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Mahomet transports his navy over land.
It was difficult for the Greeks to penetrate the secret of the divan
yet the Greeks are persuaded that a resistance so obstinate and surprising nad fatigued the perseverance of Mahomet.
He began to meditate a retreat; and the siege would have been speedily raised, if the ambition and jealousy of the second vizir had not opposed the perfidious advice of Calil Bashaw, who stil! maintained a secret correspondence with the Byzantine court. The reduction of the city appeared to be hopeless, unless a double attack could be made from the harbour as well as from the land; but the harbour was inaccessible : an impenetrable chain was now defended by eight large ships, more than twenty of a smaller size, with several galleys and sloops; and, instead of forcing this barrier, the Turks might apprehend a naval sally and a second encounter in the open sea. In this perplexity the genius of Mahomet conceived and executed a plan of a bold and marvellous cast, of transporting by land his lighter vessels and military stores from the Bosphorus into the higher part of the harbour. The distance is about ten miles; the ground is uneven, and was overspread with thickets; and, as the road must be opened behind the suburb of Galata, their free passage or total destruction must depend on the option of the Genoese. But these selfish merchants were ambitious of the favour of being the last devoured, and the deficiency of art was supplied by the strength of obedient myriads. A level way was covered with a broad platform of strong and solid planks; and to render them more slippery and smooth, they were anointed with the fat of sheep and oxen. Fourscore light galleys and brigantines of fifty and thirty oars were disembarked on the Bosphorus shore, arranged successively on rollers, and drawn forwards by the power of men and pulleys. Two guides or pilots were stationed at the helm and the prow of each vessel : the sails were unfurled to the winds, and the labour was cheered by song and acclamation. In the course of a single night this Turkish fleet painfully climbed the hill, steered over the plain, and was launched from the declivity into the shallow waters of the harbour, far above the molestation of the deeper vessels of the Greeks. The real importance of this operation was magnified by the consternation and confidence which it inspired; but the notorious, unquestionable fact was displayed before the eyes, and is recorded by the pens, of the two nations. 48 A similar stratagem had been repeatedly practised by the ancients ; “o the Ottoman galleys
4. The unanimous testimony of the four Greeks is confirmed by Cantemir (p. 96 from the Turkish annals; but I could wish to contract the distance of ten miles, and to prolong the term of one night.
Phranza relates two examples of a similar transportation over the six miles of the
• Sis miles. Von Hammer.-M.
(I must again repeat) should be considered as large boats ; and, if we compare the magnitude and the distance, the obstacles and the means, the boasted miracle 50 has perhaps been equalled by the industry of our own times.51
as Mahomet had occupied the upper harbour with a fleet and army, he constructed in the narrowest part a bridge, or rather mole, of fifty cubits in breadth and one hundred in length: it was formed of casks and hogsheads, joined with rafters, linked with iron, and covered with a solid floor. On this floating battery he planted one of his largest cannon, while the fourscore galleys, with troops and scaling-ladders, approached the most accessible side, which had formerly been stormed by the Latin conquerors. The indolence of the Christians has been accused for not destroying these unfinished works; 6 but their fire, by a superior fire, was controlled and silenced; nor were they wanting in a nocturnal attempt to burn the vessels as well as the bridge of the sultan. His vigilance prevented their approach : their foremost galliots were sunk or taken ; forty youths, the bravest of Italy and Greece, were inhumanly massacred at his command ; nor could the emperor's grief be assuaged by the just though cruel retaliation of exposing from the walls the heads of two hundred and sixty Musulman captives. After Distress of a siege of forty days the fate of Constantinople could no the city. longer be averted. The diminutive garrison was exhausted by a double attack : the fortifications, which had stood for ages against hostile violence, were dismantled on all sides by the Ottoman cannon ; many breaches were opened, and near the gate of St. Romanus four towers had been levelled with the ground. For the payment of his feeble and mutinous troops, Constantine was compelled to despoil the churches with the promise of a fourfold restitution; and his sacrilege offered a new reproach to the enemies of the union. A spirit of discord impaired the remnant of the Christian strength : the Genoese and Venetian auxiliaries asserted the pre-eminence of their respective service; and Justiniani and the great duke, whose ambition was not
isthmus of Corinth; the one fabulous, of Augustus after the battle of Actium; the other true, of Nicetas, a Greek general in the xth century. To these he might havi added a bold enterprise of Hannibal to introduce his vessels into the harbour of Tarentum (Polybius, l. viii. [o. 36) p. 749, edit. Gronov.).*
so A Greek of Candia, who bad served the Venetians in a similar undertaking (Spond. A.D. 1438, No. 37), might possibly be the adviser and agent of Mahomet.
31 I particularly allude to our own embarkations on the lakes of Canada in the years 1776 and 1777, so great in the labour, so fruitless in the event.
Von Hammer gives a longer list of They were betrayed, according to such transportations, p. 533. Dion Case some accounts, by the Genoege of Galata. sius distinctly relates the occurrence Vou Hammer, p. 536.-M. treated as fabulous by Gibbon.-M.
Preparations of the Turks for the general Assault, Alay 29.
extinguished by the common danger, accused each other of treachery and cowardice. During the siege of Constantinople the words of peace and
capitulation had been sometimes pronounced ; and several embassies had passed between the camp and the city.52 The Greek emperor was humbled by adversity ; and would
have yielded to any terms compatible with religion and royalty The Turkish sultan was desirous of sparing the blood of his soldiers; still more desirous of securing for his own use the Byzantine treasures; and he accomplished a sacred duty in presenting to the Gabours the choice of circumcision, of tribute, or of death. The avarice of Mahomet might have been satisfied with an annual sum of one hundred thousand ducats; but his ambition grasped the capital of the East: to the prince he offered a rich equivalent, to the people a free toleration, or a safe departure : but after some fruitless treaty, he declared his resolution of finding either a throne or a grave under the walls of Constantinople. A sense of honour, and the fear of universal reproach, forbade Palæologus to resign the city into the hands of the Ottomans; and he determined to abide the last extremities of war. Several days were employed by the sultan in the preparations of the assault; and a respite was granted by his favourite science of astrology, which had fixed on the twenty-ninth of May as the fortunate and fatal hour. On the evening of the twenty-seventh he issued his final orders; assembled in his presence the military chiefs; and dispersed his heralds through the camp to proclaim the duty and the motives of the perilous enterprise. Fear is the first principle of a despotic government; and his menaces were expressed in the Oriental style, that the fugitives and deserters, had they the wings of a bird,53 should not escape from his inexorable justice. The
52 Chalcocondyles and Ducas differ in the time and circumstances of the negociation; and as it was neither glorious nor salutary, the faithful Phranza spares his prince even the thought of a surrender.
53 These wings (Chalcocondyles, 1. viii. p. 208 (p. 393, ed. Bonn]) are no more than an Oriental Egire: but in the tragedy of Irene Mahomet's passion Boars above sense and reason:
Should the fierce North, upon his frozen wings,
Thence should my fury drag him down to tortures. Besides the extravagance of the rant, I must observe, 1. That the operation of the winds must be confined to the lover region of the air. 2. That the name, etymology, and falle of the Pleiads are purely Greek (Scholiast ad Homer, 2. 686; Eudocia in Toniâ, p. 339; Apollodor. l. iii. c. 10; Heyne, p. 229; Not. 682), and had no affinity with the astronomy of the East (Hyde ad Ulugbeg, Tabul, in Syntagma Dissert. tom. i. p. 40, 42; Gogue, Origine des Arts, &c., tom. vi. p. 73-78; Gebelin, llist, dri Calendrier, p. 73), which Mahomet had studied. 3. The golden chariot does not exist either in science or fiction; but I much fear that Dr Johnson has
greatest part of his bashaws and Janizaries were the offspring of ' Christian parents : but the glories of the Turkish name were perpetuated by successive adoption; and in the gradual change of individuals, the spirit of a legion, a regiment, or an oda, is kept alive by imitation and discipline. In this holy warfare the Moslems were exhorted to purify their minds with prayer, their bodies with seven ablutions; and to abstain from food till the close of the ensuing day. A crowd of dervishes visited the tents, to instil the desire of martyrdom, and the assurance of spending an immortal youth amidst the rivers and gardens of paradise, and in the embraces of the black-eyed virgins. Yet Mahomet principally trusted to the efficacy of temporal and visible rewards. A double pay was promised to the victorious troops; “The city and the buildings,” said Mahomet, “are mine; “ but I resign to your valour the captives and the spoil, the treasures “ of gold and beauty ; be rich and be happy. Many are the provinces “ of my empire : the intrepid soldier who first ascends the walls of
Constantinople shall be rewarded with the government of the fairest “ and most wealthy; and my gratitude shall accumulate his honours “ and fortunes above the measure of his own hopes.” Such various and potent motives diffused among the Turks a general ardour, regardless of life and impatient for action : the camp re-echoed with the Moslem shouts of "God is God: there is but one God, and “ Mahomet is the apostle of God;” 54 and the sea and land, from Galata to the seven towers, were illuminated by the blaze of their nocturnal fires.
Far different was the state of the Christians; who, with loud and impotent complaints, deplored the guilt, or the punishment, of their sins. The celestial image of the Virgin had been well of the exposed in solemn procession; but their divine patroness and the was deaf to their entreaties: they accused the obstinacy of the emperor for refusing a timely surrender ; anticipated the horrors of their fate; and sighed for the repose and security of Turkish servitude. The noblest of the Greeks, and the bravest of the allies, were summoned to the palace, to prepare them, on the evening of the twenty-eighth, for the duties and dangers of the general assault.
confounded the Pleiads with the great bear or waggon, the zodiac with a northern constellation
'Αρκτον δ' ήν και άμαξαν τσίκλησιν καλίουσιν. ΙΙ. Σ. 487. 5* Phranza quarrels with these Moslem acclamations, not for the name of God, but for that of the prophet: the pious zeal of Voltaire is excessive, and even ridiculous.
• The picture is beightened by the interior of the city. Von Hammer, p. addition of the wailing cries of Kyrie 539.-M. eleeson, which were heard from the dark
The last speech of Palæologus was the funeral oration of the Roman empire : 55 he promised, he conjured, and he rainly attempted to infuse the hope which was extinguished in his own mind. In this world all was comfortless and gloomy; and neither the Gospel nor the church have proposed any conspicuous recompense to the heroes who fall in the service of their country. But the example of their prince, and the confinement of a siege, had armed these warriors with the courage of despair ; and the pathetic scene is described by the feelings of the historian Phranza, who was himself present at this mournful assembly. They wept, they embraced : regardless of their families and fortunes, they devoted their lives; and each commander, departing to his station, maintained all night a vigilant and anxious watch on the rampart. The emperor, and some faithful companions, entered the dome of St. Sophia, which in a few hours was to be converted into a mosque; and devoutly received, with tears and prayers, the sacrament of the holy communion. He reposed some moments in the palace, which resounded with cries and lamentations; solicited the pardon of all whom he might have injured ; 56 and mounted on horseback to visit the guards, and explore the motions of the enemy. The distress and fall of the last Constantine are more glorious than the long prosperity of the Byzantine Cæsars." In the confusion of darkness an assailant may sometimes succeed;
but in this great and general attack, the military judgment and astrological knowledge of Mahomet advised him to
expect the morning, the memorable twenty-ninth of May, in the fourteen hundred and fifty-third year of the Christian æra. The preceding night had been strenuously employed : the troops, the cannon, and the fascines were advanced to the edge of the ditch, which in many parts presented a smooth and level passage to the breach ; and his fourscore galleys almost touched, with the prows and their scaling ladders, the less defensible walls of the harbour. Under pain of death, silence was enjoined ; but the physical laws of motion and sound are not obedient to discipline or fear: each individual
The general assault,
56 I am afraid that this discourse was composed by Phranza himself; and it smells so grossly of the sermon and the convent, that I almost doubt whether it was pronounced by Constantine. Leonardus assigns him another speech, in which he addresses himself more respectfully to the Latin auxiliaries.
56 This abasement, which devotion has sometimes extorted from dying princes, is au improvement of the Gospel doctrine of the forgiveness of injuries: it is more easy to forgive 490 times than once to ask pardon of an inferior.
Compare the very curious Armenian p. 308). The author thus ends his poem:elegy on the fall of Constantinople, trang. "I Abraham, loaded with sins, have comlated by M. Boré, in the Journal Asiatique “posed this elegy with the most lively for March, 2835; and by M, Brosset, in sorrow; for I have seen Constantinople the new edition of Le Beau (tom. xxi. " in the days of its glory."-M,