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rounded by a deep and impassable morass. Nor were his fears without foundation, nor his precautions without effect.
“While Italy rejoiced in her deliverance from the Goths, a FURIOUS TEMPEST was excited among the nations of Germany, who yielded to the irresistible impulse, that appears to have been gradually communicated from the eastern extremity of the continent of Asia. The Chinese annals, as they have been interpreted by the learned industry of the present age, may be usefully applied to reveal the secret and remote causes of the fall of the Roman empire. The extensive territory to the north of the great wall was possessed, after the flight of the Huns, by the victorious Sinepi, &c.*-—The North must have been alarmed and agitated by the invasion of the Huns; and the nations who retreated before them must have pressed with incumbent weight on the confines of Germany. The inhabitants of those regions, which the ancients have assigned to the Suevi, the Vandals, and the Burgundians, might embrace the resolution of abandoning, to the fugitives of Sarmatia, their woods and morasses; or at least of discharging their superfluous number on the provinces of the Roman empire. About four years after the victorious Toulan had assumed the title of Khan of the Geougen, another barbarian, the haughty Rhodogast, or Radagaisus, marched from the northern extremities of Germany almost to the gates of Rome, and left the remains of his army to achieve the destruction of the West. The Vandals, the Suevi, and the Burgundians, formed the strength of this mighty host; but the Alani, who had found an hospitable reception in their new seats, added their active cavalry to the heavy infantry of the Germans; and the Gothic adventurers crowded so eagerly to the standard of Radagaisus, that, by some historians, he has been styled the king of the Goths. Twelve thousand warriors, distinguished above the vulgar by their noble birth, or their valiant deeds, glittered in the van; and the whole multitude, which was not less thạn two hundred thousand fighting men, might be increased by the accession of women, of children, and of slaves, to the amount of four hundred thousand persons.”f
Alaric was first defeated in the year 403; and in 406 Radagaisus invaded Italy. The narrative of the historian thus continues :
“The correspondence of nations was, in that age, so imperfect and precarious, that the Revolutions of the North might escape the knowledge of the court of Ravenna; till the DARK CLOUD, which was collected along the coast of the Baltic, BURST IN THUNDER upon the banks of the Upper Danube, &c.-Many cities of Italy
* Gibbon’s Hist. c. 31. vol. v. pp. 210—212.
Ibid. p. 214.
were pillaged or destroyed; and the siege of Florence, by Radagaisus, is one of the earliest events in the history of that celebrated republic, whose firmness checked or delayed the 'unskilful fury of the barbarians. The senate and people trembled at their approach within an hundred and eighty miles of Rome, and anxiously compared the danger which they had escaped, with the new perils to which they were exposed. The savage Radagaisus was a stranger to the manners, the religion, and even the language, of the civilized nations of the south. The fierceness of his temper was exasperated by cruel superstition; and it was universally believed, that he had bound himself by a solemn vow, to reduce the city into a heap of stones and ashes, and to sacrifice the most illustrious of the Roman senators, on the altars of those gods, who were appeased by human blood."*
The storm was not yet come to the full, and, ravaging a new part of the earth, it was turned from Italy to Gaul.
“The invasion of Gaul, which Alaric had designed, was 'executed by the remains of the great army of Radagaisus. The victorious confederates, after having, vanquished the Franks, pursued their march, and on the last day of the year, in a season when the waters of the Rhine were most probably frozen, they entered, without opposition, the defenceless provinces of Gaul. This memorable passage of the Suevi, the Vandals, the Alani, and the Burgundians, who never afterwards retreated, may be considered as the fall of the Roman empire in the countries beyond the Alps; and the barriers which had so long separated the savage and the civilized nations of the earth, were from that fatal moment levelled with the ground. +
“While the peace of Germany was secured by the attachment of the Franks, and the neutrality of the Alemanni, the subjects of Rome, unconscious of the approaching calamities, enjoyed the state of quiet and prosperity, which had seldom blessed the frontiers of Gaul. Their flocks and herds were permitted to graze in the pastures of the barbarians; their huntsmen penetrated without fear or danger, into the darkest recesses of the Hercynian wood. The banks of the Rhine were crowded, like those of the Tiber, with elegant houses and well-cultivated farms; and if the poet descended the river, he might express his doubt on which side was situated the territory of the Romans. This scene of peace and plenty was suddenly changed into a desert; and the prospect of the smoking ruins, could alone distinguish the solitude of nature from the desolation of man. The flourishing city of Mentz was surprised and destroyed; and many thousand Christians were inhumanly massacred in the church. Worms perished after a long
* Gibbon's Hist. pp. 216, 217.
| Ibid. pp. 222, 224.
and obstinate siege; Strasburgh, Spires, Rheims, Tournay, Arras, Amiens, experienced the cruel oppression of the German yoke; and the consuming flames of war spread from the banks of the Rhine over the greatest part of the seventeen provinces of Gaul. That rich and extensive country, as far as the ocean, the Alps, and the Pyrenees, was delivered to the barbarians, who drove before them, in a promiscuous crowd, the bishop, the senator, and the virgin, laden with the spoils of their houses and altars.*
While one barbarian host arose after another, and the storm was only diverted in its course from one part of the empire to another, the power of Rome was broken, in regions which neither, Goths nor Vandals, nor Germans reached. In the year 407, the British army revolted ; a name became the passport to empire, and Constantine, a private soldier, was seated on the throne. He invaded Gaul, and subjected to his authority the cities “ which had escaped the yoke of the barbarians." He reduced Spain, where Scots and Moors were united under his banner. “ The rustic army of the Theodosian family was surrounded and destroyed in the Pyrenees."
But the first great destroyer had again gathered strength, and the tempest, which was never intermitted, speedily burst forth anew with tenfold violence. For after the seat of empire was transferred to Ravenna, and the existence of the imperial throne was no longer compromised, even by the fall of Rome, the city of the Cæsars was thrice besieged and finally sacked by Alaric; and when Rome was evacuated, Italy was ravaged.
“ While the ministers of Ravenna expected, in sullen silence, that the barbarians should evacuate the confines of Italy, Alaric, (in the year 408,) with bold and rapid marches, passed the Alps and Po; hastily pillaged the cities of Aquileia, Altinum, Concordia, and Cremona, which yielded to his arms; increased his forces by the addition of thirty thousand auxiliaries; and without meeting a single enemy in the field, advanced as far as the edge
* Gibbon's Hist. vol. v. pp. 224-226. C. 30.
of the morass which protected the impregnable residence of the emperor of the West. Instead of attempting the hopeless siege of Ravenna, the prudent leader of the Goths proceeded to Rimini, stretched his ravages along the sea-coast of the Adriatic, meditated the conquest of the ancient mistress of the world. 'An Italian hermit encountered the victorious monarch, and boldly denounced the indignation of Heaven against the oppressors of the earth ; but the saint himself was confounded by the solemn asseveration of Alaric that he felt a secret and preternatural impulse, which directed, and even compelled, his march to the gates of Rome. He felt that his genius and fortune were equal to the most arduous enterprises, ---and he pitched his camp under the walls of Rome. During a period of six hundred and nineteen years, the seat of empire had never been violated by the presence of a foreign enemy.*
“ The writers, the best disposed to exaggerate the clemency of the Goths, have freely confessed that in the sack of Rome) a cruel slaughter was made of the Romans; and that the streets were filled with dead bodies, which remained without burial during the general consternation. The despair of the citizens was sometimes converted into fury; and whenever the barbarians were provoked by opposition, they extended the promiscuous massacre to the feeble, the innocent, and the helpless. The private revenge of forty thousand slaves was exercised without pity or remorse, and the ignominious lashes which they had formerly received, were washed away in the blood of the guilty or obnoxious families. The palaces of Rome were stripped of their splendid and costly furniture. The sideboards of massy plate, and the variegated wardrobes of silk and purple, were irregularly piled in the waggons, that always followed the march of a Gothic army. The most exquisite works of art were roughly handled or wantonly destroyed : many a statue was melted for the sake of the precious materials; and many a vase, in the division of the spoil, was shivered into fragments by the stroke of a battle-axe.-The acquisition of riches served only to stimulate the avarice of the rapacious barbarians, who proceeded, by threats, by blows, and by tortures, to force from their prisoners the confession of hidden treasure. Visible splendour and expense were alleged as the proof of a plentiful fortune: the appearance of poverty was imputed to a parsimonious disposition; and the obstinacy of some misers, who endured the most cruel torments before they would discover the secret object of their affections, was fatal to many unhappy wretches who expired under the lash, for refusing to reveal their imaginary treasures. The edifices of Rome, though the damage has been exaggerated, received some injury from the violence of the Goths, At their entrance through the Salarian gate, they fired the adjacent houses to guide their march, and to
* Gibbon's Hist. pp. 253–255.
distract the attention of the citizens; the flames, which encountered no obstacle in the disorder of the night, consumed many private and public buildings; and the ruins of the palace of Sallust remained, in the age of Justinian, a stately monument of the Gothic conflagration."*
Large extracts clearly show how amply and well Gibbon has expounded his text, in the history of the first trumpet, the first storm that pervaded the Roman earth, and the first fall of Rome. To use his words in more direct comment, we read thus the sum of the matter. The Gothic nation was in arms at the FIRST SOUND OF THE TRUMPET, and in the UNCOMMON SEVERITY OF THE WINTER they rolled their ponderous waggons over the broad and icy back of the river. The fertile fields of Phocis and Bæotia were crowned with A DELUGE OF BARBARIANS : the males were MASSACRED; the females and cattle of the flaming villages were driven away. and BLOODY traces of the march of the Goths could easily be discovered after several years. The whole territory of Attica was BLASTED by the baneful presence of Alaric. The most fortunate of the inhabitants of Corinth, Argos, Sparta, were saved by death from beholding the CONFLAGRATION THEIR CITIES.—In a season of such EXTREME HEAT that the beds of the rivers were dry, Alaric invaded the dominion of the West. A secluded old man of Verona' pathetically lamented the fate of his contemporary TREES, which must BLAZE in the CONFLAGRATION OF THE WHOLE COUNTRY. And the emperor of the Romans fled before the king of the Goths.
A FURIOUS TEMPEST was excited among the nations of Germany; from the NORTHERN EXTREMITY of which the barbarians marched almost to the gates of Rome. They achieved the destruction of the west. The DARK CLOUD which was collected along the coasts
Gibbon’s Hist. pp. 314-318. c. 31.