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with none; of men, Polyphemus-like, with a single eye ; of men without eyes, nose, or mouth ; of men who covered their faces with their upper lip when they slept; of others whose ears were large enough to cover their body at any time; of men with eight toes upon every foot ; of men who, to keep up the proper proportion, had no toes upon either ; of hens which wore wool instead of feathers; and birds which could carry an elephant in their talons.
But we let these things pass. Mandeville's book is worthy of a perusal, at least as an index of the age in which he lived, and as such it will live in English literature for centuries to come.
The proper Romance of Travel has departed. The time when the traveler could with safety invent fables to embellish his narrative, or call upon his own imagination to fill up the shadowy, ill-defined forms of tradition, has at length gone by. Progressive Discovery has penetrated every region of the earth, until the knowledge of Geography is as familiar even to the school-boy as the primary rules of Arithmetic.
With those dreamy days was lost a wide field for Poetry; a loss which we are hardly capable of estimating, since we have not been witnesses to the change. As we linger over these pages, we wonder at the credulity in which we cannot participate ; stories at which we shuddered in our childhood have lost their power; yet we love to recur to those nursery tales, and remember how we watched with eyes wide open and mouth agape, lest we should be surprised by Blue Beard, or the Giant of a Cannibal, who sung
“ Fe, fi, fo, fum,
I smell the blood of an Englishman."
Sir John wrote his book in Latin, from which he translated it into both French and English. It met with incredible popularity, and copies of it were multiplied “until,” says one, “they almost equaled in number those of the Scriptures.”
'Two cities are rivals for the honor of his burial-place. It is probable that he died at Leige, where Ortellius says he saw his epitaph in Latin, as well as the accoutrements of his journey, which were preserved as relics. Another writer, Weever, gives still further testimony, but adds that the inhabitants of St. Albans pointed him to the following Epitaph, upon a pillar of their Abbey, near which they suppose his body to have been buried.
“ All ye that passe by, on this Pillar cast eye,
This Epitaph read, if you can;
“ John Mandevil by name, a Knight of great fame,
Born in this honoured Towne.
“ As the Knights in the Temple crosse-legged in Marble,
In Armour with Sword and with Sheeld,
That nothing but Ruines doth yeeld.
In heavenly Canaan;
A CHAPTER IN ROME'S HISTORY.
If any are tired of the noise and confusion, the turmoil and business, the hammering and hewing, of this practical age, we say to them, come, turn with us to the calm, quiet study of ihe past. We have found it a pleasant thing, while standing on the firm ground of the present, to look back on the rolling billows behind us. We have osten traced out the “ track of empire,” through the brightness of prosperity and the storms of political convulsion; and we have experienced a kind of melancholy satisfaction, in the contemplation of kingdoms that have passed away; cities that have mouldered into dust; men, with whose fame the world once rang, but whose tombs are now unvisited, unknown. The ruined wall, the prostrate column, the ivy-covered castle, excite in us, not merely a vain curiosity with regard to their former owners. They suggest to our minds many a train of thought and reflection, from which, if pursued, we can scarcely fail to derive both pleasure and profit. From the sepulchres of Egypt, from the ruined temples of Greece, from the fallen structures that were once the pride and ornament of Rome, there rises a “ still small voice," that will teach us more than all the theories and dogmas of modern speculation.
Come, then, let us transport ourselves to the busy scenes of ages long gone by. On yonder seven hills the Eternal City stands. A little more than three hundred years have passed, since there, on the Palatine, an eminence now covered with the abodes of wealth and magnificence, Romulus, attended by his little band of followers, marked out the site of the future empress of the world. But strong hands have worked since then, and the efforts and energies of many generations have been concentrated on one great object, the national advancement. And successfully too, for already are the broad streets of the city lined with temples, palaces, and halls of justice ; already are those seven hills crowned with the dwellings of an active, brave, and patriotic population ; already are wide tracts of the surrounding territory subdued by the Roman arms and subjected to the Roman sway; already have the proud kings of other nations, with all the insignia of their royalty, been dragged in triumph through the streets of Rome, at the chariot wheels of her citizen soldiers. It is now the pride and the boast of Rome, that her freemen give laws to kings.
Far off in another land is a scene of a different character. In the broad valley of the Rhine dwell a rude people, little versed in the arts of civilization. They live a roving, pastoral, and sometimes predatory life, never remaining long in the same place, but continually wandering in search of pasturage or plunder. They are naturally a daring and impetuous race, strong in person, inured to hardship and privation, fearless in peril, and capable of enduring the severest trials. In their long, difficult, and dangerous expeditions, they experience no lassitude, no fatigue. Even famine discourages them not. They delight in war and the din of battle is music in their ears. Their valor is invincible, unrestrained by Alpine snows, slippery glaciers, and swollen torrents. Their heroism is increased in danger, and though wild, reckless, and undisciplined, their attack is seldom withstood; they often pursue, never fiy. Very different from the abodes of the warlike, yet luxurious Romans, are their simple, lowly dwellings. No marble structures, with long colonnades and galleries, protect them from the inclemency of their northern climate. They care little for exposure. Their rude huts, whose principal furniture consists in the polished cuirass and heavy sabre of the occupant, are constructed beneath the gnarled and knotted and twisted branches of old forest oaks, under whose sacred shade, in time of peace, they quietly feed their flocks and herds, or engage in the wild sports of savage life. Their national councils are held, not in lofty temples consecrated by imposing ceremonies, but in the quiet recesses of the forest, under the broad canopy of heaven; and if the eloquence of their orators is less polished and elegant than that of the Conscript Fathers, it is at least as energetic and impressive, and as often carries conviction to the hearts of its hearers. In short, their whole manner of life, rude and barbarous as it is, demands our respect and admiration ; for it shows us the greatness and heroism of man, in a primeval state, unrestrained by the artificial forms and conventional usages of advanced civilization.
Such was the condition of Rome and of Gaul, immediately before the events took place, to which we propose to confine our attention; nor was it long ere those rude Gauls heard of the genial climate and fruitful soil of the regions beyond the Alps. Reports soon began to reach them of fertile plains and vine-clad hills in the sunny south. Now and then some traveling Italian merchant, with goodly store of southern oil and wine and fruit, would come among them and describe the fair land which produced these delicacies. With the inconstancy which ever characterizes a barbarous people, many began to look for new homes in a new country ; nor did the rugged Alps long separate them from the land upon which the insatiable cravings of their cupidity forced them to seize. Tribe after tribe passed these formidable barriers, extending their incursions southward, till the whole valley of the Po was reduced beneath their sway. Wherever they came, they dispossessed the original inhabitants, seized upon their houses and vineyards, and imposed upon them the yoke of slavery. Their superior
courage, extraordinary stature, and wild aspect, struck fear into the hearts of their opponents, who, with scarcely a show of resistance, yielded to the invaders' force. By degrees they extended their sway till the country was theirs, not only in reality but in name, and the north of Italy was known as Cisalpine Gaul. Not content, however, with the subjugation of the north, they yearly summoned new accessions from their former home, and pressing southward, sought new conquests and new booty. Terror preceded, desolation accompanied their march. The fruitful plains of Etruria were changed into deserts, watered only by streams of blood. The miserable inhabitants flying from their homes, were subjected to the most appalling dangers. Many of them were slaughtered, many enslaved, many perished from starvation and exposure.
At length a horde of these northern barbarians, more numerous than had ever before crossed the Alps, assembled before the walls of Clusium, one of the largest and wealthiest of the Etruscan cities. Consternation pervaded the town. The inhabitants, conscious of their inability to repel the impending danger, began to look around them for foreign aid. Rome had never refused to assist ber suppliants, and to Rome an embassy was immediately sent, imploring the assistance, or, at least, the mediation of the Roman people. With their usual magnanimity, the Fathers at once dispatched messengers to the camp of the Gauls. They complain of the injustice of their invasion ; declare that war ought never to be engaged in without strong provocation; and desire them to substantiate their charges against the people of Clusium. The very name of Roman had hitherto been a terror to other nations ; but the haughty chief of the Gauls was litile daunted by their presence or their threats. He replied, that the rights of the valiant lay in their swords ; that the Romans could institute no other claim to their own conquests; and that the Gauls were prepared to maintain their rights, if need be, even against the power of hostile Rome. The patrician ambassadors, indignant at this unexpected defiance, retire to Clusium, and there, forgetful of their sacred character, join in a sally against the besiegers. This flagrant breach of right inflamed the deep resentment of the barbarians. Selecting the fiercest of their warriors, they sent them straight to Rome, demanding the delivery of the false ambassadors. The senators acknowledge the justice of this claim, but pride forbids them to act in accordance with their sense of right. The messengers return with their demands unsatisfied. Without the least hesitation, the barbarian chief raises the siege of Clusium, draws up his army in line of march, and without an hour's delay advances on the road to Rome. He meets with little resistance from the countries through which he passes. The natives, alarmed at the vast numbers and warlike appearance of the invaders, retire as they approach. Nor do the barbarians stay to devastate the land. Their violence is directed solely against Rome ; and pressing forward with rapid marches, they hasten on with one object constantly in view-vengeance on the Roman people. An invading army is ever a fearful sight. “ The pomp and circumstance of glorious war," though sublime, is still awful; for in the glittering helmet, and flashing sword, and polished mail of the warrior, we see reflected the wild frenzy of the battle-field, its slaughter and carnage, its inhuman ferocity, its blood and gore. Hence is it, that those warrior Gauls, in their rapid inroads, strike such terror into the hearts of all before them ; nor is it strange, that the little hamlets wbich lie along their route, are deserted as they approach.
But the Romans meanwhile have not been idle. The troops of their allies and their own veteran legions go forth to meet the foe. Though inferior in numbers, they are better disciplined and possess more skill in the art of war. Besides, they have a country. “ Pro aris et focis," is their war-cry. Inspired with the remembrance of their homes, and the anxious hearts which there await them, they go forth to battle, resolute and determined in spirit, fully aware that the fate of their country depends upon their swords. Both armies are confident of victory. Both alike disdain to survive defeat. There is no light skirmishing. Amid the clouds of dust which float above their heads, with wild and discordant cries resounding on every side, they close in fight. The onset of the Gauls is like the descent of a devastating torrent. The steady and well disciplined ranks of the Romans are scattered before it like chaff before the wind. The little stream which waters the battle-field is red with blood. Confusion and dismay seize on the Roman lines. They are too bewildered to fly. A few escape to Rome with the fearful tidings, but the greater part of the army is completely destroyed.
It would be difficult to depict the scene of confusion, witnessed in Rome, when the news of this terrible defeat reached the city. The few remaining inhabitants who were able to bear arms, hastily collected such provisions as they could find, and retired to defend the capitol. The rest, a miserable band of feeble old men, women, and children, together with the Vestal Virgins, sorrowfully left their homes, and sought refuge and shelter in the neighboring towns. A few, however, of the aged priests and senators, unable to survive the downfall of that city to whose glory and advancement their lives had been consecrated, remained upon the fatal spot, and calmly awaited the expected destruction. And soon it came. The Gauls, after pillaging the Roman camp and sharing the booty among themselves, appeared on the third day before the walls of Rome. To their surprise they find no preparations made to resist their entrance. The very gates are thrown open to receive them. In expectation of an ambuscade, they cautiously enter the city, but not a human being is found to obstruct their march. The streets which so lately resounded with the noise of business and the hum of activity, are silent and deserted. All is still as death. The city is apparently uninhabited, -quiet, as if some relentless plague had swept from the earth its whole population. In silent wonder and amazement the barbarians march on. They enter the forum. There, on ivory thrones, sit those aged patriots, arrayed in their robes of state. They are all venerable men. Their hairs have grown gray in the service of their country, and now their last days are embittered by the sight of enemies in possession of the city, to save which their counsels