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LECTURE III.--THE HUMAN DELUGE
'I have taken in hand,' said Sir Francis Drake once to the crew of
the immortal Pelican, 'that which I know not how to accomplish. Yea,
it hath even bereaved me of my wits to think of it.'
And so I must say on the subject of this lecture. I wish to give you
some notion of the history of Italy for nearly one hundred years; say
from 400 to 500. But it is very difficult. How can a man draw a
picture of that which has no shape; or tell the order of absolute
disorder? It is all a horrible 'fourmillement des nations,' like the
working of an ant-heap; like the insects devouring each other in a
drop of water. Teuton tribes, Sclavonic tribes, Tartar tribes, Roman
generals, empresses, bishops, courtiers, adventurers, appear for a
moment out of the crowd, dim phantoms--nothing more, most of them--
with a name appended, and then vanish, proving their humanity only by
leaving behind them one more stain of blood.
And what became of the masses all the while? of the men, slaves the
greater part of them, if not all, who tilled the soil, and ground the
corn--for man must have eaten, then as now? We have no hint. One
trusts that God had mercy on them, if not in this world, still in the
world to come. Man, at least, had none.
Taking one's stand at Rome, and looking toward the north, what does
one see for nearly one hundred years? Wave after wave rising out of
the north, the land of night, and wonder, and the terrible unknown;
visible only as the light of Roman civilization strikes their crests,
and they dash against the Alps, and roll over through the mountain
passes, into the fertile plains below. Then at last they are seen
but too well; and you discover that the waves are living men, women,
and children, horses, dogs, and cattle, all rushing headlong into
that great whirlpool of Italy: and yet the gulf is never full. The
earth drinks up the blood; the bones decay into the fruitful soil;
the very names and memories of whole tribes are washed away. And the
result of an immigration which may be counted by hundreds of
thousands is this--that all the land is waste.
The best authorities which I can give you (though you will find many
more in Gibbon) are--for the main story, Jornandes, De Rebus Geticis.
Himself a Goth, he wrote the history of his race, and that of Attila
and his Huns, in good rugged Latin, not without force and sense.
Then Claudian, the poet, a bombastic panegyrist of contemporary Roman
scoundrels; but full of curious facts, if one could only depend on
Then the earlier books of Procopius De Bello Gothico, and the
Chronicle of Zosimus.
Salvian, Ennodius and Sidonius Apollinaris, as Christians, will give
you curious details, especially as to South France and North Italy;
while many particulars of the first sack of Rome, with comments
thereon which express the highest intellects of that day, you will
find in St. Jerome's Letters, and St. Augustine's City of God.
But if you want these dreadful times EXPLAINED to you, I do not think
you can do better than to take your Bibles, and to read the
Revelations of St. John the Apostle. I shall quote them, more than
once, in this lecture. I cannot help quoting them. The words come
naturally to my lips, as fitter to the facts than any words of my
I do not come here to interpret the Book of Revelations. I do not
understand that book. But I do say plainly, though I cannot
interpret the book, that the book has interpreted those times to me.
Its awful metaphors give me more living and accurate pictures of what
went on than any that Gibbon's faithful details can give.
You may see, if you have spiritual eyes wherewith to see, the Dragon,
the serpent, symbol of political craft and the devilish wisdom of the
Roman, giving authority to the Beast, the symbol of brute power; to
mongrel AEtiuses and Bonifaces, barbarian Stilichos, Ricimers and
Aspars, and a host of similar adventurers, whose only strength was
You may see the world wondering after the beast, and worshipping
brute force, as the only thing left to believe in.
You may see the nations of the world gnawing their tongues for pain,
and blaspheming God, but not repenting of their deeds.
You may see the faith and patience of the saints--men like Augustine,
Salvian, Epiphanius, Severinus, Deogratias of Carthage, and a host
more, no doubt, whose names the world will never hear--the salt of
the earth, which kept it all from rotting.
You may see Babylon the great fallen, and all the kings and merchants
of the earth bewailing her afar off, and watching the smoke of her
You may see, as St. John warns you, that--after her fall, mind--if
men would go on worshipping the beast, and much more his image--the
phantom and shadow of brute force, after the reality had passed away-
-they should drink of the wine of the wrath of God, and be tormented
for ever. For you may see how those degenerate Romans did go on
worshipping the shadow of brute force, and how they were tormented
for ever; and had no rest day or night, because they worshipped the
Beast and his image.
You may see all the fowl of the heavens flocking together to the
feast of the great God, to eat the flesh of kings and captains, horse
and rider, bond and free.--All carrion-birds, human as well as brute-
-All greedy villains and adventurers, the scoundreldom of the whole
world, flocking in to get their share of the carcass of the dying
empire; as the vulture and the raven flock in to the carrion when the
royal eagles have gorged their fill.
And lastly, you may see, if God give you grace, One who is faithful
and true, with a name which no man knew, save Himself, making war in
righteousness against all evil; bringing order out of disorder, hope
out of despair, fresh health and life out of old disease and death;
executing just judgment among all the nations of the earth; and
sending down from heaven the city of God, in the light of which the
nations of those who are saved should walk, and the kings of the
earth should bring their power and their glory into it; with the tree
of life in the midst of it, whose leaves should be for the healing of
Again, I say, I am not here to interpret the Book of Revelations; but
this I say, that that book interprets those times to me.
Leaving, for the present at least, to better historians than myself
the general subject of the Teutonic immigrations; the conquest of
North Gaul by the Franks, of Britain by the Saxons and Angles, of
Burgundy by the Burgundians, of Africa by the Vandals, I shall speak
rather of those Teutonic tribes which actually entered and conquered
Italy; and first, of course, of the Goths. Especially interesting to
us English should their fortunes be, for they are said to be very
near of kin to us; at least to those Jutes who conquered Kent. As
Goths, Geats, Getae, Juts, antiquarians find them in early and
altogether mythic times, in the Scandinavian peninsula, and the isles
and mainland of Denmark.
Their name, it is said, is the same as one name for the Supreme
Being. Goth, Guth, Yuth, signifies war. 'God' is the highest
warrior, the Lord of hosts, and the progenitor of the race, whether
as an 'Eponym hero' or as the supreme Deity. Physical force was
their rude notion of Divine power, and Tiu, Tiv, or Tyr, in like
manner, who was originally the god of the clear sky, the Zeus or Jove
of the Greeks and Romans, became by virtue of his warlike character,
identical with the Roman Mars, till the dies Martis of the Roman week
became the German Tuesday.
Working their way down from Gothland and Jutland, we know not why nor
when, thrusting aside the cognate Burgunds, and the Sclavonic tribes
whom they met on the road, they had spread themselves, in the third
century, over the whole South of Russia, and westward over the
Danubian Provinces, and Hungary. The Ostrogoths (East-goths) lay
from the Volga to the Borysthenes, the Visigoths (West-goths?) from
the Borysthenes to the Theiss. Behind them lay the Gepidae, a German
tribe, who had come south-eastward with them, and whose name is said
to signify the men who had 'bided' (remained) behind the rest.
What manner of men they were it is hard to say, so few details are
left to us. But we may conceive them as a tall, fair-haired people,
clothed in shirts and smocks of embroidered linen, and gaiters cross-
strapped with hide; their arms and necks encircled with gold and
silver rings; the warriors, at least of the upper class, well horsed,
and armed with lance and heavy sword, with chain-mail, and helmets
surmounted with plumes, horns, towers, dragons, boars, and the other
strange devices which are still seen on the crests of German nobles.
This much we can guess; for in this way their ancestors, or at least
relations, the War-Geats, appear clothed in the grand old song of
Beowulf. Their land must have been tilled principally by slaves,
usually captives taken in war: but the noble mystery of the forge,
where arms and ornaments were made, was an honourable craft for men
of rank; and their ladies, as in the middle age, prided themselves on
their skill with the needle and the loom. Their language has been
happily preserved to us in Ulfilas' Translation of the Scriptures.
For these Goths, the greater number of them at least, were by this
time Christians, or very nearly such. Good Bishop Ulfilas, brought
up a Christian and consecrated by order of Constantine the Great, had
been labouring for years to convert his adopted countrymen from the
worship of Thor and Woden. He had translated the Bible for them, and
had constructed a Gothic alphabet for that purpose. He had omitted,
however (prudently as he considered) the books of Kings, with their
histories of the Jewish wars. The Goths, he held, were only too fond
of fighting already, and 'needed in that matter the bit, rather than
the spur.' He had now a large number of converts, some of whom had
even endured persecution from their heathen brethren. Athanaric,
'judge,' or alderman of the Thervings, had sent through the camp--so
runs the story--the waggon which bore the idol of Woden, and had
burnt, with their tents and their families, those who refused to
They, like all other German tribes, were ruled over by two royal
races, sons of Woden and the Asas. The Ostrogoth race was the
Amalungs--the 'heavenly,' or 'spotless' race; the Visigoth race was
the Balthungs--the 'bold' or 'valiant' race; and from these two
families, and from a few others, but all believed to be lineally
descended from Woden, and now much intermixed, are derived all the
old royal families of Europe, that of the House of Brunswick among
That they were no savages, is shewn sufficiently by their names, at
least those of their chiefs. Such names as Alaric, 'all rich' or
'all powerful,' Ataulf, 'the helping father,' Fridigern, 'the willing
peace-maker,' and so forth--all the names in fact, which can be put
back into their native form out of their Romanized distortions, are
tokens of a people far removed from that barbarous state in which men
are named after personal peculiarities, natural objects, or the
beasts of the field. On this subject you may consult, as full of
interest and instruction, the list of Teutonic names given in
They had broken over the Roman frontier more than once, and taken
cities. They had compelled the Emperor Gratian to buy them off.
They had built themselves flat-bottomed boats without iron in them
and sailed from the Crimea round the shores of the Black Sea, once
and again, plundering Trebizond, and at last the temple itself of
Diana at Ephesus. They had even penetrated into Greece and Athens,
plundered the Parthenon, and threatened the capitol. They had fought
the Emperor Decius, till he, and many of his legionaries, were
drowned in a bog in the moment of victory. They had been driven with
difficulty back across the Danube by Aurelian, and walled out of the
Empire with the Allemanni by Probus's 'Teufels-Mauer,' stretching
from the Danube to the Rhine. Their time was not yet come by a
hundred years. But they had seen and tasted the fine things of the
sunny south, and did not forget them amid the steppes and snows.
At last a sore need came upon them. About 350 there was a great king
among them, Ermanaric, 'the powerful warrior,' comparable, says
Jornandes, to Alexander himself, who had conquered all the conquered
tribes around. When he was past 100 years old, a chief of the
Roxolani (Ugrians, according to Dr. Latham; men of Ros, or Russia),
one of these tribes, plotted against him, and sent for help to the
new people, the Huns, who had just appeared on the confines of Europe
and Asia. Old Ermanaric tore the traitor's wife to pieces with wild
horses: but the Huns came nevertheless. A magic hind, the Goths
said, guided the new people over the steppes to the land of the
Goths, and then vanished. They fought with the Goths, and defeated
them. Old Ermanaric stabbed himself for shame, and the hearts of the
Goths became as water before the tempest of nations. They were
supernatural creatures, the Goths believed, engendered of witches and
demons on the steppes; pig-eyed hideous beings, with cakes instead of
faces, 'offam magis quam faciem,' under ratskin caps, armed with
arrows tipped with bone, and lassos of cord, eating, marketing,
sleeping on horseback, so grown into the saddle that they could
hardly walk in their huge boots. With them were Acatzirs, painted
blue, hair as well as skin; Alans, wandering with their waggons like
the Huns, armed with heavy cuirasses of plaited horn, their horses
decked with human scalps; Geloni armed with a scythe, wrapt in a
cloak of human skin; Bulgars who impaled their prisoners--savages
innumerable as the locust swarms. Who could stand against them?
In the year 375, the West Goths came down to the Danube-bank and
entreated the Romans to let them cross. There was a Christian party
among them, persecuted by the heathens, and hoping for protection
from Rome. Athanaric had vowed never to set foot on Roman soil, and
after defending himself against the Huns, retired into the forests of
'Caucaland.' Good Bishop Ulfilas and his converts looked longingly
toward the Christian Empire. Surely the Christians would receive
them as brothers, welcome them, help them. The simple German fancied
a Roman even such a one as themselves.
Ulfilas went on embassy to Antioch, to Valens the Emperor. Valens,
low-born, cruel, and covetous, was an Arian, and could not lose the
opportunity of making converts. He sent theologians to meet Ulfilas,
and torment him into Arianism. When he arrived, Valens tormented him
himself. While the Goths starved he argued, apostasy was the
absolute condition of his help, till Ulfilas, in a weak moment, gave
his word that the Goths should become Arians, if Valens would give
them lands on the South bank of the Danube. Then they would be the
Emperor's men, and guard the marches against all foes. From that
time Arianism became the creed, not only of the Goths, but of the
Vandals, the Sueves, and almost all the Teutonic tribes.
It was (if the story be true) a sinful and foolish compact, forced
from a good man by the sight of his countrymen's extreme danger and
misery. It avenged itself, soon enough, upon both Goths and Romans.
To the Goths themselves the change must have seemed not only
unimportant, but imperceptible. Unaccustomed to that accuracy of
thought, which is too often sneered at by Gibbon as 'metaphysical
subtlety,' all of which they would have been aware was the change of
a few letters in a creed written in an unknown tongue. They could
not know, (Ulfilas himself could not have known, only two years after
the death of St. Athanasius at Alexandria; while the Nicaean Creed
was as yet received by only half of the Empire; and while he
meanwhile had been toiling for years in the Danubian wilds, ignorant
perhaps of the controversy which had meanwhile convulsed the Church)-
-neither the Goths nor he, I say, could have known that the Arianism,
which they embraced, was really the last, and as it were apologetic,
refuge of dying Polytheism; that it, and not the Catholic Faith,
denied the abysmal unity of the Godhead; that by making the Son
inferior to the Father, as touching his Godhead, it invented two
Gods, a greater and a lesser, thus denying the absoluteness, the
infinity, the illimitability, by any category of quantity, of that
One Eternal, of whom it is written, that God is a Spirit. Still less
could they have guessed that when Arius, the handsome popular
preacher (whose very name, perhaps, Ulfilas never heard) asked the
fine ladies of Alexandria--'Had you a son before that son was born?'-
-'No.' 'Then God could have no son before that son was begotten,
&c.'--that he was mingling up the idea of Time with the idea of that
Eternal God who created Time, and debasing to the accidents of before
and after that Timeless and Eternal Generation, of which it is
written, 'Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.' Still
less could Ulfilas, or his Goths, have known, that the natural human
tendency to condition God by Time, would be, in later ages, even long
after Arianism was crushed utterly, the parent of many a cruel,
gross, and stupid superstition. To them it would have been a mere
question whether Woden, the All-father, was superior to one of his
sons, the Asas: and the Catholic faith probably seemed to them an
impious assumption of equality, on the part of one of those Asas,
with Woden himself.
Of the battle between Arianism and Orthodoxy I have said enough to
shew you that I think it an internecine battle between truth and
falsehood. But it has been long ago judged by wager of battle: by
the success of that duel of time, of which we must believe (as our
forefathers believed of all fair duels) that God defends the right.
So the Goths were to come over the Danube stream: but they must give
up their arms, and deliver their children (those of rank, one
supposes), as hostages, to be educated by the Romans, as Romans.
They crossed the fatal river; they were whole days in crossing; those
set to count them gave it up in despair; Ammianus says: 'He who
wishes to know their number,'
'Libyci velit aequoris idem
Discere quam multae Zephyro volvuntur arenae.'
And when they were across, they gave up the children. They had not
the heart to give up the beloved weapons. The Roman commissioners
let them keep the arms, at the price of many a Gothic woman's honour.
Ugly and foul things happened, of which we have only hints. Then
they had to be fed for the time being, till they could cultivate
their land. Lupicinus and Maximus, the two governors of Thrace
pocketed the funds which Valens sent, and starved the Goths. The
markets were full of carrion and dogs' flesh. Anything was good
enough for a barbarian. Their fringed carpets, their beautiful
linens, all went. A little wholesome meat cost 10 pounds of silver.
When all was gone, they had to sell their children. To establish a
slave-trade in the beautiful boys and girls was just what the wicked
At last the end came. They began to rise. Fridigern, their king,
kept them quiet till the time was ripe for revenge. The Romans,
trying to keep the West Goths down, got so confused, it seems, that
they let the whole nation of the East Goths (of whom we shall hear
more hereafter) dash across the Danube, and establish themselves in
the north of the present Turkey, to the east of the West Goths.
Then at Marcianopolis, the capital of Lower Moesia, Lupicinus asked
Fridigern and his chiefs to a feast. The starving Goths outside were
refused supplies from the market, and came to blows with the guards.
Lupicinus, half drunk, heard of it, and gave orders for a massacre.
Fridigern escaped from the palace, sword in hand. The smouldering
embers burst into flame, the war-cry was raised, and the villain
Lupicinus fled for his life.
Then began war south of the Danube. The Roman legions were defeated
by the Goths, who armed themselves with the weapons of the dead.
Moesia was overrun with fire and sword. Adrianople was attacked, but
in vain. The slaves in the gold mines were freed from their misery,
and shewed the Goths the mountain-passes and the stores of grain. As
they went on, the Goths recovered their children. The poor things
told horrid tales; and the Goths, maddened, avenged themselves on the
Romans of every age and sex. 'They left,' says St. Jerome, 'nothing
alive--not even the beasts of the field; till nothing was left but
growing brambles and thick forests.'
Valens, the Emperor, was at Antioch. Now he hurried to
Constantinople, but too late. The East Goths had joined the West
Goths; and hordes of Huns, Alans, and Taifalae (detestable savages,
of whom we know nothing but evil) had joined Fridigern's confederacy.
Gratian, Valens' colleague and nephew, son of Valentinian the bear-
ward, had just won a great victory over the Allemanni at Colmar in
Alsace; and Valens was jealous of his glory. He is said to have been
a virtuous youth, whose monomania was shooting. He fell in love with
the wild Alans, in spite of their horse-trappings of scalps, simply
because of their skill in archery; formed a body-guard of them, and
passed his time hunting with them round Paris. Nevertheless, he won
this great victory by the help, it seems, of one Count Ricimer
('ever-powerful'), Count of the Domestics, whose name proclaims him a
Valens was jealous of Gratian's fame; he was stung by the reproaches
of the mob of Constantinople; and he undervalued the Goths, on
account of some successes of his lieutenants, who had recovered much
of the plunder taken by them, and had utterly overpowered the foul
Taifalae, transporting them to lands about Modena and Parma in Italy.
He rejected Count Ricimer's advice to wait till Gratian reinforced
him with the victorious western legions, and determined to give
battle a few miles from Adrianople. Had he waited for Gratian, the
history of the whole world might have been different.
For on the ninth of August, A.D. 378, the fatal day, the second
Cannae, from which Rome never recovered as from that first, the young
world and the old world met, and fought it out; and the young world
won. The light Roman cavalry fled before the long lances and heavy
swords of the German knights. The knights turned on the infantry,
broke them, hunted them down by charge after charge, and left the
footmen to finish the work.
Two-thirds of the Roman army were destroyed; four Counts of the
Empire; generals and officers without number. Valens fled wounded to
a cottage. The Goths set it on fire, and burned him and his staff
therein, ignorant that they had in their hands the Emperor of Rome.
Verily there is a God who judgeth the earth.
So thought the Catholics of that day, who saw in the fearful death of
Valens a punishment for his having forced the Goths to become Arians.
'It was just,' says one, 'that he should burn on earth, by whose
counsels so many barbarians will burn in hell for ever.' There are
(as I have shewn) still darker counts in the conduct of the Romans
toward the Goths; enough (if we believe our Bibles) to draw down on
the guilty the swift and terrible judgments of God.
At least, this was the second Cannae, the death-wound of Rome. From
that day the end was certain, however slow. The Teuton had at last
tried his strength against the Roman. The wild forest-child had
found himself suddenly at death-grips with the Enchanter whom he had
feared, and almost worshipped, for so long; and behold, to his own
wonder, he was no more a child, but grown into a man, and the
stronger, if not the cunninger of the two. There had been a spell
upon him; the 'Romani nominis umbra.' But from that day the spell
was broken. He had faced a Roman Emperor, a Divus Caesar, the man-
god by whose head all nations swore, rich with the magic wealth, wise
with the magic cunning, of centuries of superhuman glory; and he had
killed him, and behold he died, like other men. That he had done.
What was there left for him now that he could not do?
The stronger he was, but not yet the cunninger of the two. The Goths
could do no more. They had to leave Adrianople behind them, with the
Emperor's treasures safe within its walls; to gaze with childish
wonder at the Bosphorus and its palaces; to recoil in awe from the
'long walls' of Constantinople, and the great stones which the
engines thereon hurled at them by 'arsmetricke and nigromancy,' as
their descendants believed of the Roman mechanicians, even five
hundred years after; to hear (without being able to avenge) the
horrible news, that the Gothic lads distributed throughout Asia, to
be educated as Romans, had been decoyed into the cities by promises
of lands and honours, and then massacred in cold blood; and then to
settle down, leaving their children unavenged, for twenty years on
the rich land which we now call Turkey in Europe, waiting till the
time was come.
Waiting, I say, till the time was come. The fixed idea that Rome, if
not Constantinople, could be taken at last, probably never left the
minds of the leading Goths after the battle of Adrianople. The
altered policy of the Caesars was enough of itself to keep that idea
alive. So far from expelling them from the country which they had
seized, the new Emperor began to flatter and to honour them.
They had been heretofore regarded as savages, either to be driven
back by main force, or tempted to enlist in the Roman ranks.
Theodosius regarded them as a nation, and one which it was his
interest to hire, to trust, to indulge at the expense of his Roman
Theodosius has received the surname of Great--seemingly by
comparison; 'Inter caecos luscus rex;' and it was highly creditable
to a Roman Emperor in those days to be neither ruffian nor villain,
but a handsome, highbred, courteous gentleman, pure in his domestic
life, an orthodox Christian, and sufficiently obedient to the Church
to forgive the monks who had burnt a Jewish synagogue, and to do
penance in the Cathedral of Milan for the massacre of Thessalonica.
That the morals of the Empire (if Zosimus is to be at all believed)
grew more and more effeminate, corrupt, reckless; that the soldiers
(if Vegetius is to be believed) actually laid aside, by royal
permission, their helmets and cuirasses, as too heavy for their
degenerate bodies; that the Roman heavy infantry, which had conquered
the world, ceased to exist, while its place was taken by that
Teutonic heavy cavalry, which decided every battle in Europe till the
English yeoman, at Crecy and Poictiers, turned again the balance of
arms in favour of the men who fought on foot; that the Goths became
the 'foederati' or allies of the Empire, paid to fight its battles
against Maximus the Spaniard, and Arbogast the Frank, the rebels who,
after the murder of young Gratian, attempted to set up a separate
empire in the west; that Stilicho the Vandal was the Emperor's
trusted friend, and master of the horse; that Alaric the Balth, and
other noble Goths, were learning to combine with their native courage
those Roman tactics which they only needed to become masters of the
world; that in all cities, even in the Royal Palace, the huge Goth
swaggered in Roman costume, his neck and arms heavy with golden torcs
and bracelets; or even (as in the case of Fravitta and Priulf)
stabbed his enemy with impunity at the imperial table; that [Greek
text which cannot be reproduced], to disturb the Goths, was a deadly
offence throughout the Empire: all these things did not prevent a
thousand new statues from rising in honour of the great Caesar, and
excited nothing more than grumblings of impotent jealousy from a
people whose maxim had become, 'Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow
Three anecdotes will illustrate sufficiently the policy of Theodosius
toward his inconvenient guests. Towards the beginning of his reign,
when the Goths, after the death of the great Fridigern, were broken
up, and quarreling among themselves, he tempted a royal Amal, Modar
by name, by the title of Master-General, to attack and slaughter in
their sleep a rival tribe of Goths, and carry off an immense spoil to
the imperial camp. To destroy the German by the German was so old a
method of the Roman policy, that it was not considered derogatory to
the 'greatness' of Theodosius.
The old Athanaric, the Therving--he who had sworn never to set foot
on Roman soil, and had burnt them who would not fall down and worship
before Woden's waggon, came over the Danube, out of the forests of
'Caucaland,' and put himself at the head of the Goths. The great
Caesar trembled before the heathen hero; and they made peace
together; and old Athanaric went to him at Constantinople, and they
became as friends. And the Romani nominis umbra, the glamour of the
Roman name, fell on the old man, too feeble now to fight; and as he
looked, says Jornandes, on the site of the city, and on the fleets of
ships, and the world-famous walls, and the people from all the
nations upon earth, he said, 'Now I behold what I have often heard
tell, and never believed. The Kaiser is a God on earth, and he who
shall lift his hand against him, is guilty of his own blood.' The
old hero died in Constantinople, and the really good-natured Emperor
gave him a grand funeral, and a statue, and so delighted the simple
Goths, that the whole nation entered his service bodily, and became
the Emperor's men.
The famous massacre of Thessalonica, and the penance of Theodosius,
immortalized by the pencil of Vandyke, is another significant example
of the relation between Goth and Roman. One Botheric (a Vandal or
other Teuton by his name) was military commandant of that important
post. He put in prison a popular charioteer of the circus, for a
crime for which the Teutonic language had to borrow a foreign name,
and which the Teutons, like ourselves, punished with death, though it
was committed with impunity in any Roman city. At the public games,
the base mob clamoured, but in vain, for the release of their
favourite; and not getting him, rose on Botheric, murdered him and
his officers, and dragged their corpses through the streets.
This was indeed [Greek text which cannot be reproduced]; and
Theodosius, partly in honest indignation, partly perhaps in fear of
the consequences, issued orders from Milan which seem to have
amounted to a permission to the Goths to avenge themselves. The
populace were invited as usual to the games of the circus, and
crowded in, forgetful of their crime, heedless of danger, absorbed in
the one greed of frivolous, if not sinful pleasure. The Gothic
troops concealed around entered, and then began a 'murder grim and
great.' For three hours it lasted. Every age and sex, innocent or
guilty, native or foreigner, to the number of at least 7,000,
perished, or are said to have perished; and the soul of Botheric had
'good company on its way to Valhalla.'
The Goths, doubtless, considered that they were performing an act of
public justice upon villains: but the Bishops of the Church looked
at the matter in another light. The circumstances of treachery, the
confusion of the innocent with the guilty, the want of any judicial
examination and sentence, aroused their sense of humanity and
justice. The offence was aggravated by the thought that the victims
were Roman and orthodox, the murderers barbarians and Arians; St.
Ambrose, with a noble courage, stopped the Emperor at the door of the
Basilica of Milan, and forbad him to enter, till he had atoned for
the fatal order by public penance. The Caesar submitted nobly to the
noble demand; and the repentance of Theodosius is the last scene in
the downward career of the Caesars, which can call forth a feeling of
admiration and respect.
In January 395 Theodosius died; and after him came the deluge.
The Empire was parted between his two worthless sons. Honorius had
the west, Arcadius the east; while the real master of the Empire was
Stilicho the Vandal, whose virtues and valour and mighty stature are
sung (and not undeservedly) in the pompous verses of Claudian. Of
the confusion which ensued; of the murder (well-deserved) of Rufinus,
the infamous minister whose devout hypocrisy had so long cajoled
Theodosius; of the revolt and atrocities of Gildo in Africa, you must
read in the pages of Gibbon. These lectures confine themselves, at
present, to the history of the Goths.
In January 395, I said, Theodosius died. Before the end of the
winter the Goths were in arms, with Alaric the Balth at their head.
They had been refused, at least for the time, the payment of their
usual subsidy. He had been refused the command of the Roman armies.
Any excuse was sufficient. The fruit was ripe for plucking. The
wrongs of centuries were to be avenged. Other tribes crost the
Danube on the ice, and joined the Goths; and the mighty host swept
down through Greece, passing Thermopylae unopposed, ransoming Athens
(where Alaric enjoyed a Greek bath and a public banquet, and tried to
behave for a day like a Roman gentleman); sacking Corinth, Argos,
Sparta, and all the cities and villages far and wide, and carrying
off plunder inestimable, and troops of captive women.
Stilicho threw himself into the Peloponnese at Corinth to cut off the
Goths, and after heavy fighting, Alaric, who seems to have been a
really great general, out-manoeuvred him, crost the Gulf of Corinth
at Rhium, with all his plunder and captives, and got safe away into
There Arcadius, the terrified Emperor of the East, punished him for
having devastated Greece, by appointing him Master-General of the
very country which he had ravaged. The end was coming very near.
The Goths lifted him on the shield, and proclaimed him King of the
West Goths; and there he staid, somewhere about the head of the
Adriatic, poised like an eagle in mid-air, watching Rome on one side,
and Byzant on the other, uncertain on which quarry he should swoop.
He made up his mind for Rome. He would be the man to do the deed at
last. There was a saga in which he trusted. Claudian gives it in an
'Alpibus Italiae ruptis penetrabis ad urbem.'
Yes, he would take The City, and avenge the treachery of Valens, and
all the wrongs which Teutons had endured from the Romans for now four
centuries. And he did it.
But not the first time. He swept over the Alps. Honorius fled to
Asta, and Alaric besieged him there. The faithful Stilicho came to
the rescue; and Alaric was driven to extremities. His warriors
counselled him to retreat. No, he would take Rome, or die. But at
Pollentia, Stilicho surprised him, while he and his Goths were
celebrating Easter Sunday, and a fearful battle followed. The Romans
stormed his camp, recovered the spoils of Greece, and took his wife,
decked in the jewels in which she meant to enter Rome. One longs to
know what became of her.
At least, so say the Romans: the Goths tell a very different story;
and one suspects that Pollentia may be one more of those splendid
paper victories, in which the Teutons were utterly exterminated, only
to rise out of the ground, seemingly stronger and more numerous than
ever. At least, instead of turning his head to the Alps, he went on
toward Rome. Stilicho dared not fight him again, and bought him off.
He turned northward toward Gaul, and at Verona Stilicho got him at an
advantage, and fought him once more, and if we are to believe Rosino
and Claudian, beat him again. 'Taceo de Alarico, saepe victo, saepe
concluso, semperque dimisso.' 'It is ill work trapping an eagle,'
says some one. When you have caught him, the safest thing very often
is to let him go again.
Meanwhile poured down into Italy, as far as Florence (a merely
unimportant episode in those fearful days), another wave of German
invaders under one Radogast, 200,000 strong. Under the walls of
Florence they sat down, and perished of wine, and heat, and
dysentery. Like water they flowed in, and like water they sank into
the soil: and every one of them a human soul.
Stilicho and Honorius went to Rome, and celebrated their triumph over
the Goths, with (for the last time in history) gladiatorial sports.
Three years past, and then Stilicho was duly rewarded for having
saved Rome, in the approved method for every great barbarian who was
fool enough to help the treacherous Roman; namely, by being murdered.
Alaric rose instantly, and with him all the Gothic tribes. Down
through Italy he past, almost without striking a blow. Ravenna,
infamous, according to Sidonius, for its profligacy, where the
Emperor's court was, he past disdainfully, and sat down before the
walls of Rome. He did not try to storm it. Probably he could not.
He had no such machines, as those with which the Romans battered
walls. Quietly he sat, he and his Goths, 'as wolves wait round the
dying buffalo;' waiting for the Romans within to starve and die.
They did starve and die; men murdered each other for food; mothers
ate their own babes; but they sent out embassies, boasting of their
strength and numbers. Alaric laughed,--'The thicker the hay, the
easier it is mowed.' What terms would he take? 'All your gold, all
your silver, the best of your precious things. All your barbarian
slaves.' That last is significant. He would deliver his own flesh
and blood. The Teuton man should be free. The trolls should drag no
more of the forest children into their accursed den. 'What then will
you leave us?' 'Your lives.'
They bought him off with a quaint ransom: 5000 pounds weight of
gold, 30,000 of silver, 4000 robes of silk, 3000 pieces of scarlet
cloth, and 3000 lbs. of pepper, possibly spices of all kinds. Gold,
and finery, and spices--gifts fit for children, such as those Goths
But he got, too, 40,000 Teuton slaves safe out of the evil place, and
embodied them into his army. He had now 100,000 fighting men. Why
did he not set up as king of Italy? Was it that the awe of the
place, the prestige of the Roman name, cowed him? It cowed each of
the Teutonic invaders successively. To make themselves emperors of
Rome was a thing of which they dared not dream. Be that as it may,
all he asked was, to be received as some sort of vassal of the
Emperor. The Master-Generalship of Italy, subsidies for his army, an
independent command in the Tyrolese country, whence he had come, were
Overblown with self-conceit, the Romans refused him. They would
listen to no conditions. They were in a thoroughly Chinese temper.
You will find the Byzantine empire in the same temper centuries
after; blinded to present weakness by the traditions of their
forefathers' strength. They had worshipped the beast. Now that only
his image was left, they worshipped that.
Alaric seized Ostia, and cut off their supplies. They tried to
appease him by dethroning Honorius, and setting up some puppet
Attalus. Alaric found him plotting; or said that he had done so; and
degraded him publicly at Rimini before his whole army. Again he
offered peace. The insane Romans proclaimed that his guilt precluded
him for ever from the clemency of the Empire.
Then came the end. He marched on Rome. The Salarian gate was thrown
open at midnight, probably by German slaves within; and then, for
five dreadful days and nights, the wicked city expiated in agony the
sins of centuries.
And so at last the Nibelungen hoard was won.
'And the kings of the earth who had lived delicately with her, and
the merchants of the earth who were made rich by her, bewailed her,
standing afar off for the fear of her torment, and crying, Alas!
alas, that great Babylon! for in one hour is thy judgment come.'
St. John passes in those words from the region of symbol to that of
literal description. A great horror fell upon all nations, when the
news came. Rome taken? Surely the end of all things was at hand.
The wretched fugitives poured into Egypt and Syria--especially to
Jerusalem; perhaps with some superstitious hope that Christ's tomb,
or even Christ himself, might save them.
St. Jerome, as he saw day by day patrician men and women who had
passed their lives in luxury, begging their bread around his
hermitage at Bethlehem, wrote of the fall of Rome as a man astonied.
St. Augustine, at Hippo, could only look on it as the end of all
human power and glory, perhaps of the earth itself. Babylon the
great had fallen, and now Christ was coming in the clouds of heaven
to set up the city of God for ever. In that thought he wrote his De
Civitate Dei. Read it, gentlemen--especially you who are to be
priests--not merely for its details of the fall of Rome, but as the
noblest theodicy which has yet proceeded from a human pen.
Followed by long trains of captives, long trains of waggons bearing
the spoils of all the world, Alaric went on South, 'with the native
instinct of the barbarian,' as Dr. Sheppard well says. Always toward
the sun. Away from Muspelheim and the dark cold north, toward the
sun, and Valhalla, where Odin and the Asas dwell in everlasting
He tried to cross into Sicily: but a storm wrecked his boats, and
the Goths were afraid of the sea. And after a while he died. And
the wild men made a great mourning over him. They had now no plan
left; no heart to go south, and look for Odin over the sea. But of
one thing they were resolved, that the base Romans should not dig up
Alaric out of his barrow and scatter his bones to the winds.
So they put no barrow over the great king; but under the walls of
Cosenza they turned the river-bed, and in that river-bed they set
Alaric, armed and mailed, upright upon his horse, with gold, and
jewels, and arms, and it may be captive youths and maids, that he
might enter into Valhalla in royal pomp, and make a worthy show among
the heroes in Odin's hall. And then they turned back the river into
its bed, and slew the slaves who had done the work, that no man might
know where Alaric lies: and no man does know till this day.
As I said, they had no plan left now. Two years they stayed in
Campania, basking in the villas and gardens, drinking their fill of
the wine; and then flowed away northward again, no one knows why.
They had no wish to settle, as they might have done. They followed
some God-given instinct, undiscoverable now by us. Ataulf, Alaric's
kinsman, married Placidia, the Emperor's beautiful young sister, and
accepted from him some sort of commission to fight against his
enemies in Gaul. So to the south of Gaul they went, and then into
Spain, crushing before them Alans, Sueves, and Vandals, and
quarrelling among themselves. Ataulf was murdered, and all his
children; Placidia put to shame. Then she had her revenge. To me it
is not so much horrible as pitiful. They had got the Nibelungen
hoard; and with it the Nibelungen curse.
A hundred years afterwards, when the Franks pillaged the Gothic
palace of Narbonne, they found the remnants of it. Things
inestimable, indescribable; tables of solid emerald; the Missorium, a
dish 2500 lbs. weight, covered with all the gems of India. They had
been in Solomon's Temple, fancied the simple Franks--as indeed some
of them may well have been. The Arabs got the great emerald table at
last, with its three rows of great pearls. Where are they all now?
What is become, gentlemen, of the treasures of Rome? Jewels,
recollect, are all but indestructible; recollect, too, that vast
quantities were buried from time to time, and their places forgotten.
Perhaps future generations will discover many such hoards.
Meanwhile, many of those same jewels must be in actual use even now.
Many a gem which hangs now on an English lady's wrist saw Alaric sack
Rome--and saw before and since--What not? The palaces of the
Pharaohs, or of Darius; then the pomp of the Ptolemies, or of the
Seleucids--came into Europe on the neck of some vulgar drunken wife
of a Roman proconsul, to glitter for a few centuries at every
gladiator's butchery in the amphitheatre; then went away with
Placidia on a Gothic ox-waggon, to pass into an Arab seraglio at
Seville; and then, perhaps, back from Sultan to Sultan again to its
native India, to figure in the peacock-throne of the Great Mogul, and
be bought at last by some Armenian for a few rupees from an English
soldier, and come hither--and whither next? When England shall be
what Alexandria and Rome are now, that little stone will be as bright
as ever.--An awful symbol, if you will take it so, of the permanence
of God's works and God's laws, amid the wild chance and change of
Then followed for Rome years of peace,--such peace as the wicked make
for themselves--A troubled sea, casting up mire and dirt. Wicked
women, wicked counts (mayors of the palace, one may call them) like
Aetius and Boniface, the real rulers of a nominal Empire.
Puppet Valentinian succeeded his father, puppet Honorius. In his
days appeared another great portent--another comet, sweeping down out
of infinite space, and back into infinite space again.--Attila and
his Huns. They lay in innumerable hordes upon the Danube, until
Honoria, Valentinian's sister, confined in a convent at
Constantinople for some profligacy, sent her ring to Attila. He must
be her champion, and deliver her. He paused a while, like Alaric
before him, doubting whether to dash on Constantinople or Rome, and
at last decided for Rome. But he would try Gaul first; and into Gaul
he poured, with all his Tartar hordes, and with them all the Teuton
tribes, who had gathered in his progress, as an avalanche gathers the
snow in its course. At the great battle of Chalons, in the year 451,
he fought it out: Hun, Sclav, Tartar, and Finn, backed by Teutonic
Gepid and Herule, Turkling, East Goth and Lombard, against Roman and
West Goth, Frank and Burgund, and the Bretons of Armorica. Wicked
Aetius shewed himself that day, as always, a general and a hero--the
Marlborough of his time--and conquered. Attila and his hordes rolled
away eastward, and into Italy for Rome.
That is the Hunnenschlacht; 'a battle,' as Jornandes calls it,
'atrox, multiplex, immane, pertinax.' Antiquity, he says, tells of
nothing like it. No man who had lost that sight could say that he
had seen aught worth seeing.--A fight gigantic, supernatural in
vastness and horror, and the legends which still hang about the
place. You may see one of them in Von Kaulbach's immortal design--
the ghosts of the Huns and the ghosts of the Germans rising from
their graves on the battle-night in every year, to fight it over
again in the clouds, while the country far and wide trembles at their
ghostly hurrah. No wonder men remember that Hunnenschlacht. Many
consider that it saved Europe; that it was one of the decisive
battles of the world.
Not that Attila was ruined. Within the year he had swept through
Germany, crossed the Alps, and devastated Italy almost to the walls
of Rome. And there the great Pope Leo, 'the Cicero of preaching, the
Homer of theology, the Aristotle of true philosophy,' met the wild
heathen: and a sacred horror fell upon Attila, and he turned, and
went his way, to die a year or two after no man knows how. Over and
above his innumerable wives, he took a beautiful German girl. When
his people came in the morning, the girl sat weeping, or seeming to
weep; but Etzel, the scourge of God, lay dead in a pool of gore. She
said that he had burst a blood-vessel. The Teutons whispered among
themselves, that like a free-born Teuton, she had slain her tyrant.
One longs to know what became of her.
And then the hordes broke up. Ardarich raised the Teuton Gepids and
Ostrogoths. The Teutons who had obeyed Attila, turned on their
Tartar conquerors, the only people who had ever subdued German men,
and then only by brute force of overpowering numbers. At Netad, upon
the great plain between the Drave and the Danube, they fought the
second Hunnenschlacht, and the Germans conquered. Thirty thousand
Huns fell on that dreadful day, and the rest streamed away into the
heart of Asia, into the infinite unknown deserts from whence the foul
miscreants had streamed forth, and left the Teutons masters of the
world. The battle of Netad; that, and not Chalons, to my mind, was
the saving battle of Europe.
So Rome was saved; but only for a few years. Puppet Valentinian
rewarded Aetius for saving Rome, by stabbing with his own hand in his
own palace, the hero of Chalons; and then went on to fill up the cup
of his iniquity. It is all more like some horrible romance than
sober history. Neglecting his own wife Eudoxia, he took it into his
wicked head to ravish her intimate friend, the wife of a senator.
Maximus stabbed him, retaliated on the beautiful empress, and made
himself Emperor. She sent across the seas to Africa, to Genseric the
Vandal, the cruel tyrant and persecutor. He must come and be her
champion, as Attila had been Honoria's. And he came, with Vandals,
Moors, naked Ausurians from the Atlas. The wretched Romans, in their
terror, tore Maximus in pieces; but it was too late. Eudoxia met
Genseric at the gates in royal robes and jewels. He stript her of
her jewels on the spot, and sacked Rome; and that was her reward.
This is the second sack. More dreadful far than the first--455 is
its date. Then it was that the statues, whose fragments are still
found, were hurled in vain on the barbarian assailants. Not merely
gold and jewels, but the art-treasures of Rome were carried off to
the Vandal fleet, and with them the golden table and the seven-
branched candlestick which Titus took from the Temple of Jerusalem.
How had these things escaped the Goths forty years before? We cannot
tell. Perhaps the Gothic sack, which only lasted five days, was less
complete than this one, which went on for fourteen days of
unutterable horrors. The plunderers were not this time sturdy honest
Goths; not even German slaves, mad to revenge themselves on their
masters: they were Moors, Ausurian black savages, and all the
pirates and cut-throats of the Mediterranean.
Sixty thousand prisoners were carried off to Carthage. All the
statues were wrecked on the voyage to Africa, and lost for ever.
And yet Rome did not die. She lingered on; her Emperor still calling
himself an Emperor, her senate a senate; feeding her lazy plebs, as
best she could, with the remnant of those revenues which former
Emperors had set aside for their support--their public bread, public
pork, public oil, public wine, public baths,--and leaving them to
gamble and quarrel, and listen to the lawyers in rags and rascality,
and to rise and murder ruler after ruler, benefactor after
benefactor, out of base jealousy and fear of any one less base than
themselves. And so 'the smoke of her torment went up continually.'
But if Rome would not die, still less would she repent; as it is
written--'The remnant of the people repented not of their deeds, but
gnawed their tongues for pain, and blasphemed the God of heaven.'
As the century runs on, the confusion becomes more and more dreadful.
Anthemius, Olybrius, Orestes, and the other half-caste Romans with
Greek names who become quasi-emperors and get murdered; Ricimer the
Sueve, the king-maker and king-murderer; even good Majorian, who as
puppet Emperor set up by Ricimer, tries to pass a few respectable
laws, and is only murdered all the sooner. None of these need detain
us. They mean nothing, they represent no idea, they are simply kites
and crows quarrelling over the carcase, and cannot possibly teach us
anything, but the terrible lesson, that in all revolutions the worst
men are certain to rise to the top.
But only for a while, gentlemen, only for a while. Villany is by its
very essence self-destructive, and if rogues have their day, the time
comes when rogues fall out, and honest men come by their own.
That day, however, was not come for wretched Rome. A third time she
was sacked by Ricimer her own general; and then more villains ruled
her; and more kites and crows plundered her. The last of them only
need keep us a while. He is Odoacer, the giant Herule, Houd-y-
wacker, as some say his name really is, a soubriquet perhaps from his
war-cry, 'Hold ye stoutly,' 'Stand you steady.' His father was
AEdecon, Attila's secretary, chief of the little Turkling tribe, who,
though Teutonic, had clung faithfully to Attila's sons, and after the
battle of Netad, came to ruin. There are strange stories of Odoacer.
One from the Lives of St. Severinus, how Odoacer and his brothers
started over the Alps, knapsacks at back, to seek their fortunes in
Italy, and take service with the Romans; and how they came to St.
Severinus' cell near Vienna, and went in, heathens as they probably
were, to get a blessing from the holy hermit; and how Odoacer had to
stoop, and stand stooping, so huge he was. And how the saint saw
that he was no common lad, and said, 'Go into Italy, clothed in thy
ragged sheep-skins: thou shalt soon give greater gifts to thy
friends.' So he went, and his brother with him. One of them at
least ought to interest us. He was Onulf, Hunwulf, Wulf, Guelph, the
Wolf-cub, who went away to Constantinople, and saw strange things,
and did strange things likewise, and at last got back to Germany, and
settled in Bavaria, and became the ancestor of all the Guelphs, and
of Victoria, queen of England. His son, Wulfgang, fought under
Belisarius against the Goths; his son again, Ulgang, under Belisarius
against Persian and Lombard; his son or grandson was Queen
Brunhilda's confidant in France, and became Duke of Burgundy; and
after that the fortunes of his family were mixed up with the
Merovingian kings of France, and then again with the Lombards in
Italy, till one of them emerges as Guelf, count of Altorf, the
ancestor of our Guelphic line.
But to return to Odoacer. He came to Rome, seeking his fortune.
There he found in power Orestes, his father's old colleague at
Attila's court, the most unprincipled turn-coat of his day; who had
been the Emperor's man, then Attila's man, and would be anybody's man
if needed: but who was now his own man, being king-maker for the
time being, and father of the puppet Emperor, Romulus Augustulus, a
pretty little lad, with an ominous name.
Odoacer took service under Orestes in the bodyguards, became a great
warrior and popular; watched his time; and when Orestes refused the
mercenaries, Herules, Rugians, Scyrings, Turklings and Alans--all the
weak or half-caste frontier tribes who had as yet little or no share
in the spoils of Italy--their demand of the third of the lands of
Italy, he betrayed his benefactor; promised the mercenaries to do for
them what Orestes would not, and raises his famous band of
confederates. At last he called himself King of Nations, burnt
Pavia, and murdered Orestes, as a due reward for his benefits.
Stript of his purple, the last Emperor of Rome knelt crying at the
feet of the German giant, and begged not to be murdered like his
father. And the great wild beast's hard heart smote him, and he sent
the poor little lad away, to live in wealth and peace in Lucullus'
villa at Misenum, with plenty of money, and women, and gewgaws, to
dream away his foolish life looking out over the fair bay of Naples--
the last Emperor of Rome.
Then Odoacer set to work, and not altogether ill. He gave his
confederates the third of Italy, in fief under himself as king, and
for fourteen years (not without the help of a few more murders) he
kept some sort of rude order and justice in the wretched land.
Remember him, for, bad man as he is, he does represent a principle.
He initiated, by that gift of the lands to his soldiers, the feudal
system in Italy. I do not mean that he invented it. It seems rather
to be a primaeval German form, as old as the days of Tacitus, who
describes, if you will recollect, the German war-kings as parting the
conquered lands among their 'comites,' thanes, or companions in arms.
So we leave Odoacer king of Italy, for fourteen years, little
dreaming, perhaps, of the day when as he had done unto others so
should it be done to him. But for that tale of just and terrible
retribution you must wait till the next lecture.
And now, to refresh us with a gleam of wholesome humanity after all
these horrors, let us turn to our worthy West Goth cousins for a
while. They have stopt cutting each other's throats, settled
themselves in North Spain and South France, and good bishop Sidonius
gets to like them. They are just and honest men on the whole,
kindly, and respectable in morals, living according to their strange
old Gothic Law. But above all Sidonius likes their king--Theodoric
is his name. A man of blood he has been in his youth: but he has
settled down, like his people; and here is a picture of him. A real
photograph of a live old Goth, nearly 1400 years ago. Gibbon gives a
good translation of it. I will give you one, but Sidonius is prolix
and florid, and I have had to condense.
A middle-sized, stout man, of great breadth of chest, and thickness
of limb, a large hand, and a small foot, curly haired, bushy eye-
browed, with remarkably large eyes and eyelids, hook-nosed, thin-
lipped; brilliant, cheerful, impassioned, full of health and strength
in mind and body. He goes to chapel before day-light, sits till
eight doing justice, while the crowd, let into a latticed enclosure,
is admitted one by one behind a curtain into the presence. At eight
he leaves the throne, and goes either to count his money, or look at
his horses. If he hunts, he thinks it undignified to carry his bow,
and womanish to keep it strung, a boy carries it behind him; and when
game gets up, he asks you (or the Bishop, who seems to have gone
hunting with him) what you would wish him to aim at; strings his bow,
and then (says Sidonius) never misses his shot. He dines at noon,
quietly in general, magnificently on Saturdays; drinks very little,
and instead of sleeping after dinner, plays at tables and dice. He
is passionately fond of his game, but never loses his temper, joking
and talking to the dice, and to every one round him, throwing aside
royal severity, and bidding all be merry (says the bishop); for, to
speak my mind, what he is afraid of is, that people should be afraid
of him. If he wins he is in immense good humour; then is the time to
ask favours of him; and, says the crafty bishop, many a time have I
lost the game, and won my cause thereby. At three begins again the
toil of state. The knockers return, and those who shove them away
return too; everywhere the litigious crowd murmurs round; and follows
him at evening, when he goes to supper, or gets its matters settled
by the officers of the court, who have to stay there till bed-time.
At supper, though there are but rarely 'mimici sales,' which I cannot
translate--some sort of jesting: but biting and cruel insults
(common at the feasts of the Roman Emperors) are never allowed. His
taste in music is severe. No water-organs, flute-player, lyrist,
cymbal or harp-playing woman is allowed. All he delights in is the
old Teutonic music, whose virtue (says the bishop) soothes the soul
no less than does its sound the ear. When he rises from table the
guards for the night are set, and armed men stand at all the doors,
to watch him through the first hours of sleep.