« السابقةمتابعة »
CONQUESTS OF ALEXANDER.
forth into a brilliant flame, to be once more speedily extinguished. If it can be averreu of any conqueror of the ancient world, that he had the power and the will not merely to destroy, but also to build up and found anew,—that he had original, bold, and great ideas, it may be averred of Alexander; and in these ideas he was passionately enthusi. astic, not coolly calculating, like Cæsar. It may be asked, whether the consequences to the world would not have been greater and more lasting, if Alexander, as his teacher Aristotle wished, and more than once expressed the wish, had confined himself to Europe, instead of seeking Eastern conquests,-if he had wholly subjugated the Greeks, and thereby moulded them into one nation, under a monarchy founded upon legal freedom ? If in this manner, during their fourishing period, they bad been cemented into a mighty whole, into one nation, which indeed they never were, the Greeks would have presented a noble spectacle to the world and to history. But at that time such a scheme would bave been scarcely practicable. They were too divided, already thoroughly corrupted, and all their energies extinct. In that case, the probable reward of Alexander would have been failure and ingratitude. Be that, however, as it may, an irresistible impulse urged Alexander towards Asia. The municipal character of the constitution and social system of the Greeks, their petty spirit of contention, and their over-refinement, may have appeared too narrow and contracted to his great mind. A decided predilection for Oriental grandeur breaks out through his whole life, and was made matter of reproach against him by the more narrow-minded of the Greeks. It may, perhaps, have been his leading idea to wish to fuse together · Oriental greatness and Grecian refinement, and combine in a perfect social and political system the respective advantages of Europe and Asia. On his death, however, the incoherent elements were again disjoined, and the whole structure fell to pieces. Among the several Græco-Macedonian kingdoms that were now formed in Egypt, Syria, Asia Minor, and Greece, relations speedily arose that bear a striking resemblance to certain epochs in modern history. Standing armies, treaties that were concluded or altered with as much display of the arts of diplomacy as ever modern times have known, in one word, a recognised system of the balance of power, This produced the same consequences at that period, as in the sequel it bas produced in every age, and always will produce. Perpetual wars,-namely, because the scales of the artificial balance never stand altogether motionless, but ever incline towards one side, or at least appear so to do,—and after such perpetual wars, mutual exhaustion and general disorganization. That one might not become too powerful, these Grecian states enfeebled each other so much, that at last they were all weak enough to be easily conquered by a new and unlooked-for power.
This destiny had Rome in the meanwhile been growing up. to fulfil. With a population, with manners, laws, and customs derived from the different nations that peopled central Italy, Rome, surrounded as she was by several powerful states, was necessitated, even from her origin, to carry on war, in order to defend herself, and to preserve the territories she had wrested from the latter. The cause of this ceaseless succession of wars lay in the Roman constitution itself. Indescribably severe was the oppression exercised on the people by the nobility. The people, moreover, were ever restless; but the means of warding off danger, when once war had become a habit, were always at hand. War had need only be perpetuated; patricians and plebeians alike loved it; but the patricians gained by it the most surely ; and now and then, by allowing the people to share in some of its advantages, any pressing danger would be easily averted, and the storm be once more laid. When in respect of her claims in Sicily and Spain, her growing aggrandizement had brought Rome in contact with Carthage, the powers she had long been gathering together were suddenly developed to an extent of greatness, that amazed the contemporary world, as it has done all succeeding ages. The struggle with Carthage, on which the very existence of Rome was staked, which called forth her highest efforts, and which brought her to the verge of destruction : this struggle it was that imparted to her that loftiness of spirit ; that magnanimity which continued to exist even in subsequent times. This greatness and magnanimity, portrayed as they are by eloquent historians, only too often lead us to forget much in the history of Rome, and in her dealings with the rest of the world, but which, viewed with the eye of humanity, cannot appear otherwise STATE OF NORTHERN EUROPE.
than both reprehensible and pernicious. Now had the power of Rome become irresistible; and it was easy for the Romans to put an end to the game of the balance of power among the Grecian states and kingdoms. At first interfering with dignity and apparent love of justice, they quickly began to assume a bolder tone, and at last dropping the mask, and throwing aside all reserve, they announced and assigned to the subjugated nations their long decided lot.
Harder was their task to subdue, or rather to extirpate, the nations of western and northern Europe. The warlike inhabitants of Spain, as well as the Celtic nations, were at length almost wholly subjugated; and so were even several Germanic tribes. But ainong the latter the national strength was by no means crushed; by them mankind was shortly to be saved, for Rome was now hurrying with rapid steps, to ber inevitable downfal. It was no longer the patrician order, but powerful individuals aiming at sovereignty, who, in these latter times, promoted warfare, and used devastated provinces, or half.exterminated nations, as means for amassing wealth, and as instruments of their ambition. Through the strife of parties, the establishment of despotism, the inevitable result of anarchic freedom in any state, was already at hand, when the ever-memorable contest between Rome and the Germanic nations broke out. Thus had this malady -the lust of power, the thirst after universal dominion spread and been transplanted from Asia constantly westward, and at last taken deep root in the midst of Europe.
Let us now cast a glance at the state of northern Europe. Three great and distinct races dwelt in central and northern Europe. The Celts inhabited upper Italy, the Alps, the whole of central France, a part of Spain, and the British isles. The Germans occupied Germany and the Scandinavian kingdoms ; for at that time the Suiones or Swedes, and the other inhabitants of those northern states, were accounted Germans, and constituted one people with them. It was not till long afterwards that the German language and nation, properly so called, took a peculiar development, and became distinct from the kindred Scandinavian race and language in Denmark and Sweden. One-third of Gaul, the north-western part, under the name of Belgium, was peopled not by Celts alone, but partly by tribes, either purely Germanic, or of the two races mixed. The earliest European seats of the Germanic nations. were in the northern parts of Germany, in the Netherlands, Denmark, the south of Sweden and Norway, along the coasts of the Baltic, and also towards the west on those of the Atlantic. At a later period only did central and southern Germany become generally cultivated, and inhabited principally by Germans. By reason of its effects, this circumstance is uf great importance. The Celts were the first who occupied the Alps, and perhaps many districts also between those mountains and the Danube ; German tribes may subsequently have mingled among them, and hence Roman authors speak of semi-Germanic tribes upon the Alps. But it was only when a great German nation, the Suabians, and the Swiss, who were akin to them, migrated from the more northern districts, and from the coasts of the Baltic to their present seats, that the country between the Maine, the Danube, and the Alps, as well as a part of the latter, became wholly German. That on the lower Danube, in the north of Greece and up to the Carpathian mountains, Celtic, and perhaps even German tribes, also existed, is probable. Some of the latter, as appears by certain names, and by other circumstances, wero intermingled with the Gauls, who from this quarter once penetrated into Greece, and ultimately settled in Asia Minor.
The eastern neighbours of the Germans were, two thousand years ago, as at the present day, the wide-spread Sclavonic nations. The Romans, who were really acquainted only with the western and southern frontier-districts of Germany, and knew little or nothing of the interior, are uncertain in their assignment of boundaries between the two. As to some of these Eastern people, the writer who had most knowledge of Germany says, he was unable to decide whether they were Germans or Sarmatians. Perhaps from the Oder to the Vistula, or even still more easterly as far as modern Livonia and Lithuania, German and Sclavonian, as well as other tribes, dwelled together. They were not intermixed, however, but lived side by side, in the same manner as in Hungary and the Turkish empire, several nations of totally different language and origin, have done for centuries, without being blended ; · each preserving its peculiar language and customs. Even at that early period, varied intercourse and manifold relations seem to have existed between the Germanic and Sclavonian nations.
CAUSES OF GERMANIC MIGRATION.
This is the more probable, as in the principal expeditions of the Germans during the time of the Goths, we find many nonGermanic tribes associated with them, of whom some probably, and others most certainly, were of the Sclavonic race.,-,
Thus of the above-named three great nations, the Germans, of whom we are at present more immediately treating, possessed the most northern seats. It even seems as though they had designedly penetrated as far as possible towards the north. Now if the existence of widely-spread species of domesticated animals originally indigenous to Asia; if the manners and customs, the mythology, the universal traditions, and, above all, the languages of the European nations, incontrovertibly prove that they had all, earlier or later, inmigrated from Asia ; then the question may well be asked : what could have possibly induced the Germanic nation to abandon their happier dwelling-places, and to seek an abode in the rude, extreme north? It was undoubtedly not necessity alone. At that time, the earth was not so thickly peopled, as to leave no room for choice ; and it would not have been difficult for them to find settlements elsewhere. We must, perhaps, seek the reason of this singular phenomenon in the sentiments and sagas of antiquity. Though an altogether satisfactory reply to the question can scarcely be expected, yet it is at least note-worthy, that the Indians, precisely the most southern Asiatic people, transfer the most glorious and perfect region of the earth,—the terrestrial paradise,—which we generally look for in the south, to the extreme north. They conceive it to be in the form of a vast mountain, and to be the seat of every kind of wealth. To have climbed and conquered this wonderful mountain, is one of the highest adventures fabled of their gods or deified heroes. Hence hare some English scholars gone so far as to seek the derivation of the name Scandinavia from Scanda, one of those Indian deified heroes, to pbom that adventure is ascribed. Hazardous and inadmissible as this supposition may appear, it is yet certain that the key to the earliest events in the history of nations, is not to be sought for in what we call policy, nor even in physical necessities alone, which are apt more immediately to occur to Us, but much rather in their mythology, that is, in their perhaps incorrect and vague, but still poetical conceptions. and sagas. Strange as these may appear to us at the first