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fpectres are fometimes created by the powers of a difordered fancy, and the weakness of a diftempered body. After a life of virtue and glory, Theodoric was now defcending with fhame and guilt into the grave: his mind was humbled by the contraft of the past, and juftly alarmed by the invifible terrors of futurity. One evening, as it is related, when the head of a large fifh was ferved on the royal table, he fuddenly exclaimed that he beheld the angry countenance of Symmachus, his eyes glaring fury and revenge, and his mouth armed with long fharp teeth, which threatened to devour him. The monarch inftantly retired to his chamber, and, as he lay, trembling with agueish cold, under a weight of bed-clothes, he expreffed in broken murmurs to his phyfician Elpidius, his deep repentance for the murders of Boethius and Symmachus. His malady encreased, and after a dyfentery which continued three days, he expired in the palace of Ravenna, in the thirty-third, or, if we compute from the invafion of Italy, in the thirty-feventh year of his reign.'
The fiye following chapters are devoted to the important reign of Juftinian, who reftored, by his arms and his laws, the ancient glory of the empire. To fome faftidious readers, the hiftorian will appear to dwell too long, and with too little reluctance, on the character and vices of the Emprefs Theodora, a theatrical courtezan, invefted with the purple, and entrusted by the fondnels of her husband with an equal and independent share in the government of the Roman world. Her diffolute pleafures, which are recorded in the notes, and veiled in the obfcurity of a learned language +, Mr. Gibbon, indeed, does not arraign with the tharpnefs of a fatirift, or the afperity of a bigot. With a degree of gallantry fuiting the liberality of his character, he defcribes the wife of Juftinian as a monfter; but, in the foft terms which he employs, he ftill remembers that she is a woman of fingular accomplishments, and incomparable beauty. Yet the picture which he draws, however mild and temperate in its colouring, is fufficiently expreffive in its defign; and might ferve to teach, if any thing could teach, the favourites of fortune, that their vices, however protected by power, or disguised by Aattery, cannot, in the end, efcape the reproach of hiftory, and the detestation or the contempt of fucceeding ages.
In the following chapter, Mr. G. enjoys the opportunity, which rarely occurs to him in the courfe of his great work, of difplaying a character of the moft illuftrious merit. Under the aufpices of Juftinian, the valour of Belifarius effected the conqueft of Africa. He was invidioufly recalled from Italy; but
Procopius, Goth. 1. i. c. 1. But he might have informed us, whether he had received this curious anecdote from common report, or from the mouth of the royal phyfician.'
In the famous, or rather infamous, paffage cited from Procopius (p. 53.) we defire Mr. Gibbon will infert for x in the word
royal ingratitude ferved only to encreafe his fame; and the admiration of his contemporaries has been confirmed by the impartial fuffrage of posterity.
After the fecond victory of Belifarius, envy again whispered, Juftinian liftened, and the hero was recalled. "The remnant of the Gothic war was no longer worthy of his prefence: a gracious fovereign was impatient to reward his fervices, and to confult his wifdom; and he alone was capable of defending the East against the innumerable armies of Perfia." Belifarius understood the fufpicion, accepted the excufe, embarked at Ravenna his fpoils and trophies; and proved, by his ready obedience, that fuch an abrupt removal from the government of Italy was not lefs unjuft than it might have been indifcreet. The Emperor received with honourable courtesy, both Vitiges and his more noble confort: and as the King of the Goths conformed to the Athanafian faith, he obtained, with a rich inheritance of lands in Afia, the rank of fenator and patrician. Every fpectator admired, without peril, the ftrength and ftature of the young barbarians: they adored the majesty of the throne, and promised to fhed their blood in the fervice of their benefactor. Juftinian depofited in the Byzantine palace the treafures of the Gothic monarchy. A flattering fenate was fometimes admitted to gaze on the magnificent fpectacle; but it was enviously fecluded from the public view; and the conqueror of Italy renounced, without a murmur, perhaps without a figh, the well-earned honours of a fecond triumph. His glory was indeed exalted above all external pomp; and the faint and hollow praifes of the court were fupplied, even in a fervile age, by the refpect and admiration of his country. Whenever he appeared in the streets and public places of Conftantinople, Belifarius attracted and fatisfied the eyes of the people. His lofty ftature and majestic countenance fulfilled their expectations of an hero; the meaneft of his fellow-citizens were emboldened by his gentle and gracious demeanour; and the martial train which attended his footsteps, left his perfon more acceffible than in a day of battle. Seven thousand horsemen, matchlefs for beauty and valour, were maintained in the fervice, and at the private expence of the General. Their prowefs was always confpicuous in fingle combats, or in the foremost ranks; and both parties confeffed, that in the fiege of Rome, the guards of Belifarius had alone vanquifhed the Barbarian hoft. Their numbers were continually augmented by the bravest and most faithful of the enemy; and his fortunate captives, the Vandals, the Moors, and the Goths, emulated the attachment of his domeftic followers. By the union of liberality and juftice, he acquired the love of the foldiers, without alienating the affections of the people. The fick and wounded were relieved with medicines and money; and fill more efficaciously, by the healing vifits and fmiles of their commander. The lofs of a weapon or an horfe was inftantly repaired, and each deed of valour was rewarded by the rich and honourable gifts of a bracelet or a collar, which were rendered more precious by the judgment of Belifarius. He was endeared to the husbandmen, by the peace and plenty which they enjoyed under the fhadow of his ftandard. Inftead of being injured, the country was enriched by the march of the Roman armies; and fuch was the
rigid difcipline of their camp, that not an apple was gathered from the tree, not a path could be traced in the fields of corn. Belifarius was chafte and fober. In the licence of a military life, none could boast that they had feen him intoxicated with wine: the most beautiful captives of Gothic or Vandal race were offered to his embraces; but he turned afide from their charms, and the hufband of Antonina was never fufpected of violating the laws of conjugal fidelity. The fpectator and hiftorian of his exploits has obferved, that amidst the perils of war, he was daring without rafhnefs, prudent without fear, flow or rapid according to the exigences of the moment; that in the deepest diftrefs, he was animated by real or apparent hope, but that he was modeft and humble in the most profperous fortune. By these virtues, he equalled or excelled the ancient mafters of the military art. Victory, by fea and land, attended his arms. He fubdued Africa, Italy, and the adjacent iflands, led away captives the fucceffors of Genferic and Theodoric; filled Conftantinople with the fpoils of their palaces, and in the space of fix years recovered half the provinces of the Wettern empire. In his fame and merit, in wealth and power, he remained, without a rival, the firft of the Roman fubjects: the voice of envy could only magnify his dangerous import ance; and the Emperor might applaud his own difcerning fpirit, which had discovered and raised the genius of Belifarius.'
Great as Belifarius appeared, his glory was rivalled by NarThis eunuch, fays Mr. G. is ranked among the few, who have rescued that unhappy name from the contempt and hatred of mankind:
• A feeble diminutive body concealed the foul of a statesman and a warrior. His youth had been employed in the management of the loom and diftaff, in the cares of the houfehold, and the fervice of female luxury; but while his hands were bufy, he fecretly exercifed the faculties of a vigorous and difcerning mind. A ftranger to the schools and the camp, he ftudied in the palace to diffemble, to flatter, and to perfuade; and as foon as he approached the person of the Emperor, Juftinian liftened with furprife and pleasure to the manly counfels of his Chamberlain and Private Treasurer. The talents of Narfes were tried and improved in frequent embaffies; he led an army into Italy, acquired a practical knowlege of the war and the country, and prefumed to ftrive with the genius of Belifarius. Twelve years after his return, the eunuch was chofen to atchieve the conqueft which had been left imperfect by the first of the Roman Generals. Instead of being dazzled by vanity or emulation, he seriously declared, that unless he were armed with an adequate force, he would never confent to rifk his own glory, and that of his fovereign. Juftinian granted to the favourite, what he might have denied to the hero: the Gothic war was rekindled from its afhes, and the preparations were not unworthy of the ancient majelly of the empire.'
Narfes defeated the Goths, the Franks, and the Alemanni; the Italian cities opened their gates to the conqueror; he entered the capital in triumph; and having eftablifhed the feat of his government at Ravenna, continued fifteen years to govern Italy under the title of Exarch.
The glory of Belifarius and of Narfes obfcures the name of Juftinian, who is not the principal figure in the hiftory of his own reign. Yet Juftinian had a merit, diftinct from that of his generals; and after the vain celebrations of their victories are forgotten, the name of the Legiflator remains infcribed on a fair and everlafting monument. Under his reign, and by the labours of the illuftrious Tribonian, affifted by the ableft lawyers of the times, the civil jurifprudence of the Romans, which had fwelled to an immoderate fize, was digefted into the Code, the Pandects, and the Inftitutes.
In his 44th chapter, Mr. G. traces the hiftory of the Roman law from Romulus to Juftinian, appreciates the labours of that Emperor and his minifters, and paufes to contemplate the principles of a fcience fo important to the peace and happiness of fociety. In this masterly review, which is not lefs diftinguished by precifion than elegance, he treats of the laws of the Kings, of thofe of the Twelve Tables, the laws of the People and the Senate, the edicts of the Magiftrates and Emperors, the autho rity of the Civilians; and then remounting to the principles of the fcience itself, explains the rights of perfons and of things, private injuries and actions, crimes and punishments. The chapter in which thefe fubjects are treated, appears to us the moft important in the whole work, and peculiarly adapted to ferve as an alluring and luminous introduction to the ftudy of the civil law, which has been filently or ftudiously transfufed into the domestic inftitutions of Europe, and which is ftill received as common law, or reason, in most countries on the continent, and even in the northern divifion of our own ifland. When we confider that, in one fhort chapter, Mr. G. has clearly and fully illuftrated a fubject, which has exhaufted fo many learned lives, and filled the walls of fo many fpacious libraries," we cannot help admiring the abilities as well as the industry of the historian, who, in the courfe of a few months, could attain a comprehenfive knowlege of a fcience with which he was formerly unacquainted, and explain its principles with fuch perfpicuity and beauty, as will encourage and facilitate its ftudy in all fucceeding ages.
The example fet by Juftinian is worthy not only of praife but of imitation. In fome modern countries, and especially in our own, the bulk and multiplicity of laws and ftatutes form an old, and juft, fubject of complaint. In the prefent reign, the evil has encreafed with unexampled rapidity; and, unless its progrefs be checked in due time, the rights of individuals, and the order of fociety, must be deftroyed by the very means which had been invented to fupport and fecure them. It would be congenial to the fpirit of improvement, which has appeared in to many inflances in the prefent age, to employ men, capable of generaliza
tion, and acquainted with the power of words, to abridge and methodize our laws. This measure muft at fome future time be adopted; for the fpirit of the nation will not always permit, that, in order to entich the retainers of one profeffion, naturally too lucrative, all other profeffions fhould be beggared and oppreffed.. It deferves well to be confidered, whether the prefent be not the moft proper feafon for introducing the improvement which we propofe; and, fince much glory will be reflected on the age in which an alteration fo beneficial takes place, it is worthy of confideration, whether that glory ought to be reaped by ourselves, or relinquished to diftant pofterity.
The forty-fifth and forty-fixth chapters contain the reigns of the younger Juftin, of Tiberius, of Maurice, and of Heraclius; and the forty-feventh, or laft, chapter of this volume, relates the ecclefiaftical hiftory of the reign of Juftinian, and his immediate fucceffors. The difputes on the Trinity were fucceeded by those on the Incarnation, which occafioned a religious war of two hundred and fifty years. The hiftory of this fanguinary conteft, Mr. G. introduces by an interefting and learned enquiry into the doctrines of the primitive church.
A laudable regard for the honour of the first profelytes, has countenanced the belief, the hope, the with, that the Ebionites, or at least the Nazarenes, were diftinguifhed only by their obftinate perfeverance in the practice of the Mofaic rites. Their churches have difappeared, their books are obliterated; their obfcure freedom might allow a latitude of faith, and the foftnefs of their infant creed would be variously moulded by the zeal or prudence of three hundred years. Yet the most charitable criticifm muft refufe thefe fectaries any knowlege of the pure and proper divinity of Chrift. Educated in the fchool of Jewish prophecy and prejudice, they had never been taught to elevate their hopes above an human and temporal Meffiah. If they had courage to hail their King when he appeared in a plebeian garb, their groffer apprehenfions were incapable of difcerning their God, who had ftudioufly difguifed his cæleftial character under the name and person of a mortal. The familiar companions of Jefus of Nazareth converfed with their friend and countryman, who, in all the actions of rational and animal life, appeared of the fame fpecies with themselves. His progrefs from infancy to youth and manhood, was marked by a regular increase in ftature and wifdom; and after a painful agony of mind and body, he expired on the crofs. He lived and died for the fervice of mankind: but the life and death of Socrates had likewife been devoted to the caufe of religion and juftice; and although the ftoic or the hero may difdain the humble virtues of Jefus, the tears which he shed over his friend and country, may be efteemed the pureft evidence of his humanity. The miracles of the Gofpel could not aftonish a people who held, with intrepid faith, the more fplendid prodigies of the Mofaic law. The prophets of ancient days had cured diseases, raifed the dead, divided the fea, ftopped the fun, and afcended to heaven in a fiery chariot. And the metaphoriREV. July, 1788. с