contraction was found should be held of no authority, and that the transcriber should be purished for forgery. All other laws are declared to be abrogated, and are even forbidden to be cited in the tribunals; and the judges are ordered to conform in all things to the Digest from the day of the date of the edict. The emperor enjoins the three prætorian præfects to publish the Digest in their several governments, and concludes by stating that he was anxious to have this meritorious revolution effected during his third consulate, in order that a year, which heaven had blessed by a peace with Persia, and the conquest of Africa, should witness the completion of this great edifice of the laws, as a holy and august temple, in which justice should pronounce her oracles.

While the commissioners labored at the Digest, the emperor charged Tribonian, and two eminent professors, to prepare an elementary work on jurisprudence, in four books, as an introduction to the study of law. This portion of Justinian's legislation is far the most valuable part; it was finished and published a little before the Digest, and was named the Institutes.

The whole system of ancient jurisprudence was thus simplified, reduced to its essentials, and arranged in the Institutes, the Pandects, and the Code. But, after their publication, Justinian published more than two hundred supplementary edicts; and when the great collections began to be used in the courts, several errors and imperfections were discovered as might reasonably be expected in a work of such magnitude, executed with such unnecessary speed. A new commission was appointed to revise the Code; the result of its labors was a second edition, which received the imperial sanction, November 16, 534, by an edict abrogating the former imperfect Code.

The emperor reserved to himself, in express terms, the right of adding, at a subsequent time, but separately, such constitutions as he should judge necessary. These were called Novels; they limit, extend, and in some instances repeal the Code; and it is this inconsistency that has led to the suspicion of Tribonian and the prince having occasionally been guided by interest and favor, rather than by reason and equity. These Novels are one hundred and sixty-eight in number, but only ninety-eight have the force of law, having been collected into a volume in the last year of Justinian's reign.

This code was supplanted in the east by the Basilica or Greek constitutions of later emperors. In the west, Illyria was the only province by which it was received, until the overthrow of the Gothic monarchy afforded an opportunity for its introduction into Italy. The Code, way however, superseded by the laws of the Lombards, when their hordes became master of Ravenna. After Charlemagne had overthrown the Lombard monarchy, he searched Italy in vain for a copy of Justinian's legislation ; it remained concealed until the twelfth century, when a copy of the Digest was found on the capture of Amalfi by the troops of the emperor Lothaire II., and presented by him to the citizens of Pisa, who had aided the imperialists in this expedition. At a later pe. riod, a copy of the Code was discovered at Ravenna, and a collection was made of the Novels which were dispersed throughout Italy. Such were the origin and revolutions of this celebrated body of legislation, the source of the civil law throughout Europe, and the great guide to the most civilized nations in supplying the defects of their several legal systems.

SECTION IV.-History of the Silk Trade.--Introduction of the Silkworm into

Europe. Silk was known as an article of commerce, and extensively used in the western world long before the insect that produces this precious substance, and whose nature was unknown, was brought for the first time to Constantinople. No one before the age of Justinian had even contemplated such an enterprise. It was only by long and painful journeys through the dangerous and difficult wilds of central Asia, that à merchandise could be procured, which the progress of wealth and luxury rendered almost indispensable to the civilized nations of Europe, Asia, and Africa, that surrounded the Mediterranean. The Assyrians and Medes, in the early ages, had long a monopoly of this commerce, and hence we find that garments of wrought silk are usually called Median robes by the ancient writers. In this traffic they were succeeded by the Persians, who attached great importance to the trade, and neglecting nothing that could keep it exclusively in their hands. From them the Greek and Syrian merchants of Asia purchased the silk which they transported into the western countries. Passing through such a number of hands, it was of course scarce and dear. During Justinian's reign, the Byzantines, or, as they still called themselves, the Romans, were eager to free themselves from their dependance on the Persians for the supply of this article. They tried to lower the price by purchasing from other Asiatic nations, and by making exertions to open a direct communication with the country in which the silk is produced. Their ignorance of geography was a great impediment to their success; they had very vague notions respecting the position of the regions where this desirable commodity was procured." They contented themselves with loosely describing it as part of India, or some very remote country in eastern Asia.

A few modern writers have been misled by the inaccuracy of the Byzantine historians into the belief that the country which supplied the ancient world with silk was the Punjab, and the districts of northern India adjacent to Persia, regions where silk has never yet been produced in sufficient abundance to form an article of commerce. On the contrary, the circumstances related respecting Serica, the silkgrowing country, are manifestly applicable to no place but China, where silk is still produced more plentifully than in any other part of the world. Indeed the very name Seres appears to have been derived frorn this commodity ; for Se, or, as it is pronounced in the provincial dialects, Sēr, is the Chinese name for the silkworm. We also find che Sinæ identified with the Seres by the ancient geographers, and we know that Sín, or Chín, has been always the name given to China by the nations of western Asia. In the preceding pages mention has been made of the embassy sent from the Romans to the Chinese, in the age of the Antonines; and it is only necessary to add, in proof of the commercial relations between this ancient empire and the westera world, that a tolerably accurate account of the revolutions in the Persian and Parthian kingdoms may be found in Chinese histories.*

The silk was imported from China in packages, which caravans of merchants brought across the extreme breadth of Asia, in a journey of two hundred and forty-three days, to the seacoast of Syria. The Persians who supplied the Romans, usually made their purchases from the Sogdians, on the banks of the Oxus, and their traffic was liable to be interrupted by the White Huns and the Turks, who successively conquered that industrious people. But the difficulties of the road between the Sogdian capital, Maracanda (Samarcand), and the first Chinese city in the province of Shensí, led to frequent efforts for opening a new and less perilous route, which, however, proved unsuccessful. From the time they passed the Jaxartes, the enterprising Sogdians had to contend, not only with the dangers and difficulties of the intervening deserts, but also against the wandering hordes, who have always considered the citizen and traveller as objects of lawful rapine.

It is recorded as a proof of the vast expense of the magnificent spectacles with which Julius Cæsar sought at once to dazzle and conciliate the populace, that he decorated the actors in his varied pageants with a profusion of silk dresses, which were viewed by the Italians with equal wonder and admiration. In consequence of the difficulties of transit, the vast length of desert which the caravans had to traverse and, probably, the limited supply of silk in China itself, this article bore a very high price in Rome, and was often sold for its weight in gold Silken dresses were esteemed too expensive and delicate for men, and were appropriated wholly to ladies of eminent rank and opulence. In the beginning of the reign of Tiberius, a law was passed enacting, that “no man should disgrace himself by wearing a silk dress.” This might, however, have been a religious as well as a sumptuary ordinance, for it is a singular circumstance in the history of silk, that, on account of its being the excretion of a worm, several religious bodies in the East, but more especially the Mohammedans, consider it an unclean dress. Indeed, it has been decided by the unanimous consent of all the Sonnite doctors, that a person wearing a garment made entirely of silk, can not offer up the daily prayers enjoined by the Koran.

The profligate and effeminate Heliogabalus was the first of the Roman emperors who wore a garment entirely of silk; and, in consequence of his example, the custom of wearing silk soon became general among the wealthy citizens of Rome, and even extended to the provin

It seems probable, also, that the price of the article had diminished in consequence of its beginning to be imported by the maritime route through Alexandria, instead of by caravans through the arid deserts of Tartary and Turkestan. Chinese histories inform us, that an

* The Armenians call the Chinese Jenk, and China Jenistán. Their relations with this country ascend to the beginning of the third century of our era. About that time a Chinese colony was established in Armenia. The chief of this colony was probably one of the imperial dynasty of the Huns: driven from his country by civil wars, he at first sought refuge at the court of Ardeshir, the founder of the Sassanid dynasty in Persia, thence he passed into Persia, where he was received about A. D. 260, by Tiridates, the Armenian sovereign, who gave him the prov. ince of Jaron. This personage, whose name was Mamkon, became the founder of the family of the Memigonians, who are justly celebrated in Armenian history,


ambassador from one of the Antonines came to their remote country for the purpose of concluding a commercial treaty, and this is rendered highly probable by the fact that oriental commodities became both plentiful and cheap under and after their dynasty. Ammianus Marcellinus informs us, that in his age (A. D. 370) silk was generally worn even by the lower classes.

After the restoration of a native dynasty in Persia under the Sassanides, and the establishment of the eastern empire at Constantinople, a long series of wars ensued between the Persian sovereigns, who deemed themselves legitimate inheritors of the power of Cyrus, and the Byzantine emperors, who wished themselves to be considered successors of Alexander the Great. The command of the sea of Oman gave the Persians a decided advantage over the Egyptian merchants, who were forced to import oriental commodities by the tedious and dangerous navigation of the Red sea. Until the introduction of steam navigation, the Red sea, or Yam Suph,* as it is called by the Orientals, was universally dreaded by voyagers. The strait at its entrance was significantly named by the Arabs Bab-el-Mandeb, or, " the gate of tears ;" and it was a common proverb with eastern sailors, “ Yam Suph is a double-locked sea; there are six months in the year that you can not get into it, and six more that you can not get out of it.” But the Persians were not satisfied with this natural superiority ; having it in their power to molest or cut off the caravans, which, in order to procure a supply for the Greek empire, travelled by land to China through the northern provinces of their kingdom, they laid such onerous transit duties on foreign merchants, that the Greeks were forced to abandon this branch of commerce, and purchase their silk from the Persians and Sogdians. These, with the usual rapacity of monopolists, raised the price of silk to such an exorbitant height, that the Greek manufacturers, whose looms depended on a supply of this raw material, were thrown out of employment and nearly ruined.

The Emperor Justinian, eager, not only to obtain a full and certain supply of a commodity which was become of indispensable use, but solicitous to deliver the commerce of his subjects from the exactions of his enemies, endeavored, by means of his ally the Christian monarch of Abyssinia, to wrest some por.ion of the silk trade from the Persians In this attempt he failed; but when he least expected it, he, by an unforeseen event, attained his great object of procuring his subjects an abundant supply of silk, independent both of ships and caravans.

Two Persian monks having been employed as Christian missionaries by some of the churches which had been established in India, pursued their evangelical labors until they had penetrated into the remote country of the Seres, or Chinese (A. D. 551). There they observed the labors of the silkworm, the mode in which these animals were fed on the mulberry-leaf; the care bestowed upon them in the several periods of insect transformation, and the attention necessary to obtaining perfect

Without such knowledge, the mere possession of the insects would have been useless ; for the time that elapses while the silkcaterpillar is undergoing its changes varies according to the tempora. ure and the quantity of nourishment with which it is supplied the health also of the insect and the subsequent perfection of the silk de. pends upon the mode in which these changes are made, and the intervals between the successive moultings of the skin, which take place before the animal attains its full growth. The Chinese calculate tha the same number of insects which would, if they had attained the full size in twenty-three or twenty-four days, produce twenty-five ounces of silk, would produce only twenty ounces if their growth occupied twenty-eight days, and only ten ounces if forty days. In order, therefore, to accelerate their growth, they supply the insects with fresh food every half hour during the first day of their existence, and then gradually reduce the number of meals as the worms grow older. It deserves to be remarked as an unnoticed fact in natural theology, that the substance on which this valuable caterpillar feeds, is the leaf of the mulberry-tree; and Providence, as if to ensure the continuance of this useful species, has so ordained it, that no other insect will partake of the same food ; thus ensuring a certain supply for the little spinster.

* That is, “ the Sea of Weeds."


Having made themselves acquainted with these particulars, the monks repaired to Constantinople, and revealed the information they had acquired to the Emperor Justinian. Encouraged by the liberal promises of that monarch, they undertook to bring to his capital a sufficient number of those wonderful insects to whose labors man is so much indebted. They proceeded to China, and finally accomplished the object of their mission by obtaining a competent supply of the eggs of the silkworm, which they concealed in a hollow cane. Having returned safe to Constantinople, the eggs were, under their direction, hatched by the artificial heat of a dunghill, and the insects were fed on the leaves of the wild mulberry-tree. Such care was bestowed upon them, that they soon multiplied, and worked in the same manner as in those climates where they first became the objects of human attention and care.

Justinian at first attempted to monopolize this source of profit, but the rapid increase of the worms opened the trade. A singular circumstance enables us to appreciate the speedy success of the Greeks in the manufacture of silk. Before the sixth century closed, the Turks, descending from the Altaian mountains, conquered Sogdiana. The conquered people had found the demand for silk rapidly diminishing, which they attributed to the commercial jealousy of the Persians. They complained of their losses to their new master, the Turkish khakan, who sent ambassadors to form a commercial treaty with the Persian monarch, the celebrated Nushirván. It was obviously unwise policy to strengthen the power of the new state which had been formed beyond the Oxus ; and Nushirvan was, besides, eager to open a direct communication with China, through the Persian gulf. To show his contempt for the offers of the Sogdians, he purchased up all their goods, and committed them to the flames. The khakan next sent ambassadors to Justinian II., who, after a toilsome journey, reached Constantinople (A. D. 571), just twenty years after the introduction of the silkworm; when, to their great astonishment, they found the Byzantines in the possession of silk of their own growth, and so skilled in its use, that their manufactures already rivalled those of China. From this time the Sogdian carrying trade declined; it was totally annihilated about the middle of the ninth century, when a fanatic insurgent, in China, murdered the foreign mer

« ElőzőTovább »