Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

and fortresses; and though the greatest part of them consisted only of a single tower, with a small garrison;, they were commonly sufficient to repel, or to intercept, the inroads of an enemy, who was ignorant of the art, and impatient of the delay, of a regular siege. But these slight obstacles were instantly swept away by the inundation of the Huns.' They destroyed, with fire and sword, the populous cities of Sirmium and Singidunum, of Ratiaria, and Marcianapolis, of Naissus and Sardica; where every circumstance, in the discipline of the people, and the construction of the buildings, had been gradually adapted to the sole purpose of defence. The whole breadth of Europe, as it

rope as" extends above five hundred miles from the Canstan- Euxine to the Hadriatic, was at once invaded, tinopie, and occupied, and desolated, by the myriads of barbarians whom Attila led into the field. The public danger and distress could not,-howeveF, provoke Theodosius to interrupt his amusements and devotion, or to appear in person at the head of the Roman legions. But the troops which had been sent against Genseric, were hastily recalled from Sicily; the garrisons on the side of Persia, were exhausted; and a military force was collected in Europe, formidable by their arms and numbers, if the generals had understood the science of command, and their soldiers the duty of obedience, The armies of the eastern empire were vanquished in three successive engagements; and the progress of Attila may be traced by the fields of battle. The two former on the banks of the Utus, and under the walls of Marcianapolis, were fought in the extensive plains between the Danube and mount Haemus. As the Romans were pressed by a victorious enemy, they gradually, and unskilfully, retired towards the Chersonesus of Thrace; and that narrow peninsula, the last extremity of the land, was marked by their third, and irreparable, defeat. By the destruction of this army, Attila acquired the indisputable possession of the field. From the Hellespont to Thermopylae, and the suburbs of Constantinople, he ravaged, without resistance, and without mercy, the provinces of Thrace and Macedonia. Heraclea and Hadrianople might, perhaps, escape this dreadful irruption of the Huns; but the words, the most expressive of total extirpation and erasure, are applied to the calamities which they inflicted on seventy cities of the eastern empire." Theodosius, his court, and the unvvarlike people, were protected by the walls of Constantinople; but those walls had been shaken by a recent earthquake, and the fall of fiftyeight towers had opened a large and tremendous breach. The damage indeed was speedily repaired; but this accident was aggravated by a superstitious fear, that Heaven itself had delivered the imperial city to the shepherds of Scythia, who were strangers to the laws, the language, and the religion, of the Romans." The Scy- In all their invasions of the civilized empires Tart"a°r of the south, the Scythian shepherds have been wars. uniformly actuated by a savage and destructive spirit. The laws of war, that restrain the exercise of national rapine and murder, are founded on two principles of substantial interest—the knowledge of the permanent benefits which may be obtained by a moderate use of conquest; and a just apprehension, lest the desolation which we inflict on the enemy's country, may be retaliated on our own. But these considerations of hope and fear are almost unknown in the pastoral state of nations. The Huns of Attila may, without injustice, be compared to the Moguls and the Tartars, before their primitive manners were changed by religion and luxury; and the evidence of oriental history may reflect some light on the short and imperfect annals of Rome. After the Moguls had subdued the northern provinces of China, it was seriously proposed, not in the hour of victory and passion, but in calm deliberate council, to exterminate all the inhabitants of that populous country, that the vacant land might be converted to the pasture of cattle. The firmness of a Chinese mandarin," who insinuated some principles of rational policy into the mind of Zingis, diverted him from the execution of this horrid design. But in the cities of Asia, which yielded to the Moguls, the inhuman abuse of the rights of war was exercised, with a regular form of discipline, which may, with equal reason, though not with equal authority, be imputed to the victorious Huns. The inhabitants, who had submitted to their discretion, were ordered to evacuate their houses, and to assemble in some plain adjacent to the city; where a division was made of the vanquished into three parts. The first class consisted of the soldiers of the garrison, and of the young men capable of bearing arms; and their fate was instantly decided: they were either enlisted among the Moguls, or they were massacred on the spot by the troops, who, with pointed spears and bended bows, had formed a circle round the captive multitude. The second class, composed of the young and beautiful women, of the artificers of every rank and profession, and of the more wealthy or honourable citizens, from whom a private ransom might be expected, was distributed in equal or proportionable lots. The remainder, whose life or death was alike useless to the conquerors, were permitted to return to the city; which, in the meanwhile, had been stripped of its valuable furniture; and a tax was imposed on those wretched inhabitants for the indulgence of breathing their native air. Such was the behaviour of the Moguls, when they were not conscious of any extraordinary rigour.2 But the most casual provocation, the slightest motive of caprice or convenience, often provoked them to involve a whole people in an indiscriminate massacre: and the ruin of some flourishing cities was executed with such unrelenting perseverance, that, according to their own expression, horses might run, without stumbling, over the ground where they had once stood. The three great capitals of Khorasan, Maru, Neisabour, and Herat, were destroyed by the armies of Zingis; and the exact account, which was taken of the slain, amounted to four millions three hundred and forty-seven thousand persons." Timur, or Tamerlane, was educated in a less barbarous age, and in the profession of the Mahometan religion: yet, if Attila equalled the hostile ravages of Tamerlane,11 either the Tartar or the Hun might deserve the epithet of the Scourge Of God/

1 Procopius, de Edificiis, lib. 4. c. 5. These fortresses were afterward restored) strengthened, and enlarged by the emperor Justinian; but they were soon destroyed by the Abates, who succeeded to the power and possessions of the Huns.

0 Septuaginta civitates (says Prosper-Tyro) depradatione vastatee. The language of count Marcellinus is still more forcible. Pene totam Europam, inyasis excuisque civitatibus atque castellis, conraslt.

* Tillemont (Hist. des Empereurs, tom. 6. p. 106,107.) has paid great attention to this memorable earthquake; which was felt as far as from Constantinople to Antioch and Alexandria, and is celebrated by all the ecclesiastical writers. In the hands of a popular preacher, an earthquake is an engine of admirable effect.

'He represented to the emperor of the Moguls, that the four provinces (Petchell, Chantong, Cluinsi, and Leaotong) which he already possessed, might annually produce, under a mild administration, five hundred thousand ounces of silver, four hundred thousand measures of rice, and eight hundred thousand pieces of silk. Gaubil. Hist. de hi Dynastie des Mongous, p. 58, 59. Yelutchousay (such was the name of the mandarin) was a wise and virtuous minister, who saved his country, and civilized the conquerors.

VOL. IV. S

g Qf It may be affirmed with bolder assurance, the* cap- that the Huns depopulated the provinces of the tvvt empire,by the number of Roman subjects whom

1 Particular instances would be endless; but the curious reader may consult the life of Gengiscan, by Petit de la Croix, the Histoire des Mongous, and the fifteenth book of the History of the Huns.

» At Maru, one million three hundred thousand; at Herat, one million six hundred thousand; at Neisabour, one million seven hundred and forty-seven thousand. D'Herbelot, Bibliotheque Orientale, p. 380, 381. I use the orthography of d'Anville's maps. It must, however, be allowed that the Persians were disposed to exaggerate their losses, and the Moguls to magnify their exploits.

• Cherefeddin Ali, his servile panegyrist, would afford us many horrid examples. In his camp before Delhi, Timur massacred one hundred thousand Indian prisoners, who had united when the army of their countrymen appeared in sight. (HiiC de Timur Bee, tom. 3. p. 90.) The people of Ispahan supplied seventy thousand human skullsfor the structure of several lofty towers, (id. tom. 1. p. 434.) A similar- tax was levied on the revolt of Bagdad, (tom. 3. p. 370.) and the exact account, which Cherefeddin was not able to procure from the proper officers, is stated by another historian (Ahmed A r.ibsiiida, tom. 2. p. 175. vers. Manger) at ninety thousand heads.

1 The ancients, Jomandes, Priscus, &c. are ignorant of this epithet. The modern Hungarians have imagined, that it was applied, by a hermit of Gaul, to Attila,

they led away into captivity. In the hands of a wise legislator, such an industrious colony might have contributed to diffuse, through the deserts of Scythia, the rudiments of the useful and ornamental arts: but these captives, who had been taken in war, were accidentally dispersed among the hordes that obeyed the empire of Attila. The estimate of their respective value was formed by the simple judgment of unenlightened and unprejudiced barbarians. Perhaps they might not un<derstand the merit of a theologian, profoundly skilled in the controversies of the Trinity and the Incarnation; yet they respected the ministers of every religion; and the active zeal of the Christian missionaries, without approaching the person, or the palace, of the monarch, SHCcessfully laboured in the propagation of the gospel.d The pastoral tribes, who were ignorant of the distinction of landed property, must have disregarded the use, as well as the abuse, of civil jurisprudence; and the skill of an eloquent kwyer could excite only their contempt, or their abhorrence.' The perpetual intercourse of the Huns and the Goths had communicated the familiar knowledge of the two national dialects; and the barbarians were ambitious of conversing in Latin, the military idiom, even of the eastern empire/ But they disdained the language, and the sciences, of the Greeks; and the vain sophist, or grave philosopher, who had enjoyed the flattering applause of the schools, was mortified to find, that his robust servant was a captive of /

who -was pleased to insert it among the titles of his royal dignity. Mascou, 9. tS. and Tilleraont, Hist. des Empereura, tom. 6. p. 143.

'Ihi: missionaries of St. Chrysostom had converted great numbers of tho Scythians* who dwelt beyond the Danube, intents and waggons. Theodoret, lib. S. c. 31. 1'hotins, p. 1517. The Mahometans, tho Nestorians, and the Latin Christians, thought themselves secure of gaining the sons and grandsons of Zingis, who treated fhe rival missionaries with impartial favour.

* The Germans, who exterminated Varus and his legions, had been particularly offended1 with the Roman laws and lawyers. One of the barbarians, after the effectual precautions of cutting out the tongue of an advocate, and sewing up bis mouth, observed, with much satisfaction, that the viper could no longer hiss. Floroe, 4.12.

'Priscus, p. 59. It should seem that the Hung preferred the Gothic and Latin languages to their own; which was probably a harsh and barren idiom.

« ForrigeFortsett »