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hero. By giving to him the epithet of the strong, he has confounded him with a prince of that name, who died nearly a century before the events recorded in this story took place. Those events are connected with the life of Alexius Comnenus the First, who usurped the crown of the Greek empire, after shutting up Nicephorus, the lawful heir, in a cloister. Alexius is a character well known in the annals of the crusaders, under Godfrey of Boulogne, whose expedition he had nearly frustrated by denying them provisions, for which they were actually obliged to fight a sanguinary battle, about the year 1097. The victory which they gained over him, as well as an idea that to his arm alone the recovery of Jerusalem from the Infidels naturally belonged, rendered him exceedingly jealous of the crusaders, and he did every thing in his power to embarrass their subsequent proceedings. Although one of the most cruel and unjust men that ever held the “ rod of empire,” his character is painted as one of almost unqualified perfection, by his daughter, the celebrated Anna Comnena.
As the story here goes, Robert of Paris is one of the crusaders who were detained for some time at Constantinople, on their way to Palestine. He is accompanied by an Amazonian wife, for whom the author has throughout exerted himself to create a strong interest, but without, as it seems to us, the least success.
There is something so repulsive in her manners, and even in her costume, and her beauty is altogether of so masculine a character, that we never encounter her presence without reluctance. The fair historian, Anna Comnena, is an infinitely more interesting character, though rather too pedantic. The portrait of Alexius Comnenus himself, is drawn with fidelity ; but his cruelties to Nicephorus, as well as the pompous etiquettes of his court, render him a very unfit personage to take a leading part in a romance. Another person of the drama almost equally disgusting, is Agelastes, a kind of philosopher, who had not yet lost his attachment to the pagan system of faith. Count Robert is a very fair specimen of the chivalry of the day, but he is badly treated by the author. At one time he fights with a seeming lion, which turns out to be nothing more than a composition of machinery; at another time he is obliged to waste his bravery upon an immense ouran outang, of which the author, with a perversion of taste for which it would be difficult to account, makes a great deal of use in this story. There may perhaps be some novelty in the introduction of such a monster into a romance ; but it reminds us of the similar resources to which the theatres royal are driven, when, from an incapacity to produce legitimate entertainment, they are obliged to crowd their stages with wild beasts from Mysore.
The only pages throughout the volumes occupied with this tale, in which we recognise any thing like the pencil of the master, are those in which he describes the battle that took place between the imperial fleet and that of the crusaders, under the command of
Tancred. This description we shall extract, as a token of our respect for the author.
• “ You are a wise man, neighbour," said Lascaris, “ and possess such a mixture of valour and knowledge, as becomes a man whom a friend might be supposed safely to risk his life with. There be those, for instance, who cannot show you the slightest glimpse of what is going on, without bringing you within peril of your life ; whereas you, my
worthy friend Demetrius, between your accurate knowledge of military affairs, and your regard for your friend, are sure to show him all that is to be seen without the least risk to a person, who is naturally unwilling to think of exposing himself to injury.—But, Holy Virgin! what is the meaning of that red flag which the Greek Admiral has this instant hoisted ?"
Why you see, neighbour," answered Demetrius, “ yonder western heretic continues to advance without minding the various signs which our Admiral has made to him to desist, and now he hoists the bloody colours, as if a man should clench his fist and say, If you persevere in your uncivil intention, I will do so and so. «« Run! run! friend Lascaris,” said Demetrius,
will see more of that than perchance you have any curiosity for."
Accordingly, to add the strength of example to precept, Demetrius himself girt up his loins, and retreated with the most edifying speed to the opposite side of the ridge, accompanied by the greater part of the crowd, who had tarried there to witness the contest which the newsmonger promised, and were determined to take his word for their own safety. The sound and sight which had alarmed Demetrius, was the discharge of a large portion of Greek fire, which perhaps may be best compared to one of those immense Congreve rockets of the present day, which takes on its shoulders a small grapnel or anchor, and proceeds groaning through the air, like a fiend over-burdened by the mandate of some inexorable magician, and of which the operation was so terrifying, that the crews of the vessels attacked by this strange weapon, frequently forsook every means of defence, and ran themselves ashore. One of the principal ingredients of this dreadful fire was supposed to be naphtha, or the bitumen which is collected on the banks of the Dead Sea; and which, when in a state of ignition, could only be extinguished by a very singular mixture, and which it was not likely to come in contact with. It produced a thick smoke and loud explosion, and was capable, says Gibbon, of communicating its flames with equal vehemence in descent or lateral progress. In sieges, it was poured from the ramparts, or launched, like our bombs, in red hot balls of stone or iron, or it was darted in flax twisted round arrows, and in javelins. It was considered as a state secret of the greatest importance; and for well nigh four centuries it was unknown to the Mahometans. But at length the composition was discovered by the Saracens, and used by them for repelling the crusaders, and overpowering the Greeks, upon whose side it had at one time been the most formidable implement of defence. Some exaggeration we must allow for a barbarous period; but there seems no doubt that the general description of the crusader Joinville should be admitted as correct! —“ It came flying through the air,” says that good knight,“ like a winged dragon, about the thickness of a hogshead, with the report of thunder and the speed of lightning, and the darkness of the night was dispelled by this horrible illumination.”
. Not only the bold Demetrius and his pupil Lascaris, but all the crowd whom they influenced, fled manfully when the commodore of the Greeks fired the first discharge ; and as the other vessels in the squadron followed his example, the heavens were filled with the unusual and outrageous noise, while the smoke was so thick as to darken the very air. As the fugitives passed the crest of the hill, they saw the seaman, whom we formerly mentioned as a spectator, snugly reclining under cover of a dry ditch, where he managed so as to secure himself as far as possible from any accident. He could not, however, omit breaking his jest on the politicians.
"" What, ho !” he cried, “ my good friends," without raising himself above the counterscarp of his ditch, “ will you not remain upon your station long enough to finish that hopeful lecture upon battle by sea and land, which you had so happy an opportunity of commencing? Believe me the noise is more alarming than hurtful, the fire is all pointed in a direction opposite to yours, and if one of those dragons which you see does happen to fly landward instead of seaward, it is but the mistake of some cabin-boy, who has used bis linstock with more willingness than ability."
• Demetrius and Lascaris just heard enough of the naval hero's harangue, to acquaint them with the new danger with which they might be assailed by the possible misdirection of the weapons, and, rushing down towards the lists at the head of a crowd half desperate with fear, they hastily propagated the appalling news, that the Latins were coming back from Asia, with the purpose of landing in arms, pillaging, and burning the city.
• The uproar in the meantime, of this unexpected occurrence, was such as altogether to vindicate, in public opinion, the reported cause, however exaggerated. The thunder of the Greek fire came successively, one hard upon the other, and each, in its turn, spread a blot of black smoke upon the face of the landscape, which, thickened by so many successive clouds, seemed at last, like that raised by a sustained fire of modern artillery, to overshadow the whole horizon.
• The small squadron of Tancred were completely hid from view in the surging volumes of darkness, which the breath of the weapons of the enemy had spread around him; and it seemed, by a red light which began to show itself among the thickest of the veil of darkness, that one of the flow tilla at least had caught fire. Yet the Latins resisted, with an obstinacy worthy of their own courage, and the fame of their celebrated leader. Some advantage they had, on account of their small size, and their lowness in the water, as well as the clouded state of the atmosphere, which rendered them difficult marks for the fire of the Greek.
• To increase these advantages, Tancred, as well by boats as by the kind of rude signals made use of at that period, dispersed orders to his fleet, that each bark, disregarding the fate of the others, should press forward individually, and that the men from each should be put un shore wheresoever and howsoever they could effect that manoeuvre. Tancred himself set a noble example; he was on board a stout vessel, fenced in some degree against the effect of the Greek fire, by being in a great measure covered with raw hides, which hides had also been recently steeped in water. This vessel contained upwards of a hundred valiant warriors, several of them of knightly order, who had all night toiled at the humble labours of the oar, and now in the morning applied their chivalrous hands to the arblast and to the bow, which were in general accounted the weapons of persons of a
lower rank. Thus armed, and thus inanned, Prince Tancred bestowed upon his bark the full velocity which wind, and tide, and oar, could enable her to obtain ; and placing her in the situation to profit by them as much as his maritime skill could direct, he drove with the speed of lightning among the vessels of Lempos, plying on either side, bows, crossbows, javelins, and military missiles of every kind, with the greater advantage, that the Greeks, trusting to their artificial fire, had omitted arming themselves with other weapons; so that when the valiant crusader bore down on them with so much fury, repaying the terrors of their fire with a storm of bolts and arrows no less formidable, they began to feel that their own advantage was much less than they had supposed, and that, like most other dangers, the maritime fire of the Greeks, when undauntedly confronted, lost at least onehalf of its terrors. The Grecian sailors, too, when they observed the vessels approach so near, filled with the steel-clad Latins, began to shrink from a contest to be maintained hand to hand with so terrible an enemy.
• By degrees, smoke began to issue from the sides of the great Grecian argosie, and the voice of Tancred announced to his soldiers that the Grecian Admiral's vessel had taken fire, owing to negligence in the management of the means of destruction she possessed, and that all they had now to do, was to maintain such a distance as to avoid sharing her fate. Sparkles and flashes of fame were next seen leaping from place to place, on board of the great hulk, as if the element had had the sense and purpose of spreading wider the consternation, and disabling the few who still paid attention to the commands of their Admiral, and endeavoured to extinguish the fire. The consciousness of the combustible nature of the freight began to add despair to terror; from the bolt-sprit, the rigging, the yards, the, sides, and every part of the vessel, the unfortunate crew were seen dropping themselves, to exchange, for the most part, a watery death for one by the more dreadful agency of fire. The crew of Tancred's bark, ceasing by that generous prince's commands, to offer any additional annoyance to an enemy, who was at once threatened by the perils of the ocean and of conAagration, ran their vessel ashore in a smooth part of the bay, and jumping into the shallow sea, inade the land without difficulty; many of their steeds being, by the exertions of the owners, and the docility of the animals, brought ashore at the same time with their masters. Their commander lost no time in forming their serried ranks into a phalanx of lancers, few indeed at first, but perpetually increasing, as ship after ship of the little flotilla ran ashore, or having more deliberately moored their barks, landed their men, and joined their companions.
• The cloud which had been raised by the conflict, was now driven to leeward before the wind, and the strait only exhibited the relics of the combat. Here, tossed upon the billows, the scattered and broken remains of one or two of the Latin vessels which had been burnt at the commencement of the combat, though their crews, by the exertions of their comrades, had in general been saved. Lower down were seen the remaining five vessels of the Lemnos squadron, holding a disorderly and difficult retreat, with the purpose of gaining the harbour of Constantinople. In the place so late the scene of combat, lay moored the hulk of the Grecian Admiral, burnt to the water's edge, and still sending forth a black smoke from its scattered beams and planks. The flotilla of Tancred, busied in discharging its troops, lay irregularly scattered along the bay, the men
making ashore as they could, and taking their course to join the standard of their leader. Various black substances floated on the surface of the water, nearer, or more distant to the shore; some proved to be the wreck of the vessels which had been destroyed, and others, more ominous still, tbe lifeless bodies of mariners who had fallen in the conflict.
• The standard had been borne ashore by the Prince's favourite page, Ernest of Apulia, so soon as the keel of Tancred's galley had grazed upon the sand. It was then pitched on the top of that elevated cape between Constantinople, and the lists, where Lascaris, Demetrius, and other gossips, had held their station at the commencement of the engagement, but from which all had fled, between the mingled dread of the Greek fire and the missiles of the Latin erusaders.'—Count Robert of Paris, vol. iii. pp. 106 -116.
Italy has for many ages been the land of romance. Several of Mr. Macfarlane's tales, he informs us, have been written under the influence of the climate of Naples, and his descriptions, generally, he adds, are taken from notes which he made during his travels. These are points of great importance in favour of any person, who endeavours to exhibit the romantic features of that interesting country. Hence, we think that we may say, without fear of being considered partial, that his sketches are by far the best of all those that have yet been given as specimens of the romance of history. His principal fault is, that he commences them at rather too early a period. The Lombard epoch from 568 to 633 might have been very well passed over, as unproductive of materials capable of being worked up into a romantic narrative, in the modern sense of that epithet. Even in the period which follows that, from 633 to 664, there is much more of superstition, than of romance to be found. Indeed, we should say that Mr. Macfarlane might have very well commenced his labours with the eleventh century, when the Normans were first observed to form establishments in Italy. That enterprisng race of men supply subjects for the novelist and the minstrel, wherever they appear in thedifferent countries of Europe. We have here a very delightful account of a pilgrimage, made by a party of these people, to the sanctuary of Mount Garganus, which affords a favourable presage of the tales that follow. The scenery of the mountain is prettily described The pilgrims ascending it, are stopped at a pass by the sentinels appointed to protect the sanctuary from violation, preparations are immediately made to dispute the authority of the guard, but upon further explanation, the party are allowed to ascend, and perform their devotions at the cave of St. Michael. Having gone the rounds of the little chapels, into which a portion of the cave was divided, each ornamented by its silver crucifix and lamp, the pilgrims were finally admitted to the spot, where the saint himself is supposed to have resided. On their return from the sanctuary, the pilgrims, always as ready for fighting as for praying, are easily pe: