תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

amount composed undy, is accurate mber of houthis period, Mr divide two clair eight thoufa neige

• In regard to the populousness of Rome at this period, Mr. Gibbon tells us, that the total number of houses in the fourteen regions of the city, is accurately stated in the description of Rome, composed under the reign of Theodofius, and that they amount to forty-eight thousand three hundred and eighty-two. The two classes of domus and of insulæ, into which they are divided, include all the habitations of the capital, of every rank and condition, from the marble palace of the Anisii, with a numerous establishment of freedmen and slaves, to the lofty and narrow lodging-house where the poet Codrus and his wife were permitted to hire a wretched garret inmediately under the tiles. If we adopt the same average, which, under fimilar circumstances, has been found applicable to Paris, and indifferently allow about twenty-five persons for each house, of every degree; we may fairly estimate the inhabitants of Rome, Mr. Gibbon says, at twelve hundred thousand : a number which cannot be thought excessive for the capital of a mighty empire, though it exceeds the populousness of the greatest cities of mo. dern Europe. .

Having given a distinct and accurate view of the state of Rome under the reign of Honorius; our Historian proceeds, in the same chapter, to give an account of the first, second, and third siege of Rome by the Goths; part of what he says concerning the third siege we shall before our Readers.

• The king of the Goths, who no longer diflembled his appetite for plunder and revenge, appeared in arms under the walls of the capital; and the trembling senate, without any hopes of relief, prepared, by a desperate refittance, to delay the ruin of their country. But they were unable to guard against the secret conspiracy of their flaves and domestics; who, either from birth or interest, were at. tached to the cause of the enemy. At the hour of midnight, the Salarian gate was filently opened, and the inhabitants were awakened by the tremendous sound of the Gothic trumpet. Eleven hundred and lixty-three years after the foundation of Rome, the Imperial city, wbich had fubdued and civilised so considerable a part of mankind, was delivered to the licentious fury of che tribes of Germany and Scythia.

• The proclamation of Alaric, when he forced his entrance into a vanquished city, discovered, however, fome regard for the laws of humanity and religion. He encouraged his troop's boldly to seize the rewards of valour, and to enrich themselves with the spoils of a wealihy and effeminate people: but he exhorted them, at the same time, to spare the lives of the unrefitting citizens, and to respect the churches of the apostles St. Peter and St. Paul, as holy and inviolable sanctuaries. Amidst the horrors of a nocturnal tumult, several of the Chriftian Gochs displayed the fervour of a recent converfion ; aod some instances of their uncommon piety and moderation are related, and perhaps adorned, by the zeal of ecclefiaftical writers. While the Barbarians roamed through the city in quest of prey, the . Rev. July, 1781.

humbic

'

's History of the Roman Empire. hus ble dwelling of an aged virgin, who had devoted her life to the service of the aliar, was forced open by one of the powerful Goths. He immediately demanded, though in civil language, all the gold and silver in her possession; and was astonished at the readiness with which the conducted him to a splendid hoard of maffy plate, of the richest materials, and the most curious workmanship. The Barba. rian viewed with wonder and delight this valuable acquisition, till he was interrupted by a serious admonition, addrefled to him in the following words : “ There, said the, are the consecrated vessels be“ longing to St. Peter; if you presume to touch them, the sacrile« gious deed will remain on your conscience. For my part, I dare “ not keep what I am unable to defend." The Gothic captain, ftruck with reverential awe, dispatched a messenger to inform the king of the treasure which he had discovered; and received a peremp. tory order from Alaric, that all the confecrated plate and ornaments Thould be transported, without damage or delay, to the church of the apostle. From the extremity, perhaps, of the Quirinal hill, to the distant quarter of the Vatican, a numerous detachment of Goths, marching in order of battle through the principal streets, protected, with glittering arms, the long train of their devout companions, who bore aloft on their heads, the sacred vessels of gold and filver; and the martial lours of the Barbarians were mingled with the found of religious psalmody. From all the adjacent houses, & crowd of Chriftians haltened to join this edifying proceffion; and a multitude of fugitives, without distinction of age, or rank, or even of fea, had the good fortune to escape to the secure and hospicable sanctuary of the Vatican. The learned work, concerning the City of God, was professedly composed by St. Auguftin, to justify the ways of Providence in the destruction of the Roman greatness. He celebrates, with peculiar fatisfaction, this memorable triumph of Cbrift; and insults his adversaries, by challenging them to produce some fimilar example, of a town taken by form, in which the fabulous gods of antiquity had been able to protect either themselves, or their deluded vocaries.

o In the sack of Rome, fome rare and extraordinary examples of Barbarian virtue have been deservedly applauded. - But the holy precinets of the Vatican, and the apoftolic churches, could receive a very Small proportion of the Roman people : many thousand warriors, more especially of the Huns, who served under the standard of Alaric, were ftrangers to the name, or at least to the faith, of Chrift; and we may suspect, without any breach of charity or candour, that, in the hour of favage licence, when every pation was infamed, and every restraint was removed, the precepis of the gospel feldom influenced the behaviour of the Gothic Christians. The writers, the best disposed to exaggerate their clemency, have freely confeffed, that a cruel Naughter was made of the Romans; and that the streets of the city were filled with dead bodies, which remained without burial during the general consternation. The despair of the citizens was sometimes converted into fury; and whenever the Barbarians were provoked by opposition, they extended the promiscuous masacre, to the feeble, the innocent, and the helpless. The private revenge of forty thousand flaves was exercised without pity

OF

or remorse ; and the ignominious lashes, which they had formerly received, were washed away in the blood of the guilty, or obnoxious, families. The matroos and virgins of Rome were exposed co inju. ries more dreadful, in the apprehension of chastity, than death itself; and the ecclefiaftical historian has selected an example of female virtue, for the admiration of furure ages. A Romao lady, of fingular beauty and orthodox faith, had excited the impatient desires of a young Goth, who, according to the fagacious remark of Sozomen, was attached to the Arian heresy. Exasperated by her obstinate refittance, he drew his sword, and, with the anger of a lover, slightly wounded her neck. The bleeding heroine fill continued to brave his resentment, and to repel his love, till the ravilher defifted from his unavailing efforts, respectfully conducted her to the sanctuary of the Vatican, and gave six pieces of gold to the guards of the church, on condition that they should restore her inviolace to the arms of her husband. Such instances of courage and generosity were not exa tremely common. The brutal soldiers fatisfied their sensual appea tites, without consulting either the inclination, or the duties, of their female caprires : and a nice queition of casuistry was seriously agi. tated, Whether those tender victims, who had inflexibly refused their consent to the violation which they sustained, had loft, by their misfortune, the glorious crown of virgioity t. There were other losses indeed of a more substantial kind, and more general concern. It cannot be presumed, that all the Barbarians were at all times capable of perpetrating such amorous outrages; and the want of youth, or beauty, or chastity, protected the greatest part of the Roman women from the danger of a rape. But avarice is an ina satiate and oniversal pallion ; fince the enjoyment of almost every object that can afford pleasure to the different tattes and tempers of mankind, may be procured by the possession of wealth. In the pillage of Rome, a juft preference was given to gold and jewels, which contain the greatest value in the smallest compass and weight :

6.Sozomen, I. ix. c. 10. Augustin (de Civitat. Dei, I. i. 17.) intimates, that some virgins or mat ons actually killed themselves to escape violation ; and though he admires their spirit, he is obliged, by his theology, to condemn their rath presumption. Perhaps the good bifhop of Hippo was too easy in the belief, as well as too rigid in the censure, of this act of female heroism. The twenty maidens (if they ever exifted), who threw themselves into the Elbe, when Magdeburgh was taken by storm, have been mulriplied to the number of twelve hundred. See Harte's History of Guftavus Adolphus, vol. i.

p. 308.

i + See Auguftin, de Civirat. Dei, 1. i. c. 16. 18. He treats the sobject with remarkable accuracy; and after admitting that there can. not be any crime, where there is no consent, he adds, Sed quia non solom quod ad dolorem, verum etiam quod ad libidinem, pertinet, in corpore alieno perpetrari poteft ; quicquid tale facrum fuerit, etfi re. teotam conftantiffimo animo pudicitiam non excutit, pudorem tamen incutit, ne credatur factum cum mentis etiam voluntate, quod fieri fortaffe fine carnis aliquâ voluptate non potuit. In c. 18. he makes fone curioos difinations between moral and physical virginity. D 2

but,

but, after these portable riches had been removed by the more diligent robbers, the palaces of Rome were rudely stripped of their splendid and costly furniture. The fide-boards of masly plate, and the variegated wardrobes of filk and purple, were irregularly piled in the waggons, that always followed the mirch of a Gothic army. The molt exquisite works of art were roughly handled, or wanionly deItroyed : many a statue was melted for the sake of the precious materials; and many a vase, in the divifion of the spoil, was shivered into fragments by the stroke of a barile-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. Viable splendour and expence were alleged as the proof of a plentiful fortune : the appearance of poverty was imputed to a parfimonious disposition; and the oblinacy of some misers, who endured the most cruel torments before they would discover the secret object of their affe&tion, was fatal to many unhappy wretches, who expired under the lash, for refusing to reveal their imaginary treasures. The edifices of Rome, though the damage has been much exaggerated, received some injury from the violence of the Goths. At their entrance through the Salarian ga'e, they fired the adjacent houses to guide their march, and to distract the attention of the citizens: the flames, which encountered no obilacle in the disorder of the night, consumed many private and public buildings; and the ruins of the palace of Sallust remained, in the age of Justinian, a stately monument of the Gothic conflagration. Yet a contemporary historian has observed, that fire could scarcely consume the enormous beams of solid brass, and that the strergth of man was insufficient to subvert the foundations of ancient itructures. Some truth may poflibly be concealed in his devout al. sertion, that the wrath of Heaven supplied the imperfections of hostile rage; and that the proud Forum of Rome, decorated with the statues of so many gods and heroes, was levelled in the dust by the Atroke of lightning.'

It will probably occur to many Readers of this extract, that chastity, in the opinion of our Historian, is not a very SUBSTANTIAL virtue, nor the violation of it a very SUBSTANTIAL crime. Be this, however, as it may; if the whole of what is advanced upon such a subject had been omitted, the dignity of history would certainly have loft nothing by the omission.

We shall conclude this article with what Mr. Gibbon says concerning the lack of Rome by the troops of Charles the Fifth.

• There exists in human nature a strong propensity to depreciate the advantages, and to magnify the evils, of the present times. Yet, when the first emotions had subsided, and a fair estimate was made of the real damage, the more learned and judicious contemporaries were forced to confess, that infant Rome had formerly received more essential injury from the Gauls, than the had now sustained from the Goths in her declining age. The experience of eleven centuries has enabled pofterity to produce a much more fingular parallel; and to affirm with confidence, that the ravages of the Barbarians, whom

Alaric had led from the banks of the Danube, were less deftructive, than the hostilities exercised by the troops of Charles the Fifth, a Catholic prince, who styled himself Emperor of the Romans". The Goths evacuared the city at the end of fix days, but Rome remained above nine months in the poffeflion of the Imperialists; and every hour was stained by some atrocious act of cruelty, lust, and rapine. The authority of Alaric preserved some order and moderation among the ferocious multitude, which acknowledged him for their leader and king: but the constable of Bourbon had gloriously fallen in the attack of the walls ; and the death of the general removed every re. fraint of discipline, from an army which confifted of three inde.. pendent nations, the Italians, the Spaniards, and the Germans. In the beginning of the sixteenth century, the manners of Italy exhibited a remarkable scene of the depravity of mankind. They united the fanguinary crimes that prevail in an unsettled fate of fo. ciety, with the polished vices which sp.ing from the abuse of art and luxury: and the loose adventurers, who had violated every prejudice of patriotism and superstition to assault the palace of the Roman pontiff, must deserve to be considered as the most profligate of the Ita. lians. At the same æra, the Spaniards were the terror both of the Old and New World: but their high-spirited valour was disgraced by gloomy pride, rapacious avarice, and unrelenting cruelty. Indefatigable in the pursuit of fame and riches, they had improved, by repea:ed practice, the moft exquisite and effectual methods of torturiog their prisoners : many of the Caliillans, who pillaged Rome, were familiars of the holy inquisition; and some volunteers, perhaps, were lately returned from the conquest of Mexico. The Germans were less corrupt than the Italians, less cruel than the Spaniards; and the rustic, or even savage, aspect of those Tramontane warriors, often disguised a simple and merciful disposition. But they had imbibed, in the first fervour of the reformation, the spirit, as well as the principles, of Luiber. It was their favourite anzusement to insult, or deitroy, the consecrated objects of Catholic superstition: they in. dalged, without pity or remorse, a devout hatred against the clergy of every denomination and degree, who form so conliderable a part of the inhabitants of modern Rome; and their fanatic zeal might aspire to subvert the throne of Antichrist, to purify, with blood and fire, the abominations of the Spiritual Babylon.

60 (To be concluded in our next.)

s. The reader who wishes to inform himself of the circumitances of this famous event, may peruse an admirable narrative in Dr. Robertson's History of Charles V. vol. ii. p. 283; or consult the Annali d'Italia of the learned Muratori, tom. xiv. p. 230-244. octavo edition. If he is desirous of examining the originals, he may have recourse to the eighteenth book of the great, but unfinished, history of Guicciardini. But the account which most truly deserves the name of authentic and original, is a little book, intitled, Il Sacca de Roma, composed, within less than a month after the assault of the city, by the brother of the historian Guicciardini, who appears to have been an able magistrate, and a dispassionate writer,'

ART,

D 3

« הקודםהמשך »