Mackintosh wants one grand quality for the jury,—he speaks like one who thinks more of his argument than of his audience; he forgets the faces before him, and is evidently poring over the images within. Though with a visage of the colour, and seemingly of the texture of granite, he blushes at a misplaced word, and is evidently sensitive to the error of a comma. No man ever spoke with effect who cannot hesitate without being overwhelmed, blunder without a blush, or be bewildered by his own impetuosity, without turning back to retrace. En avant is the precept for the orator, as much as it is the principle of the soldier. Mackintosh has to learn these things; but he has a full mind, a classic tongue, and a subtle imagination, and these constitute the one thing needful for the orator, comprehend all, and complete all.
* * * * *
The late Lord Orford, the relative of the well-known Horace Walpole, is one of the curious evidences that every man who takes it into his head to be conspicuous, right or wrong, may make for himself a name. Lord Orford, while his relative was writing all kinds of brilliant things, collecting antiquities, worshipping the genius of cracked china, and bowing down before fardingales and topknots of the time of Francis I., in the Temple of Strawberry Hill, was forming a niche for his fame in his dog-kennel, and immortalizing himself by the help of his hounds. Next to Actaeon, he was the greatest dog-fancier that the world has ever seen, and would have rivalled Endymion, if Diana was to be won by the fleetest of quadrupeds. He was boundless in his profusion in respect of his favourite animals, until at last, finding that his ideas of perfection could not be realized by any living greyhounds, he speculated on the race unborn, and crossed his dogs until, after seven summers, he brought them to unrivalled excellence. He had at various times fifty brace of greyhounds, quartering them over every part of his county Norfolk, of which he was lord-lieutenant, probably for the sake of trying the effect of air and locality.
One of his lordship's conceptions was, that of training animals to purposes that nature never designed them for; and, if lions had been accessible in this country, he would probably have put a snaffle into the mouth of the forest king, and have trained him for hunting, unless his lordship had been devoured in the experiment. But his most notorious attempt of this order, was a four-in-hand of stags. Having obtained four red deer of strong make, he harnessed them, and by dint of the infinite diligence which he exerted on all such occasions; was at length enabled to drive his four antlered coursers along the high-road. But on one unfortunate day, as he was driving to Newmarket, a pack of hounds, in full cry after fox or hare, crossing the road, got scent of the track. Finding more attractive metal, they left the chase, and followed the stags in full cry. The animals now became irrestrainable, dashed along at full speed, and carried the phaeton and his lordship in it, to his great alarm, along the road, at the rate of thirty miles an hour. Luckily they did not take their way across the country, or their driver's neck must have been broken. The scene was now particularly animating; the hounds were still heard in full cry; no power could stop the frightened stags; his lordship exerted all his charioteering skill in vain. Luckily, he had been in the habit of driving to Newmarket. The stags rushed into the town, to the astonishment of every body, and darted into the inn yard. Here the gates were shut, and scarcely too soon, for in a minute or two after the whole dogs of the hunt came rushing into the town, and roaring for their prey. This escape seems to have cured his lordship of stag-driving; but his passion for coursing grew only more active, and the bitterest day of the year, he was seen mounted on his piebald pony, and, in his love of the sport, apparently insensible to the severities of the weather; while the hardiest of his followers shrank, he was always seen, without great-coat or gloves, with his little three-cocked hat facing the storm, and evidently insensible to every thing but the performances of his hounds.
His lordship was perhaps the first man who was ever made mad by country sports, though many a man has been made a beggar by them; and none but fools will waste their time on them. His lordship at length became unquestionably mad, and was put under restraint. At length, while still in confinement, and in a second access of his disorder, having ascertained, by some means or other, that one of his favourite greyhounds was to run a match for a large sum, he determined to be present at the performance. Contriving to send his attendant from the room, he jumped out of the window, saddled his piebald pony with his own hands, all the grooms having gone to the field, and there being no one to obstruct him, and suddenly made his appearance on the course, to universal astonishment. In spite of all entreaties, he was determined to follow the dogs, and galloped after them. In the height of the pursuit, he was flung from his pony, fell on his head; and instantly expired.
* * * * *
The fluctuations of the public mind on the subject of the peace, have lately influenced the stock market to a considerable degree. The insolence of the First Consul to our ambassador, Lord Whitworth, naturally produces an expectation of war. Early this morning, a man, calling himself a messenger from the Foreign Office, delivered a letter at the Mansion-house, and which he said had been sent from Lord Hawkesbury, and which was to be given to his lordship without delay. The letter was in these words:—"Lord Hawkesbury presents his compliments to the Lord Mayor, and has the honour to acquaint his lordship, that the negotiation between this country and the French republic is brought to an amicable conclusion. Signed, Downing Street, eight o'clock, May 5, 1803."
The Lord Mayor, with a precipitancy that argued but little for the prudence of the chief magistrate, had this letter posted up in front of the Mansion-house. The effect on the Stock Exchange was immediate; and consols rose eight per cent, from 63 to 71. The delusion, however, was brief; and the intelligence of the rise had no sooner reached Downing Street in its turn, than a messenger was dispatched to undeceive the city, and the city-marshal was employed to read the contradiction in the streets. The confusion in the Stock Exchange was now excessive; but the committee adopted the only remedy in their power. They ordered the Stock Exchange to be shut, and came to a resolution, that all bargains made in the morning should be null and void. Immediately after, another attempt of the same kind was made; and the Lord Mayor was requested by the people of the Stock Exchange to inquire into its reality from the government. The inquiry was answered by Mr Addington, of course denying it altogether, and finishing with this rebuke to civic credulity:—"I feel it my duty distinctly to caution your lordship against receiving impressions of the description alluded to, through any unauthorized channel of information." The funds immediately fell to 63 once more.
And yet it remains a delicate question, whether any committee can have the power of declaring the bargains null and void. Of course, where the inventors of the fraud have been parties, they have no right to gain by their own fraud; but where individuals, wholly unacquainted with the fraud, have gained, there seems no reason why a bona fide transaction should not stand.
* * * * *
The question of war is decided. On the 17th of May, an Order in Council, dated yesterday, has appeared in the Gazette, directing general reprisals against the ships, goods, and subjects of the French Republic. The peace, which rather deserves the name of a suspension of arms, or still more, the name of a prodigious act of credulity on the part of well-meaning John Bull, and an act of desperate knavery on the part of the First Consul and his accomplices, has lasted exactly one year and sixteen days,—England having occupied the time in disbanding her troops and dismantling her fleets; and France being not less busy in seizing on Italian provinces, strengthening her defences, and making universal preparations for war. Yet the spirit of England, though averse to hostilities in general, is probably more prepared at this moment for a resolute and persevering struggle than ever. The nation is now convinced of two things: first, that it is unassailable by France—a conviction which it has acquired during ten years of war; and next, that peace with France, under its present government, is impossible. The trickery of the Republican government, its intolerable insolence, the exorbitancy of its demands, and the more than military arrogance of its language, have penetrated every bosom in England. The nation has never engaged so heartily in a war before. All its old wars were government against government; but the First Consul has insulted the English people, and by the personal bitterness and malignant acrimony of his insults, has united every heart and hand in England against him. England has never waged such a war before; either party must perish. If England should fail, which heaven avert, the world will be a dungeon. If France should be defeated, the victory will be for Europe and all mankind.
* * * * *
Lord Nelson has sailed in the Victory from Portsmouth to take the command in the Mediterranean. A French frigate has been taken; and a despatch declaring war has been received from France, ordering the capture of all English vessels, offering commissions to privateers, and by an act of treachery unprecedented among nations, annexed to this order is a command that all the English, from eighteen to sixty, residing in France, should be arrested; the pretext being to answer as prisoners for the French subjects who may have been made prisoners by the ships of his Britannic Majesty, previously to any declaration of war.
This measure has excited the deepest indignation throughout London; and an indignation which will be shared by the empire. The English in France have been travelling and residing under French passports, and under the declared protection of the government. No crime has been charged upon them; they remained, because they regarded themselves as secure, relying on the honour of France. Their being kept as pledges for the French prisoners captured on the seas, is a mere trifling with common sense. The French subjects travelling or residing in England have not been arrested. The mere technicality of a declaration of war was wholly useless, when the ambassador of France had been ordered to leave England. The English ambassador had left Paris on the 12th; the French ambassador had left London on the 16th. The English order for reprisals appeared in the Gazette of the 17th. The English declaration of war was laid before Parliament on the 18th; and the first capture, a French lugger of fourteen guns.
THE "OLD PLAYER."
IMITATED FROM ANASTASIUS GRUeN.
BY A. LODGE.
Aloft the rustling curtain flew, That gave the mimic scene to view; How gaudy was the suit he wore! His cheeks with red how plaster'd o'er!
Poor veteran! that in life's late day, With tottering step, and locks of gray, Essay'st each trick of antic glee, Oh! my heart bleeds at sight of thee.
A laugh thy triumph! and so near The closing act, and humble bier; This thy ambition? this thy pride? Far better thou had'st earlier died!
Though memory long has own'd decay, And dim the intellectual ray, Thou toil'st, from many an idle page, To cram the feeble brain of age.
And stiff the old man's arms have grown. And scarce his folded hands alone Half raised in whisper'd prayer they see, To bless the grandchild at his knee.
But here—'tis action lends a zest To the dull, pointless, hacknied jest; He saws the air 'mid welcome loud Of laughter from the barren crowd.
A tear creeps down his cheek—with pain His limbs the wasted form sustain; Ay—weep! no thought thy tears are worth, So the Pit shakes with boist'rous mirth.
And now the bustling scene is o'er, The weary actor struts no more; And hark, "The old man needed rest," They cry; "the arm-chair suits him best."
His lips have moved with mutter'd sound— A pause—and still the taunt goes round; "Oh! quite worn out—'tis doting age, Why lags the driveller on the stage?"
Again the halting speech he tries, But words the faltering tongue denies, Scarce heard the low unmeaning tone, Then silent—as tho' life were flown.
The curtain falls, and rings the bell, They know not 'tis the Player's knell; Nor deem their noise and echoing cry The dirge that speeds a soul on high!
Dead in his chair the old man lay, His colour had not pass'd away;— Clay-cold, the ruddy cheeks declare What hideous mockery lingers there!
Yes! there the counterfeited hue Unfolds with moral truth to view, How false—as every mimic part— His life—his labours—and his art!
The canvass-wood devoid of shade, Above, no plaintive rustling made; That moon, that ne'er its orb has fill'd, No pitying, dewy tears distill'd.
The troop stood round—and all the past In one brief comment speaks at last; "Well, he has won the hero's name, He died upon his field of fame."
A girl with timid grace draws near, And like the Muse to sorrow dear, Amid the silvery tresses lays The torn stage-wreath of paper bays!
I saw two men the bier sustain;— Two bearers all the funeral train! They left him in his narrow bed, No smile was seen—no tear was shed!
The Crusades are, beyond all question, the most extraordinary and memorable movement that ever took place in the history of mankind. Neither ancient nor modern times can furnish any thing even approaching to a parallel. They were neither stimulated by the lust of conquest nor the love of gain; they were not the results of northern poverty pressing on southern plenty, nor do they furnish an example of civilized discipline overcoming barbaric valour. The warriors who assumed the Cross were not stimulated, like the followers of Cortes and Pizarro, by the thirst for gold, nor roused, like those of Timour and Genghis Khan, by the passion for conquest. They did not burn, like the legionary soldiers of Rome, with the love of country, nor sigh with Alexander, because another world did not remain to conquer. They did not issue, like the followers of Mahomet, with the sword in one hand and the "Koran" in the other, to convert by subduing mankind, and win the houris of Paradise by imbruing their hands in the blood of the unbelievers. The ordinary motives which rouse the ambition, or awaken the passions of men, were to them unknown. One only passion warmed every bosom, one only desire was felt in every heart. To rescue the Holy Sepulchre from the hands of the Infidels—to restore the heritage of Christ to his followers—to plant the Cross again on Mount Calvary—was the sole object of their desires. For this they lived, for this they died. For this, millions of warriors abandoned their native seats, and left their bones to whiten the fields of Asia. For this, Europe, during two centuries, was precipitated on Asia. To stimulate this astonishing movement, all the powers of religion, of love, of poetry, of romance, and of eloquence, during a succession of ages, were devoted. Peter the Hermit shook the heart of Europe by his preaching, as the trumpet rouses the war-horse. Poetry and romance aided the generous illusion. No maiden would look at a lover who had not served in Palestine; few could resist those who had. And so strongly was the European heart then stirred,—so profound the emotions excited by those events, that their influence is felt even at this distant period. The highest praise yet awarded to valour is, that it recalls the lion-hearted Richard; the most envied meed bestowed on beauty, that it rivals the fascination of Armida. No monument is yet approached by the generous and brave with such emotion as those now mouldering in our churches, which represent the warrior lying with his arms crossed on his breast, in token that, during life, he had served in the Holy Wars.
The Crusades form the true heroic age of Europe—the Jerusalem Delivered is its epic poem. Then alone its warriors fought and died together. Banded together under a second "King of men," the forces of Christendom combated around the Holy City against the strength of Asia drawn to its defence. The cause was nobler, the end greater, the motives more exalted, than those which animated the warriors of the Iliad. Another Helen had not fired another Troy; the hope of sharing the spoils of Phrygia had not drawn together the predatory bands of another Greece. The characters on both sides had risen in proportion to the magnitude and sanctity of the strife in which they were engaged. Holier motives, more generous passions were felt, than had yet, from the beginning of time, strung the soldier's arm. Saladin was a mightier prince than Hector; Godfrey a nobler character than Agamemnon; Richard immeasurably more heroic than Achilles. The strife did not continue for ten years, but for twenty lustres; and yet, so uniform were the passions felt through its continuance, so identical the objects contended for, that the whole has the unity of interest of a Greek drama.
All nations bore their part in this mighty tragedy. The Franks were there, under Godfrey of Bouillon and Raymond of Toulouse, in such strength as to have stamped their name in the East upon Europeans in general; the English nobly supported the ancient fame of their country under the lion-hearted King; the Germans followed the Dukes of Austria and Bavaria; the Flemings those of Hainault and Brabant; the Italians and Spaniards reappeared on the fields of Roman fame; even the distant Swedes and Norwegians, the descendants of the Goths and Normans, sent forth their contingents to combat in the common cause of Christianity. Nor were the forces of Asia assembled in less marvellous proportions. The bands of Persia were there, terrible as when they destroyed the legions of Crassus and Antony, or withstood the invasions of Heraclius and Julian; the descendants of the followers of Sesostris appeared on the field of ancient and forgotten glory; the swarthy visages of the Ethiopians were seen; the distant Tartars hurried to the theatre of carnage and plunder; the Arabs, flushed with the conquest of the Eastern world, combated, with unconquerable resolution, for the faith of Mahomet. The arms of Europe were tested against those of Asia, as much as the courage of the descendants of Japhet was with the daring of the children of Ishmael. The long lance, ponderous panoply, and weighty war-horse of the West, was matched against the twisted hauberk, sharp sabre, and incomparable steeds of the East; the sword crossed with the cimeter, the dagger with the poniard; the armour of Milan was scarce proof against the Damascus blade; the archers of England tried their strength with the bowmen of Arabia. Nor were rousing passions, animating recollections, and charmed desires awanting to sustain the courage on both sides. The Christians asserted the ancient superiority of Europe over Asia; the Saracens were proud of the recent conquest of the East, Africa, and Southern Europe, by their arms; the former pointed to a world subdued and long held in subjection—the latter to a world newly reft from the infidel, and won by their sabres to the sway of the Crescent. The one deemed themselves secure of salvation while combating for the Cross, and sought an entrance to heaven through the breach of Jerusalem; the other, strong in the belief of fatalism, advanced fearless to the conflict, and strove for the houris of Paradise amidst the lances of the Christians.
When nations so powerful, leaders so renowned, forces so vast, courage so unshaken in the contending parties, were brought into collision, under the influence of passions so strong, enthusiasm so exalted, devotion so profound, it was impossible that innumerable deeds of heroism should not have been performed on both sides. If a poet equal to Homer had arisen in Europe to sing the conflict, the warriors of the Crusades would have been engraven on our minds like the heroes of the Iliad; and all future ages would have resounded with their exploits, as they have with those of Achilles and Agamemnon, of Ajax and Ulysses, of Hector and Diomede. But though Tasso has with incomparable beauty enshrined in immortal verse the feelings of chivalry, and the enthusiasm of the Crusades, he has not left a poem which has taken, or ever can take, the general hold of the minds of men, which the Iliad has done. The reason is, it is not founded in nature—it is the ideal—but it is not the ideal based on the real. Considered as a work of imagination, the Gerusalemme Liberata is one of the most exquisite conceptions of human fancy, and will for ever command the admiration of romantic and elevated minds. But it wants that yet higher excellence, which arises from a thorough knowledge of human nature—a graphic delineation of actual character, a faithful picture of the real passions and sufferings of mortality. It is the most perfect example of poetic fancy; but the highest species of the epic poem is to be found not in poetic fancy, but poetic history. The heroes and heroines of the Jerusalem Delivered are noble and attractive. It is impossible to study them without admiration; but they resemble real life as much as the Enchanted Forest and spacious battle-fields, which Tasso has described in the environs of Jerusalem, do the arid ridges, waterless ravines, and stone-covered hills in the real scene, which have been painted by the matchless pens of Chateaubriand and Lamartine.
The love of Tancred, the tenderness of Erminia, the heroism of Rinaldo, are indelibly engraven in the recollection of every sensitive reader of Tasso; but no man ever saw such characters, or any thing resembling them, in real life. They are aerial beings, like Miranda in the "Tempest," or Rosalind in the forest; but they recall no traits of actual existence. The enchantment of Armida, the death of Clorinda, belong to a different class. They rise to the highest flights of the epic muse; for female fascination is the same in all ages; and Tasso drew from the life in the first, while his exquisite taste and elevated soul raised him to the highest moral sublimity and pathos which human nature can reach in the second. Considered, however, as the poetic history of the Crusades, as the Iliad of modern times, the Jerusalem Delivered will not bear any comparison with its immortal predecessor. It conveys little idea of the real events; it embodies no traits of nature; it has enshrined no traditions of the past. The distant era of the Crusades, separated by three centuries from the time when he wrote, had come down to Tasso, blended with the refinements of civilization, the courtesy of chivalry, the graces of antiquity, the conceits of the troubadours. In one respect only he has faithfully portrayed the feelings of the time when his poem was laid. In the uniform elevation of mind in Godfrey of Bouillon; his constant forgetfulness of self; his sublime devotion to the objects of his mission, is to be found a true picture of the spirit of the Crusades, as it appeared in their most dignified champions. And it is fortunate for mankind that the noble portrait has been arrayed in such colours as must render it as immortal as the human race.
If poetry has failed in portraying the real spirit of the Crusades, has history been more successful? Never was a nobler theme presented to human ambition. We may see what may be made of it, by the inimitable fragment of its annals which Gibbon has left in his narrative of the storming of Constantinople by the Franks and Venetians. Only think what a subject is presented to the soul of genius, guiding the hand, and sustaining the effort of industry! The rise of the Mahometan power in the East, and the subjugation of Palestine by the arms of the Saracens; the profound indignation excited in Europe by the narratives of the sufferings of the Christians who had made pilgrimages to the Holy Sepulchre; the sudden and almost miraculous impulse communicated to multitudes by the preaching of Peter the Hermit; the universal frenzy which seized all classes, and the general desertion of fields and cities, in the anxiety to share in the holy enterprise of rescuing it from the infidels; the unparalleled sufferings and total destruction of the huge multitude of men, women, and children who formed the vanguard of Europe, and perished in the first Crusade, make up, as it were the first act of the eventful story. Next comes the firm array of warriors which was led by Godfrey of Bouillon in the second Crusade. Their march through Hungary and Turkey to Constantinople; the description of the Queen of the East, with its formidable ramparts, noble harbours, and crafty government; the battles of Nice and Dorislaus, and marvellous defeats of the Persians by the arms of the Christians; the long duration, and almost fabulous termination of the siege of Antioch, by the miracle of the holy lance; the advance to Jerusalem; the defeat of the Egyptians before its walls, and final storming of the holy city by the resistless prowess of the crusaders, terminate the second act of the mighty drama.
The third commences with the establishment, in a durable manner, of the Latins in Palestine, and the extension of its limits,—by the subjection of Ptolemais, Edessa, and a number of strongholds towards the east. The constitution of the monarchy by the "Assizes of Jerusalem," the most regular and perfect model of feudal sovereignty that ever was formed; with the singular orders of the knights-templars, hospitallers, and of St John of Jerusalem, which in a manner organized the strength of Europe for its defence, blend the detail of manners, institutions, and military establishments, with the otherwise too frequent narratives of battles and sieges. Next come the vast and almost convulsive efforts of the Orientals to expel the Christians from their shores; the long wars and slow degrees by which the monarchy of Palestine was abridged, and at last its strength broken by the victorious sword of Saladin, and the wood of the true cross lost, in the battle of Tiberias. But this terrible event, which at once restored Jerusalem to the power of the Saracens, again roused the declining spirit of European enterprise. A hero rose up for the defence of the Holy Land. Richard Coeur de Lion and Philip Augustus appeared at the head of the chivalry of England and France. The siege of Ptolemais exceeded in heroic deeds that of Troy; the battle of Ascalon broke the strength and humbled the pride of Saladin; and, but for the jealousy and defection of France, Richard would have again rescued the Holy Sepulchre from the hands of the infidels, and perhaps permanently established a Christian monarchy on the shores of Palestine.
The fourth Crusade, under Dandolo, when the arms of the Faithful were turned aside from the holy enterprise by the spoils of Constantinople, and the blind Doge leapt from his galleys on the towers of the imperial city, forms the splendid subject of the fourth act. The marvellous spectacle was there exhibited of a band of adventurers, not mustering above twenty thousand combatants, carrying by storm the mighty Queen of the East, subverting the Byzantine empire, and establishing themselves in a durable manner, in feudal sovereignty, over the whole of Greece and European Turkey. The wonderful powers of Gibbon, the luminous pages of Sismondi, have thrown a flood of light on this extraordinary event, and almost brought its principal events before our eyes. The passage of the Dardanelles by the Christian armament; the fears of the warriors at embarking in the mighty enterprise of attacking the imperial city; the imposing aspect of its palaces, domes, and battlements; the sturdy resistance of the Latin squares to the desultory charges of the Byzantine troops; in fine, the storm of the city itself, and overthrow of the empire of the Caesars, stand forth in the most brilliant light in the immortal pages of these two writers. But great and romantic as this event was, it was an episode in the history of the Crusades, it was a diversion of its forces, a deviation from its spirit. It is an ordinary, though highly interesting and eventful siege; very different from the consecration of the forces of Europe to the rescuing of the Holy Sepulchre.
Very different was the result of the last Crusade, under Saint Louis, which shortly after terminated in the capture of Ptolemais, and the final expulsion of the Christians from the shores of Palestine. Melancholy, however, as are the features of that eventful story, it excites a deeper emotion than the triumphant storm of Constantinople by the champions of the Cross. St Louis was unfortunate, but he was so in a noble cause; he preserved the purity of his character, the dignity of his mission, equally amidst the arrows of the Egyptians on the banks of the Nile, as in the death-bestrodden shores of the Lybian Desert. There is nothing more sublime in history than the death of this truly saint-like prince, amidst his weeping followers. England reappeared with lustre in the last glare of the flames of the crusades, before they sunk for ever; the blood of the Plantagenets proved worthy of itself. Prince Edward again erected the banner of victory before the walls of Acre, and his heroic consort, who sucked the poison of the assassin from his wounds, has passed, like Belisarius or Coeur de Lion, into the immortal shrine of romance. Awful was the catastrophe in which the tragedy terminated; and the storm of Acre, and slaughter of thirty thousand of the Faithful, while it finally expelled the Christians from the Holy Land, awakened the European powers, when too late, to a sense of the ruinous effect of those divisions which had permitted the vanguard of Christendom, the bulwark of the faith, to languish and perish, after an heroic resistance, on the shores of Asia.
Nor was it long before the disastrous consequences of these divisions appeared, and it was made manifest, even to the most inconsiderate, what dangers had been averted from the shores of Europe, by the contest which had so long fixed the struggle on those of Asia. The dreadful arms of the Mahometans, no longer restrained by the lances of the Crusaders, appeared in menacing, and apparently irresistible strength, on the shores of the Mediterranean. Empire after empire sank beneath their strokes. Constantinople, and with it the empire of the East, yielded to the arms of Mahomet II.; Rhodes, with its spacious ramparts and well-defended bastions, to those of Solyman the Magnificent; Malta, the key to the Mediterranean, was only saved by the almost superhuman valour of its devoted knights; Hungary was overrun; Vienna besieged; and the death of Solyman alone prevented him from realizing his threat, of stabling his steed at the high altar of St Peter's. The glorious victory of Lepanto, the raising of the siege of Vienna by John Sobieski, only preserved, at distant intervals, Christendom from subjugation, and possibly the faith of the gospel from extinction on the earth. A consideration of these dangers may illustrate of what incalculable service the Crusades were to the cause of true religion and civilization, by fixing the contest for two centuries in Asia, when it was most to be dreaded in Europe; and permitting the strength of Christendom to grow, during that long period, till, when it was seriously assailed in its own home, it was able to defend itself. It may show us what we owe to the valour of those devoted champions of the Cross, who struggled with the might of Islamism when "it was strongest, and ruled it when it was wildest;" and teach us to look with thankfulness on the dispensations of that over-ruling Providence, which causes even the most vehement and apparently extravagant passions of the human mind to minister to the final good of humanity.
For a long period after their termination, the Crusades were regarded by the world, and treated by historians, as the mere ebullition of frenzied fanaticism—as a useless and deplorable effusion of human blood. It may be conceived with what satisfaction these views were received by Voltaire, and the whole sceptical writers of France, and how completely, in consequence, they deluded more than one generation. Robertson was the first who pointed out some of the important consequences which the Crusades had on the structure of society, and progress of improvement in modern Europe. Guizot and Sismondi have followed in the same track; and the truths they have unfolded are so evident, that they have received the unanimous concurrence of all thinking persons. Certain it is, that so vast a migration of men, so prodigious a heave of the human race, could not have taken place without producing the most important effects. Few as were the warriors who returned from the Holy Wars, in comparison of those who set out, they brought back with them many of the most important acquisitions of time and value, and arts of the East. The terrace cultivation of Tuscany, the invaluable irrigation of Lombardy, date from the Crusades: it was from the warriors or pilgrims that returned from the Holy Land, that the incomparable silk and velvet manufactures, and delicate jewellery of Venice and Genoa, took their rise. Nor were the consequences less material on those who remained behind, and did not share in the immediate fruits of Oriental enterprise. Immense was the impulse communicated to Europe by the prodigious migration. It dispelled prejudice, by bringing distant improvement before the eyes; awakened activity, by exhibiting to the senses the effects of foreign enterprise; it drew forth and expended long accumulated capital; the fitting out so vast a host of warriors stimulated labour, as the wars of the French Revolution did those of the European states six centuries afterwards. The feudal aristocracy never recovered the shock given to their power by the destruction of many families, and the overwhelming debts fastened on others, by these costly and protracted contests. Great part of the prosperity, freedom, and happiness which have since prevailed in the principal European monarchies, is to be ascribed to the Crusades. So great an intermingling of the different faiths and races of mankind, never takes place without producing lasting and beneficial consequences.
These views have been amply illustrated by the philosophic historians of modern times. But there is another effect of far more importance than them all put together, which has not yet attracted the attention it deserves, because the opposite set of evils are only beginning now to rise into general and formidable activity. This is the fixing the mind, and still more the heart of Europe, for so long a period, on generous and disinterested objects. Whoever has attentively considered the constitution of human nature as he feels it in himself, or has observed it in others,—whether as shown in the private society with which he has mingled, or the public concerns of nations he has observed,—will at once admit that SELFISHNESS is its greatest bane. It is at once the source of individual degradation and of public ruin. He knew the human heart well who prescribed as the first of social duties, "to love our neighbour as ourself." Of what incalculable importance was it, then, to have the mind of Europe, during so many generations, withdrawn from selfish considerations, emancipated from the sway of individual desire, and devoted to objects of generous or spiritual ambition! The passion of the Crusades may have been wild, extravagant, irrational, but it was noble, disinterested, and heroic. It was founded on the sacrifice of self to duty; not on the sacrifice, so common in later times, of duty to self. In the individuals engaged in the Holy Wars, doubtless, there was the usual proportion of human selfishness and passion. Certainly they had not all the self-control of St Anthony, or the self-denial of St Jerome. But this is the case with all great movements. The principle which moved the general mind was grand and generous. It first severed war from the passion of lust or revenge, and the thirst for plunder on which it had hitherto been founded, and based it on the generous and disinterested object of rescuing the Holy Sepulchre. Courage was sanctified, because it was exerted in a noble cause: even bloodshed became excusable, for it was done to stop the shedding of blood. The noble and heroic feelings which have taken such hold of the mind of modern Europe, and distinguish it from any other age or quarter of the globe, have mainly arisen from the profound emotions awakened by the mingling of the passions of chivalry with the aspirations of devotion during the Crusades. The sacrifice of several millions of men, however dreadful an evil, was a transient and slight calamity, when set against the incalculable effect of communicating such feelings to their descendants, and stamping them for ever upon the race of Japhet, destined to people and subdue the world.
Look at the mottoes on the seals of our older nobility, which date from the era of the Crusades, or the ages succeeding it, when their heroic spirit was not yet extinct, and you will see the clearest demonstration of what was the spirit of these memorable contests. They are all founded on the sacrifice of self to duty, of interest to devotion, of life to love. There is little to be seen there about industry amassing wealth, or prudence averting calamity; but much about honour despising danger, and life sacrificed to duty. In an utilitarian or commercial age, such principles may appear extravagant or romantic; but it is from such extravagant romance that all the greatness of modern Europe has taken its rise. We cannot emancipate ourselves from their influence: a fountain of generous thoughts in every elevated bosom is perpetually gushing forth, from the ideas which have come down to us from the Holy Wars. They live in our romances, in our tragedies, in our poetry, in our language, in our hearts. Of what use are such feelings, say the partisans of utility? "Of what use," answers Madame De Stael, "is the Apollo Belvidere, or the poetry of Milton; the paintings of Raphael, or the strains of Handel? Of what use is the rose or the eglantine; the colours of autumn, or the setting of the sun?" And yet what object ever moved the heart as they have done, and ever will do? Of what use is all that is sublime or beautiful in nature, if not to the soul itself? The interest taken in such objects attests the dignity of that being which is immortal and invisible, and which is ever more strongly moved by whatever speaks to its immortal and invisible nature, than by all the cares of present existence.
When such is the magnificence and interest of the subject of the Crusades, it is surprising that no historian has yet appeared in Great Britain who has done justice to the theme. Yet unquestionably none has even approached it. Mill's history is the only one in our language which treats of the subject otherwise than as a branch of general history; and though his work is trustworthy and authentic, it is destitute of the chief qualities requisite for the successful prosecution of so great an undertaking. It is—a rare fault in history—a great deal too short. It is not in two thin octavo volumes that the annals of the conflict of Europe and Asia for two centuries is to be given. It is little more than an abridgement, for the use of young persons, of what the real history should be. It may be true, but it is dull; and dulness is an unpardonable fault in any historian, especially one who had such a subject whereon to exert his powers. The inimitable episode of Gibbon on the storming of Constantinople by the Crusaders, is written in a very different style: the truths of history, and the colours of poetry, are there blended in the happiest proportions together. There is a fragment affording, so far as description goes, a perfect model of what the history of the Crusades should be; what in the hands of genius it will one day become. But it is a model only so far as description goes. Gibbon had greater powers as an historian than any modern writer who ever approached the subject; but he had not the elevated soul requisite for the highest branches of his art, and which was most of all called for in the annalist of the Crusades. He was destitute of enlightened principle; he was without true philosophy; he had the eye of painting, and the powers, but not the soul of poetry in his mind. He had not moral courage sufficient to withstand the irreligious fanaticism of his age. He was benevolent; but his aspirations never reached the highest interests of humanity,—humane, but "his humanity ever slumbered where women were ravished, or Christians persecuted."
Passion and reason in equal proportions, it has been well observed, form energy. With equal truth, and for a similar reason, it may be said, that intellect and imagination in equal proportions form history. It is the want of the last quality which is in general fatal to the persons who adventure on that great but difficult branch of composition. It in every age sends ninety-nine hundreds of historical works down the gulf of time. Industry and accuracy are so evidently and indisputably requisite in the outset of historical composition, that men forget that genius and taste are required for its completion. They see that the edifice must be reared of blocks cut out of the quarry; and they fix their attention on the quarriers who loosen them from the rock, without considering that the soul of Phidias or Michael Angelo is required to arrange them in the due proportion in the immortal structure. What makes great and durable works of history so rare is, that they alone, perhaps, of any other production, require for their formation a combination of the most opposite qualities of the human mind, qualities which only are found united in a very few individuals in any age. Industry and genius, passion and perseverance, enthusiasm and caution, vehemence and prudence, ardour and self-control, the fire of poetry, the coldness of prose, the eye of painting, the patience of calculation, dramatic power, philosophic thought, are all called for in the annalist of human events. Mr Fox had a clear perception of what history should be, when he placed it next to poetry in the fine arts, and before oratory. Eloquence is but a fragment of what is enfolded in its mighty arms. Military genius ministers only to its more brilliant scenes. Mere ardour, or poetic imagination, will prove wholly insufficient; they will be deterred at the very threshold of the undertaking by the toil with which it is attended, and turn aside into the more inviting paths of poetry and romance. The labour of writing the "Life of Napoleon" killed Sir Walter Scott. Industry and intellectual power, if unaided by more attractive qualities, will equally fail of success; they will produce a respectable work, valuable as a book of reference, which will slumber in forgotten obscurity in our libraries. The combination of the two is requisite to lasting fame, to general and durable success. What is necessary in an historian, as in the elite of an army, is not the desultory fire of light troops, nor the ordinary steadiness of common soldiers, but the regulated ardour, the burning but yet restrained enthusiasm, which, trained by discipline, taught by experience, keeps itself under control till the proper moment for action arrives, and then sweeps, at the voice of its leader, with "the ocean's mighty swing" on the foe.
MICHAUD is, in many respects, an historian peculiarly qualified for the great undertaking which he has accomplished, of giving a full and accurate, yet graphic history of the Crusades. He belongs to the elevated class in thought; he is far removed, indeed, from the utilitarian school of modern days. Deeply imbued with the romantic and chivalrous ideas of the olden time, a devout Catholic as well as a sincere Christian, he brought to the annals of the Holy Wars a profound admiration for their heroism, a deep respect for their disinterestedness, a graphic eye for their delineation, a sincere sympathy with their devotion. With the fervour of a warrior, he has narrated the long and eventful story of their victories and defeats; with the devotion of a pilgrim, visited the scenes of their glories and their sufferings. Not content with giving to the world six large octavos for the narrative of their glory, he has published six other volumes, containing his travels to all the scenes on the shores of the Mediterranean which have been rendered memorable by their exploits. It is hard to say which is most interesting. They mutually reflect and throw light on each other: for in the History we see at every step the graphic eye of the traveller; in the Travels we meet in every page with the knowledge and associations of the historian.
Michaud, as might be expected from his turn of mind and favourite studies, belongs to the romantic or picturesque school of French historians; that school of which, with himself, Barante, Michelet, and the two Thierrys are the great ornaments. He is far from being destitute of philosophical penetration, and many of his articles in that astonishing repertory of learning and ability, the Biographie Universelle, demonstrate that he is fully abreast of all the ideas and information of his age. But in his history of the Crusades, he thought, and thought rightly, that the great object was to give a faithful picture of the events and ideas of the time, without any attempt to paraphrase them into the language or thoughts of subsequent ages. The world had had enough of the flippant persiflage with which Voltaire had treated the most heroic efforts and tragic disasters of the human race. Philosophic historians had got into discredit from the rash conclusions and unfounded pretensions of the greater part of their number; though the philosophy of history can never cease to be one of the noblest subjects of human thought. To guard against the error into which they had fallen, the romantic historians recurred with anxious industry to the original and contemporary annals of their events, and discarded every thing from their narrative which was not found to be supported by such unquestionable authority. In thought, they endeavoured to reflect, as in a mirror, the ideas of the age of which they treated, rather than see it through their own: in narrative or description, they rather availed themselves of the materials, how scanty soever, collected by eyewitnesses, in preference to eking out the picture by imaginary additions, and the richer colouring of subsequent ages. This is the great characteristic of the graphic or picturesque school of French history; and there can be no question that in regard to the first requisite of history, trustworthiness, and the subordinate but also highly important object, of rendering the narrative interesting, it is a very great improvement, alike upon the tedious narrative of former learning, or the provoking pretensions of more recent philosophy. Justice can never be done to the actions or thoughts of former times, unless the former are narrated from the accounts of eyewitnesses, and with the fervour which they alone can feel—the latter in the very words, as much as possible, employed by the speakers on the occasions. Nor will imagination ever produce any thing so interesting as the features which actually presented themselves at the moment to the observer. Every painter knows the superior value of sketches, however slight, made on the spot, to the most laboured subsequent reminiscences.
But while this is perfectly true on the one hand, it is equally clear on the other, that this recurrence to ancient and contemporary authority must be for the facts, events, and outline of the story only; and that the filling up must be done by the hand of the artist who is engaged in producing the complete work. If this is not done, history ceases to be one of the fine arts. It degenerates into a mere collection of chronicles, records, and ballads, without any connecting link to unite, or any regulating mind to arrange them. History then loses the place assigned it by Mr Fox, next to poetry and before oratory; it becomes nothing more than a magazine of antiquarian lore. Such a magazine may be interesting to antiquaries; it may be valuable to the learned in ecclesiastical disputes, or the curious in genealogy or family records; but these interests are of a very partial and transient description. It will never generally fascinate the human race. Nothing ever has, or ever can do so, but such annals as, independent of local or family interest, or antiquarian curiosity, are permanently attractive by the grandeur and interest of the events they recount, and the elegance or pathos of the language in which they are delivered. Such are the histories of Herodotus and Thucydides, the annals of Sallust and Tacitus, the narratives of Homer, Livy, and Gibbon. If instead of aiming at producing one uniform work of this description, flowing from the same pen, couched in the same style, reflecting the same mind, the historian presents his readers with a collection of quotations from chronicles, state papers, or jejune annalists, he has entirely lost sight of the principles of his art. He has not made a picture, but merely put together a collection of original sketches; he has not built a temple, but only piled together the unfinished blocks of which it was to be composed.
This is the great fault into which Barante, Sismondi, and Michelet have fallen. In their anxiety to be faithful, they have sometimes become tedious; in their desire to recount nothing that was not true, they have narrated much that was neither material nor interesting. Barante, in particular, has utterly ruined his otherwise highly interesting history of the Dukes of Burgundy by this error. We have bulls of the Popes, marriage-contracts, feudal charters, treaties of alliance, and other similar instruments, quoted ad longum in the text of the history, till no one but an enthusiastic antiquary or half-cracked genealogist can go on with the work. The same mistake is painfully conspicuous in Sismondi's Histoire des Francais. Fifteen out of his valuable thirty volumes are taken up with quotations from public records or instruments. It is impossible to conceive a greater mistake, in a composition which is intended not merely for learned men or antiquaries, but for the great body of ordinary readers. The authors of these works are so immersed in their own ideas and researches, they are so enamoured of their favourite antiquities, that they forget that the world in general is far from sharing their enthusiasm, and that many things, which to them are of the highest possible interest and importance, seem to the great bulk of readers immaterial or tedious. The two Thierrys have, in a great measure, avoided this fatal error; for, though their narratives are as much based on original and contemporary authorities as any histories can be, the quotations are usually given in an abbreviated form in the notes, and the text is, in general, an unbroken narrative, in their own perspicuous and graphic language. Thence, in a great measure, the popularity and interest of their works. Michaud indulges more in lengthened quotations in his text from the old chronicles, or their mere paraphrases into his own language; their frequency is the great defect of his valuable history. But the variety and interest of the subjects render this mosaic species of composition more excusable, and less repugnant to good taste, in the account of the Crusades, than it would be, perhaps, in the annals of any other human transactions.
As a specimen of our author's powers and style of description, we subjoin a translation of the animated narrative he gives from the old historians of the famous battle of Dorislaus, which first subjected the coasts of Asia Minor to the arms of the Crusaders.
"Late on the evening of the 31st of June 1097, the troops arrived at a spot where pasturage appeared abundant, and they resolved to pitch their camp. The Christian army passed the night in the most profound security; but on the following morning, at break of day, detached horsemen presented themselves, and clouds of dust appearing on the adjoining heights, announced the presence of the enemy. Instantly the trumpets sounded, and the whole camp stood to their arms. Bohemond, the second in command, having the chief direction in the absence of Godfrey, hastened to make the necessary dispositions to repel the threatened attack. The camp of the Christians was defended on one side by a river, and on the other by a marsh, entangled with reeds and bushes. The Prince of Tarentum caused it to be surrounded with palisades, made with the stakes which served for fixing the cords of the tents; he then assigned their proper posts to the infantry, and placed the women, children, and sick in the centre. The cavalry, arranged in three columns, advanced to the margin of the river, and prepared to dispute the passage. One of these corps was commanded by Tancred, and William his brother; the other by the Duke of Normandy and the Count of Chartres. Bohemond, who headed the reserve, was posted with his horsemen on an eminence in the rear, from whence he could descry the whole field of battle.
"Hardly were these dispositions completed, when the Saracens, with loud cries, descended from the mountains, and, as soon as they arrived within bowshot, let fall a shower of arrows upon the Christians. This discharge did little injury to the knights, defended as they were by their armour and shields; but a great number of horses were wounded, and, in their pain, introduced disorder into the ranks. The archers, the slingers, the crossbow-men, scattered along the flanks of the Christian army, in vain returned the discharge with their stones and javelins; their missiles could not reach the enemy, and fell on the ground without doing any mischief. The Christian horse, impatient at being inactive spectators of the combat, charged across the river and fell headlong with their lances in rest on the Saracens; but they avoided the shock, and, opening their ranks, dispersed when the formidable mass approached them. Again rallying at a distance in small bodies, they let fly a cloud of arrows at their ponderous assailants, whose heavy horses, oppressed with weighty armour, could not overtake the swift steeds of the desert.
"This mode of combating turned entirely to the advantage of the Turks. The whole dispositions made by the Christians before the battle became useless. Every chief, almost every cavalier, fought for himself; he took counsel from his own ardour, and it alone. The Christians combated almost singly on a ground with which they were unacquainted; in that terrible strife, death became the only reward of undisciplined valour. Robert of Paris the same who had sat on the imperial throne beside Alexis, was mortally wounded, after having seen forty of his bravest companions fall by his side. William, brother of Tancred, fell pierced by arrows. Tancred himself, whose lance was broken, and who had no other weapon but his sword, owed his life to Bohemond, who came up to the rescue, and extricated him from the hands of the Infidels.
"While victory was still uncertain between force and address, agility and valour, fresh troops of the Saracens descended from the mountains, and mingled in overwhelming proportion in the conflict. The Sultan of Nice took advantage of the moment when the cavalry of the Crusaders withstood with difficulty the attack of the Turks, and directed his forces against their camp. He assembled the elite of his troops, crossed the river, and overcame with ease all the obstacles which opposed his progress. In an instant the camp of the Christians was invaded and filled with a multitude of barbarians. The Turks massacred without distinction all who presented themselves to their blows; except the women whom youth and beauty rendered fit for their seraglios. If we may credit Albert d'Aix, the wives and daughters of the knights preferred in that extremity slavery to death; for they were seen in the midst of the tumult to adorn themselves with their most elegant dresses, and, arrayed in this manner, sought by the display of their charms to soften the hearts of their merciless enemies.
"Bohemond, however, soon arrived to the succour of the camp, and obliged the Sultan to retrace his steps to his own army. Then the combat recommenced on the banks of the river with more fury than ever. The Duke Robert of Normandy, who had remained with some of his knights on the field of battle, snatched from his standard-bearer his pennon of white, bordered with gold, and exclaiming, 'A moi, la Normandie!' penetrated the ranks of the enemy, striking down with his sword whatever opposed him, till he laid dead at his feet one of the principal emirs. Tancred, Richard, the Prince of Salerno, Stephen count of Blois, and other chiefs, followed his example, and emulated his valour. Bohemond, returning from the camp, which he had delivered from its oppressors, encountered a troop of fugitives. Instantly advancing among them, he exclaimed, 'Whither fly you, O Christian soldiers?—Do you not see that the enemies' horses, swifter than your own, will not fail soon to reach you? Follow me—I will show you a surer mode of safety than flight.' With these words he threw himself followed by his own men and the rallied fugitives, into the midst of the Saracens, and striking down all who attempted to resist them, made a frightful carnage. In the midst of the tumult, the women who had been taken and delivered from the lands of the Mussulmans, burning to avenge their outraged modesty, went through the ranks carrying refreshments to the soldiers, and exhorting them to redouble their efforts to save them from Turkish servitude.
"But all these efforts were in vain. The Crusaders, worn out by fatigue, parched by thirst, were unable to withstand an enemy who was incessantly recruited by fresh troops. The Christian army, a moment victorious, was enveloped on all sides, and obliged to yield to numbers. They retired, or rather fled, towards the camp, which the Turks were on the point of entering with them. No words can paint the consternation of the Christians, the disorder of their ranks, or the scenes of horror which the interior of the camp presented. There were to be seen priests in tears, imploring on their knees the assistance of Heaven—there, women in despair rent the air with their shrieks, while the more courageous of their numbers bore the wounded knights into the tents; and the soldiers, despairing of life, cast themselves on their knees before their priests or bishops, and demanded absolution of their sins. In the frightful tumult, the voice of the chief was no longer heard; the most intrepid had already fallen covered with wounds, or sunk under the rays of a vertical sun and the horrors of an agonizing thirst. All seemed lost, and nothing to appearance could restore their courage, when all of a sudden loud cries of joy announced the approach of Raymond of Toulouse and Godfrey of Bouillon, who advanced at the head of the second corps of the Christian army.
"From the commencement of the battle, Bohemond had dispatched accounts to them of the attack of the Turks. No sooner did the intelligence arrive, than the Duke of Lorraine, the Count of Vermandois, and the Count of Flanders, at the head of their corps-d'armee, directed their march towards the valley of Gorgoni, followed by Raymond and D'Adhemar, who brought up the luggage and formed the rear-guard. When they appeared on the eastern slope of the mountains, the sun was high in the heavens, and his rays were reflected from their bucklers, helmets, and drawn swords; their standards were displayed, and a loud flourish of their trumpets resounded from afar. Fifty thousand horsemen, clad in steel and ready for the fight, advanced in regular order to the attack. That sight at once reanimated the Crusaders and spread terror among the Infidels.
"Already Godfrey, outstripping the speed of his followers, had come up at the head of fifty chosen cavaliers, and taken a part in the combat. Upon this the Sultan sounded a retreat, and took post upon the hills, where he trusted the Crusaders would not venture to attack him. Soon, however, the second corps of the Christians arrived on the field still reeking with the blood of their brethren. They knew their comrades and companions stretched in the dust—they became impatient to avenge them, and demanded with loud cries to be led on to the attack; those even who had combated all day with the first corps desired to renew the conflict. Forthwith the Christian army was arranged for a second battle. Bohemond, Tancred, Robert of Normandy, placed themselves the left; Godfrey, the Count of Flanders, the Count de Blois, led the right: Raymond commanded in the centre; the reserve was placed under the order of D'Adhemar. Before the chiefs gave the order to advance, the priests went through the ranks, exhorted the soldiers to fight bravely, and gave them their benediction. Then the soldiers and chiefs drew their swords together, and repeated aloud the war-cry of the Crusades, 'Dieu le veut! Dieu le veut!' That cry was re-echoed from the mountains and the valleys. While the echoes still rolled, the Christian army advanced, and marched full of confidence against the Turks, who, not less determined, awaited them on the summit of their rocky asylum.
"The Saracens remained motionless on the top of the hills—they did not even discharge their redoubtable arrows; their quivers seemed to be exhausted. The broken nature of the ground they occupied precluded the adoption of those rapid evolutions, which in the preceding conflict had proved so fatal to the Christians. They seemed to be no longer animated with the same spirit—they awaited the attack rather with the resignation of martyrs than the hope of warriors. The Count of Toulouse, who assailed them in front, broke their ranks by the first shock. Tancred, Godfrey, and the two Roberts attacked their flanks with equal advantage. D'Adhemar, who with the reserve had made the circuit of the mountains, charged their rear, when already shaken by the attack in front, and on both flanks. This completed their route. The Saracens found themselves surrounded by a forest of lances, from which there was no escape but in breaking their ranks and seeking refuge among the rocks. A great number of emirs, above three thousand officers, and twenty thousand soldiers fell in the action or pursuit. Four thousand of the Crusaders had perished, almost all in the first action. The enemy's camp, distant two leagues from the field of battle, fell into the hands of the Crusaders, with vast stores of provisions, tents magnificently ornamented, immense treasures, and a vast number of camels. The sight of these animals, which they had not yet seen in the East, gave them as much surprise as pleasure. The dismounted horsemen mounted the swift steeds of the Saracens to pursue the broken remains of the enemy. Towards evening they returned to the camp loaded with booty, and preceded by their priests singing triumphant songs and hymns of victory. On the following day the Christians interred their dead, shedding tears of sorrow. The priests read prayers over them, and numbered them among the saints in heaven."—Hist. des Croisades, i. 228-233.
This extract gives an idea at once of the formidable nature of the contest which awaited the Christians in their attempts to recover the Holy Land, of the peculiar character of the attack and defence on both sides, and of the talent for graphic and lucid description which M. Michaud possesses. It is curious how identical the attack of the West and defence of the East are the same in all ages. The description of the manner in which the Crusading warriors were here drawn into a pursuit of, and then enveloped by the Asiatic light horse, is precisely the same as that in which the legions of Crassus were destroyed; and might pass for a narrative of the way in which Napoleon's European cavalry were cut to pieces by the Arab horse at the combat at Salahout, near the Red Sea; or Lord Lake's horse worsted in the first part of the battle of Laswaree in India, before the infantry came up, and, by storming the batteries, restored the combat. On the other hand, the final overthrow of the Saracens at Dorislaus was evidently owing to their imprudence in standing firm, and awaiting in that position the attack of the Christians. They did so, trusting to the strength of the rocky ridge on which they were posted; but that advantage, great as it was, by no means rendered them a match in close fight for the weighty arms and the determined resolution of the Europeans, any more than the discharges of their powerful batteries availed the Mahrattas in the latter part of the battles of Assaye and Laswaree, or, more recently, the Sikhs in the desperate conflict at Ferozepore in the Punjaub. The discovery of fire-arms, and all the subsequent improvements in tactics and strategy, though they have altered the weapons with which war is carried on, yet have not materially changed the mode in which success is won, or disaster averted, between ancient and modern times.
Our author's account of the storming of Jerusalem, the final object and crowning glory of the Crusades, is animated and interesting in the highest degree.
"At the last words of the Hermit Peter the warmest transports seized the Crusaders. They descended from the Mount of Olives, where they had listened to his exhortations; and turning to the south, saluted on their right the fountain of Siloe, where Christ had restored sight to the blind; in the distance they perceived the ruins of the palace of Judah, and advanced on the slope of Mount Sion, which awakened afresh all their holy enthusiasm. Many in that cross march were struck down by the arrows and missiles from the walls: they died blessing God, and imploring his justice against the enemies of the faith. Towards evening the Christian army returned to its quarters, chanting the words of the Prophet—'Those of the West shall fear the Lord, and those of the East shall see his glory.' Having re-entered into the camp, the greater part of the pilgrims passed the night in prayer: the chiefs and soldiers confessed their sins at the feet of their priests, and received in communion that God whose promises filled them with confidence and hope.
"While the Christian army prepared, by these holy ceremonies, for the combat, a mournful silence prevailed around the walls of Jerusalem. The only sound heard was that of the men who, from the top of the mosques of the city, numbered the hours by calling the Mussulmans to prayers. At the well-known signals, the Infidels ran in crowds to their temples to implore the protection of their Prophet: they swore by the mysterious House of Jacob to defend the town, which they styled 'the House of God.' The besiegers and besieged were animated with equal ardour for the fight, and equal determination to shed their blood—the one to carry the town, the other to defend it. The hatred which animated them was so violent, that during the whole course of the siege, no Mussulman deputy came to the camp of the besiegers, and the Christians did not even deign to summon the town. Between such enemies, the shock could not be other than terrible, and the victors implacable.
"On Thursday, 14th July 1199, at daybreak, the trumpets resounded, and the whole Christian army stood to their arms. All the machines were worked at once: the mangonels and engines poured on the ramparts a shower of stones, while the battering-rams were brought up close to their feet. The archers and slingers directed their missiles with fatal effect against the troops who manned the walls, while the most intrepid of the assailants planted scaling-ladders on the places where the ascent appeared most practicable. On the south, east, and north of the town, rolling towers advanced towards the ramparts, in the midst of a violent tumult, and amidst the cries of the workmen and soldiers. Godfrey appeared on the highest platform of his wooden tower, accompanied by his brother Eustache and Baudoin du Bourg. His example animated his followers: so unerring was their aim, that all the javelins discharged from this platform carried death among the besieged. Tancred, the Duke of Normandy, and the Count of Flanders, combated at the head of their followers: the knights and men-at-arms, animated with the same ardour, pressed into the melee, and threw themselves into the thickest of the fight.
"Nothing could equal the fury of the first shock of the Christians; but they met every where the most determined resistance. Arrows and javelins, boiling oil and water, with Greek fire, were poured down incessantly on the assailants; while fourteen huge machines, which the besieged had got time to oppose to those of the besiegers, replied with effect to the fire of the more distant warlike instruments. Issuing forth by one of the breaches in the rampart, the Infidels made a sortie, and succeeded in burning some of the machines of the Christians, and spread disorder through their army. Towards the end of the day, the towers of Godfrey and Tancred were so shattered, that they could no longer be moved, while that of Raymond was falling into ruins. The combat had lasted eleven hours, without victory having declared for the Crusaders. The Christians retired to their camp, burning with rage and grief: their chiefs, and especially the two Roberts, sought in vain to console them, by saying that 'God had not judged them as yet worthy to enter into his Holy City, and adore the tomb of his Son.'
"The night was passed on both sides in the utmost disquietude: every one deplored the losses already discovered, and dreaded to hear of fresh ones. The Saracens were in hourly apprehension of a surprise: the Christians feared that the Infidels would burn their machines, which they had pushed forward to the foot of the rampart. The besieged were occupied without intermission in repairing the breaches in their walls; the besiegers in putting their machines in a condition to serve for a new assault. On the day following, the same combats and dangers were renewed as on the preceding one. The chiefs sought by their harangues to revive the spirits of the Crusaders. The priests and bishops went through their tents promising them the assistance of Heaven. On the signal to advance being given, the Christian army, full of confidence, advanced in silence towards the destined points of attack, while the clergy, chanting hymns and prayers, marched round the town.
"The first shock was terrible. The Christians, indignant at the resistance they had experienced on the preceding day, combated with fury. The besieged, who had learned the near approach of the Egyptian army, were animated by the hopes of approaching succour. A formidable array of warlike engines lined the tops of their ramparts. On every side was heard the hissing of javelins and arrows: frequently immense stones, discharged from the opposite side, met in the air, and fell back on the assailants with a frightful crash. From the top of their towers, the Mussulmans never ceased to throw burning torches and pots of Greek fire on the storming parties. In the midst of this general conflagration, the moving towers of the Christians approached the walls. The chief efforts of the besieged were directed against Godfrey, on whose breast a resplendent cross of gold shone, the sight of which was an additional stimulus to their rage. The Duke of Lorraine saw one of his squires and several of his followers fall by his side; but, though exposed himself to all the missiles of the enemy, he continued to combat in the midst of the dead and the dying, and never ceased to exhort his companions to redouble their courage and ardour. The Count of Toulouse directed the attack on the southern side, and stoutly opposed his machines to those of the Mussulmans: he had to combat the Emir of Jerusalem, who bravely animated his followers by his discourse, and showed himself on the ramparts surrounded by the elite of the Egyptian soldiers. On the northern side, Tancred and the two Roberts appeared at the head of their battalions. Firmly stationed on their moving tower, they burned with desire to come to the close combat of the lance and sword. Already their battering-rams had on many points shaken the walls, behind which the Saracens were assembled in dense battalions, as a last rampart against the attack of the Crusaders.
"Mid-day arrived, and the Crusaders had as yet no hope of penetrating into the place. All their machines were in flames: they stood grievously in want of water, and still more of vinegar, which could alone extinguish the Greek fire used by the besieged. In vain the bravest exposed themselves to the most imminent danger, to prevent the destruction of their wooden towers and battering-rams; they fell crushed beneath their ruins, and the devouring flames enveloped their arms and clothing. Many of the bravest warriors had found death at the foot of the ramparts: most of those who had mounted on the rolling towers were hors de combat; the remainder, covered with sweat and dust, overwhelmed with heat and the weight of their armour, began to falter. The Saracens who perceived this raised cries of joy. In their blasphemies they reproached the Christians for adoring a God who was unable to defend them. The assailants deplored their loss, and believing themselves abandoned by Jesus Christ, remained motionless on the field of battle.
"But the aspect of affairs was soon changed. All of a sudden the Crusaders saw, on the Mount of Olives, a horseman shaking a buckler, and giving this signal to enter the town. Godfrey and Raymond, who saw the apparition at the same instant, cried aloud, that St George was come to combat at the head of the Christians. Such was the tumult produced by this incident, that it bore down alike fear and reflection. All rushed tumultuously forward to the assault. The women even, with the children and sick, issued from their retreats, and pressed forward into the throng, bearing water, provisions, or arms, and aiding to drag forward the moving towers. Impelled in this manner, that of Godfrey advanced in the midst of a terrible discharge of stones, arrows, javelins, and Greek fire, and succeeded in getting so near as to let its drawbridge fall on the ramparts. At the same time a storm of burning darts flew against the machines of the besieged, and the bundles of straw piled up against the last walls of the town took fire. Terrified by the flames the Saracens gave way. Lethalde and Engelbert de Tournay, followed by Godfrey and his brother Everard, crossed the drawbridge and gained the rampart. Soon with the aid of their followers they cleared it, and, descending into the streets, struck down all who disputed the passage.
"At the same time, Tancred and the two Roberts made new efforts, and on their side, too, succeeded in penetrating into the town. The Mussulmans fled on all sides; the war-cry of the Crusaders, "Dieu le veut! Dieu le veut!" resounded in the streets of Jerusalem. The companions of Godfrey and Tancred with their hatchets cut down the gate of St Stephen, and let in the main body of the Crusaders, who with loud shouts rushed tumultuously in. Some resistance was attempted by a body of brave Saracens in the mosque of Omar, but Everard of Puysave expelled them from it. All opposition then ceased; but not so the carnage. Irritated by the long resistance of the Saracens, stung by their blasphemies and reproaches, the Crusaders filled with blood that Jerusalem which they had just delivered, and which they regarded as their future country. The carnage was universal. The Saracens were massacred in the streets, in the houses, in the mosques."
The number of the slain greatly exceeded that of the conquerors. In the mosque of Omar alone ten thousand were put to the sword.
"So terrible was the slaughter, that the blood came up to the knees and reins of the horses; and human bodies, with hands and arms severed from the corpse to which they belonged, floated about in the crimson sea.
"In the midst of these frightful scenes, which have for ever stained the glory of the conquerors, the Christians of the Holy City crowded round Peter the Hermit, who five years before had promised to arm the West for the deliverance of the faithful in Jerusalem, and then enjoyed the spectacle of their liberation. They were never wearied of gazing on the man by whom God had wrought such prodigies. At the sight of their brethren whom they had delivered, the pilgrims recollected that they had come to adore the tomb of Jesus Christ. Godfrey, who had abstained from carnage after the victory, quitted his companions, and attended only by three followers, repaired bareheaded and with naked feet to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Soon the news of that act of devotion spread among the Christian army. Instantly the fury of the war ceased, and the thirst for vengeance was appeased; the Crusaders threw off their bloody garments, and marching together to the Holy Sepulchre, with the clergy at their head, bareheaded and without shoes, they made Jerusalem resound with their groans and sobs. Silence more terrible even than the tumult which had preceded it, reigned in the public places and on the ramparts. No sound was heard but the canticles of repentance, and the words of Isaiah, 'Ye who love Jerusalem, rejoice with me.' So sincere and fervent was the devotion which the Crusaders manifested on this occasion, that it seemed as if the stern warriors, who had just taken a city by assault, and committed the most frightful slaughter, were cenobites who had newly emerged from a long retreat and peaceful meditations."—Hist. des Croisades, i. 440-446.
Inexplicable as such contradictory conduct appears to those who "sit at home at ease," and are involved in none of the terrible calamities which draw forth the latent marvels of the human heart, history in every age affords too many examples of its occurrence to permit us to doubt the truth of the narrative. It is well known that during the worst period of the French Revolution, in the massacres in the prisons on Sept. 2, 1792, some of the mob who had literally wearied their arms in hewing down the prisoners let loose from the jails, took a momentary fit of compunction, were seized with pity for some of the victims, and after saving them from their murderers, accompanied them home, and witnessed with tears of joy the meeting between them and their relations. We are not warranted, after such facts have been recorded on authentic evidence in all ages, in asserting that this transient humanity is assumed or hypocritical. The conclusion rather is, that the human mind is so strangely compounded of good and bad principles, and contains so many veins of thought apparently irreconcilable with each other, that scarce any thing can be set down as absolutely impossible, but every alleged fact is to be judged of mainly by the testimony by which it is supported, and its coincidence with what has elsewhere been observed of that strange compound of contradictions, the human heart.
In the events which have been mentioned, the Crusaders were victorious; and the Crescent, in the outset of the contest, waned before the Cross. But it was only for a time that it did so. The situation of Palestine in Asia, constituting it the advanced post as it were of Christendom across the sea, in the regions of Islamism, perpetually exposed it to the attack of the Eastern powers. They were at home, and fought on their own ground, and with their own weapons, in the long contest which followed the first conquest of Palestine; whereas the forces of the Christians required to be transported, at a frightful expense of life, over a hazardous journey of fifteen hundred miles in length, or conveyed by sea at a very heavy cost from Marseilles, Genoa, or Venice. Irresistible in the first onset, the armament of the Christians gradually dwindled away as the first fervour of the Holy Wars subsided, and the interminable nature of the conflict in which they were engaged with the Oriental powers became apparent. It was the same thing as Spain maintaining a transatlantic contest with her South American, or England with her North American colonies. Indeed, the surprising thing, when we consider the exposed situation of the kingdom of Palestine, the smallness of its resources, and the scanty and precarious support it received, after the first burst of the Crusades was over, from the Western powers, is not that it was at last destroyed, but that it existed so long as it did. The prolongation of its life was mainly owing to the extraordinary qualities of one man.
It is hard to say whether the heroism of Richard Coeur de Lion has been most celebrated in Europe or Asia. Like Solomon, Alexander the Great, Haroun El Raschid, Charlemagne, and Napoleon, his fame has taken root as deeply in the East as in the West, among his enemies as his friends; among the followers of Mahomet as the disciples of the Cross. If he is the hero of European romance,—if he is the theme of the Troubadour's song, he is not less celebrated among the descendants of the Saracens; his exploits are not less eagerly chanted in the tents of the children of Ishmael. To this day, when an Arab's steed starts at a bush in the desert, his master asks him if he expects to see Richard issue from the covert. He possessed that surprising personal strength and daring valour which are so highly prized by warriors in all rude periods, and united with those qualities that singleness of heart and bonhommie of disposition, which, not less powerfully in the great, win upon the hearts of men. His chief qualities—those which have given him his deathless fame—undoubtedly were his heroic courage, extraordinary personal strength, and magnanimity of mind. But if his campaigns with Saladin are attentively considered, it will appear that he was also a great general; and that his marvellous successes were as much owing to his conduct as a commander as his prowess as a knight. This is more particularly conspicuous, in the manner in which he conducted his then sorely diminished army on Acre to within sight of Jerusalem, surrounded as it was the whole way by prodigious clouds of Asiatic horse, headed by the redoubtable Saladin. Beyond all doubt he would, but for the defection of Philip Augustus and France, have wrested Palestine from the Infidels, and again planted the Cross on Mount Calvary, despite the whole forces of the East, led by their ablest and most powerful sultans. His grief at not being able to accomplish this glorious object, is well described by Michaud—
"After a month's abode at Bethnopolis, seven leagues from Jerusalem, the Crusaders renewed their complaints, and exclaimed with sadness, 'We shall never go to Jerusalem!' Richard, with heart torn by contending feelings, while he disregarded the clamours of the pilgrims, shared their grief, and was indignant at his own fortune. One day, that his ardour in pursuing the Saracens had led him to the heights of Emmaus, from which he beheld the towers of Jerusalem, he burst into tears at the sight, and, covering his face with his buckler, declared he was unworthy to contemplate the Holy City which his arms could not deliver."—Hist. des Croisades, ii. 399.
As a specimen of the magnitude of the battles fought in this Crusade, we take that of Assur, near Ptolemais—
"Two hundred thousand Mussulmans were drawn up in the plains of Assur, ready to bar the passage of the Christian army, and deliver a decisive battle. No sooner did he perceive the Saracen array, than Richard divided his army into five corps. The Templars formed the first; the warriors of Brittany and Anjou the second; the king, Guy, and the men of Poitou the third; the English and Normans, grouped round the royal standard, the fourth; the Hospitallers the fifth; and behind them marched the archers and javelin men. At three o'clock in the afternoon, the army was all arranged in order of battle, when all at once a multitude of Saracens appeared in rear, who descended from the mountains which the Crusaders had just crossed. Amongst them were Bedouin Arabs, bearing bows and round bucklers; Scythians with long bows, and mounted on tall and powerful horses; Ethiopians of a lofty stature, with their sable visages strangely streaked with white. These troops of barbarians advanced on all sides against the Christian army with the rapidity of lightning. The earth trembled under their horses' feet. The din of their clarions, cymbals, and trumpets, was so prodigious, that the loudest thunder could not have been heard. Men were in their ranks, whose sole business it was to raise frightful cries, and excite the courage of the Mussulman warriors by chanting their national songs. Thus stimulated, their battalions precipitated themselves upon the Crusaders, who were speedily assailed at once in front, both flanks, and rear—enveloped by enemies, say the old chronicles, as the eyelashes surround the EYE. After their arrows and javelins were discharged, the Saracens commenced the attack with the lance, the mace, and the sword. An English chronicle aptly compares them to smiths, and the Crusaders to the anvil on which their hammers rang. Meanwhile, the Franks did not for a moment intermit their march towards Assur, and the Saracens, who sought in vain to shake their steady ranks, called them 'a nation of iron.'
"Richard had renewed his orders for the whole army to remain on the defensive, and not to advance against the enemy till six trumpets sounded—two at the head of the army, two in the centre, two in the rear. This signal was impatiently expected; the barons and knights could bear every thing except the disgrace of remaining thus inactive in presence of an enemy, who without intermission renewed his attacks. Those of the rear-guard had already began to reproach Richard with having forgotten them; they invoked in despair the protection of St George, the patron of the brave. At last some of the bravest and most ardent, forgetting the orders they had received, precipitated themselves on the Saracens. This example soon drew the Hospitallers after them; the contagion spread from rank to rank, and soon the whole Christian army was at blows with the enemy, and the scene of carnage extended from the sea to the mountains. Richard showed himself wherever the Christians had need of his succour; his presence was always followed by the flight of the Turks. So confused was the melee, so thick the dust, so vehement the fight, that many of the Crusaders fell by the blows of their comrades, who mistook them for enemies. Torn standards, shivered lances, broken swords, strewed the plain. Such of the combatants as had lost their arms, hid themselves in the bushes, or ascended trees; some, overcome with terror, fled towards the sea, and from the top of the rocks precipitated themselves into its waves.
"Every instant the combat became warmer and more bloody. The whole Christian army was now engaged in the battle, and returning on its steps, the chariot which bore the royal standard was in the thickest of the fight. Ere long, however, the Saracens were unable to sustain the impetuous assault of the Franks. Boha-Eddin, an eyewitness, having quitted the Mussulman centre, which was put to the route, fled to the tent of the Sultan, where he found the Sultan, who was attended only by seventeen Mamelukes. While their enemies fled in this manner, the Christians, hardly able to credit their victory, remained motionless on the field which they had conquered. They were engaged in tending their wounded, and in collecting the arms which lay scattered over the field of battle, when all at once twenty thousand Saracens, whom their chief had rallied, fell upon them. The Crusaders overwhelmed with heat and fatigue, and not expecting to be attacked, showed at first a surprise which bordered on fear. Taki-Eddin, nephew of Saladin, at the head of the bravest enemies, led on the Turks, at the head of whom were seen the Mameluke guard of Saladin, distinguished by their yellow banner. So vehement was their onset, that it ploughed deep into the Crusaders' ranks; and they had need of the presence and example of Richard, before whom no Saracen could stand, and whom the contemporary chronicles compare to a reaper cutting down corn. At the moment when the Christians, again victorious, resumed their march towards Assur, the Mussulmans, impelled by despair, again attacked their rear-guard. Richard, who had twice repulsed the enemy, no sooner heard the outcry, than, followed only by fifteen knights, he flew to the scene of combat, shouting aloud the war-cry of the Christians—'God protect the Holy Sepulchre!' The bravest followed their king; the Mussulmans were dispersed at the first shock, and their army, then a third time vanquished, would have been totally destroyed, had not night and the forest of Assur sheltered them from the pursuit of the enemy. As it was they lost eight thousand men, including thirty-two of their bravest emirs slain; while the victory did not cost the Christians a thousand men. Among the wounded was Richard himself, who was slightly hurt in the breast. But the victory was prodigious, and if duly improved by the Crusaders, without dissension or defection, would have decided the fate of Palestine and of that Crusade."—Hist. des Croisades, i. 468-471.
These extracts convey a fair idea of M. Michaud's power of description and merits as an historian. He cannot be said to be one of the highest class. He does not belong to the school who aim at elevating history to its loftiest pitch. The antiquarian school never have, and never will do so. The minute observation and prodigious attentions to detail which their habits produce, are inconsistent with extensive vision. The same eye scarcely ever unites the powers of the microscope and the telescope. He has neither the philosophic mind of Guizot, nor the pictorial eye of Gibbon; he neither takes a luminous glance like Robertson, nor sums up the argument of a generation in a page, like Hume. We shall look in vain in his pages for a few words diving into the human heart such as we find in Tacitus, or splendid pictures riveting every future age as in Livy. He is rather an able and animated abridger of the chronicles, than an historian. But in that subordinate, though very important department, his merits are of a very high order. He is faithful, accurate, and learned; he has given a succinct and yet interesting detail, founded entirely on original authority, of the wars of two centuries. Above all, his principles are elevated, his feelings warm, his mind lofty and generous. He is worthy of his subject, for he is entirely free of the grovelling utilitarian spirit, the disgrace and the bane of the age in which he writes. His talents for description are very considerable, as will be apparent from the account we hope to give in a future Number of his highly interesting travels to the principal scenes of the Crusades. It is only to be regretted, that in his anxiety to preserve the fidelity of his narrative, he has so frequently restrained it, and given us rather descriptions of scenes taken from the old chronicles, than such as his own observations and taste could have supplied. But still his work supplies a great desideratum in European literature; and if not the best that could be conceived, is by much the best that has yet appeared on the subject. And it is written in the spirit of the age so finely expressed in the title given by one of the most interesting of the ancient chroniclers to his work—
"Gesta DEI per Francos."
[Footnote 5: Michaud: Histoire des Croisades.]
[Footnote 6: Porson.]
[Footnote 7: "The doings of God by the Franks."]
THE BURDEN OF SION.
[This Ode, composed by Judas Hallevy bar Samuel, a Spanish Rabbi of the twelfth century, is said to be still recited every year, during the Fast observed in commemoration of the Destruction of Jerusalem. The versifier has been much indebted to a very literal translation, from the original necessarily obscure Spanish of the Rabbi, into excellent French, by Joseph Mainzer, Esq., a gentleman to whom the sacred music of this country is under great and manifold obligations.]
Captive and sorrow-pale, the mournful lot Say, hast thou, Sion, of thy sons forgot? Hast thou forgot the innocent flocks, that lay Prone on thy sunny banks, or frisk'd in play Amid thy lilied meadows? Wilt thou turn A deaf ear to thy supplicants, who mourn Downcast in earth's far corners? Unto thee Wildly they turn in their lone misery; For wheresoe'er they rush in their despair, The pitiless Destroyer still is there!
Eden of earth! despisest thou the sighs From the slave's heart that rise To thee, amid his fetters—who can dare Still to hope on in his forlorn despair— Whose morn and evening tears for thee fall down Like dews on Hermon's thirsty crown— And who would blessed be in all his ills, Wander'd his feet once more even on thy desert hills!
But not is Hope's fair star extinguish'd quite In rayless night; And, Sion, as thy fortunes I bewail, Harsh sounds my voice, as of the birds that sail The stormy dark. Let but that star be mine, And through the tempest tremulously shine; So, when the brooding clouds have overpast, Rejoicing, with the dawn, may come at last, Even as an instrument, whose lively sound Makes the warm blood in every bosom bound, And whose triumphant notes are given Freely in songs of thanksgiving to Heaven!
Bethel!—and as thy name's name leaves my tongue, The very life-drops from my heart are wrung! Thy sanctuary—where, veil'd in mystic light, For ever burning, and for ever bright, Jehovah's awful majesty reposed, And shone for aye heaven's azure gates unclosed— Thy sanctuary!—where from the Eternal flow'd The radiance of his glory, in whose power Noonday itself like very darkness show'd, And stars were none at midnight's darkest hour— Thy sanctuary! oh there! oh there! that I Might breathe my troubled soul out, sigh on sigh, There, where thine effluence, Mighty God, was pour'd On thine Elect, who, kneeling round, adored!
Stand off! the place is holy. Know ye not, Of potter's clay the children, that this spot Is sacred to the Everlasting One— The Ruler over heaven, and over earth? Stand off, degraded slaves, devoid of worth! Nor dare profane again, as ye have done, This spot—'tis holy ground—profane it not!
Oh, might I cleave, with raptured wing, the waste Of the wide air, then, where in splendour lie Thy ruins, would my sorrowing spirit haste, Forth to outpour its flood of misery!— There, where thy grandeur owns a dire eclipse, Down to the dust as sank each trembling knee, Unto thy dear soil should I lay my face, Thy very stones in rapture to embrace, And to thy smouldering ashes glue my lips!
And how, O Sion! how should I but weep, As on our fathers' tombs I fondly gazed, Or, wistfully, as turn'd mine eye To thee, in all thy desolate majesty, Hebron, where rests the mighty one in sleep, And high his pillar of renown was raised! There—in thine atmosphere—'twere blessedness To breathe a purer ether. Oh! to me Thy dust than perfumes dearer far should be, And down thy rocks the torrent streams should roam With honey in their foam!