« FöregåendeFortsätt »
a terrible bail-storm, accompanied with thunder and lightning, is to the “ trees and the fields ;” which a burning mountain, thrown into the sea, would be to the waters ; and which a blazing meteor that should fall upon the rivers and fountains of waters, and embitter them, would be to a country; while the effects of these successive ravages on the government would resemble a great though not a total eclipse of the heavenly bodies.
APPENDIX TO DISCOURSE IX.
A SKETCH OF THE HISTORY
FIRST FOUR TRUMPETS.
In the Northern and North-eastern parts of Europe, bordering on the Baltic and the Euxine Seas, there were many barbarous nations which were never subdued by the Roman arms : such were the Saxons, the Visigoths, the Ostrogoths, the Vandals, the Burgundians, the Huns, the Alans, &c. and who were often associated in their enterprises. About the year 376, during the reign of the Eastern Emperor Valens, the Goths having been driven from their own country by the Huns and Alans a body of not less than 200,000 of them, besides women and children, under Alavi. vus and Fritigern, two of their chiefs, obtained permission to settle in Thrace, a province of the Roman empire. To the imprudence of admitting such a body of hostile emigrants, were added several instances of injurious treatment after their arrival. These first produced resistance, and that a battle, in which the Romans were defeated, and the emperor lost his life. By the prudent and ener. getic measures of Theodosius the great, who succeeded Valens, the Gothic emigrants were so far subjugated, as to be rendered serviceable to the empire. But after his death, the jealousies between Rufinus and Stilicho, ministers of state at Constantinople and Rome, under Arcadius and Honorius the emperors, afforded them opportunity to renew their hostilities. Vom. VI.
Alaric, an Arian Christian, the successor of Fritigern, had been in the Roman service for several years, having commanded a body of his countrymen in the wars of Theodosius : but thinking himself not sufficiently rewarded by that prince, and perceiving as he thought a fair opportunity, he was disposed to carve for bimself. To this he is said to have been encouraged by Rufinus, principal ruler under Arcadius at Constantinople, whose duty it was to oppose him. Marching his army into Macedonia and Thessaly, be laid waste the country as he went. . Through the treachery of Rufinus the straits of Thermopylae were left unguarded, and so opened a free passage for him into Greece ; where the villages were plundered and burnt, the males who were capable of bearing arms massacred, and the females led captive. His successes obtained for him a command in the eastern empire, which having improved to the strengthening of his own army, he resolved to invade that of the west. Having laid waste Epirus and Pannonia, he in 402 entered Italy. Italy bowever was for this time delivered from his depredations. The Romans under Stilicho, after twice defeating him, suffered him to quit the country, with the remnant of his army.
In 406 another vast army, composed of Goths, Huns, Vandals, Suevi, Burgundians, Alani, &c. under Radagaisus, a heathen, attempted the invasion of Italy. The number of fighting men is said to have been 200,000, besides slaves, women, and children, who are reckoned to have amounted to as many more. But neither were they successful. Radagaisus was defeated and slain, and a great part of his army either perished, or-were sold for slaves.
But though the capital of the western_empire was by these events once more saved, yet its provinces were reduced to desolation. Gaul was at this time invaded by the Vandals, the Suevi, the Alani, and the Burgundians, who, with the remains of Radagaisus's army, destroyed all before them. “On the last day of the year, (says Gibbon,) when the waters of the Rhine were 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 tha fatal moment levelled with the ground. The banks of the Rhine were crowned, like those of the Tyber, with elegant bouses, and well cultivated farms. This scene of peace and plenty was suddeply changed into a desert ; and the prospect of the smoaking 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 inhumaply massa. cred in the church. Worms perished after a long and obstinate siege ; Strasburgh, Spires, Rheims, Tournay, Arras, and Amiens, experienced the cruel oppression of the German yoke ; and the consuming fames of war spread from the banks of the Rhine over the seventeen provinces of Gaul. That rich and extensive country, as far as the ocean, the Alps, and the Pyrennees, 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."*
Thus far events appear to answer to the “ hail and fire mingled with blood” under the first trumpet, which, as they are said to be on the earth, correspond with the calamities which in those times were brought upon the continental parts of the empire.
Alaric, the king of the Visigoths, had made peace with the emperor Honorius, and been made Master General of the Roman armies in Illyricum. In the invasion of Radagaisus he took no part but was attentive to the recruiting of his own army. In 408 he made large demands on the Roman Government, accompanied with intimations of what would follow if they were not complied with, Stilicho persuaded the senate to comply with them, and four thousand pounds of gold were promised him under the name of a subsidy. But before the promise was fulfilled, Stilicho was disgraced and slain. Of the measures of his successors, Alaric is said to have bad just cause of complaint. The result was, he determined
* Decline of Roman Empire, Chap. XXX: