Orders shouted in a strange guttural tongue that resounded
along the walls of the houses, which seemed dead and deserted,
while, behind the closed shutters, eyes watched the conquerors,
who, by right of war, were now masters of the city and of the lives
and fortunes of its people.
In their darkened ruins the inhabitants have given way to the same
feeling of panic which is aroused by natural cataclysms, those
devastating upheavals of the Earth, against which wisdom and
strength alike are of no avail.
Though the same feeling is experienced wherever the established
order of things is upset, when security ceases to exist, when all that
was previously protected by the laws of man and nature is suddenly
placed at the mercy of brutal, unreasoning force.
The earthquake, burying a whole people beneath the ruins of their
houses, the river in spate, sweeping away the bodies of drowned
peasants, together with the carcasses of cattle and rafters torn from
roofs, and the victorious army slaughtering all who resist, making
prisoners of the rest, looting by right of the sword, and thanking their
god to the sound of cannon.
All these are terrifying scourges which undermine all our belief in
eternal justice and all the trust we have been taught to place in divine
protection and human reason.