Page:Idalia, by 'Ouida'.djvu/279

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

"But to have done that would have been to attain the Impossible?" he answered her. "Oil and flame, old and new, living and dying, tradition and scepticism, iconoclast and idolater, you cannot unite and harmonise these antagonisms?"

She gave a sign of dissent.

The prophet or the hero unites all antagonisms, because he binds them all to his own genius. The Byzantine empire had none such; the nearest was Julian, but he believed less in himself than in the gods; the nearest after him was Belisarius—the fool of a courtesan!—and he was but a good soldier, he was no teacher, no liberator, no leader for the nations. John Vatices came too late. A man must be his own convert before he can convert others. Zoroaster, Christ, Mahomet, Cromwell, Napoleon, believed intensely in their own missions; hence their influence on the peoples. How can we tell what Byzantium might have become under one mighty hand?—it was torn in pieces among courtesans, and parasites, and Christian fanatics, and Houmousians and Houmoiousians! I haye the blood of the Commneni in me. I thinly of it with shame when I remember what they might have been."

"Yon come from the Roman Emperors?"