Page images
PDF
EPUB

route.

the river Politemus, and passing by the city now named Samarcand,* also situated on that river, proceeded to the frontiers of China, and again returned by the same The Indian and Chinese commodities that were destined for Europe, were transported to the borders of the Caspian, embarked there, and from the opposite shore carried to ports on the Euxine; where being again embarked, they passed through the Bosphorus to Constantinople and other ports in the Levant. In less remote times goods brought from India by sea, were also landed at Bassora, from thence conveyed to Aleppo, and afterwards to Scanderoon and Tripoli.

But the inland commerce between India

* Samarcand, the Maraganda of Strabo and Pliny.The Politemus or Sogda, which flows by it and Bokhara, discharges itself into the Oxus or Gihon beyond Biband in N. Lat. 37° 45'.

At Bokhara there was a rich silver mine; another at a place named Aderbigian; and another at Shiraz; the two former we believe still continue to be wrought, but the latter is said to be at present neglected, the quantity procured being unequal to the charge of working it.

and China, and the dominions of the Greek Emperors, was frequently interrupted, and constantly exposed to the arbitrary exactions of the Persian government. The luxury which prevailed in the Byzantine empire, exceeded, if possible, that mentioned to have been practised at Rome and, at both places, to have been deprived of what served to gratify vanity, or sensual appetite, would have been considered as a misfortune.

Justinian ascended the throne of Constantinople in the year of Christ 527, and Khosroes, surnamed the Great, of the Sassanide race, that of Persia in 531. Justinian found the empire engaged in war with the Persians, from whom in 532 he obtained peace on condition of paying a tribute to Khosroes, and putting him in possession of the passes of Caucasus. A second war broke out between them in 540, and was continued, with the intervention of some short truces, for about twenty years, during which time the commerce through Persia to Constantinople was almost entire

ly suspended. But in the course of this war, an unforeseen event introduced the culture of silk into the Greek Emperor's own dominions. Two Persian Monks employed as Christian missionaries, having penetrated into the country of the Seres, or China, had occasion to observe the labours of the silk-worm, and the progress of fabricating its productions. Too pious to communicate their discoveries to their unbelieving countrymen, in the year 555, they repaired to Constantinople and explained them to the Emperor. They even undertook to bring silk-worms to his capital, which they afterwards accomplished, by secretly conveying the eggs of those insects, in canes hollowed for the purpose. These being afterwards hatched by the heat of dung, and fed with the leaves of the mulberrytree, grew into maturity, and speedily multiplied. Numbers of the insects were reared in different parts of Greece, particularly at Athens, Corinth, and various places in the Peloponnesus. From Greece they were carried into Sicily and Italy, and

subsequently into other countries. In process of time, considerable manufactures of silk were established in different parts of Europe. The importation of wrought silk from the East gradually declined, but owing to the great consumption of that article, as well as on account of the quality, considerable quantities of raw, or unspun silk continue to be brought both from India and China.

In 561 a treaty of peace for fifty years

was

concluded between Justinian and Khosroes, in which some stipulations were made in regard to commerce.

Desirous of avoiding whatever may be foreign to our subject, we are nevertheless led to take notice of some circumstances, which must necessarily have had influence on the intercourse and commerce with India.

Justinian died at Constantinople the 14th of November, 565, in the eighty-third year of his age, and 38th of his reign. He was succeeded by his nephew Justin, whose history is a continued scene of disgrace and

losses abroad, of oppressions and vexations exercised at home. His power was confided to ministers whose conduct caused their master to be despised, and his government detested. In 572 he imprudently, and in violation of the treaty above mentioned, renewed the war with the Persians. Khosroes immediately put himself at the head of his armies, and laid siege to Dara in Mesopotamia; while his general, Adarman, ravaged the country as far as Antioch, and took and reduced to ashes the city of Apamea. Dara, which was considered of high importance to each party for the security of their respective frontiers in that quarter, surrendered after an obstinate defence, and the feeble Justin now trembled for his capital itself. The events of this war, and the discontents that prevailed, induced him to resign his sceptre into abler hands. His only son by his wife Sophia, had died in infancy. Setting aside his own kindred, he chose for his successor a distinguished officer named Tiberius, who commanded the Imperial guards. The ceremonial of abdi

VOL. II.

X

« PreviousContinue »