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hoisting of galley-mast and sail-yard, clamour, and shout, and soldier-cry, and voice of chieftain lifted in proud command, the splashing fall of heavy-armed warrior amid the white sea-spray, climbing the oak-ribbed bark, and the loud laughter of merry comrades around him.
A thousand voices were on the winds, shield clattered against shield, the battle-steed plunged with his proud rider into the shoreward rolling surf, and the decks of barque and galley were crowded with faces of every hue, from the turbaned Ethiopian to the fair and blue-eyed Almanian of the north. Now trump and horn wailed out their last embarkation-call,* and the gold-ringed knights shouted in reply, till cliff echoed to cliff' with
the Babel-like confusion of many tongues and sounds. The army, with its warengines and camp equipage, were now all embarked; and last came the emperor to the strand, ready to enter a light barge, which lay waiting to take him on board the noble galley of the admiral.
Kings, princes, prætors, proconsuls, consulares, tribunes, knights, and body-guards, were in his train. On his right hand appeared Andronicus, his friend, next in command and splendour to himself, and captain of the prætorian bands. The lictors moved in solemn state before the world's great potentate with their gleaming axes, and seven golden censers of fragrant fire preceded his steps. The blood-eagles of dominion spread their glittering wings around him, and above his head waved the labarum standard of rich purple, flinging on the sea-gale its goldemblazoned folds. Behind him came the flamens, augurs, and aruspices, and his steeds, from the plains of Cappadocia, led by grooms, and covered with sumptuous trappings of many colours.
The panoply of the emperor was of flashing steel, and his breast-plate shone with clustered gems, which, as he moved against the sun, involved him in a flood of splendour. His falchion, formed of the true Iberian temper,+ hung on his thigh in a starry scabbard; and on his head he wore a helmet of pure gold, which was surmounted by a phænix, whose plumes were formed of jewels, to represent the splendid colours of that bird ; and above its outspread
* Lucan, v. ii. p. 690.
+ The Romans considered the Spanish swords of the best shape and temper, and fittest for execution.
wings rose a pile of crimson feathers, sporting with the winds. Down from his shoulders flowed his paludamentum, or imperial mantle, of the richest purple; it was gorgeously embroidered with gold and precious stones, and fastened with clasps of diamond. A tribune bore his imbricata shield of Corinthian brass, which was covered with splendid workmanship, displaying the victories of Scipio Africanus over the Carthaginians. Virgins strewed the sands of the sea-shore with flowers as he passed along, and multitudes, of various tribes, flocked to behold his embarkation; putting up prayers to all the gods that he might subdue Carausius, his rival foe, and win the island throne of Britain. *
Entering his barge, the emperor was soon conveyed to the side of the chief galley, and the dux præfectus classis, or admiral of the fleet, surrounded by his officers, received him on board with all due honours. As he stood on the deck, it might have been truly said how like a god he looked; for, as the beams of the sun, then descending to the horizon, fell upon him, his figure shone like a rainbowcoloured pillar of fire, and his mantle, flinging abroad its folds of amethyst on the freshening winds, glowed like a cloud of the west when lighted up with the last splendours of departing day. But his dark eye shone brighter than all the gems he wore, as he glanced exultingly from ship to ship, and saw what a numerous fleet he had collected around him, fully prepared to meet in battle the navy of the pirate king of the ocean.
Every vessel was decked with flowery garlands, and its sails unbraced to catch the willing breeze. The appearance of the emperor on the admiral's deck was hailed with a general shout from the whole army, while the war-cry of the mariners and ship-soldiers joined the universal din, which drowned at intervals the sounding tones of the horn and trumpet.
The priests on the stern of the chief galley, where stood the images of the tutelary gods, now offered up prayers and sacrifices for the safety of the fleet, as they had done for the success of the army; wine-libations were poured forth on the waves to Neptune, and the smoke of the offerings
* “The setting out of the general was attended with great pomp and superstition. He began his march out of the city accompanied by a vast retinue of all sexes and ages, especially if the expedition were undertaken against any potent or renowned adversary."-KENNETT.
rose above flag and streamer, mingling with the beautiful clouds of evening. Then did the emperor also review the whole fleet, which passed before the imperial galley in battle order. Ten thousand oars, with silvery gleams, now rose and fell, making the waters one broad sheet of milkwhite foam ; and with the sound of their motion came the musical tones of the commanders over the different banks of rowers, to which they kept regular time with their powerful strokes. There were the round and deep ships of burthen, with their baskets, a token of their employment, fixed to the top of their masts; the long galleys of war, with their oars, bank on bank, that seemed to rush along the waters like forms of life and spirit: their sails of white, azure, and crimson, were filled with the breath of ocean; and from stern and prow floated streamer and ensign of variegated and brilliant colours. Many were completely covered with cypress roofs, except at the head and stern, where stood the pilots in their dress of office, and where the ship-soldiers fought when the fleet engaged in battle; others had strong bulwarks, turrets, and lofty towers erected on their decks, like a land-fortress, furnished with scorpidions and other great engines for shooting poisoned darts, huge stones, and arrows wreathed with fire; many were armed with prows of iron and sharp beaks of brass, in which were strong teeth or jagged points. With these floating castles, or islands, as Virgil calls them, were seen light vessels for expedition, with only a single bank of rowers, and numerous barques, barges, galliots, and brigantines; and here and there the libernacæ of some luxurious Roman commander, a moving palace of splendour and beauty, with costly sails and streamers of parti-coloured silk enwrought with gold and silver devices, while its burnished oars kept time to soft recorders and soothing lays of melodious instruments.
As the review of this powerful armada closed, a flight of birds was seen by the augurs taking the direction in which the fleet was to steer for Britain. This was pronounced to be a most propitious omen. Constantius instantly waved his spear, the signal for sailing, and the navy prepared immediately to quit the haven of Rupella. The tuneful voices of the commanders of the row-banks, and the farewell shout of mariner and soldier, were echoed by the thousands that crowded rock, and cliff, and shore, waving their garments, and flinging flowers on the undulating deep: and it is said there was seen above the setting sun a sea of car
buncle, on which were golden isles of Elysian beauty, with palace hall and ruby pillar, and porch and gate of burning sapphire and diamond, from which looked forth bright seraphim, with countless shapes of blessedness, eager to behold the fleets of Rome, as onward o'er the surge they proudly rode, filled with the renowned in battle, whose victorious arms were deemed equal to conquer and rule the noblest island which the Atlantic's stormy waves encircle.
“Now then for this far-famed land of the savage Briton," said Propertius, a young and noble Roman commander, as the gay libertine, surrounded by his officers and soldurii,* splendidly clad in their military habits, stood on the deck of his magnificent libernace, which had joined the invading fleet.
“Thinkest thou, Collitanius,” continued he, "that the sea-lion of the west, the rude corsair who apes the imperial dignity in Britain, will be prepared to meet this powerful armament, or dare to cope with the veteran forces of Cæsar?”
“I am told,” replied Collitanius, “ that his spies are every where, even in the palaces of Dioclesian and Constantius, consequently there can be but little hope of surprising him unprepared, and as little doubt that Constantius, whose army is now formed of all the bravest legions in the Roman ranks, will be the victor in this noble strife, and restore Britain to the empire of the world's great masters.'
“The omens are propitious,” spake Propertius, "the priests pronounce certain success to the enterprise, and foretell the downfall of this self-raised Carausius. Not that I heed prognostic, or omenation, which prove as often false as true, nor the interested dreamings of priestcraft, whose professors pretend that they alone are the interpreters of the will of the gods to man, bowing down the weak minds of the deluded multitude to their ritual observances by that powerful engine, the fear of eternal torments, as if their puny hands wielded the thunderbolts of Jove, making the gods more cruel than the greatest monsters of tyranny, thus they raise themselves to unlimited riches and power on the basis of credulity and superstition. But, thanks to the
Military clients, or dependents on a great commander, anong the Romans, similar to the retainers of a Norman baron.
+ “Study the systems of Pythagoras and Plato, and the Stoics, which teach that there are gods, and that they have prepared for the soul a future state of reward and punishinent.”—Juliun's Episile.
glorious dawning of a better philosophy, their oracles and pretended revelations are beginning to be looked on as only the juggling trickery of their craft, like the solitary and gigantic gods of the Egyptians, that in the dimness of the night fill the wanderer of the desert with awe and terror, but when the ruddy morning breaks in the east, are regarded only as sculptured and enormous masses of misshapen rock.”
“ Propertius, give not thy thoughts such loose reins on these subjects,” answered Collitanius, “or they will bring thee into danger ere thou art aware. The priesthood and the state are ever closely connected, and they practice no mercy, though the latter continually preach it, to those who set lightly by their doctrines and decrees. Witness the cruel persecutions of the Christians, who revile and set at nought the gods of our forefathers.”
“Well, my friend,” returned Propertius, "let the different sects dispute, wrangle, and destroy each other, with all my heart; I care for none of these things. System subverts system, and one religion succeeds to another; each condemning its antecedent, and sending its followers headlong to the infernal abode of Pluto, there to wail in everlasting misery! Man is a strange animal; he never seems so happy as when he is inflicting torments, real or imaginary, on his fellow-creatures! The Lucretian and Epicurean philosophy for me! Not that I take the trouble to wade through the three hundred and one volumes their founders have written ; though I must confess that the elegance and purity of Lucretius Carus have tempted me occasionally to dip into the De rerum naturâ. But enough of this: we are bound, my gallant friend, for the conquest of a new world-new at least to us, and novelty delights my soul. They say the women in this vast island are all beautiful, but perfect savages, atrociously unartificial, as they would say at Rome, in manners and mind. Be it so; I shall enjoy the change, Collitanius, for I am satiated to the last degree with the eternal identity of the eternal city. The same luxuries, the same pomp, the same insipid characters of superdulcified refinement and ultra affectation, and then the same tiresome faces, half nature and half art, everywhere intruding on our wearied orbs of vision, demanding with all a miser's insatiate greediness the most profound homage and the grossest flattery, till I absolutely sicken to look on them! Oh, I would sooner be condemned to read the interminable epic poem of Antimachus on the Theban war, who filled twenty-four