Page images
[graphic][ocr errors][subsumed]

and clothes, and food, and shelter, and for all these it depended on the forethought of its commander.

Maps there were none. Countries entirely unknown had to be surveyed; routes had to be laid out; the depths and courses of rivers, the character of mountain passes, had all to be ascertained. Allies had to be found among tribes as yet unheard of. Countless contingent difficulties had to be provided for, many of which must necessarily arise, though the exact nature of them could not be anticipated. When room for accidents is left open, accidents do not fail to be heard of. But Cæsar was never defeated when personally present, save once at Gergovia, and once at Darazzo; and the failure at Gergovia was caused by the revolt of the Aedui;; and the manner in which the failure at Durazzo was retrieved showed Cæsar's greatness more than the most brilliant of his victories.

He was rash, but with a calculated rashness, which the event never failed to justify. His greatest successes were due to the rapidity of his movements, which brought him on the enemy before they heard of his approach. He travelled sometimes a hundred miles a day, reading or writing in his carriage, through countries without roads, and crossing rivers without bridges.

No obstacles stopped him when he had a definite end in view. In battle he sometimes rode; but he was more often on foot, bareheaded, and in a conspicuous dress, that he might be seen and recognized. Again and again by his own efforts he recovered a day that was half lost. He once seized a panic-stricken standard-bearer, turned him round, and told him that he had mistaken the direction of the enemy. He never misled his army as to the enemy's strength, or if he misstated their numbers it was only to exaggerate.

3. The Aedui were the first Gallie tribe to form an alliance with the Romans.

Yet he was singularly careful of his soldiers. He allowed his legions rest, though he allowed none to himself. He rarely fought a battle at a disadvantage. He never exposed his men to unnecessary danger, and the loss by wear and tear in the campaigns in Gaul was exceptionally and even astonishingly slight. When a gallant action was performed, he knew by whom it had been done, and every soldier, however humble, might feel assured that if he deserved praise he would have it. The army was Cæsar's family.

When Sabinus was cut off, he allowed his beard to grow, and he did not shave it till the disaster was avenged. If Quintus Cicero had been his own child, he could not have run greater personal risk to save him when shut up at Charleroy. In discipline he was lenient to ordinary faults, and not careful to make curious inquiries into such things. He liked his men to enjoy themselves. Military mistakes in his officers too he always endeavored to excuse, never blaming them for misfortunes, unless there had been a defect of courage as well as judgment.

Mutiny and desertion only he never overlooked. And thus no general was ever more loved by, or had greater power over, the army which served under him. He brought the insurgent tenth legion into submission by a single word. When the Civil War began and Labienus left him, he told all his officers who had served under Pompey that they were free to follow if they wished. Not another man forsook him.

When prætor, Cæsar brought back money from Spain to the treasury; but he was never charged at the time with peculation or oppression there. In Gaul the war paid its own expenses; but what temples were there in Gaul which were worth spoiling? Of temples he was, indeed, scrupulously careful. Varro had taken gold from the Temple of Hercules at Cadiz. Cæsar replaced it. Metellus Scipio had threatened to plunder the Temple of Diana at Ephesus. Cæsar protected it.

In Gaul the Druids were his best friends; therefore he certainly had not outraged religion there; and the quiet of the province during the Civil War is a sufficient answer to the accusation of gratuitous oppression.

The Gauls paid the expenses of their conquest in the prisoners taken in battle, who were sold to the slave merchants; and this is the real blot on Cæsar's career. But the blot was not personally upon Cæsar, but upon the age in which he lived. The great Pomponius Atticus himself was a dealer in human chattels. That prisoners of war should be sold as slaves was the law of the time, accepted alike by victors and vanquished; and the crowds of libertini who assisted at Cæsar's funeral proved that he was not regarded as the enemy of these unfortunates, but as their special friend.

As far as his public action was concerned, he betrayed no passion save hatred of injustice; and he moved through life calm and irresistible like a force of nature.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »