Imatges de pàgina

he had undertaken in the spring. The North was on the point of receiving law from Charles, who with these eminent advantages was now in the possession of a large and well appointed army, whilst the enemy's beaten, wearied, and broken forces neither appeared able nor willing to oppose the progress of his victories.'

Thus far the constitutional friends of liberty may think the. proceedings of the parliament defensible ; nor can any thing decisive be pronounced as to the general scope and tendency of this work, till its author shall defcend to times and characters which wear complections very different from those she has hitherto discussed. It is plain from her narrative, that the parliament miftrusted every concession made by Charles. Perhaps there is a manner which is equal to a manifestation ; nor 'have the friends of Charles been very lavish in their 'encomiums on the good grace with which he bestowed even, his favours. That some of his concessions were contrary to his conscience, is evident from the reflections which were wrung from him in his days of adversity ; and it would perhaps require no great degree of moral casi istry to decide, whether they would have been observed and executed, had the sunshine of his prosperity returned. With respect to the execution of this volume, it seems to improve both in stile and composition as the author advances in her subject ; and she certainly is entitled to the chaq racter of the concomitant of her labours,

Vires acquiret eundo.


JI. Belisarius. By M. Marmontel, Member of the French Aca

demy. I 2 no. Pr. 35. Vaillant. ELISARIUS commanded the armies of Justinian, and

rendered his name įmmortal by his military atchievements. He recovered Africa, which had been severed from the empire above a hundred years, and overturned the monarchy of the Vandals; he defeated the Persians in several engagements, and in Italy gained many signal advantages over the Goths. Yet after all these important services, this brave commander, in the latter part of his time, was degraded and imprisoned. Agathias afcribes his disgrace to the malice of his enemies at court ; who, envying him the great reputation he had deservedly acquired, persuaded the emperor, whose jealousy encreased with his years, that Belisarius aspired to the throne ; that the people, who preferred him to the most renowned heroes of antiquity, were unanimously attached to his ii terest; and that the saldiery were ready to support him in his


ambitious designs. Upon these malicious and groundless insinuations - he was pronounced guilty of treason. · Sume hirtorians affirm, that his eyes were put out by the order of Juftinian, that he was divested of all his possessions, and obliged to beg for his subsistence. This circumstance may be considered rather as a popular opinion, than an historical truth; yet this opinion has so universally obtained, and the idea of a blind old man, reduced to beggary, is now so affociated with the name of Belisarius, that the latter never occurs, without presenting to the imagination a pi&ture of the former. The author of this performance has therefore represented his hero in this unfortunate situation. In other particulars he has taken Procopius for his guide *

In the first part of this work we have the following account. of. Belisarius after his disgrace.

« On the night wben he was ordered into confinement, amazement, grief, and consternation filled his palace. The alarm which seized his wife Antonina, and Eudoxa his only daughter, gave a picture of despair and agony in their molt Striking colours. At length Antonina recovering from her fright, and calling to mind the favours which the empress had lavished on her, began to flatter herself that her apprehensions were groundless; she condemned, with self-reproach, the weakness she had betrayed. Admitted to an intimacy and dearness with Theodora, the companion and sharer of all her social pleasures, fhe depended upon support from that quarter, or at least she believed that Theodora was her friend. In this persuasion The attended the levée of the empress, and falling on her knees in the face of the whole court; Madam, said she, if to have defended and saved the empire on various occasions has been the distinguished lot of Belisarius, that the guilt now imputed to him may be examined in open day light, and that his accusers may confront him at the tribunal of the emperor, is now the recompence he asks for all his generous labours: a free trial, and the opportunity of confounding his enemies, is the only favour. he can with honour accept. Theodora made her a sign to rise, and with a look of frigid indifference answered ; If Belisarius is innocent, he has nothing to fear ; if the charge be true, he is no stranger to the clemency of his master, and

* M. Marmontel pays no regard to the Anecdotes, which are attributed to Procopius. He is of opinion that they have been the production of fome, paltry declaimer of later times. This notion is agrecable to the sentiments of many 'able critics.. Suidas, in the eleventh century, is the first who ascribes this despicable fatire to Procopius,


he knows the soft accesses to his heart. You may withdraw, madam, in full confidence that I regard you ; I fhall not easily furget that I have diftinguifhed you by my favours. This cold reception, and the abrupt' manner of the conclusion, quite overpowered Antonina ; she retired pale and trembling, and of all the beholders, not one dared to lift an eye towards her, Barfames, whom she met, would have passed her by unnoticed, if the had not addressed herself to him: Barsames was the mi. nister of the treasury, and the favourite of Theodora. She entreated him to inform her what was the crime laid to the charge of Belisarius. I inform you, madam ! says Barsames; I am totally in the dark; a stranger to this affair ; I have no. thing in my power; I know nothing, nor do I interfere in any thing but the duty of my department: if every body followed the same rule, the peace of the world would be lefs difturbed.

• Ah! says Antonina, the plot, 'I fee, is deeply laid, and Belisarius is undone. A little further on the met a man who owed his all to her, and who, on the preceding day, was en tirely devoted to her fervice. She made an attempt to expof tulate and canvass the affair with him;' but without deigning to hear her, I know your misfortunes, said he, and I am sorely mortified ; but I must beg your pardon, I have a bufiness to follicit, and there is not a moment to be loft: I must leave you, madam, but be affured, that nobody is more zealously attached to you. Antonina went in queft of her daughter, and in an hour's time she received directions to depart the city. An old. folitary castle was affigned the place of her exile.'

A year paffed away without any intelligence of Belifarius. At length, in confequence of a popular infurrection, he was released. But when the people saw that he was deprived of his fight, they were exasperated. Belisarius appeared their indig, nation. They offered him all they were worth. He thanked them, and said, “ All I will alk is one of your boys, to guide my steps to the afylum where my family expects me.'

In his way thither he happened to beg for shelter and hofpitality at a castle fituated in the territories of Thrace. A party of gentlemen were then at fupper. The venerable ftranger was admitted ; and they gave hiin a feat near the fire. The misfortunes of the state became the fubject of their difcourse.' The old man in the corner listened to this chub of politicians, and pity mingled with his fmiles. His air, his manner, and the propriety of his obfervations when they urged him to speak, excited their curiosity to know his name. My name, says the old man, is Belisarius. The aftonishment with which they were feized, at the name of a man who had so often conquered in three parts of the globe, will fuggeft itself to every imagina

tion. He was now folicited to make one at the table : but he defired to be excused. Every civility was offered, and he was importuned to accept the best bed in the castle. He recommended his young guide to their good offices; and contented himself with a little straw.

The next morning, as foon as there was light enough for his guide, Belisarius departed, before his hosts were awake. Tiberius, who was afterwards emperor, happened to be one of the company, and related this extraordinary incident to Juftinian.-- It is impossible, continued he, that so elevated a mind could descend to the baseness of the conspiracy laid to his charge : I would engage my life that he is innocent, if a life like mine were worthy of being furety for fo illustrious a character. I will see him, and confer with him, replied the emperor, without disclosing myself to him : in the condition of blindness, to which he is reduced, this will not be impracticable 'Tiberius, therefore, was ordered to entice him, if possible, to his country feat. :'

Belisarius, in the mean time, begging alms as he went, journeyed on towards the ruinous castle where his family refided. Arriving that night at a village, his conductor stopped at the door of a house which had a simple, but neat appearance. The landlord was entering with a spade in his hand : the mien and features of Belisarius attracted his attention, and he invited him to partake of his hospitality. This humble cottager was Gilimer, king of the Vandals, whom Belisarius had led in triumph to Conftantinople, with his wife and children. The interview was affecting --When Belisarius departed, “ Gilimer embraced him, bathed him with his tears, and could hardly quit his hold. At length he let him go with a parting pang, and straining his eyes after him, 0 prosperity ! says ne, thou cheat prosperity! who can confide in thee? the warlike hero, the great, the good Belisarius!--Now indeed he may think himself happy who digs his garden. With thefe words the king of the Vandals, resumed his Spade.'

Belifarius was. now near the asylum of his family, when a new incident made him fear that he should never reach it. The inhabitants upon the borders of the empire were perpetually making incursions into Thrace. A party of Bulgarians had invaded the confines, just as a rumour was spread abroad, that Belisarius, deprived of his eye-light, was discharged from prifon, and was begging his way to his exiled family. The idea of attaching to himself fo confiderable a man foon ftruck the prince of Bulgaria, who little doubted but Belisarius would embraçe the most rapid, means of revenge. The road he hadi taken was known, and orders were accordingly issued for a di

tigent pursuit. Towards the close of the day Belisarius .was overtaken : force was not to be resifted ; he was obliged to mount a superb horse brought for the purpose, and submit to the direction of the Bulgarians.

An old courtier, whose name was Beslus, resided at a neighbouring castle, which the barbarians were determined to attack. Beffus had commanded at Rome during a fiege, and after being guilty of the most horrible exactions, retired to this place with ten thousand talents. Belisarius had infifted that he should be prosecuted with the utmost severity of the law; but those at court, who did not wish to have matters too closely inspected, being all of his party, the enquiry was prevented, and Bessus retired, to enjoy his crimes and his money in rural tranquility. Befíus at this juncture was celebrating the misfortune of Belisarius, by a day of festivity, as a punishment inficted by heaven. Abject wretch! said the Bulgarians, he shall

long have it in his power to triumph in the downfall of a great man like you. They immediately entered the castle. Beffus and his companions were instantly seized, and dragged to the place where Belisarius was guarded. Beslus perceived on horseback a blind old man ; he immediately knew him, and beseeched his mercy:

The old general, softened with tenderness, conjured the Bulgarians to fpare his life. No, said the chief, no mercy here for bad men ! This was the signal for Naughter. Beffus with all his comrades was put to death upon the spot. The Bulgarians proceeded to regale themselves at the table, and Belisarius was placed in the seat of Beslus.

The next day the hero was conducted to the Barbarian camp. The prince gave him a generous reception, and endeavoured to gain him to his interest : but in vain. He was therefore conveyed, at his own request, to the place where he was taken. From thence he proceeded to a neighbouring village, and was received with singular demonstrations of joy by a family which he had rescued from the ravage of the Huns.

In the mean time Tiberius reached the castle where Belifa rius was expected. While he was making his enquiries the general arrived. At the sight of his deplorable condition Eudoxa swooned away, and Antonina, who was then ill of a fever, was seized with distraction, and, after a fhort interval of composure, expired. In the midst of these afflicting circumstances Belisarius did not endeavour to controul eitheç his own grief, or that of his daughter; he permitted a free vent to both; but as soon as he had paid to nature the tribute of a feeling heart, he reassumed his itrength, and emerged from his affliction with true fortitude of mind. Being informed that a young stranger


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