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dates, but only to investigate them :--the more narrowly the better, and the nearer to the truth, even till it be defined, and touched, and handled on every side.
The whole period of preparation, as the reader must remember, was three hundred and ninety-six years, and one hundred and three days. Commencing in the year 1057, its expiry, within the period of a year, is a matter perfectly plain.
A. D. 1057
A. D. 1453
The accurate and learned Guignes, as he is repeatedly termed by Gibbon, who freely translates from his pages, referring to the authority of Bondari and d’Herbelot, states that the date of the entrance of Togrul Beg into Bagdad, and of his installation by the sultan, was the 25th of Dzoulcaada in the year of the Hegira 448.
The Hegira, or the flight, commenced on the night between the 15th and 16th of July, A. D. 622, or six hundred and twenty-one years, and one hundred and ninety-six years after the beginning of the Christian era. The Arabic, or Turkish, year is lunar, consisting of 354 days, in a cycle of 30 years, each cycle containing eleven intercalary or additional days. Dzoulcaada is the eleventh month of the Turkish year. And from the commencement of the Hegira to the 25th of that month, A. D. 448 (or the 3d of February 1057) comprehends the period of four hundred and thirty-four years, and two hundred and three days; while the prophetic period of preparation subsequent to the 25th of Dzoulcaada, A. D. 488, fills up the space from , the commencement of the Christian era to the ex
piry of the time during which the Turks were prepared to kill the third part of men. :
From the beginning of the Christian era to
the beginning of the Hegira From do, to the 25th of Dzoulcaada Prophetic period of preparation
The specification of the events and dates which close up the period during which the Turks were prepared for to slay the third part of men, and the clucidation of the subsequent predictions descriptive of the siege of Constantinople and the subversion of the eastern empire, may, as well as all their previous history, be left exclusively to Gibbon. Before closing his volumes, none serve the cause of truth in better, stead than the last, to which we would now appeal.
“Mahomet II. though the proudest of men, could stoop from ambition to the basest arts of dissimulation and deceit. Peace was in his lips while war was in his heart; he incessantly sighed for the possession of Constantinople; and the Greeks, by their own indiscretion, afforded the first pretence of the fatal rupture. Their ambassadors pursued his camp to demạnd the payment, and even the increase of their annual stipend. Mahomet assured them that he would redress the grievances of the Greeks. No sooner had he repassed the Hellespont than he issued a mandate to suppress their pension, and to expel their officers from the banks of the Strymon: in this measure he betrayed a hostile mind; and the second order announced, and in some degree commenced, the siege of Constantinople. In the narrow pass of the Bosphorus, an Asiatic fortress had formerly been raised by his grandfather; in the opposite situation, on the European side, he resolved to erect a more formidable castle;'and a thousand masons were commanded to assemble in the spring on a spot named Asomaton, about five miles from the Greek metropolis."*
The proposed erection of such a fortress on such a site appalled the inhabitants of the imperial city.
* Gibbon's Hist. chap. 68. vol. xii. 187—189.
But to the remonstrances of the ambassadors of the emperor, the haughty and indignant Turk, marking the change of time by a change of tone, as if he had cherished a presentiment of the work, which it lay unto his hand to do, replied,
“ Return, and inform your king, that the present Ottoman is far different from his predecessors; that his resolutions surpass their wishes ;
and that he performs more than they could resolve. Return in safety-but the next who delivers a similar message may expect to be flayed alive."*
“On the 26th March 1452, the appointed spot of Asomaton was covered with an active swarm of Turkish artificers, and the materials by sea and land were diligently transported from Europe and Asia. Each of the thousand masons was assisted by two workmen, &c. Mahomet himself pressed and directed the work with indefatigable ardour. The Greek emperor beheld with terror the irresistible progress of the work. Before the first of September the fortifications were completed. But the siege of Con. stantinople was deferred till the ensuing spring."|
In the storming of Jerusalem, as Josephus relates, à Roman soldier, by a divine impulse, threw a blazing brand into the temple, which was devoted to destruction, Alaric, as recorded by Gibbon, solemnly assevered, that he felt a secret and preternatural impulse, which directed, and even compelled, his march to the gates of Rome. And a kindred sentiment, when the divine word was about to be accomplished in an instancescarcely less conspicuous, does not seem to have been altogether a stranger to the breast of Mahomet the second, when his work too was to be done. The narration comes not from the pen of an enthusiast. Whatever passion may prevail
, or whatever spirit may rule in the hearts of men, He who is higher than the highest can declare it.
“ The Greeks and the Turks,” continues Gibbon, “passed an anxious and sleepless winter; the former were kept in awe by
* Gibbons Hist. chap. 68. vol. xii. p. 190.
their fears, the latter by their hopes. In Mahomet, that sentiment was inflamed by the ardour of his youth and temper. His serious thoughts were irrevocably bent on the conquest of the city of Cæsar. At the dead of night, about the second watch, he started from his bed, and commanded the instant attendance of his.prime vizier. On receiving the royal mandate, he embraced, perhaps for the last time, his wife and children ; filled a cup with pieces of gold, hastened to the palace, adored the sultan, and offered, according to the oriental custom, the slight tribute of his duty and gratitude. It is not my wish,” said Mahomet, to resume my gifts, but rather to heap and multiply them on thy head. In my turn I ask a present far more valuable and important-Constanti. nople.--See you this pillow ? all the night, in my agitation, I have pulled it on one side and on the other ; I have risen from my bed, again have I lain down; yet sleep has not visited these weary eyes. Beware of the gold and silver of the Romans ; in are superior; and, with the aid of God, and the prayers of the prophet, we shall speedily become masters of Constantinople. To sound the dispositions of his soldiers, be often wandered through the streets alone, and in disguise; and it was fatal to discover the sultan when he wished to escape from the vulgar eye. His hours were spent in delineating the plan of the hostile city; in debating with his generals and engineers on what spot he should erect his batteries ; on which side he should assault the walls; where he should spring his mines; to what place he should apply his scalingladders; and the exercises of the day repeated and proved the lucubrations of the night.")*
" While Mahomet threatened the capital of the East, the Greek emperor implored with fervent prayers the assistance of earth and heaven. But the invisible powers were deaf to his supplications; and Christendom beheld with indifference the fall of Constantinople. In the beginning of the spring, the Turkish vanguard swept the towns and villages as far'as the gates of Constantinople; submission was spared and protected; whatever presumed to resist was exterminated with fire and sword. On the approach of Mabomet himself, all was silent and prostrate : he first halted at the distance of five miles; and from thence advancing in battle array, planted before the gate of St. Romanus the imperiał standard, and on the sixth of April (1453), formed the memorable siege of Constantinople.”I
Human schemes are often abortive, and frequently display all want of affinity to the word of Him who changeth not. Constantinople had often before stood secure, when seemingly on the verge of ruin. It had hitherto defied Goths, Persians,
* Gibbons Hist. pp. 195–197.
Ibid. p. 200.
Avars, Saracens, and Turks. And after its last siege began, new doubts arose whether it would not once again be raised. A wooden turret of the largest size, from which incessant vollies were discharged, and by means of which chiefly the tower of St. Romanus was at length overturned, was rèduced to ashes in a night, and before the dawn, the tower of St. Romanus was again strong and entire. The sultan
" Deplored the failure of his design, and uttered a profane ex. clamation, that the word of thirty-seven thousand prophets should not have compelled him to believe that such a work, in so short a time, could have been accomplished by the infidels.”*
“ The situation of the imperial city was strong against her enemies, and accessible to her friends; and a rational and moderate armament of the maritime states might have saved the relics of the Roman name, and maintained a Christian fortress in the heart of the Ottoman empire.—Mahomet began to meditate a retreat, and the siege would have been speedily raised, if the ambition and jealousy of the second vizier, had not opposed the perfidious advice of Calil Bashaw, who still 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 ga Hies and sloops; and instead of forcing this barrier, the Turks might apprehend a naval sally, and a second encount in the open sea. plexity 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 of 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 upon the option of the Genoese. But these selfish merehanis were ambitious of the favour of being the last devoured; and the deficiency of art was supplied by the strength of obedient myriads. 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
In this per
* Gibbons Hist. p. 214.