Page:15 decisive battles of the world (New York).djvu/133

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VICTORY OF ARMINIUS. 127 CHAPTER V.

VICTORY OF RMINIUS OVER THE ROMAN LEGIONS UNDER VARUS, A.D. 9.


Hac clade factam, ut Imperium quod in litore oceani naon steterat, in ripa Rheni fluminis staret.—Florus.

To a truly illustrious Frenchman, whose reverses as a minister can never obscure his achievements in the world of letters, we are indebted for the most profound and most eloquent estimate that we possess of this importance of the Germanic element in European civilization, and of the extent to which the human race is indebted to those brave warriors who long were the unconquered antagonists, and finally became the conquerors, of imperial Rome.

Twenty-three eventful years have passed away since M. Guizot delivered from the chair of modern history at Paris his course of lectures on the history of Civilization in Europe. During those years the spirit of earnest inquiry into the germs and primary developments of existing institutions has become more and more active and universal, and the merited celebrity of M. Guizot's work has proportionally increased. Its admirable analysis of the complex political and social organizations of which the modern civilized world is made up, must have led thousands to trace with keener interest the great crises of times past, by which the characteristics of the present were determined. The narrative of one of these great crises, of the epoch A.D. 9, when Germany took up arms for her independence against Roman invasion, has for us this special attraction—that it forms part of our own national history. Had Arminius been supine or unsuccessful, our Germanic ancestors would have been enslaved or exterminated in their original seats along the Eyder and the Elbe. This island would never have borne the name of England, and "we, this great English nation, whose race and language are now overrunning the earth, from one end of it to the other,"* would have been utterly cut off from existence.

  • Arnold's "Lectures on Modern History."