[ocr errors]

eloquence could bend to every situation and character of life: his style, though not his practice, was fashioned by the example of St. Paul; and, in every deed of mischief, he had a heart to resolve, a head to contrive, and a hand to execute. In his youth, after the death of the emperor John, he followed the retreat of the Roman army; but, in the march through Asia Minor, design or accident tempted him to wander in the mountains; the hunter was encompassed by the Turkish huntsmen, and he remained some time a reluctant or willing captive in the power of the sultan. His virtues and vices recommended him to the favour of his cousin: he shared the perils and the pleasures of Manuel; and while the emperor lived in public incest with his niece Theodora, the affections of her sister Eudocia were seduced and enjoyed by Andronicus. Above the decencies of her sex and rank, she gloried in the name of his concubine; and both the palace and the camp could witness that she slept, or watched, in the arms of her lover. She accompanied him to his military command of Cilicia, the first scene of his valour and imprudence. He pressed, with active ardour, the siege of Mopsuestia: the day was employed in the boldest attacks; but the night was wasted in song and dance; and a band of Greek comedians formed the choicest part of his retinue. Andronicus was surprised by the sally of a vigilant foe: but, while his troops fled in disorder, his invincible lance transpierced the thickest ranks of the Armenians. On his return to the imperial camp in Macedonia, he was received by Manuel with public smiles and a private reproof; but the duchies of Naissus, Braniseba, and Castoria, were the reward or consolation of the unsuccessful general. Eudocia still attended his motions: at midnight, their tent was suddenly attacked by her angry brothers, impatient to expiate her infamy in his blood: his daring spirit refused her advice, and the disguise of a female

habit; and boldly starting from his couch, he drew
his sword, and cut his way through the numerous
assassins. It was here that he first betrayed his in-
gratitude and treachery: he engaged in a treasonable
correspondence with the king of Hungary and the
German emperor: approached the royal tent at a
suspicious hour, with a drawn sword, and, under the
mask of a Latin soldier, avowed an intention of re-
venge against a mortal foe; and imprudently praised
the fleetness of his horse, as an instrument of flight
and safety. The monarch dissembled his suspicions;
but, after the close of the campaign, Andronicus was
arrested and strictly confined in a tower of the palace
of Constantinople.
In this prison he was left above twelve years; a
most painful restraint, from which the thirst of action
and pleasure perpetually urged him to escape. Alone
and pensive, he perceived some broken bricks in a
corner of the chamber, and gradually widened the
passage, till he had explored a dark and forgotten
recess. Into this hole he conveyed himself, and the
remains of his provisions, replacing the bricks in their
former position, and erasing with care the footsteps
of his retreat. At the hour of the customary visit,
his guards were amazed by the silence and solitude
of the prison, and reported, with shame and fear, his
incomprehensible flight. The gates of the palace and
city were instantly shut; the strictest orders were
despatched into the provinces, for the recovery of the
fugitive; and his wife, on the suspicion of a pious act,
was basely imprisoned in the same tower. At the
dead of night, she beheld a spectre: she recognized
her husband: they shared their provisions; and a son
was the fruit of these stolen interviews, which alle-
viated the tediousness of their confinement. In the
custody of a woman, the vigilance of the keepers was


CHAP. insensibly relaxed; and the captive had accomplished


real escape, when he was discovered, brought back to Constantinople, and loaded with a double chain. At length he found the moment, and the means, of his deliverance. A boy, his domestic servant, intoxicated the guards, and obtained in wax the impression of the keys. By the diligence of his friends, a similar

key, with a bundle of ropes, was introduced into the

prison, in the bottom of a hogshead. Andronicus employed, with industry and courage, the instruments of his safety, unlocked the doors, descended from the tower, concealed himself all day among the bushes, and scaled in the night the garden-wall of the palace. A boat was stationed for his reception: he visited his own house, embraced his children, cast away his chain, mounted a fleet horse, and directed his rapid course towards the banks of the Danube. At Anchialus in Thrace, an intrepid friend supplied him with horses and money: he passed the river, traversed with speed the desert of Moldavia and the Carpathian hills, and had almost reached the town of Halicz, in the Polish Russia, when he was intercepted by a party of Walachians, who resolved to convey their important captive to Constantinople. His presence of mind again extricated him from this danger. Under the pretence of sickness, he dismounted in the night, and was allowed to step aside from the troop: he planted in the ground his long staff; clothed it with his cap and upper garment; and, stealing into the wood, left a phantom to amuse, for some time, the eyes of the Walachians. From Halicz he was honourably con

ducted to Kiow, the residence of the great duke: the

subtle Greek soon obtained the esteem and confidence of Ieroslaus: his character could assume the manners of every climate; and the barbarians applauded his strength and courage in the chase of the elks and bears of the forest. In this northern region he de

served the forgiveness of Manuel, who solicited the
Russian prince to join his arms in the invasion of
Hungary. The influence of Andronicus achieved
this important service: his private treaty was signed
with a promise of fidelity on one side, and of oblivion
on the other; and he marched, at the head of the
Russian cavalry, from the Borysthenes to the Danube.
In his resentment Manuel had ever sympathised with
the martial and dissolute character of his cousin; and
his free pardon was sealed in the assault of Zemlin,
in which he was second, and second only, to the valour
of the emperor. - -
No sooner was the exile restored to freedom and
his country, than his ambition revived, at first to his
own, and at length to the public, misfortune. A
daughter of Manuel was a feeble bar to the succession
of the more deserving males of the Comnenian blood:
her future marriage with the prince of Hungary was
repugnant to the hopes or prejudices of the princes
and nobles. But when an oath of allegiance was
required to the presumptive heir, Andronicus alone
asserted the honour of the Roman name, declined the
unlawful engagement, and boldly protested against the
adoption of a stranger. His patriotism was offensive
to the emperor, but he spoke the sentiments of the
people, and was removed from the royal presence by
an honourable banishment, a second command of the
Cicilian frontier, with the absolute disposal of the
revenues of Cyprus. In this station the Armenians
again exercised his courage and exposed his negli-
gence; and the same rebel, who baffled all his opera-
tions, was unhorsed, and almost slain by the vigour
of his lance. But Andronicus soon discovered a more
easy and pleasing conquest, the beautiful Philippa,
sister of the empress Maria, and daughter of Ray-
mond of Poitou, the Latin prince of Antioch. For
her sake, he deserted his station, and wasted the


summer in balls and tournaments: to his love she sacrificed her innocence, her reputation, and the offer of an advantageous marriage. But the resentment of Manuel for this domestic affront interrupted his pleasures: Andronicus left the indiscreet princess to weep and to repent; and, with a band of desperate adventurers, undertook the pilgrimage of Jerusalem. His birth, his martial renown, and professions of zeal, announced him as the champion of the Cross; he soon captivated both the clergy and the king; and the Greek prince was invested with the lordship of Berytus, on the coast of Phoenicia. In his neighbourhood resided a young and handsome queen, of his own nation and family, great-grand-daughter of the emperor Alexis, and widow of Baldwin the third, king of Jerusalem. She visited and loved her kinsman. Theodora was the third victim of his amorous seduction; and her shame was more public and scandalous than that of her predecessors. The emperor still thirsted for revenge; and his subjects and allies of the Syrian frontier were repeatedly pressed to seize the person, and put out the eyes, of the fugitive. In Palestine he was no longer safe; but the tender Theodora revealed his danger, and accompanied his flight. The queen of Jerusalem was exposed to the East, his obsequious concubine; and two illegitimate children were the living monuments of her weakness. Damascus was his first refuge; and, in the characters of the great Noureddin and his servant Saladin, the superstitious Greek might learn to revere the virtues of the Musulmans. As the friend of Noureddin he visited, most probably, Bagdad, and the courts of Persia; and, after a long circuit round the Caspian sea and the mountains of Georgia, he finally settled among the Turks of Asia Minor, the hereditary enemies of his country. The sultan of Colonia afforded an hospitable retreat to Andronicus, his mistress, and

« ForrigeFortsett »