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favour of his third and most favoured son. so fa- CHA P. mous under the names of Chosroes and Nushirvan, XLII. To render the youth more illustrious in the eyes of the nations, Kobad was desirous that he should be adopted by the emperor Justin: the hope of peace inclined the Byzantine court to accept this singular proposat; and Chosroes might have ac, quired a specious claim to the inheritance of his Roman parent, But the future mischief was diverted by the advice of the quæstor Proclus: a difficulty was started, whether the adoption should be performed as a civil or military rite *; the treaty was abruptly dissolved; and the sense of this indignity sunk deep into the mind of Chosroes, who had already advanced to the Tigris on his road to Constantinople. His father did not long survive the disappointment of his wishes: the testament of their deceased sovereign was read in the assembly of the nobles; and a powerful faction, prepared for the event, and regardless of the pri ority of age, exalted Chosroes to the throne of Persia. He filled that throne during a prosperous period of forty-eight years; and the JUSTICE OF Nushir
Procopius, Persic. 1. i. a. 11. Was not Proclus overwise? Was not the danger imaginary ?-The excuse, at least, was injurious to a nation not ignorant of letters: yeaμuari of βαρβαροι τις παιδας ποιενται αλλ' όπλων σκευη. Whether mode of adoption was practised in Persia, I much doubt.
From Procopius and Agathias, Pagi (tom. ii. p. 543. 626.) has proved that Chosroes Nushirvan ascended the throne in the vth year of Justinian (A. D. 531, April 1-A. D. 532, April 1.). But the true chronology, which harmonizes with the • Greeks and Orientals, is ascertained by John Malala (tom. ii. 211.). Cabades, or Kobad, after a reign of forty-three years
CHAP. Nushirvan is celebrated as the theme of immortal XLII. praise by the nations of the East.
A. D. 338-579.
But the justice of kings is understood by themReign of Nushirvan, selves, and even by their subjects, with an ample indulgence for the gratification of passion and interest. The virtue of Chosroes was that of a conqueror, who, in the measures of peace and war, is excited by ambition and restrained by prudence; who confounds the greatness with the happiness of a nation, and calmy devotes the lives of thousands to the fame, or even the amusement, of a single man. In his domestic administration, the just Nushirvan would merit, in our feelings, the appellation of a tyrant. His two elder brothers had been deprived of their fair expectations of the diadem: their future life, between the supreme rank and the condition of subjects, was anxious to themselves and formidable to their master: fear as well as revenge might tempt them to rebel; the slightest evidence of a conspiracy satisfied the author of their wrongs; and the repose of Chosroes was secured by the death of these unhappy princes, with their families and adherents. One guiltless youth was saved and dismissed by the compassion of a veteran general; and this act of humanity, which was revealed by his son, overbalanced the merit of reducing twelve nations to the obedience of Persia. The zeal and prudence of Mebodes had fixed the diadem on the head of Chosroes himself; but he delayed to attend the royal sum
and two months, sickened the 8th, and died the 13th of September, A. D. 531, aged eighty-two years. According to the annals of Eutychius, Nushirvan reigned forty-seven years and six months; and his death must consequently, be placed in March, A. D. 579.
mons, till he had performed the duties of a mili- CHAP. tary review: he was instantly commanded to XLII. repair to the iron tripod, which stood before the gate of the palace *, where it was death to relieve or approach the victim ; and Mebodes languished several days before his sentence was pro. nounced, by the inflexible pride and calm ingratitude of the son of Kobad. But the people, more especially in the East, is disposed to forgive, and even to applaud, the cruelty which strikes at the loftiest heads; at the slaves of ambition, whose voluntary choise has exposed them to live in the smiles, and to perish by the frown, of a capricious monarch, in the execution of the laws which he had no temptation to violate ; in the punishment of crimes which attacked his own dignity, as well as the happiness of individuals ; Nushirvan, or Chosroes, deserved the appellation of just. His government was firm, rigorous, and impartial. It was the first labour of his reign to abolish the dangerous theory of common or equal possessions; the lands and women which the sectaries of Mazdak had usurped, were restored to their lawful owners; and the temperate chastisement of the fanatics or impostors confirmed the domestic rights of society. Instead of listening with blind confidence to a favourite minister, he established four viziers over the four great provinces of his empire, Assyria, Media, Persia, and Bactriana. In the choice of
* Procopius, Persic 1. i. c. 23. Brisson de Regn. Pers. p. 494. The gate of the palace of Ispahan is, or was, the fatal scene of disgrace or death (Chardin, Voyage en Perse, tom. iv. P. 312, 313.).
CHAP. judges, præfects, and counsellors, he strove to
sence of kings: he wished to substitute the natural
managed, and skilfully dispersed over the arid terri- CHAP. tory of Persia *. The prosperity of that kingdom XLII. was the effect and the evidence of his virtues : his vices are those of Oriental despotism; but in the long competition between Chosroes and Justinian, the advantage both of merit and fortune is almost always on the side of the Barbarian t. To the praise of justice Nushirvan united the His love of
learning reputation of knowledge; and the seven Greek philosophers, who visited his court, were invited and deceived by the strange assurance, that a disciple of Plato was seated on the Persian throne. Did they expect that a prince, strenuously exercised in the toils of war and government, should agitate, with dexterity like their own, the abstruse and profound question which amused the leisure of the schools of Athens ? Could they hope that the precepts of philosophy should direct the life, and con. trol the passions, of a despot, whose infancy had been taught to consider bis absolute and fluctuating
* In Persia, the prince of the waters is an officer of state. The number of wells and subterraneous channels is much diminished, and with it the fertility of the soil : 400 wells have been recently lost near Tauris, and 42,000 were once reckoned in the province of Khorasan (Chardin. tom. iii. p. 99,100. Tavernier, tom. i. p. 416.).
+ The character and government of Nushirvan is represented sometimes in the words of d'Herbelot (Bibliot. Orient. p. 680, &c. from Khondemir), Eutychius Annal. tom. ii. 8. 179, 180.-very ricb), Abulpharagius (Dynast. vii. p. 94, 95.-very poor), Tarikh Shikard (p. 144-150.), Texeira (in Stevens, 1. i. c. 35.), Asseman (Bibliot. Orient. tom. iii. p. 404 -410.), and the Abbè Fourmont (Hist. de l'Acad. des Inscriptions, tom. vii. p. 325-334.), who has translated a spusious or genuine testament of Nushirvan.