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that of the Christians; the double walls were reduced by the cannon to a heap of ruins; in a circuit of several miles, souic places must be found more easy of access or more feebly guarded; and, if the besiegers could penetrate in a single point, the whole city was irrecoverably lost. The first who deserved the sultan's reward was Hassan, the Janizary, of giganticstature and strength. With his scimetar in one hand and his buckler in the other, he ascended the outward fortification; of the thirty Janizaries, who were emulous of his valour, eighteen perished in the bold adventure. Hassan and his twelve companions had reached the summit: the giant was precipitated from the rampart; he rose on one knee, and was again oppressed by a shower of darts and stones. But his success had proved that the achievement was possible: the walls ami towers were instantly covered with a swarm of Turks; and the Greeks, now driven from the vantage ground, were overwhelmed by increasing multitudes. Amidst these multitudes, the emperor, who accomplished all the duties of a general and a soldier, was long seen, and finally lost. The nobles who fought round his person sustained, till their last breath, the honourable names of Pahvologus and Cantacuzene: >:i his mournful exclamation was heard, '' Cannot there be found a Christian to cut off my head/" and his last fear was that of falling alive into the hands of the infidels. The prudent despair of Constat)tine cast away the purple; amidst the tumult, he fell by an unknown hand, and his body was buried under a mountain of the slain. After his death, resistance and order were no more; the Greeks fled towards the city; and many were pressed and stifled in the narrow pass of the gate of St. Kotnanus. The victorious Turks rushed through the breaches of the inner wall; and. as they advanced into the streets, they wore soon joined by their brethren, who had toned the gate Pheuar on the side of the harbour. In the first heat of the pursuit, about two thousand Christians were put to the sword; but avarice soon prevailed over cruelty; ami the victors acknowledged that they shouiil immediately have given quarter, if the valour of the emperor and his chosen hands had not prepared them for a similar opposition in every part of the capital. Tn was thus, after a siege of fifty-three days, that Constantinople, which had defied the power of Chosrops.n the Cha
13 The names of several Byzantine emperors.
14 A Persian king, who In ihe seventh century
besieged Constantinople for ten years.
gan,'^ and the caliphs,)" was irretrievably subdued by the arms of Mahomet the Second. Her empire only had been subverted by the Latins: her religion was trampled in the dust by the Moslem conquerors.
GILBERT WHITE (1720-1793)
From THE NATURAL HISTORY OF
Selborne,* Nov. 23, 1773. To the Honourable Dames Bairinyton. Dear Sir,
In obedience to your injunctions I sit down to give you some account of the house martin or martlet; and, if my monography of this little domestic and familiar bird should happen to meet with your approbation, I may probably soon extend my inquiries to the rest of the British Hirunrlines—the swallow, the swift, and the bank martin.
A few house martins begin to appear about the 16th of April; usually some few days later than the swallow. For some time after they appear, the Hinindimx in general pay no attention to the business of nidification, but play and sport about either to recruit from the fatigue of their journey, if they do migrate at all, or else that their blood may recover its true tone and texture after it has been so long benumbed by the severities of winter. About the middle of May, if the weather be fine, the martin begins to think in earnest of providing a mansion for its family. The crust or shell of this nest seems to be formed of such dirl or loam as comes most readily to hand, and is tempered and wrought together with little bit*, of broken Btraws to render it tough and tenacious. As this bird often builds against a perpendicular wall without any projecting ledge under, it requires its utmost efforts to get the first foundation firmly fixed, so that it may safely carry the superstructure. On this occasion the bird not only clings with its claws, but partly supports itself by strongly inclining its tail against the wall, making that a fulcrum; and thus steadied, it works and plasters the materials into the face of the brick or stone. But then, that this work may not, while it is soft and green, pull itself down by its own
is Title of the king of the Avars, ally of Chosroes. i« Ottoman sovereigns.
• A parish In Hampshire. Kngland. where White lived and made the observations Id natural history which were communicated to his friends. Thomas Pennant and Dalnes Harrington.
"eight, the provident architect has prudence and, forbearance enough not to advance her "ork too fast; but by building only in the morning, and by dedicating the rest of the day ti> food and amusement, gives it sufficient time !u dry and harden. About half an inch seems to be a sufficient layer for a day. Thus careful workmen when they build mud walls (int"riiied at first perhaps by this little bird) raise but a moderate layer at a time, and then ■lesist; lest the work should become top-heavy, and so be ruined by its own weight. By this method in about ten or twelve days is formed :m hemispheric nest with a small aperture towards the top, strong, compact, and warm; and perfectly fitted for all the purposes for which it was intended. But then nothing is common than for the house sparrow, as as the shell is finished, to seize on it as its own, to eject the owner, and to line it after its own manner.
After so much labour is bestowed in erecting a mansion, as Nature seldom works in vain, martins will breed on for several years together in the same nest, where it happens to be well sheltered and secure from the injuries of weather. The shell or crust of the nest is a sort of rustic-work full of knobs and protuberances on the outside: nor is the inside of those that I have examined smoothed with any exactness at all; but is rendered soft and warm, and fit for incubation, by a lining of small straws, grasses, and feathers; and sometimes by a bed of mora interwoven with wool. In this nest the hen lays from three 1 > five white eggs.
As the young of small birds presently arrive at their hflikia, or full growth, they soon become impatient of confinement, and sit all day with their heads out at the orifice, where | the dams, by clinging to the nest, supply them with food from morning to night. For a time the young are fed on the wing by their parents; but the feat is done by so quick and almost imperceptible a sleight, that a person must have attended very exactly to their motions before he would be able to perceive it.
As soon as the young are able to shift for themselves, the dams immediately turn their thoughts to the business of a second brood: while the first flight, shaken off and rejected by their nurses, congregate in great flocks, and are the birds that are seen clustering and hovering on sunny mornings and evenings round towers and steeples, and on the roofs of churches and houses. These congregatings usually begin to take place about the first week in August; and therefore we may conclude that by that time the first flight is pretty well
over. The young of this species do not quit their abodes all together, but the more forward birds get abroad some days before the rest. These, approaching the eaves of buildings, and playing about before them, make people think that several old ones attend one nest. They are often capricious in fixing on a nestingplace, beginning many edifices, and leaving them unfinished; but when once a nest is completed in a sheltered place, it serves for several seasons. Those which breed in a readyfinished house get the start, in hatching, of ihose tliiit build new, by ten days or a fortnight. These industrious artificers are at their labours in the long days before four in the morning: when they fix their materials, they plaster them on with their chins, moving their heads with a quick vibratory motion. They dip and wash as they fly sometimes in very hot weather, but not so frequently as swallows. It has been observed that martins usually build to a north-east or north-west aspect, that the heat of the sun may not crack and destroy their nests: but instances are also remembered where they bred for many-years in vast abundance in a hot stifled inn-yard, against a wall facing to the south.
Birds in general are wise in their choice of situation: but in this neighbourhood, every summer, is seen a strong proof to the contrary at a house without eaves in an exposed district where some martins build year by year in the corners of the windows. But, as the corners of these windows (which face to the south-east and south-west) are too shallow, the nests are washed down every hard rain; and yet these birds drudge on to no purpose from summer to summer, without changing their aspect or house. It is a piteous sight, to sec them labouring when half their nest is washed away, and bringing dirt—"generis lapti garcire ruinas.Thus is instinct a most wonderful unequal faculty, in some instances so much above reason, in other respects so far below it! Martins love to frequent towns, especially if there are great lakes and rivers at hand; nay, they even affect the close air of London. And T have not only seen them nesting in the Borough.- but even in the Strand and Fleet Street; but then it was obvious from the dinginess of their aspect that their feathers partook of the filth of that sooty atmosphere. Martins are by far the least agile of the four species; their wings and tails are short, and
therefore they are not capable of such surprising turns and quick and glancing evolutions as the swallow. Accordingly they make use of a placid easy motion in a middle region of the air, seldom mounting to any great height, and never sweeping long together over the surface of the ground or water. They do not wander far for food, but affect sheltered districts, over some lake, or under some hanging ■wood, or in some hollow vale, especially in windy weather. They breed the latest of all the swallow kind; in 1772 they had nestlings on to October the 21st, and are never without unfledged young as late as Michaelmas.3
As the summer declines, the congregating flocks increase in numbers daily, by the constant accession of the second broods; till at last they swarm in myriads upon myriads round the villages on the Thames, darkening the face of the sky as they frequent the aits* of that river where they roost. They retire (the bulk of them, I mean) in vast flocks together, about the beginning of October: but have appeared of late years in a considerable flight in this neighbourhood, for one day or two, as late as November the 3rd and 6th after they wore supposed to have been gone for more than a fortnight. They therefore withdraw with us the latest of any species. Unless these birds are very shortlived indeed, or unless they do not return to the district where they are bred, they must undergo vast devastations somehow, anil somewhere; for the birds that return yearly bear no manner of proportion to the birds that retire.
House martins are distinguished from their congeners by having their legs covered with soft downy feathers down to their toes. They are no songsters; but twitter in a pretty inward soft manner in their nests. During the time of breeding, they are often greatly molested with fleas.—Letter XVI (or LV).
Selborne, April 21, 1780.
The old Sussex tortoise, that I have mentioned to you so often, is become my property. I dug it out of its winter dormitory in March last, when it was enough awakened to express its resentment by hissing; and, packing it in a box with earth, carried it eighty miles in post chaises. The rattle and hurry of the journey so perfectly roused it, that, when T turned it out on a border, it walked twice down to the bottom of my garden: however, in the evening, the weather being cold, it buried it
8 Sept. 20. * Islets
self in the loose mould, aud continues still concealed.
As it will be under my eye, I shall now have an opportunity of enlarging my observations on its mode of life and propensities; and perceive already that, towards the time of coming forth, it opens a breathing place in the ground near its head, requiring, I conclude, a freer respiration as it becomes more alive. This creature not only goes under the earth from the middle of November to the middle of April, but sleeps great part of the summer; for it goes to bed in the longest days at four in the afternoon, and often does not stir in the morning till late. Besides, it retires to rest for every shower; and does not move at all in wet days.
When one reflects on the state of this strange being, it is a matter of wonder to find that Providence should bestow such a profusion of days, such a seeming waste of longevity, on a reptile that appears to relish it so little as to squander more than two-thirds of its existence in a joyless stupor, and be lost to all sensation for months together in the profoundest of slumbers.
While I was writing this letter, a moist and warm afternoon, with the thermometer at 50, brought forth troops of shell-snails; and, at the same juncture, the tortoise heaved up the mould and put out its head; and the next morning came forth, as it were raised from the dead; and walked about till four in the afternoon. This was a curious coincidence! a very amusing occurrence! to see such a similarity of feelings between the two phereoiloil for so the Greeks call both the shell-snail and the tortoise.— Letter L (or XCII).
More Particulars Respecting the Old Family Tortoise.
Because we call this creature an abject reptile, we arc too apt to undervalue his abilities, and depreciate his powers of instinct. Yet he is, as Mr. Pope says of his lord,*
'Much too wise to walk into a well:'
and has so much discernment as not to fall down a haha;> but to stop and withdraw from the brink with the readiest precaution.
Though he loves warm weather, he avoids the hot sun; because his thick shell, when once heated, would, as the poet says of solid armour, 'scald with safety.' He therefore spends the more sultry hours under the umbrella of a
5 A hedge in a ditch,
* Imitations vl Horace, II, ii, 191.
largo cabbage leaf, or amidst the waving forests of an asparagus bed.
But as he avoids heat in the summer, so, in the decline of the year, he improves the faint ;iutumnal beams, by getting within the reflection of a fruit-wall: and, though he never has read that planes inclining to the horizon receive a greater share of warmth, he inclines his shell by tilting it against the wall, to collect and admit every feeble ray.
Pitiable seems the condition of this poor embarrassed reptile; to be cased in a suit of ponderous armour, which he cannot lay aside; to be imprisoned, as it were, within his own shell, must preclude, we should suppose, all activity and disposition for enterprise. Yet there is a season of the year (usually the beginning of June) when his exertions are remarkable. He then walks on tiptoe, and is stirring by five in the morning; and, traversing the garden, examines every wicket and interstice in the fences, through which he will escape if possible; and often has eluded the care of the gardener, and wandered to some distant field.—The Antiquities of Selborne.
EDMUND BURKE (1729-1797)
From The SPEECH AT BRISTOL, 1780*
Since you have suffered me to trouble you so much on this subject, permit me, gentlemen, to detain you a little longer. I am indeed most solicitous to give you perfect satisfaction. I find there are some of a better and softer nature than the persons with whom I have supposed myself in debate, who neither think ill of the Act of Belief, nor by any means deBire the repeal; yet who, not accusing but lamenting what was done, on account of the consequences, have frequently expressed their wish that the late Act had never been made. Some of this description, and persons of worth, I have met with in this city. They conceive that the prejudices, whatever they might bo, of a large part of the people ought not to have been shocked; that their opinions ought to have been previously taken, and much attended to; and that thereby the late horrid scenes might have been prevented.
• In 1600 a most tyrannical law against Roman Catholics hud been passed. The abolition of this law In 1778, by the Act of Relief, aroused some fanatical opposition expressed In cries of "No Popery" and in the Lord George Gordon riots. Kurke Is defending before his constituents his support of the repeal. Sir Samuel Homilly called the entire speech "perhaps the first piece of oratory In our language."
I confess my notions are widely different, and I never was less sorry for any action of my life. I like the bill the better on account of the events of all kinds that followed it. It relieved the real sufferers; it strengthened the state; and, by the disorders that ensued, we had clear evidence that there lurked a temper somewhere which ought not to be fostered by the laws. No ill consequences whatever could be attributed to the Act itself. We knew beforehand, or we were poorly instructed, that toleration is odious to the intolerant; freedom to oppressors; property to robbers; and all kinds and degrees of prosperity to the envious. We knew that all these kinds of men would gladly gratify their evil dispositions under the sanction of law and religion if they could; if they could not, yet, to make way to their objects, they would do their utmost to subvert all religion and all law. This we certainly knew; but, knowing this, is there any reason, because thieves break in and steal, and thus bring detriment to you, and draw ruin on themselves, that I am to be sorry that you are in the possession of shops, and of warehouses, and of wholesome laws to protect them} Are you to build no houses because desperate men may pull them down upon their own heads! Or, if a malignant wretch will cut his own throat because he sees you give alms to the necessitous ami deserving, shall his destruction be attributed to your charity, and not to his own deplorable madness? If we repent of our good actions, what, I pray you, is left for our faults and follicsf It is not the beneficence of the laws, it is the unnatural temper, which beneficence can fret and sour, that is to be lamented. It is this temper which, by all rational means, ought to be sweetened and corrected. If froward men should refuse this cure, can they vitiate anything but themselves} Does evil so react upon good as not only to retard its motion, but to change its nature? If it can so operate, then good men will always be in the power of the bad; and virtue, by a dreadful reverse of order, must lie under perpetual subjection and bondage to vice.
As to the opinion of the people, which some think, in such cases, is to be implicitly obeyed. —Nearly two years' tranquillity which followed the Act, and its instant imitation in Ireland, proved abundantly that the late horrible spirit was, in a great measure, the effect of insidious art, and perverse industry, and gross misrepresentation. But suppose that the dislike had been much more deliberate and much more general than I am persuaded it was. When we know that the opinions of even the greatest multitudes are the standard of rectitude, I shall think myself obliged to make those opinions the masters of my conscience; but if it may be doubted whether Omnipotence itself is competent to alter the essential constitution of right and wrong, sure I am that such things as they and I are possessed of no such power. No man carries further than 1 do the policy of making government pleasing to the people; but the widest range of this politic complaisance is confined within the limits of justice. I would not only consult the interest of the people, but I would cheerfully gratify their humours. We are all a sort of children that must be soothed and managed. I think I am not austere or formal in my nature. 1 would bear, I would even myself play my part in, any innocent buffooneries to divert them; but I never w ill act the tyrant for their amusement. If they will mix malice in their sports, I shall never consent to throw them any Jiving sentient creature whatsoever, no, not so much as a kitling, to torment.
"But, if I profess all this impolitic stubbornness, 1 may chance never to be elected into Parliament." It is certainly not pleasing to be put out of the public service; but I wish to be a member of Parliament to have my share of doing good and resisting evil. It would therefore be absurd to renounce my objects in order to obtain my seat. I deceive myself indeed most grossly if I had not much rather pass the remainder of my life hidden in the recesses of the deepest obscurity, feeding my mind even with the visions and imaginations of suc h things, than to be placed on the most splendid throne of the universe, tantalized with a denial of the practice of all which can make the greatest situation any other than the greatest curse. Gentlemen, I have had my day. I can never sufficiently express my gratitude to you for having set me in a place wherein I could lend the slightest help to great and laudable designs. If I have had my share in any measure giving quiet to private property and private conscience; if by my vote I have aided in securing to families the best possession, peace; if I have joined in reconciling kings to their subjects, and subjects to their j prince; if I have assisted to loosen the foreign j holdings of the citizen, and taught him to look for his protection to the laws of his country. I and for his comfort to the good-will of his countrymen; if I have thus taken my part with the best of men in the best of their actions, I can shut the book—1 might wish to read a |
page or two more, but this is enough for my measure—I have not lived in vain.
And now, gentlemen, on this serious day, when I come, as it were, to make up my account with you, let me take to myself some degree of honest pride on the nature of the charges that are against me. I do nut here stand before you accused of venality, or of neglect of duty. It is not said that, in the long period of my service, I have in a single instance sacrificed the slightest of your interests to my ambition, or to my fortune. It is not alleged that, to gratify any anger or revenge of my own or of my party, I have had a share in wronging or oppressing any description of men, or any one man in any description. No! the charges against me are all of one kind: that I have pushed the principles of general justice and benevolence too far, further than a cautious policy would warrant, and further than the opinions of many would go along with me. In every accident which may happen through life—in pain, in sorrow, in depression ami distress—I will call to mind this accusation, and be comforted.
From REFLECTIONS OX THE KEVOLUTION' IX FRANCE*
Yielding to reasons, at least as forcible as those which were so delicately urged in the compliment on the new year,t the king of France will probably endeavour to forget these events and that compliment. But history, who keeps a durable record of all our acts, and exercises her awful censure over the proceedings of all sorts of sovereigns, will not forget either those events, or the era of this liberal refinement1 in the intercourse of mankind. History will record, that on the morning of the Oth of October, 1789, the king and queen of France, after a day of confusion, alarm, dismay, and slaughter, lay down, under the pledged security of public faith, to indulge nature in a few hours of respite, and troubled, melancholy repose. From this sleep the queen was first startled by the voice of the sentinel at her door, who cried out to her to save herself by flight—that this was the last proof of
i Spoken sarcastically: see beginning of third paragraph.
• These reflections grew out of a correspondence which Uurke had with "a very young gentleman of Paris," and they retain the tone of a personal letter. They were published In 1790.
i An address from the Assembly had been presented to the King and Queen Jan. 3. liftO. felicitating them upon the new year and begging them to forget the past In view of the good they might do in the future.