« ForrigeFortsett »
wounds, was discovered under a heap of the slain : his subjects bewailed the death of their king and father; but their tears were mingled with songs and acclamations, and his funeral rites were performed in the face of a vanquished enemy. The Goths, clashing their arms, elevated on a buckler his eldest son Torismond, to whom they justly ascribed the glory of their success; and the new king accepted the obligation of revenge, as a sacred portion of his paternal inheritance. Yet the Goths themselves were astonished by the fierce and undaunted aspect of their formidable antagonist; and their historian has compared Attila to a lion encompassed in his den, and threatening his hunters with redoubled fury. The kings and nations, who might have deserted his standard in the hour of distress, were made sensible, that the displeasure of their monarch was the most imminent and inevitable danger. All his instruments of martial music incessantly sounded a loud and animating strain of defiance; and the foremost troops, who advanced to the assault, were checked or destroyed by showers of arrows from every side of the intrenchments. It was determined, in a general council of war, to besiege the king of the Huns in his camp, to intercept his provisions, and to reduce him to the alternative of a disgraceful treaty, or an unequal combat. But the impatience of the barbarians soon disdained these cautious and dilatory measures; and the mature policy of Ætius was apprehensive, that, after the extirpation of the Huns, the republic would be oppressed by the pride and power of the Gothic nation. The patrician exerted the superior ascendant of authority and reason to calm the passions, which the son of Theodoric considered as a duty; represented, with seeming affection and real truth, the dangers of absence and delay; and persuaded Torismond to disappoint, by his speedy return, the ambitious designs of his brothers, who might occupy the throne and treasures of Thoulouse.* After the departure of the Goths, and the separation of the allied
* Jornandes de Rebus Geticis, c. 41, p. 671. The policy of Ætius, and the behaviour of Torismond, are extremely natural; and the patrician, according to Gregory of Tours, (1. 2, c. 7, p. 163,) dismissed the prince of the Franks, by suggesting to him a similar apprehension. The false Idatius ridiculously pretends, that Ætius paid a clandestine nocturnal visit to the kings of the Huns and of the Visigoths ; from each of whom he obtained a bribe of ten thousand pieces of gold, as
army, Attila was surprised at the vast silence that reigned over the plains of Châlons: the suspicion of some hostile stratagem detained him several days within the circle of his wagons; and his retreat beyond the Rhine confessed the last victory which was achieved in the name of the Western empire. Meroveus and his Franks, observing a prudent distance, and magnifying the opinion of their strength by the numerous fires which they kindled every night, continued to follow the rear of the Huns, till they reached the confines of Thuringia. The Thuringians served in the army of Attila: they traversed, both in their march and in their return, the territories of the Franks; and it was perhaps in this war that they exercised the cruelties which, about fourscore years afterwards, were revenged by the son of Clovis. They massacred their hostages, as well as their captives : two hundred young maidens were tortured with exquisite and unrelenting rage; their bodies were torn asunder by wild horses, or their bones were crushed under the weight of rolling wagons; and their unburied limbs were abandoned on the public roads as a prey to dogs and vultures. Such were those savage ancestors, whose imaginary virtues have sometimes excited the praise and envy of civilized ages. *
the price of an undisturbed retreat.
* These cruelties, which are passionately deplored by Theodoric, the son of Clovis, (Gre. gory of Tours, 1.3, c. 10, p. 190,) suit the time and circumstances of the invasion of Attila. His residence in Thuringia was long attested by popular tradition; and he is supposed to have assembled a couroultai, or diet, in the territory of Eisenach. See Mascou, 9. 30, who settles with nice accuracy the extent of ancient Thuringia, and derives its name from the Gothic tribe of the Thervingi. [We are justified in disbelieving the barbarities here related, till we are convinced by unquestionable evidence. The only authority, on which this grave imputation rests, is that of Gregory of Tours, who did not write till more than a hundred years after Attila's invasion of Gaul, and had no records before him, but merely repeated a tradition, said to have been recited by the son of Clovis, before Gregory himself was born. For the little reliance there is to be placed on his records of atrocities, see what is said of him by Mr. Hallam (vol. iii, p. 356); and for his credulity, see his own account of the miracles of Martin, Andrew, and others. The writer of his life in the Biographie Universelle, though proud that his country possessed such a history of its first kings, admits that it is characterized by “ignorance without simplicity, and credulity without imagination." Having no better testimony, we are called upon to reject a tale of horrors, repugnant alike to nature, to * Machinis constructis, omnibusque tormentorum generibus adhibitis. Jornandes, c. 42, p. 673. In the thirteenth century, the Moguls battered the cities of China with large engines constructed by the Mahometans or Christians in their
Neither the spirit, nor the forces, nor the reputation of Attila were impaired by the failure of the Gallic expedition. In the ensuing spring, he repeated his demand of the princess Honoria and her patrimonial treasures. The demand was again rejected, or eluded : and the indignant lover immediately took the field, passed the Alps, invaded Italy, and besieged Aquileia with an innumerable host of barbarians. Those barbarians were unskilled in the methods of conducting a regular siege, which, even among the ancients, required some knowledge, or at least some practice, of the mechanic arts. But the labour of many thousand provincials and captives, whose lives were sacrificed without pity, might execute the most painful and dangerous work. The skill of the Roman artists might be corrupted to the destruction of their country. The walls of Aquileia were assaulted by a formidable train of battering-rams, moveable turrets, and engines, that threw stones, darts, and fire:* and the monarch of the Huns employed the forcible impulse of hope, fear, emulation, and interest to subvert the only barrier which delayed the conquest of Italy. Aquileia was at that period one of the richest, the most populous, and the strongest of the maritime cities of the Hadriatic coast. The Gothic auxiliaries, who appear to have served under their native princes Alaric and Antala, communicated their intrepid spirit; and the citizens still remembered the glorious and successful resistance which their ancestors had opposed to a fierce, inexorable barbarian who disgraced the majesty of the Roman purple. Three months were consumed without effect in the siege of Aqui. leia ; till the want of provisions, and the clamours of his army, compelled Attila to relinquish the enterprise, and reluctantly to issue his orders, that the troops should strike their tents the next morning, and begin their retreat. But, as he rode round the walls, pensive, angry, and disappointed, reason, and to humanity.-ED.]
service, which threw stones from one hundred and fifty to three hunodred pounds weight. In the defence of their country, the Chinese
used gunpowder, and even bombs, above a hundred years before they were known in Europe; yet even those celestial or infernal arms were insufficient to protect a pusillanimous nation. See Gaubil, Hist. dos
he observed a stork, preparing to leave her nest in one of the towers, and to fly with her infant family towards the country. He seized, with the ready penetration of a statesman, this trifling incident which chance had offered to superstition, and exclaimed, in a loud and cheerful tone, that such a domestic bird, so constantly attached to human2 society, would never have abandoned her ancient seats unless these towers had been devoted to impending ruin and solitude.* The favourable omen inspired an assurance of victory; the siege was renewed and prosecuted with fresh vigour; a large breach was made in the part of the wall from whence the stork had taken her flight; the Huns mounted to the assault with irresistible fury; and the succeeding generation could scarcely discover the ruins of Aquileia.f After this dreadful chastisement, Attila pursued his march; and, as he passed, the cities of Altinum, Concordia, and Padua were reduced into heaps of stones and ashes. The inland towns, Vicenza, Verona, and Bergamo were exposed to the rapacious cruelty of the Huns. Milan and Pavia submitted without resistance to the loss of their wealth; and applauded the unusual clemency, which preserved from the flames the public as well as private buildings, and spared the lives of the captive multitude. The popular traditions of Comum, Turin, or Modena may justly be suspected; yet they concur with more authentic evidence to prove, that Attila spread his ravages over the rich plains of inodern Lombardy, which are divided by the Po, and bounded by the Alps and Apennine. I When he took possession of the royal palace of Milan, he was surprised and Mongous, p. 70, 71. 155. 157, &c.
* The same story is told by Jornandes, and by Procopius (de Bell. Vandal. 1. 1, c. 4, p. 187, 188), nor is it easy to decide which is the original. But the Greek historian is guilty of an inexcusable mistake, in placing the siege of Aquileia after the death of Ætius. * Jornandes, about a hundred years afterwards, affirms, that Aquileia was so completely ruined, ita ut vix ejus vestigia, ut appareant, reliquerint. See Jornandes de Reb. Geticis, c. 42, p. 673. Paul. Diacon. 1. 2, c. 14, p. 785. Liutprand. Hist. 1. 3, c. 2. The name of Aquileia was sometimes applied to Forum Julii (Cividad del Friuli), the more recent capital of the Venetian province.
In describing this war of Attila, a war so famous, but so imperfectly known, I have taken for my guides two learned Italians, who considered the subject with some peculiar advantages; Sigonius, de Imperio Occidentali, l. 13, in his works, tom.i, p. 495-502, and Muratori, Annali d'Italia, tom. iv, p. 229—236, 8vo.
offended at the sight of a picture, which represented the Cæsars seated on their throne, and the princes of Scythia prostrate at their feet. The revenge, which Attila inflicted on this monument of Roman vanity, was harmless and ingenious. He commanded a painter to reverse the figures and the attitudes; and the emperors were delineated, on the same canvas, approaching in a suppliant posture to empty their bags of tributary gold before the throne of the Scythian monarch.* The spectators must have confessed the truth and propriety of the alteration; and were, perhaps, tempted to apply, on this singular occasion, the well-known fable of the dispute between the lion and the man.t
It is a saying worthy of the ferocious pride of Attila, that the grass never grew on the spot where his horse had trod. Yet the savage destroyer undesignedly laid the foundation of a republic, which revived, in the feudal state of Europe, the art and spirit of commercial industry. The celebrated name of Venice, or Venetia, I was formerly diffused over a large and fertile province of Italy, from the confines of Pannonia to the river Addua, and from the Po to the Rhætian and Julian Alps. Before the irruption of the barbarians, fifty Venetian cities flourished in peace and prosperity : Aquileia was placed in the most conspicuous station : but edition.
* This anecdote may be found under two different articles (μεδιόλανoν and κόρυκος) of the miscellaneous compilation of Suidas.
+ Leo respondit, humanâ hoc pictum manů:
Videres hominem dejectum, si pingere
Appendix in Phædrum. Fab. 25. The lion in Phædrus very foolishly appeals from pictures to the amphitheatre : and I am glad to observe, that the native taste of La Fontaine (l. 3, fable 10) has omitted this most lame and impotent conclusion.
I Paul the Deacon (de Gestis Langobard. I. 2, c. 14, p. 784) describes the provinces of Italy about the end of the eighth century. Venetia non solum in paucis insulis quas nunc Venetias dicimus, constat; sed ejus terminus a Pannoniæ finibus usque Adduam fluvium protelatur. The history of that province till the age of Charlemagne forms the first and most interesting part of the Verona Illustrata, (p. 1-388,) in which the Marquis Scipio Maffei has shewn himself equally capable of enlarged views and minute disquisitions. [The Veneti of Italy were a Celtic people, inhabiting the districts where the present Po, Adige, and Brenta, flowed through many chan. nels into the Hadriatic. În their own language they were Avainach, river or water-landers, a name, to which the Latins, elsewhere as well