Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

governed the Christians of St. Thomas on the pepper-coast of Malabar; a church was planted in Ceylon, and the missionaries pursued the footsteps of commerce to the extremities of Asia.” Two Persian monks had long resided in China, perhaps in the royal city of Nankin, the seat of a monarch addicted to foreign superstitions, and who actually received an embassy from the Isle of Ceylon. Amidst their pious occupations, they viewed with a curious eye the common dress of the Chinese, the manufactures of silk, and the myriads of silk-worms, whose education (either on trees or in houses) had once been considered as the labor of queens.” They soon discovered that it was impracticable to transport the short-lived insect, but that in the eggs a numerous progeny might be preserved and multiplied in a distant climate. Religion or interest had more power over the Persian monks than the love of their country: after a long journey, they arrived at Constantinople, imparted their project to the emperor, and were liberally encouraged by the gifts and promises of Justinian. To the historians of that prince, a campaign at the foot of Mount Caucasus has seemed more deserving of a minute relation than the labors of these missionaries of commerce, who again entered China, deceived a jealous people by concealing the eggs of the silk-worm in a hollow cane, and returned in triumph with the spoils of the East. Under their direction, the eggs were hatched at the proper season by the artificial heat of dung; the worms were fed with mulberry leaves; they lived and labored in a foreign climate ; a sufficient number of butterflies were saved to propagate the race, and trees were planted to supply the nourishment of the rising generations. Experience and reflection corrected the errors of a new attempt, and the Sogdoito ambassadors acknowledged, in the succeeding reign, that the Romans were not inferior to the natives of China in the education of the insects, and the manufactures of silk,” in which both China and Constantinople have been surpassed by the industry of modern Europe. I am not in. sensible of the benefits of elegant luxury; yet I reflect witk *See the Christian missions in India, in Cosmas (1. iii. pp. 178, 179, l. xi. 1 , 337), and consult Asseman. Bibliot. Orient. (tom. iv. pp. 413, 548). * The invention; manufacture, and general use of silk in China. may be see., in Duhalde (Description Générale de la Chine, tom. ii. pp. 165, 205–223). The province of Chekian is the most renowned both for quantity and quality. * Procopius (1. viii. Goth.c. iv. c. 17. Theophanés Byzant. apud Phot. Cod. lxxxiv. p. 38. Zonaras, tom. ii. 1, xiv. p. 69). Pagi (tom. ii. p. 602) assigns to the year 552 this memorable importation. Memander (in Excerpt. Legat. p. 107) mensome pain, that if the importers of silk had introduced the art of printing, already practised by the Chinese, the comedies of Menander and the entire decades of Livy would have been perpetuated in the editions of the sixth century. A larger view of the globe might at least have promoted the improvement of speculative science, but the Christian geography was forcibly extracted from texts of Scripture, and the study of nature was the surest symptom of an unbelieving mind. The orthodox faith confined the habitable world to one temperate zone, and represented the earth as an oblong surface, four hundred days’ journey in length, two hundred in breadth, encompassed by the ocean, and covered by the solid crystal of the firmament.”

tions, the admiration of the Sogdoites; and Theophylact Simocatta" (l. vii. c. 9) darkly represents the two rival kingdoms in (China) the country of silk.

IV. The subjects of Justinian were dissatisfied with the times, and with the government. Europe was overrun by the Barbarians, and Asia by the monks: the poverty of the West discouraged the trade and manufactures of the East : the produce of labor was consumed by the unprofitable servants of the church, the state, and the army; and a rapid decrease was felt in the fixed and circulating capitals which constitute the national wealth. The public distress had been alleviated by the economy of Anastasius, and that prudent emperor accumulated an immense treasure, while he delivered his people from the most odious or oppressive taxes.” Their gratitude universally applauded the abolition of the gold of affliction, a personal tribute on the industry of the poor,” but more intolerable, as it should seem, in the form than in the substance, since the flourishing city of Edessa paid only one hundred and forty pounds of gold, which was collected in four years from ten thousand artificers.” Yet such was the parsimony which supported this liberal disposition, that, in a reign of twenty-seven years, Anastasius saved, from his annual revenue, the enormous sum of thir. teen millions sterling, or three hundred and twenty thousand pounds of gold.” His example was neglected, and his treasure was abused, by the nephew of Justin. The riches of Justinian were speedily exhausted by alms and buildings, by ambitious wars, and ignominious treaties. His revenues were found inadequate to his expenses. Every art was tried to extort from the people the gold and silver which he scattered with a lavish hand from Persia to France: * his reign was marked by the vicissitudes, or rather by the combat, of rapaciousness and avarice, of splendor and poverty; he lived with the reputation of hidden treasures,” and bequeathed to his successor the payment of his debts.” Such a character has been justly accused by the voice of the people and of posterity: but public discontent is credulous; private malice is bold; and a lover of truth will peruse with a suspicious eye the instructive anecdotes of Procopius. The secret historian represents only the vices of Justinian, and those vices are darkened by his malevolent pencil. Am. biguous actions are imputed to the worst motives; error is confounded with guilt, accident with design, and laws with abuses; the partial injustice of a moment is dexterously applied as the general maxim of a reign of thirty-two years; the emperor alone is made responsible for the faults of his of. ficers, the disorders of the times, and the corruption of his subjects; and even the calamities of nature, plagues, earthquakes, and inundations, are imputed to the prince of the daemons, who had mischievously assumed the form of Justinian.* * See Corippus de Laudibus Justini Aug. 1. ii. 260, &c., 384, &c.

77 Cosmas, surnamed Indicopleustes, or the Indian navigator, performed his voyage about the year 522, and composed at Alexandria, between 5:5, and 547, Christian Topography (Montfaucon, Praefat. c. i.), in which he refutes the im: pious opinion, that the earth is a globe; and Photius had read this work (Cod: xxxvi. pp. 9, 10), which displays the prejudices of a monk, with the knowledge of a merchant; the most J. part has been given in French and in Greek by Melchisedec Theyenot (Rélations Curieuses, part i.), and the woole 13 3ince published in a splendid edition by Père Montfaucon (Nova, Collectio Patrum, Paris, 1707, 2 vols. in fol., tom. ii. pp. 113–316). But the editor, a theologian, might blush at not discovering the Nestorian heresy of Cosmas, which has been detected by La Croz (Christianisme des Indes, tom. i. pp. 40–56).

* See the character of Anastasius in Joannes Lydus do Magistratibus, ). iii. C. 45, 46, pp. 230–232. His economy is there said to have degenerated into parsimony. He is accused of having taken away the levying of taxes and payment of the troops from the municipal authorities (the decurionate) in the Eastern cities, and intrusted it to an extorticinate officer named Mannlis. But he admits that the imperial revenue was enormously increased by this measure. A statue of

iron had been erected to Anastasius in the Hippodrome, on which appeared one morning this pasquinade :

Eikóva oroi, BaoruMeä koguod,06pe, rivée orwössipov
Stigguev, tos XaAkhs (oigai,) &riuotépay (ToMAów, Anth.),
"Avri bovou, revims T' 6xons, Aumoi re kai opyis
“H (ots, Anth.) Tâvra (b6eipet ori, buxoxpmpioa isvil.
Teitova &m SkúAAms 6Aonu dive 6evro Xdpubötv.
'A'yptov (op mortmu rootov "Avagorčortov.
Ae:80% kai ov, SkúAAa, teats (bpeari, ui ge kai airmw
Bpúšm, XaXxeinu 6aipova kepuariaas.

7s Evagrius |. ii. c. 39, 40) is minute and floo, but angry with Zosimus for calumniating the great Constantine. In collecting all the bonds and records of the tax, the i. of Anastasius was diligent and artful. fathers were sometimes compelled to prostitute their daughters (Zosim. Hist: ). ii. c. 38, pp 165, 166, Lipsiae, 1784). Timotheas of Gaza chose such an event for the subject of a tragedy (Suidas, tom. iii. p. 475), which contributed to the abolition of the tax (Cedrenus, p. 35),=a happy instance (if it be true) of the use of the theatre. 79 See Josua Stylites, in the Bibliotheca Orientalis of Asseman (tom. i. p. 268). This capitation tax is slightly mentioned in the Chronicle of Edessa. 80 Procopius (Adecdot. c. 19) fixes this sum from the report of the treasurers themselves. Tiberias had vicies termillies, but far different was his empire from that of Anastasius. * Evagrius (l. iv. c. 30), in the next generation, was moderate and well informed ; and Zonaras (l. xiv. c. 61), in the xiith century, had read with care, and thought without prejudice ; yet their colors are almost as black as those of the anecdotes. * Procopius (Anecdot. c. 30) relates the idle conjectures of the times. The death of Justinian, says the secret historian, will expose his wealth or poverty.

This epigram is also found in the Anthology. Jacobs, vol. iv. p. 104, with some better readings.

This iron statue meetly do we place
To thee, world-wasting king, than brass more base,
For all the death, the penury, famine, woe,
That from thy wide-destroying avarice flow.
This fell Charybdis, Scylla, near to thee,
This fierce devouring Anastasius, see;
And tremble, Scylla 1 on thee, too, his greed,
Coining thy brazen deity, may feed.

But, Lydus, with no uncommon inconsistency in such writers, proceeds to

paint the character of Anastasius as endowed with almost every virtue, not ex§"...# the utmost, liberality. He was only prevented by death from relievin

objects altogether from the capitation tax, which he greatly {i,j}:

, “Plurima sunt vivo mimium neglecta parenti,
Unde tot exhaustus contraxit debita fiscus.”

Centenaries of gold were brought by strong arms into the Hippodrome:
“Debita persolvit, genitoris cauta recepit.”
* The Anecdotes (c. 11–14, 18, 20-30) supply many facts and more complaints.”

* The work of Lydus de Magistratibus (published by Hase at Paris, 1812, and reprinted in the new edition of the Byzantine historialis) was written during the reign of Justinian. This work of Lydus throws no great light on the earlier history of the Roman magistracy, but gives some curious details of the changes and retrenchments in the offices of state, which took place at this time. The personal history of the author, with the account of his early and rapid advancement, and the emoluments of the posts which he successively held, with the bitter disappointment which he expresses, at finding himself, at the height of his ambition, in an unpaid place, is an excellentilustration of this Statement. Gibbon has before, c. iv. n. 45, and c. xvii. n. 112, traced the progress of a Roman citizen to the highest honors of the state under the empire; the steps by which Lydus reached his humbler eminence may likewise throw light on the civil seryice at this p. riod. He was first received into the office of the Praetorian praefeet; became a notary in that office, and made in one year 1000 golden solidi, and that without extortion. His place and the influence of his relatives obtained him a wife with 400 pounds of gold for her dowry. He became chief chartula. rius, with an annual stipend of twenty-four solidi, and considerable emoluments for all the various services which he performed. He rose to an Augustalis, and finally to the dignity of Corniculus, the highest, and at one time the most lucra. tive office in the department. But the Praetorian praefect had gradually been deprived of his powers and his honors. He lost the superintendence of the sun. ly and manufacture of arms; the uncontrolled charge of the public posts; the evying of the troops; the command of the army in war when the emperors geased nominally to command in person, but realiy through the Praetorian præfect; that of the household troops, which fell to the magister aula. At length the office was so completely stripped of its power, as to be virtually abolished (see de Magist. l. iii. e. 40, p. 220, &c.). This diminution of the office of the praefect destroyed the emoluments of his subordinate officers, and Lydus not only drew no revenue from his dignity, but expended upon it all the gains of his former services. Lydus gravely refers this calamitous, and, as he considers it, fatal degrada#. of the Praetorian office to the alteration in the style of the official documents rom Latin to Greek : and refers to a prophecy of a certain Fonteius, which con

nected the ruin of the Roman empire with its abandonment of it - - - -- 3f its language Lydus chiefly owed his promotion to his knowledge of Latin —M. guage. 85 one to Scythopolis, capital of the second Palestine, and twelve for the rest of the province. Aleman. (p. 59) honestly produces this fact from a MS. life of St. Šabas, by his disciple Cyril, in the Vatican library, and since published by Cotelerius.

After this precaution, I shall briefly relate the anecdotes of avarice and rapine under the following heads: I. Justinian was so profuse that he could not be liberal. The civil and military officers, when they were admitted into the service of the palace, obtained an humble rank and a moderate stipend; they ascended by seniority to a station of affluence and repose; the annual pensions, of which the most honorable class was abolished by Justinian, amounted to four hundred thousand pounds; and this domestic economy was deplored by the venal or indigent courtiers as the last outrage on the majesty of the empire. The posts, the salaries of physicians, and the nocturnal illuminations, were objects of more general concern; and the cities might justly complain, that he usurped the municipal revenues which had been appropriated to these useful institutions. Even the soldiers were injured; and such was the decay of military spirit, that they were injured with impunity. The emperor refused, at the return of each fifth year, the customary donative of five pieces of gold, reduced his veterans to beg their bread, and suffered unpaid armies to melt away in the wars of Italy and Persia. II. The humanity of his predecessors had always remitted, in some auspicious circumstances of their reign, the arrears of the public tribute, and they dexterously assumed the merit of resigning those claims which it was impracticable to enforce. “Justinian, in the space of thirty-two years, has never granted a similar indulgence; and many of his subjects have renounced the possession of those lands whose value is insufficient to satisfy the demands of the treasury. To the cities which had suffered by hostile inroads Anastasius promised a general exemption of seven years: the provinces of Justinian have been ravaged by the Persians and Arabs, the Huns and Sclavonians; but his vain and ridiculous dispensation of a single year has been confined to those places which were actually taken by the enemy.” Such is the language of the secret historian, who expressly denies that any indulgence was granted to Palestine after the revolt of the Samaritans; a false and odious charge, confuted by the authentic record which attests a relief of thirteen centenaries of gold (fifty-two thousand pounds) obtained for that desolate province by the intercession of St. Sabas.” III.

« ForrigeFortsett »