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required exactly one other century to carry out and accomplish even its eastern triumph. Dating from the era of the very inaugurating and merely local acts of Constantine, we shall be sufficiently accurate in saying that the corresponding period in the fifth century (namely, from about 404 to 420 A. D.) first witnessed those uproars of ruin in Egypt and Alexandria-fire racing along the old carious timbers, battering-rams thundering against the ancient walls of the most horrid temples which rang so searchingly in the ears of Zosimus, extorting, at every blow, a howl of Pagan sympathy from that ignorant calumniator of Christianity. So far from the fact being, according to the general prejudice, as though Constantine had found himself able to destroy Paganism, and to replace it by Christianity; on the contrary, it was both because he happened to be far too weak, in fact, for such a mighty revolution, and because he knew his own weakness, that he fixed his new capital, as a preliminary caution, upon the Propontis.
There were other motives to this change, and particularly (as we have attempted to show in a separate dissertation) motives of high political economy, suggested by the relative conditions of land and agriculture in Thrace and Asia Minor, by comparison with decaying Italy; but a paramount motive, we are satisfied, and the earliest motive, was the incurable Pagan bigotry of Rome. Paganism for Rome, it ought to have been remembered by historians, was a mere necessity of her Pagan origin. Paganism was the fatal dowry of Rome from her inauguration; not only she had once received a retaining fee on behalf of Paganism, in the mysterious Ancile, sup
posed to have fallen from heaven, but she actually preserved this bribe amongst her rarest jewels. She possessed a palladium, such a national amulet or talisman as many Grecian or Asiatic cities had once possessed a fatal guarantee to the prosperity of the state. Even the Sibylline books, whatever ravages they might be supposed by the intelligent to have sustained in a lapse of centuries, were popularly believed, in the latest period of the Western empire, to exist as so many charters of supremacy. Jupiter himself in Rome had put on a peculiar Roman physiognomy, which associated him with the destinies of the gigantic state. Above all, the solemn augury of the twelve vultures, so memorably passed downwards from the days of Romulus, through generations as yet uncertain of the event, and, therefore, chronologically incapable of participation in any fraud-an augury always explained as promising twelve centuries of supremacy to Rome, from the year 748 or 750 B. C. — coöperated with the endless other Pagan superstitions in anchoring the whole Pantheon to the Capitol and Mount Palatine. So long as Rome had a worldly hope surviving, it was impossible for her to forget the Vestal Virgins, the College of Augurs, or the indispensable office and the indefeasible privileges of the Pontifex Maximus, which (though Cardinal Baronius, in his great work, for many years sought to fight off the evidences for that fact, yet afterwards partially he confessed his error) actually availed-historically and medallically can be demonstrated to have availed- for the temptation of Christian Cæsars into collusive adulteries with heathenism. Here, for instance, came an emperor
that timidly recorded his scruples-feebly protested, but gave way at once as to an ugly necessity. There came another, more deeply religious, or constitutionally more bold, who fought long and strenuously against the compromise. "What! should he, the delegate of God, and the standard-bearer of the true religion, proclaim himself officially head of the false? No; that was too much for his conscience." But the fatal meshes of prescription, of superstitions ancient and gloomy, gathered around him; he heard that he was no perfect Cæsar without this office, and eventually the very same reason which had obliged Augustus not to suppress, but himself to assume, the tribunitian office, namely, that it was a popular mode of leaving democratic organs untouched, whilst he neutralized their democratic functions by absorbing them into his own, availed to overthrow all Christian scruples of conscience, even in the most Christian of the Cæsars, many years after Constantine. The pious Theodosius found himself literally compelled to become a Pagan pontiff. A bon mot* circulating amongst the people warned him that, if he left the cycle of imperial powers incomplete, if he suffered the galvanic battery to remain imperfect in its circuit of links, pretty soon he would tempt treason to show its head, and would even for the present find but an
*"A bon mot."-This was built on the accident that a certain Maximus stood in notorious circumstances of rivalship to the emperor [Theodosius] and the bitterness of the jest took this turn-that if the emperor should persist in declining the office of Pont. Maximus, in that case, "erit Pontifex Maximus ; " that is, Maximus (the secret aspirant) shall be our Pontifex. So the words sounded to those in the secret [ovreToo], whilst to others they seemed to have no meaning at all.
imperfect obedience. Reluctantly therefore the emperor gave way: and perhaps soothed his fretting conscience, by offering to heaven, as a penitential litany, that same petition which Naaman the Syrian offered to the prophet Elijah as a reason for a personal dispensation. Hardly more possible it was that a camel should go through the eye of a needle, than that a Roman senator should forswear those inveterate superstitions with which his own system of aristocracy had been riveted for better and worse. As soon would the Venetian senator, the gloomy "magnifico" of St. Mark, have consented to renounce the annual wedding of his republic with the Adriatic, as the Roman noble, whether senator, or senator elect, or of senatorial descent, would have dissevered his own solitary stem from the great forest of his ancestral order; and this he must have done by doubting the legend of Jupiter Stator, or by withdrawing his allegiance from Jupiter Capitolinus. The Roman people universally became agitated towards the opening of the fifth century after Christ, when their own twelfth century was drawing near to its completion. Rome had now reached the very condition of Dr. Faustus - having originally received a known term of prosperity from some dark power; but at length hearing the hours, one after the other, tolling solemnly from the church-tower, as they exhausted the waning minutes of the very final day marked down in the contract. The more profound was the faith of Rome in the flight of the twelve vultures, once so glorious, now so sad, an augury, the deeper was the depression as the last hour drew near that had been so mysteriously prefigured. The
reckoning, indeed, of chronology was slightly uncertain. The Varronian account varied from others. But these trivial differences might tell as easily against them as for them, and did but strengthen the universal agitation. Alaric, in the opening of the fifth century [about 410]-Attila, near the middle  already seemed prelusive earthquakes running before the final earthquake. And Christianity, during this era of public alarm, was so far from assuming a more winning aspect to Roman eyes, as a religion promising to survive their own, that already, under that character of reversionary triumph, this gracious religion seemed a public insult, and this meek religion a perpetual defiance; pretty much as a king sees with scowling eyes, when revealed to him in some glass of Cornelius Agrippa, the portraits of that mysterious house which is destined to supplant his own.
Now, from this condition of feeling at Rome, it is apparent not only as a fact that Constantine did not overthrow Paganism, but as a possibility that he could not have overthrown it. In the fierce conflict he would probably have been overthrown himself; and, even for so much as he did accomplish, it was well that he attempted it at a distance from Rome. So profoundly, therefore, are the fathers in error, that instead of that instant victory which they ascribe to Christianity, even Constantine's revolution was merely local. Nearly five centuries, in fact, it cost, and not three, to Christianize even the entire Mediterranean empire of Rome; and the premature effort of Constantine ought to be regarded as a mere fluctus decumanus in the continuous advance of the new