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every few years in order that we may pause and
trace the progress our race is making. These
seven Christian saints fell asleep in a pagan world
— they woke in the age of Genseric. The Catholic
Church claims this fable as a sign of divine favour,
yet in spite of the ntimberless miracles traceable
to that cave, it became Mahometan three centuries
thereafter and has remained Mahometan to this
day. When these young men fell asleep, the
world worshipped God in temples instead of in

First Prussian Kaiser 127

churches. All honoured God, all talked freely
of religion, all respected religious divergences,
all recognized the ruler of the state as the pro-
tector of temples, and all were tolerant — for were
they not all children of the same God! The
world of paganism read Pliny and Cicero, Horace,
Virgil, and hundreds of authors whom we emulate
in vain today — whether as masters of style or
doctors in the field Of high thinking. The Greek
world was edified by master minds in drama,
history, poesy, and philosophy — thinkers and
writers whom we can imitate to advantage as
we do the art of Phidias and Praxiteles — imitate
hopelessly. All the pagan world was divided in
matters religious, as it was in matters of philo-
sophy, of art, and of public policy. All the world
discussed the high interests of mankind, but all
the world had learned to discuss without insulting;
to differ metaphysically yet never on a point of
good breeding.

The Seven Sleepers woke to a world in which
saints were the product of every town and miracles
the machinery by which they secured legal title.
They had fallen asleep in a world where every

128 Genseric

gentleman regarded bathing and gymnastic exer-
cise conducive to health. They woke amidst
monks who boasted that their bodies were stran-
gers to water and their minds to the beauties of
nature. The Greeks and Romans who perfected
both body and mind as a duty to God, no less
than to the state, would have appreciated but
partially a community in which able-bodied men
and women passed their lives in idleness and filth;
avoided their obligations as tax-payers; evaded
military service, but made war fanatically upon
works of art which they were incapable of repro-
ducing. The Catholic world alone at this period
numbered about 1800 Christian bishops, and
clergy so numerous that it is fair to compute for
the Roman state more priests than all the soldiers
in all the legions. It was the world best suited
to a Prussian conqueror and we must not lose
sight of Genseric rubbing his hands each time that
he heard of new monasteries, nunneries, monks,
and miracles. He kept his own arms bright
whilst encouraging the sloth and sanctity of his
neighbours. Like William II. he built churches
and was a good friend to his allies, but knew better

First Prussian Kaiser 129

than to count beads when spears and swords
needed sharpening. It was in Genseric's day
that the seamless garment of our Saviour was
miraculously "discovered" and finally deposited in
the domains of William II. Every circumstance
of this preservation, discovery, and final transla-
tion to Treves is cloaked in forgery. Yet even
today it is being commercially exploited as a
miracle-working relic, and millions of Prussian
subjects have sought this shrine and been relieved
' — at least of their money.

Luther thundered against this pious fraud in
the sixteenth centiuy; rival cities have com-
plained to the Pope that they alone possessed
the unique garment, and a commission of experts,
in weaving if not in hagiology, have carefully
examined the alleged wonder and certified under
oath that the few fragments still extant fiunish
no evidence as to its material, its form, or even
the natiu-e of any seam or seamlessness. And
if this reflects the intellectual state of a Catholic
diocese in oiu* time, have we any reason for apply-
ing the term "dark ages" to the period of Genseric
rather than to that of William II.?


Genseric and Eudoxia — ^Her restoration — Some comments on
her mother Athenais — ^Failure of the second great armada
against Carthage.

nrHE victory of Genseric over the Roman
armada of Majorian was complete and led
to a succession of embassies resulting in cash for the
Vandal and professions of peace for the Empire. It
was written in the stars of destiny that the sword
of Genseric should be uniformly successful in
battle, but that, like the Hohenzollems, he would
meet disaster so soon as that sword ceased to
swing. It is popularly supposed that the Prus-
sian eagle never surrenders the booty into which
its claws have once penetrated — this is true if
we amend the aphorism to read that Prussia
grabs everything and surrenders only under
compulsion. Frederick the Great grabbed and

held, but his successor lost all at the battle of


First Prussian Kaiser 131

Jena, and what he received back was owing to the
generosity of England and to the winter which
wore down the army of Napoleon in Russia.
Since Genseric was a Prussian, we may believe
that he surrendered the beautiful Empress Eu-
doxia for financial reasons rather than those of
chivalry — yet Eudoxia was in the pride of a
matron's beauty and at this time (462) barely
forty years of age. Genseric, moreover, was out-
wardly the first soldier of his time; master of the
seas; and now that Crown Prince Himric was
married into the family of Augustus, he deemed
himself cousin to the Roman Caesars. The court
of Rome sent embassy after embassy to Carthage
to negotiate for the surrender of Eudoxia, but
not until seven years of captivity had passed did
Genseric succeed in securing the bribe he sought.
The Byzantine court was compelled to acknow-
ledge the validity of a connection repulsive to all
save the brutal Crown Prince, and into the bar-
gain, Genseric was paid a large stim as evidence
of legal dowry. Thus was the Vandal rapacity
gratified and also that yearning of the parvenu
potentate for recognition by his peers. To be

132 Genseric

sure his vanity was sorely offended that the beau-
tiful Eudoxia persistently repelled his amorous
advances, and the length of her captivity measures
perhaps the hope he sometimes entertained of her
ultimate surrender. And henceforth Eudoxia is
hated by Genseric with an intensity far surpass-
ing any love he may ever have once entertained.
She returned to her family and we need not be
told that the rest of her life was dedicated to the
task of preparing for war against the perfidious

There have been many Eudoxias in history, and
had Genseric been willing to depart from the Pots-
dam custom, he might have made a quartette
of naked beauties to support his prospective pal-
ace — the fourth being Eudoxia's famous mother
Athenais. Women were beautiful in those days
— they were powerful also when they combined
physical beauty with intellectual accomplish-
ments. But when to beauty of body and mind
they joined a spirit of god-like elevation, then
indeed was every portal open to them. Athenais
was the gifted daughter of a notable scholar of
Athens, who gave her every facility for cultivat-

First Prussian Kaiser 133

ing her admirable talents. But on his death, and
when she was but twenty years old, her inheritance
was contested by her two brothers, who thought
perhaps that her beauty and brains were portion
enough. But the money which a modem maiden
would have wasted on lawyers, she invested in a
journey to Constantinople, where her tears, her
modesty, her loss, and above all her radiant
beauty appealed to the then Empress Regent,
Pulcheria, who relieved her distress, and at the
same time that of her brother on the Byzantine
throne who would not be happy tmtil the penni-
less pagan had consented to share his bed and
his throne. It was a romantic love marriage, if
ever such existed, and like many another such,
did not run forever in the smooth manner of our
fairy books. The writer of romance, however,
is always able to close his tale at the church door
and lay down his pen after the hopeful words:
*'And they lived happily ever after!'*

Athenais was a heroine of romance and her
heart bubbled with warmth for all the world.
To Pulcheria she was a submissive and sympathetic
sister — accepting her tracts and sermons — to say

134 Genseric

nothing of baptism and a Christian name. Hence-
forth she spoke no more in praise of Plato and the
gods of Homer, but pretended interest in the
fiatuous fables of St. Augustine or the homo-
ousianism of St. Athanasius. The philosophy
buried beneath the stories of Proserpina, Eury-
dice, Hercules, and Prometheus were exchanged for
the doings of vulgar monks, who never bathed
their bodies, yet blasphemously pretended to the
attributes of holiness. To her Imperial husband
she was an object of infinite charm for she relieved
the boredom of his Byzantine court as no one
else had ever done and made him the father of
our third in the Genseric trinity. And to the
people she was also welcome for her beauty, her
wit, her charity, and above all for her Christian
piety. And that nothing should be wanting to
the romance, no sooner had she taken her seat
upon the throne of Constantinople, than her two
wicked brothers were summoned to court. They
came and trembled, as they fell prostrate before
the sister whom they had sought to harm. But
she raised them in Christian forgiveness, pardoned
their past behaviour, and crowned the burden of

First Prussian Kaiser 135

their shame by conferring on each a lucrative
office. Let us presume that they, too, turned
Christian for the sake of the salary if not of their
sister, and the presumption is the more easy con-
sidering how little they had to abjure!

The rest of our heroine's life is somewhat
remote from the career of Genseric, as compared
with that of her daughter, Eudoxia, but is inter-
esting, for it illustrates how completely woman
has ever had her own way when she was not bur-
dened by the ballot-box, and how much she may
soon lose, should the law degrade her to the level
of the merely masculine.

Athenais submitted to the stupidity of the
Byzantine Court and above all to the monastic
monotony of the pious Pulcheria, until she was
thirty-eight years old, when she pretended that
a holy vision had beckoned her to visit the tomb
of our Saviour, there to celebrate her escape from
paganism. This pilgrimage agreed so well with
her that she spent, with a brief exception, the
rest of her life in the Holy City; travelling at
intervals; addressing learned bodies in the purest
accents of Hellas; composing essays, poems,

136 Genseric

dramas, and otherwise enjoying herself to the full
extent of her purse, her social prestige, and above
all her personal charm and talents. Wherever
she went, her bounty assisted in the restoration
of monuments and the founding of worthy chari-
ties. She died in Jerusalem at the age of sixty,
rich in experience and the gratitude of thousands
whom she had benefited. Rtmiour says that
absence from the bed of an Emperor was made up
to her manyfold by consolations that were not
always theological.

And now let us return to Genseric when he
hears that there is a new Emperor called Leo I.,
reigning on the Bosphorus, and a new Emperor of
the West, and that the two have finally united
in a gigantic effort to drive the Vandals out of
Africa. It is ten years since the ill-fated disaster
of Majorian at Cartagena, six years after the
restoration of Eudoxia, and forty years since the
first proud landing at Tangiers. Genseric had
been uniformly successful, yet like the Prussians
in Alsace-Lorraine or a popular bandit in the good
old days of Sicilian chaos, he lived in constant
danger of a police raid or some other form of re-

First Prussian Kaiser 137

tribution. At last the happy combination oc-
curred which enabled the forces of East and
West to make a simultaneous descent upon the
North African shores. More than a thousand
warships sailed from the Bosphorus bearing a
complete equipment for field or siege work, to
say nothing of a hundred thousand picked men.
Another force marched from the mouth of the Nile
through the desert and yet another landed from
Italy to the westward of Carthage. The details
of the majestic armada may here be omitted be-
cause of its ignominious failure for a cause that
has wrecked many other armadas equally well

Genseric trembled for his throne until he learned
that so far from selecting the best soldier for the
highest command, they had entrusted this post
to one whose only claim rested upon his blood
relation with a Byzantine monarch. Genseric
was now ripe in experience and ctmning, however
much his body may have wasted under the seventy
years of agitated existence. He knew his enemy
and, like another William the Second in a war
where brute force failed of success, he flooded his

138 Genseric

adversaries with professions of friendship and
lofty concern that blood might be spared. The
wily old Vandal said he was ready to submit his
claims immediately to a General Peace Conference ;
indeed so eager was he for a cessation of hostili-
ties that he would commence that very day to
disarm if only Rome would be generous and grant
him five days in which to arrange the necessary

And like a big stupid sentimental fool the Roman
commander fell into the trap and granted the
favour which seemed slight to an amateur but
meant the world to a professional.

For in war imagination plays a r61e second
hardly to shot and shell. The enemy surprised
and taken at a disadvantage is already half beaten
provided no opportunity be given to become
familiar with the source of this momentary alarm.
Had Genseric's promises been treated as they
deserved, and had the splendidly organized allies
moved swiftly upon the capital, and there dic-
tated the terms of an unconditional surrender,
no surprise would have been felt by those who
look for the usual effects of normal causes. But

First Prussian Kaiser 139

Genseric knew his enemy and also the value of
wind and weather, and before his five days were
up and when the great Roman fleet lay comfort-
ably crowded together, dreaming of an easy con-
quest and early return to towns decorated in
their honour, there appeared in the offing the
long, low, swift galleys of Genseric, towing an
abundance of inflammable material which bore
down inevitably and with disastrous effect amidst
the helpless transports from the Bosphorus. In
vain did they seek escape by flight; each ham-
pered the other and the flames communicated
so rapidly, thanks to the west wind for which
the Vandal had prayed, that in the course of a
single night and with scarce the loss of a single
life, Genseric once more won a crushing victory,
and once more made public thanks to God as
the peculiar protector of himself and his Prussian


Persecution by Genseric — Miracles of St. Augustine and St.
Stephen — Idolatry of pagans and Christians — Eflfect of
African luxury on the Vandals.

*'/^^ OD is with Genseric " shouted the Vandals,
when they learned that the combined
armies of the eastern and western empires had
been scattered. His churches resounded with
hallelujahs in honour of the victory; his priests
made new plans for the extermination of Catholi-
cism, Donatism, Paganism, and other forms of
native heresy; and the orthodox joked about the
alleged miracles of St. Augustine. Each sect in
turn called itself orthodox and by virtue of that
title proceeded to persecute all other Christians,
whom they stigmatized as heretics.

The great victory of Genseric occurred in 468,
and he lived ten more years of Imperial glory,
blessed by his orthodox clergy, cursed by all

others, and not at all disturbed by the spiritual


First Prussian Kaiser 141

thunderbolts hurled at him by hundreds of saints
with thousands of miracles to their credit. There
is an old Spanish proverb defining a liar as one
who pretends to enumerate all the wonders per-
formed by the relics of St. Stephen, and since the
learned and holy St. Augustine of Hippo and
Carthage has set his seal on these, in a work
written to prove the truth of Christian doctrine,
and as Augustine was contemporary with Gen-
seric, should we not pause for one moment to
consider the author of these holy acts and then
to marvel that his powers were not invoked when
the fire ships of Genseric bore down upon the
armada of those who had his name on their
calendar of holy martyrs? Augustine himself
was no amateur as a miracle maker, for within
the space of two years and all in his own diocese
he solemnly entered upon the pages of his monu-
mental book, De Civitate Dei, seventy well-authen-
ticated miracles, amongst which are three corpses
called to life. Between Stephen and Augustine
Genseric shotild have been long ago expelled from
Africa as were snakes from Ireland by the legendary
Patricius of Scotland — or if not expelled his death

142 Genseric

should at least have been one of contrition for
past crimes and an edifying reconciliation with
the worshippers of holy relics.

Genseric, moreover, even though ignorant of
Latin, had the whole set of St. Augustine in his
library and could have had his secretary translate
the most edifying passages — particularly those re-
ferring to the first martyr in the Acta Sanctorum.

Stephen had lain in the ground several centu-
ries when a vision appeared to some farmer near
Jerusalem, announcing the welcome news that if he
would dig at a certain spot he would find a gold
mine or better still the body of a martyr. All
this happened in the days of Genseric, and you
will no doubt share my surprise that this holy
wave of miracles should have been held back for
three centuries and then have inundated the world
at a time when it was too late to do any good. It
is also interesting to note that this epidemic of
theological excavation occurred only after the
Emperor Constantine had officially approved of
idolatry under its new label and that relics were
dug up just as fast as there was a commercial de-
mand for them on the part of a credulous public.

First Prussian Kaiser 143

Moreover, every material difficulty in the way of
pious excavations was removed by a vision — and
as many more such as the particular job demanded.
And thus it happened in the case of St. Stephen.
Vision after vision guided the grave-digging parties
from Jerusalem until the coffin of the saint was
reached; when (on highest authority we learn
this) the earth trembled, and an odour certified
as that from Paradise rejoiced every faithful
nostril and seventy-three of the ailing bystanders
were immediately healed. Of course it was of
the utmost importance to the promoters of this
company of saintly excavators that the corpse
should be legally identified as that of the man
who was bruised to death four centuries ago; and
it was equally important that there should be
blood and bones enough on hand not merely to
fructify pecuniarily his shrine on Mount Sion, but
to supply at a fair profit thousands of churches
throughout Catholic Christendom that to this
day feel their zeal enhanced by the comforting
thought that in their midst is a bone filing or
drop of blood that once was part of Saint Stephen
— first Christian martyr.

144 Genseric

It would be interesting if a statistically equipped
philosopher could discover the number of Arians
killed by Catholics or the number of Pagans
killed by combined Christian effort — all of them
martyrs in the cause of religion. The Roman
Empire at home was persistently eradicating the
religion of the ancients by erecting figures of
saints on pedestals that once bore the statues of
classic deities. The peasants who had formerly
poured a libation to Pan or Demeter were now,
under pain of death, ordered to burn a costly
taper before a divinity, claiming to perform the
same or even more, possibly at even a lower price.
Idolatry was not suppressed, but the idols were
renamed. The Roman emperors did what Prus-
sian kaisers do in their conquered colonies — they
do not change the things that matter, but they
give them German labels.

Genseric spent the last ten years of his out-
wardly successful life in imitating the example set
by the Catholics of Christianity. He persecuted
the heretics with holy joy — and under that word
he included Pagans, Donatists, Catholics — all
who were not Arian. His zeal burnt the brighter

First Prussian Kaiser 145

for having been converted in early life, and when
he learned of his victims, burned or butchered to
death, he had the satisfaction that consoled the
last years of Philip II. of Spain, who insisted on
the Inquisition in this world as better than eternal
damnation in the next.

So soon as the Roman fleet had been dispersed,
the outlying possessions of Genseric submitted
once more to his rule; Sardinia, Tripoli, and Sicily
paid him tribute and his galleys again raided the
coasts of Asia, Greece, and Italy. He studiously
cultivated the friendship of his brother barbarians
in the Roman hinterland and the booty and tri-
bute which filled his treasury after every sea raid
served to meet the expense of his endless war
against the heretics of his own land.

For half a century Genseric scourged Northern
Africa — and for yet another half -century after his
death his descendants continued this Prussian
process. Yet in spite of scoiu*ging and dragon-
nading and efficiency of the most modem kind,
German colonization succeeded no better in Vandal
times than in those of his HohenzoUem imitators.

The followers of Genseric were like the followers

146 Genseric

of William II. today — they penetrated to all parts
of the civilised world as hirelings and spies, but
they rarely penetrated into social circles where the
word " gentleman " has a meaning to the initiate.
The Prussians, under Genseric, who found them-
selves suddenly masters of a wealthy Roman
province could enjoy the warm baths in a luxuri-
ous villa and the Moorish women who ministered
to their appetites. They relished as barbarians
the privilege of debauching girls of ancient lineage
in whose families their fathers had been servants.
They delighted in being waited upon by slaves
of a higher breeding than themselves; and who
can paint the joy of a north German, strutting
ferociously amid a people compelled to make way,
and salute him as master. One must have visited
German colonies in order to appreciate the feel-
ings of these vandals when stretching their limbs
at leisure amid the palaces and palm groves of
Carthage and contrasting their present enjoyment
with the past misery of their lives in the swamps
and forests of Brandenburg.

But the Prussian, while a good worker under the
lash, is of inferior fibre spiritually; and rapidly

First Prussian Kaiser 147

degenerates when permitted to eat and drink
according to his appetites. It is under the
drudgery of discipline that Prussia produced the
Kanonenfutter of Frederick the Great, and only-
persistent poverty has made that land the nur-
sery of docile peasants and hardy officers. Gen-
seric had led his followers into a land of luxury and
they readily contracted the diseases which luxury
engenders ; but as barbarians, they were incapable
of appreciating a society in which literature,
philosophy, and the fine arts had flourished for
many centuries before ever a barbarian had
emerged from his Baltic wilderness. The men
who beached their boats at Tangiers in 427 were
amongst the elders by the time Genseric beat
back the great invasion of 468, and when Genseric
passed on to his German Walhalla, there were
probably not more than a handful of those who
had shared his youthful perils.

The Vandal conquerors were imperceptibly
conquered by their Moorish and Roman slaves
— and still more completely by their own appetites.
The conquerors of yesterday became the volup-
tuaries of tomorrow — field exercises ceased to

148 Genseric

interest the fashionable circles — the ranks were
recruited more and more from natives and the
day was thus insensibly prepared when the nation
that Genseric had founded ceased to emulate his
warlike virtues, forgot his courage, and imitated
only his cruelty.


Some observations on the rise and fall of empires— Relative
progress of Paganism and Christianity — Mahometanism —
Buddhism — ^Hindooism.

T^HE Roman state had flourished for twelve
centuries before it received its death-blow

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