How a 12 Year Old Schoolboy Set About Restoring the Magnificent Gwrych Castle

How a 12 Year Old Schoolboy Set About Restoring the Magnificent Gwrych Castle

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Everyone who has driven the North Wales Expressway up to the coast will know the castle. The Irish Sea on one side, the majestic Great Orme Head jutting out into the sea above Llandudno, and the first hints of Snowdonia rising to your south, you cannot but notice the long outline of what looks like a medieval castle on the hillside.

Partially hidden by lush vegetation, it has always fooled me. Why on earth is there a great castle, presumably built by Edward I, between the well known Rhuddlan and Conway Castles? Because it was not built by Edward. It is not medieval.

Gothic Revivalism

Gwrych Castle was built by Lloyd Hesketh Bamford-Hesketh in the early 19th century and is a magnificent, eccentric shrine to Gothic Revivalism that was just beginning to take root in romantic Britons at the time.

Bamford-Hesketh was obsessed with the Welsh castles of Gwynedd, a true archaeological architect who analysed those old structures and wished to recreate the building techniques used by Edward’s and Llywelyn’s masons, like heating the lime before using it as cement.

Features are borrowed from all the great castles: Caernarvon, Conway and others. It was a fairy tale set of a man who had the money to make his dreams real.

I visited this week to look at the castle because it is at the very start of a new and exciting chapter.

Falling into disrepair

The family sold the castle to pay death duties in the mid-20th century and 50 years of ruination followed. One wealthy, absent American owner did nothing as Travellers took up residence and stripped it of metalwork, marble and fittings. It is utterly derelict. Developers tried to get permission to build a housing estate there.

In the 1990s, one local boy became fascinated by it. Mark Baker explored its ground, watching dumbstruck as it was vandalised before his eyes.

He went to school library, read everything on the castle, the site, the family and the architectural movement. He became ill with a rare bone disease and confined briefly to a wheel chair.

The library was a place where he could free his mind, stay active, forget that he was physically unable to join his mates on the rugby field. When he was confined to his bed he had his documents and drawings laid out around him.

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His health recovered and he had made himself the world’s greatest expert on his local castle. Humoured by his parents, he set up a charitable trust to preserve the castle. He was 12. He wrote to the Prince of Wales and the Prime Minister. Tony Blair sent back an encouraging letter and the Prince invited him to come and meet him.

Regenerating the site

Mark went to Ruthin where he monopolised a fascinated Prince during an official visit. Slowly he put together a plan to save the site. By 19 he had written a book on it. The Prince helped him talk to the right people. The trust started looking into grant giving bodies and negotiating with the site’s owners.

You can follow Dr Mark Baker on Twitter @markebaker.

Last week, twenty years after that 12 year old set up the charity, it took possession of the castle. It is now in public hands, for good. The next phase now begins. Stabilising the buildings, then restoring them to their former glory.

Mark powerfully reminded me that there is little hard work, time and intense focus cannot achieve. We are all lucky that Mark found his cause so early in life and realised that he wanted to devote himself to it.

Katie Wignall, founder of Look Up London, shines a light on the stories of Annie Besant, Annie Brewster and Sylia Pankhurst, several heroines who transformed London's East End.

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Mel Blanc, The Man of 1000 Voices 1981 - AMAZING TALENT !!

Mel Blanc did over a 1000 different Voices in over 5000 CARTOONS ! - UNIQUE GENIUS

Melvin Jerome Mel Blanc (May 30, 1908 -- July 10, 1989) was an American voice actor and comedian. Although he began his nearly six-decade-long career performing in radio commercials, Blanc is best remembered for his work with Warner Bros. during the Golden Age of American animation as the voice of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Tweety Bird, Sylvester the Cat, Yosemite Sam, Foghorn Leghorn, Marvin the Martian, Pepé Le Pew, Speedy Gonzales, the Tasmanian Devil, and many of the other characters from the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies theatrical cartoons. He later worked for Hanna-Barbera's television cartoons, most notably as the voice of Barney Rubble in The Flintstones and Mr. Spacely in The Jetsons. Having earned the nickname The Man of a Thousand Voices, Blanc is regarded as one of the most influential people in the voice-acting industry.

Hurrems Victory | Mera Sultan Urdu Dubbed

Hurrem's Victory | Mera Sultan Urdu Dubbed

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Valide Sultan knows the opportunity of Sultan Süleyman going to the expedition. He wants to cut the voice of Hurrem, which is rising more and more every day. He finds a suit for Hurrem. Hurrem is unaware of the situation. He is anxious to write a letter to Sultan Süleyman, whom he longs for.

Sultan Süleyman is on the way to Belgrade. At the intercepting stops along the way, the stages of the expedition are discussed. In the battle divan, different voices begin to emerge about the target of the expedition. Sultan Süleyman thinks that there are others who should listen before deciding.

Hurrem learns that he will be married to someone else and sent from Topkapı Palace. When he hears this, he has difficulty in controlling his nerves. Hürrem begins to flutter helplessly to stay in the palace. He finally claims to be pregnant at the cost of endangering his life. But he won't be able to convince Valide and the journeymen.

The Ottoman army attacked to take the castle of Zemun. Meanwhile, Sultan Süleyman was informed that the Hungarian king Layos was in the castle. The Ottoman army quickly seized the castle. But Sultan Suleiman does not want to stop until he catches King Layos. The death of Sultan Süleyman and Layos begins in a chase.
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ویلڈ سلطان اس مہم میں جانے والے سلطان سلیمان کا موقع جانتا ہے۔ وہ حرم کی آواز کو کاٹنا چاہتا ہے ، جو روز بروز بڑھتا ہی جارہا ہے۔ وہ حرم کے لئے سوٹ ڈھونڈتا ہے۔ حریم صورتحال سے ناواقف ہے۔ وہ سلطان سلیمان کو خط لکھنے کے لئے بے چین ہے ، جس کی وہ خواہش رکھتی ہے۔

سلطان سلیمان بیلگریڈ جارہے ہیں۔ راستے میں رکنے والے رکنے پر ، اس مہم کے مراحل پر تبادلہ خیال کیا جاتا ہے۔ جنگ کے دیوان میں ، اس مہم کے ہدف کے بارے میں مختلف آوازیں اٹھنے لگتی ہیں۔ سلطان سلیمان کا خیال ہے کہ اور بھی ہیں جن کو فیصلہ سنانے سے پہلے سننا چاہئے۔

حرم کو معلوم ہوا کہ اس کی شادی کسی اور سے ہوگی اور اسے ٹوپکا محل سے بھیجا جائے گا۔ جب وہ یہ سنتا ہے تو اسے اپنے اعصاب پر قابو پانے میں دشواری ہوتی ہے۔ محل میں رہنے کے لئے حریم بے بسی سے لہرانے لگا۔ وہ آخر کار اپنی زندگی کو خطرے میں ڈالنے کی قیمت پر حاملہ ہونے کا دعوی کرتا ہے۔ لیکن وہ والائد اور مسافروں کو راضی نہیں کر سکے گا۔

عثمانی فوج نے زیمون کے قلعے کو لینے کے لئے حملہ کیا۔ اسی دوران سلطان سلیمان کو اطلاع ملی کہ ہنگری کا بادشاہ لیوس محل میں ہے۔ عثمانی فوج نے جلدی سے قلعے پر قابو پالیا۔ لیکن سلطان سلیمان اس وقت تک رکنا نہیں چاہتے جب تک وہ کنگ لیوس کو پکڑ نہ لیں۔ سلطان سلیمان اور لیوس کی موت کا تعاقب ایک پیچھا سے ہوا۔
اضغط على القناة العربية:

Valide Sultan, Sultan Süleyman’ın sefere gitmesini fırsat bilir. Hürrem’in, her geçen gün daha fazla yükselmekte olan sesini kesmek ister. Hürrem’e münasip bir talip bulur. Hürrem ise durumdan habersiz. Özlemiyle yanıp tutuştuğu Sultan Süleyman’a mektup yazma telaşındadır.

Sultan Süleyman ise Belgrad yolundadır. Yol boyunca araya giren duraklarda, seferin aşamaları tartışılmaktadır. Savaş divanında, seferin hedefi konusunda farklı sesler çıkmaya başlar. Sultan Süleyman ise karar vermeden önce dinlemesi gereken başkaları olduğunu düşünmektedir.

Hürrem başkasıyla evlendirileceğini ve Topkapı sarayından gönderileceğini öğrenir. Bunu duymasıyla birlikte sinirlerine hakim olmakta zorlanır. Hürrem sarayda kalabilmek çaresizce çırpınmaya başlar. Sonunda hayatını tehlikeye atmak pahasına gebe olduğunu iddia eder. Ama Valide’yi ve kalfaları buna inandırması mümkün olmayacaktır.

Osmanlı ordusu Zemun kalesini almak üzere saldırıya geçer. Bu sırada Sultan Süleyman’a Macar kralı Layos’un da kalede olduğu haberi gelir. Osmanlı ordusu hızla kaleyi ele geçirir. Fakat Sultan Süleyman, kral Layos’u yakalayana kadar durmak istemez. Sultan Süleyman ve Layos arasında ölümüne bir kovalamaca başlar.
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Cop Begs for Her Life After Fugitive Pulls Out Gun

A police officer’s bodycam shows the moment when a suspect pulled a gun on her. The video shows Officer Brianna Tedesco walking down a dark road to check out a suspicious vehicle with out-of-state license plates. She questions the man behind the wheel, who claimed to be taking a nap. When Tedesco asks him to produce a driver’s license, he tells her that he doesn’t have one. What officer didn’t know at the time was that the man is a fugitive and wanted for murder.



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Seriously Insane Stunts That People Sadly Didnt Survive

Some people never stop chasing the adrenaline rush that only comes from performing the wildest and most dangerous stunts, and unfortunately, the risk is sometimes far greater than the reward. Here's a look at daredevils who tragically lost their lives doing insane stunts.

Most of us don't need to build a rocket in order to know that the Earth isn't flat. Still, there are some people who are convinced that it's all a big conspiracy that literally every scientist in the world is in on.

It seemed Mike Hughes was one of that handful of people who was convinced that the Earth is flat, but he wanted the rest of the world to be convinced, too. So he built a rocket, which he launched from the California desert. That's one way to find out whether or not the Earth is flat. Those remote cameras should tell you everything you need to know. Except. he didn't just send up cameras, he wanted to see the flat Earth with his own eyes. Unfortunately, his rocket crashed shortly after launch, and he was killed before he could reach the hoped-for altitude of 5,000 feet.

Hughes' publicist, Darren Shuster, told the New York Times after Hughes' death that Hughes didn't actually believe the Earth was flat. He said,

He was eccentric and believed in some government conspiracies, for sure, but it was a P.R. stunt.

Either way, it's not quite clear.

Regardless, Hughes wasn't an amateur daredevil. According to the BBC, he'd successfully completed a lower-altitude launch the year before his fatal attempt, and he set a Guinness World Record in 2002 for the longest limousine jump. So his fatal accident wasn't necessarily because he was an inexperienced daredevil, and there was definitely an element of very, very bad luck.

Watch the video for more Seriously Insane Stunts That People Sadly Didn't Survive.

#Stunts #Dangerous #Daredevil

Mike Hughes' Rocket | 0:00
Jessi Combs broke records | 1:44
Caleb Moore's X Games stunt | 2:39
Uli Emanuele's base jump | 3:48
Angela Madsen's fatal row | 4:46

Internet Money Talks Juice WRLD, B4 The Storm, & Label Passing On Lil Tecca | For The Record

Internet Money’s debut album 'B4 The Storm,' which includes songs from the likes of Juice WRLD, A Boogie wit da Hoodie, Don Toliver, Future, NAV and more, is set to drop this Friday. Members of the collective Taz Taylor, Nick Mira, Alec Wigdahl & TyFontaine all sat down with Genius' VP of Content Strategy Rob Markman ahead of the album release to discuss how the project came together. The group discussed how Internet Money got started, how they perfected the Juice WRLD and Trippie Redd collaboration, “Blastoff,” and what they learned from labels passing on artists like Lil Tecca.

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Trevor Daniel Falling | Open Mic

Trevor Daniel recently stopped by Genius for a live performance of “Falling,” which has racked up an impressive 10 million YouTube views within a week of its release. The track is produced by Taz Taylor, Charlie Handsome, and KC Supreme and appears on Trevor’s debut EP 'Homesick.'

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Pac-Man - Perfect Game 3,333,360

A perfect game of the original Pac-Man arcade game ends on board 256 with the maximum score possible: 3,333,360.

All dots, ghosts, and bonus symbols must be consumed to achieve a perfect score, and no deaths may occur until reaching the final board (i.e., the split screen). On the final board, the 5 extra men are intentionally sacrificed each death regenerates the 9 hidden dots on the right side of the split screen, allowing for an additional 90 points per man sacrificed.

Performed using WolfMAME 0.178 on 1/26/2017.

Total game time: 5h 25m 54s


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जब आप सोते हो तब आपके साथ क्या होता है ? | Things That Happen to Us When We Sleep - Analysis

Sleep is a naturally recurring state of mind and body, characterized by altered consciousness, relatively inhibited sensory activity, inhibition of nearly all voluntary muscles, and reduced interactions with surroundings. It is distinguished from wakefulness by a decreased ability to react to stimuli, but is more easily reversed than the state of being comatose. Sleep occurs in repeating periods, in which the body alternates between two distinct modes known as non-REM and REM sleep.

During sleep, most of the body's systems are in an anabolic state, helping to restore the immune, nervous, skeletal, and muscular systems these are vital processes that maintain mood, memory, and cognitive performance, and play a large role in the function of the endocrine and immune systems.

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The Great Gildersleeve: The Matchmaker / Leroy Runs Away / Auto Mechanics

The Great Gildersleeve (1941--1957), initially written by Leonard Lewis Levinson, was one of broadcast history's earliest spin-off programs. Built around Throckmorton Philharmonic Gildersleeve, a character who had been a staple on the classic radio situation comedy Fibber McGee and Molly, first introduced on Oct. 3, 1939, ep. #216. The Great Gildersleeve enjoyed its greatest success in the 1940s. Actor Harold Peary played the character during its transition from the parent show into the spin-off and later in a quartet of feature films released at the height of the show's popularity.

On Fibber McGee and Molly, Peary's Gildersleeve was a pompous windbag who became a consistent McGee nemesis. You're a haa-aa-aa-aard man, McGee! became a Gildersleeve catchphrase. The character was given several conflicting first names on Fibber McGee and Molly, and on one episode his middle name was revealed as Philharmonic. Gildy admits as much at the end of Gildersleeve's Diary on the Fibber McGee and Molly series (Oct. 22, 1940).

Premiering on August 31, 1941, The Great Gildersleeve moved the title character from the McGees' Wistful Vista to Summerfield, where Gildersleeve now oversaw his late brother-in-law's estate and took on the rearing of his orphaned niece and nephew, Marjorie (originally played by Lurene Tuttle and followed by Louise Erickson and Mary Lee Robb) and Leroy Forester (Walter Tetley). The household also included a cook named Birdie. Curiously, while Gildersleeve had occasionally spoken of his (never-present) wife in some Fibber episodes, in his own series the character was a confirmed bachelor.

In a striking forerunner to such later television hits as Bachelor Father and Family Affair, both of which are centered on well-to-do uncles taking in their deceased siblings' children, Gildersleeve was a bachelor raising two children while, at first, administering a girdle manufacturing company (If you want a better corset, of course, it's a Gildersleeve) and then for the bulk of the show's run, serving as Summerfield's water commissioner, between time with the ladies and nights with the boys. The Great Gildersleeve may have been the first broadcast show to be centered on a single parent balancing child-rearing, work, and a social life, done with taste and genuine wit, often at the expense of Gildersleeve's now slightly understated pomposity.

Many of the original episodes were co-written by John Whedon, father of Tom Whedon (who wrote The Golden Girls), and grandfather of Deadwood scripter Zack Whedon and Joss Whedon (creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly and Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog).

The key to the show was Peary, whose booming voice and facility with moans, groans, laughs, shudders and inflection was as close to body language and facial suggestion as a voice could get. Peary was so effective, and Gildersleeve became so familiar a character, that he was referenced and satirized periodically in other comedies and in a few cartoons.

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4 Strong EXERCISES To Become A Better Jungler! | League of Legends Jungle Guide

. 4 exercises that will help you become a BETTER player, improve as a jungler, and CLIMB in Season 11! . Coaching: . Gameplay channel: . Support with Patreon: . Stream: . Become a member! : . Discord:

Invading/Jungle Tracking:
Ganking Fundamentals:

An educational look at some exercises you can use to improve your first clears, your jungle tracking, your jungle decision making, and your ability to read and understand when to gank! By doing these you will not only improve at jungle, at league of legends, but also climb must faster in Season 11!

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Death and Rebirth ( as well as assorted tracks from

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✘ Munn - I Lost Myself (Lyrics)
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[Verse 1]
I lost myself that night
I threw it all away
Those are the things I've hated
Then I went and caved in

I'm a mess right now
My heart is in two places
Half is back at home
The other's off and racing

I've been
Running and running and running and running away
I know they'll catch me
Running and running and running two opposite ways

I can't let my past catch me now, me now
I can't let my past drag me down, me down

[Verse 2]
I lost myself that night
I threw it all away
Recall my mother's words
But it was far too late

I feel the burden now
It's weighing down my soul
And I can't catch my breath
'Cause these demons follow

I've been
Running and running and running and running away
I know they'll catch me
Running and running and running two opposite ways

I can't let my past catch me now, me now
I can't let my past drag me down, me down
I can't let my past catch me now, me now
I can't let my past drag me down, me down

Swear I've changed
But you don't care that
I'm not the same
You'll always haunt me

I swear I've changed
But you don't care that
I'm not the same

I can't let my past catch me now, me now
I can't let my past drag me down, me down
I can't let my past catch me now, me now
I can't let my past drag me down, me down

Tags: #Munn #ILostMyself #Lyrics

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TOP 5 Killer Bouncer By Shoaib Akhtar,pakistan bowling highlig,pak vs new zealand 1st odi highlights

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LIVE SCORECARD | TOURNAMENT HOMEThis article is about the sport. For the insect, see Cricket (insect). For other uses, see Cricket (disambiguation).
Cricketer redirects here. For other uses, see Cricketer (disambiguation).
Wankhede ICC WCF.jpg
A cricket game at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Highest governing body International Cricket Council
First played 16th century south-east England
Contact no
Team members 11 players per side (substitutes permitted in some circumstances)
Mixed gender yes, separate competitions
Type team sport, bat-and-ball
Equipment cricket ball, cricket bat, wicket (stumps, bails), various protective equipment
Venue cricket field
Country or region worldwide but most prominent in Australasia, Great Britain & Ireland, Indian sub-continent, southern Africa, West Indies
Olympic no (1900 Summer Olympics only)
Cricket is a bat-and-ball game played between two teams of eleven players each on a cricket field, at the centre of which is a rectangular 22-yard-long pitch with a target called the wicket (a set of three wooden stumps upon which two bails sit) at each end. Each phase of play is called an innings during which one team bats, attempting to score as many runs as possible, whilst their opponents field. Depending on the type of match, the teams have one or two innings apiece and, when the first innings ends, the teams swap roles for the next innings. Except in matches which result in a draw, the winning team is the one that scores the most runs, including any extras gained.

Before a match begins, the two team captains meet on the pitch for the toss (of a coin) to determine which team will bat first. Two batsmen and eleven fielders then enter the field and play begins when a member of the fielding team, known as the bowler, delivers (i.e., bowls) the ball from one end of the pitch towards the wicket at the other end, which is guarded by one of the batsmen, known as the striker.

In addition to the bowler, the fielding team includes the wicket-keeper, a specialist who stands behind the striker's wicket. The wicket-keeper is also the only player on the fielding side permitted to wear gloves. The nine other fielders are tactically deployed around the field by their captain, usually in consultation with the bowler.

The striker takes guard on a crease marked on the pitch four feet in front of the wicket. His role is to prevent the ball from hitting the stumps by using his bat and, simultaneously, to strike it well enough to score runs. The other batsman, known as the non-striker, waits at the opposite end of the pitch near the bowler. The bowler's objectives are to prevent the scoring of runs and to dismiss the batsman. A dismissed batsman, who is declared to be out, must leave the field to be replaced by a teammate. An over is a set of six deliveries bowled by the same bowler. The next over is bowled from the other end of the pitch by a different bowler.

The most common forms of dismissal are bowled, when the bowler hits the stumps directly with the ball and dislodges the bail(s) leg before wicket (lbw), when the batsman prevents


The house of Wittelsbach, one of the most ancient of the royal families of Europe, was divided, toward the end of the eighteenth century, into three branches. The old Elector, Karl Theodore, who died in 1799, was without issue, and his successor, Maximilian of the Pfalz-Zweibrücken line, became the founder of a new dynasty. Being the third son, there had seemed little prospect of succeeding to the throne in his earlier years, most of which were spent in the strictest seclusion at Mannheim and Zweibrücken. Later, he entered the French army and until the outbreak of the French Revolution was stationed as colonel at Strassburg, where the jovial warrior made himself most popular, not only in military but in social circles.

In 1785 he was married to Princess Augusta of Hesse-Darmstadt, by whom he had two sons, Ludwig (his successor) and Karl, and three daughters, one of whom died in childhood. Augusta, the second, married Eugene Beauharnais, while Charlotte, the youngest, became the fourth wife of Emperor Francis the First of Austria. Maximilian&rsquos first wife died early, and in 1796 he formed a second and equally happy alliance with the Princess Caroline of Baden, who presented him with six daughters, of whom three became queens of Saxony and Prussia, and the two youngest, the mothers of Emperor Francis Joseph of Austria and the Empress Elizabeth, respectively.

The branch of the Wittelsbachs to which Maximilian belonged was divided into two lines, both descending from the Count Palatine, Christian the First. A cousin, the Count Palatine Wilhelm of Zweibrücken-Birkenfeld, had hopes of securing the Electoral seat at Munich for himself, especially as ancient tradition required that a portion of the domain should fall to the share of the younger branch of the family. As Wilhelm had but one child, however, a son who was feeble-minded and under constant guardianship, an agreement was made between the cousins that in future there should be no division of the Wittelsbach possessions. Maximilian was to succeed to the Electorship of Bavaria undisturbed, in return for which the reigning sovereign was to treat the descendants of Count Wilhelm as his own. The younger branch was to rank equally with the older and to receive a large share of the ancestral possessions, with a handsome yearly income and the title of &ldquoDukes in Bavaria.&rdquo

In accordance with this agreement, Maximilian became Elector of Bavaria, which was raised by Napoleon to the dignity of a kingdom in 1806, and in 1818 granted a constitution by its sovereign. Maximilian was much beloved by his subjects and so simple and patriarchal in his dealings with them that he was generally known as the &ldquoCitizen King.&rdquo On his birthday, October 12, 1825, he was present at a ball given in his honor by the Russian ambassador, full of life and vigor as usual, and the next morning was found dead in his severely simple bedchamber at Schloss Nymphenburg.

Duke Wilhelm of Birkenfeld long survived him, and it now devolved upon the new King, Ludwig the First, to carry out the family compact. Meanwhile Wilhelm&rsquos son, Duke Pius, had also died, leaving one son, Duke Max. Almost from the birth of this prince it had been decided that he should marry King Maximilian&rsquos youngest daughter Ludovica, who was born the same year, and on the ninth of September, 1828, the marriage was duly celebrated, three months before the bridegroom had reached his twentieth year. Although dictated by family reasons, this marriage proved a remarkably happy one. The two young people had grown up together, knowing that they were to be united for life, and were sincerely attached to each other. Their honeymoon was spent in the Bavarian Alps with Ludovica&rsquos mother, the widowed Queen Caroline, at her Summer home at Tegernsee. At the time of the King&rsquos death, two of the daughters were still unmarried and the constant companions of their mother, to whom they were devoted, and Ludovica&rsquos marriage made no change in their life except that a son-in-law was added to the family circle.

Duke Max at that time was called the handsomest prince in Europe. He was slender and well built, with a distinguished ease of manner and a graciousness that won the hearts of all with whom he came in contact, regardless of class or station. Naturally gay and light-hearted, fond of pleasure and society, an accomplished musician and composer, with a passion for nature and out-of-door life, it is small wonder that he was universally adored. Even his mother-in-law, to whose age and habits his lack of seriousness did not at first especially appeal, was completely won by his devotion to her and her daughter, and his constant efforts to divert and entertain them. When the famous violinist, Paganini, came to Munich, Max invited him to visit the castle at Tegernsee and sent one of the royal carriages to meet him. He often arranged amateur concerts, to which all the neighboring families were invited, and whiled away the long Autumn evenings playing and singing with his friend Petzmacher, the zither-player.

Ludovica was very different from her husband. She disliked meeting people, cared nothing for social life or gayety, and had an abhorrence for noise or confusion of any kind. Max was a great admirer of the fair sex and made no concealment of the fact. He had the true artist nature, sanguine, impulsive, and susceptible, and must have caused the Duchess many unhappy hours, innocent as most of the love affairs attributed to him seem to have been. Whatever her feelings were, however, she carefully concealed them from the eyes of the world. To all appearances the relations between her and her husband were most harmonious. In many ways, too, their opposite temperaments were of mutual advantage. His cheerfulness and careless gayety often banished the fits of melancholy to which she was subject, while her firmness and good sense proved a balance to his volatile nature, and they were united in their love of nature and country life.

The first three years of their marriage were childless, but in 1831 the Duchess presented her husband with an heir, who was named Ludwig, for the King. As time went on the family circle increased. The oldest daughter, Hélène, was born in 1834. On Christmas Eve of 1837, Elizabeth came into the world, followed, in the Summer of 1839, by a second son, Karl Theodore. On the fourth of October, 1841, at Possenhofen, the Duchess gave birth to her third daughter, Maria Sophia Amalia, the future Queen of Naples. Two years later, Mathilde Ludovica was born. On the twenty-second of February, 1847, the youngest daughter of the ducal pair, Sophie Charlotte Augusta, made her appearance at Munich, and on the seventh of December, 1849, their youngest son, Maximilian Emanuel was born, also in Munich.

Nearly all these children were destined to bring sorrow or anxiety to their parents. The Duke&rsquos mercurial nature helped him to bear and rise above these troubles, but they sank deep into Ludovica&rsquos heart. But she was sustained by her religion and a firm faith in Providence, whose decrees she bore with dignity and patience. Little as she spoke of it, devotion to her children was the ruling passion of her life. She never was diverted, by any consideration, from what she felt to be her duty toward them and while her methods of training did not bear equal fruit with all, they loved her devotedly in return and always regarded her with the deepest respect and confidence.


Sailing towards Leyte Gulf from left to right CA Chikuma, BB Nagato, BC Haruna, BC Kongo and CA Tone.

Approach of the Fleets to Leyte Gulf

The Battle for Leyte Gulf, October 23–25, 1944

Admiral Halsey, reacting to the presence of the IJN Center Force, which consisted of 5 battleships, 9 cruisers, and 13 destroyers, ordered McCain, then 600 miles east of the Philippines, en route to Ulithi, to reverse course and refuel in order to be ready for whatever might develop. He ordered Sherman and Davison to close on Bogan’s group, off San Bernardino Strait, and gave all three groups their combat orders in one word, “Strike!”

Davison’s search planes discovered and attacked the Southern Force. The plotting officers at CinCPac headquarters, drawing their blue and orange lines on the chart, noted that, by closing on Bogan, Davison would be in the optimum position to attack the Center Force, but his planes would no longer be able to reach the Southern Force. Admiral Kinkaid must have noted the same thing, for he took it on himself to engage the Southern Force with his surface units. He sent Admiral Oldendorf, commanding his fire-support ships, a message, listing Halsey, Nimitz, and King as information addressees: “Prepare for night engagement. Enemy force estimated 2 battleships, 4 heavy cruisers, 4 light cruisers, 10 destroyers reported under attack by our carrier planes in eastern Sulu Sea at 0910, 24 Oct. Enemy can arrive Leyte Gulf tonight.”

Sherman, commanding Task Group 38.3, could not comply with Halsey’s order to close on Bogan because an enemy air attack had left his light carrier Princeton afire and dead in the water. The damage to the Princeton was bad news, indeed, but to Halsey it was no excuse for neglecting the attack mission he had assigned. He radioed Mitscher, who was with Sherman’s group: “Assume ComTaskGroup 38.3 is striking large enemy force near Mindoro. Advise results of strike earliest possible.”

To Nimitz it was obvious that a piece of the Japanese puzzle was missing: the enemy would hardly commit so much surface strength in an area guarded by an American carrier force unless he intended to use his own carriers. Those carriers were known to have been training in Japan’s Inland Sea, and Nimitz assumed that they were coming down from the north under Ozawa to form a Northern Force which, together with the Southern Force and the Center Force, would attempt a triple attack on Leyte Gulf. Halsey evidently had come to the same conclusion, for at 1:34 p.m. he radioed Mitscher: “Enemy carrier strength not located. Keep area to north under observation.”

At 3:12 Halsey, listing CominCh and CinCPac as information addressees, sent his task group commanders a message that Nimitz found highly gratifying. Headed “Battle Plan,” it announced that a Task Force 34 would be formed, consisting of 4 battleships, including his flagship New Jersey, 2 heavy cruisers, 3 light cruisers, and 14 destroyers—all drawn from Bogan’s and Davison’s task groups. Vice Admiral Willis A. Lee was to command the new task force, which would “engage decisively at long ranges,” while the carriers kept clear of the surface fighting.

CinCPac and his staff judged this the proper tactic to meet the situation—pulling out of the carrier screens a surface force to engage an enemy surface force, while retaining supporting air power in the background. Although Kinkaid was not an addressee of Halsey’s message, he knew about it because his communicators had intercepted it and shown it to him. Naturally, he, Mitscher, Nimitz, and King all assumed that Halsey would order his plan executed—possibly by short-range voice radio since the two task groups involved were close together.

At about 4:00 p.m. Mitscher notified Halsey that a magazine in the burning Princeton had exploded, damaging the cruiser Birmingham and two destroyers that were alongside fighting the carrier’s fires. The Birmingham’s casualties were severe, estimated at 150 killed and 400 wounded. Nimitz wondered why Sherman had risked such a valuable and heavily manned vessel as a cruiser to do the sort of rescue work ordinarily assigned to destroyers.

In the late afternoon Mitscher radioed Halsey that Sherman’s search planes had located the Northern Force, evidently in two sections, and that the carrier section was some 180 miles east of the northern tip of Luzon. In the circumstances he recommended scuttling the Princeton, whose flames might serve as a beacon for enemy planes after dark. Halsey told him to use his discretion about the Princeton, After a further exchange, in which Mitscher reported the Princeton scuttled, Halsey informed Nimitz and MacArthur that the enemy carrier force had been sighted—information that Nimitz had already obtained through intercepts.

At 8:24 p.m. Halsey sent a message to Kinkaid, with CominCh and CinCPac as information addressees. He gave the location, course, and speed of the Center Force, which suggested that it was headed for San Bernardino Strait and could pass through in a few hours. Strike reports, however, indicated that the Center Force had been heavily damaged. Halsey concluded: “Am proceeding north with three groups to attack enemy carrier force at dawn.” At Pearl Harbor it was assumed that this meant three carrier groups, Task Force 34, the surface group, being formed and left behind.

Nobody at CinCPac headquarters was surprised at Halsey’s northward dash. Given a choice of objectives, he could always be expected to go after carriers, the warships with the longest reach and the hardest punch. He was frustrated at having missed a chance to get at the carriers in the Battle of the Coral Sea and again in the Battle of Midway. He had condemned Spruance’s failure to go after the carriers on the night of June 18–19. Lastly, he could hardly do otherwise than go charging off after the toughest enemy force, because he had come to identify himself with the ferocious character invented by the press: “Bull” Halsey, Nemesis of the Japs. It was predictable, too, that he would not head north until it was dark, so as not to reveal his intention to any snooping enemy planes, and then he would steam toward the enemy carriers through the night, in order to cancel the enemy’s advantage in outranging the Americans with their planes.

Of course, the Japanese Center Force, damaged or not, also had to be considered, for unless something stopped it, it would soon have passed through San Bernardino Strait and be in the Pacific, heading along the east coast of Samar for Leyte Gulf. Admiral Spruance, looking at the chart, placed his hand on it just to east of the strait and said softly, as if to himself, “If I were there, I would keep my force right there.” It is not likely that many naval aviators would have agreed with him. To remain so near enemy airfields could invite shuttle-bombing by an enemy carrier force. While fighting a battle, Spruance could hardly have cratered the complex of airfields on Luzon, as he had cratered the few on Rota and Guam during the Battle of the Philippine Sea.

Certainly it was comforting to know that Halsey had had the wisdom to leave Task Force 34 behind to guard San Bernardino Strait. One nagging question, however, was whether he was wise to lead all three of his available carrier groups against the Northern Force. That move left Admiral Lee without any air support, as he opposed an enemy that might be supported by planes from Luzon. Nimitz must have considered this problem, but he kept hands off. In the first American carrier counterattack of the war, he had learned from Halsey himself the wise practice of not interfering with the man at the scene.

Toward dawn on October 25, two messages came into CinCPac headquarters almost simultaneously. One was from Halsey, who, still disregarding radio silence, reported that one of his night snoopers had contacted the enemy carrier force 100 miles north of his own northbound force. Halsey had succeeded in canceling the enemy’s advantage by bringing him before dawn well within the attack range of the American carrier planes.

The second message was from Kinkaid. At anchor in Leyte Gulf, he had no need to observe radio silence. Reporting on Oldendorf’s operations, the dispatch read: “Our surface forces are engaging enemy surface forces in Surigao Strait and southern Leyte Gulf.” Subsequent dispatches from Kinkaid described the progress of the battle. Sent at 4:12 a.m.: “Enemy force sighted in strait by PT boats about 0200 I, arrived entrance gulf about 0300 I. Consists of 2 battleships, 3 cruisers, and destroyers. Question: Is TF 34 guarding San Bernardino Strait?” Sent at 6:23: “About 0500 I, 25 enemy surface vessels Surigao Strait pursued by our light forces.” Sent at 7:03: “At 0645 I 25th, our forces closing to polish off four Nip cripples near Kanihaan Island, Surigao Strait.”

Obviously the Seventh Fleet gunnery vessels had won a resounding victory over the enemy’s Southern Force. This was cheerful news indeed. Still, Nimitz was worried. The course and speed of the Center Force, as given in Halsey’s 8:24 message to Kinkaid, should have carried it through San Bernardino Strait a little after midnight. If Task Force 34 had been waiting outside the strait, there should have been a night battle. On the other hand,

Admiral Lee, as Nimitz knew, had developed a distaste for night combat in the battleship night action of the Battle of Guadalcanal. Perhaps Lee had managed somehow to hold off till dawn. Now the sun had risen over the Philippines, but there was still no word from him. If the Center Force had met no opposition, it could be east of Samar heading straight for Leyte Gulf. The only ships that might challenge it in that area were the three little escort carrier units, Taffy 1, 2, and 3.

A suspicion was growing in Nimitz’s mind that Task Force 34 had not been formed after all, or that, if it had been formed, it had not been left behind on October 24. Halsey in his battle plan had assigned his own flagship New Jersey to that force, yet in the 8:24 dispatch he had said: “Am proceeding north with three groups.” That he personally had gone north with three groups was indicated by his contact report, which concluded, “Own force in three groups concentrated.” Nimitz knew that he was not alone in his concern Kinkaid’s inquiry about Task Force 34 showed that he too wanted assurance.

Nimitz buzzed for his assistant chief of staff. When Captain Bernard Austin entered his office, Nimitz asked him if there were any dispatches regarding the situation off the Philippines that he had not seen. Austin replied that he knew of none and added, “Will you tell me in particular what you are looking for?”

“I’m very concerned,” replied Nimitz, “because nothing I have seen indicates that Admiral Halsey has left San Bernardino guarded against Japanese units coming through there and getting our ships off Leyte.”

“Well, Admiral,” said Austin, “that is an unclear point in dispatches, and several other people are wondering the same thing.”

“If anything comes in,” said Nimitz, “let me know right away.”

“Aye, aye, sir,” said Austin and left the room.

Admiral Nimitz sounded a good many buzzers that morning in his search for information and opinions. About the third time he called in Austin, the latter got up his courage sufficiently to suggest that Nimitz ask Halsey if he had left any force to guard San Bernardino. “That’s what you want to know,” said Austin. “Why don’t you ask him?”

Nimitz thought a moment and then gave Austin the expected answer—he did not want to send any dispatch that would directly or indirectly influence the responsible tactical commander in the tactical use of his forces.

Out in the Philippine area about this time, communicators were startled to intercept a dispatch in plain English. The sender was Rear Admiral Clifton A. F. Sprague, the commander of Task Unit 77.4.3, known as Taffy 3, northernmost of the three Seventh Fleet escort carrier units stationed outside Leyte Gulf. This message, addressed to Commander, Third Fleet, and Commander, Task Force 34, read: “Enemy battleships and cruisers 15 miles astern this unit and firing on it. My position is 80 miles bearing 060 from Homonhon Island.” Taffy 3’s bearing and distance from Homonhon, which is at the mouth of Leyte Gulf, placed it due east of Samar.

Taffy 3’s call for help was not heard at Pearl Harbor. It was soon followed, however, by an encoded message from Kinkaid to Halsey. Sent by the Wasatch’s powerful transmitter, this message was read by both Admiral Nimitz and Admiral King: “About 0700 CTU 77.4.3 reported under fire from enemy battleships and cruisers in position 11-4, 126-25. Evidently came through San Bernardino Strait during the night. Request immediate air strike. Also request support from heavy ships. My old battleships low in ammunition.”

Kinkaid followed this message almost immediately by another to Commander, Third Fleet, this time in plain English—evidently intended as much to frighten the Japanese as to prod Halsey into action. This message read : “Enemy force attacking our escort carriers composed of 4 battleships, 8 cruisers, and other ships. Request Lee proceed top speed cover Leyte. Request immediate strike by fast carriers.”

Kinkaid continued to call on Halsey and Lee for help. “Fast battleships are urgently needed immediately at Leyte Gulf,” he cried by radio. Nearly an hour later, he was signaling, “My situation is critical. Fast battleships and support by carrier strikes may be able to keep enemy from destroying escort carriers and entering Leyte.”

Evidently these cries for help were not reaching the Lexington, for Admiral Mitscher was notifying Admiral McCain that Task Force 38 was attacking four enemy carriers. They were reaching the senior commands, however. At Pearl Harbor the usually serene Nimitz was pacing the floor. In Washington Admiral King was pacing, too—and swearing.

Finally at 8:48 a.m. Halsey indicated his awareness of the situation off Samar. It was later learned that Kinkaid’s dispatches had reached him after much delay and confusingly out of sequence. Halsey’s response was to order McCain to proceed at best possible speed toward Samar and strike the enemy force, whose position he gave. To Kinkaid he signaled: “Am now engaging enemy carrier force. Task Group 38.1 with 5 carriers and 4 heavy cruisers has been ordered to assist you immediately.” He gave McCain’s estimated position, which was nearly 300 miles northeast of the beleaguered Taffy 3, and his own, which was more than 350 miles due north. The implication was that help from McCain’s Task Group 38.1 would be considerably delayed and that timely help from the rest of Task Force 38 was out of the question.

Halsey’s message to McCain answered the main question in Nimitz’s mind. Had Task Force 34 been anywhere near Samar, Halsey would have ordered Lee to attack the enemy that was attacking Taffy 3. He would probably have ordered McCain to attack also, but he would certainly have signaled Lee. That he did not implied that Lee was with Halsey. There was a possibility that Task Force 34 had never been formed, but Nimitz conjectured otherwise. Knowing Halsey, he was convinced that Halsey had formed it that morning and was now in it, forging out ahead of the carrier groups to fight an old-fashioned surface battle with stragglers and with the cripples left by Mitscher’s carrier planes.

Austin, who had brought the latest dispatches to Nimitz, was several miles behind his chief’s thinking. He could see that the admiral was perturbed, and he concluded that he was still wondering where Task Force 34 was. Trying to be helpful, he suggested, “Admiral, couldn’t you just ask Admiral Halsey the simple question: Where is Task Force 34?”

Nimitz thought for a minute and then said, “Go out and write it up. That’s a good idea.”

Austin thought the question was intended as a simple inquiry, but Nimitz was using it as a nudge. What Nimitz meant was: “Where ought Task Force 34 to be—and hadn’t it better get the hell there as fast as possible?” He was sure that Halsey would take the hint. Now, in Nimitz’s considered opinion, these were extraordinary circumstances that justified his interfering with the man on the scene.

Because Nimitz’s Task Force 34 message became famous, or notorious, and because it produced a remarkable effect on Halsey, it is interesting to trace its progress to the addressee. Captain Austin went to his office and dictated the message to his yeoman: “Where is Task Force 34? From Admiral Nimitz to Commander Third Fleet, with information to Admiral King and Admiral Kinkaid.”

The yeoman, having caught a certain emphasis in his boss’s voice and feeling that he ought to indicate the emphasis in the message, stuck in the words “RPT [repeat] where is.” He then took the message down to the communication department, Jack Redman’s domain, and handed it to an ensign on duty. The ensign prepared the dispatch for transmission. He changed the words Admiral Nimitz to CinCPac, Admiral King to CominCh, and Admiral Kinkaid to CTF 77, added padding, and assigned a date-time group, 250044, meaning 44 minutes past midnight, Greenwich time, on the 25th of the month (9:44 a.m. in the Philippines).

Padding consisted of nonsense phrases placed at both ends of encrypted radio messages to bury the opening and closing words which, because they tended to be stereotyped, might provide easy points of attack for enemy cryptanalysts. The rules for padding specified that it may not consist of familiar words or quotations, it must be separated from the text by double consonants, and it must not be susceptible to being read as part of the message.

At this point we shall digress to point out that October 25 is no ordinary day in military history. For one thing, it is Saint Crispin’s Day, the date of the Battle of Agincourt (1415). It is also the date of the Battle of Balaklava (1854). The latter was marked by the magnificent, futile charge of the Light Brigade, of which Tennyson wrote:

When can their glory fade?

O the wild charge they made!

Honour the charge they made!

Did the ensign who prepared Nimitz’s dispatch remember that this was Balaklava Day and recall the lines of Tennyson? It would not be too surprising if he did, for English professors and students of literature tend to be attracted, or assigned, to communications. If our anonymous ensign did remember the Light Brigade, he must have compared its charge into the teeth of the Russian guns with Taffy 3’s combat with the battleship force, the story of which had been coming in over his desk in dispatches all that morning. The padding he wrote at the beginning of Nimitz’s message, “Turkey trots to water,” was nonsensical enough, but his end padding, “The world wonders,” echoed Tennyson. Perhaps it was an unconscious echo, because when he was called on the carpet about it, he said, “It was just something that popped into my head.”

Admiral Halsey had a standing order that, when he was in his flagship New Jersey and a “hot” message came in addressed to him, the communicators were not to take time transferring it to a dispatch form but were to rush it to flag country as quickly as possible by the pneumatic tube. When Admiral Nimitz’s message was deciphered in the New Jersey’s communication department, a yeoman tore the strip off the ciphering machine and handed it to Ensign Burton Goldstein, who realized at a glance that this was a message that should go to Halsey without delay. He routinely ripped off the opening padding, but the end padding puzzled him. Although it was separated from the rest of the dispatch by a double consonant, it read devilishly like a part of the message. Goldstein showed the strip to his superior, Lieutenant Charles Fox, who advised him to send it on with the words attached. The liaison officer in flag country, said Fox, could point out to the admiral that the concluding phrase was probably padding.

So up the tube went the strip. The liaison officer plucked it out of the holder, noted that it was addressed to Commander, Third Fleet, and immediately handed it to Halsey. It read:


Halsey, not accustomed to seeing padding, took the final phrase to be part of the message. It looked to him like heavy-handed sarcasm, with King and Kinkaid called in to witness his humiliation.

“I was stunned as if I had been struck in the face,” recalled Halsey. “The paper rattled in my hands. I snatched off my cap, threw it on the deck, and shouted something that I am ashamed to remember. Mick Carney rushed over and grabbed my arm: ‘Stop it! What the hell’s the matter with you? Pull yourself together!’

“I gave him the dispatch and turned my back. I was so mad I couldn’t talk. It was utterly impossible for me to believe that Chester Nimitz would send me such an insult.”

Admiral Nimitz’s surmise was correct. Halsey had formed Task Force 34 that morning it included all six of his fast battleships, and with it he had forged ahead to attack stragglers and finish off cripples. After brooding for an hour over the supposed insult from CinCPac, Halsey angrily ordered Task Force 34 to reverse course from due north to due south. “For me,” he later wrote, “one of the biggest battles of the war was off, and what has been called ‘the Battle of Bull’s Run’ was on.”

As Halsey passed Task Force 38, which was still northbound, he picked up Bogan’s Task Group 38.2 to provide air cover for Task Force 34 and detached from Task Force 34 four cruisers and ten destroyers to provide additional surface support for the carriers remaining under Mitscher. To CinCPac he reported: “Your 250044. TF 34 with me engaging enemy carrier force. Am now proceeding with TG 38.2 and all fast battleships to reinforce Kinkaid. 1 enemy carrier sunk. 2 carriers dead in water. No damage own force. . . . TG 38.1 already ordered assist Kinkaid immediately.”

To Kinkaid, Halsey radioed: “I am proceeding toward Leyte with Task Group 38.2 and 6 fast battleships. My position, course, and speed later, but do not expect arrive before 0800 tomorrow.”

Meanwhile, Kinkaid continued to sound off by radio. First, he reported that the Center Force had turned away, then that it was threatening Leyte Gulf again. The enemy force was, in fact, retiring. To intercept it, Halsey detached his fastest ships, 2 battleships, 3 cruisers, and 8 destroyers, and with these sped ahead. When Halsey reached the vicinity of San Bernardino Strait a little past midnight, the only ship of the Center Force that had not passed back through the strait was a destroyer that had lingered behind to pick up Japanese survivors of the battle with Taffy 3. Halsey’s cruisers and destroyers darted ahead and sank this lone vessel with gunfire and torpedoes. His fast battleships had steamed 300 miles north and 300 miles back south between the two main enemy forces without making contact with either.

Afterward, when U. S. naval officers reviewed the Battle for Leyte Gulf, they gave each of the four main actions a name. They called the air attacks made on the Center Force as it plowed its way eastward on October 24 toward San Bernardino the Battle of the Sibuyan Sea. In this phase, Halsey’s carrier planes put a heavy cruiser out of action, damaged several other ships, and sank the superbattleship Musashi.

The Southern Force was actually two enemy groups that never got together. The first group, consisting of 2 battleships, 1 heavy cruiser, and 4 destroyers, was nearly annihilated in the Battle of Surigao Strait, fought before dawn on October 25. Oldendorf had set a trap for it by lining the sides of the strait with his destroyers and PT boats and placing his battleships and cruisers on T-capping courses across its northern end. The second Japanese group, seeing what happened to the first, prudently withdrew.

The action, fought a few hours later, between the Center Force and Taffy 3 was named the Battle off Samar. The Center Force opened fire on the six jeep carriers of this unit, sinking the Gambier Bay and heavily damaging two others. The unit’s destroyers and destroyer escorts made smoke and courageously counterattacked with torpedoes. Three of these vessels were sunk by gunfire, but the enemy was thrown into confusion. Planes from the Taffies and from Leyte struck at the Center Force, sinking three of its cruisers and inducing the remainder of the force to retire. In the afternoon of October 25 aircraft from McCain’s Task Group 38.1 attacked the Center Force but did little damage. Striking from extreme range, they were hampered by wing tanks and were obliged to carry bombs instead of the heavier torpedoes. That same afternoon Japanese pilots, flying land-based planes, crashed into five carriers of Taffy 3 and nearby Taffy 1, heavily damaging all and causing one to sink. These suicide, or kamikaze, attacks were the beginning of a development that was ominous for the Americans.

Task Force 38’s attack on the Northern Force was called the Battle off Cape Engaño. In this operation, U.S. carrier planes sank the fleet carrier Zuikaku, last of the Pearl Harbor raiders, three light carriers, and two destroyers. They also damaged a cruiser, which was sunk by an American submarine as she limped homeward.

Because the Northern Force made no counterattack and its carriers appeared almost bare of planes, some officers concluded that it was as helpless as the Combined Fleet had been two years earlier and was being used merely to lure Halsey away from Leyte so that the Southern and Center forces could close in on American shipping in the gulf. After the war the Japanese confirmed that this conclusion was correct. Their carriers had lost most of their planes in the Battle of the Philippine Sea. Any Japanese fleet aviators who had attained proficiency after that time had been sacrificed in trying to protect the Formosan bases from Halsey’s carrier attacks.

As long as he lived, Admiral Halsey rejected all evidence and every assertion that the Northern Force was bait. The notion that he had been lured away to the north did not sit well with him.

During the cocktail hour and at dinner in Admiral Nimitz’s quarters on the evening of October 25 (east longitude date), discussion of the day’s battles was lively and sometimes caustic. In addition to high-ranking officers present on this occasion, there was a lieutenant commander who, having just relinquished command of a submarine, was en route to the United States for leave. This young man was by no means awed into silence by the age and rank of the other guests. He felt free to express his opinions in such lofty company for the very good reason that his name happened to be Chester W. Nimitz, Jr.

Chet was amazed that CinCPac and his staff had let hours pass while they wondered whether Task Force 34 was covering San Bernardino Strait. Why, he asked, had they not asked Admiral Halsey point-blank where it was and told him to send it forthwith to wherever they wanted it to be. Patiently Admiral Nimitz explained that he and his staff were thousands of miles away from the operational area, and it was his policy to avoid like the plague interfering with the judgment of the tactical commander at the scene of action.

Later in the evening someone read or quoted the directive in Op Plan 8-44 specifying that if Halsey saw an opportunity to destroy a major portion of the enemy fleet, such destruction would become his primary task. Chet was again surprised. In signing such an order, he said brightly, Admiral Nimitz was practically giving Admiral Halsey carte blanche to abandon the beachhead. He said it was a mistake to offer Halsey any alternative whatever to supporting the landings in Leyte Gulf. “It’s your fault,” he concluded, looking at his father.

The room fell silent. This was too much. The elder Nimitz turned a bleak gaze upon his impertinent offspring. “That’s your opinion,” he said, ending the discussion.

At a little after 7:00 p.m. (Philippine time), Kinkaid, by then reasonably sure that the Center Force was retiring, expressed his appreciation to the Tames by radio: “For your magnificent performance of today my admiration knows no bounds. You have carried a load that only fleet carriers could be expected to carry. Well done. Kinkaid.”

At 9:26 p.m., Halsey, still southbound with Task Force 34, radioed Nimitz (date-time group 251226): “It can be announced with assurance that the Japanese navy has been beaten, routed, and broken by the Third and Seventh Fleets.” Nimitz passed the message to the Navy Department, and King told him not to release it because Halsey had not had sufficient time or opportunity to evaluate the situation completely. Secretary Forrestal concurred with King but nevertheless informed President Roosevelt.

The Navy’s hand was forced by MacArthur, who, on his own, released a victory communiqué to the Reuters news agency. Harry Hopkins, special assistant to the President, called Forrestal and suggested that Halsey’s message be given to the press. Forrestal was, he said, dubious about releasing good news without being absolutely certain of the facts. Hopkins thought it was worth taking a chance. Consequently, at six o’clock on the evening of October 25 (Washington time), the President called in the White House reporters and read them a paraphrase of Halsey’s victory message to Nimitz.

When the facts became known, they more than justified Halsey’s optimism. Not only had the Japanese been thwarted in their scheme to sink American shipping in Leyte Gulf, but they had lost 306,000 tons of their own combat ships—3 battleships, 4 carriers, 10 cruisers, and 9 destroyers. The Americans, at a cost of 37,000 tons of warships—1 light carrier, 2 escort carriers, 2 destroyers, and 1 destroyer escort—had utterly destroyed Japan’s capacity to wage another fleet battle. In short, they had won uncontested command of the Pacific Ocean.

At 10:17 in the evening of the 25th, Halsey sent a top-secret message (date-time group 251317) to Nimitz and King explaining his tactics:

Searches by my carrier planes revealed the presence of the Northern carrier force on the afternoon of 24 October, which completed the picture of all enemy naval forces. As it seemed childish to me to guard statically San Bernardino Strait, I concentrated TF 38 during the night and steamed north to attack the Northern Force at dawn. I believed that the Center Force had been so heavily damaged in the Sibuyan Sea that it could no longer be considered a serious menace to Seventh Fleet.

In a letter to King, dated October 28 and marked PERSONAL and TOP SECRET, Nimitz observed:

I am greatly pleased with the Fleet operations of the past week with two exceptions. My first exception and regret is that so valuable a unit as the BIRMINGHAM was taken alongside the damaged PRINCETON instead of relying on destroyers for the rescue, salvage, and fire fighting operation. My second exception and regret is that the fast battleships were not left in the vicinity of Samar when Task Force 38 started after the striking force reported to be in the north end of the Philippines Sea, and composed of carriers, two battleships, cruisers and destroyers in support. It never occurred to me that Halsey, knowing the composition of the ships in the Sibuyan Sea, would leave San Bernardino Strait unguarded, even though the Jap detachments in the Sibuyan Sea had been reported seriously damaged. That Halsey feels that he is in a defensive position is indicated in his top secret despatch 251317.

That the San Bernardino detachment of the Japanese Fleet, which included the YAMATO and the MUSASHI, did not completely destroy all of the escort carriers and their accompanying screen is nothing short of special dispensation from the Lord Almighty although it can be accepted that the damage the Japs had received the day before in the Sibuyan Sea undoubtedly affected their ability to steam and shoot when they attacked Sprague’s escort carriers.

Nimitz was careful not to criticize Halsey publicly or to permit criticism of him in any records that might subsequently be made public. When Captain Ralph Parker, head of the CinCPac’s Analytical Section, sharply condemned Halsey’s tactics in the official CinCPac report of the battle, Nimitz refused to sign the report. He sent it back with a note written across it: “What are you trying to do, Parker, start another Sampson-Schley controversy? Tone this down. I’ll leave it to you.”

Halsey reported in person to Admiral King the following January, and his first words were, “I made a mistake in that battle.”

King held up his hand. “You don’t have to tell me any more,” he said. “You’ve got a green light on everything you did.”

In his autobiography, however, King criticized both Halsey and Kinkaid. He attributed “the element of surprise in the Battle of Samar not only to Halsey’s absence in the north but also to Kinkaid’s failure to use his own squadrons for search at a crucial moment.”

Rarely in military history have two successive battles presented more similar tactical problems than those of the Philippine Sea and Leyte Gulf, and rarely have the commanders responded so differently. Long afterward Halsey sadly suggested that it might have been better if he had commanded in the Philippine Sea and Spruance at Leyte Gulf.

One reason why historians have treated Halsey’s blunder so gently is that his earlier advice had led to the speeding up of the timetable for action against the Philippines. Had the Leyte invasion taken place on December 20, as originally scheduled, Ozawa would have had time to train his aviators enough to give the Americans a real fight. Since Halsey was responsible for the speed-up, his strategic insight more than offset his tactical lapse.

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Face to Face with the Barbarians

“And now let all those come who love Paradise, the place of quiet, the place of safety, the place of eternal happiness, the place where the Barbarian need be feared no more.” – Sermon upon the Barbarian Persecution, vii, 9.

The Sack of Rome

During June of the year 403, an astonishing event convulsed the former capital of the Empire. The youthful Honorius, attended by the regent Stilicho, came there to celebrate his triumph over Alaric and the Gothic army, defeated at Pollentia.

The pageantry of a triumph was indeed a very astonishing sight for the Romans of that period. They had got so unused to them! And no less wonderful was the presence of the Emperor at the Palatine. Since Constantine’s reign, the Imperial palaces had been deserted. They had hardly been visited four times in a century by their master.

Rome had never got reconciled to the desertion of her princes. When the Court was moved to Milan, and then to Ravenna, she felt she had been uncrowned. Time after time the Senate appealed to Honorius to shew himself, at least, to his Roman subjects, since political reasons were against his dwelling among them. This journey was always put off. The truth is, the Christian Cæsars did not like Rome, and mistrusted her still half-pagan Senate and people. It needed this unhoped-for victory to bring Honorius and his councillors to make up their minds. The feeling of a common danger had for the moment drawn the two opposing religions together, and here they were apparently making friends in the same patriotic delight. Old hates were forgotten. In fact, the pagan aristocracy had hopes of better treatment from Stilicho. On account of all these reasons, the triumphant Cæsar was received at Rome with delirious joy.

The Court, upon leaving Ravenna, had crossed the Apennines. A halt was called on the banks of the Clitumnus, where in ancient times the great white herds were found which were sacrificed at the Capitol during a triumph. But the gods of the land had fallen there would be no opiman bull this time on their altars. The pagans felt bitter about it.

Thence, by Narnia and the Tiber valley, they made their way down into the plain. The measured step of the legions rang upon the large flags of the Flaminian way. They crossed the Mulvius bridge – and old Rome rose like a new city. In anticipation of a siege, the regent had repaired the Aurelian wall. The red bricks of the enclosure and the fresh mason-work of the towers gleamed in the sun. Finally, striking into the Via lata, the procession marched to the Palatine.

The crowd was packed in this long, narrow street, and overflowed into the nearest alleys. Women, elaborately dressed, thronged the balconies, and even the terraces of the palace. All at once the people remarked that the Senate was not walking before the Imperial chariot. Stilicho, who wished to conciliate their good graces, had, contrary to custom, dispensed them from marching on foot before the conqueror. People talked with approval of this wily measure in which they saw a promise of new liberties. But applause and enthusiastic cheers greeted the young Honorius as he passed by, sharing with Stilicho the honour of the triumphal car.

The unequalled splendour of his trabea, of which the embroideries disappeared under the number and flash of colour of the jewels, left the populace gaping. The diadem, a masterpiece of goldsmith’s work, pressed heavily on his temples. Emerald pendants twinkled on each side of his neck, which, as it was rather fat, with almost feminine curves, suggested at once to the onlookers a comparison with Bacchus. They found he had an agreeable face, and even a soldierly air with his square shoulders and stocky neck. Matrons gazed with tender eyes on this Cæsar of nineteen, who had, at that time, a certain beauty, and the brilliance, so to speak, of youth. This degenerate Spaniard, who was really a crowned eunuch, and was to spend his life in the society of the palace eunuchs and die of dropsy – this son of Theodosius was just then fond of violent exercise, of hunting and horses. But he was even now becoming ponderous with unhealthy fat. His build and bloated flesh gave those who saw him at a distance a false notion of his strength. The Romans were most favourably impressed by him, especially the young men.

But the army, the safeguard of the country, was perhaps even more admired than the Emperor. The legions, following the ruler, had almost deserted the capital. The flower of the troops were almost unknown there. In consequence, the march past of the cavalry was quite a new sight for the people. A great murmur of admiration sounded as the cataphracti appeared, gleaming in the coats of mail which covered them from head to foot. Upon their horses, caparisoned in defensive armour, they looked like equestrian, statues – like silver horsemen on bronze horses. Childish cries greeted each draconarius as he marched by carrying his ensign – a dragon embroidered on a long piece of cloth which flapped in the wind. And the crowd pointed at the crests of the helmets plumed with peacock feathers, and the scarfs of scarlet silk flowing over the camber of the gilded cuirasses.

The military show poured into the Forum, swept up the Via Sacra, and when it had passed under the triumphal arches of the old emperors, halted at the Palace of Septimus Severus. In the Stadium, the crowd awaited Honorius. When he appeared on the balcony of the Imperial box, wild cheering burst out on all the rows of seats. The Emperor, diadem on head, bowed to the people. Upon that the cheers became a tempest. Rome did not know how to express her happiness at having at last got her master back.

On the eve of the worst catastrophes she had this supreme day of glory, of desperate pride, of unconquerable faith in her destiny. The public frenzy encouraged them in the maddest hopes. The poet Claudian, who had followed the Court, became the mouthpiece of these perilous illusions. “Arise!” he cried to Rome, “I prithee arise, O venerable queen! Trust in the goodwill of the gods. O city, fling away the mean fears of age, thou who art immortal as the heavens!

For all that, the Barbarian danger continued to threaten. The victory of Pollentia, which, moreover, was not a complete victory, had settled nothing. Alaric was in flight in the Alps, but he kept his eye open for a favourable chance to fall back upon Italy and wrench concessions of money and honours from the Court of Ravenna. Supported by his army of mercenaries and adventurers in the pay of the Empire like himself, his dealings with Honorius were a kind of continual blackmail. If the Imperial Government refused to pay the sums which he protested it owed him for the maintenance of his troops, he would pay himself by force. Rome, where fabulous riches had accumulated for so many centuries, was an obvious prey for him and his men. He had coveted it for a long time and to get up his courage for this daring exploit, as well as to work upon his soldiers, he pretended that he had a mission from Heaven to chastise and destroy the new Babylon. In his Pannonian forests it would seem he had heard mysterious voices which said to him: “Advance, and thou shalt destroy the city!”

This leader of clans had nothing of the conqueror about him. He understood that he was in no wise cut out to wear the purple he himself felt the Barbarian’s cureless inferiority. But he also felt that neither was he born to obey. If he asked for the title of Prefect of the City, and if he persisted in offering his services to the Empire, it was as a means to get the upper hand of it more surely. Repulsed, disdained by the Court, he tried to raise himself in his own eyes and in the eyes of the common people by giving himself the airs of an instrument of justice, a man designed by fate, who marches blindly to a terrible purpose indicated by the divine wrath. It often happened that he was duped by his own mummery. This turbid Barbarian soul was prone to the most superstitious terrors.

Notwithstanding his rodomontades, it is certain that in his heart he was scared by Rome. He hardly dared to attack it. In the first place, it was not at all a convenient operation for him. His army of mercenaries had no proper implements to undertake the siege of this huge city, of which the defence lines were thrown out in so wide a perimeter. He had to come back to it twice, before he could make up his mind to invest it seriously. The first time, in 408, he was satisfied with starving the Romans by cutting off the food supply. He had pitched his camp on the banks of the Tiber in such a way as to capture the shipping between the capital and the great store-houses built near the mouth of the river. From the ramparts, the Romans could see the Barbarian soldiers moving about, with their sheepskin coats dyed to a crude red. Panic-stricken, the aristocracy fled to its villas in Campania, or Sicily, or Africa. They took with them whatever they were able to carry. They sought refuge in the nearest islands, even in Sardinia and Corsica, despite their reputation for unhealthiness. They even hid among the rocks of the seashore. The terror was so great that the Senate agreed to everything demanded by Alaric. He was paid an enormous indemnity which he claimed as a condition of his withdrawal.

The following year he used the same method of intimidation to force on the people an emperor he had chosen, and to get conferred on him the title of Prefect of the City which he had desired so long. Finally, in the year 410, he struck the supreme blow.

The Barbarian knew what he was about, and that he did not risk much in blockading Rome. Famine would open the gates to him sooner or later. All who were able had left the city, especially the rich. There was no garrison to defend it. Only a lazy populace remained behind the walls, unused to arms, and still more enfeebled by long starvation. And yet this wretched and decimated population, in an outburst of patriotism, resisted with desperate energy. The siege was long. Doubtless it began before the spring it ended only at the end of the summer. In the night of the twenty-fourth of August, 410, amid the glare of lightning and crashes of thunder, Alaric entered Rome by the Salarian gate. It is certain that he only managed it even then by treachery. The prey was handed to him.

The sack of Rome seems to have lasted for three days and three nights. Part of the town was burned. The conquered people underwent all the horrors which accompany such events – violent and stupid destruction, rapes, murders of individuals, wholesale slaughter, torture, and mutilation. But in reality the Barbarians only wanted the Roman gold. They acted like perfect highway robbers. If they tortured their victims without distinction of age or sex, it was to pluck the secret of their treasure-houses out of them. It is even said that in these conditions the Roman avarice produced some admirable examples of firmness. Some let themselves be tortured to their last gasp rather than reveal where their treasures were hid. At last, when Alaric decided that his army was gorged enough with spoil, he gave the order to evacuate the city, and took to the roads with his baggage-waggons full.

Let us be careful not to judge these doings after our modern notions. The capture of Rome by Alaric was not a national disaster. It was plundering on a huge scale. The Goth had no thought at all of destroying the Empire. He was only a mercenary in rebellion – an ambitious mercenary, no doubt – but, above all, a looter.

As a consequence of this attack on the Eternal City, one after another caught the disease of plunder, which contaminated even the functionaries and the subjects of Rome. Amid the general anarchy, where impunity seemed certain, nobody restrained himself any longer. In Africa especially, where the old instinct of piracy is always half-awake, they applied themselves to ransack the fugitive Romans and Italians. Many rich people were come there, seeking a place of safety in the belief that they would be more secure when they had put the sea between themselves and the Barbarians. The report of their riches had preceded them, exaggerated out of all measure by popular rumour. Among them were mentioned patricians such as the Anicii, whose property was so immense and their palaces so splendid that they could not find purchasers. These multi-millionaires in flight were a miraculous windfall for the country. They were bled without mercy.

Quicker than any one else, the military governor of Africa, Count Heraclianus, was on the spot to pick the pockets of the Italian immigrants. No sooner were they off the boat than he had very distinguished ladies seized, and only released them when he had extorted a large ransom. He sold those unable to pay to the Greek and Syrian slave-merchants who provided human flesh for the Oriental harems. When the example came from such a height, the subordinates doubtless said to themselves that they would be very wrong to have the least shame. From one end of the province to the other, everybody struggled to extract as much as possible from the unfortunate fugitives. Augustin’s own parishioners at Hippo undertook to tear a donation from one of those gorgeous Anicii, whose lands stretched further than a kite could fly – from Pinian, the husband of Saint Melania the younger. They wanted to force him to be ordained priest in spite of himself, which, as has been explained, involved the handing over of his goods to the Catholic community. Augustin, who opposed this, had to give in to the crowd. There was almost a riot in the basilica.

Such were the far-off reverberations of the capture of Rome by Alaric. Carthaginians and Numidians pillaged the Romans just like the Barbarians.

Now, how did it come about that this monstrous loot took on before the eyes of contemporaries the magnitude of a world-catastrophe? For really nothing was utterly lost. The Empire remained standing. After Alaric’s retreat, the Romans had come back to their city and they worked to build up the ruins. Ere long, the populace were crying out loud that if the circus and amphitheatre games were given back to them, they would look upon the descent of the Goths as a bad dream.

It is no less certain that this sensational occurrence had struck the whole Mediterranean world into a perfect stupor. It seized upon the imaginations of all. The idea that Rome could not be taken, that it was integral and almost sacred, had such a hold on people’s minds, that they refused to credit the sinister news. Nobody reflected that the sack of Rome by the Barbarians should have been long ago foreseen – that Rome, deprived of a garrison, abandoned by the Imperial army, was bound to attract the covetousness of the Goths, and that the pillage of a place without defence, already enfeebled by famine, was not a very glorious feat, very difficult, or very extraordinary. People only saw the brutal fact: the Eternal City had been captured and burned by the mercenaries. All were under the influence of the shock caused by the narratives of the refugees. In one of his sermons, Augustin has transmitted to us an echo of the general panic:

“Horrible things,” said he, “have been told us. There have been ruins, and fires, and rapine, and murder, and torture. That is true we have heard it many times we have shuddered at all this disaster we have often wept, and we have hardly been able to console ourselves.”

This capture of Rome was plainly a terrible warning for the future. But party spirit strangely exaggerated the importance and meaning of the calamity. For pagans and Christians alike it became a subject for speeches, a commonplace of religious polemic. Both saw the event as a manifestation of the wrath of Heaven.

“While we sacrificed to our gods,” the pagan said, “Rome was standing, Rome was happy. Now that our sacrifices are forbidden, you see what has become of Rome.”

And they went about repeating that Christianism was responsible for the ruin of the Empire. On their side, the Christians answered: In the first place, Rome has not fallen: it is always standing. It has been only chastised, and this happened because it is still half pagan. By this frightful punishment (and they heightened the description of the horrors committed), God has given it a warning. Let it be converted, let it return to the virtues of its ancestors, and it will become again the mistress of nations.

There is what Augustin and the bishops said. Still, the flock of the faithful were only half convinced. It was all well enough to remonstrate to them that the Christians of Rome, and even a good number of pagans, had been spared at the name of Christ, and that the Barbarian leader had bestowed a quite special protection and respect upon the basilicas of the holy apostles it was impossible to prevent their thinking that many Christians had perished in the sack of the city, that consecrated virgins had experienced the last outrages, and that, as a matter of fact, all the inhabitants had been robbed of their property. Was it thus that God protected His chosen? What advantage was there in being Christian if they had the same treatment as the idolaters?

This state of mind became extremely favourable for paganism to come back again on the offensive. Since the very hard laws of Theodosius, which forbade the worship of the ancient gods, even within the house, the pagans had not overlooked any chance to protest against the Imperial severity. At Carthage there were always fights in the streets between pagans and Christians, not to say riots. In the colony of Suffetula, sixty Christians had been massacred. The year before the capture of Rome, there had been trouble with the pagans at Guelma. Houses belonging to the Church were burned, a monk killed in a brawl. Whenever the Government inspection relaxed, or the political situation appeared favourable, the pagans hurried to proclaim their belief. Only just lately, in Rome beleaguered by Alaric, the new consul, Tertullus, had thought fit to revive the old customs. Before assuming office, he studied gravely the sacred fowls in their cages, traced circles in the sky with the augur’s wand, and marked the flight of birds. Besides, a pagan oracle circulated persistently among the people, promising that after a reign of three hundred and sixty-five years Christianity would be conquered. The centuries of the great desolation were fulfilled the era of revenge was about to begin for the outcast gods.

These warlike symptoms did not escape Augustin’s vigilance. His indignation no longer arose only from the fact that paganism was so slow in dying he was now afraid that the feebleness of the Empire might allow it to take on an appearance of life. It must be ended, as Donatism had been ended. The old apostle was summoned to a new campaign, and in it he would spend the best of his strength to the eve of his death.

The City of God

For thirteen or fourteen years, through a thousand employments and a thousand cares, amid the panics and continual alarums which kept the Africans on the alert in those times, Augustin worked at his City of God, the most formidable machine of war ever directed against paganism, and also the arsenal fullest of proofs and refutations which the disputants and defenders of Catholicism have ever had at their disposal.

It is not for us to examine the details of this immense work, for our sole aim is to study Augustin’s soul, and we quote scarcely anything from his books save those parts wherein a little of this ardent soul pulsates – those which are still living for us of the twentieth century, which contain teachings and ways of feeling still likely to move us. Now, Augustin’s attitude towards paganism is one of those which throw the greatest light on his nature and character. And it may even yet come to be our own attitude when we find opposed to us a conception of life and the world which may indeed be ruined for a time, but is reborn as soon as the sense of spirituality disappears or grows feeble.

“Immortal Paganism, art thou dead? So they say.
But Pan scoffs under his breath, and the Chimæra laughs.”

Like ourselves, Augustin, brought up by a Christian mother, knew it only through literature, and, so to speak, æsthetically. Recollections of school, the emotions and admirations of a cultivated man – there is what the old religion meant for him. Nevertheless, he had one great advantage over us for knowing it well: the sight of the pagan customs and superstitions was still under his eyes.

That the lascivious, romantic, and poetic adventures of the ancient gods, their statues, their temples, and all the arts arising from their religion, had beguiled him and filled him with enthusiasm before his conversion, is only too certain. But all this mythology and plastic art were looked upon as secondary things then, even by pagans. The serious, the essential part of the religion was not in that. Paganism, a religion of Beauty, is an invention of our modern æsthetes it was hardly thought of in that way in Augustin’s time.

Long before this, the Roman Varro, the great compiler of the religious antiquities of paganism, made a threefold distinction of the doctrine concerning the gods. The first – that of the theatre, as he calls it, or fabulous mythology, adapted to poets, dramatists, sculptors, and jesters. Invented by these, it is only a fantasy, a play of imagination, an ornament of life. The third is civil theology, serious and solid, which claims the respect and piety of all. “It is that which men in cities, and chiefly the priests, ought to be cunning in. It teaches which gods to worship in public, and with what ceremonies and sacrifices each one must be served.” Finally, the second, physical or metaphysical theology, is reserved for philosophers and exceptional minds it is altogether theoretical. The only important and truly religious one, which puts an obligation on the believer, is the third – the civil theology.

Now, we never take account of this. What we persist in regarding as paganism is what Varro himself called “a religion for the theatre” – matter of opera, pretext for ballets, for scenery, and for dance postures. Transposed into another key by our poets, this mythology is inflated now and then by mysticism, or by a vague symbolism. Playthings of our pretty wits! The living paganism, which Augustin struggled against, which crowds defended at the price of their blood, in which the poor believed and the wisest statesmen deemed indispensable as a safeguard of cities – that paganism is quite another matter. Like all religions which are possible, it implied and it enforced not only beliefs, but ritual, sacrifices, festivals. And this is what Augustin, with the other Christians of that time, spurned with disgust and declared to be unbearable.

He saw, or he had seen with his own eyes, the reality of the pagan worship, and the most repellent of all to our modern delicacy – the sacrifices. At the period when he wrote The City of God, private sacrifices, as well as public, were forbidden. This did not prevent the devout from breaking the law whenever a chance offered. They hid themselves more or less when they sacrificed before a temple, a chapel, or on some private estate. The rites could not be carried out according to all the minute instructions of the pontifical books. It was no more than a shadow of the ceremonies of former times. But in his childhood, in the reign of Julian, for instance, Augustin could have attended sacrifices which were celebrated with full pomp and according to all the ritual forms. They were veritable scenes of butchery. For Heaven’s sake let us forget the frieze of the Parthenon, and its sacrificers with their graceful lines! If we want to have a literal translation of this sculpture, and find the modern representation of a hecatomb, we must go to the slaughter-houses at La Villette.

Among the heaps of broken flesh, the puddles of blood, the mystic Julian was attacked by a kind of drunkenness. There were never enough beasts strangled or slaughtered to suit him. Nothing satisfied his fury for sacred carnage. The pagans themselves made fun of this craze for sacrificing. During the three years his reign lasted the altars streamed with blood. Oxen by hundreds were slain upon the floors of the temples, and the butchers throttled so many sheep and other domestic animals that they gave up keeping count of them. Thousands of white birds, pigeons or sea-gulls, were destroyed day by day by the piety of the prince. He was called the Victimaríus, and when he started upon his campaign against the Persians, an epigram was circulated once more which had been formerly composed against Marcus Aurelius (the philosophic emperor!) who was equally generous of hecatombs: “To Marcus Cæsar from the white oxen. It will be all over with us if you come back a conqueror.” People said that Julian, on his return, would depopulate stables and pasture-lands.

The populace, who gathered their very considerable profit from these butcheries, naturally encouraged such an excess of devotion. At Rome, under Caligula, more than a hundred and sixty thousand victims were immolated in three months – nearly two thousand a day. And these massacres took place upon the approaches of the temples in the middle of the city on the forums in narrow squares crowded with public buildings and statues. Just try to call up the scene in summer, between walls at a white heat, with the smells and the flies. Spectators and victims rubbed against one another, pressed close in the restricted space. One day, Caligula, while he was attending a sacrifice, was splashed all over by the blood of a flamingo as they cut its neck. But the august Cæsar was not so fastidious he himself operated in these ceremonies armed with a mallet and clad in the short shirt of the killers. The ignominy of all this revolted the Christians, and whoever had nerves at all sensitive. The bloody mud in which passers slipped, the hissing of the fat, the heavy odour of flesh, were sickening. Tertullian held his nose before the “stinking fires” on which the victims were roasting. And Saint Ambrose complained that in the Roman Curia the senators who were Christians were obliged to breathe in the smoke and receive full in the face the ashes of the altar raised before the statue of Victory.

The manipulations of the haruspicina seemed an even worse abomination in the eyes of the Christians. Dissection of bowels, examination of entrails, were practices very much in fashion in all classes of society. The pagans generally took more or less interest in magic. One was scarcely a philosopher without being a miracle-worker. In this there was a kind of perfidious rivalry to the Christian miracles. The ambitious or the discontented opened the bellies of animals to learn when the Emperor was going to die, and who would succeed him. But although it did not pretend to magic, the haruspicina made an essential part of the sacrifices. As soon as the dismemberment was done, the diviners examined the appearance of the entrails. Consulting together, they turned them over frequently with anxious attention. This business might continue for a long time. Plutarch relates that Philip, King of Macedonia, when sacrificing an ox on the Ithomæa, with Aratus of Sicyon and Demetrius of Pharos, wished to inquire out from the entrails of the victim concerning the wisdom of a piece of strategy. The haruspex put the smoking mass in his hands. The King shewed it to his companions, who derived contradictory presages from it. He listened to one side and the other, holding meanwhile the ox’s entrails in his hands. Eventually, he decided for the opinion of Aratus, and then tranquilly gave the handful back to the sacrificer.

No doubt in Augustin’s time these rites were no longer practised openly. For all that, they were of the first importance in the ancient religion, which desired nothing better than to restore them. It is easy to understand the repulsion they caused in the author of The City of God. He who would not have a fly killed to make sure of the gold crown in the contest of poets, looked with horror on these sacred butchers, and manglers, and cooks. He flung the garbage of the sacrifices into the sewer, and shewed proudly to the pagans the pure oblation of the eucharistic Bread and Wine.

But what, above all, he attacked, because it was a present and permanent scandal, was the gluttony, the drunkenness, and lust of the pagans. Let us not exaggerate these vices – not the two first, at least. Augustin could not judge them as we can. It is certain that the Africans of his time – and for that matter, those of today – would have struck us modern people as very sober. The outbursts of intemperance which he accuses them of only happened at intervals, at times of public festivity or some family celebration. But as soon as they did begin they were terrible. When one thinks of the orgies of our Arabs behind locked doors!

But it is no less true that the pagan vices spread themselves out cynically under the protecting shadow of religion. Popular souses of eating and drinking were the obligatory accompaniments of the festivals and sacrifices. A religious festival meant a carouse, loads of victuals, barrels of wine broached in the street. These were called the Dishes, Fercula, or else, the Rejoicing, Lætitia. The poor people, who knew meat only by sight, ate it on these days, and they drank wine. The effect of this unaccustomed plenty was felt at once. The whole populace were drunk. The rich in their houses possibly did it with more ceremony, but it was really the same brutishness. The elegant Ovid, who in the Art of Love teaches fine manners to the beginners in love, advises them not to vomit at table, and to avoid getting drunk like the husbands of their mistresses.

Plainly, religion was only an excuse for these excesses. Augustin goes too far when he makes the gods responsible for this riot of sensuality. What is true is that they did nothing to hinder it. And it is also true that the lechery, which he flings so acridly in the face of the pagans, the gross stage-plays, the songs, dances, and even prostitution, were all more or less included in the essence of paganism. The theatre, like the games of the arena and circus, was a divine institution. At certain feasts, and in certain temples, fornication became sacred. All the world knew what took place at Carthage in the courts and under the porticoes of the Celestial Virgin, and what the ears of the most chaste matrons were obliged to hear, and also what the use was of the castrated priests of the Great Mother of the gods. Augustin, who declaims against these filthy sports, has not forced the note of his denunciation to make out a good case. If anybody wants to know in more detail the sights enjoyed at the theatre, or what were the habits of certain pious confraternities, he has only to read what is told by Apuleius, the most devout of pagans. He takes evident pleasure in these stories, or, if he sometimes waxes indignant, it is the depravity of men he accuses. The gods soar at a great height above these wretched trifles. To Augustin, on the contrary, the gods are unclean devils who fill their bellies with lust and obscenities, as if they were hankering for the blood and grease of sacrifices.

And so he puts his finger on the open wound of paganism – its basic immorality, or, if you like, its unmorality. Like our scientism of today, it was unable to lay down a system of morals. It did not even try to. What Augustin has written on this subject in The City of God, is perhaps the strongest argument ever objected to polytheism. Anyhow, pages like this are very timely indeed to consider:

“But such friends and such worshippers of those gods, whom they rejoice to follow and imitate in all villainies and mischiefs – do they trouble themselves about the corruption and great decay of the Republic? Not so. Let it but stand, say they let it but prosper by the number of its troops and be glorious by its victories or, which is best of all, let it but enjoy security and peace, and what care we? Yes, what we care for above all is that every one may have the means to increase his wealth, to pay the expenses of his usual luxury, and that the powerful may still keep under the weak. Let the poor crouch to the rich to be fed, or to live at ease under their protection let the rich abuse the poor as things at their service, and to shew how many they have soliciting them. Let the people applaud such as provide them with pleasures, not such as have a care for their interests. Let naught that is hard be enjoined, nothing impure be prohibited. Let not subdued provinces obey their governors as supervisors of their morality, but as masters of their fortune and the procurers of their pleasures. What matters it if this submission has no sincerity, but rests upon a bad and servile fear! Let the law protect estates rather than fair justice. Let there be a good number of public harlots, either for all that please to enjoy themselves in their company, or for those that cannot keep private ones. Let stately and sumptuous houses be erected, so that night and day each one according to his liking or his means may gamble and drink and revel and vomit. Let the rhythmed tinkling of dances be ordinary, the cries, the uncontrolled delights, the uproar of all pleasures, even the bloodiest and most shameful in the theatres. He who shall assay to dissuade from these pleasures, let him be condemned as a public enemy. And if any one try to alter or suppress them – let the people stifle his voice, let them banish him, let them kill him. On the other hand, those that shall procure the people these pleasures, and authorize their enjoyment, let them be eternized for the true gods.”

However, Augustin acknowledges a number of praiseworthy minds among pagans – those philosophers, with Plato in the first rank, who have done their best to put morality into the religion. The Christian teacher renders a magnificent tribute to Platonism. But these high doctrines have scarcely got beyond the portals of the schools, and this moral teaching which paganism vaunts of, is practically limited to the sanctuaries. “Let them not talk,” says he, “of some closely muttered instructions, taught in secret, and whispered in the ear of a few adepts, which hold I know not what lessons of uprightness and virtue. But let them shew the temples ordained for such pious meetings, wherein were no sports with lascivious gestures and loose songs. Let them shew us the places where the gods’ doctrine was heard against covetousness, the suppression of ambition, the bridling of luxury, and where wretches might learn what the poet Persius thunders unto them, saying:

‘Learn, wretches, and conceive the course of things,
What man is, and why nature forth him brings
How to use money how to help a friend
What we on earth, and God in us, intend.’

Let them shew where their instructing gods were used to give such lessons and where their worshippers used to go often to hear these matters. As for us, we can point to our churches, built for this sole purpose, wheresoever the religion of Christ is diffused.”

Can it surprise, then, if men so ignorant of high morality, and so deeply embedded in matter, were also plunged in the grossest superstitions? Materialism in morals always ends by producing a low credulity. Here Augustin triumphs. He sends marching under our eyes, in a burlesque array, the innumerable army of gods whom the Romans believed in. There are so many that he compares them to swarms of gnats. Although he explains that he is not able to mention them all, he amuses himself by stupefying us with the prodigious number of those he discovers. Dragged into open day by him, a whole divine population is brought out of the darkness and forgetfulness where it had been sleeping perhaps for centuries: the little gods who work in the fields, who make the corn grow and keep off the blight, those who watch over children, who aid women in labour, who protect the hearth, who guard the house. It was impossible to take a step among the pagans, to make a movement, without the help of a god or goddess. Men and things were as if fettered and imprisoned by the gods.

“In a house,” says Augustin scoffingly, “there is but one porter. He is but a mere man, yet he is sufficient for that office. But it takes three gods, Forculus for the door, Cardea for the hinge, Limentinus for the threshold. Doubtless, Forculus all alone could not possibly look after threshold, door and hinges.” And if it is a case of a man and woman retiring to the bridal chamber after the wedding, a whole squadron of divinities are set in motion for an act so simple and natural. “I beseech you,” cries Augustin, “leave something for the husband to do!”

This African, who had such a strong sense of the unity and fathomless infinity of God, waxed indignant at this sacrilegious parcelling of the divine substance. But the pagans, following Varro, would answer that it was necessary to distinguish, among all these gods, those who were just the imagination of poets, and those who were real beings – between the gods of fable and the gods of religion. “Then,” as Tertullian had said already, “if the gods be chosen as onions are roped, it is obvious that what is not chosen is condemned.” “Tertullian carries his fancy too far,” comments Augustin. The gods refused as fabulous are not held reprobate on that account. The truth is, they are a cut of the same piece as the admitted gods. “Have not the pontiffs, like the poets, a bearded Jupiter and a Mercury without beard? Are the old Saturn and the young Apollo so much the property of the poets that we do not see their statues too in the temples?”

And the philosophers, in their turn, however much they may protest against the heap of fabulous gods and, like Plato and Porphyry, declare that there exists but one God, soul of the universe, yet they no less accepted the minor gods, and intermediaries or messengers betwixt gods and men, whom they called demons. These hybrid beings, who pertained to humanity by their passions, and to the divinity by the privilege of immortality, had to be appeased by sacrifices, questioned and gratified by magic spells. And there is what the highest pagan wisdom ended in – yes, in calling up spirits, and the shady operations of wizards and wonder-smiths. That is what the pagans defended, and demanded the continuation of with so much obstinacy and fanaticism.

By no means, replied Augustin. It does not deserve to survive. It is not the forsaking of these beliefs and superstitious practices which has brought about the decay of the Empire. If you are asking for the temples of your gods to be opened, it is because they are easy to your passions. At heart, you scoff at them and the Empire all you want is freedom and impunity for your vices. There we have the real cause of the decadence! Little matter the idle grimaces before altars and statues. Become chaste, sober, brave, and poor, as your ancestors were. Have children, agree to compulsory military service, and you will conquer as they did. Now, all these virtues are enjoined and encouraged by Christianity. Whatever certain heretics may say, the religion of Christ is not contrary to marriage or the soldier’s profession. The Patriarchs of the old law were blest in marriage, and there are just and holy wars.

And even supposing, that in spite of all efforts to save it, the Empire is condemned, must we therefore despair? We should be prepared for the end of the Roman city. Like all the things of this world, it is liable to old age and death. It will die then, one day. Far from being cast down, let us strengthen ourselves against this disaster by the realization of the eternal. Let us strengthen our hold upon that which passes not. Above the earthly city, rises the City of God, which is the communion of holy souls, the only one which gives complete and never-failing joy. Let us try to be the citizens of that city, and to live the only life worth calling life. For the life here below is but the shadow of a shadow.

The people of those times were wonderfully prepared to hearken to such exhortations. On the eve of the Barbarian invasions, these Christians, for whom the dogma of the Resurrection was perhaps the chief reason of their faith, these people, sick at heart, who looked on in torture at the ending of a world, must have considered this present life as a bad dream, from which there should be no delay in escaping.

At the very moment even that Augustin began to write The City of God, his friend Evodius, Bishop of Uzalis, told him this story.

He had as secretary a very young man, the son of a priest in the neighbourhood. This young man had begun by obtaining a post as stenographer in the office of the Proconsul of Africa. Evodius, who was alarmed at what might happen to his virtue in such surroundings, having first made certain of his absolute chastity, offered to take him into his service. In the bishop’s house, where he had scarcely anything to do but read the Holy Scripture, his faith became so enthusiastic that he longed for nothing now but death. To go out of this life, “to be with Christ,” was his eager wish. It was heard. After sixteen days of illness he died in the house of his parents.

“Now, two days after his funeral, a virtuous woman of Figes, a servant of God, a widow for twelve years, had a dream, and in her dream she saw a deacon who had been dead some four years, together with men, and women too, virgins and widows – she saw these servants of God getting ready a palace. This dwelling was so rich that it shone with light, and you would have believed it was all made of silver. And when the widow asked whom these preparations were for, the deacon replied that they were for a young man, dead the evening before, the son of a priest. In the same palace, she saw an old man, all robed in white, and he told two other persons, also robed in white, to go to the tomb of this young man, and lift out the body, and carry it to Heaven. When the body had been drawn from the tomb and carried to Heaven, there arose (said she) out of the tomb a bush of virgin-roses, which are thus named because they never open.”

So the son of the priest had chosen the better part. What was the good of remaining in this abominable world, where there was always a risk of being burned or murdered by Goths and Vandals, when, in the other world, angels were preparing for you palaces of light?

The Barbarian Desolation

Augustin was seventy-two years old when he finished the City of God. This was in 426. That year, an event of much importance occurred at Hippo, and the report of it was inserted in the public acts of the community.

“The sixth of the calends of October,” The Acts set forth, “the very glorious Theodosius being consul for the twelfth time, and Valentinian Augustus for the second, Augustin the bishop, accompanied by Religianus and Martinianus, his fellow-bishops, having taken his place in the Basilica of Peace at Hippo, and the priests Saturnius, Leporius, Barnaby, Fortunatianus, Lazarus, and Heraclius, being present, with all the clergy and a vast crowd of people – Augustin the bishop said:

“‘Let us without delay look to the business which I declared yesterday to your charity, and for which I desired you to gather here in large numbers, as I see you have done. If I were to talk to you of anything else, you might be less attentive, seeing the expectation you are in.

“‘My brothers, we are all mortal in this life, and no man knows his last day. God willed that I should come to dwell in this town in the force of my age. But, as I was a young man then – see, I am old now, and as I know that at the death of bishops, peace is troubled by rivalry or ambition (this have I often seen and bewailed it) – I ought, so far as it rests with me, to turn away so great a mischief from your city. I am going then to tell you that my will, which I believe also to be the will of God, is that I have as successor the priest Heraclius.’

“At these words all the people cried out:

“‘Thanks be to God! Praise be to Christ!’

“And this cry they repeated three-and-twenty times.

“‘Christ, hear us! Preserve us Augustin!’

“This cry they repeated sixteen times.

“‘Be our father! Be our bishop!’

“This cry they repeated eight times.

“When the people became silent, the bishop Augustin spoke again in these words:

“‘There is no need for me to praise Heraclius. As much as I do justice to his wisdom, in equal measure should I spare his modesty. As you perceive, the secretaries of the church gather up what we say and what you say. My words and your shouts do not fall to the ground. To put it briefly, these are ecclesiastical decrees that we are now drawing up, and I desire by these means, as far as it is in the power of man, to confirm what I have declared to you.’

“Here the people cried out:

“‘Thanks be to God! Praise be to Christ!’

“‘Be our father, and let Heraclius be our bishop!’

“When silence was made again, Augustin the bishop thus spoke:

“‘I understand what you would say. But I do not wish that it happen to him as it happened to me. Many of you know what was done at that time. I was consecrated bishop during the lifetime of my father and bishop, the aged Valerius, of blessed memory, and with him I shared the see. I was ignorant, as he was, that this was forbidden by the Council of Nice. I would not therefore that men should blame in Heraclius, my son, what they blamed in me.’

“With that the people cried out thirteen times:

“‘Thanks be to God! Praise be to Christ!’

“After a little silence, Augustin the bishop said again:

“‘So he will remain a priest till it shall please God for him to be a bishop. But with the aid and mercy of Christ, I shall do in future what up to now I have not been able to do. You will remember what I wanted to do some years ago, and you have not allowed me. For a work upon the Holy Scriptures, with which my brothers and my fathers the bishops had deigned to charge me in the two Councils of Numidia and Carthage, I was not to be disturbed by anybody during five days of the week. That was a thing agreed upon between you and me. The act was drawn up, and you all approved of it after hearing it read. But your promise did not last long. I was soon encroached upon and overrun by you all. I am no longer free to study as I desire. Morning and afternoon, I am entangled in your worldly affairs. I beg of you and supplicate you in Christ’s name to suffer me to shift the burthen of all these cares upon this young man, the priest Heraclius, whom I signal, in His name, as my successor in the bishopric.’

“Upon this the people cried out six-and-twenty times:

“‘We thank thee for thy choice!’

“And the people having become silent, Augustin the bishop said:

“‘I thank you for your charity and goodwill, or rather, I thank God for them. So, my brothers, you will address yourselves to Heraclius upon all the points you are used to submit to me. Whenever he needs counsel, my care and my help will not be wanting. In this way, without any loss to you, I shall be able to devote the remainder of life which it may please God still to leave me, not to laziness and rest, but to the study of the Holy Scriptures. This work will be useful to Heraclius, and hence to yourselves. Let nobody then envy my leisure, for this leisure will be very busy.

“‘It only remains for me to ask you, at least those who can, to sign these acts. Your agreement I cannot do without so kindly let me learn it by your voices.’

“At these words the people shouted:

“‘Let it be so! Let it be so!’

“When all there became silent, Augustin the bishop made an end, saying:

“‘It is well. Now let us fulfil our duty to God. While we offer Him the Sacrifice, and during this hour of supplication, I would urge of your charity to lay aside all business and personal cares, and to pray the Lord God for this church, for me, and for the priest Heraclius.'”

The dryness and official wording of the document do not succeed in stifling the vividness and colour of this crowded scene. Through the piety of the formal cries, it is easy to see that Augustin’s hearers were hard to manage. This flock, which he loved and scolded so much, was no easier to lead now than when he first became bishop. Truly it was no sinecure to rule and administrate the diocese of Hippo! The bishop was literally the servant of the faithful. Not only had he to feed and clothe them, to spend his time over their business and quarrels and lawsuits, but he belonged to them body and soul. They kept a jealous eye on the employment of his time if he went away, they asked for an explanation. Whenever Augustin went to preach at Carthage or Utica, he apologized to his own people. And before he can undertake a commentary on the Scriptures, a commentary, moreover, which he has been asked by two Councils to prepare, he must get their permission, or, at any rate, their agreement.

At last, at seventy-two years old, after he had been a bishop for thirty-one years, he got their leave to take a little rest. But what a rest! He himself said: “This leisure will be very busy” – this leisure which is going to fill the five holidays in the week. He intends to study and fathom the Scripture, and this, besides, to the profit of his people and clergy and the whole Church. It is the fondest dream of his life – the plan he was never able to realize. All that, at first sight, astonishes us. We ask ourselves, “What else had he been doing up to this time in his treatises and letters and sermons, in all that sea of words and writings which his enemies threw up at him, if he was not studying and explaining the Holy Scriptures?” The fact is, that in most of these writings and sermons he elucidates the truth only in part, or else he is confuting heresiarchs. What he wanted to do was to study the truth for its own sake, without having to think of and be hindered by the exposure of errors and above all, to seize it in all its breadth and all its depths, to have done with this blighting and irritating eristic, and to reflect in a vast Mirror the whole and purest light of the sacred dogmas.

He never found the time for it. He had to limit himself to a handbook of practical morals, published under this title before his death, and now lost. Once more the heresiarchs prevented him from leading a life of speculation. During his last years, amid the cruellest anxieties, he had to battle with the enemies of Grace and the enemies of the Trinity, with Arius and Pelagius. Pelagius had found an able disciple in a young Italian bishop, Julian of Eclanum, who was a formidable opponent to the aged Augustin. As for Arianism, which had seemed extinguished in the West, here it was given a new life by the Barbarian invasion.

It was a grave moment for Catholicism, as it was for the Empire. The Goths, the Alani, and the Vandals, after having laid waste Gaul and Spain, were taking measures to pass over into Africa. Should they renew the attempts of Alaric and Radagaisus against Italy, they would soon be masters of the entire Occident. Now these Barbarians were Arians. Supposing (and it seemed more and more likely) that Africa and Italy were vanquished after Gaul and Spain, then it was all over with Western Catholicism. For the invaders carried their religion in their baggage, and forced it on the conquered. Augustin, who had cherished the hope of equalling the earthly kingdom of Christ to that of the Cæsars, was going to see the ruin of both. His terrified imagination exaggerated still more the only too real and threatening peril. He must have lived hours of agony, expecting a disaster.

If only the truth might be saved, might swim in this sea of errors which spread like a flood in the wake of the Barbarian onflow! It was from this wish, no doubt, that sprang the tireless persistence which the old bishop put into a last battle with heresy. If he selected Pelagius specially to fall upon with fury, if he forced his principles to their last consequences in his theory of Grace, the dread of the Barbarian peril had perhaps something to do with it. This soul, so mild, so moderate, so tenderly human, promulgated a pitiless doctrine which does not agree with his character. But he reasoned, no doubt, that it was impossible to drive home too hard the need of the Redemption and the divinity of the Redeemer in front of these Arians, these Pelagians, these enemies of Christ, who tomorrow perhaps would be masters of the Empire.

Therefore, Augustin continued to write, and discuss, and disprove. There came a time when he had to think of fighting otherwise than with the pen. His life, the lives of his flock, were threatened. He had to see to the bodily defence of his country and city. The fact was, that some time before the great drive of the Vandals, forerunners of them, in the shape of hordes of African Barbarians, had begun to lay waste the provinces. The Circoncelliones were not dead, nor their good friends the Donatists either. These sectaries, encouraged by the widespread anarchy, came out of their hiding-places and shewed themselves more insolent and aggressive than ever. Possibly they hoped for some effective support against the Roman Church from the Arian Vandals who were drawing near, or at least a recognition of what they believed to be their rights. Day after day, bands of Barbarians were landing from Spain. In the rear of these wandering troops of brigands or irregular soldiers, the old enemies of the Roman peace and civilization, the Nomads of the South, the Moors of the Atlas, the Kabylian mountaineers, flung themselves upon country and town, pillaging, killing, and burning everything that got in their way. All was laid desolate. “Countries but lately prosperous and populated have been changed into solitudes,” said Augustin.

At last, in the spring of the year 429, the Vandals and the Alani, having joined forces on the Spanish coast under their King, Genseric, crossed the Straits of Gibraltar. It was devastation on a large scale this time. An army of eighty thousand men set themselves methodically to plunder the African provinces. Cherchell, which had already been sorely tried during the revolt of Firmus the Moor, was captured again and burned. All the towns and fortified places on the coast fell, one after another. Constantine alone, from the height of its rock, kept the invaders at bay. To starve out those who fled from towns and farms and took refuge in the fastnesses of the Atlas, the Barbarians destroyed the harvest, burned the grain-houses, and cut down the vines and fruit trees. And they set fire to the forests which covered the slopes of the mountains, to force the refugees out of their hiding-places.

This stupid ravaging was against the interest of the Vandals themselves, because they were injuring the natural riches of Africa, the report of which had brought them there. Africa was for them the land of plenty, where people could drink more wine than they wanted and eat wheaten bread. It was the country where life was comfortable, easy, and happy. It was the granary of the Mediterranean, the great supply-store of Rome. But their senseless craving for gold led them to ruin provinces, in which, nevertheless, they counted upon settling. They behaved in Africa as they had behaved in Rome under Alaric. By way of tearing gold out of the inhabitants, they tortured them as they had tortured the wealthy Romans. They invented worse ones. Children, before their parents’ eyes, were sliced in two like animals in a slaughterhouse. Or else their skulls were smashed against the pavements and walls of houses.

The Church was believed to be very rich and perhaps, as it had managed to comprise in its domains the greatest part of the landed estates, it was upon it chiefly that the Barbarians flung themselves. The priests and bishops were tortured with unheard-of improvements of cruelty. They were dragged in the rear of the army like slaves, so that heavy ransoms might be extracted from the faithful in exchange for their pastors. They were obliged to carry the baggage like the camels and mules, and when they gave out the Barbarians prodded them with lances. Many sank down beside the road and never rose more. But it is certain that fanaticism added to the covetousness and ferocity of the Vandals. These Arians bore a special grudge against Catholicism, which was, besides, in their eyes, the religion of the Roman domination. This is why they made their chief attacks on basilicas, convents, hospitals, and all the property of the Church. And throughout the country public worship was stopped.

In Hippo, these atrocities were known before the Barbarians arrived. The people must have awaited them and prepared to receive them with gloomy resignation. Africa had not been tranquil for a century. After the risings of Firmus and Gildo, came the lootings of the southern Nomads and the Berber mountaineers. And it was not so long since the Circoncelliones were keeping people constantly on the alert. But this time everybody felt that the great ruin was at hand. They were stunned by the news that some town or fortified place had been captured by the Vandals, or that some farm or villa in the neighbourhood was on fire.

Amid the general dismay, Augustin did his best to keep calm. He, indeed, saw beyond the material destruction, and at every new rumour of massacre or burning he would repeat to his clerics and people the words of the Wise Man:

“Doth the firm of heart grieve to see fall the stones and beams, and death seize the children of men?”

They accused him of being callous. They did not understand him. While all about him mourned the present misfortunes, he was already lamenting over the evil to come, and this clear-sightedness pained him more than the shock of the daily horrors committed by the Barbarians. His disciple Possidius, the Bishop of Guelma, who was with him in these sad days, naively applied to him the saying out of Ecclesiastes: “In much wisdom is much grief.” Augustin did really suffer more than others, because he thought more profoundly on the disaster. He foresaw that Africa was going to be lost to the Empire, and consequently to the Church. They were bound together in his mind. What was there to do against brutal strength? All the eloquence and all the charity in the world would be as nothing against that unchained elemental mass of Vandals. It was as impossible to convert the Barbarians as it had been to convert the Donatists. Force was the only resource against force.

Then in despair the man of God turned once more to Cæsar. The monk appealed to the soldier. He charged Boniface, Count of Africa, to save Rome and the Church.

This Boniface, a rather ambiguous personage, was a fine type of the swashbuckler and official of the Lower-Empire. Thracian by origin, he joined the trickery of the Oriental to all the vices of the Barbarian. He was strong, clever in all bodily exercises like the soldiers of those days, overflowing with vigour and health, and even brave at times. In addition, he was fond of wine and women, and ate and drank like a true pagan. He was married twice, and after his second marriage he kept in the sight and knowledge of everybody a harem of concubines. He was sent, first of all, to Africa as a Tribune – that is to say, as Commissioner of the Imperial Government, probably to carry out the decrees of Honorius against the Donatists and ere long he was made commander of the military forces of the province, with the title of Count.

In reality, while seeming to protect the country, he set himself to plunder it, as the tradition was among the Roman officials. His officium, still more grasping than himself, persuaded him to deeds which the Bishop of Hippo, who was, however, anxious to remain on the right side of him, protested against by hints. Boniface was obliged to overlook much robbery and pillage on the part of his subordinates so as to keep them faithful. Moreover, he himself stole. He was bound to close his eyes to the depredations of others, that his own might be winked at. Once become the accomplice of this band of robbers, he had no longer the authority to control them.

How did Augustin ever believe in the goodwill and good faith of this adventurer full of coarse passions, so far as to put his final hopes in him? Augustin knew men very well he could detect low and hypocritical natures at a distance. How came it that he was taken in by Boniface?

Well, Augustin wanted his support, first of all, when he came as Imperial Commissioner to Carthage to bring the Donatists into line. Generally, we see only the good points of people who do us good turns. Besides, in order to propitiate the bishop, and the devout Court at Ravenna, the Tribune advertised his great zeal in favour of Catholicism. His first wife, a very pious woman whom he seems to have loved much, encouraged him in this. When she died, he was so overcome by despair that he took refuge in the extremest practices of religion – and in this, perhaps, he was quite sincere. It is also possible that he was becoming discredited at Ravenna, where they must have known about his oppressions and suspected his ambitious intrigues. Anyhow, whether he was really disgusted with the world, or whether he deemed it prudent to throw a little oblivion over himself just then, he spoke on all hands of resigning his post and living in retreat like a monk. It was just at this moment that Augustin and Alypius begged him not to desert the African army.

They met the Commander-in-Chief at Thubunæ, in Southern Numidia, where, no doubt, he was reducing the Nomads. We must remark once more Augustin’s energy in travelling, to the very eve of his death. It was a long and dangerous road from Hippo to Thubunæ. Before making up his mind to so much fatigue, the old bishop must have judged the situation to be very serious. At Thubunæ, was Boniface playing a game, or was he, indeed, so crushed by his grief that the world had become unbearable and he pondered genuine thoughts of changing his way of life? What is sure is, that he gave the two prelates the most edifying talk. When they heard the Count of Africa speaking with unction of the cloister and of his desire to retire there, they were a little astonished at so much piety in a soldier. Besides, these excellent resolutions were most inconvenient for their plans. They remonstrated with him that it was quite possible to save one’s soul in the army, and quoted the example of David, the warrior king. They ended by telling him all the expectations they founded upon his resource and firmness. They begged him to protect the churches and convents against fresh attacks of the Donatists, and especially against the Barbarians of Africa. These were at this moment breaking down all the old defence lines and laying waste the territories of the Empire.

Boniface allowed himself to be easily convinced – promised whatever he was asked. But he never budged. From now on, his conduct becomes most singular. He is in command of all the military strength of the province, and he takes no steps to suppress the African looters. It would seem as if he only thought of filling the coffers of himself and his friends. The country was so systematically scoured by them that, as Augustin said, there was nothing more left to take.

This inactivity lent colour to the rumours of treason. Nor is it impossible that he had cherished a plan from the beginning of his command to cut out an independent principality for himself in Africa. Was this the reason that he dealt softly with the native tribes, so as to make certain of their help in case of a conflict with the Imperial army? However that may be, his behaviour was not frank. Some years later, he landed on the Spanish coast to war against the Vandals under the command of the Prefect Castinus, and there he married a Barbarian princess who was by religion an Arian. It is true that the new Countess of Africa became a convert to Catholicism. But her first child was baptized by Arian priests, who rebaptized, at the same time, the Catholic slaves of Boniface’s household. This marriage with a Vandal, these concessions to Arianism, gave immense scandal to the orthodox. Rumours of treason began to float about again.

No doubt Boniface took great advantage of his fidelity to the Empress Placidia. But he was standing between the all-powerful Barbarians and the undermined Empire. He wanted to remain on good terms with both, and then, when the hour came, to go over to the stronger. This double-faced diplomacy caused his downfall. His rival Aëtius accused him of high treason before Placidia. The Court of Ravenna declared him an enemy of the Empire, and an army was sent against him. Boniface did not hesitate he went into open rebellion against Rome.

Augustin was thunderstruck by his desertion. But what way was there to make this violent man listen to reason, who had at least the appearances of right on his side, since there was a chance they had slandered him to the Empress, and who thought it quite natural to take vengeance on his enemies? His recent successes had still more intoxicated him. He had just defeated the two generals who had been sent to reduce him, and he was accordingly master of the situation in Africa. What was he going to do? The worst resolutions were to be feared from this conqueror, all smarting, and hungry for revenge. Nevertheless, Augustin resolved to write to him. His letter is a masterpiece of tact, of prudence, and also of Christian and episcopal firmness.

It would have been dangerous to declare to this triumphant rebel: “You are in the wrong. Your duty is to submit to the Emperor, your master.” Boniface was quite capable of answering: “What are you interfering for? Politics are no business of yours. Look after your Church!” This is why Augustin very cleverly speaks to him from beginning to end of his letter simply as a bishop, eager for the salvation of a very dear son in Jesus Christ. And so, by keeping strictly to his office of spiritual director, he gained his end more surely and entirely and, as a doctor of souls, he ventured to remind Boniface of certain truths which he would never have dared to mention as counsellor.

According to Augustin, the disgrace of the Count, and the evils which this event had brought on Africa, came principally from his attachment to worldly benefits. It was the ambition and covetousness of himself and his followers which had done all the harm. Let him free himself from perishable things, let him prevent the thefts and plundering of those under him. Let him, who some time ago wished to live in perfect celibacy, now keep at least to his wife and no other. Finally, let him remember his sworn allegiance. Augustin did not mean to go into the quarrel between Boniface and Placidia, and he gave no opinion as to the grievances of either. He confined himself to saying to the general in rebellion: “If you have received so many benefits from the Roman Empire, do not render evil for good. If, on the other hand, you have received evil, do not render evil for evil.”

It is clear that the Bishop of Hippo could scarcely have given any other advice to the Count of Africa. To play the part of political counsellor in the very entangled state of affairs was extremely risky. How was it possible to exhort a victorious general to lay down his arms before the conquered? And yet, in estimating the situation from the Christian standpoint alone, Augustin had found a way to say everything essential, all that could profitably be said at the moment.

How did Boniface take a letter which was, in the circumstances, so courageous? What we know is that he did not alter his plans. It would indeed have been very difficult for him to withdraw and yield and more than ever since a new army under Sigisvultus had been sent against him in all haste. A real fatality compelled him to remain in revolt against Rome. Did he believe he was ruined, as has been stated, or else, through his family connections – let us remember that his wife was a Barbarian – had he been for a long time plotting with Genseric to divide Africa? He has been accused of that. What comes out is, that as soon as he heard of the arrival of Sigisvultus and the new expeditionary force, he called in the Vandals to his aid. This was the great invasion of 429.

Ere long, the Barbarians entered Numidia. The borderlands about Hippo were threatened. Stricken with terror, the inhabitants in a mass fled before the enemy, leaving the towns empty. Those who were caught in them rushed into the churches, imploring the bishops and priests to help them. Or else, giving up all hope of life, they cried out to be baptized, confessed, did penance in public. The Vandals, as we have seen, aimed specially at the clergy they believed that the Catholic priests were the soul of the resistance. Should not these priests, then, in the very interest of the Church, save themselves for quieter times, and escape the persecution by flight? Many sheltered themselves behind the words of Christ: “When they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another.”

But Augustin strongly condemned the cowardliness of the deserters. In a letter addressed to his fellow-bishop, Honoratus, and intended to be read by all the clergy in Africa, he declares that bishops and priests should not abandon their churches and dioceses, but stay at their post till the end – till death and till martyrdom – to fulfil the duties of their ministry. If the faithful were able to withdraw into a safe place, their pastors might accompany them if not, they should die in the midst of them. Thus they would have at least the consolation of lending aid to the dying in their last moments, and especially of preventing the apostasies which readily took place under the shock of the terror. For Augustin, who foresaw the future, the essential thing was that later, when the Vandal wave had swept away, Catholicism might flourish again in Africa. To this end, the Catholics must be made to remain in the country, and the greatest possible number be strengthened in their faith. Otherwise, the work of three centuries would have to be done all over again.

We must admire this courage and clear-mindedness in an old man of seventy-five, who was being continually harassed by the complaints and lamentations of a crowd of demoralized fugitives. The position became more and more critical. The siege lines were drawing closer. But in the midst of all this dread, Augustin was given a gleam of hope: Boniface made his peace with the Empire. Henceforward, his army, turning against the Barbarians, might protect Hippo and perhaps save Africa.

Had Augustin a hand in this reconciliation? There is not the least doubt that he desired it most earnestly. In a letter to Count Darius, the special envoy sent from Ravenna to treat with the rebel general, he warmly congratulates the Imperial plenipotentiary on his mission of peace. “You are sent,” he said to him, “to stop the shedding of blood. Therefore rejoice, illustrious and very dear son in Jesus Christ, rejoice in this great and real blessing, and rejoice upon it in the Lord, Who has made you what you are, and entrusted to you a task so beautiful and important. May God seal the good work He has done for us through you!” And Darius answered: “May you be spared to pray such prayers for the Empire and the Roman State a long time yet, my Father.”

But the Empire was lost in Africa. If the reconciliation of the rebellious Count had given some illusions to Augustin, they did not last long. Boniface, having failed in his endeavours to negotiate the retreat of the Vandals, was defeated by Genseric, and obliged to fall back into Hippo with an army of mercenary Goths. Thus it came about that Barbarians held against other Barbarians one of the last Roman citadels in Africa. From the end of May, 430, Hippo was blockaded on the land side and on the side of the sea.

In great tribulation, Augustin resigned himself to this supreme humiliation, and to all the horrors which would have to be endured if the city were captured. As a Christian, he left all to the will of God, and he would repeat to those about him the words of the Psalm: “Righteous art Thou, O Lord, and upright are Thy judgments.” A number of fugitive priests, and among them Possidius, Bishop of Guelma, had taken refuge in the episcopal residence. One day, when he lost heart, Augustin, who was at table with them, said:

“In front of all these disasters, I ask God to deliver this city from the siege, or, if that be not His decree, to give His servants the necessary strength to do His will, or at least to take me from this world and receive me into His bosom.”

But it is more than probable that discouragement of that kind was only momentary with him, and that in his sermons, as well as in his conversations with Boniface, he did his utmost to stimulate the courage of the people and the general. His correspondence includes a series of letters written about this time to the Count of Africa, which manifest here and there a very warlike spirit. These letters are most certainly apocryphal. Yet they do reveal something of what must have been the sentiments just then of the people of Hippo and of Augustin himself. One of these letters emphatically congratulates Boniface upon an advantage gained over the Barbarians.

“Your Excellency knows, I believe, that I am stretched upon my bed, and that I long for my last day to come. I am overjoyed at your victory. I urge you to save the Roman city. Rule your soldiers like a good Count. Do not trust too much to your own strength. Put your glory in Him Who gives courage, and you will never fear any enemy. Farewell!”

The words do not matter much. Whatever may have been Augustin’s last farewell to the defender of Hippo, it was no doubt couched in language not unlike this. In any case, posterity has wished to believe that the dying bishop maintained to the end his unyielding demeanour face to face with the Barbarians. It would be a misuse of words to represent him as a patriot in the present sense of the term. It is no less true that this African, this Christian, was an admirable servant of Rome. Until his death he kept his respect for it, because in his eyes the Empire meant order, peace, civilization, the unity of faith in the unity of rule.

Saint Augustin

In the third month of the siege, he fell ill. He had a fever – no doubt an infectious fever. The country people, the wounded soldiers who had taken refuge in Hippo after the rout of Boniface, must have brought in the germs of disease. It was, moreover, the end of August, the season of epidemics, of damp heats and oppressive evenings, the time of the year most dangerous and trying for sick people.

All at once, Augustin took to his bed. But even there, upon the bed in which he was going to die, he was not left in quiet. People came to ask his prayers for some possessed by devils. The old bishop was touched he wept and asked God to give him this grace, and the devils went out of those poor crazy men. This cure, as may well be thought, made a great noise in the city. A man brought him another one sick to be healed. Augustin, being most weary, said to the man:

“My son, you see the state I am in. If I had any power over illnesses, I should begin by curing myself.”

But the man had no idea of being put off: he had had a dream. A mysterious voice had said to him, “Go and see Augustin: he will put his hands on the sick person, who will rise up cured.” And, in fact, he did. I think these are the only miracles the saint made in his life. But what matters that, when the continual miracle of his charity and his apostolate is considered?

Soon the bishop’s illness grew worse. Eventually, he succeeded in persuading them not to disturb him any more, and that they would let him prepare for death in silence and recollection. During the ten days that he still lingered, nobody entered his cell save the physicians, and the servants who brought him a little food. He availed himself of the quiet to repent of his faults. For he was used to say to his clergy that “even after baptism, Christians – nay, priests, however holy they might be, ought never go out of life without having made a general confession.” And the better to rouse his contrition, he had desired them to copy out on leaves the Penitential Psalms, and to put these leaves on the wall of his room. He read them continually from his pillow.

Here, then, he is alone with himself and God. A solemn moment for the great old man!

He called up his past life, and what struck him most, and saddened him, was the foundering of all his human hopes. The enemies of the Church, whom he had battled with almost without ceasing for forty years, and had reason to believe conquered – all these enemies were raising their heads: Donatists, Arians, Barbarians. With the Barbarians’ help, the Arians were going to be the masters of Africa. The churches, reformed at the price of such long efforts, would be once more destroyed. And see now! the authority which might have supported them, which he had perhaps too much relied upon – well, the Empire was sinking too. It was the end of order, of substantial peace, of that minimum of safety which is indispensable for all spiritual effort. From one end to the other of the Western world, Barbarism triumphed.

Sometimes, amid these sad thoughts of the dying man, the clangour of clarions blared out – there was a call to arms on the ramparts. And these musics came to him in his half-delirious state very mournfully, like the trumpets proclaiming the Judgment Day. Yes, it might well be feared that the Day of Wrath was here! Was it really the end of the world, or only the end of a world? Truly, there were then enough horrors and calamities to make people think of the morrow with dismay. Many of the signs predicted by Scripture dazed the imagination: desolations, wars, persecutions of the Church, increased with terrific steadiness and cruelty. Yet all the signs foretold were not there. How many times already had humanity been deceived in its fear and its hope! In reality, though all seemed to shew that the end of time was drawing nigh, no one could tell the day nor the hour of the Judgment. Hence, men should watch always, according to the words of Christ. But if this trial of Barbarian war was to pass like the others, how woeful it was while it endured! How hard for Augustin, above all, who saw nearly the whole of his work thrown down.

One thought at least consoled him, that since his conversion, for forty years and more, he had done all he was able – he had worked for Christ even beyond his strength. He said to himself that he left behind him the fruit of a huge labour, a whole body of doctrine and apology which would safeguard against error whatever was left of his flock and of the African Church. He himself had founded a Church which might serve as an example, his dear Church of Hippo, that he had done his best to fashion after the divine plan. And he had also founded convents, and a library full of books, which had become still larger recently through the generosity of Count Darius. He had lessoned his clergy who, once the disasters were past, would scatter the good seed of Truth. Books, monasteries, priests, a sure and solid nourishment for the mind, shelters and guides for souls – there is what he bequeathed to the workers of the future. And with a little joy mingling with his sorrow, he read on the corner of the wall where his bed was, this verse of the Psalm: “Man goeth forth unto his work and to his labour until the evening.” He, too, had worked until evening.

If the earthly reward seemed to slip from him now, if all was sinking around him, if his episcopal city was beleaguered, if he himself, although still a strong man – “he had the use of all his limbs,” says Possidius “a keen ear and perfect sight” – if he himself was dying too soon, it was doubtless in expiation for the sins of his youth. At this remembrance of his disorders, the tears fell over his face. And yet, however wild had been his conduct at that time, he could descry in it the sure marks of his vocation. He recalled the despair and tears of his mother, but also his enthusiasm when he read the Hortensius his disgust for the world and all things when he lost his friend. In the old man he recognized the new. And he said to himself: “Nay! but that was myself. I have not changed. I have only found myself. I have only changed my ways. In my youth, in the strongest time of my mistakes, I had already risen to turn to Thee, my God!”

His worst foolishness had been the desire to understand all things. He had failed in humility of mind. Then God had given him the grace to submit his intelligence to the faith. He had believed, and then he had understood, as well as he could, as much as he could. In the beginning, he acknowledged very plainly that he did not understand. And then faith had thrown open the roads of understanding. He had splendidly employed his reason, within the limits laid down against mortal weakness. Had that not been the proud desire of his youth? To understand! What greater destiny?

To love also. After he had freed himself from carnal passions, he had much employed his heart. He thought of all the charity he had poured out upon his people and the Church, upon all he had loved in God – upon all he had done, upon all the consequence of his labour, inspired and strengthened by the divine love. Yes, to love – all was in that! Let the Barbarians come! Had not Christ said: “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world”? So long as there shall be two men gathered together for love of Him, the world will not be entirely lost, the Church and civilization will be saved. The religion of Christ is a leaven of action, understanding, sacrifice, and charity. If the world be not at this hour already condemned, if the Day of Judgment be still far off, it is from this religion that shall arise the new influences of the future.

And so Augustin forgot his sufferings and his human disappointments in the thought that, in spite of all, the Church is eternal. The City of God gathered in the wreckage of the earthly city: “The Goth cannot capture what Christ protects”. And as his sufferings increased, he turned all his thoughts on this unending City, “where we rest, where we see, where we love,” where we find again all the beloved ones who have gone away. All – he called them all in this supreme moment: Monnica, Adeodatus, and her who had nearly lost herself for him, and all those he had held dear.

On the fifth day of the calends of September, Augustin, the bishop, was very low. They were praying for him in the churches at Hippo, and especially in the Basilica of Peace, where he had preached and worked for others so long. Possidius of Guelma was in the bishop’s room, and the priests and monks. They sent up their prayers with those of the dying man. And no doubt they sang for the last time before him one of those liturgical chants which long ago at Milan had touched him even to tears, and now, since the siege, in the panic caused by the Barbarians, they dared not sing any more. Augustin, guarding himself even now against the too poignant sweetness of the melody, attended only to the sense of the words. And he said:

“My soul thirsts after the living God. When shall I appear before His face?”

“He Who is Life has come down into this world. He has suffered our death, and He has caused it to die by the fullness of His life. Life has come down to you – and will you not ascend towards Him and live?”

He was passing into Life and into Glory. He was going very quietly, amid the chanting of hymns and the murmur of prayers. Little by little his eyes were veiled, the lines of his face became rigid. His lips moved no more. Possidius, the faithful disciple, bent over him. Like a patriarch of the Scriptures, Augustin of Thagaste “slept with his fathers.”

And now, whatever may be the worth of this book, which has been planned and carried out in a spirit of veneration and love for the saint, for the great heart and the great intellect that Augustin was, for this unique type of the Christian, the most perfect and the most admirable perhaps that has ever been seen – the author can only repeat in all humility what was said fifteen hundred years ago by the Bishop of Guelma, Augustin’s first biographer:

“I do desire of the charity of those into whose hands this work shall fall, to join with me in thanksgiving and blessing to Our Lord, Who has inspired me to make known this life to those present and those absent, and has given me the strength to do it. Pray for me and with me, that I may try here below to follow in the steps of this peerless man, whom, by God’s goodness, I have had the happiness of living with for such a long time.”

About This EBook

The text of this ebook is taken from the book Saint Augustin by Louis Bertrand. The edition used was translated from French to English by Vincent O’Sullivan, was published by Constable and Company, Ltd., in London, England in 1914.

A plain text version was produced by Project Gutenberg by Charles Aldorondo, Tiffany Vergon, William Flis, and Distributed Proofreaders.

The cover image is a painting of Saint Augustine by Martin de Vos, 1570. It was originally part of the retablo of the Convent of San Agustin, Sevilla, Spain. It is currently in the Museo de Bellas Artes de Sevilla, was photographed on 3 November 2020 by JlFilpoC, and the image was swiped from Wikimedia Commons.

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