of the northern hail-storm, soon afterwards invaded the African province. In the year 429, they

crossed the Streights of Gibraltar under the command of Genseric, invited by the mistaken policy of Boniface. At that period the African coast was extremely populous, and the country itself so fruitful that it deserved the name of the common granary of Rome and of mankind. "On a sudden, "the seven provinces, from Tangier to Tripoli, "were overwhelmed by the invasion of the Van"dals. War, .in its fairest form, implies a per"petual violation of humanity and justice; and ̈ "the hostilities of barbarians are inflamed by "the fierce and lawless spirit which incessantly "disturbs their peaceful and domestic society. "The Vandals, where they found resistance, sel"dom gave quarter; and the deaths of their "valiant countrymen were expiated by the ruin "of the cities under whose walls they had fallen. "Careless of the distinctions of age, or sex, or

[ocr errors]

rank, they employed every species of indignity "and torture, to force from the captives a discovery of their hidden wealth. The stern policy of Genseric justified his frequent examples of military execution: he was not always the mas"ter of his own passions, or of those of his followers; and the calamities of war were aggravated "by the licentiousness of the Moors, and the " fanaticism of the Donatists*.'

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

* Hist. of Decline, Vol. vi. p. 12-21.


Thus did the first great storm of hail lay waste the Roman empire. Collecting itself in the North, it burst over Greece and Italy; ravaged Gaul and Spain; and at length spent itself in Africa.

Scarcely was the fury of this tempest exhausted, when another no less destructive began to gather, as we perpetually behold one storm of hail rapidly succeed another. The Hungarian monarch Attila, having united in his own person the empire of Scythia and Germany, soon turned his arms against the declining power of the Romans. In the year 441, he invaded the Eastern empire. "The Illy"rian frontier was covered by a line of castles and "fortresses; and, though the greatest part of them "consisted only of a single tower with a small


garrison, they were commonly sufficient to repel "or to intercept the inroads of any enemy, who was ignorant of the art, and impatient of the



delay, of a regular siege. But these slight ob"stacles were instantly swept away by the inun"dation of the Huns. They destroyed with fire "and sword the populous cities of Sirmium and Singidunum, of Ratiaria, and Marcianopolis, of "Naissus and Sardica; where every circumstance, " in the discipline of the people and the construc"tion of the buildings, had been gradually adapted "to the sole purpose of defence. The whole "breadth of Europe, as it extends above five hun


dred miles from the Euxine to the Hadriatic, "was at once invaded, and occupied, and deso"lated, by the myriads of barbarians whom Attila



"led into the field-The armies of the Eastern empire were vanquished in three successive engagements; and the progress of Attila may be "traced by the fields of battle-From the Helles

[ocr errors]

pont to Thermopyla and the suburbs of Con"stantinople, he ravaged, without resistance and "without mercy, the provinces of Thrace and "Macedonia. Heraclea and Hadrianople might "perhaps escape this dreadful irruption of the "Huns; but words, the most expressive of total

extirpation and erasure, are applied to the cala "mities which they inflicted on seventy cities of "the Eastern empire*."

A pause at length took place in the storm. In the year 446, the Constantinopolitan emperor concluded an ignominious peace with Attila: but, in the year 450, the restless Hun threatened alike both the East and the West. "Mankind," says the historian," awaited his decision with awful "suspense." The storm however now burst over Gaul and Italy. After ravaging the former of these countries with savage barbarity, Attila turned his arms towards the seat of the Western empire. Aquileia made a vigorous but ineffectual resistance; and the succeeding generation could scarcely discover its ruins. The victorious barbarian "pur“sued his march; and, as he passed, the cities of "Altinum, Concordia, and Padua, were reduced "into heaps of stones and ashes. The inland

*Hist. of Decline, Vol. vi. p. 45-53.


"towns, Vicenza, Verona, and Bergamo, were ex"posed to the rapacious cruelty of the Huns;" the rich plains of modern Lombardy were laid waste; and the ferocious Attila boasted, that "the grass "never grew on the spot where his horse had "trod." Rome herself escaped: and, by the sudden death of Attila, his empire fell asunder, and the great northern storm of hail was dissipated*. .

"And the second angel sounded: and as it were "a great mountain burning with fire was cast into "the sea: and the third part of the sea became "blood; and the third part of the creatures, which "were in the sea and had life, died; and the third "part of the ships were destroyed."

The death of Attila took place in the year 453; and, with that event, the invasions of the Roman empire from the North, aptly symbolized by a storm of hail, were brought to a termination. The blast of the second trumpet introduces a new calamity from a directly opposite quarter of the world. What proceeds therefore from the South cannot with any propriety be represented by hail, Accordingly we find, that the contrary emblem of fire is used to describe it. A burning blast causes a great mountain to burst forth into a blaze; and afterwards, heaving it from its base, casts it flaming into the midst of the sea. This imagery is manifestly copied from a parallel passage of Jeremiah, which will afford us the best explanation of what

*Hist. of Decline, Vol. vi. p. 87-135.

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

is intended by St. John. Addressing himself to Babylon, the Lord solemnly declares, “Behold, I "am against thee, O destroying mountain, which destroyest all the earth: and I will stretch out "mine hand upon thee, and roll thee down from

the rocks, and will make thee a burnt mountain*." It appears then, that the destruction of Babylon is symbolized by the tearing up of a large mountain from its base, and by setting it on fire. Now it is well known, that Babylon is the constant apocalyptic type of Rome. Hence, in a prophecy like that of the trumpets which treats of the fall of the Roman empire, the symbol of a mountain, circumstanced precisely similar to the Babylonian mountain, cannot with propriety be interpreted as relative to any power excepting that of Rome alone. In the year 455, Genseric king of the Vandals sailed from Africa, and suddenly landed at the mouth of the Tiber. Rome, once the mistress of the world, was now unable to resist the arms of a barbaric chieftain. During fourteen days and nights it was given up to the licentiousness of the Vandals and the Moors; and was plundered of all that yet remained to it, from former conquerors, of public or private wealth, of sacred or profane treasure. Having thus at once satiated his rapacity and cru elty, Genseric set sail again for Africa, carrying with him immense riches, and an innumerable multitude of captives, among whom were the empress


* Jerem. li. 25.


« ElőzőTovább »