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memorable day he was adjudged to have borne away the prize of valour from the warriors of the two armies. His boundless ambition was founded on the consciousness of superior worth: in the pursuit of greatness, he was never arrested by the scruples of justice, and seldom moved by the feelings of humanity: though not insensible of fame, the choice of open or clandestine means was determined only by his present advantage. The surname of Guiscard* was applied to this master of political wisdom, which is too often confounded with the practice of dissimulation and deceit; and Robert is praised by the Apulian poet for excelling the cunning of Ulysses and the eloquence of Cicero.—Yet these arts were disguised by an appearance of military frankness: in his highest fortune he was accessible and courteous to his fellow soldiers; and while he indulged the prejudices of his new subjects, he affected in his dress and manner to maintain the ancient fashion of his country. He grasped with a rapacious, that he might distribute with a liberal, hand: his primitive indigence had taught the habits of frugality; the gain of a merchant was not below his attention; and his prisoners were tortured with slow and unfeeling cruelty to force a discovery of their secret treasure.— According to the Greeks, he departed from Normandy with only five followers on horseback and thirty on foot; yet even this allowance appears too bountiful: the sixth son of Tancred of Hau
• The Norman writers and editors most conversant with their own idiom, interpret Guiscard, or Wiscard, by Collidus, a cunning man.
teville passed the Alps as a pilgrim; and his first military band was levied among the adventurers of Italy. His brothers and countrymen had divided the fertile lands of Apulia; but they guarded their shares with the jealousy of avarice; the aspiring youth was driven forwards to the mountains of Calabria, and in his first exploits against the Greeks and the natives, it is not easy to discriminate the hero from the robber. To surprise a castle or a convent, to ensnare a wealthy citizen, to plunder the adjacent villages for necessary food, were the obscure labours which formed and exercised the powers of his mind and body. The volunteers of Normandy adhered to his standard; and, under his command, the peasants of Calabria assumed the name and character of Normans. Gibbon.
MAHMUD OF GAZNA.
From the paths of blood, and such is the history of nations, I cannot refuse to turn aside to gather some flowers of science or virtue. The name of Mahmud the Gaznevide is still venerable in the East: his subjects enjoyed the blessings of prosperity and peace; his vices were concealed by the veil of religion; and two familiar examples will testify his justice and magnanimity. I. As he sat in the divan, an unhappy subject bowed before the throne to accuse the insolence of a Turkish soldier who had driven him from his house and his bed. "Suspend your clamours," said Mahmud, " inform me of his next visit, and ourselves in person will judge and punish the offender." The sultan followed his guide, invested the house with his guards, and extinguishing the torches, pronounced the death of the criminal, who had been seized in the act of rapine and adultery. After the execution of his sentence the lights were rekindled, Mahmud fell prostrate in prayer, and rising from the ground, demanded some homely fare, which he devoured with the voraciousness of hunger. The poor man, whose injury he had avenged, was unable to suppress his astonishment and curiosity; and the courteous monarch condescended to explain the motive of this singular behaviour. "I had reason to suspect that none except one of my sons could dare to perpetrate such an outrage; and I extinguished the lights, that my justice might be blind and inexorable. My prayer was a thanksgiving on the discovery of the offender; and so painful was my anxiety, that I had passed three days without food, since the first moment of your complaint." II. The sultan of Gazna had declared war against the dynasty of the Bowides, the sovereigns of the western Persia: he was disarmed by an epistle of the sultana mother, and delayed his invasion till the manhood of her son. "During the life of my husband," said the artful regent, " I was ever apprehensive of your ambition: he was a prince and a soldier worthy of your arms. He is now no more; his sceptre has passed to a woman and child, and you dare not attack their infancy and weakness. How inglorious would be your conquest, how shameful your defeat! and yet the event of war is in the hand of the Almighty." Avarice was the only defect that tarnished the illustrious character of Mahmud; and never had that passion been more richly satiated. The orientals exceed the measure of credibility in the accounts of millions of gold and silver, such as the avidity of man has never accumulated; in the magnitude of pearls, diamonds, and rubies, such as never has been produced by the workmanship of nature. Yet the soil of Hindostan is impregnated with precious minerals; her trade, in every age, has attracted the gold and silver of the world; and her virgin spoils were rifled by the first of the Mahometan conquerors. His behaviour, in the last days of his life, evinces the vanity of these possessions, so laboriously won, so dangerously held, and so inevitably lost. He surveyed the vast and various chambers of the treasury of Gazna; burst into tears; and again closed the doors, without bestowing any portion of the wealth which he could no longer hope to preserve. The following day he reviewed the state of his military force; one hundred thousand foot, fifty-five thousand horse, and thirteen hundred elephants of battle. He again wept at the instability of human greatness; and his grief was imbittered by the hostile progress of the Turkmans, whom he had introduced into the heart of his Persian kingdom.
The appellation of Great has been often bestowed, and sometimes deserved, but Charlemagne is the only prince in whose favour the title has been indissolubly blended with the name. That name, with the addition of saint, is inserted in the Roman calendar; and the saint, by a rare felicity, is crowned with the praises of the historians and philosophers of an enlightened age. His real merit is doubtless enhanced by the barbarism of the nation and the times from which he emerged: but the apparent magnitude of an object is likewise enlarged by an unequal comparison; and the ruins of Palmyra derive a casual splendour from the nakedness of the surrounding desert. Without injustice to his fame I may discern some blemishes in the sanctity and greatness of the restorer of the western empire. Of his moral virtues, chastity is not the most conspicuous: but the public happiness could not be materially injured by his nine wives or concubines, the various indulgence of meaner or more transient amours, the multitude of his bastards whom he bestowed on the church, and the long celibacy and licentious manners of his daughters, whom the father was suspected of loving with too fond a passion. I shall be scarcely permitted to accuse the ambition of a conqueror; but in a day of equal retribution the sons of his brother Carloman, the Merovingian princes of Aquitain, and the four thousand five hundred Saxons who were beheaded on the same spot, would have something to allege against the justice and humanity of