Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

which, after the incessant use of nine Both charges are unsustained by proof centuries, was perfect as when first or probability. Antonina may have constructed. No flaw could be dis- had her share of the money ; but her covered in the polished stones, or the husband, although blamed for suffering careful skill with which they had been her to interfere in public affairs, was fitted to each other. No opposition as ignorant of her private peculations was offered by the Gothic army, and as of her intrigues of another character, the exiles passed unmolested to their and knew no more of the bribes she appointed place of refuge. The garri- received than the Duke of Marlborough son to the last were well supplied with did of the douceurs administered to the bread, and the forage of the horses duchess by suitors for promotion, or never failed; but the people suffered the Duke of York of the traffic in comfrom unwholesome food and contagious missions carried on by Mrs. Clarke. disorders. They made sausages of Female influence, unduly exerted, was mules, which had probably died of dis- the predominent feature in all these ease; and such aliment could scarcely delicate transactions, in which, to use be palatable or healthy; otherwise the parliamentary formula of election there would be no particular objection, committees, some of the parties implias the famous Bologna sausages, so cated are open to the suspicion of a generally esteemed, are principally com- sort of misprision of bribery, with or posed of asses' flesh. The arrival of without personal knowledge, either by an officer named Euthalius, with a con. themselves or by their agents. The voy of treasure to pay the troops, raised form of trial by which Sylverius was the spirits of the sufferers ; but despair condemned, was irregular and objecbad begun to engender treason, even tionable ; but his sentence can scarcely in the highest quarters. The Pope be pronounced incompatible with strict Sylverius was detected in correspon- military justice, in cases of conspiracy dence with the Gothic monarch, and a or secret correspondence with an eneletter was intercepted in his handwrit- my. In a besieged city treachery calls ing, promising, at an appointed time, for decisive measures. The usual proto open the Asinarian gate for the secret cess is instant trial and execution, admission of the besieging army; where- without respect for privilege or calling. upon the Pontiff was summoned before Such is the established law,

even among a short military tribunal, over which the most humane and polished nations Antonina assumed the control, which, of modern Europe. Within our own with more propriety belonged to her limited experience, during the British husband. Sylverius was condemned on occupation of Sicily in the late war, we the evidence of his own handwriting, have seen a priest gibbeted in irons, deposed, stripped of his ornaments, who was taken as a spy; and the chief clad in the mean habit of a monk, and magistrate, the capitano di giustizia shipped off to perpetual exile in the of Messina hung on the esplanade beEast. The deacon, Vigilius, obtained fore the cidatel, for endeavouring to his election to the vacant bishopric by compass a massacre of the British offia bribe of two hundred pounds of gold cers, in imitation of the “Vespers” suan act of simony reconcilable to many perintended by John of Procida. Un. ecclesiastical consciences, beginning

beginning der any circumstances, Pope Sylverius with the days of Simon Magus, from was little to be pitied, and fortunate to whose name the practice is derived, escape with life. He broke his oath of down to the present year of grace in- fidelity to Vitiges, on the plea that it clusive. The loud anathemas of Roman was compulsory, and exacted by a heCatholic annalists, ancient and mo- retic,t with whom no faith should be dern,* have been heaped on Belisarius kept; and would have betrayed Belisafor the sacrilegious act of deposing a rius, when he thought Rome was again Pope. He has been accused of forging likely to fall under the dominion of the the letter attributed to Sylverius, and Goths. of pocketing the money by which the After a siege of one year and nine transfer of his office was obtained. days, during which more than two

Liberatus, Anastasius, Cardinal Baronius, and Muratori. † It must be remembered that the Goths had adopted the Arian heresy, which denied the divinity of our Saviour, while Justinian and his subjects were devout Trinitarians.

man.

thirds of his army perished, Vitiges By this time the jealousy of Justi drew off the remainder of his forces in nian was excited by the animosity of despair, and Rome was rescued by the secret enemies of Belisarius, who surability and persevering energy of one rounded the throne, and thought to

Had Belisarius never achieved blacken the character of the absent another triumph, this single action general. He was recalled, under the would have placed him in the first rank pretext that a threatened invasion of of great masters in the art of war. In the Persians demanded his presence, the history of the attack and defence of and the expiring embers of the Gothic fortified towns, the capture of Lille war no longer called for the commandby Marlborough, with its garrison of ing genius, wbich was more imperafifteen thousand men, commanded by tively required on the eastern frontier, Boufflers, and in presence of a superior He obeyed without hesitation, and siarmy, may be quoted as an example of lenced for the moment the voice of envy. unsurpassed generalship. The storm- A second time he brought a captive ing of Badajos by the Duke of Welling- monarch to the foot of his master's ton, in which he snatched away a for- throne, and laid before it the spoils of midable fortress from between the two a second kingdom. In five years he armies of Marmont and Soult, either had subdued a territory equal in exequal to his own, is a parallel instance tent to the Roman dominions at the of great daring and merit. The de- end of five centuries after the foundafence of Rome by Belisarius loses no- tion of their city. No public triumph thing in comparison with these two was this time allotted to him, but his brilliant examples, except by being less appointment to the eastern command known, and less the subject of familiar on the increasing aggressions of the reference or reflection.

Persians, attested the importance of Belisarius sallied from Rome to pur- his services, and the public confidence sue the retiring enemy, and inflicted reposed in his tried abilities. During on their rear a heavy additional loss. two campaigns against the armies of A short time after this, the arrival of Chosroes, he was prevented from acseven thousand fresh troops under Nar complishing many well-laid schemes by ses, enabled him to assume the offen- the insubordination of his officers, and sive; but the new general being a per- the small amount of force placed at his sonal favourite of the emperor, was disposal, but he foiled his adversaries invested with ambiguous powers, which repeatedly by superior skill, and gained made him insubordinate and trouble, important advantages without risking some. On the whole, he impeded and battle against odds which rendered counteracted the operations of Belisa. victory impossible. The public, neverrius, and thought more of his private theless, believed that he could achieve interests than the public service. After impossibilities, and his reputation suf doing much mischief, he was recalled fered from their inordinate expectato Constantinople, and Belisarius was tions. left in uncontrolled command, to finish During this Persian war, the Ro. the war. He rescued the whole of mans for the first time made a sin. northern Italy, compelled Vitiges to gular discovery, which would have shut himself up in Ravenna, and pro- been very valuable to them eight cen. ceeded to invest that stronghold, hi- turies before. In the army with which therto deemed impregnable. The Chosroes besieged Edessa, there was Gothic nation were tired of an unsuc- an elephant beyond the ordinary size cesful monarch, and offered the sove- of those animals, on which the Per reignty to their conqueror, with the sians fixed a tower resembling the He. proud” title of Emperor of the West. lepolis, filled with select soldiers, who He pretended to entertain the proposal, plied the defenders of the walls with but never for a moment wavered in his such a shower of darts, that they were loyalty; and when, between stratagem compelled to abandon their post. To and force, he obtained possession of remedy this danger, they fastened a the city and the person of the king, pig to the top of a tower on the walls; loudly proclaimed that he would re- the cry of the animal, rendered more main as he had ever been, the faithful piercing by terror, frightened the elesubject of Justinian, and that the phant, and made him retire. No efforts Gothic nation must be governed by his

could induce him to return to the atexample.

tack and face the unexpected oppo, nent. It was not until this siege that whose unaccountable weakness apthe Romans learned the stratagem by proaches to guilt.

Such treatment which the onset of elephants might be almost hallows rebellion, and demands rendered unavailing. If Regulus could revenge, and when Belisarius was subhave divined this at Tunis, and op. sequently appointed to the conduct of posed a line of pigs to the hundred the new war in Italy, it was generally elephants of Xantippus, he would cer- believed that he would embrace the tainly have gained the victory, and tempting opportunity of indulging carried the Spartan general in chains both. But, as Lord Mahon observes, to the senate, instead of being himself “his patient loyalty was proof against rolled down a hill in a barrel at Car- all personal injuries, and he never althage. Antiochus Soter conquered an lowed the wrongs of the subject to innumerabie army of Galatians by pervert the power, or to interrupt the means of sixteen elephants, to whom duties of the soldier." His character he erected a trophy, which filled his was the opposite of Coriolanus, Alciown soldiers with disgust and shame. biades, or Bourbon. According to the father of history, The second expedition of Belisarius Herodotus, Darius and his Persians to Italy, whither he was despatched to would have been totally routed by the retrieve the errors and incapacity of Scythians, had they not been thrown the officers who had been appointed to into confusion by the braying of the succeed him, and to retain the kingasses, and the strange form of the dom he had conquered, was less bril mules. Battles have been sometimes fiant than his first, but abundantly ilgained by intelligence little superior lustrative of his commanding military to that of the animals here commemo- genius, and inexhaustible resources. rated. During the Persian campaigns The narrowness of his means, and the of Belisarius, Antonina remained at niggardly supplies and reinforcements Constantinople immersed in political extorted from Justinian, reduced his and domestic intrigues, the details of five campaigns to a protracted war of which are equally melancholy and de- partisanship, and robbed him of many grading. Her long-enduring husband opportunities and more than one signal was at last roused to a conviction that triumph. His whole force never exhe was wronged, and meditated dread- ceeded five thousand men, with which ful vengeance, but the blandishments he was expected to re-conquer a powerof his wife soon re-established her ful kingdom, excited to renewed enwonted ascendancy, and diverted the thusiasm by the accession of a young, channel of his resentment. The in- gallant, and popular monarch. Rome Aluence of Antonina with the empress was taken and re-taken, pillaged, discontinued all powerful, and strange as mantled, and depopulated, until, if it may appear, she exerted it for the we can trust the apparently exaggepunishment of her injured husband. rated text of Procopius, not more than Justinian had fallen dangerously ill, five hundred inhabitants remained and as a rumour of his death prevailed, within the walls--a poetical mode of Belisarius, with the frankness of a sol- describing the evils of protracted war dier, spoke in favour of the succession and reiterated sieges. Belisarius, in an of his nearest kinsman, to the exclu eloquent appeal, implored the emperor sion of the claims of Theodora, which to give him the means of rendering his had been acknowledged in the oath of name and reputation memorable. He allegiance.

The offence was unpar- solicited his master, in the first place, donable, and the conqueror of two so send him money to pay such troops kingdoms was degraded from his bigh as he had, and to increase their num. command, condemned to pay a fine of ber, until the empty name of a general one hundred thousand pounds sterling, without an army should cease to be a and graciously permitted to live, at the shadow, and a subject of mockery to intercession of his wife, to whom he the enemy. He despatched his wife was commanded to express his grati. Antonina to Constantinople to retude, and restore his perfect confi- inforce his arguments, but even her dence. This is the most humiliating influence failed, and he petitioned at passage in the life of a great man, last to be re-called from his command,

• The auecdote is told by Procopius, and quoted in Folard's Commentaries.

which a little exertion on the part of younger than Marlborough, when he the emperor would have rendered as first placed himself in the rank of glorious to himself, and as profitable great generals, by his victory of Blento the government he served, as the heim. A soldier is called a veteran first, in which he conquered, and led after four or five campaigns; and all Vitiges a prisoner to Constantinople. public characters, whose actions have His reputation was lowered in the eyes long been the theme of common conof his contemporaries by the indeci- versation, are invariably accounted sive nature of this second Gothic war, older than they are. For eleven years and the clamours and detractions of Belisarius remained in honourable rehis enemies were loud and vituperative; tirement, enjoying his well-earned but posterity has done ample justice riches and repose, with the titles of to his undiminished ability. « The General of the East, and Commanderfive last campaigns of Belisarius,” in-Chief of the Imperial Guard. But says Gibbon, "might abate the envy his domestic happiness suffered much of his competitors, whose eyes had from the injurious treatment which been dazzled and wounded by the his only daughter Joannina, received blaze of his former glory. Yet, in the at the hands of the Empress Theodora, judgment of the few, who could discri. who, though dying of an incurable minate counsels from events, and com- disease, gratified her vindictive tem. pare the instruments with the execu- per by a last act of revengeful cruelty. tion, he appeared a more consummate Joannina, thwarted in her projected master of the art of war, than in the marriage, and injured in her reputaseason of his prosperity, when he pre- tion through the machinations of the sented two captive kings before the empress, died young, leaving her illusthrone of Justinian."

trious father childless, with none to The emperor finding Italy again all inherit his name or perpetuate bis but lost, yielded to private partiality, family. Marlborough in this respect what he had denied to eminent abili. was equally unfortunate.

His only ties, and despatched the eunuch Narses son and heir died in early youth, and to succeed Belisarius, with ample sup- his favourite daughter preceded him plies of men and treasure. Whatever to the grave. The conquest of Italy may have been the shades in the pri. by Narses formed the last brilliant vate character of Narses, his skill in episode in the reign of Justinian. On war and government were equally great this subject Gibbon observes rather and extraordinary, when we remember parenthetically-" I desire to believe, that he became a general in extreme old but I dare not affirm, that Belisarius age, and, having handled the distaff sincerely rejoiced in the triumph of amongst the women of the palace, Narses.” Unless he was a demigod, grasped the truncheon of the commander it was impossible. His steady patriotwith the inspiration of a hero. But ism might be gratified to find that his exploits, his overthrow of Totila, the Roman arms were still victorious ; and subsequent establishment of the but it is beyond all nature to suppose Exarchate of Ravenna on the ruins of that he should feel any satisfaction in the Gothic monarchy, are foreign to the success of a rival, who, when under the purpose of our individual biogra- his command, had been disobedient phy

and mutinous, and who was enabled to We have been so much accustomed snatch the laurels from his brow by to associate with our ideas of Belisarius, court favour and palace intrigues. But the figure of a decrepid and aged man, a closing field of glory was yet in store bowed down with years and beggary, for himself, and once more he became with a white head and a venerable the deliverer of his country. The Bulbeard of the same colour, all arising garians, under Zabergan, made a sud. from imaginary tales and fanciful por- den inroad on the European provinces traits, that we feel a difficulty in re- of the Eastern Empire, and, bearing cognizing the fact that all his great down all opposition, advanced to Chetachievements were performed before he tos, within twenty miles of Constanti. reached the mature meridian of life, nople. In this emergency, when the and that when he returned to Constan. emperor and his subjects were equally tinople in the year A.D. 548, from the paralysed by terror, and incapable of second Gothic war, he was only forty- exertion, all eyes turned towards the il. three years of age, more than ten years lustrious conqueror of Africa and Italy.

heart."

He immediately responded to the call, his empire, was imprisoned, and senand hastened to the field; but as tenced with the rest; but his life was usual without an army, and supported ultimately spared, and the utter confismerely by a handful of veterans. His cation of his vast possessions resolved utmost force amounted to only three into an enormous fine. The blindness hundred effective men, whom he posted and beggary, as we have already stated, in a narrow defile, a repetition of the rest on no proof, and must be "whistled ancient Thermopylæ. The Bulgarians down the wind” as an idle fable, or advanced with a chosen body of horse, dismissed to empty air, as the gods in thinking to trample their oponents the Iliad disposed of that portion of under foot without difficulty. Belisarius the prayers of the suppliant heroes, placed the peasants and citizens in dif- which they were predetermined not to ferent bodies on the flanks and rear of grant. Belisarius survived this last theenemy, and instructed them to bran. and crowning injury of his master, not dish their staves, the only arms with more than eight months. He had which he was able to provide them, so drank to the dregs the cup of his bitter as to deceive their foes, both as to their portion, and bent under it, on the 13th numbers and efficiency. The Bulga- of March, A.D. 565, in the sixty-first rians, engaged in a narrow defile, to the year of his age :amount of two thousand picked cavalry, " Ingratitude more strong than traitors' arms were beaten and routed by three hun- Quite vanquished him; then burst his mighty dred warriors. The Roman general prepared to follow up his unexpected Justinian survived the hero, whose success, and pressed the retreating foe death he had hastened, less than a year, with a vigorous pursuit. But envy and and expired at eighty-three, having jealousy again prevailed. The hero was entirely outlived the affection and rerecalled, and the timid emperor pur- spect of his subjects, who unanimously chased the retreat of the barbarians, hailed his decease as a national deli. when they were completely in his power. verance. Antonina, the widow of Beli. Never was the personalenergy, or the in- sarius, retired into religious seclusion, exhaustible resources of the mind of Be- and devoted the remains of her life lisarius, more conspicuously displayed and fortune to devotional observances than in this last battle of Chettos, which and the foundation of a convent. She saved Constantinople, and closed his had much to ask forgiveness for, and as military career. Four years later, a the opportunity was granted, charity conspiracy against the life of Justinian will hope that her penitence was sin. was formed by several distinguished cere and acceptable. senators, who could no longer endure A detail of the life and actions of the tyranny of a mona

onarch, from whom, John Duke of Marlborough, would in as he was already in his eightieth year, this place be wearisome and superfluous. death, in the course of nature, would We shall, therefore, confine ourselves soon deliver them. The conspiracy was to those points in his character and discovered, and the ringleaders exe- career, which suggest the parallel becuted. Under the influence of tor. tween him and the celebrated general ture the least satisfactory of all evi- of Justinian. The discovery of his

own dences-some menial dependents of Be- despatches in 1842, the letters of his lisarius impugned their master as being private secretary and chaplain (since implicated in the plot. The proof is published under the able editorship of less than nothing, and the tale altoge- Sir George Murray), have furnished ther incredible. The man who, in the additional and authentic materials, to vigour of manhood, had several times

which Archdeacon Coxe had no access rejected independent sovereignty,whose when he wrote his voluminous biograunshaken loyalty had endured obloquy phy. These despatches, in many parand confiscation, was not likely, in the ticulars, speak the mind, feelings, modecline of life, to condescend to the tives, and opinions of the man, as murder of a prince he could not expect clearly and graphically as those of his long to survive. But it suited the still more illustrious successor, the late jealousy or timidity of Justinian to Duke of Wellington. They form the believe in his guilt, no matter how groundwork on which an eminent living slender the foundation. The faithful historian (Sir A. Alison) has erected general and servant, who for years

had one of his most popular and valuable sustained his monarchy, and doubled historical works, and the inciting cause

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »