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notorious, unquestionable fact was displayed before the eyes, and is recorded by the pens of the two nations."*
The day thus drew on in seeming chances and changes, even at that time incalculable by man, and still holding the character of “marvellous” in history, as the fatal hour was drawing nigh. But whenever the full period of preparation, measured by centuries and marked to a day, was just about to be accomplished, no obstacle intervened to retard or prevent the execution of the work of destruction. Europe could not, or did not, afford one crusade for the preservation of the last capital of the Roman empire, though it had sent forth seven for the recovery of a tomb. The spirit of the knights of Europe sunk within them, as if their proper clothing had been wool and not steel. The pope sent a legate to the emperor; but no army of Romans, in the hour of need, embarked anew from Brundusium to Byzantium. Nor did another Tamerlane arise, to stay, a second time, the fall of the imperial throne, as he before, " at the fatal moment," had checked a mightier conqueror, or more ferocious monster, than Mahomet II.
LONGER BE AVERTED.
“After a siege of forty days, the fate of Constantinople could NO
The diminutive garrison was exhausted by a double altack; 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.”+
There is a time and a tide, in the life of man and in the history of nations, which mortals often cannot forecast for a moment, but - which all lie naked and opened in the sight of the Eternal. So soon as the last day of the period of PREPARATION
* Gibbon's Hist. pp. 218, 220. 't Ibid. p, 221.
THE FATE OF
was come, the Turks had no fears, and the Greeks had no hopes. Though only a few days before Mahomet had begun to meditate a retreat, and the siege would have been speedily raised if the advice of the vizier had prevailed, and though till then it could not have been told by man but that the Turkish army was itself devoted to destruction, even as the Bosphorus had been so lately tainted with their blood, yet, after the fortieth day of the siege
CONSTANTINOPLE COULD NO LONGER BE AVERTED; and looking to this fact, no truth can be more plain than the seemingly impenetrable mystery which fools would scoff at; for on the first day after the fortieth day of the siege, the prophetic period of preparation expired.
The siege commenced on the 6th of April 1453. The fortieth day after which, was the 16th May ; and not a single day intervened till the period of preparation was complete ; for the ensuing day, the first on which the fute of Constantinople could no longer be averted, terminated the time for which the Turks were prepared for to slay the third part of
And within the space of one prophetic hour, or in less than fifteen days, (the twenty-fourth part of a single year, the last Roman emperor was slain, and a barbarian Turk was seated on the throne of the Cæsars, but not till after almost four hundred years had intervened from the time that the sword was put in the hands of the Sultan, and nearly the same period had elapsed since a Turkish king had set his
and his heart on the towers of Constantinople.
The short space from the close of the time of preparation to the work of slaughter, was partly occupied in abortive negotiation, and superstition had its share in the brief delay of the taking of the city. All treaty was in vain, the Turks were prepared to slay.
“During the siege of Constantinople, the words of peace and capitulation had been sonetimes pronounced ; and several embassies had passed between the camp and the city. 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 tribute 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 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 fast extremities of war. Several days were employed by the sultan in the preparations for 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 twentyseventh he issued his fatal orders, assembled in his presence the military chiess; and dispersed his heralds through the camp to proclaim the duty and the motives of the perilous enterprise."*
“Mahomet,” says Sir Paul Rycaut, “resolved to continue the siege. And thereupon gave full authority to Zoganus (the third bashaw) to appoint a day for a great and general assault to be given, resolving at once to engage all his forces upon the winning of the city. Which charge Žoganus gladly took upon him, and, with his good liking, appointed the 29th day of May for the general assault, being then the Tuesday next following.” |
“ 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 era. I After a siege of fifty-three days, Constantinople, which had defied the power of Chosroes, the Chagan and the Caliphs, was irretrievably subdued by the arms of Mahomet the Second.”
The work was that day executed for which the four Turkish sultanies, that were bound in the Eu. phrates and again loosed, had been so long prepared. The eastern empire of the Romans ceased; and an
* Gibbon's Hist. pp. 222, 223. See Appendix.
Sir P. Bryant's Turkish Hist. vol. 1. p. 234.
apostate church was punished. Constantinople was irretrievably subdued. “Her empire," says Gibbon, " was only subverted by the Latins; her religion was trampled in the dust by the Moslem conquerors."
The trumpet was also a woe. And the number of the ARMY OF THE HORSEMEN were two hundred thousand thousand, (duo muriades muriadon, most literally myriads of myriads; and I heard the number of them, v. 16. The English word myriad may be said to be adopted, rather than derived, from the Greek. And, as if Gibbon had borrowed the term from the Greek text, he thus announces the first irruption of the Turks into the Roman territories, in words which we here cannot but repeat—“The myriads of TURKISH HORSE overspread a frontier of six hundred miles from Tauris to Arzeroum, and the blood of one hundred and thirty thousand Christians was a grateful sacrifice to the Arabian prophet.” Thus began the second woe, under the form of an army of horsemen, the number of which was rated by myriads. The king of the north came with horsemen--the army of horsemen is here numbered. And originally without any foot soldiers, the Turkish army not only consisted exclusively of horsemen but of myriads of these. Other expressions used by Gibbon, some of which have already been incidentally introduced, have the same significancy. “The sultan, Togrul, marched at the head of an irresistible force of innumerable armies." “Two hundred thonsand soldiers marched under the banner of Alp Arsan." And, after the division of the Seljukian empire into four sultanies, “the hordes of Turkmans overspread the plains of western Asia.". On the surrender of Nice to the crusaders, (A.D. 1097) the Turkish emirs obeyed the call of loyalty and of religion ; the Turkmen hordes encamped round the standard of sultan Soliman, of the race of Seljuk, and “ his whole force is loosely stated by the Christians at two hundred, or even three hundred and sixty thousand horse.” When the Turks, after being bound were again loosed; "all the troops of Orchan consisted of loose squadrons of Turkman cavalry." "The whole mass of the Turkish powers" at the siege of Constantinople, " is magnified by Ducas, Chalcondyles, and Leonard of Chios, to the amount of three or four hundred thousand men ; but Phranza was a less remote and more accurate judge; and his precise definition of two hundred and fifty-eight thousand does not exceed the measure of experience and probability."*
And I saw the horses in the vision and them that sat on them, having breast-plates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone, and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions. The colour of fire is red, of hyacinth or jacinth blue, and of brimstone yellow, and this, as Mr. Daubuz observes, " has a literal accomplishment ; for the Othmans, from the first time of their appearance, have affected to wear such warlike apparel of scarlet, blue, and yellow. Of the Spahis particularly some have red and some have yellow standards, and others red or yellow mixed with other colours. In appearance, too, the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions, to denote their strength, courage, and fierceness.† Without rejecting so plausible an interpretation, the suggestion may not be unwarrantable, that a still closer and more direct exposition may be given of that which the prophet saw in the vision. In the prophetic description of the fall of Babylon, they who rode on horses are described as holding the bow and the lanee; but it was with other arms than the arrow and the spear that the Turkish warriors
* Gibbon's Hist. vol. xii.
203. Bishop Newton.