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princes of Constantinople assumed the sole and sacred sceptre of the monarchy; and aspired to deliver their subjects from the usurpation of barbarians and heretics. The internal state of Africa afforded an honourable motive, and pro'inised a powerful support to the Roinan arms; while the hopes of the Romans were excited by the appointinent of Belisarius to the command of their arınies.
This hero who revived the tainting glory of Rome, was born among the Thracian peasants, and served ainong the private guards of Justinian. When his patr 'n became Emperor, the domestic was promoted to military cominand, and entrusted with the important station of Dara. The Perhan general had advanced with forty thousand of his best troops to raise the fortifications of that bulwark. In the level plain of Dara, he was encountered by Belisarius, at the head of twenty-five thousand Romans. The skill of the imperial general decided the fate of the day, and eight thoufand of the vanquished Persians were left on the field of battle.
Belisarius was, accordingly, fent into Africa with an army, and in less than two years completed the conquest of that country. The victorious general then recovered the island of Sicily from the Goths, and soon after reduced a great part of Italy. Having united all these provinces to the Eaftern empire, he returned in a triumph- A. D. 541. ant manner to Constantinople.
The Huns, having made an irruption into Thrace, came within one hundred and fifty A. D. 558. furlongs of Constantinople ; but Belisarius, greatly weakened by old age, marched out against them, and put them to flight. This was the last exploit performed by Belisarius, who, upon his return to Constantinople, was disgraced, itripped of all his employments, and confined to his house, His disgrace is ascribed by a cotemporary writer*, to the inalice of his enemies at court,who persuaded the Emperor, whose jealousy increased with his years, that Belisarius aspired to the sovereignty. Modern writers alledge, that Ju inian caused his eyes to be put out, and reduced hiin to such poverty, that he was obliged to beg from door to door, But ancient authors affare us, that the Emperor was convinced of his innocence the year following, and restored him to all his employments, which he enjoyed to his death
About the time of the difgrace of Belisarius, the Emperor discovered a conspiracy againf his perfon, and caufed the chief confpirators to be put to death. The Emperor was * Agathias,
Siege of Constantinople. soon after carried off by a natural death, in the thirty-ninth year of his reign. Juftinian fignalized his reign by reuniting Africa and Italy to the empire; by publishing the famous code of laws called from him the Justinian Code; and by his public works. There was scarce a city in his dominions, in which he did not erect some stately edifice. On all these accounts, the surname of Great has been deservedly conferred
The duration of the Eastern empire reached from the year 395 to the year 1453. In the course of this period, it never equalled the ancient Roman empire in power or splendour; and it presented always a spectacle of weakness, folly, superftition, and crimes. It was gradually dismembered, and rent in pieces. The Bulgarians claimed one part of it, and the Saracens, a race of people who inhabited the deserts of Arabia, conquered Syria, Palestine, Egypt, and other neighbouring countries *. On the ruins of the Eastern Roman monarchy, Mahomet II. established the Turkish empire, and his descendants still possess the finest country in our part of the globe.
The character of the conqueror of Constantinople attracts, and even commands our attention. Mahomet the Second was early educated irl, and zealously profesied the observance of the Koran; age and empire might insensibly relax his rigid obedience to the laws of the prophet; but so scrupulously were they fulfilled at first by the son of Amurath, that as often as he conversed with an infidel, he purified his hands and face by the legal rites of abluțion. Under the tuition of the most skilfol masters, he was distingųished by his rapid progress in the paths of knowledge; and to his native tongue were added the acquisition of the Arabic, the Persian, the Chaldean, the Latin, and the Greek languages, History and geography, astrology and mathematics, confessed the variety of his literary pursuits; and his taste for the arts was displayed by his liberal invitation, and reward, of the painters of Italy. But his thirst of dominion and of conquest was unbounded, and his cruelty, after victory, was often insatiate.
A fiege of forty days proclaimed the approaching ryin of Constantinople. The breaches were increased, the garrison was diminished, and the strength of the inhabitants was impaired by discord. In an attempt to destroy the unfinished works of the besiegers, forty gallant youths were inhumanly massacred by the command of the Sultan, and Conftantine could only avenge their fate by exposing from the walls tha heads of iwo hundred and fixty Muffulmen.
Uni versal History.
The twenty-ninth of May was fixed by the Sultan, and was fanctioned by his favourite science of astrology, for the fatal and final assault. The dervises proclaimed to those who should fall in the holy enterprite iminortal youth amidst the rivers and gardens of paradise, and all the pleasures their hearts could desire. The Sultan promised the temporal incentive of double pay. “ The city and the buildings,” said Mahomet, “ are mine: but I resign to your valour the captives " and the spoil, the treasures of gold and beauty: be rich and “ be happy. Many are the provinces of my empire; the in* trepid soldier who first ascends the walls of Conftantinople, " thall be rewarded with the government of the fairest and " the most wealthy; and my gratitude shall accumulate his « honours and his fortunes above the measure of his own " hopes.” Such powerful motives diffused among the Turks a general ardour, and the camp resounded with the shouts of “ God is God! there is but one God, and Mahomet is the “ apostle of God!”
The minds of the Christians were agitated with far different passions; despair and fear by turns occupied their bofoms; the noblest of the youths were summoned by Constantine Palæologus to the imperial palace, and he vainly attempted to infuse into their minds the hope to which he himself was a stranger. Yet this band of warriors was animated by the example of their prince. The Christians, for some time, maintained their superiority; and the voice of the Emperor was heard exhorting his companions and subjects by a last effort to archieve the deliverance of their country; but in the moment of laffitude, the janizaries rose fresh and vigorous, and poured the fury of their arms on their faint and feeble opponents. The tide of battle was impelled by the Sultan himself, who on horseback, with an iron mace in his hand, reproved the tardy, and applauded the ardent.
The assault now became every moment more vigorous. Haslan, the janizary, was the first who mounted the walls,, and deserved the reward of the Sultan. A crowd of Turks impetuously succeeded; and the Greeks driven from the rampart were overwhelmed by increasing multitudes. The remnant of the nobles still fought round the person of the Emperor; his mournful exclamation was heard, “ Cannot there “ be found a Christian to cut off my head !" His last fear was that of falling alive into the hands of the infidels. He had before prudently cast away the purple; in the confufion of the attack, he fell by an unknown hand; his body was buried under a monument of Nain, and was discovered by the golden eagles embroidered on his shoes. With his life refiftance expired; the Turks poured in on every side; the walls
286 Reflexions on the Fate of Nations. which had defied the Goths, which had refifted the united forces of the Avars and the Persians, now yielded to the sun perior enthutiasm of the Moslems; and the race of Othman, the disciples of Mahomet, established their government and their religion in the palace and the churches which had been founded by Constantine.
Let us here pause a moment, and reflect on the fate of nations, and the transient prosperity of empires. Greece, the land of freedom, the parent of heroes, the nurse of philofophers, who when she bowed before the victorious arms, refined the taste of Rome, is sunk the slave of barbarous superftition, and ignorant despotism; whilst the fucceffors of Alexander, whose rapid victories overturned the Persian monarchy, and deluged Asia with blood, are doomed to footh the pride, and feed the avarice of some upstart Turkish Bashaw! The acquisitions of Lucullus and Pompey, in Asia, and even the fleeting conquests of Trajan, have all yielded to the fierce followers of Mahomet, and form part of the dominions of the Ottoman Porte. Syria, once the seat of royalty, and long the eastern frontier of the Roman empire, attracts only the curiosity of the traveller, or exercises the speculations of the 'philosopher ; whilft Phenicia and Palestine, deserted and destitute, seem but to exist in their former reputation. It is needless to remind the reader, that we owe the useful and elegant invention of letters to the first, and the pure doctrine of the Christian religion to the lait. Egypt, renowned for mystic science and splendid literary pre-eminence, now groans beneath the iron rod of delegated authority, and is an appendage to the Turkish government; her redundant Nile overflows to fill the coffers of capricious tyranny and fanguinary oppreffion. On the coast of Africa, Carthage, formerly the rival of Rome, is posefied by the States of Tripoli and Tunis ; Numidia, once the kingdom of the celebrated Masinissa and the crafty Jugurtha, obeys the arbitrary nod of the Dey of Algiers. Fez is the Mauritania of the ancients; and the ruins of a city founded by the Romans, are still to be discerned amidit dominions doomed to experience the favage ferocity of the Emperor of Morocco. Of the islands which acknowledged the authority of Rome, Majorca and Minorca both belong to Spain ; Sardinia and Sicily are governed by Italian Princes; Corfica has been fubdued, and almost depopulated, by the arnbition of France, the rest have submitted to the victorious arms of the Turks, except Malta, which still continues to baffle the force and brave the indignation of the Ottoman power.
CH A P. LV.
A general View of Modern History. - Feudal Sylem. — Chivalry.--The Feudal System gives Way to Liberty and Commerce.-- Crusades.-Derivation of Lombard-street.-Hanseatic League.-First Traveller.-Spirit of Adventure and Discovery Mews itself.-Europe emerges out of Darkness.-Balance of Power. - Thoughts on Conqueft. -- Peace and War.
N order to prepare the young reader for entering upon the
particular history of each country, it may not be improper to place before his eye a general view of the modern world.
Towards the close of the sixth century, the Saxons, a German nation, were masters of the southern and more fertile provinces of Britain; the Franks, another tribe of Germans, of Gaul; the Goths, of Spain; the Goths and Lombards, of Italy, and the adjacent provinces. Scarcely any veftige of the Roman policy, jurisprudence, arts or literature remained. New forms of government, new laws, new manners, new dresses, new languages, and new names of men and countries, were every where introduced.
From this period, till the fixteenth century, Europe exhibited a picture of most melancholy Gothic barbarity. Literature, science, tafte, were words scarce in use during these ages. Perfons of the highest rank, and in the most eminent stations, could not read nor write. Many of the clergy did not understand the breviary; which they were obliged daily to recite. Some of them could scarcely read it. The huinan mind neglected, uncultivated, and depressed, sunk into the most profound ignorance. The superior genius of Charlemagne, who in the beginning of the ninth century, governed France and Germany with part of Italy; and Alfred the Great in England, during the latter part of the same century, endeavoured to dispel this darkness, and give their subjects a short glimpse of light. But the ignorance of the age was too powerful for their efforts and ialtitutions. The darkness returned and even encreased; fo that a ftill greater degree of ignorance and barbarism prevailed throughout Europe.
A new division of property gradually introduced a new species of government' formerly unknown; which - fingular institution is now distinguished by the name of the feudal System. The king or general, who led the barbarians to conquest, parcelled out the lands of the vanquished among his chief officers, binding those on whom they were bestowed to follow his standard with a number of men, and to bear arms