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but they were not endowed with the gift of miracles, ‘ and they vainly solicited a reinforcement of European troops. The patience and dexterity of forty years at length obtained a more favourable audience, and two emperors of Abyssinia were persuaded that Rome could ensure the temporal and everlasting happiness of her votaries. The first of these royal converts lost his crown and his life; and the rebel army was sanctified by the abuna, who hurled an anathema at the apostate, and absolved his subjects from their oath of fidelity. The fate of Zadenghel was revenged by the courage and fortune of Susneus, who ascended the throne under the name of Segued, and more vigorously prosecuted the pious enterprise of his kinsman. After the amusement of some unequal combats between the Jesuits and his illiterate priests, the emperor declared himself a proselyte to the synod of Chalcedon, presuming that his clergy and people would embrace without delay the religion of their prince. The liberty of choice was succeeded by a law, which imposed, under pain of death, the belief of the two natures of Christ: the Abyssinians were enjoined to work and to play on the Sabbath; and Segued, in the face of Europe and Africa, renounced his connexion with the Alexandrian church. A Jesuit, Alphonso Mendez, the Catholic patriarch of AEthiopia, accepted in the name of Urban VIII. the homage and abjuration of his penitent. “I confess,” said the emperor on his knees, “I confess that the pope is the vicar of Christ, the successor of St. Peter, and the sovereign of the world. To him I swear true obedience, and at his feet I offer my person and kingdom.” A similar oath was repeated by his son, his brother, the clergy, the nobles, and even the ladies CHAP:
* Religio Romana . . . . nec precibus patrum nec miraculis ab ipsis editis suffulciebatur, is the uncontradicted assurance of the devout emperor Susneus to his patriarch Mendez (Ludolph. Comment. No. 126. p. 529); and such assurances should be preciously kept, as an antidote against any marvellous legends.
of the court: the Latin patriarch was invested with honours and wealth; and his missionaries erected their churches or citadels in the most convenient stations of the empire. The Jesuits themselves deplore the fatal indiscretion of their chief, who forgot the mildness of the gospel and the policy of his order, to introduce with hasty violence the liturgy of Rome and the inquisition of Portugal. He condemned the ancient practice of circumcision, which health rather than superstition had first invented in the climate of AEthiopia." A new baptism, a new ordination, was inflicted on the natives; and they trembled with horror when the most holy of the dead were torn from their graves, when the most illustrious of the living were excommunicated by a foreign priest. In the defence of their religion and liberty, the Abyssinians rose in arms, with desperate but unsuccessful zeal. Five rebellions were extinguished in the blood of the insurgents: two abunas were slain in battle, whole legions were slaughtered in the field, or suffocated in their caverns; and neither merit, nor rank, nor sex, could save from an ignominious death the enemies of Rome. But the victorious monarch was finally subdued by the constancy of the nation, of his mother, of his son, and of his most faithful friends. Segued listened to the voice of pity, of reason, perhaps of fear; and his edict of liberty of conscience instantly revealed the tyranny and weakness of the Jesuits. On the death of his father, Basilides expelled the
* I am aware how tender is the question of circumcision. Yet I will affirm, 1. That the AEthiopians have a physical reason for the circumcision of males, and even of females (Recherches Philosophiques sur les Americains, tom. ii.) 2. That it was practised in AEthiopia long before the introduction of Judaism or Christianity (Herodot. 1. ii. c. 104. Marsham, Canon Chron. p. 72, 73). “Infantes circumcidunt ob consuetudinem non ob Judaismum,” says Gregory the Abyssinian priest (apud Fabric. Lux Christiana, p. 720). Yet, in the heat of dispute, the Portuguese were sometimes branded with the name of uncircumcised
(La Croze, p. 80. Ludolph. Hist, and Comment. H. iii. c. 1).
CHAP. Latin patriarch, and restored to the wishes of the * nation the faith and the discipline of Egypt. The i., Monophysite churches resounded with a song of
*::::::: triumph, “that the sheep of AEthiopia were now de&.” livered from the hyaenas of the West;” and the gates
of that solitary realm were for ever shut against the arts, the science, and the fanaticism of Europe."
* The three protestant historians, Ludolphus (Hist. Æthiopica, Francofurt. 1681; Commentarius, 1691; Relatio Nova, &c. 1693, in folio), Geddes (Church History of AEthiopia, London, 1696, in 8vo.), and La Croze (Hist. du Christianisme d’Ethiopie et d’Armenie, La Haye, 1739, in 12mo.), have drawn their principal materials from the Jesuits, especially from the General History of Tellez, published in Portuguese at Coimbra, 1660. We might be surprised at their frankness; but their most flagitious vice, the spirit of persecution, was in their eyes the most meritorious virtue. Ludolphus possessed some, though a slight, advantage from the AEthiopic language, and the personal conversation of Gregory, a free-spirited Abyssinian priest, whom he invited from Rome to the court of Saxe-Gotha. See the Theologia Aethiopica of Gregory, in Fabricius, Lux Evangelii, p. 716–734.
Plan of the three last volumes.—Succession and characters of the Greek emperors of Constantinople, Jrom the time of Heraclius to the Latin conquest.
I HAVE now deduced from Trajan to Constantine, chAP.
from Constantine to Heraclius, the regular series of **** the Roman emperors; and faithfully exposed the of prosperous and adverse fortunes of their reigns. Five too. centuries of the decline and fall of the empire have already elapsed; but a period of more than eight hundred years still separates me from the term of my labours, the taking of Constantinople by the Turks. Should I persevere in the same course, should I observe the same measure, a prolix and slender thread would be spun through many a volume, nor would the patient reader find an adequate reward of instruction or amusement. At every step, as we sink deeper in the decline and fall of the eastern empire, the annals of each succeeding reign would impose a more ungrateful and melancholy task. These annals must continue to repeat a tedious and uniform tale of weakness and misery; the natural connexion of causes and events would be broken by frequent and hasty transitions, and a minute accumulation of circumstances must destroy the light and effect of those general pictures which compose the use and ornament of a remote history. From the time of Heraclius, the Byzantine theatre is contracted and darkened: the line of empire, which had been defined by the laws
of Justinian and the arms of Belisarius, recedes on all sides from our view: the Roman name, the proper subject of our inquiries, is reduced to a narrow corner of Europe, to the lonely suburbs of Constantinople; and the fate of the Greek empire has been compared to that of the Rhine, which loses itself in the sands, before its waters can mingle with the ocean. The scale of dominion is diminished to our view by the distance of time and place: nor is the loss of external splendour compensated by the nobler gifts of virtue and genius. In the last moments of her decay, Constantinople was doubtless more opulent and populous than Athens at her most flourishing ara, when a scanty sum of six thousand talents, or twelve hundred thousand pounds sterling, was possessed by twenty-one thousand male citizens of an adult age. But each of these citizens was a freeman, who dared to assert. the liberty of his thoughts, words, and actions; whose person and property were guarded by equal law; and who exercised his independent vote in the government of the republic. Their numbers seem to be multiplied by the strong and various discriminations of character: under the shield of freedom, on the wings of emulation and vanity, each Athenian aspired to the level of the national dignity: from this commanding eminence, some chosen spirits soared beyond the reach of a vulgar eye; and the chances of superior merit in a great and populous kingdom, as they are proved by experience, would excuse the computation of imaginary millions. The territories of Athens, Sparta, and their allies, do not exceed a moderate province of France or England: but after the trophies of Salamis and Plataea, they expand in our fancy to the gigantic size of Asia, which had been trampled under the feet of the victorious Greeks. But the subjects of the Byzantine empire, who assume and dishonour the names both of Greeks and Romans,