It was shown abundantly, on many occasions in the course of Caesar's life, that he had no faith in omens. There are equally numerous instances to show that he was always ready to avail himself of the popular belief in them, to awaken his soldiers' ardor or to allay their fears. Whether, therefore, in respect to this story of the shepherd trumpeter it was an incident that really and accidently occurred, or whether Caesar planned and arranged it himself, with reference to its effect, or whether, which is, perhaps, after all, the most probable supposition, the tale was only an embellishment invented out of something or nothing by the story-tellers of those days to give additional dramatic interest to the narrative of the crossing of the Rubicon, it must be left for each reader to decide.
As soon as the bridge was crossed, Caesar called an assembly of his troops, and, with signs of great excitement and agitation, made an address to them on the magnitude of the crisis through which they were passing. He showed them how entirely he was in their power; he urged them, by the most eloquent appeals, to stand by him, faithful and true, promising them the most ample rewards when he should have attained the object at which he aimed. The soldiers responded to this appeal with promises of the most unwavering fidelity.
The first town on the Roman side of the Rubicon was Ariminum.
Caesar advanced to this town. The authorities opened its gates to him--very willing, as it appeared, to receive him as their commander.
Caesar's force was yet quite small, as he had been accompanied by only a single legion in crossing the river. He had, however, sent orders for the other legions, which had been left in Gaul, to join him without any delay, though any reinforcement of his troops seemed hardly necessary, as he found no indications of opposition to his progress. He gave his soldiers the strictest injunctions to do no injury to any property, public or private, as they advanced, and not to assume, in any respect, a hostile attitude toward the people of the country. The inhabitants, therefore, welcomed him wherever he came, and all the cities and towns followed the example of Ariminum, surrendering, in fact, faster than he could take possession of them.
In the confusion of the debates and votes in the Senate at Rome before Caesar crossed the Rubicon, one decree had been passed deposing him from his command of the army and appointing a successor. The name of the general thus appointed was Domitius. The only real opposition which Caesar encountered in his progress toward Rome was from him. Domitius had crossed the Apennines at the head of an army on his way northward to supersede Caesar in his command, and had reached the town of Corfinium, which was perhaps one third of the way between Rome and the Rubicon. Caesar advanced upon him here and shut him in.
After a brief siege the city was taken, and Domitius and his army were made prisoners. Everybody gave them up for lost, expecting that Caesar would wreak terrible vengeance upon them. Instead of this, he received the troops at once into his own service and let Domitius go free.
In the meantime, the tidings of Caesar's having passed the Rubicon, and of the triumphant success which he was meeting with at the commencement of his march toward Rome, reached the capital, and added greatly to the prevailing consternation. The reports of the magnitude of his force and of the rapidity of his progress were greatly exaggerated. The party of Pompey and the Senate had done everything to spread among the people the terror of Caesar's name in order to arouse them to efforts for opposing his designs; and now, when he had broken through the barriers which had been intended to restrain him and was advancing toward the city in an unchecked and triumphant career, they were overwhelmed with dismay. Pompey began to be terrified at the danger which was impending. The Senate held meetings without the city--councils of war, as it were, in which they looked to Pompey in vain for protection from the danger which he had brought upon them. He had said that he could raise an army sufficient to cope with Caesar at any time by stamping with his foot. They told him they thought now that it was high time for him to stamp.
In fact, Pompey found the current setting everywhere strongly against him. Some recommended that commissioners should be sent to Caesar to make proposals for peace. The leading men, however, knowing that any peace made with him under such circumstances would be their own ruin, resisted and defeated the proposal. Cato abruptly left the city and proceeded to Sicily, which had been assigned him as his province. Others fled in other directions. Pompey himself, uncertain what to do, and not daring to remain, called upon all his partisans to join him, and set off at night, suddenly, and with very little preparation and small supplies, to retreat across the country toward the shores of the Adriatic Sea. His destination was Brundusium, the usual port of embarkation for Macedon and Greece.
Caesar was all this time gradually advancing toward Rome. His soldiers were full of enthusiasm in his cause. As his connection with the government at home was sundered the moment he crossed the Rubicon, all supplies of money and of provisions were cut off in that quarter until he should arrive at the capital and take possession of it.
The soldiers voted, however, that they would serve him without pay.
The officers, too, assembled together and tendered him the aid of their contributions. He had always observed a very generous policy in his dealings with them, and he was now greatly gratified at receiving their requital of it.
The further he advanced, too, the more he found the people of the country through which he passed disposed to espouse his cause. They were struck with his generosity in releasing Domitius. It is true that it was a very sagacious policy that prompted him to release him. But, then, it was generosity too. In fact, there must be something of a generous spirit in the soul to enable a man even to see the policy of generous actions.
Among the letters of Caesar that remain to the present day, there is one written about this time to one of his friends, in which he speaks of this subject. "I am glad," says he, "that you approve of my conduct at Corfinium. I am satisfied that such a course is the best one for us to pursue, as by so doing we shall gain the good will of all parties, and thus secure a permanent victory. Most conquerors have incurred the hatred of mankind by their cruelties, and have all, in consequence of the enmity they have thus awakened, been prevented from long enjoying their power. Sylla was an exception; but his example of successful cruelty I have no disposition to imitate. I will conquer after a new fashion, and fortify myself in the possession of the power I acquire by generosity and mercy."
Domitius had the ingratitude, after this release, to take up arms again, and wage a new war against Caesar. When Caesar heard of it he said it was all right. "I will act out the principles of my nature,"
said he, "and he may act out his."
Another instance of Caesar's generosity occurred which is even more remarkable than this. It seems that among the officers of his army there were some whom he had appointed at the recommendation of Pompey, at the time when he and Pompey were friends. These men would, of course, feel under obligations of gratitude to Pompey as they owed their military rank to his friendly interposition in their behalf. As soon as the war broke out Caesar gave them all his free permission to go over to Pompey's side if they chose to do so.
Caesar acted thus very liberally in all respects. He surpassed Pompey very much in the spirit of generosity and mercy with which he entered upon the great contest before them. Pompey ordered every citizen to join his standard, declaring that he should consider all neutrals as his enemies. Caesar, on the other hand, gave free permission to every one to decline, if he chose, taking any part in the contest, saying that he should consider all who did not act against him as his friends. In the political contests of our day it is to be observed that the combatants are much more prone to imitate the bigotry of Pompey than the generosity of Caesar, condemning, as they often do, those who choose to stand aloof from electioneering struggles, more than they do their most determined opponents and enemies.
When, at length, Caesar arrived at Brundusium, he found that Pompey had sent a part of his army across the Adriatic into Greece and was waiting for the transports to return that he might go over himself with the remainder. In the meantime, he had fortified himself strongly in the city. Caesar immediately laid siege to the place, and he commenced some works to block up the mouth of the harbor. He built piers on each side, extending out as far into the sea as the depth of the water would allow them to be built. He then constructed a series of rafts, which he anchored on the deep water, in a line extending from one pier to the other. He built towers upon these rafts, and garrisoned them with soldiers, in hopes by this means to prevent all egress from the fort. He thought that, when this work was completed, Pompey would be entirely shut in, beyond all possibility of escape.
The transports, however, returned before the work was completed.
Its progress was, of course, slow, as the constructions were the scene of a continued conflict; for Pompey sent out rafts and galleys against them every day, and the workmen had thus to build in the midst of continual interruptions, sometimes from showers of darts, arrows, and javelins, sometimes from the conflagrations of fireships, and sometimes from the terrible concussions of great vessels of war, impelled with prodigious force against them. The transports returned, therefore, before the defences were complete, and contrived to get into the harbor. Pompey immediately formed his plan for embarking the remainder of his army.
He filled the streets of the city with barricades and pitfalls excepting two streets which led to the place of embarkation. The object of these obstructions was to embarrass Caesar's progress through the city in case he should force an entrance while his men were getting on board the ships. He then, in order to divert Caesar's attention from his design, doubled the guards stationed upon the walls on the evening of his intended embarkation, and ordered them to make vigorous attacks upon all Caesar's forces outside. Then, when the darkness came on, he marched his troops through the two streets which had been left open to the landing-place, and got them as fast as possible on board the transports. Some of the people of the town contrived to make known to Caesar's army what was going on, by means of signals from the walls; the army immediately brought scaling ladders in great numbers, and, mounting the walls with great ardor and impetuosity, they drove all before them, and soon broke open the gates and got possession of the city. But the barricades and pitfalls, together with the darkness, so embarrassed their movements that Pompey succeeded in completing his embarkation and sailing away.
Caesar had no ships in which to follow. He returned to Rome. He met, of course, with no opposition. He re-established the government there, organized the Senate anew, and obtained supplies of corn from the public granaries and of money from the city treasury in the capital. In going to the Capitoline Hill after this treasure, he found the officer who had charge of the money stationed there to defend it. He told Caesar that it was contrary to law for him to enter. Caesar said that, for men with swords in their hands, there was no law. The officer still refused to admit him. Caesar then told him to open the doors or he would kill him on the spot. "And you must understand," he added, "that it will be easier for me to do it than it has been to say it." The officer resisted no longer, and Caesar went in.
After this, Caesar spent some time in vigorous campaigns in Italy, Spain, Sicily, and Gaul, wherever there was manifested any opposition to his sway. When this work was accomplished, and all these countries were completely subjected to his dominion, he began to turn his thoughts to the plan of pursuing Pompey across the Adriatic Sea.
FEARLESS SAINT GENEVIEVE, PATRON SAINT OF PARIS
By Charlotte M. Yonge
Four hundred years of the Roman dominion had entirely tamed the once wild and independent Gauls. Everywhere, except in the moorlands of Brittany, they had become as much like Romans themselves as they could accomplish; they had Latin names, spoke the Latin tongue, all their personages of higher rank were enrolled as Roman citizens, their chief cities were colonies where the laws were administered by magistrates in the Roman fashion, and the houses, dress, and amusements were the same as those of Italy. The greater part of the towns had been converted to Christianity, though some paganism still lurked in the more remote villages and mountainous districts.
It was upon these civilized Gauls that the terrible attacks came from the wild nations who poured out of the center and east of Europe. The Franks came over the Rhine and its dependent rivers, and made furious attacks upon the peaceful plains, where the Gauls had long lived in security, and reports were everywhere heard of villages harried by wild horsemen, with short double-headed battle-axes, and a horrible short pike covered with iron and with several large hooks, like a gigantic artificial minnow, and like it fastened to a long rope, so that the prey which it had grappled might be pulled up to the owner. Walled cities usually stopped them, but every farm or villa outside was stripped of its valuables, set on fire, the cattle driven off, and the more healthy inhabitants seized for slaves.
It was during this state of things that a girl was born to a wealthy peasant at the village now called Nanterre, about two miles from Lutetia, which was already a prosperous city, though not as yet so entirely the capital as it was destined to become under the name of Paris. She was christened by an old Gallic name, probably Gwenfrewi, or White Stream, in Latin Genovefa, but she is best known by the late French form of Genevieve. When she was about seven years old, two celebrated bishops passed through the village, Germanus, of Auxerre, and Lupus, of Troyes, who had been invited to Britain to dispute the false doctrines of Pelagius. All the inhabitants flocked into the church to see them, pray with them, and receive their blessing; and here the sweet childish devotion of Genevieve so struck Germanus, that he called her to him, talked to her, made her sit beside him at the feast, gave her his special blessing, and presented her with a copper medal with a cross engraven upon it. From that time the little maiden always deemed herself especially consecrated to the service of Heaven, but she still remained at home, daily keeping her father's sheep, and spinning their wool as she sat under the trees watching them, but always with her heart full of prayer.
After this St. Germanus proceeded to Britain, and there encouraged his converts to meet the heathen Picts at Maes Garmon, in Flintshire, where the exulting shout of the white-robed catechumens turned to flight the wild superstitious savages of the north,--and the Hallelujah victory was gained without a drop of bloodshed. He never lost sight of Genevieve, the little maid whom he had so early distinguished for her piety.
After she lost her parents she went to live with her godmother, and continued the same simple habits, leading a life of sincere devotion and strict self-denial, constant prayer and much charity to her poorer neighbors.
In the year 451 the whole of Gaul was in the most dreadful state of terror at the advance of Attila, the savage chief of the Huns, who came from the banks of the Danube with a host of savages of hideous features, scarred and disfigured to render them more frightful. The old enemies, the Goths and the Franks, seemed like friends compared with these formidable beings, whose cruelties were said to be intolerable, and of whom every exaggerated story was told that could add to the horrors of the miserable people who lay in their path. Tidings came that this "Scourge of God," as Attila called himself, had passed the Rhine, destroyed Tongres and Metz, and was in full march for Paris. The whole country was in the utmost terror. Every one seized their most valuable possessions, and would have fled; but Genevieve placed herself on the only bridge across the Seine, and argued with them, assuring them, in a strain that was afterwards thought of as prophetic, that, if they would pray, repent, and defend instead of abandoning their homes, God would protect them. They were at first almost ready to stone her for thus withstanding their panic, but just then a priest arrived from Auxerre, with a present for Genevieve from St. Germanus, and they were thus reminded of the high estimation in which he held her; they became ashamed of their violence, and she led them back to pray and to arm themselves. In a few days they heard that Attila had paused to besiege Orleans, and that Aetius, the Roman general, hurrying from Italy, had united his troops with those of the Goths and Franks, and given Attila so terrible a defeat at Chalons that the Huns were fairly driven out of Gaul. And here it must be mentioned that when in the next year, 452, Attila with his murderous host, came down into Italy, and after horrible devastation of all the northern provinces, came to the gates of Rome, no one dared to meet him but one venerable bishop, Leo, the Pope, who, when his flock were in transports of despair, went forth only accompanied by one magistrate to meet the invader, and endeavored to turn his wrath aside. The savage Huns were struck with awe by the fearless majesty of the unarmed old man. They conducted him safely to Attila, who listened to him with respect, and promised not to lead his people into Rome, provided a tribute should be paid to him. He then retreated, and, to the joy of all Europe, died on his way back to his native dominions.
But with the Huns the danger and suffering of Europe did not end.
The happy state described in the Prophets as "dwelling safely, with none to make them afraid," was utterly unknown in Europe throughout the long break-up of the Roman Empire; and in a few more years the Franks were overrunning the banks of the Seine, and actually venturing to lay siege to the Roman walls of Paris itself. The fortifications were strong enough, but hunger began to do the work of the besiegers, and the garrison, unwarlike and untrained, began to despair. But Genevieve's courage and trust never failed; and finding no warriors willing to run the risk of going beyond the walls to obtain food for the women and children who were perishing around them, this brave shepherdess embarked alone in a little boat, and guiding it down the stream, landed beyond the Frankish camp, and repairing to the different Gallic cities, she implored them to send succor to their famished brethren. She obtained complete success. Probably the Franks had no means of obstructing the passage of the river, so that a convoy of boats could easily penetrate into the town: at any rate they looked upon Genevieve as something sacred and inspired whom they durst not touch; probably as one of the battle-maids in whom their own myths taught them to believe.
One account indeed says that, instead of going alone to obtain help, Genevieve placed herself at the head of a forage party, and that the mere sight of her inspired bearing caused them to be allowed to enter and return in safety; but the boat version seems the more probable, since a single boat on the broad river would more easily elude the enemy than a troop of Gauls pass through their army.
But a city where all the valor resided in one woman could not long hold out, and in another inroad, when Genevieve was absent, Paris was actually seized by the Franks. Their leader, Hilperik, was absolutely afraid of what the mysteriously brave maiden might do to him, and commanded the gates of the city to be carefully guarded lest she should enter; but Genevieve learnt that some of the chief citizens were imprisoned, and that Hilperik intended their death, and nothing could withhold her from making an effort in their behalf. The Franks had made up their minds to settle and not to destroy. They were not burning and slaying indiscriminately, but while despising the Romans, as they called the Gauls, for their cowardice, they were in awe of their superior civilization and knowledge of arts. The country people had free access to the city, and Genevieve in her homely gown and veil passed by Hilperik's guards without being suspected of being more than any ordinary Gaulish village-maid; and thus she fearlessly made her way, even to the old Roman halls, where the long-haired Hilperik was holding his wild carousal. Would that we knew more of that interview--one of the most striking that ever took place!
We can only picture to ourselves the Roman tesselated pavement bestrewn with wine, bones, and fragments of the barbarous revelry.
There were, untamed Franks, their sun-burnt hair tied up in a knot at the top of their heads, and falling down like a horse's tail, their faces close-shaven, except two huge mustaches, and dressed in tight leather garments, with swords at their wide belts. Some slept, some feasted, some greased their long locks, some shouted out their favorite war-songs around the table, which was covered with the spoils of churches, and at their head sat the wild, long-haired chieftain, who was a few years later driven away by his own followers for his excesses,--the whole scene was all that was abhorrent to a pure, devout, and faithful nature, most full of terror to a woman. Yet there, in her strength, stood the peasant maiden, her heart full of trust and pity, her looks full of the power that is given by fearlessness of them that can kill the body. What she said we do not know--we only know that the barbarous Hilperik was overawed; he trembled before the expostulations of the brave woman, and granted all she asked--the safety of his prisoners, and mercy to the terrified inhabitants. No wonder that the people of Paris have ever since looked back to Genevieve as their protectress, and that in after-ages she has grown to be the patron saint of the city.
She lived to see the son of Hilperik, Chlodwig, or, as he was more commonly called, Clovis, marry a Christian wife, Clotilda, and after a time become a Christian. She saw the foundation of the Cathedral of Notre Dame, and of the two famous churches of St. Denys and of St. Martin of Tours, and gave her full share to the first efforts for bringing the rude and bloodthirsty conquerors to some knowledge of Christian faith, mercy, and purity. After a life of constant prayer and charity she died, three months after King Clovis, in the year 512, the 89th of her age.
[Illustration: HE SHOOK HIS CLENCHED FIST AT THE OBSTRUCTED SEA-STRAIT _From the drawing by Gertrude Demain Hammond_]
THE BOY VIKING--OLAF II OF NORWAY
By E. S. Brooks
Old Rane, the helmsman, whose fierce mustaches and shaggy shoulder-mantle made him look like some grim old Northern wolf, held high in air the great bison-horn filled with foaming mead.
"Skoal to the Viking! Hael was-hael!"[Footnote: "Hail and health to the Viking!"] rose his exultant shout. From a hundred sturdy throats the cry re-echoed till the vaulted hall of the Swedemen's conquered castle rang again.
"Skoal to the Viking! Hael; was-hael!" and in the centre of that throng of mail-clad men and tossing spears, standing firm and fearless upon the interlocked and uplifted shields of three stalwart fighting-men, a stout-limbed lad of scarce thirteen, with flowing light-brown hair and flushed and eager face, brandished his sword vigorously in acknowledgment of the jubilant shout that rang once again through the dark and smoke-stained hall: "Was-hael to the sea-wolf's son! Skoal to Olaf the King!"
Then above the din and clash of shouting and of steel rose the voice of Sigvat the saga-man, or song-man of the young viking, singing loud and sturdily:
"Olaf the King is on his cruise, His blue steel staining, Rich booty gaining, And all men trembling at the news, Up, war-wolf's brood! our young fir's name O'ertops the forest trees in fame, Our stout young Olaf knows no fear.
Though fell the fray, He's blithe and gay, And warriors fall beneath his spear.
Who can't defend the wealth they have Must die or share with the rover brave!"