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equal degree of ferocity. The hopes or fears of the Barbarians; their intestine union or discord; the accident of a frozen or shallow stream; the prospect of harvest or vintage; the prosperity or distress of the Romans, were the causes which produced the uniform repetition of annual visits, tedious in the narrative and destructive in the event.' The year 539 was marked by an invasion of the Huns or Bulgarians, so dreadful, that it almost effaced the memory of their past inroads. They spread from the suburbs of Constantinople to the Ionian gulph, destroyed 32 cities or castles,-and repassed the Danube, dragging at their horses heels 120,000 of the subjects of Justinian. In a subsequent inroad they pierced the wall of the Thracian Chersonesus, extirpated the habitations and the inhabitants, -and returned to their companions, laden with the spoils of Asia.' And Procopius has confidently affirmed, that, in a reign of 32 years, each annual inroad of the Barbarians consumed 200,000 of the inhabitants of the Roman empire. The entire population of Turkish Europe, which nearly corresponds with the provinces of Justinian, would perhaps be incapable of supplying six millions of persons, the result of this incredible estimate 32"

Justinian recovered Italy from the Goths, and Africa from the Vandals; but the recovery of lost provinces was sometimes as destructive to agriculture and to mankind, as the original irruptions of the Barbarians. 'From his new acquisitions, Justinian expected that his avarice, as well as pride, should be richly gratified.' In consequence the most dreadful rebellions agitated Africa. For the troubles of Africa, I neither have nor desire another guide than Procopius, whose eye contemplated the image, and whose ear collected the reports, of the memorable events of his own times.' He has confidently affirmed, that five millions of Africans were consumed by the wars and government of the emperor Justinian. The series of the African

32 Vol. VII. p. 282, 284.

history attests this melancholy truth33. After the recovery of Italy, Justinian might dictate benevolent edicts, and Narses might second his wishes by the restoration of cities. But the power of kings is most effectual to destroy: and the twenty years of the Gothic war had consummated the distress and depopulation of Italy. As early as the fourth campaign, under the discipline of Belisarius himself, 50,000 laborers died of hunger in the narrow region of Misenum. A still greater number was consumed by famine in the southern provinces, without the Ionian gulph. Acorns were used in the place of bread. Procopius had seen a deserted orphan suckled by a she-goat. Seventeen passengers were lodged, murdered, and eaten, by two women, who were detected and slain by the eighteenth.-A strict examination of the evidence of Procopius would swell the loss of Italy above the total sum of her present inhabitants34.


In the year 542 a terrible plague arose, which raged with such fury, that many cities of the East were left vacant, and in several districts of Italy the harvest and the vintage withered on the ground. The triple scourge of war, pestilence, and famine, afflicted the subjects of Justinian, and his reign is disgraced by a visible decrease of the human species, which has never been repaired in some of the fairest countries of the globe"."


Such was the reign of Justinian. Whether husbandry was likely to revive, and plenty to return, during the administration of his feebler successor, the following passage respecting that prince will ascertain. The annals of the second Justin are marked with disgrace abroad and misery at home. In the West, the Roman empire was afflicted by the loss of Italy, the desolation of Africa, and the conquests of the Persians. Injustice prevailed both in the capital and the provinces; the rich trembled for their property, the poor for their safety.' Italy, however, omitted not to ap

33 Vol. VII. p. 346, 347, 353. Africa was invaded by the army of Jus tinian in the year 533.

34 Vol. VII. p. 400.

35 Vol. VII. p. 423.

ply to the emperors for relief. From this country, indeed, they were incessantly tormented by tales of misery and demands of succor;' and the language of Rome was, "If you are incapable of delivering us from the sword of the Lombards, save us at least from the calamity of famine.” Though the depopulation of the capital of Italy was constant and visible, yet the number of citizens still exceeded the measure of subsistence; their precarious food was supplied from the harvests of Sicily or Egypt; and the frequent repetition of famine betrays the inattention of the emperor to a distant province 36.


The new circumstances of degradation and depression, into which a considerable part of mankind were thrown, gave a severe check to the ardor of industry. Hence the operations of agriculture became more languid; its produce more scanty and uncertain. According to the maxims of ancient war, the conqueror became the lawful master of the enemy whom he had subdued and spared: and the fruitful cause of personal slavery, which had been almost suppressed by the peaceful sovereignty of Rome, was again revived and multiplied by the perpetual hostilities of the independent Barbarians. The Goth, the Burgundian, or the Frank, who returned from a successful expedition, dragged after him a long train of sheep, of oxen, and of human captives, whom he treated with the same brutal contempt."

Whether the expeditions of the Barbarians succeeded or miscarried, they were almost equally ruinous to the peaceful labors of the husbandman. To illustrate their nature and effects, a short account shall be given of the invasion of Languedoc in the year 586 by the army of the king of Burgundy. The troops of Burgundy, Berry, Auvergne, and the adjacent territories, were excited by the hopes of spoil. They marched, without discipline, under the banners of German, or Gallic, counts; their attack was feeble and unsuccessful; but the friendly and hostile provinces were desolated with indiscriminate rage. The corn-fields, the villages,

36 Vol. VIII. p. 133, 142, 159. VOL. II

37 Vol. VI. p. 359.

the churches themselves, were consumed by fire; the inhabitants were massacred or dragged into captivity; and, in the disorderly retreat, 5000 of these inhuman savages were destroyed by hunger or intestine discord3.'


Often exposed to a siege or to a blockade, cities frequently became the theatres of the most dreadful famines. Some facts attendant on some of the sieges of Rome will illustrate the assertion. When environed by the army of Alaric, it experienced the horrid calamities of famine,' at a time when it may fairly be supposed to have contained twelve hundred thousand inhabitants. The daily allowance of three pounds of bread was reduced to one-half, to one-third, to nothing; and the price of corn still continued to rise in a rapid and extravagant proportion. The food the most repugnant to sense and imagination, the aliments the most unwholesome and pernicious to the constitution, were eagerly devoured, and fiercely disputed, by the rage of hunger. Even mothers are said to have tasted the flesh of their slaughtered infants. Many thousands of the inhabitants of Rome expired in their houses, or in the streets, for want of sustenance. And the miseries of famine were succeeded and aggravated by a pestilential disease.' This was in the year 408. In the year 472, the principal part of Rome, which lay on the Tuscan side of the Tyber, was besieged by Ricimer; and the public distress was prolonged by a resistance of three months, which produced the concomitant evils of famine and pestilence.' In the year 537, the metropolis of the Western empire was besieged by 150,000 Goths; and, as the siege continued more than a year, the people, notwithstanding the harvests of Campania and Tuscany had been,' forcibly swept for the use of the city,—was exposed to the miseries of scarcity, unwholesome food and contagious disorders.' But if any credit be due to an intelligent spectator, one third at least of' the Gothic 'host was destroyed, in frequent and bloody combats under the walls of the city. The bad fame and pernicious quali


38 Vol. VI. p. 374.

ties of the summer air might already be imputed to the decay of agriculture and population; and the evils of famine and pestilence were aggravated by their own licentiousness, and the unfriendly disposition of the country.' Only nine years after this, Rome was again besieged by the Goths, under the command of Totila, and was destined to sustain still severer sufferings. The medimnus, or fifth part of the quarter of wheat, was exchanged for 7 pieces of gold; 50 pieces were given for an ox, a rare and accidental prize;' and the progress of famine enhanced this exorbitant value.-A tasteless and unwholesome mixture, in which the bran thrice exceeded the quantity of flour, appeased the hunger of the poor: they were gradually reduced to feed on dead horses, dogs, cats, and mice, and eagerly to snatch the grass, and even the nettles, which grew among the ruins of the city'


That the scarcity of corn, wine, and oil, as well as of other provisions, must have been great, must have been general, must have been permanent in the Roman empire, at a period when the devastations of the Northern nations were thus violent, thus extensive, and thus frequently repeated, can be doubted by no man, who is acquainted with the nature and operations of agriculture, or with the circumstances that encourage a freedom of commercial intercourse, or who is accustomed to trace the connexion between cause and effect.

After having so long detained the reader in the contemplation of history, I shall dismiss the observations on the third seal by noticing an objection, which may not improbably be urged against the alleged interpretation of it. Though probably it will be readily admitted, that the countries constituting the Roman empire were, between the reign of Constantine and the commencement of the seventh century, in a peculiar degree the theatres of conquests and devastations, and that no other period of history, of the same length, can by any means be found, in which this was

39 Vol. V. p. 291; vol. VI. p. 217; vol. VII. p. 235, 237, 243, 263.

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