Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

Having received a mortal wound, he would not permit his comrades to remove him from the spot, saying, “Ne me comptez plus au nombre des vivans ; vos soins seront mieux employés à défendre nos autres freres." He crawled into the chapel of the castle, and expired at the foot of the altar, in recommending his soul to God. On the eve of the 23d of June, the Turks being resolved to make the assault the following morning, the knights who defended the fort, having lost all hope of succour, received the sacrament in the dead of the night. They then embraced one another, and retired to their respective posts, to fulfil their last duty, by delivering up their souls to God. The wounded were carried to the breach in chairs, where they sat with their swords grasped with both hands. They were killed to a man; and Mustapha ordered their dead bodies, after being cut into crosses and fastened to boards, to be cast into the sea.

These men may have been sometimes obnoxious to just censure, but they were never wanting in affection and sincerity. They might have erred in many instances of their conduct, led astray by hasty passion, unavoidable ignorance, or the influence of peculiar circumstances which occurred in that period of the world ; “hominum gesta legimus, non deorum;" and certainly I am far from intending to imply that these men were not obnoxious like ourselves to the judgment of infinite justice and wisdom ; but if they loved much, they had (what we must seek for ourselves by other measures than a life of worldly-minded policy and sceptical indifference) the promise of the Saviour, who has formally declared, in allusion to their state, that “much would be forgiven.”

To proceed with instances which will illustrate the spirit of the Crusaders. The reply of the generals of the Crusade to the Babylonian messengers is very striking : “ Nulla virtus est humana quæ nobis ullo modo terrorem incutiat : quia cum morimur, nascimur; cum vitam amittimus, temporalem recuperamus sempiternam.' How affecting the account of the first view which the Christian army gain of the Holy Sepulchre! All present burst into tears of joy, and falling down, they worshipped and

"1

1 Rob. Gesta Dei per Francos, p. 52.

cried out in these words, “O tempus Domini desideratum ! O tempus acceptabile! O factum factis omnibus admirabile! Gloria tibi Fili, gloria tibi Spiritus Sancte, amborum Paraclete Trinitas Sancta, Rex Sabaoth, faciens mirabilia in cælo et in terra : concilium tuum antiquum est: a solis ortu et occasu, ab aquilone et austro laudabile nomen tuum. Excelsus super omnes gentes Dominus, sit nomen ejus benedictum in secula.”ı Heartless and unbelieving men have ridiculed what they termed the fanatical devotion of the middle ages : but do these annals display the inconsistency of human conduct? I confess, it appears to me far otherwise. The Egyptians, after discoursing on the immortality of the soul, "put themselves to death for joy.” Was it then wonderful that the hope of a happy resurrection should inspire a reverence for the very spot where that hope was confirmed to mankind ? « If the ground whereon Moses and Joshua stood, when angels appeared to them, is said in Scripture to be holy and worthy of veneration, by how much more the ground on which our blessed Saviour lived and died for us !” We have our honourable East India Company; and the Dutch had their honourable companies to monopolise the riches and luxury of the East; and is it for the lovers of chivalry —for the hoary Palmer and the Red-cross knight, who departed from the land that they loved at the call of piety and honour—is it for them to blush and to be troubled at the scorn of a world which is destitute of both! Who can read the account which William of Tyre gives of the entrance of the Crusaders into Jerusalem without emotion ? “ Having laid aside their arms, in the spirit of humility and with a contrite mind, with bare feet and washed hands, and all splendid habits laid aside, with groans and tears, they began to go round devoutly, and to kiss with deep sighs the venerable places which the Saviour wished to render illustrious and to sanctify by his presence, a grateful sight, and full of spiritual joy, to behold with what devotion, with what pious fervour of desire, the faithful people approached the holy places, with what exaltation of mind and spiritual joy they kissed the memorials of our Lord's dispensation. Every where were tears and sighs,

It was

i Gesta Dei, p. 576.

not such as grief and anxiety excite, but such as fervent piety and the consummate joy of the interior man are accustomed to offer up as a holocaust to the Lord : immediately they began to contend earnestly with each other, desiring to conquer in works of piety, having the divine grace before their eyes.” In another point of view it was an inspiring spectacle to behold the Christian army, composed of so many different people, united in one desire. “ The strength of the nations,” says a Crusader,

came to it, especially warlike men from France and Germany; the first more powerful at sea, the latter more renowned on land; the first more qualified for naval engagements, and more ready to fight and act on water; the latter more experienced on land, most prudent in battle, and more expert to fight with sword and lance on horseback. The Italians were more grave and discreet and composed, more temperate in food and drink, rather too long in discourse, circumspect in council, diligent and attentive in public affairs, and having a watchful eye to their future advantage, before all things defending their freedom under one captain whom they chose ; dictating and firmly observing their laws and institutions, they are greatly necessary to the holy land, not only in battle, but also in our commercial transactions, and in furnishing supplies for the host. The Britons, English, and other transmontane people, are less composed and more impetuous ; less circumspect in action, and more intemperate in food and drink, and more profuse in expenditure ; less courteous in words, basty and less provident in council ; but they are devout in church, and more fervent in alms and other works of mercy: in battle also they are more daring; and to the defence of the holy land—especially the Britons— they are in the highest degree useful, and dreadfully formidable to the Saracens.”2 France and Italy were the most enthusiastic in the Crusades. Twenty-two pilgrims left the small state of Forli ; and one thousand went from Sienna.

What a scene was that at Clermont, when the Pope Urban addressed these affecting words to the assembled chivalry of France ! Jerusalem, this ancient love of

i Gesta Dei per Francos, p. 760.

2 Ib. 1086.

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

Israel, this nurse of the prophets, this city of the King
who wore the crown of thorns, this cradle of our salva-
tion, this fountain of the faith, Jerusalem, placed in the
centre of the earth, to unite in its bosom the wandering
nations, Jerusalem, which ought to attract the faithful as
the magnet draws iron, as the sea receives rivers, Jeru-
salem is a prey to the cruel avidity of an impious and
sacrilegious nation. The worshippers of Christ are driven,
away from its bounds; it is only by supporting a thou-
sand injuries, it is only by dint of gold and prayers, that
they can approach the tomb which has redeemed them.
O sorrow, which tears cannot relieve! O sad predictions
of Jeremiah! The places which ought to resound night
and day with hymns and thanksgivings, hear only impre-
cations and blasphemy! Golgotha, which ought to be an
altar for the universe, is polluted by the sect of an in-
postor !”

This heroic history is full of examples to excite admiration. Jocelline, while inspecting the demolition of a certain tower near Alapia, was crushed by the falling of part of the building, so as to be confined to his bed for a long time. At length, the Sultan of Iconium came and laid siege to a camp belonging to Jocelline, called Croisson, who called his son, and charged him to collect a sufficient force to oblige the Sultan to abandon the siege. The son, being of little courage, declared that he was unequal to the task of resisting the Sultan. Then the dying warrior understood what sort of person was about to succeed him : he ordered himself to be carried in his bed against the Turks. While he was yet on the way, the news reached him that the Sultan, hearing of his resolution to be carried in his bed to meet him, had raised the siege, and was hastily departed. Jocelline, causing his litter to be set on the ground, raising up his hands and eyes to heaven, with a pious heart returned great thanks to God for all the honour and benefits which he had received during his life, and especially that, lying half dead in his bed, he had terrified the potent enemy of the Christian name. For he knew that all these things had only been brought about by the divine goodness and

And with such words he rendered up his spirit to heaven.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

care.

The fate of the brave Scanderbeg, in 1465, was similar. He was on his death-bed, surrounded by his soldiers, when the town of Alessio, where he lay, was alarmed by the sudden advance of the Turks. The hero, though weakened by fever, felt new strength from the enthusiasm of his soul. Rising up in his bed, he called for his arms, and ordered his charger to be saddled ; but when he saw his limbs tremble under the weight which they were no longer able to support, falling back on his sad pillow, he said to his soldiers, “ Go on, my friends ; fight the barbarians; you shall not be long before me.

I shall soon have strength to follow you." A squadron sallied out of the city, towards the brook Clerus, where the Pacha Anamathius was ravaging the country. The Turks believed that Scanderbeg was coming against them, and they fled precipitately over the mountains covered with snow, leaving immense booty, and losing many men. The news of this advantage was hardly brought to Scanderbeg when, after receiving devoutly the sacraments of the Church, he expired on the 17th of January, aged sixty-three.

But to return to the early Crusaders. Vinisauf gives a lively description of the English and French Crusaders, under Richard and Philip, as they marched to Lyons.

Passing through the different towns and villages with all the pomp of arms, the inhabitants were struck with admiration at their beautiful and martial appearance. Papæ ! they exclaimed, 'who can resist such bravery? What a goodly and handsome band of youths! Were their parents sad on their departure? What lands ever produced such a number of fine young men ?! The question now,' he observes, “ was not, who would take the Cross, but who had not as yet taken it.” He mentions, that it was the custom every night, before retiring to rest, for a herald to cry out in the midst of the camp, “ Sanctum sepulchrum adjuva,” to which every tongue replied in the same words, while all hands were stretched to heaven, to supplicate the mercy and help of God. Three times was this cry repeated, “Help the holy sepulchre :” and it is said that the army was profoundly affected by this usage. The eloquence of these brave men is enough to inspire

1 Lib. xi. c. 9. apud Gale, Scriptores Hist. Anglicanæ, vol. ii.

« PoprzedniaDalej »