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masters of the trade, and even of part of the city. The Emperor Andronicus undertook to fortify Constantinople, but Bajazet sent him orders to demolish his works, and was obeyed,
-a presage of unavoidable and speedy ruin. The Christian princes were alarmed by the progress of the Turks; but it was no longer possible to inspire the European republics, distracted by wars, and restrained by calculating policy, with the generous fanaticism of the crusades; and at the Council of Florence, in 1439, the court and church of Constantinople had the mortification of sacrificing their long cherished faith, without experiencing any sensible return of protection or security. Their city was besieged by the Turks, and the Emperor Manuel Palæologus purchased a show of peace by an annual tribute of ten thousand pieces of gold, and a permission for the Turks to build a mosque and establish a cadi to administer justice, for the benefit of such of their nation as resided in Constantinople.
Mahomet the Second, by whose arms the last fatal blow was struck at the Greek empire, has been painted in different colors by his panegyrists and his enemies. He was unjust and cruel, like most conquerors, but he showed an elevation of soul and a degree of intellect which made some amends for these vices. He was a scholar, yet not redeemed from barbarism. With some taste for the liberal arts, or, at least, some sense of the value of their productions, he entertained a general contempt for their professors. He was a warrior and a politician in the most extensive meaning of the words, and as such he was truly great.
His early life was marked by two instances of uncommon mod
eration, in suffering his father to leave his retirement and again ascend the throne. Whether we consider the conception or the execution of his enterprises, we shall find equal cause to admire the extent of his understanding and the vigor of his spirit. At the head of a powerful army, and inflamed by the ambition of con. quest, he meditated the great design of subjugating that magnificent city, which was now the only remnant of the empire of Constantine the Great.
The Emperor John Palæologus was succeeded in 1449 by his son Constantine, a prince of courage, but whose capacity was unequal to the emergencies of the time, and who was destined to be the last monarch of his line. Aware of the designs of Mahomet, he took care to strengthen the fortifications of his capital, and he made many advances to the sultan in order to induce him to lay aside his project. But Mahomet's resolution was unalterably fixed, and his whole soul was absorbed in the design of making Constantinople the seat of his empire. If he sometimes appeared to listen to terms of accommodation, it was only that he might lull his enemy into security, while he carried on his military preparations with an unwearied assiduity. Early in 1452 he built a strong fortress on the Bosphorus, which the Greeks beheld with dismay. As yet the two nations were not at open war, but Constantine could not shut his eyes to the danger now directly impending over him; and he vainly strove by flattery and gifts to soften his implacable foe, who sought every occasion for a rupture. Hostilities could not long be deferred. The horses of the Turkish cavalry were turned into the cornfields of the Greeks, and, in a tu
multuous quarrel which this occasioned, several of both nations were slain. Mahomet, with eager joy, seized at once upon this pretext for a quarrel. A massacre of the Greek peasantry ensued, and the two nations were at war. Constantine saw that the last great strug. gle had arrived; but Mahomet, to strike the decisive blow with more effect, deferred the siege of Constantinople till the ensuing spring.
The Greeks and the Turks passed an anxious winter. The former were kept awake by their fears, the latter by their hopes; both, by the preparations of defence and attack; and the two monarchs, who had the most to lose or gain, were the most deeply affected by the national sentiment. In Mahomet, that sentiment was inflamed by the ardor of his youth and temper; he amused his leisure with building, at Adrianople, the lofty palace of Jehan Numa (the watch-tower of the world), but his serious thoughts were constantly bent on the conquest of the city of Cæsar. At the dead of night, he started from his bed, and commanded the instant attendance of his prime vizier. The message, the hour, and his own situation alarmed the guilty conscience of the officer, who had possessed the confidence, and advised the restoration, of Amurath, the father of Mahomet. On receiving the royal mandate, he embraced, perhaps for the last time, his wife and children, filled a cup with pieces of gold, hastened to the palace, adored the sultan, and offered, according to the Oriental custom, the slight tribute of his duty and gratitude. “ It is not my wish,” said Mahomet, “to resume my gifts, but rather to heap and multiply them on thy head ; in my turn, I ask a present far more valuable and important, - Constantinople." As soon as the vizier had recovered from his sur. prise, he replied, “ The God, who has already given thee so large a portion of the Roman empire, will not deny the remnant and the capital. His providence and thy power assure thy success; and myself, with the rest of thy faithful slaves, will sacrifice our lives and fortunes.' “Lala” (or preceptor), continued the sultan, “ do you see this pillow ? all night, in my agitation, I have pulled it on the one side and on the other; I have risen from my bed ; again have I laid down, yet sleep has not visited these weary eyes. Beware of the gold and silver of the Romans ; in arms we are superior ; and, with the aid of God, and the prayers of the Prophet, we shall speedily become masters of Constantinople."
To sound the disposition of his soldiers, Mahomet often wandered through the streets alone and in disguise; and it was fatal to discover the sultan when he wished to escape from the vulgar eye. His hours were spent in delineating the plan of the hostile city; in debating, with his generals and engineers, on what spot he should erect his batteries, on which side he should assault the walls, where he should spring his mines, to what place he should apply his scaling-ladders; and the exercise of the day repeated and proved the lucubrations of the night.
Among the implements of destruction, he studied with peculiar care the recent and important discovery of gunpowder, and his artillery surpassed whatever had yet appeared in the world. A founder of cannon, a Dane, or Hungarian, named Urban, who had been nople ? "
almost starved in the Greek service, deserted to the Moslems, and was liberally entertained by the sultan. Mahomet was satisfied with the answer to his first question, which he eagerly pressed on the artist, “ Am I able to cast a cannon capable of throwing a ball or stone of sufficient size to batter the walls of Constanti
“ I am not ignorant,” the artist replied, “ of their strength, but, were they more solid than those of Babylon, I could oppose an engine of superior power; the position and management of that engine must be left to your engineers.” On this assurance a foundery was established at Adrianople, the metal was prepared, and, at the end of three months, Urban produced a piece of brass ordnance of stupendous and almost in. credible magnitude ; it being capable of throwing a stone bullet weighing above six hundred pounds. A vacant place before the new palace was chosen for the first experiment; but, to prevent the sudden and mischievous effects of astonishment and fear, a proclamation was issued, that the cannon would be discharged the ensuing day. The explosion was felt or heard in the circuit of a hundred furlongs ; the ball was driven above a mile, and on the spot where it fell it buried itself a fathom deep in the ground. For the conveyance of this destructive engine, a frame or carriage of thirty wagons was linked together, and drawn by a team of sixty oxen; two hundred men on both sides were stationed to poise and support the rolling weight; two hundred and fifty workmen marched before to smooth the way and prepare the bridges; and near two months were employed in a laborious journey of one hundred and fifty miles. This enormous engine was flanked