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This affertion, however formidable it may feem, is founded on the original registers of births, deaths, and marriages, collected by public authority, and now depofited in the Contrôle General at Paris. The annual average of births throughout the whole kingdom, taken in five years (from 1770 to 1774, both inclufive) is, 479,649 boys, and 449,269 girls, in all 928,918 children. The province of French Hainault alone furnishes 9906 births: and we are affured, by an actual numeration of the people annually repeated from the year 1773 to the year 1776, that, upon an average, Hainault contains 257,097 inhabitants. By the rules of fair analogy, we might infer, that the ordinary proportion of annual births to the whole people, is about 1 to 26; and that the kingdom of France contains 24,151,868 perfons of both fexes and of every age. If we content ourfelves with the more moderate proportion of 1 to 25, the whole population will amount to 23,222,950. From the diligent refearches of the French government (which are not unworthy of our own imitation), we may hope to obtain a ftill greater degree of certainty on this important fubject.'
The 18th chapter is introduced with the character of Con-" ftantine, and a short account of his family. Our Readers would not eafily forgive us, were we not to lay this part of the Work before them.
The character of the prince who removed the feat of empire, and introduced fuch important changes into the civil and religious conftitution of his country, has fixed the attention, and divided the opinions of mankind. By the grateful zeal of the Chriftians, the deliverer of the church has been decorated with every attribute of hero, and even of a faint; while the discontent of the vanquished party has compared Conftantine to the most abhorred of those ty rants, who, by their vice and weakness, difhonoured the Imperial purple. The fame paffions have in fome degree been perpetuated to fucceeding generations, and the character of Conftantine is confidered, even in the present age, as an object either of fatire or of panegyric. By the impartial union of those defects which are confeffed by his warmest admirers, and of those virtues which are acknowledged by his most implacable enemies, we might hope to delineate a just portrait of that extraordinary man, which the truth and candour of history should adopt without a blush. But it would foon appear, that the vain attempt to blend fuch difcordant colours, and to reconcile fuch inconfiftent qualities, muft produce a figure monftrous rather than human, unless it is viewed in its proper and diftinct lights, by a careful feparation of the different periods of the reign of Conftantine.
The perfon, as well as the mind of Conftantine, had been enriched by nature with her choiceft endowments. His ftature was lofty, his countenance majeftic, his deportment graceful; his ftrength and activity were difplayed in every manly exercife, and from his earliest youth, to a very advanced feafon of life, he preferved the vigour of his conftitution by a frict adherence to the domeftic vir tues of chastity and temperance. He delighted in the focial intercourfe of familiar conversation: and though he might fometimes Indulge his difpofition to raillery with less reserve than was required
by the fevere dignity of his ftation, the courtesy and liberality of his manners gained the hearts of all who approached him. The fin cerity of his friendship has been fufpected; yet he fhewed, on fome occafions, that he was not incapable of a warm and lasting attach ment The difadvantage of an illiterate education had not prevented him from forming a juft eftimate of the value of learning; and the,, arts and fciences derived fome encouragement from the munificent protection of Conflantine. In the dispatch of bufinefs, his diligence was indefatigable; and the active powers of his mind were, almost, continually exercifed in reading, writing, or meditating, in giving audience to ambaffadors, and in examining the complaints of his fubjects. Even thofe who cenfured the propriety of his meafures were compelled to acknowledge, that he poffeffed magnanimity to conceive, and patience to execute, the moft, arduous defigns, without being checked either by the prejudices of education, or by the clamours of the multitude. In the field, he infufed his own intrepid fpirit into the troops, whom he conducted with the talents of a confummate general; and to his abilities, rather than to his fortune, we may afcribe the fignal victories which he obtained over the foreign and domeftic foes of the republic, He loved glory, as the reward, perhaps as the motive, of his labours. The boundlefs ambition, which, from the moment of his accepting the purple at York,. appears as the ruling paffion of his foul, may be juftified by the dangers of his own fituation, by the character of his rivals, by the confcioufnefs of fuperior merit, and by the profpect that his fuccefs would enable him to reftore peace and order to the diftracted empire. In his civil wars againft Maxentius and Licinius, he had engaged on his fide the inclinations of the people, who compared the undif fembled vices of thofe tyrants, with the fpirit of wisdom and justice, which feemed to direct the general tenor of the adminiftration of Conflantine 49.
Had Conftantine fallen on the banks of the Tyber, or even in the plains of Hadrianople, fuch is the character which, with a few exceptions, he might have tranfmitted to pofterity. But the con-> clufion of his reign (according to the moderate and indeed tender fentence of a writer of the fame age) degraded him from the rank which he had acquired among the most deferving of the Roman princes. In the life of Auguftus, we behold the tyrant of the republic, converted,, almost by imperceptible degrees, into the father of his country and of human kind. In that of Conftantine, we may contemplate a hero, who had fo long infpired his fubjects with love, and his enemies with terror, degenerating into a cruel and dif-’ folute monarch, corrupted by his fortune, or raised by conqueft above the neceffity of diffimulation. The general peace which he maintained during the laft fourteen years of his reign, was a period of apparent fplendor rather than of real profperity; and the old age, of Conftantine was difgraced by the oppofite yet reconcileable vices of rapacioufnefs and prodigality. The accumulated treasures found“ in the palaces of Maxentius and Licinius, were lavishly confumed; the various innovations introduced by the conqueror, were attended with an encreafing expence; the cost of his buildings, his court, and his feflivals, required an immediate and plentiful fupply; and the oppreflion
oppreffion of the people was the only fund which could fupp the magnificence of the fovereign. His unworthy favourites, enriched by the boundless liberality of their master, ufurped with impunity the privilege of rapine and corruption. A fecret but univerfal decay was felt in every part of the public adminiftration, and the emperor himfelf, though he fill retained the obedience, gradually lost the efteem of his fubjects. The drefs and manners, which, towards the decline of life, he chose to affect, ferved only to degrade him in the eyes of mankind. The Afiatic pomp, which had been adopted by the pride of Diocletian, affumed an air of foftness and effeminacy in the perfón of Conftantine. He is repre fented with falfe hair of various colours, laboriously arranged by the kilful artists of the times; a diadem of a new and more expenfive fashion; a profufion of gems and pearls, of collars and bracelets, and a variegated flowing robe of filk, moft curiously embroidered with flowers of gold. In fuch apparel, scarcely to be excufed by the youth and folly of Elagabalus, we are at a lofs, to discover the wifdom of Roman veterap. A mind n'aged monarch, and the fimplicity thus relaxed by profperity and indulgence, was incapable of rifing to that magnanimity which difdains fufpicion, and dares to forgive. The deaths of Maximian and Licinius may perhaps be juftified by the maxims of policy, as they are taught in the schools of tyrants but an impartial narrative of the executions, or rather murders, which fullied the declining age of Conftantine, will fuggeft to our most can did thoughts, the the idea of a prince, who could facrifice without reluctance the laws of juftice, and the feelings of nature, to the dictates, either of his paffions or of his intereft,
The fame fortune which fo invariably followed the ftandard of Conftantine, feemed to fecure the hopes and comforts of his do meftic life. Thofe among his predeceffors, who had enjoyed, the longest and most profperous reigns, Auguftus, Trajan, and Diocle tian, had been difappointed of pollerity; and the frequent revolu tions had never allowed fufficient time for any Imperial family to grow up and multiply under the fhade of the purple. But the royalty of the Flavian line, which had been firft ennobled by the Gothic Claudius, defcended through feveral generations;, and Con ffantine himfelf derived from his royal father the hereditary honours which he tranfmitted to his children. The emperor had been twice married. Minervina, the obfcure but lawful object of his youthful, attachment, had left him only one fon, who was called Crifpus, By Faufta, the daughter of Maximian, he had three daughters, and three fons known by the kindred names of Conftantine, Conftantius, and Conftans. The unambitious brothers of the great Conftantine, Julius Conftantius, Dalmatius, and Hannibalianus, were permitted, to enjoy the most honourable rank, and the most affluent fortune, that could be confiftent with a private ftation. The youngest of the three lived without a name, and died without pofterity. His two elder brothers obtained in marriage the daughters of wealthy fena tors, and propagated new branches of the Imperial race. Gallus, and Julian afterwards became the most illuftrious of the children, of Julius Conftantius, the Patrician. The two fons of Dalmatiass who had been decorated with the vain title of Cenfor, were named Dalmau
Dalmatius and Hannibalianus. The two fifters of the great Con ftantine, Anaftafia and Eutropia, were beftowed on Optatus and Nepotianus, two fenators of noble birth and of confular dignity. His third filter, Conftantia, was diftinguished by her pre-eminence of greatness and of mifery. She remained the widow of the vanquished Licinius; and it was by her intreaties, that an innocent boy, the offspring of their marriage, preferved for fome time, his life, the title of Cæfar, and a precarious hope of the fucceffion. Befides the females, and the allies of the Flavian house, ten or twelve males, to whom the language of modern courts would apply the title of princes of the blood, feemed, according to the order of their birth, to be destined either to inherit or to fupport the throne of Conftantine. But in lefs than thirty years, this numerous and encreafing family was reduced to the perfons of Conftantius and Julian, who alone had furvived a series of crimes and calamities, fuch as the tragic poets have deplored in the devoted lines of Pelops and of Cadmus.
He must be a prejudiced reader indeed, who does not allow, that the character of Conftantine is drawn by the hand of a mafter. It is followed by that of Crifpus, which we shall likewife lay before our Readers, together with the account of his difgrace and death, as they throw additional light on the character of Conftantine, and afford fresh proofs of the abilities and merit of the hiftorian.
Crifpus, the eldest fon of Conftantine, and the prefumptive heir of the empire, is reprefented by impartial hiftorians as an amiable and accomplished youth. The care of his education, or at least of his ftudies, was intrufted to Lactantius, the most eloquent of the Chriftians; a preceptor admirably qualified to form the tafte, and to excite the virtues, of his illuftrious difciple. At the age of feventeen, Crifpus was invefted with the title of Cæfar, and the adminiftration of the Gallic provinces, where the inroads of the Germans gave him an early occafion of fignalizing his military prowess. In the civil war which broke out foon afterwards, the father and fon divided their powers; and this hiftory has already celebrated the valour as well as conduct difplayed by the latter, in forcing the freights of the Hellefpont, fo obftinately defended by the fuperior fleet of Licinius. This naval victory contributed to determine the event of the war; and the names of Conftantine and of Crifpus were united in the joyful acclamations of their eastern subjects: who loudly proclaimed, that the world had been fubdued, and was now governed, by an emperor endowed with every virtue; and by his illuftrious fon, a prince beloved of heaven, and the lively image of his father's perfections. The public favour, which feldom ac-companies old-age, diffufed its luftre over the youth of Crifpus. He deferved the esteem, and he engaged the affections, of the court, the army, and the people. The experienced merit of a reigning monarch is acknowledged by his fubjects with reluctance, and frequently denied with partial and difcontented murmurs; while, from the opening virtues of his fucceffor, they fondly conceive the most unbounded hopes of private as well as public felicity.
This dangerous popularity foon excited the attention of Conftantine, who, both as a father and as a king, was impatient of an equal. Inftead of attempting to fecure the allegiance of his fon, by the generous ties of confidence and gratitude, he refolved to prevent the mischiefs which might be apprehended from diffatisfied ambition. Crifpus foon had reafon to complain, that while his infant brother Conftantius was fent, with the title of Cæfar, to reign over his peculiar department of the Gallic provinces, he, a prince of mature years, who had performed fuch recent and fignal services, inftead of being raised to the fuperior rank of Auguftus, was confined almost a prifoner to his father's court; and expofed, without power or defence, to every calumny which the malice of his enemies could fuggeft. Under fuch painful circumftances, the royal youth might not always be able to compofe his behaviour, or fupprefs his discontent; and we may be affured, that he was encompaffed by a train of indifcreet or perfidious followers, who affiduoufly ftudied to inflame, and who were perhaps inftructed to betray, the unguarded warmth of his refentment. An edict of Conftantine, published about this time, manifeftly indicates his real or affected fufpicions, that a fecret confpiracy had been formed against his perfon and government. By all the allurements of honours and rewards, he invites informers of every degree to accufe without exception his magiftrates or minifters, his friends or his moft intimate favourites, protesting, with a folemn affeveration, that he himself will liften to the charge, that he himfelf will revenge his injuries; and concluding with a prayer, which discovers fome apprehenfion of danger, that the providence of the Supreme Being may still continue to protect the fafety of the emperor and of the empire.
The informers, who complied with fo liberal an invitation, were fufficiently verfed in the arts of courts to felect the friends and adherents of Crifpus as the guilty perfons; nor is there any reafon to diftraft the veracity of the emperor, who had promised an ample measure of revenge and punishment. The policy of Conftantine maintained, however, the fame appearances of regard and confidence towards a fon, whom he began to confider as his most irreconcileable enemy, Medals were ftruck with the customary vows for the long and aufpicious reign of the young Cæfar; and as the people, who was not admitted into the fecrets of the palace, flill loved his virtues, and refpected his dignity, a poet who folicits his recal from exile, adores with equal devotion the majesty of the father and that of the fon. The time was now arrived for celebrating the auguft ceremony of the twentieth year of the reign of Conftantine; and the emperor, for that purpose, removed his court from Nicomedia to Rome, where the most fplendid preparations had been made for his reception. Every eye, and every tongue, affected to express their fenfe of the general happiness, and the veil of ceremony and diffimulation was drawn for a while over the darkest designs of revenge and murder. In the midst of the feftival, the unfortunate Crifpus was apprehended by order of the emperor, who laid afide the tenderness of a father, without affuming the equity of a judge. The examination was short and private; and as it was thought decent to conceal the fate of the young prince from the eyes of the Roman people, he was fent under