« ForrigeFortsett »
but those walls had been shaken by a recent carthquake, and the fall of fifty-eight towers had opened a large and tremendous breach. The damage indeed was speedily repaired; but this accident was aggravated by a superstitious fear, that Heaven itself had delivered the Imperial city to the shepherds of Scythia, who were strangers to the laws, the language, and the religion, of the Romans. 21
In all their invasions of the civilized empires of the South, the Scythian shepherds have been uniformly actuated by a savage and destructive spirit. The laws of war, that restrain the exercise of national rapine and murder, are founded on two principles of substantial interest; the knowledge of the permanent benefits which may be obtained by a moderate use of conquest; and a just apprehension, lest the desolation which we inflict on the enemy's country may be retaliated on our own. But these considerations of hope and fear are almost unknown in the pastoral state of nations. The Huns of Attila may, without injustice, be compared to the Moguls and Tartars, before their primitive manners were changed by religion and luxury; and the evidence of Oriental history may reflect some light on the short and im. perfect annals of Rome. After the Moguls had subducu the northern provinces of China, it was seriously proposed, not in the hour of victory and passion, but in calm deliberate council, to exterminate all the inhabitants of that populeus country, that the vacant land might be converted to the pasture of cattle. The firmness of a Chinese mandarin,22 who insinuated some principles of rational policy into the mind of Zingis, diverted him from the execution of this horrid design. But in the cities of Asia, which yielded to the Moguls, the inhuman abuse of the rights of war was exercised with a regular form of discipline, which may, with equal reason, though not with equal authority, be imputed to the victorious Huns. The inhabitants, who had submit
21 Tillemont (Hist. des Empereurs, tom. vi. pr. 106, 107) has paid great attention to this memorable earthquake; which was felt as far from Constantinople as Antioch and Alexandria, and is celebrated by all the ecclesiastical writers. In the hands oi a popular preacher, an earthquake is an engine of admirable
22 He represented to the emperor of the Moguls that the four provinces (Petcheli, Chantong, Chansi, and Leaotong), which he already possessed, might annually produce, under a mild administration, 500,000 ounces of silver, 400,000 measures of rice, and 800,000 pieces of silk. Gaubil, Hist. de la Dynastie 'des Mongous, pp. 58, 59. Yelutchou:ay (such was the name of the mandarin) was a wise and virtuous minister, who saved his country, and civilized the conquerors.*
* Compare the life of this remarkable man, translated from the Chinese by M. Abel Remusat Nouveaux Melanges Asiatiques, t. ii. p. 67.-M.
ted to their discretion, were ordered to evacuate their houses, and to assemble in some plain adjacent to the city ; where a division was made of the vanquished into three parts. The first class consisted of the soldiers of the garrison, and of the young men capable of bearing arms; and their fate was instantly decided; they were either enlisted among the Moguls, or they were massacred on the spot by the troops, who, with pointed spears and bended bows, had formed a circle round the captive multitude. The second class, composed of the young and beautiful women, of the artificers of every rank and profession, and of the more wealthy or honorable citizens, from whom a private ransom might be expected, was distributed in equal or proportionable lots. The remainder, whose life or death was alike useless to the conquerors, were permitted to return to the city; which, in the mean while, had been stripped of its valuable furniture; and a tax was imposed on those wretched inhabitants for the indulgence of breathing their native air. Such was the behavior of the Moguls, when they were not conscious of any extraordinary rigor.28 But the most casual provocation, the slightest motive of caprice or convenience, often provoked them to involve a whole people in an indiscrimi. nate massacre; and the ruin of some flourishing cities was executed with such unrelenting perseverance, that, according to their own expression, horses might run, without stumbling, over the ground where they had once stood. The three great capitals of Khorasan, and Maru, Neisabour, and Herat, were destroyed by the armies of Zingis; and the exact account which was taken of the slain amounted to four millions three hundred and forty-seven thousand per
Timur, or Tamerlane, was educated in a less barbarous age, and in the profession of the Mahometan religion ; yet, if Attila equalled the hostile ravages of Tamerlane, 25
23 Particular instances would be endless ; but the curious reader may consult the life of Gengiscan, by Petit de la Croix, the Histoire des Mongous, and the fifteenth book of the History of the Huns.
24 At Maru, 1,300,000; at Herat, 1,600,000; at Neisabour, 1,747,000. D’Herbelot, Bibliothèque Orientale, pp. 380, 381. I use the orthography of D'Apville's maps It must, however, be allowed, that the Persians were disposed to exaggeralo their losses and the Moguls to magnify their exploits.
25 Cherefeddin Ali, his servile panegyrist, would afford us many horrid examples. In his camp before Delhi, Timour massacred 100,000 Indian prisoners who had smiled when the army of their countrymen appeared in sight (Hist. de Timur Bec, tom. iii. p. 90). The people of Ispahan supplied 70,000 human skullo for the structure of several lofty towers (id. toni. i. p. 434). A similar tax was levied on the revolt of Bagdad (tom. iii. p. 370); and the exact account, which Cherefeddin - was not able to procure from the proper otticers, is stated by another historian (Almed Arabsiada, tom. ii. p. 175, vers. Manger) at 90,000 heads.
either the Tartar or the IIun might deserve the epithet of the ScouRGE OF GOD.26
It may be affirmed, with bolder assurance, that the Huns depopulated the provinces of the empire, by the murder of Roman subjects whom they led away into captivity. In the hands of a wise legislator, such an industrious colony might have contributed to diffuse through the deserts of Scythia the rudiments of the useful and ornamental arts; but these captives, who had been taken in war, were accidentally dispersed among the hordes that obeyed the empire of Attila. The estimate of their respective value was formed by the simple judgment of unenlightened and unprejudiced Barbarians. Perhaps they might not understand the merit of a theologian, profoundly skilled in the controversies of the Trinity and the In Carnation; yet they respected the ministers of every religion; and the active zeal of the Christian missionaries, without approaching the person or the palace of the monarch, successfully labored in the propagation of the gospel.27 The pastoral tribes, who were ignorant of the distinction of landed property, must have disregarded the use, as well as the abuse, of civil jurisprudence; and the skill of an eloquent lawyer could excite only their contempt or their abhorrence.28
The perpetual intercourse of the Huns and the Goths had communicated the familiar knowledge of the two national dialects; and the Barbarians were ambitious of conversing in Latin, the military idiom even of the Eastern empire.29 But they disdained the language and the sciences of the Greeks; and the vain sophist, or grave philosopher, who had enjoyed the flattering applause of the schools, was mortified to find that his robust servant was a captive of more value and importance than himself. The mechanic arts were encouraged and esteemed, as they tended to satisfy the wants of the Huns. An architect in the
26 The ancients, Jornandes, Priscus, &c., are ignorant of this epithet. The modern Hungarians have imagined, that it was applied, by a hermit of Gaul, to Attila, who was pleased to insert it among the titles of his royal dignity. Mascou, ix. 23, and Tillemont, Hist. des Empereurs, tom. vi. p. 143.
21 The missionaries of St. Chrysostom had converted great numbers of the Scythians, who dwelt beyond the Danube in tents and wagons. Theodoret, 1. v. c. 31. Photius, p. 1517. The Mahometans, the Nestorians, and the Latin Christians, thought themselves secure of gaining the sons and grandsons of Zingis, wlio treated the rival missionaries with impartial favor.
23 The Germans, who exterminated Varus and his legions, had been particular. ly offended with the Roman laws and lawyers. One of the Barbarians, after the effectual precautions of cutting out the tongue of an a Ivocate, and sewing up his mouth, observed, with much satisfaction, that the viper could no longer hiss. Florus, iv. 12.
29 Priscus, p. 59. It should seem that the Huns preferred the Gothic and Latin languages to their own; which was probably a harsh and barreu idiom.
service of Onegesius, one of the favorites of Attila, was employed to construct a bath ; but this work was a rare example of private luxury; and the trades of the smith, the carpenter, the armorer, were much more adapted to supply a wandering people with the useful instruments of peace and war. But the merit of the physician was received with universal favor and respect: the Barbarians, who despised death, might be apprehensive of disease; and the haughty conqueror trembled in the presence of a captive, to whom he ascribed, perhaps, an imaginary power of prolonging or preserving his life.30 The Huns might be provoked to insuit the misery of their slaves, over whom they exercised å despotic command; 31 but their manners were not susceptible of a refined system of oppression; and the efforts of courage and diligence were often recompensed by the gift of freedom. The historian Priscus, whose embassy is a source of curious instruction, was accosted in the camp of Attila by a stranger, who saluted him in the Greek language, but whose dress and figure displayed the appearance of a wealthy Scythian. In the siege of Viminiacum, he had lost, according to his own account, his fortune and liberty ; he became the slave of Onegesius; but his faithful services, against the Romans and the Acatzires, had gradually raised him to the rank of the native Huns; to whom he was attached by the domestic pledges of a new wife and several children. The spoils of war had restored and improved his private property; he was admitted to the table of his former lord; and the apostate Greek blessed the hour of his captivity, since it had been the introduction to a happy and independent state; which he held by the honorable tenure of military service. This reflection naturally produced a dispute on the advantages and defects of the Roman government, which was severely arraigned by the apostate, and defended by Priscus in a prolix and feeble declamation. The freedman of Onegesius exposed, in true and lively colors, the vices of a declining empire, of which he had so long been the victim; the cruel absurdity of the Roman princes,
30 Philip de Comines, in his admirable picture of the last moments of Lewis XI. (Mémoires, l. vi. c. 12), represents the insolence of his physicii, who, in five months, extorted 54,000 crowns, and a rich bishopric, fion the stern, avaricious tyrant.
3i Priscus (n. 61) extols the equity of the Roman laws, which protected the life of a slave. Occidere solent (says Tacitus of the Germans) hou disciplinâ et severitate, sed impetu et irâ, ut inimicum, nisi quod impune. De Moribus Germ. c. 25. The leruli, who were the subjects of Attila, claimed, and exercised, the power of life and death over their slaves. See a remarkable instance in the second book of Agathias.
anable to protect their subjects against the public enemy, unwilling to trust them with arms for their own defence; the intolerable weight of taxes, rendered still more oppressive by the intricate or arbitrary modes of collection; the obscurity of numerous and contradictory laws; the tedious and expensive forms of judicial proceedings; the partial administration of justice'; and the universal corruption, which increased the influence of the rich, and aggravated the misfortunes of the poor. A sentiment of patriotic sympathy was at length revived in the breast of the fortunate exile : and he lamented, with a flood of tears, the guilt or weakness of those magistrates who had perverted the wisest and most salutary institutions. 32
The timid or selfish policy of the Western Romans had abandoned the Eastern empire to the Huns 33 The loss of armies, and the want of discipline or virtue, were not supplied by the personal character of the monarch. Theodosius might still affect the style, as well as the title, of Invincible Augustus ; but he was reduced to solicit the clemency of Attila, who imperiously dictated these harsh and humiliating conditions of peace. I. The emperor of the East resigned, by an express or tacit convention, an extensive and important territory, which stretched along the southern banks of the Danube, from Singidunum, or Belgrade, as far as Novæ, in the diocese of Thrace. The breadth was defined by the vague computation of fifteen * days' journey; but, from the proposal of Attila to remove the situation of the national market, it soon appeared, that he comprehended the ruined city of Naissus within the limits of his dominions. II. The king of the Huns required and obtained that his tribute or subsidy should be augmented from seven hundred pounds of gold to the annual sum of two thousand one hundred ; and he stipulated the immediate payment of six thousand pounds of gold, to defray the expenses, or to expiate the guilt, of the war. One might imagine, that such a demand, which scarcely equalled the measure of private wealth, would have been readily discharged by the opulent empire of the East; and the public distress affords a remarkable proof of the impoverished, or at least of the disorderly, state of the finances. A large
32 See the whole conversation in Priscus, pp. 59-62. 33 Nova iterum Orienti a:surgit ruina
quum nulla ab Occidentalibus ferrentur auxilia. Prosper-Tyro composed his Chronicle in the West; and his observation implies a censure.
* Five in the last edition of Priscus. Niebuhr, Byz. Hist. p. 147.---M.