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sternly forbid to pitch his tents in a pleasant valley, lest he should infringe the distant awe that was due to the royal mansion.* The ministers of Attila pressed him to communicate the business, and the instructions, which he reserved for the ear of their sovereign. When Maximin temperately urged the contrary practice of nations, he was still more confounded to find that the resolutions of the Sacred Consistory, those secrets (says Priscus) which should not be revealed to the gods themselves, had been treacherously disclosed to the public enemy. On his refusal to comply with such ignominious terms, the Imperial envoy was commanded instantly to depart; the order was recalled; it was again repeated; and the Huns renewed their ineffectual attempts to subdue the patient firmness of Maximin. At length, by the intercession of Scotta, the brother of Onegesius, whose friendship had been purchased by a liberal gift, he was admitted to the royal presence; but, instead of obtaining a decisive answer, he was compelled to undertake a remote journey towards the north, that Attila might enjoy the proud satisfaction of receiving, in the same camp, the ambassadors of the Eastern and Western empires. His journey was regulated by the guides, who obliged him to halt, to hasten his march, or to deviate from the common road, as it best suited the convenience of the king. The Romans, who traversed the plains of Hungary, suppose that they passed several navigable rivers, either in canoes or portable boats; but there is reason to suspect that the winding stream of the Teyss, or Tibiscus, might present itself in different places under different names. From the contiguous villages they received a plentiful and regular supply of provisions; mead instead of wine, millet in the place of bread, and a certain liquor named camus, which, according to the report of Priscus, was distilled from barley.” Such fare might appear coarse and indelicate to men who had tasted the luxury of Constantinople; but, in their accidental distress, they were relieved by the gentleness and hospitality of the same Barbarians, so terrible and so merciless in war. The ambassadors had encamped on the edge of a large morass. A violent tempest of wind and rain, of thunder and lightning, overturned their tents, immersed their baggage and furniture in the water, and scattered their retinue, who wandered in the darkness of the night, uncertain of their road, and apprehensive of some unknown danger, till they awakened by their cries the inhabitants of a neighboring village, the property of the widow of Bleda. A bright illumination, and, in a few moments, a comfortable fire of reeds, was kindled by their officious benevolence; the wants, and even the desires, of the Romans were liberally satisfied; and they seem to have been embarrassed by the singular politeness of Bleda's widow, who added to her other favors the gift, or at least the loan, of a sufficient number of beautiful and obsequious damsels. The sunshine of the succeeding day was dedicated to reposo, to collect and dry the baggage, and to the refreshment of the men and horses; but, in the evening, before they pursued their journey, the ambassadors expressed their gratitude to the bounteous lady of the village, by a very acceptable present of silver cups, red fleeces, dried fruits, and Indian pepper. Soon after this adventure, they rejoined the march of Attila, from whom they had been separated about six days, and slowly proceeded to the capital of an empire, which did not contain, in the space of several thousand miles, a single Clty.
42 The Huns themselves still continued to despise the labors of agriculture : they abused the privilege of a victorious nation ; and the Goths, their industrious subjects, who cultivated the earth, dreaded their neighborhood, like that of so many ravenous wolves (Priscus, p. 45). In the same manner the Starts and Tadgigs provide for their own subsistence, and for that of the Usl:ec Tatars, their lazy and rapacious sovereigns. See Genealogical History of the Tartars, pp. 423, 455, &c.
* He was forbidden to pitch his tents on an eminence because Attila's were below on the plain. Ibid.-MI.
‘Ās far as we may ascertain the vague and obscure geography of Priscus, this capital appears to have been seated between the Danube, the Teyss, and the Carpathian hills, in the plains of Upper Hungary, and most probably in the neighborhood of Jezberin, Agria, or Tokay.” In its origin it could be no more than an accidental camp, which, by the long and frequent residence of Attila, had insensibly swelled into a huge village, for the reception of his court, of the troops who followed his person, and of the various multitude of idle or industrious slaves and retainers.” The baths, constructed by Onegesius, were the only edifice of stone; the materials had been transported from Pannonia; and since the adjacent country was destitute even of large timber, it may be presumed, that the meaner habitations of the royal village consisted of straw, or mud, or of canvas. The wooden houses of the more illustrious Huns were built and adorned with rude magnificence, according to the rank, the fortune, or the taste of the proprietors. They seemed to have been distributed with some degree of order and symmetry; and each spot became more honorable as it approached the person of the sovereign. The palace of Attila, which surpassed all other houses in his dominions, was built entirely of wood, and covered an ample space of ground. The outward enclosure was a lofty wall, or palisade, of smooth square timber, intersected with high towers, but intended rather for ornament than defence. This wall, which seems to have encircled the declivity of a hill, comprehended a great variety of wooden edifices, adapted to the uses of royalty. A separate house was assigned to each of the numerous wives of Attila; and, instead of the rigid and illiberal confinement imposed by Asiatic jealousy, they politely admitted the Roman ambassadors to their presence, their table, and even to the freedom of an innocent embrace. When Maximin offered his presents to Cerca,” the principal queen, he admired the singular architecture of her mansion, the height of the round columns, the size and beauty of the wood, which was curiously shaped or turned, or polished or carved; and his attentive eye was able to discover some taste in the ornaments and some regularity in the proportions. After passing through the guards, who watched before the gate, the ambassadors were introduced into the private apartment of Cerca. The wife of Attila received their visit sitting, or rather lying, on a soft couch ; the floor was covered with a carpet; the domestics formed a circle round the queen ; and her damsels, seated on the ground, were employed in working the variegated embroidery which adorned the dress of the Barbaric warriors. The Huns were ambitious of displaying those riches which were the fruit and evidence of their victories; the trappings of their horses, their swords, and even their shoes, were studded with gold and precious stones; and their tables were profusely spread with plates, and goblets, and vases of gold and silver, which had been fashioned by the labor of Grecian artists. The monarch alone assumed the superior pride of still adhering to the simplicity of his Scythian ancestors.” The dress of Attila, his sims, and the furniture of his horse, were plain, without ornament, and of a single color. The royal table was served in wooden cups and platters; flesh was his only food; and the conqueror of the North never tasted the luxury of bread. When Attila first gave audience to the Roman ambassadors on the banks of the Danube, his tent was encompassed with a formidable guard. The monarch himself was seated in a wooden chair. His stern countenance, angry gestures, and impatient tone, astonished the firmness of Maximin ; but Vigilius had more reason to tremble, since he distinctly understood the menace, that if Attila did not respect the law of nations, he would nail the deceitful interpreter to the cross, and leave his body to the vultures. The Barbarian condescended, by producing an accurate list, to expose the bold falsehood of Vigilius, who had affirmed that no more than seventeen deserters could be found. But he arrogantly declared, that he apprehended only the disgrace of contending with his fugitive slaves; since he despised their impotent efforts to defend the provinces which Theodosius had intrusted to their arms: “For what fortress" (added Attila), “what city, in the wide extent of the Roman empire, can hope to exist, secure and impregnable, if it is our pleasure that it should be erased from the earth ** He dismissed, however, the interpreter, who returned to Constantinople with his peremptory demand of more complete restitution, and a more splendid embassy. His anger gradu. ally subsided, and his domestic satisfaction in a marriage which he celebrated on the road with the daughter of Eslam,” might perhaps contribute to mollify the native fierceness of his temper. The entrance of Attila into the royal village was marked by a very singular ceremony. A numerous troop of women came out to meet their hero and their king. They marched before him, distributed into long and regular files; the intervals between the files were filled by white veils of thin linen, which the women on either side bore aloft in their hands, and which formed a canopy for a chorus of young virgins, who chanted hymns and songs in the Scythian language. The wife of his favorite Onegesius, with a train of female attendants, saluted Attila at the door of her own house, on his way to the palace; and offered, according to the custom of the country, her respectful homage, by entreating him to taste the wine and meat which she had prepared for his reception. As soon as the monarch had graciously accepted her hospitable gift, his domestics lifted a small silver table to a convenient height, as he sat on horseback; and Attila, when he had touched the goblet with his lips, again saluted the wife of Onegesius, and continued his march. During his residence at the seat of empire, his hours were not wasted in the recluse idleness of a seraglio ; and the king of the Huns could maintain his superior dignity, without concealing his person from the public view. He frequently assembled his council, and gave audience to the ambassadors of the nations; and his people might appeal to the supreme tribunal, which he held at stated times, and, according to the Eastern custom, before the principal gate of his wooden palace. The Romans, both of the East and of the West, were twice invited to the banquets, where Attila feasted with the princes and nobles of Scythia. Maximin and his colleagues were stopped on the threshold, till they had made a devout libation to the health and prosperity of the king of the IIuns;
* It is evident that Priscus passed the Danube and the Teyss, and that he did not reach the foot of the Carpathuan hills. Agria, Tokay, and Jazberin, are situated in the plains circumscribed by this definition. M. de Buat (Histoire des Peuples, &c., tom. vii. p. 461) has chosen Tokay; Otrokosci (p. 180, apud Mascou, ix. 23), a learned Hungarian, has preferred Jazberin, a place about thirty-six miles Westward of Buda and the Danube.*
* M. St. Martin considers the narrative of Priscus, the only authority of M. de Buat and of Gibbon, too vague to fix the position of Attila's camp. “It is worthy of remark, that in the Hungarian traditions collected by Thevrocz, 1.2, c. 16, precisely on the left branch of the Danube, where Attila's residence was situated, in the same parallel stands the present city of Buda, in Hungarian Buduvur. It is for this reason that this city has retained for a long time among the Germans of Hungary the name of Etzelnburgh or Etzela-burgh, i. e., the city of Attila. The distance of Buda from the place where Priscus crossed the Danube, on his Wily, from Naissus, is equal to that which he traversed to reach the residence of the king of the Huins. I see no good reason for not acceding to the relations of the Hungarian historians. St. Martin, vi. 191.-M.
*The royal village of Attila, may be compared to the city of Karacorum, the residence of the successors of Zingis; which, though it appears to have been a more stable habitation, did not equal the size or splendor of the town and abbey of St. Denys, in the 13th century. (See Rubruquis, in the Histoire Générale des Voyages, tom. vii. p. 286.). The camp of Aurengzebe, as it is so agreeably de
scribed by Bernier (tom. ii. pp. 217-235), blended the manners of Scythia with the magnificence and luxury of Hindostan.
* The name of this queen occurs three times in Priscus, and always in a dif: ferent form—Cerca, Creca, and Rheca. The Scandinavian poets have preserved her memory under the name of Herkia. St. Martin, vi. 192.-M.
45 When the Moguls, displayed the spoils of Asia, in the diet of Tongat, the throne of Zingis was still covered with the original black felt carpet on which he had been seated, when he was raised to the command of his warlike countrymen. See Wie de Gengiscan, l. iv. c. 9.
* Escam—év i yawesw 6vyatépa. "Earān 3oofro, TAetatas uév extov yawerós, &yöwevos Sä kai raisrnv kará vöuov Tov Skv6 cov. Was this lais own daughter, or the daughter of a person named Escam 2 (Gibbon has written incorrectly Eslam, an unknown name. The officer of Attila, called Eslas, is spelt Ho Aas). In either case the construction is imperfect : a good Greek writer, would have introduced an article to determine the sense, either rnv attoo 6 wyotep 1, or Tmu too 'Ed Käpt o £reot. Nor is it quite clear, whether Scythian usage is adduced to excuse to. 3 }: ygamy, or a marriage, which would be considered incestuous in other counries. The Latin version has carefully preserved the ambiguity, filiam Escam uxore m. I am not inclined to construe it his own, daughter,’ though I have too little confidence in the uniformity of the grammatical idioms of the Byzantimes (though Priscus is one of the best) to express myself without hesitation.—M.