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questionable. The zeal with which he cultivated the study of foreign languages, including (it is said) the Hebrew, at least indicated a spirit of inquiry little in harmony with the narrow limits within which the true Mussulman would confine his knowledge. To the acquisition of languages he added the culture of history and geography; but his sceptical leanings were most clearly shown in the invitations he gave to Italian painters to visit him, and the gifts with which he paid for their works.

A story is told, in connection with his reception of the celebrated Venetian painter Gentile Bellini, which is not universally accepted as true, but which may serve to show the horrible union of bloodiness with luxury which characterises Turkish monarchs like Mahomet II. Bellini had painted the Sultan's portrait, and was enjoying the full sunshine of his favour, when, on showing Mahomet a picture of the beheading of St. John the Baptist, the despot remarked that the action of the muscles was incorrectly drawn; and ordered the head of a slave to be cut off in his presence, to convince the artist of the justice of the criticism. Similar stories are given of his ripping open the bodies of fourteen pages, to search for a stolen melon; and of his beheading with his own hand a favourite female slave, in order that his soldiers might know that no tender emotions could sway his actions. On ascending the throne, he followed the usual oriental custom of murdering his infant brothers, by way of preventing the opposition of a rival. One of these, however, was saved, carried to Rome, baptised, and lived and died a Christian in the Austrian territories. In other respects Mahomet was a Turk in the very worst of forms. To a love for licentiousness in its vilest shapes he united an iron will, a temper that never forgave, and a deliberate violation of all agreements with Christians. A more forniidable foe to the cowering multitude of Greeks who lay hidden within the vast walls of Constantinople cannot be conceived.

In the autumn of 1451 Mahomet made the first deci. sive move towards the siege. Of the ancient territories, of which Constantinople had once been the centre, little inore remained than the immediate neighbourhood of the city itself. The Asiatic coast of the Bosphorus had been long lost to Christianity; and on the European side, Adrianople was already a species of capital of the Turkish dominions. Mahomet's first step was to plant a fortress on the shore of the Bosphorus; which, in conjunction with a Turkish fort on the Asiatic side, would command the marine approaches from the west, and effectually preclude the advance of any succour from Latin Christendom. In March 1452 tlie building of this fort, at a spot called Asomaton, only five miles from Constantinople, was commenced. The very remains of Christian churches were employed in its construction; and by the end of September the fortifications were completed. Marvellous tales are recorded of the artillery with which the stronghold was supplied, and of the general character of the missiles which, even in that infancy of the age of gunpowder, were at the disposal of the Turkish invader. In the present day, if report speaks truly, every fresh improvement in modern gunnery no sooner appears in Germany, France, or England, than the Russian hereditary foe of Constantinople enlists it in his service. And what Nicholas does now, Mahomet did before him. Liberal payment induced a certain Christian engineer, Urban by name, to desert the Greek emperor for the Turkish sultan; and under his direction a foundry was set up at Adrianople, and a monster cannon cast, of a weight and capacity almost incredible. Whether or not the estimate of its powers was enormously exaggerated by popular fear and crafty diplomacy, it is not easy to say. Its bore is estimated at twelve palms; the weight of the stone ball which it discharged at 600 pounds: sixty oxen dragged along the carriage on which it was placed, 250 pioneers smoothed the inequalities in its path; and in the space of two months it thus progressed about 150 miles. The range of its ball was above a mile. Such was the engine on which Mahomet chiefly relied for effecting a breach in the walls of Constantinople. From 200,000 to 300,000 soldiers encamped before the city; and a fleet above 300 sail, chiefly of small size, swarmed into the waters of the Propontis.

But for the strength of the fortifications, the capture of the city must have been a mere formality. What was the precise amount of the resident population it is not possible to ascertain ; but the paucity of the troops on whom any reliance could be placed as soldiers would be incredible, were it not stated on the authority of the emperor's devoted minister Phranza, whose account of the times forms one of the most interesting and authentic of the Byzantine histories, and who himself prepared the report on the state of the soldiery for his sovereign's information. Phranza states, that the whole number of trusty troops upon whom he could reckon was four thousand nine hundred and seventy! Such were the descendants of Cæsar's legions. Two thousand Genoese were added to their ranks; and to this little band was intrusted the form, or the farce, of defending a city of above thirteen miles in circumference.

The siege commenced on the 6th of April. The invaders employed at once the devices of the old system of warfare and the resources of the new. Stones and darts accompanied the battering-ram; and a monstrous wooden tower was dragged up to the walls, to place the besiegers on a level with the defenders of the walls. The enormous cannon, with many others of smaller calibre, shot forth its stone and leaden balls as rapidly as the inexperience of the times would permit. The Turks, however, were ill-supplied with gunpowder; the Greeks knew more than their enemies of the art of

war;

and the first assaults were totally unsuccessful.

In the mean time supplies reached the besieged by sea. Five large ships from Germany and Italy cut their way through Mahomet's numerous but inefficient fleet, which floated in the Sea of Marmora, shut out from the narrow Bosphorus by a chain drawn from shore to shore; and the admiral, a renegade, received the characteristic oriental reward of defeat, in the shape of a frightful scourging in the sultan's own presence, with the confiscation of his goods, and exile. Having thus flogged the unhappy commander almost to death, Mahomet conceived the idea of lodging his ships close under the walls of the city, by transporting them overland. The entrance of the harbour defied the efforts of a fleet which could do nothing unless it could come to close quarters. Greek ships protected the chain-barrier; and thus guarded, the marine side of the fortifications was secure. The daring ingenuity of the sultan succeeded. He constructed a kind of road of planks from the shore of the Propontis round again to the shore of the harbour of the Bosphorus. The gigantic multitude of the host he commanded supplied the place of the engines of modern art; and (as it is said in the course of a night he conveyed about eighty of his galleys along the well-greased pathway, and launched them in the shallows of the harbour. There he constructed a mole for the reception of his artillery; while his ships almost touched the walls and quays of the devoted city.

Negotiations were entered into, but speedily discontinued; and the sultan prepared for conquest, and the emperor for death. The last moments of Constantine were worthy of better days. After summoning the chiefs of his troops, and exhorting them to do all that men could do, he repaired to Santa Sophia and communicated. The attack began with the day, the 29th of May, 1453. The besiegers swarmed to the breaches which their guns had made; the extraordinary advantages of position which the fortifications still gave to the Greeks made the first advances a work of almost certain death; but numbers rapidly prevailed. The Genoese auxiliary, Giustiniani, was wounded, and, despite the entreaties of the emperor, turned and fled. In a few hours all was lost, and the last of the Cæsars lay dead amid the heaps of slain. The terrified inhabitants left their houses and fled to the church of Santa Sophia. The dome of that glorious edifice, long the wonder and admiration of the Christian world, resounded with the cries of men, women, and children, of priests, of monks, and of nuns. But a short time before, Santa Sophia had been the scene of a furious outbreak of schismatic fanaticism, directed against a priest who had favoured the reunion of the Greeks with the Holy See. It now witnessed one of those scenes which can occur only when the victors are the followers of the foul creed of Mahomet. The barricaded doors were burst

open ;
the Turkish
conquerors

shed little or no blood, as there were none there to provoke it. Avarice and lust were their sole guiding passions. All alike, nobles and commoners, wives and maidens, the prelate and the nun, were seized, bound, taken possession of by the conquerors, and transferred to slavery and the horrors of the seraglio. The riches of the city were still very great; the gold and jewels, private possessions, and sacred vessels, were alike appropriated to the service of the Mussulman. Whatever Ma

. hometan ignorance despised, or Mahometan bigotry abhorred, was destroyed and burnt. Religious pictures and images, works of art and skill, and all the treasures of the Byzantine libraries, classical and Christian, were annihilated, saving only such few fragments as cupidity rescued from rage for the purposes of sale. The public buildings of every description were set aside by Mahomet for himself, and the high altar of Santa Sophia was defiled with the devotions of the bloody and impure creed of Islam.

Four centuries have now passed since that day; and the dullest observer can hardly fail to see that the hour of retribution is at length at hand. Constantinople, for ages the throne of the Mahometan religion, is about to be its grave. During eight centuries that creed advanced from victory to victory, triumphing with scarcely a reverse.

The holiest places of the East, the riches and the splendours of the bordersands between Europe and Asia, the wild Arab, the roving Tartar, the effeminate Greek, alike bowed before the Crescent, either as a slave or an adherent; and when Constantinople fell before Mahomet, and the conqueror entered the palace of the Cæsars as his own, and quoted the old Persian saying, “ The spider has woven his web in the royal palace, and the owl has hooted his song on the turrets of Afrasiab,” we can hardly doubt that the dreams of Constantine the Great were renewed in his meditations, and that he anticipated a deathless prosperity for his successors in the newly-acquired seat of empire.

Half the period which was needed to carry the Crescent from Mecca to Santa Sophia has sufficed to cloud its brightness with the gloom of approaching extinction. That bloody, lustful, unnatural, bigoted, and tyrannical faith, whose justice is the bowstring, whose tender mercies are the bastinado, whose house of penitence is the seraglio, and whose wisdom is the sword, is about to submit to the inevitable doom which awaits the enemies of the faith of Jesus Christ. Long has the day of recompense been delayed. From myriads of sufferers has the cry gone up for vengeance, apparently in vain. The hour is at last at hand; and it is permitted to us to hope, not merely that an utter overthrow will annihilate for ever the influence of the Koran in Turkey, but that the Cross will reign in undimmed lustre in its stead.

Engaged as we are at this moment in a war for the express purpose of upholding the integrity of the Turkish empire, the anticipations here expressed may at first sight seem inconsistent with facts, or, at the best, premature. Still less, it may be supposed, can such expectations be reconciled with a cordial desire for the success of the British arms in defence of the Mahometan Sultan and his subjects and possessions. A little reflection, however, we think, will show that, so far from there existing any opposition between our hopes for the future and our wishes for the present, they are in the strictest harmony; or rather, are essentially parts of one complete whole. The explanation of the seeming contradiction is to be found in a more exact statement of the object of the present war. We are not fighting for the Sultan, but against the Czar. The really formidable foe of Christianity in this age is not the creed of Mahomet, but that antichristian power which is personified by the Emperor of all the Russias.

We think that no greater practical mistake could be committed than that which would follow from a bare contrast between Russia as Christian, and Turkey as Mahometan. Whatever Russia may be by profession ; however near in many respects to the true faith of the Gospel; whatever may be the validity of the orders of her Church, and whatever the sacramental graces possessed by her people who are in invincible ignorance,-practically the Czar is a far more formidable

a foe than the Sultan. A man who would not scruple at murder is, abstractedly, a more dreadful enemy than one who would only swindle us or defame us; but when the willing

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