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THE EO1IAN EMPIEE TS THE WEST.
tyranny arc restrained by the mutual influence of fear and shame: republics have acquired order and stability; monarchies have imbibed the principles of freedom, or at least, of moderation; and some sense of honour and justice is introduced into the most defective constitutions, by the general manners of the times. In peace, the progress of knowledge and industry is accelerated by the emulation of so many active rivals; in war, the European forces are exercised by temperate and undeeis've contests. If a savage conqueror should issue from the deserts of Tartary, he must repeatedly vanquish the robust peasants of Russia, the numerous armies of Germany, the gallant nobles ot France, and the intrepid freemen of Britain; who, perhaps, might confederate for their common defence. Should the victorious barbarians carry slavery and desolation as far as the Atlantic ocean, ten thousand vessels would transport beyond their pursuit, the remains of civilized society; and Europe would revive and flourish in the American world, which is already filled with her colonies and institutions.*
III. Cold, poverty, and a life of danger and fatigue, fortify the strength and courage of barbarians. In every age they have oppressed the polite and peaceful nations of China, India, and Persia, who neglected, and still neglect, to counterbalance these natural powers by the resources of military art. The warlike states of antiquity, Greece, Macedonia,
likeness, but the situation of the late king of France excludes all suspicion of flattery; and I am ready to declare, that the concluding observations of my third volume (4to.) were written before his accession to the throne." Still the writer undoubtedly foresaw how it would be filled.—Ed.] * America now contains about six
millions of European blood and descent; and their numbers, at least in the north, are continually increasing. Whatever may be the changes of their political situation, they must preserve the manners of Europe; and we may reflect with some pleasure, that the English language will probably be diffused over an immense and populous continent. [How much farther and wider have these been extended since Gibbon's days! They have carried his works to be read, and his name to be honoured, in regions then unknown. It is the Gothic mind that we see at work all over the world; it is exploring every nook, penetrating every recess, developing every resource, and sowing everywhere the seeds of future liberty, prosperity, and happiness. The national gratification of making English the universal language, is poor and paltry in comparison with the proud consciousness of animating all existence with our spirit, and training an en240
OBSERVATIONS ON THE TALL OP
and Rome, educated a race of soldiers; exercised their bodies, disciplined their courage, multiplied their forces by regular evolutions, and converted the iron which they possessed into strong and serviceable weapons. But this superiority insensibly declined with their laws and manners ; and the feeble policy of Constantine and his successors armed and instructed, for the ruin of the empire, the rude valour of the barbarian mercenaries. The military art has been changed by the invention of gunpowder, which enables man to command the two most powerful agents of nature, air and fire. Mathematics, chemistry, mechanics, architecture, have been applied to the service of war; and the adverse parties oppose to each other the most elaborate modes of attack and of defence. Historians may indignantly observe, that the preparations of a siege would found and maintain a flourishing colony ;* yet we cannot be displeased, that the subversion of a city should be a work of cost and difficulty; or that an industrious people should be protected by those arts, which survive and supply the decay of military virtue. Cannon and fortifications now form an impregnable barrier against the Tartar horse; and Europe is secure from any future irruption of barbarians; since, before they can conquer, they must cease to be barbarous. Their gradual advances in the science of war would always be accompanied, as we may learn from the example of Russia, with a proportionable improvement in the arts of peace and civil policy, and they themselves must deserve a place among the polished nations whom they subdue.
Should these speculations be found doubtful or fallacious, there still remains a more humble source of comfort and hope. The discoveries of ancient and modern navigators, and the domestic history or tradition of the most enlightened posterity to venerate the ancestors by whom it was diffused. —Ed.] * On avoit fait venir (for the siege of Turin) 140
pieces de canon; et il est a remarquer que chaque gros canon monterevieut a environ 2300 6cua: il y avoit 110,000 boulets; 106,000 cartouches d'un facon, et 300,000 d'une autre; 21,000 bombes; 27,700 grenades; 15,000 sacs a terre; 30,000 instrumens pour le pionnage; 1,200,000 livres de poudre. Ajoutez a ces munitions, le plomb, le fer, et le fer-blanc, les cordages, tout ce qui sert aux mineurs, le soufre, le salpotre. les outils de toute espece. II est certain que les frais de tous ces pre"paratifs de destruction S'iffiroient pour fonder et pour faire fleurir la plus nombreuse colonic. Voltaire, Steele de Louis XIV.
lightened nations, represent the human savage naked both in mind and body, and destitute of laws, of arts, of ideas, and almost of language.* From this abject condition, perhaps the primitive and universal state of man, he has gradually arisen to command the animals, to fertilize the earth, to traverse the ocean, and to measure the heavens. His progress in the improvement and exercise of his mental and corporeal facultiesf has been irregular and various; infinitely slow in the beginning, and increasing by degrees with redoubled velocity: ages of laborious ascent have been followed by a moment of rapid downfal; and the several climates of the globe have felt the vicissitudes of light and darkness. Yet the experience of four thousand years should enlarge our hopes and diminish our apprehensions; we cannot determine to what height the human species may aspire in their advances towards perfection; but it may safely be presumed that no people, unless the face of nature is changed, will relapse into their original barbarism. The improvements of society may be viewed under a threefold aspect. 1. The poet or philosopher illustrates his age and country by the efforts of a single mind; but these superior powers of reason or fancy are rare and spontaneous productions, and the genius of Homer, or Cicero, or Newton, would excite less admiration if they could be created by the will of a prince, or the lessons of a preceptor. 2. The benefits of law and policy, of trade and manufactures, of arts and sciences, are more solid and permanent; and many individuals may be qualified, by education and discipline, to promote, in their respective stations, the interests of the community. But this general order is the effect of skill and labour; and the complex machinery may be decayed
c. 20, in his Works, tom, xi, p. 391. * It would be an easy,
though tedious, task to produce the authorities of poets, philosophers, and historians. I shall therefore content myself with appealing to the decisive and authentic testimony of Diodorus Siculus, (tom, i, 1 . 1, p. 11, 12; 1. 3, p. 184, &c. edit. Wesseling.) The Icthyophagi, who in his time wandered along the shores of the Red Sea, can only be compared to the natives of New Holland. (Dampier's Voyages, vol. i, p. 464—469.) Fancy, or perhaps reason, may still suppose an extreme and absolute state of nature far below the level of these savages, who had acquired some arts and instruments. + See the learned
and rational work of the president Goguet, de l'Origine des Loix, des Arts et des Sciences. He traces from facts, or conjectures (tom, i, p. 147—337, edit. 12mo.) the first and most difficult steps of human VOL. IV. B
PEOGEESS OF MANKIND.
by time, or injured by violence. 3. Fortunately for mankind, the more useful, or, at least, more necessary arts, can be performed without superior talents, or national subordination; without the powers of one, or the union of many. Each village, each family, each individual, must always possess both ability and inclination, to perpetuate the use of fire * and of metals; the propagation and service of domestic animals; the methods of hunting and fishing; the rudiments of navigation; the imperfect cultivation of corn, or other nutritive grain; and the simple practice of the mechanic trades. Private genius and public industry may be extirpated; but these hardy plants survive the tempest, and strike an everlasting root into the most unfavourable soil. The splendid days of Augustus and Trajan were eclipsed by a cloud of ignorance: and the barbarians subverted the laws and palaces of Eome. But the scythe, the invention or emblem of Saturn, f still continued annually to mow the harvests of Italy: and the human feasts of the Laistrigons J have never been renewed on the coast of Campania.
Since the first discovery of the arts, war, commerce, and religious zeal, have diffused among the savages of the old and new world these inestimable gifts; they have been successively propagated; they can never be lost. We may therefore acquiesce in the pleasing conclusion, that every age of the world has increased, and still increases, the real wealth, the happiness, the knowledge, and perhaps the virtue, of the human race.§
invention. * It is certain, however strange, that many
nations have been ignorant of the use of fire. Even the ingenious natives of Otaheite, who are destitute of metals, have not invented any earthen vessels capable of sustaining the action of fire, and of communicating the heat to the liquids which they contain.
t Plutarch. Qusest. Rom. in tom, ii, p. 275. Macrob. Saturnal. 1. 1, c. 8, p. 152, edit. London. The arrival of Saturn (of his religious worship) in a ship, may indicate, that the savage coast of Latium was first discovered and civilized by tie Phoenicians. J In the ninth
and tenth books of the Odyssey, Homer has embellished the tales of fearful and credulous sailors, who transformed the cannibals of Italy and Sicily into monstrous giants. § The merit of discovery
has too often been stained with avarice, cruelty, and fanaticism; and the intercourse of nations has produced the communication of disease and prejudice. A singular exception is due to the virtue of our own times and country. The five great voyages successively undertaken
CHAPTER XXXIX. — Zeno And Anastasius, Emperors Of The
EAST.—BIRTH, EDUCATION, AND FIRST EXPLOITS, OF THEODORIO THE
OSTROGOTH.—HIS INVASION AND CONQUEST OF ITALY. THE GOTHIC
KINGDOM OF ITALY.—STATE OF THE WEST.—MILITARY AND CIVIL GOVERNMENT.—THE SENATOR BOETHIUS.—LAST ACTS AND DEATH OF THEODORIC.
Artee the fall of the Roman empire in the "West, an interval of fifty years, till the memorable reign of Justinian, is faintly marked by the obscure names and imperfect annals of Zeno, Anastasius, and Justin, who successively ascended the throne of Constantinople. During the same period, Italy revived and flourished under the government of a Gothic king, who might have deserved a statue among the best and bravest of the ancient Komans.
Theodoric the Ostrogoth, the fourteenth in lineal descent of the royal line of the Amali,* was born in the neighbourby the command of his present majesty, were inspired by the pure and generous love of science and of mankind. The same prince, adapting his benefactions to the different stages of society, has founded a school of painting in his capital; and has introduced into the islands of the South sea, the vegetables and animals most usetul to human life. [It is remarkable, that in these recapitulatory reflections, Gibbon has never once noticed our greatest security against a relapse into barbarism. The art of printing is our unfailing safeguard against such a reverse. The only true and " cheap defence of nations" is the free and energetic mind; and the happy invention, by means of which this broke its fetters, is now the pledge of its safety.—Ed.]
* Jornandes (de rebus Geticis, c. 13, 14, p. 629, 630, edit. Grot.) has drawn the pedigree of Theodoric from Gapt, one of the Anses, or demigods, who lived about the time of Domitian. Cassiodorus, the first who celebrates the royal race of the Amali, (Variar. 8, 5. 9, 25. 10, 2. 11, 1) reckons the grandson of Theodoric as the seventeenth in descent. Peringskiold (the Swedish commentator on Cochloeus, Vit. Theodoric, p. 271, &c. Stockholm, 1699) labours to connect this genealogy with the legends or traditions of his native country. [We have already traced the name of the Amali (vol. iii, p. 4 69) to an origin more in accordance with its high antiquity and the early simplicity of language. For such a term we must not stop at secondary etymology. The genealogy of the race, as given by Jornandes, is altogether fabulous. The letter of Cassiodorus to the senate, in the name of the young king Athalaric (Var. 9.25) confesses the invention of the chronicle. The writer avows himself the author of the pedigree, and takes credit for having learned by reading (lectione discens) what the Goths had