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stream of time passed, the inspiring hopes of triumph disappeared, but the austerer glory of suffering remained, and with a firm heart he accepted that gift of a severe fate. Confiding in the strength of his genius, he disre-4 garded the clamors of presumptuous ignorance, and, opposing sound military views to the foolish projects so insolently thrust upon him by the ambassador, he conducted his long and arduous retreat with sagacity, intelligence, and fortitude; no insult disturbed, no falsehood deceived him, no remonstrance shook his determination ; fortune frowned without subduing his constancy; death struck, but the spirit of the man remained unbroken when his shattered body scarcely afforded it a habitation. Having 5 done all that was just toward others, he remembered what was due to himself; neither the shock of the mortal blow, nor the lingering hours of acute pain which preceded his dissolution, could quell the pride of his gallant heart, or lower the dignified feeling with which, conscious of merit, he at the last moment asserted his right to the gratitude of the country he had served so truly.
If glory be a distinction, for such a man death is not 6 a leveler!
SIEGE AND CAPTURE OF CONSTANTINOPLE.
A. D. 1453
GIBBON'S “ DECLINE AND FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE.”
The capture of Constantinople by the Ottoman Turks in 1453 and its influence upon the fortunes of literature in Europe have already been referred to. The Greek scholars, driven from Constantinople, took refuge at the court of the Medicis, in Italy, the splendid patrons of classical learning. The results were beneficial, in the highest degree, to the cause of scholarship in Europe. For
the history of the Turks, in addition to the narrative of Gibbon, the student may consult Freeman's “Ottoman Power in the East." For the revival of learning, Hallam, Morley, Green ("History of the English People "), Taine, Mark Pattison's “Life of Casaubon,” Pater, Craik, may be read with decided advantage.
1 AFTER a siege of forty days, the fate of Constantinople could no longer be averted. The diminutive garrison was exhausted by a double attack; the fortifications, which had stood for ages against hostile violence, were dismantled on all sides by the Ottoman cannon; many breaches were opened, and near the gate of St. Romanus four towers had been leveled with the ground. ... During the siege of Constantinople, the words of peace and capitulation had sometimes been pronounced, and several embassies had passed between the camp and the city. 2 The Greek emperor was humbled by adversity, and would
have yielded to any terms compatible with religion and royalty. The Turkish sultan was desirous of sparing the blood of his own soldiers; still more desirous of securing for his own use the Byzantine treasures, and he accomplished a sacred duty in presenting to the gabours the choice of circumcision, of tribute, or of death. The avarice of Mohammed might have been satisfied with an annual sum of one hundred thousand ducats; but his ambition grasped the capital of the East; to the prince he offered a rich equivalent, to the people a free toleration, or a safe departure ; but, after some fruitless treaty, he declared his resolution of finding either a throne or a 3 grave under the walls of Constantinople. A sense of honor and the fear of universal reproach forbade Palæologus to resign the city into the hands of the Ottomans, and he determined to abide the last extremities of war. Several days were employed by the Sultan in the preparations for the assault, and a respite was granted by
his favorite science of astrology, which had fixed on the 29th of May as the fortunate and fatal hour. On the evening of the 27th he issued his final orders, assembled in his presence the military chiefs, and dispersed his heralds through the camp to proclaim the duty and the motives of the perilous enterprise. Fear is the first 4 principle of a despotic government, and his menaces were expressed in the oriental style, that the fugitives and deserters, had they the wings of a bird, should not escape from his inexorable justice. In this holy warfare the Moslems were exhorted to purify their minds with prayer, their bodies with seven ablutions, and to abstain from food till the close of the ensuing day. A crowd of dervishes visited the tents, to instill the desire of martyrdom, and the assurance of spending an immortal youth amid the rivers and gardens of paradise. Yet Mohammed 5 principally trusted to the efficacy of temporal and visible rewards. A double pay was promised to the victorious troops. “The city and the buildings,” said Mohammed, “are mine; but I resign to your valor the captives and the spoil, the treasures of gold and beauty; be rich and be happy. Many are the provinces of my empire; the intrepid soldier who first ascends the walls of Constantinople shall be rewarded with the government of the fairest and most wealthy; and my gratitude shall accumulate his honors and fortunes above the measure of his own hopes.” Such various and potent motives diffused among 6 the Turks a general ardor, regardless of life, and impatient for action. The camp re-echoed with the Moslem shouts of “God is God, there is but one God, and Mohammed is the apostle of God”; and the sea and land, from Galata to the seven towers, were illuminated by the blaze of their nocturnal fires. ... Far different was the state of 7 the Christians, who, with loud and impotent complaints,
deplored the guilt or the punishment of their sins. They accused the obstinacy of the emperor for refusing a timely surrender, anticipated the horrors of their fate, and sighed for the repose and security of Turkish servitude. The noblest of the Greeks and the bravest of the allies were summoned to the palace, to prepare them, on the evening of the 28th, for the duties and dangers of the general 8 assault. The last speech of Palæologus was the funeral oration of the Roman Empire; he promised, he conjured, and he vainly attempted to infuse the hope which was extinguished in his own mind. The example of their prince and the confinement of a siege had armed these warriors with the courage of despair. They wept, they embraced, regardless of their families and fortunes, they devoted their lives, and each commander, departing to his station, maintained all night a vigilant and anxious 9 watch on the rampart. The emperor and some faithful
companions entered the dome of St. Sophia, which in a few hours was to be converted into a mosque, and devoutly received, with tears and prayers, the sacrament of the holy communion. He reposed some moments in the palace, which resounded with cries and lamentations, solicited the pardon of all whom he might have injured, and mounted on horseback to visit the guards and explore the motions of the enemy. The distress and fall of the last Constantine are more glorious than the long
prosperity of the Byzantine Cæsars. 10 In the confusion of darkness an assailant may some
times succeed; but, in this great and general attack, the military judgment and astrological knowledge of Mohammed advised him to expect the morning, the memorable twenty-ninth of May, in the fourteen hundred and fifty-third year of the Christian era. The preceding night had been strenuously employed; the troops,
the cannon, and the fascines, were advanced to the edge of the ditch, which in many parts presented a smooth and level passage to the beach; and his fourscore galleys almost touched, with the prows and their scaling-ladders, the less defensible walls of the harbor. Under pain of death, silence was enjoined; but the physical laws of motion and sound are not obedient to discipline or fear; each individual might suppress his voice and measure his footsteps; but the march and labor of thousands must inevitably produce a strange confusion of dissonant clamors, which reached the ears of the watchmen of the towers. At day-break, without the customary signal of the morn-11 ing gun, the Turks assaulted the city by sea and land; and the similitude of a twined or twisted thread has been applied to the closeness and continuity of their line of attack. The foremost ranks consisted of the refuse of the host, a voluntary crowd who fought without order or command; of the feebleness of age or childhood, of peasants and vagrants, and of all who had joined the camp in the blind hope of plunder and martyrdom. The common impulse drove them onward to the wall; the most audacious to climb were instantly precipitated; and not a dart, not a bullet of the Christians was idly wasted on the accumulated throng. But their strength and ammunition 12 were exhausted in this laborious defense; the ditch was filled with the bodies of the slain; they supported the footsteps of their companions, and of this devoted vanguard the death was more serviceable than the life. Under their respective bashaws and sanjaks, the troops of Anatolia and Romania were successively led to the charge ; their progress was various and doubtful; but, after a conflict of two hours, the Greeks still maintained and improved their advantage, and the voice of the emperor was heard encouraging his soldiers to achieve, by a last effort,