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History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empir

Who had mischievously assumed the form of Justinian


[Footnote

75: The invention, manufacture, and general use of silk in China, may be seen in Duhalde, (Description Generale de la Chine, tom. ii. p. 165, 205--223.) The province of Chekian is the most renowned both for quantity and quality.]

[Footnote 76: Procopius, (l. viii. Gothic. iv. c. 17. Theophanes Byzant. apud Phot. Cod. lxxxiv. p. 38. Zonaras, tom. ii. l. xiv. p. 69. Pagi tom. ii. p. 602) assigns to the year 552 this memorable importation. Menander (in Excerpt. Legat. p. 107) mentions the admiration of the Sogdoites; and Theophylact Simocatta (l. vii. c. 9) darkly represents the two rival kingdoms in (China) the country of silk.]

[Footnote 77: Cosmas, surnamed Indicopleustes, or the Indian navigator, performed his voyage about the year 522, and composed at Alexandria, between 535, and 547, Christian Topography, (Montfaucon, Praefat. c. i.,) in which he refutes the impious opinion, that the earth is a globe; and Photius had read this work, (Cod. xxxvi. p. 9, 10,) which displays the prejudices of a monk, with the knowledge of a merchant; the most valuable part has been given in French and in Greek by Melchisedec Thevenot, (Relations Curieuses, part i.,) and the whole is since published in a splendid edition by Pere Montfaucon, (Nova Collectio Patrum, Paris, 1707, 2 vols. in fol., tom. ii. p. 113--346.) But the editor, a theologian, might blush at not discovering the Nestorian heresy of Cosmas, which has been detected

by La Croz (Christianisme des Indes, tom. i. p. 40--56.)]

IV. The subjects of Justinian were dissatisfied with the times, and with the government. Europe was overrun by the Barbarians, and Asia by the monks: the poverty of the West discouraged the trade and manufactures of the East: the produce of labor was consumed by the unprofitable servants of the church, the state, and the army; and a rapid decrease was felt in the fixed and circulating capitals which constitute the national wealth. The public distress had been alleviated by the economy of Anastasius, and that prudent emperor accumulated an immense treasure, while he delivered his people from the most odious or oppressive taxes. [7711] Their gratitude universally applauded the abolition of the gold of affliction, a personal tribute on the industry of the poor, [78] but more intolerable, as it should seem, in the form than in the substance, since the flourishing city of Edessa paid only one hundred and forty pounds of gold, which was collected in four years from ten thousand artificers. [79] Yet such was the parsimony which supported this liberal disposition, that, in a reign of twenty-seven years, Anastasius saved, from his annual revenue, the enormous sum of thirteen millions sterling, or three hundred and twenty thousand pounds of gold. [80] His example was neglected, and his treasure was abused, by the nephew of Justin. The riches of Justinian were speedily exhausted by alms and buildings, by ambitious wars, and ignominious treaties. His revenues were found inadequate to his expenses. Every art was tried to extort from the people the gold and silver which he scattered with a lavish hand from Persia to France: [81] his reign was marked by the vicissitudes or rather by the combat, of rapaciousness and avarice, of splendor and poverty; he lived with the reputation of hidden treasures, [82] and bequeathed to his successor the payment of his debts. [83] Such a character has been justly accused by the voice of the people and of posterity: but public discontent is credulous; private malice is bold; and a lover of truth will peruse with a suspicious eye the instructive anecdotes of Procopius. The secret historian represents only the vices of Justinian, and those vices are darkened by his malevolent pencil. Ambiguous actions are imputed to the worst motives; error is confounded with guilt, accident with design, and laws with abuses; the partial injustice of a moment is dexterously applied as the general maxim of a reign of thirty-two years; the emperor alone is made responsible for the faults of his officers, the disorders of the times, and the corruption of his subjects; and even the calamities of nature, plagues, earthquakes, and inundations, are imputed to the prince of the daemons, who had mischievously assumed the form of Justinian. [84]


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