Infomotions, Inc.A Book of Golden Deeds / Yonge, Charlotte Mary, 1823-1901



Author: Yonge, Charlotte Mary, 1823-1901
Title: A Book of Golden Deeds
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Title: A Book of Golden Deeds

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A BOOK OF GOLDEN DEEDS

BY

CHARLOTTE M YONGE





CONTENTS



What is a Golden Deed?
The Stories of Alcestis and Antigone
The Cup of Water
How One Man has saved a Host
The Pass of Thermopylae
The Rock of the Capitol
The Two Friends of Syracuse
The Devotion of the Decii
Regulus
The brave Brethren of Judah
The Chief of the Arverni
Withstanding the Monarch in his Wrath
The last Fight in the Coliseum
The Shepherd Girl of Nanterre
Leo the Slave
The Battle of the Blackwater
Guzman el Bueno
Faithful till Death
What is better than Slaying a Dragon
The Keys of Calais
The Battle of Sempach
The Constant Prince
The Carnival of Perth
The Crown of St. Stephen
George the Triller
Sir Thomas More's Daughter
Under Ivan the Terrible
Fort St. Elmo
The Voluntary Convict
The Housewives of Lowenburg
Fathers and Sons
The Soldiers in the Snow
Gunpowder Perils
Heroes of the Plague
The Second of September
The Vendeans




PREFACE



As the most striking lines of poetry are the most hackneyed, because
they have grown to be the common inheritance of all the world, so many
of the most noble deeds that earth can show have become the best known,
and enjoyed their full meed of fame. Therefore it may be feared that
many of the events here detailed, or alluded to, may seem trite to those
in search of novelty; but it is not for such that the collection has
been made. It is rather intended as a treasury for young people, where
they may find minuter particulars than their abridged histories usually
afford of the soul-stirring deeds that give life and glory to the record
of events; and where also other like actions, out of their ordinary
course of reading, may be placed before them, in the trust that example
may inspire the spirit of heroism and self-devotion. For surely it must
be a wholesome contemplation to look on actions, the very essence of
which is such entire absorption in others that self is forgotten; the
object of which is not to win promotion, wealth, or success, but simple
duty, mercy, and loving-kindness. These are the actions wrought, 'hoping
for nothing again', but which most surely have their reward.

The authorities have not been given, as for the most [Page] part the
narratives lie on the surface of history. For the description of the
Coliseum, I have, however, been indebted to the Abbé Gerbet's Rome
Chrétienne; for the Housewives of Lowenburg, and St. Stephen's Crown, to
Freytag's Sketches of German Life; and for the story of George the
Triller, to Mr. Mayhew's Germany. The Escape of Attalus is narrated
(from Gregory of Tours) in Thierry's 'Lettres sur l'Histoire de France;'
the Russian officer's adventures, and those of Prascovia Lopouloff
<http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/yonge/deeds/pardon.html>, the
true Elisabeth of Siberia, are from M. le Maistre; the shipwrecks
chiefly from Gilly's 'Shipwrecks of the British Navy;' the Jersey Powder
Magazine from the Annual Registrer, and that at Ciudad Rodrigo, from the
traditions of the 52nd Regiment.

There is a cloud of doubt resting on a few of the tales, which it may be
honest to mention, though they were far too beautiful not to tell. These
are the details of the Gallic occupation of Rome, the Legend of St.
Genevieve, the Letter of Gertrude von der Wart, the stories of the Keys
of Calais, of the Dragon of Rhodes, and we fear we must add, both
Nelson's plan of the Battle of the Nile, and likewise the exact form of
the heroism of young Casabianca, of which no two accounts agree. But it
was not possible to give up such stories as these, and the thread of
truth there must be in them has developed into such a beautiful tissue,
that even if unsubstantial when tested, it is surely delightful to
contemplate.

Some stories have been passed over as too devoid of foundation, in
especial that of young Henri, Duke of Nemours, who, at ten years old,
was said to have been hung up with his little brother of eight in one of
Louis XI's cages at Loches, with orders that two of the children's teeth
should daily be pulled out and brought to the king. The elder child was
said to have insisted on giving the whole supply of teeth, so as to save
his brother; but though they were certainly imprisoned after their
father's execution, they were released after Louis's death in a
condition which disproves this atrocity.

The Indian mutiny might likewise have supplied glorious instances of
Christian self-devotion, but want of materials has compelled us to stop
short of recording those noble deeds by which delicate women and light-
hearted young soldiers showed, that in the hour of need there was not
wanting to them the highest and deepest 'spirit of self-sacrifice.'

At some risk of prolixity, enough of the surrounding events has in
general been given to make the situation comprehensible, even without
knowledge of the general history. This has been done in the hope that
these extracts may serve as a mother's storehouse for reading aloud to
her boys, or that they may be found useful for short readings to the
intelligent, though uneducated classes.

NOVEMBER 17, 1864.





WHAT IS A GOLDEN DEED?



We all of us enjoy a story of battle and adventure. Some of us delight
in the anxiety and excitement with which we watch the various strange
predicaments, hairbreadth escapes, and ingenious contrivances that are
presented to us; and the mere imaginary dread of the dangers thus
depicted, stirs our feelings and makes us feel eager and full of
suspense.

This taste, though it is the first step above the dullness that cannot
be interested in anything beyond its own immediate world, nor care for
what it neither sees, touches, tastes, nor puts to any present use, is
still the lowest form that such a liking can take. It may be no better
than a love of reading about murders in the newspaper, just for the sake
of a sort of startled sensation; and it is a taste that becomes
unwholesome when it absolutely delights in dwelling on horrors and
cruelties for their own sake; or upon shifty, cunning, dishonest
stratagems and devices. To learn to take interest in what is evil is
always mischievous.

But there is an element in many of such scenes of woe and violence that
may well account for our interest in them. It is that which makes the
eye gleam and the heart throb, and bears us through the details of
suffering, bloodshed, and even barbarity--feeling our spirits moved and
elevated by contemplating the courage and endurance that they have
called forth. Nay, such is the charm of brilliant valor, that we often
are tempted to forget the injustice of the cause that may have called
forth the actions that delight us. And this enthusiasm is often united
with the utmost tenderness of heart, the very appreciation of suffering
only quickening the sense of the heroism that risked the utmost, till
the young and ardent learn absolutely to look upon danger as an occasion
for evincing the highest qualities.


'O Life, without thy chequer'd scene
Of right and wrong, of weal and woe,
Success and failure, could a ground
For magnanimity be found?'


The true cause of such enjoyment is perhaps an inherent consciousness
that there is nothing so noble as forgetfulness of self. Therefore it is
that we are struck by hearing of the exposure of life and limb to the
utmost peril, in oblivion, or recklessness of personal safety, in
comparison with a higher object.

That object is sometimes unworthy. In the lowest form of courage it is
only avoidance of disgrace; but even fear of shame is better than mere
love of bodily ease, and from that lowest motive the scale rises to the
most noble and precious actions of which human nature is capable--the
truly golden and priceless deeds that are the jewels of history, the
salt of life.

And it is a chain of Golden Deeds that we seek to lay before our
readers; but, ere entering upon them, perhaps we had better clearly
understand what it is that to our mind constitutes a Golden Deed.

It is not mere hardihood. There was plenty of hardihood in Pizarro when
he led his men through terrible hardships to attack the empire of Peru,
but he was actuated by mere greediness for gain, and all the perils he
so resolutely endured could not make his courage admirable. It was
nothing but insensibility to danger, when set against the wealth and
power that he coveted, and to which he sacrificed thousands of helpless
Peruvians. Daring for the sake of plunder has been found in every
robber, every pirate, and too often in all the lower grade of warriors,
from the savage plunderer of a besieged town up to the reckless monarch
making war to feed his own ambition.

There is a courage that breaks out in bravado, the exuberance of high
spirits, delighting in defying peril for its own sake, not indeed
producing deeds which deserve to be called golden, but which, from their
heedless grace, their desperation, and absence of all base motives--
except perhaps vanity have an undeniable charm about them, even when we
doubt the right of exposing a life in mere gaiety of heart.

Such was the gallantry of the Spanish knight who, while Fernando and
Isabel lay before the Moorish city of Granada, galloped out of the camp,
in full view of besiegers and besieged, and fastened to the gate of the
city with his dagger a copy of the Ave Maria. It was a wildly brave
action, and yet not without service in showing the dauntless spirit of
the Christian army. But the same can hardly be said of the daring shown
by the Emperor Maximilian when he displayed himself to the citizens of
Ulm upon the topmost pinnacle of their cathedral spire; or of Alonso de
Ojeda, who figured in like manner upon the tower of the Spanish
cathedral. The same daring afterwards carried him in the track of
Columbus, and there he stained his name with the usual blots of rapacity
and cruelty. These deeds, if not tinsel, were little better than gold
leaf.

A Golden Deed must be something more than mere display of fearlessness.
Grave and resolute fulfillment of duty is required to give it the true
weight. Such duty kept the sentinel at his post at the gate of Pompeii,
even when the stifling dust of ashes came thicker and thicker from the
volcano, and the liquid mud streamed down, and the people fled and
struggled on, and still the sentry stood at his post, unflinching, till
death had stiffened his limbs; and his bones, in their helmet and
breastplate, with the hand still raised to keep the suffocating dust
from mouth and nose, have remained even till our own times to show how a
Roman soldier did his duty. In like manner the last of the old Spanish
infantry originally formed by the Great Captain, Gonzalo de Cordova,
were all cut off, standing fast to a man, at the battle of Rocroy, in
1643, not one man breaking his rank. The whole regiment was found lying
in regular order upon the field of battle, with their colonel, the old
Count de Fuentes, at their head, expiring in a chair, in which he had
been carried, because he was too infirm to walk, to this his twentieth
battle. The conqueror, the high-spirited young Duke d'Enghien,
afterwards Prince of Condé, exclaimed, 'Were I not a victor, I should
have wished thus to die!' and preserved the chair among the relics of
the bravest of his own fellow countrymen.

Such obedience at all costs and all risks is, however, the very essence
of a soldier's life. An army could not exist without it, a ship could
not sail without it, and millions upon millions of those whose 'bones
are dust and good swords are rust' have shown such resolution. It is the
solid material, but it has hardly the exceptional brightness, of a
Golden Deed.

And yet perhaps it is one of the most remarkable characteristics of a
Golden Deed that the doer of it is certain to feel it merely a duty; 'I
have done that which it was my duty to do' is the natural answer of
those capable of such actions. They have been constrained to them by
duty, or by pity; have never even deemed it possible to act otherwise,
and did not once think of themselves in the matter at all.

For the true metal of a Golden Deed is self-devotion. Selfishness is the
dross and alloy that gives the unsound ring to many an act that has been
called glorious. And, on the other hand, it is not only the valor, which
meets a thousand enemies upon the battlefield, or scales the walls in a
forlorn hope, that is of true gold. It may be, but often it is a mere
greed of fame, fear of shame, or lust of plunder. No, it is the spirit
that gives itself for others--the temper that for the sake of religion,
of country, of duty, of kindred, nay, of pity even to a stranger, will
dare all things, risk all things, endure all things, meet death in one
moment, or wear life away in slow, persevering tendance and suffering.

Such a spirit was shown by Leaena, the Athenian woman at whose house the
overthrow of the tyranny of the Pisistratids was concerted, and who,
when seized and put to the torture that she might disclose the secrets
of the conspirators, fearing that the weakness of her frame might
overpower her resolution, actually bit off her tongue, that she might be
unable to betray the trust placed in her. The Athenians commemorated her
truly golden silence by raising in her honor the statue of a lioness
without a tongue, in allusion to her name, which signifies a lioness.

Again, Rome had a tradition of a lady whose mother was in prison under
sentence of death by hunger, but who, at the peril of her own life,
visited her daily, and fed her from her own bosom, until even the stern
senate were moved with pity, and granted a pardon. The same story is
told of a Greek lady, called Euphrasia, who thus nourished her father;
and in Scotland, in 1401, when the unhappy heir of the kingdom, David,
Duke of Rothesay, had been thrown into the dungeon of Falkland Castle by
his barbarous uncle, the Duke of Albany, there to be starved to death,
his only helper was one poor peasant woman, who, undeterred by fear of
the savage men that guarded the castle, crept, at every safe
opportunity, to the grated window on a level with the ground, and
dropped cakes through it to the prisoner, while she allayed his thirst
from her own breast through a pipe. Alas! the visits were detected, and
the Christian prince had less mercy than the heathen senate. Another
woman, in 1450, when Sir Gilles of Brittany was savagely imprisoned and
starved in much the same manner by his brother, Duke François, sustained
him for several days by bringing wheat in her veil, and dropping it
through the grated window, and when poison had been used to hasten his
death, she brought a priest to the grating to enable him to make his
peace with Heaven. Tender pity made these women venture all things; and
surely their doings were full of the gold of love.

So again two Swiss lads, whose father was dangerously ill, found that
they could by no means procure the needful medicine, except at a price
far beyond their means, and heard that an English traveler had offered a
large price for a pair of eaglets. The only eyrie was on a crag supposed
to be so inacessible, that no one ventured to attempt it, till these
boys, in their intense anxiety for their father, dared the fearful
danger, scaled the precipice, captured the birds, and safely conveyed
them to the traveler. Truly this was a deed of gold.

Such was the action of the Russian servant whose master's carriage was
pursued by wolves, and who sprang out among the beasts, sacrificing his
own life willingly to slake their fury for a few minutes in order that
the horses might be untouched, and convey his master to a place of
safety. But his act of self-devotion has been so beautifully expanded in
the story of 'Eric's Grave', in 'Tales of Christian Heroism', that we
can only hint at it, as at that of the 'Helmsman of Lake Erie', who,
with the steamer on fire around him, held fast by the wheel in the very
jaws of the flame, so as to guide the vessel into harbour, and save the
many lives within her, at the cost of his own fearful agony, while
slowly scorched by the flames.

Memorable, too, was the compassion that kept Dr. Thompson upon the
battlefield of the Alma, all alone throughout the night, striving to
alleviate the sufferings and attend to the wants, not of our own
wounded, but of the enemy, some of whom, if they were not sorely belied,
had been known to requite a friendly act of assistance with a pistol
shot. Thus to remain in the darkness, on a battlefield in an enemy's
country, among the enemy themselves, all for pity and mercy's sake, was
one of the noblest acts that history can show. Yet, it was paralleled in
the time of the Indian Mutiny, when every English man and woman was
flying from the rage of the Sepoys at Benares, and Dr. Hay alone
remained because he would not desert the patients in the hospital, whose
life depended on his care--many of them of those very native corps who
were advancing to massacre him. This was the Roman sentry's firmness,
more voluntary and more glorious. Nor may we pass by her to whom our
title page points as our living type of Golden Deeds--to her who first
showed how woman's ministrations of mercy may be carried on, not only
within the city, but on the borders of the camp itself--'the lady with
the lamp', whose health and strength were freely devoted to the holy
work of softening the after sufferings that render war so hideous; whose
very step and shadow carried gladness and healing to the sick soldier,
and who has opened a path of like shining light to many another woman
who only needed to be shown the way. Fitly, indeed, may the figure of
Florence Nightingale be shadowed forth at the opening of our roll of
Golden Deeds.

Thanks be to God, there is enough of His own spirit of love abroad in
the earth to make Golden Deeds of no such rare occurrence, but that they
are of 'all time'. Even heathen days were not without them, and how much
more should they not abound after the words have been spoken, 'Greater
love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friend',
and after the one Great Deed has been wrought that has consecrated all
other deeds of self-sacrifice. Of martyrdoms we have scarcely spoken.
They were truly deeds of the purest gold; but they are too numerous to
be dwelt on here: and even as soldiers deem it each man's simple duty to
face death unhesitatingly, so the 'glorious army of martyrs' had, for
the most part, joined the Church with the expectation that they should
have to confess the faith, and confront the extremity of death and
torture for it.

What have been here brought together are chiefly cases of self-devotion
that stand out remarkably, either from their hopelessness, their
courage, or their patience, varying with the character of their age; but
with that one essential distinction in all, that the dross of self was
cast away.

Among these we cannot forbear mentioning the poor American soldier, who,
grievously wounded, had just been laid in the middle bed, by far the
most comfortable of the three tiers of berths in the ship's cabin in
which the wounded were to be conveyed to New York. Still thrilling with
the suffering of being carried from the field, and lifted to his place,
he saw a comrade in even worse plight brought in, and thinking of the
pain it must cost his fellow soldier to be raised to the bed above him,
he surprised his kind lady nurses (daily scatterers of Golden Deeds) by
saying, 'Put me up there, I reckon I'll bear hoisting better than he
will'.

And, even as we write, we hear of an American Railway collision that
befell a train on the way to Elmira with prisoners. The engineer, whose
name was William Ingram, might have leapt off and saved himself before
the shock; but he remained in order to reverse the engine, though with
certain death staring him in the face. He was buried in the wreck of the
meeting train, and when found, his back was against the boiler he was
jammed in, unable to move, and actually being burnt to death; but even
in that extremity of anguish he called out to those who came round to
help him to keep away, as he expected the boiler would burst. They
disregarded the generous cry, and used every effort to extricate him,
but could not succeed until after his sufferings had ended in death.

While men and women still exist who will thus suffer and thus die,
losing themselves in the thought of others, surely the many forms of woe
and misery with which this earth is spread do but give occasions of
working out some of the highest and best qualities of which mankind are
capable. And oh, young readers, if your hearts burn within you as you
read of these various forms of the truest and deepest glory, and you
long for time and place to act in the like devoted way, bethink
yourselves that the alloy of such actions is to be constantly worked
away in daily life; and that if ever it be your lot to do a Golden Deed,
it will probably be in unconsciousness that you are doing anything
extraordinary, and that the whole impulse will consist in the having
absolutely forgotten self.




THE STORIES OF ALCESTIS AND ANTIGONE



It has been said, that even the heathens saw and knew the glory of self-
devotion; and the Greeks had two early instances so very beautiful that,
though they cannot in all particulars be true, they must not be passed
over. There must have been some foundation for them, though we cannot
now disentangle them from the fable that has adhered to them; and, at
any rate, the ancient Greeks believed them, and gathered strength and
nobleness from dwelling on such examples; since, as it has been truly
said, 'Every word, look or thought of sympathy with heroic action, helps
to make heroism'. Both tales were presented before them in their solemn
religious tragedies, and the noble poetry in which they were recounted
by the great Greek dramatists has been preserved to our time.

Alcestis was the wife of Admetus, King of Pherae, who, according to the
legend, was assured that his life might be prolonged, provided father,
mother, or wife would die in his stead. It was Alcestis alone who was
willing freely to give her life to save that of her husband; and her
devotion is thus exquisitely described in the following translation, by
Professor Anstice, from the choric song in the tragedy by Euripides:


'Be patient, for thy tears are vain
They may not wake the dead again:
E'en heroes, of immortal sire
And mortal mother born, expire.
    Oh, she was dear
    While she linger'd here;
She is dear now she rests below,
    And thou mayst boast
    That the bride thou hast lost
Was the noblest earth can show.

'We will not look on her burial sod
  As the cell of sepulchral sleep,
It shall be as the shrine of a radiant god,
And the pilgrim shall visit that blest abode
  To worship, and not to weep;
And as he turns his steps aside,
  Thus shall he breathe his vow:
'Here sleeps a self-devoted bride,
Of old to save her lord she died.
    She is a spirit now.

Hail, bright and blest one! grant to me
The smiles of glad prosperity.'
Thus shall he own her name divine,
Thus bend him at Alcestis' shrine.'


The story, however, bore that Hercules, descending in the course of one
of his labors into the realms of the dead, rescued Alcestis, and brought
her back; and Euripides gives a scene in which the rough, jovial
Hercules insists on the sorrowful Admetus marrying again a lady of his
own choice, and gives the veiled Alcestis back to him as the new bride.
Later Greeks tried to explain the story by saying that Alcestis nursed
her husband through an infectious fever, caught it herself, and had been
supposed to be dead, when a skilful physician restored her; but this is
probably only one of the many reasonable versions they tried to give of
the old tales that were founded on the decay and revival of nature in
winter and spring, and with a presage running through them of sacrifice,
death, and resurrection. Our own poet Chaucer was a great admirer of
Alcestis, and improved upon the legend by turning her into his favorite
flower---


'The daisie or els the eye of the daie,
The emprise and the floure of flouris all'.


Another Greek legend told of the maiden of Thebes, one of the most self-
devoted beings that could be conceived by a fancy untrained in the
knowledge of Divine Perfection. It cannot be known how much of her story
is true, but it was one that went deep into the hearts of Grecian men
and women, and encouraged them in some of their best feelings; and
assuredly the deeds imputed to her were golden.

Antigone was the daughter of the old King Oedipus of Thebes. After a
time heavy troubles, the consequence of the sins of his youth, came upon
him, and he was driven away from his kingdom, and sent to wander forth a
blind old man, scorned and pointed at by all. Then it was that his
faithful daughter showed true affection for him. She might have remained
at Thebes with her brother Eteocles, who had been made king in her
father's room, but she chose instead to wander forth with the forlorn
old man, fallen from his kingly state, and absolutely begging his bread.
The great Athenian poet Sophocles began his tragedy of 'Oedipus
Coloneus' with showing the blind old king leaning on Antigone's arm, and
asking--


'Tell me, thou daughter of a blind old man,
Antigone, to what land are we come,
Or to what city? Who the inhabitants
Who with a slender pittance will relieve
Even for a day the wandering Oedipus?'
                                  POTTER.


The place to which they had come was in Attica, hear the city of
Colonus. It was a lovely grove--


'All the haunts of Attic ground,
Where the matchless coursers bound,
Boast not, through their realms of bliss,
Other spot so fair as this.
Frequent down this greenwood dale
Mourns the warbling nightingale,
Nestling 'mid the thickest screen
Of the ivy's darksome green,
Or where each empurpled shoot
Drooping with its myriad fruit,
Curl'd in many a mazy twine,
Droops the never-trodden vine.'
                           ANSTICE.


This beautiful grove was sacred to the Eumenides, or avenging goddesses,
and it was therefore a sanctuary where no foot might tread; but near it
the exiled king was allowed to take up his abode, and was protected by
the great Athenian King, Theseus. There his other daughter, Ismene,
joined him, and, after a time, his elder son Polynices, arrived.

Polynices had been expelled from Thebes by his brother Eteocles, and had
been wandering through Greece seeking aid to recover his rights. He had
collected an army, and was come to take leave of his father and sisters;
and at the same time to entreat his sisters to take care that, if he
should fall in the battle, they would prevent his corpse from being left
unburied; for the Greeks believed that till the funeral rites were
performed, the spirit went wandering restlessly up and down upon the
banks of a dark stream, unable to enter the home of the dead.  Antigone
solemnly promised to him that he should not be left without these last
rites. Before long, old Oedipus was killed by lightning, and the two
sisters returned to Thebes.

The united armies of the seven chiefs against Thebes came on, led by
Polynices. Eteocles sallied out to meet them, and there was a terrible
battle, ending in all the seven chiefs being slain, and the two
brothers, Eteocles and Polynices, were killed by one another in single
combat. Creon, the uncle, who thus became king, had always been on the
side of Eteocles, and therefore commanded that whilst this younger
brother was entombed with all due solemnities, the body of the elder
should be left upon the battlefield to be torn by dogs and vultures, and
that whosoever durst bury it should be treated as a rebel and a traitor
to the state.

This was the time for the sister to remember her oath to her dead
brother. The more timid Ismene would have dissuaded her, but she
answered,


'To me no sufferings have that hideous form
Which can affright me from a glorious death'.


And she crept forth by night, amid all the horrors of the deserted field
of battles, and herself covered with loose earth the corpse of
Polynices. The barbarous uncle caused it to be taken up and again
exposed, and a watch was set at some little distance. Again Antigone


'Was seen, lamenting shrill with plaintive notes,
Like the poor bird that sees her lonely nest
           Spoil'd of her young'.


Again she heaped dry dust with her own hands over the body, and poured
forth the libations of wine that formed an essential part of the
ceremony. She was seized by the guard, and led before Creon. She boldly
avowed her deed, and, in spite of the supplications of Ismene, she was
put to death, a sufferer for her noble and pious deeds; and with this
only comfort:


        'Glowing at my heart
I feel this hope, that to my father, dear
And dear to thee, my mother, dear to thee,
My brother, I shall go.'
                                     POTTER.


Dim and beautiful indeed was the hope that upbore the grave and
beautiful Theban maiden; and we shall see her resolution equaled, though
hardly surpassed, by Christian Antigones of equal love and surer faith.




THE CUP OF WATER



No touch in the history of the minstrel king David gives us a more warm
and personal feeling towards him than his longing for the water of the
well of Bethlehem. Standing as the incident does in the summary of the
characters of his mighty men, it is apt to appear to us as if it had
taken place in his latter days; but such is not the case, it befell
while he was still under thirty, in the time of his persecution by Saul.

It was when the last attempt at reconciliation with the king had been
made, when the affectionate parting with the generous and faithful
Jonathan had taken place, when Saul was hunting him like a partridge on
the mountains on the one side, and the Philistines had nearly taken his
life on the other, that David, outlawed, yet loyal at the heart, sent
his aged parents to the land of Moab for refuge, and himself took up his
abode in the caves of the wild limestone hills that had become familiar
to him when he was a shepherd. Brave captain and Heaven-destined king as
he was, his name attracted around him a motley group of those that were
in distress, or in debt, or discontented, and among them were the
'mighty men' whose brave deeds won them the foremost parts in that army
with which David was to fulfill the ancient promises to his people.
There were his three nephews, Joab, the ferocious and imperious, the
chivalrous Abishai, and Asahel the fleet of foot; there was the warlike
Levite Benaiah, who slew lions and lionlike men, and others who, like
David himself, had done battle with the gigantic sons of Anak. Yet even
these valiant men, so wild and lawless, could be kept in check by the
voice of their young captain; and, outlaws as they were, they spoiled no
peaceful villages, they lifted not their hands against the persecuting
monarch, and the neighboring farms lost not one lamb through their
violence. Some at least listened to the song of their warlike minstrel:


'Come, ye children, and hearken to me,
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
What man is he that lusteth to live,
And would fain see good days?
Let him refrain his tongue from evil
And his lips that they speak no guile,
Let him eschew evil and do good,
Let him seek peace and ensue it.'


With such strains as these, sung to his harp, the warrior gained the
hearts of his men to enthusiastic love, and gathered followers on all
sides, among them eleven fierce men of Gad, with faces like lions and
feet swift as roes, who swam the Jordan in time of flood, and fought
their way to him, putting all enemies in the valleys to flight.

But the Eastern sun burnt on the bare rocks. A huge fissure, opening in
the mountain ridge, encumbered at the bottom with broken rocks, with
precipitous banks, scarcely affording a foothold for the wild goats---
such is the spot where, upon a cleft on the steep precipice, still
remain the foundations of the 'hold', or tower, believed to have been
the David's retreat, and near at hand is the low-browed entrance of the
galleried cave alternating between narrow passages and spacious halls,
but all oppressively hot and close. Waste and wild, without a bush or a
tree, in the feverish atmosphere of Palestine, it was a desolate region,
and at length the wanderer's heart fainted in him, as he thought of his
own home, with its rich and lovely terraced slopes, green with wheat,
trellised with vines, and clouded with grey olive, and of the cool
cisterns of living water by the gate of which he loved to sing--


'He shall feed me in a green pasture,
And lead me forth beside the waters of comfort'.


His parched longing lips gave utterance to the sigh, 'Oh that one would
give me to drink of the water of the well of Bethlehem that is by the
gate?'

Three of his brave men, apparently Abishai, Benaiah, and Eleazar, heard
the wish.  Between their mountain fastness and the dearly loved spring
lay the host of the Philistines; but their love for their leader feared
no enemies. It was not only water that he longed for, but the water from
the fountain which he had loved in his childhood. They descended from
their chasm, broke through the midst of the enemy's army, and drew the
water from the favorite spring, bearing it back, once again through the
foe, to the tower upon the rock! Deeply moved was their chief at this
act of self-devotion--so much moved that the water seemed to him to be
too sacred to be put to his own use. 'May God forbid it me that I should
do this thing. Shall I drink the blood of these men that have put their
lives in jeopardy, for with the jeopardy of their lives they brought
it?' And as a hallowed and precious gift, he poured out unto the Lord
the water obtained at the price of such peril to his followers.

In later times we meet with another hero, who by his personal qualities
inspired something of the same enthusiastic attachment as did David, and
who met with an adventure somewhat similar, showing the like nobleness
of mind on the part of both leader and followers.

It was Alexander of Macedon, whose character as a man, with all its dark
shades of violence, rage, and profanity, has a nobleness and sweetness
that win our hearts, while his greatness rests on a far broader basis
than that of his conquests, though they are unrivalled. No one else so
gained the love of the conquered, had such wide and comprehensive views
for the amelioration of the world, or rose so superior to the prejudice
of race; nor have any ten years left so lasting a trace upon the history
of the world as those of his career.

It is not, however, of his victories that we are here to speak, but of
his return march from the banks of the Indus, in BC 326, when he had
newly recovered from the severe wound which he had received under the
fig tree, within the mud wall of the city of the Malli. This expedition
was as much the expedition of a discoverer as the journey of a
conqueror: and, at the mouth of the Indus, he sent his ships to survey
the coasts of the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf, while he himself
marched along the shore of the province, then called Gedrosia, and now
Mekhran. It was a most dismal tract. Above towered mountains of reddish-
brown bare stone, treeless and without verdure, the scanty grass
produced in the summer being burnt up long before September, the month
of his march; and all the slope below was equally desolate slopes of
gravel. The few inhabitants were called by the Greeks fish-eaters and
turtle-eaters, because there was apparently, nothing else to eat; and
their huts were built of turtle shells.

The recollections connected with the region were dismal. Semiramis and
Cyrus were each said to have lost an army there through hunger and
thirst; and these foes, the most fatal foes of the invader, began to
attack the Greek host. Nothing but the discipline and all-pervading
influence of Alexander could have borne his army through. Speed was
their sole chance; and through the burning sun, over the arid rock, he
stimulated their steps with his own high spirit of unshrinking
endurance, till he had dragged them through one of the most rapid and
extraordinary marches of his wonderful career. His own share in their
privations was fully and freely taken; and once when, like the rest, he
was faint with heat and deadly thirst, a small quantity of water, won
with great fatigue and difficulty, was brought to him, he esteemed it
too precious to be applied to his own refreshment, but poured it forth
as a libation, lest, he said, his warriors should thirst the more when
they saw him drink alone; and, no doubt, too, because he felt the
exceeding value of that which was purchased by loyal love.
A like story is told of Rodolf of Hapsburgh, the founder of the
greatness of Austria, and one of the most open-hearted of men. A flagon
of water was brought to him when his army was suffering from severe
drought. 'I cannot,' he said, 'drink alone, nor can all share so small a
quantity. I do not thirst for myself, but for my whole army.'

Yet there have been thirsty lips that have made a still more trying
renunciation. Our own Sir Philip Sidney, riding back, with the mortal
hurt in his broken thigh, from the fight at Zutphen, and giving the
draught from his own lips to the dying man whose necessities were
greater than his own, has long been our proverb for the giver of that
self-denying cup of water that shall by no means lose its reward.

A tradition of an act of somewhat the same character survived in a
Slesvig family, now extinct. It was during the wars that ranged from
1652 to 1660, between Frederick III of Denmark and Charles Gustavus of
Sweden, that, after a battle, in which the victory had remained with the
Danes, a stout burgher of Flensborg was about to refresh himself, ere
retiring to have his wounds dressed, with a draught of beer from a
wooden bottle, when an imploring cry from a wounded Swede, lying on the
field, made him turn, and, with the very words of Sidney, 'Thy need is
greater than mine,' he knelt down by the fallen enemy, to pour the
liquor into his mouth. His requital was a pistol shot in the shoulder
from the treacherous Swede. 'Rascal,' he cried, 'I would have befriended
you, and you would murder me in return! Now I will punish you. I would
have given you the whole bottle; but now you shall have only half.' And
drinking off half himself, he gave the rest to the Swede. The king,
hearing the story, sent for the burgher, and asked him how he came to
spare the life of such a rascal.

'Sire,' said the honest burgher, 'I could never kill a wounded enemy.'

'Thou meritest to be a noble,' the king said, and created him one
immediately, giving him as armorial bearings a wooden bottle pierced
with an arrow! The family only lately became extinct in the person of an
old maiden lady.




HOW ONE MAN HAS SAVED A HOST

B.C. 507



There have been times when the devotion of one man has been the saving
of an army. Such, according to old Roman story, was the feat of Horatius
Cocles. It was in the year B.C. 507, not long after the kings had been
expelled from Rome, when they were endeavoring to return by the aid of
the Etruscans. Lars Porsena, one of the great Etruscan chieftains, had
taken up the cause of the banished Tarquinius Superbus and his son
Sextus, and gathered all his forces together, to advance upon the city
of Rome. The great walls, of old Etrurian architecture, had probably
already risen round the growing town, and all the people came flocking
in from the country for shelter there; but the Tiber was the best
defense, and it was only crossed by one wooden bridge, and the farther
side of that was guarded by a fort, called the Janiculum. But the
vanguards of the overwhelming Etruscan army soon took the fort, and
then, in the gallant words of Lord Macaulay's ballad,--


'Thus in all the Senate
  There was no heart so bold
But sore it ached, and fast it beat,
  When that ill news was told.
Forthwith uprose the Consul,
  Up rose the Fathers all,
In haste they girded up their gowns,
  And hied them to the wall.

'They held a council standing
  Before the River Gate:
Short time was there, ye well may guess,
  For musing or debate.
Out spoke the Consul roundly,
  'The bridge must straight go down,
For, since Janiculum is lost,
  Nought else can save the town.'

'Just then a scout came flying,
  All wild with haste and fear:
'To arms! To arms! Sir Consul,
  Lars Porsena is here.'
On the low hills to westward
  The Consul fixed his eye,
And saw the swarthy storm of dust
  Rise fast along the sky.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

'But the Consul's brow was sad,
  And the Consul's speech was low,
And darkly looked he at the wall,
  And darkly at the foe.
'Their van will be upon us
  Before the bridge goes down;
And if they once may win the bridge
  What hope to save the town?'

'Then out spoke brave Horatius,
  The Captain of the Gate,
'To every man upon this earth
  Death cometh soon or late;
And how can man die better
  Than facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of his fathers,
  And the temples of his gods?

'And for the tender mother
  Who dandled him to rest,
And for the wife who nurses
  His baby at her breast?
And for the holy maidens
  Who feed the eternal flame,
To save them from false Sextus,
  That wrought the deed of shame?

'Hew down the bridge, Sir Consul,
  With all the speed ye may,
I, with two more to help me,
  Will hold the foe in play.
In yon strait path a thousand
  May well be stopp'd by three:
Now who will stand on either hand,
  And keep the bridge with me?'

'Then out spake Spurius Lartius,
  A Ramnian proud was he,
'Lo, I will stand at thy right hand,
  And keep the bridge with thee.'
And out spake strong Herminius,
  Of Titian blood was he,
'I will abide on thy left side,
  And keep the bridge with thee.'


So forth went these three brave men, Horatius, the Consul's nephew,
Spurius Lartius, and Titus Herminius, to guard the bridge at the farther
end, while all the rest of the warriors were breaking down the timbers
behind them.


'And Fathers mixed with commons,
  Seized hatchet, bar, and crow,
And smote upon the planks above,
  And loosen'd them below.
'Meanwhile the Tuscan army,
  Right glorious to behold,
Came flashing back the noonday light,
Rank behind rank, like surges bright,
  Of a broad sea of gold.
Four hundred trumpets sounded
  A peal of warlike glee,
As that great host, with measured tread,
And spears advanced, and ensigns spread,
Roll'd slowly towards the bridge's head,
  Where stood the dauntless three.

'The three stood calm and silent,
  And look'd upon the foes,
And a great shout of laughter
  From all the vanguard rose.'


They laughed to see three men standing to meet the whole army; but it
was so narrow a space, that no more than three enemies could attack them
at once, and it was not easy to match them. Foe after foe came forth
against them, and went down before their swords and spears, till at
last--


'Was none that would be foremost
  To lead such dire attack;
But those behind cried 'Forward!'
  And those before cried 'Back!'

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


However, the supports of the bridge had been destroyed.


'But meanwhile axe and lever
  Have manfully been plied,
And now the bridge hangs tottering
  Above the boiling tide.
'Come back, come back, Horatius!'
  Loud cried the Fathers all;
'Back, Lartius! Back, Herminius!
  Back, ere the ruin fall!'

'Back darted Spurius Lartius,
  Herminius darted back;
And as they passed, beneath their feet
  They felt the timbers crack;
But when they turn'd their faces,
  And on the farther shore
Saw brave Horatius stand alone,
  They would have cross'd once more.

'But with a crash like thunder
  Fell every loosen'd beam,
And, like a dam, the mighty wreck
  Lay right athwart the stream;
And a long shout of triumph
  Rose from the walls of Rome,
As to the highest turret-tops
  Was splashed the yellow foam.'


The one last champion, behind a rampart of dead enemies, remained till
the destruction was complete.


'Alone stood brave Horatius,
  But constant still in mind,
Thrice thirty thousand foes before
  And the broad flood behind.'


A dart had put out one eye, he was wounded in the thigh, and his work
was done. He turned round, and--


              'Saw on Palatinus,
  The white porch of his home,
And he spake to the noble river
  That rolls by the walls of Rome:
'O Tiber! father Tiber!
  To whom the Romans pray,
A Roman's life, a Roman's arms
  Take thou in charge this day.'


And with this brief prayer he leapt into the foaming stream. Polybius
was told that he was there drowned; but Livy gives the version which the
ballad follows:--


'But fiercely ran the current,
  Swollen high by months of rain,
And fast his blood was flowing,
  And he was sore in pain,
And heavy with his armor,
  And spent with changing blows,
And oft they thought him sinking,
  But still again he rose.

'Never, I ween, did swimmer,
  In such an evil case,
Struggle through such a raging flood
  Safe to the landing place.
But his limbs were borne up bravely
  By the brave heart within,
And our good father Tiber
  Bare bravely up his chin.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

'And now he feels the bottom,
  Now on dry earth he stands,
Now round him throng the Fathers,
  To press his gory hands.
And now with shouts and clapping,
  And noise of weeping loud,
He enters through the River Gate,
  Borne by the joyous crowd.

'They gave him of the corn land,
  That was of public right,
As much as two strong oxen
  Could plough from morn to night.
And they made a molten image,
  And set it up on high,
And there it stands unto this day,
  To witness if I lie.

'It stands in the Comitium,
  Plain for all folk to see,
Horatius in his harness,
  Halting upon his knee:
And underneath is written,
  In letters all of gold,
How valiantly he kept the bridge
  In the brave days of old.'


Never was more honorable surname than his, of Cocles, or the one-eyed;
and though his lameness prevented him from ever being a Consul, or
leading an army, he was so much beloved and honored by his fellow
citizens, that in the time of a famine each Roman, to the number of
300,000, brought him a day's food, lest he should suffer want. The
statue was shown even in the time of Pliny, 600 years afterwards, and
was probably only destroyed when Rome was sacked by the barbarians.

Nor was the Roman bridge the only one that has been defended by one man
against a host. In our own country, Stamford Bridge was, in like manner,
guarded by a single brave Northman, after the battle fought A.D. 1066,
when Earl Tostig, the son of Godwin, had persuaded the gallant sea king,
Harald Hardrada, to come and invade England. The chosen English king,
Harold, had marched at full speed from Sussex to Yorkshire, and met the
invaders marching at their ease, without expecting any enemy, and
wearing no defensive armor, as they went forth to receive the keys of
the city of York. The battle was fought by the Norsemen in the full
certainty that it must be lost. The banner, 'Landwaster', was planted in
the midst; and the king, chanting his last song, like the minstrel
warrior he had always been, stood, with his bravest men, in a death ring
around it. There he died, and his choicest warriors with him; but many
more fled back towards the ships, rushing over the few planks that were
the only way across the River Ouse. And here stood their defender, alone
upon the bridge, keeping back the whole pursuing English army, who could
only attack him one at a time; until, with shame be it spoken, he died
by a cowardly blow by an enemy, who had crept down the bank of the
river, and under the bridge, through the openings between the timbers of
which he thrust up his spear, and thus was able to hurl the brave
Northman into the river, mortally wounded, but not till great numbers of
his countrymen had reached their ships, their lives saved by his
gallantry.

In like manner, Robert Bruce, in the time of his wanderings, during the
year 1306, saved his whole band by his sole exertions. He had been
defeated by the forces of Edward I. at Methven, and had lost many of his
friends. His little army went wandering among the hills, sometimes
encamping in the woods, sometimes crossing the lakes in small boats.
Many ladies were among them, and their summer life had some wild charms
of romance; as the knightly huntsmen brought in the salmon, the roe, and
the deer that formed their food, and the ladies gathered the flowering
heather, over which soft skins were laid for their bedding. Sir James
Douglas was the most courtly and graceful knight of all the party, and
ever kept them enlivened by his gay temper and ready wit; and the king
himself cherished a few precious romances, which he used to read aloud
to his followers as they rested in their mountain home.

But their bitter foe, the Lord of Lorn, was always in pursuit of them,
and, near the head of the Tay, he came upon the small army of 300 men
with 1000 Highlanders, armed with Lochaber axes, at a place which is
still called Dalry, or the King's Field. Many of the horses were killed
by the axes; and James Douglas and Gilbert de la Haye were both wounded.
All would have been slain or fallen into the hand of the enemy, if
Robert Bruce had not sent them all on before him, up a narrow, steep
path, and placed himself, with his armor and heavy horse, full in the
path, protecting the retreat with his single arm. It was true, that so
tall and powerful a man, sheathed in armor and on horseback, had a great
advantage against the wild Highlanders, who only wore a shirt and a
plaid, with a round target upon the arm; but they were lithe, active,
light-footed men, able to climb like goats on the crags around him, and
holding their lives as cheaply as he did.

Lorn, watching him from a distance, was struck with amazement, and
exclaimed, 'Methinks, Marthokson, he resembles Gol Mak Morn protecting
his followers from Fingal;' thus comparing him to one the most brilliant
champions a Highland imagination could conceive. At last, three men,
named M'Androsser, rushed forward, resolved to free their chief from
this formidable enemy. There was a lake on one side, and a precipice on
the other, and the king had hardly space to manage his horse, when all
three sprang on him at once. One snatched his bridle, one caught him by
the stirrup and leg, and a third leaped from a rising ground and seated
himself behind him on his horse. The first lost his arm by one sweep of
the king's sword; the second was overthrown and trampled on; and the
last, by a desperate struggle, was dashed down, and his skull cleft by
the king's sword; but his dying grasp was so tight upon the plaid that
Bruce was forced to unclasp the brooch that secured it, and leave both
in the dead man's hold. It was long preserved by the Macdougals of Lorn,
as a trophy of the narrow escape of their enemy.

Nor must we leave Robert the Bruce without mentioning that other Golden
Deed, more truly noble because more full of mercy; namely, his halting
his little army in full retreat in Ireland in the face of the English
host under Roger Mortimer, that proper care and attendance might be
given to one sick and suffering washerwoman and her new-born babe. Well
may his old Scotch rhyming chronicler remark:--


'This was a full great courtesy
That swilk a king and so mighty,
Gert his men dwell on this manner,
But for a poor lavender.'


We have seen how the sturdy Roman fought for his city, the fierce
Northman died to guard his comrades' rush to their ships after the lost
battle, and how the mail-clad knightly Bruce periled himself to secure
the retreat of his friends. Here is one more instance, from far more
modern times, of a soldier, whose willing sacrifice of his own life was
the safety of a whole army. It was in the course of the long dismal
conflict between Frederick the Great of Prussia and Maria Theresa of
Austria, which was called the Seven Years' War. Louis XV. of France had
taken the part of Austria, and had sent an army into Germany in the
autumn of 1760. From this the Marquis de Castries had been dispatched,
with 25,000 men, towards Rheinberg, and had taken up a strong position
at Klostercamp. On the night of the 15th of October, a young officer,
called the Chevalier d'Assas, of the Auvergne regiment, was sent out to
reconnoitre, and advanced alone into a wood, at some little distance
from his men. Suddenly he found himself surrounded by a number of
soldiers, whose bayonets pricked his breast, and a voice whispered in
his ear, 'Make the slightest noise, and you are a dead man!' In one
moment he understood it all. The enemy were advancing, to surprise the
French army, and would be upon them when night was further advanced.
That moment decided his fate. He shouted, as loud as his voice would
carry the words, 'Here, Auvergne! Here are the enemy!' By the time the
cry reached the ears of his men, their captain was a senseless corpse;
but his death had saved the army; the surprise had failed, and the enemy
retreated.

Louis XV was too mean-spirited and selfish to feel the beauty of this
brave action; but when, fourteen years later, Louis XVI came to the
throne, he decreed that a pension should be given to the family as long
as a male representative remained to bear the name of D'Assas. Poor
Louis XVI had not long the control of the treasure of France; but a
century of changes, wars, and revolutions has not blotted out the memory
of the self-devotion of the chevalier; for, among the new war-steamers
of the French fleet, there is one that bears the ever-honored name of
D'Assas.




THE PASS OF THERMOPYLAE

B.C. 430



There was trembling in Greece. 'The Great King', as the Greeks called
the chief potentate of the East, whose domains stretched from the Indian
Caucasus to the Aegaeus, from the Caspian to the Red Sea, was
marshalling his forces against the little free states that nestled amid
the rocks and gulfs of the Eastern Mediterranean. Already had his might
devoured the cherished colonies of the Greeks on the eastern shore of
the Archipelago, and every traitor to home institutions found a ready
asylum at that despotic court, and tried to revenge his own wrongs by
whispering incitements to invasion. 'All people, nations, and
languages,' was the commencement of the decrees of that monarch's court;
and it was scarcely a vain boast, for his satraps ruled over subject
kingdoms, and among his tributary nations he counted the Chaldean, with
his learning and old civilization, the wise and steadfast Jew, the
skilful Phoenician, the learned Egyptian, the wild, free-booting Arab of
the desert, the dark-skinned Ethiopian, and over all these ruled the
keen-witted, active native Persian race, the conquerors of all the rest,
and led by a chosen band proudly called the Immortal. His many capitals--
Babylon the great, Susa, Persepolis, and the like--were names of dreamy
splendor to the Greeks, described now and then by Ionians from Asia
Minor who had carried their tribute to the king's own feet, or by
courtier slaves who had escaped with difficulty from being all too
serviceable at the tyrannic court. And the lord of this enormous empire
was about to launch his countless host against the little cluster of
states, the whole of which together would hardly equal one province of
the huge Asiatic realm! Moreover, it was a war not only on the men but
on their gods. The Persians were zealous adorers of the sun and of fire,
they abhorred the idol worship of the Greeks, and defiled and plundered
every temple that fell in their way. Death and desolation were almost
the best that could be looked for at such hands--slavery and torture
from cruelly barbarous masters would only too surely be the lot of
numbers, should their land fall a prey to the conquerors.

True it was that ten years back the former Great King had sent his best
troops to be signally defeated upon the coast of Attica; but the losses
at Marathon had but stimulated the Persian lust of conquest, and the new
King Xerxes was gathering together such myriads of men as should crush
down the Greeks and overrun their country by mere force of numbers.

The muster place was at Sardis, and there Greek spies had seen the
multitudes assembling and the state and magnificence of the king's
attendants. Envoys had come from him to demand earth and water from each
state in Greece, as emblems that land and sea were his, but each state
was resolved to be free, and only Thessaly, that which lay first in his
path, consented to yield the token of subjugation. A council was held at
the Isthmus of Corinth, and attended by deputies from all the states of
Greece to consider of the best means of defense. The ships of the enemy
would coast round the shores of the Aegean sea, the land army would
cross the Hellespont on a bridge of boats lashed together, and march
southwards into Greece. The only hope of averting the danger lay in
defending such passages as, from the nature of the ground, were so
narrow that only a few persons could fight hand to hand at once, so that
courage would be of more avail than numbers.

The first of all these passes was called Tempe, and a body of troops was
sent to guard it; but they found that this was useless and impossible,
and came back again. The next was at Thermopylae. Look in your map of
the Archipelago, or Aegean Sea, as it was then called, for the great
island of Negropont, or by its old name, Euboea. It looks like a piece
broken off from the coast, and to the north is shaped like the head of a
bird, with the beak running into a gulf, that would fit over it, upon
the main land, and between the island and the coast is an exceedingly
narrow strait. The Persian army would have to march round the edge of
the gulf. They could not cut straight across the country, because the
ridge of mountains called Ceta rose up and barred their way. Indeed, the
woods, rocks, and precipices came down so near the seashore, that in two
places there was only room for one single wheel track between the steeps
and the impassable morass that formed the border of the gulf on its
south side. These two very narrow places were called the gates of the
pass, and were about a mile apart. There was a little more width left in
the intervening space; but in this there were a number of springs of
warm mineral water, salt and sulphurous, which were used for the sick to
bathe in, and thus the place was called Thermopylae, or the Hot Gates. A
wall had once been built across the western-most of these narrow places,
when the Thessalians and Phocians, who lived on either side of it, had
been at war with one another; but it had been allowed to go to decay,
since the Phocians had found out that there was a very steep narrow
mountain path along the bed of a torrent, by which it was possible to
cross from one territory to the other without going round this marshy
coast road.

This was, therefore, an excellent place to defend. The Greek ships were
all drawn up on the farther side of Euboea to prevent the Persian
vessels from getting into the strait and landing men beyond the pass,
and a division of the army was sent off to guard the Hot Gates. The
council at the Isthmus did not know of the mountain pathway, and thought
that all would be safe as long as the Persians were kept out of the
coast path.

The troops sent for this purpose were from different cities, and
amounted to about 4,000, who were to keep the pass against two millions.
The leader of them was Leonidas, who had newly become one of the two
kings of Sparta, the city that above all in Greece trained its sons to
be hardy soldiers, dreading death infinitely less than shame. Leonidas
had already made up his mind that the expedition would probably be his
death, perhaps because a prophecy had been given at the Temple of Delphi
that Sparta should be saved by the death of one of her kings of the race
of Hercules. He was allowed by law to take with him 300 men, and these
he chose most carefully, not merely for their strength and courage, but
selecting those who had sons, so that no family might be altogether
destroyed. These Spartans, with their helots or slaves, made up his own
share of the numbers, but all the army was under his generalship. It is
even said that the 300 celebrated their own funeral rites before they
set out, lest they should be deprived of them by the enemy, since, as we
have already seen, it was the Greek belief that the spirits of the dead
found no rest till their obsequies had been performed. Such preparations
did not daunt the spirits of Leonidas and his men, and his wife, Gorgo,
who was not a woman to be faint-hearted or hold him back. Long before,
when she was a very little girl, a word of hers had saved her father
from listening to a traitorous message from the King of Persia; and
every Spartan lady was bred up to be able to say to those she best loved
that they must come home from battle 'with the shield or on it'--either
carrying it victoriously or borne upon it as a corpse.

When Leonidas came to Thermopylae, the Phocians told him of the mountain
path through the chestnut woods of Mount Ceta, and begged to have the
privilege of guarding it on a spot high up on the mountain side,
assuring him that it was very hard to find at the other end, and that
there was every probability that the enemy would never discover it. He
consented, and encamping around the warm springs, caused the broken wall
to be repaired, and made ready to meet the foe.

The Persian army were seen covering the whole country like locusts, and
the hearts of some of the southern Greeks in the pass began to sink.
Their homes in the Peloponnesus were comparatively secure--had they not
better fall back and reserve themselves to defend the Isthmus of
Corinth? But Leonidas, though Sparta was safe below the Isthmus, had no
intention of abandoning his northern allies, and kept the other
Peloponnesians to their posts, only sending messengers for further help.

Presently a Persian on horseback rode up to reconnoitre the pass. He
could not see over the wall, but in front of it, and on the ramparts, he
saw the Spartans, some of them engaged in active sports, and others in
combing their long hair. He rode back to the king, and told him what he
had seen. Now, Xerxes had in his camp an exiled Spartan Prince, named
Demaratus, who had become a traitor to his country, and was serving as
counsellor to the enemy. Xerxes sent for him, and asked whether his
countrymen were mad to be thus employed instead of fleeing away; but
Demaratus made answer that a hard fight was no doubt in preparation, and
that it was the custom of the Spartans to array their hair with special
care when they were about to enter upon any great peril. Xerxes would,
however, not believe that so petty a force could intend to resist him,
and waited four days, probably expecting his fleet to assist him, but as
it did not appear, the attack was made.

The Greeks, stronger men and more heavily armed, were far better able to
fight to advantage than the Persians, with their short spears and wicker
shields, and beat them off with great ease. It is said that Xerxes three
times leapt off his throne in despair at the sight of his troops being
driven backwards; and thus for two days it seemed as easy to force a way
through the Spartans as through the rocks themselves. Nay, how could
slavish troops, dragged from home to spread the victories of an
ambitious king, fight like freemen who felt that their strokes were to
defend their homes and children!

But on that evening a wretched man, named Ephialtes, crept into the
Persian camp, and offered, for a great sum of money, to show the
mountain path that would enable the enemy to take the brave defenders in
the rear! A Persian general, named Hydarnes, was sent off at nightfall
with a detachment to secure this passage, and was guided through the
thick forests that clothed the hillside. In the stillness of the air, at
daybreak, the Phocian guards of the path were startled by the crackling
of the chestnut leaves under the tread of many feet. They started up,
but a shower of arrows was discharged on them, and forgetting all save
the present alarm, they fled to a higher part of the mountain, and the
enemy, without waiting to pursue them, began to descend.

As day dawned, morning light showed the watchers of the Grecian camp
below a glittering and shimmering in the torrent bed where the shaggy
forests opened; but it was not the sparkle of water, but the shine of
gilded helmets and the gleaming of silvered spears! Moreover, a
Cimmerian crept over to the wall from the Persian camp with tidings that
the path had been betrayed, that the enemy were climbing it, and would
come down beyond the Eastern Gate. Still, the way was rugged and
circuitous, the Persians would hardly descend before midday, and there
was ample time for the Greeks to escape before they could be shut in by
the enemy.

There was a short council held over the morning sacrifice. Megistias,
the seer, on inspecting the entrails of the slain victim, declared, as
well he might, that their appearance boded disaster. Him Leonidas
ordered to retire, but he refused, though he sent home his only son.
There was no disgrace to an ordinary tone of mind in leaving a post that
could not be held, and Leonidas recommended all the allied troops under
his command to march away while yet the way was open. As to himself and
his Spartans, they had made up their minds to die at their post, and
there could be no doubt that the example of such a resolution would do
more to save Greece than their best efforts could ever do if they were
careful to reserve themselves for another occasion.

All the allies consented to retreat, except the eighty men who came from
Mycenae and the 700 Thespians, who declared that they would not desert
Leonidas. There were also 400 Thebans who remained; and thus the whole
number that stayed with Leonidas to confront two million of enemies were
fourteen hundred warriors, besides the helots or attendants on the 300
Spartans, whose number is not known, but there was probably at least one
to each. Leonidas had two kinsmen in the camp, like himself, claiming
the blood of Hercules, and he tried to save them by giving them letters
and messages to Sparta; but one answered that 'he had come to fight, not
to carry letters'; and the other, that 'his deeds would tell all that
Sparta wished to know'. Another Spartan, named Dienices, when told that
the enemy's archers were so numerous that their arrows darkened the sun,
replied, 'So much the better, we shall fight in the shade.' Two of the
300 had been sent to a neighboring village, suffering severely from a
complaint in the eyes. One of them, called Eurytus, put on his armor,
and commanded his helot to lead him to his place in the ranks; the
other, called Aristodemus, was so overpowered with illness that he
allowed himself to be carried away with the retreating allies. It was
still early in the day when all were gone, and Leonidas gave the word to
his men to take their last meal. 'To-night,' he said, 'we shall sup with
Pluto.'

Hitherto, he had stood on the defensive, and had husbanded the lives of
his men; but he now desired to make as great a slaughter as possible, so
as to inspire the enemy with dread of the Grecian name. He therefore
marched out beyond the wall, without waiting to be attacked, and the
battle began. The Persian captains went behind their wretched troops and
scourged them on to the fight with whips! Poor wretches, they were
driven on to be slaughtered, pierced with the Greek spears, hurled into
the sea, or trampled into the mud of the morass; but their inexhaustible
numbers told at length. The spears of the Greeks broke under hard
service, and their swords alone remained; they began to fall, and
Leonidas himself was among the first of the slain. Hotter than ever was
the fight over his corpse, and two Persian princes, brothers of Xerxes,
were there killed; but at length word was brought that Hydarnes was over
the pass, and that the few remaining men were thus enclosed on all
sides. The Spartans and Thespians made their way to a little hillock
within the wall, resolved to let this be the place of their last stand;
but the hearts of the Thebans failed them, and they came towards the
Persians holding out their hands in entreaty for mercy. Quarter was
given to them, but they were all branded with the king's mark as
untrustworthy deserters. The helots probably at this time escaped into
the mountains; while the small desperate band stood side by side on the
hill still fighting to the last, some with swords, others with daggers,
others even with their hands and teeth, till not one living man remained
amongst them when the sun went down. There was only a mound of slain,
bristled over with arrows.

Twenty thousand Persians had died before that handful of men! Xerxes
asked Demaratus if there were many more at Sparta like these, and was
told there were 8,000. It must have been with a somewhat failing heart
that he invited his courtiers from the fleet to see what he had done to
the men who dared to oppose him! and showed them the head and arm of
Leonidas set up upon a cross; but he took care that all his own slain,
except 1,000, should first be put out of sight. The body of the brave
king was buried where he fell, as were those of the other dead. Much
envied were they by the unhappy Aristodemus, who found himself called by
no name but the 'Coward', and was shunned by all his fellow-citizens. No
one would give him fire or water, and after a year of misery, he
redeemed his honor by perishing in the forefront of the battle of
Plataea, which was the last blow that drove the Persians ingloriously
from Greece.

The Greeks then united in doing honor to the brave warriors who, had
they been better supported, might have saved the whole country from
invasion. The poet Simonides wrote the inscriptions that were engraved
upon the pillars that were set up in the pass to commemorate this great
action. One was outside the wall, where most of the fighting had been.
It seems to have been in honor of the whole number who had for two days
resisted--


'Here did four thousand men from Pelops' land
Against three hundred myriads bravely stand'.


In honor of the Spartans was another column--


'Go, traveler, to Sparta tell
That here, obeying her, we fell'.


On the little hillock of the last resistance was placed the figure of a
stone lion, in memory of Leonidas, so fitly named the lion-like, and
Simonides, at his own expense, erected a pillar to his friend, the seer
Megistias--


'The great Megistias' tomb you here may view,
Who slew the Medes, fresh from Spercheius fords;
Well the wise seer the coming death foreknew,
Yet scorn'd he to forsake his Spartan lords'.


The names of the 300 were likewise engraven on a pillar at Sparta.

Lions, pillars, and inscriptions have all long since passed away, even
the very spot itself has changed; new soil has been formed, and there
are miles of solid ground between Mount Ceta and the gulf, so that the
Hot Gates no longer exist. But more enduring than stone or brass--nay,
than the very battlefield itself--has been the name of Leonidas. Two
thousand three hundred years have sped since he braced himself to perish
for his country's sake in that narrow, marshy coast road, under the brow
of the wooded crags, with the sea by his side. Since that time how many
hearts have glowed, how many arms have been nerved at the remembrance of
the Pass of Thermopylae, and the defeat that was worth so much more than
a victory!




THE ROCK OF THE CAPITOL

B.C. 389



The city of Rome was gradually rising on the banks of the Tiber, and
every year was adding to its temples and public buildings.

Every citizen loved his city and her greatness above all else. There was
as yet little wealth among them; the richest owned little more than a
few acres, which they cultivated themselves by the help of their
families, and sometimes of a few slaves, and the beautiful Campagna di
Roma, girt in by hills looking like amethysts in the distance, had not
then become almost uninhabitable from pestilential air, but was rich and
fertile, full of highly cultivated small farms, where corn was raised in
furrows made by a small hand plough, and herds of sheep, goats, and oxen
browsed in the pasture lands. The owners of these lands would on public
days take off their rude working dress and broad-brimmed straw hat, and
putting on the white toga with a purple hem, would enter the city, and
go to the valley called the Forum or Marketplace to give their votes for
the officers of state who were elected every year; especially the two
consuls, who were like kings all but the crown, wore purple togas richly
embroidered, sat on ivory chairs, and were followed by lictors carrying
an axe in a bundle of rods for the execution of justice. In their own
chamber sat the Senate, the great council composed of the patricians, or
citizens of highest birth, and of those who had formerly been consuls.
They decided on peace or war, and made the laws, and were the real
governors of the State, and their grave dignity made a great impression
on all who came near them. Above the buildings of the city rose steep
and high the Capitoline Hill, with the Temple of Jupiter on its summit,
and the strong wall in which was the chief stronghold and citadel of
Rome, the Capitol, the very centre of her strength and resolution. When
a war was decided on, every citizen capable of bearing arms was called
into the Forum, bringing his helmet, breast plate, short sword, and
heavy spear, and the officers called tribunes, chose out a sufficient
number, who were formed into bodies called legions, and marched to
battle under the command of one of the consuls. Many little States or
Italian tribes, who had nearly the same customs as Rome, surrounded the
Campagna, and so many disputes arose that every year, as soon as the
crops were saved, the armies marched out, the flocks were driven to
folds on the hills, the women and children were placed in the walled
cities, and a battle was fought, sometimes followed up by the siege of
the city of the defeated. The Romans did not always obtain the victory,
but there was a staunchness about them that was sure to prevail in the
long run; if beaten one year, they came back to the charge the next, and
thus they gradually mastered one of their neighbors after another, and
spread their dominion over the central part of Italy.

They were well used to Italian and Etruscan ways of making war, but
after nearly 400 years of this kind of fighting, a stranger and wilder
enemy came upon them. These were the Gauls, a tall strong, brave people,
long limbed and red-haired, of the same race as the highlanders of
Scotland. They had gradually spread themselves over the middle of
Europe, and had for some generations past lived among the Alpine
mountains, whence they used to come down upon the rich plans of northern
Italy for forays, in which they slew and burnt, and drove off cattle,
and now and then, when a country was quite depopulated, would settle
themselves in it. And thus, the Gauls conquering from the north and the
Romans from the south, these two fierce nations at length came against
one another.

The old Roman story is that it happened thus: The Gauls had an unusually
able leader, whom Latin historians call Brennus, but whose real name was
most likely Bran, and who is said to have come out of Britain. He had
brought a great host of Gauls to attack Clusium, a Tuscan city, and the
inhabitants sent to Rome to entreat succor. Three ambassadors, brothers
of the noble old family of Fabius, were sent from Rome to intercede for
the Clusians. They asked Brennus what harm the men of Clusium had done
the Gauls, that they thus made war on them, and, according to Plutarch's
account, Brennus made answer that the injury was that the Clusians
possessed land that the Gauls wanted, remarking that it was exactly the
way in which the Romans themselves treated their neighbors, adding,
however, that this was neither cruel nor unjust, but according--


          'To the good old plan
That they should take who have the power
And they should keep who can.'


[Footnote: These lines of Wordsworth on Rob Roy's grave almost literally
translate the speech Plutarch gives the first Kelt of history, Brennus.]

The Fabii, on receiving this answer, were so foolish as to transgress
the rule, owned by the savage Gauls, that an ambassador should neither
fight nor be fought with; they joined the Clusians, and one brother,
named Quintus, killed a remarkably large and tall Gallic chief in single
combat. Brennus was justly enraged, and sent messengers to Rome to
demand that the brothers should be given up to him for punishment. The
priests and many of the Senate held that the rash young men had deserved
death as covenant-breakers; but their father made strong interest for
them, and prevailed not only to have them spared, but even chosen as
tribunes to lead the legions in the war that was expected. [Footnote:
These events happened during an experiment made by the Romans of having
six military tribunes instead of two consuls.] Thus he persuaded the
whole nation to take on itself the guilt of his sons, a want of true
self-devotion uncommon among the old Romans, and which was severely
punished.

The Gauls were much enraged, and hurried southwards, not waiting for
plunder by the way, but declaring that they were friends to every State
save Rome. The Romans on their side collected their troops in haste, but
with a lurking sense of having transgressed; and since they had gainsaid
the counsel of their priests, they durst not have recourse to the
sacrifices and ceremonies by which they usually sought to gain the favor
of their gods. Even among heathens, the saying has often been verified,
'a sinful heart makes failing hand', and the battle on the banks of the
River Allia, about eleven miles from Rome, was not so much a fight as a
rout. The Roman soldiers were ill drawn up, and were at once broken.
Some fled to Veii and other towns, many were drowned in crossing the
Tiber, and it was but a few who showed in Rome their shame-stricken
faces, and brought word that the Gauls were upon them.

Had the Gauls been really in pursuit, the Roman name and nation would
have perished under their swords; but they spent three day in feasting
and sharing their plunder, and thus gave the Romans time to take
measures for the safety of such as could yet escape. There seems to have
been no notion of defending the city, the soldiers had been too much
dispersed; but all who still remained and could call up something of
their ordinary courage, carried all the provisions they could collect
into the stronghold of the Capitol, and resolved to hold out there till
the last, in hopes that the scattered army might muster again, or that
the Gauls might retreat, after having revenged themselves on the city.
Everyone who could not fight, took flight, taking with them all they
could carry, and among them went the white-clad troop of vestal virgins,
carrying with them their censer of fire, which was esteemed sacred, and
never allowed to be extinguished. A man named Albinus, who saw these
sacred women footsore, weary, and weighted down with the treasures of
their temple, removed his own family and goods from his cart and seated
them in it--an act of reverence for which he was much esteemed--and thus
they reached the city of Cumae. The only persons left in Rome outside
the Capitol were eighty of the oldest senators and some of the priests.
Some were too feeble to fly, and would not come into the Capitol to
consume the food that might maintain fighting men; but most of them were
filled with a deep, solemn thought that, by offering themselves to the
weapons of the barbarians, they might atone for the sin sanctioned by
the Republic, and that their death might be the saving of the nation.
This notion that the death of a ruler would expiate a country's guilt
was one of the strange presages abroad in the heathen world of that
which alone takes away the sin of all mankind.

On came the Gauls at last. The gates stood open, the streets were
silent, the houses' low-browed doors showed no one in the paved courts.
No living man was to be seen, till at last, hurrying down the steep
empty streets, they reached the great open space of the Forum, and there
they stood still in amazement, for ranged along a gallery were a row of
ivory chairs, and in each chair sat the figure of a white-haired, white-
bearded man, with arms and legs bare, and robes either of snowy white,
white bordered with purple, or purple richly embroidered, ivory staves
in their hands, and majestic, unmoved countenances. So motionless were
they, that the Gauls stood still, not knowing whether they beheld men or
statues. A wondrous scene it must have been, as the brawny, red-haired
Gauls, with freckled visage, keen little eyes, long broad sword, and
wide plaid garment, fashioned into loose trousers, came curiously down
into the marketplace, one after another; and each stood silent and
transfixed at the spectacle of those grand figures, still unmoving, save
that their large full liquid dark eyes showed them to be living beings.
Surely these Gauls deemed themselves in the presence of that council of
kings who were sometimes supposed to govern Rome, nay, if they were not
before the gods themselves. At last, one Gaul, ruder, or more curious
than the rest, came up to one of the venerable figures, and, to make
proof whether he were flesh and blood, stroked his beard. Such an insult
from an uncouth barbarian was more than Roman blood could brook, and the
Gaul soon had his doubt satisfied by a sharp blow on the head from the
ivory staff. All reverence was dispelled by that stroke; it was at once
returned by a death thrust, and the fury of the savages wakening in
proportion to the awe that had at first struck them, they rushed on the
old senators, and slew each one in his curule chair.

Then they dispersed through the city, burning, plundering, and
destroying. To take the Capitol they soon found to be beyond their
power, but they hoped to starve the defenders out; and in the meantime
they spent their time in pulling down the outer walls, and such houses
and temples as had resisted the fire, till the defenders of the Capitol
looked down from their height on nothing but desolate black burnt
ground, with a few heaps of ruins in the midst, and the barbarians
roaming about in it, and driving in the cattle that their foraging
parties collected from the country round. There was much earnest faith
in their own religion among the Romans: they took all this ruin as the
just reward of their shelter of the Fabii, and even in their extremity
were resolved not to transgress any sacred rule. Though food daily
became more scarce and starvation was fast approaching, not one of the
sacred geese that were kept in Juno's Temple was touched; and one Fabius
Dorso, who believed that the household gods of his family required
yearly a sacrifice on their own festival day on the Quirinal Hill,
arrayed himself in the white robes of a sacrificer, took his sacred
images in his arms, and went out of the Capitol, through the midst of
the enemy, through the ruins to the accustomed alter, and there
preformed the regular rites. The Gauls, seeing that it was a religious
ceremony, let him pass through them untouched, and he returned in
safety; but Brennus was resolved on completing his conquest, and while
half his forces went out to plunder, he remained with the other half,
watching the moment to effect an entrance into the Capitol; and how were
the defenders, worn out with hunger, to resist without relief from
without? And who was there to bring relief to them, who were themselves
the Roman State and government?

Now there was a citizen, named Marcus Furius Camillus, who was, without
question, at that time, the first soldier of Rome, and had taken several
of the chief Italian cities, especially that of Veii, which had long
been a most dangerous enemy. But he was a proud, haughty man, and had
brought on himself much dislike; until, at last, a false accusation was
brought against him, that he had taken an unfair share of the plunder of
Veii. He was too proud to stand a trial; and leaving the city, was
immediately fined a considerable sum. He had taken up his abode at the
city of Ardea, and was there living when the plundering half of Brennus'
army was reported to be coming thither. Camillus immediately offered the
magistrates to undertake their defense; and getting together all the men
who could bear arms, he led them out, fell upon the Gauls as they all
lay asleep and unguarded in the dead of night, made a great slaughter of
them, and saved Ardea. All this was heard by the many Romans who had
been living dispersed since the rout of Allia; and they began to recover
heart and spirit, and to think that if Camillus would be their leader,
they might yet do something to redeem the honor of Rome, and save their
friends in the Capitol. An entreaty was sent to him to take the command
of them; but, like a proud, stern man as he was, he made answer, that he
was a mere exile, and could not take upon himself to lead Romans without
a decree from the Senate giving him authority. The Senate was--all that
remained of it--shut up in the Capitol; the Gauls were spread all round;
how was that decree to be obtained?

A young man, named Pontius Cominius, undertook the desperate mission. He
put on a peasant dress, and hid some corks under it, supposing that he
should find no passage by the bridge over the Tiber. Traveling all day
on foot, he came at night to the bank, and saw the guard at the bridge;
then, having waited for darkness, he rolled his one thin light garment,
with the corks wrapped up in it, round his head, and trusted himself to
the stream of Father Tiber, like 'good Horatius' before him; and he was
safely borne along to the foot of the Capitoline Hill. He crept along,
avoiding every place where he saw lights or heard noise, till he came to
a rugged precipice, which he suspected would not be watched by the
enemy, who would suppose it too steep to be climbed from above or below.
But the resolute man did not fear the giddy dangerous ascent, even in
the darkness; he swung himself up by the stems and boughs of the vines
and climbing plants, his naked feet clung to the rocks and tufts of
grass, and at length he stood on the top of the rampart, calling out his
name to the soldiers who came in haste around him, not knowing whether
he were friend or foe. A joyful sound must his Latin speech have been to
the long-tried, half starved garrison, who had not seen a fresh face for
six long months! The few who represented the Senate and people of Rome
were hastily awakened from their sleep, and gathered together to hear
the tidings brought them at so much risk. Pontius told them of the
victory at Ardea, and that Camillus and the Romans collected at Veii
were only waiting to march to their succor till they should give him
lawful power to take the command. There was little debate. The vote was
passed at once to make Camillus Dictator, an office to which Romans were
elected upon great emergencies, and which gave them, for the time,
absolute kingly control; and then Pontius, bearing the appointment, set
off once again upon his mission, still under shelter of night, clambered
down the rock, and crossed the Gallic camp before the barbarians were
yet awake.

There was hope in the little garrison; but danger was not over. The
sharp-eyed Gauls observed that the shrubs and creepers were broken, the
moss frayed, and fresh stones and earth rolled down at the crag of the
Capitol: they were sure that the rock had been climbed, and, therefore,
that it might be climbed again. Should they, who were used to the snowy
peaks, dark abysses, and huge glaciers of the Alps, be afraid to climb
where a soft dweller in a tame Italian town could venture a passage?
Brennus chose out the hardiest of his mountaineers, and directed them to
climb up in the dead of night, one by one, in perfect silence, and thus
to surprise the Romans, and complete the slaughter and victory, before
the forces assembling at Veii would come to their rescue.

Silently the Gauls climbed, so stilly that not even a dog heard them;
and the sentinel nearest to the post, who had fallen into a dead sleep
of exhaustion from hunger, never awoke. But the fatal stillness was
suddenly broken by loud gabbling, cackling, and flapping of heavy wings.
The sacred geese of Juno, which had been so religiously spared in the
famine, were frightened by the rustling beneath, and proclaimed their
terror in their own noisy fashion. The first to take the alarm was
Marcus Manlius, who started forward just in time to meet the foremost
climbers as they set foot on the rampart. One, who raised an axe to
strike, lost his arm by one stroke of Manlius' short Roman sword; the
next was by main strength hurled backwards over the precipice, and
Manlius stood along on the top, for a few moments, ready to strike the
next who should struggle up. The whole of the garrison were in a few
moments on the alert, and the attack was entirely repulsed; the sleeping
sentry was cast headlong down the rock; and Manlius was brought, by each
grateful soldier, that which was then most valuable to all, a little
meal and a small measure of wine. Still, the condition of the Capitol
was lamentable; there was no certainty that Pontius had ever reached
Camillus in safety; and, indeed, the discovery of his path by the enemy
would rather have led to the supposition that he had been seized and
detected. The best hope lay in wearying out the besiegers; and there
seemed to be more chance of this since the Gauls often could be seen
from the heights, burying the corpses of their dead; their tall, bony
forms looked gaunt and drooping, and, here and there, unburied carcasses
lay amongst the ruins. Nor were the flocks and herds any longer driven
in from the country. Either all must have been exhausted, or else
Camillus and his friends must be near, and preventing their raids. At
any rate, it appeared as if the enemy was quite as ill off as to
provisions as the garrison, and in worse condition as to health. In
effect, this was the first example of the famous saying, that Rome
destroys her conquerors. In this state of things one of the Romans had a
dream that Jupiter, the special god of the Capitol, appeared to him, and
gave the strange advice that all the remaining flour should be baked,
and the loaves thrown down into the enemy's camp. Telling the dream,
which may, perhaps, have been the shaping of his own thoughts, that this
apparent waste would persuade the barbarians that the garrison could not
soon be starved out, this person obtained the consent of the rest of the
besieged. Some approved the stratagem, and no one chose to act contrary
to Jupiter's supposed advice; so the bread was baked, and tossed down by
the hungry men.

After a time, there was a report from the outer guards that the Gallic
watch had been telling them that their leader would be willing to speak
with some of the Roman chiefs. Accordingly, Sulpitius, one of the
tribunes, went out, and had a conference with Brennus, who declared that
he would depart, provided the Romans would lay down a ransom, for their
Capital and their own lives, of a thousand pounds' weight of gold. To
this Sulpitius agreed, and returning to the Capitol, the gold was
collected from the treasury, and carried down to meet the Gauls, who
brought their own weights. The weights did not meet the amount of gold
ornaments that had been contributed for the purpose, and no doubt the
Gauls were resolved to have all that they beheld; for when Sulpitius was
about to try to arrange the balance, Brennus insultingly threw his sword
into his own scale, exclaiming, Voe victis! 'Woe to the conquered!' The
Roman was not yet fallen so low as not to remonstrate, and the dispute
was waxing sharp, when there was a confused outcry in the Gallic camp, a
shout from the heights of the Capitol, and into the midst of the open
space rode a band of Roman patricians and knights in armor, with the
Dictator Camillus at their head.

He no sooner saw what was passing, than he commanded the treasure to be
taken back, and, turning to Brennus, said, 'It is with iron, not gold,
that the Romans guard their country.'

Brennus declared that the treaty had been sworn to, and that it would be
a breach of faith to deprive him of the ransom; to which Camillus
replied, that he himself was Dictator, and no one had the power to make
a treaty in his absence. The dispute was so hot, that they drew their
swords against one another, and there was a skirmish among the ruins;
but the Gauls soon fell back, and retreated to their camp, when they saw
the main body of Camillus' army marching upon them. It was no less than
40,000 in number; and Brennus knew he could not withstand them with his
broken, sickly army. He drew off early the next morning: but was
followed by Camillus, and routed, with great slaughter, about eight
miles from Rome; and very few of the Gauls lived to return home, for
those who were not slain in battle were cut off in their flight by the
country people, whom they had plundered.

In reward for their conduct on this occasion, Camillus was termed
Romulus, Father of his Country, and Second Founder of Rome; Marcus
Manlius received the honorable surname of Capitolinus; and even the
geese were honored by having a golden image raised to their honor in
Juno's temple, and a live goose was yearly carried in triumph, upon a
soft litter, in a golden cage, as long as any heathen festivals lasted.
The reward of Pontius Cominius does not appear; but surely he, and the
old senators who died for their country's sake, deserved to be for ever
remembered for their brave contempt of life when a service could be done
to the State.

The truth of the whole narrative is greatly doubted, and it is suspected
that the Gallic conquest was more complete than the Romans ever chose to
avow. Their history is far from clear up to this very epoch, when it is
said that all their records were destroyed; but even when place and
period are misty, great names and the main outline of their actions loom
through the cloud, perhaps exaggerated, but still with some reality; and
if the magnificent romance of the sack of Rome be not fact, yet it is
certainly history, and well worthy of note and remembrance, as one of
the finest extant traditions of a whole chain of Golden Deeds.




THE TWO FRIENDS OF SYRACUSE

B.C. 380 (CIRCA)



Most of the best and noblest of the Greeks held what was called the
Pythagorean philosophy. This was one of the many systems framed by the
great men of heathenism, when by the feeble light of nature they were,
as St. Paul says, 'seeking after God, if haply they might feel after
Him', like men groping in the darkness. Pythagoras lived before the time
of history, and almost nothing is known about him, though his teaching
and his name were never lost. There is a belief that he had traveled in
the East, and in Egypt, and as he lived about the time of the dispersion
of the Israelites, it is possible that some of his purest and best
teaching might have been crumbs gathered from their fuller instruction
through the Law and the Prophets. One thing is plain, that even in
dealing with heathenism the Divine rule holds good, 'By their fruits ye
shall know them'. Golden Deeds are only to be found among men whose
belief is earnest and sincere, and in something really high and noble.
Where there was nothing worshiped but savage or impure power, and the
very form of adoration was cruel and unclean, as among the Canaanites
and Carthaginians, there we find no true self-devotion. The great deeds
of the heathen world were all done by early Greeks and Romans before yet
the last gleams of purer light had faded out of their belief, and while
their moral sense still nerved them to energy; or else by such later
Greeks as had embraced the deeper and more earnest yearnings of the
minds that had become a 'law unto themselves'.

The Pythagoreans were bound together in a brotherhood, the members of
which had rules that are not now understood, but which linked them so as
to form a sort of club, with common religious observances and pursuits
of science, especially mathematics and music. And they were taught to
restrain their passions, especially that of anger, and to endure with
patience all kinds of suffering; believing that such self-restraint
brought them nearer to the gods, and that death would set them free from
the prison of the body. The souls of evil-doers would, they thought,
pass into the lower and more degraded animals, while those of good men
would be gradually purified, and rise to a higher existence. This,
though lamentably deficient, and false in some points, was a real
religion, inasmuch as it gave a rule of life, with a motive for striving
for wisdom and virtue. Two friends of this Pythagorean sect lived at
Syracuse, in the end of the fourth century before the Christian era.
Syracuse was a great Greek city, built in Sicily, and full of all kinds
of Greek art and learning; but it was a place of danger in their time,
for it had fallen under the tyranny of a man of strange and capricious
temper, though of great abilities, namely Dionysius. He is said to have
been originally only a clerk in a public office, but his talents raised
him to continually higher situations, and at length, in a great war with
the Carthaginians, who had many settlements in Sicily, he became general
of the army, and then found it easy to establish his power over the
city.

This power was not according to the laws, for Syracuse, like most other
cities, ought to have been governed by a council of magistrates; but
Dionysius was an exceedingly able man, and made the city much more rich
and powerful, he defeated the Carthaginians, and rendered Syracuse by
far the chief city in the island, and he contrived to make everyone so
much afraid of him that no one durst attempt to overthrow his power. He
was a good scholar, and very fond of philosophy and poetry, and he
delighted to have learned men around him, and he had naturally a
generous spirit; but the sense that he was in a position that did not
belong to him, and that everyone hated him for assuming it, made him
very harsh and suspicious. It is of him that the story is told, that he
had a chamber hollowed in the rock near his state prison, and
constructed with galleries to conduct sounds like an ear, so that he
might overhear the conversation of his captives; and of him, too, is
told that famous anecdote which has become a proverb, that on hearing a
friend, named Damocles, express a wish to be in his situation for a
single day, he took him at his word, and Damocles found himself at a
banquet with everything that could delight his senses, delicious food,
costly wine, flowers, perfumes, music; but with a sword with the point
almost touching his head, and hanging by a single horsehair! This was to
show the condition in which a usurper lived!

Thus Dionysius was in constant dread. He had a wide trench round his
bedroom, with a drawbridge that he drew up and put down with his own
hands; and he put one barber to death for boasting that he held a razor
to the tyrant's throat every morning. After this he made his young
daughters shave him; but by and by he would not trust them with a razor,
and caused them to singe of his beard with hot nutshells! He was said to
have put a man named Antiphon to death for answering him, when he asked
what was the best kind of brass, 'That of which the statues of Harmodius
and Aristogeiton were made.' These were the two Athenians who had killed
the sons of Pisistratus the tyrant, so that the jest was most offensive,
but its boldness might have gained forgiveness for it. One philosopher,
named Philoxenus, he sent to a dungeon for finding fault with his
poetry, but he afterwards composed another piece, which he thought so
superior, that he could not be content without sending for this adverse
critic to hear it. When he had finished reading it, he looked to
Philoxenus for a compliment; but the philosopher only turned round to
the guards, and said dryly, 'Carry me back to prison.' This time
Dionysius had the sense to laugh, and forgive his honesty.

All these stories may not be true; but that they should have been
current in the ancient world shows what was the character of the man of
whom they were told, how stern and terrible was his anger, and how
easily it was incurred. Among those who came under it was a Pythagorean
called Pythias, who was sentenced to death, according to the usual fate
of those who fell under his suspicion.

Pythias had lands and relations in Greece, and he entreated as a favor
to be allowed to return thither and arrange his affairs, engaging to
return within a specified time to suffer death. The tyrant laughed his
request to scorn. Once safe out of Sicily, who would answer for his
return? Pythias made reply that he had a friend, who would become
security for his return; and while Dionysius, the miserable man who
trusted nobody, was ready to scoff at his simplicity, another
Pythagorean, by name of Damon, came forward, and offered to become
surety for his friend, engaging, if Pythias did not return according to
promise, to suffer death in his stead.

Dionysius, much astonished, consented to let Pythias go, marveling what
would be the issue of the affair. Time went on and Pythias did not
appear. The Syracusans watched Damon, but he showed no uneasiness. He
said he was secure of his friend's truth and honor, and that if any
accident had cause the delay of his return, he should rejoice in dying
to save the life of one so dear to him.

Even to the last day Damon continued serene and content, however it
might fall out; nay even when the very hour drew nigh and still no
Pythias. His trust was so perfect, that he did not even grieve at having
to die for a faithless friend who had left him to the fate to which he
had unwarily pledged himself. It was not Pythias' own will, but the
winds and waves, so he still declared, when the decree was brought and
the instruments of death made ready. The hour had come, and a few
moments more would have ended Damon's life, when Pythias duly presented
himself, embraced his friend, and stood forward himself to receive his
sentence, calm, resolute, and rejoiced that he had come in time.

Even the dim hope they owned of a future state was enough to make these
two brave men keep their word, and confront death for one another
without quailing. Dionysius looked on more struck than ever. He felt
that neither of such men must die. He reversed the sentence of Pythias,
and calling the two to his judgment seat, he entreated them to admit him
as a third in their friendship. Yet all the time he must have known it
was a mockery that he should ever be such as they were to each other--he
who had lost the very power of trusting, and constantly sacrificed
others to secure his own life, whilst they counted not their lives dear
to them in comparison with their truth to their word, and love to one
another. No wonder that Damon and Pythias have become such a byword that
they seem too well known to have their story told here, except that a
name in everyone's mouth sometimes seems to be mentioned by those who
have forgotten or never heard the tale attached to it.




THE DEVOTION OF THE DECII

B.C. 339



The spirit of self-devotion is so beautiful and noble, that even when
the act is performed in obedience to the dictates of a false religion,
it is impossible not to be struck with admiration and almost reverence
for the unconscious type of the one great act that has hallowed every
other sacrifice. Thus it was that Codrus, the Athenian king, has ever
since been honored for the tradition that he gave his own life to secure
the safety of his people; and there is a touching story, with neither
name nor place, of a heathen monarch who was bidden by his priests to
appease the supposed wrath of his gods by the sacrifice of the being
dearest to him. His young son had been seized on as his most beloved,
when his wife rushed between and declared that her son must live, and
not by his death rob her of her right to fall, as her husband's dearest.
The priest looked at the father; the face that had been sternly composed
before was full of uncontrolled anguish as he sprang forward to save the
wife rather than the child. That impulse was an answer, like the
entreaty of the mother before Solomon; the priest struck the fatal blow
ere the king's hand could withhold him, and the mother died with a last
look of exceeding joy at her husband's love and her son's safety. Human
sacrifices are of course accursed, and even the better sort of heathens
viewed them with horror; but the voluntary confronting of death, even at
the call of a distorted presage of future atonement, required qualities
that were perhaps the highest that could be exercised among those who
were devoid of the light of truth.

In the year 339 there was a remarkable instance of such devotion. The
Romans were at war with the Latins, a nation dwelling to the south of
them, and almost exactly resembling themselves in language, habits,
government, and fashions of fighting. Indeed the city of Rome itself was
but an offshoot from the old Latin kingdom; and there was not much
difference between the two nations even in courage and perseverance. The
two consuls of the year were Titus Manlius Torquatus and Publius Decius
Mus. They were both very distinguished men. Manlius was a patrician, or
one of the high ancient nobles of Rome, and had in early youth fought a
single combat with a gigantic Gaul, who offered himself, like Goliath,
as a champion of his tribe; had slain him, and taken from him a gold
torque, or collar, whence his surname Torquatus. Decius was a plebeian;
one of the free though not noble citizens who had votes, but only within
a few years had been capable of being chosen to the higher offices of
state, and who looked upon every election to the consulship as a
victory. Three years previously, when a tribune in command of a legion,
Decius had saved the consul, Cornelius Cossus, from a dangerous
situation, and enabled him to gain a great victory; and this exploit was
remembered, and led to the choice of this well-experienced soldier as
the colleague of Manlius.

The two consuls both went out together in command of the forces, each
having a separate army, and intending to act in concert. They marched to
the beautiful country at the foot of Mount Vesuvius, which was then a
harmless mountain clothed with chestnut woods, with spaces opening
between, where farms and vineyards rejoiced in the sunshine and the
fresh breezes of the lovely blue bay that lay stretched beneath. Those
who climbed to the summit might indeed find beds of ashes and the jagged
edge of a huge basin or gulf; the houses and walls were built of dark-
red and black material that once had flowed from the crater in boiling
torrents: but these had long since cooled, and so long was it since a
column of smoke had been seen to rise from the mountain top, that it
only remained as a matter of tradition that this region was one of
mysterious fire, and that the dark cool lake Avernus, near the mountain
skirts, was the very entrance to the shadowy realms beneath, that were
supposed to be inhabited by the spirits of the dead.

It might be that the neighborhood of this lake, with the dread
imaginations connected with it by pagan fancy, influenced even the stout
hearts of the consuls; for, the night after they came in sight of the
enemy, each dreamt the same dream, namely, that he beheld a mighty form
of gigantic height and stature, who told him 'that the victory was
decreed to that army of the two whose leader should devote himself to
the Dii Manes,' that is, to the deities who watched over the shades of
the dead. Probably these older Romans held the old Etruscan belief,
which took these 'gods beneath' to be winged beings, who bore away the
departing soul, weighted its merits and demerits, and placed it in a
region of peace or of woe, according to its deserts. This was part of
the grave and earnest faith that gave the earlier Romans such truth and
resolution; but latterly they so corrupted it with the Greek myths,
that, in after times, they did not even know who the gods of Decius
were.

At daybreak the two consuls sought one another out, and told their
dreams; and they agreed that they would join their armies in one, Decius
leading the right and Manlius the left wing; and that whichever found
his troops giving way, should at once rush into the enemy's columns and
die, to secure the victory to his colleague. At the same time strict
commands were given that no Roman should come out of his rank to fight
in single combat with the enemy; a necessary regulation, as the Latins
were so like, in every respect, to the Romans, that there would have
been fatal confusion had there been any mingling together before the
battle. Just as this command had been given out, young Titus Manlius,
the son of the consul, met a Latin leader, who called him by name and
challenged him to fight hand to hand. The youth was emulous of the honor
his father had gained by his own combat at the same age with the Gaul,
but forgot both the present edict and that his father had scrupulously
asked permission before accepting the challenge. He at once came
forward, and after a brave conflict, slew his adversary, and taking his
armor, presented himself at his father's tent and laid the spoils at his
feet.

But old Manlius turned aside sadly, and collected his troops to hear his
address to his son: 'You have transgressed,' he said, 'the discipline
which has been the support of the Roman people, and reduced me to the
hard necessity of either forgetting myself and mine, or else the regard
I owe to the general safety. Rome must not suffer by one fault. We must
expiate it ourselves. A sad example shall we be, but a wholesome one to
the Roman youth. For me, both the natural love of a father, and that
specimen thou hast given of thy valor move me exceedingly; but since
either the consular authority must be established by thy death, or
destroyed by thy impunity, I cannot think, if thou be a true Manlius,
that thou wilt be backward to repair the breach thou hast made in
military discipline by undergoing the just meed of thine offence. He
then placed the wreath of leaves, the reward of a victor, upon his son's
head, and gave the command to the lictor to bind the young man to a
stake, and strike off his head. The troops stood round as men stunned,
no one durst utter a word; the son submitted without one complaint,
since his death was for the good of Rome: and the father, trusting that
the doom of the Dii Manes was about to overtake him, beheld the brave
but rash young head fall, then watched the corpse covered with the
trophies won from the Latins, and made no hindrance to the glorious
obsequies with which the whole army honored this untimely death. Strict
discipline was indeed established, and no one again durst break his
rank; but the younger men greatly hated Manlius for his severity, and
gave him no credit for the agony he had concealed while giving up his
gallant son to the wellbeing of Rome.

A few days after, the expected battle took place, and after some little
time the front rank of Decius' men began to fall back upon the line in
their rear. This was the token he had waited for. He called to Valerius,
the chief priest of Rome, to consecrate him, and was directed to put on
his chief robe of office, the beautiful toga proetexta, to cover his
head, and standing on his javelin, call aloud to the 'nine gods' to
accept his devotion, to save the Roman legions, and strike terror into
his enemies. This done, he commanded his lictors to carry word to his
colleague that the sacrifice was accomplished, and then girding his robe
round him in the manner adopted in sacrificing to the gods, he mounted
his white horse, and rushed like lightning into the thickest of the
Latins. At first they fell away on all sides as if some heavenly
apparition had come down on them; then, as some recognized him, they
closed in on him, and pierced his breast with their weapons; but even as
he fell the superstition that a devoted leader was sure to win the
field, came full on their minds, they broke and fled. Meanwhile the
message came to Manlius, and drew from him a burst of tears--tears that
he had not shed for his son--his hope of himself meeting the doom and
ending his sorrow was gone; but none the less he nerved himself to
complete the advantage gained by Decius' death. Only one wing of the
Latins had fled, the other fought long and bravely, and when at last it
was defeated, and cut down on the field of battle, both conqueror and
conquered declared that, if Manlius had been the leader of the Latins,
they would have had the victory. Manlius afterwards completely subdued
the Latins, who became incorporated with the Romans; but bravely as he
had borne up, his health gave way under his sorrow, and before the end
of the year he was unable to take the field.

Forty-five years later, in the year 294, another Decius was consul. He
was the son of the first devoted Decius, and had shown himself worthy of
his name, both as a citizen and soldier. His first consulate had been in
conjunction with one of the most high-spirited and famous Roman nobles,
Quintus Fabius, surnamed Maximus, or the Greatest, and at three years'
end they were again chosen together, when the Romans had been brought
into considerable peril by an alliance between the Gauls and the
Samnites, their chief enemies in Italy.

One being a patrician and the other a plebeian, there was every attempt
made at Rome to stir up jealousies and dissensions between them; but
both were much too noble and generous to be thus set one against the
other; and when Fabius found how serious was the state of affairs in
Etruria, he sent to Rome to entreat that Decius would come and act with
him. 'With him I shall never want forces, nor have too many enemies to
deal with.'

The Gauls, since the time of Brennus, had so entirely settled in
northern Italy, that it had acquired the name of Cisalpine Gaul, and
they were as warlike as ever, while better armed and trained. The united
armies of Gauls, Samnites, and their allies, together, are said to have
amounted to 143,330 foot and 46,000 horse, and the Roman army consisted
of four legions, 24,000 in all, with an unspecified number of horse. The
place of battle was at Sentinum, and here for the first time the Gauls
brought armed chariots into use,--probably the wicker chariots, with
scythes in the midst of the clumsy wooden wheels, which were used by the
Kelts in Britain two centuries later. It was the first time the Romans
had encountered these barbarous vehicles; they were taken by surprise,
the horses started, and could not be brought back to the charge, and the
legions were mowed down like corn where the furious Gaul impelled his
scythe. Decius shouted in vain, and tried to gather his men and lead
them back; but the terror at this new mode of warfare had so mastered
them, that they paid no attention to his call. Then, half in policy,
half in superstition, he resolved to follow his father in his death. He
called the chief priest, Marcus Livius, and standing on his javelin,
went through the same formula of self-dedication, and in the like manner
threw himself, alone and unarmed, in the midst of the enemy, among whom
he soon fell, under many a savage stroke. The priest, himself a gallant
soldier, called to the troops that their victory was now secured, and
thoroughly believing him, they let him lead them back to the charge, and
routed the Gauls; whilst Fabius so well did his part against the other
nations, that the victory was complete, and 25,000 enemies were slain.
So covered was the body of Decius by the corpses of his enemies, that
all that day it could not be found; but on the next it was discovered,
and Fabius, with a full heart, pronounced the funeral oration of the
second Decius, who had willingly offered himself to turn the tide of
battle in favor of his country. It was the last of such acts of
dedication--the Romans became more learned and philosophical, and
perhaps more reasonable; and yet, mistaken as was the object, it seems a
falling off that, 200 years later, Cicero should not know who were the
'nine gods' of the Decii, and should regard their sacrifice as 'heroic
indeed, but unworthy of men of understanding'.




REGULUS

B.C. 249



The first wars that the Romans engaged in beyond the bounds of Italy,
were with the Carthaginians. This race came from Tyre and Zidon; and
were descended from some of the Phoenicians, or Zidonians, who were such
dangerous foes, or more dangerous friends, to the Israelites. Carthage
had, as some say, been first founded by some of the Canaanites who fled
when Joshua conquered the Promised Land; and whether this were so or
not, the inhabitants were in all their ways the same as the Tyrians and
Zidonians, of whom so much is said in the prophecies of Isaiah and
Ezekiel. Like them, they worshipped Baal and Ashtoreth, and the
frightful Moloch, with foul and cruel rites; and, like them, they were
excellent sailors and great merchants trading with every known country,
and living in great riches and splendor at their grand city on the
southern shore of the Mediterranean. That they were a wicked and cruel
race is also certain; the Romans used to call deceit Punic faith, that
is, Phoenician faith, and though no doubt Roman writers show them up in
their worst colours, yet, after the time of Hiram, Solomon's ally at
Tyre, it is plain from Holy Scripture that their crimes were great.

The first dispute between Rome and Carthage was about their possession
in the island of Sicily; and the war thus begun had lasted eight years
when it was resolved to send an army to fight the Carthaginians on their
own shores. The army and fleet were placed under the command of the two
consuls, Lucius Manlius and Marcus Attilius Regulus. On the way, there
was a great sea fight with the Carthaginian fleet, and this was the
first naval battle that the Romans ever gained. It made the way to
Africa free; but the soldiers, who had never been so far from home
before, murmured, for they expected to meet not only human enemies, but
monstrous serpents, lions, elephants, asses with horns, and dog-headed
monsters, to have a scorching sun overhead, and a noisome marsh under
their feet. However, Regulus sternly put a stop to all murmurs, by
making it known that disaffection would be punished by death, and the
army safely landed, and set up a fortification at Clypea, and plundered
the whole country round. Orders here came from Rome that Manlius should
return thither, but that Regulus should remain to carry on the war. This
was a great grief to him. He was a very poor man, with nothing of his
own but a little farm of seven acres, and the person whom he had
employed to cultivate it had died in his absence; a hired laborer had
undertaken the care of it, but had been unfaithful, and had run away
with his tools and his cattle; so that he was afraid that, unless he
could return quickly, his wife and children would starve. However, the
Senate engaged to provide for his family, and he remained, making
expeditions into the country round, in the course of which the Romans
really did fall in with a serpent as monstrous as their imagination had
depicted. It was said to be 120 feet long, and dwelt upon the banks of
the River Bagrada, where it used to devour the Roman soldiers as they
went to fetch water. It had such tough scales that they were obliged to
attack it with their engines meant for battering city walls, and only
succeeded with much difficulty in destroying it.

The country was most beautiful, covered with fertile cornfields and full
of rich fruit trees, and all the rich Carthaginians had country houses
and gardens, which were made delicious with fountains, trees, and
flowers. The Roman soldiers, plain, hardy, fierce, and pitiless, did, it
must be feared, cruel damage among these peaceful scenes; they boasted
of having sacked 300 villages, and mercy was not yet known to them. The
Carthaginian army, though strong in horsemen and in elephants, kept upon
the hills and did nothing to save the country, and the wild desert
tribes of Numidians came rushing in to plunder what the Romans had left.
The Carthaginians sent to offer terms of peace; but Regulus, who had
become uplifted by his conquests, made such demands that the messengers
remonstrated. He answered, 'Men who are good for anything should either
conquer or submit to their betters;' and he sent them rudely away, like
a stern old Roman as he was. His merit was that he had no more mercy on
himself than on others.

The Carthaginians were driven to extremity, and made horrible offerings
to Moloch, giving the little children of the noblest families to be
dropped into the fire between the brazen hands of his statue, and grown-
up people of the noblest families rushed in of their own accord, hoping
thus to propitiate their gods, and obtain safety for their country.
Their time was not yet fully come, and a respite was granted to them.
They had sent, in their distress, to hire soldiers in Greece, and among
these came a Spartan, named Xanthippus, who at once took the command,
and led the army out to battle, with a long line of elephants ranged in
front of them, and with clouds of horsemen hovering on the wings. The
Romans had not yet learnt the best mode of fighting with elephants,
namely, to leave lanes in their columns where these huge beasts might
advance harmlessly; instead of which, the ranks were thrust and trampled
down by the creatures' bulk, and they suffered a terrible defeat;
Regulus himself was seized by the horsemen, and dragged into Carthage,
where the victors feasted and rejoiced through half the night, and
testified their thanks to Moloch by offering in his fires the bravest of
their captives.

Regulus himself was not, however, one of these victims. He was kept a
close prisoner for two years, pining and sickening in his loneliness,
while in the meantime the war continued, and at last a victory so
decisive was gained by the Romans, that the people of Carthage were
discouraged, and resolved to ask terms of peace. They thought that no
one would be so readily listened to at Rome as Regulus, and they
therefore sent him there with their envoys, having first made him swear
that he would come back to his prison if there should neither be peace
nor an exchange of prisoners. They little knew how much more a true-
hearted Roman cared for his city than for himself--for his word than for
his life.

Worn and dejected, the captive warrior came to the outside of the gates
of his own city, and there paused, refusing to enter. 'I am no longer a
Roman citizen,' he said; 'I am but the barbarian's slave, and the Senate
may not give audience to strangers within the walls.'

His wife Marcia ran out to greet him, with his two sons, but he did not
look up, and received their caresses as one beneath their notice, as a
mere slave, and he continued, in spite of all entreaty, to remain
outside the city, and would not even go to the little farm he had loved
so well.

The Roman Senate, as he would not come in to them, came out to hold
their meeting in the Campagna.

The ambassadors spoke first, then Regulus, standing up, said, as one
repeating a task, 'Conscript fathers, being a slave to the
Carthaginians, I come on the part of my masters to treat with you
concerning peace, and an exchange of prisoners.' He then turned to go
away with the ambassadors, as a stranger might not be present at the
deliberations of the Senate. His old friends pressed him to stay and
give his opinion as a senator who had twice been consul; but he refused
to degrade that dignity by claiming it, slave as he was. But, at the
command of his Carthaginian masters, he remained, though not taking his
seat.

Then he spoke. He told the senators to persevere in the war. He said he
had seen the distress of Carthage, and that a peace would only be to her
advantage, not to that of Rome, and therefore he strongly advised that
the war should continue. Then, as to the exchange of prisoners, the
Carthaginian generals, who were in the hands of the Romans, were in full
health and strength, whilst he himself was too much broken down to be
fit for service again, and indeed he believed that his enemies had given
him a slow poison, and that he could not live long. Thus he insisted
that no exchange of prisoners should be made.

It was wonderful, even to Romans, to hear a man thus pleading against
himself, and their chief priest came forward, and declared that, as his
oath had been wrested from him by force, he was not bound to return to
his captivity. But Regulus was too noble to listen to this for a moment.
'Have you resolved to dishonor me?' he said. 'I am not ignorant that
death and the extremest tortures are preparing for me; but what are
these to the shame of an infamous action, or the wounds of a guilty
mind? Slave as I am to Carthage, I have still the spirit of a Roman. I
have sworn to return. It is my duty to go; let the gods take care of the
rest.'

The Senate decided to follow the advice of Regulus, though they bitterly
regretted his sacrifice. His wife wept and entreated in vain that they
would detain him; they could merely repeat their permission to him to
remain; but nothing could prevail with him to break his word, and he
turned back to the chains and death he expected so calmly as if he had
been returning to his home. This was in the year B.C. 249.

'Let the gods take care of the rest,' said the Roman; the gods whom
alone he knew, and through whom he ignorantly worshipped the true God,
whose Light was shining out even in this heathen's truth and constancy.
How his trust was fulfilled is not known. The Senate, after the next
victory, gave two Carthaginian generals to his wife and sons to hold as
pledges for his good treatment; but when tidings arrived that Regulus
was dead, Marcia began to treat them both with savage cruelty, though
one of them assured her that he had been careful to have her husband
well used. Horrible stories were told that Regulus had been put out in
the sun with his eyelids cut off, rolled down a hill in a barrel with
spikes, killed by being constantly kept awake, or else crucified. Marcia
seems to have set about, and perhaps believed in these horrors, and
avenged them on her unhappy captives till one had died, and the Senate
sent for her sons and severely reprimanded them. They declared it was
their mother's doing, not theirs, and thenceforth were careful of the
comfort of the remaining prisoner.

It may thus be hoped that the frightful tale of Regulus' sufferings was
but formed by report acting on the fancy of a vindictive woman, and that
Regulus was permitted to die in peace of the disease brought on far more
probably by the climate and imprisonment, than by the poison to which he
ascribed it. It is not the tortures he may have endured that make him
one of the noblest characters of history, but the resolution that would
neither let him save himself at the risk of his country's prosperity,
nor forfeit the word that he had pledged.




THE BRAVE BRETHREN OF JUDAH

B.C. 180



It was about 180 years before the Christian era. The Jews had long since
come home from Babylon, and built up their city and Temple at Jerusalem.
But they were not free as they had been before. Their country belonged
to some greater power, they had a foreign governor over them, and had to
pay tribute to the king who was their master.

At the time we are going to speak of, this king was Antiochus Epiphanes,
King of Syria. He was descended from one of those generals who, upon the
death of Alexander the Great, had shared the East between them, and he
reigned over all the country from the Mediterranean Sea even into Persia
and the borders of India. He spoke Greek, and believed in both the Greek
and Roman gods, for he had spent some time at Rome in his youth; but in
his Eastern kingdom he had learnt all the self-indulgent and violent
habits to which people in those hot countries are especially tempted.

He was so fierce and passionate, that he was often called the 'Madman',
and he was very cruel to all who offended him. One of his greatest
desires was, that the Jews should leave their true faith in one God, and
do like the Greeks and Syrians, his other subjects, worship the same
idols, and hold drunken feasts in their honor. Sad to say, a great many
of the Jews had grown ashamed of their own true religion and the strict
ways of their law, and thought them old-fashioned. They joined in the
Greek sports, played games naked in the theatre, joined in riotous
processions, carrying ivy in honor of Bacchus, the god of wine, and
offered incense to the idols; and the worst of all these was the false
high priest, Menelaus, who led the King Antiochus into the Temple
itself, even into the Holy of Holies, and told him all that would most
desecrate it and grieve the Jews. So a little altar to the Roman god
Jupiter was set up on the top of the great brazen altar of burnt
offerings, a hog was offered up, and broth of its flesh sprinkled
everywhere in the Temple; then all the precious vessels were seized, the
shewbread table of gold, the candlesticks, and the whole treasury, and
carried away by the king; the walls were thrown down, and the place made
desolate.

Some Jews were still faithful to their God, but they were horribly
punished and tortured to death before the eyes of the king; and when at
last he went away to his own country, taking with him the wicked high
priest Menelaus, he left behind him a governor and an army of soldiers
stationed in the tower of Acra, which overlooked the Temple hill, and
sent for an old man from Athens to teach the people the heathen rites
and ceremonies. Any person who observed the Sabbath day, or any other
ordinance of the law of Moses, was put to death in a most cruel manner;
all the books of the Old Testament Scripture that could be found were
either burnt or defiled, by having pictures of Greek gods painted upon
them; and the heathen priests went from place to place, with a little
brazen altar and image and a guard of soldiers, who were to kill every
person who refused to burn incense before the idol. It was the very
saddest time that the Jews had ever known, and there seemed no help near
or far off; they could have no hope, except in the promises that God
would never fail His people, or forsake His inheritance, and in the
prophecies that bad times should come, but good ones after them.

The Greeks, in going through the towns to enforce the idol worship, came
to a little city called Modin, somewhere on the hills on the coast of
the Mediterranean Sea, not far from Joppa. There they sent out, as
usual, orders to all the men of the town to meet them in the
marketplace; but they were told beforehand, that the chief person in the
place was an old man named Mattathias, of a priestly family, and so much
respected, that all the other inhabitants of the place were sure to do
whatever he might lead them in. So the Greeks sent for him first of all,
and he came at their summons, a grand and noble old man, followed by his
five sons, Johanan, Simon, Judas, Jonathan, and Eleazar. The Greek
priest tried to talk him over. He told him that the high priest had
forsaken the Jewish superstition, that the Temple was in ruins, and that
resistance was in vain; and exhorted him to obtain gratitude and honor
for himself, by leading his countrymen in thus adoring the deities of
the king's choice, promising him rewards and treasures if he would
comply.

But the old man spoke out with a loud and fearless voice: 'Though all
the nations that are under the king's dominion obey him, and fall away
every one from the religion of their fathers, and give consent to his
commandments; yet will I and my sons and my brethren walk in the
covenant of our fathers. God forbid that we should forsake the law and
the ordinances! We will not hearken to the king's words, to go from our
religion, either on the right hand or the left!'

As he spoke, up came an apostate Jew to do sacrifice at the heathen
altar. Mattathias trembled at the sight, and his zeal broke forth. He
slew the offender, and his brave sons gathering round him, they attacked
the Syrian soldiers, killed the commissioner, and threw down the altar.
Then, as they knew that they could not there hold out against the king's
power, Mattathias proclaimed throughout the city: 'Whosoever is zealous
of the law, and maintaineth the covenant, let him follow me!' With that,
he and his five sons, with their families, left their houses and lands,
and drove their cattle with them up into the wild hills and caves, where
David had once made his home; and all the Jews who wished to be still
faithful, gathered around them, to worship God and keep His
commandments.

There they were, a handful of brave men in the mountains, and all the
heathen world and apostate Jews against them. They used to come down
into the villages, remind the people of the law, promise their help, and
throw down any idol altars that they found, and the enemy never were
able to follow them into their rocky strongholds. But the old Mattathias
could not long bear the rude wild life in the cold mountains, and he
soon died. First he called all his five sons, and bade them to 'be
zealous for the law, and give their lives for the covenant of their
fathers'; and he reminded them of all the many brave men who had before
served God, and been aided in their extremity. He appointed his son
Judas, as the strongest and mightiest, to lead his brethren to battle,
and Simon, as the wisest, to be their counsellor; then he blessed them
and died; and his sons were able to bury him in the tomb of his fathers
at Modin.

Judas was one of the bravest men who ever lived; never dreading the
numbers that came against him. He was surnamed Maccabeus, which some
people say meant the hammerer; but others think it was made up of the
first letters of the words he carried on his banner, which meant 'Who is
like unto Thee, among the gods, O Lord?' Altogether he had about six
thousand men round him when the Greek governor, Apollonius, came out to
fight with him. The Jews gained here their first victory, and Judas
killed Apollonius, took his sword, and fought all his other battles with
it. Next came a captain called Seron, who went out to the hills to lay
hold of the bold rebels that dared to rise against the King of Syria.
The place where Judas met him was one to make the Jews' hearts leap with
hope and trust. It was on the steep stony broken hillside of Beth-horon,
the very place where Joshua had conquered the five kings of the
Amorites, in the first battle on the coming in of the children of Israel
to Palestine. There was the rugged path where Joshua had stood and
called out to the sun to stand still in Gibeon, and the moon in the
valley of Ajalon. Miracles were over, and Judas looked for no wonder to
help him; but when he came up the mountain road from Joppa, his heart
was full of the same trust as Joshua's, and he won another great
victory.

By this time King Antiochus began to think the rising of the Jews a
serious matter, but he could not come himself against them, because his
provinces in Armenia and Persia had refused their tribute, and he had to
go in person to reduce them. He appointed, however, a governor, named
Lysias, to chastise the Jews, giving him an army of 40,000 foot and 7000
horse. Half of these Lysias sent on before him, with two captains, named
Nicanor and Gorgias, thinking that these would be more than enough to
hunt down and crush the little handful that were lurking in the hills.
And with them came a great number of slave merchants, who had bargained
with Nicanor that they should have ninety Jews for one talent, to sell
to the Greeks and Romans, by whom Jewish slaves were much esteemed.

There was great terror in Palestine at these tidings, and many of the
weaker-minded fell away from Judas; but he called all the faithful
together at Mizpeh, the same place where, 1000 years before, Samuel had
collected the Israelites, and, after prayer and fasting, had sent them
forth to free their country from the Philistines. Shiloh, the sanctuary,
was then lying desolate, just as Jerusalem now lay in ruins; and yet
better times had come. But very mournful was that fast day at Mizpeh, as
the Jews looked along the hillside to their own holy mountain crowned by
no white marble and gold Temple flashing back the sunbeams, but only
with the tall castle of their enemies towering over the precipice. They
could not sacrifice, because a sacrifice could only be made at
Jerusalem, and the only book of the Scriptures that they had to read
from was painted over with the hateful idol figures of the Greeks. And
the huge army of enemies was ever coming nearer! The whole assembly
wept, and put on sackcloth and prayed aloud for help, and then there was
a loud sounding of trumpets, and Judas stood forth before them. And he
made the old proclamation that Moses had long ago decreed, that no one
should go out to battle who was building a house, or planting a
vineyard, or had just betrothed a wife, or who was fearful and faint-
hearted. All these were to go home again. Judas had 6,000 followers when
he made this proclamation. He had only 3,000 at the end of the day, and
they were but poorly armed. He told them of the former aid that had come
to their fathers in extremity, and made them bold with his noble words.
Then he gave them for their watchword 'the help of God', and divided the
leadership of the band between himself and his brothers, appointing
Eleazar, the youngest, to read the Holy Book.

With these valiant men, Judas set up his camp; but tidings were soon
brought him that Gorgias, with 5000 foot and 1000 horse, had left the
main body to fall on his little camp by night. He therefore secretly
left the place in the twilight; so that when the enemy attacked his
camp, they found it deserted, and supposing them to be hid in the
mountains, proceeded hither in pursuit of them.

But in the early morning Judas and his 3,000 men were all in battle
array in the plains, and marching full upon the enemy's camp with
trumpet sound, took them by surprise in the absence of Gorgias and his
choice troops, and utterly defeated and put them to flight, but without
pursuing them, since the fight with Gorgias and his 5,000 might be yet
to come. Even as Judas was reminding his men of this, Gorgias's troops
were seen looking down from the mountains where they had been wandering
all night; but seeing their own camp all smoke and flame, they turned
and fled away. Nine thousand of the invaders had been slain, and the
whole camp, full of arms and treasures, was in the hands of Judas, who
there rested for a Sabbath of glad thanksgiving, and the next day parted
the spoil, first putting out the share for the widows and orphans and
the wounded, and then dividing the rest among his warriors. As to the
slave merchants, they were all made prisoners, and instead of giving a
talent for ninety Jews, were sold themselves.

The next year Lysias came himself, but was driven back and defeated at
Bethshur, four or five miles south of Bethlehem. And now came the
saddest, yet the greatest, day of Judas's life, when he ventured to go
back into the holy city and take possession of the Temple again. The
strong tower of Acra, which stood on a ridge of Mount Moriah looking
down on the Temple rock, was still held by the Syrians, and he had no
means of taking it; but he and his men loved the sanctuary too well to
keep away from it, and again they marched up the steps and slopes that
led up the holy hill. They went up to find the walls broken, the gates
burnt, the cloisters and priests' chambers pulled down, and the courts
thickly grown with grass and shrubs, the altar of their one true God
with the false idol Jupiter's altar in the middle of it. These warriors,
who had turned three armies to flight, could not bear the sight. They
fell down on their faces, threw dust on their heads, and wept aloud for
the desolation of their holy place. But in the midst Judas caused the
trumpets to sound an alarm. They were to do something besides grieving.
The bravest of them were set to keep watch and ward against the Syrians
in the tower, while he chose out the most faithful priests to cleanse
out the sanctuary, and renew all that could be renewed, making new holy
vessels from the spoil taken in Nicanor's camp, and setting the stones
of the profaned altar apart while a new one was raised. On the third
anniversary of the great profanation, the Temple was newly dedicated,
with songs and hymns of rejoicing, and a festival day was appointed,
which has been observed by the Jews ever since. The Temple rock and city
were again fortified so as to be able to hold out against their enemies,
and this year and the next were the most prosperous of the life of the
loyal-hearted Maccabee.

The great enemy of the Jews, Antiochus Epiphanes, was in the meantime
dying in great agony in Persia, and his son Antiochus Eupator was set on
the throne by Lysias, who brought him with an enormous army to reduce
the rising in Judea. The fight was again at Bethshur, where Judas had
built a strong fort on a point of rock that guarded the road to Hebron.
Lysias tried to take this fort, and Judas came to the rescue with his
little army, to meet the far mightier Syrian force, which was made more
terrific by possessing thirty war elephants imported from the Indian
frontier. Each of these creatures carried a tower containing thirty-two
men armed with darts and javelins, and an Indian driver on his neck; and
they had 1000 foot and 500 horse attached to the special following of
the beast, who, gentle as he was by nature, often produced a fearful
effect on the enemy; not so much by his huge bulk as by the terror he
inspired among men, and far more among horses. The whole host was spread
over the mountains and the valleys so that it is said that their bright
armor and gold and silver shields made the mountains glisten like lamps
of fire.

Still Judas pressed on to the attack, and his brother Eleazar,
perceiving that one of the elephants was more adorned than the rest,
thought it might be carrying the king, and devoted himself for his
country. He fought his way to the monster, crept under it, and stabbed
it from beneath, so that the mighty weight sank down on him and crushed
him to death in his fall. He gained a 'perpetual name' for valor and
self-devotion; but the king was not upon the elephant, and after a hard-
fought battle, Judas was obliged to draw off and leave Bethshur to be
taken by the enemy, and to shut himself up in Jerusalem.

There, want of provisions had brought him to great distress, when
tidings came that another son of Antiochus Epiphanes had claimed the
throne, and Lysias made peace in haste with Judas, promising him full
liberty of worship, and left Palestine in peace.

This did not, however, last long. Lysias and his young master were slain
by the new king, Demetrius, who again sent an army for the subjection of
Judas, and further appointed a high priest, named Alcimus, of the family
of Aaron, but inclined to favor the new heathen fashions.

This was the most fatal thing that had happened to Judas. Though of the
priestly line, he was so much of a warrior, that he seems to have
thought it would be profane to offer sacrifice himself; and many of the
Jews were so glad of another high priest, that they let Alcimus into the
Temple, and Jerusalem was again lost to Judas. One more battle was won
by him at Beth-horon, and then finding how hard it was to make head
against the Syrians, he sent to ask the aid of the great Roman power.
But long before the answer could come, a huge Syrian army had marched in
on the Holy Land, 20,000 men, and Judas had again no more than 3000.
Some had gone over to Alcimus, some were offended at his seeking Roman
alliance, and when at Eleasah he came in sight of the host, his men's
hearts failed more than they ever had done before, and, out of the 3000
at first collected, only 800 stood with him, and they would fain have
persuaded him to retreat.

'God forbid that I should do this thing,' he said, 'and flee away from
them. If our time be come, let us die manfully for our brethren, and let
us not stain our honor.'

Sore was the battle, as sore as that waged by the 800 at Thermopylae,
and the end was the same. Judas and his 800 were not driven from the
field, but lay dead upon it. But their work was done. What is called the
moral effect of such a defeat goes further than many a victory. Those
lives, sold so dearly, were the price of freedom for Judea.

Judas's brothers Jonathan and Simon laid him in his father's tomb, and
then ended the work that he had begun; and when Simon died, the Jews,
once so trodden on, were the most prosperous race in the East. The
Temple was raised from its ruins, and the exploits of the Maccabees had
nerved the whole people to do or die in defense of the holy faith of
their fathers.




THE CHIEF OF THE ARVERNI

B.C. 52



We have seen the Gauls in the heart of Rome, we have now to see them
showing the last courage of despair, defending their native lands
against the greatest of all the conquerors that Rome ever sent forth.

These lands, where they had dwelt for so many years as justly to regard
them as their inheritance, were Gaul. There the Celtic race had had
their abode ever since history has spoken clearly, and had become, in
Gaul especially, slightly more civilized from intercourse with the Greek
colony at Massilia, or Marseilles. But they had become borderers upon
the Roman dominions, and there was little chance that they would not be
absorbed; the tribes of Provence, the first Roman province, were already
conquered, others were in alliance with Rome, and some had called in the
Romans to help them fight their battles. There is no occasion to
describe the seven years' war by which Julius Caesar added Gaul to the
provinces claimed by Rome, and when he visited Britain; such conquests
are far from being Golden Deeds, but are far worthier of the iron age.
It is the stand made by the losing party, and the true patriotism of one
young chieftain, that we would wish here to dwell upon.

In the sixth year of the war the conquest seemed to have been made, and
the Roman legions were guarding the north and west, while Caesar himself
had crossed the Alps. Subjection pressed heavily on the Gauls, some of
their chiefs had been put to death, and the high spirit of the nation
was stirred. Meetings took place between the warriors of the various
tribes, and an oath was taken by those who inhabited the centre of the
country, that if they once revolted, they would stand by one another to
the last. These Gauls were probably not tall, bony giants, like the
pillagers of Rome; their appearance and character would be more like
that of the modern Welsh, or of their own French descendants, small,
alert, and dark-eyed, full of fire, but, though fierce at the first
onset, soon rebuffed, yet with much perseverance in the long run. Their
worship was conducted by Druids, like that of the Britons, and their
dress was of checked material, formed into a loose coat and wide
trousers. The superior chiefs, who had had any dealings with Rome, would
speak a little Latin, and have a few Roman weapons as great improvements
upon their own. Their fortifications were wonderfully strong. Trunks of
trees were laid on the ground at two feet apart, so that the depth of
the wall was their full length. Over these another tier of beams was
laid crosswise, and the space between was filled up with earth, and the
outside faced with large stones; the building of earth and stone was
carried up to some height, then came another tier of timbers, crossed as
before, and this was repeated again to a considerable height, the inner
ends of the beams being fastened to a planking within the wall, so that
the whole was of immense compactness. Fire could not damage the mineral
part of the construction, nor the battering ram hurt the wood, and the
Romans had been often placed in great difficulties by these rude but
admirable constructions, within which the Gauls placed their families
and cattle, building huts for present shelter. Of late, some attempts
had been made at copying the regular streets and houses built round
courts that were in use among the Romans, and Roman colonies had been
established in various places, where veteran soldiers had received
grants of land on condition of keeping the natives in check. A growing
taste for arts and civilization was leading to Romans of inferior
classes settling themselves in other Gallic cities.

The first rising of the Gauls began by a quarrel at the city we now call
Orleans, ending in a massacre of all the Romans there. The tidings were
spread through all the country by loud shouts, repeated from one to the
other by men stationed on every hill, and thus, what had been done at
Orleans at sunrise was known by nine at night 160 miles off among the
mountains, which were then the homes of a tribe called by the Romans the
Arverni, who have left their name to the province of Auvergne.

Here dwelt a young chieftain, probably really called Fearcuincedorigh,
or Man who is chief of a hundred heads, known to us by Caesar's version
of his name, as Vercingetorix, a high-spirited youth, who keenly felt
the servitude of his country, and who, on receiving these tidings,
instantly called on his friends to endeavor to shake off the yoke. His
uncle, who feared to provoke Roman vengeance, expelled him from the
chief city, Gergovia, the remains of which may be traced on the mountain
still called Gergoie, about six miles from Clermont; but he collected
all the younger and more high-spirited men, forced a way into the city,
and was proclaimed chief of his tribe. All the neighboring tribes joined
in the league against the common enemy, and tidings were brought to
Caesar that the whole country round the Loire was in a state of revolt.

In the heart of winter he hurried back, and took the Gauls by surprise
by crossing the snows that lay thick on the wild waste of the Cebenna,
which the Arverni had always considered as their impenetrable barrier
throughout the winter. The towns quickly fell into his hands, and he was
rapidly recovering all he had lost, when Vercingetorix, collecting his
chief supporters, represented to them that their best hope would be in
burning all the inhabited places themselves and driving off all the
cattle, then lying in wait to cut off all the convoys of provisions that
should be sent to the enemy, and thus starving them into a retreat. He
said that burning houses were indeed a grievous sight, but it would be
more grievous to see their wives and children dragged into captivity. To
this all the allies agreed, and twenty towns in one district were burnt
in a single day; but when they came to the city of Avaricum, now called
Bourges, the tribe of Bituriges, to whom it belonged, entreated on their
knees not to be obliged to destroy the most beautiful city in the
country, representing that, as it had a river on one side, and a morass
everywhere else, except at a very narrow entrance, it might be easily
held out against the enemy, and to their entreaties Vercingetorix
yielded, though much against his own judgment.

Caesar laid siege to the place, but his army suffered severely from cold
and hunger; they had no bread at all, and lived only on the cattle
driven in from distant villages, while Vercingetorix hovered round,
cutting off their supplies. They however labored diligently to raise a
mount against a wall of the town; but as fast as they worked, the higher
did the Gauls within raise the stages of their rampart, and for twenty-
five days there was a most brave defense; but at last the Romans made
their entrance, and slaughtered all they found there, except 800, who
escaped to the camp of Vercingetorix. He was not disconcerted by this
loss, which he had always expected, but sheltered and clothed the
fugitives, and raised a great body of archers and of horsemen, with whom
he returned to his own territory in Auvergne. There was much fighting
around the city of Gergovia; but at length, owing to the revolt of the
Aedui, another Gallic tribe, Caesar was forced to retreat over the
Loire; and the wild peaks of volcanic Auvergne were free again.

But no gallant resolution could long prevail against the ever-advancing
power of Rome, and at length the Gauls were driven into their fortified
camp at Alesia, now called Alise [footnote: In Burgundy, between Semur
and Dijon.], a city standing on a high hill, with two rivers flowing
round its base, and a plain in front about three miles wide. Everywhere
else it was circled in by high hills, and here Caesar resolved to shut
these brave men in and bring them to bay. He caused his men to begin
that mighty system of earthworks by which the Romans carried on their
attacks, compassing their victim round on every side with a deadly
slowness and sureness, by those broad ditches and terraced ramparts that
everywhere mark where their foot of iron was trod. Eleven miles round
did this huge rampart extend, strengthened by three-and-twenty redoubts,
or places of defense, where a watch was continually kept. Before the
lines were complete, Vercingetorix brought out his cavalry, and gave
battle, at one time with a hope of success; but the enemy were too
strong for him, and his horsemen were driven into the camp. He then
resolved to send home all of these, since they could be of no use in the
camp, and had better escape before the ditch should have shut them in on
every side. He charged them to go to their several tribes and endeavor
to assemble all the fighting men to come to his rescue; for, if he were
not speedily succored, he and 80,000 of the bravest of the Gauls must
fall into the hands of the Romans, since he had only corn for thirty
days, even with the utmost saving.

Having thus exhorted them, he took leave of them, and sent them away at
nine at night, so that they might escape in the dark where the Roman
trench had not yet extended. Then he distributed the cattle among his
men, but retained the corn himself, serving it out with the utmost
caution. The Romans outside fortified their camp with a double ditch,
one of them full of water, behind which was a bank twelve feet high,
with stakes forked like the horns of a stag. The space between the
ditches was filled with pits, and scattered with iron caltrops or hooked
spikes. All this was against the garrison, to prevent them from breaking
out; and outside the camp he made another line of ditches and ramparts
against the Gauls who might be coming to the rescue.

The other tribes were not deaf to the summons of their friends, but
assembled in large numbers, and just as the besieged had exhausted their
provisions, an army was seen on the hills beyond the camp. Their
commander was Vergosillaunus (most probably Fearsaighan, the Man of the
Standard), a near kinsman of Vercingetorix; and all that bravery could
do, they did to break through the defenses of the camp from outside,
while within, Vercingetorix and his 80,000 tried to fill up the ditches,
and force their way out to meet their friends. But Caesar himself
commanded the Romans, who were confident in his fortunes, and raised a
shout of ecstasy wherever they beheld his thin, marked, eagle face and
purple robe, rushing on the enemy with a confidence of victory that did
in fact render them invincible. The Gauls gave way, lost seventy-four of
their standards, and Vergosillaunus himself was taken a prisoner; and as
for the brave garrison within Alesia, they were but like so many flies
struggling in vain within the enormous web that had been woven around
them. Hope was gone, but the chief of the Arverni could yet do one thing
for his countrymen--he could offer up himself in order to obtain better
terms for them.

The next day he convened his companions in arms, and told them that he
had only fought for the freedom of their country, not to secure his
private interest; and that now, since yield they must, he freely offered
himself to become a victim for their safety, whether they should judge
it best for themselves to appease the anger of the conqueror by putting
him to death themselves, or whether they preferred giving him up alive.

It was a piteous necessity to have to sacrifice their noblest and
bravest, who had led them so gallantly during the long war; but they had
little choice, and could only send messengers to the camp to offer to
yield Vercingetorix as the price of their safety. Caesar made it known
that he was willing to accept their submission, and drawing up his
troops in battle array, with the Eagle standards around him, he watched
the whole Gallic army march past him. First, Vercingetorix was placed as
a prisoner in his hands, and then each man lay down sword, javelin, or
bow and arrows, helmet, buckler and breastplate, in one mournful heap,
and proceeded on his way, scarcely thankful that the generosity of their
chieftain had purchased for them subjection rather than death.

Vercingetorix himself had become the property of the great man from whom
alone we know of his deeds; who could perceive his generous spirit and
high qualities as a general, nay, who honored the self-devotion by which
he endeavored to save his countrymen. He remained in captivity--six long
years sped by--while Caesar passed the Rubicon, fought out his struggle
for power at Rome, and subdued Egypt, Pontus, and Northern Africa--and
all the time the brave Gaul remained closely watched and guarded, and
with no hope of seeing the jagged peaks and wild valleys of his own
beautiful Auvergne. For well did he, like every other marked foe of
Rome, know for what he was reserved, and no doubt he yielded himself in
the full expectation of that fate which many a man, as brave as he, had
escaped by self-destruction.

The day came at last. In July, B.C. 45, the victorious Caesar had
leisure to celebrate his victories in four grand triumphs, all in one
month, and that in honor of the conquest of Gaul came the first. The
triumphal gate of Rome was thrown wide open, every house was decked with
hangings of silk and tapestry, the household images of every family,
dressed with fresh flowers, were placed in their porches, those of the
gods stood on the steps of the temples, and in marched the procession,
the magistrates first in their robes of office, and then the trumpeters.
Next came the tokens of the victory--figures of the supposed gods of the
two great rivers, Rhine and Rhone, and even of the captive Ocean, made
in gold, were carried along, with pictures framed in citron wood,
showing the scenes of victory--the wild waste of the Cevennes, the steep
peaks of Auvergne, the mighty camp of Alesia; nay, there too would be
the white cliffs of Dover, and the struggle with the Britons on the
beach. Models in wood and ivory showed the fortifications of Avaricum,
and of many another city; and here too were carried specimens of the
olives and vines, and other curious plants of the newly won land; here
was the breastplate of British pearls that Caesar dedicated to Venus. A
band of flute-players followed, and then came the white oxen that were
to be sacrificed, their horns gilded and flowers hung round them, the
sacrificing priests with wreathed heads marching with them. Specimens of
bears and wolves from the woods and mountains came next in order, and
after them waved for the last time the national ensigns of the many
tribes of Gaul. Once more Vercingetorix and Vergosillaunus saw their own
Arvernian standard, and marched behind it with the noblest of their
clan: once more they wore their native dress and well-tried armor. But
chains were on their hands and feet, and the men who had fought so long
and well for freedom, were the captive gazing-stock of Rome. Long, long
was the line of chained Gauls of every tribe, before the four white
horses appeared, all abreast, drawing the gilded car, in which stood a
slight form in a purple robe, with the bald head and narrow temples
encircled with a wreath of bay, the thin cheeks tinted with vermilion,
the eager aquiline face and narrow lips gravely composed to Roman
dignity, and the quick eye searching out what impression the display was
making on the people. Over his head a slave held a golden crown, but
whispered, 'Remember that thou too art a man.' And in following that old
custom, how little did the victor know that, bay-crowned like himself,
there followed close behind, in one of the chariots of the officers, the
man whose dagger-thrust would, two years later, be answered by his dying
word of reproach! The horsemen of the army followed, and then the
legions, every spear wreathed, every head crowned with bay, so that an
evergreen grove might have seemed marching through the Roman streets,
but for the war songs, and the wild jests, and ribald ballads that
custom allowed the soldiers to shout out, often in pretended mockery of
their own victorious general, the Imperator.

The victor climbed the Capitol steps, and laid his wreath of bay on
Jupiter's knees, the white oxen were sacrificed, and the feast began by
torchlight. Where was the vanquished? He was led to the dark prison
vault in the side of Capitoline hill, and there one sharp sword-thrust
ended the gallant life and long captivity.

It was no special cruelty in Julius Caesar. Every Roman triumph was
stained by the slaughter of the most distinguished captives, after the
degradation of walking in chains had been undergone. He had spirit to
appreciate Vercingetorix, but had not nobleness to spare him from the
ordinary fate. Yet we may doubt which, in true moral greatness, was the
superior in that hour of triumph, the conqueror who trod down all that
he might minister to his own glory, or the conquered, who, when no
resistance had availed, had voluntarily confronted shame and death in
hopes to win pardon and safety for his comrades.




WITHSTANDING THE MONARCH IN HIS WRATH

A.D. 389



When a monarch's power is unchecked by his people, there is only One to
whom he believes himself accountable; and if he have forgotten the
dagger of Damocles, or if he be too high-spirited to regard it, then
that Higher One alone can restrain his actions. And there have been
times when princes have so broken the bounds of right, that no hope
remains of recalling them to their duty save by the voice of the
ministers of God upon Earth. But as these ministers bear no charmed
life, and are subjects themselves of the prince, such rebukes have been
given at the utmost risk of liberty and life.

Thus it was that though Nathan, unharmed, showed David his sin, and
Elijah, the wondrous prophet of Gilead, was protected from Jezebel's
fury, when he denounced her and her husband Ahab for the idolatry of
Baal and the murder of Naboth; yet no Divine hand interposed to shield
Zachariah, the son of Jehoiada, the high priest, when he rebuked the
apostasy of his cousin, Jehoash, King of Judah, and was stoned to death
by the ungrateful king's command in that very temple court where
Jehoiada and his armed Levites had encountered the savage usurping
Athaliah, and won back the kingdom for the child Jehoash. And when 'in
the spirit and power of Elijah', St. John the Baptist denounced the sin
of Herod Antipas in marrying his brother Philip's wife, he bore the
consequences to the utmost, when thrown into prison and then beheaded to
gratify the rage of the vindictive woman.

Since Scripture Saints in the age of miracles were not always shielded
from the wrath of kings, Christian bishops could expect no special
interposition in their favor, when they stood forth to stop the way of
the sovereign's passions, and to proclaim that the cause of mercy,
purity, and truth is the cause of God.

The first of these Christian bishops was Ambrose, the sainted prelate of
Milan. It was indeed a Christian Emperor whom he opposed, no other than
the great Theodosius, but it was a new and unheard-of thing for any
voice to rebuke an Emperor of Rome, and Theodosius had proved himself a
man of violent passions.

The fourth century was a time when races and all sorts of shows were the
fashion, nay, literally the rage; for furious quarrels used to arise
among the spectators who took the part of one or other of the
competitors, and would call themselves after their colours, the Blues or
the Greens. A favorite chariot driver, who had excelled in these races
at Thessalonica, was thrown into prison for some misdemeanor by
Botheric, the Governor of Illyria, and his absence so enraged the
Thessalonican mob, that they rose in tumult, and demanded his
restoration. On being refused, they threw such a hail of stones that the
governor himself and some of his officers were slain.

Theodosius might well be displeased, but his rage passed all bounds. He
was at Milan at the time, and at first Ambrose so worked on his feelings
as to make him promise to temper justice with mercy; but afterwards
fresh accounts of the murder, together with the representations of his
courtier Rufinus, made him resolve not to relent, and he sent off
messengers commanding that there should be a general slaughter of all
the race-going Thessalonicans, since all were equally guilty of
Botheric's death. He took care that his horrible command should be kept
a secret from Ambrose, and the first that the Bishop heard of it was the
tidings that 7,000 persons had been killed in the theatre, in a massacre
lasting three hours!

There was no saving these lives, but Ambrose felt it his duty to make
the Emperor feel his sin, in hopes of saving others. Besides, it was not
consistent with the honor of God to receive at his altar a man reeking
with innocent blood. The Bishop, however, took time to consider; he went
into the country for a few days, and thence wrote a letter to the
Emperor, telling him that thus stained with crime, he could not be
admitted to the Holy Communion, nor received into church. Still the
Emperor does not seem to have believed he could be really withstood by
any subject, and on Ambrose's return, he found the imperial procession,
lictors, guards, and all, escorting the Emperor as usual to the Basilica
or Justice Hall, that had been turned into a church.
Then to the door came the Bishop and stood in the way, forbidding the
entrance, and announcing that there, at least, sacrilege should not be
added to murder.

'Nay,' said the Emperor, 'did not holy King David commit both murder and
adultery, yet was he not received again?'

'If you have sinned like him, repent like him,' answered Ambrose.

Theodosius turned away, troubled. He was great enough not to turn his
anger against the Bishop; he felt that he had sinned, and that the
chastisement was merited, and he went back to his palace weeping, and
there spent eight months, attending to his duties of state, but too
proud to go through the tokens of penitence that the discipline of the
Church had prescribed before a great sinner could be received back into
the congregation of the faithful. Easter was the usual time for
reconciling penitents, and Ambrose was not inclined to show any respect
of persons, or to excuse the Emperor from a penance he would have
imposed on any offender. However, Rufinus could not believe in such
disregard, and thought all would give way to the Emperor's will.
Christmas had come, but for one man at Milan there were no hymns, no
shouts of 'glad tidings!' no midnight festival, no rejoicing that 'to us
a Child is born; to us a Son is given'. The Basilica was thronged with
worshippers and rang with their Amens, resounding like thunder, and
their echoing song--the Te Deum--then their newest hymn of praise. But
the lord of all those multitudes was alone in his palace. He had not
shown good will to man; he had not learnt mercy and peace from the
Prince of Peace; and the door was shut upon him. He was a resolute
Spanish Roman, a well-tried soldier, a man advancing in years, but he
wept, and wept bitterly. Rufinus found him thus weeping. It must have
been strange to the courtier that his master did not send his lictors to
carry the offending bishop to a dungeon, and give all his court favor to
the heretics, like the last empress who had reigned at Milan. Nay, he
might even, like Julian the Apostate, have altogether renounced that
Christian faith which could humble an emperor below the poorest of his
subjects.

But Rufinus contented himself with urging the Emperor not to remain at
home lamenting, but to endeavor again to obtain admission into the
church, assuring him that the Bishop would give way. Theodosius replied
that he did not expect it, but yielded to the persuasions, and Rufinus
hastened on before to warn the Bishop of his coming, and represented how
inexpedient it was to offend him.

'I warn you,' replied Ambrose, 'that I shall oppose his entrance, but if
he chooses to turn his power into tyranny, I shall willingly let him
slay me.'

The Emperor did not try to enter the church, but sought Ambrose in an
adjoining building, where he entreated to be absolved from his sin.

'Beware,' returned the Bishop, 'of trampling on the laws of God.'
'I respect them,' said the Emperor, 'therefore I have not set foot in
the church, but I pray thee to deliver me from these bonds, and not to
close against me the door that the Lord hath opened to all who truly
repent.'

'What repentance have you shown for such a sin?' asked Ambrose.

'Appoint my penance,' said the Emperor, entirely subdued.

And Ambrose caused him at once to sign a decree that thirty days should
always elapse between a sentence of death and its execution. After this,
Theodosius was allowed to come into the church, but only to the corner
he had shunned all these eight months, till the 'dull hard stone within
him' had 'melted', to the spot appointed for the penitents. There,
without his crown, his purple robe, and buskins, worked with golden
eagles, all laid aside, he lay prostrate on the stones, repeating the
verse, 'My soul cleaveth unto the dust; quicken me, O Lord, according to
thy word.' This was the place that penitents always occupied, and there
fasts and other discipline were also appointed. When the due course had
been gone through, probably at the next Easter, Ambrose, in his Master's
name, pronounced the forgiveness of Theodosius, and received him back to
the full privileges of a Christian. When we look at the course of many
another emperor, and see how easily, where the power was irresponsible,
justice became severity, and severity, bloodthirstiness, we see what
Ambrose dared to meet, and from what he spared Theodosius and all the
civilized world under his sway. Who can tell how many innocent lives
have been saved by that thirty days' respite?

Pass over nearly 700 years, and again we find a church door barred
against a monarch. This time it is not under the bright Italian sky, but
under the grey fogs of the Baltic sea. It is not the stately marble
gateway of the Milanese Basilica, but the low-arched, rough stone portal
of the newly built cathedral of Roskilde, in Zealand, where, if a zigzag
surrounds the arch, it is a great effort of genius. The Danish king
Swend, the nephew of the well-known Knut, stands before it; a stern and
powerful man, fierce and passionate, and with many a Danish axe at his
command. Nay, only lately for a few rude jests, he caused some of his
chief jarls to be slain without a trial. Half the country is still
pagan, and though the king himself is baptized, there is no certainty
that, if the Christian faith do not suit his taste, he may not join the
heathen party and return to the worship of Thor and Tyr, where deeds of
blood would be not blameworthy, but a passport to the rude joys of
Valhall. Nevertheless there is a pastoral staff across the doorway,
barring the way of the king, and that staff is held against him by an
Englishman, William, Bishop of Roskilde, the missionary who had
converted a great part of Zealand, but who will not accept Christians
who have not laid aside their sins.

He confronts the king who has never been opposed before. 'Go back,' he
says, 'nor dare approach the alter of God--thou who art not a king but a
murderer.'

Some of the jarls seized their swords and axes, and were about to strike
the bishop away from the threshold, but he, without removing his staff,
bent his head, and bade them strike, saying he was ready to die in the
cause of God. But the king came to a better frame of mind, he called the
jarls away, and returning humbly to his palace, took off his royal
robes, and came again barefoot and in sackcloth to the church door,
where Bishop William met him, took him by the hand, gave him the kiss of
peace, and led him to the penitents' place. After three days he was
absolved, and for the rest of his life, the bishop and the king lived in
the closest friendship, so much so that William always prayed that even
in death he might not be divided from his friend. The prayer was
granted. The two died almost at the same time, and were buried together
in the cathedral at Roskilde, where the one had taught and other learnt
the great lesson of mercy.




THE LAST FIGHT IN THE COLISEUM

A.D. 404



As the Romans grew prouder and more fond of pleasure, no one could hope
to please them who did not give them sports and entertainments. When any
person wished to be elected to any public office, it was a matter of
course that he should compliment his fellow citizens by exhibitions of
the kind they loved, and when the common people were discontented, their
cry was that they wanted panem ac Circenses, 'bread and sports', the
only things they cared for. In most places where there has been a large
Roman colony, remains can be seen of the amphitheatres, where the
citizens were wont to assemble for these diversions. Sometimes these are
stages of circular galleries of seats hewn out of the hillside, where
rows of spectators might sit one above the other, all looking down on a
broad, flat space in the centre, under their feet, where the
representations took place. Sometimes, when the country was flat, or it
was easier to build than to excavate, the amphitheatre was raised above
ground, rising up to a considerable height.

The grandest and most renowned of all these amphitheatres is the
Coliseum at Rome. It was built by Vespasian and his son Titus, the
conquerors of Jerusalem, in a valley in the midst of the seven hills of
Rome. The captive Jews were forced to labour at it; and the materials,
granite outside, and softer travertine stone within, are so solid and so
admirably built, that still at the end of eighteen centuries it has
scarcely even become a ruin, but remains one of the greatest wonders of
Rome.

Five acres of ground were enclosed within the oval of its outer wall,
which outside rises perpendicularly in tiers of arches one above the
other. Within, the galleries of seats projected forwards, each tier
coming out far beyond the one above it, so that between the lowest and
the outer wall there was room for a great space of chambers, passages,
and vaults around the central space, called the arena, from the arena,
or sand, with which it was strewn.

When the Roman Emperors grew very vain and luxurious, they used to have
this sand made ornamental with metallic filings, vermilion, and even
powdered precious stones; but it was thought better taste to use the
scrapings of a soft white stone, which, when thickly strewn, made the
whole arena look as if covered with untrodden snow. Around the border of
this space flowed a stream of fresh water. Then came a straight wall,
rising to a considerable height, and surmounted by a broad platform, on
which stood a throne for the Emperor, curule chairs of ivory and gold
for the chief magistrates and senators, and seats for the vestal
virgins. Next above were galleries for the equestrian order, the great
mass of those who considered themselves as of gentle station, though not
of the highest rank; farther up, and therefore farther back, were the
galleries belonging to the freemen of Rome; and these were again
surmounted by another plain wall with a platform on the top, where were
places for the ladies, who were not (except the vestal virgins) allowed
to look on nearer, because of the unclothed state of some of the
performers in the arena. Between the ladies' boxes, benches were
squeezed in where the lowest people could seat themselves; and some of
these likewise found room in the two uppermost tiers of porticoes, where
sailors, mechanics, and persons in the service of the Coliseum had their
post. Altogether, when full, this huge building held no less than 87,000
spectators. It had no roof; but when there was rain, or if the sun was
too hot, the sailors in the porticoes unfurled awnings that ran along
upon ropes, and formed a covering of silk and gold tissue over the
whole. Purple was the favorite color for this velamen, or veil; because,
when the sun shone through it, it cast such beautiful rosy tints on the
snowy arena and the white purple-edged togas of the Roman citizens.

Long days were spent from morning till evening upon those galleries. The
multitude who poured in early would watch the great dignitaries arrive
and take their seats, greeting them either with shouts of applause or
hootings of dislike, according as they were favorites or otherwise; and
when the Emperor came in to take his place under his canopy, there was
one loud acclamation, 'Joy to thee, master of all, first of all,
happiest of all. Victory to thee for ever!'

When the Emperor had seated himself and given the signal, the sports
began. Sometimes a rope-dancing elephant would begin the entertainment,
by mounting even to the summit of the building and descending by a cord.
Then a bear, dressed up as a Roman matron, would be carried along in a
chair between porters, as ladies were wont to go abroad, and another
bear, in a lawyer's robe, would stand on his hind legs and go through
the motions of pleading a case. Or a lion came forth with a jeweled
crown on his head, a diamond necklace round his neck, his mane plaited
with gold, and his claws gilded, and played a hundred pretty gentle
antics with a little hare that danced fearlessly within his grasp. Then
in would come twelve elephants, six males in togas, six females with the
veil and pallium; they took their places on couches around an ivory
table, dined with great decorum, playfully sprinkled a little rosewater
over the nearest spectators, and then received more guests of their
unwieldy kind, who arrived in ball dresses, scattered flowers, and
performed a dance.

Sometimes water was let into the arena, a ship sailed in, and falling to
pieces in the midst, sent a crowd of strange animals swimming in all
directions. Sometimes the ground opened, and trees came growing up
through it, bearing golden fruit. Or the beautiful old tale of Orpheus
was acted; these trees would follow the harp and song of the musician;
but--to make the whole part complete--it was no mere play, but real
earnest, that the Orpheus of the piece fell a prey to live bears.

For the Coliseum had not been built for such harmless spectacles as
those first described. The fierce Romans wanted to be excited and feel
themselves strongly stirred; and, presently, the doors of the pits and
dens round the arena were thrown open, and absolutely savage beasts were
let loose upon one another--rhinoceroses and tigers, bulls and lions,
leopards and wild boars--while the people watched with savage curiosity
to see the various kinds of attack and defense; or, if the animals were
cowed or sullen, their rage would be worked up--red would be shown to
the bulls, white to boars, red-hot goads would be driven into some,
whips would be lashed at others, till the work of slaughter was fairly
commenced, and gazed on with greedy eyes and ears delighted, instead of
horror-struck, by the roars and howls of the noble creatures whose
courage was thus misused. Sometimes indeed, when some especially strong
or ferocious animal had slain a whole heap of victims, the cries of the
people would decree that it should be turned loose in its native forest,
and, amid shouts of 'A triumph! a triumph!' the beast would prowl round
the arena, upon the carcasses of the slain victims. Almost incredible
numbers of animals were imported for these cruel sports, and the
governors of distant provinces made it a duty to collect troops of
lions, elephants, ostriches, leopards--the fiercer or the newer the
creature the better--to be thus tortured to frenzy, to make sport in the
amphitheatre. However, there was daintiness joined with cruelty: the
Romans did not like the smell of blood, though they enjoyed the sight of
it, and all the solid stonework was pierced with tubes, through which
was conducted the stream of spices and saffron, boiled in wine, that the
perfume might overpower the scent of slaughter below.

Wild beasts tearing each other to pieces might, one would think, satisfy
any taste of horror; but the spectators needed even nobler game to be
set before their favorite monsters--men were brought forward to confront
them. Some of these were at first in full armor, and fought hard,
generally with success; and there was a revolving machine, something
like a squirrel's cage, in which the bear was always climbing after his
enemy, and then rolling over by his own weight. Or hunters came, almost
unarmed, and gaining the victory by swiftness and dexterity, throwing a
piece of cloth over a lion's head, or disconcerting him by putting their
fist down his throat. But it was not only skill, but death, that the
Romans loved to see; and condemned criminals and deserters were reserved
to feast the lions, and to entertain the populace with their various
kinds of death. Among these condemned was many a Christian martyr, who
witnessed a good confession before the savage-eyed multitude around the
arena, and 'met the lion's gory mane' with a calm resolution and hopeful
joy that the lookers-on could not understand. To see a Christian die,
with upward gaze and hymns of joy on his tongue, was the most strange
unaccountable sight the Coliseum could offer, and it was therefore the
choicest, and reserved for the last part of the spectacles in which the
brute creation had a part.

The carcasses were dragged off with hooks, and bloodstained sand was
covered with a fresh clean layer, the perfume wafted in stronger clouds,
and a procession came forward--tall, well-made men, in the prime of
their strength. Some carried a sword and a lasso, others a trident and a
net; some were in light armor, others in the full heavy equipment of a
soldier; some on horseback, some in chariots, some on foot. They marched
in, and made their obeisance to the Emperor; and with one voice, their
greeting sounded through the building, Ave, Caesar, morituri te
salutant! 'Hail, Caesar, those about to die salute thee!'

They were the gladiators--the swordsmen trained to fight to the death to
amuse the populace. They were usually slaves placed in schools of arms
under the care of a master; but sometimes persons would voluntarily hire
themselves out to fight by way of a profession: and both these, and such
slave gladiators as did not die in the arena, would sometimes retire,
and spend an old age of quiet; but there was little hope of this, for
the Romans were not apt to have mercy on the fallen.

Fights of all sorts took place--the light-armed soldier and the netsman
--the lasso and the javelin--the two heavy-armed warriors--all
combinations of single combat, and sometimes a general melee. When a
gladiator wounded his adversary, he shouted to the spectators, Hoc
habet! 'He has it!' and looked up to know whether he should kill or
spare. If the people held up their thumbs, the conquered was left to
recover, if he could; if they turned them down, he was to die: and if he
showed any reluctance to present his throat for the deathblow, there was
a scornful shout, Recipe ferrum! 'Receive the steel!' Many of us must
have seen casts of the most touching statue of the wounded man, that
called forth the noble lines of indignant pity which, though so often
repeated, cannot be passed over here:


      'I see before me the Gladiator lie;
       He leans upon his hand--his manly brow
       Consents to death, but conquers agony.
       And his droop'd head sinks gradually low,
       And through his side the last drops, ebbing slow
       From the red gash, fall heavy one by one,
       Like the first of a thunder shower; and now
       The arena swims around him--he is gone
  Ere ceased the inhuman shout which hailed the wretch who won.

       'He heard it, but he heeded no--this eyes
       Were with his heart, and that was far away.
       He reck'd not of the life he lost, nor prize,
       But where his rude hut by the Danube lay,
       There were his young barbarians all at play,
       There was their Dacian mother--he their sire,
       Butcher'd to make a Roman holiday.
       All this rush'd with his blood--Shall he expire,
  And unavenged? Arise ye Goths and glut your ire.'


Sacred vestals, tender mothers, fat, good-humored senators, all thought
it fair play, and were equally pitiless in the strange frenzy for
exciting scenes to which they gave themselves up, when they mounted the
stone stairs of the Coliseum. Privileged persons would even descend into
the arena, examine the death agonies, and taste the blood of some
specially brave victim ere the corpse was drawn forth at the death gate,
that the frightful game might continue undisturbed and unencumbered.
Gladiator shows were the great passion of Rome, and popular favor could
hardly be gained except by ministering to it. Even when the barbarians
were beginning to close in on the Empire, hosts of brave men were still
kept for this slavish mimic warfare--sport to the beholders, but sad
earnest to the actors.

Christianity worked its way upwards, and at least was professed by the
Emperor on his throne. Persecution came to an end, and no more martyrs
fed the beasts in the Coliseum. The Christian emperors endeavored to
prevent any more shows where cruelty and death formed the chief interest
and no truly religious person could endure the spectacle; but custom and
love of excitement prevailed even against the Emperor. Mere tricks of
beasts, horse and chariot races, or bloodless contests, were tame and
dull, according to the diseased taste of Rome; it was thought weak and
sentimental to object to looking on at a death scene; the Emperors were
generally absent at Constantinople, and no one could get elected to any
office unless he treated the citizens to such a show as they best liked,
with a little bloodshed and death to stir their feelings; and thus it
went on for full a hundred years after Rome had, in name, become a
Christian city, and the same custom prevailed wherever there was an
amphitheatre and pleasure-loving people.

Meantime the enemies of Rome were coming nearer and nearer, and Alaric,
the great chief of the Goths, led his forces into Italy, and threatened
the city itself. Honorius, the Emperor, was a cowardly, almost
idiotical, boy; but his brave general, Stilicho, assembled his forces,
met the Goths at Pollentia (about twenty-five miles from where Turin now
stands), and gave them a complete defeat on the Easter Day of the year
403. He pursued them into the mountains, and for that time saved Rome.
In the joy of the victory the Roman senate invited the conqueror and his
ward Honorius to enter the city in triumph, at the opening of the new
year, with the white steeds, purple robes, and vermilion cheeks with
which, of old, victorious generals were welcomed at Rome. The churches
were visited instead of the Temple of Jupiter, and there was no murder
of the captives; but Roman bloodthirstiness was not yet allayed, and,
after all the procession had been completed, the Coliseum shows
commenced, innocently at first, with races on foot, on horseback, and in
chariots; then followed a grand hunting of beasts turned loose in the
arena; and next a sword dance. But after the sword dance came the
arraying of swordsmen, with no blunted weapons, but with sharp spears
and swords--a gladiator combat in full earnest. The people, enchanted,
applauded with shouts of ecstasy this gratification of their savage
tastes. Suddenly, however, there was an interruption. A rude, roughly
robed man, bareheaded and barefooted, had sprung into the arena, and,
signing back the gladiators, began to call aloud upon the people to
cease from the shedding of innocent blood, and not to requite God's
mercy in turning away the sword of the enemy by encouraging murder.
Shouts, howls, cries, broke in upon his words; this was no place for
preachings--the old customs of Rome should be observed 'Back, old man!'
'On, gladiators!' The gladiators thrust aside the meddler, and rushed to
the attack. He still stood between, holding them apart, striving in vain
to be heard. 'Sedition! Sedition!' 'Down with him!' was the cry; and the
man in authority, Alypius, the prefect, himself added his voice. The
gladiators, enraged at interference with their vocation, cut him down.
Stones, or whatever came to hand, rained down upon him from the furious
people, and he perished in the midst of the arena! He lay dead, and then
came the feeling of what had been done.

His dress showed that he was one of the hermits who vowed themselves to
a holy life of prayer and self-denial, and who were greatly reverenced,
even by the most thoughtless. The few who had previously seen him, told
that he had come from the wilds of Asia on pilgrimage, to visit the
shrines and keep his Christmas at Rome--they knew he was a holy man--no
more, and it is not even certain whether his name was Alymachus or
Telemachus. His spirit had been stirred by the sight of thousands
flocking to see men slaughter one another, and in his simple-hearted
zeal he had resolved to stop the cruelty or die. He had died, but not in
vain. His work was done. The shock of such a death before their eyes
turned the hearts of the people; they saw the wickedness and cruelty to
which they had blindly surrendered themselves; and from the day when the
hermit died in the Coliseum there was never another fight of the
Gladiators. Not merely at Rome, but in every province of the Empire, the
custom was utterly abolished; and one habitual crime at least was wiped
from the earth by the self-devotion of one humble, obscure, almost
nameless man.




THE SHEPHERD GIRL OF NANTERRE

A.D. 438



Four hundred years of the Roman dominion had entirely tamed the once
wild and independent Gauls. Everywhere, except in the moorlands of
Brittany, they had become as much like Romans themselves as they could
accomplish; they had Latin names, spoke the Latin tongue, all their
personages of higher rank were enrolled as Roman citizens, their chief
cities were colonies where the laws were administered by magistrates in
the Roman fashion, and the houses, dress, and amusements were the same
as those of Italy. The greater part of the towns had been converted to
Christianity, though some Paganism still lurked in the more remote
villages and mountainous districts.

It was upon these civilized Gauls that the terrible attacks came from
the wild nations who poured out of the centre and east of Europe. The
Franks came over the Rhine and its dependent rivers, and made furious
attacks upon the peaceful plains, where the Gauls had long lived in
security, and reports were everywhere heard of villages harried by wild
horsemen, with short double-headed battleaxes, and a horrible short
pike, covered with iron and with several large hooks, like a gigantic
artificial minnow, and like it fastened to a long rope, so that the prey
which it had grappled might be pulled up to the owner. Walled cities
usually stopped them, but every farm or villa outside was stripped of
its valuables, set on fire, the cattle driven off, and the more healthy
inhabitants seized for slaves.

It was during this state of things that a girl was born to a wealthy
peasant at the village now called Nanterre, about two miles from
Lutetia, which was already a prosperous city, though not as yet so
entirely the capital as it was destined to become under the name of
Paris. She was christened by an old Gallic name, probably Gwenfrewi, or
White Stream, in Latin Genovefa, but she is best known by the late
French form of Genevieve. When she was about seven years old, two
celebrated bishops passed through the village, Germanus, of Auxerre, and
Lupus, of Troyes, who had been invited to Britain to dispute the false
doctrine of Pelagius. All the inhabitants flocked into the church to see
them, pray with them, and receive their blessing; and here the sweet
childish devotion of Genevieve so struck Germanus, that he called her to
him, talked to her, made her sit beside him at the feast, gave her his
special blessing, and presented her with a copper medal with a cross
engraven upon it. From that time the little maiden always deemed herself
especially consecrated to the service of Heaven, but she still remained
at home, daily keeping her father's sheep, and spinning their wool as
she sat under the trees watching them, but always with a heart full of
prayer.

After this St. Germanus proceeded to Britain, and there encouraged his
converts to meet the heathen Picts at Maes Garmon, in Flintshire, where
the exulting shout of the white-robed catechumens turned to flight the
wild superstitious savages of the north,--and the Hallelujah victory was
gained without a drop of bloodshed. He never lost sight of Genevieve,
the little maid whom he had so early distinguished for her piety.

After she lost her parents she went to live with her godmother, and
continued the same simple habits, leading a life of sincere devotion and
strict self-denial, constant prayer, and much charity to her poorer
neighbors.

In the year 451 the whole of Gaul was in the most dreadful state of
terror at the advance of Attila, the savage chief of the Huns, who came
from the banks of the Danube with a host of savages of hideous features,
scarred and disfigured to render them more frightful. The old enemies,
the Goths and the Franks, seemed like friends compared with these
formidable beings whose cruelties were said to be intolerable, and of
whom every exaggerated story was told that could add to the horrors of
the miserable people who lay in their path. Tidings came that this
'Scourge of God', as Attila called himself, had passed the Rhine,
destroyed Tongres and Metz, and was in full march for Paris. The whole
country was in the utmost terror. Everyone seized their most valuable
possessions, and would have fled; but Genevieve placed herself on the
only bridge across the Seine, and argued with them, assuring them in a
strain that was afterwards thought of as prophetic, that, if they would
pray, repent, and defend instead of abandoning their homes, God would
protect them. They were at first almost ready to stone her for thus
withstanding their panic, but just then a priest arrived from Auxerre,
with a present for Genevieve from St. Germanus, and they were thus
reminded of the high estimation in which he held her; they became
ashamed of their violence, and she held them back to pray and to arm
themselves. In a few days they heard that Attila had paused to besiege
Orleans, and that Aetius, the Roman general, hurrying from Italy, had
united his troops with those of the Goths and Franks, and given Attila
so terrible a defeat at Chalons that the Huns were fairly driven out of
Gaul. And here it must be mentioned that when the next year, 452, Attila
with his murderous host came down into Italy, and after horrible
devastation of all the northern provinces, came to the gates of Rome, no
one dared to meet him but one venerable Bishop, Leo, the Pope, who, when
his flock were in transports of despair, went forth only accompanied by
one magistrate to meet the invader, and endeavor to turn his wrath side.
The savage Huns were struck with awe by the fearless majesty of the
unarmed old man. They conducted him safely to Attila, who listened to
him with respect, and promised not to lead his people into Rome,
provided a tribute should be paid to him. He then retreated, and, to the
joy of all Europe, died on his way back to his native dominions.

But with the Huns the danger and suffering of Europe did not end. The
happy state described in the Prophets as 'dwelling safely, with none to
make them afraid', was utterly unknown in Europe throughout the long
break-up of the Roman Empire; and in a few more years the Franks were
overrunning the banks of the Seine, and actually venturing to lay siege
to the Roman walls of Paris itself. The fortifications were strong
enough, but hunger began to do the work of the besiegers, and the
garrison, unwarlike and untrained, began to despair. But Genevieve's
courage and trust never failed; and finding no warriors willing to run
the risk of going beyond the walls to obtain food for the women and
children who were perishing around them, this brave shepherdess embarked
alone in a little boat, and guiding it down the stream, landed beyond
the Frankish camp, and repairing to the different Gallic cities, she
implored them to send succor to the famished brethren. She obtained
complete success. Probably the Franks had no means of obstructing the
passage of the river, so that a convoy of boats could easily penetrate
into the town, and at any rate they looked upon Genevieve as something
sacred and inspired whom they durst not touch; probably as one of the
battle maids in whom their own myths taught them to believe. One account
indeed says that, instead of going alone to obtain help, Genevieve
placed herself at the head of a forage party, and that the mere sight of
her inspired bearing caused them to be allowed to enter and return in
safety; but the boat version seems the more probable, since a single
boat on a broad river would more easily elude the enemy than a troop of
Gauls pass through their army.

But a city where all the valor resided in one woman could not long hold
out, and in another inroad, when Genevieve was absent, Paris was
actually seized by the Franks. Their leader, Hilperik, was absolutely
afraid of what the mysteriously brave maiden might do to him, and
commanded the gates of the city to be carefully guarded lest she should
enter; but Geneviere learnt that some of the chief citizens were
imprisoned, and that Hilperik intended their death, and nothing could
withhold her from making an effort in their behalf. The Franks had made
up their minds to settle, and not to destroy. They were not burning and
slaying indiscriminately, but while despising the Romans, as they called
the Gauls, for their cowardice, they were in awe of the superior
civilization and the knowledge of arts. The country people had free
access to the city, and Genevieve in her homely gown and veil passed by
Hilperik's guards without being suspected of being more than an ordinary
Gaulish village maid; and thus she fearlessly made her way, even to the
old Roman halls, where the long-haired Hilperik was holding his wild
carousal. Would that we knew more of that interview--one of the most
striking that ever took place! We can only picture to ourselves the
Roman tessellated pavement bestrewn with wine, bones, and fragments of
the barbarous revelry. There were untamed Franks, their sun-burnt hair
tied up in a knot at the top of their heads, and falling down like a
horse's tail, their faces close shaven, except two moustaches, and
dressed in tight leather garments, with swords at their wide belts. Some
slept, some feasted, some greased their long locks, some shouted out
their favorite war songs around the table which was covered with the
spoils of churches, and at their heads sat the wild, long-haired
chieftain, who was a few years later driven away by his own followers
for his excesses, the whole scene was all that was abhorrent to a pure,
devout, and faithful nature, most full of terror to a woman. Yet, there,
in her strength, stood the peasant maiden, her heart full of trust and
pity, her looks full of the power that is given by fearlessness of them
that can kill the body. What she said we do not know--we only know that
the barbarous Hilperik was overawed; he trembled before the
expostulations of the brave woman, and granted all she asked--the safety
of his prisoners, and mercy to the terrified inhabitants. No wonder that
the people of Paris have ever since looked back to Genevieve as their
protectress, and that in after ages she has grown to be the patron saint
of the city.

She lived to see the son of Hilperik, Chlodweh, or, as he was more
commonly called, Clovis, marry a Christian wife, Clotilda, and after a
time became a Christian. She saw the foundation of the Cathedral of
Notre-Dame, and of the two famous churches of St. Denys and of St.
Martin of Tours, and gave her full share to the first efforts for
bringing the rude and bloodthirsty conquerors to some knowledge of
Christian faith, mercy, and purity. After a life of constant prayer and
charity she died, three months after King Clovis, in the year 512, the
eighty-ninth of her age. [Footnote: Perhaps the exploits of the Maid of
Orleans were the most like those of Genevieve, but they are not here
added to our collection of 'Golden Deeds,' because the Maid's belief
that she was directly inspired removes them from the ordinary class.
Alas! the English did not treat her as Hilperik treated Genevieve.




LEO THE SLAVE

A.D. 533



The Franks had fully gained possession of all the north of Gaul, except
Brittany. Chlodweh had made them Christians in name, but they still
remained horribly savage--and the life of the Gauls under them was
wretched. The Burgundians and Visigoths who had peopled the southern and
eastern provinces were far from being equally violent. They had entered
on their settlements on friendly terms, and even showed considerable
respect for the Roman-Gallic senators, magistrates, and higher clergy,
who all remained unmolested in their dignities and riches. Thus it was
that Gregory, Bishop of Langres, was a man of high rank and
consideration in the Burgundian kingdom, whence the Christian Queen
Clotilda had come; and even after the Burgundians had been subdued by
the four sons of Chlodweh, he continued a rich and prosperous man.

After one of the many quarrels and reconciliations between these fierce
brethren, there was an exchange of hostages for the observance of the
terms of the treaty. These were not taken from among the Franks, who
were too proud to submit to captivity, but from among the Gaulish
nobles, a much more convenient arrangement to the Frankish kings, who
cared for the life of a 'Roman' infinitely less than even for the life
of a Frank. Thus many young men of senatorial families were exchanged
between the domains of Theodrik to the south, and of Hildebert to the
northward, and quartered among Frankish chiefs, with whom at first they
had nothing more to endure than the discomfort of living as guests with
such rude and coarse barbarians. But ere long fresh quarrels broke out
between Theodrik and Hildebert, and the unfortunate hostages were at
once turned into slaves. Some of them ran away if they were near the
frontier, but Bishop Gregory was in the utmost anxiety about his young
nephew Attalus, who had been last heard of as being placed under the
charge of a Frank who lived between Treves and Metz. The Bishop sent
emissaries to make secret enquiries, and they brought word that the
unfortunate youth had indeed been reduced to slavery, and was made to
keep his master's herds of horses. Upon this the uncle again sent off
his messengers with presents for the ransom of Attalus, but the Frank
rejected them, saying, 'One of such high race can only be redeemed for
ten pounds' weight of gold.'

This was beyond the Bishop's means, and while he was considering how to
raise the sum, the slaves were all lamenting for their young lord, to
whom they were much attached, till one of them, named Leo, the cook to
the household, came to the Bishop, saying to him, 'If thou wilt give me
leave to go, I will deliver him from captivity.' The Bishop replied that
he gave free permission, and the slave set off for Treves, and there
watched anxiously for an opportunity of gaining access to Attalus; but
though the poor young man--no longer daintily dressed, bathed, and
perfumed, but ragged and squalid--might be seen following his herds of
horses, he was too well watched for any communication to be held with
him. Then Leo went to a person, probably of Gallic birth, and said,
'Come with me to this barbarian's house, and there sell me for a slave.
Thou shalt have the money, I only ask thee to help me thus far.'

Both repaired to the Frank's abode, the chief among a confused
collection of clay and timber huts intended for shelter during eating
and sleeping. The Frank looked at the slave, and asked him what he could
do.

'I can dress whatever is eaten at lordly tables,' replied Leo. 'I am
afraid of no rival; I only tell thee the truth when I say that if thou
wouldst give a feast to the king, I would send it up in the neatest
manner.'

'Ha!' said the barbarian, 'the Sun's day is coming--I shall invite my
kinsmen and friends. Cook me such a dinner as may amaze them, and make
then say, 'We saw nothing better in the king's house.'
'Let me have plenty of poultry, and I will do according to my master's
bidding,' returned Leo.

Accordingly, he was purchased for twelve gold pieces, and on the Sunday
(as Bishop Gregory of Tours, who tells the story, explains that the
barbarians called the Lord's day) he produced a banquet after the most
approved Roman fashion, much to the surprise and delight of the Franks,
who had never tasted such delicacies before, and complimented their host
upon them all the evening. Leo gradually became a great favorite, and
was placed in authority over the other slaves, to whom he gave out their
daily portions of broth and meat; but from the first he had not shown
any recognition of Attalus, and had signed to him that they must be
strangers to one another. A whole year had passed away in this manner,
when one day Leo wandered, as if for pastime, into the plain where
Attalus was watching the horses, and sitting down on the ground at some
paces off, and with his back towards his young master, so that they
might not be seen together, he said, 'This is the time for thoughts of
home! When thou hast led the horses to the stable to-night, sleep not.
Be ready at the first call!'

That day the Frank lord was entertaining a large number of guests, among
them his daughter's husband, a jovial young man, given to jesting. On
going to rest he fancied he should be thirsty at night and called Leo to
set a pitcher of hydromel by his bedside. As the slave was setting it
down, the Frank looked slyly from under his eyelids, and said in joke,
'Tell me, my father-in-law's trusty man, wilt not thou some night take
one of those horses, and run away to thine own home?'

'Please God, it is what I mean to do this very night,' answered the
Gaul, so undauntedly that the Frank took it as a jest, and answered, 'I
shall look out that thou dost not carry off anything of mine,' and then
Leo left him, both laughing.

All were soon asleep, and the cook crept out to the stable, where
Attalus usually slept among the horses. He was broad awake now, and
ready to saddle the two swiftest; but he had no weapon except a small
lance, so Leo boldly went back to his master's sleeping hut, and took
down his sword and shield, but not without awaking him enough to ask who
was moving. 'It is I--Leo,' was the answer, 'I have been to call Attalus
to take out the horses early. He sleeps as hard as a drunkard.' The
Frank went to sleep again, quite satisfied, and Leo, carrying out the
weapons, soon made Attalus feel like a free man and a noble once more.
They passed unseen out of the enclosure, mounted their horses, and rode
along the great Roman road from Treves as far as the Meuse, but they
found the bridge guarded, and were obliged to wait till night, when they
cast their horses loose and swam the river, supporting themselves on
boards that they found on the bank. They had as yet had no food since
the supper at their master's, and were thankful to find a plum tree in
the wood, with fruit, to refresh them in some degree, before they lay
down for the night. The next morning they went on in the direction of
Rheims, carefully listening whether there were any sounds behind, until,
on the broad hard-paved causeway, they actually heard the trampling of
horses. Happily a bush was near, behind which they crept, with their
naked swords before them, and here the riders actually halted for a few
moments to arrange their harness. Men and horses were both those they
feared, and they trembled at hearing one say, 'Woe is me that those
rogues have made off, and have not been caught! On my salvation, if I
catch them, I will have one hung and the other chopped into bits!' It
was no small comfort to hear the trot of the horses resumed, and soon
dying away in the distance. That same night the two faint, hungry, weary
travelers, footsore and exhausted, came stumbling into Rheims, looking
about for some person still awake to tell them the way to the house of
the Priest Paul, a friend of Attalus' uncle. They found it just as the
church bell was ringing for matins, a sound that must have seemed very
like home to these members of an episcopal household. They knocked, and
in the morning twilight met the Priest going to his earliest Sunday
morning service.

Leo told his young master's name, and how they had escaped, and the
Priest's first exclamation was a strange one: 'My dream is true. This
very night I saw two doves, one white and one black, who came and
perched on my hand.'

The good man was overjoyed, but he scrupled to give them any food, as it
was contrary to the Church's rules for the fast to be broken before
mass; but the travelers were half dead with hunger, and could only say,
'The good Lord pardon us, for, saving the respect due to His day, we
must eat something, since this is the forth day since we have touched
bread or meat.' The Priest upon this gave them some bread and wine, and
after hiding them carefully, went to church, hoping to avert suspicion;
but their master was already at Rheims, making strict search for them,
and learning that Paul the Priest was a friend of the Bishop of Langres,
he went to church, and there questioned him closely. But the Priest
succeeded in guarding his secret, and though he incurred much danger, as
the Salic law was very severe against concealers of runaway slaves, he
kept Attalus and Leo for two days till the search was blown over, and
their strength was restored, so that they could proceed to Langres.
There they were welcomed like men risen from the dead; the Bishop wept
on the neck of Attalus, and was ready to receive Leo as a slave no more,
but a friend and deliverer.

A few days after Leo was solemnly led to the church. Every door was set
open as a sign that he might henceforth go whithersoever he would.
Bishop Gregorus took him by the hand, and, standing before the
Archdeacon, declared that for the sake of the good services rendered by
his slave, Leo, he set him free, and created him a Roman citizen.

Then the Archdeacon read a writing of manumission. 'Whatever is done
according to the Roman law is irrevocable. According to the constitution
of the Emperor Constantine, of happy memory, and the edict that declares
that whosoever is manumitted in church, in the presence of the bishops,
priests, and deacons, shall become a Roman citizen under the protection
of the Church: from this day Leo becomes a member of the city, free to
go and come where he will as if he had been born of free parents. From
this day forward, he is exempt from all subjection of servitude, of all
duty of a freed-man, all bond of client-ship. He is and shall be free,
with full and entire freedom, and shall never cease to belong to the
body of Roman citizens.'

At the same time Leo was endowed with lands, which raised him to the
rank of what the Franks called a Roman proprietor--the highest reward in
the Bishop's power for the faithful devotion that had incurred such
dangers in order to rescue the young Attalus from his miserable bondage.

Somewhat of the same kind of faithfulness was shown early in the
nineteenth century by Ivan Simonoff, a soldier servant belonging to
Major Kascambo, an officer in the Russian army, who was made prisoner by
one of the wild tribes of the Caucasus. But though the soldier's
attachment to his master was quite as brave and disinterested as that of
the Gallic slave, yet he was far from being equally blameless in the
means he employed, and if his were a golden deed at all, it was mixed
with much of iron.

Major Kascambo, with a guard of fifty Cossacks, was going to take the
command of the Russian outpost of Lars, one of the forts by which the
Russian Czars have slowly been carrying on the aggressive warfare that
has nearly absorbed into their vast dominions all the mountains between
the Caspian and Black seas. On his way he was set upon by seven hundred
horsemen of the savage and independent tribe of Tchetchenges. There was
a sharp fight, more than half his men were killed, and he with the rest
made a rampart of the carcasses of their horses, over which they were
about to fire their last shots, when the Tchetchenges made a Russian
deserter call out to the Cossacks that they would let them all escape
provided they would give up their officer. Kascambo on this came forward
and delivered himself into their hands; while the remainder of the
troops galloped off. His servant, Ivan, with a mule carrying his
baggage, had been hidden in a ravine, and now, instead of retreating
with the Cossacks, came to join his master. All the baggage was,
however, instantly seized and divided among the Tchetchenges; nothing
was left but a guitar, which they threw scornfully to the Major. He
would have let it lie, but Ivan picked it up, and insisted on keeping
it. 'Why be dispirited?' he said; 'the God of the Russians is great, it
is the interest of the robbers to save you, they will do you no harm.'

Scouts brought word that the Russian outposts were alarmed, and that
troops were assembling to rescue the officer. Upon this the seven
hundred broke up into small parties, leaving only ten men on foot to
conduct the prisoners, whom they forced to take off their iron-shod
boots and walk barefoot over stones and thorns, till the Major was so
exhausted that they were obliged to drag him by cords fastened to his
belt.

After a terrible journey, the prisoners were placed in a remote village,
where the Major had heavy chains fastened to his hands and feet, and
another to his neck, with a huge block of oak as a clog at the other
end; they half-starved him, and made him sleep on the bare ground of the
hut in which he lodged. The hut belonged to a huge, fierce old man of
sixty named Ibrahim, whose son had been killed in a skirmish with the
Russians. This man, together with his son's widow, were continually
trying to revenge themselves on their captive. The only person who
showed him any kindness was his little grandson, a child of seven years
old, called Mamet, who often caressed him, and brought him food by
stealth. Ivan was also in the same hut, but less heavily ironed than his
master, and able to attempt a few alleviations for his wretched
condition. An interpreter brought the Major a sheet of paper and a reed
pen, and commanded him to write to his friends that he might be ransomed
for 10,000 roubles, but that, if the whole sum were not paid, he would
be put to death. He obeyed, but he knew that his friends could not
possibly raise such a sum, and his only hope was in the government,
which had once ransomed a colonel who had fallen into the hands of the
same tribe.

These Tchetchenges professed to be Mahometans, but their religion sat
very loose upon them, and they were utter barbarians. One piece of
respect they paid the Major's superior education was curious--they made
him judge in all the disputes that arose. The houses in the village were
hollowed out underground, and the walls only raised three or four feet,
and then covered by a flat roof, formed of beaten clay, where the
inhabitants spent much of their time. Kascambo was every now and then
brought, in all his chains, to the roof of the hut, which served as a
tribunal whence he was expected to dispense justice. For instance, a man
had commissioned his neighbour to pay five roubles to a person in
another valley, but the messenger's horse having died by the way, a
claim was set up to the roubles to make up for it. Both parties
collected all their friends, and a bloody quarrel was about to take
place, when they agreed to refer the question to the prisoner, who was
accordingly set upon his judgment seat.

'Pray,' said he, 'if, instead of giving you five roubles, your comrade
had desired you to carry his greetings to his creditor, would not your
horse have died all the same?'

'Most likely.'

'Then what should you have done with the greetings? Should you have kept
them in compensation? My sentence is that you should give back the
roubles, and that your comrade gives you a greeting.'

The whole assembly approved the decision, and the man only grumbled out,
as he gave back the money, 'I knew I should lose it, if that dog of a
Christian meddled with it.'

All this respect, however, did not avail to procure any better usage for
the unfortunate judge, whose health was suffering severely under his
privations. Ivan, however, had recommended himself in the same way as
Leo, by his perfections as a cook, and moreover he was a capital
buffoon. His fetters were sometimes taken off that he might divert the
villagers by his dances and strange antics while his master played the
guitar. Sometimes they sang Russian songs together to the instrument,
and on these occasions the Major's hands were released that he might
play on it; but one day he was unfortunately heard playing in his chains
for his own amusement, and from that time he was never released from his
fetters.

In the course of a year, three urgent letters had been sent; but no
notice was taken of them, and Ivan began to despair of aid from home,
and set himself to work. His first step was to profess himself a
Mahometan. He durst not tell his master till the deed was done, and then
Kascambo was infinitely shocked; but the act did not procure Ivan so
much freedom as he had hoped. He was, indeed, no longer in chains, but
he was evidently distrusted, and was so closely watched, that the only
way in which he could communicate with his master was when they were set
to sing together, when they chanted out question and answer in Russ,
unsuspected, to the tune of their national airs. He was taken on an
expedition against the Russians, and very nearly killed by the
suspicious Tchetchenges on one side, and by the Cossacks on the other,
as a deserter. He saved a young man of the tribe from drowning; but
though he thus earned the friendship of the family, the rest of the
villagers hated and dreaded him all the more, since he had not been able
to help proving himself a man of courage, instead of the feeble buffoon
he had tried to appear.

Three months after this expedition, another took place; but Ivan was not
allowed even to know of it. He saw preparations making, but nothing was
said to him; only one morning he found the village entirely deserted by
all the young men, and as he wandered round it, the aged ones would not
speak to him. A child told him that his father had meant to kill him,
and on the roof of her house stood the sister of the man he had saved,
making signals of great terror, and pointing towards Russia. Home he
went and found that, besides old Ibrahim, his master was watched by a
warrior, who had been prevented by an intermitting fever from joining
the expedition. He was convinced that if the tribe returned
unsuccessful, the murder of both himself and his master was certain; but
he resolved not to fly alone, and as he busied himself in preparing the
meal, he sung the burden of a Russian ballad, intermingled with words of
encouragement for his master:


The time is come;
  Hai Luli!
The time is come,
  Hai Luli!
Our woe is at an end,
  Hai Luli!
Or we die at once!
  Hai Luli!
To-morrow, to-morrow,
  Hai Luli!
We are off for a town,
  Hai Luli!
For a fine, fine town,
  Hai Luli!
But I name no names,
  Hai Luli!
Courage, courage, master dear,
  Hai Luli!
Never, never, despair,
  Hai Luli!
For the God of the Russians is great,
  Hai Luli!


Poor Kascambo, broken down, sick, and despairing, only muttered, 'Do as
you please, only hold your peace!'

Ivan's cookery incited the additional guard to eat so much supper, that
he brought on a severe attack of his fever, and was obliged to go home;
but old Ibrahim, instead of going to bed, sat down on a log of wood
opposite the prisoner, and seemed resolved to watch him all night. The
woman and child went to bed in the inner room, and Ivan signed to his
master to take the guitar, and began to dance. The old man's axe was in
an open cupboard at the other end of the room, and after many gambols
and contortions, during which the Major could hardly control his fingers
to touch the strings, Ivan succeeded in laying his hands upon it, just
when the old man was bending over the fire to mend it. Then, as Ibrahim
desired that the music should cease, he cut him down with a single blow,
on his own hearth. And the daughter-in-law coming out to see what had
happened, he slew her with the same weapon. And then, alas! in spite of
the commands, entreaties, and cries of his master, he dashed into the
inner room, and killed the sleeping child, lest it should give the
alarm. Kascambo, utterly helpless to save, fell almost fainting upon the
bloody floor, and did not cease to reproach Ivan, who was searching the
old man's pockets for the key of the fetters, but it was not there, nor
anywhere else in the hut, and the irons were so heavy that escape was
impossible in them. Ivan at last knocked off the clog and the chains on
the wrist with the axe, but he could not break the chains round the
legs, and could only fasten them as close as he could to hinder them
clanking. Then securing all the provisions he could carry, and putting
his master into his military cloak, obtaining also a pistol and dagger,
they crept out, but not on the direct road. It was February, and the
ground was covered with snow. All night they walked easily, but at noon
the sun so softened it that they sank in at every step, and the Major's
chains rendered each motion terrible labour. It was only on the second
night that Ivan, with his axe, succeeded in breaking through the
fastenings, and by that time the Major's legs were so swollen and
stiffened that he could not move without extreme pain. However, he was
dragged on through the wild mountain paths, and then over the plains for
several days more, till they were on the confines of another tribe of
Tchetchenges, who were overawed by Russia, and in a sort of unwilling
alliance. Here, however, a sharp storm, and a fall into the water,
completely finished Kascambo's strength, and he sank down on the snow,
telling Ivan to go home and explain his fate, and give his last message
to his mother.

'If you perish here,' said Ivan, 'trust me, neither your mother nor mine
will ever see me again.'

He covered his master with his cloak, gave him the pistol, and walked on
to a hut, where he found a Tchetchenge man, and told him that here was a
means of obtaining two hundred roubles. He had only to shelter the major
as a guest for three days, whilst Ivan himself went on to Mosdok, to
procure the money, and bring back help for his master. The man was full
of suspicion, but Ivan prevailed, and Kascambo was carried into the
village nearly dying, and was very ill all the time of his servant's
absence. Ivan set off for the nearest Russian station, where he found
some of the Cossacks who had been present when the major was taken. All
eagerly subscribed to raise the two hundred roubles, but the Colonel
would not let Ivan go back alone, as he had engaged to do, and sent a
guard of Cossacks. This had nearly been fatal to the Major, for as soon
as his host saw the lances, he suspected treachery, and dragging his
poor sick guest to the roof of the house, he tied him up to a stake, and
stood over him with a pistol, shouting to Ivan, 'If you come nearer, I
shall blow his brains out, and I have fifty cartridges more for my
enemies, and the traitor who leads them.'

'No traitor!' cried Ivan. 'Here are the roubles. I have kept my word!'

'Let the Cossacks go back, or I shall fire.'

Kascambo himself begged the officer to retire, and Ivan went back with
the detachment, and returned alone. Even then the suspicious host made
him count out the roubles at a hundred paces from the house, and at once
ordered him out of sight; but then went up to the roof, and asked the
Major's pardon for all this rough usage.

'I shall only recollect that you were my host, and kept your word,' said
Kascambo.

In a few hours more, Kascambo was in safety among his brother officers.
Ivan was made a non-commissioned officer, and some months after was seen
by the traveler who told the story, whistling the air of Hai Luli at his
former master's wedding feast. He was even then scarcely twenty years
old, and peculiarly quiet and soft in manners.




THE BATTLE OF THE BLACKWATER

991



In the evil days of King Ethelred the Unready, when the teaching of good
King Alfred was fast fading away from the minds of his descendants, and
self-indulgence was ruining the bold and hardy habits of the English,
the fleet was allowed to fall into decay, and Danish ships again
ventured to appear on the English coasts.

The first Northmen who had ravaged England came eager for blood and
plunder, and hating the sight of a Christian church as an insult to
their gods, Thor and Odin; but the lapse of a hundred years had in some
degree changed the temper of the North; and though almost every young
man thought it due to his fame to have sailed forth as a sea rover, yet
the attacks of these marauders might be bought off, and provided they
had treasure to show for their voyage, they were willing to spare the
lives and lands of the people of the coasts they visited.

King Ethelred and his cowardly, selfish Court were well satisfied with
this expedient, and the tax called Danegeld was laid upon the people, in
order to raise a fund for buying off the enemy. But there were still in
England men of bolder and truer hearts, who held that bribery was false
policy, merely inviting the enemy to come again and again, and that the
only wise course would be in driving them back by English valor, and
keeping the fleet in a condition to repel the 'Long Serpent' ships
before the foe could set foot upon the coast.

Among those who held this opinion was Brythnoth, Earl of Essex. He was
of partly Danish descent himself, but had become a thorough Englishman,
and had long and faithfully served the King and his father. He was a
friend to the clergy, a founder of churches and convents, and his manor
house of Hadleigh was a home of hospitality and charity. It would
probably be a sort of huge farmyard, full of great barn-like buildings
and sheds, all one story high; some of them serving for storehouses, and
others for living-rooms and places of entertainment for his numerous
servants and retainers, and for the guests of all degrees who gathered
round him as the chief dispenser of justice in his East-Saxon earldom.
When he heard the advice given and accepted that the Danes should be
bribed, instead of being fought with, he made up his mind that he, at
least, would try to raise up a nobler spirit, and, at the sacrifice of
his own life, would show the effect of making a manful stand against
them.

He made his will, and placed it in the hands of the Archbishop of
Canterbury; and then, retiring to Hadleigh, he provided horses and arms,
and caused all the young men in his earldom to be trained in warlike
exercises, according to the good old English law, that every man should
be provided with weapons and know the use of them.

The Danes sailed forth, in the year 991, with ninety-three vessels, the
terrible 'Long Serpents', carved with snakes' heads at the prow, and the
stern finished as the gilded tail of the reptile; and many a lesser
ship, meant for carrying plunder. The Sea King, Olaf (or Anlaff), was
the leader; and as tidings came that their sails had been seen upon the
North Sea, more earnest than ever rang out the petition in the Litany,
'From the fury of the Northmen, good Lord, deliver us'.

Sandwich and Ipswich made no defense, and were plundered; and the fleet
then sailed into the mouth of the River Blackwater, as far as Maldon,
where the ravagers landed, and began to collect spoil. When, however,
they came back to their ships, they found that the tide would not yet
serve them to re-embark; and upon the farther bank of the river bristled
the spears of a body of warriors, drawn up in battle array, but in
numbers far inferior to their own.

Anlaff sent a messenger, over the wooden bridge that crossed the river,
to the Earl, who, he understood, commanded this small army. The brave
old man, his grey hair hanging down beneath his helmet, stood, sword in
hand, at the head of his warriors.

'Lord Earl,' said the messenger, 'I come to bid thee to yield to us thy
treasure, for thy safety. Buy off the fight, and we will ratify a peace
with gold.'

'Hear, O thou sailor!' was Brythnoth's answer, 'the reply of this
people. Instead of Danegeld, thou shalt have from them the edge of the
sword, and the point of the spear. Here stands an English Earl, who will
defend his earldom and the lands of his King. Point and edge shall judge
between us.'

Back went the Dane with his message to Anlaff, and the fight began
around the bridge, where the Danes long strove to force their way
across, but were always driven back by the gallant East-Saxons. The tide
had risen, and for some time the two armies only shot at one another
with bows and arrows; but when it ebbed, leaving the salt-marches dry,
the stout old Earl's love of fair play overpowered his prudence, and he
sent to offer the enemy a free passage, and an open field in which to
measure their strength.

The numbers were too unequal; but the battle was long and bloody before
the English could be overpowered. Brythnoth slew one of the chief Danish
leaders with his own hand, but not without receiving a wound. He was
still able to fight on, though with ebbing strength and failing numbers.
His hand was pierced by a dart; but a young boy at his side instantly
withdrew it, and, launching it back again, slew the foe who had aimed
it. Another Dane, seeing the Earl faint and sinking, advanced to plunder
him of his ring and jeweled weapons; but he still had strength to lay
the spoiler low with his battleaxe. This was his last blow; he gathered
his strength for one last cheer to his brave men, and then, sinking on
the ground, he looked up to heaven, exclaiming: 'I thank thee, Lord of
nations, for all the joys I have known on earth. Now, O mild Creator!
have I the utmost need that Thou shouldst grant grace unto my soul, that
my spirit may speed to Thee with peace, O King of angels! to pass into
thy keeping. I sue to Thee that Thou suffer not the rebel spirits of
hell to vex my parting soul!'

With these words he died; but an aged follower, of like spirit, stood
over his corpse, and exhorted his fellows. 'Our spirit shall be the
hardier, and our soul the greater, the fewer our numbers become!' he
cried. 'Here lies our chief, the brave, the good, the much-loved lord,
who has blessed us with many a gift. Old as I am, I will not yield, but
avenge his death, or lay me at his side. Shame befall him that thinks to
fly from such a field as this!'

Nor did the English warriors fly. Night came down, at last, upon the
battlefield, and saved the lives of the few survivors; but they were
forced to leave the body of their lord, and the Danes bore away with
them his head as a trophy, and with it, alas! ten thousand pounds of
silver from the King, who, in his sluggishness and weakness had left
Brythnoth to fight and die unaided for the cause of the whole nation.
One of the retainers, a minstrel in the happy old days of Hadleigh, who
had done his part manfully in the battle, had heard these last goodly
sayings of his master, and, living on to peaceful days, loved to
rehearse them to the sound of his harp, and dwell on the glories of one
who could die, but not be defeated.

Ere those better days had come, another faithful-hearted Englishman had
given his life for his people. In the year 1012, a huge army, called
from their leader, 'Thorkill's Host', were overrunning Kent, and
besieging Canterbury. The Archbishop Aelfeg was earnestly entreated to
leave the city while yet there was time to escape; but he replied, 'None
but a hireling would leave his flock in time of danger;' and he
supported the resolution of the inhabitants, so that they held out the
city for twenty days; and as the wild Danes had very little chance
against a well-walled town, they would probably have saved it, had not
the gates been secretly opened to them by the traitorous Abbot Aelfman,
whom Aelfeg had once himself saved, when accused of treason before the
King.

The Danes slaughtered all whom they found in the streets, and the
Archbishop's friends tried to keep him in the church, lest he should run
upon his fate; but he broke from them, and, confronting the enemy,
cried: 'Spare the guiltless! Is there glory in shedding such blood? Turn
your wrath on me! It is I who have denounced your cruelty, have ransomed
and re-clad your captive.' The Danes seized upon him, and, after he had
seen his cathedral burnt and his clergy slain, they threw him into a
dungeon, whence he was told he could only come forth upon the payment of
a heavy ransom.

His flock loved him, and would have striven to raise the sum; but,
miserably used as they were by the enemy, and stripped by the exactions
of the Danes, he would not consent that they should be asked for a
further contribution on his account. After seven months' patience in his
captivity, the Danish chiefs, who were then at Greenwich desired him to
be brought into their camp, where they had just been holding a great
feast. It was Easter Eve, and the quiet of that day of calm waiting was
disturbed with their songs, and shouts of drunken revelry, as the
chained Archbishop was led to the open space where the warriors sat and
lay amid the remains of their rude repast. The leader then told him that
they had agreed to let him off for his own share with a much smaller
payment than had been demanded, provided he would obtain a largesse for
them from the King, his master.

'I am not the man,' he answered, 'to provide Christian flesh for Pagan
wolves;' and when again they repeated the demand, 'Gold I have none to
offer you, save the true wisdom of the knowledge of the living God.' And
he began, as he stood in the midst, to 'reason to them of righteousness,
temperance, and judgment to come.'

They were mad with rage and drink. The old man's voice was drowned with
shouts of 'Gold, Bishop--give us gold!' The bones and cups that lay
around were hurled at him, and he fell to the ground, with the cry, 'O
Chief Shepherd, guard Thine own children!' As he partly raised himself,
axes were thrown at him; and, at last, a Dane, who had begun to love and
listen to him in his captivity, deemed it mercy to give him a deathblow
with an axe. The English maintained that Aelfeg had died to save his
flock from cruel extortion, and held him as a saint and martyr, keeping
his death day (the 19th of April) as a holiday; and when the Italian
Archbishop of Canterbury (Lanfranc) disputed his right to be so
esteemed, there was strong opposition and discontent. Indeed, our own
Prayer Book still retains his name, under the altered form of St.
Alphege; and surely no one better merits to be remembered, for having
loved his people far better than himself.




GUZMAN EL BUENO

1293



In the early times of Spanish history, before the Moors had been
expelled from the peninsula, or the blight of Western gold had enervated
the nation, the old honor and loyalty of the Gothic race were high and
pure, fostered by constant combats with a generous enemy. The Spanish
Arabs were indeed the flower of the Mahometan races, endowed with the
vigor and honor of the desert tribes, yet capable of culture and
civilization, excelling all other nations of their time in science and
art, and almost the equals of their Christian foes in the attributes of
chivalry. Wars with them were a constant crusade, consecrated in the
minds of the Spaniards as being in the cause of religion, and yet in
some degree freed from savagery and cruelty by the respect exacted by
the honorable character of the enemy, and by the fact that the
civilization and learning of the Christian kingdoms were far more
derived from the Moors than from the kindred nations of Europe.

By the close of the thirteenth century, the Christian kingdoms of
Castille and Aragon were descending from their mountain fastnesses, and
spreading over the lovely plains of the south, even to the Mediterranean
coast, as one beautiful Moorish city after another yielded to the
persevering advances of the children of the Goths; and in 1291 the
nephew of our own beloved Eleanor of Castille, Sancho V. called El
Bravo, ventured to invest the city of Tarifa.

This was the western buttress of the gate of the Mediterranean, the base
of the northern Pillar of Hercules, and esteemed one of the gates of
Spain. By it five hundred years previously had the Moorish enemy first
entered Spain at the summons of Count Julian, under their leader Tarif-
abu-Zearah, whose name was bestowed upon it in remembrance of his
landing there. The form of the ground is said to be like a broken punch
bowl, with the broken part towards the sea. The Moors had fortified the
city with a surrounding wall and twenty-six towers, and had built a
castle with a lighthouse on a small adjacent island, called Isla Verde,
which they had connected with the city by a causeway. Their
fortifications, always admirable, have existed ever since, and in 1811,
another five hundred years after, were successfully defended against the
French by a small force of British troops under the command of Colonel
Hugh Gough, better known in his old age as the victor of Aliwal. The
walls were then unable to support the weight of artillery, for which of
course they had never been built, but were perfectly effective against
escalade.

For six months King Sancho besieged Tarifa by land and sea, his fleet,
hired from the Genoese, lying in the waters where the battle of
Trafalgar was to be fought. The city at length yielded under stress of
famine, but the King feared that he had no resources to enable him to
keep it, and intended to dismantle and forsake it, when the Grand Master
of the military order of Calatrava offered to undertake the defense with
his knights for one year, hoping that some other noble would come
forward at the end of that time and take the charge upon himself.

He was not mistaken. The noble who made himself responsible for this
post of danger was a Leonese knight of high distinction, by name Alonso
Perez de Guzman, already called El Bueno, or 'The Good', from the high
qualities he had manifested in the service of the late King, Don Alonso
VI, by whom he had always stood when the present King, Don Sancho, was
in rebellion. The offer was readily accepted, and the whole Guzman
family removed to Tarifa, with the exception of the eldest son, who was
in the train of the Infant Don Juan, the second son of the late King,
who had always taken part with his father against his brother, and on
Sancho's accession, continued his enmity, and fled to Portugal.

The King of Portugal, however, being requested by Sancho not to permit
him to remain there, he proceeded to offer his services to the King of
Morocco, Yusuf-ben-Yacoub, for whom he undertook to recover Tarifa, if
5,000 horse were granted to him for the purpose. The force would have
been most disproportionate for the attack of such a city as Tarifa, but
Don Juan reckoned on means that he had already found efficacious; when
he had obtained the surrender of Zamora to his father by threatening to
put to death a child of the lady in command of the fortress.

Therefore, after summoning Tarifa at the head of his 5,000 Moors, he led
forth before the gates the boy who had been confided to his care, and
declared that unless the city were yielded instantly, Guzman should
behold the death of his own son at his hand! Before, he had had to deal
with a weak woman on a question of divided allegiance. It was otherwise
here. The point was whether the city should be made over to the enemies
of the faith and country, whether the plighted word of a loyal knight
should be broken. The boy was held in the grasp of the cruel prince,
stretching out his hands and weeping as he saw his father upon the
walls. Don Alonso's eyes, we are told, filled with tears as he cast one
long, last look at his first-born, whom he might not save except at the
expense of his truth and honor.

The struggle was bitter, but he broke forth at last in these words: 'I
did not beget a son to be made use of against my country, but that he
should serve her against her foes. Should Don Juan put him to death, he
will but confer honor on me, true life on my son, and on himself eternal
shame in this world and everlasting wrath after death. So far am I from
yielding this place or betraying my trust, that in case he should want a
weapon for his cruel purpose, there goes my knife!'

He cast the knife in his belt over the walls, and returned to the Castle
where, commanding his countenance, he sat down to table with his wife.
Loud shouts of horror and dismay almost instantly called him forth
again. He was told that Don Juan had been seen to cut the boy's throat
in a transport of blind rage. 'I thought the enemy had broken in,' he
calmly said, and went back again.

The Moors themselves were horrorstruck at the atrocity of their ally,
and as the siege was hopeless they gave it up; and Don Juan, afraid and
ashamed to return to Morocco, wandered to the Court of Granada.

King Sancho was lying sick at Alcala de Henares when the tidings of the
price of Guzman's fidelity reached him. Touched to the depths of his
heart he wrote a letter to his faithful subject, comparing his sacrifice
to that of Abraham, confirming to him the surname of Good, lamenting his
own inability to come and offer his thanks and regrets, but entreating
Guzman's presence at Alcala.

All the way thither, the people thronged to see the man true to his word
at such a fearful cost. The Court was sent out to meet him, and the
King, after embracing him, exclaimed, 'Here learn, ye knights, what are
exploits of virtue. Behold your model.'

Lands and honors were heaped upon Alonso de Guzman, and they were not a
mockery of his loss, for he had other sons to inherit them. He was the
staunch friend of Sancho's widow and son in a long and perilous
minority, and died full of years and honors. The lands granted to him
were those of Medina Sidonia which lie between the Rivers Guadiana and
Guadalquivir, and they have ever since been held by his descendants, who
still bear the honored name of Guzman, witnessing that the man who gave
the life of his first-born rather than break his faith to the King has
left a posterity as noble and enduring as any family in Europe.




FAITHFUL TILL DEATH

1308



One of the ladies most admired by the ancient Romans was Arria, the wife
of Caecina Paetus, a Roman who was condemned by the Emperor Claudius to
become his own executioner. Seeing him waver, his wife, who was resolved
to be with him in death as in life, took the dagger from his hand,
plunged it into her own breast, and with her last strength held it out
to him, gasping out, 'It is not painful, my Paetus.'

Such was heathen faithfulness even to death; and where the teaching of
Christianity had not forbidden the taking away of life by one's own
hand, perhaps wifely love could not go higher. Yet Christian women have
endured a yet more fearful ordeal to their tender affection, watching,
supporting, and finding unfailing fortitude to uphold the sufferer in
agonies that must have rent their hearts.

Natalia was the fair young wife of Adrian, an officer at Nicomedia, in
the guards of the Emperor Galerius Maximianus, and only about twenty-
eight years old. Natalia was a Christian, but her husband remained a
pagan, until, when he was charged with the execution of some martyrs,
their constancy, coupled with the testimony of his own wife's virtues,
triumphed over his unbelief, and he confessed himself likewise a
Christian. He was thrown into prison, and sentenced to death, but he
prevailed on his gaoler to permit him to leave the dungeon for a time,
that he might see his wife. The report came to Natalia that he was no
longer in prison, and she threw herself on the ground, lamenting aloud:
'Now will men point at me, and say, 'Behold the wife of the coward and
apostate, who, for fear of death, hath denied his God.'

'Oh, thou noble and strong-hearted woman,' said Adrian's voice at the
door, 'I bless God that I am not unworthy of thee. Open the door that I
may bid thee farewell.'

But this was not the last farewell, though he duly went back to the
prison; for when, the next day, he had been cruelly scourged and
tortured before the tribunal, Natalia, with her hair cut short, and
wearing the disguise of a youth, was there to tend and comfort him. She
took him in her arms saying, 'Oh, light of mine eyes, and husband of
mine heart, blessed art thou, who art chosen to suffer for Christ's
sake.'

On the following day, the tyrant ordered that Adrian's limbs should be
one by one struck off on a blacksmith's anvil, and lastly his head. And
still it was his wife who held him and sustained him through all and,
ere the last stroke of the executioner, had received his last breath.
She took up one of the severed hands, kissed it, and placed it in her
bosom, and escaping to Byzantium, there spent her life in widowhood.

Nor among these devoted wives should we pass by Gertrude, the wife of
Rudolf, Baron von der Wart, a Swabian nobleman, who was so ill-advised
as to join in a conspiracy of Johann of Hapsburg, in 1308, against the
Emperor, Albrecht I, the son of the great and good Rudolf of Hapsburg.

This Johann was the son of the Emperor's brother Rudolf, a brave knight
who had died young, and Johann had been brought up by a Baron called
Walther von Eschenbach, until, at nineteen years old, he went to his
uncle to demand his father's inheritance. Albrecht was a rude and
uncouth man, and refused disdainfully the demand, whereupon the noblemen
of the disputed territory stirred up the young prince to form a plot
against him, all having evidently different views of the lengths to
which they would proceed. This was just at the time that the Swiss,
angry at the overweening and oppressive behaviour of Albrecht's
governors, were first taking up arms to maintain that they owed no duty
to him as Duke of Austria, but merely as Emperor of Germany. He set out
on his way to chastise them as rebels, taking with him a considerable
train, of whom his nephew Johann was one. At Baden, Johann, as a last
experiment, again applied for his inheritance, but by way of answer,
Albrecht held out a wreath of flowers, telling him they better became
his years than did the cares of government. He burst into tears, threw
the wreath upon the ground, and fed his mind upon the savage purpose of
letting his uncle find out what he was fit for.

By and by, the party came to the banks of the Reuss, where there was no
bridge, and only one single boat to carry the whole across. The first to
cross were the Emperor with one attendant, besides his nephew and four
of the secret partisans of Johann. Albrecht's son Leopold was left to
follow with the rest of the suite, and the Emperor rode on towards the
hills of his home, towards the Castle of Hapsburg, where his father's
noble qualities had earned the reputation which was the cause of all the
greatness of the line. Suddenly his nephew rode up to him, and while one
of the conspirators seized the bridle of his horse, exclaimed, 'Will you
now restore my inheritance?' and wounded him in the neck. The attendant
fled; Der Wart, who had never thought murder was to be a part of the
scheme, stood aghast, but the other two fell on the unhappy Albrecht,
and each gave him a mortal wound, and then all five fled in different
directions. The whole horrible affair took place full in view of Leopold
and the army on the other side of the river, and when it became possible
for any of them to cross, they found that the Emperor had just expired,
with his head in the lap of a poor woman.

The murderers escaped into the Swiss mountains, expecting shelter there;
but the stout, honest men of the cantons were resolved not to have any
connection with assassins, and refused to protect them. Johann himself,
after long and miserable wanderings in disguise, bitterly repented,
owned his crime to the Pope, and was received into a convent; Eschenbach
escaped, and lived fifteen years as a cowherd. The others all fell into
the hands of the sons and daughters of Albrecht, and woeful was the
revenge that was taken upon them, and upon their innocent families and
retainers.

That Leopold, who had seen his father slain before his eyes, should have
been deeply incensed, was not wonderful, and his elder brother
Frederick, as Duke of Austria, was charged with the execution of
justice; but both brothers were horribly savage and violent in their
proceedings, and their sister Agnes surpassed them in her atrocious
thirst for vengeance. She was the wife of the King of Hungary, very
clever and discerning, and also supposed to be very religious, but all
better thoughts were swept away by her furious passion. She had nearly
strangled Eschenbach's infant son with her own bare hands, when he was
rescued from her by her own soldiers, and when she was watching the
beheading of sixty-three vassals of another of the murderers, she
repeatedly exclaimed, 'Now I bathe in May dew.' Once, indeed, she met
with a stern rebuke. A hermit, for whom she had offered to build a
convent, answered her, 'Woman, God is not served by shedding innocent
blood and by building convents out of the plunder of families, but by
compassion and forgiveness of injuries.'

Rudolf von der Wart received the horrible sentence of being broken on
the wheel. On his trial the Emperor's attendant declared that Der Wart
had attacked Albert with his dagger, and the cry, 'How long will ye
suffer this carrion to sit on horseback?' but he persisted to the last
that he had been taken by surprise by the murder. However, there was no
mercy for him; and, by the express command of Queen Agnes, after he had
been bound upon one wheel, and his limbs broken by heavy blows from the
executioner, he was fastened to another wheel, which was set upon a
pole, where he was to linger out the remaining hours of his life. His
young wife, Gertrude, who had clung to him through all the trial, was
torn away and carried off to the Castle of Kyburg; but she made her
escape at dusk, and found her way, as night came on, to the spot where
her husband hung still living upon the wheel. That night of agony was
described in a letter ascribed to Gertrude herself. The guard left to
watch fled at her approach, and she prayed beneath the scaffold, and
then, heaping some heavy logs of wood together, was able to climb up
near enough to embrace him and stroke back the hair from his face,
whilst he entreated her to leave him, lest she should be found there,
and fall under the cruel revenge of the Queen, telling her that thus it
would be possible to increase his suffering.

'I will die with you,' she said, 'tis for that I came, and no power
shall force me from you;' and she prayed for the one mercy she hoped
for, speedy death for her husband.

In Mrs. Hemans' beautiful words--


'And bid me not depart,' she cried,
  'My Rudolf, say not so;
This is no time to quit thy side,
  Peace, peace, I cannot go!
Hath the world aught for me to fear
  When death is on thy brow?
The world! what means it? Mine is here!
  I will not leave thee now.
'I have been with thee in thine hour
  Of glory and of bliss;
Doubt not its memory's living power
  To strengthen me through this.
And thou, mine honor'd love and true,
  Bear on, bear nobly on;
We have the blessed heaven in view,
  Whose rest shall soon be won.'


When day began to break, the guard returned, and Gertrude took down her
stage of wood and continued kneeling at the foot of the pole. Crowds of
people came to look, among them the wife of one of the officials, whom
Gertrude implored to intercede that her husband's sufferings might be
ended; but though this might not be, some pitied her, and tried to give
her wine and confections, which she could not touch. The priest came and
exhorted Rudolf to confess the crime, but with a great effort he
repeated his former statement of innocence.

A band of horsemen rode by. Among them was the young Prince Leopold and
his sister Agnes herself, clad as a knight. They were very angry at the
compassion shown by the crowd, and after frightfully harsh language
commanded that Gertrude should be dragged away; but one of the nobles
interceded for her, and when she had been carried away to a little
distance her entreaties were heard, and she was allowed to break away
and come back to her husband. The priest blessed Gertrude, gave her his
hand and said, 'Be faithful unto death, and God will give you the crown
of life,' and she was no further molested.

Night came on, and with it a stormy wind, whose howling mingled with the
voice of her prayers, and whistled in the hair of the sufferer. One of
the guard brought her a cloak. She climbed on the wheel, and spread the
covering over her husband's limbs; then fetched some water in her shoe,
and moistened his lips with it, sustaining him above all with her
prayers, and exhortations to look to the joys beyond. He had ceased to
try to send her away, and thanked her for the comfort she gave him. And
still she watched when morning came again, and noon passed over her, and
it was verging to evening, when for the last time he moved his head; and
she raised herself so as to be close to him. With a smile, he murmured,
'Gertrude, this is faithfulness till death,' and died. She knelt down to
thank God for having enabled her to remain for that last breath--


'While even as o'er a martyr's grave
  She knelt on that sad spot,
And, weeping, blessed the God who gave
  Strength to forsake it not!'


She found shelter in a convent at Basle, where she spent the rest of her
life in a quiet round of prayer and good works; till the time came when
her widowed heart should find its true rest for ever.




WHAT IS BETTER THAN SLAYING A DRAGON

1332



The next story we have to tell is so strange and wild, that it would
seem better to befit the cloudy times when history had not yet been
disentangled from fable, than the comparatively clear light of the
fourteenth century.

It took place in the island of Rhodes. This Greek isle had become the
home of the Knights of St. John, or Hospitaliers, an order of sworn
brethren who had arisen at the time of the Crusades. At first they had
been merely monks, who kept open house for the reception of the poor
penniless pilgrims who arrived at Jerusalem in need of shelter, and
often of nursing and healing. The good monks not only fed and housed
them, but did their best to cure the many diseases that they would catch
in the toilsome journey in that feverish climate; and thus it has come
to pass that the word hospitium, which in Latin only means an inn, has,
in modern languages, given birth, on the one hand, to hotel, or lodging
house, on the other, to hospital, or house of healing. The Hospital at
Jerusalem was called after St. John the Almoner, a charitable Bishop of
old, and the brethren were Hospitaliers. By and by, when the first
Crusade was over, and there was a great need of warriors to maintain the
Christian cause in Jerusalem, the Hospitaliers thought it a pity that so
many strong arms should be prevented from exerting themselves, by the
laws that forbade the clergy to do battle, and they obtained permission
from the Pope to become warriors as well as monks. They were thus all in
one--knights, priests, and nurses; their monasteries were both castles
and hospitals; and the sick pilgrim or wounded Crusader was sure of all
the best tendance and medical care that the times could afford, as well
as of all the ghostly comfort and counsel that he might need, and, if he
recovered, he was escorted safely down to the seashore by a party strong
enough to protect him from the hordes of robber Arabs. All this was for
charity's sake, and without reward. Surely the constitution of the Order
was as golden as its badge--the eight-pointed cross--which the brethren
wore round their neck. They wore it also in white over their shoulder
upon a black mantle. And the knights who had been admitted to the full
honors of the Order had a scarlet surcoat, likewise with the white
cross, over their armor. The whole brotherhood was under the command of
a Grand Master, who was elected in a chapter of all the knights, and to
whom all vowed to render implicit obedience.

Good service in all their three capacities had been done by the Order as
long as the Crusaders were able to keep a footing in the Holy Land; but
they were driven back step by step, and at last, in 1291, their last
stronghold at Acre was taken, after much desperate fighting, and the
remnant of the Hospitaliers sailed away to the isle of Cyprus, where,
after a few years, they recruited their forces, and, in 1307, captured
the island of Rhodes, which had been a nest of Greek and Mahometan
pirates. Here they remained, hoping for a fresh Crusade to recover the
Holy Sepulcher, and in the meantime fulfilling their old mission as the
protectors and nurses of the weak. All the Mediterranean Sea was
infested by corsairs from the African coast and the Greek isles, and
these brave knights, becoming sailors as well as all they had been
before, placed their red flag with its white cross at the masthead of
many a gallant vessel that guarded the peaceful traveler, hunted down
the cruel pirate, and brought home his Christian slave, rescued from
laboring at the oar, to the Hospital for rest and tendance. Or their
treasures were used in redeeming the captives in the pirate cities. No
knight of St. John might offer any ransom for himself save his sword and
scarf; but for the redemption of their poor fellow Christians their
wealth was ready, and many a captive was released from toiling in
Algiers or Tripoli, or still worse, from rowing the pirate vessels,
chained to the oar, between the decks, and was restored to health and
returned to his friends, blessing the day he had been brought into the
curving harbour of Rhodes, with the fine fortified town of churches and
monasteries.

Some eighteen years after the conquest of Rhodes, the whole island was
filled with dismay by the ravages of an enormous creature, living in a
morass at the foot of Mount St. Stephen, about two miles from the city
of Rhodes. Tradition calls it a dragon, and whether it were a crocodile
or a serpent is uncertain. There is reason to think that the monsters of
early creation were slow in becoming extinct, or it is not impossible
that either a crocodile or a python might have been brought over by
storms or currents from Africa, and have grown to a more formidable size
than usual in solitude among the marshes, while the island was changing
owners. The reptile, whatever it might be, was the object of extreme
dread; it devoured sheep and cattle, when they came down to the water,
and even young shepherd boys were missing. And the pilgrimage to the
Chapel of St. Stephen, on the hill above its lair, was especially a
service of danger, for pilgrims were believed to be snapped up by the
dragon before they could mount the hill.

Several knights had gone out to attempt the destruction of the creature,
but not one had returned, and at last the Grand Master, Helion de
Villeneuve, forbade any further attacks to be made. The dragon is said
to have been covered with scales that were perfectly impenetrable either
to arrows or any cutting weapon; and the severe loss that encounters
with him had cost the Order, convinced the Grand Master that he must be
let alone.

However, a young knight, named Dieudonne de Gozon, was by no means
willing to acquiesce in the decree; perhaps all the less because it came
after he had once gone out in quest of the monster, but had returned, by
his own confession, without striking a blow. He requested leave of
absence, and went home for a time to his father's castle of Gozon, in
Languedoc; and there he caused a model of the monster to be made. He had
observed that the scales did not protect the animal's belly, though it
was almost impossible to get a blow at it, owing to its tremendous
teeth, and the furious strokes of its length of tail. He therefore
caused this part of his model to be made hollow, and filled with food,
and obtaining two fierce young mastiffs, he trained them to fly at the
under side of the monster, while he mounted his warhorse, and endeavored
to accustom it likewise to attack the strange shape without swerving.

When he thought the education of horse and dogs complete, he returned to
Rhodes; but fearing to be prevented from carrying out his design, he did
not land at the city, but on a remote part of the coast, whence he made
his way to the chapel of St. Stephen. There, after having recommended
himself to God, he left his two French squires, desiring them to return
home if he were slain, but to watch and come to him if he killed the
dragon, or were only hurt by it. He then rode down the hillside, and
towards the haunt of the dragon. It roused itself at his advance, and at
first he charged it with his lance, which was perfectly useless against
the scales. His horse was quick to perceive the difference between the
true and the false monster, and started back, so that he was forced to
leap to the ground; but the two dogs were more staunch, and sprang at
the animal, whilst their master struck at it with his sword, but still
without reaching a vulnerable part, and a blow from the tail had thrown
him down, and the dragon was turning upon him, when the movement left
the undefended belly exposed. Both mastiffs fastened on it at once, and
the knight, regaining his feet, thrust his sword into it. There was a
death grapple, and finally the servants, coming down the hill, found
their knight lying apparently dead under the carcass of the dragon. When
they had extricated him, taken off his helmet, and sprinkled him with
water, he recovered, and presently was led into the city amid the
ecstatic shouts of the whole populace, who conducted him in triumph to
the palace of the Grand Master.

We have seen how Titus Manlius was requited by his father for his breach
of discipline. It was somewhat in the same manner that Helion de
Villeneuve received Dieudonne. We borrow Schiller's beautiful version of
the conversation that took place, as the young knight, pale, with his
black mantle rent, his shining armor dinted, his scarlet surcoat stained
with blood, came into the Knights' Great Hall.


'Severe and grave was the Master's brow,
Quoth he, 'A hero bold art thou,
By valor 't is that knights are known;
A valiant spirit hast thou shown;
But the first duty of a knight,
Now tell, who vows for CHRIST to fight
And bears the Cross on his coat of mail.'
The listeners all with fear grew pale,
While, bending lowly, spake the knight,
  His cheeks with blushes burning,
'He who the Cross would bear aright
  Obedience must be learning.'


Even after hearing the account of the conflict, the Grand Master did not
abate his displeasure.


'My son, the spoiler of the land
Lies slain by thy victorious hand
Thou art the people's god, but so
Thou art become thine Order's foe;
A deadlier foe thine heart has bred
Than this which by thy hand is dead,
That serpent still the heart defiling
To ruin and to strife beguiling,
It is that spirit rash and bold,
  That scorns the bands of order;
Rages against them uncontrolled
  Till earth is in disorder.

'Courage by Saracens is shown,
Submission is the Christian's own;
And where our Saviour, high and holy,
Wandered a pilgrim poor and lowly
Upon that ground with mystery fraught,
The fathers of our Order taught
The duty hardest to fulfil
Is to give up your own self-will
Thou art elate with glory vain.
  Away then from my sight!
Who can his Saviour's yoke disdain
  Bears not his Cross aright.'

'An angry cry burst from the crowd,
The hall rang with their tumult loud;
Each knightly brother prayed for grace.
The victor downward bent his face,
Aside his cloak in silence laid,
Kissed the Grand Master's hand, nor stayed.
The Master watched him from the hall,
Then summoned him with loving call,
'Come to embrace me, noble son,
  Thine is the conquest of the soul;
Take up the Cross, now truly won,
  By meekness and by self-control.'


The probation of Dieudonne is said to have been somewhat longer than the
poem represents, but after the claims of discipline had been
established, he became a great favorite with stern old Villeneuve, and
the dragon's head was set up over the gate of the city, where Thèvenot
professed to have seen it in the seventeenth century, and said that it
was larger than that of a horse, with a huge mouth and teeth and very
large eyes. The name of Rhodes is said to come from a Phoenician word,
meaning a serpent, and the Greeks called this isle of serpents, which is
all in favor of the truth of the story. But, on the other hand, such
traditions often are prompted by the sight of the fossil skeletons of
the dragons of the elder world, and are generally to be met with where
such minerals prevail as are found in the northern part of Rhodes. The
tale is disbelieved by many, but it is hard to suppose it an entire
invention, though the description of the monster may have been
exaggerated.

Dieudonne de Gozon was elected to the Grand Mastership after the death
of Villeneuve, and is said to have voted for himself. If so, it seems as
if he might have had, in his earlier days, an overweening opinion of his
own abilities. However, he was an excellent Grand Master, a great
soldier, and much beloved by all the poor peasants of the island, to
whom he was exceedingly kind. He died in 1353, and his tomb is said to
have been the only inscribed with these words, 'Here lies the Dragon
Slayer.'




THE KEYS OF CALAIS

1347



Nowhere does the continent of Europe approach Great Britain so closely
as at the straits of Dover, and when our sovereigns were full of the
vain hope of obtaining the crown of France, or at least of regaining the
great possessions that their forefathers has owned as French nobles,
there was no spot so coveted by them as the fortress of Calais, the
possession of which gave an entrance into France.

Thus it was that when, in 1346, Edward III. had beaten Philippe VI. at
the battle of Crecy, the first use he made of his victory was to march
upon Calais, and lay siege to it. The walls were exceedingly strong and
solid, mighty defenses of masonry, of huge thickness and like rocks for
solidity, guarded it, and the king knew that it would be useless to
attempt a direct assault. Indeed, during all the Middle Ages, the modes
of protecting fortifications were far more efficient than the modes of
attacking them. The walls could be made enormously massive, the towers
raised to a great height, and the defenders so completely sheltered by
battlements that they could not easily be injured and could take aim
from the top of their turrets, or from their loophole windows. The gates
had absolute little castles of their own, a moat flowed round the walls
full of water, and only capable of being crossed by a drawbridge, behind
which the portcullis, a grating armed beneath with spikes, was always
ready to drop from the archway of the gate and close up the entrance.
The only chance of taking a fortress by direct attack was to fill up the
moat with earth and faggots, and then raise ladders against the walls;
or else to drive engines against the defenses, battering-rams which
struck them with heavy beams, mangonels which launched stones, sows
whose arched wooden backs protected troops of workmen who tried to
undermine the wall, and moving towers consisting of a succession of
stages or shelves, filled with soldiers, and with a bridge with iron
hooks, capable of being launched from the highest story to the top of
the battlements. The besieged could generally disconcert the battering-
ram by hanging beds or mattresses over the walls to receive the brunt of
the blow, the sows could be crushed with heavy stones, the towers burnt
by well-directed flaming missiles, the ladders overthrown, and in
general the besiegers suffered a great deal more damage than they could
inflict. Cannon had indeed just been brought into use at the battle of
Crecy, but they only consisted of iron bars fastened together with
hoops, and were as yet of little use, and thus there seemed to be little
danger to a well-guarded city from any enemy outside the walls.

King Edward arrived before the place with all his victorious army early
in August, his good knights and squires arrayed in glittering steel
armor, covered with surcoats richly embroidered with their heraldic
bearings; his stout men-at-arms, each of whom was attended by three bold
followers; and his archers, with their crossbows to shoot bolts, and
longbows to shoot arrows of a yard long, so that it used to be said that
each went into battle with three men's lives under his girdle, namely,
the three arrows he kept there ready to his hand. With the King was his
son, Edward, Prince of Wales, who had just won the golden spurs of
knighthood so gallantly at Crecy, when only in his seventeenth year, and
likewise the famous Hainault knight, Sir Walter Mauny, and all that was
noblest and bravest in England.

This whole glittering army, at their head the King's great royal
standard bearing the golden lilies of France quartered with the lions of
England, and each troop guided by the square banner, swallow-tailed
pennon or pointed pennoncel of their leader, came marching to the gates
of Calais, above which floated the blue standard of France with its
golden flowers, and with it the banner of the governor, Sir Jean de
Vienne. A herald, in a rich long robe embroidered with the arms of
England, rode up to the gate, a trumpet sounding before him, and called
upon Sir Jean de Vienne to give up the place to Edward, King of England,
and of France, as he claimed to be. Sir Jean made answer that he held
the town for Philippe, King of France, and that he would defend it to
the last; the herald rode back again and the English began the siege of
the city.

At first they only encamped, and the people of Calais must have seen the
whole plain covered with the white canvas tents, marshalled round the
ensigns of the leaders, and here and there a more gorgeous one
displaying the colours of the owner. Still there was no attack upon the
walls. The warriors were to be seen walking about in the leathern suits
they wore under their armor; or if a party was to be seen with their
coats of mail on, helmet on head, and lance in hand, it was not against
Calais that they came; they rode out into the country, and by and by
might be seen driving back before them herds of cattle and flocks of
sheep or pigs that they had seized and taken away from the poor
peasants; and at night the sky would show red lights where farms and
homesteads had been set on fire. After a time, in front of the tents,
the English were to be seen hard at work with beams and boards, setting
up huts for themselves, and thatching them over with straw or broom.
These wooden houses were all ranged in regular streets, and there was a
marketplace in the midst, whither every Saturday came farmers and
butchers to sell corn and meat, and hay for the horses; and the English
merchants and Flemish weavers would come by sea and by land to bring
cloth, bread, weapons, and everything that could be needed to be sold in
this warlike market.

The Governor, Sir Jean de Vienne, began to perceive that the King did
not mean to waste his men by making vain attacks on the strong walls of
Calais, but to shut up the entrance by land, and watch the coast by sea
so as to prevent any provisions from being taken in, and so to starve
him into surrendering. Sir Jean de Vienne, however, hoped that before he
should be entirely reduced by famine, the King of France would be able
to get together another army and come to his relief, and at any rate he
was determined to do his duty, and hold out for his master to the last.
But as food was already beginning to grow scarce, he was obliged to turn
out such persons as could not fight and had no stores of their own, and
so one Wednesday morning he caused all the poor to be brought together,
men, women, and children, and sent them all out of the town, to the
number of 1,700. It was probably the truest mercy, for he had no food to
give them, and they could only have starved miserably within the town,
or have hindered him from saving it for his sovereign; but to them it
was dreadful to be driven out of house and home, straight down upon the
enemy, and they went along weeping and wailing, till the English
soldiers met them and asked why they had come out. They answered that
they had been put out because they had nothing to eat, and their
sorrowful, famished looks gained pity for them. King Edward sent orders
that not only should they go safely through his camp, but that they
should all rest, and have the first hearty dinner that they had eaten
for many a day, and he sent every one a small sum of money before they
left the camp, so that many of them went on their way praying aloud for
the enemy who had been so kind to them.

A great deal happened whilst King Edward kept watch in his wooden town
and the citizens of Calais guarded their walls. England was invaded by
King David II. of Scotland, with a great army, and the good Queen
Philippa, who was left to govern at home in the name of her little son
Lionel, assembled all the forces that were left at home, and crossed the
Straits of Dover, and a messenger brought King Edward letters from his
Queen to say that the Scots army had been entirely defeated at Nevil's
Cross, near Durham, and that their King was a prisoner, but that he had
been taken by a squire named John Copeland, who would not give him up to
her.

King Edward sent letters to John Copeland to come to him at Calais, and
when the squire had made his journey, the King took him by the hand
saying, 'Ha! welcome, my squire, who by his valor has captured our
adversary the King of Scotland.'

Copeland, falling on one knee, replied, 'If God, out of His great
kindness, has given me the King of Scotland, no one ought to be jealous
of it, for God can, when He pleases, send His grace to a poor squire as
well as to a great Lord. Sir, do not take it amiss if I did not
surrender him to the orders of my lady the Queen, for I hold my lands of
you, and my oath is to you, not to her.'

The King was not displeased with his squire's sturdiness, but made him a
knight, gave him a pension of 500l. a year, and desired him to surrender
his prisoner to the Queen, as his own representative. This was
accordingly done, and King David was lodged in the Tower of London. Soon
after, three days before All Saint's Day, there was a large and gay
fleet to be seen crossing from the white cliffs of Dover, and the King,
his son, and his knights rode down to the landing place to welcome
plump, fair haired Queen Philippa, and all her train of ladies, who had
come in great numbers to visit their husbands, fathers, or brothers in
the wooden town.

Then there was a great Court, and numerous feasts and dances, and the
knights and squires were constantly striving who could do the bravest
deed of prowess to please the ladies. The King of France had placed
numerous knights and men-at-arms in the neighboring towns and castles,
and there were constant fights whenever the English went out foraging,
and many bold deeds that were much admired were done. The great point
was to keep provisions out of the town, and there was much fighting
between the French who tried to bring in supplies, and the English who
intercepted them. Very little was brought in by land, and Sir Jean de
Vienne and his garrison would have been quite starved but for two
sailors of Abbeville, named Marant and Mestriel, who knew the coast
thoroughly, and often, in the dark autumn evenings, would guide in a
whole fleet of little boats, loaded with bread and meat for the starving
men within the city. They were often chased by King Edward's vessels,
and were sometimes very nearly taken, but they always managed to escape,
and thus they still enabled the garrison to hold out.

So all the winter passed, Christmas was kept with brilliant feastings
and high merriment by the King and his Queen in their wooden palace
outside, and with lean cheeks and scanty fare by the besieged within.
Lent was strictly observed perforce by the besieged, and Easter brought
a betrothal in the English camp; a very unwilling one on the part of the
bridegroom, the young Count of Flanders, who loved the French much
better than the English, and had only been tormented into giving his
consent by his unruly vassals because they depended on the wool of
English sheep for their cloth works. So, though King Edward's daughter
Isabel was a beautiful fair-haired girl of fifteen, the young Count
would scarcely look at her; and in the last week before the marriage
day, while her robes and her jewels were being prepared, and her father
and mother were arranging the presents they should make to all their
Court on the wedding day, the bridegroom, when out hawking, gave his
attendants the slip, and galloped off to Paris, where he was welcomed by
King Philippe.

This made Edward very wrathful, and more than ever determined to take
Calais. About Whitsuntide he completed a great wooden castle upon the
seashore, and placed in it numerous warlike engines, with forty men-at-
arms and 200 archers, who kept such a watch upon the harbour that not
even the two Abbeville sailors could enter it, without having their
boats crushed and sunk by the great stones that the mangonels launched
upon them. The townspeople began to feel what hunger really was, but
their spirits were kept up by the hope that their King was at last
collecting an army for their rescue.

And Philippe did collect all his forces, a great and noble army, and
came one night to the hill of Sangate, just behind the English army, the
knights' armor glancing and their pennons flying in the moonlight, so as
to be a beautiful sight to the hungry garrison who could see the white
tents pitched upon the hillside. Still there were but two roads by which
the French could reach their friends in the town--one along the
seacoast, the other by a marshy road higher up the country, and there
was but one bridge by which the river could be crossed. The English
King's fleet could prevent any troops from passing along the coast road,
the Earl of Derby guarded the bridge, and there was a great tower,
strongly fortified, close upon Calais. There were a few skirmishes, but
the French King, finding it difficult to force his way to relieve the
town, sent a party of knights with a challenge to King Edward to come
out of his camp and do battle upon a fair field.

To this Edward made answer, that he had been nearly a year before
Calais, and had spent large sums of money on the siege, and that he had
nearly become master of the place, so that he had no intention of coming
out only to gratify his adversary, who must try some other road if he
could not make his way in by that before him.

Three days were spent in parleys, and then, without the slightest effort
to rescue the brave, patient men within the town, away went King
Philippe of France, with all his men, and the garrison saw the host that
had crowded the hill of Sangate melt away like a summer cloud.

August had come again, and they had suffered privation for a whole year
for the sake of the King who deserted them at their utmost need. They
were in so grievous a state of hunger and distress that the hardiest
could endure no more, for ever since Whitsuntide no fresh provisions had
reached them. The Governor, therefore, went to the battlements and made
signs that he wished to hold a parley, and the King appointed Lord
Basset and Sir Walter Mauny to meet him, and appoint the terms of
surrender.

The Governor owned that the garrison was reduced to the greatest
extremity of distress, and requested that the King would be contented
with obtaining the city and fortress, leaving the soldiers and
inhabitants to depart in peace.

But Sir Walter Mauny was forced to make answer that the King, his lord,
was so much enraged at the delay and expense that Calais had cost him,
that he would only consent to receive the whole on unconditional terms,
leaving him free to slay, or to ransom, or make prisoners whomsoever he
pleased, and he was known to consider that there was a heavy reckoning
to pay, both for the trouble the siege had cost him and the damage the
Calesians had previously done to his ships.

The brave answer was: 'These conditions are too hard for us. We are but
a small number of knights and squires, who have loyally served our lord
and master as you would have done, and have suffered much ill and
disquiet, but we will endure far more than any man has done in such a
post, before we consent that the smallest boy in the town shall fare
worse than ourselves. I therefore entreat you, for pity's sake, to
return to the King and beg him to have compassion, for I have such an
opinion of his gallantry that I think he will alter his mind.'

The King's mind seemed, however, sternly made up; and all that Sir
Walter Mauny and the barons of the council could obtain from him was
that he would pardon the garrison and townsmen on condition that six of
the chief citizens should present themselves to him, coming forth with
bare feet and heads, with halters round their necks, carrying the keys
of the town, and becoming absolutely his own to punish for their
obstinacy as he should think fit.

On hearing this reply, Sir Jean de Vienne begged Sir Walter Mauny to
wait till he could consult the citizens, and, repairing to the
marketplace, he caused a great bell to be rung, at sound of which all
the inhabitants came together in the town hall. When he told them of
these hard terms he could not refrain from weeping bitterly, and wailing
and lamentation arose all round him. Should all starve together, or
sacrifice their best and most honored after all suffering in common so
long?

Then a voice was heard; it was that of the richest burgher in the town,
Eustache de St. Pierre. 'Messieurs high and low,' he said, 'it would be
a sad pity to suffer so many people to die through hunger, if it could
be prevented; and to hinder it would be meritorious in the eyes of our
Saviour. I have such faith and trust in finding grace before God, if I
die to save my townsmen, that I name myself as the first of the six.'

As the burgher ceased, his fellow townsmen wept aloud, and many, amid
tears and groans, threw themselves at his feet in a transport of grief
and gratitude. Another citizen, very rich and respected, rose up and
said, 'I will be second to my comrade, Eustache.' His name was Jean
Daire. After him, Jacques Wissant, another very rich man, offered
himself as companion to these, who were both his cousins; and his
brother Pierre would not be left behind: and two more, unnamed, made up
this gallant band of men willing to offer their lives for the rescue of
their fellow townsmen.

Sir Jean de Vienne mounted a little horse--for he had been wounded, and
was still lame--and came to the gate with them, followed by all the
people of the town, weeping and wailing, yet, for their own sakes and
their children's not daring to prevent the sacrifice. The gates were
opened, the governor and the six passed out, and the gates were again
shut behind them. Sir Jean then rode up to Sir Walter Mauny, and told
him how these burghers had voluntarily offered themselves, begging him
to do all in his power to save them; and Sir Walter promised with his
whole heart to plead their cause. De Vienne then went back into the
town, full of heaviness and anxiety; and the six citizens were led by
Sir Walter to the presence of the King, in his full Court. They all
knelt down, and the foremost said: 'Most gallant King, you see before
you six burghers of Calais, who have all been capital merchants, and who
bring you the keys of the castle and town. We yield ourselves to your
absolute will and pleasure, in order to save the remainder of the
inhabitants of Calais, who have suffered much distress and misery.
Condescend, therefore, out of your nobleness of mind, to have pity on
us.'

Strong emotion was excited among all the barons and knights who stood
round, as they saw the resigned countenances, pale and thin with
patiently endured hunger, of these venerable men, offering themselves in
the cause of their fellow townsmen. Many tears of pity were shed; but
the King still showed himself implacable, and commanded that they should
be led away, and their heads stricken off. Sir Walter Mauny interceded
for them with all his might, even telling the King that such an
execution would tarnish his honor, and that reprisals would be made on
his own garrisons; and all the nobles joined in entreating pardon for
the citizens, but still without effect; and the headsman had been
actually sent for, when Queen Philippa, her eyes streaming with tears,
threw herself on her knees amongst the captives, and said, 'Ah, gentle
sir, since I have crossed the sea, with much danger, to see you, I have
never asked you one favor; now I beg as a boon to myself, for the sake
of the Son of the Blessed Mary, and for your love to me, that you will
be merciful to these men!'

For some time the King looked at her in silence; then he exclaimed:
'Dame, dame, would that you had been anywhere than here! You have
entreated in such a manner that I cannot refuse you; I therefore give
these men to you, to do as you please with.'

Joyfully did Queen Philippa conduct the six citizens to her own
apartments, where she made them welcome, sent them new garments,
entertained them with a plentiful dinner, and dismissed them each with a
gift of six nobles. After this, Sir Walter Mauny entered the city, and
took possession of it; retaining Sir Jean de Vienne and the other
knights and squires till they should ransom themselves, and sending out
the old French inhabitants; for the King was resolved to people the city
entirely of English, in order to gain a thoroughly strong hold of this
first step in France.

The King and Queen took up their abode in the city; and the houses of
Jean Daire were, it appears, granted to the Queen--perhaps, because she
considered the man himself as her charge, and wished to secure them for
him--and her little daughter Margaret was, shortly after, born in one of
his houses. Eustache de St. Pierre was taken into high favor, and placed
in charge of the new citizens whom the King placed in the city.

Indeed, as this story is told by no chronicler but Froissart, some have
doubted of it, and thought the violent resentment thus imputed to Edward
III inconsistent with his general character; but it is evident that the
men of Calais had given him strong provocation by attacks on his
shipping--piracies which are not easily forgiven--and that he considered
that he had a right to make an example of them. It is not unlikely that
he might, after all, have intended to forgive them, and have given the
Queen the grace of obtaining their pardon, so as to excuse himself from
the fulfillment of some over-hasty threat. But, however this may have
been, nothing can lessen the glory of the six grave and patient men who
went forth, by their own free will, to meet what might be a cruel and
disgraceful death, in order to obtain the safety of their fellow-
townsmen.

Very recently, in the summer of 1864, an instance has occurred of self-
devotion worthy to be recorded with that of Eustache de St. Pierre. The
City of Palmyra, in Tennessee, one of the Southern States of America,
had been occupied by a Federal army. An officer of this army was
assassinated, and, on the cruel and mistaken system of taking reprisals,
the general arrested ten of the principal inhabitants, and condemned
them to be shot, as deeming the city responsible for the lives of his
officers. One of them was the highly respected father of a large family,
and could ill be spared. A young man, not related to him, upon this,
came forward and insisted on being taken in his stead, as a less
valuable life. And great as was the distress of his friend, this
generous substitution was carried out, and not only spared a father to
his children, but showed how the sharpest strokes of barbarity can still
elicit light from the dark stone--light that but for these blows might
have slept unseen.




THE BATTLE OF SEMPACH

1397



Nothing in history has been more remarkable than the union of the
cantons and cities of the little republic of Switzerland. Of differing
races, languages, and, latterly, even religions--unlike in habits,
tastes, opinions and costumes--they have, however, been held together,
as it were, by pressure from without, and one spirit of patriotism has
kept the little mountain republic complete for five hundred years.

Originally the lands were fiefs of the Holy Roman Empire, the city
municipalities owning the Emperor for their lord, and the great family
of Hapsburg, in whom the Empire became at length hereditary, was in
reality Swiss, the county that gave them title lying in the canton of
Aargau. Rodolf of Hapsburg was elected leader of the burghers of Zurich,
long before he was chosen to the Empire; and he continued a Swiss in
heart, retaining his mountaineer's open simplicity and honesty to the
end of his life. Privileges were granted by him to the cities and the
nobles, and the country was loyal and prosperous in his reign.

His son Albert, the same who was slain by his nephew Johann, as before-
mentioned, permitted those tyrannies of his bailiffs which goaded the
Swiss to their celebrated revolt, and commenced the long series of wars
with the House of Hapsburgor, as it was now termed, of Austria--which
finally established their independence.

On the one side, the Dukes of Austria and their ponderous German
chivalry wanted to reduce the cantons and cities to vassalage, not to
the Imperial Crown, a distant and scarcely felt obligation, but to the
Duchy of Austria; on the other, the hardy mountain peasants and stout
burghers well knew their true position, and were aware that to admit the
Austrian usurpation would expose their young men to be drawn upon for
the Duke's wars, cause their property to be subject to perpetual
rapacious exactions, and fill their hills with castles for ducal
bailiffs, who would be little better than licensed robbers. No wonder,
then, that the generations of William Tell and Arnold Melchthal
bequeathed a resolute purpose of resistance to their descendants.

It was in 1397, ninety years since the first assertion of Swiss
independence, when Leopold the Handsome, Duke of Austria, a bold but
misproud and violent prince, involved himself in one of the constant
quarrels with the Swiss that were always arising on account of the
insulting exactions of toll and tribute in the Austrian border cities. A
sharp war broke out, and the Swiss city of Lucerne took the opportunity
of destroying the Austrian castle of Rothemburg, where the tolls had
been particularly vexatious, and of admitting to their league the cities
of Sempach and Richensee.

Leopold and all the neighboring nobles united their forces. Hatred and
contempt of the Swiss, as low-born and presumptuous, spurred them on;
and twenty messengers reached the Duke in one day, with promises of
support, in his march against Sempach and Lucerne. He had sent a large
force in the direction of Zurich with Johann Bonstetten, and advanced
himself with 4,000 horse and 1,400 foot upon Sempach. Zurich undertook
its own defense, and the Forest cantons sent their brave peasants to the
support of Lucerne and Sempach, but only to the number of 1,300, who, on
the 9th of July, took post in the woods around the little lake of
Sempach.

Meanwhile, Leopold's troops rode round the walls of the little city,
insulting the inhabitants, one holding up a halter, which he said was
for the chief magistrate; and another, pointing to the reckless waste
that his comrades were perpetrating on the fields, shouted, 'Send a
breakfast to the reapers.' The burgomaster pointed to the wood where his
allies lay hid, and answered, 'My masters of Lucerne and their friends
will bring it.'

The story of that day was told by one of the burghers who fought in the
ranks of Lucerne, a shoemaker, named Albert Tchudi, who was both a brave
warrior and a master-singer; and as his ballad was translated by another
master-singer, Sir Walter Scott, and is the spirited record of an
eyewitness, we will quote from him some of his descriptions of the
battle and its golden deed.

The Duke's wiser friends proposed to wait till he could be joined by
Bonstetten and the troops who had gone towards Zurich, and the Baron von
Hasenburg (i.e. hare-rock) strongly urged this prudent counsel; but--


'O, Hare-Castle, thou heart of hare!'
  Fierce Oxenstiern he cried,
'Shalt see then how the game will fare,'
  The taunted knight replied.'


'This very noon,' said the younger knight to the Duke, 'we will deliver
up to you this handful of villains.'


'And thus they to each other said,
  'Yon handful down to hew
Will be no boastful tale to tell
  The peasants are so few.'


Characteristically enough, the doughty cobbler describes how the first
execution that took place was the lopping off the long-peaked toes of
the boots that the gentlemen wore chained to their knees, and which
would have impeded them on foot; since it had been decided that the
horses were too much tired to be serviceable in the action.


'There was lacing then of helmets bright,
  And closing ranks amain,
The peaks they hewed from their boot points
  Might well nigh load a wain.'


They were drawn up in a solid compact body, presenting an unbroken line
of spears, projecting beyond the wall of gay shields and polished
impenetrable armor.

The Swiss were not only few in number, but armor was scarce among them;
some had only boards fastened on their arms by way of shields, some had
halberts, which had been used by their fathers at the battle of
Morgarten, others two-handed swords and battleaxes. They drew themselves
up in the form of a wedge and


'The gallant Swiss confederates then
  They prayed to God aloud,
And He displayed His rainbow fair,
  Against a swarthy cloud.'


Then they rushed upon the serried spears, but in vain. 'The game was
nothing sweet.'

The banner of Lucerne was in the utmost danger, the Landamman was slain,
and sixty of his men, and not an Austrian had been wounded. The flanks
of the Austrian host began to advance so as to enclose the small peasant
force, and involve it in irremediable destruction. A moment of dismay
and stillness ensued. Then Arnold von Winkelried of Unterwalden, with an
eagle glance saw the only means of saving his country, and, with the
decision of a man who dares by dying to do all things, shouted aloud: 'I
will open a passage.'


'I have a virtuous wife at home,
  A wife and infant son:
I leave them to my country's care,
  The field shall yet be won!'
He rushed against the Austrian band
  In desperate career,
And with his body, breast, and hand,
  Bore down each hostile spear;
Four lances splintered on his crest,
  Six shivered in his side,
Still on the serried files he pressed,
  He broke their ranks and died!'


The very weight of the desperate charge of this self-devoted man opened
a breach in the line of spears. In rushed the Swiss wedge, and the
weight of the nobles' armor and length of their spears was only
encumbering. They began to fall before the Swiss blows, and Duke Leopold
was urged to fly. 'I had rather die honorably than live with dishonor,'
he said. He saw his standard bearer struck to the ground, and seizing
his banner from his hand, waved it over his head, and threw himself
among the thickest of the foe. His corpse was found amid a heap of
slain, and no less then 2000 of his companions perished with him, of
whom a third are said to have been counts, barons and knights.


'Then lost was banner, spear and shield
  At Sempach in the flight;
The cloister vaults at Konigsfeldt
  Hold many an Austrian knight.'


The Swiss only lost 200; but, as they were spent with the excessive heat
of the July sun, they did not pursue their enemies. They gave thanks on
the battlefield to the God of victories, and the next day buried the
dead, carrying Duke Leopold and twenty-seven of his most illustrious
companions to the Abbey of Konigsfeldt, where they buried him in the old
tomb of his forefathers, the lords of Aargau, who had been laid there in
the good old times, before the house of Hapsburg had grown arrogant with
success.

As to the master-singer, he tells us of himself that


'A merry man was he, I wot,
  The night he made the lay,
Returning from the bloody spot,
  Where God had judged the day.'


On every 9th of July subsequently, the people of the country have been
wont to assemble on the battlefield, around four stone crosses which
mark the spot. A priest from a pulpit in the open air gives a
thanksgiving sermon on the victory that ensured the freedom of
Switzerland, and another reads the narrative of the battle, and the roll
of the brave 200, who, after Winkelried's example, gave their lives in
the cause. All this is in the face of the mountains and the lake now
lying in summer stillness, and the harvest fields whose crops are secure
from marauders, and the congregation then proceed to the small chapel,
the walls of which are painted with the deed of Arnold von Winkelried,
and the other distinguished achievements of the confederates, and masses
are sung for the souls of those who were slain. No wonder that men thus
nurtured in the memory of such actions were, even to the fall of the
French monarchy, among the most trustworthy soldiery of Europe.




THE CONSTANT PRINCE

1433



The illustrious days of Portugal were during the century and a half of
the dynasty termed the House of Aviz, because its founder, Dom Joao I.
had been grand master of the military order of Aviz.

His right to the throne was questionable, or more truly null, and he had
only obtained the crown from the desire of the nation to be independent
of Castile, and by the assistance of our own John of Gaunt, whose
daughter, Philippa of Lancaster, became his wife, thus connecting the
glories of his line with our own house of Plantagenet.

Philippa was greatly beloved in Portugal, and was a most noble-minded
woman, who infused her own spirit into her children. She had five sons,
and when they all had attained an age to be admitted to the order of
knighthood, their father proposed to give a grand tournament in which
they might evince their prowess. This, however, seemed but play to the
high-spirited youths, who had no doubt fed upon the story of the manner
in which their uncle, the Black Prince, whose name was borne by the
eldest, had won his spurs at Crecy. Their entreaty was, not to be
carpet--knights dubbed in time of peace, and King Joao on the other hand
objected to entering on a war merely for the sake of knighting his sons.
At last Dom Fernando, the youngest of the brothers, a lad of fourteen,
proposed that their knighthood should be earned by an expedition to take
Ceuta from the Moors. A war with the infidel never came amiss, and was
in fact regarded as a sacred duty; moreover, Ceuta was a nest of
corsairs who infested the whole Mediterranean coast. Up to the
nineteenth century the seaports along the African coast of the
Mediterranean were the hives of pirates, whose small rapid vessels were
the terror of every unarmed ship that sailed in those waters, and whose
descents upon the coasts of Spain, France, and Italy rendered life and
property constantly insecure. A regular system of kidnapping prevailed;
prisoners had their fixed price, and were carried off to labour in the
African dockyards, or to be chained to the benches of the Moorish ships
which their oars propelled, until either a ransom could be procured from
their friends, or they could be persuaded to become renegades, or death
put an end to their sufferings. A captivity among the Moors was by no
means an uncommon circumstance even in the lives of Englishmen down to
the eighteenth century, and pious persons frequently bequeathed sums of
money for the ransom of the poorer captives.

Ceuta, perched upon the southern Pillar of Hercules, was one of the most
perilous of these dens of robbery, and to seize it might well appear a
worthy action, not only to the fiery princes, but to their cautious
father. He kept his designs absolutely secret, and contrived to obtain a
plan of the town by causing one of his vessels to put in there as in
quest of provisions, while, to cover his preparations for war, he sent a
public challenge to the Count of Holland, and a secret message at the
same time, with the assurance that it was only a blind. These
proceedings were certainly underhand, and partook of treachery; but they
were probably excused in the King's own mind by the notion, that no
faith was to be kept with unbelievers, and, moreover, such people as the
Ceutans were likely never to be wanting in the supply of pretexts for
attack.

Just as all was ready, the plague broke out in Lisbon, and the Queen
fell sick of it. Her husband would not leave her, and just before her
death she sent for all her sons, and gave to each a sword, charging them
to defend the widow and orphan, and to fight against the infidel. In the
full freshness of their sorrow, the King and his sons set sail from the
Bay of Lagos, in the August of 1415, with 59 galleys, 33 ships of war,
and 120 transports; the largest fleet ever yet sent forth by the little
kingdom, and the first that had left a Peninsular port with the banners
and streamers of which the more northern armaments were so profuse.

The governor of Ceuta, Zala ben Zala, was not unprepared for the attack,
and had collected 5,000 allies to resist the Christians; but a great
storm having dispersed the fleet on the first day of its appearance, he
thought the danger over, and dismissed his friends On the 14th August,
however, the whole fleet again appeared, and the King, in a little boat,
directed the landing of his men, led by his sons, the Infantes Duarte
and Henrique. The Moors gave way before them, and they entered the city
with 500 men, among the flying enemy, and there, after a period of much
danger, were joined by their brother Pedro. The three fought their way
to a mosque, where they defended themselves till the King with the rest
of his army made their way in. Zala ben Zala fled to the citadel, but,
after one assault, quitted it in the night.

The Christian captives were released, the mosque purified and
consecrated as a cathedral, a bishop was appointed, and the King gave
the government of the place to Dom Pedro de Menezes, a knight of such
known fidelity that the King would not suffer him to take the oath of
allegiance. An attempt was made by the Moors four years later to recover
the place; but the Infantes Pedro and Henrique hurried from Portugal to
succor Menezes, and drove back the besiegers; whereupon the Moors
murdered their King, Abu Sayd, on whom they laid the blame of the
disaster.

On the very day, eighteen years later, of the taking of Ceuta, King Joao
died of the plague at Lisbon, on the 14th of August, 1433. Duarte came
to the throne; and, a few months after, his young brother, Fernando,
persuaded him into fitting out another expedition to Africa, of which
Tangier should be the object.

Duarte doubted of the justice of the war, and referred the question to
the Pope, who decided against it; but the answer came too late, the
preparations were made, and the Infantes Henrique and Fernando took the
command. Henrique was a most enlightened prince, a great mathematician
and naval discoverer, but he does not appear to have made good use of
his abilities on the present occasion; for, on arriving at Ceuta, and
reviewing the troops, they proved to have but 8,000, instead of 14,000,
as they had intended. Still they proceeded, Henrique by land and
Fernando by sea, and laid siege to Tangier, which was defended by their
old enemy, Zala ben Zala. Everything was against them; their scaling
ladders were too short to reach to the top of the walls, and the Moors
had time to collect in enormous numbers for the relief of the city,
under the command of the kings of Fez and Morocco.

The little Christian army was caught as in a net, and, after a day's
hard fighting, saw the necessity of re-embarking. All was arranged for
this to be done at night; but a vile traitor, chaplain to the army,
passed over to the Moors, and revealed their intention. The beach was
guarded, and the retreat cut off. Another day of fighting passed, and at
night hunger reduced them to eating their horses.

It was necessary to come to terms, and messengers were sent to treat
with the two kings. The only terms on which the army could be allowed to
depart were that one of the Infantes should remain as a hostage for the
delivery of Ceuta to the Moors. For this purpose Fernando offered
himself, though it was exceedingly doubtful whether Ceuta would be
restored; and the Spanish poet, Calderon, puts into his mouth a generous
message to his brother the King, that they both were Christian princes,
and that his liberty was not to be weighed in the scale with their
father's fairest conquest.

Henrique was forced thus to leave his brave brother, and return with the
remnants of his army to Ceuta, where he fell sick with grief and
vexation. He sent the fleet home; but it met with a great storm, and
many vessels were driven on the coast of Andalusia, where, by orders of
the King, the battered sailors and defeated soldiers were most kindly
and generously treated.

Dom Duarte, having in the meantime found out with how insufficient an
army his brothers had been sent forth, had equipped a fresh fleet, the
arrival of which at Ceuta cheered Henrique with hope of rescuing his
brother; but it was soon followed by express orders from the King that
Henrique should give up all such projects and return home. He was
obliged to comply, but, unable to look Duarte in the face, he retired to
his own estates at the Algarve.

Duarte convoked the States-general of the kingdom, to consider whether
Ceuta should be yielded to purchase his brother's freedom. They decided
that the place was too important to be parted with, but undertook to
raise any sum of money for the ransom; and if this were not accepted,
proposed to ask the Pope to proclaim a crusade for his rescue.

At first Fernando was treated well, and kept at Tangier as an honorable
prisoner; but disappointment enraged the Moors, and he was thrown into a
dungeon, starved, and maltreated. All this usage he endured with the
utmost calmness and resolution, and could by no means be threatened into
entreating for liberty to be won at the cost of the now Christian city
where his knighthood had been won.

His brother Duarte meantime endeavored to raise the country for his
deliverance; but the plague was still desolating Portugal, so that it
was impossible to collect an army, and the infection at length seized on
the King himself, from a letter which he incautiously opened, and he
died, in his thirty-eighth year, in 1438, the sixth year of his reign
and the second of his brother's captivity. His successor, Affonso V.,
was a child of six years old, and quarrels and disputes between the
Queen Mother and the Infante Dom Pedro rendered the chance of redeeming
the captivity of Fernando less and less.

The King of Castille, and even the Moorish King of Granada, shocked at
his sufferings and touched by his constancy, proposed to unite their
forces against Tangier for his deliverance; but the effect of this was
that Zala ben Zala made him over to Muley Xeques, the King of Fez, by
whom he was thrown into a dungeon without light or air. After a time, he
was brought back to daylight, but only to toil among the other Christian
slaves, to whom he was a model of patience, resignation, and kindness.
Even his enemies became struck with admiration of his high qualities,
and the King of Fez declared that he even deserved to be a Mahometan!

At last, in 1443, Fernando's captivity ended, but only by his death.
Muley Xeque caused a tall tower to be erected on his tomb, in memory of
the victory of Tangier; but in 1473, two sons of Muley being made
prisoners by the Portuguese, one was ransomed for the body of Dom
Fernando, who was then solemnly laid in the vaults of the beautiful
Abbey of Batalha on the field of Aljubarota, which had given his father
the throne. Universal honor attended the name of the Constant Prince,
the Portuguese Regulus; and seldom as the Spanish admire anything
Portuguese, a fine drama of the poet Calderon is founded upon that noble
spirit which preferred dreary captivity to the yielding up his father's
conquest to the enemies of his country and religion. Nor was this
constancy thrown away; Ceuta remained a Christian city. It was held by
Portugal till the house of Aviz was extinguished in Dom Sebastiao, and
since that time has belonged to the crown of Spain.




THE CARNIVAL OF PERTH

1435



It was bedtime, and the old vaulted chambers of the Dominican monastery
at Perth echoed with sounds that would seem incongruous in such a home
of austerity, but that the disturbed state of Scotland rendered it the
habit of her kings to attach their palaces to convents, that they
themselves might benefit by the 'peace of the Church', which was in
general accorded to all sacred spots.

Thus it was that Christmas and Carnival time of 1435-6 had been spent by
the Court in the cloisters of Perth, and the dance, the song, and the
tourney had strangely contrasted with the grave and self-denying habits
to which the Dominicans were devoted in their neighboring cells. The
festive season was nearly at an end, for it was the 20th of February;
but the evening had been more than usually gay, and had been spent in
games at chess, tables, or backgammon, reading romances of chivalry,
harping, and singing. King James himself, brave and handsome, and in the
prime of life, was the blithest of the whole joyous party. He was the
most accomplished man in his dominions; for though he had been basely
kept a prisoner at Windsor throughout his boyhood by Henry IV of
England, an education had been bestowed on him far above what he would
have otherwise obtained; and he was naturally a man of great ability,
refinement, and strength of character. Not only was he a perfect knight
on horseback, but in wrestling and running, throwing the hammer, and
'putting the stane', he had scarcely a rival, and he was skilled in all
the learned lore of the time, wrote poetry, composed music both sacred
and profane, and was a complete minstrel, able to sing beautifully and
to play on the harp and organ. His Queen, the beautiful Joan Beaufort,
had been the lady of his minstrelsy in the days of his captivity, ever
since he had watched her walking on the slopes of Windsor Park, and
wooed her in verses that are still preserved. They had now been eleven
years married, and their Court was one bright spot of civilization,
refinement, and grace, amid the savagery of Scotland. And now, after the
pleasant social evening, the Queen, with her long fair hair unbound, was
sitting under the hands of her tire-women, who were preparing her for
the nights rest; and the King, in his furred nightgown, was standing
before the bright fire on the hearth of the wide chimney, laughing and
talking with the attendant ladies.

Yet dark hints had already been whispered, which might have cast a
shadow over that careless mirth. Always fierce and vindictive, the Scots
had been growing more and more lawless and savage ever since the
disputed succession of Bruce and Balliol had unsettled all royal
authority, and led to one perpetual war with the English. The twenty
years of James's captivity had been the worst of all--almost every noble
was a robber chief; Scottish Borderer preyed upon English Borderer,
Highlander upon Lowlander, knight upon traveler, everyone who had armor
upon him who had not; each clan was at deadly feud with its neighbour;
blood was shed like water from end to end of the miserable land, and the
higher the birth of the offender the greater the impunity he claimed.

Indeed, James himself had been brought next to the throne by one of the
most savage and horrible murders ever perpetrated--that of his elder
brother, David, by his own uncle; and he himself had probably been only
saved from sharing the like fate by being sent out of the kingdom. His
earnest words on his return to take the rule of this unhappy realm were
these: 'Let God but grant me life, and there shall not be a spot in my
realm where the key shall not keep the castle, and the bracken bush the
cow, though I should lead the life of a dog to accomplish it.'

This great purpose had been before James through the eleven years of his
reign, and he had worked it out resolutely. The lawless nobles would not
brook his ruling hand, and strong and bitter was the hatred that had
arisen against him. In many of his transactions he was far from
blameless: he was sometimes tempted to craft, sometimes to tyranny; but
his object was always a high and kingly one, though he was led by the
horrid wickedness of the men he had to deal with more than once to
forget that evil is not to be overcome with evil, but with good. In the
main, it was his high and uncompromising resolution to enforce the laws
upon high and low alike that led to the nobles' conspiracies against
him; though, if he had always been true to his purpose of swerving
neither to the right nor to the left, he might have avoided the last
fatal offence that armed the murderer against his life.

The chief misdoers in the long period of anarchy had been his uncles and
cousins; nor was it till after his eldest uncle's death that his return
home had been possible. With a strong hand had he avenged upon the
princes and their followers the many miseries they had inflicted upon
his people; and in carrying out these measures he had seized upon the
great earldom of Strathern, which had descended to one of their party in
right of his wife, declaring that it could not be inherited by a female.
In this he appears to have acted unjustly, from the strong desire to
avail himself by any pretext of an opportunity of breaking the
overweening power of the great turbulent nobles; and, to make up for the
loss, he created the new earldom of Menteith, for the young Malise
Graham, the son of the dispossessed earl. But the proud and vindictive
Grahams were not thus to be pacified. Sir Robert Graham, the uncle of
the young earl, drew off into the Highlands, and there formed a
conspiracy among other discontented men who hated the resolute
government that repressed their violence. Men of princely blood joined
in the plot, and 300 Highland catherans were ready to accompany the
expedition that promised the delights of war and plunder.

Even when the hard-worked King was setting forth to enjoy his holiday at
Perth, the traitors had fixed upon that spot as the place of his doom;
but the scheme was known to so many, that it could not be kept entirely
secret, and warnings began to gather round the King. When, on his way to
Perth, he was about to cross the Firth of Forth, the wild figure of a
Highland woman appeared at his bridle rein, and solemnly warned him
'that, if he crossed that water, he would never return alive'. He was
struck by the apparition, and bade one of his knights to enquire of her
what she meant; but the knight must have been a dullard or a traitor,
for he told the King that the woman was either mad or drunk, and no
notice was taken of her warning.

There was likewise a saying abroad in Scotland, that the new year, 1436,
should see the death of a king; and this same carnival night, James,
while playing at chess with a young friend, whom he was wont to call the
king of love, laughingly observed that 'it must be you or I, since there
are but two kings in Scotland--therefore, look well to yourself'.

Little did the blithe monarch guess that at that moment one of the
conspirators, touched by a moment's misgiving, was hovering round,
seeking in vain for an opportunity of giving him warning; that even then
his chamberlain and kinsman, Sir Robert Stewart, was enabling the
traitors to place boards across the moat for their passage, and to
remove the bolts and bars of all the doors in their way. And the
Highland woman was at the door, earnestly entreating to see the King, if
but for one moment! The message was even brought to him, but, alas! he
bade her wait till the morrow, and she turned away, declaring that she
should never more see his face!

And now, as before said, the feast was over, and the King stood, gaily
chatting with his wife and her ladies, when the clang of arms was heard,
and the glare of torches in the court below flashed on the windows. The
ladies flew to secure the doors. Alas! the bolts and bars were gone! Too
late the warnings returned upon the King's mind, and he knew it was he
alone who was sought. He tried to escape by the windows, but here the
bars were but too firm. Then he seized the tongs, and tore up a board in
the floor, by which he let himself down into the vault below, just as
the murderers came rushing along the passage, slaying on their way a
page named Walter Straiton.

There was no bar to the door. Yes, there was. Catherine Douglas, worthy
of her name, worthy of the cognizance of the bleeding heart, thrust her
arm through the empty staples to gain for her sovereign a few moments
more for escape and safety! But though true as steel, the brave arm was
not as strong. It was quickly broken. She was thrust fainting aside, and
the ruffians rushed in. Queen Joan stood in the midst of the room, with
her hair streaming round her, and her mantle thrown hastily on. Some of
the wretches even struck and wounded her, but Graham called them off,
and bade them search for the King. They sought him in vain in every
corner of the women's apartments, and dispersed through the other rooms
in search of their prey. The ladies began to hope that the citizens and
nobles in the town were coming to their help, and that the King might
have escaped through an opening that led from the vault into the tennis
court. Presently, however, the King called to them to draw him up again,
for he had not been able to get out of the vault, having a few days
before caused the hole to be bricked up, because his tennis balls used
to fly into it and be lost. In trying to draw him up by the sheets,
Elizabeth Douglas, another of the ladies, was actually pulled down into
the vault; the noise was heard by the assassins, who were still watching
outside, and they returned.

There is no need to tell of the foul and cruel slaughter that ensued,
nor of the barbarous vengeance that visited it. Our tale is of golden,
not of brazen deeds; and if we have turned our eyes for a moment to the
Bloody Carnival of Perth, it is for the sake of the King, who was too
upright for his bloodthirsty subjects, and, above all, for that of the
noble-hearted lady whose frail arm was the guardian of her sovereign's
life in the extremity of peril.

In like manner, on the dreadful 6th of October, 1787, when the
infuriated mob of Paris had been incited by the revolutionary leaders to
rush to Versailles in pursuit of the royal family, whose absence they
fancied deprived them of bread and liberty, a woman shared the honor of
saving her sovereign's life, at least for that time.

The confusion of the day, with the multitude thronging the courts and
park of Versailles, uttering the most frightful threats and insults, had
been beyond all description; but there had been a pause at night, and at
two o'clock, poor Queen Marie Antoinette, spent with horror and fatigue,
at last went to bed, advising her ladies to do the same; but their
anxiety was too great, and they sat up at her door. At half-past four
they heard musket shots, and loud shouts, and while one awakened the
Queen, the other, Madame Auguier, flew towards the place whence the
noise came. As she opened the door, she found one of the royal
bodyguards, with his face covered with blood, holding his musket so as
to bar the door while the furious mob were striking at him. He turned to
the lady, and cried, 'Save the Queen, madame, they are come to murder
her!' Quick as lightning, Madame Auguier shut and bolted the door,
rushed to the Queen's bedside, and dragged her to the opposite door,
with a petticoat just thrown over her. Behold, the door was fastened on
the other side! The ladies knocked violently, the King's valet opened
it, and in a few minutes the whole family were in safety in the King's
apartments. M. de Miomandre, the brave guardsman, who used his musket to
guard the Queen's door instead of to defend himself, fell wounded; but
his comrade, M. de Repaire, at once took his place, and, according to
one account, was slain, and the next day his head, set upon a pike, was
borne before the carriage in which the royal family were escorted back
to Paris.

M. de Miomandre, however, recovered from his wounds, and a few weeks
after, the Queen, hearing that his loyalty had made him a mark for the
hatred of the mob, sent for him to desire him to quit Paris. She said
that gold could not repay such a service as his had been, but she hoped
one day to be able to recompense him more as he deserved; meanwhile, she
hoped he would consider that as a sister might advance a timely sum to a
brother, so she might offer him enough to defray his expenses at Paris,
and to provide for his journey. In a private audience then he kissed her
hand, and those of the King and his saintly sister, Elizabeth, while the
Queen gratefully expressed her thanks, and the King stood by, with tears
in his eyes, but withheld by his awkward bashfulness from expressing the
feelings that overpowered him.

Madame Auguier, and her sister, Madame Campan, continued with their
royal lady until the next stage in that miserable downfall of all that
was high and noble in unhappy France. She lived through the horrors of
the Revolution, and her daughter became the wife of Marshal Ney.

Well it is that the darkening firmament does but show the stars, and
that when treason and murder surge round the fated chambers of royalty,
their foulness and violence do but enhance the loyal self-sacrifice of
such doorkeepers as Catherine Douglas, Madame Auguier, or M. de
Miomandre.


'Such deeds can woman's spirit do,
O Catherine Douglas, brave and true!
Let Scotland keep thy holy name
Still first upon her ranks of fame.'




THE CROWN OF ST. STEPHEN

1440



Of all the possessions of the old kingdom of Hungary, none was more
valued than what was called the Crown of St. Stephen, so called from
one, which had, in the year 1000, been presented by Pope Sylvester II.
to Stephen, the second Christian Duke, and first King of Hungary. A
crown and a cross were given to him for his coronation, which took place
in the Church of the Holy Virgin, at Alba Regale, also called in German
Weissenburg, where thenceforth the Kings of Hungary were anointed to
begin their troubled reigns, and at the close of them were laid to rest
beneath the pavement, where most of them might have used the same
epitaph as the old Italian leader: 'He rests here, who never rested
before'. For it was a wild realm, bordered on all sides by foes, with
Poland, Bohemia, and Austria, ever casting greedy eyes upon it, and
afterwards with the Turk upon the southern border, while the Magyars, or
Hungarian nobles, themselves were a fierce and untameable race, bold and
generous, but brooking little control, claiming a voice in choosing
their own Sovereign, and to resist him, even by force of arms, if he
broke the laws. No prince had a right to their allegiance unless he had
been crowned with St. Stephen's Crown; but if he had once worn that
sacred circle, he thenceforth was held as the only lawful monarch,
unless he should flagrantly violate the Constitution. In 1076, another
crown had been given by the Greek Emperor to Geysa, King of Hungary, and
the sacred crown combined the two. It had the two arches of the Roman
crown, and the gold circlet of the Constantinopolitan; and the
difference of workmanship was evident.

In the year 1439 died King Albert, who had been appointed King of
Hungary in right of his wife, Queen Elizabeth. He left a little daughter
only four years old, and as the Magyars had never been governed by a
female hand, they proposed to send and offer their crown, and the hand
of their young widowed Queen, to Wladislas, the King of Poland. But
Elizabeth had hopes of another child, and in case it should be a son,
she had no mind to give away its rights to its father's throne. How,
then, was she to help herself among the proud and determined nobles of
her Court? One thing was certain, that if once the Polish king were
crowned with St. Stephen's crown, it would be his own fault if he were
not King of Hungary as long as he lived; but if the crown were not to be
found, of course he could not receive it, and the fealty of the nobles
would not be pledged to him.

The most trustworthy person she had about her was Helen Kottenner, the
lady who had the charge of her little daughter, Princess Elizabeth, and
to her she confided her desire that the crown might be secured, so as to
prevent the Polish party from getting access to it. Helen herself has
written down the history of these strange events, and of her own
struggles of mind, at the risk she ran, and the doubt whether good would
come of the intrigue; and there can be no doubt that, whether the
Queen's conduct were praiseworthy or not, Helen dared a great peril for
the sake purely of loyalty and fidelity. 'The Queen's commands', she
says, 'sorely troubled me; for it was a dangerous venture for me and my
little children, and I turned it over in my mind what I should do, for I
had no one to take counsel of but God alone; and I thought if I did it
not, and evil arose therefrom, I should be guilty before God and the
world. So I consented to risk my life on this difficult undertaking; but
desired to have someone to help me.' This was permitted; but the first
person to whom the Lady of Kottenner confided her intention, a Croat,
lost his color from alarm, looked like one half-dead, and went at once
in search of his horse. The next thing that was heard of him was that he
had had a bad fall from his horse, and had been obliged to return to
Croatia, and the Queen remained much alarmed at her plans being known to
one so faint-hearted. However, a more courageous confidant was
afterwards found in a Hungarian gentleman, whose name has become
illegible in Helen's old manuscript.

The crown was in the vaults of the strong Castle of Plintenburg, also
called Vissegrad, which stands upon a bend of the Danube, about twelve
miles from the twin cities of Buda and Pesth. It was in a case within a
chest, sealed with many seals, and since the King's death, it had been
brought up by the nobles, who closely guarded both it and the Queen,
into her apartments, and there examined and replaced in the chest. The
next night, one of the Queen's ladies upset a wax taper, without being
aware of it, and before the fire was discovered, and put out, the corner
of the chest was singed, and a hole burnt in the blue velvet cushion
that lay on the top. Upon this, the lords had caused the chest to be
taken down again into the vault, and had fastened the doors with many
locks and with seals. The Castle had further been put into the charge of
Ladislas von Gara, the Queen's cousin, and Ban, or hereditary commander,
of the border troops, and he had given it over to a Burggraf, or
seneschal, who had placed his bed in the chamber where was the door
leading to the vaults.

The Queen removed to Komorn, a castle higher up the Danube, in charge of
her faithful cousin, Count Ulric of Eily, taking with her her little
daughter Elizabeth, Helen Kottenner, and two other ladies. This was the
first stage on the journey to Presburg, where the nobles had wished to
lodge the Queen, and from thence she sent back Helen to bring the rest
of the maids of honor and her goods to join her at Komorn. It was early
spring, and snow was still on the ground, and the Lady of Kottenner and
her faithful nameless assistant travelled in a sledge; but two Hungarian
noblemen went with them, and they had to be most careful in concealing
their arrangements. Helen had with her the Queen's signet, and keys; and
her friend had a file in each shoe, and keys under his black velvet
dress.

On arriving in the evening, they found that the Burggraf had fallen ill,
and could not sleep in the chamber leading to the vault, because it
belonged to the ladies' chambers, and that he had therefore put a cloth
over the padlock of the door and sealed it. There was a stove in the
room, and the maidens began to pack up their clothes there, an operation
that lasted till eight o'clock; while Helen's friend stood there,
talking and jesting with them, trying all the while to hide the files,
and contriving to say to Helen: 'Take care that we have a light.' So she
begged the old housekeeper to give her plenty of wax tapers, as she had
many prayers to say. At last everyone was gone to bed, and there only
remained in the room with Helen, an old woman, whom she had brought with
her, who knew no German, and was fast asleep. Then the accomplice came
back through the chapel, which opened into this same hall. He had on his
black velvet gown and felt shoes, and was followed by a servant, who,
Helen says, was bound to him by oath, and had the same Christian name as
himself, this being evidently an additional bond of fidelity. Helen, who
had received from the Queen all the keys to this outer room, let them
in, and, after the Burggraf's cloth and seal had been removed, they
unlocked the padlock, and the other two locks of the outer door of the
vault, and the two men descended into it. There were several other
doors, whose chains required to be filed through, and their seals and
locks broken, and to the ears of the waiting Helen the noise appeared
fatally loud. She says, 'I devoutly prayed to God and the Holy Virgin,
that they would support and help me; yet I was in greater anxiety for my
soul than for my life, and I prayed to God that He would be merciful to
my soul, and rather let me die at once there, than that anything should
happen against his will, or that should bring misfortune on my country
and people.'

She fancied she heard a noise of armed men at the chapel door, but
finding nothing there, believed--not in her own nervous agitation, a
thing not yet invented--that it was a spirit, and returning to her
prayers, vowed, poor lady, to make a pilgrimage to St. Maria Zell, in
Styria, if the Holy Virgin's intercessions obtained their success, and
till the pilgrimage could be made, 'to forego every Saturday night my
feather bed!' After another false alarm at a supposed noise at the
maiden's door, she ventured into the vault to see how her companions
were getting on, when she found they had filed away all the locks,
except that of the case containing the crown, and this they were obliged
to burn, in spite of their apprehension that the smell and smoke might
be observed. They then shut up the chest, replaced the padlocks and
chains with those they had brought for the purpose, and renewed the
seals with the Queen's signet, which bearing the royal arms, would
baffle detection that the seals had been tampered with. They then took
the crown into the chapel, where they found a red velvet cushion, so
large that by taking out some of the stuffing a hiding place was made in
which the crown was deposited, and the cushion sewn up over it.

By this time day was dawning, the maidens were dressing, and it was the
hour for setting off for Komorn. The old woman who had waited on them
came to the Lady of Kottenner to have her wages paid, and be dismissed
to Buda. While she was waiting, she began to remark on a strange thing
lying by the stove, which, to the Lady Helen's great dismay, she
perceived to be a bit of the case in which the crown was kept. She tried
to prevent the old woman from noticing it, pushed it into the hottest
part of the stove, and, by way of further precaution, took the old woman
away with her, on the plea of asking the Queen to make her a bedeswoman
at Vienna, and this was granted to her.

When all was ready, the gentleman desired his servant to take the
cushion and put it into the sledge designed for himself and the Lady of
Kottenner. The man took it on his shoulders, hiding it under an old ox-
hide, with the tail hanging down, to the laughter of all beholders.
Helen further records the trying to get some breakfast in the
marketplace and finding nothing but herrings, also the going to mass,
and the care she took not to sit upon the holy crown, though she had to
sit on its cushion in the sledge. They dined at an inn, but took care to
keep the cushion in sight, and then in the dusk crossed the Danube on
the ice, which was becoming very thin, and halfway across it broke under
the maidens' carriage, so that Helen expected to be lost in the Danube,
crown and all. However, though many packages were lost under the ice,
her sledge got safe over, as well as all the ladies, some of whom she
took into her conveyance, and all safely arrived at the castle of Komorn
late in the evening.

The very hour of their arrival a babe was born to the Queen, and to her
exceeding joy it was a son. Count von Eily, hearing 'that a king and
friend was born to him', had bonfires lighted, and a torchlight
procession on the ice that same night, and early in the morning came the
Archbishop of Gran to christen the child. The Queen wished her faithful
Helen to be godmother, but she refused in favor of some lady whose
family it was probably needful to propitiate. She took off the little
princess Elizabeth's mourning for her father and dressed her in red and
gold, all the maidens appeared in gay apparel, and there was great
rejoicing and thanksgiving when the babe was christened Ladislas, after
a sainted King of Hungary.

The peril was, however, far from ended; for many of the Magyars had no
notion of accepting an infant for their king, and by Easter, the King of
Poland was advancing upon Buda, to claim the realm to which he had been
invited. No one had discovered the abstraction of the crown, and
Elizabeth's object was to take her child to Weissenburg, and there have
him crowned, so as to disconcert the Polish party. She had sent to Buda
for cloth of gold to make him a coronation dress, but it did not come in
time, and Helen therefore shut herself into the chapel at Komorn, and,
with doors fast bolted, cut up a rich and beautiful vestment of his
grandfather's, the emperor Sigismund, of red and gold, with silver
spots, and made it into a tiny coronation robe, with surplice and
humeral (or shoulder-piece), the stole and banner, the gloves and shoes.
The Queen was much alarmed by a report that the Polish party meant to
stop her on her way to Weissenburg; and if the baggage should be seized
and searched, the discovery of the crown might have fatal consequences.
Helen, on this, observed that the King was more important than the
crown, and that the best way would be to keep them together; so she
wrapped up the crown in a cloth, and hid it under the mattress of his
cradle, with a long spoon for mixing his pap upon the top, so, said the
Queen, he might take care of his crown himself.

On Tuesday before Whit Sunday the party set out, escorted by Count
Ulric, and several other knights and nobles. After crossing the Danube
in a large boat, the Queen and her little girl were placed in a
carriage, or more probably a litter, the other ladies rode, and the
cradle and its precious contents were carried by four men; but this the
poor little Lassla, as Helen shortens his lengthy name, resented so
much, that he began to scream so loud that she was forced to dismount
and carry him in her arms, along a road rendered swampy by much rain.

They found all the villages deserted by the peasants, who had fled into
the woods, and as most of their lords were of the other party, they
expected an attack, so the little king was put into the carriage with
his mother and sister, and the ladies formed a circle round it 'that if
anyone shot at the carriage we might receive the stroke'. When the
danger was over the child was taken out again, for he would be content
nowhere but in the arms of either his nurse or of faithful Helen, who
took turns to carry him on foot nearly all the way, sometimes in a high
wind which covered them with dust, sometimes in great heat, sometimes in
rain so heavy that Helen's fur pelisse, with which she covered his
cradle, had to be wrung out several times. They slept at an inn, round
which the gentlemen lighted a circle of fires, and kept watch all night.

Weissenburg was loyal, five hundred armed gentlemen came out to meet
them, and on Whitsun Eve they entered the city, Helen carrying her
little king in her arms in the midst of a circle of these five hundred
holding their naked swords aloft. On Whit Sunday, Helen rose early,
bathed the little fellow, who was twelve weeks old that day, and dressed
him. He was then carried in her arms to the church, beside his mother.
According to the old Hungarian customs, the choir door was closed--the
burghers were within, and would not open till the new monarch should
have taken the great coronation oath to respect the Hungarian liberties
and laws.

This oath was taken by the Queen in the name of her son, the doors were
opened, and all the train entered, the little princess being lifted up
to stand by the organ, lest she should be hurt in the throng. First
Helen held her charge up to be confirmed, and then she had to hold him
while he was knighted, with a richly adorned sword bearing the motto
'Indestructible', and by a stout Hungarian knight called Mikosch Weida,
who struck with such a goodwill that Helen felt the blow on her arm, and
the Queen cried out to him not to hurt the child.

The Archbishop of Gran anointed the little creature, dressed him in the
red and gold robe, and put on his head the holy crown, and the people
admired to see how straight he held up his neck under it; indeed, they
admired the loudness and strength of his cries, when, as the good lady
records, 'the noble king had little pleasure in his coronation for he
wept aloud'. She had to hold him up for the rest of the service, while
Count Ulric of Eily held the crown over his head, and afterwards to seat
him in a chair in St. Peter's Church, and then he was carried home in
his cradle, with the count holding the crown over his head, and the
other regalia borne before him.

And thus Ladislas became King of Hungary at twelve weeks old, and was
then carried off by his mother into Austria for safety. Whether this
secret robbery of the crown, and coronation by stealth, was wise or just
on the mother's part is a question not easy of answer--though of course
she deemed it her duty to do her utmost for her child's rights. Of Helen
Kottenner's deep fidelity and conscientious feeling there can be no
doubt, and her having acted with her eyes fully open to the risk she
ran, her trust in Heaven overcoming her fears and terrors, rendered her
truly a heroine.

The crown has had many other adventures, and afterwards was kept in an
apartment of its own, in the castle of Ofen, with an antechamber guarded
by two grenadiers. The door was of iron, with three locks, and the crown
itself was contained in an iron chest with five seals. All this,
however, did not prevent it from being taken away and lost in the
Revolution of 1849.




GEORGE THE TRILLER

1455



                I.

'Why, Lady dear, so sad of cheer?
  Hast waked the livelong night?'
'My dreams foreshow my children's woe,
  Ernst bold and Albrecht bright.

'From the dark glades of forest shades
  There rushed a raging boar,
Two sapling oaks with cruel strokes
  His crooked tusks uptore.'

'Ah, Lady dear, dismiss thy fear
  Of phantoms haunting sleep!'
'The giant knight, Sir Konrad hight,
  Hath vowed a vengeance deep.

'My Lord, o'erbold, hath kept his gold,
  And scornful answer spake:
'Kunz, wisdom learn, nor strive to burn
  The fish within their lake.'

'See, o'er the plain, with all his train,
  My Lord to Leipzig riding;
Some danger near my children dear
  My dream is sure betiding.'

'The warder waits before the gates,
  The castle rock is steep,
The massive walls protect the halls,
  Thy children safely sleep.'


                II.

'T is night's full noon, fair shines the moon
  On Altenburg's old halls,
The silver beams in tranquil streams
  Rest on the ivied walls.

Within their tower the midnight hour
  Has wrapt the babes in sleep,
With unclosed eyes their mother lies
  To listen and to weep.

What sudden sound is stirring round?
  What clang thrills on her ear?
Is it the breeze amid the trees
  Re-echoing her fear?

Swift from her bed, in sudden dread,
  She to her lattice flies:
Oh! sight of woe, from far below
  Behold a ladder rise:

And from yon tower, her children's bower,
  Lo! Giant Kunz descending!
Ernst, in his clasp of iron grasp,
  His cries with hers is blending.

'Oh! hear my prayer, my children spare,
  The sum shall be restored;
Nay, twenty-fold returned the gold,
  Thou know'st how true my Lord.'

With mocking grace he bowed his face:
  'Lady, my greetings take;
Thy Lord may learn how I can burn
  The fish within their lake.'

Oh! double fright, a second knight
  Upon the ladder frail,
And in his arm, with wild alarm,
  A child uplifts his wail!

Would she had wings! She wildly springs
  To rouse her slumbering train;
Bolted without, her door so stout
  Resists her efforts vain!

No mortal ear her calls can hear,
  The robbers laugh below;
Her God alone may hear her moan,
  Or mark her hour of woe.

A cry below, 'Oh! let me go,
  I am no prince's brother;
Their playmate I--Oh! hear my cry
  Restore me to my mother!'

With anguish sore she shakes the door.
  Once more Sir Kunz is rearing
His giant head. His errand sped
  She sees him reappearing.

Her second child in terror wild
  Is struggling in his hold;
Entreaties vain she pours again,
  Still laughs the robber bold.

'I greet thee well, the Elector tell
  How Kunz his counsel takes,
And let him learn that I can burn
  The fish within their lakes.'


                III.

'Swift, swift, good steed, death's on thy speed,
  Gain Isenburg ere morn;
Though far the way, there lodged our prey,
  We laugh the Prince to scorn.

'There Konrad's den and merry men
  Will safely hold the boys--
The Prince shall grieve long ere we leave
  Our hold upon his joys.

'But hark! but hark! how through the dark
  The castle bell is tolling,
From tower and town o'er wood and down,
  The like alarm notes rolling.

'The peal rings out! echoes the shout!
  All Saxony's astir;
Groom, turn aside, swift must we ride
  Through the lone wood of fir.'

Far on before, of men a score
  Prince Ernst bore still sleeping;
Thundering as fast, Kunz came the last,
  Carrying young Albrecht weeping.

The clanging bell with distant swell
  Dies on the morning air,
Bohemia's ground another bound
  Will reach, and safety there.

The morn's fresh beam lights a cool stream,
  Charger and knight are weary,
He draws his rein, the child's sad plain
  He meets with accents cheery.

'Sir Konrad good, be mild of mood,
  A fearsome giant thou!
For love of heaven, one drop be given
  To cool my throbbing brow!'

Kunz' savage heart feels pity's smart,
  He soothes the worn-out child,
Bathes his hot cheeks, and bending seeks
  For woodland berries wild.

A deep-toned bark! A figure dark,
  Smoke grimed and sun embrowned,
Comes through the wood in wondering mood,
  And by his side a hound.

'Oh, to my aid, I am betrayed,
  The Elector's son forlorn,
From out my bed these men of dread
  Have this night hither borne!'

'Peace, if thou 'rt wise,' the false groom cries,
  And aims a murderous blow;
His pole-axe long, his arm so strong,
  Must lay young Albrecht low.

See, turned aside, the weapon glide
  The woodman's pole along,
To Albrecht's clasp his friendly grasp
  Pledges redress from wrong.

Loud the hound's note as at the throat
  Of the false groom he flies;
Back at the sounds Sir Konrad bounds:
  'Off hands, base churl,' he cries.

The robber lord with mighty sword,
  Mailed limbs of giant strength--
The woodman stout, all arms without,
  Save his pole's timber length--

Unequal fight! Yet for the right
  The woodman holds the field;
Now left, now right, repels the knight,
  His pole full stoutly wields.

His whistle clear rings full of cheer,
  And lo! his comrades true,
All swarth and lusty, with fire poles trusty,
  Burst on Sir Konrad's view.

His horse's rein he grasps amain
  Into his selle to spring,
His gold-spurred heel his stirrup's steel
  Has caught, his weapons ring.

His frightened steed with wildest speed
  Careers with many a bound;
Sir Konrad's heel fast holds the steel,
  His head is on the ground.

The peasants round lift from the ground
  His form in woeful plight,
To convent cell, for keeping well,
  Bear back the robber knight.

'Our dear young lord, what may afford
  A charcoal-burners' store
We freely spread, milk, honey, bread,
  Our heated kiln before!'


                IV.

Three mournful days the mother prays,
  And weeps the children's fate;
The prince in vain has scoured the plain--
  A sound is at the gate.

The mother hears, her head she rears,
  She lifts her eager finger--
'Rejoice, rejoice, 't is Albrecht's voice,
  Open! Oh, wherefore linger?'

See, cap in hand the woodman stand--
  Mother, no more of weeping--
His hound well tried is at his side,
  Before him Albrecht leaping,

Cries, 'Father dear, my friend is here!
  My mother! Oh, my mother!
The giant knight he put to flight,
  The good dog tore the other.'

Oh! who the joy that greets the boy,
  Or who the thanks may tell,
Oh how they hail the woodman's tale,
  How he had 'trilled him well!'

[Footnote: Trillen, to shake; a word analogous to our rill, to shake the
voice in singing]

'I trilled him well,' he still will tell
  In homely phrase his story,
To those who sought to know how wrought
  An unarmed hand such glory.

That mother sad again is glad,
  Her home no more bereft;
For news is brought Ernst may be sought
  Within the Devil's Cleft.

That cave within, these men of sin
  Had learnt their leader's fall,
The prince to sell they proffered well
  At price of grace to all.

Another day and Earnest lay,
  Safe on his mother's breast;
Thus to her sorrow a gladsome morrow
  Had brought her joy and rest.

The giant knight was judged aright,
  Sentenced to death he lay;
The elector mild, since safe his child,
  Sent forth the doom to stay.

But all to late, and o'er the gate
  Of Freiburg's council hall
Sir Konrad's head, with features dread,
  The traitor's eyes appal.

The scullion Hans who wrought their plans,
  And oped the window grate,
Whose faith was sold for Konrad's gold,
  He met a traitor's fate


                V.

Behold how gay the wood to-day,
  The little church how fair,
What banners wave, what tap'stry brave
  Covers its carvings rare!

A goodly train--the parents twain,
  And here the princess two,
Here with his pole, George, stout of soul,
  And all his comrades true.

High swells the chant, all jubilant,
  And each boy bending low,
Humbly lays down the wrapping gown
  He wore the night of woe.

Beside them lay a smock of grey,
  All grimed with blood and smoke;
A thankful sign to Heaven benign,
  That spared the sapling oak.

'What prize would'st hold, thou 'Triller bold',
  Who trilled well for my son?'
'Leave to cut wood, my Lord, so good,
  Near where the fight was won.'

'Nay, Triller mine, the land be thine,
  My trusty giant-killer,
A farm and house I and my spouse
  Grant free to George the Triller!'

Years hundred four, and half a score,
  Those robes have held their place;
The Triller's deed has grateful meed
  From Albrecht's royal race.


The child rescued by George the Triller's Golden Deed was the ancestor
of the late Prince Consort, and thus of our future line of kings. He was
the son of the Elector Friedrich the mild of Saxony, and of Margarethe
of Austria, whose dream presaged her children's danger. The Elector had
incurred the vengeance of the robber baron, Sir Konrad of Kauffingen,
who, from his huge stature, was known as the Giant Ritter, by refusing
to make up to him the sum of 4000 gulden which he had had to pay for his
ransom after being made prisoner in the Elector's service. In reply to
his threats, all the answer that the robber knight received was the
proverbial one, 'Do not try to burn the fish in the ponds, Kunz.'

Stung by the irony, Kunz bribed the elector's scullion, by name Hans
Schwabe, to admit him and nine chosen comrades into the Castle of
Altenburg on the night of the 7th of July, 1455, when the Elector was to
be at Leipzig. Strange to say, this scullion was able to write, for a
letter is extant from him to Sir Konrad, engaging to open the window
immediately above the steep precipice, which on that side was deemed a
sufficient protection to the castle, and to fasten a rope ladder by
which to ascend the crags. This window can still be traced, though
thenceforth it was bricked up. It gave access to the children's
apartments, and on his way to them, the robber drew the bolt of their
mother's door, so that though, awakened by the noise, she rushed to her
window, she was a captive in her own apartment, and could not give the
alarm, nor do anything but join her vain entreaties to the cries of her
helpless children. It was the little son of the Count von Bardi whom
Wilhelm von Mosen brought down by mistake for young Albrecht, and Kunz,
while hurrying up to exchange the children, bade the rest of his band
hasten on to secure the elder prince without waiting for him. He
followed in a few seconds with Albrecht in his arms, and his servant
Schweinitz riding after him, but he never overtook the main body. Their
object was to reach Konrad's own Castle of Isenburg on the frontiers of
Bohemia, but they quickly heard the alarm bells ringing, and beheld
beacons lighted upon every hill. They were forced to betake themselves
to the forests, and about half-way, Prince Ernst's captors, not daring
to go any father, hid themselves and him in a cavern called the Devil's
Cleft on the right bank of the River Mulde.

Kunz himself rode on till the sun had risen, and he was within so few
miles of his castle that the terror of his name was likely to be a
sufficient protection. Himself and his horse were, however, spent by the
wild midnight ride, and on the border of the wood of Eterlein, near the
monastery of Grunheim, he halted, and finding the poor child grievously
exhausted and feverish, he lifted him down, gave him water, and went
himself in search of wood strawberries for his refreshment, leaving the
two horses in the charge of Schweinitz. The servant dozed in his saddle,
and meanwhile the charcoal-burner, George Schmidt, attracted by the
sounds, came out of the wood, where all night he had been attending to
the kiln, hollowed in the earth, and heaped with earth and roots of
trees, where a continual charring of wood was going on. Little Albrecht
no sooner saw this man than he sprang to him, and telling his name and
rank, entreated to be rescued from these cruel men. The servant awaking,
leapt down and struck a deadly blow at the boy's head with his pole-ax,
but it was parried by the charcoal-burner, who interposing with one hand
the strong wooden pole he used for stirring his kiln, dragged the little
prince aside with the other, and at the same time set his great dog upon
the servant. Sir Konrad at once hurried back, but the valiant charcoal-
burner still held his ground, dangerous as the fight was between the
peasant unarmed except for the long pole, and the fully accoutered
knight of gigantic size and strength. However, a whistle from George
soon brought a gang of his comrades to his aid, and Kunz, finding
himself surrounded, tried to leap into his saddle, and break through the
throng by weight of man and horse, but his spur became entangled, the
horse ran away, and he was dragged along with his head on the ground
till he was taken up by the peasants and carried to the convent of
Grunheim, whence he was sent to Zwickau, and was thence transported
heavily ironed to Freiburg, where he was beheaded on the 14th of July,
only a week after his act of violence. The Elector, in his joy at the
recovery of even one child, was generous enough to send a pardon, but
the messenger reached Freiburg too late, and a stone in the marketplace
still marks the place of doom, while the grim effigy of Sir Konrad's
head grins over the door of the Rathhaus. It was a pity Friedrich's
mildness did not extend to sparing torture as well as death to his
treacherous scullion, but perhaps a servant's power of injuring his
master was thought a reason for surrounding such instances of betrayal
with special horrors.

The party hidden in the Devil's Cleft overheard the peasants in the wood
talking of the fall of the giant of Kauffingen, and, becoming alarmed
for themselves, they sent to the Governor of the neighboring castle of
Hartenstein to offer to restore Prince Ernst, provided they were
promised a full pardon. The boy had been given up as dead, and intense
were the rejoicings of the parents at his restoration. The Devil's Cleft
changed its name to the Prince's Cleft, and the tree where Albrecht had
lain was called the Prince's Oak, and still remains as a witness to the
story, as do the moth-eaten garments of the princely children, and the
smock of the charcoal-burner, which they offered up in token of
thanksgiving at the little forest church of Ebendorff, near the scene of
the rescue.

'I trillirt the knaves right well,' was honest George's way of telling
the story of his exploit, not only a brave one, but amounting even to
self-devotion when we remember that the robber baron was his near
neighbour, and a terror to all around. The word Triller took the place
of his surname, and when the sole reward he asked was leave freely to
cut wood in the forest, the Elector gave him a piece of land of his own
in the parish of Eversbach. In 1855 there was a grand celebration of the
rescue of the Saxon princes on the 9th of July, the four hundredth
anniversary, with a great procession of foresters and charcoal-burners
to the 'Triller's Brewery', which stands where George's hut and kiln
were once placed. Three of his descendants then figured in the
procession, but since that time all have died, and the family of the
Trillers is now extinct.




SIR THOMAS MORE'S DAUGHTER

1535



We have seen how dim and doubtful was the belief that upbore the grave
and beautiful Antigone in her self-sacrifice; but there have been women
who have been as brave and devoted in their care of the mortal remains
of their friends--not from the heathen fancy that the weal of the dead
depended on such rites, but from their earnest love, and with a fuller
trust beyond.

Such was the spirit of Beatrix, a noble maiden of Rome, who shared the
Christian faith of her two brothers, Simplicius and Faustinus, at the
end of the third century. For many years there had been no persecution,
and the Christians were living at peace, worshipping freely, and
venturing even to raise churches. Young people had grown up to whom the
being thrown to the lions, beheaded, or burnt for the faith's sake, was
but a story of the times gone by. But under the Emperor Diocletian all
was changed. The old heathen gods must be worshipped, incense must be
burnt to the statue of the Emperor, or torture and death were the
punishment. The two brothers Simplicius and Faustinus were thus asked to
deny their faith, and resolutely refused. They were cruelly tortured,
and at length beheaded, and their bodies thrown into the tawny waters of
the Tiber. Their sister Beatrix had taken refuge with a poor devout
Christian woman, named Lucina. But she did not desert her brothers in
death; she made her way in secret to the bank of the river, watching to
see whether the stream might bear down the corpses so dear to her.
Driven along, so as to rest upon the bank, she found them at last, and,
by the help of Lucina, she laid them in the grave in the cemetery called
Ad Ursum Pileatum. For seven months she remained in her shelter, but she
was at last denounced, and was brought before the tribunal, where she
made answer that nothing should induce her to adore gods made of wood
and stone. She was strangled in her prison, and her corpse being cast
out, was taken home by Lucina, and buried beside her brothers. It was,
indeed, a favorite charitable work of the Christian widows at Rome to
provide for the burial of the martyrs; and as for the most part they
were poor old obscure women, they could perform this good work with far
less notice than could persons of more mark.

But nearer home, our own country shows a truly Christian Antigone,
resembling the Greek lady, both in her dutifulness to the living, and in
her tender care for the dead. This was Margaret, the favorite daughter
of sir Thomas More, the true-hearted, faithful statesman of King Henry
VIII.

Margaret's home had been an exceedingly happy one. Her father, Sir
Thomas More, was a man of the utmost worth, and was both earnestly
religious and conscientious, and of a sweetness of manner and
playfulness of fancy that endeared him to everyone. He was one of the
most affectionate and dutiful of sons to his aged father, Sir John More;
and when the son was Lord Chancellor, while the father was only a judge,
Sir Thomas, on his way to his court, never failed to kneel down before
his father in public, and ask his blessing. Never was the old saying,
that a dutiful child had dutiful children, better exemplified than in
the More family. In the times when it was usual for parents to be very
stern with children, and keep them at a great distance, sometimes making
them stand in their presence, and striking them for any slight offence,
Sir Thomas More thought it his duty to be friendly and affectionate with
them, to talk to them, and to enter into their confidence; and he was
rewarded with their full love and duty.

He had four children--Margaret, Elizabeth, Cicely, and John. His much-
loved wife died when they were all very young, and he thought it for
their good to marry a widow, Mrs. Alice Middleton, with one daughter
named Margaret, and he likewise adopted an orphan called Margaret Giggs.
With this household he lived in a beautiful large house at Chelsea, with
well-trimmed gardens sloping down to the Thames; and this was the resort
of the most learned and able men, both English and visitors from abroad,
who delighted in pacing the shady walks, listening to the wit and wisdom
of Sir Thomas, or conversing with the daughters, who had been highly
educated, and had much of their father's humor and sprightliness. Even
Henry VIII. himself, then one of the most brilliant and graceful
gentlemen of his time, would sometimes arrive in his royal barge, and
talk theology or astronomy with Sir Thomas; or, it might be, crack jests
with him and his daughters, or listen to the music in which all were
skilled, even Lady More having been persuaded in her old age to learn to
play on various instruments, including the flute. The daughters were
early given in marriage, and with their husbands, continued to live
under their father's roof. Margaret's husband was William Roper, a young
lawyer, of whom Sir Thomas was very fond, and his household at Chelsea
was thus a large and joyous family home of children and grandchildren,
delighting in the kind, bright smiles of the open face under the square
cap, that the great painter Holbein has sent down to us as a familiar
sight.

But these glad days were not to last for ever. The trying times of the
reign of Henry VIII. were beginning, and the question had been stirred
whether the King's marriage with Katherine of Aragon had been a lawful
one. When Sir Thomas More found that the King was determined to take his
own course, and to divorce himself without permission from the Pope, it
was against his conscience to remain in office when acts were being done
which he could not think right or lawful. He therefore resigned his
office as Lord Chancellor, and, feeling himself free from the load and
temptation, his gay spirits rose higher than ever. His manner of
communicating the change to his wife, who had been very proud of his
state and dignity, was thus. At church, when the service was over, it
had always been the custom for one of his attendants to summon Lady More
by coming to her closet door, and saying, 'Madam, my lord is gone.' On
the day after his resignation, he himself stepped up, and with a low bow
said, 'Madam, my lord is gone,' for in good soothe he was no longer
Chancellor, but only plain Sir Thomas.

He thoroughly enjoyed his leisure, but he was not long left in
tranquillity. When Anne Boleyn was crowned, he was invited to be
present, and twenty pounds were offered him to buy a suitably splendid
dress for the occasion; but his conscience would not allow him to accept
the invitation, though he well knew the terrible peril he ran by
offending the King and Queen. Thenceforth there was a determination to
ruin him. First, he was accused of taking bribes when administering
justice. It was said that a gilt cup had been given to him as a New
Year's gift, by one lady, and a pair of gloves filled with gold coins by
another; but it turned out, on examination, that he had drunk the wine
out of the cup, and accepted the gloves, because it was ill manners to
refuse a lady's gift, yet he had in both cases given back the gold.

Next, a charge was brought that he had been leaguing with a half-crazy
woman called the Nun of Kent, who had said violent things about the
King. He was sent for to be examined by Henry and his Council, and this
he well knew was the interview on which his safety would turn, since the
accusation was a mere pretext, and the real purpose of the King was to
see whether he would go along with him in breaking away from Rome--a
proceeding that Sir Thomas, both as churchman and as lawyer, could not
think legal. Whether we agree or not in his views, it must always be
remembered that he ran into danger by speaking the truth, and doing what
he thought right. He really loved his master, and he knew the humor of
Henry VIII., and the temptation was sore; but when he came down from his
conference with the King in the Tower, and was rowed down the river to
Chelsea, he was so merry that William Roper, who had been waiting for
him in the boat, thought he must be safe, and said, as they landed and
walked up the garden--

'I trust, sir, all is well, since you are so merry?'

'It is so, indeed, son, thank God!'

'Are you then, sir, put out of the bill?'

'Wouldest thou know, son why I am so joyful? In good faith I rejoice
that I have given the devil a foul fall; because I have with those lords
gone so far that without great shame I can never go back,' he answered,
meaning that he had been enabled to hold so firmly to his opinions, and
speak them out so boldly, that henceforth the temptation to dissemble
them and please the King would be much lessened. That he had held his
purpose in spite of the weakness of mortal nature, was true joy to him,
though he was so well aware of the consequences that when his daughter
Margaret came to him the next day with the glad tidings that the charge
against him had been given up, he calmly answered her, 'In faith, Meg,
what is put off is not given up.'

One day, when he had asked Margaret how the world went with the new
Queen, and she replied, 'In faith, father, never better; there is
nothing else in the court but dancing and sporting,' he replied, with
sad foresight, 'Never better. Alas, Meg! it pitieth me to remember unto
what misery, poor soul, she will shortly come. These dances of hers will
prove such dances that she will spurn off our heads like footballs, but
it will not be long ere her head will take the same dance.'

So entirely did he expect to be summoned by a pursuivant that he thought
it would lessen the fright of his family if a sham summons were brought.
So he caused a great knocking to be made while all were at dinner, and
the sham pursuivant went through all the forms of citing him, and the
whole household were in much alarm, till he explained the jest; but the
earnest came only a few days afterwards. On the 13th of April of 1534,
arrived the real pursuivant to summon him to Lambeth, there to take the
oath of supremacy, declaring that the King was the head of the Church of
England, and that the Pope had no authority there. He knew what the
refusal would bring on him. He went first to church, and then, not
trusting himself to be unmanned by his love for his children and
grandchildren, instead of letting them, as usual, come down to the water
side, with tender kisses and merry farewells, he shut the wicket gate of
the garden upon them all, and only allowed his son-in-law Roper to
accompany him, whispering into his ear, 'I thank our Lord, the field is
won.'

Conscience had triumphed over affection, and he was thankful, though for
the last time he looked on the trees he had planted, and the happy home
he had loved. Before the council, he undertook to swear to some clauses
in the oath which were connected with the safety of the realm; but he
refused to take that part of the oath which related to the King's power
over the Church. It is said that the King would thus have been
satisfied, but that the Queen urged him further. At any rate, after
being four days under the charge of the Abbot of Westminister, Sir
Thomas was sent to the Tower of London. There his wife--a plain, dull
woman, utterly unable to understand the point of conscience--came and
scolded him for being so foolish as to lie there in a close, filthy
prison, and be shut up with rats and mice, instead of enjoying the favor
of the King. He heard all she had to say, and answered, 'I pray thee,
good Mrs. Alice, tell me one thing--is not this house as near heaven as
my own?' To which she had no better answer than 'Tilly vally, tilly
vally.' But, in spite of her folly, she loved him faithfully; and when
all his property was seized, she sold even her clothes to obtain
necessaries for him in prison.

His chief comfort was, however, in visits and letters from his daughter
Margaret, who was fully able to enter into the spirit that preferred
death to transgression. He was tried in Westminster Hall, on the 1st of
July, and, as he had fully expected, sentenced to death. He was taken
back along the river to the Tower. On the wharf his loving Margaret was
waiting for her last look. She broke through the guard of soldiers with
bills and halberds, threw her arms round his neck, and kissed him,
unable to say any word but 'Oh, my father!--oh, my father!' He blessed
her, and told her that whatsoever she might suffer, it was not without
the will of God, and she must therefore be patient. After having once
parted with him, she suddenly turned back again, ran to him, and,
clinging round his neck, kissed him over and over again--a sight at
which the guards themselves wept. She never saw him again; but the night
before his execution he wrote to her a letter with a piece of charcoal,
with tender remembrances to all the family, and saying to her, 'I never
liked your manner better than when you kissed me last; for I am most
pleased when daughterly love and dear charity have no leisure to look to
worldly courtesy.' He likewise made it his especial request that she
might be permitted to be present at his burial.

His hope was sure and steadfast, and his heart so firm that he did not
even cease from humorous sayings. When he mounted the crazy ladder of
the scaffold he said, 'Master Lieutenant, I pray you see me safe up; and
for my coming down let me shift for myself.' And he desired the
executioner to give him time to put his beard out of the way of the
stroke, 'since that had never offended his Highness'.

His body was given to his family, and laid in the tomb he had already
prepared in Chelsea Church; but the head was set up on a pole on London
Bridge. The calm, sweet features were little changed, and the loving
daughter gathered courage as she looked up at them. How she contrived
the deed, is not known; but before many days had passed, the head was no
longer there, and Mrs. Roper was said to have taken it away. She was
sent for to the Council, and accused of the stealing of her father's
head. She shrank not from avowing that thus it had been, and that the
head was in her own possession. One story says that, as she was passing
under the bridge in a boat, she looked up, and said, 'That head has
often lain in my lap; I would that it would now fall into it.' And at
that moment it actually fell, and she received it. It is far more likely
that she went by design, at the same time as some faithful friend on the
bridge, who detached the precious head, and dropped it down to her in
her boat beneath. Be this as it may, she owned before the cruel-hearted
Council that she had taken away and cherished the head of the man whom
they had slain as a traitor. However, Henry VIII. was not a Creon, and
our Christian Antigone was dismissed unhurt by the Council, and allowed
to retain possession of her treasure. She caused it to be embalmed, kept
it with her wherever she went, and when, nine years afterwards, she died
(in the year 1544), it was laid in her coffin in the 'Roper aisle' of
St. Dunstan's Church, at Canterbury.




UNDER IVAN THE TERRIBLE

1564.



Prince Andrej Kourbsky was one of the chief boyards or nobles at the
Court of Ivan, the first Grand Prince of Muscovy who assumed the Eastern
title of Tzar, and who relieved Russia from the terrible invasions of
the Tatars. This wild race for nearly four hundred years had roamed over
the country, destroying and plundering all they met with, and blighting
all the attempts at civilization that had begun to be made in the
eleventh century. It was only when the Russians learnt the use of
firearms that these savages were in any degree repressed. In the year
1551 the city of Kazan, upon the River Kazanka, a tributary of the
Volga, was the last city that remained in the hands of the Tatars. It
was a rich and powerful place, a great centre of trade between Europe
and the East, but it was also a nest of robbers, who had frequently
broken faith with the Russians, and had lately expelled the Khan Schig
Alei for having endeavored to fulfill his engagements to them. The Tzar
Ivan Vassilovitch, then only twenty-two years of age, therefore marched
against the place, resolved at any cost to reduce it and free his
country from these inveterate foes.

On his way he received tidings that the Crimean Tatars had come
plundering into Russia, probably thinking to attack Moscow, while Ivan
was besieging Kazan. He at once sent off the Prince Kourbsky with 15,000
men, who met double that number of Tatars at Toula, and totally defeated
them, pursuing them to the River Chevorona, where, after a second
defeat, they abandoned a great number of Russian captives, and a great
many camels. Prince Kourbsky was wounded in the head and shoulder, but
was able to continue the campaign.

Some of the boyards murmured at the war, and declared that their
strength and resources were exhausted. Upon this the Tzar desired that
two lists might be drawn up of the willing and unwilling warriors in his
camp. 'The first', he said, 'shall be as dear to me as my own children;
their needs shall be made known to me, and I will share all I have with
them. The others may stay at home; I want no cowards in my army.' No one
of course chose to be in the second list, and about this time was formed
the famous guard called the Strelitzes, a body of chosen warriors who
were always near the person of the Tzar.

In the middle of August, 1552, Ivan encamped in the meadows on the banks
of the Volga, which spread like a brilliant green carpet around the hill
upon which stood the strongly fortified city of Kazan. The Tatars had no
fears. 'This is not the first time', they said, 'that we have seen the
Muscovites beneath our walls. Their fruitless attacks always end in
retreats, till we have learned to laugh them to scorn;' and when Ivan
sent them messengers with offers of peace, they replied, 'All is ready;
we only await your coming to begin the feast.'

They did not know of the great change that the last half-century had
made in sieges. One of the Italian condottieri, or leaders of free
companies, had made his way to Moscow, and under his instructions,
Ivan's troops were for the first time to conduct a siege in the regular
modern manner, by digging trenches in the earth, and throwing up the
soil in front into a bank, behind which the cannon and gunners are
posted, with only small openings made through which to fire at some spot
in the enemy's walls. These trenches are constantly worked nearer and
nearer to the fortifications, till by the effect of the shot an opening
or breach must be made in the walls, and the soldiers can then climb up
upon scaling ladders or heaps of small faggots piled up to the height of
the opening. Sometimes, too, the besiegers burrow underground till they
are just below the wall, then fill the hole with gunpowder, and blow up
all above them; in short, instead of, as in former days, a well-
fortified city being almost impossible to take, except by starving out
the garrison, a siege is in these times almost equally sure to end in
favor of the besiegers.

All through August and September the Russians made their approaches,
while the Tatars resisted them bravely, but often showing great
barbarity. Once when Ivan again sent a herald, accompanied by a number
of Tatar prisoners, to offer terms to Yediguer, the present Khan, the
defenders called out to their countrymen, 'You had better perish by our
pure hands than by those of the wretched Christians,' and shot a whole
flight of arrows at them. Moreover, every morning the magicians used to
come out at sunrise upon the walls, and their shrieks, contortions, and
waving of garments were believed, not only by the Tatars but by the
Russians, and by Andrej Kourbsky himself, to bring foul weather, which
greatly harassed the Russians. On this Ivan sent to Moscow for a sacred
cross that had been given to the Grand Prince Vladimir when he was
converted; the rivers were blessed, and their water sprinkled round the
camp, and the fair weather that ensued was supposed to be due to the
counteraction of the incantations of the magicians. These Tatars were
Mahometans, but they must have retained some of the wind-raising
enchantments of their Buddhist brethren in Asia.

A great mine had been made under the gate of Arsk, and eleven barrels of
gunpowder placed in it. On the 30th of September it was blown up, and
the whole tower became a heap of ruins. For some minutes the
consternation of the besieged was such that there was a dead silence
like the stillness of the grave. The Russians rushed forward over the
opening, but the Tatars, recovering at the sight of them, fought
desperately, but could not prevent them from taking possession of the
tower at the gateway. Other mines were already prepared, and the Tzar
gave notice of a general assault for the next day, and recommended all
his warriors to purify their souls by repentance, confession, and
communion, in readiness for the deadly strife before them. In the
meantime, he sent Yediguer a last offer of mercy, but the brave Tatars
cried out, 'We will have no pardon! If the Russians have one tower, we
will build another; if they ruin our ramparts we will set up more. We
will be buried under the walls of Kazan, or else we will make him raise
the siege.'

Early dawn began to break. The sky was clear and cloudless. The Tatars
were on their walls, the Russians in their trenches; the Imperial eagle
standard, which Ivan had lately assumed, floated in the morning wind.
The two armies were perfectly silent, save here and there the bray of a
single trumpet, or beat of a naker drum in one or the other, and the
continuous hum of the hymns and chants from the three Russian chapel-
tents. The archers held their arrows on the string, the gunners stood
with lighted matches. The copper-clad domes of the minarets began to
glow with the rising sunbeams; the muezzins were on the roofs about to
call the Moslemin to prayer; the deacon in the Tzar's chapel-tent was
reading the Gospel. 'There shall be one fold and one Shepherd.' At that
moment the sun's disk appeared above the eastern hills, and ere yet the
red orb had fully mounted above the horizon, there was a burst as it
were of tremendous thunderings, and the ground shook beneath the church.
The Tzar went to the entrance, and found the whole city hill so 'rolled
in sable smoke', that he could distinguish nothing, and, going back to
his place, desired that the service should continue. The deacon was in
the midst of the prayer for the establishment of the power of the Tzar
and the discomfiture of his enemies, when the crushing burst of another
explosion rushed upon their ears, and as it died away another voice
broke forth, the shout raised by every man in the Russian lines, 'God is
with us!' On then they marched towards the openings that the mines had
made, but there the dauntless garrison, in spite of the terror and
destruction caused by the two explosions, met them with unabated fury,
rolling beams or pouring boiling water upon them as they strove to climb
the breach, and fighting hand to hand with them if they mounted it.
However, by the time the Tzar had completed his devotions and mounted
his horse, his eagle could be seen above the smoke upon the citadel.

Still the city had to be won, step by step, house by house, street by
street; and even while struggling onwards the Russians were tempted
aside by plunder among the rich stores of merchandise that were heaped
up in the warehouses of this the mart of the East. The Khan profited by
their lack of discipline, and forced them back to the walls; nay, they
would have absolutely been driven out at the great gate, but that they
beheld their young Tzar on horseback among his grey-haired councillors.
By the advice of these old men Ivan rode forward, and with his own hand
planted the sacred standard at the gates, thus forming a barrier that
the fugitives were ashamed to pass. At the same time he, with half his
choice cavalry, dismounted, and entered the town all fresh and vigorous,
their rich armor glittering with gold and silver, and plumes of various
colours streaming from their helmets in all the brilliancy of Eastern
taste. This reinforcement recalled the plunderers to their duty, and the
Tatars were driven back to the Khan's palace, whence, after an hour's
defense, they were forced to retreat.

At a postern gate, Andrej Kourbsky and two hundred men met Yediguer and
10,000 Tatars, and cut off their retreat, enclosing them in the narrow
streets. They forced their Khan to take refuge in a tower, and made
signs as if to capitulate. 'Listen,' they said. 'As long as we had a
government, we were willing to die for our prince and country. Now Kazan
is yours, we deliver our Khan to you, alive and unhurt--lead him to the
Tzar. For our own part, we are coming down into the open field to drain
our last cup of life with you.'

Yediguer and one old councillor were accordingly placed in the hands of
an officer, and then the desperate Tatars, climbing down the outside of
the walls, made for the Kazanka, where no troops, except the small body
under Andrej Kourbsky and his brother Romanus, were at leisure to pursue
them. The fighting was terrible, but the two princes kept them in view
until checked by a marsh which horses could not pass. The bold fugitives
took refuge in a forest, where, other Russian troops coming up, all were
surrounded and slain, since not a man of them would accept quarter.

Yediguer was kindly treated by Ivan, and accompanying him to Moscow,
there became a Christian, and was baptized by the name of Simeon, in the
presence of the Tzar and his whole court, on the banks of the Moskwa. He
married a Russian lady, and his whole conduct proved that his conversion
was sincere.

But this story has only been told at so much length to show what manner
of man Andrej Kourbsky was, and Ivan Vassilovitch had been, and how they
had once been brethren in arms; and perhaps it has been lingered over
from the melancholy interest there must always be in watching the fall
of a powerful nation, and the last struggles of gallant men. Ivan was
then a gallant, religious and highly gifted prince, generous and
merciful, and with every promise of a glorious reign, full of benefits
to his country. Alas! this part of his career was one glimpse of
brightness in the course of a long tempestuous day. His reign had begun
when he was but three years old. He had had a violent and cruel mother,
and had, after her death, been bred up by evil-minded courtiers, who
absolutely taught him cruel and dissolute amusements in order to prevent
him from attending to state affairs. For a time, the exhortations of the
good and fearless patriarch, and the influence of his gentle wife
Anastasia, had prevailed, and with great vigor and strong principle he
had shaken off all the evil habits of his boyhood, and begun, as it
seemed, an admirable reign.

Too soon, a severe illness shook the balance of his mind, and this
was quickly followed by the death of the excellent Tzarina Anastasia.
Whether grief further unsettled him, or whether the loss of her gentle
influence left him a prey to his wicked councillors, from that time
forward his conduct was so wildly savage and barbarous as to win for him
the surname of the Terrible. Frantic actions, extravagant excesses, and
freaks of horrible cruelty looked like insanity; and yet, on the other
hand, he often showed himself a clear-headed and sagacious monarch,
anxious for the glory and improvement of his people.

But he lived in continual suspicion, and dreaded every eminent man in
his dominions. Kourbsky whom he had once loved and trusted, and had
charged with the command of his army, as his most able boyard, fell
under his suspicion; and, with horror and indignation, learnt that the
Tzar was plotting against his life, and intended to have him put to
death. Kourbsky upon this explained to his wife that she must either
see him put to a shameful death, or let him leave her for ever. He gave
his blessing to his son, a boy of nine years old, and leaving his house
at night he scaled the wall of Moscow, and meeting his faithful servant,
Vasili Shibanoff, with two horses, he made his escape. This Vasili was
his stirrup-bearer, one of those serfs over whom the boyard on whose
land they were born possessed absolute power. That power was often
abused, but the instinctive faithfulness of the serf towards his master
could hardly be shaken, even by the most savage treatment, and a well-
treated serf viewed his master's family with enthusiastic love and
veneration. Vasili accompanied his master's flight through the birch
forests towards the Livonian frontier, the country where but lately
Kourbsky had been leading the Tzar's armies. On the way the prince's
horse became exhausted by his weight, and Vasili insisted on giving up
his own in its stead, though capture in the course of such desertion
would have been certain death. However, master and servant safely
arrived at Wolmar in Livonia, and there Andrej came to the determination
of renouncing the service of the ungrateful Ivan, and entering that of
the King of Poland. For this last step there was no excuse. Nothing can
justify a man in taking up arms against his country, but in the middle
Ages the tie of loyalty was rather to the man than to the state, and
Andrej Kourbsky seems to have deemed that his honor would be safe,
provided he sent a letter to his sovereign, explaining his grievance and
giving up his allegiance. The letter is said to have been full of grave
severity and deep, suppressed indignation, though temperate in tone; but
no one would consent to be the bearer of such a missive, since the cruel
tyrant's first fury was almost certain to fall on him who presented it.
Believing his master's honor at stake, Vasili offered himself to be the
bearer of the fatal letter, and Kourbsky accepted the offer, tendering
to him a sum of money, which the serf rejected, knowing that money would
soon be of little service to him, and seeking no reward for what he
deemed his duty to his lord.

As Ivan's justice had turned into barbarity, so his religion had turned
into foolish fanatic observance. He had built a monastery near Moscow
for himself and three hundred chosen boyards, and every morning at three
or four o'clock he took his two sons into the belfry with him and
proceeded to strike the bells, the Russian mode of ringing them, till
all the brethren were assembled. This bell-sounding was his favorite
occupation, and in it he was engaged when Vasili arrived. The servant
awaited him in the vestibule, and delivered the letter with these words:
'From my master and thine exile, Prince Andrej Kourbsky.'

Ivan answered by such a blow on the leg with his iron-tipped rod that
the blood poured from the wound; but Vasili neither started, cried out,
nor moved a feature. At once the Tzar bade him be seized and tortured,
to make him disclose whether his master had any partners in guilt, or if
any plans were matured. But no extremity of agony could extract aught
but praises of the prince, and assurances of his readiness to die for
him. From early morning till late at night the torturers worked, one
succeeding when another was tired out; but nothing could overcome his
constancy, and his last words were a prayer to implore his God to have
mercy on his master and forgive his desertion.

His praise came even from the tyrant, who wrote to Kourbsky--'Let thy
servant Vaska [Footnote: the abbreviation of Vasili or Basil.] shame
thee. He preserved his truth to thee before the Tzar and the people.
Having given thee his word of faith, he kept it, even before the gates
of death.'

After the flight of Kourbsky, the rage of Ivan continued to increase
with each year of his life. He had formed a sort of bodyguard of a
thousand ruffians, called the Oprichnina, who carried out his barbarous
commands, and committed an infinity of murders and robberies on their
own account. He was like a distorted caricature of Henry VIII, and, like
him, united violence and cruelty with great exactness about religious
worship, carrying his personal observances to the most fanatic
extravagance.

In the vacancy of the Metropolitan See, he cast his eyes upon the
monastery in the little island of Solovsky, in the White Sea, where the
Prior, Feeleep Kolotchof, was noted for his holy life, and the good he
had done among the wild and miserable population of the island. He was
the son of a rich boyard, but had devoted himself from his youth to a
monastic life, and the fame of his exertions in behalf of the islanders
had led the Tzar to send him not only precious vessels for the use of
his church, but contributions to the stone churches, piers, and
hostelries that he raised for his people; for whom he had made roads,
drained marshes, introduced cattle, and made fisheries and salt pans,
changing the whole aspect of the place, and lessening even the
inclemency of the climate.

On this good man the Tzar fixed his choice. He wrote to him to come to
Moscow to attend a synod, and on his arrival made him dine at the
palace, and informed him that he was to be chief pastor of the Russian
Church. Feeleep burst into tears, entreating permission to refuse, and
beseeching the Tzar not to trust 'so heavy a freight to such a feeble
bark'. Ivan held to his determination, and Feeleep then begged him at
least to dismiss the cruel Oprichnina. 'How can I bless you,' he said,
'while I see my country in mourning?'

The Tzar replied by mentioning his suspicions of all around him, and
commanded Feeleep to be silent. He expected to be sent back to his
convent at once, but, instead of this, the Tzar commanded the clergy to
elect him Archbishop, and they all added their entreaties to him to
accept the office, and endeavor to soften the Tzar, who respected him;
and he yielded at last, saying, 'The will of the Tzar and the pastors of
the church must, then, be done.'

At his consecration, he preached a sermon on the power of mildness, and
the superiority of the victories of love over the triumphs of war. It
awoke the better feelings of Ivan, and for months he abstained from any
deed of violence; his good days seemed to have returned and he lived in
intimate friendship with the good Archbishop.

But after a time the sleeping lion began to waken. Ivan's suspicious
mind took up an idea that Feeleep had been incited by the nobles to
request the abolition of the Oprichnina, and that they were exciting a
revolt. The spies whom he sent into Moscow told him that wherever an
Oprichnik appeared, the people shrank away in silence, as, poor things!
they well might. He fancied this as a sign that conspiracies were
brewing, and all his atrocities began again. The tortures to which whole
families were put were most horrible; the Oprichniks went through the
streets with poignards and axes, seeking out their victims, and killing
from ten to twenty a day. The corpses lay in the streets, for no one
dared to leave his house to bury them. Feeleep vainly sent letters and
exhortations to the Tzar--they were unnoticed. The unhappy citizens came
to the Archbishop, entreating him to intercede for them, and he gave
them his promise that he would not spare his own blood to save theirs.

One Sunday, as Feeleep was about to celebrate the Holy Communion, Ivan
came into the Cathedral with a troop of his satellites, like him,
fantastically dressed in black cassocks and high caps. He came towards
the Metropolitan, but Feeleep kept his eyes fixed on the picture of our
Lord, and never looked at him. Someone said, 'Holy Father, here is the
prince; give him your blessing.'

'No,' said the Archbishop, 'I know not the Tzar in this strange
disguise--still less do I know him in his government. Oh, Prince! we are
here offering sacrifice to the Lord, and beneath the altar the blood of
guiltless Christians is flowing in torrents... You are indeed on the
throne, but there is One above all, our Judge and yours. How shall you
appear before his Judgment Seat?--stained with the blood of the
righteous, stunned with their shrieks, for the stones beneath your feet
cry out for vengeance to Heaven. Prince, I speak as shepherd of souls; I
fear God alone.'

The Archbishop was within the golden gates, which, in Russian churches,
close in the sanctuary or chancel, and are only entered by the clergy.
He was thus out of reach of the cruel iron-tipped staff, which the Tzar
could only strike furiously on the pavement, crying out, 'Rash monk, I
have spared you too long. Henceforth I will be to you such as you
describe.'

The murders went on in their full horrors; but, in spite of the threat,
the Archbishop remained unmolested, though broken-hearted at the
cruelties around him. At last, however, his resolute witness became more
than the tyrant would endure, and messengers were secretly sent to the
island of Solovsky, to endeavor to find some accusation against him.
They tampered with all the monks in the convent, to induce them to find
some fault in him, but each answered that he was a saint in every
thought, word, and deed; until at last Payssi, the prior who had
succeeded him, was induced, by the hope of a bishopric, to bear false
witness against him.

He was cited before an assembly of bishops and boyards, presided over by
the Tzar, and there he patiently listened to the monstrous stories told
by Payssi. Instead of defending himself, he simply said, 'This seed will
not bring you a good harvest;' and, addressing himself to the Tzar,
said, 'Prince, you are mistaken if you think I fear death. Having
attained an advanced age, far from stormy passions and worldly
intrigues, I only desire to return my soul to the Most High, my
Sovereign Master and yours. Better to perish an innocent martyr, than as
Metropolitan to look on at the horrors and impieties of these wretched
times. Do what you will with me! Here are the pastoral staff, the white
mitre, and the mantle with which you invested me. And you, bishops,
archimandrites, abbots, servants of the altar, feed the flock of Christ
zealously, as preparing to give an account thereof, and fear the Judge
of Heaven more than the earthly judge.'

He was then departing, when the Tzar recalled him, saying that he could
not be his own judge, and that he must await his sentence. In truth,
worse indignities were preparing for him. He was in the midst of the
Liturgy on the 8th of November, the Greek Michaelmas, when a boyard came
in with a troop of armed Oprichniks, who overawed the people, while the
boyard read a paper degrading the Metropolitan from his sacred office;
and then the ruffians, entering through the golden gates tore off his
mitre and robes, wrapped him in a mean gown, absolutely swept him out of
the church with brooms, and took him in a sledge to the Convent of the
Epiphany. The people ran after him, weeping bitterly, while the
venerable old man blessed them with uplifted hands, and, whenever he
could be heard, repeated his last injunction, 'Pray, pray to God.'

Once again he was led before the Emperor, to hear the monstrous sentence
that for sorcery, and other heavy charges, he was to be imprisoned for
life. He said no reproachful word, only, for the last time, he besought
the Tzar to have pity on Russia, and to remember how his ancestors had
reigned, and the happy days of his youth. Ivan only commanded the
soldiers to take him away; and he was heavily ironed, and thrown into a
dungeon, whence he was afterwards transferred to a convent on the banks
of the Moskwa, where he was kept bare of almost all the necessaries of
life: and in a few days' time the head of Ivan Borissovitch Kolotchof,
the chief of his family, was sent to him, with the message, 'Here are
the remains of your dear kinsman, your sorcery could not save him!'
Feeleep calmly took the head in his arms, blessed it, and gave it back.

The people of Moscow gathered round the convent, gazed at his cell, and
told each other stories of his good works, which they began to magnify
into miracles. Thereupon the Emperor sent him to another convent, at a
greater distance. Here he remained till the next year, 1569, when Maluta
Skouratof, a Tatar, noted as a favorite of the Tzar, and one of the
chief ministers of his cruelty, came into his cell, and demanded his
blessing for the Tzar.

The Archbishop replied that blessings only await good men and good
works, adding tranquilly, 'I know what you are come for. I have long
looked for death. Let the Tzar's will be done.' The assassin then
smothered him, but pretended to the abbot that he had been stifled by
the heat of the cell. He was buried in haste behind the altar, but his
remains have since been removed to his own cathedral at Moscow, the
scene where he had freely offered his own life by confronting the tyrant
in the vain endeavor to save his people.

Vain, too, was the reproof of the hermit, who shocked Ivan's scruples by
offering him a piece of raw flesh in the middle of Lent, and told him
that he was preying on the flesh and blood of his subjects. The crimes
of Ivan grew more and more terrible, and yet his acuteness was such that
they can hardly be inscribed to insanity. He caused the death of his own
son by a blow with that fatal staff of his; and a last, after a fever
varied by terrible delirium, in which alone his remorse manifested
itself, he died while setting up the pieces for a game at chess, on the
17th of March, 1584.

This has been a horrible story, in reality infinitely more horrible than
we have made it; but there is this blessing among many others in
Christianity, that the blackest night makes its diamonds only show their
living luster more plainly: and surely even Ivan the Terrible, in spite
of himself, did something for the world in bringing out the faithful
fearlessness of Archbishop Feeleep, and the constancy of the stirrup-
bearer, Vasili.




FORT ST. ELMO

1565



The white cross of the Order of St. John waved on the towers of Rhodes
for two hundred and fifty-five years. In 1552, after a desperate
resistance, the Turks, under their great Sultan, Solyman the
Magnificent, succeeded in driving the Knights Hospitaliers from their
beautiful home, and they were again cast upon the world.

They were resolved, however, to continue their old work of protecting
the Mediterranean travelers, and thankfully accepted, as a gift from the
Emperor Charles V., the little islet of Malta as their new station. It
was a great contrast to their former home, being little more than a mere
rock rising steeply out of the sea, white, glaring and with very shallow
earth, unfit to bear corn, though it produced plenty of oranges, figs,
and melons--with little water, and no wood,--the buildings wretched, and
for the most part uninhabited, and the few people a miserable mongrel
set, part Arab, part Greek, part Sicilian, and constantly kept down by
the descents of the Moorish pirates, who used to land in the unprotected
bays, and carry off all the wretched beings they could catch, to sell
for slaves. It was a miserable exchange from fertile Rhodes, which was
nearly five times larger than this barren rock; but the Knights only
wanted a hospital, a fortress, and a harbour; and this last they found
in the deeply indented northern shore, while they made the first two.
Only a few years had passed before the dreary Citta Notabile had become
in truth a notable city, full of fine castle-like houses, infirmaries,
and noble churches, and fenced in with mighty wall and battlements--
country houses were perched upon the rocks--the harbors were fortified,
and filled with vessels of war--and deep vaults were hollowed out in the
rock, in which corn was stored sufficient to supply the inhabitants for
many months.

Everywhere that there was need was seen the red flag with the eight-
pointed cross. If there was an earthquake on the shores of Italy or
Sicily, there were the ships of St. John, bringing succor to the crushed
and ruined townspeople. In every battle with Turk or Moor, the Knights
were among the foremost; and, as ever before, their galleys were the aid
of the peaceful merchant, and the terror of the corsair. Indeed, they
were nearer Tunis, Tripoli, and Algiers, the great nests of these
Moorish pirates, and were better able to threaten them, and thwart their
cruel descents, than when so much farther eastward; and the Mahometan
power found them quite as obnoxious in Malta as in Rhodes.

Solyman the Magnificent resolved, in his old age, to sweep these
obstinate Christians from the seas, and, only twelve years after the
siege of Rhodes, prepared an enormous armament, which he united with
those of the Barbary pirates, and placed under the command of Mustafa
and Piali, his two bravest pashas, and Dragut, a terrible Algerine
corsair, who had already made an attempt upon the island, but had been
repulsed by the good English knight, Sir Nicholas Upton. Without the
advice of this pirate the Sultan desired that nothing should be
undertaken.

The Grand Master who had to meet this tremendous danger was Jean Parisot
de la Valette, a brave and resolute man, as noted for his piety and
tenderness to the sick in the infirmaries as for his unflinching
courage. When he learnt the intentions of the Sultan, he began by
collecting a Chapter of his Order, and, after laying his tidings before
them, said: 'A formidable army and a cloud of barbarians are about to
burst on this isle. Brethren, they are the enemies of Jesus Christ. The
question is the defense of the Faith, and whether the Gospel shall yield
to the Koran. God demands from us the life that we have already devoted
to Him by our profession. Happy they who in so good a cause shall first
consummate their sacrifice. But, that we may be worthy, my brethren, let
us hasten to the altar, there to renew our vows; and may to each one of
us be imparted, by the very Blood of the Saviour of mankind, and by
faithful participation in His Sacraments, that generous contempt of
death that can alone render us invincible.'

With these words, he led the way to the church, and there was not an
individual knight who did not on that day confess and receive the Holy
Communion; after which they were as new men--all disputes, all
trivialities and follies were laid aside--and the whole community
awaited the siege like persons under a solemn dedication.

The chief harbour of Malta is a deep bay, turned towards the north, and
divided into two lesser bays by a large tongue of rock, on the point of
which stood a strong castle, called Fort St. Elmo. The gulf to the
westward has a little island in it, and both gulf and islet are called
Marza Muscat. The gulf to the east, called the Grand Port, was again
divided by three fingers of rock projecting from the mainland, at right
angles to the tongue that bore Fort St. Elmo. Each finger was armed with
a strong talon--the Castle of La Sangle to the east, the Castle of St.
Angelo in the middle, and Fort Ricasoli to the west. Between St. Angelo
and La Sangle was the harbour where all the ships of war were shut up at
night by an immense chain; and behind was il Borgo, the chief
fortification in the island. Citta Notabile and Gozo were inland, and
their fate would depend upon that of the defenses of the harbor. To
defend all this, the Grand Master could only number 700 knights and
8,500 soldiers. He sent to summon home all those of the Order who were
dispersed in the different commanderies in France, Spain, and Germany,
and entreated aid from the Spanish king, Philip II., who wished to be
considered as the prime champion of Roman Catholic Christendom, and who
alone had the power of assisting him. The Duke of Alva, viceroy for
Philip in Sicily, made answer that he would endeavor to relieve the
Order, if they could hold out Fort St. Elmo till the fleet could be got
together; but that if this castle were once lost, it would be impossible
to bring them aid, and they must be left to their fate.

The Grand Master divided the various posts to the knights according to
their countries. The Spaniards under the Commander De Guerras, Bailiff
of Negropont, had the Castle of St. Elmo; the French had Port de la
Sangle; the Germans, and the few English knights whom the Reformation
had left, were charged with the defense of the Port of the Borgo, which
served as headquarters, and the Commander Copier, with a body of troops,
was to remain outside the town and watch and harass the enemy.

On the 18th of May, 1565, the Turkish fleet came in sight. It consisted
of 159 ships, rowed by Christian slaves between the decks, and carrying
30,000 Janissaries and Spahis, the terrible warriors to whom the Turks
owed most of their victories, and after them came, spreading for miles
over the blue waters, a multitude of ships of burthen bringing the
horses of the Spahis, and such heavy battering cannon as rendered the
dangers of a siege infinitely greater than in former days. These
Janissaries were a strange, distorted resemblance of the knights
themselves, for they were bound in a strict brotherhood of arms, and
were not married, so as to care for nothing but each other, the Sultan,
and the honor of their troop. They were not dull, apathetic Turks, but
chiefly natives of Circassia and Georgia, the land where the human race
is most beautiful and nobly formed. They were stolen from their homes,
or, too often, sold by their parents when too young to remember their
Christian baptism, and were bred up as Mahometans, with no home but
their corps, no kindred but their fellow soldiers. Their title, given by
the Sultan who first enrolled them, meant New Soldiers, their ensign was
a camp kettle, as that of their Pashas was one, two, or three horses'
tails, in honor of the old Kurdish chief, the founder of the Turkish
empire; but there was no homeliness in their appointments, their
weapons--scimitars, pistols, and carabines--were crusted with gold and
jewels; their head-dress, though made in imitation of a sleeve, was
gorgeous, and their garments were of the richest wool and silk, dyed
with the deep, exquisite colours of the East. Terrible warriors were
they, and almost equally dreaded were the Spahis, light horsemen from
Albania and the other Greek and Bulgarian provinces who had entered the
Turkish service, and were great plunderers, swift and cruel, glittering,
both man and horse, with the jewels they had gained in their forays.

These were chiefly troops for the land attack, and they were set on
shore at Port St. Thomas, where the commanders, Mustafa and Piali, held
a council, to decide where they should first attack. Piali wished to
wait for Dragut, who was daily expected, but Mustafa was afraid of
losing time, and of being caught by the Spanish fleet, and insisted on
at once laying siege to Fort St. Elmo, which was, he thought, so small
that it could not hold out more than five or six days.

Indeed, it could not hold above 300 men, but these were some of the
bravest of the knights, and as it was only attacked on the land side,
they were able to put off boats at night and communicate with the Grand
Master and their brethren in the Borgo. The Turks set up their
batteries, and fired their enormous cannon shot upon the fortifications.
One of their terrible pieces of ordnance carried stone balls of 160 lb.,
and no wonder that stone and mortar gave way before it, and that a
breach was opened in a few days' time. That night, when, as usual,
boatloads of wounded men were transported across to the Borgo, the
Bailiff of Negropont sent the knight La Cerda to the Grand Master to
give an account of the state of things and ask for help. La Cerda spoke
strongly, and, before a great number of knights, declared that there was
no chance of so weak a place holding out for more than a week.

'What has been lost,' said the Grand Master, 'since you cry out for
help?'

'Sir,' replied La Cerda, 'the castle may be regarded as a patient in
extremity and devoid of strength, who can only be sustained by continual
remedies and constant succor.'

'I will be doctor myself,' replied the Grand Master, 'and will bring
others with me who, if they cannot cure you of fear, will at least be
brave enough to prevent the infidels from seizing the fort.'

The fact was, as he well knew, that the little fort could not hold out
long, and he grieved over the fate of his knights; but time was
everything, and the fate of the whole isle depended upon the white cross
being still on that point of land when the tardy Sicilian fleet should
set sail. He was one who would ask no one to run into perils that he
would not share, and he was bent on throwing himself into St. Elmo, and
being rather buried under the ruins than to leave the Mussulmans free a
moment sooner than could be helped to attack the Borgo and Castle of St.
Angelo. But the whole Chapter of Knights entreated him to abstain, and
so many volunteered for this desperate service, that the only difficulty
was to choose among them. Indeed, La Cerda had done the garrison
injustice; no one's heart was failing but his own; and the next day
there was a respite, for a cannon shot from St. Angelo falling into the
enemy's camp, shattered a stone, a splinter of which struck down the
Piali Pasha. He was thought dead, and the camp and fleet were in
confusion, which enabled the Grand Master to send off his nephew, the
Chevalier de la Valette Cornusson, to Messina to entreat the Viceroy of
Sicily to hasten to their relief; to give him a chart of the entrance of
the harbour, and a list of signals, and to desire in especial that two
ships belonging to the Order, and filled with the knights who had
hurried from distant lands too late for the beginning of the siege,
might come to him at once. To this the Viceroy returned a promise that
at latest the fleet should sail on the 15th of June, adding an
exhortation to him at all sacrifices to maintain St. Elmo. This reply
the Grand Master transmitted to the garrison, and it nerved them to
fight even with more patience and self-sacrifice. A desperate sally was
led by the Chevalier de Medran, who fought his way into the trenches
where the Turkish cannon were planted, and at first drove all before
him; but the Janissaries rallied and forced back the Christians out of
the trenches. Unfortunately there was a high wind, which drove the smoke
of the artillery down on the counter-scarp (the slope of masonry facing
the rampart), and while it was thus hidden from the Christians, the
Turks succeeded in effecting a lodgment there, fortifying themselves
with trees and sacks of earth and wool. When the smoke cleared off, the
knights were dismayed to see the horse-tail ensigns of the Janissaries
so near them, and cannon already prepared to batter the ravelin, or
outwork protecting the gateway.

La Cerda proposed to blow this fortification up, and abandon it, but no
other knight would hear of deserting an inch of wall while it could yet
be held.

But again the sea was specked with white sails from the south-east. Six
galleys came from Egypt, bearing 900 troops--Mameluke horsemen, troops
recruited much like the Janissaries and quite as formidable. These ships
were commanded by Ulucciali, an Italian, who had denied his faith and
become a Mahometan, and was thus regarded with especial horror by the
chivalry of Malta. And the swarm thickened for a few days more; like
white-winged and beautiful but venomous insects hovering round their
prey, the graceful Moorish galleys and galliots came up from the south,
bearing 600 dark-visaged, white-turbaned, lithe-limbed Moors from
Tripoli, under Dragut himself. The thunders of all the guns roaring
forth their salute of honor told the garrison that the most formidable
enemy of all had arrived. And now their little white rock was closed in
on every side, with nothing but its own firmness to be its aid.

Dragut did not approve of having begun with attacking Fort St. Elmo; he
thought that the inland towns should have been first taken, and Mustafa
offered to discontinue the attack, but this the Corsair said could not
now be done with honor, and under him the attack went on more furiously
than ever. He planted a battery of four guns on the point guarding the
entrance of Marza Muscat, the other gulf, and the spot has ever since
been called Dragut's Point. Strange to say, the soldiers in the ravelin
fell asleep, and thus enabled the enemy to scramble up by climbing on
one another's shoulders and enter the place. As soon as the alarm was
given, the Bailiff of Negropont, with a number of knights, rushed into
the ravelin, and fought with the utmost desperation, but all in vain;
they never succeeded in dislodging the Turks, and had almost been
followed by them into the Fort itself. Only the utmost courage turned
back the enemy at last, and, it was believed, with a loss of 3,000. The
Order had twenty knights and a hundred soldiers killed, with many more
wounded. One knight named Abel de Bridiers, who was shot through the
body, refused to be assisted by his brethren, saying, 'Reckon me no more
among the living. You will be doing better by defending our brothers.'
He dragged himself away, and was found dead before the altar in the
Castle chapel. The other wounded were brought back to the Borgo in boats
at night, and La Cerda availed himself of a slight scratch to come with
them and remain, though the Bailiff of Negropont, a very old man, and
with a really severe wound, returned as soon as it had been dressed,
together with the reinforcements sent to supply the place of those who
had been slain. The Grand Master, on finding how small had been La
Cerda's hurt, put him in prison for several days; but he was afterwards
released, and met his death bravely on the ramparts of the Borgo.

The 15th of June was passed. Nothing would make the Sicilian Viceroy
move, nor even let the warships of the Order sail with their own
knights, and the little fort that had been supposed unable to hold out a
week, had for full a month resisted every attack of the enemy.

At last Dragut, though severely wounded while reconnoitring, set up a
battery on the hill of Calcara, so as to command the strait, and hinder
the succors from being sent across to the fort. The wounded were laid
down in the chapel and the vaults, and well it was for them that each
knight of the Order could be a surgeon and a nurse. One good swimmer
crossed under cover of darkness with their last messages, and La Valette
prepared five armed boats for their relief; but the enemy had fifteen
already in the bay, and communication was entirely cut off. It was the
night before the 23rd of June when these brave men knew their time was
come. All night they prayed, and prepared themselves to die by giving
one another the last rites of the Church, and at daylight each repaired
to his post, those who could not walk being carried in chairs, and sat
ghastly figures, sword in hand, on the brink of the breach, ready for
their last fight.

By the middle of the day every Christian knight in St. Elmo had
died upon his post, and the little heap of ruins was in the hands of the
enemy. Dragut was dying of his wound, but just lived to hear that the
place was won, when it had cost the Sultan 8,000 men! Well might Mustafa
say, 'If the son has cost us so much, what will the father do?'

It would be too long to tell the glorious story of the three months'
further siege of the Borgo. The patience and resolution of the knights
was unshaken, though daily there were tremendous battles, and week after
week passed by without the tardy relief from Spain. It is believed that
Philip II. thought that the Turks would exhaust themselves against the
Order, and forbade his Viceroy to hazard his fleet; but at last he was
shamed into permitting the armament to be fitted out. Two hundred
knights of St. John were waiting at Messina, in despair at being unable
to reach their brethren in their deadly strait, and constantly haunting
the Viceroy's palace, till he grew impatient, and declared they did not
treat him respectfully enough, nor call him 'Excellency'.

'Senor,' said one of them, 'if you will only bring us in time to save
the Order, I will call you anything you please, excellency, highness, or
majesty itself.'

At last, on the 1st of September, the fleet really set sail, but it
hovered cautiously about on the farther side of the island, and only
landed 6,000 men and then returned to Sicily. However, the tidings of
its approach had spread such a panic among the Turkish soldiers, who
were worn out and exhausted by their exertions, that they hastily raised
the siege, abandoned their heavy artillery, and, removing their garrison
from Fort St. Elmo, re-embarked in haste and confusion. No sooner,
however, was the Pasha in his ship than he became ashamed of his
precipitation, more especially when he learnt that the relief that had
put 16,000 men to flight consisted only of 6,000, and he resolved to
land and give battle; but his troops were angry and unwilling, and were
actually driven out of their ships by blows.

In the meantime, the Grand Master had again placed a garrison in St.
Elmo, which the Turks had repaired and restored, and once more the cross
of St. John waved on the end of its tongue of land, to greet the Spanish
allies. A battle was fought with the newly arrived troops, in which the
Turks were defeated; they again took to their ships, and the Viceroy of
Sicily, from Syracuse, beheld their fleet in full sail for the East.

Meantime, the gates of the Borgo were thrown open to receive the
brethren and friends who had been so long held back from coming to the
relief of the home of the Order. Four months' siege, by the heaviest
artillery in Europe, had shattered the walls and destroyed the streets,
till, to the eyes of the newcomers, the town looked like a place taken
by assault, and sacked by the enemy; and of the whole garrison, knights,
soldiers, and sailors altogether, only six hundred were left able to
bear arms, and they for the most part covered with wounds. The Grand
Master and his surviving knights could hardly be recognized, so pale and
altered were they by wounds and excessive fatigue; their hair, beards,
dress, and armor showing that for four full months they had hardly
undressed, or lain down unarmed. The newcomers could not restrain their
tears, but all together proceeded to the church to return thanks for the
conclusion of their perils and afflictions. Rejoicings extended all over
Europe, above all in Italy, Spain, and southern France, where the Order
of St. John was the sole protection against the descents of the Barbary
corsairs. The Pope sent La Valette a cardinal's hat, but he would not
accept it, as unsuited to his office; Philip II. presented him with a
jeweled sword and dagger. Some thousand unadorned swords a few months
sooner would have been a better testimony to his constancy, and that of
the brave men whose lives Spain had wasted by her cruel delays.

The Borgo was thenceforth called Citta Vittoriosa; but La Valette
decided on building the chief town of the isle on the Peninsula of Fort
St. Elmo, and in this work he spent his latter days, till he was killed
by a sunstroke, while superintending the new works of the city which is
deservedly known by his name, as Valetta.

The Order of St. John lost much of its character, and was finally swept
from Malta in the general confusion of the Revolutionary wars. The
British crosses now float in the harbour of Malta; but the steep white
rocks must ever bear the memory of the self-devoted endurance of the
beleaguered knights, and, foremost of all, of those who perished in St.
Elmo, in order that the signal banner might to the very last summon the
tardy Viceroy to their aid.




THE VOLUNTARY CONVICT

1622



In the early summer of the year 1605, a coasting vessel was sailing
along the beautiful Gulf of Lyons, the wind blowing gently in the sails,
the blue Mediterranean lying glittering to the south, and the curved
line of the French shore rising in purple and green tints, dotted with
white towns and villages. Suddenly three light, white-sailed ships
appeared in the offing, and the captain's practiced eye detected that
the wings that bore them were those of a bird of prey. He knew them for
African brigantines, and though he made all sail, it was impossible to
run into a French port, as on, on they came, not entirely depending on
the wind, but, like steamers, impelled by unseen powers within them.
Alas! that power was not the force of innocent steam, but the arms of
Christian rowers chained to the oar. Sure as the pounce of a hawk upon a
partridge was the swoop of the corsairs upon the French vessel. A signal
to surrender followed, but the captain boldly refused, and armed his
crew, bidding them stand to their guns. But the fight was too unequal,
the brave little ship was disabled, the pirates boarded her, and, after
a sharp fight on deck, three of the crew lay dead, all the rest were
wounded, and the vessel was the prize of the pirates. The captain was at
once killed, in revenge for his resistance, and all the rest of the crew
and passengers were put in chains. Among these passengers was a young
priest named Vincent de Paul, the son of a farmer in Languedoc, who had
used his utmost endeavors to educate his son for the ministry, even
selling the oxen from the plough to provide for the college expenses. A
small legacy had just fallen to the young man, from a relation who had
died at Marseilles; he had been thither to receive it, and had been
persuaded by a friend to return home by sea. And this was the result of
the pleasant voyage. The legacy was the prey of the pirates, and
Vincent, severely wounded by an arrow, and heavily chained, lay half-
stifled in a corner of the hold of the ship, a captive probably for life
to the enemies of the faith. It was true that France had scandalized
Europe by making peace with the Dey of Tunis, but this was a trifle to
the corsairs; and when, after seven days' further cruising, they put
into the harbour of Tunis, they drew up an account of their capture,
calling it a Spanish vessel, to prevent the French Consul from claiming
the prisoners.

The captives had the coarse blue and white garments of slaves given
them, and were walked five or six times through the narrow streets and
bazaars of Tunis, by way of exhibition. They were then brought back to
their ship, and the purchasers came thither to bargain for them. They
were examined at their meals, to see if they had good appetites; their
sides were felt like those of oxen; their teeth looked at like those of
horses; their wounds were searched, and they were made to run and walk
to show the play of their limbs. All this Vincent endured with patient
submission, constantly supported by the thought of Him who took upon Him
the form of a servant for our sakes; and he did his best, ill as he was,
to give his companions the same confidence.

Weak and unwell, Vincent was sold cheap to a fisherman; but in his new
service it soon became apparent that the sea made him so ill as to be of
no use, so he was sold again to one of the Moorish physicians, the like
of whom may still be seen, smoking their pipes sleepily, under their
white turbans, cross-legged, among the drugs in their shop windows---
these being small open spaces beneath the beautiful stone lacework of
the Moorish lattices. The physician was a great chemist and distiller,
and for four years had been seeking the philosopher's stone, which was
supposed to be the secret of making gold. He found his slave's learning
and intelligence so useful that he grew very fond of him, and tried hard
to persuade him to turn Mahometan, offering him not only liberty, but
the inheritance of all his wealth, and the secrets that he had
discovered.

The Christian priest felt the temptation sufficiently to be always
grateful for the grace that had carried him through it. At the end of a
year, the old doctor died, and his nephew sold Vincent again. His next
master was a native of Nice, who had not held out against the temptation
to renounce his faith in order to avoid a life of slavery, but had
become a renegade, and had the charge of one of the farms of the Dey of
Tunis. The farm was on a hillside in an extremely hot and exposed
region, and Vincent suffered much from being there set to field labour,
but he endured all without a murmur. His master had three wives, and one
of them, who was of Turkish birth,, used often to come out and talk to
him, asking him many questions about his religion. Sometimes she asked
him to sing, and he would then chant the psalm of the captive Jews: 'By
the waters of Babylon we sat down and wept;' and others of the 'songs'
of his Zion. The woman at last told her husband that he must have been
wrong in forsaking a religion of which her slave had told her such
wonderful things. Her words had such an effect on the renegade that he
sought the slave, and in conversation with him soon came to a full sense
of his own miserable position as an apostate. A change of religion on
the part of a Mahometan is, however, always visited with death, both to
the convert and his instructor. An Algerine, who was discovered to have
become a Christian, was about this time said to have been walled up at
once in the fortifications he had been building; and the story has been
confirmed by the recent discovery, by the French engineers, of the
remains of a man within a huge block of clay, that had taken a perfect
cast of his Moorish features, and of the surface of his garments, and
even had his black hair adhering to it. Vincent's master, terrified at
such perils, resolved to make his escape in secret with his slave. It is
disappointing to hear nothing of the wife; and not to know whether she
would not or could not accompany them. All we know is, that master and
slave trusted themselves alone to a small bark, and, safely crossing the
Mediterranean, landed at Aigues Mortes, on the 28th of June, 1607; and
that the renegade at once abjured his false faith, and soon after
entered a brotherhood at Rome, whose office it was to wait on the sick
in hospitals.

This part of Vincent de Paul's life has been told at length because it
shows from what the Knights of St. John strove to protect the
inhabitants of the coasts. We next find Vincent visiting at a hospital
at Paris, where he gave such exceeding comfort to the patients that all
with one voice declared him a messenger from heaven.

He afterwards became a tutor in the family of the Count de Joigni, a
very excellent man, who was easily led by him to many good works. M. de
Joigni was inspector general of the 'Galeres', or Hulks, the ships in
the chief harbors of France, such as Brest and Marseilles, where the
convicts, closely chained, were kept to hard labour, and often made to
toil at the oar, like the slaves of the Africans. Going the round of
these prison ships, the horrible state of the convicts, their half-naked
misery, and still more their fiendish ferocity went to the heart of the
Count and of the Abbé de Paul; and, with full authority from the
inspector, the tutor worked among these wretched beings with such good
effect that on his doings being represented to the King, Louis XIII., he
was made almoner general to the galleys.

While visiting those at Marseilles, he was much struck by the broken-
down looks and exceeding sorrowfulness of one of the convicts. He
entered into conversation with him, and, after many kind words,
persuaded him to tell his troubles. His sorrow was far less for his own
condition than for the misery to which his absence must needs reduce his
wife and children. And what was Vincent's reply to this? His action was
so striking that, though in itself it could hardly be safe to propose it
as an example, it must be mentioned as the very height of self-
sacrifice.

He absolutely changed places with the convict. Probably some arrangement
was made with the immediate jailor of the gang, who, by the exchange of
the priest for the convict, could make up his full tale of men to show
when his numbers were counted. At any rate the prisoner went free, and
returned to his home, whilst Vincent wore a convict's chain, did a
convict's work, lived on convict's fare, and, what was worse, had only
convict society. He was soon sought out and released, but the hurts he
had received from the pressure of the chain lasted all his life. He
never spoke of the event; it was kept a strict secret; and once when he
had referred to it in a letter to a friend, he became so much afraid
that the story would become known that he sent to ask for the letter
back again. It was, however, not returned, and it makes the fact
certain. It would be a dangerous precedent if prison chaplains were to
change places with their charges; and, beautiful as was Vincent's
spirit, the act can hardly be justified; but it should also be
remembered that among the galleys of France there were then many who had
been condemned for resistance to the arbitrary will of Cardinal de
Richelieu, men not necessarily corrupt and degraded like the thieves and
murderers with whom they were associated. At any rate, M. de Joigni did
not displace the almoner, and Vincent worked on the consciences of the
convicts with infinitely more force for having been for a time one of
themselves. Many and many were won back to penitence, a hospital was
founded for them, better regulations established, and, for a time, both
prisons and galleys were wonderfully improved, although only for the
life-time of the good inspector and the saintly almoner. But who shall
say how many souls were saved in those years by these men who did what
they could?

The rest of the life of Vincent de Paul would be too lengthy to tell
here, though acts of beneficence and self-devotion shine out in glory at
each step. The work by which he is chiefly remembered is his
establishment of the Order of Sisters of Charity, the excellent women
who have for two hundred years been the prime workers in every
charitable task in France, nursing the sick, teaching the young, tending
deserted children, ever to be found where there is distress or pain.

But of these, and of his charities, we will not here speak, nor even of
his influence for good on the King and Queen themselves. The whole tenor
of his life was 'golden' in one sense, and if we told all his golden
deeds they would fill an entire book. So we will only wait to tell how
he showed his remembrance of what he had gone through in his African
captivity. The redemption of the prisoners there might have seemed his
first thought, but that he did so much in other quarters. At different
times, with the alms that he collected, and out of the revenues of his
benefices, he ransomed no less then twelve hundred slaves from their
captivity. At one time the French Consul at Tunis wrote to him that for
a certain sum a large number might be set free, and he raised enough to
release not only these, but seventy more, and he further wrought upon
the King to obtain the consent of the Dey of Tunis that a party of
Christian clergy should be permitted to reside in the consul's house,
and to minister to the souls and bodies of the Christian slaves, of whom
there were six thousand in Tunis alone, besides those in Algiers,
Tangier, and Tripoli!

Permission was gained, and a mission of Lazarist brothers arrived. This,
too, was an order founded by Vincent, consisting of priestly nurses like
the Hospitaliers, though not like them warriors. They came in the midst
of a dreadful visitation of the plague, and nursed and tended the sick,
both Christians and Mahometans, with fearless devotion, day and night,
till they won the honor and love of the Moors themselves.

The good Vincent de Paul died in the year 1660, but his brothers of St.
Lazarus, and sisters of charity still tread in the paths he marked out
for them, and his name scarcely needs the saintly epithet that his
church as affixed to it to stand among the most honorable of charitable
men.

The cruel deeds of the African pirates were never wholly checked till
1816, when the united fleets of England and France destroyed the old den
of corsairs at Algiers, which has since become a French colony.




THE HOUSEWIVES OF LOWENBURG

1631



Brave deeds have been done by the burgher dames of some of the German
cities collectively. Without being of the first class of Golden Deeds,
there is something in the exploit of the dames of Weinsberg so quaint
and so touching, that it cannot be omitted here.

It was in the first commencement of the long contest known as the strife
between the Guelfs and Ghibellines--before even these had become the
party words for the Pope's and the Emperor's friends, and when they only
applied to the troops of Bavaria and of Swabia--that, in 1141, Wolf,
Duke of Bavaria, was besieged in his castle of Weinberg by Friedrich,
Duke of Swabia, brother to the reigning emperor, Konrad III.

The siege lasted long, but Wolf was obliged at last to offer to
surrender; and the Emperor granted him permission to depart in safety.
But his wife did not trust to this fair offer. She had reason to believe
that Konrad had a peculiar enmity to her husband; and on his coming to
take possession of the castle, she sent to him to entreat him to give
her a safe conduct for herself and all the other women in the garrison,
that they might come out with as much of their valuables as they could
carry.

This was freely granted, and presently the castle gates opened. From
beneath them came the ladies--but in strange guise. No gold nor jewels
were carried by them, but each one was bending under the weight of her
husband, whom she thus hoped to secure from the vengeance of the
Ghibellines. Konrad, who was really a generous and merciful man, is said
to have been affected to tears by this extraordinary performance; he
hastened to assure the ladies of the perfect safety of their lords, and
that the gentlemen might dismount at once, secure both of life and
freedom. He invited them all to a banquet, and made peace with the Duke
of Bavaria on terms much more favorable to the Guelfs than the rest of
his party had been willing to allow. The castle mount was thenceforth
called no longer the Vine Hill, but the Hill of Weibertreue, or woman's
fidelity. We will not invidiously translate it woman's truth, for there
was in the transaction something of a subterfuge; and it must be owned
that the ladies tried to the utmost the knightly respect for womankind.

The good women of Lowenburg, who were but citizens' wives, seem to us
more worthy of admiration for constancy to their faith, shown at a time
when they had little to aid them. It was such constancy as makes
martyrs; and though the trial stopped short of this, there is something
in the homeliness of the whole scene, and the feminine form of passive
resistance, that makes us so much honor and admire the good women that
we cannot refrain from telling the story.

It was in the year 1631, in the midst of the long Thirty Years' Was
between Roman Catholics and Protestants, which finally decided that each
state should have its own religion, Lowenburg, a city of Silesia,
originally Protestant, had passed into the hands of the Emperor's Roman
Catholic party. It was a fine old German city, standing amid woods and
meadows, fortified with strong walls surrounded by a moat, and with gate
towers to protect the entrance.

In the centre was a large market-place, called the Ring, into which
looked the Council-house and fourteen inns, or places of traffic, for
the cloth that was woven in no less than 300 factories. The houses were
of stone, with gradually projecting stories to the number of four or
five, surmounted with pointed gables. The ground floors had once had
trellised porches, but these had been found inconvenient and were
removed, and the lower story consisted of a large hall, and strong
vault, with a spacious room behind it containing a baking-oven, and a
staircase leading to a wooden gallery, where the family used to dine. It
seems they slept in the room below, though they had upstairs a handsome
wainscoted apartment.

Very rich and flourishing had the Lowenburgers always been, and their
walls were quite sufficient to turn back any robber barons, or even any
invading Poles; but things were different when firearms were in use, and
the bands of mercenary soldiers had succeeded the feudal army. They were
infinitely more formidable during the battle or siege from their
discipline, and yet more dreadful after it for their want of discipline.
The poor Lowneburgers had been greatly misused: their Lutheran pastors
had been expelled; all the superior citizens had either fled or been
imprisoned; 250 families spent the summer in the woods, and of those who
remained in the city, the men had for the most part outwardly conformed
to the Roman Catholic Church. Most of these were of course indifferent
at heart, and they had found places in the town council which had
formerly been filled by more respectable men. However, the wives had
almost all remained staunch to their Lutheran confession; they had
followed their pastors weeping to the gates of the city, loading them
with gifts, and they hastened at every opportunity to hear their
preachings, or obtain baptism for their children at the Lutheran
churches in the neighborhood.

The person who had the upper hand in the Council was one Julius, who had
been a Franciscan friar, but was a desperate, unscrupulous fellow, not
at all like a monk. Finding that it was considered as a reproach that
the churches of Lowenburg were empty, he called the whole Council
together on the 9th of April, 1631, and informed them that the women
must be brought to conformity, or else there were towers and prisons for
them. The Burgomaster was ill in bed, but the Judge, one Elias Seiler,
spoke up at once. 'If we have been able to bring the men into the right
path, why should not we be able to deal with these little creatures?'

Herr Mesnel, a cloth factor, who had been a widower six weeks, thought
it would be hard to manage, though he quite agreed to the expedient,
saying, 'It would be truly good if man and wife had one Creed and one
Paternoster; as concerns the Ten Commandments it is not so pressing.' (A
sentiment that he could hardly have wished to see put in practice.)

Another councilor, called Schwob Franze, who had lost his wife a few
days before, seems to have had an eye to the future, for he said it
would be a pity to frighten away the many beautiful maidens and widows
there were among the Lutheran women; but on the whole the men without
wives were much bolder and more sanguine of success than the married
ones. And no one would undertake to deal with his own wife privately, so
it ended by a message being sent to the more distinguished ladies to
attend the Council.

But presently up came tidings that not merely these few dames, whom they
might have hoped to overawe, were on their way, but that the Judge's
wife and the Burgomaster's were the first pair in a procession of full
500 housewives, who were walking sedately up the stairs to the Council
Hall below the chamber where the dignitaries were assembled. This was
not by any means what had been expected, and the message was sent down
that only the chief ladies should come up. 'No,' replied the Judge's
wife, 'we will not allow ourselves to be separated,' and to this they
were firm; they said, as one fared all should fare; and the Town Clerk,
going up and down with smooth words, received no better answer than this
from the Judge's wife, who, it must be confessed, was less ladylike in
language than resolute in faith.

'Nay, nay, dear friend, do you think we are so simple as not to perceive
the trick by which you would force us poor women against our conscience
to change our faith? My husband and the priest have not been consorting
together all these days for nothing; they have been joined together
almost day and night; assuredly they have either boiled or baked a
devil, which they may eat up themselves. I shall not enter there! Where
I remain, my train and following will remain also! Women, is this your
will?'

'Yea, yea, let it be so,' they said; 'we will all hold together as one
man.'

His honor the Town Clerk was much affrighted, and went hastily back,
reporting that the Council was in no small danger, since each housewife
had her bunch of keys at her side! These keys were the badge of a wife's
dignity and authority, and moreover they were such ponderous articles
that they sometimes served as weapons. A Scottish virago has been know
to dash out the brains of a wounded enemy with her keys; and the
intelligence that the good dames had come so well furnished, filled the
Council with panic. Dr. Melchior Hubner, who had been a miller's man,
wished for a hundred musketeers to mow them down; but the Town Clerk
proposed that all the Council should creep quietly down the back stairs,
lock the doors on the refractory womankind, and make their escape.
This was effected as silently and quickly as possible, for the whole
Council 'could confess to a state of frightful terror.' Presently the
women peeped out, and saw the stairs bestrewn with hats, gloves, and
handkerchiefs; and perceiving how they had put all the wisdom and
authority of the town to the rout, there was great merriment among them,
though, finding themselves locked up, the more tenderhearted began to
pity their husbands and children. As for themselves, their maids and
children came round the Town Hall, to hand in provisions to them, and
all the men who were not of the Council were seeking the magistrates to
know what their wives had done to be thus locked up.

The Judge sent to assemble the rest of the Council at his house; and
though only four came, the doorkeeper ran to the Town Hall, and called
out to his wife that the Council had reassembled, and they would soon be
let out. To which, however, that very shrewd dame, the Judge's wife,
answered with great composure, 'Yea, we willingly have patience, as we
are quite comfortable here; but tell them they ought to inform us why we
are summoned and confined without trial.'

She well knew how much better off she was than her husband without her.
He paced about in great perturbation, and at last called for something
to eat. The maid served up a dish of crab, some white bread, and butter;
but, in his fury, he threw all the food about the room and out the
window, away from the poor children, who had had nothing to eat all day,
and at last he threw all the dishes and saucepans out of window. At last
the Town Clerk and two others were sent to do their best to persuade the
women that they had misunderstood--they were in no danger, and were only
invited to the preachings of Holy Week: and, as Master Daniel, the
joiner, added, 'It was only a friendly conference. It is not customary
with my masters and the very wise Council to hang a man before they have
caught him.'

This opprobrious illustration raised a considerable clamor of abuse from
the ruder women; but the Judge's and Burgomaster's ladies silenced them,
and repeated their resolution never to give up their faith against their
conscience. Seeing that no impression was made on them, and that nobody
knew what to do without them at home, the magistracy decided that they
should be released, and they went quietly home; but the Judge Seiler,
either because he had been foremost in the business, or else perhaps
because of the devastation he had made at home among the pots and pans,
durst not meet his wife, but sneaked out of the town, and left her with
the house to herself.

The priest now tried getting the three chief ladies alone together, and
most politely begged them to conform; but instead of arguing, they
simply answered; 'No; we were otherwise instructed by our parents and
former preachers.'

Then he begged them at least to tell the other women that they had asked
for fourteen days for consideration.

'No, dear sir,' they replied: 'we were not taught by our parents to tell
falsehoods, and we will not learn it from you.'

Meanwhile Schwob Franze rushed to the Burgomaster's bedside, and begged
him, for Heaven's sake, to prevent the priest from meddling with the
women; for the whole bevy, hearing that their three leaders were called
before the priest, were collecting in the marketplace, keys, bundles,
and all; and the panic of the worthy magistrates was renewed. The
Burgomaster sent for the priest, and told him plainly, that if any harm
befel him from the women, the fault would be his own; and thereupon he
gave way, the ladies went quietly home, and their stout champions laid
aside their bundles and keys--not out of reach, however, in case of
another summons.

However, the priest was obliged, next year, to leave Lowenburg in
disgrace, for he was a man of notoriously bad character; and Dr.
Melchior became a soldier, and was hanged at Prague.

After all, such a confession as this is a mere trifle, not only compared
with martyrdoms of old, but with the constancy with which, after the
revocation of the Edict of Nantes, the Huguenots endured persecution---
as, for instance, the large number of women who were imprisoned for
thirty-eight years at Aigues Mortes; or again, with the steady
resolution of the persecuted nuns of Port Royal against signing the
condemnation of the works of Jansen. Yet, in its own way, the feminine
resistance of these good citizens' wives, without being equally high-
toned, is worthy of record, and far too full of character to be passed
over.




FATHERS AND SONS

219--1642--1798



One of the noblest characters in old Roman history is the first Scipio
Africanus, and his first appearance is in a most pleasing light, at the
battle of the River Ticinus, B.C. 219, when the Carthaginians, under
Hannibal, had just completed their wonderful march across the Alps, and
surprised the Romans in Italy itself.

Young Scipio was then only seventeen years of age, and had gone to his
first battle under the eagles of his father, the Consul, Publius
Cornelius Scipio. It was an unfortunate battle; the Romans, when
exhausted by long resistance to the Spanish horse in Hannibal's army,
were taken in flank by the Numidian calvary, and entirely broken. The
Consul rode in front of the few equites he could keep together, striving
by voice and example to rally his forces, until he was pierced by one of
the long Numidian javelins, and fell senseless from his horse. The
Romans, thinking him dead, entirely gave way; but his young son would
not leave him, and, lifting him on his horse, succeeded in bringing him
safe into the camp, where he recovered, and his after days retrieved the
honor of the Roman arms.

The story of a brave and devoted son comes to us to light up the sadness
of our civil wars between Cavaliers and Roundheads in the middle of the
seventeenth century. It was soon after King Charles had raised his
standard at Nottingham, and set forth on his march for London, that it
became evident that the Parliamentary army, under the Earl of Essex,
intended to intercept his march. The King himself was with the army,
with his two boys, Charles and James; but the General-in-chief was
Robert Bertie, Earl of Lindsay, a brave and experienced old soldier,
sixty years of age, godson to Queen Elizabeth, and to her two favorite
Earls, whose Christian name he bore. He had been in her Essex's
expedition to Cambridge, and had afterwards served in the Low Countries,
under Prince Maurice of Nassau; for the long Continental wars had
throughout King James' peaceful reign been treated by the English
nobility as schools of arms, and a few campaigns were considered as a
graceful finish to a gentleman's education. As soon as Lord Lindsay had
begun to fear that the disputes between the King and Parliament must end
in war, he had begun to exercise and train his tenantry in Lincolnshire
and Northamptonshire, of whom he had formed a regiment of infantry. With
him was his son Montagu Bertie, Lord Willoughby, a noble-looking man of
thirty-two, of whom it was said, that he was 'as excellent in reality as
others in pretence,' and that, thinking 'that the cross was an ornament
to the crown, and much more to the coronet, he satisfied not himself
with the mere exercise of virtue, but sublimated it, and made it grace.'
He had likewise seen some service against the Spaniards in the
Netherlands, and after his return had been made a captain in the
Lifeguards, and a Gentleman of the Bedchamber. Vandyke has left
portraits of the father and the son; the one a bald-headed, alert,
precise-looking old warrior, with the cuirass and gauntlets of elder
warfare; the other, the very model of a cavalier, tall, easy, and
graceful, with a gentle reflecting face, and wearing the long lovelocks
and deep point lace collar and cuffs characteristic of Queen Henrietta's
Court. Lindsay was called General-in-chief, but the King had imprudently
exempted the cavalry from his command, its general, Prince Rupert of the
Rhine, taking orders only from himself. Rupert was only three-and-
twenty, and his education in the wild school of the Thirty Years' War
had not taught him to lay aside his arrogance and opinionativeness;
indeed, he had shown great petulance at receiving orders from the King
through Lord Falkland.

At eight o'clock, on the morning of the 23rd of October, King Charles
was riding along the ridge of Edgehill, and looking down into the Vale
of Red Horse, a fair meadow land, here and there broken by hedges and
copses. His troops were mustering around him, and in the valley he could
see with his telescope the various Parliamentary regiments, as they
poured out of the town of Keinton, and took up their positions in three
lines. 'I never saw the rebels in a body before,' he said, as he gazed
sadly at the subjects arrayed against him. 'I shall give them battle.
God, and the prayers of good men to Him, assist the justice of my
cause.' The whole of his forces, about 11,000 in number, were not
assembled till two o'clock in the afternoon, for the gentlemen who had
become officers found it no easy matter to call their farmers and
retainers together, and marshal them into any sort of order. But while
one troop after another came trampling, clanking, and shouting in,
trying to find and take their proper place, there were hot words round
the royal standard.

Lord Lindsay, who was an old comrade of the Earl of Essex, the commander
of the rebel forces, knew that he would follow the tactics they had both
together studied in Holland, little thinking that one day they should be
arrayed one against the other in their own native England. He had a high
opinion of Essex's generalship, and insisted that the situation of the
Royal army required the utmost caution. Rupert, on the other hand, had
seen the swift fiery charges of the fierce troopers of the Thirty Years'
war, and was backed up by Patrick, Lord Ruthven, one of the many Scots
who had won honor under the great Swedish King, Gustavus Adolphus. A
sudden charge of the Royal horse would, Rupert argued, sweep the
Roundheads from the field, and the foot would have nothing to do but to
follow up the victory. The great portrait at Windsor shows us exactly
how the King must have stood, with his charger by his side, and his
grave, melancholy face, sad enough at having to fight at all with his
subjects, and never having seen a battle, entirely bewildered between
the ardent words of his spirited nephew and the grave replies of the
well-seasoned old Earl. At last, as time went on, and some decision was
necessary, the perplexed King, willing at least not to irritate Rupert,
desired that Ruthven should array the troops in the Swedish fashion.

It was a greater affront to the General-in-chief than the king was
likely to understand, but it could not shake the old soldier's loyalty.
He gravely resigned the empty title of General, which only made
confusion worse confounded, and rode away to act as colonel of his own
Lincoln regiment, pitying his master's perplexity, and resolved that no
private pique should hinder him from doing his duty. His regiment was of
foot soldiers, and was just opposite to the standard of the Earl of
Essex.

The church bell was ringing for afternoon service when the Royal forces
marched down the hill. The last hurried prayer before the charge was
stout old Sir Jacob Astley's, 'O Lord, Thou knowest how busy I must be
this day; if I forget Thee, do not Thou forget me;' then, rising, he
said, 'March on, boys.' And, amid prayer and exhortation, the other side
awaited the shock, as men whom a strong and deeply embittered sense of
wrong had roused to take up arms. Prince Rupert's charge was, however,
fully successful. No one even waited to cross swords with his troopers,
but all the Roundhead horse galloped headlong off the field, hotly
pursued by the Royalists. But the main body of the army stood firm, and
for some time the battle was nearly equal, until a large troop of the
enemy's cavalry who had been kept in reserve, wheeled round and fell
upon the Royal forces just when their scanty supply of ammunition was
exhausted.

Step by step, however, they retreated bravely, and Rupert, who had
returned from his charge, sought in vain to collect his scattered
troopers, so as to fall again on the rebels; but some were plundering,
some chasing the enemy, and none could be got together. Lord Lindsay was
shot through the thigh bone, and fell. He was instantly surrounded by
the rebels on horseback; but his son, Lord Willoughby, seeing his
danger, flung himself alone among the enemy, and forcing his way
forward, raised his father in his arms thinking of nothing else, and
unheeding his own peril. The throng of enemy around called to him to
surrender, and, hastily giving up his sword, he carried the Earl into
the nearest shed, and laid him on a heap of straw, vainly striving to
staunch the blood. It was a bitterly cold night, and the frosty wind
came howling through the darkness. Far above, on the ridge of the hill,
the fires of the King's army shone with red light, and some way off on
the other side twinkled those of the Parliamentary forces. Glimmering
lanterns or torches moved about the battlefield, those of the savage
plunderers who crept about to despoil the dead. Whether the battle were
won or lost, the father and son knew not, and the guard who watched them
knew as little. Lord Lindsay himself murmured, 'If it please God I
should survive, I never will fight in the same field with boys again!'--
no doubt deeming that young Rupert had wrought all the mischief. His
thoughts were all on the cause, his son's all on him; and piteous was
that night, as the blood continued to flow, and nothing availed to check
it, nor was any aid near to restore the old man's ebbing strength.

Toward midnight the Earl's old comrade Essex had time to understand his
condition, and sent some officers to enquire for him, and promise speedy
surgical attendance. Lindsay was still full of spirit, and spoke to them
so strongly of their broken faith, and of the sin of disloyalty and
rebellion, that they slunk away one by one out of the hut, and dissuaded
Essex from coming himself to see his old friend, as he had intended. The
surgeon, however, arrived, but too late, Lindsay was already so much
exhausted by cold and loss of blood, that he died early in the morning
of the 24th, all his son's gallant devotion having failed to save him.

The sorrowing son received an affectionate note the next day from the
King, full of regret for his father and esteem for himself. Charles made
every effort to obtain his exchange, but could not succeed for a whole
year. He was afterwards one of the four noblemen who, seven years later,
followed the King's white, silent, snowy funeral in the dismantled St.
George's Chapel; and from first to last he was one of the bravest,
purest, and most devoted of those who did honor to the Cavalier cause.

We have still another brave son to describe, and for him we must return
away from these sad pages of our history, when we were a house divided
against itself, to one of the hours of our brightest glory, when the
cause we fought in was the cause of all the oppressed, and nearly alone
we upheld the rights of oppressed countries against the invader. And
thus it is that the battle of the Nile is one of the exploits to which
we look back with the greatest exultation, when we think of the triumph
of the British flag.

Let us think of all that was at stake. Napoleon Bonaparte was climbing
to power in France, by directing her successful arms against the world.
He had beaten Germany and conquered Italy; he had threatened England,
and his dream was of the conquest of the East. Like another Alexander,
he hoped to subdue Asia, and overthrow the hated British power by
depriving it of India. Hitherto, his dreams had become earnest by the
force of his marvelous genius, and by the ardor which he breathed into
the whole French nation; and when he set sail from Toulon, with 40,000
tried and victorious soldiers and a magnificent fleet, all were filled
with vague and unbounded expectations of almost fabulous glories. He
swept away as it were the degenerate Knights of St. john from their rock
of Malta, and sailed for Alexandria in Egypt, in the latter end of June,
1798.

His intentions had not become known, and the English Mediterranean fleet
was watching the course of this great armament. Sir Horatio Nelson was
in pursuit, with the English vessels, and wrote to the First Lord of the
Admiralty: 'Be they bound to the Antipodes, your lordship may rely that
I will not lose a moment in bringing them to action.'

Nelson had, however, not ships enough to be detached to reconnoitre, and
he actually overpassed the French, whom he guessed to be on the way to
Egypt; he arrived at the port of Alexandria on the 28th of June, and saw
its blue waters and flat coast lying still in their sunny torpor, as if
no enemy were on the seas. Back he went to Syracuse, but could learn no
more there; he obtained provisions with some difficulty, and then, in
great anxiety, sailed for Greece; where at last, on the 28th of July, he
learnt that the French fleet had been seen from Candia, steering to the
southeast, and about four weeks since. In fact, it had actually passed
by him in a thick haze, which concealed each fleet from the other, and
had arrived at Alexandria on the 1st of July, three days after he had
left it!

Every sail was set for the south, and at four o'clock in the afternoon
of the 1st of August a very different sight was seen in Aboukir Bay, so
solitary a month ago. It was crowded with shipping. Great castle-like
men-of-war rose with all their proud calm dignity out of the water,
their dark port-holes opening in the white bands on their sides, and the
tricolored flag floating as their ensign. There were thirteen ships of
the line and four frigates, and, of these, three were 80-gun ships, and
one, towering high above the rest, with her three decks, was L'Orient,
of 120 guns. Look well at her, for there stands the hero for whose sake
we have chose this and no other of Nelson's glorious fights to place
among the setting of our Golden Deeds. There he is, a little cadet de
vaisseau, as the French call a midshipman, only ten years old, with a
heart swelling between awe and exultation at the prospect of his first
battle; but, fearless and glad, for is he not the son of the brave
Casabianca, the flag-captain? And is not this Admiral Brueys' own ship,
looking down in scorn on the fourteen little English ships, not one
carrying more than 74 guns, and one only 50?

Why Napoleon had kept the fleet there was never known. In his usual mean
way of disavowing whatever turned out ill, he laid the blame upon
Admiral Brueys; but, though dead men could not tell tales, his papers
made it plain that the ships had remained in obedience to commands,
though they had not been able to enter the harbour of Alexandria. Large
rewards had been offered to any pilot who would take them in, but none
could be found who would venture to steer into that port a vessel
drawing more than twenty feet of water. They had, therefore, remained at
anchor outside, in Aboukir Bay, drawn up in a curve along the deepest of
the water, with no room to pass them at either end, so that the
commissary of the fleet reported that they could bid defiance to a force
more than double their number. The admiral believed that Nelson had not
ventured to attack him when they had passed by one another a month
before, and when the English fleet was signaled, he still supposed that
it was too late in the day for an attack to be made.

Nelson had, however, no sooner learnt that the French were in sight than
he signaled from his ship, the Vanguard, that preparations for battle
should be made, and in the meantime summoned up his captains to receive
his orders during a hurried meal. He explained that, where there was
room for a large French ship to swing, there was room for a small
English one to anchor, and, therefore, he designed to bring his ships up
to the outer part of the French line, and station them close below their
adversary; a plan that he said Lord Hood had once designed, though he
had not carried it out.

Captain Berry was delighted, and exclaimed, 'If we succeed, what will
the world say?'

'There is no if in the case,' returned Nelson, 'that we shall succeed is
certain. Who may live to tell the tale is a very different question.'

And when they rose and parted, he said, 'before this time to-morrow I
shall have gained a peerage or Westminster Abbey.'

In the fleet went, through a fierce storm of shot and shell from a
French battery in an island in advance. Nelson's own ship, the Vanguard,
was the first to anchor within half-pistol-shot of the third French
ship, the Spartiate. The Vanguard had six colours flying, in any case
any should be shot away; and such was the fire that was directed on her,
that in a few minutes every man at the six guns in her forepart was
killed or wounded, and this happened three times. Nelson himself
received a wound in the head, which was thought at first to be mortal,
but which proved but slight. He would not allow the surgeon to leave the
sailors to attend to him till it came to his turn.

Meantime his ships were doing their work gloriously. The Bellerophon
was, indeed, overpowered by L'Orient, 200 of her crew killed, and all
her masts and cables shot away, so that she drifted away as night came
on; but the Swiftsure came up in her place, and the Alexander and
Leander both poured in their shot. Admiral Brueys received three wounds,
but would not quit his post, and at length a fourth shot almost cut him
in two. He desired not to be carried below, but that he might die on
deck.

About nine o'clock the ship took fire, and blazed up with fearful
brightness, lighting up the whole bay, and showing five French ships
with their colours hauled down, the others still fighting on. Nelson
himself rose and came on deck when this fearful glow came shining from
sea and sky into his cabin; and gave orders that the English boars
should immediately be put off for L'Orient, to save as many lives as
possible.

The English sailors rowed up to the burning ship which they had lately
been attacking. The French officers listened to the offer of safety, and
called to the little favorite of the ship, the captain's son, to come
with them. 'No,' said the brave child, 'he was where his father had
stationed him, and bidden him not to move save at his call.' They told
him his father's voice would never call him again, for he lay senseless
and mortally wounded on the deck, and that the ship must blow up. 'No,'
said the brave child, 'he must obey his father.' The moment allowed no
delaythe boat put off. The flames showed all that passed in a quivering
flare more intense than daylight, and the little fellow was then seen on
the deck, leaning over the prostrate figure, and presently tying it to
one of the spars of the shivered masts.

Just then a thundering explosion shook down to the very hold every ship
in the harbour, and burning fragments of L'Orient came falling far and
wide, plashing heavily into the water, in the dead, awful stillness that
followed the fearful sound. English boats were plying busily about,
picking up those who had leapt overboard in time. Some were dragged in
through the lower portholes of the English ships, and about seventy were
saved altogether. For one moment a boat's crew had a sight of a helpless
figure bound to a spar, and guided by a little childish swimmer, who
must have gone overboard with his precious freight just before the
explosion. They rowed after the brave little fellow, earnestly desiring
to save him; but in darkness, in smoke, in lurid uncertain light, amid
hosts of drowning wretches, they lost sight of him again.


The boy, oh where was he!
  Ask of the winds that far around
With fragments strewed the sea;
  With mast and helm, and pennant fair
That well had borne their part:
  But the noblest thing that perished there
Was that young faithful heart!


By sunrise the victory was complete. Nay, as Nelson said, 'It was not a
victory, but a conquest.' Only four French ships escaped, and Napoleon
and his army were cut off from home. These are the glories of our navy,
gained by men with hearts as true and obedient as that of the brave
child they had tried in vain to save. Yet still, while giving the full
meed of thankful, sympathetic honor to our noble sailors, we cannot but
feel that the Golden Deed of Aboukir Bay fell to--

'That young faithful heart.'




THE SOLDIERS IN THE SNOW

1672



Few generals had ever been more loved by their soldiers than the great
Viscount de Turenne, who was Marshal of France in the time of Louis XIV.
Troops are always proud of a leader who wins victories; but Turenne was
far more loved for his generous kindness than for his successes. If he
gained a battle, he always wrote in his despatches, 'We succeeded,' so
as to give the credit to the rest of the army; but if he were defeated,
he wrote, 'I lost,' so as to take all the blame upon himself. He always
shared as much as possible in every hardship suffered by his men, and
they trusted him entirely. In the year 1672, Turenne and his army were
sent to make war upon the Elector Frederick William of Brandenburg, in
Northern Germany. It was in the depth of winter, and the marches through
the heavy roads were very trying and wearisome; but the soldiers endured
all cheerfully for his sake. Once when they were wading though a deep
morass, some of the younger soldiers complained; but the elder ones
answered, 'Depend upon it, Turenne is more concerned than we are. At
this moment he is thinking how to deliver us. He watches for us while we
sleep. He is our father. It is plain that you are but young.'

Another night, when he was going the round of the camp, he overheard
some of the younger men murmuring at the discomforts of the march; when
an old soldier, newly recovered from a severe wound, said: 'You do not
know our father. He would not have made us go through such fatigue,
unless he had some great end in view, which we cannot yet make out.'
Turenne always declared that nothing had ever given him more pleasure
than this conversation.

There was a severe sickness among the troops, and he went about among
the sufferers, comforting them, and seeing that their wants were
supplied. When he passed by, the soldiers came out of their tents to
look at him, and say, 'Our father is in good health: we have nothing to
fear.'

The army had to enter the principality of Halberstadt, the way to which
lay over ridges of high hills with narrow defiles between them.
Considerable time was required for the whole of the troops to march
through a single narrow outlet; and one very cold day, when such a
passage was taking place, the Marshal, quite spent with fatigue, sat
down under a bush to wait till all had marched by, and fell asleep. When
he awoke, it was snowing fast; but he found himself under a sort of tent
made of soldiers' cloaks, hung up upon the branches of trees planted in
the ground, and round it were standing, in the cold and snow, all
unsheltered, a party of soldiers. Turenne called out to them, to ask
what they were doing there. 'We are taking care of our father,' they
said; 'that is our chief concern.' The general, to keep up discipline,
seems to have scolded them a little for straggling from their regiment;
but he was much affected and gratified by this sight of their hearty
love for him.

Still greater and more devoted love was shown by some German soldiers in
the terrible winter of 1812. It was when the Emperor Napoleon I. had
made his vain attempt to conquer Russia, and had been prevented from
spending the winter at Moscow by the great fire that consumed all the
city. He was obliged to retreat through the snow, with the Russian army
pursuing him, and his miserable troops suffering horrors beyond all
imagination. Among them were many Italians, Poles, and Germans, whom he
had obliged to become his allies; and the 'Golden Deed' of ten of these
German soldiers, the last remnant of those led from Hesse Darmstadt by
their gallant young Prince Emilius, is best told in Lord Houghton's
verses:--


'From Hessen Darmstadt every step to Moskwa's blazing banks,
Was Prince Emilius found in flight before the foremost ranks;
And when upon the icy waste that host was backward cast,
On Beresina's bloody bridge his banner waved the last.

'His valor shed victorious grace on all that dread retreat--
That path across the wildering snow, athwart the blinding sleet;
And every follower of his sword could all endure and dare,
Becoming warriors, strong in hope, or stronger in despair.
'Now, day and dark, along the storm the demon Cossacks sweep--
The hungriest must not look for food, the weariest must not sleep.
No rest but death for horse or man, whichever first shall tire;
They see the flames destroy, but ne'er may feel the saving fire.
'Thus never closed the bitter night, nor rose the salvage morn,
But from the gallant company some noble part was shorn;
And, sick at heart, the Prince resolved to keep his purposed way
With steadfast forward looks, nor count the losses of the day.

'At length beside a black, burnt hut, an island of the snow,
Each head in frigid torpor bent toward the saddle bow;
They paused, and of that sturdy troop--that thousand banded men--
At one unmeditated glance he numbered only ten!

'Of all that high triumphant life that left his German home--
Of all those hearts that beat beloved, or looked for love to come--
This piteous remnant, hardly saved, his spirit overcame,
While memory raised each friendly face, recalled an ancient name.

'These were his words, serene and firm, 'Dear brothers, it is best
That here, with perfect trust in Heaven, we give our bodies rest;
If we have borne, like faithful men, our part of toil and pain,
Where'er we wake, for Christ's good sake, we shall not sleep in vain.'

'Some uttered, others looked assent--they had no heart to speak;
Dumb hands were pressed, the pallid lip approached the callous cheek.
They laid them side by side; and death to him at last did seem
To come attired in mazy robe of variegated dream.

'Once more he floated on the breast of old familiar Rhine,
His mother's and one other smile above him seemed to shine;
A blessed dew of healing fell on every aching limb;
Till the stream broadened, and the air thickened, and all was dim.

'Nature has bent to other laws if that tremendous night
Passed o'er his frame, exposed and worn, and left no deadly blight;
Then wonder not that when, refresh'd and warm, he woke at last,
There lay a boundless gulf of thought between him and the past.

'Soon raising his astonished head, he found himself alone,
Sheltered beneath a genial heap of vestments not his own;
The light increased, the solemn truth revealing more and more,
The soldiers' corses, self-despoiled, closed up the narrow door.

'That every hour, fulfilling good, miraculous succor came,
And Prince Emilius lived to give this worthy deed to fame.
O brave fidelity in death! O strength of loving will!
These are the holy balsam drops that woeful wars distil.'




GUNPOWDER PERILS

1700



The wild history of Ireland contains many a frightful tale, but also
many an action of the noblest order; and the short sketch given by Maria
Edgeworth of her ancestry, presents such a chequerwork of the gold and
the lead that it is almost impossible to separate them.

At the time of the great Irish rebellion of 1641 the head of the
Edgeworth family had left his English wife and her infant son at his
castle of Cranallagh in county Longford, thinking them safe there while
he joined the royal forces under the Earl of Ormond. In his absence,
however, the rebels attacked the castle at night, set fire to it, and
dragged the lady out absolutely naked. She hid herself under a furze
bush, and succeeded in escaping and reaching Dublin, whence she made her
way to her father's house in Derbyshire. Her little son was found by the
rebels lying in his cradle, and one of them actually seized the child by
the leg and was about to dash out his brains against the wall; but a
servant named Bryan Ferral, pretending to be even more ferocious, vowed
that a sudden death was too good for the little heretic, and that he
should be plunged up to the throat in a bog-hole and left for the crows
to pick out his eyes. He actually did place the poor child in the bog ,
but only to save his life; he returned as soon as he could elude his
comrades, put the boy into a pannier below eggs and chickens, and thus
carried him straight though the rebel camp to his mother at Dublin.
Strange to say, these rebels, who thought being dashed against the wall
too good a fate for the infant, extinguished the flames of the castle
out of reverence for the picture of his grandmother, who had been a
Roman Catholic, and was painted on a panel with a cross on her bosom and
a rosary in her hand.

John Edgeworth, the boy thus saved, married very young, and went with
his wife to see London after the Restoration. To pay their expenses they
mortgaged an estate and put the money in a stocking, which they kept on
the top of the bed; and when that store was used up, the young man
actually sold a house in Dublin to buy a high-crowned hat and feathers.
Still, reckless and improvident as they were, there was sound principle
within them, and though they were great favorites, and Charles II.
insisted on knighting the husband, their glimpse of the real evils and
temptations of his Court sufficed them, and in the full tide of flattery
and admiration the lady begged to return home, nor did she ever go back
to Court again.

Her home was at Castle Lissard, in full view of which was a hillock
called Fairymount, or Firmont, from being supposed to be the haunt of
fairies. Lights, noises, and singing at night, clearly discerned from
the castle, caused much terror to Lady Edgeworth, though her descendants
affirm that they were fairies of the same genus as those who beset Sir
John Falstaff at Hearne's oak, and intended to frighten her into leaving
the place. However, though her nerves might be disturbed, her spirit was
not to be daunted; and, fairies or no fairies, she held her ground at
Castle Lissard, and there showed what manner of woman she was in a
veritable and most fearful peril.

On some alarm which caused the gentlemen of the family to take down
their guns, she went to a dark loft at the top of the house to fetch
some powder from a barrel that was there kept in store, taking a young
maid-servant to carry the candle; which, as might be expected in an
Irish household of the seventeenth century, was devoid of any
candlestick. After taking the needful amount of gunpowder, Lady
Edgeworth locked the door, and was halfway downstairs when she missed
the candle, and asking the girl what she had done with it, received the
cool answer that 'she had left it sticking in the barrel of black salt'.
Lady Edgeworth bade her stand still, turned round, went back alone to
the loft where the tallow candle stood guttering and flaring planted in
the middle of the gunpowder, resolutely put an untrembling hand beneath
it, took it out so steadily that no spark fell, carried it down, and
when she came to the bottom of the stairs dropped on her knees, and
broke forth in a thanksgiving aloud for the safety of the household in
this frightful peril. This high-spirited lady lived to be ninety years
old, and left a numerous family. One grandson was the Abbe Edgeworth,
known in France as De Firmont, such being the alteration of Fairymount
on French lips. It was he who, at the peril of his own life, attended
Louis XVI. to the guillotine, and thus connected his name so closely
with the royal cause that when his cousin Richard Lovell Edgeworth, of
Edgeworths-town, visited France several years after, the presence of a
person so called was deemed perilous to the rising power of Napoleon.
This latter Mr. Edgeworth was the father of Maria, whose works we hope
are well known to our young readers.

The good Chevalier Bayard was wont to mourn over the introduction of
firearms, as destructive of chivalry; and certainly the steel-clad
knight, with barbed steed, and sword and lance, has disappeared from the
battle-field; but his most essential qualities, truth, honor,
faithfulness, mercy, and self-devotion, have not disappeared with him,
nor can they as long as Christian men and women bear in mind that
'greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his
friend'.

And that terrible compound, gunpowder, has been the occasion of many
another daring deed, requiring desperate resolution, to save others at
the expense of a death perhaps more frightful to the imagination than
any other. Listen to a story of the King's birthday in Jersey 'sixty
years since'--in 1804, when that 4th of June that Eton boys delight in,
was already in the forty-fourth year of its observance in honor of the
then reigning monarch, George III.

All the forts in the island had done due honor to the birthday of His
Majesty, who was then just recovered from an attack of insanity. In each
the guns at noon-day thundered out their royal salute, the flashes had
answered one another, and the smoke had wreathed itself away over the
blue sea of Jersey. The new fort on the hill just above the town of St.
Heliers had contributed its share to the loyal thunders, and then it was
shut up, and the keys carried away by Captain Salmon, the artillery
officer on guard there, locking up therein 209 barrels of gunpowder,
with a large supply of bombshells, and every kind of ammunition such as
might well be needed in the Channel islands the year before Lord Nelson
had freed England from the chance of finding the whole French army on
our coast in the flat-bottomed boats that were waiting at Boulogne for
the dark night that never came.

At six o'clock in the evening, Captain Salmon went to dine with the
other officers in St. Heliers and to drink the King's health, when the
soldiers on guard beheld a cloud of smoke curling out at the air-hole at
the end of the magazine. Shouting 'fire', they ran away to avoid an
explosion that would have shattered them to pieces, and might perhaps
endanger the entire town of St. Heliers. Happily their shout was heard
by a man of different mould. Lieutenant Lys, the signal officer, was in
the watch-house on the hill, and coming out he saw the smoke, and
perceived the danger. Two brothers, named Thomas and Edward Touzel,
carpenters, and the sons of an old widow, had come up to take down a
flagstaff that had been raised in honor of the day, and Mr. Lys ordered
them to hasten to the town to inform the commander-in-chief, and get the
keys from Captain Salmon.

Thomas went, and endeavored to persuade his brother to accompany him
from the heart of the danger; but Edward replied that he must die some
day or other, and that he would do his best to save the magazine, and he
tried to stop some of the runaway soldiers to assist. One refused; but
another, William Ponteney, of the 3rd, replied that he was ready to die
with him, and they shook hands.

Edward Touzel then, by the help of a wooden bar and an axe, broke open
the door of the fort, and making his way into it, saw the state of the
case, and shouted to Mr. Lys on the outside, 'the magazine is on fire,
it will blow up, we must lose our lives; but no matter, huzza for the
King! We must try and save it.' He then rushed into the flame, and
seizing the matches, which were almost burnt out (probably splinters of
wood tipped with brimstone), he threw them by armfuls to Mr. Lys and the
soldier Ponteney, who stood outside and received them. Mr. Lys saw a
cask of water near at hand; but there was nothing to carry the water in
but an earthen pitcher, his own hat and the soldier's. These, however,
they filled again and again, and handed to Touzel, who thus extinguished
all the fire he could see; but the smoke was so dense, that he worked in
horrible doubt and obscurity, almost suffocated, and with his face and
hands already scorched. The beams over his head were on fire, large
cases containing powder horns had already caught, and an open barrel of
gunpowder was close by, only awaiting the fall of a single brand to
burst into a fatal explosion. Touzel called out to entreat for some
drink to enable him to endure the stifling, and Mr. Lys handed him some
spirits-and-water, which he drank, and worked on; but by this time the
officers had heard the alarm, dispelled the panic among the soldiers,
and come to the rescue. The magazine was completely emptied, and the
last smoldering sparks extinguished; but the whole of the garrison and
citizens felt that they owed their lives to the three gallant men to
whose exertions alone under Providence, it was owing that succor did not
come too late. Most of all was honor due to Edward Touzel, who, as a
civilian, might have turned his back upon the peril without any blame;
nay, could even have pleaded Mr. Lys' message as a duty, but who had
instead rushed foremost into what he believe was certain death.

A meeting was held in the church of St. Heliers to consider of a
testimonial of gratitude to these three brave men (it is to be hoped
that thankfulness to an overruling Providence was also manifested
there), when 500l. was voted to Mr. Lys, who was the father of a large
family; 300l. to Edward Touzel; and William Ponteney received, at his
own request, a life annuity of 20l. and a gold medal, as he declared
that he had rather continue to serve the King as a soldier than be
placed in any other course of life.

In that same year (1804) the same daring endurance and heroism were
evinced by the officers of H.M.S. Hindostan, where, when on the way from
Gibraltar to join Nelson's fleet at Toulon, the cry of 'Fire!' was
heard, and dense smoke rose from the lower decks, so as to render it
nearly impossible to detect the situation of the fire. Again and again
Lieutenants Tailour and Banks descended, and fell down senseless from
the stifling smoke; then were carried on deck, recovered in the free
air, and returned to vain endeavor of clearing the powder-room. But no
man could long preserve his faculties in the poisonous atmosphere, and
the two lieutenants might be said to have many deaths from it. At last
the fire gained so much head, that it was impossible to save the vessel,
which had in the meantime been brought into the Bay of Rosas, and was
near enough to land to enable the crew to escape in boats, after having
endured the fire six hours. Nelson himself wrote: 'The preservation of
the crew seems little short of a miracle. I never read such a journal of
exertions in my life.'

Eight years after, on the taking of Ciudad Rodrigo, in 1812, by the
British army under Wellington, Captain William Jones, of the 52nd
Regiment, having captured a French officer, employed his prisoner in
pointing out quarters for his men. The Frenchman could not speak
English, and Captain Jones--a fiery Welshman, whom it was the fashion in
the regiment to term 'Jack Jones'--knew no French; but dumb show
supplied the want of language, and some of the company were lodged in a
large store pointed out by the Frenchman, who then led the way to a
church, near which Lord Wellington and his staff were standing. But no
sooner had the guide stepped into the building than he started back,
crying, 'Sacre bleu!' and ran out in the utmost alarm. The Welsh
captain, however, went on, and perceived that the church had been used
as a powder-magazine by the French; barrels were standing round, samples
of their contents lay loosely scattered on the pavement, and in the
midst was a fire, probably lighted by some Portuguese soldiers.
Forthwith Captain Jones and the sergeant entered the church, took up the
burning embers brand by brand, bore them safe over the scattered powder,
and out of the church, and thus averted what might have been the most
terrific disaster that could have befallen our army. [Footnote: The
story has been told with some variation, as to whether it was the embers
or a barrel of powder that he and the sergeant removed.  In the Record
of the 52d it is said to have been the latter; but the tradition the
author has received from officers of the regiment distinctly stated that
it was the burning brands, and that the scene was a reserve magazine--
not, as in the brief mention in Sir William Napier's History, the great
magazine of the town.]

Our next story of this kind relates to a French officer, Monsieur
Mathieu Martinel, adjutant of the 1st Cuirassiers. In 1820 there was a
fire in the barracks at Strasburg, and nine soldiers were lying sick and
helpless above a room containing a barrel of gunpowder and a thousand
cartridges. Everyone was escaping, but Martinel persuaded a few men to
return into the barracks with him, and hurried up the stairs through
smoke and flame that turned back his companions. He came alone to the
door of a room close to that which contained the powder, but found it
locked. Catching up a bench, he beat the door in, and was met by such a
burst of fire as had almost driven him away; but, just as he was about
to descend, he thought that, when the flames reached the powder, the
nine sick men must infallibly be blown up, and returning to the charge,
he dashed forward, with eyes shut, through the midst, and with face,
hands, hair, and clothes singed and burnt, he made his way to the
magazine, in time to tear away, and throw to a distance from the powder,
the mass of paper in which the cartridges were packed, which was just
about to ignite, and appearing at the window, with loud shouts for
water, thus showed the possibility of penetrating to the magazine, and
floods of water were at once directed to it, so as to drench the powder,
and thus save the men.

This same Martinel had shortly before thrown himself into the River Ill,
without waiting to undress, to rescue a soldier who had fallen in, so
near a water mill, that there was hardly a chance of life for either.
Swimming straight towards the mill dam, Martinel grasped the post of the
sluice with one arm, and with the other tried to arrest the course of
the drowning man, who was borne by a rapid current towards the mill
wheel; and was already so far beneath the surface, that Martinel could
not reach him without letting go of the post. Grasping the inanimate
body, he actually allowed himself to be carried under the mill wheel,
without loosing his hold, and came up immediately after on the other
side, still able to bring the man to land, in time for his suspended
animation to be restored.

Seventeen years afterwards, when the regiment was at Paris, there was,
on the night of the 14th of June, 1837, during the illuminations at the
wedding festival of the Duke and Duchess of Orleans, one of those
frightful crushes that sometimes occur in an ill-regulated crowd, when
there is some obstruction in the way, and there is nothing but a
horrible blind struggling and trampling, violent and fatal because of
its very helplessness and bewilderment. The crowd were trying to leave
the Champ de Mars, where great numbers had been witnessing some
magnificent fireworks, and had blocked up the passage leading out by the
Military College. A woman fell down in a fainting fit, others stumbled
over her, and thus formed an obstruction, which, being unknown to those
in the rear, did not prevent them from forcing forward the persons in
front, so that they too were pushed and trodden down into one frightful,
struggling, suffocating mass of living and dying men, women, and
children, increasing every moment.

M. Martinel was passing, on his way to his quarters, when, hearing the
tumult, he ran to the gate from the other side, and meeting the crowd
tried by shouts and entreaties to persuade them to give back, but the
hindmost could not hear him, and the more frightened they grew, the more
they tried to hurry home, and so made the heap worse and worse, and in
the midst an illuminated yew-tree, in a pot, was upset, and further
barred the way. Martinel, with imminent danger to himself, dragged out
one or two persons; but finding his single efforts almost useless among
such numbers, he ran to the barracks, sounded to horse, and without
waiting till his men could be got together, hurried off again on foot,
with a few of his comrades, and dashed back into the crowd, struggling
as vehemently to penetrate to the scene of danger, as many would have
done to get away from it.

Private Spenlee alone kept up with him, and, coming to the dreadful
heap, these two labored to free the passage, lift up the living, and
remove the dead. First he dragged out an old man in a fainting fit, then
a young soldier, next a boy, a woman, a little girl--he carried them to
freer air, and came back the next moment, though often so nearly pulled
down by the frantic struggles of the terrified stifled creatures, that
he was each moment in the utmost peril of being trampled to death. He
carried out nine persons one by one; Spenlee brought out a man and a
child; and his brother officers, coming up, took their share. One
lieutenant, with a girl in a swoon in his arms, caused a boy to be put
on his back, and under this double burthen was pushing against the crowd
for half and hour, till at length he fell, and was all but killed.

A troop of cuirassiers had by this time mounted, and through the Champ
de Mars came slowly along, step by step, their horses moving as gently
and cautiously as if they knew their work. Everywhere, as they advanced,
little children were held up to them out of the throng to be saved, and
many of their chargers were loaded with the little creatures, perched
before and behind the kind soldiers. With wonderful patience and
forbearance, they managed to insert themselves and their horses, first
in single file, then two by two, then more abreast, like a wedge, into
the press, until at last they formed a wall, cutting off the crowd
behind from the mass in the gateway, and thus preventing the encumbrance
from increasing. The people came to their senses, and went off to other
gates, and the crowd diminishing, it became possible to lift up the many
unhappy creatures, who lay stifling or crushed in the heap. They were
carried into the barracks, the cuirassiers hurried to bring their
mattresses to lay them on in the hall, brought them water, linen, all
they could want, and were as tender to them as sisters of charity, till
they were taken to the hospitals or to their homes. Martinel, who was
the moving spirit in this gallant rescue, received in the following year
one of M. Monthyon's prizes for the greatest acts of virtue that could
be brought to light.

Nor among the gallant actions of which powder has been the cause should
be omitted that of Lieutenant Willoughby, who, in the first dismay of
the mutiny in India, in 1858, blew up the great magazine at Delhi, with
all the ammunition that would have armed the sepoys even yet more
terribly against ourselves. The 'Golden Deed' was one of those capable
of no earthly meed, for it carried the brave young officer where alone
there is true reward; and all the Queen and country could do in his
honor was to pension his widowed mother, and lay up his name among those
that stir the heart with admiration and gratitude.




HEROES OF THE PLAGUE

1576--1665--1721



When our Litany entreats that we may be delivered from 'plague,
pestilence, and famine', the first of these words bears a special
meaning, which came home with strong and painful force to European minds
at the time the Prayer Book was translated, and for the whole following
century.

It refers to the deadly sickness emphatically called 'the plague', a
typhoid fever exceedingly violent and rapid, and accompanied with a
frightful swelling either under the arm or on the corresponding part of
the thigh. The East is the usual haunt of this fatal complaint, which
some suppose to be bred by the marshy, unwholesome state of Egypt after
the subsidence of the waters of the Nile, and which generally prevails
in Egypt and Syria until its course is checked either by the cold of
winter or the heat in summer. At times this disease has become unusually
malignant and infectious, and then has come beyond its usual boundaries
and made its way over all the West. These dreadful visitations were
rendered more frequent by total disregard of all precautions, and
ignorance of laws for preserving health. People crowded together in
towns without means of obtaining sufficient air or cleanliness, and thus
were sure to be unhealthy; and whenever war or famine had occasioned
more than usual poverty, some frightful epidemic was sure to follow in
its train, and sweep away the poor creatures whose frames were already
weakened by previous privation. And often this 'sore judgment' was that
emphatically called the plague; and especially during the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries, a time when war had become far more cruel and
mischievous in the hands of hired regiments than ever it had been with a
feudal army, and when at the same time increasing trade was filling the
cities with more closely packed inhabitants, within fortifications that
would not allow the city to expand in proportion to its needs. It has
been only the establishment of the system of quarantine which has
succeeded in cutting off the course of infection by which the plague was
wont to set out on its frightful travels from land to land, from city to
city.

The desolation of a plague-stricken city was a sort of horrible dream.
Every infected house was marked with a red cross, and carefully closed
against all persons, except those who were charged to drive carts
through the streets to collect the corpses, ringing a bell as they went.
These men were generally wretched beings, the lowest and most reckless
of the people, who undertook their frightful task for the sake of the
plunder of the desolate houses, and wound themselves up by intoxicating
drinks to endure the horrors. The bodies were thrown into large
trenches, without prayer or funeral rites, and these were hastily closed
up. Whole families died together, untended save by one another, with no
aid of a friendly hand to give drink or food; and, in the Roman Catholic
cities, the perishing without a priest to administer the last rites of
the Church was viewed as more dreadful than death itself.

Such visitations as these did indeed prove whether the pastors of the
afflicted flock were shepherds or hirelings. So felt, in 1576, Cardinal
Carlo Borromeo, Archbishop of Milan, the worthiest of all the successors
of St. Ambrose, when he learnt at Lodi that the plague had made its
appearance in his city, where, remarkably enough, there had lately been
such licentious revelry that he had solemnly warned the people that,
unless they repented, they would certainly bring on themselves the wrath
of heaven. His council of clergy advised him to remain in some healthy
part of his diocese till the sickness should have spent itself, but he
replied that a Bishop, whose duty it is to give his life for his sheep,
could not rightly abandon them in time of peril. They owned that to
stand by them was the higher course. 'Well,' he said, 'is it not a
Bishop's duty to choose the higher course?'

So back into the town of deadly sickness he went, leading the people to
repent, and watching over them in their sufferings, visiting the
hospitals, and, by his own example, encouraging his clergy in carrying
spiritual consolation to the dying. All the time the plague lasted,
which was four months, his exertions were fearless and unwearied, and
what was remarkable was, that of his whole household only two died, and
they were persons who had not been called to go about among the sick.
Indeed, some of the rich who had repaired to a villa, where they spent
their time in feasting and amusement in the luxurious Italian fashion,
were there followed by the pestilence, and all perished; their dainty
fare and the excess in which they indulged having no doubt been as bad a
preparation as the poverty of the starving people in the city.

The strict and regular life of the Cardinal and his clergy, and their
home in the spacious palace, were, no doubt, under Providence, a
preservative; but, in the opinions of the time, there was little short
of a miracle in the safety of one who daily preached in the cathedral,--
bent over the beds of the sick, giving them food and medicine, hearing
their confessions, and administering the last rites of the Church,--and
then braving the contagion after death, rather than let the corpses go
forth unblest to their common grave. Nay, so far was he from seeking to
save his own life, that, kneeling before the altar in the cathedral, he
solemnly offered himself, like Moses, as a sacrifice for his people.
But, like Moses, the sacrifice was passed by--'it cost more to redeem
their souls'--and Borromeo remained untouched, as did the twenty-eight
priests who voluntarily offered themselves to join in his labors.

No wonder that the chief memories that haunt the glorious white marble
cathedral of Milan are those of St. Ambrose, who taught mercy to an
emperor, and of St. Carlo Borromeo, who practiced mercy on a people.

It was a hundred years later that the greatest and last visitation of
the plague took place in London. Doubtless the scourge called forth--as
in Christian lands such judgments always do--many an act of true and
blessed self-devotion; but these are not recorded, save where they have
their reward: and the tale now to be told is of one of the small
villages to which the infection spread--namely, Eyam, in Derbyshire.

This is a lovely place between Buxton and Chatsworth, perched high on a
hillside, and shut in by another higher mountain--extremely beautiful,
but exactly one of those that, for want of free air, always become the
especial prey of infection. At that time lead works were in operation in
the mountains, and the village was thickly inhabited. Great was the
dismay of the villagers when the family of a tailor, who had received
some patterns of cloth from London, showed symptoms of the plague in its
most virulent form, sickening and dying in one day.

The rector of the parish, the Rev. William Mompesson, was still a young
man, and had been married only a few years. His wife, a beautiful young
woman, only twenty-seven years old, was exceedingly terrified at the
tidings from the village, and wept bitterly as she implored her husband
to take her, and her little George and Elizabeth, who were three and
fours years old, away to some place of safety. But Mr. Mompesson gravely
showed her that it was his duty not to forsake his flock in their hour
of need, and began at once to make arrangements for sending her and the
children away. She saw he was right in remaining, and ceased to urge him
to forsake his charge; but she insisted that if he ought not to desert
his flock, his wife ought not to leave him; and she wept and entreated
so earnestly, that he at length consented that she should be with him,
and that only the two little ones should be removed while yet there was
time.

Their father and mother parted with the little ones as treasures that
they might never see again. At the same time Mr. Mompesson wrote to
London for the most approved medicines and prescriptions; and he
likewise sent a letter to the Earl of Devonshire, at Chatsworth, to
engage that his parishioners should exclude themselves from the whole
neighborhood, and thus confine the contagion within their own
boundaries, provided the Earl would undertake that food, medicines, and
other necessaries, should be placed at certain appointed spots, at
regular times, upon the hills around, where the Eyamites might come,
leave payment for them, and take them up, without holding any
communication with the bringers, except by letters, which could be
placed on a stone, and then fumigated, or passed through vinegar, before
they were touched with the hand. To this the Earl consented, and for
seven whole months the engagement was kept.

Mr. Mompesson represented to his people that, with the plague once among
them, it would be so unlikely that they should not carry infection about
with them, that it would be selfish cruelty to other places to try to
escape amongst them, and thus spread the danger. So rocky and wild was
the ground around them, that, had they striven to escape, a regiment of
soldiers could not have prevented them. But of their own free will they
attended to their rector's remonstrance, and it was not known that one
parishoner of Eyam passed the boundary all that time, nor was there a
single case of plague in any of the villages around.

The assembling of large congregations in churches had been thought to
increase the infection in London, and Mr. Mompesson, therefore, thought
it best to hold his services out-of-doors. In the middle of the village
is a dell, suddenly making a cleft in the mountain-side, only five yards
wide at the bottom, which is the pebble bed of a wintry torrent, but is
dry in the summer. On the side towards the village, the slope upwards
was of soft green turf, scattered with hazel, rowan, and alder bushes,
and full of singing birds. On the other side, the ascent was nearly
perpendicular, and composed of sharp rocks, partly adorned with bushes
and ivy, and here and there rising up in fantastic peaks and archways,
through which the sky could be seen from below. One of these rocks was
hollow, and could be entered from above--a natural gallery, leading to
an archway opening over the precipice; and this Mr. Mompesson chose for
his reading-desk and pulpit. The dell was so narrow, that his voice
could clearly be heard across it, and his congregation arranged
themselves upon the green slop opposite, seated or kneeling upon the
grass.

On Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays arose the earnest voice of prayer
from that rocky glen, the people's response meeting the pastor's voice;
and twice on Sundays he preached to them the words of life and hope. It
was a dry, hot summer; fain would they have seen thunder and rain to
drive away their enemy; and seldom did weather break in on the
regularity of these service. But there was another service that the
rector had daily to perform; not in his churchyard--that would have
perpetuated the infection--but on a healthy hill above the village.
There he daily read of 'the Resurrection and the Life', and week by week
the company on the grassy slope grew fewer and scantier. His
congregation were passing from the dell to the healthy mound.

Day and night the rector and his wife were among the sick, nursing,
feeding, and tending them with all that care and skill could do; but, in
spite of all their endeavors, only a fifth part of the whole of their
inhabitants lived to spend the last Sunday in Cucklet Church, as the
dell is still called. Mrs. Mompesson had persuaded her husband to have a
wound made in his leg, fancying that this would lessen the danger of
infection, and he yielded in order to satisfy her. His health endured
perfectly, but she began to waste under her constant exertions, and her
husband feared that he saw symptoms of consumption; but she was full of
delight at some appearances in his wound that made her imagine that it
had carried off the disease, and that his danger was over.

A few days after, she sickened with symptoms of the plague, and her
frame was so weakened that she sank very quickly. She was often
delirious; but when she was too much exhausted to endure the exertion of
taking cordials, her husband entreated her to try for their children's
sake, she lifted herself up and made the endeavor. She lay peacefully,
saying, 'she was but looking for the good hour to come', and calmly
died, making the responses to her husband's prayers even to the last.
Her he buried in the churchyard, and fenced the grave in afterwards with
iron rails. There are two beautiful letters from him written on her
death--one to his little children, to be kept and read when they would
be old enough to understand it; the other to his patron, Sir George
Saville, afterwards Lord Halifax. 'My drooping spirits', he says, 'are
much refreshed with her joys, which I assure myself are unutterable.' He
wrote both these letters in the belief that he should soon follow her,
speaking of himself to Sir George as 'his dying chaplain', commending to
him his 'distressed orphans', and begging that a 'humble pious man'
might be chosen to succeed him in his parsonage. 'Sire, I thank God that
I am willing to shake hands in peace with all the world; and I have
comfortable assurance that He will accept me for the sake of His Son,
and I find God more good than ever I imagined, and wish that his
goodness were not so much abused and contemned', writes the widowed
pastor, left alone among his dying flock. And he concludes, 'and with
tears I entreat that when you are praying for fatherless and motherless
infants, you would then remember my two pretty babes'.

These two letters were written on the last day of August and first of
September, 1666; but on the 20th of November, Mr. Mompesson was writing
to his uncle, in the lull after the storm. 'The condition of this place
hath been so dreadful, that I persuade myself it exceedeth all history
and example. I may truly say our town has become a Golgotha, a place of
skulls; and had there not been a small remnant of us left, we had been
as Sodom, and like unto Gomorrah. My ears never heard such doleful
lamentations, my nose never smelt such noisome smells, and my eyes never
beheld such ghastly spectacles. Here have been seventy-six families
visited within my parish, out of which died 259 persons.'

However, since the 11th of October there had been no fresh cases, and he
was now burning all woolen cloths, lest the infection should linger in
them. He himself had never been touched by the complaint, nor had his
maid-servant; his man had had it but slightly. Mr. Mompesson lived many
more years, was offered the Deanery of Lincoln, but did not accept it,
and died in 1708. So virulent was the contagion that, ninety-one years
after, in 1757, when five laboring men, who were digging up land near
the plague- graves for a potato-garden, came upon what appeared to be
some linen, though they buried it again directly, they all sickened with
typhus fever, three of them died, and it was so infectious that no less
than seventy persons in the parish were carried off.

The last of these remarkable visitations of the plague, properly so
called, was at Marseilles, in 1721. It was supposed to have been brought
by a vessel which sailed from Seyde, in the bay of Tunis, on the 31st of
January, 1720, which had a clean bill of health when it anchored off the
Chateau d'If, at Marseilles, on the 25th of May; but six of the crew
were found to have died on the voyage, and the persons who handled the
freight also died, though, it was said, without any symptoms of the
plague, and the first cases were supposed to be of the fevers caused by
excessive poverty and crowding. The unmistakable Oriental plague,
however, soon began to spread in the city among the poorer population,
and in truth the wars and heavy expenses of Louis XIV. had made poverty
in France more wretched than ever before, and the whole country was like
one deadly sore, festering, and by and by to come to a fearful crisis.
Precautions were taken, the infected families were removed to the
infirmaries and their houses walled up, but all this was done at night
in order not to excite alarm. The mystery, however, made things more
terrible to the imagination, and this was a period of the utmost
selfishness. All the richer inhabitants who had means of quitting the
city, and who were the very people who could have been useful there,
fled with one accord. Suddenly the lazaretto was left without
superintendents, the hospitals without stewards; the judges, public
officers, notaries, and most of the superior workmen in the most
necessary trades were all gone. Only the Provost and four municipal
officers remained, with 1,100 livres in their treasury, in the midst of
an entirely disorganized city, and an enormous population without work,
without restraint, without food, and a prey to the deadliest of
diseases.

The Parliament which still survived in the ancient kingdom of Provence
signalized itself by retreating to a distance, and on the 31st of May
putting out a decree that nobody should pass a boundary line round
Marseilles on pain of death; but considering what people were trying to
escape from, and the utter overthrow of all rule and order, this penalty
was not likely to have much effect, and the plague was carried by the
fugitives to Arles, Aix, Toulon, and sixty-three lesser towns and
villages. What a contrast to Mr. Mompesson's moral influence!

Horrible crimes were committed. Malefactors were released from the
prisons and convicts from the galleys, and employed for large payment to
collect the corpses and carry the sick to the infirmaries. Of course
they could only be wrought up to such work by intoxication and unlimited
opportunities of plunder, and their rude treatment both of the dead and
of the living sufferers added unspeakably to the general wretchedness.
To be carried to the infirmary was certain death,--no one lived in that
heap of contagion; and even this shelter was not always to be had,--some
of the streets were full of dying creatures who had been turned out of
their houses and could crawl no farther.

What was done to alleviate all these horrors? It was in the minority of
Louis XV., and the Regent Duke of Orleans, easy, good-natured man that
he was, sent 22,000 marks to the relief of the city, all in silver, for
paper money was found to spread the infection more than anything else.
He also sent a great quantity of corn, and likewise doctors for the
sick, and troops to shut in the infected district. The Pope, Clement
XI., sent spiritual blessings to the sufferers, and, moreover, three
shiploads of wheat. The Regent's Prime Minister, the Abbe Dubois, the
shame of his Church and country, fancied that to send these supplies
cast a slight upon his administration, and desired his representative at
Rome to prevent the sailing of the ships, but his orders were not, for
very shame, carried out, and the vessels set out. On their way they were
seized by a Moorish corsair, who was more merciful than Dubois, for he
no sooner learnt their destination than he let them go unplundered.

And in the midst of the misery there were bright lights 'running to and
fro among the stubble'. The Provost and his five remaining officers, and
a gentleman call Le Chevalier Rose, did their utmost in the bravest and
most unselfish way to help the sufferers, distribute food, provide
shelter, restrain the horrors perpetrated by the sick in their ravings,
and provide for the burial of the dead. And the clergy were all devoted
to the task of mercy. There was only one convent, that of St. Victor,
where the gates were closed against all comers in the hope of shutting
out infection. Every other monastic establishment freely devoted itself.
It was a time when party spirit ran high. The bishop, Henri Francois
Xavier de Belzunce, a nephew of the Duke de Lauzun, was a strong and
rigid Jesuit, and had joined so hotly in the persecution of the
Jansenists that he had forbidden the brotherhood called Oratorian
fathers to hear confessions, because he suspected them of a leaning to
Jansenist opinions; but he and they both alike worked earnestly in the
one cause of mercy. They were content to obey his prejudiced edict,
since he was in lawful authority, and threw themselves heartily into the
lower and more disdained services to the sick, as nurses and tenders of
the body alone, not of the soul, and in this work their whole community,
Superior and all, perished, almost without exception. Perhaps these men,
thus laying aside hurt feeling and sense of injustice, were the greatest
conquerors of all whose golden deeds we have described.

Bishop Belzunce himself, however, stands as the prominent figure in the
memory of those dreadful five months. He was a man of commanding
stature, towering above all around him, and his fervent sermons, aided
by his example of severe and strict piety, and his great charities, had
greatly impressed the people. He now went about among the plague-
stricken, attending to their wants, both spiritual and temporal, and
sold or mortgaged all his property to obtain relief for them, and he
actually went himself in the tumbrils of corpses to give them the rites
of Christian burial. His doings closely resembled those of Cardinal
Borromeo, and like him he had recourse to constant preaching of
repentance, processions and assemblies for litanies in the church. It is
curiously characteristic that it was the English clergyman, who, equally
pious, and sensible that only the Almighty could remove the scourge, yet
deemed it right to take precautions against the effects of bringing a
large number of persons into one building. How Belzunce's clergy
seconded him may be gathered from the numbers who died of the disease.
Besides the Oratorians, there died eighteen Jesuits, twenty-six of the
order called Recollets, and forty-three Capuchins, all of whom had
freely given their lives in the endeavor to alleviate the general
suffering. In the four chief towns of Provence 80,000 died, and about
8,000 in the lesser places. The winter finally checked the destroyer,
and then, sad to say, it appeared how little effect the warning had had
on the survivors. Inheritances had fallen together into the hands of
persons who found themselves rich beyond their expectations, and in the
glee of having escaped the danger, forgot to be thankful, and spent
their wealth in revelry. Never had the cities of Provence been so full
of wild, questionable mirth as during the ensuing winter, and it was
remarked that the places which had suffered most severely were the most
given up to thoughtless gaiety, and even licentiousness.

Good Bishop Belzunce did his best to protest against the wickedness
around him, and refused to leave his flock at Marseilles, when, four
years after, a far more distinguished see was offered to him. He died in
1755, in time to escape the sight of the retribution that was soon
worked out on the folly and vice of the unhappy country.




THE SECOND OF SEPTEMBER

1792



The reign of the terrible Tzar was dreadful, but there was even a more
dreadful time, that which might be called the reign of the madness of
the people. The oppression and injustice that had for generations past
been worked out in France ended in the most fearful reaction that
history records, and the horrors that took place in the Revolution pass
all thought or description. Every institution that had been misused was
overthrown at one fell swoop, and the whole accumulated vengeance of
generations fell on the heads of the persons who occupied the positions
of the former oppressors. Many of these were as pure and guiltless as
their slaughterers were the reverse, but the heads of the Revolution
imagined that to obtain their ideal vision of perfect justice and
liberty, all the remnants of the former state of things must be swept
away, and the ferocious beings who carried out their decrees had become
absolutely frantic with delight in bloodshed. The nation seemed
delivered up to a delirium of murder. But as


'Even as earth's wild war cries heighten,
The cross upon the brow will brighten',


These times of surpassing horror were also times of surpassing devotion
and heroism. Without attempting to describe the various stages of the
Revolution, and the different committees that under different titles
carried on the work of destruction, we will mention some of the deeds
that shine out as we look into that abyss of horror, the Paris of 1792
and the following years.

Think of the Swiss Guards, who on the 10th of August, 1792, the
miserable day when the King, Queen, and children were made the captives
of the people, stood resolutely at their posts, till they were massacred
almost to a man. Well is their fidelity honored by the noble sculpture
near Lucerne, cut out in the living rock of their own Alps, and
representing a lion dying to defend the fleur-de-lis.

A more dreadful day still was in preparation. The mob seemed to have
imagined that the King and nobility had some strange dreadful power, and
that unless they were all annihilated they would rise up and trample all
down before them, and those who had the direction of affairs profited by
this delusion to multiply executioners, and clear away all that they
supposed to stand in the way of the renewal of the nation. And the
attempts of the emigrant nobility and of the German princes to march to
the rescue of the royal family added to the fury of their cowardly
ferocity. The prisons of Paris were crowded to overflowing with
aristocrats, as it was the fashion to call the nobles and gentry, and
with the clergy who had refused their adhesion to the new state of
things. The whole number is reckoned at not less than 8,000.

Among those at the Abbaye de St. Germain were M. Jacques Cazotte, an old
gentleman of seventy-three, who had been for many years in a government
office, and had written various poems. He was living in the country, in
Champagne, when on the 18th of August he was arrested. His daughter
Elizabeth, a lovely girl of twenty, would not leave him, and together
they were taken first to Epernay and then to Paris, where they were
thrown into the Abbaye, and found it crowded with prisoners. M.
Cazotte's bald forehead and grey looks gave him a patriarchal
appearance, and his talk, deeply and truly pious, was full of Scripture
language, as he strove to persuade his fellow captives to own the true
blessings of suffering.

Here Elizabeth met the like-minded Marie de Sombreuil, who had clung to
her father, Charles Viscount de Sombreuil, the Governor of the
Invalides, or pensioners of the French army; and here, too, had Madame
de Fausse Lendry come with her old uncle the Abbé de Rastignac, who had
been for three months extremely ill, and was only just recovering when
dragged to the prison, and there placed in a room so crowded that it was
not possible to turn round, and the air in the end of August was
fearfully close and heated. Not once while there was the poor old man
able to sleep. His niece spent the nights in a room belonging to the
jailer, with the Princess de Tarente, and Mademoiselle de Sombreuil.

On the 2nd of September these slaughter-houses were as full as they
could hold, and about a hundred ruffians, armed with axes and guns, were
sent round to all the jails to do the bloody work. It was a Sunday, and
some of the victims had tried to observe it religiously, though little
divining that, it was to be their last. They first took alarm on
perceiving that their jailer had removed his family, and then that he
sent up their dinner earlier than usual, and removed all the knives and
forks. By and by howls and shouts were heard, and the tocsin was heard,
ringing, alarm guns firing, and reports came in to the prisoners of the
Abbaye that the populace were breaking into the prisons.

The clergy were all penned up together in the cloisters of the Abbaye,
whither they had been brought in carriages that morning. Among them was
the Abbé Sicard, an admirable priest who had spent his whole lifetime in
instructing the deaf and dumb in his own house, where--


      'The cunning finger finely twined
The subtle thread that knitteth mind to mind;
There that strange bridge of signs was built where roll
The sunless waves that sever soul from soul,
And by the arch, no bigger than a hand,
Truth travell'd over to the silent land'.


He had been arrested, while teaching his pupils, on the 26th of August,
1792, and shut up among other clergy in the prison of the Mayoralty; but
the lads whom he had educated came in a body to ask leave to claim him
at the bar of the National Assembly. Massieu, his best scholar, had
drawn up a most touching address, saying, that in him the deaf and dumb
were deprived of their teacher, nurse, and father. 'It is he who has
taught us what we know, without him we should be as the beasts of the
field.' This petition, and the gestures of the poor silent beings, went
to the heart of the National Assembly. One young man, named Duhamel,
neither deaf nor dumb, from pure admiration of the good work, went and
offered to be imprisoned in the Abbé's place. There was great applause,
and a decree was passed that the cause of the arrest should be enquired
into, but this took no effect, and on that dreadful afternoon, M. Sicard
was put into one of a procession of carriages, which drove slowly
through the streets full of priests, who were reviled, pelted, and
wounded by the populace till they reached the Abbaye.

In the turnkey's rooms sat a horrible committee, who acted as a sort of
tribunal, but very few of the priests reached it. They were for the most
part cut down as they stepped out into the throng in the court---
consisting of red-capped ruffians, with their shirt sleeves turned up,
and still more fiendish women, who hounded them on to the butchery, and
brought them wine and food. Sicard and another priest contrived, while
their companions fell, to rush into the committee room, exclaiming,
'Messieurs, preserve an unfortunate!'

'Go along!' they said, 'do you wish us to get ourselves massacred?'

But one, recognizing him, was surprised, knowing that his life was to be
spared, and took him into the room, promising to save him as long as
possible. Here the two priests would have been safe but for a wretched
woman, who shrieked out to the murderers that they had been admitted,
and loud knocks and demands for them came from without. Sicard thought
all lost, and taking out his watch, begged one of the committee to give
it to the first deaf mute who should come and ask for him, sure that it
would be the faithful Massieu. At first the man replied that the danger
was not imminent enough; but on hearing a more furious noise at the
door, as if the mob were going to break in, he took the watch; and
Sicard, falling on his knees, commended his soul to God, and embraced
his brother priest.

In rushed the assassins, they paused for a moment, unable to distinguish
the priests from the committee, but the two pikemen found them out, and
his companion was instantly murdered. The weapons were lifted against
Sicard, when a man pushed through the crowd, and throwing himself before
the pike, displayed his breast and cried, 'Behold the bosom through
which you must pass to reach that of this good citizen. You do not know
him. He is the Abbé Sicard, one of the most benevolent of men, the most
useful to his country, the father of the deaf and dumb!'

The murderer dropped his pike; but Sicard, perceiving that it was the
populace who were the real dispensers of life or death, sprang to the
window, and shouted, 'Friends, behold an innocent man. Am I to die
without being heard?'

'You were among the rest,' the mob shouted, 'therefore you are as bad as
the others.'

But when he told his name, the cry changed. 'He is the father of the
deaf and dumb! he is too useful to perish; his life is spent in doing
good; he must be saved.' And the murderers behind took him up in their
arms, and carried him out into the court, where he was obliged to submit
to be embraced by the whole gang of ruffians, who wanted to carry him
home in triumph; but he did not choose to go without being legally
released, and returning into the committee room, he learnt for the first
time the name of his preserver, one Monnot, a watchmaker, who, though
knowing him only by character, and learning that he was among the clergy
who were being driven to the slaughter, had rushed in to save him.

Sicard remained in the committee room while further horrors were
perpetrated all round, and at night was taken to the little room called
Le Violon, with two other prisoners. A horrible night ensued; the
murders on the outside varied with drinking and dancing; and at three
o'clock the murderers tried to break into Le Violon. There was a loft
far overhead, and the other two prisoners tried to persuade Sicard to
climb on their shoulders to reach it, saying that his life was more
useful than theirs. However, some fresh prey was brought in, which drew
off the attention of the murderers, and two days afterwards Sicard was
released to resume his life of charity.

At the beginning of the night, all the ladies who had accompanied their
relatives were separated from them, and put into the women's room; but
when morning came they entreated earnestly to return to them, but
Mademoiselle de Fausse Lendry was assured that her uncle was safe, and
they were told soon after that all who remained were pardoned. About
twenty-two ladies were together, and were called to leave the prison,
but the two who went first were at once butchered, and the sentry called
out to the others, 'It is a snare, go back, do not show yourselves.'
They retreated; but Marie de Sombreuil had made her way to her father,
and when he was called down into the court, she came with him. She hung
round him, beseeching the murderers to have pity on his grey hairs, and
declaring that they must strike him only through her. One of the
ruffians, touched by her resolution, called out that they should be
allowed to pass if the girl would drink to the health of the nation. The
whole court was swimming with blood, and the glass he held out to her
was full of something red. Marie would not shudder. She drank, and with
the applause of the assassins ringing in her ears, she passed with her
father over the threshold of the fatal gates, into such freedom and
safety as Paris could then afford. Never again could she see a glass of
red wine without a shudder, and it was generally believed that it was
actually a glass of blood that she had swallowed, though she always
averred that this was an exaggeration, and that it had been only her
impression before tasting it that so horrible a draught was offered to
her.

The tidings that Mademoiselle de Sombreuil had saved her father came to
encourage the rest of the ladies, and when calls were heard for
'Cazotte', Elizabeth flew out and joined her father, and in like manner
stood between him and the butchers, till her devotion made the crowd cry
'Pardon!' and one of the men employed about the prison opened a passage
for her, by which she, too, led her father away.

Madame de Fausse Lendry was not so happy. Her uncle was killed early in
the day, before she was aware that he had been sent for, but she
survived to relate the history of that most horrible night and day. The
same work was going on at all the other prisons, and chief among the
victims of La Force was the beautiful Marie Louise of Savoy, the
Princess de Lamballe, and one of the most intimate friends of the Queen.
A young widow without children, she had been the ornament of the court,
and clever learned ladies thought her frivolous, but the depth of her
nature was shown in the time of trial. Her old father-in-law had taken
her abroad with him when the danger first became apparent, but as soon
as she saw that the Queen herself was aimed at, she went immediately
back to France to comfort her and share her fate.

Since the terrible 10th of August, the friends had been separated, and
Madame de Lamballe had been in the prison of La Force. There, on the
evening of the 2nd of September, she was brought down to the tribunal,
and told to swear liberty, equality, and hatred to the King and Queen.

'I will readily swear the two former. I cannot swear the latter. It is
not in my heart.'

'Swear! If not, you are dead.'

She raised her eyes, lifted her hands, and made a step to the door.
Murderers closed her in, and pike thrusts in a few moments were the last
'stage that carried from earth to heaven' the gentle woman, who had
loved her queenly friend to the death. Little mattered it to her that
her corpse was soon torn limb from limb, and that her fair ringlets were
floating round the pike on which her head was borne past her friend's
prison window. Little matters it now even to Marie Antoinette. The worst
that the murderers could do for such as these, could only work for them
a more exceeding weight of glory.

M. Cazotte was imprisoned again on the 12th of September, and all his
daughter's efforts failed to save him. She was taken from him, and he
died on the guillotine, exclaiming, 'I die as I have lived, faithful to
my God and to my King.' And the same winter, M. de Sombreuil was also
imprisoned again. When he entered the prison with his daughter, all the
inmates rose to do her honor. In the ensuing June, after a mock trial,
her father and brother were put to death, and she remained for many
years alone with only the memory of her past days.




THE VENDEANS

1793



While the greater part of France had been falling into habits of self-
indulgence, and from thence into infidelity and revolution, there was
one district where the people had not forgotten to fear God and honor
the King.

This was in the tract surrounding the Loire, the south of which is now
called La Vendee, and was then termed the Bocage, or the Woodland. It is
full of low hills and narrow valleys, divided into small fields,
enclosed by high thick hedgerows; so that when viewed from the top of
one of the hills, the whole country appears perfectly green, excepting
near harvest-time, when small patches of golden corn catch the eye, or
where here and there a church tower peeps above the trees, in the midst
of the flat red-tiled roofs of the surrounding village. The roads are
deep lanes, often in the winter beds of streams, and in the summer
completely roofed by the thick foliage of the trees, whose branches meet
overhead.

The gentry of La Vendee, instead of idling their time at Paris, lived on
their own estates in kindly intercourse with their neighbours, and
constantly helping and befriending their tenants, visiting them at their
farms, talking over their crops and cattle, giving them advice, and
inviting them on holidays to dance in the courts of their castles, and
themselves joining in their sports. The peasants were a hardworking,
sober, and pious people, devoutly attending their churches, reverencing
their clergy, and, as well they might, loving and honoring their good
landlords.

But as the Revolution began to make its deadly progress at Paris, a
gloom spread over this happy country. The Paris mob, who could not bear
to see anyone higher in station than themselves, thirsted for noble
blood, and the gentry were driven from France, or else imprisoned and
put to death. An oath contrary to the laws of their Church was required
of the clergy, those who refused it were thrust out of their parishes,
and others placed in their room; and throughout France all the youths of
a certain age were forced to draw lots to decide who should serve in the
Republican army.

This conscription filled up the measure. The Vendeans had grieved over
the flight of their landlords, they had sheltered and hidden their
priests, and heard their ministrations in secret; but when their young
men were to be carried way from them, and made the defenders and
instruments of those who were murdering their King, overthrowing their
Church, and ruining their country, they could endure it no longer, but
in the spring of 1793, soon after the execution of Louis XVI., a rising
took place in Anjou, at the village of St. Florent, headed by a peddler
named Cathelineau, and they drove back the Blues, as they called the
revolutionary soldiers, who had come to enforce the conscription. They
begged Monsieur de Bonchamp, a gentleman in the neighborhood, to take
the command; and, willing to devote himself to the cause of his King, he
complied, saying, as he did so, 'We must not aspire to earthly rewards;
such would be beneath the purity of our motives, the holiness of our
cause. We must not even aspire to glory, for a civil war affords none.
We shall see our castles fall, we shall be proscribed, slandered,
stripped of our possessions, perhaps put to death; but let us thank God
for giving us strength to do our duty to the end.'

The next person on whom the peasants cast their eyes possessed as true
and strong a heart, though he was too young to count the cost of loyalty
with the same calm spirit of self-devotion. The Marquis de la
Rochejacquelein, one of the most excellent of the nobles of Poitou, had
already emigrated with his wife and all his family, excepting Henri, the
eldest son, who, though but eighteen years of age, had been placed in
the dangerous post of an officer in the Royal Guards. When Louis XVI.
had been obliged to dismiss these brave men, he had obtained a promise
from each officer that he would not leave France, but wait for some
chance of delivering that unhappy country. Henri had therefore remained
at Paris, until after the 10th of August, 1792, when the massacre at the
Tuileries took place, and the imprisonment of the royal family
commenced; and then every gentleman being in danger in the city, he had
come to his father's deserted castle of Durballiere in Poitou.

He was nearly twenty, tall and slender, with fair hair, an oval face,
and blue eyes, very gentle, although full of animation. He was active
and dexterous in all manly sports, especially shooting and riding; he
was a man of few words; and his manners were so shy, modest, and
retiring, that his friends used to say he was more like an Englishman
than a Frenchman.

Hearing that he was alone at Durballière, and knowing that as an officer
in the Guards, and also as being of the age liable to the conscription,
he was in danger from the Revolutionists in the neighboring towns, his
cousin, the Marquis de Lescure, sent to invite him to his strong castle
of Clisson, which was likewise situated in the Bocage. This castle
afforded a refuge to many others who were in danger--to nuns driven from
their convents, dispossessed clergy, and persons who dreaded to remain
at their homes, but who felt reassured under the shelter of the castle,
and by the character of its owner, a young man of six-and-twenty, who,
though of high and unshaken loyalty, had never concerned himself with
politics, but led a quiet and studious life, and was everywhere honored
and respected.

The winter passed in great anxiety, and when in the spring the rising at
Anjou took place, and the new government summoned all who could bear
arms to assist in quelling it, a council was held among the party at
Clisson on the steps to be taken. Henri, as the youngest, spoke first,
saying he would rather perish than fight against the peasants; nor among
the whole assembly was there one person willing to take the safer but
meaner course of deserting the cause of their King and country. 'Yes,'
said the Duchess de Donnissan, mother to the young wife of the Marquis
de Lescure, 'I see you are all of the same opinion. Better death than
dishonor. I approve your courage. It is a settled thing:' and seating
herself in her armchair, she concluded, 'Well, then, we must die.'
For some little time all remained quiet at Clisson; but at length the
order for the conscription arrived, and a few days before the time
appointed for the lots to be drawn, a boy came to the castle bringing a
note to Henri from his aunt at St. Aubin. 'Monsieur Henri,' said the
boy, 'they say you are to draw for the conscription next Sunday; but may
not your tenants rise against it in the meantime? Come with me, sir, the
whole country is longing for you, and will obey you.'

Henri instantly promised to come, but some of the ladies would have
persuaded him not to endanger himself--representing, too, that if he was
missing on the appointed day, M. de Lescure might be made responsible
for him. The Marquis, however, silenced them, saying to his cousin, 'You
are prompted by honor and duty to put yourself at the head of your
tenants. Follow out your plan, I am only grieved at not being able to go
with you; and certainly no fear of imprisonment will lead me to dissuade
you from doing your duty.'

'Well, I will come and rescue you,' said Henri, embracing him, and his
eyes glancing with a noble soldier-like expression and an eagle look.

As soon as the servants were gone to bed, he set out with a guide, with
a stick in his hand and a pair of pistols in his belt; and traveling
through the fields, over hedges and ditches, for fear of meeting with
the Blues, arrived at St. Aubin, and from thence went on to meet M. de
Bonchamp and his little army. But he found to his disappointment that
they had just been defeated, and the chieftains, believing that all was
lost, had dispersed their troops. He went to his own home, dispirited
and grieved; but no sooner did the men of St. Aubin learn the arrival of
their young lord, than they came trooping to the castle, entreating him
to place himself at their head.

In the early morning, the castle court, the fields, the village, were
thronged with stout hardy farmers and laborers, in grey coats, with
broad flapping hats, and red woolen handkerchiefs round their necks. On
their shoulders were spits, scythes, and even sticks; happy was the man
who could bring an old fowling-piece, and still more rejoiced the owner
of some powder, intended for blasting some neighboring quarry. All had
bold true hearts, ready to suffer and to die in the cause of their
Church and of their young innocent imprisoned King.

A mistrust of his own powers, a fear of ruining these brave men, crossed
the mind of the youth as he looked forth upon them, and he exclaimed,
'If my father was but here, you might trust to him. Yet by my courage I
will show myself worthy, and lead you. If I go forward, follow me: if I
draw back, kill me; if I am slain, avenge me!' They replied with shouts
of joy, and it was instantly resolved to march upon the next village,
which was occupied by the rebel troops. They gained a complete victory,
driving away the Blues, and taking two small pieces of cannon, and
immediately joined M. de Bonchamp and Cathelineau, who, encouraged by
their success, again gathered their troops and gained some further
advantages.

In the meantime, the authorities had sent to Clisson and arrested M. de
Lescure, his wife, her parents, and some of their guests, who were
conducted to Bressuire, the nearest town, and there closely guarded.
There was great danger that the Republicans would revenge their losses
upon them, but the calm dignified deportment of M. de Lescure obliged
them to respect him so much that no injury was offered to him. At last
came the joyful news that the Royalist army was approaching. The
Republican soldiers immediately quitted the town, and the inhabitants
all came to ask the protection of the prisoners, desiring to send their
goods to Clisson for security, and thinking themselves guarded by the
presence of M. and Madame de Lescure.

M. de Lescure and his cousin Bernard de Marigny mounted their horses and
rode out to meet their friends. In a quarter of an hour afterwards,
Madame de Lescure heard the shouts 'Long live the King!' and the next
minute, Henri de la Rochejacquelein hurried into the room, crying, 'I
have saved you.' The peasants marched in to the number of 20,000, and
spread themselves through the town, but in their victory they had gained
no taste for blood or plunder--they did not hurt a single inhabitant,
nor touch anything that was not their own. Madame de Lescure heard some
of them wishing for tobacco, and asked if there was none in the town.
'Oh yes, there is plenty to be sold, but we have no money;' and they
were very thankful to her for giving the small sum they required.
Monsieur de Donnissan saw two men disputing in the street, and one drew
his sword, when he interfered, saying, 'Our Lord prayed for His
murderers, and would one soldier of the Catholic army kill another?' The
two instantly embraced.

Three times a day these peasant warriors knelt at their prayers, in the
churches if they were near them, if not, in the open field, and seldom
have ever been equaled the piety, the humility, the self-devotion alike
of chiefs and of followers. The frightful cruelties committed by the
enemy were returned by mercy; though such of them as fell into the hands
of the Republicans were shot without pity, yet their prisoners were
instantly set at liberty after being made to promise not to serve
against them again, and having their hair shaved off in order that they
might be recognized.

Whenever an enterprise was resolved on, the curates gave notice to their
parishioners that the leaders would be at such a place at such a time,
upon which they crowded to the spot, and assembled around the white
standard of France with such weapons as they could muster.

The clergy then heard them confess their sins, gave them absolution, and
blessed them; then, while they set forward, returned to the churches
where their wives and children were praying for their success. They did
not fight like regular soldiers, but, creeping through the hedgerows and
coppices, burst unexpectedly upon the Blues, who, entangled in the
hollow lanes, ignorant of the country, and amazed by the suddenness of
the attack, had little power to resist. The chieftains were always
foremost in danger; above all the eager young Henri, with his eye on the
white standard, and on the blue sky, and his hand making the sign of the
cross without which he never charged the enemy, dashed on first,
fearless of peril, regardless of his life, thinking only of his duty to
his king and the protection of his followers.

It was calmness and resignation which chiefly distinguished M. de
Lescure, the Saint of Poitou, as the peasants called him from his great
piety, his even temper, and the kindness and the wonderful mercifulness
of his disposition. Though constantly at the head of his troops, leading
them into the most dangerous places, and never sparing himself, not one
man was slain by his hand, nor did he even permit a prisoner to receive
the least injury in his presence. When one of the Republicans once
presented his musket close to his breast, he quietly put it aside with
his hand, and only said, 'Take away the prisoner'. His calmness was
indeed well founded, and his trust never failed. Once when the little
army had received a considerable check, and his cousin M. de Marigny was
in despair, and throwing his pistols on the table, exclaimed, 'I fight
no longer', he took him by the arm, led him to the window, an pointing
to a troop of peasants kneeling at their evening prayers, he said, 'See
there a pledge of our hopes, and doubt no longer that we shall conquer
in our turn.'

Their greatest victory was at Saumur, owing chiefly to the gallantry of
Henri, who threw his hat into the midst of the enemy, shouting to his
followers, 'Who will go and fetch it for me?' and rushing forward, drove
all before him, and made his way into the town on one side, while M. de
Lescure, together with Stofflet, a game-keeper, another of the chiefs,
made their entrance on the other side. M. de Lescure was wounded in the
arm, and on the sight of his blood the peasants gave back, and would
have fled had not Stofflet threatened to shoot the first who turned; and
in the meantime M. de Lescure, tying up his arm with a handkerchief,
declared it was nothing, and led them onwards.

The city was entirely in their hands, and their thankful delight was
excessive; but they only displayed it by ringing the bells, singing the
Te Deum, and parading the streets. Henri was almost out of his senses
with exultation; but at last he fell into a reverie, as he stood, with
his arms folded, gazing on the mighty citadel which had yielded to
efforts such as theirs. His friends roused him from his dream by their
remarks, and he replied, 'I am reflecting on our success, and am
confounded'.

They now resolved to elect a general-in-chief, and M. de Lescure was the
first to propose Cathelineau, the peddler, who had first come forward in
the cause. It was a wondrous thing when the nobles, the gentry, and
experienced officers who had served in the regular army, all willingly
placed themselves under the command of the simple untrained peasant,
without a thought of selfishness or of jealousy. Nor did Cathelineau
himself show any trace of pride, or lose his complete humility of mind
or manner; but by each word and deed he fully proved how wise had been
their judgment, and well earned the title given him by the peasants of
the 'Saint of Anjou'.

It was now that their hopes were highest; they were more numerous and
better armed than they had ever been before, and they even talked of a
march to Paris to 'fetch their little king, and have him crowned at
Chollet', the chief town of La Vendee. But martyrdom, the highest glory
to be obtained on this earth, was already shedding its brightness round
these devoted men who were counted worthy to suffer, and it was in a
higher and purer world that they were to meet their royal child.

Cathelineau turned towards Nantes, leaving Henri de la Rochejaquelein,
to his great vexation, to defend Saumur with a party of peasants. But he
found it impossible to prevent these poor men from returning to their
homes; they did not understand the importance of garrison duty, and
gradually departed, leaving their commander alone with a few officers,
with whom he used to go through the town at night, shouting out, 'Long
live the king!' at the places where there ought to have been sentinels.
At last, when his followers were reduced to eight, he left the town,
and, rejoicing to be once more in the open field, overtook his friends
at Angers, where they had just rescued a great number of clergy who had
been imprisoned there, and daily threatened with death. 'Do not thank
us,' said the peasants to the liberated priests; 'it is for you that we
fight. If we had not saved you, we should not have ventured to return
home. Since you are freed, we see plainly that the good God is on our
side.'

But the tide was now about to turn. The Government in Paris sent a far
stronger force into the Bocage, and desolated it in a cruel manner.
Clisson was burnt to the ground with the very fireworks which had been
prepared for the christening of its master's eldest child, and which had
not been used because of the sorrowful days when she was born. M. de
Lescure had long expected its destruction, but had not chosen to remove
the furniture, lest he should discourage the peasants. His family were
with the army, where alone there was now any safety for the weak and
helpless. At Nantes the attack was unsuccessful, and Cathelineau himself
received a wound of which he died in a few days, rejoicing at having
been permitted to shed his blood in such a cause.

The army, of which M. d'Elbee became the leader, now returned to Poitou,
and gained a great victory at Chatillon; but here many of them forgot
the mercy they had usually shown, and, enraged by the sight of their
burnt cottages, wasted fields, and murdered relatives, they fell upon
the prisoners and began to slaughter them. M. de Lescure, coming in
haste, called out to them to desist. 'No, no,' cried M. de Marigny; 'let
me slay these monsters who have burnt your castle.' 'Then, Marigny,'
said his cousin, 'you must fight with me. You are too cruel; you will
perish by the sword.' And he saved these unhappy men for the time; but
they were put to death on their way to their own army.

The cruelties of the Republicans occasioned a proclamation on the part
of the Royalists that they would make reprisals; but they could never
bring themselves to act upon it. When M. de Lescure took Parthenay, he
said to the inhabitants, 'It is well for you that it is I who have taken
your town; for, according to our proclamation, I ought to burn it; but,
as you would think it an act of private revenge for the burning of
Clisson, I spare you'.

Though occasional successes still maintained the hopes of the Vendeans,
misfortunes and defeats now became frequent; they were unable to save
their country from the devastations of the enemy, and disappointments
began to thin the numbers of the soldiers. Henri, while fighting in a
hollow road, was struck in the right hand by a ball, which broke his
thumb in three places. He continued to direct his men, but they were at
length driven back from their post. He was obliged to leave the army for
some days; and though he soon appeared again at the head of the men of
St. Aubin, he never recovered the use of his hand.

Shortly after, both D'Elbee and Bonchamp were desperately wounded; and
M. de Lescure, while waving his followers on to attack a Republican
post, received a ball in the head. The enemy pressed on the broken and
defeated army with overwhelming force, and the few remaining chiefs
resolved to cross the Loire and take refuge in Brittany. It was much
against the opinion of M. de Lescure; but, in his feeble and suffering
state, he could not make himself heard, nor could Henri's
representations prevail; the peasants, in terror and dismay, were
hastening across as fast as they could obtain boats to carry them. The
enemy was near at hand, and Stofflet, Marigny, and the other chiefs were
only deliberating whether they should not kill the prisoners whom they
could not take with them, and, if set at liberty, would only add to the
numbers of their pursuers. The order for their death had been given;
but, before it could be executed, M. de Lescure had raised his head to
exclaim, 'It is too horrible!' and M. de Bonchamp at the same moment
said, almost with his last breath, 'Spare them!' The officers who stood
by rushed to the generals, crying out that Bonchamp commanded that they
should be pardoned. They were set at liberty; and thus the two Vendean
chiefs avenged their deaths by saving five thousand of their enemies!

M. de Bonchamp expired immediately after; but M. de Lescure had still
much to suffer in the long and painful passage across the river, and
afterwards, while carried along the rough roads to Varades in an
armchair upon two pikes, his wife and her maid supporting his feet. The
Bretons received them kindly, and gave him a small room, where, the next
day, he sent for the rest of the council, telling them they ought to
choose a new general, since M. d'Elbee was missing. They answered that
he himself alone could be commander. 'Gentlemen,' he answered: 'I am
mortally wounded; and even if I am to live, which I do not expect, I
shall be long unfit to serve. The army must instantly have an active
chief, loved by all, known to the peasants, trusted by everyone. It is
the only way of saving us. M. de la Rochejaquelein alone is known to the
soldiers of all the divisions. M. de Donnissan, my father-in-law, does
not belong to this part of the country, and would not be as readily
followed. The choice I propose would encourage the soldiers; and I
entreat you to choose M. de la Rochejaquelein. As to me, if I live, you
know I shall not quarrel with Henri; I shall be his aide-de-camp.'

His advice was readily followed, Henri was chosen; but when a second in
command was to be elected, he said no, he was second, for he should
always obey M. de Donnissan, and entreated that the honor might not be
given to him, saying that at twenty years of age he had neither weight
nor experience, that his valor led him to be first in battle, but in
council his youth prevented him from being attended to; and, indeed,
after giving his opinion, he usually fell asleep while others were
debating. He was, however, elected; and as soon as M. de Lescure heard
the shouts of joy with which the peasants received the intelligence, he
sent Madame de Lescure to bring him to his bedside. She found him hidden
in a corner, weeping bitterly; and when he came to his cousin, he
embraced him, saving earnestly, again and again, that he was not fit to
be general, he only knew how to fight, he was too young and could never
silence those who opposed his designs, and entreated him to take the
command as soon as he was cured. 'That I do not expect,' said M. de
Lescure; 'but if it should happen, I will be your aide-de-camp, and help
you to conquer the shyness which prevents your strength of character
from silencing the murmurers and the ambitious.'

Henri accordingly took the command; but it was a melancholy office that
devolved upon him of dragging onward his broken and dejected peasants,
half-starved, half-clothed, and followed by a wretched train of women,
children, and wounded; a sad change from the bright hopes with which,
not six months before, he had been called to the head of his tenants.
Yet still his high courage gained some triumphs, which for a time
revived the spirits of his forces and restored their confidence. He was
active and undaunted, and it was about this time, when in pursuit of the
Blues, he was attacked by a foot soldier when alone in a narrow lane.
His right hand was useless, but he seized the man's collar with his
1eft, and held him fast, managing his horse with his legs till his men
came up. He would not allow them to kill the soldier, but set him free,
saying 'Return to the Republicans, and tell them that you were alone
with the general of the brigands, who had but one hand and no weapons,
yet you could not kill him'. Brigands was the name given by the
Republicans, the true robbers, to the Royalists, who, in fact, by this
time, owing to the wild life they had so long led, had acquired a
somewhat rude and savage appearance. They wore grey cloth coats and
trousers, broad hats, white sashes with knots of different colours to
mark the rank of the officers, and red woolen handkerchiefs. These were
made in the country, and were at first chiefly worn by Henri, who
usually had one round his neck, another round his waist, and a third to
support his wounded hand; but the other officers, having heard the Blues
cry out to aim at the red handkerchief, themselves adopted the same
badge, in order that he might be less conspicuous.

In the meantime a few days' rest at Laval had at first so alleviated the
sufferings of M. de Lescure, that hopes were entertained of his
recovery; but he ventured on greater exertions of strength than he was
able to bear, and fever returned, which had weakened him greatly before
it became necessary to travel onwards. Early in the morning, a day or
two before their departure, he called to his wife, who was lying on a
mattress on the floor, and desired her to open the curtains, asking, as
she did so, if it was a clear day. 'Yes,' said she. 'Then,' he answered,
'I have a sort of veil before my eyes, I cannot see distinctly; I always
thought my wound was mortal, and now I no longer doubt. My dear, I must
leave you, that is my only regret, except that I could not restore my
king to the throne; I leave you in the midst of a civil war, that is
what afflicts me. Try to save yourself. Disguise yourself, and attempt
to reach England.' Then seeing her choked with tears, he continued:
'Yes, your grief alone makes me regret life; for my own part, I die
tranquil; I have indeed sinned, but I have always served God with piety;
I have fought, and I die for Him, and I hope in His mercy. I have often
seen death, and I do not fear it I go to heaven with a sure trust, I
grieve but for you; I hoped to have made you happy; if I ever have given
you any reason to complain, forgive me.' Finding her grief beyond all
consolation, he allowed her to call the surgeons, saying that it was
possible he might be mistaken. They gave some hope, which cheered her
spirits, though he still said he did not believe them. The next day they
left Laval; and on the way, while the carriage was stopping, a person
came to the door and read the details of the execution of Marie
Antoinette which Madame de Lescure had kept from his knowledge. It was a
great shock to him, for he had known the Queen personally, and
throughout the day he wearied himself with exclamations on the horrible
crime. That night at Ernee he received the Sacrament, and at the same
time became speechless, and could only lie holding his wife's hand and
looking sometimes at her, sometimes toward heaven. But the cruel enemy
were close behind, and there was no rest on earth even for the dying.
Madame de Lescure implored her friends to leave them behind; but they
told her she would be exposed to a frightful death, and that his body
would fall into the enemy's hands; and she was forced to consent to his
removal. Her mother and her other friends would not permit her to remain
in the carriage with him; she was placed on horseback and her maid and
the surgeon were with him. An hour after, on the 3rd of November, he
died, but his wife did not know her loss till the evening when they
arrived at Fongeres; for though the surgeon left the carriage on his
death, the maid, fearing the effect which the knowledge might have upon
her in the midst of her journey, remained for seven hours in the
carriage by his side, during two of which she was in a fainting fit.

When Madame de Lescure and Henri de la Rochejaquelein met the next
morning, they sat for a quarter of an hour without speaking, and weeping
bitterly. At last she said 'You have lost your best friend,' and he
replied, 'Take my life, if it could restore him.'


Scarcely anything can be imagined more miserable than the condition of
the army, or more terrible than the situation of the young general, who
felt himself responsible for its safety, and was compelled daily to see
its sufferings and find his plans thwarted by the obstinacy and folly of
the other officers, crushed by an overwhelming force, knowing that there
was no quarter from which help could come, yet still struggling on in
fulfillment of his sad duty. The hopes and expectations which had filled
his heart a few months back had long passed away; nothing was around him
but misery, nothing before him but desolation; but still he never failed
in courage, in mildness, in confidence in Heaven.

At Mans he met with a horrible defeat; at first, indeed, with a small
party he broke the columns of the enemy, but fresh men were constantly
brought up, and his peasants gave way and retreated, their officers
following them. He tried to lead them back through the hedges, and if he
had succeeded, would surely have gained the victory. Three times with
two other officers he dashed into the midst of the Blues; but the
broken, dispirited peasants would not follow him, not one would even
turn to fire a shot. At last, in leaping a hedge, his saddle turned, and
he fell, without indeed being hurt, but the sight of his fall added to
the terror of the miserable Vendeans. He struggled long and desperately
through the long night that followed to defend the gates of the town,
but with the light of morning the enemy perceived his weakness and
effected their entrance. His followers had in the meantime gradually
retired into the country beyond, but those who could not escape fell a
prey to the cruelty of the Republicans. 'I thought you had perished,'
said Madame de Lescure, when he overtook her. 'Would that I had,' was
his answer.

He now resolved to cross the Loire, and return to his native Bocage,
where the well-known woods would afford a better protection to his
followers. It was at Craon, on their route to the river, that Madame de
Lescure saw him for the last time, as he rallied his men, who had been
terrified by a false alarm.

She did not return to La Vendee, but, with her mother, was sheltered by
the peasants of Brittany throughout the winter and spring until they
found means to leave the country.

The Vendeans reached the Loire at Ancenis, but they were only able to
find two small boats to carry them over. On the other side, however,
were four great ferry boats loaded with hay; and Henri, with Stofflet,
three other officers, and eighteen soldiers crossed the river in their
two boats, intending to take possession of them, send them back for the
rest of the army, and in the meantime protect the passage from the Blues
on the Vendean side. Unfortunately, however, he had scarcely crossed
before the pursuers came down upon his troops, drove them back from
Ancenis, and entirely prevented them from attempting the passage, while
at the same time Henri and his companions were attacked and forced from
the river by a body of Republicans on their side. A last resistance was
attempted by the retreating Vendeans at Savenay, where they fought nobly
but in vain; four thousand were shot on the field of battle, the chiefs
were made prisoners and carried to Nantes or Angers, where they were
guillotined, and a few who succeeded in escaping found shelter among the
Bretons, or one by one found their way back to La Vendee. M. de
Donnissan was amongst those who were guillotined, and M. d'Elbee, who
was seized shortly after, was shot with his wife.

Henri, with his few companions, when driven from the banks of the Loire,
dismissed the eighteen soldiers, whose number would only have attracted
attention without being sufficient for protection; but the five chiefs
crossed the fields and wandered through the country without meeting a
single inhabitant--all the houses were burnt down, and the few remaining
peasants hidden in the woods. At last, after four-and-twenty hours,
walking, they came to an inhabited farm, where they lay down to sleep on
the straw. The next moment the farmer came to tell them the Blues were
coming; but they were so worn out with fatigue, that they would not
move. The Blues were happily, also, very tired, and, without making any
search, laid down on the other side of the heap of straw, and also fell
asleep. Before daylight the Vendeans rose and set out again, walking
miles and miles in the midst of desolation, until, after several days,
they came to Henri's own village of St. Aubin, where he sought out his
aunt, who was in concealment there, and remained with her for three
days, utterly overwhelmed with grief at his fatal separation from his
army, and only longing for an opportunity of giving his life in the good
cause.

Beyond all his hopes, the peasants no sooner heard his name, than once
more they rallied round the white standard, as determined as ever not to
yield to the Revolutionary government; and the beginning of the year
1794 found him once more at the head of a considerable force, encamped
in the forests of Vesins, guarding the villages around from the
cruelties of the Blues. He was now doubly beloved and trusted by the
followers who had proved his worth, and who even yet looked forward to
triumphs beneath his brave guidance; but it was not so with him, he had
learnt the lesson of disappointment, and though always active and
cheerful, his mind was made up, and the only hope he cherished was of
meeting the death of a soldier. His headquarters were in the midst of a
forest, where one of the Republican officers, who was made prisoner, was
much surprised to find the much-dreaded chieftain of the Royalists
living in a hut formed of boughs of trees, dressed almost like a
peasant, and with his arm still in a sling. This person was shot,
because he was found to be commissioned to promise pardon to the
peasants, and afterwards to massacre them; but Henri had not learnt
cruelty from his persecutors, and his last words were of forgiveness.

It was on Ash Wednesday that he had repulsed an attack of the enemy, and
had almost driven them out of the wood, when, perceiving two soldiers
hiding behind a hedge, he stopped, crying out, 'Surrender, I spare you.'
As he spoke one of them leveled his musket, fired, and stretched him
dead on the ground without a groan. Stofflet, coming up the next moment,
killed the murderer with one stroke of his sword; but the remaining
soldier was spared out of regard to the last words of the general. The
Vendeans wept bitterly, but there was no time to indulge their sorrow,
for the enemy were returning upon them; and, to save their chieftain's
corpse from insult, they hastily dug a grave, in which they placed both
bodies, and retreated as the Blues came up to occupy the ground. The
Republicans sought for the spot, but it was preserved from their
knowledge; and the high-spirited, pure-hearted Henri de la
Rochejaquelein sleeps beside his enemy in the midst of the woodlands
where be won for himself eternal honor. His name is still loved beyond
all others; the Vendeans seldom pronounce it without touching their
hats, and it is the highest glory of many a family that one of their
number has served under Monsieur Henri.

Stofflet succeeded to the command, and carried on the war with great
skill and courage for another year, though with barbarities such as had
never been permitted by the gentle men; but his career was stained by
the death of Marigny, whom, by false accusations, he was induced to
sentence to be shot. Marigny showed great courage and resignation,
himself giving the word to fire--perhaps at that moment remembering the
warning of M. de Lescure. Stofflet repented bitterly, and never ceased
to lament his death. He was at length made prisoner, and shot, with his
last words declaring his devotion to his king and his faith.

Thus ends the tale of the Vendean war, undertaken in the best of causes,
for the honor of God and His Church, and the rescue of one of the most
innocent of kings, by men whose saintly characters and dauntless courage
have seldom been surpassed by martyrs or heroes of any age. It closed
with blood, with fire, with miseries almost unequalled; yet who would
dare to say that the lives of Cathelineau, Bonchamp, Lescure, La
Rochejaquelein, with their hundreds of brave and pious followers, were
devoted in vain? Who could wish to see their brightness dimmed with
earthly rewards?

And though the powers of evil were permitted to prevail on earth, yet
what could their utmost triumph effect against the faithful, but to make
for them, in the words of the child king for whom they fought, one of
those thorny paths that lead to glory!


THE END.







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