WAVERLY NOVELS ABBOTSFORD EDITION
THE WAVERLY NOVELS,
BY SIR WALTER SCOTT.
COMPLETE IN TWELVE VOLUMES.
EMBRACING THE AUTHOR'S LAST CORRECTIONS, PREFACES, AND NOTES.
COUNT ROBERT OF PARIS—CASTLE DANGEROUS— MY AUNT MARGARET'S MIRROR, &c. &c.
Tales of my Landlord.
COUNT ROBERT OF PARIS.
The European with the Asian shore— Sophia's cupola with golden gleam The cypress groves—Olympus high and hoar— The twelve isles, and the more than I could dream, Far less describe, present the very view That charm'd the charming Mary Montagu. DON JUAN.
Sir Walter Scott transmitted from Naples, in February, 1832, an Introduction for CASTLE DANGEROUS; but if he ever wrote one for a second Edition of ROBERT OF PARIS, it has not been discovered among his papers. Some notes, chiefly extracts from the books which he had been observed to consult while dictating this novel, are now appended to its pages; and in addition to what the author had given in the shape of historical information respecting the principal real persons introduced, the reader is here presented with what may probably amuse him, the passage of the Alexiad, in which Anna Comnena describes the incident which originally, no doubt, determined Sir Walter's choice of a hero.
May, A.D. 1097.—"As for the multitude of those who advanced towards THE GREAT CITY, let it be enough to say that they were as the stars in the heaven, or as the sand upon the sea-shore. They were, in the words of Homer, as many as the leaves and flowers of spring. But for the names of the leaders, though they are present in my memory, I will not relate them. The numbers of these would alone deter me, even if my language furnished the means of expressing their barbarous sounds; and for what purpose should I afflict my readers with a long enumeration of the names of those, whose visible presence gave so much horror to all that beheld them?
"As soon, therefore, as they approached the Great City, they occupied the station appointed for them by the Emperor, near to the monastery of Cosmidius. But this multitude were not, like the Hellenic one of old, to be restrained and governed by the loud voices of nine heralds; they required the constant superintendence of chosen and valiant soldiers, to keep them from violating the commands of the Emperor.
"He, meantime, laboured to obtain from the other leaders that acknowledgment of his supreme authority, which had already been drawn from Godfrey [Greek: Gontophre] himself. But, notwithstanding the willingness of some to accede to this proposal, and their assistance in working on the minds of their associates, the Emperor's endeavours had little success, as the majority were looking for the arrival of Bohemund [Greek: Baimontos], in whom they placed their chief confidence, and resorted to every art with the view of gaining time. The Emperor, whom it was not easy to deceive, penetrated their motives; and by granting to one powerful person demands which had been supposed out of all bounds of expectation, and by resorting to a variety of other devices, he at length prevailed, and won general assent to the following of the example of Godfrey, who also was sent for in person to assist in this business.
"All, therefore, being assembled, and Godfrey among them, the oath was taken; but when all was finished, a certain Noble among these Counts had the audacity to seat himself on the throne of the Emperor. [Greek: Tolmaesas tis apo panton ton komaeton eugenaes eis ton skimpoda ton Basileos ekathisen.] The Emperor restrained himself and said nothing, for he was well acquainted of old with the nature of the Latins.
"But the Count Baldwin [Greek: Baldoninos] stepping forth, and seizing him by the hand, dragged him thence, and with many reproaches said, 'It becomes thee not to do such things here, especially after having taken the oath of fealty. [Greek: douleian haeposchomeno]. It is not the custom of the Roman Emperors to permit any of their inferiors to sit beside them, not even of such as are born subjects of their empire; and it is necessary to respect the customs of the country.' But he, answering nothing to Baldwin, stared yet more fixedly upon the Emperor, and muttered to himself something in his own dialect, which, being interpreted, was to this effect—'Behold, what rustic fellow [Greek: choritaes] is this, to be seated alone while such leaders stand around him!' The movement of his lips did not escape the Emperor, who called to him one that understood the Latin dialect, and enquired what words the man had spoken. When he heard them, the Emperor said nothing to the other Latins, but kept the thing to himself. When, however, the business was all over, he called near to him by himself that swelling and shameless Latin [Greek: hypsaelophrona ekeinon kai anaidae], and asked of him, who he was, of what lineage, and from what region he had come. 'I am a Frank,' said he, 'of pure blood, of the Nobles. One thing I know, that where three roads meet in the place from which I came, there is an ancient church, in which whosoever has the desire to measure himself against another in single combat, prays God to help him therein, and afterwards abides the coming of one willing to encounter him. At that spot long time did I remain, but the man bold enough to stand against me I found not.' Hearing these words the Emperor said, 'If hitherto thou hast sought battles in vain, the time is at hand which will furnish thee with abundance of them. And I advise thee to place thyself neither before the phalanx, nor in its rear, but to stand fast in the midst of thy fellow-soldiers; for of old time I am well acquainted with the warfare of the Turks.' With such advice he dismissed not only this man, but the rest of those who were about to depart on that expedition."—Alexiad, Book x. pp. 237, 238.
Ducange, as is mentioned in the novel, identifies the church, thus described by the crusader, with that of Our Lady of Soissons, of which a French poet of the days of Louis VII. says—
Veiller y vont encore li Pelerin Cil qui bataille veulent fere et fournir. DUCANGE in Alexiad, p. 86.
The Princess Anna Comnena, it may be proper to observe, was born on the first of December, A.D. 1083, and was consequently in her fifteenth year when the chiefs of the first crusade made their appearance in her father's court. Even then, however, it is not improbable that she might have been the wife of Nicephorus Bryennius, whom, many years after his death, she speaks of in her history as [Greek: ton emon Kaisara], and in other terms equally affectionate. The bitterness with which she uniformly mentions Bohemund, Count of Tarentum, afterwards Prince of Antioch, has, however, been ascribed to a disappointment in love; and on one remarkable occasion, the Princess certainly expressed great contempt of her husband. I am aware of no other authorities for the liberties taken with this lady's conjugal character in the novel.
Her husband, Nicephorus Bryennius, was the grandson of the person of that name, who figures in history as the rival, in a contest for the imperial throne, of Nicephorus Botoniates. He was, on his marriage with Anna Comnena, invested with the rank of Panhypersebastos, or Omnium Augustissimus; but Alexius deeply offended him, by afterwards recognising the superior and simpler dignity of a Sebastos. His eminent qualities, both in peace and war, are acknowledged by Gibbon: and he has left us four books of Memoirs, detailing the early part of his father-in-law's history, and valuable as being the work of an eye-witness of the most important events which he describes. Anna Comnena appears to have considered it her duty to take up the task which her husband had not lived to complete; and hence the Alexiad—certainly, with all its defects, the first historical work that has as yet proceeded from a female pen.
"The life of the Emperor Alexius," (says Gibbon,) "has been delineated by the pen of a favourite daughter, who was inspired by tender regard for his person, and a laudable zeal to perpetuate his virtues. Conscious of the just suspicion of her readers, the Princess repeatedly protests, that, besides her personal knowledge, she had searched the discourses and writings of the most respectable veterans; and that after an interval of thirty years, forgotten by, and forgetful of the world, her mournful solitude was inaccessible to hope and fear: that truth, the naked perfect truth, was more dear than the memory of her parent. Yet instead of the simplicity of style and narrative which wins our belief, an elaborate affectation of rhetoric and science betrays in every page the vanity of a female author. The genuine character of Alexius is lost in a vague constellation of virtues; and the perpetual strain of panegyric and apology awakens our jealousy, to question the veracity of the historian, and the merit of her hero. We cannot, however, refuse her judicious and important remark, that the disorders of the times were the misfortune and the glory of Alexius; and that every calamity which can afflict a declining empire was accumulated on his reign by the justice of Heaven and the vices of his predecessors. In the east, the victorious Turks had spread, from Persia to the Hellespont, the reign of the Koran and the Crescent; the west was invaded by the adventurous valour of the Normans; and, in the moments of peace, the Danube poured forth new swarms, who had gained in the science of war what they had lost in the ferociousness of their manners. The sea was not less hostile than the land; and, while the frontiers were assaulted by an open enemy, the palace was distracted with secret conspiracy and treason.
"On a sudden, the banner of the Cross was displayed by the Latins; Europe was precipitated on Asia; and Constantinople had almost been swept away by this impetuous deluge. In the tempest Alexius steered the Imperial vessel with dexterity and courage. At the head of his armies, he was bold in action, skilful in stratagem, patient of fatigue, ready to improve his advantages, and rising from his defeats with inexhaustible vigour. The discipline of the camp was reversed, and a new generation of men and soldiers was created by the precepts and example of their leader. In his intercourse with the Latins, Alexius was patient and artful; his discerning eye pervaded the new system of an unknown world.
"The increase of the male and female branches of his family adorned the throne, and secured the succession; but their princely luxury and pride offended the patricians, exhausted the revenue, and insulted the misery of the people. Anna is a faithful witness that his happiness was destroyed and his health broken by the cares of a public life; the patience of Constantinople was fatigued by the length and severity of his reign; and before Alexius expired, he had lost the love and reverence of his subjects. The clergy could not forgive his application of the sacred riches to the defence of the state; but they applauded his theological learning, and ardent zeal for the orthodox faith, which he defended with his tongue, his pen, and his sword. Even the sincerity of his moral and religious virtues was suspected by the persons who had passed their lives in his confidence. In his last hours, when he was pressed by his wife Irene to alter the succession, he raised his head, and breathed a pious ejaculation on the vanity of the world. The indignant reply of the Empress may be inscribed as an epitaph on his tomb,—'You die, as you have lived—a hypocrite.'
"It was the wish of Irene to supplant the eldest of her sons in favour of her daughter, the Princess Anna, whose philosophy would not have refused the weight of a diadem. But the order of male succession was asserted by the friends of their country; the lawful heir drew the royal signet from the finger of his insensible or conscious father, and the empire obeyed the master of the palace. Anna Comnena was stimulated by ambition and revenge to conspire against the life of her brother; and when the design was prevented by the fears or scruples of her husband, she passionately exclaimed that nature had mistaken the two sexes, and had endowed Bryennius with the soul of a woman. After the discovery of her treason, the life and fortune of Anna were justly forfeited to the laws. Her life was spared by the clemency of the Emperor, but he visited the pomp and treasures of her palace, and bestowed the rich confiscation on the most deserving of his friends."— History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, chap. xlviii.
The year of Anna's death is nowhere recorded. She appears to have written the Alexiad in a convent; and to have spent nearly thirty years in this retirement, before her book was published.
For accurate particulars of the public events touched on in Robert of Paris, the reader is referred to the above quoted author, chapters xlviii. xlix. and l.; and to the first volume of Mills' History of the Crusades.
J. G. L. London, 1st March, 1833.
JEDEDIAH CLEISHBOTHAM, A.M.
TO THE LOVING READER WISHETH HEALTH AND PROSPERITY.
It would ill become me, whose name has been spread abroad by those former collections bearing this title of "Tales of my Landlord," and who have, by the candid voice of a numerous crowd of readers, been taught to think that I merit not the empty fame alone, but also the more substantial rewards, of successful pencraft—it would, I say, ill become me to suffer this my youngest literary babe, and, probably at the same time, the last child of mine old age, to pass into the world without some such modest apology for its defects, as it has been my custom to put forth on preceding occasions of the like nature. The world has been sufficiently instructed, of a truth, that I am not individually the person to whom is to be ascribed the actual inventing or designing of the scheme upon which these Tales, which men have found so pleasing, were originally constructed, as also that neither am I the actual workman, who, furnished by a skilful architect with an accurate plan, including elevations and directions both general and particular, has from thence toiled to bring forth and complete the intended shape and proportion of each division of the edifice. Nevertheless, I have been indisputably the man, who, in placing my name at the head of the undertaking, have rendered myself mainly and principally responsible for its general success. When a ship of war goeth forth to battle with her crew, consisting of sundry foremast-men and various officers, such subordinate persons are not said to gain or lose the vessel which they have manned or attacked, (although each was natheless sufficiently active in his own department;) but it is forthwith bruited and noised abroad, without further phrase, that Captain Jedediah Cleishbotham hath lost such a seventy-four, or won that which, by the united exertions of all thereto pertaining, is taken from the enemy. In the same manner, shame and sorrow it were, if I, the voluntary Captain and founder of these adventures, after having upon three divers occasions assumed to myself the emolument and reputation thereof, should now withdraw myself from the risks of failure proper to this fourth and last out-going. No! I will rather address my associates in this bottom with the constant spirit of Matthew Prior's heroine:
"Did I but purpose to embark with thee On the smooth surface of some summer sea, But would forsake the waves, and make the shore, When the winds whistle, and the billows roar!"
As little, nevertheless, would it become my years and station not to admit without cavil certain errors which may justly be pointed out in these concluding "Tales of my Landlord,"—the last, and, it is manifest, never carefully revised or corrected handiwork, of Mr. Peter Pattison, now no more; the same worthy young man so repeatedly mentioned in these Introductory Essays, and never without that tribute to his good sense and talents, nay, even genius, which his contributions to this my undertaking fairly entitled him to claim at the hands of his surviving friend and patron. These pages, I have said, were the ultimus labor of mine ingenious assistant; but I say not, as the great Dr. Pitcairn of his hero—ultimus atque optitmis. Alas! even the giddiness attendant on a journey on this Manchester rail-road is not so perilous to the nerves, as that too frequent exercise in the merry-go- round of the ideal world, whereof the tendency to render the fancy confused, and the judgment inert, hath in all ages been noted, not only by the erudite of the earth, but even by many of the thick-witted Ofelli themselves; whether the rapid pace at which the fancy moveth in such exercitations, where the wish of the penman is to him like Prince Houssain's tapestry, in the Eastern fable, be the chief source of peril—or whether, without reference to this wearing speed of movement, and dwelling habitually in those realms of imagination, be as little suited for a man's intellect, as to breathe for any considerable space "the difficult air of the mountain top" is to the physical structure of his outward frame—this question belongeth not to me; but certain it is, that we often discover in the works of the foremost of this order of men, marks of bewilderment and confusion, such as do not so frequently occur in those of persons to whom nature hath conceded fancy weaker of wing, or less ambitious in flight.
It is affecting to see the great Miguel Cervantes himself, even like the sons of meaner men, defending himself against the critics of the day, who assailed him upon such little discrepancies and inaccuracies as are apt to cloud the progress even of a mind like his, when the evening is closing around it. "It is quite a common thing," says Don Quixote, "for men who have gained a very great reputation by their writings before they were printed, quite to lose it afterwards, or, at least, the greater part."—"The reason is plain," answers the Bachelor Carrasco; "their faults are more easily discovered after the books are printed, as being then more read, and more narrowly examined, especially if the author has been much cried up before, for then the severity of the scrutiny is sure to be the greater. Those who have raised themselves a name by their own ingenuity, great poets and celebrated historians, are commonly, if not always, envied by a set of men who delight in censuring the writings of others, though they could never produce any of their own."—"That is no wonder," quoth Don Quixote; "there are many divines that would make but very dull preachers, and yet are quick enough at finding faults and superfluities in other men's sermons."—"All this is true," says Carrasco, "and therefore I could wish such censurers would be more merciful and less scrupulous, and not dwell ungenerously upon small spots that are in a manner but so many atoms on the face of the clear sun they murmur at. If aliquando dormitat Homerus, let them consider how many nights he kept himself awake to bring his noble works to light as little darkened with defects as might be. But, indeed, it may many times happen, that what is censured for a fault, is rather an ornament, as moles often add to the beauty of a face. When all is said, he that publishes a book, runs a great risk, since nothing can be so unlikely as that he should have composed one capable of securing the approbation of every reader."—"Sure," says Don Quixote, "that which treats of me can have pleased but few?"—"Quite the contrary," says Carrasco; "for as infinitus est numerus stultorum, so an infinite number have admired your history. Only some there are who have taxed the author with want of memory or sincerity, because he forgot to give an account who it was that stole Sancho's Dapple, for that particular is not mentioned there, only we find, by the story, that it was stolen; and yet, by and by, we find him riding the same ass again, without any previous light given us into the matter. Then they say that the author forgot to tell the reader what Sancho did with the hundred pieces of gold he found in the portmanteau in the Sierra Morena, for there is not a word said of them more; and many people have a great mind to know what he did with them, and how he spent them; which is one of the most material points in which the work is defective."
How amusingly Sancho is made to clear up the obscurities thus alluded to by the Bachelor Carrasco—no reader can have forgotten; but there remained enough of similar lacunas, inadvertencies, and mistakes, to exercise the ingenuity of those Spanish critics, who were too wise in their own conceit to profit by the good-natured and modest apology of this immortal author.
There can be no doubt, that if Cervantes had deigned to use it, he might have pleaded also the apology of indifferent health, under which he certainly laboured while finishing the second part of "Don Quixote." It must be too obvious that the intervals of such a malady as then affected Cervantes, could not be the most favourable in the world for revising lighter compositions, and correcting, at least, those grosser errors and imperfections which each author should, if it were but for shame's sake, remove from his work, before bringing it forth into the broad light of day, where they will never fail to be distinctly seen, nor lack ingenious persons, who will be too happy in discharging the office of pointing them out.
It is more than time to explain with what purpose we have called thus fully to memory the many venial errors of the inimitable Cervantes, and those passages in which he has rather defied his adversaries than pleaded his own justification; for I suppose it will be readily granted, that the difference is too wide betwixt that great wit of Spain and ourselves, to permit us to use a buckler which was rendered sufficiently formidable only by the strenuous hand in which it was placed.
The history of my first publications is sufficiently well known. Nor did I relinquish the purpose of concluding these "Tales of my Landlord," which had been so remarkably fortunate; but Death, which steals upon us all with an inaudible foot, cut short the ingenious young man to whose memory I composed that inscription, and erected, at my own charge, that monument which protects his remains, by the side of the river Gander, which he has contributed so much to render immortal, and in a place of his own selection, not very distant from the school under my care. [Footnote: See Vol. II. of the present Edition, for some circumstances attending this erection.] In a word, the ingenious Mr. Pattison was removed from his place.
Nor did I confine my care to his posthumous fame alone, but carefully inventoried and preserved the effects which he left behind him, namely, the contents of his small wardrobe, and a number of printed books of somewhat more consequence, together with certain, wofully blurred manuscripts, discovered in his repository. On looking these over, I found them to contain two Tales called "Count Robert of Paris," and "Castle Dangerous;" but was seriously disappointed to perceive that they were by no means in that state of correctness, which would induce an experienced person to pronounce any writing, in the technical language of bookcraft, "prepared for press." There were not only hiatus valde deflendi, but even grievous inconsistencies, and other mistakes, which the penman's leisurely revision, had he been spared to bestow it, would doubtless have cleared away. After a considerate perusal, I no question flattered myself that these manuscripts, with all their faults, contained here and there passages, which seemed plainly to intimate that severe indisposition had been unable to extinguish altogether the brilliancy of that fancy which the world had been pleased to acknowledge in the creations of Old Mortality, the Bride of Lammermoor, and others of these narratives. But I, nevertheless, threw the manuscripts into my drawer, resolving not to think of committing them to the Ballantynian ordeal, until I could either obtain the assistance of some capable person to supply deficiencies, and correct errors, so as they might face the public with credit, or perhaps numerous and more serious avocations might permit me to dedicate my own time and labour to that task.
While I was in this uncertainty, I had a visit from a stranger, who was announced as a young gentleman desirous of speaking with me on particular business. I immediately augured the accession of a new boarder, but was at once checked by observing that the outward man of the stranger was, in a most remarkable degree, what mine host of the Sir William Wallace, in his phraseology, calls seedy. His black cloak had seen service; the waistcoat of grey plaid bore yet stronger marks of having encountered more than one campaign; his third piece of dress was an absolute veteran compared to the others; his shoes were so loaded with mud as showed his journey must have been pedestrian; and a grey maud, which fluttered around his wasted limbs, completed such an equipment as, since Juvenal's days, has been the livery of the poor scholar. I therefore concluded that I beheld a candidate for the vacant office of usher, and prepared to listen to his proposals with the dignity becoming my station; but what was my surprise when I found I had before me, in this rusty student, no less a man than Paul, the brother of Peter Pattison, come to gather in his brother's succession, and possessed, it seemed, with no small idea of the value of that part of it which consisted in the productions of his pen!
By the rapid study I made of him, this Paul was a sharp lad, imbued with some tincture of letters, like his regretted brother, but totally destitute of those amiable qualities which had often induced me to say within myself, that Peter was, like the famous John Gay,—
"In wit a man, simplicity a child."
He set little by the legacy of my deceased assistant's wardrobe, nor did the books hold much greater value in his eyes: but he peremptorily demanded to be put in possession of the manuscripts, alleging, with obstinacy, that no definite bargain had been completed between his late brother and me, and at length produced the opinion to that effect of a writer, or man of business,—a class of persons with whom I have always chosen to have as little concern as possible.
But I had one defence left, which came to my aid, tanquam deus ex machina. This rapacious Paul Pattison could not pretend to wrest the disputed manuscripts out of my possession, unless upon repayment of a considerable sum of money, which I had advanced from time to time to the deceased Peter, and particularly to purchase a small annuity for his aged mother. These advances, with the charges of the funeral and other expenses, amounted to a considerable sum, which the poverty- struck student and his acute legal adviser equally foresaw great difficulty in liquidating. The said Mr. Paul Pattison, therefore, listened to a suggestion, which I dropped as if by accident, that if he thought himself capable of filling his brother's place of carrying the work through the press, I would make him welcome to bed and board within my mansion while he was thus engaged, only requiring his occasional assistance at hearing the more advanced scholars. This seemed to promise a close of our dispute, alike satisfactory to all parties, and the first act of Paul was to draw on me for a round sum, under pretence that his wardrobe must be wholly refitted. To this I made no objection, though it certainly showed like vanity to purchase garments in the extremity of the mode, when not only great part of the defunct's habiliments were very fit for a twelvemonth's use, but as I myself had been, but yesterday as it were, equipped in a becoming new stand of black clothes, Mr. Pattison would have been welcome to the use of such of my quondam raiment as he thought suitable, as indeed had always been the case with his deceased brother.
The school, I must needs say, came tolerably on. My youngster was very smart, and seemed to be so active in his duty of usher, if I may so speak, that he even overdid his part therein, and I began to feel myself a cipher in my own school.
I comforted myself with the belief that the publication was advancing as fast as I could desire. On this subject, Paul Pattison, like ancient Pistol, "talked bold words at the bridge," and that not only at our house, but in the society of our neighbours, amongst whom, instead of imitating the retired and monastic manner of his brother deceased, he became a gay visitor, and such a reveller, that in process of time he was observed to vilipend the modest fare which had at first been esteemed a banquet by his hungry appetite, and thereby highly displeased my wife, who, with justice, applauds herself for the plentiful, cleanly, and healthy victuals, wherewith she maintains her ushers and boarders.
Upon the whole, I rather hoped than entertained a sincere confidence that all was going on well, and was in that unpleasant state of mind which precedes the open breach between two associates who have been long jealous of each other, but are as yet deterred by a sense of mutual interest from coming to an open rupture.
The first thing which alarmed me was a rumour in the village, that Paul Pattison intended, in some little space, to undertake a voyage to the Continent—on account of his health, as was pretended, but, as the same report averred, much more with the view of gratifying the curiosity which his perusal of the classics had impressed upon him, than for any other purpose. I was, I say, rather alarmed at this susurrus, and began to reflect that the retirement of Mr. Pattison, unless his loss could be supplied in good time, was like to be a blow to the establishment; for, in truth, this Paul had a winning way with the boys, especially those who were gentle-tempered; so that I must confess my doubts whether, in certain respects, I myself could have fully supplied his place in the school, with all my authority and experience. My wife, jealous as became her station, of Mr. Pattison's intentions, advised me to take the matter up immediately, and go to the bottom at once; and, indeed, I had always found that way answered best with my boys.
Mrs. Cleishbotham was not long before renewing the subject; for, like most of the race of Xantippe, (though my help-mate is a well-spoken woman,) she loves to thrust in her oar where she is not able to pull it to purpose. "You are a sharp-witted man, Mr. Cleishbotham," would she observe, "and a learned man, Mr. Cleishbotham—and the schoolmaster of Gandercleuch, Mr. Cleishbotham, which is saying all in one word; but many a man almost as great as yourself has lost the saddle by suffering an inferior to get up behind him' and though, with the world, Mr. Cleishbotham, you have the name of doing every thing, both in directing the school and in this new profitable book line which you have taken up, yet it begins to be the common talk of Gandercleuch, both up the water and down the water, that the usher both writes the dominie's books and teaches the dominie's school. Ay, ay, ask maid, wife, or widow, and she'll tell ye, the least gaitling among them all comes to Paul Pattison with his lesson as naturally as they come to me for their four-hours, puir things; and never ane things of applying to you aboot a kittle turn or a crabbed word, or about ony thing else, unless it were for licet exire, or the mending of an auld pen."
Now this address assailed me on a summer evening, when I was whiling away my leisure hours with the end of a cutty pipe and indulging in such bland imaginations as the Nicotian weed is wont to produce, more especially in the case of the studious persons, devoted musis severioribus. I was naturally loth to leave my misty sanctuary; and endeavoured to silence the clamour of Mrs. Cleishbotham's tongue, which has something in it peculiarly shrill and penetrating. "Woman," said I with a tone of domestic authority befitting the occasion, "res tuas agas;—mind your washings and your wringings, your stuffings and your physicking, or whatever concerns the outward persons of the pupils, and leave the progress of their education to my usher, Paul Pattison, and myself."
"I am glad to see," added the accursed woman, (that I should say so!) "that ye have the grace to name him foremost, for there is little doubt, that he ranks first of the troop, if ye wad but hear what the neighbours speak—or whisper."
"What do they whisper, thou sworn sister of the Eumenides?" cried I,— the irritating aestrum of the woman's objurgation totally counterbalancing the sedative effects both of pipe and pot.
"Whisper?" resumed she in her shrillest note—"why, they whisper loud enough for me at least to hear them, that the schoolmaster of Gandercleuch is turned a doited auld woman, and spends all his time in tippling strong drink with the keeper of the public-house, and leaves school and book-making, and a' the rost o't, to the care of his usher; and, also, the wives in Gandercleuch say, that you have engaged Paul Pattison to write a new book, which is to beat a' the lave that gaed afore it; and to show what a sair lift you have o' the job, you didna sae muckle as ken the name o't—no nor whether it was to be about some Heathen Greek, or the Black Douglas."
This was said with such bitterness that it penetrated to the very quick, and I hurled the poor old pipe, like one of Homer's spears, not in the face of my provoking helpmate, though the temptation was strong, but into the river Gander, which as is now well known to tourists from the uttermost parts of the earth, pursues its quiet meanders beneath the bank on which the school-house is pleasantly situated; and, starting up, fixed on my head the cocked hat, (the pride of Messrs. Grieve and Scott's repository,) and plunging into the valley of the brook, pursued my way upwards, the voice of Mrs. Cleishbotham accompanying me in my retreat with something like the angry scream of triumph with which the brood-goose pursues the flight of some unmannerly cur or idle boy who has intruded upon her premises, and fled before her. Indeed, so great was the influence of this clamour of scorn and wrath which hung upon my rear, that while it rung in my ears I was so moved that I instinctively tucked the skirts of my black coat under my arm, as if I had been in actual danger of being seized on by the grasp of the pursuing enemy. Nor was it till I had almost reached the well-known burial-place, in which it was Peter Pattison's hap to meet the far-famed personage called Old Mortality, that I made a halt for the purpose of composing my perturbed spirits, and considering what was to be done; for as yet my mind was agitated by a chaos of passions, of which anger was predominant; and for what reason, or against whom, I entertained such tumultuous displeasure, it was not easy for me to determine.
Nevertheless, having settled my cocked hat with becoming accuracy on my well-powdered wig, and suffered it to remain uplifted for a moment to cool my flushed brow—having, moreover, re-adjusted and shaken to rights the skirts of my black coat, I came into case to answer to my own questions, which, till these manoeuvres had been sedately accomplished, I might have asked myself in vain.
In the first place, therefore, to use the phrase of Mr. Docket, the writer (that is, the attorney) of our village of Gandercleuch, I became satisfied that my anger was directed against all and sundry, or, in law Latin, contre omnes mortales, and more particularly against the neighbourhood of Gandercleuch, for circulating reports to the prejudice of my literary talents, as well as my accomplishments as a pedagogue, and transferring the fame thereof to mine own usher. Secondly, against my spouse, Dorothea Cleishbotham, for transferring the sad calumnious reports to my ears in a prerupt and unseemly manner, and without due respect either to the language which she made use of, or the person to whom she spoke,—treating affairs in which I was so intimately concerned as if they were proper subjects for jest among gossips at a christening, where the womankind claim the privilege of worshipping the Bona Dea according to their secret female rites.
Thirdly, I became clear that I was entitled to respond to any whom it concerned to enquire, that my wrath was kindled against Paul Pattison, my usher, for giving occasion both for the neighbours of Gandercleuch entertaining such opinions, and for Mrs. Cleishbotham disrespectfully urging them to my face, since neither circumstance could have existed, without he had put forth sinful misrepresentations of transactions, private and confidential, and of which I had myself entirely refrained from dropping any the least hint to any third person.
This arrangement of my ideas having contributed to soothe the stormy atmosphere of which they had been the offspring, gave reason a time to predominate, and to ask me, with her calm but clear voice, whether, under all the circumstances, I did well to nourish so indiscriminate an indignation? In fine, on closer examination, the various splenetic thoughts I had been indulging against other parties, began to be merged in that resentment against my perfidious usher, which, like the serpent of Moses, swallowed up all subordinate objects of displeasure. To put myself at open feud with the whole of my neighbours, unless I had been certain of some effectual mode of avenging myself upon them, would have been an undertaking too weighty for my means, and not unlikely, if rashly grappled withal, to end in my ruin. To make a public quarrel with my wife, on such an account as her opinion of my literary accomplishments, would sound ridiculous: and, besides, Mrs. C. was sure to have all the women on her side, who would represent her as a wife persecuted by her husband for offering him good advice, and urging it upon him with only too enthusiastic sincerity.
There remained Paul Pattison, undoubtedly, the most natural and proper object of my indignation, since I might be said to have him in my own power, and might punish him by dismissal, at my pleasure. Yet even vindictive proceedings against the said Paul, however easy to be enforced, might be productive of serious consequences to my own purse; and I began to reflect, with anxiety, that in this world it is not often that the gratification of our angry passions lies in the same road with the advancement of our interest, and that the wise man, the vere sapiens, seldom hesitates which of these two he ought to prefer.
I recollected also that I was quite uncertain how far the present usher had really been guilty of the foul acts of assumption charged against him.
In a word, I began to perceive that it would be no light matter, at once, and without maturer perpending of sundry collateral punctiuncula, to break up a joint-stock adventure, or society, as civilians term it, which, if profitable to him, had at least promised to be no less so to me, established in years and learning and reputation so much his superior. Moved by which, and other the like considerations, I resolved to proceed with becoming caution on the occasion, and not, by stating my causes of complaint too hastily in the outset, exasperate into a positive breach what might only prove some small misunderstanding, easily explained or apologized for, and which, like a leak in a new vessel, being once discovered and carefully stopped, renders the vessel but more sea-worthy than it was before.
About the time that I had adopted this healing resolution, I reached the spot where the almost perpendicular face of a steep hill seems to terminate the valley, or at least divides it into two dells, each serving as a cradle to its own mountain-stream, the Gruff-quack, namely, and the shallower, but more noisy, Gusedub, on the left hand, which, at their union, form the Gander, properly so called. Each of these little valleys has a walk winding up to its recesses, rendered more easy by the labours of the poor during the late hard season, and one of which bears the name of Pattison's path, while the other had been kindly consecrated to my own memory, by the title of the Dominie's Daidling- bit. Here I made certain to meet my associate, Paul Pattison, for by one or other of these roads he was wont to return to my house of an evening, after his lengthened rambles.
Nor was it long before I espied him descending the Gusedub by that tortuous path, marking so strongly the character of a Scottish glen. He was easily distinguished, indeed, at some distance, by his jaunty swagger, in which he presented to you the flat of his leg, like the manly knave of clubs, apparently with the most perfect contentment, not only with his leg and boot, but with every part of his outward man, and the whole fashion of his garments, and, one would almost have thought, the contents of his pockets.
In this, his wonted guise, he approached me, where I was seated near the meeting of the waters, and I could not but discern, that his first impulse was to pass me without any prolonged or formal greeting. But as that would not have been decent, considering the terms on which we stood, he seemed to adopt, on reflection, a course directly opposite; bustled up to me with an air of alacrity, and, I may add, impudence; and hastened at once into the middle of the important affairs which it had been my purpose to bring under discussion in a manner more becoming their gravity. "I am glad to see you, Mr. Cleishbotham," said he, with an inimitable mixture of confusion and effrontery; "the most wonderful news which has been heard in the literary world in my time—all Gandercleuch rings with it—they positively speak of nothing else, from Miss Buskbody's youngest apprentice to the minister himself, and ask each other in amazement, whether the tidings are true or false—to be sure they are of an astounding complexion, especially to you and me."
"Mr. Pattison," said I, "I am quite at a loss to guess at your meaning. Davus sum, non Oedipus—I am Jedediah Cleishbotham, Schoolmaster of the parish of Gandercleuch; no conjuror, and neither reader of riddles, nor expounder of enigmata."
"Well," replied Paul Pattison, "Mr. Jedediah Cleishbotham, Schoolmaster of the parish of Gandercleuch, and so forth, all I have to inform you is, that our hopeful scheme is entirely blown up. The tales, on publishing which we reckoned with so much confidence, have already been printed; they are abroad, over all America, and the British papers are clamorous."
I received this news with the same equanimity with which I should have accepted a blow addressed to my stomach by a modern gladiator, with the full energy of his fist. "If this be correct information, Mr. Pattison," said I, "I must of necessity suspect you to be the person who have supplied the foreign press with the copy which the printers have thus made an unscrupulous use of, without respect to the rights of the undeniable proprietors of the manuscripts; and I request to know whether this American production embraces the alterations which you as well as I judged necessary, before the work could be fitted to meet the public eye?" To this my gentleman saw it necessary to make a direct answer, for my manner was impressive, and my tone decisive. His native audacity enabled him, however, to keep his ground, and he answered with firmness—
"Mr. Cleishbotham, in the first place, these manuscripts, over which you claim a very doubtful right, were never given to any one by me, and must have been sent to America either by yourself, or by some one of the various gentlemen to whom, I am well aware, you have afforded opportunities of perusing my brother's MS. remains."
"Mr. Pattison," I replied, "I beg to remind you that it never could be my intention, either by my own hands, or through those of another, to remit these manuscripts to the press, until, by the alterations which I meditated, and which you yourself engaged to make, they were rendered fit for public perusal."
Mr. Pattison answered me with much heat:—"Sir, I would have you to know, that if I accepted your paltry offer, it was with less regard to its amount, than to the honour and literary fame of my late brother. I foresaw that if I declined it, you would not hesitate to throw the task into incapable hands, or, perhaps, have taken it upon yourself, the most unfit of all men to tamper with the works of departed genius, and that, God willing, I was determined to prevent—but the justice of Heaven has taken the matter into its own hands. Peter Pattison's last labours shall now go down to posterity unscathed by the scalping-knife of alteration, in the hands of a false friend—shame on the thought that the unnatural weapon could ever be wielded by the hand of a brother!"
I heard this speech not without a species of vertigo or dizziness in my head, which would probably have struck me lifeless at his feet, had not a thought like that of the old ballad—
"Earl Percy sees my fall,"
called to my recollection, that I should only afford an additional triumph by giving way to my feelings in the presence of Mr. Paul Pattison, who, I could not doubt, must be more or less directly at the bottom of the Transatlantic publication, and had in one way or another found his own interest in that nefarious transaction.
To get quit of his odious presence I bid him an unceremonious good- night, and marched down the glen with the air not of one who has parted with a friend, but who rather has shaken off an intrusive companion. On the road I pondered the whole matter over with an anxiety which did not in the smallest degree tend to relieve me. Had I felt adequate to the exertion, I might, of course, have supplanted this spurious edition (of which the literary gazettes are already doling out copious specimens) by introducing into a copy, to be instantly published at Edinburgh, adequate correction of the various inconsistencies and imperfections which have already been alluded to. I remember the easy victory of the real second part of these "Tales of my Landlord" over the performance sent forth by an interloper under the same title; and why should not the same triumph be repeated now? There would, in short, have been a pride of talent in this manner of avenging myself, which would have been justifiable in the case of an injured man; but the state of my health has for some time been such as to render any attempt of this nature in every way imprudent.
Under such circumstances, the last "Remains" of Peter Pattison must even be accepted, as they were left in his desk; and I humbly retire in the hope that, such as they are, they may receive the indulgence of those who have ever been but too merciful to the productions of his pen, and in all respects to the courteous reader's obliged servant, J. C.
GANDERCLEUCH, 15th Oct. 1831.
COUNT ROBERT OF PARIS.
CHAPTER THE FIRST.
Leontius.———— That power that kindly spreads The clouds, a signal of impending showers, To warn the wandering linnet to the shade, Beheld without concern expiring Greece, And not one prodigy foretold our fate.
Demetrius. A thousand horrid prodigies foretold it: A feeble government, eluded laws, A factious populace, luxurious nobles, And all the maladies of sinking states. When public villany, too strong for justice, Shows his bold front, the harbinger of ruin, Can brave Leontius call for airy wonders, Which cheats interpret, and which fools regard? IRENE, Act I.
The close observers of vegetable nature have remarked, that when a new graft is taken from an aged tree, it possesses indeed in exterior form the appearance of a youthful shoot, but has in fact attained to the same state of maturity, or even decay, which has been reached by the parent stem. Hence, it is said, arises the general decline and death that about the same season is often observed to spread itself through individual trees of some particular species, all of which, deriving their vital powers from the parent stock, are therefore incapable of protracting their existence longer than it does.
In the same manner, efforts have been made by the mighty of the earth to transplant large cities, states, and communities, by one great and sudden exertion, expecting to secure to the new capital the wealth, the dignity, the magnificent decorations and unlimited extent of the ancient city, which they desire to renovate; while, at the same time, they hope to begin a new succession of ages from the date of the new structure, to last, they imagine, as long, and with as much fame, as its predecessor, which the founder hopes his new metropolis may replace in all its youthful glories. But nature has her laws, which seem to apply to the social, as well as the vegetable system. It appears to be a general rule, that what is to last long should be slowly matured and gradually improved, while every sudden effort, however gigantic, to bring about the speedy execution of a plan calculated to endure for ages, is doomed to exhibit symptoms of premature decay from its very commencement. Thus, in a beautiful Oriental tale, a dervise explains to the sultan how he had reared the magnificent trees among which they walked, by nursing their shoots from the seed; and the prince's pride is damped when he reflects, that those plantations, so simply raised, were gathering new vigour from each returning sun, while his own exhausted cedars, which had been transplanted by one violent effort, were drooping their majestic heads in the Valley of Orez. [Footnote: Tale of Mirglip the Persian, in the Tales of the Genii.]
It has been allowed, I believe, by all men of taste, many of whom have been late visitants of Constantinople, that if it were possible to survey the whole globe with a view to fixing a seat of universal empire, all who are capable of making such a choice, would give their preference to the city of Constantine, as including the great recommendations of beauty, wealth, security, and eminence. Yet with all these advantages of situation and climate, and with all the architectural splendour of its churches and halls, its quarries of marble, and its treasure-houses of gold, the imperial founder must himself have learned, that although he could employ all these rich materials in obedience to his own wish, it was the mind of man itself, those intellectual faculties refined by the ancients to the highest degree, which had produced the specimens of talent at which men paused and wondered, whether as subjects of art or of moral labour. The power of the Emperor might indeed strip other cities of their statues and their shrines, in order to decorate that which he had fixed upon as his new capital; but the men who had performed great actions, and those, almost equally esteemed, by whom such deeds were celebrated, in poetry, in painting, and in music, had ceased to exist. The nation, though still the most civilised in the world, had passed beyond that period of society, when the desire of fair fame is of itself the sole or chief motive for the labour of the historian or the poet, the painter or the statuary. The slavish and despotic constitution introduced into the empire, had long since entirely destroyed that public spirit which animated the free history of Rome, leaving nothing but feeble recollections, which produced no emulation.
To speak as of an animated substance, if Constantine could have regenerated his new metropolis, by transfusing into it the vital and vivifying principles of old Rome,—that brilliant spark no longer remained for Constantinople to borrow, or for Rome to lend.
In one most important circumstance, the state of the capital of Constantine had been totally changed, and unspeakably to its advantage. The world was now Christian, and, with the Pagan code, had got rid of its load of disgraceful superstition. Nor is there the least doubt, that the better faith produced its natural and desirable fruits in society, in gradually ameliorating the hearts, and taming the passions, of the people. But while many of the converts were turning meekly towards their new creed, some, in the arrogance of their understanding, were limiting the Scriptures by their own devices, and others failed not to make religious character or spiritual rank the means of rising to temporal power. Thus it happened at this critical period, that the effects of this great change in the religion of the country, although producing an immediate harvest, as well as sowing much good seed which was to grow hereafter, did not, in the fourth century, flourish so as to shed at once that predominating influence which its principles might have taught men to expect.
Even the borrowed splendour, in which Constantine decked his city, bore in it something which seemed to mark premature decay. The imperial founder, in seizing upon the ancient statues, pictures, obelisks, and works of art, acknowledged his own incapacity to supply their place with the productions of later genius; and when the world, and particularly Rome, was plundered to adorn Constantinople, the Emperor, under whom the work was carried on, might be compared to a prodigal youth, who strips an aged parent of her youthful ornaments, in order to decorate a flaunting paramour, on whose brow all must consider them as misplaced.
Constantinople, therefore, when in 324 it first arose in imperial majesty out of the humble Byzantium, showed, even in its birth, and amid its adventitious splendour, as we have already said, some intimations of that speedy decay to which the whole civilised world, then limited within the Roman empire, was internally and imperceptibly tending. Nor was it many ages ere these prognostications of declension were fully verified.
In the year 1080, Alexius Comnenus [Footnote: See Gibbon, Chap. xlviii, for the origin and early history of the house of the Comneni.] ascended the throne of the Empire; that is, he was declared sovereign of Constantinople, its precincts and dependencies; nor, if he was disposed to lead a life of relaxation, would the savage incursions of the Scythians or the Hungarians frequently disturb the imperial slumbers, if limited to his own capital. It may be supposed that this safety did not extend much farther; for it is said that the Empress Pulcheria had built a church to the Virgin Mary, as remote as possible from the gate of the city, to save her devotions from the risk of being interrupted by the hostile yell of the barbarians, and the reigning Emperor had constructed a palace near the same spot, and for the same reason.
Alexius Comnenus was in the condition of a monarch who rather derives consequence from the wealth and importance of his predecessors, and the great extent of their original dominions, than from what remnants of fortune had descended to the present generation. This Emperor, except nominally, no more ruled over his dismembered provinces, than a half- dead horse can exercise power over those limbs, on which the hooded crow and the vulture have already begun to settle and select their prey.
In different parts of his territory, different enemies arose, who waged successful or dubious war against the Emperor; and, of the numerous nations with whom he was engaged in hostilities, whether the Franks from the west, the Turks advancing from the east, the Cumans and Scythians pouring their barbarous numbers and unceasing storm of arrows from the north, and the Saracens, or the tribes into which they were divided, pressing from the south, there was not one for whom the Grecian empire did not spread a tempting repast. Each of these various enemies had their own particular habits of war, and a way of manoeuvring in battle peculiar to themselves. But the Roman, as the unfortunate subject of the Greek empire was still called, was by far the weakest, the most ignorant, and most timid, who could be dragged into the field; and the Emperor was happy in his own good luck, when he found it possible to conduct a defensive war on a counterbalancing principle, making use of the Scythian to repel the Turk, or of both these savage people to drive back the fiery-footed Frank, whom Peter the Hermit had, in the time of Alexius, waked to double fury, by the powerful influence of the crusades.
If, therefore, Alexius Comnenus was, during his anxious seat upon the throne of the East, reduced to use a base and truckling course of policy—if he was sometimes reluctant to fight when he had a conscious doubt of the valour of his troops—if he commonly employed cunning and dissimulation instead of wisdom, and perfidy instead of courage—his expedients were the disgrace of the age, rather than his own.
Again, the Emperor Alexius may be blamed for affecting a degree of state which was closely allied to imbecility. He was proud of assuming in his own person, and of bestowing upon others, the painted show of various orders of nobility, even now, when the rank within the prince's gift was become an additional reason for the free barbarian despising the imperial noble. That the Greek court was encumbered with unmeaning ceremonies, in order to make amends for the want of that veneration which ought to have been called forth by real worth, and the presence of actual power, was not the particular fault of that prince, but belonged to the system of the government of Constantinople for ages. Indeed, in its trumpery etiquette, which provided rules for the most trivial points of a man's behaviour during the day, the Greek empire resembled no existing power in its minute follies, except that of Pekin; both, doubtless, being influenced by the same vain wish, to add seriousness and an appearance of importance to objects, which, from their trivial nature, could admit no such distinction.
Yet thus far we must justify Alexius, that humble as were the expedients he had recourse to, they were more useful to his empire than the measures of a more proud and high-spirited prince might have proved in the same circumstances. He was no champion to break a lance against the breast-plate of his Frankish rival, the famous Bohemond of Antioch,[Footnote: Bohemond, son of Robert Guiscard, the Norman conqueror of Apulia, Calabria, and Sicily, was, at the time when the first crusade began, Count of Tarentum. Though far advanced in life, he eagerly joined the expedition of the Latins, and became Prince of Antioch. For details of his adventures, death, and extraordinary character, see Gibbon, chap. lix, and Mills' History of the Crusades, vol. i.] but there were many occasions on which he hazarded his life freely; and, so far as we can see, from a minute perusal of his achievements, the Emperor of Greece was never so dangerous "under shield," as when any foeman desired to stop him while retreating from a conflict in which he had been worsted.
But, besides that he did not hesitate, according to the custom of the time, at least occasionally, to commit his person to the perils of close combat, Alexius also possessed such knowledge of a general's profession, as is required in our modern days. He knew how to occupy military positions to the best advantage, and often covered defeats, or improved dubious conflicts, in a manner highly to the disappointment of those who deemed that the work of war was done only on the field of battle.
If Alexius Comnenus thus understood the evolutions of war, he was still better skilled in those of politics, where, soaring far above the express purpose of his immediate negotiation, the Emperor was sure to gain some important and permanent advantage; though very often he was ultimately defeated by the unblushing fickleness, or avowed treachery of the barbarians, as the Greeks generally termed all other nations, and particularly those tribes, (they can hardly be termed states,) by which their own empire was surrounded.
We may conclude our brief character of Comnenus, by saying, that, had he not been called on to fill the station of a monarch who was under the necessity of making himself dreaded, as one who was exposed to all manner of conspiracies, both in and out of his own family, he might, in all probability, have been regarded as an honest and humane prince. Certainly he showed himself a good-natured man, and dealt less in cutting off heads and extinguishing eyes, than had been the practice of his predecessors, who generally took this method of shortening the ambitious views of competitors.
It remains to be mentioned, that Alexius had his full share of the superstition of the age, which he covered with a species of hypocrisy. It is even said, that his wife, Irene, who of course was best acquainted with the real character of the Emperor, taxed her dying husband with practising, in his last moments, the dissimulation which had been his companion during life. [Footnote: See Gibbon, chap. lvi.] He took also a deep interest in all matters respecting the Church, where heresy, which the Emperor held, or affected to hold, in great horror, appeared to him to lurk. Nor do we discover in his treatment of the Manichaeans, or Paulicians, that pity for their speculative errors, which modern times might think had been well purchased by the extent of the temporal services of these unfortunate sectaries. Alexius knew no indulgence for those who misinterpreted the mysteries of the Church, or of its doctrines; and the duty of defending religion against schismatics was, in his opinion, as peremptorily demanded from him, as that of protecting the empire against the numberless tribes of barbarians who were encroaching on its boundaries on every side.
Such a mixture of sense and weakness, of meanness and dignity, of prudent discretion and poverty of spirit, which last, in the European mode of viewing things, approached to cowardice, formed the leading traits of the character of Alexius Comnenus, at a period when the fate of Greece, and all that was left in that country of art and civilization, was trembling in the balance, and likely to be saved or lost, according to the abilities of the Emperor for playing the very difficult game which was put into his hands.
These few leading circumstances will recall, to any one who is tolerably well read in history, the peculiarities of the period at which we have found a resting-place for the foundation of our story.
CHAPTER THE SECOND.
Othus. ——————- This superb successor Of the earth's mistress, as thou vainly speakest, Stands midst these ages as, on the wide ocean, The last spared fragment, of a spacious land, That in some grand and awful ministration Of mighty nature has engulfed been, Doth lift aloft its dark and rocky cliffs O'er the wild waste around, and sadly frowns In lonely majesty. CONSTANTINE PALEOLOGUS, Scene I.
Our scene in the capital of the Eastern Empire opens at what is termed the Golden Gate of Constantinople; and it may be said in passing, that this splendid epithet is not so lightly bestowed as may be expected from the inflated language of the Greeks, which throws such an appearance of exaggeration about them, their buildings, and monuments.
The massive, and seemingly impregnable walls with which Constantine surrounded the city, were greatly improved and added to by Theodosius, called the Great. A triumphal arch, decorated with the architecture of a better, though already a degenerate age, and serving, at the same time, as a useful entrance, introduced the stranger into the city. On the top, a statue of bronze represented Victory, the goddess who had inclined the scales of battle in favour of Theodosius; and, as the artist determined to be wealthy if he could not be tasteful, the gilded ornaments with which the inscriptions were set off, readily led to the popular name of the gate. Figures carved in a distant and happier period of the art, glanced from the walls, without assorting happily with the taste in which these were built. The more modern ornaments of the Golden Gate bore, at the period of our story, an aspect very different from those indicating the "conquest brought back to the city," and the "eternal peace" which the flattering inscriptions recorded as having been extorted by the sword of Theodosius. Four or five military engines, for throwing darts of the largest size, were placed upon the summit of the arch; and what had been originally designed as a specimen of architectural embellishment, was now applied to the purposes of defence.
It was the hour of evening, and the cool and refreshing breeze from the sea inclined each passenger, whose business was not of a very urgent description, to loiter on his way, and cast a glance at the romantic gateway, and the various interesting objects of nature and art, which the city of Constantinople presented, as well to the inhabitants as to strangers. [Footnote: The impression which the imperial city was calculated to make on such visitors as the Crusaders of the West, is given by the ancient French chronicler Villehardouin, who was present at the capture of A. D. 1203. "When we had come," he says, "within three leagues, to a certain Abbey, then we could plainly survey Constantinople. There the ships and the galleys came to anchor; and much did they who had never been in that quarter before, gaze upon the city. That such a city could be in the world they had never conceived, and they were never weary of staring at the high walls and towers with which it was entirely encompassed, the rich palaces and lofty churches, of which there were so many that no one could have believed it, if he had not seen with his own eyes that city, the Queen of all cities. And know that there was not so bold a heart there, that it did not feel some terror at the strength of Constantinople."—Chap. 66.
Again,—"And now many of those of the host went to see Constantinople within, and the rich palaces and stately churches, of which it possesses so many, and the riches of the place, which are such as no other city ever equalled. I need not speak of the sanctuaries, which are as many as are in all the world beside."—Chap. 100.]
One individual, however, seemed to indulge more wonder and curiosity than could have been expected from a native of the city, and looked upon the rarities around with a quick and startled eye, that marked an imagination awakened by sights that were new and strange. The appearance of this person bespoke a foreigner of military habits, who seemed, from his complexion, to have his birthplace far from the Grecian metropolis, whatever chance had at present brought him to the Golden Gate, or whatever place he filled in the Emperor's service.
This young man was about two-and-twenty years old, remarkably finely- formed and athletic—qualities well understood by the citizens of Constantinople, whose habits of frequenting the public games had taught them at least an acquaintance with the human person, and where, in the select of their own countrymen, they saw the handsomest specimens of the human race.
These were, however, not generally so tall as the stranger at the Golden Gate, while his piercing blue eyes, and the fair hair which descended from under a light helmet gaily ornamented with silver, bearing on its summit a crest resembling a dragon in the act of expanding his terrible jaws, intimated a northern descent, to which the extreme purity of his complexion also bore witness. His beauty, however, though he was eminently distinguished both in features and in person, was not liable to the charge of effeminacy. From this it was rescued, both by his strength, and by the air of confidence and self-possession with which the youth seemed to regard the wonders around him, not indicating the stupid and helpless gaze of a mind equally inexperienced, and incapable of receiving instruction, but expressing the bold intellect which at once understands the greater part of the information which it receives, and commands the spirit to toil in search of the meaning of that which it has not comprehended, or may fear it has misinterpreted. This look of awakened attention and intelligence gave interest to the young barbarian; and while the bystanders were amazed that a savage from some unknown or remote corner of the universe should possess a noble countenance bespeaking a mind so elevated, they respected him for the composure with which he witnessed so many things, the fashion, the splendour, nay, the very use of which, must have been recently new to him.
The young man's personal equipments exhibited a singular mixture of splendour and effeminacy, and enabled the experienced spectators to ascertain his nation, and the capacity in which he served. We have already mentioned the fanciful and crested helmet, which was a distinction of the foreigner, to which the reader must add in his imagination a small cuirass, or breastplate of silver, so sparingly fashioned as obviously to afford little security to the broad chest, on which it rather hung like an ornament than covered as a buckler; nor, if a well-thrown dart, or strongly-shod arrow, should alight full on this rich piece of armour, was there much hope that it could protect the bosom which it partially shielded.
From betwixt the shoulders hung down over the back what had the appearance of a bearskin; but, when more closely examined, it was only a very skilful imitation, of the spoils of the chase, being in reality a surcoat composed of strong shaggy silk, so woven as to exhibit, at a little distance, no inaccurate representation of a bear's hide. A light crooked sword, or scimitar, sheathed in a scabbard of gold and ivory, hung by the left side of the stranger, the ornamented hilt of which appeared much too small for the large-jointed hand of the young Hercules who was thus gaily attired. A dress, purple in colour, and setting close to the limbs, covered the body of the soldier to a little above the knee; from thence the knees and legs were bare to the calf, to which the reticulated strings of the sandals rose from the instep, the ligatures being there fixed by a golden coin of the reigning Emperor, converted into a species of clasp for the purpose.
But a weapon which seemed more particularly adapted to the young barbarian's size, and incapable of being used by a man of less formidable limbs and sinews, was a battle-axe, the firm iron-guarded staff of which was formed of tough elm, strongly inlaid and defended with brass, while many a plate and ring were indented in the handle, to hold the wood and the steel parts together. The axe itself was composed of two blades, turning different ways, with a sharp steel spike projecting from between them. The steel part, both spike and blade, was burnished as bright as a mirror; and though its ponderous size must have been burdensome to one weaker than himself, yet the young soldier carried it as carelessly along, as if it were but a feather's weight. It was, indeed, a skilfully constructed weapon, so well balanced, that it was much lighter in striking and in recovery, than he who saw it in the hands of another could easily have believed.
The carrying arms of itself showed that the military man was a stranger. The native Greeks had that mark of a civilized people, that they never bore weapons during the time of peace, unless the wearer chanced to be numbered among those whose military profession and employment required them to be always in arms. Such soldiers by profession were easily distinguished from the peaceful citizens; and it was with some evident show of fear as well as dislike, that the passengers observed to each other, that the stranger was a Varangian, an expression which intimated a barbarian of the imperial body-guard.
To supply the deficiency of valour among his own subjects, and to procure soldiers who should be personally dependent on the Emperor, the Greek sovereigns had been, for a great many years, in the custom of maintaining in their pay, as near their person as they could, the steady services of a select number of mercenaries in the capacity of body-guards, which were numerous enough, when their steady discipline and inflexible loyalty were taken in conjunction with their personal strength and indomitable courage, to defeat, not only any traitorous attempt on the imperial person, but to quell open rebellions, unless such were supported by a great proportion of the military force. Their pay was therefore liberal; their rank and established character for prowess gave them a degree of consideration among the people, whose reputation for valour had not for some ages stood high; and if, as foreigners, and the members of a privileged body, the Varangians were sometimes employed in arbitrary and unpopular services, the natives were so apt to fear, while they disliked them, that the hardy strangers disturbed themselves but little about the light in which they were regarded by the inhabitants of Constantinople. Their dress and accoutrements, while within the city, partook of the rich, or rather gaudy costume, which we have described, bearing only a sort of affected resemblance to that which the Varangians wore in their native forests. But the individuals of this select corps were, when their services were required beyond the city, furnished with armour and weapons more resembling those which they were accustomed to wield in their own country, possessing much less of the splendour of war, and a far greater portion of its effective terrors; and thus they were summoned to take the field.
This body of Varangians (which term is, according to one interpretation merely a general expression for barbarians) was, in an early age of the empire, formed of the roving and piratical inhabitants of the north, whom a love of adventure, the greatest perhaps that ever was indulged, and a contempt of danger, which never had a parallel in the history of human nature, drove forth upon the pathless ocean. "Piracy," says Gibbon, with his usual spirit, "was the exercise, the trade, the glory, and the virtue of the Scandinavian youth. Impatient of a bleak climate and narrow limits, they started from the banquet, grasped their arms, sounded their horn, ascended their ships, and explored every coast that promised either spoil or settlement." [Footnote: Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Chap. lv. vol. x. p. 221, 8vo edition.]
The conquests made in France and Britain by these wild sea-kings, as they were called, have obscured the remembrance of other northern champions, who, long before the time of Comnenus, made excursions as far as Constantinople, and witnessed with their own eyes the wealth and the weakness of the Grecian empire itself. Numbers found their way thither through the pathless wastes of Russia; others navigated the Mediterranean in their sea-serpents, as they termed their piratical vessels. The Emperors, terrified at the appearance of these daring inhabitants of the frozen zone, had recourse to the usual policy of a rich and unwarlike people, bought with gold the service of their swords, and thus formed a corps of satellites more distinguished for valour than the famed Praetorian Bands of Rome, and, perhaps because fewer in number, unalterably loyal to their new princes.
But, at a later period of the empire, it began to be more difficult for the Emperors to obtain recruits for their favourite and selected corps, the northern nations having now in a great measure laid aside the piratical and roving habits, which had driven their ancestors from the straits of Elsinore to those of Sestos and Abydos. The corps of the Varangians must therefore have died out, or have been filled up with less worthy materials, had not the conquests made by the Normans in the far distant west, sent to the aid of Comnenus a large body of the dispossessed inhabitants of the islands of Britain, and particularly of England, who furnished recruits to his chosen body-guard. These were, in fact, Anglo-Saxons; but, in the confused idea of geography received at the court of Constantinople, they were naturally enough called Anglo-Danes, as their native country was confounded with the Thule of the ancients, by which expression the archipelago of Zetland and Orkney is properly to be understood, though, according to the notions of the Greeks, it comprised either Denmark or Britain. The emigrants, however, spoke a language not very dissimilar to the original Varangians, and adopted the name more readily, that it seemed to remind them of their unhappy fate, the appellation being in one sense capable of being interpreted as exiles. Excepting one or two chief commanders, whom the Emperor judged worthy of such high trust, the Varangians were officered by men of their own nation; and with so many privileges, being joined by many of their countrymen from time to time, as the crusades, pilgrimages, or discontent at home, drove fresh supplies of the Anglo- Saxons, or Anglo-Danes, to the east, the Varangians subsisted in strength to the last days of the Greek empire, retaining their native language, along with the unblemished loyalty, and unabated martial spirit, which characterised their fathers.
This account of the Varangian Guard is strictly historical, and might be proved by reference to the Byzantine historians; most of whom, and also Villehardouin's account of the taking of the city of Constantinople by the Franks and Venetians, make repeated mention of this celebrated and singular body of Englishmen, forming a mercenary guard attendant on the person of the Greek Emperors. [Footnote: Ducange has poured forth a tide of learning on this curious subject, which will be found in his Notes on Villehardouin's Constantinople under the French Emperors.—Paris, 1637, folio, p. 196. Gibbon's History may also be consulted, vol. x. p. 231.
Villehardouin, in describing the siege of Constantinople, A. D. 1203, says, "'Li murs fu mult garnis d'Anglois et de Danois,"—hence the dissertation of Ducange here quoted, and several articles besides in his Glossarium, as Varangi, Warengangi, &c. The etymology of the name is left uncertain, though the German fort-ganger, i. e. forth-goer, wanderer, exile, seems the most probable. The term occurs in various Italian and Sicilian documents, anterior to the establishment of the Varangian Guards at Constantinople, and collected by Muratori: as, for instance, in an edict of one of the Lombard kings, "Omnes Warengrangi, qui de extens finibus in regni nostri finibus advenerint seque sub scuto potestatis nostrae subdiderint, legibus nostris Longobardorum vivere debeant,"—and in another, "De Warengangis, nobilibus, mediocribus, et rusticis hominibus, qui usque nune in terra vestra fugiti sunt, habeatis eos."—Muratori, vol. ii. p. 261.
With regard to the origin of the Varangian Guard, the most distinct testimony is that of Ordericus Vittalis, who says, "When therefore the English had lost their liberty, they turned themselves with zeal to discover the means of throwing off the unaccustomed yoke. Some fled to Sueno, King of the Danes, to excite him to the recovery of the inheritance of his grandfather, Canute. Not a few fled into exile in other regions, either from the mere desire of escaping from under the Norman rule, or in the hope of acquiring wealth, and so being one day in a condition to renew the struggle at home. Some of these, in the bloom of youth, penetrated into a far distant land, and offered themselves to the military service of the Constantinopolitan Emperor— that wise prince, against whom Robert Guiscard, Duke of Apulia, had then raised all his forces. The English exiles were favourably received, and opposed in battle to the Normans, for whose encounter the Greeks themselves were too weak. Alexius began to build a town for the English, a little above Constantinople, at a place called Chevelot, but the trouble of the Normans from Sicily still increasing, he soon recalled them to the capital, and intrusted the princial palace with all its treasures to their keeping. This was the method in which the Saxon English found their way to Ionia, where they still remain, highly valued by the Emperor and the people."—Book iv. p. 508.]
Having said enough to explain why an individual Varangian should be strolling about the Golden Gate, we may proceed in the story which we have commenced.
Let it not be thought extraordinary, that this soldier of the life- guard should be looked upon with some degree of curiosity by the passing citizens. It must be supposed, that, from their peculiar duties, they were not encouraged to hold frequent intercourse or communication with the inhabitants; and, besides that they had duties of police occasionally to exercise amongst them, which made them generally more dreaded than beloved, they were at the same time conscious, that their high pay, splendid appointments, and immediate dependence on the Emperor, were subjects of envy to the other forces. They, therefore, kept much in the neighbourhood of their own barracks, and were seldom seen straggling remote from them, unless they had a commission of government intrusted to their charge.
This being the case, it was natural that a people so curious as the Greeks should busy themselves in eyeing the stranger as he loitered in one spot, or wandered to and fro, like a man who either could not find some place which he was seeking, or had failed to meet some person with whom he had an appointment, for which the ingenuity of the passengers found a thousand different and inconsistent reasons. "A Varangian," said one citizen to another, "and upon duty—ahem! Then I presume to say in your ear"——
"What do you imagine is his object?" enquired the party to whom this information was addressed.
"Gods and goddesses! do you think I can tell you? but suppose that he is lurking here to hear what folk say of the Emperor," answered the quid-nunc of Constantinople.
"That is not likely,"' said the querist; "these Varangians do not speak our language, and are not extremely well fitted for spies, since few of them pretend to any intelligible notion of the Grecian tongue. It is not likely, I think, that the Emperor would employ as a spy a man who did not understand the language of the country."
"But if there are, as all men fancy," answered the politician, "persons among these barbarian soldiers who can speak almost all languages, you will admit that such are excellently qualified for seeing clearly around them, since they possess the talent of beholding and reporting, while no one has the slightest idea of suspecting them."
"It may well be," replied his companion; "but since we see so clearly the fox's foot and paws protruding from beneath the seeming sheep's fleece, or rather, by your leave, the bear's hide yonder, had we not better be jogging homeward, ere it be pretended we have insulted a Varangian Guard?"
This surmise of danger insinuated by the last speaker, who was a much older and more experienced politician than his friend, determined both on a hasty retreat. They adjusted their cloaks, caught hold of each other's arm, and, speaking fast and thick as they started new subjects of suspicion, they sped, close coupled together, towards their habitations, in a different and distant quarter of the town.
In the meantime, the sunset was nigh over; and the long shadows of the walls, bulwarks, and arches, were projecting from the westward in deeper and blacker shade. The Varangian seemed tired of the short and lingering circle in which he had now trodden for more than an hour, and in which he still loitered like an unliberated spirit, which cannot leave the haunted spot till licensed by the spell which has brought it hither. Even so the barbarian, casting an impatient glance to the sun, which was setting in a blaze of light behind a rich grove of cypress- trees, looked for some accommodation on the benches of stone which were placed under shadow of the triumphal arch of Theodosius, drew the axe, which was his principal weapon, close to his side, wrapped his cloak about him, and, though his dress was not in other respects a fit attire for slumber, any more than the place well selected for repose, yet in less than three minutes he was fast asleep. The irresistible impulse which induced him to seek for repose in a place very indifferently fitted for the purpose, might be weariness consequent upon the military vigils, which had proved a part of his duty on the preceding evening. At the same time, his spirit was so alive within him, even while he gave way to this transient fit of oblivion, that he remained almost awake even with shut eyes, and no hound ever seemed to sleep more lightly than our Anglo-Saxon at the Golden Gate of Constantinople.
And now the slumberer, as the loiterer had been before, was the subject of observation to the accidental passengers. Two men entered the porch in company. One was a somewhat slight made, but alert-looking man, by name Lysimachus, and by profession a designer. A roll of paper in his hand, with a little satchel containing a few chalks, or pencils, completed his stock in trade; and his acquaintance with the remains of ancient art gave him a power of talking on the subject, which unfortunately bore more than due proportion to his talents of execution. His companion, a magnificent-looking man in form, and so far resembling the young barbarian, but more clownish and peasant-like in the expression of his features, was Stephanos the wrestler, well known in the Palestra.
"Stop here, my friend," said the artist, producing his pencils, "till I make a sketch for my youthful Hercules."
"I thought Hercules had been a Greek," said the wrestler. "This sleeping animal is a barbarian."
The tone intimated some offence, and the designer hastened to soothe the displeasure which he had thoughtlessly excited. Stephanos, known by the surname of Castor, who was highly distinguished for gymnastic exercises, was a sort of patron to the little artist, and not unlikely by his own reputation to bring the talents of his friend into notice.
"Beauty and strength," said the adroit artist, "are of no particular nation; and may our Muse never deign me her prize, but it is my greatest pleasure to compare them, as existing in the uncultivated savage of the north, and when they are found in the darling of an enlightened people, who has added the height of gymnastic skill to the most distinguished natural qualities, such as we can now only see in the works of Phidias and Praxiteles—or in our living model of the gymnastic champions of antiquity."
"Nay, I acknowledge that the Varangian is a proper man," said the athletic hero, softening his tone; "but the poor savage hath not, perhaps, in his lifetime, had a single drop of oil on his bosom! Hercules instituted the Isthmian Games"—-
"But hold! what sleeps he with, wrapt so close in his bear-skin?" said the artist. "Is it a club?"
"Away, away, my friend!" cried Stephanos, as they looked closer on the sleeper. "Do you not know that is the instrument of their barbarous office? They do not war with swords or lances, as if destined to attack men of flesh and blood; but with maces and axes, as if they were to hack limbs formed of stone, and sinews of oak. I will wager my crown [of withered parsley] that he lies here to arrest some distinguished commander who has offended the government! He would not have been thus formidably armed otherwise—Away, away, good Lysimachus; let us respect the slumbers of the bear."
So saying, the champion of the Palestra made off with less apparent confidence than his size and strength might have inspired.
Others, now thinly straggling, passed onward as the evening closed, and the shadows of the cypress-trees fell darker around. Two females of the lower rank cast their eyes on the sleeper. "Holy Maria!" said one, "if he does not put me in mind of the Eastern tale, how the Genie brought a gallant young prince from his nuptial chamber in Egypt, and left him sleeping at the gate of Damascus. I will awake the poor lamb, lest he catch harm from the night dew."
"Harm?" answered the older and crosser looking woman. "Ay, such harm as the cold water of the Cydnus does to the wild-swan. A lamb?—ay, forsooth! Why he's a wolf or a bear, at least a Varangian, and no modest matron would exchange a word with such an unmannered barbarian. I'll tell you what one of, these English Danes did to me"——
So saying, she drew on her companion, who followed with some reluctance, seeming to listen to her gabble, while she looked back upon the sleeper.
The total disappearance of the sun, and nearly at the same time the departure of the twilight, which lasts so short time in that tropical region—one of the few advantages which a more temperate climate possesses over it, being the longer continuance of that sweet and placid light—gave signal to the warders of the city to shut the folding leaves of the Golden Gate, leaving a wicket lightly bolted for the passage of those whom business might have detained too late without the walls, and indeed for all who chose to pay a small coin. The position and apparent insensibility of the Varangian did not escape those who had charge of the gate, of whom there was a strong guard, which belonged to the ordinary Greek forces.
"By Castor and by Pollux," said the centurion—for the Greeks swore by the ancient deities, although they no longer worshipped them, and preserved those military distinctions with which "the steady Romans shook the world," although they were altogether degenerated from their original manners—"By Castor and Pollux, comrades, we cannot gather gold in this gate, according as its legend tells us: yet it will be our fault if we cannot glean a goodly crop of silver; and though the golden age be the most ancient and honourable, yet in this degenerate time it is much if we see a glimpse of the inferior metal."
"Unworthy are we to follow the noble centurion Harpax," answered one of the soldiers of the watch, who showed the shaven head and the single tuft [Footnote: One tuft is left on the shaven head of the Moslem, for the angel to grasp by when conveying him to Paradise.] of a Mussulman, "if we do not hold silver a sufficient cause to bestir ourselves, when there has been no gold to be had—as, by the faith of an honest man, I think we can hardly tell its colour—whether out of the imperial treasury, or obtained at the expense of individuals, for many long moons !"
"But this silver," said the centurion, "thou shalt see with thine own eye, and hear it ring a knell in the purse which holds our common stock." "Which did hold it, as thou wouldst say, most valiant commander," replied the inferior warder; "but what that purse holds now, save a few miserable oboli for purchasing certain pickled potherbs and salt fish, to relish our allowance of stummed wine, I cannot tell, but willingly give my share of the contents to the devil, if either purse or platter exhibits symptom of any age richer than the age of copper."
"I will replenish our treasury," said the centurion, "were our stock yet lower than it is. Stand up close by the wicket, my masters. Bethink you we are the Imperial Guards, or the guards of the Imperial City, it is all one, and let us have no man rush past us on a sudden;—and now that we are on our guard, I will unfold to you—But stop," said the valiant centurion, "are we all here true brothers? Do all well understand the ancient and laudable customs of our watch—keeping all things secret which concern the profit and advantage of this our vigil, and aiding and abetting the common cause, without information or treachery?"
"You are strangely suspicious to-night," answered the sentinel. "Methinks we have stood by you without tale-telling in matters which were more weighty. Have you forgot the passage of the jeweller—which was neither the gold nor silver age; but if there were a diamond one"—
"Peace, good Ismail the Infidel," said the centurion,—"for, I thank Heaven, we are of all religions, so it is to be hoped we must have the true one amongst us,—Peace, I say; it is unnecessary to prove thou canst keep new secrets, by ripping up old ones. Come hither—look through the wicket to the stone bench, on the shady side of the grand porch—tell me, old lad, what dost thou see there?"
"A man asleep," said Ismail. "By Heaven, I think from what I can see by the moonlight, that it is one of those barbarians, one of those island dogs, whom the Emperor sets such store by!"
"And can thy fertile brain," said the centurion, "spin nothing out of his present situation, tending towards our advantage?"
"Why, ay," said Ismail; "they have large pay, though they are not only barbarians, but pagan dogs, in comparison with us Moslems and Nazarenes. That fellow hath besotted himself with liquor, and hath not found his way home to his barracks in good time. He will be severely punished, unless we consent to admit him; and to prevail on us to do so, he must empty the contents of his girdle."
"That, at least—that, at least," answered the soldiers of the city watch, but carefully suppressing their voices, though they spoke in an eager tone. "And is that all that you would make of such an opportunity?" said Harpax, scornfully. "No, no, comrades. If this outlandish animal indeed escape us, he must at least leave his fleece behind. See you not the gleams from his headpiece and his cuirass? I presume these betoken substantial silver, though it may be of the thinnest. There lies the silver mine I spoke of, ready to enrich the dexterous hands who shall labour it."
"But," said timidly a young Greek, a companion of their watch lately enlisted in the corps, and unacquainted with their habits, "still this barbarian, as you call him, is a soldier of the Emperor; and if we are convicted of depriving him of his arms, we shall be justly punished for a military crime."
"Hear to a new Lycurgus come to teach us our duty!" said the centurion. "Learn first, young man, that the metropolitan cohort never can commit a crime; and next, of course, that they can never be convicted of one. Suppose we found a straggling barbarian, a Varangian, like this slumberer, perhaps a Frank, or some other of these foreigners bearing unpronounceable names, while they dishonour us by putting on the arms and apparel of the real Roman soldier, are we, placed to defend an important post, to admit a man so suspicious within our postern, when the event may probably be to betray both the Golden Gate and the hearts of gold who guard it,—to have the one seized, and the throats of the others handsomely cut?"
"Keep him without side of the gate, then," replied the novice, "if you think him so dangerous. For my part, I should not fear him, were he deprived of that huge double-edged axe, which gleams from under his cloak, having a more deadly glare than the comet which astrologers prophesy such strange things of."
"Nay, then, we agree together," answered Harpax, "and you speak like a youth of modesty and sense; and I promise you the state will lose nothing in the despoiling of this same barbarian. Each of these savages hath a double set of accoutrements, the one wrought with gold, silver, inlaid work, and ivory, as becomes their duties in the prince's household; the other fashioned of triple steel, strong, weighty, and irresistible. Now, in taking from this suspicious character his silver helmet and cuirass, you reduce him to his proper weapons, and you will see him start up in arms fit for duty."
"Yes," said the novice; "but I do not see that this reasoning will do more than warrant our stripping the Varangian of his armour, to be afterwards heedfully returned to him on the morrow, if he prove a true man. How, I know not, but I had adopted some idea that it was to be confiscated for our joint behoof."
"Unquestionably," said Harpax; "for such has been the rule of our watch ever since the days of the excellent centurion Sisyphus, in whose time it first was determined, that all contraband commodities or suspicious weapons, or the like, which were brought into the city during the nightwatch, should be uniformly forfeited to the use of the soldiery of the guard; and where the Emperor finds the goods or arms unjustly seized, I hope he is rich enough to make it up to the sufferer."
"But still—but still," said Sebastes of Mitylene, the young Greek aforesaid, "were the Emperor to discover"—
"Ass!" replied Harpax, "he cannot discover, if he had all the eyes of Argus's tail.—Here are twelve of us sworn according to the rules of the watch, to abide in the same story. Here is a barbarian, who, if he remembers any thing of the matter—which I greatly doubt—his choice of a lodging arguing his familiarity with the wine-pot—tells but a wild tale of losing his armour, which we, my masters," (looking round to his companions,) "deny stoutly—I hope we have courage enough for that—and which party will be believed? The companions of the watch, surely!"