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Description of Arabia and its inhabitants.-Birth,

Character, and Doctrine of Mahomet.--He preaches at Mecca.-Flies to Medina.- Propa. gates his Religion by the Sword.- Voluntary or reluctant Submission of the Arabs.--His Death and Succellors. The claims and Fortunes of Ali and his Descendants.

prates his Reubmission of times and Fortunace 189

c H A P. LI. The Conquest of Persia, Syria, Egypt, Africa,

and Spain, by the Arabs or Saracens.--Empire of the Caliphs, or Succesors of Mahomet. State of the Christians, &c. under their Go. vernment.

306

THE

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Plan of the Four. last Volumes. Succession and

Characters of the Greek Emperors of Conftan.' tinople, from the Time of Heraclius to the Latin Conquest.

T HAVE now deduced from Trajan to Con-CHAP. I ftantine, from Constantine to Heraclius, the XLVIII. regular series of the Roman emperors; and faithfully exposed the prosperous and adverse the Byzantortunes of their reigns. Five centuries of the time hiltory. decline and fall of the empire have already elap. fed; but a period of more than eight hundred years still separates me from the term of my labours, the taking of Constantinople by the Vol. IX.

B

Turks.

CHAP. Turks. Should I persevere in the same course,

: Ihould I observe the same measure, a prolix and
flender thread would be spun through many a
volume, nor would the patient reader find an
- adequate reward of inftru&ion 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 un-
grateful and melancholy talk. These annals
must continue to repeat a tedious and uniform
tale of weakness and misery; the natural con-
nection of causes and events would be broken by
frequent and hasty transitions, and a minute ac-
cumulation of circumstances must destroy the
light and effect of those general pictures which
compose the use and ornament of a remote his-
tory. From the time of Heraclius, the Byzan-
tine theatre is contracted and darkened: the
line of empire, which had been defined by the
laws of Justinian and the arms of Belisarius, re.
cedes on all sides from our view: the Roman
name, the proper subject of our enquiries, is re-
duced 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, be-
fore 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 æra, when a scanty fum of fix thou-.
fand 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

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