than that of a general. Before he took the field, he devolved on the provincial governors most of the public and private causes which had been referred to his tribunal; but, on his return, he carefully revised their proceedings, mitigated the rigour of the law, and pronounced a second judgment on the judges themselves. Superior to the last temptation of virtuous minds, an indiscreet and intemperate zeal for justice, he restrained, with calmness and dignity, the warmth of an advocate who prosecuted, for extortion, the president of the Narbonnese province. Who will ever be found guilty (exclaimed the vehement Delphidius), if it be enough to deny? And who (replied Julian) will ever be innocent, if it be sufficient to affirm? In the general administration of peace and war, the interest of the sovereign is commonly the same as that of his people; but Constantius would have thought himself deeply injured, if the virtues of Julian had defrauded him of any part of the tribute which he extorted from an oppressed and exhausted country. The prince who was invested with the ensigns of royalty, might sometimes presume to correct the rapacious insolence of the inferior agents; to expose their corrupt arts, and to introduce an equal and easier mode of collection. But the management of the finances was more safely intrusted to Florentius, prætorian prefect of Gaul, an effeminate tyrant, incapable of pity or remorse ; and the haughty minister complained of the most decent and gentle opposition, while Julian himself was rather inclined to censure the weakness of his own behaviour. The Cæsar had rejected with abhorrence a mandate for the levy of an extraordinary tax; a new superdiction, which the prefect had offered for his signature; and the faithful picture of the public misery, by which he had been obliged to justify his refusal, offended the court of Constantius. We may enjoy the pleasure of reading the sentiments of Julian, as he expresses them with warmth and freedom in a letter

to one of his most intimate friends. After stating his own conduct, he proceeds in the following terms: Was it possible for the disciple of Plato and Aristotle to act otherwise than I have done? Could I abandon the unhappy subjects intrusted to my care? Was I not called upon to defend them from the repeated injuries of these unfeeling robbers? A tribune who deserts his post is punished with death, and deprived of the honours of burial. With what justice could I pronounce his sentence, if, in the hour of danger, I myself neglected a duty far more sacred and far more important ? God has placed me in this elevated post; his providence will guard and support me. Should I be condemned to suffer, I shall derive comfort from the testimony of a pure and upright conscience.

Would to heaven that I still possessed a counsellor like Sallust! If they think proper to send me a successor, I shall submit without reluctance; and had much rather improve the short opportunity of doing good, than enjoy a long and lasting impunity of evil." The precarious and dependant situation of Julian displayed his virtues and concealed his defects. The young hero, who supported in Gaul the throne of Constantius, was not permitted to reform the vices of the government; but he had courage to alleviate or to pity the distress of the people. Unless he had been able to revive the martial spirit of the Romans, or to introduce the arts of industry and refinement among

their savage enemies, he could not entertain any rational hopes of securing the public tranquillity, either by the peace or conquest of Germany. Yet the victories of Julian suspended, for a short time, the inroads of the barbarians, and delayed the ruin of the western empire.

His salutary influence restored the cities of Descrip

Gaul, which had been so long exposed to the evils of civil discord, barbarian war, and do

tion of Paris.

u Ammian. 17. 3. Julian. Epistol. 15. edit. Spanheim. Such a conduct almost justifies the encomium of Mamertinus. Ita illi anni spatia divisa sunt, ut aut barbaros domitet, aut civibus jura restituat; perpetuum professus, aut contra hostem, aut contra vitia certamen. VOL. II.

2 G

mestic tyranny; and the spirit of industry was revived with the hopes of enjoyment. Agriculture, manufactures, and commerce, again flourished under the protection of the laws; and the curiæ, or civil corporations, were again filled with useful and respectable members: the youth were no longer apprehensive of marriage; and married

persons were no longer apprehensive of posterity : the public and private festivals were celebrated with customary pomp; and the frequent and secure intercourse of the provinces displayed the image of national prosperity. A mind, like that of Julian, must have felt the general happiness of which he was the author; but he viewed with peculiar satisfaction and complacency, the city of Paris; the seat of his winter residence, and the object even of his partial affection." That splendid capital, which now embraces an ample territory on either side of the Seine, was originally confined to the small island in the midst of the river, from whence the inhabitants derived a supply of


and salubrious water. The river bathed the foot of the walls; and the town was accessible only by two wooden bridges. A forest overspread the northern side of the Seine; but on the south, the ground, which now bears the name of the university, was insensibly covered with houses, and adorned with a palace and amphitheatre, baths, an aqueduct, and a field of Mars for the exercise of the Roman troops. The severity of the climate was tempered by the neighbourhood of the ocean; and with some precautions, which experience had taught, the vine and fig-tree were successfully cultivated. But, in remarkable winters, the Seine was deeply frozen; and the huge pieces of ice, that floated down the stream, might be compared, by an Asiatic, to the blocks of white marble which were ex

* Libanius, Orat. Parental. in Imp. Julian. c. 38. in Fabricius Bibliothec. Græc. tom. 7. p. 263, 264.

y See Julian. in Misopogon. p. 340, 341. The primitive state of Paris is illustrated by Henry Valesius, (ad Ammian. 20. 4.) his brother Hadrian Valesius, or de Valois, and M. d'Anville (in their respective Notitias of ancient Gaul); the abbé de Longuerue, (Description de la France, tom. 1. p. 12, 13.) and M. Bonamy. (in the Mem. de l'Academie des Inscriptions, tom. 15. p. 656--691.

tracted from the quarries of Phrygia. The licentiousness and corruption of Antioch, recalled to the memory of Julian the severe and simple manners of his beloved Lutetia, where the amusements of the theatre were unknown or despised. He indignantly contrasted the effeminate Syrians with the brave and honest simplicity of the Gauls, and almost forgave the intemperance, which was the only stain of the Celtic character. If Julian could now revisit the capital of France, he might converse with men of science and genius, capable of understanding and of instructing a disciple of the Greeks; he might excuse the lively and graceful follies of a nation, whose martial spirit has never been enervated by the indulgence of luxury, and he must applaud the perfection of that inestimable art, which softens and refines and embellishes the intercourse of human life.


The motives, progress, and effects, of the conversion of Constan

tine.--Legal establishment and constitution of the Christian or Catholic Church.

The public establishment of Christianity may be considered as one of those important and domestic revolutions which excite the most lively curiosity, and afford the most valuable instruction. The victories and the civil policy of Constantine no longer influence the state of Europe; but a considerable portion of the globe still retains the impression which it received from the conversion of that monarch; and the ecclesiastical institu, tions of his reign are still connected, by an indissoluble chain, with the opinions, the passions, and the interests of the present generation.

• Την φιλην Λευκετιαν. Julian. in Misopogon. p. 340. Leucetia, or Lutetia, was the ancient name of the city which, according to the fashion of the fourth century, assumed the territorial appellation of Parisii.

a Julian. in Misopogon. p. 359, 360.


In the consideration of a subject which may be Date of the con examined with impartiality, but cannot be viewed Constan- with indifference, a difficulty immediately arises tine.

of a very unexpected nature—that of ascertaining the real and precise date of the conversion of Constantine.

Theeloquent Lactantius, in the midst of his court, A. D. 306.

seems impatient to proclaim to the world the glorious example of the sovereign of Gaul; who, in the first moments of his reign, acknowledged and adored the majesty of the true and only God. The learned Eusebius has ascribed the faith of Constantine to the miraculous sign which was displayed in the heavens whilst he

meditated and prepared the Italian expedition." A. D. 312.

The historian Zosimus maliciously asserts, that the emperor had embrued his hands in the blood of his eldest son, before he publicly renounced the gods of

Rome and of his ancestors. The perplexity A.D. 326.

produced by these discordant authorities, is derived from the behaviour of Constantine himself. According to the strictness of ecclesiastical language, the first of the Christian emperors was unworthy of that

name till the moment of his death; since it was A.D.357.

only during his last illness that he received as a catechumen, the imposition of hands, and was after

a The date of the Divine Institutions of Lactantius has been accurately discussed, difficulties have been started, solutions proposed, and an expedient imagined, of two original editions; the former published during the persecution of Diocletian, the latter under that of Licinius. See Dufresnoy, Prefat. p. 5. Tillemont, Mem. Ecclesiast. tom. 6. p. 465—470. Lardner's Credibility, part 2. vol. 7. p.78–86. For my own part, I am almost convinced that Lactantius dedicated his institutions to the sovereign of Gaul, at a time when Galerius, Maximin, and even Licinius, persecuted the Christians; that is, between the years 306 and 311.

b Lactant. Divin. Institut. 1. 1.7.27. The first and most important of these passages is indeed wanting in twenty-eight manuscripts; but it is found in nineteen. If we weigh the comparative value of those manuscripts, one of nine hundred years old, in the king of France's library, may be alleged in its favour ; but the passage is omitted in the correct manuscript of Bologna,

which the P. de Montfaucon ascribes to the sixth or seventh century. (Diarium Italic. p. 409.) The taste of most of the editors (except Isæus. see Lactant. edit. Dufresnoy, tom. 1. p. 596.) has felt the genuine style of Lactantius.

c Euseb. in Vit. Constant. lib. 1. c. 27-32.

d Zosimus, lib. 2. p. 104. e That rite was always used in making a catechumen, (See Bingham's Antiqui. ties, lib. 10. c. 1. p. 419. Dom. Chardon, Hist. des Sacremens, tom. 1. p. 62.) and Constantine received it for the first time (Euseb. in Vit. Constant. lib. 4. c. 6. 1.) immediately before his baptism and death. From his connexion of these two facts,

« ForrigeFortsett »