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Argument. The City begins to be straitened, but is relieved by the arrival of five
ships, which, after a sharp contest, force their way through the whole of the Turkish fleet, which inflames Mahomet to renewed attacks by sea and land. He again assaults the walls; but, before his troops can pass the ditch, the breaches are closed by new ramparts raised within by the Christians. He reconnoitres the whole extent of the City by land, but sees no possibility of success, till be can destroy the ships in the harbour: for this purpose, he conducts upwards of one hundred vessels over land, from the ocean to the haven; and in one night launches them in the inner harbour, within the chain : by these means having destroyed, after a desperate fight, the Christian fleet, he throws an immense bridge across the harbour, and completes the investment of the City.
CONSTANTINOPLE! now thy cruel foe
Reduced thee daily to the deepest woe;
No friends, no succours, had arriv'd to cheer
Thy drooping spirits, or dispel thy fear:
Thine own pale haggard forms alone were seen
To brave the foe, or pass thy streets between:
Thousands who wish'd thee well, were far away,
And others left thee a devoted prey :
None could by land approach thee, and the sea
Appear'd subjected to thine enemy;
For there bis ships in triumph seen’d to ride,
Proclaiming him sole monarch of the tide.
As oft, when blackest clouds the heavens deform,
One little streak of light breaks through the storm,
Which, spreading as the darkness rolls away,
Shines out at last in bright and joyous day;
So, o'er the ocean's verge, a sight arose
That cheer'd the city, spite of all her woes.
Five vessels seem'd to spring from out the deep,
And straight to port their fearless passage keep :
Five goodly ships, that dash'd the surge aside,
And rode the waters with majestic pride ;
Christian they were, and mighty in their name,
And well appointed to preserve its fame;
And mann'd with heroes, who, devoid of fear,
Beheld the Turkish fleet approaching near,
To take them captive, or their aim defeat,
And chase them in inglorious retreat.
In hundreds they bebeld them stretch before
The harbour's mouth, and reach from shore to shore :
very sea was darken'd by their host,
That seem'd from human aid to bar that coast.
Soon as they saw, they deem'd those barks their prey,
And bore down fearless to th' unequal fray;
At once to sink them in the closing waves,
And guide their keels above the Christians' graves.
Alas! they little knew what hearts were there,
Unknown to fear, and strangers to despair.
That little fleet ne'er tarn'd one prow aside,
But all the foes' gigantic power defied;
Kept on its straight, undeviating course,
And dash'd into the midst of all that force;
Then loos'd at once its thunders on the foe,
And strew'd his decks with death at every blow.
The Turkish vessels reel'd beneath the shock,
As if their planks were sunder'd by a rock ;
And thro' the clouds of smoke burst the red flash
Before the balls the beams were heard to crash,
Yards, sails, and masts, were scatter'd in the air,
Aud shouts of rage, and cries of wild despair,
Burst 'twixt the intervening cannon's roar,
And reach'd in fearfnl echoes to the shore,
Swift to the strand the Turkish army flew,
That desperate and unequal fight to view ;
And thence beheld, with mingled shame and ire,
The crescent shrinkiug from the Christian's fire,-
Bebeld their vessels scatter'd o'er the sea,
And foil'd and beaten by an enemy,
Whose feebler force they thought could uever bear
The fierce attack they met and baffled there.
With loud, exulting shouts, they tried in vain
T' inspire their shrinking brethren to maintain
The conflict, and assert tlie empire of the main.
And Mahontet, from the shore, inflam’d with rage,
Whose storm of passion nothing could assuage,
Beheld bis baffled ships with eyes of fire,
And pour’d his wrath in execrations dire,
And grasp'd his useless sword, and tore his hair,
And with appalling curses fill'd the air ;
And would have plung'd his charger in the flood,
If not withheld, to reach the scene of blood !
But all in vain he chafed, he saw his fleet
Foild and disabled, in dispers'd retreat;
And some had sunk in whirlpools down the deep,
With all their crews in death's eternal sleep;
fearless hearts had found their graves,
And hands were seen uprising thro' the waves ;
And eyes, almost immers'd, to heaven were rais'd,
Ere they their last on earth or ocean gaz'd ;
And many a thought of objects dear arose,
Before the waters thought and feeling froze :
While others battled with the billows long,
In whom the hope and love of life were strong ;
Till o'er their siuking forms the surges clos'd,
And they in death beneath the flood repos’d.
All-all was ended,—and the sea serene,
And the wind gently sporting o'er the scene,
As if those waves had clos'd on no despair,
Nor the air rang with recent thunders there :
While the few ships, that made those hundreds quail,
Enter'd the harbour with triumphant sail ;
Receiv'd their friends' proud shouts, the praise of all,
And dropt their anchors by the city wall.
Regions there are within earth's ample round, Where Wempests rage, and peace is seldom found; The mountains there that lift their heads on high, Bear all the wrath of an infuriate sky; The lightnings sear them, and the thunders rend, And ceaseless torrents wear as they descend ; And the black surges that beneath them flow, All the dark wildness of the tempest show. Scarce know those hills in suppy peace to shine --Those waters to reflect a face divine : So stood the city, still elate in pride, While burst th’unceasing storm on every side ; The wrath of earth and heaven seem'd gathering there, And day and night the thunders rent the air ; If silence reign'd for one short space around, 'Twas to be broken by a tenfold sound ! What wonder then those shaken walls display'd The havoc such unceasing shocks had made: Had they been fix'd by more than mortal hand, They scarce could such incessant bolts withstand; Beneath whose power e’en mountains might have bent, And granite rocks have fallen, crush'd and rent.
There seem'd approaching now—the close of all; Wide gaps, disfiguring the broken wall, Yawn'd to invite the foe to enter there, And whelm at once the city in despair,
But he must still surmount another toil,
Ere all his power could grasp the destin'd spoil:
The waters flowing round the wall, denied
Those legions entrance, and their guns
defied. And now into the ditch vast stones
Above whose sinking mass the waters curl ;
And heaps of earth into the flood they throw,
To intercept its waters as they flow;
While balls, and darts, and arrows from the wall,
Doom hundreds as they labour there to fall;
Whose mangled corses, thrown into the flood,
Ting'd all the water with the hue of blood;
Aiding e'en d. ad the end they toil'd to gain,
To join the city to th' embatiled plain;
From whence the anxious legions rushing in,
The great, sole object, of the war might win :
But the besieged not yet had fallen so low,
As tamely thus to yield them to the foe,-
Ere those could fill the ditch their ranks to bear,
Another wall within they toil'd to rear,
And every breach clos'd fast upon the sight,
Mocking the foe 'midst all his toil and might:
The domes within again were clos'd from view,
And the foil'd legions to the plain withdrew.
Dire was the wrath that fired the Tyrant's breast, Flash'd from his eyes, and all his soul possess'd: He who had ever strode the conquer'd field, And scarce met foe he had not forc'd to yield; Whose will was never baffled till this hour,– Whose threat was destiny,whose word was power; If aught could make a soul so fierce despair, That withering passion must have seized him there! Must he behold, from day to day, his fame Eclipsed by those few foes of hated name? Must he behold his proudest legions fall, And find their graves beneath that iron wall? Or save them for another field by flight, And leave his honour there entonb'd in night: Fly! rather he and they should perish too, Than he forsake the glorious prize in view.
Ah! what-to all those thousands battling there What was the boon that they could hope to share ? If they escap'd destruction then, would they Divide with him the splendour and the sway? Be each a monarch on his little throne, With all they stak'd their being for-their own? Else would they thus encounter wounds and death,For his ambition,-fame,-resign their breath?
If life man's best and dearest blessing be,
Thus would they lavish it on such as he;
And dash it to the dust, that one alone
Might gain a wider realm,-a higher throne ?
Alas! those hosts that there escap'd their graves,
Would be but what they were before,—his slaves !
Look'd on with scorn,-coerced with iron rod,-
Trod in the dust, and trembling at his nod.
Some little plunder-squanderd in an hour;
Some days of riot, till repress’d by power;
--some flattery,--soon to be forgot;
Then death their unrecorded names to blot:
These,—these were all that they could hope to claim
From that proud field of conquest and of fame!
Aș when some hungry lion, scenting prey, Follows the traveller whom he seeks to slay; Who, when he tracks him to his guarding home, Lingers unwilling from the spot to roam; And paces round and round, as if he sought To find some entrance to his prey, or thought His hunted victim, with unwary feet, Might venture to forsake that safe retreat: So did the Sultan pace the city round, As if he hoped some spot might still be found Left weak-defenceless, in unguarded hour, Where he might enter with resistless power, And make the great contested prize his own; There sate his vengeance, and there fix his throne; But found each part secur’d with watchful care, And heard the ceaseless preparation there : He scarcely hoped the glorious prize to gain, And long'd to tread those golden streets in vain. Oft had his fearless troops assail'd the wall,As oft in slaughter'd heaps been seen to fall; Oft had his feet the haven's mouth assail'd, As oft the Christian ships within prevailid, And drove them back with thunders to the main, Where the surge echoed as they tomb’d the slain.
The shades of night were round the Tyrant's tent, Where be, with dark, conflicting passions rent, Now curs'd the city's self-devotion, pride, Apd courage, that so long his arms defied, Now ponder'd various plans that fill’d his mind, By which he hoped his troops might entrance find, But deem'd them useless, while the city's fleet Within the harbour found a safe retreat; And gave such aid in every needful hour, As placed one part at least beyond his power,