The assembly could hardly be induced to hear the ambassadors through; and, as soon as they had finished their address, the whole council broke forth into cries of dissent and displeasure, and even into shouts of derision. Order was at length restored, and the officers, whose duty it was to express the sentiments of the assembly, gave for their reply that the Gains had never received any thing but violence and injuries from Rome, or any thing but kindness .and good-will from Carthage; and that they had no idea of being guilty of the folly of bringing the impending; storm of Hannibal’s hostility upon their own heads, merely for the sake of averting it from their ancient and implacable foes. Thus the ambassadors were every where repulsed. They found no friendly disposition toward the Roman power till they had crossed the Rhone.
Hannibal began now to form his plans, in a very deliberate and cautious manner, for a march into Italy. He knew well that this was an expedition of such magnitude and duration as to require beforehand the most careful and well-considered arrangements, both for the forces which were to go, and for the states and communities which were to remain. The winter was coming on. His first measure was to dismiss a large portion of his forces, that they might visit their homes. He told them that he was intending some great designs for the ensuing spring, which might take them to a great distance, and keep them for a long time absent from Spain, and he would, accordingly, give them the intervening time to visit their families and their homes, and to arrange their affairs. This act of kind consideration and confidence renewed the attachment of the soldiers to their commander, and they returned to his camp in the spring not only with new strength and vigor, but with redoubled attachment to the service in which they were engaged.
Hannibal, after sending home his soldiers, retired himself to New Carthage, which, as will be seen by the map, is farther west than Saguntum, where he went into winter quarters, and devoted himself to the maturing of his designs. Besides the necessary preparations for his own march, he had to provide for the government of the countries that he should leave. He devised various and ingenious plans to prevent the danger of insurrections and rebellions while he was gone. One was, to organize an army for Spain out of soldiers drawn from Africa, while the troops which were to be employed to garrison Carthage, and to sustain the government there, were taken from Spain. By thus changing the troops of the two countries, each country was controlled by a foreign soldiery, who were more likely to be faithful in their obedience to their commanders, and less in danger of sympathizing with the populations which they were respectively employed to control, than if each had been retained in its own native land.