« PreviousContinue »
Of the Tartars. tary; whose active valour has over-turned the thrones of Alia, and spread devastation through the countries of Eu, rope.
The fhepherds of the north, too indolent to cultivate the earth, depend for their subsistence on their numerous flocks and herds. These accoinpany them in their march; and the luxuriant vegetation of the grass in the uncultivated waste affords sufficient pasture for the hardy cattle. The singular taste of the favages of Scythia for horse flesh, facilitates their military operations; in their ràpid incursions, the cavalry is always followed by an adequate number of spare horses, which may be used to redouble the speed, or fatisfy the hunger of the barbarians. In a hasty march they provide themselves with little balls of hard curd, which they dissolve in water; and this unsubstantial diet will support for many days the life and even spirits of the patient Tartar,
The houses of the Tartars are small oval tents, which afford a promiscuous habitation for both sexes ; the palaces of the rich, which consist of wooden huts, may be drawn on a waggon by a team of oxen. As soon as the forage of a certain district is consumed, the tribe marches to freth pastures; their choice of stations is regulated by the seasons, and the active and restless spirit of the Tartar calculates him habitually for emigration and conqueft.
As the Huns imagined it impracticable to cross the Palus Mæotis, they were altogether unacquainted with the Roinans; so that they remained confined within the liinits their ignorance had assigned them, while other nations plundered with security. It has been the opinion of fome, that the flime, which was rolled down by the current of the Tanais, had by degrees formed a kind of incrustation on the surface of the Cimmærian Bosphorus, over which those people are supposed to have passed. Others relate that two young Scythians, being in full pursuit of an heifer, the terrified creature swain over an arm of the sea ; and the youths immediately following her, found themselves, as in a new world, upon the opposite thore. On their return, they did not fạil to relate the wonders of the strange lands and countries which they had discovered. Upon their information, an innumerable body of Huns passed those straits, and meeting firit with the Goths, made that people fly before them. The Goths, in confternation, preiented themselves on the banks of the Danube, and with Tuppliant air, entreated the Romans to allow them a place of refuge, This they easily obtained from Valens, who afligned fevetal portions of land in Thrace for their lupport, but left
them destitute of all needful supplies. Stimulated, there fore, by hunger and resentment, they foon after rose against their protectors, and in a dreadful engagement, which was fought near Adrianople, they destroyed Valens and the greatest part of his army.
The Roman arınies being thus weakened, the emperors, finding it difficult, at last, to raise levies in the provinces, were obliged to hire one body of barbarians to oppose another. This expedient had its use in circumstances of immediate danger. But when that was over, the Romans found it was as difficult to rid theinselves of their new allies, as of their foriner eneinies. Thus the empire was not ruined by any particular invasion, but sunk gradually under the weight of different attacks made upon it on every
fide. When the barbarians had wafted one province, those who succeeded the first spoilers, proceeded to another. Their devastations were at first limited to Thrace, Mäsia, and Pannonia, but when these countries were ruined, they destroyed Macedonia, Thessaly, and Greece; and froin thence they proceeded to Noricui. The empire was in this manner continually shrinking, and Italy, at last, became the frontier of its own dominion.
The valour and conduct of Theodofius, in some meafure retarded the destruction which had begun in the time of Valens, but upon his death the enemy becaine irresistible. A large body of Goths had been called in to assist the regular forces of the empire, under the command of Alaric, their King; but what was brought in to stop its universal decline, proved the most mortal stab to its security. This Gothic prince who is represented as brave, impetuous, and enterprising, perceiving the weakness of the state, and how little Arcadius and Honorius, the successors of Theodofius, were able to secure it, putting himself at the head of his barbarous forces, declared war against his employers, and fought the armies of the empire for foine years with various success. However, in proportion as his troops were cut oft, he received new fupplies from his native forests: and, at length, putting his mighty designs in execution, passed the Alps, and poured down like a torrent, among the fruitful'vallies of Italy.
This charming region had long been the seat of indolence and sensual delight; its fields were now turned into gardens of pleasure, that only served to enervate the poftessors, from having once been a nursery of military strength, that furnished soldiers for the conquest of mankind. The timid inhabitants, therefore, beheld with terTor, a dreadful enemy ravaging in the midst of their coun
Of Alaric the Gothic Prince. try, while their wretched Einperor, Honorius, who was then in Ravenna, ftill only seemed resolved to keep up his dignity, and to refuse any accommodation.
But the inhabitants of Rome felt the calamities of the times with double aggravation. This great city, which had Jong fat as mistress of the world, now saw herself besieged by an army, of fierce and terrible barbarians; and being crowded with inhabitants, it was reduced, by the extremities of pestilence and famine, to a most deplorable situation, In this extremity the senate dispatched their ambaffadors to Alaric, desiring him either to grant them a peace upon reasonable terms, or to give them leave to fi ht it with him in the open field. To this message, however, the Gothic inonarch only replied, with a burst of laughter, " that thick “ grass was easier cut than thin,;' implying, that their troops when conped within the narrow compass of the city, would be more easily overcome, than when drawn out in order of battle. When they came to debate about peace, he demanded all their riches, and all their faves. When he was alked, “ What then he would leave them;" he fernly replied, " their lives.” These were hard conditions for such a celebrated city to accept; but compelled by the necesity of the times, they raised an immense treasure, both by taxation and by stripping the heathen temples; and thus, at length, boy ht off their fierce invader. But this was but a temporary removal of the calamity; for Alaric now finding that he inight become master of Romę whenever he thought proper, returned with his army a short time after; pressed it inore closely than he had done before, and at last took it; but whether by force or stratagem is not agreed among historians. Thus that city, which for ages had plundered the rest of the world, and enriched herfelf with the spoils of inankind, n w felt, in turn, the sad rever'e of fortune, and luffered all that barbarity could infiet, or patience endure. The soldiers had liberty to pillage all places except the Christian churches; and, in the mid:t of this horrible desolation,
great was the reverence of these barbarians for our holy religion, that the pagan Romans found safety in applying to thoie of the Chrittian persuasion for protection. This dread, ful devastation contir.ued for three days, and unspeakable were the precious monuments, both of art and learning, that funk under the fury of the conquerors. However, there were still left numberleis traces of the city's former greatnels; so that this capture seemed rather a correction, than a total overthrow.
But the Gethic conquerors of the west, though they had suffered Rome to survive its first capture, now found hot
easy it was to become masters of it upon any other occasion. The extent of its walls had, in fact, made it alınost impracticable for the inhabitants to defend them; and, as it was situated in a plain, it might be stormed without much diffi culty. Besides this, no luceours were to be expected from without; for the number of the people was so extremely diminished, that the Emperors were obliged to retire to Ravenna ; a place to fortified by nature, that they could be safe without the assistance of an army. What Alaric, therefore, spared, Gesneric, king of the Vandals, not long after contributed to destroy. His merciless soldiers, for fourteen days together, ravaged with implacable fury, in the midst of that venerable place. Neither private dweilings, nor public buildings; neither sex, nor age, nor religion, were the least proteflion against their lust or avarice.
The capital of the einpire being thus ransacked several times, and Italy over-run ly barbarous invaders, under various denominations, from the remotest skirts of Enrope ; the weitern Emperors, for some tiine, continued to hold the title without the power of royalty. Honorius lived till he saw himnielf stripped of the greatest part of his dominions ; his capital taken by the Goths; the Huns possessed of Pannonia ; the Alans, Suevi, and Vandals established in Spain; and the Burgundians fealed in Gaul, where tne Goths also fixed themselves at last. After some time, the inhabitants of Rome alio, being abandoned by their princes, feebly attempted to take ihe lupreme power into their own hands. Armorica and Britain, ieeing themselves forsaken, began to regulate themselves by their own laws. Thus the power of the state was entirely broken, and those who affumed the title of Emperors only encountered certain destruction. At length even the very name of Emperor of the West expired upon the abdication of Augustulus; A. D. 476. and Odoacer, general of the Hreyli, assumed the title of king of all Italy.
Britain, long abandoned by the Romans, had been lately conquered by the Saxons ; Africa was poffeffed by the Vandals, Spain by the Visigoths ; Gaul by the Franks, Pannonia by the Huns; and now Italy, with its proud inetropolis, which, for ages, had given law to the world, was plundered and enslaved. A barbarian, whose lineage is unknown, pitched his tent in the ruins of Roine.
Such was the end of this great empire, which had conquered mankind with its arms, and instructed the world with its wis. dom; which had risen by temperance, and fallen by luxury; which had been cstablished by a pirit of patriotism, and had funk into ruin when the empire was become so extensive, that a Roman citizen was but an empty name.
Eaftern Empires Rome, however, still attracts the presence and commands the admiration of the learned and curious traveller. He views with rapture the glowing figures of the sculptor and the painter, be gazes with astonishment on the stupendous works of ancient magnificence, and traces with devout veneration the footsteps of heroes and of consuls.
In our days, Europe has no longer to dread the formidable emigrations of the north. Those countries are now cultivated and civilized. The reign of barbarism is conIracted into a narrow span; and the remnants of Calmucks“ or Uzbecks, can no longer excite the fears of the Europeans. The rude valour of the former barbarians was seconded by personal strength, and an adamantine frame; but this fuperiority is in a great measure destroyed by the change of the inilitary art, and the invention of gunpowder. Mathematics, chymistry, mechanics and archite ture are all affiduously applied to the service of war; and Europe is secure from any future irruption of barbarians, fince before they can conquer they inust ceale to bę barbarous.
Enjtcrn Empire.- Justinian. --The celebrated Belisarius.
Siege and Conquest of Constantinople by the Turks. — Re. flexions on the Füte of Nations, URING the various vicisitudes and fall of the ein
preden to us he names of Zeno, Anaftafius and Justin, who successively afcended the throne of Conftantinople.
Justin, who assumed Justinian for his partner in the empire, did not survive the promotion of his nephew above four months, but died of a wound which he had received many years before in battle. He could neither read nor write, having been employed, during his younger years, in keeping cattle. He was, notwithstanding, a man of extraordinary penetration, and uncommon address in the management of the most difficult affairs.
Whin Justinian afcended the throne, the kingdoms of the Goths and Vandals had obtained a peaceable establishment in Europe and Africa, but the Roinan lawyers and statemen still asserted the indefeasible dominion of the Emperor, Atver the imperial purple was resigned by the West, the