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the exaggerations of a vanquished people. He Q H.A.P.
calculates, that a ball, even of two hundred pounds, would require a charge of one hundred and fifty pounds of powder; and that the stroke would be feeble and impotent, since not a fifteenth part of the mass could be inflamed at the same moment. A stranger as I am to the art of destruction, I can discern that the modern improvements of artillery prefer the number of pieces to the weight of metal; the
quickness of the fire to the sound, or even the conse
quence of a single explosion. Yet I dare not reject
sternation of the Turks. But that adventurous traveller docs not possess the art of gaining our confidence.
C H. A. P. LXVIII. *-yMahomet II. forms the siege of Constantinople. A. D. 1453, April 6.
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, while she derived at least some promise of supply from the jealous and temporal policy of the Sultan of Egypt. Some states were too weak, and others too remote; by some the danger was considered as imaginary, by others as inevitable. The Western princes were involved in their endless and domestic quarrels; and the Roman Pontiff was exasperated by the falsehood or obstinacy of the Greeks. Instead of employing in their favour the arms and treasures of Italy, Nicholas the Fifth had foretold their approaching ruin; and his honour was engaged in the accomplishment of his prophecy. Perhaps he was softened by the last extremity of their distress; but his compassion was tardy ; his efforts were faint and unavailing; and Constantinople had fallen, before the squadrons of Genoa and Venice could sail from their harbours ". Even the princes of the Morea and of the Greek islands affected a cold neutrality. The Genoese colony of Galatia negociated a private treaty ; and the Sultan indulged them in the delusive hope, that by his clemency they might survive the ruin of the em
- / pire. .
* Non audiwit, indignum ducens, says the honest Antoninus; but as the Roman court was afterwards grieved and ashamed, we find the more courtly expression of Platina, in animo fuisse pontifici juvare Graecos, and the positive assertion of AEneas Sylvius, structam classem. &c. (Spond. A. D. 1453, No. 3.).
pire. A plebeian crowd, and some Byzantine CHA.P.
nobles, basely withdrew from the danger of their country; and the avarice of the rich denied the Emperor, and reserved for the Turks, the secret treasures which might have raised in their defence whole armies of mercenaries *. The indigent and solitary prince prepared, however, to sustain his formidable adversary; but if his courage were equal to the peril, his strength was inadequate to the contest. 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. The Greek places on the Black Sea, Mesembria, Acheloum, and Bizon, surrendered on the first summons; Selybria alone deserved the honours of a siege or blockade; and the bold inhabitants, while they were invested by land, launched their boats, pillaged the opposite coast of Cyzicus, and sold their captives in the public market. But on the approach of Mahomet 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 Imperial standard; and, on the sixth day * Antonin. in Proem.—Epist. Cardinal. Isidor. apud Spon
danum; and Dr Johnson, in the tragedy of Irene, has happily
seized this characteristic circumstance :
day of April, formed the memorable siege of Con-
* The palatine troops are styled Copieuli, the provincials, Seratrul: ; and most of the names and institutions of the Turkish militia existed before the Canon Namth of Soliman II. from which, and his own experience, Count Marsigli has composed his military state of the Ottoman empire.
by Ducas, Chalcondyles, and Leonard of Chios, to c H.A. P.”
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”. The navy of the besiegers was less formidable; the Propontis was overspread with three hundred and twenty sail; but of these no more than eighteen could be rated as gallies of war; and the far greater part must be degraded to the condition of storeships and transports, which poured into the camp fresh supplies of men, ammunition, and provisions. In her last decay, Constantinople was still peopled with more than an hundred thousand inhabitants; but these numbers are found in the accounts, not of war, but of captivity; and they mostly consisted of mechanics, of priests, of women, and of men devoid of that spirit which even women have sometimes exerted for the common safety. I can suppose, I could almost excuse, the reluctance of subjects to serve on a distant frontier, at the will of a tyrant; but the man who dares not expose his life in the defence of his children and his property, has lost in society the first and most active energies of nature. By the Emperor's command, a particular inquiry had been made through the streets and houses, how many * The observation of Philelphus is approved by Cuspinian in the year 1508, (de Caesaribus, in Epilog. de Militiã Turcica, p. 697.). Marsigli proves, that the effective armies of the Turks are much less numerous than they appear. In the
army that besieged Constantinople, Leonardus Chiensis reckons no more than 15,000 Janizaries.
of the Greeks.