[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

stitious hope, that Rome was founded by the gods to reign for ever over the nations of the earth. But the proud claims of perpetual and indefeasible dominion which her soldiers could no longer maintain, was firmly asserted by her statesmen and lawyers, whose opinions have been sometimes revived and propagated in the modern schools of jurisprudence. After Eome herself had been stripped of the imperial purple, the princes of Constantinople assumed the sole and sacred sceptre of the monarchy; demanded, as their rightful inheritance, the provinces which had been subdued by the consuls, or possessed by the Csesars; and feebly aspired to deliver their faithful subjects of the West from the usurpation of heretics and barbarians. The execution of this splendid design was in some degree reserved for Justinian. During the five first years of his reign, he reluctantly waged a costly and unprofitable war against the Persians; till his pride submitted to his ambition, and he purchased, at the price of £440,000 sterling, the benefit of a precarious truce, which, in the language of both nations, was dignified with the appellation of the endless peace. The safety of the East enabled the emperor to employ his forces against the Vandals; and the internal state of Africa afforded an honourable motive, and promised a powerful support, to the Boman arms.*

According to the testament of the founder, the African kingdom had lineally descended to Hilderic, the eldest of the Vandal princes. A mild disposition inclined the son of a tyrant, the grandson of a conqueror, to prefer the counsels of clemency and peace; and his accession was marked by the salutary edict which restored two hundred bishops to their churches, and allowed the free profession of

681). In the West the Christian era was first invented in the sixth century: it was propagated in the eighth by the authority and writings of venerable Bede: but it was not till the tenth that the use became legal and popular. See L'Art de verifier les Dates, Dissert. Preliminaire, p. 3. 12. Dictionnaire Diplomatique, tom. i, p. 329—337, the works of a laborious society of Benedictine monks.

* The complete series of the Vandal war is related by Procopius in a regular and elegant narrative (1. 1, c. 9—25; 1. 2, e. 1—13); and happy would be my lot, could I always tread in the footsteps of such a guide. From the entire and diligent perusal of the Greek text, I have a right to pronounce that the Latin and French versions of Grotius and Cousin may not be implicitly trusted: yet the president Cousin has been often praised, and Hugo Grotius was the first scholar of a

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

the Athanasian creed.* But the Catholics accepted, with eold and transient gratitude, a favour so inadequate to their pretensions, and the virtues of Hilderic offended the prejudices of his countrymen. The Arian clergy presumed to insinuate that he had renounced the faith, and the soldiers more loudly complained that he had degenerated from the courage, of his ancestors. His ambassadors were suspected of a secret and disgraceful negotiation in the Byzantine court: and his general, the Achilles,t as he was named, ot the Vandals, lost a battle against the naked and disorderly Moors. The public discontent was exasperated by Gelimer, whose age, descent, and military fame, gave him an apparent title to the succession: he assumed, with the consent of the nation, the reins of government; and his unfortunate sovereign sank without a struggle from the throne to a dungeon, where he was strictly guarded, with a faithful counsellor, and his unpopular nephew, the Achilles of the Vandals. But the indulgence which Hilderic had shewn to his Catholic subjects had powerfully recommended him to the favour of Justinian, who, for the benefit of his own sect, could acknowledge the use and justice of religious toleration: their alliance, while the nephew of Justin Remained in a private station, was cemented by the mutual exchange of gifts and letters; and the emperor Justinian asserted the cause of royalty and friendship. In two successive embassies, he admonished the usurper to repent of his treason, or to abstain, at least, from any further violence, which might provoke the displeasure of God and of the Bomans; to reverence the laws of kindred and succession, and to suffer an infirm old man peaceably to end his days, either on the throne of Carthage, or in the palace of Constantinople. The passions or even the prudence of Gelimer compelled him to reject these requests, which were urged in the haughty tone of menace and command; and he justified his ambition in a language rarely spoken in the

learned age. * See Ruinart, Hist. Persecut. Vandal, o. 12,

p. 589. His best evidence is drawn from the Life of St. Fulgentius, composed by one of his disciples, transcribed in a great measure ia the annals of Baronius, and printed in several great collections. (Catalog. Bibliot. Bunavianse, tom. i, vol. ii, p. 1258.)

+ For what quality of the mind or body? For speed, or beauty, or valour? In what language did the Vandals read Homer? Did he speak German? The Latins had four versions: (Fabric. tom, i, 1, % i.D. 523-534.] DEBATES ON THE AFRICAN WAB. 361

Byzantine court, by alleging the right of a free people to remove or punish their chief magistrate, who had failed in the execution of the kingly office. After this fruitless expostulation, the captive monarch was more rigorously treated, his nephew was deprived of his eyes, and the cruel Vandal, confident in his strength and distance, derided the vain threats and slow preparations of the emperor of the East. Justinian resolved to deliver or revenge his friend; Gelimer to maintain his usurpation; and the war was preceded, according to the practice of civilized nations, by the most solemn protestations that each party was sincerely desirous of peace.

The report of an African war was grateful only to the vain and idle populace of Constantinople, whose poverty exempted them from tribute, and whose cowardice was seldom exposed to military service. But the wiser citizens, who judged of the future by the past, revolved in their memory the immense loss, both of men and money, which the empire had sustained in the expedition of Basiliscus. The troops, which after five laborious campaigns had been recalled from the Persian frontier, dreaded the sea, the climate, and the arms, of an unknown enemy. The ministers of the finances computed, as far as they might compute, the demands of an African war; the taxes which must be found and levied to supply those insatiate demands; and the danger, lest their own lives, or at least their lucrative employments, should be made responsible for the deficiency of the supply. Inspired by such selfish motives (for we may not suspect him of any zeal for the public good), John, of Cappadocia ventured to oppose, in full council, the inclinations of his master. He confessed, that a victory of such importance could not be too dearly purchased; but he represented, in a grave discourse, the certain difficulties and the uncertain event. "You undertake (said the prefect) to besiege Carthage by land; the distance is not less than one hundred and forty days' journey; on the sea, a whole year * must elapse before you can receive any intelli

c. 3, p. 297) yet in spite of the praises of Seneca, (Consol. o. 26) thej appear to have been more successful in imitating, than in translating, the Greek poets. But the name of Achilles might be famous and popular, even among the illiterate barbarians.

* A year—absurd exaggeration I The conquest of Africa may bo dated A.d. 533, September 14: it is celebrated by Justinian in the

[ocr errors][merged small]

gence from jour fleet. If Africa should be reduced, it cannot be preserved without the additional conquest of Sicily and Italy. Success will impose the obligation of new labours; a single misfortune will attract the barbarians into the heart of your exhausted empire." Justinian felt the weight of this salutary advice; be was confounded by the unwonted freedom of an obsequious servant; and the design of the war would perhaps have been relinquished, if his courage had not been revived by a voice which silenced the doubts of profane reason. "I have seen a vision (cried an artful or fanatic bishop of the East). It is the will of Heaven, 0 emperor! that you should not abandon your holy enterprise for the deliverance of the African church. The God of battles will march before your

of his Son." The emperor might be tempted, and his counsellors were constrained, to give credit to this seasonable revelation: but they derived more rational hope from the revolt which the adherents of Hilderic or Athanasius had already excited on the borders of the Vandal monarchy. Pudentius, an African subject, had privately signified his loyal intentions, and a small military aid restored the province of Tripoli to the obedience of the Romans. The government of Sardinia had been intrusted to Godas, a valiant barbarian; he suspended the payment of tribute, disclaimed his allegiance to the usurper, and gave audience to the emissaries of Justinian, who found him master of that fruitful island, at the head of his guards, and proudly invested with the ensigns of royalty. The forces of the Vandals were diminished by discord and suspicion; the Roman armies were animated by the spirit of Belisarius; one of those heroic names which are familiar to every age and to every nation.

The Africanus of New Rome, was born, and perhaps educated, among the Thracian peasants,* without any of those

preface to his Institutes, which were published Noittmber 21 of the same year. Including the voyage and return, such 0 computation might be truly applied to our Indian empire.

* 'QpprIro SL 6 Btkiaapioc itc Tepfiaviag, jj QpaKutvrf Kol 'IWupiuiv fitrai.i Ktirai. (Procop. Vandal. 1.1, c. 11.) Aleman, (Not. ad Anecdot.

p. 5,) an Italian, could easily reject the German vanity of Giphanius land Velserus, who wished to claim the hero; but his Germania, a

metropolis of Thrace, I cannot find in any civil or ecclesiastical list of

standard, and dis]


enemies, who are the enemies

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

advantages which had formed the virtues of the elder and younger Scipio; a noble origin, liberal studies, and the emulation of a free state. The silence of a loquacious secretary may be admitted, to prove that the youth of Belisarius could not afford any subject of praise; he served, most assuredly with valour and reputation, among the private guards of Justinian; and when his patron became emperor, the domestic was promoted to military command. After a bold inroad into Persarmenia, in which his glory was shared by a colleague, and his progress was checked by an enemy, Belisarius repaired to the important station of Dara, where he first accepted the service of Procopius, the faithful companion, and diligent historian of his exploits.* The Mirranes of Persia advanced, with forty thousand of her best troops, to raze the fortifications of Dara; and signified the day and the hour on which the citizens should prepare a bath for his refreshment after the toils of victory .f He encountered an adversary equal to himself, by the new title of general of the East; his superior in the science of war, but much inferior in the number and quality of his troops,

the provinces and cities. [Procopius knew the situation of Thrace, at the very gates of Constantinople. The western boundary of that province was the river Nestus, while Illyricum extended no farther eastward than the river Save. Between them lay a part of Mocsia, (see Heeren's Manual, p. 324, 325,) which had long been peopled by Goths; and Procopius, having heard of Germania, placed it there. As Belisarius invaded Italy from Sicily, and when he left it embarked at Ravenna, his secretary had no opportunity of traversing the country between the Adriatic and the Euxine. If the great general had not a German origin, it is, nevertheless, most probable, that like many of the eminent characters of that period, his young faculties had been trained among Goths. The opinion of M. Von Hammer is, that the name of Belisarius is a Sclavonic word, Belitzar, the white prince, and that the place of his birth was a village of Illyricum, which still bears the name of Germania. That "a Thracian peasant" should have borne a Sclavonic name is highly improbable, and still more so is it, that he should have been called " a white prince." The Germania referred to seems to have been the Germanicus Vicus, which Cellarius places (1. 918) on the Danube near Regensburg (Ratisbon). That of Procopius was no town or village in Illyricum, but evidently a country, which his imperfect geography supposed to lie between that province

Belisarius are fairly and copiously related by his secretary. (Persic. 1 . 1, c. 12—18.) + [Procopius (De Bell. Pers. 1. 13) makes Mirrhams

a Persian title of honour, by which Perozes was dignified. Afterwards (1 . 2, c. 30) he uses it as the name of the commandant of Petra.—Ea]


* The two first Persian campaigns of

« ForrigeFortsett »