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Rome a second time besieged.
unburied carcasses, infected the air; and the miseries of famine were succeeded and augmented by the contagion of a pestilential disease, and the proud and insolent Romans were at length compelled to seek relief in the clemency or at least in the moderation of the king of the Goths.
The senate appointed two ambassadors to negotiate with the enemy, When introduced into his presence, they declared, perhaps in a more lofty stile than became their abject condițion, that the Romans were resolved to maintain their dignity either in peace or war; and that if Alaric refused them a fair and honourable capitulation, he might sound his trumpets and prepare for battle with an innumerable people, exercised in arms and animated by despair. “ The thicker the hay, the easier it is mowed,” was the concise reply of the Barbarian, accompanied by a loud and insulting laugh, expressive of his contempt for the threats of an unwarlike populace, enervated by luxury, before they were emaciated by famine. He then condescended to fix the ransom which he would receive as the price of his retreat from the walls of Rome, It was ALL the gold and silver in the city, whether it were the property of the state or of individuals; all the rich and precious moveables; and ALL the slaves that could prove their title to the name of Barbarians. “If such, Q king, are your demands," said they, " what do you
in. tend to leave us?” “ Your lives," replied the haughty conqueror? They trembled and retired.
The stern features of Alaric, however, became insen. sibly relaxed, and he abated much of the rigour of his terms ; for he at length consented to raise the siege on the immediate payment of five thousand pounds of gold of thirty thousand pounds of silver---of four thousand robes of silk---of three thousand pieces of fine scarlet cloth--and of three thousand pounds weight of pepper, But the public treasury was exhausted; the annual rents of the nobles were intercepted by the calamities of war; the gold and gems had been exchanged, during the famine, for the vilest sustenance. Recourse was, therefore, obliged to be had to the hordes of secret wealth which had been concealed by the obstinacy of avarice, and some remains of consecrated spoils, which afforded the only means of averting the impending ruin of the city. As soon as the Romans had satisfied the rapacious demands of Alaric, they were restored, in some measure, to the enjoyment of peace and plenty.*
Before he withdrew his army from the gates of Rome, Alar c had stipulated for the payment of an annual subsidy of corn and money, which the treacherous Romans now sought to evade, and in the following year (409) the Gothic chief, resolving to punish their perfidy, a second time laid siege to their city. On this occasion, however, instead of assaulting the capital, he directed his efforts against the port of Ostia, one of the boldest and most stupendous works of Roman magnificence. This port or harbour, which was undertaken by Julius Cæsar, and finished in the reign of Claudian, where the corn of Africa was deposited in spacious granaries for the use of the capital, had, by this time, insensiby swelled to the size of an episcopal city. As soon as Alaric was in possession of that important place, he summoned the city to surrender, declaring that a refusal, or even a delay, snould be instantly followed by the destruction of the magazines, on which the lives of the Roman people depended. The clamours of the people, and the terror of famine, subdued the pride of the senate-they listened without reluctance to the proposal, which Alario made them, of placing a new emperor on the throne of the Cæsars in place of the unworthy Honorius, and the suffrage of the Gothio con
* Gibbon's Rome, vol. v. ch: 23,
Rome taken and plundered.
queror bestowed the purple on Attalus, præfect of the city.
Attalus, however, was not long in evincing his incompetency for the duties of the high station to which he had been raised; and in the following year Alaric publicly despoiled him of the ensigns of royalty, and sent them, as the pledge of peace and friendship, to Honorius at Ravenna. Some favourable occurrence, however, happening to turn up in the fortunes of this latter prince, just at that moment, the insolence of his ministers returned with it; and, instead of accepting the friendly overture of Alaric, a body of three hundred soldiers was ordered to sally out of the gates of Ravenna, who surprised and cut in pieces a considerable party of Goths, after which they re-entered the city in triumph. The crime and folly of the court of Ravenna was expiated a third time by the calamities of Rome. Alaric, who now no longer dissembled his appetite for plunder and revenge, appeared in arms under the walls of the capital, and the trembling senate, without any hopes of relief, prepared, by a desperate resistance, to delay the ruin of their country. But they were unable to guard against the secret conspiracy of their slaves and domestics, who, either from birth or interest, were attached to the cause of the enemy. At the hour of midnight, the Salarian gate was silently opened, and the inhabitants were awakened by the tremendous sound of the Gothic trumpet.* In the year 410, eleven hundred and sixty-three years after the foundation of Rome, the imperial city, which had subdued and civilized so considerable a part of mankind, was delivered to the licentious fury of the tribes of Germany and Scythia, who, during six days, pillaged the city of all its gold and jewels, stripped the palaces of their splendid furniture the sideboards of their massy plate, and the wardrobes of their silk and purple, which were loaded on waggons to follow the march of the Gothic army-the most cruel slaughter was made of the Romans--the streets of the city were filled with dead bodies--the females were delivered up to the brutal lust of the soldiers-and many of the noblest edifices of the city destroyed by fire.
* There is a very eloquent passage referring to this particular subject, in a letter written by Pelagius, the author of the Pelagian heresy, to a Ro. man lady of the name of DEMETRIAS, and it deserves insertion in this place, were it only to exhibit to the reader a specimen of the superior talents which were possessed by that apostate from the doctrines of grace.
Pelagius, whose original name was Morgan, was a native of Wales, and by profession a monk. He was far advanced in life before he began publicly to propagate luis heretical sentiments, and until that period it seems that he had sustained a blameless reputation; for Augustine, who was cotemporary with him, and combated all his errors, does him the justice to own that" he had the esteem of being a very pious man, and a Christian of no vulgar rank.” Pelagius happened to be at Rome when that city was besieged by the Goths, and was probably a spectator of all that passed during the sacking of that metropolis. Soon after it was taken he set sail for Africa, and from thence wrote to the Lady Demetrias the letter, of which the following is an extract, referring to the Gothic invasion,
I have been induced to go more into detail on this subject, than I should otherwise have done, for the sake of giving the uninformed reader some general notion of the
“ This dismal calamity is but just over, and you yourself, are a witness how Rome that commanded the world was astonished at the alarm of the Gothic trumpet, when that barbarous and victorious nation stormed her walls, and made her way through the breach. Where were then the privi. leges of birth, and the distinctions of qnality? Were not all ranks and. degrees levelled at that time and promiscuously huddled together? Every house was then a scene of misery, and equally filled with grief and confasion. The slave and the man of quality were in the same circumstances, and every where the terror of death and slaughter was the same, unless we may say the fright made the greater impression on those who got the most by living. Now, if flesh and blood has such power over our fears, and mortal men can terrify us to this degree, what will become of us when the trumpet sounds from the sky, and the Arch-Angel summons us to Judg. ment? When we are not attacked by sword, or lance, or any thing so feeble as a human enemy: but when all the terrors of nature, the artillery of Heaven, and the Militia, if I may so speak, of Almighty God, are let loose upon us?"- In the Letters of Augustine. No, 142.
SECT. Iv.] Settlement of the Barbarians in Europe. 305 misery which resulted from the irruption of these Barbarian hordes into the Roman empire; and, because it ultimately proved the means of its subversion ; but it is incompatible with my plan to pursue the matter further, than just to add, that new invaders, from regions more remote and barbarous, drove out or exterminated the former colonists, and Europe was successively ravaged, till the countries which had poured forth their myriads, were drained of people, and the sword of slaughter weary of destroying. “If a man were called,” says Dr. Robertson, "to fix upon the period in the history of the world, during which the condition of the human race was most calamitous and afflicted, he would, without hesitation, name that which elapsed from the death of Theodosius the great (A. D. 395) to the establishment of the Lombards in Italy (A. D. 571). The contemporary authors, who beheld that scene of desolation, labour, and are at a loss for expression, to describe the horror of it. The scourge of God, The destroyer of nations, are the dreadful epithets by which they distinguish the most noted of the barbarous leaders; and they compare the ruin which they had brought on the world, to the havoc occasioned by earthquakes, conflagrations, or deluges--the most formidable and fatal calamities which the imagination of man can conceive."*
The overwhelming progress of the Barbarians soon diffused its powerful effects over Europe. In the course of the fifth century, the Visigoths took possession of Spain ; the Franks of Gaul; the Saxons of England; the Huns of Pannonia; the Ostrogaths of Italy, and the adjacent provinces. New governments, laws, languages; new
History of Charles V. vol. i. sect. 1. The intelligent reader will not need to be reminded how well this account of things corresponds with the striking language of the book of evelatio n quoted at the beginning of this section, see p. 223. Vol. I.