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Theophrastus; and some Pagan votaries professed a secret devotion to the gods of Homer and Plato."17 The Italians were oppressed by the strength and number of their ancient auxiliaries: the century after the deaths of Petrarch and Boccace was filled with a crowd of Latin imitators, who decently repose on our shelves; but in that æra of learning it will not be easy to discern a real discovery of science, a work of invention or eloquence, in the popular language of the country.'18 But as soon as it had been deeply saturated with the celestial dew, the soil was quickened into vegetation and life; the modern idioms were refined ; the classics of Athens and Rome inspired a pure taste and a generous emulation; and in Italy, as afterwards in France and England, the pleasing reign of poetry and fiction was succeeded by the light of speculative and experimental philosophy. Genius may anticipate the season of maturity; but in the education of a people, as in that of an individual, memory must be exercised before the powers of reason and fancy can be expanded : nor may the artist hope to equal or surpass, till he has learned to imitate, the works of his predecessors.
117 I will select three singular examples of this classic enthusiasm. 1. At the synod of Florence, Gemistus Pletho said, in familiar conversation, to George of Trebizond, that in a short time mankind would unanimously renounce the Gospel and the Koran for a religion similar to that of the Gentiles (Leo Allatius, apud Fabricium, tom. x. p. 751). 2. Paul II. persecuted the Roman academy, which had been founded by Pomponius Lætus; and the principal members were accused of heresy, impiety, and paganism (Tiraboschi, tom. vi. P. i. p. 81, 82). 3. In the next century some scholars and poets in Frauce celebrated the success of Jodelle's tragedy of Cleopatra by a festival of Bacchus, and, as it is said, by the sacrifice of a goat (Bayle, Dictionnaire. JODELLE; Fontenelle, tom. iii. p. 56-61). Yet the spirit of bigotry might often dis cern a serious impiety in the sportive play of fancy and learning,
118 The survivor Boccace died in the year 1.375; and we cannot place before 1480 the composition of the Morganto Maggiore of Pulci, and the Orlando Inamorato cf Briardo (Tiraboschi, tom. vi. P. i. p. 174-177).
cuism of the GREEKS AND LATINS. — REIGN AND CAARACTER OF A MURATN THE SECOND. CRUSADE OF LADISLAUS, KING OF HUNGARY. - His De.
AND DEATH. — JOHN HUNIADES. SCANDERBEG. CoXSTANTINK PALÆOLOGUS, LAST EMPEROR OF THE EAST.
The respective merits of Rome and Constantinople are compared and Comparison
celebrated by an eloquent Greek, the father of the Italian of Rome and schools. The view of the ancient capital, the seat of his
ancestors, surpassed the most sanguine expectations of Manuel Chrysoloras; and he no longer blamed the exclamation of an old sophist, that Rome was the habitation, not of men, but of gods. Those gods, and those men, had long since vanished; but, to the eye of liberal enthusiasm, the majesty of ruin restored the image of her ancient prosperity. The monuments of the conşuls and Cæsars, of the martyrs and apostles, engaged on all sides the curiosity of the philosopher and the Christian ; and he confessed that in every age the arms and the religion of Rome were destined to reign over the earth. While Chrysoloras admired the venerable beauties of the mother, he was not forgetful of his native country, her fairest daughter, her Imperial colony; and the Byzantine patriot expatiates with zeal and truth on the eternal advantages of nature, and the more transitory glories of art and dominion, which adorned, or had adorned, the city of Constantine. Yet the perfection of the copy still redounds (as he modestly observes) to the honour of the original, and parents are delighted to be renewed, and even excelled, by the superior merit of their children. Constantinople,” says the orator, “ is situate on a commanding point, between Europe and Asia, “ between the Archipelago and the Euxine. By her interposition " the two seas and the two continents are united for the common “ benefit of nations; and the gates of commerce may be shut or
opened at her command. The harbour, encompassed on all sides
· The epistle of Manuel Chrysoloras to the emperor John Palæologus will not offend the eye or ear of a classical student (ad calcem Codini de Antiquitatibus C. P. p. 107-126). The superscription suggests a chronological remark, that John Palæologus II. was associated in the empire before the year 1414, the date of Chrysoloras's death. A still earlier date, at least 1408, is deduced from the age of his youngest sons, Demetrius and Thomas, who were both Porphyrogeniti (Ducange, Fam. Byzant. p. 244, 247).
“ by the sea and the continent, is the most secure and capacious in “the world. The walls and gates of Constantinople may be com“pared with those of Babylon : the towers are many; each tower is a “solid and lofty structure; and the second wall, the outer fortifica“ tion, would be sufficient for the defence and dignity of an ordinary “ capital. A broad and rapid stream may be introduced into the “ ditches; and the artificial island may be encompassed, like Athens,
by land or water.” Two strong and natural causes are alleged for the perfection of the model of new Rome. The royal founder reigned over the most illustrious nations of the globe; and in the accomplishment of his designs the power of the Romans was combined with the art and science of the Greeks. Other cities have been reared to maturity by accident and time: their beauties are mingled with disorder and deformity; and the inhabitants, unwilling to remove from their natal spot, are incapable of correcting the errors of their ancestors and the original vices of situation or climate. But the free idea of Constantinople was formed and executed by a single mind : and the primitive model was improved by the obedient zeal of the subjects and successors of the first monarch. The adjacent isles were stored with an inexhaustible supply of marble ; but the various materials were transported from the most remote shores of Europe and Asia ; and the public and private buildings, the palaces, churches, aqueducts, cisterns, porticoes, columns, baths, and hippodromes, were adapted to the greatness of the capital of the East. The superfluity of wealth was spread along the shores of Europe and Asia ; and the Byzantine territory, as far as the Euxine, the Hellespont, and the long wall, might be considered as a populous suburb and a perpetual garden. In this flattering picture, the past and the present, the times of prosperity and decay, are artfully confounded: but a sigh and a confession escape from the orator, that his wretched country was the shadow and sepulchre of its former self. The works of ancient sculpture had been defaced by Christian zeal or barbaric violence; the fairest structures were demolished; and the marbles of Paros or Numidia were burnt for lime, or applied to the meanest uses. statue, the place was marked by an empty pedestal ; of many a column, the size was determined by a broken capital; the tombs of the emperors were scattered on the ground; the stroke of time was accelerated by storms and earthquakes; and the vacant space was adorned by vulgar tradition with fabulous monuments of gold and
Of many a
· Somebody observed that the city of Athens might be circumnavigated (ris sira, την πόλη των Αθηναίων δύνασθαι και παρασλείο και περιπλιν). But what may be true in a rhetorical sense of Constantinople, cannot be applied to the situation of Athens, tive miles from the sea, and not intersected or surrounded by any navigable straains.
silver. From these wonders, which lived only in memory or belief, he distinguishes, however, the porphyry pillar, the column and colossus of Justinian,' and the church, more especially the dome, of St. Sophia; the best conclusion, since it could not be described according to its merits, and after it no other object could deserve to be mentioned. But he forgets that, a century before, the trembling fabrics of the colossus and the church had been saved and supported by the timely care of Andronicus the Elder. Thirty years after the emperor had fortified St. Sophia with two new buttresses or pyramids, the eastern hemisphere suddenly gave way; and the images, the altars, and the sanctuary were crushed by the falling ruin. The mischief indeed was speedily repaired; the rubbish was cleared by the incessant labour of every rank and age; and the poor
remains of riches and industry were consecrated by the Greeks to the most stately and venerable temple of the East.* The last hope of the falling city and empire was placed in the
harmony of the mother and daughter, in the maternal the council of tenderness of Rome, and the filial obedience of ConstantiFlorence, nople. In the synod of Florence, the Greeks and Latins
1440-1448. had embraced, and subscribed, and promised; but these signs of friendship were perfidious or fruitless ;' and the baseless fabric of the union vanished like a dream. The emperor and his prelates returned home in the Venetian galleys; but as they touched at the Morea and the isles of Corfu and Lesbos, the subjects of the Latins complained that the pretended union would be an instrument of oppression. No sooner did they land on the Byzantine shore, than they were saluted, or rather assailed, with a general murmur of zeal and discontent. During their absence, above two years, the capital had been deprived of its civil and ecclesiastical
3 Nicephorus Gregoras has described the colossus of Justinian (1. vii. 12): but his measures are false and inconsistent. The editor Boivin consulted his friend Girardon; And the sculptor gave him the true proportions of an equestrian statue. That of Justinian was still visible to Peter Gyllius, not on the column, but in the outward court of the seraglio; and he was at Constantinople when it was melted down, and cast into a brass cannon (de Topograph. C. P. I. ii. c. 17).
• See the decay and repairs of St. Sophia, in Nicephorus Gregoras (1. vi. 12, 1. xv. 2). The building was propped by Andronicus in 1317, the eastern hemisphere fell in 1345. The Greeks, in their pompous rhetoric, exalt the beauty and holiness of the church, an earthly heaven, the abode of angels, and of God himself, &c.
- The genuino and original narrative of Syropulus (p. 312-351) opens the schism from the first office of the Greeks at Vonice to the general opposition at Constantinoplo of the clergy and people.
• On the schism of Constantinople, soe Phranza (1. ii. c. 17), Laonicus Chalcocondyles (1. vi. p. 155, 156 (p. 292-295, od. Bonn]), and Ducas (c. 31); the last of whom writes with truth and freedom. Among the moderns we may distinguish the continuator of Fleury (tom. xxii. p. 338, &c., 401, 420, &c.) and Spondanus (A.D. 1440-30). The sense of the latter is drowned in prejudice and passion as soon as Rome and religion Are concerned.
rulers; fanaticism fermented in anarchy; the most furious monks reigned over the conscience of women and bigots; and the hatred of the Latin name was the first principle of nature and religion. Before his departure for Italy the emperor had flattered the city with the assurance of a prompt relief and a powerful succour; and the clergy, confident in their orthodoxy and science, had promised themselves and their flocks an easy victory over the blind shepherds of the West. The double disappointment exasperated the Greeks; the conscience of the subscribing prelates was awakened ; the hour of temptation was past ; and they had more to dread from the public resentment than they could hope from the favour of the emperor or the pope. Instead of justifying their conduct, they deplored their weakness, professed their contrition, and cast themselves on the mercy of God and of their brethren. To the reproachful question, what had been the event or the use of their Italian synod ? they answered, with sighs and tears, “ Alas! we have made a new faith ; we have exchanged
piety for impiety; we have betrayed the immaculate sacrifice; and
we are become Azymites.” (The Azymites were those who celebrated the communion with unleavened bread; and I must retract or qualify the praise which I have bestowed on the growing philosophy of the times.) “ Alas! we have been seduced by distress, by fraud, “ and by the hopes and fears of a transitory life. The hand that has “ signed the union should be cut off ; and the tongue that has pro( nounced the Latin creed deserves to be torn from the root.” The best proof of their repentance was an increase of zeal for the most trivial rites and the most incomprehensible doctrines ; and an absolute separation from all, without excepting their prince, who preserved some regard for honour and consistency. After the decease of the patriarch Joseph, the archbishops of Heraclea and Trebizond had courage to refuse the vacant office; and Cardinal Bessarion preferred the warm and comfortable shelter of the Vatican. The choice of the emperor and his clergy was confined to Metrophanes of Cyzicus : he was consecrated in St. Sophia, but the temple was vacant. The crossbearers abdicated their service; the infection spread from the city to the villages; and Metrophanes discharged, without effect, some ecclesiastical thunders against a nation of schismatics. The eyes of the Greeks were directed to Mark of Ephesus, the champion of his country; and the sufferings of the holy confessor were repaid with a tribute of admiration and applause. His example and writings propagated the flame of religious discord; age and infirmity soon removed him from the world ; but the gospel of Mark was not a law of forgiveness ; and he requested with his dying breath that none of the adherents of Rome might attend his obsequies or pray for his soul