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OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE. 189
tation is of a servile cast; and the first disciples of cH.A.P. the Greeks and Romans were a colony of strangers *** in the midst of their age and country. The minute and laborious diligence which explored the antiquities of remote times, might have improved or adorned the present state of society. The critic and metaphysician were the slaves of Aristotle; the poets, historians, and orators, were proud to repeat the thoughts and words of the Augustan age; the works of nature were observed with the eyes of Pliny and Theophrastus; and some pagan votaries professed a secret devotion to the gods of Homer and Plato *. The Italians were oppressed by the strength and number of their ancient auxiliaries. The century after the deaths of Petrarch and Boccace was filled with a crowd of Latin imitators, who decently repose on our shelves; but in that ara of learning, it will not be easy to discern a real discovery of science, a work of invention or eloquence, in the popular language of the - country.
* I will select three singular examples of this classic enthusiasm. 1. At the synod of Florence, Gemistus Pletho said in familiar conversation, to George of Trebizond, that in a short time mankind would unanimously renounce the Gospel and the Koran for a religion similar to that of the Gentiles, (Leo Allatius, apud Fabricium tom. x. p. 751.). 2. Paul II. persecuted the Roman academy, which had been founded by Pomponius Laetus; and the principal members were accused of heresy, impiety, and paganism, (Tiraboschi, tom. vi. p. i. p. 81, 82.). 3. In the next century, some scholars and poets in France celebrated the success of Jodelle's tragedy of Cleopatra, by a festival of Bacchus; and, it is said, by the sacrifice of a goat, (Bayle, Dictionare, JoDEllz. Fontenelle, tom. iii. p. 56–61.). Yet the spirit of bigotry might often discern a serious impiety in the sportive play of fancy and learning.
country ". But as soon as it had been deeply saturated with the celestial dew, the soil was quickened into vegetation and life; the modern idioms were refined; the classics of Athens and Rome inspired a pure taste and a generous emulation; and in Italy, as afterwards in France and England, the pleasing reign of poetry and fiction was succeeded by the light of speculative and experimental philosophy. Genius may anticipate the season of maturity; but in the education of a people, as in that of an individual, memory must be exercised, before the powers of reason and fancy can be expanded; nor may the artist hope to equal or surpass, till he has learned to imitate the works of his
* The survivor of Boccace died in the year 1375; and we cannot place before 1480, the composition of the Morgante Maggiore of Pulci, and the Orlando Inamorato of Boyardo, (Tiraboschi, tom. vi. p. ii. p. 174–177.).
Schism of the Greeks and Latins.—Reign and Character of Amurath the Second–Crusade of Ladislaus, King of Hungary.—His Defeat and Death. —John Huniades.—Scanderbeg.—Constantine Palatalogus, last Emperor of the East.
HE respective merits of Rome and Constanti- nople are compared and celebrated by an eloquent Greek, the father of the Italian schools". The view of the ancient capital, the seat of his ancestors, surpassed the most sanguine expectations of Emanuel Chrysoloras; and he no longer blamed the exclamation of an old sophist, that Rome was the habitation, not of men, but of gods. Those gods and those men had long since vanished; but, to the eye of liberal enthusiasm, the majesty of ruin restored the image of her ancient prosperity. The monuments of the consuls and Caesars, of the martyrs and apostles, engaged on all sides the cu
riosity of the philosopher and the Christian; and
he confessed, that in every age the arms and religion of Rome were destined to reign over the earth. While Chrysoloras admired the venerable
* The epistle of Emanuel Chrysoloras to the Emperor John Palaeologus, will not offend the eye or ear of a classical student, (ad calcem Codini de Antiquitatibus C. P. p. 107– 126.). The superscription suggests a chronological remark, that John Palaeologus II. was associated in the empire before the year 1414, the date of Chrysoloras's death. A still earlier date, at least 1408, is deduced from the age of his youngest sons Demetrius and Thomas, who were both Porphyrogeniti, (Ducange, Fam. Byzant. p. 244, 247.).
beauties of the mother, he was not forgetful of his native country, her fairest daughter, her Imperial colony; and the Byzantine patriot expatiates with zeal and truth, on the eternal advantages of nature; and the more transitory glories of art and dominion, which adorned, or had adorned, the city of Constantine. Yet the perfection of the copy still redounds (as he modestly observes) to the honour of the original; and parents are delighted to be renewed, and even excelled, by the superior merit of their children. “ Constantinople,” says the orator, “is situate on a commanding point, be“tween Europe and Asia, between the Archipela“go and the Euxine. By her interposition, the “two seas and the two continents are united for “the common benefit of nations; and the gates of “ commerce may be shut or opened at her com“mand. The harbour, encompassed on all sides “by the sea and the continent, is the most secure “ and capacious in the world. The walls and gates “of Constantinople may be compared with those “ of Babylon; the towers are many; each tower “is a solid and lofty structure; and the second “wall, the outer fortification, would be sufficient “for the defence and dignity of an ordinary capital. “A broad and rapid stream may be introduced in“to the ditches; and the artificial island may be “encompassed, like Athens", by land or water.” Two * Somebody observed, that the city of Athens might be circumnavigated, (rk uri, raw woxy rar Aðavaiw, 3varoa, was ******** *****). But what may be true in a rhetorical sense of Constantinople, cannot be applied to the situation of
Athens, five miles from the sea, and not intersected or surrounded by any navigable streams.
Two strong and natural causes are alledged for the c H A P.
perfection of the model of new Rome. The royal founder reigned over the most illustrious nations of the globe; and in the accomplishment of his designs, the power of the Romans was combined with the art and science of the Greeks. Other cities have been reared to maturity by accident and time; their beauties are mingled with disorder and deformity; and the inhabitants, unwilling to remove from their natal spot, are incapable of correcting the errors of their ancestors, and the original vices of situation or climate. But the free idea of Constantinople was formed and executed by a single mind; and the primitive model was improved by the obedient zeal of the subjects and successor of the first monarch. The adjacent isles were stored with an inexhaustible supply of marble; but the various materials were transported from the most remote shores of Europe and Asia; and the public
and private buildings, the palaces, churches, aque-
ducts, cisterns, porticoes, columns, baths, and hippodromes, were adapted to the greatness of the capital of the East. The superfluity of wealth was spread along the shores of Europe and Asia; and the Byzantine territority, as far as the Euxine, the Hellespont, and the long wall, might be considered as a populous suburb, and a perpetual garden. In this flattering picture, the past and the present, the times of prosperity and decay, are artfully confounded; but a sigh and a confession escape from the orator, that his wretched country was the shadow and sepulchre of its former self. The