than beheld the pale, bleeding phantom his
conscience raised up. She, gentle, compassionate, and good, had been
wedded to the cruel Nymphidius; and, still the victim of his barbarous
love, had died by the hand of violence. He wished, he longed to die with
her; but grief, that bows surely but slowly the fragile form of woman,
vainly contends with the majestic strength and iron nerves of man.

Galba ascended the throne of the Cæsars, but his plainness and frugality
disgusted a people inebriate with luxury. The severity of his
punishments deservedly excited the popular indignation. Nor could his
military virtues atone for his avarice; he fell after a short reign of a
few months by the hands of the soldiers who had elevated him to the
imperial dignity. The death of the new emperor Otho, and the victory of
Vitellius, followed fast upon each other. The empire, torn with
contending factions, seemed dividing asunder. The plains of Italy were
deluged in blood, and the new master of the world, uniting in his own
person all the vices without the dignity of the Cæsars, soon gave his
fellow-citizens reason to repent the self-murder of Otho.

During all these revolutions and fierce contests for power, the Jewish
war was still continued by Vespasian; but the expectations of the
appearance of a deliverer grew stronger in the breasts of the lost house
of Israel, as their means of defence grew feebler. The prophecy, that
the ruler of the world should arise out of the land of Judea, was
prevalent throughout the empire. The Jews applied it to their expected
Messiah; the Romans, soon tired of the tyranny of Vitellius, to Flavius
Vespasian; the Christians alone understood it of the spiritual kingdom
of Christ. Adonijah hoped, expected, believed, that the hour was fast
approaching when his countrymen, headed by the Messiah in person, should
fulfil the ancient sacred oracles, and rule all nations. Meanwhile that
dear unforgotten country was waging a fierce war with the Roman legions.
Jerusalem, that holy city, still strove in vain to avert the awful doom
pronounced against her by the lips of that crucified King, whose eyes
had wept over her coming woes. Surrounded by a trench, and encompassed
about with Gentile armies, “the abomination of desolation stood where it
ought not to stand;” the noise of a host was around her sacred walls,
while within their guarded circle her guilty children waged a frantic
and more terrible war with each other. Famine, rapine, and murder were
preying on the vitals of the city; the Gentiles warred without the
gates. Adonijah feared that his countrymen were wasting in intestine
broils the golden opportunity the civil wars of Rome presented; but he
knew not that the Lord himself had sworn to destroy Jerusalem. The
captive believed that the Lord Jehovah would yet arise and miraculously
deliver the besieged city, as in the days of Hezekiah, and “with his own
right hand and holy arm get Himself the victory.”

For a time Julius Claudius figured at the court of the new emperor,
sharing in his gluttonous feasts and sottish revelries; but rumour
whispered ominous things of the instability of Vitellius’ government,
and the wary courtier retired in time to avoid the coming storm.

The strange fondness that makes us regard inanimate things with a
species of idolatry that have even touched those we love, made Adonijah
hoard with jealous care the last memorials of the dead Lucia—the fair
ringlet torn from her beloved head, the cruel dagger, even the vellum
scrolls containing the life of Him he deemed a false prophet, but whom
the Christian wife of Nymphidius had worshipped as a God. Curiosity
tempted him one day to unroll the sheets stained deeply with the
life-blood of his only love. By chance his eyes fell upon the section
containing the predicted woes of Jerusalem. To a candid and impartial
reader the events of the present times were so clearly marked out, that
nothing but the blindness of bigotry could have prevented him from
acknowledging that the prophecy was about to be fulfilled. The fanatic
zeal of Adonijah, and his detestation of the very name of Christianity,
came between him and conviction; he crushed the ominous record of coming
woe beneath his feet, and clung to the vain hope that Israel would yet
conquer and prevail.

The revolution that hurled the monster Vitellius from the throne, filled
Italy and Rome with slaughter; and the splendid military career of
Antonius Primus called Vespasian home to reign. Then the expectations of
Adonijah grew stronger, and, forgetting that the brave son filled the
father’s place, awaited the advent of the Messiah with enthusiastic and
unshaken faith. The despatches of Titus to the emperor and senate spoke
of the fall of Jerusalem as a certainty, but the Hebrew slave gathered
hope even from circumstances where others would have despaired.

Julius Claudius was not very well received by Vespasian, who despised
his effeminate habits and dissolute manners; nor was the Sybarite better
pleased with the rough, plain dealing of the veteran warrior whom the
army and people had elevated to the throne. He resolved to avoid the
court till the return of Titus, who in his dissipated youth had been his
intimate companion and friend.

The hues of autumn were beginning to embrown the woods of Italy, but the
heat of summer still lingered as loth to quit the plains. The excessive
warmth of the season induced the luxurious Julius to change the sultry
atmosphere of Rome for Tivoli, whose vicinity to the metropolis made it
a very desirable abode to a man who loved to hear all the gossip of the
court. An attempt to assassinate him was made by Tigranes at this place
while he was enjoying his afternoon repose. From this danger Adonijah,
who heard his cries, delivered him, by attacking the assassin, wounding,
and disarming him. Tigranes, who had loved Lucius Claudius, had
determined to revenge  his death; and, as he lay mortally wounded on the
ground, boldly avowed his motive, reviling Adonijah for frustrating what
appeared to him an act of justice.

Adonijah was startled at the accusation. The countenance of Julius
confirmed, he thought, its truth. That tremor, that deadly paleness,
that cowering eye, looked like guilt. Scarcely could he restrain his
hand from plunging the dagger, yet reeking with the blood of Tigranes,
into the breast of the fratricide he had just preserved from a violent
death. From the promises, the profuse thanks of his master he turned
away with disgust. Julius read his feelings in his expressive face, and
hated him from that moment.

This incident gave Julius an aversion to Tivoli, and made him fix on
Tusculum for his permanent abode. Nothing could be more beautiful than
the situation of this villa; crowned by the dark woods of those
mountains from whose heights Hannibal first descried the towers of Rome,
adorned as it was by nature and art, and decorated by the effeminate but
tasteful hand of a master whose quick talents were all lent to the
service of luxury. The delicious coolness of this retreat restored the
drooping frame of the little Lucius to health, who had long pined for
the pure air of the country during his father’s abode in Rome. The
affection Adonijah felt for this charming child partook largely of the
paternal character, and he loved to trace in his open brow and sweet
pensive smile the looks of those who were then only ashes. He taught the
babe to worship the great Being he adored, and to repeat many a sweet
psalm and prayer in that tongue become as familiar to his infant lips as
his own native Latin. Dearly he loved the boy, and dearly was his love
returned by the lavish fondness of his pupil, who twined his feeble
innocence about his strength, and would not leave him for a single
moment. This fragile blossom, fair and evanescent as those sweet flowers
that bloom at morn only to die at eve, required the utmost care to
secure its frail existence. For some days the heats even approached
these mountain solitudes, and paled the new-blown roses on the cheek of
Lucius. The burning atmosphere of Rome seemed to breathe among these
rocks and vales. Not a breeze stirred the trees; the dark woods above
them, even the lighter foliage, drooped towards the earth, parched and
motionless; the very birds forgot to wander through the air, or sing,
for nature herself seemed asleep and silent. The sun, sinking beneath
clouds whose fantastic shapes rivalled the surrounding mountains,
foretold a coming storm. Reclining on a marble couch covered with soft
cushions, the voluptuous Julius Claudius in vain courted the approaches
of sleep. A young Greek slave stood near him agitating the air with a
plume of peacock’s feathers, another youth was singing to a lute touched
by no unskilful hand, to lull the Sybarite to repose, or at least to
please his ear. At a little distance stood the Hebrew slave; the young
son of Julius was sleeping on a cushion at his feet. But the eye of
Adonijah rested not upon the boy’s pale cheek, so lately the object of
his dearest solicitude; he was watching the dense thundercloud that hung
over the capital of the world, enveloping temple, column, and triumphal
arch in a dark shadow resembling a funeral pall. What thought suddenly
flushed the features of Adonijah, and flashed in his dark dilated orbs?
To him the hour of vengeance appeared nigh; the long-expected,
long-wished-for hour, destined to give destruction to the Romans and
deliverance to the children of his people. Doubtless the Lord of hosts
was about to overwhelm that proud seat of Gentile tyranny and sin, as
anciently He overthrew the accursed cities of the plain, leaving the
dead waveless sea to record the mighty miracle for ever. Suddenly the
death-like repose of nature was broken by a rushing wind—a hollow
sepulchral sound, as if from the bowels of the earth, that heaved and
yawned as if ready to sink beneath their feet. The forest trees bent to
the wild blast like saplings, the rocks rent; above and below the
dreadful thunders uttered their voices, while the heavens appeared on
fire. The affrighted slaves crowded about their master in fearful
expectation. The only persons who manifested no terror were Adonijah and
the young Lucius. The babe slept tranquilly, undisturbed by the din of
the fierce elements; the Hebrew stood proud and exulting like an
avenging spirit in the front of that alarmed assembly. He trembled not;
his figure seemed to rise to more majestic height, his dark locks
ruffled with the electric wind streamed back from his temples, giving a
wild grandeur to his whole figure. No sound issued from his parted lips,
but they moved as if his communings were with the awful Power he
mysteriously worshipped. The menial crew surveyed him with mixed
emotions of wonder and affright, almost imagining his spells had called
up the storm. There was a momentary pause, a sudden hush of jarring
sounds, an awful repose, and darkness that might be felt. At this
instant a party of Julius Claudius’ friends rushed into the villa,

“Shelter, Julius Claudius, and a hearty welcome! the news we bring
deserves it. We were on our way from Rome to thee when the storm
overtook us.”

“’Tis an awful night,” returned their host, “and ye are dearly welcome
to me. My boy sleeps through it undisturbed and peacefully.”

“Surely in such a night as this,” cried Antonius, “Romulus became a
star. Old surly Vespasian may stand a chance of sparkling in the sky,
for the tempest hangs lowering over the palace of the Cæsars, as if it
meant to heap the building on his head. But you ask not of our tidings.”

“From Judea, I guess, and Titus is victorious.”

“Jerusalem has fallen,” continued Antonius, “and the temple of her God
is laid in ashes.”

A vivid blaze of lightning dispelled the darkness, and rendered every
object distinctly visible. Adonijah still stood erect, but his features
expressed amazement and despair. The flash was followed by a peal of
thunder that seemed as it would rend the rocks, and pile them in heaps
upon the shattering dwelling, as its long-reverberating echoes leapt
from cliff to cliff; but far above all, mingling its tones with the
dissonance of the warring elements, rose the cry that burst from the
lips of the Hebrew slave, like the wail of the guardian spirit of his
lost land.

The darkness, the tumult passed away, the moon broke forth in peaceful
beauty, shining over the desolated scene. Each cowering head was raised,
and then with superstitious awe every finger was pointed towards the
prostrate form of Adonijah, whom they believed had fallen a victim to
the avenging gods.

With terror in their looks the slaves raised the Hebrew from the ground;
they found him unscathed, unscorched, breathing, but scarcely alive,—no
victim to the infernal gods, though sinking beneath his own contending

His eyes had never marked the bolt of heaven, his ear had never heard
the awful peal that blanched every cheek, unnerved every bosom; for the
deep knell of his native land had thrilled to his brain, and closed his
ear to all other sounds.

Gradually life resumed its functions, he arose and stood upon his feet;
but his look was wild, his answers to the questions curiosity or
compassion put to him unconnected and irrelevant, his reason appeared to
have forsaken him. The little Lucius, awake and fractious, stretched out
his arms towards his guardian friend from his father’s knee. He seemed
to remember the child; the only sign of consciousness or intelligence he
gave, was a look of affection directed towards him.

From that dreary night many weeks rolled by, and still the brain of
Adonijah was disturbed. He raved of his own land, but his accents no
longer flowed in the southern tongue. He imagined himself to be that
patriot seer who remained in Judea to wail and lament over the
desolations of the captive land. Stretched on the lonely heights, or
reclining beside the mountain-stream, the lamentations of the prophet
Jeremiah were the only sounds he uttered. Memory supplied no other idea
but this wild personification, the coinage of madness and misery.

As the mental malady of the unfortunate Hebrew was free from any
attempts to injure himself or others, he was permitted to wander at
will, unrestrained by bonds or watchful eyes; but, from the hour in
which he was struck with this worst of all calamities, the little Lucius
was separated from him. Sorely pined the bereaved child for his tutor,
while his cheek grew pale and hollow, and his mournful wails resounded
in every part of the villa.

One day, exhausted by his own ravings, Adonijah threw himself down by a
fountain in the garden, and a kind of stupor more resembling death than
sleep came over him, when by accident the infant Lucius perceived him,
and, springing from his nurse, ran up to his unfortunate friend, flung
his arms about his neck, and covered his face and hands with kisses,
calling him by all those endearing epithets infancy lavishes upon the
objects of its love. Those sweet silvery accents awoke an answering
chord in the breast of Adonijah. He pressed the boy to his sad bosom
again and again, returned his caresses with passionate fondness, and
bathed him with his burning tears. These tears were the first he had
shed since he had learned the fate of his country. Sanity returned.
Memory resumed her powers, and, though no beacon of hope arose to cheer
the dismal future or illumine the dim darkness that overshadowed Israel,
he looked upon the innocent creature before him, and felt that the love
of Lucius to him was like the fountain in the desert to the fainting

From that day neither the father of the young Lucius nor his numerous
attendants could prevent his becoming the companion of the Hebrew slave.
Any attempt to debar him from the society of his dear preceptor
occasioned such gusts of passion on the part of the child, followed by
sickness and languor, that Julius was forced to acquiesce, lest he
should lose the sole scion of his noble house.

How fond, how proud, looked the boy while leading his melancholy friend
from place to place, guided by the dictates of his own playful caprice,
now sitting on Adonijah’s knee, twisting his ivory fingers in his jetty
ringlets, or flinging his own golden curls against them, and then
laughing at the contrast they presented as mirrored in the fountain at
their feet. When the dark mood stole over the senses of Adonijah, when
the spirit of melancholy madness threatened to return, the sweet face of
his young guardian would reflect his sadness, and he would repeat after
Adonijah those wailing Hebrew strains that fell ever and anon from his
lips. The sound of his own sacred language would recall Adonijah to
himself; he would wipe away the tears from the fair face of the child,
while a torrent of grief and tenderness flowed from his eyes; those
waters of affliction would ease the burning throbbing of his brain, and
the mental delusion for a season would pass away.

These fits of delirium became less frequent, and the attenuated form of
Adonijah gradually became rounded with health; he resumed his
instructions to Lucius, and his pen was again employed in his master’s
service. Still he perceived a marked change in Julius’ manner towards
him,—a failing of that respect he had hitherto received from his
household. He imputed it to the fallen state of his people; but his late
aberration was, in fact, the only cause.

Julius Claudius was much occupied in preparing a gladiatorial show, to
welcome Titus to Rome, where he, with many thousand captive Jews, was
hourly expected. Unfortunately Tullus, his favourite gladiator, was
attacked with a mortal malady, and died the day before that appointed
for the triumphal entry of the conqueror of Judea, leaving him without a
suitable successor. Suddenly he bethought himself of the courage and
former prowess of Adonijah, whose form combined at once all the
requisites of strength and beauty required to give distinction to the
combatant. His malady might return, and render him useless for anything;
on this occasion, at least, he would be invaluable to his master.

The summons of Julius brought Adonijah into his presence; the Roman
hesitated an instant before he dared to issue forth commands so contrary
to the last testament of his brother, so derogatory to his own honour.

“Hebrew,” at length he said in a tone of haughty authority, “I lost last
night Tullus, the most valiant of my gladiators, and I depute thee to
take his place. Thy strength and former feats in arms will make thee
more than a match for thy opponent, and, if thou conquer, freedom shall
be the certain guerdon of the victory.”

“Freedom!” retorted Adonijah with bitter scorn; “what is freedom now to
me? Judea is become ‘a waste howling wilderness,’ and ‘our holy, our
beautiful house, where our forefathers worshipped, is burnt up with
fire.’ The sacred vessels and the book of the law have become the spoil
of the Gentile conqueror, to whom the people of God have fallen into a
second and more terrible captivity. What can freedom offer in exchange
for the blood of a fellow-creature? Man, I will not do thy bidding: it
is written in the law, ‘Thou shalt do no murder.’”

“Slave,” replied Julius Claudius haughtily, “thy limbs are mine, and
unless thou obeyest my will, and fightest this battle with them, I will
rend them piecemeal.”

“Aye, do so—do anything, profligate, ungrateful wretch, but make
Adonijah the murderer thou art. Violate thine oath to Lucius—to the
virtuous, the valiant, and the wise, thy wicked arts destroyed. Reward
the man who saved thee from the just steel Tigranes drew against thee,
by slaying him in defiance of gratitude and honour.”

“I did not kill him; he died in his own bed!” replied Julius, hesitating
and confounded at the accusation. “Who said I poisoned him?”

“I demand the full performance of thy promise, and claim the freedom
bequeathed me by the noble Lucius Claudius. I did not mean to ask it at
thy hands, but now necessity compels me.”

“Thou didst promise to be a faithful servant to me,” continued the
quailed and humbled master.

“Man, I have been more than faithful; I have stood between thee and
death and hell. In services, but not in crimes, I will still yield
obedience to thy will. Go, seek some other Cain to do thy bidding.” With
these words the Hebrew slave quitted the presence of his master, with an
air of majesty that confounded the little-minded man who held the power
of life and death over him, unrestrained by law or principle.

“Proud Jew, I will crush thee yet!” muttered Julius. “Thou shalt view
the degradation of thy people, which to a soul like thine will be
bitterer than death. Patiently he will not see it, and a word or look
will do for him what I dare not do—will destroy him.”

That evening Julius Claudius and his household returned to Rome, where
magnificent preparations were making for the triumphant entry of
Vespasian and his son.

All the slaves received new habits suitable to their servile station;
Adonijah alone was given the costume of his own country; the
magnificence of the material evidently referring to his former
condition, rather than to his present circumstances. The malice of
Julius desired to make it evident to all men from what country his slave
derived his birth; a measure likely to draw down upon his person the
cruel mockeries of a people at once effeminate and barbarous, flushed
too with the success their armies had gained over the miserable remnant
of Israel.

                             CHAPTER XVII.

            “Tribes of the wandering foot and weary breast,
             How shall ye flee away and be at rest!
             The wild-dove hath her nest, the fox his cave,
             Mankind their country—Israel but the grave!”

In obedience to the insnaring commands of his unfeeling master, Adonijah
stood near the Porta Triumphalis,[15] through which that father and son
were to pass on their way to the Capitol, who had subdued the chosen
people of the Lord, and led them to their long and woeful dispersion.
The procession was headed by a band of chosen musicians, who tuned their
instruments and voices to the praise of the victors. Next came the
select youths who led the gilded and garlanded victims, and after them
appeared the spoils of the vanquished nation and the long file of Hebrew
captives splendidly arrayed as if in mockery to their misery. Then the
sacred contents enshrined in the holy of holies were openly exposed to
the view of the heathen multitude. The seven golden candlesticks, the
book of the law, the magnificent vessels given by Solomon, the golden
vine, and all the costly offerings that native Jew or foreign proselyte
had consecrated to the service of the temple of the Lord. The heart of
Adonijah burned with grief and indignation as he witnessed the
desecration of these hallowed things; he felt that God had indeed
utterly forsaken his people. Art was exhausted to make the spectacle
imposing; the pageants represented with cruel fidelity every city, town,
or fortress of his unhappy country, with the part they had taken in this
disastrous war. The ensigns were adorned with paintings representing the
land of Judea before the armies of the Gentile conquerors had defaced
the Eden-like prospect, and on the reverse bore the pictured semblance
of its present desolation. A horrible fascination riveted the eyes of
Adonijah to these affecting images of national woe, but a sensation
almost allied to joy thrilled through his frame as he gazed on the
ruined towers of Jotapata, and remembered that all his kindred had
perished there. They did not swell the train of wretched captives, who
clanked their chains after the chariot of the victors; their ashes were
mingled with the soil of the holy, the beloved Judea. A fiercer, sterner
feeling agitated him as he looked upon the sullen face of Simon Gioras,
the monster whose crimes he believed had drawn down the vengeance of
Heaven upon Jerusalem, and who basely survived the ruin he had wrought.
The assassin showed no generous pride, no constancy, no remorse; he
meanly cowered from the doom awaiting him, and surviving the death of
honour craved for life. The indignant Hebrew turned away sick with
disgust and loathing from the traitor. Unconsciously he joined in the
shout the people raised to greet the emperor and his son. The Io
Triumphe! burst from his lips; he forgot he was uniting his voice to
hail the approach of the conquerors of Judea, for reason was fast
forsaking him, and the fire of insanity sparkled in his restless eyes as
he turned them on the pageant representing the captivity of the holy
city, when they suddenly encountered the glance of a female captive
chosen for her surpassing beauty to typify the fallen genius of the
land. She was sitting under a palm-tree (the emblematical symbol of
Judah) in such an immovable attitude of disconsolate sorrow that the
spectators doubted whether the graceful drooping form was a miracle of
art, or a living, breathing image of despair. Her dark dishevelled
ringlets descended to her feet, partially veiling her downcast face. Her
eyes so black, so intensely bright, glanced wildly beneath the long
jetty lashes that fringed them, and then expanded fearfully as they met
the fixed look of Adonijah, who echoed back her cry of agonized
recognition, smiting his breast vehemently, and exclaiming, “Tamar,
miserable Tamar! woe is me, for thou hast brought me very low, my
sister! Unhappy maid, why didst thou not perish with Jotapata? Oh that
thou hadst died when the Roman steel was gleaming over thee! The Gentile
chains are round thy hands, my sister. Awake, awake, loose thyself from
the bands of thy neck, thou captive daughter of Zion; thou that hast
drunk of the cup of trembling, who art drunken with sorrow, but not with

Tamar answered these unconnected ravings with a look of such intense
misery, that it instantly recalled the wandering senses of her wretched
brother, and united the severed chain of reason anew. In that single
look might be read her whole dreadful story. It told of wrong, of shame,
of bitter bondage, of unmerited scorn, of all the woes and outrages
lovely helpless woman is doomed to suffer in captivity, but which her
chaste lip can never utter.

Adonijah saw it all; he rushed forward, and with desperate strength
drove back the thickening crowd, and, leaping on the car, caught her in
his arms, exclaiming with a deep and bitter cry, “Tamar, my sister, we
will never part!”

The poor broken-hearted captive bowed herself upon her brother’s neck,
murmured feebly his name, shrouded her face in his bosom, and died
without a sigh or struggle.

The tumult, the roar of the furious multitude, the weapons that
glittered round him, were unheard, unseen by Adonijah, who, holding his
dead sister in his arms, was pouring over her remains a wailing
lamentation in his own language, whose wild pathos, could its meaning
have reached their ears, might have softened even the enraged populace
then thirsting for his blood.

The cause of the uproar was quickly made known to Vespasian, whose voice
interposed between the people and their intended victim. He commanded
some soldiers of the Prætorian cohorts to seize the Jew who had
interrupted the triumph, and convey him to the Mamertine prison. In a
moment Adonijah was overpowered, fettered, and hurried from the scene
where the last act of his country’s tragedy was performing, to the depth
of that dreadful dungeon.

The procession proceeded forward along the Via Sacra till it reached the
Capitol, where, according to the barbarous ancient usage, Simon Gioras,
the captive leader of the Jews, was to be put to death. A ferocious joy
then sat on every face as the lictors flung the rope round the neck of
the guilty wretch and dragged him to the edge of the Tarpæian rock, over
which they hurled him trembling and shrinking from the death his crimes
deserved. The imprecations the captive Jews heaped upon the mangled
victim were mingled with the triumphant yells with which the Romans
greeted his fall and stifled his expiring cries. Thus died Simon the
Assassin, whose end was as dastardly as his life was cruel.

The day of triumph drew near to its close, but the distant shouts of the
mad multitude still at intervals met the throbbing ears of Adonijah as
he lay fettered on the flinty floor of the dungeon, listening to every
sound with the intense attention of one who expects every instant to
receive the sentence of death. Between him and the fathomless gulf of
eternity only a brief space apparently intervened. The harrowing
excitement that had shaken his reason only a few hours ago subsided into
a melancholy consciousness of the reality of those events that had
jarred every fibre of his brain. He wished to lift the dim veil that
overshadowed his own destiny and that of his outcast people. Where was
that mighty arm that had “divided the waves of the Red Sea for His
ransomed to pass through,” and then commanded the exulting billows to
return to their appointed place, overwhelming the impious Pharaoh and
his warlike host? Where was the promised Messiah, where the hope of
Israel? Who now should recall the scattered tribes, and bind up the
incurable wounds of the daughter of Zion? What hand could heal the
broken-hearted captive of Judah, condemned to become a curse to the
whole earth?

Then from contemplating his country’s woes his thoughts turned to
her—so long numbered in his memory with the dead, so vainly found, only
to die within his arms. How sadly seemed her image to rise before his
mental vision, not fair and bright as in those happier days when the
brother and sister were all the world to each other, when Tamar appeared
a creature of happiness and smiles, full of song and sunshine!

Tamar, the dishonoured desolate captive, Tamar become the emblem of her
nation’s humiliation and despair—alone met his view. Again he seemed to
hear her thrilling cry of recognition; again her dark, troubled eye
flashed across his sight; again he felt the last wild throb of her
breaking heart beat against his bosom.

The shades of thick coming darkness could not exclude the cruel picture;
he closed his burning eye-balls, but still her figure appeared to stand
distinct and sad before his shrouded orbs. His spirit sank into the
lowest depths of dejection, all the curses of the law seemed poured out
upon his head during these lonely hours. “Why hast thou forsaken me?”
cried he; “my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Suddenly the remembrance
of those denunciations written in the Gospel, which he had trampled upon
in his unbelieving indignation, came over his mind with the rapidity of
lightning. All had been accomplished, all had been fulfilled. In
darkness—fast bound in affliction and iron—a fear that Jesus of
Nazareth was indeed the Christ entered the doubting soul of the Hebrew.
He strove to harden his heart against conviction, but still conviction
struggled mightily within him—till, exhausted with the mental warfare
he sustained, he sank into a deep, death-like sleep, from which he did
not awaken till the wandering sunbeams glimmering on his chains recalled
him to consciousness and misery.

The morning brought a companion to share in his sorrows—an elderly man
of his own tribe, one of the defenders of Jerusalem under Simon Gioras.
Every particular of this memorable siege was related by Josadec with
terrible minuteness—the divisions among the leaders, the sacrilege, the
murder, the cruel famine, and that deed whose matchless horror had made
Titus swear “that the sun should never shoot his beams into a city where
such a barbarity had been committed.” Adonijah groaned; he writhed in
agony, a cold dew bathed his trembling limbs, his hair stood up, but
Josadec, like a person rendered insensible to feeling by the dreadful
force of habit, continued his revolting relations with an apathy that
disgusted his sensitive auditor. The signs and portents of the nation’s
fall; the warning voice whose perpetual cry of “Woe, woe!” had never
been mute till the Roman missile silenced it for ever; the blazing star
hanging over the devoted city in the form of a sword; the mighty sound
as of a host rushing forth from the holy of holies with the awful words,
“Let us depart;”[16] the temple laid in ashes, the foundations of the
city ploughed up by Titus’ orders;—all convinced Adonijah that the Lord
Himself had utterly forsaken the Jews. His arm had fought against them,
and all the curses written in the book of the law were now fulfilled
upon them. Again the awful prophecies concerning Jerusalem came into his
mind. Jesus of Nazareth had foretold the coming miseries of
Jerusalem.[17] “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not
pass away.” Was Adonijah to acknowledge Him as a prophet, or as the
promised Messiah, set at nought and rejected by the Jews? He was
confounded. Unresolved and terrified, feeling himself exposed to the
wrath of God, yet hanging on the very verge of eternity, the Hebrew knew
not what to think; he wished to pray, yet like the prophet could only
say, “Thou hast covered thyself with a thick cloud so that our prayer
cannot pass through.” His companion too derided him. “God has forsaken
us for ever; we are now without a priest, and without a king, and
without a sacrifice: all prayer is vain, from this second captivity
there can be no return.”

Adonijah’s heart was softening from its hardness, and, pierced with a
sense of his sins, he poured forth a flood of tears. Josadec, sullen and
immovable as marble, turned contemptuously away, nor did he again
address himself to his unfortunate companion.

That evening both received their sentence: Josadec was doomed to combat
with wild beasts in the arena; Adonijah was condemned to fight with one
of his own countrymen in the Circus Maximus. Josadec received the
intelligence with sullen apathy; Adonijah, with indignation. Raising his
hand towards heaven, he swore by the Almighty name of God to suffer the
severest tortures rather than aim a hostile blow at a son of Israel.
Dearer than life at that moment seemed the captive children of his
people; dearer in their degradation and misery than when he was free and
pursuing the flying legions of Cestius Galius, flushed with victory, and
believing that he was fighting the battles of the Lord.


[15] See Appendix, Note VIII.

[16] See Appendix, Note IX.

[17] See Appendix, Note X.

                             CHAPTER XVIII.

            “The dying Other from the gloom she drew,
             Supported on his shorten’d arm he leans,
             Prone agonizing; with incumbent fate,
             Heavy declines his head; yet dark beneath
             The suffering feature sullen vengeance lowers,
             Shame, indignation, unaccomplish’d rage,
             And still the cheated eye expects his fall.”

The fatal morning dawned refulgently over the metropolis of the world,
but the eyes of the Hebrew captives shrank from before its beams,
loathing the light, and vainly wishing for its decline. A hundred days
of festivity had been decreed by the emperor to the Roman people, in
which the children of Israel were to be torn in pieces by wild beasts,
or compelled to slay each other,[18] to gratify the barbarous tastes of
those who held them in chains. Adonijah and his opponent were included
in the latter combats, as persons to whom no mercy would be shown. Both
were still in the flower of youth, in the glory of their strength, who
were thus brought forth to die.

The feelings of a warrior were not so entirely sunk in slavery as to
permit Adonijah to assume the sword and buckler without experiencing a
momentary elevation of soul. It was not till he found himself within the
circle of the vast amphitheatre, and encountered the hostile glances of
many thousand eyes, that he remembered that this was no battle-field,
but the arena on which he was to be “butchered for a Roman spectacle.”
Even in this bitter moment he confronted the spectators with unshrinking
firmness, till among that living mass he distinguished the infant
Lucius, and felt the tender emotions of his heart towards the child
suffuse his eyes.

Titus sat in state to view the spectacle with the lovely Jewish queen by
his side. She, endowed with Mariamne’s talents and fatal beauty, yet
wanting her nobility of mind and virtue, was become the absolute ruler
of him whose mighty arm had enslaved her people,—that people whose
miseries were then exhibiting before her eyes. Julius Claudius was
seated near the lovers, apparently enjoying familiar converse with them
both. His little son, gaily attired as Cupid, listlessly reclined his
fair young head against his father’s knee. Art had supplied to his pale
cheek the roses that pining for Adonijah had banished, but the glaring
hue ill accorded with the fair delicate cheek, whose pallid tints it
could not overcome. All this was marked by the Hebrew with painful
interest, even in the present awful hour, for the child was the only
thing left upon earth that he could love. The craving feeling for
sympathy that exists in every human bosom, however cold and unpromising
its exterior may be, led him to salute the infant Lucius by name.

The boy raised his languid head and, recognising his unhappy friend,
uttered a joyful cry, and, stretching forth his arms towards him,
returned his greeting with delight, inviting him to join him by his
lively and animated gestures.

Half-unmanned, the gladiator turned away his tearful eyes from the child
to his opponent. The face of his countryman was averted from him, and
for a moment he expected to behold the familiar features of a friend.
They faced each other, and the hostile names of Adonijah and Ithamar
were mutually uttered on one side in the tone of defiance, on the other
with amazement.

Adonijah indeed, in recognising the war-wasted countenance of Ithamar,
scarcely remembered that they had once been foes. Years of bondage and
exile had nearly obliterated all traces of former hatred from his
breast. No rival, but an old companion in arms appeared to stand before
him—one who had fought for the same sacred cause, and was united with
him in the same sad brotherhood of sorrow. He lowered the point of his
weapon, saying as he did so, “Ithamar, in me you behold no hostile
opponent; my hatred has perished with my country: I know no enemies but
Romans.” He stretched forth his hand in token of amity, and anxiously
awaited the answer of his foe.

Ithamar’s haggard features betrayed surprise, but expressed no generous
feeling. Sullenly he repulsed the friendly pledge and assumed a posture
of defence.

“Hear me, Ithamar, hear me, my countryman,” continued Adonijah; “I have
sworn by the holy name of Jehovah not to raise a hostile weapon against
the bosom of an Israelite. I only wait thy bidding to throw away these
arms and tread them in the dust. Let an oath of peace be between us; let
the unbelieving Gentiles cast us to beasts less savage than themselves,
rather than force us to slay each other for their sport. Hearken, my
brother, to my words, and hallow with me the commandments of the Lord in
the sight of this heathen people.”

Ithamar broke into a laugh so wild and horrid that it sounded rather
like the yell of a demon than the expression of mirth. He cast upon his
adversary a withering look, and all the hoarded malice of vanished years
of rivalry spake in that glance of hatred and disdain. Without waiting
for the usual signal, he rushed upon Adonijah, who was wounded before he
had time to put himself in a posture of defence.

Enraged at this perfidious conduct, Adonijah forgot his vow, and,
animated at once by the desire of revenge and the instinctive feeling of
self-preservation, gave blow for blow and wound for wound.

Never were two combatants better matched in size or strength or skill,
and the gratified spectators cheered and applauded every stroke, betting
largely upon the heads of both, as caprice or interest suggested.

Julius Claudius, aware of the incipient malady lurking in the frame of
his slave, ventured great sums upon Ithamar, who he supposed possessed
more judgment to direct his courage than Adonijah. In this he was
mistaken, for the pressure of calamity, that had overwhelmed the
sensitive nature of Adonijah for a time, was far less nearly allied to
madness than the fanatic zeal of Ithamar.

Blind with rage, the Sadducee rushed upon his enemy, determined to crush
him with one last decisive blow. Adonijah reeled beneath its deadly
force, but collecting with a mighty effort his failing powers, plunged
his sword into the bosom of Ithamar, who fell dead at his feet, yielding
up his breath without a cry or struggle.

A long loud plaudit from sixty thousand spectators greeted the victor,
who heeded it not, but bending sadly over his victim remembered his
broken vow. A moment he contemplated the sullen features of Ithamar,
another instant and the amphitheatre with its circling thousands swam
before his sight; the next he slowly sank in that attitude immortalized
by sculpture; then his dark locks swept the bloody floor of the arena
and rested on the lifeless bosom of his fallen foe.

A second shout, more loud, more lengthened than that which lately hailed
his victory, greeted now his fall. It thrilled through every nerve of
Adonijah’s frame, and yet he seemed only to hear Julius Claudius’ single
voice. He opened his heavy eyes, and turned upon his worthless master a
look that told him that his soul was still unsubdued, for feebly raising
his hand he appeared to defy him to the last. That indignant gesture
exhausted the fallen gladiator’s remaining strength; but the latest
sound he heard was the wailing cry of the infant Lucius, then sight and
sense forsook him, and he lay unconscious, yet still breathing, before
that vast and eager multitude.

The spectators were divided in their feelings; but Titus, who in the
intrepid gladiator had recognised the captive of Jotapata, was inclined
to grant him mercy. This clement feeling was opposed by Julius Claudius,
who declared “that, having disturbed the triumph, he ought to die,” in
which opinion he was seconded by all those who had ventured too much
upon the vanquished Ithamar.

Berenice espoused the side of the fallen victor, and, incensed at the
positive manner in which Julius Claudius dared to oppose her wishes,
determined to make him feel her power. She pleaded warmly in behalf of
Adonijah, and with Titus she could not plead in vain. He gave the signal
of mercy, commanding the attendants of the circus to see the gladiator’s
wounds looked to, and to let nothing be wanting to promote his cure.

Not content with having gained her point, the fair Jewess exerted her
influence to lessen Julius Claudius in the eyes of her lover, of whose
regard she was jealous; and the proud Roman patrician had the
mortification of discovering that a word or hint from this fascinating
foreigner could shake the affection of his early friend.

Like most other Romans of the period, Julius despised strangers, and
this he had suffered Berenice to perceive, and the beautiful Jewess was
not of a temper to look over an affront. Unfeminine as she was, this
princess possessed the womanly failing at least of seeking to humble
those who contemned her power. She exerted her brilliant wit to make the
effeminate Roman appear ridiculous, and succeeded so well that Titus,
who like the Persian king of old smiled when his fair enslaver smiled,
and frowned when she frowned, laughed outright at her sallies. Stung to
the quick by this contemptuous treatment, Julius, no longer in the
humour to play the courtier, made an unguarded rejoinder which drew
tears from the eyes of the royal beauty, and looks of angry displeasure
from her princely lover. Julius, deeply wounded, took his little son by
the hand, and withdrew from the amphitheatre full of the mortifying
reflection that a tear or smile from this highly gifted though guilty
foreigner was more to Titus than the intimate companionship of years.

Julius Claudius had displayed the utmost political adroitness during the
fearful contests that had made Italy a war-field and a grave. He had
shown an acute judgment in abandoning the prince whom fortune was about
to desert. He forsook Galba’s adopted son Piso at a critical point of
time. With Otho he remained till that emperor left Rome, for he had
foreseen that the Prætorian army would not be able to compete with the
German legions. The splendid but erratic course of one of his dissipated
friends, Antonius Primus, a young Roman knight, whose participation in
forging a will had caused his banishment, but to whom Galba gave a
legion, had made Julius forsake the failing cause of Vitellius, though
he had been one of his chief favourites. He had declared for Vespasian
in time to save himself from confiscation, and when Licinius Mucianus,
the friend of Titus, took upon himself the direction of public affairs,
and Antonius Primus fell into disgrace, he abandoned him, and attached
himself to the man who had reaped the blood-stained laurels of the
general whose arm had placed Vespasian on the throne of Rome.

From Vespasian himself Julius Claudius had expected no marks of favour,
but Titus had received his old friend with open arms; yet his star had
declined before that of a woman whose years nearly doubled those of her
youthful lover. But the charms of Berenice, like those of Cleopatra,
defied the power of time, for her intellectual powers enabled her to
retain her beauty beyond the usual period assigned for the possession of
a gift so precious, rare, and fleeting. Her fascinating manners veiled
her disposition, which once, and once only, had betrayed the softness of
the woman and the feelings of a patriot. She had formerly stood a
barefooted suppliant for her own people before the tribunal of a
merciless Roman procurator,[19] and had pleaded for the Jews, and vainly
pleaded, for the man was avaricious, and the tears and abasement of a
beautiful woman had offered no counter-charm to the greater influence of
gold and the gratification of a barbarous revenge. History has recorded
to her honour this solitary instance of compassion shown by the guilty
sister of Agrippa.

She had persecuted her sister Drusilla, who was supposed to be the most
beautiful woman in the world; but, though that unfortunate princess had
been forgetful of the obligation of her first marriage vow, her fidelity
to Felix, and the self-devotion that induced her to die with him, proved
at least that she possessed a depth of tenderness of which Berenice was

Julius Claudius saw that he had exposed himself to the malice of an
artful and revengeful woman, when the irritation of gambling and
drunkenness had passed away, and he returned to his house, mortified,
disappointed, and miserably anxious. But a heavier trial awaited Julius
Claudius than the mere loss of Titus’ favour;—an arrow keener than
ridicule or mere worldly disappointment struck him to the very heart.
All his affections that were not centered upon self, rested upon his
child. The beauty, the talents, the lovely disposition of Lucius had
endeared him to the heart of the dissipated parent, who was proud that
such a scion should be destined to carry the name of the Claudii down to
posterity. Destined to prolong thy name and lineage, Julius Claudius? Oh
no! a fairer inheritance is given to the young heir of thy honours, even
one “that fadeth not away.” That very night his hopeful young son was
smitten with sore disease; in vain art was exhausted to stay its direful
progress, in vain Julius promised half his wealth to save his child; now
invoking deities whom he had despised, now seeking from the Chaldean
sorcerer for some charm to cure a malady that defied the skill of the
physician. The child, burning with fever and raving in delirium, turned
away from his unhappy father as if he had forgotten him, while he called
continually upon the name of Adonijah till his accents grew faint.
Fainter and fainter, and yet more laboured, the suffering infant drew
his fleeting breath, and Julius had no other child, and he loved the boy
so much. He could not stay to see the end; but rushing from the chamber
of death went forth he knew not whither—longing to die, but shrinking
back in terror from plunging into an unknown futurity.

While the frantic father fled forth into the night, an aged freedwoman,
an ancient servant of the house, entered the forsaken chamber, knelt by
the couch of the dying boy, and holding his hand in hers, prayed
fervently for him.

It was Fulvia the deaconess, who, perceiving that the soul was in the
act of departing, took water and administered the rite of baptism to the
expiring scion of her patron’s lofty stem. He opened his eyes, seemed to
recognise her familiar features, and smiled as he expired.


[18] See Appendix, Note XI.

[19] Gessius Florus.

                              CHAPTER XIX.

            ——“The dead cannot grieve;
          Not a sob, not a sigh, meets mine ear,
            Which compassion itself could relieve;
          Ah! sweetly they slumber, nor hope, love, or fear;
          Peace, peace, is the watchword, the only one here.”

Julius Claudius found himself opposite the sepulchral monument that
contained the ashes of his ancient house before he lost the wild impetus
that had driven him from his home. He opened the gate which soon was to
unclose again to receive the last and dearest of his race. A light
gleamed within, but, lost in bitter communion with himself, its presence
created no surprise. His pride, his ambition, his glory, must all
descend into this abode of death. The deep stillness of the midnight
hour calmed for a few brief moments the feelings that urged him to fall
upon his sword, and end at once his base career by suicide.

The sight of this last home of the Claudii made him pause in the midst
of his dark thoughts to muse upon the nothingness of human things. The
dead around him had tasted joy and sorrow, had been legislators,
orators, and warriors, though now unconscious dust. The fame of their
mighty deeds, and the inscriptions on the funeral urns that contained
their ashes, alone revealed that they had once existed. Such as they
were must he also become.

These reflections, so new to the man of pleasure, the votary of the
world, gave birth to stranger still. As in a glass he saw himself as
others saw him, and loathed the faithful picture. His whole life passed
in review before him. His early excesses, his companionship with Nero,
the murder of his brother, the forced marriage of his sister, the snare
he had laid for Adonijah, for the man who had preserved him from the
dagger of Tigranes, the death of his own child, of which he considered
himself the cause,—all crowded upon his soul with the dreadful force of
truth. Tears streamed from his eyes, tears the bitterest that ever wrung
the heart of guilt. Suddenly the cries of wild revelry smote upon the
ear of the conscience-stricken wretch, who hastily entered the mausoleum
to screen himself from the observation of the midnight brawlers.

The sepulchral lamp burned dimly in the abode of death. The feeble ray
glimmered upon urns surmounted by the effigies of those whose ashes were
mouldering within the narrow receptacle of human passions and human
pride, each effigy showing the gradual advance of art, from the rude
moulded clay to the chiselled marble that wore the semblance of life.

The only surviving Claudius stood surrounded by the illustrious dead,
feeling himself unworthy to be the last of such a mighty line. His
crimes seemed to forbid him to approach a spot wherein reposed the
relics of the great, the valiant, and the wise.

A strange fascination attracted him to look upon the effigy of his
murdered brother, from which he could not withdraw his eyes The skilful
graver’s hand had given to the marble the animated expression of life.
The martial form of Lucius Claudius rose before the fratricide in the
severe beauty of other years, and the guilty one half expected to hear
from the half-closed lips of the statue the impetuous oratory that had
characterized the noble Roman in life.

The affectation of piety that had led Julius to adorn the tomb of his
brother with this master-piece of art, did not compel him to view it
when completed. The mortified sculptor received his gold, but not his
commendations. In this hour, however, he gained in the thrill of agony
that vibrated from the brain of Julius to every nerve and rigid muscle
the reward due to the admirable fidelity of genius.

As he gazed upon the image of his brother, guilty years of retrospect
rushed upon his memory, till far and vista-like they blended with the
happier ones of boyhood, when he was not this blot upon the face of
nature, this loathsome compound of luxury and crime. Then he smote upon
his breast, and called upon the stately roof to fall and crush him into
the atom he wished to be, yet feared he was not. Upon his agony a voice
intruded, a voice whose well-remembered tones increased his mental
misery almost to madness. He turned round and saw his sister Lucia at
his side. From the mild majestic shade he fled affrighted forth, rushing
from street to street, still haunted by her voice, her look, her wrongs.

In midnight silence and darkness Julius Claudius pursued his way; he
would have given wealth untold at that moment to hear human converse, to
see human faces. Suddenly, to his great relief, he encountered on the
Julian Way a number of persons, to whom, without being aware of the
object for which they were gathering together, he joined himself,
reckless of everything but the relief of finding himself among his
fellow-men once more. He followed them to the cemetery of Ostorius,
entering with them the house of death; whereupon a veiled female, rising
from a tripod, admitted him with the rest into a spacious cavity,
illuminated by many lamps. Then Julius Claudius comprehended that he was
among a midnight assembly of Christians.

The females, closely veiled, ranged themselves on one side of the
subterranean temple, the men on the other; but the bewildered intruder
shrank behind what appeared to be a tomb, and concealing his features in
his mantle remained a silent spectator of the worship of the primitive

The Christians’ fervent prayers, their melodious and solemn hymns, at
once soothed and awed the soul of the guilty man who had so strangely
become a witness of their mysterious rites, and when their bishop rose
to address the little flock he was almost “persuaded to become a

The venerable countenance of the preacher seemed not unknown to his new
auditor; the august tones of his voice awakened some chord in his
memory. The place, too, appeared familiar to his eyes. Suddenly the
conviction that he was then present with those Christians from whom he
had torn his sister, to compel her to become the wife of Nymphidius,
passed through his mind with the rapidity of lightning, but he had then
entered this oratory by a different route.

He looked about him fearfully, half expecting to see the victim of that
ill-starred marriage appear again before his eyes. The eloquence of the
preacher at length so completely fixed his attention, that he forgot his
supernatural terrors while listening to his oration.

From the tenor of Linus’ discourse it should seem that some young men
belonging to his flock had been present at the games of the circus,
which the Christians held in deep abhorrence, as may yet be seen in a
pathetic passage in the first apology of Justin Martyr. Upon this
transgression the second Roman bishop commented with great severity,
dwelling upon the sin of murder and its awful consequences in the world
to come, with impressive eloquence. “He spake of righteousness,
temperance, and judgment to come,” till not only his erring brethren
trembled, but the fratricide whom accident had brought among his flock.

For the first time in his life Julius Claudius heard the gospel preached
fully, faithfully, preached not only as a message of love, but of wrath
to the disobedient and impenitent sinner. To the conscience-stricken
Roman patrician the word of God was sharper than a two-edged sword,
compelling him to disclose every secret of his guilty breast. With a cry
that thrilled to every heart he rushed from his hiding-place, and,
falling on his knees before the preacher, besought him to save him from
“the wrath to come.”

To Him who died, that fallen man might live, Linus directed the
despairing criminal at his feet, bidding him “repent and believe in
Jesus Christ, whose precious blood would cleanse him from all sin.”

“Can guilt like mine find pardon?” cried Julius Claudius, at once
unbosoming himself of the hoarded trespasses of years, pausing at each
recital in expectation of hearing the preacher pronounce his case
hopeless. The transgressions of this sinner, though black as night, were
but of too frequent occurrence in Rome to excite the surprise of the
holy man to whose ear they were repeated. Like St. Paul he could have
said of many of his flock, “and such were some of you; but ye are
washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the
Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

He comforted the dejected Julius with the hope of mercy, revealing the
salvation brought to sinners by the holy Jesus, exhorting him to repent
and be baptized, leading henceforth a new life, even the life of faith
through Him who loved “us and gave Himself as a ransom for our sins.”

At these consoling words Julius Claudius raised his eyes from the
ground, when they suddenly encountered those of his sister Lucia, who
was bending over his kneeling form with looks of unutterable love. A
second cry broke from his lips; sight and memory failed him, and he sank
motionless at the feet of the supposed phantom.

                              CHAPTER XX.

                 “But Heaven had gifts for sinful men,
                  I little knew or thought of then;
                  And on my night of fear and sin
                  A ray of peace at last broke in:
                  A blessed, bright, benignant ray,
                  The herald of eternal day.

                 “I’ll bear it to the judgment-seat,
                  And cast it down at Jesus’ feet;
                  It there shall be my only plea,
                  For oh! it tells my Judge that He
                  Upon the cross vouchsafed to die,
                  To save from hell such fiends as I!”

Julius Claudius, recovered from the depths of sin and despair,
remembered Adonijah, and, quitting the precious remains of his child and
the society of his new-found sister, repaired to the place where
Adonijah was confined, to make inquiries respecting his state. He
learned that the wounds of the victorious gladiator were severe, and
that he had neither taken nourishment nor spoken since he had been
brought hither from the circus. Julius Claudius heard this account with
feelings, oh! how unlike those that had actuated him to clamour for his
death in the circus. The comfortless state of the Hebrew was not likely,
his repentant master thought, to contribute to his recovery, and he felt
that if Adonijah perished, remorse would haunt his bosom to the latest
hour of his life.

With this impression on his mind Julius Claudius, forgetting the
mortification he had lately experienced through the scornful wit of
Berenice, hastened to the house of the all-powerful Licinius Mucianus to
entreat his good offices with Titus for the pardon and restoration of

Mucianus, a dissipated man of letters, liked Julius Claudius, and was
willing to solicit this boon for him. He was sorry for the bereavement
Julius had sustained, and in making his request known to Titus took care
to inform him of his disgraced favourite’s irreparable loss. Titus went
in person to console Julius Claudius, to whom he spoke with kindness and
even affection, and signed the necessary order, which admitted Julius
into the Mamertine prison where Adonijah was confined.

The gladiator’s wounds had been dressed and bound up with some skill,
but so little after-care had been taken of the despised and expatriated
Jew, that he had been left to contend with increasing delirium alone.

Sadly and remorsefully the Roman patrician contemplated the languid form
before him: could this feeble frame indeed enshrine the haughty and
unsubdued spirit of Adonijah? At this moment the Hebrew opened his heavy
eyes, and recognised his master regarding him with a piteous expression
that pierced him to the heart. How unlike was this helpless look to that
contemptuous one the gladiator had turned upon him as he fell, when his
indignant glance flashed back defiance and disdain! His lost child, his
lamented Lucius, had loved him too, had died invoking the Hebrew’s name,
and the tears of the bereaved parent fell fast upon the burning brow of
the slave.

Adonijah perceived his master’s emotion, but could not comprehend the
cause of this change of feeling towards him. A sort of stupor came over
his senses, and before he recovered from its effects he was on the way
to Tivoli in a covered litter, supported in the arms of a confidential
slave belonging to Julius’ household.

Leaving the unconscious Adonijah to the tender care of Lucia and her
attendants, Julius Claudius remained at Rome to consign the remains of
his child to their native dust. No costly funeral rites, no games, no
pompous oration, no gathering of the ashes into the sumptuous urn,
graced the obsequies of the young Lucius. Pious Christians consecrated
with prayer the last sleep of the child, and laid him not with his
heathen forefathers to rest, but in the subterranean chambers of the
catacombs, as the heir of a better hope, to wait the dawn of everlasting

Religion brought balm to the torn heart of the father, who baptized into
the faith of Christ resigned himself without another murmur to the
Divine will, looking forward with humble confidence to a final reunion
with his child in heaven.

Julius Claudius was indeed another man; his habits, thoughts, feelings,
all were changed. To deep self-abhorrence and agonizing despair, true
penitence, holy hope, and stedfast faith had succeeded. He had become a
Christian, to him “old things had passed away and all things had become
new.” To the vain deriding world his change of life and creed became a
subject of surprise and derision. It was madness, folly, eccentricity;
but to his Christian brethren it was a theme of wonder and adoring
praise. They viewed him as a brand plucked out of the burning, a sinner
redeemed and justified by the blood of the Lamb. To himself Julius
Claudius was a greater wonder still, for the deep recesses of that
polluted heart had been searched out by the Spirit, its secret
iniquities revealed, and the remedy applied by the same Almighty power.
To devote his life to make known the great truths of the Gospel to those
who like him had sat in darkness and the shadow of death, following the
dictates of a sinful and perverted nature, and to show them the new and
living way, was suddenly become the end and aim of the young Roman
patrician’s being.

                              CHAPTER XXI.

            “——Woman all exceeds
             In ardent sanctitude and pious deeds:
             And chief in woman charities prevail
             That soothe when sorrows or disease assail.
             As dropping balm medicinal instils
             Health when we pine, her tears alleviate ills;
             And the moist emblems of her pity flow
             As heaven relented with the watery bow.”

For many weary days did Lucia watch with fond fidelity the sick couch of
her lover, breathing faithful and earnest prayers for his conversion and
recovery. Though unconscious of her presence, her step and voice haunted
him like a vision—as something known and loved in other days. Reason at
length returned, the light was suffered once more to cheer his eyes, and
looking up he beheld its beams shining upon the kneeling form of Lucia

Her lover uttered her name, and that but once; words could not express
his feelings; to him she seemed alive from the dead; his thought could
it have found a voice had said, “God, thou art merciful to me a sinner.”

He gazed long and intensely upon his living, his beloved Lucia; a slight
scar upon her throat, half hidden among the glittering tresses of
sun-bright hair that shaded her lovely face and bosom, recalled her
peril to his mind. How had she escaped the jealous fury of her husband?
to what strange intervention of Providence did she owe her preservation?
He looked from her to her brother, as if to ask him to narrate the
particulars of her escape. Lucia guessed his meaning, and seating
herself beside him commenced her tale.

“Adonijah, thou wouldest know the history of my wonderful preservation;
listen and adore the mercy that saved me from the consequences of my
unhappy husband’s posthumous jealousy. His strange behaviour during our
brief interview—his passionate farewell, his abrupt departure, and the
terrible import of his last words, filled me with apprehension. Some
dark ambitious scheme was working in his brain, while the sounds of
distant commotion in the camp denoted that Rome was again about to be
plunged into a new revolution.

“There was no one within the house of whom I could ask counsel, for my
faithful Cornelia was absent, engaged in her office of deaconess, and if
present what arm short of Omnipotence could save me from the cruel love,
or rather fierce jealousy, of Nymphidius Sabinus. I resumed my devotions
and, in the words of the Psalmist of Israel, ‘gave myself unto prayer.’

“I was yet kneeling when Marcus abruptly entered the chamber with
consternation and horror depicted on every stern feature. His looks, his
bold intrusion on the privacy of a noble Roman lady, told at once his
errand. He came, I knew, to slay me.

“Assuming courage I did not at that moment feel, I demanded the occasion
of his coming; he briefly communicated the commands of his lord, and
putting a dagger into my hand bade me fall by my own hand rather than by
a less noble one.

“I put back the deadly weapon which Christianity and ‘the coming in of a
better hope’ forbade me to use, and then, actuated by the feeling of
self-preservation inherent in human nature, pleaded earnestly for my

“I thought I saw signs of relenting in his eye, but his dread of
Nymphidius prevailed over his inclination to save me. He caught me by
the hair and raised the dagger to slay me. In humble imitation of my
Saviour, I prayed Him to forgive my murderers; this unnerved the
assassin’s arm, the blow was given, but the wound was slight. Marcus
fell at my feet, and flinging the dagger from him buried his convulsed
features in my garments and wept like an infant.

“I passed this interval in silent prayer. At length the freedman raised
his head, and, telling me ‘that he would report me as dead to his
master,’ staunched the wound in my throat, from which the blood was
flowing profusely, and demanded ‘whither he should convey me.’

“I resolved to enter the Arenaria, my husband’s attempt to destroy me
justifying the step I was about to take. I told him I would leave the
house privately that night. He wrapped me in my veil and pallium, kissed
my hand, and left me. I found no difficulty in gaining the asylum I had
chosen, as an opening existed leading from the sumptuous palace which
had formed my miserable home. The Consul Nymphidius perished that night.
He lost the object of his ambitious hopes, and I the grievous chain of
my unhappy wedlock. Words would fail me to describe its horrors, or the
guilt of that ambitious, licentious man. But from the lion’s mouth the
Lord delivered me, leading me forth into green pastures beside the
waters of comfort. During the stormy revolutions that have convulsed my
native city I have dwelt in peace among the brethren, apart from the
vain world and its vainer things. A strong desire to see the effigy of
my beloved brother Lucius conducted me to the mausoleum of my ancestors,
to which an entrance had been pierced from the Arenaria, where I was
found by Julius, who, supposing me to be a spirit, fled from me in
horror. He took refuge among the brethren, and was by them persuaded ‘to
forsake the unfruitful works of darkness, to serve the living God.’
While listening to the consoling words of Linus, he again caught sight
of me, and, still deeming me an inhabitant of the shades below, swooned

“Yes, sweet sister,” rejoined Julius, “it was not till I felt thy warm
breath on my cheek, and heard thy dear familiar voice speaking comfort
to my guilty soul, that I knew I held my living Lucia in my arms.” He
paused, and then turning to Adonijah said, “I, too, have a tale to tell;
a sad one over which thy heart will bleed.” The bereaved father then
related the death of the young Lucius and his own remorse and despair,
beseeching Adonijah, as he concluded his touching narrative, “to forgive
the sins of a repentant enemy, and contrite man.”

Adonijah was astonished beyond measure at this change in Julius
Claudius. “Could this be the vain, selfish, cruel, licentious Roman who
owned no law but his own will, whose guileful features, notwithstanding
their feminine beauty, lately expressed nothing but deceit and perfidy?”
His very countenance seemed altered, showing humility and deep
contrition, as if it were the transcript of his new heart. “Could
Christianity be false that brought forth fruits like these?”

Lucia Claudia, wiping the tears from her soft eyes, invited her brother
to join her in an act of devout thanksgiving to Him whose mercy had been
manifested to Jew and Gentile in their persons; and Adonijah united in
the Christian’s prayer with deep fervour, and yet they offered it up in
the name and through the mediation of the crucified Jesus!

                             CHAPTER XXII.

            “Thou living wonder of Jehovah’s word!
             Thou, that without a priest or sacrifice,
             Ephod or temple, lone ’mid human kind,
             Cleav’st to thy statutes with unswerving mind,
             As though enthroned upon His mercy-seat,
             The spreading of the cherubim between,
             Jehovah yet were seen!
             Hebrew, come forth! dread not the light of day,
             Dread not the insulter’s cry;
             The arch that rose o’er thy captivity
             No more shall turn thee from thy destined way.”

In the dear society of Lucia the hours of pain and languor glided gently
away. It was her beloved hand that wiped away the tears Adonijah shed
for the young Lucius, the sweet blossom that had entwined itself about
his desolate heart. It was her voice that soothed his remorse, her soft
eyes that told him she forgave his former perfidy. She mourned with him
over the calamities of his captive people, while her faith bade him look
beyond ages of bondage in anticipation of that glorious hour when the
Lord who scattered the tribes abroad shall gather them again.

In her face the Hebrew still traced the love that had formerly gilded
his chains, and made his bondage sweet. All indeed that a pious
Christian could feel for one of differing faith, Lucia felt for
Adonijah. He had first won her from idolatry and darkness to worship
Jehovah, and, though no human passion could beguile her heart from Him,
its tender affections were still placed upon the captive Jew. For his
conversion she prayed unceasingly, and every conversation she held with
him had the same noble object in view.

A deep sense of his own unworthiness, a sensibility to sin never
experienced before, was felt by the half-convinced Pharisee. He reviewed
his past life, and internally owned that he had come short of that
perfection demanded by a holy God.

He was ready to acknowledge Jesus as a prophet, as “a teacher sent from
God,” for had not his prophetic words respecting Jerusalem been
fulfilled in his own day? This was much for a Jew to acknowledge, but it
is and has been acknowledged by many who have died like their
forefathers, strangers to the salvation wrought by Christ.

“Search the Scriptures,” said our Lord to the Jews of His day, “for in
them ye think ye have eternal life, and they are they which testify of
me.” “Search thou the Scriptures, who art an heir of the promises made
to Abraham,” said Linus to the doubting Hebrew, “and thou wilt see that
we have not followed ‘cunningly devised fables.’”

Adonijah examined those sacred records daily and perseveringly, praying
the Lord Jehovah to enlighten his mind respecting Him whom the
Christians affirmed to be the Messiah of the Jews. He found every type
and shadow complete, every prophecy fulfilled in that wondrous Person
whom the Jews had rejected and slain. His heart was softened, nay, it
was pierced through with a view of his sins and his sinless Saviour’s

At first the Divinity of Jesus Christ was to him, as to the Jews of this
day, “a stumbling-block and rock of offence;” but the New Testament,
which declares Him “to be the Son of God with power,” only confirms the
previous testimony borne by the Old. The evidence of both is in perfect
and beautiful harmony with each other. Adonijah compared them together,
and found the chain complete, till like Thomas he said of Jesus, “My
Lord and my God.”

The life and doctrines of Jesus alone would declare his Divinity, even
if it had not been confirmed by miracles or foreshown by prophecy. Human
nature fallen and degenerate could never have produced fruits like
these. Compare his brightest saints with the Son of God, and they only
shine with beams reflected from his surpassing glory.

Deeply mourning over Him whom his sins had pierced, Adonijah found
pardon and peace with the Great Shepherd of Israel, at whose cross he
for ever laid down his pharisaic pride and self-idolatry, receiving the
Son of David not only as his Prophet, Priest, and King, but as his
atoning sacrifice, his righteousness, the Lord his God, the
long-promised Messiah of his people.

Julius Claudius, that brand plucked from the burning, was destined to
become a light in the Church, and to preach the faith he once laboured
to destroy. He intended to devote himself to the ministry of the word as
soon as he had been admitted into the Christian fold by baptism. He
wished to repair the wrongs of Adonijah by uniting him to his sister,
upon whom he bestowed an ample portion, but the residue of his fortune
he gave to the Church, for the support of the Christian community, that
still required from the wealthy those gifts which we find recorded in
the Acts of the Apostles. The dowry of Lucia Claudia was already
destined by her to aid the funds of the impoverished Jewish Church,
which then held the pre-eminence over every other, as having been
planted by the Lord himself.

                             CHAPTER XXIII.

              “See how these Christians love one another.”

The manumission of Adonijah preceded his baptism. His dark clustering
locks were closely shaven, and the cap of liberty was placed upon his
head with the usual ceremonies. He was no longer a slave, but he was a
freeman without a country. No civic privileges were connected with, or
conferred by the gift of liberty. The manumitted slave could not serve
in the Roman army, nor hold any office in the state, unless the emperor
chose to exercise his despotic authority in his favour. He might enrol
his name on the list of Ærarians and become a member of a guild, and
follow a trade, or he might remain in the household of his patron; but
he could not become a citizen of Rome without influence or gold: both
were exerted in his favour.

The conversion of Julius and Adonijah were interesting events to the
Roman Christians, and the sponsari of the catechumeni were selected from
the most distinguished members of the Church by its pious bishop. In the
primitive times the sponsors answered for the good faith of those
persons who desired to be instructed in the Christian religion. It is
from this custom that the sponsors in our own Church are derived; for
when infant baptism became general, the sponsari answered for Christian
babes as they formerly had done for the adult heathen whom they
presented as catechumeni[20] or candidates for that sacrament.

The sponsari of Julius Claudius and his Hebrew freedman were not men of
rank, but experienced Christians. Indeed, one was an aged slave; but the
Church numbered many such among her brightest jewels. Her internal
order, though marked by distinctive and fixed degrees of rank, did not
rest upon those external ones upon which worldly societies depend; the
beautiful and harmonious bond of love alone united all the members of
the universal or Catholic Church together in the first ages of

The admission of Julius Claudius and Adonijah was followed by the
marriage of Lucia and her lover. If the existence of the nobly descended
Roman lady had been known beyond the pale of the Church, some impediment
might yet have divided her from Adonijah. Nor would it have been safe
for the vestal who had broken her vow to have re-appeared in the heathen
metropolis. So she was married to Adonijah in the privacy of the
Sotterrania,[21] and Julius finally, through the purchased influence of
Cenis, the mistress of the emperor Vespasian, got the name of Adonijah
enrolled in one of the civic tribes.

The new-made citizen of Rome did not intend to remain in the metropolis
of the world. He wished to revisit his native land, for to him the
desolation of Judea was dearer than the magnificence of imperial Rome.

The Church of Jerusalem, with its bishop Simeon, had returned to Judea.
No molestation was offered by the Gentile conquerors to those Jews who
had never taken up arms against them, and the converted Israelites, of
which the Church then holding the supremacy over every other was
composed, had an apostle for their head of the lineage of David, being
the kinsman of the Lord,[22] as well as his disciple. By this Church
Adonijah and Lucia were received with affectionate greeting and
hospitality. The travellers had indeed found a welcome from the brethren
in every place, for the tenets of Christianity were widely promulgated
throughout Asia; for the dispersion of Israel had caused many Gentiles
to enter the Church, nor, as we have seen, did all the Jews remain in
the blindness of error; for ecclesiastical records assure us that
numbers about this time repented and received the faith they had
blasphemed and persecuted, being convinced by the ruin of their city and
destruction of their temple that the crucified Jesus was their promised

In passing through his native land Adonijah soften paused to weep and
pray. He lamented the woes of his country, while he acknowledged the
justice of the sentence that had gone forth against her. He visited the
ruins of Nazareth and Bethlehem, he wept at Mount Calvary, he mourned
over the destruction of the temple; but he saw the traces made in the
living rock by the earthquake, and the sepulchre that could not hold in
its keeping the risen Son of God, and was comforted. One was by his side
who shared his sorrows and his joys, who wept with him for the sins of
his people, and rejoiced in that atonement by which they might yet be
forgiven and restored to their own land.[23] It was natural that a
converted Jew, long exiled from his native land, should seek the
memorable spots rendered holy by the birth, ministry, crucifixion,
resurrection, and ascension of Christ, and that his Gentile wife should
share his feelings, and accompany him in his pilgrimage; yet pilgrimages
were not common in the first ages of the Church. No allusion to such
visits can be found in any part of the New Testament, to afford either
example or encouragement to a practice that afterwards became so
general. The faith of the early Christians needed not such excitement;
they felt the presence of their Lord in heaven, and did not seek to
trace his footsteps upon earth.

Lucia Claudia had not quitted Rome without regret; she was a member of
that glorious Church to which the noblest of St. Paul’s Epistles had
been addressed while he was yet personally unknown to his Roman
brethren. She was the pastoral daughter of Linus, the friend of Pomponia
Græcina and of the fair British convert Claudia, celebrated by Martial
for her beautiful complexion, but whom the Church numbered among its
precious jewels; Clement, too, and many other persons whose names were
written in the Book of Life, regarded Lucia Claudia as a sister. No
human society was ever so closely united in friendship as the primitive
Christians, who obeyed from the heart the new commandment enjoined by
their Lord, “Love one another.”

Lucia Claudia, however, found the same tender affection, the same
perfect union, existing among the Christians of Palestine as at Rome.
Some were then living who had seen the Lord, and had listened to those
divine precepts which had made the Gentile officers sent to apprehend
him return to their dissatisfied employers with the remarkable reply,
“Never man spake like this man,” and she no longer regretted Rome. To
Adonijah, the Hebrew Christian Church planted by the High Priest of the
order of Melchisedec, so long-promised to Israel and rejected when He
came, was a lively representation of heaven upon earth. He recognised
the Lord’s Prayer as a Jewish one,[24] to which one petition alone had
been added by the great Head of the Christian Church, who then gave it
the perfection “which came down from the Fountain of Goodness and Father
of Light.” The Psalms of David, too, sung in his own dear loved land,
were full of that light which was spreading then over the whole earth to
enlighten the dark and idolatrous Gentiles Jerusalem and the cities of
Judea might lie in the dust of desolation for ages, but Christ had been
the glory of the land; and the heart of the Jew clave to his ruined
country, as if no curse lay upon its hills and valleys, for the Sun of
Righteousness had risen there with healing on his wings, and Adonijah
acknowledged the Son of David as his Lord and his God, and he loved best
to worship where the steps of his Saviour had been.


[20] Infant baptism was general in the second Century—a fact proved by
the works of Cyprian, and there is reason to believe that the infant
children of Christian parents were usually baptized, though the practice
fell into disuse in the third and fourth centuries.

[21] Whether the early Christians used the present ritual we are not
able to determine. The ring placed upon the finger of the bride was an
ancient heathen custom, nor can we find a different origin for the
bride-cake, which in the middle ages was decorated with ribbons and
placed upon the altar. It is probable that the Church retained such
rites as were not inconsistent with a Christian profession.

[22] Simeon, the brother of Jude, the son or grandson of Cleopas, is
supposed by some to have been the nephew of Joseph, by others the
offspring of the Virgin’s sister, who was also named Mary. It is
possible that both these statements may be correct. He succeeded St.
James the Less in the Bishopric of Jerusalem, and was crucified in the
reign of Trajan, in his 120th year.

[23] See Appendix, Note XII.

[24] The Lord’s Prayer is from the Mishna of the Jews; to this beautiful
compilation our Saviour added a characteristic petition, “Forgive us our
trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us,” for he
approved the beautiful formula then in use, and gave it all it wanted.

                             CHAPTER XXIV.

                   “Yet dread me from my living tomb,
                    Ye bigot slaves of haughty Rome.”

Adonijah and Lucia Claudia remained in the environs of Jerusalem with
the Church and its apostolic bishop, Simeon, for many years. They were
the parents of a lovely family, who were growing up in the nurture and
fear of the Lord, when the Roman brethren, being desirous of sending
gifts to the Hebrew Christians, wished Adonijah to come to Rome to
receive their bounty for those impoverished children of Abraham who had
received the faith of Jesus. The fulfilment of the prophecies respecting
the dispersion of the Jews had probably occasioned that conversion among
the Israelites spoken of by Hegesippus, the earliest historian of the
Church. There is reason to believe that these persons retained their
ancient customs as far as a people could retain them who were under the
Gentile yoke of bondage, though they received Christ as their High
Priest, Redeemer, and Divine Ruler. Attachment to the customs of their
forefathers, and the example of Christ, “a minister of the
circumcision,” made the Hebrew Christians still cling to their ancestral
ritual. This adherence would in time have created a bar between them and
their Gentile brethren, if it had been suffered to continue; but the
revolts of the unbelieving Jews in the reigns of Trajan and Adrian
caused this separation to cease. No Israelite after those wars was
suffered to remain in Palestine, so that when Jerusalem was rebuilt
under the heathen name of Ælia, the Christian Church established there
was no longer composed of converted Jews. After a time the dispersed and
scattered tribes of Israel might purchase from the Roman soldiers once a
year the mournful privilege of weeping over the solitary
foundation-stone of the temple, but poverty and slavery left few to
avail themselves of the opportunity in that age. The custom has never
ceased; it has been transmitted from generation to generation, and the
nineteenth century still witnesses the affecting commemorative visit of
the Jew to the desecrated shrine where his forefathers once worshipped
Jehovah. He still looks forward to the promises, and fondly hopes to see
the temple crown once more the holy mount; and he will not be deceived,
for the builders will have then received the chief Corner-stone they
rejected, and will bear his seal on their foreheads, his name on their

Nearly two thousand years of woe and degradation then lay in dark and
direful perspective between the children of the dispersion and the dawn
of those better things—those political privileges which the Christian
legislature of our own land has accorded to them. Selfish hearts would
churlishly deny to the Jew his newly granted civic rights, but they
might as well shut out the light of heaven, or forbid the wind to blow,
as withhold the blessings God has promised to his long-suffering people,
whose restoration and final conversion is clearly decreed, and foretold
by Isaiah and all the Jewish prophets.

The converted Hebrews, always working with their hands, possessed none
of the commercial privileges of their unconverted brethren. These poor
saints when thrust out of the synagogues were subjected to much
persecution in every place, and the collection made for their relief in
the metropolis of the world would provide them the means of paying the
heavy tribute imposed upon them by the Roman governors. The Church of
Jerusalem was too poor to aid them; the descendants of some of the
apostles were tillers of the soil, who literally earned their bread in
the sweat of their brows.

Many years had elapsed since Adonijah and his wife had quitted imperial
Rome. The magnificent Coliseum, planned by a Christian architect
martyred by Vespasian, and built by captive Jews destined to die at its
dedication, shone brilliantly in the mid-day sun in its youthful
magnificence; not, as now, hoary with centuries of age, save where the
mantling ivy covers its ruined grandeur with a veil of beauty. A
solitary subterranean epitaph records that Gaudentius, whose genius
raised this mightiest monument of heathen power and heathen cruelty,
died Christ’s soldier and servant, but leaves his history untold, the
question how a Christian became the architect of such a structure
undecided. Perhaps he was condemned like the Jewish masons to build his
own arena of death and martyrdom—the first, not the last, Christian who
suffered on that spot, in the mystic Babylon, for the witness of
Jesus.[25] Adonijah regarded with mournful interest on the beautiful
arch of Titus, and the emblems of the conqueror’s devastating victory
and the desolation of Judea and Jerusalem. Nearly nineteen centuries
have passed since the erection of a monument, beneath which no Jew’s
foot has ever been known to tread, but which stands fair, glistening,
and fresh in our own age as it did then, when his eyes first looked upon
it. He saw in the Temple of Peace the seven-branched candlestick, the
golden vine, and the splendid vessels formerly used in the temple
service, and sighed over the degradation of the fallen Jewish Church. He
looked upwards, nevertheless, and through the dim and shadowy future
beheld the mystic dawning of that day when the dispersed of Israel would
look upon Him with sorrow and contrition whom they pierced, and should
be restored again to their own glorious land. He turned to Lucia Claudia
as he quitted the temple, and said, “Why should I mourn, my wife, for
these things, since the types and shadows of the Mosaic dispensation
have been accomplished and fulfilled in Christ, and like Symeon, having
seen his salvation, I am ready to depart in peace?”

The meeting between Julius the Presbyter and his sister was extremely
moving. He had indeed become a vigilant and faithful minister of Christ
to whom the Greek name of Theodatus had been given by the brethren as a
mark of their general estimation of his piety. From him Lucia heard with
painful interest of the arraignment of the Vestal College, and the
danger that impended over Cornelia Cossi, the Maxima, or chief vestal
priestess. No one knew why Domitian in his quality of Pontifex Maximus
(head priest of Jupiter) chose to institute a prosecution which darkened
the fame and endangered the lives of these unfortunate priestesses. This
year he had opened his public career of crime by condemning the Consul
Glabrio to combat with a lion in the arena; that valiant magistrate had
however redeemed his life by slaying his brute assailant, and was
banished; but Cornelia Maxima and her sister vestals found in Domitian a
more incensed and formidable foe than Glabrio. Lucia obtained permission
to visit the Chief Priestess in the prison to which the injustice of a
heathen tyrant had condemned a pure and lofty-minded Roman lady. Time
had not deprived Cornelia Maxima of her majesty of form and stature;
what she had lost in youthful charms she had gained in dignity, and when
she rose from her recumbent posture on the hard pavement of the
Tullianum, and cast an indignant glance upon her uninvited visitor,
Lucia Claudia beheld in the condemned prisoner the very Cornelia of
Nero’s reign who had urged her sovereign to arraign and punish the
lapsed vestal, the wife of his guilty favourite. She remembered this,
but not with anger, as she approached the unhappy Cornelia, and throwing
her arms about her neck assured her that Lucia Claudia still loved her,
and believed her innocent. Cornelia attempted to disengage herself from
the embrace, but she yielded at last to the sweet influence of those
womanly tears and caresses, and wept long and passionately on Lucia’s
friendly bosom. She had never shed a tear during the course of the
prosecution, and when once she became calm she wept no more; no, not
when she descended into her living grave in the sight of the awe-struck
Roman people.

After some minutes she answered the sympathizing inquiries of her
long-lost friend with placid dignity. “Lucia Claudia, I was formerly
tried on this false charge and acquitted;[26] why the accusation has
been repeated I do not know, but Cæsar has condemned me untried and

“No one believes the charge, dear Maxima,” replied Lucia Claudia, “and
it is said that the emperor would pardon you, if you would justify his
cruelty by calumniating yourself.”

“The two Ocelli and poor Veronilla, dreading their living grave,
confessed themselves guilty of a crime they loathed, and never
committed: they were permitted to choose a milder death. But I am a
Roman virgin of loftier lineage and nobler spirit; I can die, but will
not justify my persecutor. Celer cleared himself and me by an heroic
death; but Valerius Licinianus has purchased life and shame at my
expense. His eloquence might have saved us both: he falsely avowed
himself a guilty wretch. ‘Licinianus has justified me,’ was Cæsar’s own
remark; and he is pardoned, while I am doomed and slandered.”

“He is again imprisoned for concealing your freedwoman at one of his

“Ah! by Vesta, a light breaks in upon me. She was fair and young. He
loved her then, doubtless; those stolen visits to the temple were really
made; yes, and to her. Frail girl! and base calumnious man! O Celer,
Celer! and thou didst vainly endure the torturing scourge for both;” and
the miserable priestess threw herself upon the ground, and fell into an
agony that had no tears, found no relief in sighs and groans. The
noble-minded Roman knight’s fate, indeed, had merited and won the
admiration of the spectators, and in after years the degraded
Licinianus—the poor Sicilian schoolmaster whose Prætorian rank excited
such scornful pity—might have envied Celer’s ignominious punishment and
heroic death.

Cornelia gradually overcame her bitter agony; she looked up once more,
and a smile passed over her wan countenance.

“We two, Lucia Claudia, were esteemed the pride of the vestal order; and
I am condemned for incest,[27] and thou art the widow of a bondwoman’s
son, and the wife of a Hebrew freedman.”

Lucia Claudia blushed; she felt the sarcasm, but answered it with meek
forbearance. “I quitted the college a believer in the God of Israel. How
could a Jewish convert minister in the temple of a heathen deity? After
this I became a Christian, and sought to bring in him who had made me a
worshipper of the true God. He betrayed the brethren, in the blind
darkness of his bigoted self-righteousness, and I gave my hand to
Nymphidius to save my fellow-Christians. It was feminine weakness: I
should have trusted the Church to Him whose faith I had embraced, for
not a hair could be torn from a Christian’s head without divine
permission. Of that unholy marriage I will not speak, which linked
together the believing wife and unbelieving husband in an unequal and
abhorred yoke. Listen, Cornelia, while I tell thee how it was severed,
and recognise His hand who saved one and destroyed the other;” and Lucia
Claudia related her own history, and that of Adonijah. She then unfolded
the Christian mission to the condemned Maxima, and implored her “to
repent and be baptized.”

The Maxima shook her haughty head, and turned contemptuously away. “No,
Lucia; I am no believer in strange gods. My austere and holy life leaves
no room for repentance; it is my pride and glory to have been a chaste
votary of Vesta. Nor would I change my fate with one who has forsaken
the custody of the sacred flame, on the existence of which that of Rome
depends, to contract second nuptials, and bear children to a Jew.”

“Ah, Maxima, I think I could share even thy living grave, could I but
know that thou didst carry with thee the faith, the hope, the love of a

“Lucia Claudia, thou shalt see me suffer. Yes, I pray thee, follow my
bier, watch me descending into my living grave, and bear witness to my
constancy, I loved thee once, and I love thee still. Thou wilt be near
me, thou wilt not deny me my last request?” and Lucia promised, wept,
and departed.

Domitian, who was exceedingly anxious that his victim should submit to
his sentence, had offered Cornelia a full pardon if she would asperse
her own character, but in vain. He had pronounced judgment upon her at
his Alban villa, while the poor prisoner remained at Rome, deprived of
the means of defending herself, or engaging the talents of some eminent
pleader in her defence. The measure was unpopular, and the emperor’s
manner of exercising the office of supreme pontiff unprecedented even in
that age of crime. Nobody believed the charges against the unfortunate
Maxima, and when the covered litter that contained the condemned vestal
priestess was seen proceeding along the silent streets, the ominous
procession excited general commiseration. No reproachful word reached
the ears of the victim, no malediction was heaped upon her devoted head,
no injurious epithet added insult to injury, for the sympathies of a
mighty people were with the calumniated Maxima. Two centuries had
elapsed since such a dismal tragedy had been acted at Rome, and the
advance of learning and knowledge had rendered the Romans less
superstitious, though not more virtuous, and the immolation excited
disgust and indignation against its actors. Wrapped in her pallium and
closely veiled, Lucia Claudia clung trembling to the arm of her husband,
and with faltering steps followed the procession from the prison through
the thronged Forum to the Collina Gate, where the sepulchral cavern had
been re-opened to enclose the living form of Cornelia Cossi. The bed,
the lamp, the loaf, the bread-mill, the pitcher of water, and cruize of
oil, had been already provided; the emperor in his character of supreme
pontiff, wearing his sacerdotal robes, with his priestly attendants,
stood by the dark yawning chasm to receive the victim; the litter was
then unclosed, the unfortunate priestess was unbound, and faced
Domitian, who extended his hands to utter the customary prayers in order
to avert the consequences of the vestal’s imputed guilt from the heads
of the Roman people.

The unfortunate Maxima turned her magnificent countenance from him to
the vast assembly as she invoked Vesta and every deity of earth and
heaven to attest her innocence; but her voice was distinct, clear, and
even melodious. She was interrupted by the emperor, who charged her with
the crime for which she was about to suffer, and urged her repeatedly to
confess her guilt. To his severe remarks Cornelia calmly replied, “Cæsar
believes me guilty of incest, who performed the sacred rites when he
conquered and triumphed.” She had repeatedly uttered these mysterious
words on her way to the Collina Gate. No one but herself and Domitian
comprehended their meaning. Pliny the Younger, who was present, could
not discover whether this speech was intended as a satirical allusion to
the ill-success of the emperor’s Dacian campaigns, for which he had
nevertheless triumphed, or whether the unfortunate vestal wished to
conciliate her judge, and attest her own purity by this reply; the
enigma was never solved by Cornelia. Then the imperial pontiff made his
impious prayers, and after consigning the condemned vestal to her
executioners departed with his priestly attendants. At this moment Lucia
Claudia raised her veil, and turned her tearful eyes upon the unhappy
Maxima, who returned her sympathising recognition with a glance of
intelligent gratitude, and even smiled. No trace of the strong agony
that had convulsed her noble figure on the pavement of the Tullianum
remained on her dignified and placid countenance. She looked towards the
temple of which she had been the presiding priestess, she gazed upon the
Roman people, and cast a farewell look upon the bright blue heavens that
canopied old Rome, and then resolutely advanced towards the chasm. As
she placed her firm unshrinking foot upon the steps, the executioner put
forth his hand to disengage her robe, but the vestal haughtily repulsed
him, as if his touch were profanation to her purity. She was observed to
gather her flowing drapery closely round her magnificent person as she
descended into her living grave,[28] and this simple and intuitive trait
of feminine modesty redeemed for ever the aspersed character of Cornelia
Cossi Maxima, in the eyes of the vast assembly who witnessed it, from
defamation; and that dark sepulchral vault was closed never to be
re-opened to enclose another victim. The conviction that Cornelia had
been unjustly immolated made a lasting impression upon the Roman people,
and the mound that marked the awful spot was never again disturbed by
the votaries of a cruel superstition. The extension of Christianity
banished cruel heathen rites.

Adonijah drew the folds of her ample veil over the convulsed features of
his fainting wife, and, wrapping her in her pallium, bore her inanimate
form to the house of a Christian brother; but some time elapsed before
she showed signs of life. When she recovered from her swoon, she wept
long and prayed much; yet, in her deep commiseration for the unfortunate
Maxima, the feeling that she had died a heathen, uncheered by the hope
of a better life, was still surpassingly bitter—the bitterest drop
indeed in a bitter cup. These thoughts and reflections were naturally
succeeded by others of a less painful character. Her conversion to
Christianity had not only been the means of bringing her out of idolatry
and darkness into the bright refulgence of the Gospel day, but it had
saved her from the suicidal despair of the vestals Ocelli and Veroilla,
and the living interment of the calumniated Maxima Cornelia Cossi.

The Latin Church considered even the temporary residence of Lucia
Claudia in Rome and Italy unsafe at such a period, and the converted
vestal priestess quitted the metropolis of the world for ever. She
returned with Adonijah to the Church at Jerusalem, and passed many
tranquil years in the bosom of her Christian family, till the revolt of
the Jews in the reign of Trajan, which was also a war with the Hebrew
converts to Christianity, when, Adonijah being slain by his own
countrymen, the widowed Lucia Claudia became a deaconess of the Church.
She exercised this office at the time when Simeon the apostle was
martyred, who, at one hundred and twenty years, excited by his patient
fortitude the admiration of Atticus, the governor of Syria during the
third persecution of the Christians in the reign of Trajan. She quitted
Jerusalem before it was besieged by Adrian, and retired with the Hebrew
Christian Church to Pella beyond Jordan, but never to return; for she
fell asleep at an advanced age, in the full assurance of Christian hope.

The Hebrew Christian Church lost its distinctive character when it could
no longer maintain its succession of Jewish bishops, nor retain its see;
for the rescripts of Adrian, which forbade the Jews to dwell in
Palestine, virtually put an end to the hierarchy:[29] for the second
Church of Christ founded at Ælia—the name of the heathen city built by
Adrian—was not composed of converted Jews, but of Gentiles who had
forsaken idolatry to follow the Lord Jesus. In our own days another
Hebrew Christian Church has been founded at Jerusalem, to which “kings
have become nursing fathers, and queens nursing mothers,” in fulfilment
of an ancient prophecy, “that Jerusalem shall evermore become the joy of
the whole earth.”

  “Thou living wonder of Jehovah’s word!
   Thou, that without a priest or sacrifice,
   Ephod or temple, lone ’mid human-kind,
   Cleavest to thy statutes with unswerving mind,
   As though enthroned upon His mercy-seat,
   The spreading of the cherubim between,
   Jehovah still were seen!
   Hebrew, come forth! dread not the light of day,
   Dread not the insulter’s cry;
   The arch[30] that rose o’er thy captivity
   No more shall turn thee from thy destined way.”
   ——“It comes—the appointed hour;
   Hebrew, beneath the arch of Titus pause!
   And in the closing scene of Rome’s last power,
   Thy prophet’s roll unfold.

     Lift up thy voice!—the day-spring from on high
   Warns that the hour draws nigh:
   The far seas and the multitude of isles,
   All in their tongues have heard,
   Each lisps the living word;
   Hebrew, on thee redemption’s angel smiles.
   The stone cut out without a hand
   Now spreads its shade o’er earth,
   And shall to heaven expand.
   Tell the dispersed; kings with their fleets shall come
   To bear the wanderers home,
   Their queens shall fold thy nurselings on their breast,
   A light o’er earth shall flow,
   From Zion’s hallowed brow,
   And there the Lord thy God, enthroned in glory, rest.”[31]


[25] In the Sotterania a monument, purporting to be that of Gaudentius,
the architect of the Coliseum, has been discovered. It appears from the
inscription that he was beheaded by Vespasian for being a Christian. The
name of this martyr is the only one connected with the martyrology of
the period; but as Vespasian put to death many of the descendants of
David, some of these may have been Christians.

[26] Neither the charge nor the time of the former trial are known.

[27] Unchastity in the vestal was called incest.

[28] See Appendix, Note XIII.

[29] See Appendix, Note XIV.

[30] The Jews never pass under the arch of Titus; to this day they go
out of their direct way to avoid it.

[31] Sotheby.

                            A P P E N D I X.

                                NOTE I.

“Nero arrived at Corinth, and was there surprised to see by what a
narrow isthmus the two seas were separated. The project of piercing
through the land, and forming a navigable canal to connect the two seas,
(the Ionian and Ægean,) and render it unnecessary for mariners to sail
round the Peloponnesus, struck his fancy, and fired him with ideas of
immortal fame. The Greeks opposed the design, and endeavoured to
dissuade him from undertaking it. The language of superstition was, that
to attempt to join what had been severed for ages would be an impious
violation of the laws of nature.

“Nero was not to be deterred from his purpose. He knew besides that the
attempt had been made by Demetrius Poliorcetes, an Eastern king, by
Julius Cæsar, and Caligula; and to accomplish an arduous work which
those three princes had undertaken without effect, appeared to him the
height of human glory. He resolved therefore to begin the work without
delay. Having harangued the Prætorian soldiers, he provided himself with
a golden pickaxe, and advancing on the shore sang in melodious strains a
hymn to Neptune, Amphitrite, and all the marine deities who allay or
heave the waters of the deep. After this ceremony he struck the first
stroke into the ground, and with a basket of sand on his shoulder
marched away in triumph, proud of his Herculean labour. The natives of
the country saw the frantic enterprise with mixed emotions of
astonishment and religious horror. They observed to Nero, that of the
three princes who had conceived the same design not one had died a
natural death. They told him further, that in some places as soon as the
axe pierced the ground a stream of blood gushed from the wound, hollow
groans were heard from subterraneous caverns, and various spectres
emitting a feeble murmur were seen to glide along the coast. These
remonstrances made no impression.” (_Annals of Tacitus_, Book XVI.)

These supernatural appearances were doubtless produced by perfectly
natural causes. The Corinthians contrived those impostures to prevent
Nero from carrying on his work. He was not deceived by them, for he
pursued his design unawed by these ill omens, which he would hardly have
done if he had believed them real.

                                NOTE II.

“Jotapata was the strongest place in Galilee. Josephus the historian,
and the governor of the province, undertook its defence. The siege
lasted seven and forty days. The inhabitants refusing to capitulate, the
signal was given for a general assault. Except the women and children
and about twelve hundred prisoners, all who were found in the town died
in one general carnage. Josephus was afterwards found in a cave.
Vespasian gave him his life.”

                               NOTE III.

“Vespasian, in compliance with Nero’s letters, sent six thousand
prisoners to work at the isthmus of Corinth.”

                                NOTE IV.

“Being at length determined to execute the bloody purpose he had for
some time harboured in secret, Nero wrote to Corbulo in terms of great
esteem and kindness, calling him his friend and benefactor, and
expressing his ardent wish to have an interview with a general who had
rendered such signal services to the empire. Corbulo fell into the
snare. A mind like his, impregnated with honour and heroic fortitude,
could admit no suspicion of intended treachery. He embarked without any
retinue, and landed at Cenchreæ, a Corinthian harbour in the Ægean Sea.
Nero was then dressed in his pantomime garb, and ready to mount the
stage, when the arrival of his general officer was announced. He felt
the indecency of giving an audience in his comedian’s dress to a man
whom he respected while he hated him. To free himself from all
embarrassment he took the shortest way, and sent a death warrant.
Corbulo saw too late that honesty is too often the dupe of an ignoble
mind. ‘I have deserved this,’ he said, and fell upon his sword.”
(_Annals of Tacitus._)

                                NOTE V.

The sacerdotal order of the Vestals was a very ancient institution,
supposed to have been derived from Greece. It was introduced by Numa,
the second Roman king.

It is a remarkable fact that in most ancient heathen countries we find
an order of women dedicated to celibacy, whose chastity was considered
essential to the well-being of the state; thus we find virgins of the
sun in Persia, an order of recluses in Syria, described by Pliny, and
the vestal priestesses of Italy, afterwards revived by Numa, who limited
their number to four, to which two were added by Servius Tullus. It is
difficult to define the principles of this mysterious religion, of which
fire was the only visible emblem; but the orbicular form of the temple,
and the absence of any image, have led to the idea that the earth was
the object of this occult worship, and that the fire was intended to
convey the idea of Providence, the divine mind, or soul of the universe,
which enlightens and cherishes animated nature by the means of heat.
Upon the preservation of the sacred fire the existence of the state was
supposed to depend; it was continually watched by the priestesses upon
whose care the public welfare was supposed to depend. The secret,
whatever it might be, was supposed to be contained in two little tuns,
treasured in a private part of the temple, which no person was suffered
to approach. The order existed till the time of the emperor Honorius,
but its dissolution left its mysteries unrevealed. Our Saxon ancestors
worshipped a deity called Hertha, served by virgin priestesses, who
appears to have been the German Vesta. The earth was undoubtedly
worshipped under the name of Hertha, and we may therefore conclude that
the German and Latin superstitions have had the same common origin. The
vestals commenced their vocation at six years, and were vowed to thirty
years of celibacy, the least infringement of which state exposed them to
the doom of a living grave. The great privileges granted to these
virgins might console the proud or ambitious for the loss of domestic
ties. A lictor always preceded their chariots, which were drawn by white
horses; every man, whatever his rank might be, made way for them; even
the consuls stopped and lowered their fasces reverently before them. To
insult them was to provoke instant death. They were assigned a
distinguished place at the theatre or circus, and could determine any
cause submitted to their arbitration.

They were allowed the privilege of saving any criminal whom they might
meet on the way to execution, provided they would declare the rencontre
to have been purely accidental. They possessed a political importance
which they frequently exercised on momentous occasions. Thus the life of
Julius Cæsar was preserved by the appeal of those priestesses to Sylla,
that tyrant sparing his intended victim at their request.

The wills of eminent persons were usually lodged in their hands, and
they took charge of considerable sums of money, which the owners
considered would be safer in their keeping than in their own. Even in
death the vestal possessed a peculiar privilege; she was buried within
the walls—intramural interment being the highest mark of distinction
that ancient Rome could confer on her citizens.

The dress of the vestals consisted of a white stole bordered with
purple, they wore no veil, their head was covered by a sort of coif,
from which hung long streamers of ribbon. This head-dress probably
resembled the modern cap. As the long hair of the young vestal was cut
off upon her admission into the college, and suspended from a tree which
had never borne fruit, this ornament, if it were suffered to grow again,
was always closely concealed under the coif, which fitted the head very
closely, a white fillet encircled the forehead. As great perfection of
form and features were essential requisites in the candidate, the
vestals, though taken from either order, were always beautiful. They
were maintained by the state in affluence, and the funds of their
college were continually augmented by legacies bequeathed by the pious,
or donatives bestowed upon them by those persons desirous of obtaining
their good offices. The state gave these priestesses the privilege of
willing their property,—a right at that time allowed to no other Roman
lady. At the end of thirty years the vestals might return to the world
and marry, but no priestess of this order was ever known to do so, for
she would have lost those rights which made her an object of interest
and veneration to the Romans and the world they governed.

These proud privileges might be lost, however, by a lapse from virtue,
or a false accusation. If any public calamity befell the Romans it was
imputed to the secret guilt of these priestesses, and they were buried
alive, unless some advocate succeeded in snatching them from such a
fearful fate. Cicero delivered by his eloquence one of these ladies from
a charge involving her life and honour; but in the reign of Domitian
three vestals were convicted of unchastity and put to death. Plutarch,
in his Life of Numa, has been very particular in describing the dismal
ceremonial of the interment of the unchaste vestal. The condemnation of
the Vestal College had been so recent that he doubtless described the
scene from those who had witnessed its horrors.

Several festivals were celebrated in ancient Rome in honour of Vesta.
That on the calends of March, when the vestals rekindled the sacred
fire, and the laurels were renewed that encircled the consular fasces,
must have been very interesting. The solar rays were used for this
purpose,—a custom found also among the Druids, only that they commenced
the year from the 1st of January, while the Virgin College adhered to
the defective old calendar of the early regal times.

On the ides of May the vestals, accompanied by the Pontifical College,
threw from the bridge Sublicius thirty figures instead of human beings,
which had once been offered to Saturn from that place,—a barbarous
custom abolished, tradition declared, by Hercules. But the Vestalia held
on the ninth of June was the great festival which gave the Roman ladies
the most pleasure, because it afforded them an opportunity of displaying
their gayest apparel and ornaments in the procession from the temple or
Vesta to the Capitol.

The month of December was dedicated to Vesta. The temple of this deity
stood on Mount Palatine, it was circular in form and unadorned, the
altar on which the sacred fire continually was burning stood in the
middle of the fane. Men were permitted free access to this temple during
the day, but were denied admittance at night. The sanctuary, however,
might not be approached by masculine feet.

The sacred fire was kept burning for centuries, and was only
extinguished with the sacerdotal order that had so long maintained its
mysterious flame.

                                NOTE VI.

The Christians were punished as the incendiaries of Rome. Nero was at
once their accuser and their judge. It must be remembered that Tacitus,
though deeply prejudiced against the Christians, bears an honourable
testimony to their innocence. “Nothing,” he says, “could efface from the
minds of men the prevailing opinion that Rome was set on fire by Nero’s
own orders. The infamy of that horrible transaction still adhered to
him. In order, if possible, to remove the imputation, he determined to
transfer the guilt to others. For this purpose he punished with
exquisite tortures a race of men detested for their evil practices, by
vulgar appellation called Christians. The name was derived from Christ,
who in the reign of Tiberius suffered under Pontius Pilate, the
procurator of Judea. By that event the sect of which he was the founder
received a blow which for a time checked the growth of a dangerous
superstition, but it revived soon after, and spread with recruited
vigour, not only in Judea, the soil that gave it birth, but even in the
city of Rome, the common sink into which everything infamous and
abominable flows like a torrent from all quarters of the world. Nero
proceeded with his usual artifice. He found a set of profligate
abandoned wretches who were induced to confess themselves guilty, and on
the evidence of such men a number of Christians were convicted, not
indeed upon clear evidence of their having set the city on fire, but
rather on account of their sullen hatred to the whole human race. They
were put to death with exquisite cruelty, and to their sufferings Nero
added mockery and derision. Some were covered with the skins of wild
beasts and left to be devoured by dogs, others were nailed to the cross,
and many covered over with inflammable matter were lighted up when the
day declined, to serve as torches during the night.

“For the convenience of seeing this tragic spectacle the emperor lent
his own gardens. He added the sports of the circus, and assisted in
person, sometimes driving a curricle, and occasionally mixing with the
rabble in his coachman’s dress. At length the cruelty of these
proceedings filled every breast with compassion. Humanity relented in
favour of the Christians. The manners of that people were, no doubt, of
a pernicious tendency, and their crimes called for the hand of justice,
but it was evident that they fell a sacrifice, not for the public good,
but to glut the rage and cruelty of one man only.” (_Tacitus._)

No Christian can read this account without feelings of resentment
against the historian who has recorded the sufferings of the followers
of Jesus, and their innocence of the crime for which they suffered.
Unhappy prejudice alone prevented Tacitus from doing justice to their
holiness, fortitude, and brotherly love. He ought not upon common report
thus to have “condemned the guiltless.” Murphy has a fine note on these
remarkable passages in Tacitus, a part of which I shall insert, as it
does much honour to his heart and head.

“This was the first persecution of the Christians. Nero, the declared
enemy of human kind, waged war against a religion which has since
diffused the light of truth, and humanized the savages of Europe. Nero
appears to be the first that attacked them as the professors of a new
religion; and when such a man as Tacitus calls it ‘a dangerous
superstition,’ it must be allowed that indirectly an apology is made for
Nero. But for Tacitus, who had opportunities for a fair inquiry, what
excuse is to be made? The vices of the Jews were imputed to the
Christians without discrimination, and Tacitus suffers himself to be
hurried away by the torrent of popular prejudice.”

                               NOTE VII.

Pliny, the friend of Tacitus, bears the following honourable testimony
to the morals of the Christians of his day, then under sharp
persecution. “The real Christians were not to be forced by any means
whatever to renounce the articles of their belief.” He proceeds to the
sum total of their guilt, which he found to be as follows: “They met on
a stated day before it was light, and addressed themselves in a prayer
or hymn to Christ, as to a god, binding themselves by a solemn oath (not
for any wicked purpose) never to commit any fraud, theft, or adultery,
never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust reposed in them; after
which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble to eat their
meal together in a manner perfectly harmless and inoffensive.”

Tertullian, in a strain of exultation, declares that the Christians “for
their innocence, their probity, justice, truth, and for the living God,
were burnt alive. The cruelty, ye persecutors, is all your own, the
glory is ours.”

Such were the Christians of the primitive times, of whom the world was
not worthy.

                               NOTE VIII.

The Triumph of Vespasian and Titus, from Josephus’ Wars of the Jews.

“As soon as it was day Vespasian and Titus came out of the Temple of
Isis, crowned with laurel, and clothed with those ancient purple habits
which were proper to their family, and then went as far as Octavius’
Walks, for there it was that the senate and the principal rulers, and
them that had been recorded as of the equestrian order, waited for them.
Now a tribunal had been erected before the cloisters, and ivory chairs
had been set upon it. Whereupon the soldiery made an acclamation of joy
to them immediately, and all gave them attestations of their valour,
while they were themselves without their arms, and only in their silken
garments and crowned with laurel. Then Vespasian accepted of these
shouts of theirs, but while they were still disposed to go on in such
acclamations he gave them a signal of silence. And when everybody
entirely held their peace, he stood up and, covering the greatest part
of his head with his cloak, he put up the accustomed solemn prayer: the
like prayers did Titus put up also: after which prayers Vespasian made a
short speech to all the people, and then sent away the soldiers to a
dinner prepared for them by the emperors. Then did he retire to that
gate which was called the Gate of the Pomp, because pompous shows do
always go through that gate: there it was that they tasted some food;
and when they had put on their triumphal garments, and had offered
sacrifices to the gods that were placed at that gate, they sent the
triumph forward, and marched through the theatres, that they might be
the more easily seen by the multitude. Now it is impossible to describe
the multitude of the shows as they deserve, and the magnificence of them
all, such, indeed, as a man could not easily think of as performed,
either by the labour of workmen, or the variety of riches, or the
rarities of nature; for almost all such curiosities as the most happy
men ever get by piecemeal were here one heaped on another, and those
both admirable and costly in their nature, and all brought together on
that day, demonstrated the vastness of the dominions of the Romans; for
there was here to be seen a mighty quantity of silver and gold and
ivory, contrived into all sorts of things, and did not appear as carried
along in pompous show only, but, as a man may say, running along like a
river. Some parts were composed of the rarest purple hangings, and so
carried along, and others accurately represented to the life what was
embroidered by the arts of the Babylonians. There were also precious
stones that were transparent, some set in crowns of gold, and some in
other arches as the workmen pleased, and of these such a vast number
were brought that we could not but learn how vainly we imagined any of
them to be rarities. The images of the gods were also carried, being as
well wonderful for their largeness as made very artificially and with
great skill of the workmen: nor were any of these images of any other
than very costly materials; and many species of animals were brought,
every one in their own natural ornament. The men, also, who brought
every one of these shows were great multitudes, and adorned with purple
garments all over, interwoven with gold; those that were chosen for
carrying these pompous shows having also about them such magnificent
ornaments as were both magnificent and surprising. Besides these one
might see that even the great number of the captives were not unadorned,
while the variety that was in their garments and their fine texture
concealed from the sight the deformity of their bodies. But what
afforded the greatest surprise of all was the structure of the pageants
that were borne along, for, indeed, he that met them could not but be
afraid that the bearers would not be able to support them, such was
their magnitude, for many of them were so made that they were on three
or even four stories one above another. The magnificence, also, of their
structure afforded one both pleasure and surprise, for upon many of them
were laid carpets of gold. There was also wrought gold and ivory
fastened about them all, and many resemblances of the war, and these in
several ways and variety of contrivances, affording a most lively
portraiture of itself. For there was to be seen a happy country laid
waste, and entire squadrons of enemies slain, while some of them ran
away, and some were carried into captivity: with walls of great altitude
and magnitude overthrown, and ruined by machines; with the strongest
fortifications taken, and the walls of most populous cities upon the
tops of hills seized upon, and an army pouring itself within the walls;
as also every place full of slaughter, and supplications of the enemies,
when they were no longer able to lift up their hands in way of
opposition. Fire, also, sent upon temples was here represented, and
houses overthrown, and falling upon their owners: rivers, also, after
they came out of a large and melancholy desert, ran down, not into a
land cultivated, nor as drink for man or for cattle, but through a land
still on fire upon every side; for the Jews related that such a thing
they had undergone during the war. Now the workmanship of these
representations was so magnificent and lively in the construction of the
things, that it exhibited what had been done to such as did not see it,
as if they had been really there present. On the top of every one of
these pageants was placed the commander of the city that was taken, and
the manner in which he was taken. Moreover, there followed these
pageants a great number of ships; and for the other spoils they were
carried in great plenty. But for those that were taken in the temple of
Jerusalem they made the greatest figure of all; that is, the golden
table of the weight of many talents; the candlestick, also, that was
made of gold, though its construction was now changed from that which we
made use of; for its middle shaft was fixed upon a basis, and the small
branches were produced out of it to a great length, having the likeness
of a trident in their position, and had every one a socket made of brass
for a lamp at the tops of them. These lamps were seven in number, and
represented the dignity of the number seven among the Jews; and the last
of all the spoils was carried the law of the Jews. After these spoils
passed by a great many men, carrying the images of victory, whose
structure was entirely of ivory and gold. After which Vespasian marched
in the first place, and Titus followed him; Domitian also rode along
with them, and made a glorious appearance, and rode on a horse worthy of

“Now the last part of this pompous show was at the temple of Jupiter
Capitolinus, whither when they were come, they stood still; for it was
the Romans’ ancient custom to stay till somebody brought the news that
the general of the enemy was slain. This general was Simon, the son of
Gioras, who had then been led in this triumph among the captives; a rope
had also been put upon his head, and he had withal been tormented by
those who drew him along; and the law of the Romans required that
malefactors condemned to die should be slain there. Accordingly, when it
was related that there was an end of him, and all the people had set up
a great shout of joy, they then began to offer those sacrifices which
they had consecrated, in the prayers used in such solemnities, which
when they had finished, they went away to the palace. And as for some of
the spectators, the emperors entertained them at their own feast, and
for all the rest of them there were noble preparations made for their
feasting at home; for this was a festival-day to the city of Rome, as
celebrated for the victory obtained by their army over their enemies,
for the end that was now put to their civil miseries, and for the
commencement of their hopes of future prosperity and happiness. After
these things Vespasian built the Temple of Peace, which he finished in a
very short time, and in which he placed the spoil taken in the Jewish
war out of the temple at Jerusalem.”

There certainly is in this account from the pen of the Jewish historian
a servile spirit that cannot fail to disgust every reader. His apathetic
description of the last act of his country’s woeful tragedy is shocking
to humanity. That he rightly considered his people as rejected and
forsaken by God, and therefore is not to be blamed for advising them to
submit, is certainly true. Jeremiah did the same; but how different are
the patriotic feelings of the bard, who sat alone on the drear waste to
weep his people’s woes, from the cold-hearted Josephus, the Jew who
applied the prophecy respecting the Messiah to Vespasian, to whose
idolatrous hand he ascribes the miraculous gift of healing the sick.
Valuable as his history really is, we blush at the servile profanity
that bestows the attributes of divinity upon the Gentile conqueror of
his guilty and miserable people.

                                NOTE IX.

Tacitus, in the commencement of the fifth Book of his History, gives
this interesting description of the national religion of the Jews. “With
regard to the Deity,” he says, “the Jews acknowledge one God only, and
him they see in the mind’s eye, and him they adore in contemplation,
condemning as impious idolaters all who with perishable materials
wrought into the human form, attempt to give a representation of the
Deity. The God of the Jews is the great governing mind that directs and
guides the whole frame of nature, eternal, infinite, and neither capable
of change nor subject to decay.

“In consequence of this opinion no such thing as a statue was to be seen
in their city, much less in their temple. Flattery had not learned to
pay that homage to their own kings, nor were they willing to admit the
statues of Cæsar.”

The signal punishment of the Jews was the more remarkable because the
people, according to Tacitus’ own words, “though harassed by various
acts of oppression, continued to give proofs of a patient spirit,” till
the exactions of Gessius Florus excited them into rebellion. The total
defeat of Cestius Gallus, the governor of Syria, encouraged them to
continue the revolt, and for a time they were uniformly successful, till
the appointment of Vespasian and his son Titus to the chief command in
Judea. The commotions that shook the Roman empire did not affect the
Jewish war; the revolutions that left it sometimes without a head did
not cause a cessation of arms. Vespasian (unconsciously fulfilling the
Divine decree) warred on till every city in Judea and Galilee was taken;
and even when called to assume the imperial purple, he left Titus to
complete the destruction of the Jews by laying siege to the guilty
Jerusalem. Warned by the prophetic voice of their Lord, the Christians
understood that his words were about to be accomplished; they retired to
Pella, beyond Jordan, and thus escaped the general destruction. Famine,
faction, and bigotry within the city fought against the unhappy Jews.
“They had three armies, and as many generals; the three parties
quarrelled among themselves. Battles were fought within the city, and a
conflagration destroyed many parts, consuming a large quantity of grain.
A horrible war indeed was waged within and without the walls, nor were
signs and portents wanting to testify that God himself was against the

“Portents and prodigies,” says Tacitus, “announced the ruin of the city.
Swords were seen glittering in the air, embattled armies appeared, and
the temple was illuminated by a stream of light that issued from the
heavens. The portal flew open, and a voice more than human announced the
immediate departure of the gods.[32] There was heard at the same time a
tumultuous and terrific sound as if superior beings were actually
rushing forth. The impression made by these wonders fell upon a few
only; the multitude relied upon an ancient prophecy contained, as they
believed, in books kept by the priests, by which it was foretold that in
this very juncture the power of the East would prevail over the nations,
and a race of men would go forth from Judea to extend their dominion
over the rest of the world. But the Jewish mind was not to be
enlightened. With the usual propensity to believe what they wish, the
populace assumed to themselves the scene of grandeur that the fates were
preparing to bring forward. Calamity itself could not open their eyes.
If doomed to quit their country, life they declared was more terrible
than death itself.”

It must be remembered that in the prophetical books Christ is sometimes
called the East in the original tongue. Our translation says, perhaps
for the sake of perspicuity, “The righteous man from the East.” This
prophecy, misapplied by Tacitus and Josephus to Vespasian, related to
the spiritual kingdom of Christ. At this day the Christian nations hold
the pre-eminence, and their conquests over idolatrous nations are
gradually preparing the way for the preaching of the gospel.

                                NOTE X.

In the siege of Jerusalem eleven hundred thousand Jews are said to have
perished. The dreadful calamities that befell this nation are to be
found at large in Josephus’ “Wars of the Jews.” On examining and
comparing them with the twenty-eighth chapter of Deuteronomy, we shall
find the prophecies therein contained perfectly accomplished, and agree
with Titus, who declared, after viewing the stupendous fortifications of
Jerusalem, “that man could have done nothing against such, but that the
God of the Jews himself fought against them.” For more than eighteen
hundred years the Jewish people have remained a living monument to
attest to the Gentile nations the truth of revealed religion, “for these
things happened to them for our example, that we might not be
high-minded, but fear, and that of our mercy these may receive mercy
through the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”

                                NOTE XI.

The gladiatorial combats were of Etrurian origin, and were at first only
exhibited as funeral games. Afterwards the curule ediles, upon entering
their office, gave to their fellow-citizens a spectacle calculated to
please a warlike people. After the spectators were seated a great gate
was thrown open, from whence a number of young men, remarkable for
strength and agility, appeared upon the arena, round which they marched
two by two. The combats were of several kinds; at first the combatants
fenced with wooden swords, which were changed at the sound of the
trumpet to blades of sharp steel. The sight of blood and wounds seemed
to give pleasure even to the female part of the audience, and the men
betted largely upon the combatants, just as in our days they do upon
favourite race-horses. The gladiators usually fought till one fell. If
the defeated implored the mercy of the spectators, and they were
disposed to grant it, they raised their hands with the thumb bent,
whereupon the attendants of the theatre removed the wounded man and
conveyed him to a place where his wounds were dressed and his health
restored. But if they resolved upon his death, they displayed their
right hand with the thumb advanced, which was followed by the _coup de
grâce_ which terminated his miserable existence.

These cruel combats did not cease till the reign of the emperor
Honorius, A. D. 404. The Roman people, deeply attached to these
barbarous spectacles, would not give them up. Christianity had
eloquently pleaded the cause of the unhappy victims annually slaughtered
at Rome. Theodosius had enacted laws for their protection, but the
magistrates were not careful to have them enforced. It was a Christian
monk who claims the honour of putting an end to these barbarities
throughout the empire. Telemachus interposed his feeble arm, but noble
courage, to separate the combatants. He descended alone into the arena
to prevent the unholy warfare. The spectators, enraged at this
interruption to their sports, assailed the Christian with a shower of
stones. He died under their hands, but the gladiatorial combats ceased
for ever; for the people lamented their victim, and, respecting the
philanthropy of Telemachus, “submitted to the laws of Honorius” which
abolished entirely the human sacrifices of the amphitheatre. Nor was the
abolition of this abhorrent custom one of the least triumphs ascribed to

                               NOTE XII.

The final restoration of the Jews to their own land after their
conversion to Christianity is foretold in many parts of Scripture,
particularly in the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth verses of the eleventh
chapter of the prophet Isaiah. Indeed throughout his prophecy the return
of his people is declared. Some pious persons, I am aware, conclude from
these passages that the conversion of the Jews to Christianity and their
becoming inheritors of the spiritual Jerusalem is alone to be inferred.
The words, however, appear to bear a plain and positive meaning. This
last stupendous prophecy still remains to be accomplished, but a general
feeling throughout the Christian world in favour of the ancient people
of the Lord, excites a hope that the time is not far distant when they
shall be gathered together from the lands whither they are scattered,
and become “one fold under one Shepherd,” in their own pleasant land.

                               NOTE XIII.

The tragedy in the Vestal College, of which the Emperor Domitian in his
character of Supreme Pontiff was the author, originated in causes
unknown to the historians who have recorded it. Suetonius seems to
consider the victims guilty; but Pliny the Younger was an eye-witness of
the living interment of the Maxima (chief priestess) Cornelia Cossi, and
recorded it in his bitter speeches on the illegality of the proceedings
against her, the heroism of the Roman knight, Celer, and the cowardice
of Valerius Licinianus, who purchased his life by slandering himself and
the unfortunate priestess. He relates in another letter the poverty and
degradation of this prætor. Pliny describes the conduct of Cornelia as
dignified and courageous, notices the manner in which she repulsed the
executioner, and her delicacy in arranging her drapery while descending
into the cavern, but concludes his account with these words—for his
epistle was written at the time when the tragedy occurred, and he did
not forget that he was writing in Domitian’s reign,—“Whether she were
innocent or guilty I know not, but she was treated as a criminal.” It is
from this last immolation that Plutarch has doubtless described the
lugubrious ceremony so exactly in his Life of Numa, for it appears to
have been performed according to the ancient heathen ritual.

                               NOTE XIV.

The particulars respecting the church of Jerusalem are gathered from the
fragments of Hegesippus, the oldest historian of the church, quoted by
Eusebius in his Ecclesiastical History. He states that Hegesippus
travelled from place to place to collect the materials of his history,
and that he talked with men who had known and conversed with the
apostles. He describes the martyrdom of Simeon the brother of Jude,
which took place in the reign of Trajan, when the apostle, who was
second bishop of Jerusalem, was one hundred and twenty years old. The
manner in which the church of Jerusalem was preserved from the miseries
of the first siege of Jerusalem is better known than its second retreat,
when the city was besieged again by the emperor Adrian. As the
Christians composing it were converted Jews, who still adhered to the
Mosaic ritual, a separation would have grown up between them and the
Gentile churches. The rescript of Adrian, which compelled the Jews to
leave Palestine, put an end to this order of things, but not till
fifteen Jewish bishops had successively governed this church for 150
years. The second church of Jerusalem was composed of converted Gentiles
or their descendants.


[32] In these words, “Let us depart,” according to the testimony of

                                THE END.

                           TRANSCRIBER NOTES

Misspelled words and printer errors have been corrected.

Inconsistencies in punctuation have been maintained.

[The end of _Adonijah, A Tale of the Jewish Dispersion._, by Jane
Margaret Strickland.]

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