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not soot which looks so), was quoited out of the presence with universal indignation ; but in general the greatest harmony prevailed. The guests assembled about seven. Three tables were spread with napery, not so fine as substantial, and at every board a comely hostess presided with her pan of hissing sausages. The nostrils of the young rogues dilated at the savour. James White, as head waiter, had charge of the first table ; and myself with a trusty companion ordinarily ministered to the other two. There was clambering and jostling, you may be sure, who should get at the first table—for Rochester in his best days could not have done the humours of the scene with more spirit than my friend. O, it was a pleasure to see the sable younkers lick in the unctuous meat, with his more unctuous sayings—how he would fit the titbits to the puny mouths, reserving the lengthier links for the seniors—how he would intercept a morsel even in the jaws of some young desperado, declaring it “must to the pan again to be browned, for it was not fit for a gentleman's eating”—how he would recommend this slice of white bread, or that piece of kissing-crust, to a tender juvenile, advising them all to have a care of cracking their teeth, which were their best patrimony,-how genteelly he would deal about the small ale, as if it were wine, naming the brewer, and protesting if it were not good, he should lose their custom ; with a special recommendation to wipe the lip before drinking. Then we had our toasts—which, whether they understood or not, were equally diverting and flattering; and for a crowning sentiment, which never failed—“May the brush supersede the laurel." All these, and fifty other fancies, which were rather felt than comprehended by his guests, would he utter, prefacing every sentiment with a “Gentlemen, give me leave to propose so and so,” which was a prodigious comfort to those young orphans.
James White is extinct, and with him these suppers have long ceased. He carried away with him half the fun of the world when he died—of my world at least. His old clients look for him among the pens; and, missing him, reproach the altered feast of St. Bartholomew, and the glory of Smithfield as departed
Essays of Elia.
THE EMPEROR CONSTANTINE AT THE NICÆAN
AND now the day arrived when the Council of Nicæa was to begin its work in earnest,—the day when they should at last see the great man at whose bidding they were met together, and to whose arrival many looked forward as the chief event of the assembly. The Emperor was on his way to Nicæa, and would be there in a few hours to open the Council in person.
The meetings of the representatives, which had up to this time been in the church, or gymnasium, or in separate localities, were henceforth to be solemnized in the imperial residence itself. Tradition points out the spot, marked out by a few broken columns, at the south-west angle of the walls, close by the shores of the lake. A solitary plane tree grows on the ruins. The chamber prepared for their reception was a large oblong hall, in the centre of the palace, the largest that it contained. Benches were ranged along the walls on each side for those of lower dignity, and seats, or chairs, for those of higher ; along these were ranged the 300 prelates, perhaps with their assistant deacons and presbyters. In the centre of the room, on a seat or throne, was placed a copy of the Holy Gospels, as the nearest approach to the presence of Christ Himself. Every eye was fixed on one small vacant stall or throne, carved in wood, richly gilt, such as was usually occupied by the sovereign at the circus or hippodrome—now placed in the upper end of the hall, between the two ranges of seats. The long-sustained disputations, the eager recriminations, were at last hushed into a deep silence. Not a voice broke the stillness of that expectation which precedes the coming of a long wished-for, unknown spectacle, the onward march of a distant procession. Presently a stir was heard,—first one, then another, and then a third, of the officers of the court dropped in. Then the column widened. But still the wonted array of shields and spears was absent. The heathen guards were not to enter the great Christian assembly, which had, as it were, consecrated the place where it sate. Only those courtiers who were converted to the Christian faith were allowed to herald the approach of their master. At last a signal from without announced that the Emperor was close at hand. The whole assembly rose and stood on their feet; and then for the first time set their admiring
gaze on Constantine the Conqueror, the August, the Great. He entered. His towering stature, his strong-built frame, his broad shoulders, his handsome features, were worthy of his grand position. There was a brightness in his look, and a mingled expression of fierceness and gentleness in his lion-like eye, which well became one who, as Augustus before him, had fancied, and perhaps still fancied, himself to be the favourite of the Sun-god Apollo. The bishops were further struck by the dazzling, perhaps barbaric, magnificence of his dress. Always careful of his appearance, he was so on this occasion in an eminent degree. His long hair, false or real, was crowned with the imperial diadem of pearls. His purple or scarlet robe blazed with precious stones and gold embroidery. He was shod no doubt in the scarlet shoes then confined to the Emperors, now perpetuated in the Pope and Cardinals. Many of the bishops had probably never seen any greater functionary than a remote provincial magistrate ; and gazing at his splendid figure as he passed up the hall between their ranks, remembering too what he had done for their faith and for their Church,—we may well believe that the simple and the worldly both looked upon
him as though he were an angel of God, descended straight from heaven. Yet the awe was not exclusively on their side. However imperfect may have been Constantine's religion, yet there can be little doubt, that, as far as it went, it was devout even to superstition. It was a solemn moment for him to find himself for the first time in the midst of the representatives of the great community, of which he had so recently professed himself a sincere adherent. Whatever sacredness had before in his eyes attached to flamens and augurs, now in a still higher degree he transferred to the venerable men who stood before him, and whose very looks, whose very disfigurements, bore witness to the earnestness and energy of their young. and vigorous faith. The colour rushed to the Emperor's cheeks. We cannot forget how far more innocent and ingenuous was this first imperial blush, than that which became memorable, ages afterwards, in the great council of the Latin Church-the “blush of Sigismund,” observed at Constance, remembered at Worms. It was the genuine expression of Constantine's excitement and emotion. As he advanced up the hall, he cast his eyes down, his steps faltered ; and when he reached the throne allotted to him, he stood motionless, till the bishops beckoned to him to be seated. He then sat down, and they followed his example. As soon
as Constantine and the assembly were seated, his
eastern favourite Eusebius rose from his place, and in metrical prose recited an address to the Emperor, and then a hymn of thanksgiving to the Almighty for the victory over Licinius, of which the anniversary had so lately been celebrated. Eusebius resumed his seat, and again a deep silence prevailed. All eyes were fixed on Constantine. He cast round one of those bright glances of which he was master; and then, after a momentary self-recollection, addressed them in a short speech, exhorting concord and unanimity. It was in Latin,-on so solemn an occasion he would not depart from the imperial language, in which long afterwards the laws even of his new capital were written ; and, therefore, very few of those present could have understood it. But there was a gentleness and a sweetness in his voice which arrested the attention of all; and, as soon as it was concluded, the Imperial interpreter translated it into Greek. It has,
my friends, been the object of my highest wishes to enjoy your company; and having obtained this, I confess my thankfulness to the Supreme King, that in addition to all my other blessings, He has granted to me this greatest of all-I mean, to receive you all assembled together, and to see one common harmonious opinion in all. Let, then, no envious enemy injure our happiness ; and, after the destruction of the impious power of the tyrants by the might of God our Saviour, let not the spirit of evil overwhelm the divine law with blasphemies ; for to me far worse than any war or battle is the civil war of the Church of God ; yes, far more painful than the wars which have raged without. As then, by the assent and co-operation of a higher power, I have gained my victories over my enemies, I thought that nothing remained but to give God thanks, and to rejoice with those who have been delivered by us. But, since I learned of your divisions, contrary to all expectations, I gave that matter my first consideration ; and, praying that this also might be healed through my assistance, I called you all together without delay. I rejoice at the mere sight of your assembly ; but the moment that I shall consider the chief fulfilment of my prayers, will be when I see you all joined together in heart and soul, and determining on one peaceful harmony for all, which it should well become you who are consecrated to God to preach to others. Do not then delay, my friends, do not delay, ministers of God, and good servants of our common Lord and Saviour, to remove all grounds of difference, and to wind up by laws of peace every link of controversy. Thus will you have done what is most pleasing to the God who is over all, and you will render the greatest boon to me, your fellow-servant.”
The council was then formally opened, and the Emperor gave permission to the presidents of the assembly to commence their proceedings.
Eusebius, himself an eye witness, as he enumerates the various characters from various countries, of various age and position, collected in this great council, compares the scene either with the diverse nations assembled at Pentecost, or with a garland of flowers gathered in season, of all manner of colours, woven together as a peace-offering after the tranquillization of the empire. There were present, the learned and the illiterate, courtiers and peasants, old and young-aged bishops on the
verge of the grave—beardless deacons just entering on their office ; and it was an assembly in which the difference between age and youth was of more than ordinary significance ; for it coincided with a marked transition in the history of the world. The new generation had been brought up in peace and quiet. They could just remember the joy diffused through the Christian communities by the edict of toleration published in their boyhood ; but they had themselves suffered nothing. Not so the older, and by far the larger part of the assembly. They had lived through the last and worst of the persecutions, and they now came like a regiment out of some frightful siege or battle, decimated and mutilated by the tortures or the hardships they had undergone. There must have been some of the aged inhabitants of Nicæa, who remembered the death of the two martyrs, Tryphon and Respicius, who, in the reign of Decius, had been dragged through the streets of the city, bleeding from their wounds, in the depth of winter. There must have been some who retained from their grandfathers, the recollection of that still earlier and · more celebrated persecution in Bithynia, recorded by Pliny in his letters to Trajan. Most of the older members must have lost a friend or a brother. Many still bore the marks of their sufferings. Some uncovered their sides and backs to show the wounds inflicted by the instruments of torture. On others were the traces of that peculiar cruelty which distinguished the last persecution, the loss of a right eye, or the searing of the sinews of the leg, to prevent their escape from working in the mines. Both at the time and afterwards, it was on their character as an army of confessors and